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Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Break


Thanksgiving has come and gone! Soon, Christmas will be upon us...the music has already started (ugh)! So, my Thanksgiving break was great. I had a 2 1/2 hour delay in Chicago but I finally made it home around 2 am on Wednesday morning. My wonderful sister-in-law was kind enough to pick me up. The next day my wonderful sister-in-law again was kind enough to drive me to conway to meet my mom. My cousin was there to surprise me which was one of the best surprises i've had in a long time. We (my cuz and I) spent practically the rest of the night hanging out...I killed her in "speed" and "rummy"...i'm pretty good at card games, i'll take anyone on! ;)


Thursday was a great day. We went to my mamaw's for lunch and just hung out. My neice is so funny. She sings and talks all the time! Its amazing how much a child grows in only 3 months. She even counted to 10 one day! I was like...ummm....she's a genious! And then Friday came...the dreaded AR vs. LSU game was on...and I, of course, was being very negative...especially since McFadden fumbled on the 1st two plays! But, alas....after 4 tourturous hours...the Hogs beat the Tigers 60-58 in 3 overtimes! It was amazing and I about lost my voice screaming at the tv! Saturday was also good, I went shopping with my mom and then we went out to dinner with my family. It was great...sweet tea, yum yum! Finally, I went and hung out with my bff Lori. It was good to see her because I hadn't in so long!! Sunday I flew back to Chicago...had another delay-only 45 minutes that time, so it wasn't too bad!


So, all in all, it was a great Thanksgiving. I enjoyed it a lot and I loved seeing my family. I know it's only been 3 months, but it seems like a lot longer when you live so far away. I was kinda ready to come back, tho, cuz it gets old fast living out of a suitcase. Also, seeing my kids almost 6 days a week for like 10 weeks, and then not seeing them for 5 days kinda made me miss them! I was very ready for work today!


Speaking of work, its going great. It amazes me how bad behaved our kids are! LOL Nah, I'm just kidding but yeah, they can be a handful. I just love 'em to death though. Please pray for them. Gosh, they need it...and keep praying for me, they wear me out every single day. I like it that way, cuz I wanna come home everyday knowing that I gave it all I could that day...cuz, they deserve it!


Love u all!

"I am only one, but I am one; I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do; And what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do." Unknown

Monday, November 19, 2007

What Makes God, God?





Sometimes I grab my "Grace for the Moment" book by Max Lucado and read the daily verse and thoughts that he has written. I read today's and knew he had written it just for me! So, I thought i'd share it with my "many" readers today:

"If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful, because he cannot be false to himself." 2 Tim 2:13
"God's blessings are dispensed according to the riches of his grace, not according to the depth of our faith...
Why is that important to know? So you (I) won't get cynical. Look around you. Aren't there more mouths than bread? Aren't there more wounds than physicians? Aren't there more who need the truth than those who tell it?
So what do we do? Throw up our hands and walk away? Tell the world we can't help them?
No, we don't give up!!!! WE LOOK UP. We trust. We believe. And our OPTIMISM IS NOT HOLLOW. Christ has proven worthy. He has shown that HE NEVER FAILS. That's what makes God, God."

The situation may look hopeless. The world around us gets worse and worse each passing day. Its way bigger than me. But, Christ has overcome the world. And, I will NOT give up. I will BELIEVE. I will TRUST. And, I will KNOW that He never fails. And, everyday, I will look up to him and I will know that the battle has already been won. I will put on my armor, I will walk out that door and I will choose to believe that a situation is never hopeless and choose to believe that today, I will make a difference. Today, Christ will move in impossible ways. And today, I will NOT GIVE UP, I WILL LOOK UP.

Tomorrow I go home...yippppppieeee!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Education

So, I hope that most agree with me when I say that the Chicago Public School Systems as well as pretty much all Public Schools systems have "much to be desired." Most are failing enormously to give our underprivileged kids the help and education that they desperately need. One man, (whom I particularly love!), has written several books on social injustice as well as the need for better school systems in the inner-cities of America. His name is Jonathon Kozol. I've read a couple of his books, one called Shame of the Nation, which was very good. He recently did an interview in which I really agree with him that we need a systemic change in our education system.

