She Gives Me Courage by Ellen Stumbo

As soon as we walked into the dental office I knew we would be in for quite the experience. My youngest daughter -who has Down syndrome – also has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). While there are many kids that struggle at the dentist, take a kid with SPD and you take “difficult” to a new level.

She had two cavities. We also recognized getting those cavities taken care of at the dentist’s office wasn’t going to happen. The solution? Dental work under general anesthesia at the hospital.

Think about that for a minute, a surgical protocol just to get teeth cleaned, X-rays redone, and her cavities fixed.

The morning of the appointment, the anesthesiologist came to talk to us about procedure. We discussed the sedative they give so that kids get drowsy and don’t remember. I brought up the fact that at the Children’s hospital they wouldn’t give that to her, because kids with Down syndrome have low muscle tone, and it can compromise their airway. He said he wasn’t concerned about it, I asked how many kids with Down syndrome they see on a regular basis. I also asked him what steps he would take if her airway did indeed collapse, and I asked about her neck positioning.

I’ve come a long way. When my daughter was first born, I was bullied by a nurse. She’d given me false information, she treated me like I knew nothing about Down syndrome or my daughter. That experience changed me. The nice pastor’s wife was going to raise her voice once in a while. Just don’t mess with my kids. So I learned to come in with research to back up everything I brought up, and soon I was educating the nurse, and teaching her a thing or two about Down syndrome.

And here I was, six years later, asking questions about my child’s safety and emotional well being. The anesthesiologist looked at me like I had two heads, but he answered my questions, and I felt comfortable with a decision we reached together.

And that is when I realized that my daughter has changed me. She’s turned me into this woman that has courage she never knew was there. Willing to stand up to medical professionals, and hold her ground. And maybe that is who we become as mothers, we become courageous, because we realized that we have to stand up for someone else, and we lay down our lives for them.

Ellen Stumbo Head ShotEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor. Visit her at ellenstumbo.com

Giveaway: The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids

Trivia

What kind of fruit did Eve take from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? A. pear; B. apple; C. we don’t know.

What did Jesus serve the disciples for breakfast? A. fruit and cereal, B. fish and bread; C. manna and quail.

Learn a little Bible trivia while learning more about God’s message within the Bible. This One Year book features 365 trivia questions that lead into meaningful devotions about the questions. Each devotion also includes a For You section, which gives a simple application to kid’s lives. And the answer to the opening question wraps up the devotion and gives readers biblical references to read.

This book will keep curious kids on their toes and give them a reason to open their devotional and Bible daily. They can also use their knowledge to test family members each day. [The answers to the questions above are C. we don’t know and B. fish and bread.]

If you would like to win a copy for your family, enter through the form below (contest only open to residents of the U.S.).

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Possessions Problem by Jessie Weaver

The past few weeks I’ve been mediating a (very small) group of women as we walk through Jen Hatmaker’s Bible study The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess. This week our study was on possessions, with an emphasis on giving away some of what we have. Jen especially recommends finding those who actually need what you have, not just doing a mass donation to a thrift store – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

We’ve already attacked the clothing problem, which is a big one for me when it comes to my kids. My first donation was to a family who needed boys’ clothes for twins who wear the same size as my David. I literally had twice as much clothing as he could wear. It’s taken some new self-control to not peruse the racks for my daughter given the change in season – I love finding a deal on little girls’ clothes. But those deals add up. And as Hatmaker points out, it’s money that can be spent well in other places instead of us buying into the lie that our kids and ourselves need to look perfect at all times to be an important member of society (or something like that).

But other than clothes, I didn’t really think I had a possessions problem. We’ve lived in 5 different homes in 9 years of marriage, and each time we move I end up donating boxes of items. We live in a small apartment and just don’t have a ton of space, so – compared to many – we don’t have a lot of stuff. They key word there is “compared.”

It’s easy to defend your choices when you compare them to others. But when you compare them to God’s outline? It’s a different story.

I thought it would be hard to match the items I wanted to donate with people in my city who needed them. But by clicking here and there on Google and Facebook, I’ve found organizations who help those in need and without homes. I’ve seen personal pleas from families who won’t have heat this winter or don’t have clothing for their infants.

Compared to many, we don’t have much? Compared to the standards God upholds, I have everything I need and plenty more to give.

