The Lesson Found at Ms. Judy’s Mailbox
(Today just felt like retelling a story that brings joy to my heart. I’m still here – I’m just in a quiet season right now, where the words are few. It’s like I’m steeping in something new. I can’t put words to it, but I know at the right time, He will give me the words.)
The little years seem like once-upon-a-time ago – but it was once upon a time in the little years, when a little boy wanted to run away. He didn’t like his new room in the new house built in the woods near the creek. He missed his raspberry sorbet room with the blue and white ticking in the suburbs. The joyful little boy had misplaced his joy in the move and wanted to run away, back to the suburbs – so he did.
His bigger brother still little came running into the kitchen while their mama stirred a pot of something good, holding a littlest on her hip.
“Mama, he’s run away,” said the bigger brother.
“Let me know when he goes past Ms. Judy’s mailbox,” she said, stirring the pot, soothing the baby.
“But, Mama,” he stammered, unbelieving (because, he just knew, that if it was him, he’d go beyond the mailbox).
“Just let me know when he goes past Ms. Judy’s mailbox,” said the mama.
Every 5 minutes, the bigger brother came back, flummoxed why his mama hadn’t flown outside to save his brother.
“Where is he?” she asked.
“At Ms. Judy’s mailbox.”
The little boy who’d misplaced his joy never went beyond the mailbox. His mama knew he wouldn’t. However, she knew the one who so worried about him, she knew that if he took it into his head to run away, he’d be down the road, onto the highway and halfway to where-ever he wanted to go before anybody knew.
That night, when the moon came out, the boys were tucked into their beds all snug, bedtime stories read, songs sung and prayers said – and all the hearts and minds that lived in the new little house in the woods near the creek slept in peace.
A few years later, when the little boys grew long legs that stretched for independence – the bigger one did leave home before he was really ready. The little brother who’d once misplaced his joy cried at his leaving and blamed his mama, not understanding. The bigger brother, he went past the mailbox about 4 times, and 4 times his mama found him, brought him back, knowing he wasn’t ready yet. Until one time, he packed all that was important to him and left, right after graduation.
The mama, she didn’t go get him. She stirred over the pots in the kitchen, matched socks, shook out the rugs. At night, she tucked the littlest ones in bed – because there were more little ones then. She read bedtime stories, sang songs and said bed-time prayers – and all the hearts and minds that lived in the growing older house in the woods tried to sleep in peace.
While the mama stirred those pots, though, she prayed. God knew what her son needed. She asked that God help her. Then she asked that God stand with her. Then she asked that God would help her let go and let Him help her son.
Some time later, her son walked through the back door of the growing older house on the edge of the woods, realizing that where he had been was not where he needed to be. As he grew stronger, he prepared to leave again, this time with a proper packing and a proper farewell, on a journey that took him closer to God and closer to God’s plan for His life.
As all the littles grew, the joyful one misplaced his joy again, misplaced who he was to God and to the family. One day, he packed his treasures, a table and a bed – and moved to a place he didn’t need to be.
The older brother, who’d so worried about him all those many years ago, who’d say, ‘Mama – aren’t you going to fetch him home,” who thought he’d go past Ms Judy’s mailbox, had found his bearings and in the finding made a home near the little house in the woods – he came to his mother, worrying, “Tell him to come home, Mom. He doesn’t need to be there.”
His mother stood in the kitchen, stirring a pot of something good, looked up at him, this boy who towered over her now, gave him a wry smile that contained sadness for the one who’d left and joy for the one who’d returned, saying, “Remember when you left? Telling you that you needed to come home only made you stay longer. The less I say, the sooner he will be home.”
The brother who’d lost his joy for a while, misplaced who he was to God and his family – one day, he remembered, and in the remembering, came home to the growing old house at the edge of the woods with his treasures, his table, and a bed.
In the growing older house in the woods by the creek, he grew stronger, reclaimed a bit of his joy and who He was to God and his family. Refreshed, he started hearing the call of the Father – until one day, he properly packed a bag, received a proper farewell, and set out on a journey past Ms. Judy’s mailbox on a God-designed journey just for him.
The Story after the Story
Some children launch by the book – and other children launch by, well, the other book – the one we don’t want to buy, the story we don’t want to read. It’s the hard story. It’s the story full of heart-aches so deep you know your soul has toes – it’s that deep. It’s also a faith story, a story of redemption. It’s the dirt, grit and grime of the story that nobody wants to touch. A lot of people might want to talk about it – but they don’t want to touch it – with their hearts, with their prayer, with their faith.
