In January, it became clear that the procedure done on Brandon’s hip had not helped. The ball of his leg bone collapsed, so he had a hip replacement in February.
Two weeks later, the doctor tried the same preventative procedure on Brandon’s other hip, which had also begun to deteriorate.
At Thanksgiving, they came to our home for the holiday, and brought along Brandon’s cousin, Jason.
On Thanksgiving Day, Brandon and Jason took off to spend the night in a motel. They were gone for several days on a drunk.
Beth finally told the sad story of what her home was like. Brandon apparently spent most of the time drunk, and would be gone for days at a time, leaving Beth and the kids to fend for themselves. This was interspersed with times of church attendance and an improved home life.
That was the year my husband and I first saw the movie: “Faith Like Potatoes.”
If you’re unfamiliar with this excellent story, it’s based on a real Scottish family who lived in Africa. They struggled to “make a go of it” on their farm.
As I watched this hot-headed drunk turn to Jesus – and then into an effective evangelist, the Lord whispered,
“See that man? That is your son-in-law. Pray this for him.”
Lord, are we talking about the same man? I asked.
This truth was settled so firmly in my heart, though, that I began to lift Brandon up in prayer, and trust that God meant what He said.
It didn’t take very long before I realized that I didn’t have what it takes to love someone who won’t “fix.” Brandon mostly frustrated and angered me by what he was doing to my daughter and their children.
I’m a visual person. I finally came up with a plan by which I could carry out the Lord’s directive.
I purchased a heart-shaped box and on its cover I wrote:
“God’s – Hands Off!”
I wrote Brandon’s name on a card and put it inside the box. Then I lifted the box to the Lord and said, “Lord, I can’t love this guy. He’s hurting my daughter and my grandchildren; all the while, He is making You look weak and uncaring. I’m putting Brandon’s behavior in this box and I give it to You.
I know that I can’t change him; only You can. I leave him in Your capable hands.
In exchange, would You give me Your love for Brandon?” (You can read this story here.)
From that point on, every time I began to stew about Brandon, I’d say, “Back in the box! Back in the box!”
This technique helped immensely. Once I put Brandon in the box (along with Beth), counsel was easier to give to my daughter whenever she called in tears.
I would encourage her to remember that Brandon was a “spud.” God was working on him in secret. We were not to dig him up – or risk ruining what God was doing.
After we hung up, I’d say out loud:
“Am I out of my mind?”
I’d make plans to drive to their town, find Brandon, and give him a piece of my mind. Every time, the Lord would whisper:
“He’s My spud…don’t dig him up!”
In February, 2010, Brandon’s other hip had to be replaced.
Now, two more disks in his back were also deteriorating. He was in continual pain, and any movement would cause him to yell out.
CHECK THIS OUT!
In August of the same year, I told this story to our chaplain from hospice. After he left, I began to peel potatoes for dinner. I reached into the sink for the last potato.
It felt knobby!
I looked it over, and discovered that it was in the shape of a heart!
I showed that potato to everyone who would listen to my story! That spud was a wonderful gift from the Lord – one that I wasn’t willing to give up, so…
I encased it in resin. I kept it on my coffee table where I could be continually reminded:
God’s! Don’t dig him up.
A couple of weeks later, Beth also found a heart-shaped potato in a bag of spuds she purchased in her town. I knew this was, indeed, a word from God.
Brandon continued to disappear for days on end, going to his cousin’s to drown his pain with alcohol.
Meanwhile, Beth’s faith was increasing by increments. It was hard for her to live with, but she was learning to trust Jesus more – and lean on others for support less.
Then came the day when Beth called with a new problem:
Brandon was talking non-stop about the Bible, and continually reading it…
…but nothing he said about what he read in the Bible made sense.
The story continues tomorrow.
If you missed the beginning of this story, you can find it here: You Need To Read This.