Thursday, March 31, 2011

February Winter Blast 2011 : Breaking Generational Poverty

Jaheim and JaKee.  Camp Beechpoint HERE WE COME!

I love Camp Beechpoint!  February Winter Blast was a BLAST!  I love being with kids.  I love the hugs when kids come back to camp and realize I'm still there for them.  I love creating an environment where kids are successful.  I love the schedule of caring for kids.  I love serving meals and keeping track of gloves and fussing about brushing teeth and getting us all somewhere.  I love mediating a dispute so that everyone is happy and can move forward.  I love laughing over silly stuff.  I love helping kids experience something completely new.  I love, love, love teaching God's Word and making it's truths real and accessible to kids.  I love the good-bye hugs.  I love camp!
Top row: Tah'Jae, Rayan, Megan, Curtynaija, Manijah, Jada
Bottom row:  Amarrea, Mia, Annalise, Chanel, Jalise, Mya
Roasting marshmallows during the night hike.
Curty tryna decide how she feels about these marshmallows.  Gotta love the nails. :-)
Our first winter blast in the new dining hall.  This is 1/3 of the dining space.  Praise God for his provision of this facility!  It's a blessing to not have to serve split meals and to be able to host larger retreat groups year round.  We've been able to use this facility for conferences and banquets and weddings ... just another way God provides funds to keep camp accessible to urban youth.
The Great Klondike Derby - team building activities for all!  One camper gives verbal directions to a blind- folded partner to avoid the cones.
Shardae trying to walk without dropping the egg on the spoon.
This one is a favorite activity! 
One of my supporters had her Sunday School class make blankets and hats for Winter Blast campers!  The girls were so thankful for their blankets and the letters from the Sunday School kids and had fun writing them back!  Thanks Kathy and Courtney!
This is my favorite picture from Winter Blast, lol!  I wish I knew what I was saying to Mya when this picture was taken.  Whatever it was it made her happy. :-)  Love this.
Trying to get eveyone to jump rope in the gym.
Curtynaija and Manijah making a giant thank you sign for Chef Marissa.  We never take pics in our cabins, but I love that camp is so....homey.
Kadavion told us that before camp he wasn't too sure he wanted to come.  (Praise God for the adults in his life who love him and fight for him to have opportunities to hear the Word!).  At camp he participated in 3 teaching sessions centered on Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  At the end of the last session Kadavion asked his Bible teacher "How do I break the chains of generational poverty in my family?".   The older boys stayed in class for an extra 20 minutes to hear the discussion!  Pray that Kadavion's mind will truly be renewed and that he will embrace the life available to him through submission to God!

Monday, March 28, 2011

January Winter Blast 2011

January Winter Blast was FREEZING COLD!  On Sunday morning the air temp was negative 8 degrees!  I told my kids to get a drink out of the faucet because it was too cold for us to walk to the lodge for breakfast and "don't run around and work up an appetite cuz I ain't feedin ya'll!" (Can you name that movie? lol)

We had nearly 80 campers ages 7-14 and tons of fresh snow for our outdoor activities.  It was a great time to reconnect with campers and meet some new kids.  Our lessons were on Romans 12:2 - renewing our minds with the truth!  Praise God for 4 campers who made decisions to trust Christ!  Enjoy the pics:
Playing broomball on the frozen lake!
Makiyah.  a) does fire rock?  b) that's what she thinks my name is?!
Hahahahha - they had a lot of fun with sledding.  And walking up that hill sure wore them out for rest time.
Eliza and Olivia
I love, love, love this picture!  Making new friends at camp!
Jarae, Megan, Lily, Dajae

I got to be a cabin leader for Winter Blast.  It's been 3 years since I got to be in a cabin with the kids.  Now that I work full-time for camp I do a lot more administrative and directive and teaching type things.  It was wonderful to be with a cabin of girls - I loved it!  I might have to make that a Winter Blast tradition!
The Great Klondike Derby - campers work together to complete a series of team building challenges.
All bundled up.  It's funny that you can see Bianca's breath in this picture.  It was so, so cold!
"At Beechpoint you can have fun and friends.  This camp is about friendship and loving.  If I didn't have friends I would come to this camp to have friends and learn about God.  I learned that He loves me." - Nathan, age 11
"The best thing in Beechpoint was making friends and all the fun we had.  This was my first time and it was fantastic and fun.  I hope I'll come here again." - Alfredo, age 12

