Editor’s Note: Here at Hope 4 Hurting Kids, we a pleased and excited to welcome Cindi Peeff to our team. Cindi has worked extensively with kids as a Children’s Pastor and a mom. She brings a wealth of expertise and personal experience to the table, and we are certain that our users will learn much from her. Please join us in welcoming Cindi to the team.
I was 28 years old before I ever met my biological father. I walked into work early one Saturday morning, and he was standing there. He just showed up. I had only spoken to him for the first time a few days earlier, and we hadn’t made plans to meet. I guess he was anxious to meet me, which struck me as strange given that it had taken him 28 years to even see if I existed. Let’s just say, it wasn’t fun finishing out that particular work day.
Meeting my father for the first time elicited a wide range of emotions from inside me. It was crazy! I had finally met the man that I looked like – the one my mother didn’t feel was worthy of being in my life. To be honest, I’m not sure if I was hurt, angry, nervous, or all of the above.
I found a notebook after that weekend and wrote down some thoughts. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I guess I just needed some way to try to make sense of the situation.
My Dear Child,
It’s me – your Heavenly Father. I just want you to know I know what you are going through. I collect all of your tears in a bottle, and I understand. I have felt the pain of rejection. I have suffered through the loss of my family. I have had those closest to me betray me, and I know what it is like to wish things could be different but to know that they never can be.
I know that, at times, you feel like you are all alone – like no one else in the world could ever understand what you are going through at this very moment. I know that the people closest to you have disappointed you and left you feeling empty and forlorn. I know that sometimes you see your self as broken and less than lovely.
Today, I want to remind you who you are to me. You are my masterpiece. I created you before the beginning of the world to accomplish great things for me. I put you together in your mother’s womb before your earthly parents even knew you existed, and I predestined your days on earth. You were created in my image, and I know every hair on your head. I know your thoughts. I know your feelings. I know your fears, and I know your dreams. There is nowhere you can go that I am not there. I will never leave you. I will always be there for you.
I gave up everything I had and came to live among my creation 2,000 years ago because I love you. I lived a perfect life in obedience to God because I love you. I died on the cross as an innocent man to pay the penalty you deserve because I love you, and I rose on the third day because I love you.
More than just a movie, this film is a call to action for men in our society. Every father, every single man and every boy ought to watch this movie! But, this movie isn’t just for dads and prospective dads. Anyone who works with kids should seek out this movie as it is a gripping portrayal of the impact of fatherlessness on the kids we deal with week in and week out. Whether you work with children of divorce, in children’s ministry at your church, at a school or even just spend time with a friend’s kids, this movie will encourage you to be courageous in helping kids and setting a being a good role model for them.
The focus of the movie is on dads and the role they need to play in the lives of their children, but there is an important subcontext throughout the movie and that has to do with filling the gap of fatherlessness for kids whose fathers are not present or involved in their lives. Whether it is children born to single mothers, children whose fathers have deserted them following a divorce or children whose fathers have passed away, we all have a responsibility to step up and be the hands and feet of Jesus to these fatherless kids. Rather than shying away from the responsibility of caring for these kids, the church in general, and men in particular, must stand up and take the responsibility.
This movie is really well done with twists and turns that you won’t expect. Accordingly, I want to do this review without giving away too much of the movie and thereby spoiling it for those who have not yet had a chance to see it. So, rather than summarize the entire movie myself, and potentially give away some of the plot, here is a synopsis of the movie from the Courageous website:
I thought perhaps since it is close to Easter, it might be good to encourage all of you with a different slant to part of the Easter story.
At my church a few years ago the minister, Dr. Brad Reynolds, was preaching on Mark 14. I had heard this chapter preached on many times before. You probably remember it also.
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Mary 14:3 (NIV)
It was right before Easter and I was taking notes and listening when my eyes jumped ahead and fell on one particular verse. The words seemed to jump out at me. In verse eight it says,
She did what she could.
Yesterday was January 15th. On that date, in 1944, my mother was born in Pennsylvania. In 1967, she married my Dad and became Jeanne Stocks. I was born five years later, the third of four boys. My Mom would have been 70 years old yesterday. God had other plans though, and my mother died on September 8, 1978 at the young age of 34 less than six months after my younger brother was born and two weeks after I turned six years old. I know now that she had been sick for several months leading up to her death, but at the time that never registered in my young mind.
