Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pictures of the Week...Sorta

Addie's summation of who we are and what we do.

Daddy-Daughter time (With one eye on the game)

What better place to buy a birthday present for Cousin Lauren?

What?  Okay, so the cake stuck in the pan a little, but it made for a great smiley face!

Everything I cook is "seasoned" with a little LOVE!

Desperate to get a "Picture of the Day"

Watching a TED Talk on the way to the Olive Garden.  Not a good idea for easily distracted drivers!

Brent and Jackie (Love them!)

Lidelle and Rick (Aren't they a lovely couple?)

Our Small Group Newlyweds- Corey and Verni

Scott and Tina - So Sweet!

Rick and Chris - Can you say, "AWKWARD!"???  (Nothing like being our "token" singles, eh?)

Joy and John - Say "Cheese!"

Yep. That's me alright!

And THAT'S the way it is...

This one makes it real.  This is the reality of one of my precious students.  God, please bless "Angel" with an extra dose of Your love today...
Okay, rather than look at it as a failed attempt at keeping my resolution, I'm choosing to look at it as better than I would have done had I not set a goal.  My daily picture plan has already been thwarted.  I left my camera at Small Group on Sunday, but even before my lapse in responsibility, I'd failed.  Here are some recent pictures that depict what things are like over here in my neck of the woods...

A Peek Through the Keyhole

So much to blog about lately and yet I haven't been able to settle my mind on a topic long enough to see it through to fruition. 

I want to share the lessons I'm learning in unlikely places and from "untrained" teachers. 

I want to explore the topic of death.  With Rick Campbell and Vickie Tharpe's passing this month, I'm struck by the reality that death is real and each of us will have our date with it.  Are we living today like we should be? Are we making the most of the precious few moments we have on this big blue ball floating in space?  Are we storing up our treasures in Heaven (or squandering our time on earth with worry, laziness, selfishness, pursuit of temporal things)?

I want to write about each one of my children.  Chelcie is a fabulous, expressive writer.  Drew is a disciplined, focused student.  Addie is a driven, passionate over-achiever/  Sam is a quick-witted, athletic charmer. 

I want to write out some "Big Dreams" and possibilities for Reach Them to Teach Them now that we've officially received our 501c3 status from the IRS.

I want to explore the topic of friendship and what it means to be a friend.

Of course, education remains a hot topic for me.  What does it mean to be a teacher?  What would a perfect school look like, both physically, and with regard to curriculum? 

How can we nurture our families?  How can keep our priorities in line?  If I knew I had one week to live, what would I do with my time?

I want to write about some of my favorite books and explore the power of words and music to impact our souls.

So many little time. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

So, I Went Skydiving...

Call it the gift of a second chance.  Call it a do-over.  Call it a wake-up call.  Whatever it is, it's something for which to be grateful!  I've lived for two days processing the consequences of my arrogance and ignorance.  Without revealing what could be perceived as "gory details" - I'll spare you, but let's just say I've learned my lesson... and I'm hugging my kids a little tighter, loving my husband a little deeper, and focusing on the little things that make life sweeter.  Kind, thoughtful, concerned people are good to have around.  I want to be one of them.  I means a lot.

My devotional calendar verse for today is Lamentations 3:25 "The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him." Thank you Lord for being so very good to me!  I love my family, my students, my friends, and my life!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pictures of the Week- January 8th - 15th

January 8th - Saturday's highlight - No need to say more...

January 9th - Breakfast of choice and preparation for Small Group

Monday, NO SCHOOL!  Sam sleeps in (the snow)!

1/11/11 - Some weird little ice pellets fell from the sky...

Angel, Sherry, and I attended the funeral of our special friend, Vickie Tharpe

A little white chicken chili and flaky biscuits on a c-c-c-cold winter day (our first day back at school this week!

Working on latitude and longitude on a Friday afternoon

1/15/11 Sam's hiding place this morning...Hmmm, where could he be?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Making it Matter

Today was our first day back at school after three days off due to snow.  Fortunately, we started an hour late so my system was not as shocked by the early morning as it could have been.  Another little treat - we're an hour late tomorrow too!  The only downside to the deal is that I miss my plan time.  Oh well, sleep or plan?  I pick sleep.

All my champions showed up for class today (Yay!) and they came in ready to work!  I've been starting the day with a survey question posted on the board.  Today's question was What's Your Favorite Season?  The kids sign their name beside the season they like best, then use the data to create a chart and bar graph of the information.  They've really enjoyed it!  I must give credit where credit is was all Addie's idea.  She posted a question for them when she came to school with me on the day before winter break...What's Your Favorite Pet?  You know, we should allow students to play a part in planning...they know what they want to learn.  Wouldn't it be interesting to see how they'd respond to instruction if they've played a part in planning it?

