Custom Search

Viewing entries tagged
mental health

Comment

Once More - A Parents' Devotional

Hebrews 12:26-29

"At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth, but all the heavens.' The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."

 

There is a certain amount of homicidal thoughts I've harbored over the past several weeks, given the state of the children God has blessed me with.  The rage felt towards the people who have harmed them - the rage towards a system that didn't and won't fight for them - the rage at their behaviors that persist after so many years of treatment - and the rage at myself for feeling like I'm failing them day after day. Yesterday, I hit my tipping point. All of the things that I don't share - the things that are too personal and not just mine to share - they came pouring out of me in a volcanic explosion of frustration. Trying to hold back the emotions after seeing the effects of repeated abuse that has been done to my children, both the ones we could rescue and the one that we cannot, has broken me.

To say that I have felt "shaken" is an understatement.

Sunday night, as I sat in our small support group for families like ours, I realized that I am not the only shaken one at this moment. Between the therapies, tests, surgeries, IEPs, calls from the school, questions about birth families, remembered traumas, anxiety, fear, and heart-breaking discouragement, I recognized that we are all quite shaken.

My goal was, ultimately, to pull back. To forget. To push away all reminders of the horrors currently being shown to me. And with each attempt to move away, I was reminded of a time long, long ago when God's people went about life on their own. The time when they didn't listen to the very clear words that were being spoken to them. The time when the earth shook with the intention of God behind it. Do you see that God will literally allow the earth to be shaken if it will get us to look to Him?

It seems cruel, I know. I've sat many times with my eyes tightly shut, arms crossed over my chest, and grumbling under my breath because God wasn't "being fair"... I demonstrated a very unholy tantrum to a very holy God because my world was being shaken and I didn't like it. (Insert the proverbial "Wah, Wah, Waaaah" here.) But in Hebrews, God says He will shake not only the earth, but the heavens as well, proof to me that what breaks my heart also breaks Gods - but even more, it is to show that God is willing to test what can be shaken and what cannot - to display to us what is supposed to fall away and what is eternal. In a sense, God is panning our lives for gold, sifting and shaking away the rubbish, the behaviors, the abuses, the rage - leaving behind what is eternal.

That is pure beauty and love.

But friends, remember that what is eternal may not appear to us right now. We may feel the shaking for days, weeks, years (I know, you choked on a sob, too, didn't you?) We pray it isn't years before the sifting shows results, but the chances are, when we are parenting children who have been hurt and damaged so severely, that years of shaking and settling (wash, rinse, repeat) is what we are in for. It's what we signed up for.

But in Hebrews it does say that in the end, we are receiving a kingdom that is flawless. Our kids will not bring their baggage with them into eternity. WE will not bring ours either. We are shaken now and refined in His consuming fire so that our peace and joy will be that much more miraculous. Our ability to worship a God who shakes us is a testament to how great we know He is. We couldn't allow such pain if we didn't trust our Shaker. And it is a our willingness to allow God to do His job that is our tribute to Him.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."

 

unshakeable.jpg

Comment

Comment

Building Words

     When our son first came to us, we basically didn't understand anything he said. What we had lovingly referred to as "Mush Mouth" turned into issues that made it nearly impossible to decipher his limited words, leading to several years of speech therapy. However, 6 years later and we are still struggling to understand what our child is talking about... but this time we found out that it is because of limited vocabulary, poor reading comprehension, and struggles with his working memory. Language therapy is now the new prescription, on top of the numerous other therapies and techniques we've been told to work into his weekly routine.

     Quite frankly, it can be daunting to look at his schedule of doctor's appointments, medications, evaluations, and therapies... and if I'm daunted, I can only imagine how my son feels at age 12! So when I was contacted by a sweet woman from education.com and she presented me with a way to practice his language and verbal skills in a fun, less intimidating way, I was all in! And that's why I wanted to share this activity with you, too. Maybe you have a youngster with learning disabilities, speech/language therapy, reading difficulties, etc. Maybe you're looking for a way to spend quality time connecting to your child by using a bit of education (because who doesn't like to kill two birds with one stone, right?) If this is you, I encourage you to try this activity and take a look at some of the other game-based learning lessons their website has to offer.

