Project Advent, Day 7: All Saints Chess Club


Like I mentioned over the weekend, Blake has become really involved with the chess club at his school.  This has been really positive for several reasons.  First, he's made friends outside of just his class.  Second, chess was something special that he used to do with my dad, and he's told me that playing chess makes him think of Papa.  Third, it's really improved his temperament a lot.  He used to get really frustrated and angry when he'd lose a game.  Now that he's playing a couple of games a day, three or four times a week, he takes every win and loss in stride, because it's just one more game.

At the beginning of the school year, I was contacted by one of the other chess club parents to ask if I could help with the club.  The club meets four days a week, during the lunch hour, and attendance is "come as you can."  Once a week, there's a student from Tech's Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) who comes in and works with the kids, but they needed parents in attendance on other days.  It doesn't involve much, just an hour of your time to make sure things are going smoothly, settling questions or disputes, or being an opponent if anybody needs somebody to play with.  I agreed to come in every Wednesday.

When I was just starting to plan Project Advent, I was walking into the All Saints office one Wednesday to get out the chess things, and I stopped to talk to Paige, the chaplain and admissions officer for the school.  We go way back - my first job out of college was as an applications developer for a computer consulting company, and she worked there as a web designer and graphic artist.  (For what it's worth, although her job duties now probably don't call for it as much, she's a really talented designer!)  She asked what was coming up on Look What Danny Made!, and I told her about the idea that I was kicking around.  It hadn't even occurred to me that my weekly visit to school could count as an hour of service for the project until she pointed it out.

I played two games today, one with Blake's good friend Ripon, and another with a boy named Carson, who hadn't been to chess club before.  I've got to hand it to these kids - they're really good, and it's obvious that they practice a lot!  On Monday morning in chapel, the children who had competed this weekend were recognized, and got to present their team trophy to the school, and ever since then, there's been an increased turnout for the club.  There were more than ten kids in there today, when I usually only see about five.

Several moves into my second game today, I looked up at the kid who I was playing.  His face was deep in thought, but he was also really having fun.  I was having fun.  I think that's why I'd never thought about this as service before - it's just a thing I could come and take part in while being with Blake.  But if I'm also helping other kids, and letting them see that there are lots of grownups out there who care to spend some time in their life, well, I think that's a good thing, too.

Gratitude Project:  So far, I've been writing a little bit each day about something that I'm thankful for, and I'm still going to do that in a minute.  If you remember in the post where I introduced Project Advent and also told you about the Gratitude Project that Pastor Craig challenged us with, another one of the things that he challenged us to do was to be real before God every day.

How best to describe this... Lately, when I am in prayer, my heart feels as though it is cleft, literally split open.  There is something God is trying to bring out, and I can't entirely tell what it is yet.  One thing that I've felt clearly led to do, though, is to identify my fears and start deciding how I will face them.  This has been a sometimes troubling task.  Why am I bringing it up here?  I don't know for sure.  I just wanted to put it out there.

Today I am grateful for other people who treat my children with love, whether it's Paige at All Saints, or Holly at Jack's day care.  I'm appreciative of the lessons that they impart to my babies, and for the people that they are helping them grow into.  I'm thankful for Dr. Conser, who keeps them healthy, and worries with us when they are sick.  I'm thankful for Ms. Cathy who teaches Ava's Sunday school class, for Kerri and Morgan who have cared for all my children since they were babies, and for all the other people in our church who help tend to my kids' spiritual upbringing.


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