Feature Stories

  


Fruits of the Spirit by Alan Meyers

 

Have you ever met anyone who you could just tell was a Christian? For some, you can tell by the language they use, but others just have that love appeal to them. Let's face it, some people are more loveable than others. Some have it and some don't. YE SHALL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS. Matthew 7:16. So we should be able to recognize people by whether or not they are being fruitful in the Lord. But it is easy to be deceived by unknown spirits. We must be cautious about this and search the scriptures. BELOVED, BELIEVE NOT EVERY SPIRIT, BUT TRY THE SPIRITS WHETHER THEY ARE OF GOD. 1 John 4:1  

Jesus talks about the Father being the husbandman and he is the true vine. ABIDE IN ME AND I IN YOU. AS THE BRANCH CANNOT BEAR FRUIT OF ITSELF, EXCEPT IT ABIDE IN THE VINE; EXCEPT YE ABIDE IN ME. John 15:4. So Jesus is explaining how important it is to remain in him in spirit. Without him we can do nothing he says In the next verse. He then goes on in verse 7, IF YE ABIDE IN ME AND MY WORDS ABIDE IN YOU, YE SHALL ASK WHAT YE WILL, AND IT SHALL BE DONE UNTO YOU. This is a promise that God does answer prayers. If we're not bearing fruit we are probably not in God's will. Maybe there is a sin we have been struggling with for a long time. Or maybe it's something the holy ghost recently convicted you of. When we lay down our sin and give all of us to the Lord, we find a new freedom. Other people will recognize that we are different. They will see the fruit of the spirit in us. We are to be examples of what a true saint should be. Sure saints aren't perfect, but we are forgiven. We do try to set the stage for Christ to come back.   

So how do we know if we are bearing fruit? Paul tell us in the Bible. BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS, FAITH, MEEKNESS, TEMPERANCE: AGAINST SUCH THERE IS NO LAW. Galatians 5:22. So what does it mean there is no law? Well, if we are in the spirit of the Lord, we are bearing the fruit making it impossible to sin. So if we are not sinning, we are not breaking the law of God. David talks about the righteous when he says THE LAW OF HIS GOD IS IN HIS HEART; NONE OF HIS STEPS SHALL SLIDE. Psalm 37:31. We are instructed to meditate on the law day and night. The more we study the scriptures, the more holy we can become. MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE: Hosea 4:6. So we see how important it is to learn our Bible. One might be leery about reading the Bible because the might be convicted of the wrong things we are doing in our life. Maybe we are content in our sin. One thing I know for sure is the closer we come to God the happier we will be. A spiritual life is a much more softer easier way. It's a new way of life. We can still have fun, but it becomes a new, more healthy fun.  

As far are physical fruit we are shown that there will be the tree of life in heaven.  IN THE MIDST OF THE STREET OF IT, AND ON EITHER SIDE OF THE RIVER, WAS THERE THE TREE OF LIFE, WHICH YIELDED HER FRUIT EVERY MONTH: AND THE LEAVES OF THE TREE WERE FOR THE HEALING OF THE NATIONS. Revelation 22:2. The fruit will taste better than the best most juicy peach you ever had. 

Kid's Corner

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Hello everyone! I hope you have been great since the last time we talked. This kids corner is going to be different. This time I’m not reviewing a Christian band, book, or movie. This Kids corner is about one of the teachers in my school. She had passed away when in the hospital with the flu! I will be describing how I felt and what this has to do with God.

Well, to start you should know her name! I’m talking about Mrs. Berier. Now she wasn’t my homeroom teacher but when I was in first and second grade she taught me Spanish and in the halls, she always said hi to me and we had a couple of times when we talked in the hall. I used to love going to her class but getting on to the story. 

At dinner, I was telling my parents how she had the flu and wasn’t at outdoor school. But I didn’t know it was that bad. I also told my parents how kids would be mean to her call her mean things and then said she was mean to them. Now I knew she was never mean because I had her. The only reason they called her mean was that she had rules like all teachers and her class never followed those rules so she told them to calm down. 

Well anyways the next day I went to school it was a perfectly normal day except these people were roaming the school. I didn’t think much of it. In fact, it never crossed my mind. But when I had gotten back from recess my teacher was in tears and she had asked us to go to the carpet. I was not noticing her tears, though we were doing an experiment so I was smiling I was excited. 

