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Encounter Hope in Relationships

February 1st, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

HOPE.  We all have faith in something, & yet it is not until all hope is lost that we even realize we had it.  You see, as a child, I knew I was tremendously blessed by God.  After all, He gave me the perfect mom & dad, ten sisters, two obnoxious brothers, the greatest friends on the planet, the best Godmothers in the world, a church family that I could call home, & even a puppy!  My life was perfect!  I was raised in a family where having a relationship with God was most essential.  What could be better?

On October 27, 2011, my perfect world was abruptly interrupted.  I was a senior in high school making plans for the next phase of my life – college.  On what seemed like another ordinary day, ended horrifically when my dad passed away.  For several years I battled with some mental and spiritual confusion.  I could not understand why God would take my dad away from me so soon, & especially during a time when I needed him the most.  My perfect world was now flawed.  All hope was lost.

I had very little desire to go away to school, but I still went.  Slowly but surely, God began to send down His peace to comfort me as I transitioned through life without my dad.  I traveled with a gospel choir, where I was encouraged to draw close to God.  It was during that time that I adopted my life verse (Hebrews 10:23), & met the love of my life, Bobby Seagears.  God was beginning to restore my hope, but not like my childhood hope.  Rather, it was a hope in something greater than me.  More than just simple expectations, hope is a feeling of trust.  I knew I needed to place my trust in “someone” beyond man, & I prayed my way toward a supernatural intervention.  The moment I allowed God into my life as Savior & Lord, was the moment my life changed for the better.

I have been married for seven months now, & have moved to a completely different state.  I joined a new church, became involved in new ministries, & had to open up to meet new people & make new friends.  This has been the greatest challenge I have ever faced.  Encountering change has never really been my strong point.  I was willing to come, because of the commitment I made to God and Bobby, but still there was hesitation. I was scared, feeling like I left behind my whole life.  Each day I stayed in God’s Word and prayed for Him to help me, & each day God answered my prayer. This was so much easier said than done.  Most days consisted of crying spells, dramatic mood swings, & feelings of sadness.  Nonetheless, with encouragement & support of my husband, I persevered.  God has blessed me with a job in the church.  Through serving in the young adult ministry, I have developed new friendships that will last the rest of my life.  Joining the choir is the outlet God has given me to worship Him through my most challenging days.  It’s what keeps me going!  How did I find hope in new things?  God’s Word gives me hope. He promised He would never forsake me or place a load on me that was too heavy to carry.  If God restored my joy after losing my dad, I knew & believed that there was nothing too hard for Him to do in my life.  I still face challenges even to this day, but according to God’s track record, I will be alright.  His Word reminds me to hold unwaveringly to the hope that I confess, for the One who made the promise is faithful!  (Hebrews 10:23)

-Written by Hilari Seagears

Encounter Hope in Disappointment

January 15th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

When I think back on our journey through infertility, I stand amazed at how God was always there comforting, reassuring, and leading us by His hand.  Those that know me well know that I will research something to pieces.  When we were thrown into the “unexplained category”, infertility became that research obsession.  I looked through most scientific journals, questioned doctors until I am sure they would have happily referred me elsewhere, and begged the Lord for a reason why this was happening to us.

When medical treatments failed and things came back inconclusive, the gamut of emotions and questions only heightened.  I remember sitting in the bedroom that we had painted (by faith), surrounded by the purchased furniture for our future child (by faith), and I began crying out to the Lord in the center of that room.  As tears ran down my face, God reached down and placed a hope in my heart that only He can provide.  Infertility did not define me or our future family.  I started recalling conversations that Kelly and I would have early on in our marriage about how we wanted to adopt at some point in our future, even if we were given the opportunity to have biological children.  I realized then that God had already planted adoption within us.

God allowed us to adopt two amazing children who have been our greatest joy.  During seasons of peace or seasons of storms, the Lord remained close.  Adoption, for us, is a beautiful depiction of how God unconditionally loves.  It does not matter where we come from, what we look like, or how “damaged” we seem.  He scoops us up, makes us His, and gives us a new identity in Him.

