Why I Have Hope for Katy Perry

My book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, is about a prodigal, aka me, raising a prodigal. As I’ve read about Katy Perry’s recent public confessions of why she turned away from her childhood Christian faith, I saw a certain parallel to my life. No, I never became a multimillion dollar, outrageously popular pop star, but I did turn my back on my Christian faith after my divorce and became a very successful businesswoman living a worldly life while raising my prodigal.

Katy’s father is a pastor and her childhood home was faith-filled. In her public therapy session aired on Viceland, she went by her birth name Katheryn Hudson. Faithwire wrote an article from this session, Why Kathy Perry’s Rejection of Her Childhood Faith Should Concern Every Bible-Believing Christian. They quoted Hudson as saying, “I grew up with a lot of born-again Christian beliefs around me, and so I had people around me — like-minded people — and I would say it was a bit of a bubble,” Hudson explained. “I was a very curious person, and the curiosity — sometimes it wasn’t allowed because you had to have faith.”

The article goes on to say that Hudson explained she was “curious about what was going on in the rest of the world, and how they lived, and what they saw as they were living . . . I felt like I was missing out.” She decided to explore her singing career further to “pop [her] own bubble, to get out of [her] own situation.”

“I guess I was just trying to get out of one way of thinking. It was like ‘do as I say, no ifs, ands, or buts. It was based on my religious upbringing… I have so many questions. I ask all the questions in the world, and all the questions in the world have gotten me to where I am at now.” [To read the whole article]

There is so much in that last statement about finding answers in the world, which made her rich and famous, but spiritually bankrupt denouncing her faith and  singing songs with provocative, shocking lyrics and movements that many young girls listen to and imitate.

Why did she turn to the world for answers? Because she couldn’t find answers to her questions in the church. She was raised around born-again Christians, but never actually says she was born-again.

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I challenge the church with that same thought: “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to. Not encumber them with rules easily broken, but guide them toward a relationship they wouldn’t forfeit or jeopardize for anything.” I ask the question: “How many are making sure their children and grandchildren understand, accept, and embrace the Christian lifestyle? How many know, for certain, their children have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

Again I warn in Forsaken God?: “The church failed to reach out to the next generation with a message relevant to the world they live in today, but the secular world was ready and waiting for them. . . .Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.”

I stress exactly what Katy Perry said she couldn’t get from the Christian “bubble.”

They need mentors and parents to have the tough, honest discussion about abortion, sexuality, sexual exploitation, marriage, same-sex attraction, transgenderism, radical Islam, cults, drugs, alcohol, suicide . . . whatever they’re facing in their world.

My “Katy Perry” Story

When I left my good-girl Christian lifestyle, even though I was a born-again Christian since age eleven, I felt just like Katy that I was missing something “out in the world.” Satan makes sin seem fun and enticing. And there were plenty of people ready to teach me the “world’s ways.” I was naïve enough not to understand how quickly I was being sucked into that lifestyle.

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home like Katy was, but I did have a very devout grandmother who planted the seeds of faith in me. My mother would drop me off at church, but I was on my own. I loved everything about church and did find mentors and “spiritual mothers” to answer my questions until I went away to college and there was no one guiding me not to marry an unbeliever or pray with me about my choices.

What Brought Me Back to the Lord?

After seventeen years of backsliding, I was invited to a Harvest Crusade where Pastor Greg Laurie asked the crowd if they were ready to die that night? The Lord had gradually been bringing me back to Him through attending Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and I knew the answer to Pastor Laurie’s question was, no. I rededicated my life to the Lord that night and God has been using me About His Work ever since.

I think Katy Perry, Katherine Hudson’s, public “therapy” session is her cry for help. I know she feels God on her shoulder calling her back with every provocative move, word, and action she uses to try to separate from Him.

What Can We Do?

Katy Perry’s mother, a minister’s wife, author, and a mentor to many Christian women, has some advice that she shared in an interview by J. Lee Grady, Charisma News, “How Katy Perry’s Mother Praises God Through the Pain.” Grady asks: How does a Christian mother handle it when she sees her daughter drifting so far from the values she taught her?

“The devil definitely tries to steal my joy,” Mary told me. “I sometimes have to fight depression.” A few years ago, Mary anchored her soul to Psalm 113:9, which says, “He gives the barren woman a dwelling, making her the joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

“That verse inspired her to write her 2015 book, Joyful Parent, Happy Home. Mary believes if you want your children to live for God, “You have to get happy and stay in the ‘God zone.’ Mary’s close friends also support her unconditionally. And she asks new friends to agree with her in prayer for a miracle turnaround for her daughter . . . Mary believes parents of prodigals must focus on others rather than wallowing in their own pain. For the past 11 years she has poured her life into women who attend her Arise conferences.” The full interview is at CharismaNews.

Mary also mentioned something important that I share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: show unconditional love to your prodigal, and as much as it is up to you, keep the lines of communication open.

Praise God, both my daughter and I enjoy a wonderful relationship with God and each other. I now have precious grandchildren to help pour into spiritually. I want to make sure I’m not just telling them what to believe, but helping them come to their own conclusions. To feel free to ask us questions and to help them solve their faith problems without giving them the answers we think they should arrive at. To help them develop problem-solving techniques and know where and how to go to the Bible when they question something happening in the world.

When they ask if I know that Katy Perry “used to be a Christian,” we talk about the fact that if she did give her heart to Jesus as a child, she still is a Christian, but she’s not living like one, so let’s pray for her.

The 6/26/17 issue of Time Magazine, quoted Katy’s apology for “criticized acts of cultural appropriation”: “I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong. And sometimes that’s what it takes.” Let’s pray Katy hears from God that she’s been doing wrong and apologizes to Him. Someday, Katy could have an amazing testimony and God will use it for good. Pray it’s soon before she influences more young girls and women for the world.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

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PS I just realized this is the end of June already and should be Love Your Body Monday, but this post was on my heart so I’ll post a Love Your Body blog for the 4th of July week!

Are You The Woman Today You Want Your Daughter to Become?

