Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Ended a Friendship, But God Restored It -- By Kristy Mullins

I have been blessed throughout my life with some sweet and funny friends who have tolerated my ADHD and laughed at my ADHD self, who have learned to see the meaning of what I say by what’s been in my heart not necessarily how it comes out my mouth. Those are one’s true friends. I have known a friend since kindergarten…I think – maybe first grade. It’s been too far back to know exactly when we first met, but it wasn’t until youth group at church that we became friends, then really good friends, then best of friends. We went to different colleges and reconnected. She was one of my bridesmaids. My husband thought she was a lot of fun to
hang with, but our friendship took a turn – a turn for the worse. We became toxic for one another, and the friendship became very unhealthy. I would sob after every phone call without exception because my heart would ache, and so I had to do the hardest thing I had ever done up to that point in my life. I ended our friendship. I told her it wasn’t healthy, and I needed to get out of it. My heart broke into what seemed like a million pieces, and I grieved the loss of her and her friendship for months. In truth, I shunned female friendship for some time after.
But God continued to bless me with a sweet friend in Plano that we still see and travel with from time to time and who has a daughter that is my daughter’s age. Then God blessed me with a PACK of girlfriends in Belton who were wild, funny, always entertaining and forever at my house. I LOVED IT! But when we moved back to Shreveport, I struggled finding “friends.” There were women that I ministered with, women who I saw at my kids’ games, women who I saw at school events, but no one who would call and say, “Hey, let’s go do this!” No one who would call me out when I was out-of-line. No one to whom I could vent, rant and rave, and have her laugh on the other end of the line. And I missed it.

I have to tell you that my sister has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. We don’t have to complete a sentence when a look conveys a whole conversation. I pick up where she leaves off and vice versa. We cross-parent our kids. I could not possibly ask for a better sister or best friend, but we all need our space from time-to-time. We text multiple times a day with the strangest, goofiest, most hilarious stuff. If you read our text, you’d know just how hilarious we really are, but still something was missing.

Throughout the years I’ve wondered about my friend, Tammy. I remember writing her letters and then tearing them up. When we returned to Shreveport, I invited her and her baby girl who is a few weeks younger than my daughter over for a play date, but nothing really came of it. Almost nine years later, I had a dream that I ran into her at the gas station on the corner of Walker and Bert Kouns (the one without the McDonald’s), and I didn’t recognize her, but she recognized me. In my dream we briefly caught up, and I remember feeling how comfortable it felt…not awkward in the least. Then less than a year later, her mother died. Lori (my sister) and I went to the visitation, and I saw her again in person. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Her eyes lit up when she saw me, and she told me she wanted me to meet her fiancĂ©. She brought him over, and she introduced me. “This is Kristy. She’s my best friend.” I was blown away by this statement. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in years, and yet she called me her best friend. When Lori and I got back in the car, I asked her if she thought that was odd or was it just me. She agreed it was, and I just pondered and sat on it for a while. Truth was she was speaking prophesy.
Around a year later, our lives reconnected in a very real way, a healthy way. The restoration of this friendship has brought me such joy. She was always able to tell my husband things in a way that if I said them like that to him, he’d ignore me or there’d be a disagreement. We have gone on vacation together. Our girls went to MFuge together. We see each other every weekend at church and often times we are doing something on the weekend together. It has been so much fun being back together. My heart had missed her, and God was faithful to restore. I know I can call her, and she’ll do anything in her power to help. I also know she will laugh at me when I’m goofy, stupid or out-of-line. I know that she will hold me accountable. I hadn’t really had that outside of my sister since I moved back to Shreveport.

I tell you my story because someone needed to hear it. It took about 15 years for God to restore our friendship, and I have to tell you it’s even sweeter the second time around because we know what we’d lost and what was restored.  Job 1:21 says, “…The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord.” I’m praising Him for restoring what was once lost.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Do-Overs by BIllie TImmons

