Thursday, January 8, 2015

Living With An Anxious Child


I just looked at the clock and realized why I am fielding tons of questions right now.  Molly starts cheerleading tonight, and while she is excited, she is also anxious.  I have already been asked 20 times what she should wear, how does she need to do her hair, will the other girls be wearing the same thing, who is going to be there, what will the cheers be like, and so on, and so on.  I know anxiety in children is normal, and actually anxiety isn't always a bad thing.  It's good to look forward to something, and to get excited about a new opportunity.  But when you have a child who suffers daily with anxiety you often feel like you are alone on an island or about to slam your head against the wall.

This topic has been heavy on my heart lately, so I wanted to share with you all how we try to deal with Molly's anxious tendencies.  And I am writing this not as a clinical counselor (since I am one), but as a mom who gets tired of answering 901 questions, and wondering if I am the only one.

It all started this past Spring, Molly's anxiousness had grown.  For a very long time Molly was a happy go-lucky, extrovert, never met a stranger, leader of the pack type of kid.  Then we moved from WI to OH, and that part of Molly seemed to stay in WI.  Once we got to Ohio Molly changed.  And some of it we understand being the new kid, knowing not a single sole, we were living with grandparents until we knew what we were doing and where.  I totally understand that her environment and circumstances that she could not control affected her, a lot.  And I still carry A LOT of guilt for all of that.  However, her anxiousness didn't ramp up until we had been here for a couple of months.  It started with her tummy hurting, she felt sick, she didn't want to go to school, she didn't want to wear the style of clothes she had been wearing for the last 6 years of her life.  She just wanted to blend in and not stick out.  Then we started getting calls from the school to come pick her because she felt like she was going to get sick.  We did this song and dance for about a month.

We finally broke down and took her to the doctor, since not one time did she ever really get sick.  Our doctor confirmed what we figured- her anxiety was causing acid reflux, and that's what made her feel like she was going to get sick.  So we decided to start her on reflux medication instead of anxiety medicine.

I remember crying and crying because my 6 year was a dealing with what 30, 40, 50 year olds deal with.  We had the guidance counselor at her school chat with her because we couldn't "fix her."  I never felt like a more ill-equipped parent and counselor.  The counselor couldn't find anything, there were no red flags we were missing.  Her teacher was great and tried to help any way she could.  But in the end we had to teach Molly coping skills and pray she made it through the day.

Here is what we try to do with Molly to help curb her anxiety...

1. Answer questions to the best of your ability- This one can be hard because sometimes I don't have the answers.  For instance, cheerleading tonight, I have zero clue what it will be like or who will be there.  So when I don't have the answers, I am just honest with Molly and say I don't know.  Which sometimes upsets her more, but usually what we do is make a plan of attack.  We talk about what could happen, who we might see, and how it's okay to try new things.

2. Validate their feelings- I often have to tell Molly it's okay to feel this way, it's what you do with that feeling that counts.  I struggle with anxiety and I know how paralyzing it can be.  I share my struggles with Molly, and tell her how I was nervous and scared to do something but I did it, and survived.  We might not like everything we try, and we certainly don't have to keep doing something we don't like, but at least we tried.

3. Have a secret signal- When I was younger my dad and I would always motion "I Love You" to each other with the hand motions of pointing our eyes, then our hearts, then to each other.  My dad taught Molly that when she was about 18 months old.  Whenever Molly would get scared or anxious from that point on we would motion back and forth "I Love You."  That's my way of telling her I see you, I am here, and you will be okay.

4. Push your anxious child past their comfort zone- As a parent it's our job to help our children not just survive in life but thrive.  Sometimes I have to push Molly a little bit to do something new, or talk with someone.  Typically she does great with this.  And she has no clue that I am encouraging her to do something out of her zone.  I signed Molly up for soccer camp last summer because she needed the extra help of the coach and also because it would challenge her to get out of her box.  The first day she was so nervous to go, she knew no one there.  I felt terrible driving away, thinking I had made a mistake, but by the end of the week she had a great time and even earned the most improved player award.

5. Don't mistake their anxiousness for vanity- I am not sure if boys struggle with this or not, but Molly is obsessed with looking in the mirror, like all the time.  She is constantly checking herself out.  But truthfully, she's not vain.  I don't even think she knows what being vain means, I think she is so nervous and anxious about what others may think of her, she needs to make sure she is put together.  I know that sounds like she is being vain, but if you knew her heart, you would know she's not.

