God

More Christ for ChristMas!

About a year ago, I was just driving around allowing God’s Holy Spirit to lead me, when I noticed a woman on the corner of the freeway exit holding up a sign asking for help. At that time, I was in the furthest lane from her and unable to give her anything before the light changed, but I felt God telling me to go back and help her.

I went back on the freeway the direction that I had just come, and exited a mile later to enter back towards the freeway the direction that would lead me back to her. It was a bit of a process to get back to her, but it is never too much to do for another human being in need of help.

I had plenty of time to pray during the ten minute turn around process, so I prayed that God would use the $27 that I had and multiply it to be enough for whatever it was that she was needing at that time. I told Him that I didn’t know how He would do that, but I only knew that nothing was impossible for Him, so I would only believe that He would make it happen.

When I was sitting at the light where the woman stood the first time, not one person acknowledged the lady or offered her any assistance. This time when I arrived back to that same light, I could feel the air was changed, but I couldn’t get the woman’s attention to even give her the items I had for her.

I was only one car away from where she was, but she was so broken at that point that she couldn’t even lift up her head to see that I was trying to get her attention. My music was playing the most beautiful song, and it was so loud that all the cars had to hear it. The song filled the air and the atmosphere began to shift.

I asked God what to do about the woman since she wouldn’t look up, and at that moment a car honked their horn. I looked up to see if the light changed, but the car hadn’t honked about the light. The person who honked was waving at the woman with the sign to come and get what they had in their hand for her. As I still had my hand out the window, she ran over to my car first. I watched as almost every car had a hand out with money to help with what she needed that day. If a person didn’t have their hand out at first, they all began to see what the rest were doing and that caused them to open their hearts and offer help to the woman too.

The most amazing miracle took place that day. As the woman ran from car to car before the light changed, her whole life was changing. She was coming back to life as she was filled with hope and encouragement that God can change our circumstances in an instant.

After collecting all the gracious gifts from the many people in their cars, she stopped right by my car window and mouthed, “Thank you so much!” She was smiling from ear to ear and my heart was so full of love for her, and for the God that cared so much for each and every one of His creation.

I know that many people don’t understand why I would seemingly waste my time and resources to do random acts of kindness each day, but they aren’t really random things. I am always led to people that God wants to help right then, because they are either praying to Him for help, or they are ready to give up completely, and they don’t even know that praying to God is an option yet.

I don’t usually get to know the outcome later for the people that I help, but I am confident in God’s power and love, so I know that whatever I ask Him to do for the people I help, He will do it. When I have the time to ask a person their name, I always add their name to my list of people that I pray over during difficult days. There are many that I never get to know their names, and I can’t even recall all of the times and people that I have helped, but I know that God knows who those people are, so I will continue to pray and ask Him to comfort and provide for those people, so that they never feel alone or hopeless.

Christ in me is why I do the things I do, so this Christmas I have been asking God for MORE CHRIST to explode around the globe, so we can all experience great blessings and joy!

When people understand that they are truly and deeply loved, they no longer see only their circumstances or problems. They begin to see the lives of others that they can then help lift up around them, and that is how we bring the Kingdom of God into the midst of us. The evil begins to flee and wickedness shuts its mouth.

I have no special abilities or gifts that aren’t available to all of us. I simply ask for what is needed and believe that God will supply those things. My hope is that this will boost the faith and confidence of others to begin to act in love and believe in the love that frees us all from the bondage and corruption of this world.

“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat…”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭25:4‬

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:10‬

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭

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child abuse · God · Love

Collateral Beauty

This is a story of how God gives purpose to every individual’s life, even when it ends before it really begins.   The “collateral beauty” is what comes after the loss of any human life.  It is a phrase coined in a recent movie with Will Smith and Edward Norton titled Collateral Beauty.  The movie was about a dad that lost his little daughter to Cancer, and his painful journey to move past her death and to see the collateral beauty that came from her life and death.  The story below is the beginning part of an example of the collateral beauty that came from an unnamed victim from the AZ Foster Care system in 2011.

My friend and I had just closed my boutique for the day, and the nightly news was playing on the television set in the back room.  My attention immediately shifted towards the television when I heard the news anchor talking about another child death in the Valley.  The story described how a daycare worker in Phoenix had placed her hand over the mouth of a frightened , sobbing four-year-old girl to keep her from waking the other children during nap time. The small child was fighting for air as the daycare worker refused to remove her hand from the child’s face.  The child was kicking, squirming and pushing to get free of the woman who was suffocating her, but she was too small and eventually her struggling siezed, and her little body was left lifeless on the floor.

