By Peggy Ployhar

As humans we instinctively know we need to pray.  When tragedy strikes we ask for prayer, we gather to grieve and cry out, and our hearts seek healing from beyond what we can see, feel, and touch.  But, the biggest tragedy is that we don’t practice praying much when things are going well in our lives. We forget we have needs and large voids we can’t fill on our own.  The biggest void I could not fill through my own self-determination was the one created by the damage my parenting anger had created in my own life and in my relationships with my children.

 

 

 

A Spiritual Battle

Parenting anger at its core is a spiritual battle, and therefore prayer is fundamental to changing parenting anger and bringing about healing, in both the parent and the child. Prayer alone brought forth this healing in my life.  How? By ushering forgiveness and restoration to places grace alone could reach.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer is about asking, but it is more than that.  It is also about seeking something greater and desiring for it to come into our lives and change our nature; the nature which often brings us to the place where we realize our need for forgiveness and healing.  And, prayer is about submitting to that change by pursuing it with tenacity rather than pursuing our natural inclinations or good intentions.

 

 

 

 

A Plea for Change

When I decided in my heart that I no longer wanted to live with the rages I often experienced, I started to pray for God to change my heart and to heal my relationships with my children with more vigor than I ever had before.  My prayers went from “stop this” to “change me.”

 

Change was slow, but every time God revealed a new lesson I then prayed for His help to heal me, change me, and restore me.  When I backslid in carrying out this new lesson, I sought out His forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of my children, and we prayed together for God to help us accept His grace and do better the next time. I also started to make it a point to pray with my children when they met with failure in their own battles.

 

 

 

Fundamental to Change

Prayer was fundamental in keeping us moving forward, in giving us the strength to keep going on, to accepting our imperfect natures, and in realizing all the more our need for a Savior and a constant help as we navigated life with a desire to become less angry and hurt and more loving and compassionate—more like our heavenly Father.

 

When I started this series on parenting anger, I never could have imagined this process would take so long to complete and I would have so much to share.  If this is the first article in this series you have read, I would highly recommend you go back to the beginning and digest each article one at a time. Savor the wisdom God shared with me as I healed through my own struggle and allow the lessons to go not just to your head, but also your heart.

 

 

 

My prayer for you is that you don’t give up, on yourself or your children.  The struggle to change and grow in this ability is worth the battle, and the best part is that God will be fighting right alongside you all the way.

 

By Debbi L. White

Establishing annual family traditions builds security in children. It makes memories but does more than that. It creates a family culture that helps formulate its identity, which is important to our children as they grow into independent individuals. Family traditions help our children know who they are and where they come from.

 


Importance of Family Traditions in my Childhood

When my brother Jimmy and I awoke early on Christmas morning, there were matching pajamas and stockings stuffed with gifts at the foot of our beds. The night before we had been given firm instructions to change into our new pj’s and to quietly go through our stockings until the sun came up. (Those were very slow, grueling hours!) Although the contents of our stockings changed each year, we could always count on finding an orange and a silver dollar in the toe.

 

At the hint of daybreak, we were allowed to awaken our parents. However, we were not to enter the living room or even peek down the hall! While Dad set up the movie camera and lights, Mom combed our hair and made sure we were presentable. When the signal was given, we ran down the hall and began tearing into the piles of gifts!

 

Every summer we vacationed in Ocean City, Maryland for a week. We always stayed at the Hastings Miramar hotel on the boardwalk. Dad would spend the days on the pier fishing, and Mom went to the beach. My brother and I could decide which place we would rather go. After late afternoon baths, we would all go to the hotel dining room and sit at our assigned table for the evening meal. That was always followed by a stroll down the boardwalk for rides, games, and treats.

 

My parents separated when I was 10 and Jimmy was 8. These family traditions are among the cherished memories of my childhood.

 

 

Importance of Family Traditions for My Children
After my husband and I had children, I thought it important to establish our own traditions. I wanted to build structure not only in my daughters’ days but also in their years. I desired that they feel a strong sense of unity as a family, and be able to look forward to various events that we created annually.

 

When our firstborn outgrew the hand-me-down baby clothes that had been given to us, I began making her toddler clothes. This was done as much out of love as it was out of necessity. However, after our second daughter arrived, there was little time to sew, so I became more of a bargain shopper. I didn’t want to totally give up sewing, though, so I continued to make their dresses for Christmas and Easter. Fortunately for me, the girls loved lots of ruffles and ribbons and lace! When they got a little older, they would help pick out the patterns and fabric. It was such fun! That became a tradition that continued into their teens.

