Monday, April 29, 2013

What Makes You Happy? By Denette Schaer

What makes you smile?

Have you ever thought about what makes you smile? I mean REALLY smile?  The kind of smile that makes you grin from ear to ear?  For me the things at the top of my list would be hearing my children laugh, students grasping God's grace for the first time, my husband beaming about me with an encouraging word and of course a bargain.  Who doesn't love a bargain?  I mean if finding a good deal was a love language then it would be THIS girls love language.  I love to thrift, and I love to shop, but I don't like spending money.  I want to find that Coach purse for $3 and that amazing dress for $2.  I want as much as I can get with as little pain to my pocket book as possible.  We don't like to spend more than we have to on anything.  The thought crossed my mind….Do I take that same mentality with my kids?  If I'm not careful, I can.  I want to raise great kids but is wanting enough?  I can want to raise the next world changer, but will my actions, words and love point them there?  I know it's hard work, and I know it will cost me.  Am I willing to pay the cost?

Do you ever find yourself bargaining with your kids? I know I do.  I have three boys ages 8, 11, and 13.  All three of my boys have different personalities with different needs.  My husband is also a youth pastor, and I get to be around students every day.  One thing that seems to be a resounding truth is everyone wants to feel valuable.  We want to find a bargain, but we sure don't want to BE one.  No one wants to be someone else’s leftovers, and no one wants to feel like a knock-off of something greater or a has been.  The amazing thing is God showed us how valuable we are by His actions He carried out for us, but the question is HOW do we show that to our children?  How much effort do we put into making sure their value is based on Him and nothing else?  Has anyone ever told you their love language?  You know the little test that examines your personality and tells you just what makes you tick?  Many couples have used it over the years to help each mate better understand their partner.  If it's so important to know how to speak love into our spouse, why not our children?  What makes him/her tick?   I hear students all the time with broken hearts explain how distant they are from their parents.  They complain their parents don't really know who they are.   As I talk and sit and walk through story after story, I can see how that parent is providing, loving, and caring.  What I also sadly see is that sometimes those actions aren't speaking love to their heart at all. Have you ever taken your child shopping for one of their friend’s birthday gifts to realize that they are in fact picking out a gift that THEY really want instead of one the friend would truly enjoy?  I think we can try so hard to fill that void of self value in our children never realizing that all along, if we had pointed them to one who gives value they would find exactly what they have been desiring.

I know this isn't always easy.  I can get so caught up in ministering to others that I forget my greatest ministry is the six eyeballs I brought into this world.  Unfortunately as parents we have a lot of balls to keep up in the air and all at the same time.  Last week while at a minister's conference I had an analogy hit me.  I mean literally hit me.  I got up to go to the restroom before the next session started.  I happen to pick the restroom door that doesn't want to shut in just the right way.  I jimmy it shut and mid process the door slings open.  I'm stuck between two decisions: do I lean for the door in hopes to not cause myself embarrassment or do I finish what I started in hopes to not cause myself even MORE embarrassment?  Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been stuck in a situation where you don't know what to tackle first?  Motherhood can be so similar.  We don't know what to do first, fix first or handle first.  We have to make a decision on what's most important and just go with it.   Sometimes, we have to be strong enough to know we HAVE to finish what we started.  We cannot allow the embarrassment of admitting we have a problem stand in the way of completing the goal God has placed before us.  We can't physically do all that needs to be done. What we CAN do is seek out our children's hearts and place them before the King.  He knows how to speak truth and value into your child's heart.  Seek Him.  Ask Him to help you find your child's currency or love language. God so generously made us all different, and we all have different definitions of self worth.  Find out what that child or teen of yours longs for and be intentional about meeting them there.  It may mean better quality time, more affection, stronger communication or merely just words of encouragement.   If it is important to your child then MAKE it important to you. 

The best part of ALL is that by God's grace we all have value.  What about you?  Even if you feel like an item tossed out at a garage sale, He says you are more!  He is searching and pursuing our hearts saying, "Here, let me dust you off. You have been through a lot, but you are SUCH a find.  I made you to be something great.  Let me get you there."  No matter how strong or weak we are in handling our own insecurities, as moms our goal should be to point them to the one who DEFINES just how valuable they are and are intended to be.

I Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Denette Schaer

Friday, April 26, 2013

White Picket Fence by Billie Timmons

I remember dreaming of a beautiful little house with a white picket fence. I had dreams of being a wife and mother. In my dreams, I wore an apron and sent my children off to school with a sack lunch. I had fresh baked cookies and milk waiting for them when they returned home. I was "Super Mom". Boy was I in for a rude awakening!

