Lesson from the Spider

 Chasing Lilly, Foster children, Fostering, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Lesson from the Spider
Sep 212017

I went to the sink and was surprised to see that a spider had crafted a web over part of the sink bowl, like it now belonged to HIM. I don’t know how he pulled that off.

When you make up your mind to love and stick with a traumatized child, behaviors they throw at you are like that spider’s web. The child may surprise and shock you with their sheer craftiness and obstinacy. Beware, though, of becoming entangled in the web of their antics . That happens so easily when our emotions and tempers explode. I know! Remember when my halo  cracked?

Another word to whoever will listen. My love may not demonstrate like your love, or the love that is politcally correct. Take care of yourself . . .and never stop loving.


Guess What I Bought?

 Fostering, General Humor  Comments Off on Guess What I Bought?
Mar 252017

Wonder Woman

I just bought my first Lego set -for me! When I saw this one, I had to have it. WHY?

Because all parents of special needs kids know that you have to put on the super hero suit to fight the “Doomsday” in our lives. My suit just happens to be Wonder Woman, like lots of other moms.

You dad’s have a lot more choices, lol! Superman, Batman, Captain America…

My Lego set is now all put together, in plain view in my office. Sometimes we need reminders of who we are, with God’s help.

If you need this, you can get it for about $10 at Amazon.

-Nealie 🙂

What is Therapeutic Parenting?

 Foster children, Fostering, Uncategorized  Comments Off on What is Therapeutic Parenting?
Jun 112016

Therapeutic Parenting means parenting in a manner that brings healing to the child. That’s my definition. I have a confession, though. I used to see the “peu” in therapeutic and think pe-u, because it’s HARD to be therapeutic. It’s work!

Here is an excerpt from Chasing Lilly that demonstrates therapeutic parenting:

The teachers looked weary and relieved to see me because their classroom had been turned into a three-ring circus. Lilly had taken off her shirt and thrown it, chewed on her undershirt and pulled at it until there were holes, threw her shoes, peed on the floor in several places, blew snot out of her nose, fought with the teachers, and cussed them out.

Miss Coops started to gather up the scattered clothing from the floor as well as a jacket, and she brought them to me. I took the items but said, “Evidently she didn’t want to wear these in class, so she won’t be wearing them home. It’s kind of cold out, but she made her decision.”

Mrs. Firm looked awed and said, “You’re even tougher than I am.”

I marched my little charge down the hall, through the crowd, and outside toward the car. More than a few stared at us and (I’m sure) wondered at the homeless-looking urchin in bare feet, but I was getting used to being Lilly’s mother.

I didn’t scold her, but asked if she’d like to hold my hand as we walked to the car. At first she said no, but after a few yards, she grabbed my hand and sadly said, “I’m not a good girl.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I don’t want to tell you,” she said with her head down.

“I already know, Lilly, but I still love you.”

When we got home I told her that I was going to rock her.

“I don’t want rocked,” she said.

“Well, I’m going to rock you anyway.”

“Why do you have to rock me?”

I looked at her little face and responded, “Because I want you to know that I love you, and I am so proud of you when you are a good girl.”

Lilly paused to contemplate that statement, and she then climbed into my lap. We rocked quietly and the only sound was the chair creaking on the hardwood floor.

She sighed and said, “I am so worn out today.”


There are time that I have failed miserably being therapeutic. Other times, I’ve seen great success when the extra effort was spent, and healing and progress would result.

Dr. Karyn Purvis has excellent information on parenting in a way that brings healing.

Therapeutic parenting takes time. You can’t do this in a day. Keep at it! -Nealie



Apr 242016

For a long time every morning I would pass a sign that said, “Miss a Day, Miss a Deal.”

I hated that sign. I don’t even shop there. But that slogan … it made me slightly anxious, because it implied that I was missing something.

Stupid, I know. It goes in the same category as comments such as, “Why did you do that?” Why did I do what?

I remember being at my sister’s house when she was dying. She ordered me to pack her things in boxes, and to use packing tape to seal them. I haven’t been able to hear that rip of packing tape without sadness since that day.

