Three Ways God Will Guide You

 God Guides Through Dreams and Visions:

Psalms 32:8  I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

I can look at my children at times to give them direction and they know exactly what I want them to do. With a simple look I can grant or deny a request.

There is a certain look I can give that says, no way!

Although, we cannot make eye contact with God, He may guide us with a dream or vision, he may give us a wink or nod of approval or deny a request.  

Many years ago, I filled out an application to live in a certain apartment complex. There was a long waiting list, but I needed to move within 30 days or renew my lease.

I prayed constantly about the matter and one morning I had a vision. It was not a dream because I was awake, a scene appeared before me, and I saw myself in an apartment at the desired location.

It was then I believed I did not have to worry about looking for another apartment or resign my lease.  

It was as if God smiled at me, gave me a wink and a nod that He was working everything out. A couple weeks later, I received a call to bring the first month’s rent, sign the lease and get the keys!

God Guides by Speaking Through People:

Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. 

I remember getting ready to sign a contract to do freelance work for someone. I had reservations about the potential client but really needed the money, so I was going to take a chance. The day before, I was supposed to sign the contract. I met a lady who began telling me about trouble she had with a certain client. You guessed it; it was the same person I was supposed to meet the next day!

While listening to her, I felt as if God was saying, don’t do it, don’t sign the contract or you will experience unnecessary trouble. I mulled it over during the night and politely declined the work, the next day.

I later discovered that my potential client was known throughout the community for taking people to court. She refused to pay for the work by claiming negligence or damages.

I could have ignored God’s gentle guidance, but I chose to listen and was spared needless trouble.

God Guides Through the Counsel of His Word (Scripture):

Psalm 106:13  They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: 

Do you look back over your life and remember how God has guided you in the past? Remembering past experiences will help you trust God in the present. It will give you the courage to wait for proper timing instead of making hasty decisions that lead to loss.

We can consult the word of God before making important decisions, like choosing a business or marriage partner, or relocating.

King Jehoshaphat decided to go into business (build a fleet of ships for trading) with King Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 20:35-37); God was not pleased with the partnership, so He allowed the ships to be destroyed, before they set sail. (2 Chronicles 20:37).

In another alliance, Jehoshaphat decided to join King Ahab (his Father-in-Law) in a battle against the king of Aram. After the battle God sent Jehu to Jehoshaphat with the following message:

“Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you.”  (2 Chronicles 19:2)

This principle is also repeated in Isaiah 31:2 “And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. “

Jehoshaphat a man of God formed alliances with men who were powerful and wealthy but ungodly.

What if Jehoshaphat had consulted the word of God before making those decisions. He would have discovered God said, “Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.”( Exodus 34:12 )

The same line of thought is repeated in the New Testament, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

When making decisions we should follow the advice given in John 7:24, which says, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” 

To make a righteous judgment requires thorough research and investigation. It requires weighing the pros and cons of a situation without bias.

How to Get Along with People, A Look at Psalm 23

In Psalm chapter 23, David says, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He also says, the Lord, spreads a table before him in the presence of his enemies.

Although we can trust God to supply All our needs, we must be mindful that God provides our needs through people.

If you need money you get it from people. If you need food, you go to a store and buy it from people. If you need a job you work for and with people. If you can’t get along with people, you will have a difficult time obtaining basic necessities.

You may as well forget about being successful in life if you can’t get along with people.

In “The Way of the Shepherd,” author Don Baker states, “If a shepherd sees sheep spread out and move away from each other, he can be reasonably sure that something, possibly, a rattler, is in the center of the circle.” And so it is with us,  when we begin to spread out and separate from each other, that ole serpent the devil is in the center of our circle.  

Baker said “The shepherd looks for signs of restlessness, fear and irritation.” If we begin to feel restless, fearful or an irritating annoyance with someone, we should pray and ask God to help us with the situation. Remembering scripture says, “As much as depends on you, live at peace with ALL men (everyone) Romans (12:18).

When we ask for help, the help will probably come in the form of self-control. You will be able to control your anger and the desire to defend yourself by hurting someone physically or verbally.

Scripture says “offense will come” but we must be willing to suffer being wronged at times and forgive the offender. If we don’t forgive we give place to the devil” (Luke 17:1 and Ephesians 4:27). To give place to the devil, means to give him room or an opportunity manipulate or control circumstances.

The serpent uses various devices to divide and separate but we are told not to be ignorant of his devices. He often uses negative comments, rejection, and outlandish lies to cause division and separation.

Satan inspires people to do those things as they often make us feel angry, resentful, hopeless or depressed.

These behaviors may separate us from the offending party, but they may also encourage us to withdraw and stay away from people who love and care for us. As no one is perfect, sometimes things are said and done without malice. The person did not intend to hurt or offend, so we must forgive, quickly, when possible.

We were created to have communion and unity with God and each other. Satan wants us to turn away from God and human relationships. Remember how he drove the man of Gadarenes into the tombs, away from his family, so he could whisper lies to him, causing him to loathe and cut himself to relieve the inner pain and turmoil he felt within. The poor man was tormented by thousands of demonic spirits yelling accusatory profanities and insults, causing him to cry out in the tombs.

After Jesus healed him He said go back to your family and show them the changes God has made in you. No longer tormented by fear, anger, regret and resentment, the man joyfully went home spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ along the way.

In these last days you are going to need to live by every word of God and trust the Good Shepherd to lead you to green pastures and allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to protect you from the serpents that will try to creep in your midst.

Avoid being easily offended. Don’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices, do not allow pride, anger, and offence to destroy your family, your company, your friendships, or your destiny. 

Resist the urge to be offended. Resist the urge to think more highly of yourself than you ought to (Romans 12:3). Because many arguments and disagreements occur when we devalue the opinions of others, simply because we don’t respect their ideologies or station in life (Proverbs 12:10).

Memory verse:  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Hollywood Romance or Real Relationship?

by Leah Nichols 

You know you’ve done it.

You’ve dreamed about a dashing romantic hero who will sweep you off your feet and take you away from the dullness of everyday life. Far away from the boredom of the mundane, you will delight in the continuous excitement of true love!

‘Course, there are many, many ways this scene can play out. It’s as unique as your own life, colored by the different experiences you’ve had and the people you’ve met.

For instance, you just might find yourself on a cruise ship in the middle of the north Atlantic Ocean, and a handsome young man discovers how beautiful you are. Amidst chaos and confusion, as the ship begins to sink, the two of you run away from the crowds to steal a desperate kiss.

Or, you may be listening to a radio program and hear the sorrowful voice of a young widower, struggling to survive the loss of his beloved wife. Strangely compelled to write to this man, you send off a letter inviting him to meet you on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day for a second chance at love.

Even better, you risk your own life rescuing a young man who was thrown in front of a subway train. Sitting by his side, as he remains in a coma at the hospital, you gradually fall in love with his rugged older brother, who’s more suited for you than you ever imagined.

Take your pick – there’s even the slim, but plausible, chance that a young European prince would choose your college for some undergraduate work in an attempt to discover the ins and outs of American lifestyle. Instead, he falls hard for the “girl next door” who’s not even expecting love.

Um, yeah. If these plots sound vaguely familiar, it’s because they are. All of these situations have been presented as a wonderful ideal of romance and true love, made to sell us on the idea of love being all you need. Hollywood does a great job of that, ignoring the fact, of course, that fifty percent (or more) of marriages based on love continue to end tragically in divorce.

Maybe you have observed or even suffered as a casualty of divorce, shaken to your core, trying to reconcile the romantic dreams you desire with the harsh reality of a broken world. Every guy you meet is held to an impossible standard – the perfect romantic hero who will never desert his lover. Well, if he doesn’t meet the standard, you can’t possibly be hurt by him, right?

Right. You also might find it difficult to get married, though. Guys are like that – they want to be the hero, so if they aren’t, they probably won’t stick around!

