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Sunday, August 3, 2014

You don't realize the power of one little word

I was gifted the other night, with the opportunity to simply listen to a mom's story who has special needs children.  This mom has a child severely affected with autism as well as some other special needs children in her family and is doing a remarkable job with a husband who works primarily out of town much of a year.  Let there be no  mistake about it.  Parenting one special needs child is hard enough, but having two or more can be downright daunting for the average person who will remark, "I don't know how you do it!"  Believe me, we don't really know, either, you just do what needs to be done and it's simply the love for one's children that drives parents.

What I have discovered working with special needs children and their families, each need to not only feel valued, but be valued.  One mother said to me that her disabled child "saved my life" due to a tumor being discovered while pregnant with this child during a routine ultrasound. 

The majority of the parents who have disabled or special needs children are suffering, however.  Whether it's lack of sleep due to their children's health issues; lack of a social life for both the parents and their children; trying to get the proper treatment, in it's various forms for their children; struggling with the school system to provide a proper education for their children, which is federally mandated by law; or financially making it due to one parent often needing to stay home with their children due to the severity of the child's disability.  Parents of special needs kids have to fight and advocate for EVERYTHING that most folks take for granted.  Even simple childhood activities like teaching kids to swim or ride their bikes is a huge undertaking, not to mention being invited to a peer's birthday party or social activity put on at school.  Sadly, some parents also report being asked not to come back to church due to their child's disruptive behavior. Many have simply stopped going because it's simply a huge ordeal to attend in even the best of circumstances. Our kids tend to get over stimulated and highly reactive and for those who don't feel supported they end up simply staying at home instead.  

What we can't forget, however, is in order for parents of special needs kids to care the best for their kids, they need to be supported and refueled on a regular basis rather than what tends to happen; forgotten.  We all tend to be wrapped up in our own worlds.  Its all to easy to do.  

What was such a blessing, however, to both me and this mom, was simply having a sacred space to talk and allow for her to pour her heart out; sharing unfulfilled plans and simply starting to express to another person the "wondering" as to how things can start to turn around for not only her kids, but for her, personally.  Simply by asking questions and offering support, this mom was blessed and so much so, that she reported to me that she had later had the best sleep she had had in a long time.  Wow!  Makes me wonder what more the Lord wants to do through our talks.  

As my kids are learning in our evening devotions, there is something to be said about "Hope"
"[b]we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but [c]we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."  Romans 5:2b-5 NASB
You don't realize the power of just one little word.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

On the Move

On the move.  For the second time since moving to Northern Idaho, we have moved, once again.  Fortunately, it was a short move, only to the house next door.  Despite the hassle that comes with moving, it has been a blessing to our family.  As I'm sitting on my deck, which is a much better deck than the house we left, I'm struggling to focus on just one positive result of our new living situation.  This house, although slightly smaller, has air conditioning, cheaper rent and more energy efficient as well has a bigger yard and awesome landlords:  our former neighbors!

I came out to the quiet of the deck to work on this post on a beautiful summer evening and before long, have been followed by two of my four children.  I lamented at coming out where it was "quiet" and they both retorted, "You have 4 children.  There's no such thing as having a quiet place".  With this house being smaller than our other house, it will be challenging to find such a quiet place to work when the kids are awake, but we will adjust.  My children are such a blessing to me.  Despite the challenges and trials of single parenting, each of my children are such a gift and we certainly are learning the art of compromise.

As I think about explaining the benefits of coaching, I'm keenly aware of the lessons the Lord is teaching me and making me aware of.  It takes asking the right questions, being sensitive to focusing on what is truly important in life, what one's values are and taking steps for positive change once that awareness is realized. It takes action!

It's hard to get going sometimes, though,  and the tendency is complacency and adapting to the way things are, but yet not really living life to the fullest.  What comes with that, of course, is a lack of growth and feeling "stuck" leading to frustration.  Being in a sense, "compelled to move", can have various results depending on one's disposition despite the circumstances.  I really don't like the process of moving.  My mother still lives in the house I was raised in and the only time I moved was when I was about 20 and I moved north from our family home south of Seattle up to Bellingham, roughly 100 miles away, to go to college.  The moves as a single person were of my own initiation and exciting.  I moved quite a few times during college and after but it was not a big deal as a young, single woman.  Once my husband and I got married, we moved twice before we started our family and lived in the same house for 12 years, where all our children were born.

