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http://www.michellebenthamcreates.com

Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tuesday’s “In Other Words”: Momma Prayed


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Heather at Titus 2 Woman is hosting this week. Be sure to stop by her blog and check out the other posts.
For More Information about the “In Other Words” Meme click the link at the top of this post and get in on the fun!


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“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna’ get.” - Forest Gump
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“When Momma prayed…” I love this song. You know I think back to my own childhood and how my family rarely darkened the doors of church, but I knew my parents loved the Lord and can remember my parents telling me just a few years ago how they would lay awake at night and pray for me and the choices I was making in my life. I am the result of answered prayers because my momma and my daddy prayed.
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In my own life, I did not know anything about the power of prayer until I landed in the middle of my own parenting crisis. I am the mother to two daughters and one son, and the step-mother of one son and one daughter each. My son, Justin, went home to be with the Lord on August 23, 2005 at the age of 17 years after a hard fought battle for his life following a car accident eight days earlier. Not only was he fighting for his life with the help of doctors and encouragement of family, but spiritual warfare was taking place as well as I and my family and friends from church hit the battle lines as prayer warriors for his young life.
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In the year before Justin’s accident we had come face to face with the reality that more than one of our hopes and dreams for his life might very well have been shattered by reckless choices and a mental illness that was growing in depth and reach in his life by the day. On October 4, 2004, my husband was readying himself for work and I was groggily wandering toward the bathroom when our home phone rang. My husband, much more alert than I, picked the phone up and checked the caller ID. I was deeply concerned as he read, “Wise County Sheriff?” He started to hand the phone to me, but I shook my head and muttered, “You answer it.” I was sure they were contacting us concerning my parents, after all my children were in bed upstairs. There was no way anyone was calling us about them.

