Highlights from Term 7, 2010

This week was an incredible week at Camp Barnabas. I will admit, I went into the week expecting things to be pretty much the same as it has been the past three years. I was unexpectedly surprised at how different it was this week, and found myself in awe of how God knows exactly what we need when we need it.

Upon arrival, I found out that I was in Ronni's cabin again! Ronni has been my favorite camper the past two years, and I had honestly prayed to be a part of her cabin again this year. I was THRILLED to hear I was with her again, as well as Lilly, Maddie, and Sara! These girls have all touched my heart in different ways of the past couple years so I was excited about what God had for us this week!

I will be honest, we had a tough cabin. The girls in the cabin had Down's Syndrome and/or Autism. I expected the week to be full of challenges, but the challenges I faced were somewhat unexpected.

The past two years, Sara was pretty indifferent toward me. This year, she thought I was pretty cool. Well, sometimes I was cool, and sometimes I wasn't cool, but she was my major challenge for the week. In years past, I have simply helped with Ronni because Sara didn't respond to me. This year was different because Sara somewhat responded to me. It depended upon the situation at the time as to whether or not I really helped Sara, but I felt my role was to support her CIA and Cabin Staff as they took the brunt of the physical labor involved in taking care of Sara effectively. As the week progressed, I found my heart growing for Sara. Honestly, I never knew I could love a kid so much that proved to be so character- building. God taught me a great deal through this little 9 year old girl. Sara could be sweet too, which made the tough parts worth it. I loved her more than I thought possible, which was definitely a God thing.

As for Ronni, she was a jewel. Ronni has made great strides since camp last year. She walked to activities more than she has before, and sat and ate all her dinner without running out of the dining hall. I liked that because I could enjoy my meal. Sure, she would go up on stage and sing in the mic after each meal, but that was easy compared to the past two years. She also went straight into the shower without being forced, which was HUGE! She is growing up and it was GREAT to be able to see the growth she has made. She was also the highlight of my week as she would occasionally say "Shanna, come here!" which would make my little heart melt. One night we had a movie night, and she turned to me and licked my face which left me laughing so hard it hurt! (Don't asked me why she licked me, she just did!) The pool was also a hit, as she would sit me under the water and get me wet!!! The pool is my favorite thing to do with Ronni, as she likes the water! The other Ronni highlight was when we were in the cabin and she was doing my hair, and she lifted my bangs and saw my wrinkles. She then licked her fingers and attempted to rub the wrinkles off. I asked if she got it off, and she said "nope!" It was adorable!

Lilly was a jewel as well. The thing that touches me the most about Lilly is that she can pray! She prayed out at Cross Carry, which was GREAT! Lilly is an easy camper to have in a cabin as she does pretty much whatever needs to be done. It is precious. There were moments when Lilly would see someone upset and she would go over and hug them. Of course, if someone kissed her on the cheek she would say "No kissing!" It was so cute! I hope to be in Lilly's cabin again next year. She always makes me smile!

Maddie is a child with Autism and she was sweet to me this week. We had never really clicked before, but we seemed to this year. Her CIA got sick the first full day, so I was partnered up with her for a while. She grabbed my arm during that time and used several words that weren't appropriate at one point, but I was her safe person at that time. It was touching to me, even though Maddie was having a rough time. Once her CIA was better, she did better. I was glad Maddie was in my cabin again. I hope she is in it again next year.

We had four new campers, and they were all precious too. I didn't get to know some of them as much as I would have liked because I was helping so much with Ronni and Sara, but they all were sweet.

Gracie was small and cute and one-of-a-kind. She was an easy camper and my main interaction with her was in the cabin playing with a little ball during our down time. She reminded me of how simple life can be. She was really sweet.

Hannah was also a sweet girl who likes to hug people! I was also amazed how Hannah could be honoree too! She kept us all laughing and smiling. She was a keeper!

Jenny was sweet, but I never really connected with her. I tried a couple times, but she didn't seem to take to me, which was fine. Our inside joke was when I would say "High Five!" and she would say "No" and we would both grin. I never pushed her, as I knew there were others who could minister to her. I liked her though. She was really sweet.

