Archives For July 2013

Impact Your World

July 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

Impact your world quote

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

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Tis true, I’m the worst mom ever!

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Last week while traveling through South Dakota, we stopped at an Alpine Slide.  If you’re unfamiliar with alpine slides, it is a long chute built in the side of a mountain or large hill.  A wheeled sled is used to navigate the slide which is controlled by a hand brake between the rider’s legs.

Three years ago, we went on an alpine slide for the first time in TN.  I followed my daughter, Cauriana, who was 10 years old at the time.  She was timid and used her brake much of the time, therefore, I ended up catching up with her and was forced to ride slowly the rest of the way.  It took away some of the excitement.

Once again, I found myself following Cauriana, now 13 years old, down the slide in SD.  As Cauriana, my husband, and I rode the chairlift to the top of the hill, we were able to see riders on the alpine slide below.  Many were inching along the track.  I laughed and said I hoped I didn’t get behind anyone slow.  My daughter quietly said, “I’m sorry.”  She felt the sting of my words even though they were not meant to hurt.

Even though I knew she was remembering the adventure down the slide and feeling as if she ruined my ride, I still asked, “Are you going to go fast?”  A bit hurt, she said, “yes.”  Again, she felt my words as if it was a shot to her heart.

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I really don’t know why but as she was getting ready to take off down the slide, I asked her again if she was going to go fast.  She said, “Yes,” and took off like a bullet from a gun.  No brake was used this time since she had something to prove to her selfish mom.  She sped around the first curve and as I awaited my turn to follow, I saw her fly around the second curve.

It was on the second curve that I felt the weight of my words.  I watched in horror as she lost control of the sled.  The sled sped to the top of the curve throwing her off.  She continued to slide on the concrete on her bare skin that was only covered in shorts and a tank top.  She disappeared out of my line of sight leaving me to wonder her fate.

I began screaming as only a mom can when her child is in danger.  My mind was racing wondering if she was tumbling head over heels down the rest of the concrete slide or if the sled ran over her causing a severe head injury.

Immediately my words, “I hope I don’t get behind anybody slow,” and “Are you going to go fast,” haunted me.

I did this!  I caused my daughter to crash and get hurt.

I jumped off my sled and ran to the overlook.

Cauriana had stopped shortly after I lost sight of her.  She was just stepping off the slide and assessing her injuries.  Her shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle were all burned from rubbing the slide at such a high rate of speed.  It was akin to road rash.  She was in tears.  So was I.  I truly deserved the title, “Worst mom ever!”

The workers doctored her wounds and got her a drink of water.  She was okay but I wasn’t.  The mental beat-down had only just begun.

I spent a very restless and sleepless night as I replayed my thoughtless words over and over in my mind.  The guilt was overwhelming.

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Are you a “Worst Mom”?  Take heart in the following:

You’re in good company.  Although I felt as though I was the worst mom in the world, there were probably 100 other moms in the same hotel that night feeling the same way.  Thousands of moms go to bed each night recounting their mistakes from that day and deeming themselves “worst moms.”  The fact is we are human and we will make mistakes.

Kids are forgiving.  Cauriana honestly could not understand why I felt so guilty.  She forgave me immediately.  Many times recounting what we should have said or done extends our feelings of guilt while our kids have already forgiven and moved on.  We need to learn from our mistakes but there is no need to prolong the situation by continuing to beat ourselves up.

The good outweighs the bad.  If we really think through our days and weeks with our kids, more than likely our good mom moments outweigh the bad mom moments.  But our good feelings seem to be squashed by guilt no matter how small.  We will have bad days and even bad weeks but over the course of a year, the good outshines the bad.

Feel like a bad mom?  You’re not alone!  Let’s turn in our worn out crowns and tattered sashes saying we are the “worst moms ever”?  Let’s focus on loving our kids and doing our best each and every day.  Let’s forgive ourselves our mistakes and focus on the good.  And let’s believe our kids when they proclaim us the “best mom ever!”

Disclaimer:  There may be times when family counseling is in order.  If we find ourselves being verbally or physically abusive, then we need to seek help from a professional.  If our child is out of our control, we may need help in getting that control back.  Addictions need support and guidance.  Know that getting help when needed is being a good mom.

This blog post is featured in Sophie Woman’s Magazine October 2013 issue.

