Saturday, August 14, 2021

Summer 2021-Progress Takes Time

When I was a kid I took bowling lessons. Yes, bowling lessons. We moved the Summer before my 8th grade year to Lawrence, Kansas and school was already out of session. And, we were in a new neighborhood with only a handful of kids to play with, so we wound up taking bowling lessons and joining a league. I LOVED it!  At the end of the Summer we got our own ball and bag. Over the years I have bowled from time to time, but not like that Summer. 

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this, and I have two stories to share that speak to the lesson I've re-learned this summer.

PROGRESS TAKES TIME.

In April I was asked if I'd like to join a bowling team and play in a league. I knew I was rusty but figured it would all come back in time. Little did I know what was coming. *grin*

The first night I bowled 52 and wondered why I agreed to play. *grin* I have more pounds on my body and have to think about balance more now than I did then. 

52.

Over the Summer we played 3 games every Thursday night. With the exception of camp, I was present each week. Over the summer my average has gone up to 71. We end the Season this coming Thursday. I have had one high game of 117.  

Each week I made more friends and improved a little bit. 

It's been fun and we are going to do a fall/spring league too. *grin*

You're thinking, okayyyyyyy that's cool but what else have you got? *grin*

Three years ago in May I agreed to kid-sit a boy with Autism one afternoon per week. I had a connection with the kid, and thought it would be fun. The first day he came to my house, he didn't want to leave his car because of my dog, Jay. I didn't understand why anyone would be scared of Jay. Little did I know that it was the beginning of an adventure.

When I say he was scared of Jay, I mean, he didn't want to be on the floor when Jay was in the same room. He was worried Jay would bite him. He would go into full meltdown if he even suspected Jay was near him. When I moved into my apartment he had to be on the kitchen table because that was the only way he felt safe. 

Over the past three years, we've talked about his fear of Jay from time to time, but I didn't push. I just felt like it would happen in time. I even wondered if it would ever happen because of how big his emotions are around dogs. Then today happened. *grin*

Today we got here and we did our usual routine. I looked at him and said, "What are you going to do when you're too big for the table."  He said something like, "You're going to teach me how to not be scared anymore."  I paused when he said it, but didn't make a big deal out of it. On one hand, he had never said that before. On the other hand, if I made it a thing it may not happen.

So, he spent the afternoon on the table. Jay did his usual thing, and honestly could have cared less that someone else was here in the apartment. He comes and goes from my lap all the time and it wasn't a thing at all. 

About 5pm my friend with Autism said he wanted to go. I said okay and was about to get up and put shoes on and my friend asked me to hold Jay on the floor. I did it, not expecting much. I've never seen anyone as scared as this young man was around Jay. So I thought I'd take what I could get. What happened next is what I'll always remember.

My friend had me hold Jay by the collar while he put his shoes on. Then, he wanted to pet Jay. So, we did that for a little while and then he said to let Jay be free. I was so excited I wanted to scream, but I played it cool. Eventually he had me move the kitchen table and was fine with Jay being free without me holding him. I even had to use the restroom and offered to put Jay outside while I did that, and my friend said to leave him in the living room. So, while I was in the restroom privately doing my business, Jay was with my friend and both of them did GREAT!

I can't tell you how much fun it was to see the young man smile and say he was being "brave". *grin*

Three years it took for us to get here, with boy and dog as friends and fear was eliminated. *grin*

I think so often we want progress to happen NOW. And yes, God can do miracles in a moment. I've seen it. In my own life though, progress has taken time.

I watched a kid conquer his fear of dogs today and this Summer I've gotten better at a sport I am loving again. 

Progress takes time and that's okay.

We live in a culture where we want things immediately. But, progress takes time and that's okay.

Whether you're getting better at a sport, facing a fear, or something else, I hope this inspires you.

Take your time, sometimes the greatest lessons are in the process that it takes to get there. *grin*

For now, I'll smile at the victory the young man had today.

So if you're striving for something, don't lose heart. Give it time, you'll get there.

*grin*

LIFE.

IS.

AWESOME!



Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Legends Week, Term 1, Camp Barnabas 2021

CAMP BARNABAS thoughts and feelings....

Last year was hard for me because they had to cancel Camp Barnabas for the whole summer due to the pandemic. It was the right decision. Camp is full of hugs, physical contact (appropriate, of course), and sharing living quarters. As we all know by now, it would have been a super spreader event of the CaronaVirus last year. While I was bummed last year, I knew it was the right thing to do. TOTALLY.  

At the same time, the Pandemic changed our world for the better out at camp.  *grin*  Let me explain.

While our Barnabas family was at home and safe last Summer, some amazing things were able to be built out at camp that would have been a challenge if we had had camp. 

For the first time in two years, I went out to Camp last week for Legends Week, Term 1.  It was the first full term since the pandemic. There is SO MUCH I want to share about it.  *grin*

First of all, THEY PUT IN A LAKE! Yes, a lake. *grin*  While it was too cold for me to swim, and a lot of my cabin felt the same way, some of my cabin swam and did the canoes. You might not understand the significance of the lake unless you've been there. To go canoeing and fishing prior to this, was a SUPER LONG walk to the creek with LOTS of steps. It also lacked a bathroom. *ugh* I dreaded canoeing and fishing out there due to the walk and lack of facilities out there.  So for me, THE LAKE IS SUPER COOL last week. They added several areas of outdoor furniture and the canoe/fishing area was super cool too. *grin* My cabin went twice, Missionary Arrival Day, and one day for Open Activity Time Slot (OATS). While it was a little chilly, it was a nice time and it's located conveniently in relation to the cabins. As we spent time at the lake, I thanked God for Barnabas being closed last Summer so that they could make additions like this one. Of course, I'm not glad we had a pandemic, but to see a little GOOD come out of it made me smile. *grin*

They also added picnic tables throughout camp, and other outdoor furniture as well. It made me smile. I know it was so that we could have spaced out cabin events, but, I liked it just because it gave some of us somewhere to sit without needing help getting up. *giggle*

They also added a GAME ROOM where the shed was located. I never did get in the game room, but I'm returning to camp in July so I will see it then. *grin*  They also have rocking chairs on the porch of the Game Room building. Again, it looks great and we needed some new things out at camp. *grin*

You know what else they added? SEVERAL Golf Carts. Now, if you haven't been out to camp, you don't know the lay of the land. There are A LOT of hills and a lot of steps in a day. We've had golf carts out there before, but, not for campers or volunteers, just for staff. This year?  We had SEVERAL golf cart rides last week. It was a gift. My new summer dream job is to be a golf cart driver at camp.  *giggle* Seriously, think of how much fun that would be!  *giggle*  Yes, even the golf carts were a gift this year. I mean, people with mobility challenges given rides instead of walking everywhere is a gift. *giggle*

Another welcome change was how they cleared out the woods behind cabins G1, G2, and G3. Yes, I know, it's a camp, you're supposed to have woods out in the wilderness. However, I had to walk back to my room late at night and I would pray that nothing like a snake or bear would pop out at me.  Truthfully, I only saw Armadillos, but still I was nervous. Now that we don't have that, I feel safer. They also added more light on the walking path. It still has a camp feel with the lights, but I'm not walking in pitch dark.  *giggle* It was nice. 

So, it was a blessing to go to camp and see good that came out of the pandemic. Oh, you're wondering how my week was?  It was FANTABULOUS!  It was a family reunion for sure!  From the moment I arrived there were hugs upon hugs upon hugs.  (Yes, we were all COVID screened, so we were in a Barnabubble) I didn't wear a mask once. We were not all together indoors ever. Yes, we were safe, but the closest life to normal I've had since March 2020. *grin*

My cabin was tons of fun. I am always in awe of how God takes a cabin full of gals on a Saturday night, and they become family (truly) by the time camp closes on Friday. I'll never lose the awe of that. *grin*

My staffers were top-notch, missionaries were exceptional, and other cabin Moms were a gift too. 