Since Joshua, our youngest, was born 8 years ago, we have moved now, six times.  It is so much harder moving with children!  The last 3 times, since moving to Northern Idaho, we have been so blessed by friends and family, helping with packing and moving.  Despite the trials that come with moving, not to mention the disappointment of being asked to move due to owners wanting to sell the rental house, there is a lot to be learned and many blessings, especially when you make yourself open to them, "creating awareness".  For example, I am learning, as I near the end of my 40's, that "Less is more", and God has a plan and I need to trust Him in what I will be learning through the experience, gratefully purging and focusing on what is most important.  I am grateful for all the wonderful people we have met along our journey these past 8 years in the various places we have lived.  I am also learning how to manage each of my children's special needs while also figuring out how to balance my own, to not only get re-charged, but to find that quiet time and space to enjoy the Presence of the Lord so as to seek His direction as a parent and with regards to how He wants to use me, flawed as I am.  I am learning to prioritize and discerning what is taking up space and robbing time from what is of utmost importance.  There is truth to the adage to "count one's blessings" for they are always there.

Our family has been through a lot of changes these last 8 years, some have been challenging but within these times of change and challenge, we have learned a lot, especially in regards to God's faithfulness.  Life is full of change.  Hopefully, we are making changes for the better and I can see of no better way to support one another on this journey than the talks we have during our re-instituted evening devotions.  We currently reading the lives of the saints from Amy Welborn's Loyola Kids Book of Heroes and Loyola Kids Book of Saints.  We need all the help we can get along this life's journey and learning of the faith of those who have gone before us and how their experiences relate to ours, today, is a blessing our entire family benefits from.

How has God been moving you and how have you responded to life's changes?


Thursday, April 24, 2014

What if...?

I'm currently working part time, as a Habilitative Intervention Specialist, with kids who have autism and dual diagnoses.  My personal experience, as well as listening to the stories of families who struggle with raising their children in this day and age, clearly exemplifies that we truly need "the village" to support us on this journey.  Parents are needing assistance in many valuable ways.


 Now, of course, all families need support, however, I would like to be so bold to say that in this day and age, with the government being the first to cut social services for those with disabilities, we need to be prepared to all pitch in to help those among us with special needs.  The private sector programs and associations that raise money to help our special needs kids, need to be supported.  There are a variety of treatment options, with the evidence based ones being gratefully covered by insurance.  However, there are also many treatment options out there not covered by insurance and some controversy with what treatments are best to use and whether or not diets are of any help with our special needs kids. Not to mention, families with special needs kids don't have a wealth of resources in my experience and are limited in what kind of treatments and special diets they can afford.   Oh, it would be great if kids could get a completely covered, full head to toe exam to see what is working properly in their bodies and what is not so that proper treatment can be utilized and healing could result!  Finding a doctor who is knowledgeable in biomedical approaches is a key factor and not always easily located or affordable.

In the mean time, families need to be supported in their communities and the various Churches need to be on the front line, not only providing financial assistance, but more importantly, volunteers need to be trained to walk along side these families and kids who are in need, especially when government resources become even more scarce.  Sounds a lot like the early Church, doesn't it?

I heard it said that the Church was always in the past, the social service sector of society, and I have confident that they, once again, can do an exceptional job as the storehouses of the Lord are limitless!  When I was in my early twenties, I was a staff member of a camp, Royal Family Kids Camp, funded not by the government, but by donors.  This week long camp was staffed by volunteers who were trained to work with kids with a history of abuse and neglect.  It's been going on for about 29 years now.  There are more and more resources  and ministries popping up to do just that with regards to children with special needs, such as  Key Ministry and Young Life, which has been doing such a ministry reaching out to teens with disabilities for years, with The Capernaum Project: .  I have the privilege of knowing the directors, Blaine and Susan Clyde who head up the ministry in Seattle, Young Life Open Door, which does such great work with these young people with such devotion and love.

