When Your Kids Are Along For The Ride

When my husband found out he had colon cancer, he wasn’t sitting in a doctors office. There was no box of tissues nearby for him to grab. His wife wasn’t sitting next to him to take hold of his hand. No comforting words or hand on the shoulder from a doctor. He recieved the results coldly, over the phone by someone who had grown used to passing on bad test results.

I found out the news in a more gentle way. In the privacy of our bedroom, with my husband’s arms around me. My husband’s shirt to dry my tears. My husband’s gentle words to calm my fears.

Our teenagers, however, learned of Daddy’s cancer in an unusual way. My son was listening outside our bedroom door. He, of course, ran down the stairs to share what he had heard with his older sister.

The two of them, not understanding everything, but knowing it was making mom cry, began to finish making dinner and keeping their little brothers quiet.

Many people have asked me over the months how my kids are coping. The first time I was asked this question, I had to take pause. I was so wrapped up in my own feelings, I hadn’t taken the time to see how my kids were really doing. I began to pay close attention.

My fifteen year old daughter has a very laid back personality. Her way of handling daddy’s cancer has been to not think about it. Instead, she has focused on helping me out at home. Many times I have been at the cancer center with my husband and come home to a spotless house and happy little boys. My daughter’s main goal through this valley we are in, has been to make everyone as comfortable as possible. When asked what the hardest part of this journey has been for her, she will say being home all summer. She misses the family outings, having friends over, and our trips out of state.

My thirteen year old son has an A-type personality. He is the most determined person I know! He thinks very deeply, and has a lot of emotion to go along with his thoughts. His way of coping with dad’s cancer is to plan. I have had several conversations with him about the “what ifs” of our family’s future. When my husband and I come home from a long day at the hospital, we usually find that he has organized something. He will have mapped out evening plans for the entire family, and will take it upon himself to make everyone stick to his plan. When asked what has been the most difficult part of this journey, he will say seeing his dad so sick, and not having family outings this summer.

My youngest boys have, for the most part, been unphased by Dad’s cancer. As long as we have family movie nights, games of Battleship and UNO, pizza, and popsicles for the back porch, they are perfectly content. There have been a few moments of needing to ask questions about Daddy’s sickness, but when asked, the only difficulty they could think of is not getting to sleep in a tent this summer!

If you are in a hard place in your life, and have kids along for the ride, here are some truths my husband and I have learned.

1. All kids react to stress differently. Every human being has different personalities, and this includes kids. Some will hold their thoughts and fears inside, others will talk to anyone who will listen. Then there are the kids who don’t seem to notice what’s going on, and are content in their own little world. Study your children and learn how they are coping. Open doors for conversation every now and then, and make sure your kids know they can talk to you at any time.

2. Kids take their cue from their parents. If a parent is afraid or angry about their circumstances, chances are their children will be, too. Little eyes are watching how you deal with stress every day, and will copy what they see. If you are able be joyful despite your circumstances, your kids will be, too. Parents need to be careful on how they talk about things in front of their kids. This doesn’t mean you should hide the truth from your kids. They know something is going on, even if you try to hide it. Be honest with them, but be positive. Always remind your child that God is on your side!

3. Kids can get bitter, too. We learned early on, that our kids NEEDED a life outside the house. When there is a sick family member at home, it is often, that home becomes a dreary and depressing place. We make it a point to do something special with them at least once a week. This can be accomplished by trips to the library, local parks, ice cream shop, and even the YMCA. Our family also has wonderful friends, and my kids have been invited to go along with other families for outings.

4. They want to feel useful. My older son took charge of all outside chores since my husband had his stroke over a year ago. This has been a difficult task as we have a very steep hill in our yard. His determination, however, has helped him persevere in his tasks, and he is now getting attention from our neighbors, and job offers! My younger son’s are always “writing books” for their dad, or giving him “massages”. If your child is a “doer”, give him something that will make him feel that he is contributing to the family.

Lastly, here are some tips on helping your kids through difficult family trials.

