Christ's Glory, Not Mine

Devotions, advice, and book reviews from science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

Children: Helping Them Stay Positive During Holiday Absences

Photo via Pixabay

Guest Post By: Kelli Brewer

Holidays are a time when families come together, spend time with one another, and thank the Lord for all of their blessings, but if a loved one is far away, it can put a damper on things. For children, it may be hard to understand their loved one’s absence, and they may have a hard time coping when their loved one has to miss out on special occasions. To keep your child (whether you are the parent or the legal guardian) positive and upbeat, communicate the situation to them, allow other relatives to fill in when necessary, find fun ways for them to stay connected with their loved one, and let them know that no matter what, God is with your child and the loved one they long to be with.

Give Them Details

When it comes to telling your child that a family member will be absent for a period a time, preparing your child depends on their age, personality, temperament, and family situation. Whether the absence is due to traveling, deployment, a move, or medical treatment, it is important that you are as open and honest with your child as they ask you to be, and realize that they may not understand. Some reasons for a loved one’s departure may be more sensitive than others, and your child may have questions that you don’t know how to answer, and that’s okay. It’s important that you try, and they’ll recognize and be comforted that you’re making an effort to keep them out of the dark. For example, if a loved one enters addiction treatment, your child may have a lot of questions about what they are struggling with. It may not feel appropriate to bombard an elementary-aged child with information on what it means to be addicted. However, it will be helpful to let them know that your family will play an important part in helping your loved one feel better, but right now, God is working to heal them.

Time out when you will let the child know of the absence. For children 3 years old and younger, they haven’t yet grasped the concept of time, so telling them you will be gone for one month could translate to tomorrow. Even elementary-aged children may have a hard time differentiating five days from one week.

Rather than focus on the time specifics, use the time before the absence to simply remind them that it is going to happen so that it doesn’t take them by surprise. For older children, give them advanced notice so they have adequate time to get as used to the idea as possible. To help children visualize the time frame, let them pick out a calendar and mark the leave and return dates in colorful marker or pen. Each day, let your child cross out the day or mark it off with a sticker. Alternatively, you could try putting things into a perspective that makes sense to them, such as, “After we attend three Sunday services, Dad will be back home.”

When you are talking to your child, take cues from them and follow their lead. Some may ask a lot of questions and want to know every single detail, such as where you will be located on a map, where you will sleep, or what you will be doing. Others may simply want to know when you will be home. Encourage your child to ask questions and express their emotions. Each situation is different, so determine what information is appropriate for your child to know.

Keep Them Involved

During holidays, your child may be sad or upset that their loved one isn’t there to participate in the activities. Document the event with a camera or recorder, or let your child video chat with the loved one during fun activities such as dyeing Easter eggs or opening gifts. If video chat isn’t an option, set up a time for your child to talk on the phone with them and tell them all about their day and activities they participated in. Many churches now offer their services through live, online streams, so if attending church on Sunday with their loved one is a tradition your child looks forward to, ask your loved one to “attend” the service online so they can talk about the sermon afterward like they always would. You may also want to consider letting your child draw a picture or write a letter. If your child isn’t old enough to write, transcribe it for them.

Regardless of what holiday you are celebrating, it is important to not only document it, but honor traditions. Even if a family member is absent, children often count on certain traditions. It is important to continue them to reassure them that although some things have changed, others have remained the same. Having aunts, uncles, and grandparents around can still make the holiday feel like a family event, and it softens the blow of missing out on an absent mom or dad.

If your child expresses sadness over a family member not being able to participate in a holiday tradition, suggest a new tradition that everyone can participate in, or try a spin on one you already have. For example, if your family says a special prayer at Easter dinner, work with your family member ahead of time and ask them to contribute to this year’s family prayer. Their words will bring comfort to your child, and even though it may feel a little different this year, the tradition will live on.

No matter what holiday your loved one is absent for, it can be tough on children who don’t understand or who have trouble dealing with this type of change. Try to keep the lines of communication open, and try to keep them involved to help them work through their emotions and stay connected with their loved one. Encourage them to pray for their loved one — and offer to join them in doing so — and reassure them that God will bring everyone together again when He knows the time is right.

Kelli writes for DeployCare, where she shares resources and solutions for issues commonly faced by military families.


There Was Light

photo credit: blavandmaster Light overflow via photopin (license)

There was light in the dawn
Spreading over separating waters,
Sweeping over drying land
As the dust sprouted people and grass.
Chasing dusk with dawn and dawn, dusk,
Life from the word, and the word was “Good,”
The word from the light in the dawn.

