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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • Fatherhood: Reflections

    Posted on October 25, 2014 by Family Christian

     

    After writing his first post titled Fatherhood, Steve felt led to continue the conversation.

    As I continue to reflect on my friend Joel from Bolivia, who was born with severe permanent disabilities, I am stirred by an expanding respect and even love for Joel’s parents. Even though I only met his Mom briefly on a site visit in a local child development center supported by World Vision, she is impacting me today.

     

    What stirs me is the requirement of endurance and steadfast love to care for a disabled child. The parents of a special needs child, upon reflection, are some of the most dedicated, committed, and selfless people I can think of. It stirs and inspires me as I dwell on this.

     

    Think about it:

    ·         Quite possibly the same routine, every day, for a life time

    ·         The setting aside of personal freedoms and independence quite possibly for a life time

    ·         The requirement to serve every day in the most back stage out of sight ways – for a life time…

     

    Yet they are faithful.

     

    Then I think about who I cheer for and give encouragement to. I cheer on the quarterback of the local team, or the lead actress in the musical. I cheer on the artist or musician who stuns me with their gifts and talents. I congratulate the parents of the valedictorian for their accomplishments in raising a stellar student. Now to be clear, these are all good and worthy of support. What eats at me is that I have not cheered as enthusiastically for the parents of the child with disabilities who are serving with endless dedication for the well-being of that special child. For these too I should and must raise my voice.

    BOLIVIA

     

    I am convicted that when I meet or happen across these incredible children and their inspiring parents it will be my privilege to call out in them the profound nature of their faithfulness. I am learning that faithfulness is one the most admirable character traits, yet incredibly difficult to achieve.  Faithfulness, when it is displayed, as with so many parents serving special needs children, it is over looked or under appreciated. Faithfulness is such a powerful attribute and so incredibly difficult to accomplish.

     

    Think about it:

    ·         It requires that I execute the mundane and routine as unto the Lord… every day for a life time

    ·         It requires that I set aside the pursuit of independence to be dependent on God and His will for me…every day for a life time

    ·         It requires that I may need to serve in the most back stage out of sight ways, out of love for Jesus…every day for a life time

     

    These parents are motived by a powerful love that compels them to serve. They faithfully serve, and serve and serve. They are doing what I am called to do – Wake Up – Serve – Repeat.

     

    To the amazingly faithful parents of special needs children, I can say, “Well done good and faithful servant”. I will cheer on the faithful servant in them that is such an example to me.

     

    May each of us run in such a way that we hear the cheer of our Lord and Savior, even now in the daily routine of service, “Well done good and faithful servant”.  This life we lead as followers of the Christ is hard, yet may we be found faithful.

    Written by:

    Steve Biondo

    SVP, HR & Organizational Development at Family Christian

  • The Slavery of Striving

    Posted on October 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Angela

    "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

    "Why are you doing all these things?" she asked me over iced tea.

    Her boldness startled me. Sure, I had just filled my friend's ears with my true feelings about the craziness of my life. But I figured I was only doing what everyone else was doing. All the things I had to do.

    She could see I was drowning in all sorts of good activities that were taking the joy out of motherhood. I woke up daily with knots in my stomach and struggled through days as a homeschooling mom, shadowed by four little people. I was a hurried, overwhelmed mom who wished life could somehow be different.

    To my friend, it was simple. What if you just did less?

    I objected immediately. I was already convinced I should have been doing so much more — and performing so much better. But as I considered her question, my yoke became obvious. I realized that in my striving, I was living under a yoke of slavery. I was missing the freedom Jesus came to earth to give me.

    In Galatians 5, Paul reminds the believers that Christ came to set us free from the yoke of the Law. Or in other words, freedom from having to follow all the rules perfectly.

    Obeying the Law without error was impossible. But before Jesus came, this was how followers of God had to live. Then Jesus removed this heavy burden and provided freedom through His sacrifice on the cross.

    Yet, just as freed slaves sometimes ran back to their old masters, the first followers of Jesus were easily deceived into living under the Law again. Slavery was all they knew.

    The Apostle Paul knew it would take effort to walk the new way of freedom, to walk in the truth. In our key verse, Paul challenged the church: Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by this yoke.

