God's Girl

Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

Block Party

 

Today, I just feel like I’m just not enough. It’s a familiar feeling. I’m always so busy looking at the other side of my fence, wishing I had that grass. I see the perfectly manicured lawn of another. My own life seems imperfect, messy and just plain ackward in comparison.

A thought occurs to me as I gaze across the way. I may see that perfect lawn, but I don’t know what goes on in that house. I don’t know anything about their life. Even if they are a close friend, I can’t see inside their heart. If I want what someone else has, would I be willing to take all of what they have? Would I be prepared to deal with their past, their present ,and their future? Could I hold their secrets, their burdens, their temptations, and their failures as well as their successes in my heart? Would I be willing to let go of everything I have?

Looking at social media is a lot like looking at a perfectly manicured lawn. It’s an illlusion. It’s what I present myself to be, but it’s not me. There is so much more to me than pictures and words on a computer screen. It’s a great place to have chats with friends and I enjoy looking at posts. It’s also a great place to compare myself to others. It can be the perfect climate to cultivate loneliness and that “less than” feeling. Is that really what I want growing in my yard? Social media has it’s place. So do I.

I have a place because God is making a place for me.

I have a place because God made a place for me when he formed me in the womb.

I have a place because Jesus took my place.

I stop gazing across that fence.

I put down the computer.

I drop the comparisons.

I look in front of me.

I see what I already have.

It makes me drop to my knees in praise.

It fills my heart with gratefulness.

It restores my joy.

My hope is renewed.

I know what I hold.

How could I so easily forget?

My family.

My friends.

This love.

This life.

Love has saved me.

Love flows through me.

Love surrounds me.

My lawn is suddenly a brilliant green. All I want to do is play in it, to dance, dwell in it, and to soak in it’s beauty. I can no longer see the fence that separates me from others. I want them to join in this celebration of life, too. I want what once was a pity party, to become a block party. I want to knock the fences that separate and compare down and let the fabulous love of God flood us all! I want to drink up His love on this hot summer day and pass on a cold cup of his love to someone suffering in the “heat” of this life. I want them to join me in being quenched by the water of  His bottomless love.

So my friends, who’s ready for a block party? Woot! Woot!

Let’s celebrate all we have today and just let tomorrow handle itself.

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Magnificent Moms: Interview with a Mom of a Military Family

 

Today, I decided I wanted to interview myself. I am pretty passionate about military families, so I thought I would share a little about being a mom of a military family.

My name is April Morgan. I have been married for 15 years to Warren, my favorite guy in the world. Fourteen of those fifteen years of marriage, I was an army wife. My husband recently retired after 20 years of military service. We have two children, an eleven year old girl and a 8 year old boy. I will probably call them my “babies” until the day I die.  I am a homeschool mom, a woman who deeply loves God, and a writer. I also hold a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

I must begin this interview by saying that I never thought I would be an Army wife. I fully expected my husband to get out after we were married. I was pegged our first year of marriage as “one of those wives who wouldn’t make it”. I hope knowing these things encourages you.

 

What is the biggest challenge (or challenges) you have faced as a mom of  a military family?

There are lots of challenges! Most are the regular challenges that are faced by those outside the military. There are times when those challenges are magnified by the adventures and stresses of military life. Deployments and moves are challenges that most moms of military face. Reuniting after deployments and predeployment (a few months before a soldier deploys) are also challenging.

 

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mom of military children?

I get to see the strength of my kids. They amaze me. Kids are really a lot more resilient than we give them credit for. Deployments are tough. Being a military kid isn’t easy, but they have the ability to do more than survive. These kids can thrive with a strong support system and a whole lot of prayer. I get to love my hero and show my kids how to sacrifice for something you love.

 

What is one thing you feel you did really well?

I made sure that the kids felt connected as possible to their father during times apart. Sometimes it took a lot of connecting of the dots. I would remind the kids to make things and get them excited to make care packages. We would set up Skype times as much as possible.

Sometimes I would be angry due to the stresses of military life, but I made sure not to talk my husband or the army down to the kids. I stayed as positive as possible and reminded the kids that “mom and dad are a team”.

I also asked my husband to enroll us in his own personal gift of the month club. I asked him to send us something at least once a month to remind us that he was thinking of us.

 

What do you wish you had known about being a mom of military kids?

I really wish I had not thought the world depended on me so much. That’s a lot of pressure. I didn’t take the breaks I needed away from the kids because I felt they needed me. I didn’t factor my own needs as much as the needs of others. As women, most of us feel that we need to care for others, but sometimes we neglect ourselves in the process. I didn’t always take care of myself well, which caused me to get run down at certain points. I regret losing my patience with the kids and letting the house go more than I should have.