I'm working hard on expanding their vocabulary as this seems to be an area of weakness.  My number one strategy for doing this is by reading to them every single day - no exceptions!  I try to allow for at least 45 minutes for this.  Today I added some "Advanced Vocabulary" (thinking they'd like to be thought of as "advanced" - hey- fake it 'til you make it, right?)

Instruction began with a Hangman game.  I give them the definition of the word and they chose letters until they figured it out.  Then together we added a context sentence; some examples of what the word is NOT; and a picture to help us remember it.  My plan was to add 5 words per day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; review on Thursdays and have a quiz on Friday.  Doesn't work well with 2-day weeks, but we managed to cover 6 new words pretty well today.  Looks like we'll carry this week's words over to next week, but it'll be okay to start 'em slow.
Here's a list of this week's words:

Lately, I've been doing some soul-searching on where I should be next year.  With the option of staying at Sarah Moore Greene, or returning to West Valley, I'm struggling...I know that I can make a difference at SMG, but I miss my friends at WVMS.  That's really what it comes down to for me.  If I had a network of professional colleagues at SMG like I have at WVMS, I'd probably stay...The isolation has been very tough for a relational person like me. And my baby girl, Addie will start 6th grade.   Also, I've been approached by a couple of administrators about the possibility of being a Mentor teacher for TAP.  More money.  Opportunity to help teachers AND teach in the classroom...Ugh!  I just don't know!!!!  Then again, my "baby" is growing up.  Reach Them to Teach Them is positioned to grow.  What if I let go of my "security blanket?"   Clarity of mind is at the top of my prayer list these days 'cause it's pretty cloudy up there these days. 

On an entirely different note, I attended my friend, Vickie Tharpe's funeral last night.  This will be a separate post.  I still can't believe she's gone.

Also, we had our first 2011 Reach Them to Teach Them Board Meeting.  Only five of our ten members showed up.  Time to build our Board.  I think I've worn them out.  Our meeting was productive today though and I look forward to the future, especially Monday when we have a strategic planning meeting with Dr. Michael McIntyre from UT.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snowy Days and Monday Always Get Me...OUT OF SCHOOL!

Addie is in her "Crash Test Dummy" mode!
 With nothing on the ground when I went to bed, I was pleasantly surprised to find 3" of fresh powder on the ground when Tom woke me up at 3:00 AM to "show me the snow."  I promptly went back to sleep and remained that way until the wild things pounced on me about 7:45. 

The day was spent procrastinating, eating, sledding, and laughing, and a good time was had by all.

Tonight, Drew is in Chattanooga with a FOOT of snow.  Chelcie is hanging out at her home away from home, being an "independent woman," and Addie and Sam are cheering on the Ducks with our best Alaskan friends and soccer buddies.

As for me and my two husbands, we just devoured some scrumptious spaghetti, fresh bread, and are settled in for a little BCS Championship Football Game:  Ducks vs. Tigers. 

Not exactly the most fascinating post of my blogging career, but it's about the journey anyway, right?
Don't be fooled.  Sam is up to no good!

Only two of 'em are mine...well, three in all.  The tall one's mine too.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Missing Part II

As this day winds down, I am so grateful that I didn't miss this email from Sam's PE teacher.  It speaks for itself.  Thank you, Lord again and some more!!!

Hi Amy !

It's Roie Talley from Lotts !  I just wanted to send you a little note to say what a fine young man Sam is !  He has ALWAYS been a perfect gentleman, a great kid, and a friendly & kind boy.....but today he really shined !!!!

We were playing a game in PE and at one point during the game, both Sam and another boy on his team had a goal scored against them that I didn't notice.  They both came up to me and admitted that the goal was scored on THEIR team, not the other team, knowing that this goal would put their team behind.  HOW'S THAT FOR HONESTY !!???!!??

I was SO proud of the 2 of them that I stopped the game & let the other children know that these boys were a wonderful example to follow.  We rewarded them with a little sticker, and WOW it really snowballed.  The other kids started playing fair & being totally honest....a teacher's dream-come-true!

When he gets home, please give him an extra hug, and one from me too !  We are so proud of him.  You & your husband have really raised some great kids!!!!  Keep up the good work !

Hope this made your day, as Sam made mine !


Have you ever thought much about that word?  Missing.  It is one powerful little word.  It can bring to mind all sorts of connotations.  Missing what?  Missing home?  Missing someone special?  Missing a foul shot?  Missing piece to a puzzle?  In the fabulous book I'm reading right now (Cutting for Stone), Missing is the name of a hospital in Ethiopia, the setting for the story.   I hope I don't miss the point.

