Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What Do I Do? My Parents Don't Love Me!

Have you ever felt that you were born by accident?

Have you ever felt like you are not part of the family you are in?

How do we love ourselves when we do not feel loved or wanted by those who brought us to this world?

Everyone at some point, especially during our youth, has faced situations where we feel unloved, unwanted and unaccepted. We at different points in our lives could form very negative ideas about our parents. In our society, often times, young couples have babies without much knowledge or experience in parenting. For many babies, the most common noises that they are exposed to are those of their parents yelling insults to each other; way before they learn to walk, they have already been exposed to abuse.

Many mothers, in times of great stress, caused by poverty or abandonment by their partners, have cursed the fruit of their wombs, and this affects many children, even in adulthood. Nothing causes more pain than feeling that the most important people in our lives - our parents - do not love us. Nothing causes more resentment, bitterness and depression than feeling that nothing we do can win the love of our parents.

Many young people are prone to fits of anger and violent outbursts because they feel their mother or father prefer their romantic interests or even another sibling over themselves. Young people often feel displaced by friends that their parents would rather hang out with, or by their parents drinking or other addictions.

I first wrote this article in Spanish, and over the years, I was amazed about how many young people identified with it. I have received hundreds of comments from young people of different ages stating their suffering, their desperation and isolation brought about by those feelings of abandonment and neglect from their parents. Often times, the question they have is, "How can we find courage to live productive lives when those we love do not expect anything good from us?"

The Bible tells a story that I'm sure will provide encouragement to us; Genesis 35:17-19.

This is the story of a woman name Rachel who died while struggling to give birth to her son. She had a very difficult delivery, with such pain that in her last words, she decided to call her son Ben-oni, which means "son of my sorrow." Imagine growing up with a name like that. Imagine being known by everyone in your school, the place you live, your soccer of baseball team as "Son of sorrow" because you caused the death of your own mother. 

Thankfully for this baby, his father was there and immediately changed his name from Ben-oni, son of sorrow, to Benjamin, which means "son of my right hand." Hardship and pain had caused that mother to call the fruit of her womb a name that reflected her suffering, rather than her hope. This mother wasn't thinking about this baby's future - she was focused on the pain she was experiencing, but the baby’' father wouldn't let this happen. He saw the baby and rather than focusing on his loss, he decided to focus on his gain and called his baby "Son of my right hand."

This story we've read is thousands of years old, but it is repeated again and again in homes devastated by poverty, ignorance, irresponsibility and vices. Often times, men and women filled with bitterness because they had thoughtlessly fell for a man or a woman who didn’t love them, see their children as a reminder of their past and as a source of pain and suffering. Rather than seeing their children as a ray of hope and a source of love, they insult them and call them names that don't reflect at all how God our father see them.

The book of Psalms 27:10 (NIV) says: "Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me."

Without a doubt, the pain of rejection is real. The lack of acceptance and love can make us weep to the point of wishing to die. One can often question God about why were we born. The emotional pain can cause many to follow the wrong path to self-destruction or fall pry of one bad relationship to another. But today, I want to tell you that although you feel alone in this world, even when you feel that no one loves you and the whole world doesn't care that you exist, God knows you and He knows your pain. God wants you to come to know him and He wants to be that mother or father who has not cared for you.

I know how difficult it is to even imagine that someone will actually care about our hurts and pain. I know how difficult it is when we are feeling lonely to believe that God can be anywhere near us. I know how difficult it is to believe that we could be loved by someone else when those people we were supposed to be the most important to don’t seem to care about us, but God does. God will not leave us not forsake us. I once read in a commentary that this word means that God will not leave and neither let us go; He will be there by our side, even in the days and times when don't want Him. He is a faithful friend. The first and most important thing to begin the journey of freedom is to forgive our parents. But it is not easy to forgive if we are focused only in our present circumstances - that is why we need God to give us hope.