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I’ve been writing, editing, and proofing a new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Last week, I turned in my final proof edit to the publishers, Leafwood Publisher, as I anticipate it’s September 12, 2017 release. Then I learned the exciting news that this book is now on Amazon ready for preorders! You can order now, and as soon as it’s in stock at Amazon, you’ll receive your pre-release copies. The more preorders, the more they bring in stock. Will you help me get this book into the hands of mentors and mentees, those wanting to know how to be a mentor or mentee, and Women’s Ministry Directors to guide women in all seasons of their life.

This book will guide and equip women from tweens to twilight seasons in how to biblically mentor or be a mentee! I think it’s the first book of it’s kind written for both M&M’S! One endorser has already said every Women’s Ministry Director needs this book in her library. As the summer goes on, I’ll share more tidbits about this book for all women.  So drum roll please . . . I’m unveiling the cover!

The Mothering Season

When I speak to women about mentoring, I tell them that their first mentoring responsibility is to their daughters if they have daughters or nieces. They’re the role model for these young girls and they’re mentoring to them what it looks like to be a woman today: either a woman of the world or a woman of the Word. And then, I ask the question: Are you the woman today you want your daughters to become because they’re watching you, and as much as they don’t want to be like you, they will probably become just like you at sometime in their life.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how during my backsliding years, my daughter wanted to be just like me. I realized some of the poor choices she was making were a reflection of the poor choices she was watching me make.

That was a huge revelation to me that I needed to make some changes in my life. When I did rededicate my life to the Lord and start living a godly life, she didn’t want any part of it. She liked the way we were living more by the world’s standards than by God’s ways. And that’s the story I talk about in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I went down on my knees and prayed Scripture for her daily for six years; all the time showing and role modeling for her the blessings of being a rededicated woman of faith.

I’m happy to say our story took a happy turn and Kim did eventually give her heart to Jesus, and she has done a much better job than I did raising her three children in a Christian household. She’s mentored them in character qualities that her two daughters and son are obviously noticing. For a school project, 3rd grader Sienna was to write why her mom should be in People Magazine. I must admit, I was troubled by this teacher’s choice of a magazine that 3rd graders had no business knowing about or writing an article for, so I was relieved when Sienna said she had no idea what People Magazine was, anyway!

But what did impress me were the character qualities Sienna wrote that she saw in her mom. My daughter is a fitness instructor with a fabulous figure, she’s gorgeous, dresses stylishly, and always looks beautiful. So when Sienna decided to write about why her mom should be on the cover of People Magazine, she easily could have talked about these superficial, outward qualities, but at eight-years old this is what she wrote, exactly how she wrote it, no edits from Grammie:

My mom should be on the cover of the People magazine. My mom’s name is Kim Mancini. My mom is medium height, has brown hair, and her eyes are brown. There are so many reasons why my mom should be on the cover of the People Magazine.

One of the amazing things about my mom is that she is trustworthy. My mom trusts me all the time. My mom does not lie. My mom is trustworthy with my whole family. Now you know why my mom is trustworthy.

My mom is the most honest person in the world. She is honest with me. She once said, “Do not be scared that’s not real.” My mom is honest with my grandparents. There is no doubt, my mom should be on the People Magazine because she is so honest.

My mom is so helpful. My mom helps me when I am hurt. My mom helps me with my homework. She helps me get ready for school. My mom should win an award for being the best mom ever. My mom is the best mom in the world.

By Sienna

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Sienna’s mom, is trustworthy, honest, and helpful. Later she wished she had included hardworking. Isn’t that what every mom wants all her children, not just her daughters, to say about her?! Good job Kim.

What would your kids write why you should be on the cover of People Magazine?

The Mancini family. Sienna is next to her brother

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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.

But…

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.

Back.

“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?

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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)

www.loriwildenberg.blogspot.com

www.loriwildenberg.com

www.facebook.com/momstogether

www.facebook.com/1Corinthians13Parenting

www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com
https://twitter.com/LoriWildenberg

https://pinterest.com/loriwildenberg/

Instagram: LoriWildenberg

Left for College a Christian, Returned an Atheist

 

First RC College Pre Group of High Schoolers

First RC College Prep Group of High Schoolers

  In my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I have a section on Generation to Generation where I discuss the tragedy of losing the next generation for God, especially college age kids, and what we can do to keep them sold out for Jesus. I also share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter how I ignored the warning signs when my daughter was taught about Darwinism and evolution in High School.

With the influx of liberal professors on college campuses, it’s vital that parents know about the mentioning ministry Ratio Christi.

Ratio Christi has 150 chapters on college campuses teaching Christian apologetics – the history, philosophy and science which supports the Bible and the life, death & resurrection of Christ. This strengthens the students’ faith, helps to stem the tide of “youth flight” from church due to the secularization of our colleges, and makes our young people stronger witnesses. We have also now started doing high school apologetics and have a goal of being on all college campuses.

 Sadly, this doesn’t just happen in high school and on college campuses. My granddaughter was only in third grade when she was disciplined by a teacher for defending her Christian faith to two girls who were bullying her at school. My granddaughter was the one  called out, not the other two girls.

Her teacher told her not to talk about Jesus again at school, and I told my granddaughter that teacher was out of line and together we looked at the Scriptures:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

“So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:8

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

In my new book releasing September 12, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness I stress the importance of tweens and college age children and young adults having a mentor so they are ready to defend their faith and not succumb to teachers or other kids’ pressure when their faith is under attack. Statistics are alarming of the number of kids who went to church faithfully while home, but stopped going to church once they went to college.

Sheryl Young is one of the national leaders of Ration Christi and she shares with you what parents can do to help their children stay strong in their faith.

What a Difference a College Class Makes in a Christian Kid’s Life

By Sheryl Young

“So how was your first semester of college?”

“Mom, dad, I’m an atheist now.”

This dreaded conversation took place in the home of a friend of mine, but it’s happening throughout the United States today. It’s no wonder, with kids from Christian homes hearing the following statements almost as soon as they reach the college campus:

“There is no good reason to believe in Christ.”

“There is no logic or reason to Christianity.”

“You will not mention God in my classroom.”

It should be no secret to any Christian family today that colleges and universities have become a bastion of secularism and atheism. The atheist movement in academia is trying at every turn to move students away from a firm faith in Christ.

