Monday, January 11, 2016

The Blue RIbbon Project

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” I Thessalonians 5:11a

     This year’s Christmas Eve service at Beach Cities Church was unbelievable!  We had the most amazing time under a huge tent at Newport Back Bay.  The music and celebration was so special.  Pastor Kent told a special story (kind of a Chicken Soup for the Soul kind of story) about a young man who received a blue ribbon as an encouragement from an employer.  He was then asked to pass on a ribbon to someone else and a final ribbon given to a third person.  The ending was very powerful!  We were then asked to do the same as a congregation…pass on a ribbon with a word of encouragement to someone who’s impacted our lives, with 2 additional ribbons to then be passed on by that recipient. 
     It took me a while to decide who I was giving that ribbon to.  Honestly, I am blessed in my life to be able to think of MANY people to whom I could have given that ribbon.  I just waited.  Then, it hit me.  I gave it to a sixth grader at my school who has come to test several of my struggling  2nd graders on their 1st grade site words.  He comes almost weekly.  He brings a friend or two sometimes.  He has NEVER told his teacher he does this!  I never even had him in my own class…just for reading intervention.  He does it without looking for anything in return (except an occasional Starburst).  He is definitely not a strong reader, and probably struggles with some of the words himself once in a while, but he is faithful to come!  A few other boys dropped out of volunteering early on when they realized it wasn’t anything super exciting.  Aaron kept coming.
     I had encouraged Aaron early on, explaining that I couldn’t test the kids every week but they would make greater strides in reading with his help.  I also told him how much the students would grow to like him and look forward to him coming.  He rarely misses!  And guess what…these kids are growing leaps and bounds in their reading.  It was the greatest gift to explain in front of our class what the blue ribbon represented and why he was getting it.  This picture shows just a few of the kids he’s been reading with.  I’ve never seen this young man glow like he did when I honored him in front of the class.  The kids working with him were so proud as well.  It was one of the greatest highlights in my 21 years of teaching. 
     I am so reminded of the power of encouragement through this challenge.  I am also starting a new challenge for myself in the classroom that will hopefully impact every kid every day.  Here it is:
Give every kid a compliment every day! 
This will be my motto for 2016..and probably for every class every year.  I am excited to see what happens in Room 28 for the remainder of the year.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Uncovered Treasure

     My sister lost her wedding ring on a walk with her dog months ago, her prized wedding ring.  She went searching daily for months.  She retraced her footsteps, put up reward signs, had an entire community pulling together looking with her for her most precious possession.  She even rented a metal detector, looked through her house several times and went on the trails she’s covered with her dog over and over with that thing.  It was lost for MONTHS!  The key word…WAS lost and now is FOUND!!!  It was found a couple of days after she got the replacement from insurance.  Crazy, huh?  It took ages for her to finally agree to a replacement through insurance...and then just a couple days later, she found the original!  When Sarah found her original ring, it was under a pile of leaves, dirty, grungy, and needed lots of TLC and cleaning to get it back to that sparkly new luster it had when she lost it. She had walked by this same spot many many times before never seeing her ring. You can read all about it on her website at  My first thought was, “AWESOME!  She got it back!  That is a miracle!”  And I still believe it all is, especially if you take the time to read just how incredible the story is as told by Sarah.  It’s unbelievable! 
I also got to thinking a little more deeply about how Sarah’s story is so much like our faith, so much like how we are toward God.  He doesn’t move.  He’s there just like her priceless wedding ring.  Sometimes He gets covered up by the chaos of life, by our determination to believe He isn’t around, that He doesn’t care, that we are fine without Him.  All the while He’s unmoving, unchanging.  He is waiting for us to reach out to Him to find Him because He is always there.  Sometimes we feel like we have to come shining and gleaming…perfect.  But that’s exactly why He’s here for us.  He wants us to come to Him and watch Him do the “cleaning” in our lives.  Just like Sarah’s ring, the original is so much more precious eventhough it needed some deep cleaning.  Nothing but the original really suffices.  So often, I am chasing after “fillers” or “replacements” that cannot compare to my original, deep and personal relationship with God Himself.  Sometimes, I need to truly search for Him and work through the muck of what comes in life to find the One True Original Only God in my life.