Whatever is true - and truly wonderful about your kids - think about such things

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Welcome to the ongoing series, "You are not a victim, you're a mom." Perhaps it's time to wrap these messages up, and tie it all together with a sweeping conclusion, that feels more like the wave of a magic wand making all things lovely. But it's tough to do that because climbing out of sin is an ongoing journey this side of glory - even where motherhood is concerned. And that's okay. There's really no arriving until we see Jesus face to face and are suddenly like Him. That's where we find our hope! Jesus is the victim that ultimately set the rest of us free. 

And so I am pressing on to be more like Him each parenting moment.

Feel free to join me in the journey as we continue with part 9 - or start from the beginning - You are not a victim, you're a mom.

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I'm typing these words out at the dinning room table as my homeschooled kid finishes his outline for a research report in the kitchen. Natural light is streaming through the picture windows, the halls are quiet (since brothers go to a traditional school), I have an infuser blasting a steady stream of essential oils, which promise to clear a cloudy brain and stimulate alertness, and he has a handful of raw nuts by his side - brain food. I'm doing my best. He's doing his best. But ADHD is hard stuff.

Two years ago, right around this time in the school year, I pulled my child out of his class with a sense of urgency. His teacher spoke of grace but didn't know how to extend it in the midst of a room full of warm wiggly bodies. She suggested medication, which isn't awful, don't get me wrong, and we tried it. We tried a few. They didn't work for my boy. As a matter of fact they only made things worse. My boy's teacher said she wanted to help, and I believe that she did, but eventually all she was doing was shaming our child from subject to the next, all day long. Anxiety filled his gut until he was literally sick from it most days. Which only set him further behind and intensified the anxiety. My own belly's in a knot at the recollection.

I wasn't angry at the teacher or the school, I understood. Still, my boy was going under - academically and emotionally. So my husband and I rushed into the whirling water and pulled him from the waves, dragging him out and up onto the warm sand of homeschool. Which may be lovely imagery... but it's still hard.

Here we are, two years later, and I find myself struggling with the same gracelessness his teacher did. Shameful words like, "what's wrong with you? Why can't you just..." tumble over my lips. Only, I know what's wrong. Which is why we brought him home.

Did I mention how difficult ADHD can be?

However, I could write an epic sweeping novel about all that is RIGHT with this child. His heart, his talents, his beauty, his strength, his desire to please and encourage... so much good and so much muscle and so much unique God-design wrapped in the sinews of my son. I am over the moon in love with him! And I even love many of the attributes that are unlocked because of his ADHD - His creativity for one thing! But teaching and learning... that's hard. All of it. And sometimes I feel like a victim.

And it translates.

This victim mentality translates to our kids. They know we feel abused! They do, mom! They read it on your face; in your body language; in between your words, your sighs.

Just recently he looked at me with sad eyes, and said, "Mom, I feel like I'm ruining your life."

Oh my bleeding heart, NOOOOOO!  And yet... yes, sometimes I feel that way. And maybe you do too. But it's not true! It's simply not true!

Which is why we must practice the spiritual discipline of believing what is true, so that we don't pass these wrong messages on to them!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Here's what's true: I'm crazy about my kid's freckled face and the way his fingers fly over the neck of his guitar, like they know exactly where every cord lives.

Here's what's nobel: God made my child. The King made my boy! He wove him together in princely fashion, and prepared him for good works - God works! And with my help he gets to walk in each one of them.

Here's what's pure: He's just being a kid, pure and simple, like any other kid, with his own brand of strengths and struggles. And I have the privilege of partnering with him daily.

Here's what's lovely: We talk about girls, his dreams and and his future, and he holds my hand - anytime, anywhere - infront of God and everybody.

Here's what's admirable: God looks at the heart, and my kid's heart is awesome!  Yes, sometimes his ADHD is louder and seems to drown out the softer voice of his admirable heart, but God is ever focused on that heart, and I want to be too.

Here's what's excellent: The way my boy cares for me and his Grandma, always holding the door and making sure we are okay - it's excellent! The way his friend's parents are always complimenting us on his manners. Excellent.

