Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

Encouragement for the Young Girl with Aspergers

To the Young Girl with Aspergers Syndrome

Just yesterday morning, a dear friend of mine reached out to me.  Her oldest daughter is an 18 year-old college student.  She is also an amazing young lady on Autism Spectrum .  Having grown so much in these past 4 years as a girl with Aspergers Syndrome she wrote a letter to her 14 year-old self.

She has allowed me to share it here for any young girl who feels different and needs this encouragement.  What an honor and my privilege.

For the mom raising a neurodiverse young girl… please share this with your precious creative.  Let’s celebrate the uniqueness of all of our children and allow our girls to thrive as the people God intends them to be.

This post contains Amazon affliliate links.  If you purchase any resources that I recommend using my links, I may receive a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you.  I will not ever recommend any product that I do not stand behind fully.  Thank you for your support so I can continue to offer as much free content as possible to mommas like you and me.  🙂

Dear 14-year-old me,

Well. Four years can certainly make a difference, now can’t it? Seeing your face again brings back a lot of memories, y’know. Makes me realize just how much both the world and I have changed. Time is more of a kiln than a river, in all honesty. Life can and will hurt, yes, but as I look back, I know that I wouldn’t change anything.
Hmm? Advice, you say? Well…let me see. What advice could I give you?
Y’know, in all honesty, I’d say that the best advice I could give you is that you’re not alone.
You’re not broken, or defective, or glitched.

Popping Balloons

You’re not the only one who’s scared by the sound of balloons popping and gets extremely uncomfortable at parties.
Fortunately, plenty of other girls out there have that same wild fuel for the imagination.  They too navigate those same issues with feeling as if you need to perform in order to be accepted.
In fact, there is a shockingly high amount of people who will completely understand when you try to scurry off to another room to escape the hubbub. There are so many other girls and boys who get this pacifying and focusing effect that music has on you.
There are countless other Aspies who know what it’s like to be drifting off to sleep and suddenly be murmuring out dialogues, solidifying plots and characters before slumber overtakes you.
They too understand what it is like to be trying to do school and suddenly it’s half an hour later, and you have a doodled battle scene and no progress on school whatsoever.
You’re not a weird outcast.

One-of-a-kind Rare

You are one-of-a-kind rare, but not in your troubles. There will always be someone out there who’s gone through the exact same issues with anxiety and feeling as uncontrolled as you, and they understand what it’s like.
Keep going.
Keep imagining.
Keep writing.
Keep drawing, even though you think you’re no good.
You’ll get to a point one day where you step back, take a good look at your rough draft for a novel and the art you’ve done so far, and you say,
“This is something that could change someone’s life. There are people out there who need this message, and I have the God-given ability to give it to them. To have a character say something that will stick with a complete stranger and motivate them to make the world a better place.”

God has a Vital Purpose for You

You are FAR from unimportant, younger me. God has put you here for a vital, vital purpose. There will be perfect strangers who will decide to give life another chance because you spoke the Gospel to them, people you have never seen in person and probably never will who will know you as a beacon of light and hope…if only you keep pushing on. Fight past your own fears and hatred, and fight past the bullies you’ll run into. Neither of them have any right to have any power over you.

Healing & Inspiration for the Aspergers Girl

You are a juggernaut of healing and inspiration: you can’t and won’t be stopped after you get unleashed on this broken world.
You have God with you for every step of the way no matter what.  His opinion – not any bully’s, not any critic’s, not even your own – is what matters.
You have so, so much power for good in you because God is your king. Use it. Ignore the voices and fears saying you can’t.

Break Down the Walls of Despair

You have been given a gift like no other: so by golly, go be a juggernaut, and break down those walls of despair and darkness threatening people’s souls. You are a healer and a warrior so powerful that this broken world tried to weaken you with Aspergers…but it messed up and just made you even stronger.

Find Your Aspie Army

So find your army to remind you that you’re not alone, and then draw your bow in a world that only knows how to fire slingshots. You are unique, even when you don’t think so. You are talented, even when you don’t think so. You are never walking your path by yourself, even when you think you are. You are strong, even when you don’t think so.
You are a young girl with Aspergers Syndrome, and you are amazing.
Fight on, young warrior.

Your Older & More Confident Self,

Leigh 

Leigh is an 18 year-old Aspie warrior who’s also learning how ADHD, SPD, and anxiety can all be gifts.  As a college freshman, she is preparing to accomplish her dream of publishing her first self-illustrated novel.  She loves nothing more than helping others see how God celebrates their uniqueness.  

Parenting Introverted Children Well

Parenting Introverted Children Well

Introverted Children are Everywhere

All moms know how challenging, confusing and exhausting parenting can be.  However, the ups and the downs are all part of a beautiful journey that grows us as women, as wives, friends, as Christians and of course as mothers.   With that in mind,  I’ll never forget the afternoon several years ago, when I discovered that I was raising an introverted child.  My sweet friend Amy made me aware of the obvious truth that I had been so blind to for so long.  She opened my eyes to the reality that there are introverted children (and adults) everywhere.

Lindsay, she is an introvert.  She was just upstairs with the girls.  She needs time to regroup.  She is an introvert.

 

What is Introversion?

According to verywellmind.com, introverted children (and adults) may be described this way:

Introverts tend to be more quiet, reserved, and introspective. Unlike extroverts who gain energy from social interaction, introverts have to expend energy in social situations. After attending a party or spending time in a large group of people, introverts often feel a need to “recharge” by spending a period of time alone.

 

My Extraverted Mindset Needed a Shift

As simple as that sounds, it took me quite some time to wrap my extraverted mind around this concept.  I am an extraverted woman who was raised around extraverted women.  It wasn’t sitting well with me that my my second daughter was showing signs of being “shy.”  (By the way, being introverted is not the same as being shy.) 

At the time. I didn’t understand or appreciate her innate wiring.   We live in a world that celebrates the social butterfly.  Those who speak up and advocate loudly are the ones who tend to be exalted.  In school, we show signs of our “smarts” by speaking up in class.  Kids are pushed to have lots of friends and are seen as mentally unstable if they enjoy solitude.

A homeschooling mom swimming against the current of traditional public school and status quo, I had somewhat aggressively been doing everything in my power to render the “socialization” argument moot.  My oldest daughter, like myself, is an extrovert and has always had tons of friends and play dates scheduled.   (I now realize that so much of that was rooted in my own insecurities.  A story for another time.)  So when my middle daughter showed signs of being shy and sensitive, I didn’t get it.

 

Thank God for Introverted Mom Friends

I am so grateful for Amy’s words that day.  We had been at her house for about 45 minutes.  At the time, I had just my two girls as we had yet to adopt our son at that point.  The kids were upstairs playing with Amy’s three daughters.  Amy and I were enjoying some downtime and were chit chatting and breathing in the adult conversation.  And then… I saw my little girl creep down the carpeted stairway and tiptoe over to sit next to me.

Looking back, I am embarrassed and ashamed at my initial response.

Honey, go and play.  You are here to play with the girls.

I don’t know what it was about that moment.  Like a stick in the mud, I was stuck in this belief that the value of a child is dependent upon how many friends he or she has.

This is me being really transparent.  I grew up in a dysfunctional and very parent-absent home.  We moved 14 times before I graduated high school.  In hindsight, I think that as a child and teen I depended upon my social world to give me purpose and value.  Like so many areas of parenting, God was helping me to work through my own junk in my journey with my precious girl.

New Perspective

Amy’s words were used by God to remove the scales from my eyes.  He was teaching me about my introverted child and my broken perceptions.

Lindsay, she is an introvert.

I’ve told Amy a billion times that I will never forget that day.  Her words propelled me down the path of reading everything I could get my hands on in regards to introversion and extraversion.  Being an extravert, I had a pretty solid grasp of what that meant.  However, I was clueless as to how introversion was all around me.  What I realized is that I had misunderstood behaviors and interactions I had with so many people throughout my life.

This post contains Amazon affliliate links.  If you purchase any resources that I recommend using my links, I may receive a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you.  I will not ever recommend any product that I do not stand behind fully.  Thank you for your support so I can continue to offer as much free content as possible to mommas like you and me.

Susan Cain’s Quiet

One of the first books that I read was Susan Cain‘s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  Oh my word!  That book was so insightful and taught me so much about my daughter, my sister, my husband, my father, my father-in-law and so many introverted children that were around me almost daily.  I later purchased Ms. Cain’s other book for kids:  Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids.   

Reading & Seeking Advice from Introverted Women

 

Ultimately, I have spent several years learning more and more about the uniqueness of all of our children.  I have created A Heart for All Students to support our children who each have their own gifts, passions, talents and different ways in which they process the world. 

My perspective of the value of the neurodiversity of God’s people and specifically my own kids, has exponentially grown.  However, as so many moms know, we must continue to seek out support from others who have gone before us in parenting and in experience.

Last week I decided to ask the amazing women in the Private A Heart for All Students Facebook Group to answer the following question:

What would you like parents of introverts to know in order to best support and love their own introverted children?

 

Introverted Momma Katherine:

Give them breaks! One of the best coping skills I gave my kid was an “escape room” or way out of anywhere we went. He learned he could step out and then I challenged him to come back in 5 or 10 min later. Eventually, he was able to take his own breaks or to tell me he needed one so I could help find him a quiet place.  

– Katherine Fain, Homeschool mom of 4

Introverted Momma Cheryl:

Stop making them socialize all the time. Encourage them to socialize with the one or two people they’re comfortable with so they don’t withdraw entirely, but them let them take breaks even from that.

-Cheryl Springer, Extroverted Introvert (INFJ) mom of 1 very introverted, very freaking smart (INTJ) teen daughter

Introverted Momma Meridith:

I let my introvert socialize on his terms and I don’t force it.   Personally, I definitely have some introvert qualities.  Often, I  feel the need to recharge with alone time, but being around the right people can also give me energy.  I’m also not good with forced interaction and am the one digging through her purse or going to the bathroom during meet and greets at church. 😬

-Meridith Curran, Homeschool mom of 2 (with one on the way)

Introverted Momma Colleen:

Not forcing kids to talk to people is a big one. It’s important to recognize that a longer period of time with a lot of people gets overwhelming. Sometimes an introvert struggles with including themselves.  Encouraging them by helping them take a step to get involved with other people is critical. For example, walking with them to other kids and start a conversation that can include them, or introduce them and ask if your kid can play, etc.

