Jay Talks in His Own Way *grin*

You may find it a tad ridiculous, but Jay sleeps on top of my bed comforter every night. He also chooses to sleep with a KU blanket on top of him. I guess he is cold at night, as I turn the thermostat down slightly every night. Or perhaps he wants to be like me, covered with quilts. *grin* He also does this in the morning while I'm getting ready for school. He's my constant source of entertainment!

It also amazes me how he can communicate with me, even though he can't talk.

Last night I was asleep, and I heard him scratching on the comforter. This is a common sound I hear, as he's typically moving the quilt back over him after sleeping for a period of time on top of it. Last night, it didn't stop though, and I remember waking up just to see what the problem was, and if he was okay. Sure enough, I sat up and noticed that he had knocked his quilt OFF the bed. Poor kid, he was trying to wake me so I would put the quilt back on the bed. I grabbed the quilt, saw his little tail start wagging, covered him, and went back to sleep.

He was a happy little guy and I was happy to go back to sleep. *grin*

It made me stop and think (today) about how much he communicates with me. From letting me know he needs to go outside, to telling me he wants a treat (I'm manipulated by the puppy face once each night!), to just wanting to cuddle, the kid talks a lot for not being able to say a word.

I think that's cool. My best friend is non-verbal, yet I know EXACTLY what he's trying to say, all the time.






a touching email.

I just received this email, and I wanted to share it. The context really is in the original email I sent:

Mr. Kotlowitz,
I am a second-year teacher at an affluent public high school **in the Midwest**. My class and I just finished reading your novel There Are No Children Here, and I am writing to let you know how much it meant to us.
While the majority of the school is very wealthy, I teach lower-tracked students, and my students are often living in poverty. So, many of them understood very well what the Riverses were going through, and I understood what you must have been going through watching them live that way.
I've struggled this year with this class. They are not readers, many because of home-life (or lack of), some because of disabilities and some simply because they don't want to be. I have had to work with them and find creative ways to get them to read everything this year...except your novel. And I want to thank you for that. While it may not have turned them into avid readers, it has, at least, taught them that reading can be enjoyable. And they have enjoyed reading this novel. For whatever reason it spoke to them. This helped to get me excited because I had students coming in to discuss the characters and their situations on their own time. Many of them were chapters ahead of what was assigned, and they were eager to discuss it with one another. I have never seen them that excited before, about anything. So, thank you for letting me see that in my students.
I'd also like to thank you for helping me to see what my students' lives are like. I am a second-year teacher, as I said, and I'm somewhat naive, I suppose. But in discussions with this novel, I learned so much about my students and the struggles they go through on a daily basis. Because I grew up in a middle class home, I take that for granted and forget that not everyone does. My students picked up on the title immediately, many because the idea is applicable to their own lives. While they don't deal with the violence outside their homes as the Riverses do, they understand the poverty, and some experience the violence inside their homes. So, they really did understand this novel.
I'm sure you get letters like this often, and in fact, I've seen some on websites, but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated you telling the children's stories. My children are so proud that they've read this novel from cover-to-cover, something many of them have never done before.
As a final assignment, they are writing letters to you to share their experiences with your novel; however, I wanted to send mine and share my appreciation.
**Anonymous Teacher**
**Anonymous High School**

The reply:
Dear **Anonymous**, A much belated thank you for your note -- and for your kind words. It's always good to hear from teachers whose students got engaged with Pharoah and Lafeyette, especially students whose only lives mirror their lives. I hope you can pass along my regards to your students from last year. best, alex kotlowitz
I was simply in awe that this author took the time to write a reply to my email. I never expected it. I can't wait to visit my kids on Tuesday and let them know that Alex Kotlowitz sends his regards. They'll be thrilled.

Also, sorry for the hiatus...beginning of the year business. I know you all understand. I'm taking a long weekend on top of my long weekend and visiting a friend in Oklahoma. I'm actually missing being in the classroom today, but I have a friend subbing, so I know that my classroom is safe from the monkeys.

I really hope the first few weeks have gone well for all of you!!


I've now done everything except what I'm supposed to be doing. I've got a ton of reading to do for my class (but luckily I don't have class tomorrow), and I've got several small assignments to grade from each of my classes. Clearly this is going to be a horribly disorganized post, as I'm really just typing to avoid work. I don't really have anything to say, as I haven't even gotten into my routine, let alone started analyzing my kids and my teaching. I'm also making lists of things I can do besides work while I type, which isn't helping my organizational skills at all. (p.s. The grocery store is pretty high on my to-do list. I'm trying to avoid cafeteria food this year by bringing my lunch.)

I was going to start the grading yesterday, but I really wasn't feeling well. I napped all afternoon instead while hubby cleaned and mowed. I'm still not feeling exceptionally great, but I could pop a few cold pills and do my grading if I really wanted to. The assignments I have to grade really don't take any sort of a brain to go over, but I'd rather veg on the couch and watch awful tv or even read some of my for-fun books. (I just finished The Black Tattoo this morning. Really good.)

I'm really having a difficult time getting into the swing of things this year. I think it's because I taught summer school. It took so much extra work that it really drained me. The kids were a rag-tag bunch...all those who failed the year before in one room. You can imagine the motivation they had. Plus, there was no administrator available. I had to handle all discipline problems myself...and boy, were there problems. To top it off, I didn't have access to the student information, so I couldn't get phone numbers to call or even send letters home. Even the extra padding in my paycheck didn't make it worth it. Unless they completely overhaul it for next summer, I think they'll find it difficult to staff it...but, we shall see.

I said in my last post that my kids are great, and for the most part they are. But I have a few I think will be challenging. They're just very moody kids. Some days are great and we get along well, then other days...I also had a student who refused to do an in-class assignment on the first day off class, but I think I scared him away. I gave the blank sheet back to him several times and told him I wouldn't give him a zero. He could either do it, spend lunch with me until he did it, or take it up with Assistant Principal Bulldog. He eventually decided to do the assignment, but he has since been moved to another class (or possibly another school). I can't decide whether it's a good or bad thing. (p.s. Another thing to add to the to-do list: paint my nails. I've actually stopped biting them, so I have nails to paint.)

I'm also not sure what to think of my co-teacher this year. This will be our second year together, and I adored her last year. But she's gotten in pretty thick with some people I can't really stand, people who are in it for themselves and promotions and not the kids. So far I haven't seen that in her, but they're the type of people that most of us avoid. I suppose we'll see.

Anyway, afternoon to-do list:

  • paint nails
  • grocery shop
  • make lunches for next week
  • grade (??)
  • get coffee
  • plan for next week
  • make brownies for hubby
  • straighten living room
  • veg on the couch like a lazy bum watching "I Love Money" and TLC


I've got this printed out and hanging behind my desk. I love it!! Excellent, Bud.

Oh, holy cow!!

How long has it been?? Way too long. I'm going to quickly update you all, then I have grading to do. I miss blogging!!

