Why I Have Hope for Katy Perry

My book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, is about a prodigal, aka me, raising a prodigal. As I’ve read about Katy Perry’s recent public confessions of why she turned away from her childhood Christian faith, I saw a certain parallel to my life. No, I never became a multimillion dollar, outrageously popular pop star, but I did turn my back on my Christian faith after my divorce and became a very successful businesswoman living a worldly life while raising my prodigal.

Katy’s father is a pastor and her childhood home was faith-filled. In her public therapy session aired on Viceland, she went by her birth name Katheryn Hudson. Faithwire wrote an article from this session, Why Kathy Perry’s Rejection of Her Childhood Faith Should Concern Every Bible-Believing Christian. They quoted Hudson as saying, “I grew up with a lot of born-again Christian beliefs around me, and so I had people around me — like-minded people — and I would say it was a bit of a bubble,” Hudson explained. “I was a very curious person, and the curiosity — sometimes it wasn’t allowed because you had to have faith.”

The article goes on to say that Hudson explained she was “curious about what was going on in the rest of the world, and how they lived, and what they saw as they were living . . . I felt like I was missing out.” She decided to explore her singing career further to “pop [her] own bubble, to get out of [her] own situation.”

“I guess I was just trying to get out of one way of thinking. It was like ‘do as I say, no ifs, ands, or buts. It was based on my religious upbringing… I have so many questions. I ask all the questions in the world, and all the questions in the world have gotten me to where I am at now.” [To read the whole article]

There is so much in that last statement about finding answers in the world, which made her rich and famous, but spiritually bankrupt denouncing her faith and  singing songs with provocative, shocking lyrics and movements that many young girls listen to and imitate.

Why did she turn to the world for answers? Because she couldn’t find answers to her questions in the church. She was raised around born-again Christians, but never actually says she was born-again.

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I challenge the church with that same thought: “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to. Not encumber them with rules easily broken, but guide them toward a relationship they wouldn’t forfeit or jeopardize for anything.” I ask the question: “How many are making sure their children and grandchildren understand, accept, and embrace the Christian lifestyle? How many know, for certain, their children have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

Again I warn in Forsaken God?: “The church failed to reach out to the next generation with a message relevant to the world they live in today, but the secular world was ready and waiting for them. . . .Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.”

I stress exactly what Katy Perry said she couldn’t get from the Christian “bubble.”

They need mentors and parents to have the tough, honest discussion about abortion, sexuality, sexual exploitation, marriage, same-sex attraction, transgenderism, radical Islam, cults, drugs, alcohol, suicide . . . whatever they’re facing in their world.

My “Katy Perry” Story

When I left my good-girl Christian lifestyle, even though I was a born-again Christian since age eleven, I felt just like Katy that I was missing something “out in the world.” Satan makes sin seem fun and enticing. And there were plenty of people ready to teach me the “world’s ways.” I was naïve enough not to understand how quickly I was being sucked into that lifestyle.

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home like Katy was, but I did have a very devout grandmother who planted the seeds of faith in me. My mother would drop me off at church, but I was on my own. I loved everything about church and did find mentors and “spiritual mothers” to answer my questions until I went away to college and there was no one guiding me not to marry an unbeliever or pray with me about my choices.

What Brought Me Back to the Lord?

After seventeen years of backsliding, I was invited to a Harvest Crusade where Pastor Greg Laurie asked the crowd if they were ready to die that night? The Lord had gradually been bringing me back to Him through attending Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and I knew the answer to Pastor Laurie’s question was, no. I rededicated my life to the Lord that night and God has been using me About His Work ever since.

I think Katy Perry, Katherine Hudson’s, public “therapy” session is her cry for help. I know she feels God on her shoulder calling her back with every provocative move, word, and action she uses to try to separate from Him.

What Can We Do?

Katy Perry’s mother, a minister’s wife, author, and a mentor to many Christian women, has some advice that she shared in an interview by J. Lee Grady, Charisma News, “How Katy Perry’s Mother Praises God Through the Pain.” Grady asks: How does a Christian mother handle it when she sees her daughter drifting so far from the values she taught her?

“The devil definitely tries to steal my joy,” Mary told me. “I sometimes have to fight depression.” A few years ago, Mary anchored her soul to Psalm 113:9, which says, “He gives the barren woman a dwelling, making her the joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

“That verse inspired her to write her 2015 book, Joyful Parent, Happy Home. Mary believes if you want your children to live for God, “You have to get happy and stay in the ‘God zone.’ Mary’s close friends also support her unconditionally. And she asks new friends to agree with her in prayer for a miracle turnaround for her daughter . . . Mary believes parents of prodigals must focus on others rather than wallowing in their own pain. For the past 11 years she has poured her life into women who attend her Arise conferences.” The full interview is at CharismaNews.

Mary also mentioned something important that I share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: show unconditional love to your prodigal, and as much as it is up to you, keep the lines of communication open.

Praise God, both my daughter and I enjoy a wonderful relationship with God and each other. I now have precious grandchildren to help pour into spiritually. I want to make sure I’m not just telling them what to believe, but helping them come to their own conclusions. To feel free to ask us questions and to help them solve their faith problems without giving them the answers we think they should arrive at. To help them develop problem-solving techniques and know where and how to go to the Bible when they question something happening in the world.

When they ask if I know that Katy Perry “used to be a Christian,” we talk about the fact that if she did give her heart to Jesus as a child, she still is a Christian, but she’s not living like one, so let’s pray for her.

The 6/26/17 issue of Time Magazine, quoted Katy’s apology for “criticized acts of cultural appropriation”: “I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong. And sometimes that’s what it takes.” Let’s pray Katy hears from God that she’s been doing wrong and apologizes to Him. Someday, Katy could have an amazing testimony and God will use it for good. Pray it’s soon before she influences more young girls and women for the world.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

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PS I just realized this is the end of June already and should be Love Your Body Monday, but this post was on my heart so I’ll post a Love Your Body blog for the 4th of July week!

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Are You The Woman Today You Want Your Daughter to Become?

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I’ve been writing, editing, and proofing a new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Last week, I turned in my final proof edit to the publishers, Leafwood Publisher, as I anticipate it’s September 12, 2017 release. Then I learned the exciting news that this book is now on Amazon ready for preorders! You can order now, and as soon as it’s in stock at Amazon, you’ll receive your pre-release copies. The more preorders, the more they bring in stock. Will you help me get this book into the hands of mentors and mentees, those wanting to know how to be a mentor or mentee, and Women’s Ministry Directors to guide women in all seasons of their life.