God’s Not Dead may be a movie with fictional characters such as a bitter atheist professor and few students with the courage to stand against him, but it is based on real-life events.

Make no mistake. Christian parents and grandparents are doing their children a great disservice by telling them that Christianity is just “because the Bible says so” or “because the pastor says so” or “because I say so.” It’s like sending them straight from grade school to college. It simply doesn’t hold any water in today’s culture.

1 Peter 3:15 says: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV). We don’t show respect for nonbelievers, or ourselves, when we haven’t researched the reasons for our faith. Having “blind faith” may be good inside churched walls, but it won’t be understood by outsiders: it’s foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Josh McDowell, a foremost expert comparing Christian with secular youth, says in The Last Christian Generation: “The majority of our churched young people do not believe Christ is the Son of God, do not believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity, and think ‘doing good’ earns them a place in Heaven.”

What do we expect when they get one hour of Sunday school or youth group, and eight hours in school where they’re taught “there’s no absolute truth” and the Bible isn’t acceptable?

Are We Exaggerating the “youth exodus” from Church?

No. Statistics in various studies show that 50 to 70 percent of American youth drop out of church and leave their Christian beliefs between the ages of 18 and 22. For example, in David Kinnaman’s 2011 book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith, he cites research showing nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15. That’s nearly 70 percent.

The increasing number of atheist professors on college campuses is a direct connection to students losing faith. A study at George Mason University revealed that the percentage of professing atheists and agnostics among college professors is 26 percent higher than the general U.S. population. In addition, 51 percent of professors describe the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6 percent of college professors say the Bible is “the actual word of God.”

We’ve all heard the stories of Christmas song censorship, valedictorians forbidden to mention God, and football teams not allowed to have student-led prayer. Many school districts do not understand – or choose to ignore – the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment on school property, especially when it comes to Christianity. Christian students and faculty are having their rights and viewpoints trampled.

“Political correctness” isn’t limited to public education. Many private schools, even some in Christian denominations, now support the “valuing diversity” theme that makes allowances for those who do not hold to biblical principles.

Let’s hear it from the young people – how do they feel?

I [Sheryl Young] work with a ministry called Ratio Christi, and I thank Janet Thompson for letting me write here about this issue. Ratio Christi (“Reason of Christ” in Latin) is a nonprofit international campus ministry with over 150 chapters, which exist to encourage and strengthen the faith of Christian students through the use of intellectual investigation called “Christian apologetics” – learning the historical, scientific and philosophical evidence that gives logic, reason and credibility to our Christian faith when presenting it to others.

Curtis Hrischuk, the chapter director for Ratio Christi at North Carolina State University, says: “Most of the students we get are confused when they arrive at college. They’re realizing that they don’t have a strong basis for their faith, and they’re looking for help.”

Ratio Christi’s chapter leaders often hear from their Christian students that even throughout high school they didn’t receive a strong basis of theology to prepare them to face the secular pressure once they got to college. Many felt their church youth groups were all fun and games to keep them occupied, or automatically supposed that kids who came to church were already grounded in the faith and didn’t need much help. Some felt they could speak about deep Christian issues with their parents, and others didn’t.

Grant, a student from the University of Alabama says, “My youth group studied the Bible but (the teachers) pre-supposed that we accepted it as truth.”

Or Bentley from the University of Mississippi: “I was missing the historical, foundation principles and background of Christianity.  I felt it was extremely important to understand who God is, why I believe what I believe, and understand how to defend my faith against those who might try to disrupt it.”

Going back to McDowell’s The Last Christian Generation, he writes of his surveys:

  • Only 33 percent of churched youth said church would be part of their lives when they leave home.
  • 63 percent of them don’t believe Jesus is the only true way to God.
  • Only 6 percent of publicly schooled children now come away with a true belief in the Bible.

It cannot continue to be a church mantra, or a mantra in Christian homes, that our blind faith is enough. Not if we want our kids to keep their faith intact and be persuasive witnesses for Christianity later in life.

 Ratio Christi Can Help

RC Large Logo.jpg Ratio Christi (RC) students learn to present factual and philosophical evidence for God in classrooms led by atheist professors or to other groups of nonbelievers – and they often end up getting that opportunity. RC students and leaders invite atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and adherents to any religion to attend sessions and investigate the claims of Christianity in friendly discussions.

The nonprofit ministry’s president, Corey Miller, says, “Students who identify themselves as Christians at the beginning of college, with the rest of their lives and careers ahead of them, are under fierce attack and are leaving the Christian faith in alarming numbers.”

A Ratio Christi club member from the University of Virginia, Caitlin says, “If it weren’t for Ratio Christi, I’m not sure I would still be a Christian.” CaitlinBentley adds, “Ratio Christi has taught me how to converse with others about Christianity. It has helped me become more comfortable about being an evangelist of Christ to others.”

Here’s a student named Blake from a Ratio Christi high school-aged group preparing for college:

“Apologetics has given me compelling evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, and so much more! I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for apologetics, I would not be as effective a witness for Christ.”

Home school groups, school teachers, clergy, church members, parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens are welcome to get involved with RC at all levels, from prayer to becoming RC mentors. Individuals and churches can “adopt a college” to help start a RC chapter if there  isn’t one at their nearest college. Parents might want to learn apologetics along with their kids so that there are no blank stares across the dinner table if a teen comes home excited about what they are discovering.

Learn more about how you can get involved with Ratio Christi, or find a college chapter. If a student can’t find an existing chapter at a college of their choice, or wants to find out how to get involved at the high school level, Contact Us. Young people are our future. Helping them know their Lord is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Sheryl Young is the Media Outreach Coordinator for Ratio Christi, and interviews many chapter students and leaders for RC’s national newsletter.

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In God’s Hands

Open handsRosalie Campbell and I have been friends for many years. We met at a Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference when Rosalie became interested in my Woman to Woman Mentoring resources, since she also has a heart for mentoring. Rosalie answered God’s call to start Garden Path Ministries. We have stayed in touch over the years. Rosalie has since retired from her ministry and became a widow several years ago. She has shared several stories in my books and her church is currently starting a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry. Read more at the end of this post about how God has used this sweet woman in the years since she became a Christian in her forties. I know you’ll be inspired to pray about the plans God has for you too.

