Family Life, Savoring Simple Moments

7 Amazing Powers of a SuperMom

We’ve all heard the term: “SuperMom”. What exactly makes her “super”? Can you really put her in the same category as Captain America, WonderWoman, or Superman? Perhaps you’ve cringed at being addressed as a SuperMom. You wonder how you could rightfully claim such a title, being well aware of your non-kryptonite-induced weaknesses and failures.

But even though Mommy may not feel like the superhero the world makes her out to be, her children see through different lenses. And I think upon closer observation, they will notice Mommy has some rather amazing powers.

7 Amazing Powers of a SuperMom

1. Her kisses make the booboo’s go away.

There’s just something about Mama’s kisses and cuddles that make all owies better. But even if a cut needs a little more TLC, Mommy seems to have a magical way of cleaning the wound and applying the perfect bandage.

2. She can produce a sweet treat at lightning speed.

Who can resist chocolate chip cookies? But how does she make them so fast? Little do her children know that she’s got tubes of dough stored in the freezer. But wait till she becomes a grandma … she’ll have the power to pull out all kinds of sweet stuff out of her purse to spoil any crying kid.

3. She can see from the back of her head.

She’s at the sink, washing dishes. So how did she know her little angel was trying to sneak a cookie out of the jar? Somewhere behind that tangled updo, she’s got a pair of eyes that never sleep.

4. She makes books come to life.

When she opens a book and reads, she transports her children to another world, where rhyming is normal, animals talk, and happy endings are guaranteed.

5. She knows. Before they can come up with an answer, she knows.

Don’t get caught in a mind game with her. She knows what her kids will do before they do it. And I would warn against any attempts of falsification. She’s a walking lie detector!

6. With one look, she can make her kids do what she wants.

Is there some invisible force behind those eyes? Maybe the secret is in that one raised eyebrow, hypnotically bringing her kids under her control.

7. Her tickling fingers have the power to render her kids helpless.

No, not the fingers! Must get away from them! They are worse than Kryptonite! And when she starts dispensing zerberts (aka, raspberries) on the tummies, it’s all over for these kids!

If you’re a SuperMom, what’s your favorite super power?

Perhaps you may not feel very super on some days, but I bet you, your littles think you have some pretty cool powers. Wishing all you SuperMamas a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Community

To the Ones Who Reached Out to My Child

My son was just trying to make conversation, but it was very one-sided. If he’s passionate about something, he will talk your ear off, regardless of your opinions on the subject. Clearly, the other child on the receiving end of this information overload just didn’t get my son. “There’s something wrong with his brain,” I overheard him say to someone else, and I realized he was talking about my child.

At that moment, I wanted to cry but controlled it to spare myself from being the center of attention at a public place. I wanted to scoop up my child, put my arms around him, and shield him from any hurt, intentional or unintentional, that will come from this world.

But I know putting him in a protective bubble is not what’s best. As cruel as the world can sometimes be, there are people God has placed in my child’s path to reach out to him, and you are one of them. You may be thinking, “Me? What did I do?”

You greeted him.

A simple “hello” goes a long way. Far too many of us are preoccupied with our own world or the world being displayed on the tiny screen in our hands, that we fail to look up and notice the person right in front of us, who could use a simple smile to brighten his day.

You listened to him.

Not only did you say “hi”, but you asked the loaded question, “How are you?” Perhaps, you were not expecting a detailed catalog of all the Minions and their unique characteristics or a list of voice actors from The Lego Movie, but you looked at him and listened to it all.

You hugged him.

I think this assures him of acceptance by you. Isolation is his fear, as is the case with many of us, so a handshake, a hug, or a high-five allow him to experience the human connection that any person seeks after.

You invited him.

He seemed content to be alone, but you went out of your way to invite him to sit with you. Honestly, social situations are still challenging for him, so he probably felt awkward about accepting the invitation. Nonetheless, you took a courageous step with a seemingly simple kind gesture.

You became his friend.

He doesn’t have very many friends. In fact, if you asked him who they are, he would list names of family members … brothers, sisters, mom, and dad. But you … he mentioned you. You became his friend.

Approaching someone who’s “different” can be intimidating. I understand that. After all, if you’re not crossing paths, why take the detour to intentionally go to that person? Why risk the potential awkwardness of the encounter? Would it even make a difference?

Yes, it does … it certainly does.

