10 months ago

The Loss of a Son Birthed an Adoption and a Ministry

Wes and Britani Falls with sons Will, John, and Jake (Courtesy of Amber Lee Photography)

Using Your Pain

“Have you ever been in a place to where you would do anything if you could just change the situation you are in?” That’s how Britani Falls described watching her young son suffer from a debilitating illness. After a three-year rollercoaster of emotions filled with many trials and a few triumphs, Jake eventually passed over into eternity. Despite all the pain, Britani put her full trust in God, which in turn has fostered a ministry for helping others and a desire to adopt a special needs child.

Wes and Britani Falls were living life as an average family of four after the birth of their second son, Jake. Everything took a turn for the unexpected when he was only ten weeks old. He started having grand mal seizures, and Britani recalls that he would hold his breath until he turned blue, stiffen his whole body, and jerk uncontrollably. Sadly, this was just the first of thousands of seizures Jake would endure throughout his young life.

A happy baby Jake (Courtesy of Amber Lee Photography)

Just a few weeks after his first birthday, Jake started having uncontrollable seizures on a daily basis. What had been a smiling, happy, playful child on his first birthday was now an almost comatose, lifeless shell of a child. Jake had lost all ability to move, swallow, see, and make sounds. He suffered from seizures day and night, as Wes and Britani sought out the best doctors and medicines to try and ease his pain.

At 18 months old, Jake was finally given a diagnosis. He had an extremely rare genetic disorder called SCN8A. There was no cure and no treatment for this condition, and only 90 cases had been documented in the world at that time. There are 160 known cases today, and the Falls hope for medical advances so that other families dealing with SCN8A will have more information and treatment options made available.

Jake starting to smile again

Britani remembers pleading with God to heal her child and to give him back his ability to communicate with them. “I longed for my son to tell me he loved me and let me know that he knew I was his mommy and that I loved him more than anyone else in the world.” Then, in December 2015, their family received a Christmas miracle. After 15 months of no movement, Jake began to move his arms and legs. Over the next eight months, he would also start to make sounds and even smile again.

Every movement or sound was a small miracle. Britani said that everyday actions or even annoyances became something to celebrate. “Normally, when a baby cries, it can be annoying . . . but you can’t imagine what it feels like to never hear that cry again—to never hear your child make a sound, to never respond to you or your voice, never respond to pain or stimuli.”

Sadly, after months of progress, Jake began to have crying spells—no doubt a signal to his parents that something was wrong. He also dealt with bouts of common respiratory illnesses due to his fragile lungs. He was fussy, and Britani’s intuition let her know something other than his breathing was the problem. After working with Jake’s neurologist to try and find the cause of his pain, Britani decided to admit him into the hospital.

She studied radiographic technology and had worked as an MRI technologist for 13 years, but even that couldn’t prepare her for the shocking results of Jake’s X-rays. Jake’s entire spine was fractured from his mid-chest all the way to his tailbone. His bones were brittle from the high doses of multiple medications, and the doctor said the trauma of constant seizures or even his chest therapy and coughing could have caused Jake’s spine to break.

Sweet brothers John, Will, and Jake

Since Jake had an incurable disease and suffered from multiple seizures, there was nothing to do but simply manage his pain. By this time, Britani had a newborn baby boy, which meant they now had two boys other than Jake to care for as well. It would be understandable for someone in this situation to walk away from all hope.

“Honestly, for me, letting go was never an option.” That was Britani’s answer when asked what kept them from just giving up. “I really think we have to get to that point, to make a decision that no matter what comes my way, I am going to trust Jesus.” Instead of turning from her faith, her faith grew. She clung to Scriptures like Hebrews 11:1, Romans 8, and many of the Psalms.

A happy family of five, shortly after the birth of baby John (Courtesy of Danita Coger Photography)

Wes and Britani also became very transparent about their life and shared everything from Jake’s current state to their struggles with keeping the faith through a Facebook group called Jake’s Journey. In September 2016, Jake’s journey on earth ended, and he crossed over into eternity. The couple shared details of Jake’s celebration of life, and they continue to share about their journey of grief.

