Till Divorce Do Us Part

ts1With half of all marriages ending in divorce, most of you have either been directly or indirectly affected by it. In my group of friends in school, I was the only one whose parents were not divorced. I will admit, when my friends bragged about having two birthdays (and two of every holiday), I would get a little jealous. However, I didn’t realize the pain that having two of everything can cause in other aspects of their lives.

Problems in any marriage are inevitable. As much as people may try to have the “perfect marriage,” there is no such thing. However, difficult situations and problems are not always a cause for divorce. The Bible only gives one acceptable reason for divorce. Matthew 5:32: “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery…”

No matter what reason is given for a divorce, it is still difficult for all involved. Even the spouse who may have initiated the divorce may find the consequences of their actions difficult to live with. Children of the marriage may find it especially difficult to live with the sudden change in family stability. Having made no mistake, and not always understanding the reasoning behind the split, children in the home somehow end up having to bear the brunt of the situation. Children are juggled between the two parents, having to change beds, clothes, parenting styles, and homes. It is unfair, yes, but a sad reality of our society’s ever-growing demise of marriage.

ts2As Christians, we all sin. So, as children, it is important to realize that our parents may make mistakes. They may have problems in their marriage. Those problems are no reflection on the children. And, although many children find it difficult to accept the thought of their parents living separately, it is something that needs to be worked out between the parents. It will be hard at times to not get caught in the middle, going back and forth between the two. But, remember that although they may not like or love each other anymore, what they say about each other does not have to control how you feel about them. They are still your parents (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Trying to adjust can be difficult. Sometimes talking the problem out will help you deal with the situation and find a way to accept the new changes in your life. Going to a parent is usually the best advice; however, depending on the situation of the divorce, it may be best to talk to a counselor, teacher, or friend. A third party with an outside perspective of the situation may be able to offer a different way to look at the problems so that they are better understood and accepted. Above all, make sure to spend time in prayer and reading God’s Word, so you can feel the continual comfort and support from our Father who is always with us.

By Sarah Ancheta


ts1Suicide has been a topic I’ve wanted to cover for a long time. But, I chose this month for a reason. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. The number one reason for this is untreated depression (go here for more on depression). Like any death, suicide does not only affect the one who is lost, but also the family and friends of that person.

I have known several people who have committed suicide or attempted to. At times when someone feels scared, alone, and depressed their minds don’t always look for the most reasonable solution to a problem…they simply look for a way out. What these individuals don’t realize is that suicide is not a way out. It does not fix a problem, but causes new ones for those left behind.

How do I know if someone is contemplating suicide?

You won’t always know if someone is. Many times people who are suicidal are withdrawn, isolated, and have symptoms of depression. But, it is important that you talk to people who seem to be depressed. You don’t have to ask them if they are suicidal, you don’t even have to ask them about depression. But be a friend. Be someone that they will be comfortable confiding in so that if they decide to, they can share their feelings with you. Share Christ with them. I know it is hard to talk to others about Christ, but in times of need, there is no other friend they need as much as they need Him.

What do I do if someone tells me they want to kill themselves?

Always take them seriously. Don’t laugh them off or yell at them. Talk to them about how important they are to you and how bad situations do get better…it just takes time. Offer to call for help for them. Help them find a counselor, and talk to a trusted, mature Christian for advice on how to better handle the situation. Most importantly, pray with and for them. Let them know that when it seems all hope is lost, Christ is always there.

If the situation is more advanced and the person is threatening themselves right then, call 911. Do not hesitate even if the person begs you not to call for help. If the person threatens violence upon you, leave and get to a safe place before calling 911. Remember that although you want to save this person, you can’t save them if you don’t protect yourself.

Seeking Help

ts2There are many different suicide helplines across the country. Suicide.org is a great organization that helps set up suicide prevention organizations in colleges and universities across the country (if yours doesn’t already have one). Their website offers tips on what to look for if you suspect someone is suicidal and also offers a 24-hour toll free hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE. If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, please call that number, or if in immediate danger, seek help by calling 911.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

By Sarah Ancheta

Handling Stress

ts2Feeling stressed out seems inevitable at times. There are so many factors in any one person’s life that what stresses one person out, may not stress another. And since this month’s focus is on careers, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about stress. For most, the two seem to go hand in hand.

