Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lowest Common Denominator

The phone rings and I answer. Tell me more about your child. What is going on at school? How long does homework take nightly? What is their attitude like? Panic, anger, and fear tumble awkwardly out. Can you help my child? My response is simple, "Sounds like we need to get an accurate picture of what is going on. We need an assessment to show us how your child learns and where they are academically." With that one call their journey to hope has begun.

The parent and child arrive for the assessment. I sit and talk with the parents while the assessment is taken. It is so common to hear, "My child has developed a horrible attitude" or "My child lies to me all the time about school" or "my child's teacher says he daydreams all the time." From my experience I know these are common coping mechanisms. I remember in fourth grade I was a daydreaming fool. I was overwhelmed by a new school and math was torture. I would leave to a happy place in Lubbock, Texas. (Yes Lubbock, stop snickering)

When any of us feel backed in a corner the majority of our blood bypasses the cognitive part of the brain to support the survival or fight or flight part. We are now ready for the battle, aka fractions.

I found in repeating this process again, and again. and again that there is one lowest common denominator. FEAR. The parent, child and teacher all three tied by fear to a child's performance. This is so very backwards to me but I will not get on that soapbox. I simply want to point out that FEAR cripples us to the point that blood moves from the logic driven part of our brain to the survival part. Fear is usually accompanied by a lie that keeps us from believing we can accomplish our destiny. I believe one person believing in a child can release them from fear and catapult them into their annointed destination.

"They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:8

A day passes and I have the assessment results to share. I explain strengths and weaknesses, make an individualized remediation plan, and contact the child's teacher to share the results. I coach the parents to look into their child's eyes and say four words: I believe in you! If their child's gaze is constant they received this blessing, if they look away they do not. Say it again until their gaze is unflappable.

Practical tip for Parents

1.Operate from a place of truth, assumptions and opinions leave you and your child vulnerable. Knowing how your child thinks(processes) and what they know is very beneficial. This is true spiritually as well.

2.Tell your child you believe in them. This works on spouses too!

3. Compliment your child on their work ethic not their smarts. They can always work harder but children tend to give up when they think they are not smart enough.

4.Teach your child to set goals with incremental doable parts.

5.Pick a scripture or two and have your child translate them into their own words. Use their words as an affirmation to say to themselves each morning and in stressful situations at school. We did this when KB was diagnosed as dyslexic. Here is her affirmation:
I am very special because I am God's child. I will always do my best and be a leader. I can do all things because Jesus gives me strength. I love God and God loves me.
I may have used this myself on especially stressful days.

6.Remember school is the only time mastery over all subjects is required. After graduation we pick our strengths to work and play in.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Flicker

Last week the storms came through and at one point our home's lights dimmed, flickered, and then returned to brightness. This occurrence made me think about my mother. In the most recent months she has been diagnosed with dementia. From day to day I am never quite sure if her mind will be dim or bright. Some days it starts a bit dim then a flicker seems to occur and she is bright again.

This has thrown me for a loop on multiple levels. I've had countless tear filled conversations with God. At other times I have shook my fist at Him in rage. My overwhelming thought is THIS IS NOT FAIR. I WANT MY MOMMY. After my fit I crawl into His arms for comfort. I can think of no other place to go.

I think my hardest hurdle is the regret that accompanies this. Why didn't I talk more and watch television less on my visits to her home. Why didn't I plan more grandmother dates for my mom and my daughter? is the word that is causing me the greatest amount of pain.

WHY is the reason I am writing this. None of us knows what the future holds. My hope is that today you will stop and call your mom. Have a pleasant conversation that is all about her. Ask questions about her youth. Invite her to relive her first date with your dad, her wedding, how she felt when you were born. Ask questions about her favorites : vacation, song, Bible verse, holiday, song. Leave yourself out of the equation and focus on blessing her.

Time keeps on slipping into the future. -Steve Miller

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hail Damage

I remember a conversation with my Life Coach about ten years ago. I was hurting. My heart was breaking. I truly thought it was more than I could bear. What he said was life changing. "Stop carrying this in your mind. Move it to your heart and let God carry it with you. Your mind was not made to carry this. God works in ways your mind cannot understand. But your heart was made to link with His. He wants to carry this."

