Sunday, June 26, 2011

Making Good Choices

Psalm 14:2 "The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,if anyone seeks God."

One thing Jeannette and I did this Relay was join a Cancer Prevention Study called CPS-3. We gave blood samples and signed up to take surveys about our lifestyle over the next 20-30 years. I received mine early in the week and filled it out while Amanda was with the orthodontist.

I have to say that at the age of forty-three, I am in pretty darn good health. And let me tell you, I don't play a big part in that. God has just blessed me because I truly have a food addiction and I am sedentary. Ok, maybe not sedentary in the true definition:

1. characterized by or requiring a sitting posture: a sedentary occupation.

2. accustomed to sit or rest a great deal or to take little exercise.

I just don't exercise. On the survey, they are asking about activity since the age of 18. I was very active in my early twenties. I would Jazzercise three times a week, take a step class on the fourth day and play tennis on the fifth. I was aerobically active FIVE days a week. Maybe because I didn't have a boyfriend.

Then I got married and everything slowed down. We would go to the gym and ride the bike. Then we had babies and our lives and our bodies REALLY started slowing down. I took pre-natal yoga. But that was it. Between the two of us, we had five jobs from 2002 to 2005. I gained ten pounds.

Now I have never been overweight according to this site which allows you to calculate your BMI or Body Mass Index. But I have been at my max for my height which is 60 inches (or a little less).

So getting back to the CPS-3, I have decided that exercise is missing in my life. Since I am off for the summer, I have also decided that now would be a good time as any to start. On Thursday, the children and I went for a walk. They actually rode their bikes. On Friday, Saturday and this morning, I went as soon as I woke. I have been waking between 5 and 5:30 and just getting up. I could roll over because the children are sleeping until almost 8. But I have started making good choices.

I have only been walking 2.4 miles. (Daniel and I took a ride in the car last night to figure it out.) But walking is the only thing that I believe is healthy at my age. I am not saying that I am too old for other exercise. I am just saying that "starting" anything more than walking isn't always a good decision. My sweet man has hurt himself twice in the last couple of years and ended up in the ER because of unwise decisions.

I am also trying to not have "junk" in the house. If we have to go out for ice-cream, then we have to go out for ice-cream. Having it accessible is not a wise decision. We have a really good produce market and the children love to go there. They have all kinds of different fruits and vegetables that the grocery stores don't carry. Amanda loves the guavas which are almost impossible to find in the grocery stores. Color is the key. Our foods should be bright, not gray.

I only hope that I can continue to make good choices on the cruise.

One thing that I truly love about the alone time I am getting on my 40 minute walk is the prayer time. It is so quiet because of the time I have chosen to walk. I see lots of rabbits and listen to the birds. But it's just me and God. Over the last few days, it has become my favorite time of the day.

But right now, while everyone is still sleeping, I am going to go read. I have to make sure I am not replacing my reading time with my exercise time. I guess it will take me a while to find balance.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12

I started this book last summer. I am finally finishing up. I love reading. I just can't find the time. So all year, books are placed in my life and I sometimes start one and then put it down. Then I start another. I have read and finished a few books this year.

This was an awesome book. I highly recommend it!

"I wrote this book because much of our talk doesn't match our lives. We say things like, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." Then we live and plan like we don't believe God even exists. We try to set our lives up so everything will be fine even if God doesn't come through. But true faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God's fidelity to His promises."

"Most of us use "I'm waiting for God to reveal His calling on my life" as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of the television yesterday."

"A friend of mine was speaking recently. Afterward a guy came up and told him, "I would go serve God as a missionary overseas, but, honestly, if I went right now it would only be out of obedience." My friend's response was "Yes, and...?"

Yesterday as I was packing, I was wondering which book I should take. I looked up and saw Beth Moore's "Out of the Pit". I thought, oh yeah, I forgot about that. Maybe I'll take that. Then I read a devotion about "captives" and knew that that was the one!

We will be away for most of the summer so if you don't hear from me, have a great summer.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Be A (wo)Man

"He has showed you, O man(for me, woman) what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

The sermon on Sunday for Father's Day was entitled "Be A Man". This is what I walked away with.

From 1 Kings 1-2:

I walk obediently by being a Woman of Discipline.

I act justly by being a Woman of my Word.

I will show kindness by being a Woman of Grace and Mercy.

Obedience yields blessing.

"So be strong, show yourself a man(for me, woman) and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses. 1 Kings 2:2

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Relay 2011

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

This year was yet another year of changes. JeannieHopes hates change. I kind of bend like a palm tree. The Night Crew was us and our daughters with the newest addition to our team, Ashley.

Another year of winners. Mom won her own basket (LOL). Kimberly won the basket that Amanda put together. Amanda won a mug and a sweatshirt that says "Fight Like a Girl". Jeannette won dinner and a movie. Congratulations, Ladies!

