Our last week with T.R.A.I.L. kids

Our day at the pool:

We had an all girl’s party at the pool today (plus Jacob and Ethan)…

Andi posing for me, ready to swim




Jacob and Ethan playing (a.k.a. Jacob taking the toy from Ethan)

Shannon and Andi just chillin'

Shannon and me

Our T.R.A.I.L. girls were there, but of course, I can’t put their pictures up…so just imagine them….
Rebecca was there, too, but she never got in a picture….

It’s Not About Me

When did we become such an angry society?  When did anger become such the norm, the natural reaction to anything that happens to us?

Please understand that I am “preaching to the choir” because I do have my fair share of anger (you can ask Paul), but it just seems that it has escalated over the last few years (for society, not me).

We live in an instant gratification society!  We want what we want when we want which is usually RIGHT NOW! (Ha, ha, trying saying that really fast)!  And, when we don’t get it, we get angry.

Instant cereal.
Instant message.
Instant pain relief.
Instant credit.

Please understand that what I’m about to say is my opinion, nothing more/nothing less.  It’s just my observations from working with inner-city youth for the last year and a half.

All day, everyday, it seems that we are bombarded with the messages that we can instantly get what we want and we deserve it.  It’s ours to claim…and, if we don’t get it, something is wrong.  Advertisers spend millions of dollars every day convincing us that we can have every desire met instantly, and we don’t even have to work for it.

Where did we, as a society, go wrong?

I honestly don’t remember wanting as a child.  And, I know, that my mother is probably reading this (and laughing) because I’m sure there are memories of me wanting, crying, and sulking because I didn’t get something that I wanted (of course, I was perfect as a child and never acted liked that), but I just don’t remember that.

I never had a Walkman CD player (you know, the portable ones that had headphones).

I never had a Nintendo, Sega, or a Gameboy.

I only had a 3 or 4 barbies and only 2 Cabbage Patch Dolls, when they were all the rave.

I was never into designer jeans or having the latest trends (again my mom maybe laughing at this point because I have such a selective memory).

I don’t remember coveting things a lot…yes, I’m sure I wanted certain things, but I think I was taught the difference between something I needed and something I wanted (or at least waiting until a special occasion, like a birthday or Christmas to get it).

It just seems that we live in a “give it to me now” society.  I am guilty of it, too.

The fastest lane to drive in.

The closest parking spot to the store (although I’m not too guilty of this; I just like to park next to the shopping cart corrals).

The express check-out line at the store.

We are so impatient.  We want it now….

This week I have seen, on display, extreme anger in our kids that are here.  We have 9-10 year old boys  here (20 of them), and they cannot control their anger.  They lash out, scream, cry, kick things…all because they do not get their way. 

Someone else looks at them, they freak out.

Someone bumps them in line, they scream.

Someone tells them to do something they don’t want to do, they cry.

They, themselves, knock their bowl of fruit off the table and they get up, kick the chair, and scream.

It’s so disheartening.  What do we do?  How did they get this way?


Lack of parenting?

Influence from T.V./video games?

I don’t really know the answer, but I think that as a society, we have failed our kids. 

We have told them that they deserve certain things.  We have told them that they should get certain things, without having to work for it or even earn it.  We have told them they can do whatever they want, that no one has control over them.  We have told them that the only way to get attention is to act out.  We are enabling them and it’s killing their childhood.

More Americans believe that anger is empowering and allows them to overcome the indignities of modern life.  To many, controlling one’s temper is repression, surrendering to conformity.  (the idea that I don’t have to be like everyone else, I should be able to do my own thing, when and where I want it).  

It’s wrong…I wish I could change it.  (I wish I could change myself sometimes, too.  In fact, I’m probably the only person that I can change b/c I am in control of myself and no one else).

Over and over, Paul has told the boys to “let things go.” 

You didn’t get to play basketball…let it go.

You lost at carpetball…let it go.

You didn’t get to go first…let it go.

Someone bumped your chair in the dining hall, let it go.

Someone is not eating fast enough (which doesn’t even concern you)…let it go.

Someone looks at you…let it go.

It’s so frustrating.  It’s so hard to be patient and show grace, mercy, and justice when they act like this. 

Culturally, I think this is how they live.  This is their life.  They can hardly afford to pay rent or buy groceries, but they have the best “stuff.”  They have the latest games, see the latest movies, buy the best “junk” food, get what they want, when they want it.  Obviously, that’s not working…they need something better.

They need Jesus….they need to know unconditional love….they need hope….

They need to see beyond the “it’s all about me” world that we have created…

Marriages are ruined because one or both partners are focused on their own happiness.  Successful men and women are ruined by their own success, believeing they don’t need anyone else’s input.  And for some, life’s troubles are magnified because they believe life is all about them (David Robinson, “It’s Not About Me” by Max Lucado).

Including myself, I wish we could all realize “It’s Not About Me.”

True or False?

True or False?

I’ve had stitches twice in my chin (in the same exact spot), once for falling face first into the trampoline springs and once for jumping off the ladder at the pool and trying to turn around and catch it without falling into the water.  I caught my face on the concrete, instead.

True or False?

I refuse to eat at Golden Corral, Ryan’s Steakhouse, or any type of buffet restaurant (except Chinese).  I got sick when I was little and have a big aversion to those type of restaurants.

True or False?

I had my first boyfriend when I was in the 7th grade.

True or False?

I had my first kiss when I was in the 7th grade but not with the first boyfriend mentioned above.

True or False?

My first kiss was in the church sanctuary, but thankfully, worship was not going on.

True or False?

When I turned 16, I had the choice of two cars to drive to school (they were both Chevrolet Corsicas).  I would alternate sometimes, just to change things up a little bit.

True or False?

My first broken bone was my senior year in high school.  I broke my big toe in….band.  Not playing sports, but playing in the band.

True or False?

I got my belly button pierced when I was 18 and ended up passing out in the waiting area of Applebee’s because the pain was unbearable.

True or False?

I got my belly button pierced before I got my ears pierced.

True or False?

The only year of college I actually enjoyed was my sophomore year.  You could not pay me enough to go back to college.

True or False?

The 2nd semester of my senior year in college (during student teaching) I decided that I really didn’t want to teach.  I completed my Bachelor of Science in Education anyway and even tried to teach, but hated it.

True or False?

I completed college in exactly 4 years.  Beating both of my sisters.

True or False?

I waited 3 years before going back to school to get my Master’s.  I’m really glad I waited.

True or False?

Paul and I met on August 19th.  We had our 1st date on September 5th.  We bought an engagement ring on October 22nd, after Paul met my parents for the 1st time on October 15th.

True or False?

Paul and I got engaged on November 24, 2005, after dating for about 2 months.  We got married 6 months later.

True or False?

Marrying Paul was the best decision I have ever made.

True or False?

I wore my sister’s wedding dress in my wedding.

True or False?

I have been to 29 states in the U.S.  Many of them multiple times.  I have also traveled to Europe.

True or False?

Paul and I sleep on a full-size bed.

True or False?

Along with Paul, I sleep with 2-3 stuffed animals every night, sometimes even more.

True or False?

If Paul and I have children, we will adopt.

True or False?

Paul and I have lived in Illinois for a year and a half but still have a Texas license.

True or False?

I have constant pain in my right hand, arm, and shoulder.  I have had it since March 2008 and no one can figure out what’s wrong.

True or False?

I live in a constant and perpetual state of fear.  I have an extreme fear of failure.

True or False?

My dream is to stay at home, as a wife or as a mother.

True or False?

For the first 18 years of my life I lived in the same house.  For the first 25 years of my life, I lived in the same city.  In the last 5 years I have lived in 4 different cities (one of them twice, two different times), 2 different states, 3 apartments, 3 houses, 1 duplex,  and 1 trailer. 

True or False?

I am extremely sensitive and can cry at the drop of a hat.

True or False?

I am currently living gluten-free.

True or False?

Everything on this post is true.


Calling me ugly…

Calling me ugly won’t make you beautiful!  (powerful quote, huh)?

I watched Dr. Phil today (high quality T.V., I know) and it was about “bullying” in high school.  Dr. Phil had a guest on the show that was bullied in high school (10 years ago) and it still traumatizes her to this day.  It went on to say things about her children (how she homeschools them b/c she doesn’t want them to go to public school and be bullied, she whitens their baby teeth so they won’t be made fun of, how she buys her daughter the nicest things so she won’t feel bad, etc.)

Anyway, I just got to thinking about “bullying.”

In high school I was not popular (whatever that really means) but I wasn’t classified as a nerd (at least I don’t think so, maybe I was) either.  I’m not sure what class I would fall into, if I would at all.  I graduated from a class of about 500, which means there were about 2,000 people in my high school.

