Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Challenging Leadership by Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley is another leader I had the privilege of hearing at Orange. Andy is the founding pastor at NorthPoint church in Atlanta.  He has had a positive influence on a number of church planters, including our pastors at c|Life.  I was very impressed with him at Orange so I decided to subscribe to his podcast.

I have listened to one of his podcasts, Challenging Leadership, about a million times.  Not really but I have listened to it at least 5 times since May 5th when it was released.  It's too good to not share.  You can download it here.  I highly recommend it. Here are some of my favorite points he makes.

The job of leaders is to challenge the status quo.  But, it must be done in the right way.  It's important to follow directions then debrief afterwards if you didn't think it was a good idea.  I'm so thankful that our co-Pastors at c|Life do this all the time.  No one had to fight for a special needs ministry. They saw the need themselves and were praying towards a solution.

Stanley asks his staff members to be a 'raving fan publicly' and a 'honest critic privately'.  This is so powerful!  Support the organization you work for publicly but then privately discuss what you don't agree with or what you think needs to be changed.  Thankfully, I haven't had any experience with this at c|Life.  I've agreed with most decisions made thus far.  But this did challenge me in my 'day job' at school.

Stanley says we have to 'marry the mission but date the model'.  He's not talking about dating super models.  He means don't get too attached to how things are done, the model.  At c|Life our mission is the connect people to God and to each other.  We are married to that mission.  How we achieve that mission must stay current.  Within our Valuable ministry I must remember this as well.  Our mission is to make church a welcoming place for people with disabilities.  Right now, we have small, kid's CG(community groups) on Sunday mornings to achieve this mission.  In the future, this might not be the best way to achieve that mission. The mission doesn't change but how we move towards it must change.

Stanley asks us to remember that everything was a good idea at some point.  That thing you don't understand? There was a reason it was started.  Instead of just righting something off as unnecessary or ridiculous, find out why it was done that way.  Many times, we don't have all the information, we don't know the whole story.  Dig deeper to find out the origin story.  It might change your mind. Even if it doesn't it will give you some perspective on the situation.

Finally, Stanley talks about asking his staff to 'make things better'.  Such a simple idea. Just be better.  Improve yourself and your processes.  I think of this as 'see a need, fill a need'.  Is there trash in the hallway? Pick it up.  Does one of your families need babysitting help so they can attend CG as a couple? Find volunteers and set up a schedule.  Make things better.

Andy Stanley's podcast is released once a month.  I'm in the process of going back through previous months.   If you're interested in being a better leader in any area of your life, they are worth the listen.  All the episodes are 25 minutes are less.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Always Watching & Presumed Competence

This school year we've encountered a new problem with B. He has become a proficient curser.

His behavior specialist, Mr. Smith, was called the his music class one day.  B was distruptive and the teacher needed help.  Mr. Smith asked B what was going on.
"Music class is lame."
"Do you even know what lame means?"
"It means boring, son of a b*^%$!"
After picking his jaw up off the floor Mr. Smith asks B how he knows those words.
"Back to the Future"

Uh oh! That's on me.  Guilty as charged.  Back to the Future is one of my favorite movies.  And Biff Tannon says s.o.b. about a half a million times in the movie.  Many times, we 'd be watching the movie and B would be on the couch or in the kitchen playing on his tablet.  He seemed completely absorbed in what he was doing. He didn't seem to be paying one bit of attention to what we were watching. So we didn't worry about the words we thought he was not hearing.

How wrong I was!

Kids are like sponges.  They take in everything around them.  I knew this with my other boys.  Why did I forget this with B?  I'll tell you why...

Presumed Competence.  Douglas Bilken, who works to promote equity in education for persons with disabilities describes presumed competence this way:

Assume that a child has intellectual ability, provide opportunities to be exposed to learning, assume the child wants to learn and assert him or herself in the world. To not presume competence is to assume that some individual cannot learn, develop or participate in the world. 

I almost always presume the competence of my older boys but sometimes I forget about B.  I assumed that he was so into Angry Birds or whatever was on his tablet that he wasn't paying attention to anything else going on around him. I was so wrong.  His language told me the truth.

We forget that our older kids are still watching our actions...

Dad consistently belittles people at home but then is super friendly to their face.
His high school age son learns he doesn't have to be respectful all the time, just to people's faces.
Mom posts private details on social media.
Daughter learns that privacy isn't important, she can tell the world whatever she wants.  

