Tag Archive | Christian parenting

Daddy’s at the Door, Mama’s got a Skillet

My sister, who is a grandparent, often hears from me that God’s plan for grandparents is different from those as a parent. Grandparents get to help, when allowed by parents, raise a child with life’s wisdom and the experience of parenting under their belts.

Parents go in head first the first time and learn as they go. They have their experience being parented, but parenting is another role altogether.

What is true for your child may not be what was true for you as a child. For example I made my first grade teacher mad (kindergarten wasn’t common then) because I could read. Our daughter’s kindergarten experience would have been much kinder, initially, had she known how to read simple words phonetically.

Every age, every age range has its own issues. Each generation faces problems intensified by media, expectations, instant gratification and one another. Each child is different. What works for one won’t work for another.

Our daughter has hit the Tween years. (A category not even in existence in my growing up years.) I understand the label and remember the feelings, when you’re not quite a child anymore but you’re not yet a teenager.
We’re just praying and working to parent our daughter through these years. Using the Bible as an instruction manual for us and for her.

What was acceptable behavior during church worship service, for example, when she was a child is no longer acceptable as a Tween and certainly won’t be as a teenager. When before we had to be sure that the only toy going with us to church was her treasured Charlie, we now have come to realize we have to ask about Nintendo’s, cell phones, tablets and whatever else she can use to distract herself and others from the worship service.

I often say our daughter should be a lawyer when she grows up because she is fabulous at looking and finding the loop holes in the rules. We can’t say don’t prank text. We have to specify don’t prank text anyone, including your father, uncle, cousin and anyone else your mind comes up with. And it’s not just the don’ts we have to specify either. The dos must be also.

We agreed to her beginning to wear some make-up with the agreement she would wash her face morning and night to help fight acne. We neglected to point out this was a “do” whether she decided to wear make-up that day or not. Our bad. Now we go back to wash your face twice a day, with this product, period. Make-up is still in question as a motivator.

There are days I feel like we’re living in the Brady Bunch episode where Greg is given a good dose of living by exact words. But this is our life, not television.

Our daughter also recently accepted Christ and is beginning to learn about God, how He works in our lives, how we obey Him and all the tenants of a Christian life in a deeper more personal way. There is much I feel compelled to teach her and that I try to model for her, things I tried to do before but feel even more strongly about now.

It is something I’m having to feel my way through. She is open to discussion at times and totally shut off at others. She’s considerate of my praying when she comes into a room sometimes and sometimes her need or want at the moment far outweighs God she believes.

And boys. Oh my, boys! There are celebrity crushes. There are “older boy” crushes. There are boys texting, boys calling, boys emailing, boys we know, at least know of, and some we’ve never heard of before. The other day when her father had taken her to the doctor I answered her cell phone and was informed the caller was her boyfriend. Before I thought I blurted out, “Really? I wasn’t aware she had one.”

Meanwhile her father and I keep praying for her and with her. We’re taking to heart even more the Biblical instruction to talk about God with our child throughout every part of the day and night, whenever opportunity arises or whenever we can make the opportunity happen. (Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 NIV)

We’re keeping the promise of Proverbs close to our hearts. (Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 NIV)
We’re doing our best to live our lives as examples to her of what being a daughter of God involves and means in every aspect of living.

Our daughter is not a little girl anymore. She doesn’t mold to correction as easily as she did before. She has her own ideas or has adapted the ideas of her friends or the media that are harder to illuminate with truth since she has the hatches fastened down. She is a Tween right on the verge of being a teen and tomorrow she’ll be an adult.

Meanwhile…

…boys, you best know, her Daddy is standing at the door watchful and praying. Her Mama’s praying too and there is a cast-iron frying pan right beside her.

Parenting a Tween,

–Donna a.k.a. Faye

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Another Woman’s Child-Part 1

There are lots of questions couples have about adoption. One of which is can they love someone else’s biological child as much as they would their own biological child. The desperate search for a way to have a baby can be heart breaking. Remember with me the journey Kevin and Sarah have in their quest for a child to call their own.

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The tears in his wife’s eyes, rolling down her face and falling unheeded onto her blazer made Kevin twisted him with guilt. He gripped her hand more tightly, fumbling with the key fob, silent in his fear. Internally he thought only how this was his fault.

“Kevin I just really feel God leading us to trust Him to provide and not to go through infertility treatments again of any kind.” Sarah had said.

“Honey trusting God to provide food, a job, or clothes is one thing, but last time I checked He didn’t walk around handing out babies.”

“Try telling Abraham and Sarah or Jacob and Rachel that Kevin.”

“That was Old Testament times. These are modern times,” he countered back picking up his mug-to-go and heading out the front door, “God uses modern science and medicine to work His miracles now.” He paused. “Just one more time? For me?…

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First Love

Being a parent doesn’t mean someone issues you “Parental Fix It” in a can like “Fix a Flat” even though that certainly sounds like a marvelous idea. One of the hardest parts of being a parent is witnessing your child hurting. It doesn’t matter how old they are, if they are hurt in any way it is hard for a parent to witness. It’s even worse when there is absolutely nothing you can do to ease the pain except hold them and pray.

