Yesterday ranks right up there within the top 10 days of my life. The day may have been rainy and dreary but the sun was shining down on our family. Our daughter Ashley who has been through so much the last 5 years, moved back to our home town. What started out 5 years ago with excitement of sending our oldest off to college, took a dramatic turn by Christmas of that year. Due to the influence of the wrong people, drugs and alcohol and the work of a very dark force in her life, she was driven away from her family and friends and ran away from our home. Over the course of the past 5 years our family was broken, ripped apart and I truly believed in the beginning of it all that we would never recover. But God did a miraculous thing one day in April of 2006. While I was attending a women's retreat at a church camp, I took a walk down to the lake and told God I was ready to listen to him. I have always prayed, but I have a tendency to be the one doing all the talking and not giving God a chance to get a word in. But that day I opened up my heart and soul to hear him. And he spoke to me. He told me that my daughter would be okay. He told me to trust in him and to be patient. And one funny thing he told me was to write. To write and write and write and that people would read it and hear it. I've written a little. Devotions and sermons, but never knew exactly what God meant. I do today. You see it is all coming very clear to me. When God spoke to me I truly believed that everything would be okay within a few days, maybe even a few weeks or a couple of months. I thought I was supposed to start writing right away, but each time I tried I went blank. I didn't know what to write. You see, I wasn't healed yet. My family wasn't healed and my daughter was far from being healed. But today we are healed.
2 1/2 years after she ran away, and after numerous attempts to have her come back home, God spoke to me again. He told me I needed to let the past go and to reach out to her and tell her and show her that I loved her. I kept waiting for her to come to me, but I needed to go to her. She wasn't strong enough to do it, so I needed to. It was the best advice I have ever gotten. Boy is God wise! That was the first day of the start of the healing process in our family. Over the last 2 1/2 years we have steadily worked to gain back the trust and love of one another. And yesterday it all came together.
She is ready to start a new journey in her life. She has been drug free for over 2 years. She is staying with her grandparents and is surrounded by love and support from her family. She is scared but filled with the excitement of where this journey will take her. Finding a job and saving up money to go back to school is a goal that I know she will achieve. I have told her many times that only by the grace of God did she survive the last 5 years and that God has a plan for her and that she just needs to listen and ask God to guide and direct her. She is a beautiful young woman with a heart and soul filled with love. I am so proud of her! She has been through so much and is stronger and wiser.
God has given our family the strength and endurance to fight the fight. We have persevered through the darkest of days. We have looked evil in the face and won the battle. We didn't back down. Our prayers never stopped. We grew with the knowledge that God would protect us and provide for us and he did.
I lift up my praise and thanksgiving to my God. He is the almighty, wonderful, majestic, healer, comforter, protector of our lives.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" - Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
"But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations"- Psalm 33:11 (NIV)