We promised a big announcement earlier this week, and today is the day. At Divorce Ministry 4 Kids, we are super excited to announce that Ms. Linda Ranson Jacobs has agreed to contribute a weekly article to DivorceMinistry4Kids.com as a guest writer for the site. She has become a great source of information to me, a source of support and encouragement as God has taken me on this journey, and I am excited that she has agreed to share her wisdom with us. So, who is Linda Ranson Jacobs?
Linda Ranson Jacobs is a nationally known speaker and child care expert with over 30 years experience working with single parents, children and teenagers. She has been actively involved in ministering to children and their families for years. Having been both divorced and widowed, Linda was a single mom who learned firsthand the emotional and support needs of broken families. Through her surviving her own personal experiences, she developed a passion to help hurting families.
Linda Ranson Jacobs is one of the forefront leaders in the area of children and divorce. She developed and created the DivorceCare for Kids programs. DC4K is an international program for churches to use to help children of divorced parents find healing within the arms of a loving church family.
As a speaker, author, trainer, program developer and child care center owner, Linda has assisted countless families by modeling and acting on the healing love she has found in Jesus Christ.
I asked Linda a few questions that I thought I would help to introduce her to you. Here are her answers:
1. Tell us a little about yourself. What is your personal and professional background?
I have a BA in music, minor in ed from a college in Oklahoma. I have 16 hours in early childhood ed from a college in California and have countless CEU’s in early childhood, school age care and brain research.
Professionally I have been a school teacher; a children’s ministry director; a child care owner for 26 years; served as chair of the Child Care Advisory for Oklahoma (first time a woman was ever appointed to that position!); trained for the National Child Care Agency in Washington D.C.; was a national trainer for the National Child Care Association (trained over 1,000 directors and administrators in the National Administrator’s Credential); was the Single Parent Family Ministry speaker/trainer for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; served on a couple of research projects, one for the Portland State University and one for Operation Homefront H.E.R.O.E.S Care Project;
2. How did you come to be involved with ministering to children of divorce?
In 1969 I moved to California when my husband was in the Navy. I went to work for the San Diego Unified School district and I had a lot of exposure to children of divorce and single parents. This was all new to me and their behavior fascinated me. Moved back to Oklahoma in 1975 and worked as a Children’s Ministry Director and was amazed there were no children of divorce or kids from single parent families in the children’s programs. So I kind of forgot about those kids for awhile until in 1985 my own husband left me. He got a divorce and left me with an 8 year old boy and a 12 year old girl. All of a sudden children of divorce became very important in my life. The only problem was there was no information available back then. I found one program called “God Heals My Owies” for young elementary age children and “God Heals My Hurts” for older elementary age kids. The pictures were dark and pretty scary looking to me. It did have the Word but basically it was a sit down, listen and work on this workbook page kind of a program.
3. Why do you feel that the church ministering to children of divorce is such an important issue?
Because if the church doesn’t minister to them, for the most part, they will be lost to the Kingdom. And, God in His word, demands that we take care of the widows and orphans. Widows being a parent with no spouse and orphans being a child without a parent. With almost one in three children living in a single parent family, even if the parents were never married, to a child it is still the break up of their once intact family. To a child even if there are no legal papers saying there is a “divorce” it is still a divorce.
4. You wrote the curriculum for the Divorce Care 4 Kids program. Tell us a little about that program and how it ministers to children of divorce.
There are so many components to DC4K. I took everything I knew or had observed about children of divorce and I pumped it into DC4K. I ran a therapeutic child care for years and the majority of our challenging behavior kids were kids of divorce. DC4K is a biblically based Christ-centered ministry tool designed to help children heal and recover from the devastation of divorce. It is a recovery ministry for children. Usually we don’t think of children as needing a recovery program but for the child of divorce that is exactly what they need. It treats children differently than most children’s church programs. I like to say that DC4K mends the heart, heals the soul and restores the joy. It continually points children to Jesus Christ as the true source of their healing. It teaches these children that there is a heavenly Father that will never leave them or forsake them.
- When I think of “mends the hearts” I think of stitching up the gaping holes left on these kid’s hearts because of the divorce.
- When I say, “heals the soul” I think of the salve of God’s word that we apply to these children’s souls and how the kind words and unconditional love from church leaders will smooth over their souls and help shape them into a child of God.
- The words, “restores the joy” brings to mind joy, singing and praising. I can see children sitting at the foot of the throne totally enamored with and loving Jesus. Something many children of divorce haven’t experienced.
5. What are you doing now?
Currently I coach single parents. I help them find viable solutions to kid problems. Children will act out when hurt, sad, confused, lonely and angry. Their behavior becomes their voice. The parents are hurting also and for the most part just don’t have a clue as to how to help their children. It’s tough being the only parent and getting a call from the teacher at school telling you your child is having discipline problems. Who do you turn to at midnight when you finally have time to sit down and try to figure out how to handle a situation.
I do a lot of this online through www.hlp4.com; on the telephone; in person and face to face with the parent; through Facebook chatting and also I serve as the single parent expert for Dr. Scott Turansky with the National Center for Biblical Parenting.
I have also been known to coach ministers in dealing with the child of divorce in their churches. I help DC4K leaders and still train DC4K leaders. I love training. I do a great workshop on the brain and what’s happening in the brains of a child of divorce. I speak at churches about single parent families and challenging behavior kids. I do workshops and seminars for children’s church workers and leaders.
I just finished coordinating DivorceCare, GriefShare and DC4K at my church in NC. I led DC4K at my church. I’m hoping to get those programs along with Church Initiative’s “Singles & Parenting” going at a church here in Florida. I also ran two cycles of GriefShare for the Louisburg Baptist Association this past year.
I still serve as an Advisor for DC4K.
I continue to write articles for www.hlp4.com. I write a monthly single parent devotion for the Bethel Foundation in Oklahoma City. I’m just beginning to work the national Assembly of God Single’s Minister. I’ve been asked to submit articles for church leadership about single parent families and articles for single parent families also.
I serve as co-chair for the Association of Marriage and Family Ministry Single Parent Family Ministry Team.
And lastly I am currently helping my daughter’s family as she is deployed to Afghanistan. I am the live in “Nana” to three beautiful boys as they cope with deployment issues, stress and missing their mom.
6. If you could say one thing to a senior pastor or children’s minister about children of divorce, what would it be?
To the senior pastor – please, please remember the child of divorce in your sermons. When you talk about families remind yourself that even a single parent family is a family. Encourage these families to celebrate holidays. Encourage other church families to remember the divorced family. Oh wait, you said one thing. Oops!
To the children’s pastor – develop empathy for the child of divorce and hold them up to the Lord by praying for them often.
7. If you could say one thing to a child whose parents are currently going through a divorce, what would it be?
It’s not your fault. Divorce is an adult problem. You are a kid and you have a right to be a kid and not take on adult problems.
8. What is life verse (or favorite scripture)?
Isaiah 61: 1b & 3
“He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted…. (3) …. to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness 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.”
I hope to plant a large forest to the Lord by ministering to the broken hearted child of divorce.
9. What are you reading right now?
- “The Anatomy of the Soul” by Curt Thompson, M.D.;
- “The Intelligent Divorce” by Mark R. Banschick, MD;
- “A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller;
- “With You All the Way! Dealing with Deployment”
I’m a voracious reader and will read several books at once.
10. How is God working in your life these days?
Whew! He is working. Not sure where He is leading but it is definitely out of my comfort zone. Having to move from North Carolina and out of our large quite home to Florida and live in someone’s home with 3 boisterous boys is a big change. I think I’m up for this challenge and I know the Lord will do something with this experience. He always does.