A Thief?!?!

Jolted from my silence by the interruption of the telephone, I heard Linda’s voice on the other end. “Debbie, please walk me through this. I’m scared! Jeremy is in trouble. I don’t know what to do! Can you come over right away and walk me through this? Hurry, the police are expecting me.”

Without thinking twice, I ran across the street to console my friend. “Linda, how can I help?”

“Just help me think! I’ve never dealt with anything like this! The police just called to tell me that Jeremy is being held in security. He was caught stealing something! They want me to come right away. How can this be? Not, Jeremy!”

As tears streamed down her face, I reached for her hands to help keep her from shaking. Quietly, I encouraged her to sit down a few minutes. “Linda, tell me everything you know.”

092012_1457_AThief1.jpg“That’s it. Just that they say they are holding Jeremy down at the shopping center for stealing!”

“Is this something you would ever have expected from Jeremy?”

“No! Of course not!”

“Why not?” I responded.

“Of all my kids, Jeremy is the last one I would expect. He’s doing great in school, almost all A’s, and I really like his friends. It just doesn’t make any sense. He’s got money in the bank from working last summer. Why would he need to steel something?”

“Has anything been different lately?”

“No, I don’t think so.” She mumbled. “What would he possibly want to steal? Oh my… he is getting pretty serious with his girlfriend. Surely he wouldn’t be stealing…you know, something he might be too embarrassed to buy!”

As Linda’s mind started heading toward all those unthinkable possibilities of what Jeremy might have stolen and how embarrassed she might be when she got to the store, I gave her a hug and offered up a quick prayer.

“Linda, look at me. When my mind starts taking me to places I know I shouldn’t go, I try to remember a scripture verse. The one from Philippians 4:8 is a good one. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

” The truth here,”  I continued, ” is that Jeremy is a good kid! Now it is up to you to be a strong mom for him. You can’t go in there crying or getting angry. This isn’t about you, it is about him. He’s a good kid who has done a stupid thing. We’ve all done stupid stuff in our lives; just focus on what you know to be true. Jeremy is a great kid and you are a strong mom! You can do this. Go be there for your son!”

As she drove down the street, I knew I’d be on my knees in her behalf during the next hour.

Later that evening Linda dropped by with a smile on her face, “Debbie, you were right. Jeremy is a good kid who did a stupid thing.”

As she shared the details of the afternoon with the police and Jeremy, she seemed content with how the experience had turned out. “You wouldn’t have believed it. As we were leaving, the police officer looked at me and told me what a great son I had. Luckily, he doesn’t have to go to court, but he will have to pay a fine. Jeremy managed to redeem himself with the officer even after he did such a stupid thing. I felt sorry for him. I could tell he was really scared…and repentant. I’m glad I was there for him.”

“Linda, how did you respond to Jeremy when you got there?”

“It had to have been God! I just went in and calmly asked what happened. Even when Jeremy and I were walking to the car, I just kept silent. I let him talk.”

“Wow! What restraint you must have exhibited!”

“The crazy thing about the whole thing is that he actually took something he had sold in a yard sale last summer.”

“What? I don’t get it.”

“Seems his girlfriend’s little brother was into the same card game Jeremy used to be into when he was that age. Jeremy was wishing he still had his collection to give to him. Said he was having a hard time paying for something he had just given away. Jeremy remembered opening the box in the store but the rest is a little fuzzy. When the security guard followed him into the parking lot, it was like a light bulb went off in his head and he realized what he had done. He immediately turned around and handed the merchandise over to security. I can’t believe he did something stupid for all the right reasons.”

“Oh, Linda, you’ve raised a good kid. It was one of those brain-freeze moments.”

“I know how you’ve told me that the frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until between the ages of 24 and 27.” she laughed. “I think I just experienced that today!”

BOTTOM LINE: Even when our tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings do the unthinkable, we need to remember that their brains are still maturing. They need us to stay calm and be the adult in their life, walking beside them no matter how difficult the situation.

Dare You to not respond with anger or tears next time you find your child has made some unbelievable mistake.

Double Dare You to listen in silence as your kid tells you why they made a stupid choice.

Learning to laugh on the journey!

“Let go and let God…”


Expectations – Looking back or side-to-side?

Sitting at a local coffee shop with a woman whose son I had recently met, Lana poured out her heart as we sipped cappuccino. I wasn’t sure why she wanted to speak to me; but as she began to fill in the details, I realized that I was an anomaly in her world.

“Your family is the only one I’ve met with both a mom and dad,” she muttered behind a look of disbelief. And with that, I realized that I had become her “relationship expert”. Yikes!

“Well, at least she had come to at least one right conclusion. Both parents do have an impact on their children,” I thought to myself as she continued to sputter all the sins of her ex-husband.

Having chewed up her ex, she soon launched into the real reason she has asked me to meet her.

090412_2156_Expectation1.png“I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to get my 15 year old to do what he should be doing!” she blubbered. “At his age, I was on the honor roll in school, playing a sport every season, and working 20 hours a week.” (Translate – expectations!)

“Tom’s grades are awful and he just got suspended from the football team because he wasn’t making it to practice on time. Not only that, but I’ve been trying to get him to look for a part-time job for the last six months. He won’t even try! Getting him to get up on Saturday morning to mow the lawn and do his chores is next to impossible. Without his dad living at home anymore, I have to depend on Tom to help out around the house more. He’s just not pulling his weight. I do everything I can to be his friend and do what he asks me to do, but I just don’t understand …”

I sat frustrated as Lana continued to ramble on, not really wanting any advice. I knew God must have me there for a reason. (I’d sort that out with Him later.) Obviously, she just needed to vent to someone that she thought had it all together. Ha! Guess I didn’t have to share all my parenting shortcomings after all!

After listening for over an hour while attempting to ask questions to help her recognize her unrealistic expectations, I managed to extract myself from this woman’s woes. I laughed at myself as I pulled away in the van, “My expectations for our meeting were obviously out of sync as well. J I thought she wanted some “words of wisdom” and was coming with a heart “willing to listen”. Strike that expectation off the list!!

As I lay awake that night sorting through my conversation with Lana, pouring out my heart to God as to why he wanted me to be her sounding board, a still small voice seemed to speak to me, “You have expectations of your children too, Debbie. Are they realistic? Is anyone in your family bucking the system?”

“Oh, my…”

“Just like Lana wants to be her son’s friend, what kind of expectations do you have of yourself to justify you being a “good” mom?


As I contemplate the expectations I have for my children, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers (and mothers), do not exasperate your children…” Lord, forgive me. I’ve certainly done that. Sometimes I still do that even though they are now adults!!

But then I realize that the verse goes on, “…instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ah-ha! “God, this is the standard YOU want for me to be a “good” mom!” Lord, how I fail miserably at this.

Bottom Line: No matter what the stage of life for our kids, tweens, teens, or twenty-something, our expectations are usually based on where we were at that age or where we think our friends’ kids are in the journey. Instead of looking back or side-to-side, I encourage you to look into your child’s face with a true desire for relationship wanting to help him discover who God designed him to be.

Dare you to discuss the expectations you are letting go of with your child.

Double dare you to have the discussion over a hot cup of cappuccino or mocha asking your child to hold you accountable for truly letting the expectation go. (Trust me when I say this one will really be hard. You may have to graciously eat humble pie when your child gives you feedback. If you can’t handle the “accountability” part just yet, at least enjoy the cappuccino and mocha!)

Privileged to learn alongside you!

“Let go and let God…”