…and the greatest of these is love.

ImageGod in His infinite love prepared the heart of a woman to love our Grandchildren. God knew that the evil in this world would one day be too strong for our daughter to overcome and He is in the process of healing her, I have that faith. But He also knew the pain that these children would have to deal with during the healing of their Mother.

Drugs don’t just affect the addict, they can take a whole family down. We have struggled with what was right and wrong so many times over the past six years, but we always knew that God would strengthen us for the day at hand. “In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support. and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. All power to Him, forever! Amen” I Peter 5:10, 11.

Papaw and I have made so many adjustments that it has become the norm to expect change. I honestly think that this last change will go a long way toward healing our grandchildren’s hearts and helping them to learn what family is all about. Take a walk with me and see if you don’t agree.

The first adjustment came when our granddaughter was six months old and we started sharing her care with her Nanaw and Grandpa. To help our son-in-law, she would stay with us one or two nights a week, but mostly with her other grandparents. We all kind of put life on hold for awhile to start over caring for a baby. We saw her take her first steps, potty train and say her first words. Her brother pretty much wanted to stay with us and that was OK. We had a little bed right beside ours so that I could be close when he woke up with the nightmares. When they got a little older we opened up the attic and made a room for both children; I painted Spider Man above his bed and Tinkerbell and a castle above hers.

Over the next couple of years, we became more involved in our grandson’s life; enrolling him in Kindergarten, acting as a room mother so that he still had that family interaction like the other kids, going to grandparent’ day. All the while, their Mom would drop in and out of their lives. We dealt with anger like no child should ever feel, went to counseling with him, and tried so hard to be “normal.”

Stage three sees us adjusting to the fact that our daughter had almost removed herself from her children and our family completely. Lies to the children broke their hearts; promises made and never kept. Our granddaughter cried herself to sleep after a phone call from her Mom and never wanted to stay at our house again; it was a broken connection between only seeing her Mom when she was at our house (we managed the supervisory visits) and coming over and not seeing her. Children know how to protect themselves.  Our grandson started wanting to sleep on the couch downstairs rather than sleeping alone in his Spider Man room. That is alright; whatever it takes. But the pictures on the walls and the constant reminder of his absent Mom soon became too much. His anger grew; his questions broke my heart. “Why didn’t Mom take anything to remind her of me?” he asked as he held a little card that he had made her for Mother’s Day. I didn’t have the answer. I still don’t.

What I think is the final-for-now adjustment is the family that God prepared for these two precious children. You see, neither Papaw nor I will ever leave them. They are always in our hearts and minds, but we know that we have to let them go to some extent. God placed a beautiful, loving woman in their and their Dad’s lives; a woman who understands the struggles that children go through in circumstances like these. She has been kind, nurturing and loving through all of this for the past four years, and soon she will be their step-Mom. I know from experience that my step-Dad was never a “step”, he was the one who was there when I got my first car, wrote my first poem, had my first child. Just like she will be there for our grandchildren; she already is. Thank You, God.

As you can see from the picture above, they have become a family. Look at the eyes, that is where you can see the real happiness. And where do we fit in? Well, I think that the next step is to become a Grandparent and not a caregiver. We have helped in every way we could think of to care for the children, but now I believe that we can trust that care to their Dad and “Mom.” They are in pretty good hands. We can enjoy picking them up for occasional weekend visits, trips to the zoo or King’s Island. Just like other grandparents. Is it hard? Of course it’s hard to know what our daughter gave up. I know the pain that she has to feel and I pray daily that she doesn’t use that as a reason to continue the addict’s life. But as I counsel the families that come to Prayers for Prodigals, you have to live in total surrender to the eminent God we serve and trust Him to know what is best. We do. And we will continue to follow His lead, no matter what.

“Three things will last forever–faith, hope and love–and the greatest of these is love.” We can have peace knowing that our grandchildren have all of these in their lives.

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Christian Psychology

I started my journey into Christian psychology when I became a teacher in a small Christian school. No, at the time I didn’t have the degree to back it up, but when you teach teens on a daily basis you soon learn psychology on the fly. That was when I discovered that the greatest psychology instruction was in my hands all along: the Bible.

