A Voice from Theater 9

Marie, who wrote this blog post, was one of the unsuspecting innocents sitting in theater 9, in Aurora, Colorado when the gunman opened fire. Here is her take on what happened and why it happened. BTW, just for the record, I agree with her wholeheartedly.

STEPcoach Bob
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SO YOU STILL THINK GOD IS A MERCIFUL GOD?!

(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

“So, you still believe in a merciful God?”  Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.

Yes.
Yes, I do indeed.
Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil.  God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.
Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings.  But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or  fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter.  In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.

We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional.  But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness.

I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:
Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise.

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.
Man is not.
Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.
Still grateful for this wonderful life,
Marie
Original blog post: http://aminiatureclaypot.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/so-you-still-think-god-is-a-merciful-god

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Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Guest Post: Playtime!

This is a very nice borrowed-with-permission article that I couldn’t resist sharing with you. It originally appeared in Simple Marriage blog at http://www.simplemarriage.net/playtime.html Stepfamilies are all parents – otherwise, you’d just be a couple. And I have been hearing so much lately about issues and clashes between husbands and wives about the kids, that I am pretty kid-minded. So when this post came my way I grabbed it to share with you. Enjoy. And let me know if and how this applies or helps your family.

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Playtime

 

Post written by Dr. Corey Allan.
Play has become a lost art in the adult world.
Perhaps even in the kid world … play is not be what it used to be.
Gone are the days of tag, chase, tackle the man with the ball, dodgeball, and the like.
Also gone are the “dangerous toys” like the metal Tonka trucks that are indestructible, the monkey bars that tower into the air, the tree house built way up in the tree with a homemade zip line going into the garage, and the metal slide that’s 4 stories tall with no side-rails and several bumps on the way down. Okay so the last one may be a bit of an exaggeration but it’s not far off.
Play serves a great purpose.
Remember when you used to call up your friends or head over to their house and greet them with “wanna play?” It didn’t matter what you played, you’d make it up.
Today it seems that play is all but dead. Especially in the adult world. Even parenting has been impacted.
Parenting often becomes more about the child’s achievement and directing towards goals – be it the child’s – or far more likely the parent’s goals.
Schools are doing away with recess in the belief that giving up play time will allow more time for study. Even preschoolers are not immune to this shift.
Through the 80’s and 90’s a 4 billion dollar industry sprang up … tutoring. With 26% of it being devoted for 2 to 6 year olds. Babies … who should be spending more time in imaginative play than structured learning.
Play develops a child’s cognitive skills.
By play, I mean true child directed play: free, unstructured play where the kids invent the activities that reflect their own curiosities and interests.
Too many children are parentified, or expected to become adults too fast. And too many adults have added too many stipulations and parameters to play – in short, they’ve lost the art of play.
Play is critical in a child’s life. According to David Elkind, play is vital in teaching a child how to control himself and interact with others.
But play is also important in the adult world.
It opens to door to new solutions and creative sparks. It adds passion and energy to life and marriage.
Researcher Jaak Panksepp believes play turns on hundreds of genes in the brain. Specifically, play stimulates neurogenesis to hasten the development of the frontal cortex in the brain.
Play is vital to the development of our children and the health of our families, but it is also vital to us as adults.
So what can you do today?
  1. Encourage your kids to play with other kids. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it doesn’t seem to happen that often. Many parentified children would rather play with adults than other kids. While this may seem mature and grown-up, anytime a kid plays with an adult, imagination and leadership skills are stifled. Adults often take charge or limit the imagination because we can’t compete with a child’s imagination level. When you do play with a child, let go of your imagination restrictions and let them take the lead. When they want you to be a princess or a prince who helps tame the nice dragon so you can fight the mean one, do it!
  2. Play with your kids everyday for at least 30 minutes. Spend time as a family playing. One of my favorite times each day is the wrestling time I get with my daughter and son. My son, before he could even talk, would walk over to the floor and point meaning “it’s time to wrestle dad!” Before long, my daughter and my wife would be in the mix. Now that he’s 5 he just runs and jumps on me anytime I’m within range. It’s a great bonding time as well as a testing of my children’s strength and abilities.
  3. Take your kids out of school for a day. You don’t have to do this too often, but take your kids someplace instead of school. You could even incorporate some learning opportunities into this. Visit the zoo, the aquarium, local museums, or galleries. You could even go to the park. Give them an unexpected break from their normal structure and spend the time together.
  4. Play with your spouse. Pull out the games after the kids are in bed, or go outside ride bikes together. Build a blanket fort in the living room. Point is, you don’t have to be structured in every aspect of your life … just play.
Now … off you go. Have fun storming the castle!
Published in: on July 12, 2012 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Out of Africa — Truth

[This interesting article is respectfully borrowed from www.ghanaweb.com/]

Akumaa Kicks Against Sex Before Marriage

Ace radio sex educationist and presenter, Akumaa Mama Zimbi, born Joyce Dongotey-Padi, has started what can be described as a campaign against those who find delight and believe in the idea of having sex before marriage.

For several years, the veteran actress has been noted for promoting a good sex lifestyle. But this time, she seems to have shifted her attention to the appropriate time to have good sex; and according to her, that is after marriage.

Mama Zimbi has hence been begging young girls and unmarried individuals to stay away from sex prior to marriage. She implored ladies to close their thighs and be watchful of men who were always s ready to have sex, pleading with men to flee the temptation of women until marriage.