Here's what's praiseworthy: I know that I just told you that God and I are most concerned about my boy's heart, but this kid is also scoring above his peers in his standardized tests! Getting through each assignment may be painful, but he's learning and that's worthy of praise too!

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Your turn! If you are caught in a victim mindset, steadfast in negative thought patterns and self-talk, feeling abused by your little people, take Paul's advice in Philippians 4:8 and remember all things true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy!

May they spill out of your remembrances, into your heart, and up over your lips!

Click here to start at the beginning of the series, “You are not a victim, you’re a mom.” Or sign up to receive the rest of this series directly to your inbox.

If you struggle with anger in your home from the sheer effort of it all, if you find yourself yelling at your little ones, feeling like a victim, and weighed down by shame, you’re not alone. TRIGGERS: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses, is a brand new book, written by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake, addressing the things our children do, along with the internal pressures of motherhood, that trigger in us angry reactions rather than gentle Biblical responses. Get your copy today.

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Because sometimes that one child, with all their special needs, takes everything you have

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Do you have a child with impulse control issues, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Aspergers, Autism, Dyslexia, APD, Depression, Anxiety, or a unique concoction of those listed above? And is it hard? I bet it is. I know it is. Having a child (or children) with special needs, behavioral disorders and learning difficulties can be one of the most difficult weights to bear. And under the pressure, moms can explode and marriages implode and love erode. It's all so very complicated.  

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One sweet mom recently asked for prayer concerning her anger, and was so insightful to recognize the connection between the constant energy her child with unique needs requires and her own twitchy trigger finger.  She confessed the way she tends to explode at the rest of the family when she is simply worn out by her one special child. Yes. I can relate. I remember going to the psychiatrist for the first time with my son with ADHD. After he was assessed and diagnosed I immediately started talking about all the other issues in our family and the possible disorders my other kids might have. The doctor smiled, nodded, and said, "It's very possible nobody has any diagnosable issues. They have issues, but the sort of issues that come from proximity. Don't worry. Let's see if we can help this one kid first. Usually what happens is that once we help one child with impulse control and oppositional tendencies everyone else's behavior in the home begins to change.

 

Kids with behavioral, developmental, or learning issues often cause the whole family to have issues as well. And to some extent I've seen that this is true. If one brother is hyperactive and discontent or argumentative, think of the way it affects siblings and mom and dad. That peaceful home you always imagined transforms into a stressful one with terse replies and a short-tempered marriage.

 

Unfortunately it's not as easy as a little pill. Some challenges simply aren't so treatable, and the ramifications run deep and wide. Sure, we can learn behavior modification techniques and coping skills, seek the help of therapists, try changing their diet and homeopathic remedies or more traditional medications, but for many families there remain... challenges.  Challenges because of that one dear child who sits awkwardly somewhere on the spectrum, demanding much of our time, every waking moment. Or the kid with dyslexia that still comes home with two hours of homework each school night, along with a backpack full of self-loathing. And by the time you get his needs taken care of you are all poured out, stressed, sad, and short tempered too.

I'm sorry.

 

I'm sorry that you have such a challenging reality. But the deal is this, my friends: Your charge to love is the same as the woman next door with two compliant girls and bumper stickers boasting, "My child was on the honor roll... Again!" Every Christian woman has been given the same commission, regardless of circumstance: To love, because we have first been loved. To forgive, because Christ first forgave us. To suffer beside our children as long as need be, because our God is long-suffering in his tender love toward us.

 

Believe it or not - experience it or not - we have all received good and not evil from the Father's hand. But good doesn't always mean easy. Good means, I believe, just the right circumstances to help us recognize our desperate need for Jesus each and every day! That child with Aspergers and the two with ADHD, the teenager who struggles with anxiety, the one with OCD and his brother with APD, and the husband weighed down heavy with depression, and you with your own soul sadness...

 

Every human issue has the ability to point us towards our deepest soul issue... the fact we need God's power in our weakness, His saving in our failures, His hand to hold us up, His love when ours runs bone dry.