This book will guide and equip women from tweens to twilight seasons in how to biblically mentor or be a mentee! I think it’s the first book of it’s kind written for both M&M’S! One endorser has already said every Women’s Ministry Director needs this book in her library. As the summer goes on, I’ll share more tidbits about this book for all women.  So drum roll please . . . I’m unveiling the cover!

The Mothering Season

When I speak to women about mentoring, I tell them that their first mentoring responsibility is to their daughters if they have daughters or nieces. They’re the role model for these young girls and they’re mentoring to them what it looks like to be a woman today: either a woman of the world or a woman of the Word. And then, I ask the question: Are you the woman today you want your daughters to become because they’re watching you, and as much as they don’t want to be like you, they will probably become just like you at sometime in their life.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how during my backsliding years, my daughter wanted to be just like me. I realized some of the poor choices she was making were a reflection of the poor choices she was watching me make.

That was a huge revelation to me that I needed to make some changes in my life. When I did rededicate my life to the Lord and start living a godly life, she didn’t want any part of it. She liked the way we were living more by the world’s standards than by God’s ways. And that’s the story I talk about in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I went down on my knees and prayed Scripture for her daily for six years; all the time showing and role modeling for her the blessings of being a rededicated woman of faith.

I’m happy to say our story took a happy turn and Kim did eventually give her heart to Jesus, and she has done a much better job than I did raising her three children in a Christian household. She’s mentored them in character qualities that her two daughters and son are obviously noticing. For a school project, 3rd grader Sienna was to write why her mom should be in People Magazine. I must admit, I was troubled by this teacher’s choice of a magazine that 3rd graders had no business knowing about or writing an article for, so I was relieved when Sienna said she had no idea what People Magazine was, anyway!

But what did impress me were the character qualities Sienna wrote that she saw in her mom. My daughter is a fitness instructor with a fabulous figure, she’s gorgeous, dresses stylishly, and always looks beautiful. So when Sienna decided to write about why her mom should be on the cover of People Magazine, she easily could have talked about these superficial, outward qualities, but at eight-years old this is what she wrote, exactly how she wrote it, no edits from Grammie:

My mom should be on the cover of the People magazine. My mom’s name is Kim Mancini. My mom is medium height, has brown hair, and her eyes are brown. There are so many reasons why my mom should be on the cover of the People Magazine.

One of the amazing things about my mom is that she is trustworthy. My mom trusts me all the time. My mom does not lie. My mom is trustworthy with my whole family. Now you know why my mom is trustworthy.

My mom is the most honest person in the world. She is honest with me. She once said, “Do not be scared that’s not real.” My mom is honest with my grandparents. There is no doubt, my mom should be on the People Magazine because she is so honest.

My mom is so helpful. My mom helps me when I am hurt. My mom helps me with my homework. She helps me get ready for school. My mom should win an award for being the best mom ever. My mom is the best mom in the world.

By Sienna

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Sienna’s mom, is trustworthy, honest, and helpful. Later she wished she had included hardworking. Isn’t that what every mom wants all her children, not just her daughters, to say about her?! Good job Kim.

What would your kids write why you should be on the cover of People Magazine?

The Mancini family. Sienna is next to her brother

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Messy Journey, Offering the Prodigal a Way Home by Lori Wildenberg

I always teach that mentoring the next generation starts with our own family. But what do you do when your children or grandchildren are walking with the world instead of with God? As many of you know, parenting prodigals is dear to my heart and prompted me to share our family’s journey in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents.

Today, my author friend, and licensed parent and family educator Lori Wildenberg offers practical grace- and truth-filled ways of navigating your relationship with a detoured child whether they are rejecting faith, dabbling in sin, or wholeheartedly embracing sinful behavior.

Lori knows the heartache of having a rebel child. Her new release Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home is for parents walking the difficult road with a wayward child. Be inspired to drink the deep waters of peace as you draw closer to the Father of all prodigals. There is hope. After all, their struggle isn’t really with you, it’s with God.

 

MESSY LIFE by Lori Wildenberg

“When her parents discovered she was pregnant, they kicked her out.”

This single mom has defied the odds. She is raising her child, going to college, and working to support the two of them.

Not easy.

I don’t know the details of this woman’s story. I have no clue as to the relationship she had or has with her parents. I don’t know all the times of trouble that led up to this separation.

But…

I do know a number of families in a similar situation who chose to do life differently. They chose to support their unwed pregnant daughter and help her in her time of need. Three of the girls kept their babies. All three are now married (not to the baby daddy), another girl miscarried (now married with kids), and a fifth made an open adoption plan.

During the most difficult time in their life, each young mom knew her parents were there for her. Each woman in the middle of the mess knew she could count on her parents to help stabilize the shaky ground. All girls are now thriving.

As daughter’s of Eve and sons of Adam, we make decisions that are not in our best interest, ones that are not God’s best for us.

Humans have a wandering propensity.

Some young people stray due to an unwed pregnancy, sexual sin, porn, substance abuse, or a rejection of faith. When we have a prodigal, sometimes we are to let ’em go (see Luke 15) and other times we are to chase after our lost sheep (see Luke 15).

Either way, we need to keep the bridge built so our prodigal is able to return.

I have a child who, for a season, stepped away from the family. It was the most painful thing I have ever endured. There were times I chased her down like the shepherd and other times I waited like the dad.

I cried. I prayed.

I was a mess. I was weak.

God was strong.

Praise God, He brought her back to us.

I am thankful I kept the drawbridge down so she could cross it.

If your young person has taken a detour from the way in which he should go, keep the bridge open.

Don’t destroy it, build it.

During a messy life, lay down the planks of unconditional love: grace, humility, mercy, forgiveness, honesty, and truth.

Build the bridge and yes…they will come.

Back.

“Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
Luke 15:6b (NIV)

Where is God calling you to build or rebuild a relational bridge?

If you received this post by email, leave a comment here.

Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books with Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home published by New Hope as her most recent. She is a parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom over at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page. Lori is a contributor to a number of on-line magazines. Every Monday you can find her blogging about faith and family. Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenberg’s home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her hubby, four kids plus a daughter-in-love, and Murphy the family labradoodle.

Find Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home at Amazon.

Additional Books:
Raising Little Kids with Big Love (for parents of toddlers- 9)
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (for parents of tweens-young adults)

www.loriwildenberg.blogspot.com

www.loriwildenberg.com

www.facebook.com/momstogether

www.facebook.com/1Corinthians13Parenting

www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com
https://twitter.com/LoriWildenberg

https://pinterest.com/loriwildenberg/

Instagram: LoriWildenberg

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Three Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years of Marriage!

wedding-picture

Yes, as you read today’s Monday Morning Blog, December 19, 2016, hubby and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary! Several of you have mentioned you enjoy learning a little about my life lessons in these Monday mornings blogs, so as I pondered what to share with you so close to Christmas, I thought what better words of wisdom than what God has taught me about loss, life, and love in our marriage. I hope you’ll keep reading, even if you’re not married, because the principles God has taught me can apply to any relationship.

