Monthly Archives: May 2012

For the Love of a Mother; Safe in the Arms of The Father

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Focus on Foster Care

By: Becky Shaffer of Saving Grace Inc.

Psalm 27:10, Message

My father and mother walked out and left me,
but God took me in.

I remember hearing my Sunday school teacher read this passage many years ago.  I got it…from the moment I heard it, I understood what it meant and that it was indisputable truth.  I knew God was my father….my daddy, and that my future would be different than my present.  My biological father was not home about 99% of my childhood…he came home when he was lonely, thus Mama gave birth to my baby brother…one more mouth to feed, one more reason for her to scream.  She was a violent woman and she gave no warning, at least the little girl I was could never predict when she was going to “blow”.  (You can read more about my childhood at here.)

I was eventually taken away from my mother….only because of my trouble with the police from the age of eleven to twelve.  They had no idea the violence I was enduring at home and how I found myself in a “family” of crank/meth users and dealers.  I was taken to a children’s home where I thrived.  I was behind in school and out of the kindness of their hearts (because I was so “big” for my age) the school administration only placed me one year behind where I should have been.  I was tall and clumsy, with no social graces…had no idea what personal hygiene was, much less how to read and spell.  I am certain I read at an early elementary level.  I began to thrive in school….can I just say I was smart?  It was one of the best feelings in the world…I’d felt dumb my entire life.  If I were to be honest, I still struggle with feeling dumb. 

I spent time with a young mom while at the children’s home—she had a house full of little ones.  It was through watching her that I learned to be a mom.  Her babies were always happy, her house was always messy, her husband loved her and she loved him….I knew I wanted this for my life, and for the children I had yet to give birth to.  The problem was I had no idea how to get it.  The “discipline” I knew at the cruel hands of my mother was so far different than the love and care this young couple gave to their children….always loving them…hugging, kissing… after correction…even after a spanking (which wasn’t that often), love.  Times spent with them were light hearted and fun.  They had no idea how I watched them, learning from their every move. 

It was time for me to graduate from high school.  I chose a Christian College too far away from the love and care of the staff at the children’s home I’d learned to love and trust.  I was terrified when I got to school, so scared and alone…back to not belonging.  I met a boy and not long after meeting him, became pregnant…then married, in that order.  We gave birth to our first daughter and I knew without a doubt I was going to breast feed her….just like the young mother I spent so much time with in my childhood.  My “real” family thought I was crazy for doing such a thing… “Why would you do that, it’s just nasty?”  When I think about that now it makes me laugh!  Really, it does!  This coming from people who live in the filthiest conditions, men in and out of their home, drugs and alcohol laying around in reach of their children…and I’m “nasty”.  That’s just funny to me!  Ok…feeling just a little sarcastic here people!  Well, I didn’t listen to their rejection….I took memories of my time with the young mother and tried to mimic all she did…messy house and all!  Christin got a bath daily, she was breast fed…which is one of my most treasured memories with my babies….and oh my goodness, did I have so much more to learn!  My feelings of sorrow over my own childhood caused so much guilt and brought about negative thoughts…like, “How can I be a good mom after my mother’s example?”   I spent time and money trying to make up for where I felt like I was failing my baby girl.

It wasn’t until I began to get into the Word that I realized so many things….Here are some scripture that helped grow me into the mom God wanted me to be.

He took my simple and backward ways and grew me into a wise mama!

Psalm 19:7

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

 

He reminded me that it was His strength that I needed to rely on, not my own…and when I’m weak, then I’m strong!

II Corinthians 12:9

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

In more recent years, He reminded me that He knit my children together in my womb and that their salvation was between them and Him….not me, them and Him!

Psalm 139:13

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

My children belong to Him…He created them and He worked out their salvation…they can’t get to heaven through me.  I know most of us know this, but do we live it?  I remember when my oldest was in high school and she took Russian as her choice of foreign language.  In total, she took it from 6th grade all the way through her senior year of high school.  She wanted to go to Russia and teach English and spread the gospel.  I began to pray and ask God to not allow it…Russia was so far away and so dangerous for a young girl.  She didn’t go.  When she went to college, she got involved with a boy who convinced her that her parents were crazy and you don’t have to go to church to be “saved”…she walked away from everything she had been raised to believe.  She was well grounded in the Truth.  During that first year she was away from home and had nothing to do with her family, God began to reveal to me that there are much farther and more dangerous places one can travel than Russia.  He showed me that my children are His and they are only on this planet for a moment….then on to eternity. 

Our oldest is still working out things that are between her and God….and it is my job (as hard as it is to keep quiet) to pray for her and fight on my knees.  I have two more girls at home…one going into her senior year of high school this fall and one going into the third grade. 