I also believed the lie that “if I just stayed busy”, I would be better off. This in my case, just wasn’t true. I would go through periods where I ran myself too much and too hard, then my body forced me to “put on the brakes.” This wasn’t good for my family life.

 

If you were sitting face to face with a new mom of military what would you say to her?

I would listen about her excitement, doubts and fears. Every experience is different and it’s tough to know how to navigate it until you are actually in it.

Here are a few things I would say:

1) Do your best, but give yourself grace. No one is perfect. You won’t do this perfectly and that’s okay.

2)There is a definite cycle that comes with so many deployments.

It usually goes something like this:

Predeployment is the few months before the soldier deploys. He may need to distance himself a bit so he can say goodbye and mentally prepare himself for his upcoming mission. You may fight before he leaves. Be prepared for this and know that it really doesn’t say anything about your relationship. Prepare your kids by letting them know how much love your family shares and that things may be changing but love remains the same.

During predeployment we would go to Build-A-Bear and get a bear for each child with Dad’s voice in it. It contained a simple message with something like, “I love you so much. I will miss you. I can’t wait to see you again. Don’t forget how much I love you.” I like the idea of any predeployment ritual the kids can look forward to.

Deployment is the time that the soldier is away doing the mission given to him by the military. The time after your soldier leaves will be awkward at first. It’s kind of like a child trying to take it’s first steps. It will feel wobbly and unsure, but pretty soon you will find a flow that works for you and your family. You will be amazed at how strong you are becoming.  Your kids will amaze you, too. At the beginning of the deployment they will test you. They need to know the rules are still the rules. Don’t take this personally. Remind yourself that when they test and you don’t change the boundaries, you are providing security, something they need desperately during this time.

If you have certain family traditions, try to keep them the same during deployment, as much as possible. We had one Christmas when Dad watched the kids on Skype as they walked into the room on Christmas morning after Santa came.

Reunion Get ready! He’s coming home.  By this time you can’t wait to collapse on the couch and truly relax together. It’s kind of like waiting for a baby to arrive. You start nesting. You get the house into shape. The mood is usually upbeat in your home. As you are preparing, make sure to explain to your kids that Daddy will be excited, but he will also be tired and may just want to take it easy for a while. Talk with the kids about how to make Dad’s return special. You have been handling everything during the deployment, when your husband comes home this may change. Conflict will happen at some point. You can compare this to the first year of marriage. It takes time to get adjusted again.

After a deployment or two, I started to understand that most conflict and tension that occurred was due to this cycle as well as the ups and downs of usual family life. When you understand that sometimes it is just the cycle at work and there aren’t any other major issues in your relationship, it helps so much. I would repeatedly say, “This is the cycle. This isn’t us.”  I truly believe that the military doesn’t break a family. It is just a magnifying glass. It magnifies the strengths and weaknesses in your relationships. This can be a blessing if you let it. When gold is purified, it is exposed to a tremendous amount of heat. That heat causes the yucky stuff (dross) to rise to the top. When that happens the impurities are easily seen that were not apparent before. When those impurities are skimmed off, the gold becomes more precious. The “heat” you will be exposed to as a military family will be unpleasant at times, but you can use it as a tool to grow your family into to something incredibly precious.

3) Create a good circle of friends.

I loved having friends who were supportive during this time. Both military friends and non-military, family, and church family made up this support system. I worked hard to find positive people. You do not need negative people around you during military life…period! I made a pact with my best friend that we would not talk our husbands down when we were around people who were talking about their husbands in a negative light. This has made a huge difference. Avoid people who create and live in constant drama. You will get sucked in and your kids will suffer. Some of the best friends I’ve ever had were made during military life!

4) If you want to love your kids well, love God, love your husband and love yourself well. The rest will come.

5) Don’t try to be happy all the time around your kids. When they see you going through a range of emotions, it reminds them that it’s okay to experience those emotions, too.

6) If you need help ask. You are only weak when you need help and don’t get it. You don’t have to prove how strong you are to others. When other military families see you asking for help, they will be more willing to ask for it, too.

7) Pray all the time. Pray about everything. Keep a list of what you are thankful for, so you can look at it on the hard days.

There are so many other things to military life. Moving is another major change. Most of the things I talked about for deployments can be applied to moves as well.

In the military you will find a family like no other. People who truly understand what you are going through. Cherish that. My husband and I love that he is retired, but we also miss the close community we had with other brothers and sisters in the military.

