Personal Connection is More Important Than Pretty Pot Pies

I am a girl who likes to eat, but doesn’t cook.  In other words, I cook to eat.

Kind of ironic that I have a cookbook I’ll be offering for purchase soon. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll love this cookbook. Zero intimidation for those just needing to fix some food.

Some people get real creative in the kitchen.  The ideas start flowing as they get out bowls and ingredients, pots and pans, spatulas, spoons and rolling pins. Not me.  I have the stuff.  I just don’t have the passion.

What I do have passion for is people.  And I love when people come to our home, sit around our table, or out on our patio, and eat with us.  Which is what happened just a couple weeks ago when my friend from work was coming for dinner and a visit with her hubby and three kiddos.

I decided a nice chicken-pot pie would be a good fit for the evening; I could prepare it ahead and it would be easy clean up.  Win.  And win!

So there I was before dawn that Tuesday morning.  I got my chicken going in the pressure cooker and started on my piecrust.  I rolled it out, transferred it to my 9×13 dish, put the remaining crust in a zip-lock bag and placed it in the fridge to use for the top later.  Check. Check and check.  I was feeling quite productive, as the sun still had not even begun to rise.

The morning was going to be a full one, and so was the rest of the day, so it felt oh so good to get this dinner prepared in advance.

Let’s fast-forward to an hour and a half before our guests are scheduled to arrive.

Feeling like I’ve done pretty much all the work already, I come into the kitchen, get out my chicken I have already deboned and shredded, remove my already pie-crust-assembled 9×13 dish from the fridge, along with the zip-lock bag of the crust I was using for the top of my pot pie.  I stirred together all my remaining ingredients in a bowl with my chicken, added seasoning to my liking, hoping it’s what my guests will like too, and then pour the contents into the awaiting casserole dish.  Oh this feeling is so good!  I’m just going to roll out the top, toss it on, throw the dish in the oven and get my shower in plenty of time to spare.

At this point I’m feeling quite good at my early arising, thinking that this is what Proverbs 31 women are made of.

The feeling shifted.

Quickly.

I floured my surface and began to roll out the remaining piecrust.  I’m sure everyone who loves to make pies would have a plethora of suggestions and most certainly corrections for what was taking place.  Let’s just say, I was having some challenges getting my piecrust rolled out as smoothly as I did earlier that day.  I got to thinking that maybe I’d just have to start over and make an entire batch of crust again, but before I did, as time was ticking away and it seemed I was now on the verge of possibly needing to rush, I took that crust in my hands and said, “Lord, You make all things good.  Please make this pie crust good.”

Yes.  I prayed over my piecrust.  We’ve shared this blogging journey long enough now for you to know that I lean heavily on the Lord’s intervention over my daily activities.  I’m just a mess.  In so many ways.  But I know He cares about these little things too.

So there I go with a renewed confidence that the piecrust will be easier to work with.  And guess what?  It was!  I rolled that puppy out with ease.  I delicately rolled it up, grabbed two spatulas, came at it, inserting a spatula on each side, and I held my breath as I slowly and carefully transferred it over to the top of the chicken pot pie.  I laid it down ever so easily, and feeling like the hardest part was behind me, I let out a sigh of relief and began unrolling it, covering the top of the pie.

So…… the Lord made it good.

I just didn’t make it long enough!!! 

I think I said out loud, “you have got to be kidding me?!?!

The rush was on.  Without a doubt I needed to make another batch of piecrust.  And I did.  In record time.  Not in record time for those cooking shows, but in record time for me.

As I’m sifting the flour, adding in some crisco, and topping it with a beaten egg, vinegar and water, I’m asking myself, “Why do you do this?  Why do you want to cook for people?”  And while the question was a thought, the answer was a verbal statement.

People don’t come for the perfect meal but for the personal connection.”

Yep. That’s what I said out loud for my ears to hear and to get my mind focused on the bigger picture of this let’s-get-together-for-dinner idea.

