“Abandoned Faith” by McFarland and Jimenez: A Book Review

Several years ago, as I began writing my book, Pouring In, I talked to a mentor friend of mine who had three adult children. Deb was/is older and wiser and we have known each other since I was in high school. I wanted her thoughts on the idea of passing on faith to our kids. Deb is a godly woman whom I greatly admire and I fully expected her to say her kids are passionately following the Lord, or at least still going to church.

As awesome as Deb is, as much as she loves God, and even though I know she has modeled Christ in her home, the directions her kids were taking caught her off guard. She wrote of her dismay at her kids wanderings in an email to me. I didn’t know what to think. She loved the Lord like no one I had ever known. She probably did almost everything right. How could they stray?

In a recent study, LifeWay Research, and Fuller Youth Institute estimated that over half of high school graduates will leave the church and become disengaged in their faith. (page xvi)

As a result of much research, I am painfully aware that a majority of kids raised in the church leave the faith when they leave their home. With a daughter graduating this year, this reality scares the begeebees out of me!

Abandoned Faith is an excellent resource for parents whose millennial has walked away from theABANDONED-FAITH-BUY-NOW-1 faith and for those who are currently launching. This book offers parents encouragement and hope that they can still make a difference in the lives of their grown children. The voice of a parent always matters.

As I must entertain the possibility that either one of my daughters could walk away from their faith, I am starting to face the regret McFarland and Jimenez talk about in the book.

Living with a seventeen year old is difficult. I find myself in turmoil as the familiarity of life as I once knew it fades away. I grieve the fact that our family unit will never be the same.

There is a sorrow that comes as kids become young men and women. Sorrow because you miss those little people that adored you, and sorrow for the sinful, imperfect human beings they have become.

It’s too easy to overlook the pain of parents when all the attention is on the problems of their children. Yet, if we are going to win millennials back to Christ, we first need to win parents back to hope and healing. (page 9)

I remember when I was eighteen to twenty-something. I was young and stupid. Most eighteen to twenty-somethings are. We all know that wisdom comes with age and experience. It is what it is.

My eighteen year old daughter is beautiful, smart, kind, and loving. In the words of Aibileen from The Help, “she (you) is smart, she (you) is kind, and (you) is important!” She always did well in school and loved God. We couldn’t be prouder of her.

At the same time, I worry. I see the flaws in her character—flaws we all have. I see her trying to get away with things. I see her being uninterested in her faith. And I grieve the better person she would have been if I had been a better parent.

You can’t help but think, What went wrong? Even if the answer is, nothing. Nothing other than your kids had an imperfect parent, and they happen to be human. As a wise person once said, even Adam and Eve rebelled, and they did have the perfect parent!

The fact is, there is not one single parent alive in this world free of regret. We all have regrets and know other godly parents who do as well. (page 11)

As a parent, it is impossible to look back and believe you did everything perfectly—because none of us have. Hindsight is 20/20.

What do I regret? Here are some things, to name a few.

  • I regret not having a consistent prayer time as a model for my kids.
  • I regret that I didn’t start reading Scripture with them when they were little.
  • I regret not making my kids do band, choir, or a sport—they struggle to have a consistent friend group.
  • I regret not being more consistent with our discipline.
  • I regret not controlling their screen time/social media time better
  • I regret that we brought our baggage into our parenting

I sometimes wonder how much better of a parent I could have been if I had not brought myself into the mix.

Holding on to regrets prevents you from experiencing true freedom in Christ…Being tossed around by waves of regret is actually where Satan, the great Adversary, wants you to be. He doesn’t want you to let your regrets go. (page 13)

Satan wants our regrets to eat us alive. Abandoned Faith encourages parents to look at their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward to a better relationship with their child. We must stop feeling responsible for our young adult children. Did we make mistakes in parenting—yes. However, we probably did a better job than we realize despite the wanderings of our kids.

At some point, parents need to let go of the guilt from mistakes their young adult children make. At some point, they are no longer responsible.

