Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You might be a city red-neck if.....

All of "my" kids are doing so great!  I wanted to post an update on their progress and give you pictures with names so you can pray for them.  These are the kids that I meet with weekly - we do a Bible study together and spend time talking about life.

Kenya is 12, beautiful, and inquisitive.  She is really interested in learning more about God and shows a lot of motivation to complete her lessons.  All of the kids in Partners in Discipleship (PID) complete Bible lessons/memorization on their own during the week and then we discuss what they are learning when we meet.  Kenya asks really good, interesting questions.  I enjoy spending time with her!  She really wants to spend the night at my house, so we'll have to find an excuse for that soon!  Pray for Kenya that she will get along better with her older sister.

I have no idea Jabri is almost 12, affectionate, and likes to talk.  I've been meeting with her and her brother for more than a year now, and I've been able to see growth in Jabri.  She is learning to apply the Bible and values God's Word as the authority for her life.  I get to spend a lot of time with Jabri and I love how comfortable we are together - it really doesn't matter what we do, we just like being with each other.  Pray for Jabri that she will learn to have a right attitude toward those in authority over her.

Jabari is 13, funny, and creative.  He is Jabri's brother, so I get to see a lot of him too!  Jabari is incredibly insightful - he notices a lot of things that everybody else misses.  Whether it's in our Bible study or in his observation of life he pays attention to details and makes lots of connections.  Jabari loves to draw and constantly carries around like 12 pencils - which is funny to me!  Pray for Jabari that he will value education and be self-motivated to work hard at school.

Last week I posted a picture of me with Tavaris and Tamyra.  This is Mr. Derrick, a PID mentor who meets with Tavaris.  Tamyra is 9, loud, and smart.  She really cares about her little brother Tavontay and helps take care of him and make sure he is okay.  She works hard at school and gets good grades.  She likes to talk and eat candy!!  When I first started meeting with her she always acted like she didn't care if I came or not and didn't care if we spent time together.  Now she is super affectionate and always wants to be right next to me.  Pray for Tamyra that she will be obedient at school.  Also, pray that she will trust God with the safety of her brother.  Tavaris has to ride the bus and train by himself for an hour and a half to get to school.  Pray that Tavaris will be safe.

  This is Kenya, Alesia, and Jenae.  Jenae does not do PID, but she makes a lot of effort to include me in her life and enjoys spending time with me.  I've been teaching my kids how to play Settlers.  They are doing great!  Pray for Jenae that she will understand her school work.

This bag came to camp in the mail from Ireland!  Mark is camp's Executive Director and the bag has his last name and our street address - no city, state, or even country!!!!  Can you believe it?  And it's in like a gunny sack.  (Hmmm - do people outside of Idaho use the word gunny sack?  I don't even know what else to call is.  A potato sack?)  I've mailed some interesting things without a box: a hula hoop, an inflated beach ball, a cookie sheet postcard .... but even then I needed an address. 

So, apparently Chicago particpates in deer season.  Who knew?  You might be a city red-neck if ..... you tie a deer to the bumper of your Expedition.  I was trying to follow this SUV through traffic to take a picture but I was not going to pay a toll to go the wrong way just to get a picture.  Then, at the last minute, the truck cut across all lanes of traffic to take the same tollway I was headed for and I was able to get this close up while we were stopped.  I am interpreting God's intervention on my behalf as confirmation that He is interested in the irrelevent observations provided on my blog. :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Welcome to My Home!!

I am finally ready to post pictures of my new home! My dad came to visit from Idaho this weekend and we spent part of each day hanging things. We are still not 100% sure what the wall is made out of, but nothing has fallen down yet.

Now, you might want to brace yourself - this post has a ridiculous amount of pictures. But since some of you are not trying to come visit me (you know who you are!) I figure I'd better give you the whole tour. :-)

Every month Aunt Jan (my co-worker in discipleship from camp) comes to the city for the weekend. I was tryna get us to play a game and she was just so insistent that if we washed the windows they'd look better. I'm SUPER THANKFUL we did - they were filthy!
Megan and Wayne

On Saturday Jabari, Jabri, and Jireh came over so that we could play Settlers. It's the best game ever but you need more than 2 people. I've been teaching my kids how to play so I'll have friends in Chicago to play with. Dad and I also went to my Michigan church and for a quick visit to camp on Sunday.

I think this is my favorite wall. I got the letters on sale for 8 dollars - but heads up: they are HARD to apply!
Bedroom: People have been trying to make fun of me because I have a little bed. But after sleeping all summer on a camp bunk I'm here to say that this bed is excellent!
Bedroom: The bathrooms have no counters, so we created a vanity in my bedroom - complete with lights. I spent like 7 hours at IKEA one day (only because I was with a friend who loves to shop!) and we found lots of cool, helpful, and affordable stuff. I was telling dad that "there are 3 great things about the papasan. Well, 4 if you count the fact that it's bright pink!" He laughed and said that he would hold the pink against it, personally.
Dining Room: Can you believe I have an apartment with a dining room?!?!? It was only 10 dollars a month more than the other dining-room-less apartments I looked at. And since I work from home the extra space is especially nice. My dad bought curtains this weekend, which definitely helps the room feel more homey - thanks dad!!!
Dining Room: This is my office. It's proving to be much easier to work from home without roommates. :-) Also, between discipling more kids, hosting retreats and other camp obligations, I've been home a lot less than last year. Moving to the south side has saved me hours and hours of driving time! I love it!
Entryway: (I have an entryway!!!). It's my memorabilia from my mission trips to Brazil and Papua New Guinea.
Bathroom: Not very exciting, I know. But I said I was giving you the whole tour.
Kitchen: This room definitely got the biggest make over! We added that very practical shelf over the stove, took all the doors off the cabinets, and put the microwave up to free up the only counter space. I love efficiency and am very pleased with how it turned out.
Living Room: I had a hard time getting started to match that couch, but we are on our way now! Dad went shopping for a whole afternoon with me to get the curtains and he carried a couch cushion and the smaller wine colored rug into about 6 stores so we could try to find something to match. What a good sport!
Living Room: This is it's like when the curtains are open. I must be God's favorite to get an apartment with this much light (the dining room is just like it). It also has great ceiling lights - not real common in apartments out here. And I am my mother's child - I like light!
Living Room: I have a kid corner ... since I have a lot of kids. It helps to have stuff to keep them busy. Trust and believe that the yellow bookcase is temporary. The idea is to have the kid corner coordinate with the rest of the room.
The view: from the front. I live on a pretty quiet block, close to the expressway, an hour closer to camp, about 20 minutes from most of "my kids", and so far my stuff is still here when I come home. I'm half teasing cuz somebody moved into a neighborhood next to me and all their stuff was gone when they came back the next day. So far I'm enjoying living by myself, although I may recant in a few months.
Tavaris and Tamyra - 2 discipleship kids who've been to the house. So far I've had 7 overnight guests and 17 day guests. I am happy to live close enough to people for them to come over to my house, and happy to have a home to invite them into.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rake 'n Rock 2009

Rake 'n Rock is a fall Beechpoint event where alumni, teens, and local church groups come out for the day to help rake leaves. Beechpoint is "nestled in the heart of 83 acres of Michigan woods" ... and turns out the trees are a lot leafier in Michigan than they were in Idaho.

[Did you know the spell check actually thinks "leafier" is a word?!]

The first summer that I worked at Beechpoint I told someone that I was working at a "summer camp in the mountains". Because all my experiences to date with trees en masse had been in the mountains, I assumed that Beechpoint must be in the mountains. They were quick to remind me that Michigan has no mountains. In fact, one of my favorite signs by camp advertises a skiing area 10 miles west - and you can't see the hill from the sign! I know we can't all live by Sun Valley, but I just feel like any hill worth skiing down should be visible from 10 miles away! (This relates to Rake 'n Rock because I am talking about trees...... see? :-)

Saturday was dry, sunny, and mostly breezeless -most of the day was above 60! Perfect fall weather to be outside. This is the view from the lodge.
Everyone was quick to jump in and help out. Sam is in our year-round discipleship program ... I was super proud of how hard he worked all day.

We hauled A LOT of leaves into the woods. My shoulder was super sore the next day!

Me and Liz raking .... in case you thought I just watched.

So what had happened was .... there's one leaf blower which Mr. Rick was using. But you just can't leave nothin layin around at camp and expect it to still be there when you come back. :-) It took Liz and I a minute to get this going. Okay, so someone else had to start it for us. But we successfully commandeered Rick's leaf blower!!!
It was anticlimactic because:
a) Mr. Rick wasn't around to see that we had absconded with his blower.
b) You can't really talk while you blow leaves ... so we went back to raking.
After we are done raking leaves the volunteer groups get to participate in rock climbing and the zip line. This picture is from our gym.

