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when a parent leaves

There is heartbreak that presses down so hard that I can hardly find breath.  I am wounded and broken over what has been taken from me.  But this heartbreak pales in comparison to watching them suffer.  They are mere children.  Of the age where one should be twirling around in daddy’s arms, longing for nothing more than a trip to the zoo or a Happy meal.  The age where nothing is wrong in the world, well as least not as they see it.

But this is the picture of a perfect world.  Void of darkness and sin.  And none of us lives in that world.

We live in the brokenness.  A place where babies die in their mothers arms.  A place where toddlers anguish in the grip of cancer.  A place where fathers abandon for green grass and little girls cry themselves to sleep.

It is here that I must chose.  Bitterness or joy.  Despair or hope.  Helplessness or victory. I must chose for their sake.  For if I refuse to chose…bitterness, despair and helplessness will consume.

Somehow I dig deep and find the strength to press on.  I look into their eyes and find motivation to face the pain.

The night was like most, two were in their beds crying out in anguish.  The oldest, feeling desperate for something better, pleaded for a song.  “Sure Baby. What song do you want to hear?” I asked.  Willing to try just about anything to stop the pain.  “Hold me together” she requests.  My heart sinks as I quickly replay the lyrics in my head.

Hello Mercy,
I have been searching for you lately
I’ve been wounded and from what I hear
You have the remedy

Can you hold me together
Can your love reach down this far
Can you hold me together
Cause without You holding my heart
I’m falling apart

I can’t help but wonder.  So I ask.  “Baby, do you like this song because it reminds you that Jesus will hold you together or because you wonder if He can?”  She answers so candidly.  “Can it be both?”

I realize the answer has come.  He will hold her together.  And it is my job to help her KNOW that.  I brush aside the doubt inside of me that ask the same questions that are in her heart.  I grab hold of the truth and let it invade.

I could scarcely do justice to what God has taught us over the past two years.  I hope that by sharing some of what He has taught me, it will encourage.  There is no formula.  Just a holy and gracious God, who is faithful to complete it.

Everyday, we will fight this fight, refusing to let despair take over. Little by little the truth speaks louder than the lies and the rawness of the pain begins to fade. 

#1 Scripture consumes our moments. We read through a chapter of the Bible each night. We sign up for a family Bible study with CBS. I buy devotionals to stick in their beds for when sleep won’t come.

I fill the walls with verses that speak truth into our hearts.

When there are tears, I pray scripture over them. When fists are flying, I pray scripture over them. We learn to pray scripture over each other in all of our moments.

When fear and doubt begin to control our behavior, we write the lies on paper and stomp them into the ground. We rip them up and put them in the trash. Then we write truths to replace them.

#2 Worship eases our pain.  Through the tears, she begs for more.  “Momma, will you sing a God song,” she asks.  I smile because I know what she’ll say.  Just a year younger than her sister, she is full of whimsy.  She dances away her tears as I sing.  You are my all in all.

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all
I’m seeking You like a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I’d be a fool
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name

We follow David’s example and praise Him even when it’s hard.  Even when the words don’t want to come.  Even when the tears won’t stop falling. Singing transforms our minds.  If our lips are praising, our minds aren’t worrying.  If our lips are praising, our hearts are filled with His joy.

But we will sing of your strength, in the morning we will sing of your love; for you are our fortress, our refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)

#3 Truth changes our hearts. I know that I can not lie to them, but it is hard.  I want to cover up the injustice and make it all right.  I want to guard their hearts from the pain. But, I must lean into Jesus and give their hearts to Him.  The truth will set them free (John 8:32).

I steer clear of the hard questions.  When will he come home?  Why did he leave? Why doesn’t he love me enough to tuck me in at night? Instead I whisper truth into their ears.  I whisper what I do know and what I can answer.

Our circumstances don’t change who God is because our God is still God! (Heb 13:8)

God is faithful to His promises. (1 Cor 1:9)

Feelings aren’t truth.  God’s word is truth. (Ps 33:4)

God hears your prayers.  Every one. (Ps 116:1)

God is working all things for our good. (Rom 8:28)

When tears fall and fists are flying, I proclaim truth over them.  Often my heart is left wondering, was that for them or for me?  It is here that I realize that although nearly 30 years of life separate us, our hearts are still the same.  Even as children, they long to be loved, held, heard, and called by name.  I help them fill the emptiness with God’s love, as nothing else can satisfy.

