Tuesday, December 23, 2014

This Silent Night is a Holy Night

This Silent Night is a Holy Night:
I love meditating on these first 4 words of the wonderful Christmas carol. Silent night, Holy night. Sometimes, the wonderful, earth changing, forever breakthroughs come during a silent night. Think of the silence. So many people went about their daily lives, eating, working, sleeping, without knowing that eternity had broken through to earth and changed everything forever. The Messiah had come. Defeat was at death's door. Hundreds of years of praying for a Savior had brought a baby King. The silent night was a Holy night.

I pray into any silence that surrounds you. May your silent night be filled with Holy breakthrough, angels singing, a new Kingdom come to earth. The silence is filled with Holy plan and purpose, with promise and breakthrough. Nothing will ever be the same for you again...

Luke 2: 6-7 (The Voice)

While in Bethlehem, she went into labor and gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the baby in a blanket and laid Him in a feeding trough because the inn had no room for them.


Hear the angels singing.....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Does God Want To Be For You This Christmas

When I was growing up, I loved traditions at Christmas.  Lights, recipes, songs... all coming together into one magical experience.  As I grew, it was harder to bring every tradition into every Christmas season.  I remember one year, I went to Christmas service and the pastor spoke about letting this Christmas be what it is.  What is this Christmas to us?  Is it a mix of gift and grief?  Are we welcoming new things or saying goodbye to things passing?  

This year has been different, and I am re-deciding to let it be what it is.  We have had some illness, job stress, health issues... Is this what the people felt in Israel when Jesus was born?  

I am asking myself, "What does God want to be for me this Christmas?"  He is coming to be born into my life. Is He coming as my Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, or Prince of Wholeness?  I am asking Him.  I am inviting Him in.  I am letting Christmas be what it is this year... God is coming to the land of deep shadows.

Isaiah 9:1-7 (excerpts)

The Message (MSG)

A Child Has Been Born—for Us!

But there’ll be no darkness for those who were in trouble...The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—    light! sunbursts of light!...For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world.His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God,Eternal Father,Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow,and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Motor Sequencing and Planning: Games for Kids

My 8 year old son has been in Occupational Therapy off and on for many years related to his autistic spectrum diagnosis.  One of the things he often works on is motor sequencing and motor planning.  This involves his ability to put multiple movements together without having to think of each step first.  This can be an area of difficulty in the spectrum, and for many individuals with other developmental conditions and features as well.

Instead of just doing exercises, it is fun to use games that require sequencing. 

Lately, we have been having fun with hopscotch:

We are in mid-winter here, so we actually are using the inside tile floors as a grid for our footwork.  We often don't play exactly by the traditional rules.  We may change up the order of the feet or the number of tiles in between the feet.  We may sing a rhyme while we do it, or try to name colors as we jump.  There are so many possibilities, and it is fun to have him involved in making up a sequence that we try next.

We have also started play hand clapping games:
Remember those good old games where you would chant or sing-song while clapping in a variety of sequences.  They are great for this skill, and can be made as simple or complex as needed. I have been remembering some oldies but goodies, and introducing my son to this style of game.

Here is a great website for ideas and rhymes.  Check it out!

Fun Clapping

And last but not least, stair hopping.

If you have carpeted stairs, try doing hopping sequences up and down the bottom stair.  For example, your child can try right foot up, left foot up, right foot down, left foot down (10 times).  If you have an older child, they may have the strength to hop up with both feet and down with both feet.  Then you can combine for extra difficulty: up with both, down with both, up with right, up with left, down with right, down with left, and repeat. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Conflict Resolution: Bringing It Down A Notch

Everyone has their own way of dealing with conflict.  Some seem energized by the argument and love a good debate.  Others would rather slowly slink away and avoid the tension.  It is very difficult to stay in the middle of those two options in order to balance "staying" while still "working toward de-escalation."

This post is by no means the answer to conflict.  It is not the best advice for everyone and every situation.  But it is something in my toolkit that has been very helpful in interacting with upset or angry individuals in a variety of circumstances.