The Baker Girls complete their SIXTH consecutive Relay for Life.

My reason to someday my children will never have to hear the words "You have cancer."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pure Freedom

My friend sent this to me and I want to share it with you. Check it out. It's called Pure Freedom. I love it so that I was in tears. You know, the "longing to be a better mother to my new teen" feeling.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sharing with Middletown Athletic Association

I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
2 Corinthians 7:4

I just wanted to let you know how awesome God is and how he is moving through Daniel's little league teams.

All season I sat with T's mom. Yesterday I saw her at the ball field. I had just started crying telling Amanda that if I had known last year was my dad's last Father's Day, maybe we would have done something different. Anyway...just having a moment. Karen saw me and we started talking. She hugged me. She asked why we weren't playing in the All-Star game when my love was coaching it. I said I was at church, my happy place. She said church is here happy place too. Then the next thing I knew we are talking about salvation and redemption. She grew up Catholic also and someone told her she needed to be in a good bible-teaching church. She said it is so clear (the plan of salvation) and such a relief. We can stop working so hard. LOL.

Daniel played for 3 teams, in-house, travel and tournament. L. coached two (the first and last) and A. coached one (travel). I shared a little with Coach A. about how I claimed Philippians 4:13 for Daniel but also the entire team.

You are doing a great job with these kids. Thank you for being such a positive role model for Daniel. I have claimed Philippians 4:13 for Daniel but now it seems so fitting for the team.

This was his response. Wow God!

Thanks for the reply. The better these guys get, the more fun it is to coach them. I also need to say thanks again for your previous email. The passage really is fitting for this team. The way He is working in some of these kids has really came through Sunday in how these guys have learned to believe in themselves and be the support their teammates need when they need it.

DK especially has come a long way this year. Last season when he got his head down it was tough to get him out. Just this past Saturday when he was upset in the dugout before the game there was definitely a difference in talking to him. He believes he's a better player and it shows. I'm glad the Lord has worked in these kids to mold them into what they became Sunday. Even if it was just a baseball team. They're all not just better ballplayers, they're better people. That's far more than me constantly telling them to keep their heads up. I know God has worked through this team and I couldn't be more excited.

So on Thursday night I gave him a thank you card and a gift card with encouraging words and another verse. (For the life of me I can't remember it. I guess because it was from the Spirit and not me.) His wife thanked me on Saturday and then he called me Saturday night to personally thank me. I didn't make his day. I made his LIFE. I truly just acted out of obedience to the Lord.

I shared this with Pastor Paul yesterday. I told him that the one coach was a Mormon. Paul asked if that is who I am sharing this with. I said no. I guess I am a little intimidated. I thought about it after our conversation. I would have to just wait for an opportunity. I knew that I would be given one but I need to just be patient.

Guess what? God made a way.

On Saturday the team played a phenomenal game. I was sleeping and missed it. (I'll post Relay pictures soon.) I went to the 4 pm game. The boys were up by five runs when I arrived. The other team battled back. Then our team was up by seven runs. It was 12 to 5. But the pitching was killing us. The one kid was put in for two innings. Then they took him out and put another kid in. We just couldn't get that third out. Then before we knew it, it was 14 to 12 and the two hour time limit was approaching. We were up. The kids needed to score 3 runs to stay in it. Of course they didn't. Game over!

There was no reason that they should have lost that. The kids played hard but for one reason or another, the coaches decided to go with the certain pitchers that they chose. Everyone left thinking "what just happened, and HOW?"

They just were not suppose to win. For some reason we were not to advance to tonights game. I don't have to know the reason why. I just have to be faithful and give God the glory. It was a good season but baseball is now over. We can finally focus on our up and coming Alaskan cruise.

Last night, the conversation with Paul was on my mind. It was after ten and I couldn't sleep. I checked email. There was an email from Leon in response to one I sent about our vacation dates. There are two tournaments in the next month but we believed that we would be on vacation for both. He responded with:

Ok thank you. It was a tough day thinking about the game I blew, the kids played great!

Just then the Spirit moved me. I knew that this was the opportunity I had been praying about. I responded with:

I believe that everything happens for a reason. For some reason, these boys were not to move on. Only God knows that reason. It is just up to us to trust that and learn from it (Proverbs 3:5). Don't beat yourself up about the game. You are a great coach and Daniel has learned so much from you over the last few months.

Just simple words. Nothing outrageous. Nothing to shove religion down anyones throat. Just simple words of encouragement and scripture to back them up.