Perhaps my biggest surprise was my roommate. Through a series of circumstances, I only had one roommate. That gal touched my heart more than she'll know, and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. What she doesn't know is that I've prayed for her a few times since I got back. The beauty of camp friends is that it's not limited to camp. I foresee future deep conversations with her in my future. Time with her was time well spent out at camp. I love how God does that.  *grin*

Our campers were A LOT of fun. I keep going to camp for the campers. Truly. Several of them I have connected with but cannot tell you how or why they happened other than God set it all up.  

We had ASHLEY again. *grin* Ashley and her missionary Elise made me laugh A LOT. In fact, I had a couple moments of laughing to the point of tears. Ashley is non-verbal, but gosh she can communicate. In fact, the last couple nights during wrap up, she wouldn't let me focus on God. She would take my hand and make me look at her. I laughed. Elise was the missionary that I spent the most time with and I loved her. God made her for Ashley. There were some easy moments, hard moments, and everything in-between. But we never wavered in caring for Ashley and showing Christ to her. I am incredibly thankful for that. *grin*

Anna was another camper, but she could honestly be a missionary. She didn't even have a missionary, she helped us a lot. She still did camper things, but there were times she helped the volunteers which she seemed to enjoy. *grin*  Anna is someone I've had in my cabin before and I was SO GLAD to get to spend time with her again. She's a gem. 

Tatia and Rebecca were also in our cabin and they provided several laughs too. My only regret was that I didn't bring out my Uno cards. *grin*  I'll remember that next year. 

Laken made me smile big time. Her missionary was incredibly homesick but she pushed through and I was very proud of her for that. Laken is sweet, and I was blessed immensely by her. *grin*

Patti and Lauren were the two campers that I spent the least amount of time with, but when I was with them they made me smile a lot. I have had them before, and I was glad they were in my cabin again. I've been attending Term 1 for so long I know A LOT of the ladies. I loved how I got tons of hugs just in walking to and from activities with other cabins. Again, it felt like a family reunion on SO MANY levels. *grin*


Finally, I sit here and smile at this picture, as it pretty much sums up my week. Ashley is in her tie-dye, Elise is laughing, and Ashley is about to tap my nose. (This pic was taken by a camp staffer.)  I miss these ladies more than you know, but I also know that's part of the camp experience. *grin* 

I came home tired, but my heart was more full than it has been since the pandemic began. 

I love Camp, the people, and the experiences there.
More than that, I'm excited to see our world returning to normal.

At the same time, I'm excited to return to camp for Term 6. I'm praying I get in for Term 5, but, I'm on a wait list for that. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to Term 6. *grin*

Life is good.
Summer Break is here.
LIFE IS AWESOME!


Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Life Well-Lived-Nancy Hopkins

Today I am beginning my "A Life Well-Lived" series. I think A LOT about people that I have loved this side of Heaven.  I was blessed for a long period of time, not to have to say good-bye to people leaving this world to go to Heaven. At the same time, I realize life doesn't stay the same. We all know the phrase, "The only constant in life is change." *grin*

There will never be another person like the ones that we have to let go. That's so bittersweet, isn't it? On one hand, they were awesome here and made impacts on humans in their world that will last for generations. On the other hand, we cannot have one more visit in person with that human.  See, it's so bittersweet. *grin*

So in that thought process, I want to honor Nancy Hopkins. We all called her Hops. 

The summer before my eighth grade year we moved to Lawrence, Kansas from Texas. Part of me was terrified to start a new school, and another part of me knew I couldn't change it so I had to do it. I had been on an IEP for academics (although I qualified for services under an Other Health Impairment (OHI) label.) in Texas but I began the year in Lawrence without academic support. *grin*

So I went to Physical Education (PE) for the first time (August, first day of school) and met Hops. Of course, at that point it was Ms. Hopkins. The first day was not a dress-out day. I had been dressing out in PE since 6th grade in Texas, so I wasn't nervous about that. Ms. Hopkins reminded me a lot of me. She dressed down, didn't wear makeup, and my first impression of her showed that she knew who she was and liked who she was even though it was different than a typical woman. I was also nervous too, as she seemed a little rough around the edges. (Obviously I didn't have that verbiage in 8th grade, but that summarizes my thoughts.) We alternated PE with our elective class day by day. So, PE might be Monday and Tuesday might be choir. (that was my elective at the time) So the next time I had PE I had an unexpected experience.

