Meditation in Schools?

Meditation in Schools?  Worth Consideration!

Does the word meditation make you uncomfortable?  I am reading, and recommend, a book by Russell Simmons called “Success Through Stillness”.  Simmons himself meditates twice a day for 20 minute intervals. . .with his children.  He is recommending that we teach meditation in schools.  Based on my own experience as a high-school teacher, as a Mother and with experience meditating, I agree.

Photo of a note that states: What's Your Bright Idea? [and in handwriting] A chip inserted in humans at birth that induces meditation when one is being unreasonable.

But if the word meditation makes you uncomfortable, as it once did me, we probably need to carefully define what is meant by meditation in the context of Simmons’s book. . .and this article.

“Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs.” – Wikipedia

But here, in the West, we tend to focus only on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of this exercise of the mind.

“Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure,[7] depression, and anxiety.” – Wikipedia

“. . . includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion,[3] love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.” – Wikipedia

The practice of meditation is one of sitting in silence. . .and trying to clear your mind of all the clutter that runs through it most of the time.  Generally, this is supported by focusing on one thing. . . such as the sound/feel of your own breathing. . .or reciting a manta. . .over and over.  That is simplistic. . .but the point is that if you manage to clear your mind. . .it gets some much needed rest from the chaos and noise that is everyday life for so many of us.  It takes you to a place where you find inner peace.  And that brings calm.

When I was a young woman, meditation entered the pop culture when the Beatles started hanging out with a yogi. . .whose title and name I no longer recall.  At the time it struck me as bizarre and something from which to shy away.

But, you know how you meet people as you travel through life, sometimes just a passing meeting. . .other times a brief friendship. . .and with each you feel that you have gained something through the experience?  Well, I once became acquainted with a colleague.  We had a ‘head’ connection of some type.  He was very intelligent and open, although he was, I would say, a tortured soul.

When I learned that my colleague and friend studied meditation, I asked him about it.  He pointed out that “Jesus himself meditated” and that it was very common in eastern countries.  And he wondered:  Since Jesus meditated, why do you suppose the Christian church no longer teaches meditation?  Well priests and monks and perhaps other clergy practice meditation . . .is it possible that it is seen as a practice for only certain Christians today?  His thoughts . . .got my mind working on the topic.

Rather than give into the temptation to tell you about my journey with meditation, suffice it to say that I started to learn about meditation. . . and to try to practice it.  Meditation became another marker in my journey . . .a marker of progress. . .life changing progress.  Now, I should add, that I see Jesus as my guru even though my initial lessons came from a holy man from the east.  And I always ask Jesus to be with me and to guide me as I try to meditate.  I personally believe meditation helped me to build a personal relationship with God.  That is my personal story.

But that is not the objective of putting the practice into schools.  The movement is not about religion. . .any religion.  Once you understand what happens physically for people who meditate you will understand why this movement to bring the practice into schools is supported by many who meditate.

So below, I’ve summarized some key points about the physical impact of meditation from Simmons’s book, especially those which are supported by research.

Consider the brain

There are many different parts to the brain.

  • You probably already know that the cerebrum is the largest part and is divided into right and left hemispheres.  The left is where linear, logical and language-based thinking occur.  The right is where non-linear and emotional thinking takes place.
  • The corpus calloseum is a bridge that connects the two sides.  However as we age we tend to focus on one side over the other and stop using the bridge.  Meditation helps you to start using that bridge between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

Think about it.  There is great value in being able to tap into the side of your brain that you have come to use least.  Think how much smoother communication would be with this versatility.

Supporting evidence:  Simmons points to a study by UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging . . .using  diffusion tensor imaging [similar to MRI] to look at the structural connectivity of the brain.  They found the corpus calloseum to be more connected with the right and left hemispheres in people who meditate.

You will find you can do things that you’ve wanted to do . . .but never felt equipped to do.  [I can’t draw.  I can’t do math. Again simplistic but I hope it makes the point]

  • The limbic brain is the part of your brain where the most basic emotions are generated. . .like fight or flight.
  • The amygdala sits in front of the limbic brain to guard it and advise if a situation is dangerous or not.  Simmons creates an analogy of the limbic brain to a car owner and the amygdala to the car alarm system.