What does a real relationship consist of? Let’s pick a more authoritative source this time. How about the Bible?

Matthew 19:4-6:

And He [Jesus] answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He Who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (NKJV)

Wait a minute….where’s the part about the dashing romantic hero? What about flowers, and chocolate, and candlelit dinners? I don’t even see anything about true love!

Maybe that’s because marriage is more than love – it’s about two becoming one. It’s about serving your guts out to make life easier for the other. It’s about faithfulness in the midst of trials. It’s about better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health.

What’s going to happen after the honeymoon? Working, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, changing diapers, disciplining children, serving on committees, corralling teenagers, saving for retirement….etc. etc. etc. There will be vacations and romance, sure, but a whole lot of work in between. Plus, you will have a 24/7 accountability partner to observe every single sin and weakness in your own life.

If you can find a man who’s willing to go through this with you, then you have found a treasure, and true love, even without the swelling orchestral strains and softened camera angles! A committed, real friendship will long outlast the short-lived emotions of romance.

What does it mean to go through life together? To become one flesh? Paul said it best:

“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32 NKJV

What did Christ do for us? He laid down his life so we might be saved. If there’s ever a romantic hero, this is it! What does (or should) the church do for Christ? We give our lives for His glory.

You can hold out for a dashingly romantic story, to be swept off your feet and drawn into the rapturous songs of love. Or, maybe you can ground yourself down to earth, and keep your eye out for a friend who wants to walk this journey of life together with you. If you are willing to give your life for another, to serve, rather than to be served, then love will find you.

Even if it’s just a little bit different than your dreams!

Leah writes in her spare time….whenever it’s available. She and her husband Ryan live in the greater Los Angeles area, where she works as a labor/delivery nurse, writing and playing the violin on the side. She also enjoys cooking, baking, walking, and reading blogs on the internet.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Confessions of a Dead Workaholic

by Matthew Eldridge  

I hesitantly knocked on Frankie’s door. After all, he was pretty much a stranger. We lived next door to each other in an apartment building and casually exchanged head nods and “hellos” with each passing. He seemed to be a nice man, always commenting on how precious he thought my baby daughter was.

Fifty-something year old Frankie answered the door with his strong Puerto-Rican accent. “Yes?”

“Um, I have a favor to ask. My car broke down and I was wondering if you could please give me a ride to the mechanic’s?” I asked timidly.

“Sure. Let me grab a few things,” he responded, before quickly shutting the door.

On the short, 10-minute drive, Frankie proceeded to tell me the story of his life. “I worked hard my entire life, 80 hours a week, so that I could retire early and spend the rest of my life with my wife just enjoying everything around me I sacrificed time with family and vacation, but it was worth it. I’m only 55, I’ve been retired for two years, and I have the next 20 or so years to enjoy traveling and doing other things. If you work hard too, you can retire early,” he bragged while escorting me in his convertible BMW.

I had no idea why Frankie offered this unsolicited testimony. For the next few days I thought and prayed about it. Maybe God was telling me something? Maybe I should do the same? I wasn’t a natural born workaholic, but perhaps God wanted me to put more effort into it. I was struggling financially to support my family, and perhaps this push is what I needed. I didn’t want to end up like the 70-year-old bag boys down at the local grocery store.

A couple days had passed and I could hear screaming and wailing coming through Frankie’s wall. Seconds later a small hand pounded fast with desperation on my door. I opened it to find Frankie’s wife standing in front of me. Her face was covered in mascara as tears saturated her skin. She couldn’t get the words out, “Help me! My husband I think he’s dead!”

I quickly ran over to their apartment to find Frankie partially dressed lying halfway in the bathtub. His face was purple and covered with water. “Please, get him out of there,” his wife pleaded.

He was cold to touch. I pulled on his arms but his lifeless body made the 250-pound mass feel like 500. I struggled and pulled again, trying not to focus my attention on his purple face, or the stiffness of his flesh.

It took several paramedics to get Frankie out of that tub. I returned next door to my own apartment and welcomed the comfort of my wife’s arms. I replayed Frankie’s last words in my head over and over again. And then I reminded myself of my own last thoughts of our conversation: “Is God speaking to me?”

Yes, God was speaking to me. But he wasn’t saying what I thought he was saying. Frankie slaved his entire life to enjoy his future. Little did he know that his future freedom would only last two years.
In Luke 12:16b-21, we read: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.” (NIV version)

This was a big wake up call. Our life is but a vapor here on earth. We don’t know what day or time we’ll take our last breath. Nobody dies and goes to Heaven saying, “Man, I wish I would’ve spent more time at work!” God isn’t standing up there tallying how much money we made on earth, or rewarding us for how many days we worked overtime.

If we could interview those who have crossed over to another life, I’m sure they would tell us, “I wish I would’ve spent more time with family. I wish I would’ve focused more on my relationship with Jesus, and doing things that had eternal value, telling people how wonderful he is and about his love for us.” I don’t think anyone will be saying, “I wish I had more toys on earth!”

I was a new dad. I had bills. My future wasn’t secure. But as one of my college professors once said when I told him I was planning on going for my master’s degree while working full time, “You have a new baby – don’t miss out on her early years because you are going to school every night and working every day. You have the rest of your life to get your master’s. Focus on what’s important. You need to be there for your family.”

This was good advice. In my heart, this was God’s advice to me. I may never get ahead financially. I may never take extravagant vacations or freely blow my money on fancy dinners, or even drive a nice, new car. It doesn’t matter. I’ve decided to trade my road to financial success for a road more casually traveled. A road that included spending more time with my beautiful wife and adorable children. I want to savor every moment with them. If I have all the money in the world, but sacrifice precious time with my children at its expense, what have I gained?

Our children, spouses, and families don’t want our “things.” They want “us.” They want quality time with us. Our father God wants quality time with us too. Of course we will continue to pay our tithes, go to church and do ministry for His kingdom. However, none of that can substitute for the intimacy He wants with us.

Matthew Eldridge is a husband, father, pastor, musician, and writer.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Why Everyone Suffers Rejection

by Nellie Shani  

I was not surprised when he walked into my office. “Typical case”, I thought to myself. At five feet, we were almost the same height as I sat on my high chair. Bad case of acne, ears that stand out, buck-toothed. I smiled and extended my hand.

An hour later he was gone as I pondered over the cruelty of high school students towards those that did not fit the profile of “Prince charming”. I had just finished writing the summary of our counseling session when there was another knock on the door. I looked up into one of the most angelic faces I have ever seen. She slowly pushed the door shut with the back part of her foot as her milky eyes nervously scanned the room. It was the first time she was coming to see me. “Not a typical case” I mused. I smiled and extended my hand. She ignored my hand and I motioned to her to sit down.

She was clearly one of the most attractive girls in the school. After she left, I pulled out another box of tissue paper from my drawer and put it on the table, throwing away the empty one. I did not think it was possible for so much liquid to be stored up in the tear ducts of any human being. I had seen five students that morning, and this was the fifth time I was summarizing the session as “Suffering rejection.”

Frank D Hammond, in his widely read book “Overcoming Rejection,” suggests that rejection results from the denial of love. When one is loved, he is approved and accepted; when one is rejected he is disapproved and refused. The hurts of rejection are synonymous with refusal, denial, turn-down, rebuff, repellence, cold shoulder, slighting, shunning, spurning, ignoring, neglecting, avoiding and disapproving.”

Human beings suffer rejection the most during childhood and adolescence. We have all grown up as part of a community, and the most loving and protective parents could never have shielded us from suffering rejection from our various communities. This community may be immediate relatives, play school, kindergarten, grade school, high school, university, working environment and ultimately in a marriage relationship. It seems like most insecure people have a need to “beat down” somebody else in order for them to rise up in their own estimation.