 

Being in the ministry, we did not live near any family. Sometimes relatives joined us for the holidays, but if not, we would invite folks from the community – especially for Thanksgiving. My husband had insisted early in our marriage that I make pie crusts from scratch. That was a bitter pill for me to swallow, but it didn’t take long to master the skill. The day before Thanksgiving was spent pie making. Everyone got to suggest their favorite pie, so it was not unusual to make 9-11 pies! The girls helped, of course!

 

There was plenty of pie so we could have some for Thursday breakfast as we tore bread for stuffing, and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. As the table was set, three pieces of candy corn were put on each plate. Every person had to tell at least three things they were thankful for before we began eating. Several years I gave pieces of paper to each family member prior to the meal so that they would have time to reflect on what they were especially thankful for that year. I’ve held on to those papers, and they’ve become precious keepsakes as well as reminders of what transpired in years past and what my daughters prioritized.

 

Certain decorations, music, and movies can be incorporated into annual celebrations. My daughters enjoyed watching Rudolph while decorating the Christmas tree. We always got a real tree, usually on Black Friday. There was a certain order it had to be decorated in, too!

 

Christmas Eve we rode around and looked at the lights, came home and had hot chocolate and opened one gift. The next morning I always had prepared a special Christmas Tree Danish which we ate while reading the Christmas story. (Some years the girls acted it out.) Then we took turns going around opening one gift at a time, first from the stockings, and then from under the tree. A traditional gift was a special ornament for each daughter commemorating something from that year. (I wanted to start a collection of ornaments for them to take with them when they started their own homes.)

 

My parents took my brother and me to Ocean City every year for our annual vacation, and I carried on that tradition with my daughters. Instead of staying at the old hotel on the boardwalk, we established the tradition of staying at the Plaza, a condo that has indoor and outdoor pools. Because we homeschooled, we were able to get discounted rates after Labor Day each year, and the crowds were thinner, too! My daughters are now grown and married and live in different states, but they make it a priority to return to the Plaza every September.

 

Unfortunately, our family was broken when the girls were young, as was mine. But the family traditions continued and gave them security in things that we could keep the same.

 

 

Importance of Family Traditions in Your Family
The possibilities for creating your own family traditions are endless and can range from simplistic to extravagant. If you’ve not yet established holiday traditions, check out Pinterest, or books on the subject. Two books that have been an asset to me in establishing traditions are Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson’s Let’s Make a Memory and Thanksgiving A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. Ask friends what they do, or just powwow and brainstorm with your family. It’s never too late to start creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

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By Peggy Ployhar

In the previous article in this series on parenting anger, I mentioned this next step is the glue which helps hold the integrity and authority changes in your parenting in place. Here is why this step plays such an essential role in repairing any disconnect with your child when your parenting anger has caused division in the past.

Judgment by Reaction
Looking at our children through a lens that is not personally judgmental can be very difficult. We tend to have strong feelings for how much we desire to see our children succeed. These strong feelings can easily be read by a child through nonverbal communication. When our body language shows we are nervous, stressed, or even bothered when a child fails, our reaction passes along judgmental overtones. These reactions, if repeatedly observed by a child, will convey a parent’s inability to accept failure even without any verbal communication.

Most of the time when we struggle with accepting our child’s weaknesses, it stems from our own inability to accept our failures. If you struggle in this area, and in accepting yourself for being less than perfect, then the first thing you need to realize is that failure is an essential part of life which helps us, and our children grow and learn.

Embracing Failure
A while back I wrote an article called Failing to Learn where I stressed the importance of learning how to accept failure as part of the learning process so mistakes can be launching points for more learning instead of roadblocks of further exploration and understanding. With each mistake, we are given the opportunity to see how and why we failed. From there, we must choose to take what we learned in failing, and joyfully move forward in the hope that our next attempt will be better than our last based on what we learned in the last go-around.

When we can change our perspective about failure, the mechanics of accepting our children also becomes much easier. We are more prone to say “oops” when mistakes happen. And, our child’s limitations are given flight to become vehicles for greater discoveries.

When we start to make this shift towards accepting a child’s limitations and working on our responses to their failures, we also need to change our approach in how we redirect our child’s reaction to their failures. This is where the big change in your parenting needs to happen to glue all these elements together…and to prepare for the final steps in cultivating your child’s heart.