In reading the stories of those young people who have sent me comments about their own experiences, I have come to realize something I didn't know when I was going through my own bad experience -I am not the only one who has experienced rejection. I am not the only one who has felt rejected or unloved. In fact, it is more prevalent than I never imagined. It seems that it is very much part of growing up. Now that I have my own children, I can see how often my wife or I have inadvertently said or done things that one our kids didn't think was fair, but after a few loving words, everybody was happy again.

Give God a chance, and let him love you today! Give God a chance.

Written by Lt. Giovanni E. Romero
Union City Corps

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Time of New Beginnings

June is the month of graduations. Today, there are graduations from pre-school right on down to college and even post-graduate. From high school and college, it is a transition into an adult world that seems so impossible to conquer. It is a time of job-searching in an economic climate where sought after jobs are scarce.

I remember the valedictorian who spoke at my high school graduation many years ago. She spoke of a fear of the unknown future. What would the tomorrows bring? Back in the days when education after high school was mostly the privilege of the affluent, I remember going to my first job interview. I was scared to death. Am I wearing the right outfit? What do I say? What questions should I ask?  Fortunately, my future employer was kind and aware of the normal jitters of a recent graduate, and I was hired after my first interview.

Transitions are always difficult and sometimes threatening, particularly those which thrust us from youth to the adult life. That may be why the Bible is full of the encouragement to trust God.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)

"Trust in God at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us." (Psalm 62:8) 

"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2)

The Bible is full of additional verses which encourage us to trust in God. He is utterly trustworthy, and by trusting Him, we are assured peace and security.

Life is uncertain. Whether you are a young adult facing post-graduation uncertainty or at an age when you face the same uncertainty at post-retirement, God is the same - yesterday, today, and for every tomorrow. His wisdom is perfect, and He knows each step of your life journey. He wants to walk that journey with you, promising never to leave you as you trust Him. Even when the way is uncertain; take courage from the promise that you are not alone.

The prophet Jeremiah knew about the uncertainties of life and he offers this encouragement:

"Most blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord; whose hope and confidence is in the Lord. He shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of the drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8 Amplified Bible.)

As a child, I was taught a simple poem that describes common plight of so many people today.

Said the robin to the sparrow,
"I would really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."

Said the sparrow to the robin,
"Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me."


God is trustworthy. Do not be afraid to turn your heart, your mind, your life over to Him, for He cares for you. 

Another prophet, Isaiah, discovered the secret of security in this life of uncertainty. He said of God, about the person who trusts in Him: "You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

That's how simple it is – just trusting and following God who is our rock in all uncertainties. That's what I want for myself, and that's what I pray will be your experience.

Written by Gloria Hohn

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Strong of Spirit and Faith

Sunday was Mother's Day. I've been a mother for almost 47 years, Yet, when Mother's Day comes around, I always think first of my mother.  My mother was a quiet woman, small of stature, but strong of spirit and faith. Widowed at 37 years of age, with five daughters to feed and care for, she trusted God to strengthen her for the overwhelming responsibilities which were then hers. She was born in Norway, and her whole immediate family was thousands of miles away, never available to lend a helping hand. All my childhood memories are happy ones. My mother died when I was just eleven years old.

My mother made the best waffles I ever tasted. She let us jump on the beds; requiring only that we take our shoes off and be careful not to get hurt. Though things must have been difficult financially, she always invited folks home for dinner after church on Sunday.  And my friends always wanted to come to my house to play; not a "house" but rather a railroad flat in the middle of New York City.

My mother emigrated from a very small island off the southwest coast of Norway when she was just nineteen. She came to Brooklyn and found work as a domestic maid. The island and farm that she left behind had neither cars nor any public transportation. She learned to maneuver the public transportation system of New York to attend night school to learn English. Though she excelled, she never lost her Norwegian accent. She became a proud American citizen, but could never deny her heritage. Anyone who spoke with her recognized she was not native born. Her country was now the United States of America, but her accent and spirit was Norway!

