Sunday, July 27, 2014

Secret Location

     Yesterday was our first Car Rallye (yep, that's the way it's spelled) with Braille Institute.  The blind kiddos are the navigator for drivers who bring their decked out cars to Los Angeles.  The parking lot was full of 48 cars...."Old Fashioned" ones, police cars, vintage ones, Porsches, Back-to-the-Future styled DeLoreans, souped-up everythings, Vipers, smart cars.  Basically, you name it, it may have been there.  It was a sight to see...and watching the kids feel their way around their cars was awesome!
     The coolest thing about the event is there is a secret location only a few parents (who ask until they find out like me) and the organizers know about.  The drivers are expected to take direction from the students who read the directions in Braille.  The drivers CAN read the Large-Print directions if they choose, but they are not allowed to run for the winners' categories if they do so.  They totally trust this blind child sitting next to them.  It's so stinkin' cool!
     I was one of the few parents to hang out with the kids since I was new to the event and like to see what these things are all about before trusting anyone with my kid for 4 hours in a car alone.  I was so thankful Taylor was with a husband and wife team.  They seemed great enough to spend the day with Taylor.  I watched the send off and figured I'd meet up with them at the secret location several hours later. Off they went.  I LOVED BEING THERE!

      I got to meet up with Taylor, Miss Patty, and Mr. Skip after 4 hours!!!  They literally spent the entire time driving, taking direction from an 11-year-old blind girl, and getting to know each other a little better along the way.  Taylor found out this couple lost their 40-something year-old son to cancer about a year ago.  She told them how sorry she was.  They found out her secret boyfriend is Scotty McCreary when his song belted out of the radio.  She told them about her sister, her parents.  They told her how much fun they have spending time with children and giving back to the community since they don't have grandchildren of their own.  Taylor was exhausted after the drive, and Patty and Skip let me know she was their first navigator who hadn't fallen asleep on the road! 
     As I was driving home, I realized this event is much like life with Jesus.  I am born into the world, and as soon as we make our entrance, we're rushed off to the great game of Life.  We can have the directions in our Bibles and through prayer, but really we have no idea what the exact directions for our life say.  For Christians, we know our "secret location" is Heaven, and I know I get to be reunited with my Father and family one day.  In the meantime, I'm doing my best to navigate the way and making mistakes en route.  It's comforting knowing the Lord is truly doing the driving and my back is covered if I get too far off track.  I love that He allows us to make mistakes and guides us back onto the right path.  He doesn't just take over, He wants us to experience the thrill of the ride all the while being right there with us.  Sometimes, it's totally painful and other times we're riding the mountaintops.  One day we get to make it to our not-so-secret Secret Location! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

5th Grader of the Year

    "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."  Hebrews 10:24-25

     I'd been dreading the last day of elementary school for about 2 years now.  There are no words to describe the gratitude we have for every student and teacher, staff member and parent at Smith Elementary School.  Everyone was amazing from the first day of Kindergarten with Lauren to the last day of 5th grade with Taylor.  We tried to do what we could to thank them over the years, but it was in June that things just really felt totally overwhelming emotionally. 
     Several parents and I put together a luncheon thanking the staff for their many years of dedication to those of us whose youngest child was moving on to middle school.  It was a way of looking back over the years and thanking teachers for their love and support for our children.  I look back at the way the Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers took a chance on Taylor without knowing what kind of experience it would be for them, for us, for the other children, for anyone.  They never doubted themselves or Taylor's abilities once.  The other children and parents at Smith embraced Taylor the moment they saw her which was 2 years before she ever started Kindergarten because she'd be with me dropping off and picking up Lauren.  It was remarkable.
     The last week of 5th grade is a special awards ceremony.  Parents are welcome, and students are given awards for academics, attendance, responsibility, citizenship, artistic talents, and several others.  There is one award honoring a 5th grader each year.  Taylor received that honor. 
     We had no idea and almost didn't make this assembly a priority because of our work commitments.  It wasn't that we didn't think it was important or special, it was just trying to figure out what we could miss work for and what we couldn't this last week of school.  There are so many different events that come up.  I am SOOOOO thankful we were there!  We asked my parents to go, and my aunt visiting from Spokane was there too.
     The emotions of the month welled up inside me as I realized they were going to honor Taylor. Mrs. Beck, our principal, read a paragraph of Taylor's accomplishments and mentioned that at Outdoor Science School a huge group of her classmates helped her reach a steep peak, guiding her and cheering her on those last grueling steps.  (After the ceremony, I just let it all go with my dad's arm around my shoulder.  It was completely overwhelming.)  I realized all the people involved in making this award happen. Every teacher, every student, every parent, each staff member had been a part of Taylor receiving this award.  If it could ever have been given to an entire class this was the year.  Taylor's successes are only because of all the people who surround her.  The encouragement she's received from Day 1 has gotten her where she is.  The belief that she can do all things through Christ who gives her strength (Phillipians4:13) is evident in what she does and who she is.  The understanding of building others up and spurring one another on to do good works (Hebrews 10:24) is how she gets it done.  Never before have I seen so clearly how the Body of Christ can work and has to work for God to move mightily!  And to think I almost missed it
     How many times have I almost missed God's timing or have I missed His calling?  I am beyond grateful for this experience in so many ways.  How many times do I almost miss it, and how many times do I miss out on working together with others because I think I can get it done?  Taylor's award was representative of mountains being moved TOGETHER! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Just Say Yes

     This has been a fantastic few weeks...insane scheduling and chaotic time, but fantastic!!!  Lauren has reluctantly said yes to a couple of things that have had huge payoffs.  The "Yes Attitude" has paid off in tremendous ways!
     Lauren was a catcher in our championship tournament for softball a few weeks ago.  She hasn't played catcher since she was in the 8U division, (5 years ago!) and she only played 2 weeks back then.  She had a blast using her regular mitt rather than the specific catcher's mitt, calling pitches, seeing the game from a completely different angle, and even held the runners at their bases.  She looked like a bit of a pro, not that I'm biased or anything!  She was afraid of being in that spot but said yes anyway.  It paid off!
     A week later, she was partnered up as a "Buddy" for a special needs child at Beach Cities Church's weeklong camp.  She was not too excited about this volunteer position, but we discussed committing to the role for the first week of camp since it was where the staff felt she would best be utililized.  (I told her if she wasn't comfortable with it, she could take on a different job for the 2nd week of camp.)  She reluctantly agreed.  Well, we found out she was Buddied with our dear friend Scotty.  He is a 6 year-old vibrant, handsome, charming, energetic little guy who happens to have a mild case of Cerebral Palsy.  Scotty and Lauren bonded immediately!  Each day he would run from his parents to Lauren as soon as he saw her on campus.  It was beautiful!
     I saw reluctant and hesitant "yeses" turn into some pretty special moments and memories.  How often am I reluctant to say Yes to the Lord because it just doesn't seem to fit into my schedule, my plan, my desires?  I loved seeing Lauren's yes turn into these beautiful memories, and I can certainly look back with fondness at the times I've trusted the Lord and said yes when I feel that nudge (or push) to go for it.  I guess the lesson  for me is to Just Say Yes!!!