One of the joys of parenthood is witnessing your child stepping out into life and making decisions that will be foundation stones for their life. Our daughter made such a decision recently at a Wednesday night worship service.

She had harbored a secret for the last few years and with only the nudging of the Holy Spirit, not only went forward to ask Jesus into her heart for rea,l but to admit that her previous public profession was made with the wrong motivation. She made her “fake” decision at a time in her life when she was acting out over the hurt and anger she had towards her biological mother who it seemed, to her, just up and left her and created a new family. Our daughter knew what she was doing was wrong but, she reasoned then as a child, if she was saved she could get into Heaven regardless of her behavior. Now, as her reasoning and decision making skills have expanded she realized the greater wrong was in lying to God, herself, us and her church.

We’re proud of her. It showed a lot of maturity on her part to realize she was wrong and step forward with no one telling her she should to right her wrong. She came home with such a peace in her eyes I was astonished and with an attitude change that has lasted!

Two days later, she is sobbing in my arms with her first broken heart. The two parts of parenthood I’ve already mentioned collided and we had a third piece of the parenthood picture, leading your child to do the right thing regardless of their own pain.

What and how it all came about isn’t important. Let me just say that the young man involved is a smart, funny, kind 13-year-old who truly cares about our daughter. He and his family live with his Asperger’s diagnosis and part of that, for him, makes crowds hard to tolerate. He wanted to go to the Homecoming game and dance with our daughter. He planned to go. He was excited to go. But despite his wants and his good intentions he left in the second quarter of the game.

My husband was with our daughter and this young man at the game. It was hard to see our daughter hurt like that firsthand, he wanted to leave and bring her home, but she braved the game out even though she found the dance to be too much to deal with on her own. It wasn’t until she was on her way home that the tears came and she walked into our bedroom, threw herself into my arms and wept.

Her initial reaction was to tell the young man a few things that weren’t going to help the situation, especially if she hoped to salvage a friendship out of the relationship. As parents though it was up to us to help her handle the situation in a way that would honor God.

We wouldn’t let her text the teenage boy and “break up” for we didn’t want her to “do unto another and have it done unto her” later. Despite modern societies obsession with electronic communication it doesn’t mean it’s the right way to handle letting others know what you’re thinking or feeling.

Gently we reminded her of the times and ways this young man had shown her he cares deeply for her. When the two of them are together the light and laughter in their eyes blows us away. He was her defender when they went to the same school and stood by her even when she was making really rotten decisions for herself after she broke his new eyeglasses on purpose. We reminded her of his Asperger’s and how, although it was terribly painful, it was the Asperger’s part of him that hurt her, not all of him. It wasn’t deliberate. He truly didn’t understand how deeply he would hurt her. Someone hurting you on purpose, or unavoidably doesn’t give you a license to hurt them back.

Our daughter’s first broken heart over a boy. She’s handled it well. She’s made her decision that perhaps they will best be a part of each other’s lives as friends and she knows that for him to be a part of her life that the social situations they are in will need to be thought out to ensure he and she are comfortable and can have fun. She knows it is possible, they’ve done such things before. But a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship or simply a friendship that involves anything in a crowd without his parents is unlikely to occur. To want those things, football games and dances, parades, fairs and hayrides; doesn’t make her a bad person or selfish. They are both way too young to have a serious relationship and her social development is also important. Plus it is a step in teaching her the things she will need to consider when she’s older and ready for a more mature relationship.

Above all else, her falling in love with Jesus came at the perfect time, as does God’s timing always fall. Prior to that Wednesday night decision our daughter wouldn’t have handled the Friday night crushing disappointment well at all. When she got out of the car this morning to go into school I wasn’t concerned she’d act out and I’d be getting a phone call later today from her principal.

As a parent I drove off with my own smile on my face. First love. Yes, our daughter is on the path to eternity with Jesus and He’s her first love, above even herself. I know there are still tough times ahead for her, other broken hearts over other boys (or the same one) but I believe too she will come to have her heart broken for the things that break God’s heart. Maybe if all I can do is hold her and pray for her or simply pray for her during those times she weeps for what makes God weep then I am doing the greatest part of my job as her mother after all.

A praying mother,

–Faye

Happy Birthday

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:9-12 NIV
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Every year we take up the task of planning how to celebrate our daughter’s birthday.  For the first five years of her life tradition held for a trip to Chuck E Cheese, whether it was a full pizza/game party or just a family outing. Then the pizza parlor/arcade closest to our home went out-of-business and so ended the tradition.

It was around the second grade that our daughter began hating her birthday.  The acting out behaviors would begin late July, early August and last sometimes until October.  She becomes easily agitated, her temper is quick to flare up, her responses to requests to do her chores or homework surly and disrespectful, she is in constant need of reassurance of our safety and our love and all because she hates her birthday?  The birthday is the object of her anger but what she hates is the symbolism of her growing up.  Our daughter would like to stay five forever!

