Friday, April 19, 2013

The Grace Calendar - Part 3

As I finished sharing my little monologue on grace, Cupcake looked at me.

"Really?  Really!" with an incredulous smile.

It was an awesome moment!

Also, as a bit of backstory, the lost sticker was re-instated immediately after I emailed the teacher with my confession.  I assured her that Cupcake did not forget her homework, but that I had thrown it away, and together we went dumpster-diving to find it.  Alas, it was not to be found....

As it turned out, Cupcake earned a perfect month at school on the same day as she achieved her perfect month of grace.  I think it's beautiful that God allowed her to excel in her behavior as she soaked in the grace.

I think we could all take a lesson from that.  :-)

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Grace Calendar - Part 2

As I was saying,  sticker charts don't usually work so well for kids with a trauma history.

The last time we used one, it was right after Cupcake came home, and the purpose was to help her see that all of her actions and feelings are part of her whole person. 

Fast forward 5 years.

Her classroom teacher uses sticker charts for good behavior and personal responsibility.  If the kids get a "perfect month" they get some treat with the teacher.

Do you know how hard it is for a kid from hard places to get a "perfect month"? 

It has been a goal for her - all year.

So, a little over a month ago, she was well on her way to achieving the coveted prize.  I think she was a week into it, when, alas, I accidentally threw out a piece of homework she needed to turn in.  On the way to school that morning, she was so despondent (and angry) because she just couldn't "be perfect".   :-(

Then the Sunday School teacher in me came alive.  :-)

We talked about how we all have that frustration.  We just can't get it right.  (For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23)  I try, but I still mess up.  Daddy's good, but sometimes he gets it wrong.  Even the pastor can't live up to a perfect standard.  Nobody is perfect.

Except for Jesus.

As I dropped off my upset child, God gave me an inspiration.

I printed out a "Cupcake is Loved" calendar.  When she came home, I explained that this was a different kind of sticker chart.  Each day, when she woke up, she could put a sticker on the day if she was mine and I loved her.  I reiterated that I love her  She couldn't mess it up.  She would get a sticker even if she messed up.  Even if I was mad at her.  No matter what.  When she got a "perfect month" I would take her out for a little treat.

She loved it!  It gave her confidence because it was tangible, real. 

Then one day, she was feeling unworthy and unlovable.  She crumpled it up and threw it in the trash.  While I was debating my next move, she pulled it out of the can, straightened it up, hung it back in it's place, and put her sticker on. 

She was beginning to get it, even in the middle of living it out.

At the end of the month, I took her to Steak-N-Shake for a goodie.  We talked about how the sticker chart at school was important.  It helps us remember to be responsible.  It reminds us that it matters how we treat others.  It is good to strive for excellence.  It is a helpful tool to see how we're doing.


The "Grace Calendar" is a better definition of who she is.  She is valuable and loved simply because she is ours - unconditional.

And what's more...these calendars remind me of Jesus.  For those who belong to Him, it might look something like this...and I acted it out...

Some day, when we die, we'll stand before the Lord - and Satan, the accuser, will be there.  He'll be shoving all our sticker charts in our face, accentuating all the empty spots and frowny faces, telling us we're no good and lobbying for the full weight of justice to fall on us.  That's when Jesus will step in and calmly say, "Excuse me...  You have the wrong charts."  Then He will bring out His sticker charts - you know, His are perfect.  And he will give them to us.  His perfection will cover our mess simply because He loves us and we belong to Him.  Satan, silenced, will slink away defeated, and The Savior will escort us into heaven.

That's grace.    

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Grace Calendar - Part 1

Sticker charts.

They work for some kids.  Other kids...not so much.

There's a lot of talk in adoption circles about it. 

In general, I don't recommend using sticker charts as a motivator - especially when dealing with kids from hard places.

But, there have been times when they have been useful.

When Cupcake was a little tyke, she was literally dis-integrated.  She did not know that the person who raged for hours was the same as the sweet little doll-baby that rocked in my arms at night.  The therapist would ask her what made her mad.  She would answer that she never got mad.  This was a true answer in her mind. 

So our therapist made some sticker charts.  If she had a good day and didn't hurt anyone, she could put a happy-face sticker on the square.  However, if she raged and hurt someone, that person got to draw a sad face on the square.  It helped her understand that is was her that was raging.  It helped her understand that her actions impacted others, people she cared about. 

It worked.  She began to see that all of her emotions belonged to her.  The different parts of her began to integrate until she formed the concept of one Cupcake with many feelings.

That's the last sticker chart we've done...until recently.

To be continued...

Blessings to you,