  1. I've been married for nearly a year.
  2. I taught summer school over the summer and will never do it again. It was horribly disorganized, and the kids were a mess. Imagine all those kids who failed junior English in one classroom...not a good time at all.
  3. School has begun again. I have remedial freshmen, and average sophomores and juniors. My students are great so far (knock on wood). I don't have any one class that I think will be challenging...but we'll see.
  4. I've got a Romanian exchange student, and she's about as adorable as it gets. She calls me "teacher" in this very respectful tone. I feel like she should be bowing whenever she says it. My kids are learning a lot from her.
  5. I'm going back to school to get my Masters in Reading. I'm really excited/nervous to be a student again. I don't know if I remember how to do it. I find my coursework absolutely fascinating, but very difficult. I'm nervous for the first paper I have to write, as it's been a looooooong time. We'll see how it goes. I'm really excited to share what I learn from it though. So far we've been checking out picture books and looking at how young students discuss them. The program is really popular among elementary school teachers. I think I'm the only high school teacher in the program, but I'm excited regardless. I'm finding things that I can use with my own kids...even if they are a bit older.
  6. We already had a meet the parents type night, and I had very few show up. It was really disappointing. I'm not sure how much parent support I'll be getting this year.
  7. My dept. is a lot different from what it has been in the past. We have so many open-minded teachers this year. I'm actually being allowed to try literature circles in my freshman class. I'll definitely be keeping you all updated on that. I'll need to remind myself how its going and how to improve it for next year.
  8. Oh, freshmen. Need I say more??
I don't think I have anything else. I will be checking up with my "Must-reads." If anyone still reads this, let me know. I've missed the Edublog world!!


Tonight I was running late for FCF, and I was okay with that. I had spent the afternoon with some of my favorite little people, and knew that being late would be fine. I said a generic, "Lord, I trust that you'll put me where You want me..." prayer, and headed to service after dropping off the little people.

I arrived at the Overflow Lot, and I was told there weren't any parking spots, and I needed to go to the Prayer Room to park and catch a shuttle. Okay, that works. Then a guy walked up and said, "I'm about to leave, she can have my spot." I was so happy about that. I didn't want to be any later than I already was for service, so the Lord took care of the spot for me! I loved it! *grin*

Upon entering service, I wondered if there was going to be a seat for me. The students are back, and we had a guest speaker. I'll be the first to admit, I had never heard of the guy, so it didn't mean a lot to me when they said who was going to be speaking. I was there just in time for the sermon though. *grin* While it was good, it wasn't my favorite part of the evening. *grin*

After the sermon, we had some prayer time and Misty led worship for a while. I was blessed because I had told the Lord that I had missed the worship prior to the teaching, and I was really hoping that there would be time for me to enter in to worship later with Misty leading. He clearly answered that prayer! *grin*

My favorite moment came around 9:00 though. I will openly admit that I haven't spent any extended time in the prayer room in quite a while, and I didn't realize how much I had missed it. Around 9:00 Mike Bickle announced that Misty was going to minister to the Lord, and the room would basically be the Prayer Room for the next hour. I grinned. God knew what I needed before I did, and I LOVE IT when He does that!

The Lord spoke through Misty at one point, and I was one of the people He was speaking to in those 15 or so minutes. I haven't had an encounter like that in probably two years. I think the last time I had that happen was after I moved here and Matt Gilman led a set where I met the Lord in a similar way.

I'm sure that He was speaking to others in the room as well tonight (God has multi-tasking down to an art!) but for me, it was an amazing encounter. I was fortunate, in that right after it began, I recorded it on my iphone. I didn't want to lose it....it was one of those moments you never forget, and you want to preserve to the best of your ability.

I can still hear Misty singing, "It's time to take a leap of faith", and how that connected with my spirit. There were other parts that I really connected with too, but those are just between God & me.

I loved it. God knew what I needed, and definitely blessed me tonight in a special way. I mean, I'm blessed everyday by Him, but tonight was definitely a night I will never forget.





A Little Escape Artist!!!

This morning I had an EARLY morning meeting where I was slated to help facilitate a training session for our staff. Jay & I got up, did our morning routine, and I grabbed a treat to put him in his box. I put him him the box, LOCKED THE DOOR, said, "Bye, Jay, I love you!" and left for my meeting. He didn't fight me on going into the box at all. Truthfully, I have more issue with him being in the box than he does.

Fast forward to about 6:00 when I arrived home tonight. I opened my front door, and there was Jay, HAPPY to see me! I stood there, stunned. Absolutely perplexed. How did the furry kid get out of his box? I KNOW that I locked it this morning! Hum.

I walked toward the kitchen, and found ALL THE KITCHEN TRASH all over the floor! (That's why when I do leave him out, the trash is put in the bathroom downstairs and the door is shut!) I looked at him, and he ran up the stairs. He KNOWS he isn't supposed to be in the trash. He expected me to be mad. I just cleaned the trash and went upstairs to check out the kennel box. He climbed in the box expecting trouble. I just wanted to see how he got out.

I am still stumped. It took some effort for him to get out of the box. He's now going to have a new nickname, "The Little Escape Artist."

At first he was distant with me, expecting trouble, but I never got onto him. Truth be told, I was a little proud of him for being that smart. So, I said, "Come here", and we cuddled.

Silly dog.

I'm just hoping this was a one-day deal. If he's out tomorrow, I think I may need to invest in a padlock to keep him in the box. He now thinks cords are fun to chew. *grin*




It's JUST a Haircut, RIGHT? *grin*

I have been in need of a haircut for several weeks, but I kept putting it off. I have been so busy, that I kept thinking, "I'll do it tomorrow." Yesterday I decided that my goal for today would be to get a haircut.

Today, I went to get the haircut. I have a picture on my iphone of what I want the haircut to look like from ALL sides. I have had this picture from my last haircut in Joplin for quite a while. Today the gal still didn't do what I wanted.

While the back looks fine, my front and sides don't look like I wanted it to look. She cut it a lot shorter than I wanted her to cut it.


For this gal, a bad haircut is a bummer.

Well, at least it will grow back.





Work & Friends All in One Place! *grin*

Today was the first day with little people in the building, and for our paraprofessionals to arrive back at school. I had already seen most of my students, and was EXCITED to have my friends back in the building today. Yes, I'm friends with everyone on staff, but the paras are who I have formed the closest friendships with in the building. I have been looking forward to today for a week!

The morning began with hugs from my two closest friends, and one gave me FLOWERS to start the day. (Yes, they will be killed in a matter of days, but that's beside the point! *grin*) I have missed them, and today was A LOT of fun as we started the journey of this school year together. I'm honestly more excited about this school year than I have been about the previous two and these two ladies are going to make this year a lot of FUN!

In addition to that, we will add my Student Teacher to the mix tomorrow. I can only imagine how much laughter will be heard from the Upper Level L.C. tomorrow! PLUS we're adding students to the mix! It's going to be a fun day for everyone!

I don't know if I've ever been as excited about a school year as I have this year due to the new initiatives we have in place for student behavior and the EXTRA help I have this year. After a rough year last year for our staff, we are off to an AMAZING start this year!

