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“She has Asperger’s Syndrome…”

We were at a splash pad. I was sitting in the shade on a bench next to another mom. My own mother had lovingly placed me there, insisting that I needed to cool off. Which I did. She handed me a chunk of ice to place under my wrist and a bottle of water to drink. The real mothers never stop being mothers, do they?

So I was sitting there, next to another mom, drinking water, ice on my wrist, watching our 6 kiddos play. I noticed a dad coming in with two beautiful little girls.

The younger girl quickly ran off to play after he took off her shoes. The older stood there awhile longer. I noticed she had her hand awkwardly, and what would usually be inappropriately, down in her shorts.

The dad knelt down and took off her sandals. He smiled and told her to go play. She then took two steps towards the water and suddenly it became very clear that something was very wrong.

She began screaming and thrashing and throwing herself on the concrete walkway, saying in a muffled voice, “I’m wet.” Over and over and over again.

He tried picking her up. Tried sitting down with her. Tried putting the shoes back on. Taking the shoes back off.

“It’s ok. It’s ok.”

He stood. She did not, but instead, hung her head down low, pressed hard against her father’s ankle.

“I’m wet! I wet!”

“It’s ok. It’s ok.”

And my heart was breaking- tears filled my eyes because I have seen, six times over, a child having a tantrum, but I had never seen a tantrum like this.

She had to be about eight years-old. And my mind tried to grasp what that would feel like. Eight years of tantrums from the same child.

Suddenly, all the tantrums I have survived felt like a drop in a pan. Once again perspective rushed in.

Her dad looked up. My teary eyes met his. “She has Asperger’s Syndrome…”

Truly he did not need to explain. And I told him that, “You don’t need to explain. God bless you for what you are doing…”

His daughter settled. We talked a little while. Another mom joined in. He and is daughters ended up leaving as did our crew.

Still, the sight of that child and her dad weigh heavy on my heart tonight.

May God bless the parents, caretakers and teachers of children with special needs. Bless them with strength. Bless them with patience. Bless them with love. Bless them with a support network that will uphold and encourage them. Bless them for what they are doing. When they feel like their prayers for a miracle go unanswered, may they look in the mirror and see what you see: A miracle.

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Thank God: A Post for those who felt Left Out on Mother’s Day

We went out on a boat ride yesterday evening. We were having a wonderful time with our family. My mother and father and sister in-law had come to spend the weekend with us. Dad was fishing off the back of the boat. Hubby was steering him near the typically good spots. I sat in the front of the boat with our daughters and baby boy.

We approached an old, very weathered dock. Oddly, laying at the end of the old dock was a naked Barbie doll. It was a sad and peculiar sight. There she was, naked, hair desheveled, flat on her back with face and one bent leg facing the sky. To our 3 year-old daughter, it was down right disturbing.

“Mama, their baby naked, mama. They left their baby mama. Their baby mama. I take her. I take her mama. I take care of her.”

“We can’t take her honey. It’s not our place to take that baby doll. It’s not our property. She has to stay there.”

“She be ok mama? She be ok? She gonna fall in the lake mama.”

Our 5 year-old daughter then chimed in,

“She’ll be ok. They know where she is. They are looking for her.”

I didn’t know what to say. I did not know if she would be ok. I did not know if she would fall in the lake. I certainly wasn’t convinced anyone really knew where she was or was looking for her. But I could imagine us pulling up that boat, picking that doll up in our arms, bringing her home, dressing her and taking care of her.

We moved on. It was just a doll after all, on a dock that wasn’t ours. Still, my heart was heavy.

It got heavier still as I thought back to a post I read from Ann Voskamp earlier this week of a four year-old girl that was taken from her village. The people of the village found her “curled up and crying, deep in the jungle —- and it’s obvious.…” This four year-old girl was raped, used, abused and left out. They wrapped her up and brought her back to her mother.

There we were. One boat. One pier. One naked Barbie Doll staring up into the Mississippi sky. One little girl and her mother struggling to make sense of a world where Barbie dolls and little girls are left naked to stare up at the heavens and cry out the silent resounding question of “Why?”