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

This is not a “bring the family together” type of dessert.  When I make it, there’s quite a bit of arguing over who is sneaking all the pieces.  Nobody needs to know it’s Mom!  Hey, since I’m usually the mediator, I feel I can be the troublemaker once in a while.  Strangely, the rebel in me usually comes out when there’s chocolate involved.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight

Ingredients:

1 tube refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

1 package cream cheese (8 ounces)

1 cup powdered sugar

1 package whipped topping (12 ounces), thawed and divided

3 cups cold milk

1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (3.9 oz.)

1 package instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz.)

Directions:

1.  Let cookie dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

2.  Press dough into ungreased 9×13 pan.

3.  Bake at 350° for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool.

4.  In large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.

5.  Fold in 1 3/4 cup whipped topping.  Spread over crust.

6.  In large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes then let stand for 2 minutes until soft set.

7.  Spread over cream cheese layer.

8.  Top with remaining whipped topping.

9.  Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Waves of Grief

July 19, 2013 — 4 Comments

My family recently visited a water park.  My husband and I grabbed a double raft and hit the wave pool.  I was sitting on top of the raft while my husband stood at the side guiding me through the water.  Since the waves are only turned on every 15 minutes, we entered when it was calm.  We placed ourselves in the back half of the pool and visited with friends while waiting to ride the waves.

87799167The screams from those next to the “wave wall” signaled the waves were coming.  It was then I learned we had set up our raft at the breaking point in the waves.  My husband was having so much fun, he didn’t notice I was spending most of my time under the water resulting in him pushing me into the breakers and not moving away from them.

So instead of the fun ride on top of the surf I expected, the relentless waves continued to break over my head.  I could barely catch my breath before the next breaker.

I’ve found that mourning can look similar to my experience in the wave pool.  I lost my cousin and very best friend, Shelley, to brain cancer in October of 2011.  The grief was immense then but the mourning continues even today.

Sometimes the waves of grief comes on unexpectedly and I find myself drowning in the breakers of sadness.  This week has been especially hard.  There was a little girl with long blond hair at church last Sunday who reminded me of Shelley as a child.  Then someone wrote a Facebook post about their grandchild and used a nickname Shelley used for her daughter.  Another day, something funny happened and I thought about texting it to Shelley.  Then I remembered.

At times, when triggers catch me by surprise, I have to excuse myself to go somewhere private until I can gain control of my emotions.

Other times, I see the waves coming and the turbulent feelings that threaten.  Shelley’s birthday is one such occasion.

While most women stop celebrating and make self-depreciating comments about getting older, Shelley viewed it as a time to laugh and have a great time.

Since her birthday falls on May 21, she lightheartedly deemed the month of May, “Shelleypalooza” and would invite everyone to celebrate.  Tongue in cheek, she would share her wish list “just in case someone wanted to buy her a gift,” and would surmise nothing bad could happen to anyone during that month.

Because I see crashing waves of grief on May 21st, I make a plan to deal with the emotions.

I take the day off and spend it alone.  I allow God to comfort me by praying and reading the Bible.  Many memories Shelley and I shared were only humorous to us, which made us laugh all the more.  Now I think on those memories alone.  The entire day is a roller coaster of emotions, laughing and crying.  My family is warned about my warring emotions and the effect it may have on my patience and temper.

56385631If you find yourself in mourning over the loss of a loved one, please keep in mind the following:

Cut yourself a break when unexpected waves of grief hit – There will be times we are taken by surprise by a trigger and find ourselves grieving all over again.  There is nothing wrong with emotion.  If you’re in a professional environment, excuse yourself and find somewhere to be alone until you can gain control.  But accept you are dealing with very real human emotions and that’s okay.

Plan for expected waves of grief – Everyone mourns differently.  Some celebrate the lost loved one’s birthday with family and friends.  Others need to be alone.  Holidays may offer opportunities to honor our loved one by volunteering in one capacity or another.  Plan ahead and give yourself time to express emotion.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If your grief is monumental or you find that you can no longer function because of overwhelming sadness, call a good Christian counselor, your doctor, your pastor, or a crisis hotline.  The following site offers phone numbers for a myriad of hotlines.  http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/.  Reach out.  There are many who are waiting to come alongside you.

Waves of grief will come.  But by accepting our emotions, planning for the expected waves, and asking for help when needed, we can live a healthy life.  And I’m sure your loved one would want you to live a fulfilled life and not a holed-up existence refusing to carry on.

Most importantly, allow God to comfort you.