    You never know when a little bit of learning could turn into a little bit of fun as well!

Activity: 

Building Words

   

Building Words.jpg

It’s a game . . . it’s phonics practice – no, it’s Building Words! If your youngster has a hard time remembering key vocabulary words, help him learn in style with a game that is as fun as it is educational. Change up the themes to accommodate holidays and family events to create a game that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils
  • Scratch paper
  • White board
  • Timer

What You Do:

  1. Help your child cut out squares from the construction paper. The squares should all be about the same size, but the actual dimensions don’t matter. Just make sure that the squares are at least bigger than a square inch.
  2. Use a pen to write one consonant letter on every paper square. Each consonant in the alphabet should be written at least once.
  3. Decide if this round of Building Words will have a theme. Themes can be inspired by the current season or an upcoming holiday -- even a favorite movie!
  4. Encourage your child to decorate the paper squares with the colored pencils. Remind him to keep the theme in mind as he colors.
  5. Shuffle the squares together.
  6. Give your child five of the squares, a sheet of scratch paper and a pencil.
  7. Write down one vowel.
  8. Start the timer. Your child has one minute to write down as many words as possible using the consonants on his squares and the vowel on the board.
  9. When the timer goes off, tell your child to set his pencil down.
  10. Look over the words he wrote down and correct any possible spelling issues. Ask him to tell you what each word means.
  11. Count up his score, awarding one point per word. He also gets a point for each correct definition.
  12. For themed rounds, award an extra point for words that relate to the theme. That means he can earn up to three points from a single word.
  13. To play another round, hand out five new squares and write down a new vowel.

Building Words is even more fun as a group game! Invite the whole family to take part in a round. For bigger groups, just create more consonant squares.

Enjoy!!

Comment

Comment

A Season to Head Bang

Sometimes I feel like I’m banging my head off a brick wall with my kids. Anyone else?? Often, I see no results, well apart from a headache. Other times I simply bang my head out of habit. Brush your teeth… Stop hiding your dirty clothes around your room… Leave your sister alone… Put the milk away… Take your meds… Stop peeing on your things… If it’s not yours, stop touching it… If you break one more toy, I’m never buying you another… Don’t forget your lunch… For God’s sake, wipe your butt! (Bang. Head. Hard.)

I say these things over and over again, not because I truly believe that my children will ever listen to my words, but because it’s my duty as a parent to say them, regardless of the outcome.  I am the teacher and the repeater and the official head banger of our household. I do these things so often that I usually run out of time to do other necessary things (laundry, grocery shopping, showering, etc). Generally, this leaves me feeling dissatisfied with my current life. Go figure, right? But honestly, if all I’m here for is to remind people to do things that they will, inevitably, not do, then what’s the point of my job as a mother?

Last week we had a group therapy session, me and the kiddos. I know with their diagnosis that I have to tread lightly when it comes to praise. If I give too much encouragement or show too much affection, the self-sabotage takes over and the tantrums will ensue. And, despite me knowing this, I praised my children during their therapy session. I was careful to do so quickly and without too much emotion, but it didn’t matter. My son arrived home and had a massive melt down. The “I hate you” train plowed through our home with a vengeance that evening, complete with screaming and slamming and all the back talk you can imagine. He even challenged The Hubs, which is quite insane because my husband is large and fairly intimidating when he scowls.

But none of this mattered to the boy. All that mattered was that I had broken the rules. I had said too much and it was his job to reestablish the chaos, leaving me to find the closest brick wall.

