Mentorship Archives - Sarah Mae
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Category Archives: Mentorship

Have a Child That’s a Handful? Read This

It’s hard to imagine now, but my sweet Caroline almost drove me to the mental institution.

God bless her, I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it. I mean, I wrote a book called, Desperate, mainly because of that precious, out-of-the-box girl. I remember calling up my mentor Sally one day and saying, “What am I going to do with her? She won’t listen and she gets out of bed 10,000 times a night?!” Sally responded, “I really think if she could obey you she would.” From there she taught me some ways to love Caroline and nurture her and guide her sweet soul as she was, a “different” child who wasn’t going to conform.

What a delight she is to me!

Sally knows a thing or two about raising a “different” child, so her advice and encouragement is gold to me. Which is why when she sent me her new book, written with her “OCD, ADD, OH-MY-GOODNESS” son Nathan, I knew I was going to devour it. Which I did.

This week Sally and her son Nathan released that wonderful book, and it’s called, Different: The Story of an Out-Side-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him (get a copy here). Sally has protected her family by keeping certain stories hidden from the public sphere, until now. In Different, we are offered a vulnerable look behind the curtain into the story of a son with mental illness and a mother who fought to love well even when it felt impossible. The stories and truths in Different have not been shared before, and they will absolutely bring hope and freedom to those who struggle with their “different” children. If you ever look at your beautiful, different child and think, I can’t do this; it’s just too hard, then this book is a must-read.

I asked Sally’s son Nathan if he would share some advice for us moms so we could get into the heads of our kids, so to speak. Yes, we are all different and our kids aren’t like another person’s kids, but his perspective and insight is so helpful as I navigate raising my own children with empathy and wisdom. Below is the interview. Enjoy!

Nathan, what is your biggest piece of advice for moms who have out-of-the-box or different kids?

For me it was so valuable to have someone who accepted me completely. I know that not everyone will understand how and why I do things sometimes, even my mom. But to have a space where I was allowed to be unapologetically me, without pretense, or pressure to preform, allowed me to love the person God had created me to be. My mom didn’t always get me, but she lived with the knowing that God had desired me the way he had for a purpose— so she decided to love, encourage, train, and accept me the way I was made without trying to force me into a box of societal or social expectations. That didn’t mean she didn’t train me, stretch, or push me to be my best, but it meant when she did, she did it accepting the direction God has created me to move towards.

Sometimes as moms it feels like, “Am I even getting through to my child?!” Can you tell us what worked best in getting through to you?

Sometimes I think people have a conception that they need to be louder or more firm to get someone to listen. But often times what helped me connect, learn, and understand, is when someone took the time to see me, hear me, and approach me with grace. I can remember being so frustrated at the world around me as a kid which could make me lash out and talk-back. But in the midst of those times when my mom would take me off alone on a walk, or scratch my back and ask me what was on my mind, often I would feel the frustration dissipate more and more as I felt little by little more understood.

What was the hardest part about being different?

Well, let me say this: EVERY kid is “different” in their own way. Some may be quiet, some may be loud, but whatever your “differences” are I think very often they can make us, and made me, feel very alone and separated. And the deepest desire of every humans is to feel loved and known. So when we have these unique traits in our lives that make us feel alienated we can start to resent the way God has made us. But as I grew up in a home that facilitated an environment of unconditional love, I began to find value in the way I was made, and learned to believe that my differences weren’t disorders to destroy, but strengths to hone.

How should moms discipline a “different” kid?

I can imagine it would be so hard to know how to handle a “different” kid like me. I can’t even imagine how much of a handful I was! But I think when we look at the example of how Jesus interacted with the ones he loved around him, we find a man who was eternally forgiving and graceful, while continuously loving enough to not let people stay in the destructive patterns they were in. So I think it’s a delicate balance that parents have to walk in figuring out how to hold the tension between giving grace and giving guidance. But when both are present and from a place of love, I believe God can work in even the hardest and most “different” of kids.

What would you want other different kids to know?

I think I would want them to know they’re not alone. That while our differences can make us feel alone sometimes., EVERYONE is different in their own way. And these “different” things about we have are also the things that make us uniquely us. That God will tell an amazing story no one else could, not in spite of our differences but because of them.

Listen to Sally and Nathan talk about how to raise a “different” child

Can’t see the video? Click here.
 

 

 

Get your copy of Different on Amazon HERE, Barnes & Noble HERE, or at your local bookstore.

Love, SM

There are affiliate links in this post. Read my disclosure policy here.

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Women, Let’s Get To It (On Mentoring in the Church)

It’s always so interesting to see how God works.

As I was winding down in my writing “career” (no more book contracts as of now), saying goodbye to a national conference I had run and then been a part of for six years, and all the doing, doing, doing, I finally began to feel…rest.

