Heart of Refuge

Unveiling The Hidden Beauty Of Your Heart

Category: Parenting

God’s Best Kept Secret ~ Duana Cooper

Photo courtesy of Duana Cooper

Thanks for having me on your blog. As a young stay at home mother of three beautiful children, I have to make time for everything thing I do especially time for myself. After spending my day catering to my children, I get some “me time” once I put them to bed. During this time, I read my bible, spend quality time with my husband, edit videos, and catch up on shows that I do not watch while my kids are awake. I also have a loving supportive husband that helps with the children when I need a break. He is amazing when it comes to helping around the house. I also get time for myself is when my children are in school. My first two attended a preschool at the age of 2 for two days out the week. Since we are done having children, my youngest son will start once he turns 3. Then, this will give me more time to do things around the house or anything I want to do. I would recommend this for any mother out there with small children. This also helps the child with social development.  My self-esteem has been built over the years because of my family. They let me know how they appreciate what I do for them. My children love to write me notes, give me flowers, or rocks that they find. That alone lets me know that I am doing my part as their mother. My husband lets me know how blessed he is to have me. Hearing that would make any woman feel confident and secure in their marriage. I also like to work out to make sure I look the best that I can. This helps eliminate any stress. It also makes me energized for the rest of the day. Also, making sure that I look presentable helps with my self-esteem. I do not get all dressed up often depending on where I’m going. But, when I do, it makes me feel good about myself. To me, when I look my best, I feel my best and other can tell.

My Christian faith plays a big part in my life. We are members of the Church of Christ. I was raised in the church at a very young age. My mother made it her duty that we went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. Also, if there was a gospel meeting going on, we were there. That is why my love for God is so strong. My husband and I have raised our kids the same way. They never want to miss Sunday school or a chance to go to church. As a family, we are still learning and growing everyday by the grace of God.

Duana’s Bio

My name is Duana. I am 29 years old. I am a wife and mother of three beautiful children, Ia 7, Isaac 5, and Isaiah 2. My husband and I have been married for 9 years. I stay home to take care of my family. However, I just graduated this past May with a Bachelor’s degree in General Sociology. It took me eight years, but I finally finished. We have a YouTube Channel called The Curly Coopers which is about family, fun, and hair.

 

Social Media info

Instagram- @thecurlycoopers

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwskTA3Rm_ktVDRxlhLHUgQ

 

 

God’s Best Kept Secret ~ Being a Military Wife by Maxine Reyes


The difference between a non-military wife and a military wife is the challenges that we face when it comes to separation from our husbands, knowing that separation is inevitable. Being a dual military wife is even more challenging because we get to experience deployments multiplied by two.  Deployments take a toll on most marriages of military couples.  Deployment separation has been a key contributor or the cause of many divorces.  Ken and I have experienced hardships that challenged our relationship, but we never consider allowing those challenges to overpower our love for each other.  We have been huge supporters of each other’s careers and personal goals and we refused to let the forces of the world stop us from having the best marriage that we know we can have with God leading us.

Placing trust in God and knowing that we must keep Him at the forefront of our marriage at all times, has allowed us to face our challenges with the utmost boldness. Ken and I are definitely each other’s soul mates.  We feel one another’s pain and happiness and always find ways to make each other feel special and uplifted during unhappy times.  Our Happily Joint movement blog has allowed us to display our determination to love and care for each other for the rest of our lives while living a joyful and sacred Christian life.  Couples who know us usually compliment us and ask us our recipe to happiness.  We have written a book to share experience with others.  There is no trick to a happy marriage, but we will definitely share what works for us.  We teach resiliency in relationships to couples in order for them to have the ability to withstand the challenges of marriage and find ways to recover from difficult times.

After 19 years, we are at a beautiful point of our marriage where we know more about what makes us happy and sad. We know our priorities and are absolutely supportive of our careers and personal goals.  Ken is the most wonderful person I know and I am so grateful for his love and his adoration.  I am most grateful for the father that he is to our adorable daughter.  He is such a gentleman and I can speak all day about him in a positive way.

Success for me is persevering through my lifelong goals. We have always kept God at the forefront of our life.  Being an empowered career woman while being a wife can be challenging.  Women get treated sometimes tougher than our male counter parts so we have to work twice as hard.  I am blessed to have a husband like mine who encourages me to be a strong woman.  He empowers me to pursue my dreams and he makes me feel confident in being his wife.  My husband makes it so much easier for me to pursue my passion.  I am grateful for our relationship with Jesus, which has allowed me to be a successful mother and wife.   Our faith has taken us a long way and we look forward to growing old together.