Then there is the mom who runs the snack bar. I was scheduled to work this past weekend. I found out Wednesday night. I received the email Thursday. All of the parents were livid. We have been planning Relay for a year. It is always the same time (the Friday before Father's Day). I complained along with the other parents, then I came home and read a devotion. And it was about what else...complaining. I forwarded the Proverbs 31 to her and said:

Hi Laura,
I started reading this email yesterday but life got in the way so I didn't finish it until just now. I want to apologize for being part of the complaining. I understand that it is our responsibility as parents to help. As I told Dawn last night, I can give you a good excuse (such as our 24 hour charity benefit that starts at 9am today) as to why I can't serve this weekend. A good excuse is just that, an excuse. But the bottom line is, I need to make other arrangements with a happy heart. It was becoming a burden and undue stress on my side. I understand that this is something you have to deal with ALL the time. I sympathize with you. I prayed for you and Laura this morning. I sincerely hope everything works out this weekend.
As my voicemail said, Dillon has agreed to work for me on Saturday. I will see you tonight for my 6 pm shift. Have a fantastic Friday.

Her response does not stand out as anything that I would remember. But again, another opportunity to share my love for the Lord.

I think we get so intimidated because we want to say the right words and not offend anyone and their believes. I didn't say anything offensive or hard core. I didn't share the Gospel but I did open my mouth and I am certain that God will give me more open doors to share more.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I then threw a load in and went to read in the book of Luke. I started the Gospels last summer and I am only half way through Luke. I hope to finish this book and John by the end of the summer. I put a second load in and decided to sit down and check email again. This is what I found from Proverbs 31 Ministries:

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)

I was searching in my husband’s sock drawer when I found a familiar thick white envelope. I put on my glasses, sat at my vanity and started reading. Tears followed. “Dad, you are my hero.” Ryan penned these words the day my husband, Richard, finished graduate school. The words in the three pages revealed a young man who was not afraid to open his heart and let his dad see inside.
Reading the letter once again made me want to write a letter to my son. I wanted to tell him that I remembered when he was a little boy and he offered drive-by kisses as he ran past. I desired to tell him that when I was an exhausted mother to three toddlers his lopsided smile and Kermit the Frog belly laugh made me happy to be a mom. I longed to tell him that I remembered when he walked behind me, trying to gain my attention with “Mom, Mom, Mama!” I wanted to share that I was sorry when I wasn’t as patient as I should have been. Most of all I wanted to let him know how proud I was of him as a man and how I saw many of the same beautiful traits of his father emerging in him. Why do we leave such precious words unsaid? Words that heal. Words that share the way we feel. Words that become treasures one day when words are all that remain. Today’s key verse from Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that the power isn’t in the tongue as a muscle, but in the words that fall from the tongue. We often talk about the negative words we should hold back, but what about the words that we can freely offer to those we care about? Those are powerful words, indeed. Dear Lord, scripture is filled with words that remind me of Your love. May my tongue be used to affirm, to encourage, to lift up, and to share simple words that say “I love you” to the treasured people You put in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Written by T. Suzanne Eller

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thank you, Teachers!

Here are the lyrics to our current favorite song called Blessings by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
These are the lyrics to Blessings by Laura Story. I copy and pasted them to the inside of each card.

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

I woke this morning still having a broken heart for my child. I decided to hand write thank you cards to the teachers. I cut and paste the lyrics to the inside of each card. The Spirit led me to the individual verse. No two are the same. Will they even look them up? Will they even know how? Only God knows.
Here they are:

Math - $15 Panera
Teachers make a difference in their students’ lives. I’ll never forget all I’ve learned from you.
This is a song that we listened to each morning before starting our school day. As I reflect on this year, I search for only positives. You have taught us about patience. You have taught us about flexibility. You have taught us about mercy but most important, we learned perseverance. Thank you for all of these life lessons. We look forward to starting over. My only regret this year is not building a positive relationship in which is necessary for Amanda to succeed. I wish you blessings in the future. (Philippians 4:13) Sincerely,

Co-math and science - $5 Panera
Thinking of you…
These are the lyrics to one of Amanda’s favorite songs. She listens to it each morning before we leave. My only regret for this year is that we did not build a relationship. Communication is necessary to be successful. We look forward to starting over. Amanda is a blessing in our lives. We are blessed to be chosen to be her parents. Have a safe summer. (Psalm 139:14)

English - $15 Panera
Some days we have to make our own rainbows.
“You can’t have a rainbow without rain.” I want to share a song that we have grown to love over the last few months. We listened to it each morning before going off to school. We believe that there is a reason for everything, whether we understand it or not. We look forward to starting over. We have learned a lot this year. But my greatest regret is not building a relationship in order to help Amanda be successful. Have a summer filled with much joy. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Science - $5 Panera
Some days we have to make our own rainbows.
“You can’t have a rainbow without rain”.
I truly regret not building a relationship with you this year. I know in order to have a successful year, communication is key. I want to share a song that we listen to each morning before starting our school day. I wish you good health and joyful days and nights. (Proverbs 28:20) Sincerely,

