Feature Story, November 2018

Ruth Addison’s Total Woman Boutique is a Family Affair

Beauty Inside and Out

Ruth Addison Helps Women Reclaim Their Feminine Side

Granddaughter Amy Pinell leads a monthly workshop for customers. At the October Look Good, Feel Better class, Amy demonstrates scarf-typing techniques and offers makeup tips. She loves her work, she says, because it gives women confidence in their femininity again.
Granddaughter Amy Pinell leads a monthly workshop for customers. At the October Look Good, Feel Better class, Amy demonstrates scarf-typing techniques and offers makeup tips. She loves her work, she says, because it gives women confidence in their femininity again.
Granddaughter Amy Pinell, right, leads a monthly workshop for customers. At the October Look Good, Feel Better class, Amy demonstrates scarf-tying techniques and offers makeup tips. She loves her work, she says, because it gives women confidence in their femininity agin.

Over the years, Ruth Addison has held a lot of hands and wiped away a lot of tears. As owner of Total Woman Boutique, she has devoted her professional and personal life to helping women recover from breast cancer. She understands the fear, pain, loss and and frustration that women experience after a mastectomy or chemotherapy treatments.

“I care about my customers,” Addison said. “I care about the way they feel and what they are going through.”

Anyone who survives cancer is happy to be alive, but for women who have lost their hair, or one or both breasts, the transition is harder. Their experience affects their womanhood and many say they don’t feel “whole.” It was this sentiment that led Addison to name her store “Total Woman.”

Addison, now 80, says that as a young woman, she wanted to be a nurse. Unfortunately, after saving her money and getting accepted to nursing school, she got sick and had to drop out. “I guess God had other plans for me,” she said. “I ended up working for an orthotics company, fitting people with prosthetics and artificial limbs. I actually loved it. I realized it was just another form of nursing.”

After 14 years, Addison decided to open her own business and focus on women who had undergone mastectomies. “It was 1982 and no one else in Baton Rouge was selling what we called ‘breast forms’ at that time. I wanted to create a bright, cheery atmosphere because I knew how hard it was for a lot of women to come to a store like mine.”

Addison started her business on a shoestring, she says, but got a lot of help from Dr. Robert Elliott, a breast surgeon who referred many of his patients to her. “I couldn’t have succeeded without his help,” she said. “I had never managed anything but a household, but I was determined. And one thing about me … when I set my mind to something, I’m going to accomplish it. It has been a struggle at times, but always a passion. That makes the struggle a lot easier.”

There were times when Addison didn’t think she’d make it. “So many times, I’d say, ‘God, I need your help!’ and somehow, my prayers were always answered, the problem was always solved, God always came through.”

Insurance was a big concern in the early days, Addison said. At one time, one of the biggest insurers in our state would only provide coverage for one bra a year. “One bra!” Addison said. “So I went to their corporate office and complained. And it was all men there. And I said, ‘How would you gentlemen like to get only one pair of underwear a year?’ They didn’t know what to think! Well, it didn’t happen that day, but within a few months, the coverage was doubled to 2 bras a year, and now, women can get insurance coverage for 6 bras a year. I’ve had to jump through hoops sometimes to get reimbursed, but I know how much it means to my customers.”

Eventually, Addison’s daughter Sherri Spillman joined her in the business, and in time, became general manager. She also keeps up with new inventory, insurance changes, credentialing and other issues. “I’ve been here for 30 years now,” Spillman said. “I certainly didn’t ever think I’d go into any kind of retail. I was never a good salesman. As a kid, I couldn’t sell a bar of World’s Finest chocolate! But this is different. We’re helping women at a difficult time in their lives, so it’s a very rewarding job.

Sherri’s daughter Amy Pinell also works at Total Woman. She is a cosmetologist talented in makeup and hair (wig) styling. “Amy was just 3 weeks old when I started working here,” Spillman said. “When she was a very little girl, she helped a customer choose a pair of earrings and the woman gave her a tip. She was so excited. I think we knew then that Amy would also be part of Total Woman someday.”

Whereas the store once focused on prosthetics and bras, Total Woman Boutique now sells a wide variety of items, including swimwear, foundation garments, hats, turbans, jewelry, lotions and more. Many breast cancer survivors develop a condition called lymphedema and must wear compression sleeves. When Addison started carrying the sleeves, she decided to add compression stockings to her inventory, creating a male clientele for Total Woman. “Most of the men buy compression stockings for blood clots, vein problems and poor circulation,” she said.