How does a Life Coach play into all of this?  Coaching, whether Individual or Group Coaching, provides parents the space to explore what can help not only their kids, but their family in general, while also not forgetting the fact that while mom and dad are looking for ways to help their kids live out their potential, they also need to consider their own needs.  Parents of special needs kids easily "forget" that they need to give themselves some much needed "oxygen" (such as when an airplane loses cabin pressure) so that they can better serve their families.  What would it look like if you as a parent, had the space to discuss your dreams and make goals, not to the neglect of your family, of course, but to better enhance your marriage and family life in general?  What would it look like to see each member of your family achieve their God given potential and thus, positively impact the world around you?


If you would like to explore Life Coaching to see how it can positively impact your life, please contact me and if you are a parent of a special needs child, consider signing up for Group Coaching to not only learn from other parents, but be encouraged as you (re)discover dreams you may have put aside.  If you are drawn more to Individual Coaching, that is also easily arranged.  Please mention "Special Needs" to make use of the discount rate offered.

E-mail me or call today:  Sheilamh67@gmail.com or 208-966-4338 to schedule your first free inquiry call and discover what coaching can do for you and positively impact your family!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Now offering Group Coaching for Parents of Special Needs Kids!

As a parent of a special needs child, making sense of the resources available, techniques to use with one's child that brings order  and peace to one's home is imperative.  Even implementing a special diet can be a daunting task. The recent government shut down and the state of our health care system impressed upon me the fact that we need to be more resourceful when there comes a time that help for our kids isn't so readily available.  With that in mind, group coaching becomes a valuable opportunity in which to harvest the collective wisdom of a group centered on a common theme, helping families find the answers and the support to make the changes necessary to positively impact their child, family and life as a parent.

Why Group Coaching?

  • Group coaching offers direction and the answers you seek as you consider where you and your family are now and helps to develop a road map taking you to where you want to be as a family.
  • Group coaching utilizes not only the benefits of the coaching process, but the opportunity to learn from others going down a similar path while encouraging/challenging one another to make the changes that you seek and to where God is calling you forth.     

Jennifer J. Britton, in her book Effective Group Coaching, states that,
Great group coaches bring to their profession solid group facilitation skills, as well as mastery of core coaching skills and approaches.  They create a solid and intimate connection with their groups, and listen for what the participants want is important to them, so that the group's agenda is respected.  Great group coaches adopt their style and approach based on the different needs, creating the space for clients to learn from each other and share experiences is paramount in the group coaching process.
Most significantly, group coaches distinguish themselves from other group facilitators with their strong focus on having the client identify and take action on their goals.  A key priority for group coaches is to hold the space for clients to be accountable for taking steps in achieving their goals and integrating their learning to their "real life" and work. 

What you can expect:

The Group Coaching offered with Reflecting His Image Christian Life Coaching will be in a virtual format utilizing a telebridge phone line around relevant themes families of special needs kids are encountering.  

Group Coaching themes for parents of Special Needs Kids include:

  • Social issues of both you, your child and your family,
  • Exploring Community Services, Treatments and Resources,
  • Faith Based Support- Having a sense of belonging as a valued member of your faith community,
  • Issues related to those with Neuro-developmental disorders (Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder)

The benefits of group coaching via telebridge line:

  • Coaching is done on a secure line with the ability to record sessions should a participant need to miss a session.
  • Coaching by phone takes into consideration child care issues, adverse weather conditions, limited time and finances.
  • Weekly Groups are intentionally small, consisting of 6-8 participants, confidential and sessions are for 75-90 minutes in length.
  • Participants are encouraged to sign up for an 8 week program with the option to include 2 Individual coaching sessions for an additional fee, yet at a fraction of the cost of individual coaching alone.
  •  Group times are offered during the day or in the evening various days of the week. 

