As a mother and grandmother, I am always on the lookout for a good devotional for mothers. I found just that in, Praying for Girls, Asking God for the Things They Need Most, by Teri Lynne Underwood. She offers a devotional and prayers for a daughter’s identity, heart, mind, relationships, and her purpose. She then speaks a little wisdom to mom for herself and how to speak to her daughter whether she’s a little girl, middle girl, and older girl. She finishes it off with two special sections just for Mom, something many devotionals don’t consider. I’ll be gifting this book to my own daughter and her little girl.
Parents as Educators – First published in the Church of God Evangel Magazine August 2006
There has been much controversy regarding the type and quality of education our children receive. The public schools complain that the parents take no interest in their children’s education and blame low grades, truancy, and delinquency on that belief. The parents, in turn, blame the schools, citing lack of discipline, lack of dedicated teachers, and poor teaching methods as the reason for low grades, truancy, delinquency, and adult illiteracy.
Some parents have chosen either to homeschool or to enroll their children in private schools as their solutions. Most parents, due to finances, job demands or larger families, have had no choice but to keep their children in public schools. The parents demand a better education for their children. The schools cry out for more money, even though many question the allocation of current funding. This has become a vicious cycle with parents and schools on opposing sides, and the children are stuck in the middle, without voice or empowerment regarding their own education.
I am a single parent of two grown children and have dealt directly with public schools and private schools on these issues. I decided upon a different course of action with each of my children when the situation became intolerable in our public school system. This was done after much prayer and research based on their individual personalities, gifts, talents, and future plans.
I pulled my son out of public school in his junior year due to an assault and battery in the classroom between classes. I homeschooled him for the remainder of the school year, and he earned his GED at age 17. He went to work full-time and soon found a job with a small computer manufacturer, where he learned how to build computers. He later moved to a larger computer company, where he studied and became a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) at age 21.
The counselors at our public school had wanted to push him toward a college-prep program, but I knew my son has always been a hands-on learner with no desire to attend a four-year college. What this large, inner city school was not able to do was give students individual attention for their specific learning styles and talents or to consider their future goals and plans.
When my daughter was in middle school and planning for high school, this same school district took a very different approach. She was put into the traditional, general program, even though her grades were high, her work was always done early, and she had declared her major and college choice at ten years old. When she asked for more challenging work, they told her to “read a book.” My daughter actually lost interest in reading because of this forced, dry, continual excuse for not challenging her academically.
When I tried to withdraw her on open enrollment, the school refused to release her, based on some measurement of racial balance. Since I knew the violence there was not a temporary problem but a long-term one, I decided to homeschool her for one year and then I enrolled her in a Christian high school in a neighboring city. This school is a long-established, college prep, fine arts school that made it possible for my daughter to attend with the help of financial aid. My daughter went on to earn her education at her college of choice and is now a music teacher at a music studio.
She would never have been properly prepared for this by our local public school because they had pigeonholed her in the wrong category in middle school. Throughout this decision-making process, I researched at great lengths the pros and cons of home education and private schools versus public schools, based on the options available to me. I believe I made the best, most informed decision for my family.
For those who are still facing these decisions, there are many things to consider. Some strong proponents of public school argue that only public schools offer the best opportunities for extracurricular activities. I found that this Christian school offered the same extracurricular opportunities. Also, some homeschool groups join together to offer their children these same opportunities.
Some say public schools do offer their high academic standards, and I agree. I have found, both in my personal experience and in my research that academic standards vary with each individual school, whether it’s public, private, or homeschool. I also found that fine arts opportunities are rare in anything but a private school.
Finally, some argue that parents who choose private schools or home education are overprotecting their children by sheltering them from unsavory conditions that they likely will eventually have to face in the world. To this argument, I answer an adamant, yes! Our children are precious gifts from God. He has given us our children as a heritage and a reward (Psalm 127:3-5). They come to us as tender, innocent lambs, and it is the parents’ responsibility to protect them and shield them from as much danger and evil as possible. Parents are their children’s first and most lasting teachers (Proverbs 1:8, 9).
