Sister to Sister: Orphans Among Us

soccer-mom-1The following is an excerpt from a letter I received from a young Christian sister this week. Small editions have been made for clarity and anonymity. I want to thank this sister for giving me a bit of a picture of the struggles and needs of young mothers raised outside the body. Can you help? I know, if you are an older woman in Christ, you can. But WILL you? Here’s the excerpt:
In Bible Class this morning I was shaken up.
One of our congregations ministers  filled in for our class today and talked about Titus 2. The class was mostly older retired men and women.
He was brave enough to ask questions that made it clear God EXPECTS the older to teach the younger which is not only teens but for those in their 50s to mentor those in their 20s and 30s. He called many in that audience to step up to the plate. 
His wife commented and talked about how an older Christian man impacted her and she cried thinking of how he was more to her life than her physical grandfather.
I was especially moved by the wisdom of God because I, personally, have sought older Christian women and, although it’s only two or three women, I have made them the mothers in Christ that I need in order to raise my children in God’s ways and love my husband as God expects; to keep going when I feel defeated and to be my  hope when I do not know if I can persevere. 
I don’t know if you realize that it is hard for those of us who are NOT from Christian families to fit into God’s family because we feel lost many times. We even feel like we are intruding because the ones we look up to have kids (physical families) of their own. We need what older women are to us and are thankful when we get to be in their lives. We are orphans of a sort with emotional baggage but we “cry out” to the people of God and are blessed when people respond.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5

Sister to Sister: Guest Writer–Hannah Colley Giselbach

…Because, frankly, every teen girl should read. So should her mom, who’s struggling, second-guessing and praying– a lot!

 

A Letter to my Teenage Self

 

SI ExifDear Hannah,

You’re probably struggling to figure out that geometry or talking on your purple sparkly landline phone or waiting for the Internet to dial-up so you can sign on to AOL instant messenger or singing loudly into your hairbrush. Or maybe you’re cuddling with Baxter—guess what! You’re still going to be cuddling with Baxter when you’re 28! And even cooler—your SON likes to cuddle with him too! Yes, I said your SON! In a few short years, you’ll go to Freed Hardeman and have the time of your life, and while you’re there, you’ll learn a ton of hard life lessons and meet the man you’re going to marry. You’ll marry him when you’re 24 years old, and shortly after you turn 27, you’ll be having a baby. He’ll be the very best thing about you. Get excited. Oh, and when you’re 28, you’ll find out you’re having another baby! Listen girl, soak up this happy-go-lucky, very-few-responsibilities time, because it’s about to get busy fast. There will be days when you wish you could go back and be able to lay on your bed, jam out to your favorite CD’s, and read a book while someone else cooks for you and does all your laundry. 🙂

But here’s the real reason I’m writing you. There are some things I know now about your parents that I didn’t know then. You should know these things—every teenager with Christian parents should know these things. So if today is one of those days you’re super mad at Mom and Dad, turn down the Evanescence for a second and listen up.

Here are some thoughts I know might be going through your head right now:

They don’t know anything about what it’s like to be my age.

What I know now: Actually, they do. They know a lot more than you think they do. Whenever you feel like they are so out of touch with reality and they don’t remember what it’s like to feel like a teenager—to feel insecure and unsure and passionate and inspired and hormonal and frustrated and exhilarated and confused and scared and lonely all at the same time…remind yourself of these words—they know more and remember more than you think they do. There will come a day when you’ll realize that so much of what they said, so much of what they wouldn’t let you do, so much of what they made you do, was all for an important reason that won’t make sense to you now but will one day. One day, I promise you will wish you had listened and paid attention more, for perhaps it could have saved you a lot of frustration and even some heartache.

They are so strict about what I wear. They don’t want me to ever look cute.

