Just some random, irrelevant, humorous, and hopefully inspiring musings on life, love, faith, widowhood, remarriage, adoption, blended families, caring for a handicapped child, mothering seven children, chickens, cooking, grief, over-coming grief, and everything else in between. Just Keep Livin!!

I’m excited to have Chelsea Patterson Sobolik offering a guest post today about being sensitive to the needs of the childless mothers.  She has also graciously given me a copy of her book Longing for Motherhood to give away to one reader.  To be entered, simply comment on this post.  I will draw a winner on May 24th.

 

Sitting in the pews of every church are men and women struggling with the excruciating pain of childlessness. For some, it might be infertility, trying month after month with no success, to finally get pregnant. For others, it might be a miscarriage, the death of their precious anticipated little one that’s left them heartbroken. Regardless of the particular circumstances, the trial of childlessness is one of the most difficult and devastating that someone can experience. Living in the nightmare that is infertility cuts to the very core of the way humanity was designed. One of the first commandments the Lord gave Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply. When a couple struggles to bear babies, they can quickly feel guilt and shame over their inability to fulfill that commandment.

I’m all too familiar with the ache to be a mother, but natural motherhood won’t come. With a tear stained face, I’ve entered into the greatest wrestling match of my life with the Lord. “God, I don’t understand!” I’ve cried out in prayer. “You’ve placed this longing on my heart, only to leave me with an unfulfilled desire!” Over the years, I’ve shared the cries of my heart with close friends and trusted companions at my church, as they’ve helped me walk through my sorrow.

The Church is God’s household, filled with God’s children. It should be a beacon of comfort and hope. A place where people will feel cared for, heard, understood and unconditionally loved. Christians know that they will face trials, and they must be armed and equipped to care for the wounded and the hurting among the Saints. Below are a few suggestions for pastors, elders, and church members on how to care for the childless in your congregations.

Remind People that Grief is Godly

Those grieving childlessness are grieving a dream deferred. Proverbs 13:12 tells us that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Come alongside the childless and grieve with them. Remind them that it’s okay to feel the hurt, pain and loss. That they don’t have to quickly “get over” their sorrow, but they have a Savior who’s well acquainted with grief, and was the man of all sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). Encourage them to take their grief, and press into the arms of the Beloved who knows their pain.

Preach Good Sermons

Make it a point to regularly incorporate the childless into sermons. Remember that the Bible is full of women that have struggled with the longing to be a mother. (Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth) Dive into these passages, and preach Gospel-centered sermons that will encourage the souls of the weary.

Pray With and on Behalf of the Childless

David was bold in his prayers before the Lord. He knew where to take his questions, his grief, his pain, and his longings – straight into the heart of his Father. Prayer should should be the first thing Christians do with and on behalf of the childless. In the Psalms, we see that David’s most trusted companion and friend was the Lord, but we also see that David wasn’t afraid of sharing exactly what was on his mind and heart. In Psalm 13, he bluntly asks the Lord how long he’ll have to suffer. David felt forgotten, and bent the ear of the Lord in his sorrow and frustration.

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2)

Hannah, a woman who intimately knew the pain of infertility, wasn’t shy to bring her pain and tears before the Lord in prayer. The Bible says that “she was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” Hannah’s prayers were so fervent that Eli, the priest thought she was drunk.

We should take the charge to weep with those who weep seriously and come alongside the suffering with words of comfort and truth. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Point Their Eyes To The Lord

The most important thing the church can do is redirect the gaze of the childless to Christ. Give them room to grieve the loss of their dream, or the loss of their baby. Please don’t feel the need to swoop in, and slap Bible verses on their suffering. Yes, the word of God is inspired and inherent, but shouldn’t be viewed or used as a quick fix. Learn how to sit with someone in their grief, and how to gently point their eyes to the Lord in the midst of their trials. One of the most comforting verses in the bible is found in Revelation 21:4, where the Lord promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes. Until that day, remember that the Lord is present as each tear falls. Suffering is inevitable while we live in a fallen world, but may we ensure that no one suffers alone.

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik is the author of Longing for Motherhood, and has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives on issues such as child welfare, religious freedom, adoption, and foster care policy. Chelsea was adopted as a newborn from Bucharest, Romania, grew up in North Carolina, and then graduated from Liberty University. She and her husband Michael live in Washington, D.C.

Written by Chelsea Patterson Sobolik author of Longing for Motherhood, Moody Publishers 2018

Excited to have a guest on my blog today!

