Monday, November 5, 2018

Dear Higley District and State of Arizona

Dear Higley District and State of Arizona:

My daughter bears an Autism diagnosis. For 2 years I have been her voice. Time and time again you have ignored not just my voice, but HER VOICE. Besides Autism, she suffers with other diagnoses and interesting circumstances which you have used to discredit what she experiences and have thereby, more than once, violated the Child Find Law because she used to be a foster child and your method is faulty. “This is not a delay, her problems are caused by something else.” As if the something else you SPECULATE from her first environment negates that she still has Autism (a diagnosis given by a doctor after a lengthy process of ruling out everything we were seeing. She didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for this.)

Let’s get to your failed promises from January of 2017:

  1. “There’s nothing we can do for her even with an Autism diagnosis at the preschool level, but we can make an IEP for her and she can ‘hit the ground running in Kindergarten’.” 
  2. We can put her on a ‘watch list’ for the emotionally disabled.
  3. You can pay for the preschool program if there are openings, ‘it’s too bad we can’t fit her in now tho so that we could be collecting data all of this time before Kindergarten’.
It appears we have hit the ground at the realities we see, and she’s not running. We are in the second quarter of her Kindergarten year and we have left yet another meeting without an IEP. You explained the reasoning to us that “medical autism is different than school autism”. The ‘watch list’ doesn’t actually exist (neither of my children who were screened by you had any info from you provided to their homeschool prior to Kinder enrollment). My daughter’s needs were too high for the regular preschool program even tho your tests said her needs were too low for the SPED program. Because she is a high needs child I was also told there was not enough room in the class the public could pay for, and that it was too late to register. We had to go to a different community daycare/preschool where they were not well enough equipped to handle the needs of a child like mine and she was kicked out of preschool—the child you told me was ‘normal’ could not function in a normal preschool. 

Conclusions from interacting with your Special Education teams: 

  1. You have framed your teachers’ positions so that their job is not to help but to reject children who have needs while also putting off parents who advocate for as long as you possibly can.
  2. You will not help us and at every turn you tell us we’re alone (with a smile no less).
  3. Your system rejects kids in need as a money game, but then you pay for it dramatically later when their needs are more severe because you contributed to their problems when they were young by not helping them. Surely in the field of childhood development you would understand that time is of the essence, and yet you act like all we’ve got is time.

Fortunately for us we found someone who WOULD help us. It was SUPPOSED to be you. We were sent to YOU by our pediatrician, developmental pediatrician, psychologist, occupational therapist, and attachment therapist. Five medical and mental health professionals who have worked directly with my daughter said she needed to come to you and that you could/would help her, but you refused her time and time again. We did find someone who would help us. You won’t be happy to hear who it was. His name is Eddie Farnsworth. 

Eddie Farnsworth (yes, the same man who has been painted to be a villain to AZ public education itself). When our public education system wouldn’t listen, THAT man HEARD parents who have kids with special needs like mine. He participated in writing and passing Jacob’s Law. Jacob’s Law was essential to helping me get medical and behavioral health therapies for my children in need during the most critical time they needed it.

You have been routinely rejecting my daughter because your system and extremely difficult process for qualification dubbed her as a “normal” child who doesn’t need any help. My daughter has not only received an ‘alphabet soup’ of medical diagnoses to prove that she is deserving of assistance in educational setting, and through that route she has been qualified for and attended the following:

  1. Occupational Therapy
  2. Attachment Therapy
  3. Behavior Coaching
  4. Anger Management 
  5. Psychologist and Counseling appointments
  6. Social skill assistance

Apparently children with these types of needs at a very young age and rigorous therapy schedules are “normal” cases to you.  At times our family has averaged 9-12 therapies IN ONE WEEK. Apparently that’s so normal that in order for you to believe us you have now put more responsibility on our plate to get an “outside evaluation” to prove her needs are high enough. Sure thing—we’ll just cram that extra, time consuming, expensive, and lengthy process into our schedule while we’re still working to survive daily life since obviously our daily life is as normal to you as people who raise nuerotypical children. 

