Recently at a funeral a mom confided, “I didn’t want to take the kids, it’s too scary for them.” I understand that sentiment–the desire to protect our kids from anything that would jeopardize their happiness. But when we do this, we are failing to prepare our kids.
There is no better time or place for kids to understand hard things (illness , disability and even death) than when they are young and have parents shepherding them.
In our effort to protect our children and give them a happy childhood, we actually set them up for failure when we isolate them from hard things. Disappointments and sorrows will inevitably weave themselves into their lives, we need to override that initial response of evading any sadness that could upset our child and instead walk them through scary or sad situations.
Sure, I would love it if my kid never got picked on at the playground, if they never flunked a test or were crushed by a relationship. Statistically, those things are all going to happen. There will always be “bad” things that I can’t fix for them. My job is to teach them how to face disappointment and teach them ways to respond, in the little and big things.
Once our children were able to be taught simply (age 4), we brought them with us to funerals. We’ve faced hard questions from them at first, along with perplexed looks and tears. Our three oldest (10, 7, 6) are still unsettled after a funeral home, but now there is a growing understanding and realization of the issues of life and death.
Before attending a funeral visitation talk about appropriate things to say or do (a simple hug) and what to expect. What better time is there to teach what it means to “weep with those who weep” and to bear the burdens of others? Talk about the connection between body and soul, why we honor the body at a funeral and the final resurrection.
On the way home sing together, pray for the family and answer any questions they have. It is a good time to give them reflective questions: Are you ready to meet God? Would you be living differently if you knew this was your very last day? How can we show love and kindness to those grieving?
Later over devotions lead discussions with questions: Why is Jesus our only hope in life? In death? Why do people die even when so many people have prayed they would live? What does the Bible say about those that die “in the Lord”? What does the Bible say about those who don’t? What special promises does God give to the broken-hearted?
Show your child extra love and support. Give them hugs, stay a little longer at their bedside, read God’s Word together, pray together. Let your kids see you cry and dry their tears when they cry.
At first it might feel awkward to talk about hard things and to ask such personal questions, but I think you will find the more you do this and incorporate it into daily life, conversation flows and the your kids will open up more about what they really think and feel.
Pain is real. And the hope we have in Jesus is real too.
Don’t hide the first and always live in the reality of the latter.
The past eight weeks Calvin has been free from infections in his lungs. This is our longest stretch; we’ve have soaked up and relished every single second. With his lungs clear and breathing so much easier, other parts of his personality and body have rejuvenated. He wants to stand all the time and his legs jerk like crazy when Darryl comes in the door. His grin stretches from ear to ear as the kids help him unbend and stretch his stiff legs in the morning. We’ve made almost every evening service at church with him and through many services haven’t needed to bring him out even once for suctioning. I feel like we are in the “green pastures” of Psalm 23.
Last night in the evening service the minister asked in a loud and probing way, “Have you experienced the mercies of God?” Calvin, who had been sitting quietly, joyfully let out a long and loud, “Aaaaah!”
Afterward my family came over for coffee. We were singing together one of my favorite hymns, How Firm a Foundation. As we sang, “Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand”, he joined in with noises of joy we rarely hear–such enthusiasm!
I don’t know if it’s coincidental, maybe it it. But I don’t doubt that he could very well know these mercies of God deeply.
I found out later my sister-in-law caught it on video. It brings to my mind John 9:27, “And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”Read More
It is night. And all is mostly quiet, the little chicks (of the human sort) are tucked in and my coffee is nearly at the bottom of my favorite cracked mug. Our little space is showing the effects of kids living fully: books piled high and some left open, the vacuum is stranded near the stairs waiting to be used or put away, the coffee table is covered with stickers and drawings, a hairbrush and toy shark, church history books and a pastry brush.
Tonight the mess isn’t getting to me. It’s reminding me that life is so very full and this growing season is overflowing with activity. I ran out this morning to grab a gallon of milk for breakfast and came back to find all the kids gathered in the living room ready to sing happy birthday. Sophie had carried(!) Calvin out, put on his paci-muir (the valve that lets him make sound) and Violet was looking wide-eyed at me with a dazed grin. Halfway through the song one daughter started crying (breakfast wasn’t happening soon enough) and then Violet joined in.
Our kids have never been so needy and at the same time we as a couple have never been so busy. I’ve learned this: when your husband starts a business you learn to pray literally for your daily bread, you strip away all unnecessary items and obligations, and realize earnest dependence on God for everything. It seems the Lord is eager to have us see His provision in every area of our lives. I’ve learned that lean times are very good growing times. And yes, stressful. But we are loving the creativity that now infuses our daily lives with the table business. It’s rewarding to see talents we didn’t know existed from one another!
Calvin has grown so much, which means it is time for different equipment. I wish I could invent expandable walls! Between the baby gear for Violet and the mobility equipment for Calvin we are bursting at the seams. Next week we have to order a hoyer lift, a piece of equipment I never thought we’d need. Sophie was very matter-of-fact at the dinner table, “He might be able to die of old age.”
While I’m skeptical of that, we are so thrilled that he’s doing so well. We are going to get a shower chair as well, it’s getting far too difficult to keep putting him in the bath. He is dead weight and easily falls to the side which puts him in danger of aspirating water through his trach. He has a shower in his room which currently serves as storage to his stander and where the hoyer is going to have to fit.
Darryl is also going to build a ramp in the garage. The nurses are having a harder time lifting him out of his chair and carrying him in. It also puts him more at risk for joints being dislocated or his trach popping out. Or getting his feeding tube pulled out which has been happening often lately.