It’s the dirt of rebellion, the grit of selfishness and the grime of sin that Salvation leaned down into, grabbed it by the filthy arms and pulled it up, took it on a journey, journeying along, and in the journeying along, washed the stains, the filth, the grit away. Salvation fixed the brokenness, both deserved and undeserved – until, somewhere in the journey, a new man was born again.
Sometimes, this happens because a mama somewhere loved enough to let go – and let God.
Think of Hannah who took an itty bitty Samuel to the temple, and let go of his hand – and let God.
Think of Manoah’s wife had to let go of a rebellious son – and let God redeem him.
and Jochebed who let go of the bulrush basket holding her son – and let God.
or Rebekah who stirred up a mess and sent Jacob away from home, who let go – and let God.
Today, I want to pray for those mama’s, whose children are taking the hard way. I want to pray that God bring them a peace beyond understanding that He’s got this. This is His job now – what He does best – work His saving grace in places we cannot.
I pray that in the letting go, you don’t feel as if you given up, quit before the job is done, didn’t love enough. I pray that you see that you love enough to let God, that you didn’t quit – just that your task is complete. For now, you’ve done what you’re supposed to do. Now it’s time to let God.
I pray that you realize the greatest love we can give someone is to sometimes let them go – even into uncomfortable situations. I pray that when you wrestle with trusting God that His determination to save your child is greater than the devil’s determination to destroy your child – I pray that you tell God you’re struggling with this trusting and believing because sometimes the right-now really hurts, really doesn’t look like it can come about right. He won’t get mad or be disappointed. He’ll love on you, comfort you. I pray that you ask Him to stand with you, to hold you close – because He is the kind of God that can save another while holding you, too.
I pray that you have dreams of salvation coming instead of nightmares. I pray that you find God messages in the daily, of God’s sweet encouragement that He has joy planned for you – and for the ones you love. I pray that He give you glimpses of who He created your child to be.
I pray that He surround you with people who believe that God’s got this – and I pray that He will surround you and your child with people who pray faith, pray love, pray hope until both you and your child are stirred in it, simmering in it, suffused with it, like a pot of good things on a loving mama’s stove-top.
Pity that I’m only allowed to click ‘Like”.
Because I love this.
Thank you, Andrew – God doesn’t waste anything. He manages to redeem the hard and hurting places in ways we cannot imagine or fathom. One of my favorite quotes is from the Alvin C York movie, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Wishing at times that so many didn’t require so much mystery – but then maybe we wouldn’t discover God’s deep and abiding love if we didn’t.
So beautifully expressed … touched so deep from the littles to the beautiful young men. Praying for my beautiful boy / man to find his way back to the plans, purposes and the arms of our Heavenly Father
God doesn’t waste anything. He manages to redeem the hard and hurting places in ways we cannot imagine or fathom. One of my favorite quotes is from the Alvin C York movie, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Wishing at times that so many didn’t require so much mystery – but then maybe we wouldn’t discover God’s deep and abiding love if we didn’t.
What a beautiful story. It read like a fairy tale. Best thing I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for sharing this wonderful heartfelt story.
Fairy tales have the hard parts, don’t they – and then the knight in shining armor saves and redeems. I’ve always felt fairy tales were really examples of God stories. Thank you for stopping by and leaving such kind words!
So lovely. I’ve got some who are getting ready to launch and it’s a scary thing for a mother’s heart. Praying that I do well at “letting go and letting God.” 🙂 Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Each of us were designed for those launching moments. I’m comforted now that I understand God isn’t surprised by any of the challenges – He knew before we did – and He has the plan activated to save. I’ve learned to invite him to stand with me. He stands close when I do that!
I needed this. Thank you Maryleigh,
God doesn’t waste anything. He manages to redeem the hard and hurting places in ways we cannot imagine or fathom. One of my favorite quotes is from the Alvin C York movie, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Wishing at times that so many or so much didn’t require so much mystery – but then maybe we wouldn’t discover God’s deep and abiding love if we didn’t. He’s got this, Debbie – He’s got the plan going. He’s not surprised. He’s working right now to overcome the challenges!