What could raising neurotypical children be like? Wait—as I think about it—I DO have experience with neurotypical children—a lot, too! Besides being a teacher and seeing hundreds of children in my classrooms, I have also raised neurotypical and gifted children. There was a day when our family only had an appointment for medical reasons when something small like an occasional ear infection came up—once every few months or so. Back in those days I had plenty of time to schedule outside evaluations if they had been needed.

To you our kids are “other people’s children”, and by the time there is equitable change in our state’s education system for children who have special needs like mine, MY child’s needs have been and will continue to be missed by you.

Don’t worry about my child. She’s a fighter (her two in-school suspensions from last week are evidence of that—oh wait—never mind, I guess you believe that behavior is normal for Kindergarteners). Being alone and left without any additional SPED help from our public education system is something we’re getting used to. We can and WILL move this mountain without you (thanks to Eddie Farnsworth, Anika Robinson, Susan Woodruff, and Angela Teachout, we have more tools to do it) but it would have been nice if in the process the one place that no less than 5 other doctors and therapists sent us to had actually done their job to help my daughter. We believed you would be on her team, but you chose not to. As her parents who have worked harder than we ever thought could be possible to raise this one child, WE will be taking the credit for her progress and also giving HER all the accolades for overcoming mountains larger than a 5 year old should ever have to climb on her own. We will also give credit where it’s due—to the people who were listening to parents like us and who opened the way for outside assistance even tho it’s still been rough.

In the mean time, you need to understand that children JUST LIKE MINE in our district and state are being rejected for services.

You also need to know that there are MANY children with similar situations as mine, but their parents have a different socioeconomic status that prevents them from finding a way to help their children get what they need. Those same families will be directed to you and you will reject them. They may not have the financial ability to stop working to take their child to therapies like I did. They may not have a college degree to eventually pick up a higher paying  job to undo the financial damage from the hardest season of their life. They may not be married and they may not be able to weather the storm of care-giver burn out on their own. Their pediatrician and developmental pediatrician will send them to you for help, they will feel like there is hope for their child and situation, and there you will be using your screening/evaluation system that’s set up to reject their children with special needs and you’ll be turning them away with a smile. 

All of this will continue to happen, unless of course, you understand that the following changes in the way you run your Special Education program are essential to the future of these kids and their families.

  1. A developmental disability such as Autism (or the equivalent ASD verbiage for kids under 5) needs to be recognized as qualification for special ed services at the preschool level (Kindergarten is too late).
  2. Girls with Autism fall under the radar and are not served best by the same ADOS testing system as boys with Autism. This does not negate that they still have ASD. This does not mean their needs are to be neglected.
  3. A mental health diagnosis such as Reactive Attachment disorder can not discredit other diagnoses such as Autism.
  4. Mental health diagnoses such as RAD, PTSD, or unspecified mood disorders must also be recognized as special needs both educationally and developmentally (the earliest interventions for these disorders are essential for their future, and they CAN be treated when done early).
  5. Recognize that one-on-one testing systems with an adult evaluating a child are done with completely different scenarios than the social settings a school classroom provides. We cannot reject children with special needs diagnoses because they can perform cognitively well in a low stress setting. Recognize that stress (such as social situations) can trigger meltdowns and rages where their IQs drop. These drops in IQ affect themselves and others and is something that needs to be worked on on the spot, regardless of their ability to stack cubes in a silent room with one on one adult attention.
  6. A child who has trauma has a situation that affects their childhood development. They have a situation in which they manifest delays. These delays can be reversed with early intervention, but leaving them on their own because you don’t believe the situation counts as a true delay is ignorant on the part of the educators, and also violates the Child Find Law because it is impractical to view their situation as undeserving of additional special educational resources and assistance. Whether genetic or caused by environmental factors, any delay with adverse effect to childhood development IS an educational special need.
  7. Foster parents who have a child less than 6 months cannot be rejected from testing because their child has not been with them for very long.
  8. If a home district rejects a child with special needs, open enrollment and school choice options for other public preschool programs must also apply to the special education program. (We would have gone to the Gilbert Special Ed preschool program upon finding out the lacking nature of the Higley’s program, but once again state law continued to mandate our children with special needs had to face their struggles alone).
  9. All teachers (and special education teachers especially) need trauma training and certification to appropriately recognize and work through the behaviors that come with these types of children. Foster parents have a deeper understanding of and more training hours on the adverse childhood effects of trauma than educators do (I know, because I have become both a certified educator and a certified foster parent. To my dismay ONLY ONE person on the special education team that rejected my daughters even remotely understood and was concerned for the adverse developmental implications of my daughter’s Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis). Just as the Structural English Immersion endorsement was required of teachers, trauma certification needs to be added into University classes and teacher certification requirements.