What makes her shop different from others is the experience and knowledge Addison brings to her work. She is a certified and licensed mastectomy fitter since 1960, and the shop is accredited through the American Board of Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics. Customers benefit from those credentials.

“All of our customers receive very special attention,” Addison said. “We even have a seamstress on staff. When a customer walks out of here, they leave with top-quality products that are customized for them — items that fit correctly for size, shape and comfort.”
Not surprisingly, Addison builds relationships with her customers, often when they are most vulnerable. “When I fit a customer for a new prosthetic and bra, I have her face me with her back to the full-length mirror in the fitting room. After I’m finished, I let her turn around and look at herself. For a lot of women, it’s the first time they’ve seen their body look normal again since before their cancer. I can’t describe how grateful they are and what a smile it brings to their faces. It’s that moment that always brings me joy.”

Addison says she isn’t planning to retire any time soon. She continues to work six days a week and she stays current on news and information relevant to her industry. She has won many awards during her career, including two just last year — a lifetime achievement award from Women’s Wellness Magazine, and another from the American Academy of Breast Cancer Professionals. Addison also works closely with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Society of Greater Baton Rouge, local breast cancer support groups and local hospitals.

Her work developed into a ministry of sorts in 2001, when she went to Cuba and did fittings for 400 women. In 2012, a church friend asked Addison to go with her to Colombia and do some fittings for women there. That trip was unforgettable, Addison said, but it became especially important to her daughter — Spillman eventually joined the team of Baltimore physician Armando Sardi, who makes the trip twice a year.

“I’m so fortunate to have my daughter and my granddaughter with me,” Addison said. “We all love what we do. You can’t help but enjoy it when you can make someone feel good about themselves, when you can help a woman feel truly beautiful inside and out. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Total Woman Boutique is located at 9244 Florida Blvd., Suite C. For more information, call (225) 924-4531.

Sherri Spillman, right, has worked with her mother for 30 years and is general manager of the shop. A trip to Colombia in 2012 to help breast cancer survivors has become a ministry for Spillman, who has joined the team of Baltimore physician Armando Sardi.
Granddaughter Amy Pinell leads a monthly workshop for customers. At the October Look Good, Feel Better class, Amy demonstrates scarf-typing techniques and offers makeup tips. She loves her work, she says, because it gives women confidence in their femininity again.
In the fitting room, customers often leave inspirational notes for other women.
Ruth Addison has won many awards over the years, including these two in just the past year
November 2018, Publisher's Letter

Our Last Print Edition, Final Publishers Letter

We have been so thrilled to get to serve our community for 43 amazing editions of Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. Our goal to change the world, one story at a time has been successful and effective.

It’s been my personal pleasure to have the opportunity to share many stories of everyday people who have stepped into God’s call for their life and found God to be Faithful and True. Some of these stories have changed my life, so I know they’ve changed others, perhaps even yours.

There is nothing more powerful than sharing what God has done in your life. Sharing your own experience of the Living Christ with others is the most powerful opportunity God’s people have to spread the gospel effectively in today’s sound-bite society. While many in the world today may shun the validity of the Bible, it’s difficult to debate what God has done in your life.

What if a hurting person heard someone boldly testify of God’s goodness: “Because of the love of God, my marriage made it through a tough season.” Or, “When I prayed to the Lord Jesus in a moment of despair, I was able to begin my road to recovery from addiction.” So many need to hear this. “Because of the cross, I’ve been totally forgiven of…..adultery, abortion, promiscuity, lying, cheating, gossip, jealousy, the list goes on.” Or another big one: “God has given me a new identity and a sense of purpose.” One of my favorites is: “I was lost, and now I’m found. Jesus met me at my lowest point in my life and accepted me at my lowest.”

The world is hungry for authentic faith and a road map to fulfillment. Many are hurting and even more feel isolated and lonely. Because of this, many great people are wondering how to change the world via some vibrant ministry or large platform that offers significant opportunity. While that is a great goal, it’s in the everyday that we can have the most notable impact.

The real opportunity is right in front of us! So close we’ve missed it more times than we can count! Too often, we believe the continual cycle of bad news and too quickly fall prey to believing there is nothing you or I can do.

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) says it best: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” In whom is your hope? In this world that shuns God altogether? In our government? In material possessions? If so, you have already been disappointed.

Believing in Jesus makes your life better, and He makes you better at life. His earthly plan was to offer all we needed to have a right relationship with our Father and Creator. God sent his Son Jesus to save our souls and offer eternal life. He fills us with His life, His Holy Spirit, so that we don’t have to wonder what to do next. We just ask, listen patiently, and then let Him lead.

