Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kids Camp 2014 :)

So, Kids Camp - I have a love/hate relationship with camp. It is the single greatest week in my life and the worst. Let me give you a bit of a back story...

I've been doing camp since I was 14 years old. The first few years a little, old British lady named Ms. Myrtle was in charge. I loved Ms. Myrtle so much! She also did an Association wide youth mission trip. She was an extraordinary lady. She loved kids and youth with her whole heart. Without even knowing it at the time, I learned so much from her. She was passionate about Jesus. She was passionate about children knowing Jesus. She died while we were at camp one year (she wasn't at camp - she had given up doing camp a few years earlier) - it was so fitting. We used to do this thing called "cabin inspection" every morning at camp and she would go around to every cabin and check for "dust bunnies". If you sang "You are My Sunshine" to her then she would give you bonus points. Anyway, camp then was so "kitchy" with crafts and sing alongs and silly things like that. Camp has evolved into something a little more modern and it is a good thing for sure. Under the leadership of the Association Director, Larry, and his wife, Judy, camp is a wonderful outreach for the children and families of Chilton County. Larry and Judy are, hands down, the best leaders ever. I'm thankful for their hearts for camp and their hearts for reaching people for Christ. And they let Justin and I "run" camp - they may be getting a bit looney in their "young" age! ;) Hahaha! (one year they did give Melissa and me the assoc. credit card to buy a gorilla suit for camp...)

Well, my friend Justin and I are "in charge" of camp now and I think it is a great, affordable camp for churches and families who cannot afford Student Life for Kids or Centrikid. We are about $150 cheaper and have less kids, which equals less confusion. Justin and I have done camp since we were 15 and 14, respectively. When we were 22 and 21, we sort of just got put into leadership positions and it stuck! He's been the camp pastor and I've been the camp director and I honestly LOVE it.

I love camp. I love kids. I love serving in this capacity. I love seeing kids come to life in Christ, I love seeing real growth. I love seeing relationships blossom. I love seeing kids that I led becoming counselors and leading kids themselves. It's an amazing experience. Now, I know I said camp and I have a love/hate relationship and we do. Camp is long days and short nights, very short nights. Camp is running all over the camp, in the middle of the night, to deliver medicine and talk to kids who are homesick. Camp is lots of planning in my "spare" time. Camp is hot, hot days. Camp is dealing with people who drive me up the wall. Camp is learning how to be gracious and kind and loving. Camp is seeing lives changed. Camp is showing kids, who have no hope, no future, Jesus. Camp is telling "S" that there is someone who does love her, loves her like a Father should. Camp is heartache, when just a week later, "S" accidentally takes her own life because her home-life is gut-wrentching. Camp, because of Jesus and His love, is a game-changer for a lot of people. So, yes, we have a relationship that causes me grief and causes me immense joy. Every year, before camp, I say that this will be my last year and then every year, during camp, I can not imagine not doing camp again the next year.

This year our student band got the opportunity to lead worship for camp. Honestly, the first two nights were rough, but they pulled through and the last two nights were the best nights of worship at camp ever. They truly did a phenomenal job and the kids were lead to the Throne. They sang and they danced and they raised their hands and they laughed... They worshipped Jesus with full abandon. I am so proud of our students, they not only led in worship, but led as cabin leaders. Those 6th grade boys adored "Miss Michael" and I saw Delaney reach out to the 6th grade girls who weren't the "cool, pretty girls". I love that God called us to Hueytown and to the Methodist church. Don't get me wrong, there are things that the Methodist church approves of that I do not and never will, but I must say that this is where we belong. I heard a friend of mine say something along the lines of, "If I have to choose a side (between the Bible-thumping Pharisees or the love everybody "hippies"), then I'll choose love all the way. Who wants to be on the side of the angry hypocrites?" And I agree, for the most part the Methodist church is known for love (John 13:34, 35 says that the world will know we are His disciples by our love for one another). I don't really have a plan for this post - I just want to get some stuff off my shoulders about camp and about what God is teaching me.