 

 

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courtesy of Maxine Reyes

MAXINE REYES – Bio

Maxine Reyes is a burgeoning singer/songwriter/speaker whose vocal talent have embellished countless of people around the world.

Born in Kingston and raised in Manchester, Jamaica, her family sang in the community church where she was encouraged to share her special talent. With her rich and earthly Jamaican accent seasoned with grounded grace, you can see right away when she shares her infectious smile that you have just met a new friend.

These endearing qualities also helped Maxine, when she moved to Pembroke Pines, Florida as a teenager – where she began participating in local talent vocal competitions and winning on numerous occasions. It was at that point that she gained the confidence as a vocalist that allowed both her inner and outer beauty to transcend.

Voted Most Talented” of her graduating class at Miramar High School, FL. Maxine desired to pursue singing, but also having a strong sense of reality and being very mindful that is was also more important to be a positive representation of her native Jamaica, Maxine decided at that point of her life that it was much more important to secure her advance educational goals. She also felt like she had a higher calling to serve in the United States Military.

After graduating from High School, Maxine joined the United States Air Force which afforded her advanced education. However, this vibrant and energetic artist still kept her passion to share her gift of song by volunteering to sing at numerous nationally supported Military related events.

Maxine continued to not only sing whenever she can, but she also elevated her service to the Country by proudly becoming a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army and earned her Master of Arts in Management and Leadership. She is currently the Company Commander of the United States Army Recruiting Company in Orlando, FL. It is this same presentation of excellence that makes her performances a breath of fresh air to all. Maxine founded Happily Joint, Inc along with her husband. Happily Joint is an organization that helps couples deal with challenges in their relationships while living their best life with each other. Maxine and Ken know too well the challenges of keeping a relationship together as they met when they were teenagers and have been married for 18 years, both being under the age of 40. With multiple military separations some up to 15 months, the couple kept their marriage in tack and uphold an image that is admired by many. They have vowed to help others who deal with similar challenges as they have by hosting seminars and speaking to audiences interested in Maxine and Ken’s story. They are in the process of writing their first book together “The Happily Joint Guide.”

 

Additional Activities and Musical Performances:

  • Performed at sports games and ceremonies filed with dignitaries on multiple occasions when she sang the National Anthem at Orlando City Soccer, Independence Day Celebration, NBA game San Antonio Spurs vs Charlotte Bobcats at the Time Warner Arena, Ambassador of Qatar and government officials of Qatar, Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show, Toyota Indy 300, Miami Grand Prix and Marlins Opening ceremony.
  • She has performed for the President of the United States of America at the Miami Arena.
  • Maxine is loved by many and her broad appeal has won ardent supporters wherever she has performed. She returned home in April of 2014 after a year of serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Qatar and Afghanistan where she entertained Coalition forces in the area where she was based.
  • Her versatility and diverse background makes her the perfect ambassador for her nation. Maxine’s style can be described as “Reggae Soul” blending sultry inspiring Inspirational love R&B/Jazz grooves with Reggae.
  • Her Patriotic song “I’ve Got You/Military Wife” which she penned after her husband’s First Sergeant was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2012 tugs at the heart and displays her writing skills and soulful vocal style. The song is perfect for any function honouring veterans, their spouses and the memories of the lives lost in the fight against terror.
  • Besides work, she is active in her community volunteering for different causes at every moment that she can. She is currently working on creating a non-profit organization, which offers mentoring and educational opportunities for the young girls. She actively supports her primary school back in Jamaica with her very own Maxine Reyes/Doctor Bird Award Program since 2000. It is a program that encourages students to work hard in school and reach for the stars in everything that they do. It fosters education, positive attitudes and selflessness. Her passion for people and her family is commendable and is noticed by the way she cares for her Soldiers and their families.

 

Social Media and contact Information

Happily Joint
Www.HappilyJoint.com
IG,FB,Twitter,Pinterest @HappilyJ

From The Heart of a Man ~ Kenneth Reyes

 

Courtesy Kenneth Reyes

Nothing in life carries more gravity than being a good father and husband. Serving in the military adds a level of complexity that most families do not have to deal with. Most civilians are unaware of the lawful demand that the profession of arms asks of its members. This demand is simply stated as, the mission comes first. If you are unfamiliar with the term, the mission comes first, allow me to get you up-to-speed. The “mission” is any military requirement that is asked of me. This can stem from as mundane as administrative paper work to the extreme of a combat deployment. The mission comes first regardless of my family situation. Child being born < Army; Wedding Anniversary < Army; Death in the Family < Army. True, with special permission these conflicts of interest can be resolved but you need the Army’s permission first.

