Summer Read

So, I’m so excited I got my little girl into reading! Finally!

She’s hates to read, or so she says. I just think she hasn’t found the type of books she’s into, yet.

Today, she followed me around the house, just getting into everything I was trying to do, while she was trying to entertain herself.

It wasn’t working. This is going to be another long summer!

Last year I tried to get her interested in learning Spanish. I found some workbooks for her that she flew through, so I also dug out my computer based Spanish program thinking, Ha! score! But no.

It kept her busy for about a minute. She lost interest quickly.

So today, while tripping over her, I asked if she would like me to take her to the library to pick out a book. She’s older, you know.

Well, she was super excited, so imagine my surprise when once we get there, she tells me she doesn’t like to read.

She doesn’t like to read…like that’s even a thing. She knows she’s my daughter right? She can’t possibly be serious. I read books like I drink water. I love books.

After fighting with her for what seemed like forever, I finally had to pick a book I thought she would enjoy. She was being less than helpful.

We had one of her brothers with us too. Yeah, he didn’t help. The entire time I’m trying to convince her to even consider reading something, he’s in the background whispering, “Just hit her.” And she’s responding in a not so whispering voice, ‘Grow up and get your own kids to beat. ”

A lovely day at the library, I must say.

After grabbing something I thought she might like, I quickly escorted my two loving offsprings out the door and booked it home.

Why did she even want to go to the library in the first place? I don’t know. I stopped asking.

While continuing our argument in the car, I inform her that she needs to read at least a chapter a day. And if she doesn’t read it, we will be reading it together every night.

While sitting at stop lights, I start to read her chapter one. Her brother tries to convince her she’d like the book if she’d give it a chance.

“Oh, how do you even know?”

“Because it’s about the same crap you watch on TV!”

Still not helping, but thank you… I think.

We stop by a Circle K so Justice could buy himself a soda, and I have a captive audience, so I continued reading.

We get home with only two pages left in chapter one.

“Two more pages, Butterfly. You only need to read two more pages tonight, before bed.”

Well, just as I’m about to head for my room for the evening, I remember the book. Crap.

I turn the TV off so I may finish reading it to her and get to bed and NOW she wants to read it…

Out loud….

To me.

So, I’m not sure if she really wanted to read it, or she just wanted to read it out loud, to me to put off me getting to bed.

I compromised with her. I read a page, then she did.

Well, somehow I got hustled into us reading not only to the end of chapter one, but all of CHAPTER TWO AS WELL!

We really did have a good time reading together. I wish it was a little earlier in the evening, but by the end, she made us read the last page of the chapter together.

It was great. She is actually getting into it!

Oh how great it would be to find her something to do all summer! Bonus if we can do it together!

I am encouraged. Maybe there is hope still for a little girl who claims she hates reading.

AND for a little girl who has a crush on Charlie. We’ll learn more about that, tomorrow in chapter three!

End of Year Expectations

I have struggled with expectations I have put on my kids and their education, their entire lives.

I was a child who never earned straight A’s, but I strive for them like nobody’s business. I graduated at the top 10% of my class, and I received a scholarship to a community college.

Don’t be too impressed. I lost it after my first year and my friends were in the top five and received scholarships and acceptance letters to universities.

Not doing homework, was unheard of. The amount of stress I put on myself led to migraines and breakdowns. Getting good grades was what defined me.

So, to have children who constantly do not turn in their homework, routinely bring home C’s and lower and just do the bare minimum to pass a class, has just about driven me over the edge. I have been disappointed and heartbroken time and time again.

However, things are changing. I have changed. Instead of comparing my children to me and what I was capable of as a child, I am learning to accept them for who they are and what they are truly capable of doing. I am no longer allowing their success or failure define who I am.

We may not have had any kiddos who have received any scholarships, acceptance letters into their favorite University or even applied for community college, this year.

We don’t have anyone with straight A’s or perfect attendance.

But we do have…

A kiddo who stuck it out and graduated, after losing his privilege to live in our house, two months before the end of school. He may not be going college anywhere right yet, but he’s working and paying rent somewhere and has bought his own form of transportation; as unconventional as it may be. It’s his and he’s the one who purchased it!

We have a kiddo, after struggling with his grades all year, and especially his last semester; who looks like he was able to pull a minimum grade up at the very end to avoid summer school!