It will serve us all well if we remember that kids are always learning from us.  If we presume competence of all our kids, young, older, special needs, neurotypical, ALL our kids! To paraphrase Roz from Monsters, Inc.  "I'm watching you.  Always watching"


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Overflow of the heart

In the past few weeks I have been super cranky.  I've tried to hide it because I'm a people pleaser, I want everyone to get along.  Those close to me have heard it.  I'm sure it's been more evident than I'd like to admit.

At first I just ascribed it to end of the year stress.  Or tired momma.  I couldn't really explain it.  I could just say "I'm done."  What does that even mean? Done with what? Done with who?  I'm no spring chicken but it's a little too early to be done with everything.  I don't like feeling this way so I began to pray and ask GOD to reveal the source to me.  I didn't really like the answer: my heart has become bitter.

It was true.  My heart has become bitter. Not in a turn-my-back-on-the-world way.  But definitely in a writing people off way.  That is my pattern, I write people off.  I justify it by saying "They wear me out.  I can't take it anymore. I'm done with them."I want to be free of their drama so I distance.  Which I think is healthy but lately, I haven't really been distancing.  I allow bitterness about the situation to stay.  My words and my feelings reflect that bitterness.

The flip side to this is that I've been waking up with a song on my mind for the past several days.  When Sam and Zac were little, they played Upward basketball at Bethel Lutheran Church.  A part of the program were memory verses.  To help the kids memorize the verses, Upwards provided a CD of original songs of the verses called Scriptunes.  I loved those CDs.  I wish I still had them!  They weren't songs based on the verses but the actual verses set to music.

When I wake up, "you make all things work together for my good" is playing on a loop in my head.  Thank you LORD for the awesome reminder! GOD is still working all things together for my good.

Even when I don't like what's going on around me
Even when I disagree with what's happening
Even when I feel like nothing is going my way
Even when it seems like the wrong person is prospering

Because those things are not my job, they are His.  He is GOD and I am not!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Art Camp

Within minutes of meeting B, most people will tell me "Wow! He's so creative!"  His mind moves at an amazing speed.  I wish I could be inside that brain for one day but I suspect it would tire me quickly.

He is constantly creating.  His current projects include: making a cart, drawing and painting Angry Birds that I cut out and he plays with, and a play script.  Not to mention the Legos projects.  Sunday he created a 'cinema for animals' and a 'fruit factory'.  He wants to get into the Lego magazine where they feature unique creations by kids.

Last Friday afternoon his school folder contained a sign up form for Art Camp.  The Art and Spanish teachers at his school were teaming up to provide a 1 day after school Art Camp.  1st grade's camp would be Monday after school.  He really wanted to go.

My momma heart was torn - I really wanted to send him but I was super nervous.  Afternoons can be challenging for him.  The demands of the day begin to take their toll and often leads to meltdowns. This would be no ordinary afternoon.  Camp would go from 3:30 to 5:45 pm.  That's a long time in our world.  But he really wanted to go.  So I emailed the teachers to see what they thought.

this scratch art has all our family members
denoted by their initials. 
Art has been a source of frustration this year.  He's run out of class and disrupted class a few times.  His mind is creativity but his hands don't always cooperate.  His fine motor skills are not as advanced as his creative skills.  His awesome principal, Mrs. Staley, arranged for a 4th grade buddy to hang out with him in Art.  This has helped tremendously.  His buddy can do the things he can't (mostly cutting) and B is freed up to work his creative magic.

Both teachers thought it would be great if B attended Art Camp so I filled out the form and sent it in.  That particular Monday afternoon all three boys had something after school so I was able to leave right from work to go work out.  The first few minutes of my elliptical time was spent thinking about how B was doing but I reminded myself that if something was wrong, I had my phone, and I was good.

When I picked B up, his Spanish teacher brought him to the car.  "He did great!  He is so creative! That mind!"  B was so proud to show me his art work (the scratch art).  His teacher also told me that he had another piece that was drying and would be sent home tomorrow (the frog painting).

Once again, B-man amazed me.  One these days, I'll learn.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mission vs. Busy

Do you have a mission?  Are you on a mission?  Some days I feel like I'm on a mission to get back to bed.  I wake up tired and think, "what do I have to accomplish before I can get back in this bed?" But that's just the #momlife.

I'm talking about a mission that guides your decisions.

I'm a doer, a worker bee.  I have lots of ideas floating around in my head.  I'm also fairly efficient, I can see how things could be improved to work better.  These, my friends, are a deadly combination of skills.  These skills, plus my desire to serve others, land me in hot water from time to time.  I end up doing a bunch of stuff because someone asked me.  Stuff that fill up my days, my nights and my weekends.  I get very busy.  Busy Aimee is tired Aimee. Tired Aimee is no good for anyone.

