When Children Stray: A Mother’s Journey Then and Now

When Children Stray: A Mother’s Journey Then and Now

In this riveting podcast, Cynthia explores the problem of the wayward child. As Cynthia opened the interview, she related the story of Susannah Wesley and her prodigal child. Afterward, she asked her guest, Deborah Crawford to share the struggles she faced when her daughter made poor choices. The ladies discussed the gut-wrenching pain of letting go and trusting God. Join Cynthia and Deborah as they shared how they found hope in the middle of pain.

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Cynthia:

We all know about Susanna Wesley. She is known for how she spent an hour a day with each child and taught them and taught them the word.

 

Cynthia:

Of course, we know that her sons, Charles and Wesley, started the Methodist church. They didn’t do it deliberately, but they did it because they were ridiculed for using order and method like their mom taught them. But they decided eventually, when they were excluded from the Church of England, that they would form their own church. We may not know, however, that Susannah Wesley had her own prodigal.

 

Cynthia:

Her name was Hetty, and Hetty was a scholar. She did very well in her mother’s classroom.

 

Cynthia:

She was very, very smart. And she went to be a governess to a wealthy family. And when she was there, she met a man named Mr. Atkins, who was a lawyer, and she fell in love. But her father disapproved of the match and would not let them get married. So Mr. Atkins said, well, let’s elope.

 

Cynthia:

Mr. Adkins took her to London, and then he told her that he had no intention of marrying her. So she went back to her father, embarrassed and pregnant. Now, this was years ago, and this was something that was not done in that time period. You did not disobey your father. You did not leave without your father’s permission. You did not marry without his permission. So she was a prodigal, and her father declared that she was lost to him. He actually used those words, she is lost to me.

 

Cynthia:

He found a plumber to marry her, but the plumber eventually became an alcoholic. Hetty lived a very difficult life because he would beat her and that sort of thing. But her father was so angry at what she had done that he would not help her and he would not guide her, and he would not provide for her. Her brothers did, but her father would not. So having prodigals is nothing new. And it is no reflection on the type of parenting that you do, because we all know that Susanna Wesley spent an hour a day with each child teaching them. What do we do with our prodigals? That was then and this is now. Well, my guest today is Deborah Crawford, and she sort of has a ministry to those who have prodigals, and I’m going to let her tell her story.

 

Cynthia:

Welcome, Deborah.

 

Deborah:

Thank you, Cynthia. And, wow, you just taught me a lot about Susanna that I didn’t know. Wow. And I feel like I’m in great company. I’ll start my story with a bible verse from Jeremiah, for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper, you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a know. That’s an overused verse for a lot of seniors graduating from high school. And my daughter happened to be a senior.

 

Deborah:

But I felt God nudging me with that verse for her. And I was elated. I was, oh, yes, this is great. She goes off to college her sophomore year. She meets a guy, sounds very similar. She gave herself to him, and he started controlling her life. He pulled her away from family and friends. She willingly did that.

 

Deborah:

And our relationship started to deteriorate rapidly. I tried, because I’m a fixer, tried to fix her, tried to fix the situation. I was in excruciating pain because I just thought my life had been so good up until then, and I was just not using a thoughtful process. I was just angry, anxious. So I spoke to her out of those words, and she did the same for me. We always argued, but thankfully, her father kept a calm demeanor and kept the lines of communication open that helped over the course of time. But as this was going on, I started to cry out to God and say, well, you just told me all this stuff from the scripture. I thought it was going to be good.

 

Deborah:

What is going on, God? Because none of this looks like good plans. I didn’t hear anything, but I got real distressed. My heart was breaking. It was bad. At home, we were just all distressed. And all of my anxiety started to spill over. At work, I had some great Christian friends, and they started to see all my angst and they would pull me aside and they’d pray for me. They’d read scripture verses to me.

 

Deborah:

And quite a number of them did that. And they continued till it really started filling up my heart. And I started to get a lot of comfort for that. So I went back and revisited that little verse. It’s a whole chapter because it’s all about the Israelites who were captured and taken to Babylon and Jeremiah speaking to them for God. But I felt as I read more of those verses, I realized that God was speaking to me, to seek him with my whole heart, to pray to him, to trust him with my daughter because she was his child, too. And I began to understand as I read more of it that she was captivated by the ways of the world. But God wanted her home just like I did.

 

Deborah:

I continued to get more inspiration from my friends. So I quit looking inward because I was having a pity party a lot.  And I started noticing around me, and there were a lot of mothers hurting, a lot of mothers with children making poor choices, sex, drugs, alcohol, whatever. And I realized I had a group of friends that helped me. And now I wanted to, in turn, help others with everything that I had been taught up to that point and that I was continuing to learn. So I decided to start a support group right there at work. And I knew God was in the details because I found myself in my room at home while I was thinking about all this.