But she sat down and I had noticed her tears. She was holding this piece of papers, my smile quickly narrowed to a frown. She started out with “so” but when it came to the word “death” it hit me very hard. It was a short time before my narrow frown turned into heavy tears which blinded me. Negative thoughts immediately filled my head. I started thinking “no one can escape death” “and why did God take her” but I knew that wasn’t right. God has a plan and she is with probably loving her best life. But I still stood in shock and sadness. Still, it was very hard to get over the fact that she had passed. The other shock that crossed my mind was that her husband probably just found out. In fact, he was in Mexico helping his sick mother. Lots of these bad thoughts filled my head. We also found out she passed away in her sleep so that was settling. 

I was very upset like anyone would be if someone they knew passed away. But these are the times when our faith is tested so stay strong in God. He loves you more than creation.

HEART TO HEART

  


HEART TO HEART

Greetings to you and blessings to your eyes, minds, and hearts!

Wow, how quickly the month of March has passed. Along with the month’s passing, so have all the challenges and uncertainties that came with it. “EXHALE”

It is now time to “spring up” and to “spring forward.”

As the spring season enters and flowers begin peeping through the ground, it creates a feeling of vigor and newness within the heart. Can you feel it? There is a change in the atmosphere; the air; the sky.

For many, spring is a time for cleaning the home and yard of the residue from the harsh winter winds, snow, and rain.

I feel new life springing up within me! How about you? If not; join me. Let us begin this month with a new desire to live life to the fullest. Join me as I “INHALE” the fresh smell of spring flowers and feel the sun and warm breeze upon my flesh. Together, let us make a decision to “spring up” and be cleansed from the residue of past hurts, failures, and disappointments. 

Now, today, I challenge you to “spring forward” toward the newness of life that awaits YOU! 

From my Heart to YOUR Heart: Life is waiting to be lived. Live it to the fullest!

Email me at cwwmcommunityoutreach@gmail.com

From my Heart

Janis 

“Rufus” by Pastor Bob Combs, Hanging Rock Church of the Brethren

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Well here I am again . This is Rufus and Spring is around the corner and my master, Pastor Bob Combs is preparing for 

gardening time. Then my summer work begins. He will be planting potatoes and it is my job to make sure the potatoes 

are in the row just right. I have to pick it up and lay it outside of the row. This always wakes Pastor Bob up and he will 

yell at me.  He likes me to follow him everywhere. Sometimes I will sneak off just to get his attention. If I get out of 

sight, he comes looking for me. I think he misses me. Sometimes at golf course where he plays golf with a friend, he 

gets grouchy when he is not winning. I will go and get the ball he hits and take it to the hole and he thinks he is good. 

He really smiles when he wins. Some would say he cheats, but he says “He is not responsible for what Rufus does” But 

he always gives me a treat when I do this. 

Well, I had a bad week this month.. My oldest sister, “Biddy” passed away. Pastor Bob was very sad. She had been 

with Pastor Bob and Pastor Brenda for about 17 years. She was a chocolate brown chiqawua. She was just a little dog. I 

have to help take care of my brothers and sisters. “Biddy” will be missed by all of us.

The other day Pastor Bob left a cup of coffee on the stand. I drank all of the coffee and hid the cup. He still doesn’t 

know where his favorite cup is to this day.

It won’t be long until I have to ride the lawn mower and help mow the lawn. And the kids and grandkids will coming 

over to swim in the river and have cookouts during the summer months. I also like to go out on the boat for fishing trips 

on the river Pastor Bob needs me to help pull the fish in. By the way, sometimes I have to jump in the river to catch the 

fish. Pastor Bob is not the best at catching the fish!

Well got to go now. Pastor Bob is calling me. See you next month for the rest of the story!

Love,

Rufus

“Life by the Spirit” by Pastor Bob Combs Hanging Rock Church of the Brethren

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Brothers and sisters, you are called to be free—use your freedom. To live a Christian life, do not indulge the flesh but serve one another and be humble in love. The entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command. Love your neighbor as yourself, it you stay angry with each other, you will be destroyed by each other.

So I way walk by the Spirit and peace will not gratify the desires what is contrary to the spirit. They are in conflict with each other so you are not to do whatever you want. If you are led by the Spirit, you are no under the Law. 

