Author Archives: Dawn Baggett

About Dawn Baggett

Welcome! I'm Dawn and I LOVE helping people! I blog at yesterdaysorphan.org which is targeted specifically to parents and caretakers of children and youth who have traumatic backgrounds as orphans or with parental loss of some kind (even if temporary) and who may be struggling with what I call orphan mentality. I'm an adoptive parent and seek to help others who are parenting outside the box from lessons learned with my own experiences as well as my research and learning from others' experiences. If you are one of these parents, you know it! And you are welcome here as well as in our closed support group specifically for the Families of Yesterday's Orphan: on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/YOparents/ My other passions include orphans & orphan ministry; holistic Christian living and Biblical teaching; and nature-based health and wellness. I believe that my faith in God should permeate every area of life. Want to connect? See my virtual business card!

Discipline Without Exasperation

Are you often exasperated when it comes to disciplining your child?

Or have you noticed your child seems exasperated?

Either way, discipline should have a purpose. And not to exasperate anyone! In fact, exasperation hinders positive outcomes.

Let’s back up a bit and see what it means to be exasperated.

Definition: Exasperate:
“to make someone very annoyed, usually when they can do nothing to solve a problem” [from Cambridge Dictionary, dictionary.cambridge.org]

There’s been a lot of debate on how to discipline and how not to, as well as a lot of comment on what the Bible teaches. I know there are tons of strategies and such. And I’m not going to debate or strategize here.

Underneath it all, the purpose of discipline should be to arrive at a positive outcome. And whatever strategy or method used, keep in mind that positive outcomes are hindered by exasperation on either part.

The purpose of discipline should be to arrive at a positive outcome.

In Ephesians we are taught:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Personally, I get three points from the verses above:

(1) Obeying their parents is good for kids; when (2) parents’ instructions align with God’s Word; and (3) parents avoid causing them exasperation.

So what about the exasperation of the parents?! What I know is that when I’m exasperated, it’s harder to avoid exasperating my kids in the moment.

I’ve learned a few tips that help me avoid becoming exasperated and passing that on to my kids.

Tip #1

Assess for Repetition.

Take some time to think through what’s typically going on when you feel exasperated (or both you and your kids are exasperated). Notice any recurring themes or patterns?

Tip #2

Assess for Limitations.

One sure-fire way to exasperate your children is to make demands and expectations that they do something they are incapable of. Becoming aware of their limitations helps parents and other adults have more realistic expectations, too!

It’s easy to assume children and youth are capable of adult reasoning and understanding, as well as other skills that they may have not yet developed, especially if lagging skills and abilities aren’t obvious.

I like using the form from Dr. Ross Greene – the ALSUP, or Assessment of Lagging Skills & Unsolved Problems. Even if you don’t totally go by his method this is a great resource! (Check out Dr. Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving method, the ALSUP form as well as a usage guide at https://www.livesinthebalance.org/

Tip #3

Assess for a positive purpose.

Taking time to assess my purpose can help me avoid become reactionary, impatient, selfish, etc. When I am clear on my disciplinary purpose and that it is in keeping with a positive outcome for my child, then I am less likely to exasperate them or become exasperated, myself.

I hope these tips are valuable to you and help you avoid exasperation in your family. If you have other tips that have been useful to you, please share in the comments.

Thanks for visiting with me here at Yesterday’s Orphan.

_________________________________

Hey there,

I’m Dawn and I enjoy helping parents and advocating for orphans!

I founded Yesterday’s Orphan, an outreach to support parents and caregivers, especially moms, of adopted and foster children and also step-children.

If you liked this post and it is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.

Please comment and let me know if you found value in this post and feel free to share.

Dealing with Disappointments

3 Effective Strategies for Dealing with Disappointment

Sometimes reality falls short of your expectations. This time of year (first of December) we are in the middle of holiday gatherings, activities . . . and expectations. It seems a lot of pressure to meet the expectations coupled with expectations of our own can often end up in disappointment with ourselves and with others.

Setbacks are a part of life, but how you respond to them can soften the blow. Try these 3 strategies for dealing with disappointment.

First:  Avoid Exaggerating

We often make disappointments seem bigger than they are. Remove unnecessary stress from your life by keeping things in perspective.

Use these strategies to avoid seeing your disappointments as bigger than they really are:

1. Embrace change. When you have your heart set on a particular outcome, you may forget that the effects are likely to be short-lived. What seems like a major loss today could be insignificant in 6 months.

2. Stay calm. Discomfort may be easier to bear when you try to stay composed. Take a deep breath or go for a walk outside. Give yourself time to process what’s happening instead of reacting automatically.

3. Depersonalize the situation. You can wind up feeling ashamed when you interpret a disappointment as being a reflection on yourself. Resist the urge to take it personally. (Difficult, yes!)

4. Be specific. Overgeneralizing is another hazard. Tell yourself that this is a single temporary event rather than a permanent downward spiral. Projecting into the future that if my kid steals something today they’ll end up in prison a few years down the road helps no one.
We are told in Matthew, chapter 6, verse 34:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Second:  Moving On

Fear of disappointment can sometimes become so intense that it holds you back from taking risks. You’ll have a more fulfilling life if you can persevere even when things turn out differently than you hoped.

These actions will help you move on from disappointment:

1. Start small. Bouncing back from small reversals will teach you skills you can apply to tougher challenges. Be grateful for opportunities to practice.

2. Learn from experience. There are other lessons too. Disappointments can teach you more about yourself and what you really want out of life. You can use them to clarify your goals.

3. Find motivation. Living through an experience you don’t want to repeat gives you an incentive to change. This could be what you need to point you in a more positive direction.

4. Take control. While you want to avoid dwelling excessively on the past, there are helpful questions you can ask yourself. Determine what you could have done differently, so you’ll be prepared for similar situations.

5. Build your self-confidence. More than thinking positive, take every thought captive and hold fast to the truth. Understand your worth in God’s eyes and that he is willing and able to work in and through you even with your shortcomings.

Take care of yourself as a good steward of the treasured gift that you are. And keep adding to your knowledge and skills as a life-long learner.

6. Cultivate support. Having family and friends that you can count on for encouragement and reassurance helps too. Spend time with your loved ones and be open to honest feedback. When those around you aren’t willing or capable of providing emotional support, find it elsewhere.

7. Seek counseling. If a past traumatic event is holding you back, help is available. Talking with a therapist could give you new insights and coping skills. Caution: Be choosy. Therapists are not all the same and do not have all the answers. But they can often offer helpful “tools” and strategies to help you gain perspective. If a certain counselor is not a fit, keep looking.

Third:  Adjust Your Expectations

Are you seething with resentment because others let you down? You may be sabotaging yourself by holding onto unrealistic expectations that are too high or too low. They may have lagging skills and abilities, or be overwhelmed, themselves. In any event, a reality check can help moving forward.

Consider these ideas:

1. Check your defenses. Fear could be the reason why you expect too much from others. Name your fears and bring them into the light.

2. Know your worth. On the other hand, you may be dissatisfied because you’re investing too much in relationships with little reciprocity. A healthy amount of give and take is a reasonable expectation. You may want to back off a little and invest some of your resources elsewhere.

3. Advocate for yourself. Maybe your relationships are basically sound, but it would help to work on your communications. Assuming that others can read your mind sets you up for disappointment. Practice asking for what you need tactfully and directly. Back to basics!

Disappointments can make you stronger if you deal with them constructively.

 

Hey there,

I’m Dawn and I enjoy helping parents and advocating for orphans!

I founded Yesterday’s Orphan, an outreach to support parents and caregivers, especially moms, of adopted and foster children and also step-children.

If you liked this post and it is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.

Please comment and let me know if you found value in this post and feel free to share.

Changing Seasons

We recently took a sudden dive into colder weather in my neck of the woods, after summer heat that just went on and on and on. With holidays on the horizon and thinking about huge changes in my own life and upcoming changes, I’ve been thinking a lot about the inevitable changes as we move through various seasons of life. 

There are things we can do to prepare and ready ourselves for these changes.  But unlike moving from fall to winter to spring to summer, we only experience each season of life once, and have to view and learn about the progression at arm’s length rather than personal experience.  We can look at others who’ve gone before and take a long range view, understanding that our current season won’t last, that there’s another, different season on the horizon.

