Laughter at Camp!

One of my favorite things about camp is how much we laugh. If you've been to my house, you know that my living room has the "live, laugh, love" theme. Laughter is one of my favorite things, this side of heaven. In fact, when I think of someone, I hear their laugh. I have said it before, and will say it again, everyone laughs differently. I truly believe there is laughter in Heaven.

So, out at camp, there were so many moments where we would laugh at something a camper did, or said. And, often we would try to conceal our laughter as to not encourage a campers mis-behavior.

For example, Ronni was often defiant when asked to get in bed at bedtime, or walk to an activity, or whatever random thing we wanted her to do when she really didn't want to do it. Her response? "Shut. Up." She didn't say it all the time, but when she said it, it really was funny. Now, it loses A LOT in just typing it out, as you had to hear her, but suffice to say, I can still hear it in my head. It was cute. I imagine in school they're working to break that phrase just as we tried to, but honestly our laughter kinda lost the punch of the "No Ronni." It's such a good thing it was camp!

Another funny thing to me was what Lilly would often say after you said, "I love you." She would reply with, "Why?" I would just smile. In fact, now that I think about it, Lilly said, "why" a lot.

Another moment that made me laugh was on day #4 when I sat down during J.E.F.F. and Demi came over and just sat right down in my lap. Now, Demi is sort of a heavy-set camper, so it bruised up my legs when she did it, but it brought laughter to my soul because one of God's kids wanted to be in my lap!

When we were at the cooking activity, Ronni was cuddling with me, and at the same time, Lilly came up and wanted in my lap at the same time. I laughed. There wasn't enough room, so they had to share me! It was cute and funny!

One of my favorite moments was watching Kim with Lilly. Kim was AWESOME with Lilly and would often make comments that went over Lilly's head, but made me laugh out loud. At one point she had been carrying Lilly piggy-back and set her down and said something like, "These kids need to learn how to ride piggy-bag, I'm getting the choker hold when they do that!"

Ronni was homesick a lot, and would say something about wanting her Mommy and Daddy. On about the first day, she said she wanted to go home. I told her there were 5 days left. She seemed okay with that and moved on. A little while later she said it to her Charis, her CIA. Charis made me laugh at what came next...she said, "You'll see them tomorrow." I just looked at her...what? huh? We're lying to the kid! She saw my confusion and said, "and tomorrow it will still be tomorrow, and so on." I laughed! Truthfully, that REALLY helped Ronni throughout the week! I realize it may not make you laugh, but it made me laugh! I used it all week!

Laughter is healthy, and I find that when I cross someone that is unhappy, I pray for them. As for last week, it was full of laughter, and I heard myself laughing deeply at times.

The first night we were there they changed the Nerd Party to fish out of water. I agreed with the switch. It would have been hard to do a structured game with the group of campers that we had as a whole this year. So, fish out of water basically is a gigantic water fight with sprinklers, a man-made water slide, and cups to fill with water to get people soaked. Ronni found the big water cooler and got a cup and immediately soaked me! I was laughing like crazy! I would stand up and she would pull me down to her level and get me wet all over again! The best part came when the bucket to too low for her to reach. She whined so I took the cup, filled it, and she proceeded to soak me with it! This happened repeatedly. And the look on her face made me laugh over and over again! It was priceless in my book!

The moment that made me laugh the most was at the pool. I had promised Ronni that she could get me wet that day at the pool. The problem with that was the fact that on that particular day the sun wasn't out, the air was cool, and the pool was even cooler. I had gotten my feet wet that day and stopped. I didn't want to get wet. I was cold enough with my feet wet.

I had just put my clothes on over my suit and Ronni came over and said, "I get you wet!" I stopped and paused. Crud. I didn't want to get wet. Let me state: I REALLY DIDN'T WANT TO GET WET! I looked at her and said, "I don't want to get wet, maybe tonight at the pool party." She looked at me with those eyes and said, "peease!" I looked at her. Crud. I had promised. I said, "Really, we'll do it tonight." She replied with several "peeeeeeaaaaassssssseeeeee" comments. I said, "Okay, but if I do this, you promise to get out when the whistle blows?" She said "yes." I didn't believe her, I knew it would still be a challenge to get her out. She's a typical kid, who enjoys swimming. (I was right, it took 3 of us to get her out of the pool!)

So, we went out to the same water spout that she used last year to get me wet. I told her it was too cold, and I didn't want to do it, which made her laugh even more. So, I stood under the spout, and screamed like a little kid. It was cold. COLD. But, after a little while I looked at her, and she was laughing, so I was laughing. It's not funny as in "ha ha"...it was joy. pure joy.

And it's a moment I don't ever want to forget...

Life.
Is.
Good.