This was a parents worst nightmare.  How would a loving family face this tragic loss? The murder of an innocent child while left in the care of a trusted daycare facility is unimaginable, and  was likely to end with the daycare closing and the worker responsible locked away in prison, or at least that is what might have happened had the child been from a loving family who would mourn her loss and fight for justice for their child.

The daycare worker was not charged for any wrongdoing in the child’s death.  The death was ruled an accident and the woman responsible was free to go about her normal life and even potentially cause harm to more children.

They displayed the girl’s photo on the television as they reported the story, and her beautiful brown hair and perfect, little innocent face looked so much like my daughter, who was also four years old at the time, that  my heart started to ache as it filled with grief and anger for the loss of this child. How was it possible that no charges were filed?  Was this really acceptable to allow something so heinous and unnecessary to happen to an innocent child?

The story went on to show a brief video interview with a man who was the child’s foster parent. He told the reporter that the little girl had no family or anyone that loved her. She was essentially an unwanted child and a burden on society.  He explained how there was no need for an investigation or charges in her death. He wasn’t saying it because he thought it was right, but he was telling the reporter why her death would have no justice in his opinion. There was no one to fight for her. He said that she was a sweet little girl who didn’t deserve to die, but her life was not important to anyone, so her death was not important either.  He actually said, “She was all alone in the world, and nobody loved her”.   Although the man appeared somewhat sad at her loss, he seemed to be hiding something, and  I couldn’t help but wonder why a single man was the foster parent to a four year old girl that had no family connection to her.

Why would the state of Arizona think that it would be in a child’s best interest to grow up in a home with a single, childless forty something year old man as her caregiver, and then do absolutely nothing when a daycare worker took the life of this innocent little girl? After the news story, I decided to do an investigation of my own to find answers that would justify the decision made by CPS, the criminal investigators and the Maricopa County Attorney’s office. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one detail of information related to what happened to the little girl. It seemed that the beautiful little girl had just faded away silently in the Arizona system of injustice without a trace. Regardless of how inconsequential the little girl was to the State and the community where she lived and died, her life would not go unnoticed or in vain, because I would be her voice that was silenced that day by the daycare worker’s deliberate actions that took her life.

Most of us never take notice of issues that have not impacted us personally, and I know that the little girl resembling my daughter was the reason that I finally made an effort to do something more.  I wish it hadn’t taken this innocent child’s death to wake me up to the injustice of Arizona’s children, but it was the reason I am now an unwavering, vigilant voice for all the children in Arizona.

I began researching the child abuse epidemic in Arizona and shortly after discovering how serious of an issue it was in Arizona, I chose to close my boutique, so that I could utilize my resources for helping the children of Arizona. At the time it felt like a difficult choice, but I look back now and see it was actually a gift from God.  After that, everything started to fall into place. I became actively involved with the Childhelp organization, and I knew instantly that Childhelp and its founders were also a gift from God.

Childhelp is one of the oldest and greatest defenders of abused children in the country. The founders of the organization, Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson are the only two reasons that anyone should need to support the organization. Their compassion and dedication to saving children from the horrors of abuse are unprecedented. They have devoted their entire adult lives to their work at Childhelp, and through their commitment and unyielding strength, ten million children have been saved from abuse.

Childhelp has proven to be a leading organization in saving, protecting and rebuilding the lives of abused children. The prevention programs, residential treatment facilities, 24 hour hotline, world renowned advocacy centers, foster care programs, and group homes are all established  “For the Love of a Child”.   Visit  Childhelp.org to learn more about the issue of child abuse.

I didn’t include the amazing work that God allowed me to take part in with changing the AZ Foster Care System in this story, but I wanted to just mention that this child’s death did more than just give my life purpose.  I fought with everything that I had to help AZ Kids, but I consistently failed in every effort until I prayed to God for help one night.  That is another story, but it is when I realized that there really is hope in the midst of total darkness and evil, because God does hear prayers and He was quick to respond within hours of that first prayer I poured out for the suffering children in my state.

 

 Photo- My children (Grace & Christian) with Childhelp Founders Sara & Yvonne.img_0251-1

The Following are news stories about the Department of Child Safety’s progress since God stepped in to help. 

Governor’s Office

May 17, 2017

On Friday, Governor Ducey signed Arizona’s fiscal year 2018 budget, a fiscally responsible financing package that invests in education, protects our most vulnerable citizens, and expands opportunities for those who need it most.

