Are we celebrating the REAL Christmas?

The last 48 hours have been quite funny and sad at the same time. For the last 6 years I had stopped celebrating Christmas. I got divorced 6 years ago. I live alone with my dog and felt that there was no reason for me to put decorations or cook a big meal because I didn’t have anyone to share it with. Yes, I’ve gotten invitations from family and church family members, but it didn’t feel the same.

This year I got really down during Thanksgiving for the same reason. One of my brother’s in Christ saw me the Monday after and I told him how I was feeling. He told me to decorate my place and invite him and his wife over for dinner. Although I appreciate their gesture; something didn’t set well with me.

The next Sunday, visiting a friend’s church, they were talking about the meaning of Christmas. The pastor was talking about the time when Mary was visited by the angel. We all know the story, the angel told her she was going to fulfill the prophecy, have a virgin birth. She basically said let God’s will be done. Joseph wasn’t happy, but another angel came and told him this is from God and he went OK. He married Mary and off they went to Bethlehem and had the baby.

Was it that easy? I’m not a parent. Your 14 year old comes home and says she’s pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Think about it, I’ll wait. Your virgin fiance tells you that she’s pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I’ll give you a chance to digest that. You are minding your business cleaning the house and an angel shows up and tells you that you are going to be carrying God’s child.

The faith and obedience that Joseph and Mary had to believe God’s plan against what the world was in those times and it’s right now, most of us wouldn’t pass that test.

It got me thinking, what are we really celebrating? Everyone knows that Jesus was not born on December 25th, but that as a society we picked that day to celebrate his birthday. Are we really? Our Christmas celebrations have become about us and not about Jesus, even for those of us who go to church.

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I’m sure many will think I’m the Grinch and I’ve come to terms with that. Our traditional Christmas celebration is usually to decorate the house, a tree, and have lots of food. I’ve heard that Christmas is about gathering the family together. I didn’t read that during the story of Christ’s birth, but here we go. And of course we need presents, lots of them, especially for the kids, because we need to make it special for them. So we go to church, and pray before the meal and read under the Christmas tree the story of the birth… Being the good Christians that we are,”right”?

I think we’re wrong.

If we’re going to celebrate the birth of our Lord, shouldn’t we be giving gifts to him? Shouldn’t this be a day of service to others as an offering to him instead of serving ourselves? Naty, what the idea of getting together with the family? You can do that any time of the year. Actually why are you waiting for Christmas to tell anyone you love them? That sweater or new TV is going to be the same sweater or TV March 13th as it is on December 25th. Save that gift for that person’s birthday.

Naty, what about the kids? What about starting to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas so that they don’t stumble through the same paths that we have?

We get hung up on coffee cups (which I know it was a hoax). We say we need to put Christ back in Christmas, when our celebrations don’t put Christ in Christmas.

As I was thinking about this post I realized that the majority of us actually partake in the 7 deadly sins even while  celebrating that God sent his only son to save us from hell. Naty you are exaggerating! Am I?

Gluttony- I don’t even have to explain that.

Anger- It’s a joke already about the fights that happen when the family gets together.

Lust-Remember lust is not only about sex, but about things and pleasures that have nothing to do with God.

Envy-Wait, why is their gift better than mine?

Pride- I’m not inviting/calling XYZ, You remember what s/he did to7-Deadly-Sins me? Or, I have to make sure my outfit is perfect for the next Christmas party.

Sloth-This one comes right after the gluttony attack.

Greed-It’s the season to “give” but I’m expecting to receive too.

We already received our Christmas present. It is JESUS, is he not enough?

That was my revelation. I realized that when I was married, I still didn’t have a big family. It was usually  my husband, my mom and I. But I used to invite anyone who didn’t have a place to celebrate to my house. I was sad out of my selfishness because I had forgotten who my real brothers and sister’s really were. I had bought into the lie of the traditional Christmas. And as I try to get closer to God I’m no longer afraid to be criticized for not following the world but for following Christ.

I think this is the real gift, anyone who says that they love the Lord should give to Jesus on December 25th. Ironically this is in Matthew 25:34-40

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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I challenge you to celebrate the true nature of Christmas. From this year forward, I know I will.

Merry Christmas

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New Release: A Brother’s Vow

I’m very happy to announce the release of my new novel  “A Brother’s Vow” Writing this book taught me a lot about Grace, family dynamics and spiritual warfare. It is amazing how God uses everything to teach us and push us to grow to the next level. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Blessings… Naty

A Brother's Vow (Final)

You can obtain your copy today at

Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles and Smashwords.

