Saturday, September 17, 2016

Brave--Camp, Song, and Re-Entry

Wow! Life has been so busy lately I haven't made time to blog about some amazing things I've been experiencing and learning lately. School is in full mode again, and life is moving along pretty fast. I want to stop and reflect on things before I head into next week, which will be full of new experiences that change my life too. *grin*

So, one week ago Thursday I left home for Brave Gal Camp. It was my church's women's retreat, and I was nervous and excited all at the same time. It was just outside of Joplin, in Quapaw, Oklahoma at a retreat center that is a camp-like setting. Before we left they talked about cabins and such, so I wasn't sure how much we would be roughing it. *grin* Come to find out, we didn't rough it at all. We were in rooms that were dorm-style, and I was pretty much blown away by the whole setup of the place.

It reminded me so much of camp, but I was a camper. *giggle* Obviously, it wasn't Barnabas, but it was fun to go and be ministered to for a couple days. I didn't have ANY responsibilities, and it was fun to laugh, worship, and play games with some amazing women of God. I didn't get close to any one gal, but I got to know several of the women's life stories, which meant the world to me.

It was one of those weekends where words can't describe the things I thought and felt. I can say I feel closer to God than I've felt in a while. For that, I feel differently then I did before September 8. *grin* That meant more to me than you will ever know.

The song, "You Make Me Brave" by Amanda Cook, has kind of been my theme song for the past year, so it was an amazingly impactful weekend for me. It was so amazing that the retreat theme was Brave during a season when I needed just that. Fear has been a constant for me in my life, so to gain knowledge and perspective on being brave daily made me grin. So good. *grin*

Do. It. Scared.
My favorite new phrase that I gained from the weekend. *grin*

They talked about re-entry on Saturday morning, and how it can be rough. This is so true because every time I've had an amazing mountain-top experience, I've had some challenges coming back. However, we prayed over it several times, and I had the best re-entry ever.

When I walked in my classroom this week, one of the little guys I serve ran up to me and put his arms around me. He held on, I won't ever forget that, how he held on when he hugged me. For me, that was a reminder that even though this school year is hard, I'm supposed to be there. I didn't doubt that, but sometimes God gives me those nudges to encourage me. That's what that hug meant.

The week was full of other events, good and bad. However, it was smoother because of the weekend at Brave Gal Camp. This coming weekend I have a conference at my friend's church in Springfield. Truthfully, it's hard to miss work, but it will be worth it.



Thank You, God.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Labor Day Weekend Highlights

I realize we have one more day of the weekend, and I LOVE THAT!


I adore my students, and feel incredibly blessed to have the job that I do. At that same time, this weekend I have done a lot of relaxing and I wanted to take a moment tonight and share a few thoughts.

First off, I am hosting a YWAM family for the week. They are here for the conference held here in KC. We have mutual friends who got us in touch with one another, and I am so glad they're here! It's a married couple with three little girls. Oh my gosh, Jay loves the girls! Totally! It is so cute!

There is a two year old that Jay lets do just about anything to him. I have to laugh, as I love kids anyway and you add my dog, and it's so fun.

When I moved here, I wanted to host like this, but over time I have hosted less and less. I prayed over this family, as I was a little nervous, but not too nervous. I knew it would be fine, and it is a blessing to have them here. Truly.

I also REALLY enjoyed church today. I didn't teach, which I did miss, but I enjoyed both Sunday School and service as an adult. The sermon today was exceptionally good, and made me proud to go to church there. Truly.

I also came home and napped. The family was out and about, and I just rested for a while. It was nice. Extremely nice. This will be a busy week, so the rest is wonderful.

Finally, I have just been in deep thought this weekend about some young people that went to Heaven in the past few months. I also think of my second cousin a lot who is also in Heaven. I don't know, I think as the seasons change, I am more in thought about the fragility of life. So many young people went home before I would have chosen them to do so. At the same time, I know He called them there. It simply doesn't make it easier for those of us here. I'm not sure what emotion is in my head, but I just know I've been thinking a lot about them. Those young people may be gone, but they're certainly not forgotten.

Okay, time to take Jay and my book to bed. This whole early bedtime thing is still an adjustment for me. Not bad, just an adjustment. :-)

One more day off. What can I say?


