Saturday, November 28, 2015

Our favorite family service project

Last Thanksgiving I was looking for a way to get my children involved in giving.
As in Thanks Living.






I did a little local research and found the perfect opportunity at the Union Gospel Mission in Dallas, TX.
My children loved working with all the regular employees of the mission as well as meeting new friends through the other volunteers.
We loaded food onto the serving trays, served the trays to the men, and some of us prepared bagged lunches for the men as they left the shelter the following morning.
My children enjoyed it so much that we went back at Christmas.

What better way to instill a sense of gratefulness for what we have than to expose them to the realities of those living with next to nothing.
To teach them what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are in very difficult circumstances who need shelter and food.


These men may look a little scary, but it's because they've been on the street for awhile.
My children see that many of them look just like people they know; they just don't have a home.

These men are always very grateful and always quiet.
Some seem very afraid, like they've had to be watching over their shoulder for danger.
Others are very friendly in spite of their obvious physical injuries or disability.


At this mission, my children see employees, men who once went through the rehabilitation programs there, with a passion for Jesus.
A love for the Lord and an obvious result of the redemption and restoration found in Christ.




That's what I want my children to experience.
What grace looks like.
What loving the unlovely looks like.
Learning they have so very much to be thankful for
as they return home to warm, safe beds and a kitchen full of healthy food
available to them at any time of the day they choose.
Learning that we all have difficulties in our lives, but we have so much to give.
It should be a way of living not just a season of the year.

Thanksliving.























Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We're so thankful for you!


This school year I've had the amazing priviliege of teaching at our little
homeschool program again.
Last year I taught a Beginning Speech and Drama class.
This year I'm teaching Family and Consumer Science classes
with an emphasis on Foods 1 this semester.
Next semester we'll get to learn Beginning Sewing and Crafts!
A couple months ago, the idea was presented to me of our class preparing
a Thanksgiving meal for the senior citizens of the church where our
 homeschool program is held.
The ideas just flowed and we had an absolute ball pulling this all together!!



The girls and I spent the weeks prior discussing menu plans 
and delegating responsibilities.
Each girl chose a favorite dish they had learned to prepare,
and Lexi was in charge of decorations.
We prepared for 36 people.


We found this fun favor idea on pinterest,
and the girls helped to assemble 6 dozen of them!




The church had stacks of these pretty dishes and tableware,
so we used what we had on hand!


The fall themed decor was all happily lent to us by a lady in the church!
It all fit together perfectly with our fun, whimsical vision for this event!




The girls learned how to prepare and roast a turkey, as well
as make yeast rolls from scratch!!





Our honored (and surprise!!) guest was Pastor Sam Appiah all the way from Ghana, West Africa.
Lexi stayed with he and his wife in their home when she went on the mission trip to Ghana 3 years ago!!!  We were so blessed to get to meet him and to thank him for his hospitality to our daughter!




This cutie bunch of elementary children from our homeschool program prepared and sang the most precious medley of gospel songs for all the grandma's and grandpa's.





We had some baked goods left over, and put those out as a mini-bake sale and it was
all gone at the end of the luncheon!!
This was such a huge success and so much fun!!
What a blessing it was to be a part of blessing these older folks!!
I am so very thankful for this homeschool program our children get to be involved in,
and for the opportunities I get to teach my own daughters some of the things I absolutely love!
God is so good to us, and how can I help but thank Him!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Challenge: Sharing the grace

Every once in a while, it's good to look back through the archives
and remember how God has spoken to you.
To remember those "Ah-ha moments" when the light came on and something the Lord has been working on in your life finally clicked!!
The following is one of those posts.
I shared this story awhile back, but I remember it like it was yesterday.......


At Christmas time several years ago, I was extremely challenged
by Ann's post on "The Great Give-Away."
It's a must read!!

As well as Joy's post on "Being filled: The beginning of giving."
Wow!!

Giving is not something that comes naturally for me, I have to admit.
I tend to be the frugal one always thinking of ways to save and conserve and plan for later.
My hand naturally tends to be holding onto things for "just in case."
I like to think my motto has been, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."
Not......give it away.



But I want to be better.
I am learning that my Savior daily "loads me" with benefits, and when I open my life and let Him fill it,
I naturally have a desire to share the bounty.