Loss of Expectations

Our wedding, just six days before Christmas, was a second marriage for both of us. Dave had three children and I had one daughter. I was single for seventeen years and Dave only a few years. The kids ranged in age from fifteen to nineteen, so I didn’t anticipate any problems in everyone living happily ever after.

Well, if you’ve blended a family or been around one, you’re probably laughing hysterically about now. Blending didn’t come without its challenges, and we all brought baggage and different ways of doing things from our original families. I learned right away that I was going to have to lower, and in many cases lose, my expectations: we would never be a nuclear family. Christmas or holidays or special occasions would always be a compromise of negotiating between two families, which would only become more complicated as the kids married and added extended families with their own traditions.

I couldn’t control who would be with us on what day or at what time . . . or even at all. There has only been one time since all our grandchildren were born that all four children, their spouses, and the eleven grandchildren were together, and that was at Thanksgiving six years ago at our son’s house—it wasn’t even at our home. For Dave’s 70th birthday last year, I had a dream . . . still hadn’t let go of all those expectations . . . of the whole family celebrating together for a reunion at our home in Idaho, where some had yet to visit. But one family couldn’t join us.

Dave and I have learned to pray about each event, and then enjoy who comes and not worry over who doesn’t. That hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn, but it has been necessary to maintain sanity and family relations. It relieves stress, worry, and disappointment when I let go of my expectations and let God fulfill His.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What Divorced Christians Want You To Know

Life Is Ever Evolving

When we were first married, Dave had a wonderful job with great benefits. I was so happy that I would have some relief from the pressures of supporting a family after seventeen years of being a single mom. So after three years, we decided when the last child left home, I could quit my job and go into full-time lay ministry starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church. If you’re not familiar with the term “lay ministry,” it means no pay. I was never on staff at Saddleback. Three months after I quit my job, Dave was laid off from his corporate career and that was the end of a corporate job with benefits and great income . . . forever!

Read more of that story at About His Work Ministries.

Dave eventually found various labor-intensive jobs, until the last one resulted in him having to have reconstructive foot surgery and medically retire, which is how we ended up moving to Idaho. I tell that story, along with his multiple layoffs, in Dear God, He’s Home!: A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-At-Home Man.

Right before Dave’s second layoff, I had my first battle with Breast Cancer and started radiation two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Little did we know then that I would go on to have breast cancer two more times, and 6 ft. 4 in. Dave would take a job that had him in a uniform crawling on his belly under houses and in attics. But through it all, God has kept me About His Work, and used us in a mighty way. Dave supports me as I write and speak for the Lord. Dave is my helpmate with his techie abilities, helping with the website, and for those of you who receive our newsletter, I write the articles but he puts it together.

Dave now travels with me when I speak, and the women really appreciate how we work as a team with him “manning” the book table. I used to pray that God would send me an assistant . . . I just never expected it to be Dave. Our personalities and gifts are polar opposite, but God has taught us, as life has evolved over these twenty-four years, how to combine our differences into a united effort working together for the Lord. What Satan tries to pull apart and use to separate us, we’ve learned to identify and let God make us stronger and better together.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Love Jesus First

pastor-pete-marrying-us

If you’ve read Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter or Dear God, He’s Home! I talk about a Marriage Builders course taught at the time by Pastor Pete McKenzie who married us [picture above]. On a whiteboard, Pastor Pete would draw a triangle with God at the pinnacle, a stick figure man in one lower triangle corner, and a stick figure woman in the opposite corner. Then he would draw an arrow across the bottom of the triangle explaining that when we have our eyes on each other, we’re the farthest apart. Next he would draw arrows up each side of the triangle, explaining that as we each move closer to God, we move closer together.

triangle-charm

On one of our early anniversaries, Dave had a charm made for me (picture above) symbolizing that triangle with the pearl of God at the top and our birthstones on each corner. Yes, my birthstone is a diamond! As long as Dave and I remember to keep Jesus first in our lives, everything runs smoothly in our marriage, no matter how our expectations are dashed, or how our life is evolving for good or bad. But if we take our eyes off Jesus, even for a moment, chaos can reign in our home.

All relationships have challenges, and so often those magnify at Christmas and holidays. I hope the three lessons I’ve learned in my marriage, will help you maintain peace, joy, and Jesus’s love no matter what your circumstances or challenges this year or in the New Year. They’re definitely not the only three lessons I’ve learned, but they’re definitely at the foundation of all the others.

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Ephesians 6:24

Merry Holy and Blessed Christmas to all my dear friends and family.

wedding-on-boat

 

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Who Will Care for the Widows and Fatherless this Christmas?

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27 NLT

Each week I wonder what God will have me share with you in the Monday Morning Blog, and then God shows up. This week it was clear from several sources, even the Book of Job, that God wanted me to address the topic of widows and the fatherless at Christmas.

God has a focus throughout the Bible of making sure His people care for the widows and orphans. Sometimes at Christmas, we become so wrapped up (pun intended) with our own hustle and bustle that we can neglect those who most need the gift of Christmas love. And I don’t just mean the Salvation Army bucket, although supporting them is important too.

While widows and their families need help every day, the holidays magnify their need. Some churches do an outstanding job of caring for these families, and others . . . have forgotten God’s charge to the church.

The definition of being a widow means a woman has lost her husband, and if she is a younger widow, she may have children who have lost their father. The children aren’t orphans, but their mother is emotionally, perhaps physically and spiritually, in such pain and anguish that her children may feel like orphans. The mother they once knew will never be the same again. Maybe friends or relatives try to fill the “Mom void” while she’s going through the sudden, unexpected, and unwanted process of making arrangements to bury her husband . . . their dad . . . while she’s still in a state of shock and unimaginable grief and trauma, but no one will ever replace the parents they had before dad was taken from them.

The First Christmas Without Him

Christmas is fast approaching and Mom wants her children, maybe too young to understand—maybe old enough to go through their own tragic heartbreak—still to have a good Christmas. But she can’t stop crying and wailing and the doctor has given her something to help her sleep and relax until she can grasp the magnitude of this nightmare that isn’t going away.

So friends and family pitch in and set up the Christmas tree, which is heavy laden with presents that first Christmas without him. But nothing fills the emptiness that permeates their home. The presents don’t fill the empty chair at the breakfast table Christmas morning, or the presents he’s not opening, or the prayer he’s not saying before meals, or the toys he’s not putting together, or the presents he didn’t give her, or his stocking that hangs empty on the mantel, and the fire he’s not stoking.

