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Friday, December 28, 2012

I Need a Miracle

Check out this great video about the inspiration to one of Third Day’s newest releases:

This is why I write!!!

No, I don’t imagine someone driving in the woods and pulling out my fiction novel for one last read before they end it all, only to be saved by my words. But I have already been blessed to have heard how something I had on my blog—that I didn’t even write—was used by Him to better someone’s life. Nothing more empowering than knowing you’ve been used as an empty vessel … even though the power was all His, through the writing of someone else.

I don’t know if my work will ever touch even a fraction of the lives Third Day’s has, but none of that matters, because even one life can have far-rippling impact. See the story of the one man who reached one man, whose ministry today spans continents and whose church serves families with special needs like no other.

You, too, can have this impact! So don’t delay. Don’t worry about largeness of ministry or numbers of people, but healing of hearts and filling of souls. Who knows, you may be the subject of a story like this one: “I was really down one day, feeling there was no meaning in the world until this person approached me and …”

You fill in the rest—with your life!!!

The following is a list of posts from the Gomer Testimonies, a series about Third Day fans (aka. Gomers) whose faith was impacted by the music of Third Day. It really happens!

Cathy Payton’s Gomer Testimony

Greg Holt—A Gomer Testimony

Robyn C’s Journey to God

Rachel Rutledge—A Gomer Testimony

Friday, December 21, 2012

Please Don’t Ask About My Child—By Carol Barnier

Last week, Carol Barnier shared her view of the holidays with ADHD in the family. Today, she talks about what it’s like to have a Prodigal …

You run into an old friend at your homeschool support group you haven’t seen in quite some time. You do a bit of catch-up, the chit chat goes on for a while, and then, here it comes—the question you’ve been dreading—“So, how’s that daughter [or son] of yours doing?”

Paste on that smile. Take in a quick breath, but inside, die . . . just a bit.

Of course, you know precisely which child she’s talking about—the one who surprised you all by turning her back on God, then the family, then doing a 180 from all that you value, finally stepping solidly into the world and away from faith. Yeah. That kid.
You are now at a crossroads in this conversation. How will you respond?

Well, you could choose Path A—tell the truth.

My kid is in deep spiritual trouble. Her father and I are heartbroken. It’s been incredibly painful to watch her make so many poor choices. It’s even possible that we will not see the face of our child in heaven. And what’s more, we’re worried it might be our fault. Thanks for asking.

Or, you could try Path B and do that little church-speak dance.

Well. . .she’s finding herself, trying to determine what it is God wants of her at this point in her life. We’re still hoping she’ll become a surgeon on the mission field, but that may be more our wishes than God’s. [Insert quick laugh.] We’ll just have to wait and see. [Now insert a quick redirect.] So how’s your little Bobby doing? Is he still sending all his money to that orphanage in the Sudan? [Raise eyebrows, indicating eager anticipation. Wait for listener to launch into the Bobby-Praise report.]

I completely understand if the truth model makes your palms sweat. Frankly, hesitation is justified. There’s a good chance that if you open your heart and share your pain transparently with this sister in Christ, you may get whacked for it. By that I mean, she may be very quick to let you know that you must have screwed up somehow, or your child would have been faithful to the God of her youth.

You wouldn’t be the first parent bludgeoned with the famous but misused “Train up a child . . .” passage from Proverbs. I know that many people still buy into the oft-believed but yet unscriptural interpretation that your child can’t go wrong if you’ve parented right. And they’re often filled with angst at their sad duty of being the one to share it with you. But think about it. . .this interpretation would require that God has now become your vending machine. Plug in just the right mix of coins, and God is obligated to produce the snack treat of your choice. I actually contacted several theologians to find out why the promise of this verse doesn’t seem to always play out as. . .well, as promised. Every single one of them corrected me in the exact same way. Proverbs was never meant to be read as promises. They are directives for God’s best for our lives. They are good instructions. They provide insight into the goodness and righteousness that is God. But they are not promises.

It makes sense. Do you know any wealthy person who is lazy? And conversely, do you know of any hard working person who is poor? If Proverbs were promises, you wouldn’t know any of these. In chapter 10, verse 4 we read:

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

For all its glory, for all its treasures, Proverbs is not a book of promises. And the painful truth is that sometimes, even with the best of parenting, children can go on to make choices that break our hearts and take them far from God.

People who come to you with this verse in hand, suggesting that you’ve blown it, I think typically mean well. But I’m also just as convinced that they are very wrong. So how are you now to respond to this person standing before you, asking about your child?