Clearing out stuff is not that hard. Refusing to buy new stuff is the difficult part. Choosing to put funds and work toward those who really need it, that is God’s way. The path I hope to choose in the future.

“The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors Him.” Proverbs 14:31 HCSB

 

When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three kids under 5.

Embrace Children With Differences

Here are a few tips foreEmbracing a child with a physical difference and her family during everyday life.

1. Invite the child on play dates.
Don’t be concerned about how other children may respond to the child’s physical difference. When children see adults treat a child with a difference just like any other child, they, too, will quickly look past the physical difference and focus on the child herself.

2. Visit the child at the hospital.
If the child must have surgery, make a point to visit the child and her family at the hospital. A smiling, familiar face can bring such a sense of calmness and ease during these stressful times. This is also a wonderful opportunity to teach your own children about caring for others.

3. Let the child’s family decide her limitations.
Even if the outing is at a bounce house, playground, or skating rink, don’t be timid asking a child with a physical difference to attend. Allow her parents to decide whether or not she can handle the outing. You’ll be simply amazed at what these children can do!

Guest Post: Those Boys by Brooke McGlothlin

I’m raising two rough and tumble, loud, aggressive, highly physical boys—and I affectionately refer to them as . . .

Those boys.

You know, the ones that often end up with letters behind their names like ADD, ADHD, or ODD? Some days I look at other boy moms raising quiet boys, and wish for days that aren’t so loud, hearts that acquiesce, a little more go with the flow, and a little less dig their heels in the ground. I would love just a few hours of less dramatic reactions to their problems—a day or two of having builders instead of crashers, tossers instead of throwers, hand shakes instead of tackles, and pouting instead of hitting.

At my website for mothers of boys, The MOB Society, we see it all the time—boy moms worn down from trying to raise godly men. I’m convinced that 99% of our moms come to us because they don’t have a clue what to do with their sons. Our culture is quick to label, quick to judge, and slow to give grace to boys who are more hyper, less focused, and generally harder to handle than the rest. We’re overwhelmed by the letters behind their names, and weary from worry.

I believe the most important way we can help our hard-to-handle boys, is by focusing less on the letters assigned to them by others, and more on the ones we pray for them.

The most important letters
A few months ago I was having one of the worst days I can remember with my sons. Their hearts seemed far from me and far from God. I was losing it, so I sent them to their rooms for a cool down period. As doors slammed, and voices screamed, “You’re so mean!” I sank to my knees on the stairs, put my head in my hands, and prayed, “Help me Jesus! I can’t do this without You. Please take my heart and theirs. Fill us up with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thank You for coming when I call. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

I began praying Scripture over my boys when they were very little. Since then, it has become quite a passion of mine. I love to take the Word and wash it over my boys in prayer, substituting their names in when I can, and asking the Lord to bring it to fruition in their lives. That day, on the stairs of our home, I pondered the incredible access I had to the God who bends down to listen (Psalm 116:2, NLT), and wondered why it had taken me so long to pray for His help. I walked up the remaining stairs to our boys’ rooms, sat down in the hallway, placed my hands on their door frames, and began to pray the Scripture-based prayers I had made for them years ago.

“Lord, You alone change hearts of stone, to hearts of flesh. Place Your Spirit within my children and cause them to walk in Your statutes and to be careful to obey Your rules. For You know the plans You have for them; plans to prosper them and not to harm them, to give them a future and a hope. Let them fear You Lord, and thus have a foundation for wisdom and a heart for instruction. Let them receive wisdom and incline their hearts to understanding. Help them not to lean on their own limited understanding, but in all their ways to acknowledge You so that their paths will be straight . . .”

As I poured out my heart an amazing thing happened: my faith in the One who loves my boys more than I do, who died to set them free from sin, was restored. I took my eyes off of my ability to change their hearts and placed it back on the only One who truly can.

Maybe our boys will end up with letters assigned to the end of their names, but I firmly believe the letters (and numbers) their mamas pray for them each day will matter more in the end.

(The letters I prayed for my sons that day include: Ezekiel 36:26-27, Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 2, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 1:3, Psalm 91, Galatians 5:16 & 22, Philippians 4:8, Romans 12:2, Romans 12:9-10, Psalm 4:8, and Numbers 6:24).

Main-headshot-2-86 Brooke McGlothlin MOB Society Editor, writer, word-prayer, photo-maker, and boy-raiser, Brooke is continuously surprised by life. She’s the author of the best-selling eBooks Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most, Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess and creator of the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons challenge.