I'm really excited! At one point today, I was watching the two paras and a Reg. Ed. teacher who came in to hang out with us for a while, and I paused and silently thanked God for placing EACH of them in my life. Two years ago I moved here, praying for amazing friends, and today I realized He answered that prayer. *grin*





Tomorrow is the first day of school and I'M SO EXCITED!

While there is still A LOT for me to figure out with my schedule, that's okay because I was told today I have TWO paras! I am SO excited about this new year. We have some new staff members that I'm excited about, as well as an AMAZING student teacher!

This year we have several new things in place to help students be successful in a way that we've never tried before. I'm so excited to see the students react as they walk into the building tomorrow! It's going to be an AMAZING school year!

For now, I think I'll rest. I have a headache and there's NO WAY I'm missing the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

This is going to be the BEST year ever!





Back to school...

Today was our teachers' in-service day before school starts tomorrow. I've been dreading it, as usually my colleagues make me frazzled beyond belief (as those of you who've read my blog for the past several years know). But today wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. In fact, it went quite well. I had no desire to gorge on the chocolate in my bottom desk drawer. I don't know that I've ever left a department meeting feeling that relaxed.
The reason? Several new teachers. We have three first-year teachers beginning in our department, plus one student teacher. I don't know if people were just on their good behavior today or if the people who left to make room for the new teachers were that bad, but our entire dynamic has changed. I can't express how smoothly our meeting went.

I also met our new superintendent today. Again, a wonderful change. Our last superintendent insisted on being called "Doctor," while our new superintendent insists on being called by his first name. That is only one of many changes, but I think it speaks volumes about his character. As I think I've already said, I've heard great things about this man, and he lives up to the hype thus far. He seems as if he will be fair in making decisions, and he seems as if he supports the teaching staff, which is a huge change from what we had before. Plus, he's working to allow us to wear jeans on paydays...can't complain about that, right?

I'm really optimistic about this year. I'm feeling very prepared for all my classes. I feel good about both my department and my administration. And there are some younger people in my department, so I finally have teachers my own age to interact with. Plus, in a few short months, I will be a Mrs. Anonymous.

When the stress of the first few weeks hits me, someone please remind me to look back at this post. I really hope I don't end up eating my words...(gah!! Can't get rid of those pessimistic thoughts. Conditioned response, I suppose.)


Tonight was AMAZING! We had "Meet Your Teacher" tonight at my school, and it was REALLY fun to see our S.V.E. family back together again! I started out my night sitting at my desk, and one of my favorite little people came to my room! It was a GREAT way to begin the evening!

The first hour was spent right outside my classroom and picking on the kids who walked by. It was so much fun to see the kids return to the building! Working in the building without the kids there the past week has been okay, but I'm ready to be with the little people! *grin*

The rest of the night I was in the gym helping at the parent/teacher sign-up table in the gym. This was really fun because I got to see ALL the kids, not just the ones that walked down the hallway where my room is located! It was so much fun! I LOVED IT!

At one point, two of my students walked up, and I said, "SO, DID YOU HEAR THE GOOD NEWS?" They both looked at me stunned, not knowing what I was talking about. I said, "You get to be in my class this year!" They both grinned and one boy did a fist pump in the air! It was priceless to me! (They weren't mine last year, but they were the year before.)

Another highlight was when a parent walked up to me, with her son behind her, and she said, "So, what's the scoop? Do you get my son this year?" I said yes, and she grinned, clearly excited about the news. The cool part is that the feeling is VERY mutual with that little guy! I'm so excited!!!

My favorite story of the night came from a parent of a student that is NOT in my class! A second grader ran in, gave me the biggest hug, and said, "Hi, Ms. Springer!" To which I replied "Hey!" and returned the hug. I got down on my knees to talk to him, but he was not in the mood to talk, he was on to the next person. But, his Mom came in just as he was walking away and said, "There's Ms. Springer, you've been talking about her all day!"

I tell ya what, I LOVE this teacher gig!

I have a student teacher this year who is AMAZING too!

I love it!





Stress Eating...

I've really enjoyed being at school the past few days. I've gotten a ton of work done, and my classroom actually looks as if it can fit students in it. I've blissfully danced around my room with the radio turned up...until today. For whatever reasons several of the other teachers were in today, and it reminded me why I eat so much during the school year.

I had a really quiet morning, but this afternoon when I got back from lunch, I was bombarded by questions and criticism. If today was any indication of what my year is going to be, it's going to be a long one. I'm hoping people are just crabby because school is starting, but i'm not feeling too optimistic.

On another note, totally related to this one, I have to rewrite my sophomore curriculum that I've worked all day for the past week or so on. I've even made all the copies I'll need for the first three weeks of school. Now I have 75 copies of three weeks of handouts and worksheets that I don't need anymore.

On a better note, I'm excited for the first day of school with kids in the building. I get so excited to meet my kids for the year and scare them with the syllabus and expectations. It's so fun to watch their reaction when I first give it out because I know what satisfaction will come at the end of the year when we accomplish all that they thought they couldn't and more.

Anyway, as schools are beginning to start, good luck to everyone!! Here's to a learning-filled and fun year!!

Forerunner Christian Fellowship

Tonight I went to my church, and LOVED it! Two years ago I moved here to be a part of IHOP-KC, and I STILL love it here! It's not perfect, I know that. At the same time, there isn't a perfect church anywhere either. *grin*

Misty Edwards led worship, and I was reminded (once again) that I'm "at home" here. The whole time we were in worship, I kept thinking, "I still can't believe I'm here!" I've never lost thought feeling, & pray I never do. Each service I draw nearer to God in one way or another, and I walk out different than I was when I walked in. *grin*

We had prayer time at one point, and the Lord had me pray for a young man. I started praying, and He gave me a word for the young man. I prayed, gave the word, and prayed again. It was SO MUCH FUN to be used by Him!!! It was clear that the word was right on, and that I was definitely hearing from the Lord.

I would say that's the thing I've grown the most in since I've been here. I LOVE praying for people, and I have grown in the ability to hear from Him and speak His word in other's lives. Of course, I only do so when He tells me to do so. For example, I prayed for another gal tonight, and He never gave me anything, so I walked away. It was still cool. He still moves at the sound of my voice so the prayer was still a blessing for the person. *grin*

The last hour of service Misty led worship. It was a really unique night, as the Lord was on Stuart while he was preaching, to the point of tears, so he called the worship team back up. Worship was INTENSE. I LOVED IT!

Yep, FCF. I'M HOME!!!






Today I was in a meeting all day, and I kept thinking to myself how blessed I am to work with such an AMAZING group of people. God has certainly put the right people together for such a time as this at the school I'm at! Some of the things that were discussed today were things we were seeking for two years, and it's FINALLY coming together. For the new members of our staff, they are just able to be at the starting point of some good ideas. For those of us that have been there since the building opened, today was an answer to prayer. I know for me, I was silently doing a happy dance this afternoon as our new initiatives were discussed.

