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Can You Trust Me with your Children?

Guest post by Karli Reed, licensed minister with the Assemblies of God.

Parenting is one of the most honorable responsibilities given to us to discourage with grace and love. From the moment that they are born and take their first breath, we are scared out our wits – oh my word! What have we here!?! What am I doing and have I lost my mind? What do I do next? Next, we take a deep breath and say “Lord God, teach us each day every step we need to take to raise this one up for your Kingdom.

IMG_0214When each of my children were born, I would wait until everyone has left to go home for the night and then stand before the hospital window facing Spokane twinkling in the night. I would raise up each one and pray and give thanks for this promised child. “You gave me the vision of three children and you have kept your promise. Here is this one. Guide me to raise them for you and for the calling that You have destined to.” You would ask me if it was all piece of cake and I would say no it wasn’t. Each child you have is uniquely different and need to be raised according to who they are. As Parents, we will have moments we regret and wish we could do it over again but, we can’t. I just have to remind myself that parenting doesn’t end even after they’ve starting their family.

There is always an opportunity to change your parenting if necessary as long as we surrender it all into His hands. As we face the days ahead of us, it becomes necessary to teach your children how to walk and live the Godlike life. Teach them how to pray along side you so they learn how to communicate with the Lord.Teach them how to worship before God to learn intimacy with God.Teach them the word of God and how to read it, study it like a student with a Teacher beside you. Never underestimate your children. They can do it. Teach them ministry with you but be wise on how they can handle ministry and guard them from the harm done in ministry. Tell them about the hard stuff when they are ready. Let them see you walk it out and the teach them that it is ok to ask us about why things happen the way they do. Always keep Jesus in the center of everything you say and do.

The most important lesson to learn is this : “Can you trust Me with your children? Trust me enough to leave them in my hands so that I may do a work in their lives before I release them?”

Parenting goes through its different seasons and each season affects the next one. Each season has its sunrises and sunsets along with it changes. Parenting also goes through its storms such as bullying, suicides, death, rejection…..this list goes on. By trusting in God to carry us through the storms, we become seasoned parents ready to come along side with younger, new parents. Parenting is a life cycle with God walking beside you every step of the way.

Looking for a speaker?  view my profile at Christian Women Speakers or go to Christian Women in Media Speakers Bureau

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The Real Housewives: Suzanne Niles

“He is the only one who can rescue us from our sinful self and fulfill us with love that no one else can.  I could be in a room filled with people I love, but if I didn’t have Christ I would be lost and empty.  He is truly everything to me.  I can’t say that I came to this overnight, but I will say that over the years, God has continued to be faithful to transform me into who He wants me to be for Him”- Suzanne Niles

Let me introduce you to my friend Suzanne Niles. Suzanne has been married to an awesome man named Bob for 36 years. High school sweethearts, still in love, and by the grace of God they have 3 spirit filled children, a daughter in law that shines for Jesus and a grand baby on the way. I have thanked God so many times for this amazing women. If I had to choose one person that has affected my life the most, it would be her.

Suzanne studied at Moody Bible Institute and Fullerton College. She also has one amazing sold out life for the Lord. God has used her in media in so many ways for His kingdom. She was a mom first, but as her kids became more Suzanne Headshotindependent, Suzanne said her husband asked, “If you could do anything what would that be?”  She replied, “Hum… I would like to do Public Relations”.

Suzanne told me that it could only have been the leading of God because she had never thought that or desired it nor did she have any experience in that area whatsoever!  “Who in their right mind would hire someone with no PR skills to do PR?  Little did I know the great plans God had” said Suzanne.

When God decides to call someone into something nothing can stop Him. Before long, she was getting asked to promote local businesses and artists. What she saw as a hobby became the training for what God had planned for the future. Never underestimate what God has planned for you. The Billy Graham Association needed someone to handle Communications and Media in her hometown for a Franklin Graham Crusade and God knew Suzanne was ready for that. She says, “I had ten wonderful ‘volunteer’ months where I truly grew in my knowledge of this area”.  That was the open door to an amazing line up of jobs that God has used for His kingdom.

Here are just a few of the other things she has done in media. World Compassion/Terry Law Ministries used her talents for a local event.  She has been asked to book a famous actor (a believer) into speaking engagements, done some casting, written articles for an online magazine and she has been asked to speak at various events. Along the way, ~9350897 (2)she has met some of the most amazing Christians.  Suzanne also did her share of acting over the years.  Here she is in a show I am guessing many are familiar with.