1. Verbalize the Emotion
Whether you are interacting with a child you parent or with an angry customer, it can be helpful to name their emotion, before you jump into problem solving.  For example, if you have an irate customer, it may be helpful to listen and then say "This has really been frustrating for you."  If you have a child who is stomping their feet, you may want to say "You REALLY want that toy.  It is so hard to wait." 

This accomplishes a few things.  First, it identifies their emotion if they don't realize what it is.  For adults, the person may be reacting to a difficult situation, without realize they are losing control or so irate.  Sometimes verbalizing the feeling let's them know how they impact you and also helps them know that their underlying struggle is identified and heard.  With a child who is just learning about emotions and self-control, you are teaching them what the word is for that emotion and how they could communicate it verbally rather than losing control. 

2. Bring the Word Down a Notch
Once you have identified a word for their emotion, you may wish to bring the word down to a somewhat calmer state.  For example, if the customer is irate, you may wish to say "You are very frustrated right now."  Very frustrated is somewhat calmer than irate, but not so far away from their emotion that they are apt to dismiss your comment.  If they continue to shout but perhaps are calming somewhat, you could say, "I see how upseting this has been.  Let me first address your concern about X."  So, you are now calling them upset, which is a step down from very frustrated. 

Will this help the situation all the time?  No.  Is this the only tool you should have at your disposal?  No.  But sometimes having some ideas for responding helps us avoid either pushing back (and making things worse) or slinking away (which makes things worse too!).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Work Morale: Random Acts of Kindness

After coming into a leadership position at work a year ago, I have tried to focus on work morale.  Some things I have tried have not really seemed to make an impact, while others have seemed fun for a short while but then died out. 

One of the challenges I was having, was activating the staff to take ownership of the work environment themselves, without having much of the focus and energy coming from myself. 

In October, we had an office "retreat" day where we focused on themes and projects that needed our attention as a group.  We usually have 1-2 retreats per year.  At this retreat, we worked on workplace culture.  We developed a culture statement that we have on our bulletin board.

One of the points of the culture statement has to do with generosity.  We talked about the importance of generosity defined as "We withhold no good thing from our patients, colleagues, and community."  We also talked about the value of people: "We recognize the value of individuals, a value that is separate from performance or behavior. People do not 'earn' value by performing with perfection."  This was important in our setting because we work in a highly regulated environment and had also spent quite a bit of time developing expectations for performance.  We needed to separate any thoughts that we value employees only because of "bottom line" issues. 

Random Acts of Kindness
One thing I challenged everyone to do in the office this year, is to do random acts of kindness for their colleagues.  I wanted these to be small acts that were "unearned" by any performance, and that were anonymous.  There would be no dynamic of needing to "repay" someone because they did something nice for you. 

Like some other ideas, I wasn't sure if this one would be embraced by the staff, or feel burdensome.  But, embrace it they have!  This idea has taken off like wildfire.  Not only are people feeling the impact of unexpected kindness, but it has stirred everyone's creativity and innovation.  Employees are thinking of inventive acts of kindness and also inventive ways to "deliver" their kindness.  For example, one employee came in early and used string to rig up a hanging gift for someone as they opened their door. 

What ideas have found successful in your workplace?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Home Decoration Idea: Kid Friendly

My parents have a large window facing the street in front of their home.  When we were growing up, we would tape a message cut out of Christmas wrapping paper: "Happy Birthday Jesus."  Each letter was cut the size of one of the small windows, and when assembled, could be read from the street.

This year, my parents made a Thanksgiving decoration for the window.  They put pictures of family members on each limb of the Thanksgiving tree. 

This is a great idea for decorating your home for the holidays, either in a window, or on a wall in your home.  Little ones can help with the cutting and taping of this project.  You can use many different types of paper such as brown shipping paper, construction paper, tissue paper, or holiday wrapping paper to make your design. 

