Thank you WordPress Family!

I would like to take this moment to share the success of my first published book titled: Out of the Darkness: A Journey into the Marvelous Light released April 2014! Discover God’s plan, purpose, fulfillment, power, and glory expressed in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and experience the elevated, expanded, exponential lifestyle encountered through walking by faith.

Thank you to everyone who follows, likes, and comments on graceforchange!

Blogging has been a tremendous source of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation that has enabled and empowered me in my journey of transitioning from marriage through separation and divorce towards the ‘better place’ I desired to be from the year the divorce took place in 2005.

Inspired and influenced by the writings of author Max Lucado and his insightful, creative way of depicting the biblical story of the woman with the issue of blood, I declared to myself then, ‘I want to write like that!’ Thus began my personal journey and mission to complete and produce Out of the Darkness. Initially intended to be a devotional for my church community, Out of the Darkness took on a life of its own over the past 9 years that culminated in what I present for others to share in what God has divinely inspired through His use of me to write.

Much like the woman with the issue of blood, Out of the Darkness became an encounter and expression of my desire and ambition to encounter something greater, better and new! Compelled and persuaded by the belief that a closer proximity with Jesus would bring into her life what she desired in her heart, the woman with the issue of blood sojourned, by faith, towards the source of her wellness and wholeness. Pressing forward through the crowd, pushing through the internal/external obstacles of opposition between the condition of her current circumstances and her ‘better place’ encounter, she persevered beyond the twelve long years of misery and misfortune until she could experience the touch that would bring about her transformation!

I invite you to share in the experience of the journey towards the ‘better place’ into something greater, better, and new God has in store for those who believe! Purchase your copy of Out of the darkness on Amazon.com, Archwaypublishing.com, or contact me directly at authorcjones@yahoo.com for an autographed copy!

10% of each copy sold will go to support the Reid Temple Christian Academy PreK-8 School in Glenn Dale, MD where Rev. Dr. Lee P.Washington serves as Senior Pastor.

Inspired to share His grace!

'Darkness should be embraced as a means to overcome it.'

‘Darkness should be embraced as a means to overcome it.’

 

 

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Faith and Attention in a Transition

“For the eyes of the LORD range through the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

– 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV

Everytime I reflect on this verse from 2 Chronicles I am reminded of God’s concern for me and the attention He desires to give me in my circumstances. There is another verse in Genesis 8:1 that reinforces the same concept as 2 Chronicles when it talks about God remembering Noah and all the animals in the ark. There were times when I would journal and pray I would express to God my appreciation for remembering me as He remembered Noah. This verse reiterates to the sincere believer that God’s eyes are always attentive to them. With eyes of compassion, God looks with care and concern for those He loves. In the same way, God compels us to look with the same compassion and care for our children during a transition as He looks upon His own children. The reality of the troubles we will have in this life, that Jesus said we would have in John 14, can cause us to forget that our children are going through the transition too. Weighed down and burdened by the reality of what we are encountering during the transition can cause us to be in denial that our children are even being impacted, especially if they’re not talking or reacting in a way that would easily identifiable. They may not be able to express it, or desire to, but they are feeling something. As we are being impacted, so are they.

A recent conversation with my brother provided insight on clues that help us to identify with whether we are, as parents, providing quality/quantitative attention to our children. He indicated the first clue being the children. Verbally, or non-verbally they will communicate their need for attention. Learning to catch them being good and acknowledging them will reinforce to them they are valued. teaching them how to ask for attention in positive, healthy ways will go a long way in discouraging them from using negative, unhealthy means to get our attention. The second would be the internal gauge of our conscience that lets us know when we are neglecting our children’s need for our undivided attention. Setting aside structured time to engage with our children in play, conversation, watching t.v./movies, or arts and crafts related activities will go a long way in reinforcing to our children that they are loved and valued beyond saying the words, ‘I love you.’ Even having special days, rituals and routines, like the ‘menu night’ I started with my children where they get to order from a menu what they would like to eat made Thursdays fun. Soon, they desired telling me earlier in the week what they would like on Thursdays as a way to express their enthusiasm for the attention they were getting associated with choosing what they could eat.My brother even cited how he notices my children frequently offer me hugs in the course of the time I spend with him in his home due to the ‘hug breaks’ we implemented so many years ago. Sincere affection is attention expressed non-verbally.

