Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You Should Celebrate National Adoption Month Because If You Are a Christian, You Have Been Adopted

November is National Adoption Month. There’s a great cost to adoption, and I’m not just referring to the economic cost. There are fees to pay and medical bills to pay, that’s true. I cannot tell you how many times I cried before each adoption. I cannot tell you how many times I cried out to God to just show me the way to my babies. I cannot tell you how my gut would wrench when a birth mom would choose another set of adoptive parents, but God paid the ultimate price. He was willing to sacrifice is His own biological Son in order to pay the debt of all mankind, and yet many refuse Him, reject what He paid in order to fend for themselves.

            There are some children that once they are adopted there’s still a battle. They struggle to leave their old life behind even though they so desperately want a loving family. They fight against the morals they are taught in their adoptive homes, leaning on their own flawed understanding of how life is supposed to be lived. They struggle to acknowledge the role of their adoptive parents, and this is heart breaking for adoptive parents because all we want to do is love them. God’s children are the same way. Some accept Him as their Savior but challenge Him every step of the way showing Him that they don’t trust His way for their lives.

            There are some babies who have trouble bonding with their adoptive mommas. This is very common, and heart-wrenching for those sweet mommas who want desperately to love those babies. But these babies have already lost everything they know, and it’s hard to trust again. These sweet mommas have to constantly prove themselves over and over to these sweet babies that they will not leave them or forsake them in order to build that trust. The relationship comes but over time, sometimes a long time. Does this sound like your relationship with God? Is He having to prove Himself to you over and over again? He’s faithful that way. He promises never to leave nor forsake you. He doesn’t break His promises.

            So you see, earthly adoption so parallels the Father’s love for us, His adopted kids. He does this so we might become co-heirs with Jesus. It’s a struggle that He so willing accepts for each us. He pursues each of us and takes our lack of trust and molds it into a relationship if we will allow Him and if we will put in the work.

            Adoption isn’t for everyone. It is a hard road. I never ever want to see another birth mom have to place her baby in someone else’s arm and then have to leave her there. Gut-wrenching. Heart-wrenching. Sobbing and weeping. There isn’t a dry eye around. But the best thing we can do is to lay our children down in the arms of the One who will see and has seen every day that is laid out before them, the One who has every hair on their head numbered. And that is where we need to leave them. When God adopts us, He loves us so much because of what He had to do to become your Father, what He was willing to sacrifice. You can rest assured that He is going to do what is in your best interest. You won’t always understand His ways or His method, and that’s because you are His child. You don’t see the whole picture. This is where that whole bonding and trust comes into play.

            When a child is born, the birth parents give the child a name, and it’s the name that goes on a birth certificate. When the child is placed with the adoptive parents, the adoptive parents give the child the name for a lifetime. My daughter’s birth family gave her a beautiful name, but it isn’t the name we chose for her. Her birth parents put careful thought into the name, as did we.  But she isn’t known by the name first given her. She is known by the name we gave her as her adoptive parents. Are you seeing parallel yet? We trade in our name as sinner for redeemed, our life without hope for a future with endless hope. She is known by the name her adoptive parents gave her. Are you known as the name that God gave you? Christian.

            Adoptions are also sealed and finalized. With both of our children, we had to go to court, stand before a judge, answer questions, and swear to love and take care of our children. They carry our last name. It doesn’t matter whether they look like us or not. It’s their name that matters. God sealed our adoption in Him and gave us His name so that one day when He calls us home, we will know all the privileges in full of bearing His name.

            Adoption isn’t for everyone. There are some children who refuse to be adopted believe it or not. There are some children who choose to live on the streets instead of living under a roof with a family where rules are enforced for their safety. It’s sad, but true. And it’s true with God. There are those who will reject Him unwilling to trust Him, unwilling to try to build a relationship, unwilling to see the sacrifice God made for them, and they will never live with Him in heaven because they refused to be adopted by Him.

            If God has called you to adopt, I encourage you to pursue, pursue with all your heart. When the journey gets long, know that the reward is worth the struggle. When your heart is bruised and the tears fall uncontrollably, cling to the fact that God gives us the desires of our hearts when He places those desires in our heart. If God has called you to adopt, you love those babies God delivers to you. You be faithful to tell those babies the miracle of how God brought you together to make a family. If God calls you to adopt, journal because there will be times when it seems as if God is silent, and it will feel so lonely. This is the time you go back and read that journal to see how God has brought this far. And regardless of what people say, you keep your eyes on God. He will reveal to you where you are to go and what you are to do. Remember, He’s having to work it out for your good, as well as, the baby’s good. And remember to breathe and give thanks. It’s a journey. There’s a destination. And this is just a season. Seasons come and go, and the next season of parenthood may just be beyond the horizon.



Monday, November 25, 2013

November is National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, and I would be remiss if I did not bring this to your attention. There are many children around this nation who need loving homes. Adoptions is not for the faint of heart nor for those who quit when things get difficult because that is what adoption is, but I can think of no other thing on the face of the earth that represents our Father’s love for us any better.

The reason adoption is so dear to my heart is because it is through adoption that I was finally able to claim the role as mother. It was something I could not do for myself, and yet God placed the desire to be a mom in my heart. I never had any great desire to give birth. I’ll just put that out there. Having kidney stones at an early age cured me of desiring something that would cause that kind of pain again. LOL. I believe that God gives us things in our lives or allows things in our lives to shape us, our thoughts and desires, so it’s easier to follow His will at times.