I don't know where I heard the idea first but, I love the idea that busy is not a badge of honor.  {You can read more about that here and here.}  I don't want to look back on my life and say "Man I sure was busy. Wonder what I accomplished?" I want to look back on my life and know that GOD used me.  I want to look back on my life and know that I served GOD, my family and others well, that I was a good wife and mom.

I recently listened to a podcast by Andy Stanley called Leadership Challenge.  It was all about leaders challenging the status quo without getting too far off course. Challenging status quo because it's no longer helping you live up to your mission: "Marry the mission.  Date the model."  In other words, stay true to your mission but stay current on how you achieve your mission.  Do new things to work towards your mission when the old things aren't working any more.

All this got my thinking, what is my mission? I spent a few days thinking about it and crafted this statement.

How does having a mission make life less busy?  You filter all your commitments through that vision.  "Is what I'm being asked to do consistent with my mission?"  If the answer is "Yes!" then do it.  But it's "Nope" politely but firmly decline.  Here's a little secret...it's OK to say no!

I've also found that when I'm busy doing things that are 'on mission', I'm not as tired.  God provides the strength I need.  Sometimes it seems almost restful when I'm doing mission related things.  It's a great feeling.

I'd love to hear about your mission.  Tell me about it in the comments or connect with me on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

He is powerful

Last Sunday, B went with me to c|Life's Kaufman campus for our special needs class, Valuable.  The classroom for Valuable is right outside of the room we use for large group worship and teaching time for the K-5 crowd.  We didn't go out for the worship and, honestly, I can't remember what B heard that made him open the door but I'm so glad he did!

During May, we've been learning about the life of Job.  First we learned about how Satan took away everything he treasured plus gave him sores all over his body. Yuck!  But Job held fast to God.  Next, Job's friends were awful to him. They told him he must have sinned for God to punish him that way. But Job held fast to God.  Last Sunday's lesson focused on the fact that God will never leave us.

That is such an important truth for all of us. Sometimes, life is not going our way.  We have been brought low.  We feel alone, as if no one cares for us.  We struggle to see how God could be working in this situation. Surely we've done the one wrong thing that caused God to turn his back on us.  We can't see Him in our situation.

During large group, Ms. Crystal used an air cannon to demonstrate to the kids that God is powerful even though we can't see him.  She fired the cannon into the air.  "Did you see anything?" she asked. "No!" came the chorus.

Then she asked for a volunteer.  Hands shot up.  The first volunteer came forward.  Crystal asked him to put a plastic cup on his head and stand in front of the air cannon.  She fired again and knocked the cup right off his head!  She asked for another volunteer.  B was jumping up and down.  Crystal asked if it was alright with me.  It surely was!  B was able to join in the fun on the stage and learn that God is powerful even though he can't see Him.

Crystal eventually got 2 more volunteers and knocked 6 cups off of 6 little heads with that air cannon.  All the kids were in awe.  They could see how the air was working to knock off the cups even when they couldn't see the air.

Believing God, accepting Jesus as our savior and yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit is full of a lot of heady concepts.  There is a lot of believing and trusting.  And the words we use to describe the experience of becoming and being a believer are abstract.  The whole thing relies on things not seen.  This can be a struggle for people with autism.  Many of them prefer concrete thinking that makes sense in the here and now.

Crystal's air cannon helped B make sense of the fact that God is powerful even when we can see Him.  Every week I pray that we can make these truths clear to the kids in our Valuable class.  And I know that God hears our prayers.  He is making a way to bring everyone to Him.  He wants us all.  He wants to touch every heart.  He speaks everyone's language.

He is powerful!

I love this picture from right after the cups were blown off.  B is literally off the ground with excitement!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


For most of his short almost 8 years, B's sensory issues have involved his mouth.  He slept in the same crib that his two brother before him slept in.  And I promise you, when he grew out of it, it looked like we had boarded a dog in that bed.  The cherry wood finish is gnawed off in lots of places up and down the wood fennel's.  
I have a pair of 6 month size, brown, cotton pants in a box in my closet.  There's a big chunk out of the knee.  His babysitter strapped him into his rear facing car seat one day to drive through the bank.  When they returned home and she got him out, his pants were not just ripped.  There was a silver dollar sized hole in them.  And B-man was grinning like a possum.  