There are not enough words to explain how our lives have been changed through our experiences.  Our specific journey includes maneuvering around legal guardianship, to watching the pain of a biological family member freely terminating their own rights, and finally to a temporary relationship with a biological family that lovingly chose to hand their infant over upon birth.  We have concluded that faith is the foundation of it all.  Trusting the Lord with the details and allowing ourselves to be used by Him is at the heart of foster care, adoption, or even temporary guardianship.

So, because of our personal journey, we are motivated to helping others.  One ministry we are passionate about is FORTify, a support ministry for foster children, foster/adopt families, and biological families.  Helping children and families in crisis repair a home or build a forever home like ours, we feel, is not only an honor, but a calling.  Family is God’s heart, and we desire to see families healthy and whole.  It is our ultimate mission to help children in our community to live in a nourishing home full of God’s love just as He has filled our home.

In our family, we want our children to understand that they do not have to feel “lucky” to be where they are today.  Adoption is already inherently ours, through God’s plan, and we are just living that out.  We want them to know that even though we may look different from each other, and our DNA does not match, our love is theirs, and it was already theirs before we even met.

To learn more about FORTify, please visit:

www.fortifyga.org

Facebook page – FORTify GA

Email – fortifygeorgia@gmailcom

Call 770-228-2307 ext. 311

-Written by Jaime Kitchens

Encounter Family in Chaos

November 23rd, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Every family has them and every holiday exposes them: chaotic, crazy family members. As someone once said with a very pronounced southern accent, “In the south, we don’t ask if you have crazy people in your family.  We just ask which side they are on!” It doesn’t matter if you are from the north, south, east, or west.  We all have crazy people in our families, and the holidays don’t just bring them all together, the holidays bring them together in rare form. Any time there are gatherings of family, there is a great opportunity for disaster or total unexpected hilarious fun.  You decide: will you look at the shenanigans as disaster, or will you need to take a bottle of nerve pills to get through the afternoon? So how do you bring order into your family chaos? Plan and prepare to the best of your ability and be willing to let some of the plans fall to the wayside if you find they are causing too much chaos or craziness.

In my family, I am the planner, but I am also the crazy/chaotic one.  I will never forget the Christmas that I decided was the year to have a ‘theme’ tree.  I wanted everything to be done in cream, gold, and burgundy.  My only problem was that although I have plenty of everything, I was a little short on the burgundy.  Alayna was about 4 years old, so I loaded her up in the car and headed to the store.  When I walked in the door, I spied exactly what I needed: burgundy glass balls.  There was one box on the counter and 12 more balls on the tree.  After un-decorating the tree, I had 11 of the 12 balls I needed. Looking at all sides of the tree which was on a large display of tables, I saw the last one on the backside at the top of the tree.  No big deal.  All I had to do was climb up on the display table, gently reach up, and take down the last ball.  I instructed Alayna to stay by the cart and watch my purse while I got the last ball. She told me to not do it, but I really needed that last ball. As I climbed up onto the table, something went through my mind that this was probably not the best idea I had had in my life. It was confirmed when I stepped to the back of the tree and suddenly realized that this was not a solid square surface, but simply 4 rectangular tables that had been placed together to appear as a square.  I stepped off the side of the table and promptly pulled the tree, the table cover, and myself into the floor as Alayna stood to the side and laughed.

At that point, I had a choice to limp away and laugh or to talk to myself with great consternation.  I chose to laugh, and so did the employees at the store. In fact, it seemed that every time I went in the store for the next few weeks, someone was looking at me, grinning, and quickly turning away so I wouldn’t see them laugh.  I am sure they had me on a security camera for the entire staff to see what not to allow customers to do in your store.

My point is that your perspective can ruin the holidays for you and your crazy people, or it can make it the most enjoyable season you have ever had.  Which will it be?  As we encounter totally unexpected situations in life, the best thing for us to remember is that, as Christians, we should be continuously trying to display the Christ-like behavior that will please our Father.

-Written by Mrs. Jelly Valimont

Pops and Jaeli Part Two

November 16th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to understand and be reminded of truth through the eyes of my granddaughter.

We had just gotten ice cream when a mother of two children came into the restaurant where we were eating. The family attends church with us, and the mother explained that the family was in a difficult time and asked for prayer. After I prayed with her, I gave her a gift card that Jelly had given me to that restaurant.