Military Moms out there, what would you say are the challenges and rewards of being a military family?

What would you say to a new military mom?

Agree or disagree with the things in this interview? Comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Fun: Creative Ways to Talk with Your Family About God #1

Throughout the summer, I will be posting how to use typical family summer activities to talk with your family about God in a simple way.

The first activity highlights unity and individuality using S’mores.

I’m listing this as my first family activity because…well…who doesn’t LOVE a good S’more!

 S’mores

What are we using tonight to make our S’mores?

Is each ingredient we used exactly the same?

Are each of us in this family the same?

What makes each of us different?

Is every Christian the same?

What would it be like if everyone was exactly the same?

Do you think it’s important to work together to help each other in our family?

What about our church?

Why is this important?

What would happen if  you decided to make a S’more using only a graham cracker?

What about only chocolate?

Our family and our church family are alot like S’mores.

Each part of a S’more is different.

God gave you something that He gave no one else to use in just the way He wants you to use it.

When you do what you naturally love to do in the way God wants you to do it, you are living His purpose for you and showing His love.

You may have heard this verse before.

Try saying your name instead the word “you”.

Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

Psalm 139:13-14 says:  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

” I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.”

You are loved by God.

This world needs what you have to give.

 

Each person in our family and our church is different too.

What happens when we all come to together and God’s love warms us?

Psalm 133 says: ” How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

It creates something pretty darn good!

This good thing when people come together with all their differences to serve the purpose of showing God’s love is called unity.

Apart we can be a little bit good, but together we are a whole new wonderful creation!

 

 

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Moms in Ministry An Interview with Amy Covington

I would like to welcome Amy Covington to today’s edition of Magnificent Moms in May.

Today we be talking with Amy about being a mom in ministry.
Amy, please tell us about your family, yourself, and your profession.

I have been in ministry for 15 years. I was ordained in 2003. The church I am currently serving in is the 3rd church I have served with. This is my second church as a lead pastor. I have been married to my very supportive husband Chris for 20 years. I have three wonderful children, Jenifer (16), Grace (13), and Carter (9).
1) What is the most rewarding thing about being a mom in ministry?

I love the experiences our family gets to have as a result of serving as a pastor. We get to do ministry together. We get to do life together and really live out our faith. It’s so rewarding to see the kids living their faith and loving the church.
2) What is one of the biggest challenges?

It can be a real balancing act! We need time to just be a family. It can be tough when the kids can’t  be with me. I have to make sure I am giving attention to my family and the church.

Sometimes expectations for children of people in ministry can be unrealistic, although I have seen this get much better over time. Expectations for families like ours can include having the perfect marriage and angelic children. Sometimes people can expect pastors to be on call 24 hours a day, although I have seen this get better over time as well.

3) What qualities do you feel are important for the spouse of someone in the ministry to have?

First of all, they must love Jesus.

Secondly, they must view the relationship as a partnership. It’s important for the church to support my husband and recognize his capabilities as a good parent. We are equals. There can be no checking out. Both parents must value and invest in the relationships with their children.
3) If you were sitting across from a new mom in ministry what would you tell her?

I would tell her to remember that she can’t be all things to all people. It’s easy to compromise family and not realize it. You have compassion and want to help and love others. You think this person needs me, so I have to help them right now. This is something everyone tells you, but it takes time to learn how to be wise in this area.
4) How can others best support you as you fill both roles?

Prayer!

Please pray for us.

Please also understand that the role of a pastor, much like any other profession must include boundaries. True emergencies are very important to me. The church family is important to me as well, but I must balance those out with the needs of my family. At times different roles may win out, but overall keeping these things balanced is important for a healthy church and a healthy family.

Please understand that God can and does call women into ministry. The support of the church and those around me in this role is key.

Encouragement from people is huge. I need it from my church. Without encouragement pastors can start to doubt. Most pastors go through a sort of ebb and flow throughout their time in a church. This happens in every church. There are wonderful seasons of encouragement that lift your soul and then there are times when you wonder, “Am I just an employee?, which weighs down your soul. During these times I remember that God has called me. Remembering that you are called has to be clear and a source of strength. It is the unshakable foundation in shaky times. Psalm 139 encourages me. It says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

I also keep a file of letters and cards of encouragement. I use them as a running tape of encouragement in my head.

Sundays are very physically and emotionally draining. I usually have a headache on Mondays. Mondays are great days to get encouragement.
5) What is one thing you wish someone would have told you about being a MIM?

It is possible to be in full-time ministry and a full-time Mom!

There will be days you feel like you fail. It will be ok.