I'm Third Theory

I returned tonight from Camp Barnabas, and want to start off by saying I am different tonight than I was one week ago tonight. Each year I find that camp has moments that will forever remain in my heart, God has taught me so many things that I find it hard to know where to begin. This was the third year I have gone to serve as a Cabin Mom, and find myself sitting at home amazed at how much I have learned in the past week...

In our training, they taught us the "I'm Third" Theory. I have heard this every year in training, but this was the first time it REALLY got into my spirit. The idea is that we're to serve God first, campers, CIA's, and staff second, and OURSELVES THIRD. Each year I have gone, I have tried to do that, but this year I was tested in ways I never expected. I will also admit that I typically come home and kick back into my selfish mode and don't carry it over into my everyday life. This year I was taught the depth of the I'm Third Theory.

As it turned out, I was in a cabin with three girls I had last year! That was COOL! One of them, Ronni, was my favorite camper last year! So, I was excited that God put me in her cabin again! (I will admit, God used Laura to do that! Thanks, Laura!) Her CIA for the week was AWESOME, and it was a JOY to get to know her this week! Ronni ran a tad bit less this year, and honestly was more obedient this year than last, so that was cool. I also found myself laughing and joking with her more than I did last year. She was truly a highlight of my week! And, honestly, even in the tough moments, serving Ronni was fun. The "I'm Third" was pretty easy in comparison to last year when it came to Ronni. :-)

I found that each girl in our cabin had their own quirks. Now, in all honesty, we all have quirks. Afterall, I'm the gal with the special diet that has driven people nuts before! But, I found that each camper was beautiful, and I told each of them that! I will admit, I got to know some campers more than others just due to needs within the cabin, but there wasn't one girl that I thought, "sheesh, this is tough." All the campers had moments, especially Sara, but each CIA stepped up and did their best.

Kim was a true highlight for me. Kim wasn't a camper, she was a CIA, and the first night we were there, my legs were stiff and it was tough to walk. (Due to the car ride I believe) Kim walked up, gave me an arm, and knew I had CP. As it turns out, her Mom has CP and sounds like an INCREDIBLE lady. Kim kinda watched out for me all week, and definitely had the "I'm Third" Theory down! When it came to me, her camper, and everyone around her, she was always working hard to serve others. Not to mention the MANY times I left my backpack in the dining hall to chase Ronni or Sara or help with Destiny, and then later Kim would have it when we caught up with the group! I selfishly hope that Kim is on staff next year. I'm already praying she is, and that I can be in her cabin! Not that it's about me.... Ha!

The Lord taught me the most through a little girl named Destiny. During our first full day, I returned from my break to see her crying. I'll be the first to admit that at that point in the week I was so focused on Ronni (who requires a lot of care!) that I didn't know Destiny's name, her label, or anything about her. I had written everything down during camper card night, but I didn't memorize them.

So, Destiny's CIA, KaraLee (nicknamed Carly) was trying to settle her down. I walked over and sat down across from Destiny and was told she was a non-verbal. Meaning, she doesn't talk. So, I sat there and prayed in my head. Honestly, I had never had a non-verbal in my cabin. I have never had a non-verbal in my classroom either. So, she was crying and I started signing to her. While she didn't reply, she did stop crying. I sat with her and Carly while Carly filled me in on Destiny's information. She's 13 years old, and is a non-verbal child. She is being potty trained now, but still uses briefs.

I had never given an ounce of thought as to what life would be like if I couldn't talk. Truthfully, I think I talk too much at times. I sat there in front of this kid who was upset but couldn't say "I want..." She did have a picture book that we tried to use, but she didn't really use it in such a way that we could understand what she wanted. She could sign "drink". She would give the same sign for food too, but we learned how to read her as the week went on.

In that first sitting, I was awestruck by this little girl. We never heard a word from her in that first time I sat with her. But, we calmed her down and got her to the next activity. I honestly can't tell you what the first activity was after that, I just remembered thinking that Carly had been with her nearly 24 hours, and had been doing so without much help. My heart leapt for her as she had done her best but needed some support. So, I was with her a lot of the week.

Throughout the week, I found myself just sitting next to Destiny and would hold my hand next to me, and she would eventually take it and cuddle with me. I found myself enjoying her company, as no talking was required. We could sit and cuddle and enjoy watching people swing (although she did enjoy the swing too!), or watching the parties each night. I found myself intrigued by this kid who was content with her water bottle, a bandana to stem with, and someone rubbing her foot. Meanwhile I am one who finds boredom if I sit too long. Destiny's life is simple...and she is a happy kid. She can't talk, but she can communicate in other ways.

