Grace: here for us; here for you

IMG_0024It’s pretty quiet around here now — much too quiet. We walk around with a hole in our hearts. It’s a gaping hole, not a little puncture wound. We cry a little bit every day.


Chandler’s bed is made up nice and straight. It looks just like it did yesterday; that’s because it is. No one has touched it. It takes courage or an unhealthy forgetfulness to even walk through his bedroom.

Marti and I have been under the radar for some time while contemplating what decisions are best when caring for Chandler. We experienced many sleepless nights, and are constantly praying.

Finally, after exhausting all other options, we have determined we must place Chandler in an out-of-state residential treatment center. This has been, for us, the most difficult conclusion we have ever experienced and one that was, obviously, not made in haste.

Children turning against one or both parents is commonplace and has nothing to do with anything we can fully understand. We think — no, we don’t think … we know — that what is happening with Chandler now is one of his greatest battles, scheduled to unwind from his soul and take place out in the open air in the fullness of time. Marti says she was born with about six of these battles in her soul, and out they came, in turn, and it was devastating. You, probably had about this number, too. (I’ve kept all mine inside, which is worse.) And Chandler gets his. Feeling that we have failed him is completely understandable and completely not true. Yet we feel it all the time.

Actually, Chandler has been fighting battles his whole life that no child should have to fight.

Since he was very young, Chandler has overcome terrible obstacles every day. We don’t even know the extent of his pain, except that the carefree joys of childhood have escaped him. He somehow went from toddler to being a sad man and skipped all the fun part in-between. He is bright and gifted, loving, a joy to his family with a life full of promise. But as he made his way in his world, he was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities, including severe dyslexia. Early on, a panel of experts concluded that the best schools would not be able to even teach him to read, so he must be classed as mentally retarded. He has since proved them wrong. He can read, but not well enough to rise above the underachievers.

He could not have been more loved or safe than where he was — a precious part of our family. We provided greatly for his future and averted dire and increasing risks by contributing to his special education. However, something went terribly wrong, perhaps as early as this time last year. A promising young life became burdened heavily and early this last school year by deep and great trouble. All the pent-up frustrations of not being normal boiled up uncontrollably. It seems like we have spent a fortune on noted psychologists and special educational programs. Yet, the lure of unmotivated peers and his belief that he could not be who we believe him to be took its toll, resulting in a boy who came to believe that marijuana was the only thing that could calm his personal demons. He chose it over life itself. And it has, indeed, taken the life out of him.

Fearful that we could no longer keep him safe, we appealed to the local school district which became instrumental in securing Chandler’s placement in a highly-acclaimed and specialized treatment center where he will be for an undetermined amount of time. Thus, our much-too-quiet home.

So we have joined the ranks of those who face failure, sadness and scratch out hope every day. It is a painfully good place to be. It is a place where grace is raw, real and gritty. Not just something to talk about, but something you hold onto for dear life. We walk around in a little bit of a daze, feeling the loss as if there has been a death in the family. But the grace that is here for us is most certainly here for you, too. Take it. We all need it; it’s just that sometimes we forget why.

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34 Responses to Grace: here for us; here for you

  1. Julie Banks says:

    I am so very sorry for what you are going through. Sending prayers for you and your family and looking forward to seeing how God will work all this out.

  2. Dave T. says:

    Hey John and Marti, thanks for your transparency, I know it is not what you would have wanted at all, but as you say it is real and is happening. We all respect your challenging spot and keep you all in prayer. May the God of all comfort be just that for you and Chandler.

  3. Laura Jones says:

    Thank you so much for you honesty and sharing what your family is going thru. This is one of a parent’s nightmare and you are living it. No judgment here….because this could easily be me and I certainly understand the failure feeling you must be having. But, Chandler is his own unique person and God gave him the ability to make choices just like He’s given to you and me! Praying for Chandler and all of you as you endure the days ahead!

  4. After I saw your prayer request in the prayer list (not until Monday morning), I spent a long while praying for you and Marti and Chandler and Christopher and Anne. You will all be part of the tapestry that God will use to rescue Chandler. Only God knows what the future will hold. And while you are in a holding pattern, waiting, God will send something, someone, several someones your way to lift you up and to fill in the gap. And, He will do the same for Chandler where he is. The outcome might not look anything like you want, but God is hanging on to Chandler and helping you all to also. I’ll continue praying for you all. And praying that God will help you all know that you’ve been a fine family to Chandler. He’s still young. God never gives up on us. He’s a blessed young man. I pray he will realize it soon and find the strength through God’s loving grace to live like it!