When the amygdala sounds the alarm, the limbic brain releases stress hormones [adrenaline and cortisol] that create a sense of fear and anxiety in your body.  You need this fight/flight alarm. . .but meditation can train the amygdala to differentiate between annoying situations. . .and those that are truly dangerous.

[Think road rage.  Think anger management.]

Meditation gives the amygdala a chance to make more calm assessments of the situation.

Simmon’s thesis is that we would all be better off by not releasing these ‘toxic’ chemicals so often. . .so that we might choose to let some of those situations, those that are not really life threatening, just go by.

Now, think about your ‘acting out’ or ‘explosive’ child or teen.  Is it possible that meditation can help them to not react out of proportion to a situation?  Would that serve their best interests?  Simmons believes so.  I do as well. . .because I have told my children if there was one thing I could go back and change. ..I would teach them meditation from a young age and we would practice it daily, just as Russell Simmons is doing with his children.

Relaxation and reduced stress

Meditation helps relax your mind.  [Hey, SuperMoms. . .could your mind need a little R&R?  Seems like anyone with too much on their plate. . .or who is subject to stress could use it too.]

We always have electronic signals knows as beta, alpha, delta, theta and gamma waves, pulsing through our brains. . .awake or asleep.  [The brain is always in action.]

  • Beta waves are associated with goal-oriented tasks and problem solving
  • Alpha and theta waves are associated with restfulness
  • Delta waves are normally most active during sleep.

Supporting evidence:  In the 70’s cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson conducted a study at Harvard where he measured the blood pressure, brain waves, and body temperatures of people meditating.  [I remember reading years ago that studies of a group of monks who meditated showed that their body temperatures rose during meditation.  Wow!  Sounds like that would burn calories.]

The study showed that while meditating, people used 17 percent less oxygen, lowered their heart rates by three beats a minute, and decreased their beta brain waves while increasing alpha and theta brain waves.  Dr. Benson concluded that the rest people receive during meditation is often as deep or even deeper than what they might experience during sleep.

A recent study by the University of Sydney in Australia also showed that when we meditate, our beta waves decrease.  During meditation, the part of your brain that is making plans and solving problems gets to rest!  As a result, you feel relaxed and more focused.  [I recall reading an article that stated that Buckminster Fuller did not sleep at night.  Rather, he would sleep in 10 minute snatches whenever he needed rest.  Perhaps he was meditating and getting even better rest than he would sleeping.]

Retraining your brain

Simmons asserts that through meditation, we can actually make physical changes in our brains. . .changes that promote emotional and spiritual happiness.

The western view that as we age our brains lose the ability to grow is being dispelled.  Scientists are discovering that through meditation, our brains can keep literally growing into old age.

[I wonder what meaning this has for Alzheimers and other demetia?]

Supporting Evidence:  Dr. Eileen Luders, a professor at UCLA [cited as helping with the UCLA study mentioned above] states:  “Regular use [of meditation] may strengthen the connections between neurons and can also make new connetions,” and “these tiny changes in thousands of connections, can lead to visible changes in the structure of the brain.”

The study found that in addition to increasing use of the corpus calloseum, meditation also promoted positive growth in the amount of gray matter, i.e. the cells that are responsible for your memory, sense of self, attention, and empathy.  [As someone who is concerned about Alzheimers, this got my attention.]

A team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital used MRIs to study the brains of people who had recently started meditating and found that after even several weeks, their gray matter had begun thickening.

Another scientist, Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconson, found similar results in a study he did on Tibetan monks who were master meditators and found that they showed brain activation on a scale never previously seen.

Yale University psychiatry professor Hedy Kober studied the effects of meditation on people with stress of nicotine withdrawal.  She concluded that meditation can significantly alter the experience of stress. . .meditation builds up the part of the brain that promotes memory and emotion and shrinks the part that causes stress.

