Keeping Your Daughter Innocent by Sonya

 

As I am raising three daughters, I am learning a lot about keeping their innocence. Especially my oldest daughter, I have realized our parenting needs to be so intentional as my husband and I are training her up where she should go! This verse has been essential to us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” Proverbs 22:6.  I truly believe if you are training your children in God’s word, and rooting them in His truth, that they will not depart from it. I am experiencing this firsthand as my daughter is in middle school and has lots of pressures of looking and acting a certain way. She comes home and tells me what things go on and what things are not appropriate and I try not to have the shock look but just listen. Because the more we just listen the more they share. My daughter sharing with me is allowing her to discern right from wrong and what God says and what the world wants you to believe. This is so powerful if your daughters can understand who they are in Christ and realize the importance of that.

Keeping your daughter innocent by speaking the truth does make a difference. The relationship with your daughter or children doesn’t come over night but takes constant effort and communication to work towards having that solid connection. This relationship of open communication and trust has been key in keeping her innocent because she hears first our opinion and not what her friends think on certain issues. Another essential part is being involved in their lives and helping out at school or their activities. I am thankful my daughter lets me chaperone her socials because I get to see her friendships and what her classmates are like. Being involved shows your daughters that they are valued and taking the time for them shows so much love and support. Also letting them be who God has designed them to be is very important in keeping them innocent and not trying to push your agenda or grow them up faster than they are ready for. My daughter loves ballet and dance and music and I never took dance so it took some time to get used to the fact that she didn’t want to do sports. I was an athlete in school and wanted her to experience that, but she doesn’t like sports so I had to hold back and allow God to develop her in the way she was made for.

Keeping that little girl in your daughter is about allowing her to just be in love with the simple things. My daughter still loves to play Barbies and babies and she is almost twelve years old.  Also she still wears bows in her hair to school almost every day just because she loves to dress up. As a parent embracing her little girl side and encouraging it is the best way to keep that innocence. So tell your daughters out there to “Rock that bow and keep the little girl side!”  Remind your daughters they are made in His image and, “They are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago,” Ephesians 2:10. God has big plans for your daughters and helping to keep your daughters innocence is a big part of that!

 

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Joy In The Mourning by Trish

 

 

Monday, November 21st is a day forever etched in my mind. It is the date my mom was promoted to her heavenly home. I traveled to Iowa on November 13th to be there the following day to celebrate her birthday with her in the hospital. Mom had been sick for one year without definite answers for the complicated health issues she had been experiencing and without a root cause there was no real strategy. That is until it was towards the end of her physical body saying, “that’s it, I’m tired”. On her birthday Mom was coherent but her body was exhausted and there was no real depth to conversation only short statements back and forth and a constant request for water to drink. The day following her birthday her team of doctors asked to meet with me before I flew back home to Orlando. After much assessment, research and aggressive treatment it was determined that although we now had answers to our questions, there was no hope for rehabilitation and with that we were given just days to spend time with our mom before she would transition to heaven. When those words were spoken, my mom instantly sat up in her bed, looked me in the eyes and said,  “I’m going to die… at least I got to go to your wedding.” The only thing I could do was bury my head in her pillow and sob. With a team of medical professionals standing around I cared nothing about what I must have looked like weeping in my mom’s pillow. I was just told I would have to let go of the most important person in my life. My mom never shed a tear, instead she looked at me and said, “Call your brother and let him know. It’s time to call the family in.”  She then began spewing out plans faster than I could write, her wishes for her funeral, the pallbearers, the colors were to be purple and pink because she said us kids made her feel like royalty. She wanted our pastor to sing In Christ Alone  and for my uncle Walt to sing also. I can’t explain what happened other than a surge of supernatural strength and grace as I asked what she wanted to wear and any other details not to be missed.

That evening my pastors met me at the hospital and when PJ, my little brother, arrived we told him together that mom was preparing for heaven and we only had days. There were tears but in that moment we all lifted our hands and began to worship. We turned the music up louder and sang without shame of the goodness of our God. His presence filled the room and strangely enough all was well. We began to pray together and my pastor shared scripture. It was a moment in time when heaven met earth in a tangible way right there at the University of Iowa Hospitals.

In the days to come I felt as though I was being carried, like grace had swept me off my feet and guided me through every moment of each day. While she was still in ICU I would pull my chair as close to my mom at night as I could get and sleep next to her. Many times I would awake in the night due to routine visits from the nursing staff and it would not be uncommon for my mom to ask EVERY nurse on duty if they knew Jesus. One night when she asked the nurse she replied, “Yes.” Mom said to her, “Good, just know that He has a great plan for your life. Would you mind if I pray for you?” The nurse said she could and I saw tears stream down her face uncontrollably as Mom declared blessing over her. Other moments included us just staring at each other and as tears would roll down my face she would just look at me, smile and say, “Trisha, it’s okay, I’m going to be with Jesus.”  She was so courageous and she anxiously welcomed her new transition with so much peace. She was at such peace that she instructed the doctors to take her off all medications and anything that provided her assistance with her health. Supernaturally, she was being sustained by the healing power of Christ. Once while my brother and I were in a meeting with the team of doctors, one spoke up and said, “We can’t understand how she is not in any pain?” Instantly another physician spoke up said, “The ONLY thing I can attribute it to is her faith”. Without hesitation my brother and I both declared that was EXACTLY the reason.