(Print copies will be available within the next few weeks)

Randall Benson didn’t think life could be any better. His job with the family business allowed him to travel and meet new people. His relationship with his girlfriend the model, gave his access to all the red carpet events and parties, yet there was no requirement for him to be faithful. Although his family doesn’t approve of his careless lifestyle, they love him and do whatever they can to keep him from self-destructing. Yet Randall’s only concern is Randall.

Randall’s world begins to come undone after a series of unexpected events. As Randall tries to settle down and become more dependable, his twin brother Brian seems to be headed down a path that Randall is way too familiar. Brian makes an unusual request that nonchalantly he agrees to keep. He never thought that he would have to keep his word, but he does. As Randall struggles to fulfill his promise to his brother, he is confronted with challenges from his past. Will he succumb to his past and risk losing everything he’s worked so hard to accomplish?

Finding Our Way, Figuring it Out

 By Deb DeArmond

 

September 26 is National Daughter-in-Law Day. I’m blessed with three wonderful DILs. I’ve also authored a book on relationships between Daughters-in-Law and Mothers-in-Law. Related By Chance, Family By Choice, releasing November 1. This article is written as a reminder to mother-in-laws to honor those sometimes considered “the other woman.”

 

“You know what I love about you?” asked my daughter-in-law Sarah as we sat in our favorite coffeehouse. “You don’t have an opinion about everything we do.”

 

I almost laughed out loud.

 

​“Of course, I do,” I replied. “I’m just not entitled to give it unless you ask for it or God instructs me to share it.”

 

She seemed surprised—and that felt good. Those who know me are aware I always have an opinion. Her surprise was feedback that I’d done a fairly good job of keeping it to myself more often than not.

 

Unsolicited advice on topics like finances, childrearing, cooking, or housekeeping masked behind “I’m just trying to help”—are a recipe for conflict. To your son’s wife, it sends the message that what she’s doing isn’t acceptable—she may feel you’re attempting to control her and the home she’s making for her family. The need to control never comes from a position of love. It comes from a position of fear. Let it go.

 

Instead, set your heart to pray for your daughter-in-law, to encourage her, to learn what’s important to her. I’d never been interested in the sport of running until DIL Penny joined our family. I’m looking forward to attending a race that marks her return to competitive running after the birth of my grandson. She’s her regaining her strength and speed. It’s been fun to share in her success, and I’m so proud of her.

 

When you appreciate the young woman your son has chosen, the need to point out her shortcomings becomes less tempting. Once you see her as God made her to be, you stop seeing flaws and you value her in a new way.

 

I recently shared an important lesson with a young friend, raising two little boys. She can’t imagine a woman could ever be good enough for them.

 

“If you make your sons the center of your world,” I told her, “you will be devastated, because you will never be the center of theirs.” She nodded, her eyes brimming with tears, the truth of the words sinking into her heart.

 

“How can I get beyond this? What can I do to make sure I don’t become a monster-in-law who ends up alienating not only my future daughters-in-law, but my sons as well?”

 

Here are the tips I shared with her.

 

  • Accept the Word as the authority on family order. The Lord is clear on this. The covenant we make is with our husbands, not our sons. Scripture in both the Old and New Testament all carry nearly identical passages about leaving and cleaving. It’s critical we acknowledge and submit to this principle. If it’s God’s plan for the family, it should be our plan.

 

  • Surrender your need to advise. This can be tough, but’s not optional. Wait till she asks, or until God prompts you. She may do things differently than you, but different is not wrong, it’s just different.

 

  • Pray for your son’s spouse-to-be. Son still single? Pray! When our son proposed after a very brief courtship, friends questioned my calm. The answer was simple: I had prayed for her all of his life. My heart recognized her the moment I met her. I experienced peace, certain of his choice. Praying for your son and his future wife when they’re still children also helps to prepare your heart. So no matter his age, pray. Start now.

 

When you are willing to honor your son’s choice, you are honoring God and walking in obedience. I didn’t lose my sons; I gained three wonderful daughters. What a gift.

 

The boys did not necessarily want a girl “just like the girl that married dear old dad.” We are unique, different from one another, but we share a love for Jesus and the desire to live life together successfully as a family. I learned to think of the differences as a gift. Different isn’t wrong—it’s just different.