For Christmas, you could do an idea similar to the Thanksgiving tree, using a Christmas tree and putting family pictures inside the presents under the tree. 

Be creative this year, and involve the kiddos in some great family traditions!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not Alone: Devotional 1 Kings 19: 13-14, 18

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional copyright 2012
*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Not Alone

1 Kings 19:13-14, 18 (The Message)


When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there.

 (God) A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?”

Elijah said it again, “I've been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I'm the only one left, and now they're trying to kill me.” …

(God) Meanwhile, I'm preserving for myself seven thousand souls: the knees that haven't bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven't kissed his image.”


Raising a child with specific needs can be isolating for so many reasons. You may be using all of your energy to find solutions, to problem-solve, and to make things better. You and your spouse may alternate responsibilities, or you may be a single parent, juggling everything on your own. Your resources may be drained. You may feel you are fighting a battle to set your child free, and you are not sure if you are winning.

Elijah felt the same way in the scripture above. He had just won a huge victory against four hundred fifty prophets of Baal. On top of that, a three-year drought was ended in a mighty way. But soon after these victories, he was exhausted from the fight and scared of the enemy. He explained to God how hard the fight had been and how little progress he felt had been made. He felt isolated, like the only one left who was fighting the good fight. He said, “I’m the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me.” He was exhausted, isolated, and drained…not sure of any progress. But God speaks the truth over his situation. God says that there are seven thousand others who are faithful to The Almighty who have not bowed to other gods. Those others were fighting the good fight too.

You are not alone. You are not the only one fighting the good fight for your children. We join you in prayer for breakthrough, for victory, for strength, and for courage. I know the cries of your heart, and I tell you that you are not alone. I pray that friends and community will surround you in practical ways every day.


1. Have you felt isolated in your struggle to help your child? How can you become more integrated with others who share your battle and heart?


2. God sees you and knows you. How can you embrace God’s heart for you today?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Using Technology to Create Social Stories for Children: Adobe Voice

In the past, I have written about using social stories to help children with autism or anxiety deal with apprehension about the unknown or future events.  My previous post was about a birthday party, but social stories can be created for your child about ANY theme such as starting school, night-time routine, going to the dentist, or traveling.  The stories can also be created to help kids learn a new skill such as how to say "I'm sorry" or how to introduce yourself to someone new.

I have recently discovered the free app by Adobe called Adobe Voice.  This app can be used to make stories come alive with icons, photographs, text, graphics, and music. 

Here is a link to the video I created about a birthday party: Birthday Social Story

In this story, I used icons, but you can insert pictures of the child's actual world.  For example, for a social story about the first day of school, you can take photos of the actual school, the teacher, the classroom, his/her bookbag, the school bus, etc and make a video story for your child to watch.   Your child can even help create the video themselves.  They could record their own voice talking about the pictures that are uploaded. 

What is your story?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Economic Office Decoration

I guess now that I have been at the same job for 15 years, I should make myself comfortable!  I decided to make my workspace a spot that I could feel more peaceful in, something warm and centering for me while I work. 

The tree decal I ordered from Amazon.com cost about $15 and arrived at my doorstep in two days.  I was thinking it would be a project to figure out how to use one (this was my first) and how to get it up on my walls.  It was super easy and took about 15 minutes.  They are also reuseable and can be re-arranged with some care as needed.

The nice thing about the decal set is that it was composed of separate pieces, so you can arrange the tree however you want.  The picture on the package looks like this:

I decided to wrap it around the room and was able to create the illusion (see above office picture) of the tree growing behind the wall separator.  I also made the branches cluster around the picture frame above.  The frame was a gift from my sister in law a few Christmas' ago.  It has "clothes pins" in each of the 9 frames so you can switch out picture.  I had family pictures up for a long time which was fun.  This time, I gathered pictures of certain colors and made collages of each color on my Pic Stitch app...