6. An anxious child's imagination is often their reality- Molly plays the worst case scenario game a lot, and eventually it becomes her reality.  Last year in school she was terrified to answer questions in class because what if she got it wrong and kids made fun of her.  So her fear paralyzed her.  Molly sometimes gets worried she won't be able to finish all of her lunch in time at school, so she often doesn't eat lunch.  We are constantly going through the what ifs, coming up with game plans, and working out the "okay so this happens, what's so terrible about that"...it's exhausting.

7. Be open and honest about your child's anxiety- I don't tell every single person we meet that Molly suffers with anxiety, but the people who spend the most time with her I absolutely open up to them.  Molly's principal knows that Molly has anxiety issues, and her teacher probably had anxiety after my first meeting with her.  What being honest about your child does is it allows those around them to see them for who they really are and not some weirdo that has issues.  Molly's teacher this year has pulled things out of Molly that no one has ever been able to do before.  Her teacher understands the anxiety Molly has so instead of ignoring her or babying her, she gives her responsibilities and makes her feel important.  She has tapped into something inside of Molly and it has made a huge difference.  Molly is a more active participant in class this year and isn't afraid to try new things at school.

8. Pray for your child- Whether your child struggles with anxiety or not, you should pray for them, and with them.  I am often praying with Molly when she is anxious about something.  It might not "fix it" but it shows Molly that our strength and comfort comes from God alone.  Molly's faith has been tested, and I am sure she has no clue, but I want her to begin to know and rely on God to calm her nerves.  I can teach her coping skills and they may help, but ultimately her peace needs to come from God.

Having an anxious child sometimes feels burdensome.  I look at our happy, care free little neighbor girl and wish Molly could be more like her.  But I also know some of the anxiousness Molly has experienced has helped her become more empathetic towards others.

If your child struggles with anxiety, more than normal, please know you are not alone.  There are a lot of parents who are exhausted from answering multitudes of questions and reassuring their child that they will indeed be okay and survive.  Hang in there, we are in this fight together, and we will survive.       




image source
                

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

About a month or so ago I received a text message from my mom simply asking "are you done blogging?"  At first I thought well no, then maybe, then hmmm...

See when you don't use your voice, you start to lose it, and then it's hard to find it again.  That's me.  I took a way unintentional blogging break, and it's been hard to get back into it.  I share a lot on Instagram so find me there: thefergusonfamily4

So to me that's like my picture blog.  Like my substitute for my voice.  But there's something inside of me that says I am not finished blogging yet.  I still have a little bit of a fight left me in. 

Every year for my birthday my mom will print the previous years blog posts off for me in a book format.  I found Molly last week reading through one.  At first I was like "hey, that's private!"  Silly, I know, since hello I published it on the internet.  But she looked at me and said "I am just trying to get to know you better, mom."

And there you have it.  If for nothing else I will continue to blog so one day my girls can read my words, feel my emotions, and see my heart.

As 2014 comes to a close and my voice is coming back to me, I will say that 2014 was the absolute hardest year and yet the most rewarding year for our family.  Last year at this time we had no clue what we were going to do in 2014, we were praying to God to show us the way.  We had given up on church planting, we had given up on working for a traditional church, we felt lost, alone, and ready to give up altogether on this things we felt called to.  Ministry is not cut and dry, it's not one size fits all.

In February we felt absolute clarity that we were supposed to plant a church.  Once we finally had nothing left to give to God anymore, he gave us all we needed, direction.  We launched our church, Movement Church, on October 12, 2014.  Trust me, church planting is not for the faint of heart.  There were more times I wanted to give up then continue going.  My pillow has been soaked with tears more times than I can count.  But I will say, for no matter how long God continues to allow us to minister at Movement, I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Ministry is a calling, not a job. 

Molly and Lucy both are doing great.  Molly turned 7 this year and Lucy turned 4.  Molly loves second grade, and Lucy loves her preschool class she attends 3 mornings a week.  I started substitute teaching this school year and I love it.  I love the flexibility of the schedule and if I need to miss a day, I totally can.  I also oversee our Kids on the Move ministry at church. 

We have gone from living in our friend's basement, to living with our parents, to buying a house, and actually having someone live with us.  I feel like we have come full circle now.

2014 was the year of the desert, the hilltop, the valley, the mountain, and now the straight road.  It was brutal emotionally and mentally, but through it all God never left our side.  He allowed us to feel comforted and encouraged through it all.  We have great friends and family that held us up when we wanted to fall down.  I can't tell you how many SOS text messages I sent my friends, and how many "you can do this" texts I received back.  

