Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Robert Update


This time around, when he walks into the courtroom in his "blues", his hands shackled at his waist, he doesn't look so strange to me. He's not a foreigner like he was last time.

His chin is up, his eyes vibrant. I catch that flash of bright white teeth and my heart is full of the best of all there is. He's right here in front of us, no grainy screen, no crackly phone. He's here, the frame of a man carting around the heart of a child. He's steady and sure, deep breaths and an easy smile.

But his future dangles and I know his palms are wet.

We sit in the front row, the only kin for him, the only kin for anyone in the room. I'm nervous for him, proud of him, scared to death for him.

The Judge peers down over his frown, grumbles and grunts.

Robert stands. He speaks from his heart, quiet but clear. He speaks some of his truth and there's no more time for pride. Each word drips humility and he asks for a second chance. I never got a ball game with this one. There's never been a school play or a science fair. Can I jump up and cheer for this?

Judge pounds his fist on the stand. He knows what he did. He's heard it all before and he's sick to death of words. He's looking at the boy who I watched crazy-braid the hair of a disabled three-year old, teasing her while he worked, making her giggle while he made her even cuter. He's looking at the kid who put the neighbor kids on the bus for their first day of school because their mom didn't come home that morning. "I told 'em to have fun and listen to their teacher."  He took their picture on the sidewalk with his flip phone and they ran kid-screaming to him at the end of the day so he picked them each up and twirled them around. This is who the Judge looks down at, but all he sees is a thug, so he screams "You had a second chance!" and smacks the stand again.

Oh, I'd been praying. But this is the moment my prayers get desperate.

10 years. True, he's young, but the court doesn't care. And yes, the judge read our letter, but he doesn't give a rip and how foolish can we really be?

10 years. This can't be right.

3 years in prison. 4 on house arrest. 4 probation.

I don't understand. The judge mumbles. His face is mean. I dig my nails into Cory's leg. Robert looks at his public defender and this was not what we were hoping for, was it? Is this right? Because my heart is breaking and I was praying for mercy.

The gavel bangs and here it is. It's the future now and my eyes sting.

Robert's face gives nothing away. He stands, turns around, gives us one more look that I'll spend hours decoding.

I knew I wouldn't cry, so why am I sobbing in my car? I call my mom and cry my eyes out, then cry harder when she cries, too.

Our company comes over so I forget about it for a while and eat beef tacos and pumpkin roll.

We tuck the kids into bed and Cory heads out for the jail while I stay home, knowing there's a reason, trying to make sense of things, forcing out thoughts of that documentary I watched about prison gangs, counting the minutes until Cory comes home and repeats every single word that was said.

I should know by now that I get a lot of this stuff dead wrong. It should have at least crossed my mind that Robert thinks the news is good.

This child who raised himself, who never believed in God, who knew abandonment more than security, abuse more than love, this child knows mercy when he sees it. He understands justice and its worth. (He also knows more about the system than we do, so he knows that 3 years is actually more like 18 months.)

He has chosen, once again, to fling himself recklessly into the heart of God, a place he's just now getting to know. It could be much worse and the truth is, he's a hopeless optimist, so he smiles and laughs and jokes with Cory about his "Mom" (that'd be me) sitting at home crying for her big kid. He says to tell me not to worry. It's gonna be alright.

Who knows where he'll go when they take him, but he's sure we'll come along. He's let himself believe us.

This boy teaches me all over again about unconditional love and my fundamental need for grace. He reminds me that my worst moment doesn't define me. He shows me how to bend low to rise above.

He's ours. We're his.

In it to the end.

Bright-smiling thankful every single hour for the gift of all he is.


65 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm sorry. I get it. Sending you such a big hug. I'm sending you an email, too. Very soon.

    -Angie

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  2. He'll be Ok. He has a lifeline in your family and renewed hope. My cousin went to jail (armed robbery)and now says it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He got an education, started a business and now 30 years later has an official pardon and a beautiful fiance.

    God Bless him and keep him strong.

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    1. Razmataz said exactly what I was thinking. My eyes were stinging too but there is some truth to what the judge said. He is probably sick in his heart from facing these problems every day and from the earnest requests for second and third chances. Robert has you, God and the chance to grow into a fine man which is a blessing as some never get this chance.

