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When Dad disappears…

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For some, Father’s Day is when you sit in church and try to hold yourself together because you’re missing a dad.

There are many, many reasons you may not have a dad in your life now.

  • Dad died.
  • Dad and Mom are divorced and you don’t see your father very often or ever.
  • Dad abused you physically, mentally — or both.
  • Dad’s elderly and doesn’t remember who you are anymore.
  • Dad ditched you, and you don’t even know WHO he was.
  • Dad ditched you and you remember who he was, but he doesn’t fit the bill of dad anymore.
  • Dad is chronically ill and disease has taken away the person you used to know and changed dad radically.
  • (You can add your own reasons to this list.)

For whatever reasons you’re not connected to your dad anymore, my heart and prayers go with with you.  Please read on — there’s hope! Father God offers to BE a Father to the fatherless.

For children with a chronically ill father, this post is especially for you. My heart bleeds for my daughter and for all of  those who are “fatherless” in a very different sort of way.

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(meme credit to lessonslearnedinlife.com)

Care-giving friend, recognizing that your children are grieving and may not even realize that’s what’s going on is one KEY to helping them navigate this difficult time. Their grief needs to be acknowledged as valid and deep!

Chronical illness affects every family differently, depending on the types and duration of the illness.  I think there some commonalities:

  • Having a chronically-ill parent is like being on a roller coaster ride that you can’t get off of — until death or significant healing occurs.

One of my favorite photos of my daughter is at the last happiest memory we made together away from home four years ago. She’s beaming, contentedly curled up on “Papa’s” lap, face snuggled into a giant beard, at my brother’s college graduation. Life wasn’t perfect, but life was good at that moment.  Dad had her. Dad held her. Dad was reasonably present in her life. Now Dad cannot. Her old dad has disappeared in so many ways.

I recently spent a good deal of time and money (for us) attempting to make new happy memories in a rare opportunity. I only half-succeeded. Illness has changed life for us in a way that we can never retrieve.

Was the effort worth it? Yes. Learning to love those who are broken is important, especially when they’re your own family members. Our Father in heaven invites these to His table especially — the lame, the halt, the blind. If you’re navigating the teen years, as I am, this flies in the face of their natural self-absorption. Only the power and love of Christ makes this truly, fully a possibility.

Chronic illness as it progresses may mean that Dad’s not there either physically or mentally. Dad’s distant. It feels like you’ve been forgotten and forsaken. You have to learn to love in a different way. Emotionally, it’s a roller coaster ride.

  • Milestones in your child’s life without the old Dad present are significantly painful. 

That recital ( one reason I think my daughter quit piano…), the awards ceremony, the soccer games with enthusiastic dads cheering from the sidelines… Sound familiar?

  • Looking forward to a future without your dad’s support leaves a huge hole in your heart. 

No dad for your wedding, college graduation, or beyond? No Mr.Fix-It to come to your rescue. No dad sitting on the porch with his shotgun as he interviews your first potential suitor? (LOL, an old threat some of us have heard.). No dad safety net.

  • In fact, the “new dad” might be significantly more embarrassing than your child’s “old dad”.

Did dad have a stroke? Lose mobility? Does dad speak with slurred speech or have days when he’s just not “with it”? Chronic illness often amplifies a teen’s usual embarrassment with their parents.

Add the medication factors in, too. Dad might be in bed for many hours a day. When he’s awake he might be unpleasant and unreasonable for family (usually never for the rare visitors) due to pain and medications.

Side note: Chronically ill people are usually able to pull off a bit of “normal” for visitors to try to retain dignity and the often diminishing friendships of those visitors. How many of you have friends after many years of chronic illness who STILL come regularly to visit? You can start counting these friends on one hand usually. Hard truth.

Daily living with chronic illness? It’s a steady drain on your emotional and physical bank account, and ONLY those living inside your four walls see the full scope of this. Not your pastor. Not your friends. Just family.

What’s a momma to do? Is there HOPE? You have to step into dad’s shoes so many times and be both father and mother. It’s impossible, right?

You’re walking through the fires and floods right now, dear caregiver, with and for your children and your chronically ill loved one. Anyone who says otherwise should just shut up like God told Job’s friends to do. Hang on! There is a God who sees your suffering and tears, too.

There is a Father who knows and loves your children as they suffer through fatherless days. I know. I’m treading water with you, as you can see from the silence lately on this blog. Life’s been incredibly hard, but God has not forsaken His daughter.