The budget empowers Arizonans to foster and adopt children, makes important reforms to reward caregivers, and improves outdated IT infrastructure to ensure that children’s needs are being met.

Here are three highlights from the new budget:

  • $6.1 Million To Upgrade The Arizona Department Of Child Safety’s Outdated Electronic Management System: For too long, the agency has utilized an outdated IT system that makes it unnecessarily difficult to track cases and serve customers. By investing in critical updates to this digital infrastructure, we’re bringing DCS into the 21st century and guaranteeing that Arizonans can be served by in the most efficient way possible.
  • $2 Million For Adoption Services: Arizona wants to make sure children under state care find warm homes and loving families as quickly and safely as possible. By investing in adoption services, our state can streamline the process of recruiting new adoptive and foster parents, help out with legal expenses, and continue providing other services.
  • $1 Million To Increase Funding For Kinship Caregivers, Known As The “Grandmother Stipend”: Foster parents receive a stipend to alleviate the cost of bringing a child in need into their families. However, extended family members who become caregivers for that child—instead of going through the standard foster care process—do not qualify for the same resources. By ensuring that extended family members qualify for this assistance, we’re helping these families stay together and rewarding kinship caregivers for their invaluable sacrifice.

While there certainly is still work to do, the Arizona Department of Child Safety has seen incredible achievements over the past two years:

  • More children are exiting the Arizona childcare system than are entering it for the first time in seven years.
  • From April 2016 to April 2017, the amount of time it took to place children decreased from 32 hours to 8 hours.
  • In 2016, DCS achieved a 11 percent increase in children achieving permanency over the prior year.
  • The total number of open reports has been reduced from more than 33,000 in April 2015 to less than 6,500 today.
  • Over the past two years, DCS has safely reduced the backlog of inactive cases from more than 16,000 to less than 500 today.

By supplementing policy and process improvements with investments in programs that work, we can ensure that children and families throughout Arizona are safe and secure.

This year’s budget is another step in making that happen.

//www.azcentral.com/videos/embed/104504778/?fullsite=true” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Better Days for AZ Children Quick 30 seconds of less video
Progress  Quick 30 seconds of less video

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Report: Arizona Department of Child Safety turn around continues

An independent report commissioned by the Arizona Auditor General’s Office has concluded the DCS is on the right track.

The report, performed by Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, praises DCS for making significant strides in transforming the agency to better serve children and their families, according to a press release.

“It is clear (DCS) has undertaken a concerted and strategic effort to implement the recommendations found in our earlier report,” the Chapin Hall report stated in the press release. “The strategy undertaken by the Department has been deliberate and intentional….DCS has clearly established a set of priorities that are well-thought out…(and) we commend the Department for making good use of the Independent Review as a guide to transformation.”

Reducing backlog and workloads

The report praised DCS for successfully “implementing tailored strategies to reduce the backlog of cases,” the release stated.

As a result of DCS improvements, inactive “backlog” cases plummeted from 16,014 in March 2015 to 3,470 in November 2016, a 78 percent reduction. Today, the backlog of inactive cases is 1,688.

DCS also reduced the total number of open reports from a high of 33,245 in April 2015 to 10,536 in November 2016, a 68 percent decrease. Today there are only 7,888 open reports, the release stated.

“With the backlog nearing its conclusion, many positive outcomes have surfaced,” said DCS Director Greg McKay, in the press release. “A faster response to protect children; more time to assess and investigate; manageable caseloads; fewer children being removed from their homes; and less staff turnover.”

Hotline

The report also underscored the improvements made to DCS’s hotline.

DCS has taken significant steps to improve standardization of its call-screening by implementing a new decision-making guide, which contains detailed explanations, clarified definitions and classifies various types of harm.

A dedicated audit staff has also been placed at the hotline to further ensure quality and standardization.

Other highlights

As of October 2016, the Department had filled 1,341 DCS Specialist positions out of 1,406 appropriated full-time positions.

Over 1,600 families in Maricopa County have accessed the Building Resilient Families program. Building Resilient Families is a community-based intervention program for children and families reported to DCS where the children have been assessed as safe and the family presents with low levels of risk.

In fiscal year 2016, 4,625 families were served by the Healthy Families Arizona program, which DCS uses to help prevent child abuse and neglect, and avoid the potential for children being brought into foster care.

“We appreciate the work of our Legislature, the Auditor General, and Chapin Hall in supporting these needed reforms that have clearly taken flight; there is still much to do but please take a moment and thank a DCS employee, they deserve the credit,” Mr. McKay stated in the release.

