Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Toughest Love

It has been an emotional four months for our family as we have learned to adjust to life without Spencer in our home. There is a glaring emptiness that is present at all times reminding us that we are not complete. As a mom, I am happiest when all my kids are safely at home. This is not possible right now.

The toughest thing we have ever done as parents is follow through and send our child to a military style Teen Challenge. We made the choice out of love but it has broken my heart as a mom and forever changed me.

We are working very hard to strengthen our family relationships and not let the sadness outweigh the joy.

This past weekend my husband and I traveled to Florida and took 2 days to ourselves to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. The main purpose of our trip though was to attend parent Visit Weekend at Teen Challenge.

The first time I laid eyes on my son, he was marching onto the football field in his military uniform. It was obvious to me that he was had lost weight. He looked regal in his uniform. The boys marched in impressive formations, looking both well disciplined and hot in the Florida sun.

After what seemed like an eternity, they called the four boys for whom this was their first parent visit to come forward. We were instructed that if this was our child to go ahead and greet him. I couldn't get to him fast enough. My husband had told me he would let me hug him first. That was much appreciated! We all embraced and cried and embraced some more. It was the moment I had been waiting for for many months.

What I noticed about him first was the 40 pound weight loss, the smile on his face and the peace in his countenance. We had the better part of 3 days with him. Right away he brought out his Bible and began turning to scripture, saying "This is my favorite verse and I love what it says right here" as he moved through his Bible with the ease of someone well acquainted with it. I can only say that I was so proud!
Spencer and Kevin

One of my favorite moments from the weekend were watching my husband and son lifting weights, playing basketball and generally goofing around! They played around like a I remember from when Spencer was a little boy!

There were honest and painful moments as well. The kind that hurt at the moment but are healing in the long-run. We were emotionally exhausted when the weekend was over.

The atmosphere at West Florida Teen Challenge was that of discipline and structure. The students know exactly what is expected of them and what the consequences are if they don't follow the rules. It made me yearn for more of that discipline in my own life.

He is 4 months into a 15 month stay and I have to say I was tempted to bring him home because of the huge change in him already. I know God is still working in him and through him. Our whole family is being changed as a result of this decision. I will trade 15 months without my child for a lifetime of freedom for my child!

I have so much hope for his future! I am bursting with pride at how hard I can see Spencer working. One comment he made was about how nice it is for him to be able to laugh out of pure joy and not as a result of a substance.

His story is far from over. Please pray for Spencer that he would continue to grow in his relationship with God and for his overall recovery.


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Anonymous said...

I found your blog through InCourage and am so glad! I am glad that your son is in the Teen Challenge program. The church I used to attend sent my first husband there to try to help him. He was using crack and having affairs with men for money. All of this came out after he had been leading the men's Wednesday Bible study at our church :/ Anyway, he chose not to stay. He left after a month, came home, took all of our money and left. I filed for divorce that next week. Teen Challenge is an amazing program. I have a friend whose daughter just graduated from the program and is doing great :) Praying for you and your family.

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