Teenagers

In a section called ‘Helping Teenagers Put On the Brakes” Simmons discusses the impact meditation is having in schools that have adopted the practice.  He spends some time outlining all of the distractions that compete for the attention of teens today.  . .[each generation having many more distractions than the previous generation]. . .and he points out that it is hard for teens today to experience calm, focused moments.  [Meditation can help to block out these distractions and help them focus on what’s inside.]

He cites that each level of stillness [achieved through meditation] contains more and more peace.  He points out that we want to teach our teens to not just float on the surface but to slowly sink into the depths where deeper peace and happiness await.  [I think one has to experience meditation to have an understanding of this description.]

Supporting evidence:  Dr. Richard Friedman of Weill Cornell Medical College explained how meditation can actually slow down teenager’s tendency to get themselves into life-threatening situations.

Dr Friedman relates that different regions of the brain develop at different rates.  [This is important in understanding child development. . .and your teen.]  The nucleus, or reward center of the brain which drives risky behavior [sex, gambling, shoplifting, speeding in cars etc.] develops faster than the rest of our brain.

But, the pre-frontal cortex, where reasoning takes place, doesn’t develop nearly as quickly.  The suggestion is that while the nucleus may be fully functioning at fifteen, the prefrontal cortex will not be fully mature until the mid-twenties.

[We can expect teens to display high-risk behavior. . .with no compensating reasoning.  Wish I had known this when my children were teens!]

Simmons likens teens to cars with fully developed accelerators and underdeveloped brakes.  But, meditation allows teenagers to bridge the gap between the risk-taking and reasoning parts of the brain.

There is much more packed into this book.  I’ve tried to select the benefits that I believe make meditation a viable options for school curriculum . . .as long as no religion is expressed. . .just stillness.

But while we wait for this movement to take root, there is nothing stopping us as parents from learning meditation and sharing the practice with our children at home.  And in that context you may consider these words:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”     – Psalms 46:10

 Consider picking up Simmons’s book. . .or a basic introduction to meditation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Star. . .” Newsletter #12, March 23, 2014

Image of paper collage art showing people worshiping the golden calfI am once again amazed.

I am amazed as is always the case when I am blessed to receive a clear message from our loving God.

Perhaps I am obtuse, hard to get through to.  Probably more than a few of you are nodding your heads in affirmation.  But when God leads me, He speaks to me by placing words before me.  I’ve received these words in a variety of different ways, always a surprise:

  • A pink ribbon that flowed through my mind’s eye with the words “He will be reborn” in reference, I knew, to a friend and to a dream I had had, although I did not know what exactly was meant by the words at the time.  But indeed, my friend was reborn into a new life.
  • An auditory message – a crystal clear voice that spoke “Be Patient” when I was alone and praying for something, words that I was eventually to come to understand identified not just the solution to my prayer, but the solution to most of the issues that I have ever experienced and that were truly of my own making.  I was impatient, causing me to try to make things happen.  I had an agenda to promote.  God was telling me that I need to work on this.
  • A single sentence from a sermon by Billy Graham on T.V. as I flipped through the T.V. channels:   “You can’t stop bad thoughts from flying into your head.  .  .but you don’t have to let them roost there.”Or a single phrase in a sermon that jumps out like brilliant gold and lets me know why I am in this church on this day.

The longest message I have ever received was the calling in 2012 to the mission of child evangelism that I have been working on since.  A full three sentences that let me know I was pushing again for my own agenda, that I was missing the point, and that “It is time to put IT into the hands of the children,” IT being a story that I today believe God inspired in me way back in 1965.

Still, I was amazed once again last Thursday evening when I received new words. ..another message from God.  I’d like to share this experience with you.

I returned from a vacation in Florida in March.  While I was gone, I was thinking quite a bit about all of the work I have to do.  But when I returned I found myself unmotivated to get the StarGift Project off the ground.  I felt frustrated by the process of trying to engage churches. . .when I can hardly get appointments to share this mission and to encourage partnership that will be supportive of the StarGift mission and other missions these churches support.   Where did my excitement and enthusiasm to be working for God go?

