Husband & wife torn apart then pulled back together by God’s grace – Lisa Miller testifies

Growing up with a stepfather and not knowing my biological father led me to feel unwanted and not good enough. I found myself often trying to fit in with the rest of the family. My stepfather was very close to his family, which led to many family gatherings. I would purposely get involved in any way that I could while fighting with the thoughts that I would never be one of them. I never told anyone how I felt. I suffered sexual abuse at the hands of several family members, baby sitters, “friends” of the family, “boyfriends” and strangers. I revealed some of the abuse but was not defended or taken seriously. This led me to keep the rest of my “story” hidden. I felt rejected, alone and unworthy. I wanted to remove myself as far away from the family as I could possibly go; although leaving my brothers behind weighed heavily on my heart. After all, I had been caring for them for a very long time.

I decided to attend college in West Palm Beach, Florida. I did not even realize it was a Christian school. I actually didn’t even know what a Christian was. It did not take me long to realize that something was missing from my life. Observing the many “real” Christians on campus led me to ask questions and surrender my life to Christ at the age of 18 during a Wednesday night student led church service(Nov, 1988). I met my husband Rick in 1989. He introduced me to the Holy Spirit and what it meant to serve the Lord. We married in 1990. Through the years of raising children, being church leaders, owning businesses and Rick being an elected official it took a toll on my mind and our marriage.

Rick did not notice my absence from the marriage until it was almost over. I started to believe the lies from my childhood that I was not loved, unimportant, rejected and unworthy. It went beyond not feeling appreciated by my husband or even my children. I felt as though I was numb just going through the motions. I wanted to escape, mentally remove myself from being a mother, a wife, a friend, everything to everyone. When the opportunity presented itself for “my way” of escape I was hesitant at first, but the pull of removing myself from reality seemed too strong to resist. I was drawn by the attention, believing the lie that I could be something that I was not.

My heart turned against my husband as I sought my acceptance from others outside of my marriage. I felt as though I couldn’t resist the constant pull of “a way” of escape. I soon realized that for once in my life I had “control” of the situation. All the while knowing full well that I meant absolutely nothing to those who sought to steal every bit of morality left in me and every ounce of conscience of who I really was. I spiraled down quickly as I assumed my new role of being “in control’. I allowed my mind to believe that I was no longer worthy enough to be married or to obtain the role of being a proper mother to my children. I went to bed tormented with my new life swarming in my head. I lied to my family, my friends even to myself. I could no longer hide the fact that I was no longer in control. I could no longer hold inside everything that I was doing or thinking.

I confided in a “friend” which led to a series of events which eventually led me to the Women’s Refuge of Vero Beach. My initial purpose of leaving everything and moving into the Refuge was selfish at best. I was once again wanting to remove myself from my current situation. It did not take long for me to realize that my Heavenly Father was waiting on me; waiting on me to finally surrender and allow Him to pour out His love on me. I must be honest!

It was not easy to accept once again that God could love someone like me; damaged goods, a liar, a cheater a fake. I was so full of shame, guilt and wanted so badly to know that I was loved and accepted. My time at the Refuge taught me to rely on Him. My dependence on Christ was made very clear to me. Through his Word, prayer, teaching materials and counseling, I received the healing and acceptance I had desired for my whole life.

My husband, although hurt and angry desired for my healing and deliverance. He sought refuge in the Father as he cared for our 2 children left at home. Our love for each other was made NEW as we both surrendered to the Father and his will. We both made a decision to serve the Lord wholeheartedly regardless of knowing what the outcome would be for our marriage. The Lord restored faith, hope, trust and love. We spent many hours seeking the Lord and trusting Him with our lives as individuals. Our focus was on our heavenly Father and not each other. I cannot even pinpoint the exact time when we both knew that our marriage had been restored. The love that the Father put in our hearts for each other was completely unconditional. My fear of being unwanted and unloved was replaced with the assurance of that nothing can separate me from the Father’s love.

Advice and prayer for those in a broken marriage

My advice to those who are struggling in marriage with thoughts of infidelity or recovering from an adulterous affair, would be to surrender your lives unto the Lord. Allow the One who knows you best, to help you open up and be honest with your spouse. Your spouse has the right to really know you. They chose you above everyone else to spend the rest of their lives with. They have a desire to be loved as well. Trust the Father to help each of you to be honest about your past, your present feelings and your apprehensions about the future.

Father, I come before you and lift up my brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling with the lies of “who” they are. Help each couple to recognize their significance in you; that your desire for them to be whole is greater than their desire to be loved. Thank you for opening up a way for them to confess their fears, sins and hurt. I know that you will honor their commitment to seek you first and allowing you to be Lord of their lives. Continue to reveal to them your truth and may they know your unconditional love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Born in New York, Lisa has been married to Rick Miller for 26 years and the 2 have 4 children and 2 unofficial adopted daughters. Lisa is now the store manager at the Women’s Refuge Resale Shop and is currently taking a biblical counseling class in preparation to become a counselor at the Refuge.

Editor’s note: I heard Lisa’s testimony first hand at an amazing Healing Wounds Workshop organized by Pastors Junior and Trudy Tucker’s True Word and Worship Church. Lisa and her husband Rick were vulnerable and generous with the painful details of their story and their powerful testimony of God’s grace. It was an unforgettable thing to observe their deep tender love towards each other, their openness to others who were hurt and struggling and Lisa’s passionate ministry to all who came for prayer and restoration.  May God continue to bless her, her husband, their children and ministry. SAH

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

cropped-ffm-logo.gif

Advertisements

Swimming is for everyone!