Richard’s Surprise by Carey Casey

A son makes a simple yet meaningful gesture, and it impacts his father for eternity…

The dad’s name is Richard. He had always been an active and committed father. He poured his time and his energy into his kids; he was very devoted to them. But he had never truly embraced God as his heavenly Father. He attended church and he would tell you that faith is very important, but he was never fully committed as a believer.

Richard’s son, 23 years old at the time, played pro baseball for a minor-league team. As he worked his way up the ranks Richard naturally followed him as best he can. He traveled to some games and went online to keep up with what happened when he couldn’t be there.

One evening Richard was checking out the results on his computer, and he found a highlight clip of his son making a great play. What a thrill to be able to see that online! Then, after the play, his boy stood still just for a moment, took off his cap, bowed his head for a short prayer, and then pointed to the sky.

It’s what you see players do sometimes, right? Well, for Richard it was no ordinary thing. He was moved almost to tears. He had no clue that his son’s faith was that important to him.

Richard felt some regret to a degree, because he knew that equipping his kids in their faith was an area where he had fallen short. At the same time, he was humbled that in spite of all that, God still worked in his son’s life to bring about the kind of faith where he could openly give honor and glory to God for his own success.

That experience has had a long-lasting influence on Richard. Today, he is taking his own walk with Christ much more seriously, and he’s paying more attention to the spiritual lives of all his children. What do they believe, and how much does it matter to them? How can they bring glory to God with their lives? Best of all, he’s become a better example of a sold-out, fully devoted disciple of Christ.

Dad, if you’re like Richard used to be, you might be comforted in knowing that God can get through to your children in spite of your weaknesses. But then, why take that chance? Get close to God, and lead your children there as well.
 

careycaseycasual2007Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.

A Visit to the Set of “Moms’ Night Out”

By Kelly Wilson Mize

MNO - 1

At the end of May, I was excited to receive an invitation to represent ParentLife on a visit to the set of a new Kevin Downes production of an Erwin brothers’ movie called Moms’ Night Out. The film is a comedy-driven story that deals with the adventure of parenting at every stage. It will be released in theaters in the spring of 2014 and stars, among others: Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, Sarah Drew, Trace Adkins, and faith/family film favorites Alex Kendrick and Robert Amaya. It is being distributed by AFFIRM (a division of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions) and Provident Films.

A group of media and Christian organization representatives travelled to Birmingham, Alabama for this two-day set visit. On day one, we watched filming at a local arcade; and on the second day, scenes were shot at a bowling alley. We observed live filming, watched some scenes that had already been filmed, and witnessed firsthand the time and hard work that goes into making a movie.
While not overtly “Christian,” like previous films made by some of the same people, this movie is being marketed as a comedy appropriate for the entire family. The unedited scenes that I previewed evoked both laughter and tears.

The best part of my visit was the opportunity I had to speak personally with many members of the cast and crew. Here are some thoughts that were shared as a part of our round-table discussions.

Patricia Heaton /Sondra (Everybody Loves Raymond/ The Middle)
“I love comedy, and I think that the subject matter of young families trying to navigate their lives, their children and particularly their marriage is a great subject for comedy. But, it’s also a serious issue. It’s really, really hard.”

Sean Astin/Sean (Lord of the Rings trilogy /Rudy)
“I know that moms will take away from this movie a little sense of permission to just take it a little easier on themselves than they did before…”

Sarah Drew/Allyson (Grey’s Anatomy)
“I like everything about this project. I wanted to tell a story about what it feels like to go through life feeling like you’re never enough: Feeling like you’re not a good enough wife, not a good enough mom, not a good enough person at work, not a good enough friend. I wanted to tell a story of coming to a place of recognizing that, actually, I can just breathe and be, and that I am enough, and that I am loved.”

Andy Erwin (Director)
“I think the Christian audience wants to laugh just as much as any other audience. This film allows us to portray Christians in a positive light; and comedy allows us to be a little more approachable as Christians, to a secular audience. If we’re able to laugh and let our hair down a little bit, I think that takes a lot of the fear away, of the unknown, for an audience that doesn’t totally understand us.”

Thank you, ParentLife editorial staff, for allowing me to take part in this fun and unique assignment. I absolutely cannot wait to see the movie!