10 Practical Ways to Care for Widows and Fatherless Children this Christmas

  1. Take her children’s Christmas lists, clothes sizes, and do her Christmas shopping, then wrap all her presents. Assure her that only her children need gifts this year. No one else expects or needs anything from her.
  2. If she’s bought presents, wrap them for her.
  3. If she’s already bought presents for her deceased husband, offer to return them for her.
  4. If she’s not going to be with family Christmas Eve or morning, pack up your family and bring your Christmas to her house. Then if she needs to go in her bedroom and cry, her children won’t be opening their presents or crying alone.
  5. Don’t just drop meals off, stay and have the meal with her and the kids.
  6. During Christmas vacation, take her kids on play dates so she can have time alone to cry without fear of upsetting the kids.
  7. Know when her extended family is leaving and line up people from church to stop by and bring meals, pray, comfort her, and see how she and the kids are doing.
  8. Don’t forget older widows. Don’t think that because her husband was elderly that the pain is any less. She loved her husband for many years and they had blended into one heartbeat. Watch for signs of her declining or possibly losing a will to live.
  9. If you don’t have one already, start a support group in your church for widows and one for children who have lost their father. This isn’t just a holiday need, it’s a daily need.
  10. It may be difficult for her to see all the “couples” at church. Invite her to sit with your family during Christmas programs and every Sunday. If you notice she’s not coming to church, pick up the kids, bring them to church, and ask the pastor to stop and visit her. She may be mad at God. Don’t let her stay mad. Shower her with God’s love, and help her understand that God is crying over the loss of her husband too.

Her Husband Will Never Be Home for Christmas or Anytime Again!

Don’t forget about the widow, or the widow and her children, after the first Christmas. Every Christmas will be hard. She’ll always have to lug the Christmas tree home, set it up by herself, try and get the outside lights up for the kids, and make Christmas merry even though her heart is aching. His chair will still be empty, and his side of the bed will still be cold. He was the spiritual leader of the home, and now she’ll have to fill that role as both mother and father to their children.

Don’t expect a widow of any age to “get better” soon. Time will lessen the acute pain, but she’ll always have a aching hole in her heart, so don’t forget her after a month. Remember, she’s still a widow and her children are still fatherless, and she will need help with all the things her husband used to do around the house and her children will need godly male role models in their lives.

The widow will always need the love, support, help, kindness, and prayers of her family, friends, and church family not just at Christmas, but year round.

How do I know what a widow or fatherless child would need? Because my mother was that 32 year-old widow, I was the 10 year-old little girl, and my sister was four when my father, a California Highway Patrolman, was shot with his own gun and murdered one night while on duty on October 8. We went through his first birthday a week later, October 17, and I still remember going with my mother to Penny’s to return the leather jacket she had bought for his birthday. The next month came the first Thanksgiving . . . then the first Christmas without him.

These past few months in the news, we’ve watched policemen gunned down in their cars and each one of those men represented a mother or widow and children who will have that “first Christmas without him.” Or if you live near a military base, there are doubtless widows and fatherless children in your community. Pray for them, and if you live near any of them or go to their churches . . . do something for those families in the name of the Lord. That would be the best gift Jesus would have you give this Christmas. It was the best gift people gave to us.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families . . . . Psalm 68:4-6

camp-picture-with-arrow2

I know this was a sobering post to start the Christmas season, but you all know a widow, a fatherless child, a single mom, a shut-in who needs to see the love of Jesus lived out tangibly. I became a Christian because a year after my father’s death, someone at the camp in the picture above asked me:

“We know you’ve lost your earthly father, but would you like to know a heavenly Father who will never leave or forsake you?” I said, “Oh, Yes,” and my life has never been the same.

You could give that gift to some fatherless child this Christmas too.

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Can you read the name of the photographer’s sign in front of me in the picture?

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How to Celebrate a Peaceful Post-Election Thanksgiving

happy_thanksgiving

During our small group prayer request time, a reoccurring request went something like this: Please help us be a light on Thanksgiving with the eclectic group of people attending with differing political and faith beliefs.

Whether it was all family, all friends, invited guests . . . or a combination . . . most were apprehensive how the day would turn out.

In the fragile aftermath of a volatile election, I imagine many of you are having similar concerns and conversations. I remember my mom cautioning that if you want to keep the peace, don’t talk about religion or politics, As a kid, I never understood her warning. Believers are supposed to tell everyone about Jesus. How could we not talk about our Savior, since our identity is in Christ? And isn’t everyone entitled to his or her own political opinion?

Then I grew up and learned that Jesus and politics are indeed quite controversial, but I still don’t think that means we shouldn’t talk boldly about them . . . we just need to be respectful. My first priority in life is being a born-again Christian and all other roles follow after. But as I wrote in Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten: “Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth in love, even in the face of adversity: ‘Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold’ (2 Cor. 3:12).” For example, if someone asks what I write, I answer, “Christian nonfiction.” Or I’ll say, “I’m a Christian author and speaker.”

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Philippians 1:20 NLT

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

Is Thanksgiving a Religious Holiday?

That could be an awkward question in some circles.

I was with a group of people when I mentioned how I hoped people would set their differences aside on Thanksgiving Day, and one person said, “It’s just a time for eating a lot of food, watching football, and shopping online anyway.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure the first pilgrims who celebrated Thanksgiving didn’t have TV or Amazon.

Another responded: “Well at least Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday.”

I asked: “Who then are we thanking?”

Complete silence.

Of course, the answer is: God.

Abraham Lincoln made it an official national holiday “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”

The English colonists we call Pilgrims celebrated days of thanksgiving as part of their religion. But these were days of prayer, not days of feasting.

We read in Genesis that God spoke everything into being, and yet, many will be sharing turkey and dressing with people who don’t believe in, or discount, the existence of God. They don’t know where they’re going when they die, or where everything we enjoy on earth came from . . . and maybe they don’t even care. They’ll walk out of the room during prayer before the meal, and may try and start an argument over the election. Maybe after a few drinks, their conversation will turn ugly, even though innocent young eyes are watching and ears are listening to how “adults” interact.

As I prayed and talked to the Lord, here’s a list I hope will help any who might be apprehensive this Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear your ideas too.

Don’t worry about what to say—“Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11 (Jesus was instructing his disciples, but I think it could apply to us too if we felt our faith was being tested or put on trial.)

