Search This Blog

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dealing with a Crisis

 
 

Many country crisis situations occur in Nigeria. One is a crisis going on right now at the Lagos Airport Cargo Terminal. Last week, custom clearing agents, who worked in the cargo section of the Muhammed International Airport, assaulted officials of the Nigeria Customs Service who came for an inspection of their warehouse.

Armored personnel were called in and many were severely injured during this violent clash. The end result was that cargo terminals have been closed while terminal security management figures out how to handle random people entering the cargo area, violence, inadequate national security issues, and how to clear the terminal of “unwanted” elements. The bottom line is that airport security at the terminal needs to be improved, but many are furious that the terminal buildings have been shut affecting  both revenues and companies that have their cargo currently locked up affecting goods purchased for their Christmas sales – including perishable items.  With criminals jumping fences and illegal access to gates that are not policed, this crisis has become a totally chaotic situation.

 
A newspaper article in This Day Live entitled Taming the Crisis at Lagos Airport Cargo Terminal says the main concerns with this crisis are:
-          A Porous Facility

-          An Inadequate Security, and

-          A Lasting Solution

That is exactly what happens in our lives when we are dealing with an unsurmountable crisis that has become chaotic and uncontrollable.  When a crisis reaches that level, we need to check where the holes are, find the full-proof security, and come up with a lasting solution.
 

First, you need to analyze what is coming into your life porously causing the instability and confusion. Are ungodly influences in your life? Have you been involved in any sinful behavior? Are your attitudes towards people or your circumstances entering your mind causing disruption in how you see your crisis? Second, where is your security? Is your solution to the crisis based on Jesus Christ? Have you confessed your sins and placed your security in the arms of your blessed Lord and Savior? Doing this will fill the inadequate security problem in our lives. When Jesus Christ is leading our lives, our security creates stability and assurance that God will take over and handle our problem. Finally, the lasting solution is in trusting God and seeking His will and His way out. It may involve making changes, require apologies, and/or disassociating from undesirable individuals. Reading the Bible and asking God to speak to you about your problem will bring you peace and a lasting solution to your crisis, but you must obey His Word and His leading as it is shown to you.
 

Plugging up the holes that create porosity, finding the appropriate security in Jesus Christ, and trusting that God can provide a long-lasting solution is the means your crisis can be overcome and maintained.
 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

Author Patti Londa Greene
Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal (ISBN 978-1-4627-2578-6)
God, It's Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study (ISBN 978-1-4627-3821-2)

Dedicated to my friend Titi!


 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Friend Tamara: Life, God, Cancer, and Death

Tamara, my good friend passed away this month. She was only 40 years old. Thirteen months earlier she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer that had metastasized to her brain, bones, liver, and stomach. She fought a valiant fight to survive. She did not want to leave her 4 children. I was honored to be asked to speak at her funeral service. I want to share my thoughts on my friend who passed away way before her time. The following are the words I spoke at her funeral service. We all know someone who either has or had cancer; thus this disease affects us all. Please, let me take this opportunity to encourage every women to have their annual mammogram.

The name of the church and the family names have been changed for privacy sake.
 
 

Thank you all for coming to Tamara’s service. My name is Patricia, and Tamara and I were very good friends.­­­­­ Today, I have two “notes” to share with you - one from me and then one from my husband Joe. But, first, I will like to share my remembrances of a lovely lady.

Tamara was a praying woman. She shared with me about how scared she was when she moved to Houston from Pennsylvania. But, she said that her parents always told her to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. She wasn’t going to church, but her mom said, “Tamara, you were raised in church – you need to take the children to church.” Her mom gave her the idea to go to the closest church. That was this church – Fruits Baptist Church. She told me she remembers the pastor saying one day that, “You don’t have to feel lonely!” The next day Tamara she attended a Sunday School Class. She claimed she used to be shy, but she prayed, “God, who can I talk to?” It was in that Sunday School class that she told me once that God provided and it was through that class that she was able to share her life with other people and was where I became friends with Tamara. One day, Tamara  and  I were talking and I said, “Do you have anything special I can pray for you?” She just looked at me in unbelief that I asked her that. I didn’t understand. Then, she proceeded to tell me that I asked her those exact same words after a Sunday School class one day, and those words were the catalyst that started our friendship. Tamara became an active participant in our Saturday mornings fellowship luncheon which we had once a month too.
One day, I saw Tamara the happiest I had ever seen her. You see, in May, 2013, we threw her a surprise 39th birthday party. And believe me SHE WAS TOTALLY SURPRISED. We had balloons, cards, presents, and birthday cake. We sang happy birthday to her. She was so overwhelmed with love that her joy went from laughter to tears. It was at this party that Tamara shared the story of her life with us. The Holy Spirit filled the home and filled all of our hearts. While she was blessed, I think everyone who attended her birthday party left more filled and inspired than even she was.
 