Swimming has grown to be a popular activity for many groups within our communities. In fact, to say swimming is for everyone is not a stretch, but it is in fact the truth. In my many years actively involved in the sport, and now a teacher of the discipline and an advocate for the benefits of water activities, I can tell you without a doubt that swimming is for everyone.

Sarah

Babies and infants can participate in water activities

Babies or infants as young as 6 months old can participate in water activities. While they will not learn the technical skills to swim at this age, they will benefit from increased physical awareness as they experience their little bodies in a whole new way. From swimming lessons, babies naturally move their limbs, thus strengthening their muscles, coordination and even their lung capacity. In water, babies have the opportunity to explore with their parents and socialize with others their age, thus increasing their confidence. Babies who are involved in water activities and who are exposed to ‘swimming classes’ early are typically more confident, and exhibit less fear of water as they grow older.

If babies can do it, then there is no minimum age for starting your child in formal swim classes. Research from the German Sports College Cologne, “Baby Swimming: Advanced Independence and Development of Intelligence” has reported that children who engaged in swimming from infancy were significantly stronger and more coordinated and scored higher in intelligence and problem solving. They were also found to be more self-disciplined and self-controlled and had a greater desire to succeed.

Swimming is key to drown prevention

Based on these benefits, parents should get their child involved in swimming. Additionally if your child starts these classes earlier, then the possibility of them developing a fear of water will decrease. Gaining competences like kicking on their stomachs, being able to lift their head for a breath and being able to support their own body weight and eventually moving from one point to another, are all key to drown prevention. With increased exposure to open bodies of water, our children are more at risk for drowning or near drowning incidents today. Drown prevention is everybody’s business, and as parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that we provide our children with the skills they require to maintain life. Water safety is fundamental. It is a MUST. Swimming is therefore a lifesaving skill. Learning to swim can save your child’s life. Follow Aquaworx for more on our Drown Prevention Initiative.

How Swimming Benefits Teenagers and Adults

Teenagers involved in swimming (usually competitively) tend to be more organized and disciplined in other aspects of life. Training as a competitive swimmer requires dedication and commitment. Their drive to succeed in water often leads to their drive to succeed in other areas of their life. They are keen on time management and meeting deadlines. The discipline requires you to be a strong individual performer as well as strong team players. Outside of the damaged hair or sun drenched skin (which can both be prevented with the right products and practices) teenagers who swim tend to be extremely healthy based on the calories burnt as a result of a full body work out during training sessions.

Now as an adult, there are so many persons that can benefit from swimming (or water activities). This requires a dedicated article for itself however to support my claim that swimming is for everyone, lets briefly talk about Prenatal and the Rehabilitating sub-segments within the adult group. Water provides a gentle, weight bearing, low resistance and calming environment which is perfect for pregnant women and for individuals who are on the road to physical, mental and emotional recovery. Swimming, or water activities (prenatal aquatics or aqua rehab classes) are designed to allow these groups to increase their range of motion, stretch to de-stress and to increase muscle tone in a safe and progressive way. The gentle flow of water provides just enough resistance to challenge, but not hurt. Persons who experience progress in their recovery while in water tend to be more confident on land; their postures improve and more importantly, their self-esteem gets a boost!

I could write a book on all the benefits (tangible and intangible) since the list is long. Swimming changes and saves lives. Swimming is for everyone! Put it on your bucket list, not just for you, but your entire family. Sign up for a class today!

Narda Ventura is the Managing Director and Instructor at Aquaworx.

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

cropped-ffm-logo.gif

 

An Outdoor Adventure for your Family

There is an adventure awaiting families in the hills of St. Ann. For one weekend in August, New Generation invites families to escape the commotion of their regular days and enjoy a new rhythm while immersed in God’s creation and connecting with other families.

FamilyCamp3

New Generation Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization which has been in existence since 1985, under its former name, Circle Square Jamaica. We run Christian adventure summer camps, youth leadership camps, couples camps, camps for at-risk teens as well as family camps. We also host camps, rent our campsite and train persons through team building and leadership development sessions. Our programs are designed to use outdoor adventure and Christ-centered programming to help persons grow in their relationship with others and with God.

FamilyCamp2

Our Family Camp is only in its 3rd year but it is becoming a regular fixture on the calendar of some parents. Here’s what one parent had to say:

“My kids look forward to Family Camp all summer. They know they won’t be bored as activities are planned throughout the day for them to enjoy with their friends. They also love sleeping in a tent. I love that at camp they are outdoors all day rather than on their electronic devices. In Kingston, many families don’t have access to large outdoor spaces and our kids spend a lot of time indoors. So when we come to New Generation’s campsite, my kids are excited to have this beautiful natural setting as their playground. As the kids have fun, the parents get to have fun too. There are no airs at family camp. As we relax together in a different environment, we get to shed the restrictions of our role definitions. This way kids get to see different sides of their parents and vice versa. This vulnerability strengthens our bond and helps make our family stronger.”

FamilyCamp

Family Camp came about as a result of New Generation’s desire to invest in the family unit.  The camp has various components. Families can choose to sleep in one of our platform tents or in a bunk-bed style dorm room. Adventure can be found everywhere – in a huge tree house, by the river or on an adventure course with climbing ropes, chutes, tire swings and much more.