It took me a while to find my husband. I searched for many years and finally gave up and let God handle it. I have learned over the years if I give everything to God from the beginning and just listen for His direction, He would not lead me wrong. I wished I had learned it earlier, but some of us are more stubborn than others, and we need more lessons. Many of those lessons have come through my children. Our first child, a son, was (and still is) a wonderful blessing. Such a good baby, he was. Slept good, ate good, cried very little. I couldn't wait to have another.

Our second little one came along, a girl, twenty-one months after my son. She too, was (and still is) a wonderful blessing. With her came challenges though. Challenges for which I didn't think I was prepared. At about seven months of age, I realized that my daughter wasn't responding to her name. I think I realized before then, but it was brought to my attention when she was seven months old by my sister. I guess I thought as long as no one else noticed, I could pretend everything was fine and dandy, but someone noticed.

My Abbi was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf. She heard nothing not even a chainsaw if it were cranked right beside her. My perfect world fell apart. I was devastated to say the least. My husband, in my opinion, seemed to not be too worried about it. In the midst of my devastation, I was also angry at him for acting like it was no big deal. In a matter of weeks, I realized that it was going to be up to me to deal with the situation. Over those first few weeks, I selfishly prayed and prayed for God to heal her, to give her hearing. I finally asked God to heal her if it was His will and if not, to give me the peace and strength to deal with it. I felt immediate peace and the strength came daily as needed.

So much for my white, picket-fence dream. I spent the following two and a half years in a whirlwind of therapy sessions. Three days a week, I carried her an hour away for therapy. Two days a week, someone came to our home for therapy. I was learning sign language and trying to teach it to my deaf daughter and my hearing son. Any free time I had was spent researching options, therapies, and finding out all that I could about deafness instead of baking cookies.

I did this on my own in the beginning. My husband didn't acknowledge her deafness. He didn't participate in her therapies, didn't ask questions, nor attempt to learn sign language. When I would cry, he'd tell me there was no need crying over it. I couldn't understand why he showed no emotion, so it made me angry. It was like his life didn't change, but mine did drastically. After about four months, I couldn't take it anymore. My anger had built up, and I needed to let it out. My husband caught the brunt of it, and I let him know how angry I was.

I don't know what all I said to him in the heat of the moment, but somewhere in amongst my screaming tantrum, I noticed he was crying. I stopped my rant and just watched him. Finally, he spoke. He said, "I know Abbi is deaf, but I have faith that God is going to heal her. She won't be deaf forever." My anger melted away, and my heart broke for him. I realized that moment that he was grieving, just like I was. He was devastated, just like I was. We were just dealing with it differently. I was dealing with it on the outside by doing everything I could to "fix" our situation. He was dealing with it on the inside while keeping his emotions in check on the outside.

For the first time, we sat down and cried together and talked about it. I told him I couldn't do it all by myself. I had faith just like he did that our Abbi would hear one day, but we couldn't set her on a shelf and wait until that day. The following morning, I walked into the living room, and he had my sign language book practicing some signs. I knew then we were in it together, and that life is not all about white picket fences!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mom, Mama, Ma, Mommy

