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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mama Mondays- “You’re beautiful baby, from the outside in, chase your dreams but always know the road that will lead you home again…”

“Is there any way to treat Sensory Processing Disorder at home without Occupational Therapy?”

I want to say off the bat that there is no equal replacement for a caring and qualified Occupational Therapist. We’ve seen several, some good and some really bad, and sensory issues are complex enough that I would never tell someone that they don’t *need* OT.  However, in the real world, insurance does not always cover OT, or it only covers a few sessions, or for some families who have a newly adopted child, you may not feel comfortable pursuing outside treatment right away. I always say that at the very least, getting a professional evaluation done is a good idea. Sensory issues are not all the same and you can actually do more damage by just picking and choosing random techniques without understanding what you are doing. We have been “treating” our daughter, both with professionals and on our own, since she was about a year old, so here are some methods we’ve used that have helped.

First, realize that no matter how your child’s sensory issues manifest themselves (sensory seeking, sensory avoidance, or both), just dealing with them is stressful and can cause great anxiety and confusion for your child. Someone once described a child’s experience with SPD as like “always walking around on a bad acid trip”. Lights and sounds don’t make sense and overlap each other. Touch may feel smothering and oppressive. Pain can be intensified or desensitized. Depth perception can be off, leading to lack of coordination and clumsiness. It reminded me of when I had to get an MRI, and was instructed to take a large dose of Xanax beforehand. While one evening of that was merely funny, if that was how I operated all the time, it would be incredibly frustrating. In my head, I was making perfect sense. On the outside, I seemed completely high. So really the first step is to remember that- because as difficult as these issues can be for the parents, it is much more difficult for the child. (If you’d like a laugh at my expense, read about my MRI experience because blogging on Xanax is clearly a good idea- http://followingbutterflies.org/2012/09/21/i-get-by-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends-i-get-high-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/ )

For us, it’s been important to try to reduce Selah’s stress level as much as we can, knowing that her threshold is lower, and her baseline is higher. For me, this means I have to work hard to control my tone of voice (and volume). If I yell up the stairs to my son to put on his shoes, he simply hears me telling him to put on his shoes. If I yell up the stairs to Selah to put on her shoes, she only hears possible danger because I am yelling, and her brain only processes that, and forgets completely about the shoe instruction. I also watch body language with her more carefully. Because Selah is a seeker AND avoider, I have to pay attention to what’s going on around her to know what she needs in that moment. Sometimes she needs firm hands on her arms to talk to her, but sometimes she needs quiet voice and soft rubbing on her arms. It’s trial and error, but you can usually see pretty quickly what is calming and what is not. Sometimes eye contact is needed for her to focus on me and block everything else out, and sometimes eye contact feels threatening. Being a student of your child and even keeping a journal will help you see certain patterns in behavior, locations, time of day, etc, and that will help you anticipate rather than react.

Part of keeping her stress level (and therefore, keeping her stress hormone levels down), is that I am pretty strict with her schedule, and I was extremely strict with it when she was younger. Children with SPD don’t often “bounce back” from things like changes in schedule or physical stressors. Even now I know that if Selah has multiple nights of going to bed later than normal, we will be dealing with some “sensory behavior” for the next 48-72 hours. I know that if we have a new babysitter or even one she hasn’t seen in a while, there is a good chance she will act out in some way while the babysitter is there. I know that when her schedule has been disrupted or there is outside stress, she will likely have a night terror. (Side note- this is also why it is so vital to have consistent and open communication with your child’s school and teacher, because one “little” incident at school that doesn’t seem important can set your child off on a chain reaction as they try to make sense of it. An example of this is a time when Selah had a complete meltdown over her crayons breaking and we found out later that she had a substitute for two days that was unaware that she was allowed to go to the nurse’s office when she got overwhelmed.). We give her plenty of warning about what the day is going to bring, and we try to keep our days during the week fairly the same. I have realized that when she asks me a hundred times what is for dinner, she isn’t just asking, her brain is trying to process and get ready for the sensory experience of eating dinner. When she asks a hundred times when daddy is getting home, she is preparing herself for the loud chaos that happens when daddy walks through the door.