The thing is, I’ve been in some homes where I’ve eaten some amazing food, but didn’t receive a sprinkle of hospitality. And honestly, I’d rather have a ham sandwich with a side of hospitality than a filet minion with none.

With that thought, I quickly added some additional crust to the bare part of my chicken-pot pie. I wish now that’d I’d have taken a picture, but at the moment I was working through everything I could to stay focused on the people and not the pot pie. But let me just tell you. My chicken-pot pie looked like it had a diaper! My original crust that wasn’t long enough, met with my additional crust and it pretty much looked like a diaper. But you know what? Our company loved it! And what they loved more was the time we were able to spend together.

We sat around our kitchen table for nearly 3 hours visiting, laughing and telling stories. We watched pool-soaked kiddos pop in and out of the house with giggles of goodness, a toddler make the most fun of a box of tissues, and Ruby even got to enjoy her favorite past time with our sweet friends, a few rounds of some intense tug-of-war.

And to think I could’ve let an imperfect pot-pie make me feel inadequate for such an experience. I would’ve missed so much.

Luke 10:38-42 NLT As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

By the way—come to find out, there’s a reason I’ve always felt frustrated with my chicken-pot pie. I’ve been working with half the dough. Through a conversation with my Mom about the ordeal it was revealed that I’ve been trying to make half as much go twice as far! Good grief! Now THAT is a completely different lesson, maybe we’ll revisit in a future post someday.

Until next time…. Reach out. Love and be loved. Be hospitable. Make connection. Soak up the opportunities. Whether it’s china or chinet, whether it’s roasted lamb or a diapered pot pie—personal connection is the goal!

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Why Attend Small Group

It’s funny how despite reminders on my phone and a color coded calendar I occasionally overlook the date for school pictures or even the deadline for school fundraisers, but amazingly can recall what someone said over a decade ago.

I suppose once something gets in my heart it sticks.

Since we got married, Brandon and I have been in some type of small group at our church. Traditionally, it’s been referred to as “Sunday School,” but the same gathering has been given a more modernized term, now known as “small group.” Whatever we may choose to call it, it’s been an instrumental part of our family’s development.

Through our time in small group, people have spoke volumes into our hearts. And while the small group leaders are obviously a huge component of what has been delivered in that time, it wasn’t the small group leaders alone who always seemed to give exactly what we needed in the particular season of life, our marriage, or our family.

For instance, I remember our friends, Penny and Daniel being transparent, giving our class some humble insight into what may potentially unfold on any given Sunday morning in their home when their girls were little. Daniel shared that although there were occasional mornings in which they had to run out of the house with dishes left in the sink, it seemed to irritate Penny increasingly more on Sunday mornings– until he brought it to her attention. After which she realized it wasn’t so much the dishes that bothered her as much as it was a tool being used to steal her heart and focus away from what the Lord had in store for her in service those particular days.

This awareness seriously revolutionized our Sunday mornings. When our children were little, if they happened to be screaming and crying through the process of trying to get ready, if Brandon and I were irritated with one another, if the coffee mug lid leaked on the outfit I finally decided to wear, if we were running fifteen minutes late (or possibly even more), and yes, if there was a disaster left in the kitchen, I’d think, “This is what Daniel and Penny were talking about. This isn’t going to distract me from what I’m about to give and get today.”

And in the instance I forgot, someone else remembered. Let’s face it, sometimes we just feel like saying, and may actually go right ahead and say, “Forget it!” That’s been me. Especially in the instances of running super late. But that is when Brandon would say and does say, “No, we’re going.” I’d argue, “What’s the point? We’re only going to be there for like twenty minutes before class is over.” Brandon wouldn’t and doesn’t let up, so we load up. We may be grumbly and gripey, but we go. And we are always so glad we do. It diffuses and distracts from whatever mishap may have occurred. We grow, realizing what we would have missed out on, even if it is sheer determination that gets us there. The realization reinforces our commitment.

