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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Top 10 Reasons I Love Living with Tigger

Top 10 Reasons I Love Living With Tigger

I have to pause sometimes at School Return Time when I’m low on sleep and trying to track with the beautiful ADHD brain that comes home and pitches 1,000 ideas to me at once.

It’s a fascinating mind that can do this. He has my utmost respect and admiration,

but

I have to remind myself to be fully present.

  • To not just “uh-huh” him, to engage with follow-up questions
  • To acknowledge a few of those ideas
  • To affirm that his heart to publish a series of 11 dog adventure stories (with a bubble on the jacket to market my book, LOL–his idea–he even asked me first!) is seen for the kind intentions that go with it

Too many “stop it, slow down, pay attention, settle down, be still”s in his day already. Someone needs to plug in and hear what he is really saying. For anyone who loves a ‪‎special mind‬ out there, here’s something we must be careful of: Monitoring our own frustration levels and responding to a few of those brain races can make a significant difference in those children feeling heard.

The busy, quick-motion ADD/ADHD mind can feel unheard much of the time. Some of it is how they are wired: We might respond, but the ADHD child is already moving on to the next 12 things before he/she gets an answer.

My goal isn’t to be a perfect listener. I couldn’t fully track with the Tigger mind in my house despite my best efforts. But I can do a very simple thing: I can listen for the theme of the moment, and I can respond.

And I can dwell on why living with Tigger is a precious gift that teaches me more about myself and about life than I would otherwise know.

So, here are my Top 10 all-time favorite reasons why I love living with my bouncy-minded, springy-bodied child…

10. ADHD Super Powers. Jump-dancing to a real beat in his head while doing a fluoride rinse while brainstorming ideas for his next dog book while smiling at us while shaking off hair from the haircut I just gave him while humming = ADHD Super Powers, and ADHD Super Powers are to be envied and admired.

9. Multitasking Visionary. He brainstorms like a beast, furiously scribbling down ideas in artwork and words. He’s a visionary who plans to save birds from other animals getting them, run a toy factory, and patent his ideas on how to make and market ant killer before someone else figures out his formula—all at the same time.

8. Fast-Talker. Talking swiftly is an art form to him. He has perfected the art of race conversation. I can’t in any way keep up with it, not even with New York’s finest taxi cab drivers jumping on the highway that is his mind, but I am forever in awe of it. Incessant chatting is also our first clue that attending (focus) is going AWOL. It’s a red flag we’ve grown to appreciate before the spiral into anxiety.

7. The Absent-Minded Professor. Picking up clothes and reminder lists? Who needs to do that when you’re already thinking about ten adventures you’d like to have in the next five minutes? While the rest of us appreciate when he stops leaving evidence of himself draped across all surfaces, there is something to be said for rockin’ it carefree and using the mind for other pursuits.

6. Spontaneity. He’s fun to be around because you never quite know what will come out of his mouth, and it’s often very funny. And yes, sometimes, it’s so impulsive, it’s embarrassing, but I’m learning to be that way too—less uptight and more spontaneous—and I don’t have ADHD. Maybe we’re all more fun now because of Tigger—yeah, I’m pretty sure we are.

5. “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers Is Tiggers Are Wonderful Things!”*  Stairs, couches, and items jumping off of stairs and couches are meant to be enjoyed with enthusiasm and Tarzan-like agility. Why be boring and walk, stride, or amble, when you can bounce indiscriminately all over the house, furniture, wooden and concrete structures, etc.?

4. Practicing Still. No efforts are small. Even the frustrating moments before a timed math test are huge, but in the attempt to decrease distraction, we learn to be more still as a family during times of concentration—not all of the time, but enough to remind ourselves that quiet can be good. We don’t need noise all of the time. Tigger has plenty of that inside his brain. And we all have more than we need of that in our daily lives. “Still” doesn’t happen often, but when it does, we treasure it, and we learn to practice it. And when “still” doesn’t go as planned, we bounce as we process a thought because “the wonderful thing about Tiggers is…” (refer back to No. 5).

3. Celebrating Small Moments. There is victory in not reading the same sentence over and over again and being able to move on to the next one. Focus and concentration are not taken for granted when they don’t come easily, and Tigger is open to celebrating small moments in big ways. We define success differently because of him. It has softened our edges and has made us more understanding of the different forms that accomplishment and achievement can take.

