Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day Weekend 2017

Almost ten years ago I met a child named Ronni. She was seven and in my cabin out at Camp Barnabas. I had been told she was hard to handle, and to be prepared for a tough week. Fortunately, that week included more than tough moments. It had laughter, songs, joy, and love throughout the experiences that week. If you're new to me, Ronni is new to you but for loyal readers, everyone knows Ronni. *grin* Ronni is a jewel with Down Syndrome. However, her disability isn't what defines her, her catchy personality is one-of-a-kind that captures all that meet her.

So, I had planned to have her Friday night through Sunday afternoon. I knew that sleep wouldn't be a priority, but I knew TONS of laughter would happen. I was right. *grin* I met her family in Clinton, Missouri. This worked out great for me because she lives 3 hours away and the drive to Clinton was only one hour. *grin* I was excited for the weekend and knew we'd have fun. *grin*

We jammed to music coming back, and Ronni loves to sing and dance in her seat. We had fun singing to our heart's content and not worrying about how we sound. I'll admit, that was really fun. We stopped and got Dairy Queen for dinner when we got back to LS and then headed to Wal-Mart to get toilet paper. *giggle* We also got snack foods for her too. It worked out well.

We came back here and watched Lion King before crashing for the night. We sang along to the songs, and it was so cute how I would check my phone and she'd say, "Shanna, look!" I told her I had seen it, but she felt I should watch more closely. *giggle*

We woke up Saturday and watched previews for the appropriate movies she could see, and we wound up deciding on Leap. I loved letting her pick, even though I secretly was hoping Leap would win. We proceeded to turn the tv on, and she had full control of what we watched. It was fine, as I needed to pay bills, and she enjoyed watching the tv. When it was time to get ready, she turned off the tv on her own. We each got ready and then went to the show.

The movie was great, and I highly recommend it for people that need to be inspired. It was amazingly good, and I loved every moment of it.

After that, we did the Target dollar spot and took pics of her in various hats. We didn't buy any, but, we had fun. She did find a little notebook that she wanted, so I got it for her for $3. Later, I asked her how she liked her "journal" and she corrected me and told me it was a notebook, not a journal. *giggle* She's a hoot!

We went to the dollar tree after that because she had a gift card. We took more pics in Halloween costumes. I loved every moment of it. We also laughed a ton. She also made some friends, which is pretty normal for her. *giggle* We decided to head home, have pizza, and watch another movie.

She drew in her notebook as we watched various shows. I paid bills, but we joked often through the shows. My favorite moments were when she would say something, and I'd pause and say, "You're weird." We would both laugh when I said it. I know, it loses a lot in a story, but it was kind of our thing all weekend. She decided to stay up later than me, and I let her. I mean, it wasn't like we had to be anywhere Sunday morning. *grin* She did a great job turning lights out and going up to sleep on her own. Gosh, she's grown up.

She now thanks me all the time whenever we did something. She would also say "please" if she wanted something too. She's grown up so much that I told her Mom I wanted to have her again sometime. Her Mom said we could definitely work that out. *grin*

There was one quote that she said that I've been pondering since she left. We were sharing Jay throughout our evening, and, I often said, "Jay, you're my favorite dog..." Out of nowhere, later in the evening, she said, "Shannah, I feel jealous." I was taken aback and said, "Okay...what are jealous about?" She went on to tell me she was jealous of Jay because I like Jay more than her. I'll be honest, I fought laughter only because she is my favorite camper ever. *giggle* I paused and said, "Well, Jay is my favorite dog, but you're my favorite camper." That made her smile! *grin*

We slept in Sunday morning, and went to breakfast before heading to Clinton. She was tired, and I expected that. I was tired too, so I felt like our visit was ending at a perfect time. We met her parents at the camp ground they were staying at and visited with them for a little while before heading back to L.S. I will say that I truly enjoyed my weekend with her and can't wait for more weekends with her. Her Mom said that she was going to try to register her for Barn-A-Break. I plan on registering too. *grin*

I came back and relaxed last night. I fell asleep early and slept in late. I'll admit, that's why I scheduled the weekend the way I did because I knew I'd need to catch up on sleep. *grin* So, I'll admit, I miss Ronni already but also know that part of the charm of our friendship is that we only hang out from time to time and we can't get tired of each other. *giggle* It works.

