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Sunday, September 14, 2014

From Seeing Red to Redeeming Red... The World Dyslexia Day Story

True confession?  I started out seeing like any other parent.  I was the mother of a very bright kindergarten student who loved learning.  With lunch box packed and new backpack in tow, he went into his first year of formal schooling and I expected things to be great.



And things were great... until they weren't.

He loved math, but he couldn't sit still.  He loved being read to, but he didn't read a single word all year long.  He thought his very short name (Beau) was super cool, but he flipped the order of it and the letters in it on a regular basis.

The fact is that this year that was supposed to be slam full of fun filled learning was (even with the sweetest teacher on the planet) turning into the first year of tears, frustration, and a lot of academic ouches.


I knew he had dyslexia. I had no paperwork to support my observation, but my heart knew.  We were told by specialists that it was too early to test.  We were told by teachers that every child flipped their letters and had the troubles he was having.

But I knew.... I KNEW he had dyslexia.



The years rocked on and the papers that came home had a LOT of red marks on them.

This word was misspelled.  That sentence wasn't in the correct form.  That math problem never got finished.

He was seeing red, and so was I.  

Children LOVE to learn and I was just angry that this was the way his school years were unfolding. Surely it wasn't supposed to be like this?

We finally received his dyslexia diagnosis.  What a relief! DYSLEXIA and ADD.

To be honest, though, not much changed on the education front.  I went to meeting after meeting where fantastic educators tried to figure out how to best teach a dyslexic student through traditional measures.  I sat in many meetings with educators who just said, "We not required to accommodate dyslexia in this state."

I would leave with hope.  I would leave defeated.  I would leave and know that nothing was really changing.  It was a roller coaster, but I knew that most of these teachers wanted desperately to help him.  These experts wanted to know more.  We were just stuck.


Every day I built my son up by having him say our own personal survival words, "There's no one above me.  There's no one below me. I'm made in the perfect image of Jesus Christ."  I'm convinced every family needs something like this that speaks to what they believe, whatever that may be.

I wanted him to know the LEADER that God called him to be, and that God's plan didn't change just because spelling class was hard for him or reading wasn't his game just yet.

Truth be known, though, I talked a really good game with my son (and meant every word of it), but I left most every meeting and every school year seeing red.


Skip a few years....

My youngest son has an autism diagnosis.  In April 2013 we were driving by a tower in our hometown where they were lighting it up in Autism's signature color of blue to spread awareness. 


My youngest son was too overstimulated to get out of the car and admire the tower, so we drove around it several times... talking about how they were celebrating him and the wonderful person God created in him.

And then the question came....

"When are they going to celebrate me, Mama?"  My oldest son, Beau (who has dyslexia) asked me that question.  



I went from SEEING RED to knowing that I had to REDEEM RED for my child.  We had to celebrate our children with dyslexia, and I needed to step away from the fight for a moment to just to stare at the celebration that needed to occur.

I mumbled something about "maybe next year, baby", but immediately knew that October (Dyslexia Awareness month), would never look the same for us.

Things got busy, as they always do, in the months that followed.  As expected, though, October 1 came and it was time for a celebration.  What to do?

I was inspired by the Purple Light Nights (Domestic Violence Campaign) that my amazing advocate friend, Katie, was working with.  She taught me how to get the RSA Tower in Montgomery, AL lit up, and the story began unfolding.

Based on available dates, our very first Dyslexia Day was on October 16th, 2013.  We wanted the 15th (to represent the 1 in 5 who have dyslexia), but this was a solid start.... and that's all we needed. World Dyslexia Day was born when the RSA Tower in Montgomery, AL agreed to light their tower in red for us.  

Why red?  Red is not only a color of power and redemption, but also my son's favorite color.  We were determined to take it back from being that nasty little color that plagued his spelling papers and turn it into not only HIS color, but that of every other person with a dyslexia diagnosis.



Over the next two weeks, volunteers poured out from every corner.  My son's dyslexia was becoming a PARTY instead of a pain to him.  He was wearing it more like a super hero cape and less like a burden. He was becoming PROUD of who God created him to be.  We wanted EVERY person with dyslexia to feel this.

As the party went on, the first news interview came and I realized that this was going to be bigger than just some little block party.  We needed a group.  We needed a vision for the party to continue long after Dyslexia Day.... and we wanted the party to be for my son, for his brother, and for EVERY exceptionality and disability.  We wanted to bridge the gap for every family and celebrate the children they loved who learned a little bit differently.


Roundtable Solutions was born in October 2013 and we've never looked back.

Shoot to today?  We are now a 501(c)3 non profit... and the vision is being furthered every single day. Collaborations are so sweetly happening to raise up others as we raise money to impact every student, teacher, school, and group that God allows us to love on.

