Who You Are

This book by John Croyle is a story of second chances and subtitled: “Defying the Circumstances that Define Us.” It is the story of how Big Oak Ranch in Alabama was founded; it’s purpose, vision, and continuous mission. Croyle shares hard lessons learned over his lifetime. He shares difficult to hear and shocking stories of the children who come to the ranch. Every child who comes to the ranch has been abused, traumatized, neglected, abandoned, etc. They all need a chance to have security, love, care, support. Over the past 40 years, Big Oak Ranch has impacted the lives of 2,000+ children.

As the reader, I felt like I was a part of a personal conversation with the author. Croyle weaves scripture and Biblical truths throughout this book to encourage the reader and to explain the ranch mission, the choices he has made over the years, and how he has encouraged the children in his care. He also encourages daily Bible reading, prayer, and Holy Spirit guidance as important life elements that can help anyone face the circumstances in their lives. He also clearly defines character traits that the ranch hopes to instill in the children as they mature and heal from their past wounds (physical, emotional, and spiritual) I would recommend this book to teenagers and adults who have faced difficult circumstances or for those who want to be more aware of what some children face in life.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that B&H Books provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

I get credit for all purchases made through my CBD links!

Who You Are: A Story of Second Chances
By John Croyle / B&H Books

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Open Letter To My Friend

We all make bad choices. We all make mistakes. You are not the only one.

The choices you are making are affecting your family and friends in a negative way. You may not even know that we are aware of some of the choices you have been making. You may not care.

You have burned bridges with the people who care about you. You have pulled away from your friendships and relationships. Your friends and family now need to guard their hearts around you.

We hope for the best but see the worst. We have watched you from a distance. We have seen your Facebook posts. We have heard the rumors. We know the lies.

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To the friend fighting addiction, there is hope for recovery.

drug abuse “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18)

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To the friend having an affair, there is restoration from adultery. 

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“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:9)

love-is-patient

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To the friend giving in to depression, there is joy over the horizon.

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“…Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) 

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To the friend who is always angry, there is forgiveness that will heal your wounds.

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“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13) “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Forgiveness

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There are many people who care about you, who love you, who pray for you, and who want to see your life restored!

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If you are my friend and you feel like this letter is written about you, please know that the letter was written with a few different people in mind (not just one particular person). It was written as a collaborative effort with one of my friends. There is a particular friend that both of us know and are concerned about. We have been praying fervently for this friend. However, both of us have other friends who are struggling as well and who we also pray fervently for. We wanted to write out our concerns and feelings without adding to the problems our friends are facing. We felt that this would be the best way of doing that since it does not single any one person out. And because we know that everyone has at least one friend or family member that they are concerned about.

[All images found by searching Google Images.]

Minot, North Dakota Needs Help

I am not from Minot. In fact, I was not too happy when the military stationed us here as you may remember from my post: “You Are God Alone”  The climate change from Okinawa, Japan to Minot, North Dakota was a major shock. I still can’t believe that we got our First Snow!… in October! And since coming here many of my family and friends have heard me say that I am still waiting for God to show me why he brought us here. To be honest, I am still not sure why he did and I may never know. But, I know that he sees the bigger picture and I know there is a reason.

We have been living here for almost a year now and God has blessed us. We have found a great church, Minot First Church of the Nazarene, where I sing on the worship team and teach the 2 & 3 year old Sunday School class. We have met some great friends who will always be close to our hearts. We have found a great school, Montessori of Minot, for Kendal. I have found a great job at Joan’s Hallmark in the mall. I am still running my home businesses, Heart Treasures Boutique and Juice Plus. We like the people and the town but hate the cold weather during the long winter.

Over the last few weeks, many of you have probably heard in the news about the historic flooding that has devastated Minot, North Dakota. I have not blogged about it yet because so many people were already doing so. Now it seems like there is not much news coverage. I don’t think that people (who don’t live here) fully understand what is happening here.

It started with our heavy winter snow fall and heavy spring rains which caused flooding of farming fields and roads.