It took awhile to settle into this new rested-ness, but the rhythms of it have been so wonderful, so freeing, that I often think, “Am I just going to do nothing forever? I like doing nothing. I want nothing but to eat food at 9 at night and watch Netflix with my husband. Maybe I’m washed up. Maybe I’m okay with that.”

Of course it was silly to think I was doing nothing because I homeschool three kiddos and am in the thick of mothering (hi 7, 9, and 11). I mean, that’s enough.

It’s good.

And it’s enough.

Exhale.

However in this winding down, settling in, believing it’s good and enough (not good enough but good AND enough), the Lord has given me the gift of mentoring. I don’t mean “the gift” as in I’m awesome at it, but the gift of blessing me, lifting my spirit, bringing joy to my soul through mentoring young women who are local to me.

One young woman came to me because she read my post on abortion and it led her to FB message me. We used to attend a church together and I was, for a very short time, a youth ministry helper one summer. She remembered me and decided to reach out. We met, she wanted help, and I offered to walk with her through a study. We’ve been meeting in my home for about 5 months now.

Another young woman came to me through a book study I was in over the summer. She wanted more of God, more Scripture, more wisdom and insight and she wanted someone to guide her in it all. Well, we clicked and God worked and what do you know, we’ve been meeting and doing a serious study through Ephesians.

I’m telling you this because as I’ve been meeting with these two dear young women, not only has it been a joy to me, but I am seeing the importance (had I forgotten?) of meeting one-on-one with younger women.

I read recently where Jen Wilkin said, “If a local church lacks visible spiritual mothers, its daughters will (understandably) look elsewhere to find them.” I couldn’t agree more. We need to be willing and visible and humble enough to walk with young women in our local churches as they are growing and seeking spiritual guidance. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the spiritual mentors I had in my early 20’s and on through my life.

And here’s the thing, we don’t need to have “it” all together or be awesome at anything, we just need to be open. Willing. Available. Not too busy.

I’m not suggesting that if your hands are full of little ones you go out looking for someone to mentor; you have mentees at your feet. I am saying that if your kiddos are a bit older, you’re sleeping through the night (praise Jesus), and you have the breathing space (sometimes we need to make that space), then just be open to who God might bring to you. I didn’t seek these women out, but God brought them to me and tendered my heart to them. And with that I say, “Okay God. You do this because I don’t have it in me, but you can do this through me. Have at it.”

So I’d like to encourage you: be visible. Get to know the younger women in your church. See what God does and be open to His leading. The younger women could really use us right now, and as Jen says, if we don’t nurture them spiritually, they will look elsewhere.

Keep on, and let’s get to it!

“Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine…Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”

Titus 2:3-5, The Message

Love, Sarah Mae

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With my Mother-in-Law, who is wise and kind and I’m grateful for her mentorship.

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Want to grow in faithfulness? Find the faithful people

“We need heroes. I mean genuine heroes, authentic men and women who are admired for their achievements, noble qualities, and courage. Such people aren’t afraid to be different. They risk. They stand a cut above. Yet they are real human beings with flaws and failures like anyone else. But they inspire us to do better. -Chuck Swindoll

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With some dear, faithful friends

I love being around people who inspire me to be better.

My friend Robyn is always inspiring me to read the Bible and stay close to grace. My friend Soleil inspires me to trust the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit that is alive within me; she always reminds me to go to Him when I’ve got questions or pain or confusion. My friend Amy inspires me to make homemade meals and go slow and steady and believe the truth of God’s gentleness. My mother-in-law inspires me to trust God with anything that comes our way, knowing He is faithful to complete the good work He has stared in us. My friend Robin inspires me to read good literature and to teach my children the gift of story and drama and beauty. I have more friends I could list here, but the point is, through the Lord’s kindness (I prayed and prayed for these kinds of friends) He has surrounded me with a  group of dear, close local friends that help me to be a better person. And I want to be better; I don’t want to stay the same year after year; I want to grow.

I know that if I want to be faithful and have integrity and keep on in the Word and following God by faith, I need to surround myself with faithful people who are after the same goal. That doesn’t mean I don’t have other friendships, it just means that my close friends, my inner-circle group who know me inside and out and who love the Lord and humbly follow Him, they are the ones who I “yoke” with.

The Lord has brought different people over the years who have profoundly impacted my life. Cathy Bowman from the Navigators, Kimberely Knockel and her work in teaching Core Lies, and Ann Kradel Gale as the woman who gently guided me through abortion counseling. You probably don’t know any of these women, but they are the heroes in my life and in countless others lives. They are the unsung heroes; the hidden ones who change souls without fanfare. I am deeply indebted to each of them.