#4 Time holds us close. A mountain of laundry lurks in the hallways at night.  A sink full of dishes and grimy toilets haunt my peace. I must be intentional with my time.  I must remind myself that what they need more isn’t perfectly pressed dresses or a spotless kitchen sink.  I must push the demands aside for what is more precious.  Even when it means folding laundry at midnight or crawling out of bed at 5am to get the floor swept.  I get creative with my demands.  Clothes get worn straight out of the basket.  Dishes used right out of the dishwasher. Little mounds of dirt, overlooked.  I need to hold her when she cries.  Rock him when he wants to be tucked in.  I need to lay on the floor and giggle or dump them upside down like garage cans.  I can not be everything.  Even if circumstances want to force me to be.  I must be intentional.

#5 We keep record of what God wants us to remember. We pray over all things and we write it down when God answers.  If we have the money for shoes, we write it down.  If we pray for a friend’s healing, we praise God for the blessing.  I work very hard at looking for God in the moment and pointing it out to them.  I teach them the art of gratitude, as I am learning it.  We aren’t thankful for happiness. We are thankful for what we have.  For what is hard.  Because we know that God is holding our hand in the darkness.  For we know the promises.

and provide for those who grieve…
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor. Is 61:3

How do you weave God’s truth into painful situations?  Do you often find yourself feeling like your children are too young to handle the truth? How can we be intentional in hard times?



  1. says

    Good Morning Kim, I became teary eyed while reading.  You show such focus, strength, and love in the midst of a difficult circumstance… a beyond difficult.  Keep stomping on those untruths, keep holding during the crying, keep singing, keep memorizing…. keep holding God’s truth in your hearts!  You are an inspiration!  -Blessings towards you, Amy

  2. says

    I hopped over from Ann’s… 
    Although your story is poignant, it is also a beautiful display of God’s love and grace… Your passion for your children and for God is inspiring… thank you for sharing such intimate struggles and your faith through them.. 

    Only by His grace… Blessings… 

  3. Tammy says

    I am a grown woman of the children you are talking about.  Those hurts are still in my heart, and I weep reading over this.   I always wanted to blame my mother, but realize she was the strong one trying to hold everything together, trying to give us moments of normalcy and strength.     I appreciate how specific and pro-active you are in doing this, and never gave up!   It will prove to be fruitful, even into their adult years.

    Funny, as a mother of a 6 year old girl, I get flashbacks and sorry-ful emotions, especially when my husband is loving on his daughter, something I yearned for and missed out on.   And then I shake myself into reality and realize this is her right….she deserves every morsel of love given by him…that my jealousy is wrong.  

    Thank you for being inspiring!  

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your story, Tammy. You have really made me think a lot about how I might have experienced some of the same type of jealousy. Blessings to you!

  4. Jenny says

    I needed to see this today. I am a different type single parent, my husband is deployed for a year, I still face these same struggles. My kids still cry themselves to sleep, ask questions I can’t and don’t know if I should answer and I too must always be intentional with my time. Thank you for sharing your struggles so that others, like myself, can be inspired!

  5. Sarah says

    Hi Kim
    I have and am reading your pages this afternoon and I am crying. My children have gone to my husbands till Tuesday night, and I dread them going every time they go. My husband left June 15, 2011 right after my dad passed away from cancer the previous year. This has hurt 100 times worse than death. It has been a death, a death of my happy marriage, a death of dreams… My dad left me a pretty hefty inheritance from which, thank be to God, I have a paid off home now, but we were building a dream home that when it was done, eventually had to be sold because my family broke. My god has, and will restore the lost years. Hannah 7 and Caleb 4 presently have experienced their own death, but in spite of it all, they are happy. God is with us and I try to teach them that everyday. I have sat down today and begun writing out scripture for us all in the hard times.
    Anyway, I am so glad that I have come back to your blog. It is so helpful for me. Thank you

  6. Kristin says

    With what we are going through right now I try hard to explain to our daughter that it’s not her fault her daddy and I are going through this trial. I let her know that God is with us and He will see us through and that her daddy is in a lot of pain right now. There is nothing we can do for him but love him and let the Lord handle the rest, we just need to pray for him. I have seen several blessings already that have come out of this trial we are going through and I Praise God for it! I don’t know what the future holds or if my husband will leave us but I do know the Lord has it all in His hands and He will see us through. We have our Heavenly Father to hold us and comfort us when things seem to be too unbearable. Even through the tears and the excessive hormones raging through my body because of pregnancy I get up every morning and thank the Lord and praise His name. Everyday is a new day to seek His face, guidance and wisdom.

  7. Doris says

    Thank you so much! I praise God for using you to speak to me about the Single Mother journey I am in. I am encouraged and hopeful for myself, and my girls, again. Thank you for listening to God’s will for you & sharing it with us. May He continue to bless you and your family!!!

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