The sins of the flesh are obvious: Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealously, fits of rage, being selfish, ambition, dissention and anger. Those who are like this will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven of God. The Fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. When we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

So let’s love one another with all our love!

The Easter story according to a five-year-old

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I want to tell you the Easter story. My name is Eli and I am five-years-old. We celebrate Easter this Sunday because it is my sister’s birthday. We also celebrate Easter because Jesus died on the cross for our sins. I think the men with the armor on beat Jesus four times before they crucified him. Jesus bled all over his body.

The devil came to Jesus like a snake. He crawled on his belly and hissed with his tongue which had a split in the middle. That is how God created the snake.

Jesus was badly beaten. In the movie they used ketchup for blood. Jesus bled real blood. He had to carry his cross and the men in armor nailed Jesus to the cross.

Jesus really suffered and finally bowed his head and closed his eyes and said “It is finished!” He died. The men in armor took Jesus down from the cross. They wrapped him up and put him in the tomb.

Three days later He raised Himself up and wasn’t dead anymore. He went to heaven to be with his father, God since He was God’s only son.

- Eli 

Stories by Susie

  

I was born in a very remote town in West Virginia in 1941. Less than a year later a sister was born. Everything was good until my father joined the Navy. Our lives changed abruptly, our happy home changed overnight. My baby sister, Jo became very ill with a high fever, seizures and an infection in the bone of her leg. 

Mom spent most of her time in and out of the hospital which was thirty-six miles away. I was so lost. I missed mom, dad and my sister. I was left with Grandma Grace who took it upon herself to make sure that I never felt lonely or felt left out. 

Grandma Grace’s house was very old fashion with gravity-pulled water which ran freely, no indoor plumbing and a great big wood burning cook stove which made the kitchen unbearably hot. 

As I got older, I couldn’t understand why she would chose to live that way. My grandfather had a study, good-paying job. I began to listen to Grandma Grace’s words and I realized she had a very strong belief system. She did not believe that you should purchase a new coat if you already owned one. She had other plans for that money.

There were all types of children around Grandma Grace’s table for every meal. I couldn’t understand why they visited her so much and even called her Grandma Grace. When it was time for them to go home, she packed a dozen eggs, homemade cow butter and cow milk to take home.

I once asked her why we had a cow, pig and chickens when we didn’t need all of that food. She sweetly replied that their parents couldn’t find work and she didn’t want to children to be hungry. Neither did she want them cold because we often picked them up when granddad got paid on Friday evening. She purchased new coats, winter boots, gloves and hats to protect them from the cold mountain air that was quickly approaching.

I spent a lot of time with this special lady and believed she was an angel sent by God. She also had the patience of Job with her brain-damaged son. We now understand that he had symptoms of autism but we didn’t know that at the time. He had difficulty understanding such simple task, but at other times blow us away with such complex thinking.

My sister got somewhat better. Daddy came home from the war and my parents bought us a new home sixty-six miles away. My father felt that we would get a better education in the new town plus it was closer to his job. 

However nothing could keep us from our grandparents and their humble home so we visited them (along with all the other children in the neighborhood) at least every other weekend. 

I grew up and got married. I was sharing on my neighbor’s front porch, telling her about my Grandma Grace. I told her if anyone deserved a home in heaven it was she! My neighbor was quiet for a moment and then said ever so softly, “Not if she hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.” I began to defend my Godly grandmother, after all look how she had lived her life. She was kind and good and did many wonderful things in the name of the Lord. My neighbor held her ground and declared, “We are not saved by good works!” 

I went home terribly troubled and those words haunted me for the next twenty years. Oh, but God had a plan. Read the next edition of the paper to find out how God worked in my precious Grandma Grace’s heart. You are not going to believe what happened to her next. 




  

Continued from the September edition of The Missions Tribune (page B4)

GRANDMA GRACE’S GOOD WORKS

In the first chapter of my story, I told you how my neighbor rebuked me when I told her that my Grandma Grace would have a secure place in heaven when she dies. After all, she had chosen a life of poverty to carry on God’s work with the poor. How shocked I was when my neighbor responded “Not unless she has been born again’’.