Oh how you must understand the heart ache of a mother whose children have “gone past the mailbox” before they should have. I have 3 that have done just that and your words were a cool drink for my soul today. I have given and taken back and given again to the only One that can heal all involved. Thank you so much for sharing and lifting my head once again.
God doesn’t waste anything. He manages to redeem the hard and hurting places in ways we cannot imagine or fathom. One of my favorite quotes is from the Alvin C York movie, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Wishing at times that so many or so much didn’t require so much mystery – but then maybe we wouldn’t discover God’s deep and abiding love if we didn’t. I ’m comforted now that I understand God isn’t surprised by any of the challenges – He knew before we did – and He has the plan activated to save. Praying that we both invite him to stand with us during the hard. He stands close when we do that!
So beautiful in its tender trust and love for God and her prodigals…I really wish we could sit and talk…I appreciate you sharing your wisdom….hard won wisdom…love and hugs to you 🙂
Dolly, I’m a much better writer than talk – but I would love to sit long and talk much with you. You are such a beautiful encourager! Hugs right back at you!
You and I have this matter in common, Maryleigh, moms of all sons. Thankfully two of my boys have stayed close to home in a spiritual sense. But one is sort of a meanderer now. He’s my baby and though he lives at home, working full-time this semester and doing school online, I think I need to take your advice to heart. I’ve “babied” him too much and he’s had a hard time finding his place in the adult world in a way. Though he is working and doing “adult things,” he tends to remain immature in his faith–if he has a faith at all. Sure, he goes to church. He even plays in the band. But he hasn’t made his faith his own just yet and I believe that’s because I’ve made too many decisions for him. I need to trust that my prayers simmered over the stirring pot are enough. God is more than enough to keep this boy–“man”–on the straight and narrow. Thanks for your insight, my friend!
Each of y boys has matured at different times and different ways – and their challenges have come at different times. It’s hard to let go – and let them fall, but even babies learning to walk do – I think there’s a lesson in that. If babies can fall and get back up – maybe that’s God’s fore-knowledge of what’s coming. I think we’re both simmering prayers and stirring the pot now – when I’m in the kitchen, stirring (which the boys at home demand I do – LOL) – I’ll pray for you and your son – because when two are in agreement – things happen!
Love, love, LOVE this, Maryleigh. Here’s to us…letting go & letting God!
Praise Him for dreams of salvation & celebratory returns!
Thank you, Lisa! I’m right there with you – learning to let go and let God!
Oh, my word! I have loved many of your posts, but, by far, this is my favorite…ever. I have sat here and cried as I read it. SO very touching…and so well-written….and SO moving to a loving Mama’s heart. Thank you for this, sweet friend. God bless you for being obedient to write and share what He has taught you and laid upon your heart. You are a blessing!
It was one of those posts where God said, “Now – do it now” – and my heart was so grieving for people I love – who love their kids just like I do – who have been vigilant and faithful. I also remembered those who prayed and still pray for me in the hard places. It’s special to me, too – God gave it to me – in the daily walk and then one night last week – put it all together for me so I could give it away. When I walked through it, I know I cried and cried – and God collected every tear drop:) Thank you for understanding!
Like Cheryl I have been sitting here crying. I just discovered you today and I don’t think it was by accident. I have one son who has chosen the wrong road many times. Over the years I have learned to keep quite and pray, but this time as I see him once again choosing the road I think is wrong I am coming undone. I have practically thrown myself down on the road to stop him, but as you said that is not helpful. My sons name is Samuel, I joke my mistake was not taking him to the temple and leaving him when he was a toddler.
Thank you for the beautiful prayer I feel it is just for me. God is good.
Adrian, I’ve taken my time replying to the comments because I wanted to make sure, even more than usual, that I honored the mother’s hearts struggling – because I know how deep and raw the hurt is. I’ve seen dear, loving, God-daughters hurting, too – in similar battles. I want to assure you that God isn’t surprised. God’s got this – he knew what these struggles would be even before our children first walked – and He’s got the plan. There’s a phrase that’s stuck with me the last week that I heard somewhere – that somewhere along the way their life becomes their story and they’ve got to live their story. We just become stock characters who encourage a long the way. I’m trying to adjust to that – to let them take the pen for their story. It’s hard – letting the pen go! Praying, Adrian, that God’s peace come over you in this challenge, in this releasing of the pen. Praying you invite God to just stand with you – and be comforted!