So yesterday I was faced with a challenge.
I could see clearly that the Lord put this opportunity in front of me to test my decision.

I was running some errands with my oldest daughter and my "personal assistant" daughter (remember, where ever I go, there she is also?)
I had the plan, the route mapped out in my mind, and the time in mind I wanted to be back home.

We were literally a minute from our first stop when we pulled up to the stop light at the corner waiting to make our turn.
That's when she saw him.
The transient.
Or as they are known in my house......the hobo.
A man standing on the corner, looking rather tired and weathered, with a hand-made cardboard sign that said "Anything would help."
We made the turn and my oldest daughter said, "Mom, don't you think we could go to McDonald's or something and get him some lunch?  Then I could witness to him.  I have my Bible with me."

Okay, so this became an enormously complicated question for me.
I have to admit......I didn't want to do that.
All kinds of excuses popped up in my mind...
....it's freezing cold and too windy out,
 .....it's never a good idea to give hand-outs to those who are standing on corners because they could be frauds,
......13 year old girls should NOT be sitting down on the embankment with suspicious looking men,
...I have a 7 year old girl who we're NOT leaving alone in the van,
and the list could go on.

"Mom, there's a subway store RIGHT THERE.  
I could use my money and get him a $5 foot long. Please?"

I told her that I would think about this as I was running in to take care of my first errand.
As I took the key out of the van, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart.
"Do you REALLY want to be the hands of Jesus?  Really?"

After finishing my errand, I climbed back into my van, turned the key and the radio blasted loud.
The younger sister had tried to play a prank on me.
I teasingly asked, "Who did that?"
Lexi was quick to say, "Abby did, Mom.  I didn't want to do that because I didn't want you to say that I couldn't buy that guy some lunch."

Ouch.
She knows me too well.
I have been known to say things like that.

"Okay, Lord, I hear you."

So I tell Lexi that we need to find a tract because although she was going to be able to buy him some food, we wouldn't have the time or the place at that moment to open the Bible with him.

We couldn't find a tract ANYWHERE....not in any purse or Bible or cubby or storage spot....nothing.
So our plan was that after Lexi bought his lunch we would have to loop around under the highway and come back up the way we came to meet him at that stop light.

She came out of Subway and said, "Look, Mom.  I got this whole foot long, a bag of chips, and water all for less than $10!!  I hope he likes black forest ham, turkey, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce."

So as we pulled up next to him the light turned red, which was a gift from the Lord.

I rolled the window down and as I handed him the food, I said, "My daughter felt led to buy this for you, and she wanted you to know that Jesus loves you, and He asked us to be His hands for Him today and to give this to you.  We certainly hope that you'll consider going to a church where they can help you and give you some encouragement."

He looked at me the entire time and mumbled at one point, "You're an angel."
Then he asked me, "What church?"
I told him, "ANY church.  Why there's a good one just down the road from here" (and I told him about the church we used to attend.)
At that point the light changed and we had to go.
Lexi was weeping by then.
She could hardly regain her composure, so she stayed in the van at our next stop to pull herself together.
I have to admit, the whole thing made my eyes run liquid too.

Lexi reminded us to pray for this man at our dinner table that night.
Where we had plenty to eat and some to spare.
Under a roof.....that we own.
On furniture.
Because my husband has not one, but two, jobs.

We are thankful.
I am learning.
Learning to see my blessings.
To see how really full I am.
And that I have plenty to share.
And that my children need to see that what I say I believe in church......

.....that Jesus loves EVERYONE,
.......that He sat down with and had meals with the outcasts of society,
.......that He approached those who were a little scary looking and obviously troubled,
.....that He offered them Living Water,
......that He wants us to emulate Him.....

I actually believe and LIVE out in our world!

And that in giving,
I am actually giving only what was GIVEN to ME in the first place,
and that in continuing to SEE,
I don't have to worry about coming up short.
There's plenty more where it came from, and in LAVISH amounts. 
Grace.

