Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grateful Here

The piggy bank or rather, the oversized pickle jar, spilled more than we had guessed.  Ten years of chump change made this long anticipated trip all the more fun.  A small team of very special people made it possible for us to leave town early Friday morning and this gal could NOT be more grateful.

My thanksgiving.

Attention to detail {Julia Morgan built lovely buildings.}

the excitement of finding stores like this.... and then the anticipation of finding something special

Handmade signs and recommendations from little readers posted

getting pictures like these on my phone reminding me my kids are loved and happy

the fog, the rocks, the mountains by the beach

the fog clearing and turning into a place like this..

to buy a treat like this

Being reminded that the fruit is sweetest right off the VINE  {He is the true Vine.}

Having time to stop, just because it looks interesting

And mailboxes to mail letters home

And Mom and Dad who are making the rest of this week possible

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A One Eighty

Here’s the view from where I’m sitting.

Too sick to go to school-- a rare occasion for her.  {Yes, that's "the" bowl for, you know... and yes, she's reading.  I've never seen the child too sick to read. Ever.}  Sick.  I flipped out ~kind of~  if any week of the school year I need for us to be AHEAD, it’s this one.  Not behind.  The piggy bank has been broken {literally} for our 20th, there’s a trip planned, sweet friends helping us out with the kids and my parents coming in to take over for the school week.  Sickness doesn’t fit in with this.  Neither does starting off the school week behind.  So “flipping out” ~  I got an email in the wee hours this morning that Brighton’s literature questions, that were due today, needed to be written in complete sentences.  Before breakfast, I am explaining this to B over a clean sheet of notebook paper, you know, how to basically repeat the question in the answering of the question.  For a guy who fills the room with as many words as he can from his own lips, he saw NO point in re-writing all those words in the answer.  That to say, it was not a pleasant redo.  Words flew loud and stern.  Eyes got big.  When finished, he jammed the stapler putting the new paper over the old paper so in attempting to fix the stapler, it gave me the perfect excuse to whack the stapler ~hard~ on the desk trying the dislodge the ornery staples.  And whack again.  Now, I wasn’t imagining whacking anyone.  I think I was whacking the changes that were taking place in my day.  Me and change have a love/hate thing.  I’m selfish.  It takes me a while to come around.

On my way home from taking Brighton to school, just the right songs randomly played off the iPod- one of my favorites that says “happiness is found right here in your house, in this room, in this hour”.  What else can I say to that but “Yes, Sir”?

Knowing my poor perspective, a sweet friend emailed this prayer from Treasury of Praise:

O Lord my shepherd, I worship you as the One who perfectly cares for me so that I never need to be anxious. Because You're so rich - with unlimited resources - I can live free from anxiety, knowing that my every need will be fully met. And when anxiety overtakes me, I have in Christ the solution.
Thank you for making clear in your Word, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
"God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Thank you for affirming that you care for me, and therefore I can "throw the whole weight of my anxieties upon him, for I am his personal concern."

I like that I am "His personal concern", don’t you?  And He can handle me.  When I can't handle myself.

After making the 180 shift in my mind, my list, my attitude, my agenda I have enjoyed the house- dark and quiet.   With a sweet little patient in my view.  She’s a good sick girl.

Today, this is what His happiness was for me but it was my choice whether or not to be happy.  Serving Julia in small ways was what He had for me today.  Not myself but her.  Not my will, but His. Not by might, but by His Spirit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I'm Still Thankful

I love these thankful lists I see posted all over the blog world.  We are noticing things once hidden under our errands, calendar and carpool.  We are seeing the beauty God gifts us with everyday all around us from a stack of clean, folded laundry to the loved one saying “yes” to Jesus.  Some of us are giving gratitude for things we’ve taken for granted far too long.  That would be me.

Sharing parts of my list here is strong motivation to keep it up but what I was finding some weeks was a BLANK page.  I would then look back over my week {my calendar and my pictures} and think of what happened for which I could be thankful.  So, for about an hour, I would feel grateful.  That would be a good, happy hour, for sure.

