Talk, Pray & Be Vulnerable – advice for parents of teens from co-pastor and mother of 5, Trudy Tucker

FullSizeRenderMother of 5 and co-pastor at Family Word and Worship Church, Trudy Tucker is advocating that talking with your children, being vulnerable and practising consistent prayer are powerful tools in parenting teenage kids. In an interview with Family and Faith Magazine, the passionate pastor shared practical, sound examples of effective parenting at work.

“Once the kids grow up, one thing we have to do is talk. I try and talk to my teenager and teach her the Word,” she admonished, noting that “A big thing for teenagers is the whole idea of sex. The hormones are going, there is attraction and I have to give her the Word and I have to say this is why the Word of God says to wait.”

Laying down God’s rules is not the only thing Pastor Trudy does. She also emphasizes God’s heart and mind towards His children. “He doesn’t want you to wait because he doesn’t want you to have fun. He wants you to wait because he is protecting, because you are valuable, you are important, God has a call upon your life, you have a purpose,” she explained.

And what if those teens still disobey? The Family Word and Worship Pastor recommends prayer!

“I think we underestimate the value of prayer. We have to pray for our children and we have to cover them. We think sometimes that prayer is not enough and we have to take this into our own hands, no God is able. The Holy Spirit is powerful enough to reach them right where they are. We underestimate the power of God – we think to pray is just a little thing but we must really value prayer and you will see prayer work in your life. It can change things. It can change the circumstances and it can change people,” pastor Trudy testified.

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The down-to-earth pastor also highlighted the importance of being vulnerable with teenagers. “I have to be vulnerable with my girls to say listen, this is what I went through and this is why I don’t want you to walk the same road I did. We have to be real with them. The time has changed. They are exposed to so much more than I was at their age so I have to be willing to step out there and be real to let them know this is the road I went down, you don’t have to go down that road,” she reasoned.

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Pastor Trudy Tucker (left) with 3 of her children and husband, Pastor Junior Tucker

With children ranging from 21 to 6 years, Pastor Trudy counsels that disciplining each child may require a different approach and that it is very important to instill values and correction from children are very young.

“With one of my children I would just have to look at her, and that was enough for her to get her straight, with another one I would say that I am very disappointed and I know my little boy is like that, if I tell him that I am disappointed he is heartbroken but you have to start very early and in that way when they get older now they will listen so you don’t have to get to the point where you are now beating and spanking them because you have instilled the values very early on,” she counseled.

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However, what if you didn’t cultivate that relationship from the beginning? Pastor Trudy says it’s never too late. “A scripture that I love is that love covers a multitude of sins. It is never too late to start building that relationship and what it takes is a lot of love. Meaning you have to start putting in the time. It is unfortunate you don’t get it back. When they are older the time for the spanking, to me, has passed. Now you are going to have to reason. We are going to have to talk about it,” she insisted.

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Parents of 10, Major Neil & Jan Lewis on Effective Parenting Strategies & Outcomes that Inspire!

With 36 years of marriage, 10 children and 6 grandchildren in their quiver, Major Neil and Janice Lewis share their faith-imbued parenting and family management strategies and outcomes with Family and Faith Magazine. The Lewis family has 4 boys and 6 girls ranging from age 34 to 14 years of age. They are: Noel 34 yrs, Priscilla 32 yrs, Kathryn 31 yrs, Christina 29 yrs, Gabrielle 27 yrs, Raphael 24 yrs, Michaela 23 yrs, Elizabeth 19 yrs, Joel 17 yrs, Emmanuel 14 yrs. Family and Faith Magazine couldn’t be more pleased to share their testimony of faith in parenting, marriage and family life at a time when Jamaica and the world urgently need strong positive examples of success on the home front.

Lewis Family

Child Birthing Decisions

FFM: Did you make a decision to have so many children?

Major Neil and Jan: We decided that we would live by faith in Jesus, and made a decision to NOT ARTIFICIALLY RESTRICT the number of children we had but allow the Lord to decide how many children we would have.

FFM: Explain how your faith impacted your decisions about having children.

Major Neil and Jan: The song ” Living by Faith in Jesus….” became our operating principle. Initially Jan wanted 3 children because her mother had 3 children; I had wanted 12 children because my father had wanted 12. Although we had 10 children, Jan had 2 miscarriages. Because she hemorrhaged with No. 9 we decided to have any further children by caesarean section, hence No. 10 was a caesar. However, a failure of faith at this time caused us to make a decision to tie off Jan’s tubes. We were later convinced that this was a wrong decision and constituted a breach of our faith in Christ.

Education

FFM: How are your children schooled?