Speak kind words— “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Pr. 16:24 NLT

For your part, maintain peace—“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Don’t ask or answer antagonistic questions, walk away or change the subject“Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” Pr. 26:17 NLT

Play with any children present“We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.” Ps 78:4 NLT

Don’t drink“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NLT

Smile, Smile, Smile“Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Psalm 42:5 The Message

Listen“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Pr. 12:15 NLT

Take a deep breath and think before you speak—“There  is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” Pr. 29:20 NLT

Less is more—“The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?” Ecc. 6:11 NLTThere’s “A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” Ecc. 3:7 NLT

Say mind prayers continuously.—Pray continually” 1 Thess. 5:17

Have a secret sign or word between you and someone else that signals: Let’s change the subject or move into the other room.—“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecc. 4:9

Put on the Armor of GodPut on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 10:6:18

If you’re Hosting—Pray and thank God for each guest. Ask to be a blessing and to share joy. Pray over your home and each chair at the table. Pray before the meal as you normally would, your guests know they’re coming to a Christian home.—“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9

If you’re a Guest—As you walk up to the home, pray you’ll be a blessing and that God will stir up the fruit of the spirit in your heart. If you’re hosts don’t pray before the meal, bow your head and pray over your food as you normally would. — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23

Thanksgiving is a day for harmony and focusing on God and giving Him thanks and praise in whatever way He leads. Fiction writers have a saying: “Show don’t tell.” Which simply means, you don’t always have to speak Jesus with your words, you can show Jesus with your actions, and people will want what you have!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NLT

Past Thanksgiving Blogs

Here are several past Thanksgiving blogs you might enjoy. I do give thanks for each of you who have followed me on my Monday Morning Blogs, and I pray you have a joyful, peaceful, and God-filled Thanksgiving Day.

Acquiring Overshadows Thanksgiving

What Are You Most Thankful For?

Love Your Body During the Holidays

Thanksgiving Tablecloth Idea

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten I share how to use your tablecloth as a “praise-cloth” to preserve memories for generations to come. Here is an excerpt from the book. I hope it gives you some ideas. I’ll be taking our tablecloth with us this Thanksgiving, and here is a picture of ours. We’re now writing down the sides.

thanksgiving-tablecloth-full

When my breast cancer journey started [2002], I became keenly aware of making memories with my family. At times like that, you think seriously about your mortality and the legacy you want to leave with your loved ones. You appreciate each new day of life. The sun rising every morning is an act of God to celebrate.

            Holidays like Thanksgiving have new meaning. Typically, Thanksgiving is a celebration where family and friends gather for a feast, and everyone says what they’re thankful for in the past year. But after finishing the dishes and putting away the leftovers, how many really remember what everyone said?

The Thanksgiving following my first breast cancer surgery, I had an idea of a Thankful Tablecloth. I purchased a Thanksgiving themed tablecloth with plenty of white space and a box of wash-resistant colored markers. After Thanksgiving dinner, I brought out the markers and asked everyone—kids included—to find a spot on the tablecloth to write what they were thankful for that year, sign, and date it. We traced handprints for the tiny ones with their name and age.

Today, we have years of thankful messages to read every Thanksgiving and remember the many acts of God’s goodness to us and the people who joined us at the celebration table each year. If we go to someone’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, I ask if I can bring our Thankful Tablecloth and markers.

            When I go to be with the Lord, I pray my family will continue bringing out the Thanksgiving Tablecloth as a reminder through the generations of how good God has been to our family and friends. [Excerpt from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten]

 

thanksgiving-tablecloth-message

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NLT

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What Do We Tell Our Churches about a Trump Presidency?

greatest-republican-turnout

If you’ve followed my blogs, you know I’ve been stumping for Trump, not because I think he’s the savior of America—no that’s Jesus—but because President-elect Trump represented the only platform that would lead our country back to God. Trump has his faults, like all of us (John 8:7), and the media, celebrities, elitists, Democrats, and even the establishment Republican Party, have relentlessly attacked him and his family. But President-elect Donald Trump stayed the course to victory . . . conservatives won this battle in the cultural war.

The “deplorables” outvoted the celebrities and the elitists. The liberal progressives didn’t think they needed you and me—everyday Americans, “little people,” and whatever else they called us because we weren’t going to matter anyway when they ruled over us. They thought we were dispensable.

How Did the Media get it So Wrong?

The night before the election, my husband and I rented the documentary Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party—a cross between sci/fi, horror, and tragedy—except it’s not fiction, it’s a true story. Even if you saw it at the theater, I implore you to rent it and listen to the extra interview with Jonah Goldberg to learn the significance of how God intervened on November 8th to protect us from the clutches of Democratic progressive liberalism. And Carol Swain, a black born-again Princeton and Vanderbilt professor with five degrees and former Democrat who explains how she, “came out of the darkness into the light,” and switched from the Democratic to Republican party when her research proved it was the Democrats who fought to keep slavery, founded the KKK, started Planned Parenthood to exterminate blacks, and now have them enslaved again.

At first my husband didn’t want to watch Hillary’s America, but Dinesh D’Souza did an excellent job of portraying the roots and plans of Clinton to not just preside over America, but literally to own America, a goal she set out with her mentor Saul Alinsky in college.  My husband and I were back on our knees, where we had been fervently crying out to God for months in our private prayer time, in our church, our small group, with our friends…in our prayer closets. We prayed for Trump and Pence to win because, as you’ve heard me say repeatedly, they represented the conservative platform that would give us a chance to put God back into the public square. This was so much more than a political battle—this was a spiritual battle raging in the heavenlies—and continues to rage in heavenlies and now in the streets.

And that my friends is what the media missed. They didn’t poll us in our prayer closets . . . but God heard and tallied every prayer. There is power in prayer. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power when two or more gather and pray in the name of Jesus. If you doubted that in the slightest, God made it clear on November 8, 2016.

I laughed as the media scratched their heads in shock and tried to come up with every possible scenario of why and how they were so wrong.

They kept saying we missed the “silent Trump vote.” That had to be it. Perhaps that was part of it.

You Cannot be Silent Any Longer!

i-voted-trump

In the last few weeks prior to the election, more people on social media were willing to stand up for Trump, but prayer groups were “closed groups.” Few were brave enough to admit they were voting for Trump. Even Clinton in her concession speech told her followers to come out from behind their closed social media groups . . . and that was good advice for us too. Christians notoriously don’t like conflict. Who does? But our role model, Jesus Christ, never shrunk away from conflict when it was a case of right versus wrong or exposing sin or evil doers. Paul never avoided speaking the truth. John, Peter, James and the disciples went into all the world by foot and by sea to spread the Gospel.

We proved on November 8th that we are the majority, but we can no longer be the “silent majority”! We came out in force, but now is not the time to retreat behind our church doors, back into our homes, and safety of our comfort zones.

God gave Republicans the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Vice Presidency, and we’re going to have some conservative Supreme Court judges. This is a window in time, in history for a revival, but we can’t expect Trump and Pence to do all the work. We need to support them on the ground and we need to let them know the issues that are important to us.

Do not let fear rule you.

Do not let the Clinton followers intimidate you. They lost, you won.

