Day 3~

Every other Saturday, I have my internship class. I like this class it is helpful in learning about other sites, how others handle problems and the time of bonding with other students is always good, this way we never feel like we are disconnected from others as we pursue our goal of being a counselor.

Today after class, I hung around with two of the other students chatting and talking about our struggles both professional and personal. One of them called this, ‘our therapy’, that casual statement is right on target, even counselor’s need therapy. Once in a while, I will get a client who is defensive or even belligerent wanting to know if I see a counselor. I always reply with a resounding “Yes!!!!”. One cannot do the work we are called to do every day without having a source to go to for our own therapy. Some of the words felt as if they came straight from God’s mouth, validation of my goals, words of wisdom to keep me safe and thoughts to ponder for my future.

I am doubly blessed, I have a few counselors at my site who will also gather around me and give me hope when I am struggling, validate my feelings and offer resources to use for my clients or for me to pass exams.

I find that the Lord is working in my life at times in ways that I never anticipated. It is scary how much He hears, listens to and then responds. Once I told a young Christian woman that “life is messy” which is something I have learned as a counselor, and the Lord used that phrase to show her just how messy life can be. I have always thought I knew how the Lord can use us, but that experience was like the brick upside the head for me. I have to say that one must be very careful what they ask the Lord for, as the last few weeks I have found out just how difficult having the response from God can be both humbling and painful. 

“Be Still and Know that I am God” is my current go to verse, many times I see it and it causes a physical reaction within my chest, almost like God tapping on it~ “hey you, listen up”. I know that the Lord has a plan for my future and I must be patient as it is not time yet, but until then at least He sends me the support that I need to get through the tough times I am going through right here and now. 

Never did I think that the first 3 days of my writing would revolve around my life as a counselor or how my faith is growing and changing yet again. Lately, the Lord is using others to show me things in my life and allowing me to see how I am impacting others lives as a counselor. I knew that I wanted to get back into blogging but had no idea of what I wanted to write about, I guess that is one more area of my life that God has taken care of for me.

~Day 2,

I am currently a counseling intern and work late on Thursdays, I got home last night after being gone for over 12 hours, hoping to grab a bite to eat and then go to sleep but my teenage sons had a different plan. By 9:30pm they were in my room talking about their day working the church rummage sale, they are active in our church youth group and want to go to Chicago next summer. One of the requirements is that they work as many of the fundraisers that they can. My sons love working the rummage sale twice a year. As homeschooler’s they love the chance to do a few days of real life learning instead of book learning. They get tips, eat a fantastic lunch prepared by a lady in our church and hang out practicing their social skills on the buyers and the others who are working. I was not anticipating a hour and half conversation with them last night! It was a great time of bonding as we talked about a myriad of things that they had seen and did. Then the conversation drifted to many other areas of their lives and before I knew it, I was hoarse and in desperate need of sleep. The boys went to their room, but then the Princess who is 12 was not quite ready to go to bed, she ended up finishing watching Mulan 2, while I dosed off. As much as I loved the bonding time, I was ready to call it a night by then. It was after 11pm and 6:30am comes way too early for this not lover of mornings person.

It is always difficult to balance my family life with homeschooling and pursuing my Master’s in Counseling but I truly am embracing the challenge that is my life. I love the person I am becoming, I love the knowledge I have to offer my children and I enjoy the independence I have to be able to pursue my dreams. Yes, I miss things here and there with my children and yes I am overtired and stressed many days but I would not change it. The Lord has taught me much during the last few years and I pray he continues to as I work to finish this degree and then hopefully pursue my Doctorate.

31 Days of Writing

So I am not happy about my lack of writing and decided this was a good way to attempt to rekindle the writer that is inside of me. So here we go……

Today’s post will just be a quick intro for those who may be new to my blog. I am a Christian, wife, mother of 11, grandmother of 9, graduate student, homeschool mom, and Lutheran.

I do not think I am all that special, so do not bow down to me, I am just like everyone else: a sinner in desiring of God’s forgiveness, and a woman who is doing her very best under the circumstances of life. 

You will get to know me very quickly, as I am quite outspoken about what I believe in, although I hope that I am gentle in my presentation of it and non-judgmental of others and their choices which may or may not differ from my own. 

FMF~ Try

Try~ this word has been my mantra for the last few weeks, I do not know when it became that, or how it happened. What I do know is that try has become an integral part of who I am becoming. A dear friend pointed out that I used to only try things that I thought I would succeed at and I had never noticed that about myself. I needed to succeed and always thought of not succeeding as failing. 