It sounds so simple because it is! Jesus modeled a clearly communicated plan of salvation and way of life. The Bible is God’s love letter to help instruct us to a better way of life. Yet in our culture we have invited chaos and confusion by allowing so much hatred and division when the Bible clearly calls us to unity in Christ.

Coming together is the way to build a strong foundation that lasts. First at home, then in our churches and communities. That is clear in Mark 3:25 (NIV) “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” No wonder so many families are falling apart. We start by being one with the One and then one with others.

Thank you for reading! We will continue to publish online and will keep our social media sites active and updated. As we shift the way we reach the world one story at a time, stay tuned!

Faith Life, November 2018

Astronaut Visits Baton Rouge, Finds Truth in Space

MOON Walker finds truth in space

By Rachele Smith

NASA released this official portrait of Charles ‘Charlie’ Duke in advance of the scheduled Apollo 16 Flight on April 16, 1972. — Photo courtesy of NASA’s Apollo Image Gallery
At a breakfast meeting, Duke shares his experiences on the Apollo 16 space mission and how those experiences led him to a more personal relationship with Christ.

Only 24 men have seen it. And retired astronaut Charlie Duke is one of them.

At 83, Duke is still the youngest man ever to walk on the surface of the moon. He said his time in deep space showed him God’s Word “is the truth.”

“Isaiah (40:22) says God ‘sits enthroned above the circle of the Earth.’ Well, I saw that circle above the Earth. I didn’t see God, but with these eyes of mine, I saw that circle, and there’s 24 others (astronauts) who, with their own eyes, have seen that circle, too,” he said.

Duke shared his personal testimony as well as his memories aboard NASA’s Apollo 16 space mission during a breakfast gathering of more than 300 men in Baton Rouge. The group, which included men from all walks of life, as well as a number of father/son duos, was up early for a meeting of Connections, a local ministry for men. Founded by Clayton Hayes, Connections strives to help churches, families and the community by strengthening the relationship between men and the Lord.

Duke’s first-hand account of what he saw in space was powerful. “The Bible speaks the truth, not only about the nature of God and the love of God and the person of Jesus Christ, but also about the physical universe in which we live,” Duke said.

Narrating a silent DVD of personal and official NASA photos, Duke described the sense of awe he and his colleagues, Commander John Young and Command Module Pilot Thomas Mattingly felt as they rocketed their Apollo 16 spacecraft to the moon on April 16, 1972. As they orbited in space, some 20,000 miles away from home, Duke said the Earth floated into view.

“It just hung there. In the Book of Job (26:7), we hear ‘God suspended the Earth upon nothing.’ That’s what it was. It was suspended and hanging on nothing,” he said, adding that many people have seen pictures astronauts have taken of the Earth from space. “The pictures just don’t do it justice.”

“You look out the window, and you don’t see any stars. You see the Earth, the moon and the sun. Those are the three objects you see out in deep space. It’s just awesome,” he said, emphasizing, “Scripture talks about the heavens proclaiming the glory of God, and there it is.”

As Duke made connections between the Bible and outer space, he also admitted to his audience that back then, when he graduated from the Naval Academy, joined the Air Force as a test pilot, and was selected as an astronaut, he wasn’t much of a Christian. Yes, when he married and became a father, he and his family attended church every Sunday, but their lives were different behind closed doors.

Duke retired from NASA in the mid-70s and was frustrated with his new career in the private sector. Plus, he was having a difficult time at home. “My wife and I were heading for a divorce,” he said.

But around this time, his wife gave her life to Christ, and slowly Duke began to change, too. In 1978, he and his wife accepted an invitation to attend a weekend retreat. Duke admitted he really wasn’t interested in going at first, but when the event ended, he kept focusing on certain Bible verses, like John 3:16. He then began to realize that either those verses were true, or they were “the biggest lie ever perpetuated on humanity, and I get to decide.”

Suddenly, the truth became clear.

“Sitting in my automobile, I looked over at Dotty, and I said, ‘Dotty, there’s no doubt in my heart that Jesus Christ is the son of God,’ and I said, ‘Lord, I give you my life,’ and I experienced the peace of God for the very first time in my life,” he said.

As God’s peace fell over him, Duke said there were no blinding lights, booming voices or angelic hosts descending from heaven. “But I knew that I made the right decision, and I knew that my life was going to change from that moment on,” Duke said.

And it did.

First, Duke began to experience an insatiable desire to read the Bible, and little by little, God’s Word changed him. He became a better husband as he worked to love his wife in the way Jesus loves the church, and he became a better father by recognizing he had to stop what he called his “explosive” temper around his two boys.