Some more practical things we have done-

Oral- My sweet girl is a chewer. I don’t think y’all understand- this girl has chewed through every single chewy we have ever bought. We used to use gum until we took her off of food dye, so now we experiment with other things. One thing I have recently found to work pretty well is a piece of sugarcane. It is very tough, so it works well for kids who chew hard, it’s natural so no worries about dyes, and it’s relatively cheap. I cut it into pieces and store it in the freezer for when I need a piece. I also usually carry some straws with me in case I notice her chewing on her sleeve or hair. Giving her some hard oral work first thing in the morning seems to help- things like using a small straw for a thick smoothie or yogurt, or letting her chew on a bagel. If she’s having a problem with constant talking, I let her hum or sing. Singing somehow doesn’t seem to annoy her brothers as much as constant questions, haha! I also will have her play a game where she has to say a sentence or scripture or sing but keep her lips closed. This is stress relieving, because it’s fun, AND it gives her great oral input. I carry lip balm with me, because sometimes just letting her put it on is enough input, or it’s helpful for protection for kids that lick their lips a lot. I use lollipops or sour candy if I can find dye free varieties. I’ve been known to go to sonic and just get cups of ice and let her chew on that.

Muscle work- Selah has grown to a point where she is much better at recognizing her needs before I see it, and so she often asks me for “heavy muscle work”. I have recently kept a pile of bricks in the backyard that she is allowed to pick up and carry around and build things out of. I almost always ask her to carry the groceries in or push the heavy shopping cart. I allow her to carry her brother on her back. When all else fails, I have allowed her to rearrange furniture in different rooms. I give her deep massages when I see that she is getting wound up, and we use our trampoline. A lot. I mean, sometimes I am tempted in the middle of the night to send her happy up singing Taylor Sift songs hiney out to the trampoline.

Auditory- Selah has headphones in the car that she can use when she is having a hard time with sounds. This seems to happen more on road trips, so another thing we do is stop more often on road trips then we probably would. Forcing a sensory kid to endure long road trips without getting out of the car is not a good idea at best, unbearable for them at worst. (I still shudder thinking about driving to Colorado from Texas and Selah screaming bloody murder and trying to undress and rip her car seat apart for the last three hours of the trip. My sister-in-law met me in her driveway with a rum and coke. Nightmares). For this particular issue though, mostly it’s just patience and remembering that she can’t filter out the sounds that aren’t important (like the air conditioner turning on), so she isn’t purposefully ignoring me, she just can’t focus on what I am saying. This means I don’t ask her to do something when the television or radio is on. This means I touch her when I speak to her. This means I repeat myself. And repeat myself. And repeat myself. (I know this might seem like an obedience issue, and sometimes it is, but after 8 years, it’s almost always easy to tell when it’s an obedience issue and when it’s a processing issue)

Kindness and grace. Mercy and compassion. Intentional study and forgiveness. Dealing with sensory issues can make you want to tear out your hair and hide in the closet and cry. It can also remind you daily of your need for Christ.

May we all be blessed with one of these kids!

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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“Online I live in Malibu, I posed for Calvin Klein and been in GQ, I’m single and I’m rich and I got a set of six pack abs that’ll blow your mind…”

I realize that I am about to sound like my grandma the first time she tried to use an iPhone, but y’all…the internets are weird. Not like, oh cousin Ricky who plays the spoons and has an unhealthy infatuation with Cheetos weird, but like finding a doll made out of human hair that looks just like you at your neighbor’s house weird. Sometimes I find myself staring at my screen with the same look on my face that my dog has when I have a sandwich and she’s befuddled that I am not sharing with her.

In high school, I wasn’t cool. I was mostly unaware of this fact. I mean, I had my group of friends, but I was a choir kid, a little bit of a drama kid, and that’s it. I wasn’t a super great student (which I find ironic considering how obsessive I became about achievement in college), I wasn’t super pretty, I wasn’t athletic (I mastered the art of faking cramps to get out of gym). I was friendly, but not overly so. I was pretty guarded, and didn’t trust many people. I was a church kid, and a lot of my social interaction was through the church, and quite honestly, a lot of my self-worth came from “achievement” in the church- especially through music. I didn’t notice too much if I meant the words I was singing, as long as they sounded pretty. I didn’t notice if I understood God’s word, as long as I could use words to make it sound like I understood it. But for the most part, I was unaware that I wasn’t one of the cool kids.

Fast forward number I’m not telling you how many years. It still takes me awhile to catch on. My sister-in-law had to sign me up for Facebook and I called it “The Facething” for about six months. Wes set up my Twitter account and I tweeted once and then started tweeting again a year later. I enjoy blogging, and reading blogs, but I’m not one of those people who keep up with tons of blogs and know different authors and attend blogging conferences and read books about how to blog. Not saying there is anything wrong with that, it’s just not me. I follow people on Twitter that I know, or who make me laugh, or who are encouraging. I like to follow people who are vastly different from me too, because I think it’s too easy to be sucked into an atmosphere of just being around people like yourself.

