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3FOCUSING ON MARRIAGE

5RESTORE

First Quarter 2014

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A FATHER’S LOVE

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LIFEPRINTS IS GOING DIGITAL


Professional Counseling Site Group Home where Children & Youth Live Campus (Community of Homes where Children & Youth Live) Regional office which offers foster care within a 50-mile radius in Alabama

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he purpose of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries is to protect, nurture and restore children and families through Christ-centered services. I want to share two stories with you that demonstrate our commitment to our purpose. Where did you sleep on Tuesday, January 28, 2014? Many Birmingham residents slept in their offices, their cars, in spontaneous emergency shelters, or in classrooms. On the 28th, we were caught unprepared by a significant winter weather event. One of our foster children was stuck at his daycare. He was in good hands and he was well taken-care of. But his foster dad became concerned that his foster son might be afraid. The roads to the day care were covered in ice and closed to traffic. So, our foster dad left the comfort of his warm home where he had a warm bed to sleep in and rode his bicycle in the freezing cold from his house to the daycare and spent the night on the floor of a daycare to spend the night with his foster son in an effort to make sure that this precious child did not feel afraid. In November of 2013, I got an inspiring letter from one of our social workers. She told me about a court date she attended where a family was reunited, after their three children had been placed in foster care on two separate occasions. The father of these children became so convicted after losing his children that he began to attend church, asked the pastor to disciple and mentor him, and made a commitment to fulfill his role as father and husband as he never had before. This is not only the story of a family reunited, but it is a story of a family restored. The penitent father expressed his appreciation that his children were well taken care of in their foster home and celebrated that he had invited Jesus into his heart because of the quality care provided to his children by the Children’s Homes. What do these stories have in common? In both stories, fathers demonstrated their deep love for their children. Here at ABCH, our vision is to see children and families experience hope and wholeness through knowing God. It is our hope that the children in our care will experience the love of an earthly parent or foster parent that will help them to see themselves as someone who is deeply loved by their Heavenly Father. We want to introduce them to the Author of Hope who can turn their tears and grief into laughter and dancing. What a blessing it is to see children being protected, nurtured and restored through Christ-centered services. Thank you for your support that allows us to do all that we are able to do.

Rod Marshall, President/CEO Email your questions and comments to rmarshall@abchome.org.

Alabama Baptist CHILDREN’S HOMES & Family Ministries

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by: Rod Campbell, LPC-S

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sometimes joke with my marriage counseling couples that I’ve never heard of proposal like this: “Will you agree to be my wife? I plan to start pretty well, but then financial pressures and a promotion at work will mean that I’m not at home as much as I used to be.” And I’m confident no woman has ever answered with: “That sounds great! I’m mostly planning to find all my significance in my role as a mom. As soon as we have kids, I’ll stop feeling lonely and I’ll really pour my life into the kids.” I know that nobody has ever had that conversation, but I’ve seen “that couple” dozens of times. The question at hand is how does one refocus once this has happened? One of the first things I recommend a couple do is to go back to the beginning. By this I mean: Never Stop Dating! With this in mind, let’s take a look at refocusing on some simple fundamentals of marriage. Make Your Spouse THE Priority. Remember how you made time together a priority? If the phone rang, you sprang into action, excited about the chance to speak with your special someone. It’s hard to rekindle that excitement, but it is important to maintain the priority. I once had a mentor who had the following policy while at work: Everything comes to a halt when my bride enters the building, and work continues when her needs have been met. If your spouse knows that they will always have your undivided attention and know you’re excited to hear from them, it will go a long way to creating the type of climate you are looking for in your marriage.