The Boxing Ring
When a child sees your reactions to their failures as an attack, you, in turn, will become the object for any out-lash in dealing with internal feelings of inadequacy. You essentially become your child’s punching bag because your reaction comes with a dual meaning. First, it conveys to your child you are safe because your love for them is what caused your reaction to their failure, but secondly, you are also an enemy because your reaction has placed you in their battle zone. Thus, instead of your child taking on the real issues he/she is facing, exposed through failure, your child makes the issue about your relationship.

If you were to view this scenario as a boxing ring, your child would be in the battle of life with you in the same ring. There are many things your child battles each day, but your job as a parent was never to be his opponent. Instead, you have been called to be a coach who can provide fighting strategies for all the important things he fights through in life.

Coaching to Success
By accepting your child’s fight as part of the learning process, and your role as the ever-vigilant coach through this training period in your child’s life, your goal will be to remove yourself from the ring by accepting your child and battles they are up against. Win or lose, you must show you are willing to stick it out while learning alongside as to what works and what doesn’t with failure, and success, leading to the winning strategies.

Each time your child tries to get you into the ring, you must make a dedicated effort to keep your feet out of the battle zone. And when needed, calling a “time-out” a break until your child is ready to receive training instead of taking you on in the ring. Over time this process will become easier, especially as your child starts to see the value of having you working with them to fight these struggles instead of being frustrated, embarrassed, or upset when they fail.

Continue to be Encouraged
In my next article, we are going to continue with the next step in the process of cultivating your child’s heart, which is forgiveness. Until then, make sure to keep fighting the good fight alongside your child and make sure you are getting the encouragement you need to keep pressing on. 

One way you can get exclusive resources and a monthly dose of encouragement in your inbox is by subscribing to the SPED Homeschool newsletter. Also, make sure to check out our podcast channel  or download one of the SPED Homeschool Conversations podcasts on iTunes or Google Play for lots of great content to encourage you in your family life, homeschooling, and special needs parenting.

 

 

By Peggy Ployhar

In my last article in this series, I stated, “Instilling truth into a child’s heart depends on how prepared his/her heart is to receive truth.” Therefore, my next six articles in this series will focus on practical ways to cultivate a child’s heart for truth. I will base everything I discuss in this cultivating section of the series upon the previous methods I have shared in the earlier articles of this parentinganger series.

My prayer is as we slowly work through each of these steps, you will find how practical and healing God’s way of handling our parenting anger can be when we use it towards building godly character in our children. Also, as you apply each of these cultivating steps, you will see how they work to bridge relational gaps that parenting anger may have created in your home. So, we start with ourselves: parental integrity.

Integrity and Trust
The reason I start with integrity is because a child only accepts a parent’s instruction as much as they can trust that parent. Also, integrity is essential in breaking the protective crust a child builds up when situations have trained them to distrust…which often happens when a child lives with a parent who has a short fuse.

If a child can trust their parent, they will gladly absorb what that parent has to teach. Everything we teach our children hinges upon how much they trust us. If we cannot work on this basic foundation of our relationship with our child, much of our homeschooling and parenting instruction will be for naught. We are also more likely to see our children look to other places for truth instead of looking to us. Over time the relationships we were hoping to so tightly control with our misdirected anger will be the first things we lose the ability to influence.

An Integrity Check
A person of integrity is someone who can be trusted to do what they say they will do. They are not someone who uses excuses and their actions and lives are aligned with the priorities they say they value. Day in and day out, no matter what, a person with integrity can be trusted. This doesn’t mean they are perfect, but it means they are trying all the time.

Let me ask you, is this how your children see you? Do you live in a manner consistent with your public persona? Or, do you change your character once you get behind closed doors or within the sanctuary of your home and family?

Children will determine how trustworthy their parents are based on what they see them do and how they live either according to their word or apart from it. What a parent says about who they are holds negligible weight if it differs from how their child sees them behave.

Reversing Your Parental Integrity
As a young parent, I did a very poor job of establishing integrity with my children. My anger was the biggest obstacle to developing integrity with my children because while I would tell them I loved them, I would not act in accordance with my words when I blew my top.

As I started sorting out my anger issues, I made a concerted effort to build up my integrity in the eyes of my children. To do this, I first created a mantra, “I love you no matter what.” And then I lived it out, by God’s grace, one day at a time…praying a lot along the way. I followed the process of taking steps to work through my anger episodes just as I talked about in the previous articles in this series (see the listing below at the bottom of this article).

My oldest son tested this fresh approach more than his siblings because he and I shared many ugly battles where I could not keep my integrity in check. Yet, every time he pushed me, I followed the pattern of identifying my trigger, keeping myself busy and praying, looking for God’s escape door, shifting my focus, and seeking the lessons that needed teaching while telling him, “I love you no matter what.”

