Saturday, July 29, 2006

Extreme Home Makeover is here!!!

It took those deadly tornadoes in April to get them here, but they are here. They arrived yesterday and my daughter gets to deliver Starbucks coffee to them this weekend! So cool. I am so happy for this family, yet somewhat saddened by the demolished homes all around theirs.

Here's the story and a couple of stories behind the story.

Extreme Home Makeover comes to Hendersonville



Mom's a Hero


Original Story of Amy Hawkins

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My forward of the day *warning: another soapbox issue!*

I checked this out on Snopes.com. Apparently, this DID happen, but it happened a year ago shortly after the bombings in London. This is written a little differently-with more editorial from the author, but I AGREE! Wish those politicians would get their collective noses out of the buts of the politically correct and DO something. Anyway, here is the Snopes.com version: http://snopes.com/politics/religion/australia.asp

Also, if you want to know what's going on in Isreal that you don't hear from tha mainstream press, check out Israellycool.com.

I don't send very many forwards, I know not many of you have the time for them. But occasionally, one comes along that rings so true or is so inspirational that I do click on your names and send it. Some of you, may be grateful to get anything from me at all *sheepish grin* and others may be rolling your eyes at another forward. Hear me out on this one though okay? I really think our government has dropped the ball on this issue and it's time for American's to let them know it. The more people get fired up about this, the more they will let their representatives know how they feel. We are in such a dangerous position if our government doesn't do something to protect us!

*joy steps off the soap box and gives the podium to the author of the following message:*



READ BELOW AND GIVE IT A LOT OF THOUGHT.

THEN, PLEASE, PASS IT ON.





Subject: THREE CHEERS FOR AUSTRALIA




I wish the leaders of our country would take a stand like Australia. Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown.

Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state and its laws were made by parliament. "If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you," he said on national television.

"I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that is false. If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option," Costello said.

Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country. Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should "clear off". "Basically, people who don't want to be Australians, and they don't want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then they can basically clear off," he said. Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. AMERICA and Canada..... ARE YOU LISTENING?
Quote:

IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.

However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia.

However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of Australia being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom. We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push but a fact because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, Because God is part of our culture.
We will accept your beliefs and will not question why, all we ask is that you accept ours and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us. If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don't like " A Fair Go", then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. By all means keep your culture but do not force it on others.

This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, "THE RIGHT TO LEAVE". If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.

Pretty easy really, when you think about it. I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later get back to the complainers, lets all try, please.

PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE, PERHAPS WE CAN CREATE A GROUND SWELL AND SEND OUR U.S. & CANADIAN POLITICIANS THE MESSAGE THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF US BELIEVE AS THE AUSSIES DO......

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stop the insanity-please!!!

I try not to get into politics on here, but this post is definately political. This is MY blog and MY opinion. If you don't agree, you may leave.

I recieved a newsletter from our State Senator yesterday. I voted for her, I know her personally, I like her, I do believe she is the last person in a political office that is NOT a politician. She is a nurse and deeply cares for her constituents. But this is NOT a comment on her or her time in office. I just want to give a point of reference to my beliefs without mentioning parties and such.

In this newsletter, she tells about all the good things that were accomplished during this last session (that ended in June I believe). One of the things was that the state of Tennessee passed a law banning protesters from funerals.

Okay, I'm really sorry, I know this HAS been going on lately, but WHO the heck protests a funeral???? What kind of sick, stupid, sorry, SOB, would do such a thing? And why the heck should we have to have another law (using taxpayers money to pay for the time and paperwork to get the thing passed, on the books, and enforced) to tell them it's wrong????

*Joy steps down and smooths her feathers, sighs deeply and moves on*

My husband is a dyed-in-the-wool "x". I usually vote that way myself. But my views are more aligned, no pretty well completely aligned, with a smaller, less known party that never wins. I vote for "x" party as the least objectionable choice that CAN win. I believe that the government should run our military and other such infrastructure and stay the heck out of people's lives. There are things I believe should be illegal, but for the most part, I feel the government has no right to dictate how we should live or raise our children. If Billy Jack wants to drive without a seatbelt and has a wreck that throws him from the car...he should darn well have the right to do so. Should the car companies be required to put seatbelts in cars??? Most definately.