Coping with the Challenges

To the Mom of the Child with Special Needs (Part 2)

It was about 5 years ago. I sat in the school’s office with my son, filling out enrollment paperwork. Though I hurried through the process, I wasn’t fast enough to escape an impending meltdown. We weren’t quite done, they told us. He had to take a photo for his school ID card.

What should’ve been a quick point and shoot moment was anything but that. That ID card, with the picture of his tear-stained face, would always remind me that the path ahead would have many obstacles to overcome.

Are you a mother of a child with special needs? Perhaps you can relate well to this story. Maybe you’re just beginning your journey, and you feel paralyzed, afraid to take the next step, not knowing where this road will take you.

In my previous post and in this one, I hope to share some thoughts that will give you courage to press on.

Stay Two Steps Ahead (+ Two More)

Even if you’re the most spontaneous person on the planet, when you become a mom, you will likely become the person, who instinctively prepares ahead.

But if you have a child with special needs, you need to stay two or more steps ahead. There is no such thing as overpreparation. Not only will you have a Plan B, but Plans C, D, and E will also be safely tucked in your mental files. Moreover, you will have to include your child in this preparation, walking him through every step ahead before it happens. Transition from one activity to the next is tough for special needs kids, but it can go more smoothly when you announce what is to come so that he has some time to adjust.

Seek Support From Others

The path you’re on can be a very lonely one. It’s so easy to get into the mindset that no one understands, but that thinking just leads to further isolation. You don’t have to feel alone. I know it can be risky to lay open your heart like that, but God may have prepared that friend to be the one, who will bear this burden with you. And, it doesn’t have to be someone, who has a child with special needs. You can receive great encouragement from those who are willing to listen and be there for you.

Spend Time Reflecting

When faced with the challenges of caring for your child, a number of thoughts spin around in your head … some thoughts are irrational, some depressing, and some even despairing. “Will I ever have a normal life?” That time needed to reflect is not to multiply more thoughts, like these. But rather, it is to intentionally meditate on the complete opposite.

I have spent a lot of time in earnest prayer and reading the Bible, so that I would see my situation, not through the eyes of a tired, frustrated, and inadequate mom, but through the eyes of a powerful, gracious, and all-sufficient God.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

If you missed Part 1 of this, click here.

Coping with the Challenges

To the Mom of the Child with Special Needs (Part 1)

I never thought I would be on this road, being a mother of a child with special needs. Actually, I take that back. A road is probably not the most accurate description because, often, it feels like a roller coaster. Nonetheless, this path that God has put me on has come with many blessed lessons.

If you are a parent, who has just received the news that your child has and will continue to have some specific, special needs, you may feel as though you’re caught in the rapids, trying to stay afloat, while the raging waters of information from doctors, therapists, specialists, and educators surround you and threaten to engulf you. It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to be in despair.

Don’t Compare with Others

Ah, the comparison trap! We all do it, whether or not we have a child with special needs. But this is especially detrimental for the mom with the special needs child. “Special needs” implies they are on a completely different page from most kids their age, so comparing is an exercise in futility.

I used to always feel like I needed to get my child “caught up” and felt discouraged at the thought that he will always be “behind”. But caught up to what? Behind in what? Whose standards anyway? Is it in education? Motor skills? Social skills? It was stressful.

Your child’s milestones will be different from his peers and from his own siblings. An unhealthy preoccupation with the progress of others will keep you from focusing on your own child’s development.

Rejoice in the progress (no matter how small)

Sometimes it may feel like there’s no progress at all. It takes a bit of stepping outside of yourself and seeing your child from another vantage point to notice that there are changes. Perhaps recording them in a journal will help you see them and be intentional about searching for them. Don’t limit yourself to the great leaps and bounds. Progress is often seen in the small baby steps. Remember being overjoyed when your baby took his first steps. That doesn’t have to stop now.

Be Your Child’s Special Friend

Making friends will likely not come easy for your child, especially as he gets older. Party invitations might be rare, and play dates will probably be a challenge to arrange. I have wept over my own child’s lack of friends and wept even more when I realized he had matured enough to notice this too. 

I remember that at his own birthday party a few years ago, my son pulled me into one of the rooms away from all the guests, closed the door, and asked if we could play “I Spy” together. As much as I wanted him to be comfortable with everyone else, I was the one he really wanted to be with. I was his special friend.

You may be going through this difficult and emotional season in your parenting journey. Or perhaps you know someone who is. One of the hardest things for me is feeling alone in this. Will you share this with someone who could use the encouragement?

