Monday, January 30, 2017

Finding Freedom from Heartache Through God’s Grace by Guest Author Kathleen Pooler

My guest today is author Kathleen Pooler who wrote a fascinating memoir on healing from emotional abuse from two abusive marriages.


Our world needs our witness—mine and yours.”  Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Author of Faith That Transforms Us: Reflections on the Creed”
As a” cradle Catholic”, I was born into and brought up with all the traditions and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic faith.  I have, by conscious choice and deepening desire, remained true to these beliefs and teachings, except for a period in my twenties when I questioned and even rejected them.
As is often the case, my faith did not deepen until I had to face several life-altering as well as life-threatening events.  It was then that my religion became my faith and my spirituality, the source of comfort and meaning in my life.
Therein lies my story.
Seeds of Faith…
My great-grandma Rose planted the seeds of faith in me.  Widowed at the age of thirty-three with seven children to support, she lived in poverty.  Somehow, she made do with her strong belief that God would provide.  She was always praying and asking me, “Katarina (my name in Italian) you wanna’ be a nun or you wanna’ get-a married.”  It made me nervous as I figured she had some pull but my mom reassured me that if God wanted me to be a nun, I would feel the call. I was relieved to I know I could serve God in other ways.
But the vision of that tiny woman with her unwavering faith came to me in whispers and glimpses throughout my entire life as I faced my own challenges and heartaches.  She is still with me when I say my daily prayers.
Faith is a gift given to me and nurtured in my childhood by Grandma Rose.
God has been there for me all along…
I felt called by God to go into nursing when I was thirteen years old. I was sitting in my eighth grade classroom study hall, reading a book, Anne Snow, Mountain Nurse.  My heart started pounding, and I had a feeling of excitement as I read about Anne Snow riding on horseback in the hills of Virginia to care for poor families as a Community Health Nurse.  From that moment, I knew what I wanted to do. Of course, I didn’t realize it was a calling until many years later. At the time, I just knew it felt right.
My faith in God has guided me throughout my entire career as a nurse and nurse practitioner.  Every morning on my way to work, I prayed that I would remain open to being God’s servant in caring for the ill or in carrying out whatever role I happened to be in at the time- clinician, educator, administrator.  I often prayed with or over patients with their permission. I said many silent prayers for those who were not comfortable.  I also prayed for the strength to deal with whatever I had to face- a dying patient, a difficult family/coworker/physician, a grieving family.
Jesus is the Divine healer and if Jesus is in me then I am a vehicle for carrying out His work.
Let Go and Let God…
On December 19, 1996, worsening shortness of breath and a dry cough had precipitated an early morning trip to the emergency room.  As I was pacing near my stretcher waiting for the results of a CT scan of my chest, realizing something serious was happening, I cried out in desperation, “Dear God, please give me the strength to do whatever it is I need to do for this is the battle of my life and for my life”.  A peace beyond understanding flowed over me and stayed with me throughout my eventual diagnosis of Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and my two-year treatment course which included chemotherapy, radiation and a peripheral stem cell transplant.  I allowed myself to be open to accepting help from others-meals, gifts, prayers. God had answered my plea to “do whatever I need to do” to fight the battle.
Allowing myself to be vulnerable enabled me to accept God’s love, grace and healing. 
I believe He sent me many angels in the form of family, friends and caregivers on my healing journey.
Simultaneous to the cancer journey was my young adult son’s spiral downward into alcoholism.  The cancer was easier to deal with than watching my son’s descent.  At least I had options for treatment for the cancer and felt some sense of control.  I had no control over my son’s choices and behavior. So I prayed and learned to lean on God.  I learned to hand my son over to God and to let go of my need to control.  
And I never, ever gave up hope that God would heal me and my son.
Grandma Rose echoed in my ear, “God will provide” and He did. That is the miracle of faith in my life
The Gift of Faith…
Having walked through these challenges has deepened my faith. Having been through a life- threatening illness and the terrors of loving and letting go of an alcoholic son has forced me to dig deeper to find the treasures of my faith within.  But now that I am on the other side of these challenges, I see God every day in the people I love, nature, all the little things in life that matter.  All my challenges have given me the gift of perspective about what really counts in life.  
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.
God wasn’t lounging by a bubbling brook. He was right by side on the battlefield.