I am looking forward to 2015 with anticipation, unlike 2014- a year I wanted to escape.  I have this expectancy vibe going on for 2015, what will happen at Movement, will we ever be finished fixing up our house, and will Eric and I really run a marathon...see, so much to look forward to.  So it's a good thing I am not done blogging yet.







    

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's a new season...

 {Source}

Sometimes I feel like God allows you to go through seasons of life that you literally cannot describe.  Words escape you, you can't quite pinpoint your feelings, when you go to describe it- you are literally speechless.  During times like that, I feel like God is saying, "umm no, you need to grow through this, you can't share just yet."  So a literal fog kinda comes over you, and it's impossible to lift it on your own. 

That's how I have felt for a better part of the last year, foggy.  There were many times I have tried to sit down and write it all out, just express myself, say screw it and type it.  But literally nothing came out, and what did made absolutely no sense. 

For about the last 2 weeks or so, the urge to write again has been heavy.  I feel like I have a lot to share, from old memories, to current memories with the girls, to planting and starting a brand new church, to what God has taught me through it all. 

At one point I thought about "rebranding" myself and this blog.  But then I realized that's silly, I started this blog for myself, as selfish as that sounds, it's true.  I started it when I was a new mom, and truthfully, I was lonely and needed an outlet.  I also realized as a new mom, I needed a place to write down and share all the little things my kids did and are doing, and what life was like back in 2008.  And that's how this blog will stay. 

So whether one person reads this, or 100, this ye little space on the Internet will remain the same; faith, family, fun, and some food thrown in there, too.




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why is good news so bad?

Here is one thing I have been noticing, and maybe it's just me, I am a highly sensitive person, so it may be just me, but here it is:


When did sharing good news become so bad?

Do you know what I mean?  I often times see on social media, and in person, when someone shares some exciting news, or something great that just happened to them, some people rejoice with them and actually mean it, and some act happy, and then instantly think...
-Why not me?
-I work just as hard as him/her, or I work harder
-What am I doing wrong?
-They must know someone...
-Well good for them, that's great {all of that said in a dripping sarcastic tone}

I am sure the list could go on and on.  Just wait until someone shares good news with you, and you will find yourself saying one of those lines above, or you can add your own.

Good news nowadays almost comes with a stigma, like you have to make an excuse as to why something good happened to you, or why God opened this door for you, or why...insert the blank.  I know I feel this way when I want to share good news.  And I also know I have been on the end of the good news shared thinking, really why them, why not us?

The stigma with good news has really bothered me lately, so much so that I hardly share good news, or when I do, I make excuses to make the one receiving the good news feel better about themselves.  And honestly, this is ridiculous.  I shouldn't feel bad for sharing good news, neither should you.  And I don't really think it's the good news that bothers people, it's the selfishness of why not me too that consumes them.


So here are some tips I think that can aid in sharing and receiving good news...

Good News Sharer:
1. Make sure the timing is appropriate...If you are going to share good news with a person or group, just make sure it's an okay time to do so.  Think before you open your mouth.  It's not that people don't want to hear it, they just need to be in the right frame of mind to hear it.
2. Say it in the most humble, yet proud way possible...Something good happened to you for a reason, be proud of that reason, but also be humbled by that reason.  Church planting has really taught me this.  There are many times I act like it's no big deal that God brought certain people to our team when really it is a BIG DEAL!  We wouldn't be able to move forward without certain key players, and God has provided those key players.  Stay proud and humbled by your good news.     
3. Encourage the ones you are sharing the good news with...People want to know their rainbow is coming at the end of the storm too.  I am not asking you to lie or make anything up, but encourage the people you are with to keep hustling, keep dreaming, keep working hard.  I think the best encouragement comes in the form of personal stories, tell about a time you wanted to give up, and because you didn't or because you did this instead, this happened. 

Now to the ones who are listening to the good news being shared, you are not off the hook...here is my advice to you...

Good News Receivers:
1. Be genuinely happy for the person...This person whether they fully thought about it or not, they are sharing their good news with you, please be happy for them.  Sometimes good news trumps common sense.  A couple days after we lost our baby a friend joyously told me she was expecting and she was elated.  Yes it hurt, yes, it felt unfair, yes, my physical wounds of this lost life were still there, but my friend was happy.  She knew I lost a baby, but again, good news sometimes trumps common sense.  I was happy for her, but sad for me.  But I rejoiced with the good news.  That may be an extreme example, but just know sometimes people are not going to be able to think about all that is going on in your life before they spew their good news.
2. Don't take it personally...This one is harder said than done.  Their good news is not a reflection of your life, of your dream, of your hustle, or your fill in the blank.  It's not because you didn't do something they are now getting a reward.  I often hesitate to share good news about our church plant because I know so many other planters are struggling, and I don't want to make them feel bad.  But the truth is every situation is different.  Sometimes they win and we lose, and sometimes we win and they lose.
3. Keep hustling and dreaming...Don't give up after hearing someones good news.  Most people feel defeated after hearing something about someone else, like "oh great all the awesome prizes in life are taken now, I concede."  Someones good news should spur you on to keep dreaming, keep working, keep going.  After I hear something good from someone working towards the same goal as me I do feel defeated and kinda like why them not me, but then after I get that out of my system, I get a little competitive and think "if they can do it, so can I."

