Catch the Vision: Get Involved

In my post last week, The Grieving Process: What Does it Mean, I emphasized that if adults could grab hold of what it means to GRIEVE, then we would be better equipped to know how to help children during a time of loss in their lives.  Using Matthew 5:4 from The Sermon on the Mount as a reference, we explored the meaning of grieve.

I will be going through the steps most often associated with  “how to grieve”  in the coming weeks, but today, I want to introduce you to people who caught the vision and immediately wanted to get involved in the process to help children in grief.

Chris: I met Chris at my local bank when I went in to take care of some business.  During my visit, I briefly explained to Chris that I had just published a book.  He wanted to know the name of the book and what it was about.  I gave him a brief description and then turned my attention back to the business at hand.

However, Chris wanted to know if I had a website.  I told him I did and he clicked onto my website and began reading all about the contents of Helping Hurting Children: A Journey of Healing.

Obviously my curiosity was up since this manager of a bank expressed such a great interest in my book.  So, I finally said to Chris, “may I ask you why you are interested in this book?”

It was then he told me the story of his girlfriend’s little 8-year-old boy who was going through a very difficult time with the divorce of his parents.  Chris ended by saying, “I want to help this little guy. Do you have a copy of your book you can sell me now?”

And so it was, right there in the bank,
Chris caught the vision and got involved
in helping a child in his life who was hurting from divorce.

Kim:  Kim has recently opened up Enchanted Cottage in our town of Orange, Texas.  Kim specializes in tea parties and birthday parties for children, along with holding workshops on etiquette.

But, recently Kim saw another way her business could be used.  Having been a foster parent for over twenty years, Kim sees first- hand the losses and hurts children experience.  Kim also sensed that there are many kids in our community who deal with losses every day, and that perhaps, they are being overlooked for some reason or another.

So, Kim invited me to teach a four week workshop at Enchanted Cottage this coming November. Flyers will be sent out to all the churches in our community and posted on the windows in businesses, inviting parents to bring their children to attend this faith based workshop.

Out of Kim’s heart and life-long ministry to foster children,
she expanded her vision to the whole community
to help hurting children.

Emily: Emily was one of the first people to purchase a copy of my book.  Her words to me at the time were:

“My children aren’t experiencing any specific losses,
but I want to prepare them for things they might encounter on an everyday basis.
I will be using this as a devotional book.”


Perhaps you might be thinking, “I get what you are doing, Martha.  You are just giving a sales pitch to get people to purchase your book.”  I can’t deny that.  Obviously, I didn’t spend hours researching, writing, and investing money into a book just to have it sit on the shelf.

But, I hope you will hear my heart as I explain what I believe is a God-given vision.  Andy Stanley, author of Visioneering had this to say about vision:

Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be. Anyone who is frustrated, brokenhearted, maybe even angry, about the way things are in light of the way they believe things could be, is a candidate for a vision.

Visions form in the hearts of those who are dissatisfied with the status quo.  Vision carries with it a sense of conviction.  Anyone with a vision will tell you this is not merely something that could be done.  This is something that should be done.  It is this element that catapults men and women out of the realm of passive concern and into action.

And that, my friend, is what has been birthed in me.

  • I am broken-hearted over the losses children are experiencing today
  • I am tired of the status quo of thinking about it, pondering the situation, but doing nothing about helping them.
  • I have a conviction that parents, grandparents, and any lay person can help them just by getting involved.
  • This conviction has spurred me to action.

Won’t you join my granddaughter Hannah and me, Chris, Kim, and Emily in this crusade?  Click onto my website and read the PDF: Suggestions for Using the Workbook.  After reading it, I believe that you too, will:  Catch the Vision and Get Involved.

With God leading us, you and I can take the hand of a child and lead him into a bright future in spite of the losses that may surround him.

The Grieving Process: What Does it Mean?

In my post last week, Grieving Children: A Cry for Help, professional counselor Gail Johnson, pointed out that:  Children’s grief needs to be acknowledged. They need to be involved in the grieving process and allowed to mourn in the company of relatives and peers. Issues of loss and grief are best worked through as they occur and not delayed to be worked out years later, if ever.