I’m going to share another instance in the next post of how someone contributing in small group has revolutionized the dynamic of our home. I hope you come back and receive from it. It’s all in effort to pass on to you what others have passed on to us– those thoughts which have been influential and effective for our family.

Today, let me leave with some encouragement (and maybe a little nudge) to get involved in a small group if you’re not already. Here are a few things to keep close to your heart:

1. Shop around. Okay, that may not be the best term to use, but cut me a little slack. I’ve heard some people say that some churches are clickish. Well, yes. They are. ***WHAT?!?!?!**** Did I really just say that?! I did. (❤️ and ☺️ ). Let’s change our view of it a little. “Clickish” has such a negative tone to it, but honestly, we can’t take 600 people for instance and expect everyone to have the same interests and personalities. I mean, good grief, there are only 6 people in my house and I only have about three meals that please every single one of them. Every other dinner is consumed from a grateful heart and a hungry belly, not necessarily from an enthusiasm for what’s on the table. We can’t please everyone, every time. With that in mind, when you’re at church pray and ask the Lord to direct you as to where He wants you to serve and receive in the body of believers. There is a place for you. I promise. But it can take a bit of effort in finding it.

2. Be transparent. Okay, again. I say that with caution. I’m not implying you walk into a class and air your dirty laundry (and yes, we all have dirty laundry– from the pulpit to the pew we all need a good wash cycle). What I’m trying to encourage is for you to find a group of people who are willing to walk life with you, sharing the struggles as seamlessly as the celebrations. Brandon and I have so many times, I mean SOOO many times thought and expressed, “We’re not the only ones.” Daniel and Penny’s dirty dish story may have not been a three point spiritual lesson, but it was profound for a young couple with a young family. I mean people– I’m going back to a memory over thirteen years ago. You can’t convince me that’s not profound right there! I’m so grateful for their transparency and I hope to sharpen others by my willingness to be the same.

3. Seasons change. And so will your group. This doesn’t mean we drop the relationships, it just means we get to make more. We haven’t been in the same group with Daniel and Penny for I don’t know how long, but they’ll always be in our treasure chest of special people. A motto I share frequently is, “life is about people.” We need people. We need personal connection. Allow the Lord to move you in the different seasons to make those connections He desires to work through. Now that’s not saying change all the time. Let’s be people who commit, but when we’ve grown from young married to a family with young children to raising teenagers (Lord, help us all), we need to receive from, give to and be sharpened by those who have been-there-done-that or who are doing and surviving (😉 know you’re not alone).

Alrighty. Ready. Set. Go.

Find that group waiting for you! You have something to contribute and something to receive.

I’ll meet ya back here next time to share another nugget deposited into us by our small group. It’s a good one.

Hebrews 3:6 NLT
But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

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The In Between

I’ve heard it my entire life…. “The older you get the faster time passes.”

Who can testify to the truth of that statement? But I have just a small stipulation to add —the older your kids get the faster time passes.

I’m just not ready to lay claim to aging. I mean I’m only thirty-four. Regardless, life is on fast forward (or that button you hit on your DVR remote to skip forward ten seconds at a time). I mean, didn’t we just have Christmas? We’ve already made it more than halfway through 2015 and our children are headed back-to-school!

Let me confess, this school year was more difficult than ones before. At the conclusion of the 2014-2015 school year, we stood in the kitchen, all six of us shuffling around one another as we unloaded the dishwasher, filled it again, and dished up our evening dinner. In an effort to digest the fact that our baby wasn’t a baby anymore, I posed a question to my husband, “Babe, can you believe we have a kindergartener in our house now?! Not a PreKer, but a kindergartner?!” Our daughter interjected, “And a high schooler.” I corrected, “No. No. We don’t have a high schooler,” incredibly serious, as there was no way we ourselves were old enough to have a child in high school. She insisted, “Yes, Mom. I’m going to be a freshman. That’s high school.” [Insert mom’s heart sinking into my lower intestine here.]