There was light on the tree,
Hammered down with nails nine inches long,
Poured out as an offering of love
On the masses and their children,
Wrapped in cloths and lain in a tomb
And left three days before anyone came,
Three days from the light on the cross.

There was light outside the grave
That could not keep him locked inside
But admitted defeat as the boulder
Was shoved aside and the angels
Proclaimed;. the women feared
And the women rejoiced: He has risen!
Rejoiced for the light defeated the grave.

There was light in the followers
Who would not recant the savior
They knew and loved and trusted,
But kneeled down and chose not
life that was death but death
With him that was life eternal
For the light in the followers was life.

There was light in the dusk
When the trumpet sounded
And Hope rode on a white horse
Whisking away in a twinkling eye
Those who believe he would come
And washed away their tears,
For the light in the dawn was the light in the dusk.


Home to Glory

photo credit: MashrikFaiyaz Road to Heaven II via photopin (license)

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”

–Rev 21:4

I slipped into my grandpa’s room,
Eyes swollen from crying,
Fear gripping my heart,
Expecting to see a shriveled-up skeleton
With sunken eyes filled with despair.
Imagine to my surprise, I found
Just my grandpa, looking small in the bed,
Shriveled up yes, but my, there’s that same sparkle
In his eyes, and smile on his lips!

“Grandpa,” cried I, “What’s this joy I see?
How can you be so glad?
You’re dying! How can you smile?”

Grandpa laughed and, as he swung his legs to the floor,
He said, “Because there isn’t any loneliness in heaven,
And there isn’t any pain.
When I die, I’ll be free from this body of decay,
I’ll put on Glory and run to my Jesus,
And Jesus will take me up to the mansion he’s built for me,
To live where my Gladys lives and never be alone.”

And again, he cried, “Glory, child, Glory makes me glad.
Come death, as it may,
But I’m going home to glory!
I’ll be with my Jesus forever, by and by
In the place where there is no more sorrow,
and there will be no more pain,
nor any tears, and there will be no more death.
And forever I will cry Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!”

Seeing the disbelieving look in my eyes,
And knowing the doubt in my heart,
Grandpa said to me, “Bring me my walker,
I’d like to take you to see a couple friends of mine.”

When Grandpa had his walker and we were going down the hall,
He said, “Now first is Brother Larry. He was redeemed
Seven years ago from wild, riotous livin’,
But is reaping the fruits of his sin in his flesh still yet,
This is his twelfth trip to the hospital this year,
And it looks like it is gonna be his last.”

“Wow,” said I, “Now he has to be upset.”

Grandpa just smiled at me and introduced me to Larry.
Larry was wasted in the flesh as I’d expected,
But imagine my surprise, instead of fear in his eyes
And a frown etched on his face, there was the same twinkle
In the eye and smile on the lips!

“Larry,” said I, “What’s this joy I see?
How can you be so glad? You’re dying!
Why this cheerful countenance?”

And Larry cried, “Because there ain’t no devil in Heaven!
Nor is there any tempter in Glory,
When I die, I’ll go to heaven and be free from this body of sin.
I’ll run to Jesus and put on His righteousness.
Jesus will take me up to live with him in the mansion he’s built for me,
Free from the tormentor forever in Glory.”

And again, he cried, “Glory, Darlin’, Glory makes me glad.
Come death, as it may,
But I’m going home to glory!
I’ll be with my Jesus forever, by and by
In the place where there is no more sorrow,
and there will be no more pain,
nor any tears, and there will be no more death.
And forever I will cry Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!”

Now that was impressive, but Grandpa had still another friend
To introduce me to.

“Now, next we have Sister Lisa. She’s about your age.
Never had a boyfriend.
Never been kissed.
There’s a tumor in her brain,
Which is slowly snuffing out her light.”

Having not yet learned my lesson, I entered Lisa’s room
Expecting to see a pain-wracked body,
Filled with anger and hate,
Trying to mask the fear in her eyes,
This time I was still yet more surprised
To find yet again the exact same twinkle
In the eye and smile on the lips!

“Lisa,” said I, “How can you be so glad? You’re dying!
Before you’ve even had a chance to live!”
What’s this joy I see?

Lisa clapped her hands and said, “Because there ain’t no pain in Heaven!
Nor is there any Sorrow in Glory,
When I die, I’ll go to heaven and be free from this body of death,
I’ll put on my bridal gown and go meet the Bridegroom,
Jesus will be my escort to the Great Wedding Feast,
Where I will live life abundantly, forever in Glory.”

And again, she cried, “Glory, Friend, Glory makes me glad.
Come death, as it may,
But I’m going home to glory!
I’ll be with my Jesus forever, by and by
In the place where there is no more sorrow,
and there will be no more pain,
nor any tears, and there will be no more death.
And forever I will cry Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!”