Social Studies - $5 Panera
Some days we have to make our own rainbows.
“You can’t have a rainbow without rain”.
My greatest regret this year is that we did not build a relationship to effectively communicate the needs of Amanda. We listened to this song each morning before school. We know that God has a plan even when we can not see the whole horizon. Have a safe and joyful summer. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ADD/ADHD Information

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

Father God,
Good Morning. Thank you for the crisp air and the cool temperatures. I so appreciate the breaks that you give us. Lord, thank You for your mercy. Thank You for loving me when I am not lovable...when I question Your will for my life and Amanda's. I understand now that the meeting had to take place for someone in the room needed to be there. It may not have been me or Curtis, but You will get all of the glory Lord. I ask that You help me show the same mercy to the teachers who are in the dark.
In Jesus Name. AMEN

I said that I wasn't going to blog this. I told God that. I was so upset yesterday and I just didn't want to replay the details again. But I will, for you.

The guidance counselor didn't come to the meeting. He was sick. But the five teachers and another counselor sat in. After about five minutes, one of the teachers spoke up and said "we are suppose to do this for the last four days of school?!" I told her no, that this is to talk about next years plan. Everyone looked at each other. Lack of communication! Ha, that was the theme of the year to say the least.

OK...long story short, yes they trashed Amanda, just like I thought they would. No, I didn't cry. (Miracles do happen). We left there and Curtis said, "did that go well?" I bust out laughing. No! It was a waste of everyone's time. But later I realized (with the help of an email from a friend) that someone in that room needed to meet with us yesterday. Maybe it was Curtis. Most likely it was one of the teachers who needed to be educated on ADD/ADHD.

I came home and spent the next two hours (or so) reseaching the topic...and crying. Every time I would get so angry, a KLove song would come on about how good God is. About how merciful He is. About how faithful He is. None of this is a surprise. God did not forget to give Amanda something to make her "normal". She is exactly the way He intended her to be.

But I do want to share some info about ADD/ADHD that maybe you didn't know. I will be sharing this with the eighth grade teachers, the guidance counselor who didn't show and the one who will be returning in September.

ADD/ADHD is an invisible disorder. You won't see glasses. You won't see hearing aides. You won't see a limp. You won't hear a stutter. To you, she looks "normal". (I hate that word so I will not be using it again. Define normal. Who is normal that you know?) To you, she looks like every other child.

I am going to touch upon three topics that were brought up yesterday: Medication, Laziness and Lying.


The info was taken from just one of many sites. This is the one I chose. Here are the two things that stuck out to me, because I believe that people have this misconception of what the medication is to be doing. But please take the time to read the entire article.

Medication doesn’t cure ADD/ADHD. It can relieve symptoms while it’s being taken, but once medication stops, those symptoms come back.

ADHD medication may help improve the ability to concentrate, control impulses, plan ahead, and follow through with tasks. However, it isn’t a magic pill that will fix all of your or your child’s problems. Even when the medication is working, a child with ADD/ADHD might still struggle with forgetfulness, emotional problems, and social awkwardness, or an adult with disorganization, distractibility, and relationship difficulties.


This is a wonderful article. It is short unlike the medication one that I just urged you to read. I promise, it will only take a few minutes and it will shine great insight on the topic.

Unfortunately, adults and children with ADHD are often labeled as unmotivated, lazy, or even apathetic. These negative labels are unfair and hurtful. Instead of simple laziness or a lack of motivation, this “immobility” or “sluggishness” often reflects the impairments in executive function that can be associated with ADHD.

This sense of paralysis can quickly lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, procrastination, and avoidance, and ultimately results in problems with productivity. It can also result in negative reactions from others who become confused and frustrated by the inconsistencies in the person with ADHD who is able to perform well when the task is stimulating and interesting or when it is novel and exciting, but does not perform as well when the task is tedious or repetitive.

And lastly, the topic of lying. This I felt was a person attack but if the conversation was necessary to educate the educator, then so be it. I sent an email to the teacher regarding a couple of links. I also stated this:

I believe that she feared telling you the truth, just one more person she has let down. I have shed many tears for this child but I have learned over the last seven years not to place my hope in her or a school system or a teacher, for I will be disappointed. I place my hope in the Lord and I know that Amanda is exactly the way He created her to be. She teaches me something new every day. She is a gift. With all that being said, I have attached a couple of links on AD/HD. It is an invisible disorder that no one understands unless they live it or live with someone who has it.
Thank you being Amanda's favorite teacher.

Here is what I knew about lying because we visit this often:

Few things damage the trust of parents of ADHD children as quickly or deeply as habitual lying. I don't mean the little white lies that everyone tells once in a while, but repeated lying that causes conflicts and difficulties

For children with ADHD, lying is often a coping mechanism, albeit a counterproductive one. A lie may be a way to cover up forgetfulness, to avoid criticism or punishment, or to avoid dealing with feelings of guilt and shame over repeated failures.

