Saturday, July 30, 2011

Running the Race

We just got home from 2 more weeks at Ponca Bible Camp, one of our favorite places on the entire planet. As usual, God was at work, and we had an amazing time seeing Him do His thing. As an adult going to camp as a leader you go in with the role of serving the kiddos, teaching them about Jesus, equipping them to live all out for Him, and making sure they have a terrific time in the process (not to mention making sure that they are safe, take showers, and remember to take all their stuff home with them on the last day). But God always ends up showing me that I have quite a few things to learn as well. And somehow He uses the kids, changing their role from my "students" to my "teachers."

These past 2 weeks were different than any other year I have been at camp. My main responsibility was to take care of Coralyn. I guess that was my primary role last year too, but I could put her in a Johnny-Jump-Up or her wheely cart thing and she was good to go. If I absolutely had to, I could wear her in a carrier. This year that was definitely not possible. I was hoping that she would want to sit and play with her trucks all week like she had when Lawrence was watching her and I was counseling earlier this summer. We brought the trucks along, but I don't think she touched them but one time the entire 2 weeks! Instead, we spent our time going up and down the steps, playing with balls on the basketball court (in the heat of the sun), pretending a ladder laying on the ground was a boat, attempting to play ping pong or pool or foos ball, drinking countless cone cups of water, making just as many trips to the bathroom, and jumping on the bed. The hard part wasn't keeping her entertained as there was plenty to do; the hard part was having enough energy to keep up with her! I wasn't feeling well at all, and by 9 am I was ready to call it a day! Thankfully, I did get to take a nap every afternoon while Coralyn slept. I don't know how I would have made it otherwise!

Anyway, about the stuff God taught me...

The first week, the speaker was a missionary with Wycliffe. He showed the kids how so many different people doing so many different things are needed to accomplish missions work, and how God uses every role to get the job done. I was praying earnestly for the kids to catch the vision of missions and realize how they can be involved, not just when they grow up, but right now. Several kids did share on the last night how they want to go into missions work someday, but what really blew me away was how God worked in the counselors' hearts. Almost all of them mentioned in our last staff devotion how God had shown them a way they can use their talents for the sake of missions. I was so thrilled, I had goosebumps. All this talk about missions (especially since the speaker's daughters had just returned from Uganda) stirred up my own desire to serve overseas once again.

God seems to have other plans for us right now though. And I am okay with that because I see Him so at work in our lives and how He is doing something that is totally different than I ever expected when I graduated from Moody and thought I had my life figured out :)

At this time, God is affirming, shouting out really, that we are right where are supposed to be, that we are running the race He has set before us (as the speaker talked about the 2nd week). Lawrence and I both feel that God has given us a ripe mission field right here in Liberty. It is kind of two-fold.
First, as a teacher Lawrence has the opportunity to develop relationships with his students throughout the year. As a result, he is able to invite his students (and the boys in the Boys to Men program he does) to camp. And the awesome thing is that those students end up inviting their friends and there is this huge ripple effect as kids come who we don't even know. I was crying this year as I watched him talk to the 9 boys and girls from his school on the last night. He challenged them to be bold at school (like David and Daniel and Josiah who they learned about during the week) and to invite their friends to come back next year. He taught them a secret code they will have so that they can talk about how they are doing in their relationships with Jesus. The coolest part of all is that every kid in that circle left knowing Jesus as their personal Savior (not all of them came that way on Sunday). I am already excited about next year and seeing who God will bring to camp and how He will work in those kiddos' lives.
Second, we are now licensed to be foster parents. During our classes, we were told that a child hadn't been taken into custody for about 6 months. Knowing this, we didn't figure that we would get our first call to have a child stay with us for a long time. WRONG! On the Friday before we left for Ponca, we sat down to figure out the schedule, activities, etc. and were planning on packing for camp so that we could leave Saturday afternoon. Just minutes after we turned on the computer, the phone rang. It was a call for a placement! We quickly changed gears and were even thinking about taking the foster child (I can't post his name or pictures) with us to camp, as he is 11 and would be the age of the campers. We rushed to Wal-Mart to buy paint and curtains to get his room ready. Our minds were going a thousand miles an hour as we tried to figure out everything we needed to do to be the most prepared to add an 11-year old boy to our family. Ends up we weren't able to take him with us to camp, but he will be joining us on Tuesday. I am scared and nervous and excited all at the same time. I have no idea how to raise an 11-year old boy (let alone an almost 2-year old girl who is my flesh and blood)! I have no idea if he will like us or enjoy being in our home or if he will connect with us at all. I have no idea what kind of food he likes to eat or what his favorite color is. I am going in this blind. Except that God is going to show me what to do, every step of the way. I truly believe that God has placed this boy with us for a very specific reason (don't know what it is yet, but I know there is one). I know that I am going to be stretched and challenged in ways that I never have before. I also feel like I am going to learn about God's love for me in a whole new way and how to show that love to those around me. I know that I can't do this, that I will make mistakes, but in a way, I have a peace about that. It's at times when I am helpless and have to totally depend on God that I draw closest to Him and learn the most from Him. I have a feeling that I am going to be on my knees quite often in the next few days and weeks.
As if God is telling me that foster parenting is the exact mission field He has for me (and that I don't need to be thinking about the future and the what ifs of going overseas), we have received yet another call for a placement and an e-mail request as well. Just since we got back from camp, yesterday. Of course we were not able to say yes to those placements as we are trying to get our house back in order and get everything ready for Tuesday. Still, I can hear God loud and clear: "You're right where I want you!"

