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The Prospect of 2013

December 29, 2012 1 comment

The Year 2013: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Following the Christmas holidays, its natural for people to get sentimental, reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year.  The media always has their “wrap-up” citing the headlines that most impacted the nation and the world.  There are wishes for a “Happy New Year,” promises, conjectured in the form of “New Year’s resolutions” (lose weight, spend more time with family, etc.).So, as I sit here and ponder the events of 2012, I must admit, my outlook is….bittersweet.  By nature, I consider myself neither an optimist, nor a pessimist.  A realist.  I know, I know, most people like to overuse that label for themselves, but truly, when asked if I see a cup half full or half empty, I will always respond, “BOTH!”Perhaps, it’s not my outlook, so much as my bull-headed determination.

I’ll stick with the previous assertion, thanks.  (Its my blog. Well, for now.)

This year has obviously been interesting with the election.  For my part, I was absolutely unclear about who was going to win, though, I certainly thought I saw tremendous support for Mitt.  However, in light of the direction the world was turning, reading the tea leaves also gave strong indications that Obama would pull through, in spite of no record, nothing what-so-ever to recommend him, and a continuing treasonous scandal.  I advocated for Romney, as much as I could, grew tense, like the rest of the country, fervently prayed, and waited.  Like many of you, that night, though I wasn’t shocked, but I was shocked.  I had been on my face, begging for God’s mercy on this country.  However, I also prayed for His will to be done.  The Lord spoke, the fate of America was solidified.

I went, immediately, to a somber state of acceptance.

Like most of you, the prospect of 2013 is dismal, in light of the political arena.  I have lost all faith in politicians, even in those I thought were truly fighting for truth and justice.  Time and time again, we have seen them bow to the will of those who grow in worldly power.

NATIONALISM VS. PATRIOTISM

I have recognized, through this process, that there is a clear distinction in “nationalism vs. patriotism.”  Nationalism retains that sense of arrogance, even in the face of God that we are better, bigger, and stronger.  That nothing will stop or hold us down.  Contrarily, patriotism is vastly different.  The patriot humbly clings to the principles that make one’s country great.  He recognizes the blessings, even undeservedly, that have been bestowed upon his nation, contingent upon obedience to the Lord and the principles for foundation.  A patriot doesn’t put faith in any man, but looks to the Lord for his sense of national direction.  He bows his knee to the Great I AM, accepting His plans, knowing that the protection of the nation is directly hinged upon what is done with the blessings and how well we uphold Biblical precepts.

As I stated before, I am an eternal realist.  My worldly outlook for the nation ,as far as the state of this planet, is grave.  Evil has been unleashed.  All too common these days, we hear of rampages of brutal murder.  People immediately want an answer,

“WHY?” 

What could possibly be the reason for such senseless violence? Now we see a spectrum of blame, polarities that want to crackdown on this heinous barbarianism.  On one side, governmental leaders are grasping, white-knuckled, to the claim that the problem is GUNS.  “We MUST eliminate firearms!” Another argument from the other side is that “We MUST revisit mental illness!”

As you might expect, I do not subscribe to either.

The problem is that all sense of morality, more specific, humility before the Almighty, has been cast out.  Society, as a whole, has spit in God’s face and pushed out any shade of godliness.  People have been hypnotized by the Dark Angel, masquerading in light.  They don’t believe in evil, unless it suits their purposes.  They don’t believe in the antithesis of evil, that being salvation only through Christ’s blood.  Instead they exchange one lie for another, until all sense of rationality and reason is subjective and without basis.

So you see, we could talk about the continued, growing scandals that have growing tentacles over the White House.  We could talk about the wildfire of Radical Islamization.  We could talk about the fiscal cliff that looms, in mere hours.  We could talk about genocidal dictators racing toward mass-extermination.

But, the crux of the matter is not as complex as it seems.  People are hung up on the thousands of symptoms of a simple, albeit, eternal crisis.The world has cocooned itself in a cozy bed of Godlessness.  They have set up their own altars, whereby they sit on their own throne.  Rather than serving the God of the universe, humans, regardless of culture, ethnicity or nation (a true testament to color blindness), embrace and worship the god “within.”

This cannot last.

Just as God is grace, He is the perfect balance of Justice and Judge, as well.  He does not force His will on man, yet retains the control in decision-making.  He can allow us to make the ridiculous choices that will cause self-destruction, both individually, corporately, as a society, and internationally.

Though He allows us our own way, don’t think for a second that He isn’t angered by it.  We cannot be so pompously deluded to think that we were created by a limp-wristed pushover.

He is YAHWEH!

THE GLASS IS HALF-EMPTY, BUT IT IS ALSO HALF-FULL.

In God’s never-ending kindness, the removal of protection can serve as a wake-up call.  When we are stripped of comforts, whether in leadership, or in security, we have the opportunity to turn to the only lasting truth in YESHUA, Jesus Christ.

For the few of us, who are truly watching, wide-eyed at the plans unfolding around the world, faith is strengthened.  I’ve heard it said, “The national and international headlines are now catching up to the Bible.”  The cards are on the table.  We are coming to that fork in the road, whereby we can choose to move toward God, or turn our backs on God.  Sadly, the Bible tells me that many will fall away from the faith. (Matthew 7:14, 2Timothy 4) Further, Christ tells us, “15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev.3:15-17)

My hope is in the Lord.  I do not know the specifics of what 2013 will bring, but I trust that He is JEHOVAH.  I take great hope in His mighty power.  (Ephesians 6:10-18) My outlook for this world, in the direction it is hurtling toward, is bleak.  People have chosen the path of Baal.  The Lord is rousing from His Holy Hill and He will come with absolute Authority and Justice.

Though, I am desperate to see His glory and His might, at the same time, I tremble at the prospect of an angry, JUST God.  I fear living in a land that has chosen to shove the Lord’s hand of protection away for the false notion of self-preservation and governmental rule.

If this nation refuses to humble herself in fear of the Lord, it is doomed to destruction. 

Nationalism is idolatry.  It is an ideology that dominates both parties, both sides of the aisle. 

