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Six Traits to Build Healthy Families

by Kay L. Meyer

Commitment

Interested in strengthening your family? Then read the five part  series on “Building Strong, Healthy Families for Christ.” It will address the six traits that help build strong, healthy families. I pray that my readers will think about these six traits, evaluate how their family is doing in each of these areas, and prayerfully work to improve those areas that they are weak in.

Family Shield Ministries strives to assist individuals and families in implementing the six traits that build strong, healthy families. Did you know that over 25 years of research has documented that when families possess the following six traits they are stronger and healthier? The six traits include: 1) Commitment, 2) Appreciation and Affection, 3) Positive Communication, 4) Time Together, 5) Spiritual Well-being, and 6) The Ability to Cope with Stress and Crises.

The research, documented in the book Fantastic Families, involved 14,000 families from all walks of life in the United States and 24 other countries.  They included families from all walks of life, from those in poverty to those who were wealthy. Some were traditional families where mom stays home and dad works. Others were single parent families, blended families, empty nesters, and extended families.

Some people look at these six traits and say, “Oh, those are easy! Our family is doing fine in all those areas!” But, wait! Is your family committed to each other even in difficult circumstances?

Let me share one story. Betty was committed to keep her family together in a difficult situation. She called to talk with me following a Family Shield radio program. During the program we had talked about prayer. She asked if I would pray for her and her husband. Then she said, “I better tell you why I need your prayers.” Betty told me she recently learned her husband of many years had had a long-term affair. I remember her saying, “He was my best friend. I just can’t get over the hurt! And I can’t stop crying. He can’t understand why I keep crying! He thinks because he told me that he is sorry and that it won’t happen again, that’s all that is necessary.”

Many women would have hired a divorce lawyer. Not Betty. She asked for our prayers. I prayed with her that day. Later we asked others to pray for her. We also shared Christian resources with her, and encouraged her to obtain Christian counseling. She was against counseling at first, but later agreed. She didn’t want a divorce. And, she needed help to get over the hurt and anger she felt toward her husband. We referred her to several Christian counselors. She began seeing one of them soon after that initial call. When Betty first spoke with me she told me, “My husband and I haven’t been inside a church in over 20 years.” During one of our early conversations I told her that God loved her and was walking with her through this challenging time. Later I had a chance to share the Law and Gospel. She and I prayed together. I asked the Lord to forgive her sins, her husband’s sins, and help her and her husband through this difficult time. I also asked her if I could refer her to a Christian congregation in her community. She said “yes.” She visited several churches near her home and found one that she began worshipping at regularly. She later began attending a Bible study at this congregation, too. Her faith grew!

It took many months, and the ability to learn to forgive, but eventually her commitment to the Lord and her marriage paid off.

It’s easy to be committed to your family when things are going smoothly, but what about when things are not going smoothly? Let’s encourage each other to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and preserver of our faith! He left His heavenly home to come into our sin-torn world. He lived a life that you and I cannot live. He was without sin. He willingly went the cross to suffer and die for you and me. God the Father laid the sins of the world upon His Son. The suffering that Jesus endured was for you and every person in your family! It was for every person that lives today! Confess your sins to Him. Accept His forgiveness! And commit your life to the Lord. The Lord will give you strength to be committed to your family, even in difficult situations. “Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God’s compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living, sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to Him” (John 12:1).

Appreciation and Affection

Last month I began a series on the six traits that build healthy families entitled, “Let’s Build Strong, Healthy Families for Christ.” We learned that the first trait of healthy families is commitment. We also learned it isn’t always easy to be committed to our families when difficult times arise. I introduced you to Betty, a woman who was committed to her husband in a very challenging circumstance. And I reminded the readers that Christ was committed to us, even before we became Christians. He suffered and died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).

Here is another Bible verse to think, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (Psa. 127).” As we discuss the six traits that build strong, healthy families for Christ it is critical that we remember to build our homes as we rely upon the Lord!

