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Lost of Innocence

Last week was a tough one, not only for me but for the whole nation. Thursday night I received a phone call from a very close friend in tears. Her nephew had just committed suicide. I obviously jumped in the car to provide my support. Then the next morning, while I’m trying to shake the emotions from that event, I walked into the break room of my job and saw on the television the news from Connecticut.

I could relate not only at the human level, but at the personal level of the pain and confusion that others were feeling. I could understand how parents felt about answering questions to confused children about the events they witnessed or were made aware of, because the night before I was approached by my friend’s young children with similar questions.
Our children should not have to worry about why someone decides to take their life or someone else’s. Our children should not need to understand the pain of losing a teacher, a brother, a father, a mother or a friend; especially under these horrible circumstances.

We are all looking for a silver lining within the grief. I’ve come to the conclusion that hopelessness is part of the pain of those who commit these acts. They feel like there’s no way to end their pain than to leave this earth and/or hurt others. This has motivated me to continue to do what God has called me to do, to write more and more about the good news of redemption and hope. That there’s always a way out and a solution that doesn’t include more pain.

This has also been a wake up call for me and for so many others of how our lives can change in an instant unexpectedly. It has reminded me to express my gratitude, my appreciation and my love to those around me before it’s too late.
I know the recent events have not only made the children aware of an evil world. It has even place awareness of concern in adults as well. Where are we safe? Thinking as far back as Columbine, I can recall a movie theater, a college campus, several churches, a gym, a mall, several workplaces and now an elementary school, and that’s just off the top of my head. But let’s stand on the Word of God that tells us:

  • Zechariah 2:5 :And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’”
  • Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”
  • Psalm 91:2 “I will say [a] of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
  • Psalm 91:4-5 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,”


I ask you today to pray for my friend’s nephew who left behind a wife and two small children. Also pray for all the victims in Connecticut; for those parents, siblings, for the whole community. But also remember to pray for the family of the perpetrator. He left behind a father who lost a son, and a young man who lost his brother and mother. Let’s also pray that God gives our authorities the wisdom to do what needs to be done to avoid these things, whatever that may be.

Hug each other a little tighter today. I appreciate all of you. Be safe. Be blessed.

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Satan and the Hot Stove

By Staci Stallings

The other day it occurred to me that God is like a lot of parents who want to keep their children safe because they know the dangers inherent in this world. So think about the parent who is in the kitchen with her child toddling around. The child gets close to the stove where Mommy is heating supper.

“No. No,” Mommy says. “Don’t touch. Hot!”

Wide-eyed the child looks up at her and nods. Thinking the child surely understands that “hot” equals “it will hurt you,” the mother continues preparing until she hears the child wailing uncontrollably.

Why?

Because the child just touched that hot stove of course!

Now consider this, not altogether different, scenario. God is in the Garden with his children, and He tells them, “You can have the whole garden to play in, just don’t eat from this one tree.”

Why? Because God knows the everlasting pain it will cause His children. Then He goes back to doing His God things leaving his children to play in the garden.

I guarantee the same thing happens next. Satan shows up, knowing that the tree just like the hot stove will cause pain, and wanting the children to be in pain. So what does he do?

“Did God really say…?” “I bet Mom’s just trying to ruin my fun.” “God just knows if you do it you’ll be like Him….” “Mom uses that stove all the time, why can’t I? I’m going to try it.”

Our problem is not with the thing that causes pain. Our problem is not listening to the One Who has our best interest at heart!

We start listening instead to that little voice in us that says we don’t have to listen to authority, that they don’t know what they are talking about, that we know better.

Think about how many times this scenario is played out in our lives. First it’s the stove or the stairs. Then climbing that tree, putting that rock in our ear, or the car in gear. Then it’s riding the ATV too fast or driving at night alone when you are only supposed to drive during the day with an adult present. Then it’s taking our friends for rides in that car and sneaking out to be with someone we know Mom and Dad don’t approve of.