With all of this bleakness, comes great hope, when one seeks and clings to the ONLY hope we have!  We have access to TRUE LIBERTY!  We can be unfettered and freed from bondage in the hope that comes from faith in the Lord, through YESHUA.  When we recognize that He IS the source of life; we are liberated, REGARDLESS of worldly powers.

These days, I treasure God’s Word.  I recognize the NECESSITY OF IT.  It is easy to get enthralled and overly distracted with the events unfolding.  Though Christ commanded us to, “WATCH!” (Matt.24:4, 42 read all of chapter 24) I must keep my FOCUS upon HIM.  We must SATURATE ourselves in the WORD.  I am constantly amazed and deeply grateful for the Bible.  Without it, faith and hope would be very burdensome.  But again, God in His grace and mercy, gave us the Cliff Notes version.

In summary: I know how the story ends;

He wins.

——————————————————————

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON:

1 Samuel 12:24-25

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

A Dose of Self-Awareness – Just What the Doctor Ordered

Gauging where I should be.

Gauging where I should be.

I have a fever.  I think.  The thermometer isn’t the most reliable, stupid little thing.  I just bought it too.  Well, I feel like crap.  I guess if I pass out and wake up in the hospital I’ll get extra attention if necessary.  Thankfully, at least I’m not delusional, yet.  (Hey, watch it…)

In talking with a dear friend, I began to reflect (alright ramble) upon some heartache I’ve had in the last couple years.  Funny, when we stop and actually listen to what we say we could learn a few things.  Sometimes, we learn how stupid we sound. (That’s where I’m going.) This time I’m reflecting upon the stupid things I’ve said and done.

About four years ago, I realized something. I really should have been on the debate team in high school.  I would have won, hands down, every time.  If my “high school” me was my “up to a year ago” me, that is.  I’m good with words, quick-witted, bold, and unashamed. I’m confident in this.  If someone comes at me with an arrogant attitude and is uncivil, I will do everything in my power to demean, condescend, and put him or her in their place.  I have no tolerance for incivility or disrespect.  There was nothing more gratifying that knowing that I won the debate.  If only the respect of the audience watching.

I am ashamed to admit that this crept into my passion in issues of faith.  Though my original intention was always to speak for truth and for what was right, my intellect, witticism, and conscientiousness became the prized idol. Admiration from others and respect was the game.  I won, but really I lost.  I sought out debates, I was harsh, critical, brash.  Even in scenarios where I began just wanting to communicate my feelings to friends and loved ones, I would get overly sensitive.  I wanted to win.  My intent started pure, always, but I was taking God off of the throne and putting myself there instead.  I was Master of my own, with pawns at my disposal.  This was my sin.  My attitude caused a rift in relationships.  I was spikey, uncouth, ungracious, and provoking. Known as passionate, but a hot head in political issues and sensitive in forms of communication.

About as comforting as cuddling a porcupine.

What is so sad to me, is that I now realize, that though my passion began with fiery fervor for truth, sadly became about me and not about Christ. I was prideful.  He humbled me.

God cannot receive glory when I get in the way.  I was in the way.  In a BIG way.  Thankfully, albeit, painfully, He took me out of the way.  I want Him to receive the glory.  It is HIS truth that matters, NOT mine.  It matters NOT what I think, only what He thinks.  I must remember:

Philippians 2:3-7

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition of vain conceit, but consider others better than yourselves.  You should not look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but rather made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant”

The Impact of Divorce Upon Children – A Thesis Study in Grief, Trauma, and Stress Children Face When Parents Divorce

September 5, 2011 11 comments

The impact of divorce upon children is enormous.

 Abstract

 When a marriage ends in divorce all individuals connected to the relationship are impacted.  There are perhaps none so affected as children.  Because of their innocence and immaturity, children are unable to process stressful events as adults are.  Their reactions and behavior can range from subtle to explosive.  The purpose of this paper is to provide research that illuminates that various facets of impact upon a child with the demise of a marriage.  Relationships with parents, and sibling are all pivotal in the life of a child.  These, along with therapeutic interventions, statistics, future outlook, and biblical underpinnings will be discussed.  Finally, the author, an adult child of divorce, will provide personal reflection about the subject.

Introduction

            The ultimate end to a marriage is tragic and its affect ripples throughout the lives connected to that couple.  Chaos and stress, probably feelings that have been prevalent for some time prior to divorce, ensue and impact the now divided family unit.  Children are particularly vulnerable to the affects of divorce.  Unable to understand and process such complex matters of life, children resort to alternative ways of expressing their heartache and confusion.  The fact is that the divorce of parents remains with children, to some degree, all of their lives.  Any adult child of divorce can relay past feelings that accompanied the demise of their caretaker’s marriage.  Regardless of the passage of time, few children of divorce are unable to provide some recollection of pain.  Relationships are often strained, physiology and psychology is affected, and the future can seem bleak.  When we understand the gravity with which a child is impacted by divorce, the hope is that couples will devote energy toward any and all opportunities to salvage the marriage.

Statistics

            In the quest to understand the full impact of divorce upon children, one must examine current trends and statistics.  Consider some sobering data (Portnoy, 2006):

  •     Around 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce.
  •     Approximately one-half to two-thirds of those who divorce will remarry.
  •     One in every six adults will divorce two or more times.
  •     Half of all divorces involve minor children.
  •     Forty percent of children in the United States will experience a parental divorce and half of those will reside, at least temporarily with a single parent.
  •     One in three of these children will live with a step-parent before the age of 19 .
  •     According to the 2004 U.S. Census, 1.1 million children lived with a parent who had experienced a divorce in the last year (Thomas & Woodside, 2011).

Ten years following a divorce, well adapted college students reported a continuance of pain and distress about their parents’ divorce (Kelly & Emery, 2003).  They reported more painful childhood feelings and experiences.  Feelings of loss were the most prevalent of the painful feelings.  Further, the majority of these students reported missing their father’s involvement, evening questioning whether they were loved by their father at all (2003).