Now my life is about trying and if I am told no, I do not feel like a failure but am happy that I at least took that risk, reached for something that may not be in my reach. No, is not as permanent of a word to me as it once was. I wonder when I grew and changed?

There are still days that the word try makes me frustrated, I feel as if I am constantly ‘trying’ to be someone that i am not or that I need to ‘try’ to be a better Christian, Wife, or Mom. Why are we never satisfied with the job that we have done? Why must ‘try’ always be a judgement call or worse yet an excuse for our less than Christ-like behavior. You know what I mean the “I’m trying to be a good (insert any word) why are you not happy with me?”

Well, my five minutes is up and I am not as usual. But at least I am writing again!

Ending thoughts~ Try is a powerful word and depending on the usage can be negative or positive. Right now, I’m ‘trying’ to keep it positive and not dwell on the negatives of it in my life.

The Word Shame and Brief Update

So lately, I have been swamped with many problems that are beyond my control and it is humbling!!!!! I have come to the conclusion that the Princess may be gluten-intolerant and before you ask or judge, no I am not going to have her made miserable by tons of tests at this time. What I am doing is keeping a food journal and eliminating gluten from her diet. How did we get here you ask? For about 5 weeks she was vomiting at least once a week, two nights ago she was hungry and ate a big bowl of cereal, first thing next morning? Vomiting……she is severely underweight and very tiny for her age. I finally gave up and read some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance and lo and behold, failure to thrive children is a symptom of gluten intolerance! As well as many of her other symptoms! She is a horridly picky eating as it is and going gluten free is going to be hell on earth for both of us not to mention my food budget! But we will do it and see if she gains weight, grows and stops having horrid GI symptoms. 

On to the topic of shame, one of my professors and I had a great conversation about that one day and I am still processing it. So you as my captive audience get to read my thoughts on it. She said that she has a ton of it welled up inside of her still…….it is black and gooey and wells up sometimes drowning her. I on the other hand no longer carry my shame with me, regrets, sadness but never shame. What makes us so different I wonder? Is it because, I have had to whether I wanted to admit to my many sins and mistakes? After all, pregnant at 15 is quite visible, or the affair that I had while dealing with depression, that was spread all over the community where I live? Perhaps it was the fact that I had to share the story repeatedly after my divorce to social workers, lawyers, GAL’s, judges, police, you name them and I probably talked to them and had to admit that my life was a hot mess.

While pondering this I have realized that while my life has been exceedingly difficult that I do not feel shame over past mistakes and if anyone thinks I should, well they can take a hard look at their own sins before they cast any stones my way. Looking back I can say that I am grateful for having to be open and honest about my mistakes, it is now a blessing to not feel shame welling up in my soul, like a black, sticky, gooey mess. Am I Lilly white? No, I am not but my soul is much lighter and whiter thanks to my faith in God than it would be if I was still carrying around all of those past screw-ups and shame. As a Christian, the saying that “All things come together for the glory of the Lord”, comes to mind, while I was dealing with my visible shame throughout my life, I never dreamed that one day I would look back and be humbled by the thought that I did not need to carry it around like so much heavy unnecessary baggage, you know the things you pack for a trip “just in case” you need it and then you never use it? 

I could write  more on this topic but I think I will leave you with “It is Well with My Soul“. 

Homeschool Evals and Miscellaneous Things

I have been so busy the last two months that blogging is hard to keep up with. The last two weeks has seen us getting ready to see the teacher who evaluates the children. We love her! She is very supportive of my children’s learning issues and always has great suggestions for us to continue succeeding at homeschooling. 

The littles saw her last week and did very well, the Peanut wants to be a Math professor currently and I’m not overly thrilled about that career for him, although if he would teach Latin and/or History I would be right on board 🙂 She said you know you don’t have to teach him precalculus! He can learn that in college! So I now will work very hard to be supportive of his possible career! One thing that my younger kids do is pick a career and stick with that idea for a long time or they end up circling back to it. 

The only change she suggested is to switch totally to Life of Fred for math for Ace and the two younger ones. Although I’m sure the Peanut can do MUS easily the other two struggle with it and learn much better by stories. Ace did Life of Fred Fractions in addition to MUS and that was a bit much for him, that is what I have been doing with the Princess this year as well and it is again too much. So at least for those two Life of Fred is just better. They learn more and seem to retain more! Ace read The Journey of Al and Gebra to the land of Algebra this year and it was much better for him to understand concepts without stressing him or me out. Let’s face it, that is important in life and not every child is supposed to be a mathematical wizard, although most parents expect that out of their kids. With this in mind I have already ordered Life of Fred Beginning Algebra Expanded Edition and Life of Fred Percents and Decimals for them for next year and we still have the MUS DVD’s so if they need extra help we have it available. The Princess has stated many times lately that MUS Fractions does not make sense to her at all when she watches the video causing her and me much angst. 

