I am so happy with how this past week has gone at camp. I discovered some amazing things about myself and I also saw some people who I met last year. Their hearts and lives have changed because of their experience at camp last year.
I didn’t know it last year, but this camp had never had a speaker with my level of disability before, so the guests who had higher physical needs were in chapel with a person who had no limitations that were visible. Our friends Dave and Margie asked me last year if I had a message to share at camp. It was exciting and a little scary, because I had never spoken for four days in a row before then. I didn’t know what it would be like and I thought maybe my messages would not be helpful to others. I am so glad for Dave and Margie’s belief in me and all the extra things they did to make my life comfortable there. It changed my life to be given that opportunity. Since then I have spoken at a number of big events, so I felt more ready this year to be seen and heard.
My step-dad Gregg, made this week even better because I asked him to help me lead discussions with my chapel talks, because this group of adults all have much to say and need a great place to do it. There is so much love and peace there. People who normally would be overlooked and judged by others have friends who love and believe and serve with them. We are the guests and they help us. It’s so much different than most of our lives when we are not at camp.
My friend Doug who was so overwhelmed with life last year because of intense pain and depression and needing to move to a different home, was changed this year. He came to me the first day and said he had a message he wanted to share with everyone at camp. I listened to his ideas and told him I thought he should talk with Gregg about it because he had important things to say. He wanted to share them during the evening chapel with everyone who was at camp. Gregg gave him direction to focus his thoughts on what he wanted to say and with my Mom’s help typing his words, they were read by our friend Dave during the evening. I was sleeping but I heard about it and I know that Doug’s spirit is free. He is a new person and I feel so happy for him. My friend Mitzie asked to lead the singing this year and that is new too. She did an awesome job.
There is so much joy in my heart today. I saw hope given to many and insights for all of us. Everyone is sad to leave when it’s done. It’s not easy to say good-bye to such love. For most of us it is too long to wait until next year when we get to see each other again. We live far away from camp, so most people are in Iowa and we are in Minnesota. But I am glad for my computer and ways we can stay connected.
This is what I shared during my last day at camp this year.
August 20, 2010-Special Touch Iowa Getaway
I’m so glad for the opportunity to have been here again this year.
Many of you know how much effort it takes to come to camp when our needs are high. It isn’t easy, but our hearts are so filled here, that we face that challenge with joy.
I’m amazed by the hope that I have seen in your eyes this year for change in your life. It’s not something that I saw last year. I saw resignation and disbelief that you could also have a life that God could use to make this world a better place. That you don’t have to wait for heaven for a life that ministers and loves. That God sees you as His partner on this earth, to spread peace, because of His love.
I want to have that vision for your life stay with you. Don’t let it fade. Don’t assume that if you are having a rough time, that you have lost it. I go through periods of time where I don’t feel good for days, sometimes weeks. But I ask God in those times to help me hold on, to not forget what He has done, and how He will continue to hold me until I am able again to walk beside Him and not be carried by Him. God knows what we are capable of. We don’t! We get caught up in what we want to have happen in our lives, and forget that God has a much bigger vision for us than we could possibly have for ourselves.
God knows who we should meet. He knows who will help us fill out His plan for our lives. We don’t need to force anything But I can tell you that if I don’t respond when God gives me a chance, even if it seems small, I miss an opportunity to partner with God. Don’t miss the small opportunities. They are NOT small to God. Don’t get so worried about the big things that you neglect the little.
God will open doors to you and give you a life you feel great about. I have found that my life, even with all it’s struggles, is a life that I love. And maybe God is stronger in my life, BECAUSE of my disability, not in SPITE of it. I need to be reminded of that in the difficult times. I have family and friends to help me do that.
I want to tell you that I want to keep in contact with all of you this year. I don’t want to be isolated from any of you. We can encourage each other and we are all great prayers! There is no need to be alone. If we could all write or send messages in the mail or even by email or some other way, I would be very happy.
I want to finish by saying, I have loved this week and I AM FREE!