I was sitting on a bench Tuesday as we were waiting for a horse to be free for Destiny to ride and she climbed into my lap. This isn't uncommon at camp, as kids are often seen in laps of those around them. However, Destiny turned and was facing me with her head on my shoulder. My heart melted as she put her head on my shoulder. After that, she pushed away from the bench, and I caught her and brought her back in and said something like "Woah!" She pushed again, and it clicked with me what she wanted...she wanted to be rocked! I was SO EXCITED when I figured it out! I rocked her that whole time, and thought about the fact I don't love God that well. Here was this kid who can't talk, and I was able to love her with a love I can't describe in words. It was a defining moment for me...

Throughout the week I strived to serve others. There was one meal where I didn't eat all my meal in order to go help with Sarah. I could have gone back to eat, but I thought about how the week wasn't about me and I stayed where I was at.

They also tell us in training at camp that we will hit a wall in serving during that week. When you're serving kids with disabilities in a camp setting, it can be extremely difficult at times. It is an emotionally draining week because you're giving your 100% all the time. I hit a wall twice. First on day #3 (which seemed to be rough on all of us!) and then again on day #5. Wall #1 wasn't too bad. I was able to pray with a staff member on day #3, and I was fine.

My second wall pushed me closer to God in a way that I haven't felt in YEARS. I was blessed that someone caught me as I was walking away from the situation that caused the wall, and she said, "Shortone, you got a second?" I turned around and looked at her. I walked up to her and she held me and I cried. I haven't cried since all my drama in my last chapter in my life, and it felt good to be softened again before God. After processing with that person, I felt better. I found myself at IP and prayed. I prayed for a long time, and cried. It was a God thing...a good thing...

Over the course of the week I kept asking God, "What can I do to serve you?" I never jumped into a meltdown situation without direction from God. Within that, I can honestly say I am now closer to God because I would pause, and pray. Many times I would be given keys that would help us through the situation.

I don't have the "I'm Third" Theory down. I'm nowhere close. But, I am going to try to get there.

This week was the hardest one I've had at Barnabas, but also the best one I have had.

I can't wait for next year!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Barnabas Bound!

Well, first things first, tonight I went to a concert with Scienceguy and had a lot of fun. We did a flash-back to the 80's show...Cheap Trick, Poison, and Def Leppard. Ah yes, it was a trip down memory lane. It was a lot of fun, but I will admit, my favorite part was just being with Scienceguy. I'm proud to have him as my brother!

I will keep this short, as I have CAMP tomorrow!

Yes, I am Camp Barnabas Bound, where I will serve for a week. I'm praying I'm a cabin Mom again, as that is a lot of fun. A lot of hard work, but a lot of fun. :-)

So, I am CAMP BARNABAS BOUND!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Barnabas Bound!

Tonight I have spent the evening preparing for camp. I have made the annual Wal-Mart trip, purchased all my supplies, worked on laundry, and even packed a few things. I will finish my preparations on Wednesday Morning since I have workshops during the day tomorrow and plans with Scienceguy tomorrow evening. I am excited!!! Believe it or not, I'm already thinking about how much I'll miss Jay while I'm at camp. That's okay though, I will be so busy that I won't think that much about him. :-)

I can't wait.
I will get to see God work in amazing ways this week!
My limp will be normal for a week! :-)
I get to work with autistic and developmentally delayed kids.
Jay (My student that I tutored) will be there, as well as Videogameskid who also used to be in my class!
I get to serve with teens who love God.
I get to see Laura!!!!
I even have tentative plans with Karen after camp ends!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Priceless!

Today was a good day for me. I got up and went to FCF for service this morning. It was good. I didn't have anything deep like the past two days happen, but it was still good, and I was glad I went. God honors prayer even if we don't feel squat. I like that. It wasn't time wasted at all!

I came home and walked Jay. We're getting into a routine in the walking thing, and I like it. Of course, we came back and he was WORN OUT! I liked that. He often has more energy than a toddler, so it was nice to get to relax a bit while he slept!

Tonight was my favorite part of my day! I went to a fundraiser down by where I used to live, and had a WONDERFUL time. I didn't realize how much I was missing being around people. There was a neat show, and it raised funds for Karen and others to fulfill their destiny in going to the nations. I was glad I was able to be there and be a part of what God is doing in their lives.

Afterward, Karen invited me to go for ice cream with the group, and that was a lot of fun. Of course, my favorite part was talking, laughing, and joking with Karen. Karen has become very special to me, as she is helping me grow closer to God just by being around her. She is one of those people that you watch and think, "Gosh, she is an amazing woman of God!" Or at least that's what I think when I'm around her. I am so blessed to have her in my little corner of the world...it is PRICELESS in my book!

I tell ya,

Life.
Is.
Good!