The two cases cited above, go to prove that “Cinderella” will suffer rejection right in the same dining hall as “the hunch back of Notre Dame”. So long as spite, envy, jealousy, hatred and sheer self-centeredness continue to be human traits, then rejection is here to stay. Show me one person who has never had any of these undesirable human traits portrayed against them at any one time, and I will show you one person who is out of touch with what is going on around them. Those among the human race who have received the most love and acceptance in infancy and early childhood, are the ones most able to withstand the ugly onslaught of this unsympathetic world.

Rejection almost always comes with pain and a loss of self worth, and a natural response to pain is to recoil. This is a mechanism for self-preservation. As a result, people who have suffered severe rejection build emotional walls to protect themselves. Who can they trust? Will they be hurt again by those who have causes them to suffer? Often in order to protect themselves, they begin to suspect the intentions of others, and a distrust of their motives. As this paranoia grows, they eventually convince themselves that everybody is plotting against them and anything you tell them gets a sharp retort.

Because we will be rejected at one time or other, we need to build positive “shock-absorbers”. We need to accept and love ourselves first before seeking the acceptance and love of others. Each one of us needs a healthy portion of self-worth. We need to develop our talents and our hobbies. Seek to do what we enjoy doing. Then we need to take a good look in the mirror and determine to love the person we see. Accept the things that cannot be changed like height and facial features. People notice when we do not like ourselves – and join that club! Be your best cheerleader!

God has created us all as unique individuals. Let us celebrate our individuality. However the greatest acceptance that any human being can ever experience is the acceptance that we receive from God. In the Book of Psalms 139, God tells us that we are beautifully and wonderfully made. The new Testament further tells us that God loved us so much that he gave His Son to die for us! What a wondeful message!

Nellie Odhuno Shani is a Counselor, Conference speaker and writer. Her first books are available on, Barnes and Nobles and on her author’s websites.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Word of Encouragement: Counselors Corner: 12 Keys to a Healthy, Godly Marriage

by stephanie reck  

Many of you may be like me, and did not have proper role models growing up for marriage. When I got married, I brought a lot of “baggage” into the relationship. I had absolutely no idea how to have a healthy, Godly marriage, but it is amazing how the Lord has instructed me. No matter what your relationship has gone through, there is hope. That hope only comes through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Listed below are 12 keys to a healthy, Godly marriage:

  • Put God first. Having a right relationship with your spouse, starts with having a right relationship with God. Ecclesiastes 4:12
  • Pray together daily. Let your spouse hear your prayers for them. Pray over your spouse throughout the day. Psalm 145:18
  • Read the Bible together, and discuss what you received from your time of reading God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • Fight fair. Things that should be off limits in disagreements: Name calling, hitting, pushing, throwing things, yelling, and belittling. 1 Peter 4:8Ephesians 4:2-3
  • Seek to build your spouse by encouragement. Wives, be your husband’s greatest cheerleader and husbands, be careful of being overly critical. Proverbs 21:9Colossians 3:18-19
  • Be respectful, gentle, and patient of each other. You are both different people with different needs and desires. Do not try and change the other to conform to what you would want them to be. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  • Laugh together and learn to have fun as a couple. Find out what you both enjoy and do it! Have regular date nights, a minimum of 2x per month. Proverbs 17:22
  • Be faithful to one another at all times, that means keeping pure in the areas of what you watch on TV, movies, and on the computer. This includes pornography, social media, texting or speaking on the phone with opposite sex, meeting the opposite sex alone for lunch/dinner (even for business), and flirting. A good rule to follow is if you could not do it in front of your spouse, then you probably should not be doing it. Hebrews 13:4-5
  • Have a healthy sex life, having sex at least 2x per week. Enjoy each other and keep all intimacy dedicated just to your spouse. Carve out this time, put it on the schedule if you have to; but do not neglect this very important time of bonding and connecting with your spouse. (If there has been issues with adultery, pornography, or past sexual abuse, realize you will have to go through a healing process first). Hebrews 13:4Proverbs 5:15-9
  • Wives, submit to your husbands (this should not be abusive in anyway, but mutual!). Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Ephesians 5:22-331 Peter 3:1-11
  • Leave your family of origin and cleave to your spouse. This implies becoming one flesh with your spouse. Matthew 19:4-6
  • Never use the “D” word, divorce. Mathew 19:2-9

God’s desire is for you to have a healthy marriage that places Him at the center. Do not despair if you are not in a good place in your marriage, God can redeem what seems to be dead and lifeless, perhaps, instead of trying to change your spouse; allow God to change you!

What are some of the lessons God has taught you in how to have a healthy, Godly marriage? Please share, your input is valuable to others. Thank you and may the Lord richly bless your marriage.

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
Hope Ministry, @2020
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

The Worst Thing You Can Do When Your Heart is Broken

by Greg Baker  

You either are hurt or will have your heart broken eventually. This is the price of love. Yet when it happens to you the absolute worst thing you can do is wall yourself off from people.

Here’s the thing; it will always be a person or a group of people that hurt you. This is unavoidable. Our natural reaction is to isolate ourselves from people because we fear having our hearts broken again. This is a mistake of huge proportions.

Here are some common fears when your heart has been broken:

* You fear what others think of you.
* You are embarrassed over how or why you were hurt.
* You fear that people will look down on you.
* You fear that no one will understand.
* You fear that people will think it is really your fault.
* You fear that you’ll just be hurt again.
* You fear rejection.
* You fear people asking you about your pain.
* You fear being the butt of gossip or jokes.
* You fear the stigma of your pain.

Because of these fears, you do the worst thing possible. You wall yourself off from everyone around you. You see, though it will always be people that break your heart, it will always be people that will help you to heal too. You need others. You need your family, your friends, your church, and your neighbors.

I pastor many people who have had their hearts broken. They all, at first, just want to wall themselves off from everyone around them. This is bad. The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. I think you’ll be surprised at how the people that love you will rally around you. You need people who will insulate you, and allow their love to heal your broken heart.

In the Bible there is a story of Judas Iscariot. This man betrayed Jesus and his friends for a few coins. He never intended anyone to get hurt, I believe. But when he saw that they were going to crucify Jesus, he tried to undo his betrayal. He tried to fix his mistake. But the Jewish council refused him. He had no one now. His betrayal of Jesus had isolated him from those that cared about him, and no one else in authority would hear him. Alone, isolated, and with a heavy heart he went out and committed suicide.

If you isolate yourself from everyone, you will feel as Judas did. You’ll feel completely alone, completely isolated, completely abandoned, and rejected. It won’t be true, but having isolated yourself from everyone you’ll find these feeling taking over your thinking and dominating your emotions. These feelings, on top of your broken heart, are very, very dangerous.

Don’t isolate yourself. Find a friend, a loved one, a pastor, a counselor, or a neighbor that cares and let them help you heal your broken heart.

More at:

Or for books on communication and social skills in relationships! Specifically, our books ‘Fitly Spoken’ and ‘Restoring a Fallen Christian’.

What Determines How People Perceive Your Personality?

by Greg Baker  

Have you ever been misunderstood, taken the wrong way, or categorized and stereotyped incorrectly? Find out why this happens and what you can do to be perceived correctly by those around you.


Essentially, you define yourself to those around you by the words you use. People do judge you by the words that come out of your mouth. Your ability to communicateor lack thereofis what ultimately defines you in the eyes of those around you.

I remember a time in college where I gained a reputation for being cold and distant. This puzzled me greatly since I neither felt I was cold toward others or intentionally distant. The problem was the manner in which I spoke. Because I was shy, I spoke in short clipped statements that conveyed a lack of concern and interest. Neither was true, but the fact remains that I defined myself a certain way by the way I communicated to others.

How do you determine a warm, friendly individual? It is by the words he or she uses. Certainly a smile helps, but the words he or she speaks is what resonates with your soul. You immediately judge them friendly by the friendly words they speak. The same is true for you. You may be shy and insecure and perhaps struggle with expressing yourself and therefore are judged to be stuck-up, proud, or distant.

