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Category Archives: Dance/Karate/Robotics/Band/Basketball/XC Mom

Training With My Master

Training With My MasterI’m sitting in the very back of the dojo where both my sons train twice a week. My oldest son has been with the same shihan for 10 years. My little guy first entered the dojo in utero when his brother tied on his white belt. I don’t want to think about the amount of tuition we have spent here over the years, but it has been worth every penny. Both sons started their martial arts training for different reasons, and both of them have grown in so many ways.

As I listen to my oldest son whack a punching bag and review his self-defense with a man he has grown to trust over a decade, I also hear how easily he receives his feedback. They are currently preparing for a tournament as well as a visit from Grandmaster. A black belt test is not too far in the future. It’s a culmination of years of hard work. My son moves when Shihan directs. He fine-tunes his Fleeing Snake when Shihan offers correction.

Honestly, I’m pondering how beautiful this is, and why, as a parent, I don’t always get the same response. (Insert smile here.) Their communication is seamless. With strength, stamina, stability, and self-discipline on the line, trust is of utmost importance. Shihan will not recommend him to go before Grandmaster for a black belt until he is completely confident in his ability. Student must surrender to Teacher in complete abandon that all of this effort will lead to achieving the end goal.

Hmmm.

I’m thinking about my own walk with God in this moment. I’ve been trying to follow His lead for 37 years. Not all of that time has my faith been mature. Sometimes it still isn’t, but I’m an apprentice in training.

Our faith walk is so personal. We may each start out for different reasons.

Someone may have told us our Master was worth following Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Redefining Unconditional: How Our Son Completely Changed Our Lives

I was so honored to have the opportunity to write a very personal piece at Rosevine Cottage Girls a few weeks ago. Cheyenne asked me to join their series on the “unconditional love of a special needs parent.” Oh, yes, please! You see, I believe this article is for any parent. Our children transform us and chip away at selfishness and pride, if we’re willing to let our parenting experiences shape us into better people. Parenting of any kind is saying “yes” to the changes that happen within us when we welcome the possibility of unconditional love into our lives.

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For two years, I would sit at his basketball games and silently sob.

Not because Little Man (our youngest son) wasn’t as good as the other kids were. (He wasn’t at the time.)

Not because I was embarrassed to be the only parent with a kid on that team not keeping up.

Redefining Unconditional_ How Our Son Completely Changed Our LivesI would weep because he was cognitively stuck. Like a computer sluggishly trying to process a hard drive full of information, he would stare. The game went on around him, and he lagged 30 seconds behind. He would run down the court just as the team was turning around to head the other way down the court. Then he would remember, briefly, to “guard his man” before getting lost in the loudness of the gymnasium, the overstimulation of the ball bouncing around him, the fast pace of the kids racing past, and the pure anxiety of being in slow-motion when everyone around you is on pace. He would peel his hangnails and wear a perpetually worried look on his face.

My heart would ache and shatter not because he was different but because it was an indication that once again, he was suspended in that time and place called dysregulation, for whatever the reason, and we would need months to partly climb back out again.

Join me over at Rosevine Cottage Girls to read how Little Man changed our lives for the better.

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Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Be Still and Walk with Him Awhile 

BeStill

“’Be Still’ isn’t just for crisis mode.
That’s simply where we found it.
It is a new way of life, ensuring the health of our family.”

Today, I am so excited to be featured as a guest blogger at “The Urbane Flower.” My piece, “Be Still and Walk with Him Awhile,” can be found here.

Check out this uplifting blog site that my new friend Heather Gee put together!

I look forward to Heather guest-blogging here at “Espressos of Faith” very soon!

 

 

 

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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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An ADHD Child and His Not-a-Morning-Person Parent

An ADHD Child and His Not-a-Morning-Person Parent
“Hello. My name is Bonnie, and I am not a morning person….Oh, and I have an ADHD child.”

Notice which order I put those in?

I didn’t define myself by my atypical child.

I took ownership of my own issue. = First step to getting honest and dealing with the core issue: me, not my son with ADHD. (For more on my family’s struggles to make sense of ADHD, refer to the section of blogs dedicated to this subject matter and scroll through to see if anything interests you. My Reading List page also has a list of books that I found helpful.)

This blog is about the little morning explosions that happen when you take a very exuberant ADHD child straight out of bed in the morning and combine that with a sleepy mom who hasn’t had her coffee yet and barely got the first two kids out the door on their earlier buses. The Not-a-Morning-Person Mom. That one.

And it’s also about why I’m the one who has to change.

My almost-nine-year-old Tigger bounces out of bed like a ping pong ball shooting aimlessly around to eventually make it into the right slot—except that, in his head, he isn’t aimless. He’s accomplishing (or attempting to) about 12 things and processing many new ideas at once.

And…he’s eager to share them.

At 7 AM.

Contrast that with my sleepy mind that floated through the past 40 minutes getting the secondary school kids in my house out the door, and I’m still trying to retrieve the thought as to whether or not I packed both of those lunches, and did I tell them I wouldn’t be here right when they got home today?

I might even be thinking about the laundry. The pile of dishes I left last night. The fact I still have yet another lunch and snack to pack. And have I even stopped to use the bathroom this morning?