Deborah:

And I envisioned myself with a black band around my arm. And on it were the letters MP. I immediately thought of military police guards, law enforcement, watchmen on the wall, intercessors. I thought, wow, that’s kind of cool. But then I saw the letters MP. Mothers, prodigals. Like, wow. Okay.

Deborah:

So I knew we all loved our prodigals. We wanted them home. We were all praying for them. So I named it mothers for prodigals. So my journey began to uplift them. Hurting mothers, praying for their children with the compassionate comfort of Jesus Christ and his words to us. So scripture and prayer became a big part of our group. We met weekly before work, and as that progressed, I began sending out encouraging emails to my friends and one of them said, why don’t you start a blog? I didn’t know anything about a blog.

 

Deborah:

I wasn’t even really considered a writer. I just enjoyed encouraging people. Didn’t know how to do a blog. So one of my friend’s son was a graphic designer, so he helped create it for me. And we needed a themed verse for our blog. So one day, group of us were meeting after school, It was amazing. So I know God was in these details because none of us had really studied this verse, but it all came to us and I’m going to read it. It’s from Isaiah 43 and it says, do not be afraid, for I am with you.

 

Deborah:

I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say, to the north, give them up, and to the south, don’t hold them back. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth. Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Oh my goodness. It was amazing, the peace we felt with that, because we knew God loved our children more than we loved them. We put that on the blog. I started sending out blog posts.

 

Deborah:

We still met together and we waited because what else can you do? We weren’t seeing anything happen. And I really learned to hate that four letter word wait because I wasn’t seeing any fruit but the Bible verses and God were what were filling us up in our waving. So we came upon Ephesians six. We studied the armor of God, and we suited up and decided, we’re going to fight for these kids, and we are going to fight hard with God’s words. He gave me the courage and the comfort in his strength to fight that unseen enemy. Because he had told me, this is a spiritual battle. Instead of fighting with my daughter, I looked beyond her, and I fought the enemy of God. With God by my side.

 

Deborah:

Satan, who is our enemy, is the one who’s stealing our children, God’s children, and God wants them back. So I was more than happy to join him in that fight. While we were waiting, also discovered in scripture from Luke 15, parable of the lost son. Jesus told that story to his followers. A man had two sons, and one of them asked for his inheritance. He asked it before his father died. He asked it to his father’s face. So I can’t imagine how that had to have hurt.

Deborah:

It was like he was dismissing his father. I want what you have. I don’t want you. His father gave it to him. And I’m sure, as I pictured this, I see the father walking, his son, walking away, and he doesn’t know where he’s going. He doesn’t know what’s happening. And that was before we had cell phones. He couldn’t even call him.

Deborah:

So there he is, gone. But we know as we go ahead and read that story that the father had waited expectantly. So I can just see him standing at the fence of their yard, looking, waiting. Because the story goes on to say that when the son came to his senses, he decided to come home. But the father saw him from far off, and he ran to him. So, you know, this father was waiting with open arms of forgiveness and love to welcome his son back home. So I decided, that’s what I’m going to do in my situation. So we got deeper into this stuff.

Deborah:

We’re praying women. We decided we’ve got to have a mission statement. So we created this statement together, and it says, we are a group of mothers who humbly, yet boldly, go before the throne of God, placing our children in his care, wearing the armor of God, and taking up the sword of the spirit. We persevere in our belief that God’s promises will be fulfilled in their lives. And over time, believe it or not, we started to see some of these promises fulfilled. I had friends sent me letters of things that were happening. Their kids were talking to them. They were returning to them, healing was beginning, and we all would just give God all the praise and glory.

Deborah:

But yet I was sitting there going, when is this going to happen for me? We’re so human. But I wanted to rejoice with the others. So I look back and we endured a little over five years, every day, throughout every holiday of just distress. Until one Christmas, my daughter gifted her brother and her sister in law and her father and me with these long letters. She gave us each a gift and we all opened them and we were all reading our letters and crying. She poured out her heart to each of us and apologized. She had broken up with her boyfriend. She’d come to her senses.

Deborah:

And, man, our arms were open. We were loving, we were hugging, we were crying, we were laughing, we were crying again. And the icing on top of that Christmas was that my son and daughter-in- law gave us a gift with a positive pregnancy test and a baby. Our first grandchild was soon to be on the way. So God was so good.