Beautiful, beautiful! I am touched by these words: that God will “work His saving grace in places we cannot.” You understand the pain and the hope of waiting for a child to come “home.”
Thank you, Constance, for the kind words and understanding the faith and hope of the wait in this story – the redeeming wait!
This is a beautiful story all by itself, but the truth behind it — a mum who prays and a heavenly Father who sustains and corrects — these are priceless. Glad to have found your words today.
Thank you for taking in the story – and understanding God’s abiding faith in the story of each of our children! Blessings to you!
This is a powerful story, and I love the wisdom and truth in it. I will remember this and tuck it away. I’ve needed these words before, and I might need them again. Thank you for your encouragement to trust God in these kinds of hard situations.
God’s got this – doesn’t he – the letting go and the saving!
Beautiful story, well told. I love how you connected it to biblical mothers. First time I realized that Rebekah finally set go.
Jacob’s story has been dear to my heart – Rebekah told him to go. She might have encouraged the circumstances because she wanted him close – but in the end, she let go – and let God. Thank you for taking the time to come by! Wishing you blessing and grace in your week!
This is my brother and it has hurt my family so deeply. We pray and wait and love.
God doesn’t waste anything. He manages to redeem the hard and hurting places in ways we cannot imagine or fathom. One of my favorite quotes is from the Alvin C York movie, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Wishing at times that so many and so much didn’t require so much mystery – but then maybe we wouldn’t discover God’s deep and abiding love if we didn’t. God isn’t surprised – God knew this before it even happened. He was prepared. I see some in the family who became angry at them for the hurt and the wrong – but God doesn’t want that. He wants even the sheep who stay close to the shepherd to hope, believe, try to see them as he does – and forgive. Because at some point, they will need that support in order to forgive themselves.
WOW! This is powerful, beautiful, and so real, so touching. I am a childless woman yet pray for “our” children often. This brings my heart even closer to God to pray for the children of this world. So thankful I came by from Sandra’s for I have been blessed.
So glad you came by, too, Linda. You have such a heart for intercession and spiritual mothering. So many out there need women like you in their lives!
What a lovely post to start my day. You have a fabulous gentle compelling way to entice readers to keep reading. My true faith didn’t happen until I reached 50. For that reason my children don’t really know Jesus. But I have two little grandchildren who do. God will work in His way to reach the rest of them. They all walk in truth, in love and in peace so deep down Jesus is inside them. They just haven’t acknowledged it yet.
I can’t wait to see some haiku examples. I haven’t taught it since teaching in the public system – grade 4-5.
I’m believing with you, Janis, that your children will know God deeply – that it will be real relationship with the Father! God never gives up!
This is beautiful. I’ve launched two of mine so far, and the road has been nothing but glorious. I pray the same for my other two children.
Praying the same with you, Barbie!
Hi Maryleigh! Oh man, raising kids is so hard. Thank you for showing all of us that there is no ‘perfect launch’ and sometimes those kids leave when they’re not ready. And love lets them go, waiting for God to fill them with wisdom.
It reminds me a lot of the Prodigal Son. No, we haven’t failed, but it can feel like that. Prayer changes things, right in the middle of stirring pots…
Raising kids is not for the faint-hearted! You are so right! Stirring the pots in faith with you, Ceil!
This is such hard stuff, Maryleigh. Not just for the child, but for us mamas too who have to watch it happening and feel so helpless. But yes, you’re right that we can always pray and turn to the Father to do the heavy lifting for us when we are powerless to do it.
Helpless is an apt word for how it feels – powerless, too. I love how you talk about the father doing the heavy lifting – that visual is so liberating! Thanks for coming by and extending the conversation and encouragement!
My gosh, how eloquent, what a wise and wonderful story of letting go of our children. This comes when my son who will be 18, has moved away from God, other things too important, so your words clarify what my heart knows. Keep praying, trusting God holds him, and he will return. I know when he says our ‘goodnight mom, God bless’, that God is within his heart. Truly a stunning post!!
Visiting from nextdoor at #RaRaLink Up!
We’ve planted – it’s there – isn’t it! God honors that! Waking in faith with you in this mother journey! Thank you for adding your encouragement to the conversation.
What picturesque writing –several key lines caught my ear and my eye delightfully. What an exciting return by your eldest, back past Ms. Judy’s mailbox.. back to reconciliation, to joy, and to God’s leading on the best adventure!
