Meet Penny Nickels–A Great Book For Children By Adam York

Alicia Reagan:

I am so excited about this new series written by my cousin Adam York. I love anything that teaches my children to be good stewards of ALL that God has given them – not just their money. This book is the first in an adorably written and beautifully illustrated series that will guide children alongside Penny to learning to live their lives honoring God.

Well done Adam!For more information, go to http://www.pennynickelsbooks.com.

Originally posted on The Reagan Review:

Here is the initial volume of a promising series for children with on the Adventures of Penny Nickels. As a parent of six children who has seen an incredible number of children’s books in my time, I found this volume actually delivers a message more than the fluff that is typical. Written by Adam York, this story got high marks from my children still in this age group.

This story is to help children grasp stewardship. Not a little story about bringing your offering, but one that sees that being a stewart extends to all areas of life. Parents were shown with positive stewardship and the character, Penny, learned and demonstrated it too.

The illustrations by Scott Burroughs were bright and happy and a great match for what the story told us about Penny.

Meet Penny Nickels is a winner all around and I predict children will love this series…

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Things To Consider About Aging and Paralysis

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I have been paralyzed for 6 years. To brand new injuries, I have been at it awhile. To those who have been in chairs for 30 years, I am just a baby. So, it all depends on your perspective. Some days my body gives its own perspective! As I feel the effects of only 6 years on my 38-year-old body, it does raise questions as to how I will age with paralysis.

One of the first things that hit me as I was in rehab was that I needed to be independent. In the early days, my husband was literally doing everything for me! I was not capable of doing much on my own. As I relearned how to live my new life, my husband hated to watch me struggle so hard to do the simplest of tasks. I told him that he must let me learn to be as independent as possible, because I knew there would come a time – as I aged – that I would need even more help.

I am not anywhere close, I hope, to needing a lot of help. However, I do believe my paralyzed body will age quicker than my able body would have. They say paralysis ages you by about 10 years and I believe that. I do think about my future and I want to plan well.

My goal is not to be a doomsayer! I can’t stand that! But, some things are worth discussing with your loved ones early on so that hard decisions do not have to be made in the emotional moments.

Categories To Consider:

  • Personal Care

When I reach a place that I need daily care, my plan is not to use my family. My husband is already 7 years older than me, and will age also. I do not want him to strain his health taking care of me. I also want my children to fully live their lives and not have my daily care to deal with. Of course, I want my family around me and they will be more than happy to help me if I needed them, but for daily care, I will hire a nurse to get me ready each day.

I feel quite sure that Jimmy will live longer than me, but if not, I would love to get a small place near my children (their backyard would be fine) and bring in a nurse for my daily care. Of course, a giant dose of grandkids would make all well in my world.

  • Finances

I thought of this as Jimmy was seeking his new pastorate. We were in a different place in our lives than we were in our first church. I was now disabled. We have never cared about money, but the thought terrified me that if something happened to Jimmy I would not have the energy to work full-time for our family. I prayed very hard that God would lead us to a church that would think of our retirement. God answered that prayer! We have also had help to invest our money so that if Jimmy’s health were taken early that we would still be okay. That has brought tremendous peace of mine to me regarding my disability!

  • Work

I get told all the time that I better slow down before I wear out! There is some truth in that, I am sure, but I can work right now so I want to. I know there may come a day that I will not be able to be as active as I can be now. I don’t want to look back and think that I wish I would have done more things while I had the strength to do them. I want to look back and say, “Wow! What a ride!”

I try to live my today’s in preparation for my tomorrows. I want to stay busy and full of life now. I can have my slow years to watch tv and twiddle my thumbs. Not now. I have learned that one day can change your life instantly. If there is something that is important, I do not have the luxury to wait until I retire. I want to do whatever I can to help make it happen now. Not because I am impatient but because I do not know what tomorrow holds.

  • Loneliness

This is a very important category. I am a firm believer that we were created to be relational. Of course, that is to God first. We can find relationships in our spouses, our children, our places of worship, our friends, our neighbors, and our work. As you age, many times those circles get smaller. Spouses can pass away. Children can move off. Our health may keep us from church and community. As our circles get smaller, our loneliness and sadness gets larger. So, how can we combat loneliness?

