Of Kids, Birthdays and Moms

My oldest child’s birthday was this past Thursday. My Bubbies turned 17 years old! I honestly cannot believe how fast time goes. I’m always telling younger mothers how time flies and to cherish the time when their babes are little and sweet. Even when I’m saying the words, I can see the look of pure exhaustion in their faces and know they are thinking, “Please God, let time move a little, teeny bit faster!” Yes, the days may seem super duper long when you are slinging dirty diapers and baby food, but the years fly by oh so fast.  Hang in there, young mamas, freedom is coming!

I am showing my age…we’ll talk about that in a later post…anyways…

As usual during birthday “season” in our home, I posted the obligatory, gushing, sappy social media post on my son’s birthday and I suddenly had a revelation. Not only did he turn 17 years old, September 20th being the day of his birth, but it was also the anniversary of the day that I became a mother. I got to thinking…we celebrate our children’s birthday with such joy and exuberance on the day WE GAVE BIRTH TO THEM. They get a party, cake and presents. I have spent an awful lot energy, time and money on my kids’ birthdays. But really, what did they have to do to warrant such a celebration? Come down the birth canal or pop out of a c-section incision? I mean, I’m the one who decided to try and get pregnant, endured 38 weeks of pure misery, weeks of bed rest, pre-eclampisa and a horribly long induction process that ended in an emergency c-section where I almost died. Like seriously, though. I mean, I get celebrating the child born on that day, but someone should say congratulations to the mom for growing, birthing and keeping the child alive for however many years or SOMETHING! I know that there is Mothers’ Day, but that is just one day. I had THREE kids! In THREE years! Those kids should be celebrating me and thanking me for giving them life. (Settle down, I know God is the giver of all life, but He chose me as the vessel to carry and give birth to those kids.)  More like, “Happy Giving-Birth-to-Life Day, Mother!” Just sayin’.

Side note:  Motherhood is truly a thankless job, yet one in which I am happy to be a participant. Raising human beings is quite the task and not for the weak..especially during the teenage years and beyond. I thank God for my little-ish (all taller than me now) blessings and they truly make me over-the-moon proud of them every day. Sometimes, my heart feels like it will literally burst out of my chest! My kids are the best!

My friend commented on my son’s birthday post, “Happy Momiversary!’ Perfectly said. And from now on, when I see someone post a “Happy Birthday” on social media, I will wish their child a “Happy Birthday” and the mom a “Happy Momiversary” and congratulate them for being such an awesome, life-giving human being. Rock on, Moms! You’re amazing!

By the way, I have scripture to back up my point of view.  Look up Proverbs 31: 28-29.  “Her children rise up and call her blessed;  Her husband also, and he praises her. ‘Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.'” Word, ladies. That’s the Word.

 

 

 

If You Give A Mom Three Toddlers

This is a guest post by one of my dearest friends. It’s just in time for Mother’ Day! Hope you enjoy, “If You Give A Mom Three Toddlers” in the style of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.”

If you give a mom three toddlers, she’ll probably need a shower.

While she’s showering her two year old will probably pull the shower curtain back and tell her “Hi, I like your boobies.” After she showers, she’ll want to put clean clothes on.

While she’s dressing a Jehovah’s Witness will ring her doorbell and her four-year-old son will answer the door for her.

She will run to the door only half dressed and tell them that this is obviously not a good time, and the Jehovah’s Witness will laugh at her.

After she is dressed, her kids will want to color with markers, she thinks, “Two out of three are occupied, this is a good time to unload the dishwasher!” While the kids are coloring, her two daughters, 2 and 3, will decide they are a better canvas than the coloring book and they will need to wash their hands.

While they are washing their hands, they’ll think it is fun to fill the sink with dirty, soapy water. The sink full of soapy water will make them think, we should throw bubbles all over the bathroom! Her son will hear the commotion in the bathroom, and he will not want to miss out on the fun. Now, he will join in the chaos, also throwing bubbles and water all over the bathroom. Now the bathroom sink, floor, and walls need wiped, and all three kids’ clothes need changed. This makes her think she should get dressed and change out of her pajamas, too.As she is undressing the girls, being naked makes the girls think that they should play dress up. The girls dump their bin of dress up clothes and pick out princess dresses for themselves. Seeing the girls play dress up, reminds her son that he has a foam sword he can use for dress up, too. Playing with his foam sword, reminds her son that its fun to scare and chase the cat with his sword. As her son is chasing the cat, and the girls are dancing and singing to “Let It Go,” she runs into the kitchen to rescue the cat, trips over the dress-up bin, and runs into and hits her shin on the forgotten, open, unloaded dishwasher.

