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Posts tagged ‘Parenting’

The Sustenance of Grace – SheLoves Magazine

I’m honored to be over at SheLoves Magazine today. We all have times when the words of others have wounded us deeply. How we respond affects our lives for long after. I’d love to hear your story or thoughts on overcoming hurtful words & the offering of forgiveness. Please feel free to share them at SheLoves or leave a comment here at BellaVerita. Thanks!

 

When the words left her lips, I sat stunned. The air in the room was sucked out in a moment’s edict, from a woman of whom I expected grace.

I was one of six, sitting around the table, searching out deeper truths of the New Testament on a windy day in April. Including the teacher, there were four men and two women, one older and one younger – me.

It happened during the break. We were asked us to introduce ourselves. The simple words of small talk common to new groups were spoken. Circling around the table, I was the last to speak. Like the others, I began with my church history, years of attendance, years married, finishing with my son who was six, and my daughter not quite a year old who was born with Down syndrome.

I’d barely gotten the words out when they were met with the declaration, “You are going to have a miserable, difficult life.” …..

Continue reading “The Sustenance of Grace” at SheLoves Magazine

 

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A Mother’s Day Surprise – Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Come at 3:00, the invitation said. Sofia couldn’t wait to give it to me when she brought it home, two weeks before the big day. Unzipping her backpack as soon as she jumped in my car, she grabbed the paper out of the bright blue folder and handed it to me, before we’d even turned down our driveway. “You’re invited to a Mother’s Day Tea Party,” it said. It was an annual event thrown by the kindergarteners for their mamas.

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Talking About The Uncanny Provision of God at Today’s Christian Woman/Kyria

Excited to be over at Today's Christian Woman/Kyria today with my article, The Uncanny Provision of God. Often in this journey of faith, there are surprises. The Uncanny Provision of God is the story about one of those surprises, when God taught me about His attentive and abundant provision.

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A Letter to New and Expectant Parents of a Baby with Down syndrome

Congratulations on your new baby! Whether you’re an expectant parent or you’re holding your newborn in your arms, your child is precious and is a gift to be celebrated.

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Holding Tight in the Falling Times

Spring ushers in some of my favorite things: sunshine, warmth, birds singing and a multitude of flowers peeking through muddy ground. This spring the birds have been singing, flowers have begun their ascent into full glory, but the sun… ah, the sun. Maybe it was sleeping hard after a long winter and couldn’t be bothered to show its’ face. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, the sun came out to play. Finally. Ecstatically happy and in celebration of the sun, I spent as much time as I could outside. I hiked through the park, attempted to garden a bit, even walked down our lengthy gravelly driveway and road, up the hill to meet my daughter at her bus stop. Normally, I’d drive. Not yesterday. Not a chance. Didn’t even mind pushing her enormous, ancient jogging stroller up the big hill.

Delighted to see me and the stroller, she couldn’t wait to take a ride. She loves taking walks. She loves riding and loves walking. Used to be, she was a bit too unsteady to walk for long on the gravel. She’s grown considerably in strength, in a year’s time. After riding to our driveway, she promptly asked to walk. “Out, Mama. Wanna walk. Please.” Absolutely. Down she went, ready for her hike up the hills in our drive.

Five year olds are inquisitive creatures and my daughter is no exception. With eyes focused on either side of the drive searching for birds, deer and chipmunks, it didn’t take long for her to take a spill. Footing lost; down she went, both hands hitting hard on gravel. Her little face belying shock over what happened. Frustration. Then, the cries of pain.  Scooping her up immediately, holding her close to soothe her tears, she calmed. Tiny scraped up palms and sadness in her eyes. It’s heartbreaking to see your child in pain, even if it’s just over a few scrapes.

Scraped hands are brushed off. Tears wiped away. We turn to continue our walk. Afraid to take another step, my daughter moves slowly. Cautiously. “Sofia, do you want to hold my hand?” I ask. “Yes,” she mumbles through left-over tears. I hold out my right hand to her, which she grasps solidly with her left. Tiny hand in mine, I begin to take a step. Before my foot hits the ground, another little hand shoots out, desperately grabbing for my hand. Two little hands tighten their grip on mine. The ferocity with which she holds on startles me. It’s as if she doesn’t trust herself. One hand holding on is good, but two are better. Both hands in mine, I steady her for our hike home.

