Start a Family Tradition at Christmas at the Falls

Start a Family Tradition at Christmas at the Falls

Are We There Yet?

See the spectacular “Christmas at the Falls” at Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden through December 30 (closed Dec.24-25), www.noccalulafallspark.com.

Just a short drive over to Gadsden, Ala. will take you to a place sure to get you and your family in the Christmas spirit: Christmas at the Falls. Each year Noccalula Falls Park welcomes visitors to experience the lights and sounds of the season from Thanksgiving night November 23 through Saturday December 30 (Closed Dec. 24-25).  Enjoy riding the train or strolling through the park to view more than a million lights. Stop by the petting zoo, visit with Santa and take pictures, decorate cookies, and sip hot chocolate. For children too shy to speak their wishes to Santa or who just want to be sure he has their list right, the Park’s Old Post Office in the Pioneer Village has a special mailbox for dropping off letters to Santa. Purchase tickets to Christmas at the Falls on-line at www.noccalulafallspark.com or at the Entry Pavilion as early as 4pm each afternoon. The park is open from 5 until 9p.m. each evening. Admission is $6 for ages 4 and up and children three and under are admitted free. For more details call the park at 256-549-4663. †

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Deck the Halls: Christmas Home Tour & Holiday Gift Market

Deck the Halls: Christmas Home Tour & Holiday Gift Market

City Scene

Jeanna Westmoreland and Susie Hammers welcome a guest to the Samford President’s Home during Samford Legacy League’s Christmas Home Tour.

Looking for ideas on how to best decorate your home for Christmas? The Samford Legacy League’s 7th Annual Home Tour Thursday, December 7 is guaranteed to give you great ideas and put you in the Christmas spirit. Visit five stunning area homes as a part of this year’s tour which you can enjoy either from 10am-2pm or 4pm-8pm. The tour will also include an opportunity to shop for unique gifts. The Holiday Gift Market located at the Samford President’s Home will include a fabulous selection of jewelry, art, children’s items, clothing, food, accessories, home items and more from carefully selected merchants. Also enjoy hors d’oeuvres and desserts at the Samford President’s Home as part of the tour. The tour features the homes of:

Lisa and Randy Freeman, 11 Bonita Drive, Homewood

Rhonda and Tom Powell, 4441 Caldwell Mill Road, Mountain Brook

Cheryl and Terry Spitzer, 4429 Caldwell Mill Road, Mountain Brook

Jeanna and Andy Westmoreland, Samford President’s Home, 1994 Shades Crest Road, Vestavia Hills

Lisa and Harris Wilson, 4408 Old Brook Run, Mountain Brook

Proceeds from the event will provide life-changing scholarships for deserving students with significant financial need. Tickets are $25 through December 5 at www.samford.edu/legacyleague or $30 at the door of featured homes during tour hours. Visit www.samford.edu/legacyleague or call 205-726-2807 for more details. †

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Peer Helpers

Peer Helpers

These eight graders at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School Students have been chosen as Peer Helpers for this school year. The students were selected based on grade point average, teacher recommendations, answers to questionnaires and individual interviews. They will act as ambassadors for the school by helping to host special school events and assisting fellow students with reading, writing skills, math facts, and art projects.

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5 Ways to Equip Your Kids for Faithful Living

5 Ways to Equip Your Kids for Faithful Living

Education Extra

Learn more from Dr. Mueller, February 3, at his “No Parent Left Behind” seminar at the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference, Oak Mountain High School auditorium. For details and tickets go to www.bhamparentingcollective.com

Since we as parents are called to equip our kids for a lifetime of living under the Lordship of Jesus, it is essential for us to prepare them for a lifetime of weaving together the inseparable bond that must exist between belief and behavior. What we must instill in our kids is both a knowledge of the Gospel message (belief), along with how that message must inform, shape, and transform, every square inch of life (behavior).  As I look around at today’s youth culture, there are numerous aspects of childhood and adolescent life where Christian parents must begin challenging and equipping their kids to see how Christian beliefs speak to their behaviors. Here are five key areas to consider:

1.Playing. Many of our kids are involved in athletics. Are we teaching them what it means to play to God’s glory as opposed to the glory of self? And, are we equipping them to prioritize rather than overprioritize or idolize sport and play? Are we helping them put their lives in order by teaching them to see opportunities for spiritual nurture and gathering with the Body of Christ as a higher priority than practices and games?

