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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Finalizing Your Vision: Finding Your Passion For Service Pt 8

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

 

For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

 

 

 

During the first two months of 2018, I taught a Vision Board workshop to women at my church. During that time, we explored how we prefer to serve, why we want to serve, and whom we want to serve. I summarized each of the sessions in the following posts:

Wednesday night was the last night, and we finished creating our vision boards. As I’d reminded these wonderful women each week, the best way to create a vision board is to pull images that spoke to them, whether they understood why or not. Even though I teach this process, I’m still amazed at how well this approach helps someone recognize their passions.

In last week’s post, I shared an older vision board of mine:

My Mission Statement at the time of the above board’s creation was:

To inspire, motivate, and encourage women in their search
for personal acceptance and development.

This blog grew out of that mission, and I have focused many of my posts on my personal story of overcoming barriers and traumatic events in my life. Although this remains a passion of mine, recent changes in my and my husband’s lives have drawn me toward a new focus in service.  Although it’s a work in progress, my current Mission Statement states:

To open communication, touch lives, and create close relationships that
support grandparents as they meet the challenge of raising their grandchildren.

 

This is my new vision board:

 

 

The process of creating a Mission Statement and Vision Board helps us create something that points us in the right direction when asked to serve. Does it fit our Mission? Should we say yes or no? I’m the kind of person who always wants to say yes, but realistically I can’t. I serve God best when I stop and listen to the Spirit’s guidance. My new mission resonates with the verses in Jeremiah 28 and 29 where God instructs the Israelites to grow where they are (in Babylon captivity).  In this blog, I’ve already begun sharing the experience of raising grandchildren. How will I expand in this area? Where it will take me, I don’t know, but I’ll be sure to share here.

This workshop series was a great journey for me, and several of the women who participated found new purposes in their Christian service. Two wonderful ladies gave me permission to share their finished boards here.

As you can see, they took very different approaches in creating their boards. Throughout this workshop, I encouraged everyone to follow where the Spirit led them, and I’m thrilled and humbled to have shared this journey with so many amazing women.

Have you followed this process through these posts? I would love to hear what you learned about yourself!

 

 

Interested in offering a Finding Your Passion For Service workshop? I’m available for one day workshops or weekend retreats. Please use the form below to contact me with questions.

Miracles In the Making: Finding Your Passion for Service Pt. 7

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/freedigitalphotos.net

During the months of January and February, I’m teaching a workshop at my church about finding God’s Will as you serve Him. This blog provides brief summaries of the previous classes in order to help people stay up to date if they can’t attend or have missed a session.

 

Previous Posts In the Series:

 

Some of the handouts are available on their respective posts. If you can’t locate the appropriate handout, feel free to request them from me here.

Miracles in the Making

At first, I didn’t think I’d post about our class this past week because we’re in the final stages of our Mission Statements and Vision Boards. I haven’t completed my vision board yet, but I’m sharing a picture of a board I created a few years ago. My Mission Statement is shaping up but not finalized. I’ll share it here next week.

This past Wednesday, we had a small group. The numbers each week have fluctuated from five to fourteen women. That’s one reason why I’m leaving updates on this blog.

At first, I thought my only participant would be a woman new to our church. She hadn’t attended the workshop prior to Wednesday, so I gave her the handouts and a brief overview of what we’ve been doing. Then another woman showed up and wanted help with her Mission Statement. Last week, she’d shared with us a program she’s starting and she wanted her statement to fit this mission and help her create that quick blurb to use when telling others about this new program.

Her program will help children who have experienced something many of us can’t imagine. Because of the nature of this post and the confidentiality of the women who attended Wednesday night, I’m not going to share more about her program at this time. Sometime later, when she has everything ironed out, I will share her information because it is for a very worthwhile cause.

What I wanted to share was the amazing way God brought women together that night. We ended up with six of us seated around the table talking about this program and helping her work on her Mission Statement. The more she revealed, the more we bonded. And I’m still getting cold chills as I recall what happened. One by one, five of these women revealed their OWN experiences with the trauma this new program will focus on. Five out of six of us had personal knowledge and experience!

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

I felt God’s hand in this gathering. Many of the women had missed several sessions while those who regularly attended were not there. God brought this particular group of women together as encouragers for each other and, in so doing, gave this program first-hand knowledge and validation of its mission.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I’ll admit, that night as I drove to church to teach this workshop, I didn’t want to go. I was tired. I hadn’t eaten dinner. I needed to get up very early the next day. Yet, God blessed me and five other women by being there with us as we revealed our secrets. I drove home feeling very different than when I drove to church.

Amen!