People Need to Grow Too

your most powerful testimony....

 

Whether you are a child or an adult, you never stop learning and you should never stop growing and changing. The moment you stop growing, changing or learning, might be your last moment on Earth.

The same goes for Churches and denominations. They should also grow and change and learn. People need to step away from their “check list” of sins and look at the truth that Jesus tried to tell us…… He came to break down the wall that man had built up around the basic rules or laws.  He said to love each other, pray for those who wrong you, and serve the Lord your God. That’s it.

The world is changed by

Now look at what we have done. We did the same thing. We have taken the basic book, the bible, and we scare people with it. We make people feel bad about themselves. We become judges and juries. “but it says in the bible….” Don’t get me wrong, I love the bible but the reality is that we have taken a book that was written through the holy Spirit yet put together by men with some political agendas. We have used it to intimidate people.  People stop coming to church and stop believing. They don’t talk to their children about God or Jesus. Satan wins!!!

Is that what we want? No! We want to be accepted, loved, supported just as we are. It is not a sin to be black, white, Asian, gay, deaf, blind, or anything that isn’t “perfect”.   you know it’s against the law to walk your elephant down the main road of  town……you laugh but people have not changed some laws that are way out of date.

 

It’s not a sin to get a divorce and marry again, or get married after a spouse dies. It used to be considered a sin but we changed with the times……

It is time we change again. Actually, it’s long overdue. There is a school of thought that our church is starting to lean toward.  We want to help people come back to God’s house and feel loved and accepted.

We need to make the change

I have witnessed my churches generous heart with my husband and I. We stopped going to our church because we didn’t feel the support from the pastor who led the church at the time. then a couple years later, my husband was mowing the lawn and on an incline he leaned over to clean the deck of debris. he lost his balance, fell off and the mower went over his hand. All I heard was the mower stop, I came outside to see him walking and holding his right wrist yelling, “call 911, call 911”. by the time I got 911, he was by my car, “just drive me”. I threw the phone in the back seat and drove like Jimmy Johnson. Lights flashing, hazards on, honking my horn at 120mph. I got to the hospital that was 15 miles away in 8 min. As I’m getting out the cop finally pulls up behind me, I ignored him, punched the numbers into the keypad and took care of my husband. It was the loneliest,  day of my life. My husband was out of his mind in pain, screaming things he would never say. It was heart wrenching.  I wanted my family who were all 8 or more hours away. I tried calling the only friends we seemed to have down here but they were away too. I called my Aunt Judy (my mommy God gave me) she would pray and tell the family. I then thought, the pastor, no matter what we needed him. I went. A wonderful man named Tommy Mitchell was at the church. I told him what happened. He said the Pastor was away but gave me a number to reach him.  I ran home to take care of the dog and pack a bag for my husband. He was to be taken to Duke to be operated on.  I got back to the hospital and saw Tommy Mitchell there.  He didn’t have to but that’s just Tommy, big heart, does as Jesus would do. When my brother called and asked what he could do I jokingly told him send the family. 12 hours later I got a call from my Aunt Judy that she was coming down. God is Good!!!!!!

After the amputation of fingers and some time…… we got a check in the mail from that church…..they knew Bruce had lost his job in June and now we had bills to pay.  That floored us. We knew what to do and we slowly made our way back to the church. They accepted us back, lumps and all. Pastors had changed and we just all clicked.

God picks up nobodies and makes somebodies

This church could have shunned us, but they didn’t.  Love, acceptance is the core of these people.  Yet some still let things get in the way of that….they go back to their check list of comfort. I don’t understand why there are not more black people in our congregation until I remembered what someone said, “they probably don’t feel comfortable in a church like ours”.   Really? or is it we don’t make them feel comfortable? or is it that some people don’t feel comfortable or they are too afraid what others will think?

live by faith, not by fear

In January a gentleman was invited to come to our service. He felt so accepted and loved that he and his husband have become a part of our church.  When I met them officially in April, it was instant kinship. I could feel it. The holy spirit moving through the church. These are men of God and an answer to my prayers for this church.  Some people got to know them and accept them for who they are. Some, took to their fears and are missing out on two great christian men!

Now they are working on our second  contemporary service which has been shrinking because our youth is all growing up and going to college. They have taken it online so that if people can’t get back into town can see it now. It’s still growing trying to get more people to do the singing, fundraising, cooking, etc…..  They are working harder than anyone has on the mission of this service we call, “Spark the Fire”.  The mission is to create a place of love, acceptance, and reconciliation of all God’s people. All skin colors, all abilities, all ages. I’m even trying to do some sign language on there!!!! God is moving and grooving! Who knows, maybe I’ll even sing….. Here is the mission:

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We at Ahoskie United Methodist Church, embark on a journey of reconciliation as we celebrate the diversity of all God’s children and recognize the sacred worth of all persons regardless of race, age, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, physical or mental capacity, education or economic or marital status.