The second trait that builds strong, healthy families is appreciation and affection. How do you show appreciation to members of your family? Do you tell your spouse, children, teenagers, and adult children and grandchildren that you are proud of them? Do you praise them when you catch them doing something right? Do you encourage your children when they struggle with homework or even household chores? Do you encourage them to do the best they can? Do you show your children you appreciate and value them by attending Brownie, Girl Scout, Cub Scout, Boy Scout programs, school,  and sports activities? Are you there at these sports activities, even when if your child sits on the bench? Do you spend time together and enjoy each other’s company in and outside of the home? Do you ask them about their day and pray with and for them when things don’t go the way they would like?

How do you show affection in your family? How do you show them that you love and care about them? Do you show them unconditional love? Do you hug them? Do you tell them you love them and that you are proud of them?

Do your children see you show love and affection to your spouse? Do they hear you apologize when you do something wrong?

Jill Savage, author of My Hearts At Home, recently shared the following story with me. She said, “My husband and I got into a fight. We said things that were not loving. It was a loud argument and our five children were at home when it began so they heard us fighting. The next day when I thought all the children were gone, I called my husband at the office and apologized to him. One of my daughters heard the conversation. The next day she said, “Mom, I thought it was so neat that you called dad and said you were sorry about your fight.” She learned as I modeled how to offer forgiveness to my husband. Our children need to see us modeling our faith, as well as speaking about it.

It’s a fact. Even though we are Christians, we still sin and fail each other every day. We don’t always do what we are suppose to do. Especially in the home! Would you agree that the home is probably the most difficult place to live our faith? Do you find yourself loosing your temper with your children or spouse and saying or doing things that are unkind or sinful? Or getting angry at your husband or wife and saying inappropriate things? Give yourself time to cool off. Then remember to say, “I’m sorry–will you forgive me?”

My husband, Tjaden, grew up in a home that showed affection and has never had a problem showing his love. He regularily communicates his love in words and actions. The following is one story about how he showed affection.

Our daughter, Coreen, attended Lutheran High School South in Affton, Missouri some years ago. She was very active in several after school activities, including the Lancerettes. They performed at basketball and football teams and practiced every weekday evening after school. It was her birthday. My husband decided to surprise her and brought flowers to one of the practices. She remembers this with great affection. She told me later, “At first I was a little embarrassed, but then two of my classmates whispered to me, “Wow! I wish my dad would do something like that. You are so lucky, Coreen!” I realized quickly that I was lucky and should be proud of my dad who was willing to show his affection and love for me in this way.”

Some families show affection with hugs as they enter and leave the home. Others hear words of encouragement regularily. But, some mothers, fathers and stepparents don’t feel comfortable show affection or saying, ‘I love you.” “I appreciate you.” “Thank you.” Wherever your family is at, remember you can improve this area of your life. Start with small steps if you find appreciation and affection difficult. Write your children or wife a note and place it in their lunchbox, schoolbag or briefcase where they will find it. Say, “You are a special son. Thanks for being my son!”

It’s not easy to show appreciation and affection. It’s much easier to criticize others. Try not to criticize. It is not true that words don’t hurt us! Words do hurt us! They can do emotional damage. Don’t say things that will hurt family members. If they are doing something that you don’t like, express your feelings without losing your temper. Encourage and uplift rather than put others down or say negative things. Recognize accomplishments and good qualities in your children and spouse. Create a pleasant environment for the home. Members of your family should feel safe and secure in our conversations with each other. They should be happy to be at home.

On the other extreme, there are families that abuse their children and never show appreciation or affection. Recently on a Family Shield radio program I interviewed Diane Stelling. She came from an abusive family. She talked about what happened to her as an abused child. She hid in closets to stay away from her father when he was abusive and angry. No appreciation or affection was shown. She explained how the lack of appreciation and affection caused her to become an abuse victim in her book “Honor Thy Father and Mother.”

Diane mentioned that when people tried to hug her after growing up in an abusive family, she backed off. She wasn’t use to it, and felt very uncomfortable when people tried to hug her. Be sensitive to situations like this one. Don’t force hugs on those people whose body language tells you this is not something they feel comfortable with. Affection can be communicated through words and actions, too. If you need to improve this area of your life, pray and ask the Lord to help you. He will!

