Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Happy birthday, B!

I'm hoping and praying that someday you'll reach out to us, B. For now, at least you'll know that I was thinking of you on your special day. We love you so much!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Advice to a hurting mom

Any advice for a mom who's been divorced for three years and her 22-year-old son won't speak to her? 
–babygirl via email January 6

Dear Babygirl:

My heart goes out to you! You're in a dark, painful place. I am so very sorry that your son has chosen to shut you out of his life, the woman who has nurtured and loved him since his very first breath. I suspect he's angry because you divorced his father. As mothers, we unconditionally love our children, no matter what. It's a love from our hearts that our children won't be able to truly understand until they experience it for themselves.

 Do I have any advice? I'll try....

Let go It's hard. I know! But you must let go of your son as best you can. You can't control him. Nothing you say or do will change his mind. Only he will return to you when he's ready. And when he does re-connect, allow time for healing. It may be awkward between the two of you in the beginning until you settle into a new normal. Be patient. (Ha, easy to say, right?)

Keep praying That said, don't give up! Let go and give your son to God. Then, in Jesus' precious name, earnestly pray that God restores the relationship between you and your son (Matt. 21: 22). At the same time, also earnestly pray for God's will (Matt. 26:39). God knows our desires. But He also wants us to share them with Him.

Care for yourself Find happiness wherever you can. Have fun at doing something you enjoy! Be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up over the past (I'm still working on that one). Believe that you were and still are a good mom. If you weren't, you wouldn't feel so empty without your son in your life. Right?

Be loved Surround yourself with friends and family who love you. I pray you have one close, devoted confidant (your mother or maybe new husband?) who will listen whenever you need to talk and share and unload and maybe cry. Someone who won't judge and simply just LISTEN (hugs are nice, too). We all need that.

Reach out Do send kind and loving notes, emails, and/or texts occasionally to your son. Don't pressure him in any way. Just let him know that you love him.

Be thankful Back when my son refused to speak to me, I'd nearly given up all hope. Then my pastor at the time said behind the pulpit that we as Christians should thank God for what He's already given us instead of asking for things we wanted. 

From then on, as soon as I opened my eyes each morning, I started thanking God. Thank you, Lord, for another day. Thank you for my parents. Thank you for my son. Thank you for my daughter. Thank you, Lord, for this home.... 

Not long after that, my son began to soften toward me. Babygirl, I'm not promising that your son will magically change his heart toward you if you begin each day with gratitude. But YOUR heart will begin to experience healing. 

This is rare for me, to answer an email via a blog post. But your simple question is one that I believe many hurting parents ask every day. In His name, I pray that somehow, even in a tiny way, the words within this post bless you and other readers who need encouragement. Estrangement within families hurts. I know. I understand.

May God bless and strengthen you and give you wisdom each and every day, babygirl. Keep me posted! 

With love and prayers, 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Stand up if you're hurting

In church yesterday, our minister made a first-time-ever request. "Stand up if you're hurting, if you're going to be alone for Thanksgiving, if there's pain in your family," he said. Behind us and around us, I could sense people getting up from their seats. 

"Now I'm going to ask those of you around them to get up and pray with them," Pastor Bill said. Two pews up, a woman stood up. Immediately, three women went to her side and placed their hands on her. I got up, too. So did my husband. We reached out and put our hands on those closest to us.

All of us in this church could stand up, I thought to myself. We're all hurting in some way.... Broken relationships, broken families, broken health, broken finances, broken pasts, broken hearts....

We are all broken, hurting people.

You're hurting. That's why you're here. That's why you searched for comfort and found this blog. And I'm so sorry. If I could, I'd wrap my arms around you and hug you tight. Let you cry if you need to. Let you know that you're loved. Tell you that God loves you and that you are not alone.  

Since this blog started in January 2011, more than 200 hurting people have contacted me and trusted me with their pain. In the beginning, I kept a prayer book, where I wrote down names and pasted stories. But I just couldn't keep up with the requests. At some point, I started the Prayer List page and then the Special Requests prayer page. When I talk to God, I ask Him to bless and guide everyone who's ever written to me, asking for prayers and even advice sometimes. You are all in my prayers and in my heart. 

As for Patrick, he is home now, back from his overseas mission. Through the years, he's battled his own storms, but his faith remains strong. The scars from our shared pasts will always be a part of us, mother and son. I have so many regrets–at times the guilt washes over me and I hurt–but I can't undo the past. I am human. I am broken.

So, yes, join me and stand up if you're hurting. Together, we will pray for one another. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Our Patrick

I thought you might like to see Patrick, who turns 29 next month. He's currently deployed in Northern Africa with the 22nd U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Reserve and will return to the States in late summer. We're all praying that God protects you and your men, Patrick! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Happy birthday, B.!