Today, Suzanne working for The Salvation Army Vision Network and God continues to use her.  She has covered not only PR and promotions, but Suzanne was an associate producer on a soon to be released documentary titled “Hard Corps”.

Suzanne is also a member of the Christian Women in Media Association which is an organization made up of women who “impact our culture in media”.

Suzanne faced the hard job of balancing a family and a carrier that came as her kids got older. I asked her if she had any advice for women who find themselves trying to balance the two.

  • “Be certain of what God has called you to”.  Really seek God in prayer for direction.
  • “While your children are young, they are your mission field.  The time you have with your children will fly by quicker than you could ever imagine and if you are anything like me, you will wish you could go back in time and do it all over again!  As they grow, they will need you to pray and help them stay on the narrow path in a world that begs them to follow a wide and dangerous road.

I ask every woman in this series to give me her favorite verse. Suzanne gave me 2 verses and the first one is why I am able to say she is the person who has affected my life the most.

 Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”.

“What an invitation.  I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t RSVP for this immediately, going to God in prayer and hearing amazing things from the heart of the Lord” is what Suzanne says in regards to this verse. It was her boldness in the Lord that led me to RSVP to this invitation.  God used Suzanne to bring me to a new life.  Her second verse is Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed

Suzanne is just one more amazing real housewife of God’s kingdom. She may be working in the social media world, her job may have her in the Hollywood scene from time to time but she keeps her feet firmly planted in Lord and not in the world. She is the reality of the women in my world. She is not what the networks try to push on us as the reality in their real housewives of some city series that they are running.

For more information on the Salvation Army and the work they do in the name of Jesus Christ log on to www.savn.tv. You can find out how you can help and even volunteer to work alongside them to bring the gospel to a world that so desperately needs Jesus.

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Raising Spock

Guest post by Courtney Snailum of the “Passionate Pen”

Two weeks before Christmas, my 9-year-old son asks me, “Mom, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure”, I replied.

“Well,” he began, wringing his hands together and looking down at the floor, “I just wanted to say that at 6:00 am in the dark, I went into your room with the night vision goggles to look at my presents.”

“Oh,” I said, encouraged by his confession. “And how do you feel about that decision now?”

“Well, pretty sad, because they weren’t bright enough and I couldn’t see my presents.”

“Hmmmm, I see. And is not being able to see your presents the only thing you feel bad about?”

“Yep!”10322777_10203703873578610_1280731750506954340_n

Being a parent isn’t easy for anyone. I respect the challenges and situations that every mom and dad have to face when it comes to God’s highest calling, and I would never assume that our difficulties are any more trying than anyone else’s, they’re just different.

Our son, Samuel, has High Functioning Autism (or Aspergers) and parenting him comes with its own set of rules, most of which, we’re still learning.   But much more important than discovering our son’s practical parenting needs has been the lessons that God has taught my heart along the way. It’s learning how, not only to allow God to interrupt our plans, but coming to fall in love with those interruptions.

“’For I know the plans I have for you’ Declares the Lord” – Jeremiah 29:11

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” – Proverbs 16:9

This journey hasn’t been easy, and it’s never going to be easy. Truth be told, there are many days where I just don’t know if we’re going to make it, and all I have left in me to do is cry out to the Lord for help. But trusting the Lord means allowing Him to write our story, even when we think we could have made the plot better, or we don’t see how He is going to tie it all together.

Holding my baby son, I had already written his story according to my desires: Straight A student, football, college, marriage, and grand babies. But God is the sovereign writer. He directs our steps in spite of what we think is best, then creates a masterpiece that is so much more beautiful than anything we could have come up with on our own.

The days of frustration may sometimes outnumber the days of joy, but they definitely don’t outweigh them. As difficult as Aspergers can be, there is also great wonder in discovering the world through Samuel’s eyes.

We have jokingly come to refer to him as Mr. Spock since he views everything through a literal lens, which has also made him a master loop-hole finder. This has caused us really raise the bar with our communication. Not just with Samuel, but with all of our children as a result. He has a gift of memorization and music that takes my breath away, and is always creating outside of the box.

Next year, we will be embarking on the adventure of homeschooling Samuel after having a very difficult time in public school. This decision started out of necessity, as the classroom is no longer a healthy environment for him, but the more I prayed about it, the more I began to see all of the amazing doors that this move is going to open up to him. We’ll be integrating occupational therapy techniques into the curriculum and will have every opportunity in the world to build and develop him in his unique areas of gifting.

And the best part is, we’re not going at it alone.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s true. I believe it takes a Church family to raise a child with Aspergers, and we are so blessed to have ours. This is a group of people who have come around my husband and I and prayed with us, supported us, and occasionally taken our children when I just needed to take a walk and gather myself.