Positive Communication and Spending Time Together

“Lizzy and Seth, want to make homemade biscuits with grandpa and surprise your momma and papa when they wake up?” asked my husband on our recent vacation to Houston. “Yes, Gampa!” replied 3-year-old Lizzy. “You bet, grandpa, we want to help,” said six-year-old Seth.

Because our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren live in Houston, much of our communication with her and her family is by telephone and e-mails. But, for our 40th anniversary my husband and I visited our daughter and her family in Houston. The visit gave us many opportunities to communicate, catch up of things we had not talked about, and spend precious time together. Where did the years go? It seems like yesterday that my husband was teaching our three children how to make the Meyer homemade biscuit recipe.

This month we continue the series on the six traits of healthy families. This column focuses on positive communication and spending time together.

Positive communication involves more than just talking, it also involves listening attentively. Sometimes members of families spend time talking about things that happen every day, their feelings and emotions, and at other times, we communicate to figure out a way to address a challenge someone in the family faces.

The following is an example of problem solving through positive communication. “My 9-year-old daughter came home from school upset because another student was bullying her and calling her names, “ shared Roland. “My wife and I asked Erica a lot of questions to find out what was upsetting her. We listened carefully. Then the three of brainstormed various ways Erica might handle the situation alone and how we might do it together. Finally we agreed that she and I (her father) would go and talk to her teacher. The goal was to resolve it. During this process her mother and I discussed the fact that the other girl might not deal with it in the same way as our daughter. We asked her, ‘Erica how will you react if “Mary” gets angry at you for talking to Mrs. Johnson about this situation?’ We discussed what Matt. 18 says about resolving conflict Biblically. We also prayed. During the prayer we asked the Lord to help resolve this issue and help Erica and the other girl forgive each other for any hurts they had inflicted upon each other. We wanted our daughter to understand that her faith in Christ impacts every area of her life.”

During my conversation with this father, he shared one of his favorite prayers, “Lord I’ve messed up again. Please fix it and help me not to do it ever again.” Sounds like a prayer we can all use!

Here’s another example of using communication for problem solving as we help children grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Six-year old Matthew had a difficult time controlling his anger. When he gets angry he sometimes says inappropriate things to others. His parents work with him and help him learn how to deal with his anger appropriately. Recently he went on a family walk with his extended family, Matthew got angry with his favorite uncle because he accidentally caused him to drop his ice cream cone. Although his uncle apologized immediately Matthew still said some hurtful things.

Matthew’s parents talked to him and his uncle about what had occurred. They wanted to make sure they had all the facts. Then they gave their son time out. After a few minutes they talked to him again about what happened. They encouraged him to go and tell his uncle he was sorry. When he was ready he went and apologized to his uncle for what he had said. “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?”His uncle gave him a big hug and said, “Sure, I forgive you.”This story reminds me that God’s Word tells children to obey and honor their parents and encourages parents to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. Father’s do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4).

But, communication isn’t only used to solve problems. Communication should involve  enjoying each other’s company and spending lots of time together. One way to do this is to share stories and create positive traditions. Stories and traditions are often remembered for a lifetime. Does your family tell stories? Telling stories is one way families communicate and spend time together. It helps them understand their history. One of my favorite stories was hearing my mother tell the story of when she met my dad. Joseph Schoenberger was at a skating rink in St. Louis and met a pretty young woman named Eunice. He wanted to impress her. But it was his first time at a skating rink and every time he tried to skate he fell down! She would laugh and laugh as she told us that story. But, he persevered and learned to skate. And, eventually she allowed him to take her home. The rest is history.

Statistics related to communication show that families don’t spend much time communicating. They indicate that the average father in the United States only spends a little over 7 minutes a week communicating with his children! Couples spend 17 minutes a week communicating! Marriage and family therapist frequently pinpoint lack of communication or poor communication as a major source of family concern. Don’t allow the above statistics to cause your family problems! Take time to communicate and spend time together!

Turn off the TV and other electronic devises and eat a meal together. Begin each meal with a prayer. The following prayer is one my three-year-old granddaughter taught us while we were in Houston. “Tick, tock goes the clock…now it’s time to pray. Then sing: “God our Father, God our Father, once again, once again. We will ask your blessing. We will ask your blessing. Amen. Amen.”