My husband and I went through fertility treatments which is something I would never wish on my worst enemy. The hormonal roller coaster, the weird things people would tell you, and every month grieving for a baby that would not be makes for a grueling period in one’s life. We had a failed private adoption. I became angry at God and depressed, but God was always faithful. We found an adoption agency we could work with, and we began talking to birth parents. Before you judge a birth parent, STOP! You don’t know the road they’ve traveled, and unless you want to be judged by the same harshness, I suggest you thank God for His grace, His blood and His mercy on your own life, and that you’ve never found yourself in her shoes having to make a sacrificial decision. Just sayin’. I’m a bit protective of birth moms.

Not everyone on this planet has the courage to be birth parents, and there are some people who have no rights to be parents and should’ve placed their babies for adoption. And by the way, those who choose to place their babies for adoption don’t “GIVE UP” their babies in adoption. I really hate those two words. Those who choose to be birth parents these days choose the family who will raise their baby. Often times, they talk to the adoptive parents and develop some sort of relationship. IT.IS.NOT.EASY. You don’t just GIVE UP a baby that you carry for nine months.

Three months after we went to an orientation, I was in the delivery room when our daughter took her first breath. Yes, that was something for which God had me praying. I journalled the story of both of our adoptions because I want our children to know that it isn’t by mistake that they are now our kids. It’s because God designed it to be so. He wasn’t caught off-guard when their birth moms became pregnant. He wasn’t surprised when the birth moms came to a difficult decision. He was with them in those dark hours as well as with us. My children are a direct result of prayer, praying for what God placed as a desire in my heart.

Every desire He ever put into my heart, He answered.

            I was called to adopt babies, but there are some who are called to adopt foster kids. I applaud these people. Some are anxiously awaiting a foster child now. Some are on pins and needles waiting to adopt their foster kids, awaiting for birth parents’ rights to be terminated. Loving and raising foster kids comes with a whole different set of challenges and rewards.

            One thing we have in common is the pursuit. For those who God has placed the desire to adopt in your heart, you know it’s a journey. It’s a journey to find the child God has chosen for you. You don’t want someone else’s child. You want the one that God has chosen for you. Waiting can be so difficult. Opening every door watching them close door after door until one is left. The frustration that comes with the adoption process. As adoptive parents we are tested and tried before we even become parents. We are scrutinized to see if we are for real, if we have room, if we can provide, if we can make a way for the child/children we are to adopt.

            Here’s the thing, God knows how it feels to be an adoptive parent. He pursues us. He wants you. He’s chosen you to adopt. He’s been waiting to adopt you. Every wall that you put up, every problem that keeps you from accepting Him, every hurtle that had to be knocked down so He could adopt you, HE DID. You tested Him. You tried Him, and He didn’t run.

            I learned so much during each journey to adopting our children who are bright and funny and beautiful. To genetically not be our children, they are SOOOOO our children. Things that could not be manufactured by environment have shown up in our children that are the same or similar to my husband and I …down to our son not having an adult tooth in the same location as myself. That is God. Just one of the many ways we are able to show our children that God chose us to be their adoptive parents.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'll Trade You a Rock by Wendy Blackwell

{I frequently surf blogs, Pinterest and Facebook for ideas for homeschooling, parenting, life and more!! I am grateful to the women (and men) that choose to share what works, what doesn't and a laugh at yourself anecdote that helps else all get through life. To that end, I've decided to share a few things along the way….}
Just a bit past lunch time and we've already been deep into magical dungeons, searching for golden tickets and saving the world with an underwear clad superhero.
And while our sweet peanuts hang on every word and stretch their imaginations to keep up with the adventure, it all started with a rock.
Not even really a rock, more of a pebble. Buy ‘em from the dollar store in a bag “river rocks” kinda things.
Last year when we bought our children Nintendo DS’s for their birthday it quickly became apparent that we had to find a balance between games and well everything else in life. After trying a couple of systems, hunky hubby and I hit on something that we thought was genius.
Turns out. It was.
And, it has turned out better than we ever could have planned or imagined. {don’t you love when you stumble across some incredible parenting method?!?!?! Oh, let’s be honest, much of parenting is the stumble method.}
The concept is simple.
15 minutes of reading = one rock
One rock = 15 minutes of gaming time
The more you read, the more you play.
Each kid has their own jar. We put in rocks and take out rocks depending on reading/playing time.

Here’s where the couldn’t-have-planned-this-part comes in.
Our kids became obsessed with earning rocks. Piling up hours and hours of playing time. {time that resets every weekend} And how do you earn playing time?? By reading.
Our already bookworm daughter used her love of books to bank time in case she felt like playing. Our not such a bookworm, learning how to read son, wasn’t so keen on the system at first. And then, enter “Captain Underpants” in a quest to light his fire for reading (or being read to), I began searching out books that target little boys. Imagine a set of books with wedgie, underwear, booger, poopie pants and more as the center of titles, plot lines and stories. {lots of moms seem to cringe at the mere thought of the books, but if it gets them reading?!?!?} Our little man was hooked. And the more time we spent in the pages of Captain Underpants the more time he wanted to spend reading.
We now spend a couple of hours a day reading together, all of us.
Hunky hubby and I have toyed with the idea of expanding our system. 1 rock = 15 minutes of media time (video games, ipads, computer, tv, you name it). While we are still working out the kinks.
In the meantime, we keep reading. The sound of pebbles clinking into jars is music to my ears. And I don’t think the kids even notice that they spend FAR more time reading then they do playing video games.
I heard Dr. Phil say once, {said with a bit of a texas-hollywood drawl} “you have to find your child’s currency.”
For us, it’s rocks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