While in the kitchen, she remembers that it is lunchtime and decides to fix lunch, and throws some chicken nuggets in the microwave and pours the kids milk. The chicken nuggets are cooking and this makes her think, “I forgot to eat today, ” and she hears her stomach growling. All three kids are eating their lunch, and the straws in their cups make them want to blow bubbles in their milk. While they are blowing bubbles in their milk, one cup tips over and spills milk on the kitchen floor, and all over the kitchen island. She begins cleaning the island and kitchen floor and finds the three marker lids she lost this morning and a chicken nugget from yesterday. She thinks “I should just clean the entire kitchen floor while I’m down here.” As she cleans the kitchen floor, her kids finish eating their lunch, and her stomach continues to growl.

She finishes cleaning the kitchen floor, and now all the kids are wiped clean, dressed and watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Now, she can finish cleaning the bathroom sink, floor and wall; unloading the dishwasher; picking up markers; and washing the dirty, wet clothes and towels. She feels good about her accomplishments and sits down to eat the leftover scraps of chicken nuggets from her kids plates.

As she is sitting down for her two-minute lunch, her two year old, who wears big girl undies, runs by and hollers, “Mom, I poopied!” She tackles her two year old to change her, which makes her four year old think its time to wrestle. After she is done wrestling, and wiping the two year old, she somehow ends up with poop on her pants, on her arm and under her fingernail, maybe even in her hair. She can’t get the smell of poop out of her nose. She thinks, “Its only one o’clock, I already showered today,” but if you give a mom three toddlers . . . she’ll probably need a shower.

Written by: Larissa Hoffman

Bethany’s Story Part 6: Jesus is All I Need

In Parts 1-5 of Bethany’s story, we’ve learned about the relationships in her life and how they changed through divorce, loss and pain. Today, we’re going to examine and discover Bethany’s relationship with her Father…her heavenly Father, that is. Did you just decide this blog isn’t worth reading, not worth your time? I beg to differ with you, friend. It’s very interesting and just a little controversial. Trust me, you want to keep reading.

As we learned in Part 1 of Bethany’s Story, Bethany was brought up in a loving, Christian home. She loved Jesus with all her heart. But once her parents divorced, her life was completely turned upside down, inside out. Neither parent took her to church after the divorce and God was all but removed from her life. We know her story. She grew up, married and had three boys. Bethany always believed in God and would sometimes talk about Him to her husband. When John lost his job, Bethany reassured him that God would provide for them.

When Bethany’s oldest son, Ben, was ten, his friend from down the street invited him to church. Bethany allowed him to go and soon he had an encounter with Jesus and became born again. Being “born again,” is when you understand what Jesus Christ did for you by suffering, dying on the cross and raising from the dead…accepting what He did for YOU and knowing that nothing you have done or ever will do (good or bad) can save you from going to hell or get you into heaven. Believing in Jesus and deciding you will live your life for Him…that is being born again. God’s love will fill you and you will feel totally different. And that is just the first step of an awesome and wonderfully fulfilling life, here on earth and in eternity. If you’re not born again, also known as saved, you’re going to want to experience that ASAP.

Ben was going to church regularly with the neighbors and started begging his parents to go, too. Bethany and John weren’t too keen on the idea, but when Ben was persistent, they decided they should go. They began attending church on and off for a while. John wasn’t really “into it” and Bethany felt strange things when she was there.

“At first, I felt uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if I liked what I was feeling.”

“There was a short period of time a few years before this when I had started to get serious about the Lord, where I had some real experiences.”

She knew this feeling she was having meant that God was working on the inside of her and wanted to change some things about her life. She was not ready to let go of certain things in her life…

“I began feeling God more strongly than before. I knew for sure that He was pulling me. I felt that way on Sundays and then would live my life like normal during the rest of the week.”

So, she was experiencing the love of God and His presence when she came to church on Sunday mornings. But then, during the week, she’d forget all about Him and live the way she wanted. Sound familiar to anyone? Yes, salvation or being born again is all about what Jesus has done for us. BUT, truly living for Jesus, surrendering your life completely to Him is what He wants for each of us. That doesn’t mean our lives will be boring or not full of fun, but on the contrary, our lives will be abundant. Abundant with God’s love and His blessings. There is nothing better than living your life knowing that you are walking in the plan that God has designed especially for you. That’s true fulfillment! And isn’t that what we all want? To be fulfilled? To be happy? To have peace? To be secure?

Okay, here comes that controversy I eluded to earlier..

“I had been smoking marijuana for a few years. I saw nothing wrong with it because it made me happy and less anxious.”

