A Quote Book

For years I have said that I needed to start a quote book in my classroom. Afterall, I did a pretty good job out at camp getting some quotes down. So, I knew that this year I needed to just do it.

So, I took a composition book that is slightly disabled in its own way, and labeled it "The Quote Book." I explained to each pull-out group what I was doing. Everyone seemed to like the idea, and they just started saying weird stuff to get in the book. They have learned that it has to be a GENUINE quote. One that isn't just made up to be funny. It has to fit a situation perfectly.

While the book is actually sitting in my classroom right now, I thought tonight I might share a few of the quotes from the book. We're still on page one of the book, as I am serious about the criteria of something being worthy of being in the book. Needless to say, some days nothing gets written in it.

In the span of 8 school days, we've had some interesting quotes:

One of my students who doesn't remember details well asked me on day #2 if I was married. I just looked at her and wondered how she could forget that I was single, as I joke about it quite a bit and she was in my program last year. So, I looked at her and said, "Nope, still waiting on God." And she replied with, "You might get a bad husband anyway." I just scratched my head...

My para and I were discussing the book Mockingjay and one of my favorite 6th graders said, "I don't like books. They are a waste of paper." Needless to say, RockStarPara's eyes got huge and I told him that wasn't the right thing to say. He just grinned real wide.... He won't hate them at the end of this year, that's my IEP Goal that I've written for myself...

Today blondeboy came in with crackers from his class. The following was said between RockStarPara and SmileyKid:

RockStarPara looked at the crackers and said, "What did ya bring me?"
Smileykid: Nothin'.
RockStarPara: "Well, that's just rude." Then she grinned really big, totally joking with him.
Smileykid: "You're the rude one, you are the one drinking a pop in front of me."
Then a student sitting at the table, Redheadedkid, turned to me and said, "Quote book."

I love this gig!

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

A Three-Year-Old Girl

Today was a GREAT day.

I awoke today and was talking to God about service tonight. Casually, I told Him that the past two Sunday Night services have been good, but I really wanted to be challenged. I have felt like I've been in Christianity 101, and I wanted something a little deeper. In fact, I had toyed with the idea of going to this morning's services, but I didn't feel led there. Tonight I found out why.

Jaye Thomas led worship, which was fantastic! Jaye is typically on the Night Watch, so I don't get to hear him live very often. I have always enjoyed his music though, and always wind up closer to God when he leads.

After that, Misty came out and preached on Hebrews 10, 11, 12, and 13. It was one amazing sermon, and I wound up challenged, just as I told God I wanted to be this morning. I liked that!

I drove shuttles after the service, and Slim wound up praying for me. It was really cool.

You would think all of that would have been the highlight of my day, but it honestly wasn't.

The highlight of my day actually occurred this afternoon when Jay and I went up to school to get some work done. Mrs. P. arrived again with her little girl. She is three-years-old, and I am still pondering a nickname for her, since I'm still getting to know her. She is precious, and loves Jay! She and Jay had a lot of fun together. I will admit, Jay doesn't always play with her when she wants him to, but they chase each other, so it's cute.

She stated early on that she wanted to go home with me. I told her I had to go drive a bus before church and it just wouldn't be fun for her. I told her that maybe one night we could all take Jay to the dog park. She wasn't thrilled with the answer, but she let it go.

Needless to say, when it was time to leave she came by my room to say good-bye and I told her we could walk out together. Jay took off and headed to the cafeteria in search of food, so we started after him. After finally getting him on the leash, we all started walking out together.

When we got to my car, the sweet gal stopped and said she wanted to go with me. I explained the bus thing again (She wouldn't understand what a shuttle means!) and she just stood there. Mrs. P. said something about no "goodbye" means you can't leave.

I looked at her, and walked over to the car to put Jay and my backpack inside. I sat down on the driver's side seat and got down on her level and told her that I PROMISED I would talk to her Mom about her coming with me a different day. She looked at me with those eyes, and my heart just broke. At that moment, I wished that children under the age of four were allowed on the shuttles. (They're not, it's State Law.)

I told her that her Mom needed her to go with her today, and she would be sad if she didn't go with her. I'm not so sure she bought my story, but she hugged me and ran to her Mom. I watched her run into her Mom's arms, and heard her crying. It melted my heart. The love of a child is a precious thing, and I don't EVER take it for granted. The three-year-old doesn't know it, but that was one special moment for me.

I will talk to her Mom about a different day when she can come over or something. After all, I did promise. *grin*

As I drove away, it made me wonder if I love God that well. I mean, here is this kid who has only met me twice but loves me already. I don't know if I love God that well, but I prayed as I drove off that I would learn to love Him in that way.

Once again, I am reminded that I am loved VERY well....

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Mini-Golf Prayer

Last night I took some of my favorite little people to Paradise Park. For those of you not familiar with Paradise Park here in L.S., it is a family fun center with bumper cars, go karts, a rock climbing wall, a foam factory, and a miniature golf course. The kids and I had a blast as we did almost all the events last night.

At about 10:30, we decided to go to play Miniature Golf in the dark. Okay, well, it wasn't totally dark, there were lights. However, it was more difficult because the lighting wasn't very bright in spots.

So, we were on about hole #8, and I got up to putt and said, "Jesus, help me make this ball go up the hill."

To which one of the little people said, "Hey, that's cheating!"

I grinned, as my hole went up the hill and stayed there.

I simply replied, "Well, you can pray too!"