One thing in particular Kozol says in the interview is that No Child Left Behind has driven away "superbly educated, high-spirited teachers" who leave, not because of the kids, but because of the "absolute decapitation of potential in children that is the unintended consequence of an agenda that strips down the curriculum in order to teach only isolated skills that will appear on an exam."About charter schools he says, "Despite their claims that their schools are not selective in the students they enroll, the kids whose parents even hear about these schools and whose parents know how to navigate the application process are inherently self-selective."I know of parents in Chicago who start when their kids are two and three to research the system and to position their children to be accepted into the best schools. The children of uneducated parents or those who have recently immigrated to this country are left behind in increasingly disfuntional schools.Kozol's suggestions...
-Give standardized exams less often and rely instead on diagnostic tests.
-Require that states certify that class size in an urban district is at the same level as the size in an affluent suburban district and that every child receive the same years of preschool education before a standardized exam is used.
-Amend the transfer provision to require that states facilitate the right to transfer across district lines to enable the parents of inner-city children who are in chronically failing schools to place ther children in high-performing and better-funded public schools.
-Get rid of the property tax almost entirely as the basis of school funding or pool the property taxes into a common pool and distribute those funds equitably to every single child in the state. Kozol doesn't lose heart about education because "there are far more marvelous teachers in these urban schools than you would ever guess if you listen to the politicians who condemn them... The high morale of our teachers is our most precious asset. If they lose their delight in being with the children, they won't stay, and we'll lose everything."

Weird thing? When I decided that I didn't want to do Teach For America they asked me to explain to them why I had opted out of the process. I told them, "I feel as though we have put way too much emphasis on testing and it leaves our kids only learning the stuff needed to get the schools to look better and improve their standards. And, I want to be a part of a system that lets us develop relationships with the kids as well as help them excel in education." I am so glad that I didn't decide to do TFA, I'm pretty sure Breakthrough is EXACTLY where God wants me right now.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

WHY?


Soo...this is not the first time nor the last time I will ask WHY? Why God, oh WHY? So, today was amazing. We had a group from a church up north come up and bring about 25 volunteers in to help build these carpet ball tables. And, some of our 6-8th graders came to help out. It was soooo fun. From 10 am till 3:00 we just had fun. One of the ladies from the other church made the comment to Bill, "You know, I thought it would be our kids working really hard and your kids sitting around or goofing off; and it ended up being the exact opposite. Your kids worked really hard." It was really awesome to see that others seen how AMAZING our kids really are. I mean, I had so much fun just working side-by-side with them. But, yeah, the reason I ask why is because you know, I look at these beautiful children. And, I see the personalities and the creativity and the wonderfulness of them and know that soon, their lives will take it out of them. Their lives will continue to progress just like now, but the hardness and reality of the poverty they live in and the destitution they live in will come up and bite them in the butt. Today, I witness something that brought me to tears. One of our kids, who is such a JOYFUL person. Which is surprising to say because most of our kids are anything but joyful. Just not an emotion you see much with them. Anyways, like always, she was being her silly self just hanging out. We were done with the tables and were playing them (Its actually a really fun game); when her mom buzzes on the door. Now, I must admit, I had never met her mom. And, I was surprised because apparently she has had a stroke and one side of her kinda droops. She is a small woman but intimadated me from the moment she walked in. She immediately started in on the girl. Yelling at her because she didn't call home, which she had but her little sister didn't tell her mom. So then she proceeded to yell at her little sister for a minute. Then just like that, she asked if I would bring her home and then she walked out and left. I looked at this beautiful girl. I have never noticed before this moment how poor she was. More importantly though, I had never noticed in that moment how STRONG she was. You could tell it affected her but after a moment or two...she was okay. After I dropped her off, I just cried because, WHY? Why does she have to live in that? Why does any of my kids have to live in that enviornment. And i'm not just talking about the poverty but i'm talking about the other kind of poverty-the poverty of no love. The poverty of no care and kindness. It broke my heart today. And, everytime I see these parents or see their homes or see the incredible pain these kids go through, it makes me want to love on them even more. I don't want to feel sorry for them, because thats not what they need, because feeling sorry for them doesn't really help but I do want to love them. Love them because I know God's heart is for the poor. He mentions the poor over 2,000 times in the bible. Must be a pretty important topic, then, huh? I want to push them and teach them about who they are in Christ. That it doesn't matter even what your own FAMILY SAYS....because, Christ's opinion of them is the only one that matters. But, I still think, after the fact, about the kids that came today from that other church. Most, if not all, of them will go back to their comfy homes, probably tell their parents all about the "crazy black kids" they met today and ya know, that'll be it. Why do they get to go home to parents? Why do they get to go home to warm, cozy homes? Why do they get to go home and eat dinner and relax? Why do they get to not fear that when they walk down the street this afternoon that they won't get shot? Why? Why do my kids just because they were born in this enviornment or into these families have to deal with all the pain and sorrow and evil? Why, WHY? I praise God for Breakthrough. And that they at least have a safe enviornment to come and laugh and run around, even if it is just for a few hours a day. I praise God that they have Breakthrough Staff that TRULY care about them, care about 'em enough not to feel sorry for them but to PUSH them and BELIEVE in them. That to me, makes these kids in some ways, as rich as the kids in the 'burbs. And that I praise God for! PS here's a video of one of my girls doing the "robot" sorry it's not very clear!

