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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Knock Knock

 
 
by Laurel Senick
 
 



Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
The Social Worker.
That ain’t no joke.

That’s right, it’s not a joke. For many people the Department of Social Services is the enemy. Is their sole purpose to take away their children? My experience is different. By God’s grace, I am a person the social worker turns to after the child is in custody.  I am a foster parent.

Being a foster parent obligates you to be in constant communication with social workers through doctors' appointments, parental visits, visits to your home by your social worker and the child’s social worker. Yes, each foster parent has one too. They may pop over without notice late in the evening because of an inquiry. Once after the children were asleep and my husband and I were relaxing with a glass of wine… Knock,knock.

An unfamiliar face informs me that she is the on-call worker and that a complaint was made about the dad and she needs to investigate immediately. I inform her that the children have been in our custody for a week.

“Surely they could do this tomorrow,” I plead. “How can it be an emergency since they are no longer in the parent’s custody? They’re fast asleep!"

“I have to speak with them tonight,” she said.

 “You can follow me into their room to wake them up.”
 
 

I was determined she was going to feel guilty and it worked. She saw those sweet angels sleeping so comfortably and she cracked. She backed out of the room, saying she would have the day worker see them at pre-school. Relieved, but no less irritated, I ushered her out the door. Out of our house, but in every bit of our business.

 With this sibling group alone, I have dealt with seven social workers. It feels like a scary movie where they are robots with drawn-on caring faces.

Recently I planned a sleepover with the girls’ siblings because they only get to see them for an hour once a week. I planned to take them all to get their hair done and then to a movie. Sadly, it was as complicated as the signing of the Constitution.  I would have to purchase two beds and paperwork would need to be signed and approved in the state capital before they could stay. I was so flabbergasted I called my social worker’s boss to confirm this crazy story. As it turned out, the other foster parent didn’t want them to spend the night because of scheduling. Should I have been surprised that they lied?

Simply put, dealing with the Department of Social Services in any capacity is the pits. It causes extreme irritation of the poison-ivy kind. If a slew of profane words escape your saved and baptized mouth you might have had a DSS encounter. I enjoy being a foster parent but, at times, I want tell them to take this job and shove it.

 Except that it’s not a job, it’s a calling.

 I’m sure God knew about these annoying, confusing, overlapping and sometimes lying social workers when He called Don and me to open our home to children in need and to share our love. When the irony of the term social service lodges in my brain and causes cross-eyedification, I try to remember that God loves the little children and the !@%$@! workers from the Department of Social Services. And I’m supposed to, too.

God’s grace has made it possible for us to bless children and He is helping me keep my sense of humor.

How many social workers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

One to notice the light is out, one to unscrew the bad bulb, another to locate and read the directions, one to screw in the new bulb, one on call monitoring the new bulb to confirm it is working properly, another to…well you get the picture!

 


Laurel Senick has journaled her experiences and prayers to God for years. As a member of Word Weavers Wilmington, Laurel is shaping her writing into works that will bless and encourage others. She is married to her sweet husband Don who supports all her creative endeavors. They attend Live Oak Church.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I am Loved





 
 


 

            We were on our way to the beach, but Lynn Rose’s face revealed a familiar scowl and her eight-year-old arms were tight across her chest. She sat in the back seat with her three-year-old cousin, Elissa. I caught glimpses in my rear view mirror.

            “Lynn Rose,” I said, “your words have been unkind this afternoon. What did Elissa do to make you want to say those things?” She tightened her lips and lowered her head.

            Lynn Rose had recently come to live in Elissa’s home. Drugs and alcohol had ruined her parents’ marriage and she lost the home she knew. The two young girls in my back seat were the grandchildren of my sister’s new husband. Though I had no direct family ties, I had come to care for Lynn Rose and Elissa as if I had known them all their young lives.

            “Lynn Rose,” I said. “Sometimes I’m mean to others when I think they’re getting more love than I am. But guess what I found out? God has enough love in His big heart for every single person. He gives special love to each person, just the kind they need. He especially knows the kind of love kids want.”

I stopped at the traffic light and breathed a short prayer for the right words.

            “Do you know what I do when I don’t feel loved? I said. The girls looked puzzled.

“I say, ‘I am loved’ really loud.”  Elissa’s eyes brightened. “Sometimes I say it really, really loud.” My voice rose with each syllable.