"For God so loved.......that He gave..."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A senior

 Alexis Noelle Brough
Senior 2016



"Daughter"

I look back in time,
Young and very innocent



Seeing the world through your eyes

Memories I hold safe in my heart




To sometimes unwrap with a smile
and the comfort of a sigh



Now my little girl is grown,
A woman you have become

With the wisdom and strength God has given
Is tranquility I feel knowing that anything
you will overcome

This strength and warmth
of heart I see in you



I know will lay no boundaries

For the world is yours to have sweetheart.....



To hold in your hands,
each moment to appreciate and seize



I am there for eternity,
If only in thought

A place you can come to as you feel you need.




I am standing in the shadows allowing you 
to grow and learn

Holding onto the knowledge that 
with your heart,
you will succeed.




It is your strength and kind heart about you that shines.....



As a single ray of sunlight beaming through a cloud
insisting we look higher and higher

To lift us up when we are down.




It is this my daughter in you
that I do admire."

~L.J. Myers~



Photos courtesy:  www.elisabethcarol.com







Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Do you find understanding in your church about ADHD?

My intention in writing this post is certainly not to accuse or complain. But I want to point out an observation I've made throughout the years that rather bothers me and I really have no good answers to it.

In our churches, the claim is made, and rightfully so, that God and His Word (the Bible) have all the answers for all the problems of mankind. But from my experience over nearly 40 years of church attendance in several different denominations is that church leaders across the country have absolutely no idea how to address the needs of families with children who have special needs whether they be physical handicaps or neurological differences (i.e. autism, ADHD, asperger's syndrome, etc.). In fact, in some cases, there seems to be a denial that some of these conditions even exist. They are brushed off as bad parenting, a poor home environment, a lack of education, a spiritual problem in the life of the child, or a need for even more discipline.

Let me make some clarifications at this point, if I may:

  1. I am NOT excusing a child who does have one of these conditions to use it as an excuse for intentional bad behavior, nor am I excusing parents who just won't address behavior issues in their children.
  2. I am also aware that there are definitely some churches who are seeing this as a tremendous need in their congregations, and are taking amazing steps to meet those needs.
In the informal "poll" that I did of parents with ADHD children, they ALL stated that not only does their church NOT have any kind of support group or training classes for parents living with such issues, they expressed a tremendous lack of compassion and understanding on the part of church leaders and teachers, and that their children are being kicked out of Sunday School classes and Youth Groups because of their child's behavior!! My response....

WHAT???

Now being the wife of a man who was formerly a youth pastor, I'm all too familiar with the frustrations and challenges of working with many different teenagers from a variety of backgrounds with never enough volunteer youth workers to help shoulder the responsibility. Plus the parents of these teenagers who have their own set of expectations for what their child should have available to them in the way of activities, teaching, and support, and who rarely lack an abundant supply of criticisms if things aren't done they way the think they should be or if they see an obvious weakness in the man leading this youth group.

Nevertheless, my observation is this:
I am finding that most of the training, support, and treatment options for such issues as ADHD come from SECULAR sources. Why are the Christian colleges and universities graduating elementary and secondary teachers and Bible majors who are moving into church ministries not being taught that ADHD (among other neurological "impairments") is a very real brain disorder. It is the root of the cause of so many behavior issues and that they are management techniques that help these children perform better. Why is there such a huge gap in resources, support groups, and counseling that come from a BIBLICAL worldview rather than a secular worldview.
I'm not out to bash counseling that does not come from a Bible point-of-view, but that is what I prefer for my family and what I know hundreds of families would love to have? Why can't we go to our church FAMILY for support and lack of judgement when our children are running around seemingly "out-of-control?" I wonder if those in our churches understand really how exhausting it is to have a child with these issues? I wonder if they understand that we've have tried all the charts, and games, and making of every list under the sun, and doctors, and supplements, and spankings, and reading endless numbers of books, and we're exhausted!!! Remember, these children don't seem to need as much sleep!! If they ever do sleep, it's only for a few hours at a time. When they wake up.....they hit the ground RUNNING!!
So we take them to church, as we are supposed to do, and hear things like:

"That child just needs to be spanked more."

Excuse me here again.....but that is a heartless statement spoken by a person truly ignorant of the brain differences in the child with ADHD!! Have you ever spanked a child who has neurological disorders? Have you ever seen how they completely misinterpret it and it sets them off even more into a rampage and gets worse if you try to spank them some more?

"You should try.......(insert here your discipline technique, chart, supplement)."

