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The Hope of a Homecoming

(Paperback - 2003)
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Overview

Filled with personal experiences, advice, and Bible teaching, this book helps parents of prodigals hold onto hope. Includes:
- key Scriptures
- written prayers
- coping strategies
Topics include:
- Conquering fear
- Recognizing anger and using it constructively
- Praying for protection
- Waiting when God is silent

Details

  • SKU: 9781576833766
  • SKU10: 1576833763
  • Title: The Hope of a Homecoming
  • Series: Navigators Reference Library
  • Qty Remaining Online: 65
  • Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group
  • Date Published: May 2003
  • Pages: 221
  • Weight lbs: 0.60
  • Dimensions: 8.40" L x 5.60" W x 0.60" H
  • Features: Price on Product
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Topical | Family;
  • Category: SPIRITUALITY
  • Subject: Christian Life - Family

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

OUR PRODIGALS

It takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow. -Vern McLellan

"I'm losing it!"

Sitting in DeEtte's bedroom choking back tears, I (Brendan) told my longtime friend that my life was unraveling. She'd been there for me through my divorce and remarriage, through starting over with more children at forty-two. I could fall apart in her company because I knew she understood. Her daughters had made mistakes and taken the prodigal path too. They'd given DeEtte her share of disappointment and pain.

We cried together, and then she told me about the prayer she had been praying for her daughters. Thumbing through the well-worn pages of her Bible, she showed me Psalm 90. I hurried over the psalmist's reminders of how short our lives are and how much time we waste on meaningless pursuits. Then my eyes landed on verse 16, in which the writer begs the Lord to make His deeds known to His servants and His splendor to their children. I was familiar with the deeds of the Lord in my life, but I hadn't thought much about my children comprehending God's splendor. It's not that I didn't want my children to know what a splendid God we serve-I just hadn't thought of asking God to reveal Himself to my children.

Desperate for help, I decided to take my eyes off the scary events unfolding in my daughter Vanessa's life and instead focus on what could happen if she experienced the magnificence of the Lord. I'm not sure what I expected, but I prayed and DeEtte prayed with me. As we prayed I realized that I hadn't fully been appreciating God's splendor either. I began to recall the amazing ways God had answered prayers in the past. The Lord had brought new hope into my life when I met my husband Dan. He also had renewed Dan's faith and made him a source of strength for me. The Creator of the universe had enabled Dan and me to create two precious children in spite of a previous tubal ligation. Our son Devin frequently refers to the time before he was born as that time "when I was just a prayer" because we've told him about our Sunday school class praying for us to conceive a child. As I focused my heart and mind on the splendor God had shown me, I felt a deep assurance that He would be there for Vanessa too.

Vanessa's journey went deeper into the shadowlands before she reached a turning point. But she did turn around. She faced her failure, sought God's love and forgiveness, and rebuilt her life.

VANESSA'S and NATALIE'S Stories

Vanessa was abandoned five times. The first was when her birth mother gave her up for adoption, which is how she came into our lives. After four years of infertility, my first husband and I had decided to adopt. Vanessa was so beautiful. Her clear blue eyes, tan skin, and white blonde hair made people in the supermarket smile when I wheeled her down the aisles. She loved people. As soon as she could say a few words she talked to everyone.

When she was five months old I started my doctoral program a hundred miles from home. Mistakenly, I thought that going to school would be compatible with motherhood. I was gone a lot. Although her father and our nanny were loving and very attentive, I believe that my absence was a second abandonment for her.

The third abandonment came quickly on the heels of my doctoral work. When we least expected it, I discovered that I was pregnant. Vanessa's sister, Natalie, was born when Vanessa was two. Within three months of her birth, Natalie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma-cancer of the nervous tissues. She had a kidney removed, radiation on her eye, and chemotherapy for eight months. Vanessa was thrust on the nanny or other family members for more than a year as we focused on Natalie's urgent needs.

Natalie survived and so did Vanessa, but insecurity had taken its toll. Teachers had called Vanessa the "sunshine girl." However, by third grade a learning disability was tarnishing her shine.

The fourth abandonment came when her father and I divorced. She was seven years old and had no inkling that we were unhappy; our life looked fine on the outside. We both remarried within two years and began having more children. Vanessa would never get the attention she needed. There had been too much change and too many competitors.