2.Studying. Do we expect them to work to the best of their ability, producing the best work they can if they have a bent toward academic laziness? Are we pushing back on the anxiety-producing obsession and academic competitiveness some kids have, where they are never satisfied with the results of their best efforts? Are we teaching them to study first and foremost to increase their knowledge of God and His world, as opposed to achieving the idol of good grades? Are we helping them see that academic achievements are not an end in and of themselves, but that they are a path to contributing to God’s work in the world?

3.Posting. Our kids will be engaging with social media and technology for the rest of their lives. Are you teaching them to live out their faith on social media by setting up clear borders and boundaries, along with endeavoring to bring glory to God rather than trying to solicit glory and attention for self? Are you leading them to find their identity in Christ alone, rather than in the frequency of “likes” and positive comments to their curated/fabricated posts and photos that typically don’t even come close to representing their true selves.

4.Relating. Are you teaching your kids to honor, love, and respect authority? Are you equipping them to glorify God through their friendships? Are you teaching them to put others first?

5.Driving. There’s a reason why states and insurance companies place restrictions on new teenage drivers. They’re new to this, without experience, and developmentally impulsive. Are you teaching your kids to see driving as an act of worship where they can bring glory to God through safe driving habits. . . beginning with putting their smartphone aside while behind the wheel?

The life of the Christian is one that is to be lived counter-culturally and around the clock. Equip your kids for faithful living and for effective mission by nurturing them into playing, studying, posting, relating, and driving to the glory of God.

– Dr. Walt Mueller

Founder & President, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

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Adoption as a Calling: Duck Dynasty

Adoption as a Calling: Duck Dynasty

Adoption as a Calling: Duck Dynasty

In the new content in her re-release of Strong and Kind: And Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed (Thomas Nelson, 2017), Korie Robertson shares how a missed flight to Birmingham and the adoption of son, Rowdy, reminded her that “God’s plans for us are greater than we could ever imagine.”

According to Duck Dynasty stars Korie and Willie Robertson, 100,000 children currently in the foster care system in the United States are adoptable because their parents’ rights have been terminated. Statistically, 30,000 of those children will never get a “forever family.” The couple has been passionate about adoption since high school and has welcomed three different youth into their home since 2001—an infant, a foreign exchange student and an older child from foster care. In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, Korie reflects on the beauty of an intentionally large family, the need for adoptive families in the United States, and the re-release of her book Strong and Kind, with added material in honor of newest family member Rowdy, officially adopted last year at 12 years old.

Growing up in a family that made hospitality a priority gave Korie a clear model of the kind of mother she wanted to be when she had a home of her own. During her childhood, her parents hosted more than 80 people who needed a temporary place to live. “We had an extra bedroom that was always full,” she remembers. “They took in families, teenagers that were struggling at home, or single mothers with kids. That really impacted me—to say what’s mine is yours, and if I have an extra room, then someone can have it.” Korie’s first exposure to the adoption process came from her high school Bible teacher, who adopted a little boy her senior year and spent much of instruction time talking about how important it is that Christian families care for orphans. She married Willie in 1992, and after John Luke and Sadie were born, becoming pregnant a third time proved difficult. They took it as a sign that it was time to adopt. Five-week-old Will was living with a foster family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when they brought him home in December 2001. In January, Willie surprised Korie with a 10-year wedding anniversary trip to Cancun. She came back pregnant with Bella. “I had two babies on my hip for a while, and it was a lot of fun,” Korie remembers. “It was a little crazy because of Destructo 1 and Destructo 2. They got into everything.”

The next invitation the Robertsons extended to a youth in need of a home was to a foreign exchange student. Sixteen-year-old Rebecca came from Taiwan for one year of high school in 2005. Korie and Willie invited her back the following year, and she never left. Now 28 years old, she had Willie walk her down the aisle at her wedding last year. “Her dad passed away when she was 11, but she still has a mom in Taiwan,” Korie explains. “Her mom was at the wedding, and we sat beside each other as mothers of the bride. So, we are her American family. We never officially adopted her, but she’s ours just like the rest.”

In 2015, Korie had just published the book Strong and Kind and was speaking at an adoption fundraiser when presented with the opportunity to provide a permanent home for an older child from Texas foster care. Familiar with the struggles older children often have finding a home, a woman approached her at the event and asked if she knew of anyone who would take a 12-year-old boy. “We hadn’t really planned on adopting again, but we’ve always remained open to God’s tugging on our heart. It was one of those moments that I thought, ‘Alright, God. This is probably us. I called Willie and he said, ‘Why not? We can do this. Why not us?’ We got Rowdy a few weeks later, and he became ours last September officially. He makes six.” Korie explains that bringing an older child into the home and adjusting him to sibling relationships had its challenges but also its rewards. “It’s been incredible to see how our other children have responded to him and accepted him and loved him. At one point Will looked at me and said, ‘Mom, have you noticed that me and Bella don’t fight anymore?’ It was like we all had a greater purpose and everyone just stepped up to the plate.” Rowdy had been raised an only child, and Korie admits that looking back she realizes the transition he had to make—into a family of brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents—was monumental. “There was a point where I asked him, was it harder or easier than you thought it was going to be? I said you can be honest. He said it was harder.”