You see, I longed for and desired my children since I was a child. I vividly remember lying in my intensive care unit bed thinking about my future. Before our accident I frequented my Grandma’s dining room and draped her lace curtains over my face pretending to get married. An eighty-seven percent burn injury makes marriage seem like even more of a fantasy to a small child. So when this story started trending toward the fairytale I had abandoned so many years before, my desire for the children I thought I’d never have escalated.

I was more than ready to become a mom when my little Brooklyn Nicole arrived on the scene three weeks before my twentieth birthday. I felt like I had waited for her my entire life, and the first true breath that had ever fully filled my lungs was the one I took in of her and her precious life. I breathed even deeper with the arrival of my baby boys, Jaron Michael, Caden Robert and Gavin Lee.

Being their mom is and has been the most meaningful moments of my life.

And that’s where we want to put things in slow motion, but rather than having the amenity of slowing things down, it only passes all the more quickly when they arrive. Most of the time, we’re juggling the day’s duties, and before we know it we’re into the next. Rarely do we experience a full night’s rest after the birth of our children, and I’m not just referring to the season that they’re little. No, they grow as we tackle everything with them in the daylight hours. Then in the night, in the quiet stillness while they sleep, we continue on. But we acclimate, don’t we? We adjust to late nights and early mornings until it becomes normal. It is there I ask myself, “Man. If it went this fast, how fast would it have gone if I would have slept?” [We’re making inserts into this post—so insert a winky face here].

Well, I assume it would have passed all the more quickly. So here we are, in a brand new season. For the first time in fourteen and a half years, all of my children are in school all day. That’s enough to bring a tear, isn’t it? I hope so, because I’m telling you, I didn’t think I’d really cry on the outside, maybe feel it a little in my heart, but no, I totally did. I barely got out the door. I mall-walked it to my car after dropping off the last child. I’m not talking a little teary-eyed either. No, I’m talking lip-quivering kind of crying. Who would have thought?! Not me. There are times I even surprise myself.

The last fourteen and a half years of having at least one child home with me for at least some part, if not all of the day has been my normal. Now, the season has changed and I’m settling into a new normal. Kissing all four of their faces as they exit the car in the morning, picking them up in the chaos of car rider line in the afternoon; and in the in-between, being brave, pursuing what God has called me to do with those hours He’s purposed for this time now.

There is so much in store; so much ahead that I can hardly stand to allow myself to shed a tear for what has been. But those were amazing chapters. My tears were more of a “thank you, God for letting me experience that,” than an “I’m so sad it’s over.”

We have many great things to come in our family. It will nevertheless, continue to change. It’s constantly going to be looking a little different. Most likely, I’ll cry again. I’m emotional like that. I’ll cry for what has been, for what will be and for the fact that God walks with me in the in-betweens.

Psalm 90:14 NLT  

Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.

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First Day of School~~~ Brooklyn- 9th ~ Jaron- 6th ~ Caden- 3rd ~ Gavin- Kindgergarten

One Magical Year To The Next

There is a family photo, which sits on our bathroom vanity, in a frame that reads, “Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.” And when this season comes around, when we gather the highlights of the year and send our cherished family and dear friends Christmas greetings, we feel incredibly blessed how the Lord gave so many fairy tale moments to such ordinary people like us.

Some big news making it at the tail end of 2013 was the newest addition to our family, Libby Lou. We wrapped up a pretty box, put her inside and gave her to the kids on Christmas morning. She is another little black lab, like Miss Daisy Mae. Then in May, a little calico kitten joined our family; we named her, Callie, after Sheriff Callie on The Disney Channel.

Keeping up with the kids is undoubtedly our greatest achievement for the year. We’re not sure how we can go in four different directions. Again, these are the reasons it all feels a bit magical. We must have some pixie dust under our feet to keep up with the schedules!