    In many ways, my striving resembled theirs. Sure, I wasn't technically a slave and I didn't have to worry about keeping the Law. And in my head, I knew I didn't need to prove my worth to God. But I found myself trying to prove my significance in some way. I lived under imaginary laws and unwritten expectations.

    I didn't even know what those laws were, just that I was bent on keeping or exceeding them. Because I needed to. Or so I thought.

    My friend's direct question that day helped reveal to me I was indeed living under a yoke. I desperately felt the need to prove myself as a mom. I reflected long on that realization and continued to ask why.

    Because of Jesus, I don't need to prove myself anymore. Jesus is enough. His grace alone is sufficient. When God looks at me, He sees His Son. He sees that I am His and He is mine. The more I grasp this truth, the more I'm changed.

    Do you know that weight of expectation too? Today the Word of God has good news. Instead of striving, we can rest confidently, standing firm in our freedom, our gift from Jesus.

    Stand firm, friends.

    Lord, help me live my days centered in this freedom You've given me. You did not die for me to remain a slave to perceived expectations or anything else. Thank You for breaking the bars of this yoke. Help me walk as a free woman. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Leviticus 26:13, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high." (NIV)

    Romans 6:19, "Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy." (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Think about the whys behind all you do in a typical week. Are you striving to meet unrealistic expectations and then stressed because of them? How are you burdened by a heavy yoke of slavery?

    Ask God to help you discern where you need to do less and to enable you to walk in freedom.

    © 2014 by Angela Parlin. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Nutrition Group Means Life for Orphaned Boy

    Posted on October 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Nutrition Group Means Life for Orphaned Boy

    By Laura Reinhardt

    Derre ADP, Mozambique

    Maternal Child Health, Food

    Thank you World Vision for providing us with this post and the photos.

     

    Summary: Madalena took in her orphaned nephew, but he suffered from severe malnutrition. Then a group of parents from a nutrition group provided her with training and he began to grow. Now he’s a healthy & hearty 3-year-old.

     

    A mother feeds a healthy porridge, which she’s just learned to make at a community training, to her young infant. Then she tries in vain to feed her younger child suckling at her breast. The child refuses to be comforted. The mother herself is malnourished and has no milk with which to feed the child.

     

    In 2011, Madalena Mulimba found herself in a similar situation. Only the malnourished infant was her sister’s boy, Betinho. Her sister died from complications during childbirth.

     

    Madalena took Betinho home to care for him, despite having children of her own.  “I felt compassion for the child,” says Madalena. “If God allows it, the child will grow up with us.”

     

    Madalena took cassava root, squeezed the juice from it, and added sugar to feed Betinho. But he failed to thrive. “The baby was so thin,” Madalena says. She puts her hand around her wrist to show how tiny he was. “The other children didn’t want to hold him, because he was so small.”

     

    Then she took Betinho to the hospital to get his vaccinations. Madalena remembers the doctor’s question to her: “Where will I vaccinate him because he’s so thin?”

     

    Hope Through Nutritional and Health Training

    Madalena’s first cousin, Anastacia Pais Barroso, came to visit with a group of parents. Thanks to child sponsorship in their area, World Vision’s Derre Area Development Program (ADP), community members had funds to form the Galave Health Committee in 2000. Part of the committee was a parents’ group who received training from World Vision.

     

    This group of mothers and fathers then scouted their community to find malnourished children. They taught the struggling parents or guardians new ways to increase the nutrition of the food they were feeding their children.

     

    The key to the success of the program was that the healthy meals used local foods that were readily available. Parents didn’t have to buy expensive ingredients since these items could be found right in their own community.

     

    Joao Siquissone, World Vision’s Health Assistant, says it’s important that parents learn from other parents within the community. “When it’s moms and dads teaching the interaction, the community is more receptive.” It can be difficult for one World Vision worker to reach as many people as the committee would.

     

    Those committee meets once a month for planning, once a week for training, and each person visits between 10 to 15 families each week to look for signs of child malnutrition and answer questions parents might have.

     

    Joao says that the local health clinic used to see between 15 and 20 malnourished children per month. Now they might not even see one case.

     

    The training also focuses on diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, and HIV. They learn how to prevent diseases but also about the special nutritional needs of patients with HIV.