Mama Zimbi, who has been hosting ‘Odo Ahumasuo’, an adult education sex programme on Adom FM, has taken her cause to social network, Facebook. She recently posted, “How many guys have toasted, tested and tasted you and promised that they will marry you? Close those beautiful thighs of yours, and save the rest for the best person who will honour you. No marriage no sex…medaase…”

“Let her know that you are a changed guy now and you refuse to always give in to her temptation. Flee and let her know that no marriage no sex,” she said to the guys. Zimbi’s comments have generated a lot of varying opinions on Facebook. While some supported Akumaa’s call against sex before marriage, others kicked against it.

“Mama Zimbi please don’t pollute the minds of our ladies let them enjoy themselves,” one Adjei Augustine commented. “No tasting no buying. If you won’t allow me to taste then how can I know the palm wine is flesh and taste nice?” another guy, Danny White questioned. A lot of couples say they live together before marriage to see if they are compatible as they don’t want to divorce later.

Unconfirmed statistics however show that those who live together before marriage are more likely to get a divorce than those who do not. Mama Zimbi was last in the news for telling Beatwaves that she witnessed live a couple having sexual intercourse.

Akumaa is also the CEO of a widow’s organization called Widows Alliance Network (WANE) which has over the years focused on sustaining the economic development of widows and educating them as well.

Published in: on November 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

5 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Marriage in 2011

For me, 2010 was a year of personal discovery.
Mr. Right and my two step kids came along for the ride.
We accomplished some awesome personal goals. We found and donated a meteorite. We dealt with heartache on a level you may never understand if you are not divorced or raising kids from a previous marriage.
At times, we felt anger, fear and resentment toward each other.
But not more than we felt happiness, love and contentment.
The scales tipped in our favor.
With the end of year near, I wanted to share some things that improved my marriage in 2010. When I sat down to write this post, I realized the improvements didn’t directly involve Mr. Right. While things like date nights, having sex and communication no doubt improve a marriage, the things that really made a difference were much more unique.
All of the ideas on this list helped us grow – both as a couple – and as individuals.
Today, we are deeper in love.
And here’s a bold statement, but a true one:
We are happier today than we were on our wedding day.
Why? Because we’ve each made an effort to take the bad in life and improve it. Which has affected everything –  our marriage, our kids, ourselves.
Here are five surprising ways to improve your marriage and inspire those around you:

Get out of debt.

This year, we finally did it. With the final car payment made, we demolished our $42,000 debt snowball. Besides our mortgage, we are completely debt free; for the first time since we met, we have money in savings. That’s an amazing feeling.
Don’t be deceived – the process to get out of debt wasn’t easy. At times, we argued. The kids asked, “Are we poor now?” There were months we totally blew our budget.
The good news is – it’s possible. Even if you’re a twit about money, like me. Learn more by reading:
The Married Money Management series by Dustin @Engaged Marriage.
Get Out of Debt with the Debt Snowball Plan by Dave Ramsey.

Quit your day job.

Before you jump to conclusions about this tip, hear me out.
This June, I quit my day job. Up until then, our family lived within a whir of constant chaos. We were stressed out, burned out, used up.  We were doing a lot of things, but nothing very well.
By getting out of debt, we were able to downsize our lifestyle to live on one income. This let me opt out of the rat race to be at home. Now, I work on freelance projects while the kids are at school.
When they come home, I switch into mortar mode – taking care of the homework, teacher’s notes, dinner and cleaning up before Mr. Right even walks through the door.
It’s improved our life in a major way. We’re all a lot less stressed.
Here’s the post that made me believe I could quit.

Try minimalism.

Getting out of debt and living a downsized lifestyle are related to minimalism. If you’ve never learned about it but want to try, my advice is to start small.
For instance, I’m just wrapping up a minimalist clothing experiment myself. The idea was to wear only 33 items for 3 months. My take on it?
I like it.
A lot.
I’ll never go back to my bloated closet again. Sometime in January, I’m giving away most of the clothes I now realize I don’t need or use.
If you want to learn more about how to minimize areas of your life, read:
The Dress with Less Challenge by Courtney Carver
A Guide to Creating a Minimalist Home by Leo Babauta
101 Physical Things That Can Be Reduced In Your Home by Joshua Becker

Each week, go on a digital sabbatical.

Instead of spending the weekend trolling Facebook, zoned out to another reality TV show or Tweeting – turn it all off and actually live your life. Be present with your kids. Talk to your spouse. Hear your own thoughts. Disconnect from distraction at least once a week and notice how peace descends.

Shrug off the burden of doing it all.

This world is filled with pressure.
Pressure to be skinny, pressure to get kids involved, pressure to be happy.
I felt it all the time before some of the changes above. I pushed myself to be productive. My house was spotless. My schedule, tightly packed.
I was also stressed to the max, irritable and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Now, I’m still productive. I still take on a lot. Instead, I get to choose what to carry. I’ve shrugged off the world’s burden of doing it all.
My message to you is simple, just like the title of this blog.
If you want a better marriage, do things that improve your life and future. If you’re unhappy, get off the couch and do something about it. I’m not saying that to be mean or arrogant, though it might sound that way. I’m telling you this because years ago, a certain girl I know really needed to hear it. Maybe you need to hear it now.
New year, new you?
You decide.
ABOUT THE WRITER

Melissa is a step mom, wife, editor, columnist and laundry fairy who decided to focus on amazing work this year by doing what she loves: writing. She hopes to inspire others through her blog, Peace & Projects, by sharing what makes her tick: fitness, organizing, simplifying, loving, learning and getting stuff done. She and Mr. Right are dedicated to making their blended family work for almost eight years now. So are: Little Boy, Little Girl and The Dog. Read her full bio here.
Published in: on January 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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