Brooklyn turned 13 on March 4th. We celebrated her milestone year with a painting party. We transformed the living room into a “studio” where an instructor directed the “artists” in painting their own tiger’s eye on a 16×20 canvas. It was a classy celebration for our classy girl. We’re so proud of the young lady she has become. Her interest and passion for playing trumpet in band, learning Spanish and having her own horse continue to grow. This fall we built a three-stall horse barn; so the next step is to find her fit for a horse. Nana is planning to bring her horse out too. And we can only anticipate the priceless memories they’ll create together.

Jaron is approaching his 11th birthday on December 23rd, our little eve of Christmas Eve baby. He continues to pursue his passion too…sports! He was on a successful basketball team through the winter and is back with the same group kicking off another season. Spring soccer was equally exciting; he even received MVP from one of their tournaments, a great honor considering the talent on that team. This fall, he stepped out for his very first season on the football field. But he surprised us all with his hidden theatrical niche this past March when he participated in the school talent show performing “In Summer,” from the number one animated film of all time, Frozen.

Caden should have a TV show titled, “Everybody Loves Caden.” It was a topic of conversation at his parent/teacher conference this year. Talk about a compliment. Suppose it’s part of God’s design for the third child. His “go with the flow” personality brings balance in a lot of different social settings, like in his family! Caden turned 8 on the 2nd day of 2nd grade, August 15th. We celebrated with cupcakes at school followed by a pool party with lots of classmates at home. Caden followed in Jaron’s footsteps and has enjoyed his experiences in basketball, soccer & baseball, but he’s stepping out on a new adventure and starting gymnastics this winter.

Gavin celebrated his 5th birthday Ninja Turtle style on July 13th. We had family and friends over to swim, drink toxic ooze and eat nothing other than what a ninja turtle would eat, pizza! In August, he started pre-K at Caden’s school, so he is definitely feeling pretty grown-up going to school with the big kids. We are amazed how our socially uncomfortable child has become so, well…social! All in good time I suppose. Being the baby of the family, he gets lugged around to all the activities but we’ve never signed him up for his own. Well, say no more. He is joining his big brother and will start gymnastics this winter.

June marked a momentous occasion for us, and we headed to a couple’s only resort in St. Lucia to celebrate it—our 15th anniversary! It’s hard not to get emotional thinking about those 18 year-old kids who had many unanswered questions but knew two things: they loved God and they loved each other. We aren’t even the same people 15 years later; we’re better, we’re even more in love…with God and with each other. That is definitely something to celebrate! Click here for the Packing for Possibilities” story. We’re blessed to share it.

What made to be a really fun part of our year was that our children assumed we weren’t going on a family vacation since we went on a couple’s trip. Unbeknownst to them, we had secretly booked our annual Disney trip and had plans underway, details lined out and reservations made. We hadn’t been to Disney WORLD in almost five years and we surprised them the morning we left. That story and the video of the surprise are also here on the blog titled, “The Best Kept Secret” and “I’m So Jealous”. The surprise, the trip, the time together was nothing less than magical.

Brandon continues on with his engineering work at Quanta and I continue to love on the sick babies through my nursing ministry in the NICU. We frequently express how much we love what we do. And the Lord continues to stretch us and give us vision. We share our lives through blogging and pursue the plans God has through a variety of speaking opportunities. He has opened doors with nursing schools, elementary schools, women’s groups and churches. Using our story to educate on the different facets of patient care, to address bullying and the importance of a healthy self-image, to motivate, challenge and inspire, as well as helping people examine their purpose and the power of being an overcomer has been fulfilling, healing and challenging in a way only the Lord could orchestrate. Please consider how our story could be used in your special events, workshops, seminars, classes or churches.  Visit the Speaking Events page for details and contact information. We ask for your prayers as we follow His leading in growing this endeavor.