She shared about how her mom sold tomatoes to help her attend a school where she could learn English. She shared about the beautiful furniture her dad made as a carpenter.  In Tamara’s own words, she said the following about her parents.
 
“My parents raised all of their children to believe in God. My mum taught us that God is the only one you can depend on in life. My dad taught us how to pray for our food and for our sicknesses. My parents raised us well. In Zambia, where most of the people they knew died of AIDS, we had parents that took good care of us. We grew up in bad neighborhoods, but my parents were strict. They were always asking us if we prayed for this or prayed for that.”
 

Tamara loved Skyping with her family in Africa. She used to tell me about how her dad was quiet, but sometimes she would share something with them and they would get so excited praising God and dancing around. One time Tamara was at my house and I told her I prayed for her often. She said, “You do?” Then, I proceeded to show her in my prayer journal how she was on almost every day. In a sneaky Tamara kind of way, she tried to read the lines in my “personal journal.” She wanted to know EXACTLY what I was praying for her.
 
Before she was diagnosed with cancer, I prayed for her peace, for hope, for a place to live, for a job, for a car wreck she was in, for Sunday to get a job, for her children and more. Joe and I’s lives became totally intertwined with the family. One time our son Joseph took Sunday, her oldest son, with him to a park in Houston. They went walking on a path while Joseph taught an exercise class. When the class was over, Joseph couldn’t find Sunday anywhere. After waiting about 2 hours (and having many conversations with Tamara about Sunday’s whereabouts, Joseph called the police. Thursday night must be a low crime night because about 5 patrol cars were out searching for Sunday. Finally, one of the policemen found Sunday around 9 at night (in the dark) in the Bayou near the Beltway. The police picked up Sunday and drove him to Joseph's car quite a few miles away. Tamara and I laughed so hard many times about how Sunday was able to get such special treatment and how he got to ride in a police car and he didn’t even do anything wrong. That is just one example of the laughter we shared on many occasions.
 
Tamara’s love for her children was so strong. If I had to sum up what Tamara felt about each child, it would be this:
 
Victor [5th Grade]: Your mom fell in love with your tender and sweet spirit; keep smiling for her. You are any mom’s dream. Devon [7th Grade] : Your mom was so proud of your musical talent and fun loving spirit; When you play your music, play well for your mom! And remember Luka, your mom thinks you are the best cleaner in the family.
 
Faith [11th Grade]: Your mom was so happy to have a little girl; she was thrilled with your dancing ability and your strong desire to do well in school; keep it up for her, and keep dancing.
 
Sunday [2013 High School Graduate]: What you have done for your family this past year has been unbelievable. You were the man of the house for the three kids; you nurtured them; you made sure they were fed; you saw that all their school papers were signed; you got them to and from school; you took your mom to her doctor appointments; you cared for her. You gave up a year of working and going to school to help your family. You will be blessed. Tamara depended on you and God allowed you the privilege of caring for her through her diagnosis and treatment. You will be blessed. And, your mom DID notice your responsible behavior.

And myself, I have been blessed by knowing Tamara and her family. She taught me how to love unconditionally; she taught me to always be faithful; she taught me so much about the African culture so when I moved to Nigeria 1 ½ years ago, I felt ready to face the challenge. But, one thing she didn’t get around to teaching me (and she kept promising me she would teach me is to how to tie those African scarves around my head) – So, the first thing I will do when I see her in heaven with be to get her to show me that.
 

In conclusion, I would like to share some of Tamara’s words. In May, 2014, Tamara asked me to write this down for her and to keep it and today I would like to share them with you.

These are her exact words written 5 months before her passing.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Bitter-Sweet Moment


A BITTERSWEET MOMENT
 
Pleasure Alloyed with Pain
by
Patti Londa Greene
 
April 3, 2013 (September 14, 2014 story follows!)

