So, I’m not usually very good about keeping this blog updated, but TWO months is a record, even for me!! Sorry for those of you who have been on the edge of your seats! J As usual, there’s lots to catch you up on, but I’ll try to keep it brief!
April brought us another new resident who has settled in quite easily. Shortly after his arrival, my parents flew in for a nice long visit. We were able to celebrate Easter with them. And despite the fact that they were here for 10 days, it seemed like a whirlwind. I felt like I had less time to see them than I had at Christmas. They didn’t seem to mind and the girls sure loved every moment of having them here! And a little birdy told me they might be coming down to celebrate the 5th birthday of a certain little girl we know (who is growing up entirely too fast!) While my parents were here, we also celebrated the dedication of Bucky’s Backyard – our playground.
We had a cookout and a dedication ceremony, where we paid tribute to a former resident who has been a great friend to Joy Ranch over the years. My mom got to talk with his sister some and it was incredible to hear some of the stories from their time living here. It is an honor to be a part of such a legacy, to be continuing on the vision of the McHenry’s. I wish I could have known them. Oh, one last highlight from April – I participated in the American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification at one of the local rec centers. It was a very busy weekend, but I passed with flying colors and am now a certified lifeguard! Yay! J
In May, Jason and several other staff members participated in Leadercast – a leadership seminar, which he enjoyed and from which he has applied some techniques here in the home. We also made some treats for Teacher Appreciation Week to let the kids’ teachers know how much we appreciate them and want to support what they do. We attended an arts & crafts festival in Pilot Mtn. NC. Just as we got there and started walking down the main street, it started down pouring! We ducked for cover in the nearest shop and waited it out. But overall, we had a fun time and even got to indulge in some cotton candy! Jason and I had a three-day weekend and got to spend it in Asheville, NC, visiting some friends who were in town for a CEF International conference. We haven’t seen them in almost a year, so that was a very sweet time.
While we were in Asheville, we just had to stop by the Billy Graham Training Institute and the Biltmore Estates. WOW! If you’ve never been, you should go. Both were just beautiful in their own ways and such a contrast to each other. Pictures don’t do them justice (particularly the Biltmore.)
The following week, we enjoyed a staff outing to Charlotte, NC and got to have lunch all together as a staff, which is a rarity and was quite a treat. It is a blessing to work alongside these individuals who love the Lord, these kids and each other.
The end of May brought with it the end of the school year and good byes to two residents. A bittersweet time, to be sure. Every time one of the boys leaves, it is bittersweet. We are still missing both of them. The boys are not missing being in school, however. And to celebrate, we held a campus-wide Luau. We decorated Bucky’s Backyard with a Hawaiian look, served up some delicious food and grooved to some tropical music. I think everyone had a great time! No sooner was the luau over than it was time to clean and pack up for the beach trip. Every year, Joy Ranch kids (and staff) get to have a week in Myrtle Beach. Well, Garden City Beach, to be precise. Some years ago, the Garden City Chapel & Retreat was founded and one of their ministries was, and is, to provide children’s homes with a beach vacation. They have a beautiful spot and provide great hospitality. While we were there, we got to: go mini golfing and shopping; go to Ripley’s Aquarium; go to a water park; and go to the Carolina Opry (and obviously we spent a considerable amount of time at the beach!) It was a blast. I think my favorite part was just watching the kids have fun.
Some of them have never been to the beach, some have never had a chance to be kids, some have never been on vacation. My heart is full to overflowing just recalling their faces last week. I think of one boy in particular who has had to take care of himself for much of his life and has had very little chances to just let go and have fun…he’s normally very stoic and not very excitable. If you asked him today (or even last week) if the beach trip was fun, he’d shrug and say with a straight-face, “It was ok.” However, last week, every time I saw him his eyes were lit up and he was wearing an ear-to-ear grin. He would repeatedly come up to staff and want to show them something, like the picture he just took. And looking through the pictures was so neat because it allowed us to see the trip through his eyes. It was obvious he thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s moments like these that I am reminded why I so love what we do, and am reminded that God called us here for such a time as this. When the days are hard or long or just plain bad, these moments keep me going.
Summer is stretching before us, and while I don’t quite know what it will look like (and am a little nervous about keeping kids occupied!) I know that it will be crazy, because that’s just how we roll here. There are camps, jobs, work projects, movies, home visits, festivals, youth group, Boy Scouts, appointments, Joy Fest – not to mention new residents that will be coming and all the day-to-day stuff that needs to get done. I am looking forward to lazy days just being together without the ridged constraints of the school year schedule, of spontaneous water wars, of picnics at the river, of making s’mores around a campfire, of memory making. What do YOU do to keep the kiddos entertained and make summer memories? I’d love to hear your ideas and inspirations!
Until next time…(which hopefully won’t be two months from now!) J
For HIS Glory,