Allowing time for children to talk openly about their goals, dreams and aspirations about the future is an act of attention given to them and reinforces their value associated with their individuality and their uniqueness in how God has created them.  Listening to them share their concerns, also, is a way of providing them attention. This is what God does for us and what he did for Hagar too. God challenged Hagar to continue to give attention to her child, while experiencing the transition, while God provided attention to her by providing for her what she was unable to provide for herself and her child. What Hagar could give her child, God directed her to continue to give attention to her child despite the challenges she faced in her circumstances. Hagar thought that what she was facing as a parent was too great and allowed distance to be created from herself and her child. She became emotionally withdrawn and disconnected. The weight of her circumstances created a wedge between her and her child. When all hope was lost and despair set in, the light of God’s love and compassion broke through the darkness of Hagar’s circumstances and God ministered to Hagar that allowed her to reconnect with her child! God provided both sustenance and a promise to Hagar about her child to reinforce to her that no circumstance is greater than God’s ability to bless and preserve life! Give attention to your child, Hagar, by lifting them up (encouraging them) and taking them by the hand (guiding them) and I will make him great!

May God bless you and help you to trust Him to richly provide for everything you need and empower you to give quality/quantitative attention to your children through encouragement, love and guidance as you transition towards resiliency.

Faith & The Transition

“God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.'”

– Genesis 21:17-18 NIV

Though Hagar did not experience a traditional separation and divorce from Abraham, as the mother of Abraham’s son Ishmael, Hagar’s life and trials as a parent transitioning through life’s troubles illustrates for us God’s faithfulness to care for those He is concerned about, including you and me., as we encounter the transitions of life. For the second time (see Genesis 16) Abraham’s household erupts into conflict between Sarah and Hagar. Again the resolution involves putting Hagar out and sending her into the wilderness with her child Ishmael. The first time this happened, Hagar encountered God and learned that God is a ‘God who sees.’ The same David who declared God as One who is mindful of man in Psalm 8, later inquires to God in Psalm 10:1, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” The same David who declared that God is concerned about man later question whether God cares. My mother jokingly interjected as we read and reflected upon Psalm 10 recently during bible study that something must have happened to David for him to question God after declaring Him as One who cares.

The reality of the transitions that we face in life will cause us to respond as David did. Although we have encountered God as Hagar did and learn that God sees us and is concerned about us, our momentary troubles can sometimes challenge our faith and trust in God causing us to feel as David did when he expressed himself to God in psalm 10:1. It was God who told Moses to tell the Israelites in Exodus 3 that He has indeed seen the misery of His people, He has heard their cries, He is concerned about them and He will come to them and deliver them. The circumstances associated with our transition challenge our faith and seek to discourage us from trusting in God remaining faithful to Him to believe that He cares and He is concerned about us. The elapse of time and the increased intensity of our circumstances will cause us to inquire, ‘God, are you there? Do you see what’s happening to me? Are you going to respond to me prayers and help me in my circumstances?’ This is what David inquires of God in Psalm 10:1.

Despite how he feels and the reality of what’s happening around him, by the conclusion of Psalm 10 David looks beyond how he feels and answers his own inquiry. “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” – Psalm 10:14 NIV Hagar learned that the same God who sees also hears in her circumstances. In fact, the bible said that God heard the cries of the child. The reality of her transition caused Hagar to be overcome with grief and doubt that anything good would come out of her current circumstances. Distraught, she distances herself from her child, but God intervenes and responds with compassion to Hagar. You may not have what you need for the child Hagar, but you can take hold of the child and lift them up. In essence, what we may lack in material means for our children due to the transition, by God’s grace we are sufficient to provide love and encouragement. Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and provided a well for Hagar to provide the means she could not on her own. Despite the reality of our transition, God sees us and hears us and He cares and is concerned and He will respond to us as He responded to Hagar. Like David, despite how we may feel in the transition, continue to talk to God, as David did, and remind yourself of God’s faithfulness to care for those He loves.