How does one make sense of it? Did I even want to ponder it? It was Mother’s Day after all. Who wants to think on these things on Mother’s Day? I didn’t. But I couldn’t shake it either.

I stared at that doll for sometime only to realize that I can’t. I can’t answer the whys. All I can do is simply trust and thank God.

Thank him?

Yes, I felt the urge to begin thanking Him. To start looking harder for those things that were good and worthy of praise.

Thank God I am here on a boat with my family. Our children and our daughters are safe and well.

Thank God for the people in that village who refused to stop searching, found that abused girl, wrapped her up with love and brought her home. I pray for God to heal that little girl’s heart and mind. That she would grow to be a strong and mighty woman who joins forces to turn the tide, that a generation of strong daughters would rise up led by strong mothers and fathers, men and women who understand the worth of a child.

Our boat and my mind kept moving, the doll that was left out on the dock was still in my view. I began thinking of a different post written by my friend Caroline Bailey. Caroline shared some recent thoughts towards her adopted son’s birth mother and they were beautiful, beautiful thoughts. I thought about that birth mother, who made the choice to carry a baby, birth a baby and leave a baby naked, knowing full well that baby would have to be placed in the arms of another who would clothe him and care for him and provide for him in a way she knew she wasn’t able to provide. I thought of Caroline and her husband picking up that baby boy and bringing him home to love him as their own. Two mothers… Both essential to the life of a child.

Thank God for the mother who loved enough to carry her child, birth her child and give away her child. Thank God for those women who left their babies seemingly abandoned. Thank God for them, because those women had a faith, or perhaps just a hope, a small but unshakeable sense that their child was known, their child was sought after and their child would be found, would live, would love and be loved. Their child had a life that was worth living.

Thank God for the mothers and fathers who have fostered and adopted and essentially picked up the children that were in need of being picked up, the mistreated and abandoned. Thank God for the women who have been deemed infertile and yet still boldly step into the role of mothering and nurturing children. God bless these parents with the strength and grace needed to continue to pick up the children in their care through every stage of their lives.

And who else? Thank God for the everyday mothers… You know the ones whose stories don’t make the newsfeed. The ones who made their own breakfast on Mother’s Day and made their children’s breakfast as well. The mothers whose gifts yesterday were giggles, a smile behind a pacifier, dirty laundry, tantrums and poop smeared down chubby legs. God Bless those mothers who are healthy and blessed, but tired nonetheless. God strengthen them.

Thank God for the mothers who received no cards or flowers or phone calls, but still refuse to give up on their grown children. They will still call. They will still send gifts for the grandkids. They will still love fully and keep their hearts fully open, always with the hope that one day that child will toddle back to me with open arms. God bless those mothers.

Thank God for the grandmothers and aunts, sisters and friends, the teachers and leaders, the nursery and daycare workers who continue to care and continue to give. They relentlessly reach out and pick up kids that are not their own. These are the ones clothing children and feeding children, guiding children, and daily reaching out to help with the hopes of preventing children they love from falling into bad decisions and murky waters.

Thank God for them.

Our ride came to an end, but come evening I still was thinking about those who were left out on Mother’s Day. I wrote most of what you are reading now, and laid my head to rest convinced that there are things in this world I don’t understand. Actions and injustices that seem to scream, “There is no God nor good here.” Yet those actions, those things that disturb our spirit can wake us up and force us to look for the good and inspire us to be the good. A doll left out on a dock caused me to look long and look hard and realize that everywhere, EVERYWHERE there is good. There is God.

All over the world there are people whose actions and lives are joining together to make a sound like a breaking wave. It is when you start to really look that you start to really hear, the harmonious rising of one little whisper multiplied thousands of times over. It silences out the doubt, washes out the wounds, and heals the broken hearted with the unified sound of, “Yes, God is here. His people are here. His love is here. He sees. He searches. He finds. He leads. He is bringing his children home.”

If you are reading this because you are a mother or a mother’s child who felt “left out” yesterday, I want to encourage you to keep shining.