It has been brought up to me by a school psychologist that certain types of mental health diagnoses such as schizophrenia can look like autism at a young age. Because my daughter has a RAD diagnosis and we live with it, I am WELL aware of the dark odds that are playing against her future—that realization has been crushing to me and my husband. Let’s remember that schizophrenia and other such diagnoses are not given until a child is in their late teens or early twenties. For MY daughter, that kind of an evaluation is FIFTEEN years from now. Shall we wait for a decade and a half to decide if we will meet the needs of this child, or will we actually do something to deal with the diagnoses she CURRENTLY bears? Will we discount what she experiences because we do not know what other mental health issues she may deal with in the future thanks to RAD? Are we going to be the ones to nail the coffin in her future when it’s not our place to play the doctor? It IS possible to have Autism AND Reactive Attachment Disorder. My child has both, and I see it every day. Her highest chance of beating the odds against the challenges of both issues comes with early and intensive focus to therapeutically help her, and part of that therapy must be appropriately helping her in her educational setting. Will you or won’t you decide to be on her team?

We look forward to watching the Higley District and the State of Arizona make the necessary changes in our education system to serve not just my child, but to effectively, appropriately, and adequately serve the state’s most vulnerable population of children with special needs.


Debra Jo & Mitchell Borden

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Ministering by Adoption

Ministering by Adoption

What comes to mind when you hear the word Ministering? I think of Mother Teresa helping orphans in Calcutta. I was fortunate to do a report on her in 6th grade, and while I cannot remember all the details of Mother Teresa’s life, I do remember that studying the way she helped mankind is something that changed me. I was only 11 when I did that report, and now I’m 34. It’s been more than 2 decades.

In my life I have been called to adoption. Called because my heart had dreamed about it for years. Called because my spouse was also open to it and had his own experiences to lead him to this path. Called because once we decided, we felt God in the details guiding our way and supporting us at every turn. Called because negative comments or projected fears others expressed to us could not match our internal understanding that “come what may”, it was our time to do this in our family NOW.

When our adoption placement came 2 years ago, it blindsided us. Months of researching, preparation, and training could not equal the magnitude of the crisis our children were in from their short lives filled with too much trauma—they’d suffered more grief and loss than most adults I know have ever had to bear (and my soon to be kids were only 3 and 4 years old at the time).

Everything marketed about adoption and often displayed in movies is pretty glamorous because the adoption itself is basically portrayed as a cure-all, or the end of the struggles. Adoption gets painted as the “happily ever after” resolution to the difficult path a child was on. But the truth is that adoption is just the beginning of a long road for healing and wholeness. For some, the holes left in a child’s heart and mind are never repairable even with a loving adoptive family who gives everything they have to try to fix it. 

I remember when the ministering program came out at church. I tried to express at church that I was physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted from ministering. Some tried to explain to me that it’s not supposed to be that way. But there’s no other way for an adoptive parent raising kids with special needs to truly feel (especially in the throes of a schedule laden with doctor appointments and endless therapies) while ministering to their children, and especially when the world at large does not understand the burden or what it feels like day in and day out. 

