Encourage Blog2022-05-09T15:12:38+00:00

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Parenting Adult Children

BARBARANNE KELLY|CONTRIBUTOR This weekend I helped my daughter peel potatoes. We were having company for dinner, and I’d asked Kate to make her roasted garlic mashed potatoes to go along with the main dish that was braising in the oven. As we stood side-by-side at the sink, she commented on the difference in how we wielded our peelers. “I always nick a knuckle when I hold it that way.” I smiled and nodded—regardless of how she holds the peeler, she ends up with a peeled potato. Her recipe differs from mine in other ways: she melts the butter in the microwave, I drop it straight into the hot potatoes; she whisks in chopped thyme from the garden, I settle for salt and pepper; she peels the garlic cloves before roasting them, I roast the bulb whole; her choices of dairy products are richer and more generous than my own; and the cayenne pepper was a surprise. When she was finished, she served up a side dish that could have taken center stage. Kate is the second of our five children, all of whom are grown and flown, four of whom are married, and two of whom are now parents. I’m not writing on the topic of parenting adult children because I’ve figured it out, but as many writers will attest, by this exercise I may learn a lesson or two. Even the terms empty nest and grown and flown are instructive. Our adult children are no longer hatchlings who need us to meet their every need for survival. Nor are they fledglings who need us to manage the larger responsibilities of their lives. They have spread their wings and flown from our nest of parental care into the lives God has ordained for them. I’ll just share the top three lessons on my growing list, because I’m still learning, and, well, there’s a word-limit—which I’ll probably exceed anyway...

Using the DASA Committee Report in One Another Care

ANN MAREE GOUDZWAARD|CONTRIBUTOR Helen is a middle-aged woman in your congregation. She has two married children and one teenager who still lives at home. Helen and her husband, John, have been in and out of counseling with their pastor for at least 10 years, yet she continues to have difficulty articulating what exactly is wrong in their marriage. Because of your recognized leadership in the church, Helen comes to you for advice. What should she do? Counsel doesn’t seem to help. How should she respond when John tells her their problems are all in her head? Sometimes she just feels crazy. “Can you help me?” Helen asks. You’re not quite sure where to turn. In 2019, the PCA General Assembly commissioned a study committee to produce a report on domestic and sexual abuse for our denomination (DASA). The committee, consisting of seven teaching and ruling elders, as well as five “expert” (female) advisors, worked together for three years to compile a biblical basis and practical application for pastors and leaders in the PCA to reference as they encounter reports of abuse in the local church. In June 2022 the committee released their report. I served on this project and had the privilege of interviewing victims and listening to their stories. When the report released, victims and people helpers asked how to use it to help minister to women in crisis. My hope is to answer that question and inspire confidence to effectively help victims like Helen...

Gaining Perspective in the Midst of Life Transitions

MEAGHAN MAY|CONTRIBUTOR The first time my husband and I moved to Florida, we had only been married a year. We didn’t know anyone, but as optimistic Midwesterners we prepared to move to the sub-south. I quickly learned that the formerly “fixed” points of my life were not to be found in the land of lizards great and small. Moments after crossing the state line, our air conditioning went out. We spent the remaining miserable hours sticking to the vinyl U-Haul seats in standstill traffic and praying a breeze would find its way through our open windows. Hours later, we unloaded our hand-me-down furniture into temporary storage. I was sticky, weary, and overwhelmed as I stumbled down the ramp. In slow motion, I recall dropping everything to brace myself and blurting out, “I hate Florida!” Christians experience transitions in life. Some changes are expected, and others seem to come-out-of-nowhere. These transitions disorient us and leave us unsteady. We want to go back to what we know in an effort to find security, comfort, and a sense of control. But as that option eludes our grasp, God teaches us to rest in His grip. I often remind myself that I can’t count on today to look like yesterday; my comfort is that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow...

Labor Day for Caregivers

STEPHANIE HUBACH|CONTRIBUTOR Most of us think about Labor Day as a day for eating hot dogs and hamburgers, getting that last taste of fresh farmstand produce, and signifying the beginning-of-the end of summer. Where I grew up in Maryland, it also represented the last day of childhood freedom before the new school year began. The actual history of Labor Day, however, harkens back to the late nineteenth century, when organized labor groups sought recognition for the work of laborers in society during the Industrial Revolution. Today, I’d like to honor a group of laborers who are as diverse and disconnected as can be imagined, and yet contribute significantly to the health and well-being of society: caregivers. When we think of labor, our minds tend to gravitate to manual labor and workers who receive wages in the marketplace in exchange for their efforts. But there is an entire army of laborers who care for people who lack the ability to care for themselves. Caregiving is a voluntary role, borne out of the need for assistance. This care can include physical care, emotional care, spiritual care, financial care, and logistical supports. Caregivers may care for young children, people with disabilities, people with chronic illnesses, or the elderly. In other words, caregivers are the unsung heroes and the unpaid labor force of the family economic system...

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