When God says No...

Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Let's face it...we are wired from birth to despise the word NO.  Toddlers are the perfect example of this....that one word can turn a toddlers world upside down and ruin a young mom's day.   It's amazing how such a tiny little word can cause so much....pain, drama, sadness, anger, disappointment and discouragement.

Hearing no from God is hard....a closed door on a relationship, a closed door on a dream, a no to extending a love ones life even....it's harsh and can take years to recover from the pain involved.
I've heard no from God several times in my life...
I've fought back on some of those nos and I've leaned in on others. 
 The leaning in ones...well those are the ones that bring a real sweetness to your relationship with the Lord.  The ones that have thrown me into fits of denial and heartache well, those are the ones I fought Him on ultimately.

Leaning into the nos from the Lord - let's talk about that.  It's hard y'all!  Really hard!  
But, over the years in my walk with the Lord I've learned that there are hidden treasures & rewards in leaning into those and not fighting back.

Let's go way back....40 ish years or so...I know I'm aging myself a bit. 👵  I started swimming back then, I fell in love with the sport and I was well --- very good at it. 🏊 Coaches called me a natural on my first swim team..in fact the Southern California Coaches Association named me the Most Promising Up and Coming Swimmer at the ripe ol' age of 11.  A prestigious award that I remember not quite understanding the implications of at the time.  At age 12 I broke a record held by 5 time Olympian Dara Torres. 

early swim team days

Ha ~ didn't even have a cap on for that swim a thon.  That  must have been very early on like maybe a few months/weeks into swimming.

swim team early days

As time went on, I got better, more dedicated, more focused on this passion God had stirred within me.  He gave me this talent and I was using it to my full potential.  I swam before and after school, spent summers at the best training camps in the nation and had private stroke lessons by some of the best in the field both locally and nationally.

Doc Councilman swim camp

When I was in middle school I started receiving college interest letters and was competiting at the national level.  I had Seoul/Barcelona on my mind to be honest.  My swim journals are filled with words like: 
My Goal is Seoul, No Pain/No Gain, No Pain No Spain.  Swimming was my lifeline, my heart!

Guess what took 2nd ...yep...God.  Church was no longer a thing ( for my dad and I  ) as I had swim meets every weekend all over the state.  Mom stayed behind and took the rest of the family to church each week.  Prayers were conveniently lifted up just before I took the blocks before a race, and well...not too often after that.  At times late at night as I lay awake the Holy Spirit would convict me and stir my heart a bit and I would pray but my focus was all about swimming and not a whole lot else.

swim team

I swam and swam and swam.... I broke records, hit major milestones - qualifying for different levels of nationals and ranked high in my age group on many levels.  I missed football games, sleepovers and parties due to my swimming career.   But somehow it was always worth it to me.  

swim team

swim pic

Well let's take a peek at Christmas Break of 1986...I was 15 and was hoping to drop some time and qualify for senior nationals within the year.  I was training hard, in fact my coach at the time called Winter Break - Black Christmas.  He called it that for a few reasons - when we arrived at the pool in the am it was dark out and when we got out at night for our second workout of the day it was dark.  Not to mention the amount of yardage we put in was PAINFUL - therefore could be considered a bit dark. 😂

It was smack dab in the middle of that break and hard training that I got...sick.  My parents thought I had bronchitits.  I was barking like a seal in the middle of the night with coughing fits.  When I swam I felt like I had a piano on my back and couldn't get enough air.  It was strange - I had never felt uncomfortable in the water like this - I was certain I was 1/2 mermaid so this felt peculiar.

I took a day or so off ( which was very unusual as well ) and I wasn't getting better.  I remember at one practice in particular I pulled myself out of my lane and laid on the cold deck coughing uncontrollably.  My lungs had completely closed up and there didn't seem to be any air coming in at all.