-Colleen Webster, introverted  homeschool mom of 4, 2 of whom are introverts

Introverted Momma Melany: 

I think it’s important to continually consider your social encounters and your motives for them. Did you say “yes” to the third night out this week because you felt obligated or pressured to please people?  Or because it’s what’s best? I’m a recovering people pleaser, and sometimes that even overpowers my introverted qualities.  So I’m learning to not be afraid to say no!  And I echo all the comments above about not forcing speaking and physical contact on a child.

-Melany Boltjes INFJ (extroverted introvert) mother of one introverted little girl, Virtual Marketing and Administrative Consultant, and wife of a pastor in training.  www.melbeevirtualsolutions.com

Introverted Momma Melanie:

I’ve found that sometimes my children need “coaching” in what to say. What is your favorite subject in school is a hard one for them–we homeschool and don’t really separate our subjects. We talked and now they have answers.  And I have also found that many times it is the adult who needs the help 🙂 Adults can ask confusing or strange questions. You really need to know a child well to ask good questions that make them feel comfortable and able to talk to you. My children are shy to most people, but put them in a room with the “right” people and they will not stop talking!  The same goes for me.

– Melanie Fulton, Introverted Mom of 4 Blessings, The Math Profs 

Introverted Momma Heather:

I am very introverted and am also a pastor’s wife which can be a challenge because I have to get out of my comfort zone a lot!!!!  Two of my kids are also introverted, one is on the spectrum.  Parents need to realize that their children are not meaning to be rude when they don’t engage in a crowd.

Heather continues,

They are seriously in a life and death struggle in their minds, and often overwhelmed and on the verge of a panic attack. Let your kids engage on their terms. Reassure them that they are safe. Let them stick extra close because at that point you are their safety. Their minds and bodies are telling them to run and hide.  However, they know you are also safety so let them cling or hide behind you if they need.

 

When one of mine was little he used to climb under my skirt if we were in a crowd. Rather awkward, but it was that or he would have a meltdown on the spot. As he got bigger, he learned that my skirt was not an option so he would hug me from behind and bury his face in my back. We would just sway and I could carry on the necessary conversations and he was okay.

– Heather Pittman, Introverted pastor’s wife and mom of 6 with 2 extremely introverted kids

Introverted Momma Jennifer:

I am an introvert. It’s ok if kids want to play alone at times and it’s ok if you aren’t the life of the party. Social situations can be super draining for me, so i have to limit how often I commit to outings. I do better in a very small group of people.   Teaching social skills to introverted kids is very important.  My mom did not teach me any social skills so making friends was very hard for me. I have had to learn on my own, in my adult life how to talk to people.

– Jennifer Reed, Introverted mom of 4

Introverted “Fur” Momma, Corinne:

Last but not least, a sweet new friend, Corinne, has a sweet story to share.  She is a “fur” momma who lived as an introverted child.  Here is what she has to share.

When I was younger, I was the only one in the family who liked music and reading to relax. So naturally, my parents thought that everytime I would go into my room to listen to music, that I was sick.

It took many years of explaining that I wasn’t sick and that I just truly enjoyed being alone. My family likes to talk, which is exhausting for introverted children.

It’s so much better now and my parents are a lot more understanding, but growing up, all I ever wanted was acceptance that it was ok that I was not like them and for them to stop worrying about me.
My brightest ideas were borne out of spending time on my own, when I was single or when I traveled alone, unlike an extrovert who prefers to bounce ideas off other people.

If I hadn’t stayed true to myself and just caved in to the pressure of “pretending” to enjoy socializing, then I wouldn’t be where I am now – a place of contentment, peace and fulfillment.

-Corinne Rootsey, I blog about personal finance and wellness at https://myjearney.com/

One Last Thing… Personality Assessments… a Great Tool for All

You may have noticed that some of my AHFAS introverted children experts had interesting letter combinations behind their names.  These ladies have found incredible value and insight into how God has wired them using a personality assessment tool called the Myers-Briggs.    I was introduced to the Myers-Briggs personality assessment ten years ago at church and found it to be very insightful.  Like so many resources available to us today, this assessment does not define anyone of us, but is a tool to better understand oneself and others.    Check it out and let me know what you think.  🙂

Equipping Our Kids: Identity in Christ

Equipping Our Kids: Identity in Christ

I have taught in Children’s Ministry for 15 years now.   In my experience in children’s ministry and church as a whole, I have noticed a pattern.  As we share Jesus with children (and new believers), we tend to use the same verbiage over and over again.  Some would use the term “Christianese” to describe the language used in Christian circles and in ministry.

This Christian language begins when our children are young.  We start intentionally teaching the preschool-age children using and repeating specific language and key phrases.  We choose specific truths from the Bible and repeatedly use those ideas to convey the message of Jesus.

“Jesus is your friend forever.”

“God loves you so much.”

“When you are afraid, you can trust Jesus.”

As the children grow older, we may beef-up our language.

“Do all things through Christ Who strengthens you.”

“You are covered in Christ.”

“Know who you are in Christ.”

Truth of Scripture- Yes!