I knew when I saw the email from Rosalie with an attachment that she was sending me another story. As I read “In God’s Hands,” I knew God wanted me to share Rosalie’s story with you. I’m sure there are many of you who can relate.

In God’s Hands by Rosalie Campbell

I haven’t been sleeping well for the past few weeks. When the stock market plummeted recently, I worried about my dwindling finances and investments. I felt like I was in a stew: constantly simmering over my circumstances and the difficult relationships with my three grown daughters.

One night, as I tossed and turned in bed, I mulled a hundred things over in my mind and plotted different scenarios for managing my life. Then God spoke to my heart. Even though He usually speaks in a still, small voice, His message was loud and clear. He told me, “Open your hands!” I thought, Okay, Lord. As I opened my hands and stretched them out, I realized I couldn’t hold onto anything with my fingers apart and palms open. I couldn’t even pull up the blanket.

God revealed, “This is how I want your hands – open so I can take all that you have been holding onto: worries, concerns, hurts, regrets, hang-ups, disappointments, control of your circumstances, and the difficult relationships you face.

God reinforced that same message as I read the September devotional from In Touch Magazine. It was titled, “The Way to Finish Well,” which focuses on 2 Timothy 4:6-8. The author, Charles Stanley, asked the question: How can God’s people finish well in life?

Stanley answered, “God doesn’t require us to have perfect lives in order to finish strong. We can live abundantly and be ready to meet our Maker by surrendering, walking victoriously with Christ, and serving others.”

I contemplated those words – surrendering, walking with Christ, and serving others.

When I think of surrender, I picture a thief caught with a bag of stolen goods. The cops or feds come in and tell that person, “Drop it and hold up your hands.”

God is neither a police officer nor a federal marshal insisting we release “our stuff.” He is a mighty, loving God who is willing and able to carry all our burdens. Matthew 11:28 tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Our part is to have a willingness to release those heavy weights to Him. Then He gives us peace. God doesn’t force us to drop our heavy load. Yet, He wants us to release it to Him because He knows if we continue to carry it, our well-being (mind, heart, soul) will be harmed.

I thought about all the concerns, hurts, and worries I needed to surrender to God. God’s Word says He would carry them instead of me. I liked the idea of releasing the whole heavy bundle of stuff I was carrying. I decided it was time to do it. I gave it all to Him!

The next step after surrender is to take God’s right hand. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Those words assure me I will be safe and secure at His side. With my left hand in His, God will support, guide, direct, and help me. My right hand is free to reach out to others: to serve and help them. Proverbs 31:20 says, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

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This was a simple yet powerful life lesson for me. The whole process resembles a cross. As I stand firm on the foundation of God’s Word (Jesus Christ), I raise my hands up to God, then surrender and let Him have all control of my life. Then I give my one hand to God so He can guide me on my life’s journey and my other hand is free to serve others. I become an extension of God’s love and grace.

I felt an amazing sense of relief as I surrendered my finances for God to resolve. Now my part is to stay within a limited budget and be wise with the money I have left.

I have also surrendered my relationships with my three daughters. Over the years, I have desperately tried various ways to receive their love (with gifts, trips, lunches out) so I could feel good about being their mother. It finally dawned on me that I had been looking to them to bring me fulfillment. The truth is: they are not at a place or mindset to give me their love or respect. I have been “looking for love in all the wrong places” as the song goes. My daughters are not perfect; they can only give me a fraction of the love I need.

I was looking for unconditional love. The unconditional and perfect love comes from God. My fulfillment comes from Him because He fills all my needs. As I seek Him, God is the One who gives me the full measure of the love I need. I stand confident and assured that He will never leave me or forsake me. He is by my side holding my hand. As I hold onto God’s hand and walk with Him, He directs my path. He has a plan and purpose for me. He wants me to love and serve others.

God, through His Holy Spirit, equips me with spiritual gifts. He gives me opportunities to utilize those gifts. My role, as a godly woman, is to reach out with my hands to those in need.  

What we do with our hands is crucial to leading a fulfilling life.

How have you seen God use your hands when you surrender all to Him?

If you received this blog by email, comment here.

Rosalie Campbell

Rosalie Campbell accepted the Lord Jesus in her life while in her 40’s. As a new Christian, she was discipled for two years by a godly woman from her church. Rosalie worked as an interior designer in her own company, Design Trends, for over twenty years. God urged her to serve in ministry by “decorating hearts instead of homes.” She reached out to women who struggled with emotional hurts and led a Bible study for divorced and widowed women then started support groups for ACADF (Adult Children of Alcoholics or Dysfunctional Families). After seven years of facilitating these groups, she wrote a study, Come Back to the Garden, for women who wanted to find restoration from past hurts.
In 1998, Rosalie founded and established Garden Path Ministries as a non-profit organization to educate, equip and encourage women in transition and crisis situations.

In 2002, she had an opportunity to offer her garden study as a correspondence course for women in prison. These courses matched Christian women on the outside to encourage women inside the bars. In 2008, GPM filmed a series called Living Skills for Success, an eight-part video series with qualified Christian speakers on topics to help female inmates re-enter society and lead productive lives. This program continued until 2012. The correspondence course is still being used in prisons in California, Texas and Oklahoma. Over the years, GPM trained many women from local churches to be respondents to inmates doing the course as well as volunteers for ministry work.

Rosalie felt God urging her to write two studies for men and women in prison that would be easily understood and give the basics for spiritual growth. Turning from Darkness to Light and The Shepherd’s Voice are distributed to inmates through the chaplains at prisons Arizona and California. Over 7,350 of these studies in English and Spanish have been sent to inmates.

In 2012, God opened a new door of opportunity for Garden Path Ministries. When a retired parole officer in Riverside County, CA volunteered for the ministry, she saw the need to help people make the transition from prison to life on the outside. She arranged to get a vacant office space in Moreno Valley, CA donated for ministry use.
With the grace of God, FOCUS Outreach Center was birthed and has expanded to three office spaces. GPM began offering the Living Skills program to women recently paroled. This outreach ministry took a different direction due to the needs in the community. Because of the many homeless people who camp nearby, FOCUS now provides food (serving over 630 meals per month) clothing, haircuts, and court approved programs for recovery, parenting, anger management, domestic violence drug and alcohol counseling. Today, ninety-five percent of the clients of FOCUS are men.