In addition to making a difference in his family, which now includes nine grandchildren, Duke also recognized a need to place God above money. It’s a practice he still preaches, and one found in the creation of Duke Ministry for Christ, a nonprofit he and his wife founded to help spread the love of Jesus.

In 1990, the Dukes published Moonwalker, a biography of sorts, which explains Duke’s 11-day space mission as well as his testimony.

Duke and his Dotty, who live in New Braunfels, Texas, enjoy traveling and speaking to groups all over the world. Even though he has accomplished many incredible feats, including serving as Apollo 11’s Capcom or the voice that first answered Neil Armstrong during the first moon landing, Duke said sharing his faith story is the most important thing he can do.

“I have shared my story standing on pool tables, in bars, any place that people will come out. Some people won’t come to churches, but they’ll come out for pizza and beer,” he said, adding that he feels he is doing exactly what God wants him to do.

“Through prophetic words, God told me, ‘I’ve had my hand on you ever since you were born. I have guided your steps. You didn’t realize it. My plan for you was always to land on the moon, then use that platform to go out and touch the world,’” Duke said, explaining that his message is simple, “God loves you.”

Duke collects lunar samples at the Descartes landing site of the moon. The parked lunar vehicle can be seen in the background. Photo courtesy of NASA’s Apollo Image Gallery
A view of Earth as photographed from Apollo 16, the nation’s fifth moon landing mission. — Photo courtesy of NASA’s Apollo Image Gallery
Duke snapped this photo because he wanted to show his young sons that he really did leave their family photo on the surface of the moon. — Photo courtesy of NASA Apollo Image Gallery.
Faith Life, November 2018

Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life with Coach Dale Brown

(Dale Brown was the men’s head basketball coach at Louisiana State University from 1972 to 1997. During his 25 years at LSU, the Tigers won 448 games, appeared in 13 NCAA Tournaments, and earned Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1986.)

Getting Over the Four Hurdles of Life with Coach Dale Brown

By Dale Brown

Finding Happiness and Success By Coach Dale Brown

 (In the October issue of Christian Life Magazine, Dale Brown, former LSU men’s basketball coach, shared his thoughts on family and faith. In this issue, he offers advice for those who strive to find happiness and success in their lives.) 

Athletics gave me my first good self-image. I had a terrible inferiority complex, coming from a home with no father and surviving on welfare. Athletics helped me begin to see myself in a different light, as a person who is more than the circumstances into which I was born. From athletics, I also learned what true discipline meant. I learned teamwork. I learned respect for others. All these lessons gave me the opportunity to obtain a scholarship to go to college and get an education for which I am eternally grateful. 

Athletics also allowed me to meet the man whom many consider the greatest coach ever to have lived and the finest man I’ve ever met, former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden. Coach Wooden taught me the truth about success. He said, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort in becoming the best that you are capable of becoming.” 

Of all the things I’ve learned in my life, this is one lesson I truly strived to teach the athletes I coached to help them prepare not only for sports but also for life beyond sports. 

The hurdles to happiness I used to share with our athletes my belief that we live in a world of paradoxes and that these paradoxes create many of the problems we encounter. To build a life that is meaningful and fulfilling, we must see that so much of our life can be consumed with things that are not critical for our happiness. Getting rich or being famous has displaced the development of a meaningful philosophy of life and the more we are connected to the illusion of success, the greater will be our disconnection from finding true happiness. 

So what can we do? To find happiness and success, we all must learn to jump over the four hurdles of life. These are things we can’t con, cheat, barter, buy, or lie our way over. Instead, we have to meet them head on. All of us can get over these hurdles if we have commitment and the discipline to do it. Commitment and discipline are the spinal cord of true success. Until one is committed, there is hesitation. When our focus changes, our life will change.

It’s difficult to get over these four hurdles, because there are so many temptations that might distract us — the temptation to take the shortcut, to cheat, to manipulate, to maneuver, to not work hard. But when we face and overcome these four hurdles, we can achieve true success and find happiness.

Hurdle One: “I Can’t”

We don’t even scratch the surface of our greatness. Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can do with commitment and perseverance. If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would astonish ourselves. It is easier, however, to make excuses about why we can’t do something or to blame others for making our success impossible. Once you blame others, you’ve given up the power to change. It’s easier to say, “I can’t,” so we have to learn to overcome that.