Major Neil and Jan: The first 5 children were schooled at a Christian Preparatory School, with Numbers 6 & 7 attending prep school up to grade 2. Thereafter these and subsequent ones were home-schooled.

FFM: What factors influenced your decision to school your children in that way?

Major Neil and Jan Lewis: Jan was very involved with our children’s education even to the point of jointly with 2 other persons acting as headmistress of the School while the Principal was on a six-month Sabbatical. She participated in bringing the Abeka home-school curriculum to the school. She also acted as Principal of a Prep school sponsored by our Church and our children attended that school during that period

So, all in all the last 5 children were home-schooled. This school developed into Redeemed Preparatory and Reading Centre operating out of our home.

We made conscious decisions to home-school the children up to grade 6 and send them to traditional High Schools for secondary education. These were Ardenne High and St Andrew high School for Girls, Jan’s Alma Mater. No. 10 attends Wolmer’s Boys, my Alma Mater.

FFM: Some of your children are now grown up, how do you now feel about your choices for them? Did it pay off? Are they becoming the people you have trained them to be?

Major Neil and Jan: Excellent without exception for the girls and the older group of 5. Less so for the boys who had difficulty with socialisation and adjusting out of the home-school environment into the public-school environment.

  • The first 4 earned full scholarships to the US Military Academies (3 Navy and 1 Air Force)
  • The fifth, a girl, is paying her own way through University
  • The sixth, a boy, is working to pay his way through Edna Manley School of the performing Arts in pursuit of a degree in piano.
  • The seventh, a girl, is on a scholarship from the Government of Brazil, studying Medicine.
  • The eighth, a girl, is on a scholarship at Venlo University in the Netherlands studying Microbiology and Statistical research
  • The ninth, a boy, is currently applying for suitable scholarships preparing for University, and
  • The tenth is in his fourth form year at Wolmer’s Boys School.

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Parenting Decisions

FFM: Share 2 effective ways in which you motivate your children.

Major Neil and Jan: We eventually, as we discovered the principle, divided the children’s’ lives into 7-year blocks as follows:

  • First 7 yrs motor skills and communication/language skills development ensuring they learned to read very early and were encouraged to maintain a high academic average of 95% in preparatory school
  • Second 7 yrs formation/development of supervisory and home management skills; i.e. cooking, cleaning and sibling leadership/discipline. Each one had responsibility for a younger one especially while the family is travelling; or supervising all younger siblings if the parents are out for hours, such as date night.
  • WE BRING THEM INTO ADULTHOOD AT THE AGE OF THIRTEEN; First they take a coming of age hike to Blue Mountain Peak (as part of a group), on return from which their status in the family changes as follows;
    • Corporal punishment ceases as a disciplinary method
    • They can take part in major family decisions and are privy to confidential family issues and discussions.
    • They must be prepared to supervise and manage the entire household in the event of absence of the parents over days rather than hours:
  • Primarily through the Prep and early High School years, we encouraged them to try different sports and skills such as competence in music,
  • Additionally, we told them we would ensure that they got a 1st class Secondary Education but that they had to earn Scholarships for their tertiary education which we regarded as compulsory or they must pay for it themselves.

FFM: Share 2 effective ways in which you discipline your children.

Major Neil and Jan: Up to coming into adulthood corporal punishment is applied according to age; “Spare the Rod, Spoil the child.”

  • Mother; one slap at age 1, 2 slaps at age 2 to 3 slaps at age 3
  • For severe offences requiring referral to father then this punishment is doubled
  • The end result is that especially for the girls, corporal punishment was no longer necessary by age 9.
  • Post thirteen years, withdrawal of privileges became the method of choice for disciplining.

FFM: Do you practice different parenting approaches when disciplining and motivating your girls versus your boys?

Major Neil and Jan: We encourage all the children to confide in us as parents even their most intimate secrets, primarily through family prayers and a once monthly Family all night Prayer Meeting, where each person is free to criticise/rebuke anyone else even us as parents with no fear of a negative response. The girls have an easier time doing this. We were deliberate in engendering a spirit of seeking and granting FORGIVENESS between them. The result is that there is no lingering strife and rivalry and they remain loving.

FFM: In general, what are your top 3 lessons you have learned about parenting over the years?

Major Neil and Jan: PRAYING FOR THEM INDIVIDUALLY DAILY.

  • This is a responsibility largely fulfilled throughout their early lives by their mother. This made them malleable in our PARENTING hands and enabled the Holy Spirit to reveal when things are going wrong.
  • Later we also implemented a Prayer Project System where we prayed and reported progress on an ongoing basis for every prayer need until the answer is granted.
  • Now that they are all adults, resident in many different time zones our family Whatsapp group is very helpful as a tool of encouragement, responsive (24 hr.) prayer and counsel for our daily lives.