God’s Preparation and Timing by Stacy Camp

Gods Preparation and Timing
Isaiah 55: 8-9 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
That verse has held more meaning to me in the last 8 months than ever.  I have been waiting on God, pleading with God to hurry up, telling God now is the time.  You see for the last 8 months my husband has been traveling for work gone from home Monday- Friday while we were waiting for his new job assignment. We have known since 2010 that the plant my husband works for would be closing in 2012.  So I figured that the plant would close, and we would be relocated no later than a couple of months after closure.  God had a different plan, and it was His plan not mine.  
While we have been in this holding pattern for 8 months God has been preparing me for my relocation.  There will be the usual changes that come with moving, making new friends, finding a new home, finding a new school for my son, finding a new church.  Some of these things will be challenging for me. I am not a social butterfly, and it takes me a little longer to make friends and find my place in new settings.  As I look back over these past few months I can now see how God has been preparing me.  I like my comfort zone and dont step outside of it at all. First of all God placed me in a Bible study group with women most of whom I had never interacted with before, and I have learned how to really dig deeper in His Word.   
I have a friend who has this spiritual gift as she calls it of pushing me outside my comfort zone without really pushing but just asking me to do things that I would have never done before and letting God do the rest of the work by showing me I need to do the things she asked.  My friend first asked if I would share scripture at a womens retreat.  My first instinct was to tell her no, but God laid it on my heart that it wasnt about me at all and that I needed to get over it.  So I decided on a scripture, a very familiar scripture that I have always loved Jeremiah 29:11.  As I was reading this scripture and preparing for what I was going to share and what this verse meant to me somehow I ended up in Lamentations 3. Really, God?  Lamentations?  Its depressing!  Except for Lamentations 3:22-33 where there is hope through Gods mercy.  God knew the whole time this would fit perfectly with the theme for the weekend and the devotions lead by other women one even from the same scripture.  I love that God knows how everything will fit perfectly and work out according to His plan not ours.  I fought God so hard about those scriptures. It wasnt what I had planned, but I submitted (and if you know me, you know I used to think the word submission was a curse word), and it was a perfect weekend with godly women.  
Next my sweet friend sends me an invitation to a Facebook page she had created for the purpose of moms encouraging other moms through this journey of motherhood and the challenges we all face.  I comment on FB saying this would be awesome wish I would have had this in the early challenging stages when we got a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome with my son.  So what does my friend do…..? She sweetly suggests I should write a blog post about our struggle with Aspergers.  You got it my first instinct was to say, “no way”… God’s answer…. “Yes you will.”  So I did.  Comfort zone breached yet again!  So with all that being said I truly believe that God’s plan is bigger and better than mine. As I begin this new journey I have the tools to cope with being outside my comfort zone because I have learned to lean more on God and His word than my own thoughts or ways. 
Now that God has laid this foundation of preparation for our move I can be more effective in helping my children deal with the changes that lie ahead for our family.  I asked my 14 year old son, Logan, the other day what is concerns or fears were with our impending move.  His reply was “I am really not the type of person who worries about those kinds of things”.  I wish sometimes I could be more like Logan!  Due to his Aspergers his feelings are different than ours or sometimes even non-existent.  Logan doesn’t have those emotional attachments to people or things that typical people do in this instance Aspergers is such a blessing.  Will there not be any issues once we move?  I am not na├»ve enough to think not there will be routine changes that we will have to overcome.  Overcome we will with much prayer and guidance from the Lord.

Friday, September 13, 2013

When God Asks You To Bring Up A Child Through The Unthinkable by Traci Adams

When God Asks You To Bring Up A Child Through The Unthinkable

One of the toughest things you will ever do is raise children. Just the fact that you are here, reading this blog, shows that we are always seeking advice and tips on bringing up our children in the best way possible, to ensure they have all the tools and life skills needed to become independent adults one day. As Christian parents, we also want to make sure that our children find their way to the Savior, Jesus, and begin to walk the path He has for them as soon as they are mature enough to do so.

It's tough!! If you are anything like me, you will struggle over a infinite number of decisions during your children's lifetime. Should I take this promotion? Should we make this move, school-change, new house...... The list can be endless! Also, needless to say, daunting, in it's enormity. Yes, I know that we should seek God over every major decision, and most of us try to, but I always find myself trying to do God's work instead of getting out of His way. I think many of us are guilty of this, so don't judge yourself too harshly.

Like I was saying, TOUGH, doesn't even come close to describing bringing up children. I recently told one of my dearest and oldest friends that if you can lay your head on your pillow at night, and are able to congratulate yourself on your perfection as a parent, you are doing something wrong(or the rest of us are!!!!) Doubts will plague you, it is normal!

In February of 2009, I found out how wrong all I just shared with you was. On a freezing cold Saturday night, the 21st of February, 2009, during a Mardi Gras parade, my husband of 16 years, fell from the top of a fire truck and fractured almost every bone in his neck. He died on that street corner and was "brought back" at a local hospital. Our two girls, who were 9 and 14 at the time, as well as myself were witnesses to the entire horrific scene. He would go on to live 10 months in a vegetative state(coma), finally passing away, December 12th, 2009.

The single hardest job God has ever placed into my life, was bringing those two babies up through the unthinkable. Through the trauma of their father's untimely death, the heartbreak of the mother they love, and the indescribable ache that took hold of the three of us after fighting for his recovery for nearly a year.