The information was taken from this article or this one.

So to wrap this up, she has three days left. We will NOT build a relationship with these teachers. We will NOT improve her executive functioning skills. We will NOT have another meeting regarding Amanda and her lack of everything.

We did however learn a lot this year. We learned about mercy. We learned about patience. We learned about grace. And we most certainly learned about flexibility. We learned that there are people who will never understand. And we learned that just maybe through our mess, they will receive the message that God loves us all and created us just the way we are. Don't try to change us. Just accept us, for He does not see our faults and flaws. God will love us for who we are! Click here for that musical reminder.

The flowing is an email that was sent just at that moment when I was truly on the edge (a puddle of mess bawling). Thank you so much, dear friend. I am blessed that God has led you to me.

It sounds like it was a rough morning! The e-mail that you wrote to the English teacher has a loving tone to it...and I think that it will be well received. Most likely, the guidance counselor that works with you is truly sick, and could not attend. It does sound, however, like there was a miscommunication and the meeting was more like a Parent/Teacher conference than planning for a 504.

However, I concur with you...there are no mistakes in God's Agenda Book, and most likely, this meeting needed to occur...maybe for someone in that room other than you, Curtis, or Amanda!?

Thank you for being willing to be an instrument of His peace, love, & mercy...even when many emotions are in turmoil within you. Remember, God always goes before us and "fights" our battles for us...the victory is already won! Thank you for being Amanda's Mom...who will continue to work with her to develop the the "fruit of the Spirit" and teach her that God does not give us a "spirit of fear", but of a sound mind. Amanda will learn that it is OK to make mistakes...people who truly love her (especially her heavenly Father) DO NOT think less of her & are not disappointed in her... therefore, she does not have to lie, as it is "safe" to tell the truth! Keep on keeping on my Sister! Love You Lots! El

Monday, June 13, 2011

Birthday Cards...a long post!

A faithful man (or woman) shall abound with blessings. Proverbs 28:20

Amanda received her first birthday card on Saturday. I made her wait until this morning to read it. It is from our friend, Miss Kathy.

She writes:

My prayer for you on this Special 13th birthday is that you will understand how much God loves you. You are precious to Him (and to us too!) We know you as smart, creative and wonderfully spontaneous. God sees you as a favored daughter - sparkling like a jewel in a crown.

We have been up since 5 am working on a science packet that some how was forgotten over the weekend in the midst of completing a math packet and a social studies packet. In defense of the teachers, there was adequate time given. We just like to wait for the last minute to do our best work. LOL.

I will be back with pictures and more words about this teenage.


Happy Birthday Amanda!!

Dear Amanda,

You are a very special young lady. I want to take a few minutes to remind you of a few important things. First, remember your identity is in Christ and you have a spiritual blessing.

Ephesians 1:3-14 - Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he[c] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen,[d] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

The world will offer you many things to identify yourself - clothes, make-up, even attitudes and behaviors. There is nothing wrong with nice things but never loose sight of the most important thing about you and that is Jesus loves you and died to save you. You are forgiven and live in freedom to be just who God made you to be!

Second, your identity is in your family. You have two great parents (and a great little brother even though you don't think that right now). God has given your parents authority in your life, you are wise to obey them, honor them and seek their counsel.

Exodus 20:12
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Third your identity is as a young woman. It is a wonderful and fun thing to be a girl! There will be choices in life where you will face compromising that beauty and strength. Be confident in your heart that loving God and loving others is the most precious gift you can share. There is nothing weak or frail about being a woman, but you do have a choice about what kind of woman you will be. Strength and confidence is best displayed in love, compassion, grace and humility. It is not in demanding attention or flaunting your beauty.

Forth, you are surrounded by people who love you. God has given you a father who loves you, cares for you, protects you and provides for you. Be thankful for him! God has also given you women in your life who you know you want to be like. I would recommend your mom at the top of that list. Think about who these women are and remember you can trust them and turn to them anytime and for any reason.

Finally remember dear sweet one you are a role model too. Little girls including my Olivia look up to you. Take that role seriously, and allow it to be accountability for you all through life.
I love you I am one of those women who will be here for you anytime and for any reason. Have a wonderful birthday. I love you!!
Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!
Today you are thirteen. You have grown in to such a lovely young lady, beautiful both inside and out. I just finished reading a “Girlfriends in God” devotion and these words are just what I want to share with you:

Each and every one of us has great significance to the Father who cares for us as if we were His only child. If you have ever felt insignificant in your little part of the world, know that nothing could be further from the truth. God treasures you, my dear daughter. You are important to Him.

This is the verse on Klove’s webpage today. I am claiming this as your life verse. It is just fitting.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

From a very early age we knew you were gifted in song. Honor the Lord with that ability.

