We have a new feature here on Communication FUNdamentals called Interview with a Communicator. We all communicate every day of our lives and communication touches every aspect of it. So...each week, I'm going to bring you a blog interview with someone in a different ministry, business or time of life to share with you. Each will share the mission God has them on and how effective communication plays an important role. We begin with a friend I met online.
BeckyJoie Thombs Oakes is a “multiple hat wearer” and a free-lance writer. She spends her time volunteering to work with youth as well as lay-counseling ministries at a local Christian counseling center. She has three sons. She lives with her husband, two of her sons and their Yorkshire terrier in Leesburg, FL. Always uplifting and gracious, she puts a smile on the faces of those all around her. I know you will enjoy her. Here we go...
1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I like to describe myself as a multiple hat wearer. I am first and foremost a wife and therapeutic mom. By that I mean that I help children from abusive and troubled backgrounds. My husband and I have adopted two teenage boys through foster care and have an older son who is in college preparing for a law career. In my spare time, I am a youth worker, middle school Sunday school teacher, lay-counselor, health consultant and a health food business person. I never have time to be bored. I love helping people. It fuels me.
2. What is a typical day in the life of Becky Joie?
Currently, I homeschool my two boys, ages 15 and 17 but during the day, I run my health businesses from home and do therapeutic respite for whoever the Lord sends my way. This includes dealing with a great deal of behavior management in troubled children so we keep very occupied with outdoors activities and routine household chores. It requires a stable schedule with a tiny bit of flexibility so my day is often planned from 6am until 11pm or later, depending on issues that come up during the day.
3. I love hearing people’s testimony! Please share how you came to know the Lord and how important The Great Commission is to a believer.
I was raised in a Christian home. My family had an evangelistic ministry performing puppets, music, chalk drawing and preaching. I am told by my parents that I gave my life to the Lord as a 5 year old but I really did not remember it, although I remember being baptized. When I was in the 4th grade, our family settled in a church that was very strong on keeping God’s law but not especially skilled in grace. Through a series of events and time in a restrictive environment, I became hurt and turned away from the Lord for a brief while in my adulthood. I had been in an abusive marriage where I had my oldest son. My ex-husband was a pastor. We divorced to due his abuse and unfaithfulness. Even after we had been separated for a few years, I was still not over it. I was very angry about this and ran from the Lord for a while. Then, I was invited to a Calvary Chapel home bible study. It was there I felt God’s love and mercy but was also convicted for sin in my life so I re-committed my life to the Lord. Then I learned that God really loved me, that I was definitely a sinner in need of a Savior. I learned that God was not a bully waiting for me to trip up so He could hit me with a club of punishment but that He really loved me, wanted to forgive me and give me a new life. I gave my heart to Him and turned away from the world. It was one of the toughest things I ever did but I’m so glad I did it. That was about 15 years ago. I’ve served the Lord gratefully ever since. A couple of years after splitting with my ex-husband, I met my husband, Doug, who is a wonderful, godly man.
4. How many years have you been married and how important has effective communication been in your marriage?
As of June 2011, we will have been married for 14 years. We were put together by “Godcident”, we like to say. Paired up in a Christian musical, we became very good friends. We didn’t even know that we liked each other more. Other people had to point it out. At one point, he tried to tell me that he liked me and said, “I’m so glad we are friends.” I was DEVASTATED. I had begun to realize I liked him as more and thought he was saying he only like me as a friend. He saw a man kind of following me around and thought I was taken already. This also did not help. We didn’t communicate about it at all. It took a mutual friend of ours to mend the communication gap. Thank God for friends! I would hate to think I missed out on a wonderful husband because we did not communicate how we felt to each other.