I wish I could say my son started believing me right away, but it took months of repeating this cycle and him testing the boundaries of my ability to act towards him just as I said I would. But then the day came and the memory of this transformation in his heart still brings tears to my eyes.

It was a beautiful summer day, and we were outside playing in the yard when my son again tested my integrity boundaries. I can’t even remember what he did, but what I remember was what he did and said after I told him, “I love you no matter what,” and followed through with my anger in check.

He put his chubby hands on his hips and looked straight into my eyes and said to me, “You really mean it don’t you?” From that day on things changed in how I could speak into my son’s life. No, he didn’t stop testing my boundaries, but he started trusting me.

I encourage you if you feel like all hope is lost with your children because of your past inability to handle your anger. There is a way to repair those relational gaps and instilling integrity is the first step in the healing process.

Stay Connected with SPED Homeschool
Next time I will talk about authority and how to practically work on establishing a godly form of authority in your home that will strengthen the integrity bridge you are working on.

Until then please make sure to connect with us at SPED Homeschool on our  weekly live Facebook broadcast, in our support tribes , or by emailing us with any questions you would like to have us help you walk through as you homeschool your child with special educational needs.

 

 

 

By Cammie Arn

What do you think of when you see a puzzle piece?

I am always fascinated how those unique pieces with different shapes only provide glimpses of the full picture they are forming. And how many times it is usually not the picture I first imagined.

This is how I see the family of God. Each person is handcrafted by God to fit together with the rest of the body.

Society today screams at us that we can do it all and be all the pieces of the puzzle ourselves.

I disagree.

We were intended to use our uniqueness to benefit others and be part of the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

In observing the unique nature of puzzle pieces, I realize they are all different, some more so than others. They have different boundaries, different colors, different ways of connecting with other pieces, and different places they fit to make the puzzle come together.

Likewise, we all have different perspectives and roles. One is not better than the other, but all are needed to connect and finish the bigger picture. Only when the bigger picture comes together is the image on the puzzle finally revealed.

Unity happens when the picture is complete.

Unity in the body of Christ happens when we allow others to use their God-given gifts to minister to one another. We have to be careful not to think others are to be just like us. No person is like another, just like no homeschool mom is like another homeschool mom. We all need to be just like Christ in the unique way He is making us as part of His kingdom.

Only by allowing God to shape and mold us can we fit into the exact place He has for us. This may mean we are ”rubbing shoulders” with some unexpected people and being called to come together with others who are not at all like us. That is okay. 

Coming together in our uniqueness is what sets us apart from the world. We choose not to fall into comparison traps or in judging others on their walk with God.

Instead, we strive only to be like Christ. That is when we each fit perfectly in the kingdom and perfectly into God’s bigger picture.

Would like to be part of a community of special education homeschooling families who will love you as you rub shoulders through the ups and downs of special education homeschooling life? Then ask to join your regional SPED Strong Tribe or the SPED Homeschool Facebook Support Group.  I will see you there!

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

In my previous article, in this series on parenting anger, I talked about the Parenting Anger Escape Door and hinted to the fact that it is “a gateway to developing godly character in both you in your children.” Once I discovered how God’s escape door for my ugly anger episodes could actually help both me and my children, I have never looked at my sinful nature the same. I hope what I have to share with you below will leave you feeling the same about your struggle and encourage you to keep pressing on.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20

Yes, God makes wonderful masterpieces out of life’s messes, and I am excited to share with you how He does just that with our misdirected parenting anger.

Blurred Vision
Once I started training myself to not pick up the rope and instead turn to braiding the whip (if you don’t know what I am talking about, you will have to go back to the previous article in this series), my parenting vision cleared up considerably.

Anger had blurred my perception of effective parenting strategies. Instead of working productively to train my children, my desire to control their actions slowly crushed their spirits. When I finally stepped back, it was glaringly clear how much I needed to change my approach.

A Natural Warning Light
But checking our own behavior is only half the battle. The other half comes when we confront training our children due to the lack of character we are alerted to in their lives.

A lack of godly character will always make our internal righteousness meter go haywire. This is God’s way of showing us we need to take notice of a situation which lacks godly character. And, if you remember from the last article in this series, indicates a lesson needs to be taught.

Taking God’s parenting anger escape door leads us to the perfect starting place where this character training lesson should start. We first pray and use our energy to seek God and His training lesson, and in doing so we discover the most impactful and eventually fruitful way to help our children develop strong godly character.