  There are few times in life we are allowed "do-overs". In school, I remember having a practice spelling test on Wednesday. If I failed, I had a chance to take the test again on Friday. Some teens may have to take a driving test more than once to get a driver's license. A spoiled friendship can sometimes be repaired if both parties are willing to forgive and forget. But once time has passed, it is gone for good. You just don't get a "do-over" for that.
  I'm sure we have all said, "If I could just go back and do it over again, I'd do it differently." Some are minor things like, "I wouldn't have eaten that second piece of pie!" Some are major things like, "I wish I'd told that loved one how much they meant to me before they passed away."
  One of the most important things we will not get a "do-over" for is raising our children. It is natural, I guess, for most parents to want to make their children's lives on earth wonderful. Some parents want to give their children the latest fashions and electronics. Some want to give their children less rules, less discipline, and more freedom than they had. I'm guilty on all counts at one time or another. But what our children need is for us to introduce them to Jesus and make sure their eternal future is secure. What better gift could we give them than that?
  Even though both of my parents worked hard to give me most of the material gifts I wanted, more importantly, they gave me what I needed. They raised me in church, in a Christian home, and made sure that I met Jesus. Oh, I rebelled some, and I strayed for quite a while, but we all know Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." So many children are not so lucky to be brought up the way I was. I'm so glad my parents trained me up the way they did.
  I don't remember ever not going to church when I was growing up.  We not only went on Sunday morning, but we went on Sunday night, Wednesday night, and every other Saturday for youth recreation.  There were times on occasion when my sisters or I would say we didn't want to go, but unless we were throwing up, running fever, or had a gaping wound we went to church. 
  My rebellion came after I "grew up"...and I use that term loosely! I went through a phase where I didn't think I had to go to church.  Sleeping late on Sunday morning or going places with my friends became more important to me.  I strayed big time!  The more my Mom told me I needed to get up and get ready for church, the more I didn't want to go.  I was over 18, so I could do what I wanted, right? I would pacify her by saying I would go the next Sunday, but I wouldn't.  I'm sure I broke her heart more than once over that.
  The longer I stayed out of church, the easier it became to not go.  I felt conviction for a while after I stopped going, but that conviction only crept in occasionally after so long.  I knew that I needed to go, but I always convinced myself that it didn't matter if I stayed home.  When the conviction overwhelmed me, I would watch a church service on television. That would justify my not going to my home church a half mile from my driveway. 
  After I married and became pregnant with my first baby, I often thought I would start going after he was born. I did go on occasion...Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day, and Father's Day.  Then my second baby came along. We still rarely went, but I felt I had my hands too full with two babies 21 months apart in age. Then I told myself we would start going when they were a little older, so I would be better able to manage them both.  At that time, my husband worked on Sundays. It was up to me to take a very active toddler on one hip, an infant in a carrier on the other, and a diaper bag weighing heavily on my shoulder. It would just be easier when they were both walking I thought.
  They both reached the walking-on-their-own stage, and then we surely couldn't go!  They were both way more active than the typical toddler, and the younger being deaf; it was just a nightmare to go anywhere! They hit the ground running in two different directions. It just wasn't safe for them. I thought one may run out in the road and get run over. I know now, and I knew then that every reason I gave myself for not going to church was just an excuse. While I was staying home, women were dragging themselves into a church building with children hanging all over them, spit-up on the front of their dress, glasses cock-eyed on their faces, and cheerios hanging on strands of hair. But they were at church with their children, and I wasn't.
I don't remember which one, but one of my sister's children made their profession of faith.  That weighed heavily on my mind. My children were not being raised in church, and I was to blame. No amount of excuses would help if my children grew up not knowing Jesus as their Savior. If they left this earth to spend their eternity in hell, no excuse I gave could undo that. That is a huge burden to bear, and one I didn't want to carry.
   If only I could have just one "do-over". I wish I had started my children in church soon after they were born. Fortunately, I came back to my training while they were still young. I have them in church, and I pray for them and with them. Both of them have met Jesus securing their eternal future. I am blessed beyond measure. Thank you, Momma and Daddy!
Billie Timmons