So, it's getting dark earlier, colder weather is on the way, and I'm ready for hoodie season. *grin*

Truthfully, I'm even ready to go back to school. This year is SO MUCH BETTER, so I don't dread it like I did last year. I have some amazing little people and look forward to work now. *grin*

I'm blessed by Ronni. She is sixteen, and a lot of fun to be around. I thank God for her often. Weekends like this are worth remembering. Totally. *grin*

By the way, it's worth noting that I'm praying for Texas because of Hurricane Harvey. I could do a whole post, but won't. I'll just say, I'm praying for you, Texas. *grin*

LIFE.
IS.
AWESOME!

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Moment Worth Remembering

So, I am exhausted tonight, but wanted to document something from today because it's worth remembering. *grin* I need to give a little back story first though. One year ago, God gave me three little people who required A LOT. Truthfully, I prayed A LOT this Summer because last year (school year) was my hardest year in teaching. As usual, it wasn't one kid or one thing, it was everything piled on top of another thing on top of another thing on top of another....okay you get the idea. *giggle*

I was given three, and one more was added to the mix in May, meaning I had four students who required A LOT more than I could ever give. He guided me and my co through it the best we could, but we went home tired and I kept praying for strength and guidance. He got me through last year, but gosh a lot of prayers were lifted up so we didn't repeat last year.

Today I saw a GLIMPSE of all those prayers answered.

I had four of my boys, and we've been working through the routines of the room, and I had ALL FOUR KIDS working independently for ten whole minutes!!! I wish I had taken a picture, because that's NEVER happened. Typically I'm dealing with one behavior or another and little was accomplished. Today, all four were doing an activity where they rolled a dice and wrote the matching word with it. *grin*

ALL FOUR AT THE SAME TIME. *grin*

I sat there and silently thanked God for that experience. In education it often takes A LONG TIME to see improvement. In my world it's the little things that add up. Truly.

Ten minutes.

It made my day.

Totally.

Praying for something you're not sure you'll see in the future? KEEP PRAYING. He'll answer it in ways you never expected!

*grin*
LIFE.
IS.
AWESOME...especially in the little things in life. *grin*

Friday, August 18, 2017

Encouragement 101

One of my favorite things this side of Heaven is hearing people encourage one another. I can do it naturally, but the older I get, the more I realize that not everyone has that gift. I am always surprised when some people don't naturally go to encouragement. For some people, it's like focusing on the negative is easier. That makes me sad. However, something I encountered this week encouraged ME in the most unexpected way.

The first few weeks of August are FULL of meetings prior to student arrival. I've been in this district long enough now that I know how things work at this point. That being said, some things still catch me unexpectedly, and it makes me smile. *grin*

For example, one morning we had a staff activity where we all had a chance to drive a school bus. We didn't leave the parking lot, don't worry, but it was SO COOL! I am not wanting to become a bus driver or anything, but I thought it was fun.

So, one morning I had an email to go talk to someone on staff. I made time for it, and was blown away. Out of respect to that person, I'm not going to share content or what specifically was said, but I will say I was smiling inside for the rest of the day. No, it wasn't someone professing their love for me. *giggle* It was someone who took time to see beyond the surface and speak life into my life.

I didn't go looking for it.
I didn't expect it.
But it mattered.
It stopped me in my tracks.

I have pondered what those WORDS did to my heart.

It also reminded me what power I have in kid's lives in regard to encouragement.

I haven't started with kids yet. My students spend the first few days in class learning procedures while I'm preparing and in various trainings. Trust me, I'm excited to start with kids. Totally. *grin* I've missed my little peeps. *grin*

I know I'm good at connecting with kids, and several students want to come to my room because it's a safe place, so it's not like I doubted that. I just forgot what power one conversation can have on the human heart.

God showed me so much in that one conversation this week. I plan to use that conversation to remind me what I can do in the lives of the young people in my life in my classroom.

Sometimes in my classroom I forget that. I have some kids who have walls higher than some airplanes fly. It reminded me though, that one conversation can change a heart. *grin* For some of my young people, it's going to take SEVERAL conversations. However, that one chat changed me this week. Deeply.

