Messy Journey, Offering the Prodigal a Way Home by Lori Wildenberg

I always teach that mentoring the next generation starts with our own family. But what do you do when your children or grandchildren are walking with the world instead of with God? As many of you know, parenting prodigals is dear to my heart and prompted me to share our family’s journey in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents.

Today, my author friend, and licensed parent and family educator Lori Wildenberg offers practical grace- and truth-filled ways of navigating your relationship with a detoured child whether they are rejecting faith, dabbling in sin, or wholeheartedly embracing sinful behavior.

Lori knows the heartache of having a rebel child. Her new release Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home is for parents walking the difficult road with a wayward child. Be inspired to drink the deep waters of peace as you draw closer to the Father of all prodigals. There is hope. After all, their struggle isn’t really with you, it’s with God.


MESSY LIFE by Lori Wildenberg

“When her parents discovered she was pregnant, they kicked her out.”

This single mom has defied the odds. She is raising her child, going to college, and working to support the two of them.

Not easy.

I don’t know the details of this woman’s story. I have no clue as to the relationship she had or has with her parents. I don’t know all the times of trouble that led up to this separation.


I do know a number of families in a similar situation who chose to do life differently. They chose to support their unwed pregnant daughter and help her in her time of need. Three of the girls kept their babies. All three are now married (not to the baby daddy), another girl miscarried (now married with kids), and a fifth made an open adoption plan.

During the most difficult time in their life, each young mom knew her parents were there for her. Each woman in the middle of the mess knew she could count on her parents to help stabilize the shaky ground. All girls are now thriving.

As daughter’s of Eve and sons of Adam, we make decisions that are not in our best interest, ones that are not God’s best for us.

Humans have a wandering propensity.

Some young people stray due to an unwed pregnancy, sexual sin, porn, substance abuse, or a rejection of faith. When we have a prodigal, sometimes we are to let ’em go (see Luke 15) and other times we are to chase after our lost sheep (see Luke 15).

Either way, we need to keep the bridge built so our prodigal is able to return.

I have a child who, for a season, stepped away from the family. It was the most painful thing I have ever endured. There were times I chased her down like the shepherd and other times I waited like the dad.

I cried. I prayed.

I was a mess. I was weak.

God was strong.

Praise God, He brought her back to us.

I am thankful I kept the drawbridge down so she could cross it.

If your young person has taken a detour from the way in which he should go, keep the bridge open.

Don’t destroy it, build it.

During a messy life, lay down the planks of unconditional love: grace, humility, mercy, forgiveness, honesty, and truth.

Build the bridge and yes…they will come.


“Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
Luke 15:6b (NIV)

Where is God calling you to build or rebuild a relational bridge?

If you received this post by email, leave a comment here.

Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books with Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home published by New Hope as her most recent. She is a parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom over at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page. Lori is a contributor to a number of on-line magazines. Every Monday you can find her blogging about faith and family. Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenberg’s home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her hubby, four kids plus a daughter-in-love, and Murphy the family labradoodle.

Find Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home at Amazon.

Additional Books:
Raising Little Kids with Big Love (for parents of toddlers- 9)
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (for parents of tweens-young adults)

Instagram: LoriWildenberg

Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation

older and younger women together You’ve probably read the story many times of Mary’s visit from the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26-45. It’s an amazing revelation to a young teenage girl that she is to become the mother of the Messiah. But there is another parallel story told in these verses—the story of the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist who would be the forerunner of Jesus. The passage in Luke actually sets the scene by pointing out that Elizabeth was six month’s pregnant. Two women with miracle pregnancies–one very old and one very young.

