Whatever Wednesday: Prayers for a bully

"Praying Girl" photo taken By t.na~★ @flickr.com, text added by Lauren Hale

Over the past few weeks, our oldest daughter, who is quite normally a happily yet distracted little girl, suddenly changed.

Distant, prone to outbursts, inexplicably rude, snapping at all of us, quick to tears, frustrated, very hard on herself.

Flags went up.

So I started to reach out to her. I asked if there was anything bothering her. I told her to let me know. Mommy would listen. So would Daddy if she preferred talking with him.

She continued to insist nothing was wrong.

Her outbursts continued. She became even more introverted. Dragged her feet as she got ready for school in the morning.

Then we got an email from her teacher.

Our daughter was doing the same thing at school. Frustrated easily, crying, pouting, only doing work when prodded to do so.

SOMETHING was going on at school.

Finally, after a particularly difficult afternoon, I had to discipline her for intentionally throwing something across the living room. As we talked afterward, she broke down.

Tears streaming down her face, she finally shared with me what had her so frustrated and down.

As I suspected, my daughter was being bullied. Not by one but by two boys on her bus on the way home from school.

She shared with me that they were teasing her about something which happened last year. Calling her names like “baby” and telling anyone who would listen on the bus about her mishaps from the previous year.

I gathered her in my arms and rubbed her back as she wept and poured out her frustrations. My oldest daughter turns seven this year.

We had a long talk about the best way to handle bullies.

It’s helped that for a couple of years already, we have encouraged the girls to develop a strong sense of self. We’ve both worked hard to instill in them that the only opinion of self that matters is their own. That they are amazing girls and can be anything if they put their mind to it. We have already worked to share with them that God will love them no matter what. That WE will love them no matter what.

We strive to impress upon them the right way to go about dealing with negative people in their lives.

I quietly shared with my daughter a story of epic embarrassing proportions from my own elementary school. She looked at me with understanding eyes and said, “I bet that was very embarrassing.” It was epically embarrassing.

Then we talked about what she could do the next time these boys teased her.

I suggested that she just look at them and say, “I forgive you and I know God does too.” Or she could simply turn away and ignore their words as she prayed for God to change their hearts. I suggested that maybe this was happening because God wanted to use her to create a change in the lives of these boys.

We also discussed what to do if it kept on happening. How she needed to approach the bus driver and let her know what these boys were doing. She shared with me that she had and so far, nothing the bus driver had done had been successful in keeping the boys from teasing her. I promised her I would make some phone calls on Monday.

We lay there in her bed, snuggled together as we talked about all of this. Then we got up and went about the rest of the afternoon.

As I put her to bed and we said our prayers, I reminded both girls to pray for at least one other person beside themselves.

My oldest daughter prayed this:

“Dear Jesus, Please change the heart of the boy being mean to me. I know you can.”

And I?

Totally melted.

My daughter is already leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when I was her age.

I think she’s gonna be just fine.

On Monday, I called the Director of Transportation to talk with him about the incidents on the bus with my daughter. He went to the school, to her bus, talked with the boys before they even got on, and informed them that if they didn’t stop their negative behavior, they would be riding with their parents because public school transportation would no longer be an option. My daughter had a great bus ride home and felt safe for the first time in weeks.

Nobody deserves to be bullied. Nobody.

Sure, some may argue that bullying builds character. I was bullied in elementary school. All it did for me was deflate my self-esteem. Later in life, it has become a mark I use to measure my progress against. It shouldn’t be that way. Bottom line, it is my responsibility to raise children who won’t bully. It’s our responsibility to protect our children from harm, whether it be psychological or physical. Yes, there are learning experiences that must be had but I do not feel that bullying is one of those experiences.

I am grateful to live in a school district which clearly takes bullying seriously and will not hesitate to protect it’s students from the negative effects of such behavior. My children should not have to be the victim of someone else’s poor parenting. When I send my children to school, I am entrusting their safety and well-being to them. I fully expect them to fulfill that obligation on a daily basis. You should too.

Rest assured that if any of my children were caught bullying, there would be serious consequences. Bullying is not a skill any child should be taught. Children learn by watching, by imitating, etc. It is OUR responsibility to raise them in such a way that they don’t learn how to bully. It is also important we teach them how to positively deal with a bully even if it involves going to an adult and requesting help.

I have no doubt that my daughter has grown from this experience. I am glad it is over (for now) and know we will have many more issues down the road.

She’s already got a very powerful tool on her side though – her faith in God.

For that, I am grateful, amazed, and reassured.

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Merry Christmas!


Original non-text art found at: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1223519



Postpartum Voice of the Week: Raising Little Women’s “The “D” Word”

I loved this piece not only for the beautiful and talented writing but for the inclusion of Christianity into the battle this Mom is currently fighting.