Is the coffee machine on? Did anyone turn it on yet?

While I’m still on Thought One and a Half, along comes my delightful, hyper, mostly happy youngest son who wants to share every thought in his head.

Right now.

Before coffee.

And I’m an introvert who not only hates morning but thrives on quiet in order to function and process.

“Oh, God, this is where I always feel like I fail.”

And I can get all grumbly, whiny, snappy, snarly, and inward right now. I can certainly get my selfish on. And I regularly do. But his disorder is here to stay. He can’t wish it away. He can “work on” coping skills and body regulation,

but he can’t stop having ADHD.

But I can find ways not to be grumbly, Not-a-Morning-Person, impatient Mom. I can go to bed and get up earlier. Start the coffee sooner. I can ask God to help me handle the bounce of life, energy, and mind from 7 AM until school drop-off. I have the warm hand of Jesus to hold. I can consult Him. I do not have to fail if I ask for His help. The thing is: I will fail if I don’t. I might stumble along and get a few things right now and again, but without the faith that God is carrying us both through these moments without wounds and fallout, I will not be whom I need to be for my son.

Since I pretty much analogize in coffee in my sleep, I will now share one here. (Aren’t you glad I don’t express these analogies in every blog?–wink!) I was thinking that my Little Man is like the air bubbles being blasted into the milk to make a nice frothy topper to the espresso drink. He comes in with full force and makes something flat and boring like milk burst into foamy, airy bubbles that soar above the dark espresso.

I’m the dark espresso…melancholic and weary, heavy and pensive in the morning, and in comes Mr. Bubbles of Life to make the drink more interesting, more varied, lighter. I am the strength under the foam, perhaps, but my strength can either encourage and support that lovely foam, or I can flatten it back to ordinary hot milk, with no vim and vigor—How boring!

My words and my attitude are choices. I can choose to see him as a complement to my personality and embrace the gift of us blended together in the wee, challenging hours of the morning, or I can squash his spirit, his mind, his heart.

It helps to get honest. I hope, if you have similar struggles as a parent (with either typical or atypical children), that you can feel some camaraderie in the struggle in my “get real” moment. I find that being honest about the journey brings me fresh perspective and offers hope that I can do better—not perfect, but better.

I want to “delight in blessing” every chance that I get. I want to “spring forth fresh water” and not muddy it up with my own salty murkiness.

How about you? How do you cope with these struggles? I’d love to hear from you.

James 3:9-12, James, brother of Jesus speaking, ESV

With it [tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Psalm 109:17-18, David (not yet king) speaking, ESV

He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones!

 

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The End of the Line: Why We Need to Stay and Cheer for Every Athlete

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I was recently at my daughter’s cross country meet. She’s not the fastest runner, but she’s not the end of the line either. I got there in time to watch the girls start, leave the track, and head into the woods. It’s another 10 minutes before we see them pop back out again and onto the track. There’s time for swigging the warm coffee from my thermos on a chilly, New England, autumn afternoon and catching up with some other cross country parents.

I’m always amazed and encouraged to see many supportive parents in our community come out for this. Admittedly, I usually don’t make the away meets, but it’s very good to see my long-haired little ray of sunshine come bursting through the woods, trying to beat her personal best each time. She embraced running like a champ!

The middle child with a strong sense of independence, this is something where she is really competing against herself.

She can feed her internal drive to do better.

She can feel the wind on her back and see my face at the end of the last stretch.

She can tear down that track dropping off tween stress and angst as she goes.

I so admire this. Walking to the mailbox feels like an achievement to me. She’s a petite girl with long legs strengthened by many years of dance. Those legs wanted to do more than plié and leap (which she still does, by the way). They wanted to see if they could set fire to a pavement. We haven’t set fire yet, but she fiercely takes on each race.

So, as I noticed the first few young ladies head to the finish line, naturally, the cheers were loud and strong. Of course, we’re very proud of those high-achieving athletes that get there first. Well done. And not everyone can be first, or, obviously, it would mean nothing, but the more girls who came out of those woods, the fewer the cheers, the more parents ready to walk away to collect their daughters and go home. And that made me sad.

Now, I realize we are all on tight schedules and not everyone can stick around the full time every time. I get it. I also know that people get distracted and the meet seems less exciting as the last few runners close in. I am very appreciative of the few boys, who already ran, hanging out at the end to keep cheering for every last girl that comes around the corner. These are boys who might not give some of these girls the time of day during school hours, but on the track, there is a level playing field: They are fellow athletes.

What warms my heart, personally, is the group of parents who stay there until the last puffing runner comes out, even when their family athlete has already arrived. I love hearing those cheers. They are few, quiet, and not quite the pep rally of the beginning of the finish, but they

empower,
encourage,
strengthen, and
motivate.

I watch those stragglers at the end. They hear their names being called, and they run their hearts out. They pick up the pace.

The first runners push themselves to place at the top. Sure, they are cheered on to run a bit faster those last few yards, but they also run to make rank.

But the end of the line? They run for themselves, for the bystanders, for perseverance, and for personal best.

