Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children: Trusting God with the Ones You Love (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017)

Praying the Scriptures for your Adult ChildrenI’m a mom of two adult sons. I’ve learned no matter what age they are, you never stop worrying or caring about them. That’s why Jodie Berndt’s excellent book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children is so appealing.

Each chapter focuses on some aspect of your adult child’s life. These are what keep moms awake at night as we search for just the right words to pray. Topics include praying for a future spouse, a young marriage, a troubled marriage, finding the right job, and finding friends who are supportive and encouraging. The author has interviewed many other parents and shares their own stories and struggles to let go of their adult children. I love hearing from other parents who have come through challenging times. There’s something powerful  about knowing you’re not alone–and to be reminded that we really can trust God with the ones we love.

What a privilege it is for us, as parents, to be able to slip our hand into the hand of our heavenly Father and join him in the continuing work that he is doing in our adult children’s lives. And what a joy, as we allow the words of Scripture to shape our perspective and transform our prayers, to be given a window into God’s heart. -Jodie Berndt

The author uses “prayer principles” throughout the book to highlight important truths. Each chapter ends with real prayers drawn from scripture that you can use for yourself and for your children.

I now consider this my “go-to” book to help me pray for my sons and my daughter-in-law.  As Jodie Berndt says, “It’s never too late to start praying God’s best for your children.”

Thanks to Handlebar Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Surviving Your Spouse’s Alcoholism: Boot Camp Basics

Prayer is the number 1 way to combat alcoholism. Photo by Ben WhiteIn my previous article about surviving your spouse’s alcoholism, I compared the struggle with alcoholism to an intense battle. It certainly is a battle on multiple levels: spiritual, physical, emotional. At first, I didn’t have a clue how to “fight” this battle. I needed basic training. I had to admit there was a problem before I could reach out for help. That’s a huge first step!

When I discovered Al-Anon, a support group for family members and friends of alcoholics, I felt elated. Now I could  find out how to fix my husband’s drinking problem. I looked at the people sitting around the table in the church fellowship hall. I knew they had the answers. When I poured out my pain, everyone listened with compassion. Then one older woman said, “I used to think if my husband stopped drinking, if only he would change, then our lives would be great. What I’ve learned is I can’t do anything about my husband. The only person I can help is myself!”

What? You’ve got to be kidding. You mean there’s nothing I can do to change Randy? And you can’t be serious that it’s partly my problem. My problem is him! If only he’d stop drinking, then our lives could be normal. I wanted to  blame Randy for everything that was wrong in our world. At that first Al-Anon meeting, I had no idea I had embarked on a boot camp of personal growth and discovery that ultimately changed my life.

Have you ever felt that way? You see your husband or wife as the problem. If only she would stop drinking, then you could be happy. It takes a lot of courage to evaluate our own behavior, the ways we’ve contributed to our problems. When we stop trying to control our spouse and stop playing into negative behaviors (such as arguing with someone who’s drunk and irrational), then the familiar, unhealthy cycle is interrupted. A counselor once told me alcoholism is like gears moving in sync with predictable behaviors. When the non-alcoholic spouse stops doing what is familiar, then the gears don’t move so well and may eventually come to a halt.

If any of this were easy, we’d figure it out quickly and then go on happily about our lives. Healing is a process and unlearning years of learned behaviors takes time and more time. But it’s so worth it! And sometimes, changing our behaviors can motivate our loved ones to want to change, also. There are no guarantees, but the good news is that we will change. We will be different if we go through the “recovery” boot camp.

I used to lament to a friend that I felt stuck. Nothing seemed to be changing in my life. I was worried that I’d be in the same place several years in the future. My wise friend said, “No, you won’t. As long as you’re taking steps toward growth and change, there’s no way you’ll be in the same place because you’re moving forward!”

Moving Forward

So how do we start the process?

  • Tell yourself the truth.  I found it impossibly difficult to finally say the words, “My husband is an alcoholic. Our marriage is in shambles. My life is a mess. And the most important words…I need help!”
  • Stop pretending. Yes, there’s an “elephant” in our homes wreaking havoc and destruction. We have to acknowledge that truth. I remember keeping a smile plastered on my face and telling people I was fine—when in reality, I felt broken. I barely kept myself afloat emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s okay not to be fine.
  • Find supportive people. We have to be willing to take off our masks and trust a friend, a counselor, or a support group with our truth. Not everyone will understand, so it’s important to find people who are trustworthy of helping you carry your pain.
  • Believe in a Power greater than yourself. I came into Al-Anon believing in a Higher Power, Jesus Christ. The challenge for me was to deepen my faith. I admitted I couldn’t handle Randy’s alcoholism. I surrendered.