The incident that set his autism diagnosis in motion also involved his mouth.  One Thursday afternoon, he started throwing up.  We had an appointment the next day with his primary care physician to talk about his gnawing and chewing.  He loved those cheapy flannel receiving blanket.  He would put them in his mouth and pull on them.  Picture a dog fighting you for a blanket.  So, Friday morning we head off the doctor.  I tell Dr. Jane about all the chewing and gnawing and about how he was throwing up yesterday.  She's concerned he's swallowed something that's causing problems.  She takes x-rays and sends us off to the ER at Children's in Plano.  Ryan meets us there.  We're freaked out, of course.

The doctor there barely glances at the x-rays and pronounces "there's a stomach bug going around".  They give him some medicine and tell us that if he can keep it and some gatorade down, we can go home.  He keeps it down. We are so relieved.  Our boy seems to be feeling better so we stop for burgers on the way home.  

B starts feeling better.  He plays, he eats and is happy.  But, right before the 24 hour without puking mark (the magic milestone that means he can go back to school), he throws up again.  I wouldn't give you all the particulars but the food looks eerily similar as when it went in - undigested.  We give him the anti-nausea medicine the ER doc prescribed and keep rolling.  

This continues throughout the week.  Happy, eating, playing, waking up in the middle of the night to give back his undigested food.  Monday brings some tests.  Tuesday brings some more tests.  As does Wednesday.  And every night the same thing, waking up from a dead sleep to give back everything he ate that day.  Finally, on Thursday a wonderful pediatric GI doctor says, "This is not normal.  If kids are going to thrown up, they are going to do it within the first 15 minutes of laying down.  Let's do a scope to see what's going on".  Friday morning we're at the hospital and B gets scoped.  The doctor comes out and asks us if he could have eaten a candle, there's some white waxy stuff in his belly.  No sir, we don't have any candles.  

The doctor pushes through most of the white waxy stuff, pulls some out for testings and biopsies all up his digestive track to make sure his body isn't producing it.  The tests came back as inorganic.  I walk his pre-k room with the teacher, principal and academic administer the next week.  We find an empty glue stick.  

My boy had been nibbling on glue stick for who knows how long.  The first Thursday he probably did have a little virus but it caused the glue to move and cover the exit to his stomach. HIs food couldn’t move through.  He just kept eating until he was literally full then he gave it all back.  Once it was out of the way, he was good to go.  

I say this incident started use towards his diagnosis because every day we went some place new for testing they would always say, with one eye brown higher than the other, "Does he have any other diagnoses?".  I'd always say no but by Tuesday I knew this was code for "Are you sure he's not autistic or something?" We were referred to the autism clinic at Children’s at some point in the process.  So with his autism diagnosis also came PICA, eating things that are not food.

In the years since, he successfully completed feeding therapy at Baylor's Our Children's House.  He's stopped eating things that aren't food.  But we have to watch him.  He's likely to put Legos in his mouth while he's figuring out where they go.  

My people do not have good teeth.  I can't remember losing a tooth on it's own.  All my baby teeth were pulled to make room for other teeth crowding in behind it.  Z's had extensive dental work done.  SB is the only boy to escape it so far.  

I'm very thankful for the autism dental clinic at Children's.  The doctors and dental assistants there are so patient and kind to B.  In the fall, they put him out under general anesthesia so they could do A LOT of dental work.  And the refrain to me is always the same, "Make sure he's brushing those teeth really well."

If only it were that easy.  It took FOR-EVER to find a toothpaste that tastes good.  Most of them were "too hot" (minty).  We finally found Tom's of Maine who makes a non-minty Orange-Mango flavor.  But still brushing was not easy.  He didn't like it and couldn't do it on his own.  He'd rather just chew on the toothbrush.  

We've tried singing songs. We've tried apps that sing to you while you brush. He loved the app and watched it all the time. Just not ever while brushing his teeth.

Last Friday I was at my sink getting ready for work. B waltzes in with his tablet and proceeds to start brushing his teeth.  He put the toothpaste on the brush himself.  He brushed them himself without fan fair.  I did have to help him rinse but mostly I just stood there in awe.  

My boy was brushing his teeth on his own, of his own accord for the first time in his almost 8 years.  

Because I'm a modern momma, I snapped a pic and posted. As you can see from the picture, it wasn't an easy task. He's concentrating.  It was so awesome to see my friends cheering B on.  Brushing hasn't become a regular on his own thing yet but he's getting there.  

