Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rhonda's boys: Life with a mother who develops a serious mental illness.

It was something about the way they looked at me when we came into KFC that struck me as different. I came in with my three kids frazzled, as usual, trying to get a quick lunch. I ordered our usual...kid's meals for all the kids and a popcorn chicken for myself...just something to get everyone happy and get through the afternoon. The twins who worked at KFC were hard workers and they were very kind every time we came in. I always felt relieved when they were working because I knew they were going to be nice to me. I didn't know them by name. I just knew their smile, and I knew what their smile meant to me. The last thing I needed was another person looking at me like I was crazy because I couldn't keep my kids under control, because my kids were not well groomed, because I was feeding my kids fast food instead of fruits and veggies, or because my hair was a mess. After my third child, I had become ultra-sensitive to the disapproving looks of those who did not like my "parenting techniques", (the "looks" were EVERYWHERE) so there was something about the way these boys looked at me that meant A LOT to me. It was the look of grace. I stopped getting that look somewhere after my third kid...or rather, I stopped noticing that look because I became too busy obsessing over the next time I would get the glare of disapproval.

"These boys are set apart. They will not always work at KFC. They are going to do something with their lives someday," I remember thinking to myself. They were teen-aged boys. They were not your typical teen-aged boys. They worked with integrity even though nobody forced them to. They worked with a 'can-do' attitude and they were very selfless. "How does a parent raise boys to turn into such well-mannered young men who work hard, as if the world does not constantly owe them something?" I wondered. This is actually very rare around where we live. They seemed so refreshingly different from other teenage boys I knew. This is not to blame any other teenage boys...I just couldn't figure these two out. Where do they come from? :)

Later, I saw them walking down the hallway of our church with my friend, Rhonda McMillon. (Rhonda just did a guest post for the site) "WAIT A MINUTE!!!! ARE THESE YOUR BOYS!?!" I was so excited! I was friends with their mom!!! Yay!!! I not only knew their mom, but I was in a Bible Study with their mom! I learned their names...Marcus and Marcellus English. What a privilege it is to call them my brothers in Christ!

As time went on, I started to understand that it was actually hard times that shaped those boys into who they were. It wasn't a bunch of "fluff and stuff". Those boys were strong in their core TODAY because of the fire they had been through YESTERDAY. WOW!!! I had no idea at the time. {This is only meant to be a teaser must read the book to really get to know these boys.} :) I am not going to lay out their whole story here in this post, but I will give you a parenting thought, and we are going to have a book giveaway SOON. :)

Pray your kids through the hard times. Trust God to be at work in their lives. They ARE going to go through some rough patches from time to time. It's not going to be all fluff and stuff. Those hard times are going to be their "refining" moments. Do not protect them from those times by pulling them away from those times, but rather, pray them through them and be present as they learn to pull through them, teaching your children to cling to God as they learn to pull through to the other side of their trial. How we deal with our trials today will determine how we fair on the other side. Teach your children to take their problems to the one who can help them sort through them in a healthy way and bring healing in their life.

As I read Rhonda's book, A Different Kind of Blossom, that she wrote along with her sons and mother, I smiled as I read about how her boys did not want to work at KFC. They wanted, instead, to be ordering food from KFC. (that sounds normal) :) I enjoyed reading about how the family gathered around the table to read the Bible together and I imagined how that was probably strength-building for those boys and how it probably gave them focus, hope to cling to, and something bigger to believe in when they were faced with the hardships of seeing their mother go through the process of identifying how to handle life with a very serious mental illness.

I love this family. I know you will too. Next post. A brief paragraph describing A Different Kind of Blossom and a book giveaway so one lucky winner can get their very own copy of her book.

To read Rhonda McMillon's guest post about discovering, and dealing with, a mental illness you may click here.

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