Grief

writing for children

Death. Grief. Sorrow.

Those aren’t words that any of us like, especially when they involve those closest to us.

I don’t pretend to understand sorrow, though I have experienced it many times. I experienced it when my grandparents died. I experienced it when my own father was in a car accident, and again when my husband’s father lost his battle with cancer, and when my mama’s sister lost the same battle. I experienced it when husband’s grandmother passed on to glory. And I experienced it this week when my family buried not one… but two family members.

I can’t even begin to understand grief. It’s something we work through over time… and there is no time limit to it. Sometimes grief hits us like a tsunami, and it leaves a devastation in its wake that takes a long time to wade through and rebuild. Other times, grief drowns us in waves of memory, and we find ourselves crying in the middle of a busy aisle at Walmart for seemingly “no reason”.

But the tears flow for a reason. There is always a reason.

They flow because our souls feel a loss that can’t be put into words. They flow because we still love. They flow because we have lost part of us… and want that part of us back.

They flow because we are human – and we need each other. The tears flow because we are still alive. They are a sign of life… even in the midst of death.

After the death of his wife, Helen Joy, C.S. Lewis wrote,

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me.”

I am not a theologian. But I am a believer. And I believe that God is not silent, even when I can’t hear Him. And I believe that God is doing something for me – even when we can’t see Him. And I believe that God is holding me – even when I can’t feel Him.

David said, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
Or – as the Message translation puts it,

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
    through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
    each ache written in your book.”(Psalm 56:8)


Death. Grief. Sorrow.

Inevitable part of life? Yes. But it doesn’t mean we have to like it. 

Lewis wrote, “I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.”

He’s right. I’m just glad we don’t have to walk through the process alone.

Even if I pass through death-dark ravines,
I will fear no disaster; for you (Adonai) are with me;
your rod and staff reassure me.” (Psalm 23:4)


 

This is one of those posts with a numbered list…

writing for children

I read a great article today about youth pastors and how important it is for congregations to support them and their efforts to bless and teach our children. As the parent of a teen and two preteens – I am in 100% agreement! I’ve added a few things below from my own perspective.

1. You don’t have to have a youth in the group to offer to feed them, be a chaperone or just bless them. They will appreciate the banana puddings, brownies, oreos and whatever else you put on the table. Do you remember how little money you had when your kids were young and teenagers? Times are still the same for parents of teens right now. And the youth pastor? Probably doesn’t have a lot of extra change sitting around, either. Offer to host supper. They’ll scarf it down and lick the plates clean, so no washing required on your part.

2. Most youth ministers have a “servant’s heart” – or they wouldn’t be youth ministers. But they are not hired to be the rest of the church’s personal “handy-man” or “man-on-call”. They are servants of God… and so are we. We need to act like it.

3. Pay them a fair wage. And remember – they have more than a 9-5 job. They are here, there and everywhere. Football games, school plays, musicals, homes… wherever the youth are, you’ll find them there. If you can afford it, give your youth minister a bonus twice a year for gas mileage and for just being awesome. It would help more than you know.

4. Don’t take advantage of them. It’s easy to do because they have such servant hearts – but don’t do it. Don’t ask and don’t expect them to volunteer for every position that still needs a warm body. Matter of fact, keep them from being on too many committees or other jobs. You hired them to be a youth minister, give them enough time to do the one you pay them for.

5. Be patient. Be kind. Don’t be a bully. Don’t gossip about them. Don’t expect more from them than you are willing to give. Don’t expect them to be you and do all that you do at church… they are not you. They have a job to do. Don’t push them to do yours.

6. Remember… youth ministers have families. If we expect them to be at church 24/7, we need to remember that they have a ministry at home! (This applies EVEN if your youth minister isn’t married. They have a life outside of our church walls, too.)

7. Offer them time to be ministered to. Pay for spiritual retreats (without youth) to nurture their souls. They need to be refreshed just like the rest of us.