The marijuana helped Bethany deal with the stress in her marriage and her son who has Asperger’s. It was a coping mechanism for her and she felt like she needed it to make it through each day.

“At first, it was a fun thing to do on girls’ weekends. Then I realized that I liked it way too much. But it made my life easy.”

Everything was better through the high of marijuana. Her kids were adorable and funny. Her husband was great. Everything was awesome after smoking a little weed.

“It got to the point where I made excuses to do it more. It helped me sleep, my kids were hilarious. I had no stress when I smoked.”

“I depended on the marijuana to deal with my stress-husband, kids, money. I would turn to it and it would make everything okay.”

After a while, John started to get concerned with the frequency and amount of marijuana that Bethany was using. She was spending a lot of money, too. She admits that it got to the point that she was smoking all day, every day. John told her, “I don’t know you any other way” (other than high).

Bethany was still smoking when she rededicated her life back to God. She didn’t see a problem with it and wasn’t eager to give it up.

“I was afraid to let it go. Marijuana was my friend. I felt there was no reason to quit.”

Soon though, Bethany began feeling like she shouldn’t be doing it anymore. That’s what happens when you start to draw close to God. He slowly refines you like gold in a fire.

Bethany searched the Bible for scriptures that said she shouldn’t be smoking marijuana. She could only find those pertaining to drunkenness. She reasoned that she had already given up alcohol, so that didn’t apply to her. She couldn’t find anything that said it was wrong or not wrong.

“I had a moment standing in front of my dresser one day. I was ready to light up again. I clearly heard God say to me, ‘You put this before me. It’s the first thing you think about in the morning, in the afternoon and before you go to bed. It’s taking the place of me.’ I put it down and said aloud, ‘Okay, I’m done. It’s all about you. I will never do it again. I will completely lean on You.’ I haven’t touched it since.”

You see, God wants us to completely rely on Him. For our stress, our worries, our sadness, our pain, our guilt, our regrets…for everything. Why? Because He is capable of handling it all. Way more capable than we are. That is why we don’t ever need to rely on drugs, alcohol, sex or other coping mechanisms to deal with life.

Since that day in her bedroom, Bethany has been free. This act of surrender and obedience to God opened up doors in her life. It set into motion many good things for her husband and her entire family.

John was saved and baptized. Her younger boys were saved and baptized. Her mom and stepdad started coming back to church and have grown closer to God. Her brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their kids got saved. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of God’s goodness and favor in Bethany’s life.

Bethany experiences true and powerful moments with God.

“There are times when it is very obvious that He is here with me, like He’s standing right in front of me. Sometimes in worship services, I have a hard time physically standing. I feel completely undone. At times, it’s hard to breathe.”

“Being in the presence of God – it’s like nothing else is even happening around me. I forget where I am. It’s just me and Him. It’s the best feeling ever! That’s how you know that God is real.”

One moment with Jesus, that’s all it takes to convince even the biggest skeptic.

“That’s God showing you He is real. When you experience these moments. I mean, you don’t go to church and just make up those feelings. It’s real. He’s real.”

Some friendships of Bethany’s were lost when she became a Christian. But, God has replaced or restored those friendships one hundred fold. Friendship is so important to Bethany. The Bible talks about how you may lose friends when you follow Jesus. When her friends began to reject her, she clung to God’s promises.

“I trust you. All I need is you.”

Bethany says she never even thought to pray for friends, but alas! God knows the desires of our hearts. He knows what we need and desire before we even ask. God gave Bethany a wonderful church family who love her to pieces.

“I have so many people in my life that I never thought I would have relationships with. When I’m at church, I feel like I’m home.”

Because Bethany has totally surrendered her life to God, she and her family are blessed in so many ways. Yes, salvation is ultimately about not going to hell, but it is about so much more. We don’t have to wait to get to heaven to experience God’s goodness and favor. We can have heaven on Earth. If you have ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer, that’s what it is talking about. “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s exactly what Bethany has been seeing in her life. A little bit of heaven on Earth.

stairway-to-heaven

Bethany’s Story Part 5: Asperger’s Does Not Define My Child

Bethany loved being a mommy. Her first son was perfect in every way. He was smart, well-behaved and brilliant! She and John decided they wanted to have another child. This time it wasn’t as easy. After four years of infertility, two rounds of IVF and fertility drugs, Bethany finally became pregnant. She gave birth to another healthy, adorable baby boy. Although her relationship with John was strained, Bethany was happy. Motherhood gave her joy and a purpose in life. Fast forward two years later, baby boy #3 arrives. We’ll call him Johnny.