Monday, July 22, 2013

Delight Yourself in the Wendi Fitzwater

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Before we married, my husband and I talked about adoption, and we were both open to the idea.  However, we felt God telling us to go forward with conceiving our own children and did so.  At the birth of our first child we found out that Mark and I have incompatible chromosomes in two places of our DNA strand.  After medical intervention, our first born recovered from the experience, and my OB told us that certain tests would have to be conducted during future pregnancies to determine the safest route of delivery.  Once we conceived our second child, the OB sent us to a specialist who told us that this would be my last pregnancy no matter the outcome because the disorder increased in strength with each pregnancy. We proceeded with all of the medical procedures and arrived at the ultrasound for week 20 of the pregnancy.  After 30 minutes of measuring, checking and rechecking it was determined that the baby was growing and thriving, had no internal bleeding (at this point) and was a boy.  We rejoiced that the baby was doing well and knew that 20 weeks of platelet transfusions lay in our future along with many more tests and no guaranteed outcome.  I made it through the appointment without crying, but as I got to the door of the clinic, I lost it and began to sob in my husband’s arms.  We wanted this baby, and we were thrilled to have another boy, but what I was grieving over was the loss of the opportunity to raise a little girl.  So standing in the hallway of the clinic my husband comforted me and told me that it was God’s plan all along that we would adopt, and there was a little girl out there waiting for us to bring her home.  
I never realized how much of my identity had been tied to the ability to conceive and carry my own children.  As time passed and we got closer to pursuing adoption I fell into a depression of sorts.  I knew this was God's plan for us, but I felt "less than a woman" because I couldn't conceive my own child.  As we encountered obstacles, I would lie to myself - we could have conceived if only I wouldn't have had my tubes tied right after my second son was born.  People tried to comfort me with guilt over not being thankful for my boys, but what I craved was God's peace like I had before.  Ultimately, after praying for several months over a mountain of paperwork and brochures, we chose to go through a state agency and registered to foster/adopt, and then the peace I was craving settled in my heart.  We received a phone call several months later and had our daughter in our arms 24 hours after reading her file!  We had prayed for months over this child for her safety, for her birth mother, for any caregivers involved, but in my heart of hearts I asked God for a blessing beyond measure, that she would look like the little girl I couldn't carry.  Our gorgeous little girl had every physical attribute I asked for... green eyes, curly hair and at 8 weeks old was still about the size of a newborn!  God is so good, so faithful and blesses beyond measure.  
When I find someone at the beginning of the adoption process.  I try to prepare them for a few of the things I felt along the way.  Maybe for them it will be a little easier.  The adoption process for us was about the same length of a pregnancy.  I would like people who are unfamiliar with adoption to understand that it really is like a pregnancy to the family waiting to be united with their child.  Some parts are so much harder.  When you are in a public place with a pregnant person, everyone wants to know when they are due, how they are feeling, etc., but an adoptive mom deals with each step of her faux pregnancy privately. There aren't outward appearances to clue in the rest of the world.  With a normal pregnancy you can assume what size clothes, diapers and resources you will need to prepare.  With an adoption you can prepare a little, but you have no real certainty for what is coming your way.  An adoptive parent goes to classes to learn about their potential child much like a pregnant person goes to the clinic for their check ups.  Some news is a little nerve racking and hard to take.  We go through the hormones and feelings of inadequacy too. It’s a big deal to take on the unknown. It’s especially difficult when many friends and family don't understand the need for them to encourage and acknowledge the pending arrival of the child.  Simple things like referring to future family gatherings with an additional child show your family that you are aware of their process and are anticipating the arrival with them.
Adoption is an incredible way to grow your family.  It is not always the easiest but so incredibly worth it.  People have told our daughter that she is so blessed to have us, but really who are we kidding?  We are the ones who have been blessed with this beautiful child that makes our family complete.

Wendi Fitzwater

Friday, July 19, 2013

When Momma Bear Wants to Come Out...And It's Not to Play by Cynthia McCutcheon

When Momma Bear Wants to Come Out…

(And it’s not to play)

Recently both of my boys (Okay, young men that are 21 & 18) have gone through a deep heartache.  Really couldn’t only one have been enough?  No. Both got to experience it.  As a mom, I silently cried with them, prayed over them, talked with them for hours upon end and wanted to step in and fix it for them.  I know I couldn’t fix it even if I tried but that didn’t change the fact that I desperately wanted too.

One afternoon after watching my son sit under a tree in 100 degree heat with a breaking heart trying to figure out all that had happened, a rare feeling that hasn’t come over me in a long time sprang forward.

If I was watching in a mirror I know I would have seen the hair stand up on the nape of my neck, my shoulders pull back and my fist clench.  Although I had not seen her in a while I knew that the momma bear in me was jumping forward ready to defend her cub.

The scowl on my face revealed the thoughts rushing through my mind.

“How dare they hurt my man-cub?”

“Who do they think they are telling him he is not worthy of them?”