I had tried to prepare by sending communications to these 377 churches in and around Bloomington-Normal and Champaign-Urbana.  This was followed by a copy of the book for the children of each church, which in turn was followed by a letter and finally an outline of the StarGift Project.  The early communications were introductory and short.  The last two communications had much more content. . .maybe too much; maybe more than was wise.  I now doubt anyone found the time to read the entire outline or supporting material.  I had hoped they would have at least gotten the gist of the mission, and developed a curiosity about it.

Although these communications had been directed to the head Pastor, and although I knew that Pastor would pass them along to what he/she felt was an appropriate staff member, when I call for appointments I can rarely get past a secretary.  And if I do, I usually get voice mail.  And few call back.  It has become increasingly difficult for me to pick up a phone and make these calls.   To be fair, I am always uncomfortable talking on the phone. . .so perhaps it’s just me but. . .

I had expected a warmer reception. . .a hearing at least.

Of course I do have some success!  I am lined up for a meeting with the early childhood education director from one church and a new friend who attends that church.  They know what I am doing and are interested in discussion.  We agreed to wait until after Easter to meet. But I am so grateful for their interest and willingness to talk about how this might work.

I was looking forward to a meeting with another Pastor on March 12th,  a meeting that had been scheduled before I left for vacation and was excited about.  Then came the snow and poor driving conditions.  I had to cancel.  Well we can’t help this circumstance, but I’ve not been able to get it rescheduled since – no callback.

And then there is the contest.  I had conceived of a ‘creativity contest’ that I hoped would help call attention to the StarGift Project, which I hoped would help to find volunteers and donors who feel moved to plant a tiny mustard seed in the hearts of some children.  The goal is for contestants to design a StarGift t-shirt to share the gifts that they’ve been given by God or to create such a t-shirt for someone else.  Each shirt has the StarGift Logo on the front and each would be unique in that the images on the back would reflect the unique gifts God has provided to the wearer.  I hope to see youth groups use this shirt as team shirts and customize them in this same way.

Yet, even though I have offered cash prizes only four people actually have registered for this contest.  How can I encourage people to want to create a unique t-shirt design to help advertise the StarGift Mission.  I’m sure it will be fun!

One friend suggested that I should just drop into the churches.  But there are 377 on the list. . .spread across Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas!  And I need time to work on that coloring book and a new story and web site. . .

It seemed to me that things which had started off so well, in these last few weeks seemed to be fading away.

I began to doubt myself. . .I began to doubt my calling. . .and then I began to doubt our God.

Does He even exist for me?

He called me to this, why isn’t He making it happen?

Have I been deluding myself all this time?

Does God care?

I tried to lift myself by going back to the experience of my calling, a mental place where I can gain strength of mind and spirit.  But I felt dissociated from the experience, and began to question if it had really happened.  And that frightened me.  Because until this month, I have always been able to go back to that experience and relive it. It energizes me to do so.  And in these past couple of weeks I cannot feel it.

As I reflected on this, I began to wonder if some energy was blocking this experience.  If so, why?  What is the nature of this energy?  Is it an evil energy that is working to persuade me of the fruitlessness of my mission?  That scared me even more and I spoke these words in my mind:  “Get thee behind me Satan.”

So, I reasoned that I needed to be with other people of faith, to be immersed in the energy of a room full of people who love God where we could pray and worship together.  I hoped that this combined energy of loving followers would help my concerns to reach Him.

I chose to attend a meeting of a woman’s circle known as Ruth Circle.   What a blessing that turned out to be.

I almost had to miss the meeting.  I had to find the address of the person who was to host.  I tried facebook, and email and finally a phone call.  If I did not hear from someone with the information within a couple of hours, I would have to pass on the meeting.  Fortunately the hostess texted me back telling me she was ill with the flu and the meeting had been moved to the Immanuel Bible Foundation.

As I entered the venue, I saw that several jackets were on chairs around a table, although no one was seated.  I was new to the group and had not been expected.  I selected a chair and placed my things on it, then began to greet people I knew.  [Why did I select this particular chair?]