5. Share with us your greatest blessings and challenges you have had as a parent.
My type of parenting is a cross between therapeutic parenting and the “Love and Logic” style. I need to be very careful to keep my tone of voice mild and cheerful even when disciplining as tenseness can trigger fears of abuse or anger in the children that I help. I also have to be very cautious with humor as the children are sensitive and might feel ridiculed. With my oldest son, it was different. He was a rascal but he had a great sense of humor. He had a knack for embarrassing me. One time he hid inside an old pulpit at the base of the stairs in an old church building and waited for ladies to come down the stairs. He would jump out and scare them. Screams would echo across the church. That would be when I would find out what he did and want to crawl under a rock. Another time, he told a sharp looking single man that I went to the doctor to get a shot in my rear end. Humiliating! Sometimes working with troubled teens can bring embarrassment as well. When a teen throws a tantrum ( throwing things, yelling, stomping feet, cussing) in public because they don’t get the yogurt they want in the store and they won’t wait to discuss it in private OR else when one has wild behavior and climbs atop a grocery display and I have to talk to them in a sweet, calm voice, it can be quite unnerving to wonder what people think of our family. I overcome this by telling myself that it does not matter what others think and that I need to parent my children and my temporary charges the way that they need me to parent them because I answer to God and not strangers who don’t know the circumstances. Of course, we use discipline but it looks very different from what others use so there is no way between the behaviors and our discipline style that we are going to look normal to anyone who does not understand these things. My biggest challenge is parenting against normal logic because this parenting style is unique to parents who do what I do.
6. What is your favorite scripture and share what God is communicating to you personally through it.
I love Ephesians 3:14-21 which talks about knowing the love of God and being stirred up in Him. I think that is the answer to healing any hurt and motivating all Christian service. Love is the key. That is my prayer—that all who come into my pathway will know God and His love.
7. You have a unique ministry/business. How important is effective communication for you as you go about your daily activities?
Communication is 24/7 job here. I must communicate in a way that can be received by hurting children. I must teach them how to communicate through words instead of poor actions. I must teach them how to express emotion appropriately. Most important is the modeling of how we communicate with our Lord for every need, every fear, every want, every time we need forgiveness or to tell Him that we love Him. They will see what a true parent is like if they see me trusting God. He is the ultimate parent. In our home, prayer is a communication about trust/faith as well as communication with God. I am so blessed when one of my kids “gets it” and sees me with a headache. He comes and lays hands on my head and asks God to heal me. Other times, one child will be frustrated with the behavior of another. They will mimic my quiet, under the breath prayer before responding to the child who is irritating them. Then I know I’ve communicated faith and trust well to them.
8. What forms of communication do you use in your ministry/business? Which one is your favorite and why?
I use many forms of communication with my kids, from letters, to songs, to stories and even signs on the wall. Storytelling is very helpful to relay empathy. If they can see how they would feel in a given situation, then they can learn to empathize with others.
With my health business, I use social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I have used blogging but lately I’ve just been too busy for that. Facebook is most effective because you can communicate with many more people and interact much more quickly. You are not just putting your message/product out there but you also get to develop relationships with your customers and provide much better customer service.
9. What are the challenges in communicating in other ways?
I’m not a phone person really. I like to see people’s faces or see their words in front of me. This could be because I am a visual person and have some auditory processing issues with noise. I prefer in-person or in written and electronic communication. That way I can mull over what is said more before reacting and I won’t miss something important.
10. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice about a misunderstanding you had in the past, what would you tell yourself?
That is a tough one. I think that in my past, I would have communicated more rather than clamming up. I think I would have thought more before reacting. There are so many things we can improve in communication. We are all students with so much to learn.
11. How can we learn more about you and your business/ministry?
Right now, I am in the development stages of the therapeutic parenting fan page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christian-Therapeutic-Parenting/193811603983441
My business page for health food is: http://www.beyondorganicinsider.com/becomeaninsider.aspx?enroller=4382
The company will open in October of 2011 but I’m beginning to build the business beforehand because I believe in Jordan Rubin, the creator, and his ideas for health and nutrition .
I also sell Nature’s Sunshine Products. You may contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on vitamins, supplements and natural health resources.
12. Any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with today?
I just want to thank you, JoJo, for working so hard to teach people about communication. I feel that what you are doing is one of the most important ministries that the church could have and it’s also a business that could help others in their own personal and professional lives. Communication is not just telling people everything. I’ve heard it said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Thanks so much for sharing with my readers, BeckyJoie! You are a blessing and inspiration to so many!
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