When we stop making excuses or looking to place blame, we can achieve amazing things. For example, Walt Disney was advised to pursue another line of work because he’d never be a successful cartoonist or movie producer. Albert Einstein’s teacher told him he was not smart enough to pursue an education and should drop out of school. And then there is a young man I coached, Shaquille O’Neal. He told me once at our summer basketball camp, “People always used to tell me, ‘You’re not going to be anything.’ But I never gave up.” He was cut from his high school basketball team. His coach told him he was too slow, too clumsy, his feet were too big, and he would never be a successful basketball player … so maybe he should try to be a soccer goalie.

Disney, O’Neal and countless others had a belief system that they could do it. They were able to overcome hurdle number one and go on to do spectacular things. A poem written years ago tells it like it is:

If you think you are beaten, you are

If you think you dare not, you don’t

If you like to win, but think you can’t It is almost certain you won’t

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost

For out in the world we find

Success begins with a fellow’s will

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are

You’ve got to think high to rise

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man But sooner or later, the man who wins Is the man who thinks he can — (C.W. Longenecker)

Hurdle Two: Overcoming Failure

The second hurdle we have to overcome is failure. Success often is built on multiple failures. Until we learn to derive lessons from our failures, we’ll keep repeating those failures and keep digging ourselves into a deeper hole. The secret to success is in rising every time you fall and in never giving up. My dear friend Bob Richards told me years ago that your FQ (failure quotient) is more important than you IQ.

History provides us with numerous examples of highly successful people who confronted many, and major, failures but who still made their dreams come true. Failure’s only a detour and an opportunity to begin again. The most successful people I know, in almost every profession, have not been afraid to fail. When they have fallen down, they get back up. Adversity only visits the strong, but stays forever with the weak.

In July 1954, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a wonderful speech called “What Is Man?” He said, “We know that man is made for the stars, created for the everlasting, and born for eternity. We know that man’s crowned with glory and honor. But so long as he lives on the low level, he’ll be frustrated, disillusioned, and bewildered.”

Failure must not shackle us. Henry David Thoreau hit the nail on the head when he said, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” So we’ve got to quit worrying about our mistakes. It doesn’t do any good. We’ve got to replace worry with positive action. We shouldn’t be afraid. We can do it if we fully commit ourselves.

Every day we walk this earth, our courage will be tested in some way. But if we approach life one day at a time, we won’t break down. There are two days we shouldn’t worry about — yesterday and tomorrow. When we live in those two eternities, we lose what is today and will not be ready to face the challenges it brings.

Never lose faith in yourself. Faith can calm the stormy seas of our lives and the boldness of faith is so powerful that nothing can stop it.

Hurdle Three: Handicaps

Quite simply, a handicap is a disadvantage that makes achievement difficult. We all have handicaps of some sort, whether we recognize them or not. To succeed, we have to confront our handicaps and overcome them. You can learn a great deal about yourself when you are staring your handicap in the eye. You have the choice to respond by accepting your handicap as final and then giving up, or by accepting your handicap as another challenge to overcome and then fighting to achieve in spite of it.

Paul Anderson was diagnosed with Bright’s disease at the age of five. Bright’s disease affects the kidneys and causes lifelong health issues. It can be fatal in some cases. Paul refused to accept the limitations of his condition. He worked every day to build himself up and become as strong as he could. He began to weight-lift competitively and went on to win the U.S. National Amateur Athletic Union Weightlifting Championship and the gold medal in the super heavyweight division in the 1956 summer Olympics. He also broke nine weightlifting world records. He was commonly called “the strongest man in the world.”

When I was a high school coach in North Dakota, I read that Paul was going to appear at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) camp in Estes Park, Colorado. I said, “I’m driving there. I’ve got to see this world record holder. I’ve got to see this unbelievable human being.” I wanted to know what made him do it and how he did it.

I drove to Estes Park and sat in the front row anxiously awaiting to hear his secret to success. He walked onto the stage, not saying a word. Onstage were two sawhorses and a two-by-four board lying across them. Paul stepped back, took a ten-penny nail from a nearby podium, took a handkerchief, which he held in his hand, stepped back, and with one thrust of his hand, drove the nail right through the two-by-four. Then he looked at the audience and said, “Good morning, everybody. My name is Paul Anderson. I am the strongest man in the history of the world and I cannot live one day without God.”

I learned that day that I can’t live one day without God either. Powerful and strong though we think we are, when we learn this wonderful lesson, as Paul did, we can overcome any handicap.