I believe that you can come to know what it is like to minister without being an adoptive parent, but becoming an adoptive parent is like a complete immersion in the concept—a way to drink what “ministering” means from a fire hose, a baptism by fire in every way within yourself that you never knew was possible (and we’re not talking a one day fire, we’re talking a lengthy fiery furnace) because there is no other way to pull your adopted children out of the hell that they had been living in. When you adopt, your job is to walk through the hell with them and everyone in your immediate family is asked to do it, too.

Ministering by adoption will change YOU. Instead of “saving” the child, it might actually save YOU. You will not be the same person you were before the journey—but how could you be? Why would you want to be? 

Beware—it could consume you for a season (maybe long, maybe short) where your ONLY priority will HAVE to be your immediate family alone until you can function enough to reach out beyond your adoptive family. But that’s okay—it has to be okay. That’s just how it is when you “leave the ninety and nine” to help “the one”. Also beware—your heart may be as big as the desire to bring in all the orphans you meet, but your physical and mental capacity may not allow you to help more than a “small” number. It’s not about the number, it’s about the call to extend love to the one in a way that sometimes no one else but you can do, maybe in a way no one else has chosen to do, and in the way the Lord trusts you to do when you have felt the call to adopt.

Every time I hear talks on how to minister and see church efforts on how to show and teach people what it means I usually think to myself that more lives touched by adoption would produce the desired outcome of the ministering mission in no time. And truth is, kids all over the world and in our communities are waiting to be ministered to as we speak. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Oh, How I Loathe Thee! Let Me Count the Ways!


“So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable, and strangely easy to mistake for loathing....”

Mitch and I quote this part of Stardust to each other often. I have experienced what this character is talking about, and my husband knows it, too. So in honor of our 14th Anniversary, we have been fondly remembering and have chosen to commemorate some of the ways my husband makes me LOATHE him! Haha!

  1. He doesn’t know the color of my eyes. My entire life I’ve always known that my eyes are GREEN. My driver’s license even says so, okay? A lot of people comment on my eyes. A boy in high school even called them weird. I’d prefer “weird” to the ongoing fight my husband and I share that just fills my heart with rage! He says that because my eyes have brown with the green, that they are HAZEL! While I believe the word hazel sounds pretty—it’s even a beautiful name for a girl—it’s also not the color of my eyes. One time we read a cheesy Jack Weyland love story together and a couple in the book had this same sort of fight; the boy in the book won so my husband thinks that he gets to win on this, too, but these are MY eyes, and they are definitely GREEN!

  • He has a love affair with his BIKE. Mitch likes to ride mountain bikes. That’s fine with me. I love that he has a healthy outlet and hobby. What I don’t like is when I find more picturesque photos on his phone of JUST HIS BIKE (or of him with his bike) than I can find of him together with me. And let’s not even mention the way I have to remind him to take photos of important milestones with the kids. But the bike? We’ve got plenty of those! He’s even written an ode to one of his bikes when the best deal he’d ever had turned too good to be true. He openly POURED his heart and soul out about his sob story on a biker page! Sometimes I even wonder if he LIKES that I am JEALOUS of his bike! 

  • My Clarinet Puts Him to Sleep.   Poor Mitch may never live this one down. When I studied Music Ed in college, I was preparing to be a band teacher and had many performance classes for clarinet. One semester I worked on literally the hardest clarinet piece I have ever played. Mitch sat by me for the whole concert and was awake the whole time UNTIL it was my turn to perform (I did a great job, by the way). When I got back to our seat, my husband was asleep! Not just sleeping, but OUT COLD! I had to wake him up after my part of the concert! (Mmm-hmm.) I can laugh about it now. I used to say that was the reason I quit playing clarinet, but that’s not really true. What is true is that he gets a well deserved glare every time this story is brought up, even if we’re both laughing about it and especially if he says clarinets are boring! 

  • He’s “Horn”-ie (His words, not mine). Whenever our family goes somewhere, he’ll load up all the children and lie in wait for me to stroll out to the car. Just as I walk directly in front of the hood, he honks the horn and I jump 10 feet into the air. It happens EVERY SINGLE TIME! I’ve got this startle reflex that I cannot control. It always makes him laugh and it always ticks me off, and he tries to smooth it over by calling what he does “flirting”! Grrrr! 