Lewis Kids

The larger the number of children the easier the parenting responsibility socially AND educationally AND financially became; the older siblings help raise/teach/pay for the younger ones etc. Having this large number of CHILDREN OURSELVES prepared our household to always include at least one foster child who benefitted from our parenting and family bonding. We found that consequently there is always a reserve of persons on whom to call in times of need.

“Train up a child in the way he should go AND in the END, he will not depart from it” – we encourage them to give their hearts to the Lord Jesus from an early age. The Family Altar is the most critical component in the child-rearing challenge.

Marriage

FFM: What impact did having many children have on your marriage?

Major Neil and Jan: Up to the fifth child, it was an exciting learning process because each child was so different; At no. 5 the Lord did a paradigm shift which enabled Janice to freely move forward for the next 5 of our children. The large number of children was therefore never a burden or drag on our individual lives or personal ambitions. The Lord had given us a revelation early in our marriage that children must never get in the way of ministry but equally that ministry must never get in the way of family, so wherever family was ministry must be and wherever ministry was family must be, therefore we practised taking them wherever we went. They were always polite and well behaved, this was a skill honed in the discipline of family prayers. They have been a major bonding agent and have never been a burden!! We came into a revelation of the dynastic characteristic and the demographically essential nature of HAVING A QUIVER FULL OF CHILDREN thus fulfilling the Biblical requirement of multiplying and filling the earth.

FFM: Who comes first in your relationship, spouse or children? Why?

Major Neil and Jan: We have always regarded our child-rearing as a fully joint responsibility and have tried to avoid any preferential behaviour however I have found that;

  • For Janice her nurturing, mothering heart appeared to me to give the children priority; Jan prefers to say; that for her Jesus is first, followed by her spouse then our children
  • For me my Spouse was definitely first and it was difficult adjusting to put Jesus first before her and I believe this was responsible for the failure of faith I mentioned earlier on the birth of our tenth child.

FFM: What advice can you offer to parents struggling to raise respectful, responsible and loving children?

Major Neil and Jan Lewis: ESTABLISH A DISCIPLINED DAILY FAMILY ALTAR through which you train them to behave in church from they are infants.

  • We have used the ONE YEAR BIBLE and read through The Bible every year as a family since the birth of our fourth child.
  • LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM, and VALUE THEM as A REWARD from the Lord as the Word of God insists.
  • Discipline them do not abuse them.
  • PRAY, PRAY, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING FOR THEM! God has the Blue-print for EACH CHILD, they are after all His children first!

Responses to questions were graciously provided in writing by Major Neil and Janice Lewis to Family and Faith Magazine. Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

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Prime Minister of Jamaica Repents for the Sins of the Nation

Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness and his wife joined with thousands of Jamaicans on Saturday, December 2 to seek God and repent for the sins of the nation. Amidst leaders from most Christian denominations including Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, Independent churches and other groups, the Prime Minister passionately and solemnly listed and confessed the sins of the nation and sought forgiveness from God under open sky in Half-Way-Tree Square.

“Lord God and Heavenly Father, I come to you today on behalf of my nation, my family, my wife who is here with me and every family and person in Jamaica. I come as Prime Minister of Jamaica on behalf of myself and all leaders of the state and their various administrative staff, operational arm, and the various agents and agencies;

Lord God and Eternal Father I come acknowledging that we have sinned against the people of Jamaica, we have sinned against our fellow man, we have sinned against our family members and relatives, we have sinned against our neighbours, we have sinned against the children, the youth and the unborn. We have sinned against the poor and the weak and the elderly, we have sinned against the free and the imprisoned…” Mr. Holiness outlined.

Moved by the Prime Minister’s confessions and supplications, the audience could be heard weeping and shouting “amen” and “hallelujah!”

“We hereby seek your face and turn from our wicked ways asking for your mercies and forgiveness for sins and seek by faith and by choice to humble ourselves in your sight acknowledging our sins individually and collectively. We now take responsibility for our sins. As we come to you, grant us grace to obey you in Jesus name,” the Prime Minister petitioned.

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Explaining his perspective on prayer, the Prime Minister also noted that: “We pray not because we don’t want to work…we pray because we know our efforts will never be enough.

“We pray because God is stronger than us,” Prime Minister Holiness declared to much cheers and applause from the audience which tarried in Half-Way-Tree Square until after midnight.

The National Day of fasting, prayer and repentance was convened by Pastor Jeffrey Shuttleworth of Tarrant Baptist Church. In addition to the Prime Minister, several church leaders from various denominations prayed and repented about several themes including the family, the economy, violence, media and culture among others.