FamilyCamp5

There are break-out teaching sessions catering to fathers, mothers and single parents.  Parents are encouraged to pray with their children and include them in their faith story.  One session required each family to rate how well they were doing as a family in different categories such as: time in God’s Word, kindness, respect for parents and supporting each other’s interests. This time was an eye-opener and ended up being of real value to the families. Unlike at home, the kids had a voice in the group discussion and it was good to hear their perspective on things, as families talked about what they can do to make their family one that pleases God.

One father had this to say: “Family camp is an energizing mixture of adventure and bonding with other families in a beautiful outdoor environment that fosters rest. As a father there are things that you fantasize about doing in Kingston that became a reality at Family Camp – like sleeping under the stars. So each year we venture out to St. Ann for a long-awaited break from our daily routine. We always leave feeling rejuvenated. Our family gets a sense of hope and purposeful pursuit of the future. It’s a short time but at least it happens once per year and we thank New Generation for making it affordable.”

FamilyCamp4

Our hope is to keep making Family Camp an affordable and memorable vacation option where you can grow closer to God and closer to your family. This year we hope to have all 16 family spots filled. To find out more about camp and book your space visit our website at www.newgeneration-jm.org

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

Jala, Wade & Their Quiver of 8, So Far

2015.02.01-2015.02.01-Assignment-TheRidgards-0053

Jala Ridgard doesn’t look a day over 26 years or so. She is warm, youthful, practical, and generous, with a beautiful, easy smile befitting her personality. Maybe it is the love of her adoring, easy-going husband, Wade Ridgard, and the birth of her 8 biological children that keep the 36-year-old looking so young. Family and Faith Magazine was eager to get to know Jala, Wade, and the bounteous Ridgard clan,  so we took the trek up the cool, misty hills of Irish Town, St. Andrew to sit, sup, and share in their lives on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after church.

Jala and Wade have been married for 10 ½ years and during that time they have been blessed with not 1, not 2, not 4, but 8 beautiful children: Isa, aged 9; Hannah, 8; Seth, 7; Luke, 6; Grace, 4;Nailah, 3; Samuel, 20 months; and 2-month-old daughter, Hope. Today’s modern family oftentimes wouldn’t willingly have more than 2 or 3 children, much more 8, but the Ridgards maintain that their lives are ‘not their own’ but rather are submitted and surrendered to Christ, even as it concerns the very personal and sensitive subject of reproduction.

2015.02.01-2015.02.01-Assignment-TheRidgards-0010

Jala, who is from Kingston, and Wade, from St. Ann, met in 2003 through a shared passion for outreach and volunteerism. Through a conspiring of Wade’s father and a suggestion from Jala’s mother, the two eventually had the opportunity to interact. They were increasingly drawn to each other and became solid friends before ultimately tying the knot in 2004.

“I found that in spite of the fact that at the time I had this commitment to the Lord (to be alone for 2 years) I felt drawn to her instinctively,” shared Wade. Continuing, he explained that “we started seeing each other randomly. (For example) my brother was getting ready for his best friend’s wedding and he would just say ‘Wade let’s go to town.’In the middle of the week, I would go to Boulevard Shopping Centre and Jala would be there, or we are coming for a conference at the (then) Hilton Hotel and Jala shows up there.”  With Wade living in St. Ann and Jala in Kingston,all of these interactions were unplanned. “I became convinced that God was setting us up and creating opportunities for us to talk and to get to know each other,” expressed the doting husband and father.

Surrendering Her Reproductive Capabilities

Coming from families with siblings, both Wade and Jala expected to have children and to build a happy home together. Before they wed,Wade joked with Jala about having as many as 12 children, but the two eventually settled on 4. However, it seems that God had bigger plans for the young lovers. In the early days of their marriage they embarked on a 40-day fast with family friends. Jala shared that during that time the Lord spoke to her about reproduction.

“After we had devotions with them, I heard the Lord say that I want you to surrender your reproductive capabilities to me,”explained the mother of 8 children. “I didn’t know that it would lead us here, but my answer was yes,” she declared.

Her apparent obedience notwithstanding, Jala didn’t immediately stop taking oral contraception, the birth control method she used at the time. It was after learning more about how the pill workedand its negative effects that she eventually stopped taking it.

Asked if she is going to stop at 8 or continue having more children, Jala says she hopes she has the courage to continue to obey. “You commit to living a lifetime as a Christian, you commit to doing whatever the Lord asks you to do, but daily you still have to walk it out. It is like every day you have to make that decision again and again. I guess my answer is that I hope I have the courage to obey Him all the days of my life,” she said humbly.

2015.02.01-2015.02.01-Assignment-TheRidgards-0050

Her husband is also committed to their chosen path even though at first he questioned if Jala had really heard from the Lord. “At first when she said it to me,I actually doubted that she had heard from the Lord…Yes I wanted children but I wanted to ensure that when the children started coming our relationship was solid and we were prepared in other ways, as well financially and stuff,” he told Family and Faith Magazine.

Wade truly struggled with giving up complete control to God but eventually rested in God’s will. Theoretically, he says, he always knew he didn’t belong to himself but to God and therefore had to obey what he believes the Lord had called him and Jala to do. Ultimately Wade started to learn that living what you believe takes real courage.