Reasons they don't let me drive the pettibone. Just kidding ... but don't nobody tell Uncle Bob that I posted this picture. ;-) I'm just trying to give a complete overview of how the day went. :-)
Construction is continuing on our new dining hall building and we are nearing the finish line! The deck is on track to be completed this fall which will leave only kitchen equipment, furnishings, and few odds and ends. This building will provide much needed dining, meeting, and storage space and will allow camp to host larger groups. Praise God for the faithful volunteers who are working on the deck and join us in prayer for the remaining funds. The building has been built primarily with volunteer labor under the direction of Bob VanDyke, our Site Development Director, and without incurring debt and we are SUPER EXCITED about using it soon!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Over The Hill ... but not through the woods yet!

On Oct 10th, Beechpoint celebrated it's 50th Anniversary with an afternoon alumni event and an evening banquet. Over 300 guests joined us to remember what God has done ... and to look expectantly toward the future.

Praise God for:
* 15,000 children who've come to camp in the past 50 years
* 3,000 children who, to our knowledge, have received Christ in the past 50 years
* more than 100,000 retreat guests served over the past 50 years!
* the recent matching grant of $50,000 dollars was met to provide funds for our new dining hall, commercial kitchen, and retreat facilities

I got to be on the committee to plan for the event - and one task was selecting a "50th tag line". In one late night brainstorming session with a few co-workers, these sarcastic ideas were proposed (and rejected):

**Over the Hill ... but not through the woods yet!
**50% and Content
**The Glass is 1/2 Full
**50 is the new 30
**(Beech)Pointing the way to Jesus!
**50 Cent
**Golden Years
**Gold 'n Silver have we none
**Aged like a fine wine
**There's no end in sight.

Here's guessing my name's going to stay in the hat the next time we need a slogan writer! ;-)

This picture feels like camp more than any other!! These are my camp friends: Nurse Karla and Mrs. D. We currently have a kitchen that's smaller than the kitchen that I grew up with in my parent's home. From that kitchen we cook for 180 people each meal during the summer and hundreds of retreat guests throughout the year. Because the lodge seats less than 100, we host our banquet in the gym. The kitchen staff is incredible - they can cook for 300 out of a kitchen with 2 ovens ... and transport the food across camp to the gym, all without a glitch!! Please continue to pray for the completion of our new dining facility - we are getting close!
For dessert we had a "chocolate trifle". In this picture I am being my triflin' self. There's a wide variety of readership who endure this blog ... so if that makes sense to you you should laugh twice to make up for the ones who don't get it. :-)

Dr. Melvin Banks, founder of Urban Outreach Foundation and keynote speaker. Dr. Banks challenged listeners to engage with children's ministry as an investment in the future.

More camp friends: Jess F. (some of these are her pictures and she often supplies pictures for camp's promotional use) and Miss Crissie (who lives in Chicago and loves me!)

More camp friends: Mark Davidhizar (camp's Executive Director and my boss) and camper Jakarri who spoke during the banquet about the impact that camp has had in his life. Jakarri is 12 years old and I was so PROUD of him - you'da thought he was my baby for all of my tears and loud clapping. :-) He wrote his own speech and delivered it with poise and articulation. He even incorporated something a speaker before him said into his speech! When Jakarri grows up he wants to be a cardiologist - and we all think he can do it!

More camp friends: Pneurissa (faithful camp volunteer and Jakarri's aunt), Aunt Jan (camp's Director of Discipleship and the co-worker I work most closely with), and Jakarri's mother and grandmother. On Sunday Jakarri's family went with me to my Michigan church and then we all went to Aunt Jan's for lunch.

Aunt Jan and Kiyasia, Jakarri's little sister, who thinks she can play that piano!

The following video was played during the banquet - it's a radio interview of Mr. D and all the slides are from this past summer. I placed it at the bottom of my blog on purpose because you will need to click pause on the music by scrolling down to the purple box at the bottom of the page. If the video keeps cutting in and out you can help it "buffer" by clicking pause and waiting until the grey line reaches then end of the timeline, then clicking play again. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The great thing about being single ....

The great thing about being single is that I don't have to get anyone to agree with me. I can just do whatever I want or decorate however I want or cook whatever I want ....

The terrible thing about being single is that there is no one to agree with me! And increasingly I am just not all that confident about what I want. Hence the following story:

This is my new dining room table, which I bought from craigslist .... twice. What had happened was I went by myself to go look at it. And I have never seen a tile table (although my friend assures me they are real common). But if I didn't find a table before the BIG MOVE then it would be ever more complicated and expensive because I wouldn't have my friends to help move it. And this table is really stable and comes with 4 chairs and the coolest bench. Only thing is .... it has TILE on the top.