The Ark is now officially a Senior!!! She is so impressed with him and where he is going with his life. He shared that after college he wants to join the Peace Corps for two years, so he can travel and learn more about real life. He is planning on being a youth director as a career and that is so exciting for both of us. We are planning on having him take the ACT soon as I have time to schedule it. Also, we will probably have him take a couple of classes at our community college to get in the swing of college life with a safety net of having mom to give support. We have had him take a class on HighSchool to College transitioning and he is taking the second class soon. He really enjoyed the first class even though I could have taught him most of that material! That is a bit frustrating for me as a counselor to be who has worked with undergraduates teaching them academic success skills!!!

We are doing summer swim team per our usual which is keeping us busy. The littles are doing swim lessons, the Peanut just passed onto level 6 while the Princess is stuck at level 5 due to her scoliosis * a big disappointment for her. But we are looking into swim lessons at a new place opening up soon that will have small classes and maybe better ways of teaching her to succeed in spite of her disability. 

That is all for the time being, as I am studying to take my comprehensive exams and now have to do some work on the kids school planning! Look for an update after July 11! 

*edit: I guess i might have said that I now have a Senior, Freshman, two middle schoolers: 7th grader and 5 grader

Bittersweet and Gratitude

I need to process out my emotions about this semester of grad school ending. Last semester, I struggled because I took 4 classes at the graduate level, looked for an internship,became the Beta Chi secretary  and facilitated an academic success group for undergraduates. To say that it challenged my growth academically is an understatement. My Doctoral Prep class really pushed me, I worked with a fellow student on a research project and there was just so much I had to do for that class. We ended up doing a poster presentation on our literature review at a leadership workshop at Youngstown State University this semester, I made some great contacts and it made all of the stress from last semester so worth it.

This semester found me struggling to find my counseling identity since I was now in practicum interacting with clients, participating in Group class, where I embraced the thought of working on my issues with my fellow students every week for 12 weeks. I wrote in one of my reflections that “Sharing is hard work” and it is. Sharing with a group of people you do not know intimately means being vulnerable, open and hopefully honest. I cried the first session and today the last. Crying is something I hate to do, it make me feel more vulnerable as if that were possible. 

I have learned so much about me as a person this semester! Every group session taught me something new about who I am, who I want to be and who I was. I learned that my past as traumatic as it was is a good thing as long as I put it into perspective and learn from it. I have taken so many classes where I had to reflect on who I am in the last two years of this program that I have started healing  and integrating my past into my present and my future. I cannot explain how exciting or scary that is for me. No longer do I feel like I need to hide my trauma but that I can use it to show others that one can heal and have a future. 

I am so very thankful for making the right decision two years ago when I worried over what grad program to go to. I remember praying about it and one day, I realized that I would make the right decision and that God knew I would. I have had an amazing group of professors in my academic career over the last 8.5 years. I just need a moment to say thank you to all of them: Emily: you told me that I was smart enough to succeed and get my doctorate if I decided to do so, and you know what? I plan on pursuing just that in Counseling Education and Supervision. Robyn: you have always been there to listen to my stories and that has saved my mind so many times. Rachel: I know that we don’t get much time together but you were wonderful with me and I learned so much. Kate: You have always been so supportive of me and what I want to be regardless of where my decisions lead me. Toni: Gosh, I love you, your perspective, your willingness to help me when I am sure I drove you crazy (Although, most of my profs can relate to that). Jan: you validated me for my experiences so many times and where would I be without you? Scott: I loved Latin class with you, you never freaked out when I gave you hell or when I was to sick to be in school or struggled with Latin. Dr. Shang: I have always admired your knowledge and your sense of humor, seeing you the other day, reminded me how much you gave me as a student, Dr. Gehlert: you drive me crazy sometimes but you also push me to be my best and I admire that. Dr. Shermann: Thank you for the opportunity to work with undergrads, that experience made me realize that I love teaching and mentoring students. Dr. Finucane: for giving me an opportunity to work with you on a publication and gain experience, so hoping that we get published next year. Martina: You are my biggest fan, and I am so thankful for you and all that you have given me over the last two semesters. 

I am truly blessed by all of my professors, they are my rock, they have taught me so much, written wonderful letters of recommendation for me and just supported me throughout my academic career.Thank you for being the people I needed to push, support and care about me. I love each and every one of you!