Chase Fireflies


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Trip to the Dominican (and New England)

Hey ya’ll!

The kids and I are hanging out in New England for the week.  It’s been bliss already!
Red Sox Games, Clamcakes, Carousels, Parks, Parades, Beaches, Dell’s, and mainly hanging with the fam.  Time together is sweet:)

While we party, relax, and eat too much seafood (our kids love octopus!), Paul heads to the Dominican on a missions trip.  EEEK!  He has been planning this trip for months.  It’s hard to believe it’s here. 

He and the team will be visiting old friends, supporting the Dominican church in Santiago, providing a VBS for kiddos, and heading into Haiti, among other things. 

I would really cherish your prayer for them.  For safety, growth, flexibility, wisdom, creativity, LOVE LOVE LOVE.  Everything, really. 

Our favorite man is there, which is why we’re here.  (Trying to keep occupied.)

Follow their stories here.   They will be incredible, I just know it.

Much Love,
Kristin:)


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Scraps of Beauty

This blog I suppose is a good reflection of haphazard me.  Random and all over the place and lost in laundry and buckets of sand.  I left France.  Returned with a post or three.  Ran a race.  Got found by life.  And intend to post more April photos in November or maybe not.

And so it goes….Thank you, friends, for coming along.

For now, I just have to tell you about our yesterday.  The youth group headed to Cedar Point and the kids and I tagged along with Paul.   Practical Me was concerned about over-stimulation and age-appropriate activities, but somehow the Meager Fun Side squashed the Other to smitherines. 

As with any amusement park, there were high thrill rides roaring above us at deafening speeds.  There were moms pushing strollers, eleven year olds dribbling their prized basketballs, and masses of crazed humanity sweating in long lines with slushies.  There were also people who probably should have been wearing clothes.

For Selah and Adden, it was our day together for the sole purpose of play.   They ran and jumped with sunburned grins and arms propelling them from kiddie car to kiddie jeep to kiddie helicopter.  It was all the same circular ride, but from their delight you wouldn’t know it.   

Food fare of the day served up munchkins, hot dogs, fries, pizza, and green Pepsi.  It’s a special day when the watered down daily cup of apple juice gets trumped by green Pepsi.  I have never seen Adden move so many limbs at once after two sips of the good stuff.

There was Snoopy on Ice and Extreme Bikes and Boards.  There was a brave little girl who jumped into her first real roller coaster and climbed out with a trembling lip.  There was even a bird, beak stuffed with fodder for a nest, who came to perch next to us on a bench. 

Maybe I’m emotional (yes).  Maybe I’ve got a thing for birds (oddly so).  Maybe I just really loved our day together (yes, yes, yes).  But in that quiet amidst the crazy moment, we found a bird building a home. 

And it hit me that we were building a home even in this place.  In crazy life together, wherever that may happen.  With this smile and that tear.  With all that we’ve dreamed and nothing like we would have imagined.   From miles away, we were collecting scraps of  beauty amidst relationship. 

Today sure was one fantastic scrap.


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Another Story Told

He was a scrappy little guy.  Hair disheveled, quick with his fists, faster with that mouth of his.  Teachers branded him grades before he ran into my class.  I always hated those heads-ups.  Give the kid a fighting chance. 

So I practiced a little rebellion of my own with cards in his desk, over the top soccer game cheering, prayer, and dreaded gerbil care.   For the record, our class gerbils (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) never died while in his care.  That doesn’t say much for me.  

I want to tell you that he changed throughout the course of that year, because that would make for a good story.  But he didn’t all that much.  He still used those fists of his and that tongue.  And he also threw in some gasoline with lighter fluid for good measure.  You should have seen his eyes that night in the burn unit.  Seared with pain, they seared right through me.   I couldn’t fight the tears.

I loved that little kid.  Still do, wherever he is.  It wasn’t a love based on performance or merit or anything earned.  He might have passed with D’s and he got in more trouble than I knew what to do with.  He drove me berserk, but I loved him. 

Someday we’ll meet in the cereal aisle in Wal-Mart and laugh about the snake he lost in our reading nook.  I’ll hear about his dreams for the future and we’ll remember his grandma with great love.  I always told her that God would do great things in his life.  I look forward to that day. 