But here’s the thing- I just got into my first Fitter. (that’s what I call a fight on Twitter)  And more importantly, I discovered I am pretty bad at it. I’m not bad at conflict in real life, in fact, I think it’s one of my strengths. I don’t get angry easily, it’s pretty easy for me to stay calm, and I’ve been really blessed to be in a church that does conflict really well, so I’ve learned over the last ten years that you can vehemently disagree with someone and walk away feeling loved and heard. This is very difficult on Twitter and Facebook. In real life, if I was having a disagreement with a woman, I could ask her to have coffee. I could look her in the eye. I could ask her questions about her background and her family. I could begin to see her story, because a person’s story is probably dictating a lot of what a person is saying. I could pray with her. I could buy her a muffin and hug her and tell her thanks for talking with me about this, even if we still disagree. I could ask for forgiveness if my tone was sharp or the words I chose, insensitive. I could be wordy. I could say “the issue we are debating isn’t nearly as important as how we debate it.”

It hurts to be called names. Even by strangers. And as I told someone who was at the center of this debate, I don’t mind being in conflict with someone, but I hate being misunderstood. And really, there’s a lot of opportunity to be misunderstood in 140 characters. I took some time to read through blogs and tweets on both sides of this debate, really trying to understand people’s point of view. And as I delved further into the blogsphere, it hit me again- I really am not one of the cool kids. So here’s my confession- I’ve never been to a blogging conference (although it’s something I would like to do). I haven’t read the top ten controversial books written by women (or men, for that matter) about the church. I really don’t know what “emergent” means. If you throw around names like “Chandler”, I don’t think “well know pastor”, I think that guy I went to college with. I didn’t know that you can be judged by who you follow on Twitter or what you favorite. I never knew that there would be judgement on the validity of your opinion based on the number of followers you have or how many hits you get on your blog. I didn’t know I was supposed to care about these things. I didn’t realize that like-minded people can have a discussion on Twitter or blogs about someone, without even knowing that person. Twitter is basically a burn book, except you can see all the pages. I liked it better in high school, when I couldn’t.

Can we still be friends?

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t an intentional act to choose to not be informed of these things. I’d love to read more books, even books I might not agree with. I’d love to listen to more speakers. There’s a part of me that would like to be a cool kid.

I’ll admit that I’ve tried. I’ve tried to keep track of who’s important in the twitter world right now, tried being more informed of current topics in church culture. I read Jen Hatmaker’s blog and it encouraged me recently and so I started following her on twitter and Facebook. Weeks after I started following her, I realized- this woman is kind of a big deal. She has a huge following. She’s written a bunch of books. And then I felt kind of silly replying to her tweets, because I hadn’t been seeing her as a “famous blogger”, I’d been seeing her as a woman who encouraged me and someone I’d like to be friends with and watch The Voice with. I’ve tried reading articles about increasing blog traffic. I’ve tried learning about selling ad space and trademarking and Klout scores and putting your name out there. Maybe I don’t have the personality for it. Maybe I can barely keep up with what I am making for dinner.

Yesterday on Twitter, I debated a subject, but I learned about so much more. I learned that I suck at online arguments. I learned that there’s a world of pain surrounding church culture that I don’t know enough about. I learned that I’m just one careless moment away from morphing into Regina George. I learned that women can be terribly cruel to other women, and that this is a tragedy. I learned that I am annoyed that the computer limits my ability to give hugs. I learned that I and and us and the world…we need Jesus so much. And I learned that I am not a cool kid.

I think I am okay with that. Maybe this blog never turns into income. Maybe the book ideas that float around in my head stay in my head. Chances are I will always be Brandy who?  I probably won’t be famous to the christian world but Father, help me love in a way that makes You so famous that there’s no room for me to be.

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77 (Irony. And there it is)

“In the eyes of a ranger, the unsuspecting stranger had better know the truth of wrong from right, cause the eyes of a ranger are upon you…”

I’ve always been a bit of a vigilante. Vigilante Brandy, it’s what they call me. Well, they is really me. I call me that. Look, that’s not important. What IS important is that I am not afraid to be the long arm of the law.

