TWLOHA 10 Years – Thank you from Renee’s Mom

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TWLOHA office scene for movie

To Write Love on Her Arms started 10 years ago today – six days after the rescue. Out of the dark of hopelessness love turned on the lights –  in my daughter ‘s life and in mine. Renee was living on the streets, crashing anywhere someone would offer a spot. Abusing drugs and alcohol, suffering with mental health issues and a chronic cutter, she was frequently suicidal. Numerous attempts and episodes of slashing at her arms landed her repeatedly in psych wards. Rehab had been attempted once already and failed. Full of self-hatred Renee gave up on herself. I almost gave up, too.

BUT Love never gave up. Love wouldn’t let her go. Love kept on reaching . . .

Easter’s 7 Messages to Parents in Pain


There’s always hope for everyone.

Sometimes the things we go through with our children bring us to a place of so much pain, it feels as though they died. Drugs, alcohol, mental illness, self-injury, eating disorders, sexual issues, pornography, gambling, prison sentences, unexpected pregnancies – so much heartache, so much brokenness. It causes a profound sense of loss.  It crushes you and rips your heart open. I imagine Jesus’ mother felt that way when he died.

On Good Friday it appeared to be the end of Jesus. His life was over. All hope was gone. Many of his followers saw him die – his blood drain out; his side pierced; his last breath expelled. His life ended. Ruined.  His last words were, “It is finished.” It looked like His enemies won. Total defeat.

Today, over two thousand years later, we have the advantage of knowing the rest of the story. We can read the Bible in many different versions. We can watch a movie about it (The Passion, The Jesus Film, Jesus of Nazareth) or a TV mini-series called The Bible. These things tell us and show us about Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. If you grew up going to church you probably know the story very well.

But what are Easter’s 7 messages to parents in pain? 

Truths for Parents with Broken Hearts – Part 3

Today’s post concludes a 3 part series of truth statements for parents with broken hearts. Altogether I’ve shared 15 IMG_0098with you. I turn to these statements for comfort and strength when I’m worn out from the stress of the journey I’m on as the mom of a recovering addict.

These are the things I believe in and depend on in any trial. They bring comfort and peace to my heart, mind and soul. They help me keep an eternal perspective on my problems. It’s easy to become short-sighted.

If you’re the parent of a son or daughter who has a problem with alcohol or drugs, an eating disorder or any other self-injuring behavior, sexual identity issues, a mental illness (brain disorder), or any kind of challenging problem, then you know how brutally difficult it is. I hope the rest of my list uplifts you and increases your faith:

8)  My pain has a purpose. I may not know what it is at the moment. My part is to trust God and wait. (Ephesians 3:20; Romans 8:28)

9)  God’s love for me is unfailing. Nothing can ever separate me from it. He’s not mad at me. He’s not punishing me. He’ll never turn away. (Psalm 107:8;  Romans 8:39)

Truths for Parents with Broken Hearts – Part 2

034My last blog post covered the first 3 items on my list of truth statements for parents who are in pain. Their pain is the result of the behaviors, choices and struggles of their teen to adult kids. I turn to this list when hopelessness and weariness overwhelm me.

I’ve felt that way many times as the mom of an alcoholic/addict who’s also struggled with mental health issues, self-injury and suicidal thoughts. This roller-coaster ride has lasted over 10 years. At times I lost my way – and my identity. I questioned my faith and tortured myself wondering where did we go wrong? how did this happen? why did it happen? how will things end? will it ever really end?

One day it dawned on me that my thinking needed to be re-framed. A set of truths to focus my mind on the next time the proverbial rug was pulled out from under my feet was essential to my well-being.

Worn down by the constant strain I asked God for clarity to see my situation through His lenses. Of course it’s impossible to do that completely. He’s divine. I’m mortal, BUT these are the next 4 truth statements He led me to put on my list. They’ve been a huge help on the journey. I hope they encourage you as much as they have me: 

3 Truths for Parents with Broken Hearts – Part 1

Are you a worn out, discouraged parent of a teen or adult child? Your son or daughter may suffer with one of these: mental illness, self-injury, an333 eating disorder, pornography, an addiction to drugs or alcohol, gender identity confusion, or be incarcerated.

Have you given up hope or you’re on the verge? Did you have a strong faith in God, but now you aren’t so sure what you believe anymore?

Take heart, weary friend. You’re not alone.

“I’m so exhausted,” my friend confided as she heaved a deep sigh.

Another mom choked out, “I don’t think I’m going to survive this experience”, as she wept on my shoulder.

A grief-stricken dad moaned, “This is killing me. It’s by far the most difficult time of my entire life.”

I’ve thought and said these same things, have you? How can I keep going? I wondered. My strength was gone. I had no idea how in the world I was going to face the next crisis.

You may feel like this, too. I wish I could tell you your child’s going to be okay, but I can’t make that promise. No one can. There aren’t any guarantees we can depend on. Our child is the one who must choose to change, to accept help.

I’m sorry. I know that’s not very comforting, but it’s the hard truth. On my grueling journey I’ve come to see that we need to grieve our losses and accept what is. What can we depend on?  Is there anything out there for us to stand on, to give comfort? Where can we find some high ground, a refuge during times of disaster?