Let there be no more regrets—only anticipation of the coming blessings. No more doubts—only hope in knowing that God has placed you in your millennial’s life for a divine purpose. God has uniquely equipped you to minister to your children. (page 19)

How are my girls going to survive my parenting? By the grace, immense love, and goodness of our God. When my parenting job is finally done, and it soon will be, I must put my kids in God’s hands—far greater hands than mine.

 

Ready to Launch: The Final Countdown

In exactly eleven weeks from today, my daughter graduates from high school. It is the spring of my daughter’s senior year, the final countdown. She turns eighteen on Sunday and she is so ready to launch. The question is, Am I ready to let her? The answer is—no, I’m not. Even though I must, I will never be ready to let her go.

Several months ago, I realized the time of my oldest daughter listening to me had mostly passed. She’s over it. She’s over me. And I have to live with the statistic that says most likely she will walk away from her faith, at least for a time. Ugh!

She is going to a state university, which means she will be surrounded by mostly non Christians. Her roommate isn’t a believer, and while her boyfriend is a great kid, he isn’t a believer either. Strike one, strike, two, strike three! She has stacked the deck against her faith. Is her faith strong enough to stand? I certainly hope so. Only time will tell.

As the clock winds down, the question is, What have I missed?

I am a procrastinator. I have always thought, I’ll have one more trip with her…one more summer with her…one more spring break with her…. And then I woke up one day to realize my last chance had already come and gone. I don’t have one more.

Do I trust God with my child? Do I trust a God who has given her free will?

Of course, I love the concept of free will—when I’m talking about myself or my peers. When it comes to my kids, not so much. However, God has given her, as he has given me, the opportunity to choose him, or not. It is a sobering reality.

When my girls were little, their dad and I held their “free will” in our hands. We decided religion for them. Their “free wills”  were in safe keeping with us until they were old enough. We took them to church, youth group and signed them up for VBS and summer camp. We tried to pack the knowledge of God and His Word into their little heads and hearts.

Eventually, however, the time does come to give them ownership of their free will. As uncomfortable as it is, we must allow them to have it. They must choose who they will live for and what they will believe about the world and truth.

Have I done everything I possibly could to pass on a strong faith in Christ to her in the last eighteen years? Not a chance. As parents, we always come up short. Daily I see things that I have neglected to teach her well enough. Don’t get me wrong—she is a wonderful kid—an awesome kid. No doubt about it. She will grow up to be a good person. But, I am setting the bar higher than raising her to be a “good person.” I want her to love the Lord and follow him.

My best is all I can do for my daughters. Yet, it isn’t enough. I know this. I grieve this reality. The only perfect parent is our Heavenly Father.

An excerpt from Pouring In . . . . 


Last summer Emily had knee surgery. As they were preparing her for surgery, I gazed at her face. It hadn’t changed since she was four years old. She was my sweet, freckle faced, beautiful girl. My girls are beautiful and precious. It’s hard to believe that I could love anyone as much as I love them.

I held her hand as the nurse secured her IV. Within a few seconds her eyes rolled back in her head and she was making strange sounds with her mouth. Her body convulsed in shock. I thought she was having a seizure. The nurses ran in to attend to her. She turned pale and grabbed her chest. What is happening? I thought! Panic swept through my body as I caressed her forehead and tried to soothe her. It was terrifying. Emily’s body seemed to be fighting something and I couldn’t do anything to help her. Jesus, please help my sweet Emily, I prayed.

The episode was short and she quickly regained consciousness. Color returned to her face as sweat dripped off her brow. Even though the incident was short-lived, and she was fine, those twenty or thirty seconds felt like an eternity.

There is nothing more terrifying to a parent than to see your child unconscious and convulsing. I thought about how much I loved my girls, and how losing either one of them would end me (it wouldn’t—God is good). These girls are my lifeblood. They are my beating heart.

The intense love a parent has for a child is a beautiful part of life. Love makes life worth living. The greatest job I have as a parent is loving my children. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not.


After loving my firstborn for so long, letting go is hard. It’s like losing an arm or a foot. She is part of me. However, I have to remind myself that she was only on loan to me for a time. She was never really mine, she was always His. She is a child of God. And nobody will ever love her more than He does.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00