Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Preparing for Prison

Stand Firm.
Let nothing move you. 
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord 
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

[I Corinthians 15:58]

This week, I committed to spending concentrated time in prayer and reading my Bible. On Friday, I will be visiting Sweet Mama in prison for the first time. The closest I've ever been to prison is a juvenile detention center that I used to visit to lead a young women's bible study. I don't expect this visit to be anything like that.

Given her security level, we will be able to speak face to face, but the list of visiting rules is long. I got the shakes reading them because...well... I am a rule follower and will certainly forget that hand touching isn't allowed when tears are trailing her cheeks.

Recently, I gave Sweet Mama my phone number and accepted her call for the first time a few days ago. I happened to be putting Edie to bed, so I switched the phone to speaker when we picked up. As soon as I said, "hello", I could hear the longing in her voice. She is desperate for friendship and desires so much more than I can give. Edie assumed it was Ben on the other side and, immediately, started chatting about her favorite jammies and snuggling her bunny.

I heard the awe before she broke to tears, "Is that...?"

"Yes! We're both, here. I was just putting Edie to bed." I tried to keep it light, "Isn't she a little chatter box?"

Sweet Mama only muffled sniffs. I let Edie talk and listened to Mama cry.

Before our time ran out, I told her that I would be visiting on Friday. The phone went dead before we could say goodbye.

The weight in my heart is not loaded by guilt or charity, but rather genuine compassion. The only difference between the two of us are the families we were born to. Without radical intervention, she doesn't have a fighting chance for a better life. Her world is too narrow and bound by love for a man that has brought her to ruin. 

I fill pages with Truth and encourage her to think big, yet her only dream is to "get out" and find him.

My commitment to prayer, this week, is in effort to squash the natural negatives that flow through my heart and to remember that love always hopes. Every time. In every situation.

Most of my nerves stem from the questions I know are coming. For weeks, Mama has been telling me that she has a few important "things" to discuss with me, but that she must do it in person.

I trust that God will give me the answers when needed, but Ben and I have been discussing one question at length. I am certain she will ask if she can see her kids, again. In prison or otherwise.

I am concerned for her heart after I share mine. Although my kindness may point to wide-open rainbows and ever-after castles of friendship, I am also a protective mama. And happen to be raising traumatized babies. Genuinely, my hope is that one day she and Cisco will both be in healthy, secure places, where a meaningful relationship can really blossom. But we're not there, today. 

After two years, we have finally tipped the scale in the slightest margin and are starting to see real victories with Cisco. Every week, I see new slivers of trust that allow him to inch his toes across the attachment line. I DREAM of the day, he jumps that divider and runs full force into our love. 

Mingling his fragile heart and Sweet Mama's irregular stability is a disaster that we're not willing to risk. And I know that will break her heart. 

I have also discerned an important perception through her last several letters. Sweet Mama questions God for the atrocities she's faced and hates that drugs ravaged her life. But sadly, her reflections are self-focused. She doesn't make the connection that drugs didn't just alter HER life, but nearly broke three little spirits, too. 

My prayer is that I will be able to share difficult truth with her, even though it will be painful to deliver and hear. If she doesn't make the connection between her choices and her kids' sacrifices, she might not ever break the cycle.

Friends, pray for me. 

I am desperate for wisdom as the light and darkness of our worlds are about to collide.


  1. It is so important that the needs of the kids trump everything right now, that is the position you have been put in. There is no one else that will put them first. Her needs are so important and need to be filled as well, but they will never be filled until SHE says yes to God. There is nothing you can give her, no visit with her kids, nothing, that is going to help her until she takes that first step. I know she will act broken hearted, but her reasons right now are selfish and you have to protect the kids until she can take a step in the opposite direction.

  2. You are doing a hard and beautiful thing in reaching out to her. I am confident God will give you wisdom as you step out in faith.

  3. Oh my. The weight of your burden is heavy on my heart. You will all be in my prayers. You can absolutely be used by God here, but she must also be open to the prodding of the Holy Spirit. May it be so.

