After The Party for the Returning Prodigal . . .

Last month, Alycia Neighbours wrote a guest post, Never Stop Praying for Your Prodigal. In that article, Alycia shares her prodigal daughter testimony that touched many of my, and her, blog followers.

 
I opened that blog explaining that in my book, Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, Alycia’s mom, Chris Adams. shares the story of praying for her prodigal daughter. While I was writing the last chapter of the book, Alycia reunited with her family and I was able to include an excerpt from Chris’ journal of their reunion.

 
I asked Alycia if she would share what it was like when she returned after being gone for eight years, and how her twin-sister Amanda, felt about her return. Today Alycia and Amanda share with you the emotional rollercoaster of welcoming home a prodigal. As I read Alycia’s article, it confirmed everything I wrote in Section Five of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, “Welcoming Home Your Prodigal Daughter.” Remember, that everything in the book, as well as Alycia’s suggestions, also apply to a prodigal son.

Alycia Neighbours prodigal home cartoon.= website

The prodigal has returned. Hugs, parties, and fatted calf are over—and now everyone sits back wondering, what next?

Not Everyone is Celebrating

In the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31, Jesus tells the story of the brother who wasn’t happy watching all the celebration over the return of the “black sheep.” After all, he had been there all along, probably comforting his family, picking up the missing brother’s slack, and being the good reliable son.

I can’t tell you much of what happened after that Scripture story, but I can tell you that when I returned home as a prodigal, it wasn’t all parties and celebrations. It was hard for all of us. Major trust had been broken that needed restoring. There were hurt feelings that needed soothing. Anger needed releasing; forgiveness was going to be a long road.

I had changed. I was different. I was humbled.

I wasn’t trusted. I had set off a grenade in my family and things weren’t going to just fall back into a normal pace—despite my desperate desire to be back in my family.

My twin sister was thrilled I was found, after she had made many dead-end searches; but at the same time, she was furious that I was home

“It was trust. I didn’t trust that she wouldn’t run again, and then I am left with my parents destroyed AGAIN. She had run all her life. She had lied. What made this time so different? I couldn’t trust her, no matter how normal she seemed to be. I was the one always there for my parents. I did most everything right. Why were they so willing to accept her back? I was angry at her actions and her trying to prove she was a different person. She was missing for eight years, but she had been running long before that. I don’t know the pivotal point that made us closer again; but sometimes we fight (because we are sisters) and that anger and fear comes back.” – Amanda Dugger, my twin sister

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Amanda and Alycia

Restoration Takes Time

I couldn’t tell you the pivotal moment either. It just happened over a span of about seven years. It took years of being true to my word. The only time I ran was from my abusive husband; but this time, I ran to my family. I didn’t do everything right; there are many things I wish I could have had the foresight to see so I didn’t trip up again.

Many times since returning, I have had the urge to run again, but in a different direction. Now I run to my family and to God. Those I trust, believe in, and love.

There is a plot twist though. When my parents adopted Amanda and me, we had an older sister who remained with our biological family. I tracked her down, along with the rest of my biological family. I ended up hurting her too because I was hurting and needed to lash out at someone, and she was in my path at that moment. Presently, all relationships have been restored, but we will likely always be working at strengthening and learning to fully trust.

Twins and older sister

What I Want You To Take Away From My Story:

• Trust and restoration is possible, but it will take time. Be patient and honest with your feelings. Communication heals hurt. Your prodigal will want to prove herself/himself, but she/he is hurting too.
• Establish acceptable boundaries from the moment your prodigal comes home. Let her/him know what behavior is expected and not permitted.
• Expect the restoration process to be time consuming and emotionally consuming. Prayer is the only way to combat unexpected feelings that arise.
• Siblings and other family members affected by the prodigal should be encouraged to reunite on their own timetable. We all arrive at trust when it feels right and we feel God’s nudge.
• Just like the prodigal in Scripture who came groveling to his father, your prodigal is probably humbled, ashamed, and emotionally distraught over her/his actions. Show compassion because just like your heart is broken, hers/his is too. At first, be gentle even when you don’t feel like it. Later, you can discuss the tougher subjects. Just love your prodigal.
• Triggers that caused them to run in the first place may make your prodigal feel the need to run again. Try right away to identify these triggers, respect that they are an integral part of your prodigal’s psyche, and work as a team to acknowledge, validate, and work through the triggers so she/he can feel secure that she/he has truly found her/his way back home.

