Visit Those In Prison

Image courtesy of africa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few weeks ago, I learned that my grandchildren’s mother got arrested…again. In April, she bonded out after sitting there for nine months. She made a bunch of promises to the kids in March that I fussed at her about. She was in no position to make promises, and, as I knew would happen, she didn’t fulfill any of them when she got out in April. In fact, she never contacted us. She disappeared. She still hasn’t gone to trial on those charges, and now she has more.

I told her this time she wasn’t going to talk to her children: no phone calls, email, visits, or letters. I told her if she called and I was working or the kids were with me or I was in public, I would not take her call. It hasn’t stopped her from trying, and every single time she’s called I was either with the kids, working, or in public.

She’s decided I hate her.

What do you do?

To be honest, I don’t know. I’m not in any hurry to talk to her. I don’t hate her. You can’t hate the child you raised and nurtured through childhood and the teen years. They are a part of you.

The other day, she undermined my decision about contact and sent the kids a letter. On this day, Victoria got the mail out of the mailbox. Neither of the grands love doing that–there’s a tiny spider who hangs out there–but for some reason,  she did it that day. I intercepted the parts they didn’t need to read but fought hard to hide my anger over this action.

More and more, my daughter has become a person I do not like. Like is not the same as love. And not liking someone doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love them. I can love her and dislike her actions. It’s complicated, but what relationship isn’t?

In church, we’ve been talking about walking the second mile as a good neighbor to those who are in need. This past Sunday, Matt, our minister, talked about who our neighbor is and specifically mentioned those in prison.

I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36

I can’t do it. I don’t have the energy. Not anymore. I’m not the one who needs to visit her. She needs encouragement. I’ve done it many times over, and I’m tired.

Why am I telling you this?

Because wherever you are, there is someone in prison whose family has hit that point. The person is prison still needs encouragement, and a family member is the worst possible person to do it.  If the prisoner has not admitted to their mistakes in full, they will wear that family member down to a husk with promises and pleas and manipulation. I’ve seen it first hand. While visiting her, I’ve watched family members cry, yell, storm out, cajole, and provide the wrong things to their loved one. Someone who is not a close family member can say things to them in a different way. Can keep the emotions out of it.  Can let them know that God hasn’t turned His back on them.

So, please consider it. You can’t just walk into a prison and visit someone. There are rules. But please, if this speaks to you, check it out. Prison inmates are captive audiences, literally. They are open to contact from Christians more so than the general public.

It takes a special person to do this, but I’m certain some of you reading this are that kind of person.

 

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In the Way They Should Go

 Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

I’ve heard this verse from Proverbs quoted in relation to raising children numerous times. Last year, one of our ministers preached about this verse and explained it’s often applied incorrectly. He said the original Hebrew does not refer to faith in this verse. It refers to helping them discover their gifts and talents. In other words, help them find out what they’re good at and they will pursue that in their later years.

That makes sense to me, although it’s a bit disappointing when this verse has given hope to many parents, myself included, with wayward grown children.

Nevertheless, this task is an interesting one with the grandkids.

We’re celebrating Amari’s seventh birthday this weekend! He was four when he came to live with us. So much has changed over the years, and he’s grown a lot. Just today, I was facing the fact that most of his shorts don’t fit. I’d forgotten about those years where they grow faster than their “Carters wear out.” Of course, when I can I buy in consignment sales, but I’m learning that there’s less available for boys in those stores. Not only that, but boys’ clothes don’t seem to go on sale as much as girls’ clothes. Why is that? Add his interest in playing basketball and football, and his clothes really take a beating (which is why I think consignment stores have fewer boys’ clothes).

He definitely has interests and talents. This summer he’s developed an avid interest in reading. Nothing makes me happier than to go looking for him only to find him engrossed in a book. I read a LOT. I mean really a LOT. My kids were readers but not like me. All signs indicate the reading bug has bitten him. But he also loves math and is quick with his numbers. His mind is so curious, and his questions about everything, including God, keep me hopping.

As for his sister, she finished grade school this year and is headed to middle school in the fall. Last night, I realized that she has grown another inch and is my height (5’6″). She grew three inches over the last school year and another inch in the last month! The doctor says she’s going to be at least 5’10”, but I’m wondering if that estimate is a bit low.  Because of her height, everyone tries to push her toward basketball, volleyball, or swimming. No one has mentioned running yet, but she’s all legs. The thing is, she’s not interested in playing competitive team sports. She does gymnastics, yes even with her height, and she’s very good at it. But she’s still only interested in it as a hobby.

Victoria loves science and art. In fact, she won her school science fair this year and received an Honorable Mention at the district level. She likes to read but would rather be crafting something. My biggest battle with her is getting her to leave things in the trash. She wants to save every cereal box, scrap of paper, and empty lotion bottle to use in her crafts. I replaced her comforter this year because the old one had a rip in it. Before I could do something with it, she cut it up and started using it to make things.

So, there you have it. They are growing and we continue to try to nurture who they are. We’re headed for the teenage years with Victoria. You know that’s going to be so much fun!