Here’s the HOPE: Our Father God loves the fatherless and the PRODIGAL child (if your child struggles with anger at God and their earthly father).

Today’s Scripture readings at church were Psalm 103:8-13

Psalm 103:13 Modern English Version (MEV)

13 Like a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord gives compassion to those who fear Him.

 

AND Luke 15:11-24.

Luke 15:11-24 Modern English Version (MEV)

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 Then He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.’ So he divided his estate between them.

13 “Not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together, and journeyed to a distant country, and there squandered his possessions in prodigal living. 14 When he had spent everything, there came a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and hired himself to a citizen of that county, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 He would gladly have filled his stomach with the husks that the swine were eating, but no one gave him any.

17 “When he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have an abundance of bread, and here I am perishing with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 So he arose and came to his father.

“But while he was yet far away, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran and embraced his neck and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him. And put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. 23 Bring here the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry. 24 For this son of mine was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ So they began to be merry.

Spot on! It was my HOSANNA moment. Remind yourself and your child that you HAVE the perfect Father in Heaven. You are not alone. Your children are not deserted. So hard to hang into when this journey gets long, I know!

What is God like as the Father of your suffering children?

  • He’s abundantly merciful.
  • He’s full of compassion.
  • He sees all.
  • He knows all.
  • He is ever-present.
  • He’s all wise.
  • He’s forgiving (even to the scoundrel son who completely shamed him in front of all of his family and friends — his whole community saw his shame.)
  • He offers a robe of righteousness, clean and pure.
  • He offers the family signet ring to his children. You’ve access to the family business and bank account. (My God shall supply ALL your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. How many times do you feel bereft of the physical and financial support of a father, too?)
  • He offers shoes because you are His child, not a slave in his household (slaves didn’t wear shoes in the context of this story.)
  • He celebrates the sinner who repents with a full-blown PAR-TAY.
  • He promises His Spirit to you and your children. (Pray, pray, pray for that promise, dear momma. Don’t ever give up on that one!)
  • So much more… search the Scriptures. The fatherless are IMPORTANT to our Father God.

What does our Heavenly Father mean to you? I’d love it if you’d share a Scripture and bless us all in this struggle.  Our Heavenly Father sees and knows when you reach out a helping hand to the fatherless, dear momma. Your work is SEEN and KNOWN.

 

 

 

 

 

3 ways to care for your child’s heart with a chronically-ill parent in the house…

caring for your children's hearts

I was thinking about sorrow, chronic illness, and the havoc it wreaks on a family.  Then the breaking news about little Mariah Woods scrolled across my news feed. Three years old. Stolen. Possibly killed by a madman of a boyfriend.

Suddenly a friend posted an anniversary post of her husband’s death, purposefully leaving behind his wife and two daughters. My heart broke all over again. The circumstances of his death at the time were almost unbearable.

 

Loreenna McKennitt’s 1985 album, Elemental, features a song, “The Stolen Child.” That last line… the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand… OH. My. Heart.

“Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.”

I’m a “greenhouse” parent. I believe in sheltering a child’s heart, soul, and life and gradually exposing them to the stormy elements of this life.

 Don’t share my philosophy? This post may annoy you. Please keep reading. Be open-minded enough to at least hear my point of view, okay? You can post your point of view in the comments respectfully.

1.  SHUT off the news! Yep!

Our family news is filtered. Mainly we use the internet for news. We watch a bit of TV.  We almost never watch the news as a family.  It’s just so full of the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21:

  • adultery
  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • lewdness
  • idolatry
  • sorcery
  • hatred
  • strife
  • jealousy
  • rage
  • selfishness
  • dissensions
  • heresies
  • envy
  • murders
  • drunkenness
  • carousing

“I warn you, as I previously warned you, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:21)

Ever overheard comments like, it’s all bad news?  Kinda matches that list above, huh?

2.) Decide what to share with your child about your loved one’s health issues.

Here’s where it gets sticky. Prayers for wisdom are needed. I’ve seen too much harm done to children when their parents lie to them to keep them happy.

On the other hand, too much information will be too heavy for them to carry in their hopeful little hearts. Just like their growing backs are not meant for heavy loads, so their growing minds, hearts, and emotions can only handle so much.

How much information is too much? That’s a huge wisdom prayer request that not even your best friend forever can fully advise you on.  You can seek input and counsel, but in the end, no one can decide for you. Deciding wisely will impact your child for good or ill.

My daughter just became a teen. For the past year or so, she’s been asking more and more questions. She deserves answers.