My journey with the God I now know( He's not the same as the one I thought I knew, but that is another blog) began in a quite, dark hallway, around the corner of the ICU where Tommy was fighting for his life, about 24 hours after his injury. I finally left him long enough to come out and talk to my precious children and what I found in that hallway forever changed me. I came face to face with two terrified children who knew nothing of what was going on. They didn't even know if he was alive. It had been left to me to be the bearer of information to our girls and I had failed miserably!! It still hurts to remember all the questions they had. Is he alive? Is he awake? What's wrong with him? Can the doctors fix his neck? Will he walk again after they do? Is he going to die? After my 5th, "I don't know, babies" "momma just does not know", something moved through my soul. I surrendered that moment to God, and let Him lead.

The greatest decision I could, and probably will ever make was made in that moment! I knelt down in front of those girls and just said, I don't know. I don't know, was the answer to every single question that they had( that was tough when you are the momma that has a answer for everything). I don't know if he is going to live or die, I don't know if he is going to wake-up, walk, talk, or anything. I don't know, over and over, said in weakness, would become my greatest strength. I ended with I don't know anything that is going to happen, but I DO know that God has us! God has your Dad, He has this family, He has the entire thing firmly in His grasp, and we are going to be ok. HE HAS US!! It was at that moment, I realize now, that I firmly anchored my family in Faith! The faith that we would come through, no matter what. That we would walk on the other side of this nightmare one day, and be okay. That faith and only that faith would carry us through the next 5 years, and us still carrying us today. Many times I would ask my girls, are we ok? I know we are sad, I know we miss him, I know we ache, but, are we okay??? Are we truly okay?? They both always answer the same. Yes, momma, we are ok. We really are.

There is no obstacle that you are facing that God can not walk you and your family through. Not a single one. Because of my unmovable statement of faith, I know God has walked us through the worst and we are coming out on the other side. The girls are happy, well-adjusted, successful, loving children. They have large loving hearts and I see very little remaining traces of hurt, anger, and bitterness. Everyday, I watch them grow stronger and my heart is at peace. They are both amazingly strong and happy. It is not because I'm the best patent to walk the earth! It is because in my brokenness, in my sorrow, at my lowest, I cried out for help to get us through the unthinkable, and God has never left my side.

Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as a anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

Traci Adams 

Friday, August 23, 2013

God Promises a Lot of Things to His Kimberly Colvin Snuggs

God promises a lot of things to His children written in His book to us. In Jeremiah 29:11, He promises not to harm us and to give us a hope and a future. In Exodus 14:14, He promises to fight for us if we are still. Isaiah 40:31 says if we have hope in the Lord He will renew our strength and we can run and not grow weary. And one of my favorite promises of them all is in Philippians 4 when God promises to provide peace that transcends all understanding if we will not worry or be anxious. I haven’t found the promise yet that life would be easy. In fact God says “you will have trouble in this world” but yet another promise is that He has overcome the world.

My family has been on quite a journey the last 18months. I have never held so tightly to God’s promises for me. My now five year old daughter, Avery, was diagnosed with leukemia in February of last year. Just after her 4th birthday and after a perfect well doctor’s visit, she developed sudden bruising. We immediately got her checked out and heard the words no parent ever deserves or expects to hear....”she has cancer.”

Our hearts were crushed and our world at that moment was turned upside down. She has been through more in the last 18 months than most of us can say in a lifetime. She has been poked and prodded over one hundred times, has lost her hair twice, and experienced the horrible side effects from chemotherapy that everyone hears about. And through it all, God is using the strength, bravery, and faith of my five year old daughter to teach this momma some pretty special things.

I think back to last summer and a day that Avery had to go to clinic to get chemotherapy. This particular chemo is given in the form of two shots. Avery had received this drug several times before and with each administration it became more difficult for Avery to be willing and cooperative for the shots to be given. The three nurses that it would take to hold her down came in and that is when Avery lost it. As the nurses are preparing her legs, Avery is screaming, “No, mommy. No, mommy. I don’t want to. Please mommy no. It’s going to hurt. I don’t want to do it.” My heart actually aches. She isn’t telling them no but is telling me no. She wants me to make them stop.

 I am her mom and the one that is supposed to be able to take all this away from her. But I can’t take this away, so all I do is squeeze her hands close to her chest. I have my mouth near her ear and as her tears mix with my tears on our cheeks, I whisper close to her, “I know baby. I know you don’t want to. I know it’s going to hurt. I just need you to be still for just a while. It will be over in just a minute. I love you baby girl. Mommy loves you so much.” It feels like an eternity, but it lasts less than a minute, and after the Band Aids are in place she clings to me again. I pick her up, and she rests her head on my chest. Her sobs finally begin to die down. I tell her over and over how proud I am. “You are so brave, Avery. You did so well. I am so proud of you.” She rests in my arms clinging to my hand, and she never lets go as she drifts off to sleep.

What an amazing picture it painted for me of my heavenly father. I remember day one of this journey pleading to my Father, “No, God, no. I don’t want to do this. Please God no. I don’t want to do it; this hurts too much. I can’t do this.” But God whispers in my ear and cries with me, “I know my child. I know you don’t want to. I know it’s going to hurt. I just need you to be still for just a little while. It will be over before you know it. I love you my daughter. Your Father loves you so much!!!” And all I can do is cling to Him. I’m not mad or angry at God for choosing Avery to have to go through this. I just have to hold His hand and trust He knows what is best for my girl. And I pray one day I hear the words from my Heavenly Father…”You did good my daughter, I am so proud of you.” God promises His children so much, but commands much of us as well. I will continue to trust and to be still and let God fight for me. It’s the only way I can survive this journey. “I will cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8 and I will “Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Navigating in the Blended Family by Becky Norton Farmer

Navigating in the Blended Family: Blessings and Challenges

So, an update from my last blog entry, Michael and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary on June 9th with a family trip to Tennessee with all 4 kids and my parents.  When we joined our family, I had two girls ages 12 and 14 and Michael had one girl 15 and one boy 12. Now WE have a glorious family of 4, ages 12-15! What a blessing! I wish that I could say that it was always that way. 