Anticipating the new addition to their family (Courtesy of Amber Lee Photography)

They’ve also started another Facebook group, Falls family down syndrome adoption. As you might have guessed, the couple is in the process of adopting a child. When asked what led to this decision, Britani’s answer was simple. “After having Jake, our perspective on life has completely changed, and having him has helped us to see God’s beautiful hand in all of His special children.” They plan on adopting a child from overseas with down syndrome, who would otherwise live in either an orphanage or mental institution. They also want a little girl to even out their family of boys.

Although the Falls family has experienced much pain, they also have experienced the love of God in a way that many have not. In addition to their Facebook groups, Britani has started speaking at local churches to encourage others dealing with difficulties. She realizes the power of her testimony and is open to any opportunity in which sharing her story can help others. “Our angel Jake showed us the purest and selfless form of love that could only come from God Himself, ” Britani shares. “We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father that He chose us to be Jake’s parents and that He loved us enough to bless our life with Jake.”

Gift from Wes for Britani’s first Mother’s Day without Jake

Most of all, this journey has given Britani a new perspective of not only how she loves others but also of how God loves us. All of those sleepless nights she sat by Jake, praying for him and tending to his every need, brought new meaning to God giving his Son to save a lost world. “God has used our experiences with our son Jake to mold us into the people that He always designed for us to be,” Britani shares. “It took having Jake, being blessed with his presence, beauty, and love, and experiencing great loss, tragedy, and hardships for us to be able to see the true face of God—the pure and selfless love of a Savior who gave His life so that we could live.”

If you would like to help, the Falls bring home their daughter, visit their Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/wesandbritanischinababy.

 

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54 mins ago

Judge tosses charge accusing ex-warden of leaking to blogger

An Alabama judge is dismissing criminal charges accusing a former jail warden of illegally leaking information to a blogger critical of a sheriff.

The Decatur Daily reports that a judge dismissed the charge of computer tampering at the request of former Morgan County jail warden Leon Bradley after several days of testimony.

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Bradley was fired in October by Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin. His lawyers claimed Franklin and three employees lied to get warrants and have Bradley arrested.

The blogger’s grandson testifies that Franklin threatened to arrest him and derail his plans to join the Army if he told anyone about being a confidential informant or didn’t provide information harming his grandmother.

Two law enforcement officers testify Franklin asked them to issue search warrants they believed unjustified.

Franklin denies wrongdoing.

(Copyright Associated Press 2018)

1 hour ago

Steve Marshall and Troy King most well-known, well-liked Republican candidates for Alabama attorney general, according to poll

New polling obtained by Yellowhammer News offers a peek into Alabama’s attorney general race, with the edges in the Republican primary bid at-the-moment being given to current Attorney General Steve Marshall and former Attorney General Troy King.

The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence, found that 24 percent of Republican primary voters have a favorable view of Marshall and 26 percent have a favorable view of King, while 5 percent have an unfavorable view of Marshall and 15 percent have an unfavorable view of King.

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The other two Republicans running, former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and Judge Chess Bedsole, have 13 and 8 percent favorability, respectively.

King has the highest name identification at 61 percent, with Marshall’s at 43 percent. Martin’s name identification is at 32 percent and Bedsole’s at 28 percent.

(WPA Intelligence)

Survey Methodology: WPA selected a random sample (n=500 Republican primary voters) of registered voters from the Alabama voter file using Proportionate Probability Sampling (PPS) who were contacted by phone April 15-17, 2018. The sample was stratified based on geography, age, and gender, and the study has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent in 95 out of 100 cases.

The primary election is on June 5, and the state-wide general election is November 6.

Rep. Byrne: A tax code that works

Each April, Americans across the country face great frustration and inconvenience in filing their taxes.

Fortunately, this Tax Day marked the last time Americans would file their taxes under the old tax code. Thanks to passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Americans will now have a simpler and fairer tax code. I was proud to work with President Trump to reform our tax code and make the process easier for taxpayers.

