Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dyslexia and a Discovery

Wow! So, it's been two and a half YEARS since I last wrote! Yikes! Life gets crazy.

Update: We've moved to a new state, have a new church, a new life really. I have a new pack of kids to mother and am happy where the Lord has moved us. There is much I could say about this new place God has brought us too but today my heart was burdened to share something else He brought into our lives.

My Abby, my middle baby, at the end of second grade was not reading. She never picked up a book on her own, she got nervous when asked to do reading exercises, and couldn't even recognize many of the letters of the alphabet. I was frustrated, I was worried, I did not understand. Abby was smart, she excelled at other things, she was unique, anything she did always stood out from the crowd. So, why couldn't she read?

And then THE day came. The day I realized that she hardly ever wrote her name properly. She had all the letters but how they went down changed form day to day. Sometimes, she wrote it backwards, sometimes its was "yabb", or "baby", or "bbay" etc.. and something clicked. The word Dyslexic popped into my head. Of course! Why hadn't I see it sooner?

I gave her a test. If she got at least 80%, she was fine. She scored 20%. While she took the test, my heart saddened. She got so confused! Her brow wrinkled, she bounced and fidgeted as she tried to make sense of what she saw. She frowned, her eyes teared, and she would look at me with that helpless scared look that makes your heart break. It was one of the saddest moments we've had but yet, the most beautiful. I finally knew, and knowing meant I could help.

Since then (It's been nearly two years) I researched ways to teach a dyslexic child to read and implemented them. We found what worked for her (not all methods work for all dyslexics) and this past year Abby has started reading on her own for pleasure and she can read well with understanding. However, her spelling is terrible. Awful! Not even close! She will dump random letters in the middle of words, letters are backwards, capital letters are used willy-nilly. Sometimes, she doesn't even use any letter that is actually in the word.

Example: Recently, she spelled the word "cattle" as "catcate"and the word "country" as "conther" "paper" as "papfn". Last week she spelled the word "by" as "louhta"...I'm not joking. That day was a bad day where her dyslexia reared its ugly head in every subject. So, I decided it was time for more research.

One of the librarians at our local library gave me a book about Dyslexia that got into the nitty-gritty of the medical scientific info. The "glitch" in the dyslexics brain that makes it so they cannot recognize or retain letters and words and how it affected other areas. It was fantastic! It was daunting! It was horrible! It made me want to cry. Challenges I had half noticed in her school work as we progressed were magnified. The quirk of the dyslexic brain also make it hard for them to recall and speak words of more than one syllable. It makes it hard to retain specifics like dates and names. It's nearly impossible to learn a second language. Spelling is always "disastrous" spelling. The list went on and on and nearly all them I had noticed in my daughter!

I had a "moment". I had to go to WalMart and I went by myself. I was overwhelmed. I tried to keep from crying the whole drive as I prayed. I parked and just sat clenching the steering wheel with my hands and praying, "God, I don't know what to do! I'm not prepared for this! I barely had correct instruction myself! I can't!"

And then God brought this truth to my heart. He gave me my daughter on purpose, He planned her from before the universe had existence, from before the first human walked this earth, there was my Abby, in His heart, in His plan. He gave her to me to raise, to cherish, to love, to instruct, on purpose.  He brought many Scriptures to me heart like Ps 139 13-16; Is 40: 29-31; Is 41:10, Phil 4:13. He reminded me that I am not a bad mom; it was not my daughters destiny to have to claw her way though her childhood like I did. He made me for her. I was her protector, the one who understood her heart because it was so like mine. He did all this on purpose. Trust Him. Now get moving!

So, I did. I got out, I got my shopping done and I went back home refreshed in spirit and ready do everything I needed to do so my Abby would thrive. I prayed nearly continuously. I searched the internet for more techniques. I thought, I pondered, I processed. I went to bed still thinking and then right before I drifted off a thought struck me.

Because the dyslexic brain uses the right side to read and process language instead of the left they tend to be tactile, and it can help to spell out words by finger tracing. One method has them tap down their arm as they spell out loud to help grasp letter order. All the things I read mushed up in my brain and two words grabbed me. Sign language.

Sign language is visual but it also tactile. People who are deaf and blind use it to communicate purely by touch. Could learning the sign for words and letters make a "patch" in her brain and enable her to spell or recall specific dates more easily? Could the pure muscle memory of fluent signing unlock some of her language barriers? I didn't know but it was worth a shot.

Thanks to an interest in sign language from first reading about it in "The Baby-Sitters Club" books (I know, right?!) and then volunteering for a week in a deaf school, I have limited fluency so I was set to begin. I thought at one point I would work with deaf children but God had a different plan for my life and I often wondered why he had put that interest in my heart. I'm not that sort to be weirdly mystical and have to have all life's threads neatly tied together but maybe my interest had been for this all along. Maybe it was always meant to be for my Abby.