  5. Clark Burton says:

    One of your greatest gifts as a writer is knowing just how much and when to disclose what is going on in your life. Thanks for sharing your pain as well as your joys. It helps us all to be more authentic. We are praying for you and your family.

  6. Jackie says:

    John and Marti, there is nothing more devastating than to have to make those very difficult decisions. Our family has dealt with the pain of drug abuse. I pray that you will find peace and comfort in the knowledge that God has his hand on Chandler, wants what is best for all of you, and that he loves Chandler even more than you do!

  7. TimC says:

    It’s hard. Been there. We adopted two girls from foster care, at age 3 and 5; daughters of a mom who who was trapped in drug abuse. They are now 21 and 19 and have had many struggles. The 19 year old is attempting to finish high school in the jobcorp program. The 21 year old and her 2 year old live with me, putting me in a near-constant state of anger with her repeated lack of responsibility (although, I will admit that she is working on it).

    It’s hard. I’m still looking for the place where Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

    I can read it, but I can’t find it.

  8. Mark Seguin says:

    Sincere & heart felt prayers & love sent the Fisher family way…
    Also God’s speed!

  9. Be encouraged John & Marti –
    The above comments along with the multiple cares and heartfelt prayers being directed toward you and your family, this is what the positive definition of codependence looks like.
    You’ve been there for us, we’re here for you – Blest be the tie that binds!

    “Let all who are discouraged take heart:
    If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
    if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” – Psalm 34 (LB/MSG)

    Shalom to you and yours!

    When you walk through a storm…
    Walk on, through the wind
    Walk on, through the rain
    Though your dreams be tossed and blown
    Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
    And you’ll never walk alone…

  10. Andrew P. says:

    John and Marti, I do not KNOW what you are going through, but as a parent and grandparent, I can IMAGINE — and I do not like the feeling. I am grateful that you were able to find someone who should be able to help Chandler, and I know that you know people who can help the two of you. We must always lean on the savior — but there are times we must lean harder. Lean hard, my friends.

  11. Bridget says:

    Just read what you and Marti are going through. I’m so sorry to hear this but glad that Chandler is going to get the help he needs. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  12. Lois Taylor says:

    We are praying right now and will continue to pray. God is in control. Do not fear.

  13. Barbara says:

    I know a bit of what you’re going through. I have been up and down this trail of sadness with addiction and mental illness. My middle son suffers from bipolar disease. Since he was 13 he’s had horrible addictions as well as mental problems living on the street for as much as five years at a time. The grace of God has been plentiful in my life. He has continually surrounded me with faithful Family and friends. With their love and support and continuous prayers and he is still surviving today. The grace of God has shown his face and these wonderful people. When I had to make the horrible choice of committing my son to a state institution for 90 days it felt like my heart has been ripped out. His father had passed away several years before and I was the one to make my choice by myself. Fearing for his life with addiction and mental illness I felt it was the only way he would survive. It did help for a while. What I want to tell you now is that after many years and he has made a good choice in his life. He has become a barber he has a career and he no longer is addicted to alcohol. His disease is still very much with him and there are flareups but he is by gods grace functioning in this world today. Oh yes I know the decision was hard and many times the path lonely but God does come through and walks with us. My prayers are with you both and with Chandler.

  14. Lori Miller Woods says:

    Sending my heartfelt prayers to you guys and for Chandler’s growth and care. I am a me too..sitting by you as you grieve for your son. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them close to his heart, He gently leads those who have young. Isaiah 40:11

  15. SteveRush says:

    Dear John and Fam’,

    i really feel your pain, as a grown-up ( but never quite so grown according to petfectionistic parenting – i’m certain that is not you ), now 56 year old ADDer and a redeemed pot & acid head to boot.

    And to this day, even, still do not enjoy a healthy relation with my 80+ year old mom, who i fear will not be living a long life.

    But why tell you all this, why indeed? Your art had been a small influence upon me early-on in my being seated with Jesus, and maube – just perhaps i can return a small-bit of the favor you’ve done one small insignificant member of your fan-base.