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

Change of Plans

So, I had a plan for the way my evening was going to unfold. I had it set. I stayed late at work so I wouldn't have any homework and could just dive into Mockingjay. Here's how it was supposed to go:

1. Eat Dinner
2. Walk Jay
3. Read.

I did come home and eat dinner. Then Jay and I went for a walk. After the walk, I sat down to read Mockingjay, the book I've been waiting for since last Spring. I was about 30 minutes into my reading time, and my phone rang. A friend is walking through a rather character-building season, and I wound up talking to her for quite a while tonight. It was a REALLY good chat, and at the end I asked her if I could pray for her, and she said "yes." It was really cool. (In case you don't know, I LOVE to pray for people. It's actually one of my favorite things to do!)

After we hung up, I started thinking about it, and my priorities were really out of sync tonight. I had my own little agenda, and God has his perfect plan for me tonight. I am honored to be able to walk with one of His kids through a tough season in her life. That's not something I take lightly at all.

In the end, I liked His plan better.

Go figure...

*grin*
Life.
Is.
GOOD.

Mockingjay

Today a book came out that I have been looking forward to reading for MONTHS. Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games Trilogy, entered bookstores today. I devoured the other two Hunger Games books in NO time last Spring. I used my Books-A-Million gift card that I got for my Birthday a couple weeks ago and pre-ordered it. The kicker is that it's being shipped to me. That's right, it was shipped today!!!

Two of our sixth grade classrooms are doing the first book of the series as a read-aloud. Today I got to hear part of it in one of the classrooms. *grin* I loved it!!!

So, like a kid waiting for Christmas, I am waiting for my copy of the book.

I just REALLY hope it's a short wait...

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Feelin' A Little More At Home....

Yesterday I had permission to take Jay up to school with me while I worked on school stuff. Jay had been up to school with me before, but it hasn't been very much, so I was excited to see how he would do.

As we were walking up to the building, one of the Kindergarten Teachers was coming out. Jay was loved on by her, and then we headed inside. I took him off the leash and he did well staying with me. We went to my classroom where he plopped down after a little while and slept. Of course, every time I moved, his eyes were open and he was watching me!

He finally got up and came over to me, which I took as a sign that he needed to go outside. We went outside at the back of the building and walked around until he did his business. We went inside and there were people in the building!!! He was SO excited!

Mrs. P. and her two adorable girls were there! Jay was SO HAPPY! I let them play briefly before we headed back to my room. After I got everything done, I decided it was time to go down to the copier and make some copies. Jay wanted to play with the girls! I was going to have Jay stay in Mrs. P's room with the girls, but Jay followed me. In the copy room we had Jay, the girls, and me. I just grinned the whole time. It was so much fun!

See, at my old school, I had a lot of teacher's kids hang out with me after school. Sometimes we'd play games or sometimes they would just come in and talk. It was always a lot of fun! Truth be told, I miss every one of them!!!

Yesterday when the girls came in and played with Jay, I was really excited! It reminded me of my old school in a rather unexpected way. I loved it!

Later, when Jay and I were leaving, Mrs. P. said something about not letting the girls bug me. Little did she know it was actually a high point of my day. As we were walking out, the three-year-old caught me off-guard and hugged me. I grinned and walked away thanking God for the afternoon. For in that short couple of hours, I felt a little more at home here.

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Chapters...

I tell ya what, today was one fun day for me!

I went down to Joplin and helped my friend Karen get moved into her new place. I don't typically help people move just because I don't have a lot of physical balance to do that. I can move my stuff okay because I am in charge of packing boxes that I can carry. Most people can carry a lot more than me, so I usually skip helping people move since everyone else has heavier boxes. Today was different though.

A little over a year ago, Karen helped me move TWICE! Yep, she helped me move once to Joplin and then she helped me get settled in here in July of last year. I honestly don't know how I would have handled the first move if Karen hadn't been there encouraging me, as only Karen can. I probably would have been fine, but Karen nudged me more than once and helped me keep from breaking down and crying. I doubt she knows that, but it's true. She is a very special friend to me. Not just because she helped me move, but well, due to her help last year, I really wanted to be there for her today.

I got there as they arrived at her new place. At first I stood around directing traffic. Then I realized that I could be the one to make more room inside the new place while the rest of the stuff was brought in. So, that's what I did. I had a lot of fun helping, and more than once I smiled and/or hugged Karen to encourage her just as she did with me. It was really cool!

After everything was brought in, Karen and I sat and chatted for a bit. I love just sitting and talking to Karen. She has such wisdom and insight. I also noticed that I was encouraging her more today than ever before, which is one of my FAVORITE things to do! It was cool!

The day ended with dinner at Olive Garden. Olive Garden is where Karen and I ALWAYS go, and we typically enjoy a two-to-three hour meal while we talk about love, life, and everything in between. Tonight was special, as we discussed her new chapter in her life, and how she is finally going to be walking in the destiny that God has for her! Tears were shed, but they were good tears.

I am so excited for Karen. I remember my first night of this Chapter of my life and how it was full of so many emotions. I'm so proud of her for taking steps forward instead of staying stuck where she was at. She's now headed for a new Chapter of Hope and love, just like I found in mine in here L.S.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
GOOD!

The Silver Lining

Today was a really cool day.

First off, my schedule is kinda set up, so I'm feelin' pretty good. Granted, we need to go through next week to see if it works, but at least I have a tentative schedule now. You wouldn't think scheduling would be so hard, but for a Special Educator, it is tough every year. Needless to say, I'm happy about the schedule!

Secondly, my prayers last night regarding an issue were answered this morning before the 8:45 bell rang! I was so happy! The team I'm on is a very hard-working crew, and I was grinning ear-to-ear as everyone worked together. While I'm still praying through the initial disappointment in one person's actions, it's okay. A student is now being taken care of appropriately, and that's all that matters.

Finally, the highlight of my day was after school. My new student missed the bus after school, and as I came in after car-rider duty, I saw him sitting in the office. I walked over and made small-talk at first, and then sat down. I think we sat and chatted for twenty minutes. He's a really, really nice kid. I understand what his former school meant when they said he's a great kid, you just have to give him time to get to know you. I realize I don't really know him, I mean there is still a lot to learn about each other, but it was the longest chat I've had with him so far.