“Walking this out was revealing to me how little I really believed it and practiced it.So every time I would be tempted to gripe or complain about how things were working out, how quickly the children were coming, having to deal with the criticisms, the cynical remarks and stuff, every time I try to argue with God about it, or try to get some scheme to regain control, I would hit up on this brick wall, that basically I am a servant and I don’t have the right to my own will,” he confessed.

‘Happy is the man who has his quiver full’

Asked how he feels about having his 8thchild in January 2015, Wade says, “Great! My only concern was that Jala would be ok and once I saw that she is ok, I’m fine.” The courageous couple welcomed each of their 8 children through normal,uncomplicated births with typical labour pains.They are now reaping the fruit of a bounteous family.

Of course, this is not how some view the idea of having more than 2 or 3 children. The family has endured criticism for their choices but they maintain that children are a blessing from the Lord.

“For a non-believer, I get it; my life doesn’t need to make sense to you and it shouldn’t because this walk is with someone they don’t know,” shared Jala. “But for the believer, for me, it is ‘Whose report will you believe?’From Genesis to Revelation, He is saying again and again, children are a blessing, children are the heritage of the Lord. The person is happy who has many, happy is the man who has his quiver full. So He is constantly saying having children is a good thing.So for me, everything points to the fact that children are a blessing and if we really truly believe that, how then can we limit it, because we don’t limit it with anything else that we call a blessing?” she reasoned.

God has shown His ability to provide in so many ways

Raising children in any economy these days can be a serious challenge but the Ridgards declare that God has proven Himself to be their provider again and again. A project manager at Fusion West Indies (a youth outreach ministry), Wade testifies that “God has shown His ability to provide in so many ways.” For instance, while living in Moneague the family was struggling, but after much prayer, Wade says “the Lord spoke to me and said I am going to send you back to Kingston because that is where I have provided support for you.” A few weeks later, he received an unexpected job offer and the family moved to Kingston.

In terms of education, the couple decided to homeschool their happy bunch. Wade, being the more philosophical one, was very attracted to the idea of homeschooling from the get-go, while Jala, the pragmatist, was more focused on the economics.

Initially,“I didn’t want to homeschool,” she admitted. “They go to school, I wave goodbye and I have my day free. I have enough to think about when they come back home. But by that time we had started to feel the financial pinch in 2007 with the financial crisis, so from an economic side it made sense,” explained the practical mother who has the awesome responsibility of planning lessons and teaching the school-aged children. After teaching for quite a while, Jala is now completely passionate about it. “I’m passionate about the results and the good things that come out of doing it myself,” said the university graduate. Jala says she will continue homeschooling for as long as she is successful at it.

Empowerment is making choices with Godly wisdom

Family and Faith Magazine wanted to glean from Jala what she believes empowerment means for today’s woman: “Empowerment is the freedom to be weak, when we really are. We can’t do it all, it is a lie.You can’t do the super career woman, the super mom, super wife and still be sane; it is not possible. I think wehave to make choices and I think empowerment is the ability to make those choices with godly wisdom and stand by it with every breath that you have.”Asked whether each woman should surrender her reproductive capabilities to God, Jala says, “I think we are called to surrender every part of our being to Him; I think we are called to surrender our whole being to Him, bar none.” SAH

Send comments to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

How Junior and Trudy Tucker navigate Starting a Church, Raising a Family and Loss

Tucker family

Several years ago Jamaica came to know Junior Tucker as the sensational reggae crooner turned Christian artiste. Few however know that he is now an ordained Pastor who has served for over 15 years in various ministry capacities in churches in the United States and in November 2015 launched True Word and Worship Church in Kingston, Jamaica. The anointed preacher, pastor and worship leader is married to his lovely wife Trudy and the two have been blessed with 5 beautiful children – Chyna, Zoe, Paige, Laila and Judah. Family and Faith Magazine caught up with effervescent Tuckers to talk church and family life.  Although they have countless joyous testimonies to share about the goodness of God, they have also had to weather excruciating experiences that have led them to put their trust fully in God’s sovereignty and His grace.

Foot-Stomping, Easygoing Church on a Friday

A typical Friday evening at True Word and Worship Church in New Kingston is always easygoing, energizing and relaxing all at the same time. With worship led by Pastor Tucker who is normally donned in jeans, sneakers and a long sleeve shirt, attendees can be seen on their feet singing and dancing in praise and eventually enthralled in heartfelt anointed worship. The worship session is followed by a practical sometimes hilarious sermon, prayer and oftentimes prophetic words for individuals who go to the altar for prayer. Parents can take their children along with them to church and experience a little break since in an adjacent room, all the kids are hosted by Trudy, a trained teacher by profession and her daughter Paige, a gentle mentor for the younger children. It’s certainly not typical to go to a full church service on a Friday night but the fun, fellowship and freedom are certainly what more and more people are searching for at the end of the work week. But how did the idea of planting a church come about?

Prior to returning to Jamaica, Pastor Tucker studied Theology and Psychology in the United States of America and served as Pastor, Preacher and Worship Leader in several churches. Through a series of prophetic words and his own sensing of God’s call on his life, Pastor Tucker was lead to return to his homeland to plant a church. Still, he admits that becoming a Pastor was never his plan. “If 13 or 14 years ago, you told me that I was going to be a pastor, I’d laugh… but the bible says that every step of a righteous man is ordered,” Tucker shared.

