Saturday, June 27, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
The Southern Baptist Convention is in town this week. Most of you know that I work for LifeWay which is a part of the SBC. (or the SBC is a part of LifeWay. It's early and my brain is not quite as nimble as I'd like.)
Anyway, what that means is that our fair city (and our fair store) is teeming with very important people. Because of this, there's a lot of pressure to be practically perfect this week. (Or at least the first three days of this week.)
Add to that, Jonathan is working for LifeWay at the convention book store. (and while we all know that he's a wonderful child, somewhere deep in my heart there's this fear that he's going to jump up and start break dancing on the tables. Or inundate Dr. Rainer with knock knock jokes.) Wonderful mother that I am, I think I've told him a billion times to remember that he not only represents LifeWay, but he represents me as well. (and I'm sure he'll do a fine job. He can be very charming. As long as the break dancing, piggyback riding, nerd-herd-ing part of his persona stays under control.)
Regardless, he and Nathan have headed off to the Expo Center to work the pastor's conference. I'll be heading in to the store this afternoon to practice being practically perfect. Here's hoping for a smooth passage of the week.
I am...waiting patiently for the re-inspector to come and re-inspect our roof.
I want...to be at the farmer's market, sampling fresh strawberries.
I have...a lengthy to-do list and I'm ignoring it.
I wish...for so many things.
I know...that I am blessed and don't really need the things I wished for.
I fear...more things than I should.
I hear...parrots making random noises, my father-in-law watching tv as he waits for the re-inspector with me.
I crave...the ocean. the sound of it. the beauty of it. the vastness of it.
I search...for the woman God is preparing me to become.
I always...regret using words like "always" and "never".
I usually...am not as focused as I should be.
I am not...many things. as thin as I used to be. as young as I used to be. as impatient as I used to be.
I miss...my babies.
I love...the people my babies grew up to be.
I rarely...have an empty head. Regardless of how it seems.
I cry...at cotton commercials, movies, books, moments, songs. But not as much as it might seem.
I lose...my temper while driving.
I should...eat better.
I worry...about health issues. Not that worrying changes anything.
I dream...of interesting things. To me anyway.
I was...waiting for the re-inspector when I started this and I'm still waiting. He did call though.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
BJ Higgins was 15 years old when his life here on earth ended. However, the brevity of his life did not stop him from living each day passionately, sharing God and His marvelous grace in every way he could. As I read his story, my heart ached. Not just for his parents and their tremendous loss but also for missed opportunities in my own life. As I finished the book, I realized that while BJ no longer walks this earth, his legacy leaves footprints on countless lives and his life challenges each one of us to live each day as if it were our last.
(Tulsa, OK) - "It's an honor just to be nominated": familiar words for Emmy and Grammy nominees. Still, Brent and Deanna Higgins never believed the phrase would pertain to their family. Outreach magazine has recently honored the Higgins' book, I Would Die for You, with a nomination as Outreach Resource of the Year.
That nomination, however, came with a great cost. I Would Die for You chronicles the life and death of their young son, BJ Higgins; along with his faith; his passion for missions and his love for God. Compelling excerpts from personal notes, blog entries school assignments and journals reveal his clear calling and enthusiasm for sharing the gospel of Christ. BJ's challenging words and example combine to inspire readers of all ages.
After returning from his second short-term international mission trip at the age of 15, BJ became seriously ill. Six days before his sixteenth birthday, he died. His story lives on throughout the pages of his parents' book.
In spite of the inevitable grief , Brent and Deanna share their son's message of selfless sacrifice through both I Would Die for You and Awe Star Ministries, the nonprofit ministry that coordinated his mission trips. Their prayer? That countless others will embrace BJ's vision and give their all for the cause of Christ.
About the Authors:
As an ordained minister and youth pastor, Brent Higgins continues the faith journey his son, BJ, began a few years ago. He currently serves as Vice President of International Operations for Awe Star Ministries, a Christian nonprofit organization committed to equipping believers for life, speaking to more than 25,000 people each year.