My Soul...longs for...You Lord...

...in a dry...and...weary...land...

Today I got up and walked Jay. I find that the mornings are beautiful here, and Jay is worn out afterward so I can clean up and not worry about what he's getting into that he shouldn't be. Now don't go thinking I'm not an early bird, because I am not. I was up at 9-ish, we were back here by 10-ish. It was nice.

After cleaning up, I went to a small group meeting with a group from IHOP. I met someone via email that a friend at BYKOTA told me about and she is going to help me get connected. I am blessed to have her in my life... The group was good, and I enjoyed it. I will probably go back, although I will miss next Saturday due to camp.

After that, I went to the prayer room. Misty was leading, and while that was REALLY good, it wasn't the part that was the best for me. It's funny, my plan was to do the prayer room from 2-3, come home, eat, play with Jay, and go back for service tonight. It's funny how my plans aren't always God's plans.

After Misty, Jon Thurlow came out. Jon is also becoming a favorite worship leader of mine. I guess you could say I like all the leaders at IHOP. Anyway, God led Jon in a chorus that we did last night that I don't remember doing before last night. And, in that, I encountered God. Again. I smiled and entered in...it was INCREDIBLE. Finally, I am getting where I was longing to go. I stayed through some of Jon's set, but when the Lord lifted and told me to go, I did.

It was 5-ish then. I knew I wasn't going back for service. I had already met God, and He had already spoken to me. I was going to spend the evening with Jay!

I pulled up in the driveway, when my next-door neighbor was coming out of her house. She asked me a question and 2.5 hours later, I came in to rescue Jay. It was a nice visit. And, I knew that was why I encountered God this afternoon, and not tonight. God does amazing stuff when we don't even know what He's up to...that brings me incredible joy and comfort. God is in control...no doubt about that!

So, I sit here tonight, watching NCIS re-runs that are new to me, and I am in awe of God. I have been hungry for an encounter, and I've had 2 in the past two days. I pray it continues...

As we sang today...

My soul, longs for, you lord, in a, dry and weary land...

Life.
Is.
Good.

For the first time in a long time...

...I encountered God.

I have spent a lot of time this week in the Prayer Room. Everyday was different, and I was finding it more and more difficult to go where I wanted to go in God. For some of you, this won't make sense, but I'm going to keep writing anyway.

So tonight I went to the Encountering God Service at IHOP. I have been to EGS since I moved here, and they all have been good services. However, tonight was different for me. Justin Rizzo led worship from 6 -7ish, which was fun. My favorite part was when all the young adults ran up to the front to dance. I just smiled ear-to-ear. It was GREAT.

Then Allen Hood came out to preach. Allen is my favorite speaker at IHOP. Seven years ago last month, I heard Allen for the first time, and my life in God changed for the better. Tonight, God used Allen to speak a lot into my life. Which was AWESOME. I haven't heard a sermon that connected with me like that in a LONG time.

At the end, I went up by the stage for prayer. Allen prayed over us, and then I just stayed up there. Justin finished and Matt Gilman came out. Matt is becoming a real favorite of mine, and I was excited to see him come out. So, I just stayed up front. I honestly expected IHOP staff to come tell me to eventually move, but noone did. I just sat and sang. And, in that, I encountered God. I can't put into words what happened, but for the first time in a while, I feel peace. Real peace. Deep peace... And, for that, I am grateful. It's been so long since I've been here. Amazing...

I plan on going to EGS again tomorrow night...

Life.
Is.
Good.

The Lake

Tonight after I got home from IHOP, I took Jay on a road trip to get my medicine from the pharmacy, and then we drove to the lake. The lake is not far at all from where I live. We parked the car and walked over to a bench, and sat. Well, I sat, he walked around. It was a beautiful night. The only glitch was that he escaped out of his collar at one point! Fortunately, he came right to me, and we got the collar back on him. The collar is now fixed, and he couldn't get free even if he tried! It was a nice time. After that we walked, and it was beautiful. I plan on walking him in the morning since I'm going to IHOP for service tomorrow night. It was our first official walk, as I've been gaining strength to walk him on the leash outside of our own property.

Life.
Is.
Good.

Excitement...sort of...

Today was a good day. It won't seem very exciting to you, but it was to me!

I met the family for lunch, which was nice. Now that I live here, it's easy to get together. I believe there are some plans for a get-together before school starts for all of us teachers in the family. I am excited about that.