Explaining the meaning of the church’s motto No Perfect People Allowed, Pastor Tucker said, “One of the mistakes that we make is trying to get perfect before we come to church so I am saying no, come, we will help you towards perfection as we ourselves are being made perfect. So it is Christ who does the perfecting and he uses the church to do it.” He added that catering to the whole man is intentional in his ministry and that life application is a key approach used during his sermons.

Marriage and Family Life

Tucker 2Although Trudy, a trained teacher by profession, is a devoted behind –the-scenes supporter of Pastor Junior’s ministry, he wisely maintains that she is not married to his calling. “One of things you don’t want to do is to make someone feel that because they are married to the person they are also married to the calling. She (Trudy) is not married to my calling. Because what you don’t want her to do is now be in something that she is not called to do and is frustrated and then end up being miserable in our marriage and in our life,” shared Pastor Tucker, noting that this is why he specifically asks God for her specific calling so that her passion can also rise.

No doubt the Tuckers will continue to minister the word of God and the church will grow, but Family and Faith Magazine was keen to determine how they are managing family life, especially with the notion that Pastor’s kids are oftentimes  wayward and troubled. Trudy emphasized that is very important to stay involved in the children’s lives; in their music, the TV shows they are watching and so on. Through a close relationship, parents have ‘entrance’ to truly discuss and influence their children’s decisions, Trudy counsels.

Pastor Tucker adds that a key discipline for him is seeking and listening to the Lord as it relates to family matters.  “I know for me, being the head of the house, anytime I act like I’ve got this I am always in trouble, so I always have to consult Him (God), pray, find out what His word says about the situation I am dealing with or the family and He leads and I follow Him and then everybody walks with me.”

He also recalls discussions he’s had with fellow Pastors who were themselves children of Pastors. He asked them how they would raise their kids differently. He recalls those Pastors sharing that: “My parents sheltered me from the world so much, the moment I became free to leave the house I ran into it (the world), I wanted to find out what I was missing. So what they have done is they have had to walk with their children through the things of the world and so what I get from that is that they will watch TV with them, listen to what they are listening to and talk about it.”

The doting parents are also excited to share how God has blessed their lives with miraculous provision and healing. They fondly tell Family and Faith Magazine how God delivered on a promise to their firstborn, Chyna. “When my oldest girl, Chyna was 2 years old, her mother pointed her finger at her and said you are a getting a full scholarship at one of the best colleges in America and I’m going to pray and I’m going to ask God to bless you and she spoke it over her life and she kept on doing that and many nights she would lay hands on her and pray. Many times Chyna would ‘act up’ as a teenager and she (Trudy) would speak it over her life and call it (into being) and say you are what God says and God says you are going to specifically get a full scholarship and we saw it come to pass.”

Chyna is now second year at a university in the United States on a full scholarship. She was one of only 400 teenagers in the USA who was chosen for the scholarship.

Losing a Child and Remaining in Faith

You would never be able to tell by just looking at the joyous Tucker household, but just 4 years ago, they lost their second child, Zoe to a major illness. Accepting that the experience must have been excruciating and knowing that they still are charging forward into God’s plan for their lives, Family and Faith Magazine wanted to simply find out what Pastor Junior and Trudy left the situation knowing.

With tears streaming down and her voice quivering, Trudy points to “A tangible experience of God’s grace. There are days when you just don’t want to wake up or any regular person would probably be in depression or just can’t go any further. But then you know that there is something carrying you, literally just carrying you; you can’t explain it, cause when you should be down, you are up, you know that the fruit of the spirit is real – there is joy and there is peace.” Indeed Trudy’s experience brings meaning to the popular song – one set of footprints in the sand.

“For me is that He is sovereign,” started Pastor Junior. “I asked the Lord why did He allow her to die and He never answered me for quite a while and then one day I was in the kitchen and I heard the voice of the Lord speak to me. He said to me ‘do you love my grace’ and I said ‘yes Lord’. He said to me, ‘what is grace?’ and I said ‘Grace is undeserved favour’. He said ‘you love my grace don’t you?’ I said ‘yes Lord’. He said you’ve never questioned my grace. Then he said to me, who can question my grace when I give it? I said ‘nobody Lord.’ He said, ‘In order for me to give grace I must be sovereign because only a sovereign God can give grace. But you love my grace but you don’t want to love me when I am sovereign. In order for me to grant grace, I must be sovereign.”

W139

While his reverence for God has grown tremendously, Pastor Junior admits that he remains heartbroken. Nevertheless, the man of God continues to hearken to the voice of the Lord and pursue His will. Recently Pastor Tucker launched a new 12-track island worship album, Jesus Famous and hosted a worship party at New Kingston Shopping Centre. Speaking to his evolving journey as a Gospel artiste and Pastor, Tucker said that God alerts him when it’s time to embark on another musical project. “These songs come and I wrestle with them lyrically, I get the melody, I get the songs together…and put the album together,” he explained passionately noting that he is simply a channel for the delivery of God’s heart to the body of Christ. SAH

Dr. Wayne Henry on Faith, Family and Fatherhood

Family and Faith Magazine had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing the erudite and affable Dr. Wayne Henry, new Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica on matters of faith, family and fatherhood. At the end of the process, we developed a new sense of admiration for this humble man of God. May His testimony inspire other men to “press the pedal of their potential!” Enjoy our discussion below.

waynehenry

Family and Faith Magazine: How important is prayer in your life?

Dr. Wayne Henry: Prayer is extremely important. With the word of God (the Bible), prayer forms the core of my Christian life and experience.