Jaeli asked me why I had given the card away, and I told her that it was because they were hungry and they needed it. She said to me, “I couldn’t give Gigi’s present away!” I explained to her that every present that we get actually comes from Jesus. Sometimes He gives it to us, so that we can give it to whom He wants to have it. Jaeli then asked me, “Gigi won’t mind you listening to Jesus, will she Pops?”  After I told her, “No,” she profoundly said, “Jesus can use me to love His people too!”

Your obedience makes a difference both to the hurting, and to those watching. Be blessed, and make a difference!

-Pastor Randy Valimont

Purpose in Passion

November 9th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

We all are passionate about something! It is what motivates us to excellence in the area of life we are created to fulfill. Passion is a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept. When we are passionate about something or someone, it begins to encompass our entire being, and we find fulfillment when we are doing these things. Those things are different for all of us, but they make us who we are. Once we discover our passions, we discover our purpose.

 

Deja, a local SAGU Valor student (Griffin Campus), recently went on a return trip to Central Eurasia. Most people would shun away from going to a country in that area of the world, but Central Eurasia is where Deja feels her passion lies. She discovered her passion by ministering to people of all ages, and in turn those people ministered to her in an unexpected way. They showed care to someone they barely knew. She loved the hospitality, joy, and peace that she experienced from the people she encountered. People she never met before welcomed her into their homes, and treated her as though she was family.

 

Through this experience, Deja learned some things that she may not have had the opportunity to learn if she had not pursued her passion. Our passion and purpose go hand in hand. For Deja, it is to tell others about Jesus by traveling the world.

 

Whatever your passion is, pursue it. Chase your God-given dreams. Take the chance; run the risk. It may be the greatest decision you ever made. So if you have not found that thing that drives you to fulfill your purpose, start by doing what you love. God would not have placed that desire in you, if it were not for the greater good. Take time to do what you love. It may lead you to your purpose.

Purpose in Your Community

October 26th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

When most of us think about people going hungry, we think about the children in Africa who live on less than $2 a day. However, hunger is also a very real problem in our community as well. Nearly 75% of students in our school system receive food assistance every week throughout the school year.  The harsh truth is, many students who leave school on Friday will have little to no food until they arrive to school on Monday. Dr. Doris Christopher, formally of UGA Griffin Campus, saw this need and started “Backpack Food for Kids” five years ago.  The need is evident, and with the help of many partners, the Spalding Collaborative is able to meet the need of about 250 students in 6 of our county schools by providing a backpack with non-perishable foods for these children to take home with them on Friday. Each bag has around 10-12 food items and will last a student for the weekend.

Starting the week of Labor Day, a team meets every Thursday at the 5 Loaves 2 Fish food pantry at 10:30 AM to pack these bags for students. Amazingly, the school teachers and counsellors have found that children who receive this assistance are constantly improving academically and behaviorally. Christ uses everyday people who surrender what they have to meet the overwhelming needs of others. In the sacrifice of our own time, finances, and resources God uses our willingness to define our purpose.  The body of Christ is God’s fingerprint on this Earth.

It is said that everyone will know that we are followers of Jesus by how we love one another. The love of God breaks down barriers, compels understanding, and sustains relationships. By exemplifying love through meeting the need in and around our community, we are able to find our place in the grandeur of this life.

 

*If you would like more information about this ministry, please contact rsmith@griffinfirst.org.

-Written by Madison Owens

Power of Communication

October 26th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Relationships need communication.  It begins by talking and being with each other.   How we get to know someone is by spending time and getting to know them.  We talked on the phone and went out on dates to get to know our spouse.  We live with and interact with our children to know each of them.  We spend time at work and learn personal things about the ones we go to lunch with or communicate with daily.

 

Positive communication is necessary to keep a relationship alive.  If mean, hateful or no words are spoken, the health of that relationship can be in jeopardy.    The best way for Satan to tear down our marriages or families or friendships is to break communication.   Proverbs 18:21 says, ” Death and Life are in the power of the tongue. And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

 

Men and women communicate differently.  Men don’t need as many details as women. Women want details, whereas men want the facts.  On average, it has been said that men speak less words per day than women.  Communication is a basic need for a woman, just as sex is for a man.    Men are less open of expressing their feelings (emotionally modest), whereas women are not.  It is important not to share with others deep intimate conversations we have.