A bus arrived to take him home, and after he left, I was walking back to my room and was thankful he missed the bus. While I'm sure he would have rather been home with his Playstation (one of the tidbits I learned about him), I wouldn't have gotten to know him today if he'd made it to the bus on time. Seems to me that God worked that into my day, as well as his, on purpose!

Cool.

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Disappointment

Tonight I will be honest and say that I'm really disappointed in a situation that has unfolded in front of my eyes. I realize we're in a fallen world, and people aren't perfect. I also realize that God has matured me into the person I am today and I am called to a higher purpose. Therefore, I am held to a higher standard.

Part of me HATES that. I really, really, really want to let a person know what I'm thinking and feeling. However, that will not do any good, and will only produce drama. As I have pondered everything tonight, I also know that I'm called not to be divisive in the situation either. And, my flesh REALLY wants to get in the middle of everything and let EVERYONE know what is up.

I won't though.

I will walk through my day tomorrow, and say very little to the person involved. Then I will take the weekend and take a step back and will most likely see how immature I am being.

That being said, disappointment is hard.

Tonight I have thought about how my job in Joplin was less dramatic, how I miss all those incredibly hard-working people.

I have also thought about camp, and how I don't want to lose the softness in my heart that I gained out at camp. I really allowed my heart to be open in ways it hasn't been since I moved here last year.

So, tomorrow is Friday. Space and time will help.

And God will guide me EVERY step of the way!

Hum...

Life.
Is.
Good...even when you're sad...

Puzzles

Today was a really good day at school. While I still have a schedule to figure out, it was nice to hear little people in the building again. While I will miss the sleeping in and lounging around with Jay, it is time to be back at work!

I shared last night about a new kid that I will service this year on my caseload. I was completely taken in by this person who appears to have a wall built around him that is about a mile high, or even higher. While the day had significantly less drama than I expected out of this person, I did see how high the wall is for me to tackle. This actually excites me, believe it or not.

When I get a new kid like this, I sort of view it like a puzzle. It's sort of like this kid is a puzzle that I need to figure out. The amazing thing is, there aren't two kids that are the same. What works for one kid, may not work for another. And, from what I learned today about the student, there is quite a bit to figure out! I like that!

A lot of people don't like behavior challenges, but I really do. It is easy to see the growth a person makes behaviorally, and to celebrate the successes a person achieves. Last year I had success with a child who had behavior challenges and he ended the year on a positive note. That is my prayer for this new person as well.

By the way, I wore my puzzle ring today. I will continue to wear it in the days to come, because each time I look at it, I will say a silent prayer for my new student. And, with God, we will be exactly what the person needs for this season of life. Eventually, all the pieces will come together!

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good!

I Knew It! *grin*

I sit here tonight, on the eve of the new school year, and am pondering how God trusts me with His kids. That's not something I take lightly. I am trusted to teach, parent, encourage, discipline, and love unconditionally. I think that's amazing. I know that He chooses EVERY child that is in my path. Therefore, I am excited about this new school year!

Tomorrow I am getting a new student who is going to require a lot of my time. It was sort of up in the air as to whether or not this person was going to attend my school, but I awoke this morning and knew before I even checked email that God chose me (And the AWESOME staff I am on!) to take care of the student. I heard that still small voice tell me that he was on my caseload, and felt peace as I heard it. I love how He does that!

I am excited to meet this new person, and even more excited about seeing all my students from last year. One of the bonuses of teaching Special Education is that I get to loop with them! I am SO excited!

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Ronni!!!

I have been pondering Ronni tonight. I went to Wal-Mart tonight and picked up my camp pics. While most of the pics I printed were from Term 8, I have a few from Term 7 that make me grin ear-to-ear.

It's weird, one day at camp can feel like a week in some ways, and then again it all goes by so fast that you wonder what all you did! I realize that doesn't make sense to those of you outside the Barnabas Camp, but those who have served or attended the camp understand what I'm saying.

Days with Ronni could feel long or short, all within the same day. Ronni could be sweet and loveable, or climbing a wall not worried at all about her safety while my heart pounded in my chest! There were moments that make me miss her so much that I can't wait until next Summer, and there were also moments that make me consider a training program so I can be in top physical shape to take on camp next year with her!

The thing that I have been pondering tonight is how big her smile is in all the pictures. Ronni is a constant reminder of JOY! I have one picture where she is up on stage singing her heart out as if her Mommy and Daddy were in the audience. (The song was about Mommy and Daddy!) She is a very happy child!

There was one night at Wrap-Up where we were all dancing up front! It was classic! Of course, I was dancing in-between Sarah and Ronni to keep them from hitting each other, but it was still one of my favorite moments out at camp!

Today I had a moment that caught me off-guard at work, and I had to stop and pray.

I think I'll put one of the pictures of Ronni and her HUGE smile on my desk. That will be a great reminder to remain happy in the midst of character-building moments!

Ah....I miss Ronni! I am praying now that I will be in her cabin this coming Summer! I love that kid! *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good!

Shoppin' with Barnabas Friends!

I skipped blogging last night, as I was wiped and just wanted to crash. So, today I wanted to post about my shopping experience with the girls.

I am not typically a "go to the mall and shop" girl. I am a gal that likes to go to a store, find what I need, and leave. However, I will do the mall thing if I have friends to go with and hang out. That's what I did yesterday.

Kortney, who was one of our campers, wanted to go to Oak Park Mall. So, I went and picked up Kortney (Her grandmother lives in the same neighborhood I do!) and we headed to Oak Park. After various Detours and Traffic Jams, we made it! At the mall we met Lauren and Carmen! It was SO MUCH FUN to be with my Camp Friends again!