This year we are midway to her birthday and the tween hormones are also adding flavor to the cake.  Not only is she making the last steps of childhood as she starts high school, changes classes on her own, has a locker with a tricky combination lock but her two best friends have moved out of her life.  One went back to live with her parents and the other decided to just move on to other kids.

Parenting isn’t for the weak of spirit, that’s for sure!   Our daughter asks for many things during this crisis time of her life.  Some are reasonable, some are indulgences, some are impossible, and some possible and within our means but bad for her in the long term. 

Last night when my husband and I took our family prayer time to surround her with ourselves, our love and prayers I thought about the words Jesus said recorded in Matthew 7:9-12.  Our daughter has to be secure in her life regardless of her age changes.  She needs to know that while a birthday is a blessing to celebrate, it is not a time to throw God’s prescription for life out of the window.  Her dad and I are believers saved by grace, not perfect by any means, and we are capable of making parenting mistakes.  But God is incapable of making a mistake.

God, Our Father, will not give her what can hurt her.  He may gift her with challenges to teach her to rely on Him, but no vindictive suffering or self-indulgent excesses. We are all refined in the fires of life.

Our daughter, and we, will be just fine as we get through this birthday.  She may never enjoy getting older, but we pray and work towards her acceptance of this annual event because as her parents we want to give her good things.

There are those children though whose parents would give them a stone instead of bread or a snake instead of fish. Or black eyes and broken ribs instead of birthday cakes and happy wishes.  There are also those who in the name of love will spend incredible amounts of money and time using a birthday as an excuse to be overly indulgent and another way of teaching their child to be self-centered. For some kids birthdays are no celebration because they are not cherished, not loved, whether over-indulged or abused they suffer harm.  Our daughter is fortunate that this isn’t the case with her.

Never saying no, not setting limits, and not having clear boundaries is a recipe for a parenting disaster.  While always saying no, having barricades instead of boundaries and letting the only limit be the sky is equally a recipe for a parenting disaster.  Loving your child as God loves them, however, is a recipe that has the most hope of being one for God’s type of success. 

Sometimes the world clouds our vision of which parent type is the one providing fish and bread and which are providing stones and snakes.  Jesus can clear up your vision if you are willing to allow Him too. This too is certain!

Parenting a tween.
-Faye

Scurrying Toward Adolescence

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(Photo the original work of this blogs author.  All rights reserved.)

Today is a special day in our home. Our daughter who in less than 60 days away from turning 12 is going to her first concert, Veggie Tales excluded. Appearing is one of the Nickelodeon/Disney boy bands and another female artist. We watch their T.V. shows and she adores one particular guy in the boy band.

Going means a 3 1/2 hour drive to an amphitheatre in a neighbouring state. A trip I could be making but choose not to so our daughter can go and not have the burden of my wheelchair and needs. Instead my oldest niece has taken the day off to take her.

Her first trip this far without Mom and Dad and her first concert to see her first dream crush, that’s a lot. We trust my 22 year old niece. We trust our daughter. This is a rite of passage into adolescence.

Have we given her roots deep enough to support her wings to fly? Has our training in God’s ways been enough to help her follow them faced with new choices?

Yesterday, it seems, she was a tiny baby asleep on my chest. She was learning to walk. Saying her first words, sentences and developing her own personality. Didn’t we just walk her into her first day of school? Witness her decision to ask Jesus into her heart and believers baptism?

I won’t cry today, at least in front of her. For she is still our daughter who is anxious for this day to proceed and asking if we have a baby bottle for her Pooh bear. True she is scurrying toward adolescence and I can’t slow her down but God reminds me of His instruction and His promise.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”. -Proverbs 22:6

Our daughter’s days of testing her faith against the world will come. They must come. And then too with prayer cover and our own faith we will cling to God’s Word.

Our daughter too must learn to cling while hurrying toward adulthood.

-Faye

Necklines, Hemlines & Blocks

As a Minister to Youth a couple decades ago I would find myself reminding some of our female youth that when they wore short skirts to church then went bounding up the stairs things would show they didn’t mean to be seen. I always felt as if I was speaking strictly for my own benefit for repeatedly they would say, “Miss Faye in church men shouldn’t be looking!”

I would counter with, “Of course they shouldn’t, but frankly men are visual creatures and when you offer them visual treats their eyes are going to be drawn to them, in church or not. Plus, do you really want males in church or out of church to see what you are displaying?”

Fast forward a decade plus and I am having a similar conversation with my niece over an eighth grade graduation dress, then a senior prom dress. Again, it seemed like a useless conversation.

With our own daughter my husband and I started early to correct behavior and to teach her modesty. We’ve tried to instill in her not that her body is something to be ashamed of or that is “dirty” but that there are special parts of her body that deserve special consideration and that are private. It has not always been easy to teach modesty to a young girl in this day and time.

Fashion has seemed to dictate clothes for girls that are as revealing as their adult counterparts. We often struggle with finding appropriate clothing that is going to allow our daughter to feel good about herself in the way God would want. Low necklines, short hem lines, tight fits and thin material. Plus, the lack of garments such as slips available for girls!