This requires me to be on top of my husband and fatherly duties at all times. I need to build emotional resiliency in my wife and daughter so they can mentally manage the disappointment of my absence and all the little things that are on the daily battlefield of emotional happiness. School plays, playtime, tucking my daughter into bed, being there to hold my wife after a rough day. These are just some of the constant challenges I face as a father and husband in the military.

The question for those that know me is, how did I stay married for 19 years and be under 40? The answer is simple but the execution is much harder. I loved my wife as I wanted her to love me. I tried to be as understanding to her needs as I want her to be understanding to mine. Lastly, forgiveness proved to be the most important element to our success. I strived to forgive her for all perceived wrongs against me as I hoped she would try to forgive me for all my perceived wrongs against her. It didn’t hurt that the Lord scripted onto my heart that I would take care of her till my dying breath either.

Our relationship enjoys the unfair advantage of the Lord’s favor. We have faced challenges that have crushed other couples, but our love has the spiritual backing of one that is greater than the world. Therefore our love is able to resist the world’s challenges. This doesn’t mean we don’t fall victim to the snares of being rude, impatient, or hurting-one-another. We just seem to have an unending well of forgiveness for each other. This allows us to enjoy an unbreakable bond. After reading this you may be disappointed if you came looking for answers that could easily be replicated in your own relationship, but in the end we give God all the glory.

 

 

Captain Kenneth Reyes  ~ United States Army Paratrooper

Kenneth Reyes was born in Hoboken, NJ in 1978 and grew up as a military dependent.  Ken travelled the world with his mother and older brother; Hawaii, California, Puerto Rico, Germany, and Texas.  He graduated from High School at Killeen, TX and promptly enlisted in the United States Air Force at the age of 17 in 1996.  He attended Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.  After Basic Military Training, his first permanent duty station was McClellan Air Force Base, Sacramento, California.  He soon deployed to Bosnia to support the NATO led Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 3 months. His mission was to assist in halting Serbian forces from completing their campaign of ethnic cleansing the Kosovo Albanians.

In 2000 while serving as a Senior Airman, Ken completed his first Associates in Applied Science in Information Technology Systems form the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF).  The CCAF is a federally-chartered degree-granting institution that serves the United States Air Force’s enlisted force.  In 2005 while serving as a Technical Sergeant, Ken completed his second Associates in Applied Science from the CCAF in Education & Training Management. He also completed a Bachelors of Science in Management from the University of Phoenix.  In 2006 Ken competed and was awarded an opportunity to attended Officer Candidate School.  After successfully completing Officer Candidate School, Ken received a commission from the President of the United States as an Army Second Lieutenant in the Adjutant General Corps.

In 2007 while serving as a Second Lieutenant, Ken volunteered to serve his country as a United States Army Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.  Ken was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (4th Brigade Combat Team).  Ken served as their Adjutant General Officer for 46 months.  While in the 82nd Airborne Division he served 27 months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In 2011 while serving as a Captain, Ken took command of Charlie Company, 120th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception), Fort Jackson, Columbia, SC for 22 months.  During this time Ken received, equipped, motivated, and shipped over 36,000 Soldiers to Basic Combat Training.  In 2013 Ken completed his Masters of Arts in Human Resource Management from Webster University.

Since 2013 Ken has been serving as an Assistant Professor of Military Science for Army ROTC at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Stetson University, Bethune-Cookman, and Daytona State College. Some of his awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, theArmy Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement

Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal (with two campaign stars), the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NATO ISAF Medal, the Polish Army Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

 

 

From the Heart of a Man – Ashley Taylor

Living every day, looking into a mirror” 

It took me a while to sit down and write this blog, I guess because the topic is quite personal and sensitive. If there are two things in my life that I treasure above all, it’s my relationship with God and the relationship with my wife.

When I got married, or rather when I got engaged I was only 20 years old. I took the time to make sure my proposal was amazing for my bride to be (which it was – if you don’t believe me ask her! LOL). I married at 21 and so this new life began with a young lady who I have the responsibility of loving and taking care of. My marriage didn’t start in the clouds of love, floating away into the sunset, but it started in reality. No money, living in one bedroom within a Brixton South London crack-house, and I now have to learn how to be a husband in the worst conditions. Although my wife and I were committed to each other to be together no doubt, the truth is we had to learn how to love each other.