And on and on the thoughts sprang to mind.

Yes, I even thought about implementing new rules such as these.

Inside I ranted and raved and listed all the ways this person was wrong.  Sadly I judged their character, motives and yes even their walk with God.

I became so wrapped up in my thoughts that I began letting them out to my son.  Some of them he agreed with and they made him think and help process the situation. Then there were others that didn’t sit too well with him like my prayers had changed and instead of things to be worked out that he would be released from it.  Yep, he didn’t like that one too well at all.

Then after I began to cool down and probably after a large healthy dose of chocolate (that can happen right?) momma bear began to calm and reprocess.

Why do momma bears come out when our young are threatened?  Are we helping or hurting?  It can be situational especially when they are young, but as they age should we try to tame momma bear more?

I began to consider what are some ways that we can help our children deal with heartaches?  What are some ways that we ourselves can deal with them going through heartaches?  Yes, the old adage is true…When your kids hurt, momma hurts too!

So here are some things I came up with, and I hope that you will add some as well.

1.       Consistently have a steady walk with God daily.  Seeking Him and His guidance for all situations.

2.       Cover your children in prayer daily not just when crisis arise.  Ask God to draw them close to Him so that when troubles arise they will know He has it in His control.

3.       Allow your child to talk to you about the situation at their pace and don’t smother them...  especially boys.  I am fortunate that my boys will eventually talk to me but in their time.

4.       Make sure you always point them to God and His word.

5.       Thank God for His provision and protection over your child.  You never know that the situation of the heartache was God’s protecting hand.

6.       Let your child grieve at his or her own pace.  Lovingly encourage and be there but don’t try to rush them out of it.  (Unless you see unhealthy signs.)

7.       Don’t turn against the offender with hatred.  Pray for them as well.

8.       Above all give it to God and let Him handle it. 

My husband gave me some good advice about dealing with situations.  He said “Don’t let your emotions rule you, let God.” 

When we take that advice that momma bear---well, she’ll stay in check.

Now, let’s hear how you’ve dealt with the heartaches of your children.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Fear as a New Kristy Mullins

Every month I had many doctor appointments – injections, blood work, ultrasounds, procedure. Every month for 7 months we did this routine. I’d get pumped with hormones to see if I would ovulate, and if I did then everything else would follow. It was a mountain hike straight up every month. Then we’d wait a couple of weeks only to crash down hard. I grieved every month for the baby that was not there. I didn’t get to grieve long because we had to start the process all over again. When we finally called the fertility treatments over and unsuccessful, my body was still teeming with hormones which meant I could cry over toilet paper commercials.

Six to seven months after calling quits to the treatments we had a failed adoption. Trust and honesty is huge to me. I investigate insurance fraud, and I’ve been lied to more than I care to say. So when the birth mom was not completely honest with us, we pulled out of the match. I went into a deep depression in August of 2000, but at the end of September we had found the adoption agency we were going to use. They worked only with infertile couples and specialized in open adoptions. (Just for the record, if you don’t know all the details about open adoptions, please don’t voice your opinion or your fears out loud. If you can’t say something encouraging and wise, it’s best to keep your lips sealed. People would say the weirdest and harshest things.)

We went for the adoption orientation at the end of September, two weeks after that we were talking to birth parents, two weeks after that we were matched, two weeks after that we were meeting our birth parents. The birth mom was due at the end of December, but our daughter was born in January. I was blessed to be in the delivery room when she was born and took her first breath. Two days later, the most gut-wrenching day of my life took place. When the birth mom placed the baby into my husband’s arms and had to walk out without her baby. Sobs. Heartbreak. There’s just not a dry eye.

We took our daughter home to find my daddy had tied pink ribbons all over the tree in the front yard. Pink bouquets filled the house along with pink balloons. This day was a long time coming.

We put her bassinet by my side of the bed, so I could hear her and feed her in the night. I was told to expect to feed her every two hours. It was every four hours. I panicked when I slept past two hours, but she was sound asleep. Every snort or move of the blankets she made, I was awake. When she wasn’t making those sweet little baby noises, I was tense because what if something was wrong. FEAR had gripped me.

