Facing Our Worries in Grand-Parenting

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

Certain possibilities in our lives loom over us. Some of the more difficult ones haunt us. As grandparents raising grandchildren, we worry  about a plethora of what ifs.

A few weeks ago, one concern became reality. Victoria’s father died. Some people might ask why this matters. After all, he didn’t play a significant part in her life. It’s true his contact with her consisted of occasional five-minute phone calls and gifts on special days. Yet, he was more present for her than her mother has been in the past three years. She didn’t have to worry about what he was up to or whether he would get in trouble with the law. He was the more stable parent.

Victoria faced this news in her typical way, she cried a moment then became hyperactive. Victoria is the queen of distraction, and she used those talents well to hide her confusion and grief. We got the news on Sunday afternoon. Once the hyperactivity started, I asked her what she wanted to do. I expected a request to talk to her Mommy, and I would have taken her to the detention center right then to make it happen. She didn’t ask for that. I asked if she wanted to talk to her father’s sister who called me. No, she didn’t want to do that. She doesn’t know his family well, and until the call came in, I never knew this particular sister existed. I asked if she wanted to go see his side of the family? No.

She asked to go to Target and Starbucks. That’s what we did.

The next day she went to school. She wanted to go. I called the guidance counselor and let her know the situation. I set up an appointment with our family counselor. Victoria didn’t want to talk about it, but she did tell a few friends. One friend refused to believe her.

Over the week, Victoria didn’t say much. I told the family I would bring her to the funeral if she wanted to go, but she wasn’t sure. I wasn’t going to push. Funerals are hard, and, at twelve, I didn’t want to force her to attend. She decided to go, so the day before the funeral I dragged a reluctant girl out to buy clothing appropriate for a funeral. Victoria doesn’t like dresses and our church is full of blue-jean-clad kids wearing tennis shoes. I stood firm on this one. She had to dress appropriately. She looked lovely, by the way.

Victoria, as his closest next of kin, led the procession into the sanctuary with me by her side. Behind us strung a long line of family members that she barely knew and who knew her father better than she did. One sister couldn’t make it down the aisle without help due to her grief. Victoria’s father’s casket lay open in the front of the altar. She had chosen not to view him prior to the service, so I think she didn’t anticipate the casket still being open when she came down the aisle. As these first few moments unfolded, I worried about her decision to attend. She sat between me and the aunt who I had never met and the tears poured out of her.

She cried through most of the service, but I believe it was good for her. Almost every one who spoke told her how much her father loved and talked about her. She needed to know that.

Life goes on. Now that I know more of her relatives, we’re going to try to help her know this side of her family. The situation in which I met her oldest aunt was not of my choosing, but I’m glad we’ve met her. She’s a spiritual woman who told us a few weeks before his death, Victoria’s father gave his life to Christ. He spent the last weeks listening to gospel music and reading the Bible. Did he know his time was short? I’ll never know. I’m just glad he made this decision and saw Victoria a few days before he died. He gave her a jewelry box he’d made for her birthday–the only gift he ever gave her that was a part of him.

A long list of what ifs haunt those of us raising our children’s children. We hope and pray we’ll never stand by our grandchild as they say goodbye to one of their parents. We know deep down in our souls that the likelihood of this happening is high. For those of you worrying about this concern, I’ll tell you what I learned. You can’t prepare for it so don’t try. Trust in God and focus on today’s challenges. Leave tomorrow for tomorrow.

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When Called To A Difficult Purpose

Image courtesy of Freeimages.com/gc85

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Over the last few weeks (aka since school started), I’ve been ill. We didn’t make it through the first week of school without one of the kids catching something and sharing it with the rest of us.

Four weeks later, I’m still sick but with something else. When your immunity is down, it’s easy to get sick. I’ve had one or two decent days and one really good day in four weeks. This past Wednesday, I felt normal. Yet, as I went to bed that night, I knew my good day was over. After a night of very  little sleep, I went back to the doctor.

Why am I telling you this? Because people don’t get what grandparenting (being a grandparent raising grandchildren) does to us. I wrote about this  last week and heard from several grandparents in the same boat. They thanked me for saying what I did.