We did our usual warmups in our "squads" which were actually kids sitting lines stretching. Warmups were fine because I could do all of them. What I didn't know was going to happen, was that I would have to run a lap around the track at the end of warm ups. *gulp*  

So Hops told the class to go run a lap on the track. Everyone headed out to the track. I went too, as I didn't know how to tell Hops that I was nervous because I didn't want to be the last one coming in. So I went out and ran my little heart out. I was crying before I even got done on the track. I could see Hops watching, and that made me scared. At the same time, what was I going to do, hide? *grin* No, I ran up to her, last one at the finish line, and she asked me if I'd like to go to the locker room. I said yes.

I went in to the locker room, washed my face, got a drink of water, and sat down on a bench. I didn't know if I should change or stay in my gym clothes. So I just sat. I also didn't know how long to just sit. So, I just sat. *grin* 

Hops walked in the locker room and came over to me. She got down on my level and talked gently to me. She explained to me that she didn't know me, and it was up to me to let her know what my limits were. At that time, I hadn't really learned how to advocate for myself, so I wasn't sure how to do that but she seemed super kind to me. She also warned me that even though I might have limitations physically, she would push me too. She definitely followed through with that promise. *grin*

During my eighth and ninth grade years she did just that. Her goal for me was to do ten unassisted sit-ups. I hated it at the time, as that was super hard at first. Over time, I did it. It took two years, but I did it. While that made me proud, that wasn't the deepest lesson she taught me. 

Over those two years, her comments and interactions with me became special to me. She liked that I could throw a three-pointer into the basketball hoop when we were just shooting hoops in gym. She celebrated me every chance she could. She also made a point of not letting me use CP as a crutch. I would let her know my limits and she would modify an activity to where I could do it but it was still a challenge. That's what I do with my students daily, I take what they think they can do and push them at least one step forward. *grin* 

When the class would run the track after warm ups, I would run in the gym and she would let me stop when everyone came in. If the class ran the mile, I ran a half mile and she let me double my score as that would have us end at about the same time. Of course when it was cold and we ran inside the gym, we all did it. I only fell a few times. *grin*

At the end of my ninth grade year, we had some deep conversations. She encouraged me to "not let my handicap become a handicap." She also encouraged me to not say the word "hate" in regard to people, as that wasn't kind. I can still hear her say, "don't say hate" to students. That was priceless. I also don't let my students say "hate" either. Yes, she still lives on within me. *grin*

The biggest lesson she taught me though was to believe in myself. She told me that there wasn't anything I couldn't do AND DO WELL. *grin* Whenever I have had bumps in my life I have thought about that and it has encouraged me.

I have my own twist on that and in my classroom I always say "I like you" when they leave my room. *grin* In fact, I recently had a student tell me to stop saying, "I like you" when he leaves my room. Why? He said he knows that and I don't need to remind him of that. *giggle* 

Hops remained in my life as teachers can in the lives of students. When I went away to college the first time and I was struggling, Hops called me in my dorm room. My parents had reached out to her, and she called me. That meant a lot to me.

When I started doing yearly Christmas Cards, I added her to my list. It was also kinda cool that she lived on the street I did when I first came to Lawrence. *grin* I also dog-sat for her at one point during the 90's. It was cool and it meant a lot to me that she trusted me with her furry kid. 

With the invention of Social Media, I requested her on facebook to be a friend a she accepted my request. That was fun because I got to see her life too. We didn't message each other, we just liked and loved each other's posts from time to time. 

One day in 2014, she sent me a message on messenger inviting me to come spend time with her at the nearby high school while her volleyball team played in a tournament. I'M SO GLAD I had that day with her. *grin* I got to see her coach her team, which was awesome. She also made time to chat with me. 