From my mother, I learned to trust in the provision of God for his children, and even though I was a child, I realized the sufficiency of Divine Grace which carried my mother through uncertain times. When my father died, I was only one year old. World War II was just beginning. My mother was separated from her family not only by distance, but by the boundaries of war, because Norway was occupied by the Nazi regime. There was no one to help her. Yet, God's grace was available to her, and she demonstrated that in marvelous ways. I thank God always for her and for the lessons she taught me. She was an American, her accent was Norwegian, and her Spirit was "Galilee." She walked in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom she loved and served.

My resolution for 2015 was that in every uncertain moment I would ask myself the question, "WWJD?" – or "What Would Jesus Do?" I think that is also part of my mother's gift to me – a sensitivity and desire to be like Jesus.

I often think, "Am I really like Jesus?" or "Did I respond as Christ would have responded in that situation?". The truth is that the answer to that question is sometimes "No!" But Christ loves us as we are and sees us as we can become. As we learn from our mistakes and seek His forgiveness, He offers it freely to us.  And I can almost hear Him whisper, "Do better next time, Gloria."

The great reformer Martin Luther put it far better than I can. He penned the words to the famous hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." The second stanza hits the nail on the head:

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.

The term "Lord Sabaoth" is a title familiar to Luther, a Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholar. The Hebrew term means "armies" and denotes the sovereignty of Christ over everything, both spiritual and earthly.  He has the power to enable us to live like him. He wants to transform us from the inside out.

2015 is one-third over. I wonder how I am doing in my resolution to become more like Jesus, to walk in obedience like my mother did. How about you?

Written by Gloria Hohn
Asbury Park Corps

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My Brother’s Keeper

Am I my brother's keeper?

Well, that depends. In reality, just because I say I am, that doesn't mean I'm effective in the role. First, let us take a moment to consider what exactly a keeper is. My good friend Google defines a keeper as: a person who looks after something or someone. Synonyms include: guardian, steward and caretaker. So let's ask ourselves again this way:

Am I my brother's guardian?

Am I my brother's steward?

Am I my brother's caretaker?

We read in Genesis 4:8-10, "Now Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let's go out to the field.' While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I don’t know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother’s keeper?' The Lord said, 'What have you done?' …"

The arrogance of man leads us to ask God ignorant questions, practically mocking Him. Understanding God knows all, Cain retorts to God's inquiry of his brother's whereabouts with, "Am I my brother’s keeper?" No Cain, you weren't.

In Batman Begins, Batman was on a doomed train with his adversary and says, "I don't have to kill you, but I don't have to save you either." Often times, this fits our lives. We may not have killed our brothers like Cain, but have we saved them?

God asks, "What have you done?"

Again, knowing full well the actions Cain had taken, God asks him that question. Being a keeper is more than being there - it's being present. It's more than talking to someone - it's speaking into them. It's more than instructing - also correcting them. You are their phone call in the middle of the week that encourages them. You are their coach, teammate and referee. You are their keeper ,and being their keeper is doing!

What have you done?

Are you killing your brother? Are you not saving him?

With so much turmoil in the world, here in the US, in our communities and even in our homes, the world is in desperate need of keepers!

(That goes for you too sisters ;-) God bless)

Father, my prayer is simply this, help me to be a keeper. 

Written by Lt. Darell Houseton
Newark Ironbound Corps

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

National Volunteer Week

We are celebrating this week!

This year commemorates 150 years of service by The Salvation Army.  From its origins in London, England in 1865, The Salvation Army has been committed to Doing the Most Good to serve those in need.  The Salvation Army New Jersey Division continues this long tradition by seeking to assist residents throughout the state with a wide variety of programs and services.