ABOUT AUTHOR Kathleen Pooler

Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28, 2014 and work-in-progress sequel, The Edge of Hope (working title) are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments:  domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

Kathleen blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com

Twitter @kathypooler





Facebook:

Personal page,


Author page:

Kathleen Pooler/Memoir Writer’s Journey: https://www.facebook.com/memoirwritersjourney


One of Kathleen Pooler’s stories “The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.      

Another story: “Choices and Chances” is published in the  My Gutsy Story Anthology” by Sonia Marsh, September, 2013.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

PREPARING FOR THE DEATH OF MY CHILD--by Guest Margie Mijares


Alex, Margie Mijares's little boy
My guest today is Margie Mijares. She is not a writer, but a woman who shares her story with courage. I am honored by her sharing it here.


PREPARING FOR HIS DEATH by Margie Mijares

Cesar Alexandre was born on March 5, 1980 and to all appearances, he was a normal, healthy baby.  He was the son I had seen in my dreams with his head full of dark hair, olive skin, and eyes so blue they looked black.  He was exactly as I had seen him except for one thing. 

Alex was born with Friedreich’s Ataxia.  FA is a degenerative spinal cord disease which is caused when both parents carry the same recessive gene trait.  It occurs in 1 in 50,000 people in the population of the world and can lie dormant in families for generations…until it passes from memory…which is what happened in our case.
Alex was 13 when he was diagnosed at Duke Medical Center.  On the day of his diagnosis, I read Psalm 139 to Alex and it became his life scripture, the one he strove to pattern his life after, and his faith was unshakeable.  He accepted that he was “fearfully and wonderfully made”, that God knew he would be born with FA and that He could have changed it, but chose not to.  Alex said he didn’t understand why FA was in God’s plan for his life but he was going to accept it and do the best he could for as long as he could.  And that is just what he did.
Alex with his brother Erik, and dad Cesar
In September 2005, Alex was hospitalized for the last time.  The doctor told us his prognosis was awful, take him home and make him as comfortable as possible because he didn’t have much time left.  We were stunned because we had never been told his heart condition had gotten so bad…but Alex was optimistic because he said “God still has something left for me to do.  It’s not time yet.”
How do parents prepare for the impending death of their child?  No one had ever told me the answer to that question, nothing in my life experience had prepared me for it, the pastor didn’t know, and there were no easy answers.  Hospice came in, I took out my worn Bible, and I prayed.  I moved into the room with Alex and stayed with him almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  His siblings and Dad took turns sitting with him when I had things that needed to be done.
Alex with his mom, Margie Mijares
Things were up and down for the next four months.  Some days he was up and others he was down but always he had that big, beautiful smile on his face. 

On December 13th I had called in our good friend and pastor, Vernon because Alex said he knew he was saved but he wanted to know that he knew he was saved.  They spent a long time talking that day and part of that conversation would become Alex’s eulogy less than a month later.
On the morning of January 10th, Alex wanted a bath because he was tired of sponge baths and all his life he wanted to be clean.  I asked him to wait until his Dad got there to put him in the tub. 
Cesar got home, put him in the shower, and I bathed him and shampooed his hair.  I told him I would shave him later because I could see that even that little effort had tired him.  Cesar got him out of the shower, laid him on his bed, and we were drying him off.
I was drying his feet and legs and Cesar was doing his back and chest.  I saw Alex trying to lift up his head and thought he wanted to tell me something so I looked into his face, he had difficulty speaking and it was hard to understand him.  His lips were moving but no words came out, I saw the light leave his eyes, and I knew that my sweet boy was gone.  It was 1:10 PM on January 10, 2006.  He was less than two months from his 26th birthday.
My son was gone and I couldn’t even cry, everything inside me had shut down.  All the long years I had cared for my son, I always laughed, to the extent that Alex questioned why I laughed about everything.  I told him I laughed because if I ever started crying, I didn’t know if I could stop.  I wasn’t laughing now, but neither could I cry. 
My heart was gripped with such a depth of sorrow as I had never experienced before, not when I lost my grandparents or even my father.  I prayed for nearly 13 years for a miracle of healing for my son and my prayer had finally been answered, but not in the way I expected. 
We planned his funeral, went through the visitation at the funeral home, and then the funeral.  It rained so hard that day it was if the very heavens were shedding the tears that were locked away deep inside me.  I wrapped my grief around me like a heavy woolen overcoat and did the only thing I knew to do. 
I got out my Bible and I read the scriptures. I searched them for comfort , peace, understanding.  I begged God not to let me grieve as one who has no hope. When I asked God why this happened to my son, His answer to me was always the same, “Look at My Son.  Look at Jesus.”  And I did.  I read every passage about Jesus in the Bible and as the days, weeks, and months stretched out into a year, and then another, and another, God met me in such an incredible way. 
He walked with me every step through that long valley of grief, He was my comfort, my sustainer, the One who lifted my head, and restored the peace and joy to my spirit.  I could not have survived that journey into grief without Him.  I don’t know how anyone can.  January 10, 2017, marks 11 years since my Alex stepped into eternity.  I still miss his brilliant smile, his sense of humor, and his hands, those hands I held onto for almost 26 years.  I am comforted by the knowledge that one day I will see him again because Alex does not live in my past, he waits in my future.
Alex Majares, a sweet young man his family will see again one day.