Let me suggest to you that there is an alternative response you can give—not Plan A: The Naked Truth Plan, Not Plan B: The Church-Speak Dance, but rather a Plan C. Like Plan A, it involves speaking the truth. But for starters, it accepts the likely outcome that your listener will unfairly judge you. Expect it. Own it. Don’t even hold it against her, because your listener doesn’t know any better.

Share the truth without the expectation of compassion.

In the end, your sharing wasn’t really for her. Believe it or not, it also wasn’t really for you. It actually is a lifeline to a needy soul. You share on the possibility that this person might . . . just maybe . . . could perhaps . . . be one of the many people who have someone in their own life they are losing. And if they are, they know exactly what you’re going through because they are going through it as well. Put the truth out there, let it get around, because there is someone in exactly the same situation, who believes they are alone.

This person needs to hear truth from you.  pews

There are so many people in the pews every Sunday who have struggles going on at home who will never breathe a word of it at church—especially if that struggle involves a child questioning the faith. They not only know that many people will judge them as bad parents, they fear that judgment might just be correct. It’s all too much. So they will remain silent.

But by you sharing the truth, and also proclaiming the fact that children have the ability to choose poorly often in spite of clearly loving parents, you put a small light at the end of a very big tunnel. You let them know that they’re not alone. You let them know that they can survive.

You even let them know that they can have joy in spite of such pain. Support groups for parents of prodigals are popping up all over.

Maybe it’s time for one in your area?

******* Book Cover--prodigal

Check out Carol’s new book, Engaging Today’s Prodigal.

Other posts you might like:

A Change in Perspective, By Dineen Miller

Greg Holt—A Gomer Testimony

God Loves Broken People—A Review

CAROL BARNIC.Barnier headshotER is a humorist and speaker, frequent radio guest and author, Pastor's kid, Christian. . .and former atheist. These days she admits she takes her God, her faith and her theology very seriously, but herself, not so much. To every task she brings along her slightly irreverent humor, whether tackling the issues of being very ADHD, the discomfort at being asked to be the older woman in a Titus program (after all, Titus rhymes with phlebitis--proceed with caution), or how to love today's "woman at the well." But in her latest project--bringing tools and hope to the parents of prodigals, Carol rolls up her sleeves and shares ideas and stories from the heart and from her own journey. In every talk, every article, every interview and every book, it is her objective to not only inspire people, but to give them something they can take home and use immediately. She lives in Connecticut with her husband of 25 years and her three kids.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Put Norman Rockwell Away for the Holidays!

christmas wreathThe following is an article by Carol Barnier about how those of us with children who have learning … uh … differences can enjoy the holidays. And remember, these “differences” are what make each child a unique part of the Body of Christ. Specially designed for His purposes. God will use it all! But for now, find out how your Christmas can be beautiful even if it doesn’t look like a Normal Rockwell …

It’s time for the holidays—whoo hoo!
Are you excited?
Full of anticipation?
Or quietly terrified.

For the typical family, holidays are simply a great change of routine.
These folks actually look forward to the many things that will be different during this season
– a vacation from the standard
– a step away from the predictable
– a break with the daily routine

But that very change of routine, along with odd hours, different foods, different sounds, different activities and a WHOLE different set of behavior expectations– these are the things that can unravel our kids, and consequently put a damper on everyone’s holiday.

Holidays Take Things Up a Notch
Let’s face it. The standards at home are simply more relaxed, as they frankly should be. There are things and behaviors in the privacy of our home that we often just let pass. . .behaviors that while perhaps not appropriate elsewhere, are simply no big deal at home. The emphasis is on enjoying time as a family, having a place where you belong. So Junior’s continued fascination with how many state capitols he canmap of US burp through just isn’t a crisis. Susy-Q’s fear of foods that have touched each other on her plate is easily managed. But now, with the arrival of the holiday, suddenly the game has changed. Our kids feel the tension. They can tell that there is now a different, higher, more difficult standard to be met, and it’s creating a fear in them of being the cause of someone’s disappointment.
So what can we do? Do we just have to accept that the holidays will be a massive disappointment? Filled with tension? Zapping our energy rather than renewing us? Do we just have to endure them with as little damage as possible till they have passed?

Nope. Here’s your assignment for today.

