WFMW: Saying Yes For His Girls

YesWFMW

I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Jennifer for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

At desks, sinks, and fields, on this floor of wood and this one of dirt, in kitchens where water pours right down from faucets, and in mud huts where water is fetched in buckets by walking miles one way each day, I know we are seen, these girls of Yours.

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Where children laugh and where tears stream down, where husbands and wives keep trying and where marriages dissolve in pain and hope lost, You smile, and cry, too.  You nurture these hearts and You bend and wipe tears.

Pain is not something that makes you not stay.

There are the flushed, pink cheeks, robust from plenty food.  And there are the sallow, sunken frames, eyes pleading for sustenance, mercy.

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You show us these children, those girls of Yours who lift up hands–those who know You and those who don’t — and we remember how much we need You to show us how to love all these girls well–how we need You to even give us eyes to see, to give us hearts to feel, before we love, before we believe.

We are all Your girls.

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And You take this girl’s hands in Yours as You reach, reminding her sweet:  here, here is the food I bring.

You were lost until you were found.  You thought and lived like you were forgotten until I reminded you that you are not.  You wondered if anyone saw you, knew you, cared about the depths of your heart — the heart you didn’t even know was there until I showed it to you.

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Remember you are the one whose life I claimed.

With My life you live.

These are my girls, for My girls to gather up.

Gather them, My dears.  I am Yours.  I have gathered you.  Don’t stop now.

Until they are all gathered I wait, I stay.

Kristen’s brave, inspiring words in Rhinestone Jesus got me thinking about my trip to Ethiopia–and how my yes to God to jump on that plane with my husband, seven years ago, leaving behind our (then) 5, 3, and 1 year old for 21 days forever changed my heart. Our yes to that trip, years ago, prompted my husband and I, living in the midst of crazy-busy-success-driven Silicon Valley, California, to start a non-profit as the means for us to love the people God is calling us to love, in the way He’s made us to do it. Last week it was official: Gather Ministries got accredited as a 501(c)(3).

What is your yes? Who are you made to love? How are you made to love them?

Kristen reminds me, in Rhinestone Jesus,

I believe we are all called to do something, just not everything. Focusing on our one thing and doing it well to His glory is both liberating and life changing.

Saying yes to what Jesus is calling us to do is the freedom we will never know unless we trust Him more than ourselves. Come on, sister, let’s say yes to Him. What happens next, after the yes, may not be easy, but we don’t want to miss all that good He has that we will otherwise never know.

As sisters, let’s root for each other. Let’s join Kristen in encouraging each other to listen for and respond to God’s invitation to say yes.

Jennifer square new blue backgroundJennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ.

You can find her writing at her blog, You Are My Girls, and also with her husband about the redemptive mess of marriage at their blog, Holy Entanglement.


Navigating Technology With Our Kids in a Screen-Obsessed World

*Updated with Winners* Congrats to random commenters Tanya and Ami!

My oldest daughter got her first school locker at 5th grade orientation at the new middle school.  She nervously worked her combination and adjusted the books on her white locker shelf and added a mirror on the door. I’ll never forget the day four years ago—not because it was a big deal that she was growing up. Because it was. But I remember it more because of how grown up the other kids around her seemed.

The girl next to her had fake nails, hair highlights was wearing name brand clothes head-to-toe and had was going to take notes on a tablet. And at the locker below her, a girl was texting her boyfriend on her iPhone. It felt more like a scene from high school musical than the 5th grade.

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I silently prayed I could keep my little girl little and we could navigate these adolescent years well. And we have so far.

When she asked for certain brands, we talked about budgets and saving and through the years she enjoyed a few. When she asked for a smart phone, we told her high school and thankfully, she hasn’t asked for fake nails or a boyfriend yet.

We recognized along the journey that some parents said yes sooner than we did and others said it later. And that’s okay. Because there’s not a perfect age or stage and we are all doing the best we can. I think it depends on what’s right for your family.

I’m not saying it was easy. It was just plain hard at times. I think my daughter must have asked for something we weren’t quite ready to give her a hundred times during those middle school years. We would remind her of our goal. The requests lessened in junior high.