And the word about #WorldDyslexiaDay and #RedeemingRed is SPREADING!  Every year, more groups, individuals, and communities light in #DyslexiaRed to take this message far and wide... to every corner of the world.

We're continuing to move forward with my then 10 year old co-founder's vision... to spread the dyslexia love through World Dyslexia Day on October 15th of each year and friends have come on board through Roundtable Solutions to help further that mission.

Decoding Dyslexia Alabama came on board with the vision in 2014 as one of our featured groups. We love their heart for the children of Alabama.  They "do dyslexia" beautifully.  Parents with passion that we are delighted to call our friends.

Shoot to 2015, and there are too many groups to count.  We've been blessed to work with the Alabama Dyslexia Advisory Council, Alabama Dyslexia Friends, Scottish Rite, ALIDA, Alabama Game Changers, Students First, and more.


We were delighted to be one of so many voices that worked with these groups celebrating and serving as Alabama's State Board of Education amended the Alabama Administrative Code to INCLUDE dyslexia on October 8, 2015.  We believe that years of work, experience, prayers, and faith came together to create such a beautiful step forward for the state that once said, "No.  We don't do dyslexia."  Friends, ALABAMA now DOES dyslexia!  Praise God!



The fact is, the party is no longer just at the RSA Tower in Montgomery, but at RSA Properties across the state of Alabama, the State Capitol building, and more....

In schools, front yards, family rooms, and classrooms....

Red cakes will be baked.  Red silly string fights will be had.  Red ribbons will be hung.  Red will never look the same.

We are LIGHTING UP, DRESSING UP, and DECKING OUT the world in #DyslexiaRed, friends, and we do it for a few reasons.

1- TO CELEBRATE- We celebrate dynamic kids who learn in unique ways.  All of them!
2- TO SERVE- Roundtable Solutions will use the funds we raise to connect kids with services and meet needs.  We will bridge gaps as God allows!  Just as the gaps have been bridged for Beau along the way.

3- TO ENCOURAGE- We will continually use our resources to connect parents and students with each other, services, answers, and solutions.  We believe in you.  We want you to, also.

The nation will shine bright in red to celebrate our kids and the historical Silver Linings of dyslexia will shine all around these parties.  Our kids ARE the silver linings of the challenges that dyslexia brings! We won't forget where we've come from as we're blazing a well lit trail for where we're going!  There is beauty in both places.

Redeeming Red is a story of redemption, empowerment, and taking back what is beautiful.  It's our Dyslexia Power Color.  World Dyslexia Day on October 15th (1 in 5 have dyslexia) is our day... every single year. In the middle of a calendar slam full with meaningful moments, it's the single day during Dyslexia Awareness Month where we say, "This one is for you, 1 in 5."  



From the heart of one Mama and the vision of one child, we want you to know that we see you.  We hear you.  Roundtable Solutions is working to be a group that helps equip you and points you to resources that empower you and challenge you, like many of our friends on this journey.  We want to celebrate the work you have done.  We want to hug you in the hard times and walk with you each step of the way.





All because God allowed US to walk through some really, really hard times.  What a gift that He trusted us with that journey.  I imagine He's entrusted many of you with the same.  Yes?

I take you back from the party for a moment.... because I'm still just a mom with a child that needed services.  God has opened the doors wide for us to be a voice in this equation, but we are not the only voice.  We are not the only story.








EVERY story matters... and we want to hear yours.  The celebration is wherever YOU are and in the spheres of influence that YOU are encouraging.  Please send your story to info@Roundtable-Solutions.org.  It would be our honor to not only learn about your journey, but share it with the world.

We hope you will join us as Roundtable Solutions and friends continue the mission to Redeem Red on World Dyslexia Day each and every year.  www.WorldDyslexiaDay.com

Copyright © 2013, 2014, 2015 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.
BLOGGING LOVE: www.ChristieAitken.net
NON PROFIT LOVE: www.Roundtable-Solutions.org
MINISTRY LOVE: www.SingleMomCentral.net


*World Dyslexia Day, Redeeming Red, Dyslexia Red, and Roundtable Solutions- TM by Christie Aitken/Roundtable Solutions.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I Love to Tell HIS Story


I woke up this morning to the most excited note from one of my Single Mom Central moms.  She wanted to let me know that I had been chosen as an Honorable Mention for The Life of a Single Mom's Single Mom of the Year program. 




Here's the thing... I was so extremely humbled and honored by this, but was a little nervous that sharing it would point people to "look at me" instead of "look at what God's done."  

The ONLY good in me is because of Him, so any time I share, I want it to point to God... the One who loves me most. 


I received an email from TLSM on yesterday, but wasn't going to say anything to anyone. 