Manifestations of Stress

Faber and Wittenborn (2010) report that on average, children in divorced families and stepfamilies, as compared to those in non-divorced families, are more likely to exhibit behavioral and emotional problems, lower social competence and self-esteem, less socially responsible behavior, and poorer academic achievement.  The fact is that the disruption of the family unit causes an inability to concentrate, remain emotionally stable, and move through daily activities without some form of distress.  As previously discussed, children are unable to comprehend the details of divorce and many result in false assumptions, such as “This must be my fault.”  When outward expressions of distress are not displayed, many children will exhibit physiological symptoms.  These can range from headaches, gastrointestinal upset, sleep disturbances, and inattention.  Depending upon the level of secure or insecure attachment, these manifestations may be more or less severe.  “Insecurely attached children have been associated with externalizing problems such as delinquent behavior and substance abuse as well as internalizing problems such as anxiety, depression, and other affective disorders (Faber, Wittenborn, 2010, p. 92).” Further, increased levels of parental conflict may lead to increased long-term vulnerability to cardiovascular and other illness (Luecken & Fabricius, 2003).  Parental conflict, perceptions of father caring, and time with mother are significant predictors of overall physical health (2003). “This is consistent with findings that adolescents from divorced families with low conflict reported fewer physical health symptoms and better overall well-being than those from high conflict, intact families (p.226).”  Divorce may also directly affect aggression, distractibility, behavior problems directed at parents, economic difficulties, and geographic mobility (Hodges, Tierney & Buchsbaum, 1984).

Behavioral reaction

The first few years following a divorce are typically a difficult and stressful period for most children and their parents (Faber & Wittenborn, 2010).  It is estimated that families typically re-stabilize parenting practices and pre-transition levels of children’s behavior about 2 years following divorce and 5 years following remarriage (2010).  After the divorce, children typically will respond in atypical ways.  The behavior variances are unique to the family and individual child, but often display symptomatic distress in their circumstantial change.  Verbal cues, play themes, transitional o jects and aggressive or withdrawn behavior may one or all be exhibited by the child.  A six year old child explained divorce in this way,

“It starts with love, then you don’t live together, then you get unmarried, then you love other people, go back and back and back and forth and back and forth.” As he chanted the last phrase, he picked up a Slinky from his own toy box and slowly stretched it, gesturing toward the playhouses on either side of him. With the Slinky fully extended, he concluded, “and then . . . you break.” With that, he let the Slinky snap close and crash to the floor between the houses. (Ebling, Pruett & Pruett, 2009, p. 672)

Children who are not as verbally expressive, often convey stress in imaginative play themes. During playtime, some themes that are often depicted by children are reunion fantasies, damage and conflict, security and protection, and back and forth travel between households (Ebling, Pruett & Pruett, 2009).  The most frequent play theme are reunion fantasies.

Another way that children display grief, loss, and stress is in that of transitional objects (McCullough, 2009). Children often respond to divorce with insecurity, loss of self-esteem, and repressed feelings of anger and loss, which may be manifested as aggressive or withdrawn behavior.

During periods of extreme stress, children may return to the use of transitional objects—more typically seen in the developmental period associated with an infant’s separation from his or her mother—as a way of coping with circumstances over which they feel little control (p. 19).

Transitional objects can be stuffed animals, blankets, dolls, etc.  Anything that provides the child with a sense of security and comfort can be transitional object.  Often times, transitional objects can become personified objects.  “As a child’s need for a security object decreases with increasing maturity, a transitional object may become imbued with personality and agency and emerge as a personified object.” (Gleason & Sebane 2000, p. 420) An object is personified when the child incorporates traits that are human personality oriented.  The blanket, doll, stuffed animal, or imaginary friends are animated and utilized for role-playing.  These can be a source of support and stress relief for children of divorce.  It should be noted that many children have transitional or personified objects who are not under stress.

Because feelings of shame, decrease in self-esteem, self-blame, anxiety and fear of abandonment may be prevalent for the child of divorce, children from divorced homes often perform academically worse than peers (Crow, Ward-Lonergan, 2003).  An inability or difficulty concentrating due to anxiety and worry is not uncommon.  Health issues that have resulted from anxiety can also cause a disturbance in sleep and ability to focus on school work.  Fortunately, with time and therapeutic interventions, most children are able to learn to cope with the grief and stress of divorce.

Therapeutic Intervention

With the tremendous influx of divorced families, therapeutic techniques have vastly improved in helping children cope with the stress and grief they face.  Therapies, support groups, role-playing, and picture books are all great resources to assist the child in coping.  Utilizing such tools gives children impacted by divorce an age appropriate view of the complex nature of divorce.  When a child begins to understand and is allowed to grieve, express emotion, and verbalize their anxieties, he or she has a greater chance to be relieved of the extreme pressure and stress that can impact for the duration of his or her life.

Fictional picture books provide children “an alternative channel of interpreting divorce by emotionally distancing themselves as story characters and expressing their feelings vicariously.” (Mo, 2007, p.23) Picture books allow children to understand the complexities of divorce at a visual level that is appealing and age appropriate in comprehension.  The illustrations provide children the chance to express feelings associated with divorce (2007).

Family therapy, psychotherapy techniques, play therapy and role-playing, art therapy and grief therapy are all models that have been incorporated into work with children of divorce (McCullough, 2009).  Each method has benefits and advantages, depending upon the individual and family.  Another form of intervention that has been found effective is group therapy.  Group therapy attempts to “communicate with children on issues of importance, providing support, enhancing their skill development, and promoting their mental health” (Rose, 2009, p. 227).  The three major advantages of group therapy in helping children of divorce are:

  1. Most schools and human service organizations are faced with large numbers of children who can benefit from help, thus working in groups is an efficient use of resources.
  2. The group work context normalizes the divorce experience and provides support to children who need it.
  3. Divorce raises many uncomfortable issues for children. Many children are more comfortable discussing these issues with peers present than they are in dyadic interaction with social workers. (Rose, 2009, pp. 222-223)

One final element of therapeutic help for children can begin with parents.  Parenting education can equip parents in helping them meet the needs of their children during the stressful time during and following divorce (Kelly & Emery, 2003)

Relationships

One of the most visible results of stress in a divorce is that of relationships.  Obviously, there is a demise in the relationship between the parents, but the relationships directly with the children are now critical and must be recognized and supported.  Some of the less obvious strains upon such relationships are economic, concerns of loyalty, parental conflict, and the previous level of nurturance prior to divorce.  Children often feel they are caught in the middle of their parent’s conflict (Gilman, Schneider & Shulak, 2005). Children living with parents who seek to contain and/or resolve their conflicts, will fare much better over the course of time than children who live in the midst of parental conflict (2005).  At the same time, children who continue a warm and loving relationship with parents and feel that their parents understand their experience will also fare better than children who have a less nurturing relationship with their parents (2005).

