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Helping Grieving Kids from America to Zimbabwe, Africa

Do the children in Zimbabwe have anything in common with the children in your church? The answer is “Yes.”

Children all over the world grieve and children all over the world need Jesus. Read the following letter from a woman who works in an orphanage in Africa. If Growing Seasons helps children in a Zimbabwe orphanage, don’t you think it could help those children in your congregation, too. Divorce and the death of a parent devastates children all over the world and the love of Jesus introduced to children through the Growing Seasons curriculum can help these children to heal. Read on:

Hi Jean

I hope you are well.

I wanted to give you an update on Growing Seasons in Zimbabwe. I

contacted you at the end of last year for some advice on how to begin

Growing Seasons here.

God has really blessed this ministry and we are now running the second

term with about thirty children.

It was difficult to get the Coordinator’s Guides and Parents Guides

here but we eventually had the books sent to the United Kingdom and

some people who were coming here, brought them back with them.

I was a facilitator myself in the first term and already saw a change

in some of the children by the end of the course. Growing Seasons has

really helped these children and we would like to reach many children

in Zimbabwe.

I went and did a talk for three boarding shools last week and they are

really keen to get Growing Seasons into their schools but asked if we

could possibly train some of their teachers so that they can run it. I

am now feeling led to branch out to the schools and I wanted to ask

you how I could go about this.

You said that you had Workshops there. Would you be able to provide

some material to do Workshops here. There is such a need in the

schools.

I Finally “God” It. You Can, Too

I  accepted Jesus when I was twelve years old, but I didn’t understand what He did for me. In my forties I finally understood the words “grace” and “mercy.” I wonder how many people who have been in church all their lives without seeing the whole picture.Let’s start with creation. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent, Satan, and sinned by disobeying God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJ). They sewed together fig leaves to cover their shameful nakedness. People today still keep trying to solve their problems without God. God killed an animal to make the skins to cover them(Genesis 3:6-7, NKJ), so He had to shed the blood of the animals. God told the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  This was a prophesy. The seed of woman is Jesus, the Son of God. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, he set up the sacrificial system using the blood of unblemished animals instead of  people to satisfy God’s requirement for justice. This points us to Jesus.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his death, I believe He felt the shame of the sins of the  entire world. Can you imagine how emotionally painful that must have been? The next day the soldiers pierced Him with a sword, whipped Him, and nailed Him to a cross until He died.  His blood, the blood of the only perfect One, was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.”   (Hebrews 9:22b NKJ) But Jesus did not stay dead. He rose and many people saw Him alive. For those who accept the gift of His forgiveness, He gives us grace, a gift we sinners do not deserve,  and He gives us mercy instead of the eternal punishment we do deserve. He died for us because He loves us enough to pay for our sins. (John 3:16 NJV)Have you told God you believe this? Have you asked Him to forgive you of your sin sand make you His child? If not, now could be the time. Talk to God and tell Him you are sorry for your sins and believe Jesus died for you and will forgive you and make you His child.

You can pray right now to become a member of God’s family.

 

What’s a Single Parent to Do?

Here you are in one of the most, if not the most, trying times of your life. You may have to move, get a job, find reliable childcare, change churches, find out who your real friends are and more. If that were not enough, you have  children who are as devastated as you, but they don’t understand why this happened. You are exhausted:  physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually and you can’t concentrate. On top of that, you are lonely. You love your children unconditionally, but they are also reacting to the changes in their lives. They withdraw or act out with anger. Their grades fall and their tempers rise. Yours is, too, because there isn’t much left of you to give them by the end of the day.

Your children’s pain hurts you the most. There are some little things you can do that will help a lot.The most important thing you can do for your children is listen to their feelings. Children don’t always have the words for their emotions, so they may need you to help put them into words. Even if you have tried to talk to them about their feelings and they yelled at you or retreated to their emotional safety zone, you can still help them talk about their emotions if you know how.

First, you must understand that feelings come in layers. Usually with uncomfortable emotions, anger is on top. Anger has a way of spewing all over everyone, which can lead a parent to respond the same way. Instead, stop and remember your child is grieving. Anger is an essential part of the grief process – part of breaking the bond with the one who is gone. You probably feel it, too. Have you noticed, when someone validates your anger, it seems to take the air out of it? That also works for children.

Even if you don’t agree with the things your children are saying, you can validate their beliefs it and hurts. One way to do that is to respond with, “It sounds like you feel __________. You can even add because_________. For example, “It sound like you feel angry, because Daddy didn’t pick you up at school today like he promised.” Or, “It sounds like you feel scared at Mommy’s house, because I am not there at night.” Don’t worry if you use the wrong feeling word, because then the child will have to think about it and correct you. This should disarm the child and open the door for you to go deeper. Listen again to your child’s next comment. It will probably have a strong feeling attached. Validate again, even using the same template if you wish. See if that doesn’t take your child to the next feeling level. It may take some practice, but if you love your children, and I know you do, it will be worth it. By continuing this process, you can often discover and correct the misconceptions your child is feeling after the loss, such as, “It’s my fault.” Try this today and see if it doesn’t help, but remember, your children may need you to do it a few times before they trust that you are really going to listen.

Visit again soon for more ideas on how to help children through tough times.