Right now, this very moment, put your Norman Rockwell notions of the perfect holiday in a box.
Choose a pretty little box, one worthy of such noble and lovely expectations. Put a snappy mental bow around it. (Personally, I’m fond of teal.)
christmas presentNow put the box under the bed. . .far far to the back, behind the growing collection of dust bunnies. (I don’t know about you, but our dust bunnies have formed a colony, elected a Governor and are passing laws. They murmur as I pass by.)

While you’re putting that box away, if you take the time to look, you should see another box hidden in the shadows under the bed.
Reach in deep and pull it out.
You’ll know it. It’s a ratty looking little thing.
The corners are dented in.
There’s some kind of food stain along the top and splashed down one side.
There’s a bow too. . .sort of. But it looks rather hurriedly thrown together, a tad askew, and showing more than a few unraveling threads.

Yes, pull it all the way out into the light.
Here it comes.
THIS is your box. It is how holidays often go.
It is reality.

Now, hold it on your lap, tug on that bow, take the lid off and look inside.
While the holiday boxes of other families have a standard complement of items,
yours is full of things that one wouldn’t expect, things that are surprising and completely unpredictable.
Your box contains some odd things, some funny things, some hysterical things, maybe even some shocking things.
But each one brings a memory that is uniquely your family’s.

And weaving in and out of all the memories in this box is the heavy cord of love you feel for your family.
This family.
This unpredictable family.
This often oh-so-very UN-Rockwell family.

Don’t let someone else decide what your family’s holiday season should contain.
Don’t let a rigid list that has developed over time become the only blueprint for your enjoyment.Family Sledding --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Don’t pull out and cart around a set of demanding expectations that may then serve to destroy your ability to enjoy the love in this box that you have.

Keep your mind and your heart on THIS box this season.
Your holiday memories are YOURS to create.
Do what works for you and your family.
Do what brings love, laughter and life.
Nothing more is needed.


Book Cover--prodigal

Carol will be joining us again next Friday to talk about the subject of her new book, Engaging Today’s Prodigal. We’ll see you then!





C.Barnier headshotCarol Barnier is a fresh, fun and popular conference speaker unlike any you’ve heard before. Her objective is to have the wit of Erma Bombeck crossed with the depth of C.S. Lewis, but admits that most days, she only achieves a solid Lucy Ricardo with a bit of Bob the Tomato. She is a frequent guest commentator on Focus on the Family’s Weekend Magazine broadcast, has been a guest on many radio programs and is a speaker to conferences nationwide. She’s the author of three books about dealing with (or possessing) a non-linear mind in a linear world: How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning,learning styles book If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where’d I Leave the Baby?, and The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles. Her main websites are CarolBarnier.com and SizzleBop.com. You can also find Carol at her blog for moms with distractible kids at SizzleBop. And for fun, see her church humor blog at CarolBarnier.

Other posts you might like:

D is for Dyslexia, By Molly Noble Bull

I’m Dyslexic, By Jane Perrine

Jake The Encourager, By H.L. Wegley

Friday, December 7, 2012

Is God Teaching Me Patience Or Praise?


I’m an impatient person!

traffic lightI know some of you are saying “amen,” “oh, yeah,” or even “me, too.” So when I drive up to a newly reddening traffic light, and I really, really, need to get somewhere fast, I raise my eyes to my Creator and say, “You’re teaching me patience again, aren’t you?” At those moments, I can almost see His silver-haired beard pull at the sides with a gentle smile, as it bobs with a nod to the affirmative. I then think, I must have a hard time with this lesson because God seems to teach it to me over and over (and over and over) again.

Then one day a colleague of mine mentioned having lost sleep the night before and how she believed God had awoken her to spend the time in Praise to Him. This idea alluded me at first because I found it weird to just tell someone (even God) how good He was all night long. I mean, it’s okay in a praise and worship song at church, because songs repeat like that anyway. But, in regular speech, it just felt foreign.

However, when you are THAT good and THAT holy, and THAT powerful … and you use all that goodness, holiness and power for your children (a.k.a me) maybe you deserve someone acknowledging the fact.

So, one day, when my laptop was straining to boot up against all thescream at laptop security software that needed to scan and update gazillions of files, I decided to not consider it just another lesson in patience, but an opportunity to praise.

And wow!

Now, what used to be moments of complaint or snide remarks to the Big Guy about His persistence to train me up in the way that I should go, I meditate on all that is good. All that is worthy. All that is God!

When do you praise Him?

Posts you might like:

Do You Ever Feel Your Offering is Too Small?

I’m Not Able On My Own

For God So Loved the World