Fast forward 7 years. The amount of pain and disappointment we have walked through as a family makes the pain of ten years ago seem like a pinprick. Cancer, unemployment, death of a parent, miscarriage, more unemployment, difficult people, dementia, heath issues, car trouble and that is the stuff I can list in a public forum. The difficult path my family is on includes extended family members as well. About the time I think things are making a turn for the better there is more news to process and release to God. When sharing details with a friend she commented, "Wow life sure has left a lot of hail damage on your heart." She was right. The constant pounding was damaging my heart, my dreams, and even my body. Stress is brutal.

We shared our pain with Pastors from our church. "This is great, God is up to something." I really wanted them to validate my pain and pray for me but they were absolutely giddy. "I remember when....and then their story tumbled out. That verse about FAITH coming by hearing. It is true. Hearing their stories helped. We were encouraged.

Year three of this saga began and it honestly felt like treading a hurricane. EXHAUSTION. FEAR. ANGER. DOUBT. I made daily decisions not to camp anyplace that stole my joy. The JOY of the LORD is my strength. I would claim this repeatedly by faith.

About that happy ending. Seems it is a work in progress. So I'd like to share thoughts from those who have encouraged me.

"What promises do you think are past due from God? Your destiny does not have an expiration date. Judge God faithful and pray to be released at the appointed time!"-Chistine Caine.

"God will not put you in a place where your character cannot support your destiny." -Robert Morris.

Just do your part. Obedience plus God equals supernatural activity. TRUST God has gone behind the scenes to manipulate things for you. When difficulty arises fight your instinct to take control and stand still. Once you are still then keep God's promises close to your heart, stand on these. Realize this scenario may be so you see God in a new way. Walk only in the steps he suggests. Do not let all your gifts and talents distract you from missing His path for your life. Be quiet, and guard against complaining. -Priscilla Shirer

"Your destiny is not about you. It is about understanding the justice of God and His purpose, then aligning yourself." -Mary Dunham Faulkner

"Sometimes God trusts your relationship enough to take the long route. The path you are on is never just about you. It is about those on the path with you and His name being glorified.- Charlotte Gambill

"Walk in the season God has called you. Stop comparison. Imitation is limitation. Anointing remains in you, nobody can teach you. It is innate in you. (1John 2:27) Always consider the spiritual realm and ask to see by the spirit." -Michelle Brogan

"There is NO wasted anointing."-Cindy Jacobs

"Are you holding on to where you were instead of living where you are? STOP IT! that's no way to walk into your destiny"-TD Jakes

My prayer is that whatever parts of your life have been crumpled to death will be be fully restored this EASTER weekend. I believe the same Resurrection power that brought Jesus back to life is available for you!

Practical resources:
From Dream to Destiny, Robert Morris
Plan B, Pete Wilson
Life Interrupted, Priscilla Shirer

Friday, September 3, 2010

"I think we can all learn a thing or two from KB," my sister Jana.

Tuesday night I went upstairs to get Katie Beth for dinner. I found her seated in the family room with her father deep in conversation. When KB turned around I could tell she had been crying. As Brad looked at me he said, "I think you should ask your mom about this too." And so she did. "Mom, why did Adam and Eve have to sin? What made them want to do things their way instead of God's way. Why didn't God stop them? And now look around at our world, so many people are hurting from sin." Tears ran down her face.

I won't go into my response because I want to focus on her wisdom.

At eight she knows that individual sin impacts generations.

She knows sin is the choice of not yielding our will to God's desire. In short she understands the root of sin is self. AKA selfish, self-reliant, self serving...
Sin, the decision to allow "my will" into the driver's seat instead of "God's will", separates me from God. Sometimes my driving yields evil works, other times good works, but the separation occurs when I choose to plug into myself as the source of life instead of God.

It hurts her heart deeply to think of our world separated from God. She knows what it feels like to be very close to God and she hurts for those who do not have this connection.

I was deeply convicted by Katie Beth's insights. In the quiet of the evening I sat down and had a deep conversation with my daddy. "Father I know my sin impacts the next generation. Please forgive me. And please show mercy by stopping the consequences of my sin here and now. Pull me near Father so I can hear you clearly especially when I am tempted to lean on my own understanding. Forgive me for trying to be my own source of strength. I want you to be the Lord of my WHOLE life. Please transform me into your likeness. Forgive me for being so invested in my own pain that I fail to see those hurting right in front of me. Touch my heart so I hurt deeply for those separated from you."