What I know now: Let me tell you something you don’t realize—all the modesty rules your parents are giving you are not because they never want you to have a boyfriend. They know good and well all that business is about to start, and soon. See, your parents know (and yes, remember) what a struggle it is to keep your thoughts and actions pure when you’re a teenager—especially when you’re a teenage guy who constantly struggles with the temptation of lust. They understand sexual temptation more than you do, because, hello—they’re married, and they can do the stuff you’ve vowed not to do until you’re married, too. (I know you don’t like to think about this because ew, they’re your parents, but…it’s important). One day, when you’re married too, you’ll understand the way a man’s mind works, and you’ll understand just how very MUCH we as girls can affect the hearts and minds of the men around us, simply by the way we dress. So whenever Dad makes you turn around in a circle before you go out and he tells you to go back to your room and change because your Mudd jeans are too tight, just do it. Trust that he knows what he’s talking about—remember whose name you’re professing, and trust that your Dad really does just want what’s best for you, and what’s best for your peers, who are paying attention to you (and everyone else their age—because let’s be honest—you and all your friends are influenced way more by each other than by anyone else). Dress modestly, and don’t argue with your parents when they help you (or coerce you, whichever way is necessary) to do that. One day, you’ll be glad you were careful about this.

Why are they always all up in my business? Can’t I have a little privacy?

Actually, as much as you’re going to hate me for saying it, while you’re still living under their roof rent-free, your business IS their business. Any instant message, text message, phone call, date, or whatever else they let you do without their involvement and attention is gift of grace and an expression of trust. They have a right to any and all of your information and belongings. A little over a decade from now, when you have a child of your own, you will totally understand their constant desire to protect you and know what’s happening with you all the time. It’s because they love you more than life and they want to do whatever it takes to protect you from physical and emotional harm, and most importantly, spiritual harm. So when they ask questions about your friends, your text messages, your instant messages, and the boy that’s been calling you lately, that’s not just them being nosy—it’s love. They want to give you the benefit of the doubt by asking you personally rather than snooping around in your stuff to find answers about how you spend your time—which, by the way, they’re not above doing if you’re not willing to open up to them. This seems infuriating now, but one day, you’ll know exactly why, because you’ll feel the same way about your children.

Why do they care if my room stays clean all the time? IT’S MY ROOM, after all. 

Once again, all of your stuff is also their stuff. It’s not your room—they’re just letting you use it until you move out. (Warning: Enjoy your purple Paris bedroom while you can—in a few short years, you’ll come home and it will suddenly be Mom’s sewing room. SEWING ROOM.) I know you don’t realize this now, but they’re not just making you clean your room so the whole house can stay presentable, they’re making you do it because they’re teaching you responsibility. One day soon, you’ll have a husband and a family of your own, and the sole person in charge of keeping the house clean (yes, the whole house—not just “your room”) will be you. Any cleaning your parents make you do now will be a gift you’ll be able to open again and again when you don’t have to learn how to clean because you already know and are in the habit. (Psst…this one never really stuck with you like it should…so put a little extra effort in this department okay? Your future self—I—will be ever so grateful if cleaning the bathroom wasn’t such a miserable chore. K thanks!).

Why can’t they just be my friends? Why do they always have to act like dictators? 

One day, when you move out and have your own home, you will be amazed at how your relationship with your parents will change, and for the better. Those people who were always your controlling, bossy dictators will morph into your very best friends one day. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but someday, you’ll be able to laugh with them and cry with them and when they talk you will want to listen because you will know that they really do know what they’re talking about. They will one day be the first people you call when you need advice. But right now, their job isn’t to be your friends. Right now, their job is to be your parents. Parents (or dictators, whatever you wish to call them) are exactly what you need during this super impressionable, vulnerable time of your life when you’re still being molded into the person you’re going to become. They have such a short window to shape you into a Godly, responsible, happy adult. They take that responsibility so very seriously. So, be okay with them not being your friends right now. You have plenty of friends. You don’t need more friends. What you need are parents who love you enough to be nosy and yes, bossy. Appreciate them for what they are right now, and know that one day, if you play your cards right and truly live for God, they really will be your best friends one day, but it will only be because of THIS time in your relationship with them that that can happen.