Hurdle Four: Knowing Yourself

The fourth and final hurdle is the struggle to know yourself. This is the hardest one for us all. Who am I? Where am I going? What do I want from life? George Bernard Shaw said, “People are one of three things: what they think they are, what others think they are, and what they really are.” When we really know ourselves, we begin to develop. Real confidence comes from knowing and accepting ourselves, knowing our strengths and limitations, as opposed to depending upon affirmation from others. The beginning of wisdom is being honest with ourselves.

The most noble and perfect victory is the triumph over one’s self. Muhammad Ali, maybe the greatest boxer of all time, commented that he had achieved complete success by the world’s standards, but that success had not brought him true happiness. He concluded that the only sure way for people to be happy was to be honest with themselves and give their lives to God.

“Pistol Pete” Maravich, whom I consider the greatest college basketball player ever, averaged 44 points a game. He had everything in the world, but he said all of it — the money, fame, and other things — left him empty. Only when he totally submitted and gave his life to God did he find true success and happiness. For these men, and for us as well, knowing ourselves means recognizing our dependence on God. Knowing ourselves means being able to say with confidence, “I can, and I deserve to, find happiness and success because I’m made in the image of God. So under no circumstances will I ever lose hope or give up, no matter what my failures are.”

Only the truth about yourself can set you free and relieve you of self-doubt. Peter Wimbrow’s wonderful piece, The Man in the Glass is great food for thought for all of us.

When you get what you want in your struggle for self

And the world makes you king for a day

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife

Whose judgment upon you must pass

The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the one staring back from the glass.

You may be like Jack Homer and chisel a plum

And think you’re a wonderful guy

But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum

If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest

For he’s with you clear to the end

And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years

And get pats on the back as you pass

But your final reward will be heartache and tears

If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

In the October issue of Christian Life Magazine, Dale Brown, former LSU men’s basketball coach, shared his thoughts on family and faith. In this issue, he offers advice for those who strive to find happiness and success in their lives.)

 You can order “Getting Over  the Four Hurdles of Life” at www.acadianhouse.com. or reach out to Dale Brown at www.coachdalebrown.com 

Millennial Life, November 2018

Millennial Life, Thankfulness


Jessica LeBlanc

For many, November is the month selected to celebrate all of the wonderful things we’re thankful for in our lives. Our senses seem to be heightened to the tiny and big blessings that permeate our daily routines. But I want to challenge you to not wait for November to come around every year before you’re conscious of the daily benefits God gives you (Psalm 68:19).

There’s something about being grateful and thankful that has the power to change any situation you’re facing — or at least your outlook on it. As I write this article, I’m reminded of several times when I was facing some major challenges or had just experienced a big disappointment, and God put a praise in my heart at those very moments. Immediately, I began to thank God for His mercy and goodness. Being thankful is an act of worship.

I remember one particular situation where I had just had an emotional beat-down and I was just exhausted. The Holy Spirit whispered in my heart to start praising God. The situation didn’t change, but within minutes, as I continued my praise of the Father, I changed. My heart got lighter because the burden of my anxiety was lifted as God replaced it with His. As he promised us in the book of Matthew, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Often, unpleasant and unwelcome thoughts of the past threaten our state of mind. And you may not feel like praising or saying how thankful you are for the things you have. But this is precisely the moment that we must press on and declare our thankfulness to God. I believe God honors our faithfulness, particularly when it’s hard to be faithful and when we physically just don’t feel like doing the right thing.

Also, we must remember that there is always something to be grateful and thankful for. If you’re reading this article right now, you can see! If you heard your alarm go off this morning, you can hear! If you got out of bed this morning, you have movement in your body! And even if you don’t have any of those things, you’re still here.God has a purpose for you and that by itself is something beautiful to be thankful for.

In Psalm 100:4, the Bible says to enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”We should always have an attitude of prayer and thankfulness. The most blessed gift any of us can ever receive is the gift of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins. It would be the worst tragedy to leave this world accepting every other gift but that one.

I’d like to challenge you to something for the entire month of November. It’s called the Thankfulness Challenge. Start your day by writing down five things you’re thankful for. Even if you find yourself thinking about it for a moment, keep thinking! I promise you will never run out of things to thank God for. Regardless of what you’re facing right now, as you turn your eyes upon Jesus, your problems will become smaller and smaller — and worship will become bigger and bigger.

LANG, November 2018

I Can Do All Things, A Ministry for the Disabled

I can do all things….

A ministry for the disabled

Warren Coupel smiles as a young boy shows off his bow shooting certificate after an event.

Coupel says his ministry relies on the time and talents of his wonderful staff and volunteers.

 Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

They say everyone has a cross to bear. Warren Coupel was given his at age 30, and though it took a while to accept it, he now believes his illness has made him a better man.

Coupel had a normal childhood. After high school, he worked in construction and in the petrochemical industry. His physical health was fine until age 30 when he learned he was in the early stages of muscular dystrophy. Not long after the diagnosis, he needed a cane to help him walk, and by age 33, he was confined to a wheelchair.

“I had a lot of anger in my heart,” he said. “I was angry with God. I used to pray over my legs and wish that I could walk again. One day, in prayer, God said, ‘Stop worrying about ‘form’ and start doing the work I sent you to do.’ At that moment, I quit struggling. The fight was gone and I accepted my situation.”

Coupel now believes that God used his illness as a tool to reach people he otherwise would not have been able to reach. “Now I share my story, my testimony, my faith … with other people. It was a revelation coming to this wheelchair, it has changed me for the better. I’m a better husband, father, son … a better man.”

For a few years, Coupel was involved with another faith-based organization that creates outdoor adventures for those with disabilities. He volunteered at first, then became a leader, and eventually was named a vice president. “It was a great experience,” he said, “but it was based near Lake Charles and I wanted to be able to offer something similar here in Baton Rouge.”

After a lot of prayer and discussion about starting a new ministry, Coupel and the leadership team that is in place today, came across a Bible verse that spoke to their hearts — Philippians 4:13  — I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

4:13 Outdoors was born, and today, Coupel and a staff of 15 organize hunting and fishing trips, campouts, sporting events, bow-hunting activities and more for disabled children and veterans. “I came to realize that everyone has a disability,” he said. “For some people, it’s physical. For others, it’s as simple as being scared of the dark. That’s bondage, too. We serve the disabled, but that label has come to include children who are at-risk … so we also help those struggling in school, those who have been bullied, and those who have lost a parent.”

Most of the people he helps are referred through local schools and churches. Many are nominated online through the 4:13 Outdoors website. “A lot of people will not come out and ask for help, but if help is offered to them, they are grateful and will accept it,” he added.

Outdoor adventures are just one component of the 413 Outdoors ministry. “We support a lot of organizations in the community,” Coupel said. “We co-sponsor events and raise funds for groups like the American Cancer Society, Bayou Autism Chapter, Dreams Come True Foundation, and others. Wherever the need arises, we want to be there to help. We have done disaster relief related to the 2016 flood, and  in Assumption Parish, we served 8,000 meals in one week to help people who were affected by a tornado.”

“During our events and our trips, we use the time to minister to others and tell our own stories of what God has done in our lives,” Coupel said. “It’s how we connect and become part of the same family.”

 Coupel finds therapeutic value in the work he does. “I do it because of the smiles on the kids’ faces,” he said. “I understand that wheelchair they are sitting in and that little body that doesn’t work. I had my childhood so I’m fortunate. Some of these kids are thrilled just to be outside their house — to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. That’s a blessing for me to be able to do that for them.”

In the grand scheme of life, a lot of things are clearer now, Coupel says. “We have to love each other no matter what. Our differences — skin color, mental, physical, religious … these are boundaries that need to be broken down. We need to love everyone the way Christ loved the church. Once you’re out there doing work like this, you see everyone’s the same!Your heart is softened … you begin to understand things at a different level.”

Coupel says his life was not only changed, but saved, when he accepted Christ. But he doesn’t judge others who choose a different path.

“I know that some people never get past their anger. Not everyone comes to terms with their situation and gives their life to God. But it’s our prayer that everyone would. Once I realized that God doesn’t want any of us to suffer, I was able to let it all go. I know in my heart I am doing his calling … and that brings me happiness.”

For more information, call Coupel at (985) 992-0856 or email him at warren413@yahoo.com. You can also visit 413outdoors.org, where there are forms to fill out if you would like to donate, become a sponsor, or nominate someone to be helped by 413 Outdoor Ministry. The Facebook page is 4:13 Outdoors Ministry.

Coupel says his ministry relies on the time and talents of a wonderful staff and volunteers.
Children pose with pest bunnies during a 413 Outdoors event.

BRCLM Lagniappe, November 2018

Center Helps Pregnant Women in Crisis

Center Helps Women in Crisis

Ultrasound skills lead to loving ministry

Volunteer ultrasound technicians at the Pregnancy Problem Center demonstrate how to use the center’s donated ultrasound machine. Pictured from left are Shana Copeland, Bri Shilling, and Jean Phillips. Photo provided by Frances Broussard.