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  3. My eyes smarted, reading this. And then when I got to the end I realized that all my muscles were tense and I wasn't breathing.

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  4. We are walking similar paths and it is so refreshing to read the words of my heart on a screen. Praying for your Robert!

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  5. From now on just go ahead and text me before you post. Say something like, Joy, grab some tissue, or maybe even a box. I'll listen.

    xxoo

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  6. Oh my heart aches with your words, I have never met him or even you but I love him and pray for him and want so badly for him to know gods love and grace and redemption, thank god for you, for Cory for all your littles who will be there for him and for you guiding him in this scary life.

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  7. I recently went on a field trip with my daughter's 8th grade class to both the Federal and County courthouses where we were able to move from court to court to witness various forms of our judicial system. Near the end of our time, we ended up in a courtroom where a young man {who probably looked alot like your Robert} sat with his public defender and heard the word "guilty" from a jury. He was shackled and taken into custody right there in from of us. I met his sad, hopeless eyes and tried my best to smile and show him any form of love I could muster. I just kept wondering why, on such a BIG day for this young man, we were the only people in the courtroom - no mother, no father, aunt, uncle, grandma, cousin......I could not help buy think that that is exactly why he was there....he had no one. The impact of that day was huge, for my daughter and her classmates but also me. I pray for him and for your Robert.
    xo~Jill

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  8. God has made beauty from the ashes. Robert has seen Jesus in you, and that's a powerful thing. I will be praying for Robert and your family.
    Gloria

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  9. So thankful that Robert has you.....and that you have Robert. I know you have changed each other's lives. Your post honors him!

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  10. Thank goodness you have Robert and he has you.

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  11. you are Hands and Feet. like always. and like always, i'm inspired.

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  12. Oh, how he is loved. And he knows it.
    God's plan is good.
    Lisa

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  13. What a blessing that he has you and that you have him. He has hope. (((((HUGS)))))

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  14. What a blessing you have in each other. Once again, thank you for sharing your journey, including the not so pretty parts. It challenges me in my faith and to think beyond my safe, easy life.

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  15. I think, too, it's good news in a round-about way. There has to be a balance of judgment and mercy. As 38yo woman, I'm thankful for consequences in the lives of others AND myself. The thought of consequences keeps me in check; I've always been a wild card, at heart. When I punish my children, I assure them: I am held accountable, too, by the Lord if not by their daddy. Robert will be better for this. Praying for you. You're stronger than you think, and you really didn't want a complete pardon, even if you thought you did. Thank you for being there for him. He needs you to love him no matter what, and I know you will. He doesn't need you to fix him; that's God's work. And he doesn't need you to rescue him; he needs to live out these 18 months. Love you.

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    1. No, no, no. I was never praying for a full pardon. I was just really scared by the sound of "ten years" and honestly, federal prison is a very different thing than county jail.

      And I hope I haven't come across as thinking that I can rescue or fix him! I pray and worry. I think that's what he needs most from me. :)

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  16. My heart is full with love and admiration for you and your family. I will keep all of you--including Robert--in my prayers

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  17. Thank you for sharing him with us. For letting us share in praying for him. Please tell him there are so many people praying for him and we all can't wait to "meet" him!

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    1. I've told him about all my blog friends who pray for him and it makes him smile. Also, he has agreed to guest post someday. ;)

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  18. May Robert feel the love and peace and strength of God surrounding him at all times. May he feel the tremendous love he has from you his family, and wrap it around him like a blanket. I love it that he told Cory to tell you it was going to be alright.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady Lorraine

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  19. Yes, this remarkable beauty of leaning into grace. Peace, friend. All is for purpose.

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  20. God bless him, protect him, let him keep his optimism which much be a gift from God. Let him keep some of joy. And most of all Lord, bring each of them peace. And, rest.

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This sounds a lot like my prayers for him.

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    2. Shannen, I've shared before our grandson is in prison for drugs and these are my daily prayers for him. The big challenge comes when these young men are released and face the decision to walk a new path. Loving prayers to you and

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    3. Amen to that. I have a loved one who has been released after serving time and not only do ex-cons face their own challenges on the outside, the system seems to make it as hard on them as possible to stay on the straight and narrow, what with all of the restrictions, fines, certain criteria that must be met each month ... I'm not making excuses for anyone but I've seen first hand how easy it is for them to give up.