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Scott took the call and I could hear the muffled mail voice on the line ask to speak to me. As I took the phone and listened to the dispatch officer’s voice my mind scrambled for clarity. Justin was out in an alley in town at 5:30 AM and I didn’t know about it? How could that have happened? The officer gave me the address and instructions and I hung up shaking and contemplating what to do next. I didn’t even know what to think or do… I just felt like quitting, or killing him – I really couldn’t decide.
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I turned to my husband and said, “We have to go get Justin, and you have to go with me because I might kill him and murder is illegal. The police are there.”
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We walked quietly to the car, my head still spinning from the relief of knowing he was okay and the anger of realizing he was out breaking the law and having to be picked up from the police. You see, I had been leading women’s ministry at my church for about a year and I was working hard to keep my family on the right track, but no matter how hard we tried – Justin always seemed to slip right off into the ditch. We did everything, counseling with the pastor, seeking mentors in the godly men of our church, sending him to every youth activity we could think of and praying over him, teaching him and guiding him. In that car that morning as the cold mist loomed ominous in the air I told God, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I mean, God what am I supposed to do – I don’t want to be his mother anymore.”
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God began to work on my heart all the way up that dark and lonely street until we saw the lights glowing in the alley behind his friend’s house. I saw my son standing in the dim glow from the headlights of the patrol car and tears wet my eyes. He was wearing a white, grunged up, t-shirt with three large wooden crosses emblazoned across the front, the word SALVATION written in large red letters underneath. As I shook my head in disbelief God gave me a picture of that child as an infant. The little baby boy I brought home from the hospital and then in a flash I saw my young son in a suit as a man teaching young people about Jesus. I couldn’t even think straight, I can still hear the words running through my mind, “You have to be his mother now because I gave him to you then and you have to help him become who I created him to be.”
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I released the door handle on the car and slid from my warm seat to the ground. I walked numbly up to the officer, Officer St. Claire of the Rhome Police Department, and never let my eyes leave my son once. I nodded as the officer spoke, but I don’t recall a word he said. All I could do was open my heart with love to my son and what he must have been going through. His large frame standing with his hands shoved in his oversized jean pockets, his baseball cap cocked to one side and his head hung low. I was frightened for and compassionate toward him all at the same time. We later learned that he was struggling to keep his mind under control, unable to sleep at night he was dabbling in alcohol and drugs and he cried that night as he came clean about the drugs he had tried and the problems he had been secretly working to handle on his own.
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We took him to the doctor that week and had him drug tested, the test came back negative to his credit. We also learned he was dealing with Bi-Polar disorder and he was placed on medication. He returned to school and things got better for a while. The entire church seemed to be praying for my child. When I confessed I didn't know what to pray anymore, my pastor’s wife gave me a Scripture, Philippians 1:6 and I began to pray it along with about ten other Scriptures over his life. I hoped that this would be the season of change in his life – and it was a season of change, none of it for the better.
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By early 2005, my son was in and out of trouble again at school. He was back running with the same crowd he had been with before though we tried to limit his exposure. We found it hard to keep up with his every move. One morning I sat in a meeting with his principal and the special education instructors as we determined he was going to be placed in a disciplinary alternative education setting. I looked at him with pure love as I wondered what was going on in his mind. His clothes were wrinkled, unwashed for days and the faint odor of sweat and urine mingled with his cologne seemed to be filling the room and my senses. He refused to bathe and the evidence was laced underneath his fingernails and in his grimy hair. At this point he sat beside me dejected trying to understand what was being proposed. He read through the paperwork, as a young adult he wanted to decide what was best for himself. He didn’t understand it and asked me questions, which I answered. He finally nodded his head and agreed. Signing his scrawl across the line marked “student.” I signed below his name and the decision was made. He was 17 years old and spending the remainder of his sophomore year of school in DAEP.
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The next few months would hold more bumps, potholes, pit falls and even some devastating explosions. By the spring the police were at our house regularly each week and my son was doing one reckless thing after another. In a fit of rage one afternoon he kicked a large dent into my car and hacked up our rose bush with a golf club. That was the last straw for my husband, he called 911 and we filed a complaint against him for criminal mischief. I watched with silent tears as they took my son away in handcuffs.
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I can remember taking his calls, and him begging me to bail him out… but I couldn’t. I prayed with him in those hours on the phone, I told him how much I loved him and how I hoped he was really seeking God from where he was in jail. When I wasn't speaking to him by phone, I wrote him letters. Heartfelt pleas for him to seek God to the uttermost. A cry from my mother's heart to God for redemption of my son.
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Justin had said he was reading a Bible the chaplain had given him and a Tim LaHaye book from the jail library. He pled out the charges 7 days after we had him arrested and we picked him up. He seemed different, he knew Proverbs 3:5-6 by memory and turned right to it as he told me God gave it to him in jail. This verse would come to be life to me as I lived out the days after his death trying to make sense of everything. All the while, I was asking God why He had not answered my prayers. Why everything in my son’s life seemed to be moving constantly from bad to worse… I told God I didn’t understand… and I still prayed Philippians 1:6: "Please God, complete the good work you began in him at salvation."
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By the end of May I was no longer asking God for answers, I was thanking Him for them by faith. I had attended a funeral for a young woman I had known as a teenager. She had been in a car accident. I remember leaving that funeral feeling I was going to lose my son and that God was preparing me for that journey. The one person I confided in told me we were going to refuse to accept that. Yet, the sense of loss settled all over me and never quite left the quiet recesses of my heart. As spring turned into summer my son began to own the consequences of his choices. Things settled down, he had another encounter with God and by August he seemed to realize he needed to get his GED, something we had encouraged him to do, and a good job to help him work through his probation and get on with his life.
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On August 15, 2005, we were waiting to hear about his job interview and drug test from the weekend and he was scheduled to begin GED classes that evening. But, none of that would come to pass – Justin instead was in a hospital by 2:00 PM and lay in that bed in a coma for 8 days before going home to be with the Lord.
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I at first prayed for a hallelujah miracle recovery that would set everyone to praising and whooping glory to the Lord. But by the end of the week I begged God to have mercy on my son, to make the decision clear and give me peace to accept whatever happened.
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I remember clearly one day a couple of months after the funeral when I had settled with the insurance companies. I was on my way to the bank to deposit the rather large check. Tears streamed down my face as I asked God how this could be the answer to my prayer requests for God to bless us. I can still hear those words rolling through my mind and my heart as I drove along that day, “I completed the good work I began in him the day he came home to heaven.”
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I don’t know if he says it or not, but I know what a difference it made to my son and his life when his momma prayed.
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END NOTE: It has been a while since I really recounted this story in writing. Last night I went to a wonderful class at church about learning to hear God's voice by meditating on the Word. I was telling a friend about my desire to give everyone in my life a "Birthday Blessing" this year. More than just the Birthday Verse you can pull off the internet, but a real blessing. I go through the entire Bible looking at every verse containing the month and day of a particular birthday until I settle on one, then I make a certificate with their first name and its meaning on the top, followed by their verse and a prayer or note of blessing and encouragement with the date. It is only a few weeks until Justin's Birthday, and each year our observation of this day has been so different - still we honor the day in some magnificent way!
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Last night, I could not sleep as I lay awake contemplating the day when suddenly a realization flashed before my eyes. Justin's life verse - the one he received in jail - the reference is Proverbs 3:5-6 (If you take the reference chapter 3 for the month of March, and add together the verse references 5+6= 11) it is the month and day of his birth - March 11, 1988. I could hardly believe it as the comfort in the moment washed over me anew. I will leave you with this verse: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight." (Not sure if this is a firm translation or my own paraphrase - I type it from memory these days.)

14 comments:

MiPa said...

Michelle,
Bless you for sharing your story of a mother's prayer. Tears are streaming down my face as I read not just the sadness but the hope and the peace that comes in your words. May God hold you today.

twinklemom said...

God is an amazing God and a loving God and He knows how to reach us in ways that we can listen to Him and understand what He wants to tell us and to share His love as..

That was a beautiful and touching story and you are a wonderful, Godly and strong mother!