Then I saved the collage of each color (e.g., one for green, one for blue, etc) and I used my touchnote app to send myself a postcard of each collage. 
The postcards come on sturdy stock paper with a nice shine.  They do not curl or fold, and they hold up better than actual photo prints. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Suddenly: Luke 5 (5-7) Devotional



Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional, copyright 2012
*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Luke 5:5-7 (The Message)
Simon said, “Master, we've been fishing hard all night and haven't caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I'll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.

When you are the parent of a child whose needs are complex and difficult, the days roll into months and years. The amount of effort can feel so tremendous compared to the amount of lasting gains. We may cry out to God, “We’ve been hard at it during this night season, and we haven’t caught even a minnow!” When Simon says this to Jesus, he has good reason. Simon is an expert fisherman; he runs a business and knows when and where to catch fish. He has come back exhausted and empty-handed, but Jesus tells him to go out again and put the nets in the water one more time. It seems futile to Peter and the fishermen with him, because they have been out there all night trying so hard and have come back so very exhausted.


Yet, when the Master says it, they do it. They know Him and trust Him. His word means something true to them. They have that kind of relationship, and “it was no sooner said than done!” Suddenly there is a breakthrough where there had been no breakthrough. Suddenly there is supply where there had been no supply. Suddenly there is abundance where there had been lack. “Suddenly,” after a long night of nothing, everything changed at the command of Jesus. Their “huge haul” of fish was surprising, abundant, and so heavy that it nearly sank the boats.


1. Beloved, have you been “fishing hard all night?” Have you done everything you know to do, but have come back exhausted and empty-handed? I pray that your heart will be open to unexpected wisdom from the Father. I pray that your hard night will turn “suddenly” into abundance and breakthrough!


2. How can you open your heart to hearing from God after such a long time of feeling empty-handed? In what ways can you strengthen your relationship with the Master so that you will go out and try again, trusting Him to be true to His Word?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How To Train Your Dragon: book series review

Am I the only one who didn't realize that the How to Train your Dragon stories were based on books!  My 8 year old son and I came across Cressida Cowell's book series at the library.  The first book was published in 2003 and there are currently 11 books published.  My son and I started with the 11th book (because that is what was at the library) How to Betray a Dragon's Hero, published in Sept 2013.  At the end of the book, the author notes that the 12th book is coming soon, and will be the final book in the series. Check out the book series website howtotrainyourdragonbooks.com.
I was so blown away by the book we read.  It was artfully done with skilled prose and pencil drawings.  The book moves alone quickly, and we always had a hard time stopping at the end of a chapter.  The 17th chapter, Sword Fight, was so wonderful, I took it to work and shared it with many friends.  It was all about what makes a hero, a king, a leader.  It was about hatred and forgiveness, and about identity and what choices we have when someone else has what we want. 
The books embody great character and morales, wonderful prose and illustrations, and the timeless epic tradition of books like the Narnia series and The Lord of the Rings.  Now, mind you, they are different in many respects too...but there is a journey across many lands, with multiple types of dragons, and the battle between good and evil.  The hero endures trials and overcomes obstacles, until he becomes more and more the king he was destined to be.

My son is 8 and is able to read the books alone, although I do think he misses a lot that way because of the vocabulary used.  He seems to get more out of it when we read together.  I love the books, so they are definitely appropriate for anyone about 3rd grade and older, depending on reading level and proficiency.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lifelong Learning on the Web: A Review of Coursera

I just discovered the wonders of coursera.org.  This website offers over 650 free online courses from over 100 national and international sources including top universities like Princeton, Duke, University of Edinburgh, and more.

The courses span a range of topics including things like medicine, finance, history, art, food and education.  The courses are geared toward three groups of people: those who are lifelong learners and like to explore new topics, those who are students wanting to augment their learning in a particular area (e.g., astronomy, physics, statistics), and professionals who want to learn more in their field of study (e.g., how to teach character in the classroom).  Most of the courses are in English, although some are in different languages.