We had a lot of fun going through several stores and watching Kortney shop! I also enjoyed using my sign language skills from time to time to communicate with Kortney. She is such a sweet young lady, and she makes me smile all the time!

Perhaps the thing that I didn't expect to learn about was shopping in a wheelchair. Carmen is wheelchair-bound, so I had never really thought about steps versus ramps at a mall! I mean, why would I? I can walk on both steps and ramps, so it has never really mattered to me! For Carmen though, it is an obvious thing that she has to think about. And, once we started walking around the mall, I was a little perplexed. The ramps and steps on the upper level of the mall alternate between the two sides of the mall. Meaning, on one side there are steps, then a ramp a little while later, and then steps, and then a ramp. It's weird. I agreed with Carmen's comment that they should have made one side steps and one side ramps. I mean, she could make it all the way down the hall, it was just more of an obstacle course than I thought it should be. Of course, we laughed about it, saying we got the scenic tour of the mall, but it still left me scratching my head.

The other thing that amazed me about Carmen was that she can text on her cell phone. Let me remind you, God didn't give her arms or hands! So, she used a pointer thingy in her mouth to text! It blew me away! Of course, to Carmen it's not a big deal, it's just what she does. I just sat there thinking that Carmen is probably the most amazing person that I know.

I was also left with one other thought. I have ALWAYS taken my arms and hands for granted. After shopping, we ate dinner at the Food Court. I got pizza (shocker!) and Kortney and Carmen got Sonic. The girls came back over with their food, and I opened up Carmen's Sandwich. Then I thought, "Crud, I didn't ask her if it's okay to help her." So, I asked and she grinned and said it was fine. I felt so honored to get to help her! I had never thought much about getting food and eating it with my hands. For Carmen, she has to have someone help her to eat. I LOVED helping her! She went on to share with me that she has had friends in the past who really struggled with that, and refused to help her. She also said that not-so-kind things were said to her as she explained that she needed help with food. That absolutely broke my heart! Meanwhile, I thought it was neat to get to help her! That was cool!

Our next outing is going to be eating at Zio's and seeing a movie! I can't wait. Of course, we haven't chosen a date yet, what with school starting and all, but I'm sure it will be as soon as possible!

After I dropped Kortney off at home yesterday, I was left thinking what amazing friends God has blessed me with! I am one blessed gal!

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

An Unexpected Surprise

So tonight I am going to break from my camp stories to share my unexpected surprise for today. (Friday) Today we had staff meeting all day. In the midst of our first activity, my principal was called out of the room. We continued with the activity, and she returned in a few minutes. She didn't appear rattled and just kept going, which is one of the things I like about her!

As the morning went on, I saw her taking various people aside and talking to them. I honestly had no idea what was being said and figured that it had nothing to do with me. I figured if it had to do with me, she would let me know.

About 3:30 this afternoon while someone else was presenting at the meeting, she pulled me out of the meeting and into a classroom privately. I'll be honest, I had no idea what she needed and was a little nervous.

She informed me that our building is hiring another first grade teacher and I needed to move my classroom down to the Science Lab. She said the Science Lab had been cleaned out today so that I could move my stuff this afternoon. She also said that she was going to ask everyone to chip in and help me move.

I paused for a moment, and then realized that God had actually answered my prayer from last night.

See, last night was Meet Your Teacher (M.Y.T.) Night, and it hit me that I am teaching kids on the opposite end of the building from where I was located. And, with a student on my caseload that has CP and struggles with walking a little bit more than me, in a classroom as far as he could possibly get from mine, my heart sank. So I prayed that God would move me soon so that my little people wouldn't have to walk as far! How cool is that?

I have no idea what response my principal expected to get from me, but I just grinned and told her this was actually a good thing. I didn't tell her I had prayed for it, but I silently thanked God for the switch.

Sure enough, after our meeting EVERYONE jumped in and helped. My posters are up and my bulletin boards are up on the wall too! Sure, I have some cleaning up to do, but I am excited. This will be a really good thing. The guys even moved my file cabinets for me! Yep, I am part of one GREAT staff!

My principal came by later to check on me, and I thought that was cool too. I really feel blessed to be a part of SVE!

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Inter-digit-ate

Macy and Rachael were the Cabin Staff that was in our cabin, and they were AMAZING leaders. They were the closest co-team that I have ever met. While the staff I have had in past years have been good, these two were amazing! Not only were they co-leaders, but they are best friends, which makes for a really fun cabin! They were always laughing and enjoying their jobs, even in the midst of tough moments. They worked hard to put the JOY principle (Jesus, Others, Yourself) in action! There wasn't one moment when I felt they weren't giving their absolute best effort.

Yes they were human and made mistakes, which is what made me like them even more. If they tried something and it didn't work, they tried something else. They were also open to suggestions, which was amazing too. They knew they didn't always have the answers, and worked hard to make it work for everyone involved. I LOVED THAT!

Term 7 was tough, and they balanced each other out VERY well. Term 8 was fun because I got to see them with an easier group of girls, and see them relax and have fun. I will never forget Macy yelling in the Barn-A-Bus, "We're going on a Creek Float!"

One of the things that they taught me that impacted me the most is the term INTER-DIGIT-ATE. While I'm not so sure it's a real word, it's a real word to me. Interdigitate refers to when you hold hands with someone else and you lace your fingers together. The fingers represent strength and the spaces in between our fingers represent our weaknesses. If you and I were to lace our fingers together, your strengths would make up for my weaknesses, and my strengths would make up for your weaknesses. So, together, we are whole!