Use your support system.

Make sure you have a good one.
6) Who or what have been your biggest influences? Who or what is shaping you into the mother you will be tomorrow?

My mom and mother-in-law have both always put family first. They sacrificed their own needs for those they love. My biggest influences in ministry are two of the women I watched lead in ministry while I was growing up. Their actions and leadership spoke, “this is possible” to my childlike heart even when I didn’t know I would be going into ministry.

Prayer is always shaping me. I ask for God’s wisdom. How can I relate to others? How can I walk with them?

Jen Hatmaker is influencing me also. She reminds me that no one is perfect.
7) What one thing would your children want to other MIMs to know about being a child of a MIM?

My kids are great kids, but they are still kids. Normal kids that live in glass houses. This isn’t easy. Everyone has their idea of what a child of a pastor should be. Let that go. Let them be who they are. Let them grow and make mistakes. Don’t expect them to take the lead. Let them do it if they choose to. For example, if they can sing don’t expect them to be excited about getting up and singing in front of everyone just because they are children of leaders. One day they may lead, but I would like to see them do that naturally, if they choose.

8) Amy, I once saw a quote taped to your computer that I often think about. It read, “To be a leader you must have the hide of a rhinoceros and the heart of a child”. How do you think this applies to being a mom in ministry?

You have to be tough! People will try to tear you down. You have to love them no matter what because God’s love is meant for everyone. Sometimes you will want to react to it. Don’t! Always choose God’s love.

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Moms in Ministry: Janey Pitts

Today I will be starting a two part Moms in Ministry Interview.

If you are not a Mom in Ministry, there are still wonderful tips in both interviews on how to support your local families who serve in ministry.

Today I would like to welcome Janey Pitts.

Janey, please tell us about your family, yourself, and your profession.

My name is Janey Pitts. I have been married to my favorite person on the planet, Cory, for almost 18 years. We have two amazing children, a boy who is almost 14, and a girl who is 11. I have been working with students in various capacities for the past 22 years, and am currently the Student Pastor at New Work Fellowship in Hopkinsville, Ky. My husband is the Teaching Pastor at the same church. I have an undergrad degree in journalism from Samford University, and a Masters from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I also am a blogger at www.JaneyPItts.com where I focus on helping people see the Bible in a very applicable way.

1) What is the most rewarding thing about being a mom in ministry?

The most rewarding thing about being a mom in ministry is probably the same thing as being a mom not in ministry. I love when my kids apply the Bible to situations they are dealing with in their lives. I love when I hear them quote scripture, or sing worship songs. I love seeing their heart for God played out in their relationships with people. It is a bonus getting to be with my son at youth events, and next year, my daughter will be there too. Although my son and I usually don’t talk at youth events – I don’t want to cramp his style, of course!

2) What is one of the biggest challenges?

There are several large challenges in ministry as a mom. First, time can be a challenge. There are times when ministry needs seem to be at a high. It taps into family time, and can steal hours, and even days from your family if not guarded. I am called to minister, but that calling first starts at home. Sometimes when something major happens that order is trumped, but you have to gage it carefully. Another challenge is that some people – very few really – immediately judge kids as “pastors kids” meant in a negative light. I think this is less prevalent now than say 20 years ago, but it still exists. I have learned the people who are verbally judging mine or other pastors kids are the ones who have trouble with their own and are looking to take the attention off of their family. It still is hard when you know that is going on, but I try to keep my eyes on Jesus and know that they are the ones hurting.

3) If you were sitting across from a new mom in ministry what would you tell her?

Make sure your kids see you read your Bible at home. Make sure you pray with them, and practice what you preach. Kids who see this don’t rebel later to the whole “church” thing. Being a Christian is a way of life. You need to live it all the time because you want to, not because you have to. And it’s good for your kids to see you fail sometimes. You’re going to lose it. They will at some point make you crazy. Apologize, and let them see God’s grace in your life. We’re not called to be perfect, we are called to be obedient.

4) How can others best support you as you fill both roles?

Pray for us. As a minister, I am privy to lots of things I wish I wasn’t sometimes. The weight of ministry can take its toll, and it plays out emotionally at home. My patience may be less. My nerves may be frayed. The power of prayer – and knowing folks care enough to pray – is huge. Verbal encouragement is a biggie, too. And sometimes just an honest hug and “How ya doing” means the world, even if I can’t tell you about all that is going on with others and their burdens that I am helping carry.

5) What is one thing you wish someone would have told you about being a MIM?