 

Ladies, there is no formula to conquer these challenges, and every other, other than Christ in you, each and every day. Abide in Him as He abides in you, carve out the time and make His near and transforming Word a priority, that you might bear the fruit of His Spirit in your overwhelming (God given) circumstances.

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

 

What if the word "perfect" doesn't mean exactly what we imagined when we were first pregnant? We dreamed of perfection as ten fingers and ten toes, a soft tuft of hair, and all the baby powder scented memories we'd make together. We dreamt of perfection as the darling slept contented and awoke happily. We imagined perfect to mean all shiny and lovely and joyful and good. But what if "perfect" has more to do with perfecting the recipient of the gift? Transforming us via the present swaddled in our arms. 

 

God looks down upon his grown-up child and says, "I love you therefore I want to perfect you into my image... so I will send you a perfecting gift to help you in this process. A gift all hot and fiery to refine the dross right out of you. There may be ten fingers and ten toes, and contented sleep and happy waking times, but then again there may not be. I have formed this perfecting gift within the womb of a woman as part of my perfect plan to perfect a mother. To perfect a father. To perfect a family."

 

Do you know that God cares more about your transformation process than your comfort? And that is true in our mothering lives as well. And so He doesn't just allow imperfections to slip through His fingers and into our lives... He prepares, pre-plans, and perfects us in these anointed trials of motherhood.

 

I sat with my child on the end of his bed one afternoon when math was swirling in his head and simply would not make sense. He asked me, "Why do I have this issue?" And I hung my head in surrender there beside him and chose again to let his issue be my own, rather than letting his issue suck me dry and leave me unkind and worn out.

 

"Son," I said, "we all have issues. Every single person under heaven. And God has allowed them so that we can learn to turn to Him for His wisdom and strength each difficult day." And then I shared with him a few of my own challenges. Because it is true - we all have them. And in that moment my issues became encouragement to another. How much better, how much better... than when I've let his issues cause issues of my own.

 

Dear parents or children with challenges that challenge you, with issues that create issues there in your home. I'm praying for you today, that the Lord is reveling His perfecting plan in the midst of all of this.

 

He is good. Your child is good.  And you are good.

 

Press in to that, and press on.

taste and see

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taste  

Taste and see that the Lord is good:

blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

(Psalm 34:8)

 

Today is the Sabbath, a day for rest, a day for taking refuge in the sanctuaries of our homes, our churches, our family, and our faith.  Resisting the striving to simply know that He is God, as we taste and see His goodness round about us.

Walking through the garden the other day I was aware of how sweet the air smelled, the breeze carried honeysuckle, jasmine, and orange blossoms through eucalyptus and lemon trees. Imagine that.  Intoxicating.  The scent of earth and the whinny of horses, all of it home.

Later in the day, as I homeschooled my fifth grader, I encouraged him to use all five of his senses to layer descriptive words into his writing assignment.  Inspired, I put a pad of unlined-paper in his hand and wrote see, smell, hear, taste & touch at the top of the page.  Sending him outside I asked my son to find a location on our property and write me a poem using those powerful tools.  The eleven year old swooshed the bangs from his forehead and rolled his eyes, slipped on his mother's flip-flops then sauntered out into her rose garden.  When he returned he gave me this:

In the Garden

I see the magnificent roses on my mom’s bushes;

I smell the wonderful scent of blooming jasmine;

I reach over to touch the soft peddles of the rose;

I taste the fresh squeezed lemonade from our lemon trees,

cool in my hand.

I feel that I am at home in the garden.

-Caleb

 

That is the Sabbath... being at home in the garden of God's safe embrace, at the end of one busy week and the start of another. Purposing stillness to look closely, listen carefully, inhale deeply, touch gently, and taste, intentionally, the Lord's goodness toward us.

Today, this Sabbath Sunday, also marks the end of one full week of fasting - which may be part of why I'm slowing down as well.  Depleted in one natural area of my being, that I might be aware of the supernatural at work without and within.  Denying sugar that I can more fully experience the sweetness of The Lord's nearness.