I can't wait to be in my routine again. Some things have changed my little corner of the world, and it's clear my prayers this Summer were heard. *grin* I'm so pumped to be back in the routine of kids. It's what He made me to do. *grin*

I plan to remember that one chat for the rest of the school year. Well, after the Solar Eclipse day off. *grin*

I pray I can be the voice in my student's ear, as that person was to me this week.

Thank You, God for the lesson.

*grin*
LIFE.
IS.
BEAUTIFUL. *grin*

Friday, August 11, 2017

Challenge Accepted! *giggle* Things That Make Me Happy!

Last night I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and discovered a post written by Anna, one of the young ladies that served beside me at camp this Summer. In her post, she challenged us to post something that MAKES US HAPPY. I loved the idea, but found myself doing homework last night for school (Jay isn't happy, people!) and didn't get a blog post written. I did post an update with something positive on FB, but wanted to really rise to the challenge in a post. I found myself today, all day, thinking of what makes me happy. If you haven't done it lately, you should. It will make you smile a lot as you think of ALL the things that make you happy. I'm not sure that this will NOT be all-inclusive, but, I have had fun making my list today. *grin* So, here goes. If you have some time, sharing your "Happy" items would be fun to read. I don't feel I can re-challenge a challenge (giggle), but I do hope it encourages you to read my thoughts. If you choose to not read, that's a-ok too. This is more for me than for you! *grin* Anna, EXCELLENT job, young lady. God has some big things in store for you. *grin*

What makes me HAPPY:

Jay-Kind of a no-brainer, but, I know some people aren't on my social media but read this so I thought I'd open wtiih my post from last night. Jay is my four-legged friend that welcomes me home each day, is excited to see me, loves me unconditionally, we never argue, and I can spend money like I want. Yeah, he's my favorite person. (Hahaha!)

The new pod at work. At my school we have classrooms that are connected by accordion walls. This year we have a NEW pod with Special Education in all four rooms. I can't even explain how much I enjoy it already and I'm only three days into it. I truly feel that this year we will all support each other in a really cool way. I am sorry we can't have five rooms, as one of the Sped Teachers is kinda on an island, but I plan to support her the best I can. As I sat there today with our team, I smiled inside. Everyone I work with truly teaches for the kids. I am blessed. Totally. And, we laughed several times today. Love. It.

Books. Yes, it's a no-brainer if you know me, but I LOVE to read. I just found a new author, and am one book into a series. Ahhhhh. I'm so glad I have a Kindle to read on, as so many books are at my fingertips. *grin* Books definitely make me happy.

Pepsi and M&Ms. I know, it's weird to put food, but, this little pair make me happy. Come on, you like food too! *grin*

My House. I love the home I'm in. While I've had a challenge this summer with some things, that's okay. I like this place. It is a very nice place. I am blessed.

CAMP BARNABAS. This should probably be at the top of my list. For two weeks out of the Summer, and sometimes a weekend in the fall and one in the Spring, I get to go to a bubble full of love. Being born with a limp affects me more than I'd like to admit, and it's always nice to go to a world where it's "normal". I never even prayed for a place like Barnabas, but I'm so glad He led me there. You would have to go there to get it, but, it has changed my life. I have experienced a level of love I haven't found anywhere else. Words cannot explain how happy this little camp in Missouri makes me. Truly.

PEOPLE. The older I get, the more I appreciate the people God has placed in my life. I work hard to love those around me, especially the little people in my life. I adore each kid in my life, more than they will ever know. The adults around me are gems too. Each adult in my life won't know how happy they make me, as it would be weird to tell them. But, I know I'm fortunate to be surrounded by such encouraging souls. You can't put a price on that, but, each and every one blesses me. Totally.

My family. I think A LOT about the family I have due to my line of work. Sometimes I wish my parents could give a crash course in parenting, because they did A LOT right. Sure, they had to learn as they went along like everyone does, and I wasn't the easiest kid, but they did an amazing job. *grin*

My brother is also a gem. He's always willing to help or encourage me when I need it. Several years ago I was having a rough patch and outta nowhere he sent me the nicest card. Like, a real card. With a stamp and everything! It's in a scrapbook. He has no idea what that did for me. *grin* And yes, extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents (all in Heaven now) and everything in-between, I KNOW how blessed I am. We're a "no drama" kind of family, and I was blessed that that was normal for me. Every one of my family members makes me happy.

And, Matt, who is in Heaven, I think about everyday. I got to know him when I first moved to Joplin to teach. I miss him more than anyone I've ever lost to Heaven, as he left us way too soon. I think about him daily. Sorry, didn't mean to go sad there, but MATT made me happy. I can still hear his laugh. We enjoyed roller coasters together, and Wildfire was a highlight for me. That truly makes me happy. Yeah, my family. Not perfect, but gosh they make me happy. *grin*

Social Media. Yes, Social Media makes me happy. I spend a fair amount of time, outside of work *grin*, reading my various feeds. I love it, as I get to stay in touch with camp people (one couple got engaged today!), previous chapter people, and current people within my world. It has also been used in my life to support so many people. I am also blessed that I grew up BEFORE social media. I wouldn't want it any other way. That being said, at my age, it makes me happy now. *grin*

T.V. makes me happy. Daily. I know, some hate the electronic box, but it helps me de-stress on a daily basis. I remember the first TV we had as a family when we were in Seminole, Oklahoma. It only had 13 channels, and you had to walk up to it to change the channels. I think that was the beginning of me falling into love with stories. I know, it can be used for bad things, but not for me. I know what makes me happy, and that is all I watch. Minor? Yeah, but I enjoy the choices we have today in TV Land. It does cost $$$ but that's what I work hard for, so it's okay. It makes me happy.

Living in America. If you know me, you know I think ALL THE TIME. I think a lot about how we don't get to choose some things. We don't choose our parents, our skin color, the country we're born in, the body we're given, or the time period we experience this side of Heaven. God (in my opinion) chose those things. I know how good we have it in America. Perfect? GOSH NO. But, I'm free here. That makes me happy. I don't take it for granted, especially the older I get. It makes me happy to live here. *grin*

Music. I love how music can bring a group of people together, or how God can reach me in song in a way I can't express in words. Music is BIG in my world, and it makes me happy several times each day. Music. Something as easy as lyrics and a beat. Some day some guy will realize how easy it is to make me happy. *giggle* Truly. So, yeah, music makes me happy in a deep, personal way. My heart leaps for people who don't have a connection with books or music like I do. Both can make a person incredibly happy in such an individual way. *grin*

I was about to stop this post, but I did want to mention God. It's not that He's at the bottom of my list or anything, (not at all!) I just pray it's something evident in my life and I don't need to mention it. His place in my life has kept me grounded and loved all these years. Yes, He makes me happy daily.

I guess I could easily go on and on. I know some people that thrive on negativity and drama. That's just not me. Do I have rough days? Sure. But, overall I think I'm a happy person with A LOT of good things in my little corner of the world. I like to laugh with the people in my world, and choose to be happy.

I remember when I was growing up, I had an uncle that had an answering machine (It was like voicemail but on a tape, kids. *giggle*) whose outgoing message said, "Make it a great day!" Sounds about right to me. *grin*

So, there ya go. I have accepted Anna's challenge, and hope you enjoyed reading it.

I think I'll go curl up with my book now. You know how happy that makes me. *giggle*

*grin*
LIFE.
IS.
AWESOME!!!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Summer Break is ALLLLMMMMOOOOOSSSSTTTTT Over!

I sit here tonight, knowing that on Wednesday I report back at work. I'll be honest, I've started on my room, but I am pacing myself. Before I know it, I will be seeing kids and back in the swing of things. *grin* I honestly can't wait to see the kids, as I have truly missed them. Truly. Of course, I won't tell them that though. *giggle*

I have spent the past week deep in thought, and am not sure how this post will unfold. If you don't want to read, it's okay, as this is more for me than for you. *grin*

I have spent quite a bit of time in prayer this summer for this school year. At this point, caseloads haven't been determined so I am not 100% sure what this year will look like, but I have a good idea. Last school year was my hardest one in my teaching career. I think it's pretty good to get to year #18 before it was THAT hard.

I have spent some time pondering it all as I have worked in my classroom. I have zero doubt that I'm here in this season for these students. He made me for this, I also know that that means He will equip me for it. Something I heard early on in life to be true is that, "Nothing worthwhile is ever easy."