1017754_10203643551950607_947508421581739680_nA few weeks ago, Samuel received his first award at the school and we were so blessed to see such a large group from our church show up to cheer him on as the principal called his name.

I don’t know why God chose us to raise Samuel, but I am so thankful. He has an incredible plan for his life and we’re humbled to be given this responsibility. It takes a reliance on the Lord’s strength and careful listening to His voice to know how to tackle each and every challenge, but He has been faithful to give us everything we need to help our son, in the words of Spock, “live long and prosper”.

To read more about Courtney go to the Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom.  I was honored to write about her in one of my first episodes of that series.  Blessings 🙂

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Trust

Anna Dietzen Head ShotGuest Post: by Anna Dietzen, author of the blog “The Unexpected Journey”

Anna Dietzen is your typical twenty-something wife and mama, trying to navigate her way through cheerios and diapers, all while trying to make the most of everyday. A graduate of Biola University with a degree in Communication Studies, Anna worked the corporate America scene for 5 years before deciding to stay home with her two boys, Parker & Lane. She has taken her love of writing and experience of raising two boys with special needs and documented their journey on her blog The Unexpected Journey. While each day has it’s own challenges and this unexpected path is tough, Anna finds the life lessons in these experiences and tries to give others a glimpse into the reality and beauty of having children with special needs.

Trust……..

It’s such an interesting word. Trust requires vulnerability, abandonment to self, action, reliance, confidence, faith and so many other things.

It really requires us to believe that the other person, or thing has our best interest at heart.

One of my dearest friends and I were talking about this the other day. We were talking about what it really means to trust God. I know that I should trust God and I do believe He has my best interest at heart, but do I really trust Him?

With EVERYTHING?

This question has really stuck with me over the past few weeks and I’ve wrestled with what this looks like in my life.

Up until a few years ago, everything in my life had gone pretty well. I’d had my times of struggle, but nothing really too detrimental or life changing. I went to college, met my husband, got married, and started a family. Everything went according to what I had imagined my life to be. It was easy to trust God and believe that he had my best interests at heart, because all of the desires of my heart had come true.

That is, until the first diagnosis.899

At 7 months, our first born son Parker was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Joubert Syndrome. Joubert Syndrome is characterized by the underdevelopment of the cerebellum and brain stem and generally causes decreased muscle tone, difficulties with coordination, abnormal eye movements, abnormal breathing pattern and cognitive impairment.

Trying to work through what it means to have your child face all of these unexpected difficulties is almost unimaginable. To trust that God was really looking out for us, and looking out for Parker was really hard to believe at first. But then Parker would look at us and smile and it was as if God was speaking directly to us saying “I love you…it’s going to be okay”.

839And that has proven to be true. We face our challenges everyday, and this special needs journey has not been easy, but the love and desperation we have felt for God through this all has helped our hearts heal and recover.

And then we received the second diagnosis.

We got pregnant again in January of 2012 and we were scared. Excited but scared. Every pregnancy has a 25% chance of having Joubert Syndrome and we knew that this baby could also be affected. But we went in fully trusting God with this baby and trusting that He would give us a healthy baby. We had numerous ultrasounds and tests and everything showed that this baby was healthy and his brain was fully formed. We were cautiously optimistic as we knew there was still a small chance they could be wrong, but were hopeful that the doctors were right.

After Lane was born, he seemed to be developing on time until about 5 or 6 months. At that time we noticed he was falling a bit behind and didn’t seem as far along as most kids his age. At 10 months, Lane went in for his MRI and we got the diagnosis that he too had Joubert Syndrome.IMG_4506

I really struggled with this diagnosis. Not because he had Joubert Syndrome, but why God would allow the uncertainty for so long. We trusted Him, and it felt like he completely took that away. We did all the necessary prenatal testing and talked to doctors after he was born and everyone assured us he was fine. But then to find out 10 months later that was all wrong.

Was it worth trusting God when it felt like he didn’t hear us? When it felt like he didn’t care?

It was during a run one day that I realized my mentality about trust was all wrong. I only trusted when things would go my way. I only trusted when it wasn’t risky, wouldn’t be messy, and wouldn’t require me to give up too much control. And I realized that what I was doing wasn’t really trusting at all.

I’ve learned that trust is a process, it’s a relationship, and it’s built over time. It’s built through my quiet times, through my prayers, my relationships with other, and it’s built through truly letting go of control.

IMG_2796I’ve learned that trusting God doesn’t mean that I am going to get what I want, but rather what He wants and what He wants to do through me.