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth”. Psalm 96:1

From an early age we knew you were gifted in dance. Honor the Lord with that ability.

Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. Psalm 149:3

From an early age we knew you were bold. Honor the Lord and be bold for His name.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
2 Corinthians 3:12

From an early age we knew you were a servant. Honor the Lord by serving others.

”Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:3-5

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”. Psalm 139:14

Amanda Grace. I think you are wonderful and beautiful. We have had many stumbling blocks in our path but together, with Christ, we can do all things.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13

Keeping being the awesome person that God created you to be. Remember, I love you, but God loves you more!
Dear Amanda:
Happy 13th birthday to my only God Daughter! I remember when you were just a dream of your parents'. I remember when you were an anticipated cousin for baby Kayla (who was merely six weeks old when she "whispered" to your Mommy's belly to "come out" and you did the next day!) I remember you as Kayla's sidekick for so long and this makes me smile. It seems like yesterday that some of this happened but somehow you are a teenager! I wish you the best everyday and in everything that you do. Be stronger and braver than you think you can be. Be yourself and be happy. I love you and who you've grown into. Below are song lyrics that I want to share with you on YOUR DAY!!

You got what it takes you can win,
Today is your day to begin.
So don't give up here, don't you quit.
The moment is now, this is it
Because today is your day
And nothing can stand in your way
And today is your day
And everything's goin' your way
Oh today
When somebody throws sticks and stones
All they can break are your bones
Cause life's gonna kick around
And kick you again when your down

Because today is your day
And nothing can stand in your way
I said today is your day
And everything's goin' your way
Yeah today

Just take one step at a time
Oh I promise that you will be fine
I say today

Love Aunt Jeannette

Dear Amanda,
Happy 13th birthday! As you celebrate this most important birthday, I pray that you remember some very important lessons I have learned.

Always seek God first.
Make choices based on God's Word.
Ask forgiveness from those you have hurt.
Never compromise what God wants you to do.
Do your very best at ALL times.
Always be truthful.

Love Ms. Robyn

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Your Hands

I forgot about this song until Amanda played it last night. It was just so appropriate to hear at the end of a stressful day.

Click here to listen to JJ Heller's song.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yea, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You when...

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...
I never leave Your hands

504 Plan Revisited

Letter to the principal on June 1st.

I wanted to discuss revising Amanda’s 504 plan with Mrs. W but I was advised that she no longer works for the middle school. Therefore, I would like to discuss it with whoever took her place. I apologize for missing the memo and feel foolish for not knowing the replacement’s name. Please forgive me.

Attached are suggestions given to me by a Learning Disability Teacher/Consultant. I have also been advised by my employer, Director of Family Support. We would like to inquire if there is an EYS (extended year services) program that Amanda would qualify for in the math area. My employers twelve year old son is a student at another middle school in our district and has participated in this program each summer.

Amanda has a 504 plan for a reason and somewhere it just came up short, especially in math. I would like to revisit it. Please advise me as to how to go about doing this.

With that being stated, I look forward to hearing from you.

This is a suggestion from my friend:

Our commitment as a parent is to follow through making sure that Amanda completes her homework. We will permit her schedule after school to allow for several hours of homework. I would like to discuss having the 504 Plan read as follows:

• Provide a 2nd set of textbooks/novels to be kept at home. Allow Amanda to use a class text during school. (Slightly different than current wording)
• Provide directions for homework & long term assignments in writing.
• When working on group projects, place Amanda in a group that will maximize her ability to work and minimize distractions & disorganization. Use of peer buddy, as appropriate.
• Provide study guides at least 2 days prior to tests/quizzes.
• Due to executive functioning weaknesses, establish a homework planner system in which Amanda records her homework for a given subject and the teacher initials. Parents check & initial planner each night.
• Morning check-in with teacher to make sure that Amanda is organized and has assignments ready to submit.
• Allow Amanda to use a "Homework Folder" or other system that helps to develop her executive functioning skills.
• Alert the parents immediately by phone or e-mail when Amanda fails to submit homework or class work assignment on due date.
• After parents have been alerted by phone or e-mail, allow Amanda to submit missing assignment(s) without penalty while executive functioning skills are being strengthened, the next day.
• Work with Amanda to establish a plan that can be used in class to help bring her back to task when she has difficulty focusing & completing tasks. (Positive, not negative)
• Preferential seating closest to the area of instruction/instructor.
• Divide workload into manageable chunks. Remind Amanda to check for errors before submitting work to teacher.
• Extended time for classroom tests/quizzes, as needed. Small group testing, when possible.
• Standardized Tests: Test will be given in a small group in a separate room, extended time as needed, Directions read & clarified.