This week is National Volunteer Week, and we are celebrating service given by our volunteers.  The Salvation Army is using this special week to publicly acknowledge and thank our many volunteers throughout the state.  At The Salvation Army in New Jersey, we not only thank our volunteers during National Volunteer Week but also throughout the year as we recognize the vital role that our volunteers play to help assist almost 200,000 New Jersey residents each year.  The kindness, dedication and commitment of our volunteers to serve needy individuals and families throughout New Jersey is very much appreciated by The Salvation Army as well as the people that are served.  If you are a Salvation Army volunteer, we genuinely thank you for all that you do, as we would not be able to fulfill our mission without your help.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome to volunteer with us! We have a wide range of volunteer opportunities available to suit all ages and skills.  We even have volunteer opportunities to suit corporate, church or school groups.  All we require of our volunteers is a desire to make a difference and a heart to serve those in need.  If you are interested in volunteering with The Salvation Army New Jersey Division, please visit www.salvationarmynj.org/volunteer to view our volunteer opportunities and apply online.

Written by Judth Anderson
Volunteer Resources Manager

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Salvation Army Celebrates its 150th Anniversary

This year marks The Salvation Army's 150th Anniversary, celebrating the second largest charity in the United States. Originating in 1865 in London, England, the organization championed the most needy and continues its services today, adapting to the needs of the communities in order to 'Do The Most Good'.

"This is a truly blessed achievement and a reflection of how essential The Salvation Army continues to be in today’s world," Donald E. Berry, Major, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army New Jersey Division. Last year, over 30 million people were served by The Salvation Army nationally, with almost 200,000 individuals served in New Jersey alone. "We serve the community without discrimination for a higher purpose, and invite community members to support us as we continue into the future."

In New Jersey, The Salvation Army has supported communities across the state for over 135 years. The New Jersey Division has 28 Corps Worship & Community Centers, which are the most basic service components of The Salvation Army, providing a variety of social and spiritual services. The New Jersey Division also has The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Newark Ironbound and Senior Center, one residential camp, three shelters and 101 active service units (comprised of approximately 700 volunteers who administer Salvation Army services where there is no Army facility).

The New Jersey Division encourages the community to participate in various 150th Anniversary festivities statewide (more details will be released in the coming months). To learn more about The Salvation Army New Jersey, to volunteer with the organization or to donate, visit SalvationArmyNJ.org. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Click the photo below to sponsor or purchase admission to our 150th Anniversary celebration on June 3rd at The Newark Club!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Bloggers Wanted!

Love to write? Are you a Salvationist in New Jersey? We're seeking new contributors to our blog. Email nj@use.salvationarmy.org for more info!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Will Spring Ever Come?

According to the calendar, spring is just three days away. The Vernal Equinox, in the northeast United States will occur at 6:45 pm on Friday, March 20, 2015. It marks the moment when the Sun crosses the celestial equator-the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's equator. This moment is called the "equinox," because night and day are nearly exactly the same length - 12 hours - all over the world. This descriptive term, from the Latin, means "equal night."

I don't know about you, but I am very ready for winter to end. Nearly any way you look at it, this winter seems to be the one of unending snow. Records have been broken, not only in the Northeast, but all over the country with  low temperatures and snow. Boston has experienced a record-setting stretch of snow. The beginning of February ended the snowiest 10-day period for that city since they began keeping records in 1891. According to the City of Boston, road crews have plowed nearly 150,000 miles, and have gone through over 52,000 tons of salt. I'm glad I live in New Jersey this winter. We have been spared the worst of it.

The old proverb says "March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb."  March roared in with all it could deliver in one day - snow, sleet and freezing rain. It makes the idea of spring in three days so very welcome.

Spring always brings the promise of hope with it. Days get longer, temperatures rise,
and the welcoming sounds of the robin tell us that the hard days of winter are over. Did you know that the male robin sings a most beautiful tune? Only the male robin sings the "true robin song." He sings it to declare his personal nesting territory. It sounds like he's singing "Cheer-up, cheer-up!" Should you be out of doors early in the morning, perhaps to pick up the local newspaper from your driveway, you will hear the robin welcome you to a new day - "Cheer up, cheer up!" he sings.