1. Have a routine. Our family schedule has for the most part, been pure craziness. I have found, however, that my kids need some routine. I can’t always be there when they wake up, and there have been days I wasn’t there at bedtime. When I am home however, I make it a matter of importance to have our evenings together. I will read a couple of chapters from a book before prayers each night to my little ones. The older ones feel privileged to watch an episode of Start Treck with us before bed. Every child needs some order in their day, even during the hardest valley.

2. Pray with them often. Kids need to hear their parents talk to God. They need to hear the emotions and fears that are daily laid at the feet of Jesus. They need to feel God’s presence in their family and home.

3. Use scripture. My younger son has always struggled with fear, for as long as I can remember. He doesn’t like to be alone in any room of our house, and he is easily frightened by many things. My husband’s poor health the last two years seems to have slightly intensifed his fears. After many talks, and times of prayer with him, I recently discovered that scripture gives him the most comfort. He has a favorite verse we memorized together, and he recently asked if we could hang it up in his room.

4. Focus on making memories more than having fun. The biggest lesson I have learned with my kids, is that even fun can be forgotten. They are not going to remember every movie, every ice cream cone, or even every trip to the park. This realization has changed my planning to some extent. Now, every outing is all of us together. No one has opportunity to be home alone- there are plenty of other times for that. Also, to my entire families dismay, I take a LOT more pictures.

There is no perfect answer or laid-out plan on helping your kids walk through a valley with you. As a parent, the best thing that you can do for your kids is to be right with God. Your kids will see the comfort and the peace that God gives you in the valley, and you will be able to show them the way to God even in the midst of trials.

Aged Woman, I am Watching You

Having just tucked my two little charges into bed, I rounded the corner into the living room. I stopped suddenly at the scene unfolding before me.

Standing on her tip-toes, the woman reached up and gave her husband a kiss. He touched her cheek with his hand, and they both shared a special smile, as they gazed into each other’s eyes. He whispered something in her ear, and her cheeks turned rosy.

I’m not sure how old I was when I witnessed this sweet moment, but the memory has stayed with me through my teenage years until now. At the time, I felt awkward for having intruded on something so private, but over the years, this memory filled my heart with hope. Hope that one day, I too could be happily married.

In my teenage years, I helped this family with babysitting. I’m pretty sure this dear lady had no idea I was watching her. Yet, there I was a teenage girl, quietly taking in how she loved her husband, her children, and how she cared for her home.

I was watching her as she faithfully lived according to the Word of God.

This sweet lady has long been someone I have looked up to, trying to emulate the love she showers on her family and ministry.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” – Titus 2:3-5

And, there are others. Other “aged women” I have watched on a weekly basis. They taught Sunday school. They worked in the nursery. They cooked meals for fellowships and conferences. They decorated the church. They sang in the choir. They cleaned the church. They did all these things while loving their husbands and raising their kids. They kept their homes in order, and some even had to work outside the home. Some cared for sick family members. Some cried over their wayward son or daughter. These ladies have watched as their children went off to college, married, and had their own children. They have seen their husbands retire. Some have lost their husbands. Yet, they all have lived according to the Scriptures. They have all been examples and “teachers of good things”.

Aged woman, I’m still watching you. Will you “continue steadfast” in your faith and convictions you once taught your own children? Will you continue to be faithful despite the difficulty that comes with increasing age? Will you continue to have a sweet disposition, even after you have retired from your ministries? Will you still love your husband after age has slowed him down? Will you continue faithful in your Bible reading and prayer time?

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware, lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.” – 2 Peter 3:17

Aged woman, I need you. I need you to teach me how to age in God’s grace. I need to know that life can still be joyous, despite its many disappointments. I need you to teach me that no matter how painful life can become, there is still a “reason for the hope that is in you”. Teach me how to reach out and minister to others with a happy heart, even when my hands are hurting and my heart is failing.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” – I Peter 3:15

Aged woman, the world needs you. The world today is telling women that it’s OK to leave their husbands and children in order to “find” themselves. The world is telling women that they don’t need to keep their homes. The world is telling women that if they stay at home to care for their families, they have no value or beauty. The world is telling women that it’s not healthy to push their faith on their children and that they shouldn’t make them go to church. The world is lying to women today. Aged woman, the world needs you to be a candle in the darkness. They need your shining example that it is better to obey God than to follow their own pleasures.

