Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Let's Give Some Love to our Police Officers




On the darkest day of my life, August 7, 1987, our daughter was lifted out of her crib by angels and taken to the arms of Jesus. Amidst firetrucks and police cruisers, one policeman took the time to kneel on the pavement, and pray with RB and me. I don't remember the words, but remember the comfort they brought.

Several times in the next few months this kind policeman would leave pictures (pencil drawings) for Melanie and notes for RB and me on our car windshield. It was "beyond expectation" behavior, and oh-so-appreciated by the three of us.  

"Beyond expectation" behavior like Don's is repeated over and over throughout the United States. Why do we let the media and anti-cop groups take that truth from us?

Not only do our police officers sacrifice each day, sometimes with their very lives, but their spouses, mothers, and children sacrifice each day their loved one leaves the house, shiny badge pinned, and their gun strapped to their side. They know this police officer they love will be in danger. They sigh with relief when they walk back through the door -- safe at home. And if they don't have that opportunity, they grieve the loss of love and life.

But what's more tragic is the treatment the police officers bear. I say it's time for us to take action. It's time we stood up for the men and women in blue. With every negative we hear, let's proclaim a positive. Let's write letters to our newspaper, praising their efforts. Let's give to the Fallen Trooper's fund. Let's write notes and leave them on their windshields. When we see a police officer dining, pay for their meal. And when we meet a police officer's child, let's shake their hand and thank them for the sacrifice they make so their dad or mom can keep your children safe. 




Our Shelter: Postmarked Group is committed to mailing some encouragement to those police officers we know. And we will be using our address lists to pray safety over our men and women in blue. 

Will you join us? I will be happy to share our list with those of you I know personally and will keep the addresses private. Freely giving them to people I don't know is a risk I don't want to take for these civil servants. I'll be adding a small note to those who have spouses -- they sacrifice, too.  

I want to remember our men and women in blue, because someday I may need a hero -- and you may, too.


I suggest contacting your local police department before preparing a gift. There may be regulations such as pre-wrapped, etc. 

Police Love Mason Jar  Tutorial

Printable Toppers for "Lifesavor" Policemen

M & M Treats for the Men in Blue

Nacho Ordinary Police Officer

Kid's Thank You

Policeman's Jar of Doughnuts





Sunday, July 10, 2016

Shelter Yourself: Practicing Self-care



Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. 

                                                                                Parker Palmer


                                                                                   






















































Self-care – what we all need, but often it’s the last on our list to be accomplished; the one item not crossed off at the end of the day. We sang as a child, “Jesus and Others and You. What a wonderful way to spell JOY.” We belted out that last sentence, “Put yourself last and spell joy.” The children’s song was meant to explain the importance of putting God first in our lives, and the unselfishness of putting others before ourselves. However, with that imprinted on our hearts, we often forget the spirit of the song and make it the law of our lives. 

My sister-in-law, Marsha, is the greatest nurturer of all time. She taught me the delight of preparing my environment. It’s my favorite self-care practice. Plumped throw pillows, a neatly folded soft throw, a cleared space, a goblet of tea, and a lit candle – and my body and soul begin to relax. Add a Bible, journal or book and the quiet evening is perfect. (Chocolate gives bonus points!)

The disciple John knew the importance of self-care. He affirmed our need to be well in body and soul when he wrote, Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul (3 John 1:2).

Here are five places to prepare your environment:

1. Prepare your environment at your reading chair:
Do you have an over-stuffed chair where you can curl up and read? Move a table close so your drink is near. Light a candle or diffuse lavender oil. Add a favorite framed photograph to the table.

2. Prepare your environment under the sun: Sunshine's Vitamin D is important to our body. Float frozen berries in your water, and go outside to God’s environment. He’s already prepared it. Watch the birds and squirrels. Enjoy the flowers and green grass. Turn your face to the sun and talk to the Father through the SON, Jesus.

3. Prepare your environment in your bedroom: Fill a vase with a bouquet of fresh flowers for your nightstand. Prop up on pillows, and cover yourself with a comforter. Line up your colored pencils or markers, and color or draw Scripture art. Write in your gratitude journal. Lean your head back and take a nap.

4. Prepare your environment in your War Room: Where do you talk to God? Sometimes when our body and soul need care, we can find both at the feet of Jesus. Add your prayer journal and a box of tissues. Sing along with worship music. 

5. Prepare your environment at a home away from home: Pack a bag, remembering your goblet, candle, and photograph of someone you love. Don’t forget your journals, books, and magazines. Book a room at a motel, or a local convent or monastery. These are quiet places – where you can unplug. 


Subscription Boxes are gaining popularity. Here are a few especially for self-care. Purchase them for yourself, or for a gift.


Self-care monthly subscription boxes:
1. Buddy Box: (UK) All the items included in the box are intended to make you feel good: helping you de-stress, find calm, feel pampered, relax, get creative, or simply have fun.
2. trösta box: trösta box is a monthly subscription box that helps you love and care for yourself better.
    3. The Bloom Beautifully Box: Each self-care box contains 4-5 self-care essentials that nurture the mind, body and soul. We've carried art journals, luxurious bath bombs, herbal tea, sleep masks, and much more in our boxes.
    4. Better Box: A monthly subscription service that delivers self-improvement experiences designed to help people live happier, healthier lives.