I have a good friend who has a little boy who I love dearly. He is in kindergarten at the same school as my kids. He attends an afterschool program there at the school. Today, I went to pick up my kids, and as I was pulling into the carpool line, I noticed her little boy (I’ll call him David), walking hand in hand with a woman outside of the school. I thought to myself “Is that David? Who is he with? Where’s he going?” All questions I got from watching CSI. I used my trained eagle eyes and watched as this woman, a seemingly innocent looking woman, dragged David while he kicked and screamed. I mean, he wasn’t EXACTLY kicking and screaming, but I reasoned that maybe he was intimidated, like she had whispered menacingly in his ear “Come with me kid and don’t make a sound see, or there’s gonna be trouble!”. Because she was also from a 1940’s gangster film. They started walking towards a white van as I fire off a text to check and see if he’s supposed to be leaving  with this drifter. White van. I believe even the manufacturer calls it “kidnapper white”. I was horrified as I saw her open the door and shove help poor David inside. I didn’t stop, I didn’t think, I just acted. With catlike reflexes, I flew into action and pushed the button to roll down the window. That took awhile. I yelled “Hey David, HEY! Hey! LADY!” and schooled my face to appear intimidating, like Detective Olivia Benson or Professor Snape. But sweet David couldn’t hear me, maybe because of the chloroform. The perp scuttled to the driver’s seat where she tore out of the parking lot. I mean, she had to wait on a couple of buses. And some kids. And that one squirrel that took forever crossing the street, but still. I decided then and there…NOT ON MY WATCH, LADY. I will not go gently into the night.

I pulled out of the carpool line, and decided to follow her. I realized that I could use technology to my advantage, and so I grabbed my phone to dictate to Siri as much information as I could, in case the FBI needed it later. I will say this- Siri? Not so helpful. And if I’m honest- pretty heartless. She couldn’t have cared less about David. I bet she just watches people start forest fires and doesn’t even say a word. She just watches the world burn. We begin following the van…

Me- “Siri, write this down- white ford van, kidnapper white”

Siri- “I can’t write. Would you like me to send a text?”

Me- “No. Make a note- white ford van, kidnapper white”

Siri- “would you like me to look up white corn and kidnapper white?”

Me- “NO! We don’t have time for your games, Siri!”

Siri- “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Would you like me to look up time games in your area?”

Me- “WHITE WOMAN, LONG HOMESCHOOL SKIRT”

Siri- “Don’t be angry.”

Me- “If this child disappears, it’ s gonna be your fault, Siri”

Siri- “You are an idiot.”

Siri didn’t actually say that last part, but she was totally thinking it.

As I followed, my phone buzzed with a text saying “Yes. He has tutoring today.”, so I turned around and went back to the school. I got out and walked up to his teacher and asked her and she confirmed that he leaves the campus for tutoring on Tuesday afternoon which NOBODY HAD INFORMED ME OF SO WHAT I DID WAS HEROIC. Almost.

Spoke with the mom later. Turns out, David goes over to this lady’s house after school for tutoring, along with her other nine homeschooled children. So basically I tried to Walker Texas Ranger Mrs. Duggar.

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Chase innocent strangers.

 

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“Cause you’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back, you’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast…”

Potty-training. Dun dun DUN.

First kid, I started the day he turned two. Two weeks before that, I bought a little chart and stickers, bought some prizes, took him to the store and let him pick out big boy underwear. I ordered the Elmo potty book with the buttons that make the flushing noise with the included DVD. I bought a Deigo potty seat. I stocked up on extra sheets and pull ups for night training. I had a schedule and a plan. Took him to the bathroom every 30 minutes for a week. Cheered and called grandparents when he went in the toilet. Baked him a cake.

Second child, I waited a little longer, maybe until she was closer to two and a half. Bought a couple of stickers. Took her to the store to pick out some girly panties. Took her to the bathroom when she asked. Handed her some animal crackers when she went.

Third kid, I have no idea how old he was because he trained himself.

I’m gonna admit to this- I loathe potty training. It’s one of my least favorite parts of parenting. I would literally pay someone to do it for me if I could. I remember when I was training Selah that I would call friends and beg them to train her and try to bribe them with baked goods. It’s tedious and requires levels of patience that I just don’t possess.  That being said, I usually advise moms to wait as long as they can to begin (if the child isn’t asking or training themselves). I honestly believe that training kids is easier when they can understand cause and effect a little more, and when you can use at least some level of reasoning with them. The difference between a two-year old and a three-year old understanding that a behavior is connected to a reward is significant, and so I actually decided that I wasn’t even going to try to train Malachi until he was three and a half. Luckily for me, Malachi wants to do everything Josiah can do, so he just watched and learned. I put him in pull ups at night and one night I just noticed that we had a big stack of them still in his closet, because he had decided to stop wearing them. Done.