But I was missing that “good” on a daily basis, in the moment experience of gratitude. So was my family.  My list wasn’t working.  A weekly list was never the intention, but that is what I had chosen by not choosing the mindset of thankfulness in everything, all day.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Colossians 2:6-7

Reboot.  I was far from overflowing.

Mid summer, I grabbed a notebook to leave on the kitchen counter and that is where the work is done.  I am reminded.  In the midst of overseeing school assignments, sweeping, cooking, walking from here to there, setting the table, redirecting children, talking on the phone... I see it all day long.  And it reminds me to stop.  To stop just moving from one thing to the next but to stop in my thoughts and be grateful that he just finished up his math without breaking 5 pencil points, be thankful that she cleared his dishes from the table too, be grateful for kind words flying across the room.... to stop and look.  This, I had forgotten to do.  For me, once a week wasn’t often enough.

I still have difficulty writing down the “hard” thanksgiving. The stuff that reminds me that there is an end of me.  And I should have handed it over a long time ago.  The stuff that can change who we are.  You know.  What keeps us up at night.  I know this to be hard work.  Seems like wallowing in it is easier than being grateful for it.  I must remind myself of the good news.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Not lacking anything.  I like that.

Here are my thankful highlights from the summer and from the notebook on the counter.  May looking for the gifts be constant ~ grace, joy, thanksgiving ~ eucharisteo.

God's provisions for Tarrant NET's Read2Win literacy program

Christy's prayers

time with Janina

borrowed books on CD's 

that B still says really funny things

old friends surprising us

Joanna, going above and beyond for me..... still

EMILY'S HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Camp Calico {I will be grateful ANY time some Jesus loving teenagers want to hang out with my daughter.}

thank you notes under my pillow


the music that will remind us of this summer

Championship Swim Meet INDOORS {made their year}

She even smiles when she swims.
hearing B say to Jeff, "You are the best man I know."

first vision casting dinner for Watermark Fort Worth {!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!} Something is really happening!

new Wednesday sitter- Katherine

family date night

that my Mom is doing so much better

that our windowseat gets used every school day

parenting changing conversations with the Brandons and Carmyn 

Julia getting to work on a school project with a friend

and a day to have a little fun too-- Grateful for this friendship.

a road trip to UT for Jeff and B and time with the Hargroves

And yes, he got a haircut.  I now know, that I like it both ways. ; )
that Julia's hair still curls up within minutes in the ocean air

nephew's gifts being affirmed by being published in Clubhouse magazine {surprised kids on road trip}

books that challenge me

Julia all to myself

that he still sounds little on the phone

my Mom's group

that I get to try this thankfulness again

"Uncle Phil's Beach" Santa Rosa

The toys Uncle Phil plays with

He makes friends wherever he goes

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Invitation

If you walked into my home and looked around, you’d see books--shelves, stacks, baskets and on a really good day, piles on the couch or windowseat. Over the years, we’ve grown from board books to chapter books and have delighted in every step of the way.  From Goodnight Moon to The Witch of Blackbird Pond, we have lingered over cozy fireplace pictures with bunnies and, more recently, difficult questions that propelled significant conversations that otherwise would never been shared.  We’ve slammed books and hit the couch over the injustice of slavery and discrimination.  We’ve cried when when Anne “with an E” 's beloved Matthew died.  We’ve been comforted by homey settings, kind families, pictures of love, sacrifice and happy endings.  We’ve been inspired by the baseball players who, in the 40’s and 50’s, made the game America’s favorite pastime today. We’ve hid under the blankets waiting for all the heros to come out on top~ some did, some didn’t. We’ve begged for one more chapter after the classic cliff hangers in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  We’ve gotten goosebumps when Aslan showed up just in time.  We’ve laughed at the antics of those endearing animals who loved a bear named Pooh.  We’ve booed characters like Rachel Lynde, Templeton, Nellie Olson and Jadis, the White Witch.  We’ve sat in silence after reading about Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., George Mueller, Abraham Lincoln and nameless people who did extraordinary, history changing things.  We’ve experienced these things because we have all piled on the couch and read together.

