Are You Encouraging Your Child to Become All God Created Him to Be?

Heather & Crystal

Heather and Crystal

And there they are – my two daughters, Heather and Crystal, speaking recently at Style Speaks, sponsored by Created Woman in Austin, Texas. What a fun and empowering night we had! ‪There were other inspiring speakers on the program, as well as fashion shows and shopping sprees that were made possible from vendors all across Austin and Houston. For sure, it was a real good girl time that was enjoyed by over 100 women in attendance.

Style Speaks is just one of the events that Heather sponsors as Founder of Created Woman throughout the year. Her vision combines her love of both Fashion and Faith to empower women to become the woman they were created to be, both inside and out. As owner of Your Fitness Designer, Crystal’s vision is helping women design a fitness and food plan and achieve life balance, even with a busy life.

As I sat listening to each of them speak, I couldn’t help but think how their life could have gone in an opposite direction had they listened to Mama.

You see, like most parents, when they were young girls, I felt that I should play a major role in helping them choose a career path. I even thought I knew what their career path should be. Since I was a school teacher, and dearly loved my profession, my guidance pushed very hard in that direction. “Teaching is what you should go into, girls. When you get married, you will have the whole summer off, plus all school holidays to be home with your children.”

“No, no, no!” “I don’t like teaching and working with children,” they both protested!

“I want to do something in fashion,” Heather would scream out.

“I like exercising and learning about staying fit,” Crystal would declare.

“Oh, you are just kids; you are too young to know right now what you want to be. Besides, you should be thinking about something that will earn you a living,” I argued.

And then one day, coming from the pulpit, my pastor, the late David Berkheimer, had these words to say, and I quote:

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Pastor David went on to explain that verse by saying: “In the way he should go” means in the way that he is bent. The way the limb on the tree is bent, is the way in which it will grow. You can’t un-bend the limb on the tree and make it grow the opposite way that it was formed.

“Parents,” he went on to say, “Pay close attention to the things that your child is interested in. Encourage them in that area because that is the way in which God has “bent them” and those are the gifts God has placed within him/her to bring honor to Him.”

And with that, I let them fly out of Mama’s nest to pursue their own interests, and we, as their parents, invested in their college education to pursue their dreams in their chosen career field.

What about you? Do you recognize certain interests and gifts in your child? Are you actively encouraging and equipping them in that area? Oh sure, I understand that a child’s interests often changes as he grows, but I have to believe that there is a distinct passion deep inside of him that God created within the child to bring honor to God’s name. The passion that the child exhibits, even as a youngster, is something that he also really enjoys doing.

Think about it: “How many times have you heard an adult say: “All my life I had a desire inside of me to be a nurse, but life and circumstances got in my way, and I never pursued it.” Or have you heard someone say: “It is too risky; I am afraid I might fail if I follow my dreams and passion.” Perhaps that person was you!

So today, I encourage you:

Look and listen for your child’s passion, and encourage him in that area.
Also, pull out that passion and dream inside of you that may have lain dormant for years.
It is never too late to pursue your God-given passion
and become all God created you to be.

Helping Children Who Struggle Learning to Read

Zach Tim Reading 250“Mom, I wish I could read like the rest of my family,” said my seven-year-old grandson, Zach. “Keep practicing because once you learn how to read, you can do anything,” his mom replied.

And practice he did, spending many hours with his dad, Tim, and other family members reading out loud to them.  All of a sudden, it seemed as though Zach caught onto this “reading thing” and it has become one of his favorite things to do.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case with some children.  Many children struggle in learning how to read, leaving them very frustrated.

My guest writer today, Laura Croom from Athens, Georgia is a certified reading teacher who knows first-hand the struggles many children face in learning to read.  I know you will be enlightened by her knowledge as a reading specialist, and especially her love for her students.

It’s the beginning of your second grade year.  You were top of your class in Kindergarten.  You started having some problems keeping up in First Grade.  Now you’re really behind your peers and the benchmark is set for you. You know your teacher has talked to your parents.  Your parents care and are willing to do whatever it takes to help you succeed. Your teacher has agreed to tutor you after school.

You get your first progress report.  It says unsatisfactory in reading.  The teacher does not think about you seeing it and being totally devastated.  She just assumes your parents will look at it and move forward with the goals they have set for you.  You cry because you’re so disappointed.  Your mother tries to calm you down and tell you it will be okay.  But you know you didn’t do well and your self-esteem is ruined. You go in your room and write a note to your mom.  It says, “I am bad at reading books.”  Your mom and teacher text back and forth trying to figure out a way to help you feel better as well as help you learn.

After many weeks of one-on-one assistance, you begin to improve.  You are reading on grade level.  You recognize as many sight words as your peers.  Your fluency rate is still a little slow, but it has definitely improved.  You have earned 24 Accelerated Reader points.  Things are starting to click.  Your self-esteem is higher, and you are proud of yourself.

The above is a true story.  I have been teaching for 14 years.  This isn’t the first time I have dealt with a struggling reader.  However, it is the first time I realized the student’s severe frustration and devastation.  This child broke my heart.  I hated the fact she felt so bad about herself and her ability.

