There’s only one explanation for Robin—Jesus. And also for her sons Miles and Jake. Robin and Jake are nurses currently caring for Covid19 patients. Miles serves as a teacher in Malaysia. Robin is also an award winning author, speaker, and leader of Higher Ground Outreach ministry for incarcerated women. What an honor to interview them during Teacher and Nurse Appreciation Week and in time for Mother’s Day, and to share their timely and timeless, inspiring and joy filled stories with you in these two videos and the article that follows.
Below, Robin shares about her book, The Greater Weight of Glory, and about forgiveness, grieving, parenting prodigals and rebellious teens, and ministering to those who do.
Here is my review followed by my Q&A’s with Robin:
The Greater Weight of Glory — “That’s my son!” said Robin, an ER nurse on duty as she moved to attended to the 21-year-old murder victim on that fateful night in 2002.
Whether you or someone you care for is a parent, a parent of a struggling teen, a nurse, a teacher, someone affected by drugs and alcohol, or have suffered the loss of a child, or want to help someone in those circumstances, Robin’s story and insights are sure to minister hope and encouragement and to educate.
The Greater weight of Glory is a true story of lost and found, a raw account of deliverance from a life of drugs and desperation. This is a story of one man’s death leading many to new life in Christ. A courageous mother shows us how the love of God heals broken hearts, conquers hate, and how forgiveness is possible and brings freedom. Hope rises as the cry of mourning gives way to the dawn of a new morning on the author’s journey to joy from wreckage to redemption and restoration that extends to her sons and into the community.
Robin, tell us about your book.
I started writing poetry when I was twelve and still do. But my first attempt at writing for real was my book, The Greater Weight of Glory.
“On January 26 2002 my life changed forever. My son Spencer Macleod was brought into the ER where I was working as a nurse, barely clinging to life from a stab wound to the heart. He was pronounced dead fifteen minutes later. It was then that I discovered his identity. He died coming to the rescue of a friend who was being attacked. My heart was shattered beyond description. And then began a long journey of darkness and pain on a road that was unknown and unpredictable.” Robin Farnsworth, SpencersMom.com
I was 53 when God spoke to me and said, “It’s time to tell the story.” He would not let me quit. I tried! I finished writing it eight years from when I first started, but I probably spent no more than a few months actually writing, maybe even a few weeks. I put it up high on a shelf for four years. My hope is that God would use it to minister to people’s deepest hurts, fears, and doubts.
What inspired the title of your book, the Greater Weight of Glory?
The Bible scripture II Corinthians 4:17–grabbed me years ago:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory II Corinthians 4:17 (NKJV)
It was as if Paul could see God’s eternal scale. This became more real to me after I lost my son, Spencer. When I saw that CS Lewis had used that verse too, I tried to find another title, but this was it. I don’t think he’d mind sharing!
How were you able to forgive your son’s murderers?
Forgiveness is a response, not an emotion, and it’s a command in the Bible. When we choose it, God is there to help us. Real forgiveness is not just the absence of hate but the presence of God’s love. God has used His love in me to help them.
Is your book, The Greater Weight of Glory, relate-able for seekers, for non-believers struggling with faith questions or in crisis?
I’ve received great feedback from non-Christians, or those “stuck” in their faith. This was my hope.
What can people do and say to help someone immersed in the grieving process?
The best thing to say immediately is “I’m sorry.” Hugs are always good. Stay away from promises like “I’ll call you next week.” or worse, “Call me if you need anything.” They won’t ever call you — they want their child back! The greatest gift is to be a good listener. Let them talk about the one they lost. And give them the freedom to be truthful. It is a beautiful and rare gift. Remember for the parent, there is no such thing as “closure” or moving past it. You will always be their mom or dad and the pain is always there. Jesus helps us carry it, but it’s there.
Some Things To Do:
- Practical stuff — help clean, take care of their kids, go out to lunch or coffee.
- Send a card now and then. After one month virtually all communication stops. The world moves forward but the grieving are caught in a slow-moving time warp. Grieving is exhausting and very lonely.
- Listen. Pray. Listen some more.
What Not to Do:
- NOTHING. You think they will not notice but they do. Don’t hide! You just increase their pain.
- Don’t give pat cliche answers like, “They’re in a better place,” “At least you have two more children,” or “Time heals.” Yuk!