The outreach mission of Spark the Fire Ministries is to proclaim this statement of welcome to all who have known the pain of exclusion and discrimination within the universal church, and offer a safe place for all to worship at our sides without judgment, and invite all to participate in our services without fear of exclusion.

The point? Churches can’t do the same thing for for 10 generations anymore. Jesus was friends with tax collectors, women, the unclean, the Lepers, the people that others felt uncomfortable being around. Well, as for me, I want to be more like Jesus and Thomas.   I said to someone, “half my family is black, half my family is deaf, part of my family is sprinkled with some Latinos and the rest is topped with a couple of wonderful homosexuals and if anyone has a problem with that, it’s THEIR problem, and they can keep it to themselves.”

What can I say, I have gotten bold in my old age and I love my family no matter what color or country they come from, and it makes me sad and mad when people say they are accepting but then they complain about people coming to a church. How can you do that? People seem to find a way to be against other people. Can we change this??????

It all baffles the Child-like faith I have. Call me crazy but I don’t let my pride or ego get in my way. I’m glad that there some people who are consistent and dedicated to this church. We all go through “growing pains” and we all come back to the basic conclusion, God meant for this to happen to see who were the strong of faith and who were not……  Who is part of a church for God and not just out of obligation?

Come back to church and give God a chance. good-church-quote-by-dr-martin-luther-kingjr-faith-is-taking-the-first-step-even-ehen-you-dont-see-the-whole-staircase

If you want to support our church please go to http://www.Ahoskieumc.org  or go on facebook to find Ahoskieumc or https://www.facebook.com/Sparkthefireahoskie/  or Ahoskieumw….contact us one way shape or another. We can help you learn about us, God and I pray heal your hearts.

As Reba’s new song says, “We are still worth saving, we got to give this world back to God.” and get out of his way.

 

Success: What is it?

success-definition-10820480     I apologize for not as often as I should….my only excuse is that this past year has been more difficult to get time to myself and my writing. In December there were some deaths of people that got me thinking. What will I be remembered for when it’s my time? Have I been successful? What is success?

Then I realized that this is what everyone thinks about. So let’s start with the definition.

Webster’s definition is:  favorable or desired outcome; also :  the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

I believe there are 2 realms of success: success of the world and success of the spirit. you can have one or the other, you cannot have both. Though if you do have success in one it will lead to success in the other but only one way: Spiritual success must come first.

For me, success has come in many forms that most don’t think about. I was successful to not become an alcoholic like my mom, when all the statistics said otherwise.  I was successful in surviving for 10 years on my own, with very little pay, and bills that exceeded my income. I was successful to find a church that I wanted to be a part of which led me to my husband. God orchestrated all of these successes and he’s not finished yet.

definition-of-success

Now, many people believe that being a success is having a home, paying the bills, being able to save a little and give a little, as well as not having to worry about every little penny. They believe that if they don’t have a $50,000/yr or $500,000/yr job that they are not successful. Really??????

I tell my students that if they want to be able to live on their own they need to earn at least 25, 000/yr or $14/hr . The only way they can get to their dream is to figure out what God’s dream is for them to do……

 

meaning-of-success-john-gray

For me, no matter what job I was in, be it retail or hospitality, I was always teaching someone something. I finally got the hint from God that I was to stay in teaching, one way shape or another. I have tutored, been an assistant teacher, been a middle school teacher, been a GED teacher, and now a teacher for adjudicated youth. This is what God was preparing me for. My goals are to succeed at what God wants me to do. Teaching and writing are 2 of those things I know God wants me to do. I guess I need to work on some daily things, like patience and stress,  for that teaching before I will be a success at writing.

God has plans for U

So, what is success for you? Do you really need to have that 5 bedroom 2 story house to feel successful? To be successful do you need to just have someone recognize your gifts and say, “I have a job that pays only $10,000/yr or $3/hr more than what you are earning now but there will be room to grow.”?    Is success just being able to get all the chores done, dinner cooked, and animals fed?  Is success taking just the right photographs that someone would want to purchase? Is success bridging two organizations so that one takes care of the other?

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For me, if I can inspire people, to do God’s will and to do good things and love others, then I am a success!!!!

What is Success for you???? What will your obituary say about you and your successes here on earth?

