Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

When my daughter’s choices and behaviors were breaking my heart there was nothing I could do to stop her. I was powerless to change her.  As hope9hard as I tried, I couldn’t make her stop drinking or abusing drugs, cutting herself, or accept help for her mental health problems. I felt crazy at times. It was insanity – devastating.

The day finally came when I had to admit I was powerless. Everywhere I turned was brokenness – in my own heart as well as hers. I couldn’t fix either of us. In desperation I  reached out to a power greater than myself. For me, this power was God. By turning to him I discovered  four wonderful things he could do for me if I would humble myself and admit I needed his help. I believe he can help you, too. (more…)


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My daughter has suffered for a long time now with drug and alcohol addiction, self harm, mental illness (depression/bipolar disorder) and the long-lasting effects of being raped.  For years my hope has been that she would one day be healed – physically, emotionally and spiritually.  That she would “recover” and be whole  – –  no longer controlled and effected by all of these things.   At times I have seen great progress and answers to my prayers, then at other times she regresses and I do, too.  It’s a 3 steps forward, 2 steps backward situation . . . over and over again.  You may know exactly what I am talking about.

Then there are the times of waiting.  Deep, dark valleys of waiting, hoping and longing.  When I am in that hard place, everything begins to look bleak.  Glimmers of hope flicker like a weak candle’s flame.  My heart rises with anticipation, only to fall again . . . it’s a wearisome rollercoaster ride.  Have you been on it, too?

While having these hopes is not a bad thing, I am beginning to see that God has a better hope for me (more…)

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Do you ever feel helpless to do anything for your child who is suffering with an addiction, mental illness, self harm or any other self destructive behaviors?   Join the club!  We all struggle with these feelings and they can be overwhelming.   You feel like there is no where to turn.  You feel desperate to do anything in your power to help your son or daughter.  Here are some very helpful thoughts taken from a devotional book by Robert J. Morgan called  Moments for Families with Prodigals.  It is from moment 81.  (It is available from Amazon) Morgan says we have three indomitable weapons in our fight for our children’s souls – they are code named PTL.  God wants us to be hopeful.  Here’s how.
We can pray!  Anytime, anywhere, without ceasing, while we are going about our daily routine.  As Archbishop Trench puts it, “We must not conceive of prayer as overcoming God’s reluctance, but as laying hold of His highest willingness.” His will is that none should perish.  Jesus taught us to pray and not give up; that we should believe and ask for the impossible; that anything was possible for him who believes.  Prayer is the most important and powerful thing we can do for our prodigal!
It takes time for many prodigals to come to their senses. “Maturity, recovery, and rehabilitation are processes.” Time is on our side and our times are in God’s hands.  After all, it’s taken a long time for Him to work on us, hasn’t it?  We can be confident of the promise in Phil. 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Morgan says we need to learn to tell time on God’s clock and to trust Him timing.  He knows when to work, when to wait, when the right time is.  He is never too early, never late, always right on time.  We know this in our heads, but we are not so good at waiting.  I am terrible at it.  When you begin to doubt God’s timing it’s hard to keep trusting His calendar of events.  Father, help us trust that time is on our side, because you are!
“We may not think of love as a weapon, but it sends a radioactive blanket over its target.  There is no known antidote.  Paul said, “Love never fails” (I Cor. 13:8)” and Psalms says over and over again that God’s love is unfailing.  We can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to love our child unconditionally no matter what they’ve done or how much they’ve hurt and disappointed us.  As we continue showing them His love by how we respond and interact with them this love will win them back.  Tough love changes lives.  It might not always be pretty – it might mean telling them they can’t live in your home if they persist living a lifestyle that consistently disrupts our home or is against your values.  Often the hardest and most painful thing is the most loving thing we can do.  “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Cor. 13:7 NLT)
“So the next time you wake up in the middle of the night feeling helpless, just remind yourself that you have an arsenal of weapons:  prayer, time, and love.  Together they have broken down many a stronghold and reclaimed many a life.  They are God’s weapons that he has put at your disposal.  You are not powerless after all!!  PTL!  Praise the Lord!”

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    “I can’t.  God can.  I think I’ll let him!”

I love this statement.  I think it should be the motto of every parent of a challenging, troubled child.  If your son or daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol, smoking cigarettes, cutting themselves, depressed, having sex, is suicidal, has an eating disorder, has a same sex attraction or is in trouble with the law there is nothing you can do to change them.  You are powerless.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try and do something.  Of course you want to do everything in your power to help them (offer counseling,  Baker Act them if needed,  take to a doctor or psychiatrist for an evaluation, offer rehab), but ultimately they must decide they want help or none of your efforts will do any good.  They must reach the point of being ready to change, ready to begin a new life.  Until then, sadly, all of your efforts to force them into another way of living will be futile.