- Don’t expect them to act “normal.” Just let them be as crazy as they want. It’s okay.
Do you think you would have the relationship you have with Jesus now had you not been through what you have?
The Bible calls this kind of crisis “tried by fire.” When you come through it, your faith is pure gold. I felt I had a very strong love for Jesus before I lost my son, but this was a road I could not walk alone. Jesus knew who I was and what I needed. I did not.
Other than read your book, what would you like to say to those going through similar tragedies?
Jesus is really all you need. It’s a series of choices—and it’s not the easy road, but the gain in the long run is beyond imagination. Only God can bring “beauty for ashes.” The world offers a lot of “quick fixes” but they don’t fix—they just numb or distract. Also, it does take a lot of time, and there are no shortcuts. But God is there! Right there, and Jesus has been everywhere you are going. He knows your pain, your anger, your despair. And His heart breaks with yours, but He is the mender of the broken heart. He will put it back together again. Yes, we will always miss our child, but there really is joy in the morning – a time when the darkness breaks. It comforts me to know I will see my son, Spencer, again in Heaven.
Did what you went through with Spencer affect your parenting of Miles and Jake?
Spencer was a lot like me — when he was bad, it was with great intensity, and when he surrendered to Christ, he walked the walk with great passion and zeal. There was no part-way. Miles and Jake, although they both detoured away from God in their youth, they were less frightening. But because of who I had been, I was not as worried about Spence as a lot of parents might be. I think in the book I said he was me with a big hoodie on. I knew his heart was good — he was just angry. God delivered him fully and completely, and he had a desire for others to know the same grace, joy and peace, so he prayed fervently and witnessed too. And both Miles and Jake had incredible respect for Spencer, his Christ-likeness. To this day, that shapes who both of them are in many ways.
When Spencer died, I became fearful that something might happen to my other sons. But I didn’t have the strength to carry all that fear, so I quickly asked God to remove it, and He did. I know that ultimately I am not in control. God gives and takes away, so I think I appreciate the gift of children and grandchildren more than I used to.
It was hard for me to reach into Miles and Jake’s hearts after Spence died. We were all hurting in such unique ways. I kept a journal and pleaded with God daily to help them, because I felt so inadequate. I knew Miles was in such deep pain and anger too, but I was powerless to bring healing. And Jake was only nine, so I purposed in my heart to just keep him close by, to be there physically anyway. When my brother died, I really felt abandoned. It was like both parents just checked out, so I wanted to be there. But in reality, I was mentally and emotionally tapped. I think God supernaturally filled in the gaps, with both boys. And that I chose to forgive Spencer’s murderers from the start set a standard in our home. I know now that God held them both securely, as He did me, but you can’t see that at the time. This is where faith, just a small amount, goes a long way.
How does a parent cope and keep their personal victory when the going is rough?
Coping strategies. Hmmm…Pray some more. There are times when being a godly parent feels very lonely. You have to get a hold of God and cry out to Him. Lay your children on His altar and thank Him for His love for them. This was the only way I found peace, truly resting in Christ, knowing Him as my shelter, my hiding place. Also, try to spend some quality time with just one child, all attention to them. Make it a memory, and just be who you are. I remember once Miles respectfully asked me to stop trying to be his pastor. “Just be my mom,” he asked. Okay, I got it. Just be what God made me to be. Whew!
Both Miles and Jake went through a rebellious stage but now serve God. Tell us a bit about that.
I sent Jake to Jacksonville, NC at my pastor’s suggestion when he was just shy of 16. Talk about tough love! But he went knowing that we knew it was God. About two years later, he fully committed his life to Jesus. In his senior year, he stepped down from basketball and began to hold Bible studies in school and witness to friends. After Jake became an RN he married Kayla, and they have two boys. He is deeply involved in his church. Maybe a pastor someday? I don’t know. I’m just a mom!
Miles traveled to Africa after college, following Spencer’s footsteps, and he said that there in the quiet jungle God got a hold of him and helped him forgive. He met Erin in college and they traveled around the world before getting married and having my first grandchild. By the time the second girl came, he was heading home to the states and heading home to Jesus too. Erin also gave her life to Christ, and they both served passionately in Raleigh NC at their church and Miles taught English and Global Leadership in NC. Their son, Quincy Spencer was born in 2016. They now work at a school in Malaysia.