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Disclaimer:  Material in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.  The inclusion of any link does not imply my endorsement of the linked site or its affiliates, or any information, content, products, services, advertising or other materials presented on or through such web sites. I am not responsible for the availability, accuracy, or any information, content, products or services accessible from such sites.  NEVER DISREGARD MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL CARE BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.

Calan and I

After coming through the gate for our local High School’s football game on a clear and cool Friday evening, people from our small town began asking my husband and me if we had seen our daughter, Calan, yet.

Being 15 years old, Calan had asked to go to a friend’s house after school.  From there, she went straight to the game.  Therefore, I had not seen her since that morning.  So the repeated question made me wonder what she had done.

As we made our way to our seats, many friends smiled and simply shook their heads.  Whatever Calan had done was obviously entertaining.  My interest and curiosity mounted.

Suddenly our attention turned toward the field as our team scored a touchdown.  The cheerleaders began to cheer loudly and the band struck up a triumphant tune.  It was then I spotted her.

Running down the sideline carrying a gigantic school flag was Calan.  Her entire face was painted red and white and she wore red pants with vertical black stripes.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.

CAlan facepaint

My kid!

MY kid?!

A face-painting, wacky-dressing, super fan?!

This was not what I expected.  I wasn’t sure how to feel.  What would her peers think?  What would my friends think?  What would the teachers and administrators think?

A friend sitting nearby read the emotions on my face and said, “She’s a great girl who is very well liked.  She hangs out with a great group of girls and she is her own person unafraid of what others think.  Other parents would love to be in your shoes.”

Wisdom just when I needed it most.

I thought of my daily prayers for her.  Each day of her life I’ve asked God to give her confidence and boldness.  I’ve prayed for her to be well liked and not to lose her self-assurance when someone dislikes her.

However, my expectations in those prayers included her standing up for her convictions when challenged, wearing modest clothes rather than racy styles, liking what she sees in the mirror, and being thankful for the person God made her to be.  Not this display of super fan craziness in front of me.

As I sat there contemplating, I realized she is confident and not only stands up for her convictions but does it respectfully.  Sweatpants and t-shirts are her preferable clothing rather than anything revealing.  She doesn’t feel the need to wear makeup to increase her likability and embraces the personality qualities God gave her.

My eyes wandered back to the girl running up and down the field looking like a lunatic.  My heart swelled with the love I felt for her.

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I couldn’t deny the fun Calan was having while being confident and bold.  Cheerleaders and football players were giving her high fives as she ran past.  Students were cheering her on as well as the parents.  Teachers and parents alike were laughing and complimenting her courage.  Everyone was having fun!

When my daughter does not live up to my expectations I have to stop and reflect.  Many times, I come to the realization it isn’t my daughter who needs to change but my own desires.

When I truly consider the person God created, Calan far exceeds any of my own expectations.

This post is part of Jill Savage’s Third Thursday Blog Hop.  To read more about today’s topic, “No More Perfect Kids,” click here

If you’ve liked what you’ve read here, please follow me by clicking the “Follow” button on the left.  You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterLinkedIn, or by RSS feed.

UPDATE: This post is featured in Jill Savage’s book, No More Perfect Moms. Order your copy here

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Forgive to Live #3_test

From my guest post on Suzie Eller’s blog – http://tsuzanneeller.com/2013/07/08/forgive-to-live-frenemy-or-real-enemy/

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Can I Get a Witness?

July 9, 2013 — 3 Comments

Today, I’m excited to welcome my guest writer, Valerie Welsh.  A great mom many of us can relate to in following the strong parental instincts to keep her children safe at all costs.  She agreed to share her inspiring story of overcoming fear and stepping out in faith.

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The scene was sad and getting even sadder by the minute.  Our 17-year-old daughter, Sami, was sitting before us at the dining room table with reasons she should be allowed to join her youth group on their mission trip in just a few short months.

Sami had neatly outlined on paper the ways she had already served the Lord in her own neighborhood, her own peer group and her own country. This was a last-ditch effort on her part. This trip was so important to Sami that my husband Andy and I promised her that we would pray for two weeks about a decision whether or not to let her go. The final decision had been made. The deadline was that day, and she wouldn’t like our answer.

Here Sami was, making the case to serve in Ecuador and giving us evidence of the ways her faith had grown from the time she had given her life to Christ at age 7. I was distracted, thinking that she might make a good lawyer one day and felt both a twinge of pride at her maturity and a touch of shame that I knew our answer would be “no”.

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My husband and I purposely let the date for the informational meeting come and go. Mission trips were for other families, and they were certainly not for teenagers with severe asthma and allergies. Our reasons for not allowing her to go had everything to do with comfort – both hers and ours – and fear, which was a feeling I owned completely.

Sami took our answer with some maturity and lots of tears as she got ready for church that day. Andy and I reassured each other with slightly ashamed half smiles as she sobbed quietly in the back seat on the drive to church. All that mattered to me was that she would be staying right here at home, in my arms and totally safe from all the ways I could see her being ill or uncomfortable in Ecuador and out of my reach.

Sami sat at the end of the row next to her two siblings, head in her hands and praying deeply as the sermon began. We had been attending another church recently, different from the church we had attended for all of her life and in which Sami still remained active in youth group.

As our pastor began the sermon, I could hardly believe my ears! The title of the sermon that day was plastered on the front screen in front of the church:

“CAN I GET A WITNESS?  Acts 1:8 – ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.’”

He explained how we should be ready witnesses for Christ in the comfort of our own home as well as to the ends of the earth.

Andy and I continued to exchange surprised glances throughout the sermon as Sami continued to pray silently at the end of the row. God’s voice was so clear to me during that sermon. It was convicting and gentle and saying, “Do you have faith enough to trust me to lead My own daughter?”

God changed our minds that very day. I was ashamed that I had called myself a follower of Jesus Christ, and yet couldn’t trust Him to know what was best for His children. I was basing my decisions on fear and comfort and not on His will. My fears had drowned out His voice as I prayed for guidance. I already “knew” the answer to be “no” and had really been praying for my own agenda.

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Sami seemed introspective for days after her return from a successful trip, and she soon sat us both down to tell us her heart. I wasn’t surprised at all as she explained how she felt a calling to become a missionary during her time in Ecuador.

When she asked what I thought of her praying and researching this path for her life, I quieted my heart for just a minute before I answered. Doubts and fears came in again, but they soon were drowned out by the gentle voice of the Lord, reminding me that He would have Sami in the palm of His hand for all of her days.

Every morning while I pray, I remind myself that my three teenagers are all His and always have been. In my mind, I am letting go as a parent just a little more each day as they grow older.

I don’t know if God will lead Sami to the mission field again. I do know that everywhere we look, we can find a mission field in which to serve. It may be in our own homes and not across the globe, but listening for God’s voice is the first step.

I pray that we will have faith enough to hear and to obey, whatever we are called to do.

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

Today, I’m guest blogging on Suzie Eller’s website regarding forgiveness.  Please click over and check it out.  http://tsuzanneeller.com/2013/07/08/forgive-to-live-frenemy-or-real-enemy/#more-6097.  Suzie is a Proverbs 31 speaker and author.  Her latest book is The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness.

She talked with my entire family except me.  When I tried to engage her in a conversation, she snubbed me and walked away.  Confused, I asked a mutual friend why this person would be upset with me.  Apparently, this woman was under the impression I insulted her father-in-law and she was quite angry with me.

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I called and tried to seek her out to ask about the situation and offer my apology but she would have nothing to do with me.  Whenever I see her, she makes it clear she is unwilling to forgive.

Have you ever sought forgiveness only to be rejected?

What are we to do with the hurt and rejection from those who are not interested in forgiving our mistakes or unwilling to talk though misunderstandings?

  • Do not allow the hurt to result in more damage.  Hurt can sometimes cause us to react negatively and say things we will later regret.  Our goal should be to repair the relationship.  This cannot be done if we continue to further the damage.
  • Once a sincere apology is offered, there is no need to continue apologizing about the situation.
  • Continue to be a good friend.  Try to engage in conversation if the opportunity arises and if she is willing to speak, genuinely listen.  If she is experiencing a crisis, drop off supper or send a card.  Avoid coming on too strong by constantly seeking her out.  Give her the space and time she needs.
  • Pray for a resolution.  Pray she will open her heart to you again and the rift will be healed.  Pray for your own heart to heal from the hurt of rejection and to be patient in waiting for God to work in the situation.

Unfortunately, it’s been a few years now that my friend has been upset.  I’ve accepted she may never forgive me.  It saddens me but I’ve come to the realization some relationships just come to an end due to no fault of our own.

I continue to offer friendly greetings upon seeing her and attempt conversation.  However, God has healed my heart of the hurt and has helped me move on even as I continue to pray and hope for a reconciliation someday.

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©2013 Connie Davie Johnson

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View more pictures at Susannah Cushman’s blog here.

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson