I Left My Heart in Arkansas

I’ve just returned from a gut-wrenching, teeth-clenching weekend at my parents’ home. After having spoken with my daughters, who informed me that they would not be coming home with me, I almost decided not to make the trip. It’s no fun having your heart ripped out, but I couldn’t not go. I woke my husband around 3 am and told him I had to go. We took turns driving and napping, and I prayed every waking moment. We arrived 11 hours later and stopped by the ex’s house to pick them up and take them to Grandma’s.

Sarah packed a bag, and Lindsey locked herself in her room. I called their dad to tell him that we were taking Sarah to my mom’s and that he could bring Lindsey by later. He agreed, and we discussed their rebellious behavior and possible remedies. They’re the same way with him. I explained to him that the main problem is that we have allowed them to make decisions that weren’t theirs to make. We are the parents, and we have to work together to do what’s best for them, regardless of what they think they want. We are to meet their needs, not their demands. He agreed with that also, but he disagreed that the remedy is to make the decision for them. They shouldn’t be made to live where they don’t want to live.

I told him that I had warned them that if they continued to disobey me, then I would come get them and they would have to stay with me until they learned to behave respectably and respectfully. I’m tired of having my children tell me they don’t have to do what I say because their dad says otherwise. He denied saying otherwise, but he refuses to see that in taking their side against me the message is LOUD and CLEAR. He agreed to let them come stay with me for two weeks, on the condition that I would not try make them stay against their will. I told him that if they chose to be disrespectful to me and my house, the consequence would be that they would remain until they chose to behave properly. The choice is theirs. Apparently, that sounded reasonable enough to him, so he said he would talk to Lindsey and call me back. I assumed that he was going to tell her that we had come to an agreement and that she would not be getting away with disobeying and disrespecting my authority.

Instead, he had her call me to work out a compromise. Can it be for one week? No. We agreed to two. Can we leave in the morning, instead of tonight? No. We have to get back for church. Can she bring a friend? Absolutely not, this is a family matter, and we don’t have room. Family? What family? Carl isn’t family, her dad agrees with her. I asked to speak with her dad. This time, he’s pleading her case. She’s in tears. She’s afraid I’ll make her stay. I’m sorry, but I seriously don’t believe for one minute that she’s afraid of me. She’s afraid of having to do what she’s told. She’s crying to get her way. He then asked to speak to Sarah.

Before we got ready to go, I told Sarah to call Lindsey and tell her to get packed. She said Lindsey wasn’t there and that her dad wouldn’t say where she went. I called and asked him where she was. He had let her go somewhere with a friend. Grrrr! Then Sarah said she wasn’t going without Lindsey. Now what? Separate them? I hadn’t planned on it, but maybe it would be best. I wrestled with that for a while, then decided against it. When got in the car to leave, I broke down. I could not leave her behind. I went back inside and told her to get her things. She needs to spend some time with her mother. She started to cry. When we got to the car, she refused to get in without calling her dad first. I told her that I would call him. I made her get in the car, and she got out and took off behind the house. I tried again and again. The third time she ran, I let her go.

I now understand the peace that came over me last Monday. There is nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands.



Filed under Faith, Family, Prayer

23 responses to “I Left My Heart in Arkansas

  1. Texas Gal

    Oh Brenda, I know the hardest thing you had to do was let go. I won’t try to say anything that will remedy the matter. But know you have many people who care about you and are here for you.

  2. Diane

    Oh, darlin’, I’m so sorry you are hurting. It’s so hard to see your kids making mistakes when you know they’ll have to live with the consequences, and so will you. I wish there was more I could do, but I will continue praying for you and for your kids. God bless you, my friend.

  3. Barb

    Brenda, there are no words. xoxoxo

  4. Paulette

    I have been praying for you all week end. It is devastating and I am so sorry Brenda. I cannot even imagine what that would be like.
    I wish your there dad could at least be reasonable and bring them so everyone could sit down and address the girls.
    I know when I met last week with my lawyer and he found out Caleb was 16 he said he has the choice at 15 to be with the parent they choose and the Judge will leave it up to him. I dont know how old your girls are though.
    I am hoping they realize they would rather be with you. I am praying!!! I I will pray there dad would be fair.

  5. Dawn

    Oh, man! What a mess. I know my husband and I made mistakes with our kids, and we were together and “on the same pagg.” It’s must be so much harder when you’re not. I’ve been praying and will continue to do so. I was hoping for better news!

  6. Grafted Branch

    As I was vacuuming my kids’ room Saturday afternoon, the Lord brought you to mind; know that you were being prayed for and that you have done all you can. He can handle the rest. Be patient.

    I’m so sorry it didn’t work out as you hoped. I’ll keep praying.

  7. Belle-ah

    (((hugs)))) I am can’t imagine what you must be feeling but I wish there were some words that I could say to make all better. Keep that prayer line open…God loves them even more than you do.

  8. Praying for your Prodigal

    Brenda, my dear blogging friend,

    My mother’s heart is breaking for you. You handled this as appropriately as you could have. Please know, I am joining the blogging ranks who are praying for you and your daughters.