If we choose to be fully present in the season we are in, while planning ahead and holding onto lessons from previous seasons, it will help us not only handle the changes, but to take hold of the opportunities that each season of life brings.

from Facebook LIVE

Video

Are you in a challenging season? Perhaps you would benefit from the free parent to parent resource from Yesterday’s Orphan, Regaining Emotional Control, to help you navigate this challenging season. [See this Resource in Sidebar]

With homeschooling behind me sooner than expected, I found myself in a different season. I was suddenly not only wanting additional income but also wanting to meet more people and make more of a difference in the world with orphan ministry in particular. I also had a bit more free time, but still needed to be able to be home with some of my children more than an out of home job would allow. Plus I enjoyed the flexibility that I’ve been accustomed to. If you’d like to know more about what it is that I do that let’s me keep my time flexibility I’m happy to share more with you.

_________________________________________

Hey there,

I’m Dawn and I enjoy helping parents and advocating for orphans!

I founded Yesterday’s Orphan, an outreach to support parents and caregivers, especially moms, of adopted and foster children and also step-children.

If you liked this post and it is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.

Please comment and let me know if you found value in this post and feel free to share.

Mom’s Money Tip: Importance of a Budget

Make. A. Budget.

Whether you are a one income or two income family, making a budget can help you get a handle on your financial situation. A couple of verses quickly highlight the importance of managing our finances well.

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

Proverbs 3:9

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

Luke 14: 28-30

Once the big bills and expenses are taken care of and you have the rest to live on for the remainder of the month (or pay whatever pay period), it’s tempting to just dump it altogether without really paying attention to it. But if you are the household manager/grocery shopper/extracurricular fees payer/etc. . . . then you may benefit from a next level budget to take these not so surprising elements into account.

Modeling good money habits and discipline to our kids is important. We have not always done the best job in this area. So I understand if you struggle in the area of budgeting as well.

We went for years without a real budget. You may think you don’t have enough income to make a budget. But if you are living paycheck to paycheck, getting a handle on your money is a key to moving past that stress and begin to get a clear picture of where you are and where you are headed financially.

If you’re budgeting consists of only two categories: (1) Bills, (2) Everything else, then you may need to get a little more detailed.

There are lots of how to resources on creating a budget, but I suggest keeping it simple (and do-able).

Husband not on board? That’s okay! You don’t have to wait around. Just take whatever money you earn or are allocated and break it down into the categories of what you need to spend it on, typically for the month. (Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman are two – – there are others – – who give pretty detailed advice and tips for setting a budget up). There are apps and video tutorials on YouTube. The thing is, a simple system can evolve easily as you tweek your categories, and figure out what works best for you.

Your budget should leave room for flexibility.

Your budget can help take some of the financial pressure off because you’ve become aware, pre-planned the big and medium spending decisions, and left flex room for the small ones.

Your budget can help you take action toward goals such as setting aside an emergency fund and saving toward larger expenditures.

The time you spend creating and maintaining your budget is time well-spent.

Once you get a more accurate awareness of what’s coming in versus what the spending is, and made any cuts to expenditures you decided on, you might make a decision to enlarge your household income. If that’s the case, after creating a budget you’ll have a clearer understanding of just how big a gap there is to fill between your current income and your desired income and more able to make a decision that will be a good fit.

Setting up a budget helped me see where I could cut back on my spending. But more importantly, it helped me see that I really needed more income to match the level of spending and giving that I wanted to be able to do. Currently, I’m happy to be able to work from home to supplement my family’s income and remain flexible with my schedule doing something that I enjoy.

____________________________________

Hey there,

I’m Dawn and I enjoy helping parents and advocating for orphans!

I founded Yesterday’s Orphan, an outreach to support parents and caregivers, especially moms, of adopted and foster children and also step-children.

If you liked this post and it is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.

Please comment and let me know if you found value in this post and feel free to share.

A Longing Fulfilled

In Proverbs chapter 13 we read: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (verse 12). And in verse 19: “A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul . . .”

My upcoming mission trip to serve orphans and their caretakers in Vladimir, Russia is a longing I have had in my heart for several years. The following is the support letter I have written and I want to share it here with you for any of you who may want to partner with me as I move forward in faith toward the reality of this longing fulfilled and the opportunity to serve these precious people.

Dear family & friends,

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to serve orphans in Vladimir, Russia with a Boaz Project team this coming December.   