Darci was new as well, and I really liked her. She was more active than some of our other campers, which kept us on our toes, but she was a very sweet girl. She found a caterpillar one day at it was sweet how she took care of it. Well, until she poured water on it and killed it. *grin* But it was still really sweet to watch. Darci and I didn't spend a lot of time together, but when we did I liked her a lot. On closing day, she wanted to take pictures on my camera so I followed her around the cabin a lot as she was taking pictures of everything. It was sweet.

The most touching moment for me was one night at Wrap-Up when we were singing a slow song in worship. Both Ronnie and Sara were fighting for my attention ("She is my Shannon" is what Ronni and Sara said more than once!) and I was sitting in between them to keep them from fighting and Lilly came up to sit by me too. I found myself singing to all three of them, and felt God's love in a fresh way in that moment. God is wanting our attention just as those girls were wanting mine. It was a moment I will never forget. The girls have no idea what that moment meant to me, but God does, and that's what counts!

While I'm still processing a lot that God taught me, I am going to go ahead and post some quotes heard in our cabin this week. I may write more in days to come, I may not. I am headed back out to Camp tomorrow to serve for Term 8. Honestly, I am a little nervous about this Term because I won't know any of the campers this week. But, I know that everyone in my cabin will be there because God put them there.

Quotes:
"I think I just died"--Carson after spending a day with Sara.

"I'm pretty sure Sara is proposing and she said no". Rachael referring to Sara and another camper.

"Will you help me?"

"No HItting!"

"Sara, please place the toilet paper in the toilet." Carson

Rachael: Lilly, you need to shower tonight because Sara pooped in the bathtub.
Lilly: Can I see?

"Now I see why you pray for this cabin every year." Carson after seeing Ronni being funny and happy at the movie party.

"Silence is golden."

Tomorrow I head to Camp for Term 8, which is Blind and Deaf Week.

Something tells me that this week is going to be a lot different! *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good! *grin*

Home!!!!

Tonight I am back from camp.

I am wiped. Exhausted. Sleepy.

That being said, it was the BEST week so far this year!

Tomorrow I will post quotes from the week.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
GOOD.

Jay Wants To Go To Camp Barnabas Too!

Tonight while I was packing for camp, Jay climbed into the bag I was packing. While you can't see my things very well, he was actually in the bag! I thought it was cute. No, he's not going! He'll have a blast with RockStarPara and her family while I am off serving God's kids at camp! *grin*

I'M CAMP BARNABAS BOUND!!! *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good!

Keepin' Me on my Toes!!!

I find it amazing how fast this Summer is going by. I checked my work email account and there were dates to write down for fall events. That hardly seems possible. Didn't school just get out? Wow!

I sit here tonight and Jay is sprawled across my lap asleep. I was just thinking that 48 hours from now I will be out at camp, and will really miss him. That's saying a lot, as tonight has been character-building. No, really, it has been.

We went over to RockStarPara's for lunch to hang out, and had a great time. We managed to get home just in time to beat the Thunderstorm. While it was good that we beat the storm, it was bad because we didn't get to go for our usual walk. Therefore, Jay has been climbing the walls tonight. Not to mention, he has been smelling up the place with his farts. (I could say that less bluntly, but really, why?)

I texted Ms. H. around 8 and offered her Jay for a while. She declined.

I have pondered parenthood, and imagine Jay is giving me a taste of parenthood. Not completely of course, but he has needed to be in my lap ALL evening. I even gave him a rawhide chew, and he didn't want it. He has worn me out!

So, I guess you could say that I am looking forward to Camp on SO MANY levels!

I also imagine that on Thursday when I drop him off at RockStarPara's, I will start missing him the moment I drive off.

Hum.....

Life.
Is.
Good.

4 Days to Camp!

On Thursday of this week I leave for Camp Barnabas!!! I am amazed at how fast this Summer has flown by. It seems as if I was just counting it down and I was down to 31 days. Here I sit with only a few days to go. Gosh, I am excited!

I have been taking time each day to prepare my heart for the fourteen days I will be out at camp. I will go for a week, come home for about 48 hours, and go back. This will be my first year that I will serve for two weeks.