video

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Not cool

So, yesterday two of our freshman boys were walking to the corner store, like a normal day. But, it wasn't a normal day. As they were walking some boys pulled up in a car, basically asked them what gang they were in and proceeded to shoot at them. Thank God they had the sense to high tail it out of there and neither one of them were hurt. You know what they said when they got to the center? "It was kind of exciting!" Yeah, they were "a little scared" but yeah, it was more exciting than scary, apparently. The thing is, they were just WALKING TO THE STORE. They are both Christian boys and don't cause trouble, but because they were black kids in this neighborhood, they were immediately targeted by other gangs as having to be in a rival gang. Ridiculous and very scary to me. I'm just so thankful that they weren't hurt. This comes after 3 boys were shot last week a few blocks away from our center, probably gang-related activity as well. Ugh, what is wrong with this world.

In other news, today the kids don't have school. They pick up their report cards today and are going to bring them into the center tomorrow. Tomorrow my Health and Nutrition Class starts up again and i'll have the K-2nd grades for 5 weeks. In some ways I feel like it'll be easier cause basically, as long as there is something they can color, I figure they'll be fine. But, I have 18 kids, and most of those 18 kids are HYPERACTIVE lol, so it'll be interesting if I can keep them under control!!!!!

Oh, so me and my friend Laura go eat dinner or breakfast on Wednesdays every week. We try to find these wonderful new restaurants we've never heard of and just try them. A few weeks ago it was a Mediterranean restaurant called Grape Leaves, AMAZING, another week it was Pompei and another was a Asian restaurant called Penny's. All these places have been amazing but this week, we decided to go to breakfast. We found this little cafe called "Cafe De Luca". We both had lattes and scones. I looooooove coffee shops and cafes. I will definitely say that i'm addicted to coffee. If I don't go get some from a coffee shop, I make my own...my boss tells me i'm too young for coffee! LOL

Aight, I've got to head back to work, came home for lunch today and now gotta go back and get back to planning my class tomorrow. God bless!

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words." St Francis Assisi

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fruit of the Spirit

I choose LOVE...
no occasion justifies hatred; no injustices warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose JOY...
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical...the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less that human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opprotunity to see God.

I choose PEACE...
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose PATIENCE...
I will overlook the incoveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God fora moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose KINDNESS...
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose GOODNESS...
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose FAITHFULNESS...
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My family will not question my love.

I choose GENTLENESS...
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it only be in praise. If i clench my fist, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it only be of myself.

I choose SELF-CONTROL...
I am a spiritual being...After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
Max Lucado

This is something Chantel has read to us at camp every summer since I can remember. Yet everytime I read it I am amazed at how powerful the words are. Today, and everyday, may I choose love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, regardless of my situations. These past 2 weeks haven't been the best. The kids have chewed me up and spit me out a number of times. Yet, everyday, I pray that I would choose Christ in every situation. In my thoughts, my words, and my actions may I choose Christ. When that girl looks at me with scorn and totally disrespects me, may I choose Christ. When I have to physically restrain that boy because he wants to hurt another boy, may I choose Christ. When I am tired and worn out from kids yelling my name every two seconds, may I choose Christ. When I get home and the dishes are piled up and the house is a mess, may I choose Christ. When I sit at home, by myself and no one is around, may I choose Christ...

Have a wonderful morning. Pictures are coming soon, we had a "pizza party" at Gynger's (a coworker) house yesterday with the 4, 5, and 6th grade girls so I took a few. I was so mad at myself because I had every intention of taking pics from our halloween party, but I forgot my camera! Hopefully someone else will have some from it.

BTW, be praying for our kids...it was an especially hard week for some of them and right now we have 3 kids suspended and about 4 or 5 that are on the verge.