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.—Luke 1:26-34

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”—Luke 1:39-45

Elizabeth Makes Time for Mary

Gabriel gave Mary a shocking message from the Lord, However, Mary also received the second part of the message that her elderly relative Elizabeth was in a similar circumstance, and that Mary would find comfort and reassurance in spending time with her. Gabriel’s mention of Elizabeth compelled Mary to go to her immediately, no matter what the inconvenience, time, energy, or sacrifice. Mary did not stop to count the cost, consider the hardships of the travel, analyze if that was really what the Lord meant, or worry about how it would affect her schedule, or wonder if Elizabeth was too old to relate to her. Mary also didn’t send a message to Elizabeth that Elizabeth should come visit her—after all, she was carrying the Messiah. No, Luke 1:39 says, “Mary got ready and hurried” to Elizabeth’s house. Young Mary seemed to know that she needed Elizabeth, and Elizabeth might need her. From Elizabeth’s response at Mary’s arrival, it doesn’t seem like Elizabeth worried or fretted that the house was a mess, or she was out of coffee and cookies, or that she looked a sight and her husband, Zechariah, really wasn’t himself these days since he could not speak after doubting God. She didn’t tell Mary that there were a million things to do to get ready for her own new baby, so this probably wasn’t a good time for Mary’s visit. She wasn’t repulsed that her unwed, pregnant, teenage relative was on her doorstep. Instead, she joyfully welcomed Mary and they had a blessed reunion!

How Does the Story of Mary and Elizabeth Apply to Us?

Today, our lives are so busy we sometimes feel we don’t have time to invest in true friendships and relationships. We fill our days with work, soccer games, church activities, house cleaning, shopping, errands—you know the routine. All good, necessary things. Yet how much of our day do we also fill with TV viewing, Internet browsing, and shopping for things we really don’t need that cause us to work more to acquire and maintain? Mentors and mentees often complain that the hardest part of their relationship is finding time in their busy lives to meet, even though they know it would benefit them both. Others report that when they surrender their schedule to the Lord, He seems to give them more time and energy in their day to accomplish all the things he knows are important. Just like Elizabeth and Mary, God will work miracles in our relationship, if we just give Him the time. I would love to hear about your “Elizabeth and Mary” experiences. Please share in the comments so others can be blessed.

Spend time with someone 20 years older and you’ll leave wiser

Spend time with someone 20 years younger and you’ll leave energized!

Sections of this post were excerpts from Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation. This study has questions to do on your own, with someone else, or as a group. It would make a great gift to give to yourself and a friend to do together and learn more about this beautiful relationship.

Elizabeth and Mary cover


5 Things You Should Know About “Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man”

1. It’s humorous.

When I was writing the book and telling people about it, there was always laughter and chuckles. My husband noticed this and asked me if it was going to be a funny book. I told him there would be some funny parts . . . but the book wouldn’t portray husbands in a negative light or poke fun at them.

Sometimes the best way to handle a transition or new situation is to laugh—at yourself and the circumstances. The humor comes from our humanness and some of the crazy things we do and say. God will turn your tears into laughter, and your mourning into dancing, if you let Him (Ecclesasties 4:10)

2. It’s also serious.

The book had to include serious moments because the circumstances that bring a husband home are often very serious—illness, accidents, disability, layoffs, PTSD, unplanned retirement . . . just to name a few. And the transitions that the wife and husband experience can at times be serious. God takes our problems and trials seriously (Matthew 11:28), so the book includes Love Letters from God (personalized Scripture) and Let’s Pray (prayers to personalize).

3. It’s been described as “raw.”

I am open, vulnerable, and “real” when sharing about myself, but always make sure to give God the glory for the amazing things He has done in my life. My tagline is “Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness,” and that’s the heart of mentoring—my passion and my purpose. So I do discuss my fears, inadequacies, anxious moments, and difficulties in adjusting to our new 24/7 lifestyle, as do the women sharing their stories in the book. In our weakness, God’s strength prevails (1 Corinthians 4:10).

4. It contains questions for couples, small groups, & readers’ groups.

My vision for the book is that it will encourage husbands and wives to talk about their “issues.” Often problems escalate for lack of communication. It also would be advantageous for women with stay-at-home men to form support/small groups or couples’ groups: there’s a leader’s guide included to help facilitate the group. This would be a perfect book for book clubs. God tells us to meet together and encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25).

5. It features my husband as the hero of the book, but he says he’s the “sacrificial lamb.”

My husband graciously allowed me to share our lives and hearts with the readers. He also wrote the epilogue to give a window into his experience as a stay-at-home man. He is my helpmate and my biggest encourager. I could not do the things God has led me to do without my husband cheering me one. As God has ordained for marriage, we truly have become one (Mark 10:8).