I’m not going to pretend everything’s okay. I’m not going to lie and say, it’s all gonna be all right. Since genetic information related to all the autoimmune issues directly affects her health and future, she needs to know more information now.

However, I always assure her that our great God never leaves or forsakes His children. He loves broken people.  He bends down to hear the prayer of the poor and needy. 

Life HURTS madly at times, but God stoops to suffer with us in our afflictions.

A friend of mine lost her husband to a dramatic suicide six years ago today. Her husband burned the house down on himself — literally and deliberately — after suffering with clinical depression for years. My daughter and I had to drive by the haunting burnt shell of that house every month for a few months on our way to work. I couldn’t hold back the tears.

She asked questions. I only gave her the short answer. Why? She knew the girls who lost their father. Her little heart could not handle that crushing load.  Why would someone’s daddy ever do that?

But what of my friend’s children? There was an investigation, of course. She had to handle the information so much differently for them. Thankfully, today they are thriving.

3. Don’t hide in your own hurt and ignore your hurting child.

Busy, busy care-giving momma,  here’s the huge dilemma! Your work load may be almost unbearable. Like a single parent, you carry all the responsibilities at times. Add the care and worry of a chronically-ill spouse to the load, and you feel like you are dead lifting a ton of steel. Maybe someone is there to “spot” you. Maybe not.

Your child cannot thrive without feeling connected. They will start bottling up a world of hurt or acting out their hurts in destructive ways. YOU are responsible for filling their “love tanks”.

Here are a few practical ways to help your child feel loved and cared for even when you’re overwhelmed: 

  • HUG daily.  I make it point, even on the prickly days.  HUGS are huge.
  • Say goodnight. Always say good night. That routine matters even to a teen.
  • Read even just ONE verse of the Bible at night before bed.
  • Encourage a conversation. A flood of hurt might pour out. That’s good. Listening is the biggest deal here.
  • Share a treat together. It’s like opening a package of love and happiness.
  • Try very hard to share at least one meal a day together.
  • Point out good things. Catch them doing good.

No “faery” can take your child or mine by the hand and lead them away from the sorrows of this world.

Instead, Christ’s love and Spirit — that’s what I’m banking on to carry my child through the deep waters and a world full of weeping. God will be a Father to our children when their human father cannot.

Mommas, we are His instruments!

That’s frightening, amazing, and humbling. Mothering in a world full of hurt isn’t for sissies. It’s a harder job than I could have ever imagined.

Will you pray with me and for me?

O, Jesus, God with us, may Your love conquer and lead in our hurting families. Send Your light and truth to guide and protect our ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting real about fear and faith…

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Last Lord’s Day I heard a sermon on faith.

Abraham was the primary example used, though there are many, many choice examples in Scripture.

“Do not fear, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1

At this point, Abram doesn’t just say, Yes, Lord. Instead he pops his hardest, most troubling question on God. What about that promised son, God?

Abram (soon to be renamed Abraham) had his doubts and fears.

He brought those fears to God directly instead of running away from God. He talked to God honestly about what was bothering him. His doubts did not mean he had no faith. Fear and faith often work hand in hand.

Faith boldly brings fear and doubt to God!

 

God IS our shield of protection through the fiery storms.

Right here and now we are facing major surgery. We can’t know all the possible outcomes. This surgery is only addressing one of many ongoing health issues. No guarantees! More trouble to come. It’s a fearful spot to live in.

So many friends I know are in similar tight spots. I listen to a lot of uncertainty, fear, and doubts.

” I am your Shield.”

Shields protect and defend. Shields often were emblazoned with the emblem of their cause.  Protection and identification in battle.

I recently heard that the Navy Seals are trained never to swim away, but to punch a shark on the snout should it come close for an attack. The only way to deal with fear is to face it head-on.

Now, did Abram go blazing his fears to everyone? I really don’t think so. This seems to be a very private conversation.

In fact, God got very angry with the 10 spies to Canaan. Why? They came home from Canaan and started spreading their fears to the entire nation. Sadly  the fear polluted everyone’s mind except for Joshua and Caleb!

The devastating result was an entire generation that would never see God’s promises fulfilled. They died in the wilderness wanderings that lasted forty years.

I don’t know about you, but to me that is way too long to camp! I think it is okay to put on a brave face, especially for the sake of your children.

One of the bravest acts I’ve ever personally seen was my sis saying goodbye forever in this life to her two precious children.