My daughter is much more passive in her need to rectify praise. She wants it desperately. But when she gets it, her body creates all manners of psychosomatic symptoms. She will literally develop any disease, wound, or body ache that she has seen someone else exhibit recently that got them attention. She’s my child who ends up in the nurse’s office with unsubstantiated illnesses that another classmate just had. Sadly, this week we are potty-training the toddler… therefore the way to get our attention and make the world right again was for her own bladder to regress.

She can’t help it, at least I don’t think she can. But it wouldn’t matter if she could or not. For me, it all comes down to the same thing. The fact that I am once again just hear to be the head banger.

The stress of all things concerning Isaac… the constant work I do educating others on watching for child abuse… the never-ending advocacy to get laws changed, to get social workers to do their jobs, to get people to see the horrific things happening to children all around us… it so often seems all for naught. I find myself spinning in circles all day long, only to wake up the next day and spin some more. I fight for my children, I fight with my children, and I fight the world that is harming children – day in and day out, I try to be the best that I can and follow the peculiar rules that this life needs me to follow so that my children don’t go postal on me. I try desperately to protect them and to train them and to remind them of all the good things they need to do and be. I want so much for all my children to be safe. Yet all I do is spin circles because it seems that no matter how much I try, very little changes.

The other day a female cardinal got trapped in our van while the windows were down. She frantically raced from one side of the van to the other, banging her head at every dead end. She also crapped on every surface of our freshly cleaned vehicle, but that’s another story entirely. When I went outside and saw what had happened, I tried to open the van door for this terrified bird to escape. In the meantime, her hubby tried to attack – divebombing every time I neared my van. His partner was trapped and he was frantic. He rammed himself into the glass so many times that he left bloody evidence of his efforts on each window.

Yet it wasn’t until after I got the door opened and both birds were free that I noticed that they have a nest in the tree above our van. These birds aren’t just partners, they are parents.

From that day on, these birds have guarded their nest with a vengeance. Our cars are constantly under attack and we, the owner of a Chrysler Town and County bird cage, are also a threat and are treated as such. From what I’ve read about cardinals, they are incredibly territorial and aggressive towards trespassers. I also read that they are amazing parents because they will go to any means necessary to care for their young.

This includes banging their heads off car windows and squawking wildly all day, every day.

Sound familiar?

We, the head bangers and circle spinners, we are not alone in our daily battle to protect our children. We may repeat endless efforts to ensure their safety and well-being and it may seem like nothing is ever changing… that we’re beating on the same glass of the same van each and every day.

But do you know what else I found while reading about cardinals? That they are often seen as a sign of Hope. That, after a long, bleak winter, the first sign of those bold, red feathers lets the rest of creation know that spring has arrived – that change is coming.

That there is hope for something more.

And sometimes that means a season of banging our heads and squawking loudly each and every day. But it is just that… a season. And in the end, our young will know that we did all we could to protect them and to set them on the best path possible. Because for everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. We will not spin circles forever, friends. It’s just our time to remind all around us of the Hope that has arrived.

Comment

Comment

It's a Book Launch!

     So, this week has FINALLY arrived! And I want to cordially invite all of you to the launch and first signing of my new book, The Children Who Raised Me. (Insert all manner of joyous sounds here!) Come and join me for some light refreshments, a brief reading, and time to chat with the author! I will be signing books as well and will have a limited number for purchase if you haven't already bought yours (books are $20). This is a family friendly event, so feel free to bring your friends, family, and random people from the street (as long as they agree - no abductions, please).

WHEN:  Saturday, April 8th, 2017 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm

WHERE: The 1st Baptist Church of Ellwood City (220 Fountain Ave. Ellwood City, PA 16117)

     Additionally, if you're interested in having me come speak at your church, agency, school, or group - contact me HERE to schedule! I love to share information on Adoption, Foster Care, Mental Health, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and ways to improve our Child Welfare Systems.

     See you all Saturday!!!

     XOXO,

     Shivonne

Comment

Comment

A Guide to "The Children Who Raised Me"

I am humbled, excited, overwhelmed, and just plain giddy – my first book is finally complete and has been released for purchase through Austin Brothers Publishing! This journey has been freakishly long with its fair share of mountains and valleys… but in the end, I think the timing has been perfectly God-ordained.