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‘I thought I was going to die but it was God cleaning house’ – Anointed Dancer Nickeisha Jones

Do sharp unkind words or attitudes weigh you down? Do you keep the cruel words and actions of others in your heart, allow offence to grow and fester, and refuse to release the hurt and the person who caused you emotional harm? Do you secretly malice the person and wish for their downfall? If your answer to these questions is yes, you may want to change your mind about how you approach dealing with emotional pain, because it turns out that malice and un-forgiveness can make you physically sick.

Family and Faith Magazine caught up with the beautiful soft-spoken and powerfully anointed Founder and Director of Laud Dance Ministries, Nickeisha Antonette Jones who shared about becoming seriously ill as a result of malice and un-forgiveness, some seven years ago.

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“I struggled with malice and un-forgiveness. If you say something to offend me I would just smile but in my mind, I usually harbor that person. And if persons offend me or I feel offended by anyone, the moment when they enter the room I would just leave,” she told Family and Faith Magazine.

Of course this way of handling offence can be problematic in a creative interactive environment such as in a dance group. “When the group (Laud) started that’s where I found that God started to really work on me. We had different personality clashes and as a person who was easily offended to be placed over persons who ‘go off’ any minute that was really hard for me,” the Dance Director said. “Persons would do stuff in the group and I wouldn’t take it well, still I was ministering; going out to churches, dancing,” she confessed.

Soon however malice and un-forgiveness would not only ‘cripple’ Nickeisha’s heart but also her limbs and her whole body. “It brought me to a point where I couldn’t even get up off of my bed to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t play with my children, I had no time for my husband, I couldn’t attend my rehearsals at Laud. The beauty though is that the team would normally come to my house and they would pray for me and stuff like that,” the talented dancer recalled.

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On top of that, her “blood pressure was out of whack, blurred vision, panic attacks, I took anxiety tablets, at nights I couldn’t sleep, my heart would be racing and it would just be really really crazy,’ she said, noting that she had to undergo numerous tests in order to find out what was wrong in her body. “I did an MRI, I did a CAT scan, I did a whole lot of tests to see what was happening with me, but they were saying that they could not find anything wrong,” she recalled.

“And I remember one day just lying on the bed and I was like ‘God what is this?’ And He gave me a list of persons to call and just ask for forgiveness because it was un-forgiveness that had caused me to become ill,” Nickeisha revealed. “It wasn’t until the Lord gave me the list of persons to call and ask them to forgive me if I did anything wrong, that my health started to get better. I thought I was going to die but in fact God was just cleaning house. After I had called all of the persons I felt a weight lift off of me,” she testified.

The season of illness lasted for about 4 to 6 months and was a difficult challenge for Nickeisha’s family. But the wife of 15 years is deeply grateful for the love and support of her doting husband Kemar Jones. “I am just surprised at how my husband really stayed and kept the family together.  Anything I asked for, he was at my beck and call. If I said Kemar, my head is hurting me, he is up, he was very supportive.”

 

Nickeisha

As part of the purging process from emotional pain and malice, Nickeisha stayed in prayer and the Word.  “Psalm 91 became so real to me. This is the Psalm that I would read a lot and I remember when I was reading it, He who dwells in the secret place….and I felt God hugged me and I called out to my husband and said Kemar you feel that? He is like, what?” she recounted to Family and Faith Magazine.

Clearly after the whole experience, the committed believer is not the same. “I get to realize that in order for us to be at a level with Christ we have to go through some of these steps and some of these steps are not easy. I remember saying, ‘Lord I want more of you.’ But in getting to that level you have to overcome something in order to go to that level and it wasn’t until I went through that that I realize that being a Christian is a serious thing,” she contended.

The season of illness wasn’t the first time Nickeisha experienced remarkable victory in Christ. She recalled when she had a miscarriage as a young mother and how she was tempted to take her life.

“The nurse said don’t push until I come back so as a first-time mother, if the nurse gives you an instruction even if you feel like pushing, you are gonna close your legs. So that’s what I did and it ended up sending the baby in distress because the baby defecated inside of me and inhale it and later on the pediatrician that came to talk to me said that if the baby lived she would have been a vegetable.”