We have a kiddo who after years of being suspended once a year, has managed to not only keep his nose out of the front office for the whole year, but has also avoided D’s and F’s, for the first time since third grade. And is coming off his IEP in time for him to start high school!

We have a kiddo who has transferred schools last year. Not once this year has he been sent home for fighting, crying or leaving his classroom or campus. He also has not been a target for any bullying and the kicker…made Honor Roll for the first time ever, this last quarter!

Oh I’m not done!

We have a kiddo who struggled all year with D’s and F’s. We were concerned he wasn’t going to pass the fifth grade. Even being grounded from the Internet and video games for over half the school year, didn’t seem to be helping. Although, his last quarter grades may not have been all A’s and B’s, he still got all his F’s up to passing and will be entering the sixth grade next year!

Finally, we have a kiddo who may have never have struggled with any of her grades, ever. But has proven herself once again just how versatile and capable she really is. Last year she transferred schools with her brother to a much smaller classroom. I was actually concerned it would hurt her socially, however she made new friends, both inside and outside her class and has still made Honor Roll three out of the four quarters!

We don’t have any rocket scientists, obviously, when it comes to their education. But I still feel these kids have ROCKED the 2015-2016 school year!

And I don’t feel I have lowered my expectations for any of them at all, but have certainly changed them to match who they are.

It is amazing the amount of love that blooms and heart that swells, with just accepting who my kids are and what they are capable of doing.

I think we’re all looking forward to what next year can bring and to see how much farther they can go!

Singing Praises

It’s super late, or super early, actually. I need to be sleeping. We have a HUGE day tomorrow. It’s our Memorial Weekend BBQ, and we have so much to do, still.

But can I sing the praises of my Justice before I go to sleep?

This child, who I have fought with since his birth… The one I sent to live with his dad just six months ago… He is back and he has really, really turned into a fine young man.

Oh my gosh I love him so much.

So much time, so much energy, so much heartache has gone into his life. And today I see a young man I could only dream of.

He is bursting with personality. Those he let’s see him, love him. He is funny, and sarcastic, and loving.

Tonight, he took the M&Ms away from me, because he cares. He came out of his room and played with his sister’s friends. He let one of them show him up, in a game of string.

He laughed. He yelled. He continued to smart off, “What the fluff?” whenever he would get his hands tangled.

He was pleasant. He was friendly. He was happy.

I am blessed. I am grateful for such a gift as he. I am honored to watch him grow. I am in awe of the craftsmanship that lies within.

He is remarkable.

And not because of his grades. Not because of his behavior. Not because of his ability to take common, innocent nouns and sometimes verbs, and turn them into swear words.

But because of his perseverance, his strength, his ability to change, his uniqueness.

He drives me absolutely insane. He sends me completely over the edge. He challenges my role as his mother, daily. He is the biggest pain in my….backside.

And yet I would not have him any other way.

I love him, not only for who he is, but for who he makes me be.

Well done, Jesus. I can see in him, a strong resemblance of his Father. Continue to mold him, sculpt him, refine him with fire. But make him yours, so that he may draw others to your side so they may bow at your feet.

All for your glory, Lord. He is for you alone. Amen.

My Son, the One with a Broad Future

Two and a half years ago I found myself at a child’s advocate organization, trying to get help for my kiddo.

He was failing.

Life for him, and with him, had always been hard. That was something he had struggled with much longer than two and a half years.

But now he was failing at school. He hated school. He hated his teachers. He hated his classmates. He hated homework. He hated school work.

I knew something was terribly wrong and couldn’t understand why he was in a remedial reading class, when two years prior, he was his class’ top reader.

I also couldn’t understand why the school didn’t see there was a problem, and it wasn’t just with his reading.

I wanted him to have an IEP, Individualized Educational Plan. It would allow him extra supports that was personalized to his needs in order for him to succeed in class.

I had to fight for it because although he had a disability, it wasn’t a learning disability.

At first, his school flat out refused to evaluate him even though his disability qualified him for at least testing, and he was failing.

It is true his behavior had just started to change. He hadn’t been failing for years, but I could see him spinning quickly in a direction I didn’t want him to go.

The short time frame, may have been their reason for not wanting to test him. I was told if there was anything I should be concerned with, they would be able to identify it before I could. They thought it was too soon. They didn’t want to label him.