I understood God’s plan of Salvation but I could not understand how anyone would live so sacrificially if the Lord were not the Lord of their lives. My neighbor continued about works and how they cannot save us.

I spent the next twenty years writing weekly, giving my grandmother instructions on what we must do to be saved. How dare I question such a Godly woman?

The years passed quickly. It was time to do another visit before the cold winter weather blew into the mountains. I had noticed that Grandma Grace’s letters had slowed down to bi-weekly. Could something be wrong?

She met us at the door. It felt so good to feel her soft arms around me and feel her sweet kisses on my cheeks. I soon noticed she had lost a great deal of weight.

My grandfather informed me that Grandma Grace had been suffering from so much pain that she actually went to the doctor. He diagnosed her with a rare form of bone cancer. Everyone was encouraging her to go to the hospital for a second opinion.

My sister Jo and I made an appointment for the next weeks to get the results from the doctor. I prayed, “Oh, Dear Lord, please do not let it be that dreaded C word”. The doctor was pleasant but extremely serious. He informed us that the tests were conclusive and the original diagnosis was correct. He said that the surgery would require the removal of some large facial bones.

As the doctor continued, the information became more difficult to hear. He said skin grafts would be necessary using the flesh from her breast. At that moment, Cancer was the least of my worries. The doctor left us with one final warning, “If you don’t tell her I will have to tell her”.

He also added that she should wear a mask in public.

My sister Jo and I sat for such a long time in the parking lot. We felt that we personally had been given a death sentence. We cried, prayed and cried some more. What a sad day-even the weather was not cooperating. Where was the sun hiding its face? The wind seemed to be telling us we had better hurry before old man winter showed his ugly head. We stopped for chicken and started out for our dreaded destination. “We need Thee, oh Lord, we need Thee”!

Even though the chicken smelled good, only the neighborhood children were hungry. Jo and I were too distressed to eat. Everyone cried during the blessing on the food. We were so totally relying on Jesus to help us get through the task that was set before us. Grandma Grace quietly excused herself as she went into the living room and sat down.

My thoughts ran back to a college class I had many years ago regarding the three greatest pains known to mankind. He said facial disfigurement was the second only to the death of your child. How could I possibly tell my grandmother she not only had cancer but was about to experience something even worse.

Grandma Grace was the first to speak asking about our visit with the doctor. The lump in my throat became so large that I could hardly swallow let alone speak. I knelt down by her chair thinking how I might soften that doctor’s harsh words. I looked at Jo to see if she could do this job. She was weeping so pitifully and praying for God to give me the right words. 

Finally, after one last swallow, I began speaking—not what the doctor said but the one thing I needed to know. Grandma Grace, I whispered, what if you do not survive this, will I see you in heaven? There! I said it!

I felt relieved that I finally ask her the most important question in this world. I waited for what felt like an eternity but she gave no response.

Jo and I exchanged glances. Grandma Grace was so still. I felt her wrist, then her neck. I could not find a heartbeat. Finally, I heard her whisper, “My faith has been enough to live by but not enough to die by.” 1 Corinthians 13 verse 3, “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not love, it profited me nothing. I need Jesus Christ to save me,” she added. We prayed the sinner’s prayer with tears, laughter, and with great rejoicing in my heart!

I stood up and saw my grandfather sobbing in a large blue farmer’s handkerchief. Would you believe he too accepted Jesus? Suddenly, I felt my mentally challenged uncle standing with us crying ever so softly.

What should I say? Could he comprehend all of this? I put my arms around him and ask if he understood what had just happened in that room. His answer was so overwhelming that I almost fell to my knees. He said that he heard a preacher tell how God gave his son to die for us. He said that helped me understand how precious I was in the heart of God so I ask Him to forgive me and take me to live with Him forever.

Suddenly, the sun (Son) appeared ever so brightly in the room. John 8 verse 12 states that Jesus is the light of this world. Indeed He is and He entered my Grandparents humble home and into their hearts that very day.

Jo and I praised the Lord and sang all Grandma Grace’s favorite songs that we sang to her all of our lives. “When we all get to Heaven –what a day of rejoicing that will be”!!!!!

There is so much more! God was still at work in my grandmother’s life. We were about to go on the most unforgettable journey with the Lord as our guide. Look for more in the November issue of the Missions Tribune. 