 

Humans Tolerate, God is Acceptance

jesuschrist Love one another414650

   I remember stories of a time long ago, when a church put in microphones, to record the pastor’s sermons, so that people who could not come to church due to illness or whatever, could get the tape and still be given the message. There were people who opposed this technology entering the sanctuary and they left the church. I always thought it was so silly for people to leave a church because of microphones or other technology. Why do you go to church? For the place, or for God? Those people eventually returned and tolerated the technology since all the churches were adding microphones…then later it was movie screens…then sound systems ….then people of other colors, races, or sexual orientations……. and people would leave then return.

   It all comes down to tolerance or acceptance. There is a big difference and it has to do with our human side and our faith.

    To have tolerance means to “put up with” certain people or behaviors. I have a high tolerance for certain behaviors that I expect out of my students and very low tolerance for behaviors that we are trying to help them with. Humans tolerate other humans.

    God is all about the acceptance.  God sent his only son to accept our sins, to accept us, warts and all. This is why he sent his only son, to live among us, to understand our reasoning, and teach us how we got it all wrong.  At that time, I believe, Jesus knew he could only reach a certain number of people. He also knew that, when the time came, only a handful would be there to teach others abut his one message of love.

    If you recall, Jesus had a core group known as the disciples. They had flaws like fear, lack of faith, and a little judgement. Jesus accepted this about them and just kept teaching and repeating the same thing, in different ways, t o love everyone.

just love God’s got this!!!!! Who are we to judge!

  Jesus even accepted the fact that there would be people, “stuck”, in their old teachings and thought that was the only way to heaven. We call them the Pharisees. He tolerated their persecutional questioning of his every move at every turn. He was patient with them and had the insight that his followers would go through the same persecution for generations to come and he had to show them how to respond to these Pharisees.

I also think that, even though the Pharisees seems confident, Jesus saw their fear. Maybe the Pharisees were afraid that people would no longer listen to them if Jesus was the Messiah. Their “power” would be gone.

     We all know some “pharisees”  of the modern day. Those people who say things like, “That’s not right, this is the way we have been doing it for generations.”   or   “If they start putting all that new fangled technology in the sanctuary, I’m leaving!”  or ” If they let THOSE people in, I may have to go to a “real” church.” All of these statements are paraphrases from people in the stories I was told way up in NJ.  Evidently, every generation has had some “pharisees” in them.

your most powerful testimony....   It’s our human side that has a fear of change. It’s our human side that Jesus accepted and died for. We can tolerate certain human things like fear, anger, violence, etc… but our faiths, be it Christianity, true Muslim, or Judaism, mean that we believe in God and God is all about the LOVE. We need to overshadow our human side with the acceptance that God shows us every minute of every day with love.

   God is love, love is God. Heaven is love. If we are to live on earth as we will in heaven then we must trust and obey. Our job on this earth is to love. Leave the judging to God.

    Please Lord, tell me if I am doing your will or am I pharisee too?  I pray that I show love to all as you show us. Amen

It’s Memorial Day……..Again

 

Memories can be foggy

I was looking back at a blog I posted, New Traditions: What Is Memorial Day?  It was pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day after the Civil war. It was a day to remember all the people who served in the military and who died. This is different than Veterans Day when we pay tribute to all the living  men and women who are currently serving or have served in the military in the past. Memorial Day Graves

Memorial Day should be a day for family to gather and remember other family members who have served them in the past. To just remember those who were in the military, who served at some capacity in a war or military movement. My Dad was in the Korean War. I’m not sure what he did but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t shooting a gun…. My granddaddy was a guard in Newark, NJ. I’m not sure what he guarded but he served. My Pappa’s father was in the army…..they moved a few times even to Alaska.  So, you see, all families have some relative who served in our military forces. The stories of these family members need to be told and handed down to the next generation. This is what Memorial Day should be about, the remembering of our military in our families shared with others. This way they are never forgotten and will live on.

 

Memorial Day should be about the people who sacrificed a part or all of their lives so that you could live a free life of faith. Wait, didn’t Jesus do that? He sacrificed his life so that we could live. Jesus also need to be remembered on this day, and everyday. He gave strength to many soldiers, around the world.

memorial day wreath

Here are some thoughts to  ponder on when you comment on this post.      Why is Memorial Day important to you?   What do you do for Memorial Day? How can you make this a better family day? Who do you remember on this holiday?  How does God fit into your Memorial Day Weekend?

Until next time, God bless!!!!