Friday, September 02, 2016

Thoughts From One Tired Gal

Wow, it's hard to believe it's taken so long to blog. Life got busy again when I arrived home from Barnabas, and this is the first time I've sat down to blog. I have several small thoughts, and I'm tired, so this will be an interesting post.

School started and I've been running from the moment I'm up until it's time to sleep. I don't mind working hard, that's normal for this time of year. This year has had some ups and downs, but I can't even tell you how happy I am this year to have the amount of support that I do from the staff I'm on. No matter what happens, I know I have amazing support. I am blessed. *grin*

I am amazed at what He's called me to this semester. I have never thought of myself as a teacher of students with Behavioral Challenges. I am typically a teacher that serves students who struggle with reading, writing, and math. Yes, there are behaviors here and there, but this semester I feel like I'm in the advanced class with behaviors. He has given me words and wisdom at times, and crises have been decreased. I have moments where I want more help, truly, but He is giving me what I need to walk out each day. He even gave me a radio to ask for help, if needed. I've used it from time to time, but I KNOW that God has given me each of those students. So the tiredness, and hard work are worth it. Daily.

I have some new kids who have stolen my heart. I love that each year brings returners and new kids. I love how God makes each of us different, yet perfectly crafted in His eyes. So good.

One week ago tonight I attended a concert with my brother. We took a stroll down memory lane, as several artists from our teen years were present. It was a lot of fun, even if I didn't always show it. We were both exhausted from the work week, but it was fun.

The ride home was one I won't forget, as we were under a flood warning. It took me over an hour to get home (normally it's about 25 minutes) and I turned around more than once due to high water. I will NEVER AGAIN take it for granted when I make it home without trouble. Never. I take so much for granted. Truly.

I'm still adjusting to work hours, but I'm getting there. This whole early morning stuff is for the birds, but I love what I do, so it's a bittersweet thing. *grin*

We have a three-day weekend, and we all have earned it. Totally.

I plan to read.



And yes, schoolwork somewhere in there.

Tonight though, I think I'll sleep until I wake up in the morning. *grin*


Thursday, August 04, 2016


I've had a post rolling around in my head, and wonder how it will come out into words. Let's just see...

A few years ago I was in Physical Therapy for the first time since I was a kid. In the midst of it, I developed a bunion on a foot, which led to a need for special shoes. I do not regret the P.T., as I now have better balance than before I entered it. The only downfall has been that the new shoes I have been buying cost quite a bit of money. Don't get me wrong, I have the money (not rich, but make decent money) to buy them, but it has been a bummer when I've needed new shoes because it kept me from buying other things like BOOKS. *giggle*

In the midst of the shoe shopping online for the cheapest shoe, I came across a company that had other, similar shoes that cost less. I've tried this several times before, and it hasn't worked out. However, I started getting catalogs in the mail, and I found a shoe I wanted to try.

I ordered a pair, and guess what?


I'm not joking or over-exaggerating.

I wore them all day yesterday, and wound up ordering another pair last night since school starts soon and I will need new shoes.

Words cannot express what a relief this has been for me.


All day today I've been so thankful that He made a way for me to find these shoes.

I know, I know, some women spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on shoes. They even ENJOY spending their hard-earned money on shoes. That's awesome. We all have our favorite little things.

For me, it's been books.

NOT shoes.

However, I can buy 3 pairs of the new shoes for the price of one pair of the other shoes.

Now, you may be sitting there going, "So what?"

For this gal, shoes haven't always been a joyous thing. Not horrid, but not joyous either.

When you live life with a limp (literal, not figurative) shoes are pretty important. *grin*

I don't mind the limp.

Or the money.

The reason I'm posting this (and it's more for me than you, as always) is because something as simple as shoes has made me really happy. Not only do they fit, but they are comfortable and give me more support than the other shoes that I was paying big bucks for. *grin*

I know people who have 30 or 50 or more pairs of shoes.

However, I'm not a girly girl, in case you haven't noticed. *grin*

So, I now have new shoes, glasses, and will do clothes shopping this weekend online.

School is about here, and I'm about to tell you a secret....

I'm EXCITED for school to start.