Adventures always contain hard challenges – don’t they! So glad I’m trusting God’s leading on this adventure.
Your wisdom spills over, and clearly, you have hit tender spots in such a way that we are compelled to seek the face of the Father – if we have children old enough to leave the house or not – to pray these prayers of protection and wisdom and the letting go. So grateful to know you and to read your words.
Maryleigh, your open, honest, transparent writing drew me to your side, standing there in your kitchen at the stovetop…seeing through your eyes, praying for my children and grandchildren…When I am praying, I picture Jesus Christ, my Shepherd, in the green pasture of the 23rd Psalm. As I pray, I take whatever concern I have, or the person for whom I am interceding by the hand. I walk out to the meadow, the green pasture, and I place my concern, or the hand of the person for whom I am interceding, in Jesus’ hand…knowing that He is sovereign, He loves me, and He loves the person for whom I am interceding more than I do. He has a plan, a hope, and a future for each of us…and I walk away, thanking God for how He is working in my life and in the lives of those for whom I am interceding. I experience a feeling of peace…as Catherine Marshall prayed, “Lord, I trust You…You know what You’re doing…I relinquish my will to Yours.” Many blessings to you!
Thank you so much for sharing this! It has encouraged my heart so much!
A dear Pastor taught me to let go when my son was in a rebellious stage at the age of 19 and still living at home. He told me that I had raised him for 18 years and now I needed to trust God and let Him go. In the letting go, my son started to establish his own boundaries and became obedient once again even though he was 19.
That same son is now married and I’ve had to let go in an even harder situation, in that he is an alcoholic, something that became apparent in the last year. I spoke to him once about it and we had a good conversation, but I promised him and myself that I wouldn’t bring it up anymore.
But your statement, “I pray that when you wrestle with trusting God that His determination to save your child is greater than the devil’s determination to destroy your child.” gave me such incredible encouragement to keep believing that God can break the chains of addiction.
You have blessed me so much with this post. Thank you.
At once heartbreaking and encouraging — knowing we can trust God with our children, even in soul crushing situations. Reminds me of the lyrics, “I have returned to the God of my childhood…”
Beautifully written and a powerful message to share! I did not hear it the first time so it was a great thing to have you share it again. I think we sometimes do well to reblog something we have written when many who read us now did not know us when we first posted it.
Beautiful story. You are such a gifted writer.
Loved these words today, MaryLeigh! Our three daughters are all launched now; yet there is still so much to pray and ponder over. I loved this statment: “I pray that when you wrestle with trusting God that His determination to save your child is greater than the devil’s determination to destroy your child.” I have hope; because I know God’s determination is always greatr.
Jerralea, this post is so dear to my heart! I am so glad someone else enjoyed it, too – though it isn’t an easy story to always walk out. I just launched my first “linky” – if you’d want to stop by and upload a post to it, please do! Shalom, ~ Maryleigh (https://bluecottonmemory.com/remember-me-monday4/)
This is so beautiful. I think I read it before on your old blog, but it still touched me as much now as it did back then. I love the way you write, and the wisdom you share.
I think the ones I write that go the most to my heart are the ones where another parent is experiencing a similar challenge I’ve walked through – and this is how I find a way to say it without complaining or listing challenges and heart aches – but God shows me how to bring the threads of it together in a kind of faith story. The hard stories need tender telling. I am so glad you feel about it the way I do! Every time I read it, I just want to cry and praise God for bringing us through with his grace and mercy!
Lovely pointed story, well written with a message. It’s easier to see the heart of a story if you have been through one yourself. I will remember this line in your comment, the hard stories need tender telling, as I pen my book down. It’s a hard story but one full of God given courage to be faithful to His word.
Betty, I love that you went to this story – it is one of my very favorites! Looking forward to the tender telling of your story! ~ Shalom, Maryleigh
This is absolutely beautiful. So deep and rich yet comforting. Thank you for resharing this beautiful story.
Such reminders in your post of who is in control. Thank you for visiting Sunday Scripture Blessings, even though I’m not doing Sunday Scripture Blessings, feel free to share your wonderful blog stories with Pictorial Tuesday as I’ll probably incorporate scripture within that link up on Tuesdays.
So glad you stopped by! Looking forward to Pictorial Tuesday!