Kelly Wilson Mize, M.Ed, is an educator, freelance writer, and mother of two from Huntsville, Alabama. Kelly teaches future generations of writers in her 5th grade language arts classes at Westminster Christian Academy.

Hanging Out by Ellen Stumbo

As a special needs mom I get to spend time hanging out at the hospital. And I do mean hang out. My husband and I sit in the room, praying, waiting for the procedure to be done, updating our friends and family, checking Facebook, reading, more waiting. And that is the easy part, the hanging out.

I have a confession. I actually enjoy the hanging out. The quiet of the hospital room, no machines yet, no beeping noises, no nurses, no crying child. Just waiting.

But before the waiting, there was the anxiety. The sleepless nights when my child was up at night unable to sleep because of the upcoming surgery. The PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) due to the involved medical procedures she has had because of her cerebral palsy. There were the over-the-counter natural sleep aides. The phone calls to counselors, a consult with a child psychologist to prepare her for yet another surgery.

Then, on the day of surgery, there is the short night. The anxiety that threatens to surface, and the scary OR (operating room). There is nothing like walking with your child to the OR, comfort them while the anesthesia puts them to sleep, and then having to walk out. Leaving your child behind tears your heart apart.

But then you wait, because you know that all you can do is pray. So you allow yourself to relax, and to “hang out.” Because as soon as surgery is over, the hard part begins as your child deals with pain, anxiety, and fear. And the nights are long, and the sleep is sketchy. And your child cries and you want to cry too.

Sometimes, you run out in the hall and cry because you feel helpless as a parent, unable to help your child. You might even ask a nurse to step in for a second, so you can get a good cry, and you don’t want your child to see that, because you want to be strong for them. You need to be strong.

And you are, you are strong. So strong you can just hang out at the hospital. So strong that you smile at your child and sing to them even when you want to cry. And you pray, you pray and allow God to carry you through the days to follow. Soon, soon you will get to go home and hang out.

ellenstumboEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Traveling With Little Kids

With the summer quickly coming to a close, I thought I’d share with you some great products we found this summer for traveling with little kids.

The first is TrayKit! TrayKit can easily strap on to a car seat, a plane tray, or simply on one’s lap. This all-in-one kid’s carry on backpack keeps little ones entertained while avoiding any messes. This was easy to use and great for our long car rides. Available from amazon.com, they retail for $29.99.

traykit

traykit2

 

 

 

 

The second is the FAA-approved Baby B’Air Flight Vest is the only safety solution for lap held children while traveling in an airplane. The Baby B’Air is the perfect solution for all babies, securing them safely to their parent so that both baby and parent are comfortable and there is no squirming or potential for baby falling. The Baby B’Air is worn by the infant like a vest. Constructed of 100% cotton and comfortable to wear for baby, the Baby B’Air is used by simply connecting it to the seat belt of the adult. The baby can then be held, fed and even changed while both parent and child remain securely fastened in their seat. The baby is more comfortable than they would be in a baby seat, but is just as securely fastened and unable to fall or pull away. The Baby B’Air retails for $34.95 and can be purchased online at babybair.com or found in retail stores nationwide.

Baby B'Air Low Res 1

 

 

 

 

Have you found any great products for traveling with small kids? We’d love to hear your suggestions!

Road Trip to Redemption Giveaway!

roadtrip

Brad Mathias thought everything in his family was fine. A busy, contented dad, he had vaguely noticed that Bethany, his middle child, had become withdrawn and moody, but he assumed it was part of being a “teen” and didn’t look any deeper. Until the night God spoke clearly to Brad and his wife: Ask her to reveal what she has hidden. They did—and learned the secret Bethany had been carrying, one that rocked their family to the core. In a desperate attempt to reach their daughter and to reconnect as a family, Brad and his wife piled everyone into the car and embarked on a wild, crazy, seven-thousand-mile, what-are-we-thinking trip across the country. As they drove, they realized how far apart they’d drifted, found unexpected blessings along the way—and journeyed together from pain and loss to recovery and redemption. In this book, Brad shares stories from the road about God’s grace, gives practical tips on what he learned about reconnecting as a family, invites you to consider your own epic journey as a mother or father, and calls you to trust wholeheartedly in the amazing love God has for your kids.

We’ve got five copies of Road Trip to Redemption to give away to our ParentLife readers! Enter through the form below. (Only open to residents of the US.)

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