Then just wait until your child walks out of their classroom upset because in their mind they were "good" and had been sitting still and listened, and were meeting the criteria, 
but they did not win "best boy or best girl" yet AGAIN or EVER.

Again, I certainly don't intend to accuse or complain, I just am making observations that are becoming ever more crystal clear to me.

On a more positive note, I have a few suggestions:

Church leaders should take this seriously,
 and realize that their churches have lots of families 
dealing with this on a daily basis
 who are exhausted and looking for answers and support.

Christian colleges and universities should better equip their future teachers 
to know how to manage these students and help 
to educate the parents FROM SCRIPTURE how
to balance their lives and families with these extenuating challenges.

Church leaders should understand the need for and allow the start of support groups
and services within the church to families living with children who have neurological dfferences.

Church leaders should offer training to teachers and youth leaders to know how to better address the needs of these children as well as how to manage the classroom with them.

Church leaders should encourage the members of their congregations to be aware of this growing problem and to be willing to offer themselves as "mentors" for these children. A mentor is one
that sits with that child in his class to encourage appropriate behavior, and gives the parent an opportunity for one or two hours a week to be spiritually refreshed and taught. The mentor keeps in contact with that child throughout the week and encourages him, and even invites him to go out for some special activity further giving the parent a break from the daily stress of managing him/her. These children do so well hearing positive things, especially from those outside their family.

"But we just don't have enough people in our church who would need
this kind of ministry."

And why do you think that is?
To quote one of my husband's favorite baseball movies,
"If you build it, they will come."

Finally, ADHD is NOT a "spiritual problem."
It's a real learning difference.
They simply learn differently, that's all.
They are desperate to be understood.
To be seen for the great things they CAN do,
and not for the things they can't (like sit still, or write, or be constantly quiet.)
They need love, and grace.
Everything that Jesus offers.
Let them SEE Jesus in you!!


Update: Still using Intuniv


Life can be strangling when you're 13.
It can choke the very breath out of you.
People expect more from you.
More responsibility, more output in your schoolwork, more leadership.


When you think you're stupid, it can be very worrisome.


When things come at you faster than you can process them,
and you can tell that those around you get it,
but you don't,
you try really hard to fit in,
and not stand out
To not be noticed.

As the parent, it's very hard to watch your child struggle.


Oh, there have been definitive victories over the last several years:

An increased ability to feel comfortable in social circles 
and to have lovely, interactive conversations with adults.

Better self control when facing consequences for poor decisions.

Approaching parents (but only parents) for a hug at the end of the day.

Staying focused when working one-on-one with a tutor and progressing in schoolwork.



Some days are so good that you wonder if it's really necessary
for him to continue taking the medication that's helping him manage 
his hyperactivity and impulsivity.

The long-term implications of taking any kind of medication for an extended
period of time is not well understood.
Why take it when you don't need to?


But when you try to wean him off (several different times), 
he can definitly tell the difference.

On the first day, you hardly notice a difference.
But by day 3 without the medication, anxiety levels are higher.
You notice he's pacing the house more.
He's much more irritable and antagonizes his siblings nearly relentlessly.

He reminds you every night that you NEED to go get his prescription refilled.
He needs it.

There is much less peace in the house.



Even the pediatrician, at his yearly check-up, suggests that it would be fine
for him to continue taking this.
That this particular medication, Intuniv, is not a stimulant,
it's not understood to be addictive.
So we are continuing with a 3 mg. dose.

Yes, you never know the long-term implications.
But when diet changes (including complete avoidance of dyes and HFCS)
are nearly impossible to afford or enforce because of resistance
and what seems to be sensory issues,
you consider other options.

Last year, regular use of essential oils became an alternative.
Though he has his favorites, and there are definitely some that help him,
particularly in the areas of calming, none have brought him
that clarity of mind and peacefulness like this medication.


So, here we are.
A new school year.
A successful 1200-mile road-trip with your Mom and two sisters during summer break under your belt.
It wasn't too bad, was it?
You stuck closer to your Mom than ever before especially when we went
places that you had never experienced before.

But you tried new things, met new people,
and are moving on.

To read even more about the strategies we have tried with our son, what has worked,
and what has not.....go HERE.