Monday, February 24, 2014

Helen Keller from a Second Grade Point of View - Guest Post by Paige Stilp

Second grade at our kids' school comes with monthly projects in addition to daily homework.  The first time through this process with Grant I was exhausted after all the work it took for me him to finish his project.  My desire was to micromanage everything and make it a project worthy of adult approval.  But I wasn't in second grade.  He was.

I learned to loosen up and let the kids drive and dictate their monthly projects, offering input as needed and trying my hardest to take a hands-off approach.  So what if the lines aren't straight and the paper is cut crooked?  When Alli wanted to make her family tree report out of a Christmas tree and cut out pictures of her family to look like ornaments I said, "Great idea Sweetheart."  And it really was.  Her Family Tree was the only one that looked like a Christmas tree with faces as ornaments.

Paige's valentine card - her words for the greeting ~ 2nd grade ~ almost 8 years old
Paige is our last (of four) second graders to go through the process.  She takes school very seriously and doesn't like deadlines.  As soon as she gets the new monthly project assignment she starts fretting about how long it will take and when she has to get it done.  Finishing the monthly project on time makes it into her bedtime prayers.

What I love about this concept is that it teaches the kids life lessons that they will take with them into adulthood.  Paige is learning how to manage her time.  She now knows the stress of procrastination and the satisfaction of finishing a big project on time.  She has felt the frustration of being forced to start over because she did a sloppy job the first time.  We tell her, "Anything doing is worth doing well."  If I can't read the rough draft it doesn't count.  Her writing and sentence structuring is improving by leaps and bounds.

So far this year she has researched her future career (a missionary), charted out her family tree (insisting on including The Big's as her "fake brothers and sisters"), and studied a holiday we don't celebrate (St. Lucia's Day).  This month she researched and wrote about a famous American - Helen Keller.

We just finished pulling together the final pieces of her project.  All she has left is to lay it out.  I promise to sit on my hands if she pastes the pages on crooked.  Paige's essay really touched me though and I wanted to share it with you.  Read all the way to the end - you won't want to miss her witty humor in her resource list.  Here's her report - in her own words.

She turns eight this week.  How can that be?

Helen Keller Monthly Project

By Paige Stilp
2nd grade
Mrs. Hubbard

My famous American is Helen Keller.  She was blind, deaf and she couldn’t speak.  Helen needed a teacher.  Helen’s first word was water.  She spoke in sign language.  Helen’s teacher translated what people were saying to her in her hands.  Helen’s teacher was blind too.  Her name was Annie Sullivan.  Helen wanted to be a teacher too.  Helen loved Alexander Graham Bell.  He was her hero because he sent Helen’s teacher to Helen’s family.  Helen was eager to learn.  She wanted to know about everything! Helen Keller was a great person.  She did a lot for America.

Helen loved animals.  They liked her too.  Helen was born June 27, 1880.  She died June 1, 1968.  Helen’s parent were Kate and Arthur.  They both loved Helen, but Arthur wanted to send her away. Helen Keller was in newspapers all over the world!  She was famous because she was the first person who was blind, deaf, and couldn’t speak who learned to talk. Helen Keller went to a school for blind children.  She played with them.  Helen met lots of famous people.  She even met all the presidents after President Cleveland.

Helen was not afraid of anything.  She loved everything.  Helen Keller lived in the South, but went North to go to school.  She was fearless.  Helen spent many seasons in the North. She stayed in Boston.  Helen let the fact that she was blind keep her from doing anything.  She was a great person.  Helen Keller was important to America because she was deaf and still wanted to learn.  Helen was the only person who was blind and deaf who wanted to go to college. She helped America by showing that whatever kind of person you are, blind or deaf, you can do anything that you put your mind to.  Helen Keller was fun to learn about.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

January 5th, 2014 - A Day To Remember

January 5th, 2014, will always be remembered as a milestone day for our family.  It's no secret that Curt and I have been miraculously transformed by the forgiveness, mercy and love of Jesus.  From the time our children were babes in our arms our greatest prayer has been that Jesus would capture their hearts like he has ours and they would choose to follow him.

We sang them to sleep with Jesus Loves Me, read them stories from the Bible, and taught them to pray.  Our children have been given a heritage of faith in Jesus.  But like everyone else on the planet, they have to decide what their answer is to Jesus' invitation to "Come and follow."  

All of our kiddos, as toddlers and pre-schoolers, said yes to Jesus.  While their confessions of faith were genuine we knew that as our children matured they would either reconfirm this decision or choose to walk away from faith in God.

