Loneliness

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Loneliness….it’s not just women….”Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation……..In 2015, a huge study out of Brigham Young University, using data from 3.5 million people collected over 35 years, found
that those who fall into the categories of loneliness, isolation, or even simply living on their own see their risk of premature death rise 26 to 32 percent. Now consider that in the United States, nearly a third of people older than 65 live alone; by age 85, that has jumped to about half. Add all of this up, and you can see why the surgeon general is declaring loneliness to be a public health epidemic.”

Northstar Church Service Day at Titus 2

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Members of a young adult small group from Northstar Church spent their Saturday morning this past week at Titus 2’s community residence for women helping with “spring cleaning”. The energetic team arrived early and spent the morning cleaning the yard, installing brick flower bed borders, prepping a space for a concrete pad for the residence’s trashcans, and cleaning and organizing a large upstairs closet. The improved appearance and functionality of storage space and the front yard were a wonderful gift to the women of Titus 2. The members interacted with and served side by side with the Titus 2 ladies and found common ground on which to build new friendships. This is the third year that Northstar Church members have included projects at Titus 2 in their annual outreach service day to Bay County.

Foster Care?

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I have not worked with a lot of families with children in foster care, but with enough to realize it is not always the best situation…..and considering that Bay County has the highest percentage of kids in foster placement in the state of Florida, I think it behooves us to be alert to the risks. I’ve had one young woman whose 2 year old in placement out of state was permanently disabled after nearly dying from traumatic head injury due to abuse in a foster home where too many children were being allowed to live. In another situation, we detected physical abuse of a toddler and had to report it, even though it was in a family placement setting. Two aged-out foster youth who’ve been at Titus 2 had been adopted and then un-adopted during their long years (10+) in the foster system in other states and wound up here in Florida as young adults trying to start their lives afresh. One young former foster system lady, after a close brush with a prostitution ring, told me that many aged out foster kids gravitate toward prostitution because they have been sexually exploited and abused so much that their sexuality means very little to them beyond a way to get what they want…they find the lure of the money more necessary than caring for their sexual integrity and health. Better support for struggling families, keeping kids with their biological families when possible, keeping them local where they can be better followed and observed, providing quality environments for children who must be removed from abusive or neglectful parents……much can be done. It must be done.

“Reframe” the Concept of “Love”

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This TED talk provides an interesting view of how our culture talks about “love.” In a recent conversation with a young woman contemplating a relationship, her emotions were obviously being tugged at. The perspective presented here is VERY interesting. In our conversation I think we were able to “reframe” the concept of “love” and “relationship” she was considering in terms of a collaboration toward something beautiful and creative with contributions toward something long term and solid by both parties. It surprised me a few days later to discover that she had completely changed her consideration of this relationship. When one gets away from being driven by the unstable and exciting emotionalism of the moment…that same mechanism that is fed by drug use… and looks at a prospective relationship more long term and collaboratively, it sometimes is not so exciting, but much more rational and healthy. I think older, more mature people approach relationships this way instead of in the heady, giddy emotional way of adolescence. Although our culture certainly promotes and fosters such an adolescent fantasy approach.

When Work is Worship……

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Yesterday was another of “those” days. So many things dropped into place in just the right order at just the right time, it could only be attributable to God’s grace and for his glory. Each of our Titus 2 ladies saw prayers answered, obstacles removed, or needs met. As I think about the day, it’s easy to see that only God could have coordinated the phone calls, responses, contacts, completion of processes at work, etc. with such precise timing to bring so many things to resolution in one day. It also suggests to me that there are lots of prayers being offered on behalf of the women of Titus 2 and that they and we, as their support system, are, in fact, in sync with God’s will. It’s a humbling feeling to realize how God is at work, often without our awareness, until such moments when so many things point to his divine work on our behalf. Sometimes a student looks at me and says that I must have some kind of supernatural influence….I make calls, people make suggestions, someone tells someone about something needed, things just show up when needed, or other indications that things are happening in a favorable direction.. I tell them “no”, I just get up and do what I’m supposed to do each day and God takes care of you all and those of us who support you. As each one comes to know how loved she is, how willingly God enters into our situations when we are faithful, and how God truly is sovereign and good, she comes to express gratitude and glory where it belongs….to our great God! It delights me and other volunteers as we hear them begin to express their recognition and gratitude to God for the ways he is at work all around them. Off I go for another day of watching God work……

Helping Women Make Such Progress

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After yesterday’s weather delay, one young lady got to take the TABE test today at Career Source and started GED classes at Haney Technical School. She also got a state ID today after we have spent the last week gathering her paperwork for it. Titus 2 is helping another young lady this week with temporary shelter, college application at GCSC, and gathering records for Florida ID and college admission requirements to transfer from a community college in another state.. Another woman got her Florida drivers license back this week after a theft at her home a few months ago….She said, “I feel whole again, like something significant has been restored.” Being burglarized does that to a person….makes her feel vulnerable and victimized. Helping women make such progress with their goals is the mission of Titus 2!

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