And then there is Sally Clarkson, the gift of grace God brought to my life as a dear friend and mentor.

Sally has changed my life so profoundly that I often wonder what I’d be like if it weren’t for her unwavering investment in my life.

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Sally not only inspires me in faithfulness and integrity, she has taught me to be a better woman. She keeps me accountable to my word; she holds me to a high standard because she cares about me. And I’m grateful. It’s easy to just float through life, but she teaches me to dream and have ideals and to be excellent in what God calls me to. She encourages me to hold fast to truth and beauty and good things and not go the way of culture because it’s popular. She has called out my selfishness in the past (always with gentleness and grace), and at first I didn’t like it, because who likes to be disciplined, but now I look back and I thank God that she helped me, that she trained me in righteousness. I thank God that she was willing to have uncomfortable conversations in order that I might grow strong in character and faithfulness. She is a rare one for sure, a cut above the rest, a hero. A flawed hero to be sure, because she’s just so human like the rest of us, but a flawed, faithful, inspiring hero.

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Sally’s home, nestled in beautiful, snowy Colorado where I cozy up and laugh and learn and drink strong tea and coffee

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Today, Sally’s new book, The Lifegiving Home, launches. It is a beautiful, encouraging, practical book on how to bring life and celebration and tradition and foundations into your home. It is her mentoring you from afar.

As I read through the book, highlighting and underlining and making notes, I realized that these are the things she’s been teaching me for years. This is her life opened up for you, so you can be inspired to raise life above mere existence. It’s a hard-fought life for sure, but it’s a worthy one.

If you want to be inspired in your own life and home, if you want a peek into the how-to’s of a woman who gave her life to discipling and creating and teaching, I cannot recommend The Lifegivng Home enough.

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Buy it HERE, or wherever books are sold. 

“Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street…” Philippians 3:17-19, The MSG Version

With love, Sarah Mae

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My Best Bit of Parenting Advice

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“Holiness is not about getting right and wrong perfected, but it’s about living in the Light, living without anything hidden.” Bill Thrall

I had a friend text me recently and ask if I would be her parenting mentor.

I laughed to myself and texted back, “Sure, but  it might be the blind leading the blind!”

Ever since her text, I’ve been thinking about parenting and what I could offer her, what I’ve learned, and what has been helpful for me as I do my best with my three babes. I’m not great at teaching and training my children, I get impatient and irritated too easily. I don’t spend enough time with them at bedtime, and I’m not as fun as I’d like to be with them. But there is one thing that God has impressed upon me that I try to impress upon them, and it is this:

Be in the Light.

Don’t hide; never hide.

Your ugly is never so ugly that you can’t be loved or forgiven. Also? I’ve got a lot of ugly of my own. You aren’t alone.

You’ve also got a whole lot of beautiful, because you were created in the image of God.

You are loved no matter what. Nothing you could do could change my love for you. On your best day or your worst day, I love you the same.

Nothing you could say or do could make me love you more or less.

You can always talk to me, about anything; approach me with confidence, because I’m on your team.

You are pleasing to me because you are my child.

You will mess up, and you’ll do it a lot, but that’s okay. I mess up a lot, too. We’re in this together; it’s why we need Jesus.

We need Jesus.

You and me both, kid. Because we will never get “it” right in this life. There will be loose ends and trouble and sin swirling all around us, but if we hold onto Jesus, we’ll make it.

And grace.

A million times you will mess up, and a million times I will forgive you. And please forgive me, too, for my million mess-ups.

If we carry on in grace, and stay in the light, we can do this thing called life. And we can do it fairly well.

So there it is, my big parenting advice. It’s really all I’ve got. But I think it’s everything, because it’s how the Father loves us.

“…to all who did receive him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  John 1:12

Love, SM

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How to Lead a Women’s Small Group Bible Study in Your Home

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I know you’re busy.

Me too.

It’s been years since I facilitated a woman’s small group in my home. When I became pregnant with Caroline, I was tired and sick and didn’t want to have a small group in my home anymore (and I didn’t even want to go to one). I figured I could just pick it back up when I regained sanity and a got Care into a good sleep routine. Alas, things didn’t ever get back to the way they were. I never got over being tired, bedtimes became later at night, and I had no margin for one more thing. I had started to write, and that was my outlet; I felt like I needed it, so it was the only thing I made time for outside of my family. The problem was, I didn’t have any friends, and I thought I was fine. But you know, women need each other, and I had grown used to thinking I didn’t need anyone. I had convinced myself I was a loner.

This past winter I took a baby step and joined a woman’s bible study group at church. It was good, but it was in the church sanctuary and therefore lacked the intimate, inviting setting that {I think} only a home can provide. I love curling up on a chair or a couch with a some hot coffee in my hand and settling in for a good discussion. I miss having a women’s small group in my home.