That’s why surprising her a few days ago before she started high school with her own smart phone was a joy for all of us. She was shocked. But she was ready and the moment felt like victory for all of us.

Along with her phone we gave her this contract. It requires phone etiquette and usage rules and where and when it’s appropriate. We all signed it.

It’s just a matter of time before your child has the power of technology at their fingertips. Whether it’s a game system, a smart phone or a Kindle or a laptop, technology is more accessible than ever and it’s here to stay. Every parent reading this handles is differently.  It’s not a question of if, it’s a matter of when.

I love technology. It’s a huge part of my life and I certainly don’t want to rob my kids of the good things that it offers. But more than anything, I want them to understand the power it wields, the dangers that are a click away and make sure they are mature enough to handle it.

It’s a big subject that changes as fast as the next upgrade and it’s our job to not only monitor our kids, but to live by example.

Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane helped us with this decision. This summer I read (and endorsed) this important book and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s like curriculum for parents in our tech-savvy and screen-obsessed world and it released this week!

In my daughter’s cell phone contract, we asked that she wait on a Facebook account until she was older, but gave permission for an Instagram account. After a couple of days, she said, “Mom, I’m going to wait on that too. I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet.”

And I knew we’d waited long enough. She was ready.

Today, I’m giving away two copies of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World. Leave a comment if you’d like to win.


In Honor of The Real Labor Day

A couple of years on Labor Day, I shared the hardest labor I’ve ever done: Becoming a mom!

I thought I’d share my facts again and you can do the same in the comments.

We will give each other a virtual, sweaty high-five!

How long were your labors?

Kid #1, 12 hours

Kid #2, 10 hours

Kid #3, 8 hours

How did you know you were in labor?

Kid #1, 2 weeks late, induced due to begging.

Kid #2, 1 week early, induced due to threatening

Kid #3, 7 weeks early, emergency c-section, because I like to mix it up a little.

Where did you deliver?

In the safety and security of the hospital, where most patients with OCD deliver.

Drugs?

Yes, many and all kinds.

C-section?

On my last one, after 7-8 hours of laboring without dilation, I was rushed down the hall because the baby and I weren’t doing well. I’ve never been more afraid of a nurse with a razor!

Who delivered?

Kid #1- A nice midwife who sat on the end of my bed to ‘take a looksey’ broke the end of my bed–completely off—she went on to do a great job!

Kid #2- We moved when I was 8.5 months pregnant and a very reluctant doctor I only met once, delivered my son.  When she told me I was too far along to accept as a new patient, I burst into tears and said my hubby would have to do it.  She quickly changed her policy.

Kid #3- The best OB in Texas!  I love this woman.  I’m pretty sure she saved my daughter’s life!

How about you? What are your numbers?

Did you adopt? (how long did you wait? Those hours should win you a trophy!)

 

originally posted, Sept. 1, 2008


Parenting Doesn’t Get Easier. But We Can Go Easy on Other Parents

That screaming boy in Target.

That mismatched messy girl in the restaurant.

That eye roll.

I have silently judged, questioned and mentally accused the mothers of these children.

Because I was an excellent mother-

Before I had kids.

And then I became a mom and I discovered just how wrong I’d been.

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Because if the world judged how great a mom I was by my well-behaved kids who are styled to perfection without ever displaying attitude or laziness–I would be in deep trouble.

Parenting is hard.

The kind of hard that knocks you off your feet, leaves you gasping for air, and has you wondering what the heck just happened all before 8 a.m.

I used to think if I could just get them to sleep through the night or eat their veggies or stop crying, or pick up their toys, or stop fighting with their siblings, or make a new friend, or get a better grade or stop slamming their doors, or fill in the blank–then parenting would be easier.

But then I realized parenting doesn’t get easier.

It just changes.

I understand now that the little boy is probably screaming in Target because his mom told him no. She is being consistent even though it’s hard. She’s second-guessing herself and she really just wants to cry along with him.

I get the mismatched messy girl at the restaurant because that mom chose her battle. She let the little things go and is just simply doing her best.