Yet with our daughter the message seems to have gotten through. At least she knows what we will say yes to and no to when it comes to her clothing and when she is looking at what characters on television or what models in magazines are wearing she remarks, “Geez, didn’t their Mama tell them to put some clothes on?” Even the men in her life she expects to be appropriately dressed. When we passed a Jeep full of bare chested males whose bodies boasted tattoos and evidence of working out she yelled (inside the car), “Go put some shirts on! No one wants to look at your naked self or your tattoos.”

Sadly in church this Sunday I wanted to repeat my conversation with the youth of long ago, only with women of all ages.

The young lady who’s long in the back, short in the front dress that was made of material so thin you could see the color of her underwear when she walked across the front of the church.

The mature woman in the choir loft whose breasts were showing.

The lady in the front row of the congregation the men were having to look anywhere but in order not to get an eyeful.

The teens in skimpy spaghetti strapped tops.

The teenage boys and girls in jeans so tight I wouldn’t be amazed to learn that they had to soak in baby oil to get into them.

This wasn’t an unusual Sunday either, which makes it more of an issue. I remember the young woman who came to sing our special music one Sunday whose dress would have more appropriately labeled a sweater and had males all over the church blushing or gawking.

Yes, men have a responsibility to keep their thoughts pure and to not lust after females. Yes, they should be focused on worship in church. Yes they are responsible for their own decisions, actions, thoughts, feelings, impulses and sins.

But we women have responsibilities too and I believe one of those is to be modest in our clothing choices. Instead of referring you to what Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9 had to say directly about women’s clothing choices or Peter in 1 Peter 3:3 I want to draw your attention to I Corinthians 8:9 where Paul in discussing the eating of food scarified to idols but which I think can be aptly applied to my point.

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

Yes, I propose in the area of lust for the members of the opposite gender we all have our weak points. And knowing that I believe we all have a responsibility NOT to try to be a stumbling block to anyone. For if we are daring to dress with less modesty in the choice of clothing we have to go to worship the Lord our God in, WHAT are we choosing to wear outside the church?

The church is not a body of believers who are perfect, it is a body of believers who are sinners saved by grace who join together to learn about the Word of God, draw strength and encouragement from our church family and then to go into the world and tell others about Jesus and how He has changed our lives and can change theirs.

The world does not share those common goals.

Before anyone gets riled up thinking I am calling for a return to women covering themselves head to toe behind burlap sacks that is totally untrue. All I am saying is that we can choose to dress in ways that are attractive WITHOUT our breasts showing, our underwear being revealed or every curve or lack thereof we have being broadcast to anyone whose eyes happen to look our way. Along with that must also come an attitude change. If we want men to think of us as intelligent, kind, strong women capable of anything why would we want to advertise ourselves as objects for their sexual impulses? If we don’t want people to talk about how our clothing doesn’t fit us well, we might be wise to think modestly and wear clothing in the size appropriate for our bodies EVEN if that number doesn’t make you feel happy or that hemline make you feel young.

Choosing modesty,

-Faye

EVIL? Or not?

White House at Night

Wednesday, January 16, 2013  the President of the United States announced a two-fold plan towards gun control in America.  Part one of his plan calls for actions based on “Executive Actions”, which allows the President to bypass Congress and put into place policies as he sees fit.  There were 23 of these actions and The President avoids a Congressional blockage that might have prevented the policies from going into action.  (For details on these actions, please see the end of this blog.)

Also this week New York’s governor signed into place what is touted as the strictest gun control laws in the United States.  Those include limiting gun ownership from specific types of guns.  The aim is reportedly to get rid of any assault weapons possessed by the general population.  (I understand the laws left out provision for law enforcement to have weapons already in use so that is going to be added before the entire package goes into effect.)

In the Sunday, January 13th edition of the Birmingham News this blogger learned further information on the ongoing debate of whether or not to place firearms in Alabama schools, who those guns should be handled by or whether more resource officers in each school were called for.  There were many questions, scenarios and possibilities and way too few answers.

Two very hot topics right now that feed off each other are school safety and gun control.  Both of which I find difficult to pinpoint exactly what God’s Word tells us to do about.  The Old Testament is filled with reports of wars, God telling leaders what to do to defeat their enemies.  The New Testament doesn’t discuss this as much, it seems to me it’s aim is to instruct us on how to live our lives focused on a relationship with Jesus Christ and how to help others find their relationship with Jesus.  I want to know where God stands on this, not only to know how to navigate these politically charged waters of our nation but because they took on new emphasis for our household on December 19, 2012 when these two issues walked in the front door of our home.  (Symbolically, not physically.)

(For the record, our household does not have a firearm in it.  Not that we’ve ruled out the necessity but more for financial reasons we’ve not purchased a gun.)