John wrote, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.” There is no more true statement than this. Those years were an encouragement for me to get into God’s Word and use it to steer these young adults through life. Each one had their own need, but I never encountered a trial that wasn’t addressed in Scripture. I remember one time I actually used Psalm 119 as a means of discipline. I don’t remember what the infraction was, but if you read this passage you find that it is teaching that God’s Word is true and wonderful and that if you stay true to God and His Word, no matter how bad the world becomes, the joy of God will never leave you. I felt that this was what was needed at the time so I assigned the student to write Psalm 119 three times. And, in case you are not aware, Psalm 119 has 176 verses! I’m pretty sure he knew that I was trying to help him get his focus back where it belonged.

Through the years I have studied and fulfilled the educational requirements for a Biblical degree and board certification as a Christian counselor, but I have learned that even though the world requires a degree, real and honest counseling can only come through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and reliance on God’s Word. There are psychological tests that assist in diagnosis, and there are proven methods for dealing with different types of psychological needs, but unless you treat the whole person, mind, body and spirit, then there can be no life change and many times, that is the true need.

Do I make counseling sound simplistic? I don’t mean to. It’s just that often we ignore the spiritual aspect of counseling because the answer is so simple that we don’t want to follow it. We often react like Naaman when Elisha told him to go wash himself in the Jordan River to cure his leprosy. When the prophet of God (the counselor) told Naaman what to do, Naaman was outraged! He thought surely there was a much more complicated solution to his healing than what Elisha was telling him to do. Don’t we often do the same thing when we are faced with depression, addiction, dependencies and other mental issues? We just know that there has to be more to our healing than reading God’s Word! And we are right, there is. We also need to believe and live God’s Word.

There are so many aspects to mental healing. Medication is often necessary especially in extreme cases of depression, personality disorders and other physical ailments. But we have to use the wisdom of the doctors who are prescribing the medications as a means of getting us to the point where we can receive the healing that is provided through God. He is our ultimate healing. What was Elisha trying to do? He prescribed the medication, washing in the river, but Naaman refused the healing which was getting into a right relationship with God by believing.

In my counseling with Prayers for Prodigals (support for families who have loved ones with addictions) I come up against people who are suffering from loneliness, fear, dependency, confusion and so many more issues that loving an addict can fill us with. With each counseling session, I learn more about the pain that these families are going through. And with each counseling session, I realize just how much God loves us and how faithful He is to lead us by the Holy Spirit to offer healing through His Word.

There are many instances in the Bible where Jesus tells people, “Go. Your faith has healed you.” I want that faith. I want to know that God cares enough about my quality of life that He gave me Words to heal me. Christian psychology is not a misnomer, it’s a prescription for life.

I Will Praise as Long as I Have Breath

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How could I NOT praise God? Someone told me the other day that I was the strongest woman they have ever met. I smiled and said, “God is my strength.” If they only knew the rest of the story. In 2009 I nearly lost my mind because I tried to handle my life on my own strength. I soon learned that I have no strength. We got a call on New Year’s morning around 3:00 AM that our son was being flown to a hospital in Germany because he had been in a training accident in Kuwait while waiting for deployment to Iraq. The next couple of days were a blur as we waited to see if he would live or die and I couldn’t even be there to hold his hand. I prayed, but the prayers seemed to hang somewhere around the ceiling fan on my bedroom ceiling. Whirling around and around like the thoughts in my head.

In February 2009 my husband of 32 years underwent surgery for prostate cancer. In March we found out that our daughter, the mother of our two beautiful grandchildren was a heroin addict. The next year is a blur of taking care of our son, my husband and all the while trying to help our son-in-law take care of the kids. I lived my life believing everything that our daughter said, and hating myself for believing. She told me she hated me, that I would never see my grandchildren again once she got well. She left, she came back. And each time she cut off a little bit more of my heart and fed it to me.

Then a friend of mine stopped over and invited me to visit her church. I’ve always been a strong believer, but there’s a certain amount of hopelessness in being the mother of an addict. There is something that says, people won’t understand. You must have done something wrong. It’s all your fault. But God is stronger than my mind and I went. It was the best decision I could have made. And I have given my life to a ministry of support and counseling to others who have family members who are suffering from addictions.