Cynthia:

Now, what steps did you take with your daughter while you were praying? Did you try to keep in touch? Did you stop talking? How did you interact with her?

Deborah:

We would stay in touch, usually every day, but it always ended in arguments because she didn’t come around very much. We tried to welcome her and welcome him there. I ended up letting her call me because she was at a place where she didn’t want to hear me. And I wasn’t doing it properly until I began to take in all these scriptures. So we just kind of wrote it out. We communicated as little as possible at times, and then as much as possible at times. But it always ended in arguments.

Cynthia:

Did you ever feel like a terrible mother?

Deborah:

Yes, completely. And I acted like one. I did act like one for a while because I was so overcome with hurt and anger. That’s what she remembers, which is, that’s what’s sad to me because that’s what she remembers. And to be honest with you, we have not sat down and talked each other’s stories. But I do feel like through all this, God was trying to teach me something. And he did. He was teaching me to listen more, love more, talk less, because, like I said, I’m a fixer, and that’s all I was trying to do, was just make things like they used to be when God had a purpose in all this, to teach her something and teach me something.

Deborah:

As the years went by, and it’s just happened recently, many, because this was all 20 years ago. The consequences of a lot her choices she has had to deal with and I’ve kind of had to deal with them, too. But we’ve approached them differently. She comes to me. We’ve prayed together. She is a strong Christian. Now, when people, children make choices, the consequences end up hurting, sometimes more than the beginning. And she’s dealt with a lot of consequences, but she’s learned from it.

Deborah:

She’s using it, and she actually is using it to help others. That season, I look back at it and I call it my bittersweet season because it was so bitter, it hurts so bad. And I know every mother who deals with prodigals knows how bad it. In fact, when someone comes up to me and talks to me about a child like that, I just want to cry with them because I can immediately have tears because it hurts so bad. But I drew so close to God. He drew so close to me. It was so sweet. I don’t know if I’d want to do it again, but I learned so much, and it was just a sweet time with him.

Deborah:

He covered me with lots of mercy and grace.

Cynthia:

This is very difficult for moms because there comes a point in which moms have to let go of control and you have to let the kids do what they’re going to do. And that is gut wrenchingly hard. And you wish you didn’t have to, and you wish you could shield them from the consequences, but yet you’ve got to let them feel it and you just don’t want to do it. So what advice would you give? What would you say to moms who are struggling right now?

Deborah:

I ditto what you said. It feels like it’s happening so much because I think society is warping our children and they’re so caught up by that. I feel like pray from the get go. When you have your children, definitely as soon as you have them. Pray for them every day. Like you said, we can’t fight what they’re going to do. We can’t change it. We’ve got to trust God.

Deborah:

Go to him in prayer and find somebody that will listen to you. Because just to have a mother standing beside you who’s going through the same thing, you just feel so not so good because you’re both hurting. But gosh, you go, I’m not the only one. I’m not the only one this is happening to. Others are happening and we can support each other, but I just say, don’t fight with them. Don’t even run after. When you think about Luke 15, the father didn’t run after that son. He let him go.

Deborah:

And it’s like you said, we can’t control him. And I’m a fixer, so I wanted to grab it all back and make it like it was. But God’s got a plan for everything. And I really think when I go back to the beginning for the plans I have for you or for good, there may be something God’s got to work on us, and we’ve got to be willing to let him work on our children and work on us. So I just say, get in the word and stay in it every day, because that’s the only place where there’s any solace from all that bitterness. Like you and I both said, we got to let them go. We can’t shield them. We can’t change it and just trust that God’s got them in the palm of his hand.

Cynthia:

I have a prodigal, too, and I felt like my life had been flushed down the toilet. I thought that I was going to be able to home school my kids and keep them in a totally different world and educate them so well that when they got out there, they would see better and not do it. But that’s not what happened, and it just about killed me. So I know the feeling, but I know that God is there, and it helps me better understand who he is because he watches us every day, do things that he doesn’t want us to do. And it gives a little bit of a picture of what the father endures and how much he loves.

Deborah:

Completely, completely. That’s exactly right. The father in Luke, in that parable, really replicates our heavenly Father, and he waits for all of us to come home.

Cynthia:

Thank you, Deborah, for being with us. I truly appreciate you sharing your heart.

 

Embracing Your Unique Prayer Personality Part 1

Embracing Your Unique Prayer Personality Part 1

Welcome to the Heart of the Matter Radio/Podcast podcast. In today’s episode,  we dive into the fascinating topic of prayer and how each individual approaches it differently. Our host, Cynthia, is joined by special guest Janet McHenry, who is not only a prayer enthusiast but also the author of the book “Praying Personalities.”