Building Solid Boundaries
When I am speaking to a group and get to this part in my talk, I take out three objects: a shoebox, a flat piece of cardboard, and a ping-pong ball. First, I show my audience how the ping-pong ball is extremely difficult to keep on top of the flat piece of cardboard. I point out how the lack of edges on the board leaves nothing to stop the ball from going off the edge. Then, I contrast that example with a ping-pong ball being securely held inside the shoebox, making sure to point out the high sturdy sides that allow this containment.

I use these examples because I want parents to understand that as we teach our children lessons in godly character, we are essentially giving them a building block to add to their natural boundaries. For a child instructed in righteousness, and given lots of building blocks, they instinctively know when to stop (just like the ping-pong ball) because those walls have been built over time and through many independent lessons that have stacked up sturdy boundaries for godly living. But, for a child who is only held back from the edge and controlled from doing wrong, they are not provided those blocks and instead when left without someone to hold them back from the edge will topple off just like the ping-pong ball on the flat piece of cardboard.

My demonstration may seem too extreme for those of you who have a younger child who is still close by and working on these skills, but when your child grows into his/her teen years and then moves into adulthood, you will realize how critical it is to have laid boundaries with strong and solid blocks of godly character. Those boundaries will spare you and your child much larger heartaches and pain than the training process could ever bring into your lives.

In my next article, I will be giving you some very practical how-to instructions on instilling godly character into your children using these blocks. But, in the meantime keep working on walking away from the rope, braiding the whip and seeking God for a clearer vision of how He is alerting you to character flaws through your natural anger meter. With a resolute desire to seek His escape door and readiness to grow in godly character along with your children, you will be well on your way to conquering your parenting anger.

 

 

 


By Dyana Robbins

Previous articles I have written have focused on the great blessings that can grow from a special-needs marriage  and how to create an environment for your marriage to thrive. This final article in the series offers some help for marriages poised to fall.

Our marriages endure more pressures and strains as we parent special-needs children or have disabling conditions of our own. We need to look for marital danger signs and interventions to turn our marriages around. The information is drawn from my personal experience and time working as a counselor with families seeking help.


Recognizing the Danger Signs

To launch a rescue of any kind, one must recognize and define the danger. Here are some signs that your marriage is suffering:

  • Effective communication has ceased or is limited to only a few “safe” topics.
  • The marriage has a “business-like” feel to it. You are getting the work done but fun, easy companionship, shared goals, and activities are lacking.
  • You no longer seek one another first for sharing griefs, joys, or events of your day. Your first thought is to contact someone who will better understand you.
  • You are sharing a deeper emotional connection with another person of the opposite sex.
  • Sexual intimacy has waned or stopped. You might be having fantasies of an extra-marital affair or lack sexual desire at all.
  • You cannot imagine a future together.
  • One or both of you has escaped into something else. This might be video games, hobbies, social media, work, or substance abuse. This escape temporarily shields you from the pain of the failing relationship and demands lots of time and attention.
  • You have become polarized into different realms of existence due to disability, emotional avoidance, exhaustion, or revenge.
  • You focus on the children disproportionately because it holds you together. Life revolves around them. This tendency can be particularly strong when a child with a disability is in the home.



That is Us…What Can We Do?

First, I hope that you will believe that your marriage does not have to fail even if you have traveled far down that road. I’ve witnessed marriages turn around from affairs, addiction, alienation, and even abusive patterns.

While this article doesn’t provide counsel for your specific situation, it does provide principles and steps that you can apply to your marriage. Most often, you will need support in making the changes, but you can always start today with what you alone can do. The scope of this article does not specifically address the safety requirements for those in abusive situations, so if you are in that position, please seek help to secure your safety first. Without safety precautions, accountability and a willing partner, applying these principles to an abusive relationship would not be advisable. Now, let’s look at how we can turn things around:


1. Be Honest
One of the first things to go when our marriages struggle is honesty. Honesty with ourselves, our spouse, and those around us who can help decreases. The pain is deep and often humiliating. We hide, rationalize, and minimize the problems so that they seem manageable. Healing requires that we expose the wound and let it be treated.

2. Find the Right People to Help You
This might be friends, ministers, counselors, or other professionals. The right people will have the following characteristics in common: 1) ability to listen and identify problems accurately, 2) ability to speak truth lovingly to both of you, 3) wisdom and experience helping others with marital problems, 4) compassion, and 5) appropriate confidentiality.

3. Seek Help and Support Even if Your Spouse Will Not
I hope I am clear in saying this is not gossiping or complaining about your spouse to people who cannot help heal your marriage (especially your children!). This means seeking help and support from those who will safely listen, counsel, pray, intervene, and support your marriage as appropriate. Many marriages have turned around from one spouse changing their role and contribution to the problems.

4. Seek Healing over Validation
It may well be that one of you has done more damage to your marriage than the other. The desire to be validated as the one who is “right” can be very strong. This desire wars against the things that actually do heal your marriage. Turning your marriage around relies not on assigning appropriate blame, but on identifying problems, their solutions, and offering mutual forgiveness.

5. Humble Yourself
It hurts to hear how you have disappointed your partner. It hurts to speak of how they have hurt you. It hurts to talk of gasping dreams and desires. Pain is inescapable: We have a choice between the fruitful pain that healing requires or the agonizing pain of doing nothing. If we have to feel pain, let it come from laboring towards healing, not in passively letting our marriages fail.

6. Commit to Loving Acts Towards Your Spouse
This does not mean being a doormat. This means showing love in practical ways that matter to your spouse. While this doesn’t fix everything, it does create an environment for hearts to soften and for hope to rekindle.

7. Create and Commit to Regular Time for your Relationship
Special-needs marriages have little free time, but we must create a margin to work on our marriages and prepare to do so for the long haul. We often expect our marriages to heal more quickly than they withered. This is rarely possible. However, with time to implement the above steps, have fun together, and explore new possibilities, your marriage can experience renewal.

8. Put Faith Front and Center
When both spouses are Christians and have a troubled marriage, it is common to hear that they have floundered somewhere in their walk with Christ. This is not always true and we should be careful not to judge without knowledge. That said, it bears earnest consideration when we find our marriages desolate.



The Gifts of Forgiveness, Restoration, and Hope

When we wander from Christ, our marriages are vulnerable. Sin has room to grow. Repentance and forgiveness become strangers to us. Love and charity wane. Before long the burdens and inconveniences of our relationships weigh heavily as we shoulder them alone. Our souls become greenhouses for discontent and strife. We finally look up when our misery has become unbearable and ask “Why?”.

The wonderful promises we have in the gospel apply even here. If we accept grace, repent, and forgive, He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us. Where we have failed; He will be unfailing. Where we can’t love; He will pour His love out over us. Where our hope has died; He can resurrect it.

Our faith in Christ will sustain and comfort us as we labor in a marriage that struggles and isn’t meeting needs. It even gives us the strength to offer what we have received from our spouses as we work towards healing. There is great hope in faith that cannot be seen in our circumstances. Focusing on Christ allows us to see the possibilities for healing and renewal in our marriages.


Reprinted with author’s approval. The original article was published on Dyana’s blog Ambling Grace

 

 


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By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed
 

When many of our friends are becoming somewhat reluctant “empty-nesters,” my husband and I realize that we need to continue homeschooling our children even beyond their graduation. At 19, neither of our special-needs twins can attend college, yet both want to continue learning. Over time, their difficulties have not lessened but increased. We have learned to relax our expectations, but not the quality of our courses or methods.

Cultivating Beyond Conditions
My son has embarked on Introduction to Logic, Introduction to Music Theory, Introduction to Composition, and other classes at home. He learns slowly, but with Socratic questioning and purpose. As his medical conditions progress, he hopes his continued education will strengthen his otherwise weakening mind.

We required years to master Latina Christiana I, but Michael told me, “Latin is so meticulous and systematic, I think it takes my boggled mind and sorts it out.” He added, “I want to study Latin forever.” His twin sister Michelle chimed in, “Me too.” Most of my daughter’s academic abilities never progressed to the level of her brother’s, but she enjoyed beginning elements of each area in the liberal arts, all bathed in truths from theology, the queen of the liberal sciences.

Cultivating Between the Lines
As classical teachers, we want to help our children love truth, goodness, and beauty. We encourage this through the liberal arts, sciences, and the great literature of Western civilization. Each of our children have been able to grasp unique aspects of this.

One day we read  The Merchant of Venice together. My concrete-thinking son understood very little, but Michelle loved Portia’s famous speech on mercy. She played Portia in each scene. When Bassanio (reluctantly played by Michael) noted that outward appearance does not always show inward beauty, Michael paused at the wisdom of this insight. In the play, Bassanio references Troy and Hercules, so we recalled our beginning classical studies.


Cultivating From the Heavens

Hours later the same day, my husband located some star guides and gathered the children. Equipped with binoculars, we all settled in on a big blanket for an early autumn evening of stargazing. On such occasions, we see how all learning comes together in gratifying ways. Lying still in an open field near the woods that night, we marveled at the many clusters of stars in our country sky. My daughter recalled Abraham and the promise about his descendants. My husband identified the constellation, Aquila. Michelle said she knew from Latin it would be an eagle. We smiled to ourselves. My husband pointed out various constellations and the planet Mars. The names of constellations prompted stories from Greek and Roman mythology, and our children know these far better than we do.

Cultivating Shared Experiences
As a family that evening, we all relaxed together, captivated by one of those rare moments that instantly beautify family life. When the darkness deepened in the sky, we spotted the Big Dipper low on the horizon. My husband noted the trapezoid shape of its ladle, and my children agreed. They knew the shape from former geometry studies. He pointed to another constellation, “forty-five degrees from the bright star overhead.” As the children followed his finger, I remembered all the protractors from our many years of basic geometry lessons together. We searched the rugged craters of the moon through our binoculars. My son surprised me by noting the half moon’s appearance as “a perfect semi-circle, with the diameter bisecting the whole.” Then, for a moment, we fell silent.

Cultivating Unceasing Joy
A fall chill descended under those stars. Snuggling our fragile daughter to keep her warm, I appreciated the richness a classical education offers even to children such as ours. If their abilities continue to fade with the progression of their illnesses, we can still enjoy the opportunity to homeschool our children into their adult years. “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.” (Psalm 104:24)

Copied, with author’s permission from Memoria Press

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

I am excited to have finally reached the third article in my series on parenting anger because the information I share below is what finally opened my eyes to the escape door talked about in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

I was familiar with the story of Jesus cleansing the temple in John 2, but one morning I realized this story held the key to escaping my ongoing battle with parenting anger. Since that day, these passages have become some of my favorite in the Bible, because they provided me the escape plan I had desperately prayed for every time I lashed out at my children.

If you are not familiar with this passage, here it is:

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!John 2: 13-16


Problems Trigger Anger
First, I want you to notice something. Jesus saw a problem. If you are unfamiliar with the Jewish law and customs of the temple, it may seem like Jesus’ reaction to the marketplace-type atmosphere was a bit extreme. But, when you learn that the money changers and animal sellers were taking advantage of the people with weighted scales and “temple-approved” animals for sacrifices towards their own advantage, the picture becomes a bit clearer.

Those who had come to fulfill God’s command to worship Him were being swindled by crooked merchants. These merchants were mocking God’s laws and profiting off the people who had journeyed to Jerusalem to dedicate their Passover sacrifice. And it was this injustice that fueled Jesus’ righteous anger.

Now, as parents, we don’t have temples and merchants that make us angry, but we do have a lot of other things that trigger our anger and aggravate how we respond to anger-provoking situations. It may help to look back at those triggers and aggravators from my last article if you did not read it or if you are needing a refresher.

Don’t Take the Bait
The secret to not giving into these triggers is to train yourself to see them, identify them, and then disconnect from them.

When I am speaking to an audience, I use a rope to signify a trigger. When you see the rope and focus on the problem that is causing your anger to rise, you are tempted to go pick up the rope and neatly deal with the situation as you see fit, just like a fish snaps at bait on a fishing line.

At first you may not realize acting upon your anger will tangle you in a sinful response. But, even if you have the initial willpower to step back from the situation for a moment, the more you focus on the problem before you, the greater the pull becomes to act upon it and handle it as you see fit.
 

This is the sinful trap that anger elicits. A temptation to act with a sinful response. To quickly deal with the problem on our own terms, bring justice to the problem we are faced with, and move on from the issue as quickly as we can is the natural human response. But, this is not God’s way of handling problems or how He would desire for us to use the energy we have been given when we see a problem.

An Alternate Option
The key then to turning away from the temptation is NOT to pick up the rope, but instead turn the other direction and do what Jesus did…braid a whip! Yes, you heard me right, but let me explain.
 

The next thing we need to notice from the John 2 passage is the word “when” and the actions that caused a time-lapse in the story. Verse 15 specifically says, “When He had made a whip of cords…” How long do you think it took to gather up long leather strips and braid them, considering the whip was enough of a threat to drive oxen and merchants out of the temple? It had to have been quite a while.

What do you think Jesus was doing while He was braiding? When I contemplated this situation, I was taken back to His habit of always talking to the Father, consulting in His plan and seeking what He was doing in the situation. So it would be most reasonable to consider that He was praying and seeking God’s guidance on how to best handle the problem before Him.

Revealing the Escape Door
Anger comes with a load of energy, but that energy was never intended to be used to enact justice.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

So, what do we do with it? We use it for praying, pressing into God for His plan, and when we need to ensure that we don’t reach out with our own method to take care of the issue, we busy our hands.