And so we will keep on running this race that God has laid out for us. We have no idea what lies ahead, but we do know that God is going to show us the path He has for us and that He will be with us every single step of the way.

Will you please run this race with us by praying for us and our foster child? We certainly need as many people on the sidelines as we can get, cheering us on and helping us stay on track.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Great Outdoors

Lawrence and I love to be outdoors and to go camping. However, we haven't been camping as a family since Coralyn was born. We decided it was time to "fix" that "problem." So, after enjoying a wonderful couple of days with my parents in Whitewater, we headed out to the Lake of the Ozarks to introduce Coralyn to the "Great Outdoors." (She knows what the outdoors are, as she loves to play outside, but she's never experienced what it's like to live outdoors for a few days.)

We arrived at our campsite and began setting up right away. Well, let me rephrase that. Lawrence got the tent ready while I made sure Coralyn didn't run off into the "Wild Blue Yonder." As soon as she got out of the vehicle, she was ready to explore. Before long, she had discovered all the sticks and rocks around our campsite. She also saw the playground that wasn't too far away, so of course we made numerous trips to swing and slide throughout our stay. After we were all set up and had eaten supper, we took off to find the "beach" so we could cool off in the water. To save time, we didn't bother to change into our swimsuits, but Coralyn didn't seem to mind swimming in her big girl pants instead. :) Before going to bed, we decided we should clean up a bit and visited the showerhouse. Coralyn enjoyed her first shower and thought it was so much fun to stand under the water. I just had to make sure she didn't get too excited and slip on the wet floor. We figured she would be exhausted after our full day, so when we put Coralyn to bed (in her pack and play in her very own tent), we expected her to fall asleep relatively quickly...

Three hours later, she was still going strong, trying to figure out how to unzip her tent. Granted, the lovely people next to us had bright lights all around their campsite and were playing their music a bit too loudly for my taste, at midnight at least. Not to mention, it was pretty hot and muggy. We gave Coralyn some water, which she gulped down, and finally she gave up and went to sleep. She did wake up several times through the night, though, so neither Lawrence or I got much sleep.

However, we were ready to go the next morning, excited to explore some trails and let Coralyn ride a pony. Coralyn made up for her lack of sleep the night before and didn't wake up until just before 9! Oddly, she refused breakfast and was quite cranky. She seemed kind of hot as well, but I figured that was due to the humidity and warm weather. Nope! After a few hours, I realized that she was teething. And true to her pattern, she would run a mild fever, be extremely cranky and clingy, and want to sleep all day. So that's what she did. We did try to have her ride Rony the Pony, but she wanted absolutely nothing to do with him (she enjoyed "riding" the wooden pony at the zoo so much we thought she would get a kick out of being on a real horse, but not on teething day). We wanted to try at least a small hike, so we saddled Coralyn up in the Kelty and Lawrence carried her on his back. It was a good thing the hike was only a mile long because Coralyn was ready for a nap by the time we got back to the vehicle. We pulled her pack and play out of her tent and put it under a tree so she could be in the shade and have some fresh air. I figured there was no way she would go to sleep with so much activity all around her, but she was out in no time. And she slept for over 3 hours! When she woke up, we decided to go swimming to cool off. That was the only thing Coralyn smiled about all day! She absolutely loved being in the water and even added a new word, "swimmin'" to her vocabulary. She quite pretty good at kicking her legs and staying afloat (with the help of her lifejacket) all by herself. After swimming and super, we headed into town to buy a fan. We figured we would all sleep better the second night if we had some air blowing on us. We moved Coralyn's pack and play into our big tent and prayed she would sleep better. We put her down around 9 and she was asleep within minutes!