One of the women who has joined along with this online community for our 40 day sugar-fast is author, Katie Reid. She sent me a message, the day I went for a walk outside, celebrating how her food tastes more flavorful and enjoyable than usual.  The sweet tanginess of strawberries, the rich flavors at the dinner table.  It reminded me of the scent on the breeze so I replied to her comment online, telling her so.

Back and forth we've been communicating about our discoveries.  I've actually copied one of them and pasted it below because it was just so good.   Read it with me:

 

"Last night the kids were going to get some tomato soup from an Indian restaurant and they said, "I'll bet it won't taste as good as yours does Mom." I told them that it is fine for them to like other people's food more than mine because other people can cook better than I can. This morning I was reflecting on that and thought about how we often feel "no one's cooking is like that of home." There is comfort in eating where you feel loved, safe and known.

Then it went deeper. Do we long for the taste and food of our REAL home - Heaven? As believers, that hunger for home should drive us and fuel us. How many times do we settle for a quick, cheap fix for our spiritual hunger rather than the real stuff; the rich fare of Heaven? I have heard in third world countries that believers often talk about heaven and look forward to it. Why? Maybe it is because their days aren't full of comforts or the varieties of foods and pleasures like we have. They hunger for heaven and delight in what's to come. But isn't it us who are malnourished? We feed our face on comforts and we lose a taste for the best yet to come.

Oh Lord, may we hunger for You. May we feast on Your Word and the "hope set before us." (see Hebrews 9:18). Some people think focusing so much on heaven means you are out of touch with reality. But heaven is a joyful reality for those in Christ- where we will taste and see where He is good (see Psalm 34:8). Oh that we would all turn and experience the great banquet to come!

 

All this

& so much more

is on my mind

this Sabbath day.

 

Katie Reid is encouraging her friends on her own facebook page as she fasts from sugar as a means to letting God make her sweet.  I encourage you to stop by and get to know her here.

My Favorite Preschool Learning Games

Criss cross applesauce on the shag carpet in my best friend's childhood room.  It was the end of the 70s and we were just out of Kindergarten with our ABCs and 123s.  We spent our summer days riding big wheels around my block, then swimming in his backyard pool.  Often times his mom would usher us in with hair still dripping wet and set up a homemade board-game  between his two knees and mine.  We called it, "The M&M game," because a little glass bowl in the middle of the board was piled high with those colorful candy prizes.  

Taking turns we'd roll the die and make our way around the cardboard trail, stopping at each space to answer a math question.

 

9+1=

2+3=

4-0=

 

For every correct answer we'd grab a treat, never noticing we were learning.

 

This game, those memories, and the idea that play should be the basis for early childhood learning, became the foundation of how I'd teach my own preschoolers 30 years later.

 

Starting with a blank canvas, white and clean without a bit of knowledge on it, so like your two and a half year old.  Take a marker and draw a spiral pattern around your board,  make it into a double line and mark off individual spaces in the long learning snake.  Finally, inside each empty box write a letter, uppercase & lower case, or a number from 0 - 10.  But the first box says START, and that final spot holds the letters E-N-D.

 

Sometimes it was the roll of a die, other times the flick of our shoots and ladders spinner that propelled little minds around the game-board.

 

My child rolled a 3, and I taught him to move his small plastic horse / super-hero / little people farmer three spaces.  Landing on the letter Mm we clapped together.  Since he was brand new to learning I sang the letter factory song:

"the M says "mmmm" - the M says "mmmm"

Every letter makes a sound - the M says "mmmm"

 

Once he had done some learning he didn't need my help anymore.  So I'd ask him for the name of a fruit or animal that starts with the letter M.

 

"The M says mmmm, like monkeys and mangos!"

 

 

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My oldest child is 10 now and still asks to play the treat game!  However, his game includes division, multiplication, and square roots making a trail around the page.