    You must love him, unconditionally – of course you know this – but how to implement it in a visible way; that is the challenge.

    If your son is anything like me, then he could be in danget of growing into middle-age never knowing his parents love – but only their judgement and contempt.

    How to work this out i have no answers for, i have not been a father – only a (failure of a) son and brother, according to how i feel.

    This’, of course, is the enemie’s own damn lie – and thankfully i have been seated at Jesus’ table over 30 years, and have been privileged to serve in ministry many of those years. I PRAY THE SAME CAN BE EXPERIENCED BY YOUR ILL SON, and not just in spite of his illness and addiction – but also because of it and through it in direct accord with the pure gospel truth of Romans 7-8; with a special emphasis upon the all things verse at 8:28.

    But who am i to minister to you? I, myself, have recently used weed again – its been legalized after all! I AM NOBODY – THAT’S WHO! BUT OUR LORD IS ALL WE NEED, AND HE WILL BE FAITHFUL to you, to your wife, and all you hold dear both now and in etetnity – of this i am confident because of being seated at His table.

    @theother_Steve

  16. SteveRush says:

    Reblogged this on the Truth Divide and commented:
    pray for John, and his family, please?

  17. Linda says:

    I am so moved by your sharing this with your Catch readers and being real with your struggle. Thank you for trusting us to pray God’s will for your lives and Chandler’s life. At this time, there has been so much encouragement and many wise words. I just want you, Marti and Chandler to know you are being lifted in prayer. You are not alone.

  18. Ginni says:

    We are praying for Chandler first, you and Marti second. May God hold you all up!
    We send our love, Adrian and Ginni

  19. Mendy says:

    Dear John and Marti – I too have faced these incrediably difficult decisions for my son. It was the hardest thing I have EVER done. My son was 16 and had 2 CPS reports filed against him. I was desperate and afraid. Neither his dad or my husband agreed with my decision to place him in a very specialized program to deal with sexual abusers. I could never explain the dread I had over relinquishing complete control of my son to virtual strangers nor the dread of his future I didn’t get him help. Additionally, it was such a taboo subject my resources for support were extremely limited. God, in all his good graciousness, supplied me with strength that I was completely unaware of, financial help from my adorable mom and dad, an ability to convince my son’s dad that he needed to contribute financial regardless of the fact he didn’t agree (or want to) and peace in the midst of the war zone. Most of this was only realized in 20/20 hindsight. There are a million other facets to the story, I just wanted you to know you are not alone in your grief. For me, if I’m honest, the hardest thing to do is trust when I am uncertain of the outcome (particularly when it can go so wrong). God patiently keeps teaching me that His ways are better than mine. Doesn’t mean I don’t go kicking, screaming and cussing into the trials though… it is why I love David and the Psalms so much, “never the less Lord, Your will not mine.” I just keep saying until my emotions catch up and I mean it. (Thank you June McCuistion).

  20. Catherine says:

    You are not alone John and Marti…we too are sharing in your pain, the loneliness of an empty house, the raw feelings of grief, loss, sadness, and at times believing the enemy’s lies. It does feel like a death..we are mourning a loss…not an actual death but it feels like it at times when the sadness hits us hard. We have been experiencing a similar situation with our son, (who has struggled with Autism/Aspergers and learning disabilities his whole life, feeling different from everyone) In our heart we know we are doing everything we can to help our son, and we try to stay strong listening to God’s voice instead of Satan’s lies…when we are most vulnerable. It isn’t easy for us…as you also expressed, but we are taking one day at a time…praying, trusting and leaning on God’s grace. Thank-you for your courage to be vulnerable with all the Catch readers…I value you and your wisdom. Praying for you and Marti, and for your precious son Chandler.

  21. Ann says:

    We, too, have a daughter who has chosen marijuana over her young children, over jobs, and often over friends and family. She continues to believe it is a harmless means of self-medicating even as she faces losing her parental rights and as she begins her umpteenth job of the year. (How does she keep finding work?) Her electricity is shut off, she faces eviction and yet, it is all the fault of others rather than the result of her choice to use marijuana. We are thankful she hasn’t (as far as we know) transitioned to harder drugs but this one has pretty much destroyed the daughter we love.

