Nadia slumped in her recliner, reading the scriptural passage from the Our Daily Bread devotional for Thursday, November 16th, 2006.
“You shall teach them diligently to your children*.”
“Yeah right!” She slammed the devotional booklet on the carpet. So much for my quiet time,” she sighed, cutting it short.
Waves of guilt washed over her. She fired up her laptop, waiting for the announcement of Faithwriters.com’s new weekly “Writing Challenge” topic and winners. It after 9:15 AM---the announcements had been delayed.
Already wasted an hour clicking on the Faithwriters’ website.
Wish I could get that scripture* off my mind…..I’ve failed…. Flunked “Parenting 101”….Thought we brought up our sons in the ways of the Lord but look what happened…..
Parenthood hadn’t always been painful. She still had the thirty-year-old-ink-smeared paper napkin where she’s dropped thankful tears, scribbling the details of their soon-to-be-adopted infant son. She pulled out of her son’s baby book and relived the happiest day of her life. The napkin was now yellowed, dog-eared but clearly read… 9/21/1976, 6 lbs., blue-eyed and bald, loves pacifier.
Their dream had come true. The missing puzzle piece of the puzzle was in place. They were finally parents.
She’d never regretted being a stay-at-home mom. But as Thomas James (better known as TJ) grew he was more than just an active little boy. Despite their fruitless efforts of discipline, he repeatedly got in trouble. “We had a little problem,” was a greeting she’d heard too many times picking him up from preschool.
When TJ entered kindergarten their dream came true, again, as younger brother, baby Riley, joined their family. Unlike TJ, Riley proved to be an easier child who didn’t struggle with attention deficit disorder.
TJ’s teen years were a walking nightmare. A week shy of his 18th birthday he’d chosen his drug addiction over following the house rules so his parents had no choice but to throw him out.
Meanwhile, Riley continued to thrive, starting college. It was there he started to go downhill. No one knew how troubled he was until last summer. First they learned he wasn’t even an architect (and was never enrolled in graduate school----much less graduated college in August, 2003 as he claimed). He was an alcoholic, running from the law with three DUIs as well as criminal impersonation charges. Since July he’d been incarcerated.
After an understandable depression, Nadia started getting some joy back. She’d released her younger son to God (just as she’d done with TJ years ago) although it was hard. She’d only received two letters from him in jail, telling her he couldn’t face his family again. Trying to get any information from the correctional center was about as likely as landing President Bush on the phone. From the cold reception on the phone she felt she was locked up. A condemned criminal.
Her writing helped her stay focused, although she’d wondered…,Am I wasting my time? Been awhile since I’ve won….
She tried once more to call his jail counselor but the phone just rang. Through uncontrollable sobs she called the The 700 Club’s 24-hour prayer line where a compassionate counselor asked, “Have you heard of Teen Challenge?”
“Thanks, but you don’t understand…. Our son is 25 years old.”
“Doesn’t matter…They’ll help him,” the counselor said, her voice laden with empathy,
Within minutes Nadia was talking to a local Teen Challenge pastor who promised to minister to Riley.
Maybe I’ve flunked parenting, but I’m still a parent. Always will be.
Then the phone rang, again. It was TJ. Now 30, clean and sober, married with children of his own, he’d been working hard at his recovery.
“Hey mom, I need some parental advice. Little TJ’s been coloring on the walls…..Spits on his baby sister.…. Have tried the naughty chair, even spanking, but he just doesn’t’ get it. What should we do?”
She almost dropped the phone. TJ’s asking me for advice? She shot up a prayer for godly wisdom….
“You were a good mom. Sorry I’m just now telling you,” TJ assured her, ending his call.
We care, the Teen Challenge pastor had said, promising to visit Riley in jail.
The words lingered in her heart, healing her---more priceless than any award-winning short story or poem.
She stared in disbelief at the new writing topic now posted.
Too painful….Think I’ll pass this week…But then again, I just may have a story….
*Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV)
**Please pray for “Riley” (based on a true story).
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