When we decided to get married, our pastor counseled us and said, “You guys are fine, and I am not worried about your relationship. Your biggest challenge will be with the children." There was not a truer statement ever made.  Imagine placing 4 kids ages 12-15 together in a home, who only knew each other as acquaintances and say, OK, now you are a family!  Well, that is exactly what happened. I cried more tears each night over the family dynamic in our home than I have cried over anything in my life. The three girls hated each other, and our son, bless his heart, just endured the situation.  Differences in parenting styles, different temperaments, little hearts that were trying to adjust to mom and dad getting remarried, all combined for a not so pretty picture. My precious husband, whose parents divorced when he was just 7, would tell me, “Be patient. Give it time, and God will work it out”. Well, for those of you who know me, patience is not my strong suit! My father, who also experienced divorced parents, also gave me the same advice, “Baby, it just takes time. They will all get along one day."  I would call these “family meetings” where we would sit around and share our feelings. Talk about AWKWARD!!! AWKWEIRD is more like it. Getting teenagers to talk at all is a challenge, but to speak nicely about a situation is even harder. The meetings would end up in everyone saying how much they disliked one another and the situation and someone crying, usually ME! So I cried out to God daily to please mold my family into one that at least liked each other and could live together peacefully. I began to wonder if  we would ever be normal again. 

But our God is so amazingly merciful and graceful that He mends the broken hearts and restores and heals relationships! Our kids now laugh and play together, do each other’s hair, call and text one another when they are apart and even want to spend the night with each other when they are at the other parent’s house for the weekend. I cannot praise God enough for the miracle that has occurred in the lives of our children.  Little by little, week by week, just as my husband and my daddy told me would happen, they all began to get to know each other and even like each other. Our family is finally a family and only God can get glory for that. It is nothing that I or Michael did, only our Heavenly Father.  They still have their spats and disputes, but just as normal brothers and sisters do, not as enemies who cannot stand to breathe the same air! 

I have had the privilege to not only mother two of the most beautiful, talented, smart, funny and precious girls in the world, but now I get to be mother to another beautiful, amazing, kind and funny girl and also to mother a son, who is generous, considerate, kind and wonderful! My cup runneth over! God has blessed me with a second chance at love to the most amazing man a woman could ever hope to marry and to be the mother to the coolest 4 kids on the planet. So if you are struggling in your blended family world, the only advice I can give is to pray fervently and be patient. In God’s time and with your love and prayer, He will make  a family into one that honors  Him and reflects His love and mercy. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

While I Am Becky Farmer

While I am waiting…..

“Lord how am I gonna make it?” What am I to do?  These are questions that you might be asking yourself if you are newly “single again”.
Regardless of how you got here, you’re here. The last thing you need now is to make huge mistakes out of a desire to feel needed and wanted again. So, what is a girl to do? How can I honor God with my time and talents and still be a good mom? When is it ok to “date” again? REALLY??? 

To answer all these questions is not an easy one unless you have walked with God thru this journey. The most important thing a newly single again mom must remember is that God promises never to leave us or forsake us, especially now. In the midst of all my heartache, I cried out to God to protect my girls and heal my broken heart. Until that happens, the heart healing, you cannot even contemplate dating again. The mere thought made me sick to my stomach that I could even become close to a man again. So, what did I do with all my time? Being a single working mom made that decision pretty easy, I worked and took care of my girls. The rest of the time I spent serving my Lord, thru my church. I taught 8th grade girls Sunday School, led a Financial Peace group and began a Single Parenting class. This not only served God but allowed me time to seek God and His direction for my life, and for the life of my girls.
God is so awesome and when He is ready for you to move forward to love again, He will make it very clear. It was like I had blinders removed from my eyes and heart when he had healed me and made me realize that I could be loved and that I was ready to date. I mentioned in my previous blog the “top 10 list” that I developed in counseling.  I was very serious about that list and had decided if a potential date didn’t meet those requirements, then I was fine with being single forever. It is ok to be single, it is not a death sentence. I learned more about myself and my God in those 3 years of being single than I had in all my previous years of life. I also got to see a side of God’s church and my church family that amazed me. I would wake up on Saturday mornings to hear lawn mowers outside mowing my grass! Yes, men from my church who had given of their time to minister to me. What an awesome outpouring of love. I would also receive money from strangers and friends who knew what a struggle being a single mom was and gave to me generously from a loving heart.  

When I began to pray for this man who would meet all of my top 10 requirements, I also prayed very specifically that IF I were to marry again, that God would bring him to me quickly and make it clear, very clear, who this man would be. I did not want to be one of those ladies who dated many men in search of their prince charming. I have two young girl children at home  that would not be sending them a good message. So, my prayers were very specific, VERY specific. And my God, supplied all my needs according to His riches in glory!!! My Michael is a wonderful man, not perfect, but perfect for me and God designed him to my specifications because my prayer was very specific. 