            “I am wuved. I am wuved,” Elissa shouted. I looked at Lynn Rose through the mirror. She ducked her head behind my seat.

            “I am wuved. I am wuved,” Elissa chanted in her small voice.

“Be quiet!” Lynn Rose said, leaning close to Elissa. Elissa stopped.

I eased the car into a parking place and rummaged for change for the meter. We carried our beach bags to the sand and plopped them down. Kicking our flip flops away, we ran to the waves. The girls grabbed my hands and we jumped.


After the hundredth jump, Lynn Rose pulled on my arm until my ear was near her mouth.

“I said it,” she whispered.

“Said what?” I asked, forgetting our conversation in the car.

“I said ‘I am loved.’” I gave her a squeeze.

“But you have to say it loud.” I shouted.

I don’t know what the people around us thought. A three-year-old, an eight-year-old and a thirty-something-year-old jumping waves and shouting “I am loved” at maximum volume.

I pray they were as blessed as I was.

            I lost touch with Lynn Rose because my sister and her husband divorced.  A few years later, Lynn Rose wrote my sister to let her know she was adopted.  Below her signature, she wrote I am loved.

            I pray you are feeling loved this Valentine’s Day. If not, say I am wuved or I am loved. Repeat as needed. But you have to say it loud.

 

In John 15:9 Jesus describes His love for us.

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.”

 (The Message)

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.” (NLT)

 

BIO

Sondra writes, hoping to increase her reader’s intimacy with God. She delights in sharing the good things He does in her life. She was called to work in children’s ministry in college and writes for children and about children. An active member of Word Weavers, she lives in Wilmington, North Carolina with her husband, David.

 

 



Friday, January 30, 2015

January Journey


 
by Angie Mojica-Barnes
 
 
 
 
Can I let you in on a secret? I dread January. Hate it. I think the dread stems from going back to school after Christmas break as a kid. I remember getting up before the sun and waiting for the bus in the cold darkness. The routine of school life was starting again and I was ill prepared for it.

The feeling of a dark beginning lingers with me every January. I lose joy at the coming days when all I can see is the work I need to do in order to grow in the areas of my life that I desire: becoming a great writer, a better wife, and a truer follower of Jesus.

          In my faulty memory I forget about the progress I've made.  Last year  I took two writing courses, where I learned so much.  I gained a deeper understanding of what real love is: how the mundane and the messy make us stronger as a couple. As for Jesus, He remains far truer to me than I will ever be to him. He continues to show his faithfulness to me by not giving up on me.

God in His sovereignty uses the uncertainty and the icy winds of winter to spur me on to fight for what is important. He teaches me to find value in the struggle and joy hidden in the dark.

He promises me, not victory over every challenge, but to walk with me through the winter until I can see the season’s promise of spring as He blesses the work of my hands.
Friends, He walks with us. He said He would.

 

 

Philippians 1:6  Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

 

 



 
Angie Mojica-Barnes is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina. 
She is a secretary by day and a writer by night. She loves Jesus,
dancing and all things encouraging.

 

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Year's Resolution to Dissuade

 

 


 

 

My special china graced the table. Candles lit. Food prepared. I knew they would arrive soon. I could feel their darkness. Though I didn’t like these beguiling enemies, I had invited them for a visit.

 

A harsh knock at the door warned me of their presence, and I welcomed them in.

 

As soon as they sat down Discouragement began the conversation.

 

“You’ve been doing this for years,” she hissed. “You’ve touched a few lives, but where’s the growth to prove your worth, your talent . . . your calling? Your friend’s blog has received a million views; you’ve not gleaned half that.”

 

With each comparing sentence I slumped farther into my chair.

 

I could barely breathe.

 

The other guest, Fear, chimed in, “You are nobody,” he softly echoed. His melancholy voice streamed from pale lips, “Who would want to read your words? Who are you to write Bible studies and books? What audacity!”

 

His words invited a third guest named Self-Pity. She let herself in and silently pulled up her chair to the table. She did not need to speak.

 

I placed food on my guests’ plates as I agreed with their slander.  

 

“I know,” I admitted. “I am not good enough.”

 

After a few hours, satisfied and victorious, Discouragement and Fear sauntered to the door, but Self-Pity hung around. Though silent, her presence further darkened my heart. I didn’t want her there, but I didn’t know how to make her leave.