We read “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young on the way to school each morning…I want so badly to write God’s word on their hearts until the time comes that I can’t do it anymore…that time does come girls…we only have their sweet hearts but for a moment.  I still cry out to God that He would protect their hearts, eyes, and ears….from evil.  I pray for all of my girls in this way.  I ask that He would bring godly men into their lives….but I also pray this; “Lord, if You don’t mean for them to marry, but to serve You…I’m good with that.  Please let their hearts be sold out to serving You and Lord if that means, no son-in-law for me, no grandbabies…I am good with that too.”  Girls, we are only on this planet but for a few precious moments…then it’s on to eternity.  I want my girls to know God in such a way that it is the lover of their souls they pursue…nothing more, nothing less.

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This past Mother’s Day proved to be a time of reflection for me…a year ago I read a book “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp.   May 13th’s Joy Dare, 3 gifts found in your mother…. I couldn’t think of three gifts for quite some time.  I ignored the question all day and read other post from women who came from a long line of godly girls.  That wasn’t my story and I knew it, so I ignored.  My sweet family got up and went to church, laughing and cutting up all the way…dreaming about our vacation coming up in June, still I ignored.  I sat and worshiped with my husband at my side, still I ignored.  We came home and I sat with my feet up and read cards, smelled pink roses, while my husband and girls cooked…we ate together and played “guesstures” and laughed hysterically until we cried and still I ignored.  “My mother gave me no gifts”, I spoke quietly to my heart all day. 

 

Later Sunday evening, after getting everyone tucked into bed I began to allow myself to reflect…3 gifts found in my mother. 

  1. God, my heavenly father, Daddy, Abba.
  2. God, His word.
  3. My mother allowed other women to come in and fill the gap where she fell so short…for she came from a long line of bitter, abusive women…not godly girls.  She really had nothing to glean from as a mother.

 

 It is my hope and prayer that I leave my girls with these three gifts.

  1. God is your heavenly father, Daddy, Abba….they are His princess.  Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God! (Romans 8:38-39)
  2. God’s word written on their hearts!  —because when they are old they will not depart from it! (Proverbs 22:6)  All that they do, every decision will be filtered through the word of God I spoke to them and over them!
  3. Delight in the Lord…He will give you the desires of your heart…the Bible says so. (Psalm 37:4) —Find your joy in Him!

The next time your path crosses with a young mama who obviously has no clue…you know the ones that really aggravate you?  She’s got a baby on the way and the one in the Walmart buggy has a bottle with soda or tea…just to shut ‘em up…all while talking loud and a mile a minute on her cell phone about the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard since you were in junior high.  What if you invested in that one girl?  I mean really invested….time, energy, prayer and coming along her side…the not so lovable and teach her a different way.  Willing yourself not to judge or be critical, but with the most tender love and care….mentor her.   I can’t imagine if I had not been taught a different way than the way I was raised….live would have been so drastically different for my precious girls.

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody,

I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.  ~Mother Teresa

Focus on Foster Care Week:
 
Sunday: Introduction: Focus on Foster Care– We highlighted three unique ministries that serve foster children in creative ways.

Wednesday: 10 Things I Forgot About Life with Strangers– Becky Shaffer will give practical advice about fostering from the perspective of someone who has lived it.

Thursday: Voices of Foster Siblings– We will hear from two children, who are now adults, about what it was like to grow up in a home in which their biological families welcomed foster children.

Friday: Voices of Foster Mothers– We will hear from several foster mothers about the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of fostering.

Introduction: Focus on Foster Care

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Focus on Foster Care

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4 ESV

May is National Foster Care Month.  We at Mosaic Of Moms have a heart for all forms of mothering including foster mothering.

Our purpose for this week is to encourage those who are currently working with foster children, to bring awareness to the need for Godly homes for these children, and to inspire our readers to consider new areas of ministry.

This week we bring perspectives from some outstanding women who have experienced the foster care system in various forms: as a foster child, as foster mothers, and as foster siblings.

As part of our focus, we also want to highlight three ministries that reach out with Christ’s arms to the foster children of Northwest Arkansas. 