But I needed a table. So the man agreed that I could give him $100 that day and then the rest when I came back with a friend and a truck to pick it up. Which I felt okay about right until I drove away and had a fresh realization that the table has TILE.

So I sat in a parking lot about 5 minutes away from the guy's house and then called him and asked (sheepishly) could I have my $100 dollars back and then see how I feel about the table later? Would you believe he said sure?!

And would you believe that the next day - after showing several people this picture and getting some agreement that it would work fine - I called the man back and bought his table. I would have felt vindicated, if he didn't have to spend half an hour helping us load it into the truck.

This is my friend Jessica driving her boss's truck to help me move.
I've always had my dad to help me move, a blessing I apparently took for granted. I've definitely seen less hopeful rigging jobs than the one done here, but
a) we didn't actually do this - the people I bought a couch from insisted that it would be in our best interest to borrow their bungee chords and got us set up
b) I've never actually tried hauling things using bungee chords. Apparently they are stronger than they looked.
Even though we got it done uneventfully, as we were driving down the road the conversation went something like this "Hmm. What do you do if the stuff falls out of the back of the truck? I mean, you can't just leave it all in the middle of the highway.... Huh." It would have been easier if it wasn't 11 pm by this point.

These friends helped me move into my new apartment. Mr. D (my boss), Kathy (a Chicagoland CEF missionary), Aaron (camp's program developer) and Daniel (summer waterfront director). We had to move my stuff down 3 flights of stairs from my previous landlord's attic where it was graciously allowed to stay for the summer and then up 3 more flights into my new apartment. They were troopers for sure - THANKS for helping me in such a big way!

My new apartment a one bedroom with a living room and a dining room - a special blessing since I will again be working from home and this will provide an area for office space.
I have no roommates, except for whatever this is. It greeted my the first time I tried to take a shower. Mercifully I have not seen any of it's friends in the past week.

You'll have to wait until next time to see pictures of my apartment because it is just too pitiful to be seen at the moment. I have a couch that is comfortable but an undefinable shade of green. Apparently my decorating ability does not reach beyond appreciating other people's success to creating my own. However, I did decorate my entry way (I have an entry way!!) with my Brazil and Papua New Guinea mission trip stuff.

Random Sidenote: I'm not much for skulls. But I think I would buy this for my daughter just because the skull has a bow. Kinda cute, don'tcha think? :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

See you at the big chicken!

Hello all -

I have found an apartment! I will be living in the Chatham neighborhood. It's a one bedroom, second floor apartment with a dining room - a blessing since I will be working from home again. I can move in around October 1st, so I will be sure to post pictures when I get settled in. Praise God for His provision and thank you to all who prayed for my new home!

I joined Kiva today! It's a website that leverages technology to create a global community where lenders participate in micro-finance opportunities throughout the world. Lenders can lend as little as $25 dollars to an entrepreneur who may otherwise be denied funding. As the loan is repaid the lender may retrieve his money or reinvest in the life of another person. I loaned money to Ahmed, a father of 4 in Lebanon who needs money for an auto repair shop. You can read about it and get involved by clicking on his picture at the top of this post (once his loan is fully funded the post will show another entrepreneur).

Camp Beechpoint participated in the Allegan County Parade. To those who have been to a small town parade, this one would have fit right in. To those of you who have not, you're just going to have to come with me next year to really understand. There was a semi in the parade. Not advertising anything, just ... there. :-) I somehow let the event pass without posting pictures, a clear violation of my blogging ethics, so here we go - a picture tour of the Allegan Fair Parade:

This is Beechpoint's 50th Anniversary. We'll be celebrating on October 10th. Go to http://www.beechpoint.com/ to learn more and rsvp.

The parade provides an opportunity for local exposure. I passed out postcards with information on camp and retreats. Now, I've been in a lot of parades (most notably as a blood drop for the Red Cross) - but this was my first time as a postcard-passer-outer. It definitely involved running to catch up to our float.

We had about 30 staff, cabin leaders, teen leaders, and campers join us to walk the parade. People dressed up in gear from camp activities.

The go carts rode behind the truck and boat, definitely the best gig. I'm putting my name into that hat for next year
Tubing. Yup, that's what I thought too. :-)

This sign was spotted along the route. Funny, considering it's posted next to a trail.
The entrance to the Allegan Fair Grounds, and most common meeting place for the event. As in, "I'll see you at the big chicken at noon". So, to all of you who thought you were sending me to the big city and worried that I would lose touch with my upbringing - this post should alleviate all concerns.

**Thanks to Jess Furrow for photographing the parade.