At the end of the day, she said things I won't forget. She said she was proud of me teaching kids with special challenges, and even more proud of the difference I make out at camp. She said she had looked through my posted pics and could see what a difference I was making. That made me smile. 

I also asked her for a selfie. She said yes and it is hanging in my living room and is also on my desk at school. I'm so happy she gave me that day. I am not sure how many people get to spend an afternoon with their favorite teacher as an adult, but I'm thankful I did. *grin*

I share all of that, and realize that I am just one of MANY students she touched over the years. I watched her on social media as she would send flowers when a former student lost a family member in death. She gave and gave in more ways than I can put in a post. 

She also ran the shot clock at the University of Kansas basketball games. I liked that because I could see her on tv often as the coaches would walk to shake hands in front of where she was sitting. No matter where life has taken me, I counted on that constant in my life. Yes, that seems silly, but as an adult it always brought me comfort.

She also built a cardio room at Free State High. They named the room after her, which is perfect. She retired in 2018. She was also inducted into the HPER Alumni Hall of Honor at Emporia State University in 2019. 

Hops had a heart issue in January of this year. She passed away after a week at Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) on January 8. 

"Don't ever let your handicap become a handicap." That has stayed with me on some deep levels. She'll never know what a difference she made in my life. Truly.

I know that there are A LOT of people who could post other stories. I loved it when I would see her other former students post on her Facebook wall and say things like, "I played this position in volleyball, and I did it!" I always smiled when I saw those type of posts because I knew I was just one of MANY that Hops helped along the way to adulthood. *grin*

Talk about a life well lived, Hops did that!

THANKS HOPS FOR EVERYTHING.

Your life made a difference in mine. *grin* I hope I leave students with lessons like the ones you taught me. *grin*

LIFE.

IS.

GOOD....especially as we honor loved ones.  *grin*


Friday, March 19, 2021

A Life Well-Lived

 Hi!

I know it's been a minute since my last post.  I've been a little busy teaching kids. *grin*  It's nice to be writing again, as my mind is continually running. *grin* I've heard that's a sign of getting older. I'm okay with that, I'm not old. I'm just gaining wisdom. *giggle* 

I've been pondering a lot, as I've lost SEVERAL friends in the past year. You might think they've all been COVID related, but they're not. I think it's just life, and I do believe that losing people this side of Heaven is the hardest part of this whole experience. Losing the people I have this past year has had me deep in thought. Not in a bad way, just an "Gosh I miss them." *grin*

So I started watching a show on TV and at the end of each show the anchor does a piece called "A Life Well-Lived."  She highlights people who have lost their lives to COVID. That's what has started my whole thought process in this post. She highlights people who lived well this side of Heaven. People who I never met, but, it makes me smile. Sometimes it's a smile through tears, but it's a smile that someone lived well this side of Heaven.  

So I am going to highlight some of the people here on my blog in the next few posts.  None of them are famous people.What I mean is that these people simply meant a lot to me, but the world as a whole doesn't know them.  I will not post them in any particular order, just whoever is on my heart that day.  Writing for me is therapeutic, so these posts are (as usual) more for me than for you.  

I don't know how often they will be posted, but gosh I look forward to honoring friends who are not with us any longer. I've been blessed with some amazing people in my little corner of the world, and I look forward to sharing some fun stories as I tell you about them. 

Life is good, my friends. Even as people we love go on to Heaven. I think telling others about people is a great way to honor those that went ahead of us. I also think that as I share about them, you'll see that there is a little bit of each person within me (and the same for you, as others have gone on too).  

*grin*

LIFE.

IS.

GOOD....ALWAYS.


Saturday, January 23, 2021

From the Heart

I've been deep in thought the past few days. That's not anything new, the older I get the more my mind races. I don't view it as a bad thing though, I view it as wisdom. *grin*  I don't typically share my thoughts and feelings with the world though. That's typically saved for the people closest to me. I believe that's healthy.  At the same time, this past week I commented on a post and wound up with a lot of questions. I had avoided throwing my thoughts and feelings into the controversial arenas. However, I did open the door in my comment so I wanted to share from the heart tonight. If you disagree, that's fine, but rude comments will be removed.  