I am not sure when this transition of good news being so bad happened, but I think we need to reverse the stigma associated with good news.  Lets rejoice with those who rejoice, lets be happy for them, and lets not think about ourselves and what we aren't achieving in that one single moment.  People have good news to share, do not make them regret sharing it with you.        


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Being U-NEEK

I have had the amazing opportunity to review a product for DaySpring.  And actually, my kids are the ones who are benefiting the most from this opportunity.  We have been having fun learning about and playing with DaySpring's line of U-NEEKS.

U-NEEKS started off as drawings and doodles, and they have now evolved into so much more.  Here is what I love about the U-NEEK line...

"U-NEEKS are about, helping kids discover during those key years, who God made them to be."

"U-NEEKS are here to point them back to God, back to their creator, to discover how God made them and for what purpose.  Once they discover not just that they are different or U-NEEK, but even more importantly that God made them in an amazing and wonderful way!" ~Bob Perryman {DaySpring's Senior Product Marketing Director}

I think most parents can agree that we tug that fine border of wanting our kids to be unique and wanting them to just fit in.  I know I hug that border like a tight rope.  I know I am proud of the ways Molly is different from her classmates, but at the same time I honestly struggle with the differences, too.

Being able to teach both Molly {age 6} and Lucy {age 3} that they can be confident in the way that God uniquely made them is a huge win for me and being able to use the U-NEEKS line from DaySpring is an added bonus.  U-NEEKS are awesome in that way, and they are so...U-NEEK, you haven't seen anything like them in stores.

I also love that you can find U-NEEKS for a limited time in stores like Wal-Mart and Hobbly Lobby!  But hurry, most stores are only carrying them from June15-July 14.  But don't worry, you can find them online here!

Molly and Lucy at Hobby Lobby

One rainy day when the neighbor girl was over, I broke out my U-NEEK loot and let the girls all play with it.  I let them just discover the stickers, read the descriptions, and try and figure it all out themselves.  They did a pretty good job, and we talked a little bit more about God making us unique.  We discussed our differences, ways we were alike, and how to appreciate it all.


I think the girls liked the temporary tattoos the best!  But I love the the little U-NEEK cards that Molly can give to her friends, or I can pack them in her lunchbox during the school year.  Another thing that is great about the U-NEEK line, it's all affordable!  Imagine that, kid stuff that you can actually afford!  

You can also go to the ITunes or Googleplay Store and download the U-NEEK app!!  How cool is that?!  Just search U-NEEK, and download!   

It isn't easy being unique, and it certainly isn't easy for kids to accept that they are unique.  We all want to fit in, and not stand out.  But God created us all uniquely, and once we learn to appreciate our uniqueness, then I think we can start really living, and enjoying the unique world God created for us. 

{I was not paid in any way for this review.  This review was all my own opinion after receiving products to review for DaySpring/UNEEKS}

   

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Church Planting Is Changing My Marriage

The other day while unpacking the millionith box in the basement I came across some old photos.  My first thought was "these are awesome for #throwbackthursday."  Nice, right?  More like vain, yet awesome, just wait, those photos will make an appearance.  Then it hit me, we have changed. 

Eric and I went out on our very first date on August 19, 1999.  That was the day I turned 15 and a half, and got my drivers permit.  My parents let me drive to Eric's house, I am sure they were just as scared as I was, but we made it in one piece.  They were actually in a Bible study that met at Eric's parents house.  I am sure as we pulled away in Eric's hot rod car, a white Dodge Daytona, more affectionately called the "white stallion" (the car, not Eric) all the group members were reminiscing about their first dates, and so on.

I met Eric when I was in third grade when a friend invited me to her church.  Eric was the little boy all the girls had a crush on, and we all wanted to sit by him, and we all wanted to be his partner, and he was just like get away from me.  I pined after Eric from third grade until the summer before my sophomore year of high school.  I even dated another boy for a whole year before Eric and I went out on our first date, but broke it off with him because deep down I really liked Eric.

