27 March 2015

#ThemeParkTherapy

A long, long time ago I was a classroom teacher.  I was awesome at some parts of it {my bulletin boards were spectacular!} and not-so-terrific at other parts {my plan-book was sub-par apologies to anyone that ever subbed for me}.

There are some moments I will always treasure from that time.  One in particular was a field trip to Lake Michigan.  We took our 4th grade classes across the state to PJ Hoffmaster State Park.  The majority of those kiddos had never seen a Great Lake, so when they got to end of the trail and the trees gave way to the dunes + the shoreline their surprise was audible.  It was so precious.
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In case you have never seen a Great Lake yourself, here you go:


See?  Beautiful, right?
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But back to the point.  The kiddos were just so surprised and delighted and awed by it and we got to see it all over their faces and hear it in their voices.  The students that showed no interest in math were enthralled by what they were seeing.  Students that were typically quiet in the classroom were suddenly chatty.  This experience leveled the playing field - we were all fascinated by the scene. I'm so grateful I was able to be a part of it.

I was thinking about this trip to Lake Michigan because The Cora Reid Greene Home for Children has launched a new program.  Its called "Theme Park Therapy" -- aka #ThemeParkTherapy.  The hope is to give foster families this type of shared experience to treasure for always.  A day when kids get to be kids and parents get to witness delight and awe and joy.  The goal is to send 56 foster kiddos + parents to Six Flags {its not Lake Michigan but I think the kiddos will love it nonetheless!}.  The total cost is $2500.  Basically, a donation of $45 would cover admission, lunch, + transportation to the park for one person.  Not a bad deal.


I love that the organization is covering the cost for the children as well as the parents, and that they thought to cover lunch and transportation as well.  Our family has been at a theme park before and felt a little stressed-out about the cost of food, or wondered if the entrance fee was really worth it.  Have you been there too?  This program eliminates that tension for the foster family altogether and just allows for them to have a special day together.

There are so many struggles that children in foster care face, they often miss out on some very basic childhood moments.   A trip like this can help restore a little bit of what has been lost.  It won't solve every problem or magically erase trauma and heartbreak, but it can give a foster family a delightful shared experience.  We recently read an article online from Foster Focus Magazine and it outlines a similar program and the results they have observed.  You can read Disney Therapy: Just a Spoonful of Sugar here.

The Cora Reid Greene Home for Children has set-up a special paypal page for donations specific to this program.  You can find it by clicking here.  

Also, Brad has encouraged crowd-funding for this as well. You can set up a fundraising page on Pure Charity and have your friends donate directly to your page.  This would be a super easy way for a Sunday School class or youth group to rally around our foster care community.  You can click here to find out more about this option.

If you have any questions about the program you can comment here or on The Cora Reid Greene Home for Children facebook page.  And don't forget to share this!


23 March 2015

run your race

Sometimes there are just words on repeat pounding in my head. Over and over and over.  Does this happen to you too?

Today, its "run your race."



Of course its rooted in a verse, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And LET US RUN with perseverance THE RACE marked out FOR US," Hebrews 12:1 {niv} [emphasis mine]

Oh, Hebrews 12 is jam-packed with goodness and even Hebrews 12:1 is chock-full of treasure itself.  Maybe just go re-read it one more time.  I'll wait.

And the follow-up is "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:2a {niv}

Good Truth.

This metaphor about running a race is a drum-beat in my heart.  We all have a race marked out for us.  We don't all run the same race, except we do run at the same time.  Wild, huh?  My race won't look like yours, yours won't match mine.  Our course might overlap, at times we might even get to run alongside one another. We likely didn't start at the same place and might not finish at the same time.  But we get to run our race.  You get to run your race, I get to run mine. 

And the key to running well is keeping our eyes on Jesus. Oftentimes we get this part a little mixed up. We think we should match pace with other runners on the course so we look at what they are doing.  Or we feel bad about how poorly we are performing, we get upset with the results we are seeing right in front of us, and forget to look ahead. 