Rosalie is still very active in the ministry. Her journey in ministry has been a joyful yet challenging one. It took many twists and turns, ups and downs. Through it all God led the way. All that has been done has been through the amazing grace of the LORD. A wise pastor once told Rosalie, “A good leader will work her out of a job and turn it over to another qualified person who wants to serve the Lord.” Recently, she turned over the administrative duties of GPM and FOCUS Outreach Center into the capable hands of a devoted volunteer, Teddi Vesey.
This year, Rosalie started Janet Thompson’s, Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at her church in Menifee, CA.

Prisoners of “Choice” by Patti Smith

As believers, we know God’s timing is perfect; we just need to listen for His voice and obediently follow the guidance and direction He gives us daily. My ears are always open to His voice, and I’m looking for God in every circumstance of my life. Several weeks ago, I posted on Facebook this article, The Power of Pro-Life Women: It’s time to harness “feminine authority” to protect the unborn. I added this comment:

This is a great article. Women deserve better than abortion. They’ll have to live with the grief, trauma, guilt, sin, and consequences for the rest of their lives. Abortion is not a “women’s issue”; rather, it is a human issue that affects women uniquely” and women need to speak out against it offering hope, encouragement, and support for saving human lives. Men can only speak intellectually … women speak from experience. Don’t let Hilary be the women’s voice in the next election.

A short while after posting that comment, I received a Facebook Private message from Patti Smith: “Don’t know if you read my blog post about pro-life feminists but here is the link.” Patti sent me the link to today’s blog post, which I’m sharing with her permission. It’s a powerful article and a dramatic window into the other side of the Pro-choice feminist rhetoric about women’s health and right to her body.

Patti’s article here, along with the newly released Sidewalk Chronicles, in which Patti appears, should encourage you to be the “feminist” voice for why Prolife is the healthiest choice and right of women and babies. Sidewalk Chronicles is about an hour long, so after you read this blog post, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and listen to the voices of women like Patti who know the tragic effects of abortion on the life of the woman. It exposes the ugly truth that Planned Parenthood never tells women, and exposes the ignorance of “Pro Choice” advocates who are clueless about the prison of guilt and shame these women experience.

This article will also help women struggling with the abortion choices they’ve made in the past. At the end of the post there are post-abortive helpful resources.

For now, read Patti’s account of using her testimony to help women who have had abortions and find themselves not only in an emotional prison … but also inmates in physical prison.

PRISONERS OF “CHOICE”

by PATTI SMITH

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Three of us stood at a bulletproof window separating us from an armed, uniformed receptionist. She slid a sign-in sheet and black pen through a small opening and asked us to sign it and exchange our driver’s licenses for a visitor’s badge. I thought back to the orientation: In the case of lock-down, visitors will be escorted out; however, under certain circumstances they may be required to stay until the situation is resolved. What was I getting myself into? Maybe my husband was right, and I should have declined the invitation to co-lead one of the, post-abortion healing retreats that Rachel’s Hope takes into the local women’s jail.

The metal door opened and for security reasons, we had to go through one door at a time. I was first, and as the door thundered shut behind me, I faced another metal door. Being claustrophobic, I started breathing heavily in this little portal, even though it was only seconds before the second door opened.

The chaplain and biggest supporter of bringing post-abortion healing to incarcerated women, waited for us on the other side of the doors. The retreat was in the library on the opposite side of the facility. Curious eyes followed us as we passed the high chain link fences that enclosed small yard areas outside each dorm-style cell. The cells seemed absent of any form of comfort or homeyness … just bunk beds and bare walls.

We arrived at the library and began making the room less institutionalized: more inviting and calming to create an environment that would help the participants forget for a while where they were. Open flames weren’t allowed, so we scattered battery-operated candles around the room. The chaplain provided pencils … the tiny ones used by golfers because larger ones are potential weapons. We brought in a variety of snacks—a special treat for participating in the program and one more way to make the women feel special.

I expected to see cold-hearted criminals, smacking gum, and sneering at the “church ladies,but as the seven women entered, I was taken aback. Although displaying pleasure with the décor and practically drooling over the snacks, they were visibly anxious and nervously chatting among themselves. One inmate, Ann, told me later that she, as well as the others, avoided approaching “the ladies” in fear of saying something stupid or wrong. In addition to anxiety, their faces displayed defeat, sadness, and pain.

Sharing Their Abortion Stories

The first activity involved going around the room and sharing our abortion stories. We three co-leaders went first. As we spoke, the women nodded their heads and exchanged knowing looks. Although I was the only co-leader that suffered from alcoholism, albeit sixteen year sober, and institutionalized for depression, we all had past demons. While we shared, the women whispered, “Them too?”

Their offenses primarily related to drug and alcohol possession, possession for sale, and some cases theft and assault. All but one in the group had obtained multiple abortions, including Susan, who had over ten. They either had been encouraged to abort by parents or a significant other, felt it was best due to their living situation, or as Susan candidly disclosed, “a form of birth control.”

They tried to maintain a sense of “being cool” while sharing their stories, but it didn’t take long before the dam of pain and remorse broke, releasing torrents of tears. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their pregnancies, they weren’t prepared for the havoc their “choice” would wreak on their lives.

Abortion Often Leads to Destructive/Abusive Behavior

Substance abuse is common among many women trying to deal with the emotional turmoil from abortion. It’s a temporary way to forget or minimize what we have done; however, the negative feelings continue to surface, which leads to more and more self-medicating. Dependence increases to the point of desperation and total loss of control. These women were all involved with drugs and alcohol at some level, and hearing their stories, I thought, There but for the grace of God, go I.

I’m a recovering alcoholic. Abusing alcohol was the method I used to forget my two abortions. I drove drunk all the time, but never got caught. I could have easily caused an accident resulting in injury or death to another person and ended up attending this jail retreat instead of co-leading.