That doesn’t mean you gloat, but it does mean you celebrate victory and give God ALL the glory. Let the world know where that victory came from. Be bold for Christ!

Now is not the time to be politically correct or “safe.” President-elect Donald J. Trump needs our prayers for protection, for picking a cabinet, for wisdom, and for success.

What to Tell Our Children

I’m baffled by the rhetoric of “What am I to tell my children about Trump winning the election?” You tell them God blessed America with a miracle and gave us another chance to get it right this time!

Tell them…

We can have righteous judges who will honor the constitution and not try to rule our lives and make laws outside their jurisdiction.

We can try to reverse a law that allows babies to be killed in their mommy’s tummies, even right up until the day of delivery.

We can have affordable healthcare.

We have a chance to try and take marriage back to the way God created it to be between a man and a woman only and to protect businesses who do not wish to participate in gay marriages.

We won’t have laws forced on us that men can go to the bathroom with our daughters or change clothes in their locker and dressing rooms.

We can put God back in the public square and maybe even back in the schools where He has always belonged.

We will have laws enforced and borders in place to stop people who want to do us harm, from coming illegally into our country.

God’s people spoke and were heard, and you my child and grandchild will have religious freedoms reinstated and protected like our founding fathers fought for and so many gave their lives for.

What Does the Church Do Now?

The Benham Brothers made a short video the day after the election, and it’s exactly what I was thinking. Please listen, it’s short and to the point. I’ve always said this was a spiritual and moral battle more than a political battle, and praise God we were victorious in this battle, but the battle is far from over.

So we don’t retreat and go back to business as usual, we armor up in the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). Pray to support President-elect Donald J. Trump and VP Mike Pence, however God leads you and your church. My husband and I pray an Armor of God prayer from Dr. Charles Stanley* every morning that I encourage you to also pray and share, because it’s “Battle On.”

When you face opposition, and you will, as you see the progressives are not going to retreat quietly, then use the only thing Jesus used, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Notice in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus didn’t get into long dissertations with Satan, he used Scripture. As the vulgarities and vileness spewed on my social media prior to the election, I started doing exactly that, and you know what…Satan retreated. Yes, I say Satan, because do your research, the heart of the progressive liberal agenda is progressively away from God as the foundation of the country—there’s only one force that would be at the heart of that movement and that’s Satan. Many cursing me were “proud progressive atheists.”

Now we have the hard work of not just making America great again, but reminding our fellow Americans that it will never be great until all remember that our country is founded on biblical principles. If we want God to bless America, we must remember “In God we Trust.” God divinely answered our prayers in this election and gave us another chance . . . let’s get to work to honor Him and give Him all the glory for the things He has done. That’s what I’m telling my grandchildren!

I Wrote My Last Book for Such a Time as This

Many have thanked me for standing in the gap and publically taking a stand for the outcome we saw on Election Day, but it needs to be all of us together. For everyone who turned that map red, we need to support our vote and support President Trump.

Who Will Stand in the Gap

Post-Election Prayer

We the people made our voices heard . . . but still the “world” isn’t listening. We need to speak louder. More than just a quiet X on a ballot. If you want our country to move away from the elitist atheistic “progressive” attitude, you must be an involved citizen. I’ve said this so many times, if I was speaking, I’d be hoarse!

I have been championing great authors and their books during this election, I would now ask my Christian brothers and sisters to read and put into action the book the Lord had me write for this very moment when we have seen victory. I’m not trying to sell books, I’m trying to move a sleeping giant into revival. To help the body of Christ now rise up and turn our culture back to God. There are study questions at the end of each short chapter, and reflection questions within the chapter. It’s a book for both men and women. We’re getting requests now for large groups to do Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten because now is the hour to claim America back for God. Won’t you join me?

“Trump gave nervous evangelicals a gift that many of them lacked—the gift of boldness.”–Lance Wallnau, God’s Chaos Candidate .

Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten is also available signed on our website. *The link to the Dr. Charles Stanley’s Prayer is at the end of the Excerpt from Forsaken God?.

ForsakenGod.indd

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Love Your Body—Be Brave!

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

I’m back! Did you miss me? For the first time since starting the Monday Morning Blog when I launched my website January 2013, I took a three-month sabbatical to finish writing my latest book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Those who have followed my blog, know that in the past I’ve blogged right through writing books or invited guest bloggers—which by the way still requires me to edit and post, so there’s work and time involved. But this new book had a very short writing window and I had lots of travel and some health issues requiring medication, so I decided to love my body and prioritize my energy and time limits. Not that I don’t love writing to all of you, and it was anticlimactic every Monday morning not reading your comments, but I knew you would understand.

I’m Writing a New Book and I Need Your Stories!

Mentoring for All Seasons is in the editing process now, and thanks to many of you, there are amazing stories from both mentors and mentees from every season of life from tweens to aging! I know this book will bless you and it will be available fall 2017. I’ll keep you posted as the publishing process progresses.

Looking at the calendar and seeing that this is the last Monday of the month—where did September go—I realized I would be starting up the blog again with Love Your Body Monday! I knew then the Lord wanted me to share with you a post I had planned on writing later . . . but during my walk this morning, God said now was the time for two reasons:

  1. My next book—yes, you read right—God has put another book on my heart based on brave women of the Bible encouraging women of today to be brave. I’m NOW receiving stories of times God has asked or challenged you to be brave spiritually, physically, emotionally, or in any way. I would love to share your story in my next book, so contact me for more information.
  2. Elizabeth Vargas recently shared her testimony on TV and has a new book on being an alcoholic—last night hubby and I watched the 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer and Elizabeth Vargas that we had DVR’d, since it aired originally while I was still finishing my book.

I’ve always admired Elizabeth’s news anchor reporting and how confident she seemed. She’s articulate, classy, attractive and was doing well in a male-dominated profession. Several years ago, I was sad to hear her announce that drinking, mainly wine then, had gotten out of control and was interfering with her family and work, and she had sought help. I was surprised, but applauded her acknowledging her addiction. I had no idea that her battle with all alcohol had continued until in her own words: “I was nearly fired from my job. My husband left me while I was in rehab, I hurt my kids tremendously, and I nearly lost my life.”

If you follow my blog or Facebook, you know my thoughts on drinking alcohol. It’s a recreational drug, and in my backsliding years I drank so I know exactly what alcohol does. It destroys families, marriages, leads to death, health issues, and tragedies, misbehavior, loss of inhibitions, and is a disastrous role model for children and grandchildren—and yet alcohol lines the shelves of family grocery stores and is in many home pantries or out in plain view on kitchen counters and wine racks.