In a battle, surrender is seen as a position of weakness. You call it quits, wave the white flag, and put yourself in the enemy’s hands. When we surrender in the battle that is alcoholism, we take a position of strength. We admit I can’t do it. But there is One who can. I will let Him. I have been relieved of trying to do it all, to make someone change, believing it’s my responsibility when it isn’t. Only God can change a person’s heart.

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. -John 8:32.

Truth gives us the ability to walk into the light instead of staying forever hidden in the darkness. Truth brings freedom and relief. Some days it will feel like boot camp. I didn’t sign up for this. How come I have to do all this recovery stuff when he isn’t doing anything? That’s how I felt at times. The hope is that we are growing into the men and women God created us to be. We’re not stuck any longer.

How do we learn to respond differently? Prayer, practice and time. Three steps forward, two steps back. But always moving forward. Being open and teachable. Recognizing what we’re doing that isn’t working or helping us or our spouse get well.

Hope begins when I tell myself the truth.


Why You Shouldn’t Give Up on Your Marriage

I heard the news that a young couple in our community is getting a divorce after only one year of marriage. What went wrong? All I know is this is a tragedy. I remember the wedding announcement we received with their bright smiling faces, their eyes so filled with love for each other.

Being silly at Lucy's birthday party!

Being silly at Lucy’s birthday party!

I want to tell them, “Don’t give up! Your story isn’t over yet.” In Alcoholics Anonymous, they say: “Don’t give up 5 minutes before the miracle.” Sometimes 5 minutes can seem like an eternity, but when the miracle comes, you don’t want to miss it.

My husband Randy and I are celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. When I look back, I remember the tough times we faced in our marriage. It seemed hopeless. Struggling with Randy’s alcoholism loomed like a never-ending problem with few solutions. In retrospect, it was 5 minutes. The miracle of Randy’s sobriety and the years we’ve enjoyed since then, have truly been a miracle worth waiting for.

Letting Go: A Refresher Course

This post seems like deja vu. I’ve written about my “little” brother several times. Yesterday was his birthday. I called him to tell him I was thinking about him. His mental confusion seemed more pronounced. He admitted to using meth “so he could have some fun on his birthday.” Calling him is difficult. It brings his dire circumstances into focus. Somehow it’s easier when you don’t have to deal with someone up close and personal.

My brother has been homeless for many years. He’s addicted to alcohol and meth. Whether he had mental illness and self-treated with substances or has brain damage because of his drug use, doesn’t really matter at this point. It’s heart-wrenching and frustrating because there isn’t anything we as a family can do to help him. He’s reluctant to sign up for the now-mandatory health insurance. His pride gets in the way. Because he’s so emotionally volatile, he has difficulty working, so he doesn’t have any regular income.

After talking with him, I realized I need a refresher course in letting go. The “Letting Go” poem I received at one of the treatment centers my husband Randy went to is a good reminder.

Here are a few thoughts I had as I worked through letting go (once again) of my brother.

  •  To “let go” does not mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.

         I will always love my brother. I can’t make him want to make healthy choices, though.

  • To “let go” is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization I can’t control another. 

        I can reach out to my brother without any expectations or demands that he change. 

  • To “let go” is not to fix, but to be supportive. 

       I was able to talk with him without offering advice.

  • To “let go” is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

      I didn’t scold him for doing drugs.

  • To “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies.  

       I will never stop praying for my brother. I am powerless, but there is One who has all power. I pray  for him to find God in his life.                  

  •  To “let go” is to fear less, and love more.

What have you learned about “letting go?” How is this making a difference in your relationships? 

Do Not Grow Weary and Lose Heart

Tonight when I was browsing on Facebook, I saw a post that I immediately shared on my timeline… words to a song by Laura Story called Blessings…What if your blessings come through raindrops? What if your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

My heart was touched…not only by this artist’s insights into the questions we all struggle with…the whys of tragedies like Boston, West, Texas, Newtown, Aurora and countless other arenas closer to home, but no less painful. But I was also moved by the hundreds of comments that flooded in. The person who posted this message, Teresa Allissa Citro, asked people to share their prayer needs, where they were feeling weary and losing heart. I scrolled through the endless requests. I realized this wasn’t just any social media post. On this ordinary Thursday night, I took time out from the kitchen clean-up. I laid the dish towel on the counter. I prayed for the woman whose son took his life in December, the single mom trying to make ends meet, though she’s homeless and jobless. I prayed for others with chronic medical problems and financial concerns. I asked God to help those who feel despair, pain, and heartache. I prayed for hope.