As we walk together, I’m reminded of the times in my life I’ve been walking along, enjoying the scenery, unaware I’m about to lose my footing. Then, the fall. Painful, surprising spills on the road of life when I’ve longed to hold on to someone bigger and stronger. After falling, I’m stunned and shocked by the hurt of whatever’s thrown me off balance. At times, I’ve been afraid to keep going. Over time, I’ve learned to raise my head, tears falling and hold out both hands reaching for the God who offers me His right hand to steady me.  

I walk in His strength, in the knowledge He can lead me safely on my journey. I’ve learned I can’t make it alone. So I reach out and grip with both hands, the hand offered me. I take it, hopefully without question. Sometimes, with questions nagging. I’m grateful for the help. He’s always been faithful. He always leads with love. I can only hope that’s what my daughter sees, when she reaches out to me. And that, in turn, she’ll learn to reach out for Him.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10  NLT

Sizer or Life-Giver: Which One are You?

There seem to be two types of people in this world, those who view others through the lens of what is lacking and those who see great value in the personhood of another human being. Read more

Abiding: Lessons from a One Year Old

Driving home, my mind was all awhirl. A mix of emotion and fear, fear of what the unknown future held for my precious daughter, waiting at home for me. Sofia was almost a year old.  Every now and then, when I’d least expect it, fear over what the future held, would creep into my psyche, playing games with my heart and mind. I’d long felt I’d already accepted her diagnosis of Down syndrome. Yet for some reason, a battle would erupt in my mind, threatening the knowledge that God was and had been so faithful to us, throughout my pregnancy, her birth, and her first year.

Were we doing enough to keep her safe from unwanted germs that might send her into the hospital, like we’d been advised? What if she was hospitalized? What then? Who’d be there to provide help or support? How would she be treated by others, as she grew? In a world professing to love diversity and celebrate differences, I’d already felt pangs of pain, seeing the fear on some people’s faces, once they realized she was “different.” Heartwrenching. A sucker punch to a mother’s soul. What would her world look like when she became a young woman?

Questions better left at the foot of the cross. After all, God tells us not to worry about tomorrow, because today has enough trouble of its’ own. Most days my heart was peaceful. But every once in a while, those punches would come, knocking the wind out of me.

Returning home I’d run to see my daughter, to hold her, as if holding her tight in my arms would protect her from the fears waiting to threaten her little world…my fears. A mother’s fears. Looking into her beautiful blue eyes, bright with energy and happiness, the world outside faded away. Nothing else mattered. Holding her close, breathing in her joy, feeling her little fingers wrap tightly around mine, made everything better. Fear didn’t exist here. Squeezed out by love, the love of a little child for her mother. It’s not an understatement to say the gauges of my heart returned to a place of peace and trust. Trust in the God whose faithfulness had brought this amazing little person into my life. He’d taken care of everything. Nothing else mattered. Not tomorrow. No fear.

Perfect love drives out fear. I know I’m not alone. My husband experienced the same. Talking about it with him made me realize how similar the human experience is for each of us. Talking with other parents in similar situations, the story is much the same. Being in the presence of their child, their beloved child, the fear melts away. There may be exceptions, but I find it interesting so many people share the same experience.

Why? I’ve often wondered. Made in the image of the God who created us, could it be that what we see and experience in those moments of truly being present with our children is a reflection of God. His Beauty. His peace. His goodness. His faithfulness.

Jesus tells us, Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” ……………………………………………………………..John 15:4,5,9,11 NIV

Jesus commands that we remain in Him. Abide in me. Dwell in me. Then, your joy will be complete. The joy that filled my world, being in the presence of my daughter, is only a glimmer of the fullness we experience when we remain in the presence of Christ. A heavenly, divine portion of joy and peace is waiting for us. It is ours, when we choose to dwell in the presence of the divine.