Think of something that causes a little anxiety for you. If little things like these can get us going sometimes, imagine what might trigger a traumatized child.

The color of a room may bring back bad memories.

A certain noise may be a trigger. Maybe it preceded abuse.

Seasons, holidays, people with dark hair/light hair -who knows? We need to be sensitive to the things that may seem to be triggers, and not just chalk-up behavior to disobedience or defiance.

If there are problem behaviors that defy reasoning, then maybe something like this is at work. Pay attention to repeated reactions to certain people or things. Trauma kids often don’t even know why they get upset, so we need to help them by paying attention. Say a child has a memory of dropping their ice cream cone and getting beaten for the mess it made. It would be easy to assume that ice cream could be a trigger. Who would think that something that is good and fun to you, could be a negative for a child?

Keep a log of episodes and what went on those days. What season was it? Where were you? Any sounds in the background? Any different foods served?

A therapist with trauma training and knowledge can be valuable.

Listening to other trauma-parents can also be helpful.

Love my readers, Nealie


Apr 102016

Author's FairI spent part of yesterday at the Stark County District Library main branch at an Author’s Fair. What was exciting about it for me, was that I actually had a few proof books with me. That means that Chasing Lilly is almost ready to be purchased in hard copy form, for those of you who have been waiting for that. The Chasing Lilly Curriculum and Discussion Workbook will follow soon after! Amazon sells the electronic versions if you prefer those.

I shared a spot with Artist BZTAT, and wanted to tell you that she has the coolest coloring books featuring cats, and she does very affordable digital pet portraits that require only a photo of your favorite pet. Check out her work!

Jan 202016

cat smelling flowerIt’s imperative to take care of yourself when you have special needs kids, multiple small children, a member of your family with long-term, chronic illness, or similar demands that suck you dry.

Make time for yourself, (even a few minutes), when you have any of those situations, or when you have any crisis that lasts for more than a week.

I think that a week is about all a person can handle without beginning to do some type of mind and body refreshing, or self care. It could keep you from running down the middle of the street, screaming at the top of your lungs.

What does self-care look like? It’s not usually just one thing, but a series of small things that will help you feel a little better, and it is different for all of us. It is something that gets your head out of the situation -at least for a few minutes.

I like to put cream on my feet, and if a week has gone by without that, then I have been under too many demands. I like to connect with a best friend for a visit or long conversation -uninterrupted! A meal in a restaurant, a short walk. A babysitter for the kids! A soak in the tub, a manicure or haircut. Sometimes, it is fifteen minutes near a sunny window with my eyes closed. (It’s winter here, or a lawn chair would do just fine.)

What little things refresh you? Make a list, and be reasonable. (No trips to Hawaii.) Try to do one thing every day. When we had Lilly, we had years of one crisis after another. Hey, I lived through it with her, and now there are new ones with other family. Does anyone have a life without troubles? No.

And take time to pray and connect with the Creator. He created you, and is able to refresh you.

Wishing you the best, Nealie


Jan 112016

If I can just get through this, life has to get better.

If I can just get through this surgery . .

If I can just get through the funeral . . .

If I can just get through these obligations . . .

If I can just get through . . .

When life has you by the neck, and each day is a struggle, how do you get through it?

A friend told me yesterday that she gets mad when people say to those struggling, “God will never give you more than you can bear.” She said that is not true, and that verse concerns temptation, not the burdens of life. She said that sometimes we do have more than we can bear, and that’s when, if we know God, we can say, “But for God . . ”

But for God’s help, I would have died.

But for God’s intervention, I would have lost hope.

But for God. He will give you the strength to get through the worst situations, which are impossible without Him.

When we were raising Lilly, we had days that were so traumatic and draining that we didn’t think we’d survive.