 

I heard myself pray, “Help me, Lord.”

 

Just as quickly as my enemies exited, a gentle, warm, new voice entered the room and whispered into my soul. I couldn’t see His presence, but I knew He was there.

 

“I am faithful,” He whispered.

 

His was a voice of hope, encouragement, and promise. His always brought life and light.

 

“I’ve given you an assignment, my child. Leave the numbers and success to me. Don’t you know my economy is different? I’ve a plan for you. Trust me. Do what I lead you to do.”

 

The residual darkness from Discouragement, Fear, and Self-Pity began to dissolve as I chose to believe the Holy Spirit. I slowly lifted my hands to the Voice of Promise. I rebuked the voices I’d previously entertained and told them they were no longer welcome.

 

There would be no special dinner for them tomorrow night. My table would be set only for Jesus. I would prepare His dinner one faithful bog post, one article, or one chapter at a time.

 

 

Do you entertain Discouragement, Fear, or Self-Pity as I do? As the New Year approaches, these three resolutions can dispel their power and strengthen our resolve to follow the call to write:

 

·         Don’t entertain negative comparisons. Rebuke those thoughts. Remember God’s economy is different than ours.

·         Spend daily time with Jesus, listening to His direction.

·         Spend time worshiping the One for whom you write.

 

What are other ways you can disarm Discouragement, Fear, and Self-Pity?

 

 

 
 
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

 

 

 



Bio:

 
Andy Lee is an author, blogger, teacher and women’s ministry speaker.
She also serves as a mentor for Word Weavers International helping
launch and support new chapters all around the country. Her greatest
passion is Jesus and teaching people how to dig into the Bible but her
second passion is encouraging new writers to follow their call. She
 hales from Oklahoma, but she love North Carolina and hopes to
 live here for a long time. 
To enjoy more insight from Andy, visit

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wrestling with Christmas






by Sondra Dron

 
 
 
 

 

            Christmas used to cause me debilitating stress. I pictured myself wrestling with a muscle-bound opponent. I longed to push his face in the mat, triumphant over him. Perfectionism embellished the front of his muscle shirt. I was in the ring, battling for my trophy belt bejeweled with the words Christmas Sanity.  

How did I make peace with Christmas?  May I gratefully share things I have discovered in several decades of Christmas?

1.     I can let go. I have come to realize I cannot guarantee anybody’s Merry Christmas. People are as merry as they choose to be.  We can express love, but no matter what we do or how much we spend, people will react based on their perceptions and expectations. We can let go of our need to control their happy or unhappy responses.

 

2.      I can cling to the peace and joy of Christmas, but I can set myself free from traditions that don’t work in the present. I’m not required to bake a dozen cookies for each neighbor because my mother did. I can prayerfully ponder what’s meaningful now.

 

3.     I can be gentle, especially with myself. I can release swollen expectations of what I need to accomplish. I choose to re-evaluate anything that causes anxiety.  Am I trying to impress or please? Is love at the core of it?

 

4.     I can be firm, especially with myself. I can restrain impulse buying that will lead to New Year stress. Even children can understand that it’s about the manger and the cross, not the tree and the gifts.

 

5.     I can say yes and no to invitations and commitments. Yes to those that will bring joy to me and others. I can say no and still be a good person. Even Jesus said no to family and friends. He delayed in going to Lazarus and did not stop ministering when His mother and brothers wanted to talk with Him. (John 11 and Luke 8)

 

 

6.     I can give freely to those who can’t or won’t give back. I can give as unto God. I can invest in a person. I can take a risk.

 

7.     I can receive graciously. I can say “Thank you,” and not rush to buy a gift for the giver.

 

8.     I can laugh, intentionally. I watch funny movies, listen to funny songs and invite children over. I accentuate the holly jolly. I give myself permission to enjoy.

 

9.      I can be still. I can stop shopping, cooking and cleaning. I can light a candle and do nothing but stare.

 

10.   I can pray with the above candle burning. I let God whisper.  I close my eyes.  I embrace the Love of the Universe and let Him embrace me.  Perfect sanity.

 

 

What is your level of sanity so far this season?

Have you found a treatment for insanity at Christmas?  Please take a minute to share it.






 

Sondra Dron loves to help others find intimacy with Jesus. She is charter member of Wilmington Word Weavers, a writers critique group. She lives in Wilmington with her husband, David.
 