Every morning we would do devotions and thank God for another day and somehow that prayer meant more to me than ever before because for the first time, I was counting the days we’d be given. There were lots of prayers, smiles, hugs and I love yous . Minutes turned to hours and hours to days and before we knew it the clock had run out and Mom stepped into her eternal home. When my sister woke me up at around 11:00 pm November 21st and said Mom’s chest was no longer moving I embraced my new reality, she was gone. My brother led us in prayer right there in her room and all we could do was thank God for the journey and that this was not a forever goodbye just a  “see you later”. The doctor who confirmed her passing was one of the physicians Mom believed salvation for. His words to us were,  “If anyone could make me believe in God, it was this woman.” I never saw my mom more alive than when her physical body was dying.

Today, life is very different for me. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and shed tears. The pain is real but the grace is greater. You never get over losing someone but you do get through it.

While I would not want to walk through this scenario again in the same way as with my mom, I can honestly say I’m grateful for the journey. I walked with my mom through the valley of the shadow of death and there was no fear because death was just that, a shadow. For the believer, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Death did not win and sickness did not prevail.

I can testify that God is close to brokenhearted. He binds up our wounds and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We may not understand our circumstances but we can trust that God ALWAYS has our best interest at heart. He is a GOOD, GOOD Father!

My mom was just on loan to us here on earth; she belonged to Christ. While she would be the first to admit she was not perfect, she was the greatest mom I could have been given. While my heart is still hurting, I find strength and healing in knowing she imparted in me all that I need to carry out God’s assignment on my life AND one day I will be reunited with her in heaven!  The greatest way for me to honor my mom is to apply the Godly wisdom she instilled in me. I can still hear her words of wisdom echo in my ear, her laugh in my thoughts and her strength in my heartbeat. Most importantly I can feel God’s presence as close to me as my next breath and His love so tangible.

 

If you’re hurting today over the loss of a loved one, a dream or relationship…hold on to God because He’s holding onto you! So yes, while there is grief there is joy that comes in the morning AND in the mourning.

 

Photo Credit: Omar Galarza Photography

 

Feeling Grateful by Sonya

 

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“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 106:1

Coming into Thanksgiving this month, I have such an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  Truly each day is a gift from God! We can overlook that when everything is going well, but when a trial or challenge comes up it causes you to focus on what is important and become thankful and know that God loves us.

Just last week my middle daughter got diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy which is facial nerve damage and half of her face drooped and had no emotion. It was pretty scary as it looked like my daughter had a stroke, but it was a virus that caused this. The doctor said she would outgrow it within a few months but to this 9 year old it seemed like eternity and she didn’t want to go to school looking like that for a long time. Also there was a small percentage where you would have permanent damage. During this time, it caused me to draw closer to God in thanksgiving.  We were praising God for what He was going to do and how He was going to walk us through this. My daughter has such a strong faith in God and she taught me so much during this time to not give up on what God can do!

It amazed me how each day God was healing her little by little and now a week later she is almost completely healed. Praise God! This was no surprise to my daughter, as she believed God would take care of her and knew her prayers would be answered. She carried a grateful attitude by thanking God with each small victory as she was watching her face come back to life. This encouraged me to not give up when we are faced with a trial and to keep thanking God for what He is walking us through and each season of life we are in. Feeling grateful to be able to wake up each day and understand the present is God’s gift to us and we are to make the most of it! Don’t let this Thanksgiving slide on by without acknowledging all perfect gifts come from Him. Thank God in all areas of your life and rejoice in what He is doing and not look to your circumstances.

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Life Is Precious by Sonya

 

 

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This summer has put things into perspective for me as I have watched a family almost lose their daughter to ecoli. This family is some of our dear friends and it was hard to see their little girl go through this sickness and be at the hospital all summer long.  Praying for her healing put life in perspective for me as I realized how life is so precious and we need to live in the moment.  Living with purpose and understanding God gives and takes away.  We may not have tomorrow so what am I going to do for today?

Living with purpose can be hard. I think it is a mindset of living either here on earth or looking towards heaven. Is our mind focused on things of this earth or eternity? One Sunday the pastor showed an illustration of a rope that was several yards long and the first few inches were colored in red.  The red part of the rope meant our time on earth and the rest of that long robe meant eternity. It made you realize that our time of earth is so short and where am I spending my time?  Am I sowing the right seeds? Galatians 6:8 says it well, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

So we need to think about where we are sowing and if we are sowing the right seeds into those around us. Life is so precious and concentrating on what is important and having a heavenly focus is key. As we have watched that family grow in faith and love in God and who He is, it has gotten us excited to think about all that God is.  Our friend’s little girl is healing from her sickness and is home now from the hospital. In the midst of their suffering they have chosen joy and to follow in His great love for us.  Think how precious life is and how each moment is a gift from Him. Don’t let the days slip away but set your eyes on heaven and watch God open the doors!

 

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