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Category Archives: Family

7 Ways to Help Children Cope with FEAR

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No doubt, the tragic incident in Conneticut has caused fear in all of us. Imagine the fear in the innocent mind of a child. How does a parent or teacher address this fear?

Here are 7 suggestions:

Don’t assume – Don’t assume just because your child doesn’t mention what happened that they don’t know or care. Fear is a nomal reaction, especially for a child. Watch for unusual behavior. Be aware of mood changes or extreme sadness. Make sure they know it’s okay to talk about it and that there is no shame or disappointment from you when they are fearful. Maybe tell them of a time you were afraid…even a recent time.

Limit exposure – You’re curious, so the television may be on news stations. What are they covering right now? Remember they process information different from how you do. They may not appear to be watching, but they probably are more than you think. Fill their minds with things to encourage them not perpetuate the fear. This is a time to turn off the television and simply play with your kids. They’ll get no better assurance.

Ask questions – You may think they are afraid of one thing, but it is something completely different. Many times children, especially young children, are simply confused or have misinformation. You can better address the fear if you know its roots.

Assure them – Let them know they are safe. Don’t lie to them, but remember the chances of the same thing happening to them is rare…very rare. Remind them you’d do anything to protect them. You may need to help them process for weeks to come. Don’t rush them to “get over it”. Pray for and with them often.

Live normal – As much as possible, live a normal weekly schedule. Their routine is part of their “security blanket.” Don’t allow their fear to cripple them or the family for long. In spite of our fears, we have to move forward.

Be calm – Especially during this stressful time, don’t let your children see you in panic. Watch what you say in front of them. Parents shouldn’t fight in front of kids anytime, but especially during a time of uncertainty like this. Renew your faith. They get their faith through you.

Give them Scripture – They need something they can cling to as permanent and dependable. What better place than the Word that will never fade? Recite Psalm 56:3 to them. If they are old enough, write it down somewhere they can see it often. Memorize some verses of strength and share with them often.

Ron Edmondson

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We often have no idea what to say in the face of senseless loss. That is especially true when children are the victims of tragedy. Yesterday’s massacre in Connecticut is heartbreaking in so many ways, not the least of which is the staggering loss of children.

Anyone ministering in the ER after senseless tragedies will hear incredibly bad theology coming from people who think they are helping. Untruth and conjectures do not make a situation better.

Here are five things not to say to grieving family and friends:

1. “God just needed another angel.”

Portraying God as someone who arbitrarily kills kids to fill celestial openings is neither faithful to God, nor helpful to grieving parents.

2. “Thank goodness you have other children,” or, “You’re young. You can have more kids.”

Children are not interchangeable or replaceable. The loss of a child will always be a loss, no matter how many other children a parent has or will have.

3. He/she was just on loan to you from God.

The message is that God is so capricious that God will break parents’ hearts at will just because God can. It also communicates to parents and loved ones that they are not really entitled to their grief.

4. God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

Actually, some people do get a lot more than any one person should ever have to handle. Don’t trivialize someone’s grief with a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mentality.

5. “There, there, pull yourself together.”

Jesus did not say this to the family when he stood at the grave of Lazarus. Instead, he himself stood and wept. Job tore his garments and fell to ground – yet, the text says, he did not sin in doing this.

And here are five things to say:

1. This breaks the heart of God.

From beginning to end, the Bible speaks of God’s emotions of grief and anger at evil and his heart for the brokenhearted. He invites us to come to him, tell him our grieve, and know he is approachable.

2. It’s okay to be angry, and I’m a safe person for you express that anger to if you need it.

Anger is an essential part of the grieving process, but many don’t know where to talk about it because they are often silenced by others when they express their feelings. (For instance, they may be told they have no right to be angry at God.) By saying you are a safe person to share all feelings, including anger, with, you help the grieving person know where they can turn.

3. What happened is not okay.

It seems so obvious, but sometimes this doesn’t get said. Sometimes the pieces don’t fit. Sometimes nothing works out right. And sometimes there is no way to fix it. Naming it can be helpful for some because it lets them know you won’t sugarcoat their grief. The writers of Scripture often asked, “How long, O Lord, how long does this have to go on?”

4. I don’t know why this happened.

When trauma happens, the shock and emotion comes first. But not long after comes our human need to try to explain “why?” The reality is that often we cannot. The grieving person will likely have heard a lot of theories about why a trauma occurred. Sometimes it’s best not to add to the chorus, but to just acknowledge what you do not know.

5. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I care and I am here for you in whatever way you would like.

Even if you have faced a similar loss, remember that each loss is different. Saying “I know how you’re feeling” is often untrue. Instead, ask how the grieving person is feeling. And then ask what you can do to help. Then, do it and respect the boundaries around what they don’t want help with at this point. You will be putting some control back into the hands of the grieving person, who often feels like they have lost so much of it.

It goes without saying – but sensitive, short and trusting prayer is both right and needed.

Adapted from an article by Emily Heath

I once heard Tom Elliff describe how he and his wife, Jeannie, get away for a private retreat every year. Once, while sharing a meal in an intimate restaurant, Tom asked Jeannie these questions – he wanted to listen to his wife’s words and hear from her heart.

He said, “you must promise to answer them honestly. I want to know your heart.”

I’ve asked Ruthe these questions several times over the years. The answers can be surprising, even painful, but ultimately, they make me a better friend and lover.

1. What could I do to cause you to feel more loved?

2. What could I do to cause you to feel more respected?

3. What could I do to cause you to feel more understood?

4. What could I do to cause you to feel more secure?

5. What could I do to cause you to feel more confident in our future direction?

6. What attribute would you most like me to develop?

7. What attribute would you like me to help you develop in yourself?

8. What achievement in my life would bring you greatest joy?

9. What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christ-like?

10. What mutual goal would you like us to accomplish?

 

 

Words few parents want to hear.

Then, shock, fear, shame, guilt, questions (“How will we deal with….?” “What will our friends think?”)

As a pastor who has walked down this road with numerous parents and siblings, I appreciated the sound wisdom of the recent Harvest Newsletter.

What do you do when you find gay pornography on your child’s computer? What do you say when he or she comes home for Christmas and announces, “I think I’m gay?”

While there are no easy answers, here are suggestions proven by time and the Scriptures.

1. You don’t need to know all the answers, or all the questions. You don’t have to respond right now. You’ve got a lot to think about.

2. Affirm your love for your child. Nothing should cause you to lost that love. Keep the lines of communication and relationship open. Ultimately, your child is not rebelling against you.

3. Ask him/her what they mean? HOw long felt like this? Is this a conclusion drawn because of gay feelings?

4. You don’t need to know details of your child’s sexual activity. When a child is over 18, it is enough to ask, “are you in a relationship? With whom?” If the child is under 18, ascertain the level of behavior: is it limited to porn? Has there been sexual contact? Have laws been broken? Has a predator been involved? This can be a difficult conversation and a Christian counselor can certainly help.

5. Ask your child if he is content to be gay, or if he wants to change?

6. You can’t change your child – no matter how hard you pray, or plead, or threaten, or convincingly argue. Only a transforming relationship with Jesus will lead to a heart change which leads to behavioral change.

7. Your child doesn’t need to become straight. Yes, you read that right. What your child needs is what God calls everyone to – a life of faith and repentance. Heterosexual sex will not solve problems. The opposite of homosexuality is not being straight – it is believing the truth about God and living a lifestyle of faith and repentance, a life of worship of Jesus.

8. Your child’s struggle with homosexuality is something the Lord means for your good You can’t control your child’s struggle or repentance. YOu can respond to what God is calling you to do – live a life of faith and repentance yourself.

9. Bring others in. No matter how strong you are, you can’t deal with this alone. This may be the greatest battle of all – to share your heart with trusted and spiritually mature friends.

10. Boundaries may be necessary to protect your child or your family. Boundaries are not punitive or manipulative. Boundaries are in the spirit of speaking the truth in love.

11. Pray, love him and give him space to make his own decisions. You can respect those decisions, without condoning or agreeing with them. You can be honest about your hurt, but do not withhold your love.

12. God has placed you in this situation with a son or daughter who is struggling. He is at work in a 1000 ways you can’t see.He has not forgotten you.

 

Every year, I get away for several days near the end of year – to reflect, to pray and to plan. It is one of the most intense, most enjoyable, and most valuable things I do. My spirit is renewed, my love for Jesus, His church, and my family is refreshed.

I use a number of questions to help me process the previous year.

Here are several:

1. What are the 2-3 events that defined 2011 for me?

2. What people, books, accomplishments, or special moments created highlights in 2011?

3. How did I do in the following areas during 2011: vocationally, spiritually, family, relationally, emotionally, financially, physically, recreationally.