Along with the rest of the team, my friend Connie and I plan to bring Christmas gifts to orphanage and foster home children and shower them with God’s love, along with  their caretakers!

I’ve followed Boaz Project for years and this particular mission trip has been on my heart for a long while.  The Boaz Project, Inc. is a non-profit that serves the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of orphans around the world!

It’s so exciting to be actually planning to go after all this time.  One thing that makes this trip special to me is returning to the town where I first met my youngest son, Alexander.   

I remember feeling very at ease and very much “at home” in Vladimir (much different than I had felt in Moscow). Though his orphanage was impoverished, the genuine care and compassion was evident.  Aside from the language Vladimir would fit right in if the whole town was transported home with me and could have been another quaint, sleepy little town in my home state of Alabama!

Let me be frank, I do NOT enjoy air travel!  But I’m willing to grin and bear it. (smile) Though the trip seems distant and off in the future,  I know it will be here lickety split!   

In order to make this trip a reality, in addition to preliminary costs like passport renewal, etc., 

I will need:

$1300 estimated airfare

$860 (first part of in-country cost by 10/4/19)

$859 (estimated second part of in-country cost by 11/1/19)


NEEDED: $3019 

The mission trip is planned for December 7 – 15, 2019

In addition to monetary support, your prayer support for me and the entire mission team plus the children and caretakers we’ll be visiting is much appreciated!!

Here are some suggestions on how you can  pray specifically:  

  • Pray that God will open the hearts of the children;
  • Pray for unity and cooperation among team members;
  • Pray for my heart — that I will be open to whatever he has for me to learn.

And if you feel the Lord leading you to join me in ministry by supporting me financially, please make a check payable to The Boaz Project, Inc.  Please be sure to send the enclosed response card with the check to: [See link for online donations below.]

The Boaz Project, Inc.,

P.O. Box 47188

Indianapolis, IN 46247-0188

You may also donate towards my orphan mission trip online! Visit https://www.boazproject.org/donate/baggett/.

I leave you with the following verses: 

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.”

Psalm 9:18 

And

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

Psalm 10:14

So I invite you to join me in bringing hope and help to the afflicted, the fatherless, the orphan children who need to know that God is for them.

Thank you so much!

Dawn Baggett



I’m sure there’ll be more blog posts regarding the trip, but if you want to keep up more closely with the mission trip in particular and Yesterday’s Orphan in general, you may subscribe to my email list with the button below.

How to Write Your Personal Value Statement & Why

Do you ever doubt yourself? Your value as a parent, spouse, person?

Things like stress overload, overwhelm, mental/physical disability, etc. can make a parent second-guess themselves and wonder if they are really even making a positive difference in the lives of their family members. I know for myself, I have had moments of self-doubt and feelings of failure that overshadowed the positive impact and value I bring to my family and people in my life.

If you ever have similar feelings I have an activity to help you, and an example below.

Begin by asking yourself three questions.

  1. In what ways do I benefit my family?
  2. How does my family show me they
    appreciate me?
  3. In what ways could I be an even more
    beneficial presence in my home?

Answering these questions will give you the content to write out your own value statement to read, re-read, and remind yourself of your real value in the lives of those you love. Win the battlefield of your mind. God’s Word has a lot to say about the need to take steps to manage our minds. I’ve listed a few verses below (and in the workbook):

Colossians 3:2 directs “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

And 1 Peter 1:13 gives us the long-range view – “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Free Workbook

I designed a workbook which you can print and use to create your own Personal Value Statement. It includes these three questions plus some more content and an anonymous example of what a Personal Value Statement can look like. Of course each person’s would be unique to them. You can get the printable workbook with the button below.

Do you feel stuck and hopeless, like you have no purpose in life, or that you are helpless to fulfill it? Satan would love for you to continue in self-despair, but when you focus on the truth and God’s Word, you can break free!

John 8:32 – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I’d love to know how you like this post and if the activity and workbook are helpful. Comment and let me know what you think!

Time for an Empathy Self-Audit

Teach Yourself to be More Understanding and Empathetic

“Everyone that hasn’t suffered a brain injury or mental illness is capable of empathy.” – – so I read.

But some of our children DO have brain issues that impact their ability to show empathy. And it seems so easy to spot in them, and even easier to become exasperated at their apparent lack of empathy.

