Monday, February 27, 2017

Will You Trust God in Your Trials? — By Guest Author Yvonne Ortega

My guest today is Author and Breast Cancer Survivor Yvonne Ortega who suffered the loss of her adult son.

If you’re on earth, you’ll face trials, transitions, and temptations. Will you trust God when they come? Seven years ago, I returned home from work, placed dinner in the oven to heat, and checked my email. A friend, who knew my son, wrote, “I got the news about Brian. I am at a loss. I want to be here to help you in any way I can. . . My prayers are with you.”

What could have happened to my son? Was it a car accident or a work injury? I called her and said, “Hi, this is Yvonne, Brian’s mother. I just read your email. What news about Brian?

There was silence for a second or two. Then she said, “Don’t you know?”

“Know what? . . . What are you talking about?”
“He passed away two days ago.”

My knees shook, and my stomach felt uneasy. No, it can’t be true. He’s strong. He’s a black belt in karate and an excellent swimmer. He can’t be dead. The parents are supposed to die first, not the child.

I don’t remember what happened the rest of the evening. I must have been in shock. I cried and vomited most of the next day.

At the time, I felt overwhelmed with grief and wondered if I would recover. Given a choice I would have said, “Lord, take me home to heaven now.” However, the Lord didn’t give me the choice to die.

Yvonne Ortega holding the Bible
her son gave her.
Instead, the Lord gave me the opportunity to trust him, and he gave me peace, purpose, and power to get through the loss of my only child. I didn’t think peace was a possibility. But Psalm 29:11 NIV says, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” I repeated that verse over and over. I reminded God that if he didn’t give me strength and peace, I wouldn’t have any. God was faithful, and he showered me with both.  

Yet I struggled with the thoughts and emotions common to a grieving person. I was still a mother, but my son was in heaven. He died before he married, and I would never be a grandmother. I cried when I read Proverbs 17:6 NIV: “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” I would never experience that Bible verse, much less carry a grandma’s brag book to show off my beautiful grandchildren.

The grief process is neither quick nor easy, and the holidays can be challenging. In the past, I stretched on the floor face down in tears and asked God to let good come from the loss of two aunts, my mother, and my only child. They had all passed away within weeks of one another. Other times, I curled up in a fetal position on the floor and cried. I prayed day and night, read the Bible daily, and journaled. I also played praise and worship music.

I wondered what purpose I would serve on earth. I had written my first book when my two aunts, my mother, and my son were alive. I never dreamed God would allow me to write a second and a third book, six and seven years consecutively after my losses. I never imagined that God would inspire me to write a fourth one, Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief, which will come out in 2017. God is not stingy, and he also empowered me to become not only a multiple-book author but also a professional speaker and a speaking coach.

God heard every prayer of mine and comforted me. He will do the same for you. God loves you with an everlasting love. I don’t know what challenge or life transition you face, but God does. Your loving heavenly Father longs to hear from you, his dear child, and give you strength and peace. He will never leave you or forsake you. God will give you all you need to move forward in life.

You live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, but nothing is too difficult for God. Whatever the devil tries to use to discourage, distract, or defeat you, God can use for good in your life and the lives of others. Just give him a chance.

I encourage you to sit in a quiet spot today with your Bible, paper, and pen. Talk to God and allow time for him to talk to you. Do this daily and listen with all your heart and soul. God will uncover his plan for you in his perfect time.

God bless you richly as you trust him.

Copyright © by Yvonne Ortega January 25, 2017
About Author Yvonne Ortega

Yvonne Ortega is a bilingual speaker, author, speaking coach, Licensed Professional Counselor, and cancer survivor. Her books include Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.

Purchase Links to Yvonne’s Books


Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness


Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward


Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer


Yvonne Ortega’s Social Media Links


Website and Blog: www.yvonneortega.com






Friday, February 24, 2017

DEVELOPING A LOVE FOR DEVOTIONS IN YOUR KIDS – by Guest Author Karen Whiting

My guest today is friend and fellow author Karen Whiting, whose books are full of great advice in raising children. Welcome, Karen.