May God bless you and help you to continue to come to Him and talk with Him and give to your family the love, encouragement and support God provides by His grace as you transition towards resiliency.

Faith & Affirmation in a Transition

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

– Deuteronomy 7:6 NIV

As my mother has watched me interact with my children, including the moments when I correct them, she has affirmed me in how she notices the consistent calm way in which I communicate with them, even during stressful moments of correction, instead of yelling and raising my voice loudly consistently. One day my daughter, now age 11, acknowledged recognition of the fact that I don’t raise my voice when I speak to them. Hearing the compliment from my mother about my progress in disciplining my children was a great source of encouragement for me in my efforts to interact and work with my children. Prior to becoming a parent, I would make mention of the fact that it was important to me to treat my children in the same manner I strove to work with the students I came into contact with as educator in the classroom. To God be the glory for the work of His Spirit in and through me that helps me to model the patience of Christ and allow the fruit of peace to be produced in and through me as I interact with others.

At work, within the past month, I had a professional colleague who came to me and thanked me for the manner in which I have modeled Christ in working with my students that helped her recapture her spiritual/professional equilibrium after a rough period of conflict she was having at work. Our intermittent fellowship with the sharing of God’s word on how to cope during stressful and challenging moments in life affirmed her in her faith walk and she felt compelled to do the same for me for what God did for her through His use of me on her behalf. She mentioned to me the recognition of the calming effect my person has on those I come into contact with when I’m in my classroom that I recognize as the person, presence and power of the Spirit of Christ emanating from within me to affect and influence others around me. She called it a gift, I reminded her it was all God and I could not take credit for the work of His Spirit in and through me that ministers to others. This week, I sent flowers to my sister at work for Mother’s Day. Beyond the fact she is my sister and the mother of two children, I sent the flowers to affirm her because of the intense challenges she faces in the workplace and wanted her to have something positive to happen at work to offset the reality of the negativity she faces day-to-day.

Affirmation says to the recipient, “You are special, significant, valued and appreciated!” How important is affirmation? Enough that God makes use of the principle of affirmation in scripture in how He speaks to His people. “In a desert land he found him in a barren waste and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.” – Deuteronomy 32:10 NIV This is a verse from a song Moses sang in honor of God’s act in delivering the Israelites from captivity in Egypt. God regards us as the apple of His eye! When He came to Gideon to inform Gideon that He would use him to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites, the angel of the LORD greeted Gideon by declaring him to be a mighty warrior. As the disciples continued in their devotion to walk with Christ during His earthly ministry, Jesus declared that He no longer regarded them as servants, but friends.

During the reality of our transition, despite the challenges we face and the changes we go through, the howling, barren waste; God looks to affirm us as He regards us as the apple of His eye and seeks to shield us and care for us. As our heavenly Father, God affirms us in our relationship with Him and models for us how we ought to affirm our children during the process of our transition. Shield them and care for them. Protect them from what will hurt them and not help them grow, mature and become productive adults. Shield them from making negative comments about the other parent. Protect them from being put in the middle. Care for them in a way that affirms them that they are loved, valued, significant, special and appreciated. Communicate with them and speak words of life to them that lift them up and let them know that they will live and not die in the wilderness of this transition as God spoke to the Israelites. Affirm them by acknowledging consistently the positive traits and things they do that validate the uniqueness by which God created them. God affirmed His children by being present with them while they transitioned through the wilderness. Our interested presence invested in time spent with our children affirms them more than our words.

May God bless you and help you to discover innovative and creative ways to implement affirmation in your family as you transition towards resiliency.