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Plan Your Time Together. Early in a relationship, we typically make time together the highest priority because we desire it so much. As more mature adults we need to continue to plan “us time” as a priority not just because we desire it, but because we need it. I encourage my couples to plan ahead to spend time together. Every couple needs this time without the kids to get away, recharge their batteries, reconnect, and remember why they got themselves into this relationship in the first place. Most of us started dating because we liked each other and enjoyed our time together! Remember to Have Fun! Nobody had to tell us to have fun early on. We were young kids dating and it was the primary goal of life, for goodness’ sake! With conversations about parenting, budgeting, chores, and in-laws combined with laundry and grocery shopping can leave a husband or wife thinking, “This is NOT what I signed up for!” A few years ago I sent a couple out to go on a date and they came back saying it had been “OK.” They had gone to supper, then decided to use this time without the kids to catch up on some shopping. They went to Wal-Mart for an hour and a half picking up groceries and such. I don’t know how they contained themselves! On their next date they played putt-putt then skipped supper and ate ice cream. They came back reporting that they really had fun for the first time in as long as either one of them could remember. Nothing in this article is earth shattering and it’s important to note that this will not resuscitate a marriage that’s on life support due to infidelity or long-term chronic neglect. But for most of us it’s important to periodically ask ourselves if we are really caring for our marriage the way we should. Going back to the beginning and refocusing on the fundamentals by remembering how to make our relationship a priority, planning ahead to spend time together, and having fun with each other is a great place to start the process of strengthening our marriages. Rod Campbell is one of our counselors with Pathways Professional Counseling, working in the Oxford, Ashville, and Gadsden areas. Pathways provides unique marriage counseling techniques including the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), teaching couples how to communicate effectively, work as a team, solve problems, and manage conflicts without damaging closeness and preserve and enhance love, commitment, and friendship.

If you read over this article and thought, “I want to try these tips for my marriage,” then try the GREAT DATE EXPERIENCE! This downloadable guide provides a date night outline for you and your spouse, allowing the two of you to have fun and prompting questions you haven’t asked in a while or didn’t know about your spouse! You don’t have to think about what your date will be like — just download the guide off our website at www.alabamachild.org/GreatDateExperience, pick a night, get in the car and go!


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here are over 400,000 children in the American foster care system, with 6,400 of those children right here in Alabama. For over 120 years we have championed the cause of these children by providing Christ-centered services to protect, nurture, and restore them. One way we do this is by providing loving group homes and foster families who are trained and equipped to serve their needs, with the Davenports being one of those families. The journey of foster parenting is not always an easy one—the situations these children have been through can be challenging. Despite the difficulties they may face as foster parents, Shawn and Vanda Davenport said yes to God’s calling to walk with these children in the hardest times to provide them a stable, loving home. Little did they know when they started this journey as a foster family that two children who came into their care, Caroline* and Samuel*, would call the Davenports their forever family.

ENGAGING YOUR CHURCH IN THE ANNUAL CHILDREN’S HOMES OFFERING

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“Our two children have not had an easy journey,” Vanda shares about Caroline* and Samuel*. “But the fact is that they can now feel safe — every day they wake up it’s getting better. My little boy lies down at night and asks about Heaven, and he has a mom and dad who understand where his fears come from because of the training we’ve received from the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries. We are able to comfort him and tell him he has hope.” Not everyone is called to be foster parents, but everyone is called to be a part of caring for these children. God doesn’t suggest caring for them—He commands it. How has God chosen you to be a part of taking care of the 6,400 children in foster care in Alabama? One way to share and advocate the need to take care of these children is through the Annual Children’s Homes Offering. *Names have been changed to protect identities

Davenports’ Testimony Join us and other churches across Alabama on Sunday, May 11 to share the Davenports’ testimony as foster parents with your congregation. Share with your church different ways they can be a part of our ministry, whether through foster parenting or supporting our foster families. We will provide you with a free DVD, bulletin inserts, and donation envelopes. Contact Kay Taylor at ktaylor@abchome.org or call 1-888-720-8805 by March 10 to order your free materials. Please include your name, contact phone number and email, current mailing address, your church, association, and number of bulletin inserts you will need.

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Alabama Baptist Children's Homes & Family Ministries Central Administration P.O. Box 361767 Birmingham, AL 35236-1767

BIRMINGHAM

PAID

PERMIT 2036

& Family Ministries

NON-PROFIT US POSTAGE

We are offering an online version of our Lifeprints Newsletter that can come directly to your email inbox! Sign up to receive your digital edition of Lifeprints at www.alabamachild.org/lifeprints.

Alabama Baptist CHILDREN S HOMES

Our free name tags for Vacation Bible School provide a great way to get children involved in our ministry and understand the difference their involvement can make. We have a nametag design based on the LifeWay Agency 3D theme, and an alternate design with a beach theme. Order your nametags by March 10 by contacting Kay Taylor at ktaylor@abchome.org or calling 1-888720-8805.


Lifeprints Spring Edition 2014