Tonight, I find myself missing my friend Rick Campbell who passed away this afternoon.  In tribute to Rick, I have to share the impact that he had on me.  Back in 2001, just after Addie was born, we started visiting a new church called WestLake that was meeting in the gym at Lotts Elementary School.  Tom and the pastor had hit it off when they chaperoned a fourth grade field trip to a Smokeys' baseball game.Chelcie and the pastor daughter, Ashley, were good friends in Ms. Crossley's 4th grade class.

Pastor Rick aka "Ashley's dad" soon became a regular fixture in my life.  He needed someone to run the children's ministry in this new church and he was convinced that I was the one to take on the challenge.  No way it's for me, I told him repeatedly, but he would not take no for an answer.  Finally, the Holy Spirit of God, speaking through Rick Campbell, convinced me that leading this ministry was something I needed to do.  I accepted the position while protesting and declaring loudly that I was not "a church worker!" and "you don't even know me!"  etc., etc. Persistent doesn't even come close to describing Rick's boisterous and jovial personality.  He would not quit.

My three years at WestLake were filled with challenge, heartbreak, celebration, and the cultivation of many treasured friendships.  When a church "train wreck" occurred that led Rick and his family away from WestLake, I stayed to help pick up the pieces, but it never felt the same.  No one was as transparent with me as Rick had been.  No one poured spiritual truths into my life the way Rick had.  No one put his hand on my shoulder and told me that God had a plan to use me in a powerful way like Rick did.

And I miss him.  I miss the fact that there are so many people in the world today who need those words whispered (or shouted) into their ears - people are aimlessly meandering through their days as their days turn into weeks; the weeks to months; months to years.  Before they know it, they look around and life has passed them by.  This will NOT happen to me!  In honor of people like Rick who invested themselves in me, I owe it to him and others to invest MYSELF in the lives of others.  This is an opportunity I will not be "missing."

Ummm, missing.  I hope the meteorologists aren't missing the forecast for tonight because that would disappoint a lot of east Tennessee students and teachers.  Sorry, parents, it doesn't sound like you'll be missing your kids tomorrow 'cause they should be HOME with you!

Tom and I went to the 9PM game last night with Suzanne and Grant.  I've missed her so much! The game was late, but  I didn't miss my sleep (got an hour late this morning - Thanks Dr. Mc!)  AND the VOLS didn't miss many three pointers! They dominated!

Our seats were fabulous!  We were worried we might miss the tip-off, but we arrived just in time! 

I miss SUMMER!

These are my CHAMPIONS!  Boy, did I miss them over the long break!  They said they missed me too.

I wonder if my birds have missed having their feeder full...

Here are the champions preparing snowballs to throw at each other.  Thankfully, most of them missed!

Can ANY teacher forbid children from enjoying the snow?  (I love the two kids who have BOTH hands lifted in the air) - Don't miss these moments.
My pictures tonight have a theme.  Missing.  Surprised, aren't you, beloved reader?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Heavenly Pillow Fight

My backyard, January 5, 2011 - Counting my blessings!

This is Grandmom and Papaw's house - just a few doors up the street - another blessing!

Not a great day for a picnic, but our Christmas tree seems right at home.
I love the contrasting colors in this picture!

This is what I found when I arrived home from school today.  Three kids hiding in the closet - So wonderful to hear the laughter of 3/4 of my kids (Drew was working) There are three of 'em under there.. Look closely!

Back porch

Front porch

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Reach (Up) to Teach Them in 2011

Dreaming Big in 2011 - Five Goals and Ideas for Building a Dream
1. I know that God created me for a specific reason.  He has a purpose and a plan designed especially for me.  I feel pretty sure I know what His calling for me is, but I don't know exactly what it will look like when He's finished with me.  Jeremiah 29:11 promises me that "God knows the plans He has for AMY CRAWFORD, plans to prosper AMY CRAWFORD, and not to harm AMY CRAWFORD - Plans to give AMY CRAWFORD a hope and a future..."   Yee-haw!  That verse alone gets be fired up and ready to run into the game without spending time on the practice field.  God is getting me ready.  He uses challenges, difficulties, and even unexpected blessings to prepare me for what He's got in store for me.  I will take comfort in knowing that I am a tool in His hand.  I will seek and follow His leading in my life. 

2. In 2011, I'm going to look for divine appointments.  I will listen with ears that EXPECT to hear that "still, small voice" and I will see with eyes that LOOK for opportunities to serve Him.  This verse from one of my favorite praise songs sums it up:

These hands are yours (These hands don't need to be spending time on Facebook)
Teach them to serve (Opportunities are everywhere!)
As you please and I'll reach out (When I reach out, I will push my limits so that the greatest of God will be revealed)
Desperate to see all the greatness of God (I AM desperate to see all the greatness of God)
May my soul rest assured in you (No need to worry, stress, or be anxious.  It's not about me anyway)

And so, in 2011, I am desperate to see all the greatness of God each and every day!   

