Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Special Sneak Peek

Today's pictures are from camp, just a different side of camp. Some sweet friends of mine camp all the way up (down? Sorry Adam, he gets so annoyed because I do that every time!)to camp so I could take some family pictures for them. They have the sweetest little 9 month old, who they always warn me is acting all bad, and then she's just a doll the whole time! Anyways, they were a joy to see (albeit briefly) and I was honored to take some pictures for them. Especially since they were total troopers with the chaos of kids leaving camp and forgetting clothes and turning around and braving the heat and so on and so forth. Because such is life at Camp Grace!




Monday, June 28, 2010

Making Disciples


I've been reading David Platt's new book, Radical. Everything he writes goes right along with camp and our goals and dreams for what camp should be for these kids.

There's a passage near the beginning of the book that has been echoing in my mind and heart through these first two weeks of camp, and I wanted to share it with y'all:
"Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious, even painful at times. It is all these things because it is relational. Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his glory. He has given us people, and he has said, "Live for them. Love the, serve them, and lead them. Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead others to follow me. In the process you will multiply the gospel to the ends of the earth."

Forming relationships with these kids and starting them on the path to becoming disciples our primary goal here at camp. And the truth is that it IS messy. The kids say and do things that are hurtful, they disobey. They fight against your discipline and ignore your instruction. They push you away, and put their walls up constantly. But it is worth it, because the gospel is always worth it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Brand New BFFs

Remember our theme at camp this year? Just in case you don't, it's "Jesus is my BFF." Which means we've been spending a lot of time talking about friends, how to be a friend, how to choose encouraging friends, how iron sharpens iron, how Jesus can help us discern who we should be friends with, being open to making new friends . . . (and so on and so forth). You can imagine my delight this week when I noticed my sweet little Ray Ray had taken our lessons to heart and made himself a new "buddy" for the week. Legit, they even called each other "buddy." Jorge is one of my other favorite campers, this is his third year at camp and he is just the cutest thing - so it was perfect that he and Ray Ray would become such good friends this week!
Plus the biggest boy in the cabin being such good friends with the littlest boy in the cabin was adorable. I love seeing how the love of Jesus can transcend all categories of race, age, and size to fuse friends hearts while we're at camp!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pretty Light and Night Games

Most nights at camp (Mon, Tues and Thurs), we play big, crazy, camp-wide games. Monday night is messy olympics - involving shaving cream, cheetos, dog biscuits, bubble gum, goldfish . . . it's nasty but oh-so-fun. Tuesday night, we play a big game of water-bandits. The goal is for the kids to fill up big gatorade coolers using their water bottles, but if they get caught by a bandit they have to dump it out. Clear as mud now, right? Then Thurs night we play "sock wars," which is like capture the flag, but different.

Ok, now that I've given y'all perhaps the worst explanation EVER of our night-games, let me tell you why I personally love them. They take place just around/before sunset. Which, for all your photographers out there, means the BEST light ever.

Just look at this: Fun AND pretty all at once!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mommy-to-be

Tonight's post does not contain a picture from camp. Try not to be TOO disappointed. However, try also not to be too disappointed that it also doesn't contain many words. You must understand, I spend all day, every day, TALKING to kids. And for an introvert like me, that leaves me completely SPENT at the end of the day. All I want to do is crawl in bed with a good book for a little alone time. And I start finding it hard to hold adult conversations, let alone write a nice post for y'all. But stick with me, ok? At some point, I'll write again.

But for now, I wanted to share some pictures I took as a father's day present of my beautiful friend and her beautiful daughter. I only wish this is how gorgeous i looked when I was pregnant. Granted, I was at camp, but I was basically a hot mess.






Aren't they both just beautiful? The best part is that their beauty is just as strong on the inside too! Anita is an amazing mom and such an encouragement and inspiration to me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Photography Class


Every day at camp, the kids each take part in two "elective" classes, which they choose and sign up for at the beginning of the week. The purpose of these electives is to teach a new skill and let them experience and learn something out of the ordinary for the kiddos. I usually don't teach an elective, because I'm more of a behind-the-scenes, not teaching large groups, kind of girl. This year, however, I felt compelled to teach the kids a photography class. I love photography and the opportunity to express myself and my emotions and ideas through art, and I really wanted some of the kiddos to be able to experience that too.

