When You Can’t be with Your Child. Two Ways to (more than) Cope with the Pain.

Four years ago, I held this little guy in my arms and have held him few times since then. Today, I’m especially missing my children and grandchildren. 

I’m a mother of three and I have three adorable grandchildren. All live far from home. Konner, pictured here and his brother and sister live 1,548 miles from this gramma.

In this article, I’m giving you two effective tools that can help you today and can continue to be a blessing in your life whenever you need it.

Separation from children can be extra tough especially during holidays and special events. If you’re missing a son or a daughter, or perhaps both, or if missing a grandchild causes feelings of sadness, it’s okay.

Emotional lows can be a healthy way of your heart reminding you of the love that you have for your child. But being there too long is like parking in the depression zone. Stay there very long, and you can feel like there’s absolutely nothing else going on in your life of any good.

Your feelings are indicators that you are a real human being with a heart of love, but don’t stay depressed.

When you’re hurting because of the absence of someone you love, perspective isn’t the clearest. In the depression zone, you can actually begin believing that you’ll never be happy again. But there’s another zone called the life zone. Here is where you decide that you will discover and enjoy the opportunities to live fully in the life that you have in this moment of time.

As soon as you can, get on with living! Adopt an optimistic outlook. Decide to believe that you will experience joy again!

For three years, I didn’t follow the advice that I share in this article because I hadn’t learned these powerful truths yet. So, I did like many an empty nester does, I cried through lots of tissue each time one of my grown children returned to college after their visits home. In three years, there were lots of opportunities for mascara trails to run down my face.

For instance, I rejoiced, whooped it up, at the healthy births of my grandchildren, and then I cried when I realized that I wouldn’t be holding them until they were ready to crawl. To me, at the time, it seemed like that would be F.O.R.E.V.E.R! And forever is a long time to not hold your grand-babies.

Tears were common. Sound familiar?

This lasted until I learned to move into the life zone. What do I mean by this? Instead of staying sad, I thought about the positive things happening in the lives of my children and in my life. This is a great first step. But even with a perspective shift, my emotions still felt raw. To move from there into a more positive emotion, I gave myself a mini-coaching session. You can do the same. Coaching sessions involve questions to help you discover solutions and answers. I asked myself two questions. You can also ask yourself the same two questions. Doing so can help you move out of sadness or sorrow.

The questions to ask begin with Why and Can

  • The questions: Why am I feeling this way? My answer came easily. Yours might not. You might need to pray for guidance or write it out and process your emotions more than I needed to. The answer to my why is this. I love my family and I felt that I had missed something that couldn’t ever be retrieved again. Knowing what’s behind your sadness empowers you to move forward. The next thing to do is to ask a second question. Can I change the situation? If not, release it to the Lord. If so, then decide how to change it.

Discovering the root of my tears through self coaching had immediate results. I no longer went through heaps of tissue when missing my children’s special days and events. And now, disappointment may be present, but I quickly resolve it. Self-coaching really works.

Recently, a young man began weeping in front of me and then apologized. No apologies are ever needed for tears. Our feelings and emotions were created by God, and it’s totally okay to experience some tears when we’re missing the people we especially hold dear.

But we don’t want our lives to be controlled or diminished by emotions. The reality is, we are not alone. In the depression zone, it can feel like God’s further from us than planet Pluto, but this is not correct. And it can seem like nothing will ever get better. Right?

But God knows how to help grieving hearts and He has something really good that He wants to give to all who “mourn.”

The Bible portrays the Lord as being so near as to know our thoughts and Paul said that through Him, “We live and breath and have our being.”

Do you believe that the Lord is near you? How near do you think He is? We could say that He’s as close to you as your breath.

He understands the ache in your heart. You are so precious to Him that He captures your tears in a bottle. He loves you so much that His will is for you to experience something other than chronic sadness or sorrow.

 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

If you’re missing someone you love, the Lord is near to release you from the deep ache of separation. He wants to comfort your heart. It may seem like He’s distant, but in reality His thoughts of you are not far from Him…You are on His mind.

God wants you to have peace. In fact, He wants to make an exchange with you.

To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified–Isaiah 61:3

What a wonderful trade. His beauty for your ashes. His oil of joy for your mourning. His garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

The Lord God is as close to you as your breath and right now, He offers you peace, beauty, joy, and garments of praise! These are gifts that He gives because His heart of love overflows with compassion…for you.