Together, they explore the concept of prayer personalities and how understanding our unique prayer styles can enhance our relationship with God. Janet shares her journey of discovering different praying practices based on personalities found in Scripture, ranging from cerebral and emotive to devotional and physical prayer styles. She encourages listeners to embrace their natural inclinations while also challenging them to examine any busyness that might be hindering their prayer life. Join us as we uncover the rich tapestry of prayer personalities and discover how God’s economy works beyond our understanding.

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Cynthia:

So can you tell me, how did you come to the conclusion that we pray differently and that there’s different prayer personalities?

Janet:

Well, a couple of years ago, I was doing a presentation on all the different ways that we could incorporate different kinds of praying practices into our lives so as to try to get to that place. We’re praying without ceasing, as Paul said. And then I heard myself say, perhaps there are different kinds of praying styles based on our personalities. What a mic drop moment for me. I was astonished even with what came out of my mouth. And after that, I went into God’s word. And I found that yes, people pray differently based on their personality.

 

Cynthia:

When you think about it, it makes sense. I know some people I’ve listened to some women who are very bubbly and warm, and they talk about how they just overflow. And I’m thinking, I don’t have that bubbly as a personality. My reserved son would not let loose on emotions. He’s too restrained. So it makes perfect sense.

Janet:

Yeah. Even years ago, I thought there really was something wrong with me as a Christian because I was not like the love like an ocean, Or I was not joy, like a fountain peace. I had a different kind of a temperament. And so years and years ago, I kind of began studying personality types and so forth. We can see that play out in scripture in the different ways that different biblical characters prayed. So I think there is a freedom that we can certainly go to God in what seems natural to us. I kind of take the reader off the hook in that way. But I also want to put the reader back on the hook a little bit. We use our busy, busy lifestyle as an excuse  not to pray, I think we need to kind of examine that perhaps maybe we’re just a bit too busy.

Cynthia:

Busyness really is not a good excuse.

Janet:

Right. I myself do that. Even still, 25 years later, after beginning prayer walking, I can have a million excuses as to why I’m not going to get out there today and go walking and praying for my community. But when I do, I never regret the time. And I also find that God in his economy, through me, can equip me to be able to accomplish all those things. I didn’t think otherwise I would get done if I spent all that time in prayer.

Cynthia:

And that has happened to me before. I had a disabled child. There were times when I just was so overwhelmed by what he was dealing with that I would pray for a long time. I would think, gee, my day is going to be awful. And then I would realize I got more done on those days when I prayed more. So God’s economy isn’t quite like ours.

Janet:

Exactly.

Cynthia:

That’s good to know. We’re going to continue this conversation next week. The interesting point to note is that God calls us to pray, and we should feel free to pray the way God designed us.

How Can We Be Sure the Resurrection Happened?

How Can We Be Sure the Resurrection Happened?

We just celebrated Easter, which is the resurrection of Jesus. Do you ever have a day that you wonder if that really happened? We all do. Today many refuse to believe in miracles. No one wants to believe a lie, so let’s check our anchor. How can we be sure the resurrection happened?

My guest this week was my husband, Ray Simmons. He is a Bible scholar and loves apologetics. He covered historical evidences and offered some guidance on being certain so you can answer your kids when the ask. Plus, I’m adding links here you can use.

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For facts on how the Passover seder reflects the resurrection, listen here

 

How to Find Hope in 2022

How to Find Hope in 2022

I heard a well-known pastor say we live in extraordinary times, and we all know life has been tough. The pandemic has worn us down, and the news tends to be disturbing. Now that we face the New Year, how can we find hope? Let’s talk about healing and moving forward.

My guest this week was author Lori Wildenberg. She just completed the book Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. You’ll find her suggestions realistic and beneficial.

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For more information, listen here.

How to Choose Faith Over Fear

How to Choose Faith Over Fear

This pandemic has controlled our lives for almost a year now, and we see no end in sight. Medical folk indicate we should wear a mask even if we receive the vaccine, and the CDC keeps changing their guidelines. Our world is changing fast, and it’s easy to be afraid.

My guest this week was Cheri Swalwell. Fear dominated her life for many years. However, she learned to overcome and she told us what she learned.

Listen here.

How to Have Hope in a Crisis

How to Have Hope in a Crisis

I’m saddened by the attack at the capitol, and I’m sick of Covid 19. So far 2021 doesn’t appear to be improving either. However, we have hope.

My guest this week was Grace Fox. She told amazing stories of rough times she walked through and explained how God used the circumstances for good. So be encouraged. God is working for your good.

Listen here.

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