God had a different vote on that.   :)




You see, there's this press release out there.   Turns out that God doesn't like for His story to go untold.  :)  So here I am...  sharing HIS story.  I'm in the story along with other women, ministries, churches, and more, but it's ALL about Him.

ONLY God can take the moments that we think might break us (divorce, death, and more) and use them as a chance to say, "I see you, sweetie.  I see you, and I see EVERY single parent out there.  You.  Are.  Loved."  


Only God can take our "hot mess moments" and turn them into a "hot off the press MESSAGES" of how HE is changing lives!

I almost cried when I read the press release today and saw that 2014's National Single Mom of the Year, Lorri Linkhart (Beavercreek, Ohio), said that, too.  Her words were, "I'm stunned... I have been praying for a sign from God that He sees me, and this is it."





So, how did this honor from the ministry at TLSM take me back to God today?  It reminded me that I'm CALLED to step out of my comfort zone and tell my LOVE story... every single time God gives me the chance do so.

Love story?  Yes, indeed.  Here it is....

The Creator of the Universe sent His son to come down and sweep this single mom off of her feet, and into the sweetest relationships ever.  When the world looked and saw a failed marriage and deemed my home a "broken home" and my kids as future statistics, Mercy said "no."  He called us "righteous, holy, and redeemed."  He deemed this family complete with Him at the helm, and He teaches me daily how to lead my family to His heart.  He reminds us that anything else He ever does in our lives is icing on an ALREADY BEAUTIFUL cake that He has made because He loves us.






He sent Jesus to heal this heart... to fill in the gaps, holes, and ouch spots that this side of heaven can leave.  The grace poured thick through Jesus on the cross, because God CHOSE to SEE ME... that grace still brings me to my knees.  God now looks at this broken vessel and sees only the beauty that is Jesus.  Amazing grace, anyone?




He gave me the Holy Spirit to be my Best Friend... to be the One I call at 3 in the morning when I just need to talk, to guide me in God's plan for me, to fill me when I feel like I can't do one more thing, and to draw and woo me daily closer to the heart of God.  That last part is my favorite. :)  I love being wooed.

Then He put me in the middle of His kids.... specifically His girls... single, married, younger, more mature, outgoing, soft spoken, quirky, fun, bold, learning, teaching... and He grows this circle daily.   He put Godly men in the path of my boys through the local church, and He continually gives me the LOVE of my church family as a whole.  The body of Christ followers that we are in has been such a place to grow, serve, lead, and love.  I remain incredibly grateful and in awe of the gift that is Church of the Highlands.


So, how does the circle of God's kids keep growing?  Well, if the circle is to continue growing, our stories of His love must be told.  WE are sometimes the only glimpse of God that people see, and His heart is to always reach the one that hasn't yet heard that He loves them with complete abandon.

That's where some other beautiful souls come into this Single Mom of the Year mix.  I'd love to extend congratulations to Erica Howard of Bellevue, WA, and Sally Killoran from Wickenburg, AZ. for also being honorable mentions.  Two beautiful women of God!

And another precious soul that God has chosen to be a voice of His story? Lorri Linkhart - 2014's Single Mom of the Year!  



Lorri, I'm just smiling over here as I read and re-read your quote.  He definitely sees you, beautiful lady. I keep looking at every piece of this saying, "Only God."  I can't wait get to know each of you better and to hear your stories of God's faithfulness in your lives.

Thank you to Jennifer Barnes Maggio and TLSM for all that you do.  Your ministry touches my heart and reminds me that the body of Christ is being equipped daily to love on single parent families in the most beautiful way.   




Jennifer said it beautifully, "Our God is much bigger than any statistic written on a sheet of paper.  The power of God changes lives, offers freedom, and erases pasts.  Two of out three single moms aren't attending church.  As the body of Christ, this should move us to action."  (See Press Release.) 

His story is still being written in this heart and in those of so many others.

Last but not least, my personal story includes two precious young men that are the only reason I get to wear the title of "Mommy."  These two are my first and favorite ministry, always.  





The fact that God has entrusted me with these two makes me brave. Their favorite verse is Neh. 8:10, "The JOY of the LORD is my strength."  And boy has He shown me that through these two!

They know their Source and they know it's not Mommy.  They love me, but they LEAN to their Heavenly Daddy. I'm just the shepherd sent to guide them back to the One who will never disappoint them.  It's my GREATEST honor to raise up these men of God.  When God looks at them, I KNOW He's sees WORLD CHANGERS!  May heaven's roster change because these two were breathed into existence.  Thank you, God for my blessings!




So here, the most important thing I'll write today.  It's about YOUR story.  Yes, YOUR story.

Who is author?  If you don't have one, I have a suggestion. He's the best around.

Let God pen your story and make it HIS story.  






How?  Ask Him.  It's that simple.  He's waiting with pen in hand at the door of your heart, but He's a gentleman.  He'll knock, but then He'll will wait for YOU to let Him in.