But what if you’ve got an older preschooler that just.won’t.do. it???? Will they never learn? Will you be buying college sized pull ups? Will their wife or husband hate you because you never accomplished this goal? Will they be forced into professions where pull ups are acceptable?

First step- take a deep breath and decide to take a week off. No thinking about it, no planning it, no weeping or stressing about it. You are way more stressed about it than they are-trust me. Many times we get frustrated or anxious about a particular thing our kids do or don’t do, and we decide to make a plan to fix it. The problem is, plans made under frustration or anxiety are rarely compassionate, and almost always grounded in the idea that we are in control. So, as difficult as it may be, take a week off. Longer, if you need to.

Second, pray. Does God care about potty training? Of course- because it’s not about potty training-it’s about your heart and your child’s heart. Do you understand that He created your child and ordered their days, including this? Do you trust that He loves your child way more than you could? Do you believe that these situations are God designed to sharpen us and bring us closer to Him? Pray for your child, sure, but pray for yourself. Pray to be open to what He wants to teach you through what could be a discouraging season.

Third- remember what you model. Mamas, you are not just modeling how to use the bathroom. You are modeling how God sees us when He is teaching us something that is difficult to learn!  Think back to the ways we learn- yes, He uses methods, His Word, and natural consequences, but He also uses time and patience and grace. As I say in every single Mama Monday, remember your goal- it’s to model Christ, not to have a perfectly potty trained child. It will not be a success if your child uses the toilet correctly every time…because they are fearful of the consequences if they don’t.

Fourth-don’t give in to peer pressure. Look, the average age for potty training is 2-3 years old, but that age range simply isn’t going to work for every kid, and you will drive yourself and your child crazy if you try to force that timeframe. Controlling going to the bathroom is a physical, emotional, mental, and neurological developmental skill. As parents we can teach and guide and provide a good learning environment, but the fact remains that some kids simply are not ready to train at that age. Trying to force your child to learn when their body isn’t ready is only going to frustrate you and hurt your relationship with your child. I promise it’s not worth it. It is difficult when you face pressure, either because you feel like everyone else has potty trained their kid (they haven’t), or you have outside pressure from preschool, or you feel financial pressure to stop buying diapers, but you will actually prolong the process if you try to force it. Believe me, this is just the beginning of a long life of resisting the urge to compare your child to others.

Okay, so that’s all theory, but what about practice for that older kid who isn’t trained yet? Here are some suggestions-

Start with forgiveness. If your child is older and not trained, there’s a good chance that there’s been some tension regarding that between you and your child. Start by seeking their forgiveness for a lack of patience or grace. Explain that you’d like to work as a team to help him/her learn, but that more than learning to use the potty, you want to be more like Jesus. Tell them that they are a big kid, and you have full confidence that they can learn. Set up a “clean up” station in your bathroom, with a basket filled with flushable wipes, a change of clothes, hand soap, a set of bed sheets, and a towel. Explain that from now on, your child is in charge of cleaning up after themselves. If they have an accident, they will be in charge of cleaning up themselves and the floor, etc. They need to be in charge of soaking their clothes until they can be washed. They need to know how to clean a floor. They need to know a very basic knowledge of how to put a new sheet on their bed. And now here’s the difficult part…let them do it. They won’t do it perfectly. They will ruin some clothes. They might sleep in wonky sheets. That’s okay. The point is, you communicate to them- you can do this. I have faith in you. I am giving you ownership over this. You are there to offer guidance, but in a VERY calm and matter of fact way. I also think you use underwear for this. I used pull ups at night because night training is a different skill set, but for naps and daytime, underwear only. It’s not an option. If there is a tantrum due to this, I would handle it like any other tantrum- calmly and with an appropriate consequence. Don’t engage in an argument over this- just quietly hand over the underwear. They refuse to put it on? That’s okay, but naked children don’t get to sit on my couch. Naked children can’t play in the backyard. Naked children have to stand to eat. Bummer, I planned a play date for you, but naked children can’t play with friends. See the pattern?

If you do this for a month, and your child is still having accidents all the time and you can see that it isn’t deliberate, it’s okay to say “It’s okay that you aren’t ready. We are going to go back to diapers for a little while, and we will try again later. If you feel like you’d like to try, let me know”, then stop for a month or so. Try not to say “when you are ready to be a big kid, let me know”, because if they truly aren’t physically ready, that is shaming, and if they are stubborn and just don’t want to do it, that statement implies that they are only a big kid if they do what you want and that will make a stubborn kid dig their heels in more. Try to make this as matter of fact and non emotional as you can.