Bethany knew something was different about Johnny from the beginning. He was not a content baby like her older boys. He cried, or, more like screamed, A LOT. A lot, as in ALL.THE.TIME. Bethany, afraid something was really wrong, took him to the doctor frequently. They switched his formula several times. Nothing worked. He always seemed gassy and in pain. Bethany hadn’t slept a full night since he was born. Finally, at 14 months, she took matters into her own hands and figured out he had a dairy allergy. She removed all dairy from his diet and he seemed a little better. He finally began to sleep at night! What a relief!

Johnny was a VERY active toddler. Bethany could never take her eyes off of him, even for a second. Extremely busy and hyperactive, he was the most difficult child in the family.

“If I’d had him first, I wouldn’t have had any more kids.”

When Johnny was a toddler, Bethany began taking her kids to church. She wanted her children to know about Jesus like she did. A couple of people asked her if she ever had Johnny checked for ADD and behavioral issues.

“I would just get mad. I never thought it was anything serious. I just thought he was a very active boy.”

Bethany stopped taking her boys to that church when little Johnny went missing. No one could find him anywhere. Bethany had taken her eyes off of him for one second and he disappeared. They finally found him, but Bethany decided she had enough. It was several years before she took them to church again.

When Johnny was just a toddler, Bethany made major life changes for her family. She had been studying about the benefits of eating organically and living a natural lifestyle. Changing the eating habits of her family seemed to help Johnny’s behavior. She cut out all preservatives and food dyes, as well as anything genetically modified or synthetically produced.8418884

Johnny started preschool. Bethany says, “He was really bad there.” But the teachers assured him he was just immature and would be okay in kindergarten.

“In the back of mind, I knew there was something different about him. I kept telling myself that he was just an active boy.”

But she admits, there were signs… for instance:

He was obsessed with Transformers. He would line them up neatly, obsessively.

He was obsessed with cars and blocks, incessantly lining them up and stacking them.

Bethany recalls one time when she was “helping” him stack his colored blocks. He freaked out when she stacked the wrong color in the wrong order. He started screaming, became furious and threw the block across the room. She recognized this behavior as sure signs of OCD.

“I always asked the preschool teachers if they thought he was okay. They reassured me that he was fine and was ready for kindergarten.”

Johnny was an extremely affectionate little boy. He loved to give and get hugs and sit on grownups laps, etc. A sure sign that he liked someone was if he wanted to sit right up next to you and hold your hand. When he started kindergarten, he had a wonderful teacher who would allow him to hug her each day. This was helpful, but he didn’t do well with the instruction given in class. He needed to repeat kindergarten. Unfortunately, the school refused to give him the same teacher for his second year of kindergarten. This was when the real problems began for Johnny.

The new teacher’s exact words were, “We just don’t get along.” It was blatantly obvious that she just didn’t like Johnny. She insisted he get an aide to sit with him in class. All the testing had to be done in order for this to happen. His teacher was so sure he had a learning disability. Much to her surprise, he did not. The issue was behavioral.

“I had to sit in these meetings by myself and they were so mean to me.”

In order for him to get the aide in the classroom and further help, Bethany had to take him to a doctor to get an official diagnosis. After a 15 minute appointment, Bethany walked out with a diagnosis for her baby boy.

Asperger’s and ADHD.

“Every day I dropped him off at school, I cried thinking about leaving my baby there.”

One day at school, something unbelievable happened to Johnny. Remember how Johnny liked to give hugs? Well, his principal had a problem with that. She thought it was weird and decided to do something to “help” him with it. She put a weighted jacket on Johnny, saying that she thought the compression of the jacket would help him since he wanted hugs all the time. She said she didn’t want the other kids to think he was weird (wanting to give hugs), yet she put this jacket on him in front of everyone. First of all, these types of jackets are only designed for the most severe cases AND are only allowed to be used by law with the signed permission of the parents. When Johnny came home and told Bethany what happened, she was out-of-her-mind enraged. He told her, “Mommy, I’m such a loser.” My heart breaks for Johnny!  I can only imagine what Bethany was feeling!!!

Bethany prayed about it and decided to visit a local Christian school. She took her husband and Johnny with her. When they left, Johnny said, “I think this is where I need to be.”af7c630824111cc8521b517c9ad4dcee

Bethany pulled Johnny out of the public school system the next day and has never taken him back. In the Christian school, he received everything he needed socially and got the love and attention he craved. Paying for private school was a financial strain for the family, but it was worth it. Johnny was able to feel the love of Jesus there. He was able to express his love for Jesus and others openly, without fear of being punished or ridiculed.

“Whenever he was having a bad day, they never focused on him being the problem. They never made him feel like he was a bad person.”