2. New Vocabulary/Keeping Positive. We are learning to take “Be still!” “Sit still!” “Focus!” “Pay attention!” and replace them with words that have more meaning for someone who can’t do those things. We’re learning: “You can do this.” “Take a deep breath.” “One piece at a time.” “I love your mind.” “Wow, great job sticking with the worksheet until you finished it.” Can’t we all use a retake on some of the things we say regularly? Tigger makes us more mindful of what comes out of our mouths.

1. Loud, Risk-Taking Love. Everything about Tigger feels like a loud explosion sometimes: the emotions, the frustrations, the perseveration, the energy level, and the noise. But he also oozes grace and compassion because he knows what it’s like to sit with a weighted lap pad or on a yoga ball at school, to be called out of class for services, to need extra time to process a test, to be told endlessly to start his work. He knows that unwanted spotlight, the pain of disappointing adults over and over again for not meeting expectations, and the longing to not be different. So when another kid is struggling, he has compassion radar the likes of which would shame the best of clergy. He gets it. And he loves deeply, risking big emotionally just as he does in almost every other area of his life to get that intense feedback. He feels in big ways.

Tigger loves out loud, and I can’t imagine not getting to have a front-row seat to that. It’s an incredible honor and a privilege.

These are my particular top 10. What are some of yours about your own Tigger, or, if you have a child/loved one with different struggles, how have you caught glimpses of the blessings inside the challenges? What has he/she taught you that has changed the way you view and approach the everyday?

I’d love to hear from you!

*”The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” was written by Richard Sherman.

More blogs about our journey to loving ADHD can be found here (click and scroll down). The beginning of our ADHD journey (and how our faith in Christ brings us much peace and strength through each challenge) can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.

**This blog is also featured at Grace & Truth Link-Up, Saturday Soiree, Coffee & Conversation, and Mom 2 Mom Link-Up #23.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2015 in ADHD, Tweens/Children

 

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Frazzled and Faith-Tested? Let Me Introduce You to Grace

Frazzled and Faith-Tested-Let Me Introduce You to Grace

Do you see that?

Hear that?

Sense that?

People are watching us. They want to see how we do this whole life thing with faith in Christ.

Will we slip up? Will we yell at God? Will we forget what the cross was for?

I can’t really say. Some of us might.

Life is hard, and the fluffy moments are not really what faith is for, are they? Sure, faith is present in those moments, but faith is not tested when life is cuddly, warm, prosperous, and carefree.

Yesterday, I felt like several balls were in the air at once. I had just gotten over being bed-bound for two days, and I had just survived the Let’s-See-All-Specialists-for-Myself-and-My-Children-All-in-the-First-Two-Weeks-of-January stress that I put on myself. Yup, eye doctor, dental torture, mammography, child psychiatrist, child therapist, pediatrician, and a long line-up of other such Happy Copay Collectors. I was apparently fulfilling some kind of unrealistic New Year’s resolution to maintain the family health. It felt like penance more than anything else—although for what, I wasn’t quite sure.

I thought, finally waking well, that it could be that often-just-out-of-reach day of rest. I wrongly assumed, after a four-day weekend off from school, that my kids would be in their respective learning institutions, and me? I’d catch up on some things—although I’m not putting the Christmas decorations away yet. I’m not that ambitious, and after all, my daughter tells all her friends (and their moms) that I keep them up until Valentine’s Day, so why ruin that little rumor? That’s too hyperbolic to pass up! 🙂

But then, after completing some tasks and starting to bury myself under some nice flannel sheets for a half-hour snooze, 

the phone rang.

It was the middle school nurse. The Day of Peace and Catch-Up came crashing down. I had to pick up my sickie Little Chickie. (I knew she was really sick because she’s my best patient and one tough cookie.)

After settling down Chickie, I headed to the elementary school to help with math in my son’s class, but when I arrived, I saw that The Look That Rips My Heart in Two was on his face.

The one where he’s given up.

The one where he’s overwhelmed and tear-filled but hiding it because he has looked over his math sheet a gazillion times and doesn’t know how to start.

Dear ADHD: Some days I admire your amazingness, and I want your incredibly swift-moving mind. But today, you put that look of failure and disappointment on Little Man’s face, and I just want to bash your face in. Love, Not-Feelin-the-Love-for-You-Today-ADHD, Mom

I choked back that sick feeling and shushed that haunting voice…the one that whispered to me we were doing last year’s depressive spiraling all over again. I got a grip, pulled my big girl trousers (such an awesome, antiquated word!) on, and backed off. I helped other students in the room. I kept a distant eye on him, but I didn’t hover, and I didn’t display Mama Panic.