Starting next year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will bring Americans relief when filing their taxes under a more streamlined, straightforward tax code. However, making the overall filing process simpler and more convenient was just one of the many ways we worked to create a tax code that benefits and works for the American people.

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One of the most important reforms under the new tax code is the doubling of the standard deduction. This provision increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. Combined with new lower tax rates, almost every Alabamian should see a tax decrease.

Also important, the new tax code prioritizes American families by doubling the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. It is no secret that raising a family is not cheap; so, this increase provides additional support for families struggling to pay for childcare and other necessary expenses associated with parenting.

To provide even more support for families, the bill preserves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, as well as the Adoption Tax Credit. Even more, the bill makes improvements to saving options for education by allowing parents to use 529 accounts to save for elementary, secondary, and higher education.

Most people will not have to wait until the next tax season to see the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Already, many hardworking Alabamians are seeing more money in their paychecks each month. That means your hard-earned money is ending up back in your pockets, rather than the coffers of the federal government.

Tax reform has also helped spur overall economic growth. Our bill helps to level the playing field for American businesses, creating new job opportunities and finally causing wages to rise after years of stagnation.

Many businesses have also handed out bonuses and improved benefits to their workforce. Since passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I have had the pleasure of personally handing out bonus checks at multiple businesses in Southwest Alabama. Trust me, these workers were thrilled with the extra money.

We aren’t stopping now either. The House passed a package of bills last week to help cut down on identity theft and to hold criminals accountable for IRS scams. It is important that these crooks be punished for trying to defraud hardworking Americans, including our nation’s senior citizens.

Equally important, the House also passed bills to make the IRS more efficient, effective, and accountable. The IRS should be a customer-friendly organization that responds to the questions and concerns of the American people.

In the past four months, we have seen tremendous growth right here in Southwest Alabama because of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. From our small business owners handing out bonus checks to our single-income families taking home extra money in their paychecks, evidence shows that allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money is a huge boom for our economy.

As we bid farewell to an old, outdated tax code, Americans can rest easy knowing they have a simpler, fairer tax code to work with in the future.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

2 hours ago

Abortion is not a human right, says State Dept. official

The State Department released its Human Rights Report for 2017 on Friday, and State Department officials acknowledged it purposely left out a section on “women’s reproductive rights,” which had been included in previous reports during the Obama administration, noting that the administration does not consider abortion a human right under international law.

“When the State Department is talking about this represents our values as Americans, the removal of sections on women’s reproductive rights – why is that not included in values as Americans?” a reporter asked State Department officials.

“I’m going to explain why it was removed. It was introduced six years ago into the report. It hadn’t been there before,” Michael Kozak, ambassador for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said.

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“It’s one of the few terms that are used in the report that isn’t derived from an international treaty that has a definition or derived from U.S. law, where there’s a clear definition to the term, and in this case, the previous administration intended it to mean look at the availability of contraception, at the – whether the government tried to impose or coerce people in making decisions about reproduction,” Kozak said.

“In the statements that were made – this was derived from the Beijing Declaration that was done in the ‘90s. At that time, it was very clear and our delegation made a very clear statement that this has nothing to do with abortion. It doesn’t mean abortion,” he said.

Kozak said the use of the term “reproductive rights” means different things to people on both sides of the issue.

“Unfortunately, over the last few years, groups on both sides of that issue domestically have started to use the term, and both seem to think it does include abortion and then argue about it,” he said. “So our thought was let’s just not use a term that has the opposite meaning from the one we intend.

“We went back to the term that’s used in the U.S. statute that requires the Human Rights Report, which is coerced family planning, namely coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization,” Kozak said. “I might mention too, because I went back and looked at last year’s report, the question being asked was, ‘Were there obstacles opposed to getting contraception information and means?’

“The answer in virtually every country was no, there were no obstacles other than, in almost every country, including our own, the availability in rural areas is less than it is in urban areas. But we were taking a lot of space to explain that,” he said.