All of the above key wording and expression of biblical ideas are wonderful and based on the Truth of Scripture.  However, I have observed a shortcoming in our efforts to grow our children (and often new adult believers) in the Truth of Who God is.   The apostle Paul reminds the early church in his letter to the Corinthians,

“I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.” 1 Corinthians 3:2

By the term “milk”. Paul is describing the way in which he initially shared the gospel with the Corinthian church.  Specifically, that when he first shared the gospel with these new believers, he approached them with what they could digest at the time. The “milk” he shared were the fundamentals of the gospel.

An example of the milk we may share with children in our modern churches might be, “Jesus died on the cross so you can be in heaven with Him forever.”

Cornerstone Truth as the Foundation

The truth of the gospel and the truth of God’s love for His people is expressed in these simple expressions that we share with young children. These basic truths are incredibly valuable and the foundation of our faith.  This basic language in a child’s vocabulary is crucial to deeper understanding of the gospel.

Paul himself would not have shared the “milk” of the faith in the infancy of the Corinthian church if it were not appropriate to do so.  However, the pattern that I have seen often in the church community (and that includes me) is that we fail to move from “milk” of the gospel to the “meat.”  This lack of depth was glaringly obvious in my own home one evening a few years back.

Our family was in a deep season of chaos, stress and growth. My daughters had both entered the world of navigating their own friendships. That evening one of my girls was struggling with a hurt relationship and feelings of rejection. It was one of those moments in my parenting journey that I’ll likely remember for a long time. How I wished that I could “fix” it and take away her pain! That power was and is not mine. I had to point her to Him.

What do we want our children to absorb?

Here’s the deal… our children are going to grow up soaking up a multitude of ideas.  What do we want them to absorb?  Do we want them to soak up the expectations of a world which tells them that to be valuable they need to be a certain size, wear a certain type of clothing, have the latest phone and avoid the uncool and unpopular in fear of being ostracized by their peers? What do we want our kids to believe about themselves?

Or as Christian parents, do we want them to know the beautiful truths of Scripture?  Furthermore, don’t we want them to grow in their understanding of the foundational truths we began teaching them when they were preschool-age?  We in the Christian community say that we want our kids to know the love of Christ and what it means to be in relationship with Him. As I realized in my own home, we need to be intentional if we want to truly equip them with a solid understanding of that knowledge.

 

As mentioned earlier, this lack of progress from spiritual milk to spiritual meat came clearly into focus a couple of years ago in my own home. One of my girls was navigating the painful feeling of rejection and had taken on that rejection as part of who she believed she was. “Who you are in Christ is what matters,” I told her.  “Remember who you are in Christ,” I would implore with both of my girls.   

Behind closed doors, I desperately prayed for both of my girls to know how loved they are by God.  Earnestly, I pleaded with God to allow my children to know their value because of Jesus.  I begged Him to make their faith their own, to please give them the gift of knowing who they were because of Him.  Suddenly, it hit me. ‘Who am I in Christ? What exactly does that mean? Do I even know who I am in Christ, Lindsay?  How do I expect my children to cling to that truth of their Identity in Christ if I am not exactly sure myself? I need to find the verses of Scripture that tell me more about my Identity in Christ.’ 

Did I Know My Identity in Christ?

I had been in church for almost three decades prior to that night.  In depth Bible Study, line-by-line inductive study, was my jam for years.  I knew a lot of truth and a lot of the Bible.  In fact, I had chunks of Scripture memorized because my girls and I had made Scripture memory work part of our homeschool time. Yet, when it came down to it, I really wasn’t knowledgeable of my true “Identity in Christ.” Where did that phrase come from?  How could I equip my girls to know deeply that their identity is found in Jesus alone?  No longer were the illustrated picture story bibles going to do.

These resources had their place in my girls’ journeys (check out my favorite children’s Bibles here), but now they were ready for some “meat.”  It was time to teach them to use God’s Word as the offensive weapon it has the power to be. They needed to guard their minds against the lies of this world.  It was time to equip them on a practical level, with the Sword of the Spirit. That weapon, Scripture, is ours to use when we accept God’s free gift of salvation. 

I was determined to find out exactly what Scripture says about me and my children and I was going to make sure my girls were confidently aware of who they were in Jesus.   As far as my daughters were concerned, it was time to stop absorbing the lies of the world which told them that their value came from others.  My girls were going to know their Identity in Christ and their mom was going to get some clarity as well.

On A Treasure Hunt

I spent my time researching Scriptures that would help us all understand who we are in Christ.  Using those verses, I created a personalized printable of the Scriptures for each of my children.  I framed and displayed them in their rooms.  These reminders have been a source of strength for each of them as they navigate the world.  Initially, I had them read aloud straight from the image so as to embed the truth deep in their minds.  Repetition is an awesome and simple memory tool.  To this day, when I sneak in their rooms to get one more snuggle before bed, I use it as a tool. I pray the Scriptures out loud over them. 

 

Identity in Christ Scripture Download

Sweet Mom Friend, I am convinced that all of us need to know who we are in Christ and some times we need encouragement and practical tools to help us remember.  I desire this for us all so that we may equip our kids to live in that freedom. I am convinced it is critical to develop an understanding of the specifics of our Identity in Christ (the meat that strengthens us further). 