I thought that was an INCREDIBLE analogy. It is something that will always stick with me. Each night at cabin meeting we would pray with our fingers laced together, realizing that we could not do our jobs at camp on our own. I think that applies out here in the "real" world too. Someday I hope to have a spouse to interdigitate fingers with! For now, God is my partner, holding my hand, completing me right where my weaknesses exist.

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

EXCURSION!!!

While out at camp, I got to experience "Excursion" for the first time. Typically I am not with a cabin who can do excursion because you have to be old enough and mature enough to do it. Hence, Term 7 isn't quite the time for my typical Cabin to participate.

I had always heard about Excursion, as other people I know have done it, and I had heard both good and bad things about it. And, I will be honest, when I heard that we got it, my stomach turned.

Excursion is where you leave the comforts of camp (Activities in the A/C, toilets, sleeping indoors, etc) and go into an area in the woods on camp property and actually experience what real camping is like. Now for some of you, that's right up your alley, but for me, it's not! I'm more of an indoor kind of girl.

I will admit, out at camp I am outdoors more just because of activities and such, but the main difference between Excursion and camp is that you're outside the whole time. I mean, food is cooked over a fire, and you gotta squat to pee!

I was dreading it mainly because of the heat. It was hot and muggy and the idea of sweating ALL day and evening bummed me out. (I'm such a girl!) However, I will admit, it was better than I expected it to be.

First off, it started raining the morning we were supposed to leave for the campsite. (The campsite was about 5 minutes from the main camp area.) I was happy about that for two reasons. First of all, it delayed our time outside in the heat. We wound up staying in the Silver Lining until the storm just about ended. Secondly. it cooled down the temperature out at the campsite. While I still sweated quite a bit, it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected! That was COOL!

The tough part (and the reason I gave it a "B" on FB) was because of the walk out to the campsite. Everywhere else out at camp there are paved pathways to walk on. However, on the walk to the campsite it is not paved, and was INCREDIBLY hard to walk on. I found myself having the think ahead on EVERY step to get out there. That honestly wore me out! I had never really thought about how much I think about my walking until that day. After that, I noticed that I think about it a lot, just because God didn't give me the best balance skills. So, in a case like the campsite, I was looking down (something I don't usually do) and concentrating on EVERY step. It wore me out!

We wound up doing dinner out at the site, and coming back into camp because the dance was that night. We also stayed for Wrap-Up (Which was my favorite part of the day because Justin played his guitar!). After Wrap-Up, the girls went back out to the campsite. I opted out. I could have gone back out for the evening snack and to sleep outside, but I was so wiped that I wanted A/C and quiet time to get rest. Everyone was fine with it, and in fact they stated that Cabin Moms and Dads don't typically sleep out at Excursion. Hum...I hope whoever I marry is okay with me preferring to sleep in A/C. (Ha!)

I learned a lot through the Excursion Experience. First off, my walking made me think about my walk with the Lord. I was working harder at my walking skills on that trail than I have been in the past few months with the Lord. That REALLY challenged me to start putting God FIRST again, and how HE should be guiding my every step.

I also learned that not everyone enjoys Excursion. Several of the teens didn't want to sleep out there, while is understandable. They were told they were sleeping in Air Conditioned Cabins, so they weren't in the mindset of roughing it! I also think that God didn't wire all of us to enjoy that. Devin, our AMAZING Excursion Leader, LOVED doing Excursion. Being outside is her thing. That rocks! I'm just not wired that way.

Finally, I learned that even though I didn't like walking out there, I could do it. I also learned that with the Lord, I can truly do anything!

I went back out the next morning to join the group for Breakfast. On my walk out there, I told God that I couldn't help Torrey back to camp because it was SO HARD for me to walk on the trail, I didn't want to be responsible for Torrey. And of course, that's what I was asked to do on the way back! Lauren turned to me and said, "If you'll walk with Torrey, I'll carry the stuff." In my head, I was telling the Lord we really should have talked more about that, but instead I knew that I was supposed to walk with Torrey. I prayed in my head the whole way back, and we did just fine. As we walked up to the cabin, I heard that still, small voice, say, "See, I know you could do it. You just didn't know it!" *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

Creek Float!!!

On Day #3 last week, my cabin had the privilege of going on a Creek Float!

"Hey G1, what did we do on Day #3? We went on a creek float!" *grin*

I had never experienced a creek float out at camp, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that I needed to be in denial of what was in the creek water, but other than that, I had no idea what would happen!

We each had our own tube to ride on down the creek. At first it was easy, and relaxing. Pretty soon after we started, we found out that the creek water wasn't very deep throughout our ride! That's right, our butts hit rocks from the very beginning! We learned very quickly how to move our butts in order to make it through the rough parts. It was exciting, that's for sure!

I started out doing my own thing, and noticed that Torrey was stuck. So, I moved over to help Torrey. Since my balance is off, there were others that got out to help, while I stayed in my tube and helped. Once we got Torrey going again, I just held on to her tube. I felt like I was supposed to help her.

So, we continued down the creek, my arm on her tube, keeping her close-by and signing as much as I could to warn her of upcoming trouble. Occasionally she would hold my hand, and other times she would squeeze onto me because she was scared. It was priceless to me.

I found myself changing throughout the ride. Initially, I just thought, "Oh, I'll help Torrey get out of the place where she's stuck." Then I discovered that she needed me throughout the ride. I would purposely turn us during the ride so that I would hit tree limbs or rocks or whatever was in our way. I was willing to do anything to keep Torrey safe. Since I have never had a child of my own, I had never experienced that feeling to that extent before. There were moments on the ride where I was literally praying out loud for safety. In those moments, Torrey would be squeezing my arm in fear. It was quite a ride! In the end, we were both safe without any major cuts or bruises!