To read a snippet.

To learn more about Dear God, He’s Home!

The Magnet Syndrome!

View details

My retired husband is constantly coming up to me asking, “What are you doing?” He said he can’t stay away—he’s drawn to me like a magnet.—Mariann

Dear God,

When we were first married, Dave literally followed me around the house wanting to do everything with me. He didn’t have any friends or interests beside his job, golf, and me. We quickly remedied that dilemma by finding him friends, serving at church, and starting guitar lessons—the guitar eventually fell by the wayside.

Now that he’s retired and home 24/7, I’m reliving those early years: it seems like every time I turn around, I’m running into him right behind me, or he’s occupying the same space I’m trying to claim. I can’t make a move without him showing up. I try having my “quiet time” outside, only to look up and see him coming out with his Bible ready to settle in across the table from me . . . which would be OK accept he doesn’t read quietly . . . he talks . . . .

I get up early and go for my walk, expecting him to be done in the kitchen when I return. To my chagrin, he doesn’t think about eating breakfast, until I do! If I get my vitamins out of the cupboard, he needs his. Bottles fall and pills fly as we reach around each other trying to grab ours off the shelf.

When I go into the bathroom to put on my makeup and dry my hair, he remembers he needs to shave. Since we only have one sink and mirror, that’s a big problem. Last night, I was trying to take a shower, and he had to go to the bathroom, even though he had just been in there flossing his teeth!

It’s like having a perpetual shadow! Lord, I need some space. Why does everything I do, trigger the exact same response in him? If I change my routine to accommodate him, he changes his routine to match mine—he’s like a magnet. Help! I love my husband, but I’m stumbling over him at every turn.

Crowded, Janet

Mentoring Moment

My friend Anita and I were walking together one morning and I was lamenting about what Dave and I now laughingly call the “Magnet Syndrome.” Anita said she and her husband, Gary, experience the same thing and then she shared the “breakfast dance” they often do in the mornings, just like Dave and me.

Anita also said she had been giving this phenomenon a lot of thought and concluded that the more time you spend together, the more you’re on the same “wave length.” You start thinking alike, your schedules are similar, and your body clocks become synchronized. You’re both hungry simultaneously and sometimes even need to use the bathroom at the same time!

Then she pointed out this is how God intended marriage: husbands and wives become as one. When we each went our separate ways during the day, we had to transition back to being “one” when we saw each other again at night. 24/7 togetherness reflects the oneness of Genesis 2:24—“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Pondering Anita’s words, I realized how right she was. Instead of operating as two separate people in a marriage, 24/7 husbands and wives truly transition into one body—spiritually and physically. Exactly what we all agreed to in our marriage vows when the pastor said, “I present to you Mr. and Mrs. _____________, (fill in your names) united in marriage. What God has joined together, let no man separate.”

*This article contains excerpts from Janet Thompson’s  Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man

New Face-to-Face Release February 1

I am excited to announce the release of the next two Face-to-Face Bible studies available at bookstores and online starting today. They are Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community and Face to Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation.
Who are Euodia and Syntyche?
Don’t feel embarrassed if you’ve never heard of these two women. I’ve had radio interviewers and mature Christians question me as to where these women are mentioned in the Bible. You’ll find them in Philippians 4:2-3. I have wanted to do a study on Euodia and Syntyche for years because we can learn so much about how to resolve conflict biblically from the way Paul handled the disagreement between these two ministry workers. You may have thought of the Book of Philippians as the “joy” book, but you’ll have a new appreciation of why Paul wrote this letter as you study the real purpose behind it. Notoriously women do not know how to deal with conflict. Learn new biblical conflict resolution skills in Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche.

The focus of Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary is spiritual mothering. It’s the study of the beautiful relationship of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her older cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.

Hurry to Receive Your 30% Discount!

New Hope Publishers is offering a 30% discount through 10/31/09 on my new Face-to-Face Bible study/small group resources.

Just go to their website and put in the promo code NHWEB and order away.

Remember there are questions for doing the studies on your own, with another person, or as a group. Each study contains a leader’s guide.
5 fast-paced sessions make them perfect for your fall or winter study.

Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche and Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary will be released February 2010 for your spring study.