God has commanded us as parents to train, teach, and protect our children (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:1-9). In all things, we are to demonstrate our love for them. This is a mirror of God’s love for us. God created each human being in His image, and our children are the most precious fruit of the Kingdom. They are the only things of this life that we can take to Heaven with us. We must pass down a Godly heritage to them if they are to continue to carry God’s Word to the world and enjoy His blessings. We must teach them that no matter what wind of doctrine is presented, the final authority is God, and this authority is found in God’s Word.
Each family must choose the best education for their individual children based on their needs and their situation. This must be done prayerfully. Some families may find they are blessed with good, quality, public schools with many opportunities. Others may be stuck in an inner-city school with no other options. Still others may be able to utilize home-schooling or private schools.
Whatever decision is made, we must actively teach basic Biblical foundation at home. God never intended the church or school to be parents. We need to instill in our children their rightful identity and heritage. They are created by God, in His image. We and our children are not simply higher forms of animals that are bound by uncontrollable physical desires. Neither are we our own gods or creators, able to improve ourselves by our own power or override God’s laws.
Let us pray constantly for our children’s protection and for God’s wisdom and guidance for the wondrous task of training them to reflect the image of Christ in their lives. Then, when our children are properly equipped, they will be able to go out into the world and carry out the Great Commission, which was given to us by Christ just before His ascension into Heaven.
Ever since God healed and delivered me many years ago I have made a point to tell my story, to give my personal testimony. Despite the fact that it occurred many years ago, my story is ongoing. My life is nothing today like it would have been had I remained broken and under the control of my abuser.
But God! Although I was saved at 13, at 19 I was completely untrained in how to choose a husband, completely naïve in male/female interactions, and totally inexperienced in using my gift of discernment. Add to that abusers are known to be charming beyond belief during the dating phase and only gradually build their control, manipulation, and abuse over time. I was married for several months before I saw any inkling of his manipulation, control or abuse. Being a Christian I was not one to simply give up and run home to mommy, not that I’d have been received by mommy.
After spending 14 years doing everything humanly and Biblically possible to save my marriage, I was finally forced to divorce my husband for the safety of me and my children. I spent the next 4 years suffering from PTSD even though it was diagnosed as such back then. In interviewing counselors for my ministry and my book I’ve been assured that the symptoms I experienced were indeed PTSD. I was a mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual basket case. And, then God reached down and healed and delivered me.
For those of you who still want to show me pity, take a fresh look at me. I’m no longer broken. God has recreated me and given me a new life filled with his presence, one of joy, peace, and freedom of fear.
For those of you who only want to hear the happy ending, I have some questions for you.
How can you appreciate the Victory over Japan without knowing about Pearl Harbor?
How can you appreciate the Victory in Europe without knowing about D-Day, Normandy, or the Jewish Holocaust?
How can you appreciate the Resurrection of Christ without knowing about the Crucifixion?
And how can you possibly appreciate the work God did in my life until you know something of the hell I lived?
So, I will continue to share my story, as God leads me, to those who will listen. And, after I share my history I will tell them the miracle of healing and deliverance God did in my life and the joy, peace, and freedom from fear I now experience with God.
My first book, Home Should Be Safe: Hope and Help for Domestic Violence Victims was informational and instructional. It described and defined the various forms of domestic violence, gave historic examples of abuse as well as a biblical foundation for God’s disapproval of it. The book also teaches what type of help victims need to get free and get safe compared with what help is available. It also tells readers how Christians can make a difference in helping victims.
My new book, Journey to Wholeness, expands the discussion of finding wholeness. It doesn’t matter if you are broken due to abuse, or if you are broken because of some other life experience. God doesn’t intend us to go through life hurting. God is Jehovah Rapha, our healer. The Bible tells us many stories of Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead when he was on earth and he is still our healer. Scripture tells us that “by his stripes we were healed.” I Peter 2:24.