But on Wednesday, December 19 our daughter woke up sick and was at home with me (it was the first time I’ve been grateful for my child to be sick) when I learned that a 21-year-old male had been arrested for making a terrorist threat against a school by the Blount County Sheriff Deputies and Oneonta Police.  He made the alleged threats via Facebook and some of those who saw the postings continued to encourage him to continue his online venting and others told him it wasn’t a good time to be talking along the lines of being frustrated enough to shoot up an elementary school in view of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

This young man, who has his defenders and accusers from multiple sources, was being held without bond until a mental evaluation could be conducted.  Whether or not he has been released on bond at the time of this posting is unknown.  There was no follow-up on what is now a three-week old story.  Some say because the young man didn’t say he was “going to” but that he “could” shoot up an elementary school or that he said, “…God knows no one would have made it out alive if I was the shooter…” and not “when I am the shooter” means clearly he was joking.  Others read his postings and decide it is a threat period.  I would also note, from my interpretation of the comments posted on al.com that the most do agree that the timing of the posts on Facebook were insensitive and that this young man apparently lacks the ability to decide what is appropriate “joking” material and what isn’t.  Some, even those defending him, label him as acting with stupidity, being a jerk and a few other names this blogger won’t repeat.

I was puzzled most by the lack of media coverage to our threat, reminded of how I felt the night of the day my mother passed away.  The world had kept turning, people went on about their lives when it felt as if my world ended.  Part of me recognized that the rest of the world didn’t know my mother and it couldn’t be the same for them as me.  So I tried to be rational.  In view of what had occurred at Sandy Hook a Facebook threat was minor.  It was hard.

Recognizing that our school system is rural and small it still seemed like an under-reaction to me for this event not to receive more than a couple of news stories on the al.com website and no televised coverage that I was able to find.  What really changed my perspective this week was when I was searching for follow-up information for this blog post on al.com and I found the second article about this December 19 threat which gave a brief description and links to other stories in Alabama the week of our scare.  Including the Blount County threat there were six arrests in Alabama of persons ranging from the age of 12 to 55 who made threats of terrorism against a school.  Six in ONE week.

  1. In Anniston a 12-year-old was overheard making a threat against the school and was placed in the custody of juvenile authorities.
  2. In Dothan, Tuesday, December 18 a 55-year-old woman caused Jerry Lee Faine Elementary school to be in lockdown from 8:06-9:20 a.m. and was arrested for making a terrorist threat against the school.  She was being held at the time of the article on $2500 bond.
  3. In Huntsville a student was arrested at Pinnacle School (an alternative school) for making a terrorist threat against the school and he did so in the presence of a police officer.  He too was in the custody of juvenile authorities.
  4. In North Courtland an 18-year-old student was heard threatening to harm “little kids” and his overheard statement earned him the experience of trouble with law enforcement.
  5. In Birmingham, Tuesday, December 18 a 29-year-old male was being held on a $15,000 bond for making a terrorist threat against Phillips Academy.
  6. In Cleveland we had our own experience as I’ve already stated.

Everyone of these events cited that the tragedy of Sandy Hook contributed to the reactions of either the ones making the threats (copy cating) or the ones receiving the threats (school systems).  Face it, no one wanted to risk not reacting strongly enough and being wrong.  However, one school system did say they hadn’t changed their policies, the threat at any time would have received the same reaction because no one wants to start making adaptations from a knee jerk reaction to a tragedy such as what had occurred at Sandy Hook.

Not surprisingly I was also sent a link to a YouTube video with media clips that “prove” reports around the Sandy Hook massacre were made up, covered up and plots of government officials to force gun control down America’s throats.  I watched the video and my logical “think of this from all angles” mind immediately wanted to say, “Couldn’t these “errors” you’re citing have stemmed from the chaos and overwhelming emotions of the event in the first stages?”  Which of course is exactly what the main stream media is portraying, that in the first time frame of the killings things were said, people were chased as being potential suspects, the shooter was wrongly identified because human beings were reacting to the horror and made honest errors.

Yet, no one can manufacture the 26 people who died.  No one can alter the fact that one gunman set out to kill people that day.  He did so with guns owned by his first victim, his mother.

No one can alter the fact that even in the Deep South of Alabama, middle of the “Bible Belt”, in small rural communities evil lurks.  No one state, city, town, community has the lock on being the place evil does not exist.  It’s everywhere.

No one can change human beings, except the people themselves with the necessary help they need, who have what I perceive as distorted reasoning, horrible social skills, twisted senses of humor or seemingly lack enough intelligence to know you shouldn’t even tease about killing anyone.

No one can go back in time to when the Constitution of the United States of America was written and speak to the men who wrote it, who devised it, who fought to have the right to establish it to know what their mind sets were.  Personally, I’m tired of people who say things like, “The forefathers never intended….never thought…” to strong-arm the taking of our personal rights which also include the RIGHT TO THINK BEFORE YOU ACT, the RIGHT TO USE AND HAVE A CONSCIENCE.  I don’t see how we can logically expect our ancestors to have conceived of the need to have a Constitution or Bill of Rights or anything else that covered every possible situation and scenario.  I don’t think they could conceive of the world in which we are alive today period.  Not with all its technology or the way our government and overall population are acting and thinking.