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Thank you again Alycia for your openness and willingness to share your story to help other parents and prodigals. You can read more of Alycia’s story in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

Never Stop Praying for Your Prodigal!

Many of you have read my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, in which praying mother, Chris Adams, shares the story of praying for her prodigal daughter Alycia. While I was writing the last chapter of the book, Alycia reunited with her family and I was able to include an excerpt from Chris’ journal of their reunion. God’s timing was, as always, perfect. I wrote in the final chapter:

Chris Adams shared and wrote about her story in this book when she had no idea if her prodigal daughter was dead or alive. But just today—this very day—as I conclude this final chapter—there’s another chapter in her story of God’s amazing grace. .

Today, Alycia boldly shares her testimony with you, my blog followers. I’m so proud to introduce to you returning prodigal, Alicia Neighbors!

Prodigal drawing

I Ran From My Family and God

I started running away from my family and God when I was in my early teens. I ran because I sought acceptance, approval and an excitement I didn’t believe I had within my home. I ran because I wanted to be my own boss of my destiny and thought I could find my purpose on my own with no help from my earthly family or from a God I couldn’t see or hear.

My answer to any inward or outward conflict was flight.

My parents made the difficult decision to place me in a group home. I thought they just didn’t want me around, and for a while, played the game of the rules that were set up. Then the urge came from nowhere to run again. It wasn’t a suggestion of my mind, but a desire of my heart. Just to prove in this controlled environment that I didn’t need anyone and could once again design my life with no help from anyone else.

I Ran Into an Abusive Relationship

Years later, I found myself in a marriage full of domestic abuse that would not allow me to run. Oh, I tried to run a few times, but he made sure that I regretted it and even threatened my life if I tried it again. Before the marriage, I had a son by another man. After a few beatings from my husband and seeing his anger directed towards my son, I signed away my parental rights to my son’s natural father and took my husband’s suggestion to disappear from everyone.

For eight years, there was no contact with anyone. Often during those times, I had a strong pull to contact my parents, but I wasn’t allowed a phone or alone time away from the house. I was trapped and I began to pray that somehow a way would be made. No easy option presented itself, so I realized I was going to have to make something happen. I emailed my aunt and asked her if restoration was even possible. She encouraged me that my parents loved me deeply and I needed to heal what was broken.

A Praying Mother’s Prayers

In my mother’s prayer journal, she had written:

“After not seeing our daughter Alycia for over 8 years, and hot hearing from her in 3-4 years, I was compelled for the last couple of months to pray that God would just let us know if Alycia was alive. During the last month, Amanda, [her twin sister] unknowing of my prayers, was also searching once again for her on the Internet. She finally came across her name on an email on petfinders.com. It was a response thanking someone for returning her missing dog.

Amanda emailed me the string of emails with this information. That continued to stir my heart and prayers for Alycia. “Sleuth” Amanda, began trying to find the lady who had found the dog, and when she did, she discovered it had taken place a couple of years ago. But as Amanda continued to search, she came across a “last known” address. On Wednesday, November 1, Amanda drove to the address and knocked on the door. No one answered so she left a note saying, “If Alycia lives here, please call and just give us a phone number so we could let her know if someone in our family died.”

I stole my husband’s cell phone while he was sleeping and called my mom. We exchanged some pictures online of her one-year-old granddaughter she had not met and made plans to meet. At this same time, my twin sister had felt the pull to track me down and found the house I had just moved from. We missed each other by about two weeks. My husband was not pleased about my sneaking, but I cracked the door open and even he knew that to prevent me from going wasn’t going to end it. He did send me to the reunion meeting with a broken nose and two black eyes, but I made contact finally.