She quickly started sleeping six and then eight hours at night, but I didn’t. What if she had SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrom)? What if she choked and I didn’t hear her? What if God took her back? Isn’t that crazy!? My fear prevented me from sleeping well at night. I wasn’t joyful because fear ruled me. My fear was in the dark. No one knew until I confessed it to my mom. Through more tears and sobbing, I confessed that I wasn’t sleeping and that I feared that the God who gave me this baby would take her from me. It had been a three year journey to become a mommy, and I was miserably controlled by fear.

My mom asked me, “If God wants to take her, is there anything you can do to prevent him from doing so?” More sobs. That was a harsh reality. I had not been in control of my own body in order to give birth, and I wasn’t in control ultimately of the welfare of this baby. She was God’s. He was the one who had ordered her days and her footsteps. She was on loan to me. We had her dedicated at our church, and she had been dedicated at our home church in Shreveport because so many had been part of our journey, but that night in my baby’s nursery as I rocked her I dedicated her to God. I told God that I would not be stingy with this baby He had entrusted to me. Much like Hannah in the Bible who was also infertile, I gave my baby to God. I had to trust God that no matter what happened He had me in the palm of his hand and my baby in the palm of his hand. I had to trust that God had the best for me and my baby no matter what.

One of my friends asked to keep Erin overnight when she was about seven months old because she was wanting to dress her up and take her to her church. My promise to God was brought to my mind, and we agreed. Anytime we went somewhere with Erin, she freely went others. They loved on her, and she loved on them. She was happy, happy, happy. At one year old, she started going once a quarter to spend a week with Patrick’s mother in Mississippi. What a special bond G and Erin shared.

Erin wanted to go on a mission trip when she was in the third grade, so she and I went to El Salvador with our church to work with the Resendez family. She then spent a week with G, and then her other grandparents picked her up and took her for another week. So when the opportunity presented itself at the beginning of the school year in 2012 for Erin to take a two week trip to Europe with the People to People Student Ambassador Program, we had to prayerfully consider it. As I look back, I clearly see how God has been preparing Erin for this trip abroad. Was I nervous? There may have been one day that I was a little anxious, but I had learned a long time ago that my God has her. I see His hand on her. After M-Fuge this week, she feels she is being called to work with children in Africa. I guess we will be saving up for a mission trip there sometime in the next few years. God is good.