Maybe it was crazy to champion one child so much, but I don’t think so.  If we ever lose sight of what God can do for one person, we lose sight of everything.  And the truth is, I saw myself in my student’s fights, his tousled hair, his reckless decisions.  I’ve scarred myself and others, more than anyone cares to know.  I’ve scarred my Jesus.

I love that Jesus still has nail marks in His hands, cause every scar tells a story.  His is incredible, though slightly absurd.  I still don’t understand.  There’s no act of love like it.  Innocent Splendor paid my debt.  His death purchased my freedom.   I am alive and running today because of this incomparable love.  It has made me whole. 

Everyone has a story written on their hearts, spoken in the fabric of their days.  Christ’s story tells my story.  My story is a part of my student’s story.  His story will write another’s.  And the pages continue to be written, turned, and read. 

I want to learn how to write a good story.  To listen better, notice more, craft the words, honor the voices behind the text, point to God.  There are stories to be told, but I’m at a loss for the elements. 

Tonight was the first time I’ve ever heard of the She Speaks Conference in Lysa TerKeurst’s blog.  In reading about it, I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue.  It provides effective training for speakers, writers, and women’s ministry leaders.  You’ll have to check out their website for more information.  This blog post is an attempt to win the Cecil Murphy Scholarship, which would allow me to attend the Conference for free. 

Winning it would mean a whole lot.  And plenty more stories told.


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A Love for Kenya

ashley kenya

Remember 19?  Her name is Ashley.  She’s one of our students living on the other side of the world.

Months ago, we met over coffee.  She told me her story from college to Kenya.   Here is an excerpt from our time together:

(I listened) To a heart that loves Jesus. In one hand she holds a ticket for Africa; in the other those words of life. And she’s going to change the world. It’s in her giddy rambles and the excitement in her eyes. She’s fearless and alive and in love. In love with the One who has redeemed our fall. 

Well, she’s there now, teaching preschool.  Loving children.  Learning Swahili.  Gaping over zebras and hippos.  And relying on God.  Can’t wait to hear more from one of the most sensitive hearts I know.  This girl is incredible and such a riot.  Love her!

Till then, Compassion Bloggers have headed to Kenya.  They’ve got a bunch of incredible, compelling posts here.  Check them out if you get the chance.  And please take a moment to pray for Ashley also. 

Thanks and much love!
Kristin


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Penguin Activities for Preschoolers

We are finishing up our Penguin week ’round here.  As some of you know, I am mildly infatuated with thematic planning (teacher genes).   I like it so much that I’ve decided to incorporate more themes around our home. 

We did these activities over the course of a week and a half.  A couple every day and in some cases (Freeze Dance) tons of repeats. 

The biggest thing that I’m learning is to be intentional about time with our kids.  I know all of this stuff seems overboard/ridiculous, but if I don’t plan activities, I’ll spend my time with them organizing drawers and scrubbing spots out of the much neglected carpet.  I’d rather play.  Plus, they are growing out of their jeans, which makes me want to cry. 

Here are some art projects, games, food, and science projects you can do with preschoolers – whether in a classroom or with your own little tykes at home.  Whatever you do or don’t do, just be intentional:)

GAMES:

Penguin Waddle Race:  Have kids hold a ball between their knees and race each other.  Balancing the ball is a riot and will make them waddle. 

The Penguin Freeze Dance:  Put a winter hat on with some music and dance!  When the music starts, dance!  When it stops, freeze!  Of course, you’ll have to join in and show them how to move!
Adaptation:  Have floating pieces of ice scattered around the room (pillows).  When the music stops, have the penguins find a piece of ice to stand on.

Emperor Penguin Says:  Play the traditional game Simon Says, substituting “Emperor Penguin” for “Simon.”

Penguin Sledding:  If snow is available, have your penguins slide on their bellies down small inclines on sleds. 

ART PROJECTS:

Heart Penguin:  Make a penguin out of various sizes of hearts.  (See photograph below.) 

Recycled Art – Penguins:  Use whatever you have in your recycling bin to make a penguin.  You will need a bottle, black and white paper, orange foam (or paper works too), glue or tape, and google eyes.