So far, the kids have really been enjoying the class. I just wanted to share a few quick shots of last week's class in action. Oh and a big shout out to KEH photo for providing us with the cameras for the kids to use. And to Jessica of 503 Photography for helping us in putting together our lessons for the kids. She has an amazing online workshop for kids, if you have kids and need something fun for them to do this summer, you should definitely check it out!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Celebrating Teens

Technically, we're not supposed to have any teenagers at camp until one week in July. However, we are also technically not supposed to have any 5 or 6 years olds at camp either, and they somehow manage to sneak in. Sadly, their parents will do anything for a week off, including encouraging them to lie about their age.

Anyways, this week at I Heart Faces the theme is "celebrating teens," so I thought I'd jump in the fun - and get my picture for the day up too - two bird with one stone, I think that's what they call that.

Meet Sabir. Seriously, such a great kid, I was so glad he was at camp this week!


Go see more teens at I Heart Faces this week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Picture and a Link

Please read this. I've mentioned that Adam and I are starting/continuing the adoption process after camp this summer, and Kristen's words in this post broke my heart and re-invigorated my conviction that this is what God is calling us to. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

That said, I almost just went ahead and brought this one home from camp this week. I mean, could he be any sweeter? I've actually known this little man for a couple of years now, and if you can believe it, he has 4 younger brothers and sisters who are even cuter than he is! It's ridiculously hard to resist the urge to steal one every time I go over there.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Whoops

I can't believe I already missed a day putting a camp picture up! My bad.

Here's 2 for today to make up for it, because we're waiting for all the kids to get picked up so we can drive back to Atlanta for a birthday/father's day dinner.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lonely?

Not sure how it's possible to be struggling with loneliness while surrounded by all these kiddos, but it's possible. And I am. I don't know exactly what it is, but camp is just a little different for me so far this year. Adam has a new position as "program director," which isn't leaving him much time for me and Jayci, or for the kids and counselors. Maybe I'm just used to riding the coattails of his popularity, but I feel like no one likes me this year. I also KNOW that's not true, I'm just being insecure and stupid, but I feel like the old lady of camp! haha. When I started this job, it was just Adam and I newly married without a care in the world, I was fifteen pounds lighter, way less uptight, and I didn't have another human being I was responsible for, on top of working part time on website stuff AND trying to teach a photography class at camp, and get to know the kids and counselors. I'm just feeling overwhelmed and lonely, and am getting my feelings hurt easily.

Luckily, I recognize that I'm in a dangerous/vulnerable place, and I am taking some time tonight to spend in prayer and with my Savior. Because there is, quite simply, nothing that can quiet my soul and refresh my spirit like spending time with Jesus.

(ps - I just realized that I should probably remember our theme this year, that JESUS is my BFF, and stop worrying so much about what everyone else thinks about me!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crosswalk

Tonight was our first Crosswalk, which is the way that we share the gospel with the kiddos. Crosswalk consists of the kids walking silently through the woods (not an easy feat for our counselors to accomplish) and stopping at several different "stations" to hear pieces of the gospel story. They see Jesus crucified on a cross, visit the "empty" tomb (along with a few other stations) and then they end with a gospel presentation before sitting down with their counselors to talk about what they just saw and heard. It's always a really powerful night; over the last 5 years, we've had 1800 kids come to camp, and 665 of those kids have made a first time decision for Christ.

Because of the power and Truth in our Wednesday night presentations, Wednesdays are ALWAYS full of spiritual warfare. The thing about spiritual warfare is that it has always been, for me, something that I prefer to sort of gloss-over because I dont understand it completely or know exactly how I feel/what I believe about it. However, it is literally impossible to ignore the number of issues, behavioral and otherwise, that we consistently face every single Wednesday. Or Thursday, depending on which day we're doing crosswalk. Today, for example, two kids completely and totally flipped out and had to spend the day with Adam (not a good thing for them, as great as Adam is). We had multiple fights, three kids throw up, one kid with a high fever, and one kid get stuck up on the zip line, not to mention the girl who had a 102 fever and the kid who stole my shoe, which I am anxious to find back (dont worry, I'm sure they'll give themselves away and wear them tomorrow or something). All joking aside, Wednesdays are a really important day and night for us at camp, and we would love to have it covered in prayer. Because we are seriously changing lives and introducing kids who are often without hope to the Hope of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Day :-)

A quick shot of Adam modeling this year's theme of "Jesus is my BFF."