The courses run for a specific length of time, so not all courses are running simultaneously.  Most courses are about 6-8 weeks.  Each course estimates the amount of time commitment per week (e.g., usually about 4 hrs a week).  I tend to feel the estimates are on the long side. 

Coursera has an app that can be used for the course, although not all features are available on the app.  Some of the features that allow you to chat and discuss topics with other students in the class are not yet available on the app but are available at their full website.  Each week of the course, there will be videos available to watch in which the teacher is speaking right to the camera (not a far off shot from a large class in session).  The course is made just for coursera students.  Each video may be about 2 - 15 minutes in length and there may be 5-8 videos per week.  There may be extra links or readings suggested or available.  Then there is a weekly quiz in which you click an honor code button that you are doing your own work.  The quiz consists generally of 5-10 questions and is untimed.  You can typically retake the quiz 1-2 times and use your highest score. 

Many of the courses offer you a certificate of completion and there is an option to pay about $45 for a verified certificate if this is important to you. 

So whether you want to learn about new topics from your own home or want to supplement your schooling or career, check out coursera.org where learners learn for free. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Into the Sea: Mark 11:22-24

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional, Theresa Regan copyright 2012
*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Into the Sea
Mark 11:22-24 (Amplified Bible)

And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].

Here, Jesus urges His followers to have faith in God constantly. He wants us to have an abiding and enduring faith that is rooted and grounded in our whole journey with God. What amazing words from Jesus—that mountains will be thrown into the sea at our command. We must live without doubt in our hearts, believing that our words can and will make things happen, change, and become rooted or uprooted. We must ask in prayer with belief, trust, and confidence that we will receive answers from God in His time. Sometimes it feels hard to make sense of these words. I pray that Jesus will reveal to you what He is urging you to believe. I pray that He will tell you about the life you are designed to live and embrace.
One thing seems certain. Jesus wants us not only to pray for what we need, but also to live with a posture of faith and belief. After the actual prayers are said, the posture in which we live is important. The spirit that we carry is important to God. Do we say a prayer and then live in worry? Do we brood and ruminate about all the possibilities, concerned about the outcome and timing of everything? Jesus says NO! We are to pray and then live expectantly, confidently, and in belief, faith, and trust. We can expect mountains to be removed and thrown into the sea! 
1. I pray that Jesus reveals more and more to your heart as you pray through this passage and make it your own. Pray through this scripture throughout the week and journal about what God reveals to you.
2. In what ways are you tempted to live in a posture of doubt or concern? What encourages you to live with faith and expectation in God’s power and goodness?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Why Beauty Glorifies God

This season, as I have been praying, I have found myself entranced by beauty.  The beauty of color, music, design, fabric, architecture, nature, smiles, photography, dance...  I have realized that in the past, I have believed that attention to beauty is at best "extra and unnecessary" and at worst "vain and self-consuming."  I'm sure attention to beauty can be all those things, but only in its perverted form. 

Real beauty honors and glorifies God, who is Himself beautiful on the throne, full of abundant goodness, and overflowing with kindness, gifts, and joy.  

Psalm 27:4 (The Message)
I'm asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with Him in His house my whole life long.  I'll contemplate His beauty; I'll study at His feet. 

He is the God who is beautiful.  He is the Creator who spoke into being all things and declared them good. He is the God who gives us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and praise for heaviness (Isaiah 61).  

Can beauty be perverted?  Of course.  But when true beauty exists in our homes and communities, we glorify the God of beauty.  We cast aside the thoughts we harbor about our lack...and we praise our wonderful Father who withholds no good thing from us.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Helping Kids with Social Anxiety: Giving Them a Role

Some people thrive in a social setting.  They love the people, the celebrations, and joy of interacting with others.  Other people prefer to stick to themselves, and may have a very difficult time in social settings.  When they do want or need to be in a group, they may feel nervous, stressed, and drained.  

