Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Outfit Makes ALL the Difference

She came into the clothes closet wearing sweats and had her hair wrapped with a scarf. It was her first time coming to the clothes closet. She filled out the form and waited for me to tell her about our procedures. I noticed that she had not listed any children so I asked, “Do you have children that we could help?” She quietly said that she did have 4 children, but she wanted to just shop for herself.

I could not tell if it was because she was embarrassed to be there and wanted to leave quickly or if she was only wanting “used” things for herself… She’d find something new for her kids later.

I decided not to push but invited her to begin looking for items for herself. She quickly found a purple and pink woven skirt that was VERY pretty, and it was her size! “Can I have this?” she asked. “Well, of course!” I said. “Do you like it?” She smiled and nodded yes. She continued to look and the thought came to me about this purple shirt that we’d gotten in earlier. I went to get it.

“Hey! I found this top! Isn’t it pretty? And it matches!! I think it would look really nice on you!” I said. Her eyes lit up. “I can have that, too?” I handed it to her and walked away with my heart, and face, smiling from ear to ear!

She continued to shop for a while. She was starting to open up a little and asked a few questions about different things and whether they’d fit or not. I pointed out that we had a dressing room and she was welcome to use it. She gathered a few more things and headed off to try them on with a little more spring in her step.

While she was in the fitting room I remembered (OK, our awesome God reminded me of) a purple necklace that had been donated a while back. We’ve not put a lot of jewelry out because we’ve not had a good spot for it. Somehow I remembered that necklace even though I’d not seen it in quite a while.  I went back to find the purple necklace and took it to her. She squealed!

She made her way to the front of the store to have her things bagged. I asked her if she went to church, and she said that they’d visited some churches but she never had much to wear. “I am going to church NOW!!” she said. “This outfit is so pretty and I am going to wear it to church!” I asked about her children again and she said, “Can I look for just a few things for them?” Oh, of course she could!

Sometimes, when people are going through a rough time, they don’t NEED someone to judge them or pressure them into doing what we, as Christians, believe to be right. I wanted to ask all sorts of questions and explain that those 4 kids needed to be in church!!

Our gracious Lord is never pushy. He closed my mouth and led me to the right things that He knew she’d need to feel beautiful. He helped me to not demand that we help her kids, but as she saw that she was loved and that the concern of the ministry was genuine she opened up and gave me the names of all 4 kids so that we could help them the next time she visited.

Sometimes we just have to be willing to be there… with our mouths closed.. and our arms open and willing to serve… and He will do amazing things beyond all that we could ask or imagine.

Monday, January 14, 2013

NO! Ok, Yes. And Other Randomness

Am I the only mom that struggles with this? Lately I am catching myself saying “NO!” to things that my girl wants to do with absolutely no good reason! Somewhere along the way I get in the mindset that I want to be in complete control and she just needs to come along for the ride, “Because I said SO!”  It’s not like it is over things that are dangerous or crazy either. I seriously think I have issues…

Ok, here’s a great example… we went with a friend and her two kids to a local indoor poor recently. After we swam we decided to grab a quick lunch before we parted ways. My girl wanted to ride in the van with them to the restaurant. My immediate reaction was, “NO! They may not have room!" Just ride with me!” The other mom said, “I really don’t mind. We are just going a short distance and my kids would love it!”

Yeah. Wow. See what a winner I’ve been? And that’s not the only example, but I am choosing not to share what a tyrant I’ve been lately!  What is the big deal? I somehow gotta reign that thing in. Poor kid. She’s going to want to move out before she’s 12.

Well, in other news that doesn’t show what a great mom I am (UGH!)….

I am really excited about this new journal (known as a “Journible” for some strange reason).


Our church is going through the Gospel of John this year and this Journal has a place to copy the entire book of John so that you have it in your own handwriting to pass to the next generation! I love that it has a place for sermon notes or a place where you can write your own thoughts about what you are learning as you write. It’s very cool and a different way to get the scripture into my heart and mind!

Also, this past week in the clothing ministry we saw 17 families in one day! Between the two days that we were open I think we saw around 25 families looking for food and clothing. We ran out of food in the food pantry, as a matter of fact. It is really such an wonderful opportunity to see so many that we can minister to, but at the same time it is so sad to see so many in need.

One 17 year old came in with his mom and they took some white dress shirts so he could usher at church. She was a single mom on disability and walked with a limp. She had to sit down several times during their brief stay. The boy told me that he wants to go to school to be a chef and help continue taking care of her. They were so precious, and so grateful, but it was just the two of them and she was doing the best she could to take care of him on a fixed income… and he was doing the same.