Arlene Pellican is a speaker and co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Dr. Gary Chapman). Arlene’s other books include 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She has been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Arlene worked as the Associate Producer for Turning Point Television with Dr. David Jeremiah. Arlene earned her BA from Biola University and her Masters in Journalism from Regent University. She lives in San Diego with her husband James and their three children. To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit www.ArlenePellicane.com.

I overheard a little girl say to an adult volunteer at school, “Make me.”

I was surprised at the girl’s audacity. She glared as if to say, “Who do you think you are to tell me what to do?” As a child, I would have never dreamed of disobeying an adult like that.

Whether you peek into a classroom, church, or family room, it’s not unusual to find children who show little respect for adults. What has happened in the past few generations to create bad, bold changes in children? Why are kids more demanding, entitled, less respectful, and more emotionally fragile than previous generations. Kids are exerting their voices loudly while parents and adults are stifling and questioning theirs.

Parents have lost their way.

We as adults are the leaders of our homes. Yet many parents are more comfortable being buddies with their kids. This does a tremendous disservice to kids because children need parents, not tall friends. Rebellion grows when authority is absent. When mothers and fathers relinquish control, mutiny inevitably follows.

Parents must first believe they are deserving of honor and respect. This isn’t just a nice idea; it’s a commandment by God. The fifth commandment reads in Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Obedience to this commandment is the bedrock of a decent and good society where there is respect for elders and authorities. The relationship children have with parents is the basis for their other relationships in life.

The word “honor” is from a root word meaning “weighty” (in terms of impressiveness or importance). When a child honors a parent, he assigns weight and importance to the words spoken by that parent. He honors the parent with appreciation. Children learn there is a loving moral authority to which they are accountable. Disrespect, which is the opposite of honoring, attacks the parent’s place of authority. When this breakdown occurs, it impacts the “long life on the earth” the Bible promises to those who honor their parents.

So how can we raise kids who respect authority and honor God? Here are three ways to get started:

Speak like a leader. Listen to your word choice and tone of voice when you give your child an instruction. Are you asking your child to do something or telling them? There is a big difference. “Time to come to dinner, okay?” is different than “Time to come to dinner.” I’ve noticed the tendency to tack “okay?” at the end of my sentences. I’m working on clipping off that final word so it doesn’t sound like I’m asking my kids questions all the time.
You might not tack on “okay,” but maybe your voice rises at the end of the sentence. That intonation turns it into a question. You don’t have to sound harsh or blow a whistle to make your children mind your instructions. Speak steadily with confidence, like a capable, caring authority figure.
Be picky with technology. Parents are needed more than ever to provide instruction, correction and boundaries regarding screen time. The content of most popular television, music, video games, and social media is working against your family values. Talk about a program after you watch it and what values are being promoted. You can evaluate your child’s screen time with these easy ABC’s:

Attitude: What is my child’s attitude like after the screen time?
Behavior: How does the content encourage my child to behave?
Character: What character traits are being modeled and picked up?

Consider how parents are being portrayed in the media to your children. Hollywood has made it common practice to make the father figure dumb and the kids geniuses. We’ve come a long way from shows like “Father Knows Best” and “Little House on the Prairie.”

Give your child a good name to live up to. Describe your child as respectful and self-controlled. When they listen to your instructions the first time, you can say something like “I really appreciate your obedience.” Give your children lots of positive attention when they act in a respectful, obedient manner. Let your kids overhear you praising their character to others. What if your child isn’t doing anything particularly respectful? Shakespeare said, “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” When your child observes your belief in his or her potential, he or she most likely will put greater effort into possessing the virtues you value.

Use drama. Kids love stories, so leverage stories to get your point across. Let’s suppose you’re going to grandma and grandpa’s house for a holiday. You can tell one story in which the kids act disrespectfully; demanding food from grandma, yelling and fighting right in front of grandpa, and running through the house. Then act out the opposite – kids who offer to help in the kitchen, who say thank you, and who follow house rules.

The greater culture hinges on what happens in the microcosm of our homes. Don’t be afraid to step up and lead your children. Your decisions won’t always be popular with your kids, but they will immeasurably blessed as they learn the importance of respect.

 

It can be difficult to understand the complexities of raising a special needs child if this calling is not part of your daily reality. I get it. I never gave these children nor their caretakers a second thought before I had a handicapped child. It’s hard to empathize with a situation without experience.