Neither is better than the other, but they approach those last 30 seconds from slightly different vantage points.

So it is with probably any sport. This could easily be applied to the sophomore football player benched most of the varsity game. He needs to hear the cheers when he does finally have play time because his play time has to count.

And so it is with us. 

When I am trailing behind others in a life lesson, a place of heart healing, an area of character that needs to be fine-tuned in my life, I look ahead to the runners who finished the race first and am inspired. But sometimes, that feels unachievable when I’m still at the end of the line. They are an awesome inspiration, but what I really need are the people waiting it out until I make it out of the woods. I need patient folks who don’t mind waiting the extra 10 minutes for me to “arrive” and who call out my name and let me know this time I got a better score.

Sometimes, I need them to tell me what was holding me back.

Who do we know who isn’t functioning in the top half right now? Who can we stay and cheer for when they improve, even just slightly, and want to finish the race—no matter the obstacles?

I love what the Apostle Paul says here, and I pray I live most of my days with this in mind:

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Philippians 3:12-14, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We need to be cheering each other in the race. It’s a hard race when people drop off the sidelines. It’s hard enough as it is. How can we be more present and encouraging, and where do we need others to come alongside and be our sideline cheerleaders for a while?

2 Timothy 4:7-8, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

 

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Getting Out of the Dinosaur Line

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I’m not sure what’s going on here…preparing for another Ice Age? Looking for Godzilla? There’s “organized dinosaur activity” in my family room this morning, and I’m not totally in on the secret. I’m a little afraid. 

The thing is: I’m starting to feel like those dinosaurs, like I’m following blindly toward a finish line without really stopping to think along the way. For all they know, they could be headed to the tropics as they march along together without questioning. I feel like I’ve been going through the motions, too, lately: Get this kid from school to go to an hour and a half orthodontist appointment, only to get that one back to school and grab the other one from a different school for a different appointment. Life can feel that way sometimes. Schedules start to define us. Suddenly we are marching in a dinosaur line.

Zooming out a little, I have to wonder if somewhere along the line, the first dinosaur said: “You should take at least three [fill in the blank here] classes, try this after school club, be in a book club, and while you’re at it, try your hand at the trombone and xylophone.” And the second one in line might have questioned it at first, but he decided maybe letting someone or something else dictate his life for him was easier. So he went along.

And then on down the line.

By dinosaur No. 6 in line, they stopped questioning and followed the herd.

For a while, I think I was one of these dinosaurs. I jumped into too many commitments thinking somehow I could keep it all going. I followed the first few good ideas I heard and then realized, halfway in, that I was walking in a stress pack with a bunch of other overtaxed dinosaurs. We had gone miles together without even realizing how worn out we were.

I started this year off saying I wouldn’t do the dinosaur walk. It was okay if I didn’t follow Brontosaurus the exact same way because I’m a Stegosaurus, after all. But that pesky T. Rex sure had some great ideas, and I figured out pretty quickly I’m not a T. Rex. I’m a Stegosaurus. So I said “no” to the T. Rex. And as proud of myself as I was for saying “no” for 35 seconds, drawing a boundary over here, “no” often leads back to another “yes” somewhere else—and I was back in that line again.

When you look at that beautiful dinosaur trail, it looks so appealing and orderly, doesn’t it? They look like they have purpose. I want purpose. I bet you do too. But, I figured out that purpose didn’t come from following every great idea out there. Sometimes, it involved trying new things out on the trail, but often, it meant getting out of line to regroup.

This year I told my kids: “If you want to do marching band, you can’t be in three youth groups. If you want cross country, you can’t dance every day.”

But I forgot to tell myself that.

Oops.

Everybody else out there always makes that line look so attractive. Oh, flag football! Let’s try that! And, woodworking club, awesome! Crew? Let’s sign up! Diving team? Go for it!

And those things are awesome. I wish I could keep up with it all. But I think we’re all out there marching around like tired dinosaurs because we’re either driving people to these things, or we’re in them ourselves.

For me, it’s really not a sports thing (refer to latte blogs…walking to the mailbox is a sport for me). For me, it looks more like this: “Oh, women’s Bible study? Awesome! Let’s do that every week. And teach Sunday School. And do a book club and a moms’ prayer group! Then maybe make a bunch of muffins. And do a fundraiser (it’s been a while)! And send off care packages.”

I’m a “let’s keep busy and do” junkie. I bet so many people can relate.

The thing is: I love each and every one of those things—as long as I don’t think they define me. As long as I remember to jump out of line now and again.

I wonder if we followed this particular group of plastic beasts around, if we’d find that they each eventually figure it out and drop out of line. Maybe they end up in the tropics after all and wonder how on earth they ever got there without noticing?

I don’t think I’d make it that far. I want to know how not to over-involve myself, even when other people have really great ideas of what we could participate in together.

I want to be more still.

I want to get out of the dinosaur line and learn what it truly means to have God “establish my steps.” I’m pretty sure that’s where peace and calm can be found.

Psalm 131:2, David speaking

But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

Proverbs 16:9, Solomon speaking

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

*This blog can also be found at Mom 2 Mom Link-Up #24.

 

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