Finding, Loving, Trusting

One week ago our son disappeared in the city of St. Louis.

He was on his way to a friend’s house and didn’t arrive.

Fear filled my heart and mind. Where could he be in such a big city? Where could he be in such a big world? Would we find him, and if we did, what would we find?

I prayed, breathed, answered calls and texts – all the while trying to think clearly enough to pack and stay calm enough to say goodbye to my younger kids without alerting them to the crisis.

Monday morning at 3:15 I woke to my alarm and checked my phone. No words of assurance and relief were found. An hour later I was at the airport.

As we started down the runway I put my phone in airplane mode, praying that when I landed in Seattle there would be a text saying he was found.

We landed and I quickly turned off airplane mode. Nothing.

On my second flight, I put my phone in airplane mode telling myself there would be news when I landed. I avoided talking to anyone in order to keep from crying.

We landed – still nothing. In that huge Dallas airport, I began to cry. I had no plan except to arrive and be picked up by kind, generous, new-to-me friends who opened their home.

Isaiah has given his heart and energy to the Ferguson Resistance and the racial liberation movement, and I came to learn that they are family to one another. Family enough to let him live with them, family enough to take me in, family enough to drive me all over St. Louis.

When I landed for the final time, he had been missing more than 24 hours. A friend in the Movement asked my permission to create a missing persons “poster” for Facebook and I agreed. When I clicked “post” and shared it,  I knew I was opening my heart and our family to the world. This story was no longer unfolding in privacy but on Facebook where many of you saw it.

The post was shared thousands of times and met with words of love and concern.

The next morning we got a call telling us he was found and in the hospital. Gratitude and relief flooded me. When I saw him, I hugged him tight, kissed his cheeks, and cried.

One week later, I’m still in STL with Isaiah.

I can only share my story, not Isaiah’s, so I won’t go into detail now, but he is doing much better and I’m holding on to hope.

Fear is quite possibly the greatest enemy of parenting. Looking too far into the future only makes my mind a swirling mess.

Being the mother of young adults is a delicate balancing act. We love them fiercely yet have to hold them with open hands.

I pray the Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” I ask God to help me walk in faith, to show me a clear path, to be ruled by his peace and not my fear.

This I know – there is no fear in love, perfect love (God’s love), casts out fear – fear of condemnation, fear of the future, fear of doing it all wrong, fear of being exposed to scrutiny, fear of falling too far into a lonely place.

Shame wants me to be silent.  Wanting to present ourselves as a family that has it all together – or maybe a little bit together is so tempting. But moments ago I read my own words, When Shame Holds Us Back, and I cried because although I wrote them, they spoke truth to me.

Sometimes I really hate that.

My words:

When we suffer, our compassion grows. Our ability to step into someone else’s story and feel their sorrow, regret, anger, fear, becomes possible because we know what it is to feel sorrow, regret, anger and fear.

And –

My family is not perfect. We are messy and broken, but we press on loving each other fiercely.

And –

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect parents. He only asks that we do our best to love him with all our heart, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor (our children) as ourselves. That is a big enough task for all of us.

I will take today one moment at a time, not being able to plan or control, asking God for wisdom and peace. I yearn to be home and hope it won’t be long before I can be in Russ’ arms and hug my youngest kids close.

My hopes and plans may also be God’s hopes and plans – and if not, I will still trust him for Isaiah’s future and for our family.

With courage and hope for the journey – and much love,

Lisa

 



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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

20 Comments

  1. Cindy
    December 4, 2017

    Thank you. Thank you for be authentic. Thank you for being transparent. Thank you for the words of encouragement and the words of courage. Thank you for being our friend. Thank you for your faithfulness to God and the beautiful family he’s given you. Thank you for telling your story. It changes me. Love, Cindy

    Reply
  2. Jeri Riddick
    December 4, 2017

    I wonder for you. I’ve been scared for you. I’ve cried for you. I’ve prayed for you. You being you and your family. You being my own child that has chosen to walk away from our family and into what seems a godless life. You being other parents that see their hearts walk around outside of our bodies. I pray for your heart and mind, Lisa. I can’t help but I can do the things I know to do. I wish I could hug your neck. Love from another mom in the trenches.

    Reply
  3. Siri Whitmore
    December 4, 2017

    Dear Lisa, your words hold truth and wisdom that many of us can relate to. They also offer us strength, hope and courage. While it’s easy to say that our God is faithful, it’s ,oh, so much harder, to walk out. We will continue to pray for Isaiah, and your family. One day, I am sure, you and Isaiah will have a glorious testimony of how God came through.

    Reply
    1. Leslie
      December 4, 2017

      Thank you for posting. Those of us with real imperfect families are grateful. We have been praying and will continue to pray. So glad you are there! Mom on!!