In the past year, I think the biggest lesson I've learned is that it's okay to disagree with someone and still be friends. Don't get me wrong, I knew that beforehand but in the past year I have seen a lot of people on social media with a lot of different perspectives. Prior to the pandemic season I could keep scrolling very easily. Then the pandemic hit.

The pandemic opened the door for a lot of people to be divided for various reasons that aren't the focus point of this post. (See, I am still trying to be responsible with my voice on social media) My heart broke for America as a whole because the pandemic brought out sides of people I had never seen before on social media in a negative way. I'll admit, I have struggled with a lot of the misinformation versus facts more than anything. Which led me to my comment the other night on my own post.  Let me explain...

So I posted "Happy Inauguration Day" on social media. While I knew that not everyone in my social media world would agree, I really hadn't had a lot of push back. Until Wednesday. I knew I didn't agree with everyone, but I always want to be fair and respectful to everyone no matter what. 

In my mind, Kindness ALWAYS matters. *grin*

So the big "abortion" topic came up on my Inauguration Day post comment thread. I have not made my thoughts on that topic public. Partly because my view isn't what most people have, but also because I simply think that we're all entitled to our own opinion. That's actually been my thinking on all controversial topics. I know people who have fought tooth and nail on some topics. I am not that kind of gal. I simply want to love God and His Kids. 

So, you may be thinking, what is your stand on abortion? The short answer is that I don't think it's a simple fix. Do I want babies dead? Of course not! But I also have this HUGE heart for people already here. Meaning, my heart leaps for a Mom who doesn't feel she has no other option with an unexpected pregnancy. I can't even imagine that situation. 

I've known people who have had an abortion and I know people who have given a child up for adoption. Both situations are HARD, with a lot of emotions involved. There is SO MUCH MORE behind that decision that banning it won't solve the issue. See why I kept my views to myself? *grin* It's simply a complicated issue. *grin*

I could go more into the depth of my thoughts and feelings, but that's not the point of this post. The point is that it's okay to talk about the issues. It's okay to share perspectives and thoughts. It CAN be done in a respectful manner and actually bring people together when it's done right. *grin* 

So, yeah, if you want to share a virtual cup of coffee (because I'm not going very many places these days) and talk about these issues, I'm happy to do so. I warn you though, I don't intend to fight over the issues. I mean, my life will go on if we don't agree on abortion. If you don't like plain M&Ms though, we may have an issue. *giggle* Simply trying to make you smile there.

Finally, I have given a lot of thought to my attendance at a church about 17 years ago. In that church we were encouraged to echo and believe what the pastor believed. When I left the church I remember thinking that I'm to be a voice and not an echo. We are all called to have our own thoughts and feelings on whatever issue is on our hearts, not just follow the crowd. I'll stop there because I could do a whole other post on that. *giggle*

I care about humans and dogs. DEEPLY. So if you're struggling with anything and need an ear to listen, I'm here. I don't cook much, but I always have water, pepsi, and milk on hand. *grin*  Or I have a zoom account for personal use if you need to look at someone and talk. *grin*

For now I'll say Life is good. 

And I think I'll escape into fictional TV for a while. *grin*

LIFE.

IS.

GOOD.

ALWAYS. *grin*


Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Thoughts, Lessons, and Randomness

Wow, 2020 has had highs, lows, and everything in-between. I've had this post rolling around in my head for days. As usual, I'm not sure where we're headed, but in a couple hours, we will be in a new year. That makes me smile. *grin*

2020 started in a typical fashion for me. I was in the GPR with hundreds of people very similarly to the previous 17 years.  I remember praying for my former pastor in hope of a full recovery. He passed on January 2. My heart sank and not a day has gone by that I haven't thought of him. At the same time, I think he went home at just the right time. Let me explain.... 