I’m guessing some readers, found my bluntness a bit uncomfortable. That’s ok. I’m not attacking or blaming people. I’m trying to create an understanding for the 2.5 million grandparents in my shoes. We are a growing population.

We do what we do for love. We trust in God to help us, but it’s terrifying to look at our retirement and realize we planned to support two adults, not to raise more children.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:17-18

That is what He’s asked us to do, to proclaim Him to another generation of children. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why He chose us to do it in this way, but He did. But herein lies the problem: my sickness.

As my illness continues, I’ve become weak and exhausted. At a time when income becomes most important, the circumstances make it hard to maintain that income. I would love to retire and focus completely on my writing and the grandchildren (not just the two who live with us), but I’m not retirement age, and I’ll probably have to work longer than I originally planned in order to make sure we survive.

And we’re the lucky ones. Most grandparents who are raising grandchildren, live below the poverty line.

We do have the Bible verses like those in this post to encourage us, and for those of us whose faith already sustained us through many trials, our faith brings  comfort. But we’re human and struggling. In the moment it’s hard to remember to turn to God. That’s probably why my last post came across strong to some people. I’m not apologizing for that. It’s important to help people understand the struggles other people experience. You can’t do that by sugar-coating the truth.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

This is the main purpose of this blog: helping people understand the struggles of others as well as revealing how my struggles built my faith in God.

Will you take a moment today to stop and pray for the grandparents and grandchildren in this situation? It’s not easy, and we need your support.

Are you a grandparent raising grandchildren? What’s your biggest struggle? I want to hear from you! If you’re a grandchild who was raised by a grandparent, I’d love to hear from you, too.

Domestic Violence: Blessings In the Nightmare

domestic violence

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

Not every day is a nightmare while living with domestic violence.

Probably not what you expected to read in this post, but there are good times.  Times of value and joy and happiness.

Not every day brings a new form of terror to the abused spouse.  Yes, she walks on egg shells waiting for the next eruption, but in between those times, there can be peace.

I’m not saying the good times make the bad times forgivable. No one should live in fear of their spouse, but some of the blessings in my life came from my marriage to an abusive spouse.

I have two beautiful daughters from this marriage. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I would love to trade who I chose for their father, however.  Not possible, so end of story.

And…

In the midst of my messed up life, I found my faith.

Did you get that?

I found my faith in Christ during an abusive marriage.

I grew up in a church-going family, but no one taught me God’s plan of salvation.  I knew the story of Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection, but I didn’t understand the significance.  I saw the resurrection as Jesus’ proof that He was the son of God. No one explained it to me. No one told me what it meant when Christ hung on the cross as the perfect sacrifice.  No one explained to me about God’s inability to look on Jesus as he bore our sins. I didn’t know that Jesus bore my punishment and everyone else’s while His father turned away.

I didn’t know.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

My ex-husband’s family belonged to a non-denominational church.  They followed New Testament Christianity.  I didn’t know what that meant at first, but what they taught me made sense. After I almost died, I realized I needed to do something about my salvation. I chose to follow Christ, but I’ll be the first to tell you, I didn’t fully understand what that meant. What I did know was I was unsure about my eternity and chose to accept Christ based on fear.  Not the best way to do it, but it’s how I first stepped out on faith.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Several years later, when I did understand what it meant to follow Christ, I recommitted my life to him and was baptized again.  Some say it wasn’t necessary for me to do that, but my lifestyle and decisions changed after that second commitment. I didn’t change the first time.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.Romans 6:4

Even in the darkest days, He provides blessings to each of us.  God can take any situation, even domestic violence, and find a way to work good through it: two beautiful children and a faith which gives me hope and eternal life.

When you meet someone who lives in the nightmare of domestic violence, remember some days bring blessings.  This makes it harder for them to leave.  They should leave, no one deserves a life of abuse and fear.  If this is you, if you are the person caught in the nightmare of domestic violence, please leave.  God can take the horrors, it you let Him, and open your heart to His love.

What will you do?