As I work on this new book I’ll be posting entries here on my blog and other social media about our journey to wholeness. It is God’s will that we all be whole in Him, not eternally broken. If you are broken, regardless of the cause or source, please post your questions, responses and prayer requests. If you have found wholeness, please post your testimony here to encourage others.
I look forward to interacting with you about God’s healing as I write my new book. I pray it will be a blessing to many.
I am a Christian. Because I am a Christian I seek to honor and glorify God in all that I do, whether it is volunteer work or a paying job, and whether it is my regular day job or my freelance work. God gifted me with my writing talent. For that reason, my mission with my writing is to use what I speak and what I write to point people to Christ. I will do that first, by being the best writer I can be and constantly striving to improve my craft. Talent is what God gave me; craft is how I use it.
I do two types of writing. The first is writing for hire, meaning I write articles and speeches assigned to me by clients. As a freelancer, I have the freedom to accept or decline these jobs. For these, I stay on task and write what my clients’ request, but I also am careful to only accept jobs that do not contradict God’s word or my conscience. I make this choice on a case by case basis.
The second type of writing I do is creative writing of my choosing, mostly non-fiction and soon some fiction. This writing is done on subjects of my choosing, from a point of view of my choosing, and submitted to publishers I have researched carefully before submission. My goal is to build up this type of writing so that it eventually it becomes the greater portion. But, as a freelance writer, I know I have to balance my work so that I can earn a living. This is obviously a work in progress of its own.
Everyone has a conscience and that conscience must come from a foundation of belief. My foundation, as a Christian, is the Word of God. I am a member of The Summit Church in Springfield, OH, which is part of the Church of God International, headquartered in Cleveland, TN.
Here is my declaration of faith:
- I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
- I believe in a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
- I believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.
- I believe Jesus came to ministry at age 30, was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead at age 33. (Wow! Look what one man accomplished in only three years)
- I believe that Jesus ascended to Heaven and sits at the right hand of God as our Intercessor. (That means when the devil tries to tell God about our sins, if we have repented and accepted him as our savior, Jesus says, “Their sins are under my blood and forgiven.”)
- I believe that according to the Word of God, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That means each and every one of us needs to repent and ask God’s forgiveness.
- I believe that according to the Word of God, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That means each and every one of us needs to repent and ask God’s forgiveness of our sins.
- I believe that we are justified and sanctified, and we become born again by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, through the Word of God and the power of the Holy Ghost.
- I believe that we are to strive to live a Holy life as directed in the Word of God.
- I believe in the Baptism by the Holy Ghost, subsequent to a clean heart, and in speaking with other tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance, which is the initial evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
- I believe that all who repent should receive water baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
- I believe in Divine healing, provided for all of us through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
- I believe in the Lord’s Supper and the washing of Saint’s feet.
- I believe in the Premillennial Second Coming of Jesus Christ. First to the resurrection of the righteous dead and the catching away of the living Saints to meet Jesus in the air. Second for us to reign with Jesus on Earth for a thousand years.
- I believe in bodily resurrection with eternal life for the righteous, and eternal punishment for the wicked.
- I also believe we are in the last days, based upon all the wickedness that is increasing in our world every day.
- God has been my rock, my fortress, my provider and my protector since I was a seven-year-old child. He raised me from childhood to adulthood. He has cared for me, comforted me, and loved me every day through all the good and the bad.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, please seek him out. Read his Word, seek out a good church, ask Christians around you to tell you their testimony. And please feel free to ask me questions. I do my best to live by these principles and I freely tell anyone who will listen about my Savior, my Best Friend, and my Big Brother.
When I was a child there was a commercial on television marketing a new thing in fast food restaurants, the drive through. Like all commercials it had a theme song. That theme song went like this. “Get up, go to work, come home, go to bed; get up, go to work, come home, go to bed………” On and on it went, repeating itself in a sing-song fashion. The idea of the commercial was extol the benefits of starting your day with a fresh, hot breakfast that you could eat in your car while you drove to work. The line in the drive through went around the building and people availed themselves of this new trend day in and day out as they hurried to their jobs in the rat race in the city. That trend has become commonplace in today’s world so that we become impatient if the fast food line doesn’t move fast enough.