I wasn’t actually in the room but waited for the little ones to come out.

With smiles and balloons they said to me after this visit — Mommy might go to see Jesus!

Of course, they didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. But what I DID understand is that brave, loving Mommy didn’t frighten them with her intense emotions. It was a peaceful goodbye. It was a mother’s last act of sacrificial love for her children.

Faith doesn’t allow fear to win. You might be shaking in your boots, but faith in God’s promises propels you forward!

God told Abram to look up and count the starry hosts. Number the stars? Impossible quest even with today’s scientific advances! This impossible number was how many “sons of faith” Abraham would have.

“And Abraham believed God…”  Isaac, the son of laughter, was only one of myriads of sons of faith to come.

Number the stars? Go start listing God’s promises. Our tears will turn to laughter someday.

And it’s okay to shed some tears and fears with a discrete, careful friend. But make sure you run to God first. God is our Shield.

 

Hug ’em anyways, momma…

Well, I got my share of momma hugs this weekend, but I also got the brunt end of a bad mood, too. What to do?

IMG_0876We’re rapidly moving from tween to teen this year. It’s a hard, hard time to have a parent sick in bed regularly while the other parent is trying to keep all the plates spinning. But, nothing, and I mean nothing is worth losing connections with my daughter.

We recently watched a very, very inspiring movie called The Queen of Katwe. Even though the mom is a widow in that true story, I could relate to her so vividly is some respects. Granted, I don’t live in a third world country. I’ve always been able to find work, and get help with bills when needed.

But I can relate to setback after setback. I felt that momma’s pain in living technicolor. When she realized how much chess meant to her daughter, she was willing to sell her most prized possession to help her daughter succeed. Success happened but not overnight. I won’t spoil the ending for you. If you’re like me, keep a box of tissues nearby.

It will take extra grit and sacrifice to swim against the life-sucking illness. Love fiercely, momma!

Love finds a way. Love found me begging God on my knees for a good, safe homeschooling community three years ago. I tried to form my own, but the lack of commitment made it fall apart.

My daughter is an only. We needed friends and enCOURAGEment for our journey. God answered. He brought a nationally known group to form a community in our area. I was able to tutor to pay the fees. (People commit to what they pay for. Truth!)

You know what? I got a huge thank you from my daughter this year for making her go the past three years.  She was initially afraid to try. Now she loves it. She excels at most of her work. That didn’t happen by accident!

Pray fiercely, momma! Ephesians 6:10-18

Turns out I was not the only momma praying for help. We were able to share burdens and bear each other’s burdens. Now I pray for wisdom as we navigate teen years and chronic illness in the house.

It’s a challenge but also an opportunity.

I want her to find her gifts and talents and hone them! I want her to be resilient, compassionate, gritty, and full of hope in God. So that means I’d better keep praying big prayers. Can’t quit now!

Hug ’em fiercely, momma! See that stinky attitude as a cry for love. Swipe the screen-time while you’re at it.

Chronic illness, well, it’s no fun for anyone to witness. When you live with it, that’s even harder. Some days it makes me angry, too. My child, on the road to sorting out all her inner workings, well, of course she thinks this stinks! At the stinky moments, sometimes a quiet tone and wrapping your  arms around the huffy child is just what the doctor ordered.

Moms, we’re a safe haven. We’re a venting station. I want my child to be able to tell me exactly how she’s feeling. Nicely, of course, but truthfully. (We’re working on the “nicely” part still. Snagging the Kindle seems to help). A nice cup of hot tea helps, too. Or cocoa, depending on the kid.

Then I want to direct her to Abba, Father. She’s starting to see. Mom prays. About. Everything. I can’t fix things. But God is our very present Help in time of trouble. Psalm 46. He knows our thoughts. Psalm 139

Fierce loving, praying, hugging mommas, you’re my inspiration! Maybe  chronic illness will be the catalyst to make our children extra gritty and kind. Maybe their souls will be supercharged to trust God for big things. How’s that for a prayer request?

 

3 ways to connect with your child despite chronic illness

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Chronic illness and children in the house — it’s a unique challenge.

In our case, we have just one. A gift from God, she is, indeed. She challenges us and brightens our days.

But having a chronically ill parent is not always a day-brightener for her. Along the way, I’ve come to recognize when we’ve hit a rougher-than-normal patch by how she acts out. Angry. Huffy. Attitude from the sewer. Where’s my sweet girl? She’s still there, I know.

At those moments I’ve been reminded to slow down somehow. Take time. Reach out to her. Find extra ways to connect. Her attitude, outlook on life, and future success depend on me, with God’s help. So help me, God — I can’t fail at this!

She can’t look to the parent sick in bed for much comfort or encouragement, though it does happen at times. Pain and suffering are often the view she sees, and she doesn’t like it. I can’t blame her.

I’m posting early this week, because I was reminded of how very much we have to “REJOICE in the LORD ALWAYS.” It’s a command! A choice, not a feeling.

Joy doesn’t happen by accident in our lives. It takes choosing to smile through a heart full of tears. It takes prayer. It takes a power not my own. Blessed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You alone can give me this joy!

So, today was a snippet of that. I had a 200 page book I wanted to study for my writing business. But a friend texted and asked if it was okay for her girls to come over. YES and YES! I made hot tea (chilly and rainy here today). We had tea and snacks, and a fashion show, and giggles. A big chunk of my day is gone. It was so, so worth it. My daughter’s words, “Tea was amazing, Mom.” Really, what was amazing was sharing a happiness moment with friends!

If rejoicing in the LORD is a choice, than how about planning for joy?

1.) Make a “happiness plan” for your child.

It might involve consignment shopping with Mom and spending a little money! Or, it might mean a hike through the woods in a local park. Sometimes a spontaneous change of plans is what it takes to say “yes” to a happiness moment.

Sometimes, a happiness plan requires an inconvenient day off work. When my sister invited my daughter and I to spend the day with her in NYC, it took a barrelful of planning and extra money we really didn’t have (but were gifted). I worked extra hard to make it happen.

The happiness moments, no matter how small, mean a lifetime of memories. A reminder that love was present in the hardest of times. Our children will face their own dark days. Life is hard. God is good. Not being stingy with happiness reminds our children of God’s goodness.

2.) Connect over good books. Read out loud to your child. Most of all, read HIS Book!

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Sarah MacKenzie and the Read Aloud Revival is a good place to start for inspiration. My own Mom started me on this wonderful path. As a young child, even after I learned to read, she still read aloud to us.

Our family has a hard, hard time having a consistent “family worship” time. So, I’ve adopted bedtime as a devotional time. We always read something from Scripture and pray.

However, I’ve read a ton of books over the years that were sheer pleasure out loud to my daughter. We’re currently reading one before our devotional almost every night.

I cannot tell you how much my daughter craves this time. I crave it, too. If I’ve been crazy busy all day long, as often am, or gone at work, this time is golden. It sparks all kinds of talk-time.

During this last year of grieving over her aunt’s passing, we needed this more than ever. I could’ve lost her to bitterness and anger. We’re not out of the woods yet. I see her angry because Papa is sick. We talk. I take the heat.

God is infinitely patient with us. He can handle our worst feelings.  Reading is His idea. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have given us His Book. And HIs book tells us that He knows our words and thoughts before they even leave our mouths. Psalm 139

3.) Plan for Christian community.

One of my great griefs with this chronic illness lifestyle is that my daughter has never attended prayer meetings. We can’t make it to mid-week services. However, she is regularly in church every Lord’s Day. It’s making a difference in her life. The folks she is closest to are fellow believers. She is beginning to see they will love and support her in the trials of life. To me, that is HUGE!

She sees the good, the bad, and the ugly. She knows church is made up of sinners just like us. Sigh. It’s hard to explain things sometimes, but you can’t ignore the truth.

But being there regularly is showing her that in spite of our failures, we were created to love one another because Christ loves us. He loves His body. He laid down His life for the sheep.

We are also part of a weekly homeschool community. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As we share our time and talents with each other, we also inspire and challenge each other to do better. It’s just sogood to have another Momma step up to your child and say, You can do better than that! Or, great job, girl!

Community is messy. We have to learn to refrain from gossip about each other. We have to learn I Corinthians 13 love. It takes oodles of that.

Sometimes it’s really hard to be the weird family where Mom works and Dad has to oversee some of the schooling. The connections to others are worth it.

So keep up the connecting, mommas. We need bucketfuls of extra grace and joy to share with our child on this stormy path.

What do you do to keep connections alive with your child?

 

Lovin’ through the crazy…

Well, I’d be lying if I said life was all peaches and cream right now.

