by Kim Wiezycki

Does God exist? This is the argument that gets explored in Focus on the Family’s TrueU, a video series that my Bible study group just completed.  At times we thought our brains would burst from the overwhelming amount of fascinating information that was touched upon during each 25-minute session of this 10 part series. But we hung in there and feel we are more equipped in our understanding of the Christian worldview and the other world views that we will be exposed to throughout life. The purpose of doing this study was to learn how to better defend our faith in an ever increasingly hostile culture.

TrueU was designed to help prepare teens and college-aged youth to have a better understanding of the persuasive arguments against faith, God, and morals that they will be challenged with during their high school and college careers.

The series begins with Dr. Stephen Meyer, a highly credentialed professor in the History and Philosophy of Science who has undergraduate degrees in physics and geology. He has studied at Cambridge University and is the founder of the Intelligent Design movement among scientists. He reminds us that Peter says, “Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope you have.” And the exploration of our faith begins…

Dr. Meyer addresses a group of college students with the question, “Does God exist?,” and through a series of deductive reasoning exercises based on scientific data, research, and knowledge of what each of the world religions believes, he sets out to show how the evidence, by deductive reasoning, does indeed point to the fact that God does exist and that He is a personal God who desires to have a relationship with us.

The topics explored in this series are faith, the Big Bang Cosmology and the universe, DNA and the intricate design of life, and, morals and what the different worldviews believe and why.  Dr. Meyer includes quotes and research from known scientists such as Hubble, Einstein, Newton as well as modern day atheists so we will be equipped to know the arguments being made against Christianity, or God in general, and be better prepared to defend our faith.

Both TrueU studies, “Does God Exist?” and “Is the Bible Reliable,” can be purchased at trueu.org or leaders may check them out from the GFC small group resources to view with their Bible study groups.

Kim has been married to Larry Wiezycki for 16 years and they have two boys, ages 9 and 11. When Kim isn’t in church, she can be found teaching curly girls how to take care of their hair, spending way too much time on Facebook or reading real books, and running a 5k here and there. 

by Patricia Davis

I am an optimistic person; bad stuff happens but I get right back up and keep going. I was never down for long until that day in December 2010. It was the first time I thought I might not be able to get up. My name is Patricia, and I am divorced, single mom of three beautiful kids.

That December day my world was shaken. I was pleading with God to give me answers, help me understand, explain to me what on earth I was suppose to do now that I wasn’t a wife, and give me words so I could give my kids a reasonable explanation why their father wasn’t coming home.

One day my son was watching the football movie “Facing the Giants.” In the movie, the pastor is talking to the coach about two farmers who were praying for rain. One just prayed, but the other prayed and also went out to prepare his fields for rain. The pastor then asked which one of these farmers had crops that year, and the coach answered the one that prepared for rain. I sat there thinking, “Okay, God, I am going walk in faith and I know you will provide,” but I still had to go and prepare for God’s blessing.

One of my first steps in preparation was to tithe and give God the first 10 percent of my income.  When divorce happens, every part of your secure world gets shaken and the area that scared me the most was finances. So, instead of worrying I just handed it over to God. I promised him I would do my part and I sat back and watched him preform miracles. I could write an entire blog post on just His financial blessing in my life, like selling a house after only two months on the market, finding a rental house I never thought I could afford and making it not only affordable, but right next door to a dear friend! When the man I had trusted to take care of me didn’t, God stepped in. I acted in obedience and God blessed and blessed and blessed me. I challenge you to do the same.

Next step was to find a small group/accountability partners. Take it from me, it doesn’t work on your own. I am so grateful to God that He strategically placed amazing women in my life with whom I could throw my grown-up tantrums and cry about this not being fair, but who would speak God’s truth to me in love.

One day, almost a year since my divorce, one of these women took me out for coffee. I remember her asking me how much longer I was going to carry the burden of my divorce. I simply answered, “I don’t know. Maybe until the one year mark?” She responded, “Really? You are going to carry this for two more months?” I was tired, she saw my fatigue and she challenged me. Her words were harsh, but I knew her words were God’s words. He wanted me to release the burden of my divorce. That evening I began the process of forgiving myself and opening the door for God to do his will in my life. There is no way I could have done that without the support and counsel of godly friends.