The very next day I implemented my idea. I taught her the alphabet. She mastered it quickly, the only letter giving her repeated trouble being the "u". Interestingly, the letters that did not resemble their written counterpart in any way, were easier for her to master. Today, we began spelling by first spelling the word out loud with corresponding signs, repeating them until it came naturally, and then signing as she wrote. IT WORKED! She spelled the word "bunny" by herself and was so excited she spelled it again, just for fun!

Will it work tomorrow? We'll see. Will it work for bigger things? I don't know. This process is slow no matter what technique is used. Next week we will begin to learn the signs for the months of the year and the finger spelling to see if it helps her remember those pesky dates. I am not an expert, I'm not saying this will work for everyone. This is not a miracle cure. I just wanted to share what I had discovered because teaching a dyslexic child is hard and exhausting. Any help is worth sharing because today, my daughter wanted to spell  more words. She was excited and happy! She was confident and proud instead of tentative and ashamed!

 So, to all those who might be struggling with teaching their special needs child. Keep going! Keep thinking! Keep innovating! Your child is worth it! Your work will be rewarded! God made and gave you that child on purpose and He will equip you as you trust Him! Now get moving!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Burden, My Blessing

Well, it's been awhile. Life has been so crazy busy I have not sat down to write. Honestly, I have had SO much to write about but have simply not had the time to write because our life is so full! So, what made me finally sit down and write a paragraph or two? I'll tell you. His name is Joshua.
My husband is the pastor of a small church and as the youngest woman in the church I do most of the children's ministries. This is incredibly filling and also, incredibly draining. Some days, I want to set the house on fire and run through the woods screaming like a mad woman. I do! Sunday night, however, reminded me why it is such an honor and a gift it is to be in the position that God has put me in.
My house is on the main road in our small town (we have one small convenience mart and a garage, and that is all), everyone walks by it. My house is next door to the church and we have a big piece of land with a paved pavilion and a little swing set. My backyard has become the neighbourhoods gathering place for children. As soon as I release my children in the backyard the kids come running.
Last night for the last twenty minutes of church I took the kids outside with some sidewalk chalk. Across the street there is house where a half dozen children live (I still haven't quite figured out the family situation) and they were out playing. These kids had attended our VBS and a few of them come over for the Wednesday night club and I was hoping if we were outside they would join us.
After a few minutes one of them came scampering over. After we finished our church club I let the kids play in my backyard. Two more of the kids came over while I watered the gardens. Our hose hook up sprays quite a bit and they started running under it very happy to get a little wet. I thought about telling them not to get wet but then I decided to do something much more fun and turned the hose on them!
They immediately began running around and squealing with glee! It was a lot of fun and after a few minutes one of the boys came up to me and started to chat a little. This boy, his name is Joshua, he came to VBS and was one of my "problem" boys. He had trouble listening, he was loud, he didn't like to participate, and sometimes he would make fun of others. He was difficult and the one day he didn't come I was ashamed to be a teensy bit relieved.
I asked him if he started school the next day and he replied, no, because he wasn't sure what school he was supposed to go to. His father moved around a lot and he lived with his mom sometimes and no one was knew which school to put him in. I prayed for wisdom as he stood beside me, dripping wet and looking vulnerable. I took a deep breath and told him my mom had been the same way, always moving, we maybe stayed six months in one place.
He looked up at me with surprise. I guess our family doesn't look like the sort that would have that kind of background. I held my breath and tried to look casual. He then told me that his dad had gotten custody of him while his mom was in jail and he just wanted to be with his mom because his dad never kept his promises or took care of him and one time he took him into the woods to party where everyone was drunk and getting high. A lady came and took him home and he never wanted to be with his dad again. His mom was hopeful that she could get custody since his dad had taken him to that party.
My heart broke for that boy. I told him, I too had been exposed to situations like that through my childhood, I understood how rotten it was to have to go through that. I knew. He gave me a look that I will never forget, a look of wonder that someone really understood and cared, a look that made me remember my purpose, to love these children with the love of my Heavenly Father.
He ran off after that to play but at the end of the night he said he would come back. I told him anytime my kids were out he could come right over. He ran off with a smile and a wave. I waved until he couldn't see me anymore.
He is eleven years old and is forced to raise himself. I know the feeling well. My heart is burdened for what his life is, the hard lessons he has to learn. His behavior at VBS now makes sense. I can hardly think of anything else as I go through my day and I pray earnestly for that boy and that he will come back. I am burdened but also, incredibly awed. I get to be the one to reach out to this boy, God chose me as His instrument, my hands are the ones that get to show this boy love, and I am humbled.
I hated the way I had to grow up. I was ashamed. I did not want anyone to know I was that kid. The one with the broken home, with the parent who didn't care. The one whose clothes didn't fit right, who was dirty, hungry, and didn't go to school. I was determined when I grew up no one would ever know and I could forget. pretend it didn't happen, but God had other plans.
Yes, good Christian people told me, God will use this, He is preparing you but I didn't want that, I just wanted a loving home with parents I could trust. However, through my adult life God has been teaching me a lesson. I have no right to be ashamed, to hide what I went through because that does not define me. I am the daughter of the King, I am loved, redeemed, restored. What I went through does not make a lesser person, and yes, God was prepareing me for His work.
A person can minister to people even if they have never been through what that person has been through, I don't want to diminish anyones ministry or say you can't minister if your life was fairly "easy". However, I have found my background to open doors with people, especially children. No one guesses when they look at me and my family that I had a bad childhood. They are flabbergasted, they can't believe I'm not in jail or have had multiple boyfriends etc, they can't believe I'm smiling. I point Jesus. It is not me it is Him. He is why I can smile, He is why I am not broken, He is my everything.
I thank and praise God, that when I was a young teen He brought a beautiful Christian family into my life that would not let me become the bitter, angry, hateful girl I was on the road to be. I praise God that this family showed me what real love was, what a real family looked like, how I could be happy no matter what happened around me, how I didn't have to let it scar my character. Thank God for my adopted family, thank God for Christian people willing to reach out. Thank you God.
Now, I am in a position to reach out to children that are just like me. Rescue me their eyes are begging, Love me, make me safe! and my heart responds, I understand! Let me show you that you have a Father Who is waiting to hold you and never let you go.
 Thank God for it! Praise God he has gifted me with this incredible duty. Yes, some days I just want to be left alone. I want to sleep and do stuff I want to do but then I look out my window and see myself in the faces of my young neighbours. Lost, hungry, waiting for someone to show them love and I am reminded my real purpose in life. "You are the light if the world" "Go into all the world and preach the gospel" "Love your neighbor" "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
My burden, my blessing. These small, forgotten, unwanted children. I must show them the verse that reached me when I thought no one saw or cared. "For my father and my mother have forsaken me,but the Lord will take me in." Psalm 27:10. I must show them the love of the Father who will never let them go. My Father, My God, My Saviour.
Pray for my Joshua, pray for the Joshua's around you. Thank God for the blessing of being His hands and His light in this world of darkness! It can be wearying but we must pray to never grow tired, we must pray for renewed strength and passion and continue because this world will not last forever and it is our duty to spread The Light while we can. "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Grandpa