“Mom,” “ Mama,” “ Ma,” “ Mommy” or whatever your parental name may be (sometimes in desperation your child will scream out your given name), God bless you! I am convinced that being a mom is the hardest and, at the same time, the most wonderful work there is.  I am now on the other side of parenting -- grand parenting.  Oh, how I have laughed and prayed for my children as they parent their children when they ask such questions as “Did I do that?”  “Did I have a temper?” “How do I handle…..?”
 My husband and I prayed over and for our children constantly. Every morning before school, we would plead the blood of Jesus over them and pray for a hedge of protection around them.  We prayed early on for their spouses and, of course, for their salvation. You can never begin too early – even in the womb.  We have two beautiful daughters; everything about them is different--their personalities, height, hair, career choices and on I could go—so we had to learn two sets of parenting skills.  Only once did we have to explain to them the difference in their disciplines.  We told them that we had to figure out what worked best for both of them; that was the end of that discussion.
Our first daughter was determined, loved to please, obedient, very analytical, petite and beautiful. Discipline for her meant spankings when she was small, and from the pre-teen years forward, we would take away privileges. The joke at our house was always, “What are you going to ground us from?  We can’t do anything anyway.” We had to be very deliberate and consistent.  In one instance, she said, “You just want to control my life,” to which I replied, “That’s my job and will be until your last name changes.”  I had to put my hands deep into my pockets to keep from doing something I would later regret.  Measure your actions; it could be a defining moment in your relationships with your children.
Our second daughter was shy, tenderhearted, easily embarrassed and didn’t like getting attention. That posed a real problem because she is very tall and beautiful.  She was also spanked, but most of the time, a very firm talking would do the trick. She would just break down and sob. Once, she went to the lake with another family and didn’t return in time for church. That wasn’t the issue itself:  she knew we expected her to be back in time. She cried most of the way back, so no serious discipline was necessary; however, there were no more trips to the lake.
We were always honest with our children:  when my husband and I made mistakes, we asked for forgiveness and moved on. We would quote Numbers 32:23:  “Be sure that your sin will find you out.” On separate occasions, they each learned the truth of this scripture.  They did things that they knew they weren’t supposed to and were “caught.” Even though Mom and Dad don’t see everything, God still does. We had given them over to the Lord early in their lives and asked Him to protect them and at the same time uncover things in their lives that we needed to know. This was not so they would be embarrassed but so that they would be protected from the things of this world.
Middle school age is tough, and I am convinced that some of those kids don’t know if they’re coming, going or have already been. This is a time when you have to stay consistent in discipline and choose your battles wisely. There is so much confusion in their bodies and minds that you just have to try to understand them. Ask questions, get details about trips with others. Don’t be afraid to be the “mean parent” and just say, “No.”
High school is difficult, and we found the senior year to be extremely so. They think they are all grown up because for the first time they are making big life decisions, such as college, career choices, etc. Everyone else has your child’s attention, and you are just the “dumb parent.”  Don’t compromise; stay consistent!
Discernment is critical during those years; trust the Lord with what He has shown you.  One morning we were getting ready for school, and I asked our daughter a question on a spiritual matter. She answered me, and I explained  that the Lord would not let me alone about it, so I had to ask. I said, “What kind of mom would I be if I didn’t ask?”  She said, “Just like the other moms.” Wow, such wisdom and blessing in a sentence! So go ahead and embarrass yourself from time to time; it will pay off.
Today, we have a different kind of relationship:  we can have coffee, lunch, just go places and be friends. I am still the mom, but we can enjoy life together. We were in a store recently with just one grandchild, and the clerk struck up a conversation about the Lord.  She made the comment that we must be a family of believers!  I said, “Yes, Ma’am--three generations taught of the Lord.” At that moment, I could not have been more blessed, not by my parenting skills but of the faithfulness of the Lord.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Moms, What if You Can't Let Go?

I remember when we were in the middle of raising our twins, and I wondered if they were ready to “fly the coop”. My first thought was no way.  But fly they did. Did they make mistakes, sure.  So did I.  But eventually empty nest has become a sweet time in life, filled with GRANDchildren and time to refocus on my man.

Someone told me early in my parenting days, make sure you love your husband more than your children, because in ideal situations you will be with him longer than you were with your parents or will be with your children.  Even the judge who presided over our adoption of twin daughters told us to make sure we get away at least once a year, just the two of us, to focus on our marriage. Because we took that to heart, after 42 years of marriage, I can say, it was SO worth it. Our girls have been gone almost half of our marriage at this point, and if we had not intentionally stayed connected during the younger parenting years, I wonder what our empty next would be like.

Often, we wonder as moms, how well we have prepared our children for adulthood. Sometimes our children choose to head off in a direction completely contrary to what we taught them. Yes, scripture says  Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, HCSB) But what about in the mean time? What if your child strays?

Once you have done ALL you can to raise and pour yourself and your faith into your child, then you must take your hands off (not your love nor your prayers) and hand them to God…sometimes over and over and over again. It is not easy, but you will experience a deeper walk with Christ as you trust Him to work in your child’s life even if you cannot see it.

I experienced peace during crisis with family many times, and I can tell you it is real. And I can vow that I would not know my God like I too, nor trust Him as I do, if I had not journeyed this way.

Find someone who has experienced something similar to what you are facing if you are in a tough time. Ask some accountability partners or prayer warriors to pray for you and your family. Get in the Word and read the truths He has for you, like Romans 4:20-21, “ He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” (HCSB) or Psalm 143:8, “Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You. Reveal to me the way I should go because I long for You.”