Monday, July 15, 2013

A Mom on the Edge by Holly Tunstall

When Kristy first asked me to write this blog entry I instantly said, “Yes.” Then as I sat down to write this I stopped and said, “What on earth was I thinking?” All the other people write such inspiring words. They offer advice and encouragement for other moms.  Well “WARNING,” I am not sure how encouraging or inspiring this blog will be. At the very least, maybe someone is going through something similar and can see they are not the only one about to lose it!
My story….. I am a mother of 3 boys. They are 11, 9, and 4. The one we will be discussing is my precious lil’ red-headed, four year old. Oh where, oh where do I begin with this….
Babies nap several times a day. My baby never napped, and I do mean NEVER. Still to this day my child does not sleep. He doesn’t nap at school during the day, and at night he is up until usually around 11 or 12 every night. On really bad days it could be even later like two or three in the morning. Sleep is just a lost cause, and no alternative therapies work. He wakes up bright eyed and bushy tailed every morning ready to start the day. Most children are cranky on no sleep. Nope, not my boy -- he is  happy, happy, happy.
Since Holt was born he has always had his OWN speed… and that speed is lighting fast. He was not walking but running by 9 months. He had his first broken bone by 8 months. He was a climber, jumper, flipper, and many other words that end in “er.” He was always into everything and could never be left alone. Busy! Busy! Busy!
His speed is so fast that it interferes with school life as well as home life. I know boys can be active, but hyper does not even begin to describe my child.  After being almost kicked out of preschool, we decided to take him to a doctor. I learned that not only is he hyper, but his whole body is going too fast. He has high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, elevated body temp, and he is in the 5th percentile for height and weight, etc. Basically the doctors say his entire body is on hyper speed. He can’t grow because he goes so fast inside and out that he burns far more calories than we can get into him. The doctors say he is definitely hyper, but he isn’t a classic ADHD case. They broke their own rules and prescribed ADHD meds to a four-year old as a last resort. They say he is an extreme case. They say he desperately needs to slow down, but they don’t know how to do it other than with meds. So after much dismay, we are on ADHD meds, and they help a little but not a lot. All the meds do is barely get him through the school day, and some days they don’t even do that.
School has threatened to kick him out on more than one occasion, but they always give us another chance because they also agree that he is precious, and they too feel he truly cannot help the fact that he goes 150 miles an hour. Therapists say they can’t help him because he isn’t ADHD. They say he doesn’t have any learning disabilities. In fact he is extremely smart for his age. He isn’t mean, so he doesn’t need behavior modification. He doesn’t display attention seeking behaviors, etc… He just simply can’t stay still, and they say it isn’t his fault. The “diets” don’t work (at least not the ones we have tried). So at the end of the day my child “is ADHD, but he isn’t”… that’s the best diagnosis I can get.
We went out to dinner tonight as a family, and I sat and watched as my husband sat by Holt and constantly had to tell him to stop or move him, or physically keep him from moving. It is constant -- plays with silverware, napkin, sugar caddy, shoes of, shoes on, arms in shirt, touches his brothers, blows bubbles, climbs under table, bounces in booth, lays down, taps foot, taps hand, puts feet in air, etc --  and that’s just the first five minutes. I break a sweat just watching him. Then we switch seats, and it’s my turn. Going out in public is soooooo exhausting. People stare and even comment on some occasions about the way I handle him. I hate it! These people judge me, and they have no idea what I go through on a daily basis. They have no idea that I do have to physically grab my child, make him hold still, and make him look at me in hopes that his little brain will slow for just a second so that my words will get through.
 People often comment about hyper kids and say that all they need is just a good whipping, or they need better parenting. These people infuriate me! I am not a bad parent! In fact I think I am a pretty good one. My children are disciplined. A spanking will not make my child sit still. He has a problem and despite my efforts and the doctor’s efforts we can’t slow him down.  
SO for those of you who are reading this, If you have any advice I will gladly accept it. I really feel like what I am about to say is what I am supposed to write. I feel like maybe someone else needs to hear it, to know that they are not the only one who is ready to give up. It is okay to feel like this sometimes. I am at the end of my rope. I barely make it through the day most days. I have not slept for four years! At best I get a few hours a night. I am a wife and mother. I work full time, and I go to nursing school full time. I have a husband who works very hard to provide for our family, but in doing so is never home. I am up all night with my son, and then up all day also at either work or school. This is my life every day.
I’m angry a lot. I get angry at God too. I have no mommy to turn to for advice or support. I have no in-laws to help. I ask “Why” a lot. Why him? Why me? Why 2 normal kids and one who has problems? I look forward to work just to get away from him for a little while.
There are days when my phone rings, and its preschool calling, and I don’t want to answer.  I cannot handle this. We don’t take it day by day in my house. We take it hour by hour. I feel like I am constantly on him. I know he cannot help it, but to be honest that doesn’t really make it any better. He hates me most days, and honestly there are days that I just don’t really like him either. (Yes, I just said that some days I do not like my child.) There are times where I just want to walk away from all of it. But then……. at 1:00 am as my child is doing the hokey pokey in my bed (and I do mean actually doing the hokey pokey) dressed like part batman and part cowboy (because of course we have changed clothes 50 times today) and he turns to me with those huge blue eyes and that sweet smile and says “Momma, you are so pretty…. well except for those big cracks by your eyes…… wait, how did your face crack? Oh well I love you anyway.” I just laugh and I am reminded that God has a sense of humor, and he knows how to remind me that I will make it another day. And I do make it….. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

For I Know the Plans by Taran Holland

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you,” Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah the prophet was speaking to the Israelite exiles in Babylon when he penned this verse. This promise, that the Lord’s plans for His people are so much better than His people’s own plans for their lives, was given after instructions of how the Israelites were to live for 70 years. To paraphrase this passage from my point of view; the Lord asks the Israelites to do things His way and in return He will turn their lives into what is best for them. For modern application, if I walk as the Lord asks me to, then I can trust that what He has in store for me is better than what I can put together for myself.

With this in mind I would like to share a story:

 The full-time job opportunity given to me began in December; January 7th, was the first full week of this job. I was working full-time along side a woman who has spent more than 20 years doing Women’s Ministry. Oh, the experience I was going to get, and the mentorship that I couldn’t get anywhere else! God had finally supplied everything my family needed and then some. Our bills would all be paid, and I was still able to take classes alongside my husband to complete my degree in Women’s Ministry. This was going to be great.