There are incredible blessings that come from knowing that our identity is based on Who Christ is and not on what the world says about us. However, it is almost impossible to recognize and live in that freedom if we don’t know what Scripture has to say about it. That is why I have created an Identity in Christ Scripture Art Set that I would like to share with you as you pour into your children.  I have made these in the past for some of my students and it only makes sense to share with you, Precious Mom Friend.  We are all in this together!  Sign up below for your free downloads. 

I hope they are a blessing to you and your family.  Repeat them aloud at mealtimes and at bed time.  Share them with one another in the car.  May God’s Word be the loudest voice you and your family hear each day.  Do you have any creative ways and ideas that have helped you and your family deepen your faith?  Please comment below and share.  We are in this together! 

Grab Your Free 4 Steps to Meltdown Recovery Cheat Sheet!

 

Deepen your parent-child relationship.

Equip your child with  tools to navigate BIG emotions in a healthy way.

Empower your unique child to live a life of confidence and purpose.

Create peace & joy in your home and ENJOY your child.

Do You Have Parenting Figured Out?

Do You Have Parenting Figured Out?

"I will always need parenting help..." One thing I have learned in this journey as a momma is that I will never have parenting figured out.  I will always need parenting help and that is ok, Friend.  God, in His mercy, allowed me to let go of the belief that I could...

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Parenting Children Well Takes Discipline

Parenting Children Well Takes Discipline

Parenting Children Well

Parenting children well requires adults to demonstrate the discipline and patience we desperately want to impart to our kids.  When our children are being disrespectful or disobedient, often our first instinct is to snap at them with a quick and stern “No, ma’am! You do not talk to me that way!” And many times that approach to parenting children appears on the outside to work. 

Children acquiesce in the face of fear and the negative behavior stops, at least momentarily.  The problem lies when our pattern of parenting children is based only on reactionary threats of perceived misbehavior.  

Through the trials of navigating years of my youngest child’s out-of-control behavior, I was forced to learn a lot of things that eventually resulted in a complete transformation of the way I parent my children altogether.

Transformation?  How?

Well, these days if I perceive that my child being disrespectful, my tendency is to look behind the behavior before reacting.  For example, I tell my son to go clean his room.   

He then responds with a, “No. I don’t want to clean up my room!”  

Of course my natural instinct is to snap back and say, “Oh, you better clean up your room!”   

However, I’ve learned better.  

The reality is that I am the adult and he is the child.  So in that moment, he’s acting like a child seeking his own self-interest.  He does not want to stop the fun of what he is doing to “work.”   

NORMAL. 

As a 41 year-old woman, I rarely want to stop what I am enjoying to work on something tedious.  And I am an adult. So of course it makes perfect sense that my son would have a more challenging time transitioning to mom’s demand that he clean his room.  

Relationship Before Obedience

Of course the goal is to teach our children to learn how to respect authority and take instruction and direction.  This is termed, “obedience.”  Yes.  We want them to obey Mom, Dad, teachers, police, and other trusted authority figures.  

However, I truly believe that we cannot effectively do that without building relationship with our children first.  Why?  

We want them to obey Mom, Dad, teachers, police, and other trusted authority figures.  

Do we want our children to blindly obey all adults because of an age difference?  Is this a wise goal on our part?  In general and especially when our children are young, we parents make a conscious choice as to which adults we place in a position of authority over our children.  We decide which teachers, coaches, pastors, small group leaders, neighbors, and families that we allow our children to spend time with.  Ultimately, our goal is to place our children in the charge of other adults whom we deem trustworthy to care for our children in our absense. 

If it is important for adults to have a certain level of trust with those whom we take direction from, it is just as important if not more important for children to be able to trust those whom they are to take orders.

Who was your favorite teacher?

I always ask my mom friends and clients this question.  The answer to this question sums it up best.  

My favorite teachers were my high school history teacher and one of my college professors.   When I think back to why they both stand out to me as the best teachers I ever had, it really has very little to do with academics and everything to do with the relationship I had with these two trusted adults.

Both teachers treated me with care.  They sought to know me as more than just a student who needed to regurgitate their correct answers in order to like and care for me.  It is because of these two adults taking the time to know me, my life, my troubles, and my interests that fueled my desire to do well in their classes.  I truly believe that I put forth more effort for these two teachers because I respected them and trusted them.  I longed to serve them well by doing my best in their classes.  

We must focus on our relationships with our children in order to have the greatest influence on their hearts, beliefs and behavior.  – Lindsay Leiviska, MAT

Relationship is Our Greatest Teaching Tool

I am convinced that our first goal is to build relationship so that we can influence our children.  This is especially critical as our children grow older and begin to think more abstractly for themselves.  Our children will grow into adults and spend the majority of their lives as adults.  We only have a couple of decades to lay a foundation that will serve them well (or poorly) throughout their entire lives.   

If we are in a pattern of constant correction and battle of wills with our child, it only makes sense that children will develop the belief that he or she is not good enough.  That belief often pushes our children far away from us physically but also and I would argue most importantly, relationally.  

I want my children to know that I am in their corner.  Like my favorite teachers influenced me through their obvious care and interest in me beyond a letter grade on a test, it is crucial for our children to know that we see their value beyond behavioral expectations.   Yes, we want them to learn how to appropriately behave but in order to do so effectively and for the long-term, we must be able to influence our children in a way that fosters trust and mutual respect.  

It is the quality of the relationships with our children that will allow us the most influence in their lives.