There are more things I could list, like the way he licks my hand to gross me out if I cover his mouth, the way he says exactly the right thing to push my buttons on purpose, and the way he makes fun of some of the most romantic songs of all time that I happen to love. When you add it up it all creates this sensation of highs and lows, happiness and rage, and before I know it, I am proclaiming to the world just how much I LOATHE MY HUSBAND! I loathe him and I love him deeply!

Here’s to 14 more years and beyond, Love!  I honestly love who I am when I am with you, and I love the way joining our lives has allowed us to create something beautiful together.

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Happiness Trap

There are times I feel ready to explode from the stress of (fill in the blank) and before I can even get the words out my husband will say, "Are you just so trapped in happiness that you can't even stand it?"

Truthfully when he does that it drives me nuts. 😂 It's a diverting comment that gets under my skin because it has nothing to do with what I'm trying to talk to him about. But then again...does it?

I think I'm not the only one who keeps searching for this elusive trap of happiness.  Most of the time I can never seem to really find it (at least not in a way where it stays with me for longer than a fleeting moment). But can anyone keep "happiness" longer than that? 

America was founded with the belief that a basic human right is to be free enough to engage in the "pursuit of happiness." So that's what we all do, and yet seem to always be pursuing--like we don't know how to be happy even when we get what we thought we were looking for.

Most religious ideas of heaven seem to include the belief that once you get there you'll be in "a better place"; usually we translate that into "a happy place." But if we were in a realm where we see and understand more, and even where we may be allowed as angels to help the people we love on earth, wouldn't we have to keep pretty busy and wouldn't we be astounded with the depth of pain and suffering that exists on earth? Maybe there's "stress" even in heaven. Maybe the idea that never ending happiness as our end goal is the wrong focus. What if never ending happiness isn't supposed to be our end goal? Maybe it's something different and perhaps our ideas of Heaven are a projection of what we wish we had on earth but it's not necessarily the reality. Now don't get me wrong--I'm not going to be upset if never ending happiness is a reality of heaven. That would be great, and it's okay to hope for that! But I just feel like it's likely so much more complex than that. More complex than our black/white, heaven/hell, happy/sad ideas of a place most living people have never visited. I just feel like if God is all knowing and all feeling, then He sees it all, and He feels it all, the opposition in all things included--the joy the pain, the struggles, the triumphs, and I believe He walks the path with us, so I don't personally believe that even God feels never ending happiness only. 

I recently read Brene Brown's, "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life." (Long title, I know!) The best nugget of all that I found in her book is that happiness is not the same feeling as joy or gratitude. I was sort of shocked when I read it,  but totally relieved when I experienced it. I was having a dark and brooding difficult mama day, and I was anything but happy, but amid my unhappiness I recognized joy in something my kids did that was funny, and gratitude that I could lay sick in air conditioning as opposed to on the streets in 110 degrees. I literally was feeling joy, gratitude, and unhappiness all at once. My mind sort of exploded because I'd only ever believed that if I wasn't happy then I likely wasn't grateful enough. I also used to think joy was the same thing as happiness. But it's not.  Interestingly enough, increased doses of joy and gratitude MAY lead to more happiness, but it's NOT A GUARANTEE!

I also recently read "Codependent No More" by Mealanie Beattie, and the most shocking bit of info I'm still chewing on is that "acceptance" is not the same thing as happiness. I have spent so much time in my life believing that if I could just make it to the acceptance stage of whatever grief cycle I was working on that I'd finally be happy. But that's not true. Acceptance does not equal happiness. 

Now that I am letting go of my faulty ideas of what happiness is or looks like, and now that I'm letting go of trying to keep it as a constant companion, I am allowing myself to feel it when it comes and not shame myself into oblivion when it goes. I'm able to identify other experiences and feelings that need to be recognized and over all I am feeling more fulfilled and content even if I'm not necessarily trapped by happiness like I thought was the goal of my existence. It's almost like I have more happiness since I quit trying to chase it so desperately.