I could appreciate that, I didn’t want to label him either, but my son needed help.

The organization helped educate me as to what my rights were and more importantly, how to let the school know I knew my rights.

After I was dismissed by the school psychologist and refused testing, I promptly emailed the school psychologist, school principal, and the school district stating I wanted an independent evaluator for my son.

Before the end of the day, someone from the school district had called to apologize and informed me their school psychologist had misrepresented their school and they would be more than happy to proceed with the evaluations, if that was still something I was interested in pursuing.

It was.

It was hard for me to go to that next meeting. I felt like the squeaky wheel, and I don’t like being the squeaky wheel. I’ve never been one who liked to rock the boat. I’m a people-pleaser, a recovering codependent.

So to sit in that meeting with all those school representatives looking at me like I was wasting their time, was all I could do from drowning in my own puddle of tears. Keep it together, Kim. One person even asked why were meeting again; wasn’t the decision to not test already made?

I knew it would be a slow process. It took time. It took a lot of time. It took a lot of people’s time. That was made perfectly clear.

But my son was struggling! He was growing more and more impatient. He was being suspended frequently. He was caring less and less. His self-esteem was crumbling. He was becoming more violent and more threatening. He was more out of control.

I was scared.

Days before the results meeting, the school psychologist had called for me to come in. They weren’t able to get all the evaluations completed. My son had refused to do some of the tests.

She wanted to make sure I understood, in the next meeting we would be determining if my son qualified for an IEP based on ED, an emotional disability or emotionally disturbed. She wanted to make sure I understood if we go through with this determination, that it would affect the rest of his life. It would mean he could never be in the military or any public service position like that of a police officer or fire fighter.

I turned to face her, my hands clutching a tear filled tissue with black eyeliner smudges, and told her my son has a mental illness that I don’t understand.

How our society deals with people with a mental illness is by putting them in jail or putting them on the street. I was aware of the broad range of jobs between being a police officer and living on the street, and I’m completely ok with it.

I would be thrilled for him to have the opportunity to pursue any one of them. But my son needs help. If he doesn’t get help, I’m afraid we won’t have to worry about whether or not he would be able to serve his country in the future; he won’t have a future to worry about.

He will be dead. Because that, unfortunately is the third option for people with an untreated mental illness. I’m asking you to help me, help my son.

That was almost three years ago. We got his IEP as well as counseling and other treatment.

As a sixth grader, I felt his future was very bleak. People worried about their teens graduating high school, I wasn’t sure if my son would make it to eighth grade.

But here I was tonight! Looking at my son standing with his class as they were being promoted on to high school.

I caught a smile from time to time, too. He stood tall. He had on a tie and his shirt tucked in. He took pictures. He cracked jokes. He said goodbye to his friends for the summer.

I saw him.

I could see him standing there somewhere in that broad range of excelling and failing, and I was ok with it. Just like I knew I would be.

I’m so proud of him. I’m so proud of us.

YOU DID IT!

This is the Day!

Today is the day! Although he is graduating Thursday, today is his last day of school!

Oh I’m going to have an emotional week, but today is just such an emotionally charged day filled with so many conflicting feelings, I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t have asked for today off instead of Thursday.

Today is the last day I get the honor of driving my son to school. Eight weeks ago he had lost the privilege of living in my home, but still, Monday through Friday, I was able to see him.

I will miss him more than he knows.

Today is the day I wasn’t sure would come. Not the date, of course, but his last day as a graduating Senior. For the past year I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of him not graduating this spring. I had finally decided in ten years, nobody will care what month or even year he would graduate, only that he did. But two months ago the idea of him not graduating at all became a real possibility in my mind. I had to be ok with that too.

Today I picked him up at 6:45, like I have been. I was a little concerned he was going to tell me he wasn’t going at all today, but he did.

I wanted to decorate the car with balloons and write, YOU DID IT!, on all the windows, but I knew it would upset him, so I didn’t.

But I got a hug.

He sat in the car and grunted and groaned about how he didn’t want to talk to me about why his hand was bandaged up.

He snapped at his sister, who also understood the significance of the day and wanted to come.

He feebly explained he wasn’t a morning person as justification for being a jerk.

In honor of it being his last day, I took him and his friend to McDonald’s and bought them a nutritious and brain fueling breakfast. Ok…it was food…maybe.