My personal experience with workplace stress is not much different from others. As many of you know from my other columns, I held steady employment from the time I was 16. After my husband and I had been married for six months, I took what was supposed to be a temporary job at a busy physician’s office. I was so excited. I looked forward to getting out of the house again and making my own money. At first, everything went smoothly. The first two weeks everyone was nice and I really enjoyed what I did. But the more things settled in, the more stress I had.

I always kept my chin up and just did the best I could with the situation I had been given. But many nights when I got home my husband seemed to receive the brunt of my aggravation and stress. I was grumpy and tired. And to add to the stress, three months after I took the job, I became pregnant with a difficult pregnancy. There were moments when my husband and I talked about me quitting my job. But I am not a quitter, and with a baby on the way, the money was needed. So, I decided it was time to disconnect myself from stress.

The best stress reliever I got was one day as I was leaving the office. It had been the most stressful day yet. I sat in my car crying after work and realized that perhaps this situation needed more than me or an office manager or a doctor. I prayed. If God wanted me to keep this job, then I needed to turn to Him to help me through it. After my prayer, I turned the music on, rolled the windows down, and drove.

That time every day allowed me to disconnect myself from my stress at work and the stress of my personal life. Even though it was only 30 minutes, there were days where I craved those 30 minutes of solace. The job was still stressful, but I know God put me there for a reason.

ts1There are many things we can do to “disconnect” from stress no matter what the stress is.

  1. Deep cleansing breaths––Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard it before: in through the nose, out through the mouth. I recommend three to five of these before continuing in a stressful situation. It just helps your heart rate slow a little so that you do not become so agitated.
  2. Music––If you are stressed out, find some good, clean music and a chair and just listen, not thinking about the stress.
  3. Take a time out––Time for yourself will allow you to re-evaluate the situation and perhaps come up with a solution that you previously overlooked.
  4. Pray––alone. Find a place where it is just you. No one will interrupt, no one will listen in. Just a place where you can talk to God and let Him know how much you need Him and His guidance and that you trust Him.

Stress can come in many different shapes or forms. Some of us get stressed out over big issues and others allow small things to stress them out. We also need to remember that, often, when we’re stressed, it’s because we’re not fully casting our cares on God, and not trusting Him to take care of us during our difficult times (Matthew 6:25-34). No matter what size our stress comes in, it is never too big or too small to ask God to help us. He may not always lead us to the answer we wanted, but He knows what is best.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

By Sarah Ancheta


ts2It’s spring, and summer is quickly approaching. For most, this is a great time of year that brings newness and excitement. But for others, it is hard to get into a good mood. From time to time we all get the “blues.” We feel sad, lonely, disappointed, or rejected. But for some, these feelings can intensify into a state of depression that is not easy to get out of. Many people believe depression is something that affects only adults, but that is not so either.

Signs and Causes of Depression

Depression can be caused by many different life factors. Death of a family member or friend, conflicts with parents, or issues with friends or school mates can factor into depression. Many times the divorce of parents or the breakup of a relationship plays a part as well.

Sometimes the cause of depression is something that is physiological. As teenagers, we have many hormone changes, body changes, or issues with self-esteem.

There are many signs associated with depression. These signs can include (but are not limited to):

  • Lack of energy
  • Very noticeable fluctuation of weight (in either direction)
  • Increased irritability or sadness, rage, hostility, or frequent crying
  • Change in sleeping habits (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Presence of suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death
  • Loss of concentration
  • Not feeling valued
  • Lack of regard to appearance and hygiene
  • Dangerous and reckless behavior

Is it a bad mood or depression?

extra6It is important to note that just because you may be sad it doesn’t mean you are suffering from depression. Depression is usually characterized by the signs listed above that last more than two weeks. Most of us will have bad moods occasionally, but they’re usually a result of our sinful nature such as selfishness or unrighteous anger. When you find yourself in a bad mood, go to God in study and prayer for help in overcoming the sin that may be causing your bad mood.

If it is simply a bad mood, we need to consider why we are in this mood. There are several things you can do when you are down to cheer yourself up.

  • Find the positive. Even if it seems like something miniscule or insufficient.
  • Pray. Find somewhere quiet, peaceful, and where you are comfortable.
  • Get outside. Look at God’s creation and think about His awesomeness and sovereignty.
  • Make yourself your favorite food and read a book or watch a movie.
  • Count your blessings. Make a list. When you are done, hopefully you’ll not only feel better but you’ll also appreciate what God has done in your life even more.
  • Exercise. Even if you don’t feel like it. Get your blood pumping (usually at least a 30-minute workout), and finish with a nice cool shower.