God will walk with you every step of the way. If you trust Him with your life, certainly you can trust Him with your heart and your child.

If you are a woman who has a friend in crisis with their child, check out this article:

Chris Adams.
Women’s Ministry Specialist, LifeWay Christian Resources
Nashville, TX

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Life Interrupted

As a little girl, all you dream of is being a wife, a mother, a success in your career of choice, and being happy.  Well, what does one do when one of these goals goes horribly astray? I was the wife, the mother, had a successful career and seemed to be very happy until one day my marriage ended without warning, and I was faced with a future as a single mom, with one income and lots of tears, uncertainties and fears.
Sixteen years had gone by, and I was in a very comfortable place, married, two beautiful girls, a wonderful career and financially sound. Then it happened. Marriage was over, two beautiful girls wondering what is going on, career on back burner and me wondering how to pay the bills. Does that sound like you? Familiar story? Unfortunately, it is all too familiar for too many of us.
Autopilot is where I found myself for many months after that day. Going to work to pay the bills, assuring the girls that we would be OK and juggling bill payments while crying myself to sleep at night wondering what in the world happened. Thanks to my amazing girlfriends at work who witnessed one of my many “breakdowns” suggested that I make two phone calls, one to my doctor for some medication and one to a Christian counselor. That was the beginning of the turnaround. I had been praying all day every day for direction and guidance from my Heavenly Father who never left me and who sustained me through the entire time, but I could not wrap my mind around the loss I was experiencing.
My counselor had me look at things in a different way. The very first thing she did was open her Bible to Mark Chapter 4 verse 35 and following. She read the passage, and it was the story of Jesus calming the storm. The part that we focused on was Jesus saying to his disciples, get in the boat we are crossing over to the other side. The significance of this story and how it related to my life was this: I will get to the other side of this life crisis and where will I let Jesus be in my boat -- the captain or a passenger. For me, who tends to be a control freak to put it mildly, allowing Jesus to be the captain was one thing that I had trouble with. But, at this point in my life, I was more than willing! That was the dawn of a new day. My prayer life changed, and my expectations were different. Each day I would get up with a new attitude that the girls and I would be fine and God was all I needed, period. Over the next few weeks I attended counseling sessions and learned how to allow God to heal my broken heart, which was a huge miracle. Then the biggest miracle of all came after a few months of debate and anguish, I forgave my ex-husband, yep, you heard me, I forgave him and I really meant it! To God be the Glory.
I made a decision that day to choose to forgive. It was not easy so don’t think I am super spiritual. God’s word commands that we forgive in order to receive forgiveness ourselves. I knew that I did not want to be that bitter woman that wears her ex-husbands infidelity as a badge and speaks badly of him in front of her children, no, that was not me. I wanted something different, something that would be honoring to God and my children. So, I choose to have an amicable relationship with their dad and never say anything about him or to him that would dishonor my girls or my God.
I had many assignments in counseling. The first one was to read a book called, “Torn Assunder: Surviving and Extramarital Affair”. The next book she had me read was, “Learning to Live, Laugh and Love again”. The last book changed my life forever. It was a Christian fiction novel, not a huge fan of fiction, but I complied. The book was called, “Redeeming Love”. I could not put it down. This book illustrated the story of how a man, Michael, would search for his true love that God had for him. When God showed her to him, he was somewhat shocked at who and what she was. Reading this book led to my next assignment… the top 10 list! Yep, you guessed it. She had me make a list of the top 10 qualities that a man must possess to be “date worthy”, with the first 3 being non-negotiable. I did not really even want to think about dating again but the reality was that it would happen, sooner than later and I needed to be ready to make godly decisions for me and my girls.
Being a single parent of two young girls is a wonderful challenge. When thinking about bringing a man into their world, you have to consider so many things. First, I did not want to date around. I prayed that God would send me a husband, quickly! That He would make it very clear who it was to be and that he would be the man who met all of my “top 10” requirements. You know, God has a remarkable sense of humor. He just laughed at my list and said, “Oh baby girl, I have that list taken care of, and I love you so much more than that, the man I have for you is so much more wonderful than you could ever hope for or imagine”.
I only attended counseling for a couple months and no longer take medicine for depression or
anxiety. God has worked many miracles in this season of my life, from healing my broken heart, to providing for me and my daughters, to directing my path as I parented alone and now to bringing the man that He chose for me to be my husband and an incredible step-dad to my girls.
So, if this story sounds like yours, hold on tight to your faith, God will answer your prayers and He will never leave you or forsake you.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My First Child Is Graduating. Please Pray for Me.