I learn something new from B every day.  Last Friday, I was reminded of a recurring lesson from him.  He's going to get there in his own way on his own schedule.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Coach vs. Critic

A few weeks back, I was blessed to attend the Orange Conference with some members of the Kid's Ministry team at c|LIfe.  Orange is a conference for all kinds of ministry leaders.  The speakers were awesome. The closing speaker on Friday was Perry Noble.

I had been introduced to Perry through the EntreLeadership podcast.  I knew he had a new book out called The Most Excellent Way to Lead.  I was excited to hear from him in person.  He's from South Carolina.  Ryan's family is from South Carolina and it's the home of Clemson, two things I love, so Perry already was in the positive.  I was excited to hear him speak in person.

He did not disappoint.  He spoke about leadership.  He was funny.  He was insightful.  He dislikes camping ("why do I want to spend my time pretending to be homeless" Preach! My food should not be prepared near dirt!).  He loves Jesus.  I'm in.  I subscribed to his podcast - Perry Noble Leadership podcast.

The first episode to pop up in my feed was called Coach vs. Critic.  In this episode, Perry talked about a chapter from his book, The Most Excellent Way to Lead.  It really got me thinking.  I'm so glad we (Kid's Min at c|Life) bought the book and I can't wait until it's my turn to read it.

{Side note - our copy is actually a one of a kind copy because it's signed by Carey Nieuwhof who Laci mistook for Perry Noble.  She and I were too chicken to approach him so we sent Kyle.  We were in line to buy books (we hadn't even purchased the book we sent Kyle to get signed!)  and we looked back to check on Kyle's progress.  He was pointing at us.  He was selling us out, telling "Perry" that we were too chicken to come ask ourselves!  When he came back to line he calmly said, "That's not Perry Noble, it's Carey Nieuwhof.  He signed the book anyway."  Indeed he did! He wrote "Lacie, I'm honored to sign Perry's book - Carey Nieuwhof"  Then he took a picture of himself and Kyle to send to Perry.  He tweeted out the picture.  It was hilarious.  We laughed so much that my stomach hurt.  Then we had the great plan to get Perry to sign Carey's book, which we had also just purchased.  We weren't able to pull that one off.}

Perry's point on the podcast is that, as leaders, we will be criticized.  It's part of the deal, it's inevitable.  But the most effective leaders know what criticism to listen to.  He says we need to listen to our coaches, not our critics.  The difference between a coach and a critic is relationship.  A coach cares about us. A coach wants us to grow and become better leaders.  A critic wants to complain.

It's about relationship.  We have a relationship with the coaches in our lives.  We are not in a relationship with critics.

Throughout the podcast, Perry uses the example of Clemson football coach Dabo Sweeney.  I'm a big Dabo fan.  Perry highlights all the ways that Dabo coaches his players to get the best out of them instead of criticizing them.  It made me think of my boys, their sports and their coaches.

I have been asked in the past if it bothers me when coaches yell at my boys.  9 times out of 10 the answer is no and it's because of relationships.  My boys have been coached by my husband and my brother in law most of their lives.  These two men, and others who have joined them along the way, have wonderful relationships with my boys. They love them.  They know them well.  They are on their side. They want them to play well but also because better because they competed.

To be honest, there have been men along the way who have not been most interested in my sons but in the games my sons can help win.  It's all about them - their ego.  Let me tell you how to spot these dudes.  Rings.  Most of these in-it-for-them dudes will be wearing a large championship ring.  Not a gorgeous ring they earned for winning a football conference championship or bowl game in college.  Not even a beautiful ring they earned at their actual job coaching kids to a high school state championship.  No sir! These self centered guys are wearing pee wee football championship rings.  Rings to signify that they coached a group of  5-13 year olds and beat all the other teams of 5-13 year olds in their geographic area.  These men are critics.  They don't have a relationship with my sons.  They want to but they can't because it's difficult to be in a relationship when you're only worried about yourself.  We've tried to steer clear of these guys.

As Sam moves to high school and Zac starts middle school sports, I am confident that the coaches there care about them too. It's one of the many benefits of being in a small district in a small town and working for the district.   I know these men.  I am confident that they want to make my boys better players and better men.  Yes, they want to win but not at all costs.  Certainly not at the cost of my boys.

God's plan has always been for us to be in relationship with one another. We are supposed to be loving one another. Learning from one another.  Serving one another.  Helping one another.  To do all this we must care about one another.  In Mark 12, Jesus is answering questions from Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes.  They were trying to trap Jesus with questions.  They asked Jesus which commandment was the most important.