As we get older, we kind of transfer our transgressions from not obeying Mom and Dad to not obeying God. We sleep in on Sundays because who’s going to know. We start hanging out with the “fun” crowd, drinking and doing other things that don’t make us feel very good in the morning.

Oh, and sometimes, instead of being content with what we have, we start becoming materialistic–wanting cars we can’t afford and other status-symbols to impress our friends and make us feel “accepted” and “worthy.”

The amazing thing is that at some point we all realize we are hurting and miserable. When the pain shows up, what do we do? We blame the very Person Who warned us against doing all of that stupid stuff in the first place!

Remember this, no matter if you are 2 or 92, Satan has a plan for you, and it is for your ultimate pain and destruction. He is going to lie to you and manipulate you, and do whatever he has to in order to convince you to touch that hot stove. So if you are inclined to not take God at His word that doing so will hurt you, I strongly suggest never letting God take His eyes off of you. Latch onto Him and don’t let go!

God really does have great plans for you–to prosper you and not to harm you, but you have to be willing to take Him at His word that that stove is HOT and you should not touch it!Staci Stallings New Headshot 1

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a #1 Best Selling Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. You can check out Staci’s newest release…

For Real

Book 3, ~ THE COURAGE SERIES ~

“It will pull you in and touch your heart.”

Blaine Donovan has a secret, but so far his plan to keep the rest of the world in the dark about who he really is and what’s really going on in his life has worked. If he can just finish school before the demons catch up with him, he knows he can make clip_image002life make sense once again. However, when he runs into Melody Todd, a semi-friend he had thought was long-gone, life takes a turn Blaine wasn’t at all expecting.

Still hurting from watching her best friend marry someone else, Melody Todd has given up on dating, guys, and on herself. In fact, when Blaine shows back up in her life, she does what she always does with the eligible guys who look her way—she sets him up with someone else. But Blaine soon proves to be much different than he at first seems. Too many things are not adding up the way they are supposed to, and the more Melody digs, the more she sees that the Blaine she knows is not the real Blaine at all…

“For Real will show you how you can lay those things that are preventing you from loving Jesus at the foot of the Cross. It will inspire you and give you hope.

Meet Jim Doe and Jane Smith

By Anonymous Author

Two young people are especially on my heart right now, and I’d like to introduce them to you, in a roundabout way. I pray you’ll understand my reasons for writing like this, but I know their stories aren’t over so I want to protect them as best I can.

Jim Doe and Jane Smith are in-laws – Jim’s brother married Jane’s sister. They had never met one another before their siblings wed.

Meet Jim Doe. He is 23 and was raised in a single parent home. His life was turbulent growing up, but his mother and brother loved him dearly. They moved frequently, and because his mother had to work to support the family, he spent much time with babysitters.

One was discovered to be selling drugs from her home – and this was a babysitter recommended by her pastor – the cousin of the pastor’s wife. When he was three years old, his new step-grandmother took over their care. From outward appearances, she seemed to dote on the boys– but within a couple of years, it was discovered she had been abusing both boys. She put pennies in Jim’s mouth and put duct tape over it, telling him if he cried or called out, he would swallow a penny and choke to death. She also beat the boys with an electric cord from a lamp she ripped from the wall. And she told them that if their mother ever left their stepfather, it would be to kill them. She said their mother would take them somewhere to kill them, then hide their bodies and go back to the stepfather to have “real children” with him. Jim’s mother discovered the abuse, tried to stop it, and after counseling with instructions to “submit” to her husband (and his mother) at all costs, she fled – getting the children away from all of them – and away from the abuse – permanently.

His mother tried to build a good life for her children, but she made many stupid and selfish mistakes. The family was active in church and the children were raised with much prayer, if not always good direction. They had minimal support from extended family. After Jim finished the 4thgrade, his mother decided to homeschool him. For the first two years, Jim thrived with the set-up. He learned at a rapid pace and grew to love learning and reading. He absorbed library books by the dozens, and his studies moved quickly. But then he got involved with some kids from church who led him onto a path he should have never taken. About the same time, he was introduced to music by Eminem that promoted disrespect, anger, hatred. They moved once again, and Jim entered public high school, but after a year or so, asked for homeschool studies again. His mother resumed teaching him, and he eventually passed final exams and graduated high school. But by this point, he was out of control. He worked random jobs to support himself, and had a good work ethic – but when work was over for the day, he just would not settle down. He even attended college for a year – and loved every moment of it, but did not stick with it.