During meals ask each person to tell the best thing that happened to them that day. Make sure each person gets a chance to talk. Then take a walk after dinner together. Or get into the car for a mystery trip. We took mystery trips with our children when they were young. We would tell them we were going on a mystery ride, but wouldn’t tell them where we were going. Then we’d do something they would enjoy and was inexpensive. Sometimes it was to get an ice cream, play miniature golf, bowl, a playground, or feeding the ducks at the park. While you spend time together talk about your faith in Christ! And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise (Deuronomy 6:7.)

To receive a complimentary booklet entitled: Now You’re TalkingPractical ways to effectively manage conflict, call the Family Shield’s Response Center toll-free at 1-877-317-4316.

Spiritual Well Being

How can we help families understand the importance of spiritual well-being and building your ‘house’ on the firm foundation of Christ? The importance of spiritual well-being has been documented through Fantastic Families by Dr. Nick and Nancy Stinnett and Joe and Alice Beam. It is trait five of the six traits that help build strong, healthy families. The importance of spiritual well-being is also found throughout the Old and New Testament. “For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself (Acts 2:39). And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deut. 6:6-7). Father’s do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). So, you want to help your family in this area? Where do you begin?

Make sure you have a good relationship with the Lord! You can’t help your husband, wife, children, or grandchildren if you are far from God. Your relationship with the Lord important! He loves you! He suffered in your place! He died for you! He wants you to have an abundant life. And, He rose from the dead so that you will have eternal life with Him. Recognize and admit that you are not perfect. Christ is the perfect once. Look to the Lord for forgiveness. Confess your sins, make prayer a priority, enjoy Christian fellowship, study God’s Word, and attend worship services regularly.

Be concerned about the spiritual well-being of each member of your family. Pray daily for each member. Ask the Lord to help them grow in God’s grace. Encourage them to rely upon God. Help them understand that they are saved by faith (Eph. 2:8,9), not by their good works. Live your faith in the home. Forgive each other as Christ has forgiven you. And attend church and Sunday school together.

Recently I interviewed Dr. Dick Hardel on a Family Shield radio program. We discussed “Growing Healthy Christian Families.” As the former president of Youth and Family Institute and a popular author, his career has focused on helping parents and church leaders learn to nurture and grow faith in the home. I asked, ”What can we do to help parents and families pass on faith to the next generation?” He shared the importance of implementing the Four Keys for Nurturing Faith in the Home. They include: 1) Caring conversations, 2) Family Devotions, 3) Family Service Projects; and 4) Family Rituals and Traditions.

Caring conversations involve having children and family members overhear us talking about God in our daily life and talking together about God and faith. Dick shared an example, “I was at my daughter’s and my 4 ½ year old granddaughter asked,” ‘Now, grandpa, the angels helped Jesus when he was in the Garden, didn’t they? What else do angels do, grandpa?’ I responded, “What a good question! You have obviously heard your parents having a conversation about this topic. Let’s take a walk and talk about angels some more.”

Remind parents that they don’t have to have all the answers. Just talk with your children and help them see that the Lord is important.

When caring conversations are a normal part of family life God’s presence is felt in the home. That’s faith talk. Youth and Family Institute produces many excellent resources that can help families talk about their faith. One is called Faith Talk with Children. Information about this and other resources is available at www.youthandfamilyinstitute.org.

Family Devotions are also important. Many Christian families don’t ever have devotions. Some don’t know how. Others have tried devotions and found them difficult. Hardel shared, “Families and family devotions can be messy. That is life! Life can be messy. So if little Jimmy runs and jumps during devotions and doesn’t seem to listen, that’s OK. In the middle of our messy devotions God is with us! Congregations must come along side parents and teach them how to have a devotional life in the home.

Another resource that can help families implement devotions in the home is the Youth and Family Institute Faith Chest. Directions for this wooden chest are on the website. The chest is intended to hold important paperwork and items related to our faith. But, the chest can also be used as a family worship center. Use it as the home altar. Place the Bible, candles and a colorful scarf on it. Create holy moments. Devotions should be short and age appropriate. Read a Bible story or a devotional. Act out of Bible story together. Confess your sins to one another and offer forgiveness to each other. Teach your family how to pray. Use a prayer from God’s word like the Lord’s Prayer and memorize a Bible verse together.

