I’ve been told often that the story of raising the kids John and I have is brave. I’ve never considered it brave.
It all began out of curiosity—Holy Spirit curiosity. I was curious as to why a group of rotten disruptive students at the middle school I was subbing at would hang around with me after class for as long as possible (even after I gave them discipline referrals) and ask me to eat lunch with them. This progressed to them stealing my car keys so I would hang with them after school and on many long summer afternoons. Why would they want to hang with a substitute teacher? That would make you curious too, right?
I never guessed that they would all become Christians on one special weekend. That was not my expectation of that plan. I never guessed I would grow to love them so. It was an easy yes when I heard God ask me to raise these kids. I’m honored that their real parents have allowed me to. For us to have these kids as our own seems as it always should be.
And then there are the grandchildren. They truly are a blessing from God in ways words cannot express. Grandchildren are the best creation from God.
The story of the raising of our kids is one of love, not bravery. It just is. Despite the incarcerations and the other not-to-be-named heartbreaks. Despite the loss of one to gun violence.
Yet as I begin this new project of Bravester, I start it from a very vulnerable position that will require bravery from me for a long time.
One son is in the early process of his umpteenth arrest and current incarceration. We’ve actually lost count. Our boy has had every opportunity to not have this for his future. Yet here we are again. And it always spirals worse. The worst of it began on July 22. Then he was “fugitive of the week” and featured all over the news. This time I received that phone call, “Brenda, I saw him on the news…” For 20 days I went back-and-forth with thoughts that he was dead. This had to be why they couldn’t find him. No one—no mom—wants to come to terms with that thought yet I was. Only to find out that he was hiding and committing crimes in the neighborhood the entire time. Now I’m processing that his future is a long prison sentence and all of our hopes and dreams for him are gone.
This dark criminal is our boy who rode a horse named Strawberry for the first time just a couple of years ago. How did this good boy get us to here? This is going to be a vulnerable journey with pain I cannot bear right now.
Bravester was in the works before July 22, 2015. Now as it launches, I am here. Figuring out this great pain. Seeing how this is going to require vulnerability which leads to bravery.
My story is more than just this one son. He just represents this brave juncture as I am starting this new project. Joy—true joy—is just as much a part of bravery. Without vulnerability you really can’t have such joy. My son has certainly given me joy.
May we join—and you join–those other brave seekers who have gone before us. Be brave.