This time, my heart too welled up,
Having been moved by these three testimonies,
And the Hope Grandpa and his friends had in Jesus,
I went down on my knees,
And choose this Christ who gives joy in the face of death.
So now someday I shall also sing:

Glory, child, Glory makes me glad.
Come death, as it may,
But I’m going home to glory!
I’ll be with my Jesus forever, by and by
In the place where there is no more sorrow,
and there will be no more pain,
nor any tears, and there will be no more death.
And forever I will cry Glory, Glory Hallelujah!”

—Andrea J. Graham

 


Chili Rellenos (Contains Dairy and Gluten)

Note from Andrea: while I’m swamped with adoption stuff, my friend and sometime co-author Cindy Koepp offered to share some recipes with you. Enjoy!

Quico Piedra, the star of “Hard Knocks” and Joya’s bratty cousin in “Jewel Among the Stones,”* loves chili rellenos. Here’s a recipe for them…

*episodes from Avatars of Web Surfer

You’ll need…

Big, fat peppers (Anaheim, for example)

Cheese (queso asadero or cheddar or monterrey Jack or … whichever you like)

¾ cup flour … plus a bit more

2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

Sour cream or salsa, if desired

Big toothpicks

Oil for frying

 

  1. Roast the peppers in a broiler, turning a couple times until they’re blackened all around.
  2. Put them in a covered container to cool off
  3. Meanwhile, mix eggs, flour, and baking powder to make dough. (some recipes have you add spices to the dough like cumin, cilantro, etc)
  4. Once the peppers are cool, rub off the charred skin
  5. Slit the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes
  6. Stuff the peppers with the cheese
  7. Pin them closed with toothpicks
  8. Dunk them in the batter then dredge them through the extra flour
  9. Fry them in the oil until they’re brown all around
  10. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream if you want.

 

If, however, you are like my folks who can’t do deep fried anything, you can also do this much simpler version, much more like jalapeño poppers.

You’ll need…

 

Jalapeños (or other peppers)

Cheese (any kind you like)

Sour cream or salsa

 

  1. Slice the jalapeños in half and remove the seeds and membranes
  2. Load with cheese
  3. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350
  4. Serve with sour cream or salsa

Break In

photo credit: country_boy_shane The Citadel – National City Building via photopin (license)

The street lamp lured the two young vagrants towards their only hope of warmth in the dark night. The store was closed, but a lock pick fixed that in short order.

Inside, the young man cursed. “It’s as dark in here as it is out there. Find a light.”

“How?” the shabbily dressed girl asked. “I can hardly see my hand in front of my face.”

Maybe they couldn’t. I could see just fine. Not that there was much to see, besides me, anyway. I was the main thing for sale around here. This place was generic Corporate America. No different from any other corporate headquarters, other than everyone but upper management having all gone home for the night. Even the janitor had taken off.

The young man sighed. “At least it’s warm. Let’s find what we came for already.”

Blind eyes glanced around as they turned in a slow circle, struggling to see through what to them was a dark gloomy night that the lights should have kept safely outside. The girl’s eyes landed on me, peering hard. “I think I might see something.”

No, don’t. Not this way; you’ll set off the security system.

The girl’s companion shivered. “Let’s get out of here. Something doesn’t feel right.”

The fools ran forward, towards me.

Blue sparks flew from the ceiling and zapped the youths. They didn’t even have time to scream before the ionizer had dusted them both. Gone, just like that.

That was it. No more of this.

A swift kick, and my display case shattered. I rolled out and hit the ground running. No time to mess with the hassle of going upstairs the normal way, and they’d be expecting something like that. But I knew a better way to get into upper management.

Dashing around the corner, I found the grate covering the old service elevator’s shaft. A screwdriver had the bolts off in two minutes flat. I climbed inside and shimmied up the service elevator shaft’s stainless steel rails. On the second floor, at my easy tug, the rusty service elevator doors creaked apart with a groan.

The light from the office glowed golden yellow from the open door. It was a perfect square. Three feet square.

I scrunched down and limboed through the door. Easy for me, but no one should have to jump through hoops like this, and I bypassed the normal steps to management.

At my entrance, the resident Woman in Charge, in a perfectly pressed power suit, came flying at me, red faced and flustered that some miscreant got past security. “You can’t come in here!”

I regarded the manager calmly. “Sure I can.” I pointed at the door to the owner’s office. “That’s my office.”

At the sound of my voice, my manager and her associates assumed a posture that was far more appropriate for employees in the presence of their boss. Finally, upper management had figured out I was the guy that gave them the keys in the first place—the same keys they used to lock me out and treat me like a product to market and sell.