I felt immersed in this extraordinary circle of prayer. I felt in awe for technology that allows us to come together across continents and countries as sisters in Christ. Even when we don’t understand and we have more questions than answers, our hope is still in God…the One who is strength in our weakness, calm in the storm, comfort in our sorrow.

Laura Story’s song speaks to this. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen. You’ll be blessed!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16   



Climb the Mountains!


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It’s a quiet Saturday morning, my favorite time to hang out in my jammies to read, pray, and simply listen for God’s still, small voice–sometimes difficult to hear over the cacophony of life’s daily demands. I’ve been thinking about a message I heard the other night from Pastor Moses from Uganda, who is visiting in our area for a few weeks…his first time in the United States–in fact his first time outside of his country!

A few friends from our community traveled to Uganda in 2005 and met Pastor Moses Zirimenya and his wife Annet. Upon returning home, these women shared Pastor Moses’ vision of building a children’s home and school for the many orphaned children in their care. As friends and family responded, Harvest Home Ministries was created. Pastor Moses’ vision has become a reality. His faith and his commitment to serving God are inspiring.

He spoke about being determined to overcome obstacles, being serious in our prayers and willing to sacrifice our time to be in God’s presence, so we can be in tune with His will for our lives. We have to wait on God for answers and never give up hope, he says. We have to learn to be “mountain climbers.” There will always be challenges, but we must climb the mountains instead of giving up.

Pastor Moses should know. When they drilled for water on the school property and couldn’t find any, he refused to give up. They drilled over and over, but no water. Moses prayed and trusted God, only to hear the same news. No water. Finally, when everyone urged him to give up, he requested that they drill one more time. “And this time, there was an explosion of water!” His grin lit up the entire room.

My faith is so small, so weak in comparison. When I face seemingly impossible situations in my life, I am quick to give up, to throw in the towel when the least bit of resistance comes. I knew I could never write that book, I say when the first rejection comes. It’s too hard and I can’t do it. I knew I couldn’t finish it. No one’s really interested anyway. And the self-fulfilling prophesy rambles on in my head.

Then this humble servant from Africa arrives to show us another way. His resources are limited beyond what we can imagine with our affluent lifestyle in the U.S. Yet, I can’t help but think that Pastor Moses is truly the one who is rich. Perhaps he was sent here to minister to us!

I’m convinced I need to be more determined to pray for our country, the issues Randy and I struggle with, our family and friends. Yes, I believe prayer changes things…but do I really? That’s a tough question. I want to believe. Lord, help my unbelief.

I pray that whatever you and I are facing, that we will be determined to climb the mountains.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17

Couples Who Pray: The Most Intimate Act Between a Man and a Woman by SQuire Rushnell and Louise DuArt

WARNING: This book will change your marriage! That’s the disclaimer on the back

cover of Couples Who Pray by husband and wife, SQuire Rushnell and Louise DuArt. The authors present convincing research by Baylor University, Gallup, and the compelling stories of 24 test couples who have taken The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, that couples who pray together do stay together! Not only that–they experience greater satisfaction in their relationships than their non-praying counterparts. All it takes is a commitment to pray together for a minimum of five minutes each day.

When I received my copy of Couples Who Pray, I read the first sentence from the introduction to my husband. Men–most of you will want to know that the most intimate act between a man and a woman will greatly enhance the frequency and ecstasy of lovemaking. I have to admit, that statement piqued my interest. My husband said, When can we start?

We joked at first, but we have sincerely been reading this book as a couple, and feel challenged and inspired to pray together–not just at mealtimes or when we’re nodding off after our heads hit the pillows at night. Like the couples who tell their stories throughout the book, we’re finding a deeper level of intimacy growing between us when we take time to pray.

This book is entertaining and easy to read. Several couples who share their stories are celebrities: Denzel and Pauletta Washington, Scott and Tracie Hamilton, and Bruce Sudano and Donna Summer. While I’ve enjoyed reading about their lives and their solid commitment to their marriages (how refreshing!), I have also found it somewhat difficult to relate to their circumstances. However, the authors do include other couples who represent a more mainstream lifestyle.

I really like the premise of this book, but I would have appreciated more biblical depth to avoid being formulaic. If you pray together 5 minutes each day, your marriage will be fabulous! Sometimes it just isn’t that easy.