I Ran Back Into The Welcoming Arms of God and My Parents

Alycia and parentsAlicia and her parents Chris and Pat Adams

The restoration of the prodigal child and parent relationship can take time because of the trust issues formed during flight mode and absences; but it’s not beyond our God’s ability to heal. I would imagine if we sat down with a calendar, every time I felt a “pull” to go home was also the same time that my parents and others were in intense prayer for me.

In my mother’s journal about the experience, she said this

“Alycia knew nothing about my prayers or Amanda’s searching, which is why this had to be the work of the Holy Spirit nudging each of us toward one another.”

Now many years later, my parents and I have a good relationship. My marriage to the abusive man ended through widowhood, and I’m now married to a wonderful man and gained four bonus sons in addition to my three girls. My faith and love in my Heavenly Father has been restored as I allowed Him to finally bless me the way He had always wanted to. I allow His will to dictate my life and no longer feel the need to make my own way. His plan and purpose is so much better.

I have stopped running because everything I ran to—love, acceptance, family, and purpose—had been there all along. It just took my prayers and the prayers of my parents and many others to help me see this.

What do I want you to take away from all this?

1.)   Never stop praying or give up hope on your prodigal. It may be weeks, months or years, but your prayers are essential for your prodigal to feel the “pull” home.

2.)   If you still have limited contact with your prodigal, don’t let them see your bitterness or anger at their actions. Mimic God’s love and acceptance. You can verbalize you don’t like what they are doing, but you will always love them.

3.)   Your prodigal may have found themselves in a situation that does not allow them to come home or make contact. Form large prayer groups to fully cover your prodigal. More prayers, more “pull.”

 

Thank you Alycia! Her last three points, I also cover in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, along with the promise that God will always give you all a testimony to share.There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter for family and support groups. My husband and I hold a support group for parents and grandparents of prodigals to give them a safe place to unite in praying for their prodigals. If you have a prodigal, please consider forming such a group.

I have support on my website to help you get started. By the way, the principles in this book apply to both daughters and sons.

Never stop praying.1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

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Because We’re Better Together

I’m so excited to be a part of The M.O.M Initiative’s First National Conference and I wanted to share all the details with you. I will be keynoting and presenting four workshops along with many gifted speakers, authors, moms, and grandmas! Following is all the information and please let me know if you’re attending.

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Need to know you’re NOT ALONE? Ready for a fun weekend GETAWAY with your GIRLFRIENDS? Need to be REFRESHED & REFUELED?

Join us at BETTER TOGETHER where 19 authors & speakers CONVERGE in ONE PLACE to minister to YOU with over 40 WORKSHOPS to meet you where you are!

BETTER TOGETHER is a conference by The M.O.M. Initiative, for women of ALL ages and in ALL stages of life!

SOMETIMES…we just need a weekend to laugh together, cry together, and discover you’re not alone in your journey. BETTER TOGETHER is a weekend to connect with women just like you….moms, wives, single moms, moms in blended families, divorced moms, moms of teens, moms of toddlers, grandmas, working moms, stay at home moms, mentors and ministry leaders.

With powerful keynotes from moms and ministry leaders just like you, and over 40 breakout sessions that are taught by experienced leaders and include a wide range of topics such as:

  • When Motherhood Should Come with a Training Manual
  • You Can’t Be 1/2 a Mom (for moms in blended families)
  • Walking Beside Your Child with Special Needs
  • The God Who Sees You
  • Bully Proof
  • Balancing Life and Ministry
  • Fight for Your Family
  • The Making of a Mom
  • Lord, Help My Marriage
  • Building a Top Notch Team
  • Reaching the Hard to Reach Child
  • Nothing Too Broken (Find hope & healing for even the deepest wounds)
  • Godly Girlfriends: The Sprinkles on the Cupcakes of Life
  • Praying for Your Prodigal
  • Lifegiving Hospitality ~ Start Simply but Simply Start (Hands on cooking class)

And MANY MORE BREAKOUTS that will meet you right where you are!

You’ll experience an amazing time of worship with The Journey Worship Band, you’ll learn, you’ll share, you’ll grow in Christ… and as a woman… and as a mother… and as a mentor… and as a ministry leader.