What can others do to help parents and their struggling teens?
It would be great if we (Christians) stopped judging each other and our kids and just encouraged and prayed for each other. We shouldn’t have to carry a burden of shame because our kids are in rebellion, but too often our brothers and sisters are quick to judge and then we feel isolated. Parenting is hard, hard work. Let’s pray for them! I always have some prodigals on my prayer list and I know parents are so grateful for that.
What advice do you have for parents of prodigals, or whose children struggle, or who have not yet accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior?
We can get so focused on “working” on our kids so they can become this or have that, that we lose the ability to just appreciate them in the moment, who they are now. Our priorities are skewed. They are not ours, they are God’s, for Him to do as He pleases. Just love them, with a pure love and pray, pray, pray.
I would encourage parents to speak faith over their prodigal children. See them as redeemed and thank God for all He is doing that you can’t even see. Love them unconditionally, really! It’s hard, especially if they are rejecting the Jesus you love so much. But Jesus loved those who rejected him. On the other hand, do not compromise your walk with Christ to soften the road for them. Stand fast! Keep your rules and boundaries, and tough love is good love. Years later, all three of my sons thanked me for holding the standards and not shifting to please them. They thanked me for tough love. Your kids know you love them, but that doesn’t always mean pleasing them. Oh, and did I mention PRAY?
You can connect with Robbin on her Blog here: SpencersMom.com
Higher Ground Outreach ministry for incarcerated women. “Higher Ground prison ministry was a God given inspiration. My goal was to help “bad” girls like I once was. Inmates are inundated with programs, but God calls above what the world offers and firmly plants us on higher ground based on forgiveness—receiving ours from Jesus and forgiving others as redemption brings healing. Four women from my church accompany me weekly to minister at the Barnstable House of Corrections where we share our testimonies, listen and respond to the inmate’s questions about faith and life from a Biblical perspective.” — Robin Farnsworth
The Greater Weight of Glory, by Robin Farnsworth — Like a song. From the depths of unfathomable sorrow, Robin’s voice soars as her faith takes flight and crescendos as grief meets grace and she is comforted by The Creator, and with that comfort she comforts others. A powerful, convicting, beautifully written memoir.
The Greater Weight of Glory is an education in the grief process and how God is able to help, to heal and transform a life from a mess into a ministry, from beyond broken to blessed and beautiful. God truly saves to the uttermost. — Rachael M Colby
Robin, you are my hero because you use your pain to minister to others. You have yielded your weakness to Jesus, and through that, His great strength shines and you bring Him glory. I love you❤️, your friend and sister in Christ, Rachael
Excerpts from and Links to My Prior Articles in Appreciation of Mothers and Teachers
Know this, faithful mom—your measure is immeasurable. You bring things to your family that they can’t hire out, buy out, or do without.
You don’t have to walk this road or wage this war in your own strength. Jesus is the difference maker in our lack as we strive to find footing and guide our children on the right path. We can petition Heaven and storm Hell with our prayers and partner with our Maker, the Good Father, for their needs… Click HERE to continue reading my article on Southern Ohio Christian Voice. (While there, check out their other great articles!:) )
It’s easy to miss the journey en route to the destination—to overlook or brush aside the little things, the simple things. Sometimes in the midst of all the crazy tug of war and the growing pains I wonder what my kids are thinking. What memories do they have of growing up? Click HERE to continue reading The Little Things
Teachers spend their lives investing in the future of others. They deserve our support and listening ear. Click here to read my interviews with eleven teachers from five states.
TEACHER: Texting you this… Need people to help remind me why I teach when I’m having bad days.
Teaching is one of the hardest jobs. You rarely ever get kudos. You mostly hear what you are doing wrong. So, in those rare moments when the smoke clears, and you see what truly matters, and you see the little things you do, and the impact they can have, that is the gold you have to hold unto—or you will quit… Click HERE to continue reading #whyiteach
Are you looking for calm amid the chaos, comfort during crisis, peace in a panicked world? Jesus is… Bulwark and Bastion. He is the Balm of Gilead. He is our Banner…He is COMING!—Are you ready? — He is the Christ; He is the Cure….He is the Desire of Nations, the Divine Deliverer, the Designer of our Destiny. He is the Devil-damner and the Defeater of Death and our great Defender. Jesus is… Click HERE to continue reading, Jesus Is
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