How fantastic it is. I had no idea how much fun it is and continues to be when my kids are in my area of ministry. I can see their “ah-ha” moments even when they don’t know I’m watching. I get to hear comments they make that are awesome. I get to watch them live their life with their peers and see that side of them.

6) Who or what have been your biggest influences? Who or what is shaping you into the mother you will be tomorrow?

A man named Poker Boyd who started www.smeonline.net is amazing. My husband interned under him as a college student, and he and his wife have helped mold both of us in ministry. Sometimes when ministry is hard, I’ll ask myself “What would Poker do?” and then proceed from there. As far as shaping me as a mom, I have the best mom and mother in law a girl could ask for. They both have very different strengths and I get a double bonus getting to draw knowledge from both of their experiences.

7) What one thing would your children want other MIMs to know about being a child of a MIM?

It’s actually fun having your mom be in charge of a ministry you are involved in. (Wow! Who knew!?!)

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How to Thrive in May

May is a busy time.

Graduations.

Goodbyes.

Kids with Spring Fever.

Banquets.

Celebrations.

Wedding plans.

Birthdays.

Vacations to plan.

Bills due.

Sports to attend.

The list goes on and on.

And that’s just the expected stuff!

Add the unexpected to the month of May and it can become a toxic mix of tiredness, stress, and negativity.

The tough thing about the unexpected is that it’s just so darn, well…unexpected!

How do you stay sane when people let you down, schedules overwhelm and life just feels like it’s crowding in on you?

I am not an organizational guru.

If you are looking for a organizational tips, you got the wrong blog!

This is all about controlling  the junk that creeps into my mind during busy seasons.

My notepad on my cell phone is my best buddy when I’m letting negative thoughts invade.

I keep a few simple lists on my phone’s notepad.

1) My thankful list.

Each day I think of a few things to be thankful for. Sounds simple? It is. The key to this is to find very specific things about each day. I get past the usual and look a little deeper. Sometimes not deep at all…just the obvious stuff around me I never notice. The stuff I take for granted. The kinda stuff that makes the everyday beautiful when you think about it. Little everyday miracles.

We went to a ball game last week. I thanked God for the smell of fresh popcorn and singing “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” with thousands of people. I thanked God for the sweet old couple caught by the “Kiss Cam”. That couple reminded me that love can and does last.

2) My “what I love about you” list.

I make one of these for each member of my family. My husband and each child have a list devoted to them. When I have one of those “Wow, this person is just awesome!” moment, I add it to my list. When my kids won’t listen or my husband frustrates me, I take a peek. This helps so much. It takes the wind out of those times when I just want to say, “I’m done”.

3) My new list. (The one I haven’t started yet.)

This will be my “What I Love About Me” list. I’m not going to lie, something about this feels, just…well..AWKWARD. That’s okay. If I feel the freedom to put myself down. If I can say negative things to myself, why can’t I combat them with the positive?

I can’t trust my thoughts to be reality because they aren’t.

Using these lists lets me take a look at these thoughts for a moment.

It reminds me that some are just plain toxic and should not be invited in.

You wouldn’t let your computer go unprotected would you?

How much more important is it to get rid of the stuff that starts “viruses” in your brain that can destroy the precious things in your life?

Now it’s your turn.

What do you think of making lists like this?

What is a healthy thing you do to stay sane?

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The Gift Giver

“Mom, why do I have to do the things I do?”, she said as I tucked her into bed.

I sighed.

I could relate.

“Well, the things in you aren’t bad, but they do have to be used in the right way. That’s why we correct you. We want you to learn.”

She seemed to be soaking my words in.

“Even my stubbornness?”

As I gave her a hug, I gently whispered, “Yes, even stubbornness.”

 

The next day, I asked her to come sit with me for a moment.

“Do you remember what we talked about last night just before bed?’

She nodded.

Did you know that most of the people in the bible were stubborn?

“Yes, Mom, they didn’t follow God and they got in trouble.”

I could almost feel her roll her eyes.

She assumed she knew exactly where I was going with this.

I surprised her when I said, “Well, there were those people. That’s true. That isn’t what  I’m talking about. The great people of God…the ones that God used to do really cool stuff, all had one thing in common. They were stubborn. They stubbornly followed God. Let’s think for a moment about Noah. How was he stubborn?” She smiled, then replied, “He didn’t listen when people made fun of him for making that boat.”
“That’s right, honey. I don’t want you to feel bad about who you are. God made you. He put you together while you were inside me. He designed you in a fearful and wonderful way. He gave you everything you need to do what he wants you to do. He has a plan just for you. It is for no one else, so you don’t have to be like everyone else. Understand?”