Now, you probably aren’t going to braid a whip, but I am sure there are lots of things you can do while you are praying, watching, and listening for God’s direction. Laundry, dishes, yard work, sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms…you get where I am going. These things are great outlets for our anger energy.

And, in redirecting your energy, you have moved towards the escape door, grabbed its handle and have moved away from anger’s sinful trap.

A Door to Godly Character
Your next thought may be the same as mine, “What about the child who was misbehaving that invoked my anger? What do I do with him while I am praying?” You will need to wait for my next article to learn how to handle your child’s side of this scenario, but I promise you it will be well worth the wait.

For now though, I want you to focus on finding those ropes that lead you to sinful parenting anger episodes. Identify them, label them, and practice turning away from them and busying your hands while you pray and seek God. Don’t worry, your child will not turn to the dark side before we get back to addressing his/her issues, but you need to focus on yourself first before you are ready for the next step.

There is much fruit to be gained in taking your time and really working on these steps one at a time. The reason I say this is because the escape door is not a door to nowhere, but a gateway to developing godly character in both you in your children.

So, be encouraged and keep pressing forward.

Plug-In and Stay Encouraged
Please feel free to comment on this article in the forum below, or email us at SPED Homeschool if there is anything you would like to let us know about or help walk you through.

Also, if you are not part of our Facebook support group, I would really encourage you to plug into our community and surround yourself with other families who are homeschooling their children with special educational needs. Having support and knowing you are not alone is important. We know because we have all been there and are willing to encourage you through the places we have been.

 

 

 

Dyana Robbins

As much as special-needs parents understand caring for others, cultivating compassion in our children can be difficult. Sometimes, conditions like autism or mental illness make compassion challenging to develop. Other times, children can become self-centered and focused as they grapple with the pain of their struggles.

Here are some practical strategies to develop this vital characteristic in our families:

1. Intentionally point out and discuss the needs of others

Young people may require direct teaching in this area.  When my sons were toddlers, we had a poster with kids displaying various facial expressions.  Each expression had an emotion attached to it.  We rehearsed this almost daily to help them interpret non-verbal cues, but also to cultivate empathy.

When they were a bit older, we began coaching them in social interactions by telling them how their behavior was impacting their friends or likely perceived in the community.  This direct teaching was used for both positive and negative interactions.  In many ways, I acted as a narrator for their lives during this stage; explaining the world around them and how they were operating within it.

As they have grown, we discuss news events, life events in the people around us and their own experiences in ways that point to not only facts but likely emotional responses that co-occur.  This practice has challenged us to perceive likely needs and emotions that we can respond to as we engage with these situations.

2. Travel, Serving, and Giving

Despite the limitations our families experience, there are ways we can help our children see beyond our walls.  Even trips to the library or stores provide a myriad of ways to really see those around us.  If you are able to travel more broadly, cross-cultural experiences will greatly hone your family’s compassion as you experience being “the others” while being immersed in the struggles of other cultures.

Serving others is possible for almost every child.  Finding ways to do this as a family cultivates compassion in each member.  Food banks, Operation Christmas Child, visiting nursing homes and volunteering in our neighborhoods provide ample service opportunities.  Prayer for others’ needs is always possible even when we are homebound.

Our family’s favorite service place, besides church, has been a local ministry to the homeless called the Mercy Tree.  This wonderful ministry provides lunch in a local church, devotions, laundry service, showers and transportation to those without homes.  As we cook for our friends and eat together, we understand more of a world we have never experienced and our ability to love in those places broadens.

 

 

3. Share great stories!

Powerful stories that transcend their time always include adversity that their characters overcome.  We can link the characters’ struggles to relevant experiences in our lives or those of others.  This helps us not only understand pain, but what is required to face and overcome the type of struggle depicted.  These stories are blueprints to guide us in helping others.

4. Practice gratitude and compassion at home

  • Tell your spouse frequently what you love and appreciate about him/her in front of your children
  • Around the dinner table, have each family member share thankfulness about the person next to them
  • Keep a thankfulness list in a central location and encourage everyone to contribute
  • Each month, assign one family member to select a person or family to serve in some way
  • Invite others into your home
  • Love each other well
  • Find penpals from other countries and exchange letters

 

I hope that some of these strategies encouraged you to find new ways to encourage compassion in your family.  Besides the joy it will bring your children, fostering compassion expands their relationships and equips them to better relate to their communities.

 

 

 


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This article was reposted from www.amblinggrace.com with permission from the author.