Photos I took on May 1st. [Photo 1: Snowfall on May 1, 2011] [Photo 2: Flooding of Highway 83 north of town & south of MAFB]

 

The precipitation also caused already full dams in Canada & North Dakota to get way too much water. The dams scheduled water releases in order to control the water. Several homes were evacuated due to the first set of water releases. Many of those homes were damaged beyond repair but a lot of the evacuees were able to return home. Unfortunately, original water projections were inaccurate so more dam releases were scheduled to let out a whole lot more. This caused mandatory evacuations for approximately 11,000+ people. The people of the town rushed to get their belongings out of their homes. The town built dikes that originally would have worked but would not be high enough for the new water projections. People worked around the town in an effort to stop the river as much as possible. Although the town worked hard, it wasn’t enough.

Photos I found on other local sites: [Before & After of the street near the library heading towards the lowest point in the town.]

 

Photos from NASA: [Photo 1: May 16, 2011 “Before”]  [Photo 2: June 25, 2011 “After”]

 

The 2011 Minot flood statistics have far surpassed the previously recorded flood records for this town. This flood brought in double the water that came in the famous flood of 1969. The town and surrounding areas, including Minot Air Force Base, was placed on a boil & conservation order for water. Meaning we have to boil the water before using it to eat or drink and we have to limit our use of water to necessity. No washing vehicles, watering lawns, or filling kiddie pools. Many places have had the boil order lifted but we are still to conserve water as much as possible.

Photos I found KX News Facebook Fan Page: [Boat tour on June 26, 2011]

 

Now that the flood waters have started to recede, some evacuees have been able to go home to see the damages. Armed with masks, boots, and gloves here is what they are coming home to:

Photos I found KX News Facebook Fan Page: [Homes destroyed by water and mold/mildew.]

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So, how can YOU help Minot?

Here are a few ways you can lend a helping hand:

Photos I found KX News Facebook Fan Page:

Vote for Oak Park in the America’s Favorite Park Contest sponsored by Coca-Cola! Help rebuild our largest park which has been destroyed by flood waters. Oak Park is now in 2nd Place!!! (We were in 14th place yesterday afternoon!) Type in area code 58701. Vote as many times as you would like to vote between now & September 6th. If we get to 1st place we will win $100,000!

Send Box Tops & Soup Labels to help rebuild Minot schools! We have LOST 6 schools to the flood here in Minot, North Dakota! This is an incredibly simple way that anyone can contribute from all over the country and all it costs is postage! Send them to:

Erin Edgerly
15 Vista Dr.
Minot, ND  58703

[Photo: One of the schools under water. You can see that the town tried to save it but the barrier they built was not high enough.]

Donate to the Minot Red Cross! As of July 2, 2011, the Red Cross had provided (total for North Dakota with majority for Minot area):  2,868 overnight shelter stays, 17,329 meals and 70,063 snacks, Emotional support to 1,089 people and health services to 852 people, Deployed more than 385 volunteers locally and from across the country to support the operation. [Photo: Red Cross trucks in Minot.]

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Fortunately, the people of Minot, ND have rallied together and have supported each other through this crisis. The majority of evacuees have been staying with friends or family around the area. Even in the devastation glimmers of hope peek through on occasion such as the following flag which was torn from a flagpole and ended up on this tree instead of on the ground:

Or these words remaining on the wall of a destroyed home: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to Dance in the rain.”

Blessings (with photos of Minot, ND)

by: Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

CD877337: Blessings CD Blessings CD

By Laura Story / INO Records

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Is Your Soul Well?

More often then not we hear bad things on the news. It is nice to hear a touching news story every once in awhile. If you are able to; watch this short clip…

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/american-heart-neighbors-morgan-mill-texas/story?id=10323278

This woman and her family experienced a tragedy which changed their lives forever in a blink of an eye. Brandi has amazing strength that I only hope that I would have in her situation. Not only does she have faith that she and her family will be ok; but she also expresses concern for the man who randomly picked her as his victim.

At the end of the clip; words from Brandi’s favorite hymn are quoted. “It Is Well With My Soulhappens to be my favorite hymn as well.

This song was written by Horatio G. Spafford but has been sung in many churches and recorded by many artists. In 1873, Spafford sent his wife and four daughters (his son had died a few years before) to England and he was going to follow them soon after. When their ship collided with another ship and sunk; all four of his daughters died. His wife miraculously survived. After hearing the news; Spafford immediately got on a ship to meet his wife. At some point during the voyage; the captain called him to the bridge and told him that they were passing over where his daughter’s ship had wrecked. Horatio wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” when he went back to his cabin. (To read a more details see here.)