BEST THING WE DID FOR OUR KIDS--by Karen Whiting.

My five children are grown and now I enjoy 12 grandchildren, including two adopted as tweens and teens. Looking back I realize the best thing we did for our family was family devotions. We started when the children were tiny tots. We combined a variety of activities with scriptures for hands on fun, and to make scriptures more memorable.

My husband served in the Coast Guard for 22 years, and that often meant doing devotions while he spent time at sea. We
Author Karen Whiting
bought two copies of any devotional books so he could keep up with us and often recorded our devotions and sent them to him. These days it is possible for families to do devotions online, depending on time zone and whether a ship is able to communicate (sometimes they are on radio silence).


The benefits go beyond sharing faith and bonding with being together. It lays a Biblical worldview and helps them know Jesus and that’s fabulous. It also develops cognitive skills of a larger vocabulary and reading comprehension. It helped our children think critically as we discussed Bible stories and passages. It helped shape their character and decision making skills as we reflected on the people in the Bible and choices they made.

⇓⇚⇚⇐ Scroll down on left-hand bar for
link to purchase this book.Christine
⇓   Lindsay is an Amazon Affiliate, and
⇓         thanks you for your patronage.
We also made the time fun. We read about starry nights and Jesus talking about signs in the sky, and then as a family we’d watched the night sky. We read about yeast and then did experiments using yeast. We acted out some of the stories.



Christine asked me to share a little of what you’ll find to do in my new book, 52 Weekly Devotions for Busy Families. First, it’s full of choices and you can choose to do just one or two things in a busy week, or lots of activities in a week where the calendar is more open.


  • Each week focuses on a theme stated in a Family Beatitude, such as Happy is the Family who invests time in one another,  they will feel accepted.
  • That week the theme is T-I-M-E spells love. There is one story of real children and 3-4 activity choices, such as checking out optical illusions or investigating bugs to help overcome fears.
  • A Bible story connections section suggests a scripture passage to read and discuss related to the theme.
  • Four chat prompts provide scriptures with discussion ideas to help apply the theme in everyday life.
  • Then, there are some drawing prompts to fill in a scrapbook each week.
  • So, a week on fresh starts and forgiveness suggests drawing bubbles and writing about clean starts and drawing open hearts to rill with encouraging words. At the end of the year a family will have a spiritual memory book.
Make it family time. If you have a variety of ages like me (14 years from youngest to oldest), have the older ones help lead the study at times and make sure to pause and explain words a child may not understand. Enjoy the story and use it to think of similar stories from your own lives. End time together with a walk or a dessert or snack where you can continue talking. Use a wall map of Israel and the Middle East to show where events took place.

Bringing in an older adopted child can be challenging, especially if they don’t have a relationship with Christ already. Ease them in with a few simple activities and a verse. You might want to start with doing something a few times a month rather than weekly. Choose what will fit your family’s needs.

ABOUT AUTHOR Karen Whiting

Karen Whiting at Hershey's Event
www.karenwhiting.com is an international speaker, former television host, and author of 23 books. She heads to China soon to work with youth there. Two of her sons are rocket scientists who tot their start with devotions.

facebook.com/FamilyFaithandFood/
Twitter: @KarenHWhiting
pinterest.com/KarenWhiting/



Scroll down on the left-hand bar to find Kindle link to Karen's excellent parenting book on Family Devotions.
⇓ 

Monday, February 20, 2017

RETURN THE CHILD AS SOON AS POSSIBLE--by Guest Author Carol Graham

My guest today is author Carol Graham who shares her heartbreaking story of adopting a baby only to have the birth-parents take him back. As a birth-mother I find Carol's story as an adoptive mom so similar to what I felt. Losing a child in any way tears the soul out of a person. (Christine).