I was recently asked if I would write a BLOG…funny thing is, I really didn’t even know what a BLOG was exactly, haha! I’m still not sure I’m the girl for the job, but I thought if I didn’t try, I would never know. So, here it goes ---
I am a full-time, stay-at-home wife and mom of three amazing kids. Jordan is 18, my football player and about to graduate from high school. Uggh! Abram is 15, my preacher and drummer, and a freshman in high school, and Landree is 11, my singer and in the fifth grade. My husband Wendell and I have been in ministry most of our lives in many different areas. We also own a health insurance company. We have been happily married for 21 years in November. In May of 2011, I lost my daddy to lung cancer – truly one of the hardest things I have ever been through, then a year later in 2012, we lost Wendell’s step dad to prostate cancer. It was hard on us, our kids and our sweet mommas, but God has been so faithful, as always, to sustain us.
This year has brought about many changes in our lives. Some have been wonderful while others have been challenging. Probably one of the biggest changes coming is my oldest son, Jordan, graduating from high school next month. I have been dreading this day since the day he was born. I will not miss the homework, but oh how I miss my son when he goes off to college in July. Jordan is such a blessing to me. He has lived for God every day of his life. He asked Jesus into his heart when he was about five years old and his faith has NEVER waivered. He has stayed strong and is committed to the Lord. He has been an example to everyone he knows whether fellow students, teammates, teachers, coaches, even pastors. He is steadfast and true. He is everything I want to be when I grow up. Hahaha! He has been dating the girl of his dreams almost two years and together these two have kept Jesus first, which is rare these days. They preach purity to their peers. Thank you, Jesus! We are just blessed. Not sure what we ever did to deserve such a gift.
But here we are. Graduation is just around the corner, and I have very mixed emotions. I know God is in control, and I know He will lead Jordan every step of the way. My heart just hurts because I won’t see him every day, and I won’t know what he’s doing all the time. What I didn’t tell you is that my big 6’5”, 300 pound, size 18 shoe wearing MAN-CHILD has never even spent the night away from home, other than grandparents’ houses and church camp. Hahaha! My mom has always called him my Velcro-child. He loves being home and all of his friends love being here too. What are we going to do? Most weekends we have anywhere from 12-20 here swimming, playing ball in the yard, basketball on the court my husband had built in the backyard, watching movies, playing video games, ping pong, you name it -- wall-to-wall teens every weekend. On Sundays, usually three to four carloads roll out of the driveway and caravan over to church where they usually take up two rows of seats.Oh, I would have it any other way.
I am so excited to see what God has for Jordan next, but at the same time, I really wanna hang on to my son. I really dread leaving him at college – letting go and letting God is now taking on a whole different meaning to this momma. Today I ordered his graduation invitations, and I am not happy about it. Please pray for me as we being this next chapter of our lives. Yes, I need your prayers.
Until next time…Blessings!

Stacey Deprang

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Raising Your Children with Honesty and Good Communication by Debbie Wilson of Marriage Matters