That ride taught me a lot about love. I was willing to do ANYTHING to keep Torrey safe. It made me think about the Lord and how He loves us so much more than that. I find that amazing because when Torrey and I were on that float ride, I felt love toward another human like I had never felt before. It was intense, amazing, and special. Kinda like the Lord too! *grin*

Two days later I heard there were various spiders in the creek right where we had been. Hum...I'm glad we went when we did.

The Creek Float was something I will never forget. For in that ride, I learned more about love than ever before....

Cool.

Life.
Is.
Good.

What's In a Name...

This year was the first year I was able to serve during Term 8 out at Camp Barnabas, which is the Blind and Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing week. I have always wanted to be there for that week, but my work schedule never allowed it. This year, it worked out! *grin*

When I found out I was in a deaf cabin, and was excited and nervous all at the same time. During our training, they talked about Sign-Names. (I knew about sign-names from college.) In the deaf culture, names are spelled out letter-by-letter since they simply can't say the word "Shannon." Therefore, they come up with signs for names to make it easier to communicate. It is a special thing, and something that only those in the deaf community can create. In other words, hearing people can't give out a sign-name to hearing people. Sign-names are only given out by those in the deaf community, and it is a VERY special thing. In fact, one of our CIA's is in an Interpreter Training Program, and her teachers in the deaf community wouldn't give her a name. They wanted her to have it from someone else in the deaf community. It's that important.

In our training, all of us "hearing" folks were praying that we would get a sign-name at some point during the week. It was amazing how many of us didn't have a sign-name. Of course, our interpreters had sign-names, so it was cool to see what they can come up with for names!

On Monday Night, Torrey noticed my name tag I was wearing for the first time during the Term, (We were out in our cabin so I had gone all day without one and got mine during dinner!) and turned to her CIA and told her what she wanted my sign-name to be. I was SO EXCITED! I looked from the CIA to Torrey, who was grinning ear-to-ear! I kinda went nuts once we were outside, dancing around and thanking Torrey for the name. She was grinning, I was grinning, it was AWESOME!!!

I shared the news with members of the cabin throughout the night, and everyone was excited! Even Laura was pumped later when I told her. *grin*

Throughout the week, everyone got a sign-name from the campers. Everyone was excited!!!

Of course, for me, it was REALLY special because Torrey gave it to me. It was definitely a moment I will never forget!!!

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Camp Randomness

Throughout the week at Camp, random stuff would happen that would often have me grinning ear-to-ear. I wanted to take some time tonight and share some of those moments with you.

Meal times at camp are fun. We eat in a dining hall where everyone eats at the same time. In the dining hall is a small stage where announcements are made during meals. During meals this Summer, campers would go up on stage and often sing or play an instrument while we ate. Typically, the campers had to eat first before they went up on stage, so we did get to eat for a while without entertainment before the events began.

My favorite thing that would happen during meals was when we would be eating a meal, and this little kid (I never did learn his name!) would get up and sing the Star Spangled Banner. Yep, you guessed it, we would all stop eating, stand up, turn around to the flag, and sing with him. After the song, the guys would start chanting "U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.!" It was hilarious and cool all at the same time.

We also had another gentleman who would sing "Victory is Mine" and play keys along with his singing. He was really good. We would clap our hands to the music and sing with him. It was great! He sat at the table behind me daily when he ate his meals, and I would occasionally hear him saying that the songs on stage weren't any good, and he could do better! I just grinned. The thing was, it was true!

Of course, the usual Birthday Rap was a hit as well. You would have to be there to understand it, but it makes meal times fun.

Another completely random thing that we would do while waiting outside the doors for the dining hall to open is we would say the Pledge of Allegiance. There is a flag down by the tennis courts that we would turn toward and say the Pledge. This was a new experience for me this year, as Term 7 is too crazy for stuff like this to happen! It was cool!

Wrap-Up is our evening worship service before the campers head to bed, and it was really cool this year. We sang the song "Trading my Sorrows" and yelled during the "Yes Lord!" part. I have done that song A LOT of times, but this year it was really cool. During Term 7 the kids would jump during the "Yes Lord" part. It was really cool. Wrap-Up was special to me this year during Term 8 because they had an interpreter during the songs and I learned how to sign a lot of the Camp Barnabas Theme Song. I didn't learn all of it like I had hoped, but I got the chorus down pretty well, which meant a lot to me.

One night Justin (Same Justin from last night's post) got up and played guitar at the end of Wrap-Up. It blessed me immensely. I sat there fighting tears as he played. It was a good thing. A really good thing. It blessed me.

CIA arrival day we had some early campers arrive for camp. I was walking down the hill by the dining hall, and I looked over and Cameron Black (Who is blind.) was leading another blind person to his cabin. The CIA that was with them gave me a look that said "Can you believe that we're literally seeing the blind leading the blind?!" It was awesome!

During my cabin's "Cafe" activity, the girls were making pretzels. By the end of the activity, everyone had shared the flour with everyone else and their faces were covered with flour. Following cafe, we had pool time, and you can imagine the looks the girls got. However, it's camp, so people just grinned.

Of course, as I shared last night, our cabin ate with our feet one day at lunch. Carmen eats with her feet, so one meal my entire cabin sat on the floor and used their feet to eat their food. Of course, some chose not to do it, but it was a lunch I will never forget. It was a lot of fun.

We have some dogs out at camp, and it amazed me how much they put up with from our campers. It was funny to watch the kids with the dogs.

Cameron Black, as I said earlier, is blind. He skates on a skateboard, and he did a demonstration for us. It was really cool. Yes, he's blind and skates. Amazing. I missed most of his demonstration but I saw the end of it, and was amazed.

As I said last night, we learned how to write with our mouths one day in the Silver Lining. It was GREAT! Of course, I stink at it, but the idea of a lesson in writing with my mouth? Random, indeed!

