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Drenched in the Gospel

I love studying the Old Testament with children because it is drenched in the Gospel. Every story points to who God is, who we are, and the fact that God is coming back to save us! We started walking through the Old Testament together as a Reading Club in late Spring. We learned about Creation and marveled at God's work, we studied the Fall and asked question after question, we grieved as Cain killed Abel and talked about how this was only the first murder, but not the last. We read about Noah and the animals bobbing along in the flood waters and about men trying to reach heaven with a tower instead of a Savior. This past week we played a game in Family Meeting to help us get a better idea of the Tower of Babel. We got out the Lincoln Logs and attempted to build a tower without talking! We didn't get very far! It is hard when everyone is trying to work on different parts and we kept undoing each others' work! 

We also reviewed Noah's Ark in Storytime reading Old Noah's Elephants. We imagined what life might have been like on the Ark during those long days and nights. Then we made an Elephant craft melting crayons for colorful sprays of water! 

We will continue learning about the Tower of Babel this week. Abraham and Sarah coming soon! 

If the Power Goes Out...

If the summer storm causes the power to go out, we’re going to need a flashlight.

If you give us a flashlight, we’ll probably spy the new stack of books.

If we see the new Elephant and Piggie books, we will want to read them.

Reading the books together will make us laugh and giggle.

When we laugh and giggle, it will remind us of other books we love to read.

We will need to go find them.

When we leave our circle to go get them, we remember it’s so dark we need a flashlight.

Turning on our flashlight will remind us that this isn’t a normal Reading Club Day, because the storm made the power go out.  

Our Boys

I am going to miss these three wonderful boys! Two of them have been in Reading Club since the beginning, and the third begged to join for a while until a place finally opened up for him at the beginning of this year. They will be leaving us at the end of the summer to join the Oak Tree teens. The three of them have been providing great leadership in our Reading Club family. They actively engage in our Bible study times asking question after question and demonstrating for the little ones how to wrestle with the word of God.

I thank God for their families who have shared them with us and for the faithful volunteers who have read with them, played with them and prayed for them!


Zephaniah 3:17

What a joy it is to watch children grow! The more time I spend around children, the more I am lead to think “What must God be thinking about me right now?”

I get so excited by their enthusiasm. Have you ever been to the zoo with a group of children? Children are thrilled to see a crocodile, sometimes even if it doesn’t move! They want to see, touch, and smell everything. And let’s not forget to take pictures of every moment, because every moment is precious and needs to be remembered. I love to think of God watching us, young and old, explore his creation. Imagine the delight he must have to see us encounter new things he created just for us. He must love to watch us in awe of Him.

I am delighted by their questions. Children ask wonderful questions. During Camp, they asked: “What was the snake doing in the garden?” “What happened to Abel after Cain killed him?” “Is…ahem…hell…ahem…real?” “How did the cowboy turn blue?” Their curiosity means that they are ready to learn, ready to listen, and they want you to tell them. I imagine how God must feel when I ask Him a million questions. Maybe he thinks, “she’s ready to learn, ready to listen, and she’s asking me”.

I am thrilled by their progress. I got to read Dr. Seuss last week, the very repetitive One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. As I read to my buddy, he started to read along with me! Slowly at first, he listened and watched as I pointed to the words and carefully enunciated each one. When I got to the same word again, he would hesitantly jump in half way through the word and finish it with me. At the end of the book, he was reading a page or two on his own. What fun! I can imagine God saying, “Watch me this time. Are you ready to do it with me? Now try it on your own!”

I am saddened, but hopeful in their shortcomings. Yes, I’m disappointed when they make bad decisions. I want to see them use the self-control I’ve taught them all the time, instead of “mostly”. But, I’m also resolute. We will talk about it, they can work to make it right and repair relationships, and they can learn. Then, they will be able to teach others what they have learned. During camp, one student lashed out at another and had to walk away for a minute and then return to apologize. I sympathized with her; I had just had to apologize that morning and I told her the story. I said, “I know apologizing isn’t fun; it’s hard.” She said, “No, Ms. Halie. Apologizing is fun. You feel a lot better afterwards.” I never thought about that; I guess you do! So, while we know God is saddened by our sin, he is also the master of using it to teach us and ultimately to bring himself glory!

So, if you are at all like me and enjoy watching children’s antics, watch and learn. Remember how your Heavenly Father delights over you!

New Faces, New Friends

We have a new member in our Reading Club family! He has been coming to the Treehouse every day for weeks to hang out by the fence and ask if he has a Reading Buddy yet. We would tell him to keep praying and he would always say he would. Well, God has answered his prayers and ours and he met his new Buddy last week! They are going to be best buddies. But before she even got here, he was able to come to camp!

Bless his sweet little heart, he was a not only a newcomer in a family of veterans, but he was also the youngest in the group. He could have been intimidated or shy, but those adjectives do not apply to this boy! He was joyfully enthusiastic all five days. He volunteered for everything and participated in Bible discussions that were being driven largely by our brilliant fifth graders and he just stayed with them.