You may be in the middle of something that has emptied you of every ounce of energy and hope. Step back and put the situation in a very big hand, (after all, the earth is His footstool), and little by little there will be change enough to get through. It may not become perfect, or what you want it to become, but you will be able to breathe again. -Nealie









Dec 102015

We all have routines that we like and seem to thrive on. Get up, drink coffee, pray, exercise, shower, eat breakfast, look at the news, begin work, etc. Chosen routines help you feel content and more peaceful. God help the person who might keep you from getting that java or shower!

Breaks in the familiar are magnified for special needs children and kids from trauma backgrounds. Holidays, vacations, parties, and illnesses can cause emotional upheaval and disruption similar to how you feel when your routine is fractured, only much worse.

Our special kids may not have the internal regulation or understanding that assures them that life will return to normal in time. Put yourself in their place when you think things through.

These kids need structure to feel safe. Parties and holiday breaks may sound fun, but the feelings that they generate may be scary. My advice:

1. Keep things simple in decorating and planning. And is your idea of a “terrific trip” suitable for what they can handle?

2. If you want to go all-out on something, make sure your child is insulated from it, or your all-out will result in fall-out. (Is it worth it?)

2. Gifts should be few and keyed specifically to the child.

3. The fewer multiple strangers around, the better.

4. Plan ahead. Have a “buddy” for your child. Make it someone the child knows, and who will stick with them during an event. A spouse or mature sibling could do it for thirty or forty-five minutes, then have the next person assigned relieve them so that there is a rotation, and nobody gets burned out.

5. Where/who is your backup? I remember writing in Chasing Lilly about a time that we took Lilly out of state, and almost didn’t get her back home, because she went completely ballistic at a rest stop. What would we have done if she had taken off and been picked up by a stranger before we could have found her?

6. Prep your special needs kids, but don’t talk about an event too much beforehand, as that increases anxiety.

7. Realize that there may be a fixed internal clock that is triggered by certain events and times of the year. If a child is new to your home, tip-toe through these until you know your child better. There is no trip or party worth tearing up your family.

8. And lastly, I might get some objections to this, but expect your verbal child to say thank you for gifts. One Christmas, Lilly received a very nice gift from a family member. When she opened it, she rudely said that she didn’t want it. They offered to return it and get something else, but I handed the gift to them and said, “No. She has been rude to you and is not thankful. Return it and go out to eat with the money.” Lilly realized her loss, and she was more appreciative of gifts given to her after that.

Peace and joy to you, Nealie


Dec 032015

I find it amazing that Lilly , who has experienced atrocious abuse and hurt, generously gives people the benefit-of-the-doubt.

Yesterday, she and I were talking, and she expressed some annoyance toward the peer group that she is around everyday.

“I know Carl’s had it rough, and I shouldn’t get mad at him, and Mandy gets on my nerves, but she’s had a hard life. All these people have their problems. I try to stay cool, but it’s hard. (Pause) Hey . . .  I’ve had a hard life, too.”

Lilly said that like it had only just occurred to her. Isn’t it wonderful that she can see the needs and limitations of others, and express some patience and empathy?

Love that girl! -Nealie

Nov 302015

Want some pure religion? The Bible says that pure religion is taking care of widows and orphans in their distress. (James 1:27)

These days, in this country, it’s hard to find a truly distressed widow, but they are around if we look. So look. 🙂

And orphans are everywhere.

What? Yes.

There are permanent and temporary orphans in every city.

They are the children in foster care.

“Okay,” you say, “But what can I do? I don’t know any orphans personally.”

Give to foster agencies. They are constantly in need of funding to help these kids. “Giving Tuesday” is now, if you have to have a designated day!

Or be a foster parent. Some of you have never had your life touched by an orphan, but you feel like doing the right thing . . .

So get some true religion and do it.

Look in the phone directory for an agency, or donate through Amazon Smile, which gives 5% of your purchases to a charity of choice. Here are two great ones if you are so inspired: Pathway Caring for Children and Beyond Trauma and Attachment. (The latter is not a foster agency but helps families who are raising foster and adoptive children from trauma situations.)

May you be truly blessed as you bless the less fortunate around you!  😀 Nealie