 

Arizona Department Of Child Safety Clears Inactive Case Backlog

Gov. Doug Ducey announced Thursday, March 16 the Arizona Department of Child Safety has officially cleared the backlog of inactive cases that impeded the state’s ability to attempt to improve vulnerable children’s lives.

In March 2015, DCS was plagued by more than 16,000 backlogged cases. Today, that number has reached an all-time low and is now below the legislative-set benchmark of 1,000 cases, according to a press release.

“Arizona has accomplished what once appeared to be an insurmountable task thanks to the hardworking men and women at the Department of Child Safety,” Gov. Ducey said in a release.

“But our work is far from done, and we cannot lose sight of the work that remains and the many children we must protect. By reducing this backlog, DCS can now devote even more attention to protecting Arizona’s most vulnerable children and keeping families intact. This is about the lives of children in our state, who need our help. If we don’t help them, no one else will.”

Over the past two years, DCS has tailored its efforts to reduce the case backlog, including bringing back three retired DCS employees to work exclusively on inactive cases, hiring outside contractors, incentivizing employees to work inactive cases and streamlining oversight and case transfer processes, a release states.

As a result, the decreased backlog helped to improve response times on abuse allegations, lower caseloads for workers, and allow more time for DCS workers to assess and investigate cases. All of these changes have contributed to fewer children in out-of-home care.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of DCS staff, we have reached this monumental goal by persevering and working together,” DCS Director Greg McKay said in a release. “I want to thank all DCS staff for the sacrifices they have made for this to become a reality and for the sacrifices they make every day serving Arizona’s children and families.”

There are currently about 17,200 children in out-of-home care, down from 19,044 children in February 2016, according to a press release. Arizona’s legislature set the backlog benchmark for DCS during last year’s session.

“This significant milestone shows what can be accomplished when we work together to protect Arizona’s children,” Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, said in a release. “I would like to thank frontline DCS workers and the director for their hard work as well as my colleagues for passing legislation to support this progress.”

DCS met the benchmark four months before the July 2017 deadline.

“When Sen. Lesko and I crafted this legislation with help from DCS Director McKay, this was the outcome we were hoping for,” Rep. John M. Allen, R-Phoenix, said in a release.

“Although the department and state still face many challenges of providing struggling families with the help they need or moving children to safe and more permanent situations, it is still gratifying that this effort has succeeded.”

A case is classified as “inactive” if no documentation has been entered for more than 60 days or if services were not provided.

Due to the length of time that some of the more complicated cases require, there will always be cases that exceed 60 days in our system, which is why the legislature set DCS’s inactive benchmark at under 1,000 cases.

God

Redeemed

God is the solution to every issue we face as individuals, a community, a nation and a world.  We need to ask God to help us, so we don’t have to be in fear of going to a concert or sending our kids to school.  God is perfect love, and He created all of us out of that perfect love, so why would people be against knowing the One that loves them more than any human being ever can or will?
The future generations need to know that they don’t have to live in fear or be buried under the weight of shame and guilt or carry the sicknesses that are said to be passed down in their family blood lines. Jesus gives you the way to a new family blood line that is pure, holy and righteous without sickness and past curses carried down from a family.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but that is great news to me! That means that I don’t have to worry about suffering the issues like heart disease, breast Cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, or mental issues that were all part of my old family tree. God gives me a new family tree that is healthy and free of all the broken past diseases and sufferings! I am completely healthy and can honestly say that I never go to the doctor.
 I received a new life and a new family blood line the day I understood that Jesus gave me a way out of the past and into the perfect presence of God the Father. Give your kids a new blood line from a pure and healthy tree of life, and give them hope for a brighter future where evil drowns and mercy flows like a river to heal the hurts. Suicide, rape, sex trafficking, drug abuse, child abuse, and all sickness and disease really can be a forgotten thing of the past if we will all lay down our pride and stubborn ways of living for ourselves, and instead we ask for Jesus to lead us to the Father right now.
 I am not talking about accepting a man made religion, I am talking about accepting the Truth and letting go of the lies! There is a better way, and it comes from perfect love that is our Creator. God loves you with an everlasting love, and if you are tired of being sick and tired and stressed out, there is a better way. By believing in the TRUTH. God’s peace and love are so easy to receive and when you know you are loved and accepted, you have hope and dreams really do come true.
 Leaving the negative mindset of the past, opens the path for peace and divine healing and love to flow into your life. We all have a choice to make. We can choose life, or we can continue on the path to death by not accepting and believing in God’s Truth.  Jesus is the Truth, the Life and the Way.  He is the manifest Word of God.  He is the light of the World that shines out darkness in us.
Definition re·deem
rəˈdēm/
verb
past tense: redeemed; past participle: redeemed
  1. 1.
    compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).
    “a disappointing debate redeemed only by an outstanding speech”
    synonyms: save, compensate for the defects of, vindicate More

