A Capital Letter Syndrome Doesn’t Make a Child Less Than

Marching to the beat of his own drum.

I knew.  I knew from early on that my son marched to the beat of his own drum.  I tried to to make him march with the other kids.  I didn’t want him to think something was wrong with him.  I tried all the parenting advice and discipline techniques.  Nothing seemed to matter.  I was trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

A Capital Letter Syndrome Doesn't Make a Child Less Than

The school nightmare

School was a nightmare.  He’d burn up all his energy on trying to “be good” only to fail and fall short of the teacher’s expectations.  He never brought home that coveted green smiley on his behavioral chart that said it was a good day.  I could see it in his eyes, he felt less than.  Less than the other kids his age, less than good, less than what people want.  It broke my heart.  I hated that stinking behavioral chart.  I hated that people refused to try and understand my sweet boy.

Soon we realized that traditional public school made things worse.  When he was in third grade, my husband and I made the choice to homeschool all our children.  I will never forget the day early in our journey that he leaned against my shoulder and said “Thank you for homeschooling me, Mommy.  I felt so stupid in school”  I cried that day and still remember it so vividly.  I replay that memory when we’re having a rough day.

Being your Child’s Advocate

I knew that I was going to have to be my son’s biggest advocate.  From the time we got his SPD diagnosis in first grade until just recently, I’ve had to explain everything it means and what it doesn’t.  I’ve had to undo society’s idea of what perfect children should look like.  My son was perfect.  Exactly the way God made him.  Just because he doesn’t do everything like the masses doesn’t make him somehow less than.  I am actually proud that he doesn’t.  And now, even at 14 years old, I will still fight anyone that tries to force that square peg into that round hole….or lovingly point out how mistaken they are.  It’s a toss-up, really.  😉

Want to hear more of what Lori has to say on the subject? Listen to this week’s podcast episode:

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Lori Shaffer

Special Needs (Capital Letter Syndromes) and Homeschooling Director

Lori Shaffer is married to her childhood best friend, Jacob.  She is a stay at home missionary and homeschool mom to their three children.  She is passionate about advocating for teen moms and women and children that have been abused and giving them hope and encouragement.  Most days she can be found drinking coffee, working out with Kathleen, or hanging out with her family.

Follow Lori on Social Media:

Facebook- Lori Shaffer

Instagram –@browneyedmomof3

Instagram joint fitness account (Kathleen and Lori)-

@2girlsnotrunning

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Expectations and Reality

“My car broke down. It won’t start,” son Hunter said. We were on the way home from a beach vacation. He was at least an hour behind us and we had no room in the car. None. No squeezing in.

Everyone has to get back to real life after vacation. No surprise there. Family vacations are full of fun and exhausting at the same time. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Biking, long walks on the beach, playing in the surf with grandkids Great fun! My issue? My expectations. After an jam packed full vacation, I expect to jump right back on the treadmill of real life. In my mind, I have on the cutest athletic wear, neon yellow running shorts, bright Nikes and a coordinating tank top. I see myself jogging along with a smile, everything is under control. My energy level is steady. I have a perfect school plan, meals planned and I fill my schedule with appointments. I bump up the treadmill to high speed.

Real life doesn’t wait until I get home and suited up and fill up my water bottle. He hits hard on the way home when our son’s car breaks down in N.C.. Calls and texts fly back and forth about insurance, towing and finally a hotel to spend the night in. I get a call from our drama director about the Scrooge production I assist with, nothing major or even negative, just another string pulling me back to real life too soon. The nine hour trip on the way home I consider sacred. I have a notebook out to jot down a to-do list. Reality should stay put until I get home. It doesn’t. Texts from daughter at home informing me that the front door is damaged. Puppy scratched it after getting locked out. Not pretty. Not what I want to come home to either.

My expectation for coming home and sailing through the week the way I planned it went down the drain. There were other complications that I won’t heap on you. The point is expectations. What are they?

Expectation-a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future:

“Reality had not lived up to expectations.”

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I expected to come home to perfection. I expected to be full of energy. I expected to walk out the schedule that I had ordained. It didn’t happen. Instead, I came home discouraged, tired and overwhelmed. So, gals, where do we go from there. I felt my morning devotions slipping into an abyss of darkness. I couldn’t pray straight. It sounded more like complaining, followed by begging than gratitude and praise.

Guess what. God understands. He didn’t pull out His rod and whack me with it. Instead, he used it to gently nudge me. Every Bible verse fit my circumstance exactly. God knew exactly what I needed. When I was at my lowest and I had cried big crocodile tears to my husband, a friend text me out of the blue, “Hey lady….hope all is good. Thinkin about ya.♥” I texted her a list of prayer requests and she prayed.

The truth is God already knew my heart. He knew ahead of time what the circumstances were and how I would internalize them.
Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous,
But the Lord rescues him from them all.– Ps. 34:19

I often believe that I have to be doing exactly the right thing in order for God to rescue me. I can’t be impatient or stressed or ________. It’s just not true. We aren’t rescued because of our righteousness, but because of His. He makes a way because that is consistent with His character, not ours. He relieves us of our heavy burdens because He is not harsh, hard or pressing, not because we aren’t. Grace and forgiveness are free for the asking. His mercies are new every morning.