I tried this with my daughter.  I was just sure that if we just took her to a counselor,  got her evaluated by a psychiatrist, got her on meds if needed, put her through a residential rehab program, brought the right people around her, etc.  etc.  then she would be “fixed”.  She would be just fine and all would be well!  I was so wrong.  I learned the hard way that I had no control over her.  I could not change her as hard as I tried.  I was truly powerless. This feeling of utter helplessness is so horrible.  The worst.  Especially when you see your beloved son or daughter destroying themselves and you can do nothing but stand by watch it happen.  Pure torture.  If you are in this situation now you know.  Gut-wrenching.  Makes you sick.  There were many days I wondered if my daughter would survive.

I had to learn to let go and wait until she wanted it for herself.  I am sure our efforts did make some deposits in her life that helped her when we was ready later on, but at the time, it was just that – a deposit she would go back to and draw on later when she was ready.  So of course you want to do that!   But until she was sick and tired of being sick and tired. . .  Until she wanted more out of life. . . until she wanted to be well no matter what it would take. . . until she wanted it for herself,  not to please me or her dad or anyone else,  she wasn’t ready.  She had to want a different life.  She had to want to live and only God could make that happen.

When the words  “I can’t.  God can.  I think I’ll let him”  describe your state of mind you can find peace in any situation, especially with your children.  I know it’s possible because I experienced it!   I think it sums up the concept of letting go and letting God pretty well.  It’s taking our hands off and trusting him to be “hands on” in their lives, doing what we can’t do.  We must keep trusting, trusting, trusting.

Our problem may be big, but God is BIGGER!

I have no power to change my child, but God is all-powerful.  He has all the power necessary to do that.

I don’t know what to do, but God knows exactly what to do.

I can do nothing to rescue them.  God can do anything to rescue them.

He can even move mountains if that is what it will take.

So, I will keep giving my child to him, stay out of the way and let him work.

“Have no anxiety about anything . . . bring your requests to God

and the peace of God will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”   (Phil. 4:6-7)

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The holidays can be so difficult for us if our children are engaging in destructive or unwise behaviors. We set ourselves up for more pain disappointment and heartache if we don’t think about this ahead of time. We can find ourselves quite depressed if we aren’t careful. The best thing we can do is to think about our “expectations”. The following 4 questions are very helpful for us to be better prepared for this time of year.

1) How do you think the holidays might be difficult for you?
Some are dreading it, wondering if there will be another crisis. It will be uncomfortable being around other family members. Will they be asking awkward questions? Realize we need to go with the moment and appreciate what you have with them now (or without them) and stop talking about how it once was. Don’t dwell on past memories (good or bad). Be thankful for them, but now focus on making new memories.

2) What might help? How do you need to adjust your expectations?

Focus on loving them and forgiving them just like they are.
Accept what is. Let go of the Walton Family Christmas “fantasy”. It’s not real.
Be flexible with your plans and expectations. Hold them loosely. Lower them. Change them. Consider doing things differently this year. Start a new tradition.
Look for a way to serve and give of yourself, your time, your energy and abilities to those in need. It will strengthen you and make you feel so much better as you shift your focus off of yourself! There are so many people who have much greater needs than we do. It reminds you that you are not alone in your struggle. Many others are struggling, too! It’s truly in giving that we receive. It’s also a natural way to feel better by releasing endorphins in your brain. So we can’t lose!

3) How might gift giving be different?
Don’t give cash or gifts that may be too easily returned for money, if your loved on is abusing substances.
Give less if it seems appropriate and gift cards are a good option. But be aware that some of them allow you to make a small purchase and get the cash back. Avoid that kind. Or you might shop at thrift stores where your gift can’t be returned.

Letting them shop for themselves also protects you from being hurt if they don’t like what you got. You might go shopping together then get coffee or something to eat afterwards.

4) How will you strengthen yourself ?

Listen to good music, especially praise and worship. It really lifts your spirits.
Read something inspirational every day; spend time in prayer and meditation seeking God’s help; hold onto His promises, reminding yourself of Truth. Go to a support group – I like Al Anon. It reminds me I’m not alone.
Keep taking one day at a time and be thankful for the little things. Make a “grateful” list. Add to it daily.
Take a nap if you need it! Get out and exercise! These things will relax and rejuvenate you!