Through all the whys keep thanking God and singing songs of praise for all that is good. Yes, there is good. Look hard, very hard, you will find it.

May you see, you are not “left out.” You are not forgotten. You are seen. You are known. You are sought after. You are loved and greatly treasured. Even greater than a mother’s love for her child, is God’s love for you.

I thank God for you.

I pray he strengthens you for the great work of love he has for your life.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
– Isaiah 49:15

Related blogs:

Ann Voskamp: http://www.aholyexperience.com

Caroline Bailey
http://www.barrentoblessed.wordpress.com

 

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A Verse for Teachers

I read Matthew 13 earlier tonight with our boys. It is the account of Jesus teaching the crowds about the kingdom of God through parables. He gave so many different illustrations, all in an attempt, to communicate the same message to the different people he knew were listening. He gave illustration after illustration. Almost as if to say, “If you didn’t get that one… consider this one.”

Jesus was (and is) an expert at teaching spiritual principles to people by using illustrations of things they already know and understand. He considered his audience. He related to them. And he gave this little nugget for the teachers:

Matthew 13:52
He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

Great teachers bring out old, rich, teachings and relate them to a new audience with a new, rich, twist. Same truth. New audience. New life. That is rich!

What an awesome, treasure of a verse, from The Great Teacher.

 

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Patterns and Place Value- Not Just Math Concepts

I really enjoy math.

I like that it is definite.

I like that it is infinite.

I like how it is incredibly simple and yet extraordinarily complex.

All of these things remind me of God.

Today I taught our son the strategy of recognizing a pattern in order to count by twos.

Recognizing patterns is so beneficial in math. It also is pretty exciting (Yes, I just called math exciting).

Once you clearly see the pattern, it is easy to just keep going with it.

So we wrote the counting by twos pattern and we cut out numbers that could be switched out as we bumped up into the next number family. Our little guy was counting by twos with ease.

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And then we did place value.

Place value can be tricky for little ones because so often they don’t understand exactly how the placement of a number greatly changes its value. They don’t get that a “7” in the tens place is equivalent to 70 as opposed to only 7 and so on.

One exercise that seems to help our kids is this: I read out loud a three-digit number, like 110.

I then draw out three boxes in a row. Above each box I write what number we are “counting by” when a number is written in that box.

Hundreds place- we count by hundreds- so I write “100”

Tens place- we count by tens- so I write “10”

Ones place we count by ones- so I write “1”

(Writing “100,” “10,” and “1,” as opposed to the words “hundreds,” “tens,” and “ones” seems to make the concept far less intimidating for young children.)

Once again I say out loud the number, this time adding emphasis: “one HUNDRED and TEN.”

“How many hundreds are there?” ONE HUNDRED
“How many tens?” ONE TEN
“Did you hear any other numbers? No. There are no other numbers. Write a zero in the ones place.”

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We go through the exercise a few times and the child begins to understand how the placement of a number greatly effects its value.

Patterns… Place value…

These are Biblical concepts as well.

The Old Testament was laid as the pattern for the New, but I was never able to see that until I really started to study the works of Christ. Once I caught glimpses of the pattern between the two reading the Bible became more exciting to me.

It became even more exciting when I began to understand that our value can only be truly understood once we realize our place in Christ.

That will put a smile on your face for sure… A smile like a child who finally understands patterns and place value.

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Yes, Step into the Middle of the Mess

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She walks out of her room,
Dirty diaper in hand.
For reasons that I,
Cannot comprehend.
Onto the floor falls her waste.

And there she is,
This daughter of mine,
Covered in poop,
One more time,

Another miss.
Another mess.

Another chance,
For me to step,

Closer to your heart.

I feel you whisper,

Step,

Step closer to a love,
That changes.

Step closer to a love,
That endures the stench.

Step closer to a love,
That washes clean.

Step closer to a love,
That covers.

Step closer to a love,
That says, ‘Try again.’

Yes, step.
Step into the middle of the mess.”

So I step.

And I feel your heart.

He is sitting at the table,
Pencil in hand,
Needing help on a problem,
He cannot understand,
Calling for me to come.