Children’s responses should be considered during the aftermath of divorce, and how well a child is functioning or not functioning should not be based on a parent’s need or self-interest to perceive fewer negative effects. (Moon, 2011, p. 348)

Children want to be understood.  They want to be listened to.  And finally they want to be able to express their feelings, which are just as real and raw as their parent’s.

Mother

 Children are naturally indwelt with the need for both parents.  The mother figure fulfills a set of needs and the father figure likewise.  In the case of divorce, eighty-five percent of children from divorced homes live with their mothers.  (Faber, Wittenborn, 2010)  The mother-child relationship may be one of the few relationships which remains intact throughout the divorce and remarriage process.  Mom is primary caregiver in almost all cases of divorce.  This can be highly beneficial, but can also place tremendous strain upon the relationship with the child and the father.  The type of relationship children have with their fathers, following the divorce “can either contribute to children’s resiliency or add additional risk.” (Faber, Wittenborn, 2010, p. 90)

Due to this fact the mother plays the strongest part in meeting the child’s needs post-divorce.  But, considerations of sensitivity and security are often overlooked.

Faber and Wittenborn (2010) eloquently state,

Parents who are sensitive and responsive to the child’s needs induce feelings of support and felt security within the child. These children tend to be classified as securely attached; as such they appear confident that support is available from their caregiver during times of need. Parents who are inconsistent in their response to their child’s needs often have children who display feelings of anxiety, vigilance, and anger. These children are typically classified as anxious/ambivalent and are unable to readily receive comfort from their caregiver in times of distress. When parents are habitually rejecting or not emotionally responsive to their child’s needs, they often have children who are prematurely self-reliant and repress feelings of vulnerability. These children are usually classified as avoidant and do not trust their caregiver to be supportive during times of distress. Disorganized children often experience their caregivers’ behaviors as frightening or experience maltreatment and tend to exhibit inconsistent or incoherent patterns of interacting. (Faber, Wittenborn, 2010, p. 91)

It is absolutely essential for mothers to allow children the ability to express their emotions, fears, and concerns.  Further it is imperative that consistency, sensitivity, and openness are offered regularly.  Structure and security are foundational to the health and healing for children of divorce.

Father

It is an undeniable fact that the court’s preference for mother’s often limits the interaction with healthy, well-intentioned, caring fathers.  Fathers often relay a sense of discouragement regarding “legal practitioners and a legal child custody system which they perceived to be biased against fathers as the reason why they were unable to obtain what they desired.”  (Kruk, 2010, p. 164)

The responsibilities of social institutions to support fathers in the fulfillment of their parenting responsibilities is a largely overlooked issue in the child custody discussion, which has largely focused on the competing rights-based claims of parents; a child-focused framework of child custody determination, focused on children’s needs, parental responsibilities in regard to these needs, and social institutional responsibilities to support parents in the fulfillment of their parental responsibilities, may offer a fresh approach to the issue. A principal finding of the present study is that fathers who wish to maintain a responsible, active parental role in the care of their children are discouraged from doing so, as the most common legal determination in disputed cases is non-residential fatherhood.  (Kruk, 2010, pp. 173-174)

The separation of father and child often begins at the fall of the gavel.  What is tragic is that children are often used as pawns in a game of gotcha between parents.  Someone always loses, often mothers, sometimes fathers, always children.  The children’s level of contact with their father can vary greatly.  Some children are allotted regular weekly contact, others once a week, and still others only see their fathers every other weekend (Faber, Wittenborn, 2010).  And some children have little or no contact with their fathers.  Positive father involvement following divorce has been associated with higher psychological scores, higher self-esteem, and lessened behavioral problems (2010).  However, a sudden loss in daily contact with fathers may lead to feelings of abandonment and anxiety about separation.  Ultimately, the lack of involvement by a father may begin to force children to question and even alter their internal working model of their father (2010).  It seems that indicators of positive father involvement are immediately evident post-divorce.  A poor relationship is characterized by low contact and higher levels of conflict (Peters & Ehrenberg, 2008).   Though all children need their fathers, there is evidence to suggest that girls, in particular, are especially impacted by the involvement of their father.  Disruptions due to divorce may lead to an increase female’s interest in and dependency on males (McLanahan & Bumpus, 1988).  Studies also suggest that positive paternal involvement in pre-school age children also leads to flexible attitudes toward male and female roles (Kruk, 2010).  Attachment in either parent is only possible with a sufficient level of engagement, and changes in engagement after divorce affect accessibility and responsibility (Kruk, 2010).

And as paternal engagement is necessary for accessibility and responsibility, so quality of attachment is largely dependent on amount of contact. Strong and secure emotional attachments between fathers and their children are not possible without routine and meaningful contact, beyond the constraints of court-ordered “access” and “visiting.” There seems little doubt that current laws and social institutional policies and practices present barriers to responsible fatherhood involvement and father-child attachment after divorce. (Kruk, 2010, p. 176)

It is clear that with each increment of increased contact between children of divorce and their fathers, there is also an equal increase in young adults reporting closeness with their fathers.  At the same time, when there is a decrease in contact, feelings of anger also correspond. (Kelly & Emery, 2003)

Siblings

The relationship with siblings can be, both, stable and unstable for children of divorce.  Siblings from the same marriage can increase bonds following divorce and many older children “adopt a caretaking role for younger siblings prior to their parents’ separation and are identified as the closest of all attachment figures in a child’s life.” (Shumaker et. Al, 2011, p.46) In one fifth of blended families, children have both stepsiblings and half-siblings (Ahrons, 2006).  However, children often do not think of their stepsiblings as brothers or sisters (2006).   Closeness between siblings often increases from the experience of going through the divorce of their parents together (Thomas & Woodside, 2011).  The addition of siblings through remarriage can bring added joy to children of divorce, but can also increase feelings of abandonment for the new child.