In preparing, I had to figure out who I was. I remember having to fill out a form. I must have read “Single, Married, Divorced,” a million times. The voice in my head was screaming, “Just PICK ONE!” I didn’t want to be divorced, but I was. But I’ve learned being divorced is not what defines me. I heard Beth Moore say, “You cannot amputate your history from your destiny because that’s what redemption is.” I had to read it over and over to understand it, but it finally clicked. I can’t erase my past because that is what saved me! I always go back to Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” 

The last but very important preparation step was getting my kids under the umbrella. Earlier this month, Debbie Altman wrote about the Truth Behind Divorce. The statistics in her story about kids from divorced homes are scary! When I read her post my heart broke for my kids, but I also understood that does not have to be my children’s future. The number one thing I do is PRAY! I mostly pray that God will make up the difference when I fail. I pray for God to protect their hearts, ears, eyes and mind. I pray for God to bring strong men and women of God in their lives when they need it. I pray they will find it in their hearts to forgive. I pray they constantly seek God’s love because the world’s love has already proven to disappoint. I pray for God’s will in their lives. I read God’s word to them. I tell them every day that they are the son and daughter of the KING! Just ask them who they are and they will say, “I am the daughter of the King! I am the son of the King!” Reality is, I made mistakes and I will make more mistakes, but God’s word will never fail them. If they can get that now, then the sky is the limit for what God can do in their little lives!

When I was at my lowest, I cried out to God. He picked me up, carried me, held me and walked me through all of the steps I needed to do to prepare for the rain. As a result, I am a much stronger person, mom, daughter, sister and friend, and I have seen God’s abundant blessing overflow in my life.

If you are in a similar situation, I pray my story brings you hope. May you find peace beyond all understanding as God walks with you through the storm.

Kids are known for their honest talk and sometimes what they say can leave us moms laughing or running from embarrassment.

For our “Month of Truth” series, we asked a few moms of preschoolers to share some favorite “truth” stories from their kids.

From Susie Willey:

Recently, we met a friend at our neighborhood park. My daughter, Keira who is 3, and her friend, Annaleigh, had been playing pretty hard and Annaleigh needed a drink of water. Annaleigh and her mom went into the clubhouse to use the drinking fountain. Of course, Keira wanted to follow.

Annaleigh was getting a drink from the fountain when Keira stepped around the corner and said, “Annaleigh, look at that BIG guy!” I heard her say it, but thought that she was looking at the large cardboard Easter bunny. (She doesn’t really know about the Easter bunny.) She said it again, “Look at that big guy.” At that point, I peeked around the corner and sitting no more than 10 feet away was a morbidly obese man! ((GASP)) I scooped up Keira and bolted outside. I don’t know if that man heard Keira or not, but he probably did. Kids are so honest!

On a lighter note, while we were out walking one night, Keira saw an airplane in the sky flying past the moon. She said, “Is the airplane going to hurt the moon?” Ha! Perception is everything!

From Leslee Stewart:

We moved to Florida from Oklahoma when my oldest was 3. The first time he saw the white sand beaches, he said, “Look, Mama! Snow!”

At our first parent-child swim lesson, the teacher asked the kids to introduce themselves. When it was my 3 year old son’s turn he said, “I’m Rinner, and this is my friend, Mom.”

My husband is an 80s rock fan and has introduced our boys to some of his favorite songs, one of which is Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” We were listening to it one day and my 4 year old sang it at the top of his lungs like this, ”Shock to my heart, and you’re today! You give hugs a Band-Aid!”

From Trish Stephens:

My 4 year old daughter asked me how old my sister-in-law was on her birthday.  She then asked, “Is she 6 years old or 10 years old?” Before I could answer, she said, “Or is she 100?” How she jumped from 6 to 10 to 100 is beyond me!

My 23 month old son was out running errands with me this week.  The minute we get out of the car and I’m putting him in his stroller, he looks up and says, “Ot!,” which is his word for “hot.”  It was about 85 degrees that day.  He kept repeating that. “Mommy, ot! Ot!,” until we got inside the air conditioned store.  When we came back out, those were the first words out of his mouth.  He repeated this each time I took him out of the car.  I don’t know what he’ll be saying come July and August! 

From Nicole Powell:

My oldest daughter was starting kindergarten so we had been talking about school and school buses. One day while in the parking lot of Target, my 3 year old son, Braxton, saw a UPS truck. He pointed at it and said, “I want to ride the chocolate bus, mommy!”