If you’ve got a kid that you see is physically capable of this but appears to be anxious about it- then be thankful because you’ve got a wonderful opportunity to begin modeling and teaching your child about trusting the Lord. Look, growing up is scary. Learning new skills is scary. I mean, I freak out every time I have to update my phone, much less learn a whole new life skill. Be patient. Your child is just going to match your emotional level and then go one level up. Find out what is scary about it and meet their need. I used to carry around post-it notes and stick them over the automatic flusher because Selah was terrified of it. Think about how the Lord deals with our (sometimes irrational) fears. He doesn’t get irritated, He doesn’t even tell us our fears are unfounded, He just reminds us over and over that we are not alone and He loves us. So remind your child that you love them, whether they learn this or not. Sometimes when kids are learning a new and scary skill, they need a little bit of regression in other places, so if your child is working hard at learning to use the potty, compensate in some other ways like maybe rocking a little at night or some more intentional bonding. Realize that as much energy as it takes out of us as parents to teach it, it takes twice as much energy out of our kids to learn it.

Alright, time to share your tips- what has worked for you with potty training?

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“Call me on the line, call me call me call me any anytime, call me my love, you can call me any day or night, call me…”

After such a heavy, difficult week in the news, I thought I would try for a little levity. A few months back, a piece called “Dear Mom on the Iphone” went viral. http://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/dear-mom-on-the-iphone/

Lots of people loved it. Lots of people hated it. I just decided to write how it goes in my life….

Dear Mom on the Iphone,

Hey you, over there looking at your phone.  You are doing a great job with your kids. You work hard, you teach them manners, no one has bitten anyone in a good three days.

But Mama, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…

Your little girl is currently spinning around, sunshine in her hair while she cheerfully explains how babies are made to a slack-jawed four-year old girl who never intended to get a birds and bees lesson when she asked your angel to play tag. She’s such a beauty already, partly because she’s borrowed your “Viva Glam” MAC lipstick. It’s currently hiding in the pocket of her dress where it will be later used to paint the dog’s toenails and fill in any unnecessary gaps in your outlets. She keeps glancing over to see if you are looking at her, for she is now dissecting what we can only guess is a half dead squirrel. She pokes at it with a stick, Mama. Oh wait, the stick is abandoned. Now it’s her fingers.

Don’t look away. There’s more…

Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!”  I see you look up, giving him the universal look for “don’t even THINK about peeing down that slide!”

He sees that too.  His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to pee on.

Now you are pushing your baby in the swing.  She loves it!  Cooing and smiling with every push.   But your head is bent, looking at your shirt and wondering “When did I eat spaghetti?? That was three days ago!”  You snap your head back up, as you were beginning to fall asleep and look at your phone to see where the nearest Starbucks is with a drive thru.

Talk to her and tell her about the world around her. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly. Glance down at your own version of the baby belly and see the running app on your phone that you downloaded but don’t know how to use.

Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids. Seriously, put your eyes back on them. They are circling a bee hive screaming “FREE PINATA!!”

Show them that they are the priority. I know, you got up early after staying up late helping your son glue 1, 467, 532 buttons onto a piece of cardboard for his “Been Jammin’ Buttons” project for music class at school, and no one has even laughed at your clever title, but suck it up!  Wherever you are, be ALL there.  For it is written-  “Thou shalt be ALL there, whether thoust be cooking or going to the bathroomest, whether thou is awake or asleep, if thou is bleeding profusely from multiple orifices, be thou ALL there or thou shall be smited with being in charge of the teacher giftest, and March Madness that shall last for four scores and seven years.”

They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy.  They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”  Someday soon they will scream out “WHATEVER MOM! I’M NEVER GONNA REGRET THIS JUSTIN BEIBER TATTOO. WHEN WE GET MARRIED AND HAVE OUR FIRST SON, FEVER, AND OUR DAUGHTER, LEEVITO, YOU’LL SEE!”

Love,

Me

ps. I wrote this letter on my Iphone. That’s not important. Uh, have you seen my kid?

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Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“Do you remember when You lived down here where we all scrape, to find the faith to ask for daily bread? Did You forget about us after You had flown away? Well I memorized every word You said”…

I don’t check stats on my blog very often, because I don’t want to get too caught up in numbers, but I checked and Monday’s post generated over 7000 hits. That is amazing, and I am so grateful to you guys for reading and sharing the link with others. Thank you especially for being willing to engage in commenting on what I know can be a very difficult subject.

