The Salvation Bracelet~Audrey

IMG_2878The latest group of children came last month. I found myself doing a craft with the kids that I had done as a child. And not only was it the same craft, I was doing it in the same church I grew up in. This was a very special moment for me.

One Wednesday we went with the Ukrainian orphans to Holtville Riverside. I had spent many years of my youth in this church. I spent many hours sitting my grandmother through sermons and spent many summers in VBS playing cartoon freeze tag and learning about Jesus.

That night we made Salvation Bracelets something I had done there as a child. I sat next to them, one of the few adults do in the craft. We practiced our colors (them in English, me in Russian). The church staff shared with them the meaning of each bead.  I beamed; we were sharing the story of God with the next generation.

This is what really got me with this group: I was helping shape the next generation. Not only was I helping them try to get their lives back on track, I was helping them to shape the future of our world. God has tasked me with something way bigger than myself and with something way bigger than each child I work with. I am blessed to be changing the world, hoping to leave it better than how I found it.

Bridges of Faith is a miracle for these children and a miracle for me. Each group changes me in ways I never expected. I just hope that I have helped them see they are loved.

Salvation Bracelet Meaning

Black

Represents the belief that everyone sins and that sin makes it impossible to have a relationship with God.

RedIMG_3639

Symbolizes the blood of Jesus and the belief that faith in Jesus and his sacrificial death are necessary for the forgiveness of sins.

White

Stands for purity and the Christian teaching that once you put your faith in Jesus, your sins are forgiven and you are made pure. 1 John 3:5 is the verse used alongside this bead, and it says, “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.”

Blue

Represents water baptism, which is a way of outwardly expressing the inward change that has happened.

Green

Teaches the need for continued growth in the faith.

Gold or Yellow

This bead represents the streets of heaven lined with gold. Believers look to the day where Jesus will return to earth to take his followers to heaven with him.

IMG_2887If you would like to find out more about Bridges of Faith please visits: http://www.bridgesoffaith.com/

And if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to BOF in my name to continue my domestic ministry work , please contact audrey@bridgesoffaith.com, donate on-line (mention my name) or send checks to 302 County Road 383, Billingsley, AL 36006. Thank you for your support!

 

 

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I Became All Things To All People- Renee

​Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:19‭-‬23 NIV
http://bible.com/111/1co.9.19-23.NIV

The past few days have been hard on every imaginable level. I’ve been two weeks without my son (who has been having a blast with his dad). There have been nonstop debates on my FB timeline about police shootings, racism, allies, people calling others liars, babies….I’ve seen live video of two men losing their lives. right.on.camera.

Now, I wakeup to riots and protests….at first I was anxious, upset, troubled. Not saying that those feelings have completely subsided, but I have a different perspective. 

The problem is, I’ve grown up in America, where for the most part many of these issues (although just right below the surface) are hidden pretty well. Not always, but usually things are done or said in a more covert way. Not saying that is right, but it does help you to sometimes forget how fallen our world truly is. I know this is not the case for many of my brothers and sisters around the world who endure wars, famine disease and other ails more regularly. 

The events over the last two days have been a powder keg explosion  of everything in our Nation’s soul. The Bible says out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, this means everything we are seeing, experiencing and battling first came and dwelled in someone’s heart. It was always there. Always. 

But this is nothing new. Ethnic cleansing,  slavery, discrimination, hate…it’s nothing new, that cancer has always been on earth. The problem is we rarely identify with any of those things, because “oh that happens to those people over there.  But we are those people. We are called to be like those who hurt, who are hungry, who are enslaved, because when you do that, you restore humanity. You are able to now identify with that individual on a personal level. That was the ministry of Jesus. He took those people and brought them under His loving care. He didn’t talk specifically to their gender, religious beliefs etc…he first spoke to their human need. Need for love, for food, for physical healing and THEN He worked on the spiritual aspect.

We overspirtualize His process. He met needs, He saw people as people first and He mourned with those who mourned and then took action.

We tend to want to take action immediately or not mourn at all or not do anything because  *shrugs* it’s not my problem..

Not saying that every cause should be directly on your heart (it’s why we are the BODY of Christ, each having areas of focus). But if you are living on this planet and absolutely NOTHING bothers you..You are spirtually dead or on life support. There are hurting people all around, who need Who we know. 

If we are unable to share that during good and bad times..what good is our religion?