Grant (age 12) and Katie (age 11) have both recently reconfirmed their decision to follow Jesus.  They have established a habit of learning more about who Jesus is and what it looks like to be his follower by spending daily time with him through prayer and reading the Bible.  Baptism was the next logical choice.

Why baptism?  What is it?  Here's a cliff notes version.  Baptism is a public declaration of the commitment and love someone has for Jesus.  Some churches baptize by sprinkling people with water.  Our church baptizes by immersion.  Here's why.

Baptism by immersion is a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us. He died on the cross, went down into the bowels of the grave, then rose again defeating death once and for all.  Baptism is also a beautiful picture of how Jesus changes people.  We enter the water symbolizing the person we were before Jesus saved us - dead in our sins and without hope in this world.  We go under the water to symbolize dying to ourselves.  We come out of the water a picture of the new creation we are in Jesus.

Baptism is how we publicly identify that we will follow Jesus wherever He leads.  We take on our new identity as HIS by following in his footsteps.  Grant, Katie, and Maddy (one of Katie's best friends) all decided to get baptized together.  

January 5th, 2014, was a day to remember.  The kids had their own cheering section at church.  Row after row of family and friends came out to show their love and support for our kids.  Grant, Katie, and Maddy all bolted from their seats when the pastor gave the invitation to come and be baptized.  The parents followed and we circled around our kiddos to pray for them.

Before we started praying a blur of color caught my eye.  I looked up to see Grant's best friend Alden walk confidently into the prayer room.  He was missile locked on getting approval to be baptized.  He didn't need Grant.  Alden just needed Jesus.  It wrecked me (in a good way) to see how God has changed his life - how God has changed ALL of our lives.

I was overcome with emotion.  This moment was a visible answer to our deepest prayer and desire we've had for our children.  They were choosing Jesus - on their own terms, in their own timing - and their best friends were making the exact same choice.  Could it be any more incredible?

I gave my camera to my super talented photographer friend Tom Baker so I could just soak in the joy of the moment.  Our good friend and the kids' youth group pastor Nate Kupish baptized the kids.  Grant went first.  Then Alden, Katie, and finally Maddy.

One by one they got wet for Jesus.  One by one their lives were forever changed.  We hooped and hollered after each baptism.  I think I was both crying and holding my breath at the same time.

I wrote later, "Tonight was incredible!  Grant and Katie followed Jesus in the waters of baptism. Adding to the joy, each of their best friends also got baptized!  An answer to our prayers for godly friends and kids who choose Jesus.  Huge party going on!"

As the old saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."  Here are some of my favorite images from this unforgettable night.  Thank you Tom for capturing it so beautifully.

WHOO HOO GRANT!!!!!!!!!!



To God be the glory - great things He has done.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sweet Sixteen

anniversary dinner at Red Star Tavern, Portland, Oregon
On December 27th, 2013, Curt and I celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary. Sweet sixteen.  With age comes maturity.  Our love has been the same.

Sixteen years is a long time to live with someone.  Day in and day out, Curt sees me at my best and my worst and yet he chooses to continue to love me.

Sixteen years of morning breath, messy hair, and incoherent pre-coffee mumbles.

Sixteen years of raising babies, toddlers, elementary schoolers, and now middle schoolers.

Sixteen years of getting up and going to work, paying bills, grocery shopping, and stressful finances.

Sixteen years of following Jesus together - digging into the Bible, serving side by side, and praying together.

Sixteen years of being goofy and making each other laugh.

Sixteen years of learning to say, "I'm so sorry.  What I did was wrong.  Will you please forgive me?"  (Does that ever get easier?)

Sixteen years of high highs and low lows - learning to press into each other when we'd rather run away.  

Sixteen years of choosing to love.

My wedding ring is in the shop again - another diamond lost to worn out settings.  The jeweler said, "Some things wear out more quickly than others.  This ring isn't exactly new."  I started to protest and then realized he was right.  Sixteen years is a LONG time.

We celebrated our anniversary with a mini-getaway in the city.  Nothing says romance and luxury like a five star hotel, complimentary valet parking, champagne on ice, rose petal turndown, in room dining, and late checkout.  We splurged on it all.

For twenty four hours it was just the two of us again.  No kids. No agenda (so we did run a bazillion errands but we made it fun).   Just us.  It was a perfect reminder that choosing each other - for better or for worse - sixteen years ago was one of the best decisions we've ever made.
photo courtesy of Sara Shearer Photography LLC
Happy (belated) anniversary My Love.  Here's to many, many more.