 
 
 
 

 

When I drove up to the house, I saw “the package” on the doorstep. I knew it was the "long-awaited" Fed-Ex package from my publisher CrossBooks. After months and months of working so hard on my first book 'Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal' I just wanted to spend time treasuring and savoring the first glance through my first published book. So, I quickly took the groceries out of the car, and put them on the counter.
 
 

Then, with a skip in my step, I turned the corner to go to the front door to get my “treasured” package. It was then I encountered a horrific scene – a scene so horrific that instantly I felt a big ‘ol Texas pit right in the middle of my abdomen and I found myself immediately doubled over in pain.
 
 

In the hallway, I found that my knick-knack curio shelf had fallen down. And there, shattered in the hallway, was my grandmother’s entire shoe collection, my specially treasured cup and saucer sets given to me by Aunt Mary, and the only treasured gift recently given to me when my Aunt Terry passed away. Along with all those memories were the shoe collection my husband, parents, and children, had given me over the years – cute shoes – gifts I have loved.

Items on this shelf had to be special to make the cut to the shelf. Lovely heirlooms –ALL SHATTERED. I wanted to cry. But, between being shocked and not feeling well, I just found the closest couch and sat down for a few minutes still holding my abdomen.

As I gained composure, I tip-toed over the sacred mess and I opened the door to get the Fed Ex package. The mature, sensible thought that ran briefly through my mind was "out with the old, and in with the new” – basically, the "things happen mentality!"

I stumbled back to the old gray couch with my box in hand. I wasn’t feeling the way I thought I would be when I visualized this moment. It wasn’t even close. After all the hard work on the book, I anticipated a jittery, glow from above, Holy Spirit type moment. Instead, I experienced a dull, flat sensation along with only a slight sliver of anticipation.

When I opened the package, the cover was gorgeous. A smile crossed my face. I browsed though the book, and then decided to take some photos and do a little writing about the conflicting life scenario I just encountered.
 
 

On the one hand, I am experiencing sadness, but then on the other hand, I am experiencing happiness. Honestly though - right now I don't think I have the strength to clean up and sift through the memory mess. Maybe one or two or even three memories will make the cut as to remaining an heirloom. I hope so.

I think I am in the midst of what people call a "bittersweet" moment! I am not sure I have had such a vivid, contrasting dichotomy packed in such a short period of time before.
 
 

I don’t have a bucket list. But, if I did, I would be crossing off “bittersweet moment” now. But, since no such list exists, I think I should go and put my groceries away, take a nap, and sort through the rubble later.

Who knows maybe GOD just wrote my first blog. He is good, isn't He?

September 14th, 2014

For almost a year and a half, I kept all my broken pieces in a nice, little gift bag. I put the bag on the same bookshelf that I keep my most treasured stack of Shutterfly memory albums. But, one day, I was browsing my neighborhood’s newly created site that post things for sale, and low and behold I saw an ad that intrigued me.
 
A lady named "Mary" was offering to make designer crosses for people.

I promptly contacted Mary to see if she had ever made crosses using china pieces. She hadn’t, but she said she would try. And try she did. She worked meticulously creating a cross to preserve my family memories. I really had no idea what to expect. And, Mary admitted that she was a little nervous and worried that  I might not like what she had done.

But yesterday, I was working at a craft fair in Cy-Fair where she brought me a box with my cross in it. Mary had wrapped the cross in some beautiful purplish-violet tissue paper. As I contemplated pushing the tissue paper aside, I pre-decided to act excited no matter what because I did not want to hurt Mary’s feelings. I was very apprehensive, but hopeful.
 
 
 
But, WOW! As soon as I saw Mary’s creation, I loved it. I started pointing out things, i.e. “This was my Aunt Mary’s dish.” “This was my grandmother Jess’ shoe. It just brought back so many fond memories of people that the Lord had placed in my life over the years.

While I am only talking about broken china and glass memory pieces, sometimes our lives take an unexpected turn, i.e. a tragic event occurs, our health deteriorates, or our family breaks up. When these things happen, it is time to reflect and discern what to do next. It may mean “sitting on a shelf” for a while; it may mean actively rearranging your spiritual life; or it may mean deciding to do the next best thing.

Mary took my broken memories and eventually turned them into a beautiful mosaic cross. God will take the shattered and sharp pieces of our lives and mold them and us into a beautiful creation if we allow Him to. It may take time, but don't throw away or despise your life experiences. Let God take whatever they are and allow Him to mold you through those experiences into the person He wants you to be.