My guest Margie Mijares says, "There's not an awful lot I can say about myself.  I am the second of seven children, the mother of nine, grandmother to fifteen, and well into my sixth decade.  I am just a simple woman whose highest aspiration in life was to grow up to be someone’s mother. 

I often prayed for that even as a young girl.  God saw fit to bless me with three sons by birth, a daughter of the heart by my marriage to my husband, and five adopted sons and daughters.  He also gave me the privilege of being a foster parent to more than twenty children and a mentor to scores of others who came into my life through my children. 

To say that I have had a blessed life is an understatement!!  I have been married to my husband Cesar for almost 39 years.  I am retired from my job as an accounting clerk and a full-time, stay-at-home Nani.  My hobbies include reading, sewing, reading, my mule, Lucy, reading, spending time with my grands…and did I mention reading?  I love nothing more than spending time with my family and my extended family, so I guess a “homebody” best describes me. 

I was pleased to share the story of our son, Alex, when Christine asked for volunteers to write for her blog...but what I shared was only the tip of the iceberg to the powerful testimony our son left behind him.  I hope that someone who is hurting over the loss of a child or a loved one will find some comfort in these words and the peace I found in Jesus. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER and Me -- by Guest Author Dr. Sandra Glahn

My guest today is multi-published author of fiction and non-fiction, Dr. Sandra Glahn. It's a real honor to have her as a guest.

ASD and Me by Dr. Sandra Glahn.

When my daughter was 17, she was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). She was relieved. Her symptoms finally had a name. And she wanted us to tell people so they could understand why she acted as she did.


Most kids figure out at an early age that a relationship exists between cause and effect. Ours did not. Most kids eventually catch on that they want to avoid time out. Ours simply added to her crimes by running out of the corner. And because of her difficulty connecting cause and effect, all the textbook ways of disciplining based on logic—forget it. Not for this girl.
When she was little, she hated tapioca—the mushy texture repelled her. She liked her food crunchy. So she scarfed up carrots and cucumbers and had to be coaxed to consume calories while other kids’ parents were trying to get their littles to back off the ice cream. At a party once, all the mothers in the room stopped and stared because they heard me say, “You may not have one more carrot until you finish your cake.” They were expecting me to add, “Said no mother ever.”   

When my mom visited once, my daughter made her move out of the recliner in front of the TV because “that’s my space.” Someone later explained to me that asking a kid with ASD to share that chair was like someone asking me to share my bra or my toothbrush.  

Once when she finished watching, really enduring, a movie with us (she hated watching TV when she was little), we asked what she thought of the story. She said, “It had a lot of green in it.” It was as if she had experienced the narrative not as a sequence of events, but as individual frames. No wonder movies bored her.

All these unique ways of seeing the world and relating that had caused so much family conflict finally made sense when they had a name. At the time of her diagnosis, they called it Asperger syndrome or Asperger’s, but the appropriate title these days is ASD—Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD is the umbrella term for a group of developmental disorders that include a wide “spectrum,” of symptoms. My daughter is a genius on the violin, knows the names and birthdates of movie stars and their kids, and excels at hacking into computers. But she, like most people with ASD, has profound social challenges, including a seeming lack of empathy.