They think everybody I like is bad… Just because you don’t know someone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t meet up and get to know this guy…

Once again, they remember more than you think they do. If they don’t trust a guy you’re wanting to go out with, there’s probably a very good reason for that. They see right through your friends who are fake and your friends who are hiding something. They know exactly when that guy you think is so cute is putting on a show and won’t really treat you like a lady. They can tell when a guy likes you for all the wrong reasons. If they don’t want you to go out with someone, it’s going to hurt, but if you’re too chicken to turn him down yourself, just tell the guy your parents said no and he can be mad at them instead of you. Trust me, your parents are okay with this. They love you too much to care a whole lot about what your high school crushes think of them. One day, when you’re married to a Godly, righteous man who loves you and respects you for all the right reasons, you’ll wonder why you were ever interested in that guy in the first place. Just be patient.

They don’t trust my judgment.

Well…I hate to admit it, but you’re right about this one, teenage Hannah. They don’t trust your judgment about a lot of things, and for good reason. You haven’t lived long enough to even know what sound judgment really is. Right now, you’re at a stage in your life when you actually believe that 16-year-olds know more about life and love and the world as a whole than any other people on the planet. One day you’ll see how scary that is. You have to earn your parents’ trust—do your best to show them that you’re wise enough to make right decisions, and I promise they’ll let you make more of them on your own without their input (but it’s still true that, one day…you’ll covet their input…I promise).

Do they seriously have to have a say even in how I do my make up?! How much make up I wear should be up to me at this age.

There’s something you should know. It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be unpleasant. But in the name of all that is good and lovely, someone has to say it. At age 16, when you let yourself do whatever you want with your makeup, you leave the house looking like a cross between a prostitute and a circus clown. One day, you’ll look back at pictures of yourself in that hot pink lipstick, that sparkly purple eyeshadow and that eyeliner that went halfway to your eyebrows and you will shake your head and laugh. I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you. When your parents tell you to wash your face and try again with that eyeliner, it’s not because they don’t want you to look pretty (which is what you’re thinking, I know), it’s because they don’t want you to publically embarrass yourself unnecessarily. They want you to be able to hold on to whatever dignity a 16-year-old is capable of possessing so that people don’t actually think you’re a mentally challenged clown-faced woman of the night.

Sorry. Someone needed to say it.

I’m a good kid. I don’t drink or do drugs. I don’t steal. I don’t cheat. I don’t make fun of handicapped people. It just seems like they should appreciate me more and respect me more instead of always hounding on me about things like keeping my room clean, getting homework done, texting and driving, and cleaning out the cat litter. I mean, come on…there are a lot of worse things I could do.

Give yourself a pat on the back, girlfriend, because your future self can look back and confidently say that yes, you are a good kid. You have a pure heart and you truly want to do the right thing all the time. One day, I promise it will all be worth it—the struggle to remain pure, to season your speech with salt, to dress modestly, to be kind to those who need it most, to sacrifice popularity in order to make righteous choices. You will be so very thankful you chose this path one day. I thank you.

But just because you were mostly “a good kid,” doesn’t mean you don’t have some things you need to work on and improve. Remember that your parents just have this one short window of time—just 18 years to try and help you become the very best human you can be. So just because you feel unappreciated for the good decisions you’re making doesn’t mean that your parents are not thankful for that—they are. One day you’ll see that more clearly. What they’re doing is taking advantage of every moment they have with you to truly love you and care for you—and right now, that means they will be paying attention to the details of how you’re living your life. I know it’s hard, but try not to wish the moments away. Even though you are positive there’s more to life than keeping your room clean, one day, you will miss these days.

I wish you could actually read this letter. I wish I could really show up in your room, have a seat with you on your Eiffel Tower bed, and have a little chat with you at 16 years old. Maybe I could convince you to love and appreciate your parents more—to trust that they really are much wiser than you are. But I can’t do that. What’s happened has happened, and for better or worse, I am what I am (wait, that’s Popeye). But I’m writing this anyway, because maybe there will be one single teen girl of 2016 who will read this and take it to heart. If one single girl could read this and be convinced that Godly parents are a blessing like none other, this toddler naptime I’ve spent writing will be worth every second.