Treating Depression

If you or someone you know is depressed, it is important you seek help. Sometimes just talking to someone who is willing to listen can help you to refocus your attention on the most important thing––your relationship with God. If you know someone who talks about suicide or dying, don’t take it as a joke even if they are smiling. Suicide is not a joke, and many times thoughts of suicide are brought on by depression. Talk to the person and alert an adult to the situation. You never know when it may save a life! If you are unsure of what to do there are many help lines all over the country that can help. 877-YOUTHLINE (1-877-968-8454) is toll free and can help you find a solution or give advice.

Above all else, remember Jesus loves you and is always there for you. Even when we feel like nobody else cares, He does, and He never leaves us.

“…For He hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

By Sarah Ancheta


ts2For the topic for this month I decided on something that is very personal and close to my own heart. I decided to talk about the month of April. To you this may just be another month in the year. But to me it is so much more. No, my birthday isn’t this month and there are no special holidays, yet it is still incredibly important to me. The reason I love this month so much is because it is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Every day I will put on a small blue ribbon that represents my pain and my freedom. As a little girl I was abused by my father, and that is my pain; but as a growing Christian woman I have been given my freedom. There are a lot of approaches that I could take when talking about this subject, but what I’d like to do is encourage you and show by example that good can come from evil if you ask God for direction.

Today I am part of a strong, confident, and God-centered family, but we didn’t come this far on our own. It was my mother’s unbelievable strength and faith in God that helped us through. Mama never once questioned us when we first told her what was going on; she trusted us and immediately got the three of us out of that situation. Every now and then I will try to imagine how she must have felt during those difficult times. I imagine fear, confusion, anger, and hopelessness, but when I ask her what it was like she rarely mentions those emotions. She tells me with honesty that yes, sometimes she felt some of those feelings, but she was never hopeless. Instead, she drew strength and comfort from her family and her faith in God, and without their help we would not have been able to get through it all.

ts1Mama passed her strength and wisdom on to her children, and we were able to grow up and have a relationship with Christ despite our past. She taught us that we had nothing to be ashamed of and that we should never, even for a second, think that we deserved to be abused. Our past was something that was always open for discussion, not something we should hide. She helped us see that God loves us and never wanted that evil to happen to His innocent children (Matt. 18:6).

If it wasn’t for my family and their faith in God I probably wouldn’t be writing this article for you today. It is likely that I would have become the typical statistic of an abuse victim. Possibly acting out or running away and doing many things wrong. It wasn’t by luck that I became the content Christian I am today but by God’s grace and healing. It was a daily effort to reassure myself of God’s unfailing love. There was a time, not long ago, when I was constantly angry and confused about everything. I had issues trusting and seemed to doubt others’ sincerity. But one day I came upon a great chapter of the Bible that began my transformation. It changed how I saw my relationship with God and caused me to start trusting Him and looking for His permanent place in my life. Psalm 34 is the chapter that I so fondly remember.

ts3I will not include the chapter in its entirety, but will instead share my favorite verses. “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (4). “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him” (8). “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (18). These three verses are just highlights of the chapter and I sincerely urge you to read the rest of this chapter. It was so amazing the think of God as an everlasting shoulder to lean on. He allows us to give Him our burdens (Matt. 11:28). This was a turning point in my life and made me seeing everyone and everything differently. It didn’t cause me to automatically stop fearing life but it gave me the courage to begin to live. It gave me the courage to look at myself as someone deserving of love.

I hope those words touch your heart and help you to feel loved by God and know you are special in His eyes; after all, the good news is for all of us (Matt. 28:18-20). Those were the words I needed to hear to make me truly understand that God loved me. He doesn’t think I’m ugly, but beautiful. He desires my obedience as well as my happiness. I am His child and He is my Father. There are still times that I cry because of the pain I feel inside but it’s okay because now I know God is by my side. He is with me always (Matt. 28:20). I hope you realize that God wants you to feel the same way and that if you have not begun the right relationship with Him that He will pierce your heart. There is no greater comfort in this world than to know that you can always draw strength from God!

By Shelby Garrett

Abortion Part III: How does abortion affect me spiritually?

ultrasound1So far we have covered the medical and legal ramifications of abortion. Now it is time for the most important part of the discussion: what does the Bible say about abortion?