Family and Faith Magazine: What role does faith play in your life as a respected professional, as husband and father?

Dr. Wayne Henry:  At the risk of sounding very spiritual, the Bible says that the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2: 4, rom. 1: 17, gal. 3: 11). I have found that to be true in my life. Faith in God has become a way of life, governing the expanse ranging from my day to day expectations, to the long-term outcomes I anticipate for my life, the lives of family members, friends, the future of the country, everything. Isaiah 26: 12 (nv) says that all that we have accomplished, the Lord has done for us. So whether it is in goal-setting, being armed with the right attitude, in striving for excellence, moving on from failures and disappointments, or achieving favourable outcomes, for me it’s all about faith in a loving God. “Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths (prov. 3: 5 – 6).

Family and Faith Magazine: What do you love most about being a father and why?

Dr. Wayne Henry: Being a father is a tremendous privilege and a huge responsibility. There are many things I love about being a father. Among them, I love the opportunity I have with my wife to build a loving family, to partner with her in demonstrating love, setting example and building a home. Many things… but I think I love most the deep love and joy I experience through my relationships with my wife and children. They are truly a blessing from the Lord.

Family and Faith Magazine: What are the 3 most important functions you believe you must perform as a good father?

Dr. Wayne Henry: The 3 most important functions as a father are: (1) to be present (spend quality time with your children – more than things, children want your presence). This also enables (2) to model – set example for them – live before them.  Demonstrate love, hard work, discipline, faith in God, service to others.  Don’t just dictate but demonstrate. This is part of mentoring. (3) motivate – encourage them in their purpose, speak to their potential, the power that lies within them. Encourage them that they have what it takes to live their life fully.

Family and Faith Magazine: If you could go go back in time and offer advice to your 16 year old self, what would you say?

Dr. Wayne Henry: Give God full control of your life, there is so much good that he has in store for you, according to his purpose. Give him that permission and that chance to unfold what he has in mind for you, what he has destined from long ago. There will be mountains and valleys, heartaches as well as rejoicing, sunshine as well as dark days. But in the end all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Allow God, invite Him in, and fasten your seatbelt as you press the pedal of your potential.

Dr. Wayne Henry is the new Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica. He has been married to his beautiful ophthalmologist wife, Gail for 9 years. He has an older son, Mathew (28 years). Together Gail and Wayne have 2 children, Joshua (7 years old) and Gabrielle (5 years old).

Sweet as ‘Kandi’ – Overachieving Principal of the Year, Wife & Mother, Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith Shares How God Orders Her Steps

When the Family and Faith Magazine team arrived at Allman Town Primary School in Kingston, we couldn’t help but notice the smart Bluetooth earpiece on Kandi-Lee’s ear, her quiet confidence and sense of assurance and grace as she walked across the schoolyard; instructing a child here, talking with a teacher there. This was no ordinary educator. The petite youthful dynamo is a superlative principal with achievements, awards and accolades to fill the seats in any primary school classroom…and that’s a lot of seats! In this Easter Edition, we couldn’t be more pleased to showcase the story of the sweet, humble and considerate Lasco / Ministry of Education Principal of the Year, Kandi-Lee Crooks Smith and how her faith charts her personal and professional success.

2016.02.17-Assignment-AllmanTownPrimary-0034

Through the eyes of her adoring husband of 14 years, Kandi-Lee is “such a humble person. I don’t think most people who know her, really know all that she has accomplished and all the awards she has. They are not the stars in her crown,” Oniel Smith told Family and Faith Magazine. “She is always seeking how to help someone else, sometimes giving of her per personal things. I tease her and say she should take the bed to school next, because whatever is needed for the school, the students and teachers to benefit, she is going to get it,” he shared.

2016.02.17-Assignment-AllmanTownPrimary-0069

Describing her as “nice to be near, conscientious and kind,” Oniel says the mother of their two children (Jo-Nathan, 11 and Kayth-Lyn 4), “loves from the depths of her being. I know she is tired, but she has a drive to keep going that keeps everyone else going. Sometimes I feel like Aaron, holding her hand up. No sense telling her not to do something if she is sure that’s what the Lord is instructing her to do.”

Reflecting on their years of married life, Oniel, employed to the Ministry of Education, speaks with intimacy and appreciation for his ‘Kandi’: “I remember the days when we just got married I was doing voluntary work at church and between us there was not a lot of funds. She doesn’t make a fuss about getting material things- clothes, shoes etc. There are many times she does her own nails and hair (of course I have to help plait the braids, or relax the back of her hair), but given how busy she is and our lifestyle, she just always says whatever we have we will make it work. She still says she is sticking by me through the poorer, so she qualifies for the richer!  She is my traveling companion we do everything together. There is never a dull moment.”

Kandi-Lee is a trained teacher employed to the Ministry of Education in Jamaica. She holds a diploma in Primary Education from the Mico Teachers’ College (Now University College), and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  She also has a certificate from East China Normal University and was one of two Jamaican Principals who received a Fellowship- Seminar for Principals in the Caribbean, South Pacific and Latin American Countries – Shanghai, China 2014. Presently, Kandi-Lee is the principal of the Allman Town Primary School.

In addition to her educational prowess, the educator has received numerous awards for her work in education and the development of the Allman Town Community. She has also shared her experience and knowledge through a variety of workshops and seminars.