Expect to have fun, meet other moms, find hope and encouragement, and laugh…a lot!

  • Great worship with the live band
  • Lots of giveaways!
  • Late Night Bash with the M.O.M.s on Friday night!
  • Lots of opportunities to shop in the Exhibit Hall!
  • 15 Minutes w/M.O.M. appointments where you can meet a M.O.M.
  • Lots of workshops (over 40) to help you in practical, personal & powerful ways
  • Panel Talk on Saturday with some of YOUR questions answered by the M.O.M. team!

Here are the details:

When: July 31st – August 2nd, 2014

Where: Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida

How Much: Only $49 ($39 for groups of 10 or more)

How: To register or find out more information, visit www.themominitiative.com and go to “Conferences”

Seating is limited so you will want to get your tickets now and invite your friends!

You’ll be empowered, encouraged, refreshed and refueled…ready to fulfill your God-given calling with the confidence of knowing you don’t have to take your mom journey alone.

Don’t miss THE Southeast’s MOM conference of the year, BETTER TOGETHER by The M.O.M. Initiative…

Because we are ALL better together!

So come, BRING A FRIEND and make it a CONFERENCE EVENT FOR THE WOMEN IN YOUR CHURCH or MINISTRY!

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU THERE!

 

Divine Appointments

Ashley Inn in front of tree

 

If you read last Monday’s post, it was my poem “Time to Sit with You” where I challenged all of us to take time with Jesus, the Birthday Boy! Dave and I do try to practice what I preach and when we were married 21 years ago on December 19th, we vowed to put Jesus at the center of our marriage. We also vowed that even though our anniversary would only be six days before Christmas, we would always make time to celebrate our relationship with each other and with Christ.

So even as our family expanded to eleven grandchildren, and we had an annual Birthday Party for Jesus, we’ve still taken two or three days to get away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas and focus on the blessings of our marriage and our faith. On these anniversary getaways, we spend time prayerfully focusing on our goals for the upcoming year. One year, we decided we wanted our house to look more like a grandparents’ house and we came home and started remodeling. In 2004, we decided we would like to own a writing cabin in the area where we went for our anniversary getaway—Idyllwild—and God gave us the perfect cabin.

Another year, our goal was moving from California to a place we both enjoyed. We ended up in Idaho.

There were tough years, like thirteen years ago when I started radiation for breast cancer the day before our anniversary. But right after the appointment, we headed off to Julian, California where we spent several beautiful anniversaries. The great thing about our anniversary is everywhere we go, it’s decorated beautifully for Christmas—just like our wedding reception on a boat that cruised around Newport Beach Harbor with our wedding guests.

This year, even though we had invited 24 people to dinner three days after our anniversary, we still packed up and got a way to a magical place—Ashley Inn in Cascade, ID. The pictures you see here are from this wonderful trip. We went there our first anniversary in Idaho and were so impressed with the beautiful Christmas decorations and hospitality. It’s a spectacular place to get away and enjoy each other and the season.

We talked over next year’s goals in a little coffee shop in McCall as I wrote them out on a napkin. We mainly talked about seeking God’s will for About His Work Ministries and how we could get Dave exercising in the winter.

Each year, when we take this time away together, God shows up in divine appointments. The last night, when I went down to the breakfast room to get some hot tea and the fresh baked cookies they put out at 8:00 pm, to my surprise two couples were sitting at a table enjoying the evening treat. They said, “Oh there’s the other one staying tonight,” and that’s when I learned there were just six of us in the entire huge hotel. As we chatted, I mentioned that I was a Christian author. They asked what I wrote, and I listed several of my books and then excused myself as hubby had the DVD on pause waiting for me to return with cookies.

The next morning, as we were enjoying a late breakfast graciously provided by the hotel, one of the couples came down for breakfast and the wife was carrying a Bible, just like mine. As I commented on her great reading material, she said she had been praying that God would let us meet again before we left. As we sat and chatted, she said she wanted Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, “I need that book now!” I just happened to have one in the car, and we cried and prayed for her daughter and knew that we would stay in contact. It was a divine appointment—the kind that happen so often when we let ourselves be still and not worry about the to-do lists waiting at home. We had that sweet time together with neither of us checking our watches, because we knew God had brought us together for such a time as this.