Even as a child I remember thinking, “What an awful way to live, doing the same thing, day in, day out, without any change, with your entire focus in life only on your work.”
A few years ago a supervisor where I worked was promoted to manager and as part of her promotion brought each of her employees in to her office to discuss their career plans. When she brought me in she asked me, “Mina, why do you work? Do you work to live or do you live to work?” Then she went on to say, “For myself, I live to work.”
I had to bite my tongue to prevent myself from telling her how sorry I was that she felt that way. Instead I told her that I work to live. I don’t think that’s what she wanted to hear but that was truly how I felt. It’s still how I feel. Regardless of what type of job I work my work is only one part of my life. There is an old childhood rhyme that said, “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.” Simply put, if all we do is work even work that we love then our lives are narrow and limited and dull.
God created us to have full lives. He created us with talents and skills, with needs and desires, and with goals and plans to meet both personal and professional. In my own life I have family I adore, my God to serve, a job that provides and talents I am developing. I cannot imagine any of these parts of my life missing.
A life lived without people you care about is void of love. A life lived without a relationship with your God is void of purpose. A life lived without a means to earn a living is destined to poverty and want. A life lived without developing your own unique talents is destined to drudgery.
Why do I work? I work my job to provide income to live. Life requires a means of financial support for food, clothing and shelter. But, living is more than working a job. Living must include people you love. Love is something that blesses both the one who loves and the one who is loved. Whether it is blood relations or people who have chosen to love one another the human heart requires the sharing of love with others. Without love the human heart will surely die.
Living must include having a relationship with your God. How can you live and not have a relationship with the one who gave you life, gave you strength, gave you every ounce of who and what you are? I can’t imagine life without my creator God, without my Savior Jesus and without my Holy Spirit Comforter to teach me, guide me and comfort me through all of life’s challenges. Without a relationship with God the human spirit will surely die.
Living must include developing your own unique talents, whatever they may be. Each of us is born with certain innate, unique talents, talents that are as natural to us as breathing. Some of us are gifted in the arts; some in building and planning, some in leadership. But, whatever our area of giftedness we must develop that gifting if we are to become everything that God created us to be. Without developing our unique gifts and talents the human character will surely die.
So, my faithful readers, why do you work?
I have sung in the church choir for most of my life since I was seven years old so music has always been an integral part of my identity. Music has many times been the source of healing balm for my spirit as God poured out his spirit upon me in worship. Many years ago I endured a painful divorce and for nearly four years I was a spiritual and emotional basket case. During that time I refused to give up on God, although at one point I was tempted, and I continued to sing in the church choir.
One Sunday our choir sang a song, the gist of which was that God would put the pieces of the puzzle of your life back together. As we were singing my heart poured out to God, asking him, “God, how can you put the pieces of my puzzle back together when all the pieces no longer exist?” God so very gently responded, “My child, don’t you see? I can build you a whole new puzzle.”
Many years have passed. My parents are deceased and my children are grown with their own families. My life has taken twists and turns that I would never have considered. In addition to my two wonderful children I now have a daughter-in-law and son-in-law whom I love and four terrific grandchildren I also love and who I don’t see nearly enough of, but then doesn’t every grandparent think that? For more than twenty years I have remained divorced; I haven’t even been on a date.
I haven’t remained single because I have no desire to remarry. For many years I had my hands full juggling multiple plates and trying like crazy not to drop any for fear of dropping them all. But, regardless of my responsibilities or my choices in life God has continued to recreate the puzzle of my life, “guarding and guiding all the way” as another song says. Some day I do still plan to get married but, the who, when and where will have to fit into God’s puzzle.
What does the puzzle of your like look like?