Does that sound backwards? Well, maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t – but that was our reality. Having the questions going back and forth in both our minds – Did I make the right decision? Was I too young? Did I hear God right or wrong about this person? As I write this blog, my marriage has survived good days, bad days, arguments, laughs, a pregnancy, a miscarriage, a miracle baby, counselling, bank overdrafts, poor financial decisions, homelessness, miracle money, depression, new cities, redundancy, new homes, new jobs – but most of all, new love. You see, I had to grow up a whole lot to become a real man.

Almost being married for 6 years now, I can say that it was my relationship with God that changed my marriage. I had to force myself to ask myself the question, “Do I love her like Christ loves me?” This means, do I love her faults, forgive, cover her, and be there for her like Christ does the same for me? This question changed my perspective forever when it came to my marriage. I realised I had no right to be mean, cold, selfish and distant – because I treat Christ so awful many times, but guess what He still loves me! Wow, that’s amazing. It was when I got a revelation of the love of Jesus Christ, I was able to love my wife in a brand new way.

Though we still have many years ahead of us, I know without a doubt that we are in our best years now. I challenge any young man out there, if you want to get married, get ready to live everyday looking in a mirror. When you see your lady, get ready to see yourself: flawed & imperfect – but just like Jesus you have to pour out love and care.

 

Ashley Taylor – BIO

Ashley Taylor, 26, a dreamer & visionary favoured by God, currently resides in Nottingham, England with his wife Sabrina and son, River. Having been in Christian ministry since he was 8 years old, yet not one to be in the spotlight of church circuits and circles, Ashley recognises that God has kept him hidden. He understands that He has been called to be a major influence cross-denominationally within Christian and church environments, and is therefore ever heeding to the instruction of God found in Psalm 2:8, “Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.” Ashley is an active member in ministry at Heart Church – based in Nottingham, under the leadership & covering of his spiritual father, Pastor Malcolm Baxter.

 

From The Heart of a Man – Micheal Smith

A Man of Faith by Micheal Smith

Courtesy of Micheal Smith MBE

Whatever we as men do in our lives, we have an underlying desire to be great in the eyes of our family. We strive to prove that we are the provider, defender and ruler of the home. The truth is we are overshadowed by our spouse who really runs the home, builds bridges between us and our children and generally keeps the home in order. For some men this can be uncomfortable because we feel out of control, even to a point that the home feels like a bucket with many holes and we struggle to keep everything and everyone together in that bucket. A good man soon learns to operate in the areas of the home that is his domain and allows his spouse and children to operate freely in theirs. No matter what we do, at the end of the day it always comes down to family and the value we place on it.

 

There are many things that drive men to become successful. The one thing that has driven me to do my best is my desire to please my God. I am a firm believer that if we serve God with all our heart and all our energy, he will take care of everything in our lives. I have learned to trust God totally to be my guide, my provider and a very present help in times of difficulty. If we want to really please God, we must first believe that he is God and allow him to be in total control of the steering wheel, the accelerator and the brake of our life vehicle.

That vehicle becomes ‘the desire of our heart’ and we need to get to the point where we recognise that it is God’s calling on our life and we have the choice to accept it or decline that calling. An important saying to remember is this, “A winner never quits and a quitter never wins” we must keep pressing forward. A book by John Maxwell called ‘Failing Forward’ (ISBN: 8601300489926), taught me that failing your way to success is commonplace with most, if not all of the most successful people in the world. Another important secret of success is “Never, Never, Never quit!”

 

Micheal’s Bio
Born and bred in Britain and son of Jamaican parents, Michael had a thirst for excitement in life and as such pursued a path that has led to his current position, as a committed Christian, husband and father.

As a young man Michael was destined for leadership and at age 15 he joined the Air Training Corps where he got a marksmanship in shooting before even getting his uniform and went on to becoming a Sargent. He wanted to be a fighter pilot and went on to gain a Glider Pilots Licence and also flew single-engined light aircraft. After deciding not to join the Royal Air Force as it may have involved taking the life of another, he decided to join the Police, where a major change was needed to improve the poor relationship between black people and the police.