Years passed. His mother remarried and life settled for her. Jim eventually ended up in a serious relationship with an older woman. About 18 months into the relationship, he told someone that his girl had tried to stab him – with a 3-foot sword. At that point, all the signs of domestic abuse became apparent to his family. But there was nothing they could do. A couple of months later, his girl went on another tirade and he hopped into their car to get away from her. There wasn’t enough gas in the car to get very far, so he turned around, determined to make things work. When he arrived back home, the police were there. The vehicle was in his girl’s name only, and she had called the police to report it stolen.

He spent 110 days in jail. For the first 30-45 days, he was convinced that he still loved his girl and that they could make things work. He never admitted that she hit him, but a deputy told his mother that the girl had sure worked him over good. When his mother visited him in jail, he was covered with cuts and scrapes all over his face and head, and he had a bruise the size of a baseball bat on his arm, where he’d deflected some of the blows. But he refused to report her. Because he’d returned the car, the charges were dropped down to two misdemeanors, and he was released on a two-year probation – with orders to pay thousands of dollars in fines, take three specific evaluations and if they required classes, to take those as part of the probation. He was also ordered to see his probation officer once a month and perform 120 hours of community service. He was placed under a “no contact” order with the girl – and she was told she could not contact him either. He is currently in month four of his two-year probation. He lived with his mom and stepdad for awhile, but could not abide by their rules. He now lives on the streets, occasionally stopping by their house to take a shower or eat a meal. Some days he berates his mom for her poor parenting skills, other days he’s respectful and grateful.

Meet Jane Smith. She is 24. She was raised in a two-parent environment. Her parents recently celebrated their 30thanniversary. She has three siblings and lived in the same town all her life. The family is Catholic, but they are not active in church. Her parents work hard to provide for the family, and all of the children began working as soon as they were old enough. Last year, Jane decided she wanted to go to college, and began exploring her options. But then she met a young man – three years her junior – and fell in love. She dropped her plans to attend college, and her life became absorbed with taking care of this man. But soon, her family realized things were not quite right. She was caught stealing things from family and friends. She lived in her car for a time – the family never sure if her fellow was with her or not. Then one day, her sister discovered her bruised and beaten. She dismissed her sister’s concern, and avoided family for months. She now excuses the abuse, saying it happens to everyone.

Apparently this was Jane’s new norm.

A few weeks ago, Jane was arrested and charged with shoplifting. In lieu of bail, they released her wearing an ankle bracelet while she waits for a court date. Her parents took her home, with her promises that she was a changed woman and things would work out great. Before they even got home, her tune changed, and she ranted and raved about how sorry her parents were, and how she was an adult and could make decisions on her own. How much she loved her boyfriend – the one she was arrested with, the one who continued to abuse her. Once they reached home, her mother ran to the grocery store, her father began preparing the house for their daughter’s extended stay. But when the mother returned from the store, the daughter was gone. She disappeared for days, and last week, was arrested in another county.

What is it with kids this age? These are only two examples of many, many young people who are in similar situations.

Where have we, as a world, as a generation, as parents – failed these kids?

But is it more than that?

Some place the blame firmly on the parents. Others on broken homes. Others place it on religion. Or lack of religion. So many other avenues to place blame. But these two examples show it must be more than that. Why this specific age group of kids? What is it about these kids that make them feel they are not worthy of something better? That they are only worth abuse? Why do they feel it’s okay for someone to beat them? Hurt them? Abuse them?