I pray that you too will stop during the next few days and just enjoy conversation and community with those that God brings into your life. Maybe it will be family you haven’t seen for a long time or those you see every day—or neighbors—or acquaintances—or strangers—who you know you’re supposed to stop and spend a moment with.

Maybe reading this post was one of those divine appoints. If so, I’m glad I got to spend it with you. Savor every day—especially the celebration of our Savior’s birth. If He had not come to earth and become flesh and blood, just like us, life would seem meaningless. But because of Jesus, ­we have hope to cope with whatever life brings us, as we await eternal life with Him.

I would love to hear about your divine appoints this Christmas. Please share a comment for others to be blessed.

Merry CHRISTmas,  Janet

 

Ashley Inn looking at each other

Breakfast room @ Ashley Inn

Breakfast room where we met the other couple

Mentoring Tips on Raising Godly Children By Crystal Bowman

In my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I point out that every parent of a prodigal wishes we had done things differently and started praying for our children when they were young, before they became prodigals. In the following guest post, Crystal Bowman author of My Mama and Me—Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Child, shares mentoring tips on raising godly children.

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No Greater Joy

One of my mom’s favorite Bible verses is 3 John 1:4 — I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.

Now that I am a mother and grandmother, that has become one of my favorite verses as well. My husband and I have raised three amazing children who are all walking with the Lord. As I mentor many young mothers through MOPS (Mother of Preschoolers), they want to know how we did it!

I believe you can be a wonderful, godly parent and still have children who walk away from the faith when they grow up. Many times it is only for a season, but for some, it is longer.

A Solid Foundation

The best thing we can do as parents is give our children a solid biblical foundation by teaching them about God from the time they are babies to the time they leave home. Since most of my books are for preschool children, I pray that the books I write will be a helpful resource for parents as they read and talk about spiritual things with their little ones. Reading with your children is one of the precious gifts of motherhood, and sharing your faith is the most important gift you can give your child.

Kid-friendly Devotions

Making time for bedtime Bible stories or mealtime devotions is a great way to teach children about God and encourage meaningful discussion. My newest book, My Mama and Me—Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Child features twenty-five devotions, each including a rhyming message that teaches children about God, a Scripture verse, a prayer, and an activity that reinforces the theme. The devotions are spiritually solid, yet fun and enjoyable for young children.

The Importance of Prayer

Many of the moms whom I mentor were not raised in Christian homes. They know it is important to pray for their children, but at times they feel inadequate. I remind them that God knows their hearts and they just need to talk to God like they talk to a friend. With that in mind, I wrote a prayer at the end of the book for mothers to pray over their children.

Just Released

My Mama and Me has just been released by Tyndale House Publishers. If you get a copy of the book, you will notice the book was written by two authors—Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley. I am Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley is my daughter. I have no greater joy!

Bio: Crystal Bowman is the author of over 80 books for children including The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers, and My Grandma and Me—Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Grandchild. She is also a national speaker, a lyricist, and a regular contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine.

www.crystalbowman.com

www.facebook.com/crystaljbowman

 Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley

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Who Needs to Hear Your Story?

Sharing Your Story

Another term for “your story” is “your testimony.” A testimony focuses on God, not us. It describes our lives before we turned them over—or returned—to God and on how He changed and transformed us. Your story doesn’t have to have a “happy ending” for you to share it. We give our testimonies to show God’s faithfulness in spite of the circumstances, to let others know they’re not alone, and maybe just to stop someone else from making the same mistakes we did.

When people tell me their hardships, I often advise them to begin journaling because it’s recording the story that will become their testimony.  We must be willing to share our hurts and hang-ups and how God helped us through difficult times. It’s our witness to His faithfulness. It’s the opportunity to give purpose to a crisis. Otherwise, we spend our lives feeling sorry for ourselves. Revealing is the first step to healing.