(Click here for Part 2.)

Family Life, Savoring Simple Moments, Trusting God

The Day He Rode Without Training Wheels

“Mommy, I did it! I rode my bike!” Though I could not see his face, the enthusiasm in my son’s voice came through loud and clear over the phone. Doctors had told us early on that delays in Gabriel’s speech development could also mean delays in other areas, such as motor skills. Play dates at the park confirmed this, as I watched my son struggle to climb the jungle gym, while his younger sister whizzed passed him. Eventually, he improved, and he could climb as well as any 8-year-old. But, one thing that he was still not able to do was ride his bike without training wheels.

Even as a preschooler, he had a difficult time riding his tricycle, preferring to move that thing around with his feet, like the Flintstones. Graduating to a bicycle was another huge hurdle for Gabriel to overcome, but training wheels gave him confidence. He had the biggest bike with training wheels at the park, and I wondered if we would ever be able to remove them.

DSC_0010.JPGYesterday, my husband took him out to go bike riding. By God’s providence, one of the training wheels came off as he was riding. My husband decided to leave it off and encouraged our son to keep riding. When he could tell that Gabriel’s confidence was growing, my husband told him, “Son, I’m going to remove the other wheel. Just give it a try.” After a few minor falls, Gabriel was riding around the parking lot with no training wheels. A couple of bystanders watched and cheered on both father and son. One of them, an older gentleman, said to my husband, “Now that’s something to remember!” And after that parking lot ride, I received the phone call from Gabriel. I wish I could’ve recorded his voice and play it back for you all to hear. He was gushing with excitement. I could not contain the tears of joy, for Gabriel’s accomplishment reached deep into my heart.

I’m just like Gabriel. Timid, anxious, and afraid to fall. I want my training wheels because they keep me steady, but God knows when to remove them. He will keep me steady. And as I entrust myself to Him, I will discover that all along, He has always been holding me up.

 

(Photo credit 1: Lotus Carroll)
(Photo credit 2: billjank)

Homeschool, Trusting God

Directed Steps

For the past few weeks, I have been busy taking care of many things, one of which is planning for our homeschooling year. Let me tell you … I loved homeschooling for the first couple weeks in August until a week ago from today, I actually started to homeschool. The past week has been a crazy roller coaster ride with all the dips, drops, loops, twists, and turns.

When I took a blogging break to face this task of planning for school, I set to work on checklists, shopping lists, book lists, and schedules. Schedules are my favorite part. Call me strange, but there is just something about a color-coded, hour-by-hour spreadsheet of the activities for the day that makes me feel orderly. This was certainly the case in my high school and college days. But, take that nice pretty schedule and mix in four rambunctious, little personalities along with my own, and it is a far cry from orderly. It looks so good on paper, but the execution of it was the beginning of my roller coaster ride.

How timely to be reminded of this precious proverb as we begin our second week of school.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

This morning, I prayed that God would loosen my grip on my plans and submit to His complete control. I prayed that He would enable me to stay fixed and focused on Him, even as I make my plans and preparations.

Whatever our plans are, He will direct me and you in ways that cannot be confined to a spreadsheet. It may not always be what we anticipated, but it will always be good.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

 

(Photo credit: Dirk-Jan Kraan)

Coping with the Challenges

Rising Above the Noise

FireworksWith Independence Day in a couple of days, I’m already getting ready. I don’t mean buying food or getting our place decked out in red, white, and blue. I mean, I’m getting my son, Gabriel, prepared for what’s to come since he has a fear of fireworks. For the last few days, faint booming noises from early fireworks shows have been getting him out of bed multiple times each night. I can barely hear them myself. But he could hear them. His heightened senses have given me an appreciation for things that I normally wouldn’t stop to notice. But it’s also something that can frustrate him when he needs to focus on something. How many of us have a hard time listening to something when there are competing sounds around us? It can take a good deal of concentration, something that Gabriel needs to learn how to do.