Don't tell the kids. *grin*

New shoes...yes, it is that easy to make me happy.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bridge Builders, Camp Barnabas, 2016, It's Fine, We're Fine, So Fine

I just returned from another amazing week at Camp, and want to write all I can before I forget. Unfortunately, growing older means forgetting things a little more often. *giggle* This week was full of a range of emotions. I don't think I can convey the feeling of being there, as it's something you need to experience. However, I blog more for me than for you (as I've said before).

Camp weeks are amazing because it's time away from the real world. I love to call it the Barna-Bubble. I will share the moments that meant the world to me, and if you asked someone else in the cabin it could be completely different. That's cool. I can only write through my eyes, as I experienced it.

It doesn't matter how many times I've been there (and at this point I've lost count), every week is different. Different cabins, campers, staffers, and experiences. I no longer go into it with expectations other than it will be led by God, and He will guide us through each situation. He hasn't let me down in all the weeks I've spent there. Not even once. Every situation may fall differently than I think it should, I always see why later in the week. ALWAYS. *grin* I love that.

So, here goes. I have no idea what this is going to look like, I just want to write. *giggle*

Saturday it was HOT. Arrival meant I sweat more in that 90 minutes (stations training) than I think I have all Summer. My thought was, "Well, I'll lose weight this week." I did too, as I lost two pounds this week. I think walking everywhere AND having limited eating times helped. The walk to the cabins Saturday felt like a lot, but by the end of the week I wasn't panting at all. *giggle* Camp is good for me to build up my legs that had been on the couch most of the Summer. *giggle*

Camper Card time is when the Missionaries choose their camper for the week. I am always a little late because of adult intro meeting, but it is a favorite part for me. I get to meet the young ladies I'll serve beside for the week AND I get to see what campers I will work with too. It was at this time, I saw that I would have Becca and Alyssa again. I was PUMPED to see that! I didn't recognize any of the other campers, but I started praying immediately about Becca and Alyssa. They aren't mean, they just require extra support, so prayer is good. *giggle*

I spoke at IP after camper cards, which was a first for me. I have prayed for YEARS for this, and it was mentioned Term 1 to me from one of the key leaders in the ministry. I prayed over it, and through various messages with the wife of the leader, I knew I'd be speaking that night. The bonus to speaking at IP during Volunteer Arrival night, is that it's dark. They could kinda see me with the light, but, I could only see about the first two rows. I will be honest, I loved it. I haven't listened to it, (I recorded it) but, God used it in so many cool ways.

The coolest part was that a lot of the young ladies wanted to talk to me about becoming a Special Educator. I had prayed that God would use it, and He clearly did. I also had several compliments, but the other bonus was that only once was I accused of being a camper this time. I did a head tilt when a barnstormer said, "you can't be back here" in regard to the kitchen, and at the time I thought he was absent when I spoke. Later, I found out it was hard to hear me in the back so I gave the kid a pass. *giggle* Actually, I did my usual, "it's okay, I have special permission, I have a special diet." He was good with that. Yea!

Training was good. Training is sometimes long, but I will say that Barnabas staff does a good job of trying to make it fun even through serious training topics. It was also helpful that this time I slept under the dining hall, so I was blessed immensely. *grin* I'll spare you the various challenges for us in other parts of camp. *giggle*

Camper arrival was a blast, as I got to see ALL the campers arrive and of course Ronni came! I'll admit, I invited myself to ride through camp with them. Words cannot describe how good it was to see the entire family! I also didn't realize how much I missed Ronni until that moment. Life is AWESOME with her in it. *grin*

After Ronni got out, I did too. I headed to my cabin and one of my former missionaries was walking with her camper who was hitting her. She looked at me and asked for help. So, I helped get her to her cabin. When we got there, the young camper hit me in the back. My thought was, "Term 7".

Term 7 will always have a special place in my heart. Totally.

As the week went on, I realized how much of Term 7 feels like family to me. The same volunteers return year after year, which is amazing when you think about the population of campers who come. Some (NOT ALL) of them hit, kick, and pinch hard. The teens learn how to love when the campers may not be easy to love. That is precious to me. *grin*

In our cabin, we had so much happen that made the week special.

We had each missionary perfectly placed with the right camper. Week after week I have observed that. It always works out, and I love that.