That night I cried for 2 solid hours, thought of every way that my life was completely destroyed and how tortured I will be for the upcoming months. I told the Lord how He was wrong and this wasn't what was best for my family. I battled in those 2 hours of crying, a great desire to be angry at God's decision for me.  Yes, I was pregnant, Yes, I am pregnant. Yes, my world is changing; my body is changing, and I am often on the edge of crying. This is not my first child; in fact this is my third child. My third sweet, innocent, bundle of boy...oh, I mean joy...

Had the Lord forgotten His promise to take care of me, to bring things into my life that were good for me? How was a new addition to our lives going to be good? My new job would cease; classes would be put on hold. How is this going to be anything but a roadblock?

The Bible tells me that children are a blessing from the Lord and that I should get a full quiver...or maybe that my husband should have one...whatever it is :) Could I trust that this was part of God’s plan for my life? That through adding to our family, that my life would truly be better than my plan to continue in my perfect job and finish my degree?

Trust, trust God, trust what God tells me through His Word. Isaiah says “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (26:3) God’s Word calls me to trust Him, and in return I will be in perfect peace! Perfect peace, oh to fully understand what that is. But God says it right to me, all I have to do is trust Him. Trust Him with my life everyday even after my salvation day; trust Him with my family, the increasing of members and the decreasing. Trust Him that His way is better than my way, that He alone knows what is best for me.

Since the day of discovery, my family has been on a crazy ride with God. One month later God brought a pastor into my youth pastor husband’s life. This pastor was looking for a church planting family and through a series of unexplainable events, lead him to my husband and our family. April 1st we officially became church planters in the city of New Orleans. I did give up my perfect job, and I have taken a different degree. Within the next month we will be moving and about a month later we will welcome our new little man into our family. All of which would be so much harder if I were doing life my way.

Trust, even when you don’t see the end, even when it looks to you like the worst possible way to achieve anything good. Trust God because He asks you to and because He can be trusted with our everyday, our every decision, our every step.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

North, South, East, and WEST by Sandra Timmons

We have visited the first set of opposites (sanguine[north] and melancholy[south]) and started on the second set by visiting the East (choleric).  Let’s finish the second set by heading west to meet the Phlegmatics.
Every family (in my opinion) should have at least one phlegmatic—more, if possible.  The phlegmatics are the natural peacemakers; they have a conciliating effect on others. They are usually humble and gentle and never seem to get upset, no matter what the circumstances, and they never hurry (which can sometimes be a wee, tiny bit of a problem).  They are kindhearted and sympathetic and never lack for friends because they make time for their friends.  Phlegs tend to be spectators in life, not getting too involved with the activities of others; they would rather listen than talk.  They tend to have a very dry sense of humor and a unique capability of seeing something humorous in others and in the things that they do.  The phlegmatics have an eye for detail and retentive minds which often enable them to be good imitators.  People in this group tend to come closer to being a totally balanced person than do any of the other temperaments.  They rarely function in the extremes or excesses of life but usually walk down the middle, thus avoiding conflict and decision on either side.  They are very competent and capable of leadership, but they would prefer working behind the scenes.
As babies and children, they are the easiest of all the temperaments to get along with.  Very little upsets them; they like to have friends to play with but are just as happy playing alone.  They are happy wherever they are and will tolerate a flexible schedule.  They do, however, like for their environment (room) to be neat and in order.
As drivers, phlegmatics are usually the slowest of all the temperaments.  They are usually the last ones to leave an intersection, and they rarely change lanes.  Most phlegmatics do not use freeway/interstate entrance ramps properly because they tend to want to slow down and almost come to a stop before entering the traffic instead of the opposite.  As teenagers, your phlegmatics will get few, if any, tickets and will rarely have accidents but can actually be a road hazard!
Phlegmatics—How to Get Along With Them and Help Them
1.       Realize that phlegmatics need direct motivation.  If a choleric parent has a phlegmatic child, the parent will need to help the phlegmatics learn how to set goals and achieve them.  Perhaps breaking goals down into attainable units will help them learn how to set up their own goals.  Sometimes just a compliment or a positive response is adequate.
2.      Don’t expect enthusiasm from phlegmatics; it simply is not in their nature to jump up and down or get all excited about most things. 
3.      Realize that they sometimes use procrastination as their method of control.  We all have methods of control which help us feel in charge of our own lives.  Since phlegmatics are rarely loud and/or outgoing, they can’t control their own lives as the other temperaments do.  Just be grateful that they have chosen a method that is not destructive—temper tantrums, anorexia, etc. 
4.      Insist that they make decisions.  This is not something that, as a general rule, they like to do, but they must learn that in everyday living, decision-making is a “must.”  It might help to remind them that decision-making is a form of controlling one’s own life. (see #3)
5.      Not only must they learn to make decisions, they must learn to accept and carry out responsibilities.  Phlegmatics can be very responsible people, but sometimes they must be given a little nudge in that direction. 
6.      Don’t allow them to be blamed for things they don’t deserve.  Because they are such peaceful people, they are often easy targets for some of the bolder temperaments. 
7.      Appreciate their even dispositions.  They are such pleasures to be around.  Florence Littauer believes that every family needs at least one phlegmatic.  And if they don’t have one, they should …import one!
Proverbs 15:4—Gentle words [as by a phlegmatic] cause life and health;
griping brings discouragement.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Taming of the Text, Tweet, and Post by Jennifer Strecker