Now, I can not only look back and be grateful, but I can also  look forward and trust that the next time I feel broken and shattered, like my knick-knack pieces, I can trust that the Lord sees the big picture and that in His time, those pieces can be molded together to make something beautiful for His purpose.

Thanks Mary for letting God use you to bless me!

If you have any jewelry or cross needs, let Mary know. She is awesome. You can contact her below or see some of her wares at her Etsy Store DEJAVU143!

 

The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, "Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there." So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the LORD gave me this message: "O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.
Jeremiah 18:1-6 (New Living Translation)

www.PattiGreene.com - Join my FB Page!

Author of Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal by Patti Londa Greene (ISBN 978-1-4627-2578-6)
Author of God, It's Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study by Patti Londa Greene (ISBN 978-1-4627-3821-2)

Link to purchase either book on Amazon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sometimes God Just Gives Us a Blessing

Sometimes God Just Gives Us a Blessing!

It was a typical morning today in Houston, Texas. I got up, made my coffee, said goodbye to my son as he left for work. My couch is the usual spot for my quiet time. I balance my coffee cup on a coaster on the couch and read the Bible and pray. Today my devotional was on LAZINESS (Proverbs 13:4.) I thought about the fact that if someone writes a book, they are not lazy! It takes time, dedication, editing, more editing, and persevering. I said my prayers, wrote some notes to some friends, and got ready for my day. I picked up lunch at Taco Bell, went to Kroger, bought some Christmas presents at Palais Royal, journeyed to my friend’s house for a visit, and then returned home.

I stopped at our mailbox on the way home only to be a little disappointed that there was no key in the box indicating I had a package. But, I did have a United States Postal Service Priority envelope. Honestly, I went through all my junk mail and then tackled the envelope. I saw immediately that it was from Lizzie. Lizzie (a.k.a. Elle Bee) is a young woman who attended the Sunday School Class my husband taught before we went on our little adventure to Nigeria.

 
 

The package was opened and I was so thrilled. I saw a book that Elle Bee had written and published. I was so happy for her, and was totally touched when I opened the book and read her sweet note to us. It said, “Patti and John, Thank you so much for everything you did for me. This book would never have been written without you. LB.” By this point I was more thrilled about her stick-to-itiveness to finish and publish this book. Then, I turned the page, and I had to sit down – I couldn’t even stand. This precious new author dedicated the book to our family. Never before have I been so honored as in that moment TODAY. The dedication read, “To the Greene family. For your support. For your love. And for your kindness.” By this point, I knew a “thank you email” was not going to be sufficient.



I immediately called Elle Bee. I congratulated her and thanked her for her kind gesture even though it did not seem like it was enough. I told her how proud I am of her for all her hard work.

You see Elle Bee isn’t someone who has dreamed about writing a book all her life and is finally doing it – like me! She is a young, single lady in her 20’s who is dedicating her gifts and talents to the Lord now. She is truly following 2 Timothy 4:12 which says, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

Love you “Elle Bee.” Because of you, I received a blessing that I absolutely was not expecting today. Thank you.

Raised practically by himself, ten year old Charlie would like nothing more than to be left alone. Unfortunately, he is a magnet for attention, particularly of the negative degree. Bullying. Blame. Teacher disapproval. For the majority of his life, Charlie has been able to take the attention in a "grin and bear" it sort of way. But what will Charlie learn as he is whisked off to Thailand?



To find out more, check out The Evidence (Mission with Miss Bee BOOK #1) by Elle Bee; ISBN 978-1-312-15522-0.

To read more or to order an autographed book, go to Joseph’s Grain at http://josephsgrain.org.

Pictures shared by permission!

Patti Londa Greene
Author of Awaken Me (ISBN 978-1-4627-2578-6)
God, It's Me (ISBN 978-1-4627-3821-2)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Depression by Glory C. Odemene / Dedicated to Robin McLaurin Williams

Depression
by Glory C. Odemene
Dedicated to Robin McLaurin Williams
 
 
 
 
Notes before Poem! Scroll down for the actual poem!
 
Have you ever met someone and you instantly knew you liked that person. You just clicked! That happened to me not long ago - I met Glory and we instantly bonded. We have a lot in common, but we also knew we had a lot of differences.
 