A miscarriage can certainly be one of the hardest emotional and physical experiences for women, especially for a young mother. To make things worse, the hospital where Nickeisha delivered her stillborn placed her in the same space with women who had just delivered their babies safely. “So that was like torture. I remember when I was laying down on my bed, it was 4 persons in our cubicle and when I looked over I saw this teenager who I had learned worked in the market. She didn’t have anything. And another lady was there and she wasn’t married or anything and ‘the enemy’ just came in. I literally just felt a presence sat on my bed, it sank. And he was like ‘you do praise and worship, you dance, so whe your God deh, whe your baby deh?’ And he showed me the young lady who wasn’t married and the lady who wasn’t married with their babies and he showed me some other persons and I just draw the screen around myself. And he was saying to me, when the nurses do the last call just tell them that you are going to the bathroom, go all the way to the top and jump off the building cause you don’t have no purpose.”

Nickeisha was so broken by the experience that she had decided in her heart to jump. However, God in the nick of time, sent one of His servants to encourage Nickeisha during this dark moment.  Nickeisha remembers an African nurse who was to do the last check on the ward that night.

“She asked, ‘why is the screen drawn?’ You are not supposed to draw the screen because we have to see the baby. And the other lady who was across the bed told her that I lost my baby and then the nurse said, oh. And when she pulled the screen she just started to pray and she started cover my mind. She said ‘The Lord is going to give you a child that you think is like 10 children’ (which is now my son), and He is going to allow you to do things and she started to prophecy over my life and when she did that I started to feel different. I was actually planning out everything (to jump off the building) but when she was leaving she said God loves you and I will see you tomorrow and I said ok. And by the time she left, the place wasn’t so gloomy anymore and so I started to go over to the ladies and I went to the teenager and I said where is your stuff? And she said her mother don’t bring it yet, she will bring it in the morning. And I took up most of my baby stuff and I gave it to her and the other ladies and I just start walking around and giving away all the things. The only thing I kept was a blanket my mother bought and a booty.”

Since that time Nickeisha has experienced other miscarriages but she is happy for the two wonderful children that God allowed her to have; her 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.

Nickeisha is certainly a believer who has experienced God’s hand in her life and now more than anything else, the anointed Dance Minister just wants to make Him smile.

LaudCertainly the amazing performances and concerts that her dance group, Laud does are part of how she is seeking to please the Lord. Laud’s upcoming annual concert being staged under the theme “He Touched Me” is sure to be a powerful encounter. The concert is scheduled for October 14 and 15 at the Little Theatre with tickets available at the Theatre or at 129 Sundown Crescent, off Molynes Road in Jamaica.

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In the end, with over 2 decades of dance under her belt, Nickeisha is keen to ensure that in all things God gets the glory. “Anything you are doing for God, the moment you feel ‘flesh’ rising up, you have to say to God, take over. Because if you follow the crowd you will feed on that and forget that you are a minister. So you have to be constantly reminding yourself to say it is not for me to get the glory, it’s for God. At the end of the day whether it is that I am dancing or raising my children or being a wife, at the end of the day, I just want to make God smile.” SAH

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Who is your Model Woman?

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By Sophia Campbell (3rd left), founder of Model Woman Ministry

Clothed with strength and dignity, she is the Model Woman.  Far from being perfect but being perfected in and through her experiences and along the way positively impacting the lives of others. She is you, me, the stay-at-home mom, CEO in the boardroom, the single woman, the working woman, community leader, household assistant, pastor, no matter the role or position.; she is a Model Woman.

Six children she raised, a housewife, always at home and looking out for the best interest of the family.  There was never a day that I returned from school and she was not there.  She was also a dressmaker, who sewed only for her children and the only person who I knew could bake without using any measuring apparatus. Her Christmas cakes were the best!!  Every Saturday morning, bar none, she traveled to Coronation Market.  A trip she loved to make. I went on many of them with her.

She was wholly dependent on my father for financial assistance.  I loved her, but at the same time feared becoming like her, for the sole reason that she had nothing of her own and she was dependent on my father to provide for her.   She always honoured and respected him and served him hand and foot.

No matter what time my dad came home she served him a hot meal, even without him asking.  I hated that, because I never once heard him say thanks.  She was selfless and I could not understand why she chose to stay home.  Especially in an environment that was “not so harmonious” most of the time. Me stay at home?  Never.  Independence was the goal for me, my own money, my job, my things, my life…my OWN EVERYTHING!!!   

However, as I grew older I began to appreciate mom being at home. The place could not run without her.  It was proven time and time again.  She left a few times and eventually came back, every time.  However, overtime we took her for granted, but she remained steadfast in her commitment and unconditional love for us.

I remembered the last time I saw her, I was upset with her, because she did something for me and I did not like the way she did.  I left home angry that day. However, later I realized that I was too harsh and had an apology card, a gift and a bar of her favourite chocolate in my tote bag. However, my hopes of reconciliation were dashed when my sister met me at the street corner, before I could reach home that mom was in the hospital.  When I saw her in the hospital she was unconscious, she suffered a stroke and passed away.  I found it hard to recover.  It was difficult to forgive myself.  It took a long time to come to terms with it.

