The Mission 8: Put the book into the hands of the children

Welcome once again friends. If you have been reading prior blogs, you probably know there are three missions:

  1. Put the book into the hands of the children
  2. Create a residential-work community for developmentally disabled adults  based on the model of www.lambsfarm.org
  3. Create a tuition free college that stresses work, character and citizenship based on the model of www.cofo.edu

Of these three missions, the first, ‘put the book into the hands of the children’ is by far the most important.

This is the mission for which God made His will known to me.  If you don’t know how that happened, please read the Backstory 5 blog where I describe this experience.   I believe my responsibility is to do everything that I can to carry out this mission.

But God needs all people of faith to participate in this mission.  And like the message of the book, God has given you gifts which you can use to serve one another and in doing so, serve Him.

We, people of faith, all need to work together to make sure that young children have the opportunity to come to know Him, that they may one day choose to follow Him.

So, below is the draft of a beginning plan to help us start.  I’m sure it’s quite naïve and I’m equally sure it will evolve as many of you offer insights and great ideas or even volunteer your gifts to His service.  He has given us a great challenge!

2013

  1. Engaging Churches and other organizations

As we enter 2013, I will begin work to engage churches and other organizations in my community, to get the book to youngsters.  It should become a prized possession to be read over and over; to be absorbed.  And hopefully many churches and organizations will be moved to serve this mission.

  •  I have committed to contribute a portion of the Author’s profit to this number one mission as well as to the other two missions that have captured my heart.
  • I will also share the Author’s portion of the profit with any church or organization that chooses to participate in getting the books to the children.
    • Church groups can create a mission of their own and raise funds to distribute copies of the book to children in their community or to send them to other locations.
    • Many churches and organizations have mission groups that have to fund their trips.  These groups can choose to sell the books to help fund the mission.  In short, this can be a fundraiser for non-profit activities.  At the same time, they can ask that people who want to participate in getting the book into the hands of children, purchase an additional book or books to be given out to the children during their mission experience.

2. Increasing accessibility to the story

 As an Artist and Author, I will work to create a version of the story that can be produced more economically to make the book accessible to more children.

This version was created with colorful illustrations to draw children in.  At the time, I did not yet know of God’s mission.  Printing in full color process is rather expensive and that is reflected in the retail price.

I don’t want to forgo color, but black and white is far more economical.  So I am thinking I will create the full story as a coloring book, reducing the illustrations to line drawings.   A benefit to this is that the same child may be excited to get the coloring book for several years and as their coloring skills improve, they create an updated version.  To make this happen, I will be trying to find crayons to be packed with the coloring book.  The crayons must be economical as well, but still provide rich color.  So there is some research to be done and perhaps some negotiating.

      3. Research

 And there is more research that needs to happen.  I want to learn what is required to obtain an ISBN number and what different printing techniques are available and at what cost.  Clearly, there is more work than I can accomplish by myself.

      4. Creative outreach!

  •  I have already reached out to the pre-school program at my own church and encouraged the staff to consider putting on the first ‘play’ based on “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There.”
  • I’ve brainstormed a ‘flashmob’ event for next year combining music and the story and hope I can get a mall to agree to the event.
  • I am planning a Christmas Tree design for our local Festival of Trees that raises funds for the Baby Fold.  The tree will be decorated with all stars created by children and creative supporters of this mission.  And I hope I can fashion a shining star in the image of “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” for the top.
  • I will try again, to engage many people in creating youtube videos that feature this story.  As we spread this story, we spread His word for little children

5. Transparency

I have stated that I am committed to contribute a portion of the Author’s profit to these missions.  Before I started on the path to publication, I prayed for guidance in this.  You see, I feel that this is God’s story, not mine.  And I asked God, as I have many times in the past, what portion I am entitled to.  I told God that I expect to be fine in retirement but I want to help my grandchildren with their higher-education goals.  And this time, I receive profound ‘peace’ in response to my prayer.

So I want to be very clear:  I do intend to use a portion of the profit to put away for my grandchildren, some of whom are struggling with college expenses now, others have quite a few years yet to go.

But in 2013 I intend to work with an attorney to establish the best mechanism, Not-for-profit or Foundation etc., to ensure that a portion of the Author’s profit is allocated to fund these missions.  I want all participants to be able to access information about the financial state of these missions.

This story has been a gift and one that keeps on giving.  I am certain that at some point, these missions will generate jobs and hopefully put a few people to work.  And then the gift I’ve been given will give back again.

God is at work.  And helping to do His work is a JOY!

May you all find wonder and joy and peace this Christmas.