I recently had to take my 8 year old son to church with me when I got to lead a prayer service.  There was no where else for him to hang out on that night.  I ended up asking him to be my helper with the "technology" and the music.  I had my ipod and wanted to hook it into the sound system with specific songs playing at specific times.  

This turned out to be a wonderful thing, because I really did benefit from his help with the songs, and he felt very proud and excited that he could contribute.  He did really well in the social setting, even though that would generally be quite a challenge for him if we just showed up and he didn't have a specific role. 

When your kids are going into a crowd, try to think of ways to make roles specific if they like that.  Can they be a helper?  Maybe they can be in charge of opening the door and putting peoples' coats in the "coat room."  Maybe they can help with props for a play rather than being on stage.  Maybe they can help hide the Easter eggs or hand out the Halloween candy.

What have you tried that helps your kids negotiate crowds and parties?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Cleaning and Autism

Everyone probably has a room or rooms in their house in need or spring cleaning!  Anyone with kids knows that things can collect and build up that really should be sorted through and given away.  A challenge for any family is convincing the kids to let go of some of their stuff and give some away to other children.  

Children in the autistic spectrum can have particular difficulty keeping their space organized and free of clutter because of executive function and sequencing difficulties.  Executive function is a primary difficulty within the autistic spectrum.  This includes abilities such as figuring out how to start a multi-step project, initiating behavior, and attending to both the details and the big picture.  In addition, many individuals in the spectrum are very particular about their belongings in the sense that they may have collections, prefer to arrange certain belongings "just so" while other belongings are on the floor, and may resist change (such as changing the location of an object at home or throwing things out that aren't important any more).

One approach that I use with my son in the autistic spectrum is to go through the house while he isn't home, and gather things that I don't see him playing with or using.  Then I store them in boxes and bags out of site. If he notices something is missing and asks for it, I can return it.  But if months have gone by and he hasn't noticed that something is missing, I give the items away.  

I also encourage him to choose some items to give away. Sometimes his school has a charity drive for example that kids can contribute to.  This is a way to focus on the teaching part about having a generous spirit, why that is important, and how to live that out.  

How do you help your autistic child sort through and give up some of their things?  Do they have trouble tolerating the changes?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Monkey Birthday Party for Kids

 My son wanted a monkey themed party this year.  The cupcakes are chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache frosting.  Then I made a basic sugar cookie, cutting the batter out around a tablespoon before baking.

After baking, they looked like this:

I assembled the monkey cupcake by putting the cookie on the face like the monkey snout.  I put a dab of white frosting with mini chocolate chips on top for the eyes and drew on the nostrils and mouth with chocolate frosting.  The two ears are mini cookies I found at the grocery store.  I ended up putting a small banana candy on top of frosting for the mouth.

For the gifts bags, I used brown bags and printed off a monkey picture, putting each child's name in the placeholder.  

I added a dab of color with markers and hung some monkeys on the side of each bag.

The inside goodies included monkey tattoos, mini banana candies, a monkey keeper lego, monkey bracelets, and small monkey toys.  

It was a barrel of fun for the kiddos!  Hope your party is fun too.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sensory Activities for Older Children

The Occupational Therapist for my 8 year old son has suggested that we get back into some sensory activities to help him with his autistic spectrum symptoms. 

There are many ideas for sensory play for toddlers out there, but not as much for older children.  I decided I wanted to try to integrate sensory activities into some functional tasks... like cooking and bathing for example.  

This morning I made muffins with peanut butter, banana and eggs as part of the ingredients.  I asked him to help me cook.  My idea was to have him get his hands into the batter to mash up the bananas, but he wasn't going for that today!  We will try another time.  I did show him, however, how to separate eggs with his hands just like Bobby Flay!  He let me crack an egg right into his open hand, let the egg whites spill out into the bowl underneath, and put the egg yolk into the batter.  

In his bath, he is experimenting with different textures and senses as well.  He loves the shaving cream play in the bath but is not as keen on the more greasy coconut butter lotions.  Next up...we are going to try an apricot scrub with a light scent and a somewhat textured feel.  