Our Beautiful Baby by Carol Graham
A year had passed since we adopted Seth at three days old.  When the phone rang that morning, I had no reason to suspect anything unusual.  My husband, Paul, answered; and as I watched the expression on his face change rapidly, I did not like what I was observing.  He called me over to him to share the receiver.

“I am getting pressure from my parents to raise my son and so I am going to have to get him back.  We are prepared to hire an attorney if we need to and you know you will not win.”  The words had been rehearsed and seemed so easy for her to say.  A couple sentences, that's all it was -- a couple sentences that tore our hearts out.

“I'm afraid you don't really have a choice,” our lawyer informed us.  The law was clear.  If we chose to fight it, there would only be more pain and great expense.  “I will set it up for you so that you can return the child as soon as possible”. 

RETURN THE CHILD as soon as possible.  I screamed on the inside.  I cried on the outside.  No, this just can't be happening.  We loved Seth.  He was ours.  Again, the bottom of my world dropped out from under me.  I loved him and cared for him. He was part of our family for a whole year.  I could not imagine life without him.  I was his mommy.  How could she do this to us?  How could she possibly love him like we did?  What about Seth?  He would be torn from his parents, his home.  Surely he would feel the rejection.

We considered all our options and realized we had no choice – short of running away to a foreign country and hiding.  He had to go back.  Paul reluctantly dialed her number and made the arrangements to meet us at the airport.  I methodically packed our son’s things; his favorite toys, his clothes, his blankie. Tears dripped on everything as I placed them gently into a small bag.  The hole in my heart was getting bigger by the second.  I didn’t know I could hurt this much.  Even past hurts had not prepared me for the pain of relinquishing my son to someone who had not wanted him!  But we had no choice.  Return the child.  Give him back.

I watched from a distance as Paul handed him to her.  It was in slow motion.  I watched his hands leave the child as he lifted our son into her arms.  He was handing my son to a stranger.  I wanted to run and grab him but I was glued to the floor.  I felt petrified.  I thought I was either going to faint or throw up.  My hand fluttered to my mouth for a moment fearing I might scream out.  How could I go on?  Where would I get the strength?  This just could not be happening.   It had to be a dream and tomorrow I would wake up and everything would be normal again.

I could only imagine how empty Paul felt.  He had loved his son deeply.  We didn't speak about this much over the years as it was just too painful.  To this day, Paul carries Seth's picture in his wallet even though we have never seen him since the day he placed our little boy in the mother's arms. 

It does not matter how you lose a child, the impact and grief are similar.  When someone says it feels like their heart was in their throat, that is accurate.  My heart became so heavy it felt like there wasn't room in my chest cavity to hold it.  The heaviness moved to my throat and even my extremities, weakening my entire body.  I was fearful that my heart would implode, exploding on the inside from pressure, and yet wondered if that would bring some relief to the overwhelming state of heartbreak. 

My loss consumed my thoughts.  Even when I was not thinking about it specifically, something would trigger a memory and the initial impact was felt once again.  In the months that followed, every time I saw a new baby or watched a child playing, I would cry.  I could not go down the aisle in the grocery store that sold baby food without breaking down.  Every time the telephone rang, I was hoping it was her saying she had changed her mind.  Days turned into weeks, then months, then years.  I’ll never forget our little boy. 
God knows the beginning and ending and gives us the strength to endure whatever comes our way.  Only God can heal the hurt and restore what has been stolen from us.  A few years later we adopted another baby who has since given us three grandchildren.

Carol Graham is an award-winning author of "Battered Hope," talk show host for her bi-weekly show “Never Ever Give Up Hope,” international keynote speaker, jewelry store owner and a certified health coach.  Carol has five grandchildren and has rescued over 30 dogs.  Her goal is to share hope and encouragement.


View Book Trailer for Battered Hope, Click HERE

CONNECT WITH AUTHOR CAROL GRAHAM


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