However, remembering the goal of relationship takes discipline on my part.  It takes effort for me to override my desire for immediate obedience.  I need to lean in to my own self-control when I really want to scream at my child for repeated offenses.  That, Friend, is not easy.  However, doing anything of value is never easy, right?

Do I want immediate obedience or do I want to raise a healthy adult?

This question helps me to remember what my goal needs to be with my children.  The answer to this question points me to Christ.  Throughout Scripture we see God’s people repeatedly fail to consistently obey right away.  Because of our inability to perfectly obey and live a holy life, God sent His Son to live the perfect life, take on our sin in death, and raise to new life.  His finished work on the cross allows those who believe in Him to live in the freedom of relationship with Him despite our constant failures.  

Personally, it is important for me to understand the immense grace of Christ in my own life so that I can come alongside my own children and point them to Him.  Immediate obedience is should not be the goal.  Yes, it is an important skill to learn, but as God has shown us, it is learned through relationship.  

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  Romans 5:8

We did not earn relationship with God.  He graciously handed it to us through His Son while we were still sinners.   If we could erradicate sin or disobedience in our children on our own, why would we need to point them to Christ?  Adults know that we will never be perfect and yet God loves us just as much when we see our own failure as He does when we are on cloud 9.  He influences His children through deep relationship.  Our choices, beliefs and behaviors are changed to reflect Him more as we spend time with Him, right?

Let’s do this with our children and see how He uses His relationship with us to grow them nearer to Him.    This reminds me of my near epic failure with my teen daughter.  Read more here.  Yikes!

Current State of  Parent-Child Relationship

If you are in a season of parenting where your child could possibly feel like a constant disappointment, I enourage you to take a deep breath, pray and then focus on rebuilding joy in your relationship with your child.   And know this… there is incredible grace. We have all had harder seasons with our children.   I am not suggesting anything that I have not had to do with my own children and I have failed and blown it with my own children so often. 

“Kids, I am simply a person doing the best that I can.   Forgive me.”  

This apology is my default.  I will fail and disappoint over and over again.  Just like my younger, immature, less-experienced children.  Grace upon grace.

Think about the things your child(ren) excels at, is passionate about or just enjoys doing. 

Use those things to build relationships. 

Take time to go into your son’s room and ask questions about what he is doing.   Endulge him as he tells you all about his Minecraft world or his latest Lego creation.

Let your daughter draw for you or pick out an episode of her favorite show and pop popcorn and laugh together.  

Spend some time connecting and building up trust.  That trust is a building block for relationship.  Relationship is a building block for your ability to influence your child for a lifetime.  

Parenting children through trust

Ask your child questions and show interest in who your child is and not what you think your child is supposed to be.  This requires discipline on our part. 

When our children are interested in things that we deem silly or childish, the last thing we want to do is to spend time focusing our energy and limited time on them.  However, employing this personal discipline to focus on our children and their hearts, is exactly the grace that leads to deeper connection and relationship.

This adult discipline, just like the discipline we want to create in our children, will not be easy and won’t be perfect.  I blew it this morning with my son.  In fact, I blow it all the time.  That’s ok.  I just pick myself up, dust myself off, apologize and we move forward.  That is what God asks of us.  As Paul tells us in the book of Romans, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because the Spirit of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death.

What might God long to do in your child’s life? 

Just thinking about these ideas will ease some of the pressure of unrealistic expectations that we as moms often place upon our children and ourselves.  If you want to dig a bit deeper into how to navigate your child’s more challenging behaviors, grab a copy of the FREE Behind the Behavior Intro Bundle. 

What are your thoughts, Friend?  In what ways do you need to use your own self-discipline in parenting?

Favorite Children’s Bible Story Books

Favorite Children’s Bible Story Books

As a homeschool momma, I am always on the lookout for quality resources to enhance our family learning.  As almost all homeschool moms would likely attest to, we moms have an obsession with all things books.  I am no exception.  Throughout the years, my fellow homeschool moms and dear friends have together shared our latest can’t-put-down books or curriculum with an enthusiasm that is always contagious.  One of my most favorite types of book to collect throughout the years of parenting and educating my children at home has been children’s bible story books.  Today I am so excited to share my most favorite children’s bibles with you.  Yay!

We are so fortunate to live in a day and age that has allowed so many access to the Bible.  Even more of a blessing is the plethora of bible-based story bibles that allow our younger children and our kids who learn best visually, a more edible version of biblical principles, key concepts, and an understanding of Jesus.  As a Christian mom and educator on a mission to equip moms to empower uniquely-designed neurodiverse kids to thrive in education and in life, my passion is to flood our children with an understanding of who God is.  My heart is for my children to know who their identity comes from and for them to be solidly rooted in Him.   

This post contains Amazon affliliate links.  If you purchase any resources that I recommend using my links, I may receive a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you.  I will not ever recommend any product that I do not stand behind fully.  Thank you for your support so I can continue to offer as much free content as possible to mommas like you and me.  🙂

Our First Favorite Children’s Bible Story Book

When my daughter was just a year old we had her dedicated to the Lord as so many families do.  I will never forget when a dear friend of mine, Noelle, gave my little girl one of her very first bibles.  That yellow board book Bible has been with us for almost 13 years and has been through a litany of abuse and sweet moments at bedtime.  Almost a relic at this point, battered and worn down as it has been through 3 of my children, that little children’s bible was the first of our illustrated collection of favorite children’s bibles.  Grateful for that cardboard book as it has set the tone for many years of Bible exploration as a family.