One of the comments about the Gosnell post that has stayed with me addressed the idea of good versus bad outcomes. In this case, she was referring to the question of is abortion a good solution when a woman isn’t going to be a good mother?  This struck me because I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently.  I read a status on Facebook about a situation where someone had gotten a surprisingly positive report from their doctor, and someone commented – “this is such a God thing!”

Now, I think I know what they meant- that this person was being blessed with good health and they wanted to thank God for it.  There’s nothing wrong with that. But I immediately wondered- if this person had posted that they had gotten bad news, would we say it was a God thing? Or do we believe He’s only involved in what we think is good?

I think we can all agree that this week has been more than difficult. I flip channels between details on the Gosnell case to images of a young boy, dead from a bomb at the Boston Marathon. And it weighs me down- I just told my accountability partners today that I was struggling with feeling this sadness, this heaviness in trying to make sense of things that just don’t. Sometimes I struggle with shutting down emotionally when things are really difficult, and so I sat down and wrote out some questions to pray through-

Do I believe that God will allow difficult and tragic things to happen in order for a greater good to happen?

Do I believe that He has an ultimate plan that may feel unreasonably painful to me?

Do I believe that even if I don’t get to see the good that comes out of evil, that He is still in control of it?

Do I believe that I am who I am because of the hardships I’ve faced or in spite of them?

Do I trust Him?

No really. Do I trust Him?

Doesn’t it all come down to that? I’m going to be honest, I’ve had prayers that sound like little more than me screaming why. I’ve beat my fists and been angry. I’ve told Him that I didn’t think He was paying attention, or that this might have been the one time He made a mistake. I’ve told Him that He has misplaced faith in me to handle certain things. I’ve told Him that if it were up to me, the bad guys would get what they deserve.

And then He gently reminds me that while I might cast myself in the role of victim, I actually play the part of the bad guy.  And then He reminds me of what He has done to rescue me from what I deserve.

In the debate on Monday and Tuesday, I can’t tell you that I understand why God would allow a drug addict to get pregnant and hurt a child. I can’t explain why He doesn’t supernaturally rescue a little boy, a boy whose face reminds me of Josiah, from being taken out by the hate from another person. I can’t explain why couples who love each other and love God have to struggle to become parents.

It doesn’t feel like a God thing. It just feels like a pain thing.  It’s so much easier to describe hope and relief and happiness and clean reports and healthy newborns and weddings and adoptions as God things. But do we believe that depression and mental illness and addiction and cancer and unplanned pregnancy and failed adoptions and and and…do we believe that He’s in those too? That He’s not just interested in meeting us once we are on the other side of those things, but He’s interested in walking with us through them?

I want to forget about Gosnell. I want to forget about bombs. I want to forget about depression and hurt feelings, conflict with friends and marriage struggles. I want to get past it. But I don’t want to miss the growth, I don’t want to miss the intimacy with my Father that comes when I am hurt and need comfort.

“We can rejoice too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”-Romans 5:3-4

Father, when bad things happen, I don’t want my first thought to be about just how You will rescue me or others. I want my first thought to be “thank You for what you are going to teach me in each step of this”. Help me trust you more!

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“May the tears fall down, may they soften this ground, may our hearts be found, God, forgive us now…”

Somewhere in Philadelphia, there was a woman named Karnamaya Mongar who one day found out that she was expecting a baby. This was not happy news for her. In her second trimester, around 23 weeks, she arrived at the abortion clinic, and received multiple doses of Demerol by an office assistant who lacked a medical license. After several hours, not only did her baby stop breathing, but so did she. The doctor, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, arrived to the clinic and attempted CPR briefly, but did not call 911 or use other medications to help her. Once 911 was finally called, the doctor and office staff rearranged her body to look like a routine abortion scene. Dr. Gosnell lied to the hospital about how much Demerol she had been given, so she was unable to be properly treated. Karnamaya Mongar died the next day.

This story is shocking, but one of the most horrifying parts of it is that she is just one in a long line of deaths caused by this doctor and his staff. The grand jury report( http://www.phila.gov/districtattorney/pdfs/grandjurywomensmedical.pdf) tells story after story of babies being killed by either inducing labor early or for those babies who survived the labor, having their spinal cords cut with a pair of scissors. One baby left in a plastic shoe box. One baby frozen in a water bottle. Stories of forging ultrasounds so that babies who were older than the legal allowance for abortion could be aborted anyway. Reports that on Sundays, Dr. Gosnell and his wife would perform “special cases”, where babies 24 weeks old and up would be delivered and killed.  In what I hope will become a tidal wave of attention, this week began with a trickle of outrage over the lack of media attention to this trial. As the morbid dominos fell, I waited to see- how bad is this going to get? And then the grand jury report came out. And then the testimonies. And then the pictures.