And just like Elizabeth Vargas, most “moderate drinkers” are in denial and justify their drinking as: being able to handle it, not hurting anyone, takes the edge off, relaxes me, only drink socially, like the taste, everyone drinks a little . . . even my friends from church . . . until as Elizabeth found, “I drank moderately for 20 years. It wasn’t until my 40s that I fell off a cliff.”

In an interview with Elizabeth, Dorri Olds wrote in 20/20 Anchor Elizabeth Vargas Talks to The Fix About Anxiety, Alcoholism, and Recovery: “When Diane Sawyer and Vargas did research for their recent 20/20 special, they learned that 63 percent of female alcoholics suffer anxiety. Being postpartum or perimenopausal puts you at even higher risk for self-medicating with alcohol. And women with anxiety issues are twice as likely to relapse.”

Is that you or someone you know? Postpartum? Perimenopausal, or menopausal? Anxious? Worried? Overwhelmed? Do you or they have a glass or two or three every night that started out after the kids were in bed, but now starts while fixing dinner or early afternoon . . . or after the kids leave for school? Are you or they hiding how much you/they drink? Do you/they drink and then drive . . . with children in the car? If yes to any of these or similar questions, you/they need help.

In the 20/20 interview, Diane Sawyer listed trigger points to drinking such as tired, angry, lonely, hungry . . . and Elizabeth says hers is anger. Diane asked what she does now, and Elizabeth said she picks up the phone and calls someone. A mentor would be so helpful. A brave step.

What Should a Christian Do?

Here’s where many of you will disagree with me, and that’s certainly your freedom . . . a word tossed around a lot lately . . . but it’s also my freedom to say my opinion. Elizabeth Vargas cannot be around alcohol anywhere; she lives one sober day at a time. How many women in your sphere of influence might be in that same situation and you don’t know it? I’m saddened when I hear of Church moms, women’s, Bible study, or small groups going out for “drinks” or having wine and alcohol when they get together in the name of the Lord. How many “Elizabeths” might be among you who are too embarrassed to get up and leave, and you’ve just contributed to their temptation and possible downfall . . . you’ve caused them to stumble. Or maybe you’re the “Elizabeth.”

tell-time-generic

Is this really how you want to teach your kids to tell time?

I’ve seen this “How To Tell Time” sign tossed around Facebook with many women, including Christians, “liking” and laughing about it. Mommies who are responsible to help their children tell time . . . putting this sign up in their homes for impressionable kids to infer that the way to tell time is . . . you sit with a coffee cup and Bible in your hand in the morning and a wine glass and wine bottle in your hand at night. What kind of message does this send to your children? Or if Elizabeth Vargas walked into your home after “coffee time,” she would have to politely leave:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone [including your children, grandchildren, seekers,new believers, addicts, unbelievers] to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

Being Brave Often Requires Vulnerability

Elizabeth has written a memoir to help others who might see themselves in her story and get help before they lose everything like she almost did; she did lose allot including her marriage and time she can never recover being the mom she wanted to be to her children. Vargas said she would die for her sons. “I love them more than anything in the world. I would do anything for my children. But I couldn’t stop drinking for them.”

elizabeth-vargas

I chose to talk to you, my followers, today about Elizabeth Vargas’ story because of her vulnerability, not only in her book, Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction, but also in the 20/20 interview on National TV, which was an extremely brave act of courage. The woman we see in the interviews about her addiction and her new book is not the woman we all saw anchoring the news for years . . . even as far back as 911 and before!

On Amazon, the description of the book uses the word brave: “From the moment she uttered the brave and honest words, ‘I am an alcoholic,’ to interviewer George Stephanopoulos, Elizabeth Vargas began writing her story, as her experiences were still raw.”

The night before the interview with Olds, Elizabeth said, “I asked my son last night, ‘Why do you think I’m writing this book?’ He said, ‘Because you’re brave and want to help people.’ I hope people will be kind.”

As the 20/20 interview closes, Elizabeth said she has a “favorite saying” . . .

When you pray to God, there are three answers:

  1. Yes
  2. Not Now
  3. I have something better for you.

In another interview when asked what helps her stay sober, she said mediation and prayer. To Diane Sawyer she said, “When I lay in bed at the end of a good day, I say, ‘Thank you God for this day.’”

To read a blog I wrote Love Your Body—Don’t Drink Alcohol

For the full 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer and Elizabeth Vargas

To share your Brave story with me for my next book.

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It’s good to be back!

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A Miracle Story of Love, Family, and Restoration

Ricky praising

Most Sunday mornings, Ricky was in the front row of church, sitting next to his parents Jean and Don. Often Ricky would accompany the worship team by playing the drums, strategically placed for him next to his front-row seat. I’m told that at one time, he joined the praise band on stage.

Ricky and drums

When Dave and I moved to Garden Valley and started attending Crouch Community Church, we didn’t know the history of the Brown family. We did, however, immediately see the love this senior couple had for each other—always holding hands—and for their adult son, Ricky, who occasionally had to have his drumsticks quieted after the music had stopped playing.

You see Ricky was a very special son, and as the church overflowed with family and friends at Ricky’s memorial last week, we learned more about just how special he was. If you have a special person in your life who can’t communicate clearly, or at all, there’s probably a depth of spirit like Ricky displayed in unique ways. God has a way of gifting these special people with love, compassion, and spiritual insight.

Enjoy Ricky’s miracle story, shared at his memorial service, and his family now shares with you:

 

Ricky Lee Brown born August 28, 1956, passed from the arms of his parents to the arms of Jesus on Saturday March 19, 2016, at the age of 59. Ricky left behind . . . for now . . . his parents, Don and Jean Brown, his sisters Sheri, Cindy, and Lindi, and countless family and friends.

Ricky’s life story is one of restoration, the strong bond of a loving family, and the unending miracles of God.

Ricky is the firstborn, and only son, of Don and Jean Brown. At birth, he only weighed 4 lbs. 10 oz., and it took a month for him to gain enough weight to come home from the hospital. This was the beginning of nine and a half months in and out of hospitals.

During that time, doctors and family members suggested putting Ricky in Nampa State School. Doctors said with Ricky’s health and physical issues, he wouldn’t live past eleven or twelve and would never walk. With the overwhelming advice from doctors and family, Don and Jean went through the court system and made Ricky a ward of the state when he was 8 1/2 months old. It was the most painful thing that Don and Jean had ever done.

They visited Ricky regularly and introduced him to his three sisters Sheri, Cindy, and Lindi. Right from the beginning, Ricky was compassionate. Jean remembers one time when he was in the state home, a baby started to cry. Ricky pulled himself with his arms over to the crib and patted the baby, trying to comfort it.

To everyone’s amazement, Ricky miraculously started walking at age eleven—the age doctors had predicted he wouldn’t live past—and he finally stopped running a persistent high fever. His sister, Cindy, started working at the Nampa State School in her late teens so she could spend more time with Ricky.