  

Stories by Susie December 2018

Triumph After Tragedy

 

Do you remember in the past issues I told you about my awesome Grandma Grace? She had chosen a life of poverty to help God take care of the destitute families in her rural neighborhood. 

Work had died out and those who could move did just that so they could find a job. Those who could not afford to relocate were left behind with a lot of children who suffered lack due to their parent’s situation. Oh, no worry, there stood my precious grandmother to answer the call.

Her love was poured out to those children for many years until she became so ill she could no longer take care of the children or her own family. Perhaps of the death sentence that was given in her diagnosis was the thing that pushed me to ask her the question that haunted me for twenty years.

Remember the time I was bragging about my grandmother’s secure place in heaven and my neighbor reminded me that me that works can save no one. I spent the next twenty years telling 

my grandmother how to be born again. 

After my conversation with the doctor, I knew I did not have much time to get my answer.

Grandma Grace was being sent to Morgantown to have some large facial bones removed and flesh taken from her breast to cover her face and she was reminded to wear a mask in public.

Soon Grandma Grace found herself in a strange place one hundred miles from her autistic son.

This was a whole new world to her and she did not fit in as hard as she tried.

For the first time I saw Grandma Grace being a bit dogmatic when it came to hospital gowns. She insisted on wearing two at a time, after all how could she possibly hold the back closed when she had to lift her arms in the front of those big machines?

She had to stay all week but was allowed to go home every weekend. It was hard on her to understand the hospital rules. After every meal she cleaned and stacked all the dishes for her ward. She helped make beds. She often said that was the least she could do when these kind people gave her such good care. 

Then at night when the lights went down she would go to the crying children’s beds and sing and rock them until they went to sleep. She often cried with them because they missed their parents immensely. 

Several of us would go to pick up Grandma Grace on Friday. All of the patients would come out of the two wards to tell her goodbye. Then the ward that hadn’t had her with them made the nurses promise that they would get their turn on Sunday when she came back. 

As time passed Grandma became weaker and weaker. One Friday she wasn’t up and ready to meet us. We went to her ward to find her sound asleep with a young girl in bed with her. Our reaction was one of shock. “Grandma Grace,” we declared “you’re not allowed to sleep with the children”. She said “I know but I am so weak I just couldn’t rock anymore so I put a clean pair of warm socks on her, wrapped her in a blanket but she wouldn’t stop crying. I laid down with her and we both slept so peacefully.”

How could I be unhappy with her? She was still putting everyone else’s needs ahead of her own. The doctors were so impressed with such a strong woman. Even though she was in great pain she never once complained. We would thank the doctors for their great care as we continued sharing our faith. We were looking to Jesus the great physician for healing. However, the doctors continued to give bleak reports.

Then the day of surgery finally arrived. Grandma Grace was bathed with the yellow medicine. I think we all joined around Grandma Grace’s for one last prayer placing her in the arms of Jesus for safe keeping. We went to the waiting room for our long wait. No one felt like talking but we comforted each other with God’s powerful scriptures. Within a short time, we were shocked to see the doctors standing before us. They looked about as shocked as we were. 

They said they cancelled the rest of the surgery because the most amazing thing had happened. They continued to tell us they that they were able to remove all of the cancer by only removing a triangle of the bone. There was no more evidence of cancer anywhere. They would not need to use the flesh from her breast and she would not need to wear a mask.

What a day of rejoicing! We laughed, cried and praised to Lord in a waiting room full of people. The doctors were quietly observing us. One of them spoke up and said, “What is the name of your church?” We reminded them it’s not about a building, it’s about a person and his name is Jesus. He is our Savior who gave his life for us to have abundant life.

One more chapter to go. Look for the next chapter titled “When Jesus calls your name.” 

Stories by Susie

When Jesus Calls Your Name

Back to our story. Grandma Grace had just received a miracle surgery. The prediction of removing facial bone, using breast tissue to cover her face and the need to wear a facial mask in public had all changed. Miracle of all miracles the doctor only removed a small triangle of bone and removed all cancer. Oh, how we praised Jesus the great physician. 

We continually prayed that if it be His will He would intervene on Grandma Gracie’s behalf. We serve an awesome God! What a great reunion she had with her son and her loved ones. She was back in her humble home where her love brought sunshine into every room.