After lunch, we entered the huge Nebraska Furniture Mart, where I bought a Washer and Dryer! Now, to all of you this is probably not a big deal. I mean, it's just a washer and dryer. For me, it's another step toward freedom in my new chapter of my life. In my previous chapter, I was limited to only washing clothes on Sunday. Which, for the record, was fine. I am a single gal and could easily get it all done in one day. I found myself periodically frustrated though, when I wanted to wear something I needed clean and couldn't because my day to wash was on Sunday. In all fairness to the people I lived with, I could usually work it out, but I always felt bad when I did it because it was typically an inconvenience to them. Tomorrow morning I will get my new washer and dryer and I will be able to wash ANYTIME!

I. Am. Pumped.

I spent some time in the Prayer Room this afternoon and have spent some time tonight emailing people about ways to be connected there. It's a step..a small step, but a step.

Now it's time for last time out and to head upstairs to sleep.
I need to be up early for the delivery people to give me the washer and dryer!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Jay's Thoughts

Greetings!

Jay here.

I am tired of Shortone having access to the computer all the time, so I thought I'd post tonight. She is on here ALL the time. It cuts into my time with her, so I thought I'd take some time for myself and write.

I've been here a week, and really like it. So far I've managed to eat her glasses, tear down the gate to get my chew that was upstairs, attempted to eat the cable cord, barked at neighbors, chewed her JCCC diploma frame, and knocked her down when we were walking. None of that seemed to make her happy.

I have also managed to cuddle with her, play fetch with her (a lot of fetch), guard her from the evil people outside (she says they're not, but I know they are! I'm bigger than she says I am!), and listened to her as she rambles on about stuff. She has liked that.

I've heard a lot about a Prayer Room. She has gone a lot lately, and seems to really like it. She mumbled something about how cool it was to only be 15 minutes away. She's been happy when she has returned from there each day.

She bought me something called "Kong" and I like it. It's hard to get the food out, so sometimes she makes it easier for me. Otherwise I walk away and don't try for a while. I like it when she puts new food in it for me. It's great!

I get to sleep in my box in her room. I even get to stay up with her until she goes to bed! She says I get to do that so I'll sleep later in the crate! So far I haven't woken her up yet, so she's liked that. She doesn't sleep very late though, so it's easy to make it all night in the crate.

Well, Shortone says it's last time out and then time for bed.

I'll keep ya posted on what happens around here. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll get to chew that cord!

Later, Blogland!

Barnabas Preparations and Other Tidbits

I have entered the mindset of preparation for Camp Barnabas. I went shopping and have purchased a few things for camp. I love this time of year. I can't believe that it's next week! Camp is my favorite week out of the Summer! I serve during the Autism week, and it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of work, but it's also full of laughter, fun, and centered around God. Jay, the student I tutored the past 5 years, is coming this year for the first time! I am getting so excited!

I spent time in the Prayer Room today, and had a blast. I find it amazing how fast time flies in there. It's my favorite place on the planet and plan on spending time in there everyday this week, preparing for my week at Barnabas. :-)

Jay has been entertained by a new toy tonight. A friend of mine suggested "Kong" to me on Facebook last night, so I went out and bought it this afternoon. Boy has he been on a mission to get his little treat out. He tries for a while, stops for a bit, and then tries again! He hasn't gotten the treat out, but it's given him something to chew on, which I love!

Finally, the good news is that I got my glasses fixed! For $2, I now have glasses that don't hurt when I wear them! Yippee!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Every Day is Different!

I awoke today to Jay jumping on me with wet paws! The kids had let the dog out this morning in the rain and didn't dry him off when he came in, which was fine, I just got to clean his paws. Then he just laid there, and we cuddled. It was cute.

All morning the kids pretty much played with him. We skipped church to fellowship before going to the Prayer Room this afternoon. It was a fun morning.

This afternoon we went to the Prayer Room before SingingGal and her family left for home. And, I was in awe of the fact I was in the prayer room for the upteenth time, and every time I go, it's different. There are not two sets that have ever been the same. It's different everytime I walk in there. I love that! God isn't a boring God, he actually loves us to have a different day each day. That's the point of life this side of heaven, I think.

I know I am guilty of thinking back to good memories and thinking, "I want to rewind to there" when in reality, God wants us to enjoy the current day in our lives. I was reminded today of Karen's quote that says, "Never let your memories be bigger than your dreams."

That's deep.

So, whatever you may be doing...enjoy today! God doesn't want you to re-live yesterday, He wants you to ENJOY today!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Glasses and Chew Toys

This morning I gave Jay a chew stick and hopped in the shower. He had done so well that I wanted to try him out with letting him be downstairs while I showered. Yesterday when I came down, he was asleep on the couch. I wanted to see how he would do.

He came upstairs quite a bit while I was getting cleaned up. He really does prefer to be around people, which is a good thing. The kicker is that the kids are here, so he's been more hyper than he is when he is just with me. (And, it is GREAT having the kids here, as they all love each other so it's fun to watch!)