I’m guilty of this.

And so I end up being “the pot calling the kettle black” with my own lack of empathy.

Some of us are in touch with this ability, while others could use a little practice. If you’ve found yourself exasperated over your child’s un-empathetic behaviors, how about taking an empathy self-audit?

What is empathy?

Empathy is the concern for the welfare of others. It’s the ability to detect or predict the emotions and thoughts of others.

It’s easy to see why this would be a handy skill to master. Empathy has an impact on your relationships. This is true for both your personal and professional relationships. Empathy can make your life easier and more fulfilling at home and at work!

It’s an ability that our children need to become competent in. And our modeling empathy to and before them is crucial.

So after your empathy self-audit if you find you need an empathy tune-up, I have some empathy tune-up tips for you.

Empathy Tune-Up Tips

Try these tips to increase your empathy for your child/children and others:

1. Avoid making assumptions.

Your view of the world is limited. Your experiences are just your own. Others have lived a different reality.

If you’re from a well-off and intact family from the United States, you don’t really have a clue what it’s like to deal with the weight of growing up in an orphanage in Ukraine. If you’ve never lost a job, avoid assuming that you know exactly what that experience feels like.

Making assumptions only gets in the way of developing empathy. When you catch yourself making assumptions, question them. Prove your assumptions to be true or false before making any decisions.

2. Ask questions.

One way to understand others is to ask questions. Develop a genuine interest in them. Enhancing your communication skills assists your ability to connect with, and to understand, other people. Ask open ended questions.

3. Listen intently.

I used to think I was a great listener! But I’ve found myself only half-heartedly listening and dividing my attention with my kids. Yikes! What types of messages does that send to them?

I’ve also been trying to help a couple of my children learn to pause and wait for my attention before they start blasting out their message and getting frustrated at me then. If they want understanding they need to learn to wait for my attention. Plus that’s a clue to me to give it.

Listening intently is related to asking questions and avoiding assumptions. We also seek to understand the emotions that the other person is feeling. Asking questions and then listening to the answers is a pivotal part of creating empathy within yourself.

4. Learn about a group of people outside of your experience.

You could learn about people of another religious background or culture. If you’ve never been poor, you might learn about the homeless and how they live day to day. Read books and talk to people. Strive to understand what it would be like to be born a part of a particular group.

5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

One way to relate better to others is to imagine yourself in the same situation. This can be painful. It’s not enjoyable to imagine that your spouse has died or that you’re completely out of money. Ask yourself, “What would I be thinking and feeling if I were in this situation?” Just asking yourself this question is the biggest step you can take toward being empathetic.

6. Be present. Give your undivided attention to others. You can’t be empathetic if you’re thinking about something else. This goes along with number three above, but extends to family activities, meals, meetings, etc. We are so tempted to multitask and it’s an even bigger temptation these days with our smartphones and other tech at our fingertips constantly.

Related: Be interested.

You’re not as good at hiding your disinterest as you think! You miss most of the information, verbal and non-verbal, communicated to you if you’re not paying attention.

7. Have more meaningful conversations.

Talking about sports is fine, but it’s not a deep and personal topic. One way to get the ball rolling is to talk about something that’s important to you. The more you share, the more you’re going to receive in return. Be open, and others will be more open with you. (Maybe.)

But don’t forget to give the other person a turn. One sided conversations are counterproductive to mutuality and connectedness.

Empathy is an important skill. It can greatly increase the ability to communicate and connect with others. Being able to understand their feelings and thoughts will boost your rapport with them, whether it’s your children, your spouse, or those outside the household. Enhance your relationships with empathy and you’ll benefit in many ways. And you’ll be modeling this important skill to your child or children!

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep”

Romans 12:15

First Things First

When our more basic needs are unmet is can put the brakes on empathy. If you feel unable to access your empathy or otherwise feel like you are missing out on basic needs such as safety I implore you to seek the help YOU need, putting your oxygen mask on first as it were, to address those needs and free up mental and emotional space for empathy.

Find More with Facebook Group

Free closed Facebook Group for Parents & Caretakers of Yesterday’s Orphan community.

If this post is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.

Posts in the group touch on a variety of topics that may affect you if you are caring for a child with a history of early childhood traumatic parental loss and possibly other serious trauma in their background.