Category Archives: What Really Matters

In Memory…In Honor

Memorial Day 1In Memory of those who heard the call to serve our country and gave their all.  They packed duffle bags and footlockers. They gave hugs and kisses. They fought in trenches, tanks, ships, and planes, hospitals, bunkers, make-shift huts, and city streets.  They traveled thousands of miles and walked through foreign lands. They heard sounds and saw sights that most cannot imagine.  They took their last breath far from home. They went. They served. They gave their lives.  Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

In Memory of our service members who are still missing. They followed their orders overseas and put themselves in dangerous situations. We do not yet know the details of their experiences; we do know they embody courage, strength, and honor. Their homecoming is anxiously awaited. Their stories are not complete.  Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

In Memory of the men and women who went to fight the fight and although they returned home, they returned home a different person.   Whether changed in body or in mind, they gave of themselves for our freedom and security.  They may be home now, but they continue to fight to find their new normal. They deserve to be remembered as who they were before and honored for who they are today.  Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

In Memory of all who gave their lives in service for our country but will not be honored by statue nor memorial. For those we lost in training exercises, mishaps, and missions we do not hear about.  They worked hard. They pursued excellence. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

In Honor of families and friends of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  For the conversations left unfinished, the inside-jokes lost of humor, and lives left incomplete. Today is more significant to them than most.  Their loss is real and deep.  Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 


Teacher Appreciation – and so much more

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and today, in particular, my eyes have been opened to the severe inadequacy of the title of this week.

Let’s start with the fact that I volunteered for lunch duty today so the Teachers at our school could grab a few extra quiet moments in honor of this special week.  For two-and-a-half hours I watched (and HEARD) 500+ students shuffle in and out of the cafeteria.  I opened approximately 20 juice boxes, 17 tubes of yogurt, and 6 cups of fruit – 4 of which squirted juice in my face.  I answered 6,483 questions – the majority of which were pretty random, reminded 172 to use their “walking feet,” and gave permission I-don’t-even-know-how-many-times for someone to use the bathroom.  I came home EXHAUSTED.

The kids at our school are GREAT kids… They listen really well and are quite polite – even the scary fifth graders who look like they could be in college! But as I watched them all come through that cafeteria, I realized how many different personalities and needs our teachers deal with on a DAILY basis. There are kids that need extra attention and kids that want to be left alone; kids that are funny and kids that are shy; kids you can be silly with and kids that need straight answers; kids that need a hug or a high-five or the “I mean business” stare… and our Teachers are able to dish those out… on demand… to the exact kid that needs that exact interaction.  “Teacher” ?!?!  I think not. Let’s go with “Mind-reading Personality-deciphering Super-human”. It’s a little wordy, but much more accurate.

Teacher Appreciation 1

Back to my cafeteria experience: let me point out my responsibilities included keeping the children from injuring themselves or others and trying to keep the noise level at a minimum.  My co-Lunch Duty volunteer and I decided to just focus on the first responsibility and let the noise level go a little bit.  I mean, priorities.

Our Teachers have responsibilities that BLOW MY MIND! They teach those kids to read and write and add and multiply and how to find the area/volume/circumference (which I may or may not have forgotten). They teach history and science and art and music and P.E. They teach how to stand in line and keep your hands to yourself. They teach how to cope when someone says or does something unkind. They teach that life isn’t always fair. They teach cooperation, patience, perseverance, self-control, integrity, kindness, selflessness, determination, dedication, generosity, friendship, love.  How do they prioritize those?! “Teacher” is an understatement. “Developer of Brain, Body, and Spirit” is more like it.Teacher Appreciation 3

 

Let’s also not forget that these Teachers have lives outside the school halls and classrooms.  They are spouses, parents, pet-owners, mortgage-payers, schedule-jugglers, budget-balancers, hobby-havers, and so much more. I know a good number of our Teachers are blazing through real-life challenges and curve-balls right now, but they continue to show-up for our kids. “Teacher”…. Pffft.  “Tough-as-Nails Focused Fighter”… that barely covers it, but it’s the best I could do in a pinch.

Teacher Appreciation 2

Teacher Appreciation Week, eh? Appreciation?! You know what I appreciate? When someone holds the door for me or let’s me scoot in front of them in traffic. For the Teachers… I am indebted to them, astounded by them, in awe of them, and yes, thankful for them.  For a week?! No way!  FOR. EVER. AND. EVER.

 

One afternoon of Lunch Duty has led me to announcing:

Teacher Appreciation 5

(AKA… Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, but I really really really mean it.)


A Christmas Campaign that ACTUALLY Matters: GIVE LOVE

It’s a marketing campaign that is simple and understated and red. It’s not flashy, nor fancy, and not overtly “church”-y either. But I’m not referencing coffee cups. I’m not referencing boycotts or hashtags. I am referring to something that actually matters; something that will make a real difference in the lives of others.Give Love

I’m talking about: GIVE LOVE.

While some people are ranting and making noise about things that don’t really add up to a hill of (coffee) beans, there are other people just outside of Sacramento, California, spending this holiday season being generous and doing good. They are looking into their hearts and reaching into their pockets to make this Christmas season very special for an entire county of foster kids. What are they doing, you ask? They are choosing to GIVE LOVE.

The GIVE LOVE campaign got its humble start just last year in Yolo County (yes, folks, it’s really named “Yolo”) when a brand-new church saw a need in their community and met it. While serving as a chaplain with the Woodland Police Department, Matt Van Peursem, the lead pastor of Catalyst-Woodland, became aware of the considerable need for more resources for the county’s Child Protective Services. Nearly every single day, the county adds one new child to the foster care system in Yolo County. Unfortunately, there is generally a gap of approximately 48 hours from the time the child is in CPS care until he or she is placed in a more permanent home. During this time, the resources (think everything from comforts of home to basic hygiene needs) for the kids are incredibly limited. Enter generosity, kindness, thoughtfulness, and everything good in this world… in the form of Catalyst and people who genuinely wanted to make a difference.

The 2014 GIVE LOVE campaign resulted in 425 backpacks filled with overnight clothes and toiletries for all kids entering the foster care system. Bonus: stuffed animals were donated as well and were added to the bags given to the younger kids. Now if that doesn’t warm your heart more than a tall caramel macchiato, I don’t know what will!

Because last year’s generosity was so grand, and the Police Department still has backpacks awaiting their future owners, Catalyst decided to find a new way to GIVE LOVE this year.   Last year, they met needs. This year, they decided to make wishes come true! With a little bit of help, the Church was able to get the Christmas Wish List of every single child in the foster care system. They intend to transform each and every wish into a wrapped present.

GIVE LOVE 2015 was launched just this past Sunday and will culminate on Catalyst’s one-year anniversary, December 6th. In the first hour, the good folks in Yolo County have already picked up 160 GIVE LOVE cards containing the Christmas Wish of a child currently in foster care. Most likely, more than 300 wishes will be turned into reality this Christmas season. These wishes range from grandiose requests for a new bike or a Nintendo DS, to the more unassuming, like a wish from a 17-year-old girl for a $20 gift card to simply get her hair cut.   No matter if someone is granting the smallest of small wishes or making the unimaginable come true, one thing is certain: it matters. To quote Pastor Matt, “We do this because these kids end up in foster care as a result of devastating circumstances that communicate to these kids that nobody loves them, adults can’t be trusted, and promises are made to be broken. Everything we do in the GIVE LOVE campaign is to restore hope in those three things: Love, community and a bright future.”

The act of showing love and kindness, of finding generosity when it’s least expected, of being able to GIVE LOVE is the reason for the season.

It’s easy to get distracted by rants and other irrelevant noise streaming into your various social media feeds. I urge you to take time this holiday season to focus your eyes and heart on people who are doing things that really mean something. This is just one example of people doing good. No doubt, there are many more such examples; look for those examples; highlight them on your feeds. Find the good and GIVE LOVE.

For more information about the GIVE LOVE campaign, click here 


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