We decided to visit a dr and take more time off which sent me into a panic as I knew a huge meet was coming up in January that I was training for...I couldn't afford to take time off. One doctor appointment led to another to another and I'll never forget ending up in South Torrance sitting across from a 'specialist' that had the gall to tell me that I wouldn't be able to swim to the caliber I was use to anymore.  Well, one thing you may not know about me - if you tell me I can't do something I push even harder to prove you wrong.  That didn't go so well for me this time around. 😢

They had run a battery of tests over a course of a few days, blood work, running around the building, up stairs, oxygen levels, breathing machines and in December of 1986 I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma.  
My first thought was how can someone GROW into asthma, how can a conditioned, regimented athlete have asthma, this can't be right!!!!

I was devastated, crushed, beyond hope...I was sad, angry....wrecked.  My mom told  me that for months after 'quitting' swimming she would hear me crying in the middle of the night in my room.  

I didn't know what to do with myself....I had SO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS.  I was use to a 5 am wake up call and swimming until 8 pm after school.  I submerged myself into a social life I hadn't had so much before, I got involved with ASB and clubs on campus and tried to fill the voids that way.

I missed my teammates, I missed competitions and I even missed training.  Ironically, I really was a fish out of water.

Well if you would've told me back then that I would've ended up at a very small christian college several years later I would've said you were crazy.  But, that's exactly what happened and to top it off - guess what!?!?!  There wasn't even a pool on campus. 😮🙀

My freshman year is when I first heard from the Lord regarding swimming.  It was a quiet moment in the parking lot of my college sitting in my turquoise bug when I heard the Lord gently speak to me.  He told me I was just where He wanted me and that I had made swimming my idol and He had to take it away.  I cried and cried in that lot....3 years after I quit.  I loved my college and knew it was where I was suppose to be but missed the pool still.  In fact, the 1988 Olympics came around my senior year in high school and I sat in front of my TV and bawled my eyes out as I watched it.  I was feeling a mixture of happiness for Janet Evans and others and a great sadness for me.

Fast forward..3 years later ( my junior year in college ) something phenomenal happened at that small college where 'I wasn't suppose to be.' ( in my mind of course )
I was sitting in chapel that we had to attend 3x's a week...just a normal day in chapel when something extraordinary happened.  A gentleman ~ the speaker we had that day caught my attention.  He talked about his ministry to athletes at the Olympic Games...offering chapel services and prayer for athletes and their families, witnessing to spectators and a host of other incredible ministry opportunities he had. 
 I sat in awe, I was listening so intently and I felt like the ONLY person in the room that was easily filled with over 1,000 students.

It was one of those GOD MOMENTS and yes that gentleman was there FOR ME!  
He flew from Texas to meet a So Cal girl at APU ~~~ that's the truth my friends!  I went up to him after chapel, he had a small line of kids waiting to talk to him.  
I introduced myself and my heart was racing, it was as if I knew God was doing something inconceivable right before my eyes.  

My hand was shaking as I reached it out and I said, "Hi, my name is Vicky McGarvey and I'm a swimmer."  He took my hand in both of his; looked me square in the eye and said, "well Vicky - I have an entire team in Texas that prayed I would meet a swimmer out here....looks like you're my girl."  WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!  ( He took former athletes on his ministry teams to the Olympics and was looking to finish up his team with a swimmer ) 

He wasn't even shook by this, he had a gentle, sweet spirit and said, "I knew God would come through, how would you like to join me and our ministry team in Barcelona this summer?"  No joke, within 48 hours I had a ticket to Barcelona to be a part of his ministry team Lay Witnesses for Christ.  

Y'all did you see what God did there!?!?!?  
He turned a NO,  way back in 1986 into a BIG FAT YES in 1992.  
All my life I wanted to swim in the Olympics or get to the Olympic Trials at least...it was a HUGE dream God laid on my heart at a young age.  

Well instead of swimming for TEAM USA, I got to go to the Olympics on God's TEAM.  
What an honor....what a faithful God we serve.  He took a dream of mine, in a situation where I wasn't honoring Him or glorifying Him - and turned it into something beautiful that I never could've imagined.    

Sometimes God says NO and that's that...we may never see the reasons behind it...like losing my mom to cancer within 6 months; time and time again I was on my knees begging God to give her more time with me and my kids.  Other times he says No...not now or not how you think it will happen.  