I guess for a long time I have been unwittingly trapped by happiness because I was trapped in unhappiness trying to find it. I was trapped by what I thought happiness should be or should look like or how long it should stay in my life, especially if I had also done x, y, and z to deserve it. I was unsatisfied because I was pursuing something I felt I should have obtained and should have learned how to keep it steady by now. But that's the devilish side of happiness--we get caught in the game trying to keep it and happiness elusively escapes our grasp every time, almost like it's alive and it's going to do what happiness feels like doing and it won't be controlled by any human. So I guess we must be grateful when it comes and we can be grateful even when it goes but that doesn't mean it's going to stay just because we tell it to. 

Today I'm going to look at Happiness sort of like a long lost friend--we pick up where we left off last time and sometimes we have to say goodbye for a season, but just like a best friend, it won't stay away forever. When it goes, it eventually finds a way back. Til' next time, Happiness--I'll catch you on the flip side! 😘

Friday, June 8, 2018

Modern Day Leprosy

Types of Modern Day Leprosy:


       Somewhere along my path to finding the right one to marry, I had soaked in the idea that I'd need to carefully consider my relationships with people who deal with anxiety and depression because those are hard things to deal with and we knew several people whose marriages seemed to fall apart over those things. *Sigh* I fortunately got married to a winner in more ways than one, but let's fast forward to the point in time where I developed hypothyroidism and had anxiety and depression as related symptoms: the cultural message turned on ME. I suddenly became the proverbial and potentially harming factor in my own marriage relationship. Because of my negative perception regarding depression and anxiety, I felt that I was unworthy of love. 


People are so afraid of mental illness and understand so little about it that they'll often try to deny it exists. I overheard a man speaking about his family member who had died tragically in a drug overdose. He made it clear that no mental illnesses of any sort ran in the family. Not trying to judge harshly, but it's not typically a usual event for an overdose after prolonged drug use to have no connection to the individual needing a mental health outlet, right? Technically an OD could happen without other related factors but this was not the case. Are we the kind of society that lives in denial about what we deal with inside until it's unfortunately way too late? Are we so conditioned to being out of touch with reality that we can't even talk about mental illnesses and identify how to help others or help ourselves? I often wonder if it is a worse form of "mental illness" to believe wholeheartedly that it doesn't exist in your own family or in yourself than to openly embrace and accept it when it does.


We read about people with leprosy who historically have had to live in colonies. I could be wrong but I believe they were as feared for WHY they were different as much as whether or not what was different about them would rub off onto others. 

As a teacher today, being different is celebrated in classrooms. It's even pretty well accepted as second nature by most kids to embrace differences. But outside of that environment--both in adult life and online, being different seems to be feared. Differences are used to polarize and vilify the opposite groups into usually faulty "good-guy/bad-guy" stereotypes. People will often unintentionally or intentionally cyber bully others as a reaction to not understanding something they hadn't considered before or first. We feel that we can't hear someone else's perspective because it might change what we think we know or have been so sure of our entire lives. In a very real way for the day and age we live in, being around or getting along with people who are different than we are is as difficult for us now as knowing how to deal with leprosy used to be. 

It's really sad to me the way that we treat each other's as humans when we feel threatened by the things we do not yet understand including depression and anxiety, other mental illnesses, and fearing what it means to be different instead of coexisting in healthy and kind ways. We no longer live in ancient times where it was acceptable for people to battle to the death for sport or isolate others physically as a common practice but aren't we just as barbaric if we do this to each other emotionally? 

We've got to learn how to live and let live, and that includes accepting ourselves when there's something new about us that we've never understood before. We're doing better than before but a Modern Day Leprosy still exists and the only way we can get past it is to understand what we're doing to others and ourselves.

Photo credit:

Thursday, May 31, 2018

When Someone Says Enjoy this Because...