So, today when I came down after cleaning up, I looked over and he has something in his mouth. I walked over, and noticed he had my glasses in his mouth! Fortunately, it was just the earpieces, but it is enough damage that I will go on Monday to get new earpieces. At least I hope I can get the earpieces. Otherwise, I need new glasses!

I stood there and looked at him. He dropped the glasses and cowered. I picked up the glasses and went in the kitchen to clean them and assess the damage. He followed, and when I looked at him, he cowered. I took a moment and spoke sternly to him. He just cowered and walked away.

I went to Wal-Mart later and found some chew stuff that works! He now has to WORK ON the chew instead of having it eaten in 10 minutes!

Don't worry, the glasses will be kept up high from now on.
And he will have a chew that lasts before I clean up.
And life will go on.

Life.
Is.
Good.

Friendship

Today was a GREAT day. I could give you my usual play-by-play, but won't tonight because I'm tired. Instead I'll simply say this:
I am blessed to have SingingGal and her family in my life. They have come to stay with me, and I am being enormously blessed by each and everyone of them. Once again I am reminded that I am loved VERY well.

Life.
Is.
Good.

Productivity

For a day off work, I sure got a lot accomplished!

I managed to:
1. Find the license bureau and get a new license with my new address on it. When I say my street name to people they can't seem to understand me, so now I just show my license. It skips the whole, "Spell that for me..."

2. I found the library and got a library card. It is a pretty nice library, and I can use any library in the KC Mid-Continent Library System. And, it's free. I know, you're thinking, wasn't it free where you came from? It would have been if I had lived in the town that had the library. It cost me $40 a year to have a library card. I paid it, as it was worth the money and saved me tons in buying new books, but today was nice to have it for FREE! I reserved the new Lucado book and checked out two other books. I LOVE THE LIBRARY!

3. I found the recycle center and took MANY boxes to the recycled. I still need to make another trip in the next few days, as not all the boxes would fit in my car, but I can now comfortably fit my car in the garage! I was sweating by the time I had thrown all the boxes up over the top to put them in the bin, but I did it! And, it felt good to help with the environment. That's sort of one of my goals in life...

4. I tried out a local grocery store near the house. I have decided to stick with Wal-Mart. You wouldn't think it would be that big of a difference, but I found MANY differences in prices. It was good to try it though, as I now know what I can use if I need to in the future.

5. I cleaned the house for my guests who will be here shortly. I have SingingGal and her family coming in for a weekend at IHOP. I think they're pretty much going to sleep here and be at IHOP the rest of the time, but I am excited to have them here! They will be my first overnight guests! It's going to be fun!

Like I said, it's been a productive day. I think I'll log out and cuddle with Jay!

Life.
Is.
Good.

$5 Ropes

I have now had Jay 48 hours, and am LOVING IT! Scienceguy came over today, and we went and bought more dog supplies...yes, I came home with another toy or two, as well as some necessities. The best thing we got was a stake with a rope, so that I can let him out to do his business without much hassle. I let him out a little while ago and it worked GREAT! I still plan on taking him out on the leash more than just putting him on the rope, but it is a GREAT thing to have! Thanks Scienceguy! He loves it!

As most of you know, I have wanted a dog for YEARS. I have been prepared for the worst, and have been blessed immensely with this dog. Of course, I have spent the past few years praying over him, so I think that helps too!

I expected him to howl the first couple nights as he slept in his crate...and it didn't happen. He howled twice and when he realized nothing was happening, and he went to sleep!

I expected poo and pee to be a challenge. And so far, there hasn't been one poo or pee incident inside! Yippee!

I watch the little pup and smile a lot. He is such a typical dog.

My favorite thing is when I return home from an outing and let him out and when we come back in, he will immediately run back up to his crate to get his chew stick and come right back down and will be occupied for a while with that stick. I just laugh. He's been here 48 hours and he understands where everything is located. IT'S GREAT!

He's pretty good at keeping himself busy. He's currently running around like a maddog with his toys, trying to destroy them all. He particularly likes the toys with squeakers. He has only gotten the squeakers out of one toy (Thanks Mom!), so the other 5 are still together! Give him time...I wonder if there is a Rewards card for the local pet store? Hum...something tells me I'm going to be a proud sponsor!

At the end of the day today I thought to myself a lot as I watched him outside sniffing and wandering around outside. He's such a happy little guy. He's currently upside down on his back wrestling with his rope toy. Gosh, he's having a ball with his $5 rope.

We should all be so happy with the little things in life...

Seriously...

Life.
Is.
Good.

Life and Death

Today I've found myself deep in thought.