When I was first struggling through Postpartum OCD, I had a Christian background but did not consider myself to be Christian at the time. As I started my support group, I shied away from starting it at a Church so as not to make potential attendees uncomfortable. Then I met Tara Mock, the founder of Out of the Valley, a faith-based Postpartum site. Tara led me to Sue McRoberts and eventually I met Rebecca Ingram. While we all haven’t met in person yet, I admire all three of these women for their strong faith and know in my heart of hearts that God put them in my path to help my own faith grow.

And grow it has.

I was baptized (again) this past April. I have no doubt that whatever has come my way is for a reason even if I do not believe it a the time. It has been so very comforting to finally be in a place where, if something goes wrong, I know I can lean hard on God to take care of it all. Even when I was not at this place, it was not because I had not prayed enough. It was not because I had been a bad “Christian.” It was not me. It was God, carrying me through a storm because He knew what was down the road for me. I am finally grateful for my experience. Do I wish it had never happened? Sure. But it did. So I deal with it I must.

Today’s voice hid her depression for five long years despite having noticed not feeling right after the birth of her daughter, Sarah. She observes her reason why so many struggle in isolation with depression:

Depression is a subject that many people do not like to talk about, especially in the church, which is very unfortunate for those that face this day in and day out. We should be able to come to one another, as brothers & sisters in Christ, and share one another’s burdens. But yet so many people face depression alone.

I believe the cause of this is due to what is being said from pulpits, what is written in books, blogs or spoken amongst friends. I once believed the lie, that if you are struggling with depression 1) you have sin in your life, 2) you have turned your back on God 3) God is punishing you for past sins.

As she moved forward to seek help, she also struggled with these very issues.

I started searching online, found a sickness that I thought I had, went to the doctor, told him what I thought was wrong, and wanted him to fix it. I can’t remember exactly what I told him I thought I had, something about blood sugar. When he told me he thought I was dealing with depression, I fought him on it, and then I broke down in his office. He told me, basically, I was dealing with PPD (postpartum depression) I wouldn’t let him speak the word depression, he finally started calling it postpartum anxiety so I would listen to what he had to say.

She found herself on and off medication for the next few years. This past April she stopped taking her medicine again.

A couple weeks/month later I hit the bottom. Hard. I literally could not think straight, make a decision, or go a day without having a meltdown.  I didn’t want to leave the house, I felt terrible, sick, all the time. To make it worse, all the thoughts I’d had previously, came back. The guilt alone was enough to push me over the edge. Looking back, I don’t know why it took me so long to go back to the doctor. I think I was still clinging to the lies, in fact, I’m pretty sure that was it. I started questioning my salvation. I started doubting everything I knew to be true. I hated myself, who I’d become. I felt like a liar and cheat. I hated that people thought me better than I was, who said kind words about me, I actually, to put it nice, wanted to hit,  and yell at them. Those who told me they wish they could be like me, stay at home, do it all, I wanted to take them up on it, but I just smiled and said, thank you.

I applaud her for speaking up about her experience even if it took her so long to do so. Her story will undoubtedly touch women of faith as they too struggle with their own brushes with depression. We are just human, even if God is on our side. He is there to lean on in the hard times, and will always be there when we need Him most. And ladies? HIS opinion is the only one that matters. He will always love us. Always.

Now go read the whole piece over at Raising Little Women: The “D” Word.


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There’s power in prayer

As many of you know, I am in Pittsburgh at the fabulous Postpartum Support International and Marce Society Conference. My physical journey here started Sunday night when my husband and kids dropped me off at a relatives home in Atlanta so I could catch MARTA (public transportation) to the airport the following morning. But my spiritual journey here started some time ago.

The provisions for this trip have been nothing short of astounding. Based solely in faith and prayer, I am so humbled to be here in Pittsburgh at this conference and hosting a special discussion as well.

Back in April, my husband lost his job. I was already in discussions with a fellow PSI Coordinator to host a special discussion in regards to  encouraging professionals to communicate in order to increase continuity of care for the Perinatal Woman. We moved forward and submitted an abstract in June. I had faith my husband would find a job and we would somehow manage to get me to the conference.

He is still unemployed.

On July 4th, I received an email congratulating me on the acceptance of our abstract to the conference (YAY!) and immediately thought, Oh no. Now I HAVE TO GO. I began to pray. I asked others to pray.

Then, in August, I went to Austin, TX for a fundraiser. PSI again was involved. On the return journey, I was stranded in the Austin Airport for 6 hours. The next day, I got ahold of Delta on Twitter and they sent me a travel voucher. At the time I had no idea what I would use it for as I was sure I could not afford to fly to Pittsburgh, even with the discount the voucher offered.

More and more time went by, I continued to pray and wait patiently. I even set up a donation page but nothing happened there.

PSI offers a scholarship to the conference so I applied and received the funds. I now had a partial scholarship but held off on cashing the check because I was unsure if I could still go.

Two weeks ago, I began to panic a little. Continued to pray and tried to stay calm. I tweeted and blogged about praying me to Pittsburgh. I emailed my brother. We checked the flights at Delta and lo and behold, found one for just $178 + tax. He paid what my voucher did not cover as a late birthday/early Christmas present.

I now had a flight.