With Darryl so focused on the business and Violet in the mix I have come to rely heavily on nurses to help me with Calvin’s care. His care is constant, every moment I need to be paying attention to his breathing, if he needs to be suctioned, watch for seizures, etc. It’s a huge relief to be able to let it go into the hands of our very capable nurses so I can focus on the other kids and tackle the t0-do list.
For friends afar, here’s your monthly overdose of photos.
Mission friends have been on my mind all week. Especially with Dr. Kent Brantly fighting for his life.
This post by Cory Jones convicted me and resonated strongly with me:
“I don’t want Kent to die because we need people who are living now like Jesus, without much concern for a proper eschatological view or theology of infant baptism or clearly spelled out explanation of hell and how one arrives there. Sure those things are important, but only if they get you off the couch and into a world full of hurt. We need people who aren’t satisfied with a safe, comfortable theology that gives them permission to lead a safe, comfortable life. We need people who are willing to stand toe-to-toe with death and pain and disease and brokenness because their love for life is so fierce.” Read the whole article here.
Why do I let myself be a seeker of my own comfort and not look to my neighbor? Am I afraid to take up my cross? Do I really live out what I profess?
Why do I live so protectively when there is nothing to lose and all to be gained in following Jesus?
Even if we lose our life, we are never lost if we are in Christ.Read More
The relaxing summer days I’d envisioned have become beehives of activity. I’m having a lot less lemonade on the deck and more busyness than I’d planned.
Suddenly every child wants to be an artist, explorer, sky-watcher and camper! Seize the moment, right? We are busy doing watercolors, embroidery and sewing, taking hikes, creating cities and lego characters out of wood, feeding (and chasing!) chickens and the list goes on.
These days are filled with so much happiness, Calvin’s been able to participate so much with us. I wrote about the shift in perspective that’s come with this.
You can find it at Not Alone, a site where I write monthly: This Day.
An aunt refuses my (Mr. Copper Rooster) plea for rescue. Oh me, oh my, the cock-a-doodle-doo bursts unrestrained from me each morning. The master of the house is closing his window at 5 am and saying terrible phrases like, “he’s gone this week, Kara” and “the neighbors are going to croak.” Croak? At my harmonic greeting?!? I say, this humanity grows more hardened to beauty by the day. Here is evidence:
Mr. Copper Rooster,
Your mournful plight touched me deeply. I grieve that your life may be snuffed out so soon. However, relocating to our locale may not resolve this quandary. Our poultry palace has not yet been erected and there are evil villains lurking about in the tall prairie grass. They heartlessly prey on unsuspecting victims and I recently overheard one of them say that roasted rooster has become a much sought-after delicacy. The monarch of our domicile faithfully does his part to eliminate these villains, but he also has been known to eradicate any pesky creatures wandering about. No, I fear this would not be the place for you. Better a quick demise like the squirrels than a torturous one on the prairie.
If I may be so bold as to offer some advice, Mr. Rooster, it may be in your best interest to develop a severe case of laryngitis. That could be one means of prolonging your existence.
The Warden of the Wild Frontier
P.S. If you have not been thoroughly convinced that our location is not a suitable residence for one such as yourself, take note of the heartless rantings of the youngest member of our clan a fortnight ago. “I want a chick. I don’t like chickens. When it grows bigger I’ll just kill it!”
Terrible, is it not? Especially the youngest member, why I’d like to give him a big peck. And laryngitis, indeed! The future is grim yet I remain hopeful that there is a young heart somewhere with compassion who would welcome my regal presence.
Mr. Copper Rooster
Mr. Copper RoosterRead More
To Whom It May Concern:
The sky never seemed bluer than this morning, the grass never greener. Perhaps that is the way all life appears when the fear of death ignites in a creature’s breast. We were made to live, I tell you! But I’m getting ahead of myself, forgive me.
It was only a few scant months ago that I, Copper (formally Mr. Copper Rooster), took my first breath outside the small white egg I called home. My first days were anything but the idyllic scene my mother had envisioned for us. Instead of a quiet barn and sweet smelling hay, I awoke to life in a dull brown box with 10 strange pairs of eyes staring at me and 20 hands reaching frantically for me. If I could have retreated back to the safety of my white safe haven, I surely would have. My heart still suffers from fits of tachycardia upon the memory of it.
The small humans now entrusted with my care have been mostly pleasant. A large grey coop was erected with a roosting stoop. Chester and Caramel (a most docile, lovely companion) and I have spent many pleasant hours pecking and roosting in absolute glory. Small bits of corn and tortilla have brightened our daily fair of dull white gruel that oft fills our platters. Our idyllic existence could have continued but changes threaten. My early fuzzy feathers are changing to brazen copper plumes. This change to manhood is making me feel most regal and satisfied. Good you say? Yes, but alas, it has plunged me into a perilous predicament.
I am living precariously on an urban lot with noise restrictions. While the company of my two plump hens has been most satisfying, I fear the master of the house. He is a tall dark species that roams my property, at times with a firearm and an evil gleam in his eye. Squirrels have rained down from the trees, lifeless, their glory and veracity snuffed in a dark moment. I fear I maybe next as the crow in my voice wells deeper within me each day. It is something I cannot restrain though I try desperately. Tonight I heard the master of the house plotting schemes against me. It makes me shudder, these ideas of letting me loose at an unsuspecting dwelling or ending up like my fellow beasts, the squirrels.
And so I beg you, if you have any heart at all, save me. I will faithfully peck your grass and greet you with the wild call of nature that lies deep within my breast each dawn. My copper plumage will lighten your eyes with each glance laid upon me. It makes me shudder to be reduced to begging, yet the threat of my mortality overwhelms my self-respect. I leave this plea upon your goodwill and conscience.
Mr. Copper Rooster
P.S. I’m including some pictures from my instagram account (cooptales).