Group Themes (PST)Tuesday or Thursday 7:00-8:30 PMSaturday
10:00 - 11:30 AM
Per Session/8 wk Program
Social Issues$15/$80
Community Resources$15/$80
Faith Based Support$15/$80
Neurodevelopmental issues$15/$80
Individual Coaching*Monday-SaturdayCall for appointment*2 (45 min.) Sessions/8wk +$40
Individual Coaching OnlyMonday-SaturdayCall for appointment3 (45 min.) Sessions/mo for $90

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On the Other Side of Pain

Counseling vs. Coaching

We all know that coaching is different than counseling.  Counseling works on the "why" of human behavior and delves into the past, often addressing experiences and conditions that cause emotional pain that is hard to get past.  We all know of people in our lives that we have encountered that have their issues, and we have been there as well.  Some of us are still working through some issues of various kinds.  Some are stuck in the pain of the past and use various methods to cope with the pain, whether it be blaming others, misusing drugs or alcohol, debilitating depression, even physical ailments, not to mention emotional issues that affect their happiness and impacting their relationships and quality of life.

On this side of the grave, we all have something that needs work in our lives, be it emotional, spiritual, social or physical development.  Yes, we are all made in the Image and likeness of God, yet generational sin, bad habits, etc., throws mud on that Image and so the work begins to be cleansed and live the life God has called us to, a life of fulfillment and purpose, giving us energy and joy as we live out of the charisms we were given by our Maker.  Counseling, spiritual direction, confession, making use of the grace of the sacraments do so much to help see who we are, where we have come and how badly we must depend upon the Lord for our very life.

Spending time reflecting on the pain in one's life can, and does aid in the healing process one must go through.  It's allowing the Lord, our Good Shepherd, the opportunity to look us over, see the mess we are in, and tenderly touch and heal our wounds.  It's so important to spend some time there, allowing His love to pour over us and comfort us in the protection of His loving arms.  I'm reminded of a song by Twila Paris, The Warrior is a Child.  Oh, what a blessing we have, belonging to such a Loving God!




There also comes a time, however, where we must come down off that mountain top and re-engage with the world.  We are to seek out the Lord's will for our lives and do our part in helping "thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven".  Spiritual direction is certainly an important role in this arena, as is a good Christian therapist, who not only helps one embrace their cross, with humility, but to also see that there is still much to do on the other side of the pain. When one is ready to take the steps of discovery, with they eye toward making and achieving one's goals, while staying close to the Lord as He directs our steps, Christian Life Coaching can help make a difference.as we are promised a "hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Hebrews 12:1-3 speaks of Jesus as our example, regarding keeping our eyes focused ahead despite the obstacles and trials that come, for God has a greater purpose and He wants us to play a valuable part in it:    
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I would be honored to walk along side of you as you begin this journey of discovery, becoming aware and using the many gifts God has provided to make your journey one that holds great satisfaction and joy.

Contact me today and let's begin!  

 

Ask about the Introductory Rate Special of $20 off a session with a 3 month commitment (3 sessions month).  Inquiry calls are free!

Call: 208-966-4338 or e-mail me at sheilamh67@gmail.com.

 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Life Happens and We Adjust!

We got notice in early July that the house my kids and I are renting was being put up for sale.  So began the Great Summer Rental House Search, and thus explains the lack of posts on this blog! 

We found a house at the end of August and are just now in the process of packing up and making the big move tomorrow!  The good news is it's only 1/3 mile from the house we are currently in and $75 cheaper in rent! 

We have been blessed along this journey and coaching has helped a lot regarding finding the right balance with me taking two classes this summer (One coaching class and one Applied Behavioral Analysis class to help me get certified to work with disabled kids in the State of Idaho.), not to mention helping the kids get ready to start school.  My three older kids are starting public school for the first time as I have home schooled them for 9 years, due to me having to go back into the work force.  It has been amazing how things have come together and having my coaching triad from my coaching class, as well as the class time where we practiced and critiqued one another's coaching has been so helpful as we each take turns being the client. 

From first hand experience, I have found coaching to be quite beneficial and have signed up for a Group Coaching class starting on September 18th, which I am really excited about as it can benefit even more people with not only the coaching skills, but also with the group process involving learning from others along the way!

Coaching is a powerful service that can set you in the direction and support you where you want to go.  Contact me if you would like to explore coaching and see if it can work for you.  I am setting up an Introductory Rate 6 month special of $30 a session or $90 a month for three 45 minute sessions.  If you are interested, e-mail or call me today and we can schedule your first month.  And remember that the first Introductory session is free!