Anyone who is blessed with Christian parents who love God has been given a precious gift. Don’t take it for granted. It’s frustrating being a teenager, but I promise you, it’s just a few short years and once they’re in the past, you won’t be able to believe how fast they slipped away. Next time you want to talk back and argue with your parents, take a deep breath, bite your tongue and ask yourself if your parents are actually trying to ruin your life, or if what they’re saying is really because they love you and want to help you. Next time you want to roll your eyes at them, remind yourself that they actually do know a lot more than you do about the important things that will affect your entire life and yes, your eternity.

And if you’re smart enough to have a humble spirit about all this, go give your Christian parents a hug. Write them a letter and thank them for loving you. Thank God for them right now and ask Him to help you to obey and honor them. Because you see, I’ve given you lots of reasons why you should listen to your parents, but none of them are the MOST important reason. This particular reason far outshines any other reason why you should honor your parents: God commanded it.

 

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

 

Sister to Sister: Guest Writer–Seventeen and Sanctified

1459053_1056971667657927_2195731218135519110_nRecently, while visiting a congregation in Memphis, Tennessee, I met (or even re-met, I think) Kaleigh Barringer. Keleigh has a lot of renewable energy about the gospel, about putting the Lord first, about the challenges of coming nose-to-nose with the temptations to sin in ways that are so accepted in our modern teen culture that they make teen life in the Lord seem an everyday exercise in extremism. Kaleigh submitted this to “Bless Your Heart”. It did bless mine.
Seventeen and Saved : The Challenges of Sanctification When Everybody Just Wants To Have Fun.     
Picture this! You’re on a chair or table and your friend is on the ground. You reach your hand out to pull her up, but it’s easier for her to pull you down, than for your friend to pull you up.                           
It’s hard sometimes being a Christian when we have people around us who party all the time, curse, and go against everything thing we believe. Often we call these people our friends.
We want to try to be good influences on our friends because we love them. Sometimes, though, if you don’t agree with what they’re doing, they’ll say you’re not being very loving or say “Judge Not”, or maybe just stop being friends with you all together. It’s important to know that all you can do is plant the seed.
” Dear friend we stand here
After a life of friendship as deep as the sea
But As I stand here at His throne, I wonder
Why you never mentioned Him to me.
You held this knowledge in your heart
You knew I was lost in sin;
And as I ask you why you said nothing
You say you were afraid you would offend.
You kept this saving secret
Of love beyond compare.
If only I had known…
If only I had been aware…
You could have told me something;
Could have shared this gift.
You watched my every mistake
Maybe you didn’t realize how life could so quickly drift.
“I never knew you” is what He said to me;
But I never knew Him either;
You never mentioned Him to me.
As I look back on my life
I wish I would have seen
How different my life would have been
If I knew He was my king.
I wish you would have taught me.
I wish I had lived differently.
I thought you were my friend
But you never mentioned Him to me.
Now that life is over
And He has sealed my fate,
Maybe you thought about telling me
But now it’s much too late.”-S.E.L.
Being a Christian may not be the most popular thing, but in the long run, it’ll be worth it.

Sister to Sister: Guest Writer, Hannah Colley Giselbach

DSC_0662Earlier this week a mom of a college student stood relating to me a bit of the “drama” that seems to be inescapable in her daughter’s world. It just seems like it’s hard to be in a dorm, an apartment, or even on a team with other girls when you’re between the ages of 16 and 25 without having some “yah-yah”-ing going on…sometimes a little gossip, a bit of pride and some histrionics that can turn minor incidents into full-blown relationship busters. Even more complicated is when the trouble involves someone of the opposite sex–someone who may be looking for male logic and sense in the hysteria that may at any time be compounded by caffeine, hormones, or sleep deprivation. As I was thinking about this I was reminded of my own college days and those of my daughter that were not completely free of the turmoil of girl theatrics, by any stretch. I reached back into the archives today to pull out something Hannah wrote while in the midst of the dorm drama. It might be useful if you find yourself embroiled. Keep calm and keep Christ in the mix. In fact, keep Him at the center. In times of crisis, get somewhere quiet and spend some time in the Word. Here’s Hannah on drama. As you read, try to call to mind scriptures that support her five recommendations. I think you will find they are very Biblical.