Tuesday night's teachable moment left me humbled and amazed to be Katie Beth's mom. My friend Sylvia shared Matthew 11:25-26 with me after a conversation she had with Katie Beth two years ago. It says, "I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you Father, have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes Father, for this was your good pleasure."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Observations of the Circus

I took Katie Beth and two of her friends to the circus this summer. I jotted down the following observations while I was there.

1. People attending actually dress as clowns. WHOLE families showed up in clown attire. Which leads me to the obvious question: Why? It is 5 million degrees and the way your clown make up is running down your face scares me.

2. Watching the acrobats perform I was reminded of a fantastic book I read this summer. Think Differently, Live Differently by Bob Hamp. You should read it.

3. What leads one to the following declaration, " Mom when I grow up I want to train zebras." ?

4. When we were led in the National anthem I made the scientific discovery that by and large Texans can sing pretty darn good.

5. Not sure what this is about but I was very jealous of the sheen of the horses' hair. Seriously how do they get that beautiful shine? I think my hair is having a mid-life crisis.

6. Souvenirs: Boys want a sword. Girls want a stuffed animal. Hmmm, boys want to protect and girls want to nurture. How 'bout that DNA.

7. Found myself looking for David Letterman. The Circus animal acts equals pet tricks on steroids.

8. Asia the Elephant was unflappable despite an unscheduled loud noise. Her concentration was impeccable. What do I need to practice relentlessly so I will be unflappable?

9. How much do the people in black get paid? I look good in black.

10. Clearly a middle age female wrote the script for this year's show. How do I know? The villain's name is Mr. Gravity. Yeah, I'm feeling it.

11.The greatest feats all required tethers to stabilize the apparatus. What tethers me?

12. It seemed really loud to me. Not to this guy. Probably had to work 3 jobs just to pay for the souvenirs and food.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Friendly Fire

I have battled faulty thinking off and on my whole life. The flow goes like this. I believe God loves me BUT He HAS TO to love me for crying out loud by definition HE IS LOVE. Therefore God's love is all about HIM and not necessarily about ME. The thinking discounts His love for ME and makes me feel as if it is an obligation or chore to love me. The same thinking warps how I think Brad sees me. It goes like this. He has to love me because he is my husband. He promised God he always would. Deep sigh, but does he even like me? Separating my thinking from God's truth has been very difficult. One of the most comforting verses in the Bible for me is "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;" Proverbs 3:5. In my mind's eye I picture myself placing all my weight on a pile of words that explode. And then I hit the ground, HARD. As you can imagine this unbridled thinking is a far cry from the abundant life God wants for me.

When I learned I was pregnant I made a choice to address this full on. I did not want to mother from this shaky foundation. God helped me. He used scripture, wise counsel, and a voice that sounds a whole like me but is smarter to heal me. Together we walked through lies I had believed and I learned HIS truth about me.

"Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is the man who finds skillful and godly Wisdom, and the man who gets understanding [drawing it forth from God's Word and life's experiences]",Proverbs 3:13-17 (Amplified Bible)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Here's A Quarter

When Brad and I were first dating we had a conversation about money that we have referred back to many times. I was teaching kindergarten at the time and sharing my frustration about teaching the value of twenty-five cents. He pulls a coin out of his pocket and said,"Deana just hand them a quarter." I thanked him for the solution, pocketed the newly aquired quarter, rolled my eyes dramatically and said, "or 25 pennies, two dimes, and a nickel, fifteen pennies and a dime, there are many correct answers to this one question!" He grinned and playfully said, "I guess there is more to it than just a quarter. I'm glad I'm not the Kindergarten Teacher." To this day when we face a challenge and are getting frustrated during our brainstorming Brad will pop out the word, "Quarter" several times in a row and we will laugh. "Quarter,quarter" is an instant reminder that life's questions can have more than one right answer.

Recently I have been bombarded with the following phrase "My husband tries but he just doesn't (fill in the blank) the way I would with the kids." And I will even fess up to having the same thought. Funny how I know there is more than one right way to do many things but I think my way is the best. I also panic about the idea of what would happen if I was not around to raise our daughter. Sad isn't it? I married this fabulous man and I undercut (if only in my mind) his value regularly because he does something differently than I would have. I can hear my mom saying in her funny voice, "Me thinks you think too highly of yourself." I always loved that she said that in a funny voice because it cut me to the quick but made me smile at the same time.

"You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift." -The Message