Thankfully, she woke up her happy self the next morning. As usual, her teeth had popped through and the crankiness was gone. We had our busy, busy, busy little girl back. She was up and about, collecting rocks and shooing away flies, telling them, "GO!" and "NO!" if they came anywhere close to her. :) She still didn't want to ride Rony, but we wouldn't have been able to do that anyway. About the time Lawrence had the tents down, it started to rain. We quickly loaded everything up before all our stuff (and us) got soaked. We stopped by the horses, just to say HI, on our way out of the park. Our hotel room was ready early so after grabbing some coffee and a smoothie at Starbucks, we headed to Tan-Tar-A for our day of relaxation. (Every time we go camping, we like to end with one day of "treating" ourselves.) By the time we reached the hotel, the rain had stopped, so we immediately changed into our swimming suits and headed to the pool. It had a big slide, and of course Coralyn wanted to try it out right away. I think we went down that thing at least 10 times in a row! Each time we popped out of the slide and into the water, Coralyn would shout, "Again!" Back up the stairs we would go for another trip down the slide. She had so much fun! We did stop a few times at the baby pool, and she played in the mini fountains there. Every time we tried to go into the big pool though, she would point to the slide and say, "Come here. Slide!" She would practically pull us out of the pool and drag one of us toward the slide, yet again!

Eventually, we headed back to the room for lunch and to see if Coralyn would take a much-needed nap. Oh no, there was too much to do! After playing in her bed for about an hour, we figured she wasn't going to sleep. Off we went to the Bridal Cave. At first, Coralyn wasn't too sure about being underground in a dark place, but by the end of the tour, she was walking all by herself and pointing out the rocks and the water puddles. When I asked her if she wanted me to carry her, she would answer, "No, I walk." And walk, she did, almost the entire way out of the cave. The cave was amazing, and I was in awe of how God takes such time and care to create things like that.

The cave tour didn't take as long as we expected, so instead of going directly to a Mexican restaurant for supper, we headed back to the hotel. And then to the pool, where we went down the slide another 20-30 times! Finally, we were all hungry and ready for some chips and salsa. :) To work off our tasty meal, we went to a really cool putt-putt golf course. Being the ever competitive people that we are, Lawrence and I were each determined to "win" the game. About half way through, I saw that there was a coupon for a free concrete from Andy's for the person who won the game. Sadly, I lost by one measly stroke, but Lawrence shared his ice cream with Coralyn and me, so we were all winners in my book. The people at the putt-putt place were even nice enough to let Coralyn have her own kiddy golf club and ball, which kept her occupied for about the first 10 holes. Not bad!

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel. The restaurant place was called the "Bear's Den" and several stuffed/mounted bears were on display. Coralyn wanted to see them, and throughout the entire meal, she kept pointing to each one and saying, "Bear Bear." I was surprised she wanted to get so close and wasn't afraid at all. Most of the time when we go to the zoo she is a bit nervous around the animal sculptures or if the animals are right up against the glass in their cages. These stuffed/mounted bears didn't phase her one bit though and she was happy to take a picture next to them, grinning and saying, "Cheese" the whole time!

Overall, I would say that Coralyn's first camping experience was a success. She was a real trooper, and I hope that she will grow to love the "Great Outdoors." After this trip, we decided that we should make going camping an annual event in the Young household. We'll see how things go next year, with a 2 and half year old and a 6 month old baby! :)

(Once again, I tried to include pictures, but for some reason, they just came out as the weird computer code lingo stuff that I don't have any clue what means...if anyone knows what my problem is and how I can download the pictures so they show up as pictures, that would be fantastic!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Deep Breath

Finally, we have internet on our computer at home!!!! No more trips to the library to check email and facebook while trying to keep Coralyn quiet, and in one place. Last time I went, I ended up fixing a chair. She somehow managed to unscrew part of the chair and the seat about fell off! We did figure out how to install the internet on our Wii and that was very nice since I could use the "computer" while Coralyn took a nap. However, it wasn't the most convenient to switch from keyboard to the Wii remote and have to move up and down and back and forth to make things work. It was definitely better than nothing though! I much prefer using my own computer, in the comfort of my home, during the peace and quiet and tranquility of nap time! Which is why I am ever so thankful for our friend Brent, who figured out how to install the internet for us on our refurbished computer. I am one happy girl!

Now, to catch you up on the last month and a half of our lives here in the Young household...Take a deep breath and dive into our busy, fun lives!