It was, as far as I knew at the time, just like any other regular Friday. I woke up and rode the bus to my first grade class at Bass Hoover Elementary School in Stephens City, Virginia. That afternoon, I rode the bus home totally unaware of how my life was about to be forever altered. When my older brothers and I arrived home, the door was locked. That was unusual, but at six it seemed more like an adventure than a problem. We walked across the street of our quiet little neighborhood to the Miller’s house. They were an older couple who treated us like grandkids. Mr. Miller was a volunteer fireman with a model train set in his basement. He was one of my favorite people. I fondly recall all the hours I spent at the Miller’s house.
When we explained the situation, the Miller’s called my Dad at work to let him know what was going on. Years later I would find out that he knew exactly what he was going to find when he got home. My mother had relayed a story to him years earlier about someone in her family who had passed away when she was younger (it may have been her mother, but I do not recall), and she (and her sisters I believe) found the body when they got home. She had told my Dad that she had always wished that they would have, at least, locked the door so the kids couldn’t get in and find the body. When he heard from the neighbors that the door was locked, combined with knowledge of all the health issues from the preceding months, he knew what he would find when he came home. He asked that the neighbors keep us at their house for a while. As a husband myself now, and father to four kids, I can only imagine what he must have been going through.
The Miller’s were wonderful hosts, but the time seemed to drag on and on for me. It’s scary as a kid not knowing what is going on. After what seemed like an eternity, my father came and collected us and took us back over to the house. I vividly remember walking into the master bedroom and sitting on the edge of the bed with my father and my brothers. Even at six years old, the air felt very heavy. My father, no doubt reeling from the day’s events himself, calmly explained to us that our Mom was gone in the best words he could find to use. He asked if any of us had any questions. I remember asking something, but I couldn’t tell you to this day what it was.
I love working in children’s ministry. God has blessed me with the opportunity to tell young children about Him. That is one the greatest blessings He has ever bestowed on me. Leading a small group of children is one of my favorite things to do in children’s ministry. I love to talk to, interact with, disciple and to dig into the Word of God with them. I love to build relationships with them, and I believe that God has gifted me in this area. I have been privileged to experience many joyous and significant moments through my work with children. However, there have also been moments which have broken my heart and sent me to my knees in prayer.
I will never forget one particular Sunday afternoon when I was leading a group of kindergarteners and first graders. We had worked through all of the small group activities for that particular weekend, and I was taking advantage of the extra time to get them know them all a little bit better. We were talking about the usual suspects – pets, siblings, school, friends, etc. I was asking some questions to try to get them talking, and we started talking about what each of them had done that weekend. I asked the typical questions. Had they done anything fun? Did they spend the day with their Mom and Dad? Did they play with their pets?
As we went around the table, each child shared how they had spent their weekend thus far. Then, I it came time for one little girl to share what she had done that weekend:
We spent yesterday packing up the house in boxes.
Being just a little naïve, and not realizing what was coming next, I pressed a little harder,
Oh, are you moving? Where are you moving to? We’re going to miss you if you move far away.
The things we go through don’t always make sense. In the midst of our pain, it is hard to step back and ask what the purpose of it might be. Rest assured of the fact that when you are going through something difficult, God’s plan and God’s desire is to help you to grow stronger and wiser through that pain. It might not be easier to go through, but it is comforting, even in the throws of pain, to know that there is something good that can come out it.
Is your family different? Have your parents divorced? Have you done things that you are ashamed of? Did your mom leave when you were young? Did you ever know your Dad? Whatever the environment you are in, or come from, looks like, it doesn’t have to define who you are! It may explain certain things about you, but you don’t have to let it define you! Like the beautiful flower springing up from the dry cracked ground around it, you are capable of being so much more than your past. Do not lose hope! Finally, no matter where life has you, it’s important to remember that there is a brighter future out there no matter how dark things might seem.
My mother died days after I turned six years old. For six years, my father raised myself and my three brothers by himself to fulfill a promise he had made to my mother. When I was twelve, my father remarried and we plunged head first into the world of step families. At the time, it all seemed so very normal to me at the same time all the while knowing that my family was different. There were some struggles and some hard times, but that’s family. That’s my story. We all have a story, and for those of us who did not grow up in “traditional families” often have stories marked by loss, pain and longing for something we felt like we should have had.
Do you fit into any of the following categories as a kid?
If so, we want to hear your story and give you the opportunity to get your story out there. Please comment on this article below and share with others. Together, let’s share our stories (the good, the bad and the ugly) to help others in the same situation.