Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: I know this isn’t an easy question, but what will it take to have peace in our world? I was raised Christian. I’m now married and we take our children, ages 7 and 9, to church every Sunday and other activities that our church offers. In addition to what they learn in Sunday school, we remind our children to always be kind and caring.

The 9-year-old overheard our neighbors talking about the various situations in the world where we are sending our soldiers. He said, “Mom, if everyone was kind, we wouldn’t have to worry about these things.” I agreed with him, but felt my answer was lacking. Would you please suggest something else I could tell him to put his mind at ease? He does worry about our soldiers and law enforcement. We include them in our bedtime prayers.

~ Concerned Mom



Dear Concerned Mom:

I’m sure you would agree these are difficult times to be a parent, especially of elementary age students. It’s also hard to address children’s issues when we are grappling with some of the same questions our self. These are truly challenging questions for children and young families.

It’s admirable that your 9-year-old is intuitive enough to recognize that “if everyone was kind, we wouldn’t have to worry about these things.” I commend you for raising your children in church where they can develop a moral compass based on the truth of God’s word. And it’s so great that they remember our soldiers and law enforcement personnel in prayer! What a good job you are doing parenting these little ones!

Unfortunately, we have to explain to our children that we live in a world that is dramatically affected by the selfish decisions of others. As adults, we understand that peace isn’t always the absence of conflict, but the assurance of God’s presence, love and care in our lives. It’s His peace that fills us and helps us remain calm as we encounter the difficulties produced by people and situations in our world. We help our children understand these truths when we live by them as well.

The Scriptures teach that God is continually with us, that His peace can fill our hearts even in the midst of conflict. As Moses told Joshua, who was about to lead the Israelites into the promised land, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

As you have conversations with your children, continue to remind them that there will always be things outside of our control that affect us. What we do have control of is how we react to those things. As they learn the Scriptures, they will discover that God is still in control and that they can allow His word to bring peace into their lives in the midst of turmoil. I would encourage you, as you daily pray with your children, to speak peace over their lives.

I would also recommend a great resource to help your children know how to respond when they face fear and uncertainty. It’s the first episode of the Christian computer-animated series Veggie Tales entitled, “Where’s God When I’m S-Scared?” The first story deals with Junior’s fears, while the second story is a retelling of the Bible story of Daniel and the Lions’ Den. As your children are continually exposed to the truth of God’s word and the accounts of His intervention in people’s lives, their faith will grow and they can learn (as we adults need to learn) to trust that He is faithful and He does have a plan for the world and their lives. Blessings for a New Year!

Pastor Randy Foster





Dear Concerned Mom,

What a wise child you have. Our world is quite blessed with these young children who are growing up with awareness and concern about the world and when the seeds are planted, as you are doing with your children about being kind and caring, there is great hope for a world of peace and love for one another. 

It takes time, one step, one breath, one thought, a shift in thinking, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, one action of kindness and caring … and there is peace. When there is turmoil, it causes people to wake up, to possibly think differently, perhaps more positively and to take action towards a better solution. That is happening, regardless of the appearances otherwise.

I get excited, proud and, honestly, relieved when I hear stories of young children standing up for world issues, using their wise voices to bring better awareness, peaceful solutions to a fear-filled world. I know there is hope for our future, and for theirs.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Peace is the most powerful weapon of mankind.” When we can take a breath and connect with compassion, kindness and caring instead of fear and “fight,” we are doing our part, individually and ultimately collectively, to create peace, not only for ourselves but also for the world. 

Keep planting those seeds, Mom. And the world will see … peace. Blessed are the children.


Laney Clevenger White,
RScp Emeritus





QUESTION: Recently my children’s father died. When my son tried to call his godmother to tell her, he found she also had passed away and he wasn’t notified. He was devastated. There had even been a service for her. He had to do a lot of digging to find this out. Although at one time we all lived in the same community, now we’re miles apart. We did stay in touch with his godmother, although infrequently. She always called him on his birthday and sang to him. We knew she didn’t have many family members left; however, we’re certain they knew about my son. We do know she had an address and phone book because she told us she never memorized phone numbers because she had her “trusty phone/address book.”

Of course, there’s nothing we can do now except put flowers on her grave. Please say something about notifying friends when a loved one passes. Thank you for sharing your life and concern.

~ Frustrated



Dear Frustrated,

Grief is messy, and it would be impossible for me to address reasons why people are not contacted upon the passing of a family matriarch. Your point, however, is well taken. For those planning a memorial, it would be proper to reach as many people as possible. Unfortunately, some people can be forgotten and this can turn messiness into a nagging hurt.

What I feel I can do is suggest ways in which unfinished grief can be transformed into a joyous, happy memory. One way is to borrow the notion of creating a private sacred space dedicated to the celebration of the departed life and relationship. In Hispanic culture it is called Día de Muertos. You can put up pictures and candles for the day to reflect upon a cherished memory. In Japan people build floating lanterns as they believe the dearly departed visit for a day. At the end of the day floating lanterns are set in water so that the spirits of loved ones can go back to their new homes. In Korean culture the festival of Chuseok is celebration with food to remember ancestors. All three celebrations are physical and visual, and participatory.

If you are part of a church that has a liturgical practice you will find a celebration named All Souls Day that takes place on Nov. 2. Many times churches hold a service to remember those whom we love and no longer see, which oftentimes holds in tension, sadness and joy. Try and come together with something once a year to remember all family members who have died so that we, who are left behind, can remember important times and shared laughter.

As time goes by grief will lessen and joy will take hold so that remembrances founded in love will become more abundant.

May God bless you on your journey.

The Rev. Anthony Keller




Dear Frustrated,

Death can bring out the best in families or the worst in families. Sometimes those who are left behind fight with each other over property and money, while others choose to give their time and care to help each other without any agenda or any inheritance.

I can hear the love and heartache running through the words of your letter. The devastation of finding out that a loved one has passed, having never been told about it, is something no one would wish to experience. And so many questions remain. Why would her remaining family not tell your son, if they did indeed know about him? Why did it take so much digging to find out about her funeral service? Was there more that you could have done to stay closer in touch with her, so that this wouldn’t have happened? I am sorry to say that those questions may never be answered.

I don’t know if you or your son have now been in touch with those family members to tell them how you feel but if, as you say, you are not close any more, that would serve no purpose except to create even more upset for all concerned. I invite you instead to accept what has happened and focus on all of the joy and love that she gave to your son, and he gave to her, over these past many years. If you believe that her spirit lives on in eternity, then you also believe that she knows how much your son loved her and that she is now at peace. Treasure each memory, continue to put flowers on her grave, and do as Jesus the Christ would do: Let go of unforgiveness and resentment towards the people who hurt you and instead pray for them to grow in compassion and understanding, and love.

Rev. Karen Mitchell