  • First, The C.A.L.L. (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime) is a Christian non-profit Foster Care Church Initiative in which various churches are partnering with the leadership of the Arkansas DHHS’ Division of Children and Family Services.  The idea is that prospective foster, adoptive, and respite care parents can go through state-approved training WITHIN a church setting and therefore have a built-in support system within the church family.  Their name originates from God’s call on the Church: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27.  Their mission is “to educate, equip and encourage the Christian community to provide a future and a hope for the children in foster care.” (Facebook Link)

  • Second is OpenOurEyesPhotography. Desiree Howard started this business a little over one year ago. She loves photography. Always has since she was little. It’s more than a hobby or business; it’s a passion. Pictures bring memories to life. They help us remember. Photos should be fun and full of life. Full of realness. When you look at a picture you should see personality. They should make you smile and laugh. Her passion for photography goes hand in hand with a desire to help others.  And after much prayer and seeking the Lord through His Word about starting this business, God led her to donating to foster care families, adoptive families, and missions. Desiree believes what God desires of all of us is to pursue our God-given talents and passions and that those will always involve others. This is what drives this business. Or should we say WHO. (Facebook Link)

 

 

  • Finally,  Saving Grace, Inc. This ministry for young women who age-out of the foster system, provides transitional living and life skills training that addresses the whole person.   Their purpose is to be “a Christ centered, safe harbor offering acceptance, restoration and hope to young women of Northwest Arkansas, preparing them for inter-dependent living.”   (Facebook Link)

Our friend, Becky Shaffer, is the Co-Founder & Executive Director of Saving Grace Inc.  She grew up in the foster system and then became a foster-mother.  God blessed Becky with the vision of SGI, and through her obedience, God is using this ministry to shape the lives of many young women in NWA.  Our very own Kerri Young was on the Founding Board. 🙂  Melissa, Gretchen, and I have been involved with this ministry in various ways as well.  This ministry is dear to our heart and so is Becky!

Becky will be our main guest blogger this week!  We are honored that she would share with us God’s amazing work in her life.

This week at MosaicOfMoms:

Monday: For the Love of a Mother; Safe in the Arms of The Father Becky Shaffer will share her testimony of growing up in the foster system and how those experiences shaped her as a mother.

Wednesday: 10 Things I Forgot About Life with Strangers– Becky Shaffer will give practical advice about fostering from the perspective of someone who has lived it.

Thursday: Voices of Foster Siblings– We will hear from two children, who are now adults, about what it was like to grow up in a home in which their biological families welcomed foster children.

Friday: Voices of Foster Mothers– We will hear from several foster mothers about the greatest joy and the greatest challenge of fostering.

 

 

Summertime Schedule

Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water.  Ezekiel 19:10

By: Gretchen Speer

A few weeks ago we got a letter from our kids’ school.  It was informing us that because there was only one snow day this year our kids would be getting out three weeks earlier than they had originally planned.  In the interest in keeping it real here, I will tell you that when I read that letter I did not experience a flood of joy.  I believe my exact reaction was, “WHAT???”  That is a long summer!

I do my best to do things outside of our house during the summer, but there are plenty days where we stay home.  Last year, in anticipation of the usual boredom complaint I made out a schedule to follow.  It was a way to work in everything that needed to be done in the day while still making sure to have plenty of fun and relaxation.  It also helped me keep a handle on the amount of time my kids were spending in front of the TV.  On the days that we were out and about we didn’t worry about the schedule.  Once we were home and settled from swimming or the library we just jumped right back into it.

Outside time:  This could mean playing in the back yard, taking a walk, going to the park, playing in the sprinklers or doing sidewalk chalk on the driveway.  I schedule it first thing in the morning so that it’s never to hot to go out.  It’s nice to start the day this way.

TV time:  This is one show or one short video.

Room Play Time:  I always tell my kids they have to play with actual toys during this time-no electronics!  During this time I ask them to play in their rooms.  This is usually when I am able to clean, read or check email for the most part in peace.

Snack/TV time: A light snack and then part of a tv show if they have time once they are finished.

Chore Time:  Remember those chore charts?  We have new ones for the summer:)  If you missed that post you can see it here.

Homework Time:  Homework in the summer?  Absolutely!  During this time we do grade level math and reading worksheets.  My kids also like www.brainpop.com and www.funbrain.com.  My DS worked a lot on his typing last summer too.

Play Time:  This play time is when play dough, finger or water paints, or other crafts are an option.  Sometimes my kids would rather just play than do any of these.

Reading Time:  Reading time is right before rest time for a reason-and it works:)  This summer I am going to use this time to read through the Narnia books with the kids.  If your kids are reading you can let them take turns reading during this time.

Rest Time:  Depending on how old your kids are this may or may not work for you.  My olders actually do really well playing quietly if they don’t feel the need to actually rest.  My youngers are still napping in the afternoon.  During this time my olders play on their DS, listen to Adventures in Odssey, color, and play with their toys in their room.

Snack Time:  Far enough away from supper to not spoil any tiny appetites.  Their TV time allows me to do some dinner prep.