Prior to sending the progress report this quarter, I spoke with her parents.  We discussed issues she had the previous year and was currently having.  We decided that one-on-one tutoring would be the best way to deal with her problems.  I did several diagnostic tests to determine the best course of action.  After looking at the data, I determined the child had a significant phonological weakness.  She knew an average amount of sight words for her age and reading level.  She exceeded in listening comprehension, but reading comprehension level was extremely low.  The data only showed what I knew to be true about the student’s abilities.  With all this information in hand, I made a plan to help the student become a more successful reader and build her self-esteem back up.

We went to work!  For six weeks, the student has received small group reading instruction five days for 35 minutes per day.  This instruction included reading leveled text and answering comprehension questions about the text, Reading Mastery, Sweet Phonics and sight word recognition.  She also received one-on-one instruction after school three days a week for 45 minutes.  During these sessions we worked on grammar skills, leveled text, comprehension, sight words, decodable readers, and Accelerated Reader.  Her parents provided her with extra support from home.  They read leveled text and trade books to her, with her, and listened to her read them.  They practiced sight words and writing.  Needless to say, we succeeded and met our goal for the end of the first quarter of school.

She is currently reading above the benchmark, and she knows more than the required amount of sight words.  Her fluency rate shows that she is reading slower than her average peer, but she is reading fast enough to comprehend and enjoys reading.  In my book, that is all that matters!!!

I share this story with you for many reasons:

  • I want teachers to realize some students are giving all they’ve got, but need more support to be successful.
  • I want parents to realize reading is a difficult skill to master especially if you struggle to read.
  • The most important lesson anyone can take from this story is that teachers, parents, and students have to give 100% for children to be successful readers.  I’m a firm believer that reading, writing, math, science and social studies go hand in hand.

Thank you, Laura, for bringing to light an issue many children face.  Clearly, your love for your students shines through as you walk the extra mile with them in their struggles of learning to read.

Laura’s Bio

Laura CroomsI’ve been teaching 14 years. I have a specialist degree. I have endorsements in gifted, ELL and reading. I taught kindergarten for 6 years and second grade for 2. I teach in a rural community much like the one where I grew up in Donalsonville, Georgia.

(An added note) Laura is my cousin, and I am so proud of her. Not only does she root for her students, but she is an avid Georgia Bulldog fan.


hannah zach readingBack to Zach, along with a word from his mom, Crystal: “I am so proud of Zach and his discovery that he can now read.  In fact, I am proud of both my children.  Hannah has been an excellent example for her brother for reading.  She loves it.  When on Friday night, your children want to sit by the fire pit, and read, you know you are creating memories and growing their mind.”

Zach BioZach’s Bio

Zach is in the second grade. Not only does he love to read, but he is quite a soccer player.  Another special gift he has is his sense of humor, which brings so much joy to others.

Kids Having Church With the Elderly

faye featuredWhile on a visit to my elderly and disabled mother in Donalsonville, Georgia, I peeked out the window just as two vans were pulling up the driveway. Looking closely, I saw Oak View Church of God, the church my mother attended when she was able to attend, written on the side of both vans. “What is going on?” I wondered.

Once parked, the doors swung open, and kids started tumbling out on both sides of the vehicles. I watched as adults lined them up outside the vans to make their entrance inside the house. I said not a word to my mother, but I began to have a suspicion as to why those kids were at her house.

And so it was, I opened the door, and about twenty kids marched inside, single-file, and passed by the recliner where my mother was sitting, giving her a big neck hug. Was she ever surprised and delighted at her little visitors!

And that is not all they did. Once everyone had given her a big hug, they had church! Oh yes, such singing and scripture reciting like you never heard, as they sat down on the floor at her feet. Some sang a solo, at other times, they all joined in perfect unison to form a choir. I gotta say, “You haven’t heard Amazing Grace sung until you hear it from the mouths of children.” No doubt in my mind, the heavenly choir was joining in from above.

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After an hour, their teachers informed them it was time to go. One little boy decided it was time to pray for my mother, and did he ever send up a prayer. “Dear God, I ask you in the name of Jesus, to touch Mrs. Faircloth’s body, and help her to be able to go to church Sunday morning.”

I had stood in the corner the whole hour, trying to snap pictures through misty eyes. My mother’s words: “You kids have made my day. I feel just like I have been to church.”

And, indeed, she had, though not in the regular building we think of when we say church!

My friends, my website is devoted to encouraging adults to Get Involved in Helping Hurting Children. For sure, if you have been following my posts the last two years, we have covered so many circumstances that could damage a child for years, unless we got involved in helping heal their hurt.

But, today, I wanted to stress the point of how there are times, we also need to get involved as parents, grandparents, and yes, The Church in teaching our children how to help others, particularly the elderly who can no longer attend church.

My thanks to Shirley Easom, Sherrie Taylor, and Nikiska Martin for bringing the church to my mother’s home and teaching children the value of visiting and giving of themselves to the elderly and home-bound. May more churches catch their vision.

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