  4. Peace and strength to you as you navigate this visit and the questions that I'm sure God will guide you to answer ever so eloquently as you have in the past. I totally agree with writing letters and pictures while in prison, but visits with children to prison in my opinion is out of the question. Children are so innocent and they don't need to be exposed to that environment. THIS right here " If she doesn't make the connection between her choices and her kids' sacrifices, she might not ever break the cycle". Prayers for Peace and strength to you!

  5. Rebekah-- Long time reader, but I have not posted before. So many of your posts have moved me even though we travel similar yet different paths.

    I have to say that based on everything I have read, you will find the right words when needed. The Grace of your friendship is more than Mama can grasp, hopefully the thoughtful things you say will help propel her along. Eventually, she will have to face reality and it does not sound like she is quite there.

    Good luck, and thank you for sharing your journey and words. I am sure they have inspired so many, and of course me.

  6. I will be praying for you. I dont have have one specific verse to share with you but going though my mind are the many times in Isaiah the Lord reminds His people that He is the Lord God and will go before them and be with them. Fear not!

  7. Love reading about your family! Will be praying for you as you make this visit! Karyn

  8. Wow, you ALL are in my prayers.

  9. I'm a mama of 5 little boys and am in bed this week due to surgery. I know who to spend extra time praying for now. Christ keep you.

    1. Thank you for praying!!! I hope you make a swift recovery. Mamas can't afford to be down!

  10. I've followed your family's story on and off since LJ joined you. Over and over again I am encouraged and convicted by your sincere love for your children and their birth mothers. I will definitely be praying for you, asking God to give you wisdom as you meet with Sweet Mama.

  11. Beautiful. Praying for you both.

  12. I was right where you are not so long ago. One year ago this week I visited my Bug's birth mother in prison for the first time as well. She, too, struggled from a life filled with dysfunction and chaos, but in the past year since our first meeting she has made so much progress. While she still struggles every day since her release, she is doing the best she knows how to live the life she deserves. She has told me many times that she is beginning to truly believe in God's love for her through the relationship that she and I have developed. It's not always easy, but it is absolutely worth it. I will keep you in my prayers as you navigate this road.

    1. Tammy, this gives me such hope! God bless you in your journey. It is wonderful to know that there are other strong, courageous women standing with me and walking this same rocky road!

  13. I will be praying for you Rebekah. You truly amaze me. I wish I could have the amount hope, love, grace, forgiveness, compassion, patience, strength, perseverance and so many other qualities that you hold. I have no doubt that you will be able to say exactly what you need to say, and that you will do it well. I will still be praying for you

  14. One of the things I like about your writing is that you do put it all out there. I would be nervous about you inviting Sweet Mama into your life if you didn't also post that protecting your children is so vital. And that you anticipate sharing some difficult truths with her.

    When I talk about protecting your children, I know that Sweet Mama doesn't intend to hurt them. I know that addiction has wreaked havoc on her lives and those of her children. I know that she is a product of her environment and as you wrote, she doesn't see the connection between her disease and how it has impacted her children.

    I will pray for both of your hearts. And for Cisco's tender soul.

  15. I live in the inner city. I see this, a lot. I know people who want life to "be different" from what they've known. But to see the big picture, to make steps to change - it doesn't always happen. People tend to stay stuck, stay dependent on the system. Every now and then I see someone who defies the odds and breaks free. My prayer is that her eyes are opened and she can begin to build a new life, free from the bondages she has put herself in.

  16. I adopted all of our children at birth, but for some reason my oldest,my son, always seemed a little distant. He would rarely show affection and wouldn't say "I love you" back to me. I started studying in the word about Justice and decided to start praying for it. I prayed really faithfully that night to give him justice from the enemy, to break him free of every chain and to speak victory to him thru Christ. The next day I saw change in him! He even hugged his great grandma, who he'd never hugged before.
    These children are so special. God is good. My son's birth mother is just starting to turn her life around. He will be eight this year. Loving her unconditionally is the best decision I ever made.

  17. This is wonderful. God bless your heart! I know this must be hard for you, but with prayer and faith all things are possible. If God brings you to it he will bring you through it. I know you are a strong woman and things will get better. I hope you have a nice visit with Sweet Mama.

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds