Saturday, June 25, 2016

Helping Your Kids Get a Grip on Grief (Part 1 of 3)

Divorce can be devastating, both to you and your children. Younger kids can’t often express or even know how it’s affecting them. 

Anticipating and understanding the three phases your child might go through helps you navigate your family through this season of life toward recovery. 

First they experience early grief, followed by acute grief and ending with acceptance. We will spend the next three posts exploring these phases. Today, let's talk about Phase 1: Early Grief

Look for these signs of grief early on, soon after they get news of the separation or divorce:

  •       Shock and numbing
  •       Separation anxiety where there was none before
  •       Alarm or feeling suddenly unsafe
  •       Consecutive illnesses back-to-back
  •       Denial or disbelief; refusing to acknowledge or talk about it
  •       Hyperactivity or impulsive behavior due to stress

In a pinch, some simple, temporary fixes can put a Band-Aid on the behavior. But keep in mind, the following are not solutions—deeper conversations and care are still needed.

  •       Don’t be afraid to bring up the obvious and ask them how they are coping with the break up. When parents don’t talk about it, they assume it must be a taboo topic they must deal with alone.

  •       Buy a watch for the child to give them a sense of control and awareness.

  •       Give older kids a house key to create a sense of ownership and place of stability.

  •       Try flannel bed sheets to calm children at bedtime.

  •        If they are in a new house, play soft music while they sleep, which drowns unfamiliar noises.

  •        As best you can, continue to keep normal bedtime routines they are used to, in order to bring even more stability and normalcy.

  •        Pray with the child when you’re tucking them in. Too often we undervalue the vital need for God’s intervention and healing. More than ever, your child needs to see your faith and dependence on God during trials.

Next week we will discuss Phase 2 and what this looks like for many. But for now, share what practical ideas you have used to help ease the transition for your child.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Four Steps for Responding to Crisis (In Light of the Orlando Shootings)

The two attacks in Orlando this past weekend (both on the night club and on singer Christina Grimmie) left many confused and traumatized. As of today we know more than 50 are dead and another 50 wounded. And the number keeps climbing. What can we do to show the love of God to those hurting? Below are a few suggestions that apply not only to a community crisis like we experienced yesterday, but also to divorce or other events that cause hurting and require caring recovery. Remember these 4 things: 

1. Take care of yourself first. This means listening to your own emotions and dealing with your own level of fear. Pay attention to your own trauma so you can manage any overwhelming emotions. Talk it out or write it down somewhere. Draw pictures if you need to. Anything to help you process.

2. Take care of family and friends second. Stabilize your emotions, and then reach out with compassion to those close to you. They need help too--especially teens and children.

3. Finally, (and only after you have helped yourself and your immediate family and friends) help others. But not just anyone. Seek out those most traumatized by the event. 

4. Pray. Pray for peace and comfort for yourself, your family and for those involved you may never meet in person. Nothing trumps intercession.

The ripple effect of any crisis is far reaching. But these same ripples remind us how to reach out to others. Talk to the people in the impact zone or “ground zero” first, and then you can reach out to people layer by layer. It might be an awful crisis, but together we can get through this.

This is a great opportunity to show the love and compassion of Christ. Psalm 91 is a perfect reference to stabilize someone during crisis. This is hope, but our only real hope is in Christ Jesus. Model his love when reaching out to the hurting. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Missing My Dad as Father's Day Approaches

FLOYD'S HANDS (written soon after my dad's funeral a few years ago)

Today I touched the cold, hard hands of my dad.
In his light blue casket, he wasn't really there.
That shell, just an empty house—
for a man who loved God until the end.

Those were the hands of a southern farm boy
Who grew up poor, an eighth grade education.
Dad’s hands never learned how to spell correctly.
But they knew how to enlist in the army.
There, his hands learned to clean a gun and clean potatoes.

Those hands worked in a Detroit auto factory
Sealing windshields into place.
The glue, ripping skin from those bare fingers.
Day after day he returned, muscling through the pain,
With those hard-working hands.

His hands folded in prayer one day, making Jesus his Redeemer. 
Before long his hands held those of a Christian woman.
Those grateful hands placed a wedding band on Mabel’s finger.
In time, those hands held four sons—me the youngest.

As a child I remember those hands.
They were younger.
Strong—no age spots, no wrinkles.
Up, way up, they lifted me,
Onto his broad shoulders,
Allowing me to touch the leaves of that old maple in our yard.

Those hands taught me to swim,
Supporting me in the murky waters of Lake Erie.
A hand on my chest, one on my thighs,
Teaching me to kick and stroke. 

On visits to his Tennessee hometown,
I was scared of the dark in that cold, dank house.
Myself in a cot, next to my parents,
His hand would reach down and hold mine.
I fell asleep, feeling that calloused palm. 