As I was putting the final touches on my recently released devotional book, God, It's Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate About Prayer and Bible Study, I prepared myself to ask Glory if I could use some of her poetry excerpts in my own book. I made up a folder showing her exactly how her poetry would be used in the book along with her excerpts that I matched to my already chosen pictures. You know, after 18 years of being a librarian, I felt like I knew how possessive writers/authors/poets could be about their work, so I was understandably nervous when I asked her that one Sunday morning at church at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria. While I was anticipating a possible "No" or a "Let me think about it," I remember Glory's big, brown eyes opening as wide as a raccoon. She was amazed that I was even asking her at all. She immediately said, "YES!" I was thrilled.
 
You see, Glory is the type of person who writes for the Lord. She gives him the credit and all the "glory." She even encourages people to share her God-inspired poems.
 
It is in this spirit, I am sharing Glory's most recent poem titled Depression. It is written for all who have or will ever encounter depression in their lives. As you read this poem you will see that the catalyst for this poem was the recent passing away of the well-loved comedian Robin Williams.
 
----------------------------------------------------
 
Depression
by Glory C. Odemene
Dedicated to Robin McLaurin Williams
 
Out there, it’s labeled bane of geniuses, cross of the consummate

Price for being bequeathed with exceptional talents: folks jump

As judges on the reckless wagon driven by this accomplished

Fellow who should know enough to be a role model but that also

Is an affliction; perpetual pressure to always smile, act nice and right

But hello this is reality not Broadway! Yet he contends crushing guilt

In lonesome cell whose innards scream, “Turkey!” at a dignitary.

Drained of joys for stellar feats, the global champion is whipped

A wimp in his own universe and unknown to the all-knowing world

The remote control is beyond his reach: he can’t predict how

His channels switch; no idea when dark days descend or duration

Of his sentence in that gloomy jail where struggle and strive all he

May, it seems he never can wear out that awful, unwanted skin.

Triggers range from tragedies to nothing, the sun suddenly goes south

In the middle of his day and like rag, the jewel is tossed into a hole.

He may appear surrounded and smiling but within he’s achingly alone

Flailing like a drowning man whose gasps show up as deviations on

The chart of trendy expectations. He grapples whatever his hands

Can find, seeking a reason, a means, to hope or not. A kind word

Could be the lifeline that keeps his head above, respiring when he

Would have been expiring, if aid’s arrival proves timely.

A bland-cold stare, mere rebuff that ignores his silent cries

Of desperation are sharp enough to cut that rope of hope.

It is not about privileges, positions, and possessions

It is a dreadful suit he wears all his life. Though glamor shields it

He yet feels it in those places where no other can see or tell.

Desperate for escape, he courts drugs, marries alcohol

Even changing locations appeal but fleeting thrills wane too soon

And he wakes to the revulsion of complicated addictions.

Experts and the ignorant diagnose and prescribe, tagging it

With tongue twisting labels that promise him no ease so alone

He either silently battles the monsters until end pays him a visit

Or he goes the way of bizarre and the world is shocked, more

By its perennial indifference than the fruits of his queerness.

The least to do today is exit the judges’ hub, extend kindness

To all you meet: you don’t know the monsters they are battling:

Just one word, one move, can make that difference between life

And death: everyone you meet is in warfare, your vote counts.

© Glory C. Odemene, 2014

(Dedicated to Robin McLaurin Williams)
 
Glory's Comments:
 
I remember growing up. I used to have dark days. It carried labels like, “Melancholy,” “Depression,” among others. It is considered the blight of the talented and a norm. You didn’t have much choice but to live with it. And I did for many years until the LORD broke through and delivered me. Sometimes, it just happens and down you sink. At others, it may be just a look you are not comfortable with, an unkind comment, or even being ignored, that triggers it. You have no control over when it descends and how long it lasts. Until you wake up one day and the sun is up, and following that lead, you crawl out to discover that all around is cheery once again.

Recently, I went through tragedies and instead of the typical accusers that make you feel wretched despite your achievements or tend to strangle you with guilt for errors, I was invaded and besieged by fears. They showed up in everything, every time, and everywhere I turned. I looked like I do every day, smiled as usual but deep down were cries no ears could hear. My world was crumbling but to everyone else, I was the same. God helped me walk through without hitting that dreaded bottom. It has been 14 years now and counting and I have never set my foot in that pit of a prison.

