It’s a Safari!

It’s a Safari!

Are We There Yet?

It’s fun for kids of all ages at “Live with Characters” February 24 at Gardendale First Baptist Church-North Campus. Learn more and buy tickets at www.justkeepsmiling.org

Your children or grandchildren are sure to smile and maybe burst into laughter as they meet their favorite Disney characters, Ninja Turtles, Star Wars characters and more- all while going on “Safari.” There will be two “Live with the Characters” shows, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., on February 24, 2018, each followed by a meet and greet, autograph signings and pictures with the stars of the show. The event at Gardendale First Baptist Church-North Campus is a major fundraiser for the local non-profit ministry, Just Keep Smiling (JKS, www.justkeepsmiling.org). “‘Live with the Characters’ is a favorite fund raiser of all of our volunteers,” explains Just Keep Smiling founder, Sue Jeffreys. “It is a time we come together to do God’s work, having so much fun, while making children smile and have the time of their life.” JKS was born from the experiences of three local women, Patrice Brooks, Debra Cook and Sue Jeffreys. All three women know what it is like to live with tragically losing children or having a child with a life-threatening illness. Thirteen years ago, they established JKS which seeks to assist families with critically ill children by providing financial aid for immediate needs, offering emotional support based on personal knowledge of a child’s serious illness or death, and sharing spiritual insight that conveys the solace, grace and strength found in God. JKS works with a network of social workers at area hospitals to identify families with such needs during their time of medical crisis with a child or children.

Purchase your $10 tickets to “Live with the Characters” at www.justkeepsmiling.org, at Jeff Dennis Jewelers or at the door. Special VIP tickets are available with reserved seating, souvenir and preshow autograph and pictures (limited to 50 tickets per show). If your company or organization is looking for an opportunity to help families in need, consider a $300 Character Sponsorship at “Live with the Characters.” Contact jbusby@justkeepsmiling.org for details.

Later this year, JKS will host a Golf Tournament at Greystone’s Legacy Course on June 28, the Annual Merry Market at Gardendale Civic Center October 19-20 and Auction & Appetizers’ at Regions Field Ballroom on November 6, 2018. †

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Serving Alabama Children through CASA

Serving Alabama Children through CASA

For children who have experienced abuse or neglect, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can help make a difference by helping them work their way through the court and child welfare systems in search of a loving home. Each time a child is paired with a CASA Volunteer, their chances are greater to have the best possible outcome. CASA recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for the child’s best interest in the court process. They work with judges, lawyers, social workers, and families to ensure each child has an advocate in court, the child welfare, and foster care systems.

Many life goals and achievements that our culture considers normal rites of passage do not occur for children who are in foster care. Statistics show that 40% do not graduate from high school, 20% become homeless within one year and 25% will be incarcerated after leaving foster care. In contrast, children with CASA volunteers spend 7.5 months less time in foster care, experience fewer out-of-home placements, have significantly better educational performance, and are 90% less likely to reenter the system. By working to reduce the length of time a child spends in foster care, CASA saves the state thousands of dollars while drastically improving the quality of a child’s life, one child at a time. Every child that CASA helps to find a safe, permanent home is one more future adult who has a chance to thrive and succeed in our society.

In 2015, there were 10,279 dependency proceedings in Alabama. Currently, we only have the capacity to serve 10% of the children who need a CASA Volunteer. We must serve more but we cannot do it without the help of caring individuals willing to be trained to serve. You don’t have to be “qualified,” just a caring, compassionate and concerned person willing to be trained.

CASA is presently recruiting volunteers to work with abused and neglected children in all areas of Shelby County and parts of the Hoover area. Training classes begin April 2018. For more information on how you can help, please visit www.casaofshelbycounty.org or call Beth at 243-8753. †

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No Parent Left Behind: Addressing Teenage Megatrends

No Parent Left Behind: Addressing Teenage Megatrends

Education Extra

Dr. Walt Mueller, the founder and director of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, will be presenting a seminar titled “No Parent Left Behind” at the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference on Saturday, February 3 at the Oak Mountain High School auditorium. Mueller took a few minutes to answer some questions about the challenges parents face today and how the conference can help.