I think it’s time to begin again.

If you’re thinking about starting a small group in your home, but aren’t sure how or where to begin, here’s a peek at what I’ve done (and plan to do)…

How to Start & Facilitate a Women’s Small Group in Your Home

Choosing to “Facilitate”

Notice that I used the word “facilitate” instead of lead. I say that because leading a study can feel intimidating, but facilitating one is just making a space where a study can happen; it’s being willing to get the ball rolling. As a facilitator my goal is to bring women together with a plan and to help (not dominate) the flow of the study and the evening. I’m making room for discussion to flourish by offering a warm, safe, and comfortable environment for women bring dark to light.

Figure Out What Kind of Study You Want to Facilitate

Do you want to read a book of the Bible, study a book, follow a Bible study guide, or have a topical study (one topic over a period of weeks, or a different topic each week)? It’s important to think through your limitations and count the cost before jumping in; pick something you know you can do with the time you have (this is so important so you can complete the study!).

Studies:

Reading a Book of the Bible: Pick a book and read through it together. Know what chapters you’ll be covering so everyone can read up, and then discuss it. This method is great for reaching out to your neighbors, those interested in learning more about the Bible, or new believers.

Use a Specific Method for Studying the Bible: One of my favorite ways to study the Bible in a group is by using the Inductive Bible study method. It is time consuming, but the insights you gain from the deeper study can be life-altering.

Use a Bible Study Guide: You can find Bible study guides anywhere. Beth Moore has a ton, and there is study for just about anything you could want to delve into. I usually do not like Bible study guides because the questions are obvious and the study can get boring real quick. However, there are some good ones out there (such as Beth Moore studies). Just make sure you leaf through it to make sure it has depth.

Discuss a Topic: You can do this by picking different topics for each week where you come prepared with your own thoughts, research, and scripture on the topic, or you can pick one topic to study the whole time, such as “marriage.” You can do your own research, or find a study guide to help you.

Read a Book: Sometimes it’s nice to just do a book club with other women. Get a hold of one of your favorites or one you’ve never read, and dig in together! If you’re doing a mom’s group, well, you know I recommend Desperate. 😉

Make a List of Women You’d Like to Invite

Think about the women around you that you think you would like to meet with over the course of several weeks. Do you just want some laid back girl-time with your dear friends, where you can talk super openly and have discussions late into the night? Or maybe you’d like to invite some women from your neighborhood or work or children’s school, and get to know them. Who is in your Oikos (those who God has placed around you)?

This time around for me, I’m going to invite some women from my neighborhood to study a book of the Bible together. I’m looking forward to deepening relationships that have begun, and watching to see how God’s Spirit moves during the several weeks we spend with one another.

Prepare for the Group

Depending on what kind of study you choose will dictate how much you need to prepare. You also need to figure out if your study will meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly (this depends again on what kind of study you’re doing and what your limitations are). As a homeschooling mom of three fairly little ones, I’m going to be doing the least amount of prep possible. I will read the chapter of the book we’re studying, write out a few questions or look some up, and that’s it. Do what you can with what you have.

Prepare the Environment

This is the fun part! Even if you don’t like to clean (hello, me), and you aren’t any good at decorating (hello, me again), you can still create a warm and intimate atmosphere where women feel comfortable and loved. It’s the little things, truly! Have a snack, some tea and/or coffee made, and have the living room picked up and comfy pillows around, and a candle or two lit. Let women know they can make themselves at home; let them know they can really settle in (naturally, this will take time).

Set Some Ground Rules

It’s a really good idea to have some ground rules ready to share. Here are the ones I use:

  • This is a safe, grace-filled place. Nothing said here gets shared with anyone else.
  • If you are an extrovert and have lot’s to say (that’s good, God made you that way!), keep in mind the quieter women of the group and give them time and space to share (rule of thumb for me as a facilitator is to count to 30 before answering – you could always pull your talkers aside privately and ask them to try that little trick as well)
  • If you disagree, do it kindly – we’re all on a journey figuring things out, and we’re all in different places with different histories and wounds, so be easy with each other (Life is hard, be kind)
  • Please try and be on time, and if you can’t make it, just call and let me know

What would you add?

Relax and Enjoy Learning/Discussing with Friends

Women like to talk, and if they feel safe, they’ll talk even more. Relax and let the night unfold! Have fun, think deeply (if you’re not sleep deprived with little ones), and enjoy the work that God is doing!

Bible Study Resources:

Studying Scripture Inductively 

How to Study a Book of the Bible

Printable for Doing a Topical Study

8 Questions to Ask Before You Choose a Bible Study Guide

Understanding Follow-Up of the New Believer

Desperate Small Group Guide for Moms

Keep on! -SM

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