This series was initially written for The Homeschool Post at the request of one of their editors when they heard our story. The Homeschool Post has since gone by the wayside, but I saved our family’s testimony fortunately. I have made a few minor corrections. Part two below was originally published on September 04, 2012.
Little did I know, my nightmare was just beginning …
I had woken up to the fact that our perfect Christian homeschooling family, wasn’t. First my oldest daughter eloped at eighteen, the year she graduated from homeschool, with an unbeliever of whom we did not approve (for that reason; we did not know him well enough as a person to approve or disapprove of him for any other reason). Then a few years later, our son’s bethrothed was killed in a horrible traffic accident, and a callous youth pastor drove him from church and out into the world. At the same time our youngest daughter had been given marijuana at youth group and became hooked on hard drugs. She ran away from home at sixteen.
Taken just a few weeks before our youngest (dark hair) ran away.
My husband spent hours, weeks, night after night, driving, driving, driving, trying to find our daughter. We didn’t know where she was at first. I spent hours and hours on the phone with every parent of every person she might possibly know, trying to find her. We uncovered a few trails … I will never forget the mother, who knew where her (of age) son was – with my daughter – who refused to tell us any information whatsoever because she did not want her son going to jail for statutory rape. No amount of pleading from one mother to another, no amount of begging for her to have mercy on us or on our daughter, unbuttoned her lips. That was the closest we came to finding her on our own in those beginning months.
When all human recourse fails you, of course you turn to God. I began crying out to Him from the first day. There were all the usual questions: why is this happening to us, why aren’t You bringing our daughter home, why, when all we have done is serve You in righteousness, are you taking our children away one by one, like Job. Why God?
I wish I could say I received profound spiritual wisdom and answers. I did not know it then, but the answer would be in the experience of His faithfulness, the experience of Him walking with me through each crisis and trauma, through each day and hour. I say “He walked with me” deliberately. Some days, I felt strong and attacked all the power of Hell in intercessory prayer. Some days, I could barely put one foot in front of the other, and my time with the Lord consisted only of me sobbing out of my broken mama’s heart. His presence never left me, and my faithful Abba Daddy held me up so I didn’t shatter completely.
Then the day came when our daughter called us. That was an answer to prayer; we knew that she was alive and finally, a little of what had happened. We knew she was using. Off and on, she stopped by home to pick up clothes or get something to eat. She would not tell us where she was living. We learned later that she had been “couch surfing” – sleeping over on the couches at friends’ places – usually a different one each night. She was living out of a backpack.
My biggest fear was of the phone ringing. Each time it rang, I was terrified that it would be the police, asking us to come down and identify the body of a young woman they had found in a ditch somewhere. I stopped answering the phone. I still can’t answer the phone today, unless caller id shows the name of someone I know instead of a random number.
Our daughter began living with a young man who had started out zealous for God in youth group but, because of the sins of church people done against him, had turned and was a practicing Satanist. Our daughter’s greatest gift has always been compassion and an anointing from God to love and serve whatever is outcast, but at this stage in her life, her attraction to the outcasts simply kept pulling her under, like a too weak swimmer trying to save a drowning man.
Our son, in the meantime, had moved out into his own apartment and had hooked up with a girl who was, if not possessed, then severely oppressed. We felt as if all the power of Hell was arrayed against our children, to take them out, and to claim a defeat for God.
Thanksgiving that year. She had her hair in dreadlocks and always wore a hat to cover her hair when she saw us because she knew how much we hated the dreadlocks.
At the beginning, He taught me to pray the Scriptures over them. (My best advice is to do this now and not wait until they are in trouble.) I started a 3×5 file box with a different Scripture written out on each index card. The file box was my prayer box, at first for our daughter, but then for all our children and family. Today my prayer box is two completely packed 3×5 file boxes.
At night, when the house was asleep, I could not sleep with our daughter not home with us and not knowing where she was. So I would pace back and forth in the living room and pray each of the Scriptures in the prayer box over her, with tears, one by one. Most nights it took about three hours, and then I was able to drop into bed and sleep for a few hours until dawn.
From the beginning, He told me, “Let her go.” I heard that over and over again, almost daily, for months and years. “How can you ask that of me, God? She is my baby; she is only sixteen; she is not safe!” He could ask it because even though we did not have her, He did. HE DID!