What do you think are the biggest challenges that parents today are facing? There are two primary challenges that parents face today. First is an old challenge – the challenge of dealing with our own brokenness as we seek to raise children that are also sinful and broken. The second challenge is a new challenge- the challenge of a changing cultural context. Parents find themselves raising kids in a culture that looks very different from the one they grew up in.

What are some ways parents find themselves “Left Behind”? When I go speak to parents, parents of older teenagers say, “This was really helpful, but I wish I had heard this 15 years ago.” Things have grown and become issues, and parents wish they could have had a preventative influence. Parents feel left behind because they don’t understand what their kids are facing.

What are some of the topics you will be addressing at the conference? I will cover developmental realities and how they make children vulnerable to the cultural narrative. I want to keep parents from being caught off guard. I will also cover practical and hope-filled responses to topics like social media, sexuality, pornography, and media influence. I will seek to provide practical and hope-filled ideas that will help us that can become stakes in the ground as we engage with kids.

How will this conference help parents keep from being “Left Behind”? The conference will not be exhaustive or a cure all. People need to see this as a launch pad, spring board, or starting line of being aware of the kinds of things kids face so they can offer practical biblically-based responses. This can be a launch pad to journey together with people in their churches and community as they can look for ways to minister together to their kids.

Why should parents make attending the conference a priority? I want to make them aware. Once you know the reality, you can generate a response. This conference is not just for parents of teenagers. It would be very beneficial to younger parents and grandparents as well. †

-For more information or to register for the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference, please visit www.bhamparentingcollective.com

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Promoting Your Child’s Independence—and Why You Must

Promoting Your Child’s Independence—and Why You Must

Healthy Living

Many older adults say that today’s children are spoiled. While it is true that we parents are now giving our children far more material possessions and commercial entertainment than most of us received, the greater harm to our children’s development is that we tend to foster their dependence upon us. Not only do we excessively provide to our children the most positive experiences, we also tend to shield them from negative experiences—more so than previous generations of parents have done. This includes protecting the child from contentious peers, demanding teachers, and failure of various types.

Our desire to provide the very best life possible for the child leads us to overprotect, which has quite the opposite result. A child who is never tasked to cope with these unpleasant experiences of life never develops the coping skills that he or she will need as an adult. So, why should we be surprised that so very many young adults are now living lifestyles of utter dependence upon parents? Many of them are residing with their parents because they experienced difficulties in college, cannot find and maintain employment, have divorced, have become dependent upon drugs, or are generally anxious or depressed.

God tasks parents to prepare their children for coping with the stress of this world as they seek the bliss of eternal life. Trying to prevent a child from ever experiencing disappointment, betrayal, unkindness, or failure merely postpones the inevitable. Postponing those experiences only cements the child’s belief that this world is filled with nothing but fun, success, and people eager to praise them and dote on them. The longer this belief builds, the harder it will be for the older child (or young adult) to accept reality and build skills for coping with it. As parents, we must be judicious in allowing our children to have some unpleasant experiences while we protect them from the most distressing ones until their coping skills have developed.

-Dr. Thomas Maple 

Dr. Maple is an Alabama-licensed psychologist and the founder of Crosswalk Psychological Services, LLC.  His clinical background includes work in private practice and in university clinics and he specializes in providing faith-based services online. To explore opportunities for you and/or your child to engage in CrossWalk faith-based psychotherapy services online, visit www.crosswalknow.com, call 334-744-3694 or email office@crosswalknow.com

 

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Photo Fun: Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic

Photo Fun: Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic

“Joy to the World”

Maggie Baldwin (front right) and Connor Cameron (back right) portray Mary and Joseph accompanied by angels Sam Niedermeier (front left) and Stella Ferlisi (back left) dressed in white in the Homewood Christmas Parade. The Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School students shared the Reason for the Season traveling on a brightly decorated float.