God's plans are ALWAYS higher and so much BETTER than ours my friends.  
If God has said or is saying no to you....don't lose heart.  You may have a remarkable experience later based on His no....or you may not have an answer ever.  But either way....I can promise you since (I've lived with both scenarios) ~~~ He is faithful and will provide just what you need every step of the way, even if you resist and don't lean into the NO you hear from Him.  Be  patient and trusting of your Abba Father....for He has great plans for you and isn't finished with you yet....Jer 29:11.

BTW I've continued to be a swimmer all these years and had my first meet in 32 years in January 2019.  I qualified for nationals in the 2 events I swam and captured a 1st place and a 2nd.  It was amazing!  I currently swim unattached for Masters Swimming.

masters swimming

Also My Swim Pro did a story on me, you can read more about it here.

Never give up....

Be blessed dear ones,


Fluency practice for the littles

Monday, February 8, 2021
Welcome to.... 

on a Monday due to the TPT sale!  Don't forget to shop 2/9 - 2/10 and get these packs at a discount!

Fluency is tricky for the young ones, mostly because they are so busy decoding and making those sound letter connections that fluency seems a bit... well unfitting.  First off, let's define fluency:  it is the ability to read 'like you speak',  to read with speed, accuracy and proper expression.

fluency practice for early readers

Reading fluency is composed of some important elements:

* accurately reading the text - the ability to read words within the text automatically

* rate - the speed a student reads

* prosody - the stress, intonation, pauses and rhythm of their reading.

These work together to provide the bridge between word recognition and comprehending the text.  It's important to note that fluency doesn't assure comprehension but without fluency comprehension is difficult.  When students are having to stop, decode and figure out unknown words, the meaning is usually lost and the focus is all on the decoding.  The reading becomes laborious and the meaning piece is often lacking.

As students become more fluent and confident readers they can put their focus and energy on the meaning of the text and comprehending it, rather than the hard work of decoding.  At that point they can work on inferring, finding the main idea, answering more complex questions, analzying and interpreting the text and more.

Even though young readers are often working on the sound symbol connection, decoding and building their phonemic awareness they can still have some success with fluency.

There are several ways to build your early reader's fluency:

ECHO read with them.....read aloud with your child/student.  Read a sentence aloud with expression paying close attention to punctuation - then have them read it just like you!  They love this!  This can also be done with sentence strips, it doesn't have to be a picture book at their level.  Write short phrases down with sight words they know, read it and have them echo you.

Set them up with a Buddy Reader - either a friend, neighbor or often times at school a child a couple grades higher than them.  Show the older child how to model reading fluency with great expression and have the younger child watch, listen and try to read a section of the book in a similiar manner...they look up to peers just a few years older so this is perfect!

Re - read favorite books with them.  We all have books we love, I can remember several picture books that I almost had memorized as a child.  Use their familiarity with the story to get them to read it with expression to you.  Since they are already so acquainted with the story this activity lends itself to perfect fluency practice.

I also love to give my students these activities that I know they can be successful with because they are either cvc words they already know or sight words they have mastered.  They feel a sense of accomplishment in these not only because they aren't getting tripped up on the words but because they can be fluent as well as answer questions about the text.

fluency work for early readers

As you can see the passage is simple, lots of cvc and sight words to scaffold them.  I have 2 packs that are differentiated to meets your students needs. 

fluency practice for early readers

fluency practice for young readers

If you think this is something your students would love you can find them here:

This other option is great for those few minutes you have at the end of a reading group ( or as a warm up ) , to give to a parent helper or as an independent center to get your students reading sight words more fluently.  

sight word fluency

You can grab that here.

If you are looking for a center that is super engaging for them this is perfect.  I've also used this during small group instruction.

fluency center

You can grab this here.

Lastly, your little learners may need some visual scaffolding that you can refer to in small groups.  These fluency posters focus on key concepts and reminders to keep even your youngest readers on track. I hung these behind my reading table for years.

fluency posters for the classroom

I've included both posters as well as miniature cards that you can put on a ring and pull out during reading group instruction as well if you don't have the wall space.

Grab these here.

I hope these ideas can give you the scaffolding and support you need to accomodate your young and developing readers. 

Happy teaching!