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  21. I am so thankful for your relationship with Robert, and that you are kind enough to share some of it here with us. I will pray for Robert and look forward to the day that he will be released. Jail is scary, but God is bigger!

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  22. In response to you reply to Brandee, I think, especially as moms, there is a part of us that longs to be able to fix the problems and the hurts in our "children". It's natural.....thanks be to God though that because we know Him, we also know that He is all any of us need and that the power that we think we may have to fix is really a laugh in the face. I think God lets us think that for a bit, to appease our mommy hearts <3

    I find it truly amazing that God has brought your family together with Robert, for such a time as this <3 What peace that must give Robert, to know that he has a family who loves and adores Him and loves Him enough to lead him to His Father <3

    I cried reading this, your heart is beautiful....thank you for sharing the scarey, hurt places that you carry with you <3 Will be praying for you and Robert!!

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  24. Love and hate this all at once. Thanks for letting us into your world with your tender words.

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  25. Heartbreaking. Will be praying for your Robert.

    Stacy

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  26. I'm so glad you shared this. I knew a couple of posts ago when you said that jail turned to prison, it must be Robert. :( I can't help but believe that your presence and letters DID help with Robert's sentencing. (As far as the time he'll serve.) Maybe. I know it must have been priceless to him, either way. Bless you for holding out hope to him when it can't be easy. I'm praying for you all.

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  27. Tears are rolling down my face as I read this. Do you see how God has given Robert to you to cherish and love and pray for? I see how Robert sees the blessings he has been given. He has been given another chance - you.
    xo

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  28. This is so heart warming and humbling and encouraging all at the same time. Praying for Robert!

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  29. Shannan -
    your heart is sitting on my computer screen. I see it. I read it. I feel it. what a beautiful way to write of your love for this boy. He is blessed.

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  30. he is going to do great things mama, just you wait and see. this may be the ministry God has given him one day, and these here are the prep years. i pray Robert does amazing things for the kingdom while in that wretched place. and i pray for your mama heart as well <3

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  31. standing in my betty draper kitchen bawling for you shannon.
    god is in control. he is right there.
    your heart must feel like it can't take much more.
    what an awesome kid he is.
    god is aware...he knows. he LOVES him. He is patient.

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  32. Crying over this post and so encouraged all at the same time. This is how we change the world. How we mama those who need it and see them come alive. To speak hope to dark places and to never give up even when the world already has. To love like Jesus loves no matter how painful it is. I'm so challenged by this today. To love more. To be in it 'til the end with those I'm called to. Wholly. Thank you!

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  33. My heart breaks for you and your whole family over this -- but Robert seems like such a strong soul. Lots of prayers for you guys!

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  34. And so I begin praying for a kid who I haven't met and probably never will. Thank you for sharing your words and experiences and people here. My soul soaks up grace, beauty, and Jesus...good things to soak up.

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  35. please tell your boy that he has gained another prayer warrior today. That a middle aged momma of three with wild crazy curly brown hair in Washington state is talking to God about him while she is running on the tread mill, folding clothes, grocery shopping. May his very long journey be made lighter by prayers lifted up to heaven on his behalf. Tell him to be all God meant him to be...nothing else. Tell him he is loved.

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  36. I just read your post aloud to my 13 year old son. (we are both sick on the couch). He has never know want, or hurt. I choked back tears as I read. You and Cory are the one piece of constancy Robert has ever known.. He will make it through with you there to love him.You have touched the core of our 13 year old. You are the angel atop our tree.

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  37. You're a great mama to ALL of your kids Shannan. Thank you for being there for Robert and Haven and who knows how many others. You're my hero. Merry Christmas.

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  38. This has me in tears, but can I get an AMEN for Hope! True, certain, unwavering Hope. And peace. And forgiveness. And mama love. And big smiles.

    Continued prayers for Robert. Goodness, I love him and I don't even know him. Thank you for sharing him.

    xoxo

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  39. Such tough stuff. Thank you for bringing us into the journey with you...

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  40. SO raw and real..and moving. Prayers for Robert and for his mom and dad.