    • do something that compensates for poor past performance or behavior.
      “they redeemed themselves in the playoffs by pushing the Detroit Red Wings to a seventh and deciding game”
      synonyms: vindicate, free from blame, absolve

      “he fully redeemed himself in the next race”
    • (of a person) atone or make amends for (error or evil).
      “the thief on the cross who by a single act redeemed a life of evil”
      synonyms: atone for, make amends for, make restitution for

      “you cannot redeem their sins”
    • save (someone) from sin, error, or evil.
      “he was a sinner, redeemed by the grace of God”
      synonyms: save, deliver from sin, convert

      “who shall redeem these sinners?”
  2. 2.
    gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.
    “his best suit had been redeemed from the pawnbrokers”
    synonyms: retrieve, regain, recover, get back, reclaim, repossess;

    buy back
    “Billy redeemed his drums from the pawnbrokers”
    • FINANCE
      repay (a stock, bond, or other instrument) at the maturity date.
    • exchange (a coupon, voucher, or trading stamp) for merchandise, a discount, or money.
      synonyms: exchange, give in exchange, cash in, convert, trade in

      “this voucher can be redeemed at any branch”
    • pay the necessary money to clear (a debt).
      “owners were unable to redeem their mortgages”
      synonyms: pay off/back, clear, discharge, honor

      “they could not redeem their debts”
    • fulfill or carry out (a pledge or promise).
      “the party prepared to redeem the pledges of the past three years”
      synonyms: fulfill, carry out, discharge, make good; More

    • archaic
      buy the freedom of.
God

The Loss of a Parent

On February 6, 2008 my mother passed away after a horrific series of events that spiraled out of control with a urinary tract infection.  I won’t go into all the details, because the events are so appalling that they are hard to believe that they could ever happen.  The last week of my mother’s life she was taken off of all life support, and basically forced to die of starvation.  We were told that keeping her alive was selfish and cruel by all of the medical staff at the hospice where she was taken after the hospital said they couldn’t do anything else for her.  My dad, my two sisters and I stayed at the hospice the entire week waiting for her to die.  It was the worst thing that I had ever experienced at that point in my life, but six months later when we received the report from UCLA on the research data collected from my mom’s brain, even worse news arrived.  My mother’s death certificate lists the cause of death as complications from late stages of Alzheimer’s, but the brain bank discovered that my mother didn’t have Alzheimer’s or any other dementia type illness.  Her brain was normal, and had no signs of what the hospital and doctors had all told us was the issue, and the reason that we should let our mother starve to death to save her from further suffering.

Her death and the two months of suffering in ICU were bad enough, but then to find out that it was all a lie, and the doctors just used that as a means to keep her from ever telling the truth about what happened at that hospital that she went into with bladder infection or UTI, and ended up septic and fighting for her life, was simply a weight and sorrow too heavy for me to carry.

The enemy made sure that not only did I lose my mother at age 54, but that I also felt a guilt-burdened grief that just wouldn’t let up for two years.  Finally I heard a New Year’s Eve sermon at Cornerstone Church in Chandler on the message of HOPE.  The service was led by a Pastor that had a three or four year old daughter in ICU with a brain tumor.  His family had no idea if their baby would live or die, but somehow the man got up and gave a broken congregation a message on hope.

The congregation was broken, because it was during the worst economic downturn the country had ever seen.  Thousands of people were losing homes, jobs, and all that they had saved and worked for years to attain.  It was so bad that people had to call a business to make sure they were still open before going anywhere then.  Like most families, my family was struggling to keep up with the massive burden of our mortgage and IRS bills, but those issues were nothing compared to what I was suffering over the torment of the images that played over and over in my mind of my mother dying in front of my eyes for a week.