I had to cut myself some slack and rearrange my schedule this week. I cancelled a hair appointment, missed a PiYo class, all because I knew I needed rest. My boundaries and my values must line up, so must yours. Some of you reading this may think cancelling things or rearranging schedules because you are stressed and overwhelmed is irresponsible. Your inner dictator may yell that you must always be all things for all people. It isn’t telling you the truth. You must take care of you. You must know your limitations. I’m not talking about sitting on the couch and eating donuts for a week because you have a hang nail. I still homeschooled this week, throwing in an extra day for one missed. I still kept my commitments for Scrooge rehearsals, met the tow truck to get my son’s car towed, managed my home. The problem is ladies, we expect to be super heroes. We are not. We are just humans, living in bodies that need rest. They need a regular infusion of prayer and the Word. These bodies need other sisters praying for us, texting us, supporting us. We are weak and that’s not a bad thing.

but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My loving kindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me– 2 Cor. 12:9

When we are weak, we are insufficient, but His grace is sufficient. It is always available regardless of the situation. I will boast in my weakness. I don’t have it all together. Circumstances throw me a curveball and I don’t duck. They smack me square in the face and my pseudo in control life falls off of its pedestal. It’s okay. His power is being perfected in those moments. Jesus can handle my expectations and my reality.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday. Join us!

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Little Boxes

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes
Little boxes all the same
There’s a green one and a pink one 
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky 
and they all look the same….

…And they all  get put in boxes and they all come out the same- Pete Seeger, Little Boxes

This year, let’s resolve NOT to put our children in little boxes and expect them to come out just the same.
Let’s not fall into the comparison trap.  Children adopted from hard places tend to have a younger emotional age than their physical age.  When I met my youngest son, he was fifteen months old- developmentally he was nine months.  He could not walk or talk.  His crawling was stiff and mechanical.  He could not eat solid foods.  When he smiled, the room brightened.  His laughter was a balm for my soul.  How could I not rejoice in him?  How could I expect him to join his peers on the growth chart back here in the states or be disappointed that he couldn’t eat a french fry or toddle across the room?

Years later, surgeries, solid food, running, schooling the comparison crevasse loomed underneath me, beckoning me to fall into the deep dark painful trap that sucks in parents and children alike, bruising them, opening old wounds, digging angrily into old scars.

Why is he a grade behind?
He doesn’t know his phone number?
I don’t think he belongs in this class, he just can’t understand the material.
Why isn’t he playing with the others?

Don’t fall in.  It’s a consuming sludge that covers mind and heart.  Escape.

Each of us desires praise for effort, not salt on an old wound. If-you-can’t-say-anything-nice-don’t say-anything-at-all doesn’t work with children from hard places.   Say something!

Good job trying!
You can do it!
Remember when you couldn’t _________, now you can!
Look how great you are doing.

All of our children have scars.  Everyone has a story with a plot that is playing out at this very moment.  Will the main character win?  Overcome? Become what he is meant to be?  We parents are supporting characters in our children’s stories.  Are we the wicked step-mother?  The evil queen?  Or are we like Much Afraid’s helpers (Hind’s Feet on High Places) helping her along, supporting her until she can walk on her own?  Are we a Mordecai to an orphaned Esther- protecting,advising, training, admonishing and then praying and fasting her through when she must attempt the impossible, life-risking task to safe her people?

Let’s resolve to release our children from the little boxes and play a supporting role in their story!

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.  Jeremiah 29:11 (Amplified)

Expectations

Week 2 of Biblical Relationships – Adoptive Families

“Early on, people speak of them as “saints”. As time goes by, the child’s disturbance begins to emerge. The parents’ struggles and frustrations are revealed, and people pull away. They become judgmental, nonsupportive, and unsympathetic. These once “saintly” families withdraw, afraid to tell people what they are really going through. They think, “Who will understand?” “How could such a sweet child be so much trouble?””- Parenting the Hurt Child

People have expectations of adoptive families, many of them are erroneous.

The children will be sooooo thankful.
The children will adjust quickly to school and other social situations.
The children are Christians because their parents are.
The children are capable of love.
The children immediately embrace the morals and values of their adoptive families.

When a child from an adoptive family steals, practices immoral behavior, acts out in violently – it is bad parenting. Is it? Yes, but not the adoptive parents ineptness. These kids have been parented by the ways of the world, communism, hunger, lack, violence and incest. How many years does it take to overcome bad parenting?

Expectation.
The expectation of extended family and church family includes the list above. Being part of a family who attends church sets unrealistic expectations on the adopted family. It can cause one situation after another followed eventually by isolation and withdrawal of the family. A child who has stolen food to survive may steal for years before the habit is replaced. Where will he steal? The place he is most comfortable -home and church.

There must be a death to false perceptions. Adoptive parents need support, not judgment.

Follow my blog buddies in their two week trek into Biblical Relationships!

Tracey, Audrey, Charli

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