I also love how God takes 12-14 people who don't even know each other, and within a week can't imagine how they didn't know each other beforehand. That's so precious to me.

We had five campers that became precious friends. For lack of better words, they are higher functioning, and it led to some precious friendships. I love that, as that's part of what camp is about. They did archery, rifles, fishing, and canoes, among other activities. How cool is that? They had a blast. I didn't go to any of those activities because I was helping with the other campers, but, I was so glad those five could go experience those activities.

Alyssa was a camper I've had before and words cannot explain how we connected years ago because she is non-verbal. Alyssa is a camper with Angelman's Syndrome. The cool thing is that we've continued our connection and we cuddled tons this week. Touch is clearly her love language, so she would often sit with me, then get up and go do things with her missionary. Next thing I would know, she'd be back to cuddle again. She will always have a special place in my heart. Truly. *grin*

Becca was another one I've had before, and I truly love her. She isn't a lovable, touchy kind of gal. Actually, space is best for her. I took two squirt bottles with me, in case I had her again. I would have given them to whoever had her as that saved us last year, so it was cool I had her again. *giggle* I will openly admit, it took a lot of work to support her sufficiently, but I am so very glad I got to see her growth in the past year. She can do more by herself than she could last year. She's smart, but she is probably misunderstood a lot. She has autism and can be violent, but she wasn't with me. (She was with others though) The coolest part was that no one ever gave up. We just loved her the best we knew how in each situation. The last night of camp, Cross Carry was too much for her so I stayed with her and the staffer in the cabin. Becca did well, and I was proud of her. There were some hard moments, but there were some other moments that I won't forget. Like, she loved to spray us with the bottle. She also loved music, and I gave up my phone and bluetooth speaker to help her throughout the week. It was a stretch at times not to have my phone, but it was even more of a blessing to know that a camper was being helped with something I had. The teens gave theirs up, so being off the grid was good for me. Yeah, I checked and posted here and there, but it was good not to be latched to my phone. I hope to take that knowledge and apply it to the real world. The bubble wasn't as hard as it would be here. But then again, I don't think it should be. *giggle*

I also won't forget Becca's language: Eatey, drinky, foodie, cabinee, beddee, and she would occasionally use the F word. It's one of a kind, but gosh I love her more than I ever thought I could. Her missionary was upset from time to time, and I would hold her and pray with her. I tell ya, I love those teens just as much as those campers. Seriously.

That leaves Leah. Leah also has Angelman's, and is also non-verbal. She required extra help too, and her missionary was amazing. I also prayed with her in the beginning of the week while she cried at first. She did great though, and I was so proud of her and the floater who helped quite a bit with her. *grin*

Leah pulled hair a lot, but it was a game for her most of the time. I had a little red and blue ball with me, and tried to make a game out of it so that she wouldn't pull hair. It worked for the most part. She didn't pull mine as much, but then again I wasn't with her as much as Alyssa. I also have short hair, so it wasn't as fun for her. *giggle*

The missionaries and staffers blew me away this week. There's typically one that leaves me going, "help her more than the others", but I didn't feel that at all. When someone would say, "I need a third" (because we can't be alone with a camper EVER) many of the girls would step up and volunteer. We were all tired, but we all gave it our best every step of the way. It was amazing to see this cabin come together for the girls. It was priceless.

Becca loved the song "Call Me Maybe." If I never hear that song again, that will be fine for me. However, it was worth it to see Becca happy.

"That's my shirt" became a favorite saying throughout the cabin with Caroline, and it always made me smile.

I'm exhausted now, but loved camp. Every moment of it.

I may type more later.

Term 7 is done.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Matt Wood-A Celebration of Life

This afternoon I went to a Celebration of Life Service.

For those of you close to me, this isn't anyone in my family. There are family members with the last name "Wood" that I'm related to, but this isn't that family. This is a family that I know from here in Lee's Summit.

The man, Matt Wood, was a parent of five beautiful kids, and has an incredibly strong wife in the Lord. I'll be honest, I'm not close to this family, but I care for the family as if I were related to them.

You are probably wondering why...

It's because Matt had a 3.5 year battle with Cancer.

I hate Cancer. Period.

I don't hate one human on this planet, but I do hate Cancer.