Awesome Teacher and I exchanged a knowing glance. She would catch me up later. It was okay. She’s got this.

Faith-tested? 

Yes, it’s very hard to understand the “whys” of the struggle and if it will ever end. I cried on the way home and had this conversation with My Very Best Friend:

“Jesus, You know how much I love him. How I want to help him.” And then I said: “You love him so much more! So much more. I know You do.”

And with that statement of faith came a peace that I cannot explain.

But I find that in these testing moments, declarations of faith in God release His work in our lives. 

He certainly doesn’t need our permission, but it’s like a big nod or “go-ahead” that we trust what He is already doing and about to do.

James 1:3, ESV, James, brother of Jesus, speaking

…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

The day didn’t end before a dog ate something she shouldn’t have and my oldest fell sick on the way home from karate. Some days just stink like a sewer. And this was my post on some social media platform (can’t even remember which one now) by the end of the day:

Daughter is sick, is vomiting, and son needs . Don’t we all some days ?

Okay, what happens when we’re frazzled?

When I’m frazzled, it usually means scrapping everything I had planned and begrudgingly accepting a rework when illness/crisis/advocacy can’t be put down. To me, not being able to do it all used to equate to feelings of failure. Ridiculous, right?

Dinner might not be made.
Deadlines may suffer.
I might not meet the needs of Children #1 and #2 as well as I would like to, since #3 needs my help right now.
The dogs may chew the couch or leave a little mess because they aren’t getting the usual dose of attention.
Dust might pitch more than a few tents on my furniture.
Permission slips might not be signed on time.
Tests might not be assisted in being studied for.
My spouse and I might be quick to quarrel.
I might rage at times about the feeling of lack of control a disorder or disease may bring.
Kids might go to bed after a cereal dinner in the clothes they wore to school.

These sound like silly standards, right? And yet, how many of us get derailed by not meeting them?

But I can’t do everything. And neither can you.

So, I ask God to help me do my best, but I try to keep in mind that:

The only one interested in me beating myself up is the liar to my soul.

It certainly isn’t God, even on the days I’m wondering why I fail to trust, why I slip into measuring myself by ridiculous standards, why I forget I’m only human and need His amazing grace to cover where I fall short.

Maybe you’re going through something significantly tougher than what I describe here in my own personal anguish about my son. Jesus’s hand is warm whenever we remember to grab it. I’m squeezing it tightly. You can too.

He never leaves us. And He holds up what we cannot carry when we ask Him.

Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV, Moses writing

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).
 

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Navigating T(w)een Texting: What Are Good Guidelines for Middle Schoolers?

Today, I am trying something different at “Espressos of Faith.” I was recently drafting a texting contract for one of my children, and I brainstormed many guidelines, but I’m sure I didn’t catch them all. I realize that people have different parenting styles. This is just mine. I can also see where a 6th grader would have (hopefully) tighter parent reins than an 8th grader who has shown responsibility and maturity in this area. I have a high schooler, a middle schooler, and an elementary school child. We have navigated this tricky world of online communication with one so far and are in the middle of the training ground with another.

This list is a brainstorm for training. It’s intended to be the guardrails necessary for helping a tween or young teen find safety and structure in the digital and online world. The wording is designed to let them know which statements are advice best heeded and which ones are imperatives, or non-negotiables. Again, this is a work-in-progress. I’m open to feedback.

Texting

Today, I pose these questions to readers:

What would you add?

What would you take away?

What would you change?

What has worked for you?

Why?

I’d love to hear from you.

Bonnie Lyn Smith,
Author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day

P.S. This topic first appeared at Espressos of Faith in Texting: Can We Raise Our Kids From a Posture of Fear?

P.P.S. risk(within)reason is a great resource for managing your child’s digital footprint.

———————————————

Texting, Emailing, and Messaging Guidelines for Middle Schoolers

You can use your iPod Touch after homework (unless we’ve made a different arrangement that day) if the following rules are adhered to:

1.) No texting/emailing/messaging/playing a game with or otherwise interacting with any friend before 8 AM and after 8 PM.

2.) No forwarding *anything* (especially *no video or photo content* but also no email forwarding) for anyone else, of anyone else, or about anyone else, even if you have his/her permission. Whatever you share or forward makes you culpable, not only in our home, but it leaves a digital footprint legally.