He understands what you’re going through and I believe He truly wants you to find joy in this gorgeous day, and to celebrate in Him for the gift of parenthood.

Get free of chronic sadness and sorrow. Do some self coaching. See my personal story earlier in this article. And put the following action step into practice. It really works. Then write to me and let me know how you’re doing.

  • The action step: After asking yourself the two questions that I described earlier in this article, put this 3 minute, faith based, practice to use. It works with all sorts of emotions and situations, not just when grieving the absence of a child.

ACTION STEPS: Here is what I invite you to do. For a couple of minutes, focus your heart on the Lord. Ask Him for the wonderful exchange that He wants to make with you. Then be still, turn your attention fully on the Lord, and breath in deeply. Let His love minister to you. Breath in again and receive His peace.  Decide to place sadness into His hands and thank Him for removing it and for giving you His joy. It’s yours because He loves you. 

I celebrate you mothers and I celebrate you fathers. I praise the Lord for your lives.

It’s my sincerest prayer that you enjoy this glorious day.
You are amazing and you are loved.

Drop me a note in the comment box. I would love to hear from you.

Much love,

Pamela

I wrote this article primarily to readers with empty nests and who are separated from their living children for other reasons. I realize that some of my readers have children who have gone onto Heaven. I’m sorry for your loss. Please know that I’m in no way diminishing your experience or journey through grieving. Your sorrow is deep and may be raw. Please reach out to me if you need prayer or just need to talk. I’m here for you, Pamela

You are More Than All That — The Size of Your Body Doesn’t Define the Size of Your Worth

imac 27 wallpaper-308

photo credit apple

My daughter is wiser than her years. One day she asked me, “What defines beauty and who gets to decide who’s beautiful and who’s not?”

Since that day when Sierra demonstrated such amazing insight and compassion, I’ve viewed physical beauty in a new light. Recently, I saw an article featuring a woman who was highlighted for being especially beautiful. She was in her twenties, somewhere around 5 feet 8 inches tall, and 100-105 pounds. Makeup was plastered on her face, and her eyes were half open in a seductive pose. Is this Beauty?

Thumb through popular magazines for women, and the adds that you’ll see will frequently feature women dressed to the nines, tall and slender. Not a hair out of place. Everything about them looks perfect. We would like to look like her. And that’s the idea. But is this Beauty?

I don’t know how it is for guys, but we gals over-stress the size of everything between our heads and our toes. From Western culture, we’ve gotten the idea that our weight and dimensions are ultra important and that they effect our value. The problem is, ask even the skinny girls, very few of us are confident with our physical appearance. In other words, who among us feels pretty?  If you do, consider yourself quite special. Really.

The struggle for image is real. I don’t get gold stars for this either. Looking in the mirror, I see who I think I am. I wish I could consider myself quite special. But I miss the mark with self confidence. Not that I struggle big time with this, but there have been days when I avoided stepping a foot outside my house lest a neighbor drive by and see me looking like I felt. Thankfully, because I’m better today at being mindful of identity and value, I haven’t had an ugly day in a long time.

I’m more concerned in you being healthy than in you looking like a run way model. I think that my views represent a whole lot of women who feel the same way. I’ve been watching for a shift in the beauty industry for the last twenty years.

Health is wealth! Of course, I mean health in spirit, health in mind, and health in body. That’s true beauty and that’s true wealth.

While we’re waiting for media trends to catch up with the rest of us who are more interested in being healthy than in plastering our faces with gooey makeup and face lifts, let’s shift our attitudes about beauty and be more focused on getting healthy, and reflecting this value to younger women and girls.

You are His beloved child. That says a lot right there. He chose you. So, that settles it.  Your worth is priceless. This is just the way it is. You have immeasurable value. In this truth is beauty. You are beautiful.

Even when you’re dressed to the nines and every hair is in its place, if you’re not centered in what God says about you then you might feel like an ugly duckling when your real identity is that of a stunning and beautiful swan. 

The ugly duckling illustrates what I’m saying here so well. Nothing about the little darling was rejection-worthy. If you’re familiar with the story, then you know that the “duckling” was actually a baby swan, but he didn’t know it. His poor self-image messed with him, causing him to devalue himself and to be depressed.

Back to my daughter’s question—What defines beauty and who gets to decide who’s beautiful and who’s not?