I spent a lot of time in prayer for Matt and his family, and he wound up in Heaven this past Sunday morning. On one hand, my heart breaks for his family. On the other hand, he's out of pain, agitation, and stress. I prayed for him to get relief and full recovery this side of Heaven, but, He had other ideas.

The service today was really good. There was a lot of singing, which blessed me because I love music. It's not about me, but I just thought I'd throw that in there. *grin*

One of my favorite parts of services like the one I was at today is getting to know the person we are celebrating better. I will be upfront and say I didn't know Matt well. With that being said, I loved the slideshow they shared, as well as the stories told.

A lot of good has come out of this whole experience, which is a blessing. The pastor shared several, but I want to share a few. The first is that I've gotten to see, via Social Media, how caring people can be. In a Summer full of so much junk, it's so cool to see SO MANY caring people. I watched people encourage Kacy, the Mother of this family, in so many different ways. I noticed that she's had a lot of good friends and family around her this Summer, which made my heart happy. She's far from alone in this new chapter of their lives. God set that up. It also made me smile more than once as I prayed throughout this season for them.

After the service today, the line to hug the family was LONG. I wasn't surprised. Thankfully, Lee's Summit is full of amazing people, and they were loved very well.

The moment that will forever live in my heart is when I walked up to one of the kids in the family. Some of the kids have gone through the school I teach at, so I walked up to the one that I've talked to the most. He had tears in his eyes, and I wasn't sure what to say. So, I said, "I know I don't know you real well, and you don't need to hug me if you want, if you want to shake my hand, it's okay." I was about to say something else, and he immediately hugged me. I held on as long as he wanted me to hang on. I just silently prayed. I could have prayed out loud, but I felt a hug was the best encouragement in that moment. I'll forever remember that, truly. I wish it had been under other circumstances, but death is one of the experiences we have this side of Heaven.

I'm not going to stop praying for the Wood family. Their new normal will be challenging, but with Him in their lives, as well as their amazing family and friends, they will be fine.

Matt was an amazing father, and I know that his family will live out life this side of Heaven in a way that will make him proud.

I'm blessed to get to be beside them (with one child still at my school) as they walk out this season. I pray I can continue to encourage them in the days to come.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What I'm Thinking....Transparency Here....

I've got a gazillion thoughts running around in my head. Sometimes I start to blog and then I hit save and close out. This may be one of those posts. The past two weeks have been, well, historical in our lives. I've been deep in thought and have thought about writing a lot. Then I decide to simply read a book.

As I've shared before, I love to read and enter my little bubble away from the world.

However, I think it's healthy to write. So here goes...

I've been an observer of a lot of things the past two weeks.

I watch.

I think a lot, and my mind actually runs ALL THE TIME.

I have wondered how much of our society knows how to deal with negative emotions the right way. I think about my Grandparents a lot. I don't talk much about them, but I think about them a lot. I don't see that generation taking out their emotions the way we're seeing in our society today. I could be way off, and that's fine, I'm just wondering...

My Grandparents were old souls, and that's part of what I loved about them. They were deep thinkers, and when I was in college I was blessed to get to sit down with them and talk with them about their lives. Yes, it was for college reports, but gosh I look back now and am so thankful for those talks. Truly.

I can remember a conversation with my Grandpa where I was expressing a desire for something that was a WANT, not a NEED, and he made a statement like, "You can live without it."


So true.

The older I've gotten, the more I've been deep in thought. I think that goes with age. Or at least that's what I tell myself. *grin*

I've seen so much in our world in the past two weeks that breaks my heart. So many lives ended.

Have people lost the value of life?

We get one life this side of Heaven, and people are shooting each other like it's a video game where you can re-start when you die.

That saddens me.

I consider myself a fairly intelligent gal (and humble, can't forget that!) and I realize guns aren't the problem.

We have a person/emotion/value of life, problem.

I recently watched a family slowly watch a family member die from Cancer. It was a slow, painful thing to watch, and if it was up to that Cancer patient, he would have been cured and would still be here for his family. God had other ideas.

Meanwhile, almost everyday we are now hearing of mass shootings. People who kill other people and then (most often) die in the shootout.

You don't have to tell me their logic. I get it.