Silence. Reflection. Meditation on the Word. Open ears, open heart. Praise. Thanksgiving. A meager offering of our hearts laid out before the only One who can fill us. We’re never asked to go it alone. Day by day abiding is necessary to live this life of faith. Dwell with me, He says. What goodness He brings when we do.

Like a Child

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A song.

A song made up of one word…a name.

The Name.

Jesus. Read more

Meet Sofia

Sofia is a pint-sized little girl with strikingly crisp blue eyes. Ever since her white blonde hair grew long enough to stretch into them, piggy-tails have been her trademark. Rarely a day goes by that her hair doesn’t bounce up and down, trailing behind her as she darts around. Read more

No Best Friend for Janie – Should Kids Have Best Friends?

Last week an article appeared in the New York Times questioning whether or not it was in a child’s best interest to allow them to have a best friend. Hilary Stout, the author of the article, spoke with various adults working with children in an administrative capacity who feel that allowing a child to foster a close friendship could potentially lead to the formation of cliques and create a culture of bullying. These administrators contend that the exclusive nature of a best friendship is detrimental to the social well-being of all children involved.

Stout reports that one New York summer camp takes active measures to prevent close friendships from forming. “If two children seem to be too focused on each other, the camp will make sure to put them on different sports teams, seat them at different ends of the dining table or, perhaps, have a counselor invite one of them to participate in an activity with another child whom they haven’t gotten to know.”

Along with presenting the camp’s negative perspective on close friendships, Stout quotes a director of counseling from a St. Louis school, who also takes active measures to prevent such friendships. “I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults – teachers and counselors – we try to encourage them not to do that. We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.”

Reading the article, I found myself getting a little angry that adults in authority would manipulate a child’s natural bonds of friendship. As a parent, I appreciate their concern and desire to prevent a culture of bullying. However, I think their perspective is simply wrong.

No one would argue with promoting kindness and respect for all, but by making it impossible for kids to naturally form close friendships, I think administrators are actually making the situation worse. Psychologist and professor, Dr. Irene Levine points out on her Psychology Today blog that children, like adults have different friendship styles and preferences. Some children are naturally more social, while others are simply more comfortable spending time alone or with a close friend. Also according to Levine, “When teachers (or parents) hover too closely or meddle at the first sign of a tiff between kids, children are denied the opportunity to learn friendship lessons they will need as adults.”

I’ve written here briefly about my own experiences with my childhood best friend, Jeannie. Our friendship taught me invaluable lessons growing up. Jeannie lived down the street and we were nearly inseparable from kindergarten through high school. Our friendship continued in college and although we now live in separate states, when we do get together it’s as if no time’s passed. Husbands and children have been added to the mix, but our friendship still remains. We’ve both expressed how grateful we are for our longstanding friendship that weathered the storms of growing up. Loyalty, honesty, encouragement, selflessness, perseverance and grace are some of the life lessons I learned as our friendship spanned the years.

Even though we were “best friends,” we didn’t exclude people from being with us; rather our friendship enabled us to share with others. Reflecting on those “growing years,” any cliques I remember seemed to exist with those who desired to fit into a group, changing themselves into whatever was acceptable according to current “group think” mentality. Having a “best friend” was a strong support to simply be me, and not to struggle with being a chameleon and only acceptable when put into a mold. I’m bothered that adults would prevent kids from having such valuable, essential developmental experiences. I’m not sure I’d be the same person had Jeannie not been a part of my life. Dr. Levine closed her piece with, “It’s a mistake to make the leap into thinking that close friendships lead to bullying. In fact, when children are bullied or excluded, it is their true friends who “have their backs” and can buffer them from that trauma.”

In the Times article, psychology professor Brett Laursen questions the wisdom of encouraging kids to have “…all sorts of superficial relationships.” “We want children to get good at leading close relationships, not superficial ones.” I wholeheartedly agree with Levine and Laursen. Relationship skills are honed in the wonder years and it’s those skills we carry with us into adulthood; into our marriages, friendships, and workplaces. As a mother of two, I know it’s natural and necessary to help kids by providing needed wisdom and discernment. But taking steps to prevent any close friendships, I believe, robs our kids of the skills they’ll inevitably need later in life. Sometimes it’s better to just get out of the way.

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress