Saturday, May 4, 2013

Not Going to Lose It

Folks, this week has been complete and utter insanity. I did 8 intakes (initial assessments) on new clients this week. That is nearly as many as I did in the previous 2 weeks combined. Each assessment takes about an hour and half to 2 hours. Plus I had 7 regular client sessions to hold. Except that there is always something: testing at school, doctor visits, forgetful parents...that means that sessions get moved and my whole schedule gets rearranged. Oh, and I had to do a few emergency sessions this week as well. Needless to say by Friday night my stomach was cramping horribly from the stress and even today (Saturday) I'm battling a headache and a very pinched nerve in my left arm. There is still a lot that needs to be done, both for my full time job and for the nonprofit (which also had about 900 things that needed addressing this week), but, surprisingly, I have managed to make a HUGE dent in things. Being under so much pressure must make me super productive.

Still, I would appreciate no repeats of last week. I'm not sure my body can handle it. Unless someone is prepared to offer me free massages.

Despite there still being a few looming deadlines, a website that needs to be fixed, and several emails that need replies I'm allowing myself to forget about them for a few hours (though that is harder when you decide to blog about them). I have a somewhat sketchy plan of how I will finish tackling various to-do things this weekend and I'm taking some time to just knit and relax.

I had tons of ideas for projects I wanted to make so I checked online and found this pullover pattern. I like that the neck has buttons so it can be worn fastened in cold weather but can also be undone for pulling over big heads (if you are like me and seem to have a rather large cranium). I started a few hours ago and here is where I am now:
I'm using Cascade Eco Wool in a blue-ish tweedy type color that I picked up at Stitches East probably 5 years ago. I really like it though and I think it will be a great knit for a little boy (this is a charity knit, I'm not trying to tell anyone anything by that statement).

I hope the rest of you are relaxing a little this weekend as well!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It's Not About Me

This blog post isn't about me. It's not about my next trip to Romania. It's not about raising funds. It may look like those things but it's not.

Yes, I am going back to Romania. In fact, I'm going very soon. May 30th to be exact. That means I have a little over 30 days to raise the $3000+ needed to go. Daunting? A little bit. But then I remember, it's not about me.

It's about this kid:
And this letter from him:
Dear Melissa,
I love you a lot and I miss you and can't wait to see you and I want to play with you and we can play together. And I know Jesus will help you come back quickly to Romania and you will play with all the kids and they miss you and I love all the Americans.

It's about the faith of a 13 year old orphan half way around the world and God's fulfillment of a promise He gave to that orphan.

This is totally not about me.

To help me fulfill this promise you can donate through my charity at or through Heart to Heart International ( Feel free to share with friends and others through Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for your faithfulness!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Emotions, Feelings, and Being Smart About Them Both

As a therapist who works with young children one of my biggest challenges is getting kids to talk about their feelings and emotions. It's not that they don't want to talk or even that they don't know they are experiencing complex emotions. The issue is usually that they don't have the EI (emotional intelligence) to understand their own emotions much less the emotions of others. I have a client who described school as "stupid" and "boring" because they were feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at not being able to keep pace with their classmates. A pre-teen client doesn't understand the emotional impact their anger outbursts have on others because they can barely articulate what makes someone feel happy or sad. These kids lack the EI to process their emotions. Why is that important? Because when a child understands their emotions they can control them better. They can also perceive others emotions and learn to sympathize with others. I have seen it happen in a teenage client who suddenly began to view their parents' overbearing behavior as concern for their well-being and stopped bucking them on their rules. The teen stopped feeling powerless and started talking to their parents again (which improved their relationship immensely) and made life a little more bearable for everyone.

How do we develop EI? Are we born with the ability to sense others emotions or is it something we learn? I think it is something that can be developed and it starts with understanding our own emotions first. Too often I find children use anger to respond to a variety of emotions: frustration, boredom, irritation, being overwhelmed, even sadness. That's a lot of emotions for one response to cover! If I feel a child has misnamed their emotion I might say something like, "It seems like you are really frustrated with school right now" or "I wonder if you are worried about something and that is why your tummy hurts?" I may need to try and explain the emotion: "Sometimes I feel like my stomach is turning circles. That's when I know I'm nervous" or "Being excited is like being super, super happy!" I also use games. I have a feelings BINGO game that I use to help clients familiarize themselves with different feelings.
This game covers things like sad, mad, and happy as well as shy, hot, and sick. I also use this to help clients to differentiate between feelings (externally affected reactions) vs. emotions (internally controlled reactions). I can also link the two (sometimes when you get angry you actually feel hot). I also cut these pictures out and use them for a matching game.
These resources came from You can look for other ESOL resources for teaching feelings and emotions. These are usually basic and include pictures which I find to be helpful. In fact, I think I'm going to buy 1 of these:
for each of my kids so I can always know at a glance how they are feeling.

If you are having trouble with a child who is responding in anger or sadness to everything and seems to have a hard time feeling "heard" try some of the emotional vocabulary building games and suggestions above. A quick search of Google reveals hundreds of links to worksheets and games. By providing children with the words for their feelings and emotions we are empowering them to understand and take control over these emotions before the emotion overpowers them.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Shut it Down

"Shut it down" is a popular phrase I often use with my therapy clients when discussing negative thought stopping.

Just shut it down.

I wish I'd take my own advice sometimes.

Yesterday I got a bit of discouraging news. It wasn't anything earth shattering, just something I knew would be problematic for the non profit. Immediately I began the "Prayer Scramble": frantically uttered prayers as I dash around trying to figure out ways to circumvent the impending setbacks.

"Lord, I don't know what to do..."(as I clicked open files)
"Lord, does this mean we need to abandon this project?" (as I shifted through emails
"Lord, what are you trying to teach me?!?" (as I angrily shove the cat off my notebook of scribbles messages)
Not my cat. But pretty close. (Source)
Finally, I admit a level of defeat: there are too many emails and none with the info I need, none of my notes seem to have been penned in this century, and the cat is dead asleep on my computer keyboard.
Why do cats sleep on warm electronics? #1stworldproblems (Source)
Then Jesus lays something on my heart.

"Ask for my will to be done and love those in front of you."

Ok! Wait, um...what???

I've been reading The Relationship Principles of Jesus and these are the 2 most recent chapters: seeking God's will and loving your neighbor (those in front of you now). But how was this going to apply to my situation? This was a problem that spanned continents, governing systems, and people groups. But I stopped. And I *really* prayed, "Lord YOUR will be done in this situation, no matter what." Then I began to mentally review the organizations that the non profit currently has contact with. A list that had been right in front of me a few minutes earlier (literally "those right in front of you").

And then it hit me. The thing I was worried about didn't apply to the organization/situation I was thinking of. It's a long story but I had literally missed the mark by several hundred miles.
Ah ha! (Source)
I had nothing to worry about.


Jesus often tells us to shut it down. Shut down the worry. Shut down the negative talk. Shut down completely and stop trying to "fix it" (::cough, cough:: me) because the answer is already there.

Maybe next time I'll actually remember that before I irritate the cat.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why Am I Surprised When God Shows Up?

About 2 weeks ago I sent out a request for help. I needed to get some funds for shipping a metric ton of clothing out of my room so that 1. Hundreds of orphans can have new clothes, shoes, and games and 2. I can actually use my bedroom for things like getting dressed and walking around and sleeping. The response was instant and BIG. Within 48 hours over $2000 had been collected. As of right now over $2600 has been donated. I'm stunned. For some reason I doubt that this is real. I always feel like someone made a mistake. In short, I'm surprised when God shows up.
Yo! What's up? Surprised to see me? How do like this shirt I just picked up at the church rummage sale? (Source)
I'm the best at putting Jesus in a box. Like, trying to define what He can do by what my feeble human mind can think up. For example, if I pray for donations of shoes then I'm thinking a couple of pairs of ratty sneakers. And then someone gives me 100 pairs of Air Jordans and I'm like, what?!?! Because in my mind I really want the Air Jordans but for some reason I think God's only going to come through with the ratty sneakers. The worst part is I DON'T SHOT HIGHER THAN RATTY SNEAKERS. If wishing for ratty sneakers gets me Air Jordans then what would asking for Air Jordans get me???
Ratty sneakers (Source)
Air Jordans (Source)