There are numerous stories.

To be completely honest you sometimes question the sincerity of some that come in. We do have them fill out a form and we try to have a level of accountability, but we sometimes wonder if EVERYONE who comes in really NEEDS help. Then God whispers to me… “I did not tell you WHO to help. I just told you to  help. You let ME worry about that.” And so we sort more clothes and we hang more on racks and we are prepared to help whomever walks through the door as much as possible.

Well, have a great week! Until next time…

Monday, January 7, 2013

Calling in the Support Team!

In my last post I talked a lot about my girl. Since then I have been able to talk with some special educators that deal with kids with special needs in many different settings. Apparently there are MANY services out there that help kids and families of kids with varying degrees of disabilities and I am SOO excited! fall 2012 025

Our local university has a program where they match up kids with students who are studying to be special educators and psychologists. They have  fee to register, but otherwise it’s free. The college kids spend up to 8 hours a week with the children helping with different life skills. They have to be in the same building as the parents, but are able to take the children and work on skills like money, dealing with a cashier, shopping, self help skills and other goals that might need work. So, for example,  if I wanted to go to the mall the student could come with us and take my sweet girl to work on shopping for and purchasing an item. OR we could stay home and the student could help with hygiene ideas. You never know what they are learning now that might help in these areas, and as with ANY kid, sometimes hearing from someone other than your (know-it-all) mother how to do things might just make it click!

This service is through the Autism Society but they are willing to take kids that have other diagnoses.

There is also a summer camp that our local YMCA puts on each year that is for kids with disabilities. They have a buddy that stays with them each day and they do all kinds of fun activities from swimming, to archery, to games and crafts. They also have music therapy, occupational therapy and art therapy. If the kids are pretty high functioning they stay with them until they can “graduate” to the regular day camp where they are with typical kids all day. Our girl is kind of in between so it will take a while to figure out where she best fits. I just love that there are places that are willing to work with her and be patient until she finds her niche.

I have also been very concerned about middle school. We have a year before we make the big jump, but I can’t wait until then to get things figured out. I was very encouraged to hear that they have many programs in place to match up typical kids with those with needs and they are their buddies for classes like P.E. and other outside course work. The kids are much more exposed to kids with needs now and so it’s not like when I was in school or even when I taught!! They have lots of things in place now so I am REALLY praying that the Lord opens the door to the place that He has for her and the place that will be the perfect fit.

Eventually we are going to look into getting some sort of support with job training. Even though she is only 11 it is never to early to learn about things that could benefit her as she grows and becomes more independent. There can sometimes be waiting lists so it’s important that we not wait until we really NEED it before we start the process.

I don’t know if you are dealing with a child that you just really hope to see thrive, but is also dealing with special needs. I just wanted to encourage you that there are things out there and that God DOES have such a plan for these little lives. We can not give up hope that the differences that they have can and will be used for HIS glory!! We are just going to have to work a little harder and try all that we can to help them get there!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Little Girl


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I guess it’s been a while since I’ve talked about my funny, smart and beautiful girl. I am a little biased you could say. She is eleven years old now and growing so much!

As with any child my concerns are friendships and how we will handle middle school (ACK!) and handling signs of puberty (double ACK!). So far she is doing well and I am so proud of her! With the special needs aspect some of my concerns are heightened and that keeps me ON MY FACE as I am reminded that God has a plan for her. Basic things like personal hygiene and knowing what to do next in her daily schedule if it’s not already laid out for her are things that we still struggle with. She asks lots of questions and her processing is very slow so sometimes it is frustrating when she doesn’t move very quickly or understand things.

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Academics are still, and probably always will be, a huge struggle. Math seems like a foreign language to her. She is reading REALLY well, though, and she LOVES school. Many people have asked why I don’t homeschool her, but she has grown so much with her peers since being with them everyday. There’s still a level of immaturity that we have to deal with, but she’s very confident about who she is and she’s not afraid to voice her ideas and opinions. Other kids sometimes shy away from her because she IS so outspoken and not afraid to walk up to someone and just start talking. Lots of kids don’t know what to do with that… ok, some adults don’t either!!

Some things are funny about her… she likes the Avengers action figures (never Barbies!) and balls. She wants to kick, throw, bounce and have a ball around her all the time. She picked the football outfit for a new bear at Build-a-Bear instead of a pretty girly outfit and she really doesn’t care one thing about fixing her hair or being girly! Most of her friends at school are boys and she says they are not as hard as girls… I TOTALLY get that! She hates the drama.