A recent conversation with another loved one opened my eyes to other possibilities. At the time when this age group of kids were at the most impressionable age – during their formative years – there were several major events going on nationally. Bill Clinton was president, and his personal actions – making headlines and newscasts for years – revealed a man with no morals, no values, no conscience. And he got away with it in the highest office of our land. An office that prior to his election had been revered and dreamed about by young children for generations. That dream was gone. In other news during those same years, the O.J. Simpson trial kept everyone glued to their TV sets for weeks on end. He, too, because of his celebrity, appears to have gotten away with murder.

Did those events cause one age group of young children to lose their way in this world?

I’ve heard people say that people like Jim and Jane are worthless.

Every time I hear a comment like that, it infuriates me. It makes me want to shout: “NO THEY ARE NOT” from every rooftop in town. No one is worthless – I don’t care what they’ve done, who they are. No one. Author Lori Roeleveld wrote an excellent post on this very subject a few weeks ago – you’ll want to check it out, because it shares my heart precisely.

What hope does this generation of young people have?

We cling to hope, and we must PRAY. We must pray fervently for each and every young person we know, because God’s not finished with them yet. Their stories are indeed still being written. I trust He knows the outcome, and will use these two in some special way that will impact lives.

How can I know that? How can I say that?

Look at the examples provided in the Bible:

Moses stuttered.

David’s armor didn’t fit.

John Mark deserted Paul.

Timothy had ulcers.

Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.

Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.

Jacob was a liar.

David had an affair.

Solomon was too rich.

Abraham was too old.

David was too young.

Peter was afraid of death.

Lazarus was dead.

John was self-righteous.

Naomi was a widow.

Paul was a persecutor of the church.

Moses was a murderer.

Jonah ran from God’s will.

Miriam was a gossip.

Gideon and Thomas both doubted.

Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.

Elijah was burned out.

Martha was a worry-wart.

Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?

So did Peter, Paul – well, lots of folks did.

If you have a loved one who is not living the life they were meant to live, DON’T GIVE UP ON THEM. And don’t stop praying.

Their stories aren’t over yet. God is still working.

Unexpected children

 

I just finished reading an article on Christianity Today , it was an interview with Bristol Palin regarding her new book and the topic of abstinence. I agree and disagree with some of her points of view, but the thing that shocked me the most were some of the comments in reaction to the article.

In the interview she states that her son “Tripp is the light” of her life  and a reader characterized her comment as one that sends an erroneous message to other teens. How saying that you love your son is wrong? I understand and agree that having a child out of wedlock is a sin, but is a sin of the parents, not of the child. So what is the recommendation here, she should be ashamed of her son?

She sinned. She admitted it, she repented. Who are we to judge? Are our sins any different? The Word says to us,  “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person’s eyeMatthew 7:5

A child born out of wedlock already comes with a list of situations that will affect their whole life. They will experience the absence of a nuclear family life, probably even the absence of a parental figure. Most out of wedlock children come from unskilled parents that will try to raise them the best way they can, but without the proper skills. They may experience feelings of rejection and abandonment. Should we encourage out of wedlock children? No! but once they are here, what impact we as a society contribute to their futures?

Where is our love and mercy? What happened to no condemnation?

As a society and as Christians we need to reevaluate ourselves on how we contribute to child abuse and exploitation. How our attitudes and our lack of involvement in our children’s lives may create some of these issues.

  • Do you know where your teens are? Who they keep company with?
  • Do you read the things they post in social media? (Good Lord I still get horrified with things I read in the walls of very underage children whose parents I know!)
  • Do you know who they talk to?
  • Are you afraid to talk to your children about sex and its true purpose? Or do you just tell them not to do it and wish for the best?
  • Are you the first one to reject someone who becomes pregnant outside of marriage?
  • Are you judgmental of single parents?
  • Or maybe you don’t judge them but give them no assistance, even when you are able.

I think its time to stop pointing the finger at others and see where our own contribution to the problem is. These new children did not ask to come into this world, but they did and they have a divine purpose. God knitted them too in their mother’s womb No, we should not encourage and make it seem like out of wedlock pregnancies are cool, but once the child is here, those children deserve the same love, affection and chance as any other child.

