Sunday, December 15, 2013

Grief During the Holidays

Loss, sadness, and grief are all part of the human condition. These experiences are unavoidable, inevitable. Around the Christmas holidays, things can be especially difficult for those persons who have lost loved ones in recent months or during the past couple of years. There are constant reminders during this special season of the ones we miss--those who have left an empty place in our hearts.

How are we to cope with our grief and sorrow during the holidays? This is a tough question to answer. But let’s first start with Jesus.

Of the Messiah, Isaiah (53:3) prophesied, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” In his days in the flesh, Jesus experienced the pain of isolation, sorrow, and grief. His human side knew all too well the inner turmoil that comes from losing a loved one to death. Upon the event of Lazarus’ death, and at the spectacle of the sorrowful sisters and mourning friends, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Yes, Christ was a man well-acquainted with loss and the accompanying sadness that ensues.

So, how can you cope when you’re still in the throes of bereavement during the holidays and the pain of loss is still so raw? Here are just a few practical ideas I hope may be of some help:

Acknowledge Your Loss Adequately to Your Own Self and to Others. People often attempt to stuff the disquieting feelings of grief by ignoring them or denying the full reality of their loss. Denial of loss and the accompanying sadness just prolongs the process of working through it. Therefore, allow yourself permission to feel sad and to experience whatever other uncomfortable emotions that may emerge. Communicate to others what you need from them to help you cope and also what you don’t need at the present. While the world seems to rush on, you are likely to find yourself seemingly stuck in your grief, left struggling with sadness and depression. You can’t just “get over it” and move on with your life as some may suggest. Also, keep in mind that everybody expresses their grief in uniquely personal ways. There is no one-size-fits-all grief process template that every individual will naturally conform to.

Honor the Memory of Your Loved One. Visit their gravesite and take flowers or even a present and speak to them. Tell them how much you still love them and miss them. When you are at home or visiting with family and friends, it’s important to be able to have open conversations about them recalling special memories. Share what it is about their presence that you miss the most. Light a candle in their memory. Hold their place at the dinner table and go around sharing what you loved about the person. Write a poem or song about them. Spend time alone with sentimental items that remind you of them. Look through old photo albums.

Pray to God for Help in Coping with Your Grief and Search the Scriptures for Comfort. God knows your pain and has not abandoned you in your bereavement. He is there to listen because He cares about you. He understands. Ask God for strength, comfort, wisdom, and peace. It’s okay to be honest with God about your feelings, even your anger regarding your loss. God is big enough to handle it. He is your loving Heavenly Father. Your “Abba” or daddy father (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). The Psalms are especially comforting and helpful (e.g., Psalm 23; 121; 136; 142; 147) as well as are several of the teachings of Jesus (e.g., John 10:1-18; John 14:1-5), and the apostles (Rom. 8).

Take an Occasional Break from the Grief and Do Something Enjoyable. Grief can be exhausting and often takes a long time to work through. It’s more like a marathon than a sprint. Therefore, it is necessary to take a break from it periodically to recoup, rest, and re-create. This is where some healthy distractions from it can be useful. Listen to some good music, take a candle-lit bath, exercise, catch a movie at the theatre, go eat with a friend at a nice restaurant, take a drive and look at the holiday lights, or just curl up and read a good novel to escape from reality for a while. Believe me, the grief will be waiting for you when you are ready to come back to it after you have regained some energy.

Participate in a Support Group and/or Speak to a Minister or Counselor. There are others in the community or surrounding communities who have gone through similar experiences within the past months. Just being able to speak about your sadness in a safe environment, where you can let your guard down and not feel the need to act strong can be freeing and cathartic. So many times, we are forced to keep our “game face” on to make it through the day if we’re working outside the home or tending to family needs at home. This makes it hard to find time to explore or express your deeper feelings about how you are doing inside.

There are many other helpful strategies, but I hope these ideas are of some benefit to you. Just remember that you’re not alone and that God loves you and cares about you.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman (by Carole Brown)

How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a novel of hope shining through the darkness with strong elements of suspense and romance. This novel was a semifinalist in the Genesis contest and is receiving raving reviews! Release date was October 21, 2013 from the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The link for the book which is on SALE NOW is:


From December 1 through December 16, the John 3:16 Marketing Network is hosting a Christmas Book Launch and The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a featured book. 

As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to: and enter the Raffle copter (toward the bottom of the page. Be sure and pick up your Kindle version of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman for $.99 at

Video link:

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:

She is part of several other blogs:
Barn Door Book Loft:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Get Involved in Volunteer Work!

If you have ever done any volunteer work before, you know how rewarding it can be. There are generally a number of nonprofit organizations in our communities that depend heavily upon the generosity, time, and energy of willing volunteers. A volunteer is someone who serves not because he or she has to or is paid to, but simply because he or she wants to!

What opportunities are there in your own community to give of yourself as a volunteer? Perhaps there is a local soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or a Meals-on-Wheels program for the elderly. How about a Boys and Girls Club, a youth residential treatment center, or a tutoring program where you could offer your know-how, resources, and energy? What about volunteering through the public school system as a tutor, the Child and Family Court system as a mentor or child advocate, or at a local nursing home? Habitat for Humanity is yet another wonderful program to get involved and provide adequate housing for those who need it.