The young model in the beauty write up was pretty, but she looked frail. The women in the popular magazine were gorgeous. Their dresses and outfits, makeup and hair radiated glamour and wealth.

Who among us has a personal makeup artist, hair designer, clothing engineer to cater to us everyday of the week? Looking like those knock out gorgeous women isn’t real. The images that we see in the media and advertising are produced. Are you produced? Are you an image to the world made up to look like someone you really aren’t? Of course not.   And neither am I.

I’m far more concerned about you as a person than I am about your body shape, hair style and clothing. I don’t care if you’re wearing expensive designer jeans–I mean, really, aren’t there far more important issues in the world than the label on our pants? I’m concerned with how you are. Are you healthy?

Let our focus be on promoting health not counterfeit beauty. Your health is wealth. Health of spirit. Health of mind. And health of body. 

For all of my sisters, the women I’ve met and those who I’ve never met, I want you to know that being skinny doesn’t add up to being gorgeous. Beauty and skinny are not the same. The size of your body doesn’t determine the size of your worth. You are more precious than anything in this world. No matter what you feel about how you look, sister you are more than all that!

Copyright @Pamela Koefoed, 2019

Alone and Single on Valentine’s Day

P1000490

This article, originally written in 2018, was one of our more popular article. Here it is to encourage you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dear Friend,

If you’re alone on Valentine’s Day then this letter is for you.

I’m here to give you something more than a pep talk, because I don’t think an inspirational message will fill the empty seat beside you. I don’t have quotes from studies to prove to you that you aren’t the only person on the planet without a wedding ring. And I’m not writing to “encourage” you with a reminder that there are countless numbers of single people in the world. After all, if you’ve been single for very long, it can seem like all of the decent single people have vanished.

I will not suggest that you think about those less fortunate than yourself…You are not getting guilted into accepting your singleness. At least, not by me.

I’ve thought of you all week and this is what I want you to know. Okay, so, it’s technically impossible to know each of you by name. But in the more general sense, you have been on mind. because I’ve been concerned about how you’re doing today.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, the day of love, and for some of you its been a tough one. I’m not going to remind you to shift your thinking from what’s missing in your life to what you do have. Changing your thoughts, by the way, to something more positive can help, but I have another suggestion, a better suggestion…and it might be something you’ve never considered.

It’s the practice of being more aware of the Lord in your life, because He can do what kind and encouraging words are incapable of doing. He’s your Savior and Lord, and He can also be your friend.

And, so….

  • If a room in your home feels empty, invite the Lord to to fill it with His Presence.
  • When need is greater than supply, invite the Lord to provide for you as a devoted spouse provides for the dearly loved.
  • On those days when you long for companionship, invite the Lord to be beside you.
  • When it’s difficult to make a decision alone, invite the Lord to be your wisdom.
  • On this Valentine’s Day, invite the Lord to make His love known to you.

And remember, you are greatly loved: John 3:16 & 1 John 3:1

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Pamela Koefoed

FOCUS Inspirational Quote & Photo

focusAre you focused?

Every successful person knows that distraction is the enemy of fulfilled goals and dreams.

Are you using time to your advantage?

What captivates your heart?

So much competes for our attention and affections. Choose well.

FOCUS.

Christmas Secret…

The tree dressed in lights, the gifts now waiting beneath it…speaks to my heart.

I’m patiently waiting for my children’s arrival. While I wait, I’ll let you in on something…

The decorating and the pre celebration work has been done with them in mind. It is for them that we hung the stockings, wrapped their gifts with special touches, even the decorations were chosen and placed with them in mind.

As I got ready for the moment when we’d enjoy supper together and open gifts, I was nearly giddy with the knowledge of how loved they would feel. Our grown kids already know that their Father and I love them, but isn’t it wonderful to express love in extraordinary ways? That’s what we’re doing today.

But here’s the scoop that I have for you. All the hard work leading into this glorious day is also for my husband and me, because our children’s joy completes our own.

Our Heavenly Father has also prepared for our home coming. Can you imagine His joy when He thinks of you someday being with Him forever?

He’s made the way. He paid the price. He gave the most expensive gift that has ever been given with you and me in mind.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but shall have everlasting life”–John 3:16

Talk about spectacular, extravagant giving… such love! That love, that exquisite, grand love is as much for you as it is or has been for anyone.

God loves you.
Merry Christmas.

