Hello Illiana Community:
One of my favorite songs is “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman. It is one of those Christian songs that transcends generations and has a great message for us as Believers. Every year in my Bible 5 class, I take a day to focus on that song. I cover the walls of my classroom with paper and give each of my students a marker. The students have to cover the walls with the blessings that God gives us. Last year I had 30 kids in my class so that means to reach 10,000 blessings, each one had to come up with 334 things that God has blessed them with. So for 45 minutes, each one of them writes blessing after blessing on the paper and the walls overflow with all the many wonderful things God has given us. The cool thing is to get to 10,000 you have to get really specific because the basic things we are thankful for like family, friends, health, and Jesus don’t get you to 10,000 very quickly. So kids start thanking God for things like coffee, air, clothes, toothpaste, trees, stars, carpet, air conditioning, steak, grass, Dunkin Donuts, music, and the list goes on and on. However, the things that are listed far more than anything else are people. They list friends, teachers, parents, and grandparents as people that are huge blessings in their life. When we finish writing 10,000 blessings on the walls, we take a few minutes to reflect on how blessed we are. Too many times in life we fail to realize how much we have been given. I talk to the students about how even though we have more than 10,000 blessings in our lives, we tend to focus on the one or two things in our lives that aren’t going well. I don’t want to minimize those struggles, but overall we tend to focus on the things that we don’t have instead of the amazing blessings we do have.
So what does that have to do with the Building Illiana campaign? I found out last week that with the freshmen class of 2016-2017, we will have had over 10,000 students walk through the halls of Illiana Christian High School since we first opened the doors in 1945. When I heard that, it got me thinking about the focus of our Building Illiana campaign: Hearts, Minds, Community. For the past 71 years, Illiana has invested in the hearts and minds of 10,000 students in our community. At Illiana, we will always have areas to work on and to improve on; every educational institution does. But just like in my class, many of us focus on the few things that aren’t going well and fail to focus on the 10,000 blessings we have: our students. I want us to focus on these 10,000 students we have had walk through our doors and on the next 10,000 students we will have at Illiana. We have an awesome responsibility to be a light in a dark world and to work together as a community to build the hearts and minds of the teenagers that walk our halls. They are the blessings that God has entrusted to us and they need to be our focus.
We are 2/3 of the way through the matching gift campaign and we have received just shy of $2,000,000. With one month to go, we still need another million dollars. I have met with a lot of people over the last two months and have received gifts ranging from $10 to a lot more than that. Some people try to tell me that their gifts don’t matter. Every gift matters regardless of size. Every gift is valuable. Every dollar is a blessing because we will use it to train the hearts and minds of the children of our community, which are the real blessings. Thank you so much for your generosity as individuals, as businesses and as an entire community. And may each one of us thank God every day for the greatest blessing we have in our Savior Jesus Christ.