The Taming of the Text, Tweet and Post
I’m sure when James wrote about the taming of the tongue he did not anticipate the social media blowout that would be Text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and now Snapchat. As I understand it, My Space is becoming obsolete. I guess to sum it up, my husband has often said to me, “Jen, it’s not what you say; it’s HOW you say it.”
My 19 year-old daughter, Sydney has become extremely adept at determining the mood, or as I call it, the weather forecast (fair to partly cloudy), created by a text, post, tweet, or chat.
She has had 2 teenage relationships in her short life. The first was in 11th grade. I remember her getting upset when she got a text from her then boyfriend which read as follows: “OK Sydney.”  When she showed me the text I reasoned that it was an adequate response to her previous text of, “Do whatever you want. That’s fine with me.” It sounded copacetic enough.  “No mom, you don’t understand. He’s REALLY mad!”
I didn’t understand. I still have difficulty understanding. However, I have garnered a slight edge for those of you who will need this ominous skill to assist your young daughters (and sons) in the future.
Response in text ( from the boyfriend)
Meaning in Context (to the receiver-girlfriend)
Meaning out of Context (To the Parent)
He likes me
He’s happy with me
That person can’t spell
He’s upset and it’s really not OK
That person can’t spell
Short form of OK
All is well
All is well!
The one text that actually means “OK”
He’s upset and it’s really not OK
That person can’t spell
Vernacular for OK
All is well
He’s mad
Do whatever you want (which is not what the responder wants)
Great! That person is flexible
You can do “whatever” you want
That person is open to all options
He’s mad
Fine! Do whatever you want (which is not what the responder wants)
That person can’t spell
It’s “alright”
You can do whatever you want
All is well OR…
He’s upset and it is really not Cool
All is well
All is well!
A cute sign off
All is well
Sounds Good
All is well!
All is well!
He’s mad
Are you serious? Really? Whatever!
That person can’t believe what you just texted
That person wants to know if what you texted is really true
He is mad OR
See you later
Something is going to take place at a later time
See you later

For those of you who have not understood Snapchat, it is a one to ten second video stream that your child can respond to or not. Unfortunately, if they opt for the latter, the sender can feel rejected and confused.  
“No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison…. Out of the same mouth can come praise and cursing. “(James 3: 8, 10)
Put the word “text” into the previous sentence where you see the word “tongue” or “mouth.”  Encourage your children to communicate with friends, family and potential boyfriends/girlfriends in person. Admonish your children to confront their issues in real time, not in a “hashtag” on a tweet or Instagram. Explain to your children that subtleties in tone sent in a text effect the receiver just as much as if you have said it. Trails of sub tweets, Facebook posts and texts leave wounds that can be recalled instantly, over and over again.
It has been a daunting task to convince my daughter to call or visit someone in person when there is a question as to the intent or tone of a text or post instead of tweeting a subtle response for all to see.  My husband has said “any young man that tweets or texts a break-up message is not suitable for my daughter anyway.”  This, by the way (BTW), is a universal “no no.”
My Sydney is a lovely young lady and I am convinced she will be the wiser for taking some of our advice to heart.
I think I’m going to go tweet that! #loveher