I have seen women separate from their husbands and begin the downward spiral, looking for love and acceptance from any man who will look their way. It is easy to be tempted to go this path, but God’s way is a much better choice. Allow yourself time to mend, take care of yourself and your children, TIME does heal all wounds and crying out to our Heavenly Father for guidance will allow you to make wise, godly decisions while you are in the midst of the storm.  Knowing who you are in Christ and that you are worthy of His best, will allow you to take your time and wait upon the Lord to reveal His perfect plan for your life.
Pray, seek and serve! That was my motto during those 3 years before God brought Michael and I together. I hope you choose the same, my God will not let you down.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dating My Son by Kristy Mullins

When I was in middle school, it started. My daddy started dating me. He had a truck that had a bench seat in the front, and I’d ride right beside him to wherever we were going. Often times it was out to eat, and occasionally, he’d buy me something like clothes or jewelry. He always opened the door and gave me his undivided attention. He loved on me, not just then but whenever possible. I didn’t need some hairy-legged boy to tell me how great I was because my daddy already did. I didn’t need some hormonally charged boy to flatter me because my daddy already spoke truth into me and my life about my value and my looks.

Brunch at Cracker Barrel

So based on what I learned from my daddy, I began dating my son. We’ve been doing this since he was around five years old. Each year I add a little something more to the dates. Last year, I began giving him the keys to the truck to hold onto and gave him the money when it was time to pay. He walked with such confidence up to the counter to pay for our meal. He opened all the doors, and when he forgot, I stood outside until he came back and got me with a sheepish grin on his face apologizing. Pearce’s favorite restaurant is Cracker Barrel, so that is where we go on most of our dining dates. We practice our best manners for an eight year old. Then when we leave, he has the keys to the truck. He unlocks the door, waits for me to get in, closes the door and gets into the truck before returning the keys. Last year during a date to Cracker Barrel, I was sitting in the truck while Pearce was getting in, and I happened to look into the vehicle ahead of me. The noses of our vehicles were facing each other, and the passenger (a lady) was watching everything unfold. She was grinning and laughing and giving me a thumb up. I just nodded in her direction.

Today, Pearce and I had another date, and I posted a little something about it on Facebook on my personal page. There were quite a few hits, so I thought I’d tell a little bit more about our dates.

Showing Off His Skill at the Arcade
First of all there is a disclaimer. This is my first rodeo raising a boy. There is no dress rehearsal in this life. I wasn’t raised with boys, but I figured if my daddy’s dating me worked, why wouldn’t it work for me and my son. You see, my son and I butt heads frequently because he is my strong-willed child. He is the answer to my mother’s prayers. He wants his way, and he knows his way will work. The problem is he has to learn to submit and obey along with respecting authority including educators and parents. So, I stand my ground. It’s important to me that Pearce sees me more than just his disciplinarian. He needs to see me as his momma who loves him, wants the best for him. He needs to see me laugh and have a good time and to relax and be goofy. This momma thing is all a really big balancing act in the long run.

I also keep in mind that I’m training a future leader: a future leader in school, a future leader in the community, but most importantly, a future, godly leader in his home. So how do I prepare him for that undertaking? How do I train my son to be the godly man God wants him to be? What do I do now? I believe that God will bless my efforts and that His Word will not return void. In the end, Pearce will have to make the decision as to whether or not he believes what I’m teaching and whether or not he’s going to incorporate it in his life. My job for now is to equip him, so when he hears the voice behind him saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Pearce will know that’s from God.

Bass Pro
So what am I doing to prepare and train my son? First of all, he knows how to wash, dry, fold and put away his clothes. He knows how to put away and load dirty dishes. He also knows how to cook several meals. These are real life skills he needs to know in order to survive.

What else am I working on right now with my son? We are using language to convey feelings and emotions, and identifying the emotions because we can have more than happy and angry feelings. This lesson has been going on for some time, and I have reason to believe it will continue for years to come.

As for our dates, currently, we have a conversation about what we want to do and where we want to go. Most of the time it’s to a dinner and a movie. Today, I added praying before our date to the schedule. We pray at meals, but I told him how important it was to pray on dates. He said he didn’t know how to pray for our date, and I reminded him that we pray every morning on our way to school and that is how he should pray. He’s at an age that he’s counting money, and it’s important that he has the confidence to go up and order those movie tickets or to pay for our meal. Probably next year, we will work on the budgeting aspect of our dates, but for now, we are funding the dates making sure he handles the money. I think it’ll be different when I give him the money ahead of time, and he has to plan the date within those perimeters. During our time at the restaurant, he isn’t allowed to play on my cell phone. He has to have a conversation with me or play a game with me. He has to be engaged with his date. The last stop on our date was to see my Mammaw (his great grandmother).
Pearce and his great grandmother Mammaw Groves
After leaving, I told him it’s important to be able to visit with people of all ages. He needs to feel comfortable talking to his date’s family, and he has to feel comfortable bringing his date home to talk with us as well. Oh how I pray that some of this sticks.

I will continue to date my son for as long as he will allow it. I still go on dates with my daddy, but the purpose has changed. Now it’s just to spend time with one another. He’s already poured so much into me and equipped me to be the wife and mother I am today. (BTW, he was my disciplinarian, and we have a loving relationship today, so there is hope!)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Once a Parent Always a Parent by Kellie Perego

 Once a Parent Always a Parent

The journey of life is always unpredictable and uncertain. Certainly in the area of parenting. During our earlier years we dream of meeting that right person, getting married, and raising a family. AS the years pass and our dreams come true, we find ourselves in a place in our lives where we wonder, where did all the years go? Wow, that went by fast!