I'm working on the not being surprised by Jesus thing. I'm also working on not limiting Him. I'm trying to aim higher and higher each day. I pray that my asking is closely in tune with what He wants to give me. Because I'm pretty sure He has bigger and better things still to come.

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"-Matthew 7:11 (ESV)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I need help. And I don't mean the psychiatric kind. I need financial help. Well, specifically, EEROP/Walking with Orphans needs financial help. I just want my bedroom back.

See, all the donations that come in to Walking with Orphans get placed in my bedroom. Why? Because I'm the president and we don't have office space (yet). Extra large packages get put in the basement. Once the boxes are all unpacked the donations get logged, sorted, and stored. In my bedroom closet. When I get enough ready for a shipment or someone contacts me about a need then I repack everything. In my bedroom. Then I either send it with my operations manager to be shipped or I wait. Why do I wait? Usually because we don't have enough funds to cover the shipping at the moment. Which means that the huge boxes of donated items sit. In my bedroom.

Right now we have SEVERAL boxes that are ready to ship but not enough funds to cover them all. So they are waiting. In my bedroom.

Exhibit A:
A stack of girl's clothes just waiting to sent off. I have at least 3 places these could go.

Exhibit B:
More girl's clothes waiting to be packed up.

Exhibit C:
A packed box for children in Russia. I have the address and everything ready to go. Winter and summer clothes plus games for the kids all packed up.

Exhibit D:
Underwear. Yes, underwear. A whole box of brand new underwear. Specifically designated for an orphanage in Ukraine. Just waiting...

Exhibit E:
3 boxes of hats and scarves ready to go to a new orphanage (1st time contact). There will be 1 more box going to this same location.

Exhibit F:

A box of baby clothes to go to a friend in Romania who works with abandoned infants and gypsy children. There is enough clothes in stock to send probably 3 boxes to her. But, for now, it sits.

As much as I like using boxes as a bedside table it's not really the look I was going for. What can you do to help? Click on the link below and donate. Then share with your friends and get them to donate too. I have at least 4 more bags of donations coming in and I need to make room for everything. The longer these sit the longer the kids go without. Just remember...

$20 will get a small box to Romania
$50 will get a small box to Russia or Ukraine
$100 will get a large box to Romania
$150 will get a large box to Russia or Ukraine
$500 will get 3-4 boxes to Russia or Ukraine
$1000 will get a box to Bulgaria
$2000 will cover shipping for 2-3 months
$3000 will get a round trip ticket, 2 weeks in country, and HAND DELIVERY of 2 suitcases worth of items (plus the opportunity for that person to love on some kids and develop a personal bond with them)
$10,000 will get us office space and cover shipping, operating costs, and even travel for approximately 6 months. Yes, 6 months. $10,000. Over 1,500 children impacted. And I get my bedroom back.

Just to sweeten the deal...if you are a playboy millionaire who needs to be persuaded, here is a picture of me in a bathing suit in a pool...

playing with a little girl from a Romanian orphanage last summer.

Give away:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I feel like everything is a waiting game right now...

Waiting on the 501(c)3 approval for the nonprofit...

Waiting on the new logo and website design so I can launch Walking with Orphans...

Waiting on my first paycheck from my new job...

Waiting to see if I will be going back to Romania this summer...

Waiting, waiting, waiting on so much more...

I think I'll eat this brownie while I wait...