I received an email from PSI’s awesome Program Coordinator letting me know that there was a Coordinator who had an extra bed I could sleep in for free.

I now had somewhere to stay.

I continued to pray.

PSI’s awesome Program Coordinator found two angel donors to cover the remainder of my Conference stay (thank you whoever you are!) and suddenly I was attending ALL days of the conference (including the pre-conference workshops) and going to the banquet.

I continued to pray for money for meals not included in the conference and to cover checking my bag at the airport.

I mentioned the miracles God had worked so far in my travel needs at my bible study class and only asked for prayer for the remainder of the funds.

After class, two of my classmates walked up to me and handed me cash totaling exactly what I would need to cover these costs.

I was going to Pittsburgh.



Whatever Wednesday: The State of Me

I would be a hypocrite if I did not take time for myself. After all, that’s what I firmly advocate for moms who contact me. We absolutely need time for ourselves so we can thrive and our families can then thrive.

Lately, it’s been hard for me to do just that. Not so much because I don’t want to but because I have been awful at making time for myself. But I’m having to shuffle my priorities and force myself to do so.

Sometimes, the blog may go quiet for a bit. It’s not because I don’t care. (I’ll never stop caring) It’s not because I don’t want to blog. It’s because I need a break.

I know life gets crazy for everyone. Here lately, it’s been very crazy as of late.

The trip to Austin for the PSI fundraiser was a lovely break. However, the craziness started before my journey to Texas.

In late April, my husband was laid off.

Sick kids.

School got out for the summer.

Back on government assistance. Which, by the way, is NOT easy to qualify for as they want every single last document under the sun and it’s all due 10 days before they send you a letter (and yes, I got a letter like that). They really work against you to keep you off the system. And what really sucks is that with hubs’ job, we were finally phasing out of needing the assistance.

He gets unemployment but it’s not nearly enough to support a family of five. So I’m looking for a job. And that means I may have to cut what I do here unless I can find some sort of financial support for the blog soon. Sadly, it may even affect my ability to participate in #PPDChat. That makes me very sad. It makes me especially sad because I know I won’t be happy doing anything else but supporting moms. I truly feel it is what I was called to do and I know in my heart I am good at what I do here at Postpartum Voice, Twitter, and other websites.

Hubs is working at getting his own computer biz started. He’s great at repairing and working on computers so he’s getting that on the road right now. He has one regular business client at the moment and some random individual clients as well. It’s growing but again, it’s tough going out there these days.

This summer also saw a very stressful situation between myself and a family member. I am not going to go into details but suffice it to say it led to some of my worst days since the depths of hell with my Postpartum mood disorder. The end of that week found me in tears and watching four and a half hours of stand up comedy. That was followed by a severe adrenaline withdrawal.

The next week was Austin. Austin was great. Until I came home. My original flight was canceled and I did not leave the airport until nearly 6 hours after that flight. I have never been so happy to be back in Atlanta!

The following day, my 4yo started Pre-k.

The next day, my 6yo had her tonsils out so she was home for a week.

Then my 4yo got sick this past weekend.

Now hubs is sick, 2yo is showing signs of getting sick, I’ve got PMS, the dog is scratching and licking places she really shouldn’t be on a constant basis because of her allergies (and no, Benadryl doesn’t work – bathing her a minimum of once a day does), our washer is on the fritz and will flood the back porch in the blink of an eye if you leave it alone at the wrong time, and… ugh. See the damned snowball in Georgia? That’s my life. And I am not coping well with it right now.

Today though, the girls are back in school. Hubs just left for a computer job for his business client and Cameron is (somewhat) playing independently as I type this.

I had a huge vision for this blog when I revamped it and am hoping to get to these changes soon – I really want to start posting a vlog for my Just Talking Tuesday posts. And WordPress has recently introduced this new service which allows us to PHONE in our blog posts. How cool is that???

I also want to start a forum for readers to share with one another.

But right now, I need to take care of me before I can take care of others. So if I don’t post for a few days, it’s not because I don’t love you. It’s not because I’ve stopped caring. It’s because I’m simply practicing what I preach and taking care of me so I CAN take care of others. I don’t deserve any less. And neither do you.

Most nights lately have found me passed out on the couch after the kids are in bed. Last night my husband tried to wake me up and get me to go to bed. I fell asleep in the middle of tweeting, y’all. In the middle of TWEETING! That’s tired.

Please pray for us as we move through this tough time in our lives. Pray that my husband is able to expand his business quickly. Pray that somehow I manage to get financial support for the blog worked out. I’ll be putting up a page soon specifying a wish-list of needs. First things first, I’d have to go to self-hosted in order to do any sort of ads. If I do run ads, rest assured that I will vet any and all support for moms and will NOT under any circumstances allow the placement of ads for any medication or supplements on my blog. I will remain committed to supporting moms in whatever choices they have made without judgment. We all have to walk our own path and deserve to do so without guilt brought on by the judgment of others.

Thanks for reading.

I’m going to close my laptop after I hit publish and go talk my son out of wearing his sister’s tennis shoes.