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My parents came to visit me for Thanksgiving 2010! It was my mom's first time here and we had a great few days together. Lots of Settlers, food, laughs, visiting people, seeing the city, and just being together.
My parents got to meet a bunch of my kids and see a number of the different places that camp partners with in the city.  We went over to see Tamyra(10), Tavaris(12), and Tavontay(8).
Me an Miss Nakeisha (the T's mom).  We've been kickin it every other Friday night at a mom's group.  It's been nice to have extra time to chat on the way over there and back.  She gets to spend time with other mothers and I help out with the kids.
If you've never been to The Container Store I am whole-heartedly recommending it!  It is an organization lovers dream come true!  Mom wanted to go while she was here because Sarah had come home with some great treasures from her trip.  When we told Dad we might be in there for an hour or more he decided to walk down to Borders, lol.  While we were in The Container Store we ran into Randy and Beverly Stone ... from Burley, Idaho!  (that's right down the street from where we live, for those of you not from Idaho).  Randy and mom trained for the Ironman Triathlon together.  I googled it: there are less than 10,000 people in Burley.  It helps that my mom knows all of them, but still - the odds of running into 2 Burleyites in downtown Chicago just can't be that great.  This confirms what I've always suspected of my mom ... she can find someone she knows everywhere!  They were here visiting their children for Thanksgiving as well.  So of course they made a trip to The Container Store!
They got to see Jabari (14), Jabri (13), and Jireh (4).  Their grandmother made us sweet potato pies for Thanksgiving dinner!  This family has truly welcomed me with open arms, and these kids are starting to feel like they have extra grandparents! :-)  Mom brought a collection of new Adventures in Odysseys sent for the kids by the Ziulkowskis (HUGE thank you here!)  Adventures in Odyssey is a Christian radio drama series that teaches Bible stories, ethics, and things like how to be good friend.  They are hilarious and ALL my kids love them.  I have kids in my car for a minimum of 6 hours a week and often much, much more and as soon as they get in they ask for an Odyssey.  I love that it gives us something to do while we ride and prompts good conversation.  They were so excited to get new stories!
My mom and Ms. Demetrius (the JAY's mom).
Dad and Jireh.

Every time my dad comes he helps me hang things in my apartment.  My walls are kinda plastery and tricky and I am a little afraid of the drill.  He is super meticulous and everything he hangs in perfectly centered and sturdy.  I'm so thankful for the help he's given me in this area.  The pictures are grainy, but this past visit he helped hang decor in my dining room/office and in my living room.  My parents bought the square brown and and blue painting as a Christmas gift while they were here.  My whole apt feels more cozy now - thanks mom and dad!  I'm so glad you came to visit!  I've got my planner open and my pen ready ... let me know when you want to come back!

Christmas 2010

So .... I am a little late with this post.  But I am still going to post because I love the idea of being able to re-read my blog 20 years from now as photo journal.  (It occurs to me that I should pray for Google - I'ma need them to stick around.)

Of course Christmas was great!  I got to see a bunch of friends and family and share with many about the past year at Beechpoint.  But I need to plan a couple of separate trips to Idaho for 2011, that trip was a bit much/long/overwhelming. :-) 
Every year me an Ilise take a new picture for a frame.  Last year's picture was, well... not our best.  So this year we made sure to plan ahead a little better.  :-)
A Jonas (2) and Merari (1) update:  growing like weeds and cute as everything!  Next time I'ma live down the street and be the once-a-month-Friday-night babysitter!
My friend Britany and her boyfriend Chad (who I am finally got to meet!)  Oh. My. Gosh.  Isn't she beautiful?!  Ridiculous. 
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service 2011.  (apparently candlelight is one word ...)  Me, Grandpa, Mom and Dad.  I'm guessing if mom tried hard enough she could find a picture from every year with this Christmas Tree in it!
This was my Christmas gift for my grandpa:  freezer meals!  It was my mom's idea and she let me have reign of the kitchen and supplied a bunch of the staples.  I put them in disposable containers and stacked them in the freezer in a random order so he wouldn't pull out the same meal 4 times in a row.  I labeled them and put re-heating instructions on the lids, since one time he microwaved a plate with raw tomatoes and cucumbers on it (bless his heart).  It's hard to know what to get him - although the real winner this year might be my Aunt and Uncle who got him an electric blanket to wear while watching TV.  He refuses to turn on the heat.  I mean, who would forfeit the joy of a $20 electric bill just to be warm?
I got to see some cousins that I haven't seen in a long time - so long that we couldn't remember the last time we got to see each other!  And I got to meet Brayden!  (Brayden, Ashley, Trista, Tawnya, Jake, Megan)
I got to see my Antoine. He's 17 now! Back when he was a little kid we used to kick it. We used to go to the movies and one time we went to a motor cross event (now you know that's love - nothin but noise and dust and payin to park at a motor cross event) and Antoine would call me lookin for rides, lol.

Keyauna (3) and Brycen (5).  I can't believe how quickly all my Idaho kids are growing up!  It's crazy to only see little kids once or twice a year! 
Shari's beautiful family after church on Sunday - Shaka, Keyauna, Shari, Ashika
Keyauna ... I mean how could this picture not make the cut?!

After my time in Boise I went to north Idaho to visit a couple of friends.  It's been a while since I was at a mountain lake ... but there is just something about being by a lake that has mountains for shores .... as soon as I saw it I just felt so ..... peaceful!  I got to visit Rachel, a friend from Bible College, and finally meet her black lab, Jericho!  It is A SHAME that we did not take a picture to document our trip! 
I also got to see Rich and Heidi and their new home.  They taught me how to play Puerto Rico (an excellent strategy board game!) and we sat around dreaming about paint colors.  I need more friends in Chicago who want to play board games!