We talked together a while longer.

After she left the room, I sat on my bed and thanked God.

I’m screwed up and I’ve screwed up, too.

I get frustrated.

I compare.

“Why can’t I be like___?”

Sometimes I just compare myself to the version of the perfect woman, perfect mom, wife or Christian living inside my head.

It’s a standard I have dreamed up.

My list of what I am not bogs me down.

I feel the weight.

The “never enough” consumes me.

The truth is I will never be enough.

The Giver of good gifts gave me what I need to be who I am.

He gave me everything I need to do what he wants me to do.

It’s when I try to live up to what I think I should be, that I get in trouble.

This doesn’t mean I should not grow.

Of course, I need to grow.

I just don’t need to grow to be more like you.

You don’t need to grow to be more like me either.

The goal is to become more Him.

That’s where I find the real me.

The goal is to serve the God that I love while doing what I love best.

It’s like opening the gift you have always wanted.

When you play with it you feel delight.

Living my purpose is a lot like that.

It’s natural.

It’s instinctive.

You don’t need to tell a child to open up a gift and play with it.

Heck, they don’t even care how it’s wrapped.

They just want the treasure inside!

I hear God speaking, “Enjoy my creation. I made you. Love yourself like I love you, then you will be able to love others the way I do.”

Just like a parent loves watching a child open gifts on Christmas morning, my God loves watching me open his gifts.

Why spend time with an unopened gift just because I don’t like the way it’s wrapped?

God loves to see me open up my purpose with delight.

He loves to see me play with it.

He loves to see me walk in it.

He loves to see me pursue it, dream it and inspire with it.

What gift does he have waiting just for you?

Have you opened your heart up to him?

Rip open the paper.

See what’s inside.

What do you dream about?

If you could do anything with no limitations (time, money, etc.), what would you choose?

God made YOU who YOU are for a reason!

Who YOU are is a gift!

Who needs what you have to give?

Tell me what you dream about in the comment section.

What frustrates you about yourself?

How can God use that quality?

 

 

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Magnificent Moms: Mothers of Special Needs Children

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I would like to welcome Sandy Joiner to today’s edition of Magnificent Moms in May.

 

Sandy, tell us a little about yourself, your family, and your profession.

My name is Sandy Joiner.

I have been married to my husband Kendall for 24 years.

We have two children – Susan is almost 21 and Dylan is almost 18.

Both children will be graduating from high school this year.

Susan is in a special needs class which allowed her to attend school until the age of 21.

Dylan is graduating and will be attending college at Campbellsville University majoring in pre-med/biology and has committed to play baseball there.

 

 When did you know your child had special needs?

How did you react?

Did you make any decisions based on your reaction?
We realized when Susan was about 6 months old that she did not have the gross motor skills that typical children do.

She could only sit if you sat her up.

She did not yet crawl.

As the months passed, she still did not sit, crawl, or walk.

At 11 months, she began receiving therapy at a local university through their infant program.

Within 7 months, she had gained her gross motor skills.

However, at the same time, she was losing her verbal skills.

We did not have a definitive diagnosis until Susan was almost 4 years old.

There was no test at the time for Rett Syndrome.

When she was diagnosed, I was torn.

I was glad we finally had a name for what was going on; although at the time it was a horrible diagnosis.

I was also asking, “why me?”

God used John 9:1-5 to help me to see that Susan was here to bring light and hope into the world.

She was perfect in His image and to help others see Him through her.

 

What has been one of the most challenging things about having a special needs child?

It was more challenging emotionally when Susan was younger.

Susan looks like a typical child and between the ages of two and three she went through a regression stage.

She cried a lot.

People would stare and act like I couldn’t control my child.

I learned to deal with the stares.

There is a definite learning curve with anything.

Rett Syndrome is no different.

At this time, the most challenging thing is lifting Susan.  She does not walk independently and needs help in all aspects of her life (eating, dressing, getting in and out of vehicles, etc.)

 

What has been the most rewarding thing?

Seeing her smile.

She has the best smile.

Even if I have a horrible day, I see her smile and it makes me happy.

If she can still smile even though she depends on someone for all of her needs, why am I grumpy and upset?

 

What would you say to a mother who has just found out her child will have special needs?

Think of your child as a child first.  The special need is just a part of your child like hazel eyes or blonde hair.  It should not define the whole child.

Be an advocate for your child – you are their voice.

 

What do you wish you had known?

I wish we could have gotten an earlier diagnosis.

I also wish that at the beginning of the journey I would have realized just how many blessings we would receive through this beautiful little girl.