New Home/Separation

One of the most traumatic elements of divorce for children is the constant change and lack of control in his or her surroundings.  Not only is there a change in who they live with, but most often there is a change in where they live and the duration of time spent at each location.  These are a few perspectives offered by children regarding the toll of transitioning between homes,

  •      “Back-and-forth makes me sick. I want to throw up—both ways.” Another child repeated a mantra throughout the play: “Too long a drive, too long a drive.”
  •   A 5-year-old girl transformed the toy Band-Aid into a tool to help the dolls figure out where they belonged: “This [Band-aid] tells you if you’re in the right house.”
  • Another child focused so entirely on the ordeal of the travel process—stuffing each and every play item into the toy vehicle or her pockets, and then “driving” all over the house—that as soon as the dolls arrived at “dad’s house,” it was time to go back to “mom’s.” (Ebling, Pruett & Pruett, 2009, p. 675)

Children feel a loss of control about their situation.  They are often not adequately informed about the divorce and the implications for their lives.  Most often they are not consulted with about their living arrangements and often they don’t feel considered about their emotions and practical feelings (Kelly & Emery, 2003).   They often feel they live in a divided world.  “The lack of correlation between maternal and paternal involvement suggests that “Mom’s World” and “Dad’s World” are separate and disconnected (Finley & Schwartz, 2010, p. 516).

Remarriage

For children of divorce, it seems just as they are adapting to the new life beyond their parents marriage, new transitions arise.  Living in a single-parent household is a temporary situation for most parents and children (Faber, Wittenborn, 2010). Approximately seventy-five percent of men and sixty-six percent of women eventually remarry.  This can lead to further confusion and frustration for children of divorce as parents commonly respond to remarriage with a period of euphoria.  They become more focused on their new marriage than on their parenting.

Children may perceive the introduction of a new parent and possibly step-siblings as a threat to the attachment bond shared with their mother.  This threat may be further exacerbated by children perceiving their mothers as less supportive and available as well as more negative. These changes in the mother–child relationship have the potential to alter the child’s working models of his or her mother regarding her availability and responsiveness (Faber, Wittenborn, 2010, p. 94).

Future outlook

Most often children of divorce are able to adapt and move through the new normal of life following their parent’s divorce.  But, studies show that adult children of divorce tend to earn less income, obtain less education, have more troubled marriages, weaker ties with parents, and display more psychological distress symptoms (Thomas & Woodside, 2011)  One interesting conjecture about girls living with their single mothers was,

Daughters of single mothers learn that women are capable of managing a family alone. When faced with an unhappy marriage or a premarital pregnancy, they may be more likely than daughters from two- parent families to become single mothers (McLanahan, Bumpass, 1988, p. 133).

Parents must work to re-establish consistent rules, predictable expectations, and firm guidance and control (Johnston, 1990). Children feel out of control.  They need boundaries that they can expect to help give security and the feeling that they know what to expect.  This is true for children of intact families, but especially of children whose families have ended in divorce.  Parents, post-divorce, must work to restore warm and harmonious relationships with their children (1990).

Studies seem to suggest that adult children of divorce may also develop higher levels of acute and chronic health problems in middle-age (Luecken & Fabricius, 2003) This can also be correlated with current income, education, and family support, which report statistically lower than children of intact families.  It has been reported that  declines in physical health in older adults were related to the combination of early parental separation (by death or divorce) and high levels of current stress (2003).  Children of divorce also exhibit significantly more mental health issues than children from intact families (Strohschien, 2005).

Risk Factors

Portnoy (2006) highlights several risk factors for children of divorce which will cause more distress that may lead on to adulthood.  These include:

  •      Continuing conflict between the parents
  •      Diminished or incompetent parenting
  •      Economic decline
  •      Loss of non-parental supportive relationships
  •     Remarriage and re-partnering

However, there are several characteristics that will lead children of divorce toward positive coping.  These include:

  •     Positive coping
  •     The presence of positive social supports
  •     Competent custodial parenting
  •     An involved and competent non-custodial parent (Portnoy, 2006, pp.129-130)

Biblical Insight

The Bible makes it clear that God is not partial to divorce.  While it is allowable in cases of infidelity, it is not to be used as a “first option.”  Even when all else seems to fail, God is always grieved with a broken covenant of marriage, and desires that the bride and groom reconcile whenever possible.  Mark 10:11-12 (New International Version) states, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”  God thinks divorce is a very serious decision.  With divorce rates on the rise and the rapidity of the process in today’s age, God still considers divorce much more than the “end of chapter in life”.  Western society treats marriage like a weekend at the movies; when the plot isn’t interesting enough or the characters lose their appeal, it’s time to walk out.  It is important to note the there are genuine cases of complexity in marital discord.  That is not a fact that the author wishes to undermine, but it is equally true that divorce is taken too lightly, both in society and, sadly, the church.

Though the Bible has much to say about divorce, there is nothing said about the impact of divorce upon children.  However, Ephesians 6:4 (New International Version) states, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  (emphasis added) If anything exasperates a child, divorce will.  The Bible is clear that man is selfish.  Almost always, divorce is a result of one or both parties not relinquishing his or her will about one or more issues.  While marriage is usually never considered easy, with work, humility, and a relinquishing of selfish rights, it is possible in many circumstances to work differences out.  It is vital to note that there are genuine, necessary cases that warrant a separation or divorce.  (Physical danger to one or more parties in the home, rampant chemical, physical, or verbal abuse, and cases of blatant, continued adultery, provide justifiable, understandable, and biblical support in the consideration of divorce.)

Personal Reflection

My parents divorced when I was eight years of age.  Though it was highly traumatic being initially separated from my father, he almost immediately proved to be an uninvolved father.  My mother remarried and has stayed married to my step-father, who for all intensive purposes is my “dad”.  My father, however, has married and divorced two more women after the demise of my mother’s marriage to him.  I am now thirty-two years old and have no relationship with my father.  I can report as an adult child of divorce, that my parent’s choices have impacted me, thus far, my whole life.  Though I am not hindered by their divorce, I have had to work extremely hard to overcome maladaptive attitudes and patterns of behavior.  It is only with the Lord’s help that this is even possible.  I have now been married for almost thirteen years and have my own children.  Throughout the various stages of my life I have been able to view my parent’s divorce in different ways.  I continue to process the impact it has had upon me and now hold a strong fervor for marriage.  Marriage is not easy.  It takes more work than any relationship mankind forges, but it is necessary for us to learn, grow, and foster health into our marriages for ourselves and the sake of our children.  I have no wish to make my parent’s mistakes.  I have certainly made my own, but I refuse to allow the patterns of divorce and broken relationships to continue.  With God’s help and the recognition of my past, I remain dedicated to my marriage and my children.  Children are adaptable, with therapy, support from solid friends and family, and my faith, I have risen above the grief and trauma I faced as a child, resulting from my parent’s divorce.  This should, however, never be used as justification for parent’s decision.  The gravity of stress a child faces when their parents end their marriage is immense.  That point cannot be stressed strongly enough.