  • 2015-2016 Lasco/Ministry of Education Principal of the Year
  • Governor General’s Youth Award of Excellence 2009-significant contribution to community
  • The British Council/Ministry of Education System and School Management Coaching Programme – Trainer
  • Mentor and Coach of Principals in Jamaica
  • The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program – 2013
  • Presenter – Trainer of Leaders USAID/ Ministry of Education Jamaica Basic Education Project 2011
  • Presenter-Canadian Obesity Conference, Vancouver BC May 2013
  • Presenter- Conquering Childhood Obesity Symposium 2012, University of Toronto
  • Guest and Motivational Speaker- various schools and organizations 2008-present
  • The Mico University College 175th Anniversary Award of Excellence 2011
  • The Mico Teachers College Top Ten Awardee 1998-Student of the Year Competition
  • Valedictorian – Mount St. Vincent University November 2009
  • Jamaica Teaching Council Award for Leadership and Achievement of Excellence September 2010

Family and Faith Magazine’s Editorial Director, Shelly-Ann Harris sat with Kandi-Lee to learn more about the lady behind the accolades and achievements.

2016.02.17-Assignment-AllmanTownPrimary-0020

SAH: How has your faith influenced your professional choices?

KLCS: My steps are ordered by God. I have always asked Him to lead me and direct my choices. I also have a host of persons who lift me up in prayer. My mom has a sixth sense that is always alert. She will call and give a blessing or a word of encouragement when it’s really needed. I have parents who will call and say they are praying for me.

I always wanted to be a teacher; I think it was influenced by my Aunt and the dedication with which she served her students. I remember asking God what I should do after leaving sixth form at St. Andrew High School for Girls. I was not even at the acceptable entry age at the time of application. I was too young. But I was accepted and given an Advanced Placement at Mico, so I went straight to the second year of college. I was living in Allman Town where I grew up and my mother, aunt and grandmother definitely weren’t rich! Mico was therefore my best option financially, but outside of that, it was all in God’s plan for my life. I walked to and from the Mico. I met amazing lecturers who saw value in me, and took me under their wings. There were times I stayed behind or I walked to the college just to get supper from the cafeteria. The cooks began to look out for me. Now there is a bond between Mico and me. This has allowed our teachers and students to benefit from numerous initiatives.

Now whenever situations or opportunities present themselves, I place them before God. Like David, I ask ‘Should I go Up, Lord?’ I am constantly asking for His direction. I guess that is a manner of praying without ceasing. It’s that heart to heart conversation that happens even without any forced effort. It’s that subconscious connection that keeps my spirit conscious and my mind conscientious at the same time.

SAH: Keep your spirit conscious and your mind conscientious, I like that. Describe for us now your relationship with your students and teachers.

KLCS: The students and by extension the parents are very special to me. I think it’s because I understand from firsthand experience what it is they go through on a daily basis. Living in the inner-city has its fair share of struggles and its fair share of hopelessness attached to the struggles. But when students realize that somebody actually cares and has hopes for them to succeed, they begin to have that intrinsic motivation, they too want to excel regardless of their circumstances. They and their parents are appreciative. I have an open door policy for most students and staff, so as long as I’m available they can walk in and have a conversation with me. The students will see me on the corridors, or are in the schoolyard and they will walk up and give me a hug or they start to share some information whether it’s their birthday or a relative has died, their mother got a new job…just about anything. They look forward to being rewarded for the good things that they have done and it doesn’t always have to be something that is tangible or can be bought with money. In fact a smile, a hug, a high five, they appreciate it. I love to give them new exciting and innovative experiences and show them that they are first-class, world-class students because they belong to our school.

I always say that I have the best crop of teachers in the world, not because they always agree with everything that I do but because at the end of the day once they see the vision and they understand what our mission is, then they are right there with me. A colleague shared the term ‘followership’ just recently. That is important. Persons follow because they see the wisdom in the leadership and are willing to follow. They might not always agree with the reason or the wisdom but are willing to follow based on trust and mutual respect because they see the results of what that brings.  I believe that is what we have.  I really appreciate my teachers and support staff members.

SAH: That’s quite a beautiful relationship with your teachers and students. Turning now to your family life, what do you enjoy most about being married and being a mom?

KLCS: I love having a companion, a friend, a sounding board who is available to me at all times. My husband is amazing. He helps to provide the adventures we need to keep us balanced and grounded. He has a song for every situation. Sometimes he calls and plays or sings me a song, then hangs up. Lol. I also love that at whatever time I am afraid or uncertain, I can call him or send him a message to pray for me. There are times when he physically comes to my office and places his hands on my head or shoulder and prays for me.

I love seeing my children happy or excited. We try to provide meaningful experiences for them, and help them to have fond memories. Impromptu trips are my favourite. I love when they try to surprise me, my daughter would say close your eyes mom, and my son tries to speak to me in a French accent! Hilarious bunch they are! They are all my real life teddy bears.

SAH: Sounds like a loving family, how is your faith lived out in your family life?

KLCS: I can say for a fact that having a family and the expenses related to that, is in itself a daily test of faith. The provisions that are made through other family members and friends can convince anyone that God is real. We constantly tell our children to practice graciousness. Give thanks for the provisions, because many times they are nothing short of a miracle. The decision we made, as to where to send our children to school, did not make sense to many persons, but we asked God to direct us. Oniel and I spoke about it. I prayed about it. Now they are close to us, and doing well in their schools right here in the inner-city.