AND (added with permission from my friend, Laura Louise Renegar):

8. I will add on to this: Remember that you are more than the employer of the youth ministers. You are their church family–the only church family they have. Love them and take care of them that way.

In other words… don’t be a meaner. We should love our youth ministers. We should love our Pastors. We should love each other.

That is all… carry on.

(p.s. the article below is good if you have a chance to read it. Thanks for the original share, Keith Bradley!)

http://youthspecialties.com/articles/how-pastors-can-keep-youth-workers

Wow! What a woman! Wow! What a GOD!

writing for children

I am one of the teachers for our 6-8th grade Sunday School class. I love those kiddos and all the questions they ask. They make me think.

Today, we discussed the fact that Abram was told by God to leave his country, and to leave his father’s family. God said He would lead Abram to the land he would give him.

He led him to Canaan. (Note – this was the land that Abram’s father had been going to, but stopped short of reaching.)

Even though God told him to leave his Father’s family, Abram took Lot with him. Now, we wondered if perhaps since Abram and Sarai couldn’t have children, perhaps Lot was more like a son to him than a nephew.

After arriving where they were going, a famine hit the land. So, they headed to Egypt. But Abram told his wife that she was so beautiful, he knew the Egyptians would want her… and would kill him.

Now, at this point, Abram doesn’t say, “I’ll lay down my life to protect you.”

He doesn’t say, “Let’s figure out somewhere else to go, I want us both to live!”

He didn’t say, “Hey babe, let’s rub some mud on your face, mess up your hair, disguise you, and try to ugly you up a little. We need to stay safe!”

NO… Abram didn’t do that. He said…

“See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; 12and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13“Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.”

WHAT?!?

Yup. That’s what he said.

And guess what? The plan worked…

14It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.

UM… so Sarai is being held in the Pharaoh’s palace, knowing he desires her in a very UNSISTERLY way. And all the while, Abram is getting richer and richer.

We don’t know how long she was there. We don’t know if Pharaoh jumped in and TOOK what he wanted, or if Sarai was being prepared/gussied up for their time together/wifely duty, all the while, Pharaoh was plying Abram with gifts. (Think Esther, and how long she was prepared before she spent time with the King. I think it was at least a year. So we aren’t sure how long she was there.)

So what happened next??

17But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19“Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.” 20Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.

The youth and I discussed whether or not the Pharaoh had sex with Sarai. My honest answer?

I don’t know.

Part of me says, “He’s the Pharaoh. He saw her. He demanded she be brought to the castle. So why would he have waited?”

The other part of me says, “There were certain traditions back then that were performed… regardless. Perhaps God would have caused even more things to happen (maybe death of the Pharaoh) if he had done that.”

Maybe it did happen, maybe it didn’t. Either way – can you imagine the horrible position she must have been in?

I am not Sarai – but when I put myself in her place, and try to imagine what she must have felt like, I have a basket-case full of emotions. Betrayed… scared… sad… lost… ready to kick someone in the pyramid!

And what about when the sickness hit? I like to imagine Sarai saying, to the Pharaoh, “I am a married woman!! You see all this sickness? It’s because God doesn’t honor what you are doing. Touch me again, and see what my God will do!”

Yeah, I know. She probably didn’t say that. But I wonder how Pharaoh knew the truth if she didn’t tell him? Did God come to him in a dream? Did word get back to the palace? Maybe Lot (who was traveling with Abram and Sarai in Egypt) opened his mouth and a servant got the news back to palace?

Either way, Sarai was caught in the crossfire.

And God brought her safely out.

I can be honest and say that I don’t like how Abram handled it. I more than don’t like it. I can’t even stand to think about it. It makes me so mad I could spit. I am a woman… I have three daughters. I expect I’ll have granddaughters and grandsons one day. The thoughts of any of them being that situation makes me want to hurl.

What makes it even worse?