She was not a Christian; however, she always shared a scripture form the book of Psalms before I went to bed.  I would see her cry sometimes and I promised myself I would take her away from here one day and take her to a “happy place”.  I knew that she served and loved us through her trials and pain.  She sacrificed a lot for me, for our family and I did not get a chance to tell her how much she meant to me; how much I appreciated her. It was the one time in life I can truly say, “I did not get a second chance.”

Now, when I look back on her life. I realized that, though not perfect, she taught and showed me unconditional love, how to honour a spouse, irrespective of how the spouse treats you and how to manage a household.   She is my   MODEL WOMAN…one of.

We have an opportunity now to tell the person who is a Model Woman to you how they impacted your life and honour them for it.   This is counter to what we have been taught or seen, as this is usually reserved for preparing a eulogy. I am convinced that this should change and we should share our appreciation testimony while the person is still with us. Make the effort to let them know that they do indeed matter and change your life, for the better, no matter how small. Launched in May of this year, Model Woman is a ministry that has this simple objective; to recognize the woman/women in our lives who have helped to mould us and model the character of Christ to us.

Another person I consider my Model Woman is Mrs. Patricia Scully.  She mentored and discipled me for over 15 years.  She is like a mother figure to me.  Her advice to me is always “Remember who you are in Christ Sophie.”  Indeed, there are many godly women who discipled younger women; there were those who trained and mentored them, transforming them by God’s grace.

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As we reflect on how to minister to women today, we should remember and recognize those who have blessed us, particularly my Pastor, Mrs. Joan Fletcher, who encouraged me to launch the Model Woman Ministry and hosted it at her home.  The next meeting will be held in September 2017. For more information, check out Model Woman Ministry on Facebook.

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Kind Hearts fuel the engine at Stewart’s Automotive Group

Family and Faith Magazine is always pleased to highlight how successful corporate enterprises are giving back to Jamaica, especially those family-run entities that feature generations of savvy business minds with a kind heart towards the community. Indeed it seems as though kindness is what fuels the engine at the Stewart’s Automotive Group which has been putting their profits where their heart is, and in this season of independence Family and Faith Magazine is happy to highlight a few of the ways that the Group has blessed Jamaica.

The Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation

Since its inception in 1938, the Stewart’s Automotive Group has always played a huge role in working toward the betterment of Jamaica. However it was in 2009, that Diana and her late husband founded the Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation to further their efforts in giving back to Jamaica. The Foundation provides numerous academic scholarships for at-risk youth, including the children of the Stewart’s Automotive Group staff members.

Following in their grandparents’ footsteps, the six grandchildren responded to the systemic poverty in Jamaica by founding their own branch of the Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation, Kind Hearts. Kind Hearts focuses on community housing and education needs for underprivileged families in Jamaica. The grandchildren have participated in the construction and fundraising efforts of four compassion homes and several basic schools in rural Jamaica. In August 2016, Kind Hearts successfully reached its goal of building five basic schools in five years alongside Food for the Poor Jamaica.

Kind Hearts Ltd. Initiative Photo

One of Kind Heart’s biggest fundraising initiatives is the Colour Me Happy Charity Powder Run – the first run in colour introduced in Jamaica. Defined by creativity, drive and a passion for helping the less fortunate, participants of the run are some of the happiest people in Jamaica looking to have a good time and make a difference with their contribution.