Chore Time:  This is just to pick up the house, and do any chores we didn’t have time to do earlier.  They usually get things done pretty quickly so they can do brain pop:)

Room Play Time:  I put this on the schedule so I could get dinner in the oven without lots of company in the kitchen.  To be honest, this is the one thing that just didn’t work.  We’ll see if it will this summer:)

I know I am always looking for ideas to pass the time in the summer, I hope this was helpful to you!  What things do you do with your kids to pass the long hot summer days at home?

Also see: Summer Schedule: Take Two

 

 

 

 

Weeding: Conversations with God in the Garden

Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10 ASV

By: Gretchen Speer

PsalmThe woman who lived in our house before us left us with some beautiful landscaping.  I remember standing in the back yard the day we closed on our house and thinking it was just a shame that it wouldn’t look that beautiful for long.  To say I don’t have a green thumb would be a bit of an understatement, but I do attempt every year to get the weeds pulled and trim up the plants.  This year my faithful helpers and I started pulling.  As I knelt down to get a good look at how much work we had ahead of us I realized that this wasn’t just going to be pulling some weeds.  Full on grass had grown up in the planters.  I got so frustrated thinking about the hours and hours of work ahead of us. My first thought was to dump a massive amount of mulch on it to cover it up, but I knew it would be only a matter of time before the weeds and grass just popped up through that.  Grrrr, I hate yard work.  As always, when I am least expecting it, God started to work on my heart….

God:  You have some weeds

Me: Yes, I know I can see them

God:  In your heart

Me:  Ug

God:  Jealousy, Pride, Bitterness, Insecurities, Fear…..

It was then that I realized I had been covering these weeds with layers and layers of good intentions, and not really dealing with them.  It would take work to remove them, and just when I think the work is done they would try to pop back up.  Not removing them would mean making the conscious choice to slowly allow them to overtake my heart.  Grrr, I hate yard work.

I looked down at my faithful helpers and saw them looking to see what my reaction would be to the weeds.  Would I put the work in to make their environment beautiful, or would I cover the weeds and in doing so teach them to cover them as well.

What weeds are in your heart?  We all have them, the question is are we choosing to remove them or are we choosing to cover them up.  Our tiny, ever- present accountability partners are watching closely to see what we will do.  Our decisions affect both their environment and their understanding for how to properly remove a weed.

Happy Gardening Mommas!

 

Monster Heads: DIY Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

“Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” Colossians 3:17 MSG

By: Jennifer Mullen 

So it has been five months since I wrote Permission to Be Imperfect. In that post I listed my five New Year’s resolutions, one of which was to develop healthier eating habits.  In the past five months I have lost 30 pounds by just calorie counting.  (That is a post for another day.)  Today I want to focus on the secondary purpose of that resolution: modeling healthy eating habits for my kids!

My daughter was getting into a habit of expecting a treat after every meal or every accomplishment.  I knew we had to make some changes. Because my daughter is still young, it is the perfect time to make new cooking traditions and to teach my daughter how to choose foods that would make her body strong. 

Instead of making peanut butter cookies with lots of added sugar, we tried this super easy recipe I saw on Dr. Oz. My daughter calls them Monster Heads.  (By the way… watching Dr. Oz is not something I would have done before the New Year.)

What you will need:

You only need two ingredients in a one-to-one ratio. I did one cup of each: 

1-Uncooked Oats (Good source of whole grain fiber) 

2- Peanut Butter(I used the natural Jif)

 

You can add other things!  

I didn’t have enough Jif so I added some crunchy peanut butter.  Also, I found half of a bag of chocolate chips in my cabinet left over from our Christmas baking.  Before my New Year’s resolution they would have never made it past January in my cabinet!  So, to make it more like a treat we added a 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips.  You could also add dried fruits, nuts, or honey.   You may want to try this recipe with almond butter or sunbutter.  If you do, let me know what you think.

Measure and mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Be prepared to get messy!!!  This is a great multi-sensory activity for your kids.  Also, what is great about this is that you can eat it right out of the bowl.  I am one of those mommas who deny my children the joy of eating raw cookie batter in fear of salmonella poisoning!

                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we rolled the batter up into balls and placed then on a glass dish.  Dr. Oz said to put them in the fridge over night, but we could only wait two hours. 🙂  They did have a better texture the next day, but we enjoyed then just the same after nap time.  We served them in cupcake holders.

 

 

 

 

 

This activity provided great a opportunity to explicitly talk to my daughter about healthy treats.  I told her that the peanut butter has healthy fats that help her brain work and proteins that will make her muscles strong.  I explained to her that God made oats to give us energy.  I also pointed out that we did not add sugar because we don’t have to have sugar to make things yummy.  She ate these for a snack or as a protein replacement at mealtime.   

This recipe yields 14 Monster Heads.

1 serving: 150 calories, 10 g carbs, 2 g of dietary fiber, and 5 g of protein