     

    As a result of this group, the community now understands the nutritional value and importance of each locally grown food group.  They’ve even started to change the crops they’re growing. Where they used to grow lots of cotton, now they grow foods like sesame.

     

    Another component of the Galave Health Committee is a group of community volunteers who go into the community to teach about sanitation and hygiene. They encourage people to build latrines to eliminate disease. They teach people the importance of a drying rack for the dishes instead of just washing and drying on the ground. And they instruct people in the proper way to dispose of their garbage.

     

    The final group of the committee is composed of community leaders who support the other two groups. When those nutrition group or the sanitation and hygiene group face problems they can’t solve, they can escalate them to the community leader group.

     

    World Vision helped set up this type of committee format to encourage the community to take charge of their own health, spreading their knowledge about nutrition, disease prevention, and sanitation and hygiene. This method allows the news to travel faster and reach more people.

     

    Betinho’s Turnaround

     

    The nutrition group taught Madalena to take cornflour, sugar, and egg together and make it thin enough so that Betinho could take it. He began to grow.

     

    They also demonstrated to Madalena how to take sweet potato or cassava leaves to serve over chima, a dish somewhat similar to soft polenta, but with finer cornmeal to make a healthier curry for her whole family.

     

    The new nutrition affected more than Betinho. “All the children have good health,” she says. Madalena, her husband Francisco, and her children all learned new sanitary practices.

     

    They built a drying rack on which to put their wet pots, pans, and dishes. They began to sweep the area around the house so as to make it less appealing to mosquitos and other bugs. They also learned to dig holes for trash to keep away bugs and rodents.

     

    The training has made a world of difference to Madalena, Betinho, and the entire family.

     

    “I was desperate,” says Madalena about when Betinho was malnourished. “But after [the training] I felt a kind of hope.” Now the family jokes that Betinho is so big that he’ll soon be the man of the house.

  • Fatherhood

    Posted on October 17, 2014 by Family Christian

    Throughout my life as I considered or even dreamt about fatherhood, my thoughts always focused on me nurturing, supporting, and loving on children that were 100% healthy. The thought never crossed my mind that I may be called upon to serve a child that was disabled.

     

    By God’s grace, my wife and I were given three children who are in every way healthy. We have invested our energy, time and resource into each of three children over the past 27 years. Each of them thrives, loves the Lord and is independent of our parenting for the most part.

     

    What I marveled at as the kids grew was their drive for independence:

    ·         In the early years they wanted to do things under their own power – crawl, feed themselves, walk, tinkle, etc. As they made progress, they became less dependent on us and we in essence gained a bit of “freedom”.

    ·         As adolescents they tested their own power and independence as they did sleep overs, traveled with friends, honed their own skills, and could find their way back home. Their independence and confidence grew, and we accomplished another level of freedom.

    ·         As teens they wanted to do things with power – take the car, travel abroad, shave, mow my grass and certainly state their own point of view. For us we enjoyed greatly expanded freedom and far less parenting input as we watched them grow and thrive.

    ·         Into early adulthood now, each serves and functions with total independence. We enjoy vast amounts of freedom and our own independence.

     

    As I looked into the eyes of Joel, my Bolivian friend who is served at the Children’s Rehab Center of Colomi in partnership with World Vision, I was hit hard by the fact that God gave me three healthy children and they were very easy for us to raise. Hard in the sense that I was deeply grateful for our children, but in the depth of my spirit challenged as I wondered what kind of Dad would I have been to a child like Joel?

    It hit me hard knowing that Joel was not going to do many things under his own power – not crawl, not walk, not feed himself. He would not do sleep overs, travel with friends, nor could he get himself back home. He won’t likely drive a car, travel abroad, shave or mow anybody’s grass. It struck me that Joel will not know the independence many of us enjoy, or our children achieve as they progressively take on skills and abilities.  As I visited with Joel it hit me that he will require support and assistance all his life from his parents. That this assignment in vast in scope, long in duration, it requires constant sacrifice, it requires endurance, and it is nearly impossible to do alone. What kind of Dad would I have been when faced with this challenge and a boy like Joel?