Be the Bigger Person
“I’m sorry! It’s really hard to keep up with who we’re not talking to anymore!”

This quote, taken from the teenage chick flick of the century, Princess Diaries, is funny, yes, but far too close to home. Said in a group of melodramatic teenage girls, this should have been an exaggerated example of how immature girls can be, but I daresay it wasn’t an exaggeration at all.

We’re all aware of how mean girls can be, and, while we girls at FHU have great role models and a spiritual environment to help us avoid the drama, sometimes we, too, can make regular productions of petty incidents. An argument over something as silly as laundry detergent can result in a menacing grudge that can start during the first semester and last until graduation 4 years later—complete with gossip in an attempt to make the ostracized one look as bad as possible, dirty looks, and envy when the other girls gets ahead in the game. It’s exhausting.

Guys, on the other hand, get over things rather quickly. I don’t know if it’s because they’re more mature or because they’re just too absentminded and careless to prey on bitter thoughts long enough to hold a grudge, but in any case, their world is much simpler than that of us girls. I’d like to think it’s because they’re reasonable enough to see that having to remind yourself how mad you are at someone every morning is no way to live.

For the record, I’m not discrediting the perks of being a girl. Young womanhood doesn’t always have to equal childish drama. In relationships with guys, it is our keen instincts, female intuition (proven time and again), and tender hearts that balance out the coarseness and unfeeling logic that is often characteristic of our male counterparts. At the same time, girls ought to have figured out by now that not all guys pick up on body language that screams, “I’m mad at you—ask me what’s wrong,” and if even if the guy is sensitive enough to pick up on it, he may actually believe you when you quickly retort “I’m fine,” (oh the horror!).

My advice for girls? Be honest, be real, be Christ-like. This is so much easier said than done, but there are some simple ways to work toward this ideal. Here are a few (you know I’m all about lists):

5. If you have an issue with another girl, don’t assume that she knows what the problem is, or that giving her the cold shoulder will fix it.

4. Talk to the girl who has upset you, and not everyone else instead of her. Talking to someone unrelated to the situation can be beneficial if the purpose is a sincere desire to gain insight on how to help someone or how to help a situation in a Christian manner, but all too often, this excuse is used as a crutch to make you look good while you’re backbiting. Go to the girl herself with an attitude of humility and selflessness. If you cannot find resolution then, you can pillow your head at night knowing you did your best, and the rest is out of your hands.

3. Be calm and clear when you communicate with guys. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t expect them to always pick up on clues or hints.

2. Remember that when you give in to drama, you’re hurting yourself more than anyone else. To illustrate this, let me remind you of something Augustine of Hippo once said: “Resentment is like taking the poison and hoping the other person dies.”

1. Rise above it. Be the bigger person. Period.

In short, let’s start communicating. Really communicating.

Inasmuch as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Sister to Sister: Guest Writer Sarah Heltsley…Addie’s Mom!

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“IT”S BEAUTIFUL, IT’S GLORIOUS AND IT’S MIGHTY!”

As many of you know, during the month of October, lots of us rallied behind Addie Heltsley whose father is a gospel preacher in Yuba City, CA. Her mother Sarah  let us know that she was hopeful that Addie could be awarded a full year’s supply of Liquid Hope, an organic nutrition supply that would allow Addie, a sweet little girl who suffers from Cerebral Palsy to gain much needed weight and strength to survive and thrive to a greater degree than previously possible. You can read about Liquid Hope and the  Child of Hope contest here: www.functionalformularies.com  As you may have also heard, Addie was the winner, in a close race with a beautiful little boy named Elijah.

Personally, my happiness, while definitely substantive, was tempered by the sweet photos and stories of Elijah and all the other children who did not win. It was no small relief to me when I heard that Elijah would also be awarded this year’s supply of formula and that all of the children would receive a box of this liquid nutrition from Functional Formularies. Now, as Paul, would have phrased it. “My joy is full!” I believe that our rally behind Addie was at least partially responsible for the end result of the contest which was twice as good as any of us expected.