In addition to how your words define your personality, your words also define other aspects of you. Here are some things to remember:


Are you trustworthy, willing to commit, truthful, or dependable? You may feel you are and yet have a reputation of just the opposite. These character aspects are often determined by the words you use. If your words do not match your actions, it is your words that are judged and the verdict is passed upon your character.

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘My word is my bond’? Nothing defines your character more than when your words verifies, establishes, and determines your actions. It is true that people will remember your deeds, but the words that drove those deeds will often define those deeds to others.


Treatment of others is based largely on how another person is perceived. If you are thought of as a troublemaker, others will treat you accordingly. If you are known as a liar, people will treat you accordingly. If you are thought to be selfish, people will treat you according to that perception.

Since your words often define both your personality and character to others around you, those same words will define how you are treated by them. That is not to say that everyone will treat you in the same manner, but that your words have had an impact on how they react to you.


Learn to communicate effectively. Communication is a skill that can be learned. Wielding words well will help establish good relationships and help define yourself in a manner that you wish others to perceive you as.

More at:

Or for books on communication and social skills in relationships! Specifically, our books ‘Fitly Spoken’ and ‘Restoring a Fallen Christian’.

Knowing the End from the Beginning…Baddies Always Lose, Goodies Always Win!

by Georgina Tennant  

My son hates anything sad or scary, even on television. Through movie afternoons, we keep asking him, “Who wins in the end?” eliciting the much-rehearsed reply, “Baddies always lose, goodies always win.”

Watching Cinderella, one Sunday afternoon, his usual panic set in. The initial beauty of the film faded into the darker scenes and he announced that he wanted to watch something else! Knowing he would cope better with the scary bits if he knew what lay beyond them, I pressed pause.

After five minutes explaining about ugly sisters, wicked step mothers, magic pumpkins, glass slippers, a handsome prince and a happily ever after, he was all smiles again, eager to press on. As we watched more, it struck me that we, as adults, are not dissimilar in our approach to life and faith.

We meander happily through sunnier parts of life but when troubles and trials hit, we want to pause the story, hide away from the sheer discomfort of it. If, we reason, we could just know that next week, month, year, things will look up, we could keep going.

The uncertainty makes us doubt and fear. We long to know the end from the beginning but we dont we can’t. There is, however, reassurance in knowing the One who does!

Sometimes we yearn for God to unfold our narrative in advance, as I did for my son; we reason that it would help us to anticipate the peaks and troughs, navigate them more gracefully. Instead God calls us to a place of surrender and trust, where all we can do is place our hand in His and trust Him to lead us safely through, giving us all the grace we need for each moment.

We do not know what twists and turns will lead us through life to our story’s end, but we can count on two things. Firstly, God will work out all things, joy-filled and excruciatingly painful, for our good. Secondly, the final end to all of our stories will be one of rejoicing, wholeness and peace for all eternity, if we’ve put our trust in Him.

With my hand in the hand of an author who writes like that, I can confidently walk through my story, even without knowing the full script. I can walk, trust and surrender – even stumble and trip – knowing that the One who wrote my story from the very beginning, will give me all I need to live it, right until the very end.

I am a secondary school English Teacher and Mum to two small boys. I love writing both poetry and ‘reflective’ articles (I sometimes write the ‘Thought for the Week’ for the local free paper) and love it when Christians are encouraged AND not-yet-Christians are inspired and challenged by my writing.

Article Source: WRITERS

Grace vs the Anger of Politics

by Stephen Kimball  

As a Christian, I have been struggling with my own response to all that is going on in the country right now. I confess, I can get riled up in a “New York minute”, as they say, watching practically any news media. Politics couldn’t be more polarizing and it’s hard not to get sucked up into it because it is on the minds of just about everyone, all the time. When I forget that I am a citizen of Heaven and I fall for Satan’s distractions, in my humanness I want to plant my feet firmly in a hole, fill it with concrete, let it dry and never be willing or able to move an inch, in a fight to the death. “How dare they…” quickly becomes my mantra.

Grace though, is quite the opposite of politics. Grace doesn’t allow me to focus on myself and my “rights”, it doesn’t allow me to “put up my dukes” either physically or verbally to defend a political position, all the while offending and alienating human beings who need to see and know the love of Christ. Rather, grace demands that I listen; that I let offenses “roll off my back” in the name of Christ, who created that person in His image and loves him or her just as much as he does me.

If, as a citizen of Heaven, I desire to live a grace-filled life, properly reflecting my King, then I must resist the anger of politics. I must be willing to look past the politics and see the person. After all, I haven’t noticed anywhere in the Bible where Jesus gets stuck in the political “concrete” of his day. Jesus was always willing to engage with anyone no matter their skin color or social status. He hung out with criminals and religious leaders, the poor and the wealthy, the exalted and the shamed. But Jesus wasn’t interested in fighting about the issues. He always went straight for the heart.

The religious leaders of the day thought they had a handle on God, but no matter how the conversation began, Jesus would turn the dialogue inward, exposing how their hypocrisy and self-righteousness were an offense to God, actually keeping them from experiencing a real relationship with Him.

Jesus said that he didn’t come for the healthy, but the sick and he demonstrated that throughout his ministry by physically healing the sick and spiritually healing the souls of the truly humble and repentant. Although the rank and file wanted Jesus to be their political leader, he never stood to give his first “stump speech”. Rather, he spoke over and over about truth, love, forgiveness, salvation and eternity.

I am recognizing that when I get too caught up in politics and the frustration and fear of all the civil unrest, grace quickly begins to erode in my life. Christians are supposed to love and lead gracious lives that attract people in a dark world. Living a life marked by grace looks welcoming, kind, considerate, generous, empathetic, thoughtful, humble and tactful and I find it really difficult to genuinely be these things while being really fired up and angry at the same time. Anger is not usually a precursor to leading someone to Christ.

Perhaps I may need to tamp down the 24hr news updates or, God forbid, remove Facebook from my phone. The fact is, the more my “blood boils” in anger and the more I view “the other side” as the enemy, the less I look like Jesus. As a Christian and foreigner in this land, I need to constantly remind myself that this world is temporary, God is in control and it is the souls of men that should be my utmost priority.

To contact or read more poems and articles by Stephen please go to:

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Changing Careers

by Kristin Hanley  

In a society where job security is no longer applicable, changing careers doesn’t carry the stigma it used to. In fact, most will change careers at least three times during their lifespan. And we’re not just talking job changes, but actually careersa whole new venue.

For some, change can be scary, and for others, the change is exciting. But regardless of your emotional response, sometimes a career shift is necessary. With that change, comes elevated stress. To lesson the anxiety that is inevitable, let me offer some simple tools you can apply to the situation.

First, it is of primary importance that you don’t suck lemons through the whole process. The glass is half full, my friend. Do not see this change as a failed attempt or a disgrace, but as an opportunity to do something more in line with your passion.

See it as a chance to try something different, to work through your list of dreams and goals. The first four years after college, I had eight different jobs and three different career shifts within those jobs. At the time, it was a struggle for me to remain hopeful and not get discouraged. I felt like a failure. But a dear friend reminded me that I wasn’t failing, I was experimenting, discovering my personal niche`. I tried it and moved on to something better.

In addition to your mental outlook, remember to extend grace to yourself. Don’t feel inferior because you are having to learn something new. Yes, you may have worked yourself up to CEO in the old career and now you are perched on a bottom rung, but see it as a change to grow and learn. Character develops through knowledge plus humility. Find someone you can trust that will encourage you along the way and advise you in this new territory.

And lastly, remember that you aren’t married to your career. Divorce is not nearly as messy. Don’t worry about breaking hearts or lowering your bar. You are who you are, and who you are is learning and changing. Perhaps you realize that after fifteen years of airplane mechanics you would prefer to teach botany instead. Have the courage to walk away, and I promise the airplane won’t suffer a broken heart as a result.