Experiment with your older children, and see how you can integrate sensory experiences into everyday functional tasks!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Alert Expectancy: Romans 5: 3-5 devotional

Soul Cries,a devotional written for parents of special needs children, copyright Regan 2012

*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Romans 5:3-5 (The Message)

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

I can relate to Paul’s description of “how troubles can develop passionate patience in us.” I love the term “passionate patience.” It is not a patience of deadness or passivity. There is not a quality of being stuck, but rather of passion and expectancy embedded with endurance and waiting on the Lord. This patience helps keep us “alert for whatever God will do next.” I see in my own life that when I am pressed on all sides with trouble, I hone my focus. The intensity and endurance required during these seasons compel me to set my face on God without compromise or flinching. I believe this is what Paul describes as “alert expectancy.”

This “alert expectancy,” the constant scanning of the horizon for God, is what leaves us never “feeling shortchanged;” because we can’t miss what God is doing, we are focused and without compromise. We expect to see Him, and we do. Of course, I love the last visual image. Paul says that, in the end, “We can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” I don’t know about you, but I could probably round up a lot of containers, but not enough to limit God, who always works in abundance!

1. In what ways do your troubles work to increase your focus on God? Do you know what it is to watch with “alert expectancy?”

2. In what ways have you experienced God’s abundance? What has the Holy Spirit poured into your life?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

When You Can't Fix, Just Love...

Sometimes we feel at a loss when there is something big hurting those around us...and there is no solution.  This is the story of Zion Isaiah Blick.  His family knew he would be born with a condition that was incurable, unfixable.  So... they decided to love love love him.  Zion was kissed, held, celebrated.  

When you can't fix... just decide to love!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Natural Shampoo Recipe with Coconut Milk from Wellness Mama

I have been trying to find natural solutions for hair care that are simple to make, not too expensive, and work with my hair type. I have tried a few recipes that have really dried out my hair and not worked well for me. 

Recently, a friend of mind turned me onto this recipe from wellnessmama.com.  I made a double batch with lavender oil and olive oil.  It lasted for 3 weeks (I have thick long hair) and really left my hair moisturized and smelling great. 

She reminds you to shake before each use (just put it in an old shampoo bottle).  It can stay in the shower for use for up to one month. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Boosting Morale At Work: An Olympics Game

 I love working with my team at the hospital, but sometimes work can be stressful.  The last few years, we have had some obstacles to overcome, and many of the staff as individuals have had difficult life events. 

We have tried morale boosting activities before, but somehow they have seemed to fall short.  People don't seem to enjoy a fun activity if they feel "on the spot" (e.g., if they have to act out charades, answer trivia questions they might get wrong) or if the game or activity feels like too much work (e.g., fantasy football).  

I was thinking I would like to do something around the winter Olympics this year (Opening Ceremony is February 7).  

I wanted to think of an activity that wouldn't put people on the spot and wouldn't be too much work for anyone.  So, I went through the calendar of daily events on the Sochi Olympics site and wrote down what medal events occur each day. I am going to write down those events (there seem to be about 6-8 per day).  For example, one paper might say Biathlon Men's Sprint.  Each morning, I will put papers with the events for the day in a hat, and people can pick from them (you may have multiple copies of the same event if you have a large office).  

Everyone will have their "event for the day" and will be encouraged to watch the olympics for their event.  The next day, whoever had an event in which the USA received a medal will receive points (e.g., 1 pt bronze, 2 pts silver, 3 pts gold).  By the end of the Olympics, whoever has the most points wins a platter full of my homemade double chocolate deluxe brownies.  Yum... Hope I win!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chains are Broken, Scales are on the Floor

Singing today...  I am all He says I am (from Gateway Worship)

He whispers in my ear
Tells me that I'm fearless
He shares a melody
Tells me to repeat it
And it makes me whole
It reminds my soul

I am all He says I am
I am all He says I am
I am all He says I am
And He says I am His own