We are to love GOD first then love others as yourself.  I don't like to be criticized, I prefer coaching.  If I love someone as I love myself, I should coach them, not criticize them.  But first, I need to build a relationship with them.     

You can get more info on the Perry Noble's podcast here.
You can buy Perry Noble's book The Most Excellent Way to Lead here.
I don't get anything from either link but you'll get great info!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Monday began a week of state testing here in Texas.  Isn't that awesome of our state to start testing on Monday?  What this means for me is that I'm in a room some middle school kids for at least 4 hours and can not be in contact with the outside world.  Not one iota of contact.  "The use of a cell phone in any way disrupts the testing environment" kind of cut off from everything for 4 hours.  As techie as I am this usually doesn't bother me but Monday it did.

Monday was the day that B's awesome teacher started her maternity leave.

Monday was the day B would meet his long term sub.

Monday was also the day that older kids at the elementary school would be testing (not B's grade).  So his awesome principal would be busy with that.

I was more than a little nervous.  Awesome principal and I emailed a bit Friday afternoon about it.  I gave her my sister in law's phone number in case something came up.  We both agreed that we would feel better about Day 1 if it wasn't also Day 1 of state testing.

Monday morning went as you might expect a Monday morning of state testing to go.  A bit chaotic.  My principal texted to ask if I could come in early to help out.  Ryan agreed to take B to school and the bigs and I darted out of the house to the middle school.

I administered the heck out of that test Monday.  But I kept thinking about B.

After the 4 hour testing time limit, I shuffled my testers off to 5th period and turned my phone back on.

And exhaled.  No messages from the elementary school.  No messages for sister in law.  No news coverage of a frantic 911 call from a local school.  So far, so good.  Ryan and I agreed that no news was good news.

It was so nice to exhale.  I didn't realize how I'd been holding my breath all morning.

I was reminded of how often I think I'm in control of something (like B's behavior).  I must be a great source of laughter for God.  He must look down and chuckle, "There's Aimee, thinking she's got this again. If she only knew!"  The truth is that I have no idea.  God's the one with the eternal plan.  His plan will prevail.  I just think I know what I'm doing.  When I remember that, I really can exhale.  It's so relaxing.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What am I doing?

I am an overthinker.  I like to know what's coming next.  God is working this out of me.  He and I have been walking this path for several years.  But He and I have been down in the dirt getting muddy over this in the past 2 years.

I surrendered to obedience last year.  It's been a wild ride!  I've been obedient even when it's hard. And, good gracious, some of it was hard! I had to go tell someone that I forgive her for upsetting me when she didn't even know I was upset with her.  It was so hard but she was gracious and wonderful.  You can read about how being obedient lead the start of a special needs ministry here.  In the 10 months since Valuable started, I have worked hard to listen to God and be obedient.  We've started classes on two more of our four campuses as a result.

God has confirmed my obedience in one major way.  My stress level.  I am easily stressed. I get worked up easily.  However,  in all things related to Valuable, I've been calm and this lets me know I'm in my element. I documented this feeling in March on Facebook. (I just realized there's a typo in that FB post - it should say "I just provided information" instead of "proved information".  Duh!)

I continue to try to walk in obedience.  I am learning more about special needs ministry.  Last week I was blessed to attend the Orange Conference with other KidMin leaders from c|Life.  I had 4 sessions on Special Needs Ministry.  After the first two sessions I felt tired and overwhelmed.  I prayed.  I asked my sister in law to pray for me as well. God calmed my spirit and reaffirmed my path.

I have felt called to write and speak for a while. When the direction of my path changed from EdTech to Special Needs Ministry, I though that dream would die.  I couldn't figure out a path to speaking and writing on Special Needs Ministry, supporting moms specifically.  I still feel God urging me in that direction.

I did have a bit of a panic attack last week "How will I ever be able to write and speak? What am I supposed to be writing about?  What would I speak to moms about?"  Thursday at Orange we heard many, many speakers.  But, through those speakers, God reaffirmed this calling.  And He reminded me that I'm not supposed to know the path, He is.  That's His job.  He is God and I am not.  Sweet Hallelujah! That night my roommate Laci let me dump everything in my brain on her.  She's so awesome, she was supposed to be writing a paper for her Masters classes but she listened, and listened well.  She made me feel supported and understood.  Then she said, "Maybe you should get a blog".

Oh wait! I have a blog.  I don't have to sit down and write a book tonight.  I can blog. I can document my journey.  So, here I am.  This is what I'm doing.  Writing.  Obeying.  Serving.