And there are dishes in the sink.
There are crumbs on the floor.
There are so many messes,
My attentions have implored.
But I feel you urging,

“Stop and step.

Step into the middle of the mess.

Because in the messes,
I still speak.

In the messes,
I still teach.

In the messes,
Is where I long to be.

So step.
Step into the middle of the mess.”

So I step.
And I feel your heart.

Later in the evening,
I fill a request,
To accompany my husband,
And try my best.

So I find myself,
Back behind a line,
Messes around me,
Yet one more time,
Cleaning and cooking,
Lending a hand,
Speaking a language as best as I can,
Seeing broken people as they stop by.

And I feel you whisper,

Yes, you have stepped.
You have stepped into the mess.

You have stepped,
Closer to a love that keeps pouring.

You have stepped,
Closer to a love that keeps cleaning,

You have stepped,
Closer to a love that keeps serving,

You have stepped,
Closer to a love that keeps standing.

You have stepped where I step,
Into the middle of mess.”

Now, I don’t know what mess,
May surround you today.
But I want to challenge you,
In this very same way,
To step.

Step into the middle of the mess.

Step where your Savior,
Has stepped for you.
Step where he daily,
Continues to.

Step where you will find His rest.

Yes, Step into the middle of the mess.

John 3:16
For God so loves the world…

He stepped.

 

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Teaching Tip: Long Division for Young Children

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Division can be a hard concept for young children to grasp. I like to tell our kids to think of the long division sign as a kitchen table. Under the table are balls, and sitting around the table are children that each want to share equally all the balls under the table.

If “under the table” there are 8 balls.
(If the dividend is 8)

And sitting “around the table” are 2 children.
(If the divisor is 2)

Then each child will get 4 balls.
(The quotient will be 4)

Act out the process at your kitchen table. You can use balls or crayons, or whatever you have on hand to act out the process.

Just remember to teach them the proper names of the long division sign, the dividend, the divisor, and the quotient, as it is likely that they will want to call them simply “the table”, “the balls”, and “the kids” from this lesson on.

🙂

 

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Choosing Gentleness

He’s seven and he is stomping, and whining, and growling at me because he does not want to do it. He doesn’t want to do, yet another paper for school. His eyes pierce anger into mine and I am mad.

I mad because I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to reason, or fight over, or exert the energy needed to correct his behavior and calmly discuss , yet again, why he must do what he needs to do.

I raise my voice in a far-from-godly, nearly mirror imaged growl to that of my son, and tell him that he will not growl at me. He will do his work.

And in the midst of all of this comes a knock.

Standing at my door, is an AC repair man, who undoubtedly heard my horrible parenting. And simply says, “I tried to call and let someone know I was coming.”

Lovely. Take my picture. Record my name. Put it on the list of the worst mothers on the planet. I’ll even put it on there for you.

And in that moment every image of the mom I aspire to be was broken and all that I could see was the image of a woman, so far from who I want to be.

And long before that knock was upon my door, there was a knock upon my heart. A knock that whispered,

“Stay calm.”

A knock that whispered,

“Gentleness.”

A knock that I heard and ignored because gentleness did not seem deserved.

I knew the right thing to do. I heard the knocking on my heart. But I chose what was easier. I chose what required less energy.

Exercising self-control always requires more energy than losing control. And gentleness is not for the weak, but for those who are mightily strong.

I was embarrassed because I knew that my weakness had been so clearly heard and seen. There was no denying it. There was no explaining it. It was.  But it did not always have to be.

Daily, I have a choice to make, to ignore the knocking on my heart in moments of anger, or to allow Christ’s strength to be revealed by opening my heart to his perfect way in the midst of my anger.

I know that I am not strong enough on my own to chose gentleness. My children know, my husband knows, and there is an AC man somewhere who knows too. But I know something else, as well. I know that Christ is strong enough and he will help me if I let him.

Will I open my heart to his way? Will I chose gentleness? Will I let his strength be seen? Will you? That is what matters most

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in…”
– Revelation 3:20

 

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