    BOLIVIA and Joel

    BOLIVIA

     

    While I cannot give an answer to that question, I knew with absolute certainly that a child like Joel would require more of me than I had given to three healthy kids. I knew that for Joel’s parents it must be simply hard and that they would face weariness often. As precious as Joel is, it was apparent that his parents would need to be constantly active in every aspect of Joel’s life for as long as Joel lives.

     

    In that moment I was able to give praise and thanksgiving for the World Vision work in Colomi at the Children’s’ Rehab Center. Most third world or emerging nations do not have resources like this to aid in child development for special needs children. By God’s grace, there is one in Colomi, and it serves Joel and so many others. It is a respite for fatigued parents. It provides support to parents who otherwise would have no support at all in a community that often casts out the disabled or at best hides them. It is a place where caring professionals can develop skills in children and pass teaching techniques to parents who are starving for help in developing their precious child.

     

    While I wrestled with what kind of Dad I would be to a boy such as Joel, I knew with certainly that I would depend on place like this, The Children’s Rehab Center. Because of it, Joel is making progress and learning new skills. His parents are being given what I call “rescuing support” without which they might simply give up. Joel knows love. His parents have hope. Together they are making progress to lead fuller lives under the compassionate care of World Vision in Colomi.

     

    Written by:

    Steve Biondo

    SVP, HR & Organizational Development at Family Christian

     

  • The Desire to Belong

    Posted on October 17, 2014 by Family Christian

    “so in Christ we who are many form one body…” Romans 12:5 (NIV)

     

    We are all familiar with it… the desire to belong. Even as adults, there is an urging within that says we would like to find that special group of friends.

    Several years ago, before we joined our current church, we visited several churches. We were looking for the right fit for our family.  We had two young children at the time, so we answered a variety of questions from church members: Homeschool vs. public school. Breast feeding vs. formula. Working mother or Stay at home. It was as if we were being interviewed and unfortunately found lacking in a few areas. We are now settled at our current church and loving it. We don’t feel the pressures to cave to one social group and attribute that to the preaching. When you have a strong pastor leading the flock, it helps to keep such issues in perspective.

    While praying about what to write for this blog, those memories came flooding back.  Now, I can laugh over some of the comments that originally left painful scars on my soul.  I wondered, who else has endured similar moments? How did they handle it? So, I asked a group of people who have become my friends online. I met most of them before my 9-year-old daughter was born.  I was thankful that they were willing to open up to me, because religion isn’t a topic easily discussed.

    The overwhelming response to my message board post told me that this is a bigger issue than I realized.  These friends shared from their hearts and I was moved to pray for many.

    I heard from a divorcee, who struggles with taking her children to church functions and not feeling like she has a place any longer. She will often drop them off and leave to avoid the awkward feeling. This is a woman who has a church home, she is involved, but no longer feels like she has a place among her friends.

    How about a person who is married without children? They would love to have friendships with the other couples, but doesn’t know how to relate or start those friendships when the first question asked is, “Do you have kids?” When they answer, the families lose interest. It isn’t easy to form a friendship with someone in different life circumstances, but it also isn’t impossible. God can teach us so much through other people. We only have to look at the New Testament church for an example of how diversity can serve the church body as a whole.  Jesus used a variety of men and women from various backgrounds to start his ministry.

    We are all children of God. We are members of one body. We only need to look down the pew on a Sunday morning to see a few of our own church members feeling they don’t belong.  How long will people continue to come, if they feel they don’t fit in?

    We are not perfect people, we are sinners saved by grace. Let’s leave the plastic smiles at the door. Let’s be real and take a moment to reach out to those who need a friend. A divorcee who needs someone to sit with, a man looking for a friend to talk with, the list goes on. I heard from twenty different people, each with a story, a hurt, and a heart that needs healing. Some of them no longer attend church. Each of them needs to know that God hasn’t forgotten them, that the church body works better as a whole. We are individuals who God created for a greater purpose. One of those purposes is to serve Him. When we leave the church fellowship because of hurts, it not only hurts you, but also the church as a whole.

    You can read this blog post, then move on to the next interesting thing to read online. Or we can pray for healing in our church body. Let’s take it one step farther, next time you are at church ask someone, “How can I pray for you this week?” Then, commit to praying for that person.