My Bible tells me to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s (Matthew 22:15-21), to pray for those who persecute me (Matthew 5:43-48), to obey my masters (Ephesians 6:5-8), obey my leaders and submit to their authority (Hebrews 13:17), that as a Christian I am not living up to the world’s standard and I do not fight this world’s evil with weapons of the world (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).  The Old Testament laws of an eye for an eye were abolished by Jesus telling us to love one another, to turn the other cheek, to walk an extra mile with one who forces us to walk one with him (Matthew 5:38-42).

Yet it also offers me hope for EVERYONE of us has been given the greatest gift possible.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 N.I.V.)

What is the answer to assuring the safety of our children whether they are at home, at school or church, the movies or mall or anywhere else doing anything else?  I DON’T KNOW.

But I know this, I know the ANSWER GIVER and I know the only way to KNOW what the answer is can only be by more people turning to GOD than away from GOD.

-Faye

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

EMBARGOED UNTIL THE START OF THE PRESIDENT’S REMARKS

January 16, 2013

Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions

Today, the President is announcing that he and the Administration will:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

EMBARGOED

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

______________________________________________________________

The Best Investment in Our Children

Girl Holding Plant

Those of us who are parents are constantly faced with challenges in raising our children.  As our own daughter nears adolescent the issues become more delicate and complex.

MC900440671Our daughter is 11 years old and in the sixth grade and she is a worrier.  She worries to the point that she can become a crying, miserable mess of emotions just thinking of something going wrong.  Not just “big” things but little ones as well.  Just yesterday she was approaching tears in the store as we searched for new sneakers for her because she was worried that we would not find any that suited her needs.  So when my eye caught this sentence when flipping through a ladies magazine, “Yet even in happy times, my son had been a worrier;” I stopped to read the article.

Reading it further I did so in a sense of disbelief, for once I read the title and subtitle I1000405372 couldn’t help but feel my heart sink within me.  “Surely,” I was thinking, “this isn’t what it truly talks about.”  The article title is “The Fortune-Teller’s Gift.  A crystal ball.  Gleeful fibs.  And the best $10 I’ve ever spent.”

Summing up the article Ms. Maynard’s son who at the time the article is written about, was 11-years-old and in the sixth grade.  He had always been a worrier but that year the worries had overwhelmed him and he rarely smiled or laughed anymore.  His mother, seeing her son’s misery evident by his slumped shoulders and subdued countenance after a holiday performance at school spotted a shop advertising fortune telling for $10.  They stopped and the fortune teller, who the mother recognized from her previous employment as a fast-food worker, took her son into the fortune telling session.  Twenty minutes later her son reappeared and Ms. Maynard paid the $10.  She learned from her son how perfect the rest of his life was going to be.

He was going to have a wonderful life, go to college, be a movie or rock star and marry a nice girl.  They would be the parents of a boy and a girl while living in a great house with a pool.  He was going to live a long life as were all the members of his family.  Even though his mother knew the fortune teller was a fraud and given her son hope based on a lie she wasn’t concerned.  Her son did grow up and find that the fortune teller had lied and his life did have troubles and he did have to learn how to deal with the issues in life beyond our control.  Still, Ms. Maynard considers the $10 she spent the best investment she ever made.  Her son got the message she herself wanted him to understand at that time, “Don’t worry.  You’ll be OK.”

MP900177811As Christian parents this mother’s choice certainly isn’t our choice to help our daughter learn to handle her worries and fears.  Last night, to continue with the example of the “could be” shoe disaster while her father continued to look for shoes, I took a moment to touch her hand, look into her eyes and remind her we hadn’t looked at all the shoes yet and that this wasn’t the only store we could go to.  We would find her shoes.  We then continued our hunt and quickly found her a pair that met her needs, our budget and were still stylish.

Our responses to our daughter’s worries vary, depending on the fear, situation and the time we have in the moment.  We sometimes address it enough to ease her mind and return to the issue when emotions aren’t as stirred up or time permits a deeper exploration of the problem.  We encourage her to pray about everything and pray with and for her in her presence and in our own times with God.  Together we explore the Bible for the truth she needs.  We’ve made her life affirmation Jeremiah 29:11.

We’ve also sought professional counseling services for her as well as medication when it was something that required that intervention.  We do not discount that there are times when intervention for people of all ages needs to be aided by professional help or other resources.  But we do not forget to point her towards the ultimate resource for seeking guidance on her future, assurance for her worries and calmness for her heart – God.

It’s not my place to say Ms. Maynard made a bad decision.  It isn’t the decision I would make.  Yes, her son got the message she wanted him to get, that everything would be okay, but it was hope based on the words of a fortune teller and that doesn’t work for our family.  We don’t discount that there are people who practice things that are empowered for sources other than God but God’s word gives us some very clear understanding of how He views trusting practices such as fortune telling.  Specific scriptures relating to this issue are given below.

Indulge me this one question.  Of the investments we as parents make in our children everyday what do you consider your greatest investment?

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These are not the only scriptures pertaining to this subject in the Bible.  References are from the New Internation Version of the Bible.