For those of you new to my little corner of the world, Camp Barnabas is a camp for Special Needs Children and Adults. I go out to serve as a Cabin Mom, and this will be my fourth year to go. It is definitely my Mission Trip for the year. Most people think, "Oh, camp, that will be a lot of fun!" And while it is a lot of fun, it is a lot of HARD work. It is the most physically, emotionally, and spiritually challenging two weeks for me out of the whole year. Hence, it is a mission trip for me!

The first week I will be in a cabin with Autism and Developmentally Delayed kids. The past two years I have been in a cabin with a lot of Down's Syndrome kids, which is ALWAYS a highlight for me. I don't teach kids with Down's during the School Year, so camp is very special to me. I am hoping to be with a few of the girls I was with last year, but in praying about the trip, I know that God will put me with the cabin that He wants me in.

The second week I am there, I am going during the deaf and blind week! I have ALWAYS wanted to be there for it, but due to school commitments I have never been able to go. I have been brushing up on my sign language too! I can't wait to see what a different week looks like out at camp. Since I'm always there during Autism/Down's Week, I will be anxious to see what it will be like with different campers! It is going to be GREAT!

I have been spending a lot of time preparing my heart for Camp this year. I have given a lot of thought lately to the depth of life. The more I ponder, the more I want my life to be one that makes a difference. I want God to use me in the ways He created me to be, so I can serve Him.

I know that the "I'm Third" theory is a theory that I don't always walk out here at home because it's just Jay and me. I don't have to worry about anyone but me. (By the way, for those of you who don't know, it's God first, others second, me, third.) So, it is always the first meal at camp where I am challenged to think of others first. I wish I could say I carry the theory out the rest of the year outside of camp, but I don't ALWAYS do that. So, I have been preparing my heart to serve others.

I plan on spending the next few days prayerfully preparing for camp. It will be a lot of fun swimming and such, but it will also be putting others' needs first to the best of my ability.

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Love

Today I drove back to Joplin to see some friends from the last chapter of my life. As I drove down, I didn't really know what to expect, I just knew I really wanted to go!

I did lunch with ReadingTeacher first. ReadingTeacher was one of my favorite people at my last school, as she stood by me during some rough stuff. We also share a love for movies and books. Anyway, today was our first day to do lunch one-on-one, and I REALLY enjoyed it! We ate at Cheddar's, which is always fun. We pondered life's challenges in our little corner of the world, and while we didn't solve all the world's problems, we sure had fun trying!

As we were leaving the restaurant, I spotted a family friend who now lives in Florida. I could hardly believe she was in Joplin! We made small chit-chat, and I was glad I bumped into her!

Next on my journey for today was to head to my old school. I got there earlier than I expected to get there, as I had to meet some friends to meet their new addition to the family.

As I was approaching the school, I tall young man approached me with sunglasses on. I looked at him and was perplexed as to which former student it was, but I figured out very quickly that it was T.H., who was in my classroom 6 years ago! We made small talk, and I met his family as well. I just grinned ear-to-ear as I talked to him. I pray that he stays on the right path. He has such a GREAT future ahead of him!

After that, I walked up and entered the building. I was surprised at how many of my teacher friends were there. I saw the Reynolds boys, which was nice. They greeted me with huge hugs and grins! I loved it! I also saw Andy's Mom, which was fun too. Andy will be at camp next week! I also saw PEteacher, which was an unexpected surprise. We got caught up, and when I saw her I realized how much I missed her! (I need to do lunch with her one day too!)

After talking to PEteacher, I met an incredible new baby who is blessed to have some WONDERFUL parents. I was allowed to hold the little guy and he fell asleep in my arms, with his fingers in his face. It was PRECIOUS!

I was done at the school earlier than I expected to be, but headed on to the Mall anyway. On my way to use a gift card, I ran into 4thgradeteacher and her husband, as well as A.H., and D.M. A.H. and D.M. went to my school in Joplin and have a special place in my heart even today. It was good to see them.