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Prince of Peace Receives Excellence Award

Prince of Peace Receives Excellence Award

Education Extra

For the second consecutive year, Hoover’s Prince of Peace Catholic School received the prestigious Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School of Excellence Award. Only seven other southeastern United States schools have received back-to-back Blue Ribbon awards. Criteria for the award included a survey of the school’s stakeholders (parents, students, faculty, staff and administrators) which showed resounding support for the school’s initiatives and programs. Other categories of criteria that the school successfully met were:  focus and support; school organization and culture; challenging standards and curriculum; active teaching and learning; technology integration; professional community; leadership and educational vitality; school, family and community partnerships; and indicators of success.†

Prince of Peace Catholic School students proudly display the school’s recent recognition as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

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Mommy & Me: Developing Creativity & Expression

Mommy & Me: Developing Creativity & Expression

Special Feature

Mommy & Me Ballet Classes begin January 18 at Briarwood Ballet located at Briarwood Church, 2200 Briarwood Way, 35243. Learn more and register at www.briarwood.org/balletclasses . Space is limited.

Toddlers – this one is for you! Grab your favorite adult and come dance! Create rhythms and movements and wonderful memories together!

That’s right, January 16, 2018, Briarwood Ballet kicks off its “Mommy & Me” eight-week class especially designed for children ages 18 to 36 months. “What a joy it is to teach toddlers to develop a love of movement and music!” explains teacher Meredith Dorough. “Our hope is that this early introduction will begin a lifelong appreciation for creativity and expression that will continue to develop for years to come.” Dorough brings a wealth of experience and excitement to this class. The mother of three grew up dancing with the Briarwood Ballet, was a member of the ballet’s performing group, Ballet Exaltation, and returned to be on staff in 2003. Since then, she has taught ballet to pre-school to high-school students and is the director of Briarwood’s performing group “Immanuel.”

Mommy & Me classes will be held every Tuesday from 9:15-10 a.m. at Briarwood Ballet/Briarwood Presbyterian Church, beginning January 16 through March 6.  “This class is such a fun experience for me and my tiny dancer!” exclaimed one mom. “I loved seeing the joy on my daughter’s face as she was introduced to dance in such a fun way!” The class registration fee is $130. Learn more and register at www.briarwood.org/balletclasses or call 205-776-5284. †

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The GIFT of Music

The GIFT of Music

Music Notes

“Mom, thanks for letting me quit piano lessons when I was a kid!”… said no one ever! Actually, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had someone bemoan the fact that they quit taking piano or voice or [insert your instrument of choice here] lessons as a child.

In elementary and junior high school, my love for music wasn’t nearly as strong as my love for sports. I dreamed of being the next Roger Staubach, but I was also in the school band and found a great love for music. I am grateful for parents and educators who encouraged me to try different activities and taught me not only to complete whatever commitment I had made to a sports team or any other group I was involved in, but to also do my very best in them. For me, music won the day and I clearly remember all the wonderful people who helped me along the way. The only regret I have is not taking private lessons earlier in life.

Today it seems as if parents are choosing specific paths for their children at a very young age, but let me encourage you to take a breath and allow your child the advantage of experiencing many different opportunities- including music making. It is a well-known fact that music education has tremendous benefits such as self-discipline, teamwork, organization, critical thinking and many more. However, as Northwestern University research revealed and Melissa Locker reported in her Time magazine article, “This is how Music Can Change Your Brain,” to fully reap the cognitive benefits of a music class, kids can’t just sit there and let the sound of music wash over them. They have to be actively engaged in the music and participate in the class.” I promise you will not regret the time and energy spent in pursuing music education. One way of doing this is through programs like Meadow Brook Baptist Church’s School of Fine Arts, otherwise known as S.O.F.A.

S.O.F.A. is designed to meet the student where they are and help them develop the skills and discipline it requires to reach their fullest potential. Whether for use in performance, ministry or personal enjoyment, S.O.F.A.’s mission is to see each person grow in their talent and passion for the arts. Whether you are a beginner or very experienced musician, take advantage of S.O.F.A. and reap the benefits music has to offer. Registration for spring classes is taking place now, visit www.mbbc-sofa.org.

-David Vaughan 

Worship Pastor, Meadow Brook Baptist Church, 

4984 Meadow Brook Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242

205-991-8384, www.meadowbrookbaptist.orgwww.mbbc-sofa.org

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Study of the Saints

Study of the Saints

Photo Fun

The 4th grade students at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School celebrated All Saints Day and a month-long research project about the saints during the month of November. Pictured here are the students with Our Lady Sorrows Associate Pastor Wilfred Emeh.

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