The lyrics to this song have brought me comfort many, many times. They are a reminder that we should be looking toward heaven even when things here on earth go horribly wrong. Jesus will bring you comfort if you lean on him during your times of sorrow.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11

“It Is Well With My Soul” Sung by: 4 Him

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

“Brains Are Like Teeth”

Today I am going to share an article written last year by my favorite father-in-law Tom Sawyer. I will make my comments at the end

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“While solving the world’s problems over coffee the other day, my friend made the commented that sometimes his kid acts like he hasn’t got a brain in his head. I’ve heard this comment made by concerned parents more times than I can count and there is a good reason.

Brains are like teeth. You see, a baby, before their baby teeth grow out, eats baby food. No solid food, just fluids and jars of mush. As the child gets a little older and his or her baby teeth grow out, they begin to eat solid foods a little at first and finally pretty much the same foods an adult eats.

When Junior hits the age of 10 or so, all his baby teeth fall out. So for a period of time he or she has no teeth and must eat fluids and mush. Finally the adult teeth grow in and your young adult can enjoy all of the pleasures of most any adult artery clogging culinary feast.

Brains work in much the same way. When you first bring your new bundle of joy home from the hospital their new baby brain is just starting to learn and analyze information. Their communication skills are almost nonexistent. When they want something they cry, or they drool, burp and poop. Once in a while you get the coveted smile. They act like a baby but that’s about it. That’s all you should expect.

As the baby brain develops so do communication skills and a higher order of thought patterns emerge. You see hope for the world because your child must be a genius. Best of all, your young toddler is kind of fun to have around. Spending time together is something you look forward to every day.

Sometime between ages 12 to 14 the baby brain like baby teeth, falls out and for a period of time your teenager has no ability to learn from mistakes or analyze information. Their higher level communication skills are almost nonexistent. Their basic instinct is to eat, complain, drool, burp and poop. Once in a while you get the coveted smile. They act like a baby but that’s about it. That’s all you should expect.

It’s different in all cases, but in time the adult brain grows in and you have a fully functional full grown adult. Ready to change the world for the better.

So the next time you see your teen do something that make no sense and you find yourself thinking, “that kid acts like he doesn’t have a brain in his head.” He doesn’t, it fell out. But it’ll be ok; his adult brain will grow in sooner or later. Yours did.”

[To read more from Tom; check out his column at UBurlington]

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The topic of children comes up regularly in my Women’s Bible Study at church. Often mother’s are worried about their children’s development, how to discipline, etc. We share experiences and learn from each other’s failures and successes with raising children. Lately, the following question has been asked: “What do I do if something bad happens to my children (injury, abuse, pregnancy, etc.)? We don’t like to think about these things but the reality is that something bad may happen.

Mother’s are protective of their children. We pray for them constantly and hope that we are raising them right. Sometimes we forget that God placed them in our lives and is ultimately in control. Unfortunately, we as mothers (or fathers) cannot protect them from everything. Sometimes bad things happen and sometimes our children will make mistakes. Our job is to teach them how to love God and His Word so that they will have the foundation they need in their lives. When trials come to them they will learn how to respond to them based on that foundation.

I don’t have teenagers…yet. I have several years before I hit that stage (Thank you Jesus!). I do know that when I was a teenager; I had a desperate need to figure things out on my own. I wanted to do things that I was not allowed to do just to see if my parents were right. Sometimes a situation would come up where I knew my parents were right about something. This saved me from making some mistakes because I had my foundation. When I did make mistakes; I quickly turned back to my Biblical foundation.

We can’t control what our children will do in the future. We can’t keep bad things from happening to them. But, we need to remember that God loves our children even more than we do.

Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Hello!

I guess that this would be considered my first Blog… ever! I am excited to start this journey! I plan to write about whatever comes to mind on any given day along with a correlating Bible verse. Speaking of which; I will post this blog’s theme verse here:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Now you know how I came up with my site name! My About Me page will give you more insight of who I am. As we travel the road toward heaven together; I pray that someone somewhere will get a glimmer of hope by reading my blogs.

[I won’t always include a Bible verse in every post; but most of the time I will.]