4. What am I trusting God for in 2012 ? What are the goals I want to accomplish in 2012?

5. Is a majority of my energy being spent on things that drain me or things that energize me?

6. Where do I want to be 5 years from now? 10 years? 

7. What have I been putting off that I need to take care of before the end of the year?

8.What are the unique needs of my wife at this season in her life and our marriage? What do my children need from me this year?

What other questions might be helpful in a survey like this? 

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Corrie (my daughter), Sadie (my granddaughter), Nathan (my son-in-law, who beat me by 7 minutes!), myself and Ruthe (who did not run but if she had, she would have also beaten me!)

These pics were taken by my daughter, Sarah, just outside Little Rock, Arkansas, where she lives.

Look closely at the saddlebags. Yes, those are real dogs – alive but not so well.

These pics were taken by my daughter, Sarah, just outside Little Rock, Arkansas, where she lives.

Look closely at the saddlebags. Yes, those are real dogs – alive but not so well.

Last night, Ruthe and I had the privilege of participating in a commissioning service for one of our sons. He and his wife and children are headed to the Middle East to live and serve Christ.

Here are the words we spoke to our son:

Dad: Your mom and I want to say publicly what we’ve said in private: you go with our blessing and full support. We will miss you terribly, but we believe in you, God’s calling and His hand on your life.

Mom: I gave you a life verse:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

How do you do this?

By knowing who you are in Christ. This is Christ-centered confidence in your Christ-centered worth.

Learn who the enemy is and resist him victoriously.

Jesus is your Jehovah-Nissi, your banner of victory. As you lift up the name of the Mighty Warrior, He fights your battles and you can stand against the enemy.

Dad: We are proud of you.

We are proud of the choices you have made in your life.
We are proud of your heart for God.
We are proud of the way you have persevered through suffering.
We are proud that you have not been disobedient to the heavenly vision – you turned from West Point to go to the nations.
We are proud of the fact that you have chosen obedience over security and comfort.
We are proud of the way you have stewarded your gifts and prepared yourself for effective service.
We are proud of the work you have done at your church in developing the international missions program.
We are proud of your boldness in sharing your faith.
We are proud of the men you have discipled. You have followed the example of Jesus and Paul.
We are proud of the way you have sought to humble yourself and deal with your besetting sins. We are under no illusions about your need for Jesus, so we are grateful for your understanding and appropriation of the gospel.
We are proud of the way you honor your wife and lead her and your children in the ways of righteousness.
We are grateful for the way you have honored us.
We are grateful for the Muslims you brought into our home Christmas after Christmas.

We want you to hear these words from the heart of parents who love you dearly.

You then, our son and daughter-in-law, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 2 Timothy 2:1-7

Mom: Remember, more than anything, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will be with you wherever you go!

Given on July 22, 2011, Commissioning and Prayer Gathering for our son and daughter-in-law

1st, a Christ-follower thinks, “God made summer.” (Ps 74:17)

2nd a Christ-follower asks, “Why did God make summer?

Everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory! Rom 11:36 (NLT)

Everything was created through Jesus and for Him. Col 1:17 (NLT)

3rd, a Christ-follower asks, “OK, if God is giving me this summer to glorify Him, how can my family and I best do that in the way we spend our summer?

Here’s one answer.

This summer, we’re going to find ways to see, savor and show Christ.

We’re going to see Him.

We’re going to enjoy His world, so lots of time outside. We’re going to look for him in sports and cookouts, music and books, the lake and the city, home and wherever we travel, family time and solitude. I intend to end every day by answering one question – “where did I see God today?”

We’re going to savor Him

We’re going to make much of Jesus by gathering with His people to worship whenever possible. We intend to try to thank Him instead of griping. I want to talk to him first thing and last thing every day. I want to sing to Him and about Him to myself (no one wants to hear me serenade them – even about God!) I want to memorize a verse each week. I want to read a different Bible version this summer. I’ll try to trust his sovereignty in everything. This summer, I’m going to end each day by reminding myself, “God is for me, not against me.”

We’re going to show Him

Since God is love, we’re going to find some way to show love to someone new every day. At the end of each day, I want to know who saw Jesus in me.

What is summer for?

Summer is for seeing, savoring and showing Christ.

On Sunday, Feb 6, I was in an early Sunday morning prayer meeting when my phone rang. Our local fire department informed me that my wife had fallen, was in great pain, and they were breaking in the house to get to her. I said, “tear the house down – just get to her.” That phone call enrolled me in a new class in the school of discipleship.