There are others I could share but it is late and I want to go to sleep!

Camp is so much fun! And the Randomness is what makes camp, camp! *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

Perfect "Imperfect" People (Barnabas, Term 8, 2010)

This week I had the privilege of meeting some of the most incredible people I have ever met in my 37 years on this planet. While Camp Barnabas is always a special experience for me, this week proved to be one that was extra-ordinary. At the beginning of the week I thought I was just going to serve Deaf and/or Blind people, and I was SO wrong. God had so much more in store for me, and for the 500+ people who attended this week's Term. Let me share a few highlights with you...

Upon arrival, I was told I was going to be in a Cabin Mom in Cabin G2. I was slightly bummed, as it would mean I wouldn't get to be with the staff that I had Term 7, but I knew that God had something for me there too. During our Training Rotation, I found out I was in G1 again, and what was on my form wasn't correct. I was SO EXCITED. I was also REALLY nervous because the Volunteer Coordinator said that I was in G1 because it was an American Sign Language (A.S.L.) Cabin. While I had practiced this Summer, I hadn't practiced as much as I felt I needed to be prepared for a Deaf Cabin. However, I knew that God wanted me there, so I knew it would be okay.

At our Cabin Meeting that night, I found out that we had the Senior Deaf Cabin. I will openly admit that I was a little saddened by that because I wanted to be with the little people. Of course, now I'm thrilled that it worked out the way it did!!! We had young ladies in their late teens and early twenties. Only one of them was completely deaf, the rest had implants or could voice well so signing wasn't ALWAYS needed.

Each person in our cabin brought something unique to the group, and I was constantly in awe of how unique each one of us was created. From campers, to Christians in Action (CIA's), to staffers, this week was incredibly memorable. What was even more amazing was that I got to know campers from other cabins too! Due to the fact it was deaf and blind week, I wasn't chasing kids all over the place like the Autism Term last week, so I really got to know more people than I ever have at Barnabas. It was amazing.

Tonight I want to write a little bit on each person. I might forget someone because I'm incredibly tired tonight, but the good news is that I can add more tomorrow! *grin*

Carmen was a CIA in my cabin that constantly amazed me. CIA's come to camp to help serve others. She wasn't a "camper", she was a volunteer (like me!), which was REALLY cool! I can't recall the disease she was born with, but she doesn't have arms at all. She has two legs with a total of four toes. Carmen is wheelchair-bound, but is incredibly self-sufficient. She steers her wheelchair with her foot and has a cup with a straw in it so she can bend over and drink at any time! One day during our time at the Silver Lining, she taught us how to write with our mouths! That's right, she writes with her mouth! It is amazing, as her writing looks more legible than mine does! She also eats at home with her feet! So, yesterday for lunch, our cabin sat on the floor and ate with our feet! While some of the girls were better than others, it proved to be an incredible experience for everyone. Of course, Carmen did it the best out of all of us! Cyndy Teas, one of the co-founders of Barnabas, came over to eat with her feet as well as several others on staff. It was a lunch I will never forget! The REALLY cool thing is that Carmen is moving to the neighborhood where my parents live! I think I have my new movie buddy! *grin* Carmen amazed me time and time again. It was wonderful!

Kortney was one of our campers that always made me smile. I MEAN ALWAYS made me smile. Kortney carries the joy of the Lord with her everywhere she goes. She could lip-read, talk, and sign, so it was always fun to communicate with Kortney. She had a sign-name already when she came to camp (I will write more about Sign-Names later) but she was given a new name when she was in our cabin. We called her Crazy Kortney in Sign Language. While she is far from crazy in reality, she always had something funny to say or do and I was constantly smiling when she would talk or sign. I was also amazed at how well she can pray. She touched my heart more than she will ever know.

Berenice was a sweet young woman who could read lips, sign, and had a hearing aide. I found Berenice to be an incredible young lady. In our devotional times, she was always willing to participate and share her heart. She was also sweet to everyone in the cabin. I sat down to talk to her at one point and was honest that I was re-learning sign in a way, and she was so patient with me. If I get in for Term 8 again, I hope she's in my Cabin. Perhaps next year I'll know more sign and be able to communicate more with her.

Hayle was a camper that had an implant, could sign, and read lips. Hayle always had a smile on her face and really has a heart for others. She got up at one of our meals and signed "I Can Only Imagine." It was beautiful. She wants to be a CIA next year. I hope she gets to do that. I think she would make a FANTASTIC CIA!

Becky was a camper who intrigued me. She struggled with being homesick quite a bit and the first part of the week she struggled. I prayed a lot for Becky because I kept sensing the young child inside her wanting to fit in, but it was tough for her. She pushed her CIA away, and that broke my heart. However, as the week progressed, Becky did better. I was thankful I got to see what God did in her this week. She went from not wanting to do activities, to actively walking to them and participating in them. While my heart still leapt for her CIA, I was glad Becky let God in to change her. That made it all worth it.

Lauren was an AWESOME CIA. She was paired up with our only completely deaf camper and she did an AMAZING job. She is a student at a nearby college, studying to work with the deaf population, and she helped our entire cabin immensely. I worked pretty closely with Lauren throughout the week and I was amazed by how mature she is at the age of 21. I hope she returns to Barnabas next year, as I don't know that Term 8 would be the same without her. I am also looking into taking some more signing classes at the college she attends. Who knows, maybe I'll see her sooner than Term 8 next year! *grin* She was AMAZING!

Colleen was a CIA that had such a tender heart. She was really good with ALL the campers. Colleen was always willing to help out, and never complained. On the Creek Float (there will be separate post about the activities because it would be too much to post tonight) she was my hero in helping me and Torrey. She was worn out by the end of the creek float, and cried at the end, but it was precious. I KNOW that God was singing over her all week! She impacted me more than she will ever know.