  22. Lyn Carr says:

    Praying for your sweet family…

  23. Steve says:

    Praying, Dear Ones.

  24. Susan paola says:

    Grace…patience, our Chandler is in a very turbulent time..His natural grandfather has been living with depression,anxiety,and a slowness in comprehension for 60 years as rs, now dying to throat cancer,smoke since 13..Chandler has inherited this, he is in a good place, being loved cared about is the best medicine for a teenage boy..Chandler is different, he comes from fire ,happy,headstrong Italian heritage, this m as y be the time he meets his family,he the more he is loved the safer he will feel..Being in fear doesn’t always show up as fear,depression sneaks in, Chandler wants answers, mom and dad give it to him..Family he has 100s of cousin living with his condition as you call it, We are not all the same and that’s a good feeling.. Chandler has to believe himself..This grandmother is here for him, and when he turns 18, I’m going to introduce myself…Time to be a man the law sats, well it will be time to find out who this man is to this big life. You both h as he given Chandler the best of times, he will love you forever, he knows his heart. Is full of love, for you have taught him well.Thank you …

  25. Tamra Hillis says:

    I just read yesterday’s Catch, and please know that I am praying for you, John, Marti and Chandler. You are appreciated for all that you do for your Catch Family, and I love you for it.

  26. Paula says:

    After reading your Catch, I wanted to share with you my story of recovery from addiction to pot, in hopes that it may help ease your mind, or your burden, or perhaps just make me feel like my story isn’t in vain. I started smoking pot when i was 14 after I was raped. My immature view of the depravity of “my” sin (having sex before marriage) was overwhelming to me and the beliefs that I held due to my Christian upbringing. It made the pain…go away. it made me happy and took my mind off of the heavy things in life that were just overwhelming to my 14 year old mind. I still attended church with my family and still smoked through my college years, living somewhat of a double life. But throughout the years, the Lord continued to work on me. He never gave up on me (here’s where I want to give you hope). After the birth of my first daughter, I quit for awhile, started again, quit again, started again. I wanted to quit, but honestly, I never really learned to deal with pain or emotions, and anytime stress or something bad would happen, I couldn’t handle the emotional weight of it all and would turn back to it. To date, I haven’t smoked pot in 4 years.

    The Lord worked and some very hard events in my life made me turn to HIM instead of pot. It hurt. The pain nearly turned to despair, to hopelessness. But He was faithful. And now, I can share that story (the longer version) with other people who struggle with smoking and want to quit. The guy on the train, the closet-smoking mom who can’t handle the rearing years – God has used my story to point others in that same situation to Him. What a blessing! My prayer for your son is that God does the same work in His life. That He turns this story into something so powerful that when your son gets to heaven, many there will say – “I’m here because of you – I changed my life because of you”. I hope that I meet some in heaven that say that to me as well. And that will make the times I went through all of that crap worth it. And I pray for peace for you and your wife. I know my parents spent many a nights up, on their knees for me during my prodigal years. But the reunion was oh so sweet. On the Victory Side!
    Many blessings.

  27. Toni says:

    We have walked your same journey, struggles in school, anger, life spinning out of control for our son at 17, drugs, all led to a similar intervention. OUR HEARTS BROKE over what we HAD to do to save our son. Recovery from substance abuse didn’t happen just because of the program he was in. Even after he left the program….one of the biggest lessons we learned was that “relapse is part of recovery”……so hang on, it may be a journey longer than you would like, but Halleluia, God is still in the business of rescuing young men like our son and Chandler….Isaiah 42:16 is a favorite verse of mine and promise of God. God also gave us a ministry we never anticipated to parents of hurting children. Best book for all hurting parents is Parent’s in Pain by Joe White. email me and I will send you a copy. God bless…..

  28. John & Marti, I am so, sorry for all the pain and heartache you are and have been going through. My heart truly aches for you. You and your family will be in my prayers for sure. And always, always, in all ways, in God’s care. May He embrace each of you with His love.

  29. Bridget Clay says:

    I am sitting here crying with the sadness of your loving decision and thanking God for the loving support of this community. I must admit I have not been faithful reading everyday but today I opened to read and my heart went crazy…I had to go back to find out what happened to Chandler. Happy to know he is getting the help he needs and praying for your whole family as you struggle with this tear in your family…My prayers are with you.

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