One thing that is wonderful, and yet strange considering how she struggles in school, is that she can really remember things about the Bible and the Lord. She loves to read her Bible and she loves church so much! She remembers scripture and loves to sing praise songs and she knows that she hasn’t been baptized or had the Lord’s supper yet because she needs to make some more serious steps on her own towards Christ. She is NOT afraid to ask ANYONE… I mean people at the store, on the street, at her school, at the dump, at the mall… if they go to church and if they have a Bible. If the do not she will invite them to our church and she will tell them that we have free Bibles there! She prays for EVERY homeless person she sees. Every fire truck that goes by gets a prayer and any elderly person who seems to struggle she’s willing to help them in some way. Like I said… God has a plan!

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I love that our families are both very involved in her life and that she loves both sets of grandparents soooo very much! They support us so much with her and they do things to help promote her growth and development. I do not know if she will live with me for the rest of her life or not, but having the support of our families and knowing that they are behind us helps so much! It helps us to feel that we are not in this alone.

Honestly, as she gets older and as she grows I can see how God is going to use her strengths and weaknesses to make her into someone amazing. She is SOOO funny and sweet and He is already making her into someone unashamed for Him. She may grow beyond our imaginations and be able to drive and work and live on her own… and she may not. God is teaching ME that I have to be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that her life is the best that it can be no matter where we land.

Sweet girl… I love you so much! I am amazed at how you love others and how you want to pray for everyone that you see with needs. You are so funny and you already help me so much with things that some never thought you would. You can ride your bike like a CHAMP now and you are so sweet to everyone around you! I am so proud of the young woman that you are becoming and I am praying for you DAILY! God has a plan for you and I am seeking Him to show us how to take the next steps as we walk this road together. Your daddy and I love how you are trying more things and how you are working hard to grow in areas of weakness. You are so smart and I know that you will go far… further than ANY doctor thought you might!  I am proud of you and I love you to the moon and back!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It’s Too Much!

Well, we’ve had just the craziest holiday season and honestly it is just too much to blog about! I’ve waited too long between posts to even attempt to catch you up on our craziness since the last time I posted.

We did get to go to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving and decided that we NEEDED to take some updated pictures of us all since we were together! Mom and dad decided to use these for their Christmas cards and they turned out pretty good!


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My daddy kills me with his overalls because mama is so fashion-y (according to my daughter) and daddy just wants his overalls and his banjo!

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Nope! I am NOT even kidding!!

He is one talented man and I have to say that I am proud of him for teaching himself a new instrument in his 70’s! He is living proof that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

So anyhow! We’ve had a good holiday season with one another! We had some flu bugs slow us down a bit, but over all it was very nice and we survived.

In other news I am really excited about what the Lord is doing through the clothing ministry. We are seeing more and more people come through our doors and we’ve been honored to meet with them, pray with them, and meet some basic needs. We’ve had some changes to our building and are working on more improvements so we are thrilled to serve those who come  with as much dignity and grace as possible.

Not too long ago we had 2 young guys come in. They were looking through the men’s items and they commented that the clothes were really nice. One of them said, “How come you guys have such nice things?” I told him that we strive for excellence and that we want everyone to understand that the standards that we are trying to uphold are the very ones that God see him through! I explained that God does not see him as junk and that he does not have to settle for anything less because of Christ’s love for him. That opened up the door for me to invite him to church so that he could learn more about God and His excellent and matchless love.

I don’t think I really realized the impact that something like this could have on lives that are not already impacted by God’s grace. Free clothing given in a manner that is respectful and loving opens many doors to help others see that God has a plan for their lives. We want to be a stepping stone for them to walk into a relationship with Jesus Christ and prayerfully see them changed by His grace.

It is also a chance to teach. We’ve had young girls from the youth group come and help sort hangers. My own daughter has been there when shoppers were there and she asked each one if they went to church or if they needed a Bible. She gave more Bibles than I did that day. The opportunity to hand down ministry ideas and to help the next generation to see that ministry is HARD, but also very rewarding, is right at our fingertips. We are learning that we can not waste the opportunity to use this as a teaching tool so that our kids might catch the vision and think past themselves.

I always say this, but I do hope to blog more soon! There are always stories to share and I am so convinced that even if no one reads this, it is worth it to have a journal of this craziness we call life!