By Rachele Smith

For Jean Phillips, it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

That’s why the ultrasound technician decided to help a group committed to life, even if it meant making some sacrifices of her own.

In 2016, Phillips was asked to lend her expertise in medical sonography to Baton Rouge’s Pregnancy Problem Center, a nonprofit organization that encourages life choices in unplanned crisis pregnancies. The center had just received an ultrasound machine as a gift from the Knights of Columbus and needed an experienced technician to run it.

“Dr. Wayne Gravois was on the board of the center and contacted me. He knew I had experience (in sonography),” said Phillips.

But what Gravois didn’t know was that Phillips would have such a strong belief in the use of ultrasound that she would not only volunteer, but also willingly reduce her work hours and pay in order to help. “I’ve always been pro-life and believed that God formed us within the womb,” she said. “When I began doing ultrasound, it just confirmed everything I knew about the beginning of life.”

With 30 years of experience in the field, Phillips has seen first-hand the difference an ultrasound makes in the way some women view their unborn child. “It’s the heartbeat,” she said. “Once they see the heartbeat, they know it’s a real baby. Some women have changed their minds about having an abortion after that.”

Eventually, more technicians were needed at the center, but they weren’t easy to find. So Phillips, who attends Bethany Prayer Center South, began to pray. Today, those prayers are answered with four volunteer ultrasound technicians at the center.

Bri Schilling is one of them.

“I was raised Catholic and have always been pro-life,” she said. “I thought if I could make a difference and change someone’s mind against abortion, I would want to do that.”

Schilling, who will finish her maternity leave in late October, said she enjoys volunteering at the clinic. She has found that by helping other people, she receives more in return.

Thuyloan Pham, another ultrasound technician at the clinic feels the same. “Helping the women brings me joy,” she said, adding that she is pro-life and supports adoption.

“Our technicians have been a true blessing to us,” said Frances Broussard, executive director of the Family Life Federation/Pregnancy Problem Center. “Having this ultrasound and being able to offer it free to the women who need us is important.”

The center’s ultrasound services are not diagnostic and are used only as a way to show the baby’s growth and heartbeat to the mom-to-be. Established in 1975 following the Roe vs. Wade decision, the center offers alternatives to abortion, including referrals to medical and community resources.

“Sometimes the women who come to us don’t know where to start, but we can help them,” Broussard said.

One unique aspect of the center is “baby bucks” which new moms and dads can earn while attending educational classes on topics ranging from pregnancy to parenting. These “dollars” are then spent at the center’s “Mom and Me” store for new or gently-used items such as diapers or clothes.

Broussard said the center has to rely on donations for its store, but God always provides.

“There have been times when we are really low on one item, like diapers, then all of a sudden, we will have these individuals or a church group walk in here with lots of diapers. It’s amazing, but I really believe the Blessed Mother is watching out for us and for the babies,” she said.

If you would like to make a donation, call the Pregnancy Problem Center at (225) 924-1400.

Learning For Life, November 2018

Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

The holidays are supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation, a time to reconnect with family and friends, a time to recharge spiritually and emotionally. But so often, we lose sight of the true meaning of the season because we are overwhelmed by it all.

Traveling, cooking, shopping, decorating … these things are impossible to enjoy if they are causing us stress and anxiety. Here are some tips to help you focus on what’s important and catch a little bit of that elusive holiday spirit instead of that holiday letdown.

Don’t over-commit:From family get-togethers to school parties to neighborhood celebrations, you probably have more social obligations that usual. Don’t offer to bake cookies for 40 if you really don’t have time. Do what you can (within your comfort zone) to help others, but it’s also okay to nicely say “no.”

Set a budget and stick to it:Shopping can be extremely exhausting, especially when you’re adding teachers and co-workers to the list. And there’s nothing worse than thinking you’re finished only to keep adding more names to the list. You know your budget. Don’t break the bank just to make everyone happy. Beyond family and close friends, consider simple gifts that aren’t too expensive: a Christmas ornament, home-baked goodies or a special framed photograph.

Practice healthy eating habits:Try not to overindulge on food or alcohol. Treat yourself, of course, but be choosy about what you eat at parties and social events.

Exercise:If you have a fitness plan, it will probably be hard to stick to it during the holidays, but at the very least, take a walk around the block each day to clear your head and get a little fresh air and exercise.

Don’t isolate yourself:For those who have lost loved ones, the holidays often bring up painful memories. Don’t turn down invitations from family and friends — it’s better to be with people when you’re having a difficult time getting through the holidays. And if you don’t have family or friends nearby, volunteer with a church or charitable organization to do something good for others.