 

What are some things to keep in mind when mothering siblings of children with special needs?

Make sure the sibling(s) understand that they are special too.

A lot of times children just hear the word “special” – they don’t hear special needs.

This can make them feel that they aren’t special.

Explain to them that God makes us all special – just in different ways.

Allow them to have a childhood too.

We have tried to make sure that Dylan has been involved in different activities.

He has played baseball, football, and soccer.

He has been involved in school activities.

We have always let him know that he and Susan are both loved; however, they each get our attention in the way they need it at the time.

Fair and equal is not always the same for everyone.
What are some things you would like people to know that do not have special needs children?

Do not assume that I have it all together.

I am just like any other parent – some days are better than others.

I am doing the best I can – but sometimes it would be nice to have help.

The older Susan gets, the more difficult it is to find help.

Offer to help even if you are not sure what to do.

It is the little things that mean so much.

 

Who or what has really impacted/inspired you as mother?

My mom always inspired me.

She raised two children while working a full time job.

She was always there for us at school.

When I was expecting Dylan and wasn’t able to lift anything heavier than 5 pounds, she put her life on hold and came to help me with Susan.

She was my rock during that time.

My mom passed away 16 months ago and there is not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could tell her something that one of the kids has done.

She was always so proud of both of them.
Do you have any links, resources, books, etc. you would like to share?

For more information about Rett Syndrome:

Girlpower2cure.org – Susan has a page on this website. You can read about Susan and donate money to help find a cure for Rett Syndrome.

Rettsyndrome.org

Local mental health agencies have great resources for all disabilities

 

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Magnificent Moms: Parenting Teens

 

I’d like to welcome Kimberly Anderson to today’s edition of Magnificent  Moms.

Today we will be discussing a topic that bewilders, confuses and frustrates even the most seasoned parents: Teenagers!

 

Kimberly Anderson, tell us a little about you, your family and your profession

I have been married for 16 years, I have three children ages 15, 13, and 8.

I am an Army wife and a barista at Starbucks.

I have stayed at home most of my children’s lives and just recently got a job.

What is the biggest challenge (or challenges) you have faced as a  mother of teenagers?

I would say my biggest challenge I have faced as a mom of  teens is judgement of the way consequences are determined and or adults being unforgiving of mistakes my teens have made.

My husband being in the Army also produces a large challenge because he is gone for periods of time.

 

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a  mother of teenagers?

I love talking with my teens about their view of  the world.

I love having the chance to understand them because of the challenges of my own youth.

I love connecting with them when I am able to reveal truths they didn’t know before.

I have learned more about God’s grace and mercy in the last two years than in my whole life combined……that may be the most rewarding part.
I think that when you are the example of mercy and grace to your children you learn more of God’s love for you and also draw nearer to him in the process.
I think that right now having kids that stand up for themselves and others, make mistakes and dust themselves off and move on, and that are doing well in school and socially is rewarding.
 What is one thing you feel you have done (or you are doing) really well?

I think that learning to have mercy and grace with my kids.

When they want to pull away I am determined to not let them.

This is best thing we have done for them and ourselves.

 

What do you wish you had known about being the mother of teens?

I wish that someone would have told me that they are supposed to make mistakes, the teens and us……that when we let them learn from a choice we are giving them the opportunity for wisdom and change.

 

What did you learn the hard way?

When we try to protect them from everything bad or save them from their bad choices we rob them of their opportunity to succeed later.

I learned that lesson the hard way.

Watching my son repeatedly make the same mistakes for  nine months until he said to me, “It’s my mistake, not yours.”

 I think that forgiveness is the most important part of parenting a teen.

 

 If you were sitting face to face with mother of tweens  or children in their early teens what would you say to her?

Sitting with moms of 9-12 year-olds,  I would say, it starts now.

Get your kids talking to you and don’t give up or let up until forever, even when you are mad.

Talk, talk, talk.

I mean get them talking to you and you telling them you love them, no matter what they do.

It would never change….tell them all the time.

Let them, fall and fail now, before high school because the lesson learned now prevents one in high school.

Ask them about their friends, their dreams, their loves.

Take them seriously, because they are.

But don’t take yourself too seriously.

Be silly, enter their world just a bit, learn their language but don’t use it.

 

What or who has been the most important influence to you as a parent?

My biggest influence on my parenting has been God, but he was working through Mark Gregston,

I have read almost all his books.

Mark Gregston also has a Facebook page and podcast.

He changed my authoritative parenting into God inspired parenting.

 

What goals do you have for your children?

My goals for my children are for them to become happy productive adults who love God.