    Pray for hearts to be opened and healed. That people within the church would see the need to repent and ask for the forgiveness for the wrongs they have done, and that those who have been offended would seek to return to the church. May His healing touch be felt in each of your lives today.

    “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

     

    Bio:

    Stacey Zink lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, two children, and the goldfish that will never die. She enjoys reviewing books and sharing about life at: http://suburbanthoughts.wordpress.com/

  • Interview with We Are Leo

    Posted on October 13, 2014 by Family Christian

     

    By: Kristen Jeffery, Social Media Coordinator at Family Christian

    This week I had the opportunity to speak with David from We Are Leo.  Read the full interview below.

    FC: Hello! Thank you for your time today.  I hear you all are gearing up for a new tour.  Can you tell us about it?

     

    David from We Are Leo: Absolutely.  We are on for part of the Acquire the Fire tour that is starting in Spring.  We’ve done Acquire the Fire in the past, and it came to Lansing and I think there was about 7,000 people there.  I think the greatest thing about it to me is that I get to talk to all the fans after the show and just pray with them and talk to them and share our stories with them.

    FC: I have actually been enjoying your new single “You’re the Best Thing”, here in my office.  What does this song mean to you?

    David from We Are Leo: This is for my testimony.  I came out my teenage years sort of feeling really lost and  just fighting a lot of depression and loneliness.   And with my story of reaching out to Christ and Him coming and rescuing my life, that was such an epic change for me to be like God  loved me and to feel loved instead of rejected and at that point I realized this is what I have been looking for my whole life and for me singing this song “You’re the Best Thing” is coming back to that point and being thankful and remembering that God changed my life and despite the busyness or whatever else comes along in my day to day life I want to remember that He is always the best thing.

    FC: Your new album is called “Fightback Soundtrack” and it releases tomorrow (10/14).  What do you hope that people take away from your new album?

    David from We Are Leo: Yes. I think the overarching theme of this is bravery and not being afraid.  In the Bible it talks so much about not being anxious and Paul talks about not being anxious and I love that relationship and the idea of being strong and courageous.  Fightback Soundtrack,  the whole idea of it is ‘Yeah,  you need to be strong in the Lord and when things come against you and things happen you’re not defeated and you can overcome those things and keep your head up. ‘  And to be brave because God’s love can make us brave.  That’s what I hope people will take away.

    FC: What changes can your fans expect from “Hello” to “Fightback Soundtrack”?

    David from We Are Leo: That’s an awesome question!  Way to go!   This record we made it on our own.  In November we decided it was decision time.  We felt like God was telling us to keep being persistent and that we have things to share and talents that He was calling us to use.  We put it up on Kickstarter and it came through on the last hour of the last day. 

    FC: Awesome! Making it even more of a God story right?

    David from We Are Leo: It is totally a God story!  Totally.  I really can’t even believe it really happened. I think on this album you will hear a more mature sound and get a feel for what we truly sound like.

    FC: We have a prayer team here at Family Christian and we meet daily to pray for others.  How can we specifically be praying for you?

    David from We Are Leo: Thank you.  Be praying for wisdom.  And be praying that these songs will be heard by those who need it the most.    

  • Do you know what you believe?

    Posted on October 13, 2014 by Family Christian

    Do you know what you believe?
    Do you believe that God’s Word is true? Every word of it?
    This is something on my heart as a mom. I want to make sure our family is certain of what we believe in and I want to make sure we are leading our children to understand that every ounce of God’s Word is true, without a doubt.
    What can we do to ensure our children are being taught this truth? Here are a few things that we do in our family:

     

    • We read God’s Word with them and give them time to ask questions and we like to have them tell us in their words what we have read. Narration is a great way to ensure they understand what we have read.
    • We read devotionals with them nightly that helps to expand on this knowledge.
    • We memorize scriptures together daily as a family.
    • We pray multiple time together each day, especially before meals and bedtime.
    • We help them to recognize when God has answered a prayer, even the small ones, so that we can give thanks to Him.
    • We sing praises to Him, especially when we are scared or worried or anxious about something.
    • We also want to make sure that they realize that we can’t believe in only parts of the bible. We either believe it all or we believe none of it. We can’t believe in Creation and yet not believe in the Flood. We can’t believe in Jesus’ death upon The Cross and yet not believe in His resurrection.