So without further ado… let’s take a look at my family’s most favorite children’s bibles.  I wonder if you have any of these and if so, do they spark joy in your family?  Let me know.

children's bible story books, christian mom, homeschool

Toddler- 6 years old

The Biggest Story ABC Bible by Kevin DeYoung

This bible story book is a beautifully illustrated board book for younger children.  I would recommend this book for toddlers all the way up to 5-6 year olds simply because of the powerful imagery depicted in the illustrations.  The book is what you would expect.  ABCs throughout the bible.  Each page has one large letter of the alphabet along with a one line catechism-type truth from Scripture.  

This sweet book is perfect for those days or nights when your child has little attention span.  The colorful pictures and the simplisity of the text makes for a quick but powerful read.  

The Beginner’s Bible

This one is a classic that we have had for more than 10 years.  The Beginner’s Bible is brightly illustrated with dynamic colors and cartoon-like images of various biblical characters.  This illustrated bible does a great job of covering a vast number of bible stories while telling each one using simple language.   We have multiple copies including a new-testament only version.  The Old and New Testament version is a solid book with over 90 bible stories.  I highly recommend this as a staple in every home.

The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm and Carol Schoonmaker

The Big Picture Story Bible is a sweet depiction of some of the foundational stories from Scripture.  The title says it best… this children’s bible is BIG.  It’s definitely a curl-up-in-mom’s lap story bible as it is the size of a large dictionary.  Besides being a little cumbersome physically, this children’s bible has it’s own spin on presenting Scripture to children.  It is written in “sections” of the larger story of Scripture and is likely meant to be read over time instead of in one sitting.

I recommend this children’s bible for toddlers through kindergarden-aged children. 

 

Lower Elementary & Up

God’s Good News Bible Story Book by Billy Graham

After exploring the Billy Graham Library one winter afternoon, my youngest daughter and I purchased this beautiful Bible story book. 

One of the most impactful preachers of our time, Billy Graham does not disappoint in this children’s rendition of the Bible.  The images are absolutely beautiful and the text is solid with each story beginning with a portion of Scripture text.  The story then continues in a more child-friendly way so that major biblical concepts and the beauty of the Gospel shine through.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible is hands down one of the most beautifully-written children’s story bibles I have ever read.  This version of the bible has been written and adapted by Sarah Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by the artist Jago.  The Jesus Storybook Bible is written from creation to Revelation as the one large story that Scripture is but is so often fragmented so much that many children do not understand the whole.  Every story points to Christ in the most powerful way.  Ms. Lloyd-Jones uses incredibly powerful language and imagery to portray God’s amazing love for His people.

On more than one occassion, I have found myself choking back tears as I read this to and with my children.  The power of Christ’s love for us is overwhelmingly evident and Sarah Lloyd-Jones’ heart for God and His Word is undeniable.  Every Christian family will want this favorite children’s bible on their bookshelf.  Honestly, even a single adult will be blown away by this depiction of Scripture.

The Jesus Calling Bible Storybook by Sarah Young

The Jesus Calling Bible Storybook is written by Sarah Young of the popular Jesus Calling series of devotionals for adults.  She paired up with illustrator Carolina Farias to create a gorgeous story bible that while more advanced in language than the Beginner’s Bible, is appealing to both younger elementary and older children as well.  The illustrations are phenomenal and incredibly engaging.

The main difference I see between this story bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones is the addition of the Devotional element at the end of each smaller story.  The devotions are written from the perspective of Jesus speaking in first person to the reader.  While some people I know have shown some concern about “putting” words into Jesus’ mouth, I have always prefaced these readings with the caveat that, “This is something Jesus might say.”

All in all, I think this is a wonderful addition to any family collection.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden is one of those children’s bibles that I would rank up there with The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones.   Quite frankly, I would describe both children’s story bibles as family story bibles because they are both that good.

Kevin DeYoung does a phenomenal job of pointing to Christ throughout the retelling of pivotal stories from Scripture.  The illustrator, Don Clark, who also illustrated the The Biggest Story ABC bible storybook, has a unique and captivating style of art that will grab the attention of the entire family.  I cannot more highly recommend this favorite children’s bible.  

The Action Bible: God’s Redemptive Story by Sergio Cariello

Comic book-lovers, artists, and basically anyone breathing will LOVE this FAVORITE children’s bible.  Oh my Word!  This is a gem and I recommend this for every Christian home.  Let me tell you why.

Not all children (or adults for that matter) learn in the same way.  Some are auditory learners, kinesthetic learners and many, many are visual learners.  This very detailed and thorough version of Scripture is so powerful as the images are magnetic in their drama and shading.  Sergio Cariello has compiled one of the most thorough retellings of the bible.  Stories rarely shared with our young church congregations are told with text and alluring art work.

I recommend The Action Bible for every Christian home whether their are children in the home or not.  This is just that good!!  Grateful that God has blessed Sergio Cariello with such incredible art skills which have opened up Scripture to so many kids and adults alike!