SAH: As a high-performing principal, what strategies do you employ to manage your time so that your husband and children get quality time?

KLCS: I honestly think I am still figuring out how to manage my time so that my husband and children get quality time. What has been helping is that fact that we all work and study in the same vicinity. We capitalize on our commuting time, if there is something pressing to discuss, a new song to share (yes the children love to sing like their dad), or a new book to read. We usually attend functions together as well. We sometimes leave the children with their grandmother in St. Ann on our way to a workshop in some other parish, or may have someone from church or a close friend keep them for a few hours.When we go to visit my mother who is abroad, we always try to ensure that our time synchronizes. I know though that it helps that we basically enjoy or participate in the same activities, so that’s really how we spend some time together.

Additionally, my husband tries to have lunch with me at my desk as much as is possible. He actually comes and commands me to stop working and let’s eat! I need that sometimes, no, most times. If I don’t get that, I just keep going.

Kandi-Lee certainly has a lot on her plate, but with God’s help and the love of her doting husband, she is achieving with grace and humility. May her faith continue to keep her sincere, successful and as sweet as ‘Kandi’!

 

CHRISTMAS is about giving and forgiving!

ffm-christmas-cover

Christmas is about giving and putting others first, in the same way that God through Christ gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believed in Him would receive the gift of eternal life. Christmas is also about reconciliation and forgiveness, first between God and mankind and second amongst ourselves as people living together in families and community.

Let’s be sure to embrace those core values of Christmas this season and stay true to the power of the Lord’s amazing intervention into our lives through the virgin birth so many years ago. I invite you to turn the pages of this empowering Christmas edition, enjoy the stories and features and apply the truths that are relevant to your life. The ‘We will be re-united with Dominic’ feature is especially heartwarming and instructive for those who are grappling with the loss of a loved one during this time.

And of course, send us your feedback!

On behalf of all of us here at Family and Faith Magazine, I wish for you a peaceful, meaningful and holy Christmas. May God’s presence and power be made manifest in your lives now and throughout 2017!

God bless you!

Shelly 2016

 

 

Editorial Director & Founder

Shelly-Ann Harris

@harrisshellyann

 

A big thank you to our sponsors, advertisers and hardworking team for their support for the Christmas Edition and throughout 2016!

  • Nia-Ashley Harris, Child Writer
  • Judah Nathan Lewis, Child Writer
  • Abigail Watson, Child Writer
  • Anna Brown, Writer
  • Christopher Brodber, Contributor / Writer
  • Arlene Rose, Contributor/Writer
  • Warren Harris, Senior Sales Associate
  • Gabre Cameron, Photographer
  • Monique McLeod, Professional Makeup Artist
  • Tamar Henry, Administrative Executive
  • Anna Aguilar, Designer
  • Shelly-Ann Harris, Writer, Editorial Director

Family & Faith Magazine Marks First Anniversary with Fun Summer Edition

FFM JuneQuarterly Christian publication, Family and Faith Magazine will mark its first anniversary in June 2016. Published by Breadknife Productions with the support of loyal sponsors the Jamaica Broilers Group and Digicel Jamaica, the magazine has received outstanding reviews from thousands of readers all across Jamaica, the Caribbean, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and many other countries. Below are comments from readers on popular magazine articles over the past year; articles that were discussing matters of faith, love and relationships:

“I would say I haven’t gotten the happily ever after I had hoped for…..almost 21 years ago. But reading these family stories, I am so encouraged to seek God’s will for my life – separated and single parent. I can be fulfilled even in my current status. I need to surrender all to Him!” – Karen

“Very inspiring story … I was encouraged in my own faith walk; thank you for making these type of “local” miracles known – i.e. God is also working in our own Jamaica.” – Keith

“It’s 1:31am and I am up reading …these real life story has really touched my heart …” – Carla

“Quite touching piece. You are an inspiration to others who feels that they are alone with all the negative feedbacks that others have to offer. People sometimes gives up when they feel that they are alone and have no support but because love is blind you have proven to others it’s not what you see but how you feel straight from the heart.” – Maranique

Editorial Director and Founder, Shelly-Ann Harris is thankful for the support the magazine has received over the past year. “It’s been a year since the debut of our glossy magazine format and we are thankful for our hardworking production team, our loyal readers, our partnership with the Gleaner Company and of course our dedicated sponsors Jamaica Broilers group and Digicel Jamaica. To God be glory, great things He has enabled us to do together,” expressed Harris.

The magazine’s main sponsors also had words of commendation for the publication. “We are thrilled to be a part of Family and Faith Magazine. This publication explores and in fact, celebrates what is right with Jamaica,” the Jamaica Broilers Group shared in a statement.

“Digicel is happy to be a part of a magazine that promotes wholesome family living. The values that the articles instill will only serve to have a positive impact on the readers,” notes Elon Parkinson, Head of Public Relations at Digicel Jamaica.

The summer edition of the magazine will be inserted in select copies of the Gleaner in Kingston on Monday, May 30, 2016 and will also be available (for sale) at Fontana Pharmacies islandwide. The digital and web versions also become available on the same date. The theme for the summer edition is fun and features a front page Editor’s Choice story on the exceptional Jewel Resorts; exciting summer activities for kids plus stories of faith from known actress Camille Davis and sensational songstress Samantha Gooden.

Access the FREE digital copy of our summer edition here => Summer Fun!