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. John 10:27-29
I am telling you, I believed this was a true statement, before all this happened, simply because I believed every statement in the Bible is true. But today I can tell you this is a true statement, because I have lived through Satan trying to snatch my children out of the Father’s hand, and he was not able to. But I am getting ahead of myself …
When enough bad things had happened, and I had cried and cried for years; prayed and prayed for years; and stood and stood on the Scriptures without ceasing for years, and every year, instead of getting better, our daughter moved into harder and harder drugs and became mixed up with worse and worse people – I let her go. I was too numb to feel anything anymore.
When it all began, He began revealing to us the things that parents do to lose their children’s hearts. The things that my husband and I did to lose our children’s hearts. The best message I ever heard on this topic was by Dr. S. M. Davis called Anger the Destroyer. Expressed anger and frustration over disobedience and childishness works in the short-term to make your children comply. But it never works in the long-term, and the only thing you as a parent have accomplished is to cut the heart-strings of your child’s heart, that ties their heart to yours.
My husband and I both had to repent to all three of our children for outbursts of anger. And then we had to learn to walk in our new normal, which was capturing those feelings of anger when they first arose; and submitting them to the cross in obedience to Christ; and refusing to act on them. Sometimes we succeeded, and sometimes we failed. And when we failed – back to our children again, to confess our sin, to repent, and to ask for forgiveness.
Through it all, the Lord was extremely gentle with us. He knew our own upbringing, that we were not raised in His nurture and admonition ourselves, and had no role models to teach us Biblical parenting. He knew the state of the society we lived in and how hard it can be to raise godly children with a fervent heart toward Him, with the cesspool the world is in. He knew the state of the church, and that it has only been in the past twenty years, perhaps even less, that some have begun teaching and revealing the Scriptures in Biblical parenting and family relationships.
God did not leave us completely without hope, or joy, however! He is the God of hope! In the summer of that first year, our oldest daughter bore her firstborn, our first grandson, who was the light of our lives. Being pregnant and becoming a mother herself helped her find her way to make peace with God and brought her back into our lives. She experienced a dramatic spiritual renewal and has only increased, since that time, in grace and wisdom and in the power of the Spirit. She is an amazing woman today, much farther along in God than I was at her age, and we are extremely proud of her.
God gave us reason to be joyful in the middle of our tragedy.
Over and over again, He sent times of refreshing and encouragement while we were in the trenches praying without ceasing and without seeing answers to our prayers. One day I was feeling particularly lost and seriously contemplated taking my blog and websites down. I was under so much condemnation for having failed in raising my own children to serve Him, which was the most important goal of my life. Perhaps some of you can relate. He told me,
“You know, I am the perfect parent, but My children rebelled against Me and did not serve Me either. I loved them perfectly, I trained them perfectly, and I disciplined them perfectly. But I am able to draw all who are Mine, back to Myself.”
He led my sister to purchase a volume of illuminated Psalms, a gorgeous book, without knowing why she was purchasing it, even before she knew what was going on with our daughter. When she realized, she gave the volume to me. That book got me through some very dark days. There were days I could not open my Bible because of my tears. But I could open that book, and the lovely illustrations ministered to me even when I could not see the words.
Are you hearing how faithful and gentle and uncondemning God was being to us, even through our failures? By now it had been four years of fervent prayers, without seeing results. What happened next was truly amazing!
Note from hsbapost.com: Join us next week for more of this story … a story that a LOT of homeschool mamas need to hear. Honestly, I needed to hear it. I was so very thankful that Christine shared it with me and I asked her personally to please consider sharing it with all of you. It is such a blessing to have the shoulders of giants to stand on – women who have “walked this way before” and have come out on the other side with good fruit to show for it. I thank you for this awesome legacy of faith and perseverance, Christine!
Title picture from the original series published at The Homeschool Post.
This bio appeared with the original series at hsbapost.com in 2012.
Christine was raised in the Lutheran church and was born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit at the height of the Jesus Movement in the 70s. She and her husband David have been married 30 years, and have three children, whom she homeschooled, and four grandchildren. Soon after she began homeschooling, Christine discovered classical education. She is the author of Classical Christian Homeschooling. Her search for an interesting and accurate history curriculum led her to H.A. Guerber’s 19th century narrative histories. In order to reprint these books for homeschoolers today, and to offer other original homeschooling resources, she began Nothing New Press.
David and Christine recently left Colorado where they raised their children and relocated to Florida to be with David’s family. Shortly after this move, Christine was hit in a terrible traffic accident and suffered a debilitating injury. Her recovery has taken time and effort, but she has progressed enough so that she is once again writing. Today she blogs daily at Christine’s Bible Study.