After chatting, I went and used my Old Navy gift card while Karen got settled in at work. Once she was settled, we had a GREAT time watching people walk by the store and I enjoyed seeing her sell perfume. Karen is such a wonderful blessing in my life. While I have blogged about her several times before, it is still true, she is tied with another wonderful woman of God at the top of my favorite people list! (We won't tell who she's tied with! *grin*)

As I was driving home, I reflected on the day and it truly hit me how loved I am. I mean, really loved. Everyone I saw (with the except of the former students) greeted me with a hug, and a genuine smile on their face. And I am amazed at how love doesn't have boundaries in space. I mean, I live two hours away, but can go back and feel welcomed as if I never left. That is a special thing. It's something you can't buy, it's something God blesses us with this side of Heaven. I am loved INCREDIBLY well....

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

iPhone!!!

Yesterday morning I woke up to Jay barking like crazy. I looked out my window, and saw a FedEx truck in my driveway! I was SO EXCITED because I knew that meant that my iPhone was here! I rushed to change into clothes other than my PJ's, and ran downstairs. After signing the electronic signature mechanism, and making small talk with the driver (who noticed my IHOP bracelet and tried to chat about that, but I was too excited to chat!) I came inside and opened my package.

Within a short amount of time, I realized that I had been living in the stone-age with my old phone. Texting was the thing that blew me away the most. On my last phone I was still touching digits more than once to type out messages. Having a touch screen to type out messages still blows me away! I love it! Plus, having unlimited texting now is a new freedom I didn't have before! *grin*

This morning I managed to set up an app on the phone, and it makes me wonder what else this little phone can do. It also makes me wonder what will be available in two years when I'm eligible for an upgrade, as technology is changing more and more each day. It amazes me.

For now, I'll keep figuring out what my phone can do. And grin the whole time I'm doing it!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Despicable Me

Today I saw the new movie Despicable Me with my Mom. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but from what I heard on K-Love, it had good reviews.

I found the movie to be COMPLETELY fun. While I saw it in 2-D, not 3-D, it was a very good story. It was a very well orchestrated good versus evil plot, with very lovable characters. The children in the story made the story for me, as they were lovable and innocent in a world full of illegal schemes. It was a fun movie that included many laughable moments. I found myself grinning and laughing throughout the movie.

I recommend this movie to children of ALL ages.

By the way, the Minions were a lot of fun to watch too!

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Friendship

I think it's amazing how fast weekends go by, even during the Summer. I drive shuttles on weekends, so I think that makes it go extra fast. I think the phrase "Time flies when you're having fun" becomes more true to me as each year passes by.

This past Friday Night one of my favorite people, Karen, came to see me. While her visit was short, it was still WONDERFUL. We went to Awakening Service together, and I was reminded how much fun it is to experience that with a friend. Not that I mind doing it on my own, but it was REALLY cool to have Karen with me. It was her first Awakening Service, and she liked it.

After Awakening, we ate at IHOP (Pancakes) for a midnight meal. One of my favorite things about Karen (And there are a lot of favorite things now that I think about it) is how I can tell her whatever I'm thinking, and she does the same with me. I am honored to be in her little corner of the world, and it is a blessing to know that our friendship has grown even though we don't live in the same town. It is a blessed thing to have someone in which you can share your deepest hopes, dreams, and fears with and know that they won't be shared elsewhere. And, Karen and I laugh a lot, which is also a highlight.

Yep, friendship is a GREAT thing, and something I don't for granted.

I thank God daily for Karen. *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

I've Got the Joy!

Today was an incredible day! Absolutely incredible!

I started out driving for the Signs and Wonders Camp this morning. While I will admit, my selfish side didn't like the 9am pickup time for the little people, I was glad I went. The kids were SO nice. The kids played Capture the Flag at Shiloh and we had about an hour wait before we moved them from Shiloh to IHOP.

During my wait, I went into the Prayer Room. It was about ten a.m., and I expected the Prayer Room not to be very full. I don't know why, I just didn't. Boy was I wrong! It was FULL of people! (Go figure, I am usually asleep at that time!) Yeah so at 10am, I was grinning ear-to-ear, as we worshipped! I still catch myself thinking, "I can't believe I live here." During that set, I was also thinking about how blessed I am to be a part of a community that believes in 24/7 prayer. Our lives are more than just Sunday Morning Church, and I am so incredibly thankful for that! I walked away from the Prayer Room grinning.

We moved the kids from FMA to IHOP, which was fun too. Slim was driving, which always adds joy to the job! Plus I got to see one of my favorite little gals! It was fun.