It reminded me how faithful God can be, even when He can't be heard along the way. I have prayed for a lot of things since I arrived in L.S. two years ago, and some of it is now coming to pass. Along the way, I didn't ever hear Him say "No", I just didn't hear Him say anything, so I just kept talking to Him about it. Sometimes it was verbally, and sometimes it was that inner thought life that only He can know. Today, some of those prayers were answered! My faith was strengthened today in ways I can't express to you, and honestly I don't want to fully. That's between me and God.

I do want to encourage anyone who is still praying for something to come to pass. I prayed for almost two years for some things, and JUST NOW I'm seeing them come to pass. If you're waiting, keep praying. In HIS timing, it can happen. (I'm speaking to myself here too, I'm still waiting for the person God has for me!)

Today was the beginning of something great for my family here at S.V.E.! I can't wait to post throughout the year about what GREAT things are happening in our building! It's going to be one AMAZING year!!!






Today began my thirteenth year as an educator. I have really pondered that ALL DAY...thirteen years! Wowowowowowowow!

Today went REALLY well, and I'm EXCITED for this school year! For the third year here in L.S., I switched rooms AGAIN! The exciting part is that I now have a SMARTBOARD to teach the students on! I'm VERY excited about that!

I was really excited to be back with my teacher friends again. While Rockstarpara has another week off, it was GREAT to be with the S.V.E. family again, and to meet some new members of our family as well. I feel more excited about this year than I have since I've been here in L.S.! It feels good to be back at work!!!

One week from today (Aug. 17th) our doors open for the little people. I CAN'T WAIT! *grin*





Speaking Up!

In the past year God has really been teaching me how to use my voice in ways I haven't used it before. I have been praying for several years for BOLDNESS in my speech, but it has been a process and not an automatic thing. As He has been guiding me, I see how His wisdom is perfect, as I've had to go through several little steps to build up to a situation I was in today. He has guided me in such a way that I am able to be respectful, but still get my words out to express what needs to be said.

Today I found myself in an odd situation. I had bought 3 "junior" tickets to Oceans of Fun, and took 3 of my favorite little people to the park. I had already taken them, as well as Chase to Oceans of Fun & Worlds of Fun on the "junior" tickets. Now, the tickets said for people 48 inches or less, but when entering the gates all summer (until today) there was never a problem. (All the kids were taller than 48 inches by the way!) Previously, the kids just handed the tickets, they were scanned, and we were in! Today was different.

We got to the park, and one of the kids noticed what her ticket said about the height. I replied by saying, "Yeah, but they don't check height. That's how you guys got into Worlds of Fun earlier this year." So, we were off. We got to the ticket area, and sure enough, they checked her height. Then I was told I had to go pay full price for all three kids. (Junior price was only $10.) I explained that I had done this all summer with kids and I had never had a problem. At this point, one of the young men offered to walk me up to guest relations. I said, "Okay."

When we got there, the situation was explained to the gal, who told me the same thing. Same song, part two. Then another employee was involved. Same song, part three. They decided to call a manager to get the final word. The manager tells the teen, via phone, that I have to upgrade or I don't get in. I told her I wanted to talk to the manager.

At this point, in my head I'm thinking, "What am I doing? We're wasting time. I should just pay the extra and we can go in. The ticket does say 48 inches or less!" But, the Lord was on me. I knew this was something I had to do. I was INCREDIBLY nervous, but figured I could at least tell the manager the situation. I realized it would be same song, part four, and would probably end the same way, but hey, God was leading, and I was following.

When the manager arrived, I was smiling. It was a kid. A college kid, maybe, if that old. He was young, and at that point I understood what the Lord was teaching me, to just speak up and share my side of the story. I had the kids wait away from the chat because I had NO IDEA what was about to transpire. *grin*

I told him I knew the 48 inches rule, but I had been using these passes all summer. He told me that was the employee's mistake, and it shouldn't have happened. I told him (respectfully) that it wasn't my fault that the staff didn't do their jobs. I told him that I had brought the kids because of the $10 cost, and that I wouldn't have done it otherwise. He asked for my season pass and they did something or other on the computer inside the little office. He came out of the office with the sheet and SHOWED ME the 48 inches rule on the pass. I told him I wasn't arguing that point. I told him I had read that, but since height hadn't been an issue all summer, I figured it was an age thing more than a height thing. The guy went back in the office, came out, and said that I HAD to pay the upgrade price, and that was the BEST he could do, or he could refund my money.

I stood there. I waited on God. I had no idea what to do. I knew I had 3 kids waiting for me, and I couldn't walk away. Then He told me what to say.

I said, "I don't think that's the best you can do." At that point, he went back in the office to the computer. Then he came back out.

He said that he COULD have my pass revoked and I could be kept from the park indefinitely, but he didn't want to do that. (Don't know if that's true, but I didn't really factor that into what he was saying. He was trying to get me to go away.) He said that he would compromise with me. He said he would give me the upgrade at the twilight price for two of them, and he would let one in for the $10 pass. I stood there, God told me to take it, so I did. He called down and told the workers at the entrance gate to let us in on one of the $10 passes. He went on to say from now on the $10 passes wouldn't work, and I told him that was fine. (Sidenote, when we did go through the gates, the employees that sent us away were annoyed that one of the kids got in on a pass. *grin*)

In a way, it was weird, as I became one of the annoying customers that I used to deal with when I was a fast food employee. On the other hand, speaking up to the manager made a difference. I went from having to pay FULL price for the three kids, to an upgrade at a reduced price for two out of the three. In the past, I would have just quietly paid the difference and moved on. Speaking up saved me money! *grin*

I don't know what else the Lord has in store for me in using my voice. I think this is just the beginning of things to come. On one hand, that is cool, and on the other hand, I hate drama, so I need to keep praying over this part of my life. Today may seem little to you, but trust me, for me it was heart-pounding and a stretch out of my comfort zone. *grin*

I had two thoughts though, as I walked away from the ticket counter. My Mom woulda been proud of me if she had seen it! *grin* Since Mom would have been proud, my next thought was, "God, I know you're proud too!"





The mating habits of freshmen...

For some reason my school dedicates two hours a day for eight days to freshman orientation. This isn't a required thing, but many of the more involved students (or students with more involved parents) attend. It's not fun by any stretch of the imagination, so students and teachers alike have to create their own fun...mine was watching the freshmen in all their immature glory.
They're like foreign beings to me. Even after nine months with the little buggers, they're still an alien species. I don't think I can express to you how much they still weird me out.
I did enjoy meeting the kids. It isn't like I had anything better to do (only reading several new books and planning for two new preps). I got paid to plan, which was really nice, and I got to interact with an interesting bunch of kids.

Two things I learned...

