Posts Tagged ‘child sponsorship’

The 2016 Shattuck Game of LIFE

By now, most of the readers of this family blog have seen our annual Christmas card. And if you haven’t, you likely know the stories behind the “game pieces.” The idea for the design was inspired by Wesley’s increased interest and play-ability of board games. His favorites are Candy Land and Shoots & Ladders. He has yet to actually play LIFE, but I found it fitting for this year’s card to share a few updates within the last year.

So here’s what happened this year:

Steven becomes Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang. He also speaks at 28 conferences and events.
In January, Steven took over management of sales and leads in addition to his marketing team. He’s a natural leader and has done a fantastic job in this guidance role. He’s requested at many NPO and donor/development conferences, and he’s quite the presenter on donor retention and engagement. If it’s possible, he’ll pick one or two locations and buy a plane ticket for me to join along, and we’ll make a long weekend out of it. He’s pretty great!

The Shattucks become friends with several neighbor families.
The best thing about living in this “new” neighborhood is the amount of young families. We purposefully played in the front yard during the warm months to meet and scout out families with kids about Wes’ age. It worked! I can’t tell you how much I love and appreciate having friends and built-in entertainment just a few doors away.

Leah paints the family room trim white. SKIP A TURN while she recovers.
Whew, that project took forever. It does look so good, though. I still need to touch up the ceiling where I got a little paint happy… Since THAT project, we’ve painted the guest room (December), installed glass block windows in the basement (October), and plan to install new interior doors upstairs (January?).

Wesley fractures his collar bone. GO BACK 2 SPACES.
If nothing else, breaking his right clavicle the week before starting at a new school was a great way to meet more families! (Are you sensing a theme? I’m craving fellowship and community like whoa.)

Jake and Lucy become fans of Pokemon Go because of longer evening walks.
The mobile app game fad sorta faded, but we saw a lot more of the neighborhood and surrounding parks while it lasted. Wesley still thinks it’s great that he’s in on the “joke” and can’t say walk aloud for fear of too-excited dogs. He now calls it a W-A-L-K in normal conversation.

O Canada! The Shattucks visit Ontario.
What a great trip. Easily one of the best yet.

Steven initiates Launch Cause, a co-working space for not-for-profits. LAUNCH AHEAD 1 SPACE.
If you know nothing about Launch Cause, stop what you’re doing and check it out. I’m super proud of what he started back in February.

Steven teaches Wes how to play tennis and ride a bike without training wheels.
Summer 2016 was all kinds of fun. I feel like Wes is at an exciting age. Not that baby and toddler years weren’t exciting in some capacity, but we’re doing so much together. It’s fun to pretend together, explore together and learn together. Wes enjoys tennis enough that he’s requested to play outside in 30-degree temps with Steven. This prompted a search for indoor tennis lessons, which start next weekend!

Leah leads her communications team at Alzheimer’s Association to reach record media goals.
We kicked some major rear end. Over the years I’ve become better at acknowledging and taking credit for achievements, and while yes, it was a team effort to reach, I recognize that it was by my guidance and direction that we reached 120% of our media impression goal. I’m proud of what we’ve done and the bond between my coworkers.

The house gets a new coat of exterior paint. GO BACK 2 SPACES for Leah’s indecisive color selection.
Overall, I like what we ended up with. I’m still not settled on the color of the shutters, and eventually we’ll replace them entirely. Since the exterior paint job, we’ve replaced the garage doors, and they help clean up the look even more.

Wesley starts Prep-Kindergarten. SKIP A TURN while he grows 3 inches taller.
While he’s not the tallest kid in his class, he’s certainly not far behind. THREE INCHES in one year! I’ve had several trips down memory lane because Wes is attending the school that my sister and I did. My third grade teacher is the principal, and my fourth grade teacher is the assistant principal. The school nurse is still there, as well as a handful of elementary, middle and even high school teachers! Several fellow alumni have sent their children to the school, and it’s been fun to reconnect with former classmates from various graduating years.

Steven and Leah spend their 9th anniversary in New Orleans.
The trip surrounded a speaking engagement in Baton Rouge. We were nervous to go because it was just weeks after the shooting of Alton Sterling and days after massive flooding. But it was safe to travel, and we had the best time. I love that we’re able to be together and see unique places – just the two of us.

Finding a new church home is taxing. GO BACK TO START
You should see the excel document we started – a pros and cons list of sorts. I guess we were a little picky in what we wanted for our family, but after visiting multiple churches in 9 months, we determined that it might be us tasked to start the changes we desire in a church home. We were ready to settle where we could serve, and we’ve been attending a church regularly for a handful of months now. I decided to join their Christmas choir, which was another way to meet and connect with people, and it was a terrific idea. It felt so good and fulfilling to serve by song with others.

The Shattucks sponsor a 5-year-old child from India. GO FORWARD 1 SPACE
Last month we received our first letter and sent a lengthy response with photos of our family. Wesley frequently asks questions about Jastin and life in India, and it’s opened up honest conversations about faith, materialism and community service. It’s fascinating to watch him understand his role in our family and in society. We hope to be able to support additional families in other ways in 2017.

Steven, Leah and Wes wish you a merry Christmas and a happy 2017! GO CELEBRATE
Thanks for being a part of our lives. We’re the better for it.

Posted: December 31st, 2016
Categories: Leah
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Good and Complete

We started a family tradition in the last year or so to spend Friday dinners together at a restaurant. Usually we try to visit a new place, but often we have difficulty in deciding (Wes always chooses McDonald’s or Hardee’s or Steak n’ Shake), and settle on one of our favorite locations.

