My husband, Michael, passed away in 1995, leaving me with three young children. Since then, I have been raising the kids to the best of my ability with the Lord’s help. Listening to FamilyLife Today on the radio has been a big part of that. I’ve been reminded that I am not alone in this wonderful, yet challenging, thing called parenting.

For the first few months after Michael’s death, all I could do was feed the kids, bathe them, keep them on a nap schedule, cuddle them, and soothe them through their bumps and bruises. We would often have the radio on, filling our home with songs of praise and worship. Slowly programs like FamilyLife Today began to register with my heart.

There were times when the content was too difficult for me to listen to due to the loss I’d suffered, but over the years, that began to subside. I really wanted to learn from Dennis and Bob [Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine are co-hosts of FamilyLife Today] so I could help my kids succeed in their own lives.

Help as a single parent

Although my family may not be the typical family with a dad and a mom, I have come to realize we are still a family. My kids are now 18, 16, and 15, and FamilyLife Today has been a great source of encouragement for me to persevere, press on, and never give up.

The relaxed, conversational format of FamilyLife Today has been easy to listen to and enjoy. I can easily identify with many of the radio guests. Sometimes I just need to laugh. Other times I need the reassurance that Jesus is still with me, that I’m not in this alone, or that I need to get my focus back where it belongs—on the Lord.

Some of my favorite programs have been the ones that show God’s goodness in the midst of tough circumstances. As the conversation turns to how the Lord has met the different guests in their struggles, I am reminded again that I have much for which to be grateful. I am blessed in His care, as we all are, when we trust in Him.

Sometimes I just need to hear an idea. From there, I ask the Lord to show me how He wants me to apply it in my home.

One idea had to do with listening to my children and really hearing them. I have since taken the kids out to a local restaurant with the intention of listening to their thoughts about how our family rules were working. I really wanted to know how they were feeling and allow them to be transparent, as long as it was respectful, without the distractions of home. That particular location now holds a special place in our hearts.

Family traditions

On one broadcast, Dennis Rainey told about his family trying to keep “thanks” in Thanksgiving. When his kids were small, every member of the Rainey family was given five kernels of corn on their plates. As they ate, each person placed a kernel of corn into a basket and told one thing that he or she was thankful for.

My family adopted this tradition with a few variations. Last year, when my children were setting the table for the Thanksgiving meal, they came back with the announcement that we had no kernels of corn! I had somehow overlooked that. The kids were determined that we would continue our annual Thanksgiving custom, however, so we used candy corn instead of real corn kernels!

Later that same weekend, I was again reminded of the importance of traditions by my oldest son. Since he was home from college, he asked about our long-time practice of cutting down a live Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving. He wanted to make sure not to schedule time with his friends if it conflicted with our expedition.

I was very tired and had thought that perhaps that year we would skip the tree farm, but I could tell that he had his heart set on it. When I suggested trying a different location, I realized how special this fun outing has been for all the kids over the years! Sometimes it’s a whole lot of work to have fun, especially with teens, but last year there was a new level of appreciation for one another and for our family traditions.

When my husband was alive, we endeavored to live one day at a time, looking for the joy and the good in that day. We tried to laugh a lot. FamilyLife Today has helped me continue to laugh and to remember that God is with me.

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