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  41. Sis, I continue to pray for Robert (my older brother/nephew/friend) so often and It is amazing to think of the impact he has made on our family and the prayers that will forever go out for him. I know the day will come and we'll all be together, as a family.
    BTW: I have a dear missionary friend who lives in Africa with me, but prior he worked in one of the Indian Prisons. It is only fate if Robert is placed at the same location and I hope that Jason or his wife will have some connections to other Christian workers in that prison to look after, disciple and love Robert during his time there. Keep me posted on where Robert is placed and let him know I too am proud of him and praying for his continued joy in the midst of trails.

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  42. OH GOSH! My heart.
    Being a foster mom, this REALLY puts things in perspective.
    OH GOSH! My heart.

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  43. Law. I've been gone too long and Calvin has different teeth and Robert's in a jam, and your heart is all busted up and pasted back together with grace. I miss you. I have lots of catching up to do. xo

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  44. This brought me to tears...in your words I recognized big pieces of my own son's story. You spoke from your heart and touched mine.
    Thank you for sharing. I will pray for God to cover your boy and thank Him for going with him into every situation! Peace to you.
    ~Rachel

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  45. This made me cry.

    I'm so sorry about Robert but so happy you've all found one another. At least some healing is beginning in his life. I love that he refers to you as Mom and it must feel amazing for him to have a family and adults that he can actually count on. Your stories about him doing kind things reminded me of how we're all great inside and that bad parents and horrible experiences change people. It sounds like the genuine and real Robert is sweet, thoughtful and good natured. You're helping him to get back to that state.

    I love that you love him. Prayers for all of you.

    xoxo

    TT

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  46. This is my favorite thing you have ever written, it just reeks of pure love. Love of a boy who was given little growing up, and yet still had enough to share with children living his same life, and the love of your family. Pure and willing to love with grace.

    Funny how a decision we would view as bad news is seen with hope by this young man. Praying for him, and so thrilled that he is growing in God's love and grace. God has a plan, thank you for sharing the journey with us.

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  47. Thank you for sharing. I need to read this, to see the other side of the "takers". I get so mad and bitter at those in our society who TAKE. Take lives, take things that are not theirs, take money that they didn't earn, take from those that work so hard to follow the rules....
    I know God sees them differently and you. I need to too.

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  48. I am proud of your biggest little. I pray for unending joy and peace wherever he serves his time. Lastly, I am proud of you and your strength.
    xoxo
    Heather

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  49. there really are no words, shannon. no words left. what you are doing is beautiful. love to you. and merry christmas! :)

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  50. Reminds me of something I saw last night. --> http://youtu.be/iUUmhnOPBdE I spend a lot of my life now amongst the "least"; I am one of the "least". And God uses the "least", the "weak", the "stained" for extraordinary, amazing things. God is also in control. He never wastes a hurt. He allows us sin/free will so we can learn to depend on him, so we can come away from ourselves and be humbled, so we can point our redemption to him and then minister to others through our hurts and brokenness. I see great things to come, this is only the beginning for Robert. xo

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  51. I just came upon your blog by way of "My Sweet Savannah"
    God lead me to this post
    My 24 year old son, was sent to prison on Oct 31, 2012, let me just
    say that he was trying to help an old school friend, he signed a lease for his "friend" who couldn't get an apt by himself-bad credit, and his mom had moved to Florida with her new boyfriend, leaving him out in the cold with no place to live.
    We had no idea our son did this.
    Until, we found out he was in jail, his "friend" had drugs and illegal guns in the apt. They arrested our son for being on the lease
    Court day came and the judge sentenced our son to prison for 9-11 years, with a mandatory of 5 years
    Your words describe exactly how I feel
    I pray for him constantly that he stays strong, and that God watches over him, protects him and helps him get through this
    My hear is breaking every minute of every day
    He tells me all the time "Mom I'm OK"

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  52. Jesus, take the wheel. 'abandonment more than stability.' Word.s.
    Loving, praying for your 'family'. this new year.

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  53. crying my eyes out.
    challenged to the core.

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  54. sending love and hugs to you all. I'm sure those 18 months/3 years seem so much more doable knowing he has family on the other side. That is the greatest gift you can give him and it will be the strength he needs to get through.

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  55. This morning I stumbled upon a beautifully written blog. With tears rolling down my cheeks-Dear Shannan, the world is a better place with you in it!

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