  1. Freshmen are immature. We were reading a portion of a geography textbook aloud, and the word "dike" came up. The boy who was reading couldn't even say the word he was laughing so hard. I tried to explain to him and the rest of the class what it was, but I'm not sure that anyone could hear me over the heyena laughter. Another example: I was breaking the students into pairs and had an extra person, so I told one group they'd be a "threesome". Big mistake. Again with the heyena laugh.
  2. Freshmen smell. For whatever reason they haven't figured out that deoderant is important. My room got so stinky after two hours of heat and sweating that I gave a lecture on the importance of personal hygeine. I let the boys know that after football practice they must shower. Apparently no one had told them that.

At one point I saw a little boy who had just come back from football practice (and, mind you, it's over 100 degrees out, and they practice for several hours) running around in his sweaty, dirty clothes. I think to myself, Hmm, that's disgusting. But I almost lost my lunch when he walked up to a young girl and rubbed himself on her. I shouted at him, asking what in the world he was doing.
His response? "It's my girlfriend. It's okay."
Why, exactly, would he think it's okay to rub sweat all over his girlfriend?

Nevermind...don't want to know.


I have given a lot of thought to my two weeks at camp this year. Every year I go to camp and pray over who He is going to have me serve beside for the week, and EVERY year, God blesses me with some AMAZING people! Camp is not EASY. You would think it would be REALLY easy. I mean, you're going to a camp to have fun, right? Well, yeah, that's true, but going to serve kids that have different needs can sometimes equal more work than a person does during any other week out of the year. It's one week out of the year where I rely on the Lord in ways that can't be put into words because I can't possibly do camp in my own flesh. And, I know that's true for everyone else who is serving in a cabin. During Term 7, Briana worked harder than any other CIA in the cabin, and blessed me IMMENSELY! I know God was even more pleased with her than I was, which made the week even better! *grin*

God paired Briana up with Becca during Term 7. As I've shared before, Becca was an AMAZING camper! Which was perfect because Briana was an AMAZING CIA! Briana's Birthday fell on Camper Arrival Day, but due to Becca's difficulty at dinner, they had to postpone her Birthday Rap. Becca was probably REALLY bummed, but she held her head high that evening, putting Becca's needs before her own. Throughout the week, Briana ate separately from the cabin with Becca and a "Third" so that Becca's stress level wouldn't be high. She didn't complain once to me about it either! It was just something that was the right thing to do for Becca. Throughout the week I would hear Briana make small comments about the Birthday Rap possibly happening later in the week, and when she did, I silently prayed it would happen because it meant a lot to her. The last couple days, Briana ate with us in the dining hall, which was really cool! And, on the last night, SHE GOT HER BIRTHDAY RAP! You have to be at camp to get it, but we have our own Birthday song out at camp, and Briana was FINALLY able to have her celebration! I was SO happy for her! *grin*

Another highlight with Briana was at the end of the week, and I told Briana what a blessing she had been all week. She didn't miss a beat and she said, "It's Him, not me." In that moment, I felt ENORMOUSLY proud of her! She has wisdom beyond her years, and God is going to use her in ways that will amaze us in years to come!

Gosh, there were so many highlights! Briana saw me right after Ronni's mouth found my arm, and she was so KIND to me. Not just nice, but KIND. She got a nurse for me, and gave me the BIGGEST hug! She's such a blessing!

The last night at our cabin meeting was what sticks out in my mind the most. As rumors were starting to fly about various things, Briana actually used her voice to stand up for someone who wasn't able to be present to talk for herself. In that moment, I was SO PROUD of her! I was her Cabin "Mom" for the week, and in that moment, I felt proud of her as if she was my own daughter! She's 18, but has maturity and wisdom of someone with more maturity than that. She's going to go on to be a voice for people who have difficulty speaking up for themselves, I really believe that!

Throughout the week, she went without sleep on various nights, was hit, had hair pulled, didn't do a lot of activities with us, ate separately, and all the while I NEVER heard her complain once! She blessed Becca in so many ways, as well as the rest of our cabin! During Say-So, she even supported another camper through an emotional time too!

Briana was an AMAZING CIA & I'm SO GLAD that God put her in my cabin! She definitely set the example in our cabin of how a CIA should work throughout the week!

I may not be her real Mom, but I tell ya what, I'M SO PROUD OF HER!


Sara (Term 7, Continued!)

Tonight I was reviewing my notes from camp, and realized that I TOTALLY forgot to post about Sara! How I forgot Sara, I don't know, but it's time to share about Sara!

Sara was in my cabin the past 3 years, and I was told during Term 6 that she wasn't coming for Term 7. My first thought was relief, and then I felt bad for thinking that. Sara is a REALLY cool kid...but she is also a challenge. Sara is Oppositional Defiant, which basically means she has great difficulty doing she is told to do. In a classroom, that is handled one way. At camp, you have to be REALLY creative with her! So, I had mixed feelings about Sara's absence.

With all that being said, you can imagine my surprise when she was at the mic during opening ceremonies for campers! Sara wasn't in my cabin though, so I was glad to see her but knew that my cabin had our own challenges ahead of us for the week! *grin*

After Becca's incident at dinner that first night, I saw Sara's staffer & CIA trying to get her to sit and eat dinner. My heart leapt for them, as I had been in that situation with Sara several times. (And, honestly, Sara had come a LONG way in the three years I had her! She went from running at meals, to sitting at meals and eating all of her food last year....then she would run.) I turned to the staffer (I had eaten already by this time) and offered to help. When Sara saw me, she went NUTS! I was hugged like crazy, and I was grinning! She's a SWEET girl! She started to run outside, and I said something to encourage her to go sit at her table. She said she wanted ME to go with her! I grinned, and my thought was, "Okay, I'll get her there, and come back to my table." Sara had other ideas!

We were almost to her table, and she started walking back toward mine. Honestly, we all thought she was headed to the door to escape, so we started running. We were WRONG though! Sara just wanted to go get my plate for me! We all started laughing! Sure enough, I stood behind Sara's chair during that meal, and ate a little more of my food.

Honestly, I felt good to help, but I wondered that first night how it was all going to work. I had my own cabin to help with, and I was actually helping another cabin! I knew I couldn't do it all week. So, I prayed. And sure enough, the week went by and I helped here and there with Sara, but God took care of it. When Sara was doing well with her CIA and I was nearby I would hide so that she wouldn't get distracted, and it worked! *grin*

There was one day at the pool Sara asked me to play with her, and I took time out to play with her. Of course, it was short because she was off to play with someone else, but that was fine. I believe that deep down inside, I'm special to Sara, because deep in my heart, Sara is special to me.


A.J.!!!! (Term 7, Continued!)

I was thinking tonight that my Term 7 posts wouldn't be complete without mentioning A.J.! A.J. was a returning camper, who I got to know a little bit throughout the week. I honestly don't know his diagnosis, but my guess would be that he falls somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum. I had seen A.J. the past few years, but just in passing, and honestly most of the time he was crying. So, I would say "Hi", but kept on walking. I didn't want to make it worse for him. This year was different. *grin*

I can't remember the first moment that I saw him this year, all I remember is that he smiled at me while he was with Mitchell (His CIA) and Mama J! My guess is that Mama J was the Cabin Mom for his cabin, but I'm not sure. Most of the time they have Cabin "Dads" for the guys, so I'm not sure how Mama J was connected to the cabin. But, I do know that almost every time I saw A.J., I saw Mitchell and Mama J with him. (Gotta keep the rule of "3")

A.J. was a blessing from the Lord! He didn't really talk, but signed a little. Truthfully, he made up his own signs, so it was his own little version of "sign". But, he would laugh and smile around me, so that was fun. I would ask him yes/no questions, and he would respond, so that was cool too. One time at the pool, Mitchell asked me if I would try to get him in the deep end of the pool. I said, "sure." While he didn't go in the "deep" end, he went a little deeper with me encouraging him. That was cool!