Everyone should study God’s word on their own with the counsel of the Holy Spirit and the use of trustworthy resources.

“Acts 16: 16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.”

“Deuteronomy 18: 9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”

“II Chronicles 33: 1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 7 He took the carved image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your forefathers, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and ordinances given through Moses.” 9 But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites. 10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.”

“Galatians 5: 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

“Jeremiah 29: 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD. 10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” 15 You may say, “The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your countrymen who did not go with you into exile—“

Joey

This is a true story.  I know the people who live these lives.  Only the names* have been changed for protection of their privacy.

Joey* is a success story for Alabama’s foster care system.  We often hear the stories of failure but there are successful and good stories of the system working, they just don’t get the spotlight as often as the times the system isn’t successful do.

Joey, at the age of eight had enough wisdom to know he didn’t want to grow up in a home where drugs and alcohol were more necessary than food, shelter and clothing. Joey didn’t want to never know who that man was in his house when he came home from or went to school. A lot was wrong in the home Joey was being raised in and Joey knew if he didn’t get out then he’d grow up to do what he saw his mom and older siblings doing; dealing and using drugs.  So Joey ran away to the Department of Human Services.  He then became a child placed in the state foster care system, as did his younger brothers, of which one had learning disabilities.

Even though he made the decision to leave his family, Joey was having a hard time letting go of the life he’d had for eight years.  He had an even harder time facing how his mother’s actions were saying she valued her drugs more than him or his younger brothers.  She certainly couldn’t give up drugs to get them back, so what else was he to think?  Until she did she couldn’t provide adequate housing or provisions for her youngest children.

It took DHR several foster home placements before DHR found him a home that fit Joey and his needs.  Carla and Jesse Carter* accepted Joey as he was and he felt their love for him in many ways.  He also knew he loved them too but it was hard to let the old life go. Having had to raise himself, living by his own rules, doing what he felt he had to in order to simply have enough to eat, these were the past realities for Joey and it was hard to let someone else take care of those things.  It was all he had ever known.   Plus, there was the hope nearly all foster children shelter in their hearts; the hope their parents will change.

Joey was a therapeutic foster child because of his emotional needs. He was on the verge of becoming a teenager now, at the age of 12, and he was changing in many ways. His behavior escalated and then his foster-father, Jesse, died after a battle with lung cancer from working in the coal mines. Joey’s acting out his unspoken inner feelings made him defiant, angry, sullen and obstinate.  He refused to obey the Carter’s house rules. He added much to Carla’s grief and refused all her attempts to help, love and support him. Carla had to admit she couldn’t handle Joey’s behavior on her own while she and her older children were mourning Jesse’s death too. She explained to Joey what the family was going through and told him they needed to work together to move on without Jesse.

Counseling, behavioral modification, respite services and Carla’s unending love didn’t help. Joey grew more out of control and violent in his anger. Her broken heart from her husband’s death now shattered feeling that she was unable to help Joey. Reluctantly and with much sorrow Carla called and asked the foster care agency to remove Joey.

He went through more foster care placements but Joey was out of control, his behavior ruled by his anger. He had many things to be angry about, Joey was angry his mother refused to change, not to get him or his siblings back, not if it required giving up drugs. He was angry Jesse died.  He was angry he had to change foster homes.  Everything and everybody was against him, in his mind.  Everything was a reason to be angry.  Finally Joey’s anger caused him to be so out of control that he found himself in an inpatient psychiatric facility.

Now forced to be quiet and still and however reluctantly, to take part in counseling and group therapy as well as to take medication, Joey had time to think.  Once more Joey’s wisdom managed to at last rule his emotions. He remembered Carla’s promise to him, when he was willing to change she would be waiting. Joey thought about why he left his mother’s house to begin with, not wanting to be the type person she and his older siblings were.  He realized his behavior, his choices were as destructive as his mother and older siblings and even without drugs he was headed down the wrong road. Joey begged someone to call Carla.

Carla came. Joey went back home, the only real home he’d ever had. He started trying at school and his grades came up, he was then allowed to play basketball by the school. He began to date and to work part-time jobs.

Joey, Carla and her two older adopted children became a solid family. The court wanted to sever Joey’s biological mother’s parental rights but every time his mother would seem to have stopped doing drugs and was willing to get her life together to get her kids back.  But every time she would not stay clean long enough for her kids to come back to her home.  It was a painful see-sawing experience for all involved.

Wanting very badly for Carla to adopt him so he could be her “legal” son was something Joey talked about with Carla regularly.  His heart only accepted the reality of that not happening when Carla told him, “Joey, you are my son.  In my heart, and in Jesse’s, you have been our son since the day you crossed the threshold into our home.  Now nothing can change the fact that biologically your mother is your mother.  Nothing can change that Daisy* is going to do what Daisy is going to do.  Everyone who matters knows you are my son.  Gene* and Alicia* know that when I pass away everything gets split three ways and it’s in my will that way.  Put your energy into your hopes and dreams for your future and I will always be here to cheer you on.”