Raising your Children with Honesty and Good Communication

In Deuteronomy 11:18-21 it says, “Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking  in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night.  Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.” The Message
Steve and I have three grown children that we raised to be very healthy, God-loving adults, spouses and parents. How did we do it?  Definitely by trial and error, and we watched many couples that were ahead of us and seemed to be raising great children.  We wanted to learn from God and others that were doing a great job.  With those two ingredients, we formed what we believe was good for our kids.  Growing up in my generation the saying “children were meant to be seen but not heard” was the case.  We wanted to hear our children’s hearts and give them the freedom to ask us anything, and we chose to give them honest answers according to the age they were.  I believe that the scriptures in Deuteronomy speak of exactly that.  It is our responsibility to teach our children truth and instruction.  If we chose not to, the world will teach them!  That is very scary to realize what the world is teaching society today.  Therefore we have to take seriously what God has instructed us to do.  Here are a few ways that we taught our children:
1.       We built a very safe environment for our children to ask anything they were curious about.  We never laughed at them or made them feel embarrassed or belittled by their questions.  This is extremely important to be able to talk to your kids about everything.  If you are not approachable, they will find someone who is.  You absolutely want it to be you, and then you must take the time to give them your attention and your wisdom on what they are asking.  Kids ask why all the time and because we are impatient or just too busy, our pat answer is “because I said so!”  That statement will leave your child feeling so insecure and unimportant in your life.  If you are not happy with the friends they are choosing, maybe you need to look at whether you are taking the time to talk to them and answer their questions and curiosity.  When our middle son was in 3rd grade, he came home one day and asked if Steve and I were getting a divorce?  I asked him why he would ask that and he said his friend at school told him that his parents were getting a divorce.  I remember Steve and I sitting down and explaining to him, at that age, that we were committed to each other and that no matter what happened in life, we would work through it.  If he had not felt he could ask that question, he would have lived with the anticipation that one day the same thing would happen to us.  When was the last time you thought about what your children may be thinking as they watch others, TV and any media?  They must have safety and freedom to ask questions….give them that!!!
2.       We dated our children.  We had 2 boys and 1 girl.  The most influential person in your child’s life is the parent of the opposite sex.  I have influenced my boys greatly, and Janae has been influenced by her Dad. Knowing that we wanted them to grow up staying pure and having a healthy view of dating, marriage and sex, we took the time to teach them about that.  Steve would take Janae out on dates from the time she was 4.  It was the highlight of her life.  She would dress up, twirl and talk about it for days.  Steve wanted to teach her how a man should treat her so that she never compromised in that area.  Boy, did it work.  She married at 24 and her husband is identical to her Dad in the way he treats her.  She was a virgin when she married because she and I talked often about sex and what could happen when she went on a date and how to avoid getting into bad situations.  As her wedding approached, she would often say “28 days til sex” as she counted down the days to her wedding.  She has a healthy marriage and sex life because we prepared her in every way to see it realistically and view it as a gift from God.  I never had that from my parents and it would have made a tremendous difference in my life if only my parents would have talked honestly to me! I must also include that your children are watching your relationship.  If you don’t model love in the way your treat each other, they will act out more on what they see than what you are telling them!!  Be careful!
3.       We provided “safe” nights for our children.  Many of you may not agree on this, but we did it and it provided ways for us to know what was going on in our children’s lives.  Periodically, especially as they were young teenagers, we would have a “safe night” talk.  This meant they could tell us anything, and they wouldn’t be punished for it.  It was amazing.  They told us things that had already happened, but it gave us the opportunity to discuss it with them and help them know how to handle that situation in the future.  We also then knew where they were being influenced and how to keep them from those situations.  Our grown children today talk about how wise that was of us!  I can honestly say that only God could have given us the insight to know how to do that. 
4.       Lastly, we very much believe that Rules without a Relationship will always lead to Rebellion.  You cannot enforce rules all the time and not build a healthy relationship with your children.  The relationship with your children is the key to the success or lack of success in your children’s lives.  They want to be taught by you, loved by you, valued by you, hugged by you, guided by you, and prayed for by you!  PLEASE see your children as God’s greatest gift that he has entrusted to you.  Slow down, be patient and take advantage of every moment you have with your children.  The time will go by so quickly and you can never get it back!
Debbie Wilson