    The most important part of making sure our children know what they believe, is to make sure we know what we believe! As parents, we need to spend time in God’s word, praying and building our relationship with Him. We must have assurance in what we believe in so that we can better lead our children. We need to be that example to them so that they can see us living out our beliefs as well.

    Will you join me in a challenge? Let’s spend time with Our Lord. Let us be certain of we believe in so that we can be the example that our spouse needs, that our children need, that our loved ones need…..that this world needs!

    I leave you with a scripture and ask that you meditate on it, memorize, pray over it:

    Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

    GodlyGlimpsesBioPic

    Jennifer is a wife and homeschooling mother to three (plus one more on the way!) She is also a blogger at Godly Glimpses where she shares about marriage, parenting, homeschooling and faith. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

  • A Love Encounter

    Posted on October 6, 2014 by Family Christian

    By Emily Rose Massey

     

    I seriously enjoy Saturdays.

    It’s the time where I get to spend a few hours of my morning with the Lord and just relax before the weekend picks up speed.

    I’m able to slow down and really just enjoy the simple pleasures of life like coffee, PJs, and messy hair.

    This morning, as I ended the last couple pages of my journal, I was reflecting on this past year and couldn’t help but praise God for His overwhelming love and faithfulness.

    Around this time last year, my husband, Paul, and I just found out that we were expecting our first child, a promise that God had spoken to us about through our pastor during a Wednesday night service just a couple months before.

    At six weeks along in my pregnancy, we went in for our first doctor's appointment and we were able to hear our baby's tiny heartbeat- this was becoming so real! After the appointment, the doctor asked me to come in again two weeks later. A part of me found it a little odd that I needed to already come back again so early on in the pregnancy, but I didn't let it bother me and scheduled the follow-up appointment.

    Those two weeks passed by pretty quickly, and I was on my way to the doctor's office again. My spirit was troubled the whole way there. Paul wasn't able to go with me this time, so I just kept declaring God's peace over my heart and kept whispering the name of Jesus, even when I was in the exam room. While the doctor was looking at the ultrasound, I heard her sigh and say, "I hate when that happens."

    "What?" I asked.

    "The baby no longer has a heart-beat. I'm so sorry."

    Right then, I immediately felt God's presence fill the room. I sat up and the doctor just looked at me, not really knowing how I was going to react. My eyes began to well up with tears, as I said these words to her:

    "You know, I have been through a lot in my short 27 years on this earth. From depression, to the murder of my dad, to watching my family be torn apart by adultery and divorce and God has never left my side. My faith has always carried me through it all and this is no different. God has a plan. He will work this all out for good."

    She said, "I believe He will too," put her hand on my shoulder and left the room so that I could have a moment to myself.

    I got my things together, scheduled my follow-up appointment to discuss the next steps/options, and called Paul to tell him the news, even declaring and believing that God could resurrect that tiny life inside me if it was His will, fighting back tears with each word. When I got home, we went to my favorite restaurant and continued to speak of God's faithfulness, even through all of our questions and deep pain.

    After dinner, Paul reminded me of the gift card someone from church had given us for the baby and suggested we go and pick up some items for our precious promise from the Lord.

    Talk about faith!

    It was hard for me to walk through those aisles, staring at all of things for babies when I had just received the sad news about our little one, but deep down, I knew God had declared that we WILL have a child. Walking out the pain, we continued to trust in God’s timing and kept believing He would make it happen again for us.

    In the car, a song came on the radio that stirred my emotions for what I had just experienced. I tried to hold back the tears, but couldn’t do it any longer. Paul just held me as I cried. Although it was difficult, I didn't allow my emotions to overtake me.

    We pulled the car in the drive-way and I walked upstairs to our bedroom and just cried out to the Lord. Again, in that moment, the presence of the Lord filled the room. His loving arms wrapped around me as I laid on my bed, with a broken heart. As I cried out, a short song came forth from my mouth that I knew came straight from the abundance of my heart:

    "Jesus, take my life, display it for the world to see, so that You My King, can receive Your glory...."