References

 Crow, K. M., & Ward-Lonergan, J. M. (2003). An analysis of personal event narratives produced by school-age children. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ebling, R., Pruett, K. D., & Pruett, M. (2009). “Get over it”: perspectives on divorce from young children. Family Court Review, 47(4), 665-681. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Faber, A., & Wittenborn, A. (2010). The role of attachment in children’s adjustment to divorce and Remarriage. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 21(2), 89-104. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Finley, G. E., & Schwartz, S. J. (2010). The divided world of the child: divorce and long-term psychosocial adjustment. Family Court Review, 48(3), 516-527. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Gerber, L. E. (1998). The divorce culture. Magill’s Literary Annual 1998, 1-3. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Gilman, J., Schneider, D., & Shulak, R. (2005). Children’s ability to cope post-divorce: the effects of kids’ turn intervention program on 7 to 9 year olds. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 42(3/4), 109-126. doi:10.1300/J087v42n03_07

Gleason, T. R., & Sebane, A. M. (2000). Imaginary Companions of Preschool Children.  Developmental Psychology, 36(4), 419. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Hodges, W., Tierney, C., & Buchsbaum, H. (1984). The cumulative effect of stress on preschool children of divorced and intact families. Journal of Marriage andFamily, 46(3), 611-617. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Johnston, J. R. (1990). Role diffusion and role reversal: structural variations in divorced families and children’s functioning. Family Relations, 39(4), 405-13.  Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Kelly, J. B., & Emery, R. E. (2003). Children’s adjustment following divorce: risk and resilience perspectives. Family Relations, 52(4), 352-362. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Kelly, J. (2007). Children’s living arrangements following separation and divorce: insights from empirical and clinical research. Family Process, 46(1), 35-52. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Kruk, E. (2010). Parental and social institutional responsibilities to children’s needs in the divorce transition: fathers’ perspectives. Journal of Men’s Studies, 18(2), 159-178. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Lansford, J. E. (2009). Parental divorce and children’s adjustment. Perspectives on Psychological Science (Wiley-Blackwell), 4(2), 140-152. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01114.x

Luecken, L. J., & Fabricius, W. V. (2003). Physical health vulnerability in adult children from divorced and intact families. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 55(3), 221-228. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

McCullough, C. (2009). A child’s use of transitional objects in art therapy to cope with divorce. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 26(1), 19-25. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

McLanahan, S., & Bumpass, L. (1988). Intergenerational consequences of family disruption. American Journal of Sociology, 94(1), 130-152. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Mo, W. (2007). The divorce culture and picture books for young children. International Journal of Early Childhood, 39(2), 23-35. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Moon, M. (2011). The effects of divorce on children: married and divorced parents’ perspectives. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 52(5), 344-349. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Peters, B., & Ehrenberg, M. (2008). The influence of parental separation and divorce on father-child relationships. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 49(1-2), 78-109. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Portnoy, S. M. (2008). The psychology of divorce: a lawyer’s primer, part 2: the effects of divorce on children. American Journal of Family Law, 21(4), 126-134. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Rose, S. (2009). A review of effectiveness of group work with children of divorce. Social Work With Groups, 32(3), 222-229. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Shumaker, D. M., Miller, C., Ortiz, C., & Deutsch, R. (2011).  The forgotten bonds:  the assessment and contemplation of sibling attachment in divorce and parental separation. Family Court Review, 49(1), 46-58. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

The Holy Bible. (1984). New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan Publishing House.

Thomas, D., & Woodside, M. (2011). Resilience in adult children of divorce: a multiple case study. Marriage & Family Review, 47(4), 213-234. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Trohschein, L. (2005). Parental divorce and child mental health trajectories. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(5), 1286-1300. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Bada Bing! to a Swing

September 3, 2011 2 comments

A swing set only works if the core structure is supported.

Earlier this summer, we decided that the kids needed a swing set. (I suppose need isn’t the right word, but you get the idea.) Rather than buy the flimsy set-up that most retail stores sell, we decided to look for kits and the materials needed to build a swing set. Trying to be the most economical and being tremendously blessed with a husband and father-in-law who have MacGyver skills, we determined that it was best to build the thing from scratch. Even the kits that provide most of the materials were way more expensive that simply piecing it out ourselves, a la carte style. (I can lump “myself” in, because I am lawfully married to Mr. Handyman. Other than that I can claim no credit.) Some lumber, chain, swing seats and stakes,

VOILA! We had fun for all ages under 12. Seems like a great, down home story right?

Then…

That’s right. Then happened.

Through no fault of my husband or father-in-law’s (and since I don’t get much credit, I’m not taking any blame either.) The stupid beam at the top began to warp in the elements after only a couple months. I never noticed it, because I’m just really observant when it comes to metal and wood, but my husband was concerned. So, after only a couple months the swing set was surrounded with yellow “caution” tape. (no, not really.) Kids were banned until further notice and inspection could occur. Even after we were pretty sure that it wouldn’t buckle, (again, we. I don’t know why…) my husband thought it would be safest to attach some 2×4’s (or was it 3×6?) beams to the middle of the structure with bolts.

Bada bing! Back in business. Fun ensues. Happy, happy, joy, joy!!

Last night, I read a passage in Psalms 18 –

Psalm 18:16-19
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me. (NIV)

I was struck with this passage and noticed a couple of elements. First, the author uses the words “my” and “me” several times. Obviously, he is writing about himself when he uses the word “me.”