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His eye is on the sparrow …..Renee

“I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked” 1 Samuel 1:27

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I’ve been reflecting on parenting a lot lately. My first born son will be spending two weeks with his biological dad this summer. The longest time we have ever consistently not been around each other his entire almost 6 years of life. He is beyond excited and while I am excited for him,my little heart! His father and I have done very well over the past year working on our co-parenting relationship (more dialogue, more updates), but regardless my baby boy being away from me and in another city makes me nervous. This has nothing to do with his father’s parenting abilities or skills…but more so with my own anxiety.

I have been working on some new things (which I hope to share within the next blog or so), but it has helped me come to some realizations… one thing I never saw myself as an anxious person. I classified it as being thorough or worrying, but never labeled it anxiety. As I was doing my studies and started really peeling back some layers. I realized that I have been battling anxiety and anxious feelings my entire life. I mean to those who know and love me that is probably obvious. It is the reason I want to work on most projects alone. It is the reason that my mind drifts to the absolute worst case scenario….I trust no one but myself truly for this reason.

Anxiety.

The killer of my dreams. The thing that can wake me up in the middle of the night. It finally has a name. Had I continued to call it worrying or just “being a realist” I couldn’t properly address this issue in my life.

So, what I learned are two things and it’s all biblical

  1. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  

I am responsible for the thoughts I let linger in my head. I need to make sure that the thoughts are reasonable and of God. So, I read up on a technique called ANT (Automatic Negative Thoughts). With this technique you write out the negative thought or feeling and address it. For example, the thought could be “I am going to be fired”. You write out that sentence and then address the truth in it. 1) I have never received a negative evaluation. 2) things are going well within the company…. Etc. Then talk about the worst thing that can happen (I actually am fired). Once the worst scenario is addressed, then it is up to you to come up with a solution. (I can begin applying for jobs immediately. My friend Karen told me about a part time position opening up). When we actually stop the negative thought and address it, that thought loses power.

 

  1. Gratitude. Psalm 136: 1-3 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast loved endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.

My fellow blogger Gem is HUUUGE on gratitude. She always admonishes the girls to stay positive and write out what we are thankful for. Focusing on the positive also takes away the power of the negative.

 

So, for the last few weeks I have really worked on recognizing the negative and replacing it with God’s truth. Facts do differ from God’s truth. What I mean is, it might be a fact that you have no money in the bank but God’s truth says He has a cattle on a thousand hills and will supply all of your needs. You should never ignore the current circumstances, but should filter that through God’s Word first. If I were to filter most thoughts I would realize that most aren’t realistic and even those that are realistic I can and have overcome worse in my past.

Truth of the matter is, I don’t have control over anything. We’ve seen shootings in churches, car crashes, and random viruses. The world is full of uncertainty. It can be overwhelming to think of all the coulds, woulds, and shoulds. This is where faith is vitally important, we must go as God directs. There are certain tasks that God gives us, it might not make sense now, but hopefully it will. When I lost Baby Smith, it literally felt like my world was falling apart. I had no idea why this happened to me and my family. But as time has gone on, I have been able to encourage other women who have struggled with fertility. Until I went through it, I couldn’t speak to them.

I’ve got to trust God with my babies. Trust that whether they are physically in my care or not that they are never out of God’s hand..no matter where they are.

His eye is on the sparrow …..

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Praying Hands–**Dani Gee**

pin1

Heyyyyy!!!

I read two devotionals this week and both were related to prayer. I have honestly been scared to pray for about the last 6 months or so. I would do the prayer when leaving out for the day, to not hit anybody or let anyone hit me but I hadn’t sat still and talked to Daddy. I hadn’t had one of those soul searching, soul fulfilling talks that I can have with any of my best friends. I have been afraid that I’ve somehow let him down. I feel that he’s ashamed of me. I’m not sure how to shake these feelings but I knew that I had to do something.

Cue in, the 2 daily devotions that I read. Both were from a plan located in The Bible App https://www.bible.com/app . Max Lucado has a plan called “The Power of a Simple Prayer.” The first devotional Bible Content was based off of the verse Matthew 6:6.

But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

This verse stuck out to me. I recently went to an event and some of the older women of the church  prayed  and they sounded so eloquent and knew all the right words to say. While my prayer be like, “Well, God…ummm..you know my heart.” However, reading that verse made me feel at ease that the only requirement for prayers is to speak from the heart. I’m going to imagine myself having a conversation with God like I have with Renee, but with less shade and smacks.