Through parenting two beautiful and precious boys with special needs, I have had to trust and rely on God more than ever in my life. I could have never imagined that when I “trusted” Jesus with my life and pregnancy that it would mean special needs, but it has been the greatest gift I could have ever imagined.

And by sharing those fears, those unmet expectations, and growing in my maturity and faith in God, I have come to see that trusting means giving God 100% control and forming my heart to look more like His.

Had things gone the way I wanted, or expected, I would never be the person I am today or have the relationship with God that I do now.

And really, that is all that matters anyways.

Plus I get the bonus of being the mother to Parker and Lane who have touched more lives than I could have ever Dietzen012imagined and I am humbled to watch God work through their lives every single day.

Trusting God is more than a word, it’s a way of life and requires my complete surrender…

Every. Single. Day.

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The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom, episode 4

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends John 15:13.  To lay down your life for another is the most selfless act there is.  Our next women in our Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom served her our country in the military.  Those who serve in the military are willing to give up their lives for the country they serve.  They miss their children growing up at times, they give up the comfort of their homes and the brave men and women of our military face things that most of us will never really understand.

Our next Real Housewife of God’s Kingdom is Toni. This amazing women served in the Air Force for 24 years.  During her time of service she served mainly in Europe (Italy and England) but she also spent some short periods of time in the middle east (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Oman).  Not only did she serve in the Air Force, Toni was asked to be 1 of 10 people chosen from the Air Force to be a trainer in Navel Intelligence and she worked for the NSA (the national security agency that works hand in had with the FBI and the CIA) Toni has a list of other jobs she did during her time in the service.Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 5.07.47 PM

“My first job was enciphered communications analyst. Basically I was an Russian Analyst and when the cold war ended and was retrained as Operations Resource Manager. I was in charge of pilot training flying and flight pay. I deployed under this job for Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Operation enduring Freedom”.

Toni told me that she did not choose to go in the military.  She had a full ride scholarship to USC to major in journalism but when her mother got sick the money that was put away for her college was used for the care of her mother. Having to give up her college money made Toni angry so she joined the military. I appreciate her honesty.  She told me her love for the military did not happen until 8 years after joining.

“When you deploy and see the devastation of other countries no matter what the American consensus is you realize you are doing the right thing. For others to have freedom”.

All of Toni’s children were born while she was serving.  She had a child born in Naples, one in Washington DC while working for the NSA, another in England and her last was born in Washington state. Moving was hard  for her kids but they were fortunate to see other countries and experience things that other children only got to dream of. Toni says that now two of her children are home bodies and refuse to move. Her third child who is a daughter joined the military because she missed the traveling, stability and sense of duty the army provides.

1058693_10153766929890296_1360305468_nOne of my favorite things about this series is seeing what the favorite scripture or passage is for each of the different women. Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the lord always. I will say it again REJOICE is the favorite scripture of this Real housewife of God’s Kingdom. Toni shared with me that this scripture says it all and she feels that God has taken her, a broken-down woman who felt like her life was completely over and turned her into someone who rejoices in His love daily. She says, “He doesn’t care where or what I have done in the past he still loves me and I am beautiful”.

Toni prays daily for all Christian men and woman to feel the redemption that she rejoices in everyday and her love for others can be seen in the different ministries she is involved in.  She is a active part of Women Strengthening Women which is a bi fold ministry based out of CA serving woman in a outreach program/prison ministries for the families left behind during incarceration. Toni is also working on her own ministry, A Woman’s Heart, which will be registered as a full ministry in late 2014 or early 2015.  This ministry is based redemption and focus on woman’s restoration to God’s intended purpose.

I am thankful for women like Toni who sacrifice so much for the safety of the rest of us.  Please do not forget to be giving thanks for those who serve in our military.  Because of the brave men and women like Toni, we can sleep soundly at night.

Please don’t forget to give thanks for all the brave men and WOMEN who have served our country.  To those who gave there lives so we could be safe, Thank you is not enough.  To see a little history on women in our military watch this video.

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Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom (Episode #3)

In our last episode “Two are better than one” I focused on the gift of friendship and today I continue on that theme with a story of three friends who said yes to God.

Episode #3- “I WILL GO WHERE YOU SEND ME” (Part 1)

Once upon a time there were three real housewives of God’s Kingdom. They were all serving at one church (City Harvest Church), raising their families and enjoying the goodness of the Lord. What is amazing about these three is that in order to be God’s hands and feet they were willing to go where God sent them. Now this was not an easy thing to do. They had to give up their homes, take their children away from what they had always known, and go to a new city.