Some people find that volunteering helps. We have a little old lady who hangs out in our local Wendy’s. She comes to your table, fills your drinks, brings you napkins, cleans up your stuff and just putters around the lobby taking care of people. It brings her the most joy! If your health cannot afford you to work a job, then maybe even a couple of days a week volunteering will help you to still be among people. Hospitals, libraries, churches, voting, and many other places would welcome volunteers!

Some people find joy in owning a pet. Another breathing “something” in your house is such a relief at times. Here is some great advice for those considering a pet to combat loneliness. Giving love and care to an animal can bring much gratification.

Find something that you can do to help replace what you can no longer do. I have no plans to sit alone doing nothing when I have to slow down. My physical body may stop me from going, but it should never stop us from giving.

I know that being paralyzed will make my aging process look different from what I used to think about. I know that my bones are already getting thin. I know that muscles have already atrophied away. I know that pressure sores are more than likely in my future. I know that respiratory issues are scarier because of my weak muscles. I know that my shoulders, elbows and wrists are overused. I know that constant recurring UTI’s are not good. I know all of these things, and I do not know the future. I know that I cannot plan everything.

I do know, however, that thinking through these things and working towards my goals now, helps me keep my focus on what I can do to help in future days.

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

Are You A Mom of Today?

Today-is-the-day-for-being-awesome-pillow

I am around people alot. I love people. I am an observer of people. They intrigue me, challenge me, infuriate me, and keep me accountable!

I am around those with disabilities because I am disability advocate and peer mentor. I am the director of the Spinal Cord Group here in Columbia. I love to volunteer with Joni and Friends ministry. If there is a disability out there, I have probably met it!

I am around women a lot. I lead our women’s ministry at church. I am a pastor’s wife. I speak at ladies functions. I am very active on social media and I get a lot of private messages and emails asking me questions and seeking advice.

I am around mom’s. I am a mom to 6 beautiful children! I am not an expert, but I do have a little experience. :)

I am around people. Just like me. Forget the physical disability. Mine is obvious. I am convinced we all have something in our lives that knocks us around. Maybe it is marriage issues. Maybe it is finances. Maybe infertility or a miscarriage. Maybe you are over your head in toddlerhood. Maybe your kids are grown and not living like you projected in your mind they would live. I don’t know, but I know we all have those areas.

We go through things in our lives that mess up our “mom moments”. It throws us off and we react in the moments. Our kids are there in those moments. They witness our every action – good and bad. If you live in depression, you have taken them with you into that moment. If you live with paralysis, you have taken them with you into that moment. If you are angry or discouraged, you have taken them there with you. Kids soak it all up!

I am writing this from my bed today. It is NOT one of my better days. Honestly, if I had my way, every time my kids opened my door to come talk to me, or to jump on the bed on my already hurting body, my mood says to “go out and play!” But….my kids aren’t having a rough day…unless I create one for them because of me. So, I have to ask myself if I am a good mom to drag my kids into my rough day? Or….maybe just maybe…if I concentrated on trying to keep their day good, it may actually help mine? I can assure you it does!!

I look at my kids and cannot believe how they have grown! I look to the past and think of the mom I was when they were little. For one, I was walking. I was more involved in the cleaning and cooking in my home than I am now. I had MUCH better health – I honestly hardly ever got sick! That is not the case now!

I look at my house and it seems there is always a project that needs done, fixed or started! I cannot keep up with them all. I look forward into the future and think of the days when they will not be in the house. The house will be clean. Finances won’t be as tight.

I have heard older women talk in disappointment about their kids and all they want to focus on is the childhood times. The stories are all of “when Johnny was a little boy, we used too…”Where is Johnny now? Did he outgrow needing his Mom? Are the only good days way back in the past? Are all of your spiritual times with your kids when they are 5 and 10? Kids never outgrow needing and desiring the love and admiration of their parents. I do not care how old you are. If you are a parent, be the parent. Take the lead and love those kids of yours – I do not care how old they are! Make a memory today. Take him out to lunch. Go to a car show with him. Don’t preach at him. Just enjoy him. That same little boy is in there and he needs cherished. 