Life in the womb

The main issue that needs addressed is whether or not the life that was conceived is a living human person. God created everything, contained in three classes of life; plants, animals and people; under which category could this conceived life be classified? Plants, animals, and people all reproduce after their own kind. Since the life inside of a human womb is not a plant or animal, it obviously must be human. Most versions of the Bible do not mention the words “human” or “human being” in referencing anyone. Instead it uses “man,” “woman,” “child,” “son,” “daughter,” “baby,” and “infant.” This means the Bible refers to the unborn baby with terms that imply it is human, just as it does for other humans. (Visit The Bible and Abortions for more information.)

Genesis 25:22 speaks of Rebekah when she was carrying twins and states that the “children struggled within her.” Luke 1:41 tells of the babe in Elisabeth’s womb leaping at the sound of Mary’s voice. Luke 1:36 tells us that Elisabeth conceived a son. In Psalm 139:13-17, David praises God for forming him in his mothers womb. All of these verses talk about children who are in the womb and it speaks of them as living. So if something is living, what gives us the right to kill it? Even if the baby is living because of a sin committed by the mother or is simply an unplanned pregnancy, what right do we have to take the life of another living being? The simple answer is none. Matthew 19:18: “Jesus said, Thou shall do no murder…”


So, what about someone who had an abortion and now realizes it was wrong? You can still be forgiven. God offers forgiveness for any sin through His son when we come to Him and repent. Rom. 1:16; 6:3, 4; 10:9, 10; Mark 16:16; Acts 17:30; 2:38; 22:16. Even after you have asked for forgiveness, you may still have feelings of guilt. Although I have never had an abortion, there are many girls and women who have had one and then realize how wrong their decision was. There are young women who know it is wrong but have one because they feel pressured into having it or simply go ahead with it because they don’t want to admit their sin.

laborThere are millions of personal testimonies online written by women who have had an abortion, including one by the author Vicki Courtney. Guilt, regret and self destruction seem to be the aftermath of abortion in almost all of their stories. And most admit that until they accepted God and repented for their past, they were not able to let go of their decision.

Unplanned pregnancy

If you or a friend is struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, I encourage you to talk to a counselor and sooner rather than later, your parents. If you need more help deciding what to do, there are life-choosing options. Heartbeat International is a pro-life Christian pregnancy center and they can help with your situation. If you would like to call them, you can do so at 1-800-395-HELP. They are non-judgmental and offer a variety of services. By using their website or calling, you can find a center that is close to you.

There are many agencies out there that would be able to help and give you the guidance that you need. But no matter what guidance is given, none is as great as God’s love and commands for us, including His command to care for His children (Matthew 18:5).

By Sarah J. Ancheta

Abortion Part I: Medical Breakthrough? Or nightmare?

FootInWombAbortion has become an acceptable resolution to an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. However, as Christians it is important that we know why abortion is unacceptable and the truth about what really happens during an abortion. I am going to cover the medical, spiritual, and legal perspectives of abortion. In this month’s article, we will look at the life of the mother and discuss the baby in a strictly medical scenario.

One thing that continually surprises me is how little people think about the affects an abortion has on their own body. It is true that pregnancy can be hard on a woman’s body. It puts pressure on blood vessels, and there are several conditions that can be related to pregnancy. However, getting an abortion can put you at higher risks for complications and most importantly, it ends a child’s life.

Is a “fetus” human?

I have done quite a few reports on abortion in the past for various courses I have taken. The more research I do, the more it hurts me. I heard my child’s heartbeat when I was 6 weeks pregnant. The baby’s heartbeat usually begins beating 21 days after conception. At that point, most women don’t even know they are pregnant yet. By 10 weeks of pregnancy, a baby has developed its brain, kidneys, liver, hands, fingers, eyelids, and fingernails, and can kick (although it’s usually unable to be felt by the mother yet). Most importantly, for those who argue that a fetus is not a human, upon conception, a fetus already has all the chromosomes needed to make up a human being and is constantly multiplying its cells. For cells to multiply, it must be living, and for it to have the 23 chromosomes (which determine hair and eye color, shoe size, etc.) it has to be human. These facts only point to the unborn as being a living human being.

The Bible also recognizes unborn children. Luke 1:41: “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.” The child was recognized as a babe although it was not yet born.

For more detailed facts and information discussing the unborn, visit ChristianAnswers.net.

What happens in an abortion?