Those hands of Dad, catered food, taught Sunday School,
Drove a school bus, swabbed toilets.
They embraced my mother in the kitchen,
As he tenderly kissed her. Making me giggle.

Those hands wrestled with me on the floor,
Lifted me to his lap for cartoons on Saturday,
Drove me to church three times a week,
Scribbled notes in his bible,
And lifted skyward in worship—those hands. 

In my bedroom, his hands held mine,
As I prayed to receive Christ.
I was six.  

Those hands patted my head, spanked my bottom.
Taught me to build campfires,
And plant vegetable gardens.

Those hands repaired cars and built homes.
I watched and learned—sometimes, what not to do.

Those patient hands taught me to drive,
And co-signed my first car.
They buried my mother,
And waved goodbye when I left for college.

He was a strong man,
He had strong hands, but I no longer cared.
I had dreams for my own hands—I didn’t need his.

So on my own, I found love and married.
Dad’s hands touched each of my four kids,
But not nearly enough.
They grew up never really knowing
how lovely those hands could be. 

Eventually, my father’s hands held me again
As I wept on his shoulder, a divorced man.

His hands dialed my number,
Wrote notes of encouragement,
And folded in intercession, for me.
I’d never seen that side of Dad’s hands. 

Those hands got wrinkled.
But they held a microphone at my second wedding,
And they reached out to me with a blessing.

Those hands remained active.
Building church pews in South America,
On his one and only mission trip.

His hands rebuilt his life, when a flood took everything.
His hands cared for his second wife, as she grew weak.
His hands tried to catch himself when he fell,
But failed, until finally…

I held his hands in ICU,
The weak heart, the strokes, the slow fade.
Those strong hands disappeared,
Along with his voice.
Each visit, a possible last.

The years passed and I watched those hands turn pale.
Sometimes the nails were blue.
His hands grabbed a cane, then a walker.
And finally a wheelchair.

Where had those hands gone,
Those hands once so strong?

In time I watched those sweet hands
Lying humbly in his lap.
For it was my hand now,
Wiping his chin, lifting his legs.
Still other’s hands—strangers,
Caring for him.

Finally, Dad’s hands reached up through the clouds
To grasp his Savior’s.
Released from his shriveled shell,
His useless hands, liberated.

I’ll grasp them too, one day,
Those hands of Heavenly Father.
But today I touched the cold, hard hands of my dad.

In his light blue casket, he wasn't really there.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

It's Just a Gorilla

If you've seen the news this past week, by now you've heard about the Ohio zoo that had to kill an endangered gorilla. A boy fell into the exhibit and the gorilla grabbed him. forgive me, that's the short version. For all the details you can Google it. 

So anyway, people are outraged and want to punish the mother. Here's my thoughts, however unpopular they might be. 

It's just a gorilla, people. These are things we humans must do to subdue the Earth and rule over animals (Gen. 1:28). Regardless of how irresponsible you think some parent might be, in the end a child had to be saved. If he was the last gorilla on Earth, I'd probably still shoot it. Ok, I said it. 

Many of you already know, I have a Christian worldview which helps me gain a different perspective from those who don't understand the purpose animals were placed on this Earth. I'm not saying they were placed here solely to hunt and kill at our leisure. But we ARE supposed to value humans above animals. 

But here is the real question for you. If you are a single dad, you KNOW how hard it is to keep track of your kids. Sometimes they are just fast. I mean really fast. In a few short seconds they can run into a crowd, fall into the pool, hide in a clothes rack at the mall, you name it. 

This mom whose child got away from her needs grace. She doesn't need to be crucified. We have all been there. In John 8:7, when a woman was caught in adultry, Jesus said “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (ESV)

Let's step into her shoes for a moment. Let's say it was YOU whose child slipped away and fell into the gorilla cage. How should we deal with you after you have recovered from the panic, the fear of watching helplessly as your kid is dragged through a moat by his leg? 

After several minutes of crying out to your child, trying to calm him/her, while inside you are falling about and want to scream in should we treat you?

You child is saved--thanks to zoo officials who value your kid more than their animals. Your child is safe in your arms again. Now we want to take your children away from you and charge you for a crime. We want to call you an irresponsible single dad, a disgrace to all parents. What would you do?  How would you feel? 

Is it fair? Is it right? 

All opinions aside (Christians, Tree huggers, Atheists, whatever you are) is this the way to go, legally? Would this accusation hold up in court? Should it? Single dads I want to hear your take on this, from your perspective. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hope for You Hurting Dads

If you have a child who is emotionally troubled and ignoring you on Father's Day, I pray this article from Dena Yohe ministers to you. You are not alone!

If you enjoyed this blog entry from the Yohe's, they'd love to hear from you. Contact them by emailing