Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

gratitude0Being the parent of a wayward child who struggles with an addiction, is incarcerated, self-injures, is in a same-sex relationship, suffers with a brain disorder or a host of other issues, makes this a most difficult time of year. Giving thanks is so hard – downright torturous –  when your heart is heavy and broken; when you don’t see any answers to your prayers; when you have no idea what the future holds, but it doesn’t look good. It can feel impossible.

I remember a time like this in my own life when I was thought, “How in the world can I be thankful? It’s too hard. I don’t know how. I can’t.”

So, how can you express gratitude in the midst of this trial with your child? (more…)


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pray1Are you a parent in pain? Be honest–do you feel thankful? In my darkest days, I didn’t.

Does the mention of the word “thankful” make you want to run and hide? When your heart’s been broken by your beloved son or daughter the last thing you feel like doing is being thankful. If they’re incarcerated, have AIDS, are slowly killing themselves with alcohol or drugs (or maybe an eating disorder), suffer with a mental illness, threaten suicide repeatedly, self-injure continually but refuse help, you want the world to go away. I know. I’ve felt that way, especially when my daughter wasn’t doing well close to Thanksgiving.

But wait – there’s so much to be thankful for, EVEN when you’re in pain because of your child’s choices, behaviors and struggles. You may say, as  I once did, “Shut up and don’t talk to me. It ain’t happening. How can I? There’s nothing to be thankful for! ”

I know,  I know . . . it’s so easy to get stuck (more…)

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Holidays are the most difficult time of the year for anyone in emotional pain, especially for hurting parents. Their hearts are full of pain and sadness over their child’s struggles and destructive choices. It may be from any number of things: Alcohol, drugs, porn, self-injury, mental illness, eating disorders, trouble with the law, same-sexual identity issues and more.

Sometimes you wish you could skip the holidays altogether. You certainly don’t feel thankful or festive.  All you can think about is the last trauma or anticipate the next one. You wonder where God is and how you will survive this so-called happy season. (more…)

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*Welcome today’s guest blogger, Betsy Bradshaw. I believe you will find much encouragement and hope as she shares her story with honesty and openness. She’s learned some valuable lessons and even found  joy on the journey.

This has not been an easy journey for me these past few years. Our older son was making poor choices where we were serving as missionaries winding pathoverseas, so we returned to the U.S. a year early for our furlough, to get him some counseling. When he continued abusing substances, we thought we might need to take him to live in a homeless shelter when he turned eighteen.

My husband and I decided that if he hadn’t stopped his substance abuse by his birthday, we wouldn’t allow him to live at home anymore.

But God answered our prayers, and today he is doing much better. It hasn’t been easy, though. He’s been through two rehab programs and three counselors. Except for two small slips, he’s been clean for almost a year.

Has he come to the Lord? No, not yet. (more…)

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Mimi's visit to help the new parents 027Sunday is Father’s Day. Are you a dad whose heart is broken and burdened, full of pain and worry,  fear and rejection?  Father’s Day is one of those difficult days when memories of the time your children were small flood your mind. Emotions tend to be stronger. You wish you could skip the day. Everyone seems to be planning time with their children – except you. Maybe your other children are present – but not “that one”.

Your neighborhood may be full of family activities. Your friends and relatives may be asking what you will be doing.  Or at work the next day they’ll be asking how your Father’s Day was – which means you’re supposed to brag on how loving and thoughtful your children were, showing you how much they love you.

Not!  Maybe you just wish you knew where they were or if they’re even alive. It’s a terrible place to be. (more…)

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Memorial Flag for my dad a WWII veteran

Memories.  They can be wonderful.  They can be terrible.  Tomorrow is Memorial day.  A day to remember.  We will pause as Americans to remember and give thanks for all who now serve or have served in the armed forces.  We will honor those who gave their lives in that service.

Parents of our servicemen/women have both wonderful and terrible memories of the things their child has experienced.  I think I have something in common with them.  We both have memories we treasure and memories we wish we could forget.  Some have had their children return home maimed for life.  Some gave the ultimate sacrifice – their children’s lives.  Both of us had no choice.  We had to accept what life gave us.  When that includes loss and grief, we want to forget.  We want to deny and run away from the pain.

As parents in pain because of our children’s destructive choices, there are some things we must not forget.