That statement has proven to be true over and over again in my life. I'm not afraid of hard work, as that's the gig in my line of work. I do miss some aspects that I had in the beginning of my journey in Education to now. I am praying though for a shift. *grin*

This Summer has flown by, and it's been tons of fun. Between Worlds of Fun trips, Bethel, Camp, and Houston, it's been an incredible time of rest. I've loved it!

At the same time, it's time. *grin*

I'm ready to be in a routine again and teaching little people.

Jay's not ready, but we're easing into the routine again. *grin*

I have a feeling that 2017-2018 will be really good. After all, all of my Safe Schools Lessons are done and it's not even teacher work week. *giggle*

My 19th year of teaching. Wow. Feels like it was yesterday, so I plan to make each day count. *grin*

LIFE.
IS.
AWESOME.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Perspectives from Above

Sooooo, normally my vacations each year include Camp Barnabas and Onething. About two weeks ago my friend from college invited me to Houston to see her. I initially said "no, thanks" but then over time, it was clear I was supposed to go. I'm blogging from Houston now, and am SO VERY GLAD I took this trip. I'm also excited that I still have two full days here. *grin*

I'll admit, I was nervous to fly. I can't explain what has happened this summer in the area of heights, but something has changed. When going up high escalators or stairs, I have frozen three times this summer in separate events. This is new because normally stairs don't bother me at all. This Summer I've really had to pray through it, and have made it every time but I can't say it's been easy. It's actually been challenging, and He has had to guide me through it. That being said, I thought flying may mean another freeze. Thankfully, I was WRONG. *grin*

Yesterday, I boarded my first flight in YEARS. I honestly think it was early 2000's when I flew last. Things have changed a smidge since I flew last time. *grin* I knew that, I watch the news, but relied on Scienceguy to guide me through various aspects of the ticket procedures, as well as what to do upon the day of departure. I'll admit it, I was excited and nervous all at the same time. *grin*

So, upon boarding I chose a window seat. I just felt at peace with it, and put some tunes on. (We had a crying baby on the flight right behind me, so I was thankful for the headphones.) I found myself wanting to look out the window. I thought I'd be nervous, but I wasn't. (Thank You Bethel Music Group!) Once up high, I was amazed at what I saw...

It was a beautiful mix of sun, blue, and white clouds in various shapes. In fact, one cloud looked like someone on a throne. It was pretty amazing. We were moving so fast I didn't get a good pic, but it is etched into my memory. It was amazing.

We touched down in New Orleans before making the final leg of the trip to Houston. I unexpectedly found myself HAPPY that we were flying into sunset. It was BEAUTIFUL. I took a pic, it was SO AMAZING.

It made me ponder how little we are and how big He is in the whole grand scheme of things. I can only imagine how He holds the world in the palm of His hands. Being up high showed me how small we are, and it humbled me more than words can explain. *grin*

I even enjoyed both landings, as I got to see what was once small become real size again.

Talk about something that makes you ponder God... It's right up there with babies being born. You can't explain it in words, but it's beautiful.

While up there, I did ponder the families who have lost loved ones in the past 3 years. We've lost some AMAZING people to Heaven. However, if Heaven is what I think it will be, they got the better end of the deal. *grin* I silently prayed for the families that I know that had lost loved ones as teens. Gosh, life can be a challenge in and of itself, then you add losing offspring and I can't wrap my head around how hard that would be this side of Heaven. I felt peace for those who are in Heaven and prayed for those families to have peace too.

Today we got up and went to the Gulf and sat on the beach. Another moment of feeling small in the big scheme of things, but in a good way.

He makes beautiful bodies of water and sunsets. *grin*

Two days left, and I can't wait to see what He has in store for me here.

Blessed.
Totally.
LIFE IS AWAESOME. *grin*



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sharing Life, Barnabas Term 7, 2017

I'm back from the Barn-A-Bubble, and miss it already. Yes, I'm starting this post as if we're mid-conversation because if you're reading this, we're friends. *grin* So, I'm back, and it was a really cool week. The older I get, the more I put emphasis on people rather than items. This week was full of some campers I've had before and others that were new to me. My cabin was incredible, and the missionaries rocked it. I also had a dear friend as a roommate for the week. The Barnabas Bubble is a second home for me. Truly.