As an accomplished musician and elementary school music teacher, Deanna Higgins opens the next chapter of BJ's missionary work by serving alongside her husband to lead mission trips for Awe Star Ministries. Brent and Deanna now reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The New Normal: Facing Life after a Child's Death
by Marti Pieper
"Dad, I know you're scared. I believe the Lord will deliver me through this. But if he doesn't, I'm going home to be with him, and that's okay with me."--BJ Higgins, August 5, 2005
Brent and Deanna Higgins clung to these valiant words throughout their son's six-week hospitalization. BJ became ill with a mysterious infection after he returned from his second mission trip to Peru. His death on September 26, 2005, days before his sixteenth birthday, ushered their family (Brent, Deanna, and two college-aged daughters) into what they called the new normal: life without their beloved son and brother. The new normal also meant life without one who served as a role model for many, including his own family members. BJ's story and message of passionate obedience to Christ are chronicled in his parents' best-selling book, I Would Die for You: One Student's Story of Passion, Service, and Faith (Revell, 2008).
How do Brent and Deanna survive the new normal? The Higgins point to their relationship with God as the key. "The level of intimacy one truly has in a relationship with Christ is often reflected through the time of pain, suffering, and loss," says Brent, now vice president for international operations for their son's sending agency, Awe Star Ministries. He and Deanna recommend that others who face the loss of a child draw near to God. "When you do, He promises to draw near to you," Brent explains.
Drawing near to other people is important, too, Deanna says. "It helped to talk to other people about him, to remember who he was. Initially, just holding onto the people around us helped a lot."
Today, the Higgins lead teams of young missionaries like their son to take the Gospel of Christ to people around the world. More recently, God has opened the doors for ministry to others who have lost a child. "No two losses are exactly alike regardless of similar circumstances," says Brent. "I encourage parents to seek the Lord because He always listens."
"Everyone goes through it differently," says Deanna. "We each grieve in our own way, but God can handle our anger. He can handle anything." She urges other hurting parents to recognize the hope beyond their pain. "If you look, you'll find ways He's showing you He cares. He's showing you He's with you through it."
God's presence doesn't eliminate loneliness, however. The Higgins both admit that their work with students often brings back bittersweet memories of their son. "Certain students remind me of BJ in their passion for Christ, their hunger to know more," Brent says. At times, both Brent and Deanna find comfort in their son's journals (excerpted in the book) as well as videos and pictures of him. Music, an integral part of their family life, also serves as a source of strength.
Connecting with God and with others, especially young people like their son, helps them cope. Deanna says the loss of her son has left her more open to see the potential of these young men and women. Brent adds, "Before BJ passed, the things I taught were less experiential and more intellectual. The things the Lord has allowed me to walk through since that time have increased my own intensity and passion for seeing students truly understand what God calls them to do."
As part of a passionate declaration in one of his journals, BJ wrote, "It's time to raise a revolution. God will give me the strength." For his parents, the new normal means a commitment to extend his legacy--even when it hurts.
Parenting Tips from the Higgins
▪ Stay in the Word and in prayer if you expect your children to do so. Too many times, parents expect that the youth pastor is going to grow their children. You can’t expect your kids to live a lifestyle you’re not.
▪ Be sure you have a firm answer from God before you respond to your child about a request. For example, when BJ first wanted to serve overseas, our initial answer was “no,” but that was a knee-jerk reaction. Parents must be careful to hear from the Holy Spirit and not respond out of pure protectiveness or emotion.
▪ If at all possible, have a regular devotional time with your family. This should include prayer, not just rote prayer but significant time with God. This teaches kids how to pray and encourages them in their walk with the Lord
▪ Arrange to have dinner together as a family as often as you can. This gives you an opportunity to share as a family and also allows you to listen to your children. Kids won’t spill unless parents are willing to listen.
▪ Don’t be afraid to let your children fail. Sometimes kids need to try things and learn that failure is a part of life. They need all kinds of experiences as they move into adulthood.
▪ Encourage your children to be bold in their faith. Do activities as a family—mission trips and other projects—that require boldness. Encourage them to be involved in opportunities to share their faith.
▪ Listen, listen, and listen to your children. We say this humbly because we learned from our mistakes. Often your kids are telling you things by what they don’t tell you. (See the note about having dinner together above).
▪ When discouraging things happen, don’t remove your child’s opportunities to obey God. Your child’s relationship with God should never be used as a weapon. Opportunities for fellowship(youth group, etc.) shouldn’t be contingent on “good” behavior.
▪ If you make a commitment, follow through. If your child makes a commitment, help him or her follow through on it, too. The lesson here: your faithfulness sets an example for others.