I am hoping to meet with the guidance counselor next week so that we may end the year strong and have everything in place to start off fresh for eighth grade.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Critical Factors in Working With ADD/ADHD Children

Just as I am having a melt-down over the loss of Amanda's cell phone, I receive this email from my dear friend who works with children with special needs. Does God know exactly what we need, when we need it and how we need it?! The guidance counselor called today to see when I could meet him (he's new) and the team in regards to updating her 504 Plan. I guess we are blazing the trail for an ADHD child who will be in their class next year.

From Sandra Rief:

Teacher flexibility, commitment, and willingness to work with the student on a personal level. This means putting forth the time, energy, and extra effort required to really listen to students, be supportive, and make changes and accommodations as needed.

Training & knowledge about ADD/ADHD. It is essential that teachers are aware that this problem is physiological and biological in nature.

Modifying assignments, cutting the written workload! What takes an average child 20 minutes to do, often takes an ADHD student hours to accomplish (particularly written assignments). There is no need to do EVERY worksheet, math problem, or definition. Be OPEN to making exceptions. Allow student to do a more reasonable amount (eg. every other problem, half a page). Ease up on handwriting requirements and demands for these students. Be sensitive to the extreme physical effort it takes these children to put down in writing what appears simple to you.

Limit the amount of homework. Be flexible...cut homework down to a manageable amount. If student is not able to complete classwork, do not send home in addition to homework, as it is unlikely student will be able to complete it that evening. You will need to prioritize & modify.

Providing more time on assessments. These students (often very intelligent children) frequently know the information, but can't get it down, particularly on tests. Be flexible in permitting students with these needs to have extra time to take tests, or/and allow them to be assessed verbally.

Teacher sensitivity about embarrassing or humiliating students in front of peers. Self-esteem is fragile; students with ADD/ADHD typically perceive themselves as failures. Avoid ridicule. Avoid projecting failure. Perservation of sef-esteem is the primary factor in truly helping these children succeed in life.

Assistance with organization. Students with ADD/ADHD have major problems with organization and study skills. They need help and additional intervention to make sure assignments are recorded correctly,their work space and materials are organized, notebooks and desks are cleared of unnecessary collections of junk from time to time, and specific study skill strategies are used.

Value students' differences and help bring out their strengths. Provide many opportunities for children to demonstrate to their peers what they do well. Recognize diversity of learning styles and individual approaches in you classroom.

Belief in the student---not giving up when plans A,B,and C don't work. There are always plans D, E, F,...Success will require going back to the drawing board fequently. These children are worth the extra time and effort! Example - Plan A is for Amanda to bring her calculator to class. Plan B is for parents to send an extra calculator to be kept in the classroom for Amanda to use, if/when plan A fails.

Wonderful Wednesday

Friday is my last day with the Good Apples. I will be off until September!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Love is Patient

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

The following is the first chapter of The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Some words have been replaced from a “marriage term” (husband, wife, marriage) to a more general term. No matter what the question is, the answer is LOVE.

Love is patient

Be completely humble and gentle: be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Love works. It is life’s most powerful motivator and has far greater depth and meaning than most people realize. It always does what is best for others and can empower us to face the greatest of problems. We are born with a lifelong thirst for love. Our hearts desperately need it like our lungs need oxygen. Love changes our motivation for living. Relationships become meaningful with it. No relationship is successful without it.

Love is built on two pillars that best define what it is. Those pillars are patience and kindness. All other characteristics of love are extensions of these two attributes. And that’s where your dare will begin. With patience.

Love will inspire you to become a patient person. When you choose to be patient, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation. You are slow to anger. You choose to have a long fuse instead of a quick temper. Rather than being restless and demanding, love helps you settle down and begin extending mercy to those around you. Patience brings an internal calm during an external storm.

No one likes to be around an impatient person. It causes you to overreact in angry, foolish, and regrettable ways. The irony of anger toward a wrongful action is that it spawns new wrongs of its own. Anger almost never makes things better. In fact, it usually generates additional problems. But patience stops problems in their tracks. More than biting your lip, more than clapping a hand over your mouth, patience is a deep breath. It clears the air. It stops foolishness from whipping its scorpion tail all over the room. It is a choice to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you, and shows discretion instead of returning evil for evil.

If someone offends you, do you quickly retaliate, or do you stay under control? Do you find that anger is your emotional default when treated unfairly? If so, you are spreading poison rather than medicine.

Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed with disappointment or grief. You don’t get what you want and you start heating up inside. It is often an emotional reaction that flows out of our own selfishness, foolishness, or evil motives.

Patience, however, makes us wise. It doesn’t rush to judgment but listens to what the other person is saying. Patience stands in the doorway where anger is clawing to burst in, but waits to see the whole picture before passing judgment. The Bible says, “He who is slow to anger has great understanding but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).