The Grieving Process — do we as parents, grandparents, or any lay person for that matter, really know what those words mean?  I know I didn’t for many years.  But, when my pastor and mentor, the late Melba Berkheimer, introduced me to The Grieving Process and asked me to teach adult classes on this subject, something inside of me clicked and made me want to learn more about it.

My studies eventually led me to believe that if adults could grab hold of what it means to grieve, then we would be better equipped to know how to help children during a time of loss in their lives.

So, this week, let’s rip that word apart, using a verse from Matthew 5:4 as our guide.

Blessed are they who mourn (grieve)
For they shall be comforted.

Yes, it was Jesus who introduced that word GRIEVE to us in The Sermon on the Mount.  It was here on this mountain top that Jesus delivered what came to be known as The Beatitudes. Oswald Cambers, author of His Utmost for His Highest, said, “The Beatitudes that Jesus delivered that day are not a set of rules and regulations to live by, but they are a statement of the life we live when the Holy Spirit is getting His way with us.  They literally explode when the circumstances of our lives cause them to do so.”

There are three key words in that verse that we need to understand so that we can allow them to activate and explode within us after a loss. Those words are: mourn, comfort, bless.

Mourn is the same word as grieve, which means to feel or express sorrow.

Most of us don’t want people to see us cry, so we suppress our tears, hurts, and feelings.  I was one of those who, not only suppressed my feelings from others, I withheld them from God also.  I thought some of the feelings I was having were so bad, I didn’t want God to know. My thinking was, “If I don’t voice my feelings, God won’t know!” Isn’t that a laugh!  However, when we suppress our feelings, they will come out in some other form, and most likely hurt innocent people.

In Psalm 142:2, David said: “I poured out my complaint before Him; I showed before him my trouble.” What we see David doing in so many of the Psalms is letting his feelings flow freely concerning events occurring in his life.  As the saying goes, “he let them all hang out.”  May I hasten to say that, along with feeling and expressing every feeling, we do have to learn how to control our actions, no matter how we feel.  We especially have to teach good behavior to children, along with teaching them how to feel and express their feelings.

Comfort means to console, to strengthen.

Our natural tendency is to scream out, “Get me out of this situation, and get me out quick!”  In other words, we want a “quick fix.”  Quick fixes are like putting a band-aid on a bleeding wound.  It may slow the bleeding down, but it doesn’t last long.

There are no “quick fixes.”  I see God saying to us, “Give me your hand, and let me walk you through the situation.”  And that’s exactly what will happen when we begin to feel and express our feelings in the midst of pain and sorrow. God will seize the opportunity for his comfort to literally explode within us.  His comfort will come in various ways, such as:

  1. God’s Word:  Romans 15:4 tells us that those things that were written so long ago was for our learning so that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
  2. Others who have experienced a loss:  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us that those who have already been comforted during a difficult time in their lives will comfort others.

Look at it this way:  When feelings are withheld and not expressed, there is no comfort to be found.

Bless is the receiving of something good; bringing joy.

Perhaps you might be thinking, “how in the world can I receive something good from what I’ve been through?  No way it will ever bring me joy!”

The Bible tells one story after another of how God takes evil and brings good out of it.  My favorite Old Testament story seeing this concept played out is in the life of Joseph. Joseph experienced loss after loss beginning when his brothers sold him to traders going into Egypt.  But, he rose to a high position in Pharaoh’s court and was able to help thousands in need, even his brothers who had betrayed him.

Having gone through The Grieving Process with various losses in my life, I can vouch for at least two ways this part of Matthew 5:4 has literally exploded in my life.

  1. Good came about from the things I learned going through the process.
  2. Joy came as I passed those things I learned on to others. Believe me, there is no greater joy in life than taking what was intended evil for you and turn it around to helping others in need.


So, grieving is a normal process after a loss, even in the lives of children.  “How to lead children through this process,” is what I try to help you do in my book, Helping Hurting Children:  A Journey of Healing.

Refer to my website and download the PDF on “Suggestions for Using the Children’sWorkbook.” Perhaps it will give you ideas as to how you might be able to use my book for children in your family or community.