After a few more disgruntled quips, and disagreement about a graduation gift, I drove quietly the rest of the way to his school.

He felt bad, I knew it. He reached over to give me his first and last hug before he exited the car.

“Love you”, I heard sounding more like a question he was asking me.

“I love you, too.”

Regardless how you behave, I love you. I always will love you.

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

Tending to the Seeds Among the Weeds

Parable of the Wheat and Weeds

Matthew 13:24-30

Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.  Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

As a mom, I wanted to take a moment to understand this passage. After reading and rewriting this passage, I’m started to understand for the first time that we are expected to live among the weeds.

This make me think about how Christians go crazy with fighting to have certain laws not passed or politicians from being voted into office.

We’ve been encouraged to believe we are not of this world, but are to reside inside the world. We are only here temporarily. For what purpose, I would say is to bring others with us for when we go home.

We’re not here to change, take over or pull weeds.

Countries have tried going into other countries to take over. That certainly has never been received well or without resistance.

Wars have been fought and lost over foreigners coming in and trying to change things up.

Jesus has told us he wants us to live among the weeds. He is the farmer. He bought the land. He planted the seeds. He employs his workers and harvesters, but sometime during the night, the enemy has come in and scattered weeds.

The farmer has sacrificed his land. But when the time is right he will call his harvesters to gather his wheat among the weeds and store them with him.

He says if the weeds were to be pulled, you run the risk of uprooting his wheat too.

How many times have you heard someone say they don’t go to church because of how Christians behave? Their roots have been uprooted. The farmer has a much harder time replanting them after they’ve been damaged and a lot of the times they never recover.

Parable of the Wheat and Weeds Explained

Matthew 13:36-43

Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.”

Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.

 “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world.  The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

I have come to realized I need to stop beating myself up over all the weeds that have crept into my kids lives; bad influences, attitudes, and peer pressure.

In fact, I need to start accepting that they are there. God never expected me to raise them in a weed-free environment. I didn’t put the weeds there. I didn’t just let them pop up. He doesn’t blame me for them. And he doesn’t expect me to run around pulling up all the weeds that have started to sprout.

Unfortunately they are to grow up with them. But he knows that. I will continue to attend to them, his good seeds among the weeds. I will give them what I can, and address the farmer if they are in need of something more.

He will protect them and one day he will remove all that causes sin and all who do evil from their lives. And one day we shall all shine like the sun in our Father’s Kingdom.

 

Doing Things Different

I remember my dad telling me, while I was in grade school his job was to teach me life lessons. During high school, his job was to let me be more independent and live out those life lessons but when I fell, he’d be there to pick me up. It was his way to prepare me for being an adult.

You know those babies who it seems like they want to skip crawling, and move straight to walking? I honestly don’t even think it’s possible, but there are still kiddos who seem they are in such a stinkin’ hurry to grow up.

Tunes was one of those kids. He was walking at ten months. Anything and everything he had just a little bit interest in, he may not have excelled in, but he sure did pretty well.

I could always see how his brother Justice felt like he was falling short while walking in his brother’s footsteps. Many times it would be enough for him to flat out, not try.

Tunes has never been one to follow the rules. He’s always had to try things his way. He’d have Legos kits, but was never interested in following their plans. He would take his working toys apart and try to invent something new. He’s always thought differently than other people. So why am I so surprised he’d want to enter his adulthood any other way?

Tunes lost his privilege to live in our house. He is now living with a friend and his family, taking two classes at high school and has managed to get his grades up two weeks before graduating, has been working 30 or more hours at a job he’s had for the past 9 months, and has recently obtained a second job that’s located in same parking lot as his first.

He seems to be doing pretty good.

He’s never been a conventional kid, why would he start now? Why didn’t I see this coming?

It’s when I think about all the steps he’s skipped to get here, it’s when I become anxious. I feel I’ve let him down since I haven’t been able to walk him through them. So many things he didn’t get to experience in my house. So many things my dad would qualify as practicing and opportunities; going out with friends, driving a car, falling in love, I don’t know if I get to help with.

I feel there’s such a huge area of life he’s skipping, and I’m struggling to be ok with. I would never want to be one of those people who stand on the sidelines waiting for something to go horribly wrong, just to say, I told you so.