The Bible tells us, in Psalm 113, "From sunrise to sunset, let the Lord's name be praised!" (Psalm 113:3 - CEV) The Psalm continues with reasons to praise the Lord..."He is exalted among the heavens; He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of their people."

This is our God, who invites everyone, everywhere into relationship with him. As we seek him out, he meets us on the way. Through the sacrificial death of his son, Jesus Christ, he offers us pardon and new life. By his spirit, he fills us with joy and peace as we entrust our lives to him; and gives hope to overflowing.

I wonder if the robin already knows that, and so sings with such joy: "Cheer up, cheer up." If we learn to trust in God, we too, will be filled with peace and joy, and can share the good news with others: "Cheer up, cheer up, God loves you!"

Written by Gloria Hohn
Asbury Park Corps

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

He Will Flee!

In the Battle at Marathon, the Persian horde had sent their best warriors to confront the Athenian resistance. After a fierce battle, the Athenian warriors lost 192 men in the fight. The Persian army had 6,000 of their men fall! After facing defeat, they retreated. As they retreated, their rear flank was cut down, and many of their ships were captured. This retreat was pivotal in the turning of the tide and the breaking of the army.


I imagine what it would have taken to make the bravest soldiers in a mega army run away from battle. This was perhaps the first time these elite fighters ever had to. It wasn't in their nature.

Neither should it be in ours!

I was reading over two passages. The first being:

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." - James 4:7

The second:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." - Ephesians 6:10-17

It was after re-reading the first that the second had added meaning. I can remember attending a women’s self defense class (I was the punching bag), and the instructor told the women that best defense is not getting into a dangerous situation in the first place. However, if you do find yourself there, take no shame in running away from the situation if it preserves your safety. Flee from the danger. In this instance, the scripture reminds us that our best defense is submitting to one whose power can truly defend us, and it will be the ENEMY WHO HAS TO FLEE! In this case running isn't a great exercise to practice.

Now we can reread the Ephesians passage with a bolder eye. Equipment check: Belt (check), breastplate (check), foot wear (check), shield (check), weapon (check), helmet (check), and back protector…ehhh. Strangely, Paul, this Roman citizen who would have seen full officer attire, left out the back piece. The main source of torso protection was the breastplate and a second connecting piece to protect the back. Oddly enough, this complete version of the armor was mostly worn by officers - those not in the battle or on the front lines.

There is protection for us in the battle but none to cover our retreat. Perhaps we aren't a people called to retreat. Perhaps we are to resist the devil so vigorously that he flees the battle like those mighty Athenians who stood firm against the largest fighting force they had ever seen. Proverbs 28:1 says this, "The wicked run away...but the godly are as bold as lions."

Brothers and sisters, let's be as bold as lions. Stand your ground. Defend your faith. Never retreat. The battle is already won!

Written by Lt. Darell Houseton
Newark Ironbound Corps

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Can We All Get Along?

These famous words were spoken by Rodney King following his public beating by police officers and a week of rioting in Los Angeles. Many times, I ask it myself in relation to our society and the church. It appears that the early church also asked itself this question. In James 3:13-18 (MSG), the writer of this books states it this way:

"Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."

Three things jump out at me and challenge me in this scripture. "It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts." The old adage of actions speak louder than words echoes in this verse. I often think more highly of myself in my head than how I live. The reminder here is to guard against that type of thinking. What does a holy life look like? It is "characterized by getting along with others." It can be difficult at times because other people can be difficult, and so can I. Finally, we are reminded that healthy community is a result occurs "...only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other..."

We need to treat others with respect and common decency. It is hard work, but it is how we are told we should act. Let's reflect God’s wisdom and not our own, and I think we can answer the Mr. King's question with, "It is possible."

Written by Chip Kelly
Territorial Lay Leader
Development Bureau Director