The Bible tells us that“the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Hidden sin has us in a death grip that will kill us from the inside out. But exposed sin loses its power. We don’t have to worry about others finding out about our past. We can “Thank God we’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set us free to live openly in his freedom!” (personalized from Romans 6:18 The Message). One of the steps in most recovery programs is openly telling one’s testimony to a group. Public sharing frees us and allows God to minister to someone in the audience who is going through something similar.

When I told people I was writing Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter and would be including my daughter Kim’s story, they often asked, “How does she feel about that?” I assured them she wanted her story told to help others and, in fact, wrote portions in her own words:

Mom, I want to share my story in your book because you also need my perspective. How can you effectively write about you and me if you don’t know what I was feeling? You can’t teach others what to do correctly if you don’t know what works and doesn’t work with kids. I’m so thankful I’ve come to know the Lord, that my life is so blessed, and that I didn’t make too many serious mistakes along the way. If I can help you save one daughter by sharing my story, then that’s what I want to do!

Your testimony won’t always be shared in a public setting. God will bring people across your path and the Holy Spirit will prompt you to share one-on-one. When people ask Kim and me how we made it through, the best answer we can give them is, “We couldn’t have done it without God.”  And that’s your best answer too!

Kim and I had the opportunity to share “Our Story” at a Mother Daughter Tea at The Journey Church the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Watching my sweet daughter articulately share her prodigal journey as I shared mine, I could only imagine how God was smiling down on us. So many women came up and thanked us for being open and vulnerable.

What story is God asking you to tell and who needs to hear it? In all of my books, I give others the opportunity to have a venue for telling their story. I am currently receiving stories for my next three books. If any of these titles spark your interest, please contact me.

  • How Good is God? I Can’t Remember….10 Ways to Never Forget God’s Faithfulness
  • Dear God, Life is Hard
  • Mentoring: A Way of Life from the Pulpit to the Pew

 

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16 The Message)

 

Excerpts in this article are taken from Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.


 Kim and me Mother's Day Tea
Kim and me sharing “Our Story” at The Journey Church Mother’s Day Tea

Mother’s Day: Happy or Hurting

“I hate Mother’s Day!” said my dear friend who is longing for a baby. “You know that women struggling with infertility don’t go to church on Mother’s Day.” Kris agrees, “I was that mom-in-waiting for 16 years; I stayed away from baby showers, church, and friends who would get pregnant. I didn’t stop praying, but it WAS the worse pain.” Lisa concurs, “I am guilty of having skipped church a few years before we adopted my son.”

In my book, Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey, my own daughter wrote about her painful Mother’s Day experience:

Dear God,

It’s almost Mother’s Day and I don’t know if I can handle seeing all those happy moms at church and brunch. I’m trying to focus on my mom and not think about how I’m missing out on being a mommy on yet another Mother’s Day. This year is especially hard since we’ve been trying to be parents for so long and so hard, only to be repeatedly disappointed. At the store looking for a card for my mom, I see the cute cards at the end of the aisle “To Mommy”…oh God, I wish I were someone’s mommy! I look away and continue focusing at the task ahead, getting my mom and mothers-in-law their cards.

Today’s the day, it’s Mother’s Day. I don’t think I can bear it. It’s just begun and already I want this day over. I pull myself out of bed and get ready for church. I’m not looking forward to the sermon about children being a blessing and honoring mothers. God, help me focus on my mom.

We met my parents at church and I put on my happy face, when inside I was crying watching all the mothers with big smiles dressed in pretty spring dresses and children running all around. This was a day of celebration and I just wanted to go back to bed. The pastor started the message with asking all the mothers to stand up. Hundreds of women stood and everyone applauded. I couldn’t take it any longer and sat slouched over in my seat quietly crying. Toby put his arm around me and my mom held my hand, but nothing took away the pain. I barely heard the rest of the message.

After brunch, I came home, collapsed on my bed, and cried myself to sleep where I remained the rest of the day. God, please don’t make me go through another Mother’s Day with this hole in my heart. I want to stand up in church with all those other mothers beaming from ear to ear and have everyone applaud me. God, please let me stand up next year.