 

Amazing how much easier it was to suspend judgment when I stopped comparing my way to theirs. I’ve been surprised by how much they can teach me if I’m open to learning. We’ve grown closer as a result. I know these are smart girls—they think my boys are wonderful!

 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

 Deb DeArmond

Email: deb.dearmond@gmail.com

Website: Deb DeArmond/Family Matters

Phone: 817-283-1108

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Member: AWSA, ACFW, Christian Writer’s Guild, CLASSeminar Graduate

 

Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb focuses on topics related to the family and women. Kregel Publications will release her first book in November 2013 entitled, Related by Chance, Family by Choice, focused on relationships between women-in-law. She is co-founder of My Purpose Now, a website devoted to Christian women 50+. Read Deb at Family Matters/Deb DeArmond and My Purpose Now.

A Mother’s Love

When I think about a mother, my frame of reference is obviously to think of my own mom. As many daughters, my relationship with my mother has had many stages. If there’s one thing I’m always sure is that noDSC_4396 matter what, my mother loves me and that I love her too. Some days she drives me absolutely crazy, but that is her job and she does it very well. Some days I catch myself behaving just like her, reasoning like her and saying the same things that she says.

Last year for her birthday my brother came to visit, I heard him say something that I could hear myself saying and I joked, “I think we are related”. He then replied, “Don’t forget we have the same mother” Which reminded me that our wit comes from that little 4’10 woman full of personality.

From her I’ve learned that a mother’s love is sacrificial, supportive, unconditional, protective and educational. A mother’s love is essentially the closest thing on earth to God’s love.

Now a mother is more than someone that has a biological connection with another human being. Being a mother is a more intimate connection than DNA. Therefore I know for a fact that there are more mother’s out there than those who have carried a child inside of them. So to every woman who has mothered someone  from her heart. Happy Mother’s Day!

“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift, the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.” (Psalm 127:3-5, MSG)

As a gift to all the mother’s out there, I’m placing both of my fictional books on sale! They make a great gift for all the mother’s in your life. This sale is only through May 13th by clicking on the book covers below

TheRoadHomeFinal (2)     SeasonsGreetingsFinalCover

$2.99 (save $2)                          $0.99  (save$1)

Fetal Position

We have another powerful story of surviving domestic violence today on The Rising Muse. Very powerful and inspiring. Thank you Kia so much and God bless you!

by Kia Richardson Edited by Penda James

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Like many I ignored the warning signs. That first blow could have been my last blow. I should have left him once he started to tell me what to do. The abuse only got worse.

The first time he hit me we were sitting in his mother’s living room. He had his eyes closed while we watched TV. I changed the channel because he dozed off. Once he realized I wasn’t watching what he wanted to watch he slapped me. I felt wind from his hand of steel flying across my face as if the window was open, then I felt the heat as if I was just burned by an iron. My face tingled for a long while after that.

The tears rolled down my face as he yelled, “who told you to change my channel?” It was then I curled over in the fetal position too scared to fight back.

His mother, upset from the sound of what she heard asked, “What was that?”

I looked at him in fear of what would happen if I told the truth. He told her, “I smacked her.”

“You better not ever put your hands on her again!” I thought his mother put some fear in him, but I was wrong. So wrong.

When I got pregnant a few months later at seventeen I called Mr. Fine to tell him the news. He did not deny the baby, but he was angry. He simply said, “What did I tell you about having kids?” He had told me if I had the baby “we would both end up in a pine box.” I was under 18 and needed a parent to have an abortion. I was too scared to tell my mother but he had the perfect plan. “Use my sister’s school ID and my mother will take you.” He didn’t even pay for the surgery.

When his mother picked me up, she asked if I was nervous. I knew when he got off if I was still pregnant there was going to be trouble so I acted as if everything was alright even when we walked up the steps and the inside made me cringe. It didn’t smell bad but I kept thinking how easily the receptionist was smiling and laughing like murder wasn’t going on in the next room. I signed in and almost put my real name. I had to hurry and scratch it before she realized I wasn’t the light-skinned girl on the school ID. I thought the picture would save me; I had to be four shades darker than she was. It didn’t, she responded flatly, “We will be with you in 20 minutes.” I went to sit next to his mother.

She rubbed my back and told me I would be fine and didn’t have anything to worry about. “The young lady he dated right before you went through the same procedure.” He lied!