The Lord gave my grandmother eleven more healthy years. During that time she grew in strength and wisdom. One snowy Christmas Eve my grandfather passed away. We tried to reach her as quickly as we could. The roads were treacherous and we were delayed until the next day. Grandma Grace appeared calm and peaceful about granddaddy’s death. She knew where he was and that he was no longer suffering pain. She was such a comfort to us.

Soon there was another knock on the door with more news. Grandma Grace’s mother had just been found deceased in her bed. Then more news that Grandma Grace’s sister had just passed away. Did her name just change to Job?

People started to come and comfort Grandma Grace in her great loss. She met everyone at the door and kissed and held the hurting comforters. She had experienced God’s comfort and she understood how to give it back. 

Eleven peaceful years passed. Then came the day Grandma Grace’s body began to shut down. The doctor put her in the hospital and told us the end had come. My Godly father, who loved his mother-in-law like he loved his own, pondered how he would tell her autistic son. 

When my dad arrived to get Murrel he seemed concerned and distraught. Since it took twenty minutes to travel to the hospital dad took time to explain death to this troubled son. Dad explained that when it is time for someone to go to heaven, Jesus calls their name and they have to go with Him. He reminded Murrell how much his mom loved all of us. She didn’t really want to go but when Jesus calls her name she has to go. 

Grandma Grace appeared comatose when we arrived. She was resting so quietly, almost unaware of our presence. We began to sing her favorite hymns. It was difficult to sing because we were overcome with sadness. Finally, the last song ‘God Be With You Til We Meet Again’. We couldn’t finish the song. We were feeling so much grief so we just stopped. Suddenly we heard a small, frail voice whispering the rest of that verse. We all joined in on the chorus one more time.

Then came the final sigh, Grandma Grace laid down her head, closed her eyes and it was over. We all exchanged glances then we heard the door open and Murrell yelling “Nurse, nurse, come quickly! Jesus just called my mother’s name!”

The next few days were eventful. The funeral director suggested we have two nights for viewing as there were so many people that wanted to come. Murrell was absolutely delightful. He met the friends at the casket and comforted them with the words my dad shared with him….”You know how much mom loved you, she didn’t want to leave but Jesus called her name. When Jesus calls your name you have to go so now she is in heaven with Jesus.” 

Oh, thank you, God, for taking care of a delicate matter. God is so faithful. The next day it was time to go back to the church for the funeral. That little white church set in the middle of a five-acre lot. What? No place to park? Cars were there from everywhere. We began to read license plates – Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and of course West Virginia. 

We walked to the church door to realize that there was standing room only. Our hearts were overwhelmed to think this woman who lived in a rural area could influence so many people. But we remembered she would not want the glory. We understood, yes, she had made a great difference in the lives of those people but only God could work in a person’s heart to reach out to others with an expression of His great love. John 3:16. He alone deserved the honor and the Glory.

This is the last chapter. Grandma Grace isn’t with us anymore but her love still fills our hearts.

I am often asked if I have ever seen Jesus. That answer is easy! Yes, I have seen God in the eyes of my Grandmother, parents, family and even in the eyes of the dementia people with whom I volunteer. Many of them can no longer verbally share with me but I can still see the fruits of the Spirit in their lives and I can see God in their eyes. 

Do you know the Lord? Are you allowing him to use your talents for his glory? Heaven and earth will soon be past – only what’s done for Christ will last. Are you counting on your good deeds to save you? Remember we are saved by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9.

Thank you for allowing me to share my love story with you. I wish you would have known Grandma Grace…..She would have truly loved you!

Grandma Grace

Grandma Grace

Family Adopts another child

  


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Count now at an even dozen

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By Jeff McCoy

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Cindy Lathwell holds her baby close. Like most new mothers she is full of joy, wonderment, and pride. The only thing is she is not a new mother. This is her twelfth child. Her husband, Kevin sits nearby with some of the other children. He appears as a captain on the bridge of a great ship out at sea, in charge, confident. 

Of the twelve children, three have special needs, two are adopted. Zoey, the newest member of the clan falls into both of those categories. The entire family is involved with her care. Zoey is surrounded by love. 

There wasn’t really a plan for a large family. "It kind of went like this. The first one was so awesome, and then the second one was so cute and then the third one was so great and then it was like oh my goodness. Let's have another one, that one is so adorable and that one is so great," Cindy said.