While drugs and/or alcohol are used to numb emotional pain, they also disclose other self-destructive behavior, such as promiscuity. None of these women served time for prostitution, but they all admitted to numerous sexual encounters. Again, the same applied to me; in fact, I had a nickname back in the day: “Pass around Patti.” Sex is a weapon to combat self-loathing. We’re duped by the misguided notion that sex equals love, so the more love, the better. Eventually, we come to our senses and end up demoralized and ashamed.

In an attempt to “settle down,” we try to become monogamous, and end up in multiple unsatisfying, or sometimes abusive, relationships. I’ve been engaged too many times to count, entered into several affairs with married men, and am on husband number three. A distorted self-image makes us feel undeserving of being truly happy so we “settle,” which only adds more misery to our already fragile emotional state.

Assault behavior can stem from suppressing feelings of lack of control in our lives, and subsequently, those feelings escape in the form of physical violence. When we transfer the pain to another, the relief is so great; it mimics a chemically induced “high.” Just as with drugs and alcohol, however, the “high” eventually dissipates, and the need for relief returns. Personally, I resorted to verbal assaults, lashing out at loved ones for no reason. The pain I inflicted left emotional scars as ugly as any physical ones. I spared no one in my family or circle of friends.

When discussing destructive behaviors and consequences, each of these women disclosed something that had not even crossed my mind. In an odd twist of fate, their self-destructive methods of dealing with the emotional turmoil of abortion(s) eventually resulted in losing custody, temporarily or permanently, of the children they chose to keep. This happens on the “outside” as well. Self-destructive behavior doesn’t always lead to illegal activity, but threatens the well-being of children.

As for me, I never lost custody of a child, but I did purposely lose the ability to have one. I convinced a doctor to give me a tubal ligation at the age of thirty, and I know of other women compelled to do the same.

All destructive behaviors, illegal or otherwise, are a way of coping that reflects a form of self-punishment. Three of the inmates admitted to having suicidal thoughts, a permanent solution to end the pain and anguish. Their admission brought back memories of the darkness I experienced prior to institutionalization for being suicidal and telling the psychiatrist that I was already dead inside and just wanted to finish the job.

The Lies of the Abortion Industry Revealed

As the retreat progressed, we grew to love these women, and when it was over, we hated to say good-by. Although we weren’t supposed to have physical contact, hugs were in order.

When I initially walked through those metal doors, I expected to find a significant difference between “them” and “us.” Instead, I realized we are all sisters in suffering that fell prey to the pro-choice rhetoric. We experienced the same pain, remorse, and regret, and exhibited the same behaviors, just to different extents. We used whatever means necessary in an attempt to find peace and regain control of our lives.

The abortion industry uses the feminist movement as its primary marketing target by promoting “my body; my choice” as a source of empowerment. But empowerment requires that a woman feels comfortable in her own skin, confident, and at peace. Once a woman has an abortion, empowerment slowly slips away leaving a gaping wound in her soul filled with pain, self-hatred, guilt, shame, and remorse.

The number of pro-life feminists is growing, which actually should be the rule rather than the exception. They are the ones not only fighting for the rights of the unborn, but for the well-being of women. They are exposing the lies perpetuated by the abortion industry; the lies that lead women to believe that choosing abortion over life is a source of empowerment with no ill effects.

Really? Take a walk with me behind that metal door.

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

Note from Patti: I am not claiming incarcerated post-abortive women are there because of their abortion. They’re incarcerated due to their actions. However, the psychological effects of their “choice” could have easily exacerbated other contributing factors.

Note from Janet: All names, expect Patti’s, are fictitious, but the story is all too real! Please share this post, and let’s all become “Prolife feminists” who support the right to life and the right to a woman not experiencing the emotional, physical, and spiritual ravages of abortion. Listen to Sidewalk Chronicles for ways to help these women save their baby’s life and their own lives.

Rachel’s Hope is located in San Diego, CA, but there’s also an international program Rachel’s Vineyard, and many others listed at Silent No More.

Patti Smith

Patti J. Smith serves as Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, leads Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats, and recently developed a follow-up retreat, “The Healing Continues,” a contemplative/meditative one-day program to reflect on life after healing. She has shared her testimony at the San Francisco Walk for Life, speaks at a variety of venues in the San Diego area, and appears in the recently released documentary, Sidewalk Chronicles, She has also been a guest on Immaculate Heart, Cradle My Heart, and Blogtalk Radio as well as Radio Maria.

Patti is the author of Moments with God, and Redeemed, co-authored a Christian romance series, and is completing Volume 4 of her own Christian suspense series. Visit Patti’s blog.

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I Will Not Be Ashamed!

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The media would have you think that surveys are proving the Christian population is diminishing, but you know better than to believe everything you read and hear. We live in an era where liberals are intent on demoralizing, demeaning, and denouncing Christians and everything we stand for and believe. Their strongest tactic is trying to shame us and use the power of words and name calling to threaten us into backing down from our faith and God’s Word.

But I hope you stand with me and the apostle Paul who said to his mentee, Timothy:

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

—2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

Vine’s definition of ashamed: “A strong feeling of shame preventing a person from doing something.”

If God wants us to do something and the Holy Spirit prompts us—regardless of how “politically incorrect” or unpopular it might be, we need to stand proud of our Lord and Savior and follow the Great Commission He left for us to live out. We need to stand together against the pressure of this world to shame us—no matter how many names they call us, laws they pass to quiet us, or how unpopular we become personally … our job as Christians is to speak and live the Gospel.

The Christian World is Not Shrinking

Reality is that the true Christian population is not shrinking—Christians who would never back down in the face of adversity are actually increasing. What is shrinking is the gap between those who call themselves “Christian” hoping for a free ticket to heaven while following the world’s ways, and those who identify with Christ and are willing to follow Him wherever He leads, even if it means suffering for the Gospel, as Paul did.

Both Jesus and Paul were rivals to the accepted culture of their day and everything they did upset the social order. Why would we think it so strange when we encounter the same reaction and persecution?

Pseudo-Christians are looking for a gospel they’ll never find: one that allows them not to make waves and keep their faith “private.” As that becomes more impossible, their faith becomes weaker and they fall away. Those “so called” Christians become lesser in number.