3.) No pressuring anyone else to respond/forward/share/get an app you want them to have, etc. In general, no pressuring people at all, without good reason (he/she needs to carry through his/her end of a school project, as one example).

4.) Overall, it’s usually best not to share a photo showing you are with a different friend on a group chat, especially if that chat only has three people on it, and you two are together, but the other person is not. There are exceptions to this, but in general, that is just polite social behavior in the tween/early teen world. Too many unnecessary hurt feelings and insecurities erupt at this age from unnecessary “look whom I’m with” photo postings. In general, avoid group chatting when you can. It leads to trouble. Almost always. Something often gets misunderstood when three or more people communicate digitally.

5.) Absolutely no exchanging of any game or other password on text/email/message in typed/video/audio form. Similarly, no asking for anyone’s passwords.

6.) It is best not to continue an extensive argument in digital form. You must be in person, FaceTime, or on the phone to have productive conversations where meaning and tone are understood. We’ve been there, done that, and lived through the damage. Even though these are the very words you hate to hear follow any parent statement, we’re going to say them anyway: Trust us on this one.

7.) Avoid repeat begging for a reply after second attempt to get your friend to respond to you. Nobody likes to come back and find 40 short texts left there just to annoy or get their attention.

8.) You do not need to follow anyone’s “orders.” You are your own person. You do not have to forward, go fetch, share homework, etc., just because a strong-willed friend is asking you to. “No” or “no, thank you” work beautifully in emails/messages/texts as much as they do in person.

9.) No recorded video conversations until you are in high school, and even then, with guidelines.

10.) No discussing another person in any way other than: “Was she in school today?” or “Have you heard from her?” You leave evidence of every reference, every conversation. We don’t care if it’s venting about a teacher, a parent, or another student: That needs to be done in person or talking on the phone.

11.) If we have to consider whether or not your emoji is offensive, it is. Get it off there.

12.) No pouty/sexy looks in pictures. We are not  ____________ [insert name of any current tabloid magazine celebrity of your choosing].

13.) No pictures of other people sent in text/message/email.

14.) No sharing of locations or plans to leave the house, go on vacation, etc.

15.) No interacting with someone you don’t know. Don’t even join a group chat if you don’t know every member by face and context. Verify, verify, verify.

16.) No telling anything private or confidential in a text/message/email. Any discussions meant in confidence should happen in person or on the phone and with discretion. Nothing’s a secret once it’s in typed/audio/video form.

17.) No threatening/pressuring language of any kind, not even: “I will be upset with you if…” That is putting conditions on someone with emotional manipulation. We don’t play that way, nor do we respond to those kind of messages. Please let us know if you receive those, so we can help you.

18.) No sharing anyone else’s email, text address, phone number, or address with others, even if he/she gives you permission. That is for that person to share.

19.) The texting device gets put on counter or away during meals, family conversations, appointments, church, and any other location you need to talk to people, and it can only be consulted after homework or during designated breaks. It reports back to the dock by 8 PM.

20.) We never text and walk (or bike, or, when you’re older: drive). We would never cross the street or parking lot looking at a texting device. We value our lives more than our devices. 🙂

21.) Failure to respect boundaries and rules results in apologies given individually to people who were involved. Other parents may sometimes have to be involved. So, be careful how you manage rules so you can keep yourself safe and others safe, and you can avoid embarrassing parent involvement.

22.) Passwords can’t change without letting us know. We have a right to spot-check at any time without receiving any attitude about it.

Please sign here that you understand your responsibilities: ___________________________

If this list seems too long, too hard to remember, over the top in any way, or stressful, it’s okay. We get it. It just means that you are not ready to have a texting device, and we can revisit this when you’re ready. We want you to feel comfortable with this new responsibility. Every rule on here is because we love you so incredibly much.

Love,
Mom and Dad,

The People Whose Job It Is to Keep You Safe and to Train You in Becoming a Good Citizen, Friend, Person
Also the People Who Feed, Clothe, and Shelter You

*This blog has been shared at Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Grace & TruthFaith-Filled Fridays, A Little R & Rand Christian Mommy Blogger.

 

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When Negative Voices Knock on Our Door

 When Negative Voices Knock on Our Door

To begin, I want to ask us all a question: Do we feel we have to answer the door every time there is a knock or doorbell ring?