One of the best retirements you can give yourself is the ability to look back on the past thirty years of your job experiences and feel that you lived your goals and dreams to the fullest.

Kristin Hanley teaches Composition and Creative Writing courses at Regent University. Aside from reading and writing, she loves to paint, hike, and create new recipes. She makes her home in Branson West, Missouri, with her husband and daughter.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

It’s Not Just Entertainment

by Anthony Weber  

As the Traverse City Film Festival approaches, anyone going to downtown Traverse City will inevitably see one or twenty posters with this year’s slogan: “One Great Movie Can Change You.” I completely agree. This is not a new insight, of course. People have recognized the power of entertainment for thousands of years. However, the slogan has encouraged me to revisit how the arts and entertainment both reflect and shape us.

Obviously, the arts reflect us as they respond constantly to the environment in which they occur. Read any Western Civilization textbook and you will see the ebb and flow over thousands of years. If a good story, song or image doesn’t resonate with something in a person’s life, no one is going to care, and the out-of-touch artist, author, musician, or filmmaker will lose his or her audience.

But entertainment shapes our culture as well. This was clearly the case even before ubiquitous media has burrowed into our 21st century psyche. Andrew Fletcher, a Scottish writer and politician, wrote of a wise friend who believed that “if a man were permitted to make all the ballads he need not care who should make the laws of a nationmost of the ancient legislators thought that they could not well reform the manners of any city without the help of a lyric, and sometimes of a dramatic poet.”

Plato, though not a legislator, certainly qualifies as an important ancient voice. He wrote of the power of music in The Republic, Book 4 (the Fowler translation):

“For the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions, as Damon affirms and as I am convinced.”

“Set me too down in the number of the convinced,” said Adeimantus.

“It is here, then,” I said, “in music, as it seems, that our guardians must build their guard-house and post of watch.”

“It is certain,” he said, “that this is the kind of lawlessness that easily insinuates itself unobserved.”

“Yes,” said I, “because it is supposed to be only a form of play and to work no harm.”

“Nor does it work any,” he said, “except that by gradual infiltration it softly overflows upon the characters and pursuits of men and from these issues forth grown greater to attack their business dealings, and from these relations it proceeds against the laws and the constitution with wanton license, Socrates, till finally it overthrows all things public and private.”

Plato’s insights were not flawless, but he was prescient about the role music would play in the world. Thousands of years later, folk singer Peter Seeger would note that “the right song at the right time can change history.” In 2013, the BBC published an article entitled “20 Of Your Songs That Changed The World.” Their list showed how music has mended international relationships, confronted apartheid, bolstered civil rights, and fought injustice around the world. It is a timelessly powerful form or entertainment.

But with the rise of the camera and then the technology to make those picture move, entertainment of which Plato and Fletcher could not have dreamed began to take the world by storm. Now our culture is saturated with screens – television, film, computer, portable devices and the stories they tell add already powerful music to mesmerizing images. The stories will still reflect culture, but perhaps more than ever they change it in increasingly subtle and significant ways.

Walt Disney claimed that “movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.” Marshal McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher of communication theory, noted, “Television is teaching all the time. It does more educating than the schools and all the institutions of higher learning.”

TV and film changes how we experience and process our emotional responses to such a degree that we become susceptible to ideas we had not considered before. Martin Scorsese claims that””movies touch our hearts, and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They open doors and minds.”

In an article called “Movies May Cause Special Effects On The Body,” the Chicago Tribune noted:” ‘Because many films transmit ideas through emotion rather than intellect, they can neutralize the instinct to suppress feelings and trigger emotional release,’ said Birgit Wolz, a psychologist focusing on movies as therapy, and author of E-motion Picture Magic. ‘By eliciting emotions, watching movies can open doors that otherwise might stay closed.'”

There are numerous practical examples of how this influence plays out in the real world.

  • “The Birth of a Nation” helped resurrect the KKK.
  • Sharks were hunted mercilessly after Jaws.
  • Navy aviator recruitment jumped 500% for a time thanks to Top Gun.
  • The sale of bacon was impacted by the movie Babe.
  • The popularity of the CSI has increased interest in forensic science and impacted juror expectations in courtrooms.
  • An article in Truth About Nursing noted: “The idea that fictional media can influence public views and conduct is not controversial in the field of public health What has become increasingly clear in recent years is that fictional television can also play a significant role in shaping public images about the state of our health care system and policy options for improving the delivery of care.”
  • People who watch comedies and dramas think the world is more just than those who watch news and documentaries.
  • Food Inc. shaped public policy, specifically the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization and Food Safety Act.
  • The New York Times quotes expert Amy B. Zegart, an analyst of American attitudes on torture, concerning her conclusion about the influence of television is striking:”I think the evidence is that television is shifting views. Entertainment has an alarming impact”
  • People who regularly view spy-themed entertainment were significantly more likely than their counterparts to accept actions like assassinating (84% to 70%) or waterboarding (38% to 28%) terrorists.

Matt Baume, a writer, storyteller and videomaker who focuses on LGBT issues (among other topics) was recently a guest on the podcast Shadow of A Thought. In an episode entitled “A Brief History of Marriage,” he noted the power of story in furthering the cause he champions. “It’s visibility that changed [perceptions of homosexuals]. Seeing gay couples on Will and Grace, or Queer as Folk, or Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, even seeing Ricky on My So Called Life a lot of gay men who lived through the 90’s cite that visibility as not just changing for them what it meant for them to be gay but ultimately changing how other people saw them: their family, co-workers, how other gay people related to each other…”

The late Neil Postman, one of the greatest technological prophets of our time, once wrote:

“Television is our culture’s principal mode of knowing about itself. Therefore — and this is the critical point — how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged. It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse. It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails.”

A well-told story packs a tremendous punch. We step away from the screen, but the images and the messages linger. That kind of power must be balanced with great responsibility – and the fact that many of you know that line comes from Peter Parker’s uncle says something about how the messages in entertainment permeate our lives.

I find myself increasingly annoyed with the comment, “It’s just entertainment. You’re over thinking it!” No – it’s not, and I’m not. I enjoy it don’t get me wrong but every song is a sermon. Every movie has a message. Every screen is both a mirror and a molder. It’s well worth asking if we should applaud or cringe at what we see reflected, and if we like what our stories are making of us.

How Men Can Manage Their Fears, Depression, OCD, And Other Stresses

by Stan Popovich  

Some men may experience those times when their fears, anxieties, and depression are stronger than what they can handle. There are times that no matter what they do, their fears have the best of them. As a result, here is a brief list of techniques that a man can use to help manage their every day anxieties, stresses, and fears.

When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, divide the task into a series of smaller steps and then complete each of the smaller tasks one at a time. Completing these smaller tasks will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.

Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, take a deep breathe and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get your mind off of the problem. A person can get some fresh air, listen to some music, or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things.

Sometimes we encounter a scary situation that gets us all upset. When encountering these events, always remember to get all of the facts of the given situation. Gathering the facts can prevent us from relying on exaggerated and fearful assumptions. By focusing on the facts, a person can rely on what is reality and what is not.

In dealing with your anxieties, learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. You never know when the answers you are looking for will come to your doorstep. We may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference.

At times, a person might encounter a fearful thought that may be difficult to manage. When this happens, visualize a red stop sign, which can serve as a reminder to stop thinking about that thought. Regardless of how scary the thought may be, do not dwell on it. This technique is good in dealing with obsessive and scary thoughts.

Sometimes, it helps to be able to talk to someone about our stressful situations. Talking to a trusted friend, counselor, or clergyman can not only make us feel better, but they can give you additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. Managing your fears and anxieties takes practice. In time, you will become better able to deal with your stressful problems.

As a layman, I have over fifteen years of experience in dealing with fear and anxiety. At times, my fears had the best of me, however I never gave up and I was always determined to find the answers to my problems. Regardless of how difficult it may be to manage your fears and anxieties, the answers are out there if you look hard enough.

Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods” – an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For info go to:

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Parenting The Strong Willed Child

by Antje Hill  

So you have a strong willed child on your hands! That personality that makes you want to scream at times, may be the very characteristic that makes him fight against all odds in the adult world. It could be that this little person within the sound of your voice has a noble calling and you have been picked to nurture this child. That means it is up to you, as a parent, to guide and mold, not break the will of your children. It is important that this young tender “will” be focused in positive directions rather than negative ones.

Discipline is of major importance with a headstrong child. When they want to do things their way, we marvel that this child is so different from our compliant one. This is definitely a testing ground. It is important to provide consistent firm and loving discipline. No matter how the child balks, firm parenting means security for the child. They feel safe knowing there are boundaries on what they can and cannot do.

It is easy to burst out in times of frustration with young children. I dare admit I have done this. I look back and realize how earth shattering I made little things. Every situation was major to me. Now I know it is wise to choose your battles. Stand your ground on things that truly matter, those core values you want to instill as a parent. For example, catching a child in a lie is a prime time to stop to explain how important it is to tell the truth, how people are known by the words they speak.

Make instructions clear as to what family standards are, but make sure the consequences of misbehavior are just as clear. In addition, always, always follow through with what you say. Remember, you are role modeling for your child. It’s important they understand that if you say something, they can bank on it!” This, too, is a part of truth telling.

A strong willed child is tender underneath the tough exterior. They not only need discipline and respect as a human being, they need encouragement. It is easy to see all the wrong things they do. But try deliberately looking for things they do right. Then, compliment them heartily. Let them know you are proud to be their Mom. Statements such as this increase their feelings of self-worth.

As Christians, we know God does not make mistakes. If you have been given the responsibility of growing a strong willed child, it is because God knows He can trust you. He knows, too, that you will have to lean on Him. He loves it when we do that.

“Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things,
which you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3

Antje and her husband, Richard, live in MS. She is a columnist for Parents and Kids Magazine. She loves sharing her parenting experiences and helping other see how the years fly and how important it is to make each moment count.

Teaching Good Things While Aging-Encouragement for Older Women


Older women are great treasures to the body of Christ, these are women who have lots of experience, some of them have experienced challenging marriages, raising difficult children, health issues etc. Even though we may have the uprising of young women on the platform of preaching, yet, I still believe we need the contribution of older women to have a balance life in the church.  There is so much to learn from the life of elderly women in our churches.

Maybe you are in your fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties or nineties, there is a space for you in the body of Christ. There are many young wives or young mothers who are struggling and making wrong decisions in life, these women need instruction from older women in order for them to balance life together.

The book of Titus 2: 4-5 tells us the curriculum we need to teach our younger women, and this is so true of the church’s need for older women. What are we supposed to teach younger women as older woman in the church?

To be sober: Many young women in our churches are battling life challenges by resorting to substance, some are addicted to tobacco, alcohol abuse, shopaholic, while some deliberately work round the clock. If you approach many of these young women, you will realize that they are battling many life circumstances with the wrong attitude. Your closeness with that young woman might be a solution to her life challenges. Younger women need to be taught how to be sober, and it is my prayer that you will step up as an older woman to bridge that gap in the life of young women in the church.

To love their husbands: This is another key area the younger women needs to be taught. It is very easy for many younger women to substitute the love for their husbands for their children. The younger generation of wives needs to be taught how to love a man and why to love a man when he seemingly does not deserve this love. This is another part of the curriculum older women ought to teach younger women.

To love their children: We are left today with many unruly children who are seemingly been raised in the church, these children were over pampered by their parents in the name of love, and this is why we need the input of older women to teach the younger ones how to differentiate between love and been spoiled. Younger women have the need to know how and when to love their children.

To be discreet: Discreet means to be careful and prudent in one’s speech or actions, especially in order to keep something confidential or to avoid embarrassment.  How many young women have brought embarrassment to their homes, husbands, children and themselves? Being discreet seems not to be natural, it has to be learned, young women have to be taught to be careful and prudent in how they speak and how they act.  The secrets of many husbands are out there in the open because the wife was not knowledgeable to know who and how to share issues regarding their husband.

To be chaste: Chaste is abstaining from extramarital, or from all sexual defilement. Has the matter of unchaste attitude not destroy many young women?  Some young married women are involved in extramarital affairs, some are hanging out with another man over the internet, some are getting the affection they are not getting from their husbands from another man who is not their husband. Some of such women felt, no body understands what life is as the wife of their husbands. This is a very critical area where we need the older women to bring the younger wives in, and share and teach me the need to be chaste as Christian women.  Chastity is a challenge for our young girls, some of them might be physically intact,  but their emotion is contaminated. May you arise as an older woman to help the younger ones to be chaste.

To be keepers at home: The home front of many of the women in our churches are under attack by the enemy. Some women have abdicated the home for a well-paid job, some travel days and weeks for work, while their homes suffer a great deal. There is also another group of women who are in the home as full-time housewife, but honestly, their home is under attack under their nose. Some of their husbands are hooked in strange relationships, some of their children have gone astray. These women seem to be in the home, but yet, they are absent. They lack discernment, they lack the skill to keep watch over their homes. And on the other hand, the Lord has blessed many older women with godly homes, some of them learned to keep their homes after they failed in their responsibilities, and if such women arise now to teach the younger women to be keepers at home, and how to be this keeper at home, many of our Christian homes will be saved from the salvage of the enemy.

The home is the bedrock of a solid church, and the bedrock of each community, nation and generation. The home is the God’s incubator for our children to grow, and the warmth atmosphere for our husbands to relax.  May we see the crucial need of teaching and encouraging the younger women to make their homes a priority.

To be good and obedient to their own husbands: This is the final curriculum the older women are encouraged to teach the younger ones. The instruction is not to teach them to be good and obedient, but to be specifically good and obedient to their own It can be more easier for women to respect and act good to other people but not their own husbands, and this is the reason why the older women ought to take responsibility to train the younger ones in the body of Christ the need to specifically live out the Christian life in their relationship with their own husbands. Some of our men in the church are lamenting the fact that their wives are not obedient to them at home. Women can be very vocal at home, useful in church, submissive to the leaders in church, but disobedient at home to their own husbands. And if the older women are not taking responsibility to help these younger women in the matter of obedience (submission) to their own husbands, then many of our churches will be left with fractured homes.

Older women have the need to arise and teach the younger women through their lifestyle and choices, so that the word of God is not blasphemedAs you age, may you become the answer of God into the midst of the church in our times, that is in dire need of the wisdom of older women. Amen.

I am a mother of two wonderful daughters and I’m married to a lovely husband. I love writing for children, teenagers, women, family etc. There are books that I wrote for children and women. I’ve written magazines for children and parents as well. My articles are free to use.

Parents choosing new forms of education in uncertain school year

By Scott McClallen | The Center Square July 29, 2020

(The Center Square) – Several reports and national surveys indicate that private and charter schools provided more meaningful educational services during state shutdowns than public schools did, and more parents are choosing nontraditional educational options this fall.

A nationally representative survey conducted by Education Next found that while there was “a lot of lost ground on learning” during coronavirus shutdowns in the spring semester, there was “a more robust response in the charter school sector and in the private school sector” among respondents.

According to the survey, private and charter school teachers were more than twice as likely to meet with their students every day than teachers at public schools were. Private and charter schools were roughly 20 percent more likely to introduce new content to their students during state shutdowns than their public school counterparts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for in-person education recommends reopening.

The CDC cites social, emotional, and academic harm to children associated with closed schools, which disproportionately harms low-income and minority students who are less likely to tap into private tutors, food programs and counseling services.

State Superintendent Michael Rice on Tuesday proposed a year-freeze in enrollment count so parents couldn’t transfer their kids, and their per-pupil funding, to another district with a preferred education method.

