encouragement

I hate labeling my kid. I go out of my way NOT to do it. I want to just know KG, to be his mom, and help guide him through his childhood. And I go out of my way not use diagnosis as a crutch (for him or for me). I also try not to be defensive of him.

But for the sake of understanding, I will tell you that he has a different mindset, different behavior at times, and definitely different social norms.

My husband and I have been married for six years. We are a blended family, and that brings on challenges, especially in regards to discipline. But disciplining some kids can be a little more complex, so we need help, therefore we found a counselor who specializes in more complex situations.

Our counselor asked us how other people’s views of my kids impact us. I paused. In general, I don’t care too awfully much what people think. And I work really hard not to let what people think of my kids or my parenting to (negatively) impact how I parent. Sometimes I have to pretend like I am in a bubble and tune out the world, but I pride myself on parenting the same way whether I have witnesses or if I am at home (it’s not exactly the same but I try.)

But do I care what people think of my kid in general? Well short answer: kind of. At least enough write this overdo post.

KG did everything a little late, talked differently, bit other kids, got kicked out off daycare, and found trouble around many corners. I have spent a lot of time in meetings. I have cried and snotted in front of many a teacher. I have even made teachers cry because I was frustrated and angry and feeling awfully alone. And I regret that. I now go out of my way to stand beside each teacher and support them the very way I pray they will support me. And I have realized that it helps if people actually like me (my intentions more so than anything), and care about my son (especially since he needs their guidance too.)

My son is a unique person, and I wouldn’t change him. He is creative and non-linear. Ask him to describe something to you, and his response might dazzle you. He has an earnest interest in science and memorizes science facts and quizzes me (I almost never know the answers). Last week he broke up a girl fight at school. This week he asked me if angels poop. He was completely serious. (That was stumper. Message me if you know the answer. Or if you want to hear mine.)

The journey of my son’s life has been affected by his trials and his differences, but I really do love who he is, how he loves, and I can’t wait to see his life continue to unfold.

I don’t want to change him.

But not everyone gets him. He is easily frustrated and easily angered. He says odd stuff, curses at times, and makes jokes at the wrong times. He is way too open about private stuff. He is bad at eye contact and handshakes and sometimes, he looks upset with others when really he is disappointed in himself. He is socially awkward at times too.[ I think he gets it ALL from me, but that’s another post ;-)]

I have to really, really, really work at not running around going off on people sometimes. I want to tell them what a good kid he really is, that he is generous, not stingy with gifts, tender-hearted, interesting, good with little kids, sweet with dogs, a great dancer and better at sports than he seems (he gets nervous.)

I want to tell the world that that he will be something; that he already is something.

He is harder on himself than anyone on this planet can ever be on him. And I suspect that’s why he is the way he is sometimes. Because he just wants to be better, to act better, to achieve more. And he doesn’t always know how. And it frustrates him.

And I don’t have all the answers. And I never will.

And not everyone is going to “get” him, or like him, or understand him.

But that’s life.

And that’s why I don’t run around making excuses for him (at least I try not to), or pulling the special needs card every time he doesn’t make the team or earn a spot somewhere. I have NEVER gone ahead of him and said, “Please choose him because he needs this” even though it might have helped, or might have kept him from some rejection. I never want to send him where he is not wanted. That is not successful living to me.

But damn does my heart break sometimes.

If people knew what I knew, would they treat him better or worse? Would he be more accepted or more often rejected? Because at this point, he might just come across as a tall, pretty cute kid with kick ass hair who is a little shy or a little funny. Or he might seem like a kid full of rage, with low self-esteem and a bad attitude. Or he might seem smart, quirky, extroverted and surprisingly thoughtful. And all of those could be true depending on the day.

My son, is incredibly, beautifully, wonderfully human.

And then there are the people who see him…really see him. And they go out of their way to connect with him, to lend him a helping hand or offer him a word of encouragement. Why do they get it when so many people don’t? I am guessing something or someone in their life has given them the gift of well-developed empathy. We don’t all have that gift, but I am thankful for those in my son’s life that do.

As a mom, there is nothing more rewarding than when others see the good in your kid, and can see when he is trying, can see past a lot of the junk, and offer some good old fashioned kindness.