"It can't be another boy," Kevin said with a laugh.

When asked about their stress and worrying as the kids get older, Kevin shakes his head no. He maintains that calm demeanor. "I worry about all of them," Cindy said.

Daughter Grace wanted a baby sister. “Two weeks before we got a call about Zoey my daughter Grace said 'mommy I want a baby sister’. I was like ‘well we're beyond that’. Two weeks later we got a call. I think she was praying behind my back I don't know," Cindy said with a smile.

"We got an email from the same adoption agency, the Children's Home Society, that asked if we would be interested in a placement. The birth mom was still expecting and she had found out that Zoey would have Down Syndrome and club feet and a heart condition," Cindy said.

"They had to call in the reserves," Kevin says with a laugh.

"We weren’t even on the ‘ask us’ list. I called Kevin and asked 'what do you think of that email we got?' and Kevin was like 'I'm game if you are'," Cindy said. At first, it seemed that another set of parents would step in. But as the days passed Cindy stayed close to the phone wondering if that day would be the day the adoption agency called.

"I was super excited. I wonder if (today) we're going to get a call. I felt that if God had planned another baby for us He was going to take care of us,” Cindy said.

"One of the things I worried about with Zoey is it was a lot on Cindy at home. I really had to pray because it got down to the end to where they called and said 'are you still interested?' I really had to pray about that. I told the guy - 'you know this is a lot for my wife. I don't think we can do it,” Kevin said.

That concern never entered into his wife’s mind. "For me, I didn't feel that way. I really felt like it was a calling because we weren’t seeking - they approached us. So I thought God has another little one planned for us is how I saw it,” Cindy said. 

Cindy Lathwell was an attorney and gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mom. Most parents would be concerned about having 12 children but not so for the Lathwells. Getting a child to baseball practice, doctor visits, school events, and church can be a full-time job with a single child. Having 12 children would require nothing less than the logistics team from the U.S. Navy. "There's not a handbook for this," Kevin said.

"We're not to rest here. We'll have our eternal rest and I can't wait, whenever that happens far in the future but we're here to do whatever job God sends to us," Cindy said.

The Lathwells found a better way. The entire family has helped. As a teenager got his or her driver’s license they were pressed into service for deliveries, pick-ups, and other transportation needs. The older children just considered it part of their job and they were glad to do it. "That's where these guys help out. It's definitely a family effort. It's not just Kevin and I. The credit goes to the whole family. I actually think a big family is a huge help. Everyone pitched in," Cindy said.

But with Zoey things would be a little different. With so many medical issues she would require special care for a lifetime. But once the baby was born the Lathwells knew she was going to be the newest member of the family. "She was three weeks early. My goodness, once we saw her. I'm not leaving this hospital without her. I did not want her to go into foster care. I was like 'no' I just want her in our family," Cindy said. 

"But then they surprised us when we left and they were like 'oh by the way she has problems with her heart and she failed her hearing test’. We were a little shocked," Kevin said.

"To me, she was already my child. When they told me she had failed her hearing test twice my heart dropped out of me," Cindy said.

Even with these problems the family embraced and loved her. "Look how healthy she is! That’s what I don't like; potential parents get scared away when it's not that scary. She's been just like any other baby, maybe she has had more medical appointments and she is a little behind schedule. She is not crawling yet but she is just the best baby. We can take her anywhere. We can take her to the movies. What 10-month old would you take to the movies? She is just the sweetest. She has brought so much joy into our household," Cindy said.

When their tenth child was born they knew there were some problems. "At first we didn't know much about Down syndrome," Cindy said. 

Some parents are overwhelmed by a child with special needs. "I know a lot of parents are intimidated by it," Kevin said.

"I think it's a lack of knowledge - that's what I think," Cindy said. 

"It's challenging all the way around. Dillon’s got eye problems, she has double club feet and heart problems and Antony has all kinds of problems," Kevin said. 

Today some parents elect for an abortion when they know their child has problems. "Before they are even born children are being done away with. It's so sad," Cindy said. 

