Posts Tagged ‘incarcerated’

gratitude0Being the parent of a wayward child who struggles with an addiction, is incarcerated, self-injures, is in a same-sex relationship, suffers with a brain disorder or a host of other issues, makes this a most difficult time of year. Giving thanks is so hard – downright torturous –  when your heart is heavy and broken; when you don’t see any answers to your prayers; when you have no idea what the future holds, but it doesn’t look good. It can feel impossible.

I remember a time like this in my own life when I was thought, “How in the world can I be thankful? It’s too hard. I don’t know how. I can’t.”

So, how can you express gratitude in the midst of this trial with your child? (more…)


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Has it been a really long time since you’ve seen your child? Do your eyes long to see them, your arms ache to hold them? Are they deep into addiction; in a mental hospital; incarcerated; estranged from you for some reason? Has it been quite surprised-man-awhile since they wanted to be with you so much that they hugged you in tears? Maybe you don’t think this could ever possibly happen.

The Old Testament tells us about a parent who got a big surprise one day:

“. . . As soon as Joseph appeared before him (Jacob, the father he hadn’t seen in twenty years since his brothers sold him off as a slave), he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time (Genesis 46:29b).”

The father in this verse thought his son was long dead. He’d grieved the loss and moved on. He certainly never imagined this day was possible. I’m sure he never asked God for it either. It was over. Done.

But you never know what tomorrow holds. Tomorrow just might have a surprise for you. When God is involved, things you never thought possible could happen.

I remember a time when my daughter, then 19, had relapsed after four months in rehab and some time in a half-way house. She was out on the streets again and didn’t want anything to do with her dad or me. She was deeply involved in drug and alcohol abuse; was a self-injurer (cutting) and bipolar (untreated).

I knew the risks of losing her were high. In my heart I felt as though she’d already died. I began grieving her death. It was an agonizing time of deep pain. I held out little hope for a loving reconciliation, though my whole being longed for it. I knew God could do it, but would it happen for us?

Then something amazing happened. A totally unexpected surprise I never saw coming. After a chain of events, my daughter agreed to go into another rehab program. We received word of these things through a mutual friend who was trying to help her.

The day of being reunited finally came (at her request – also amazing). I wondered if she would be happy to see me or not? How would she treat me? I didn’t know what to think.

I’ll never forget it. I walked into the dining area of the rehab program and as soon as my daughter saw me she came running, arms open wide, with a huge smile on her face. She threw her arms around my neck, and in tears hugged me so tight I could hardly breathe.

While we embraced, both of us crying, she whispered in my ear, “Mom, I love you soooo much! I’m so, so sorry I hurt you and dad. I can’t thank you enough for coming. It means so much to me!”

Things haven’t been perfect since then. We’ve had our ups and downs on the road to recovery, but our loving relationship has never relapsed. Every time we see each other she always gives both of us great big bear hugs – sometimes, there are tears.

Hold on dear parent. You never know what tomorrow holds. God just might be preparing a surprise for you, too!

O God, help each mom or dad reading this not lose hope and give up. Help them believe you could surprise them – even tomorrow. Encourage them as they read this post. You could reconcile them with their child, too. You could bring them home with a big hug any day. Strengthen them to wait one more day, and then another.

By your power and outstretched arm.


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soccerAre you a soccer fan? Have you been watching any of the World Cup games? My family is pretty big soccer fans. I’ve seen a number of the World Cup games recently. We watched the U.S. play this evening.  As I’ve watched the games, it occurs to me that there are some similarities with what takes place in these events and brokenhearted parents.

Parents whose children are abusing alcohol or drugs, addicted to porn, have same-sex attraction issues, struggle with self-injury, are constantly in trouble with the law, are currently incarcerated ,or struggle with mental illness are in the midst of ongoing event; the result of their struggle will affect the quality and outcome of their very lives. (more…)

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This is the third post in a three-part series for hurting parents whose children are incarcerated. Part one and two were written by Ellen Gee, mother of Daniel, who was sentenced to six years for armed robbery and grand theft auto. In the first two posts,  Ellen outlined some of the things she and her husband did to show tough love and stay connected  to their son during the difficult years he was an inmate. Today, twenty years later, we will hear from her son, Daniel. I believe he has a powerful message of hope for every hurting parent, whether your child has ever been in trouble with the law or not.

We often forget that the greatest lesson of love is pain. Ellen Gee. son blog photo

As a father, I want to run and embrace my skinned kneed child. I want to wash her pain away with my kisses and hugs. The hardest lesson parents need to learn is boundaries. Our own willingness to travel only so far down the rabbit hole.

Like a body builder gains muscle by tearing and straining them over and over, so do our children, by experience and pain. They instinctively learn the what and the how of relationships and family dynamics, and just how far they can go before it’s too late. They push and push until we’re about to break.

At least that’s what I did, until I knew I had gone too far. (more…)

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Today’s post is part two in a three-part series by Ellen Gee,  guest blogger and author. She’s writing from her personal experiences to parents who have a son or daughter who is incarcerated. Need hope? Need fresh ideas for how to love with boundaries and stay close? This post will help.

As the months went by, my husband and I realized we couldn’t help our son, Daniel (serving a six year prison sentence), by ourselves. But in order to initiate our friends and Ellen Gee family blog photofamily’s involvement, we had to convince them he wanted help. And the best way to do that was to connect them.

One by one, we called each close friend, cousin, uncle, aunt, and grandparent. We asked a simple question. Would they be willing to receive a collect call from Daniel once a week for the next six years? (more…)

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