Monday, June 14, 2010

The First Day

Today marked the official beginning of camp, celebrated with the arrival of 47 kids between the ages of 7-12 years old, all of them from at-risk communities in Atlanta and surrounding cities. It's been a fun, albeit tiring, day. And surprisingly, the day basically went off without a hitch. Well until the girl who ate the whipped cream pie threw up all over her cabin. But we wont talk about that right now.

Anyways, since I'm the "official" camp photographer this year, I thought I'd try and post a picture a day on here the whole time we're here. Don't worry, I'm sure I wont be successful, but it's worth a try right?

I just realized it's almost midnight, and Jayci doesn't seem to understand the concept of sleeping later than 6:30am. So that means I need to go to bed pronto. Here's a quick shot of two sweet girls at the pool today. I picked this picture for today because YAY for the pool being open, and because I love to see the kiddos already working on this year's theme of friendship.

*And thanks to everyone has been praying, is praying, and continues to pray for us -- we can feel it! :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Camp is Here: Training Week

Sigh. That was a big sigh of relief that things are FINALLY starting to chill out a little bit. I mean, as chill as things can be with 50 inner-city kids arriving at camp tomorrow morning. However, the routine and feeling like this is home (for a little while at least) is starting to make everything ok again. I'm not big on chaos, something you might not know from examining the state of my house and car at any given time.

Tomorrow's the big day when the kiddos get here - I can hardly wait! Seriously, I am super-duper excited to meet them, see the ones who are back from last year, and some of my kiddos from Metro Kidz are even coming. The part of camp I love is the part when the kids are here, not the planning/prep/set-up etc that precedes their arrival.

This week, we've been organized into "work teams" and have been hard at work setting up volleyball courts, putting up giant teepees, cleaning out storage sheds, and deep cleaning the cabins. Understand, however, that I use the term "we" loosely here.

Here's team one, hard at work:
Getting ready for summer camp for inner city kidsAnd team two, hammering something or another:
Counselors getting camp set up for summer camp for at-risk kids from AtlantaAnd here's team three: What? Someone had to break in the pool.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Family Reunion Trip Recap

One would think/hope I could come up with a more creative blog title than that; but nope, that's all I got after waking up at 5am and spending a long day of planning, preparing, hauling, cleaning, and corralling a small child.

Anyhow, I have so much I want to share and tell you about camp; however, I am certain that if I don't write this recap post right now, I will never write it. And that, my friends, would be a tragedy.

We started out at Niagra Falls, went up in the CN Tower, and visited my Oma's house before heading to our family reunion even further north.

Oh look, the only picture I have of me from the whole trip, and one eye is closed. Perfect.

Over the past few years, the extended family has swelled to include several fiances, girlfriends, and a few new little ones too. It was so fun to see everyone and reconnect a little; unfortunately, the weather was COLD and rainy. And as it turns out, I can no longer handle the cold. Regardless, we went kayaking, swimming, and sat around the campfire . . .

Funny story: When we were crossing the border from the U.S. into Canada, the customs guy looked into our giant and full suburban, and asked what the story was. We explained that we were from Canada, living in Georgia, and that we had added three Americans to our crew - a husband, a baby, and a fiance . . . Then the officer looked at Adam and said "sir, what do you do for a living?" It turns out that there was a G8 summit in the town we were having the reunion in, and the officer was a little worried that my husband might protest at the summit. I'm not sure why he singled Adam out, well except for his massive amounts of hippy-looking hair . . .

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to eat corn on the cob

Jayci ate corn on the cob (which, apparently I was incorrect in believing you spelled with 2 b's) for the first time while we were in Canada. Not because they only have corn in Canada, just because I figured now that she has more teeth and molars, she should be able to handle it. And who wants to cut corn OFF the cob if it's not absolutely necessary?

She wanted to share the important process with y'all, just so you could join in her corn-eating pleasure:

1-Nibble delicately, taking bites off other people's corn first to make sure it tastes ok.
2-Take mom's corn cob and declare it your own, then continue nibbling.
3 - Forget nibbling, get after it.4- Pause and say "cheese" in an attempt to make all the pictures stop.
5 - Continue digging in with gusto.
5- Take a quick break from eating so you can make sure mom understand that you are SO over the picture-taking.
6 - Continue the chomping process until you are sticky, salty, and full of corn. Yum.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Is it still cool to say "BFF"?