That has been true for me. I did meet the perfect spouse for me. WE’VE been married for 23 years and we have two great children, Parker and Karlee. In my journey of life, we chose for me to stay home with my children and not to work outside the home. In doing so, it allowed me to be more involved in our children’s upbringing and education on a deeper level than most parents.

Parenting is something that is trial and error at the most.  Parenting skills ARE DETERMINED BY THE BELIEFS, VALUES, MANNERS AND EDUCATION THAT WAS RECEIVED ALONG THE WAY. Parenting must be executed on an individual basis. Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made by our creator so that no two ARE just alike. Each CHILD has their own personality traits, likes and dislikes, talents and skills, and certain things that MOTIVATE them to succeed or not succeed. To parent a child, we must know the child and adjust accordingly. Know what makes them tick, so to speak, or understand their thinking, their heart, whether it is sensitive to the world around them or if it is indifferent.

A parent must be an advocate for their child. No one else in the world is going love them more except for Jesus. The world wants to shred them a part, destroy them, do away with them before they are even born. We must stand in the gap for them through prayer, be a godly example, be consist in our own lives and not be hypocritical, be open and honest especially when we make a mistake and I think the most important thing is to keep your word when you say you are going to do something, follow through. Children are not dumb, they know when you are real or not. They mimic your every move. One day, we will be held accountable before God on how we parented our children that he blessed us with.

At this point in my journey of this life, my children will both be attending college in the fall, and I am left with an ‘empty house’. Sometimes, all the hype is about the kids needing to adjust to college life, being away from home, and taking on more adult responsibilities. But I think the adjustment is for the moms who have spent 18 years of their lives preparing them to go out into the world.  We, AS MOMS have carried them, delivered them, nursed their every hurt and pain, poured into their lives everything we possibly can and one day they are UP and gone. No more nurturing, no more endless chores or cooking. Just you and your spouse again.

  It is going to be an adjustment FOR ME, but at the same time, I am excited about what lies ahead. Opportunities for me to fulfill my life long dreams and passions of serving on the mission field. Opportunities to pour into other children’s lives nurturing love and encouragement that otherwise they might not have because of the death of their parents. Whether they are 10,000 miles across the WORLD or right down the street in your neighborhood or even your own grandchildren, there will always be a need for parenting in some child’s life. God never intends for us to stop parenting just because our kids are grown or we think we are too old. He wouldn’t have given us all those years of training if he didn’t want us to use our knowledge of parenting for his glory to encourage others. Besides, just because your children are growing up, doesn’t mean that you won’t continue parenting them, you are just learning a new level of parenting on your journey of parenthood.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wisdom by Taran Holland

            “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without           criticizing, and it will be given to him.                     James 1:5


            About a year ago I was selling books for my office on campus, and I had the privilege of talking to a very sweet couple. They had graduated from New Orleans Seminary in 1958 and 1960. Currently they were serving as the pastor couple for a church in Virginia. We talked about their experience on campus, how much the campus had changed then about our families. They had raised sons, two or three I can’t remember exactly, which was a common factor for myself as I was raising two little men at that time. (Currently we are adding number three to the mix…Come on September!) As I was expressing my need for patience with my sons, the wife gave me the best advice I have received in parenting. “Stop praying for patience, pray for the wisdom to raise them the way the Lord wants them to be raised.”

            WOW! Where had that been in the past three years I had been a mother? Pray for wisdom, because if I am wise I will know how to react to my children during those circumstances when I want to scream. So I began praying for the wisdom to raise my sons and seeking God’s Word on wisdom.

            I am often taken by the wisdom we see in Solomon and all because he asked for it. Here is God’s reply to Solomon’s request:


            “I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like             you before and never will be again.” (1 Kings 3:12)


So, we are given proof that by asking God to give us good things, things that will help not only us but also the people around us, He will “give …generously”! That is very encouraging to a mother who feels like she only get’s it right 1/3 of the time. If we continue reading about Solomon we see many examples of how he exercised the wisdom God gave him. But for me, I’m not being approached by any women fighting over a child (a toy between brothers, maybe). So I’m left with some questions: What does wisdom look like? When I pray for God to give me wisdom, what exactly am I seeking Him for? Do I just want the right answer for that moment, or do I want something that is going to stick around long after this moment has passed?

            We find in James 3:13-17 a great description of what wisdom is and what wisdom is not. Here is what James has to say about it:


            “Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good    conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder   and ever kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace loving, gentle,             compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.”


This passage really stands out to me when I think about how I mother my children. If I am to be a wise mother I should conduct myself with “wisdom’s gentleness”. The Greek word used here is prautes [prah OO tays] it is translated to gentleness. This specific type of gentleness only comes from within and manifests itself outwardly. Secondly, I should have no bitter envy or selfish ambition in my heart. That one seems pretty easy until the next verse points out that these characteristics exist when there is disorder…uh oh, lots of disorder in my house! Finally, we are given a descriptive definition of wisdom from above: pure, peace loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. When I look at this list it looks similar to the characteristics that we would give to God, our heavenly father. He is full of mercy, gentleness and peace when He is teaching and guiding His children. So, this is what my parenting should look like to. Gosh that seems like a tall order! Then I remember that God has already proven His willingness to give wisdom that I ask for.  

            The Lord has proven Himself faithful to answering my prayers for wisdom. This does not mean that I am an ever wise mother, who never has a melt down or whose children always listen. But I am encouraged by the promise that God is trustworthy to do as His Word says He will. He will give me the wisdom that I seek to parent my children. Lets also begin praying that I use the wisdom He gives me!