Pamela Koefoed

http://www.pamelakoefoed.comchristmastree2018-jpg

 

Christmas Cookie Tradition

P1050371What’s better than baking Pecan shortbread cookies? Baking them with a friend.

Jenna is someone special in my life. I wanted to give her a gift that she’d really enjoy. Since her love language isn’t opening gifts, but is spending time together, I invited her to my home for a cookie baking marathon.

In a little under four hours, we baked three kinds of cookies, totaling 6 dozen of our all time favorites.

Before she arrived, I anticipated how much fun we’d have. I wanted our afternoon to have the kind of touches that minister to the heart. A fire crackled in the kitchen wood stove. Christmas music played from a little stereo. To complete the ambience, I plugged in the twinkling clear lights that drape over the turquoise buffet. It’s gorgeous, retro and is a focal point in my home.

P1050378When Jenna arrived, I immediately learned that Christmas music wasn’t eliciting fond memories of holidays past. Her crinkled nose and frown, a look of disgust and boredom, clued me into what she didn’t want to hear.

She let me in on her experience. I discovered that she usually loves the time tested songs that remind us of Christ’s brith, but she had listened to Christmas music at work ad nauseam where her boss has had it going all day, every day, since October. Okay, scrap the holiday tunes.

We put on some of her favorite Christian hits, and we sang, chatted up a storm, measured ingredients, creamed butter, blended, mixed, and scooped dough onto cookie trays–trays that are patinated from decades of use.

Many dozens of  happy cookie marathons were orchestrated on these trays with my children. All are now grown and married. The trays, darkened by years of use, remind me of the hours we spent making cookies during a lot of Christmases. Now counting thirty. That’s a lot of love and that’s a lot of butter.

What did Jenna and I bake?

Jenna’s favorite…snickerdoodles.

My family’s favorite…chocolate chip, coconut, walnut cookies.

And soon to be a new favorite…Amazing Pecan Shortbread cookies.

P1050375I’ve included the recipe for you and I hope you’ll give it a whirl. Maybe you’ll even use it in your own cookie baking marathon.

How’d I come up with this recipe? I transformed the traditional pecan cookie by adding almond extract and updating it with healthy ingredient choices. This new version is delicious.

These are five thumbs up, high fives, five stars all the way. I can hardly wait to serve them to my kids Christmas morning. They’re going to love them.

Amazing Pecan Shortbread Cookies 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup pecans, chopped 
  • 2 1/2 cups Kamut flour (I  like baking with Kamut flour, which is an ancient and more wholesome flour. It’s lighter than whole wheat, is loaded with nutrients, including selenium. If you prefer the whiter variety, substitute for 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour.)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature. (Salted butter means that I didn’t need to add salt. But if you like measuring salt and sprinkling it into your mix, use saltless butter and add 1/2 tsp salt.)
  • 3/4 cup honey (Or 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar.)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Turning these ingredients into amazing Pecan Shortbread cookies is quick and easy.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake at 10-12 minutes. I live at an altitude of almost 5,000 feet and baked them in my old GE double oven for 12 minutes. They were very slightly browned on the bottoms and soft in the middle. Cool before transferring them from your trays to containers. For baking ahead, they do great served from the freezer.

  1. In a large bowl, pulverize butter using an electric mixer for 1 minute or until thoroughly creamed. Add sweetener (honey OR sugar), eggs and almond extract. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. In another bowl, mix thoroughly together the flour and baking soda.
  3. Pour in flour mixture, and add the chopped pecans to the buttery mixture. Beat on medium speed just until combined.
  4. Cover dough and refrigerate for 3 hours or more. You can store dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. I usually oil my pans. But you can use parchment paper or silicon baking mats. I find that oiling them takes all of 2 minutes and clean up is easy.
  7. When the dough’s well chilled, scoop out dough with a spoon (about 1 tablespoon) and roll into balls. Using the back of a spoon, press an indentation into the tops and press a pecan half into the indention. (TIP: If you don’t have time to chill the dough, it won’t form into balls. Follow the same instructions, forming the dough into your spoon and plopping them onto your trays. This is what Jenna and I did. And they turned out great!)
  8. Bake on the center racks of your preheated oven, 10-12 minutes. Cool them completely before removing. Store in a sealed container or freeze. 

Merry Christmas!

Pamela Koefoed

To Follow me: http://www.pamelakoefeod.com, Facebook and Instagram.