I hear younger moms talk, and they cannot wait till their kids grow up! I hear them say things like, “I wish he would hurry and grow up so I can have some peace!” Or, middle age moms (I am afraid that is now me!) make statements like, “Only 1 more year and they will finally be off to college. Yeah!” What?!!

I have heard disabled moms say they can’t be a good mom now and they won’t ever be again until they get “healed”. Hogwash! I know moms with disabilities who are awesome moms and their kids don’t even know that there is even a problem because the mom’s have never let that be a problem. Hooray!

What are we telling our kids? I do not claim to be a child raising expert. Actually, I am clueless most of the time in this parenting thing, but I am a parent and I am someone’s child. So, when you put those two things together – I do have an opinion! Our moments tell our kids much.

My older kids do not need me telling them a bunch of stories of how I “used to be a better mom to them before my wheelchair.” They do not care about that! They need me to be a good mom to them today! They do not care about this wheelchair. They just need to know that I am just as committed to loving them today as I did in my yesterday’s. As a grown adult, I think my childhood stories are cute, but I desire parents in my today life – not the past one. Why will my kids be any different?

My teens need me just like my 5 year old needs me. Their needs look different, but they need me. I will encourage my kids when it is their time to leave my nest, but they will not feel an ounce of emotion that I want them to go! I love having them around, and I also love them learning to lead their own lives.

Being a mom is a constant array of emotions. In our heads, sometimes we do think how easy it was before we had 3 loads of laundry a day! In our heads we may imagine what it may actually be like to not have to buy new shoes all of the time for all of these feet that never quit growing! But, these are such little things in the whole life-long course of being a mom.

To me, the past was great but its over.

The future is unknown so don’t live there.

Today is today.

My kids need a mom that lives in the today’s with them. No matter how young or old they will ever be, they need a mom of today. 

To all you mom’s out there – enjoy today!!

Is It Okay To Be Sad?

Are You Feeling Sad-

We just celebrated Mother’s Day. What a wonderful day for me personally! I adore my family and am thankful that they took the time to make my day special. My Facebook news feed was overflowing with beautiful pictures, tributes and love for motherhood. However, it also had some sad stuff. There were Mom’s who were missing their children who have died. There were children who were missing Mom’s who had died. There were blogs from women who want children so desperately bad and sharing how Mother’s Day is a very hard day for them.

This past week, one of our children had a decision to make. We allowed this child to make this decision all on their own. They made it, were confident with their decision and acted upon it. The next day, however, this child was NOT happy. I knew something was wrong and I asked this child what was wrong. “Nothing,” was the cold reply. I asked them to my room and told them we weren’t leaving until they told me. This precious child then shared, in tears, how the decision that was made did not turn out as hoped.

The irony is that we had a fun evening planned with our kids. Everyone in the family was in a happy mood – excited over the family outing! All were happy – except this one child. I said, “Honey, that was the decision you made. Sometimes we have to live with our decisions.” To which my child replied, “Isn’t it okay to be sad?”

That is a good question isn’t it?

Recently, I heard knew of someone who was newly diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis. They were receiving immediate treatment and a diagnosis and were going to recover. I would be lying to you if I did not think, “Why couldn’t that have been me?” It evoked a long series of text messages between and dear friend and I as we worked our way through that. It had made us both stop and relive some things. Thank God for precious friends!

There are always things in our life, that if we think about them, will immediately stab our hearts with pain. The Bible talks in Ecclesiastes that there is a time to mourn, and a time to laugh. I gave a talk once to a group of ladies not long after I had been paralyzed. I have always handled my heartaches with laughter – “a merry heart doeth good” right? As usual, I was telling a few funny stories to make all of us more comfortable and then I got into my talk. When I finished, this lady (who had known me since I was a child) said (condescendingly), “You act like you have fun being paralyzed!!” I totally was taken off guard by that. My first instinct was to scream, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!” My second instinct was to say, “Would you have preferred I cried the entire talk?” My response though was, “Well, it is what it is and you make the best of it.” However, I left questioning myself. “Did I present honestly? Did I make it sound fun? Should I make my talks more sad?”