But when we focus on Jesus, we remember, He goes before us.  He called us to this.  He prepared us for this.  He will get us through this.  The highs, the lows, the hills and the valleys, He has marked the course for us.  He gives the pre-race brief, He'll direct us through every intersection, He'll encourage every step forward we take -- and He will stand alongside us when we just need to catch our breath.  He won't condemn our missteps, but He will do some course-correction.  At times it will be painful.  He'll remind us that its worth it.  He will cheer us when it seems there is nothing even worth cheering.  His delight in us will be evident with every slow clap and high five.  He will push us beyond what we thought capable and then a little further still.  He will stand at the finish line confidently awaiting our arrival.

We get to run our race.  You get to run your race, I get to run mine.   Is that cool or what?

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In somewhat related news, I ran a race with Walker this weekend.  Which is always such a delightful experience.

We didn't train for it.  At all.  So we are both hobbling around a bit two days later.  Our legs are sore, but we are still glad we did it.  We learned an important lesson about training better before the next race we run together.

I was also reminded about the kindness that is often found at these types of races.  All along the way there were words of encouragement.  Walker and I ran a pretty steady race, there were a lot of hills so we adapted our strategy and decided to walk the uphills.  It worked for us.  With the walk breaks, we kept trading places with a few other people on the run -- we'd walk and get passed, we'd start running again and pass them, etc. 

We were just a handful of the people on the course.   None of us ran the race exactly the same way.  Even Walker and I had some variances between us.  But we all ran that race Saturday.  We stood around afterwards discussing those hills and congratulating one another. We talked about other races we had run and even talked about upcoming races.  Nobody came up to us and asked why we bothered running if we were going to walk the uphills.   None of the early finishers mocked the late finishers.  Actually at the end of the race, the crowd of cheering onlookers grew as each finisher joined in the cheering for the other competitors.

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Oh that we would cheer one another on in this way.  What beauty if we would encourage each other as we run the race marked out for us, not only allowing differences in pace and style but celebrating those differences as well. Realizing that the best thing we can do for one another as we run, is to continually look to Jesus -- keeping our eyes on Him and reminding each other to do the same along the way. 

12 March 2015

Emergency Clothing Closet Needs

It's been a long while since I have posted an updated list of needs for the Foster Care Emergency Clothing closet*.  Winter always finds me with a sick kiddo or two and I inevitably have to cancel a volunteer day here and there.  When I get out of the habit of going, I start to pull back a bit.

When a few weeks away from the office turns into a month away, its hard to get back into the swing of things.   Especially posting the lists of needs.  It always feels a little awkward to do it again. This week, however, God has been using my own words to encourage me.  Of course, it was via conversations with Lincoln + Franklin.

Lincoln does this thing at dinner where he tells me what he is going to eat.  He tells me many, many, many times, "I am going to eat this chicken."  I tell him, "stop talking about it and just do it.

Yesterday the boys were picking up their room.  They were singing the "clean-up song," you know the one?  Everybody everywhere...  I took a peek and noticed that they were singing but not really doing any of the work.  I told them, "you can't just sing about it, you have to actually pick stuff up!  Just singing the song doesn't make it happen.

I've been to the clothing closet twice this winter without posting an updated list of needs.  As I got ready to go yesterday I  realized that just going down and doing the inventory doesn't really matter if I never share what is needed.  I am basically just singing a song and expecting the work to happen magically.  Tuesday afternoon I told myself I would get the list done.  Its now Thursday and I told myself that I have to stop talking about it and just do it. 

Sometimes I am exactly like a four-year-old.

But I am finally getting it done.

I know so many of you are eager to help so I apologize for not keeping you informed of what the current needs have been.  The list of needs is longer than it has been in awhile.  So keep an eye out for bargains.  Remember, we only accept new clothing at this time.  A lot of sizes have shirts but no pants, so if you find a deal on pants/jeans we can probably make outfits with what is on-the-rack. 
 



A few other items we need are toddler-size underwear for boys + girls; and 4T diapers. We could also use shelf-stable snacks that are individually packaged. We actually have LOTS of child-size backpacks and bags right now!  Yay!



*Foster Care Emergency Clothing closet - This is located in the Muscogee County Foster Care office.  The items are used for children that come in to care and might need a fresh change of clothes. I am always happy to answer any questions you might have about the closet :)