▪ Practice what you preach to your children. Demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit through your love, kindness, etc. Although we weren’t (and aren’t) perfect parents, we tried to follow through in our lives with the things we taught our kids.
Monday, June 15, 2009
While on the surface this may not appear to be the happiest of verses, ultimately it offers all I need. In light of various health issues that have rumbled around our house lately, the only thing we know for certain is that He IS our portion and our strength FOREVER. We need nothing else.
Monday, June 8, 2009
However, recently Josh showed me this on youtube. As I watched and listened, it reminded me of a summer where there was not so much conflict between my brother and me. We had gone to a garage sale (back when they weren't common every weekend things) and he found an old 45 of this song. My mom bought it (I'm sure she regretted it daily) and we played it a thousand times that summer, singing at the top of our lungs and acting out the lyrics. So here's to happy summer memories...
Thursday, June 4, 2009
A little less than two years ago, I began blogging as an outlet for all the random things that are constantly circling around in my head. Since I blog about what I know (and maybe some things that I think I know but really don't...), most of people who read my blog know Jesus and have a relationship with Him. Which is a wonderful thing. But it also contributes to my insulated life.
You may have noticed that I now moderate my comments and I no longer allow anonymous bloggers. Recently I received some comments from someone who has a slightly different view of life than I do. My first reaction was to delete the comments (and I did) but when I received a third comment, I felt like I needed to address some of the things that she said. However, I did not feel completely equipped to respond to her ruminations. Fortunately, I was able to find someone who could.
The post in question was one I did in April entitled Finding Hope. Basically I talked about how our definition of hope in the United States compared with the hope that Compassion brings to children around the world. (Um...it doesn't compare.) Here are her comments:
"And what strings do "Compassion" attach to its aid? No, I'm seriously wondering. Because if strings, then aid DOES NOT EQUAL compassion; it equals MANIPULATION. And if indoctrination into the christian cult, then aid is the M.O. of "Compassion", then they're just doing a DISSERVICE to all of humanity. "
"the fact that you aren't able to answer my question shows what a sham the organization is, and what a sham your religion is. if Christianity is *really* the best way to live then you shouldn't have to trade food for religious info."
Here's the deal. While I know that these things are not true, I feel completely ill-equipped to answer them with any amount of authority. So, I emailed Shaun Groves (who knows all about Compassion) and this was his response:
Compassion serves children regardless of race, religion, politics, etc. Many children in our programs are Hindu, Muslim, Orthodox, etc. I've met them and their families - most of whom have not converted to Christianity and some who have. We do not ask for or require conversion in order to receive care. In part this is because Jesus never did such a thing. When he fed the five thousand, for instance, he did not require them to believe he was the Messiah first...or even afterward. This pattern is repeated throughout his ministry. However, every Compassion project is a local church so children and their parents do hear about Jesus and know that we are loving them because we believe Jesus first loved us.
When a Christian meets the physical needs of another human being it no more has to come with strings attached than when an atheist meets someones needs. An atheist doesn't require those he serves to renounce religion first does he? The same should be true of Christians and certainly is for Compassion. No one is trading their soul for a plate of rice, a mosquito net, HIV medication, education or a safe place to play. And it is strict Compassion policy that no one ever be asked to.
Lastly, Charity Navigators - a non-religious charity watchdog group - has given Compassion its highest rating for the last 7 years, which is every year Compassion has received a rating by this group. Compassion is the only non-profit in it's category (child aid, I believe it is) to receive this many consecutive four star ratings from Charity Navigators. The Wall Street Journal, though its magazine Smart Money, rated 600 U.S. based non-profits a few years back and ranked Compassion in the top ten of those, recommending them as one of the top ten organizations to contribute to. I could go on. In our fifty year history there has never even been an accusation of wrongdoing by any of the non-profits watchdogs or the media. Not one.
I wholeheartedly support Compassion and the work they do. I am grateful that they are able to go where I cannot and be the hands and feet of Jesus in ways that I can only dream about. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to support their ministry. And I love my sponsored girls as if they were my own.
I will be publishing Heather's comment on that particular post. I will also publish Shaun's response. Because I do want the truth to be known. And just so you know, the fact that a very busy complete stranger took the time to answer my questions only adds to Compassion's credibility. Thanks Shaun!