But to those who have the courage to be unpopular for Christ no matter what—their faith becomes stronger and their stance against the wrongs of this world becomes bolder. Yes, praise God, the true Christian population is increasing. Again just like Paul tells Timothy, these Christians will:

With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 10 And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.—2 Timothy 1:8-10

There’s Only One Kind of Christian

God shields every Christian who believes in living out the Bible—and only the Bible. A new term has caught my attention: “Bible-believing Christian.” I shake my head every time I hear it because there is no other kind of Christian. If you don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, call yourself anything you want, but don’t call yourself a Christian because that’s blasphemy and heresy.

God ordains the steps of every Christian. We need to be using what He has given us in the time that we have here on Earth. God had a reason for saving us. So when we speak up for God, He gives our words power and He infuses us with courage. Holy people love God and others and tell the truth about God to everyone.

Liberals use the argument that Jesus loved everyone so Christians should love everyone’s sins. But they’re twisting the word “love” to mean what they want it to mean. To use “love” to justify sin is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught.

It’s true that Jesus loved the world and that’s why He died for everyone to have freedom from sin—sins that God hates. Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we could keep on sinning, but that we could live a life free from sin. That’s the true loving Gospel. Sharing the love of Christ and the Gospel with someone is the most loving thing you could do. Because …

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.–Hebrews 10:25-27

Sin is Sin Even When Our Family is Doing It

I know firsthand that one of the hardest things as a parent is to watch our children choose to sin. I wrote a book about Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter so I know the heartbreak of feeling like you can’t do anything to stop them. But you can love them and pray for them. The most unloving thing you can do is enable them by overlooking their sin, indulging their sin, or trying to convince yourself that their sin isn’t really that bad. The most loving thing you can do is love them unconditionally, but don’t love their sin and help them turn their eyes to Jesus. Never give up on that quest!

Remember, every murderer is someone’s child, but that doesn’t make murder OK. Every alcoholic is someone’s child, but alcoholism is wrong. Every thief has parents, but stealing is a sin. If your child is indulging in alternate lifestyles, having sex outside of marriage, or experimenting with any transgenderism or homosexuality—it’s all sin. God doesn’t make any mistakes. He made girls as girls and boys as boys and he created girls to fall in love with boys, get married, and then have sex. The most loving thing you can do for your sinning child is to pray for him or her to seek Jesus, ask for forgiveness, change their sinful ways, and live a righteous life.

It’s painful and it takes courage, but my daughter is so glad that I loved her so much that I never gave up praying for her and today that’s our testimony together.

Christianity is the Only All Inclusive Faith

When the world says that Christians are “exclusive” that only shows ignorance of Christianity, the most “inclusive” religion in the world. Jesus is available to everyone. He died for everyone, but sadly, not everyone will accept His loving free invitation to eternal life with Him.

I leave you with a scenario that says it better than I can:

A young boyfriend and girlfriend were in a tragic accident and died. They’re looking down on the scene:

Girl to boy: “I have to leave you now.”
Boy: “I want to go with you wherever you’re going.”
Girl: “I’m going to be with God, but you didn’t accept him so you can’t come with me.”

Boy: “Did you know this?”

Girl: “Yes …”

Boy: “Then why didn’t you tell me?”
Girl: “I was afraid I would lose you.”

Who are you afraid of losing here on Earth, who someday you’ll have to say goodbye to forever? Don’t be ashamed to share the Gospel. Someone’s eternal life depends on it.

I derived parts of this blog from Pastor Brian Smith’s message at Crouch Community Church May 17, 2015. I wanted to say a huge “Amen” after every sentence. Thank you Pastor Brian for being a student of the Bible and preparing your congregation to be bold for Christ.

Are You Parenting from Fear?

I had the privilege of endorsing the book Mothering from Scratch by Kathy Helgemo and Melinda Means, and I can assure you this is a book every mother wants to read. I met Kathy and Melinda at The MOM Initiative Better Together Conference in Jacksonville, FL last summer. Kathy took my workshop on Praying for Your Prodigal based on my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. In today’s guest blog, Kathy shares the feelings that stirred in her while listening to me speak.

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Breaking Free From Parenting Out of Fear

by Kathy Helgemo

 

I heard Janet talk at the Better Together conference last July on the topic of Parenting Your Prodigal. Once she started talking about parenting out of fear, I found myself sitting up. Listening. Wondering. Do I do that?

Oh, really Janet.” I thought. “You must be talking to someone other than me.”

I don’t consider myself a scared person. I actually don’t consider myself a particularly anxious person either. So, I found it interesting when God started laying on my heart that this was a problem of mine. I don’t have this problem, remember?

But this day He revealed to me that I truly did. And I better pay attention. Pronto.

Parenting from a place of fear has more to do with us than our kids. Yet, they suffer the consequences. Ouch.

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble enjoying the good times on occasion. For years, I constantly worried about my kids repeating my mistakes. Not theirs — mine.

I have parented my children as if they were making the same mistakes I did — even when they weren’t making any at all. No wonder they felt like they were doing something wrong. Guilty. For nothing.

They weren’t doing anything in particular.

Sure I did it when I was their age.

But they didn’t.

And hopefully they won’t.

Here is some of the evidence that I found in myself about parenting with fear:

  • I made normal transitions into drama-filled experiences. Too much attention. Too much anxiety. It’s akin to keeping on the training wheels way too long because it’s easier than seeing scraped knees. It’s normal to stumble and fall.
  • I tried to control their relationships too much. I didn’t want them to get their feelings hurt or hang out with “the wrong kids”.  After all, that’s what happened to me. However, they need friends and connection. They also need to learn how to discern the difference between good and bad influences.
  • I completely exaggerated everyday dangers. Here are some examples: strangers, alcohol, mean people, strange places. Dirt! For Pete’s sake. Those problems are not going to leave the planet anytime soon. I had an “all or nothing” attitude regarding some of them and it got out of control.
  • I worried about their achievements as if they were my own. How is this fearful? It’s the fear of failure. If we have struggled with the fear of failure ourselves, it’s so easy to project it onto our kids. For example, perhaps we were never a straight A student. We struggled just to get by on B’s and C’s. Suddenly, our kid’s excelling in school. Obsessing over of their grades becomes our focus. It’s much easier than to work through our own feelings of failing as a student.
  • I tried to prevent any kind of pain. We are their mothers! Gosh, darn it! We don’t want to see them in any kind of suffering. Unfortunately, that would prevent an awful lot of learning too. We can love them through anything. Teaching moments only happen when we get out of the way. Now, that’s scary!