 

When we communicate, listening and hearing are key.  We hear through our different needs, so says Marriage Today expert, Jimmy Evans.   He states that a woman hears through her primary need for love and security.  Women need to feel safe and that she is cared for.  If she feels tuned out, it will cause  a feeling of insecurity.   He states that a man will hear through his primary need for honor and respect.  He needs those two things to open up and express his thoughts and feelings.    When a woman is critical with her words in expressing her needs, it closes his pathway of communication.

 

Jimmy Evans also mentions 5 Standards for Successful Communication

  1. Care- You can’t communicate with someone who does not care. You show you care through your tone of voice, body language and attitude.  When you talk, get rid of distractions.    Be kind.
  2. Praise- We need to begin in a positive tone. Let us praise the goodness of the Lord and what He has done for us.  Even for negative things, use a positive way to present it.
  3. Truth- We must have truth for intimacy and trust. We need mercy and truth. (Proverbs 3:3).  We are to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
  4. Faith- Believe God for great things to happen. We can speak into someone’s life without saying a word.
  5. Surrender- Use your words to glorify God and edify each other.

 

Relationships- the key is communication.  As we begin this fall season, find your Life Group, and begin and deepen the relationships with each other. We need relationships, and a deeper communication with each other, not just for our homes,  but with each other in our church home as well.  We all can use hope and encouragement.  We all can use someone to pray for us and with us.  We all can use love and compassion. Life Groups are the place that we can “Do Life Together.”

 

If you, your marriage or family need help with relationships, please contact Touch of Healing Counseling Center at 678-688-3133.  One of our professional counselors will be happy to minister to you.

-Written by Mrs. Sandra Rawlings MS, LPC, IBPCC, CPCS

Life with Pop’s and Jaeli

August 29th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Jelly and I were in New York for some meetings. We were supposed to be sightseeing one morning, but she got very sick and stayed in bed. My friend’s wife was sick too, so he didn’t go either. Instead, we went to lunch and on the way back saw an M&M store. I said to him, “My granddaughter would love something from there!” I’m not telling what I got her, but I was pretty sure she would continue to say, “Pops is the best!” I said all that to say that wherever I am, my family is always on my mind.

I think about how God runs a big universe, but He always has you and I on His mind because He loves us and we are His family as believers. Remember to anticipate the goodness of God because He is always looking for ways that He can express His love towards you and I! He did it 2,000 years ago when He gave us His best in Jesus, but He also loves to bless us with the little things! Remember, God knows where all the M&M stores are! The day before we came home, I made a call to Jaeli so she knew I had a gift for her. Remember to answer the phone when God calls- the phone is called prayer. Be Blessed

-Pastor Randy Valimont

God Covers It All

March 14th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

A Testimony from Amy Norrod

I would like to share a testimony about an awesome miracle that happened in our lives. As you know, my husband and I had the pleasure of becoming foster parents to a sweet baby girl this past year. She came to us when she was just five days old. She has been such a blessing and a joy in our lives, and we hoped we would be able to offer her our home forever through adoption. We began to pray for God’s will and continued to give her the best care possible.

Last Sunday morning, a message from the Lord was given in tongues and interpretation. It was about things coming to pass for which you’ve been believing. Pastor Randy said to step out into the aisle and believe in your miracle if this message was for you. When I did, a great peace came over me that has stayed with me ever since.

I usually get very nervous before a hearing for our foster daughter. This time, I just knew it was going to be okay, and that God was on my side. The hearing was supposed to be an update in a lengthy process that could take many more months, if not a couple of years. As we were waiting for her case to be seen, her biological parents asked if they could speak to us for a moment. They pulled us aside and asked us if we would adopt their child immediately! We were overjoyed and completely overwhelmed with emotion. Moments later, they announced it to the judge, and he ordered that they sign the papers to surrender their rights to us the same day! The judge remarked this must be a blessing because parents do not just sign over the rights to a 9-month-old baby.