We are often so consumed by our personal pursuits that we become inured to the travails of those around us. Just like love and encouragement have helped many conquer their battles, our indifference and insensitivity can complicate matters for the weak. If only we can learn to stop and think again before we shoot. Imagine how much difference that will make in a world where the broken are trampled on every day? From experience, I know of only one cure that delivers without side effects, no relapse, and not at bank-breaking cost: Jesus: And whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed.
 
Glory!

Please feel free to forward/share this blog with your friends and family. And, we would love you to comment!
 
To read more of Glory's poetry excerpts, check out . . . http://amzn.to/1o4cm8x
 


Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Housekeeper


 

 
Yesterday I received a Facebook post from my good friend Glory. It was simple and easy to read, but so powerful. It simply said, “Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.” I do not know the source of this statement, but knowing my friend who posted it, I feel sure she meant that this is how you grow as a Christian.

As an USA expat living in Lagos, Nigeria, I have now seen poverty, unbelievable health problems, corruption, and the tears of people reaching out to God for help. But, I have also seen the calm sweet spirit of those who love Jesus and want to be obedient to Him no matter what life has brought them.
In Nigeria, most expats have housekeepers, cooks, and drivers. I am no exception. Yesterday, I told my housekeeper to show up, but that she was not going to clean for me, because I wanted to take her out for a birthday lunch. I decided to take her to a simple place next to our flat where we could walk to and not spend too much time.
I was ready to go. Mary (not her real name) showed up in a nice, lovely suit for the occasion. I was just wearing my regular old jeans that I had worn the past two days. I was gently jolted into reminding myself that this lunch was a very special occasion for her. We arrived at the restaurant. Remember, it is Nigeria. We had to proceed through a scanner and have our purses checked before being allowed entrance. The table in the main restaurant was covered with a bright white tablecloth adorned with a lovely folded cloth napkin. I ordered a steak and French fries. She ordered a hamburger and French fries. She ate her French fries with a fork. We laughed. I told her that in America, we eat our French fries with our fingers. I made her order a dessert since it was her birthday. She ordered an apple pie to go. She wanted to share her special occasion by bringing something home to her husband and son. Throughout the meal, we shared our lives. She told me about her tribal wedding and her white wedding. She asked me if I drove a car. She was shocked that someone from the USA didn’t have a driver to drive them everywhere. She doesn’t drive. You see, there is no opportunity here for her to ever own a car. She takes multiple buses to get home after cleaning my flat – sometimes taking up to three hours to get home.

One day I asked her what she really wanted if I could bring her one thing back from the U.S. Her answer wasn’t fancy clothes, toys for her son, or needed medicine. She wanted a new watch. Hers wasn’t keeping time correctly, so she wanted a new watch, so she wouldn’t be late to work.
The lunch ended. We walked back to my flat. She left. I sat down and I thanked God for an opportunity to share with someone who was not my age, someone I had to ask to repeat what she said when she jumped into her tribal dialect, and someone who definitely was not from my social class.
Then, later that night, when I read the post from my friend, I could totally relate to it, because I had just experienced it and lived it this very same day.
            While my housekeeper thanked me for my kindness towards her, I thanked God for the blessing I had just received.

Bible Verses:

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

“I will make them and the places around my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in its season; there shall be showers of blessing.” Ezekiel 34:26
 
Author of Awaken Me (ISBN 978-1-4627-2578-6) & God, It's Me (ISBN 978-1-4627-3821-

Six hours after I posted this blog, I received a message from Mary that I want to share. It is written exactly as she wrote it.

"Gudeven mum. I am very happy and appreciated for what u did for me .may almighty God reward u and bless ur family in jesus amen.I love u mum .thanks Mary."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Book with Pinterest Pics! Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal



Hello Friends,


One day I was sitting on the couch and I thought it would be a cool idea to take all 365 topics from my book Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal and turn them into a Pinterest Board. Okay, it sounded like a good idea AND it is! However, it took FOREVER, but I finally finished it.

http://www.pinterest.com/pattigreene13/awaken-me-a-devotional-prayer-journal-by-patti-lon/

Check out my Awaken Me board and you will get an idea about the topics and Bible Scriptures in the book. You could make a Bible Study lesson out of this board or just have fun browsing through the topics.

And maybe, just maybe, it will motivate you to want to learn more about prayer and Bible study. If so, Awaken Me is available on amazon.com, and bn.com, and select bookstores. My prayer is that through this board or book, your walk with the Lord will deepen and mold you into the person He wants you to be. He loves you.