Trips to the library and Barnes and Nobles have been a part of our weeks since the kids were old enough for storytime.  What’s NOT fun about books, crafts and free flowing Goldfish Crackers in paper cups?  {And while I am thinking about it, Pepperidge Farms, what’s in those things that makes a 3 year old sit like a statue?} One trip to Barnes and Nobles was extra memorable because it was where Julia decided to pick up a book and try out her tongue phonetically.  She was tired of waiting for someone to find the time to read to her, which we did quite a bit, but she was ready to discover the stories on her own.  Now, at 10, she’s read hundreds of books that will stay with her the rest of her life.  It’s an education all on its own-- with the right books chosen, a really wonderful education.  And she doesn’t even know it, because she enjoys it so much.

But unfortunately there are children in our neighborhoods who will never know the excitement of beginning “Chapter 1” and losing track of time in a book.

~ 1 out of 4 children in the United States grow up without knowing how to read.

~ Nearly 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.

~ Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.  {Some cities decide on the size of new prisons based on the literacy rate in the 4th grade.}

Reading changes everything.  Learning to read can keep a child in school, give a child a high school diploma, open the door to better jobs, give them a new pastime, a chance to maintain their health because filling out forms at the doctor’s office isn’t intimidating, keep them off the streets and give them a skill they will need every day for the rest of their lives.

Last year, the FWISD, due to budget cuts, lost their reading coaches who were available to help any children falling behind in their reading skills.  Even they were overwhelmed by the need so Tarrant NET, with Read 2 Win!, is inviting the Church to come alongside our schools, partner with the elementary schools long term and help with this growing problem.  And the FWISD's reaction??  "Please, please come!  We need you!"

How will the Church in Fort Worth respond?

I don’t think the practical benefits can be separated from the spiritual because it all flows into and out of the same place.  So just think, to teach a child to read means he can read for himself that God will never leave him or forsake him, that God has plans to prosper him, to give him hope and a future, that God will provide for all of his needs, and the one that bridges the dark chasm, that God loved him SO much that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to die for him so he could live forever with God. Now that has the potential to change a family.  Teaching a child to sound out consonants and vowels, whether, initially, it be in books about Dick and Jane or Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books, could possibly change generations.

Who would NOT want to be a part of that?  It’s a tangible skill we take for granted, like knowing how to make a PB&J, you can share with a first grader right here in Fort Worth that opens up the world for her.  Her confidence level will soar and she will know she has the opportunity and the ability to give back.

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
 ~Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

What must you do to get to do this?  Commit to 1 hour a week at the school with which your church is matched.*You will get to work with two little first graders who are struggling to put the sounds together.  Read 2 Win! will provide everything you need~ flashcards, schedules, prizes, motivational charts etc.

We have two 2 hour trainings scheduled from which to choose: Thursday night, September 13th and Saturday morning, September 15th.  Christ Chapel has graciously accepted to host the trainings for us. {Details below.}

Come and experience that magical moment when a child’s tongue begins to produce words, sentences and paragraphs.  Getting to see the satisfaction of accomplishment split their little face with a huge grin will send you home with feeling that same sense of accomplishment and I bet, that same grin.

Her "magical moment"

Thursday, Sept. 13
6 to 8 p.m.
Christ Chapel Bible Church
The Chapel {old sanctuary}

Saturday, Sept. 15
9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Christ Chapel Bible Church
Oak Room {Link Bldg. 1st floor}

{If you have any questions, call the Tarrant NET office at 817-738-0607.}

*If your church is not participating and you would like to be a Reading Coach, Tarrant Net will put you in contact with a Campus Coach in a church nearby so you can participate and have a helpful contact.