Mothers in Every Form

1 his presence by jeremy winborg portrait of mary and the baby jesus oil painting nativity

Mother’s Day, that one day to say thank you to someone who, for 364 days, will love, worry, nag, cry, cheer, pray, and care for you. Mothers come in all shapes, sizes and names.

photo-1 There is, naturally, the “biological mother”, otherwise known as one who carried you in her womb for 9 months then went through anywhere from a few hours to 36 hours of agonizing labor to bring you into this world and won’t let you forget it for at least 60 years of your life.

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There is also the “God given mother”. This is the wonderful person who takes a child as their own. Also called the “easiest birth ever”. They may adopt a child or just be their guardian. Some are called mom, grandma, etc…. I call mine, Aunt Judy. She earned the title out of respect and she asked me to call her that long before she took me in.
Another type of “mum” is the “pseudo mother” or a person who acts like a mother but is not a mother themselves. Many teachers fill this title and yet are told, “you don’t have children , you don’t understand”.  mhfc-logo
I had 4 souls who went to live with God, so that he could send me 400 children to care for as a “pseudo mother”. I nag them, pray for them, cheer them on, consequence them when needed and care for them.

Come to think of it you do the same for your pets. 20111025210938  Samba    Image        OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     Maddy with sister's ball
So, just remember, mothers come in all shapes, sizes and titles. Honor them everyday, not just on Mother’s Day!
Until next time, God bless you all!!!!

Many Ways To Grow

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I am so excited! I have had a request! Someone from asked me: how can the youth show such significant growth in the standardized test I give them? The answer is multifaceted. First I need to explain the testing we do, and the circumstances with which I work with.

keep-calm-test-on

The group home teachers are instructed to give each youth a standardized test, called a WRAT (Writing, Reading, Aptitude Test) when they first arrive and when they leave, in order to show their growth or lack of growth.  A 4 part test in spelling, math, word reading and sentence comprehension.  It  helps to give us a basic sense of where their brain is academically. This is also a good time to talk a little and get a sense of the child’s personality and attitude. I try to wait to give this test with in the first month of their arrival. This gives the youth time to adjust to the group home. They go through a few days to a week of almost denial that they are there. Some seem angry, some accept the situation. So, I give them time.

You Are only confined by walls you make

When the youth arrive, they come in from all sorts of situations. Some arrive with families. Others arrive in handcuffs and shackles from detention centers. This may be the first time they have seen their family in a month or more.  Some of the youth that arrive come with academic information such as report cards and a few we are able to get their IEP.  Two or three times a year we get youth that have very low IQ levels of <70. In the 5 + years I have worked here, I have observed that if a child has an IQ less than 65 they won’t get much from our program.  However, with the tests, we have seen growth even with these low IQ youth. The fact of the matter is, even with all the stress these youth go through, about 85% of them leave showing huge growth.  I will give you a few examples.

sign, believe

Most of these children come from single parent or grandparent homes.  I remember 8th grader who’s home was not good. His mother never came to see him. She would make promises right up to Friday morning when he earned his visit home and would call and say she couldn’t come and he couldn’t come home…..It broke our hearts. I gave him his first WRAT test 3 weeks after he arrived and he scored very low. 1.7 wr, 1.0 sc, 2.1 sp., 3.5 math. These are grade equivalency numbers.  3 months later he scored 2.4, 1.7, 2.0 and 3.8. Not bad for just 3 months. We found him a foster home and I had the privilege to go with him when the FSS at the time took him. I think he felt much better when I gave it all my blessing.

Another young man who was in 7th grade, seemed to always need to be near me. Every morning when I was trying to get things ready, or at break, there he was…..and I heard he always was ready for church, when he went home but his mom could not get him there. That didn’t discourage him. He kept reading his bible and keeping the faith. He increased his grade levels on those tests incredibly. Wr., 5.4 to 10.3, Sc. 9.9 to 12.9, Sp, 12.7 to 12.9 and math 5.1 to 5.9

God has plans for U

We have had some older youth who have come in with psychological and neurological disorders. I expect the same hard work from all youth. I teach them not to use their abilities as disabilities or excuses. One 9th grade female youth suffered from Axiety and it seemed everything triggered it. Other kids laughing or seemed like they were laughing at her, not doing a chore right, getting corrected by staff in firm tones, and she never volunteered to give answers in class or speak in front of the group.  “WRATwise” she increased her math from 8.7 to a 12.9, she was a 12.9 in the other areas. She raised her hand to answer questions in my class. She did her project for health and presented it in front of the class. At our annual graduation, the youth are asked if anyone wants to speak and she raised her hand first. I thought her Court counselor was going to fall over. I was proud of her.