Pastor Daryl (P.D.) was known as Papa Daryl to SO MANY of God's kids. I was able to watch his celebration of life online and it was very, very clear he impacted MANY lives this side of Heaven. I was able to reach out to his daughter and have developed a friendship with her. She also sent me one of her Dad's pieces of art and it's hanging in my living room. Not a day has gone by that I haven't looked at it, thought of him, and prayed for his wife that's this side of Heaven.  Hang with me here, I'm headed somewhere with all of this. *grin*

I will never forget how much I loved seeing his posts in his Papa Bear shirt when he was with us this side of Heaven. It was so very fitting for him.  *grin* Any time I see that shirt on someone else, I smile at the memory of P.D.

Throughout 2020 I have lost SEVERAL friends. I can't remember attending so many services for people in one calendar year. Honestly, all of them were virtual too. Only one of the people passed from COVID-19, but I think the Pandemic made all of the other losses more intense because we couldn't go celebrate each other's lives in person. Hang with me, here, there's a reason for me sharing so much about the loss of human life this year in my little corner of the world. 

January 2 will always be a day when I think of PD going home. I also think he went home just in time. I mean, I can't say what the next life is like for sure, but I'd like to think that there's someone waiting for us as we cross over into Eternity. I have also had a thought this year, that PD was waiting for all of the new arrivals in Heaven. I can see him being a Papa to so many there. I can see him welcoming all of my friends into the new world there. 

Sure, we're in a pandemic and we've lost hundreds of thousands of lives to COVID, I don't think PD is just waiting for my friends to enter Heaven. I see PD welcoming everyone there. *grin* PD knew how to help people without having to ask. He and his wife are still champions in my heart because of how well they loved those around them. *grin*

I realize I could be way off in my thinking, and I think that's fine. Loss of life this side of Heaven is the most difficult thing we live through. I truly believe that. I also have simply found comfort in having PD in Heaven as I have received word of others going Home.

Tonight I sit here (New Year's Eve 2020) in the shirt that honors Emily Hightower. I wasn't able to put it on until today. Emily was a favorite camper out at Barnabas, and everyone who knew her loved her. I have pondered her A LOT since she went home. Emily had Spina Bifida this side of Heaven, but I imagine her dancing in Heaven with PD cheering her on. I think that's beautiful. 

2020 has had it's fair share of challenges. I'm not going to dwell on the challenges. I learned a lot that I couldn't have learned otherwise and think it was life changing. Overall, I learned:

1. Relationships mean more to me than I previously thought.  I like that. People need people. I am blessed with amazing people. During the pandemic I invited people at my previous job to join me for virtual lunch daily at noon. It wound up being four of us almost everyday. I've moved from that job but those four gals (one joined our text thread and is part of our group now. *grin*) are now closer to me than I ever thought possible. Technology helped our friendships begin and continue to grow even during a time when physical distancing is needed to make sure everyone is safe. *grin* Although I can't wait to hug Paxton again. *giggle* 

2. Technology can be good and bad. 2020 will be the year I learned how to teach online to my special education students at the elementary level. I also learned you can honor a life through a webcam. I also learned that I didn't talk to my parents as much as I should have previously. *grin* THANK YOU, GOD!

3. I learned that it's a gift to be able to disagree with someone but still love them. I learned (deeply in some cases) that my relationships mean more to me than any social issue or political candidate. We are blessed to live in a nation where we're allowed to disagree. I've also learned that I'm blessed to have friends who agree that we can disagree and still get along. *grin*

4. This is the longest I've been away from church due to the pandemic. I miss the people, but I've learned a depth to my relationship with God that I have never known. It's been good. Sure, I look forward to returning, but I'm not miserable right now. I now understand in a deep way when people say Christianity is not about a building. *grin* It's about people.

5. Exercise outdoors helps my mental health more than I previously thought. Walking Jay has always been good for me, but, I've enjoyed walking Jay in a good way this year. There's something about being outside that makes me smile. *grin*

I could go on and on but would like to stop there. 

Years from now I imagine the phrase "2020" will bring sadness to a lot of people. For me, it will also make me smile. I learned a lot, loved others via technology, and gained a new job that I love. 

I had to lose people this side of Heaven, but gosh, PD is up there. And that makes me smile.

