February 15, 2018

New Site, More Me

Untitled-design

Hi everyone! Welcome to JillianBenfield.com, formerly known as News Anchor to Homemaker. If you’ve been around for a while, I’m sure you’re wondering—why the change? To put it simply—the name wasn’t me anymore. Let me give you a bit of background.

I started this blog back in 2014. I worked with a designer and the name, the graphic fit perfectly for what I wanted this blog to be, a food blog. The site launched and then days later we got our son’s Down syndrome diagnosis. Since then, that cute name, that adorable family graphic, just didn’t fit. I’ve taken my readers down the many roads of grief, reflection and enlightenment as life has thrown us many unexpected hardships and subsequent lessons over the years.

Not to mention, this year makes five years since I’ve been a news anchor!

I did some soul searching this summer while I was 9 months pregnant and living at a Ronald McDonald House (a place where contemplating your life just comes with the territory) and I realized changes were in order. Not just the name, not just the design, but also the content.

I had put myself in a box—special needs parent and Christian writer. I rarely opened the flaps to go outside those limits I set for myself. I thought it was my “brand”, but you know what? My life, my experiences, my thoughts go beyond those two titles. 

So, what can you expect? My greatest hope is that you will feel both connected and inspired here. You will get what you’ve come to know from my words—real life, raw honesty, all with a heaping dose of encouragement and hope. You will also get more topics—parenting (both special needs and the regular kind), marriage, Down syndrome and advocacy, many spiritual reflections and also more fun—more recipes, more parties, more tips of things I’ve learned along the way.

I also want this space to be more about you. How can you be apart of it? Join my new Facebook group—Real Life, Roaring Hope. This is a community where we will listen to each other and lift one another up. 

So, grab a cup of coffee/tea, glass of wine or bowl of popcorn and explore my new virtual home. Read my mission for this site, dive into my story, get to know the family and make sure you also follow along on Facebook and Instagram so we can laugh together in the midst of our sometimes-serious reflections.

I’m so thankful for my readers, I hope you all come to love this new space.

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrEmail to someoneShare on LinkedIn

February 5, 2018

Plan for your Child’s Future with ABLEnow

IMG_0434 (2)
Tracking Pixel(This is a sponsored blog post written by me on behalf of ABLEnow. All opinions are my own.)

I remember dreading the long drive to my monthly Partners in Policymaking course. My son Anderson, who has Down syndrome, had just turned one and although I was taking the course to learn tools that would better his future—the weekend dedicated to “Transitioning” seemed too far off.

The first thing the speaker said was, “When do you start planning for your child’s future after high school?” The room was silent. “Now. You start planning now.”

That day a paradigm shift happened. I realized our attitude, our language, and our decisions in regards to Anderson, needed to be with his future in mind. We envision a life for our son where he will have meaningful relationships, independence and a job he finds fulfilling.

We need to take steps now to give him the best chance for this life as possible. One step we’ve already taken in planning ahead is setting up an ABLEnow account.


IMG_0960

For too long, parents of children with disabilities (and people with disabilities themselves) could not save for the future without fear of losing their public benefits. Advocates and disability organizations fought hard to change this, resulting in the federal ABLE Act and new ABLEnow program.

ABLEnow allows parents to save for their children with disabilities in an affordable, tax-advantaged account that won’t risk affecting benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income down the line. 

Because my husband is active duty military, we incur little to no expense in regards to Anderson’s disability. However, this is not the case for many families who have children with disabilities. An ABLEnow account allows parents to pay for certain disability expenses now, as well as invest in the future.
IMG_0453 (1)

If your state does not have its own ABLE program, there’s no need to wait to open an account. ABLEnow is a national program, allowing you to open an account from any state. Here’s another great thing about an ABLEnow account—anyone can contribute. That means grandparents, or other relatives can make their own contributions to your child’s account in addition to your own savings.

Being a writer-type, dealing with financial aspects of our family is not a task I enjoy and often defer to my husband. However, opening an ABLEnow was easy even for me. From start to finish the process took 20 minutes. It takes 20 minutes to take a step towards planning your child’s future with a little less fear and much more certainty.

IMG_0809 (1)

I’m so thankful for the advocates and parents who have gone before me and paved the path to make ABLEnow accounts possible.

Have questions? Watch the video or visit the FAQ section.

Pin this post!

How to Save for Your Child with a Disability

This is a sponsored blog post written by me on behalf of ABLEnow. All opinions are my own.

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrEmail to someoneShare on LinkedIn

January 30, 2018

I’m Not Enough

IMG_0495

It’s been a hard day, but before those kinks even started, I was just feeling like I wasn’t enough. Not a good enough mom or wife lately and not good enough to do what I want professionally. The feelings of inadequacy have enveloped me as goals are not being crossed off as quickly as I want and I see my stress affecting my family. And you know what I realized? I’m not enough. I’m not.

That’s not the popular thing to say right now. We are in a culture promoting self-love. And I think that’s a great thing. But, you know why I realized I wasn’t enough? It’s not because I don’t love myself, it’s because I’m not designed to be.

Instead, I was designed to need the One who made me. I was also designed to need those He put in my path.

I’ve been studying God, but I haven’t felt Him, lately. I’ve wanted to reach out to those who can offer guidance, but haven’t had the courage. On my path to self-betterment, I’ve been walking in a way that’s self-reliant.

It’s not enough because I’m not enough. I wasn’t meant to do this on my own. We are not meant to do this on our own. You, me, we are not enough.

The background of this post: 
A lot is brewing over here in my corner of the world. More to come on the changes, but right now, just know that January has been busy and tough. I’m having a hard time finding my new groove with all I want to accomplish. I read a devotional by Rick Warren today titled, “Only God Can Provide”. I have to admit, this is a tough concept for me, maybe even the toughest in my faith walk. I think all good things come from above, but I also know He calls us to act. Often I find the balance of relying on Him and relying on myself to make the move a difficult notion for me. What I do know upon reflecting today, is that I haven’t relied on Him enough lately. I haven’t invited him into my day throughout the day. I’ve been doing this transition largely by myself and it needs to change.

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrEmail to someoneShare on LinkedIn