I can now appreciate letting teenagers get away with the eye roll. Because you can’t win them all.

Once I heard a exuberant, quirky guest speaker say, “You might think I’m wrong because I do things different than you do. You might wonder why I get excited more than most or pump my fist or jump up and down. You might judge me. Go ahead. Because you don’t know the road I’ve walked. You can’t understand that this fist bump means I haven’t quit. This jump means I will not give up. I may not do things the way you do them, but I do it my way for a reason. And that doesn’t make me wrong.”

The thing is we may never understand why other parents do what they do. And then again, we may totally get it when we reach that next trying and beautiful phase.

But the truth is we all know how hard parenting is. We all try to do our best, hoping we offer our kids mercy or justice when it’s needed most. We all love our children. The last thing we need is to second guess the way someone else is parenting.

An encouraging word, a kind look, a sympathetic smile can change someone’s day. Including your own.

And if your a parent, you’re going to need it.

 


WFMW: Saying YES is Always More Than You Bargained For

YesWFMW

I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Jennifer for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

When I said “Yes!” to my younger daughter’s life, refusing to discuss termination with my doctor, I had no idea what that would mean. All indications were, despite the doctor’s fears, that our daughter was just fine. Later we realized that she does, indeed, have medical and neurodevelopmental issues, and she is a struggling learner too. All of this information has come to us little by little, although we realized at birth that she was a bit different.

I had no idea that saying yes to my daughter’s life would mean an entirely different life for our family—other than the changes that come with adding another family member to our household. I had no idea that, nine years later, therapy sessions and evaluations, behavioral therapy sessions, specialist appointments, and weekly immunoglobulin infusions would be “normal” for us.

Saying yes to our daughter’s life also meant that my dreams for my writing changed. God’s plans were entirely different from my own. He has gradually opened up an entire speaking and writing ministry to families of children with special needs. He’s very serious about 2 Corinthians 1:4. He never wastes a single hard thing in our lives.

Saying YES is Always More Than You Bargained For - wearethatfamily.com

But saying yes also brought other changes to our lives that I didn’t expect. I never dreamed that I would rejoice over my child making eye contact for longer than a few seconds at a time. I never imagined that we would all get excited about our daughter wearing a different type of clothing or trying a different type of food. I didn’t expect to smell everything I come into contact with, trying to imitate her behavior and experience the world similar to the way she does. I never dreamed I would sit next to her almost every day for years, watching her persevere at the learning that comes so hard to her, watching her struggle, and then finally hearing her read a few words fluently.

I never dreamed that I could be so in love with a child whose future is so uncertain. I never imagined that God would give me an even clearer picture of His love for me in all my struggles and imperfections through this child He blessed me with.

I didn’t expect to grow even closer to God as I dropped to my knees over and over again, asking for wisdom to raise this child, asking for help to pay for the things she needs, asking for favor with therapy facilities, specialists, and insurance companies. I didn’t expect to be so comforted in the good times and bad, knowing that He’s walking alongside me.

I didn’t expect to see His miracles in my family’s life, over and over again. I didn’t expect my daughter’s struggles to cause both of my daughters to develop character traits and a dependence on God that will serve them well for the rest of their lives—and I can’t wait to see how He uses all of this to bless others.

And while I wonder about the future and what God might do between now and then, He makes sure that we’re filled with joy, even during the hard times. My precious daughter adds so much love and laughter to our lives. Like this morning, while we were doing her math lesson, I asked her to write the numbers 35 to 100, counting by fives. She looked at me and said, “To 100? Doesn’t that seem a little extreme?” After I insisted she could do it, she proceeded to count by fives to 110. So there.

Saying YES to God is a scary but exhilarating thing to do. No matter what your YES is or where it leads you, you can be sure it will be more than you bargained for!

 

Bio:

2013 headshot (1)Jennifer Janes lives in Arkansas with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys reading, writing, speaking, drinking iced tea, crocheting, using blue ink when she writes longhand, and spending time with friends and family. She writes about faith, family, and parenting and homeschooling a child with special needs on her blog, Jennifer A. Janes.