“If we start doing fresh counts in 2021, we are going to exacerbate the instability in the environment that already exists,” Rice testified. “We will create even more instability by unleashing this competition around in-person versus at a distance, and I do not think it will benefit our children.”

Parents are already choosing homeschool co-ops and other opportunities.

Traditional schools may be scrambling to gather online material, but for Highpoint Virtual Academy, it’s “business as usual,” Head of School Mary Moorman said.

In July, Moorman has seen about 1,000 enrollments, up from about 200 during this time last year for the K-12 school.

The tuition-free public charter school academy is in its fifth year of cyberschool, while Moorman has been teaching online for 13 years.

The school’s teachers are all licensed by the state of Michigan and are solely dedicated to online education.

The work is divided by online work with teachers and children working with a parent or guardian.

“It’s a good balance of structure and independence,” Moorman said.

Families get a “tried and true” curriculum in the mail, including a computer, printer and textbooks, Moorman said.

The school also recently kicked off a dual enrollment program through which students can stay for a “13th” year to earn an associate degree from Baker College or Davenport University at no cost.

Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, said interest in homeschooling has increased by at least 10 times.

Coleman’s group developed an Introduction to Home Education course for first-time home-schoolers, partially due to COVID-19-induced demand, and suggested parents base education on public education’s return reassessment.

Ben DeGrow, director of Education Policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said that many parents are choosing new educational opportunities after frustration with traditional education.

“Despite the disruption, students will benefit from having parents take a more active role in directing their education. But many others will be harmed by not having enough quality options, including in-person learning, that they can access. This challenging season for parents is also becoming most clarifying,” DeGrow told The Center Square in an email.

“The more they see powerful organizations and officials bent on protecting the system at all costs, even if it means denying opportunities to their children, the stronger the case grows for putting families in charge of education funds,” DeGrow continued. “This can especially help give less privileged students a fairer chance to succeed.”

Breaking Free From Addiction

by stephanie reck  

Addictions come in many forms, such as, alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, and pornography. Addiction happens when we have a compulsive, repetitive desire for a certain thing and we act on the impulse. Nothing else will do until the craving we are after is fulfilled.

Have you ever noticed how people go to great lengths to obtain their addiction? Why, you might ask? Every time we fulfill that desire for our addiction it changes pathways in our brain for pleasure. In other words, the pleasure chemical dopamine is released every time we go after our addiction.

In essence we become addicted to the release of feel-good dopamine, but the problem is we need more of whatever we are addicted to each time to have the same initial “high” we got the first time. That is the craziness of addiction, you will never get the same feeling you got the first time you watched pornography, had a high from a joint, or became intoxicated when you won money gambling.

I come from a family of addicts, mainly drugs and alcohol. I as well have endured these same addictions, but have found the way out of the trap. I use the word trap to describe what addiction is like.

You never mean for it to last as long as it does, and when you try and get free from it, you are pulled back. Some addictions are a result of genetic predisposition that is why you see alcoholism run in families. No matter how the addiction formed, the enemy is always pushing you to stay in it. Why? Because addiction destroys families, careers, and ultimately the enemy wants the addiction to kill you.

The enemy will initially show you fun times and pleasure with your addiction, but it fades as you realize you can’t get out. Addiction will turn you into a liar, cheat, and thief. This all makes the enemy very happy, while it grieves the Lord. We cannot be all that God wants us to be chasing after our “idols” of addiction (an idol is anything you place higher than Christ).

The cycle of addicting can be broken, but only through the help of Jesus Christ. Self-help groups or your own strength is not sufficient enough to beating addiction.

Tips on breaking free from addiction:

1. Ask Jesus for His help. This cannot be underestimated. Nothing can break the chain of addiction long-term like Jesus can. He can set the captives free from addiction.

2. Get rid immediately of ALL that represents your addiction, such as if you are addicted to alcohol get rid of all alcohol in your home, wine glasses and if you are addicted to food, get rid of the food that cause you to emotionally eat.

3. Change your friendships, or at least the ones who encourage your appetite for addiction. For example, I was in a Christian ministry group where many of the members drank alcohol and spoke of drinking often. Even though, I enjoyed them and they are Christians, I had to part ways with them to stay sober. I don’t judge what THEY do, but as for me, it “wets” my appetite to want to drink when I hear about their drinking. I begin to “lust” after what they were doing.

4. Change where you go and what you do. If you are addicted to gambling, don’t go to the casino just to eat or play one round of blackjack. Since I had a strong addiction to alcohol, I no longer eat in restaurants that serve alcohol.

5. Prayer is a powerful weapon against the strategies of the enemy that could cause us to stumble. Take the time to listen to God as well, He will let you know insights such as, don’t go there, or it is not good to hang around that person for it might cause you to be hindered.

6. Read the Word daily and meditate on the Word. Let the Word renew your mind that has been darkened by addiction.

7. Find a healthy activity to replace your addiction. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, but it also increase the pleasure chemical dopamine in our brains.

8. Tell someone about your struggles. Find someone you trust and become accountable to them.

9. If you need additional help such as a detox program for drugs/alcohol or a Christ-centered recovery program like Celebrate Recovery, get the help necessary.

10. Journal and begin asking the Lord to uncover the “roots” of why your addicted. Most people become addicted to something as they are trying to fill a void in their lives and numb themselves from pain. Get to the root!

11. Be mindful of stressful times that can heighten your desire for the addiction. Stress is a precursor or warning flag that you need to heed to, lest you fall into your addiction again.

You can break free from whatever addiction masters you, but only with the aid of Jesus Christ. Don’t try and go it alone. It usually takes 21-30 days to form a habit or break a habit, the first 30 days will be the hardest, and thereafter you will still need to be guarded by knowing your triggers. The first year of recovery will be a time of readjusting and rebuilding.

The first year of sobriety may seem strange and unfamiliar to you, and your brain will need time to adjust chemically back to normal. Never think or believe, “I got this and I can do whatever I want.” For instance, if I begin to believe that because I have not had alcohol in a long time and now I can go to a nightclub or bar, I could set myself up to fail. The enemy knows your weakest points, and trust me he will exploit them at any chance he gets. If you are tired, stressed, sick, or even feel you “got this,” beware! The enemy looks for opportune times to get us to sin.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation He will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

What has been helpful to you in breaking free from addiction? Please share to help others

Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
Founder of Hope Ministry
Hope Ministry, @2020
Author of, “Disciplining Your Mind 30 Days to a Better You!”

Conquering Shyness

by Cate Russell-Cole  

“The shell must break before the bird can fly.” Tennyson

When I was in High School, people thought I was a stuck-up snob because I wouldn’t speak to them. It’s not that I didn’t want to, just that I didn’t know how. I had no self confidence, and was very shy. One on one with someone I knew reasonably well, I was alright, but I was never able to do well in a group situation. I never wanted to put my hand up in class and answer a question. I hated anything that would draw attention to myself. When I was eight, my parents placed my photo on the children’s birthdays segment on afternoon television, and I was embarrassed and horrified.

I’m not as traumatised as an adult, but if I have to take the initiative in a social situation, I still hang back and would rather hide than come forward. I just don’t know how to start a sparkling conversation. I am a loner. I love people, but I’m far from gregarious or confident. Can you relate to this? Shyness is a common problem, and most people experience it to some degree. It can be a awkward personality trait which causes us discomfort, or a major handicap. When you become a hermit when you don’t want to be, or experience severe anxiety or panic attacks in social situations, then you have a very serious problem. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Shy kids may not just “grow out of it.” Shyness is a behaviour that is learnt in childhood, and can become a life pattern. It’s root is anxiety and insecurity. When your self esteem is low and you are afraid of being rejected by other people, it can be easier to avoid them and stay safe. The problem is, shy people want social contact, and the isolation can create depression and stop you from achieving the lifestyle, maybe even the career, that you want. Negative experiences when you reach out to people just teach you to hold back more, and shyness can become a self validating cycle.