FeetOutsideWombI have seen the images of what abortion doctors call the “products of conception” of an abortion. However, because we have established that it is a baby, I will refer to it as that. The images are too graphic to share, and frankly, if I were able, I would erase the images from my memory. However, I will tell you a little about the procedure. (I am putting all of this into layman’s terms to make it easier to understand; I am in no way inflating or worsening the procedure to scare anyone—this is what really happens! For those who are faint of heart, you may want to skip the next two paragraphs.) Depending on what stage of pregnancy you are in, your doctor, and your medical history, there are several ways in which doctors go about it. In one procedure they use a long thin tube and insert it into the uterus and attach a syringe to suction the baby out of the mother. This procedure is called manual vacuum aspiration and is done up to week 7 of the pregnancy. The most widely used method of abortion is called suction curettage. In this procedure, the mother is usually given some type of anesthetic for pain. The doctor will insert metal rods to stretch the cervix open. Once open, the doctor then inserts a long tube into the uterus and connects it to a suction machine. The machine pulls the baby’s body apart and out of the uterus.

As graphic as these procedures are, partial birth abortions are even more horrific and vile.  Partial birth abortions are done between 24-36 weeks of pregnancy. During the procedure, “the cervix must be dilated using laminaria. Forceps are then introduced into the uterus to grasp the baby’s legs. The baby is delivered breech while the head remains inside the birth canal. Using blunt-tipped surgical scissors, the base of the skull is pierced and a suction catheter is inserted to extract the brain. This causes the skull to collapse and the dead baby is then fully delivered.”

Any way you look at these procedures, it is clear to me that abortion in any shape or form is murder. It kills an innocent, living human being.

(Abortion procedure information taken from pregnancycenters.org/abortion.html)

What can abortion do to the woman?

Abortion has many side effects. It can cause excessive bleeding, infection, and sepsis, damage to the uterus and uterus lining, and damage to other internal organs. On top of these side effects, having an abortion could affect future pregnancies. Women who have abortions have an increased chance of delivering prematurely. Many women who have abortions also suffer emotionally. They have feelings of guilt, anger, depression, and other symptoms which could lead to more physical ailments. There is also talk of a link between breast cancer and abortion:

“Medical experts are still researching and debating the linkage between abortion and breast cancer. Here are some important facts:

kikiCarrying your first pregnancy to full term gives protection against breast cancer.  Choosing abortion causes loss of that protection.

A number of reliable studies have concluded that there may be a link between abortion and the later development of breast cancer.

A 1994 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found: “Among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50% higher than among other women.”(http://www.pregnancycenters.org/abortion.html)

Ok, what can or should I do if I am a pregnant teen?

My advice would be to first, confess and ask God to forgive you for your sins, and repent. In this time, there is no one you need more than Him. Second, find an adult you trust. This needs to be someone who will support you. This person can be your parents, a friend, a counselor, or a teacher. This is one scenario where I STRONGLY urge you to talk to your parents as soon as possible. Procrastinating is unhealthy. You need to get medical treatment (prenatal vitamins, ultrasounds, etc.) as early as possible to ensure you and the baby are healthy.

It is important that you remember that just because you may sin, causing an unplanned pregnancy, you can still ask for and receive forgiveness. There is no reason to physically punish yourself with a harmful, unnecessary procedure or take an innocent life because of your mistake. Confess, repent, and prayerfully make a wise decision for your child, and yourself.

By Sarah Ancheta

Suspected Child Abuse: What to Do

As a young woman, one of the easiest jobs to get is babysitting. But, what if you suspect the child you are watching has been abused? What should you do?

When I was presented with this scenario, my first response was that I could not imagine being someone who suspected that was happening to a child in my care. But, I know it happens.

First, let’s look at the signs. Sometimes we tend to fear the worst. Before we accuse anyone of wrongdoing, it is important to know the signs. Of course, most of us just assume bruising and/or broken bones that are unexplained or don’t make sense are signs of abuse. However, remember to be careful when judging, because some kids really are more accident prone, and bruise more easily, than others. If you are unsure, ask a trusted adult. A teacher or guidance counselor may be very helpful, as they deal with difficult situations such as these. They are usually trained on what signs to look for and what a child’s behavior and mannerisms may tell you. Be careful to not discuss specific situations with peers, who are generally unexperienced and will be unable to help, and may start rumors that end up being inaccurate.