Tonight we were to drive the little people again at 7:30. As it turned out Mr. Lenny was still preachin' to the kids, so I pondered life with Slim while we waited. It was a GREAT chat. Slim as a man of God, and I am blessed to have him as a friend.

At about 8:20, we got the kids and took them over to Awakening. It was SO MUCH FUN to drive the kids! I only took two loads, but it was cool because they were praying over going into service. It was so inspiring. Gosh, I can only imagine how strong they're going to be in God by learning what they are this week!

After driving, I parked the shuttle and went into Awakening. We entered into a time of celebration and dancing, which was cool. Once again, I was grinning and thinking, "I love living here!"

After that, we went into Prayer Time for anyone seeking healing. I prayed for a gal, and while I was praying for her, I saw a little boy with his arm raised. I went over and talked to him a little bit before praying for him. He wore glasses and wanted to have his eyes healed so he doesn't have to wear glasses anymore. So, we prayed, he took his glasses off, and said he could see just fine!!! God healed his eyes!!! I was SO excited! So was the boy! Praise the Lord!

As we sang tonight, "I got the joy! I got the joy! I got the joy!" All because God healed a little boy! *grin*

Life.
Is.
AMAZING!

One Year Ago Today....

...I adopted Jay!!! *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

An Evening of Laughter!!!

I believe that this Summer God has really been teaching me about laughter. As I have shared before, I have heard myself laughing more this Summer than I can recall in a long time. I feel His JOY like never before, and it is very refreshing. Sometimes I laugh at Jay, as he is a constant source of joy. Of course, sometimes I scratch my head and think, "What are you doing?" but it is still funny. I also laugh as I drive shuttles. I find that I look forward the most to Sunday evenings because we have the same drivers and we've gotten to know each other a little bit through driving. For example, last night was fun as I laughed with Cherokee about some stories we were sharing from our past fourth of July celebrations. While I promised not to print the stories shared, I will say it was a JOY getting to know Cherokee beyond "Hi." I laughed a lot, which was fun.

This afternoon Ms. H. came to my house, and we had a GREAT time laughing and talking. While we didn't go and do a whole lot, I think it was a really cool evening just because we were able to sit, laugh, and talk. I had rented INPLAINSIGHT, Season 1, Disc 1, so we laughed at that all evening. One of my favorite things about Ms. H. is how we pick on each other (I've known her since '96) and laugh. And when I say laugh, it's not a shallow laugh (at least not for me), it's that deep, joyous laughter. Ms. H. has been given the gift of Joy from God, which blesses everyone around her. It makes it easy to see how her students respond to her so well.

I have a feeling that Joy and Laughter is something the Lord is going to keep showing me in the days and weeks to come. (Camp is around the corner!) And I truly believe that life isn't truly lived unless you find laughter and joy in the everyday stuff. Not long ago, I was "stuck". Now I'm not. *grin* LOVE. IT.

Life.
Is.
GREAT. *grin*

Irony

So, last night at Awakening, I entered at the beginning of a ministry time. During that time, people who desire someone to pray with them come up to the front and then prayer warriors come up and pray for people. This has been my favorite part of living here because I absolutely LOVE praying for God's kids!

However, last night I was challenged...

So, it was crowded and I went up behind a lady and started praying for her from behind. Due to the fact I was behind her, I didn't see her face. When it was possible, I moved in front of her so she could hear me. When I moved, I realized who it was that I had been praying for. It was the one and ONLY upset passenger I've had on shuttles that has been upset with me. She was actually upset with me twice because she felt I had left her in the Overflow Lot when in reality she wasn't at the shuttle stop when I departed for FSM. Both times she was upset set with me, she struck me as the type of gal who is always upset about something. Even after I explained to her that she wasn't there when I left the Lot, it didn't seem to matter. She still got off the shuttle mad.

So, last night when I realized who it was, I wanted to walk away. However, the Lord had other ideas so I stayed and prayed.

Then when I walked away, I told God I didn't like His sense of humor. *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

J.T.

