Tuesday, August 27, 2013

3 More Weeks Before Goodbye

The time is almost here. Three more weeks. 21 days plus 2. About 552 hours. Over 33,000 minutes. I wonder how quickly those minutes will diminish.

Eight years ago my daughter left for three weeks in Paris with her school's exchange program. I was fine. I knew she was coming back. I knew one of the teachers she was going with. And did I mention, she was coming back. Now the story is different. She is leaving to spend a year in Leeds, England attending Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Discipleship Training School. I don't know anybody there. I have never been to Leeds. Yes, I know I can take a virtual tour of the city. I still don't know anybody there.

Soon it will only be 551 hours before she leaves. I know that she is going to learn more about God, arts and social justice. I know she has a heart that wants to seek God, and bring hope to the hopeless. I know I trust her--because I know her. Did I mention that I don't know anyone else in Leeds? I guess I need to remember that today we have technology that will help us keep in touch very differently than when I first left Finland.

It was 1986. I was flying to Singapore. I knew two other people! My mother said goodbye, and we promised to write to each other. As soon as I arrived in Singapore, Finland started a postal strike. Then the Chernobyl disaster happened, and no letters came from Finland! There was no Skype, instant messaging, none of us had computers; I think Nokia was still making rubber boots instead of cell phones.During those first few years in Asia, I was still making calls to home via the operator. Even then, it was so expensive that it only happened a few times per year.

Times have definitely changed. I don't just expect an e-mail from my daughter, I expect face time, talking while looking at her (just to make sure that she is okay), reading each others blogs, and learning how God is working in her life. And then there is the possibility of visiting!! Maybe I will get to know somebody else in Leeds?

P.S. If you would like to take a peek at my daughter's blog, here is the link:
Broken and Beautiful Soul

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New school year with JOY

Last week I read a poem (on another blogger's site) that talked about inhaling joy and exhaling joy robbers. It really made me think about this coming school year.What could I do "to inhale" more joy?
I was reading Larry Ferlazzo's blog about quotes and storytelling. (You can read it here.) The part that really caught my attention was the 40 Story quotes. This quote below by Harold Goddard, brought me JOY! It gave me hope. It encouraged me. It challenged me. It made me inhale JOY!

“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.”

 It also reminded me about a few very important things:

  • I will face battles this school year, but winning them does not always have to be my priority
  • Everyone has stories to tell
  • At times my students' stories might not match my idea of a good story, but I need to believe in my students--they are an endless source of stories
  • It is okay to lose a battle, but gain a destiny together with my students!!
  • Stories = inhaling JOY!
This quote by an artist, Jonathan Harris, also spoke to me about the power of words and stories.

“No matter what you do in life, what you create, what career you have, whether you have a family or kids, or make a lot of money. Your greatest creation is always going to be your life’s story.” 

This spoke to me again about the power of our stories. Whether it is the story of my student escaping a war-torn country, a new family adopting five children because both of their parents died, or a simple story about shopping for new school supplies; I can exhale the joy robbers by focusing on my students' stories-- their creations. Because when you create something new you are inhaling JOY: maybe a new word that you learned finally to use in the correct way; maybe you can now write a complex sentence; maybe you have learned enough words to write a story that researches to the second page. There is a definite JOY in a finished story.

How could you inhale more JOY this year??

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC)

Last week when I was displaced (floors getting redone at home), I sat at our local coffee shop to write my blog and just read with a good cup of coffee. To my surprise, I got to observe something extraordinary!

I looked up from my book and saw a group of young people with down syndrome moving tables around the coffee shop. They pulled 3-4 tables together, went to get something to eat and drink, and sat down. I was intrigued. Did they all know each other? Why did they all have the same book bags?

It didn't take very long before I starter hearing reading and discussion coming from the tables. I could not do anything except listen.

-can you read this page?
-I will help you with the difficult words.
-get your journals ready
-where is you pen or pencil?
-you need to write this down in your journal.
-what do you think about this?
-can you give us your opinion?

By now I am really wondering what is going on. I decided to be brave and start a conversation with the lady next to me (as she appeared to be the mother of one of the young people in the group). She was kind enough to explain to me what was happening.

The Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) offers weekly opportunities for people with developmental disabilities (DD) to read and learn together, talk about books, and make friends in a relaxed, community setting. 

She explained that further what this book club is and what it offers to the young adults.

A program of The Ohio State University Nisonger Center, NCBC was established in June 2002 to provide adolescents and adults with DD – regardless of reading ability – the chance to be members of a book club.  NCBC has become the preeminent program of its kind.  Today there are NCBC programs in over 100 cities across North America and Europe.

I was even more intrigued. Thanks to wireless Internet it did not take me very long to find a website that explained the program and its history to me. Read here to find more information about this book club.
I also had a chance to talk with the leader of  the bookclub afterwards. She explained that these clubs are community based, and they meet in community settings like this coffee shop. She further explained how they read "real" books, books that have more mature topics.
This bookclub must be doing something right as the developmentally disabled young adults sat around the table for an hour or more reading, discussing and writing about their current book. I was blessed by just watching them.

Next Chapter Book Club
Check out this list affiliates around the world. There just might be one close to you; or if not, you could start one!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dust Storm Inside

Have you ever had your wood floors refinished while living in the house?

I am living this experiment at the moment!!! Why? I didn't really think it would be that bad. After all, they would be done pretty quickly. Right?
Boy was I wrong!

First, we had to empty upstairs. That meant countless stairs as we carried everything to the basement. Then came the dilemma; what to do with the furniture upstairs? There was no way to move everything to the basement. After some creative designing, most of the furniture fit in the bathroom!!  I was amazed. It pays to have good people working for you.

Second, we also had to figure out where to place our living room furniture. Garage would have been the obvious place except we don't have one! Kitchen was the next obvious place. The amazing fact is that even though there is a lot of stuff in the kitchen, there is still room to cook and eat while sitting on a stool.

The noise, however, is totally a different story. I can stand to be inside the house just long enough to make and eat a meal, and maybe check my e-mail. Today I was also feeling the dust reaching my throat. It is great that we have extraordinary  neighbors who give their extra bedroom for us to use! Why would I want to love anywhere else?

Local library is a safe haven at this time. I sat there for hours yesterday finishing my online item writing course assignments for this week. Today I am using a local coffee shop as my escape. I love living in a community where there are people to help, assist and make difficult days just a little bit better!

What is your community like?