Arrival to camp was busy, but good. I was sweating like crazy, and we had record heat last week. I was overheated twice, but made it through fine. *grin* Hey, it made for a memory. *giggle*

I stayed below the dining hall and a fellow cabin Mom moved bunks to be near me for the week. It turned out to be an amazing blessing! While we were in separate cabins to serve in, it was clearly where God had us for the week. It was fun to occasionally bump into each other and encourage each other throughout the week. At the end of the week, she gave me her Crazy Creek (it's a chair) so she could buy a new one. It blessed me immensely, and I loved every minute. I hope we serve together again in the future. *grin*

My cabin...gosh, what a GOOD cabin I was in. I was in G3, which proved to be a gift because it made me walk to a far end of camp. I hope to remember how much better I walk when I walk often and a lot. *giggle* It proved to be good for the body. *grin*

I spoke Saturday night to the volunteers and it went pretty well. I am always honored when I'm asked to speak somewhere because I truly believe part of my story is sharing my story. *grin* At the same time, I never ask to speak anywhere. I've felt like He needs to set things up, so I wait until I'm invited. *grin* So, Saturday night went well. I was humbled and honored to help the volunteers as we went into Term 7.

Term 7 campers have Autism, Down Syndrome, and various other challenges. Campers range from ages 7-17. Typically it is my most draining week physically and emotionally. However, God changed things up this year. For that, I am blessed beyond words. The heat was the hottest I can remember out there, so in that respect I was given a challenge, but the dome provided shade and it wasn't as bad there. *grin*

My cabin was full of volunteers from all over the country. Term 7 has several returners, so that makes it especially fun. I was also with a staffer that I've worked with before. *grin* When I initially found that out, I thought my cabin would be super hard, but it turned out our challenges were different than what I anticipated. We had moments, but not full days of challenge, which made the week really fun. As always, the campers were my main highlight. I think the CP provides an opening for me to speak into their lives. *grin*

We had Claire, who has CP too. I tell ya, she had my heart from the moment I met her. She had a walker but not a wheelchair. She has a limp, but seems more challenged than I am. (Just to give a point of reference, not to seem I'm better than she is or anything) So, when we started our way down to the dining hall for dinner, she was crying and one of my staffers asked me to go get a wheelchair. I did it, and she LOVED the chair. It was a gift from God. Throughout the week she had ups and downs, but my favorite moment with her was swinging on the swing with her outside shirt making. We had so much fun, and it's something I will never forget. *grin* The last night before cross carry, she did my nails. I tell ya, I have one-of-a-kind fingernails. *giggle*

My favorite Claire quote came after Cross Carry, when we were pretending to call Heaven and she held her invisible phone in her hand and said, "Wait, I forgot my password..." I turned around and laughed because I didn't want her to think I was laughing at her. It's another quote I won't forget. *giggle*

I had several returners that I've had in a cabin before, Taylor, Jaylen, and Anika. They made me laugh at various parts of the week, and my goal was to reach Jaylen.

Jaylen is a younger version of me in so many ways. She isn't girly, enjoys sports, and gives off the impression she can't be reached emotionally. In all honesty, I think she loved my attention. Early in the week Jaylen told me she was a YouTuber and had a million followers. I've come to learn that with kids, sometimes the crazy things turn out to be true so I asked during family time that night if it was legit. A few kids said they go to school with her and she really does have a Youtube channel. So, the next day I asked if I could subscribe to her channel. She said no, that only fans that give her gifts can subscribe. *giggle* In reality, I knew that I could follow her without her permission, but I thought it would be a fun thing to get her consent. I also shared with her that I only subscribe to like 5 youtube channels, and she said that was enough. *giggle* I would drop it when I knew she didn't want me to bug her about it. So, Thursday night I gave her a water bottle (I had brought extras in case people lost theirs) and a journal with a basketball on it. She gave me the water bottle back, as she said she already had one. Later on that day, she asked me (out of nowhere) how I knew she liked basketball. I told her someone told me she played basketball in Special Olympics. She smiled. Day made for both of us, I think. *grin*

Emmy....gosh, Emmy I had had before, but I don't remember much about her because when we were in the same cabin before we had campers who required my help more than she did. So, this week was pretty cool. I made a point to spend time with her and we had fun. Emmy taught me a lot, as she is a woman of few words but is always worth hearing when she does speak. She made me a bracelet with string, and I posted a pic right away. That proved to really bless Emmy, and I knew in the moment how special it was for us. *grin*