Pray Lake and Sinophah MtnIt seems that way in our spiritual lives too. How do we focus our attention on Christ when we allow “competing” objects to enter in our hearts? How do we love The Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength (Mark 12:30) when our affections, thoughts, and efforts are placed elsewhere? It takes concentration and a resolve to rise above the noise of this world. A retreat to the mountains would be nice, but we have to eventually come down from the mountain. Perhaps, a quiet time in the early morning hours to spend time with our Lord, but even Jesus Himself was met with interruptions to His morning devotions. Maybe your life is such that a mountaintop retreat or early morning quiet times don’t seem to fit in. But, press on and find a way to spend time with The Lord that you may fix your eyes on Him. Susanna Wesley, mother of 19 children, was known to have put an apron over her head, a signal to her children that she was praying to The Lord. A speaker at our church’s women’s conference shared that when her children were young, she had to think outside the box when finding time to read the Bible. Sometimes, she would put them all in the bathtub to play, while she sat next to them reading. These women found ways. With Gabriel’s fears, I suppose it would be easier to just avoid fireworks altogether, but we wanted to encourage him to take steps, even baby steps. We wanted to find a way.

Last year, my sister, who lives near the city’s fireworks show, invited us over to watch from their front lawn. But as everyone started gathering outside with blankets and lawn chairs, Gabriel and I headed upstairs to one of the rooms, closed the door and all the curtains and waited. He paced back and forth nervously. Since the fireworks hadn’t started, I opened the door and noticed that from the window of another room, you can get a view of where the fireworks would be. I encouraged him to come watch from that bedroom, not really expecting that he would agree. To my amazement, he took tiny steps towards the room, and the next thing I know we were both sitting next to the window. He was nervous when the show started, but I kept hugging him and talking to him. “Which one is your favorite?” “What does that look like?” “How many colors do you see there?” The sounds were muffled enough that he was able to bear it, and because the loud booms were not so much of a distraction, he was able to appreciate the beautifully lit night sky.

And so it is with our faith. When those things that distract us from devotion to Christ are removed, we will not want to turn our gaze anywhere else. And what a beautiful sight to behold Him on the throne of our hearts!

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
(Psalm 27:4)

 

(Photo credit 1: stintje)
(Photo credit 2: GlacierNPS)

Coping with the Challenges, Trusting God

Talking to Myself

I sat there, waiting for the water to fill up. It took little time for it to reach my shoulders. I reclined my head against the back of the tub, wondering how it had come to this. I hadn’t really put much thought into how to do it, but I was so desperate to find a way out that this seemed like my only option. I wondered how it would feel … if I would struggle or if it would be quick and painless. I tried to empty my mind. I didn’t want to think, didn’t want to feel. With eyes closed, I tried to make my body limp and began to sink into the water. Just when my face was about to be submerged, I felt a kick, a sudden jolt to awaken me from my self-imposed nightmare. It was my baby, kicking from inside me, as if to say, “No, Mommy, don’t do this to us!” That was about 5 years ago, when I was pregnant with our third and wondered why God would entrust another child to me. As a young mother, I was overwhelmed with the task of raising up my children, including a son with special needs, according to God’s Word. I was beyond grief over my tendencies towards rage and anger. I was a mess, and unbelief led me to the conclusion that God could not fix me. This was one of the darkest days of my life.

shore, a womanPraise be to God, who has freed me from the chains of spiritual depression! I have been tempted many times to return to that dark day of my past, but The Lord has been faithful to rescue me every time. It certainly has not always been smooth sailing. I have encountered many moments when I am fighting to stay afloat. But fighting is good. And, part of that fight against spiritual depression means talking to myself. Sadly, I had already wasted a couple of years listening to myself: You’re a horrible mother. God must be tired of you repenting of the same sins. You must not be saved. Your family will better off when you’re dead. Succumbing to these thoughts, I had nearly given up the fight. Like the psalmist, I had to purposefully talk some sense to myself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

Preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explained this psalmist’s self-talk so clearly,

“This man was not content just to lie down and commiserate with himself. He does something about it, he takes himself in hand … he talks to himself … I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self.” (“Spiritual Depression”, p. 20)

So, this is why I’m here, why I blog. It is one of the ways God has given me to talk to myself. I don’t have it all together. I really don’t. In between blog posts, there is a war waging within me, as I struggle to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, and a war outside of me as those thoughts, unchecked, are released into sinful actions towards those around me. Honestly, there are times I wonder if I’ll make it to the next post. But, God carries me through the difficult times and gives me His Word so that I may use it to talk to myself. And sometimes, those conversations end up here.

This blog is my attempt to keep a sober mind in the midst of a dark world and the result of a desire to bring everything in my life under the lens of God’s Word. Perhaps you are going through some dark days. May I encourage you to go to the Bible and let God speak to your heart? In the midst of your despair, I trust that He will give you something good to say to yourself.