In 2016, the Robertsons celebrated the addition of their sixth child, 12-year-old Rowdy. “It’s been a crazy transition but God has been so good and faithful throughout it,” says Korie Robertson.

After 11 seasons on A&E, the final episode of Duck Dynasty aired in April 2017. Today Korie continues to work in the Duck Commander® business overseeing licensing for the family’s brands and does philanthropic work as a board member for The Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute and Help One Now, an organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty and providing care for orphans worldwide. Korie and Willie also founded the Drive Adoption fund at last year’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway. DriveAdoption.org gives fans the opportunity to learn about domestic and international adoption, connect with adoptive organizations, and donate financially to the cause.

Korie regularly speaks on behalf of older children waiting to be adopted and says youth who turn 18 and age out of foster care are at a much higher risk for homelessness, early pregnancy or drug addiction than those who gain the support of a family. She stresses that for all the wealth in the United States, finding a home for the 100,000 foster youth currently available for adoption should be simple. “We should be able to have homes for those children. They are going to bed each night thinking, ‘Am I going to get a mom and dad? Is this going to happen for me?’ There’s a lot of problems in the world that I know I cannot fix. This is one of the problems that is really solvable,” she says. “A lot of people are scared of what it looks like bringing in an older child and how the rest of the children will reac. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear but one of power that He will take care of our needs. Not that it’s going to be perfect or simple, but raising children biologically isn’t perfect or simple [either].”

Adopting Rowdy inspired Korie to rerelease a paperback edition of Strong and Kind this year, with additional content reflecting on the legacy she wants to pass down to the next generation. The Afterward is a nod to Rowdy’s assimilation into the Robertson family and how adoption is symbolic to the Christian faith. “I have always loved everything about adoption,” she writes. “How it makes families whole; how it is full of hope and promises to love a child forever and always… how it redeems something broken and makes it whole; how it reminds us that we all are adopted as sons and daughters into God’s family through His Son, Jesus Christ…how it has made our family complete.”

  • Camille Smith Platt

 

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Name the New Attraction at Alabama Splash Adventure for a Chance to Receive Season Passes

Name the New Attraction at Alabama Splash Adventure for a Chance to Receive Season Passes

Are We There Yet?

Birmingham’s Alabama Splash Adventure was recently named one of the top five friendliest parks in the world by readers of Amusement Today, a national amusement industry news leader.

After recently being named one of the five friendliest parks in the world, Alabama Splash Adventure is adding a new kids slide complex and interactive play structure which will debut in May 2018 and feature 5 colorful slides. Some slides will offer gentle, yet exciting hills, while others will offer twists and turns. The slides all will empty into shallow water ensuring a safe experience for riders. The interactive play structure will offer various water features that will spray in all directions and provide a fun place for kids to cool off. The play area will feature “zero-depth” water to maximize the safety of guests. “Our guests have been requesting a new water attraction and we are listening to our guests,” says Dan Koch, President of Alabama Splash Adventure. “This new attraction will be perfect for the children and families that visit Alabama Splash Adventure, and will help us increase our waterpark capacity as we continue to expand.” In addition, the Park will add additional seating and new cabanas around the attraction so guests can stay cool.

The Park is turning to the public to decide on a name for the new attraction. A naming contest will be held and the winning entry will receive four complimentary season passes for the 2018 season. Names can be submitted at www.AlabamaSplash.com.

Here is a rendering of what the new interactive play area at Alabama Splash Adventure will look like. Submit a name for the new attraction for an opportunity to win four complimentary season passes, www.alabamasplash.com.