In an argument with my sister two months later, she blurted out what I had done. My mother showed NO emotion, she went to her room as we followed order. Of course with my two year old baby on my hip I continued to date him. Even though he did not start hitting me right away, the verbal abuse still continued. I would call two of my good friends and tell them “if anything happened to me, he did it.”

On one occasion he answered the phone at my mother’s house. Whoever the guy was on the phone asked for me, he threw the phone and said “it’s for you.”

“Who is it?”

“Some guy.”

I looked at the caller ID but did not recognize the number. His red face showed obvious signs that he was upset. He jumped in his car and sped off to retrieve a gun from his mother’s house. She asked where he was going and he told her he was going to kill me. She wrestled him to the ground and called 9-1-1. He spent a few days on the psychiatric ward at a local hospital giving him time to strengthen his belief that I was cheating.

When he came home he said that things would change and like most of you I wanted to believe him. Nothing changed, it got worse. Most of our arguments would start because I didn’t get back in time or arrive when he thought I should. He knew how many miles I worked from the house and how long it should take me to get home. On some nights I took a retreat at a friend’s apartment, the only place he did not know about.

After high school I started classes at the Community College. He was so controlling he dropped me off and picked me up. I could only get to ten minutes before class started and he was always there when I got out. He made sure I had no social life: when I was free he made plans for us to spend time together, or for me to drive him to make his drug sales. I would sit around with a room full of guys and they passed blunts like hotcakes. If the other men brought a woman that day I would sit and talk to her about the latest fashion. I didn’t really have time to study I had to be free when he needed me to go.

Things started to go downhill with his drug usage and the putdowns became stronger. I worked for a bank at the time and we had an office Holiday Party. As I was getting ready he shot down everything I tried to wear. He was high and drunk. “Your smile is ugly because of your chipped tooth.” That stung. “No one will ever want someone like you.”

I told him I didn’t want him to go with me because he was “on another level.”

“If I don’t go you’re not going.” He took the keys and hid them from me which forced me to need him to drive. On the ride there we swerved in and out of traffic missing two cars by inches. I was thankful we made it over the dark back roads covered with ice with him being intoxicated.

I was embarrassed. He yelled at me the whole night, I hoped they would find out that the man who bought me roses and jewelry was psycho-path control freak.

My boyfriend constantly reminded me that he had guns and no desire to go back to jail. He told me one time he would kill both of us if I tried to leave. That’s when I realized I wasn’t safe, he knew where I worked, where my family lived and where my friends lived. No matter where I went he was able to show up and scare me out of the office with his threats of harm if I didn’t follow his directions. I tried to protect the people around me so I did what I was told.

One night we went out for a night on the town, this was his way of saying I’m sorry for what I did or what I’m about to do. We returned home only to find someone broke into our apartment. They stole the scale the dope was cooked on and two hand guns. I feared for my safety, it was no longer just about him, all his friends knew I was his woman.

I tried to leave once. “I’m tired of this roller coaster and I want out.” My talks of leaving left him to talk about marriage so I would stay.

“Where are you going? Everything in the apartment is mine. My mother gave us the furniture and my money paid for the 50 inch television. I was “hood rich,” living with nice things, a diamond ring, a fat herringbone necklace, designer bags and cute clothes. I got dressed in my room sometimes in the dark. I would fix my hair in the car, using the rear view mirror. I was going to the hairdresser and he would often remind me, “You didn’t have hair like that when we first got together and it still doesn’t take away from your chipped tooth.”

When he went to jail for selling drugs I finally was able to break free. I got my teeth fixed and people started telling me how nice my smile was. I smile daily even when I don’t feel like it, just because I realize they are contagious and makes you look better.

If I didn’t say what he wanted to hear we would always end up near the back pack where he kept a shot gun made by one of his customers. I knew he always said he wasn’t going back to jail. I then became a slave in my own house. After he would calm down as I lay in the fetal position scared of what would happen. I knew to do what he wanted before I ended up backed in the room with the back pack, which was on the top shelf, close enough to grab but far enough that if I tried to kick him in the groin.

After long nights in the street he would come home and tap me on my shoulder. I would squeeze my butt cheeks together tightly praying he would not try to get some. He would rub my shoulders, and try other sensual things even though I would push him away. Not sure of his temper I would reluctantly comply. He would force oral sex by putting his penis across my face while I was sleeping. I would turn away curling into the fetal position wondering when the pain would ever end and wanting to die. I felt violated on those nights. I never realized that my lack of consent meant he was raping me.