Although I was in church to hear the message, I had never known God before then.  I always wanted to believe that there was something more, but I had never seen any evidence or even found a church that wasn’t filled with a bunch of bitter and judgmental people shaming anyone that wanted to believe.  That was all about to change with just one glimpse of hope from Pastor Aaron McRae though.  I remember he caught my attention immediately when he said that most people believe that God won’t give us more than we can handle, but that was not actually in scripture.  He said that people didn’t understand that God never said that we wouldn’t suffer.  In fact, he said that we will suffer, and he warned us, so that we would be ready when those trials and tests come.  Who knew?  Not me or anyone else in the crowd obviously, because that would mean that we actually read our bibles.  (Of course, I have read it many times since then)

He said that God didn’t want us to suffer, and he gave us a way to get through the worst situations, because he said that we should cast our cares on him, because he cares for us. That seemed a little too easy to me, but I listened intently, because I was desperate to escape the weight that was causing me so much suffering from condemnation and guilt over not doing more to keep my mother alive.

Pastor McRae went on to show how we could literally take every burden and worry and pretend like we were throwing a baseball with the issue in our hand and tossing it straight to God.  He said that it might not seem like it was enough, but he made it clear that it was the only way that he and his wife could manage to keep going everyday as their daughter was clinging on for her young life with negative reports filling their ears about her chances of survival.  The Pastor said that God’s word is true, and if the people would just try this casting of their cares to God, then they would be filled with peace and God would work on the issue that the people couldn’t do anything to change anyway.

I went home ready to give it a try.  As I started to speak to God, I was sobbing and told him that I knew that I wasn’t a good daughter, and I should have done so much more to help my mom, but after bearing the guilt and grief for two years, I couldn’t stand the thought of my own children having to suffer from my state of depression.   I said, “God if you are real, and Pastor McRae was right about you wanting to take my burdens, I am asking if you will please remove this pain and suffering from me, so that I can be a mother and wife to my family again.”  Before I had even finished the words, I felt this massive weight lifting out of my body.  It went right from my shoulders and it was 100% gone!  It was unbelievable to me, and I could never deny what happened, because it was so clearly felt when it left my body.  From that moment on, I have never been able to cry or feel that grief over my mother’s death.  I no longer focused on the days before her death, but I was finally able to remember all of the better days of her life, and I had peace in place of the pain.

1-peter-5-7-ct-p copy-500x500

My dad died on June 20, 2017, and it was a bit of a shock even though he had been sick and in and out of the hospital for years.  I just assumed that God was keeping him alive for something bigger, and that he would be completely healed at some point.  I realized that he was actually just waiting for my dad to have time to spend with my older sister and her children before departing.  He went to live with my sister for the first time ever about a month before he died.  They had never been close, and I guess that God wanted to give my dad the chance to spend time with her family, so he kept him alive until that happened.  My dad had everything from a brain aneurysm to lung Cancer and all sorts of stuff in between, but he seemed to be invincible.  I guess we are all invincible until God says we can go home, and so my dad passed away while my sister was at work.

My sister came home to discover my dad on the floor of her living room.  She was consumed with unbearable guilt, because my dad had asked her to stay home that day, but she had to go to work, and told him that she would be off all weekend to spend with him.  My nephew was also bearing the weight of feeling like he was somehow to blame, because his phone was dead when my dad called and left him a voicemail that day.  I knew what was happening immediately, because I could see right through Satan’s tricks of deception now.  I began praying for peace for all of my family and specifically for her and her son.  I did my best to comfort her and told her that God was actually in control when he sent her to work that day.  I know if she would have stayed home to see him dying and not be able to save him that would have been far more traumatizing.  She had other friends share the same thing  with her, and one that told her how bad it was to watch her mother die in a similar situation, so my sister was able to see God’s love for her by making her go to work that day.

I never had any tears after the initial shock of just hearing that my dad was gone.  I only cried, because I thought that God had abandoned me and my family for the first five minutes of hearing about his death, but I quickly understood that wasn’t what happened at all.  I was filled with a peace that I can only describe as love that just kept pouring over me.  I was laughing and serving food to 200 homeless people in Phoenix a few days before the funeral.  I didn’t cry at the service, and I actually felt bad for not looking more pathetic for the people who were there to comfort and support my sisters and I.  I wore sunglasses so no one would notice that I had no tears in my eyes.

I just wanted to share this story, because everyone goes through the death of a loved one at some point in life, and I have experienced the worst and the best.  The worst being without knowing God yet, and the best being so closely connected to my Heavenly Father that even the passing of my dad whom I loved more than anyone most of my life, simply couldn’t shake me.  Proverbs 3:5 was my dad’s favorite scripture.