Focusing on gratitude really helped me see the humor in my crazy life this week. Yesterday was the icing on the cake! I watched tired, grumpy kiddos for a family who is going through the fires of fighting cancer. I ended up in the wrong place due to a GPS error. Traffic was horrendous. I’m a country gal. Hate traffic. A professional panhandler hit me up while I had said kids in the store. And the man in front of me bought every single avocado in the store — one of the big items on my grocery list.

To top things off, the cat vomited and my hubby tracked it all over unknowingly!

Let’s revisit the kids and chronic illness theme. As a parent, once you think you have figured out how to handle one stage, a new one hits. Multiply this time ten with the many different ways chronic illness effects children.

Time to fill up the love tanks. The kids just need someone who loves them through the crazy. Time. Attention. Hugs. Correction. Encouragement. Isn’t that the way the heavenly Father loves us?

  • Love like the Father in Heaven. He does not ignore us or or need for correction. Hebrews 12:5-8
  • He loves His children even when they don’t deserve it. Romans 5:8-9
  • He loves to give good gifts to His children. James 1:17
  • He showers us with love and mercy. Ephesians 2:4-7
  • Our Heavenly Father listens to us and wants us to talk to Him! Matthew 6:6-13

When you see life is crazy, love like there is no tomorrow!

My daughter was with me caring for the kids. I had to encourage her to be patient many times. The tired littles had fun. My girl talked my ear off on the long drive home. Non-stop. The tired me wanted her to stop. The Father God love in me soaked it up. Life is hard, but God is good.  Make me a reflection of  His holy love, I pray. Prayers appreciated from you all. We face more crazy days ahead with a surgery for my hubby sometime this summer.

How can I pray for you in this crazy life we lead? Let me know, okay?

Footprints of gratitude….

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Our earthly footprint really is so small.

Parenting brings out the cliches. They grow up so fast. You blink and they’re all grown up. Well, I am more than halfway through my parenting journey to the legal age of adulthood. I would like to put the brakes on it for just a bit, too.

Parenting with chronic illness or cancer in the home has its own unique twist of challenges.

There are way too many facets to deal with in one post. I think I will sit down and chart an outline of what my greatest parenting challenges have been and still are. I have a few people in mind to interview, too, who are dealing or have dealt with this in living technicolor.

Usually I ask for your input at the end of the post. But start thinking now as you read. How has chronic illness affected your parenting? What are your greatest challenges? Any great tips that have really helped your family?

I will share this challenge right off the bat. It is a constant battle to maintain joy on the journey. I’m not talking about slap-stick happiness, or just faking it. But I do believe laughter is the best medicine. Gratitude for the simple blessings truly does bring joy. All of us can find something to give thanks for if we are still breathing in God’s good air. Gratitude lends a helping hand to joy.

Sometimes depression hangs over our house like the dark clouds of Mordor. What’s a mom/caregiver/breadwinner to do?

This may sound like a broken record (google it), but only Jesus can give you joy and inner peace when your husband’s body is broken and you can’t fix it. You can’t pretend for all your kids’ growing up years that everything is okay. When children are very young, I do think you have to shelter them from too much sorrow. If you can… So what happens when the hard questions come?

Make up your mind to be thankful! Dad’s been sick in bed all day and your children are moody, understandably! Be a ray of light in that dark cloud. But why? What is the end goal?

  • You want your children to grow up knowing God is good. Giving thanks for the blessings reminds us of this daily. This takes practice! I want to do better at modeling tangible praise to God every day.

  • Read the Biblical stories of real people persevering through hard times. My daughter fell in love with Ruth for a period of time, then Esther.

  • Read/listen to courage-inspiring true stories. Note to self: compile a list of suggested reading for you!

  • Have a talk time with each child nearly every day. My time comes at bedtime most days. Sometimes it happens in the car. Key words: they talk, you listen! You want to hear what their joys, sorrows, and frustrations are. You will find kids actually end up asking for advice if you listen well.

  • Pray about problems together. There is no better time than when your child has unloaded their troubles on you. IF they need anything, they need to know the Heavenly Father is always available. Who doesn’t need this?

  • Block out time for happiness. Plan special outings and happy memories together. When money is tight and travel is tough with chronic illness, enlist friends to pop in and check on your husband while you leave the house and just do something fun together. If you can include dad, all the better..

  • Institute a real reward for not whining. I was given a roll of quarters. Ten dollars is a nice chunk of change to my daughter. For every complaint, I got to take back a quarter over a month’s time. Thankfully she kept more than half of the roll in the end.

    These are a few humble suggestions. I would love to have your input. What are your major parenting challenges that chronic illness aggravates? How have you dealt with them?