January 2016

headshotBy Brie Seward

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

For a moment in church yesterday we had the opportunity to ponder about the blessings, the disappointments and the events of last year. There aren’t many moments I am able to do this. This is because I am a single mom of two boys under 5. Sebastian was diagnosed with autism at 3 and Julian who is 2 loves outlets and running faster than his legs can carry him.

I exhaled as I reflected at the changes in 2015: moving into a new home with my parents, finalizing a divorce and finding my new community in Tucson.  I walk into 2016 as a single woman reclaiming her maiden name back – marching forward for her two boys and living an untraditional but beautiful life.

When we sang and raised our arms to “How Great Thou Art” I truly mean it. I mean it from the bottom of my soul and naturally my arms are raised to heaven thanking God for all He has shown me.

I have seen miracles – miracles in Sebastian and Julian. I’ve seen that you can overcome a “label”. “Autism” does not define who a boy is – God’s power shines through him and with love, support and intervention a boy can overcome obstacles and play amongst kids without a label or challenges the same way.

I have seen Julian fight for his life in the NICU and defeat all the odds when he was born at 26 weeks. He is turning into a bright, smart and funny little boy. When I stop and think that the doctor at Mt.Sinai asked me if I wanted to terminate the pregnancy at 24 weeks when my water was broken I cringe thinking that someone thought this little boy didn’t have a chance. I can’t imagine this world without him. “With God All Things are Possible” -Matthew 19:26.

When I lived in Miami – isolated from family and far away from my Christian circle of friends I laid in the arms of God each day waiting on Him to lead the way and comfort me in my solitude. Living with my husband who didn’t believe presented daily challenges, struggles and disagreements. God lead every step I took, I needed Him in my loneliness and he gave me strength for each day. I would pray through the walls of that house in Florida to give me courage and community. Going through a diagnosis of autism and Julian’s prematurity couldn’t sustain a marriage that was already weak. Discovering he had cheated paved the way to greater things ahead for me and the boys and our new life in Arizona with family, support and community. I had to leave him behind and God set me free from the bondage of a troubled marriage and a father who wasn’t lead by the spirit.

Living life with God and surrendering to what God has for you – is living life with joy, peace and passion. I will never be the same and I don’t want to be the same person I was without God. He has held my hand through the valleys and pushed me to run towards the light.

I will not fear the future, I will have peace in my soul knowing He is leading the direction of my life. He has already shown me His power and in Him I will always find hope.

“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”Zephaniah 3:17

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Brie Seward is a work at home mom to her two boys, Sebastian (age 5) and Julian (2). Brie was born and raised in Arizona and moved to New York City after college where she was following her publishing career dreams and worked at publications like Harper’s Bazaar and Gourmet magazines. She had the opportunity to start ecommerce websites for international fragrance brand, Bond No.9 and was part of the team to launch the U.S. website for Louis Vuitton. Her last position before she had her boys was marketing manager for Perry Ellis brands in Miami. Brie now resides in Tucson, Arizona where she is reunited with her family, cousins and community. She is a child advocate for her son, Sebastian who was diagnosed with autism when he was 3.  While Seb is at school, you can find Brie chasing Julian who is full of energy or trying to keep him out of electrical outlets. Julian was born at 26 weeks and considered a micro-preemie. He stayed in the NICU for 109 days and is now a 2 year old full of joy and showing the world he is truly a living miracle. Brie has realized the true meaning of Home Sweet Home. Through the trials of special needs, prematurity and divorce – she hopes to share with others how God always leads the way and guides us on the narrow road.

 

headshot By Christian Bonner

 

Is your New Year going as hoped?

I ask because, I love a new day and especially a New Year. I get excited about the opportunity to change something, start a new habit, to improve, or to put a rough day behind me.

This year was no different and I looked forward to January very much.

If you are anything like me, your hopes for the New Year would have been a complete overhaul of your life. My hopes had everything from getting in shape to being a better mom, person, wife, etc..  These, and much more on the list, are still my goals, but I can say that this year isn’t much different than the last, except the numbers in the date.

There wasn’t a lot of down time during the holidays and the new year started without much time to catch my breath or turn my hopes into plans. I am not making excuses and I am sure there was more I could have done to start with a plan, but none-the-less, I wasn’t able to make any resolutions or start off the way I had hoped.

Is that how you feel now that we are a few weeks into the new year? Do look over your week and think, “Nothing has changed”?

I feel that way often. I have some health struggles that make it a challenge to do more than just exist at times. I never know what each day will hold or if I’ll be able to do all I have planned. I know it is said to take things day-by-day, and we literally don’t have a choice, but what that means in my world is in making plans I know that I will have to make final decisions on that day whether or not I can keep them depending on how I am feeling physically. I was raised to keep my commitments and this season in my life makes trying to live out the verse from James 5:12, “…let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no…” very challenging.

Do you find yourself too busy and unable to find grip or focus, just being pulled instead of in control? Or do you find yourself in a situation like myself? Maybe you are in a happy medium and life is manageable, full but not too full, and you accomplish all you need. Either which way, we all know seasons change and life can get mundane or overly stressful.

Even on my busiest and best days, I can at times end the day feeling like I didn’t get it right. I didn’t do the one thing that I really needed or wanted, or I didn’t do enough. So no matter what our lives look like and the activities we have on our to do lists, how do we make sure that we have that peace when the day is over?

I remember last year when I started swimming again. I swam competitively in high school and college, and even though my physique no longer proves that to be true, I still call myself a swimmer. The first day I went back, of course my body fought it and I didn’t swim as long as I had hoped, definitely shouldn’t’ have been calling myself a swimmer the last few years! I remember telling my husband, “Tomorrow is already better because of what I did today”. The excitement I had for the next day could not be measured or taken away. I knew that when tomorrow came, when I looked back on my yesterday, I wouldn’t regret my choice to go to the pool, to have done the one thing I had avoided for so long.

So back to the question about how do we have that peace when our day is done. It could be something practical like the example above, and those things are good, but where does our peace come from?

2 Thessalonians 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all”. He is called the Lord of Peace.

Then in Philippians 4:7 it says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

Knowing Him is where the peace comes from.

Do you need Him to guide you in your daily activities so there is peace in your heart?

As you think on your new year (there is still a lot left), don’t pressure yourself, but take advantage of an opportunity. Take advantage of a new day to draw closer to the Lord, to hear His voice and have Him guide you. Instead of thinking, “This year, I want to get in shape” or “I want to be a better homemaker”, think about what one thing you can change between you and the Lord.

I know that when I am focused on Him, when I spend time with Him regularly in Bible study and prayer, the practical things of the day aren’t as stressful and I am even able to prioritize my never ending list of ‘to-dos’.

So, what is that one thing for you? Do you need more time in prayer? Do you need more time to read the Bible?

It’s difficult to figure out how it will all fit in. So, maybe while you get ready for your day, while you do your hair or whatever, talk to Him. Maybe you already talk to Him and pray regularly, but you need more Bible time. Download an audio version of the Bible and listen as you get ready, or as you drive to work. There are podcasts and apps you can download. If you are less into the technology, there are really good daily devotionals that you can read in just a few minutes while you eat breakfast, like the Daily Bread. You can also go to LoveEverlastingMinistries.com for other resources as well.

All I am saying is there are tiny adjustments you can make that won’t overwhelm you, but will be of great benefit to you over time.

My hope for you this year is that you find a passion and fervor for the Lord while having a peace that is deep within you as you face each day.  As women, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Make this year different by filtering that through the Lord and His Word.