Friday, August 9, 2013

I Need Oxygen...My Baby's First Day of School by Deborah Bryant

Each time we travel by plane, we hear this message:  “If cabin pressure changes, the panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks.  If this happens, reach up and pull a mask toward you until the tube is fully extended.  Place the mask over your nose and mouth; slip the elastic strap over your head.  Breathe and know that oxygen is flowing.  Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.”

There was an unexpected change in cabin pressure.  My heart began to race.  My hands felt numb.  I felt dizzy and weak.  I need that oxygen mask!  It was my baby’s first week of Kindergarten and the first day she got out of the car in carline to walk by herself down that long sidewalk, then down the long hall to her classroom.  There was a lump in my throat.  As she stepped out of the car, I told her I loved her, a stranger closed the car door, I drove away, and tears flowed down my cheeks. 

Elizabeth Stone wrote, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”.  That day, my heart walked out of the car, down that long sidewalk, down the long hall into Mrs. White’s Kindergarten class and I was not there to hover, provide and protect it. I felt as if I were hyperventilating.

Since then, other changes in cabin pressure have come about.  I needed oxygen when I was dealing with my child’s health issues, when she first rode a bus without me to a field trip, when she was mistreated by another student, and when she changed schools.  I imagine I will need oxygen in the future as well.  I will need oxygen when she transitions to middle school, hits puberty, enters high school, starts driving, rides in cars with peer drivers, begins dating, goes to college, moves from home, gets married, gives birth and many other times. 

While navigating expected milestones and unexpected turbulence, changes in cabin pressure occur. Where do I find oxygen?  I find my oxygen in my Heavenly Father.  I ask Him for help and he answers.  Sometimes he answers with a “yes”, sometimes he answers with a “wait” and sometimes he answers with “I’ve got something better”, but he always answers.  He is faithful and constant.  He is my very present help, strength, and comforter - oxygen.  I’m lost without Him.  When I get worried, busy, tired, distracted, or sleep-deprived and forget, cabin pressure changes are a gift to remind me.  One of the most beautiful expressions of this is in the song, “Breathe” by Michael W. Smith:  “This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me. This is my daily bread, Your very word spoken to me.  I’m desperate for you, and I’m lost without you.”   Note to self:  When experiencing anxiety from the joys and challenges in this wonderful journey of motherhood, strap on your oxygen mask and breathe.



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

First Day of School by Amy Abraham

Your Child’s First Day of Preschool

It's the first day of real school for your child, and who's more upset about or your child? I have a few helpful hints to hopefully make things a lot smoother for the both of you! Start with asking God to guide and watch over both you and your child. The first day of school can make a parent an emotional wreck. I have learned over my years of teaching it's harder for a parent to drop off a child than the child separating from the parent.

Prepare the night before

If you have things in order at your house the night before it will make your morning a lot less rushed, and it will give you more time with your child the next morning. Try to make time to sit at the breakfast table with him and encourage him about his day.  Another importing thing is to make sure he gets plenty of rest. When a child comes to school after a late night and being rushed the next morning, they usually have a crummy day. Be consistent. Don't go to bed early for one week then start going to bed later and later each night. Children react well to a schedule that is consistent! Feed them breakfast every morning and take a minute to sit and eat at the table with them. This would be a good time for you to talk about the great day he is going to have.

Encourage your child

Talk about all the positives that will happen at school. There will be toys. You will make lots of friends; your teacher is very nice, I'm very excited about all the neat stories you will be hearing. The more you encourage your child the more he will be excited about going to school each day. Remember he will be attending the school you chose for him, and it's a safe, loving place.  If you are worried about him feel free to call the school and check up on him. Parents call the school all the time to get a report about how their day is going.

Separation anxiety

When you get to school let your child walk to the classroom like a big boy. Let him know how proud you are of him for being so big. If he starts crying when you get to the room and wants to hang on to you, encourage him to play with a friend or with toys. The more you wait around the more he will get upset because he sees its upsetting you. I know it sounds crazy, but I see it all the time. Most of the time the separation anxiety is more with the parents than the child. If you have a child that is just hanging onto you and crying ask the teacher to help you and kiss them goodbye. Don't sneak out either, he will catch onto what you do when you drop him off and will want to cling to you even more. Don't be afraid to ask the teacher for help if you or the child are having separation issues. If you are encouraging to him, he will probably sit down with a friend, kiss you goodbye, and not think about you anymore until you come to pick him up.  Don't be late picking him up. If you tell him you will be there at a certain time, keep your word.  After naptime when parents are picking up their children, other children start wondering where is my mommy. 

Pick up time

When you get to school to pick up your child the first thing you should do is ask them about their day. Ask them questions about what they learned and who they played with. Encourage them by letting them know how excited you are to hear all about their exciting day. Remember to talk to the teacher in front of the child and praise her for loving on him. A teacher becomes very attached to her students, and when you praise the teacher in front of the child, it shows you trust her. Tell your child, "I like your teacher; isn't she nice?".  The more encouraging you are about school, the more he will be excited to attend. End the night with reading a story and encouraging him that he will be reading one day soon.  Say a prayer praising God for all his Glory and thanking him for watching over your child at school.

I am a preschool teacher and a mother of two beautiful children. My daughter is in 5th grade and my son is in Preschool. I hope this information is helpful to you. I pray you have a blessed school year. Remember it's always ok to ask your teacher anything no matter what it is. She isn't just there for your child, she is also there to support you!!!

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart for it.  Proverbs  22:6