When I was in the 5th grade, I was in elementary school in Austin, Texas. In music class one day we were given the option to watch Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. At that point, I didn't know who he was, much less did I know what the video would include. And, as my parents would probably say, I was a wimp when it came to videos. Scary stuff never worked for me. I stayed in the room for the Jackson video, but wound up weirded-out and sat by the door with my eyes looking at the door, not at the video. I remember sitting there wondering what that had to do with my musical education. I didn't really care, I will admit, but I wondered it. I was a scared kid watching avoiding a video I didn't grasp. I wasn't scarred, but I remember that as my first exposure to Michael Jackson.

I remember sometime later he had his hair catch fire when filming a video. By that point, I think I owned one or two of his albums. I knew who he was, and he was cool. I could sing the songs, but could never moonwalk.

As I entered Middle School, we did "We are the World" and raised money for people in other countries. We watched the video with all the people in the music industry as they sang about making a difference. I remember being taught to care about kids and people in Africa, while I wondered how it was that people in America were overweight and always saying, "I'm on a diet."

Somewhere in that season, the Thriller video became cool to me and I was doing the little dance that went with it. (Never did moon walk though!) I knew the songs, and could picture all his dances in my mind.

While I enjoyed his music, I don't remember having a crush on him. I don't remember thinking, "I want to be him when I grow up!" I don't remember wanting to be in the same room with him, or following him as the media did.

The older I got, whenever I would hear something about him, or see him, I wondered how happy he was on the inside. I remember being thankful I wasn't famous, and I could go anywhere and do anything without the press taking pictures. I always wanted him to be happy. I never wanted to meet him or anything, but as I watched him grow, I wondered a lot about him each time I saw his picture. Weird? No, that wasn't what I ever thought. I felt sadness every time I saw him.

My interpretation was (and still is) that he wasn't secure in the skin he was in. He was changing his appearance...not staying as God created him. Which is fine, that was obviously his choice, and it's not for any of us to judge him. I just remember feeling sad for him. I didn't know the man, yet I always felt compassion for a man who had some good songs and tried to make a difference in his own, unique way. He changed lives, trying to make the world a better place. We should all be striving to make a difference in our own, positive way.

So today, along with most of the world I think, I watched Jackson's funeral. I haven't shed any tears or felt the need to go stand outside the Staples Center and be a part of the festivities. I was content right here in the comfort of my own home, with a dog asleep at my feet.

As I watched, I was very happy about how respectful the crowd was during the ceremony. l thought that all the obsessed fans would be, well, obsessed, and not be respectful to the family and friends of the world-famous celebrity. I am glad I was wrong.

I watched and thought about a family who has just lost a loved one. It is no different than me, the average american, losing a loved ones. The emotions, sense of loss, and knowledge that someone they love is now in Heaven and no longer here to be a part of their lives. The main difference is that the media is watching their every move.

I really, really wish the media could leave them alone. There are family members grieving a loss of a life, and yet I turn on the TV and hear "who will get the children?" Is that our business? I don't think so.

Life is a fragile thing, one that should be handled with care...and death should be handled with respect as well.

I was happy with how the funeral went.

In the end, I was left with one final thought, as I turned off the funeral.

Life is good.

Life is too short not to enjoy it while we're here.

It seems to me the older I get, the faster each year goes by.

Before we know it, we'll be in Heaven too.

So, let's enjoy the ride...

Life.
Is.
Good.

Jay!

Today has been one FULL DAY! I am glad to report I am home, on the couch, and Jay is whacking the toy my Mother gave him to death. It's a good toy though, it's being thrown all over and is still intact! He seems content. We've walked around the house, inside and out, and so far not one potty issue indoors! Of course, I kept him out until he did his business so we could avoid a bit of that. I'm sure there is plenty of pee and poo in my future, but for now he is good! My only concern at the moment is whether or not I'm going to be able to walk him. Your friend with the goofy limp had a tad bit of trouble once I got home. So, please say a prayer...I LOVE THIS DOG! Without any fenced-in yardage, I need to be able to deal with him on a leash. I am hoping it's just because I'm tired after the long day....I am praying that's the case...

In other news, I had a bit of healing today. I met with my former roommate, and "I'm sorry" was said on both sides. In my book, that's worth more than all the money in my savings account...

Finally, my favorite moment of the day was lunch with Karen. We had a two-hour lunch, and I tell ya what, I walked away closer to God just by our conversation. I am one blessed gal...

Life.
Is.
Good.

Normalcy

I have found this weekend to be surprisingly refreshing. While I am adjusting to a new environment, I am finding peace in the midst of the changes. I am excited about getting the new dog, and starting another adventure in this new chapter in my life.