Addie Heltsley’s mom, Sarah has composed a special message for all of the Bless Your Heart readers who voted and shared and contributed to Addie as well as to  the other kids who need formula. For today, let’s share Sarah’s joy. Let’s praise our great God that we are blessed with a close fellowship in His large and amazing family worldwide. Be sure to watch for an update later this week on Bless Your Heart about how you could help another one of the families in need, how you can do this in the name of the church and to the glory of God, and how, in the process, you can receive a free “How to Raise Great Kids” DVD for you or someone on your Christmas list. So keep reading!

Sarah, a self-described introvert, admits she had a hard time pouring out her heart’s gratitude at this emotional juncture. I loved reading her sentiments. Here you go:

Hi Cindy!

I have tried to write this so many times….It’s a LOT harder than it looks. I’m a pretty introverted person so this is proving difficult to express the joy and gratitude I have for the member’s of the Lord’s family swooping down and rallying behind Addie.

Addie (Adalyn Bliss) is our 5th child. She was born at 29 weeks weighing 3lbs 6oz. in a hospital not prepared to care for such an early baby. As soon as she was born they raced her down to Sacramento to a large hospital with a NICU.

I stayed a day and a half after my C-section in the local hospital  before I insisted to leave and go see our newborn daughter. She stayed in the NICU for 8 weeks and we made the two hour trip to see her every other day.

As Addie got older we noticed she was not doing the typical baby milestones and at 13 months she had an MRI that confirmed she had Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy…a form of brain damage that affects the muscles in her body.

By 16 months we could no longer keep her weight up and the design to put in a G-Tube was made (feeding tube). The first 6 weeks was awful and I regretted doing it everyday but slowly it became normal. She gained 10lbs in her first month!!

Last year our entire family changed our out look on food…we decided that we needed to change the way we eat. I have a wheat allergy so going gluten free was an eye opener to me.

Addie stopped gaining weight on her prescription formula, she was having mood swings, constantly severely constipated, and just had no energy. She slept ALL day.

This is where I started putting two and two together about her actual nutrition and what she was “eating” thru her tube..Have you ever seen what is on a label of Pediasure?….the first 5 ingredients are all sugar based. She had been basically living off of sugar for 3 years!

I started researching other formulas to get her prescription changed to, BUT…….her Pediatric GI Doctor had retired and NO ONE to this day has been able to find us a new one. They either 1.) are not taking new patients or 2.) will not take Addie’s disability medical insurance. Her prescription to receive formula runs out when she turns 5!

I took matters into my own hands and found Functional Formularies….a TINY little company that had JUST started making REAL blended food formula that also just happened to be organic and GMO-free.

I was lucky enough to be accepted to be part of an 8 week clinical trial of their product Liquid Hope. It is just that…..hope. Every symptom Addie had from being on Pediasure vanished. She finally gained weight…I didn’t just see her tiny ribs. She was awake during the day….the screaming fits stopped. And she….(sorry TMI) had a bowel movement everyday!! That is huge for kids with CP…..it causes so many problems in their GI system. She also made HUGE gains in all of her therapies.

When I found out about the Child of Hope contest….I jumped on it! Never in my life did I think it would become this big…The other parents and I really wanted to make it easy for other children to have a choice in what they are fed. To be told that your DME (Durable Medical Equipment supplier) will never carry this product because it does not make them enough profit is OUTRAGEOUS!

I figured if we got a 1,000 votes I “might” win. Wow….It became so much larger than that! I remember the first week and we had 200 or so votes and the other children had already gone past 1,000. I honestly thought that was it. There was no way we could compete with numbers like that. I stayed the course and decided to ask a group of preachers wives to vote……Um. Yeah. They did that….and then took us under their wing and they got to WORK!!! I have never seen so such devotion to a cause to a family they do not even know and had not even met! How does one even describe seeing them work in unison?

