Broader Pictures

by Rhett Lively

Broader Pictures

What time I spent in college, I studied music and psychology.  At the time I dreamed of opening a clinic where a couple of friends of mine and I would work on the whole person’s needs – one the body, one the spirit, and I’d take the mind.  I felt then, and I still feel now, that far too often we don’t treat the whole problem when we fall ill or have a breaking moment (trauma).  We tend to focus on what fixes the immediate problem and forget that there are other causes and effects of that issue.

For instance, while heart disease often comes from lifestyle and food choices, there are other factors that lead to those choices.  Depression left unchecked makes us eat horrible foods while binging our favorite TV show on the couch.  Injuries keep us from exercising the way we should or have in the past.  Even a crisis of faith can increase or stress and lead to poor decisions in our meals and.  Frequently, a pill is thrown at the person suffering from the disease instead of helping them find the true cause and teaching them better ways of living.

With our kids we tend to do the same thing.  We often see a problem, work to fix that problem, and then go on – never looking deeper into why they are acting out or having problems with sleep.

I admit that many times the cause of that lack of depth in how we treat these issues comes from fatigue.  After caring for more than 20 children in foster care, it’s frustrating see the same problems in a new child.  But in the beginning of our journey my lack of depth in addressing these issues came from a lack of experience and resources.

And that’s why I’m SO glad my bride found these USBORNE books.  [Note: I’m not trying to sell you anything. I’m just going to talk about one thing we are doing to help the kids in our home.]

I’ve integrated using these books with our daily lessons here at home as we home-school our kids. It’s one of the more in-depth ways we are working on the trauma that not only our foster-children have, but our adoptive children have as well.  Each day is a themed day:

  • Monday – Be Happy Mondays
  • Tuesday – Be Brave Tuesdays
  • Wednesday – No Worries Wednesday
  • Thursday – Hopeful Thursdays
  • Friday – Positively Friday

And yes, I do want them to recognize and process the negatives.  We all need the reality check of, “Oh, I do that?  That’s not cool in outside circles?”  Otherwise, we’d remain oblivious to those issues and never work to improve ourselves.  We’d never realize that something we are doing could hurt someone else.

On those days, we use activities in these books to help the kids process and cope with emotions they are struggling with.  The books help me find ideas to engage our village. I’ll often need the village to chime in and tell us things they see in our kids, both positive and negative. This knowledge allows our kids to focus on those positives while working to avoid the negatives. 

Along with these books, I’ve made up this board for us to state how we are feeling each morning.  This helps me gauge what kind of day we will have by how the kids state they are feeling. It also helps them see and claim their feelings. 

Is this the key to helping our kids?  No, we still have counseling, speech, OT, PT, and behavioral health appointments both inside and outside our home. We still work on spiritual health through church and at home-lessons. However, by taking time each day to help our kids learn what those feelings, those emotions, those worries, and fears are and how to handle them, we give them just one more tool as they grow towards success.

Broader Pictures

And in the end, that’s the goal.  We are here, we are opening our homes to children so that we can help them achieve greatness, find stability, and overcome the temporary storms surrounding them and their families.

Rhett Lively is a foster dad whose primary job is to care for the foster children in his home, along with his wife, Bailey. The things he has learned along the way are shared on his blog, www.lighthouseforwanderingsouls.com – to encourage those who are considering opening up their homes to children in need and ministering to families in crisis. He hopes his stories inspire people who’ve never considered the journey. Foster care is a journey – one that has taken him to places he never imagined spiritually, physically, and emotionally over the last four years. Join him. Come walk the path he is still exploring. It will change you forever.