    Are you a reader? Have you read “Boundaries” (by Cloud and Townsend)….Boundaries with Kids is their newer book. These books may have some value for you…as you continue to pray and try and try again with your girls. I respect your willingness to be their mom…even when they resist your care.
    Here a couple other recommendations from my February 20th list of books that are great resources (and strength) for parents in the middle of a struggle.

    Get Out of My Life, but First Could You
    Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall?
    Anthony E. Wolf

    Parents in Pain
    John White

    The Hurting Parent
    Margie M. Lewis with Gregg Lewis

    God Bless you! I’m praying for you!


  9. Laurel Wreath

    Hugs. You are in my prayers. I am so sorry for this struggle you are going through. God is in the middle, sometimes it is hard to see it.


  10. Clemntine

    Oh, Brenda. Your story brought back so many memories. My sister and I did the “back and forth” thing between Alabama and Oklahoma. I don’t have any idea how hard it is to be the mama, but I remember how it felt to be the kid.

    Bless you all.

  11. Robin

    My kids are so little I can’t even imagine. I am so sorry and will be praying for you and them.

  12. Carrie

    I am so, so sorry…I can’t even imagine…I am praying for you.

  13. BooMama

    ALL of you will be in my prayers.

    I am so sorry – for you and for your girls. It just breaks my heart.

  14. Heather

    Our prayers are with you. I know you’ve heard it and that it only occasionally helps, but the Lord has promised to use this for good, and His promises are the only we can depend on. He is in control. Each of your girls and their father are also being molded by Him and each has to do it in their own way. I often have to remember that my kids are little sinners too and that I can only respond as Christ would have me then put them in His hands to mold.

    My heart goes out to you all.

  15. Melanie

    I am so sorry you are going through this. God is with you. Hang in there. I know it is hard. No advice from us make it easier. Just know that we, your Christian sisters, care about you ahd your family. In Christ-

  16. Blessed Beyond Measure

    Brenda, I grew up in a family where there was family turmoil. The heartache of it all is awful. I can only imagine how much you hurt right now. Praying for you. xoxoox

  17. Dawn

    I hope you’re doing okay today!

  18. Kelli

    Hugs Brenda. Hugs and prayers.

  19. kim

    Brenda, Thanks for coming by my house. I have another room up so come on back. I think the Lord sent you over so I could pray for you and your girls truthfully.

    I have two older boys who have been night and day to raise and neither of them easy (are any kids easy? I just think we think we are more capable when they are under 10 years old! hehe) Anyway, our oldest was always pushing some direction that took energy and answers I didn’t have, oh and the never ending disgrace I felt he brought on our family (most of it imagined btw) but we made it through, not perfectly but out the other side (he’s happily married today and we have a great DIL and grandson who’ve I turned his “management” over to!).

    Your girls know you love them, I can just tell. They act out for so many different reasons you might have to be a shrink to figure it out but just keep turning it over to the Lord. I used to pray all the time “Lord, whatever it takes, use that to bring this kiddo back around” but I found I didn’t really mean it until one nigh twhen he had run away, again. That nigth I broke and when I prayed those words I realized I did mean “whatever” it took. Scary prayer but so refreshing to let go, and let God. You keep dumping it all back at Jesus feet and He will see you through. And that’s what your girls will see you doing too. AS to the day in/day out practical answers, I am absolutely no help at all and parenting at its best has no hard and fast answers so just do your best and let God handle the rest. So cliche but so true. Praying. . .

    Look forward to coming back and reading more of your site!

  20. Paulette

    Hello Brenda, I came by after a long day in court to say hello and I am praying for you.
    While I am not dealing with the same struggle you are I am seeing the court aspect of what families deal with in the kid’s cases. It is so difficult for both parent and child.
    My prayer as well is as Heather stated, letting God mold you and your daughters together as well as and then God will ultimately place them where they will be. I am so glad you have your faith. Please udate so we hear from you and know how you are. The silence is hard.

  21. Kristen

    I can’t even imagine how heart breaking this must be for you. I have a step son so I understand somewhat the pain that split families can cause.

    I think you are doing the right thing by insisting that they do what they are told and obey and not get their own way, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

    I’m hoping that they will realize they miss you and need you and will call you to come back home soon.

    I’m so sorry! 😦

  22. Judith

    Brenda, I hope I’m not being out of line here. Much is going on, especially ex-husband snipping at you, and using the children to get back at you, but also the children, because they are children, wanting what they want, when they want it.

    The best advice I can offer is read the book called “Boundaries”.

    The children are using your needing to be with them to get whatever they happen to want at the moment.

    If you hope to change this emotioal roller coaster situation, you must set some limits, like in the book, some boundaries, and respect and regard for your feelings is the absolute minimum.

    You need to place the ball in their court; no respect, no consideration, no visit with Mom. That will completely disarm them, and eventually they will realize you’ve always been the best thing ever in their lives.

  23. theresa

    B, I kinda grew up this way going back and forth on weekends with Dad. My parents didn’t even speak – everything was communicated via us (the kids). I only pray that your girls will eventually see the light and realize you’re only try to love and care for them. You will be in my prayers! ((LOTS OF HUGS))

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