He served as Police Officer for over 22 years, during which time he developed a desire to positively address knife and gun crime amongst young people. In 2007 he founded the charitable organisation Word 4 Weapons, the UK’s first weapons surrender and exchange programme. To date they have removed over 20,000 weapons from UK’s streets. Michael pursued this venture alongside his full-time job and in 2015 took early retirement to spend more time developing Word 4 Weapons. In March 2016 Michael was awarded a MBE by The Queen for his dedication to making the UK a safer place be. In addition, Michael and his wife Angela have now started a new venture offering respite care for Church Leaders and a service to couples experiencing difficulties in their marriage.

The Generational Gap

image from www.pokeyournose.com

The other day I was sharing with someone about the generational gap. Our young people are experiencing things that we never experienced or had to go through. They are exposed to a lot more sex, drugs and so many other things that use to be in the closet but are now the norm and open.

My own children come and ask questions or want to discuss topics  that to be honest at times make me cringe but I have to listen and discuss it with them. I have heard many young people say that their parents don’t understand or there is no way I can discuss this with my parents.

Listen, our world is changing at a rapid rate technology is changing every few weeks and we have to prayerfully rely on the Holy Spirit whilst we have conversations with our children and young people. Some churches have not developed to the point where there can be open dialogue and as a result the church is losing young people. The millennials are turning to other gods and religions.

As adults we can prayerfully discuss topics with our young people in a way that they know we are hearing them and that they are being understood. We cannot afford to let ourselves become obsolete. Technology is shrinking our world rapidly and the iPhone, iPad etc is normal everyday equipment to them. When I was growing up there was no internet, no email, no computer games, no nothing.  All we had was the park, our bikes and a skipping rope. ( If you can relate to that please “like” this post so I know I am not on my own).

Please don’t get me wrong we are not lowering ours standards or anything like that, but we have to talk, try to understand and give a listening ear to our young people. I can appreciate that as an adult you may never have had anyone listen to you and you were not given the chance to express yourself, but you now have the chance to prayerfully extend to someone what you never received. God can help you. Read books, investigate how you can be a listening parent there is a lot of material out there to help you.

Young adult, take your time with your parents. One thing you must do is respect them despite whatever shortfall they may have. Being a parent is the hardest job on the planet, it’s no joke. You will see when you have your own children.

Let us close the generation gap with love, prayer, understanding and a listening ear.

A Young Mother’s Question.

image from sheknows.com

I was asked a question from my other blog site ( www.jennyallensecretplace.wordpress.com) by a young wife and mother who asked “I would like to hear and find out more about finding me and still find a way to be a great mother, daughter, and the love of my man’s life….” I would like to try and answer her question.

I can totally understand where she is coming from because being a mother, daughter, wife/girlfriend is a tall order and you try to be all things to all men and that is something you cannot do or be. I do not know how old this reader is, if she is married, working, studying or any other circumstance about her but I will answer in general terms based on what worked for me.

From my own experience, before I could look after my family in an affective and meaningful way I took time out to do what I was passionate about and did the things that ministered to me as an individual. For example I loved to read so I got books and found times throughout the day to read. I also loved working out and going to Spa’s and I also loved going for walks in the park. This helped me to focus and think about things that I was worried or concerned about. It was me time. After I took those me times I was better able to take care of my family and be the best that I could be towards them because I had ministered to who I was and am.

Another suggestion is to go out with some your friends, have a girls night out. It’s important not to lose contact with other relationships that you have.  Pursue any personal projects that you may have started and not finished. Volunteer in an organisation that you believe in. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community.

It is very very easy to keep giving as a mother and that’s not bad but it is important to also do the the things that you like to do and enjoy. Create a time slot say once a week or whatever time frame is convenient for you and do something special for yourself. Do you have someone who can babysit for you or can your husband look after your baby whilst you take some time out?

Being in a relationship with someone can be very challenging at times so you want to create special moments to build your relationship. You could arrange for someone to look after your baby whilst the both of you go on a date night. See a movie, restaurant , weekend away, do something that you both enjoy. This could be done once a month for example. It very important that the both of you also talk about what you need from each other in the relationship and take steps towards those goals.

In conclusion St John 16:7 (amp) says that The Holy Spirit is a comforter, helper and counsellor. Pray about your daily routine, ask God to give you wisdom to run your home. Pray as you do the washing, pray as you iron, pray in your children’s room and pray over your home as you tidy and clean it. It does not have to be long prayers but just pray from your heart. Solicite divine help and God will surely honour your prayers.

I trust these few suggestions are helpful to you. Be Blessed!

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