I think back fondly to our first date, and realize what I was most attracted to in Eric were vain qualities, yet very real things for me at that age.  I loved that Eric played sports, I loved that he had a car, I loved that he had a lot of friends, and I loved that he looked out for me.  Not that any of that stuff is bad, but was it going to build a future and a marriage?

From our first date back in August of '99, we have been together.  Who I am kidding, I have loved that boy since I was 8!  Over the last 15 years our relationship has changed, twisted, turned, and flipped upside down a couple of hundred times.  We have pushed our vows to the limit of sickness and health, richer or poorer, well maybe not richer, ha!  But truthfully there have been days giving up has seemed easier than trudging through.  And honestly, I have given up.  There are days I throw the towel in because I am too tired to fight, too tired to talk it out, too tired to find a solution.  Marriage is exhausting.

 {source}

Eric and I have always been in the ministry since the day we said "I do."  I don't know anything else, and I don't want to know anything else.  Ministry has looked vastly different over the years for us, and we have changed over the years right along with ministry.  Now that we are planting a church, our marriage is changing right along with our ministry roles.

We always say church planting is high risk, high reward.  And so is marriage in church planting.  Going through this adventure I have seen my husband go from the mountain top to the bottom of the valley in an hour, I have seen his heart break for people and opportunities.  I have witnessed a lot in the last year, and my view of my husband and our marriage has changed.

At the beginning of this journey to plant a church I would have told you we had been through a lot, we were stronger than ever, and we were bullet proof.  After some time and reflections, I can only laugh at those thoughts.  It's like when you prepare for kids, you read the books, go to the classes, talk to friends, then you have a baby and you realize you have no clue what you are doing.  Yea, that's marriage in church planting.

But marriage and church planting is not all bad either.  I can say we have honestly found out what the other one is made of.  When Eric is low, I am high, and vice versa.  I have had to step up into uncomfortable roles for me, and just do it, because we are all in this thing, whether it's comfortable or not.  I have watched my once strong and unbreakable 16 year old boyfriend get beat up, knocked around, and weakened during this process.  I have always held Eric in high regard, he was my best friend before he was boyfriend, and now the bar of respect has just grown tremendously through this process.

Eric is capable of more than I ever thought, like he amazes me on a daily basis with his determination and courage.  My husband is not perfect, he is just a guy who has a calling on his life to reach people no one else is reaching, and to do it in the name of Jesus.  And for that I am eternally grateful, and humbled, and honestly I love being in the passenger seat of this marriage while my husband drives the memorable "White Stallion."         

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Biggest Lesson God Is Teaching Me

Over the better part of the last 9 months God has been teaching me a major lesson.  Like major.  And it's a hard one, and it stinks at times, and it makes me want to yell uncle more often than not.  Here is my life changing lesson...

DO NOT SETTLE

Do not settle on anything, like nothing, nope, don't even think about it...do not settle.  I am a complacent, comfortable person, so naturally this lesson is hard.  

When Eric and I decided to pursue church planting we were in the midst of a great, thriving ministry.  We loved everything about life, but it was comfortable.  And I honestly don't believe as a Christ follower we are called to be comfortable.  When we moved back to Ohio we were planning on starting a church in Toledo, because that was good enough, close enough, fill in the blank enough.  When we were approached about another ministry opportunity that would have been an awesome experience, it would have just been good enough.  It was a ministry that we could have easily done for years and years and would have been great at, but was it what God really wanted us to do? 

Both of these opportunities would have meant a pay check, insurance, and stability, so trust me when I say it was incredibly hard to say no.  We wrestled and wrestled, but truthfully as hard as it was to say no, it was also freeing because we knew God had more for us.  These opportunities just wet our appetite, for what was to come.  

Over the last 9 months I just keep thinking and feeling; don't settle, don't settle, don't settle.  

Eric and I have been relentless with this mindset.  From housing, to ministry, to family life, we are not settling.  When I talk to other people, the best advice I can give them is don't settle.  I totally get there are seasons of life where you need to just do what you need to do, and settle for a time.  

I recently watched Jim Carey's commencement speech he gave and what really stood out to me was:
"So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality."
"...you can fail at what you don't want.  So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."  

I have been writing and sharing a lot about blind obedience, and it hit me the other day, true faithful obedience is blind.  We are not super human for walking blindly through life, we are actually doing exactly what God has called us to do.  Because if we knew what was ahead of us, we would probably settle in a disobedient way.