The Mission 7: A Tuition-Free College for Illinois

Welcome again.  I’m so pleased that you are interested in learning more about my mission.  It is really a mission of three parts.  The first is the mission to share the story of God’s love with all little children everywhere.  The second is the mission to facilitate the creation and development of a residential and work community for developmentally disable adults based on the model of Lambs Farm of Libertyville, Il.

The third is a mission to facilitate the creation of a tuition-free college based on the model of College of the Ozarks in Missouri.

College of the Ozarks is a Christian liberal arts college.  It is self-described as ‘Hard Work U.’ While students do not pay tuition, they are required to work on campus.  But there are other important goals as well.

Students:

  • Don’t Pay Tuition
  • Work for an Education
  • Graduate Without Debt
  • Develop Character
  • Value God and Country

Please take the time to follow the link about and click on each goal listed on the home page for a complete description.

Now, you may be curious as to why this college stands out for me as a model.  It has something to do with my personal history.

I feel that I was very fortunate to be able to ‘go away’ to college and live on campus.  In 1964 when I started at ISU, there were no co-ed dorms, but there were curfews.  We ladies had to be in the dorm at 10:00 on week nights and 10:30 on weekends.  It was a different time.  And I feel that made it a safe environment to learn to live life and mature from a high-school graduate who had been quite protected growing up, to a responsible and self-sufficient adult.  I loved my time in college as an undergrad.

But going away to college was a special opportunity in my family, one that I didn’t really understand at first.  My parents did not attend college but encouraged education.  And my three brothers all started at community college in Chicago and worked part time to pay for their education.

I always knew that I wanted to go to college.  And I didn’t even imagine myself going to a community college.  I only envisioned going away to school somewhere.  I know that I was quite naive because I’m quite sure I didn’t consider the costs of tuition or other expenses as I ‘dreamed’ up my college experience.

I applied for a few colleges, some out of state, but that wasn’t even considered by my parents. I didn’t realize it at the time but out of state tuition was simply not in any realistic budget.  I think I may have been accepted at one out of state school because I remember being enlightened by my Father who explained to me that going out of state was much more expensive and more than he and my Mother could pay.  In the end, I went to ISU, one of our State Universities, because an older cousin had graduated from there, and I think my parents felt comfortable with that little familiarity.

I also started college the day after my high-school graduation.  At that time Chicago high schools graduate two classes a year, one in January and one in June.  I was a January graduate.  So I started college in the middle of the year.

The night of my graduation, my Uncle/Godfather and Aunt stopped by the house to wish me well.  They found me home alone and crying.  I was crying because I had just learned that my parents had taken out a second mortgage on their house to cover my dorm and expenses.  I’m not sure I even understood exactly how a mortgage worked but I did understand that they had risked something to provide me this opportunity.  And there was suddenly a huge weight on my shoulders.  What if I hated it?  What if I did not do well?  What then?  How could I come home?  I was trapped.

But it had been set in motion and the next morning my parents and I rose early for the 3 plus hour road trip to move me to my first college dorm.

You will understand how thankful I am that by the end of the first day, I loved being there.  And I never looked back.

So you see I recognize what a blessing my parents gave me in providing this opportunity.  My education has served me well, and I somehow grew up and began to take responsibility as I learned to manage my life on campus.

Flash forward!  Today I have 15 grandchildren.  I’d like each of them to have the experience of going away to school, if they would like to do so.  But their parents, like mine, are really pressed to finance that.  So the older ones are struggling to get their education in whatever way they can.  And many of them are resistant to taking on a large debt load.  While that shows good sense in my opinion, it is hampering their ability to get the full educational experience that I feel was so valuable to me.

I would like to help them if I can make that possible.  So when I learned about College of the Ozarks on a TV program, it got my attention.  I couldn’t stop thinking about this program.  I encouraged the older grandchildren to look into it.  Since it is in another state I have no idea what chance they might have to be accepted.

And of course that led me to ask myself, “Why don’t we have something like this in Illinois?”  Mind you,  I appreciate our community college system.  But not only do I think it is good for some young people to get out a bit on their own, but the program at College of the Ozarks has goals of building character and love and respect of country!  That is the kind of education I’d like to see my grandchildren and their children have access to.

And what I want for my grandchildren, I want to help make available to our community.  So this mission has been on my mind for a couple of years.

The creation of a tuition-free college based on the model of College of the Ozarks is the third part of what I believe my mission to be.

And how do I think I can facilitate these missions?  Well it is not a one-person job, that’s for sure.  So in my next blog, I’ll share my thoughts on how I hope to get these missions started.  And I hope you will join me for the ride as this part of the story unfolds.