    A few days later, the Lord gave me the rest of the song:

    In You
    Verse 1:
    You’re my desire
    Lord, You are my everything
    It’s in You I find
    My purpose, my meaning
    Verse 2:
    So take my life
    Display it for the world to see
    So that You, my King
    Can receive Your glory
    Chorus:
    I’ll hide my life
    In You, Jesus Christ
    It’s You who gives me strength
    To rise above the storm
    Oh yes, My life
    Is a living sacrifice
    So that You can shine
    And draw all men to Your heart
    I live and move and have my being
    In You
    Bridge:
    Jesus
    When I stand in Your name
    Your blood cleanses me of all my shame
    The Father sees what You’ve done
    How You died on the cross to save us

    I encountered God's amazing love during that trial last year and I know I will never be the same because of it. He is faithful to me in loss and faithful to me in gain. His promises are true. I can't wait to tell our son, Isaiah, who I will be able to hold in my arms in just a few short weeks, about them.

    All glory to God!

  • Who Will Rebuild My Home?

    Posted on October 3, 2014 by Family Christian

    ‘Who Will Rebuild My Home?’

    By Laura Reinhardt

    *Post and photos are courtesy of World Vision.

    It was around noon on a day in 2012 when Adelina and her grandmother, Juliet, returned from working in the fields. They found their house collapsed into a heap of rubble because of poor construction.

    “I felt poverty,” Juliet remembers

    The 78-year-old widow recalls thinking: “My husband has died and now my house had fallen down. Who will rebuild it for me?”

    Adelina says, “I asked myself, ‘Where are we going to live?’”

    Twelve-year-old Adelina has known hardship before. Her mother died due to complications from childbirth. Her father abandoned her and she has lived with her grandmother since 2005.

    But she had always had a roof over her head. Now where would they go? She and her grandmother lived as subsistence farmers. They didn’t have money to rebuild a home.

    The loss of their home forced them to ask for help from neighbors, who allowed them to move into a nearby home. Sadly, that home also had one collapsed wall.

    Despite her advanced age, Juliet began doing extra farming to raise a little bit more money.

    Finally she had saved enough money to buy a few supplies for a new shelter. However, it was hardly a home. Four thin tree posts long by three tree posts wide with a grass roof over top—there were no walls on the sides. It was simply a roof for Adelina and her grandmother.

    Sometimes when it rained, they couldn’t even lay down. Water leaked through the quickly constructed roof. They had to stay awake and standing all night to avoid getting wet.

    Both Adelina and Juliet worried about snakes. Juliet also worried about strangers passing by on the nearby road. Would they see the wide-open shelter and come to harm them?

    Adelina’s biggest fear was simple: “I was afraid the house would fall.”

    Thankfully the story didn’t end there.

    Powerful Training for Pastors

    In the same community, Pastor Jornito Jorge, 35, had begun receiving training from World Vision thanks to child sponsorship in the Namanjivira Area Development Program.

    The training encouraged Pastor Jorge to work side-by-side with his fellow pastors. “Before I didn’t know it was important to have these relationships with other churches,” he says. “It feels like it’s important because if you have interaction with other churches, you grow spiritually and you learn to know much better the word of God.”

    Through this training, he learned about the Community Care Coalition (CCC), which World Vision had started in other communities. The CCC provides for the physical and material needs of children left vulnerable due to poverty like Adelina and Juliet.

    He also learned about World Vision’s Channels of Hope program, which helps pastors and church volunteers to support those who are chronically ill and their children. They work to provide for both the physical and spiritual needs of their patients.

    “Through this training I learned to wear the shoes of somebody else. If this was me, how would I feel? I thought it was good for me to help those in need,” Pastor Jorge says.

    Through the CCC, the community now cares for 144 children. Pastor Jorge gives credit to World Vision and the training he received. Without the training he wouldn’t have even begun “because I didn’t have an idea how to start this work.”

    A Donor’s Generosity

    A donor and child sponsor named Linda Fisher visited Pastor Jorge’s community and heard a presentation about the work that the CCC and Channels of Hope were doing. She asked the groups how would they support all the activities they had planned for the children.  They replied that they planned to pool the money they had to buy a mill to grind corn. They could then sell that corn flour to the community and use the money to provide clothing, school workbooks, and whatever else the vulnerable children might need.