Like a little bee hive…they all had one goal. For Addie to receive the formula we desperately needed.

We saw the numbers gain, we saw them diminish…back and forth….at one point we had 1,000 votes—only to be behind by 300 the next week. It was grueling…exhausting…so incredibly stressful and even though it wasn’t “their” fight, every day we saw more and more Christians from all over this country jump in to help this little group of preachers wives help Addie get one more vote.

We have had so many people praying for us….it’s OVERWHELMING! To show any level of gratitude would pale in comparison to the effort expended. I wouldn’t even know where to start. Over 10,000 Christians pressed the vote button for Addie, Over 10,000 people now know the struggle that parents of G-Tube fed children are going through on a daily basis, Over 10,000 people have, at the very least, had our “little” family in their thought and prayers!

Over 10,000 people made a difference this month! They made a difference not only in Addie’s life…but Elijah’s and the other 38 children life on that page! Because of you….during the contest, 4 DME’s agreed to carry Liquid Hope and 1 DME has national coverage so that kids in EVERY state will have a chance to have real food.

This is the power of the Lord’s Family….. Sometimes I think we don’t we come together as often as we should or want.

But you should see it from my seat when we do…… It’s beautiful, it’s glorious and it’s mighty.

 

Guest Writer: Hannah Colley Giselbach

melanie

Today, I planned to take a break from our mother-daughter study to think about our sister, Melanie Hays. Sometimes we have a tendency to remember all the good times, the amazing attributes, the sweet gestures, and the rock-solid values a person had when she is gone. I remember all the wonderful days when I looked up as I was speaking somewhere and, there she was. She was there at lunch, too, to tell me to “keep on doing what you are doing.”  I remember all the best things about Melanie. But, maybe more than the crystal example of virtue she left, I remember that she was real. She struggled with sin in the lives of people around her. She hated it. She hated the devil and she could get really angry at him. She hated crooked politics. She hated duplicity in people. She rolled her eyes at laziness and she despised the efforts of some to turn the church into merely another denomination. She was real. She was as vocal about her disdain of sin as she was about her joy in the Lord.  She did not seek a public platform, but she supported mightily those who were trying to make a difference for the Lord in this world of complacency. In this way and many more she made her own difference. She did not mince words about her frustration with Satan. She multiplied her self by seven, even in her own home, and they have grown to multiply themselves, too, to the glory of God. I want to be “real” like Melanie.

Maybe Psalm 78:4 is Melanie’s best legacy: She “shewed to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.”  There are children, yet unborn, in Melanie’s family who will know HIs praises, His strength and His wonderful works because she was so real in her love for her Father. She will be eagerly awaiting their arrival. Nobody ever loved kids and grandkids more than she. 

So today, in case you haven’t see this piece, I want to feature Hannah’s tribute. I couldn’t say it better!

 

JUST A VAPOR

 

Sometimes it seems like life just goes on forever, doesn’t it? I remember being a preteen who absolutely couldn’t WAIT to have the teenager status—so much that when people asked how old I was, I’d respond, “twelve and a HALF” (basically a teenager, right? I hoped I’d be perceived as such, anyway). Then I remember being in high school and thinking if I could just make it through till graduation and finally get to experience the freedom of college life, THEN I’d really know what it means to live. Then I remember wishing that God would just show me the man I was supposed to marry, already, so I could just go ahead and experience life side by side with someone.  The time always seemed to just drag on and on.

But then there are days like Monday. Monday started out like any other day. It was Ben’s off day so we slept in until about 9 am (a luxury that we know we’ll likely never experience again for 120742 years now that we’re starting a family). When we woke up, we sat on the couch in our pajamas and talked about what we wanted to accomplish for the day when my phone rang. It was then that I heard the devastating news that would make that day very much unlike any other day. My friend and college roommate Candice had lost her mother and her grandmother to a horrific car accident. Two of her sisters (ages 10 & 18) were also in the car, as well as an aunt and cousin (age 7). All of them who were still alive were airlifted and hospitalized immediately. Her sister Natalie (18) is still in ICU with multiple serious injuries and it is unsure at this point whether she will survive. The other driver died instantly.