Abram did it again. According to the scriptures on the Old Testament, there was similar incident with a king. But God intervened before the king could touch her.

So if God intervened on her behalf that time, can we assume that he did so the first time, too?

Some scholars believe the second story and the first are truly the same, just the details are different. Kind of a variation on a theme.

It doesn’t really matter, I don’t suppose. As I said before, however it happened, we can surmise two things:

1. Sarai/Sarah was taken against her will.

2. God didn’t like it.

How can we apply this to modern times?

Yeah. it’s pretty simple.

1. Females are forced into sexually charged situations all the time. (Sadly, so are males.)

2. God STILL DOESN’T LIKE IT.

Yes, these are the types of things my Sunday School students make me think about. If it has sparked something in you, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

This is happening now…

writing for children

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/16/business/lake-jibo-robot/

And there is a story there. I’m certain!

Here’s another link to “JIBO” if you’re interested in seeing more, or being creeped out of your own skin. Either way, here you go:

http://www.myjibo.com/

for the kid in me

writing for children

Inspired by Kenn Nesbitt’s, “My Brother’s not a Werewolf”. Hope you enjoy.

 

Tale of the WeirdoWolf
By Donna Earnhardt

He transformed in the daytime
avoiding moonlit nights
He cringed at his own shadow,
fear brought him no delight

He was a vegetarian.
He loved to draw and paint.
And when he’d howl,
No one was cowed*,
Except for him…

He’d faint.

 

 

*cow (verb): intimidate http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/cow and http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cow

(And for Kenn’s poem, check it out here: http://www.poetry4kids.com/poem-575.html#.VA_IRWMhFTc)

#STOPBullying

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If you have experienced bullying in any form -

If you love someone who has experienced bullying in any form -

And if YOU have been a bully (in any form)……….

THIS —>>>>>>

WordsKill

(all photography and artistic/director credit goes to Kaleigh Steward at KaleighJPhotography )

Poetry Challenge

writing for children

Joy Acey (of Poetry for Kids fame) has issued a challenge to write your own riddle-poem. You can see the challenge here: http://poetryforkidsjoy.blogspot.com/2014/09/riddle-poem.html#comment-form

I wrote several food-riddle poems a few years ago, but I’m going to post a fresh one below.

 

It’sNotDessert

You can wrap me in bacon,

or roll me in sugar…

But you won’t want to eat me –

Did you guess?

I’m a booger.

 

Come on… you saw that coming, didn’t you? You know you needed your daily gram of gross. You are WELCOME. 

Now go PICK your own topic and ride the riddle train. And if it’s kid-friendly-gross, even better.

 

Got one to share?

 

 

 

 

17, ART and Paying it Forward

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In honor of my baby girl’s 17th birthday today, I am giving YOU, my friends and readers, the gift of HER ART. (isn’t it interesting how close “her art” sounds like “her heart?)

Seriously, this girl is hard worker – and gifted with many gifts, including the gift of tenacity. Just months ago, she sat in our kitchen, highly distraught, because she thought she would NEVER be able to draw a human face.

Um… wrong. The proof is below. If you feel like making a 17 yo artist’s day, please visit her page and like, comment and share her work. Here are a few links to her most recent works below:

Connor Franta (a youtube person she likes and drew):  http://shiftingart.tumblr.com/post/95942192158/mr-connorfranta-connorfranta-connor

DANIsNOTonFire (yeah, that’s another youtube person she drew): http://instagram.com/p/sdXplfAYY3/

Joe Sugg (the brother of a youtube person): http://instagram.com/p/sfMDF-gYS_/?modal=true

Tyler Oakley (yep, you guessed it…) http://shiftingart.tumblr.com/post/94081325078/heyyyy-tyleroakley-i-drew-you-tyleroakley

 

Thank you for your support of young artists and writers everywhere!

 

REpost – in memory of Summer!