Regrets: Re-think, Release, Relax

 I was part of the sandwich generation, hash to be exact. I took care of my sick mother for sixteen years while my children grew from toddlers to college students. We stopped counting how many times I left my family to take her to the emergency room. She lived with us most of that time, but finally moved to a senior housing facility,which she enjoyed.The Saturday night before she died was just like any other, except it was raining rhinos and elephants.  I knew she didn’t feel well. In fact, I had taken her to the doctor the day before. That still small voice kept telling me to go see her. Instead, I cleaned out a chest of drawers in my guest room. After church the next day, I called to check on her. She was worse. I promised I would take her to the emergency room, but I waited until after dinner. The doctor admitted her. At least fifty times before, I stayed with her until she went to her room, but not this time.  I went home and went to sleep. At five o’clock the next morning the ringing phone jarred me out of bed. The calm female voice said, “Your mother is not breathing. She is in Code Blue. Do you want us to try to resuscitate her?”

Even though she had an advanced directive I said, “Yes, please,” and jumped into my clothes. She died before I arrived. I’ll never forget the way they left her body in that hospital room. With her head thrown back from the attempts to revive her, she looked like an old rag doll tossed aside by a pre-teen girl in search of a boyfriend. I regretted that I couldn’t tell her good-bye.

Five days later we went to Florida on a college visit with my daughter. I  ignored my grief during the day, but at night my mind kept rehearsing the two days before my mother died – the “what if’s”  kept me awake.  I thought, “What if I listened to the still, small voice that told me to go see her on Saturday. If I had gone, she might have lived.” NO!” I was believing a lie. I had to rethink my regrets. I finally concluded that it was my mother’s time to die. God called her home the moment she took her last breath. When her spirit left her body the pain left, too, and God replaced it with joy.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) speaks about that:                                                          “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I had no power over death or the shame and regret I  felt for ignoring the still, small voice. God took my mother to heaven at the time He appointed for her to die and Jesus took my shame on the cross. When I rethought my regrets, I released the shame, and relaxed. I miss my mother, but I know Jesus has her safely in His arms. I also learned to listen and respond to that still, small voice. Regrets can be a weight that ensnares us. Give them to Jesus and set yourself free to run the race of faith.

Churches Can Help Grieving Children

 Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses

                                                                 

When children lose a parent, due to divorce, death of a parent or other reason, they feel lonely, afraid, sad, and angry. Churches can help. Growing Seasons groups are for children ages four through twelve. They include a Bible story, fun activities, new friends, and a chance to talk about their feelings. The Parent Guide gives parents and guardians ideas on how to help their hurting children. The curriculum includes ten sessions for three ages groups. Ages four to five, grades one through three and grades four through six. Each session runs for ten weeks.

Follow this link  that will allow you to flip through the pages of the Growing Seasons Curriculum.

http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html

Discovering Jesus in the Faces of Grief

You may have heard the word “grief” all your life, but you never had anyone tell you exactly what it means. You could be in the midst of it now and still not understand. Grief, this confusing, devastating, volatile mixture of emotions, is a natural response to any loss: death, divorce, loss of health, familiar surroundings, or treasured possessions. Grief affects the mind, body, and spirit. It seems impossible to concentrate or think clearly enough to make even the simplest decision. The body reacts in unexpected ways: pain, sickness, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing, over-whelming fatigue for some, and for others, amazing bursts of energy. For some, grief brings a deeper, more satisfying walk with their Lord. Others build a massive wall between them and their Savior.

Surely, all who take the journey through grief find that it transforms their relationship with God. For example, Susan, a college student, had a sharp drop in her grades after her divorce. She tried to deny the pain, but it showed. The stress caused the skin on her face to turn a bright red and she quickly gained twenty pounds. Despite this, she learned to depend on God to help her though the sleepless nights. On the other hand, Stephen has not been to church since he lost his son more than ten years ago. He, like many, is mad at God. Even now, he continues grieving for his son.

Normal grief is an essential part of healing. Abnormal grief occurs when a person withdraws too long, pushes others away, or becomes bitter and depressed. Unresolved grief may bring on the symptoms of the illness of the loved one who died, or cause involvement in detrimental activities such as drugs, alcohol, or other addictions. It can even affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer. Grief seems like a silent enemy, but if you face the enemy head-on, it can become your friend.

The Bible says that Jesus was “A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:6 [NKJ] We know that He has not asked us to experience anything He has not experienced, so we know He understands. One of the hardest parts of the grief process is the loneliness. Jesus must have felt lonely in the Garden of Gethsemane and even more so on the cross. He endured that for His children, so we can have a relationship with Him and so He could send us the Comforter to help us. Take your grief to Him. Tell Him about the pain. Let Him comfort you in your time of sorrow. He will get you through the lonely nights and it will get better.

Wounded Souls

The news is full of stories about childhood sexual abuse, but most of the articles leave out one important fact. Even one incident of sexual abuse can change a child’s life forever, leaving anger that can be turned outward to the abuser, but is usually turned inward. Even if the abuse is just touching or inappropriate exposure, it can have a life long effect on the child. The story doesn’t stop there. Child abuse leaves a wounded spirit that opens the door for Satan to implant lies into the child’s soul. People can tell the child the truth, but that may have little impact on the core beliefs of the child: “I’m alone, I’m dirty, I’m worthless, I’m powerless,” and on and on. These beliefs can become so entrenched in the child’s mind that only the truth of Jesus can abolish them. 1 Corinthians 6:16 NIV says, “Or do you not know that he who is joined with harlot is one body with her? ‘For the two,'” He says, ‘shall become one flesh.'” That doesn’t mean the abused child is possessed by the other person or by the devil. I believe it does mean there is a soul wound that must be healed by God. The Lord in His love and mercy followed that statement with comforting words. “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” If you were abused as child, there is hope. Please hear this. Jesus can heal your pain. Find a Christain counselor and get help. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.