Patti Greene

Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal by Patti Londa Greene

Board includes the Biblical phrases contained in this 'God-Inspired' devotional. A powerful, 365-day, undated, devotional prayer journal with gripping Bible words, suggested readings, and daily pages for your thoughts and prayers. Available at amazon.com and bn.com. ISBN 978-1-4627-2578-6.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sleepovers! Slumber Parties! Overnight Parties


Yesterday my 167 character Twitter post
made its way to my Facebook page.
My condensed opinion stated:
 
“If I had to raise children over again,
I wouldn't allow them to sleep over at their friend's home,
 and I wouldn't let their friends sleep over at my home.
Just saying.”   
 

As a result of my Twitter/FB post, there were many requests to clarify my comment. This brought me to the opinion that many families struggle with this topic and are seeking wisdom and answers on how to handle the topic of overnight sleepovers. Thus, this blog is dedicated to those who want clarification on why I would make such a blatant statement. Obviously, only so much can be said in the 180 Twitter limit. So, let me continue, and give me grace as a parent who allowed my children to spend the nights out and attend sleepovers when they were growing up.  It is not that I haven’t had the same concerns as many of you. My children are now 32, 30, and 28 years old, so I am looking back as a child, a parent, and a grandma.

It seems to me that parents need to decide themselves what is best for their own children. I believe that Biblically, children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).  Thus, I believe parents should seek wisdom and discernment before making decisions for their family (James 1:5). And finally, parents should trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them in whatever decisions, including sleepovers, they face while child-rearing (John 16:13).

In my opinion, parents are responsible for the welfare of their children. God says it, and I believe it. As parents, our children’s safety should be foremost in mind. I am not advocating that our children should never spend the night at your parent’s house, your sister’s house, or your best friend’s house. I am talking more about when your child is asked to spend the night at a friend’s home from school where you don’t know the parents well or your child is asked to attend a birthday slumber party. Of course, parents are responsible for their children at all ages. Eventually, concerns you encounter when your child is young will one day become requests for prom overnights or coed sleepovers. Yes, even church events are now having boy-girl sleepovers, so parents need to be pre-prepared and have an answer at hand. I remember one of my children not quite understanding why I would not let him spend the night at a church member's home where both teenage boys and girls were spending the night. Yes, it was tough to say no, but in the long run, did it hurt him? NO. Plus, hopefully, he saw that we cared and loved him that we did not want to put him in any vicarious situation. I feel very strongly that whether a parent’s response to all sleepovers is a firm NO or they if they have a “depends on the circumstances” opinion, parents should discuss beforehand what they will do when the situations occur. It is very important for both parents to agree on all decisions regarding their children.  Personally, I remember, as a 6th grader, being invited to slumber party at my next door neighbor’s house. Things were fun at first, but later, after the parents turned in, the activities around 2:00 a.m. turned to Ouija boards and séances. Yes, it seemed very innocent at first, but by 3:00 a.m., the fear of evil that I (and some of the others faced) was unbelievable. Some of us were immobile with fright. It was my first experience with what I will call pure evil. I survived and went on being a kid, but it is something my parents still do not know to this day that happened. It was something that shouldn’t have happened to someone at my age. I remember wanting to just run home next door, but the darkness outside petrified me. It was unexpected, unforeseeable, and definitely a spiritual event that affected my life. In Christianity Culture (6-24-2014), Denny Burk writes that James Dobson believes that the day of sleepovers have passed, but in reality there are still some “spending the night” events that do occur, and as a parent, it seems to me, that we need to be concerned about the wide range of activities and risks that occur at sleepovers - from playing doctor and watching inappropriate movies to predators, pornography, guns, sexual temptations, date-rape, chat rooms, and other capricious dangers. If we take our God given responsibility seriously, remember that God has promised that He will guard us [and our children] from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Asking God for wisdom and discernment in making decisions for our family and in each overnight decision is a wise thing to do. When praying for wisdom and discernment God can and will give us His opinion on each unique situation we encounter. When we are pre-prayed and consistently read God’s Word, we will be guided as to what the Lord desires us to say and do regarding both our own children and other parents. We may incur some temporary wrath from our children, but then again, maybe not. I remember once when our daughter was in 4th grade. She was invited to a classmate’s slumber party. We did allow her to go. She was trained in our house rules about what movies we allowed her and her brothers to watch. At that particular time, our children were only allowed to watch G movies. Our daughter went to the party, and soon after arriving, we received a call from her. She said, “Mom, they are watching a PG movie, what should I do?” I thanked her for calling and advised her to go into another room and do something else. And do you know what happened? God, in his infinite wisdom, provided an escape. Almost immediately, the other girls stopped watching the movie and joined our daughter in playing with the dolls and other toys she was playing with in the other room. It is a wise thing to train your children in what to do if they encounter situations that are opposed to your family values. In another instance, one of our sons went to a 10th grade party. We told him to call us if there was any drinking involved and we would pick him up. It was only 8:00 p.m. when the beer was being transported from an older brother’s car to the house. We received the call that there was alcohol there. Our son found a ride home, and by 8:30 that evening, he was home with us. So, be assured that God can and will take care of your children when you seek Him. Children and teens will encounter tough predicaments, and we must prepare them how to respond. I doubt if years later any of those teens remember that our son left the party. I can probably guarantee that it won’t be brought up at his upcoming 10 year high school reunion either. When, we pray for our children, pray for a hedge of protection them, and let them know how to respond if that hedge is opened just a little bit. I always told our kids that God gave me a sense if they were doing something wrong that I would know. I meant it too and I think they believed it. Due to prayer, wisdom, and His discernment, I could tell if something was going on that wasn’t right with our kids. I also prayed and told our kids that I prayed that they would always get caught if they did something wrong. They usually were caught and what better deterrent could there be than to know they would get caught if they ventured out into the wrong direction. When God gives you that discernment when overnight requests are brought to you, use it to guide your decision making processes. (James 1:2-5).