One last example is a youth who probably should have never come but I’m glad she did. We were not told of her disability, but when talking to her you could tell, something was not right. After begging with the school for her information we found out that she had an IQ of 63. By the time I found out she was half way through the program. Here’s her results from the test:                     word reading:         3.5    to           7.4                       Sentence comprehension  : 6.5    to    8.2         spelling:  5.1 to   6.8                  and    Math         Kindergarten (k.0)     to        10.1                      Pretty cool!!!!! yet, her mother still worked at night and they lived in a motel.  Her perception of the world was quite ……different.  

Im still working on you-God

These are just a few examples of the growth. Some did not show growth at all and others only grew in one area.  But for all of these youth, growth happens on many different levels and you can’t test all that.  The only way to know if they grew as people is to find out how successful they are in life.  Every spring there is always a visit or a call from some former youth.  The girl with the Anxiety is finishing her GED and has a job that doesn’t cause too much anxiety.  The young man who was at my hip, he called and said he is finishing middle school and doing fine.  I even had a visit from a youth from my first group, back in 2010, letting us know he’s getting married and is doing well.

I may only have them for 4-6 months now, and maybe, others just think I’m a “glorified babysitter” or just a mild mannered teacher, 20151213_153053

but I know that I am a certified NC teacher who chose to work for God and teach the children that others find challenging.  I create the transcripts and the IEP’s (in a single bound) . I teach 5 subjects, created a working/growing curriculum,   plug in several skills into the lessons, and teach 6 core values everyday to children who don’t want to be there or who view all adults as the “enemy”.  (It’s a bird, no it’s super-teacher)Super_Teacher2

If anything,  Methodist Home For Children’s group homes show that with a smaller class size, hard work, structure, and a lot of patience and love,  most adjudicated youth can be taught and become successful in life.

Keep the requests coming and God bless you all!!!

Connections

bridge kids

It feels like my whole life I have been “the connector”, “the hinge”, or the “bridge” between everyone. When I was little it was between my grandfather and my brothers or my paternal family and my maternal family.  I have been a “link” as long as I can remember. There was a time I didn’t want to do it. I was tired and scared to be the one to keep people talking to each other.  At one point my brothers were at odds with each other but a wise person told me, “remember, it said in the bible, a child shall lead them.” So, I started to accept my position as the “bridge” to bring people together.  Part of me still wanted to fight it. After all I’m not that special.  Yet, last summer I was still trying to make re connections with my cousins and Aunt on the paternal side of my family and I succeeded.    20151128_120606

I found my cousin, Vicki, living in Idaho, married and happy. Her brother, Scott, successful and married in NJ. My Aunt was suffering from dementia. I gave information and connected my brothers to our cousins again. My  cousin decided that since she was retired she had more time to take care of my Aunt in Idaho. My aunt loved the re-connection. She wrote to me and they even had a chocolate cake in my honor on my birthday. Pretty cool that 2000 miles away I could make her smile.  Sadly,  right after this Easter, Aunt Carolyn had a stroke and a week later she died. I was very upset. I tried calling but the connection was very bad. We are texting and emailing as much as we can.  God must have thought that since I did such a good job connecting my family, he would give me a larger challenge. Connecting strangers.

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Even though the original orphanage in Raleigh, NC was started by the United Methodist Church, time and community needs have changed that part of the relationship. Now we are separated from the church itself because we work with state programs. However, it is the kindness of the members of the churches that keeps us going.

April 3rd,  I was invited by our volunteer who teaches art at my group home, to come to her church because the members had bought bibles for my youth! She wanted me there for the blessing and to thank the church for their involvement with MHFC. It was a very touching and fun service at Camden United Methodist Church.

See, I believe that God put me into these different positions to make more or deeper connections between the people and MHFC. I am a teacher for MHFC, a member of the Ahoskie United Methodist Church, and the United Methodist Women’s District officer for Membership and Nurturing.umw

The more people I talk to the more people find out about MHFC and all the different programs there are. We do serve 1500+ youth and their families. We are also adding new programs such as private adoption, an assessment center in Butner, NC, and one in Winston-Salem.

One kind act or word will change a life

It’s time for the people to make connections. Take a chance.  We need people to give their time, their hearts, their talents,  and their gifts. I work for God and am blessed enough to  get paid, monetarily and spiritually. I am even more blessed to work with people who  go through the volunteer paperwork and  come to our group home to work with our youth for no pay at all.  Our art teaching volunteer says that having the chance to do her favorite hobby with the youth and watching the growth of some youth is her paycheck.  The “paycheck” that God has is one that pays on Earth as it does in heaven. It is priceless and not bound by this world. Take a chance on something that will pay you the rest of your life. Make the connection and find out what you can do for MHFC.

(Click on the “Being Proactive” menu at top of page)