But here's the rub. You always have those stupid, ignorant, idiots with no common sense that have to be told how to act. Society used to do that. Those people were shunned, preached at, and basically controlled by those around them through social pressure. We can't do that anymore. It is politically incorrect to do so. So now we have more and more intrusion by the government in order to keep the idiots in check. Knock, knock, HELLO! Anybody home? IT'S NOT WORKING!!!


The point is that the governments hand in everything removes our freedoms. If society is not allowed to repress the immoral minority while they are a minority, then it spreads. If no one thinks it's wrong, they will join in on the bad behavior.
The government steps in, but they don't really change the mentality of the situation. The scenario worsens, so the government passes more laws and more and more.... Before long you have a society of immoral, criminally minded, who no longer provide for themselves, demand handouts as their "right", and those who ARE still sane wondering how long before their own rights are violated in order to protect the nutcases.

Every day our government grows bigger and more intrusive. Yes they give an awful lot to the "poor"( I won't get started on that one, I'm sure you know where I stand on welfare at this point) but in return they take away freedoms. Some things seem good, but it's like letting a crook get his foot in the door. He just keeps pushing and pushing to come in farther and farther.

If the government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take it all away.

More insanities: Public education and truancy laws. The NEA completely owns the political process on this one. I asked my senator friend about it and she said the issue I am about to address comes up every year and never makes it out of committee because the party in control is "owned" (my word not hers) by the TEA. Does it not make sense that if they would give vouchers, or completely privatize the education system, that competition would make or break schools? Is it not common sense that this would eliminate the bad schools because everyone would flock to the good schools with their money? Of course! The problem (as far as the TEA/NEA is that you would also have all the children being religiously indoctrinated as those of us who disagree with the humanistic/atheistic world veiw would flock to the religious schools of our choice. I'm sure Muslim and Jewish families would do the same. Hmmm. What kind of difference would our children make to society when they are grown if they were allowed to learn, if not Godly, at least moral principles? Would a majority with judeo-christian ethics emerge? Most likely. Of course kids will still make their own choices about things, but I certainly think schools would go back to the way they were before prayer and corporal punishment were taken out. Discipline problems would go way down. Oh I could go on and on with this.

Now, not only does the government take my money to pay for schools that I don't want to send my kids to, but they take me to court at my expense if the kids miss more than 5 unexcused days per semester. I feel so sorry for parents whose kids skip school on a regular basis. I have two in public school becuase I can't afford private schools, and two in homeschool. I do not take my kids to the doctor everytime they have a cold, so the two in public school usually do end up with a few unexcused absences. This is strictly a money issue since the school district gets funding for each child in attendance each day. I don't advocate my kids missing school, but this is a ridiculous law and is one very big reason why I have Mommy dates (those of you who know me, know what this is). It's my way of blowing rasberries at public education. As a homeschooler, I am required to log 180 days per year of school (with a certain number of hours on these days, but I can't remember how much). This in itself is stupid because I consider LIFE itself to be an education and it doesn't take near as long to teach 1 or 2 children as it does to teach 20. *Joy shakes her head in disbelief* When will the insanity stop?

Marana-tha!!!!

Mr. and Mrs. Newlyweds

A very dear friend of mine got married Sunday. It was a much deserved and long awaited moment of happiness for her. I went to the wedding and got a moment alone with her and her new husband and prayed over them. She and I cried as we relived, in those few minutes, the last few years of her life as her first husband left her, divorced her and tried mercilessly to take her son out of her life. She has been through terrible poverty, an illness that had her fearful of her life, and a constant fear of losing her son.

I did not photograph her wedding, but I did get a few shots of them afterwards. Don't they look happy?






K and J, I wish you a lifetime...! Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 24, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

Not who I would have said, but amazingly true

Considering that everyone who knows anything about me at all knows what part "pot smokers" play in my life story. My friends all tease me about being mellow.