Friday, April 12, 2013

Finding the Missing Piece by Stacy Camp

The puzzle piece represents to some people in the Autism Community the “missing piece” that will tell us what causes Autism or what will cure it.  Autism is a very broad spectrum disorder ranging from very low functioning individuals to very high functioning individuals.  In my son’s case he is very high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome; therefore just to look at him you assume he is a typical child.  When your child appears like a typical child to everyone else when he is having a major melt down in the grocery store, restaurant or wherever you may be, people just assume that you are raising a brat and are very judgmental of your parenting skills.  I used to wish he could walk around with one of those speech bubbles above his head saying “I am not bad. I have Autism”.   Sometimes Asperger’s Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, and some don’t get a diagnosis until the age of 9 which is what happened in our case.  From 4K to 3rd grade I would get notes home from school or phone calls about how “bad” my child was or how much he “played in class” or “he just won’t do the work”.  He always was moved to the front of the class often segregated from the rest of the students.  In kindergarten learning to write he would agonize over it because his letters didn’t look like the printed ones on the page and would erase until there would be holes in his paper if he didn’t crumple it up and throw it away.  I just thought he’s a perfectionist.  Finally in 2nd grade I decided enough was enough. Something was not right.  Along with dealing with what we thought were behavioral issues we were also dealing with night terrors and bed wetting and voices only he could hear.  We went to the Pediatrician who in turn sent us to a psychologist who said, “Your son is ADHD with OCD.  By third grade things were not any better he was suspended from school.  I had school officials telling me he didn’t belong in their school, and I needed to take him home or send him to public school not private school.  So back to the doctor we go. His pediatrician was honest enough to say he needed to be seen by another psychologist.  After several visits and testing with this psychologist he gives me the news, “Your son is on the Autism Spectrum. He has Asperger’s Syndrome.”   So begins the questions: What did I do? What did he do? 
Why him?
Then began the two year journey of really digging my heels in, I joined the local support group. I took him to occupational therapy. We went to a biomedical doctor in Arkansas. We did special diets, vitamin supplements, even chiropractic care.  I don’t even want to know the amount of money we have spent.  I wanted him “fixed.”  Of course I prayed but not like I should have.  I prayed for what I thought should be not what God wanted.  I wanted to keep him in private school because I wanted him to have the Christian education, but when it became apparent to me that this was not the school situation for him I decided to bring him home. He could get a Christian education at home. We did that for 2 years.  He is now in public school, and we are now dealing with all their testing to see how they can best accommodate him. Can he blossom and live up to his potential? I was so engrossed in fixing or curing my child that along the way I forgot to ask God what His plan for my son is.  I will never forget it as clear as a bell. I could hear these words inside my car driving down I-20, Stop!  Your son is perfect in My Sight. Psalm 139:13, For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Is life easy for us?  Most days not. There is always something that will disrupt his routine, but as long as we remember to keep God first and keep seeking God, we will see God’s plan unfold for Logan’s life.  Sometimes God is the only missing piece we need.  You see God has put special people in our path at church for one that love Logan and have given him an opportunity to serve in the puppet ministry where he fits in just fine and loves it.  I don’t regret all the therapies and other things I have done for Logan that played a role in getting him where he is today, but the best thing I did for my son was to remember to put God first and ask God first before I make decisions regarding Logan or any of my children for that matter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

One of Those Families by Cynthia McCutcheon

One of Those Families

While having lunch with my oldest son who happens to now be 21 (Gasp! I can’t be that old) he shared with me that we are now “one of those families.” 
My thoughts were, “Ok you’ve got my attention” and with an unsure expression I nervously asked, “One of those families?”
He explains.  “Mom, sitting in restaurants and looking around you will see all these families having a meal together.  Most sit quietly with some interaction, soft conversations, and maybe stern words given to the kids or even those devoid of anything except getting through the meal BUT then there is that family.  You know, that family in the corner having a ball not being obnoxious but truly enjoying the company of each other. You’ll even notice other tables leaning in to hear the conversation or occasionally giggling because that family is intriguing.  Well mom, our family has finally become THAT FAMILY.”
When I heard these words my heart leaped, my eyes brimmed with tears and a smile filled my body from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.  Why? Because not too long ago, our family was nowhere near being described as “That Family”.
When both my boys were very little my husband and I took a parenting class that gave us several tools. Two of these tools stuck hard with us.
The first was you are not to be your child’s best friend. Your goal was to be their friend in early adult years and beyond, but as a child they don’t need your friendship they need your guidance. At times this was very hard.  When we moved to areas where I had no friends close, it was easy to try to make my boys my best friends.  When they struggled with their friendships it was tempting to become their best bud. Both of those were unhealthy for many reasons and I would have to remember that my role was to guide them, train them up in the way they should go but not let them be my equal. Playmate at times – yes, having fun is a must!!!!
The other was the funnel theory. If you have a funnel, take it out and give it a long look. Imagine if you will that the smallest end lines up with the youngest age of the child.  The edges are closer together at that point and therefore the freedoms for the child are limited.  You wouldn’t want a child at the age of one having the freedom to drive a car or stay out to midnight would you?  So as the funnel edges are close together some are the freedoms.  As the child gets older and matures you give more freedoms.  Did you notice I threw in the word mature?  There were times that we had to pull our sons back into tighter restraints of the funnel when their maturity didn’t match the freedoms of that age.  Oh that hurt us and them, and no we weren’t very popular.  But once they were ready they were given that freedom again instilling the need for maturity to handle situations and appreciation for it in the long run. 
Yes, there have been times when both my boys thanked me for pulling them back with a tighter rein or guiding them instead of being their friend, but it didn’t come without heart ache. 
Clashes marked our lives throughout the journey of child rearing.  My husband and I clashed on parenting styles. I thought he was too harsh, and he thought I was too lenient.  My older son and my husband clashed hard on many occasions.  The battle ensued with my husband trying to pull the reigns tighter and my son fighting with all his might to break them. My younger son became jealous of the older having looser reins (he is 3 years older) and gave up on school work causing a whirlwind of issues. Each time this momma’s heart broke and cried out to God to bring my family back together.
Currently I am weeks away from my youngest son graduating from high school and the doors of the world will be opened wider to him. The time of pulling my children back into the funnel are coming close to an end but the friendship time is just beginning. So when my son declared we were now “One of Those Families,” I become like Mary the mother of Jesus and hid these things in my heart.
You may be just beginning or knee deep in the child rearing years but my sister, I want to encourage you to train up your child today and be their friend tomorrow. Maybe one day your child will tell you are “One of Those Families”!