As my beautiful child looked at me, with tears streaming down their cheeks, asking me if it was okay to be sad, I prayed for wisdom. I immediately thought of this precious person recovering from Transverse Myelitis. Is it okay for me to be sad that I didn’t recover so well?

I gathered my hurting baby in my arms and said, “Yes, it is okay to be sad. But, we can’t let the sadness of yesterday ruin our happiness today.”

Life can be sad. Disabilities are sad. Broken homes are sad. Barren women are sad. Ruined relationships are sad. Bad health is sad. Death is sad. This broken world is sad. Is it okay to be sad? Yes, but we mustn’t let our sadness ruin our joy. 

Honestly, I am thrilled this young lady is recovering. I pray every day God will restore every single nerve in her body! God is just writing her story different from mine – that is all. I can go on in sadness, or I can rejoice in my blessings that God cares so much about each of our lives, that He personalizes our stories. No copies. A unique story written by the Master Author.

My child was sad. As his mom, I want my children to be happy. This child learned something though. He learned that his parents cared about his heart. He learned that life sometimes doesn’t go the way we like, and he learned that sadness is allowed but cannot control.

We must not wallow in our sadness. It can become a disease that strips us of gratitude, perspective and the simple beauty of looking around you and counting your own personal blessings. 

Are you feeling sad today?

  • Stop and thank God for 10 things in your life.
  • Focus on what you have that is happy.
  • Put the brakes on in your mind and turn those thoughts around.
  • Get your eyes on Jesus and all that He has done for you.

Praying your day is wrapped in the joy of the Lord!

To My Kids – On Mother’s Day

I have seen so many beautiful written pieces about what our mother’s have meant to us. I enjoy reading them! It is the time of year where all the sentiments about motherhood spring up like the flowers around us. For me, I will always be thankful for the love my own mother gave me throughout my childhood. I also know that my own children will be thinking of their own ways to show and tell me that they love me. But, today I want to write to my children about what mother’s day means to me.

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Dear Children,

I have a bunch of you – you know! Briley, you reminded me just last night that in a couple of months, you will all be 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, and 6. I can’t believe that is true! It was just yesterday when your daddy and I walked in the door of our home with our very first baby and I promptly set down and bawled my eyes out. I was too young to be a mom! This was too much responsibility! We should have thought this through longer! I was probably going to kill you or at least raise absolute heathens! I had no clue what I had gotten myself into and it all hit me – right then and there – as we walked in the door of our home on Oak Street. Your daddy compassionately shared that it was too late to have all those thoughts. He was right, so I was doomed to destroy your lives.

All these years later, I still feel like that many times. I look at your beautiful faces and I pray, “Oh God, please help me to do this right!!” Sometimes, I look at your ornery faces and pray, “Oh God, please help me not to kill them!” :) There is no way that I still feel “old enough” to be your mom. I am sure there are times when you are convinced I am not old enough. Embarrassing you really is fun at times!

Many times, I am a bluff job. I have to act like the mom and that I know exactly what I am doing until I figure out how to handle something right. Many times, I don’t bluff and I come off at you – all totally wrong!! I handle things unfairly, I am too quick to judge you, or I am careless about what is important to you and don’t pay enough attention.

My sweet young’uns, you have taught me WAY more about life than I have ever taught you. When I have blown it, you have taught me how easily you forgive. When I have a bad day, you have taught me what compassion looks like. When I have been sad, you taught me how to smile. When I have been happy, you taught me the joy of joining in the fun that is around you. You have been an example to me that has helped me more than I will ever be able to write.

As you have grown up, I always wanted you to be able to speak your mind. We have had to work on learning how to do that respectfully (all of us have had to learn that together). I wanted you to learn to stand up for what you truly believe in. I want you to never compromise to make others happy but to know who you are and know how to discuss hard things with others who may not agree. As you are getting older, that has come back to bite me some because you do not always agree with me and will tell me so. This bites! How dare you question me!!! Through this, we are learning. We are learning that we don’t have to always agree. We love and respect one another anyway because we are family. You are actually demonstrating the very thing I have tried to teach you! I am so thankful for the strong beautiful adults you are becoming. I have learned to listen to your perspective and you listen to mine. Together we make a much stronger unit with our unique perspectives. Together. I really, really like that word.