Just in the past few days, I’ve had numerous questions asked of me that I thought would be good to address here, in a blog post. It feels almost like an online interview where I get to answer your own questions for everyone else to benefit from – except that I get time to think about each answer without getting nervous, which is my personal favorite way to do things! So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Q: Is your book going to be available in stores or just online?

A: My book is currently released on my new publisher’s website (Austin Brothers Publishing) based out of Texas. In just a short time, the book will also be loaded onto Amazon.com, and it will be added to the Ingram Catalog, which is the largest book catalog in the country. This will allow my book to be ordered at churches, bookstores, schools, coffee shops, etc. Depending on which stores pick up my book will depend on if it will be available locally or just remain online or in catalogs.

Q: Will there be an e-book and a hardcover edition available?

A: There WILL be an e-book available by next week, actually! The price for the e-book should be around $7 and will appear on my publisher’s website. Additionally, it will be available for purchase on ITunes, Amazon, Smashwords, and all the other major electronic reading applications. As far as a hardcover addition, this will depend on how well the book sells. There is quite a hefty expense that comes along with formatting the book into a hardcover, so if a need appears to be great enough for it, I will consider that down the road!

Q: Why did you choose to use your children’s real names in the book?

A: This was a topic that I thought long and hard about. In the end, it came down to the fact that my children’s names are on my Facebook page and on my website – all of which is public domain. To change their names in the book would basically be moot and probably confusing to those who have followed along with the blog. I don’t want anyone assuming that I went out and got an entirely new slew of children running around! That would get me committed for sure!

Q: How did you choose to develop your book into the format you did with each kid having their own section instead of the traditional chapters we normally see in books?

A: Well, when I first started the book, I figured I’d go chronologically and with normal chapters that would generally appear in a memoir. However, it read very heavy – the events that occurred in our lives had great periods of time in which there was an awful lot of darkness with not a whole lot of light. So when I decided to break the book up by child, all of a sudden the reader was able to start over in the story and take a break from the gloom, see certain incidents that were specific to each child, and get more breaks with humor and joy in the midst of the heaviness. All in all, I wanted the book to feel like a meal, filled with light courses, entrees, pallet cleansers, and dessert! In the end, I wanted the reader to feel full and complete, which is what I hope I accomplished!

Q: How did you decide what personal information to keep in versus edit out?

A: This was another very tricky element in writing a memoir. There are so many factors that go into telling a story with as much accuracy as possible without over-sharing someone else’s tale. I approached each section through my eyes only, because that would be the only way to keep it accurate to what I had experienced. I am not capable of making assumptions of anyone else’s feelings or thoughts, just my own perceptions of things. And as with all personal information, I tried to tell the readers as much as I could about my own perplexing feelings and struggles. In that, I wanted to be as open and as free as my heart would allow. But when it came to the rest of my family and others involved in our story, I tried to edit out just the facts – things that I was given from CYS, agency workers, doctors, and my family members themselves.

Even so, I took the time to have my family read the book. I wanted as many editing eyes on the emotional stuff as possible. This included my older two children. Whereas I didn’t let them read the entire book (simply because it’s far too heavy for their young minds), I did read them many of the details of their own sections in the book. I allowed them the opportunity to say yes or no to certain events. If they felt even slightly uncomfortable with parts, I edited them or removed them altogether. My oldest, Cameron, asked why I talked about their behaviors so much. I explained that this was so other parents could have a better understanding of the struggles their own children face. With that simple answer, my kids gave me their blessing to tell all the goofy things they do, just so that it will help you all!

Q: How did you come up with the title, I really like it!