I feel very strongly that the Holy Spirit can give you peace in how to answer the tough questions regarding spending the nights out. John 16:13 states that, “When the Spirit of truth comes; he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” The Holy Spirit will guide you to ask the right question regarding whether or not to allow your children to spend the night out. Some that you may encounter at various age levels are:

-          Who will be there? Parents, older brothers, older sisters, uncles, aunts.
-          How vulnerable is your child to peer-pressure?
-          How can I screen a parent’s home or the party situation without offending the parents?
-          What will happen in the case of an emergency?
-          What movies will be shown? The ratings, horror movies, etc.
-          What kind of supervision will be there?
-          Is there a pool, gun, or Internet access available?
-          Are you concerned with sleep deprivation?
-          Will the opposite sex be there at any time?
-          Regarding slumber parties, will the parents be home and up ALL NIGHT?
-          Will there be alcohol or drugs at the party?
-          Can I trust my teen?
-          Will the kids be leaving the house at all for a movie or out to eat?
Then, there will be comments from your own children you need help in dealing with:
-          It’s not fair.
-          Everyone else’s parents are letting them go.
-          I am old enough.
-          Don’t you trust me?
-          I am a good kid.

In my opinion, with all this to think about, we have to trust God with our needs. We should pray and ask the Lord by His Holy Spirit to show you His will in each and every situation. Then, we must be willing to do what we feel in our heart He is saying to you and/or your spouse. Trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you, and respect how He leads other parents too. As I have learned, there is a lot at stake in decisions we make for our children. While we don’t want to over-protect our kids, we don’t want to put them in situations that could affect the rest of their lives. Trust God and his Holy Spirit for direction.

I personally believe parents need to decide what is best for their children. In my hypothetical Facebook post, I am speaking as a parent who has already raised my kids. If I had to do it over again, I would not just randomly allow my children to spend the night over with acquaintances or attend sleepovers. It seems that there are more dangers prevalent now than 30 years ago, so we are looking at different times and different circumstances. And for those who asked why I would limit sleepovers at my house also – I think it would just be for consistency sake actually! But one thing I know for sure is that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And, with the responsibility we have to raise our children, it would be wise to remember that we need to decide what is best for our children, we need to seek wisdom, and we need to possess discernment, and we need to follow God’s leading in all situations, including this one!

Verses:

1 Kings 3:9-12
Psalm 18:2
Psalm 119:105
Psalm 119:99
Psalm 127:3
John 16:13
Ephesians 3:17
Philippians 4:6-7
Colossians 3:20
2 Thessalonians 3:3
James 1:2-5

Patti Londa Greene, Author

Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal
God, It’s Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study
(Coming Summer, 2014)
Available on Amazon.com and BN.com