I was blinded by scales upon my eyes
Then He came like a light
And burned up all the lies
He set me free
He reminded me

I am all He says I am
I am all He says I am
I am all He says I am
An He says I am His own

Chains are broken
Scales are on the floor
Truth is spoken
I'm no orphan anymore

I am loved
I am new again
I am free
I'm no slave to sin
I'm saint
I am righteousness
I'm alive

Friday, January 3, 2014

Soul Cries Devotional Isaiah 40: 3-5 The Coming King

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional, a devotional for parents of struggling kids

*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

The Coming King

Isaiah 40:3-5 (Amplified Bible)

A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God! Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together…

When you are parenting children who have struggles and specific needs, there seem to be many obstacles, rough places, and uneven paths. The wilderness can seem foreboding. In the fortieth chapter, Isaiah prophesies about John the Baptist, a voice crying out in the wilderness (see Mark 1:3). John cried out, preparing the way for Jesus to enter into His ministry.

In those days, if a king from an outlying country were coming to your kingdom, you would send out workers to make a smooth road for the king to enter your domain. The path would be made smooth, straight, and level. This was a way of preparing for the king, ushering him into your area. All obstacles and all rough places must go! They must give way to the coming king!

I pray over your home and your children, reader! I pray that your King will be ushered into your life in a manifest and glorious way. I speak to the obstacles in your life, that they must give way. I speak over your body, mind, and spirit; I pray that the path of your King will be made smooth, straight, and level. The King is coming to bring His Kingdom into your life. May He usher in health, shalom, and grace.

1. What obstacle is evident in your life today? Is it an issue of the heart, the body, the mind, or the spirit? I pray with you that the rough place will be made smooth, and the King will be ushered into that very place!

2. In what ways can you prepare the path for the King and usher in His Kingdom? In what ways do you need God to move on your behalf and a community to help in this work?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Does Someone In Your House Keep Asking "What's there to eat?"--Try This Great Solution

I can't count the number of times my 7 year old says, "I'm hungry."  And I say, "What do you want to eat?"  And he says "What do we have?"  We, of course, repeat this dialogue several times a day.  

Recently I decided to create him a menu.  I typed up about 20-25 of his most common snacks and meals including several protein based foods, snacks, fruit, smoothies, etc.  

I printed out the menu on our home computer.  I then used my Scotch Thermal Laminator to seal it into a more durable menu for little hands.  

Now, he knows where his menu is located in the house.  I use a dry erase marker to cross off foods I don't have that day (e.g., if I run out of apples) or I add foods that I know we have that aren't on the list (e.g., at Thanksgiving we may have left over turkey).  Then he can tell me specifically what he wants, even though I control what is on the list (offering healthy foods with a good mix of protein and healthy options).  

Who would this help at home?
1. Children
In the case of young children who can't read, try using a picture menu.  You can either make a book of food in picture form (like a trifold menu) or you can print off various foods in picture form, laminate them separately, and use velcro to affix them onto the "menu for the day."  So for one meal, you might affix options of cereal, eggs, toast, etc.  For the next meal, you can affix different foods in picture form. 

2. Individuals with Dementia
Many individuals with dementia have trouble knowing when they are hungry, what they are hungry for, and may even fail to initiate eating during the day.  Some dementias produce specific difficulty with words, expression, or reading.  In these cases, you can use a similar option where you list options for food in words or pictures to give them some control and option, but still assisting them in generating ideas. 

3. Adults Trying To Eat Healthy
If you made a New Year's resolution to eat healthier, you may find yourself thinking, what is there to eat?  You might want to use your cookbooks, websites, and Dr's advice to list some ideas on a menu for yourself.  For example, you might make a "snacks" menu that gives you ideas for healthy options.  

4. Adults with Learning Disabilities
I recently met a few adults who had language disabilities from birth.  They have difficulty generating verbal words and ideas.  They also have difficulty reading.  A picture menu would be a great option in this case as well.