Since the computer crashed in the middle of May, I will start there. Lawrence finished his 5th year of teaching 3rd grade here in Liberty. And then began teaching summer school just a few days later, so not much of a break for him there. We did manage to take a trip to the zoo and got a family pass, which we have used many times since then. Coralyn LOVES the animals and is saying many of their names and sounds now. This morning she saw the tiger magnet on the fridge, said, "ROAR," and then "Zoo," as if she was making the connection that the tiger lives at the zoo. Later, as we put the stroller in the Yukon to go to Crown Center, she asked if we were going to the zoo, knowing that we always take the stroller with us when we go to the zoo. I think she's pretty smart to be making these connections, but I am kind of biased :)

Anyway, back to our busy lives...We have also visited Deanna Rose once. Coralyn wasn't too sure about being so close to the animals, but she did enjoy feeding a baby goat with a bottle. Carson and her loved playing in the playground area more than anything though. Go figure! :)

While Lawrence taught summer school, I watched Xander and Tatum Salas three days every week. We had lots of fun playing together. We made several treks to the park, "swam" in our little whale pool, ran around in the front and back yards, finger painted, played dress up, and just had a great time.

On the days that I didn't have any daycare kiddos, Coralyn and I would make our own fun. We went to Crown Center and visited the Rainforest exhibit. We also took the Link over to Union Station and saw the trains. She couldn't stop saying, "Choo! Choo!" as she ran around looking at all the trains. And of course we went to the zoo...once on our own, once with the Popps, and once with the Sellars. Each time we had so much fun. Of course, I didn't enjoy getting drenched the last time when it decided to pour as we were walking from the cheetah exhibit to the bathroom. Despite getting soaked myself, Coralyn stayed dry. I even had her in big girl pants the whole time, and she didn't have a single accident!!!!

Speaking of potty training, she is just about 100% there. Usually, I just take her to the bathroom every 30 minutes to an hour to prevent accidents. She does a great job of using the potty and very rarely has any accidents. But last night she actually went into the bathroom all by herself. She did need some help getting her shorts down, but I was so proud of her for knowing that she needed to go potty!

Coralyn also did fantastic during our week at Ponca. We switched things up and went for high school week this year. I counseled (scary!) and Lawrence cooked. Well, his main responsibility was taking care of Coralyn, so he didn't get to spend that much time in the kitchen. He did a fabulous job with Coralyn though. Every day she had a different hairstyle, complete with ponytails or pigtails and bows that matched her outfits. We took along her trucks, and I think she probably played with those about 80% of the time. The other 20% consisted of running around with a ball or doing tricks on the handrails. She is quite the gymnast! We did get to take a hike all together and Coralyn enjoyed that. She kept pointing out the flowers and trees and everything else that we saw. Every time we would ask her who made the flowers or trees or whatever she was telling us about, and she would say, "God!" So precious to see my little girl learn about our Creator and Savior!

We've been back from camp for a week now and are gearing up for our next adventure. This weekend we will spend the July 4th holiday with my parents in Whitewater. My dad is so excited to take Coralyn to the Sedgwick County Zoo. I am looking forward to going and seeing the place as an adult since I remember going there as a child. From Whitewater, we will head to the Lake of the Ozarks to camp for a few days and then treat ourselves to a night at Tan-Tar-A Resort before heading back home. We'll have a week to "relax" and then we will be off to Ponca for 2 more weeks. When we get back, it will be time to swing into school mode once more! My how time flies! :)

Well, I think that about catches us up on our lives. Oh, I will be 17 weeks along in this pregnancy come Sunday. I have heard the baby's heartbeat. At my 13 week appointment, Amber was super patient and after praying, we did get to hear the baby's heart for just about 30 seconds! I definitely longed for that! We will have another appointment soon and have a sonogram around 20 weeks or so. We do plan on finding out the gender of the baby, but once again the name will be a surprise until the little one makes his/her debut into the world. :) I am still feeling sick and icky a lot of the time, but I did with Coralyn until the day she was born. So, I am just prepared to deal with nausea until December! I figure it means the baby is healthy and growing and that is GOOD. I will take being sick if it means a happy, healthy baby in a few months!

We also signed our contract to start foster parenting, so any day we could get a call asking if we would like some children to join our family for a time. We have the room all ready (well, we could do some painting) and are as prepared as we can be. It will be exciting to see how God uses this to impact the kids who come into our home as well as teach us and help us stretch and grow.

Okay, I have talked (written) for long enough! I hope you are all doing well and enjoying life to the fullest! Thanks for taking time to catch up on our lives! :)