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Previously, I posted a poem in honor of the hot months of the year. Now that they will soon be in our rear-view, I’ll post it again. And maybe later, I’ll write and post an ode to summer and a hello to AUTUMN! :)

 

SUMMER

Kick off your shoes

Wiggle your toes

Catch the sunset

Watch fireflies glow

Dig in the sand

Swim with the fish

Count falling stars

Close your eyes, make a wish

Buzz with the bumblebees

Run with the wind

Build a dirt castle

Knight your best friend

Snooze in a tent

Wade in a stream

Spit watermelon seeds

Nosh on ice cream

Summer is here

for only a minute

So get off the couch…

Take a leap and jump in it!

Hide and Go Seek — and other Things that Make me Scream

writing for children

I am not a scaredy cat.

I love to hike and wade in mountain streams.  I love to go to places I’ve never been and see things I’ve never seen. I like to watch documentaries on foods from other countries and want to visit those countries one day. I like to make new recipes! I’ll even try new foods – even if it’s with an upturned lip and wrinkled nose to show my displeasure. But I do it! (Ask my mama. She’ll tell ya!)  I throw parties for my girls (with kids… lots of them), host sleepovers and haul my kids with me all over the state of NC (and other states)… even if I don’t know where I’m going. We just GO!

I have picked up frogs (the frogs and I both shivered) and even held a giant snake one time at a reptile show… JUST for my kids. (and y’all know how much I dislike snakes!)

Life is an adventure and I’m here to explore! With God on my side, who do I have to fear? No one!

Unless, of course, you ask me to play the Cordova version of Hide and seek tag. Its variation is called, “Ain’t No Booger Bears Out Tonight…”   And if you don’t know it, you don’t want to. It’s played just as the sun is setting. The player who is “it” hides. Then other players have to make it from point A to homebase (without being tagged by “it”) while chanting, “Ain’t no booger-bears out tonight… Grandpa killed them all last night…”. ARRRGH!

I hate that game. I always have. Knowing that someone is out there, waiting for me… waiting to hunt me down and say, “Tag! You’re it!” makes me want to hide under my favorite blankie and eat a brownie or three. (yes, I am 41 and have a favorite blankie. Doesn’t everyone?)

Frankly, any variation on hide and seek scares the hummus out of me, especially the one I played as a child. And all those zombie movies and books? Just glorified hide and seek/tag games. For real. Think about it.

Isn’t that the way it is in life, though? We have hidden, unseen, and sometimes really ugly things that are chasing us. Sometimes they are temptations. Sometimes the hidden things are physical or emotional sickness. Sometimes, it can even be the overtones/undertones from people and relationships we encounter.

And maybe that’s why I hate hide and seek. Maybe, deep down, that stupid game reminds of the unknown crap that we all have to fight. Because, let’s face it…. life is full of battles. And those battles are often battles that sneak up on us… hunting us down when we aren’t looking.

But there’s HOME-BASE. Yep. That’s the saving grace part of the game. It doesn’t matter if someone tags me when I’m there… it doesn’t count. I’m not “it” and I don’t have to take their place. If I’m on home-base, then I’m SAFE. And the Bible says that we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS. It also says that God is my home-base! Well, maybe it doesn’t use that particular phrasing – but it does guarantee that I am SAFE in the presence of God. Need proof? Read Psalm 91. I’ve pasted the first five verses below… you’ll get the idea!


1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

2I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”

3For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.

4He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

5You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;

So if you are feeling like something is chasing you down – I get it. I really do.  Life is an adventure – and we’ll face battles and monsters along the way. But be encouraged! You don’t have to face them alone. God has promised to never leave you.

And if you are one of my in-real-life friends… call me. We can go to lunch. We can pray for each other. Encourage each other. Laugh together! Face those fears head on!

Unless, of course, you want to play “Ain’t No Booger Bears out tonight”…

then you’re on your own.

Love ya. Mean it. I’ll be hiding under a blankie eating a brownie.