Johnny’s personal relationship with Jesus grew while he attended Christian school. Teachers would comment to Bethany that during Chapel, they could see the presence of God all over Johnny. His worship to God was so open and innocent. At night, Bethany would catch him staring out his window, blinds wide open, head stacked high on all his pillows, talking to Jesus. People with Asperger’s are usually very affectionate and sensitive, making it easy to connect with God. This is the case with Johnny.

As time has gone on, Johnny has grown in many ways. Before, he could not make friends. He was unable to make a connection with his peers. Now, at 11 years old, he has three very close friends. That’s a huge accomplishment!

Recently at a church service, Bethany observed her baby boy during worship. He was on his knees, hands raised, praying in tongues, unashamed. When it comes to his time with Jesus, he doesn’t care who is around!

About 3 years ago, Bethany further modified Johnny’s diet, cutting out all gluten. The difference in his behavior is like night and day. Literally, over night, he became a different child once the gluten was out of his system. Now, if he eats anything containing gluten, he gets a migraine and becomes violently ill. He also can’t control his anger after he’s eaten gluten. It really is remarkable what impact gluten can have on a person!

Bethany is now homeschooling Johnny. Christian school was great for him socially, but he still struggled academically. Not wanting him to get too far behind, she decided to take his education into her own hands. His reading is improving, as is his spelling skills. He has an awesome imagination and writes fantastic stories. His memory is unbelievable and he excels in math. He has straight As!

Johnny’s teachers at church have commented recently about his behavior. They told Bethany that they are impressed with Johnny and his level of maturity he has been demonstrating lately. Hearing these things about her baby boy is so good for Bethany’s heart! After years of hearing how terrible he is, what a relief!

Not that Johnny is perfect, of course, no child is. He still struggles with certain impulsive behaviors like stealing. He just can’t help himself. He takes candy and gum from his mom’s purse. He is not good at hiding the evidence and always gets caught. He is always remorseful, but this is an area they are still working on.

When Johnny was little, Bethany was always afraid to take him out in public. He was so fast and would run off and get lost. Now, Bethany doesn’t worry about that. Johnny stays right with her. If you saw Johnny in the store with his mom, you would never guess he was different than any other kid.

Has your child received a diagnosis like Johnny? Does the situation seem hopeless? I assure it is not. Your child is not defined by a diagnosis. Your child is special and unique. Embrace the uniqueness as a positive thing!  Be encouraged by Bethany and Johnny’s story.

*I would like to add this little note. Bethany has NEVER put Johnny on any type of medication. She has controlled his behavior through diet, natural supplements and changes in his daily routine. If you would like to know more about what she has done or is doing, I can get you in contact with her.

Lastly, here is a passage of Scripture from Psalm 134 to speak over your child. Life and death are in the words we speak to our children!

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com

A Mommy’s Heartache

The words of my tween daughter pierce my heart like a knife.

“Mommy, why are my thighs bigger than all the other girls’ in my dance class?”

“Mommy, do you think I sing as good as my friend?”

“Mommy, why can’t I be funny like her?”  

Question after question.  Irrational insecurities.  Constant critical comparisons.

Her criticism hurts me.  Words that wound this mama’s heart.

You see, my daughter is perfect in my eyes.  She is beautiful, graceful, talented, kind, loving and absolutely perfect in every way.

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When she looks around and sees that she is not the same as everyone else, she imagines that something is wrong with her.  She listens to the lies whispered in her ear by the lips of the great deceiver.

I draw a picture for her with my words of how she has been deliberately and delicately designed by our Creator.  I explain how she alone can be Lily Marie.  She is the only one He made like her.

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But still, she is unsure and my sadness is a tangible aching in my own chest.  If only she could understand and see herself as I see her…

Just a moment though…

How often do I compare myself to other women?  Other wives?  Other mothers?  Other writers?

Daily and constantly.

Do I wound my Father’s heart when I am critical of myself?

Every time my daughter spews negative words about herself, God grabs my attention.

As I comfort and encourage my own daughter, His Words contradict the onslaught of lies from satan for both of His daughters.

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He sees me as perfectly crafted, created for a purpose.  There is no else like me on this earth.  Only I can do what He created me to do.  Only I can be Susie.

I cannot be Lisa or Kelly or Kim or Rachel…But I can be Susie.

God made no carbon copies…only carefully crafted creations.  

                                                                                       lilypointe                                                                                                                                                                                            

I am a carefully crafted creation.  My daughter is a carefully crafted creation. You are a carefully crafted creation.

Let’s be who God made us to be.  And praise Him for making us exactly how He intended.

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”  Psalm 139:14