Mother's in the thick of raising toddlers are pretty exhausted. They may already feel that they aren't cutting it, that they can never meet their childrens' endless list of needs, and that they are not capable of enjoying every moment in all the ways they had planned to when they entered the journey of parenting. 

People who are far past the season of raising young children will typically share sentiments like, "Enjoy it while it lasts," or "The time flies by so fast," or "Remember that one day you're going to miss this."

While those statements may be true they may also drive in the message that if someone is not enjoying every second of a child's potty training accidents, sleepless nights, frustrating tantrums, power struggles, speech delays, sensory needs, financial strain with raising a family, and even lost and forgotten personal dreams, that that parent is failing because their attitude must be in the wrong place as this season is to others the most enjoyable of all.

Now before you say, "That's not what I meant." ...or even before you say, "But all the hard times are worth it because this time with your kids is priceless...."  I want to speak up real quick for the tired moms.

You're so far beyond tired. I hear you. Your fatigue causes a myriad of joy inhibitors. That wasn't exactly what you imagined before you became a parent and that really stinks! You feel like you have to work for 10 hours or more to get a rewarding moment with your child that only lasts 10 seconds long before it's over. You want to put your child in extra-curricular activities so they can find themselves, but you don't often have the time or resources. You want to give your child the world, but it's too much to give and you feel disappointed because you lose a dream every time you can't give your child what you wish you could give them. I feel all of that with you, because I'm there.

The last couple years of child raising have been so hard for me that even tho I never thought I'd never say it, I'm actually grateful my kids are growing. I am not physically or mentally capable of maintaining this stress level for the rest of my life so I know the Lord is good to us that children do eventually grow up. 

My message to you is that it isn't always going to be this bad. Nothing lasts forever--everyone knows the good times can't last forever (they're only 10 seconds long, right?), and the blessing of that message is that even the bad times won't last forever.

I know you're cherishing these days, because I do, too--10 hours apart and 10 seconds at a time. It's a cryin' shame the joyful moments aren't closer together. The rest of the time I'm just paddling upstream, wondering why I thought it was a good idea to trap myself in a life with so much responsibility. Most of the time I question how on earth I thought I could handle having so many kids. Most of the time I wonder if there will ever be an end to the stress and duress, an end to disappointment of comparing reality of the mother I am compared to the mother I'd hoped to be, or an end the chaos overload. I'm pretty sure there will be some end--and at the end of it, will be a short little nugget of joy that I will not need help being told to enjoy because I will have worked my buns off in order to earn it. Like my twinners' Kindergarten graduation last week. I really enjoyed that. I cried. I beamed. I was so proud of my kids. I ate up their funny faces and cute dance moves. I smiled and took a million pics. I hugged my kids and squoze them tightly. I lived and LOVED that moment with my babies like no other. And then at the celebration after school my kids started fighting so my day turned suddenly back to the grind of mothering. That shift happened sooner than I planned. I had no control over their whining and crying. The joyous feeling everyone was sharing together came to a screeching halt and I had to teach them on the spot: the notorious work of a parent in order to earn another moment in time that would later be joyous for me.

It came today--that new happy moment to cherish. The kids made a fort out of the kitchen table and we weren't actually able to eat our dinner on it. 🤣 It made me laugh. They're so creative. They even cooperated with each other with no glitches (#win). When our house is clean they change it and make it "better". Nothing is allowed to be boringly sterilized or magazine worthy around these parts. Crazy little humans (I adore them).

So Mamas in the trenches (and Papas)--I'm here with you and for you. I have NOT forgotten just how rotten and exhausting these days can be. I'm going to pray for you (and for me) that the hard times shorten and the good times lengthen. But we're only going to get there "One Day at a Time". I know you eat up and treasure those priceless moments. Who wouldn't?  When you're feeling like crud, tho, just remember you have permission to NOT enjoy the throw up, boogers, potty accidents, screaming, whining, financial stress, anxiety, sticky stuff on your clothes, and whatever the heck else your mountain to climb is right now. 