We took the biological parents to lunch and spent the afternoon getting to know them and sharing about Jesus. They were so positive and completely sure about their decision. This is an amazing outcome because we have had very poor communication with the biological parents and were under the impression they resented us.

We witnessed yet another miracle when a cousin of the biological parents who struggled with infertility stepped forward wanting custody of our foster child. We prayed again for God’s will, and also that the cousin and her husband would be blessed with a child of their own, if indeed the foster child was to stay with our family. Shortly after the hearing when the biological parents granted us the adoption, we learned the cousin recently discovered she was pregnant!

God covered it all.

Thank you for your prayers and support throughout this entire process. It is awesome to be a part of a spirit-filled church that helps remind us of God’s goodness and promises!

Lost and Found

March 14th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

A Testimony by Chuck McDermitt

This January 3rd, for the first time in 15 years, we didn’t run the bus ministry because we were short of help. I left church early that day, and on the way home, I passed two people standing behind a sign that read, “Homeless- need help.” As I kept driving, I heard, “You need to go back and help.” I replied aloud, “What am I supposed to do?” I heard again, “You need to go back and help.”  With a little frustration, I asked, “And do what?”  I heard again, “You need to go back and help.” So I turned around and went back, not having a clue what I was about to do. The people behind the sign turned out to be a couple named Robin and Kayla Franks; they had spent the night at the loading dock of Home Depot. I picked them up and bought them some Popeye’s Chicken. I made calls to try to find a place for them to stay.  I didn’t have the money to do much, and there is no place in Griffin where a couple can stay together without money! They ended up staying with a friend of theirs in a nearby apartment.

Any time I help someone like this, I ask where they go to church and encourage them to go as a way of paying me back. The day I met Robin and Kayla, they came to church with me. It was the first night of Prayer Revival, and there were tongues and interpretation. Robin had attended a church before where he had heard tongues, but it was never interpreted. Between what he felt and what he heard at Griffin, he was nervous but wanted to come back.

When I was out of town the next week, they attended church with my wife, where Robin ended up at the altar committing his life. They’ve both been coming to church since.

Near the end of January, Robin and Kayla had to leave their apartment accommodation and had no where to go except the woods behind the complex. One friend from church who had recently received a bonus wondered if it was all so he could help this couple. We arranged for them to stay at Express Inn for the week. I told them if they were going to get help, they had to contribute something. I had them write out the same Scripture verses that we give to middle and high school students on the bus, and told them they needed to be at church whenever possible. They have been faithful to do both.

The next Sunday night, Pastor Reuben was praising God in tongues. I was hoping they wouldn’t be confused, since there was no interpretation. Then you came up and not only explained what had happened, but gave a whole explanation of how tongues and interpretations works.  At the end of service, Robin and Kayla came to the altar where God met them; they were both on the floor.

Robin shared with his brother, Todd, about his visits to church and invited him to come along. Todd reacted by cursing the Lord, not wanting anything to do with Him. The following week, he visited Robin, saw that something had changed in his life, and decided to visit church after all. I picked them up Wednesday night for service. Pastor George spoke on, of all things, restoration. Todd went to the altar. He had been trying to get back to Missouri to be with his kids but had been stranded for weeks in Griffin. By the next Wednesday, he had gotten a ticket back and as soon as he got off the bus, he secured a job as well! Today Robin has a job as part of a paint crew, which is a blessing as his past involvement with gangs in Griffin as a teenager and a felony on his record has always made job searching a challenge. Kayla has a job at Waffle House. Most of the rent at the motel has been taken care of by people contacting me, wanting to donate. Clothes, groceries, and a job for Robin have been provided.

Robin and Kayla are certainly still new in the faith and have a lot to overcome. I’m not sure who all has been praying for them, but God is definitely chasing them down. They have made comments like, “Why do I keep crying (in church)? Why do I feel so out of control?” Every time I visit, they ask questions about the Bible. They have invited at least three people to church. They have told me that even after they are able to stand on their own financially, they want to keep writing their Scriptures and have accountability.

When I turned around to go back and help that day in January, I knew I didn’t have the finances to do much. I prayed for help in knowing what to do, asking God to make a way. God has blessed them, and a lot of people are watching what God is doing in their lives.