From Start To Finish....

...this weekend was FANTASTIC! I have contemplated doing this post in several small ones, but I honestly have decided to do it all in one so I can go to bed early tonight and get to work early in the morning. I don't really want to be back in the real world, but hey, here I am. *grin*

I headed out Friday Morning for camp after dropping Jay at the KU/MU family's house. They have a dog, so I pretty much dropped him off, said "have fun" and left. *grin* Jay doesn't like to be around other dogs, so I figured they could get the dogs acclimated on their own.

I made it down to camp, and was excited when I arrived. I was expecting it to be a low-key kind of weekend, as most Barn-A-Breaks seem to be pretty laid-back. We always have fewer campers during Barn-A-Breaks, and it's typically more intimate and less busy.

Imagine my surprise when I got there and found out I was with my cabin staff from this Summer! We made such a GREAT team this Summer that I was REALLY excited when I found out I was going to serve with them again!!! All they told me at that point was that we had 4 campers this weekend in our cabin. That made me happy. I didn't think much about it when they said that because we always have fewer campers than we do in the Summer at Barn-A-Breaks.

Things shifted for me when Cyndi Teas got up to speak during Orientation. She gave an AWESOME analogy about the campers that were coming this weekend. She said that most of the kids coming had Autism and Down's and that these children were crafted by God with a special, unique recipe made just for them. They each have gifts and talents mixed in with the challenges they face each day. It's like God used a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and made the amazing little people that we had this weekend. I have to say that her analogy fit PERFECTLY with our campers in our cabin.

As Cyndi continued, she called out B-6 (My cabin for the weekend, on Barn-A-Breaks we use the boys side of camp for everyone since it's less walking and fewer people. Don't worry though, girls in girls cabins, boys in boys cabins. *grin*) and one of the guys by me said "Martha Grace". I paused. Then it hit me, we had four campers because we had the TOUGHEST cabin this weekend. I paused and prayed because I wasn't really prayed up for a tough weekend. I had expected it to be like the other Barn-A-Breaks I had attended that were easy. Then the Lord spoke to me and told me that this was actually what I had always wanted.

I had always wanted to be in Martha Grace's world for a little while Everyone out at camp knows Martha Grace. Pictures and stories do not even begin to describe how AMAZING Martha Grace is, and what a precious daughter that God created when He made her. God taught me SO MUCH this weekend through this young lady who spoke very few words, but could show love in amazing ways. All in all, the weekend was a lot of fun. It was a lot of work, but I will say I loved EVERY moment of it.

I learned a lot this weekend about what I take for granted. The girls in my cabin this weekend cannot do daily living skills like most of us. I mean, we typically get up, get ready for work and/or school, and go. For the girls this weekend, getting ready for bed or waking up and preparing for the day, or taking a shower, or using the facilities, takes effort. And while I don't consider these young ladies as "less" than me (They're NOT!), it did make me realize how much I take for granted. I walked away this weekend realizing that God made us all exactly how He wanted us to be. And for the four AMAZING campers we had this weekend, life is just different for them. EVERY single time Martha Grace took my hand to walk, even if it was for just 15 seconds, I grinned ear-to-ear. Yesterday I drove away from camp thanking God for letting me in her world (as well as the others) for this weekend. I am different because of them. I will write about the other girls this week, as they all touched my heart in their own unique way.

After leaving camp, I met the Kellogg's in Joplin for lunch. I LOVE every moment with that family. We laughed and talked, and I got to hold Christian, the youngest. I LOVED it!

After that I went and saw Karen at work and then shopped for some new shoes and tops. (Found some good stuff on sale!) After shopping, I read a book while I waited for Ronni's Mom to call. Honestly, I was so excited about seeing Ronni that I could barely sit still. She called and then I headed out for the next part of my adventure. *grin*

When I arrived, Ronni came out in her pretty dress to greet me. I could hardly believe that standing in front of me was my FAVORITE camper of all-time. We went inside and watched some disney you-tube videos in a foreign language. Ronni really knows how to use a computer! After a little while, I took out my camera, and we had a GREAT time taking pictures of us. I showed Ronni the video feature on my camera and she proceeded to sing and dance as I recorded it. It was SO MUCH FUN! I think we did that for about an hour, but to be honest we were having so much fun that I lost track of time. *grin*

Eventually we went upstairs to eat dinner. I had a WONDERFUL time getting to know the rest of her family as we ate. They are a WONDERFUL family that blessed me immensely throughout the evening. Ronni's Mom made FANTASTIC homemade pizza, and after a while Ronni brought me a vanilla ice cream cone as well. It was fun. In the end, the family invited me back anytime, and said I was part of the family. *grin* I can't wait until the next Barn-A-Break so I can stop by and see her again!

After seeing Ron-Braun, I headed back to Joplin to see Karen. If you've been a reader of the blog for any amount of time, you know that Karen is tied with Laura at the top of my favorite people list!!! WHENEVER I spend time with Karen, I walk away closer to God than I was when I arrived. That was definitely true this trip as well. We had a lot of good conversation that encouraged me AND challenged me in my walk with the Lord. I LOVE THAT!!! God has really blessed me with my friendship with Karen. She is one AMAZING gal.

This morning I went and spoke to the students at MSSU. I spoke to a class of future teachers, and really enjoyed it. I feel blessed that they invited me back to speak, even though I now live in the KC area. It just seemed really special today, in a way that can't really be articulated in words. *grin*

All in all, this weekend was AMAZING. From start to finish it has been great.

I went to pick up Jay at the KU/MU house, and he went NUTS. I was just as excited to see him, as he was to see me!

It is great to be home, with the furry kid beside me, asleep.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.