By ninth grade Vanessa was well on her way to self-defeat. She acted out her depression and hunger for attention, even negative attention. Underachieving, experimenting with drugs, and sneaking out of the house revealed that she was in trouble. I remember sit-ting in church the night before we put her in residential treatment. Guilt and shame flooded my soul. All I could do was cry. My spiritual friends surrounded me and we prayed. I hated feeling needy, but I was.

Our family had work to do. Therapy helped some, but Vanessa still carried so many wounds. And I just wanted to get on with a happy life. None of her parents liked the strain of rehashing all the old problems.

Our needs conflicted with hers.

One day I was changing the sheets on her bed when I saw something puzzling. Stuck between the bed and the wall was a baby pacifier. She admitted that she sucked on it at night. At fourteen years old, she was regressing all the way back to infancy when she was alone. My heart broke. How could I help this child who never got enough of the secure feeling every child deserves? She was too old for me to treat her like a baby.

She resolved the dilemma by getting pregnant. When she was seventeen she started her senior year of high school married and expecting a child on Christmas Eve. Her husband, only one year older, enlisted in the army. They went to Germany and tried to be a family for three years. When they returned to the United States her husband left her. Abandoned again, Vanessa fell into the pit of depression, refused to get help, and ended up homeless. She lost custody of her son because she lived with drug dealers and could not even support herself. Vanessa hit bottom. That's when I turned to my friend DeEtte.

* * *

Natalie's rebellion was less obvious. Unlike Vanessa, she looked like a normal, high-functioning youth with lots of friends and accomplishments. She did well in school, made cheerleader, and went to church occasionally. Vanessa and Natalie accepted Christ and were baptized and confirmed, but Natalie disclosed later that she felt she had no choice. We discovered after the fact that Natalie drank and smoked a lot throughout high school. In college, she rejected worship or any other organized Christian activity. Her prodigal behavior was subtle, not straying too far but clearly denying the importance of a relationship with Christ. I felt confused and frustrated by her attitude. When both my daughters rejected the values I wanted for them, I didn't know what to do. It was hard not to personalize their problems. My strength and hope had to come from God.

MARLA'S and LAYNE'S Stories

In the extreme August heat of west Texas, George and I (DeEtte) unloaded a full-to-overflowing U-Haul truck and helped our youngest daughter, Layne, set up housekeeping six hundred miles from home. We weren't supportive when she first announced her plans to move to a barren desert community across the state. We did everything we could to dissuade her, but she was firm in her decision to pursue a career opportunity. I wished we could have been more encouraging.

The distance in miles wasn't all that separated us. Over the past years we watched helplessly as our daughters moved further and further away from the committed young people they had been. The world had seduced them. Every time they rejected our urges to "pray about that," or "come to church with us," or " read this," we felt a deep sadness. To see their eyes roll upward each time we mentioned the Lord was torment.

Just after George and I returned to Houston, the phone rang. It was a close friend urging me to read Psalm 90. When I got to verse 16, the words leaped off the page and into my heart: "May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children" (NIV). Those words became mine.

I shouted, "That's it!" I knew what God wanted me to do. I began to pray, "Lord, show them Your splendor." Sometimes it was a request, sometimes a plea, and sometimes a cry from the depths of my soul. I knew God had given me this prayer, this hope.

Years earlier we had experienced the agony of losing Jennifer, our oldest daughter, in a car accident when she was eighteen. Intense grief left us inconsolable, clinging to our two other children. Marla, our middle daughter, began to show signs of rebellion in college. She partied too much, switched schools, and eventually dropped out for a while. Her boyfriend relationships failed. At a time when George and I were beginning to mature spiritually, Marla turned her back on our values. We lost her, not by an auto accident, but by her choice. I cried in my sleep and I cried awake as I pictured Jennifer curled up in the arms of her heavenly Father, protected and safe. Now, I saw Marla running from Him toward danger.

For several years she avoided us. When we were together she was uncomfortable, so she limited the contact. The relationship was strained. She seemed to self-destruct on a regular basis until she began the long path home to the faith of her adolescence.

When I began praying Psalm 90:16 for Layne and Marla, I knew God had to work a few miracles before that prayer would be answered. But I prayed, "Lord, show them Your splendor." I knelt, bowed, sang, read, and prayed some more. Most of all, I trusted Him. And then, the same peace I'd felt the night of Jenny's death washed over me. In the midst of the anguish I experienced joy. My spirit quieted. I knew God was faithful.

(Continues.)

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