Missional Women

Friday, July 1, 2016

Closed!






Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sheltering the Elderly (And include your children)



We are busy with our families, raising our children, pursuing our hobbies, climbing the corporate ladder. How often do we stop in the middle of living life, and give honor and respect to the elderly.

1. Send Mail
A large percentage of our Shelter: Postmarked mail goes to the elderly -- often to retired pastors and pastor's wives who feel like they are not doing (or did) anything for God. 

2. Take Time to Visit
Schedule a thirty-minute visit into your week. Wrap a ribbon around a cookie, or flowers from your garden. Watch their eyes light up when you present your gift. Ask questions about when they were young, and really listen. 

3. Take them For a Ride
One elderly lady I knew loved Wendy's Frosties. Her pastor's wife would pick her up, and take her to get a Frosty. It wasn't a big trip, but gave her a breath of fresh air and new surroundings. Drive them past some gardens or, in the winter, tour the neighborhood to view the Christmas lights. 

4. Fill a Bird Feeder
Winters can be hard when the elderly can't get out of the house. Place a bird feeder outside the window where they sit. (Check out the kind that suction cups to the window.) Stop by each week to make sure the feeder is full.

5. Share a Meal
Cook extra when you prepare a meal. Home cooked meals taste good to seniors, even if they are receiving Meals on Wheels or other subscription meals. Don't watch them eat; take a meal for yourself. If they are in a care facility, find out if you can join them for lunch or dinner. Someone recently paid for my daddy's meal at a restaurant. He didn't see anyone he knew, but it was a kindness that cheered him. 




Senior Service Activities for Children

Memory Verse to Teach: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:40).

1. Plant flowers:  Attending to their loved one's grave will give give joy. Let your child do as much as possible. If the senior can't go with you, take pictures so they can see what was accomplished.

2. Decorate for holidays: Decorate their door or a small stand at the care facility or home. This is good for teenagers to plan and execute.

3. Play a game: Take and play a Dominoes or Checkers game. Helping put a 32-large-piece puzzle together is another great activity.

4. Read a book: Seniors who were book lovers often cannot see to read. Have your child take a beautiful picture book to read to them. Suggestions: Small Gifts in God's Hands by Max Lucado, A Little Prairie House by Laura Ingles Wilder 

5. Color together: Take a new box of crayons. With the vast variety of adult coloring books, it's easy to find one a senior will enjoy. 

6. Share a pet: A senior can receive joy and peace by petting an animal. Listen to their stories about their own pets.




Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Father's Day Tale



My Daddy:

I met my daddy on September 16th, too many years ago. I didn't know how special he was, although it didn't take long before I made him my own favorite hero. They say the best thing a daddy can do for his children is to love their mother. Anyone who knows him, knows he passed that one with flying colors. He has a giving heart, and he cares deeply when someone is hurting. His integrity is beyond reproach. He not only loves his children and grandchildren, but their spouses, too. He loves it when all of us are together. His great-grandchildren delight him.


My Children's Daddy:

Everyone said I'd never find a husband, because I would never love anyone as much as I loved my daddy. Well, they were wrong! Although it really did take a special man. He was the best choice for me to love, but also the best choice for a daddy, too. He was patient and loving -- so proud of his girls. He loved the girls when they were young -- even when people thought he was Emily's grandfather. But he is still interested and involved in their lives.



My Grandchildren's Daddies:

Then another man joined our family. The one that Melanie says reminds her of Granddad. Shawn is an amazing father to his four children. He puts his family first. He's teaching them the importance of hard work, love for God's Word, and the joy of giving back. 



Most men have time to get used to the fact they will become a father. The last man in our family became a father overnight when, along with Emily, they decided to take an 8-year-old into their home four days a week -- four days that quickly turned into full time. Jonathon is determined to pour as much love and God as he can in the time they have Emma. She's learning things that will last a lifetime.

These are the four men in our family. I'm blessed. Billy Graham said, "A father is one of the most unpraised, unsung, unnoticed, and yet the most valuable asset of our society." Today I'm noticing the fathers in my life. And thanking God for all four of them. 








Saturday, June 11, 2016

Encourage Mothers of a Child with Autism


Our most difficult task as a friend is to offer understanding when we don't understand. Robert Brault





At a recent recital, a boy with autism sat in front of us. He would reach back and pat my leg, then the leg of my husband. His mother would ask him to turn around and he would – then it would be too much for him and he’d reach back again. It wasn’t bothering us, but I’m sure his mother was worried it would. I’ve been thinking of it since then and wonder what we are doing to encourage these mothers who never get a moment to relax.