It takes time and courage to conquer shyness. One of the best ideas is to start working on your shyness in a safe place. Join a hobby group or a small group where you are with people who have similar interests, and who you feel the most safe with. Try finding a situation where you are more comfortable and feel you can be yourself. Don’t place pressure on yourself to handle the situation like a social butterfly first time. Change and success come in small steps. You do have to make some effort to be sociable, but you don’t have to be perfect, and it’s OK not to be. Sometimes our expectations of ourselves to be witty, vibrant, interesting and intelligent all at the right moments, are the biggest problem. If we fail in our own high expectations, we won’t want to try again, even if we did receive a good response from others.

If people pass you by, don’t worry. There will always be some people you get on well with, and people you don’t. You will find other people who genuinely like you for you, and understand how difficult it can be to feel shy. I found that having to work with people I had to communicate with was one of the best ways to overcome my shyness. I had no choice, I had to perform ready or not, and people were very supportive. When people know you are struggling, they can be very kind. It has been a long, slow learning process, and I am not as comfortable with people as I would like to be yet, but I am getting better.

Let your disasters go, and summon the courage to keep moving forward and making new friends, step by step, week by week. Any changes we make in our lives take courage, persistence and determination, and overcoming shyness is no different. Change takes time, as you are learning new skills, but as your confidence builds, the process will get easier. So be brave, plan a regular, safe social encounter and enjoy getting to know people. No matter what you believe about yourself, you have inestimable value. Every individual has their own combination of gifts and talents, positive traits and strengths. You are worth as much as anyone else. Give it your best shot, and don’t get jaded by disappointment. You can win over shyness, it just takes time.

This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Written in Australian English.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERS

Surviving the Marathon of Motherhood

by Amanda Williams  

Get your running shoes on ladies! The marathon of motherhood is here and survival is the name of the game! What is a marathon anyway? One dictionary defines a marathon as “a contest of endurance” ( Another definition, my personal favorite, states a marathon is “a main event of the manifestation for the most prepared sportsmen” (

The manifestation of what you might ask? Your precious babies, that’s what! Whether they are 2 or 22, most young people exude their presence on everyone around them and only the “most prepared sportsmen” or women in this case, are equipped to stick around for the duration of the event. I, personally, enjoy the whole sports comparison.

I never prided myself on being an athlete, but I challenge even the most skilled triathlon to balance two sippy cups, a box of cheerios, a diaper bag, a baby doll, a one and a two year old and push a stroller that no one wants to ride in, while changing diapers and wiping noses. Therefore, motherhood, like a marathon, requires training, endurance, and vision.

The idea of training, or preparing, to be a mother might strike you as bordering on the hilarious! Come on, we all heard the stories of our mothers and their friends detailing the pain of labor. And if you were like me, and waited until your late twenties to have a child, you got to hear about it from all of your own friends as well.

What we all learned is that no one can prepare you for the pains of bringing a baby into the world and the horrifying and delightful reality of that precious being squirming in your arms, wanting its first meal and knowing that you are the sole provider of that nourishment. Having two toddlers in my house and under my care is a lesson in maintaining sanity under the most bizarre conditions. Did watching my cousins, niece, and nephews roll about prepare me for my life? No! Similarly, having the experience of teaching teenagers for ten years will not prepare me for my children and their adolescent years. But, what we can teach our daughters, nieces, and friends is that having a child is not necessarily the picture that is painted on the movie screen or depicted in books. Every experience is unique. Your pregnancy is just that, yours. The race of motherhood is equally precious. It is unique to you. Enjoy it, take it all in, but ask for help when you need it and don’t pretend to be super mom.

The endurance of running the mommy race is all about taking care of you. A runner wouldn’t last the race if a huge meal and a liter of soft drink were downed five minutes before the starter gun was fired. Marathon runners prepare their bodies, minds, and souls to finish the race. So must a mother. According to the National Mental Health Association, twice as many women suffer from depression as men. Why? There are a plethora of contributing factors including hormonal imbalance and chronic stress (

Check yourself spiritually and emotionally. Take care of your body. Eat right. Drink enough water. Go to the gym or take up an exerting past time. Pamper yourself. Take pride in your appearance instead of hiding behind the work you put in your kids. Children, young and old, learn best from modeling. If you want to see that happy, bouncy baby transform into a confident, balanced adult, show them what one looks like

Most importantly, nurture and maintain a few good friendships. Someone once told me the most important investment we make is in people. So true! I have a couple of girlfriends and we have an accountability code. We are honest with one another and lay it on the line if one is looking haggard or strung out. We plan survival outings, otherwise known as play dates. We swap stories and cry on shoulders and laugh at the ridiculous. But we will ALL run across that finish line, even if we have to join hands and push one another across.

Long distance runners have a vision of the end of the race. They can picture each mile, the crowd, the smells, the cheers, the way the ribbon is balanced waiting to be broken. They can feel the relief of that first drink of water after the run is over. The vision gives them hope and the hope helps them persevere. Although our children are always our children whether they are 9 or 99, mothers have to be able to visualize their personal survival. That requires the realization that we are not responsible for the choices our children make.

We provide them with opportunities and we model decision making, showing them the delicate balance of choices and consequences, but in reality they all have their own race to run. Bask in the glory of completion while enjoying the spectatorship of watching the next set of runners complete the race.

Amanda Williams is a freelance writer and poet. Mrs. Williams holds a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Education, both specializing in the education of students with disabilities. She has ten years of experience working with preschool through college aged students in the public education setting. Amanda has published one book, Becoming Visible.

Setting Boundaries With Your Difficult Adult Child Who Has A Mental Illness

by Karla Downing  

Are you wondering how to set boundaries with your difficult adult child who has a mental illness? It is hard to have adult children that make poor choices that cause problems in their lives and in their parents’ lives; it is even more difficult to have adult children who have mental illnesses that contribute to those choices. When our children have eating disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, OCD or any other mental illness, it poses additional complications and we may be inclined to “help” too much. Here are four questions to answer that will enable you to figure out whether you are helping too much. Answering them will give you guidance for setting boundaries.

Is your helping necessary? There are times when “helping” prevents your child from taking responsibility and growing into what he/she “should” be doing. There are also times when “helping” is truly necessary. You have to weigh the positive against the negative benefits of stepping in. You also have to take into consideration what your child truly cannot do for himself/herself due to the mental illness. This is an important determination and needs to take all aspects into consideration and may require you to accept less than perfect behavior and/or do more than you would if your child were mentally healthy.

Is your helping encouraging? All of your “helping” should encourage your adult child to do better and become more independent. It shouldn’t be so controlling that it takes away the incentive for your adult child to try or that it sends the message that he/she is incapable of handling his/her own life. Helping someone to help themselves is the goal. All of us learn best when we are in control of our choices and directly experience the consequences of them.

Is your helping healthy? You care about your child and feel responsible for him/her especially because he/she is “sick;” but, do you care about yourself too? It is critical that you do. What do you need? What do you want? What are you feeling? What is good for you? Is it good for you to talk to or see your child? Is it good for you to help? Is it good for you to have your child live in your house? Is it good for you to let go? Because of your legitimate concerns, you have hyper-focused on your child and what your child needs. This is natural, but it needs to shift. You may have worn yourself out to save your child. You have given emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially, physically, and relationally. Now it is time to consider yourself too, because you can’t lose yourself to save your child and end up losing both of you.

Is your helping working? The definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Think about all the things you have done over and over that haven’t worked. It is good to have hope but it needs to be grounded in reality. If certain things have never worked, try something different. You have to analyze the effects of the things you are doing by looking at how they are affecting your child. Make a cost versus benefit analysis and decide whether each thing is working and whether something else might work better. Your expectations might also have to be more reasonable to be in line with what is possible.

The mental illness makes your situation more complicated and obviously has to be taken into consideration. When setting boundaries with your difficult adult child with a mental illness, answer these four questions so that your boundaries will be good for both of you.

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