During the last two and one-half months, my life has radically changed. I have been the primary care-giver for my wife. The nature and location of the break means she cannot put any weight on the leg for about three months. For her, this means being restricted to a wheelchair and walker, physical therapy and constant care, pain and helplessness. For me, it means laundry and house-keeping, grocery-buying and a hundred small details that are necessary in care-giving.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

1. Jesus is building the church – not me.

I am planting a church. We are only a few months old as a church – and now, I am extremely limited in who I can meet, where I can go and what I can do. Caring for my wife and the home is sometimes all-consuming of my time and attention.

Several months ago, I had asked our Student Pastor to preach on that particular morning. It is God’s grace and providence that allowed me to be able to leave that morning with no worries about preaching or the church. In fact, at least one conversion took place that morning!

My staff and the lay leaders of the Orchard have stepped up to the leadership challenge and led well over the last several months. They have been understanding, patient and hard-working. I lead a high capacity and dedicated group of people.

2. Trials are synchronized.

This happened three days after moving into a new and smaller house. Imagine boxes and chaos in every room! In addition, my aging parents live 500 miles away and are rapidly declining in health. And, we are at that all-important, all-consuming stage in church planting when we establish membership, place elders in place, and launch community ministries. It is difficult to imagine a more “interesting” time for this to happen.

3. I really am more flawed and “high maintenance” than I thought.

Testing reveals the truth about us – and sometimes, it’s not pretty. Sins have sprouted in me like dandelions in my yard. My emotions have swung from anger to jealousy, from fear to self-pity and pride. It has been a battle to pray, to stay God-centered and Ruthe-oriented. The truth is – I preach better than I live. I am being humbled.

4. I am more loved than I dared think.

God has sustained my strength. We have had wonderful meals provided by so many people. A number of women have volunteered to stay with Ruthe when I needed to leave. We have been the object of a prayer chain involving dozens of people each day. And God has not killed me for my sins. Ruthe has not fired me because of my irritability. It’s all grace!

5. God is a God of process

Healing is often not instantaneous. Nor is growth in Christ-likeness. Marriage is a day-to-day, “poco-a-poco” deal, as is church planting, evangelism, leadership development and most other important things in life. This is cause for hope!

6. I delight in my children, and God uses them as a means of grace.

All of our children are married and have lives of responsibility and pressure of their own. Two live out of town. Yet, each one has found unique ways to be present, support, encourage and help. Each one has been in constant contact and prayer for us. Each one, together with their spouses, have traveled to be with us. Each one has put his or her agenda on hold in order to assist us in practical and creative ways. Each one has helped us smile, laugh and forget out troubles. Each one has encouraged us in the Lord.

More to come.

From my son Charlie…

I know it is a subject widely debated among Memphians. I also know that any possibility of arrival at a definite consensus in the matter is near impossible. However, today, I stand proudly at my desk, as I write this, and proclaim boldly that Highpoint Pizza is, hands down, absolutely the best pizza in the Mid South.

Alright. Maybe I’m biased, or inexperienced, or loyal to my own neighborhood, (I live across the street from Highpoint Pizza). Maybe this is a waste of blog space. Maybe you think differently. That’s okay- thank God we live in a country where we get the freedom to enjoy our choices in pizza.

Last night, around 6:45, the tornado siren’s wailed in Highpoint Terrace. Both of my parents called to make sure Bekah and I had a safe place to go in case a tornado headed our way. I cleared out the bottom half of the coat closet in our little apartment so the two of us, and Lily our dog, could awkwardly squeeze in and avoid getting blown away if worse came to worse. Then, I grabbed an umbrella, put on my boots, and set out across the street to our little pizza Mecca.

Pepperoni, black olives and peppercinis. We had about an hour to eat before people started showing up for our Thursday night Bible study, and ironically enough, about an hour left in the tornado watch. I, as a Christian man responsible for my household in the light of possible impending, tornadic disaster, was not about to let the Shaw house go hungry out of fear. God had provided the money to eat Highpoint, and letting that go because of a twister was not an option. I was taught better.

So, I forged the storm, endured the wind and the rain, and safely arrived at my destination a long 50 yards from my front door. When I stepped inside, everything changed.

The warm, yellow light poured peacefully, and hopefully onto my face as laughter from lighthearted patrons tickled my ears. The chef was smiling ear to ear as he swapped stories, over the counter, with one of his friends nursing a beer he happily paid way too much for. To my right, a young couple, locked in each other’s gaze, ate pepperoni while medium tempo classic rock added a little edge to the flowering ambience, intermingled with the low murmur of yesterday’s game playing on the plasma TV.