      Reply
  4. Nikki Smith
    December 4, 2017

    Love you Lisa and praying for you all. Your words shame holds us back struck a chord. My house is a mess and in need of repair my husband is sick with cancer and cannot handle anything beyond work. So God this week is humbling me to let go of worry about what others think , the shame of the mess I live in and allow them into my messy world. Praying God’s healing in Isaiah and peace in your heart to be overflowing. God Bless, Nikki

    Reply
  5. Michelle
    December 4, 2017

    The full serenity prayer has been huge in this journey. “Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.”

    Yours words are a gift to me but hate that you have the words because it means you experience a deep level of hardship. I have cried out so many times in the last few years “Lord let me experience your restoration & healing on this earth, please let me tangibly see redemption win”. Through that cry He has taught me so much about Him and learning to just sit at His feet trusting He will make all things right. HARD in all things but especially when it comes to our children and spouse.

    I am so thankful you shared. It allowed us to be in prayer for Isaiah and you. (((hugs)))

    Reply
  6. Chantelle
    December 4, 2017

    ((((hug))))

    Reply
  7. Pam Zicker
    December 4, 2017

    These words are a balm for my soul, and I agree wholeheartedly with the truths you re restating to yourself. Walking a similar journey and learning to let go of that desire to be esteemed or seen as above certain things as well as the tendency to give into parenting out of fear rather than love. May God bless you and your family.

    Reply
  8. Sharon
    December 4, 2017

    We join you in prayer and we hold your family up to Our Father in Heaven. In your vulnerability, you bring God glory and you remind me to be more vulnerable, more honest, and more compassionate. I am grateful for that, even when the circumstances are so hard.

    Much love and prayer from Virginia and across the internet.

    ((Hugs))

    Reply
  9. Tisha
    December 4, 2017

    Hard, beautiful words. There may be scrutiny, but because you have shared your heart and life so tenderly throughout the years, there is far more love and resonance. You are a comfort to many and your words ring in our ears. Thank you. ❤️

    Reply
  10. Corrie
    December 4, 2017

    My heart goes out to you. ((hugs))

    Reply
  11. AmyE
    December 4, 2017

    Have thought of you, Isaiah and your family so much over this past week. Have cried for you. Have prayed for you many times. Will continue to and am, as always, thankful for your wise, grace giving words. Thanks for letting us have a glimpse of how you are. Prayers continuing.

    Reply
  12. Angie
    December 4, 2017

    Oh Lisa, my heart & prayers have been & will continue to be with you and your family. Hold on my friend and one step at a time. A huge thanks for being so real and transparent with us.

    Reply
  13. Ron
    December 4, 2017

    I am so thankful you found him, and he is recovering. I have so much respect for Isaiahs love and fierce compassion for others. His willingness to put conviction into action is truly inspiring to me. You know we love you all, and thank you for sharing so honestly. We still consider you our “mentor family” who taught us so much when we were trying to figure out how to be parents! Prayer and love from Britton 5!

    Reply
  14. Ann
    December 5, 2017

    Lisa I prayed so hard for you even waking up in the night praying that Isaiah would be found. And I found it so brave that you opened up to the world and it shows your belief in the power of prayer because without all those thousands of people praying perhaps things would’ve turned out differently. Because if we believe that prayers can have an effect then we have to believe in the power prayer. I will continue to pray for you and Isaiah and thank you for being real. It makes it easier for me to reach out when I’m in your shoes.

    Reply
  15. Jennifer
    December 5, 2017

    My heart, blessings and prayers are with you and your family Lisa. Please tell Isaiah that his big heart is needed in this world — sending healing wishes and strength to St. Louis.

    Reply
    1. DFNY
      December 5, 2017

      Dear Lisa, I am so very thankful to know that Isaiah has been found safe. My heart goes out to all of you and I will continue to hold you in my prayers.
      Blessings,
      Damaris

      Reply
  16. Angel Finsrud
    December 5, 2017

    “I still believe in your faithfulness. I still believe in your truth. I still believe in your Holy word. Even when I don’t see, I still believe.” –
    Jeremy Camp. Praying you can cling to the truth of who God is, even when it is so hard to see him. Praying you will feel God’s compassion and love deeply, in the midst of heart-wrenching fear, grief, confusion, and hurt. Praying for you and your family.

    Reply
  17. lisa harding
    December 6, 2017

    Oh Lisa, I’m SO grateful that he’s been found and given back to you! And I’m grateful for your unusual blend of your own transparency + the protection of your son’s story. I don’t know your details – all I know is that God is faithful. Praying that will be enough as you guys continue with this event.

    Reply
  18. Susan
    December 6, 2017

    I love you and your family Lisa even though we have never met. Your words have comforted and uplifted my soul in the past several years in times of my own secret distress and I have wept and prayed for you and your beautiful family and will continue to do so. Thank you for being a light in my life.

    Reply

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