Mother’s Day is especially hard for mommies-in-waiting, but for most of these women, every day is hard. With 1 in 6 couples experiencing infertility, you are, or know, a woman experiencing this heartache. Often we don’t know what to say to them, so we say nothing, or maybe unintentionally say something that makes them feel worse. Kris, who I mentioned in the opening paragraph, says, “We cannot ignore them [women longing for a child]. I know how hard it was for people to talk to me. But I would have loved it if they did.”

In Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?, I offer tools to help you know the “Top Fifteen Things Not to Say or Do And To Say or Do to Someone Experiencing Infertility.” This list is also on the Infertility Support page on my website.

When I was writing the book, women often told me that the place they felt the loneliest was the church. That breaks my heart.  Jesus said he came for the sick, and that includes heartsick. The church should be a safe place for the hurting, not a place where they feel shunned or outcast.  How does your church comfort mommies-in-waiting on Mother’s Day and every day?

Mothers of Prodigals

Another group of women who will be hurting on Mother’s Day are the mothers of prodigals. They may not even know where there child is, or know all too well where they are and what they are doing that breaks a mother’s heart and the heart of God. These moms also need comforting, a hug, a reminder that this day is for them too and they are not forgotten or ignored.

I was that hurting mom and in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, I tell the story of praying daily that my daughter would find her way back to God, and six years later, she did. This Mother’s Day weekend she and I will be sharing our story at a Mother/Daughter tea. I’ve had a vision of us doing this for many years and prayed expectantly that God would bring my dream to life, and He has.

And Kim who was that heartsick mommy-in-waiting on Mother’s Day is now blessed with a family, but when we speak to the women God brings to this Mother’s Day Tea, neither of us will ever forget what it felt like to be hurting on Mother’s Day. We will speak with caring and compassion a comforting message of hope in God’s plan and timing. We won’t ignore these women, we will love on them!

I hope that you will do the same for the mommies-in-waiting, the moms of prodigals, or the moms who have lost a daughter or a son who may need a shoulder to cry on . . . a prayer . . . an understanding hug. If you’ve been where they’re at, mentor them like only someone who has been in their shoes can. If you haven’t been in their shoes, just let them know you can’t possibly understand, but you’re there for them and God is too!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”—1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

NOTE: Besides not knowing what to say, many of us don’t know what to give a mommy-in-waiting or a mom of a prodigal, and so we usually give them nothing. The books I have written for these women are full of hope and encouragement from the voices of other women who have walked the same journey, as well as from God’s Love Letter.  So for the month of May I’m running a sale on my website for Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? and Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. Another helpful book might be Face-to-Face with Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah: Pleading with God. I will sign and personalize each book.

40 Years of Love!

“I’m sorry, but you’ll never have children.” Those were the doctor’s words to me at a post-op visit after surgery for a ruptured ovarian cyst. “Your ovaries look like those of a 90 year-old woman.” I was a twenty year-old, newly engaged college student. My life was over. Or so I thought.

After three years of marriage, I was thrilled to hear another doctor congratulate me: “You’re pregnant!” My mother called it a miracle, but I just wanted to be like any normal woman who could get pregnant and have a baby.

The last week of pregnancy, when my baby was a week overdue, everyone kept calling to see if I was “still home.” I enjoyed every moment of those 9 months and one week, and even steeled myself through a natural, long delivery, but nothing could prepare me for what it would feel like to hold my baby girl—instant, unconditional love.

I was a mom at last! But I had no concept of the life-changing responsibility I was undertaking or the importance of my being an exemplary role model for her. After all, she was just an infant and I would have so many years to work out all the details of mothering.

Where did those years go? This week, February 26, my baby girl, Kimberly Michele, turns 40 and she is a mother herself of three precious children. I remember the day I turned 40 and it doesn’t seem that long ago.

Kim and I didn’t have the life journey I anticipated upon first looking into her dark brown eyes. When she was only 2 years-old, her dad and I divorced, and I would spend the next seventeen years as a single mom juggling motherhood and a career. To the outside world, I did a great job as I moved up the career ladder of success; but as I moved further into the world and father away from the Jesus I asked into my heart at eleven, I role modeled the world’s ways to Kim.