Colour Me Happy Photo

Other Philanthropic Efforts

  • The Group rallied behind Food for the Poor Jamaica to collect funds and donations of canned goods and bottled water to provide aid for those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
  • In October 2016, Stewart’s participated in a Breast Cancer Awareness Initiative #DriveForTheCure with the Jamaica Cancer Society.
  • Stewart’s plays an active role in promoting job creation and training in Jamaica by being active participants in the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP); and providing work experience for student technicians at the Jamaica-German Automotive School (JAGAS) and the Ministry of Labour’ “Steps to Work” programme.
  • In 2006, Diana Stewart was Chairperson of the American Chambers of Commerce Jamaica (AMCHAM) Fund Raising and Design Committee and was instrumental in the fundraising and construction of the Grants Pen Model Community Policing and Services Centre developed in partnership with USAID, GOJ and the Private Sector. This new centre was valued at US$2.5 million dollars.
  • Stewart’s Auto Sales decided to contribute 0.5% of the total cost of every Suzuki sold, to the Economic Development Foundation of Jamaica, in 2007, in keeping with its Peace Initiative and to assist with the paying off of debts incurred whilst in the process of building AMCHAM PLACE, and purchasing additional property for parking and a Peace Park, now known as the CHASE Peace Park. In 2009, Mrs. Stewart, then the Chairman of AMCHAM Jamaica, was instrumental in hosting a successful forum on the H1N1 virus protection for Jamaica as well as a Health Safety Security Environment Conference and Economic Forum.
  • In 2008 Richard and Diana Stewart were nominated as Business Leaders of the Year by the Jamaica Observer.
  • Recognising the need for first class medical facilities, the Stewart’s Automotive Group joined a number of companies in becoming donors of The Tony Thwaites Wing Expansion at the University Hospital of the West Indies. This expansion still benefits the entire hospital. Stewarts has also been involved with health campaigns, including the National Council for Drug Abuse/Addiction Alert’s documentary “Put God First” with singer Roy Rayon and donating the profit for a car raffle for keeping an AIDS Hospice open in the fight against AIDS.
  • Stewart’s has always been supporters as well as a sponsors of Jamaican Sports and the Arts. The Group is a proud sponsor of Usain Bolt’s Racers Grand Prix. Additionally, on the Reggae Boyz’s “Road to France,” Suzuki Jamaica donated the proceeds of three cars to the three most improved players. Stewart’s also donated a Suzuki to several Test Series for Man of the Series for West Indies cricket. The Group was also a contributor to the establishment of the reconstructed Edna Manley Health Centre.
  • Other endeavours include working alongside several missionaries such as Missionaries of the Poor and Youth With a Mission Jamaica (YWAM).

The Holy Scriptures tell us that “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done,” (Proverbs 19:17). May the kindness of the Stewart Automotive Group continue to bless Jamaica in the years to come and may God in His wisdom and grace reward them abundantly.

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Successful GSAT Students Have Great Fun at Jewel Runaway Bay!

After months and weeks of intense preparations, grade 6 students in Jamaica braced and battened down for sitting one of the most feared events among primary level children and their parents, teachers and well-wishers. No, they weren’t expecting a hurricane, they were preparing for the Grade Six Achievement Test, GSAT. For 2 days in March, 11 and 12 year-old boys and girls sat what seemed to be the great arbiter of their future success in life. Even with hundreds of hours of study, sleepless nights and Saturday classes in their arsenal, some still wept and wailed on the morning of the exams. At the end of the period of ‘testing’, many realized that they gave the exams way too much power. They realized that ultimately it is God who orders our steps and that our responsibility is to dream, be diligent, work hard and believe that ‘God will work all things for our good’. Even with that revelation it is still very important to help the children unwind and release the stress they endured for months.

With this in mind, Family and Faith Magazine in partnership with Jewel Runaway Bay treated a handful of hardworking high-performing GSAT students from prep and primary school to a few days of amazing fun! Jewel is certainly well known for its kid-friendly fun-focused activities; from the exhilarating waterparks, kayaking and ranch activities to the kids, tween and teen centres where the agenda is always fun, kids are set up to always have a great time.

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From left – GSAT Students Nia-Ashley, Israel Redwood, Cara Burrell and Immanuel Redwood

Jewel Runaway Bay Hotel Manager Patrick Bryan told Family and Faith Magazine that when kids arrive on the property they have no trouble parking their tablets. “It is amazing when children come on the resort and how many sign up for the kids centre and tweens centre. We have games like Capture The Flag and Treasure Hunt and they would run all over the property to find something and bring it back and it creates such a joy to them and especially their parents because according to the parents, when they are at home, they don’t do any physical activity.”

RELATED: An Outdoor Adventure for your Family!

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Patrick Bryan (second from right) enjoying golf with the budding high schoolers!

Speaking of the students, Mr. Bryan a GSAT father himself noted that, “They need to relax, to recover, because after GSAT they are going to high school and going into high school you also have to prepare for that so they have to have this time where they can have some peace and tranquility – do other things than studying.” And so our four GSAT students who did exceptionally well in their exams and are now gearing up to enroll in some of Jamaica’s top high schools had their chance to enjoy the lovely property.

Cara Burrell, Nia-Ashley Harris, Immanuel Redwood and Israel Redwood worked hard and thankfully had the chance to play hard at the award-winning family resort. The 4 pupils put down their pencils and picked up an unending supply of delicious pizza, golf clubs, swimming gear, games and other fun stuff as they enjoyed the fun-filled property. At the end of their time, they told Family and Faith magazine about what they enjoyed most.