 

I would also like to ask your two teens this question: “What is one thing most teenagers want their parents to understand or know?”

Noah answered the question like this. …”Wow! That’s hard. I guess that we are growing up. I mean we aren’t babies anymore, but we don’t know what we don’t know. It’s a hard question Mom cause we don’t fight like most my friends. ….”

For those of you that don’t speak teen fluently: “Moms please realize we aren’t little kids anymore, but we do need your guidance. There is stuff we don’t know and we want to have a good relationship with you so you can guide us through that stuff.”

 

Resources:

Friends, here are a few of the resources Kimberly Anderson refers to throughout her interview:

http://www.heartlightministries.org – Parenting Today’s Teens

“Tough Guys and Drama Queens”  by Mark Gregston

I would also like to add one of my own:

“Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl” by Dannah Gresh

This has been a great resource for me as I am learning how to best help my 11 year old daughter through her tween years.

 

We hope this interview has encouraged you in your parenting  journey.

Now its your turn!

What has been the most rewarding/challenging  thing for you as you parent tweens/teens?

What is one thing you wish you knew?

What are some great resources you would like to recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

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The Door

 

Tonight my husband and I decided to watch “Saving Mr. Banks”.

We had heard that the content was not very kid friendly, so we warned the kids not to come in the living room while we watched the movie.

While we were watching our son walked through the room to get something from the kitchen.

He had the eye closest to the t.v. closed and the other eye open as he bolted through the room.

This was his version of making sure not to watch!

My husband and I both laughed.

We were amazed that he didn’t bump into something!

We told him, “just let us know when you need something and we will pause the movie for you, next time, Buddy.”
This reminds me of the times God has told me to stay away from something.

I guess there is a rebellious teen hidden in me somewhere that says, “I will only do it a little bit. What does it really hurt?”

The only problem with that type of thinking is I can’t just sin “a little”.

Sin is sin.

If you tell your child not to do something, will they get very far if they tell you, “I only did it a little bit”?

Of course, not!

Your child either obeys you or disobeys you.

You still love your child, but disobedience has its consequences.

It puts a strain on relationship with that child.

Suddenly doubt has been introduced into the relationship.

The child begins by doubting that the parent is really good.

The parent begins to doubt the child.

Questions form on both sides.

Questions like, “Can I really trust what this person says to be true?”
This is what also happens in my relationship with God.

I don’t just begin to doubt Him in the one area I disobeyed Him in, I begin to slowly, subtly doubt Him in every area.

I lose trust in Him.

I slowly pull away.

This is especially true when the sin I become involved in doesn’t seem to hurt me or anyone else.

Would you drink a drink with just “a little” poison in it?

Would you tell yourself, it may not hurt me too much?

That line of thinking would be just plain silly!

Sin is poison!

I may not “feel” it’s affects, but the effects are there.

If the poison doesn’t kill you quickly, it will do the job slowly.

Not only will I begin to doubt my relationship with God, I will begin to doubt those closest to me.

Why?

When I hide something, I begin to think others are hiding something, too.

Suddenly, that sin that seemed so harmless at the time has poisoned my mind, my relationship with God and my relationship with others.

Sin always comes with a price tag.

That’s exactly why Jesus had to come.

He paid the price for me.

He paid the price for ALL my sin.

Now, I don’t have to worry about being separated from God’s love because of what he did for me.

Nothing can separate me from God’s love, but I can choose to separate myself.

I have found that often after my children have disobeyed, they choose to be alone.

They will become angry and shut the door while they sulk inside their room.

I know I do the same to God at times.

I shut off the relationship because I begin to think that God is holding out on me or being unfair.

I wall myself off, then I begin to wonder why I can’t hear Him speak.

I wonder why I don’t see Him move.

Could it be because I refuse to open the door in our relationship?

I refuse to look clearly at my sin, call it what it is and ask God to forgive me.

Instead I keep the door closed, while yelling from the other side, “Why won’t you hear me?”

God’s love is always there for you and for me.

Would a God who doesn’t want relationship with me choose to send his son to die for me?

Think about that for a moment.

Really think.

Why would God send His son to die for you, if He didn’t want relationship with you?

It’s my choice.

It’s yours, too.

Open the door.

Trust me friend, He will be there waiting with arms open wide and a deeper love than you can comprehend.

I am nothing but an imperfect person loved by a perfect God.

I’m a just a girl who falls deeper and deeper in love everyday with a God that sent His son to open the door for me.

I’m so glad He never shuts that door.

Father, help me keep the door open to all that you have for me today.

 

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