The second devotional I read that day was Joyce Meyers Daily devotionals (coincidentally I started it in 2015 and didn’t quite finish it). It basically said that the same thing so I feel that I was on the right track. I was in my office alone, so I decided to pray, just talk to God, tell him about things that I was happy about, things that was making me anxious and things that I know that I need to be more patient on and depending more on him than my own thinking. I felt so much better after doing so. I plan on being more honest with my feelings to God and trust him with my whole heart.

I decided to ask my friends what I could pray for them for. I want to become more consistent with praying for them and myself. I believe in the power of prayer and positive thinking. I just have to put action behind it.

How Can I pray for you today?

Until Next Time,

Dani Gee

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Quiet Like A… DaniGee

It’s been a minute and I’m sorry. I would say I would do better but I am not sure. This blog idea came to me while I was driving home from shopping. I am so happy that I still have the energy to write it.  There are older individuals, older as in 45+ and they seem to only see social media as a negative atmosphere. I tend to disagree. My social media environment is what I make of it. It is my way of keeping up with my closest friends who are hundreds of miles away. I use it to connect with the general public by providing pieces of my personal life, in hopes that it helps them out in a positive manner. I use it for purposes that are positively beneficial for me. Now, I am not saying that there are not people who use it for the opposite reasons than mine. You’ve seen them.  They either perpetrate or feel the need to just keep it real, which in my opinion is just a way to justify being messy and judgmental. They are the ones who are always going on a deleting spree. Why it has to be announced, I’ll never know.

silence

I say all that to say this. I am learning to talk less, and do more action steps to create my own success. I have realized about myself that I have great ideas but I let my fear stop me. I throw out ideas to people and if they don’t give me the resounding vote of confidence, I start to doubt my ideas and the validity to it. I start letting fear and doubt creep in and it puts a halt to me doing anything. This week, with the help of my best friend, I have started back on the train again of creating my own success and stop waiting for the perfect moment. Instead of sharing what I am doing, I will do what I have always needed to do it  which is to pray about it. I need to be asking for guidance and strength from my heavenly father. The last couple of months, I have gotten the same message from different people, pretty much saying that if you and God’s ideas are aligned, then it won’t fail. I have to get myself back aligned to the person who really counts. I also go with the thought in my head that trying anything new may never be easy and it may not even be successful, but there can never be failure if you are continually learning about yourself.

 

Until Next Time,

 

Hopefully sooner than later,

 

Still PUSHing,

 

DaniGee

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Co-Parenting Survival Guide 101-Renee

This by far is not a statement to anyone that I have always done everything right or that I have not cried, been angry and questioned some things along this journey. BUT I have had people ask me for advice, because I have been very open about being in a double blended family. I say double blended because both my hubby and I had a son before we got married and now…we added our first (and probably only) biological kid to the mix as well.

This means my husband and I have to be co-parents and “step” parent at the same time. This has been a crazy, wonderful, hard, amazing and just transforming time for us. So…here’s just a few of my tips to surviving the “blend”.

  1. Validate your feelings while not dismissing the other parent’s feelings.feelings

Parenting is hard. Period. Even without having to juggle schedules and other partners and other kids…it can be complicated. When you’re in a blended family things can get hectic fast. I’ve been there before where you can see the other person’s point of view, but totally disagree. I had an incident last summer with my bonus son and his mom that really had me torn. I always want to be respectful of another person’s feelings, but at the same time that can have you feeling left out or hurt too. Being a stepparent is really hard at times. You are asked to love a child with no bounds, but are also expected to be more of a support system and not an active participant all the time. When a child has two biological parents that are healthy and good for the child you really have to let the parents work out some things. I always defer to my husband when it comes to major decisions for his biological son. Not saying I have no say, but that ultimately I can give my advice or point of view but have to let the biological parents really figure that out. LaDarren does the same thing for me when it comes to my biological son. He always gives his input, but ultimately allows (and supports) the decisions that I make.

 

  1. OVER communicatetalk

When there are so many different people in play things can get confusing fast. “I thought you were coming at 4?”, “Oh did you not get the last text that said 5:30?” Those statements could cause an argument or small inconveniences. To avoid that, always make sure that you get a response from the other parent; make sure that your message actually sent. If not response try again within an hour or so. Make sure you all are on the same page before, during and after visitation schedules are confirmed.

 

  1. Take a step (or two) back from the situation.care

Things will not always go like you planned. Someone may say or do something that you might find disrespectful, annoying or mean. Step back. Do your best to control the only thing you can in this situation and that is yourself.