It’s moments like these when you wish you could turn back the clock and just savor each second. It’s moments like these when you wonder what’s keeping you and your family from facing the same tragedy, and you realize the answer is…nothing. There’s no reason why your life should be spared more than anyone else’s. Your life is no less fragile than anyone else’s. The reality is that even if your life lasts a good long 95 or 100 years, it’s still just a vapor. And most people do not live to see a ripe old age. Many people face death unexpectedly and far sooner than they ever planned. James got it right when he wrote,

“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)

Candice’s mom, Ms. Melanie, surely didn’t expect to leave this life so soon. But I know this much about her: She was ready. She was ready for eternity all the years I knew her. Let me tell you a little about this woman. She was faithful and loving to her husband of many years. This woman raised seven children in the Lord. All seven are faithful to God and I am confident they will always serve as a beautiful legacy of her life in His service. Melanie loved her children fiercely and I believe she would have done absolutely anything to make sure they were heaven-bound.

Ms. Melanie was the type of woman who somehow managed to show up at every spiritual event within 3 hours of her, toting a carload of kids with her. Every time I spoke at a ladies day or youth retreat anywhere close to her Kentucky home, there would be her sweet face in the audience, sharing a row with her girls who she always “made” go (I say “made” with a smile because they are all godly girls who I’m sure never needed much coaxing). Even when she was visiting my former roommate in California, she’d show up at all kinds of spiritual events, often surprising and bewildering visiting speakers from the South who were delighted as they didn’t expect to see any familiar faces.

Ms. Melanie was an encourager. I remember numerous times when she would say something to me like, “Just keep doing what you’re doing” in reference to living righteously. This was always accompanied by a warm hug and a gentle smile. I’m sure I wasn’t the only recipient of that needed support—I’m sure many benefitted from that gift of encouraging she possessed.

Ms. Melanie wasn’t out to win any popularity contests. She wasn’t afraid to take stands on moral issues that she knew would isolate her. She was constantly mindful that she was teaching her daughters (and her sons too, I’m sure) how to be respectable, how to be faithful, how to be modest in dress and conduct, and how to choose mates who would lead them to heaven. Everyone who knew her knew that these were some of her greatest life goals. She didn’t hesitate to speak the truth on these matters, and she was quick to thank and encourage others who vocalized hard Biblical truths as well.

Ms. Melanie was completely selfless with her money and her time. Their family never made lots of money, but every bit of it went to giving her children everything she thought would be best for them. With seven children and a store to run, her time was limited, and yet she somehow managed to home school her children, daily instilling in them a love for God and for His church.

I don’t know why God allowed her to be taken from this life so quickly, but I know that all who knew her and loved her are finding comfort in knowing that she’s blissfully happy in paradise right now and is sharing that bliss with both her parents, one of which she lost at a very young age, and the other who went with her to paradise at the same moment. I didn’t know Mrs. Shirley (Ms. Melanie’s mother) as well, but I know that all the wonderful things I know about Melanie are likely a result of her Godly upbringing.

Many people will miss Ms. Melanie. Many people will wish they had told her all the things they appreciated about her before they lost the opportunity. I’m one of them. But what I think she would want us to do with that regret is to turn it into a real determination to stop wishing our lives away, savor each precious second, and be ready for our time to come at any moment. Cherish the people you love. Say what’s in your heart. Don’t waste time being angry or selfish with those you care about the most.

In the meantime, please continue to keep the Hays family in your prayers. They need strength and comfort right now more than they’ve ever needed it before. And especially pray for sweet Natalie as her precious life hangs in the balance.

Don’t waste the short time you’ve been given on this earth. Wake up every morning with the same attitude as the Psalmist:

“Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

If you died today, what would others say about you? Would they be able to use the same adjectives I’ve used to describe the sweet soul we lost Sunday night? Would you be in paradise with Ms. Melanie? Let’s be ready like she was ready. I want to see her, along with all the others who were brave enough to live every moment in Christ.