This morning my Grandpa heard the key unlock the door to Paradise. I'll not say it's easy for those of us left on the other side of the door because that would be lying, it's still hard. I miss him.
Last summer we went out to visit Grandpa Pete and it was beautiful. I hadn't realized how much I had talked about him to my kids until I saw Katie react to being at his house. When we pulled up and got out of the van she took a deep breath and said "Finally! I'm here!". Throughout the visit she ran around the house exclaiming over the things I loved. The doorbell, the porch swing, the basement, the bridge, the gardens, and most of all Grandpa Pete.
The three of them made Grandpa cards this week and they surprised me again by drawing things they knew he loved. Katie drew him and her on the bridge with a cardinal and then taking a walk with his old teddy bear Bocacephas. Abby too, drew the legendary teddy bear. I was always afraid my children would never know their great grandparents and how wonderful  they were. I wanted them to know how much they meant to me growing up especially when I was older and taken far away how they never let me be lost to them. When they showed me the cards I realized that somehow just by talking about Grandpa in everyday conversation they had learned about him and loved him.
What made him such a great grandpa so that when I was 5 I firmly believed he was Santa? It's hard to sum up, in fact it would be impossible but I'll give it a try anyway. When I went running up tot he door Grandma was there waiting with a lip stick kiss. Grandpa sang silly songs and had one for every occasion. Special toys always ready for me. A beautiful back yard filled with flowers, birds, gardens, brick pathways and fun. Old homemade movies to watch while I sat on grandpa's lap and heard about all those wonderful people. The biggest Christmas tree in the world, cookies, fudge, roller skates, dominoes, cook outs, tomatoes, was magic. Why? Because He loved me and he let his klutzy, bouncy, silly little granddaughter follow him everywhere and when she crawled up into his lap there was always a warm embrace waiting for her. Yeah, of all those things that was the best, sitting in his lap, knowing he loved me, falling asleep in his arms. My Grandpa.
Now he is in heaven with his Lord, his wife and all the people who went before him. When my dad called this morning church was letting out and just as he told me Grandpa was gone the bells began to play. Even as I struggled with sadness I was awed by the thought that just a few hours ago Grandpa had heard similar and even more beautiful music as the gate of heaven was thrown open for him. I miss him and will continue to miss his presence here but I know he is in Paradise and is enjoying perfection and it brings my heart comfort. As Abby said, "He is going to have so much fun, forever!". Someday, I'll see him again because I too have trusted Jesus to save me and oh what a promise that is! It gives me hope and comfort. One day when the door unlocks for me I'll be greeted by my God, my child, my Grandma, and my Grandpa and that is a very good thing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mournful Joy