But I will stand here, waiting, watching, and wondering, where I fit in.

I Was Not Prepared

There is a full fledged war raging against our children. Between drugs and pornography, I was not prepared for the fight.

When my kids were little, my job was to teach them what was right and what was wrong. My influence was unchallenged.

However, as they grow, I’m finding I’m not only still teaching them what is right and what is wrong, but I’m also in somewhat of a tug-of-war with something that is pulling them away from what is right.

I don’t know if you would call it influences or forces or just evil, but I’m finding it is much stronger than me. Or should I say, it is a crafty opponent that cannot be arrogantly dismissed as not a threat to my children’s future and wellbeing.

I’m no longer fighting with the forces that are inside my house, but I’m finding there are forces outside my house that are not only trying to get in, but are trying pulling my kids out.

And they’re not good forces. They’re not safe. They are tantalizing my kids with promising fantasies. Lying to them. Manipulating them. Taking advantage of their youth and maturity.

And scaring the living crap out of their mother!

If there is an immunity to them or it, I’m not aware of it. My kids were raised in a Christian home. Well, half Christian. And maybe that has something to do with the struggle now. I don’t know.

But my kids were taught well; they were trained in the truth, but are still finding it hard to battle these outside forces. Do they even recognize the battle???

This world is big, ugly, and scary. How do we even stand a chance?

I so don’t even have an answer for you. The only thing I know is I put my trust in God. He has never let me down. Not to say I haven’t been disappointed, but my survival rate thus far has been 100%.

I know I am not promised an easy life because of Christ. In fact, if anything I should expect a more difficult one.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. – Matthew 10:22.

But I still live with hope because I am assured,

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

My kids are going to face bumps, scrapes and scars from life and this world. I hate that, but so does Jesus.

So my only advice I leave you with is this, trust your children with the Lord, never stop praying for them and be aware the war for them is real.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Target Memory

Often times, I have a lot of down time between jobs. I find things to keep me busy if I don’t have enough time to run to the office.

When I was in school, it’s when I did most of my homework. Today, I find myself reading, crocheting sleeping mats, or walking.

I’ve recently committed myself to walking five miles everyday, so I have spent most of my down time doing just that. I’ll drive to my next assignment, park my car, and start walking.

And yes I have gotten lost a few times and some of my walks have turned to runs after losing track of time and getting lost in my own head.

I do a lot of praying on these walks.

As you may know, my oldest son has been laying the heaviest on my heart.

Today, I found myself walking into a Target to use their bathroom, before heading back to my assignment. As I approached the restroom I noticed a pretty full cart sitting immediately outside the door. I thought it kind of curious, however, upon entering I heard the sweet soft voice of a little boy talking.

I never got to see who he was or his mother, but on the other side of that stall, I was thrown into a time machine that took me back to when my big boy was three.

“Will it go by itself? Will it go by itself? ”

” No, it won’t automatically flush.”, his mother replied.

“It won’t go by itself? ”

” No, it won’t. It doesn’t need to flush. You didn’t go potty. ”

“Will it go by itself?”

“No, it won’t. Come on, let’s go.”

“I can touch the soap? I can touch the soap? I CAN TOUCH THE SOAP! ”

” Yes, you can touch the soap. Let’s hurry. ”

As the large door was opening for them to leave, I heard a thump. And they were gone.

I didn’t get to see him or his mom, because I didn’t want to. In my mind I was reliving an old memory that could have played out, just as I was hearing it.

I miss my little boy so much. But I decided right then and there that I didn’t wish to go back. I miss him and long for him, but anytime I feel the grief is too much, I can go back in time, on any given day, in any giving Target bathroom and listen to those memories again.

When he was little and I was there with him in that bathroom, I also remember my sweet little boy didn’t always bring me joy.

There was a lot of frustration back in his childhood as well. And just as I long for that little three year old, there will be a time when I will miss this eighteen year old too.

It’s easy to miss something once you realize everything will be OK. Once the struggle is gone so is the stress, worry and fear. Funny how those feelings aren’t as clear in your memories.

We’re definitely going through quite a struggle right now. But it won’t last forever. I’m going to try letting go some of that stress, worry and fear now, and start enjoying my big little boy today. You know, before I miss him.

After I washed my hands and turned the corner to exit, I saw the large yellow “wet floor” cone on its side, half way blocking the door.