Penguin Pointillism:  Draw an outline of a penguin or the letter “P.”  With a Q-tip and some black, white, and orange paint, have your little ones color the penguin or “P” with paint dots.

SCIENCE PROJECT:

Freeze water in a pan.  Have children predict what will slide on the ice:  cotton balls, dry beans, balls, whatever you have on hand.  Test out your predictions.

PENGUIN FOOD:

Fish Sticks and Macaroni (for the Macaroni Penguin of course!)

PENGUIN MATH:

Preschoolers have a hard time with one to one correspondence.  The more counting activities you can do the better!  We had bowls of goldfish and estimated how many were in our bowl.  (Preschool estimates are the best – 145 and 482.  There were about 10-20 some!) 

READING: 

There are plenty of penguin books at the library.  Our favorite was Augustine.  So cute!  As in our Snow Day, we threw a white sheet over the table and read books underneath, creating an igloo. 


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Disturbed to Love

Thirty-some teenagers came out for small groups tonight, but we didn’t have small groups. 

Instead, there were disturbing images and numbing statistics on Haiti.  It was uncomfortable, raw, heart-shattering into millions of pieces.  I couldn’t stop wiping away tears from my seat in the back, almost embarrassed at such visible emotion. 

Paul prayed that we would be disturbed.  Disturbed to do something.  Pray.  Give.  Mobilize. 

LOVE.

30-some students and leaders in one cramped room in one night raised $1200.  What? 

$1200.  Kids these days…

The devastation cannot be fathomed.  And no amount of dollars can heal that kind of hurt.  But there will be food and clean water and the compassion of strangers from a little white country church.  And that’s as good of a place to start as any. 

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in..”

The students have set the bar.  Our turn.  If you would like to give, we have seen the outstanding work of Compassion International first-hand.  Click here to donate. 

May all of us continue to be DISTURBED.  May all of us continue to LOVE. 
Gotta start somewhere.

UPDATE AS OF 1/17:  Students have upped their own pledges, giving more money than they had initially committed.  The total is now up to $1, 450.  Can you believe it? 

This is crazy sacrifice.  None of the students or leaders have access to much.  So so so proud of their huge hearts, compassion & sensitivity.  The church today was challenged to match their giving.  And match they did:)  Incredible. 


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Castle 2010: Favorite Things

We had an INCREDIBLE weekend at the Castle.  Because Paul’s GIFT is administration, because we had great SERVANT LEADERS, because the speaker GOT God’s heart, because the worship leaders were HUMBLE, because our students are LIKE NO OTHER.
All of which is very true.
 
But mostly, the Castle jammed because people pleaded with God. 
And He heard.  If you prayed, THANK YOU!
 
There were plenty of FAVORITES TO LOVE… But TOPS was the VISIBLE LOVE. 
Our kids were PLAYED WITH.
Students were VALUED.
Counselors LISTENED.
Other counselors EXERCISED RESTRAINT and chose NOT TO destroy small junior high boys.
 
There were windshields wiped.  Plates cleared.  Trash dumped.  A cross constructed. 
Pictures taken.  So much serving.  Negative complaining. 
The body of Christ working together and it was BEAUTIFUL!
 
Yay GOD.  Yay GOD. 


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The Castle Winter Retreat 09-10

The Castle

Bags are packed.  Kids are psyched.  Amazing husband is stressed.

Headed to our annual Castle retreat today – a gargantuan old mansion hidden up north- to hang out with a bunch of teenagers, college students, helpers.  We’ll be there through Sunday.

Would love your prayer for:

1.  Students to find Christ, community, healing, freedom.
2.  Safety travelling for all.  (I am commuting Fri/Sat due to work obligations- huge bummer.)
3.  Everyone to have a blast. 
4.  Paul to have wisdom.  Tom to clearly communicate God’s heart.   Counselors to build
      relationships, be authentic, point to Christ.  Worship to inspire, encourage, challenge, love.

My responsibilities this year include taking care of our kids, hanging out with students, praying, and getting some good air in improv sack chair flying.  I’ve got it made. 

Thanks for praying, guys. 

Much Love and Happy New Year!!!!!  Whohoo!
Kristin