There was also a day that our cabin didn't go to the pool for free time. Madison requested that we go to the Arts & Crafts room, so, that's where we went! After a little while, A.J. showed up with Mitchell & Mama J! We had SO MUCH FUN! A.J. would laugh and smile when I would talk to him. I was glad he was there! A.J. had a wig for the party that night that was SO cute! It was fun talking to him about the wig! *grin*

There was one night I came out of the restroom by the dining hall, and A.J. was sitting on the porch. I looked at Mama J to see if everything was okay. Apparently he had just been upset and they were giving him time to cool off. I asked if I could talk to him. (He had his back to me.) She said yes, but warned me to keep my distance, as he had just hurt his CIA. I started talking as I approached so that A.J. wouldn't be startled, and A.J. started smiling! I kept my distance the whole time we were there, but it was clear that the time was what he needed, because by the time Mitchell arrived back, we all walked to the evening party together.

There was also a night I went into to eat at the dining hall, and his staffer turned to me and said, "Can you help us move A.J.?" I said sure. I didn't get him completely where they needed him, but he did follow me away from the problematic situation that could have been a lot worse if he hadn't moved! I LOVED being used by the Lord in A.J.'s life! He became a special camper to me throughout the week!

The last morning I took a picture with him, as I wanted a picture to help remember him. I find it amazing how people can touch my heart. A.J. never said my name, or carried a full conversation with me verbally, but his smile and laughter and "yes" and "no" responses were definitely a highlight of my week! *grin*

You might say I'm a fan of A.J.! I REALLLLLLY hope he returns next year. He came so far from where he was last year. He went from crying a lot last year to smiling & swimming this year! I can't wait to see what he can do next year! *grin*

AMAZING...with so many INCREDIBLE people in my little corner of the world! *grin*

TERM 7!!!

I have two favorite weeks of the year. My favorite week of the year is during the ONETHING conference in December. I look forward to that conference EVERY year, as God meets me there EVERY year. My second favorite week of the year is TERM 7 out at Camp Barnabas!!!

All year I pray about Term 7, and even pray to be with the same group of girls. This year, God was faithful to answer that prayer AGAIN! For the fourth year in a row, I was blessed to get to be with four of the same campers! I was so excited! God was faithful to meet us repeatedly this year during Term 7! I have debated how to write about it because a lot happened throughout the week! It was an AMAZING week!

Lilly was in my cabin again, and she is a sweetheart! After the initial testing period for all of us, Lilly was the typical, LOVELY young lady that she always is! My favorite moment with Lilly was one of the first nights when she wanted to dance with me at WRAP-UP! We had a GREAT time dancing while we sang worship songs! It was SO much fun!

Each night before the girls went to sleep, I tried to make the rounds and say "good night" and give hugs to each one. One night Lilly invited me to sit on the edge of her bed while we talked. She wanted to know why I wasn't married. I explained to her that I was waiting for God to bring the right guy into my life! I proceeded to ask her if she would come to my wedding one day when God did bring the right guy. She said, "No." I laughed and asked why. She stated, "I'll be busy that day with my Mom and Dad." I just laughed. She's so precious!

I was especially blessed when her Mom arrived on arrival day with a present for me! She gave me a FRAMED picture of Lilly & me! It is PRECIOUS and sits on my end table here in my living room! It's the first time I've been given a gift from a camper's parent on parent arrival day at camp! I'm loved so well by some AMAZING PEOPLE. I pray I get to have Lilly again next year. She was a highlight of my week! *grin*

Destiny was in my cabin for the second time. Destiny was in my cabin two years ago, and is one amazing little person. Okay, she's fifteen, but she's small in size! She is non-verbal, and God taught me SO MUCH through her during the week! She could communicate basic wants and needs, but outside of that she was limited in communicating to us.

I was blessed to sit by her from time to time. She would occasionally take my hand, hold it, and then let go. A few times I took on the challenge of giving her water. While that seems minor, it took effort because Destiny would often purposely dump water after drinking from her water bottle, so I would let her drink, and then creatively take the water bottle away from her before she would take it away from me. I realize it sounds difficult, but it was actually really cool. She put a smile on my face repeatedly.

At one point, she came over and chose to sit by me. We would hold hands, and sometimes want to cuddle. It was precious. She also wanted a drink, but it was past her drinking time, so I couldn't give her a drink. She was a definite highlight for me though, and I'm SO GLAD she was in my cabin. *grin*

Another returning camper was MADISON! This was my fourth year with Madison, and I was SO EXCITED to have her in my cabin again! Madison has Autism, and has really grown up in the past four years. This year was especially cool for her, as she finally WENT DOWN THE WATER SLIDES! It was a blessing to get to be with her as she faced her fear of the water slides. The past three years I have offered to ride the slides with her, but she wasn't ready and I NEVER pushed. When we finally went up to the top, I said, "Do you want to go with me, or by yourself?" She told me she wanted to go WITH ME! I was QUIETLY excited that she wanted me to share in the moment. Of course, I just said, "Okay." We started down the slide, and she was nervous, so she was slightly screaming in her own way. I was fine with that, she was scared, and I was fine with it. The slide had a few turns, so she was doing well until it came to the straight-way the led into the water. Then she STOPPED US! I was grinning, and told her it was okay. Her CIA, went to the end of the slide and told her it was okay. Sure enough, Maddie did the last little bit by herself. She was SO EXCITED that she did it! After that we did the slide MANY times! I offered that same day to try the middle slide with her, but she wasn't ready. It was later in the week when we did the middle slide, which she wanted to try by herself but she wanted me there when she tried it. I WAS SO PROUD OF HER! She faced her fear and really ENJOYED the slides! It was a blessing to me to see that they got her on the end-of-week slideshow going down the slide. That made me *grin* ear-to-ear!

Madison was also my photographer for the week. Madison often gets worked up when she's bored, so I gave her my camera at those times, and she would occupy herself with the camera. If a person looks as my pictures from the week, it explains why I have some of the pictures on there. I wouldn't have taken some of them, but they matter to Maddie, so it was GREAT! I had to charge my camera TWICE because Maddie took so many pictures, but that was fine by me. It was great to make her week a little less stressful, and more FUN. She clearly LOVED having the camera! *grin*

Rachel was new to my cabin, and I liked her A LOT. She appeared to not be afraid of anything, and made us laugh a lot. I will admit, I didn't spend as much time with Rachel as I did with some of the others, but I really did like her. Rachel would hug me from time to time, so I knew the feeling was mutual. I hope she's in my cabin in the future, as I thought she was a neat young gal.