Family Service involves the entire family doing an activity of service to say ‘thank you’ to God. As we do family service activities we are living out our faith by doing acts of kindness for others. Do something together once a month. It doesn’t need to be a major project, simple projects are best.

What are some family service ideas and who can you help? Shovel snow for an elderly neighbor and pray for her. Travel to grandma’s and help with home repair projects and, pray as a family for those you serve. Cut your neighbor’s grass while they are on vacation and pray for them. Make a pot of soup together as a family, make a card, then deliver it together. And pray with them. Some churches organize family service projects. This is another great opportunity for family service.

Family Rituals and Traditions. Family Rituals and Traditions help show children what and who is important to you. They define who you are. In What is a Family? by Edith Scheffer the author talks about the home being a Museum of Memories. The concept is that a museum has a selection of things worth preserving. A family is to be a museum of memories—collections of carefully preserved memories. She suggests that someone in the family needs to be conscious of the fact that memories are important so they plan memories just as someone might plan a museum. This involves taking lots of pictures and organizing them. Remember that what you do today will become tomorrow’s memories and traditions!

Some years ago I presented “Family Traditions for the Home” for a Mother of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. As I prepared the program, I asked my three grown children and son-in-law to share their favorite family memory. The following are some of their memories:

“Mom would let one of the children choose the entire menu for no particular occasion. Sometimes it was a birthday or another special day, but most of the time it was just an ordinary day. It made us feel great!”

Other holidays, special time, and family gathering rituals and traditions that related to the fall months included: Raking leaves and then rolling in them, carving a pumpkin together, roasting hot dogs in the fireplace and eating them on the floor together at grandma’s, going on camping trips, and going on a hayride, then having hot chocolate and s’mores afterwards.

As we build our home on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ we will find purpose for living, freedom and peace, a confident outlook, receive support from like-minded Christians within our congregation and access to the power of God.

Manage Stress and Survive Crisis

Ruth called the Family Shield office to ask for prayer and shared, “My 41-year-old son was in a serious boating accident. Two friends died. His spleen was damaged and he is hospitalized. Would you pray for Jonathan and our family?” Less than five days later she called again. “My son is out of the hospital and doing better. But my husband has had a stroke. He’s hospitalized. Would you pray again for our family and especially for Dan?” As I hung up the phone it dawned on me…Ruth had learned how to manage stress and survive crisis.  She knew prayer was critical, knew the Lord walked with her and her family, and placed her faith and trust in God.

Of the six traits that build strong, healthy families, the last one–helping families learn to cope with stress and crisis, is the most difficult to help families implement. What can you do to help your family? How can your congregation help families in this area? This month we continue the series of the Six Traits for Healthy Families. The topic: “Manage Stress and Survive Crisis!”

Recently I invited Dr. Mark Hannemann, host of Life Revised (www.liferevised.org) and executive director of Windgate Christian Counseling (www.windgatechristiancounseling.com) and Kristen Ruttencutter, a counselor with Windgate Christian Counseling to join me on a Family Shield radio program to discuss this topic. I asked, “How would you define stress and crisis? How are they alike and how they are different? And how do we help individuals learn to manage stress and survive crisis?” Some of the following is taken from that interview.

Stress is an imbalance between the demands on the family and the ability we have to cope or meet those demands. It’s when things are out of the norm. The school year starts, or summer vacation begins. Your teenager goes off to college. Stress usually happens to one person in the family. Crisis usually happens to the entire family. It is an acute stressor that usually happens with no warning. You can’t ignore it.

Why do people who are stressed out sometimes loose control and explode in anger? Stressful cause adrenaline in our bodies to build up. The adrenaline needs to be released in appropriate ways or it may come out in an inappropriate ways like exploding in anger.

