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Help in Crisis, Help in Living


Debbie W. Wilson

       What do you say when your best friend finds out that she has cancer?  How can you help when a neighbor's spouse dies?

    Can a marriage remain strong when one spouse travels a great deal?  How can you build a close relationship with your children when your time at home is limited?


    PeggySue Wells and Mary Ann Froehlich  address these and other questions in What to Do When You Don't Know What to Say (Minneapolis:  Bethany House, 2000, 108 pages) and Holding Down the Fort (Minneapolis:  Bethany House, 1998, 191 pages).

      In Holding Down the Fort, Wells and Froehlich compiled accounts from families involved in the challenges of holding a family together while one spouse is frequently absent.  The contributors include Luis and Pat Palau, international evangelist, the wife of contemporary Christian musician from DC Talk Toby McKeehan, salesmen and women, military personnel, prisoners and their spouses, truck driver's wives and the Froehlichs'' and Wells' personal experiences.

      Each chapter covers one challenge:  a traveling parent with young children, prison families, teens and a traveling parent, the traveling wife, travelers who indulge addictions, military families, ministering families, workaholics and others.  Each chapter offers several anecdotal accounts from families involved in the traveling lifestyle. 

      Wells and Froehlich end the chapters with practical suggestions for the families and friends and churches to strengthen the family.  These vary from how to avoid temptation while traveling to how to deal with long-distance child discipline to offering to baby-sit for a friend whose spouse is in prison or in the military.

      Froehlich and Wells and their husbands take us inside their lives as they "open up a vein" and show from experience the frustrations and difficulties they faced.

      This is neither a book of blame nor a book of discouragement but is full of helpful suggestions by those who have traveled and those who have held down the fort.

      In What to Do When You Don't Know What to Say, the writing duo continues their approach of talking to those who have gone through it.  This small book-- at 108 pages a good afternoon's read-- is chock full of examples of help and comfort during times of illness, grief, financial challenge, divorce.

      The suggestions range from chicken soup when someone is sick to including a friend's child in family activities after a death in the family to helping someone buy a plane ticket home during a serious illness to giving a Bible marked with comforting passages.  Some of the suggestions are simple; others slap you in the head, leaving you to wonder why you never thought of that.

      By using the excerpts from the individuals themselves, Froehlich and Wells give the reader a touch of the pain and the comfort experienced.    

    They also include a section on what not to do and what not to say.  Grieving parents don't want to hear that God needed a little angel in heaven.  They don't want to hear well-meant phrases, such as, "All things work together for good" or "God won't give you more than you bear."

    Many of us instinctively know that our words can't dissolve the pain, but we don't know what to do, what to say.  What to Do When You Don't Know What to Say gives us some solutions.


Copyright 2001
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