Our year certainly wouldn’t have been what it was without the people we shared it with. We want to thank all of you who supported us to reach our annual $500 March of Dimes goal for 2014. Our family joined fellow Saint Francis NICU co-workers and their families for the walk. Looking toward the 2015 walk this spring, we once again, ask you to consider making a donation to this organization which blesses so many families in getting their sick babies home. click here to donate

More magical moments included getting to take the kids to their very first college football game. We got to see Oklahoma State win over Iowa State at the October 4th home game. Over Mother’s Day weekend we headed to Chicago for our nephew, Charlie’s baby dedication. It was a fast trip, but a celebration we couldn’t miss. Other family moments included time with our England family, Pam & John, when they visited in September and then in October with my cousin Austin and her girls, Taylor and Maddy. Brief time yet cherished memories.

Whatever it is 2015 may hold, we pray you are blessed as you see His hand at work orchestrating your very own fairy tale.

There’s nothing more magical than feeling His love,

Brandon, Heather,

Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden, & Gavin Meadows

and Daisy Mae, Libby Lou & Callie Rae too!

View More: http://malloryhallphotography.pass.us/meadowsfamily2014

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Tough Cookie

A few months ago I received a message from a reader asking me to write about a subject I’ve had some experience; pain.  I’m deeply touched by messages I receive from readers, and I began seeking the Lord to direct my heart to share what would minister to hearts regarding this subject.

Can you recall your first memories of pain?  My earliest memory was when I was five years old.  After a family dinner, several of us decided to walk down to the bridge.  My Grandma lived across the driveway from us and we had stopped at her pear tree before beginning our stroll.  I must have piddled around, as was very typical for me, because everyone had started off out of the driveway.  I ran to catch up, slid on the gravel and cut a gash in my right knee.  The beautiful sunny afternoon ended with a trip to the emergency room and my very first set of stitches.  I was terrified and experiencing the worst pain in my life.  I knew the scar it left would be permanent, as would be the memories.

As you can imagine, that experience wasn’t enough to prepare me for the tragedy to come on April 27, 1988.  I remember the sting in my eyes from the dust as my brother and I traveled on our motorcycle behind the little red truck that sunny spring day.  I remember the blur in the flame as I lay in that fiery ditch.  I remember my face feeling so hot as I was grabbed underneath the arms and drug out of that blaze.  I remember that terrifying helicopter ride, telling my Mom I wanted to go home, thinking that if I could just go home it would all be okay.  These were my first encounters with a pain that, although I experienced, I still cannot fully comprehend.

I spent many years trying to understand something senseless.  How could I possibly make sense of an accident?  It was an accident.  But how difficult it was to let go of the desire for answers.  The question I kept asking was “why?”  I had to stop thinking about the “what ifs.”  While many different small things could have prevented our accident, nothing was going to change it.  My life was changed forever.

But you know this story.  You know how this story ends; with a little girl who overcame the odds and lived and walked again.  This story ends with a sweet boy who fell in love with a girl for who she was instead of seeing the scars she bore.  This story ends with a marriage and four precious babies.  This story has what I would consider, the perfect ending.

It’s much more pleasant to focus on the end.  It makes me happy.  But surprisingly, so does every detail in between.  And that in between time was filled with pain, with years and years of pain.

There was the physical pain.  The bandages being ripped off.  The scar tissue tearing.  The surgeries.  The procedures.  The tests.  Then there was the emotional pain.  The loss of my brother.  The loss of my carelessness.  The loss of my mobility, my hair, my skin, my body as I’d known it.  How I would have loved to have seen that small scar from the fall on the gravel road.  I searched for it, but there was no trace.  Only burns.  Only smelly ugly mushy burns.

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The first time out of bed since the accident. Trying to “stand” in June 1988.

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Mom and Dad weren’t able to be here for this moment. Tried my best to smile for their picture.

Words cannot describe the range and depth of pain.  There are years and years I would never want to revisit, but make me happy.  “How?” you may ask.  Because I overcame.

My Aunt Donna gave me a t-shirt when I was in the hospital that said, “Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble.”  She explained the shirt to me, but at seven years old, I didn’t completely understand it.  All I knew was that she thought I was tough, but I didn’t get what that really had to do with cookies.