 

  1. NEVER EVER talk bad about the other parent in front of or around the children.fighting

As I said in step 3, while stepping back be sure to not let your emotions cause you to say or do something that you might regret later. Venting is healthy and needed but try to do 3 things.

  1. Ensure that the children are not around when you are having your venting session. This goes for all the children involved, not just the children of the co-parent.
  2. Figure out how to keep the peace, if something happened that really upset you maybe it’s best to let your spouse pick up the child or you simply pick up the child and not say anything to the other parent at that point. I know how tempting it can be to want to just say this one little thing, but in the end it’s rarely worth it.
  3. Reevaluate things. In the grand scheme of things- is this issue I am upset about annoying or is this a really big deal? Sometimes when emotions are high we can blow situations out of proportion or place unintended meanings to words.

 

  1. Compromisecompromise

If the other parent wants to bring the child home an hour later or earlier try to work with them. I know that time with children is precious for both parties and sometimes things happen; that’s life. Try to be flexible (if it is within reason). This is why OVER communication is important. If you said you’d be done in twenty minutes and it’s looking like that will not happen call the other parent. Or if you need the child home earlier communicate that as well; if the other parent can’t (or isn’t willing) to accommodate see if you can work out this situation amongst yourselves. If not…..

 

  1. Find a mediator

I am not an advocate for always going to the court first, but if you can’t work it out amongst yourself it is best to bring another party in. This can (hopefully) be worked out in a healthy way with just the co-parents. If not I am a big believer in letting the courts sort things out. Sometimes you just can’t see eye-to-eye with the other parent; it happens and that’s ok too. I don’t recommend running to court every time the other parent is late on a payment or late picking up a child (or bringing them back). If the negative behavior is consistent and they do not seem to want to work with you use all the legal options available to you. At the end of the day, the child is the most important piece to this puzzle and when the parents can’t respectfully disagree or come to a terms on their own it negatively affects the child.  I know for some this is a very controversial stance, but again these are tips that have worked for me.

 

  1. Celebrate victories with your spouseus

And last but not least, take time out for you and your spouse. Never forget that you are in a partnership. Work hard to protect your marriage- appreciate your partner. I thank LaDarren all the time for who he is in my life and for all of our boys. Our lives can be messy, but I wouldn’t want to sort through this without him. He is my backbone, my strength and many times my in-home counselor.

 

Hope this helps, if you have some additional tips for surviving the blend, let me know!

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Kirill~Audrey

This is the first of a set of three stories about specific children that touched my heart during my mission trip.

 

On our first full day at the orphanage, I sat down at the craft table with the children. I sat next to a cute little boy who was so excited to show me his art work. They were using IMG_9499punch outs to create a cute little basket of flowers. As he glued his flowers to his sheet, he would peak at me and see if I was watching. Then he proudly displayed to me his finished art. I was lovely and I told him so.

I didn’t think much of the exchange. I went about the rest of my day. I went out side with
the kids and enjoyed being with them. He and several other children wanted to hold my hand as we walked to a nearby playground. Once again, I didn’t think much of it; there were new people and all the kids want to be around them. We were a novelty, and I didn’t think much about interacting with certain children or forming a particular bond (except one kid; but that’s another story). But that day meant a lot to Kirill.

That afternoon, after nap time, when I walked into the room, he came flying into my arms. This happened every time I came in. He would sit with me often and join groups I was playing in. I was so surprised by him. I hadn’t done anything special: I hadn’t made an inside joke with him and I hadn’t gone out of my way to do anything special for him.

But I think that is the point. Children just want someone in their life who is attentive and will give love. I didn’t do anything other than be part of his life and give him positive encouragement. This something the orphans don’t get. And they aren’t the only ones. This small story is just a big reminder that everything we do affects those around us. We have to remember to be good to one another; one small gesture can change someone’s life or change their perspective.

In the case of Kirill, he just needed someone to sit beside him and encourage him. I am so blessed to be have been one of the team members on this mission trip and to be able to do this for him.  Not only did he need it, but I did too.

If you would like to find out more about Bridges of Faith please visits: http://www.bridgesoffaith.com/

And if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to BOF in my name to continue my domestic ministry work , please contact audrey@bridgesoffaith.com, donate on-line (mention my name) or send checks to 302 County Road 383, Billingsley, AL 36006. Thank you for your support!

 

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