 

(Photo credit: vanz)

Family Life

Up, Up, and Away, Super Mom!

I used to work for a financial firm in the middle of a metropolitan city, and I was surrounded by a sea of aggressive, loud, cursing, and crude men. Most of the women who worked there, like me, were their assistants or some other support roles. I recall a time when one of the women recently returned to work after her maternity leave. It was her first child. I couldn’t wait to talk with her because at that time, I was 4 months pregnant with my first son, Gabriel. I caught up with her on the elevator on the way home and gave her an enthusiastic, “Welcome Back!” I asked her about her baby and then said, “You must miss your baby a lot, now that you have to be back at work.” She smiled and said, “Not really. I actually really missed the guys here.” I was speechless after that and was just glad the elevator door opened, and we went our separate ways.

I know being a mom is hard, and those first few months taking care of a baby, when you have no idea what you’re doing, is indeed tough. But still … how can a sweet-looking newborn compare to a bunch of financial brokers??

Super MomSome mothers have to work outside the home to make ends meet. Some moms stay home, where work is still required. Some homeschool all day, while others sacrifice many evenings helping kids with their homework. Moreover, a mother has to wear many hats: doctor, nurse, chauffeur, detective, judge, maid, chef, teacher, principal, coach, banker. But there’s only one hat that will fit perfectly and will never be removed. She will always be MOM.

To all you Super Moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

 

(Photo credit: Eduardo Merille)

Family Life

My Heritage, My Reward

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Mothers are a peculiar bunch. They love and adore their children one minute, and then scream and holler at them the next. They gush about the joys of motherhood, but have a growing list of woes since giving birth. They give so much sacrificially, but hope for some kind of recognition in return … especially on Mother’s Day.

There was a time in my life, though, when I thought I would not live to see another Mother’s Day. My son, Gabriel, was almost two years old, and my daughter, Tamara, was 5 months. It was like any other day. Towards the evening, I felt feverish, but like most moms, a little fever wasn’t enough to halt all household activities. But as the evening drew to a close, the slight fever turned into nausea. It must be the flu, I thought. But instead of spending the rest of the night in bed, I was hunched over the toilet, vomiting.

The next morning, I thought I would feel better, but I didn’t even have the strength to pick up my daughter. My husband took the day off from work and promptly brought me to the doctor. What I thought would be a quick visit became a day of being wheeled from one hospital department to the next. My last stop was the ICU, where the doctors inserted an IV line in my neck, and shortly after, I was alone in that dimly lit hospital room. Everything happened so quickly. What just happened? This was only the flu. A nurse came in to check on me. I could barely speak, but I mustered up the strength to whisper, “Can I go home now?” The reply was not at all what I expected. “I’m afraid you will be here for a while.”

Drop me a lineThe doctors discovered that I had a serious staph infection, which entered my blood stream and sent my body into septic shock, a condition in which my blood pressure became dangerously low. My body was pumped with fluids and all sorts of antibiotics. During my hospital stay, I wondered if I would see my family again. My husband brought pictures of my precious babies, but it was not enough to kiss and hug those pictures. I longed to hold them again. My daughter had never been bottle-fed before, but when my husband brought pictures of her holding her own bottle, it was bittersweet. Gabriel’s 2nd birthday was in a week, and I had no idea if I would be home in time to celebrate with him. All my typical complaints about sleep deprivation and endless chores seemed insignificant while I laid down in that cold hospital room.

By God’s mercy and grace, one of the antibiotics worked, and the symptoms of the infection eventually subsided. However, I came home weak and thinner than when I was first admitted to the hospital. Not exactly the weight loss plan I was hoping for. Family and friends generously brought food, a cake, and some gifts, and we were able to have that birthday party for Gabriel that I thought I would not live to see.

That experience seems like such a tiny speck in my life, but as I recall those events from six years ago, it’s as if it just happened yesterday. Life, of course, went back to normal. And this mother, who once thought she would never see her children again, has settled back into her frequent frustrations with parenting. But, God mercifully brings me back to that hospital room time and time again and reminds me of the precious lessons He taught me there. I will always remember …

  • That our next breath is not guaranteed to us.

“… you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

  • That celebrations, like birthdays and Mother’s Day, are reminders that all our days ought to be spent in continual rejoicing.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

  • And, that my children truly are precious gifts from my Lord.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)

 

(Photo credit 2: Rachel Cobcroft)