“So what we’ve done, we’ve kept that information in there. We’ve done it now by a hyperlink. We used to take that information from the WHO report and put it in. We said let’s just use a hyperlink, and then there’s actually more information available that way. So that’s the rationale behind that,” Kozak said.

“It’s not a diminishment of women’s rights or a desire to get away from it; it was to stop using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend,” he added.

A reporter later questioned whether Kozak was saying “there are no obstacles for women to get contraception in any country except for if there’s a remote issue.”

“I said with some exceptions, and the exceptions were and still are – and we’ve really gotten at it by flipping back to the original U.S. statutory language. It’s in places like China, where in order to enforce their two – now two-child policy, that there are reports of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization,” Kozak said.

The ambassador said North Korea also engages in forced abortion, although it’s usually used for political punishment. Also in the country of Belarus, women in state hospitals or who are institutionalized are forced to have abortions or if the woman or baby has disabilities.

“In North Korea, where the government also coerces or forces abortion – although sometimes that’s for political punishment rather than family planning, and we uncovered it,” Kozak said.

“So as we were digging through trying to reduce the bulk of some of this report, I found in the old country I served in, in Belarus, that it turns out that the doctors in the state hospitals, and particularly in the institutions there, if they have a woman who is pregnant and who is a woman with disabilities, the doctors insist on an abortion. Or if they believe the fetus has a disability, they’ll insist on an abortion. So we’ve called that out too,” he said.

“So it’s not – those were the cases, though, in the – under the previous formula where you would say there was a restriction on family planning, freedom of family planning. For most countries, it said, there isn’t any restriction except for the ones imposed by economics and rural-urban type thing,” Kozak said.

“So just to be clear just on that, so taking out the language about those cases therefore means that the U.S. doesn’t believe that the inability for women to get an abortion physically or by law is an abuse of human rights?” a reporter asked.

“Correct, under the previous administration and this one and the one before that. We have never taken the position that abortion was a right under – a human right under international law,” Kozak said.

“This is supposed to be internationally recognized human rights, and it’s an issue on which – some countries prohibit abortion. Some countries, like our own, pretty much no restriction on it, and we don’t say one of those is right and one of those is wrong. We don’t report on it because it’s not a human right,” he said.

“It’s an issue of great policy debate. You can have a good discussion, but there’s no internationally recognized standard as to what’s the right treatment, but the other, yes. The – it is internationally recognized that somebody shouldn’t coerce you to have an abortion or force you to be sterilized,” Kozak added.

(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)

2 hours ago

Alabama Waffle House deserves kudos for their handling of #WaffleHouse boycott

Corporate boycotts are all the rage. Last week we have a boycott of the notoriously liberal Starbucks because two men wouldn’t leave when asked and now Starbucks is closing stores to do “implicit bias training”.

In Alabama, a Waffle House in Saraland came under attack after a video showed an intoxicated and angry Chikesia Clemons being arrested for not leaving a restaurant when requested. The evidence indicated the original story about an argument over utensils was a lie. The woman was asked to leave because she was drunk and brought alcohol into the restaurant.  She also reportedly told the staff “Bitch, you don’t know what I’ve got going on. … I may have a gun, I may have anything, I can come back and shoot this place up if I need to.”

In light of this new evidence Waffle House took the anti-Starbucks position:

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Why this matters: The press likes chaos, they thrive off racial chaos, and they are fomenting it at every turn. Most corporations want no part of this. They want controversy to go away and they want to be seen as good corporate citizens, so they take the PR hit and promise to do better if the mob will just stop screaming. Waffle House stood up for the truth here, they supported their employees, they supported law enforcement, and for that they should be applauded.

The details:

— Clemons and two friends were asked to leave the Waffle House after entering with an alcoholic beverage. Her two friends left but Clemons yelled at staff and threatened them.

— When police arrived Clemons refused to leave and then resisted arrest.

— To show her level of intoxication, police released a video of Clemons appearing to vomit into a garbage can during her booking.

— Nothing good happens at a Waffle House after 2 AM. The arrest took place at 2:45 AM.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN in Huntsville.