See, the thing is, we are always going to have something going on in our lives as long as we live on this earth. But we have to keep our focus in the right place. That place is God. I was living a selfishly self-centered existence by only living for the misery. The questions that were never answered I have found out really don’t matter a few days after worrying about them. What does matter is that I can truthfully say that I love God more than the situations in my life.

The decision to surrender to God was not easy. It meant giving up a part of me that I thought I needed…my stress. I was worried at one time that people would think I was crazy for not worrying about all that was going on! But you know what? It just doesn’t matter. I have surrendered my fears, my anxiety, my sadness to the joy of serving God. I love my daughter, and I pray for her healing daily. But I love God more. How can I say that? He is the One sure thing in my life. He is the One sure thing in your life, too. I live in peace because I know that God has my daughter in HIs Hands. And I can face whatever happens, whatever choices she makes, because I realize that they are her choices. I have no more power over that than I did when we found out that awful day.

Yes, it hurts when her now six-year-old daughter asks if Mommy is going to be at her birthday party and I have to say “no.” And it hurts when her 8-year-old son cries because he misses the baby sister he may never see again. And I cry. But then I look up and I praise God for these children. I praise God for the wonderful woman that He has brought in to their Daddy’s life. A woman who loves them and takes care of them and provides a security that they have never had until now.

God is worthy of praise in all situations. And with every breath I have, I will praise Him.

A Letter to My Prodigal Child

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My child,

I love you. I will always love you, But as I sit here wondering what I could have done differently, I feel that somehow that love got in the way of your recovery. Maybe if I had not wanted you to be well so badly, I would have trusted less, believed less, enabled less, and maybe you would have seen that changes had to be made. 

Five years ago we started this Hell-like journey that just seems to get darker as the days go by. When I was told that you had moved from pain killers to heroin, I didn’t want to believe it. And I kept giving you $20 for gas every time you asked. God forgive me for allowing the hurt to go on. I looked at your sleeping eyes as you stood in front of me and I rationalized that you had been up with the baby all night. Oh, God, how stupid I feel now. I took care of the baby, I took care of the toddler, and I took care of you. I let you down and I’m sorry. I lost my job so that I could take care of things for you and you didn’t have to stand up and get well. 

Now the baby is in Kindergarten, the toddler is in 3rd grade and Mommy wasn’t there to see them off because she is still using drugs, telling lies and stealing to support her habit. And yet another child, a baby, is going to suffer. Because I took care of things. 

I’m writing to tell you that I am done.  When we found out that you had stolen all my jewelry, I say all, but there wasn’t much, but every piece was special. You see, we’re not the kind of people who have fancy cars, designer clothes and big gaudy rings. My jewelry was bought at a sacrifice and Dad paid to get it out for me, out of his meager retirement income, because every piece represents a memory, I thought you knew how much it hurt to know that you cared so little for us to do such a thing. When we realized that you had stolen my jewelry for the second time I came to the realization that I can’t do this anymore. I can’t allow myself to hurt as deeply as I have hurt over the past 5 years without jeopardizing my health, my home and my family. So I”m done.  

My child, you are on your own. My prayers will always be with you and for you to recognize the love that you have left behind. Your son looked up at me yesterday and asked, “When is Mommy coming home?” It’s not going to be long before the charade is over and we have to tell him that she’s not. That she has left the state to escape. And your daughter doesn’t even bother to ask anymore. 

I will always pray for you. And I want you to understand that I have not given up on you, I have given up on me. And I have turned it all over to God. He knows how to reach you. He knows your every need. And He won’t give up. 

“Lord, open ‘her’ eyes so ‘she’ may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. The ‘she’ will receive forgiveness for her sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in You.” Acts 26:18

“Gently teach ‘her’, who opposes the truth. Perhaps You will change ‘her’ heart, and ‘she’ will believe the truth. The ‘she’ will come to her senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For ‘she’ has been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” 2 Timothy 2:25, 26

I can’t wait for that day of healing when you look up and say, Forgive me, I have sinned against you and against God. And I want to come home.