The Lathwells are happy that Zoey’s birth mother had the courage to deliver her and not have an abortion. Cindy offered advice through tears for expectant mothers that aren’t sure which choice to make. "Don't give up hope. Don't be afraid. That child is going to have an awesome life and have an awesome fantastic family. God's got a plan for them and it's a great plan. We're so very thankful. God bless them. That was hard for her, you know that had to be hard." 

"It does take courage to give a child up. I think it is very thoughtful of them to go through with it.” Kevin said. 

Zoey will be raised in a loving Christian home. The Lathwells have made a commitment to do that with all their children. "He knew that if we were to get married we would have to raise the kids in the faith. He took it to heart," Cindy said.

They do not see Zoey as a burden. They see her as a blessing. "Even with the brothers, I see them interacting with her. She brings a side out of them I never see," Cindy said.

Grace, the ninth child said, “I like her.” She spends a lot of time with the new sister that she prayed for. 

“She is like a mother hen," Kevin said.

"Grace has told me Zoey is the greatest thing that ever happened to her," Cindy said.

The Lathwells know what the adoption process is like. Cindy sends pictures to the birth mothers and the adoption agency so they can see how the children are growing up and what is happening in their lives. They feel that with so many options for adoption that abortion is not a viable choice. "I hope this article touches a mom that might be needing it and let her know there is so much hope and so much love. Pray about it and don't be afraid," Cindy said. 

Staff reporter Jeff McCoy can be reached at mccoy@themissionstribune.com

PHOTO CREDIT: The Lathwells stand at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Hedgesville where they attend Mass. (Jeff McCoy / The Missions Tribune) 

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A Writer’s Story

   

by Lisa Berman

reporters@compassfreepress.com

Ruth Lambert started writing her short stories and drawing pictures  as a way to overcome stress and help ease anxiety. She hoped to find  comfort in her life. In about 1988 or 1989 her journey to explore coping  skills began. At that time, she was in a very challenging relationship  in which her husband reportedly drank often and became verbally abusive.

Using writing as a way of dealing with anxiety didn’t come easily at  first, but it worked for her, and she still uses this technique today.

Her stories are fictional and have come from her childhood fantasies.  Lambert would create them from a young age. When asked how she came up  her stories she says she “loves unicorns and mythology.” Writing is just  a way of finding ways to deal with life and an escape for her.

One of her favorite stories is “Cloud Dancer.” It is a mythological  tale and takes place during the time of the Greek gods. Medea is a  protector of the winged horses now known as unicorns and must battle  against some terrible guys who collected the horns of unicorns to get  special powers from them such as healing, and the ability do things  ordinary people can’t. The story explains how Medea saves these  wonderful creatures that must be protected here on earth. “Cloud Dancer”  is just a glimpse into her creative entertainment.

Another favorite of hers, called The Last Unicorn tells about a  calico stallion horse from a Native American tribe who wanted to be  different and to be who he was meant to be. His attitude made the horse  stand out from the others. He began to feel unique, different and  unhappy with himself. The others tried to change him as the journey of  this extraordinary horse leads him down a path to become who he truly  wanted to be. It’s a very encouraging story that makes you want to be  your own person and be amazing at it.

After some time, Lambert gained the courage to enter one  of her stories in a contest. Weep Willow Weep won first place. It’s  about a lumberjack who goes into the forest looking for beautiful trees  from which to build his home. He cut down every other weeping willow  tree. The story is set in a time when the ancient people believed every  living thing had a spirit and was alive. When the forest comes to life,  the great oak tree notices that many of the willow trees are missing. A  willow tree that remained began to cry and bend. It is Lambert’s  interpretation of how the Weeping Willow got its name.

The use of such creative choices is an outlet to help relieve  anxiety. Another way Lambert copes with stress is through pictures. Her  pictures show her emotions and how she is feeling at the moment. Her  choices of designs and color templates all depend upon her mood. She  sees the shapes and the color combinations in her mind and puts them  down on her graph paper. When the colors she uses are bright she seems  to be in a good mood, dark colors are used more in a sad time, and grays  show up when she is feeling somewhere in between. According to Lambert,  her artwork helps her to calm down and see happiness.

Lambert hopes to encourage everyone to use their creative side to  help them get through their most desperate times. She recommends to take  life one day at a time, and if you are in an abusive relationship, get  help and know things can get better. Find your inner strength and use it  to get to the place you need to be.

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