A: Why, thank you! I like it, too! But I cannot take credit for the title. That was all God! I was sleeping one night after a ridiculously long day of editing, and I sat straight up in bed as if I’d been awakened by a fire alarm. The only thing running through my head was the title God wanted me to use: The Children Who Raised Me. From that moment on, my editing became smooth and the book began to flow in a new direction, pointing to a main aspect that I wanted to come from this - that in a family, we are ALL a part of shaping one another. Each of us has a purpose and a place, and the adults are learning right along with the Littles. As we bring all of our broken parts to the table, we are able to use them to create a whole unit, one that looks and functions differently than any other. Again, I cannot speak to how my children feel or think, but I can attest to the fact that my children, all four of them, (and my husband) have had a significant role in raising me to become the woman God needs me to be.

Q: Who is your target audience for this book?

A: Well, the book has a great deal of content in it, so it can be used to reach a great deal of people. When I first started out, I wanted the book to be used for other parents raising children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Then, I realized that parents raising any special needs child may find what we’ve gone through as beneficial. And then I thought that families looking to foster or adopt may really want to see what often doesn’t get shared by caseworkers as they try to get children placed in homes – the dirty, raw parts of parenting someone else’s children. And THEN I found out that schools and mental health agencies were interested in the book to use as a training tool for their employees, helping them understand the complexities of attachment disorders and how to manage them differently than other disorders.

Overall, this book is for any parent, guardian, or adult that is working with children – it’s for the person who's lost a child and feels like they’ve been told that “it’s time to move on”, even though they’re not ready yet. It's for the parents struggling with infertility and weighing all the options through the emotional lenses they are wearing. It’s for the marriage that is hanging on by a thread under the weight of all that family entails. It’s for the professionals who want to do more but are bound by the legalities and insufficiencies of a broken child welfare and judicial system. This book, The Children Who Raised Me, is for anyone who is looking for Hope and needs to know that they’re not alone in their search.

Q: Are you available for speaking engagements? If so, what are the topics that you cover and your fee?

A: I AM available for speaking engagements! Despite having a tummy that HATES public speaking, the rest of me actually quite enjoys it. I have spoken at churches, schools, mental health agencies, and adoption groups so far – depending on where I speak and what they’re interested in learning, I can share about trauma issues and how it effects children and attachment, RAD, parenting, adoption and foster care issues that need to be changed in our child welfare agency, how churches and organizations can best rise up to help adoptive and foster parents… and I can even lead worship if you’re interested 😊.

But as far as a fee, I do not have a set amount. Because so many churches or groups are small, I would ask for a love offering of whatever is doable for that particular group. If I speak at an agency, I would just ask for a comparable guest speaker amount, that’s all. My goal is to bless, encourage, educate, and love on those who need it. That’s not something I am able to put a price on, and I never want to be out of anyone’s reach… trust me, I don’t think of myself highly enough for such things! But I do ask that my expenses be covered so that I can continue on in what I feel God’s leading me to do!

If you’re interested in booking me for a speaking engagement, you can email me through my Contact’s Page on the website.

Q: Are you planning on writing a second book?

A: YES! I absolutely love writing and will do it until my dying day – when a book will be coming out is still up in the air, especially since this one has taken up so much of my efforts! But definitely look for one in the future.

Q: How can I get my book signed by you?

A: This question is cracking me up! You guys, my handwriting is not really all that exciting, but apparently this is a big deal because this is the question I was asked the most! So, for those of you who really want to see my name on the inside of your book cover, then watch my MommyhoodSFS Facebook page and my website for upcoming book signings. If I’m not going to be in your area and you want to set up an engagement for me, you feel free!! Otherwise, we can find a way for you to mail me your book to be signed. Again… cracking me up right now!

 

Okay, I hope this has been helpful for everyone! In addition to the book, don’t forget that I have an online membership program that is helpful to professionals and guardians in dealing with children with special needs, attachment issues, and mental health diagnoses. Check it out on the site for further info!

Love to you all and thank you, once again, for all the support you’ve shown. I am so blessed to meet so many beautiful people through such a painful topic – God really does know how to make beauty from ashes.

Hugs and Hope,

Shivonne

Comment