The Immanuel Bible Foundation is a lovely venue.  We toured the building and learned how the Immanuel Bible Foundation came to be.  We then gathered in the beautiful wood paneled dining room, with exposed beams, around that large oval table where we had left our coats and bags and started the meeting.

After an opening prayer and devotion we listened to a lovely piece of music by Amy Grant . . . and I quietly sent up a prayer of my own.  “Help me God.”

After the devotion and ‘business’ the meeting progressed with the sharing of a book which one of the woman was reading.  Irene led her sharing in an engaging way, involving every member in the process.  Her objective was to paint a broad outline of the contents.  So she had taken each chapter, summarized the content and had given each person around the table a card to read with the key idea of a chapter, when she summarized that chapter.

As she passed out the cards, Irene noticed a slight mix up and had to shuffle a card or two, mine being one that was changed.  [Why did she notice a mistake and make the change?]

The words that lay before me, the words I would be asked to speak, were from chapter 8 titled “Temptations Along the Way.”  The words, highlighted in yellow smiled up at me:

“The story of the golden calf shows how quickly anxiety and fear can lead us to turn from God.  The story also shows the infinite measure of God’s grace, mercy, and steadfast love.”

I was amazed.  Amazed by His grace.  Amazing Grace.  Here were words that speak specifically to what I have been struggling with.  God did not tell me this mission would be easy and I never expected it to be so.  And I know that God has been trying to teach me patience for years!  Why am I caving in to anxiety and fear?  Why am I questioning my calling?  Why would I ever question my God who has shown me time and time again that He is here with me?

On this night God has sent me a message to let me know that He has my back.  It is fear and anxiety chewing at me.  He is reminding me of His grace and love.  He knows the struggle I am having.  He has not turned from me.  It is I who was turning from Him.

He has placed these words before me to let me know that He is with me.

I don’t really know why I should be amazed.

But I am grateful for His reassurance.  I can stop worrying about not being successful in getting this mission rolling.  I just need to keep working at it.  It will come in time. . .perhaps once I’ve finally learned that lesson about patience.  Or perhaps not even in my lifetime.  But it will happen.

Loving Father, Thank you for lifting me, for trusting me with your mission, for being here.

**********

Note 1:  Readers, would you be willing to help by bringing the StarGift mission to the attention of your church?  Or helping me to get a meeting with appropriate leadership in your church, or inviting me to speak to a group in your church, set up a reading for children and parents, or any way you can think to bring attention on this effort?  Or would you be willing to help call churches on the list to try to get an appointment?  Contact me by email, facebook message or phone 309-310-6934.

**********

Note 2:  The following text is from cards that came with a cup I purchased in 2012, a cup with ‘Joy,’ perhaps my favorite word, painted across the front.  It makes me smile.

“Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy.”  – Psalm 100:2  NLT

“The greatest thing God can do for us is to make us right with Him.  We can’t do it ourselves.  Jesus came as a baby.  He grew into a man and He paid the price for our sins.  Therefore, we can experience a relationship with Him.  Joy fills the heart joined with God.”  – unknown – from a collection from Lighthouse Christian Products Co.

 

The Mission 11: The StarGift Project

The Mission 11:  The StarGift Project

Photo of two women, backs to the camera, wearing royal blue and red t-shirts with the following words on the back:  StarGift Project
My daughter Jodi Lancaster and I at the Immanuel Bible Foundation Women’s Breakfast in December wearing our new StarGift Project t-shirts.

What is the StarGift Project?  It is a growing organization representing the evolution of the mission of child evangelism that God called me to, telling me “. . .to put IT into the hands of the children”, IT being a children’s story I had written in 1965.  It is God’s story, but told specifically for children through the character of a little star who could not glow.  Today, I believe God gave me this story all those years ago.  See blog “Mission 8”

The objective of the StarGift Mission is to get copies of this book to all little children. . .everywhere.

The story is like a tiny mustard seed from which great faith may grow.  So the StarGift Project is an outreach to young children to introduce them to our loving Father.