Remember…

Love is the opposite of fear. Willing our child’s good above our own can be hard.

Staying in the place of fear, however, robs them of the security of knowing what real love is.

Let’s focus on loving our kids, giving them the security that their good is truly the center of our motives and actions.

And there you have it….

When are you parenting out of fear?

 

How can you break free and parent more from love?

 

What’s one area you can turn over your fear to God letting Him take control?

 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Mothering From Scratch.

 

If you are receiving this blog by email, click here to leave a comment.

 

Kathy Helgemo blogs over at Mothering From Scratch. She co-wrote the book Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Parenting Style That Works for You and Your Family with Melinda Means. Together they support and encourage moms to develop their own mothering recipe.

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A Glimmer of Hope for Your Prodigal

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“Moms, you know how it feels when you see any glimmer of hope in your prodigal.” —A praying mom

Moms of prodigals will identify with that glimmer of hope. I know I did.

Praying Mother Alice’s Story

I recently received an email from a mom who had shared her story in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, & Encouragement for Hurting Parents. On page 178 in the chapter “Confronting Our Own Mistakes,” Alice said:

*My daughter, Liz, has chosen to cut off her relationship with me. I made many wrong choices that hurt her. I’m so sorry and have apologized many times, but Liz refused to forgive me. I’m saddened by the wall she’s built to protect herself from being hurt emotionally again.

My guilt over Liz plagued me; I felt captive by her refusal to forgive me. I’ve beaten myself up for not being the perfect mother and not saying or doing the right things. Truth is I make mistakes all the time. I hurt people—not intentionally—but it happens when I’m thinking of myself and not of how my words and actions affect others. With God’s help, I’m working on changing that part of my character. In the meantime, I continue praying that God will soften Liz’s heart so she’ll be able to forgive me and any other person who has hurt her.—Alice

Alice sent me her heartbreaking story of the estrangement from her daughter eight years ago. I know many who identify with her pain and regret and the deep desire to restore her relationship with her daughter and to receive her daughter’s forgiveness.

Last week, I received an email from Alice with the subject line: Update on Prodigal Daughter “Liz.” Following is Alice’s update shared with her permission. I hope Alice’s openness and vulnerability encourages those of you who are still praying for a reunion with your prodigal.

The separation started 27 years ago when my “prodigal daughter” had completed college. She didn’t need my financial support or close personal connection anymore.

The separation gap widened four years ago when Liz told me she needed a break!

The break I imagined was time for her to sort things out that were plaguing her: divorce negotiations that dragged on, the decline of her dietician business with fewer clients, stress of raising a son as a single mom, and then there was “me.” I was the mother she felt was not there for her as a teenager when she was having major issues with her stepfather. It turned out that Liz wanted a permanent “break” from me.

My heart ached to see her and talk to her. That wasn’t an option open to me. What I could do during these past four years was to pray and wait until my daughter was ready to connect again. I prayed for a softening of Liz’s heart. I also prayed God would help me understand why my middle daughter wanted no part of my life.

As I wrote in my journal recently, I asked the LORD to give me a better understanding of what I was dealing with. He answered me with a clear example of my daughter as a person encased in ice—unable to move, feel love, or reach out for help. Liz was stuck in a frozen place where anger, resentments, and bitterness imbedded her mind and heart. She could not free herself.

My son sensed my pain of rejection and separation from Liz. Out of his compassion for me and the desire to have his nephew, Bobby, know his grandmother, he arranged a luncheon meeting at a restaurant this month to celebrate my 76th birthday. As the date grew closer, I prayed more intently that I would keep the attention on my daughter, her son, and my other two grown children who were to attend. I wanted to let our get-together be all about them—not me.

On the day of the family meeting, I brought peace offerings. I baked my grandson’s favorite Christmas cookies and took several pages from a photo album that had elementary school pictures of my three children when they were Bobby’s age. It turned out to be an “ice-breaker.”

As we met, my heart pounded then rejoiced when Liz was friendly toward me and open to conversation. After lunch, as Liz and I made our way to the restroom, she said that her son, Bobby, wanted to see me more and she was sorry that it had not happened before. She invited me to come to her home this coming Christmas for a few days to bake cookies with her son. Words eluded me but my heart sang for joy.

It took my prayers, the efforts of my only son, and the desire of Liz’s little boy—my grandson—to spend time with me that brought about a change of Liz’s heart. “And a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

Never Stop Praying

You’ve heard me say it before, and I know it’s so hard to do when your heart is breaking and you don’t see any change in the situation, but never stop praying for your prodigal. Alice prayed for 27 years. I prayed for six years for my prodigal. Previous blogs from prodigal Alycia Neighbours related how long her parents prayed for her return: Never Stop Praying for Your Prodigal! and After the Party for the Returning Prodigal.

As Alice said above, many times prayer is the only thing you can do when everything else is out of your control. In the chapter on Praying Biblically in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, Alice told how she prayed scripturally for her daughter, which is how I also prayed for my daughter. It’s simply personalizing and paraphrasing God’s Word as a prayer back to Him (See 40 Days of Praying Scripture for Your Prodigal on page 313). Here’s how Alice said she prayed Scripture:

*I’ve learned to pray for my daughter by praying back the Scriptures to God. For example, I pray Ezekiel 36:27-29 for Liz’s heart to soften and for her to return home: “God, give my daughter Liz a heart of flesh to replace her heart of stone toward spiritual things. Through Your Spirit, move her to follow Your decrees and carefully keep Your laws. Help Liz to return home. Allow her to live in the land You, God, gave to her spiritual forefathers; may she be Your child, may You be her God. Save her from all her uncleanness.”

What has helped you maintain a “glimmer of hope” while waiting for your prodigal to return?

*Excerpts from Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, and Encouragement for Hurting Parents.

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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

Amanda and Alycia small

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.