Emily was a sweetheart. I had never had Emily in my cabin before, and I liked her A LOT. She was so patient with other campers, and had the softest heart. Like Rachel, I didn't spend a lot of time with Emily, but when I talked with her, she was always polite and talked to me. I hope to have her again too, as I would like to get to know her more. *grin*

Holly looked a lot like Emily to me, and I would always get them confused, but they were always good sports. *grin* Holly was even more quiet to me than Emily was, but was always pleasant to be around. I was glad she was in my cabin too. (Can you tell I REALLY liked out campers this year?) *grin*

Another new camper for me as BECCA! Gosh, how do you describe one of the most amazing campers I've ever met? During our first meal, Becca had a meltdown that had many of us wondering how in the world we were going to make it through the week. I immediately hugged her CIA (Who is one of my favorite people now!) and told her we would do this together. Becca wears a harness for various reasons, and to look at her you would probably think a lot of things. What I learned through Becca this week is that first impressions aren't what they always appear to be. Becca was prone to outbursts for various reasons, but she was also one of the most LOVING girls in our cabin. She required A LOT of help, but I didn't hear ONE negative word regarding Becca. In fact, at one point our staffer said, "People think that she's violent, and she's really not." That was the most true statement that I probably heard all week.

The most touching moment of the whole week camp for me during camper arrival. I saw Becca's parent show up and walk away with Becca. And, I should state, that the people that worked the most with Becca worked HARD during that week. Anyway, when Becca's caregiver walked away with her, Stephanie turned to someone and started crying because she was gone. I was touched, and learned something in that moment. I was expecting to hear, "She was great, but I'm worn out & happy for the break." Instead, the two girls who spent the most time with her were truly SAD that she was gone, and one cried. That was DEEP love for a camper that required a lot of assistance. We should all learn how to love on that deep of a level. *grin* I was proud of the girls who were sad to see her go. That's how we should love ALL the campers out there. *grin*

Of course, my post would be incomplete if I didn't mention RONNI! That's right, the gal I prayed to be beside ALL YEAR, was in my cabin AGAIN! When I found out I was SO EXCITED! Honestly, I was blessed to spend quite a bit of time with Ronni. I LOVED the week because of Ronni! Seriously.

I imagine it might offend some people for me to say this, as we're probably not supposed to have favorites, but Ronni is my FAVORITE camper! Four years ago, God put this adorable girl in my cabin with Down's who just connected with me. Year after year, God has just expanded my heart for her, and this year it grew even more for her. Honestly, I didn't think that was possible, but it happened.

We had our fair share of challenges. Ronni loves to climb, and for safety reasons we can't let her climb EVERYTHING that she chooses. (Can we say the dining hall stage? *grin*) We also couldn't let her just take other people's belongings, so that was character-building too. And honestly, I LOVED every moment where I had to keep her safe because I could feel the Lord with us as we kept her safe. When I was involved, she didn't get hurt physically, and I give credit to God for that because I silently prayed even as we stood in front of the objects she wanted to climb. *grin*

The AMAZING news is that, from my perspective, there were more good moments than tough ones. It was AMAZING to watch Ronni sing to the animals at the petting "zoo" at camp. She would pet the animals and sing, it was precious! She also laughed A LOT while she was at the pool! It was also fun to watch her in the Silver Lining, as she climbed into a cabinet and shut the cabinet door. It was PRECIOUS. (I'm bummed I didn't have my camera at that moment!)

I had two FAVORITE moments with Ronni. The first one came on a night she didn't particularly want to go to the evening party, so we wound up in the conference rooms below the dining hall with other campers who didn't want to go either. Ronni decided she wanted to dress me up and take pictures. There is a skit closet down there FULL of costumes, and she would create costumes and put them on me (Over my regular clothes, of course!) and take my picture! It was my FAVORITE night of the whole Term!

My second favorite moment may seem a tad odd, but it was precious to me. I have to set it up for you. On Day #3 Ronni bit me. It was just a moment where she was upset, and my arm was in the way of her mouth. *grin* Now, fast forward with me to the last morning of camp, and parent pick up. We were sitting outside the cabin waiting for her parents, and she took my arm where she bit it, kissed it, and said, "I sorry, Shanna." That was PRICELESS in my book!

I enjoyed both weeks out at camp a lot, I really did, but I will admit that Term 7 was my favorite. Every year God teaches me something new out there, and this year I got two new revelations from Him.

The first one was a reminder of how much I LOVE to work hard. Camp was a lot of fun, but it requires a lot of work too. During Term 7, I have to give up all my selfish desires to serve the campers, and it is definitely the most challenging week for me out of the whole year, but at the end of it I walk away stronger in the Lord than I was when I walked in the gates. I am also in better physical shape than I've been in a year. I'm a gal who enjoys lap swimming, and I had given that up, thinking "I am walking Jay." Well, I came back from camp REALLY wanting to start swimming again. When the Aquatic Center opens back up next week I want to join. I'm also back at work getting my classroom together. Due to camp, I'm more energized and ready to go! *grin*

My second revelation was a revelation of a mother's heart. There were things out at camp this year that were AMAZING and (for the first time ever) there were things that BROKE my heart. I found myself loving the campers (not just mine, all of them) as if they were my own kids. It's impossible to put into words, but it was AMAZING. Even in the most character-building moments, I was NEVER mad, I was actually aching for the child doing whatever it was she was doing. God expanded my heart in ways that can't be explained, but made me love in a way I never had before. I LOVED IT!

Perhaps the most amazing thing about camp is that I go out there to SERVE campers, and I ALWAYS come back being blessed more than I think I blessed others. Even more than that, I came home EXHAUSTED for THREE days afterward, and you know what? I CAN'T WAIT TO GO BACK AGAIN NEXT YEAR!!! *grin*



I typically ponder throughout my day what my nightly post is going to be about, and while I'm still itching to write about Term 7, I realized I hadn't even MENTIONED Brayden from Term 6! I actually met Brayden last year during Term 8, and LOVED this kid. During just about every meal, he would get up and sing the National Anthem last year. This year, he did it again and I LOVED IT! The boy has been given an AMAZING singing voice, and I LOVE to listen to him sing.

I guess this year during Term 5, there was a camper that did the same thing each meal, so by the time Term 6 rolled around, a few of the staffers were tired of it. It was the first time I had ever heard negative words spoken about a camper from staff, but since I hadn't been there Term 5, I just let it go. I was determined not to let their opinions and frustrations roll onto me!

Brayden would sometimes sing the National Anthem, "Hush Little Baby" or "Jesus Take the Wheel." I really enjoyed Hush Little Baby and the National Anthem. You'd have to hear him to fully understand the fullness of what I'm saying when I say he has an AMAZING voice.