In his twenties, the family moved Ricky to a group home in the Boise area as part of a new program to try to teach life and work skills to disabled individuals. After Ricky’s three sisters left home, the Browns were able to visit Ricky more frequently.

Ricky loved classic country music and liked listening to it loud!

He also loved to tear apart anything he could get his hands on—radios, bikes, and in later years, his clothes. He loved to gas up the car, even if it was only to top it off.

Ricky could only put five words together, at most, but he used those words to ask people: if they were going to work? If they had a payday? And if they were going to church? Ricky’s happy smile and his thumbs up were his trademarks!

smiling RickyRicky thumbs up

Another Miracle

When Ricky was thirty-seven, he became extremely ill while still living in the group home, so Don and Jean made the decision to bring him home. Doctors told the Browns they would just be taking him home to die, but they said, “So be it. He’s our son, and we want him with us.”

By the grace of God and the help of family, they discovered that the current health problems were yeast related. Jean found a book on how to treat yeast with diet, and she became vigilant with Ricky’s diet and nursed him back to health. This same son, who doctors said would not live past eleven or twelve, would never walk, and was sent home at thirty-seven to die, fully recovered from the “terminal” illness! That’s what God, love, and family can do!

Don and Jean couldn’t bear the thought of giving Ricky up again, so he continued to live with them and they started the parenting season all over again. The Lord redeemed the years they lost while Ricky was in group homes, and they had twenty-three glorious years living together as family.

Ricky and sisters

Ricky’s relationship with his sisters and other family members flourished as he became a part of family reunions, jam sessions, weddings, and birthday parties. As a trio, Don, Jean, and Ricky traveled the country playing music and enjoying countless adventures. One of Ricky’s greatest loves was the drums. He had a set in his room and spent hours listening to music and playing along. He also spent hours tearing his drum set apart. He loved smashing cans and taking them to the recycling center for a “payday,” which he promptly put in the offering box at church.

Family picture

Ricky and Don on horse

 

Ricky and Don camping

As Ricky got older, he enjoyed putting together puzzles and sorting coins or Legos. Amazingly, he was able to put puzzles together picture-side down on the table. For someone doctors said wouldn’t live past eleven, and would surely die at thirty-seven, Ricky enjoyed a long life of almost 60 years surrounded by his loving family, friends, and community.

Ricky touched many lives with his joyful spirit and his love for Jesus. Just as Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Ricky was a great example of childlike innocent faith. We know that right now he is enthusiastically enjoying heaven.

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The Brown family hopes that Ricky’s miracle story has been a blessing to you, and especially an encouragement to all who have a “Ricky” in their life. If you have a story to share with the Browns, or want to tell them how their sweet restoration story touched you, please leave a comment to encourage them and pray for them as they grieve the loss of their beloved son.

If you received this blog by email, you can comment here.

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Grandparents Changing the Culture

A Million praying grandparentsIn the Generation to Generation section of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I stress that the most important task for parents and grandparents is to pass down to future generations the goodness of our Great God, and help their children and grandchildren enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus.

Lillian Penner, National Prayer Director for Christian Grandparenting Network (CGN,) and an endorser of Forsaken God?, shares my passion for mentoring the next generation. Lillian has a dream of A Million Praying Grandparents committing to pray intentionally and regularly for grandchildren and their parents. I asked Lillian to share her dream/passion with you because I believe you share my concern for our grandchildren and children growing up in a broken world that has forsaken and forgotten God.

I joined the Million Praying Grandparents as a grandparent who prays Scripture daily for our eleven grandchildren. It’s part of my morning quiet time, and I have seen God do amazing things, which I write about in Grammie’s Corner in my monthly online newsletter. This month you can read how 7-year old Sienna surprised Grampa and me when she announced that she wanted us to pray with her to accept Jesus into her heart. That blessing was the answer to many morning prayers.

Sienna and KatelynI learned about praying God’s will by praying Scripture for Sienna’s mommy. I share more about this way of praying in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

MESSAGE FROM LILLIAN PENNER

In a movement to unite grandparents to pray intentionally for the next generation, Christian Grandparenting Network is launching a globale prayer campaign for 2016: A Million Praying Grandparents. Can you imagine the impact of one million or more grandparents praying for their grandchildren?

The Mission Field

The mission of CGN is the mobilization of grandparents throughout the world to commit to pray daily for their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s parents. In Christian Living Today, Editor, Randy Swanson, wrote:

The role of Grandparenting is becoming more important than anyone would ever have imagined. The rescue of our culture may well rest on the shoulders of today’s grandparents.”

Perhaps at no time in history has the call been more urgent for intentional prayer.

If you grasp the urgency of our time, then I urge you to join the Million Praying Grandparents movement, linking arms in prayer for the next generation.

Our grandchildren are our primary mission field.

Sign Up Today to Be a Praying Grandparent

If you’re as worried as I am about the world our grandchildren are inheriting, I urge you to sign up for the Million Praying Grandparents Movement. By joining, you are declaring your commitment to pray regularly for your grandchildren.

In appreciation for making such a culture-changing commitment, you will receive a free printable copy of a Million Praying Grandparents Prayer Resource to guide in using God’s Word to pray for your grandchildren.

Now you must make a decision:

For the sake of the hearts, minds and souls of your grandchildren, will you say, “YES I will join the Million Praying Grandparents movement?”

Go to the Million Praying Grandparents website and follow the instructions to sign up!

Please also share the vision of a Million Praying Grandparents united in prayer for their grandchildren with your friends and family.

Together we can influence the next generation to know Christ and follow Him wholeheartedly! Together we can change the culture and a world that has forgotten and forsaken God. Don’t let that be your grandchildren’s future.

Excerpt from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

Steve Green wrote a song with the chorus, “Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.” Someday we’ll all just be a memory, but let’s make sure that memory is a good one. In your sphere of influence, starting with your own family and church family, “tell them” all you’ve seen God do and his unchanging truths. Influence the next generations to love and obey God with born-again, Holy Spirit filled hearts.

I pray my [Janet’s] legacy to my children and grandchildren will be—Mom/Grammie was a woman who loved Jesus and lived what she believed.

If you’re a grandparent, you’ll want to join this movement of a Million Praying Grandparents.

If you’re a parent, you’ll want to forward this blog to your children’s grandparents.

If you receive this blog my email, please comment here.

_MG_5006A LIL

Lillian Penner is the author of Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for Your Grandchildren and is the National Prayer Coordinator for Christian Grandparenting Network. An avid blogger, Lillian will break into smiles if you ask about her twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She and her husband, John, live in Portland, Oregon, where they are active in church ministries.

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