Incidentally, the featured image at the beginning of today’s post was drawn by the illustrator of my book, Mel LeCompte, Jr.  Mel also created Bubby the Rabbit who travels with Hannah, Crystal, Heather, Zach, and Hadley on their journey of healing in each chapter of the book.  The picture shows Bubby and the kids as they listen to The Sermon on The Mount.  (See if you can find Bubby in the crowd.)

See you right here next week.

Grieving Children: A Cry for Help

help children

As I began my third week of blogging for hurting children, I first want to thank those of you who have subscribed to it, and also those who are reading and sharing it with your friends on Facebook and other social networks.  This is a message that is dear to my heart and your interest tells me that it is also dear to you.

In my previous post entitled, Let the Children Come to Me, I talked about ways children are sometimes overlooked during a time of loss in their life.  We discovered that the #1 reason children are overlooked and don’t receive the help they need in coping with their loss is that the primary adult in the child’s life just doesn’t know how to help him.

Today, I want to introduce you to Gail Johnson, a licensed professional counselor.  Gail has spent years counseling adults, children, and teens, so I wanted to do an interview with her to help us get an over-all picture of a child in grief, and how we might begin to help him.  I was privileged to have Gail endorse my book, Helping Hurting Children:  A Journey of Healing.

  1. Gail, how did you come to choose counseling as your career field?
    I began my career as a hairdresser. I was very interested in people and realized that if I really wanted to help people I needed to learn all I could. So, I left hairdressing, went to school and eventually became a Licensed Professional Counselor.
  2. Tell us about your work in counseling families over the years.
    Most of my work with younger children occurred when I worked at a school with P-K through 12th grade enrollment. I have also worked with at-risk children and adolescents, with adults in prison and with addicted teens and adults. Investigating their histories, I had the opportunity to see how these problems, particular problems of loss, followed the children on into their adult lives.

    Divorce and abandonment were the two prevalent issues. Abandonment is a natural result of one parent leaving the home. However, the custodial parent is often so overwhelmed with his or her own loss that the child feels emotionally abandoned by them also.

    Of course, there were other losses as well including death, moving, loss of friends and pets.

  3. What are some of the behavioral signs that children and teens might exhibit that would indicate he needs help in dealing with a loss?
    Look for changes from the norm. Expect some temporary regression in younger children. Their emotions will usually show up in their behavior and play. Monitor anger and aggression in older children and adolescents. Copious information is readily available on how children grieve at different developmental stages.

    Children’s sadness and negative behavioral changes should gradually decrease over time. If those negative behaviors are extreme or do not gradually begin to get better, say two to six months, it may be time for an evaluation by a professional.

    Some signs children may need help are:

    • Appearing trapped in a grief stage, unable to move on
    • Continuing to exhibit chronic psychosomatic health problems
    • Displaying acting-out behaviors and bad school performance
    • No decrease of bad dreams or other fearful behavior and anxiety.

    Get professional help immediately if the child becomes physically abusive to self or others as a means of coping with his anger and depression, or if there is suicidal ideation.

  4. What advice can you give to parents, grandparents, foster parents, or any caring adult that they could use in helping a child in grief?
    Invite children to talk about their feelings and let them know you are available when they want to talk. Reassure them that they will be taken care of.

    If the parent must be unavailable for the child, like making funeral arrangements, etc., assign a loving adult to stay close to the child.

    Keep to normal routines as much as possible.

    Teachers and other adults interacting with the child need to be made aware of the situation.

    Help children move from grieving to cherishing memories.

  5. Final thoughts of your own that you would like to share with our readers.
    Children’s grief needs to be acknowledged. They need to be involved in the grieving process and allowed to mourn in the company of relatives and peers. Issues of loss and grief are best worked through as they occur and not delayed to be worked out years later, if ever.


And that, my friends, is spoken by one who has spent her adult life counseling those who are hurting.  I want to thank Gail for joining us and shedding light on this subject of losses and grief in children.

Are you seeing any of those behavior patterns in your child’s life that Gail described?  If so, leave me a comment and let’s see what we can do to help him.

Be sure to join Hannah and me right here again next Tuesday.