E-mail:  sheilamh67@yahoo.com or call:  208-966-4338.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do you want to play?

My youngest son, Joshua, has autism.  The kids and I were recently at a Christian social event with a lot of other children whom Joshua has never met before.  He was really wanting to play "ball" with the big kids, but I diverted him by seeing if he could play with an extra ball with children more his age.  He was happy to do so and went around and asked various kids "Do you want to play?"  I was quite proud of him for being so outgoing but was disheartened by the fact that child after child looked at him and said, "No".  They didn't know Joshua, or his struggles, and perhaps his forthrightness was unsettling to them.  I don't know for sure.  Joshua's older sister and a friend of Joshua's older brother did engage with him for as long as his attention span lasted, which was quite loving.


                                         Joshua announcing a Pine Wood Derby Race with the
                                         Parish Sponsored Boy Scout Troop.

I am of the belief that those in the Body of Christ will be more likely to live out their faith and teach their children likewise.  I also understand that some children can be painfully shy.  I have one of those as well.  Verses such as in James 1:27, " Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." seems relevant in such cases as reaching out to those with disabilities.  There are a lot of compassionate children Joshua has encountered who love him for who he is, like him and want to play with him. All the kids in his religious ed class have been nothing but understanding and kind to him as it was explained on the first day of class that Joshua has a disability and was learning at a different pace.

How has your special needs child been welcomed into your faith community?

What would need to change for you and your child to have the most positive experience?


However, as I reflected on this social interaction, at the social gathering, in light of considering the special needs population fitting in to social situations, especially in the Church, social skills, especially for those on the autism spectrum, are the most challenging to master.  I was reminded of what the Blessed Virgin Mary's response to the servants at the Wedding Feast at Cana, "Do whatever He tells you." in reference to her Son, Jesus.  As these verses came to me, I was also considering the conversation I had had with one of Joshua's therapists regarding the need, especially in the Church, for the Body of Christ to truly be supportive to parents and children who are struggling with special needs.  So many parents find "the looks" they get when their child misbehaves in Church, hard to deal with and end up no longer attending Church services and don't seek out religious instruction for their children. I can certainly relate to those feelings.  However, what does Christ "tell us" regarding the little children:   "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14.

What needs to happen in our mindset and in our faith communities to encourage this type of acceptance?


It takes a lot of energy for any parent of children to get to church on time and help their neurotypical child to learn proper social skills.  Those who take their children to Mass with them are faced with the challenge of simultaneously getting spiritually fed and taming their "Wild Things" in such a way so as not to disturb others.  What I have found to be helpful is trying to take my child to at least one daily Mass a week, which is shorter and where the kids can practice proper behavior with less distractions.  Joshua still manages to make things both entertaining and a blessed experience in his own way.  He looks forward to "The Sign of Peace", speaking of it before Mass, and then when it's time for the "Our Father" and then the "Sign of Peace", he's laying on the pew with a coat over his head refusing to shake anyone's hand.  My take on that is he had reached the saturation level at that point in the Mass with all the stimulus and practicing proper behavior.  He is making progress from when he used to lay under the pew and when he flipped down the waste band of his pants exposing himself during the Nicene Creed.  Now he says "I have to go potty." in a strong voice, stands for the Gospel and kneels during the Consecration.  I'm sure the Lord is chuckling over the antics kids do at Church and is so pleased by them attending, and that thought makes it easier for the days of struggle.

What we have found with our efforts working with Joshua at Mass is more supportive looks and smiles from those around us and that is nothing but encouraging.  I know that he, like all those in attendance, especially those with disabilities, not only deserve to be there, but NEED to be coming to church.  After all, we are ALL made in God's Divine Image and each one of us make up the Body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:21-26 speaks of how we are to regard one another, including those who don't seem to "fit in":
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
                                           Tony Melendez singing for Bl. Pope John Paul II


What goals do you have for you and your child with special needs in your faith community?

In what ways do you and your child need to be supported?

What can you do to make your goals a reality?

How do you envision your child's place in the Body of Christ?