Open the door.  Hand Him the pages, empty or full.  His grace erases everything anyway and gives you a new name... a new story. Write HIS word on your heart while HE is writing His love story in your life.

And every time He gives you a chance to share what He's done, be courageous and take it. God likes it when we tell His story.  It's why we're here.


ChristieAitken@gmail.com , 2014
http://www.ChristieAitken.blogspot.com
http://www.MyOilGirl.com 
Twitter: @ChristieAitken 
Google+: +Christie Aitken 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Single Moms, I see you. Do you hear Me?

Dear Single Mom,

I saw you at church on Sunday.  It took everything in you to get them there, but you did it.

You stormed all of hell to get that infant into the arms of a nursery volunteer that would pray over them during church.


You told satan his place by getting that 12 year old to Student leadership so that they could pour Jesus into His heart in the way only God's men can.




You remembered that Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me" and you made sure that your youngest was planted in the middle of a praise environment that would teach him that God is fun and that he is loved.




You did it... and I saw you.  I saw you fight through every moment it took to position them well, and I'm so proud of you for fighting the fight to make it happen.





You collapsed into a seat in the Sanctuary... the first one you could find... and then you stood to praise with the energy of 10,000 saints.  As tired as you are and as "spent" as you feel, you used that single hour of time alone to worship with complete abandon... and I saw you.


I saw that moment during prayer that no one else saw.  That moment where you let go for just a moment... where that tear slid down your face and you were just real with your Creator.



I saw a woman brave enough to be broken, and bold enough to know where to take the tears. I saw you and I smiled.  You are among my favorites, my dear.


You got home to a laundry list of things to do and not enough day to get them done.  You played with your kids and pointed them back to the One that loves them most.  You did your own homework for YOUR school and you helped them knock out their homework, too.




You cleaned up messes, did a little yard work, and finally collapsed into a heap on the couch in your den.  You did the job of 2 parents, a teacher, housekeeper, and gardener... and I saw you.


I see you every single day, dear one, and I know today was just another day of working like there is no tomorrow.  I hear you when you say that life may not have gone as planned, but you know the plan for your family and the plan is for good and not for harm.  I hear you declare faith and promise over their future.  I see you walk it out.

And I see you when you are too tired to lift your head... and you fall asleep on the very couch that you collapsed on while you were doing laundry...

And it's okay.  It's okay and YOU are okay.

I see you.  Do you hear Me?



Because I'm here.  I'm the God that adores you and KNOWS how hard you work.  I'm the Father that created you.  The Best Friend that walks with you.  I'm your Other Half if you will allow me to be that in your life.

I will speak to you frequently through the smallest of moments.  I will create provision in your life where there just was no way.  There will be moments when you look up and just know that I was there, because no one else would have ever known.

I "get it" when the world does not... because I know that sometimes no matter how much they want to understand, they can't until they've walked 5 minutes in your shoes.

But a lot of them WANT TO understand... so know that I've entrusted YOU with lovingly teaching them about the life of a single parent... and teaching them HOW to reach the next one.  Because the next one?  The next one may not know me like you do.  They may be a little harder to reach... and I need the body of Christ to know how to get to that one... because she's so important to me, and so are her babies.




I've entrusted you with asking for help when you'd rather do anything but ask for help.  Know why?  When you reach out, they learn... and the next single parent's path is made a little bit less difficult.  YOU are going to be the teacher quite a bit, but I TRUST YOU.  You can do this and you can do it in love.

I've entrusted you with moments where the only saving grace is your relationship with me... and I want the world to see.  Know why?  Because ETERNITY CHANGES when people see YOUR trust in Me and KNOW that I'm your All in All.

Even when you feel the weakest, I want you to know I see you... and I KNOW that you're one of my strongest kids out there.

You are not raising statistics, but raising up young men and young women of God.  Do you hear me, my child?  That's CRITICAL for you to know.

Every statistic about "broken homes" and single parenting that the world tosses your way, I want you to respond in the language of GRACE... with BOLD and LOVING assurance that YOU are raising up a generation of believers that reflect the light of My love and the world will be a better place because YOU have parented in it with My help.

This may not have been the Plan A, but I'm so, so good at turning plan B into my Plan A for your life.  All you have to do is release your life into My loving hands.  I've counted the hairs on your head (even on the days you feel like pulling them out!).  I can handle the details of your life.  I promise.

I see you.  I hear you.  I love you. You are never alone.  I promise.

I see you.  Listen close so you hear Me.

<3 - God

ChristieAitken@gmail.com , 2014
http://www.ChristieAitken.blogspot.com
http://www.MyOilGirl.com 
Twitter: @ChristieAitken 
Google+: +Christie Aitken