Food for thought

Blessings

You choose!

As we mature in life we have an idea of who we want to become or better yet what is God’s purpose in our lives. How to we achieve those goals has a lot to do with our decisions.

It has been said that if you encourage a child to do great things and equip him, he or she will have a better chance to achieve his or her potential. The good news is that even if our childhood was less than perfect as adults we have the control in our hands to determine what are those things that we are going to allow in our lives to encourage or discourage our purpose and future.

We decide the people we include in our lives.  You may think that’s not accurate as you didn’t choose your relatives. Although that is correct, you do have total control on how much time you spend with them and the level of interaction you have with them.

You may think that as a parent or child caregiver you have no control over your environment; it’s the total opposite. It is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to watch over their children. Children can present limitations to the things that can be done, but if you’re really honest with yourself the way you handle parenting can also affect that relationship on how enjoyable or not it becomes. The parenting experience could include the child in achieving God’s goals in your life and in creating a learning experience for the child of how to achieve their own goals throughout their lives.

We decide the type of entertainment we participate in. This believe it or not is important as it can form opinions, emotions and thought patterns that supports or discredit our believes with the information we expose ourselves to.

We decide our involvement in certain activities. In doing so we need to weigh how productive those activities are to our goals. In other words, is is worth to spend extensive time and resources to things that will not further our purposes? Sometimes we do.

What’s the point of all this you may ask? In our walk of life sometimes we feel like there’s not enough time, not enough energy, not enough resources, but the reality is that sometimes our decision making process drags us through a path of many steps with little resources.

God had goals for you, you have goals for yourself. Sit and discern your decision process and how your environment is affecting those things. Take the control back. You choose!!!

 

Blessings

Amazing Grace

I was listening to the lyrics of this song by John Newton and the reality is that there’s not much to be said, each word says it all. To those of us who have experienced the mercy of Christ sometimes it is hard to express the awe of gratitude we have towards our Lord.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

 

Watch this video that reminds us that “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise” Matthew 21:16

I found the parents!

Every time a child does something wrong the obvious question is, where are the parents? After looking at this commercial closely I felt sadden. I found the parents! One allying against their partner and the other one too scared to exercise his authority.  I’m not starting a campaign against “Tide” but it is sad that a household name would take advantage of one of the symptoms of our decay as a society to profit from it.

 

There’s so much wrong with this commercial, it’s a sad true of the reality we’re living. Families are not working together in raising their children, children blatantly defying their parents and the parents feeling powerless to exercise their authority.

Here are some points that I saw in this:

  • Common values: This girl is a teenager; someone bought or allowed her to buy said skirt. It is obvious that both parents are not in accord with what is appropriate and not.  That itself it’s a recipe for disaster, ““Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25)
  • Respect: It is obvious that the father figure is not respected in this scenario; his opinion is not only ignored but blatantly undermined as the girl parades her now clean skirt in front of her father knowing that she’s defying his wishes. She feels empowered to do so, as her mother approved her behavior.
  • Alliance: The mother allies with her daughter against her husband, forgetting that he’s the co-parent. She also undermines him in trying to protect his daughter. This is one of those examples were parents try to be their child’s friend instead of their parent and when the child goes out of control they seek the other parent to step up to the plate. By then it’s too late, the child doesn’t respect either. Parents should work together to raise their kids, not against each other. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (Proverbs 13:24)
  • Powerless: The saddest part is that the father felt that there was nothing he could do. He had to resort to try to ruin the skirt to avoid his daughter from wearing it. At what point will parents understand that they are the adults and that they make the rules? This father should have felt empowered to disapprove of the piece of clothing upon being bought or seen for the first time on his daughter and not have to resort to tricks to avoid confrontation. Parents, the teenager that “hates” you now for making them follow the rules, is the one that will be grateful when he or she grows up.  I’m not a parent, but from what I’ve seen the ones who grew up with parents as friends were the ones that once out in the world were lost feeling that they were being treated unfairly because the world will make them follow the rules and suffer the consequences of their actions.

 

Food for thought…

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