When my daughter, Tegan was about 2 years old, and she would “toot,” we called it passing gas. Except, she got it a little wrong and would say, “Mommy, I have gasoline!”

From Kristi Crawford:

When my daughter Sara was 3, she was in dance camp and one of the girls in her class spoke Russian. The teachers were having a hard time communicating with her, so Sara walked up and very sincerely said she would handle it. She told the teachers she spoke “Dora” then proceeded to say, “Hola” to the little girl. The little girl just looked at her, so Sara then looked at the teachers and said, “She doesn’t speak Dora.”

We love hearing from you. Share some of your kids’ favorite “truth” stories in the comments below!

by Becca Christensen

Purity is a subject we single church goers love to hate.  I was in middle school when the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” craze hit and I grew up in church where “how far is too far” was asked in every middle school and high school small group.  My dad even bought me the book, Every Young Man’s Battle in an attempt to show me just what guys were thinking (it rode around in the car with me for months, becoming the center of many conversations).

What I’ve come to realize is the point isn’t how far you can push the envelope or how close you can get to the edge without falling over; the point is your heart.  Guarding it, protecting it and saving as much of it as you can for the person you will give it to.  We can’t separate the physical sin of sex outside of marriage from the bigger picture of emotional consequences.

If you’ve ever seen the “Pieces of my Heart” skit, then you have the benefit of a visual for what I mean.  It is a pantomime in which a girl goes through three relationships, during each she hands her heart over (a little less reluctantly each time), and gets it back at the end with a piece or two missing.  The final scene is her wedding day, and she gives what’s left of her heart to her husband.  For any of us who have been through a slew of relationships, we get a little uncomfortable at this part.  We can’t help thinking, “Is that going to be me?”

In each relationship we enter, we give away a piece of our heart.  Christians are especially vulnerable to this because we grow up in a culture where the ultimate goal of our relationships is marriage.  While dating with a purpose makes more sense than dating someone we would never marry, this is a slippery slope.  When we convince ourselves we’re on the path to marriage, there’s the danger of compromises before we get there.

I would argue that as believers we frequently miss the big picture.  Churched singles are taught that sex outside of marriage is wrong and you’ll get no argument from me there.  The bible is clear about sex being intended for married couples only.  Where I may stray from the norm is that I think we’re focusing on the wrong part of the Lord’s protection.  I don’t think that it’s purely about the physical.  I think the Lord created us, women, to desire connectivity and He knew that whether or not society tries to tell us otherwise, we’re not wired to have the physical without the emotional.  More than “setting limits” in our physical boundaries, are we guarding our hearts?

We serve a God of grace, forgiveness, and second chances.  I’m one sinner who is happy to bask in that. There is arguably more courage in rerouting your path to a future, healthy marriage after mistakes, than to having gotten it right from the beginning.  We have to stop asking “how far is too far” and focusing on the technical aspect of giving as much as we can without sinning, and start focusing on guarding our hearts.

I want to leave you with one final thought. I already confessed to being from the generation of dating (and non-dating) books. Somewhere along the way I read something that stuck with me.  The author asked, “If we can’t learn to control ourselves in dating relationships, how do we expect that we, or our spouses, will be able to be faithful inside of marriage?” Would we handle dating differently if we thought of it as our chance to build healthy habits?  Self-control and discipline don’t magically appear after you’re married, they’re developed before you get to the altar.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

Becca Christensen works as an event specialist in the non-profit/sports world. She loves to bake, travel, read, blog, spend time with family, and root on the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to contributing to the Beautiful Blog, Becca attends Beautiful Monday Nights. You can read more about Becca on her blog, Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

 

by Leslee Stewart

My family loves Chicken and Dumplings, so I’m always looking for a good and easy version to make at home. My cousin introduced me to this recipe (which she found on Pinterest), and it became an instant hit with my crew. If you’re looking for a yummy, home-cooked meal, look no further than Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings.

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings
serves 6

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp butter
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 can Grands flaky refrigerated biscuits

Add chicken to crock pot, then butter, cream of chicken soup, broth, onion and parsley. Cook on high 4-6 hours. After time has finished, take a fork and break chicken breasts into large pieces.

Cut each biscuit into 9 pieces and stir into chicken mixture. Turn crock pot back on high and cook another 30-45 minutes. Add more chicken broth if necessary.

Serve warm with a green salad.

 

Leslee Stewart oversees communications for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of Bohemian Rhapsody.