“took hold of me,”

“drew me out,”

“rescued me,”

“too strong for me,”

“confronted me,”

“brought me out,”

“rescued me,” a second time,

“delighted in me.”

Eight times in four verses, he uses this word. However, every time he uses a word that typically denotes focus upon the author, he uses it to refer back to who rescued him.

God.

Though there is a lot of “me, me, me, me,” the author uses each and every mark for the glory of God and what He did.

Secondly, there is the word, “my.” This word is used as a possessive for the following word.

my powerful enemy,”

my disaster,”

my support.”

If we took only these phrases of possession out from the passage, we get the clear idea that this dude is in trouble. He is clearly unable and incapable of overcoming some sort of task.  Anytime he refers to himself, he is conveying that he simply cannot continue alone as the situation stands.

There is the necessity of One more powerful to get him through, get him out, and get him to the place where he can stand the pressure.

I began to think of that swing set. Really we are very similar to a swing set. We go out into life and very soon the elements beat us down, warp us, and render us near inoperable, at times. The very material of our structure, our core, can cease to fulfill it’s purpose when we are shifty.

We are weathered and worn.

It’s not until the proper support is firmly attached to the very center of our being, that we are able to stand the pressure and weight of this world. Without it, we will certainly collapse at any unforeseeable moment.

When we firmly affix Christ to the center of our lives, we are able to withstand life.

Pushing and pulling, relationships, finances, jobs, kids, life, can weigh on us and if we are weathered, warped, and too worn out, we are unable to stand and fulfill our intended purpose.

Are you battered, uncertain about withstanding life’s pressures, and left without purpose?

Or are you clinging to Jesus, standing fast and firm, and have the certainty of pulling through, regardless of the weight of the world?

Feelin’ a Little Snarky

After a week that began annoying and ended in physical pain, I have chosen to begin this one a little…hmmm…snarky.  I’m in full jaded wit mode. 

**Sarcasm alert**

So, I guess I’ll just take this time as an outlet for my whiplash wit.  After my little rant, you may wonder if I have schizophrenic tendencies – I’m just gonna flow. (watch out, Eminem….)

I chose to take at least a week of of Facebook.  Several of my fb posse, some of my dearest friends (cyber friends and the real ones, too), went into shock mode.  They may have been tempted to call authorities to check if I:

A. had been held against my will at Area 51

B. was roaming the city, mumbling about Cheerio liferafts,

C. was abducted by aliens (like Randy Quaid) or

D. placed in a rubber room to the tune of Lady Gaga. 

After last week, I think any of these scenarios would be a welcome vacation

Thankfully, I haven’t lost my sense of humor. 

Aren’t you glad?…Don’t answer that.

Though I faced a few personal attacks, my true friends, people I consider my family, immediately lined up  to bless, encourage, and support me.  These last two years, I have had to modify my methods of communication.  You see I am a die hard advocate for communication.  But, I have had some intense times of learning how to effectively communicate.  Yet, in spite of it, there are people who still don’t agree with my passion (in more than one venue, I assure you).  What’s particularly sad, is that those who know me best, know that regardless of how zealous I am, my deepest desire is to convey that I love, in spite of any disagreement.  This is especially true after learning that my brand of wit, even in debate, could sometimes be tinged with a little too much “bite”.  It takes alot to get that “bite” from me, especially in face-to-face conversation, but when writing, I have a tendency to utilize the full arsenal of my gift for edgy wit and arguement.  I am proud to say that I think much harder before introducing “bite” to my “bark.”  These are lessons that have been tremendously beneficial, though heartwrenching. 

I proclaim my right to be a “lump of clay.” 

However, don’ t you hate the few days after a disagreement when you go over and over what you should have said, what you shouldn’t have said, and what you would like to have said, but know that it would be wrong???  I wish I had some precognition to an upcoming discussion.  I could be prepared, rather than, “Beday-beday,bu..bhsjdsllds..”

Think Porky Pig on psychotropic medication.

What frustrates me, though, is when others in conversation, don’t even try to be kind.  Accusatory, vicious, and downright mean, are attitudes that NEVER promote healthy dialogue.  Insinuations, condescention, and inhumility are the icing to the poison laced cake that is disingenuity. 

One of the most ironic aspects of this particular rant is that most of the time, those who are unkind, uncaring, or simply neglectful tend to be my family. 

Ouch….Ouch…..OUCH!!

Does anyone else feel like this?  Am I the only one? 

Yeah, I’ve heard the arguement that this is due to the fact that family “will always be there.”  That these are the people that you are most likely to take for granted that they are “always there”.  How is that a good reason?  When did it become “ok” to be rude, based on the fact that “blood is thicker than water?”

And just because the annoyances from last week continue – I just published this post without realizing it.  Okaaaayyy. Guess I was done. Subconciously, maybe?

Of Garden Gnomes and Compost….

Garden Gnomes

It’s almost June.  And I’m getting ready to start my garden. 

By “getting ready,” I mean that I really like the idea of a garden and I have a complete book that I need to read before I clear the area in the yard, build the platform, get the seeds, dirt, and grow a green thumb. 

Most avid gardeners got ready in early April with their lettuce’s and plans, but not here.  I’d rather, like most things, procrastinate until I get to the point where it’s hotter than hades outside to get the shovel out. 

Getting “ready” to garden, got me thinking about what it takes to grow vitamin rich vegetables and fruits.  I have managed to skim my “Square Foot Gardening” book and looked at the section about making your own compost. 

Wow. 

That seems like a project I could do. 

Just throw your trash in the yard?  Seriously??  I am so there. 

The neighbors a few houses down must be about to grow a friggin’ co-op!! 

With the general cloud that hung over last week in my world, I realized that gardening is so representative of the relationship between us and the Lord.  Literally and metaphorically, speaking. 

God made the seeds.  God made the sun.  God made the water.  But, when we stick the seeds in the soil (provided that we plant in appropriate soil), it all comes together and grows! 

So about that soil…Gnomeo, the square-foot, garden guy (not really, I don’t remember his name.  I can barely remember to take my psychotropic medicine.) recommends that you select only the best soils. 

Translation: Don’t use the suburban crap loaded with chunks of cement that the housing developers sell you, mislabeling it, a “lawn.”

  He suggests using a trio combination, I only remember one: vermiculite. 