My favorite part, of course, was IHOP. I went to service Friday night, and just smiled the whole time. I can't believe I'm here. It's almost as if I want someone to pinch me and say, "Yes, your dream of being a part of IHOP is coming true." That being said, I'm not committed anywhere in that ministry, and would like some time without responsibilities before I dive in because I want some time on the floor to just soak for a little while, but I am pumped to be here! I went to service today at IHOP, and did the same thing. I just smiled. This is going to be my "normal."

I'm smiling now just thinking about it...

Life.
Is.
Good.

Preparing Myself....

I am less than 48 hours from having MY OWN DOG! I spent some time yesterday at PetSmart getting goodies for the little guy. One of my going-away gifts was a giftcard to PetSmart, so I had some fun. Honestly, it's good I have never spent much time in a pet store prior to yesterday. If I had, I would have been evicted from several places in my past because I would have broken the rules and gotten a dog long ago! Seriously...

So I am making a list and am headed out tomorrow to get the last of the goodies. The list includes a new leash, bowls, dog gate, chew sticks, and probably another toy or two. My parents even sent me home today with a new toy for the pup!

I am pumped! Excited! Thrilled!

This dog has no idea how spoiled he's about to be!

Pictures will be posted Monday after I get him. Afterall, he isn't mine just yet!

I. CAN'T. WAIT.

Life.
Is.
Good.

Finally Found Where I Belong...

Tonight I went to EGS. For those of you new to my little corner of the world, that is Encountering God Service at IHOP-KC. Cory Asbury led tonight and it was FUN. Following Cory, Lou Engle preached. I was touched by his message, and he had us laughing out-loud A LOT! I love sermons like that. God spoke volumes to me, in both the music and message.

Afterward, Matt Gilman came out and led worship. Ah...I love Matt's worship. It is so deep and fun!

At one point in the evening, I can't really remember which leader sang it, a chorus came forward that said, "I finally found where I belong." I smiled. That's how I felt tonight standing there.

Life.
Is.
Good.

Chapter 5: A New Beginning

Today was the first day of a new chapter in my life. If you've been following my ramblings for any length of time, you already know that, but in the event you're new, you know now. :-)

What did I do today?

Glad you asked...

I slept in. (I know, you're SHOCKED to hear that!)

I went and attempted to get a mailbox key...that will happen in the next day or two.

I came back to wait for the CableGuy, and unpacked stuff. I worked hard for several hours, and now have a garage full of boxes to be taken to the recycling center early next week.

The CableGuy did arrive, and I now have cable. For some of you, that means zilch, but for this single gal, I am THRILLED. I'm also excited because it's the same system as the one I had in the last chapter of my life. That is a bonus!

I went and wondered around Wal-Mart, buying things for the new place. I am so excited about all the cute stuff I bought. I still have a few random things to buy, but am settling in quite nicely.

I really like this townhome. It is the nicest thing I've lived in since I've been an adult. Not that I've lived in horrible places, because I haven't, but this place is truly a gift from God. I walk around and think, "This is HUGE." It is, compared to the apartment I had. I am used to taking a couple steps and being in another room. Things are different now.

I like that. Different is good.

I am finding that it's easy to get around here. I hop on the internet and type "Wal-Mart" and it has a link that lets you put in your starting point, and it gives directions. I did that for the post office too! When I returned from Wal-Mart tonight, I felt as if I was getting to know the area a bit. Granted, there's a lot more to learn, but it was comforting to get some basic directions down. I am one of those people that just need to drive around and get the feel for an area. If I'm sitting, I don't pay attention at all. It's been great here.

I have thought a lot about God today, and how He is guiding me step-by-step here. I don't know what the next "step" has in store for me, but I feel at peace here. That is a gift from God.

I know, you're thinking, "Didn't ya go to IHOP today?"

Sadly, the answer is no. By the time the Cableguy came and went, and I went and bought groceries, I was wiped!

Don't worry though, tomorrow is EGS, and I plan on attending!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Home in L.S.

I am sitting in my new townhome, and had to turn off the radio as the reality of what I have just done has just sunk in. I moved out of my comfort zone to go into a whole new chapter in my life. It is a necessary change, one that God has set before me...and it's hard to believe I am here. Seriously...

I came up with three friends from church and they helped unpack things and make it look like home. They did an EXCELLENT job and I am blessed that they are in my life. They came up and spent 4 hours helping...which is the same amount of time that they will have spent in the car coming and going. I am blessed that they offered and came. This transition will be better because of them. I don't take any of them for granted...not a single one!

I want to give a public "Thank You" to my parents! They drove over, unloaded furniture, ate some dinner, and left. They have worked HARD to get me here over the past several weeks...so thanks Parental Unit!

I need to sleep. I am exhausted.

Life.
Is.
Good.