 

The other game my boys played, that made number recognition easy, was called "Stack the numbers!"  Simply take index cards and write the numbers 0 - 10, then mix them up and lay them face side up on the floor.  Then let your preschooler Stack the Numbers!

 

0

1

2

3...

 

Of course you can use more numbers, like 0 - 50, or 0 - 100, 0r 0 - 200 with just even numbers, or 0-200 counting by fives....

...the stacking options are endless

 

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Your turn!

What were / are some of your favorite preschool learning games.

 

Empty Bibles - #endbiblepoverty

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My home schooled kid is wrapping up math in the other room then it's lunchtime, after that he'll handwrite One Verse in his empty Bible.  

Of all our Bibles, this one is my favorite.

 

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"Over one billion people are still Bibleless around the globe.

The Good News is...  God became man. Jesus was the first translation. Through God’s Word, all people can intimately know Him and His gracious gifts of freedom, mercy and hope. God is at work today. With an urgency no one could manufacture, He is recovering, restoring and redeeming His people. We are grateful He’s invited us to join Him."

The Seed Company

 

 

I love the picture of Jesus being the first translation of the Good News; The hands and feet of God's redeeming plan.

Translation:  Emmanuel.

But the transcripted, transcribed, transcendent love continues today, beyond 1st world boarders, into regions where written logos have never been scripted on parchment.  And God invites us to join Him in the rescuing adventure.

 

The Seed Company is the fundraising arm of Wycliff Bible Translation, and they've made a way for laypeople just like you and me, to respond to this Great Commission charge.  And my children love being part of it too!

 

In fact, my kids heard about the Bibleless people groups at church, from their Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Bell, before I knew much at all.  Each week she read a chapter out of the book, From Akebu to Zapotec: A Book of Bibleless Peoples.  Before I knew what was happening, my middle boy started praying, "God please give the Akebu people your Bible so they can know how much you love them."  Knee deep in speech impediments, I had no idea what he was talking about with God.  Then Mrs. Bell told me everything these little five year olds had been learning about, and I started learning too.  Next, she told me about The Seed Company, and the boys and I started planning our first bake sale to raise money for Bible Translation.  For every $35 we raised, the people at The Seed Company sent us updates with the actual scripture references our money funded the translation of.

 

Those are the verses my kids write down on the empty pages of their Bibles.

 

While I know you have your favorite Bibles, just like we do, I encourage you to head on over to The Seed Company to help fill empty Bibles of the world.  Help translate God's Word into an unwritten tongue.  Click here to find your continent, your community, your people, then download information about that region and their unique needs.  The globe starts to spin and our hearts begin to beat for those who haven't yet heard the Good News of God's Great Love. Then watch little hands grasp pencils and pens as they do their best to write each verse clearly and carefully.

 

I am blown away that these little hearts already have more than enough of God's Word to lead them to Salvation.

 

Believe in The Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. - Acts 16:31

For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

 

Just two verses to know and believe and be saved.

 

Yet we have countless translations lining our shelves, while others have never heard the name of Jesus.

 

I think of the Christian books I read and the bible studies I purchase, spending upwards of $35 a month.  Overfed calfs, while a billion are staving for a taste of saving truth; sweet as honey.  I'm not speaking shame, but preaching truth.  The Ethiopian heard and believed and was baptized.  Saved by faith through the reading and the hearing and the explaining.  I have enough heard, and read, and explained, to last me this lifetime and carry me safely into the next.  I want to stop hoarding knowledge and start extending it generously.  Yes, I want it for the unsaved walking upside down on the other side of the world.

 

And the Seed Company makes it so easy.  Even if you are unable to give right now,  click here to find a nation to pray over.  There are so many specific needs listed that you can lift up as a family.  Because empty Bibles need filling, empty hearts need filling, empty ears need filling, empty lands need filling.

 

#endbiblepoverty - One Verse at a time.

 

 

For those of you stopping by for the first time, "Welcome to my Living Room."  It's nice to have new friends from The Nester's 31 Day Challenge, and Essential Thing Devotions.  For more of my Favorite Things, visit me here.