It's going to snow all day on January 1, 2021 here. I believe that will be a gift from God too. There's something peaceful in the white snow as it falls to the ground. I plan to watch it fall and smile. New beginnings are a gift from God and that's what we're about to have here. 

New beginnings are beautiful.

LIFE. IS. GOOD.

*grin*

Saturday, October 24, 2020

2020 Adventures

What a year it has been. 

It feels like it's been a lifetime since January in so many different ways. 

I have had highs, lows, and everything in between this year. 

A pandemic is not for the faint at heart, that's for sure. I have not had the CaronaVirus. (Unless I was asymptomatic and just didn't know.) As of today we've lost over 220,000 Americans to the virus. We'll lose more too, unfortunately. I could do a whole post on this topic, but I don't want to do that. 
I continue to pray for all of those affected and on the front lines. This is a year we won't forget for sure. *grin* 

So, I noticed my last post was in May. That seems like a lifetime ago too. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl this year too?  That was sooo long ago too. *giggle*

In March I started job searching. I know, job searching in a pandemic seems crazy, doesn't it? Well, it's 2020 so anything can happen, right? *giggle* After interviewing with several districts over the Summer for a teaching gig in the fall, nothing panned out. I was actually okay with that. I mean, I liked my job at The Whole Person. The Pandemic created a friendship with three coworkers that occurred daily at lunch. Yes, via zoom and then in person when possible. I also enjoyed the groups I led, so that was special to me too. I was happy. 

My financial life was getting to me though. I missed the income the teacher gig gave me. I remember praying one night in September that I needed more money. 

Then my phone rang that next morning while I was at work from a school district. I'll be honest, I didn't expect it to pan out. My heart had been broken by the districts I had hoped to work for and then they just didn't pan out. I had already told God I was okay doing one more year at TWP. Then He opened a door. *grin*

After three interviews, I got the job!!! Insert happy dance here. *giggle* I accepted a Special Education Resource position at a district in Kansas. *grin*

The afternoon I accepted the job I had all the feels. I was so excited about my new adventure, but I'm so relational that the idea of leaving the TWP family made me sad. Then I remembered that many other friends had moved on from TWP but we were still in touch. (Chiefs games mean text chats, and so does THIS IS US!) I let myself feel the feels but I didn't stay there. 

I was legitimately pumped about the new job. It meant fewer miles on my car, less gas, less time on the road, more money, better work hours, and I don't time in and out. (That last one is minor, but gosh it has made me smile daily.) 

I was SOOOO nervous. If I hadn't been, that would have been weird, right? *grin* I've been working in my new school 13 days and I can honestly say I LOVE IT! I do think the two years away from teaching was a gift. I also think doing something different was key. I'll openly admit, I miss my old school, but I know I'm where I'm supposed to be. *grin* 

Now, I won't say it's been easy. We're still in a pandemic, and school had already started. I knew on day 1 that I was already behind since I didn't get to set up my room or lesson plan like usual. Upon arrival, half of my day was online teaching and half in person. Let me tell you, this has not been easy. 

All students are due back Monday and I'm so excited! I'm sure you're wondering, so I'll share that we are extremely safe at school. We wear masks all day, distance when we can, and spray cleaner every time students leave. We also stay pretty much in our own teams, and even our staff meeting was virtual. The district is doing a good job at keeping us all safe. 

At the same time, we're nervous that we'll have to quarantine with so many humans in the building. I am already praying about that though. I'm not nervous I'll get it, but I am nervous that we'll have to quarantine. I just keep reminding myself that God has us. *grin*

2020 has been an adventure for sure. I am walking Jay daily, coloring regularly to relieve stress, zooming with my family weekly, and am happy. Perhaps I'll do other posts about the amazing people that have gone on to Heaven this year, or the weight of a pandemic, political battles, a year without Barnabas family, well, the list of posts could go on and on.

Or maybe not. 

EVEN IN 2020 LIFE IS GOOD. 

I'm smiling more, laughing more. and loving the people God has surrounded me with for this season. Life is short. Life is good. *grin*