Just know that you're going to get over that mountain someday and so will I.  You're rocking it Mama! I'll see you on the flip side.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Shiblon Syndrome Vs The Corianton Course

(By Guest Author Mitch Borden)

In the book of Mormon there is a story of a prophet named Alma who is the son of another prophet named Alma.  The second Alma is often called Alma the younger.  He had three sons, Helaman, Shiblon and Corianton.

For most of my adult life I have been a big fan of Shiblon. I wanted to be like Shiblon. When Alma the younger was about to die and giving final counsel to his sons; Helaman who was to be the next prophet received lots of  spiritual counsel and instructions, Corianton who had been wayward received a loving rebuke and lengthy instructions, and Shiblon got a verbal pat on the head equivalent to a 'good-boy'. I wanted to be Shiblon. 

I certainly didn't want to aspire to leadership or to be in the limelight. 

And I didn't want to screw up big time like Corianton I just wanted to do what was right and hope that someday somebody would tell me I've done a good job. That was my quiet secret desire. So much so that when I heard someone praising Shiblon I was jealous. He was MY hero. I, I was going to be like Shiblon, not this guy  speaking at the pulpit.

Now let me change direction briefly and I will come back around to Shiblon.

Have you ever felt that you're not good enough? Like no matter how hard you try you always fail. Have you ever felt completely insufficient? Have you ever felt worthless that you will never measure up? Do you feel like your best just isn't good enough? Well let me put all of your questioning to rest. You aren't! You aren't good enough you are insufficient you will never measure up. And it's ok. That is the message of the Gospel. Or rather; that is why the gospel message exists. That is why I need Christ. Because I have spent nearly 2 decades trying to be like somebody I know nothing about (Shiblon.)

Shiblon probably screwed up every day of his life. I can say that because I truly believe Jesus Christ is the only perfect being to ever walk the face of the earth. I imagined that Shiblon was near perfect and I was hoping to be like him. That if I could try a little harder and be a little better and sin a little less that I could receive somebody's quiet praise "good job."  But that is all a lie. I'm calling it the Shiblon syndrome. I think an overwhelming number of us are guilty of it. Cause we build up somebody we don't really know in our minds to be something they aren't and then judge ourselves for not being more like the fictitious version of somebody else. I'm done with that. I no longer want to be like Shiblon. I can be happy being like Corianton.  Corianton made mistakes, we know that because at least some of them are right there in black-and-white for everyone to read. Well I have made mistakes too. I am far from being the perfect fictitious version of Shiblon I held in my mind. But just because I have fallen short and I'm not good enough or worthy on my own does not mean the story ends there. 

As I said earlier this is why we have the gospel message this is why God sent his only son. Even though I've spent my life being taught this and have taught it to others for years and years; I am just barely really appreciating the fact. That until I accepted my own broken status. And my shortcomings and limitations I can never have the peace that he offers. I've held myself to the inaccurate belief that since I have accepted Him and repented that I need to be perfect now. I am so far from it. I am so acutely aware of my imperfections I get uncomfortable and it bothers me when I am praised for some bit of good I may have done. Because no matter how much I sacrifice, no matter how many profanities I refrain from shouting,no matter how much perceived good I do I am still imperfect in so many ways. The truth is I am insufficient. The truth is I am incapable of being better on my own.  But He, HE is capable. He is capable of taking sinners like me and Corianton and making us more. 

 There's a famous verse in the book of Mormon that says if all men were like Moroni (a spiritual and military leader alive at the same time) then the very powers of hell would be shaken forever. Less famous are the following verses that say that Helaman and his brothers were no less serviceable to the people. Did you hear that? Helaman' brothers Shiblon the good boy middle child and Corianton the sinner.  Corianton who is most famous for messing up, repented and became a force for good as strong as Shiblon, Helaman and Moroni.  I am abandoning the Shiblon syndrome of judging myself by an imaginary perfect person. And instead I'm trying to recognize that I am on what I will call the Corianton course.  I don't need to be perfect today. I would like to be, but for now I will have faith in Christ that he can turn me into who he would have me be.