5) What are my bottom line goals for this holiday time of year?
Decide what they are and focus on them. Remind yourself of them daily. Make notes to yourself and post them around to see and remind yourself of these goals. The birth of Christ is my main focus and all God has done for me through His son. I desire to show him my love and to show his love to others. My child is not the whole sum of my life. So I can be joyful and think more on what is really important to me about this holiday season! The choice is up to me. I can be intentional and not let the situation with my child ruin my ability to enjoy this season! I can still be joyful!

Let’s be prepared, think ahead and lower our stress level so we can enjoy the holidays!

Image used by permission of wikimedia commons

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Flowers growing out of the ashes of Mt. St. Helens

My life felt like ashes, ashes.  I wondered if I could ever laugh or smile again.  The ashes for me came from my experiences as the mom of a former prodigal daughter, Renee (now 23).

Renee kept me on my knees much of her young life as a stubborn, strong-willed child.  Even as a toddler there were many moments I found myself on my knees by my bed crying and praying desperately for wisdom and strength.  Many times I told the Lord He’d made a mistake – I wasn’t smart enough, strong enough or wise enough to know how to parent her!

Don’t get me wrong, there were many wonderful times and most of her childhood she appeared to be very happy.  Out of our three children, having genuinely received Christ when she was 4, she was the one who had the greatest spiritual depth and insight at a young age.   However, puberty brought a great sense of angst, an identity crisis and an irresistible desire to rebel.  Today Renee says she always knew “I was going to have to learn things the hard way and sometimes I would even cry over that”.  I was completely clueless about the storm that was brewing.


A glimmer of the nightmare ahead began when she was just 12 and cut herself for the first time.  She was upset about something we’d discovered that she had done, knowing she would be disciplined for.  She said the idea literally came to her out of nowhere. She’d never heard of it before and knew of no one who did this to themselves. She struggled secretly with extreme self-condemnation, feeling she had to be perfect. Unknown to us, she had also been plagued with a sense of evil and darkness all around her for years.  We now know it was a combination of depression and spiritual battle.  She thought this was “normal” so she kept it all to herself.  Even today, this still causes me pain.

Renee has suffered the ravages of alcoholism, drug addiction, self-harm (cutting), rape, suicide attempts, hospitalizations in the psych ward, several near overdoses, and several stays in residential rehab programs.  She has also been diagnosed with depression, bi-polar, an anxiety disorder and an obsessive compulsive disorder.

All of this is quite depressing to hear, I realize. I share these things to give you an idea of what God has brought me through. Things I never, ever dreamed or imagined could happen to our family.  Not my little girl!  How could it be possible?  The pain so deep, so immobilizing and crushing.  My children had been my ministry, my mission, my focus.  I had given her my whole self.   I had done my very best to be the most godly, Spirit-filled mom I could be.  To love her unconditionally, without reservation, to teach her God’s Word and model living a purposeful, meaningful life for Christ, with great passion and enthusiasm.  So how could this happen?

I was full of so much guilt and self-blame.  What did I do wrong?  What should I have done differently?  How could God let this happen to my child?  I don’t understand!  I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide from the world.  I just wanted it all to go away, to have my sweet little girl back!

My journey as the mom of a child with these severe problems was typical of a person coping with severe loss, like a death.  For this was indeed a death of sorts, the death of my hopes and dreams for my child.  Much of what I experienced felt worse than if she had died, since it included rejection (when she left home at 18, 6 weeks before high school graduation, to pursue her destructive lifestyle) and my worst nightmares coming true.  It was a living death for me that I thought I would never, ever recover from.  I certainly felt like I aged rapidly during some of these episodes.   Shock, embarrassment, shame, anger, resentment, fear, denial, grief and bargaining with God were my constant companions. What good could come of this?   


So, how has God brought beauty out of these ashes?  In ways I never dreamed possible. “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places.”  (Isaiah 45:3)  I would never have sought these treasures, but I am far richer today than before this trial began.  I have made many discoveries – about myself, about God, my relationship with Him and all my significant relationships.  This terrible experience brought me many gifts.  Author Sharon Hersch says (in her book, The Last Addiction), “I discovered the gifts of addiction.” So have I.  God’s gifts often come to us wrapped in mysterious ways.   Here are just a few that I have been given:

1 ) I have come to know my Creator on a much deeper and more intimate level than I knew was possible.  Pressing in closer for survival brought a greater sweetness to our fellowship.  I was amazed at the nearness of His presence through many sleepless nights and pain-filled days of uncertainty.  Sometimes His nearness was almost palpable.  While at other times He felt far away. I had to walk by faith and not by sight.  Often numb, He had to be enough, even if no other prayer I prayed was ever answered again.  Could I be content and rest in Him even if my prodigal never came home?

2) Scripture became even more valuable and precious. Knowing I couldn’t make it without strength from God forced me to spend much time in the Scriptures until I received what I needed.  I was constantly amazed at how God would give just the right thing each day! Some days I read a few verses before I would come upon “bread” for my soul.  During these years I discovered many “golden nuggets” that will always be precious to me for how they met my needs and gave me such hope – the Holy Spirit assisted me in “mining” them out of the deep, dark caverns of my affliction.  Here are a three of my favorites:

Isaiah 55:8-13  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord….. my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace…..instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.  This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”

2 Timothy 2:25b-26  “…in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do is will.”

Isaiah 45:3  “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places.”

3) I experienced greater spiritual and personal growth. I am the kind of person who does not like conflict. I previously avoided it, but I learned to face it. Instead of run from it I am now able to be more honest about my feelings (though, I won’t fool you, it is still hard!).  I realized I was a rather fearful person.  Going through this trial I learned to face my worst fears, to accept unthinkable possible outcomes and find peace with an unknown future.  My prayer life deepened and I learned to pray more effectively. In short, I grew a lot.

4) I’ve grown closer to my husband and other children. Today we have a richer, deeper appreciation for each other and are able to discuss hard things a little more easily.  When you share so much heartache and pain together it can bring you much closer or it can tear you apart.  So, my husband and I chose to protect our relationship and make it a priority, being careful not to neglect it.  During one of our most difficult times he surprised me by whisking me away on a 3 day cruise, to celebrate our anniversary! We also put out extra effort to be sure our other children were not neglected and knew how loved they are.

In my next blog I will share 4 more “gifts” I feel I was given from being the mom of a self-destructive daughter.

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I find great comfort and hope from the Bible for life’s trials and heartaches.  I was reading Luke 13:10-17 the other day and was so touched by Jesus’ compassion and heart for those who suffer.  He was so caring and personal.  And what power there was in his healing words!

This passage tells about the healing of a woman who had been “crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.  (Many of our children have been suffering for a long time.  They are all “bent over”, “crippled”.  The situation may even look hopeless to us.) When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”  Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. . . ” (v.11-13)

Look at that!  She didn’t even ask him for help!  Was that her reason for going to the synagogue that day? All we know is that when Jesus sees her, he knows her need  and how long she’d been bound by Satan (v. 16) –  and he is moved out of a heart full of compassion to take action.  He calls her to himself, lays his hands on her crippled, deformed body and speaks those healing words, “YOU ARE SET FREE!”  What healing oil to her body and soul!  I can’t imagine what she was thinking or how she must have been feeling.

As parents, how we long for our children to be set free.  Sometimes we wonder if there is still hope?  I remember feeling this way after my daughter’s first residential rehab experience when she was still only 19.  Would she survive this?  Would I ever get my daughter back, alive?  Does Jesus see?  Does he know?  Does he really care?  Why is it taking so long?  It can be so hard to keep trusting as they are becoming more and more “crippled”.

I love how he didn’t just speak the words to her that brought her healing, but he got up close and personal . . . He touched her.  I wonder if it had been a long time since anyone cared enough to do that?  We tend to pull away from other’s suffering, especially if we don’t understand.  It can be scary!  Much more so during these times when people probably thought her crippled state was due to someone’s sin.

Then immediately after he spoke to her she straightened up and began praising God! The Savior’s healing touch and healing words moved her to worship. She would never be the same.

I believe our Savior sees your sons and daughters where they are right now.  He knows all about their past, knows their every need – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual …… he knows exactly how long they’ve suffered and been bound (addiction, depression, suicidal, bi-polar, self-harm, immorality, trouble with the law, pornography).  They may not even be seeking Him.  They could care less, but that does not stop Him or limit His power.  He hasn’t forgotten them ….. so keep trusting …… He is still able to reach out to them in their crippled state, in their brokenness and deformity, and cause them to hear his voice calling, calling . . . . and make them brand new.

Oh, how we long for our child to hear their Creator’s voice. Oh, that they would hear and respond to His calling!  Oh, that Jesus would get close and personal with them and touch their life in some way.  Oh, that He would speak those healing words over your son, over your daughter . . . “YOU ARE SET FREE!”  May they hear him today, “immediately straighten up” and begin offering what will be lifelong praises to their Creator!

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