I don't even know how to write this post. I've sat down to start it at least five times, but then just sit here and stare at the screen, watching that little blinking cursor, feeling sad and overwhelmed. In the last few days I've successfully flown with an almost two year old, moved out of and cleaned our house, and arrived down at camp. Oh and said good bye to my best friend. I mean, I'll probably see her again before she ACTUALLY moves in two weeks, but it still felt like goodbye. How does goodbye feel, you might wonder? Not good, my friends, not good at all.

Court and I became fast friends after joining a small group together a few years back. Then we moved into her neighborhood, just down the street from her and her hubby and their two sweet little boys. Then I had my baby girl, and I literally would not have made it through my first year and a half of motherhood without her. For crying out loud, I brought her one of Jayci's poop diapers to make sure it was normal. That's the true test of friendship right there.
Our kids are best friends too. It melts my heart to see them play together, and to hear how stinkin' excited Jayci gets every time I even mention the names "Holden and Turner." She adores them, seriously. And as much as I've been trying to avoid thinking about Courtney leaving, I've teared up more times than I can count when I think about how sad it is for Jayci to be losing her two sweet little friends.
(Side note: is this not going to be the best picture ever to show at their wedding slideshow? Look at Jayci's little patootie - she's going to be so embarrassed at this one day, I love it).

Clearly, not just anyone gets to be my best friend, so what is it that makes Courtney so special? I think anyone who knows her would agree that she is genuinely one of the most generous and kind people I know. She is constantly giving, watching people's kids for them, making meals for people who need it, encouraging new moms, letting people steal borrow cable from her . . .

Court is an amazing wife, with a loving servant's heart, who creates a wonderful home for her family - she cooks, cleans, and does all the other stuff I absolutely hate, without nearly as much complaining as I do. Which is impressive, if you ask me (although it might be more impressive to y'all if I elaborate by saying she really doesn't complain AT ALL, seeing as the majority of people probably complain less than I do). She's a fantastic mom, and her two little boys are blessed to have her. She has so much patience and wisdom, and I literally feel like I don't know how to be a mom without her.

I have lots of really great friends (seriously, I'm totally blessed in that department), but never before have I met anyone who I feel 100% comfortable being myself around, and asking for help when I need it. I'm a little (ok a lot) insecure, and I have this weird thing going on where I feel like I never want to ask TOO much of people, even friends, because I dont want them to think I'm too much work and give up on me or stop liking me or anything. I know, I have issues ok? Courtney, however, is the most constant source of encouragement, prayer, laughter, and I just know without a doubt that I can ask her for ANYTHING. I can only hope she feels/knows the same about me.

Now that I think about it, I feel a little sorry for Courtney because I feel so comfortable with her, I ask for stuff/help from her ALL the time. And I tell her EVERYTHING. And y'all know how much I can type in a single blog post? You should hear when I tell everything. It's exhausting really.

In just two weeks, Courtney and her family are stepping out in faith and moving to Texas to train as missionaries. The next step for them, after training, is moving to Portugal to run The Haven, which is a retreat for missionaries in the field. Courtney is, seriously, the perfect person to love on and encourage missionaries - she is going to be such a blessing to them. And personally, I'm just trying not to be jealous that they get her (aren't I such a good Christian sometimes?).

All this to say (I never claimed to be concise), I am going to miss her more than I can adequately express in words. I know that long-distance friendships are possible, but my track record with them is terrible. But I want Court to know that I am committing to doing everything in my power to maintain our friendship, even across the miles, because she's totally worth it!

Playing

We just got home from Canada late last night, now I have exactly one day to finish packing/moving/cleaning our house, before leaving for CAMP tomorrow - yay! I couldn't be more excited, I can't wait to tell y'all more about camp and keep you updated. Right now though, all I want to do is sleep. Jayci didn't go to bed until 10pm, so one would THINK she might sleep in a little -- one, however, would be wrong because she still woke up bright and early at 6am. She is nice and grouchy from not getting enough sleep too. So that's fun.

All this to say that I dont have time to write a proper post or recap of our time in Canada. I did want to pop in and enter my I Heart Faces picture from this week, it's been a few weeks since I entered and I didn't want to miss out again!

Jayci has gotten to the age where she really enjoys playing with her toys, even all by herself. She plays pretend, feeds her dolls, gives her paci to her stuffed animals, builds towers meticulously, and colors for more than one minute at a time. I'm really enjoying this phase because it is so so fun to watch her play!