When I began to understand the mission to which I’ve been called, I recognized that this is clearly not something I can do by myself.  I do not have a network of connections to children in the U.S. let alone throughout the world.  And I do not have the resources to just have millions of copies printed to send them out in any event. I will need to build an organization to help fund and distribute books. . .to plant the mustard seeds. . .to grow children who know our loving God.

But how?

1:  How can I create a network to get the story distributed to children?

Might I be able to leverage existing organizations with such networks?  I felt it makes sense to try to leverage the mission networks of churches and non-profit organizations that serve children, rather than try to re-invent the wheel so to speak.

Now, how could I make a partnership between the StarGift Project and these organizations work not only to the benefit of the children but also to the benefit of the organizations that would distribute the books and to the StarGift Project itself?

Hold that thought for a moment.

2:  How can I get copies of the book to distribute without the financial resources needed?  The story is already a published book available on the retail market.   When the book is sold by various book stores they receive a portion of the profit of course.  But as the Author, I too receive a portion of the profit which I use to help fund the start up of another mission for developmentally disabled adults.  See Mission 1

Would it be possible to find donors, people who love the story and are moved to buy some number of copies to be distributed to children somewhere in the world?  If so, could I form a partnership between the StarGift Project and these would be donors that will benefit not only the children but the donors as well?

This story has become, for me, a gift that keeps on giving and I wanted to encourage the sharing.

My Vision:  I would try to build an organization that brings donors together with churches and other non-profits to get this story to children everywhere.   I chose to call it the StarGift Project.

  • The StarGift Project  would enable donors to purchase books at a price that is discounted from retail.  The donors would have the opportunity to choose an organization to distribute the books they purchase.  The distributing organizations would provide pictures, videos and written descriptions of distribution events so the donors could vicariously share in the joyful experience of ‘planting a mustard seed.’
  • The StarGift Project  would also enable participating churches and non-profits to use the book as a fundraiser by sharing any profit that remained after the discount to donors with them.  Perhaps groups within the church would market the book through the community to raise funds for a domestic abuse shelter.  Or perhaps they would raise money to be able to do mission work outside of their community. . .travel expenses.
  • Finally, the StarGift Project would provide support services:
    • I would develop and maintain a web site where donors could make contributions and select a participating organization to distribute their contribution.
    • Participating organizations would be granted permission upon request to use the story for Christmas presentations of music, theatre, dance etc. for children, at not cost.
    • As the author, I would make myself available to do readings for children, and to share my testimony and the mission goals with congregations and non-profit groups, at no fee.

The StarGift Project would become a non-profit organization.  So, I would try to identify people who are willing to participate on a Board of Directors or to otherwise volunteer to help build the StarGift Project, and we would file for non-profit status once we meet the qualifying criteria.

The StarGift Project Outline:  I have drafted an outline of the StarGift Project.   It is an outline, and a tentative one at that because I believe those who volunteer and are selected to sit on a Board of Directors should have input in shaping the organization.  I believe that participating churches and non-profits also should have input.  I hope that several churches and non-profit organizations will have representation on the board.  And I hope I have offered enough options that participating organizations can customize their participation to best fit their needs.

Please pray for this effort.  And if you are moved to help use the ‘contact’ information at the top of this page.

God loves you.  God provides you with gifts.  You may use these gifts to honor Him.

God bless.

“The Star. . .” Newsletter #10, Jan. 1, 2014

What a year it has been!

I wrapped up the first year of shaping the StarGift Project and the Village Project with a reading for the children of Heartland Community Church!  Then I turned my attention to family activities. And finally last night, Roger and I spent time with dear old friends. . .friends with whom we’ve been seeing the old year out for many years now.  It was a wonderful dinner and cozy, comfortable visit.

Now that all the holiday activity has come to a close, it is time to offer thanks to everyone who has helped take the first baby steps to starting these missions.  If you know any of these folks, please take time to acknowledge their contribution.