Ah, yes. My three year old has been through here.

Dear Mrs. Britt

Yesterday, my son, who is on the verge of graduating high school, received a letter from his kindergarten teacher. She wanted to congratulate him for making it to the end.

Do you know how stinkin’ amazing this is? No, you don’t. You can’t possibly.

Now I don’t know why or when she started looking for her Senior Kindergarteners, but she did and she does. I don’t know what her motivation is but can I tell you how her letter impacted me?

Thirteen years ago I had left my husband with two little boys and was pregnant with my third. It was the summer before my oldest was to start kindergarten.

We moved in with my dad and step mom, and even though for seven years, I had dreamed of walking my children to the little school around the corner from our house in Surprise, I found myself walking him to the bus stop that took him to the same school I attended as a child, in Phoenix.

This wasn’t my plan. This wasn’t anyone’s plan.

He got into a little bit of trouble in kindergarten. He was often caught fighting with another little boy for the honor of sitting next to his friend Brandon. He liked to talk. He was a little know-it-all, but he was happy and not shy, and he liked to lead.

It’s funny, we often talk about five-year-old Tunes, and how he’s so different from eighteen-year-old Tunes. Maybe it’s not so funny.

A lot of things have changed since then.

After his third grade, I transferred him to an inner city school when his brother started kindergarten. I had since moved from my dad’s house and was back on my own.

The school was centrally located, and since I drove all over the valley for work, it was conveniently located. It came with free breakfasts, free lunches, and free morning and aftercare. On top of all that, it was an A+ school with small classrooms. How could I have gone wrong?

Well, it went terribly wrong.

Three years later, while my third son was now in kindergarten, I finally saw the signs that my son was being bullied. And not just bullied. He later revealed to me he was knocked down and beat often.

Now here I was, not the woman I am today, having to find the nerve to sit down to talk to an African-American, male principal, and explain that my blonde hair, blue eyed little boy was getting picked on daily, because he was white. Then I had to listen to his teacher, who maintained it was undeniably not true.

I would like to say I promptly removed my children from that school, but after three years I would say I wasn’t prompt enough.

My son who had once gotten into constant trouble for talking too much, had friends he could fight over, could never be wrong, was a leader and was happy, found himself isolated in his bedroom, did not go to his friend’s house, started failing in school, struggled with anxiety, eventually started lying to his parents, stopped visiting his dad, started sneaking out of the house to hang with the wrong crowd and it’s been exactly one month ago that he got himself kicked out of our house and is living three blocks down from his family who loves him with all their heart.

Yeah, I don’t think I was prompt enough.

Because absences, along with grades, are threatening whether or not he graduates in four weeks, I have been physically driving him to school every morning. I believe that even though he is not in my house, I am still his mother and it is my job to make sure he gets to class every day. I can’t make him do the work, but I can make sure he’s there.

On the day that he received this letter, yesterday, we had been arguing…again. We were both frustrated. We were both tired. I left him feeling that yucky pit in my stomach.

However, a couple hours later I received a text from him as if the morning had never happened.

“Mom, look what I just got.”

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It was her letter. We text back and forth to each other for a few minutes. I had a brief moment with my five-year-old Tunes. It was nice.

Her letter made me cry. It made me cry because she knew him as a five-year-old, not the eighteen-year-old version. She only knew him as the little boy who was in constant trouble for talking too much, had friends he fought over, could never be wrong, was a leader and was happy. Not many others even knew that kid.

Her letter brought me back thirteen years to my longest, darkest hour, when my family was falling apart, and I saw Jesus was there.

Jesus was there even when I didn’t see him. Even when I was so far from him, he was there. And he saw me. He saw us!

Did she know all these years later she would be showing me how Jesus held us together?

He brought us to her. He knew how much Tunes was going to struggle. He knew he would be in danger of not finishing his senior year.

Did she know all these years later she would be encouraging my son to persevere, to not give up, to stick it out?

That’s all Jesus. That’s amazing!

I hope her letter motivates him to finish strong. I hope it reminds him of who he is and what he’s capable of. I hope it reminds him of his start and it encourages him to finish. I hope it gives him hope…and a future.

Jesus is hope. I hope he sees Him too.

Thank you, Mrs. Britt. I think you are an amazing person.