I could offer you up some “awareness” day info to help you understand my kid better, but here’s the reality:

He’s not going to run through life wearing a shirt that tells everyone why he is mad at himself, or cussing for no apparent reason. He is not going to take me to work with him so I can put everyone in their place when they think the worst of him. He has to LIVE in this world, truly do life in it. And he will have to make some adjustments at times, and at other times, he will have to learn to embrace what makes him different and spectacular.

But he will have to blaze his own trails.

And in the end, we all could be a little more aware of why people act the way that they do, and ask the right questions if we really care to know. We can stop jumping to conclusions. We can even offer our help and actually come along someone who is struggling, and offer a pat on the back or a word of encouragement. We can make sure that no human being lives life unseen, or completely misunderstood.

We can be kind. We can be brave, untamed and trail-blazingly kind.

Awareness of ourselves, and our capacity to love, is what we need more of. And this is what I want my kids to learn too: LOVE is successful living, to me.

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I am 3.5 years into trying to have a baby with my husband. Here are the “facts” of our circumstances:

 

  • I have 2 children from my first marriage with no previous history of miscarriage.
  • I had my tubes tied after my 2nd child was born.
  • I had my tubes “reconnected” in Sept of 2010. They are open like the 7-11.
  • I have been pregnant 5 times since then, with all pregnancies ending before 6 weeks.
  • I have had 3 unsuccessful IUI’s (all of my pregnancies were the old-fashioned way).
  • I have tried a variety of diets including gluten-free; I lost a ton of weight but experienced my longest time period without a pregnancy while eating gluten free. I eat gluten now, but not in a gluttonous way.
  • I have had a ton of tests performed and re-performed; I am normal and my husband has an amazing sperm count.
  • I have been on the basic fertility meds including Prometrium and Chlomid.
  • We are not interested in IVF because we CAN get pregnant. It’s the staying pregnant that we stink at. I know myself well and feel that the stress of IVF would be too much for me personally. I have absolutely nothing against it.

 

Now that you are up to date, let me tell you what we should’ve done a long time ago. The doctor told us about genetic testing. We elected not to do it. It sounded expensive and we weren’t particularly concerned about finding out the possible genetic disorders of our kids, so we opted out. Big mistake.

 

What we didn’t understand is that some genetic problems can affect your ability to get pregnant or stay pregnant. We learned that by having conversations with other (previously) infertile couples. After having 2 miscarriages in March and May of this year (whirlwind), I knew I had to go back and see the doctor. I have settled into the possibility that we may not have a baby, but by golly if we are going to get pregnant without trying, we need to learn how to keep the pregnancy going.

 

My doctor ran some genetic tests that we had previously refused (due to our lack of understanding) and we learned that we share the same genetic mutation for blood clotting. If only one of us had this genetic mutation, it would likely not have caused problems. But we both have it, and therefore it can cause recurring pregnancy loss.

 

While we don’t know quite yet the extent of the “disease” that we both have, we have a direction that we didn’t have until now. We have more blood work to get completed before the doctor will create a plan of action. She has already added a daily aspirin to my regimen and I may also need blood thinners during my pregnancy.

 

My goal is not to give you false hope of a similar prognosis. The details are neither here nor there (unless you want to hear them). My point is simple: if you try to deal with fertility issues quietly, you may miss out on valuable information and support. While infertility is painful and embarrassing for many people, we are not required to suffer it in seclusion. We are so open about adoption as a society, but the precursor to it is infertility (at least for some of those who choose to adopt) and we often hold these cards way too close.

 

It’s okay to admit, “I need help,” “I don’t have all the answers,” or “I can’t do this alone, in the dark, with only my husband to lean on.” I read once that the experience of infertility is as stressful as a terminal illness. While I don’t know this to be true, I do know the toll it has taken on my family, my marriage, and at times, my self-worth. We simply need a support system to lean on and to consult with.

 

Perhaps had we been more open with our process years ago, we would already have a baby (or a happy toddler by now.) But I also know that timing is everything. I have had more time to spend with my husband and to strengthen our marriage. We are stronger than ever because we have endured so much loss together (sometimes yelling, sometimes sobbing, sometimes making love in our shared brokenness). I have had the opportunity to be there for my struggling tween and help him find a private school that met his unique needs, surrounded by people who champion his amazing personality. I have been there to lift my brilliant teen son out of a tumultuous start to his teen years and keep leading him back to God, and have been able to enjoy his head in my lap or on my shoulder at the end of a day that shook the core of both of us.