Kim loved our life and all that I was able to provide her, even though she often cried that she missed me, as I headed off on another business trip. But we had time, right? She was still young and eighteen years is a long time…. I’ll make up to her the time we’ve been apart.

But in a blink of an eye, she was sixteen and dating. Then within moments, she was nineteen and declaring she was going off to college to live with her boyfriend, and she didn’t care what I had to say about it. I had recently rededicated my life to the Lord and was now trying to tell her this lifestyle was wrong, but she wasn’t buying it.

I mistakenly thought that when I changed my life and returned to God, she would follow right behind me. Wrong! That’s when the Lord assured me that, yes, I had let the first nineteen years of her life slip by without including Him in the parenting, but it wasn’t over yet. And so I began praying—daily, biblically, expectantly, persistently, sacrificially, unceasingly, and thankfully—as I describe in the first seven chapters of my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

I’d like to say that she instantly changed her ways, but it would be another six years of daily praying before she returned to me and to the Lord.

The Lord graciously restored the years the locust had eaten. I had the opportunity to do what I should have done from the day she was born: mentor her in how to be a godly woman. Today, I am so proud of the woman she has become. We’re now speaking together as “Two About His Work,” and she’s giving her testimony in a few weeks at her MOPS group.

Even through the difficult years, my love for Kim never faltered. She knew I didn’t condone her behavior, but neither did I condemn her. Our relationship has endured and grown stronger in spite of divorce, single parenthood, a traveling mom, both our prodigal years, my remarriage and blending a new family, my breast cancer, her infertility, and all the trials and joys of life.

I thought I would feel terribly old the day she turned 40; but instead, I feel blessed with the 40 years God has given me to love my precious daughter, and I’m grateful that the work He has done in my life will carry on through the work He is doing in her life. She’s my legacy, and I have given her the most valuable of inheritances: belief in Jesus Christ. 40 years is nothing in light of spending eternity together.

Mentoring Words to Moms:

  • Are you the woman today you want your daughter to become?  You’re the closest role model and mentor your daughter has.
  • It’s never too early to pray daily for your children. Pray for them before you have a problem.
  • Praying personalized Scripture—God’s Word back to Him—keeps you praying God’s will and not your own.
  • Enjoy every day of your children’s lives—they never get younger and neither to do you. Make each day count.

Janet-and-Kim

My daughter Kim and I speak together as Two About His Work.

Web live interview on Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter

Wanted to let you know that I will be doing a live web interview tomorrow on my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. Here’s the information if you want to tune in and/or call in and chat.

It starts at 12:00 PM Central Time.

Let your friends and family know they can hear me online at h……ttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/webtv4women .

If they log on early they can sign up for a free account and join us in the Chat room. And they can call in with comments or questions at: 347-215-7328.


WebTV4Women on Blog Talk Radio
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Praying Scripture is Praying God’s Will

Have you ever wondered what God’s will was for your life or your children’s life? Wondered what to pray? Well I have found that personalizing God’s Word and praying it back to Him is one way to assure myself that I am praying with a pure heart.

Personalizing scripture is simply putting in names and pronouns. For example: “Lord, I pray that You will guard my daughter_____’s heart above all else, for it determines the course of her life (Proverbs 4:23 NLT).” In my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I have a section titled “Forty Days of Praying Scripture for Your Daughter,” which is simply personalized scriptures for the parents to insert their daughter’s name into and pray.

Three parents in our Hope for Parents of Prodigal Daughters Support Group had a breakthrough with their daughter after only praying scripture for three weeks. One daughter even was saved!!

Another parent wrote me: “Praying for our daughter has made her become more touchable to me through prayer than any other experience I tried to make happen. Our daughter has been separated from our family for 16 years…Praying Scripture has given me new insight into God’s Word and into my own heart, and becoming more real, and seeing our daughter as God sees her and intends her to be and become.”

If you haven’t prayed scripture before, try it this week in you quiet time with the Lord. If you have questions, just leave a comment and I’ll try to answer them.

Prayer works because we are partnering with God.

About His Work,
Janet