As always, visit I Heart Faces to see more fun playing pictures!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Transplant

Our house is almost all the way bare now. All that remains is a few odds and ends that we weren’t sure how to classify and box up, but couldn’t bear to part with; and the dust bunnies. Because let’s be honest, they’ve been a constant companion to us wherever we are. I was surprised when I walked in and saw it empty at the feeling I got in my stomach, like the wind had been knocked out of me. Sad and nostalgic with a little longing to stay; catching me off guard because this move is exactly the thing I have been praying and hoping and waiting for. But looking at what has been our home for the past few years, I can feel nothing but gratitude for all the things the Lord has done here. For the ways He has been faithful, the things He has taught us and the roots He has grown in our hearts, lives, and community.

This was our first house, our first big decision as a couple. It was the place we came home to after our first jobs, after changing jobs, after long hours spent doing ministry downtown. It was a refuge for our kiddos, a place where their eyes were opened to what a home looks like. A place where we painted a nursery, prepared carefully, childproofed everything, and finally brought our precious baby girl. The place we began to dream, the place we saw how the kiddos lives were changed by encountering family and home. Where we built a room for the boys, where we hung big family pictures, and watched movies, and ate lots and lots of ice cream and cheese. The place we played games together, invited friends over for barbeques, had Jayci’s first birthday party. The place I nested, decorated, planned, enjoyed a whole lot, and cleaned a little less.

Tears are welling in my eyes right now as I think about His faithfulness in providing people just down the street, and in our community, who could support and encourage and carry me on this journey of mommy-hood. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have made it through without being exactly where we were, surrounded by these specific neighbors, family, and friends.
I am convinced that God is bringing us into a new and exciting chapter of our lives, but I know the reality is that we cannot open a new door and walk through it without leaving some precious and beloved things behind. And I am grieving some of those things right now. But it is a grieving process that ends with hope. Because I am certain of what we hope for, and sure of the things we cannot yet see. I know that just as God hand-picked this house for us, He is preparing a place for us downtown. I am continually amazed because every single time, He gives us the exact grace and wisdom we need for the moment.

First He taught us to let go, to jump in and take steps of obedience in following Him. He opened our hearts and minds to the idea that He had something more for us as we followed Him. And that no matter what that might look like, our answer was “yes.” Then He continued to grow our faith and dependence on Him as we stepped into full-time ministry. And then He taught us a boatload about patience, about planting seeds and gently cultivating and tending those seeds as they slowly and grew into something with LIFE. And now? Now He’s teaching us to trust Him. Because we have been growing roots in this home He gave us, we have been cultivated, strengthened, pruned, and readied. But now it’s time to be transplanted. To be uprooted and re-planted somewhere new, somewhere bigger and wilder, where we might not have the protective insulation of our cute little potted home. But we are trusting that He knows what we need and where we can best grow into the Oaks of Righteousness that He desires us to be.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

-Isaiah 61:3-4

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Winner and Some Rambling

Just popping in from Canada, eh. We're up here for a family reunion, which is a big deal because there are 50 of us in our immediate family (I mean extended, but all first cousins, aunts, uncles etc), and because at our last family reunion was like ten years ago. We spent the night at my grandmother's house last night, which is a treat because Oma can COOK y'all. We thoroughly enjoyed a nice home-cooked dutch meal, meat and potatoes covered in delicious gravy, and a plethora of delicious side dishes. I love it. You know what I didn't love, however? Jayci being awake from about 2-5:45am last night. And the night before, and two nights before that. I'm weary doesn't even begin to describe it. Add in a little defiance and her reverting to hitting me in the face again, and I'm about ready to throw my hands in the air and give it all up. Anyways, after a long day of sight-seeing and eating, I'm not even sure why I'm still awake except that I REFUSE to let down my blog readers, and I WILL post the giveaway winner tonight, even if it kills me. Or makes me really really tired.

That said, the random integer thing-y said that the winner was #5, meaning that Natalie wins the owl - Yay! I'm excited for her because she has the sweetest little one who I know will love Erica's cute creation. Send me an email with your shipping info sweet Natalie!

And since every post is better with a picture, here's one that made me happy. I haven't seen this week's episode of Glee yet, but thanks to Hulu - I refuse to miss it.
*Picture from Jamie's blog.

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