(I only remember because its fun to say, “vermiculite.” Seriously, try it, “verMIculite.”).  So you take the verMIculite, soil 2, and soil3 and

VOILA! 

Insta’ cozy bed for the precious, widdle, veggie-weggies. 

This wasn’t the part that fascinated me. 

That may be the reason I haven’t done it, yet.  I’m sort of like a two-year old, in terms of attention span, you know….wait…what???

Oh, right…

So, what was sort of interesting to me was the fact that you can take your compostable garbage (I’m guessing styrofoam, 6-pack plastic rings, and diapers aren’t the target.) like leftover corn stalks, I don’t know pork-rinds, and uneaten beanie weenies.  Plus, any unused horse manure you have lying around . 

What other uses are there for horse manure???

Does dog dirt count? I’ve got a yard, chocked full of unused dog droppings.  It’s about time the resident mutt make a useable contribution around here….

(See, 2-year old attention span…sorry)

Yeah, this post is getting a little messy, time to interject the point!

The Bible even talks about gardening.  Jesus told gave this parable:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  (Matt. 13:3-9)

Soil is important!  Even Jesus talked about it!  He explained the reason for his metaphor, saying,

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Soil is vital to the health of the crop.  Without good soil, any seed scattered will not take root and flourish. 

The foundation for a garden is a prelude to the outcome of the crop. 

Back to the compost – (see?)

I got to thinking. 

What is compost? 

Waste.  The leftover junk that smells, may be moldy, and really is unusable for any other reason. 

(Well, except the horse manure…)

In life, we can take our junk to God’s garden.  We can unload our leftovers: our personality quirks, our pasts, our addictions, our smelly, moldy stuff. We allow it to hit the rich soil of God’s grace and watch him water and grow vitamin-rich, nourishment in our lives.  But this requires effort on our part!  We must be sure we are planting in the rich soil that is a balance of biblical truth, the love and forgiveness of Christ, and the infiltration of the Holy Spirit’s leading. 

The Soil, the Son, and Living Water.

VerMIculite.

Once we have seed within a good soil, compost it, water it and allow the Son to take over, we have to be vigilant.  We weed, pulling out any thing that enters the garden that doesn’t benefit the garden:

Again, weeds.

Pesty insects.

Pesty animals. (rabbits, squirrels, birds, dumb mutts….)

We have to take precautions, knowing that these things are bound to threaten the thrival (is that a word?) of the garden.  We watch the garden.  Prune out the threats.  Set boundaries and barriers to inhibit the pests from threatening the crop.  Cultivate the soil, continuing to take advantage of the richness in the foundation (the Word of God, accountability from mature brothers and sisters in Christ, prayer). 

Such careful work will yield a successful crop. 

One more time….

VerMIculite

Osama bin Laden – How should the Believer respond?

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden.  Say that name anywhere in the world and some type of response will be elicited.  The fact that the man is now dead, brings a myriad of emotion and strong rhetoric out of many people internationally.  Nearly everyone will have an opinion and a strong one at that.  Most say he got what he deserved.  So many people are moving to the streets in celebration.  Strong emotion, strong language, strong partying…?? 

My initial raw, gut reaction was to move into the streets, laugh and rant and rave.  (Not literally.  In midwest suburbia at midnight that would be strongly frowned upon for other reasons.)  But, then a Voice got a hold of my heart and reminded me that this was folly. 

The fact is the guy was utterly lost and seriously depraved. He served the devil whilst he was certain he was serving “God,” nonetheless we are commanded (!) to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. I, by no means, believe that we let criminals get off “scot free,” but I think there should be a sense of candor and grace in OUR actions, NOT because he was deserving, but because we belong to One who saved us from our sin. God said, “The vengeance is mine.” We act with justice, but we, as Believers, are to be set apart, reverent, and act as though Christ would. Did Christ ever get angry? Absolutely! But, did he revel in someone’s demise? Never… He used sober judgement, warning us of the perils of sin and the eternal judgement that awaits those who refuse to give their lives to Him.

It’s a shame that people have stooped to the same level that much of the Arab world did on 9-11. Just because they danced in the streets, is not a license for us to. I, myself, had to really examine what my response should be and felt that the Lord would not be pleased by the celebration and sheer folly of the termination of any life, even one so graphically vile, as bin Laden’s. 

Further, I think that the celebratory and congratulatory attitudes that are wildly flaunted right now in the media, in politics, and on main street are only fanning the flames of hatred, violence, and plots to destroy American soldiers and civilians.  After pondering the news, I reflected upon the images that were flashing upon televisions and computer screens worldwide, knowing that this was going to further support the uprising that has been continuing to seep across the Middle East.  Radicals will use these images for propaganda to encourage stronger, more complex, violent schemes toward our country.   I am constantly amazed that most in the media are not recognizing this and certainly not urging caution and restraint in the public’s actions. 

Those who were directly affected by the devastation of September 11th will feel this more than the rest of us.  The troops who have been lost, the families who have lost their loved one’s who bravely served in an attempt to eradicate our world from this evil, have a claim at the sense of justice.  The fact is the though that evil never sleeps.  Evil is not thwarted by our desperation for vengeance and glory.  However, this does not mean we simply let evil have a physical presence in this world.  But, we must recognize that there are works that our eyes often do not see and the only way to fight this battle is with the army of the Lord.  Evil doesn’t die in our strength, but only by the power of Christ’s blood.   In fact, if we give in to the same bloodlust, we are tools in the hands of the enemy…

Evil will take reign in us if we aren’t aware, aren’t cautious, and aren’t pro-active.  The best weapons we, as Believers hold, is to recognize the war that we wage is not against flesh and blood, but powers of darkness.

Ephesians 6:12 (New International Version)

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.

As Believers we are commanded to love our enemies.  That does NOT mean to tolerate what they do and allow reckless behavior!  But, it means that our response should not be out of bitter anger, but of righteous thinking, even righteous anger!  Righteous anger comes from the Holy Spirit within us.  The things that anger God and violate his Word, should anger us, but only in the sense that it is HIS authority that is violated, not our own

I don’t have this attitude perfected.  I am merely a lump of clay that He continues to mould and break.  But, these are the reflections that I have had in these last 48 hours. 

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