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Cara Burrell: – I was excited when my mother told me I was going to spend three days with my friend, Nia at Jewel Runaway Bay. We left Kingston at about 4:30 p.m. and got there at 5:45 p.m.. A lot of people were there having a great time. When we arrived,  Auntie Mellesley, our tour guide, gave us cold rags to put on our faces. Then she showed us to our rooms. Auntie Tamar stayed with us (Nia and I) in our room and was our chaperone. Nia and I got ready for dinner and went to a restaurant next to the golf course. They had a wide range of food on the menu but I chose my all time favorite food: chicken and fries. I liked the presentation of the food. After we ate, we waited for the golf carts to take us back to the lobby. We went to our rooms, got ready for bed and watched TV for a while before going to sleep.

The next day we spent most of the day at the pool. We also went sailing and saw a huge stingray. After that we had dinner at the Jade Samurai, a Japanese restaurant. The chef chopped up the food very fast. The food was delicious! After dinner, we went back to our rooms, got ready for bed, watched TV for a little while and then it was lights out as Auntie Shelly had instructed!

On the last day of our trip, we went to the recording studio and Nia and I recorded a song written by Kevin Downswell “You Make Me Stronger”. I thought we sounded melodious.  After that, we went to the golf course on a golf cart and played golf for a little while. I used a golf club very well. Later, I went to the gift shop and got a beautiful bracelet which I will treasure as it marks my fun trip to Jewel Runaway Bay with my best friend, Nia. I had a really wonderful time at the hotel. The staff was delightful; the rooms were comfortable; the food was delicious and overall it was an extremely enjoyable stay.

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Nia-Ashley Harris :- My stay at Jewel Runaway Bay has been an amazing experience. On the first day of our stay since we arrived at about 5:30pm, we quickly changed to go to the Great Escape Restaurant. We all enjoyed the peculiar dishes which tasted delicious! As it grew later, we made our way back to the hotel room and watched YouTube and Netflix on the television. Fortunately, for us, we got to stay up really late! It was so fun!

On day two after breakfast at the buffet, my best friend Cara and I went to the recording studio to record Kevin Downswell’s version of Stronger. Our tour guide, Aunty Mellesley, showed us to the recording room, made entirely out of egg cartons. This fascinated me because they used recycled materials for a new purpose; absorbing sound! This is so interesting to me because I love science. After we recorded the song, we played Just Dance at the tween centre. Later, we went to the beach and sailed out into the ocean on a sailboat. Our guide was fun and gave us an amazing experience! At 8pm, we went to the Japanese restaurant for dinner, where they had a stove in the middle of the table so the chef could cook in front of us. The food was scrumptious! The chef was also warm and inviting.

We also went to the golf course where our guide taught us how to swing our golf clubs and hit the balls. Our instructor said I was a natural! I am truly elated to have been granted this wonderful stay at Jewel Runaway Bay!

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Israel Redwood: – Staying at the Jewel Runaway Bay was very exciting! I will give 10 fun and coolest things I enjoyed the most:

  • I enjoyed floating around in the Lazy River
  • The long tube slide at the water park was great!
  • I went in the super speed body slide many times.
  • The food area at the Water Park was good
  • I learnt to play golf. This was soo cool!
  • I met two boys one from Canada and the other from the USA and we played table tennis together!
  • The video games were great!
  • In the games centre I played Fifa games for hours.
  • I really just enjoyed running around and exploring the property.
  • The Japanese restaurant was really good and new for me. The chef prepared the food right in front of us!

JRB - Platinum Restaurant - Mini Sirloin and Guava Pepper Lobster

Immanuel Redwood: – My stay at Jewel Runaway Bay was very interesting I would give them a 5 Star!  The ten coolest activities I enjoyed there were:

  • I loved the tube slide at the water park.
  • Another winner was the super speed body slide!
  • I enjoyed the pool. There were two just outside of my balcony and a small one assigned to my room!
  • The boat ride was just amazing – we went sailing.
  • I played table tennis with two foreigners and it was fun!
  • The Fifa games in the games room made my day.
  • I learnt to play golf. I believed I hit my ball the farthest!
  • Going to dinner to the Great Escape in the golf cart was exciting!
  • The studio recording was fun. My brother and I did an original acapella.
  • Watching the chef at the Japanese restaurant was cool. The Chef next to my table was fun as he threw pieces of food into the guest’s mouth.

JRB Guestroom View of Waterpark

RELATED: Swimming is for Everyone!

All in all, the kids gave the resort full marks, which is no surprise since the property was this year again named Best Family Resort in the region. Family and Faith Magazine is delighted that Scott Robbins was also honoured as Best General Manager. We couldn’t be happier! Jewel  Runaway Bay continues to be an escape from the wear and tear of everyday life to a welcoming place for great fun, beauty, camaraderie and relaxation!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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

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