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God

Just a thought-

Do you want to know how to change the world?
It is through kindness, acts of mercy and being generous to others even if it means doing without that extra pair of shoes or night out for dinner.

What if this year everyone gave up just one thing, and that thing they gave to someone that would never have it otherwise.

For example, tonight I could go to dinner with my husband and kids, but instead our family takes that money and buys dinner for a family that would never have the means to eat a meal at a nice restaurant or any restaurant for that matter.
Instead of taking a week long vacation, we take six days and the money saved from the seventh day, we use to give a family a trip to a local water park or trip to the movies and dinner.

It doesn’t have to be money, your talents and time are precious and should be used for more than just self indulgence or working. Give the gift of time to a child who has no family to support them and encourage them. If you can play the guitar, teach a child who is in a group home or has no means to pay you, how to play for free.

What if we all just did something wonderful for the people that we know could never repay us?
That could also be providing help with an electric bill or school clothes for a family or any number of things that you can come up with to be generous to others out of acts of selfless giving.
Teach someone how to read! Help a homeless young adult get an ID card and access to resources to help them get off the streets. Stop and pray with a person that is hurting and feels abandoned and alone. Be the loving arms that wrap around the broken-hearted. Just pour out love and blessing everywhere you go! That is how the world changes! It takes love to destroy evil. If you are tired of the evil, then stop speaking oppression and start loving and blessing others.
Just a thought

God

Freedom and Steadfast Love 

“Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord; she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law.

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The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame. “I have cut off nations; their battlements are in ruins; I have laid waste their streets so that no one walks in them; their cities have been made desolate, without a man, without an inhabitant.

I said, ‘Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction. Then your dwelling would not be cut off according to all that I have appointed against you.’ But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt. “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed. “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.

From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering. “On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach. Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.”Zephaniah 3:1-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/zep.3.1-20.esv

 

God

Give Thanks

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron. Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

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Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.

And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish. When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow, he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth. Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

Psalms 107:1-43 ESV

http://bible.com/59/psa.107.1-43.esv

God

“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.”

Psalms 37:25-26 ESV

Yesterday my children and I were traveling to California, and we stopped at a gas station. While I was inside my 16 year old son, 9 year old daughter and 22 year old (soon to be adopted) daughter were outside feeding a homeless man and his dog.

I had no idea that the food the homeless man was eating as I passed by him was the same food that I had just purchased across the road for my daughter, so when the man said, “thank you!” as I passed by him, I was a little taken back. I was pretty sure he said thank you with a sincere smile, but I had only been thinking about how to help him at that point, so I didn’t know why he would say that unless he was being sarcastic.
As I went to my car, I reached in my purse to see how much cash I had, but I wasn’t sure if that was all that I should give him, so I looked around for something of value in my car such as scripture cards for encouragement and water to drink.

At that point, I mentioned the man to the kids, and I asked them if they could see if he had anything to drink or not. They said that he was finishing the food they gave him, but they didn’t see a drink. I laughed and told them thank you for sharing their food with him, and I told them to bring him some cold water and some money to make sure he could eat later. They said that they already gave him the money they had left over from the food, but it was all they had to share with him.
My heart melted inside as I realized that they didn’t just see my actions of helping others. They all wanted to do their part and bless the lives around them too.

Many young people can’t think of anything besides themselves, and they seem to just be worried about what their friends will think about them.  I realize now that those young people are merely doing the same behaviors they were taught by the adults and people of influence in their lives.

We blame teens for not caring enough about the world around them, but are we teaching them by example what really has value in this world? Teach them to love people with a pure heart by loving others, because all lives matter. 


Every life is important to God. Even the drunk that cheated on his wife and left his children matters to God. We need to help others without judgement. When we judge others we cause shame and condemnation to cover those lives and that becomes a mask that blocks them from coming to God for healing and wholeness.

We are all in this world together whether we like each other or not, so why not start asking God to bless all of those people that we don’t like, so that we can be surrounded by blessed people?  Blessed people are kind and feel loved, but the people that we curse with our words that we speak against them, feel the stinging impact of those cursed words and the result is a lot of angry, hurt people that cause more hurt in the world.

“Bless those who curse and revile you…” God is not trying to cause us suffering by saying that.  He is trying to help us make the world around us better by creating a blessed world with loving people for us to enjoy an abundant life.  

http://bible.com/59/psa.37.25-26.esv

God

God is Good

God is good.

It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136 23-26

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;

Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;

Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

The LORD performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.

He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.

But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,

To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.

Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!

Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.