    Linda returned home to the United States and within a month sent back the money for the mill.

    That wasn’t the only source of income for these programs. Pastor Jorge has a small bakery next to his church where he and church members bake fresh bread to sell and raise money.

    The church also owns and cultivates an acre of land growing fresh vegetables. World Vision provided Pastor Jorge and the CCC with seeds. A World Vision staff member who focused on food security trained them on best agricultural practices to increase their vegetable yield.

    Now Pastor Jorge sells cabbage, carrots, corn, and other vegetables to provide additional funds to help the orphans and vulnerable children of his community.

    A Volunteer Visits

    The CCC and Channels of Hope each are composed of 15 volunteers. The CCC volunteers come from throughout the community and the volunteers from Channels of Hope all come from Pastor Jorge’s church—Luz de Jesus.

    The volunteers scour the community visiting all of the vulnerable children and chronically ill in the area. Due to the vast area and the fact that people are most often on foot or bicycle, they usually are able to visit all the people they serve once a quarter.

    So it had been a couple of months that Adelina and her grandmother had lived under their shelter before a volunteer came and learned what had happened. The CCC sprang into action.

    They made bricks, then bought bamboo and grass to roof the house. “I was happy for the news of the house construction,” says Juliet.  “God is powerful because He saw that we have been through a difficult situation and now we have this new house.”

     

    When Adelina learned about the new home she says, “I was laughing [with joy].”

    “Thank you for the help,” says Juliet. “We would be facing hard times because in that house, which used to be so cold.”

    “They are good people,” says Adelina of the volunteers and donors who built her new home.

    Now, thanks to funding from World Vision’s sponsorship program, Adelina and Juliet have a permanent shelter over their heads. The sturdily constructed home should stand for a long time. No longer does Juliet have to worry about strangers passing by in the night. No longer do they have to sleep standing up to avoid the rains. And the future looks a little bit brighter.

    *This is a brief glimpse into the work that World Vision is doing 24/7, 365 days a year around the world.  Every time you shop in-stores, or online, with Family Christian, it helps fund programs like these mentioned above.  Thank you for your support and thank you World Vision for your service and for sharing this blog post with us.

  • Smooth Sailing No, Faithful God Yes by Amy Dewey

    Posted on October 2, 2014 by Family Christian

    This was originally posted on Amy Dewey's blog and is being shared with permission here.

    I like to think of me steering my life like a ship sailing along in calm waters with the wind filling the sails and nothing but blue skies.  It really is an idyllic and comforting thought, flowing along without a care in the world.  Ahh!! How safe and simple it truly would be....
    Here's the part where life cues the storm clouds, sheets of rain, hurricane winds, and tossing waves....ta-da!!  Well, my dumb idea just got lost at sea along with my security, my personal comfort, and my naïveté.  Bummer, that didn't last long.
    You see, this fake sense of control I like to live in, is just that, fake.  It brings me a comfort for a moment then reality crashes down on me.  I sink into the mire of an aching soul and deep fatigue.  All the plates I had carefully spinning, perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect everything, crash to the floor splitting into a million pieces.  I try to clean up my mess, but I have nothing left and collapse in frustration.
    God pulls me up and reminds me of His promises.
    "Meanwhile the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. "(Romans 8:26-28 MSG)
    I remember then that God has His hand on me.  His Holy Spirit abides in me and It will do for me what I can't do myself.  I then remember all the times God has been faithful to see me through when I thought I couldn't take another thing going the wrong way.
    After 3 car accidents, 3 stinky jobs, and 1 difficult post partim after my daughter's birth, I'm still here in one piece thanks to His love and grace.  Believe me, I could have done without the hard things!  Still, it is during such times that I grow strongest in Him.
    So hold tight to His promises and let go of the false control.  He will see you through each and every circumstance.  You are His precious and beloved child for always.

     

    This was a guest post written by Amy Dewey from Moment by Moment Grace.  Here is her bio:

    I'm a wife, a mama, and a girl that loves Jesus.  My words are simple, but I hope they speak volumes about Jesus' love to those that read them.
    He loves us all so deeply, and that is my greatest joy to share.

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