So, what’s my point? I promise it’s coming, hang with me.

While I was standing in line to pick up my pizza, a guy who looked about 19 or 20 years old came barging into the door. He was wet, slightly out of breath, disheveled and wild eyed. The glaze of atmospheric contentment on the face of the girl working the counter quickly melted to a mild, questioning, awe and curiosity towards the character invading our little pizza party.

“There’s a tornado warning!” He blurbed.

“You should probably turn on the news!” The words came reluctantly, then faded, quickly, between breaths as he took note of his surroundings.

The warm, peacefulness of the room remained unaltered. His frantic reminder of the unknown dangers outside were discredited by his inability to fit into the exclusive, and carefully crafted, vibe of his surroundings. The warning he provided echoed once, and quickly slipped from memory as the sirens howled just outside the huge storefront window.

“. . .Ok. . .”, the girl at the counter mumbled in frustration as she passed back into her semi-hypnotic, state of contentment.

The game continued. The classic rock continued. The overpriced beer nursing continued. The playful romancing continued. The wild-eyed messenger, defeated and corrected, reset his demeanor in a failed attempt to fit in with the rest of the room.

Later, when I got back home, the storm died down, along with the threat of impending doom. As Bekah and I ate the greatest pizza in the universe, I thought about what had happened.

In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins. The parable reminds us that we do not know when Jesus, our bridegroom, will return, and that we are to be watchful, and prepare for his coming.

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul charges Timothy, his disciple, to preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Friends, we live in trying times. Temporal matters and institutions compete for our passions. False teachers of the world lure us away from the truth and lead us into myths. Like the unprepared virgins of Jesus’ parable, we can often be found drowsy, and unready to usher in the return, and working our bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

I am grateful that the tornados stayed far away from Highpoint Terrace, however, last night at the pizza place, there was no way of knowing it would be like that. Ask anyone from Oklahoma, North Texas, or Kansas, and they could probably tell you story after story exemplifying the importance of Tornado sirens, and how we should absolutely heed their warning.

Let us not be like the girl at the counter and retreat into dreamy malaise in the face of the storm warning. God has equipped us with the power of the Holy Spirit, and the authority of his Word. We live in a world seduced, enthralled, and chained to sin. Sleepy, oblivious, ignoring of the proverbial sirens is not an option for us.

I also don’t mean we should be like the guy who barged into the restaurant. We should not be disconnected, oblivious, wild-eyed alarm sounders.

Like Paul urges Timothy, we should be aware of the times we live in, and endure the suffering that comes with it. In a sober-minded way, let us diligently work for the making of disciples, preparing for Christ’s return.

One of my favorite things about the Gospel is that we are made able to do these things Paul talks about. At the same time, we don’t need to live like medieval monks, and are free to enjoy the good things God has given us and blessed the world with.

So, my friends, if you’ve made it all of the way through this lengthy blog post, cut yourself a break and head down to Highpoint Pizza, I promise it’s great. Just remember to watch out for tornadoes.


A 1951 laughable thought: IIn 50 years the President of the United States will refuse to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

A 2011 laughable thought: In 50 years the President of the United States will refuse to exclude from marriage a man and a chimp.

Are you laughing?

My young friend, Adam Waddell, read my “tickler” about the sermon yesterday and sent a great response. His answer to the question, “what two actions must a spouse take in order to have a successful marriage?” was 1. Repent, 2. Repent.

Well said.

Why do we quit paying attention? Because it is hard work to care, it is hard work to discipline ourselves to be careful, and it is hard work to always be thinking of the other person.

Be prepared to have your feelings hurt: you and I tend to want the other to work hard because that will make our lives easier, but we don’t really want to have to sign in for the hard work ourselves.

Oh, I’m not done! I think there is an epidemic of marital laziness among us. We want to be able to coast and have things not only stay the same but get better. And I am absolutely persuaded that laziness is rooted in the self-centeredness of sin.

We have already examined the antisocial danger of this thing inside us that the Bible calls sin. We have already considered that it turns us in on ourselves, but it does something else. It reduces us to marital passivity. We want the good things to come to us without the hard work of laying the daily bricks that will result in the good things. And we are often more focused on what the other is failing to do and more focused on waiting for him to get his act together than we are on our own commitment to doing whatever is daily necessary to make our marriages what God intended them to be.

You can have a good marriage, but you must understand that a good marriage is not a mysterious gift. No, it is, rather, a set of commitments that forges itself into a moment-by-moment lifestyle.

Paul Tripp