 

My goal in writing – in books, on the blog, and on social media – is to tell stories that portray all of the aspects of raising a special needs child – the demanding, the taxing, the beautiful, and the joy.

 

There is undoubtedly a blessing. These kids are closer to Heaven than we will ever be with their innocence and child-like faith. They teach us invaluable lessons about the nature of our heavenly father’s love and care for his children. They model joy, perseverance, and faith in quantities us “normal” folk can only dream about BUT –

 

Raising a special needs child is a massively exhausting undertaking as well.

 

A few weeks ago a friend’s 8 year old daughter unexpectedly passed away. This little girl was never supposed to survive; however, these kids often have a way of proving the experts wrong. I recently asked her mama if the new ease of life was haunting because when you live in special needs world, there are rarely moments of ease. It’s like being in a combat zone. You’re always mentally anticipating your child’s next basic needs – hunger, pain, angst, smell, what, where, when, why – all the time. These kids often don’t grow up and become independent so there is no end in sight which can feel overwhelming.

 

One of my greatest goals with The Lucas Project – a non-profit organization to assist special needs families in rural Tennessee – is to educate people on why they should care – even if it’s not a part of their daily reality.

 

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

 

These children are the least of the least of the least of these. They often have the mental and emotional capacity of an infant. They are usually physically unable to care for themselves without continual assistance, and without the loving intervention of caretakers, these children could not survive.

 

I would admonish you to care about these kids and their families because you don’t have to care, and that’s a blessing.

 

Special needs may not be a part of your daily reality, but it is a reality for 6.7 million children (nces.ed.gov) and often includes:

 

Bathing a grown child

Feeding – either by utensil or tube feeding – often restrained in a special chair.

Diapering a thirteen year old

Wondering at times if one day you’ll be diapering a thirty year old.

Restraining a teenager who has become aggressive due to puberty.

Entering the local ER in the middle of the night to play a guessing game for the next 24 hours as you try to determine the cause of angst in your non-verbal child.

Declining an invitation for a fun event because there is no one to watch your child, and he or she would cause disruptions and outbursts.

Attempting to distract a child who is frustrated and banging his head against his crib.

Sleeping with a baby monitor beside your head for 18 + years

Getting up multiple times in the middle of the night to administer meds, tubes or breathing equipment or to make sure your child is still alive.

Spending the majority of your free time in a doctor or therapist’s office.

Not being alone with your spouse in years because there is no one you trust to care for your child in your absence.

Suffering extreme pain and popping Advil like it’s candy because your child has grown too large for you to comfortably handle, and the strain is taking a toll on your aging body.

 

You should care about caretakers who experience stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and depression on a regular basis but don’t have the funds nor the time to address the problem, and in rural environments, lacking in professionals to even help address the problem!

 

You should care if you live where resources are plentiful because there are people who live in rural communities where resources are sorely lacking.

 

You should care if your children are healthy because there are parents who manage a child’s chronic illness every day of their lives.

 

You should care because we are all a part of this grand body known as humanity, and we have a moral obligation to care for one another, especially the least of these, like our lives depend upon it – because they do.

 

Please consider a donation to The Lucas Project so that we can all begin caring or check out TheLucasProject.org to learn more.

 

Just keep livin.

My dear husband, bless his heart, baked me a carrot cake for my birthday and even agreed to let the camera roll in the process.

He did a great job; however, I figured you might want a few more specifics like the quantities needed for many of the ingredients so here is the detailed recipe.

This cake was fantastic, and I’m not just saying that because I love carrot cake.  You will not miss any of the oil or sugar (which are substituted) – I promise.  The cake is moist, full of flavor, bursting with carrots and pecans, and is somewhat healthy – minus the frosting.  Sorry, we forgot to get a picture of the finished product before we dove in and enjoyed.

Cake 

1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup coconut oil – warmed and cooled
1/2 cup applesauce
4 eggs
3 cups of shredded carrots
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tea cinnamon
2 1/2 tea baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans.

Mix first three ingredients together. Add the eggs. Mix well. Add the carrots and mix. Combine flour, cinnamon and baking soda and slowly add to the liquids. Mix well. Stir in the pecans. Grease 3 cake pans and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

Frosting.
1 stick of butter
1 package of cream cheese
1 tea vanilla
24 ounces of powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans.
Mix first two ingredients well. Add vanilla. Mix. Add sugar slowly. Mix well and then add 1 cup of pecans.

 

 

Just keep livin!