God bless you for sharing an inspiring and provocative story! What a wonderful demonstration of a praying mother!! *HUGS*

lori said...

wow....I've got tears flowing too..what an amazing story of a momma's prayers, never ceasing, unconditionally holding and loving even in dark days. I can feel your peace and heartbreak, but your faith SHINES through in your words...you have prayed through this, and God is good, ALL the time....
wow!
THAT was beautiful and captivating...
thank you so much for sharing your heart!
lori

Robyn said...

Michelle: It is so easy to read someone's blog and forget about the pain and suffering that particular author has gone through to pen the words that are in a post. While I have always been a fan of your blog since discovering it recently (it's the Hebrew names study that I love most), I see your heart so much clearer now. My heart breaks for you but I so admire your attitude about it all. What an incredible woman of faith you are!

I am the mom of two young boys and this post certainly makes me want to hug them tighter today. It reminds me how easy it is for them to make bad choices in life even with a godly mother praying for them. But, you have inspired me to pray all the more for them.

I was so intrigued by this post and was kicking myself for not visiting since last IOW, I scrolled down and saw the post about your Bible study. I would love to help you. I am getting ready to write one in the week or so on encouragement. I would love to see how you have yours laid out and provide whatever input I can. My e-mail is robynadams75ATgmailDOTcom.

Needless to say, this post touched me!!

-Robyn

Susan said...

Dear Michelle,

Thanks so much for taking the time to share this amazing story with us.

I just can't begin to imagine the pain you have endured and how much you must still miss your son Justin.

I have 2 son's that are not serving God, and I pray and cry out for them daily.

I know God has heard all your prayers, and will continue to.

Oh, that was so AWESOME about the scripture and your son's birthday. I love when God speaks to us, what an answered prayer...

Keep pressing on, so nice to meet you!

Tonya said...

Michelle,
Proverbs 3:5 was/is our "life verse" too. The afternoon that Brent's pediatrician called to tell us that the MRI of his back revealed a tumor GOD HIMSELF gave this scripture to me. It is one that Brent and I learned that very year. (I homeschooled him - and our other two also)

When I asked the pediatrician if they suspected cancer, he confirmed that "in that place, it usually was." I was standing in my sister's kitchen when I got that phone call. I started pacing around crying out to God... "No, LORD, PLEASE NO!!" As panic started to wash over me, this very verse went through my mind. I wasn't TRYING to think of a scripture to calm myself... the HOLY SPIRIT spoke it to me. PEACE set in, along with disbelief and so many other emotions. We KNEW that GOD was in control and that no matter what happened... HE knew BEST!

We've encountered so many families who've lost their children since our son was diagnosed with cancer. Some turned to GOD, some turned away, some never knew HIM at all. I CANNOT imagine this walk your family (and mine) faces on a daily basis without HIM. I'm SO THANKFUL that you are using your greatest pain to bring glory to GOD.

It is TRULY a PLEASURE to meet you!

Love,
Tonya

Toknowhim said...

Wow, your story is powerful!!! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. Also, thank you for the wonderful suggestion of choosing life verses for your children. Blessings to you today!!1

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Thanks for sharing this difficult and yet touching story. I will share that my little sister has bipolar and has had similar struggles. We still are praying ardently for her deliverance. And though I hope she is not delivered through death, I trust God to do what is best.

Your faith through such a trial is a testimony to me. I can write flowery words about prayer and motherhood, but it means nothing if I have not lived them. You have lived them.

Heather said...

You are one amazing story of how God can work through anything and bring it for His glory!!! Thank you for sharing your story ...it truly blessed me to know that even when it seems to be the end, that with the Lord, it's only the beginning!

Patty Wysong said...

Michelle, I'm thanking God for the comfort He gave you when you saw Justin's verses like that. What an awesome God of details He is!

~ Mhay ~ said...

Dear Michelle,

I was deeply touched by your son's story. I was mummed. I can only say that God is really faithful in completing the work in our lives. Your son may have walked the wrong paths but still, he is with the Lord. You have been a good, prayerful mother to him.

Thank you for sharing the memories of your sin. May God bless you.

valerie said...

Michelle,
The more I get to know you the more I grow to love you. The story about Justin is amazing. I had chills when I read the Prov. 3:5-6 and then you shared that his birthday is March 11. God is so good, isn't He?
Justin is living with Jesus in peace now. Bless his heart and bless your heart. I am confident Justin knew you loved and prayed for him and wanted good for him.
I am just so thankful that this isn't all there is....."When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!"
Thanks for sharing your amazing story.
Love you,
Valerie

Lana G! said...

Wow! Just WOW!

God Bless You!

twinkle said...

I know the tragedy you have lived...with a hope that endures through all the tears.
I know the lonely nights you have dealt with all the "what ifs" and the answer was simply "press on."
Girl, the refinement was costly but His Glory is revealed through your testimony of His Grace.
Keep smiling. It brings hope to so many who need His Hope.