{Celebrating Beautiful} When Kids Know God Better than We Do, by Elizabeth Thompson

In blogging for the last 6 years, I’ve written about many different topics, but one theme that has remained constant has been my focus of sharing about how our family is discovering the beauty in difference and choosing to celebrate the incredible beauty all around us, and how we want to encourage others to do the same. After connecting with so many others with truly amazing stories, I started a guest blog series called Celebrating Beautiful, as it relates to beauty however it can be interpreted: parenthood, faith, your kids, an experience, home, and so much more.
 
I got to know Elizabeth Thompson after her first book was released by our shared publisher. She is clearly the ambitious sort because she released a second book a year later! 🙂 I was excited to get to endorse When God Says Go, and I know this message of what it means to trust God and his perfect timing will really impact a lot of people. *Elizabeth is giving away a copy today – just leave a comment to be entered to win!*
Here is Elizabeth Thompson on Celebrating Beautiful…

“God paint trees, Mommy.”

My two-year-old beams up at me, pointing a chubby finger at the thick trees shading our front lawn.

Her word choice surprises a laugh out of me. “You know what? You’re right! God did paint those trees.”

I swirl the word paint around inside, exploring the delightful image of God the great Artist, paintbrush in hand, painting trees—a touch of green, a knot in wood, a crooked limb.

But my daughter is not done expounding. Her finger sweeps the yard. “God paint wow-ee.”

“Yes, and the flowers too.” A fragment of scripture flits across my mind: Lift up your eyes . . . who created all these?

Again the little finger searches, points. “God paint grass. Pink grass.”

I laugh, not bothering to correct her colors when she’s in the middle of a theological epiphany. “Oh yes, God painted the grass!”

She tips her honey-and-sunshine curls back, squinting up. “God paint sky. Clouds. Sun. Moon.” She casts me a smug grin as if to say, Aren’t you impressed that I know so many “sky” words?

“Oh, yes, you’re right. God painted all of those things,” I say. “Aren’t they beautiful?” I glance up at puffy clouds drifting on a sea of blue. The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Hazel eyes dancing, my daughter flings her hands out wide, the grand finale: “God paint me!”

I am struck speechless. I catch her up in my arms and bury my face in her sweet baby-soap smell.

She pushes me back and insists: “God paint me! Mommy tummy!” Pudgy fists pressed against my chest, round eyes locked on mine, she awaits my response.

At last I find my voice. “Oh, yes, darling, God painted you in Mommy’s tummy.”

She snuggles in and squeezes tight.

Even now her words echo inside me, a gorgeous refrain: God painted me. Such profound insight, from one so young, so fresh from heaven. God made us, yes, but more than that: he painted us.

I can just picture it: The great Artist takes up his paintbrush, selects his canvas, lays out his paints—a thousand hues of possibility—and ponders: What to create today? Oh, I know!

Humming happily to himself, he dips his brush in paint and begins with just a single stroke: conception. Another stroke, a pause for inspiration—she’s taking shape now. A dab here, a curve there. He stops, debating: What color eyes to give? He mixes shades—a hint of green, a streak of caramel, a few golden flecks—there. Just right.

He chuckles to himself, picturing those eyes lit with wonder the first time they see a rainbow, a dandelion, a puppy. Now for the hair. He thinks for a moment, tapping his brush against his lip. I’ll borrow a little curl from her grandfather, a touch of auburn from her great-great-grandmother, a wild cowlick from her mother . . . oh, yes. Beautiful.

On and on he paints—long fingers, clumsy feet, knobby knees, crooked nose (because as any great artist knows, it’s the imperfections that make it perfect); and then he bestows talents: kindness, gentleness, a knack for organizing closets, a flair for piano and poetry—and when he is finished, he steps back, eyes shining.

Even more beautiful than I imagined, he thinks. Oh, yes. This is good. She is very, very good. In the corner, he signs his name.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

(Psalm 139:13–16)

Elizabeth’s new book, When God Says, “Go”: Rising to Challenge and Change without Losing Your Confidence, Your Courage, or Your Cool, encourages us to overcome fear, insecurity, and regret when God comes calling. She is also the author of When God Says, “Wait.” Elizabeth writes at LizzyLife.com about clinging to Christ through the chaos of daily life. As a minister, speaker, and novelist, she loves finding humor in holiness and hope in heartache. Elizabeth lives in North Carolina with her preacher husband and four miracle kids. They were totally worth the wait—and now they keep her on the go. You can connect with Elizabeth on her author site, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

{Celebrating Beautiful} Navigating The Lonely Days Of Special Needs Parenting, by Mike Berry

In blogging for the last 6 years, I’ve written about many different topics, but one theme that has remained constant has been my focus of sharing about how our family is discovering the beauty in difference and choosing to celebrate the incredible beauty all around us, and how we want to encourage others to do the same. After connecting with so many others with truly amazing stories, I started a guest blog series called Celebrating Beautiful, as it relates to beauty however it can be interpreted: parenthood, faith, your kids, an experience, home, and so much more.
 