Faith & Affection in a Transition

“All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

– I Corinthians 16:20 NIV

The reality of change, and the transition, is usually associated stress. Surely, the greater the change and the challenges associated with the transition increases the stress level. Reassuring our children they are loved and it is not their fault will go a long way in helping them cope with the transition as we learn to cope as the adult in the transition. Infants and toddlers may not be able to understand cognitively the reality of what is happening during the transition, but they understand hug breaks, gentle kisses, and a tone of voice that makes them feel safe and secure. Author Gary Chapman wrote a book titled The 5 Love Languages and one of the 5 languages of love is physical touch. Understanding communication is both verbal and non-verbal, how can one communicate affection to their child, or children, during a transition that continues to provide them safety and security during a time of change and challenge?

How about a high-five in recognition for the completion of a task? Try giving consistent positive verbal recognition for deeds done to reinforce continued demonstration of positive behavior. “I like the way you chose to use your time to read instead of watching television. Give me a high-five, or hug!” Some people believe picking a child up, giving them hugs spoil the child, but physical touch is a genuine human need. Physical touch validates a person’s physical presence expressing appreciation for them being present in the environment. As children get older it’s possible they receive positive physical touch less and less believing they’re too old for that now. Your teenagers may even say it, but it doesn’t change the fact it is a genuine human need. Some may have never experienced it growing up as a child being hugged or hearing the words, “I love you,” spoken to them. The awkwardness that comes from being able to give it and receive it may make us feel uncomfortable, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a genuine human need. Children may be young, but they are still human.

The reality of the changes and challenges associated with a transition and the stress that comes along for the ride may create an environment where affection gets put aside, but courage can break the glass and create an atmosphere of safety and security instead of isolation and anxiety. Despite the awkwardness, break the glass, and watch how the physical touch of love and affection can instill safety and security, reducing stress and anxiety for the giver as well as the recipient.

May God bless you and help you to make use of the love language physical touch and affection as you transition towards resiliency.

Faith & Acceptance in a Transition

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.'”

– Genesis 4:6-7 NIV

From God’s discourse with Cain, we can see that the need for acceptance has been around since the days of Cain and Abel. In fact, Adam and Eve hid in shame and fear of God after eating the forbidden fruit, not believing they were acceptable to God anymore because of what they had done. God covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness as an expression of His acceptance, but they encountered the consequences of their actions in eating the forbidden fruit. God was expressing to Cain His desire to demonstrate favor towards Cain, but Cain was not accepting of what God required in order to be, feel, favored by God. Cain ignored God’s instruction on doing what was right, in order to be favored, and God’s warning of the consequence of not changing his disposition that caused him to be rejected and it led to the murder of his brother Abel.

Both Cain and Abel were accepted by God, but only one of them encountered His favor (intimate personal special/expression of grace from God). Even after murdering Abel, Cain received God’s grace and mercy, but he was a wanderer and received a mark to prevent other’s from harming him due to what he did to Abel. Cain wandered through life, burdened with the guilt of the murder of his brother, banished from encountering the personal favor of God in an intimate relationship with Him, simply because he refused to adhere to God’s instruction of doing what was right.

During a transition, our children can begin to carry unnecessary burdens of guilt that they’re to blame for the transition, they’re unloved, or the fear of being rejected by either or both parents. During the transition, their grief over what has occurred may cause them to get ‘stuck’ in some habit or behavior that inhibits them from doing what is right. Shrouded by the reality of the world they have entered into due to the transition, as Adam and Eve entered into the darkness of the reality of their circumstances by eating the forbidden fruit, children need the validation of acceptance to remind them they are loved and the circumstances that have created the transition are not their fault. They need to know that though they may be struggling to do what is right they are still accepted.

Acceptance validates that I am significant, valued and special as an individual. Cain was already accepted by God, but Cain did something that was not acceptable to God and God expressed to Cain to change his ways, but Cain ignored God and things got worse. Cain wanted God’s favor, that Abel received, without doing what was right. During a transition, a child may act out, engaged in not doing what is right still seeking favor for doing wrong. They need to know they’re still accepted, but favor comes with doing what is right. Rewarding negative behavior only reinforces poor choices.

God used the promised land to inspire hope in His children and hold them accountable to doing what was right as He led them through the wilderness of their transition from slavery to their destiny. Instilling within our children a sense of mission, purpose and vision will go a long way in helping them experience acceptance and favor consistently as they grow. Establishing clear, specific rules, rituals and routines provides structure, order and influences self-discipline. In spite of the transition, my children, both, have consistently maintained honor roll status with my daughter attaining straight A’s the past 2 school years. Both have encountered lapses emotionally, mentally and academically due to the stress of the transition and the rigor of school, but they have persevered bringing low grades in their 5th (daughter) and 3rd grades (son, now 4th) to A’s. Let’s instill resiliency within our children with acceptance!

May God bless you and help you experience His acceptance and favor to share with those you love during your transition towards resiliency.

Use the 5 A’s when Communicating during the Transition

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

– I John 3:18 NIV

The 5 A’s are part of the suggested strategies of effective classroom management published in a textbook for classroom teachers by author Dr. Linda Albert titled Cooperative Discipline. Cooperative Discipline is a compilation of research based factors, skills and strategies employed by classroom teachers and school community employees who work with children provided to empower teachers, staff and students, along with parents, to develop a hands-joined approach in creating a harmonious classroom/home environment facilitated with mutual respect and cooperation. The 5 A’s are acceptance, affection, affirmation, appreciation and attention. I always believed, after being introduced to Cooperative Discipline as a classroom teacher, that if the strategies suggested for the 5 A’s worked on children who aren’t mine, how much more would they work for the parents of children.

To me, the 5 A’s are love in action. Just as I Corinthians 13 creates an explicit definition for us of what love is (Love is patient and kind, etc.) and I John reminds us that saying ‘I love you,’ and expressing love is two separate concepts of love, the 5 A’s provides steps by which love can be expressed that reinforces the love within the relationship between the parent and their child, or children. Jesus explained to His disciples that one who encounters a person who is willing to lay his life down for the other is a great expression of love. A child, or children, who has a parent, or parents, who consistently humble themselves and take moments out of the mundane of the day to express sincere actions of love, like hug breaks, encounter the great love Jesus talked about with His disciples. The act of laying one’s life down for another begins with humility and ends with sacrifice. Someone who looks not only to their own interests, but also to the interest of others. It is a deliberate action with the intent to build up the other and make a positive contribution into their life without expecting anything in return for the investment made.

During a transition, this could be difficult sometimes, because parent’s minds are occupied with stress, duress and anxiety and how to solve the many challenges faced in dealing with one’s own grief, financial pressures, job security, and other related adult matters that the child, or children can sometimes be inadvertently overlooked. It is safe to say that, during a transition, parents can benefit from the 5 A’s too. Transition or no transition, everyone can benefit from the 5 A’s like everyone could use a hug break! 🙂

Do my children, or my child, feel secure in being accepted for who they are?

When was the last time they received genuine affection from me?

Do I communicate words that affirm them in who they are in a positive way consistently?

What has my child, children done lately, consistently, that they should be appreciated for?

How often do I take time to invest with them centered around what interests them that expresses to them I am giving them my undivided attention?

It is never too late to start lavishing our children with a heavy dosage of 5 A’s, because these are legitimate human needs we never outgrow. Recently, as we were leaving out to celebrate my son’s birthday with other family members, my daughter chose to leave her math textbook she recently received after I expressed my desire for us to share this time as a family. She was insistent before we left with a repetitive barrage of pleases to take it, but understanding she would have to leave it in the car once we entered the home of her aunt and uncle, she resigned to leave it behind. I thanked her for making the choice to leave it to reinforce my appreciation for her making the choice to share her time and attention in celebrating her brother’s birthday with the family. My mother has watched me in action with my children and affirms me in my parenting sharing with others her appreciation of how she sees me using a soft tone consistently when correcting and encouraging my children during challenging moments of misconduct. Along with hug breaks, let’s revolutionize the world around us with the 5 A’s!

May God bless you and help you make use of His wisdom, patience and love to build up your family as you transition towards resiliency.