As sure as a lack of patience will turn your life into a war zone, the practice of patience will foster peace and quiet. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” (Proverbs 15:18). Statements like these from the Bible book of Proverbs are clear principles with timeless relevance. Patience is where love meets wisdom. And every relationship needs that combination to stay healthy.

Patience helps you give someone permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time than they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the tough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure.

What would the tone of your life be like if you tried this biblical approach: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

Few of us do patience very well, and none of us do it naturally. But wise men and women will pursue it as an essential ingredient to their relationships. That’s a good starting point to demonstrate true love.

This Love Dare journey is a process, and the first thing you must resolve to possess is patience. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. But it’s a race worth running.

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
1 John 2:6

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Prayer for the Apples

On Friday, the Good Apples classroom ran so smoothly. We are allowed to have ten three-year-olds by ourself, yes TEN. No cameras, no millions, so Kate Gosselin has it EASY! (By the way, I am seven years older than Kate, just googled that!)

Anyway...once that eleventh child comes in, you have to add a second teacher. We had twelve all morning. And they were so obedient. We also had a therapeutic support person to help with one of the children. So it felt like it was a twelve to three ratio instead of ten to one. LOL.

Before each meal I pray. And this was my prayer:

"Whew, God. It was such a great morning we almost didn't need you."

I have also said that if we had days like that everyday, we wouldn't need Jesus.

I shared that with a few people, and we all giggled. This morning I received a message from my dear friend who said "maybe the room was perfect and was peaceful b/c Jesus was there! His presence in our lives brings the peace :)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

YES. She is so true. I need to remember that the peace that the classroom is experiencing is because of the presence of Jesus. Now when the classroom is crazy crazy, Jesus is still there. Don't mistake my reference. He is always present. But those times when we think "this is almost boring" are the times that we can truly feel Him close.

Just thought I'd share.

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Hope is in the Lord.

Father God,
I want to pray for Amanda's math teacher. Oh, I just can't stand him. I think he is unreasonable. I think he is unfair. I think he shows a prejudice against my child. But Lord, I know that You have placed this person and this situation in my life to work out the sin in my heart. Show me how to love this person. Show me how to be more like You. May my attitude reflect the heart of Jesus. May my daughter's heart reflect the heart of Jesus. He may not know you Lord. We may be the only Jesus he will ever meet. Let us represent your grace and your mercy. In Jesus precious name. Amen.

Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. Psalm 37:1-8

My sweet friend had me read this last night when we got together. I was going to just DRINK my broken heart out. We chose Panera and had a yummy caramel drink. (If I drank anything harder I most likely wouldn't stop. So I choose not to).

We talked for a few hours. She is always so uplifting. Just seeing her makes my heart joyful. God is just so amazing with His timing. I have five more days of work remaining. It will be a very tough summer. It will require much diligence in the finance department. We have come to rely on this money for groceries and all of our extra spending. We recently received an order from Rohrbach Farm, so our freezer is packed with our meats. But I know that the Lord will provide. He always does.

This morning as I lay in bed, I feel weary. SEVEN years we have been fighting with the school district. SEVEN. I remember when Amanda was in first grade. I remember laying in bed crying. I remember saying that no one is going to fight for our daughter. That we are going to be her advocate. I remember saying those words. God reminded me of those words this morning. And we have been, me and God. I don't place my hope in a 504 Plan. I don't place my hope in a school district. And I certainly don't and never will place my hope in a teacher. Because if you place your hope in anything other than Jesus Christ, you will be disappointed time and time again.

I talked to the guidance counselor yesterday morning. He said he would follow-up with the teachers and review the previous 504 plans. When I got home and checked my email, there was one from her math teacher:

"My concern still remains that Amanda needs to work harder and take things more serious…especially in a class in which she struggles. Showing up for class unprepared without a calculator for this test is almost telling me that she wants to fail. We are more than willing to help Amanda but at some point Amanda must learn to help herself as well..."

I was fired up. I called the guidance counselor and talked to him again. After I hung up the phone, I thought "I like this guy". I am hopeful that this will be taken care of the way that God wants it taken care of. Not because I know these people love the Lord. But because my HOPE IS IN THE LORD. Amanda and I need to just continue to pray about this subject and truly pray for this math teacher. It continues to perplex me as to how people can think that children with handicaps will some day mature out of them. This is not something you out grow. This is something that you learn modifications for. I do it on a daily basis. But Amanda is only twelve. She will learn how to keep herself organized. It will most likely not look the same way as you and I would do it. But she will develop her own system. That is what WE TEACHERS DO. We teach.

This teacher does not have to love my kid. It's not in his contract. He does not even have to like my kid. Again, not in the contract. But he does have to TEACH MY KID. That is in his contract.

I ask that you continue to pray for us. Pray that we can truly reflect the heart of Jesus to this teacher who lacks patience and mercy for anyone who does not fit in to the "round hole" life he lives in.