I wish everyone could see how much this precious boy’s parents believe in him. They both encourage him and us as we all work together to love and develop this child. It is an amazing gift to serve with these families!


Reading Club Camp Rewind

Reading Club Camp was June 5th-June 9th this year. We have collected pictures, videos, and stories and we are ready to tell you all about it! Each day this week we will share more about our fun time together...

The moment that it ended, I knew it was something special. And yet, every time someone asked me how the week went, I could only say "It was wonderful". I lost all words. Thankfully, one of our faithful Reading Buddies from Camp sent me this email that perfectly expresses both of our emotions about the week of camp. I hope you can rejoice with us too, even as we are a little sad that it is over.  

"I think we all miss Reading Club camp. Yes, it was challenging in many ways. Ordinarily we have our sweet kiddos for three hours max and camp days were twice that long. On regular days we simply serve a snack on the shuttle and during camp we served two sit-down family meals. Field trips are usually special occasions and that week we had an outing every day. These things posed challenges.

And yet, we all kind of miss it. It's hard to explain, but there was a luxurious feeling of all that time together as a family. We didn’t feel rushed because we had all day together. Sitting down together for meals felt natural and familiar. And going out exploring together every day bonded us together in special ways, as every day we split up into small groups to roam new places.

The best part of the day for me was going to the children's homes to pick them up for the day. On each hot summer morning when other children were sleeping late on a day without school, our children we're dressed and ready to go! Some of them were waiting excitedly on the sidewalk and one would call to make sure we were not going to forget her! The shuttle ride was calm as we all quietly talked about the joys ahead of us that day.

I am so glad we all had that time together. My heart swells with gratitude to the Lord for making it happen. "

Wild Readers

Wild Reader (n) A Person who reads by choice, selecting their own books, and enjoying every minute of it. (Based on Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild)

The Reading Club is in full-swing enjoying the spring weather and eager for our relaxing summer afternoons together! The kids were so excited to add our Thursday afternoons and several of them are asking when they get to start coming on Wednesdays too!

One of our sweet second graders has officially fallen in love with reading. When the kids arrive at the Tree House, they have 30 minutes to play, snack, and “be kids” before the more structured part of the afternoon begins. You won’t find this sweet boy outside playing basketball, or inside with a board game. He’s in the library, curled up on a beanbag reading a book. He’s become a “wild” reader.

A few weeks ago, a couple girls took me back to the library during free time because they wanted to see the new books on display and see if I had put out the Easter books yet. I hadn’t! They dug through the seasonal books with me until we had found every single Easter book and added them to the tops of the shelves. They are becoming “wild readers”.

Want to Know a Secret?

Every week one of our Reading Buddies and their student share a secret, a secret handshake. I can’t show it to you, because it’s a secret! I can tell you that they let me in on their secret a few weeks ago and I was very honored to be trusted with something so important. Each week they add a new move to their handshake and the growing symbols indicate their time together as they learn, read, and laugh.

I love these small little facets of our Reading Club. They demonstrate that we love one another and have fun with one another. They show God’s creativity and design in relationships and his unique preparation of each Reading Buddy to work with their student.

Here are a few more fun moments I was able to capture:

They are writing poetry together, on a stool, with a beanbag.

They are writing poetry together, on a stool, with a beanbag.

My wonderful volunteers trying to be serious and read as examples to the kids.

My wonderful volunteers trying to be serious and read as examples to the kids.

When it is time for Family Meeting, but you aren’t quite finished with your book.

When it is time for Family Meeting, but you aren’t quite finished with your book.

Rapping Poetry together!

Rapping Poetry together!

In just over a week, we will be adding another day to Reading Club each week and opening the door for even more opportunities to love, learn, and grow. If you are interested in becoming a Reading Buddy, please join us for Orientation and Training at the Tree House, Thurs March 28th from 3:30-5pm!

Cooking at the Treehouse

You may have heard of green eggs and ham, but have you ever tried spaghetti topped with a scoop of ice cream? You simply can't imagine the delicacies created by the four- and five-year-old kids of Marks Village this past Sunday during Bible Club. Food Network, LOOK OUT!

One of the many blessings of our new facility, the Treehouse, is a room especially fitted for the imagination and growth of preschoolers, complete with a child size sink, oven, refrigerator, table, and chairs. Fun? Yes! But, for these kids, Biblical worldview-changing. When tables and chairs are scarce at home, the concept of family dinner around the table is a foreign concept. However, this week at Bible Club, we enjoyed a royal family feast as we sat around our kid-sized table and ate gourmet, plastic treats from french fries to fried eggs and hotdogs. We said the blessing over and over with each meal. 

Yes indeed, God is great. God is good. We all thank Him for our food. By his hands we all are fed. Thank you God for our daily bread. May we never take for granted God’s goodness when we gather at the table.