Happy birthday today, B.! I can't believe you're 16 now. I just hope you have a wonderful, wonderful day! Please know how much we all love you and wish we could be a part of your life. You're headed for great things. We're all sure of THAT!
With love and hugs,

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Heartaches at Christmas

Dear Sheryl: 
My dad and my sister haven't spoke to each other for seven months, and it's breaking our family bond. He says that she cannot enter his house anymore, and she is not welcome for the holidays. I pray that my sister will apologize and that my father will forgive her and let her spend the holidays with us. Every year, there's always a conflict going on in my family during the holiday season. I've lost hope for having a great end of the year due to my family's problems. Hopefully, God will bring our family back together, and we'll have a great bond with no arguing or issues. All I want is God to send a kind heart to my sister and dad so they can speak again and love each other with no issues. I hope, too, that my other sister doesn't bring another conflict in the house. I just want a great holiday. It's not to much to ask.

Dear Rebecka:
No, your heart's desire for a healed family is not too much to ask! Thank you for reaching out to me and trusting me with your heartache, Rebecka. I don't normally share letters from hurting people who find this blog. But I thought yours might help others who share similar circumstances. Christmas can be such a difficult and painful time of year, especially when families like yours (and mine, too) are fractured. Sometimes all we can do is pray for those we love and live as joyfully unto God as we can. That sounds so lame, but it's true. We are powerless to change other people. 

In answer to your letter, Rebecka, I pray in the precious name of Jesus that God touches your wounded family and that your father and sister reconcile and find peace. I also lift up all the many hurting people on this blog's Prayer List and Special Requests and ask in His Son's name that God bless and strengthen each and every one of you. My heart breaks for the multitude of broken bonds that affect so many families in our society. It seems that estrangement is becoming more and more common.

Rebecka, here's a Bible blessing that I found just for you: May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in Him, so that your hope fill continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Christmas blessings to you, dear friend. You and your family are in my prayers.
With love, sheryl

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What if.........

This past week, I received a letter from a hurting mother in South Africa. Her son has turned against her, and her heart is broken. Would I pray for her? 

Thank you for reaching out to me across the miles and trusting me with your pain, I wrote back. Yes, I will pray for you, your family, and your son. It seems that Satan is breaking up so many families these days, near and far. That's part of his plan in his war against God.  

It's true, you know. Satan HATES God with a mighty vengeance, and one crafty way to battle against Him is to shake and destroy the very foundation of the people who love and worship Him–the family. I have witnessed that within my own life and in the lives of those around me. I've read about the ongoing destruction in the painful stories that come in emails from wounded people, mostly women, who find this blog. I am touched, humbled, and honored every time someone reaches out to me. Yes, I will pray for you, I tell each one.

If only we would restore to God. As a nation. As a people. 

For a moment, I'd like to play the What If game. 

What if....

Men everywhere gave their hearts and lives completely to God. What if they put Him first in every way. What if, in their marriages and every facet of their lives, they lived unto God, read His Word, and led their families as true men of God. What if they cherished their wives, treated them gently with words of love, compassion, and understanding, no matter what, and respected them as women and human beings. What if they loved their wives with an unconditional love that mirrors the kind of love that God has for each of us. What if they shunned the ways of the world, such as pornography, alcohol, drugs, affairs, and other temptations. What if they loved their children with all their hearts and raised them with firm yet gentle discipline. What if they set the example of how Godly, loving husbands, fathers, and men are to live. 

Oh, yes, they'd still make mistakes. They wouldn't be perfect by any means. Their marriages would still be rocky at times. They'd be unhappy. So would their wives. But their mutual love, respect, and commitment would ward off destruction of their bond.

If that were the case, if men gave their hearts to God and loved their wives as God intended, then wives would feel that love and respond back. Their children would see their parents' love and feel secure within their family circle. They would grow and flourish, then transition from childhood into adulthood, and begin their own lives, choose their own mates.

Sounds too naive, too pie-in-the-sky, right?

But just think about it and play What If with me.

If more marriages were rooted in God's ways, then there'd be far fewer divorces AND FEWER HURTING PEOPLE WOUNDED BY THE PAIN OF SPLIT MARRIAGES.

I speak from my own experience and from observing the pain of others I know and from those who have written to me via this blog.

God knew what He was doing when he set out His divine guidelines for marriage in Ephesians 5:21-33.

In my former life, I was often reminded that "wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands...." If I called myself a Christian, he'd ask me, then why didn't I abide by that commandment? But what he didn't get and didn't do was the huge part about "husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave His life for it."

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if he'd lived his life as a true man of God, then I believe our marriage would have remained intact. Our children wouldn't have been deeply scarred by a divorce. Nor would we have been wounded as well. 

Don't get me wrong–I definitely wasn't perfect myself. 

These are not easy words to write. 

But they are true.

My What if fantasizing doesn't include all cases of estrangement. By no means at all! There are many exceptions. Like the South African woman who wrote me this week. Her son has turned against his family's traditional ways and broken her heart by refusing to speak to her. I understand there are very different circumstances everywhere. But still, fundamentally, I stand by my What if thoughts. 

Perhaps your thoughts are different. Or perhaps they're much the same. Either way, if you are here, reading this blog, then you are hurting in some way. And my heart goes out to you, dear friend. Please give your pain to God and ask Him for strength, wisdom and guidance. The wounds of divorce run deep and never completely go away. They ripple out and impact the coming years, though in less painful ways.

I am very, very happy now with my new husband, who  loves and cherishes me as God does. My son and daughter are finding their own way and happiness in their lives. I hope and pray very much that you do, too.