A friend emailed me this weekend and said “I’m surprised that you haven’t tweeted something about this”, and she’s right, I haven’t. The truth is, I feel a little like when I walked into a government run orphanage in Ethiopia and saw rows upon rows of cribs. It’s like your mind doesn’t know what to process first, so you are stuck between understanding and action. When I stood in that place, my first thought was- I don’t have enough arms. Who gets picked up first? This one is crying, but that one is silent- which one needs me more? There are flies landing on that one, but that one is choking on a bottle propped up. My body went on autopilot, and my brain scrambled to catch up. I did not stop to think about what I was seeing until much later…and then I cried.

Friends, this is how I have felt this week. I have felt the pressing weight of details of dead babies and hearts crushed. I have closed my eyes and seen those pictures, the pictures of precious baby boys in plastic shoe boxes and innocent infant girls with their spinal cords cut. Part of my heart says “Don’t look at this- this will haunt you” and the other part knows that these babies, these women, they deserve for someone to know them. My stomach lurches, my eyes are scorched with images, my heart fractures, but my soul is drawn closer to the Comforter.

I mourn. But I mourn too for this- for every woman who stepped into that building, every woman who allowed herself to be sedated and her baby taken from her womb, there may have been a person who missed an opportunity. Maybe a person who didn’t see her. A person who didn’t take the time to get to know her, to be a source of support in her time of need, to be a person she turned to when she found out about the life growing in her. A person who would have begged her to choose to give her child life. A person who would have invested in her and her child, to show her the love of Christ, so that she didn’t feel like this- this dilapidated nightmarish building- was her best option.

Am I that person?

I mourn for the fifteen year old employee, Ashley Baldwin, who testified that she was instructed to sedate these women. I mourn because this fifteen year old, a baby herself, was working in an abortion clinic, through a high school training program. I mourn because her mother allowed her to work 50 hours a week, sitting with women as they delivered their babies into a toliet, giving them high doses of pain medicine to keep them quiet and sedated, for long periods of time. I mourn that her mother worked there as well, and did not teach her daughter to speak up to try to stop this genocide. I mourn that in multiple reports, I can’t find even a mention of Ashley Baldwin’s father.

Could I be that parent?

I mourn for the journalist who chooses to look the other way on this story, not because it isn’t news-worthy, but because in looking at the details of the case, you cannot help but confront the issue of abortion. While even the most liberal pro-choice person would not state that cutting a 24+ week old baby’s neck with scissors is acceptable, the truth is that you cannot explain why this is unacceptable without wrestling with the idea that the reason this is a tragedy and a crime is because life is precious. And you then have to begin the tricky and onerous question of when it becomes morally acceptable to kill a baby. I mourn that this question is so distressing that instead of tackling it, we have chosen silence.

Could I be the one who looks the other way?

I mourn for the believer who, like me, is sickened by these events and angered by the media’s silence, but who gets so caught up in their fury that they forget that the anger comes from defending the innocent, not from the unfairness of a pro-life agenda being ignored. I mourn that believer who would drown themselves out in screaming about the liberal media so much that no one can hear the anguished whisper about the death of innocents. I mourn for the believer who gets what they want- a front page or the leading story on the news, but doesn’t have a calm and grace-filled conversation with a person who believes differently. I mourn for the believer who can remember all of the current talking head’s names, but doesn’t know the name of the pregnant scared girl down the street. I mourn for the believer who beats their fists against the walls of abortion clinics but quickly dismisses adoption as “just not right for my family.”

Could I be that screaming Christian?

I know there is probably a Karnamaya Mongar on my street. There may be a Ashley Baldwin. There might even be a Dr. Gosnell. And I know that the same grace and the same forgiveness offered to these people is the exact same grace and forgiveness I need for not stepping in to help prevent this.

Don’t mistake my silence this week for apathy. I just needed some time for my head to form the words that my heart was sobbing.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating- there is no unwanted child. I don’t say that in a flippant philosophical way, as though these children will just magically find families or these mothers will magically become more resourced and equipped. I say this with the promise that if you are out there, thinking about abortion, I will do whatever I can to help you. If that is finding a home for your baby, I will do it, either with my family or others. If it is helping you be in a better place to raise your child, I will do that too. “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other, let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18

Preemie born at 24 weeks

Preemie born at 24 weeks

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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