Remember that not all abuse is physical. Sexual and emotional abuse also affect a child negatively. Abused children are sometimes overly withdrawn, act out to hurt others because they have been hurt, suddenly act shy when they used to be very open, or play sexual games, acting out what’s been done to them. I found a good website (written for teachers on a government website) that may help you decipher whether or not you should alert someone to the situation.

Keep in mind that there is a huge difference between spanking and abuse. Spankings, in general, do not leave bruises. As a parent, a spanking is acceptable to get my child’s attention if I feel as though they could get hurt, or they disobey me (Proverbs 13:24). However, abuse is more than just the controlled discipline of the palm of the hand on a child’s hand or backside. It is also good to remember that just because a parent may “snap” at a child, it does not mean they are abusive. Sometimes parents are busy, have a lot going on, and become impatient. While the parent needs to apologize to the child, don’t mistake that for abuse. Anytime a child tells you they were “hit,” make sure you ask what happened. Sometimes when a child disobeys and is spanked, they say they were “hit.” Before accusing, make sure you get some background information on what happened.

I spoke with a few people just to see what their initial reaction would be and what they thought they would do to remedy the situation. The first response I got was that the person would want to confront the suspected abuser immediately. I strongly advise against this. Accusing someone of abuse is a very serious charge. On top of that, it puts you and the child in harm’s way by letting the parent know that you are aware of the abuse, if there is any. If it is true, they could attack you and/or the child. If it is false, it would forever damage your relationship with the family.

In a situation such as this, I recommend calling your local child protective services. No matter how you know the family or your relation to them, it is important that the family gets help. If you are unsure of how to contact your local CPS, you can check in the government section of the phone book, call a local police precinct and ask for it, or ask a parent or other trusted adult. You can also look it up online through search engines by typing “Children Protective Services” and then adding your state’s name. The greatest part about using CPS is that it allows you to remain anonymous. It will open an investigation, yet keep you from being targeted by the family as the person who alerted authorities. Again, remember that abuse is serious, and so is accusing someone of abuse. If you suspect abuse, don’t hesitate to call, as the child’s safety may be in danger, but never accuse someone of abuse, or call CPS as a joke, or to get back at someone you’re angry with. When you do contact them, they will want to know the specific signs that you are seeing. Make sure you are detailed in your description of the alleged abuse and that you let the person know you do not want to be identified.

There are many different outcomes to a situation such as this. It could range from counseling to prison, depending on the severity of the abuse. If both parents are guilty of abuse, the child will usually move in with an extended family member, or with a foster family until their parents receive the help they need in order to be better parents. By alerting someone to the abuse, you are doing the right thing––no matter what the outcome is. Although it will be very hard to do, know that if you don’t seek help for the children, you will always remember the problem and later in life you may wish you would have done things differently. Even if it means that child goes into the state’s care and the parent is disciplined, you just may have saved that child from a lifetime of more abuse, and they will be better off because of it.

Matthew 19:14: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

By Sarah Ancheta

Lost Loved Ones

Losing a loved one is always hard, but dealing with it during the holidays can be especially difficult. Since the holidays bring families together, many times that seems to be when someone is missed the most. Unfortunately, I have lost both of my grandfathers. Both were very strong, loving, Christian men.

When it comes to the holidays, though, my Grandpa Reaves seems to be the most influential. My Papaw Reaves was a minister, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a farmer. I really don’t think there was very much he couldn’t do. Papaw loved the holidays. He always loved it when we were all together, but at Christmas he seemed to be even more cheerful. I will never forget him coming in with the video camera to tape everything that happened. I remember the time he convinced all the grandkids that we saw Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer out his back door so we had to go to bed or Santa would not leave presents.

Papaw died of cancer in July of 1999. I was 16. I know every day that part of him is in me. My memories of him will live on through me and my son and hopefully for generations to come. I was very close to my grandparents. Growing up, my sister and I spent almost every summer at their house. We went on vacations with them, and to this day my Grandma is one of my biggest fans. I don’t know where I would be without her love and support. But when Papaw died, it seemed as though for a few days, nothing mattered.

At first it seemed so surreal. We lived rather far away and my mom had flown to Missouri to be with my grandparents because we knew Papaw was ill. Unfortunately, Papaw passed away before her plane landed. The next week was all slow motion. I remember packing to drive the long distance to Missouri. I know I was at the viewing and the funeral, but I could not tell you what was said, or who was there.