Some of my very favorite times are when we are having our “bedroom” talks where you all take turns to come in and talk to me about what is either bothering you, or what you are dwelling on or planning for. I love it when you all say, “Mom, can I talk to you?” It makes me feel like you trust me. You trust me with your feelings, your heart and your dreams. I want to earn your trust. I want to keep that trust. You teach me that it is good to trust and good to share our feelings in a safe place. I am so honored that I am one of your safe places.

I sit at our table and look at all of you sometimes and I let my imagination carry me away to 20 years in the future. You all are grown, married and probably have kids of your own. I will want to control your lives – I know I will!! But I won’t. I promise. The love and care that we all show for each other, will still be there. We will disagree. That’s okay. We will get upset. That’s okay. We will laugh and make memories. That’s okay. We won’t live in a drama zone. We will love and appreciate every single time we are together. By the way, the one fight I love to hear you all have is over who gets to take care of me when I am old. My heart swells so much it about bursts!

You all remind me every day that I am not sufficient for all of your needs. I know my weaknesses. I know my failures. I know that I fall very short of what a perfect mom should be. But that is good. It teaches you that I am not the answer to all of your problems. I am just your imperfect mom. However, we both are learning that God is there to guide us, lead us, show us, strengthen us, and comfort us when no one else can. If I can teach you to always turn to God, then I will have accomplished something great in your lives. 

You all are my best friends. I enjoy every day with you. You make me laugh. You brighten every day. You are my teachers in how to be a mom. I always pray that you keep teaching me what it means to be a mom.

Thank you, my precious ones, for making me a mom. Thank you for making every single day a “Happy Mother’s Day!”

I love you Briley, Caleb, Isaiah, Audrey, Macey and Elisha Reagan!

Love,

Your Momma

I Couldn’t Hear Them Sing!

The-Birds-are-Singing

You know my love with hearing birds sing early in the morning right? This morning I could NOT hear them!!! I woke up early with spasms…like always…before light…and laid there listening. It was silent. My heart jumped a beat. Why weren’t the birds singing? What time is it? I could see a glimmer of dawn just like always. Why were they missing? They know they are supposed to be awake with me. Don’t they know I look forward to that? Don’t they know they have a job to do? Don’t they know that I was in here waiting to praise God with them? Don’t they know that they sing me back to sleep? Where were they?! Why couldn’t I hear them sing?!

Then I remembered.

I love spring and always have the windows open. Yesterday it rained so hard. I got really cold getting in and out of the house. I had went to church and gotten even colder and came home a bit sooner than usual. I was still shivering when my hubby got home and I remembered. I asked him to shut the windows so I could see if that would help me get warm. 

Why couldn’t I hear the birds sing? Because I shut the windows!!

The problem was not that the birds were not singing. The problem was that I had shut out their song.

They were singing just like normal. I just couldn’t hear it because of my own actions.

I was challenged as I thought about that this morning. How many times is God speaking but we don’t hear? How many times does a sermon speak to others but never me? How come some love their church and others hate it? How come the world is a wicked horrible place to some who can’t wait to escape it, and to others it is beautiful opportunity to build God’s Kingdom? How come there are some who think they are the only ones who are truly serving God…all alone…in a world where compromise is at every corner and that everyone else is falling around them like flies, but then there are those who are so excited at the work that God is doing all over this world through all kinds of people?

I remember the story of Elijah. He was holed up in a cave, wanting to die, because he was “the only one” in the world who loved God and wanted to serve Him. You know what his problem was? He thought the birds weren’t singing. God told him to get out of that cave and get busy! He told him that there were hundreds of others out there who were faithful to the Lord just like him. God opened his windows.

May God help me to keep the windows of my heart always open so I can always hear the birds sing!