Thanks to:

  • Steve Dean who sells “The Star. . .” in Niepagen’s Flower Shop of LeRoy as a service for the community.
  • The Gingerbread House which is carrying the book
  • My friends Sue Braun and Rita  Browning who helped me to get hooked up with the Festival of Trees
  • Josh Erickson of Second Presbyterian of Bloomington, who suggested a mailing of copies of the book to churches
  • Pastor Payton of Rogers Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago who invited me to share with children in their summer program.  [Bet you thought this was a Christmas Story!]
  • ‘Skip’ Hahn, who does traffic reports over Chicago from the sky, and who donated books to give out to the children who attended Rogers Park Presbyterian Chuirch summer program.
  • Richard Hahn Inc. who donated books for a fundraiser for a young lady named Bella who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.  The books were auctioned at a fundraiser.  Another great idea.  Another way the book, this gift, keeps giving.
  • All of the people who purchased books to give to a child or to donate to children who might not otherwise receive the message.  Books made their way to Israel and the Philippines this year!
  • Those who purchased and donated books for the children of the Baby Fold during the Festival of Trees.
  • Brian and Lori Batronis who donated all the books needed to ensure that every resident child of the Baby Fold got a book this year.
  • Everyone who came by our booth at the Festival of Trees and signed a card indicating interest in ‘The Village Project.’
  • Scott Kemp who donated books to children who come through the Celebrate Recovery program.
  • Roger Hieser Sr., Terie Sumrall, Susan Long, Donna Moritz, Kristen Feldker, Tiffany Emmett and Jill Watkins who contributed to the creation of The Star tree at the Festival.
  • Tiffany Emmett who prepared the one-of-a-kind ornaments for the tree.
  • Jodi Lancaster, Coda Emmett, Jose Emmett and Jesse Emmett who helped to man the booth and clear out all of the equipment after the festival.
  • Randy and Ann Anderson of Anderson Ford, Clinton who purchased the tree and will have it on display in their showroom, with all the other trees they have purchased, in future years.
  • Angie Gaddy, Allin Township Librarian, who hosted a reading of “The Star. . .” and invited the community of Standford.
  • Rosemary Parker, who organized a craft activity and reading of “The Star. . .” at Crumbaugh Library
  • Traci Fuller-Milan who hosted a reading at Lexington Library
  • Kate Stolz, who helped to turn the star from the cover into a logo for our t-shirts
  • Ann Lamkey of Second Presbyterian who organized the puppet show based on the book and to the Tompkin’s family who made it happen!
  • Gretchen Cetin who provided a venue at the Presbyterian Woman’s Fall Dinner and an invitation to meet with the ladies of Ruth Circle to share my story.
  • Nancy Gordon, of Second Pres and the Immanual Bible Foundation, who provided an opportunity to present the book at the 18th Annual Woman’s Christmas Celebration [a lovely breakfast event!]
  • The Erbe family who attended the reading at Stanford [I believe] and took a book to Heartland Community Church
  • Marcelle, Director of Chldren’s Ministry, Heartland Community Church who organized a reading
  • All who follow the newsletter, read my FB posts, ‘like’ my author-artist page. . .and in any way encourage and contribute. . .my sincere thanks.

2014 Goals:

 Starting with those goals I did not meet in 2013!

  • Enable my web site so people can purchase directly from me.  Buying from my site, or my publisher’s site, provides the greatest profit-margin and therefore the greatest contribution to the startup of the Village Project.
  • Final mailing to churches in and around B-N and C-U [in progress]
  • Schedule appointments to talk to church leaders
  • Publish the coloring book version to make the story more accessible and donations can be spread further.

And adding to the list!

  • Establish the following boards of directors:
    • What a year it has been!I wrapped up the first year of shaping the StarGift Project and the Village Project with a reading for the children of Heartland Community Church!  Then I turned my attention to family activities. And finally last night, Roger and I spent time with dear old friends. . .friends with whom we’ve been seeing the old year out for many years now.  It was a wonderful dinner and cozy, comfortable visit.

      Now that all the holiday activity has come to a close, it is time to offer thanks to everyone who has helped take the first baby steps to starting these missions.