First, we must not forget to feel our feelings.   We tend to deny or run away from overwhelming emotions.  It’s too hard.  It’s too frightening.  We must find a way to stand strong and face them.  Our child may still be alive, but we are grieving.  We are grieving the loss of the dreams we had for them.  By facing this pain it loses some of its devastating power over us.  We find peace.  We find freedom.

Second, we must not forget the good memories we had with them.  Dear mom or dad, no matter how bad things are with your son or daughter today it wasn’t always that way.   I want to encourage you to pause —  take a few minutes to remember the good years you had with them.  There were good times.  It hasn’t all been bad.  It just feels like it.  There is a lot to remember and give thanks for.

So tonight or tomorrow pause and remember.  Get out your old photo albums and home videos.  Jog your memory.  Use them to help you remember better times.  Have your own Memorial Day (and be sure to give thanks).   Remember the fun, the laughter, the love.  The “remembering” may hurt and re-open some wounds.  There will probably be a few tears shed, a few sighs of longing for what was.  But try not to get stuck there.   Remembering just might bring you some healing.   There were so many precious moments . . .  so many things to be thankful for . . . for what you did have with them . . . for what they added to your life.

Yes, things have changed, but hold on to your loving memories.  They are a gift.

I thank you God for the many good, loving memories we shared and for the ability to remember.  I don’t have Alzheimer’s yet!   Although sometimes I wonder!    :o)

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Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  A special day of joy for many moms, but a sad day of emotional pain for many others.  If your child is causing you a lot of heartache and pain due to their negative behaviors (alcohol and drug abuse, self harm, an eating disorder, trouble with the law, same sex identity issue, etc.) it is a day that you wish you could skip.  Every holiday hurts, but Mother’s Day feels the worst.  This one focuses on all that you wish you had with your child but have lost.  It elevates your pain.  It reminds you about your broken dreams and your broken heart.  The reminders are everywhere.  TV commercials, stores where you shop, ads on the internet and in the newspaper.  You’re surrounded.

You may hear from your child.  You may not. You may see them.  You may not.  You may get a card.  You may not.  Maybe you would just be happy to know where they are or that they are okay.  If any of these describe you, I have 5 tips for you.  They are the same I give on every holiday.  They really do help.  I hope something here will help you.

5 Tips for Surviving Mother’s Day:

1) Adjust your expectations – lower them.  If you can, let go of them altogether.  This will help you be content with whatever happens.  Let go of needing a certain thing to happen.  If you don’t you are setting yourself up to be hurt and disappointed.

2) Consider doing things differently – maybe your former traditions will just make you more sad or be too difficult to do in light of your situation.

3) Avoid social media – hearing about your friend’s blessings with their children can make you feel worse than you already do and envious (not good)

4) Focus on others – do something for someone else who is hurting or lonely

5) Be grateful – keep giving thanks no matter how you feel; start a gratitude journal (even the smallest things count!)

A book that will comfort you and help you keep your sense of humor (is that possible?) is Where Does a Mother Go to Resign? by Barbara Johnson.  Click here to watch Barbara herself say a few words about it on Youtube.   I just finished reading one of her other books, When Your Child Breaks Your Heart,  and found it very insightful.  She’s been in the pit of despair yet found her way out.  Two of her sons died and a third was living a gay lifestyle.  She lost her sense of humor for a while, but through her faith she found it again.

Laughter.  Hmmm . . . maybe this should be #6 on my list?  Laugh.  Laugh hard if you can.  Let’s be honest.  It may make you angry with me for suggesting such a thing.  You may be wondering how in the world you can laugh again?  I know.  I’ve been there.  But if you can find a way to have a really good laugh it will do so much for you.  It releases those “feel good” chemicals throughout your body.  So, go watch a funny movie.  Read some jokes (or have someone tell you a few!).  Watch silly Youtube videos.  I like America’s Funniest Videos and re-runs of really old sitcoms like I Love Lucy, The Carol Burnett Show and Happy Days.  Whoa.  They are really old, aren’t they? Maybe that will give you a laugh!  I am so glad God created us with the capacity for humor and laughter.  I need to go add that to my gratitude journal!  Ha!  :o)

Happy Mother’s Day and God bless you with his comforting love.  And may He give you the gift of a good laugh sometime during the day.  If you need a little help click on a few of the links above and watch a one of the video clips.   I bet something there will help you laugh!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh . . .”(Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4a)


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