1 in 88 children are born with autism. We often overlook the mothers of children who have autism. Every child diagnosed with autism is affected differently. But their mothers are all the same – working hard to be their advocate and to help their child live the best life they can. Too often our words can make them feel like an unfit mother – as though the diagnosis is somehow caused by inferior mothering. 



Here are some ways you can encourage these mothers:

1. “Love me, love my child” isn’t just a saying.


Loving a child with autism encourages their mother. Most children with autism have something they obsess over. In “The Eagle Tree” by Ned Hayes, March loved trees – most of all, climbing them. A book about trees, leaves, or a tree wall art would make mother and child smile. Take time to interact with the child over his obsession.

2. Celebrate their child


A few weeks ago a sweet girl was celebrating her 18th birthday party. Unable to deal with a traditional party, her mother planned a mail celebration to cater to her love of mail. Her suggestion for gifts was a $5.00 McDonald’s gift card or $5.00 so she could shop at Dollar Tree, where knows exactly what she wants to purchase every time. Michelle (Mom) was overjoyed when 84 cards showed up. She gathered them as they came in and put them all in the mailbox on her birthday. The joy on this sweet girl’s face when she saw that much mail was priceless.

3. See the positives
Love these little ones for who they are, instead of judging them for who they aren’t. Some people see the child’s arm flapping and never stop to understand his action is an expression of his joy. They see the fidgeting and fail to see their beautiful smile. They see the intense obsession, yet don’t stop to listen to the statistics they have committed to memory. Stop seeing the negatives and rejoice in the uniqueness of the child. Verbalize by saying, “He’s so good at…”

4. Educate your children and plan dates

By educating your children about autism, you are giving them the chance to understand, and in understanding, know how to approach with an offer of friendship. When your children understand why a child with autism flaps, fidgets or is obsessed with one subject, they can become inclusive. Invite them over for play dates, have the family over for supper, plan outings with them. A grocery story is a nightmare for children with autism. Ask your friend to leave their child with you while they grocery shop. Divorce rates in families with autism is 80%. Give the parents a date night. Once you and your children understand the variables, offer child care for a few hours or overnight. You may lose one night of sleep, but your friend can sleep through the night.

5. Bring caffeine and chocolate

Some days are harder than others. Their child may be up roaming in the night. Show up at their door with a coffee shop drink. Find out their child’s favorite snack. Don’t forget the siblings. Parents, by necessity, need to give more attention to their child with autism. Make sure you make their siblings feel special, too. 


Does God equip these mothers-of-children-with-autism? Definitely. But, you may be the one He wants to use to encourage them. They need someone who accepts and encourages, someone who shows up at the door with their favorite drink. Someone who is willing to clean the bathroom or sit on the couch and listen. Perhaps they need you to worship with them, read Scripture, and sing songs of praise, just to help them rest in the arms of Jesus a while. They also need someone who will chatter about the important to them, make them laugh, and discuss new fashion trends. Sometimes they just need distracted.

A child with autism is so much more than their diagnosis. They can be silly, curious, caring, focused, intelligent, strong, loving, and, like your child, very different from each other. Get to know them, and you will be sheltering a child. Love them, and you will be sheltering your friend. Try it, and you’ll find out who receives the biggest blessing of all.

Linked to:  
 
Coffee Shop ConversationsFaith 'n Friends

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Sheltering Child Victims of Pornography






400 counts. 400! That's how many the mother of a sweet four-year-old was guilty of -- how many pictures she sent of her own little girl. She is going away for a long, long, time. But while that keeps this woman from hurting her daughter further, this little girl will have memories that will haunt her throughout her life. 

The Demand Project reports that child pornography is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. According to the FBI, there have been a 2500% increase in arrests in the past 10 years. 

There are many equally disturbing statistics available, but I want to give you ways to help.

1. Report it: If you find child pornography on a computer or other electronic device, call the police. Confronting the individual will only cause them to threaten you and get rid of the evidence. Let the authorities handle it. CyberTipline

2.  Donate to the Innocent Justice Foundation: Nearly 625,000 child pornography traders have been identified nationwide; however, only 61 Internet Crimes Against Children task forces have been allocated minimal funding to take them off the streets. That means that there are close to 11,000 offenders per team. Most ICAC teams can arrest 50-100 perpetrators per year. Arresting all of these child molesters they currently have located would take them 100-200 years. We need your help to get them the tools they need to do their jobs and the local, state and federal funding to make our neighborhoods safe again for our children. (innocentjustice.org)

3. Shelter the Victims and Families: As in the above 4-year-old's case, the children are often removed from their home. It's a bewildering time for them. Stuffed animals, comfy jammies, a craft kit to keep their mind occupied, a soft blanket or throw -- all these things are comforting to young children. One of Shelter: Postmarked members makes special pillowcases to send to children. 



My goal in writing this post is not to sensationalize this sinful crime. It's bringing awareness, and offering a few ways we can shelter these innocent children. Sheltering isn't always fun. When we shelter, we are called to bear burdens, enter the pain and nightmares of voiceless victims. Ask our Heavenly Father to help you answer the call of "Who will go?"
 


What Joy Is Mine







 
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