      Thanks to:

       

      • Steve Dean who sells “The Star. . .” in Niepagen’s Flower Shop of LeRoy as a service for the community.
      • The Gingerbread House which is carrying the book
      • My friends Sue Braun and Rita  Browning who helped me to get hooked up with the Festival of Trees
      • Josh Erickson of Second Presbyterian of Bloomington, who suggested a mailing of copies of the book to churches
      • Pastor Payton of Rogers Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago who invited me to share with children in their summer program.  [Bet you thought this was a Christmas Story!]
      • ‘Skip’ Hahn, who does traffic reports over Chicago from the sky, and who donated books to give out to the children who attended Rogers Park Presbyterian Chuirch summer program.
      • Richard Hahn Inc. who donated books for a fundraiser for a young lady named Bella who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.  The books were auctioned at a fundraiser.  Another great idea.  Another way the book, this gift, keeps giving.
      • All of the people who purchased books to give to a child or to donate to children who might not otherwise receive the message.  Books made their way to Israel and the Philippines this year!
      • Those who purchased and donated books for the children of the Baby Fold during the Festival of Trees.
      • Brian and Lori Batronis who donated all the books needed to ensure that every resident child of the Baby Fold got a book this year.
      • Everyone who came by our booth at the Festival of Trees and signed a card indicating interest in ‘The Village Project.’
      • Scott Kemp who donated books to children who come through the Celebrate Recovery program.
      • Roger Hieser Sr., Terie Sumrall, Susan Long, Donna Moritz, Kristen Feldker, Tiffany Emmett and Jill Watkins who contributed to the creation of The Star tree at the Festival.
      • Tiffany Emmett who prepared the one-of-a-kind ornaments for the tree.
      • Jodi Lancaster, Coda Emmett, Jose Emmett and Jesse Emmett who helped to man the booth and clear out all of the equipment after the festival.
      • Randy and Ann Anderson of Anderson Ford, Clinton who purchased the tree and will have it on display in their showroom, with all the other trees they have purchased, in future years.
      • Angie Gaddy, Allin Township Librarian, who hosted a reading of “The Star. . .” and invited the community of Standford.
      • Rosemary Parker, who organized a craft activity and reading of “The Star. . .” at Crumbaugh Library
      • Traci Fuller-Milan who hosted a reading at Lexington Library
      • Kate Stolz, who helped to turn the star from the cover into a logo for our t-shirts
      • Ann Lamkey of Second Presbyterian who organized the puppet show based on the book and to the Tompkin’s family who made it happen!
      • Gretchen Cetin who provided a venue at the Presbyterian Woman’s Fall Dinner and an invitation to meet with the ladies of Ruth Circle to share my story.
      • Nancy Gordon, of Second Pres and the Immanual Bible Foundation, who provided an opportunity to present the book at the 18th Annual Woman’s Christmas Celebration [a lovely breakfast event!]
      • The Erbe family who attended the reading at Stanford [I believe] and took a book to Heartland Community Church
      • Marcelle, Director of Chldren’s Ministry, Heartland Community Church who organized a reading
      • All who follow the newsletter, read my FB posts, ‘like’ my author-artist page. . .and in any way encourage and contribute. . .my sincere thanks.

       

      2014 Goals:

       

      Starting with those goals I did not meet in 2013!

      • Enable my web site so people can purchase directly from me.  Buying from my site, or my publisher’s site, provides the greatest profit-margin and therefore the greatest contribution to the startup of the Village Project.
      • Final mailing to churches in and around B-N and C-U [in progress]
      • Schedule appointments to talk to church leaders
      • Publish the coloring book version to make the story more accessible and donations can be spread further.

      And adding to that list:

      • Establish the following boards of directors:
        • StarGift Project
        • Village Project
      • Create a demo video, for speaking engagements, to present to organizations such as:
        • Hearts at Home
        • Women of Faith
        • Child Evangelism Fellowship
        • Operation Christmas Child

      [so much more. . .but these are priorities]

      Can you help?

      If you have interest in sharing God’s story with children, [will be looking for people who wish to do readings] or you are interested in helping facilitate development of a program/facility to enable quality of life and employment for developmentally disabled adults of central Il., please contact me hahn@thespiritoflight.com.

Please share information about “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” with your friends, wherever they live.  Spread the word.  Share these links. . .often.