Maybe there was bullying and I just didn’t know it.

Maybe people made fun of me and I just didn’t know it.

Of course there were certain groups that existed, by natural division (cheerleaders, football players, band members, etc) but I don’t think it was on purpose, other than that’s what they participated in.  The lines were pretty defined, as in we rarely had cheerleaders in band (I was in band) or football players in band (although there were a few that were the exception), but I don’t think having those lines was a bad thing; it just meant that we all had different interests.

I don’t remember there being bullies in my grade.

I don’t remember “bullying” anyone.

I guess things have really changed in the past 12 years, since I graduated.  Or maybe I am just naive.

Here are some statistics that I found….that are really saddening…

Here are some School Bullying Statistics from 2009 Surveys:

*Over 75% of our students are subjected to harassment by a bully or Cyber-Bully and experience physical, psychological and/or emotional abuse.

*Over 20% of our kids admit to being a bully or participating in bully-like activities.

*Over one half of bullying & Cyber-Bullying events go unreported to authorities or parents.

*In 2009 surveys showed over 100,000 children carried guns to school as a result of being bullied.

*28% of students who carry weapons in school have witnessed violence in their homes.

*On a daily average 160,000 children miss school because they fear they will be bullied if they attend classes.

*On a monthly average 282,000 students are physically attacked by a bully.

*Every seven minutes a child is bullied on a school playground with over 85% of those instances occurring without any intervention.

*46% of males and 26% of females admit to having been involved in physical fights as a result of being bullied.

*Over 85% of our teenagers say that revenge as an aftermath of being bullied is the leading cause for school shootings and homicide.

*The top 5 states in regards to reported incidents of bullying and Cyber-Bullying are California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

*A child commits suicide as a direct result of being bullied once every half hour with 19,000 bullied children attempting to commit suicide over the course of one year.


Paul and I headed to Wisconsin on Friday afternoon for a quick (less than 24 hour) trip to see Andy and Kara.  Kara is one of my dearest friend (actually my closest “girlfriend” I have, even though we don’t live close to each other) and she and her husband, Andy, live in Osh Kosh, WI (at least for 2 more weeks).

They are moving to the Netherlands (Amsterdam) so we went to see them one more time.  We also picked up a mattress/box spring and an ottoman/glider from them.  They are hardly taking anything with them to Amsterdam (they’ll buy stuff when they get there), so we took some stuff on their hands.

Here’s our pic:

Thanks, Andy and Kara!!  We will miss you so much!  🙂

T.R.A.I.L. Kids

This fall we are hoping to launch our T.R.A.I.L. program with some of our older kids that have come to camp.  T.R.A.I.L. stands for Transforming, Renewing, And Impacting Lives for Christ.

The idea is that each one of us on staff (and hopefully some volunteers as well) will be paired up with two-three students (ages 11 and up, roughly) to disciple for three years.  We will do bible studies with them, hang out with them at least 3 hours a week, and just invest in their lives.  We are hoping with that, they can, in return, go into their schools and be a witness to their friends and even to their families at home.

So, this summer, we’ve been having some kids come back each week, to help “serve” and do some extra “fun” stuff at camp.  Two weeks ago we had 7 teenage boys come out.  Well, 4 of them ended up having to go home for fighting, but Paul got to really hang out with the other three, and in fact, one of the T.R.A.I.L. boys accepted Christ when he was here two weeks ago.  Paul was able to go swimming with them at Shore Acres Pool and then go hiking with them at Mattiessen one day. 

We frequent those two places often, if you can’ t tell.

Well, this week we have had 3 T.R.A.I.L. girls come back to “serve” and have a little fun, while being discipled.  Yesterday I was able to go to Shore Acres pool with them (no pictures, unfortunately).  But, today we went to Mattiessen and went hiking.

Here are some pictures….please ignore how hot and sweaty we look.  Yesterday and today is has been H-O-T, HOT!!  It’s been 93 with a heat index of 104!!

the humidity was so high, my lens kept fogging up

two of our girls playing in the water

God's pretty cool, huh?

Cat and Shannon hanging out

please ignore the sweatiness and the awkward pose...our camper completely missed the waterfall in the back

she got the waterfall that time...

Cat playing in the waterfall

God's natural creation for us to enjoy....how can you NOT believe in God?