When the geneticist who diagnosed her met with us, he said, “You have been wonderful parents,” at first I was stunned. Then I wept openly. I hadn’t realized how much doubt was telling me, “Surely that many experts can’t be wrong” while over and over I’d felt I had no choice but to go against conventional wisdom. But sometimes a parent just knows.

One of the things I’ve learned through our family’s experience is that “one size fits all” is lousy parenting advice. And it’s easy to judge others’ parenting if you lack some important facts. In most homes, telling Grandma she’s in your chair is grounds for serious consequences. As well it should be. But my kid can’t seem to learn better. So it’s going to look to other people as though we’ve raised her to be a narcissist. But sometimes being a good parent means you have to accept that you’re going to be misunderstood.   

ABOUT SANDRA GLAHN

Dr. Sandra Glahn is not only a multi-published author of Fiction and Non-fiction, she is also the owner of Aspire Productions. A professor in the Media Arts & Worship and Pastoral Ministries departments at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), she is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books. She also blogs every other Tuesday at bible.org.

CONNECT WITH SANDRA GLAHN

Blog/web: aspire2.com
Twitter: @sandraglahn
Coffee Cup Bible Study series info: http://aspire2.com/books/coffee-cup-bible-series/
Below is a small sampling of some of her book covers.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me -- By Contributing Author Sheila Callanan

Sheila Callanan, contributing author to
Finding Sarah Finding Me, and her first
child from the story The Adoption of Susan.
The memoir Finding Sarah Finding Me braids a number of true-life stories from various adoptions and adoption reunions. Below is Part 1 of The Adoption of Susan Story in this book.


A South African Adoption--“My Dream of a Dark-haired Girl”  by adoptive mother Sheila Callanan

What a blessing to be brought up in a secure, though strict, home. I’d had a happy childhood with a loving earthly father who made it normal to see God as a loving heavenly Father. A father who taught me perseverance even when things got tough—he taught me through example. Sitting in church at the age of eight, being made to sing all the hymns and then listen to him preach after he had travelled miles in bad weather, only to find out when he got there that the only people in church were his family and the organist.

In my late teens I was also blessed to meet the man who would become my husband. We both wanted to start a family quite soon after marriage, and the thought of not being able to get pregnant never crossed our minds. Month after month nothing happened. This took me by surprise, and I went into panic mode. “God, what is happening here?”
Then the month came. I was late, ecstatic with the confirmation that I was pregnant, and I rushed to share the news.

In hindsight I wonder if this was a good thing. Although if the news is shared early and something happens, then those close to you can share the disappointment. Tears rolled down my cheeks as one day I sat in the bathroom with the evidence that there was not going to be a baby.
A woman’s body has been preparing itself for a baby. Then it is gone and her body has to return to normal. The loss is real, and there has to be a time of grieving. Many don’t understand this. Even my husband couldn’t understand my tearfulness. He understands now.

How often I pleaded with the Lord to give us a child. I searched scripture hoping to find some verse that would confirm that one day I would have a child. The months went by—nothing.
Why were my friends and members of my family having babies? I didn’t enjoy baby showers but attended them with a brave face although I ached inside. At church people tactlessly asked when we were going to start a family. My precious sister-in-law erupted into tears when she discovered she was pregnant for the third time—how was she ever going to tell me?

Three years had passed when God answered our prayers in a different way than what we thought. He impressed upon us that he was waiting to give us a child but that there were different ways that children could enter a home. Excitement began to sizzle.
We phoned the adoption agency for an appointment.
Six weeks before our appointment I had the most amazing dream, a dream where upon waking I knew that God was telling me something.
In the dream I had a little dark-haired girl. I called her Linda Joy. My husband told me he wanted to call her Linda Heather. The two names, we found out later, meant Beautiful Flower.