3. Shhh!  I will be a quiet servant, not calling attention to myself and as a result, I will experience joy and fulfillment like I've never known!
Start each day with other people in mind.  Lose the selfishness.  Live out Mark 9:35 "Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  
4. At least once a week, I will take stock of things that I am grateful for in my life.  I will develop at "attitude of gratitude" and because I have tangible proof that God's "got my back" my faith will increase, fear will diminish, and I will be able to look back and see that God is at work in my life.

5.  Putting off action is killing my dreams.  Reach Them to Teach Them is not in the place it needs to be due to my procrastinatic (yes, that's my made-up word) leadership style.  I am the founder and director of an incredible organization that is staffed by talented, gifted, and very busy volunteers who have many options when it comes to volunteering their time, and yet, they've deemed our dream worthy.  With this position comes a responsibility for me to step up and take action TODAY, not tomorrow, not when I feel like it...NOW!  My first step begins now with small steps toward the mountain.  I know that if I keep taking those small steps and others come along beside me, and I commit our decisions and direction to fervent prayer, then God Himself will direct our paths. we go!  2011 is the year for me to take giant steps of faith by taking small steps right now.  My hand is reaching up for Yours, Daddy....Lead me where You'd have me go.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goal Setting vs. Resolutions

I hate failure.  I detest the feeling that I could have, but didn't.  For this reason, I've determined NOT to set resolutions, but rather goals.  Goals are targets.  Things you shoot for-just ask Addie, my little soccer star.  I will set my 2011 goals in the following areas, and I challenge you set some too.  Care to share?

1. spiritual- This can include spending some time in reflective thought, getting involved in a church or Life group, praying, talking to your family about what they believe, etc.
In 2011, I'm going to feed my soul as well as my body.  You'll find me at NorthStar Church on Sunday mornings.  I'll get ready for school by listening (and singing LOUDLY) to some praise music on my way out to the Locker Room, and I'll dig deeper into the "treasure book" that God sent for me. 

2. personal- This can be anything that YOU want to improve about you. Do you want to have more friends? Do you want to get involved in our community? What do you need to do to make that happen?
I want to be bolder.  To fear-LESS.  To chase lions.  To "go for it!" I want to be used up completely in my pursuit of my Savior and I want my "self" to become less and less each and every day. 

3. physical-How do you want to improve or maintain your health? Exercise and diet are obvious areas, but what about what you put into your mind?  Cut down on Cokes.  Walk as much as possible and run a little every now and then.  Keep an eye on that scale so my mid-40's body doesn't take on a life of its own (any more than it already has!)

4. professional- My job is to be an "effective teacher".  What is this exactly and how I can I work toward that end?  Be a student first, a teacher second.  Learn my subject(s) well.  Don't hold back.  If I see a need, don't hesitate, use what I have to meet that need and DO NOT BE LAZY!

5. intellectual- How can you improve your mind? What kinds of things interest you? How can you feed your mind? Read novels, poetry, articles, etc.  Listen to good stuff - podcasts, lectures, sermons, music...Watch.  Pay attention. 

6. relational- Do you want to keep in touch with friends more often?  Do you want to get to know them better? How can you improve your relationships with other people in your life?  Give the best of myself to those that matter most.  Don't put family on the back burner to chase a dream.  Keep family first and trust God to multiply the hours in my day to be more productive in less time.

Say, "Cheeeeesy Pictures!"

This is what happens when you don't use a flash...Dollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 29 with the Keeners!  Brrrrrr!

The Boy Crawfords went to Nashville for The Game.  Love that Sam is wearing his new PJ pants.

Yeah, it's the highlight of my New Year's Eve - A fresh, new, 8 lb. bag of the "good stuff!"

Sam and I are working our way through Book 1 - This is my "Oops! I almost forgot to take my 1st picture of the New Year" picture.  Thanks Addie!

NorthStar Church - January 2, 2011 - The "Bubble" Church

Chelcie, Addie, and I walked/ran (sorta) Lakeshore on Monday, followed by a reward trip to Long's.

Drew and Daddy put up the tire swing.  Sam has a new reading spot.  Just wish it was warmer-Brrrr!
I've committed to taking 365 pictures this year.  A MINIMUM of one picture per day.  No set guidelines.  Just a visual documentation of the day.  Rather than post one picture every day, I'll group them.  Some of them will likely be attempts at creativity.  Others will be attempts at keeping my commitment.  I hope that some of them will capture the "essence" of the day or serve as a sort of time capsule.  Here are my Daily Pictures for December 30-January 3rd.  Say, "Cheeeeeeese!"