Bless the LORD, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103

 

Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart.  Don’t rely on your own understanding,  but seek God in all matters.  He will lead you on the correct way.  Proverbs 3:5-6

“My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:2-4, ESV)

child abuse · God · Love

The “fatherless Generation”

About five years ago, I saw a news story about a four year old girl that was killed in the Arizona Foster Care System, and my life has never been the same.  This beautiful child lost her life after a daycare worker tried to keep her from waking the other children by placing her hand over the girl’s mouth.  The news said that the daycare worker would not be charged for the murder of the girl, because it was an accident.  The woman never intended to kill the child when she suffocated her on the first day that she attended the state run daycare, so it had to be an accident?

The child’s Foster parent (a single male with no blood relation) commented that the girl had no one who loved her, and that she was all alone in the world.  He said that her death would be just like her life, and no one would care.  His outward demeanor was half melancholy and half sarcastic, but neither showed the signs of a compassionate parent.  He looked like he had no business caring for any child, especially not one that the state gave him custody as a single, unrelated man.  This story was heartbreaking and suspicious to say the least.   I couldn’t bear the thought of what she must have suffered in this world all alone, and the fact that no one was going to fight for her life or death was an injustice that was beyond comprehension.

l spent the next two years determined to end child abuse.  I made my way into several non profits by doing anything that was needed to help them.  After countless hours of child abuse research, awareness efforts, volunteer projects, and legislative initiatives, I realized that the numbers had actually increased by 40% on the number of children in the Arizona Foster Care System!  My heart was aching for these little ones, and I was desperate to help in any way that I could.

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I remember driving in my car, and trying not to cry after losing the battle with a child sexual abuse prevention bill in the AZ legislature, and suddenly I just started talking to God.  I had zero knowledge of the bible, but I knew that God helped me at least two times in the past when I cried out for help, so out of utter desperation, I cried out for these innocent children.  I spoke a very detailed prayer asking God to please help me, because I simply couldn’t save these children without Him!  I asked Him to rescue just one child a day, because I thought that one child was better than none, but God had a better plan.

Three days after I poured out my heart in prayer, I received a call from a nonprofit that I served on the Board of Directors.  The founder of the nonprofit wanted me to come and meet a girl that the police had brought to them after she was rescued from a motel in Scottsdale.  The police received an anonymous tip that the girl was being sex trafficked.  By this time, I had already forgotten all about my prayer, but I heard a little voice whisper, “She is alive, because of your prayer”.  I had never heard that little voice before, but there was no mistaking what I heard, and I immediately asked when they found the girl.  The woman tried to tell me it was on a Saturday night, but my prayer was on a Friday night, and I told the woman that she was wrong, and that the girl was rescued on Friday night.  The woman didn’t understand why I was being so insistent on the day, but she agreed to call the police and get the exact time and day, so that I would stop hounding her about it.

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A few hours later, the lady called me back and wanted to know how I could have known the day was Friday, because the police confirmed that the girl was in fact rescued on Friday, but she wasn’t taken to the safe house until Saturday evening.  The lady asked if I had been involved with the FBI operation that had taken place that same night across the nation.   I had no idea what she was talking about, but in order to get more info, I said, “what have you heard?”  She said that 168 children were rescued that weekend in the largest sex trafficking bust at that time in the US.

As soon as she spoke the words, that same small voice that I heard earlier whispered, “Think bigger!  I want to save more than one child a day!” Holy Crap!  God heard my prayer!!!  I didn’t even know for sure if God was real when I prayed that night.  I only knew that I couldn’t fix the issue on my own, and I had come to the end of my finding the solutions after two years of sleepless nights trying to figure out a way to stop the evil that was destroying our children, so I went to the last place I could think of for help.

Not only was there a God, but He was eager to answer that prayer and all the prayers that have followed!

This is just one piece of a beautiful story that is still unfolding, but I am ready to share all of the pieces, because I am not here to create a legacy about my life, but I am here to share in a legacy that is much greater than my own life.  I know an awesome God that loves every single person, and He is ready to be found by everyone!

Man can’t solve the social injustices alone, because man is the reason for most of them.  God is the One that can do what is impossible for man, so if you want to see your community free from crime and evil, I suggest that you start by partnering with the Creator of all good!  Use your voice by praying for the lives that are suffering all around you.  If you don’t know how to help someone, PRAY for them!  God knows how to do what you don’t or can’t do on your own, so just show love for others by praying for them.  That is the greatest thing that you can ever do to help a hurting life.

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