A week before our appointment I came down with a really nasty stomach bug. I could hardly lift my head off the pillow and couldn’t keep down any food. I didn’t want to cancel our appointment with the agency on the Friday morning, so the night before I went to the doctor to see if he could give me some medication.
Medication? I didn’t need medication—the doctor’s tests confirmed that I was at least seven weeks pregnant.
I felt so sick, the doctor’s words didn’t really sink in. Too late to cancel our appointment, we made our way to the adoption agency to tell them our news. From the moment of finding out about the pregnancy, I knew that we were going to have a dark-haired girl. We knew what we would name her. God had told us in my dream. Our beautiful flower.
Now I was confused though.
What was God trying to teach me when I had just come to the point of accepting that he had different ways of placing children in families? Maybe I still don’t really know, but one thing I do know: God wanted this little dark-haired baby to be part of our family. On December 2, 1972 Linda Heather was born after a normal pregnancy with not even a hint of a miscarriage. I so enjoyed being pregnant— after the morning sickness had stopped, that is.

As for adopting a baby, I was convinced that the Lord had taken us on a journey of acceptance. I had my little girl, and God obviously in his wisdom did not want us to adopt, so what was the point of waiting? We would go straight ahead and have another baby.

We waited. Three years later we were still waiting.
Then I understood why God had let us walk that road before. We would once again apply to adopt a baby. The only difference this time was that we felt we should go to a Christian agency. Back then in South Africa, the main adoption agency was predominately Afrikaans. But as an English family, we would not be allowed to adopt a baby from an Afrikaans mother. It’s not like that now, and adoptions take place across race and language, but because of this back then we knew we would have to wait longer for a baby.
Edwin and Sheila Callanan and
Linda waiting for their adopted baby.
We phoned the adoption agency for an appointment.

~*~

The rest of the exciting "Adoption of Susan Story" and their adoption reunion can be found in the braided memoir Finding Sarah Finding Me.

Sometimes it is only through giving up our hearts that we learn to trust the Lord.

Adoption. It’s something that touches one in three people today, a word that will conjure different emotions in those people touched by it. A word that might represent the greatest hope…the greatest question…the greatest sacrifice. 

But most of all, it’s a word that represents God’s immense love for his people.

Join birth mother Christine Lindsay as she shares the heartaches, hopes, and epiphanies of her journey to reunion with the daughter she gave up...and to understanding her true identity in Christ along the way. Through her story and glimpses into the lives of other families in the adoption triad, readers will see the beauty of our broken families, broken hearts, and broken dreams when we entrust them to our loving God.
PURCHASE LINKS


Monday, January 16, 2017

AN ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN -- by Guest Author LeeAnn Mancini

My guest today, LeeAnn Mancini, is a fascinating woman who has done a great deal in advocating for helpless children. I hope you enjoy her story.

An Advocate for Children -- LeeAnn Mancini


I have been a life-long believer in Christ, and I have also been a life-long advocate for children. Let me take you through my life’s journey of serving children who are in need. In my twenties, before I was married and before my children were born, I was a Guardian AdLitem for Palm Beach County, Florida. It was a joy to know the work I was doing was saving the lives of children!

After my children were born but still very young, I remember seeing the traumatic news footage of Baby JessicaDeBoer. She was the same age as my son when she was ripped from her adoptive parents’ arms and whisked away in a car. Hearing the horrific cries of both Jessica and the only mother she had ever known still haunts me to this day.

I immediately called to see what I could do, and I ended up starting the DeBoer Committee for Children’s Rights, Florida Chapter. In just a few months, the Chapter grew to 1,500 members. Through our newsletter, we were able to rally around Baby Emily Welsh, a local two-year-old whom the court had awarded to her birth father, a convicted rapist and felon who spent three years in prison.

Our group held a candlelight vigil and contacted Senators and Representatives in addition to many others in order to help save this little girl. It was all in honor of Baby Jessica, who lost her battle in Michigan, that we fought so hard.

In the end, the 5th District Court of Appeals overturned the decision regarding Emily, and on January 10, 1996, the headlines of our local newspaper, The Sun-Sentinel, announced the wonderful news that the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the 5th District Court of Appeals’ ruling that Emily would remain with her adoptive parents. The father had terminated his parental rights when he financially and emotionally abandoned Emily’s mother. What a joyous day! The gratification of saving this child was beyond words or description.