Well, that right there is what makes me happy when I think about all the pain.  I was a tough cookie, and I didn’t crumble.  Even years later, when I was still asking God, “Why didn’t I die too?” He was carrying me, and I didn’t crumble.  I overcame.

Pain teaches us a lot about ourselves and more about our God.  And I know in the darkest moments, in the hardest years, in the scariest times, my God was there.  I was never alone.

Many people are hesitant to ask me what happened.  They want to know, but they don’t want to hurt me.  Usually it is phrased like this, “So what happened? If you don’t mind me asking.”  And I don’t mind, because I overcame.

The Word tells us in Revelation 12:11 “They triumphed over him
 by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much
 as to shrink from death.”  I recommend reading the verse in its context, but take this to heart, we overcome by the victory Christ provided to us from His sacrifice on the cross and by our testimony, which is why I absolutely love to share with others what happened to me, because although it’s the most physically and emotionally painful story, it’s my testimony and I’m so grateful to be alive to share it.

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Sharing my Testimony— don’t have many pictures of me sharing my testimony; received this from a women’s conference I had the privilege of speaking at back in 2007.

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Small People with Great Expectations

In a small town, there is a small school, with small students who are establishing GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

Early in the school year, a teacher and her students illustrate a character. The teacher has her students take turns using their creativity to draw specific features. It’s a fun activity as they may draw spaghetti for the hair, or buttons for the eyes and so on, in regards to facial features and limbs. The students decide a gender for this character and then give a name. When all is said and done, their teacher asks her students if this created individual would be welcomed into their classroom.

This classroom activity is conducted by my dear friend, Michele Lee, who invited me to begin sharing my story with her second grade students, nearly ten years ago, in connection with the Great Expectations program. In such time, her team of fellow teachers valued my story in such a way, that I have had the privilege of sharing it with the entire second grade class at Central Elementary for the last several years.

The presentation varies minimally year to year. I have used a clip from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and asked the students why Belle loved the Beast and not Gaston. Those little second graders don’t hesitate in answering that the Beast is nice and Gaston is mean. It emphasizes the value of our heart over our appearance. Another illustration utilized is the book, The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin. The students hear how the scarred girl endures the comments from her cruel sisters, but in the end, the Invisible Being’s sister sees that, “though her skin was scarred, her hair burnt, her clothes strange, she had a beautiful, kind heart.” But my favorite book to use is Little Quack’s New Friend by Laura Thompson. This book portrays a cute group of five little ducklings and a green frog that is obviously different from the rest. Four ducklings state their reasoning for not wanting to play with the frog, but Little Quack chooses to play with the frog regardless. In the end, they are all playing together and happy about their new friend.

Each year, I share the details of Jon and my motorcycle accident. I share pictures of Jon and me, so they will know him, as this is his story too. I show a picture of me in the first grade, before the accident. I show them pictures of me standing up for the first time after the accident, having physical therapy and what I looked like when I returned to school in the second grade. And there lies the connection. I was the same age when I returned to school as the audience of students to which I speak. However, I returned to a school that didn’t benefit from a Great Expectations program. I felt a bit like that frog from the little children’s book.  Therefore, my emphasis in speaking to these students is on Expectation #1, “We will value one another as unique and special individuals,” and Expectation #2 “We will not laugh at or make fun of a person’s mistakes nor use sarcasm or putdowns.”

Even today, I see examples that cause me to think, “We could all benefit from reciting the Eight Expectations like those young students.” We know that school is so much more than intellectual development; it encompasses social and moral development as well. But it doesn’t stop at elementary school, or junior high, or high school. It continues on everyday that we live and work with those around us.

It’s for reasons like this that I have great admiration for the great teachers who set such great expectations; truly making a difference!

Romans 12:10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (NLT)

~~~August 21, 2013 at Central Elementary~~~

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Ms. Peck and Mrs. Lee’s Classes

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Mrs. Burks and Dr. Steeley’s Classes

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GREAT Teachers!
Mrs. Burks, Ms. Peck, Dr. Steeley & Mrs. Lee

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