Stress and crisis can also cause medical concerns. Some of these include: fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, overeating, depression, forgetfulness, increased breathing, migraine headaches, increased heart rate, rise in blood pressure, angina, hypertension, ulcers, and diabetes. Stress can be harmful to others. People under stress can make mistakes. A mother, late for a meeting, forgets to take her 7-month-old child out of a car in the middle of the summer. The child dies.

Life is stressful. Almost anything can cause stress. Changing jobs, taking on a new project at work, moving, getting a divorce, getting children ready to start school, having a child go to college, organizing a wedding or special event, and the like. So, how do we learn to manage stress?

The first step is to assess or diagnose your stress level. Then monitor it. The first place to go for help in dealing with stress is to our family. Other resources include: the extended family, teachers, and friends. Recognize it is happening and don’t deny it. Assess the situation. Is your family arguing constantly? Sit down and talk together about your schedule and the situations that are causing the stress. If the situation is out of control consider professional counseling. Prioritize your goals and objectives and make sure the Lord and your family are priorities.

Here is an example. Your husband and father got a promotion. He always wanted this new job, but now that he has it there is constant stress and little time for his wife and children. Talk to your family. Let them know what you’re dealing with so they can support you. “This job demands more of me then I expected, and I need your help. I know as I learn the job things will get easier. But for now I really need your help. What do you need from me?” Support each other. Don’t isolate yourself and try to deal with the stress alone.

Model how to deal with stress. Allow your children to see that you ask for the Lord’s help or when a serious problem arises.

Children and stress. Remember that children worry and get stressed too. Kristin Ruttencutter shared that children often act out when they are stressed, whereas adults tend to hide the stress. ”Children might cry, start a fight, or act out in another ways that is not normal for them.  If your child is starting kindergarten, try to take them on a tour or meet the teacher before school begins. Teach them coping strategies. New experiences can be stressful. Listen to them. Comfort them and assure them that everyone will work out. Allow them to discuss their fears and concerns. Then talk about how they might handle these situations if they occur. Make sure they get enough sleep, focus on their spiritual wellness, and take time for prayer. Let them see that you do the same for yourself.”

Another stressor for parents is when they allow children to be involved in too many activities. Limit the number of activities your children can become involved in, especially if you have a large family.

Plan strategies to prevent stress. Learn to manage stress and the inevitable. Let the petty irritants and minor stresses go. Take time for yourself and your spouse. Learn to use appropriate humor in stressful situations. Laughter relieves stress. Get enough exercise. Get enough sleep. It relieves stress. Take a break and learn to relax. Take a walk and enjoy God’s creation. Enjoy pets. Be organized. Support each other by helping and communicating when you see your spouse or child is stressed out. Act as a support system for others in your family who are stressed out. Turn worries and concerns over to the Lord. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God (Phil. 4:6).  

Now let’s discuss how to survive crisis. Crisis can be the loss of a job, a serious financial problem, dealing with depression or a bi-polar disorder, a life threatening illness, a fire that destroys your home, finding yourself in an abusive relationship, or hundreds of other situations. Sometimes people make crisis plans. For instance, we always told our children what to do in case of a fire in our home. And where to meet outside if this ever happened. Schools have fire drills. It might be beneficial for families to do the same thing. But many times we just can’t plan or manage crisis. We must survive the crisis by taking one day at a time and trusting God to walk with you.

Our family has gone through crisis, too. Some years ago my husband was in a gasoline explosion. He was in intensive care for several weeks. We took one day at a time, continued to pray for healing, strengthen to endure and got through this difficult time. Another crisis occurred when my mother went in for minor surgery, got an infection and died within weeks of her surgery. Again, it took time, but our family survived this crisis. If you haven’t faced a crisis yet, you will. Pray now that the Lord will give you the ability to survive and stay close to Him.

I want to conclude with a portion of an e-mail I received from Dr. Dick Hardel. Dick tells me about his illness. Because of it he has had to change his lifestyle drastically. “By God’s grace I am living with the fact that I have Myasthenia Gravis and God will give me all the strength I need to do what God has called me to do. Wellness is not the lack of illness.  Wellness is to have God centered in Christ in every aspect of one’s life.  I am living well in Christ in the midst of this disease.” Dr. Richard Hardel. This is my prayer for you, dear readers. May you live well in Christ!