Today my children are 25 and 23 years old. They are such a blessing, and they both have a giving spirit and a loving heart! But with them now grown, I was able to go back to school in my 50’s. I received a BA in Religious Studies from Regent University, a Masters in Biblical Studies from Knox Theological Seminary, and a Masters from Evangelical Trinity School (Trinity International University). I am now 58! I am an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

However, my full-time job is publishing and writing Christian children’s books, and I love it! I wrote the stories for my books when my children were just three and five—yes, twenty years ago! All this time, I felt the Holy Spirit tapping me on the shoulder, telling me to get the books published and into the hands of children.

My books are unique because they teach little ones, ages eight and under, to pray to Jesus during difficult times and to show love and compassion to others. Every story centers around a difficult situation, where the main character prays to Jesus. In addition, every story promotes an anti-bullying message and teaches children to love and serve one other. The books even have a fun symbol for the children to find on every page. We have been awarded twenty-two awards so far!
Author LeeAnn Mancini and Pat Boone
Nowadays, my mission is to use my books to reach little ones and help them develop a strong foundation in Jesus at an early age. In addition to donating some of my books directly to various originations that help children locally, across the country, and throughout the world, I also use the sales of my books to help raise money for Christian children’s charities! It’s never too late to pursue a dream as long as it is in God’s perfect will and plan.

I tell you all of this because in every season of your life you can be the voice, the advocate, the teacher, and the example of love for innocent children! Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I personally don’t think there is a better feeling than knowing you have helped a child in need!
You can help support my mission while at the same time giving your children fun, edifying stories with Christian morals to read by ordering my books from GLMPublishing.net. As always, part of my proceeds will go towards Christian children’s charities. May God bless you, guide you, and lead you to be an advocate for children!

CONNECT WITH LEEANN MANCINI

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Friday, January 13, 2017

6 Small Changes Parents Should Make in the New Year -- by Guest Author Sarah Hamaker


The start of a new year brings New Year’s Resolutions, usually big things like lose weight, exercise more, save money, etc. But it’s often the small things that make a bigger difference—and are much easier to implement and stick to than the more substantial resolutions.

Six small changes parents should resolve to do this year.


Pay attention to the small moments. When I ask my children what they remember about a certain event or holiday, they usually pick something minor, like having hot chocolate for breakfast, than something huge, like a particular gift. This year, notice those small moments and cherish them—those are the moments that will warm your heart for years to come.

Focus on relationship first. All too often, parents over-emphasize behavior, and end up spending 90% of their interactions with their children yelling or disciplining. While children do need correcting when misbehaving, if you’re not cultivating closeness with your sons and daughters, punishing will soon define your relationship. Take time each day to have mini-interactions with each child. Simple ideas include:
  • Greeting him at breakfast and when he comes home from school
  • Hugging or other physical touches
  • Listening to her talk about her day
  • Sharing something you thought he might enjoy (a joke, article, website, etc.)Spending a few minutes just snuggling or sitting close beside her.
Keep your eyes on the future. When we’ve set our goal as raising an adult, rather than raising children, we will think and act differently. Remember what you’re doing, what you’re trying to accomplish, and that will help you navigate the rough patches with more confidence and calmness.

Don’t sweat the mistakes. You’ll have plenty of missteps on this parenting journey, but so did your parents, and your grandparents—and so will your children when they become parents. This doesn’t mean you won’t try to do better next time, but when you flub up, admit it and move on. Dwelling on the mistakes can paralyze you as a parent, which can lead to even bigger ones.

Remember who’s in charge. You’re the parent and the adult in the relationship, which means you’re the one in charge. This doesn’t mean kids don’t get a say in family affairs, but it does mean that the buck stops with mom and dad. As the one in charge, some of your decisions will be met with cheers and some with jeers. Some will be popular and some will cause a mini-riot. That’s what comes with being the leader, but kids need a leader who’s not afraid to lead.

Embrace your calling. Sometimes, it’s wearying to be the one in charge, to discipline consistently, to put up with snarling teens or temper-tantrum-throwing toddlers. But being a mom or dad is your calling, so take a deep breath and surrender to motherhood or fatherhood.

In 2017, you’ll have days when you want to trade in the unruly bunch of kids for the life of a carefree single. You’ll have days when you’re so proud, you might burst a button. You’ll have days when you’re so exhausted, you climb into bed without having accomplished a single thing other than keeping the kids alive. You’ll have days when the love you have for your kids overwhelms you.