For those women whom I have looked up to since I became a Christian 30 years ago, thank you for your examples. I could never have been the wife, mother, or keeper of my home that I am today without your example. And now, as time continues to move faster, I too, am becoming an aged woman. I only pray that I can teach others as you have taught me.

Let your lights so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Meditation Monday – Winds of Change

Time has a way of bringing about change. With change, often comes uncertainty. Foundations that for years seemed stable and reliable, can be shaken in the winds of change. Yet, when we make Christ the foundation of our life, we can have a sure confidence that will never be shaken, no matter how much life around us changes! When your world seems to be shaking with rumors of change on the horizon, plant your feet firmly in the Word of God! Don’t be afraid, for you are standing on a firm foundation!

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” -Proverbs 3:25‭-26

Meditation Monday – Seek Him First

As is our culture, we become infatuated with improving ourselves spiritually and physically with the start of each new year. We determine to eat healthier, be kinder, and smile more in bettering our ourselves in the eyes of those around us. While it is never a bad idea to seek to become better, the Bible says that we need to seek something else first.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33

When we focus all our efforts on seeking God, and strive to be like Christ, everything else in our lives should fall in place. We don’t need any other new year’s resolution than this: seek Him first!

A Year Ago

A year ago today, I had no idea that our family was about to embark on a journey that would forever change our lives. I had no idea that just a few short days into 2017, my husband would be diagnosed with colon cancer. I never would have guessed that it would be a year filled with private tears, and worry.

A year ago today, I had no idea how good our God is! I had no idea how far the reach of His comforting arms extended! Never did I expect the honor of witnessing the miracles He performed, just for us! A year ago today, I had no idea how much God really cared for and loved me. I had never experienced such great, unexplainable peace in the midst of great chaos!

A year ago today, I didn’t understand that in order to shine brightly for God, you have to be surrounded by darkness.

I didn’t know that God could use you for His glory during the hardest of your trials and struggles. I didn’t understand that when we are in our weakest state, that is when our God is strongest! Never would I have guessed that walking with the Saviour in 2017 would be the sweetest walk I would ever experience!

Today, I am facing the future of 2018. Sometimes, I look ahead in trepidation, wondering what surprises are lurking in its dark corners. Yet, the fear doesn’t last very long because all I have to do is think back to a year ago and remember how God saw us through the most difficult journey of our lives. 2018 will hold it’s trials, and who knows, maybe they will be more difficult than what we have already faced! I know that I can trust God, however, to be right there with me, from the start of the journey, all the way to the very end!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Thank you, dear readers, for joining me in my discoveries of God’s goodness and mercy in 2017! I hope and pray you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! And whatever is in store for your 2018, I pray you claim the promise of God’s peace!

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

(Photograph taken by Kasey Photography)

Meditation Monday – All is Calm?

When singing the Christmas hymn, “Silent Night”, I have always pictured peace. A night where the stars twinkled brightly, and the cool air was calm. Yet, reality more than likely tells a different story!

The barn was probably smelly and the animals dirty. Did Joseph have to clean out a stall before he made a bed for Mary in the dirty hay? Were they afraid of being caught in someone’s barn? Mary was probably exauhsted and in pain after giving birth!

Despite the reality of the situation, the world looks on the account of Christ’s birth with reverence and wonder. No one seems to dwell on the hardships that Mary and Joseph faced that night. All we see from scripture is their great faith and trust in God.

On a night that was filled with fear, God brought peace. On a night that seemed chaotic, God brought calm. On a night that must have felt lonely, God threw a celebration!

Why not trust God in your lonely, chaotic, and fearful night?

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:7‭-‬16″

Meditation Monday – It’s Your Choice

Ever have one of those days where everything seems to be going wrong?  Just when you think you are catching up, something else happens to throw you back again?  When facing a day that seems to be unraveling at the seams, you have a choice.  You can choose to be frustrated about your day and be short-tempered, making everyone around you just as miserable as you are; or, you can choose to be happy despite your circumstances, thus shining the Light of Christ in you even brighter!