God also did not plan on sending these three friends to the same city either. One by one they left behind what they knew and followed God to where He had called them.  They have stood in faith beside their husbands as they have planted churches and as they saying goes, “behind every great man is an even stronger woman”. So without any further ado lets meet these three REAL HOUSEWIVES OF GOD’S KINGDOM.

Lori:

Not only is Lori a friend of mine, her and her husband are my Pastors at City Life Church .  Lori has a gentle spirit and 1466118_10202308521695094_1280063267_nis filled with so much wisdom.  She is a mother of 3 and has been married 25 years. She graduated with a degree in Organizational Mass Communications, and is a very affective leader.  When she is not serving on the worship team, leading the women in our church, being a mom and a wife, she works full time as the Volunteer Coordinator for Horizon Hospice.    She also has a passion for writing, preaching, and teaching along side her husband.  A servant’s heart is a perfect description for her.  Deuteronomy Chapter 8 is the passage for the season of her life. When I asked Lori to share something she learned from God she responded with this:

“His life poured out for my sin on the cross, and that alone is worthy of every moment of my life in service to my King.  The cross is the measure of Gods love for me. Sometimes circumstances are difficult and in those seasons, it can be hard to believe the goodness of God.  But the measure of his Love for us was proven when God’s wrath and mercy met at the cross. He took the wrath and gave mercy instead.  Proof enough.  I remind myself of that when my selfish heart thinks I somehow deserve to be free of testing and sorrows that life on this earth can bring.”

I have to say I am very thankful for Lori’s obedience to the Lord.  Because she was willing to go where God sent her, I am blessed to call her and her husband, Van, not just my Pastors but my friends also.

Raydeane:

Raydeane and has been married for 23 years which is the same number of years she has been in ministry. When God put his calling on the lives of her and her husband to plant a church they IMG_1021moved their family to Idaho to plant Heart of the City Church.  She attended University of Idaho & Lewis Clark State College and has a background in retail management.  At the age of twenty-one Raydeane gave her heart to the Lord and  began youth pastoring at 23. Both her and her husband have also served as Evangelism and discipleship pastors.  Currently she serves with children’s ministry, women’s ministry and she administrates large women’s events. Periodically, Raydeane writes articles for the Coeur d’ Alene Press and she writes/records one-minute devotionals for her local radio station. When given the opportunity she loves to minister at women’s conferences, retreats and prophetic presbyteries. Some how in the middle of all that Raydeane finds time to co-lead a city business women’s group each Friday.  She loves being in God’s Word and her favorite book is Isaiah Chapter 49.  Raydeane is one of several real housewives of God’s Kingdom that has faced cancer.  She has had cancer three times and says, “I have experienced the love and power of God. It has sustained me and brought me back to health”.   Besides all the ministry and health issues Raydeane has balanced her time at home so that her first ministry, her 2 children could be a priority.  Just recently both her children were engaged and she will be busy helping to plan their summer weddings.

I have said that I am writing this series because the real housewives of God’s kingdom are not in this for fame.  All they do they do for the glory of God and this quote by Raydeane sums things up perfectly,

                                  “My passion is to make Jesus famous!”

 

Lisa:

Psalms 27 is a favorite of our next real housewife of God’s kingdom.  

 The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in His temple. verse 4.

Lisa has been married 22 years and has served as a youth pastor, pastor over women’s ministry, 1419999_10200963698199062_1859228563_npreaching at times, and emceeing services. Lisa’s most important ministry however is her 3 kids and she says she is her kid’s biggest fan.  Lisa and her husband Matt helped to start City Harvest church in 1997 and after 13 years of service they listened to the call of God.  Just like her friends Lori and Raydeane, Lisa was willing to go where God wanted to send her. She packed up her family and they moved to the Tri-Cities to plant New Vintage Church.  Lisa is a graduate of Portland Bible College, she is passionate about what she does and she has a great sense of humor.  Put all that together and you have the perfect mix to make a strong and effective in servant/leader in women’s ministries. I was blessed to listen to some of her teachings last year at our women’s retreat and I must say she is a truly gifted speaker and teacher.   Lisa (along with her husband) has a passion to make the Gospel relevant and practical, touching all parts of life, and every type of person – a “do-able Christianity”.

It is women like these three amazing women that are a reality to me and I hope it is women like them that are part of your life too.  They are just a few of the real housewives of God’s kingdom who live their lives for His glory. They do not care about fame or that Hollywood may find their lives unworthy of TV time, they live to serve God and to share his love with others.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “I will go where you send me.”

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