I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Mike Berry through an author program we both did in 2016. As Mike and his wife Kristin write about fostering and adopting, we have found so much in common, particularly through the struggles and triumphs of our children with special needs. I was excited to get to write an endorsement of Mike’s new book, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, and I can’t wait to press a copy into the hands of several of my friends who have adopted! Confessions Of An Adoptive Parent is now available for pre-order…you can grab your copy here (and get some awesome free bonus content when you pre-order before Feb. 6!)
Here is Mike Berry on Celebrating Beautiful…

Defeated. Frustrated. Lonely. Tired. Done.

Like a spin-cycle set on the top speed, those words flashed through my mind all at once. The other kids on the team had accepted the position the coach assigned to them. Joey grinned as he trotted to first base. It wasn’t his ideal position, and certainly not his favorite, but he accepted it because that’s what normal kids do. Same with Trent. He was small for his age and catcher really wasn’t the best position, especially since he couldn’t throw the ball past the pitchers mound, but he complied all the same.

Then there was my son, who stood in center field, stomping his feet, throwing his glove and refusing to play, in his words, ‘that stupid position.’ He wanted to play shortstop. He thought he deserved to be at shortstop. The game nearly had to be delayed while I coaxed him until he trudged to center field.

The assistant coach stared at me with a haughty, judgmental look. I could hear his thoughts echo in my mind. “What’s wrong with your kid? Why can’t you get control of him?” Or worse, “He’s just a kid. Why are you so harsh?”

I fought the urge to say something, explain his behavior, or make excuses. Really though, what was I going to say? “You see he was adopted through foster care and………..” no that wouldn’t work. “He experienced trauma before and after he was born and…….” no, not that one either. “You see, it’s tough to raise a child with a disorder like this because……” nope, just more judgement if I said that!

It was a day I’ll never forget because, although there were a hundred or so parents and siblings gathered for the game, I had never felt more alone.

Been There, Done That.

If you’re raising a child with special needs you probably identify with that scenario. If your child suffers from a disorder like FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), or Reactive Attachment Disorder, you especially identify. You might even say, “Yep..been there, done that!” You understand the defeat of trying to get your child to cooperate in the middle of a tantrum. You’ve experienced the struggle of being in a public place while your child acts out, throws a tantrum, screams obscenities, or destroys personal property.

Perhaps you’re fostering a child who has gone through significant trauma and it’s caused them to struggle with healthy attachment. You may even find it difficult to face another day because your strength is sucked dry and you’re ready to quit!

We’re right there with you. We understand completely and we want you to know something….you’re not alone!

Not Alone, No Matter What!

Let me say that again: You are not alone. Regardless of your child’s story, the embarrassment you’ve walked through in your neighborhood, the painful moments of trying to explain your child’s behavior, or the awful parent you think you are for wanting to quit, you are not alone. No matter what, we are standing by you because we’ve been there too.

We’ve had teachers tell us that we “just need to parent with more structure,” or “use a behavior chart like she does at school.” (Can we just agree that we’d all like to set fire to the behavior charts?) We’ve stood helplessly on the side of the road while a police officer asks in a demeaning tone, “Well can’t you control your son? I have 3 sons and my wife has no problem controlling them!” We’ve had case managers make judgement calls on our family because they failed to understand the severity of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, attachment issues, extreme trauma, and the reality of this journey.

We understand every tear that drips from your eyes. We know what it’s like to feel done, be at the end of your rope, or think thoughts you never thought you would think when you became a parent. Raising children with autism, brain damage, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, down syndrome, reactive attachment disorder and many others, is an unending battle at times. It’s a battle with your child, for your child, with your school, with professionals, with neighbors, and sometimes even with close friends and family.

There’s a way to find strength, even when you feel too weak to go on!

The Strength You Need.

Sometimes all the strength you need to face another day, is in finding out you’re not alone. There’s incredible healing power in discovering this truth. In fact, it can be more powerful than any seminar, book, or podcast could provide. We’ve found this strength. It’s precisely why we believe so heavily in support communities and leaning on others who are going through the same struggles in raising children with special needs.

It’s why I created my blog, Confessions Of An Adoptive Parent. It’s why I took the title of that blog and turned it into a brand new book. We’re here to listen and help because we know how defeating it can be. But we also know the hope you have. We know how much you love those kiddos of yours. We know how much your heart beats for them. We’re here to encourage you when it gets tough. You are not alone!

Mike Berry is an author, blogger, speaker, adoptive father, and former foster parent. He is the co-creator, along with his wife Kristin, of the award-winning blog www.confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com which has a global audience of more than 100,000 followers monthly. Mike travels extensively throughout the U.S. every year, with a passion to reach hurting and overwhelmed foster and adoptive parents with a message of hope. He is the author of several books including, The Adoptive Parent Toolbox, The Weary Parent’s Guide to Escaping Exhaustion and the soon-to-be released Confessions of An Adoptive Parent: Hope and Help from the Trenches of Foster Care and Adoption. Along with blogging and books, he is also a featured writer on Disney’s babble.com. Mike and Kristin have been married for 18 years and have 8 children, all of whom are adopted. They reside in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana.