Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Have I ever noticed that one of – if not the – most famous command to rejoice is at the beginning of one of the most well-worn passages about anxiety and peace? I imagine Paul was keenly aware of the balancing act in rejoicing always and acknowledging the need for peace. After all, to recognize that we should press into the Lord rather than feel anxious is to understand that circumstances come about that test our peace and try our hearts.

We are in the middle of a spiritual burnishing.

When Asher appeared to want nothing but total separation from us back in October, we finally felt free to pursue selling our home. It was a difficult decision. But years of living in an less-than-friendly neighborhood coupled with a deep wish to be closer to our children’s extracurricular acitivites, made the scales tip irrevocably towards relocation. But Asher’s well-being and possible (although at the time, apparently improbably) return to us needed to be moved down the priority list where it could reside in a much healthier position.

Then we apologized and Asher suddenly broke. He began pursuing an emotional connection with us. He threw himself into victim mediation and walked out that process with each of his siblings. He grew in maturity and reasonableness regarding our expectations and even came to a point of acceptance for the safety plan. We finally sat together, all 9 of us, in the same room for the first time in nearly 3 years. It was strangely normal in so many ways. Asher was, once again, part of his family.

This movement forward was dizzying. Excitement began to build about the possibility of reunification. As our northern winter began to slowly thaw, we got our house ready to sell and continued to trek back and forth to visit Asher at JCF. He grew more affectionate in his behavior towards us and began showing real signs of enthusiasm for our visits. He also started showing interest in our lives and being a part of them. His desire to return to our home and not simply leave JCF appeared genuine.

It appears Asher has made honest heart and value changes.

Two weeks ago, after several conversations with staff and peers, Asher was given the opportunity to seek a release meeting. That means he was allowed to ask his group if they were willing to set aside their nightly group therapy time for 4 nights in order to allow Asher to walk through the program rituals of establishing eligibility for release of a peer. They unanimously agreed. Last week, after finishing those meetings, we had his monthly staffing and we were told that the following day, Asher’s release would be presented to 23 JCF staff and a final discussion and vote would determine whether our son was a confirmed release student or not.

Asher called us the next night to tell us that the vote passed – unanimously.

He is officially a release student whose time at JCF is now only determined by the logistics required to reintegrate him into the community. His estimated release date is June 6 – one day past his three-year mark of leaving our home.

We are overwhelmed.

And I am drawn, again, to the passage in Philippians. Rejoice and be anxious for nothing. Our house is not selling even though we are competitively priced in a seller’s market. Rejoice that we have a home and don’t be anxious about the selling of it. Our son is coming home even though we still have questions about how this transition will affect him and us. Rejoice that this moment of reconciliation is taking a giant leap forward and don’t be anxious for the inevitable ups and downs that will come with this new season. I recently underwent a major operation and we are working through the finances of it. Rejoice that the procedure was successful and my health is intact and don’t be anxious over the bills. Ginny is graduating and our younger children are chin-deep in year-end activities. Rejoice in these milestones and don’t be anxious for the scheduling and calendaring of the different activities.

Do not be anxious, Teeli, because you have access to the great Throne of Grace through Jesus Christ and may boldly present your requests before God. He knows all your needs and has the riches to supply every one. He hears the cry of your heart and knows the weakness in your spirit and loves you still. Jesus brings life abundantly but when the enemy wants to convince us that his motives to steal and kill and destroy are invincible, Christ renews our strength to brings about a peace that surpasses all understanding.

I am scared beyond words for this next chapter to begin. I want to be giddy and nothing but excited. The truth is that Jesus is honored in my obedience to pursue reconciliation and He will work in (and on) my heart.