Sarah was a gem, and it wasn't until closing day that I realized how much fun she can be. She is wheelchair bound, and didn't want to do much, but she was funny in that occasional joke way. I liked her. On the last morning of camp I always go around the dining hall and take selfies. I do my cabin first, and then do random friends from there. Apparently Sarah was laughing while I did it. She told me later when we were waiting for parents to arrive that she thought I was funny. I smiled inside and out. Sarah is a gem, and I truly hope we're in a cabin together again. *grin*

Alyssa is a camper I have had a couple times in a cabin, and I adore her. She wasn't in my cabin this Term, but every time she saw me, we cuddled. I adore that girl. At one point my legs were numb because of how Alyssa was laying on me, and her staffer asked if I was okay and wanted to give her up. I told her that my legs were numb, but one week from then I'd be missing it. It took less than a week, I miss her already. *grin*

The teens in my cabin that volunteered were some of the best I've ever seen. It is my prayer that some of them go on to be staffers. They were THAT good. Not once did I think that someone was slacking, which was fun. I loved each and every one of them, and was thankful that He gave each of them to us because everyone was perfectly matched. So. Good.

There were some amazing barnstormers that worked hard too. I am always in awe of the kids that come and clean camp for us, among other responsibilities. Several took time to talk to me, since I spoke Saturday night. It made for some neat friendships. I'm glad I got pics with them, as I don't want to forget them. *grin*

My staffers were amazing. One is going to change the world of Special Education, and the other will be a rock star SPED teacher because she has such a passion for students with disabilities. While I realize this was probably their last full session there, it was so amazing to serve alongside them. Their future students are blessed by the hearts they have for people. *grin*

Perhaps the most impacting moment for me came from a camper that wasn't even in my cabin named Lauren. Due to some circumstances that were shared with me, I knew that the camper (Lauren) wasn't relating to her missionary. So, God gave me a heart for her. She was at the table next to mine, and she is non-verbal. However, she clearly knows sign language, and when I started signing with her, we connected. She smiled big and made me grin too. While she never spoke a word, we had several "chats" through our physical communication. At one point I was mirroring what she was doing and she thought that was the neatest thing. I'll admit, the non-verbal campers always teach me the most, and Lauren definitely taught me a lot in our short "chats". I also got a pic with her too. Gosh, Barnabas isn't just for the campers, it impacts ALL of us for the better. *grin*

A different Lauren, a friend of several years, was at camp this week, which shocked me. She's a Term 4 gal, and I didn't expect to see her. As it turned out, she was interning for two weeks. So, every chance I had, I went over and said "Hi" to her. Perhaps my favorite moment was Saturday night when she saw me at training. I could hear her before I could see her, and my heart was so HAPPY. While I never feel as if I have had enough time with Lauren, the moments with her were priceless to me. Totally. *grin*

Each night at family time (after the campers go to bed, we talk about various things outside sitting in a circle) we shared our highs, lows, and what showed us the love of God that day. It was called, "Junk, Joy, Jesus". I loved the phrase, and think I'll use it in my classroom this year. *grin* Well, not the Jesus part (public school and all), but the Junk and Joy part. *grin*

I wish I could take everyone I know out there. It is an amazing place where EVERYONE (not just THE campers) are treated the way we should be treated this side of Heaven. People jump in and help without even being asked. It's amazing to be in that bubble. *grin* Leaving the bubble is a little hard, but I know that we're to go out of that place and carry on what we did there. After all, we are all called to be living proof of a loving God to a watching world. *grin*

On my drive home I saw Ronni. Ronni did the lake this year so she didn't come Term 7. I'll admit, I missed her tons. It was a visit that lasted about an hour, and it was perfect. I love that young lady. Totally.

On my way North I stopped and chatted with a friend for a few hours too. To me, that was a perfect ending to the trip, as that chat is something that you can't put money on. I love pondering life, love, and Jesus with people. Truly.

I think that's my biggest take away this Summer. People mean more to me than items, and each and every conversation was priceless. Every one of them.

Sometimes experiences are hard to describe, but, I can tell you that the love in that camp changes everyone.

I'm blessed to be a part of that Barnabas family.

*grin*
LIFE.
IS.
AWESOME.