I picked these up from Kpjara at Can You Hear Me Now? Mine seemed to fit, but don't take them too seriously, they lean toward the morose absurd. :-D

Friday, July 14, 2006

HE LICKED IT!!!!!

This one is for Grafted Branch who wrote about this just a couple of days ago.
 
My son, immediately upon recieving the keys to his first car last night, ran up to it and LICKED IT! He said, "he who licks it, owns it." Needless to say this has to be the funniest use of this logic to date...and maybe the grossest! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Boy Becomes A Man

 
A full year before the Government recognizes my son as an adult, I know from experience that today will be the day. Today, my son turns 17 and for his gift, he will recieve his first car. Today, when we hand him those keys, I know I will cry. My boy, my second smallest baby, the constant source of storytelling in our family, will be given his freedom to become a man. The first time he drives out of our driveway, will be the first time he leaves the nest. For the next couple of years he will be like a fledgling, but he will begin with this car, learning to bear responsibility like a man.

I know this in itself does not make him a man, but (as a warning to all those who have yet to experience this) with the first car comes responsibility, a job, and freedom to come and go. Yes, there will be the standard restrictions set in place by us, as parents, and society, but I have learned that by the time this day comes, they have long ago learned that they have a will. With a car, comes a greater ability to excercize said "will".

I was shocked when my oldest daughter got her first car and that was basically when our life with her ended. It wasn't a gradual separation as it had been till that point, nor was it sudden, but it was like the saw that had been used to cut the apron strings had suddenly become a power saw. She still lives here four years later, but we rarely see her between her working and her social life.

I didn't realize it would happen so fast and I was left reeling. With the car came a job and we no longer had to take her to school functions and social engagements. I hadn't realize how much time a job would take or that her driving herself would take away from time we had with her. Now I know. Now I am prepared at least intellectually, but emotionally, I do not want to go through this again.

I haven't had to experience (thank you, Lord, and please protect my other 3 children)a rebellious child, but I was one myself. No amount of rules or restrictions can hold a child back if they decide to go, unless they break the law and end up in jail. Only respect holds them back at this point. Let me tell you, I have seen this boy, who is 6 feet tall and probably 275 lbs, excersize great restraint out of respect for me. I have seen the set jaw and the balled fists as he submitted to my 5'4" self ground and even spank him. He KNEW he could easily overtake me, but out of respect for me, he held himself in check and submitted to the correction.

My boy, my sweet tiny baby. At 2 we had to make him stop throwing balls of any kind in the house because he threw too hard. By the time he was 8, he had made a name for himself in the local baseball league. The one who kept terrorizing the cats. The one who "sacrificed" his daddy's brand new jeans while dancing around and covering them in glue. The one child that gave me more stories to tell by being SO mischievous while wearing the most disarming grin.

Now, he is the one that towers over me. The one that helps me when I can't reach things. The one who does things for me that I am too weak to do. The one who already takes on a great deal of responsibility for things around the house. The one who at one point would not let me hug him and who now will offer them at rare, but easy moments. I treasure each and every one.

Hthinks he is not the handsomest, but I know what is in his heart. He has a great capacity for love. He hides it out of his insecurities, but I know it is there. It is for this I pray for him-friends and someday a wife that will see the heart in him and love him all the more for it.

On the surface, he is so logical and non-chalant, but there is a depth to him that isn't easy to see. He is so intelligent-having a bent for math and science like his father, but he has artistic and creative abilities as well, like me.

Happy birthday my son and on this day we pass a torch on to you. You won't carry it fully right away, you will have some growing to do yet. But this torch is one that you must take. It comes with GREAT responsibility-perhaps to the point of death. There are times when a man must stand boldly between those he cares about and danger, even in the face of death. There are times when a man must work himself to exhaustion to provide for himself and his own. And someday, a man must stand before his God and account for his family because he is their spiritual head and is responsible for their spiritual training. This is the weight a man must bear. It is a heavy burden that will seem unbearable at times. Now it is time for you to take that torch and learn to carry it. You are capable and you are equipped. And now you have the tool you will need to find your place in the world.

A car? It doesn't seem like much to us anymore. But imagine being without one for the next 17 years and having someone give you one. He's gonna love it! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Genesis to Exodus

The story of how a straight, married, mom of five ended up at an Exodus Conference.

Fear of the church drives the sexually broken underground and away from the God. I have come to believe that the church should be a safe place for the sexually broken to come for help and healing. While same sex attraction was not my own story, I believe mine is just as common, but possibly less known. I feel it is time for the church to pull its head out of the sand and engage Satan in this attack. I believe he has used the internet and current technology to further drive this issue underground and make it more easily accessible.

· Approximately 40 million people in the United States are sexually involved with the Internet
Exposing Porn: Science, Religion, and the New Addiction, Paul Strand. Christian Broadcasting Network, 2004.
· 72 million Internet users visit pornography web sites per year
Pornography Statistics 2003. Internet Filter Review. www.internetfilterreview.com, 2003.
· Sex is the number 1 topic searched on the Internet
Overdosing on Porn, Rebecca Hagelin. www.worldandi.com, March, 2004.
· 34 percent of churchgoing women said they have intentionally visited porn websites online
Internet porn a guy thing? Not really, online rating service says, Mark O’Keefe. The Charlotte Observer.
· At least 20,000 American adults visit Internet sex sites at least 11 hours per week
Victims of Pornography Month Should Not Exist, Jan Larue. Christian Counseling Today, 2003 Vol. 11 No. 3.
· 15 percent of online porn habitu├ęs develop sexual behavior that disrupts their lives
The Porn Factor, Pamela Paul. www.time.com. 19 January, 2004.
· 9.3 million women access adult websites each month
Internet Pornography Statistics. Internet Filter Review, 2004.
· 70% of 18 to 24 year old men visit pornographic sites in a typical month. 66% of men in their 20s and 30s also report being regular users of pornography.
First-person: the culture of pornography, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Baptist Press, 28 December 2005.
· For every 10 men in church, 5 are struggling with pornography
The Call to Biblical Manhood. Man in the Mirror, 6 July, 2004.
· Median age for the first use of pornography: boys: 11-13 girls: 12-14
Your Children & Pornography: A guide for Parents, Tom Buford. Tommera Press, 2001.
· 47.78 percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home
Focus on the Family Poll, 1 October, 2003.
· One out of every six women grapples with addiction to pornography
Internet Pornography and Loneliness: An Association? Vincent Cyrus Yoder, Thomas B. Virden III, and Kiran Amin. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, Volume 12.1, 2005.
T
hese are just a few of the statistics on pornography listed at http://www.nationalcoalition.org/resourcesservices/stat.html. There are literally thousands of such statistics on many different sexual issues. I specifically highlighted the ones about women and churched men. There are also statistics available concerning pastors and porn/sex addictions “54 percent of pastors said they viewed porn within the past year in a Pastors.com survey…” says an article at http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/pastors/1336107.html.

Then there are the issues of homosexuality, sex addiction, and on top of all of that is the issues relating to teens. I learned at Exodus that it is a trend among teens to be bisexual until they figure out what they want and more specifically among young women to be Lesbian Until Graduation (L.U.G.). Yes, it even has a name.

My own story is not very different from those who I met and spoke with at Exodus. I worshipped my father as a little girl and thought I was a daddy’s girl, but when I was 10 he left us and by the time I was 16 had another family complete with a stepdaughter who was my age. To this day I have to deal with that rejection and the fact that she and her children have MY daddy! It angers me still and I have to continually forgive, even though I like them all. At 11, I was introduced to pornography when a friend and I stumbled over a family member’s stash. I remember yearning for the attention the women in the pictures were getting. Even though I was too young to really understand the sexual nature of it all, I DID understand the intimacy that it represented. Later, I became a promiscuous teen with a tendency for older, dominant men (which at times was dangerous). I just knew each guy was going to love me if I just gave him what he wanted. After a while, I became so numb to it all that I thought the only way I could be with a guy was to offer him sex. Beyond that I would lie to myself, and everyone around me, that I was the one pursuing, but each time left a hole in me. I rededicated my life to Christ at 22. It was about that time that I met my husband. We married and lived a perfectly Christian life until I was about 29. Shane was working 65-70 hours a week managing a restaurant AND going to school. I was home alone with 5 small children and VERY lonely. I don’t think I realize how unloved I felt. But when I discovered the internet, I quickly found the attention I craved. Someday I may share that story, but it's not time yet. It is really a beautiful story of God’s intervention involving an attempt to end my own life. (not quite suicide, but close)

That being said, I believe God has put me in a safe place by urging me to reach out to homosexuals. It’s not so safe that I can’t identify, but safe enough that on a regular basis, it will not be a struggle for me. Here’s how it came about.

My oldest daughter had this group of friends that she had been very close to since middle school. This group included one boy. They all had their suspicions about him and he did finally come out to them in their senior year. My daughter has stayed friends with him and through him has met, probably, every gay man in our city, and many in Nashville. She is 20 now and while they all know she is a Christian, they love her and flock to her. She prays for them and has such a love for them, but really is burdened with some of the things she has seen. For one thing, She has been very anti-church for the reason that she has seen how the church treats people (this was a common theme at Exodus). She has met young men who were thrown out of their homes, rejected by family and church, and forced into prostituting themselves or making gay porn films.

About the same time my daughter was sharing this with me, The End Of The Spear came out and there was a controversy among Christians about it concerning the lead actor being gay. I got an e-mail from our homeschool group calling for a boycott of this movie. I blew up. I threw an e-mail back at the group saying basically what hypocrites Christians are and that this was an amazing story that we should support so that more people could hear it. I mean this movie is about a modern day gospel! Men that gave their lives so others could live…I just couldn’t believe that Christians couldn’t even agree amongst themselves on that. I realized what I had done after the fact and fully expected that I had stirred up a hornets’ nest. Well, according to some I did, but God spared me from it. The only replies I received were all “you go, girl” except for one. The one caused me to dig deep into my Bible. I just could not find anything to support the “we need to stand up to those who are in our face” mentality. All I could find was that we are to love God, love others and share the gospel-that we would always have those that hate us, and that Jesus, when they were all up in his face, said nothing and went to the cross. God was working on me.

I wrote all of this in a small “book” of an e-mail to a man that I found in Nashville who had an Exodus affiliate ministry. I never expected him to write me back. I just felt better by putting it into words. He did write back with the words “call me, let’s talk”.

I didn’t want to at first. It was like wanting to go parachuting all your life and then when you have the opportunity, realizing that you’re afraid to. I didn’t know there was fear there until faced with it. I put it off for a couple of weeks and finally made the call. I met with the director from the Sight ministry and he told me his story. I felt that God wanted me to tell him mine. In doing so, He confirmed that He had brought us together. The director immediately got me involved.

At one of the meetings I went to I met a woman and started talking to her when the subject of the Exodus conference came up. She said, “you should go, they are awesome.” I didn’t think anything more about it. Then Richard sent an e-mail to everyone on his list about it. I still didn’t think anything about it. I never go to anything because there is no money and I have 5 kids. Out of the blue I got the idea that I SHOULD go. I didn't even know why, but I now know where the idea came from now. I mentioned it to an older, well-respected woman at church and told her that I would have to do fundraising in order to go cause it was expensive. Then I prayed during church, “God if you want me to go, you are going to have to tell me and provide the money. I absolutely don’t have it.” After church, that lady came up to me and said if I went, she would give me $100 toward it.

Okay, God.

I put out flyers that I was raising money for this and would do photo shoots for it. I got calls immediately.

Okay, God.

I applied for a scholarship leaving the amount requested blank. I didn’t know how much I would get for fundraising and I prayed that God would just provide what I needed. They approved me for $250-just enough for what was left.

Okay God.