My sister and I stayed for a week with my grandma after everyone else had gone home. It was so weird being in the house without him there. Seeing the pain on my grandma’s face and walking through the yard where he used to garden just didn’t seem fair. He was only 65. There was so much I wanted him to see. I wanted him to see me get married and have a family. I wanted him to do for my children the things he had so wonderfully done for me.

As time passed, I slowly began to realize that all I had thought about was how much his death was affecting my life. What about my mom, who had just lost her father, or my grandma, who had lost her husband? Being a wife now, I can’t imagine the pain she was going through. I know when we stayed with her after he died, there must have been so many times when she just wanted to stay in bed and cry, but didn’t because we were there.

Some people are able to cope with a loss by talking about it. Find a friend, a parent, or even a school counselor if you feel you need to talk. Remember the good things about that person. Focus on how you can show others the same love that person showed you. Look through old pictures when you need to. Shortly after Papaw passed, my grandma gave me a picture of him on his tractor help me remember him.

When my paternal grandfather died in June of this year after an extended illness, a member of the family told me that she had already forgotten some of the things she loved about him––his smell, his laugh. That can happen. I know I have forgotten things about Papaw Reaves, but then I will pass someone who smells like him and I will remember his scent. Just remember that your memories don’t have to be forced. Little things that you loved about them may seem forgotten but sometimes something will happen, a gesture or smell, and you will think of that person.

One of the difficult parts for some is talking to people who have recently lost a loved one. What should you say? Remember that everyone is different. You don’t have to say anything. Sometimes just a card saying that you are thinking and praying for them means a lot. Perhaps if it is someone who is widowed, spend time with them.

Grieving is a process, but it is a different process for each of us. Some of us cry, some get angry, and some just want to be alone. While I can’t tell you how you should grieve, I can tell you that God will make your grieving easier. He alone can heal that pain and give you peace to accept His will. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

By Sarah J. Ancheta

Being Thankful through Trials

There are many things I am thankful for. I am thankful God has blessed me with a loving husband, a beautiful baby boy, a warm place to live, and a pillow to rest my head. I am also thankful to be healthy. I am very aware that there are many people who do not have that to be thankful for.

Some people have severe physical or mental disabilities that can affect not only them, but their families as well. Whether the disabilities have been there since birth or were due to an accident or someone else’s actions, does their disability mean they cannot be thankful?

We have all heard stories of someone who has overcome great obstacles. Someone who has beat the odds and survived hard situations. My father is one of those people. I know that without God, my dad would not be alive now. He hurt his back at work when I was twelve. Since then, he has had over forty procedures on his back. He also developed many other health issues that have limited his day to day life. As I write this, he is facing the possibility of yet another surgery. He survived meningitis, and at that time was told that if we had gotten him to the hospital any later than we did, he would not have survived. My dad has lived through all of that. We all know that there is a reason he is alive today. God has a plan for him.

Although my dad had to deal with all of the physical pain and stress of trying to raise a family while disabled, his illness affected the rest of us too. Because my mom worked two jobs to try and make ends meet, my sister and I lost a physically active father and our stay-at-home mother, all in less than a month. As children, we watched our dad age ten years in less than a year. Our family faced many struggles that average families do not have to face––more than I am ready to relive. However, every day I am thankful that we faced all of it. I believe that by facing those problems and overcoming obstacles, it made me grateful for what I have. I did not have typical teen years. It seems these days most teens are given a car and an allowance. I worked after school everyday. I paid for my first car and the insurance every month for it. I bought my own clothes, helped buy food and made my own spending money. I am not going to say my parents did not do anything for me or that they didn’t take care of me, but they did not have the funds to give me the things that many teenagers take for granted. I don’t want pity for my childhood. I am proud of it.

You see, I know I could have lost my father during any of those surgeries. Or he could have been hurt worse than he was. When faced with situations that seem bad, I always try to look to the positive. No, my childhood was not easy. But I had two parents who loved me and would have done anything for me. I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back, a warm bed, and food in my stomach. It pains me to know that there were times in my childhood that I did not appreciate all of the sacrifices that they made for me.

I know there are probably some of you who have a parent or a loved one who has some sort of disability or health problem. I know it is hard to watch a loved one go through that. It is also hard as a teenager to deal with that along with all the other stresses that you face. However, no matter what you face, be thankful. Things could always be much worse. As long as God is by your side, know that no matter the outcome, you will be okay. You may not have a lot of money or fancy things, but one day, you will have riches beyond any that are here on earth.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

By Sarah J. Ancheta