Four years ago today I miscarried my baby. Yesterday I found out my Grandpa only has weeks to live. This has been a hard weekend. To be truthful I am tired, so tired. I didn't want to have to do today. Last night I begged God for strength to leave the house and have to be in the company of people when really what I wanted to do was hide until I could conquer my sorrow.
My grandpa is amazing. When I was little I followed my Grandpa everywhere; I loved talking to him and listening to his stories. When he came to visit us he always brought me tomatoes and green peppers from his garden. Whenever I smell a tomatoe on the vine in the store I think of him! When we visited last summer it had been a long time since I had been to his house. Walking in, spending time with him, rediscovering all of the little things I had almost forgotten; I felt like I had found the puzzle I had been missing from. I felt I made sense there.
My grandpa is a Christian man; I know when he closes his eyes for the last time here he'll open them the next moment in heaven. My Grandma is waiting for him there. I know my baby opened her eyes for the first time in heaven and beheld the glory of God. This is beautiful; but for the ones left here it also has a tinge of sorrow. Mournful joy.
"My soul melts with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant." Psalm 119:28 & 76
"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort to me...Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" Psalm 23: 1-4;6
God does not promise to throw hardships in your path and leave you there dying in them. He is the Good Shepherd, He leads you; He carries you; He comforts you because He loves you; because He is good, and  because He is faithful. I have found Him faithful and I wouldn't to walk through life without Him.
The pain of losing a child whether during pregnancy or later, never goes away. The pain of losing someone you love doesn't either. Yes, I am still sad, my heart aches but the love of God never fades, His comfort is real and He'll walk with me through every heartache and in the end carry me home. For the Christian death should not be a horror but rather a home-going: "it is not death to hear the key unlock the door".


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blingy Bird Feeders!

Tonight the kids at church and I made these fun bird feeders!
They went together pretty easy and looked really cool! All you need is some screen (I used the screen from a torn window screen) a plastic embroidery hoop, wire, and fun beads! Cut the screen in a circle bigger than the hoop and put in the hoop just like you would with cross stitch fabric, before tightening the hoop stick three long wires between hoops (about 2 ft in length each) spacing them evenly, tighten and trim excess screen. Hang outside and fill the screen with birdseed!

String pretty beads on the three wires until there is about 5" of bare wire left. Twist three wires together and then stick on a bigger bead and push it down to the top of the bead strings. Twist a pipe cleaner around the bare wire and the twist to form a hoop!

I helped the kids secure the screen and the wire but mostly, they did it all themselves! Even Erik could string the beads on the wire! They were all very proud of themselves and overjoyed with how they're bird feeders turned out!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Easy Crayon hearts! Simply put old broken crayons into a Reynolds fun shape cupcake holder (about 2 layers of crayon), put it on a cookie sheet and slip it into a 250 degree oven for about 10-20 min. Let cool. When about half way cooled poke a whole in the top of the heart and insert hanger. Let finish cooling and then peel away the foil!

You can also use metal cookie cutters, just be sure line your cookie sheet with foil so the crayon doesn't make your sheet yucky!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Katie's Easter Dress!

It was impossible this year to find Katie an Easter dress that was both decent and decently priced so I decided to dust off the ol' sewing machine and have a go at it myself!Katie chose the buttons and pattern from the store and the fabric from my stash. Abby's Easter dress is store bought and I was determined to make Katie's as fancy looking as Abby's!

This dress is fitted so I couldn't cheat and simply and make a tie to fit her tiny waiste! After much fussing, I trimmed, sewed, and trimmed and sewed some more to get the dress to fit her slim frame without making it too uncomfortable for her to wear or going completely crazy myself! I assure you it was some kind of miracle!This is not Abby's Easter dress but she wanted her picture taken and Katie decided to jump in!
I'll be taking more pictures of the girls on Easter of course but I was fairly pleased how the dress couldn't wait to share!