 

What are your favorite children’s story bible books?  

Well, Friend?  What about you?  Do you have any favorite children’s bible story books in your home?  Do you love any on this list?  Which ones did I miss?  Share in the comments below!

Do You Have Parenting Figured Out?

Do You Have Parenting Figured Out?

“I will always need parenting help…”

One thing I have learned in this journey as a momma is that I will never have parenting figured out.  I will always need parenting help and that is ok, Friend.  God, in His mercy, allowed me to let go of the belief that I could do this thing perfectly on my own.   The journey to accept parenting help as necessary and vital to me and my family began with the adoption of my son.

Our boy rocked our world with his aggression, screaming, inability to focus for more than three seconds and his horrific insomnia.   In that 4 year battle searching for answers, I finally realized that I am not in control.  God is God and my job is to be a vessel used by Him to graciously point my kids to Him.  To have parenting figured out would allow me to depend on myself and my own wisdom.  He allows my limitations in parenting to lead me to Him.  I’m grateful for this provision, no matter how hard I fought it (and still sometimes continue to).  

Today I am honored to have a sweet momma share her story with you.  Ms. Carol Parker, a mom of three, shares her perspective of letting go of parenting.  Welcome to our community, Carol!!

This post contains Amazon affliliate links.  If you purchase any resources that I recommend using my links, I may receive a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you.  I will not ever recommend any product that I do not stand behind fully.  Thank you for your support.

Second Rodeo?

The other day, I saw a funny post by Simon Holland that read, “I didn’t realize I was supposed to know how to do everything by my second rodeo. That’s still a very low number of rodeos.”  I laughed.  As I kept scrolling I couldn’t help but wonder. 

“Do I believe I’m supposed to have my parenting figured out by now?” 

Third time’s a charm?

After my youngest was born, we had a number of extra pediatrician visits because he was struggling with jaundice. For some reason that day, I had a million questions for the doctor. After I was done with my speed round of “ask the doctor EVERYTHING,” I joked.  “If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this was my first baby.”  He laughed then assured me that my questions were welcomed.  He graciously told me that he was happy that he got “nerd out” and explain it all to me. 

The thing is, my other two children also struggled with jaundice.  Not only did I feel silly because this was baby number 3, but also because this was the third time I’d been through this exact medical issue.   My need for parenting help was still there.  

What sparked my embarrassment? 

Unfortunately, the knee jerk reaction I get when I tell people that I have 3 kids often the same. 

“Oh! Well, you know what you are doing!”   

“You’re a pro.”

Those comments leave me feeling like maybe I should be a pro, but really I’m figuring it out (messily) everyday. The reality of my life put up against their innocent comments makes me feel like a fraud.  And who wants to be a fraud when it comes to parenting?!! And this further feeds my need to at least seem like I have it ALL under control. 

But guess what – I’m not a parent who has it all figured out and all under control, and my guess is, neither are you. And that’s not a bad thing. 

Embrace the truth

What if, instead of being embarrassed, we chose to embrace the truth that we’re not supposed to have it all figured out.   Be ok with needing parenting help regardless of the number of children at our table or their ages? 

This whole parenting thing is a journey – a learning process where every kid in your care is different, even when they experience the same things (like jaundice in my case). So, ask all your questions. Ask for and accept help (often). And surround yourself with parents who are not ashamed to admit that they are also finding their way. 

Most importantly, let go of knowing it all and allow others to come alongside you to help you fill in the gaps. That’s what makes this journey great.

Thank you, Carol Parker, for being real and owning it!  We need more mommas like you in our communities.  Grateful.  

“Carol Parker is a mom of 3 beautiful babies. She is headed full force into toddlerhood and can’t wait to see what she learns about herself as she learns to parent her kiddos.”  To connect with Carol, email her directly at Hello@carolparkervs.com 

Lindsay’s Final Word: Releasing Unhealthy Expectations

For more about releasing the unrealistic expectations that we moms often place upon ourselves, check out this post where I share how I came to terms with some unhealthy expectations that were sucking the life out of me as a mom.

As my dear friend, Beth Matheson of Roots Down Deep and Wycliffe’s Women of the Word, so beautifully reminds us of how desperately we need parenting help.  “We don’t have what it takes.  Motherhood feels like too much because it is too much.  And that is okay… God’s calling is always an opportunity to learn to float, to be held up and carried along by Him.”

Let’s learn to float, Friends.  Let’s seek help as we parent.

Recommended Reads for Moms

Below I have listed two of my favorite books that have been used by God in my parenting and faith journey.   I am so grateful to embrace the fact that I am not expected to every master this mom thing on my own and that I will always need parenting help.  Support in community and most importantly, from God Himself.   

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freemen

By far this is my number recommendation to moms and any woman who finds herself smothered by the to-dos and expectations of this life.  I can not more highly recommend this book to offer you encouragement, Biblical truth and wisdom as to how crucial it is to accept the gift of grace and live in it.  Life changing book!!

Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake 

I read this book in one of my darkest seasons with my son.  In my sleep-deprived, exhausted state, I experienced some rough moments of anger and rage at my son’s horrific behavior.  This was one of the first times that I read a book where Christian mommas were being real about their own struggle with anger and how to navigate this natural (but often life-sucking) emotion.  Grace upon grace.

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