The new attraction marks the latest addition from the Koch family, who purchased the Park in 2014. The owners have introduced 10 new attractions as well as free Wi-Fi, free sunscreen, free parking, free tubes, and free unlimited soft drinks. The new attraction is only a part of the $10 million in capital improvements the Koch family has brought to Alabama Splash Adventure. The park is located where I 20/59 and I 459 meet at exit 110, just minutes from downtown Birmingham.  For more information on tickets, season passes and group outings call 205-481-4750 or visit www.alabamasplash.com †

 

 

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Mission Makers: Alabama Teen Challenge

Mission Makers: Alabama Teen Challenge

A Thanksgiving Message from Alabama Teen Challenge, The Proven Cure for the Drug Epidemic

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we want to embrace the words of the Apostle Paul that he spoke to the Philippian Christians. He said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-9

The staff and the students of the Alabama Teen Challenge ministry are truly thankful for all of you who help with the process of transforming lives with the proven cure for the drug epidemic. We are humbled by your generosity and we pray that the Lord continues to meet all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 6:10)

We have a pressing need right now for monetary donations, and we ask that you consider including Alabama Teen Challenge in your year-end giving. If you are 70 ½ years old or older, we would also ask that you consider donating your RMD tax-free to Alabama Teen Challenge in 2017. A donation counts as your required minimum distribution, but does not increase your adjusted gross income. If the Lord enables you to do so, your donations will provide a much appreciated blessing to Alabama Teen Challenge. Thank you for considering this request and for all that you mean to this vital work of the Lord.

Robert Angles 

Executive Director, Alabama Teen Challenge, Adult Men’s and Women’s Centers

205-763-0909

P.O Box 270, Lincoln, AL 35096, www.alatc.org

 

“Too many young people have already lost their lives, and too many others have suffered serious injury for us to ignore the problems. Programs such as Teen Challenge work to change people’s lives by changing their hearts. Let us bring to all Americans who struggle with drug addiction this hope: The miracle of recovery is possible, and it could be you.”  President George W. Bush

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The Proven Cure for the Drug Epidemic

The Proven Cure for the Drug Epidemic

Special Feature

Presented by Alabama Teen Challenge Adult Men’s and Women’s Centers

Phil Cook completed the Alabama Teen Challenge program in 1977 and today serves as Senior Pastor at Rich Valley Church, Valrico, Fla.

1977 Alabama Teen Challenge graduate, Phil Cook, came to Alabama Teen Challenge as a teenager and now 40 years later he is sharing the life-saving message that saved him. A supporter of Teen Challenge and senior pastor of Rich Valley Church, Valrico, Fla., Cook testifies to the longevity and continued success of Alabama Teen Challenge:

“In 1977, at the age of 15, living in NYC, doing drugs and rebellious- I got deep into trouble and I was interviewed for Teen Challenge at the Brooklyn NYC Teen Challenge on Clinton Ave. –My parents didn’t know what to do with me, my dad was from Alabama and I had family there, so I ended up going to B’ham Alabama Teen Challenge-within two weeks I asked Christ into my heart and was born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit. I stayed at the induction center for the whole year- the director even moved me into his own home for the last 6 months. I went on to Southeastern University, met my wife, have 3 children, 3 grandchildren and even went to grad school. I was ordained and in 1986 we started the South Florida Teen Challenge- I have also started two churches -Calvary Church & Rich Valley Church- these ministries are all thriving! None of this would have been possible without the beautiful mercy and grace of God…….and the ministry of Teen Challenge!” Pastor Phil Cook, ’77 Alabama Teen Challenge Graduate

 

Alabama Teen Challenge, Adult Men’s and Women’s Centers

205-763-0909, P.O. Box 270, Lincoln, AL 35096, www.alatc.org 

“Too many young people have already lost their lives, and too many others have suffered serious injury for us to ignore the problems. Programs such as Teen Challenge work to change people’s lives by changing their hearts. Let us bring to all Americans who struggle with drug addiction this hope: The miracle of recovery is possible, and it could be you.”  President George W. Bush

 

“I saw the humble beginnings of Dave’s ministry in New York City and it was a dangerous setting with all the violence in the gangs. It’s beyond calculation, the lives that have been touched and changed, who in turn have touched and changed many more. The impact is enormous. Really, it’s God’s work.” Pat Robertson/Pres. The 700 Club 

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5 Tips to Preventing Childhood Obesity

5 Tips to Preventing Childhood Obesity

Healthy Living

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and as a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health, The YMCA of Greater Birmingham offers the following tips to help families in Birmingham incorporate healthy eating and regular physical activity into their lives. These tips will not only help families live healthier together but also help prevent childhood obesity:

  1. Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family, choose a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together. Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals, and allow children to pour their own water.
  2. Play Every Day/Go Outside: Children should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity. Join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving.
  3. Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.
  4. Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home (i.e. turn off screens during meals, go for a walk after a meal, set a timer to remind you to power down the screen).
  5. Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for sleep. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and adults need seven to eight hours.

For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit www.ymcabham.org or speak to your branch Healthy Living Director about how The YMCA of Greater Birmingham can help get your entire family involved!

-Jennifer Neil 

YMCA of Greater Birmingham, www.ymcabham.org 

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