A few weeks ago we went to a local Chinese restaurant for the first time. It was decorated in red lanterns, dragons and vibrant paintings and had a small fish tank in one corner that kept Wesley’s attention. We talked about Chinese culture during our meal, and Wes was amazed that he actually likes chow mein noodles with his “sticky rice.”

It was a fun night out, and we had an excellent Chinese waitress. She enjoyed interacting with Wesley, and she asked him questions about his hobbies and interests. He’s very good at being receptive, and it was fun to watch.

Later, while paying our check, the waitress asked Steven and me if Wes was our only child. This isn’t a new question; we get this often, and frequently in public places. She was kind about it, and I’m sure it was well-intended (because surely if we had another kid, he/she would be as cool as Wes, right?). What she went on to describe has stuck with me for the last several weeks:

The Chinese word for “good, complete, right” (好) is a combination of the words “girl” (女) and “boy” (子).

I wish I would have said something in return other than, “Is that right? How cool!” It sat funny with me. I mean, I’ve personally come a long way on this subject. I’ve turned a page and have focused on our little family of 3. I know in my heart that I’m good mom and wife, and we’re in a really, really good spot – the 3 of us. We’re close. We do a lot together. We have many experiences that neither Steven nor I ever had the chance to do as children.

But I’ve always had this back-in-the-mind feeling that God’s got some bigger plan for us, and I don’t know what it is. (I try so desperately hard not to guess or jump to conclusions because I know his timing is perfect, and mine is not!) It could be as simple as loving on and supporting our nieces and nephews more, or those special kids in our kid’s life. We’ve been testing that out, and it’s so. much. fun. I find my heart’s grown 3 sizes larger since my “page-turn.” I adore the little people all around us – watching them develop intricate personalities, interests and skills.

Alli, 11, is our intelligent and athletic niece. She reads at a much higher level than her age, and she’s amazing at softball. She has a big heart and concern for everyone and goes out of her way to be inclusive. (Remind me to tell you about the time that she intervened a bullying situation between classmates.)

Elli, 8, has so many interests that are like me in music, art and dance. She’s doing well on piano and is starting to take guitar lessons. She is graceful in ballet and is now in hip hop. She can paint, too! I love her spontaneous spirit.

Jeremiah, 6, has recently learned how to solve Rubik cubes. He solved one that stumped all of Steven’s coworkers. He has the most clever sense of humor and astounds us with his ability to absorb information. He loves LEGOs and Star Wars and has a gentle, kind demeanor.

Anna, 6, has the independence and sometimes stubborn nature that defies her tender beginnings as a 3-lb preemie. She has the biggest, most alert eyes that have determination to keep up with her big sister. She is silly, fun, and she earns her nickname, Anna Banana.

Josiah, 4, is a bundle of energy. He always has a smile or a mischievous grin on his face, and he constantly makes me laugh. Mom and I used to joke that he sorta resembled Dopey the dwarf as a baby, and though he’s not “dopey,” he just melts your heart like that little character does.

Our nearly-nieces and nephews are just as special. Beatrice, 5, Jovia, 3, and Oliver, 1, are the best little friends Wesley’s ever had (and likely TO have), and JoJo even calls me “her good friend Leah.” Levon, 3, is an lively little boy who Wesley tries to take under his wing every time we hang out. And dear Lucian, 1, our sweet godson. We get to see him in a few months over Thanksgiving!

OR it could be as simple as sponsoring a child. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do!

jastin-sanga_2016I’m pleased to introduce you to Jastin, a 5-year-old boy who lives in India. Wesley chose him to be his friend and “pseudo-brother” because of his similar age, and likely because of his cool Tom & Jerry shirt. Because this is a very new decision, we haven’t yet made contact with Jastin, but Wesley’s warming up to the idea and getting excited to be a part of his life. Wes has been asking many questions about culture, faith and climates, and it’s an opportunity to open conversations about our faith and heritage.

Sponsoring a child isn’t a new experience for us. Steven and I briefly sponsored a child with a large organization when we were first married, but admittedly, we were not ready to make such a commitment. I regret that we were unable to continue supporting the child, and it’s frustrated me for years. I remember thinking that it would be a good time to revisit the commitment when we had a child of our own to keep us accountable.

This relationship with Jastin is uniquely special to us because he is sponsored through Mid India Child, a ministry of our dear friends in India. I grew up knowing missionaries David and Sheela Lall as my Indian aunt and uncle, and their three kids, similar ages to me and my sister, soon became our Indian “siblings.” My parents were their forwarding agents on the United States side of things for nearly 30 years – they are very close friends, and we’re lucky enough to see them several times a year as they travel across the globe.

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David and Sheela with the Fernsler cousins on Memorial Day

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A very pregnant me with my Indian siblings

Shiny, my Indian sister, and her husband, Tommy, have taken the reigns and have formed Mid India Child as a way to link all of their central Indian ministries together under one roof through child sponsorship. They run a girls’ boarding school and a special-needs school for abandoned children, provide school and community supplies to villages and slums and college scholarships. Other ministries within the extended Lall family include film production, an orphanage, Bible college, eye hospital, church planting, boys’ vocational school, and many other things I often forget to mention!

So, while we don’t have a girl to “complete” the Shattuck family, we already feel complete. And now that Jastin’s a small part of our small family, I feel just a little bit more proud and full. Good and complete!

So, get ready, Jastin. You’re now part of a small American family who wants to do big(ger) things and make an impact. We love the people who will directly help you through Mid India Child, and we love you, too.

Posted: September 22nd, 2016
Categories: Leah
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