I am thrilled to only have 10 more days of school left. This particular group of first graders has been a little unique. Typically I have a high percentage of children who seemingly were born reading. This year my students have had to work hard to get to the magic level 16 text that is required by the end of first grade. I am excited that almost all of my students have far exceeded these expectations. I have seen students move mountains this year in order to read.
I have experimented a great deal this year with new teaching strategies. It seems that children are struggling more with memory loss and attention issues than I have seen in the past. The kids rarely retain anything that is taught in a whole group setting, and little taught in small groups. They have needed more individualized instruction than ever before. I have brought in tons of hands on, kinesthetic approaches. We have sang, clapped, cheered, jumped, hopped, and written our own songs, stories, and poems to remember stuff. I leave work everyday completely spent. However, in the end, the hard work has paid off. Every one of my students now reads well enough to be successful in second grade. I am still hopeful that someday God will lead me into a different career, but in the meantime I am attempting to be faithful where I am. There is definitely something to be said for having a job in tough economic times. I am certainly grateful that I have a means of providing for my family.
Abby turned 5 last week. It seems like such a short time ago I was laying on my couch praying for her safety through long months of bedrest. She had a fabulous birthday. Shawn's mom and my dad and stepmom came out for her party. I was surprised that she wanted to have an exclusively family party. I expected her to want to invite everyone she knew. I finally realized that by not inviting friends, she was guaranteed all the undivided attention of her family. I guess that's pretty awesome for a 5 year old.
Grace enjoyed her theatrical production of 'The Wizard of Oz." She played a variety of supporting roles: a poppy, munchkin, oz citizen, tree, monkey, and crow. Her main night she played the role of the coroner, with a short solo. She was excited to stay on key for the entire performance. The grandparents were also able to attend the play. It meant a great deal to have family at her event.
Katie is working on her solo for the talent show. She plans to sing Addison Road's song, "What do I know of Holy." I am looking forward to her performance on Friday. She is staying busy loving on Abby and playing hard.
James is patiently waiting on a neurology appointment at Children's. Well, patiently may not be the right word. James had some complications with a migraine headache last week, and the doctor pulled him from athletics until he is able to see a specialist. His coaches are more than ready for him to be back in the swing of things. We are currently reviewing his schedule for his freshman year of high school. How can my baby boy be headed to high school in the fall? It seems strange that he is nearly grown. His 8th grade graduation is next week!
Shawn is working like a dog trying to balance two jobs. I admire his commitment to our family so very much. He is determined to do what is best for the church plant financially, and so he will be returning to his position of teacher's aide again in the fall. I know that right now it is pretty tough to be at work ready to work with kids by 7:15 and then still be working hard at church stuff late into the night. But he maintains a positive attitude, grateful that God has blessed him with the ability to work with me, to be involved with the families in the community, and to be in a position to minister to the teachers.
So how about me? I am missing my workouts! Over spring break, I did some trail running in old shoes. I came home with what is probably plantar fasciitis. This means that I have not been able to run at all. One of the best ways to help those feet heal is to sleep with them in a completely flexed position. Since I am too cheap to go to the doctor, I have used my brilliant Arkansas ingenuity to rig up a way to tie my feet into the correct position at night. I will confess that last night Shawn just couldn't contains the laughter any more, finally busting out with, "That is just too ghetto." Not exercising has added 7 pounds back onto my behind. I will have to get serious soon about returning to the gym! I have been sick for a couple of weeks and as soon as my cold clears up, I'll be ready to hit it hard.
I did well in my second semester of college. This semester I took a class titled, "Spiritual Formation and Worship." I learned much about spiritual discipline, and how lacking my spiritual growth tends to be. I enjoyed getting to research the discipline of worship, learning more about what it means to offer up praise and how God inhabits the praises of his people. I learned about praise being sacrificial, and about how to be thankful in all things. It was an amazing journey. This summer I will be continuing to work on my degree, taking "Christian History and Heritage." The title of this class seems a bit daunting. Then I have one more theology class left to take in the fall before I dive full fledged into my worship media concentration. I get crazy with excitement whenever I think about getting to study something about which I am so passionate.
Last week our church participated in an awesome ministry opportunity. We had the chance to completely furnish a transitional apartment for a single mom and her 3 kids. I loved getting to hand her the key and show her around her new home. It was amazing to see how everything came together. If you are interested in reading more about this incredible project, check out Shawn's blog: blazingthetrail.blogspot.com.
The other big news at The Crossroads is our relaunch of the youth program. Our youth minister had to step down last year due to work commitments, and God has not yet raised up a replacement. We waited and waited, until finally Shawn and I decided that we would lead the youth. I mean, what's little youth ministry thrown into the rest of our crazy life, right? A small church in town, Calvary Baptist, is renting us their facilities on Sunday night, which has been a super location for working with the youth. The first week we brought in a young band. That was tons of fun. The next week we played games and Shawn talked about guarding your words. Then last week we took the kids to see "Soul Surfer" and eat pizza. I am enjoying getting to know the teens. I am especially looking forward to youth camp this summer! It has been nearly 10 years since I last went to youth camp. How cool will it be to go with my own teens and see God at work? I can't wait.
I hope this fills in some gaps about where I've been, and what God has been doing. I appreciate your prayers as we chase after God and seek to learn to love him more every day.