Megan was a CIA and her assigned camper did not show up. Initially she was bummed not to have a camper, but as the week progressed she learned that God had a reason for that. Megan is an amazing woman of God and it was cool to see her connect with everyone as the week went by. She was more supportive than she will ever know.

Stephanie reminded me of another CIA we had Term 7. Stephanie served as a CIA and did an amazing job with ALL the campers. I can still hear her laugh. She was a joyous young lady who knows how to sign very well. Of course, it helps that her Mom is an interpreter! (It's almost like she cheated! Just kidding!) I really liked her a lot.

Emily was another CIA and I didn't get to know her as much as I wanted to this week. She was always nice to everyone and had a smile on her face. I was glad she was in G1 this week.

Emma was a CIA that I prayed for quite a bit. She had a tough week and I found myself praying a lot for her. She seemed really sweet, but I know this week wasn't necessarily her idea of fun. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hope she comes back next year and experiences LOVE from her camper. She was a sweet girl who just had the hardest camper in our cabin. That's a tough spot to be in. I will say that I think she did the best she could, and I believe that God was pleased by that.

Sherry served as our interpreter, and I REALLY liked her. It was fun to have another "adult" in the cabin to talk to, but it was even more exciting to learn from her. She taught me a lot of signs, as well as about the deaf community. She's the only person I know with a Bachelor's Degree in Sign Language. She left camp early, but I was blessed by her continually. I hope to see her again. She blessed me more than she will ever know...

Erin served as the Special Diets cook and she took INCREDIBLY good care of me! Since I have a special diet, she always made sure I had food and really poured into me spiritually. During one of our parties, we just sat and talked. At the pool party I was injured and she pulled me aside and prayed for me. That blessed me more than she will every know! I really enjoyed the time I spent with her. I am blessed to be able to call her a friend.

Tilor served as a Wrangler, but she was part of our cabin too. (A Wrangler works with the horses out at camp.) One night I was injured during the pool party and she was SUPER nice to me. She was helpful to everyone in the cabin all week, and while she was the silent assistant in many ways, she really blessed my heart.

Justin was a camper who is amazing. Justin wasn't in my cabin, but I got to know him briefly before the dance the other night. Justin was born with a disease that I can't recall the name of, that forms tumors on his face and head. He is blind and has a hearing aide. I will be honest, when I first saw Justin, my stomach turned. At first glance, he is tough to look at. When my stomach turned, I literally stopped and prayed. I don't want to be like the world who judges people by what is on the outside of a person. So, when my stomach turned I was not happy! Right then, I stopped and prayed. Instantly, I felt better. I told God I wanted to be his friend. So, before the dance I went up to him and introduced myself. He is such an amazing guy! God taught me so much in that short conversation I had with Justin. I hope to meet him again and talk to him. He was really nice. God taught me more than I could every type out on here about inner and outer beauty by that 14 year old. Today before I left, I literally bumped into him because I wasn't looking where I was going, and I had a thought. He is perfect. The world may not think so, but to me he is perfect. One of my favorite moments this week was when he got up at the end of wrap-up and played his guitar. He is just a kid with a really challenging physical body. I liked him, and hope to go back again next year Term 8 so I can talk to him more.

Megan was a blind camper that I met on CIA Arrival day. Megan is completely blind, but that doesn't stop her! When I met her, it made me wish I was in her cabin because I liked her A LOT! I saw her throughout the week and we always said hi to each other. She amazed me.

God taught me the most through a little girl named Torrey. Torrey was in my cabin and from the very beginning, we "clicked". Torrey was born with Cerebral Palsy and walks sort of like me. Torrey requires a little bit of assistance when she walks, but can walk independently if she wants to, or if she is in the cabin on a flat surface. Torrey is completely deaf. The moment I walked in the cabin, she asked me my name (Which I understood on my own! Yea!) and we continued to sign for about an hour. Lauren was her CIA, so if I got stuck on the signing, she was always willing to help me understand what she was saying. Torrey was INCREDIBLY patient with me if I got stuck signing. She also taught me A LOT of signs this week, so by the end of the week we were communicating pretty well. Torrey doesn't talk at all except to say "Bahbahbah" if you're not looking at her and she wants your attention. I learned a lot this week about how little I think when I talk out loud. I just open my mouth and the words come. For Torrey, she signs EVERYTHING. Of course, for her it's easy and she REALLY enjoyed it when she was around other people who signed fluently. I didn't blame her at all. LIving in a hearing world, I can see where it would be more fun to be with those who sign fluently.

The amazing thing about Torrey was that most of the time we didn't communicate a lot. We just sort of understood what the other person was trying to say without saying a word. I learned this week to be okay with just sitting with someone. And honestly, it was nice. Sometimes she would take my hand, or just look at me and grin, or we would just watch what was going on around us. I was blessed by that. I remember at one point thinking that being able to sit with someone and be quiet and still enjoy their company is an incredibly rare thing for me in a hearing world. I liked it a lot once I got used to it. Initially it was hard and I worked to fill the silence. By the time we reached Say-So last night, I understood how blessed silence can be. I considered that to be a HUGE gift from the Lord.

There will probably be more posts about Torrey to come because God taught me SO MUCH through her. I sit here tonight and miss her already.

So I could go on and on about the incredible campers out at Barnabas. (And in days to come, you will get a glimpse of Camp as I share the completely random things that happen!) For tonight I will end with this thought:

The world considers the Carmen's, Justin's, deaf, blind, CP, whatever it may be, as less-than-perfect. I can honestly say that after this week I think the people that are "imperfect" to the world, are actually perfect! They are just as God created them to be...and they are perfect in the skin they're in!

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.