“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” – Proverbs 15:13

When Your World is Changing

We have been listening to Christmas music since late October.  While I haven’t tired of the music itself, I have noticed the excitement that first accompanied those joyful melodies, has begun to wane.  A spirit of reflection has replaced the excitement, bringing many happy memories to mind.  These memories however, eventually lead me back to reality.  Life is changing all around me, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

Families growing and spreading out, are natural reasons for shifting traditions and dynamics.  Declining health, battling cancer, financial struggles, troubled marriages, and the death of loved ones, are also causes for change.

So, how do you cope when your world is changing?  Here’s what I have personally learned:

Trust God with Change –  When we feel that our lives are beyond our control, we tend to become fearful and anxious.  Our comfort zones are shaken, and we feel insecure. Don’t forget that God has a plan, and is allowing change in your life for a reason.  Although change may be difficult, you can trust Him to use it for good in your life. Stop fighting change, and trust God!

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Rejoice in Change – Rejoicing through difficulty reveals hope and peace in the believer. Someday, God will wipe away all our tears.  Someday, we will all gather around a table, furnished with the best food we can imagine, and dine with The Father.  Someday, there will be no more pain, sorrow, or death!  This hope we have for our future can give us peace for the change we must endure today!  If you are not sure where your hope lies, please check out this page titled, There is Hope!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  – Romans 15:13 

Give during Change –  Giving when it is hardest to do so, results in the biggest kind of blessings! When we are busy serving others, we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on the sorrows of change. Give your time to your family and friends.  Show kindness and thoughtfulness to your neighbors and co-workers.  Continue on in your service to the ministries at church. Extending generosity when you are in the midst of your own struggles, can help change someone else’s life – for good!

“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” – 2 Corinthians 8:2

God NEVER Changes – When my life begins to feel unstable because of the changes going on around me, I find peace in this one thought: my God NEVER changes!  Different trials has brought me either further away or closer to God, but HE has never changed His postion.  His voice still sounds the same, His Word still reads the same, and His comfort still feels the same.  My God, who is also my Friend that never fails, will always be there for me!  I don’t ever have to doubt if He will answer when I call.  He will be the same God to me when I am ninety-five, that He was to me when I was 25!

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever”. – Hebrews 13:8

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

“For I am the LORD, I change not…” – Malachi 3:6

If you are struggling with change in this busy holiday season, don’t be downhearted.  Trust God with your change, and allow Him to work for your own good!  Once you do, you will find it easy to rejoice, even when your heart is sad.  Rejoicing makes for a generous spirit, and giving when it’s hardest is a gift that can change lives! And don’t forget – God never has, and never will change!

 

 

 

 

Meditation Monday – Self Control

We’ve all done it.  We’ve all lost our tempers in a fit of anger, or slipped into panic mode during stressful situations. From hitting the snooze button for an extra hour of sleep, to having that extra scoop (or three!) of ice cream, we all have allowed ourselves to indulge in guilty pleasures from time to time.  Yet, when we continually lack self-control in our lives, we break down boundaries that are keeping us safe.  We become unreliable and weak, making ourselves slow-moving targets for the devil’s fiery darts.  Lack of rule over our own spirits make us unfit for the service of our King. So think twice the next time you want to give in to your anger, or indulge in that extra portion of dessert.  You will be much safer and stronger if you chose to control your spirit!

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

Meditation Monday – The Art of Silence

“He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.” – Proverbs 17:27

When someone has wronged us either in word or deed, it doesn’t take but a few milliseconds to come up with a response.  Often, those quick and thoughtless responses can be more damaging than the offending deed!  The Bible tells us to use our words sparingly.  We can’t undo what has been said or done to offend us, however, we can control how we respond. Using the art of silence can help us from saying things we regret in the heat of the moment.

“There is no law that says that we must comment on everything that is said to us or that we must critique everything that is done to us.  If something has been done that disappointed us, it has already been done and there is no undoing it.  There is no need for us to summarize our displeasure.  This is the time to use the art of silence.” – Jack Hyles