That’s exactly what Joey did too.   He graduated high school with grades good enough to get into one of the best universities in the country. He started attending college, living on his own, through our agency’s independent living program and he worked part-time.  He soon discovered that though his basic needs were met it was a challenging lifestyle.  So Joey thought long and hard and after talking to Carla he enlisted in the Navy.

He spent time in Iraq, volunteering to go with a team of Marines and he went to Cuba to be a guard at the military prison there.  Joey managed to see many parts of the world while in the Navy and experience many different types of work.  When his enlistment was up he returned home, a new wife beside him, and resumed his college career.

Joey and Eileen* found marriage wasn’t  as simple as they thought.  Eileen was accustom to having plenty of money and Joey, working part-time and going to school full-time wasn’t making much money.  Eileen found the adjustments to life in the South from life in the North ones she felt she just couldn’t make.  So even though she was expecting their son she left Joey and moved back home to her parents.

Carlos* was born premature and has some medical struggles.  Eileen and Joey agreed they are better people when they are not together and that divorce is best for them. A failed marriage was not in Joey’s plans and he accepts his own role in the break-up of his and Eileen’s marriage but he is as much a part of Carlos’ life as he can be and financially Carlos is well taken care of now.

From a desperate eight year old little boy forced to take on his own survival to a member of a loving “permanent” foster family to the U.S. Navy to a college graduate to the owner of his own security business, Joey has proven that the foster care system can produce productive and honorable members of the world community.  Especially with those like Joey who learn that they do indeed control some of their lives with the decisions they make and who find foster parents like Jesse and Carla.  The Carter’s, especially Carla, were willing to work hard with the foster child who was struggling like Joey had been.

There should be successful foster home placements for all the kids like Joey.  If you’re considering adoption consider foster care as an option to find the child that is right for you.  There are many successful adoptions through the foster care system.  Can you and your family help a child like Joey?  Also, don’t overlook the older child or sibling groups that are in need of forever families too.

Another Woman’s Child-Part 4

(From AWC-Part 3)  “Across town another group of people were praying too.  They were praying about how to help Kevin and Sarah.”

Just after the New Year rolled around the small group leader of the Bible study group Kevin and Sarah attended regularly called and asked to come over for a few minutes after they had finished their Saturday morning breakfast.  An hour later as they sat across from one another at their kitchen table with cups of coffee Cliff got right to the point quickly.

“Guys,” Cliff began, “about a week before Christmas our group had a meeting.”

Sarah and Kevin shot each other glances.  Had they forgotten something?  Their small group was like extended family to them and they never missed an opportunity for fellowship with them.

Cliff laughed and held up his hand, “It’s okay, you didn’t stand us up or anything.  We planned this little get together so we could, well, frankly, talk about you.”

“Talk about us how?” Sarah asked.

“How we could best help you adopt.”

Kevin sighed and shook his head, “Cliff we appreciate that but really, what can you all do but just what you have been doing?  Praying.”

“Kevin, Sarah we’re going to add onto your house.  Four more bedrooms, two more baths and bump out the kitchen.  Ted is a general contractor, Reagan is an architect and she’s going to draw up the plans, the Mill’s brothers are homebuilders, contractors, Keith’s a plumber, Tommy’s a licensed electrician and all the rest of us have enough experience that with such qualified supervisors we can do this.”  Cliff sat back and let the news soak into the couple’s minds for a few minutes and then before either could bring it up, he added, “Oh, and we’ve collected enough in a special love offering at the church to cover to cost of the addition.   So, sure hope you guys are ready to get started for Reagan will be here to take some measurements and look at your current house plans in about ten minutes and we plan to start construction next Friday evening.”

Sarah stammered, “W-W-Why in such a hurry?”

Cliff grinned, “Because there are six children waiting on us.”

Kevin and Sarah drew deep breaths and started to cry.

True to Cliff’s word the following Friday a swarm of people arrived at Sarah and Kevin’s and had things ready to lay the new foundation for the next morning.  Work processed regularly and steadily.  Many weekends Kevin and Sarah weren’t even home.  They spent as many weekends as possible getting to know six children.

By the time the adoption was final the kids had already decorated their new rooms and settled into new schools.   Kevin and Sarah were adjusting too but throughout the days and nights, long after they stood before the probate judge and the adoptions were finalized their homes walls echoed with laughter and prayer.

That Christmas after the last child was upstairs pretending to be going to sleep their new parents sat in front of their not as perfectly decorated Christmas tree waiting to fill six stocking hung from their mantle the dad began to chuckle as the mom slipped to her knees to rearrange the packages beneath one more time wanting them to be in six sections without looking like six separate sections.

“What’s so funny?”  Sarah asked, looking up at him.  “Did you put something in my hot chocolate?”

“No I did not.  But I am remembering a conversation we had right here last year when you were afraid you’d never be able to love another woman’s child.  I’d say you’ve overcome that obstacle quite well.”  Kevin said, kneeling down to kiss his wife.

Sarah returned his kiss and smiled.  “I guess I have some of my Father’s heart for another woman’s child after all.”