In the midst of all of those days, keep in mind these six simple ways that can revolutionize your parenting.
End Sibling Rivalry by Sarah Hamaker

About my guest, Sarah Hamaker


A mother of four, Sarah Hamaker is a certified Leadership Parenting Coach™ and a trained Biblical Parenting coach through the National Center for Biblical Parenting. Sarah blogs about parenting on her website, her articles on parenting have appeared on Crosswalk.com and in the Washington Post’s On Parenting blog.

Connect with Sarah Hamaker




Monday, January 09, 2017

Adoption: Called to Love by Guest Author Renée Sanford

My guest Renee Sanford
My guest today is Renee Sanford, her husband and adoptive daughter Anna are contributing authors to my book FINDING SARAH FINDING ME, just as I was a contributing author to their Focus on the Family book THRIVING AS AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY.

Adoption: Called to Love by Guest Author Renée Sanford

David and I stood excitedly at the screen door on that unseasonably warm April Day. As soon as we knocked, we heard a happy voice call enthusiastically, “It’s my family!” Little steps pounded up the stairs. The foster mom opened the door, and the child we had hoped and prayed and waited for jumped into our arms.
When we first hugged our daughter, we knew the road ahead would be hard. We knew our love would not be enough to erase the pain she already had endured. We knew we would need the love and support of our family and friends and the wise experience of professional counselors. And we did. We needed them and they gave love and counsel and support in marvelous ways.
What we didn’t know is the road would be a hard and singular path. A path where we would look over at easier parenting roads and wonder how we could have not done better. Then again, a path where we experienced the intimate companionship of the Lord.  
When you chose to love an abused child, you are stepping into the shoes of the Father who loves us, His broken children.  
When a child pushes you away, continues to hurt herself, can’t stop hurting others, and yet you know you will do whatever it takes to help that child grow up, then you experience what God has experienced in loving us. And sometimes that is all that you can point to for why you continue. Obedience to the calling to love. 
Some people admire us for bringing a broken child into our home, as if we are truly amazing people. They haven’t been there when we’ve lost our cool and doors slam and we have to apologize—again. Some admire what we’ve done, but pity us for the pain we’ve brought on ourselves. Others just think we’re fools, I’m sure. 
So I ask myself sometimes: Why did God lead us to adopt this child?  I know His leading her to our family was His will. I know my calling to be her mother. I know my weaknesses. No matter how much I studied and learned and tried to parent in the way she needed, I know where I fell short. Where I failed her and my other children, too.
What is the point if I can’t see how my love and parenting have made a difference in her life?
The point is that I am seeking the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God belong to such as these. These little ones whom others’ have hurt. This is my path for seeking God’s Kingdom, and I must follow Him however He leads. Regardless of how He leads others. My calling is to love and protect this child, and I will obey, whether I ever see the results or not. For now that love and protection means accepting that we have done all we can and letting her live away from us in a program that can give her what we can’t. A strange way to parent, but the path God opened.
The point is that, as I bring that hurt into my own life, I am identifying with the Lord Jesus who is the one who truly took all our pain. The only hope I see for my girl is if she truly accepts that Jesus took all the pain and horror and shame of what was done to her and what she has done to herself. But maybe she will see and understand it in our love and sacrifice for her.
The point is that I am called to love my child, not to fix her. This is true for all my children. Only the Holy Spirit can do the incredible work of saving and healing and changing. Adoption itself doesn’t fix a broken child. But adoption rescues him and brings him to a place to experience what he has never had before. Only God can heal any broken heart.  
The point is that, after all is said and done, anything done in love lasts for eternity.   
Verses to Ponder:

The only thing that counts is
faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6b NIV
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV 
Authors and Adoptive Parents,
David and Renee Sanford
Renée Sanford is the mother of five children and grandmother of ten, who live in British Columbia and four states. Renée works as a Child Welfare social service specialist in the state of Oregon and is passionate about supporting families and children in the adoption journey. Renée also is passionate about teaching Scripture and encouraging women through her writing and speaking.  She and her husband, David, are the co-authors of the 400 pages of devotional / application notes for the Living Faith Bible (Tyndale House, 2000), co-authors of the book How to Read Your Bible (Thomas Nelson, 2005) and general editors of the Handout on Thriving as an Adoptive Family (Tyndale House/Focus on the Family, 2008).