If I’m not expecting someone, I don’t always answer, especially if answering means grabbing a robe, hurrying out of the bathroom, or interrupting something going on that needs my full attention. I will fully disclose that I’m not much of a phone or drop-in visitor person; however, if a knock sounds urgent, I usually make an attempt to answer it. Otherwise, I don’t feel I have to get to it just because it’s a noise beckoning me. Same thing with the phone ringing.

So, I got to thinking:

Why do we feel we have to entertain negative voices when they come along?

Why do we let them in, help them take their shoes off, hang up their coats, and invite them to take up space in our living rooms?

Why do we mislead them into thinking they are welcomed and may cross our threshold any time that suits them?

Fear.

We are often afraid:

  • to offend
  • to lose the relationship
  • to not meet expectation
  • to hurt someone without meaning to
  • to deal with repercussions from anger

But I would like to suggest it’s dishonest to let them (the negativity, not necessarily the person) in unless we plan to join them (and I surely hope we don’t). I also think it’s easier to be passive and open the door.

It takes courage and action to say: “No, we’re not going to go there. That is not a place you may make commentary or cast judgment upon,” or “It’s lovely to see you, but rejection, disrespect, and discouragement are not on the menu today. What else would you like to talk about?”

I have been pondering this quite a bit recently as several friends shared some relational struggles they were having with others. We all have them. These were my thoughts:

Boundaries aren’t for shutting people out, but they are defined as being unwilling to remain in dysfunctional, dishonoring patterns, but simultaneously inviting the other person to come along and engage in—or at first learn—new, healthy patterns of relating. We can invite people to get on that train, but we cannot make them ride it.

Now, this all sounds like I have this under control and sit above everyone else doling out boundaries right and left. Quite the contrary. I learn much from those who have drawn them for me over time. Sometimes, their boundaries may be out of over-self-protection, but I still need to observe them. At other times, lines drawn in the sand for me have at least indicated where the relationship could or could not go.

Boundaries are like navigational tools to help us know how to relate better with someone. They provide a map of safe topics and interactions and clue us in, if we’re willing to listen, to where we should and should not tread. If we’re careful about communicating, our boundaries should do the same for others.

But, bringing it back to negative voices: We don’t have to allow them. Plenty of naysaying goes on in our lives every day—some of it constructive but much of it destructive. When people want to go down Toxic Alley with us, we don’t have to permit it. In fact, they are often looking for us to provide some guardrails for the relationship, and if we don’t, they are like children who don’t know the rules in their own homes: insecure and lost. Not only that, by being passive, we give negativity permission to come in and stay a while. Once it gets in the door, it often takes over the relationship, gets into our heads and hearts, and hijacks everything that could be good or constructive.

That doesn’t mean we shut the person (or people) out, necessarily—just the behaviors that are destructive.

This can also be true when nobody real is knocking at the door…only our own negative voices from the past. I write a lot about this in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New DayWhatever we have let in and made welcomed will keep coming back. Guaranteed. When we swirl around in negative thinking, we’ve already let the first thought in the door and offered it a cup of coffee.

So, how do we stop the madness inside our minds and hearts? The perseverating? Bitter chewing? Stewing in ugly thoughts of insecurity, misunderstanding, misconceptions, wrong assumptions? How do we stop them at the door?

We don’t let them in.

Just because negative voices knock on our doors, bang into our minds, and try to take up space in our hearts,

we do not have to let them in.

Here are some answers I draw from my faith in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. The first selection talks about how not to be anxious (bring it!). Really, doesn’t negative thinking contribute to anxiety, and vice versa? It’s an ever-hungry beast.

What’s the remedy for stopping negative thoughts and voices at the door?

Rejoice.

Let your requests be made known to God.

The peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds.

Think about good things.

Take every thought captive to obey Christ.

God gave us a spirit of self-control (sound mind).

We need to ask Him to help us do this. These are His promises for those who believe in Him.

Negativity will keep knocking on our doors. It’s part of what tries to invade and keeps our focus off the love of our Savior. There will always be a battle there: either from others or within our own selves.

But we now have a loving answer—one with structure, safety, boundaries, healthy relating, and a Savior who spread His arms out on a cross as His pledge and promise to always help us defeat the dark things that plague us.

Why?

Because He’s already defeated them.

And He’s got our backs.

Philippians 4:4-9, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 10:5, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Timothy 1:7, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control*.

*The King James Version says “sound mind” for “self-control.”

**This blog has been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Testimony Tuesday, Women With Intention WednesdaysGrace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.

 

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