The last night of camp, I sat by him during Say-So. His CIA ran to get him something and they were going to have him sit by someone else from his cabin, but I offered to watch him. He proceeded to lay down, with his head on my leg, and we talked. He is one of the neatest kids I've met out there. Yeah, he can be a handful, I will admit (Try taking the mic away from him!) but he's SWEET. He became a favorite of mine during Term 6!

I have pondered Brayden today. I realize he can be challenging at times out at camp, but I was BLESSED to get to enjoy his company as he was just a kid, sitting there, talking to me. He's a GREAT kid. God taught me something through him that night.

He's no different than the rest of us. We're all a challenge at times, but we're all GREAT at other times too. So often people see the TOUGH stuff, and dismiss the rest of the package. That's not what God does, and it's not what God calls us to do. God really spoke to me a lot over the two weeks about that. I heard comments made that BROKE my heart, but I realized that God was still teaching others about it too.

If anything, I see the BEST and forget about the faults. I walked into Term 7, forgetting some of the challenges that faced us, because I see the BEST in everyone. That's okay with me though. I'd rather see the BEST in people than focus upon their faults.

As for Brayden, I hope to see him again next year. I look forward to standing for the National Anthem during EVERY meal. It was a highlight of my week when he was there! He's a blessing from the Lord!


I lied...

Okay, so three times a week didn't happen...obviously.

I've been roped into a freshmen orientation week, and I'm really not liking it at all. It's very disorganized, and we've got so much down time that the kids are getting bored and acting out. Plus, it's cutting into my time and desire to plan for the upcoming year.

I've created syllabi for all my classes. I'm working on fleshing out each of the units now. The fiance and I are heading to Panera tonight to work on school stuff/web design stuff (guess who's doing what). One of the other sophomore teachers has been really generous with her materials, so I'm feeling better about my two sophomore classes. For a couple units, she went so far as to give me entire units, complete with lesson plans, handouts, tests and worksheets.

I really don't have anything intelligent right now. The freshmen are already wearing me out...

Term 6, Continued...

While I'm itching to share about Term 7, I wanted to take a moment to write some more about Term 6. As I was pondering my latest post, I realized I didn't even write about the INCREDIBLE CIA's in our cabin, as well as our staff. I think it's natural to write about the campers, as that's my primary focus of my trips there, but Term 6 I felt the Lord put me there for the CIA's. For those of you new to the world of Barnabas, I should explain. CIA's are Christian's In Action. They are typically sixteen and older, and are paired up with one camper for the entire week. During weeks like Term 7, this means you help them do daily living skills, etc. Term 6, however, it means they mainly get to be a friend to their "camper". If they need help with daily living skills, of course, they can do that too, but our cabin was a high functioning cabin because we had the senior deaf cabin. This was the same kind of cabin I was in last year during Deaf/Blind week, but it was a different group of girls, so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found out was that it's fun to just hang out with everyone, and experience camp! *grin*

Each CIA brought a different personality to our group, and while it was difficult at times to accept the fact that the "campers" preferred to be with each other than with us, they worked through it and found their place in the cabin.

My heart especially leapt for Angela. Her camper was hot/cold with her all week, but I was so proud of her because she hung in there and didn't let it stop her from enjoying the other campers. On the last day she made a friendship bracelet for her camper, who didn't want it. It is a really pretty bracelet, and when I saw that her camper didn't want it, I told her it was too bad because it was really nice, so she gave it to me. Truthfully, each time I look at it, I grin. The bracelet is a constant reminder to me of a CIA that wrestled throughout the week, but finished the week out strong. Camp can be tough, and she did the best she could to hang in there. I know that pleases His heart, because it pleased mine more than I let it show. *grin*

Renee was a gal that ABSOLUTELY blessed my heart all week! She has a heart for God, and she intentionally got to know each person, and planted a seed in each one in a special way. There was one night I will never forget, as I walked up to the cabin, and Renee and Angela were talking to two of the campers. I wanted to join them, but the Lord told me to stop. One of the campers was asking the TOUGH questions about the Lord, and Renee was there, with the right answers, and I just grinned. I told Renee later how much that blessed my heart. While those campers didn't give their hearts during the week, seeds were deeply planted. I can't wait to hear what God does through & in Renee in the years to come. The world will be different because of that young lady!

Emily blessed my heart too, as she was Leigh's CIA. She just graduated interpreter school, and has a heart for the deaf in an incredible way. I know she'll bless MANY in her career with the deaf culture. She added joy and laughter to our cabin, and I'm really glad she was with us this year!

Halye was a CIA this year, and I thought she did a really good job. Last year she was a "camper" and this year she returned as a CIA. I have never been in a cabin where a camper returned as a CIA, but I thought Halye did a great job. Especially since her "camper" was a friend of hers. She admitted at one point that being a CIA is different because you get to do less things, but she still did a great job as a CIA! *grin*

Savannah (I'm mis-spelling her name, I know!) did a great job with her camper, and probably my favorite part about her was how much fun she was for her camper. Her camper's birthday was during Term 6, and she made a point of decorating her bed for her birthday, and made the day extra special for her. Savannah fit right in, and while she was homesick, she held herself together and did a GREAT job. I hope she returns next year! *grin*

While all of our CIA's were great, there is one that stood out to me! Selby blew me away throughout the week in our cabin! Selby was not initially placed in our cabin, but was moved to ours because her camper fit in better with our mix of girls than I guess she would have in the other. (That's a guess, I'm not really sure of the reason for the switch.) Selby joined us and fit right in from the beginning. My heart initially leapt for her during one of our first training sessions when a trainer, who was NOT Barnabas staff, told her in front of everyone that she couldn't handle her camper because she was labeled blind & deaf. That broke my heart because Barnabas is all about giving teens an opportunity to learn what they CAN do, not limit them! I didn't know her then though, so I just prayed. Later, she was brought to our cabin and I was silently excited! I hadn't told anyone about my frustration in training, but God knew, and I knew He put her in my path! I WAS SO EXCITED! *grin*

Selby's camper arrived, and it turned out she could see and hear a little. Selby was teamed up with another CIA whose camper didn't show up, because Selby didn't know a lot of sign language. Truthfully, Selby could have done it all, with the Lord. I truly believe that. However, she did an AWESOME job throughout the week. She has such a deep heart for the Lord, and at one point I heard her tell someone else, "I was praying about such and such during worship, and this is what I got..." I absolutely grinned when I heard that. She carried herself in such a way that I KNOW that God was pleased with her. At the end of the week I got to meet her mother, and I told her how blessed I was by her daughter. Out of all the CIA'S I've met in my years out at Barnabas, she is the one that carries the heart of the Lord in all she does. She definitely holds a special place in my heart! *grin*

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I can't remember the other CIA'S names that were in my cabin that week. That's weird to me just because I KNEW them all when I was there. But, if you add another week out there with even MORE people, and I guess it's normal to forget names.

One thing is for sure, even though it was an EASY week, we were all stretched in one way or another, and I thought everyone did a great job facing the challenges! Everyone was different leaving the gates than they were when they arrived. My prayer is that they were closer to God at the end of the week than they were at the beginning. *grin*