 

I don’t regret a single day of this life. I don’t regret any part of this heart wrenching process. I only regret the opportunities for community and friendship I have missed by shielding my vulnerability from the world like a child shying away from the solar eclipse. We are all so broken. We all feel ourselves falling short of our dreams. I am happy to say that out loud to you, so perhaps I can serve you in the midst of your suffering or confusion. And I thank those many women who have been a part of my prayer platoon (“team” doesn’t evoke the fierceness these women display); women who have checked on me when I thought my plight was forgotten by those around me.

 

Share your brokenness. It is by prayer, community, and the grace of God that we can be made whole again.

All of a sudden your bed feels like a medical cot, your sheets feel like burlap. The refrigerator 60 feet away sounds like a Boeing 747. You can hear ice forming in your freezer. You wonder if you put the leftovers in the fridge, remind yourself to write a check for the field trip and to call to reschedule the appointment. Your sister’s birthday is coming up; do you have time to send her something thoughtful? Then the pendulum swings back to the big problem, the real problem. What you planned for and prayed for is crumbling around you. How can you fix it? Oh man, I forgot to call him back earlier. I am 4 million miles overdue for my oil change…

 

Rest evades you. Stress settles in like Quikrete hardening around your ankles, keeping you motionless. You want to do everything, but you do nothing; lying there, waiting for sleep to win its battle over the minutia of your mind. It loses, terribly.

 

I’m going to tell you one thing you can do to change the fate of your rest. It’s not warm milk, lavender, ocean waves, white noise, a routine or anything of the like (although all of those can be quite helpful.) It’s not even prayer, although if you are not praying, and you are reading this article in hopes of better sleep, I might smack you a little. You outta know better. But don’t just pray for sleep. I’ve tried that. It rarely works.

 

But back to the answer to the riddle. The first thing I believe we are called to do when a problem is so big, or so mind capturing, is to pause our crazy train and crack open our Bible and search for the truth. Here’s how:

 

  • Get to the root of the problem–Try to figure out what is really going on. What are you really worried about? Are you fearful, feeling insecure, angry or something else? Do your groggy best to take a snap shot of your emotional nonsense and give it a short caption.
  • Use your Bible–Do some research. Find verses in your reference Bible (you can look up terms in the index or do a web search for “Bible verse fear” for example).
  • Read and meditate–Read the words on the page. Let them soak in. Read them several more times and imagine yourself as the (human) author of these words and what it must have been like to receive the Divine inspiration to record them. Let me get you started:

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Are you taking your negative thoughts captive? Or are they taking you captive?

  • Now pray–Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you completely, while ridding your insides with your awful fear and worry. Hint: the less I focus on myself, the easier I find it to release the ninja grip on my problems and catch a few winks. Praying for yourself is not selfish in the least. But assuming that this is the biggest problem in the world and too big for God to solve will only hurt you. Try to have some perspective with the help of God.

 

Ask yourself this question: What is the problem I am facing? Am I actively praying for it? Do I have powerful words from the Bible to combat this problem? Do I have faith that God can actually help me through his?

 

If you answered no to any of the last three questions, how big of a problem is it really? And why are you losing sleep over it?

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†oday’s Word

For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. – Philippians 4.13

†oday’s Morning Glory

This is one of the most quoted and often commercialized verses in the Bible. Besides being short and easy to remember, it is hugely encouraging! It is highly used in youth ministry to encourage kids and teens, but let’s remember its roots.

Paul wrote this in prison. He didn’t say, “I can do all things when I get my way,” or “I can do all things because life is good,” or even “I can do all things because I am awesome.” His dependance was on the Lord! Not because things were easy, or because things were going his way, but because God is God, no matter our circumstances. Not only did Paul believe fully in the power of God, he continually shared it through letters and talking with other prisoners and even the guards.

Do you feel imprisoned by an arduous job, imploding finances, failing health, difficult relationships or heart breaking loss? Should it stop you from doing all things through Him? When times are tough do you run away from Him or to Him? And to take it a step further, are you sharing your faith with others during your struggle?

†oday’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word to encourage me during tough times. You have seen me through unbearable struggles. Please forgive me for the times I have not leaned fully on you and let me live in full confidence of Your strength and not my own. I can do all things through you! As I live my life today as a wife, mother, writer, errand runner, friend and stranger to many, let me do these daily things through you and learn to trust you when it becomes too much to bear. Thank you for your Son Jesus Christ. I love you! Amen.