This year a lady from our old church came and to be totally honest, I was not happy. Things didn't end well at that church for many, many reasons (not all of it was our fault and not all of it was the church's). I was shocked this lady was coming, she had never done anything with the kids when I was there and was against everything TJ tried to do. I know that TJ wasn't the best at dealing with people and had the "I'm-going-to-change-the-world-and-you're-not-going-to-stop-me-so-step-aside" attitude that can be misconstrued as arrogant (he was arrogant), but we were young and thought we had all the answers. Know anybody like that? I'm so glad we listened to God and humbled ourselves. But like I said, the blame in the whole debacle was not entirely TJ's fault, or even mostly his fault. Anyway, this church member came and brought along the new youth minister. I was bound and determined to not have to speak to the lady nor like the new YM, I really wanted him to be this terrible, warty, old, poot who didn't know anything. God has an excellent sense of humor and I'm so glad He does. What a brat I would have been if I had done what I was "bound and determined" to do. Turns out, I really like the new YM and think he is a great guy and count him as a friend now. He is so great with the kids, extremely talented in the media/tech field, did the best job at being rec director I've ever seen, and is now on the leadership team with Justin and me. He is the missing piece to our team. I'm thankful for his insight and leadership. And I'm thankful that he helped to bridge the gap a little between the lady that came and myself. I thought she hated me, hated TJ. She didn't, she was just unsure of how to approach us. TJ, being his usual self, listened to Jesus urging him to make amends. He apologized for any and everything that happened, even the things that weren't his fault. (y'all thats why I married him, he's better than me in that way and in many other ways - I let pride get in my way from doing what Jesus commands me to do) Turns out, we cleared the air and made a new friend. I love how Jesus puts us in uncomfortable positions and when we do the right thing, things are made right.

Here are a few pictures from camp - enjoy! Also, feel free to ask me any questions - about anything! Thanks for reading - Lucy is working on her 13 month post for you guys to read so be on the lookout!

One of our former campers, then student in our ministry and now MARRIED!!! What!?!?! Love Natalie so much - excellent example of a godly-girl. 

Y'all - this kid's name is Ezra. I adore him and his sweet spirit. Every time I saw him, he was  helpful, encouraging, smiling, playing, and learning. You aren't supposed to have a "favorite" and technically I don't but I so want him to come back as a counselor. I can see that he is something special and God has great plan for his life. :) Also, IF TJ and I have another girl her name will be Ezra Something-Like-Kate-or-Jane. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mother's Day and Father's Day 2014

So I totally forgot to post these pictures!!! AHHH!!!!! :) Here they are for your viewing pleasure...

Lucy's First Birthday Party!

So, I must admit that having my two favorite people's birthdays so close together is kind of rough! :) I could not have pulled off two parties in one week without my Mom - she is so great and very helpful. She did the same for our wedding - just took the reigns and created what was in my head in real life! And everything was just perfect. So if you ever need help planning a party, she is your go-to lady! :)

Ok, back to the parties... We had TJ a surprise party at First Ave. Rocks. It was the best surprise ever - he had no idea! Wendy and I feigned a dinner at Mugshots to get TJ to go downtown. I got a "phone call" from Wendy telling me that they were so lost and we needed to meet them on First Avenue. After TJ getting angry and not being able to find the place where they were, we did a Chinese Fire Drill and I took the reigns and "found" Wendy and Lauraline. We walked in and TJ was so surprised to find all the kids and our family there! It was a blast! Jamie, Caroline, Grayson, Rebekah, and my Mom were so gracious in helping me to get everything together.

Now onto Lucy's Party! 

Here is the link to the slideshow for her pictures! There are over 100 so I thought a slide show would be better! Enjoy! Although Lucy decided that she wanted to do exactly what she wanted and didn't want anyone to help her do anything, I think she had a wonderful time. She loved playing in the pools with Charli and Parker and loved seeing "baby" Reece. I can't wait to see them all grow up together and make some wonderful memories. Charli's Mom, Jami, and Reece's Mom, Emily, grew up with me and we had the best time together. We played outside all the time, we rode bikes and four-wheelers all over Lawley, one time Jami and I had to run and jump on a bale of hay to get away from an angry emu... Emily and I were rowing in the pond by her house one time, and her brother Joey and our cousin, Tony, started shooting at us with bb guns (I know this is dangerous, but we did things way different in the country!). It was sometime in the middle of winter too. There is a tiny island in the middle of the pond and we thought if we could get to the island and jump out of the boat we'd be safe. We both missed the island and landed in the freezing water - Joey and Tony ran away laughing. I have so many other countless memories with Jami and Emily - we always had the best times together. And now we are all mommies! I've made other friends along the way and I'm thankful for their friendships and love watching our children grow up together. Miss Priss is going to have more friends and cousins soon too (no one is pregnant, we just know that in the future we will have more friends!) Lucy sure is one blessed little girl! Here are a couple of my favorite photos from that day! I'll post her One Year Photos in another post. Thanks so much for keeping up with us this past year! 

Lucy saying "Wow, wow, wow!!!"