Relay for Life (for the American Cancer Society) and Light the Night (for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) are also wonderful ways to raise important funding for cancer research. Sometimes churches provide weekly Mothers Day Out programs to give overworked and frazzled moms of little ones a much-needed break to get some time to themselves either to rest, go to the beauty parlor, or catch up on some chores without distraction.

What opportunities exist in your community where you can make a real positive impact? If you take a moment to think about it and explore the possibilities, you won’t have to look too far. Opportunities to serve in the community abound everywhere.

While working at these places and giving of your valuable time, you will be afforded many opportunities to show God’s love by providing people with services they could not obtain themselves. Moreover, working with persons who are in need has a way of opening Christians’ eyes to some of the hidden problems that exist in our society. So what are you waiting for? Go head and get involved, and make a difference! Show Christ’s heart of compassion by volunteering!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

We All Married Idiots (Interview with Elaine W. Miller)

I am delighted this week to be interviewing author Elaine W. Miller on her new book, We All Married Idiots. You will just love what she has to say! But first, here's a tidbit about Elaine.

Elaine W. Miller is a popular author and speaker known for sharing biblical insights with warmth, enthusiasm, and humor. Elaine and her husband, Dan, have been married 43 years and reside in upstate New York. Together they have led many marriage retreats and counseled numerous hurting couples. They travel to Europe annually as a pastoral care couple to missionaries in Bosnia.

Elaine is the author of three books. Her latest release, We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can is listed on Amazon's Best Selling books on Relationships. She also authored Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms and Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives.

And now for my rather enjoyable interview with Elaine . . .

Me: Hello Elaine! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! Please tell us a little about your own background and marriage experience.

Elaine: Hi Dr. Fraser! Thank you for the interview. 

My marriage has indeed been an experience! The first year I packed Dan's bags three times. Forty-three years later, I shudder thinking that I almost threw away this man I adore. We share three children, ten grandchildren, a miracle-working God, and an amazing life and ministry. My husband is an ordained minister. Together, we have led many marriage retreats and counseled numerous hurting couples. I am not a trained counselor or psychologist. I am a wife with a passion to see marriages thrive.

Me: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Elaine: We All Married Idiots was inspired by my own marriage as well as numerous couples whose pain-filled marriages seemed too much to bear. God can take a dead marriage and make it alive again. I know, because He did it to mine.

The title We All Married Idiots came years ago when Dan and I were arguing. Throwing my hands up I proclaimed, "I must have been an idiot to marry that idiot!" Bursting out laughing, I realized that proclamation made me an idiot too. Years later I learned the word idiot comes from the Greek meaning common man. Aren't we all common man or common woman? There is only one who is not common man — Jesus Christ. When we look to our spouse to fulfill needs only Christ can fulfill, then we begin thinking our spouses are idiots to tolerate instead of gifts to treasure.

Me: Who is your main target audience? How or why does your writing style connect so well with them?

Elaine: Sad statistics report there is a divorce every 13 seconds in the United States. The divorce rate for couples over age 50 has doubled in the last 20 years. My target audience is anyone married or wanting to be married. We All Married Idiots connects with people because it is short and easy to read. Someone looking for marriage help may not connect with a heavy textbook on marriage.

We All Married Idiots is filled with scripture and God's Word on marriage. After all, marriage was God's idea. Anyone can read my book and understand God's plan for husbands and wives, even if they had never opened a Bible.

Me: Have you been surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response from your readers?

Elaine: Oh my, yes! Married couples are eager to learn what God says about marriage. 

Pastors are using We All Married Idiots for pre-wedding and post-wedding counseling saying if newlyweds understand the 3 things they will never change about marriage and the 10 things they can change, the new marriage is off to a good start.

Singles are reading We All Married Idiots as a guide for all their relationships and their future marriage.

Engaged couples are loving We All Married Idiots as the book prepares them for the reality of life after the honeymoon.

Couples married over 50 years are learning new ways to get along and love their spouse.

Hurting marriages are being healed. One couple finished We All Married Idiots and immediately went to their church, talked to their Pastor,  kneeled together at the altar and prayed the prayer of commitment at the end of the book. 

Me: What are a few of the most important ideas and themes of your book that you want readers to take away from it?

Elaine: The subtitle is Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can. Couples are taught to stop concentrating on the three things they will never change in their marriage, and begin focusing on the ten things they can. Then each will esteem their mate as a gift to treasure, not an idiot to tolerate.

God never says "Examine your spouse." God does say "Examine yourself."  We All Married Idiots encourages husbands and wives to stop pointing their fingers at each other and ask God to point his finger at me and show me where I am failing as a marriage partner.

Certainly, don't turn to someone else thinking a different person will bring you more happiness. I suspect you won't be in a new marriage long before you realize, "Oh no! This person is an idiot too!"

Me: Where did you get your great sense of humor?

Elaine: Can a sense of humor be inherited? My whole family is funny. Plus, God tells us to laugh. It's good medicine.  

Me: Any last words of wisdom for those who are trying to strengthen and improve their marriages?

Elaine: I'll end with my husband's favorite scripture for marriage.

Philippians 2:3-4. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Me: Thanks, Elaine, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me and my readers and to share these great ideas. It is much appreciated!

Check out Elaine's website and blog at or connect on facebook, twitter, or pinterest at Elaine W. Miller.