When I got there I realized that I had more resources I wanted to buy than I had funds for. I mentioned it to my mom over the phone. She said she wanted to put $50 in my account for them. I never asked her to, nor did I intend for her to.

Over and over again, God has confirmed that this was the direction I was to go. I questioned this after the church “change” was proposed. It left me unsure as to where God was going with this. The next day, I received a call for another photo shoot, when I hadn’t put out any more flyers for over a week.

So this is where I am now: I believe God wants my church to be proactive in this area, beginning with homosexuals and moving later on into other areas of sexual brokenness as people who are healthy enough to deal with them come on board. I feel it is URGENT that we begin to address this with the youth because that’s where it begins. They are taking this path younger and younger-nevermind that they aren’t even supposed to be thinking about sex yet, they not only have to deal with whether or not they should have sex, but now struggle with which sex they are going to be attracted to. It’s not even so much an issue to them whether or not they should have sex anymore. Can you imagine what a burden that is to a young person-especially one who has been in church and knows the truth, but has these feelings the world is telling them not to deny?

We also need to quickly deal with the fact that the church is God’s plan for healing. It should be the FIRST place one would turn to for healing and support. Specifically, parents of homosexuals should never feel they have to hide their pain from church family. So often the church’s stance on the issue leaves them feeling shame and afraid to share their burden. These families should be surrounded by friends and family willing to lift them up in prayer- who care so much about their children that they will ask about them and pray for them continuously.

Ministries like the Sight ministry (that I am involved with) are in place to teach and counsel homosexuals. I believe support of this ministry would be a beneficial tie to the homosexual community as well as a reference for those who need counsel. People coming out of the lifestyle need safe churches to be plugged into, families to include them and make them feel a part of the church, and straight individuals who volunteer and receive training to hold them accountable and affirm their gender. But since they also need knowledgeable people to teach them how to deal with what they are going through, which is where we refer the ones who aren’t already plugged into a counseling group to the Sight Ministry.

We should cultivate small groups should not only include them, but actively pursue their participation. I believe that there should be a leadership, that is directly accountable to the pastors who can keep watch over the accountability program and keep it safe. If problems arise between a struggler and an accountability volunteer, the leadership would be the ones to address the issue and make necessary changes.

I feel that there should be some means in place to require a commitment from the struggler so they understand that though they are always welcome at church, the only way we can help them heal, is if they are willing to commit and work at it.

And ultimately, what should become the foundation of this ministry, we should offer education, either through videos, guest speakers, and studies beginning with young parents. I learned at Exodus that many of the reasons a person becomes homosexual CAN be averted through education. In fact, there are many that go so far as to believe that the majority of homosexuality is preventable! In order to do so, parents need to be taught about the stages of development and their participation in those stages, from birth.

The first things I would like to see my church do is to prepare the church on this issue and how to address it, and become a member of the Exodus Church Network. This requires a $50 annual membership fee, a contact person who has been free from sexual immorality for 3 years, and a leadership board.

I have brought back page after page of notes, handouts, videos and CD’s of information. I intend to share this information with my own church. At Exodus, they expressed a desire to “come home”. The ex-homosexual community has, in the past, avoided church like a plague, but has come to see that the church was God’s original plan to affect healing. This is why the Exodus Church Network was launched this weekend and why I believe God put this on my heart to begin with. This is a HUGE issue. It has been ignored or had scripture thrown at it like stones, but rarely is Jesus used to address it. The kingdom of God is not expanded through judgment and rejection.

I wondered why God had put this on my heart only to rearrange my church. I wasn’t sure what God wanted to do with my going to Exodus and the church change, but I am trusting Him and He told me to go and bring what I learned back to my pastor. Beyond that I am resting on faith that God will continue to direct my path as He already has. With the heavy burden I have been carrying over the last few months, it is my hope that they will allow me to do something within the church to move us in this direction. While I do have a vision for this, I don’t really know how God wants to carry it out. In other words, I carry this on my heart, I have a vision, I am willing, I lack direction but I’m offering whatever I have and can do. I understand my place in this-which may be nothing. God may have had me do all of this just to bring it home to them.