Just because a person CAN do something doesn't mean they should!

I watched a video of one of the people responsible for taking lives who said that the only successful thing is to take out lives, that protesting doesn't work.


That makes no sense to me.

But, the thing is, I think in all of the minds of the shooters, it all makes perfect sense.

I saw an interview on TV last Spring from a parent who was INCREDIBLY scared that her child would be one to cause a mass shooting. (It was on TV, in a town far away from here) When she asked her child why he focused on mass shootings, his response was, "...I want people to feel the pain I feel..."

Hmmmmm. Somewhere in that person's mind, it makes rational sense.

At the same time, the people he wanted to harm didn't even know him, or his pain. The logic doesn't work for me.

Now, let me put your mind at ease, that parent has the child in 24/7 care. She knew she needed help, and I applaud her for that. She has probably saved a lot of lives. I pray more parents who see red flags will do the same thing.

At the same time, I sit here and value each day like Gold. I think age does that, it makes you appreciate life because you see others (whether I know them or not) that are not given the opportunity to grow old. Therefore, each day I open my eyes, I think God for another day. However, I realize I may not end my day here on Earth. My cousin's passing last year taught me that. He woke up one morning, but didn't return home from work due to a car accident. That has changed me.

I've also pondered the killers, and CANNOT IMAGINE being responsible for taking someone else's life. That goes against everything within me. However, those people do it and make it seem easy. I don't ever want to have that mindset. That's beyond sad.

So, this past Sunday, my church had a panel. I loved that, because I think society needs to change, and it all begins with conversations. I've been deep in thought about that panel, that was made up of a range of ethnicities. I've also thought about what my pastor shared.

He stated that we all have a different narrative that we bring to the (proverbial) table. That wasn't new to me. I have thought that for years. However, he took it a step further and shared that due to our narratives, we see life differently. That is SO VERY true.

Each person on the panel got to share a small portion of their narrative, and there were two lines that have had me deep in thought this week...

One was something like, When something happens we immediately jump to color of skin, when we should really jump to love.
I LOVED THAT! It won't surprise you that our congregation applauded after that comment. The guy who shared that is so right!

We have seen glimpses of that too. In Dallas after those officers were shot, the communities came together to support the police departments. I LOVED THAT. I could name other instances, but I want to move on to my other point.

The speaker explained the Black Lives Matter Movement (B.L.M.) in a way that made me understand it a little more, and brought home the idea that we REALLY NEED TO TALK TO EACH OTHER. The media has been so divisive, when we need to simply turn off our electronics and talk. Anyway, here's how he explained it...

He said it's like on your street you have ten homes, and one is on fire, so the fire truck goes there to help for that time. It isn't that the other 9 aren't important, it's just that that one needs support right now. That's what the beginning of the BLM movement was about. The individuals with black skin felt they need extra support right now. And, I get that.

Due to the VERY SMALL PERCENTAGE of cops that have made alleged, questionable decisions, people with black skin are scared. My heart leaps for them because I don't know what that's like, and they didn't chose their skin color.

I do have a theory though, I think God gives us each what He knows we can handle. Sometimes we need His help, but we're given the body that He has for us. Yes, that's my theory, and you're welcome to disagree with it. However, I do believe that each person is given the tools to navigate life this side of Heaven.

As someone said Sunday, that free will thing is what changes things.

At the same time, Free Will is what has the power to make us great people. Hang with me here, this post gets more positive...

I'm not perfect, and have made mistakes. I've just never been hurt to the point I thought killing a person is the answer. That's my narrative.

I wish our Mental Health system was stronger, but it is what it is.

In the meantime, I will pray. Fervently.

I have friends of all ethnicities.

I have friends that are police officers.

I also know that violence doesn't solve anything.


However, I have seen prayer work.

Over and over again I have prayed into things and changes have occurred. Now, I'm not saying I'm some super prayer person, I'm simply stating that I've seen God move at that sound of my voice.

I don't feel that I'm in a hopeless world.

I feel that He made us for a time such as this. I may not like what I'm seeing, but I will help be part of the solution.

I'll start by praying.

Life is good, even though it seems hard right now.

I'll also head to bed with my book in hand, because I also think it's healthy to escape reality for a while with a good book. *giggle*