So, I blogged last night about a young man who came to me about wanting to learn how to read. I have decided to name him J.T. since he sort of looks like a J.T. Anyway, after driving shuttles tonight, I went into Awakening and J.T. was there. He was praying for people during the ministry time. He saw me, but he didn't acknowledge me. I wasn't surprised. I can only imagine what it would be like to be a young man, not be able to read, and understand what it means not to show up when you said you would because you wanted help. I just continued to sit. I was hoping he would come over to me, but I also knew he wouldn't.

As I was leaving a little while later, I saw him sitting on the bleachers. He made eye contact with me, and I walked up and sat down by him. He opened with, "I didn't show up, did I?" I just grinned and told him that it was okay, and that I was willing to help him but I wasn't going to push him to learn how to read. I told him it was up to him. I also told him that I drive shuttles Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, and would be glad to meet with him before or after in the coffee shop. He said he wanted to, but didn't make any more plans with me at a specific time to meet. I was fine with that. Learning to read isn't easy, and I know it's got to be his decision and effort in order to learn how to do so.

I went on to tell him that I will be praying for him everyday. He smiled when I said that.

I realize that he may never walk out his desire to learn how to read. That's okay, too. I believe that's between him and God. At least now he knows that there's someone willing to help him.

Right before I walked off, he said, "I want to go to the nations, so I need to learn how to read." I grinned and said, "Okay, you know where to find me."

I am praying that even if it's not me, that he will find someone to help him.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

What I Take for Granted

Yesterday was one of those days that I was moving at a snail's pace. I got to Awakening later than I had planned, but I really didn't care. I was just glad to be there.

When I walked by the bleachers, a young man called me over to talk to him. I recognized him as one of my passengers from Sunday Evening. He stood up and said, "Can we go somewhere and talk?" My initial thought was to err on the side of caution, and said, "sure" but had no intention of leaving the room with him. As it turned out, we moved by the entrance and he admitted to me that he can't read. My heart leapt for him. My guess is that he's in his early twenties. I asked him his schedule and he said he was pretty free. So, I offered to meet him at the Coffee Shop by the Prayer Room today at 3:30. I knew that there was a chance that he wouldn't show, as I suspect he's from a pretty rough background.

While I was right, he didn't show up today, it made me start thinking about what I take for granted. I can read. I like to read. I read every night before I go to bed. I read blogs, emails, and Facebook throughout the day, just for fun. I have a library card that I use at least twice a week because I enjoy reading so much. Reading is easy to me, and is a lot of fun!

I thought about this young man who said he can't read. I don't know for sure if he can read or not, but the more I have thought about it, the more my heart aches for anyone who can't read. I take it for granted that I can read, and many people can't read at all. I know I teach kids to read, but I will admit that I had never really taken time to think about adults who can't read.

I feel blessed to be able to read.

As for the young man, I saw him later when I was driving shuttles but never did get to talk to him. I plan on offering to help him again. For tonight, and days to come, I will pray for him.

Life is too short not to be able to do something if you really want to do it.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

One Year Ago Today....

Okay, I realize it's past midnight and technically July 2, but we're going to pretend it's still July 1. *grin*

I have spent the past half hour re-reading my posts from a year ago today through my days at camp at the end of the month. Wow. It is amazing to think that a year ago tonight was my first night here. In so many ways it was a fast year, and at the same time, there were some character-building moments that made it drag on and on.

I will say that I have laughed more this past year than I have in quite a long time. I hear myself laugh a lot now, and it's not just that shallow laugh, it is the deep-down laugh that feels good. I thank God for that. I didn't really understand the depth of what I was in, but now understand His love and joy in a way I didn't a year ago. For that, I am thankful.

I knew that the last chapter of my life was for a reason, and God has already used me to speak into people's lives because of what I walked through. I have also been able to support and pray for people in a way that I honestly couldn't have without walking through what I did. Through my experience, I learned the depth of what SUPPORT truly means, and God is using me now in more than one situation as women are striving for health in unhealthy situations. Words are powerful, and I am blessed to be beside these ladies as they walk out this season in their lives. That's priceless, because I know that the ladies who supported me will never know how much they mean to me. NEVER.

So, I sit here with Jay in my lap (We have finally figured out how to cuddle while I type!), a smile on my face, and a close relationship with God that has grown in the past year in ways I can't put into words. Sure, there are still things I am praying and hoping for in my life. But for now, I'm happy.

Yep.
Life.
Is.
Good.