Since I wasn’t the best looking girl and my tooth was chipped I stayed with him thinking I would never get anyone this fine again. So I swallowed my pride and took the name calling and the put downs. When I looked in the mirror I hated the sight of myself, my hair was chewed up and wouldn’t grow. The only thing I had going for me was my body that all the guys drooled over. I had more sex offers than any other girl in school. I was beat down, broke busted and disgusted. I was anger, bitter and mad at the world. I looked to heaven to see if there was a God and if so when he was going to rescue me from the nightmare I was living.

The end came in the spring of 2000. I was nineteen years old and had just signed the closing paperwork on a house he thought I would be wise to purchase. My mother told me NOT to do it, but I thought he knew it all. I would often think about hurting him like he had hurt me but I never had the nerve to do it. He kept guns in the house so I had access to his weapons, I just didn’t know how to shoot them. On May 15, he found something to argue about before he went to pick his Aunt up from work. When he wanted to leave me at home he would always start an argument about something silly to “clear his mind.” This day his mind was full of a lot of thoughts and getting rid of me must have been at the top of the list.

I told him to put me and my daughter out of the car; he pulled over and did just that before driving home to get his red and black backpack with his gun in it. He stood in the drive-way pointed the gun at me and asked, ”Do you want me to spray your ass?”

I said no and took off running with my daughter on my side. Down the street two men who were outside working on a house asked if I wanted their help. I told them I didn’t want them to get hurt because of my foolishness. They never left, even when he pulled up, jumped out of the car and pointed the gun at me. I closed my eyes because I didn’t want to see what was going to happen. I asked that he not harm my daughter she was innocent and didn’t do anything to him. He got in the car and his tires started skidding from the speed. As I ran down the street all I could think was a bullet was going to come flying toward us.

The men asked if I was ok, and ran the opposite way. The police picked us up and asked where he went but I had no clue. He always said he wasn’t going back to jail, he said he would shoot at the police so they would kill him. They spotted his grey Cadillac with silver rims and let us out of the car. A lady driving past in a red car gave us a ride to my cousin’s house. I gave her some gas money and told her thank you a million times.

My cousin asked what was wrong and I told her “he is either dead or going to be dead.” She asked what I was talking about and before I could say another word my mother was on the phone looking for me, all the drama made breaking news on the local channels. He shot a lady cop in the neck, she was paralyzed and died two years later. They shot him eight times. That made my teenage years some of the most painful years of my life. I felt guilty, that a police officer who was doing her job got hurt.

After he was sober and had a chance to think. He did call to apologize to me. He told me he was never going to hurt me, he wanted to scare me. He was tired of me making threats to leave and didn’t know what it would be like without me. I did forgive him for his action and thankful I did being he is no longer here on earth. He died 10 years later from his injuries.

I want to encourage young ladies not to give so much so soon. If you ignore the warning signs and give away all of your information it will be hard to leave in the event he becomes violent at any stage in the relationship. Think about the one in four women who experience abuse from a spouse or boyfriend. If you have a friend in the situation I encourage you to be there for her just as my friend was for me. If you suspect a friend is being abused because you’ve noticed she can’t hang out, stops calling as much or just acts weird when he is around try not to cause a scene in front of him. If she opts not to talk about it still love on her in the best way.

Remember all women don’t get to walk away from domestic violence. Walk away before you’re carried away.

You can read more from Kia on her blog http://nomoreblows.wordpress.com/

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.

A good friend

As much as we may love our families, we all would have loved to have a say in to who would end up being part of the clan. God as always made a way and that’s why he gave us friends. Friends are the family we get to choose.

In some instances, friends are those who are there to bail you out of a situation without judgment, even before our family. They are the ones willing to tell you the truth when we don’t want to hear it. Even the ones who are willing to support you when you have a bad idea, tell you it’s bad, but because the friendship is more important; they rather be there when we crash than let us walk the plank alone.

God never intended for us to walk in life alone. He created us in a community. Even Jesus spent more time with 12 of his closest friends than with his family. The word of God tells us in Proverbs 27:9 Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Take this day to evaluate the relationships in your life and thank God for the friends He has placed in our paths.TheRoadHomeFinal

Talking about friendship, you will be delighted to check out my new book,“The Road Home”. Meet Desiree and her quest for true love, see how her friend Aimee supports her through all her ups and downs and is the one who shows her the way to the light at the end of the tunnel. The Road Home will be officially launching this Wednesday, June 13th 2012. Get ready to get your copy!