 



 
 



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Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Chocolates


 







by Mirjami Budarz
 

My Mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.’” -Forrest Gump. This iconic quote seems to hold true. The box of life contains unpalatable bitter and bittersweet candies in the assortment among the sweet ones.

My first Thanksgiving in this country was such a piece. I went into a long labor and after hours of agonizing pain, our first baby was born. Out of much pain came joy and the wonder of a new life and new motherhood. A piece of bitter sweet candy out of the box of life.
 
There have been many sweet pieces since that time, but then again I got an unpalatable surprise
from my chocolate box. Alzheimer's disease mercilessly silenced my dear sister Liisa. It cocooned her. She became unreachable.

 I missed her desperately and lamented to my daughter. She said, “Stop the pity party and be thankful for Liisa and her life. Celebrate the memories, the sweet times you shared.” Teary eyed, I picked up that bitter chocolate piece from my box of life and thanked God for my precious sister. Ever so slowly sweet memories flooded in and filled the deep void with solemn thanksgiving.

You may also yearn for someone dear to sit at your festive Thanksgiving table to share a family meal, stories, warmth, time together, friendships and hugs. Instead you feel sadness and a painful void. Those are the bitter unpalatable pieces.

Choose to treasure the memories, give thanks for them and look up. Your box of chocolates isn't empty yet. All the boxes contain a sweet “future and hope” piece. Although plain looking, it is the costliest candy, with the unique taste and stamp of the Master Chocolatier.

Sadly, some will leave that special candy untouched, look upon it with disdain and walk away.

Please pick up your “future and hope” piece, smell the tantalizing aroma and taste the goodness. Remember to thank the Master Chocolatier.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8 NKJ

For I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope. Jeremiah 29:1 NKJ

 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever. Psalm 118:1 NKJ


Mirjami is an active member of Wilmington Word Weavers.
She is an artist, writer and follower of Jesus.
 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Who Will Go?

By Venus Schrader
Who Will Go?
Who or What is this voice I hear?
This rage
This fear
I see the gazelle, she wants to run
Run fast
Run strong
Run long and hard
Filling her lungs with new air
New life
Her heart pumping new blood
The darkness moves swiftly
Shadows try to overtake her
She never looks back
It would mean death
They would capture her soul
Her life would be over
Her body is weak
The darkness knows she is tired
Her legs lose their spring
Her stride is small
She hears a small still voice
I love you
I love you
I will never leave you
Don't give up
Don't brake your stride
Out of the darkness the gazelle sprints
Running
Running fast
Fast long strides
Her head lifted
Her back high
Strong eyes wide open
Full of life
Her heart pumping new blood
New energy
A fire in her belly
The darkness is fading
Over the hills she runs
Through the valleys
Over the streams
She sees the mountains
She runs faster than ever before
The air is clean and good
With tenacity she approaches the mountain
Higher and higher with each step
She is stronger
The top of the mountain in view
The darkness will not find me here
Peace
Quiet
Light and warmth
The sweet smell of LOVE
She looks from the mountain
Courage to look back
She sees the darkness
A consuming ball of smoke
Twisting and twirling
Destroying it's prey
She hears the cries
Loud
Anguish
Who will go?
Down the mountain
She runs
Runs fast
Runs strong
Her heart pumping new blood

When the pressures of my personal life press in on me I ask myself, Am I fit to serve?

The imperfections of my past creep in to challenge my ability to be of use in the kingdom of God.
Before long I feel like this gazelle weak and afraid.

                            Too tired to fight.

                                    Too weak to serve.

Then Jesus reminds me that  he is my strength. Zechariah 4:6 says:

Then he said, "This is God's message to Zerubbabel: Not by might , nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty - you will succeed because of my Spirit, though you are few and weak.”

God's word draws us in to His presence. And like the gazelle, we find our strength in His presence and the darkness fades away. Amen.

The Bible says:
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

God has created each of us for such a time as this.

You can do all things through Christ your strength.

Like the gazelle run your race with courage - your heart pumping new blood.

Your Turn:  In what areas of your life are you like the gazelle?
                   In what ways has God directed your path during the hard times?

Will you go?

Bio: My husband and I, three daughters and one granddaughter landed in Wilmington, NC five years ago. I enjoy spending time with family and friends exploring the wonders of life. As God leads I hope to express this journey of life through the beauty of words.