Monday, April 8, 2013

She pondered them in her heart...I Get It

Luke 2:19, “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”                              
Luke 2:51, “…But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Who doesn’t want this for their babies?
You know how you can read a verse over and over again, and it doesn’t really mean anything to you until one day, BAM, it does? Luke 2:19 has been hitting me over and over this week and has hit me before.
There are times that my son blows me away. He can be the most obstinate,
antagonistic, strong-willed, rebellious little toot, but then he can be the most compassionate, comforting, protecting child I know. Then there are times he leads. He leads and kids who are older than he is, will follow. For example when he was four we were visiting our Spanish mission church, and something possessed him to start doing this particular activity. I didn’t think anything about it. It was silly, but he was enjoying himself and not harming anyone. Within ten minutes, children younger than Pearce up to the sixth grade were participating in this activity. They were all lying down on the top of the hill and rolling down it like little burritos. The pastor at the church came and spoke to me and talked of Pearce and his leadership. The pastor said, “One day, Pearce will be a preacher.” While I don’t wish this particular role on anyone, if God calls him to it, then God will lead him through it. I still can’t help but ponder Pearce’s ability to lead or what the pastor said.

And then there are the times that the depth of his wisdom and knowledge Pearce has, blows me away. For example, Pearce had asked Jesus into his heart, and Patrick and I had talked to him about it, but we just wanted to make sure, so we took Pearce to talk with our worship pastor. Bryan, our worship pastor, sat down and had a conversation that Patrick and I just observed. Bryan and Pearce have had an ongoing relationship since Pearce was a baby. Bryan asked Pearce what it meant to be baptized, and of course, Pearce knew, but he also pointed out that being baptized isn’t what saved you. Pearce also knew the symbolism of the baptism and what it meant once he came up out of the water. He knew he was expected to live a new way of life with Christ in the center of it. WOW! I pondered and I treasure this conversation in my heart.
And then there were the bad dreams he had on Wednesday night of this week. He had three of them. He came into our bedroom after the first, but he couldn’t remember it, but he was visibly shaken. The second dream involved him and his daddy walking in the woods, and before the snake could be killed, Pearce was bitten by a cotton mouth. His third dream involved Pearce being in the woods in the dark with a little boy and as they walked past a couple of men, one turned out to be the devil. It was obvious that this scared Pearce greatly. He told me, “Momma, I told him to go in Jesus’ name. In Jesus’ name he had to leave.” WOW! How many adults would know to say that?
Whatever I’m studying and learning in the Bible during my quiet time and my study time, I share with my children. For the first half of this school year, when I woke them up, I dressed them in the spiritual armor. Tickling their feet when I put on the shoes, pinching their bellies when I put on the belt of truth, mussing their hair when I put on the helmet of salvation, beating their chests when I put on the breastplate of righteousness, and making fun of their weak arms when I put on the sword and shield – this was our ritual. Recently, I told them about Jesus being tempted by Satan and how Jesus handled it and how we can handle temptations and dealing with the devil. Mommas, whatever you are feeding on you pass on to your babies! Is what your feeding on worth passing on?
Trust me when I say that I am not bragging because it isn’t anything that I’ve done. It is Christ in me. It is Pearce listening and learning the things to which we expose him too. And it is God working in Pearce. It’s when these things come together that things happen in the lives of our children, and I’m just so amazed.
In Luke 2 the Bible says several times how Jesus’ parents marveled, pondered, treasured, and were astonished by the things they saw in Jesus. I totally get it now. It’s amazing to see God working in the lives of our children. They are worth the investment. Just make sure you are equipped to invest.