This was written on a board in the first room I walked into
this week at Spruce Lake!
Spruce Lake . . . sitting here in my cozy little nook pondering memories as I think back to some of the other weeks of Family Retreat I’ve been blessed to be part of here.

This week is my 52nd week of Family Retreat, that means as this week ends I will have spent one full year of my life at Family Retreat.  AMAZING!!!!  (And I am not the one with the longest history; Sib has me beat by several more weeks). 
Jerry though, is quick to remind me that if I add in my camping experiences with Oaks of Hebron (not to mention my own weeks as a child camper) the number far exceeds one year.   Ah, those weeks at Westminster Woods camp in Guerneville CA.  Talk about bringing a smile to my face!  But that will be the topic of another post, another day.
So back to those Spruce Lake memories . . . .
  • ·      Talking with a lady who brought her service dog with her.  Toward the end of the week she said, “you know what the difference is here?  Here people talk to me, not my dog.  It’s not like that at home.”
  •     Interacting with “Gina” who said Friday after Family Retreat she planned to drive her van off a mountain road, she just couldn’t live with disability anymore.  Thankfully she did NOT do that.  I saw her a couple years ago, and was thrilled to see her doing well.
  •      Meeting people who got out of their vans as strangers on Monday afternoon, and by Friday they left as friends.
  •         Hearing someone say, after being asked if they wanted to have a loud or soft greeting when they arrived, “usually people cheer (silently) when we leave – no one has ever cheered for us when we arrive!”
  •      Being blessed to hear those who love to sing, even if the world says they don’t have talent, praising God sincerely at the top of their voice.
  •       Watching a young person begin the week serving with great shyness and questioning if they could do this, and seeing them blossom and grow!
  •       Laughing at the thought of the men who decided to dye Jerry’s and Mike’s hair blonde.  Didn’t exactly turn out like anyone expected!  Or the time they shaved their heads . . 
  •      Hearing a young boy say how much he hated his sister with a disability, but by week’s end saying he loved his sister because she is the reason his family came to camp and he learned about Jesus!
  •      Listening and watching as “camp allergies” overtake even the biggest toughest guys when they care for a young one with special needs.
  •      Seeing couples walk hand in hand and asking how long has it been since they have had time alone without the kids?   Most can’t recall, though today one said, “well when my husband went to get gas last week I went with him!”
  •      Seeing churches begin to minister to families affected by disability because of experiences the pastor, and church members had at Family Retreat.
  •      Learning new lessons in what it REALLY means to trust in the Sovereignty of God when a camper goes missing for a time.
  •      Having my heart break again and again when families come in saying this is their last hope before divorce.  Disability in the family is just that hard!
  •      Having renewed thankfulness for my husband and marriage, which is also hard at times, but with God’s help we are living, loving and serving together!
  •      Hearing the young man with autism who has run by me for several years stop and say hello to me by name. 
  •      Being invited in to the photo taken by the young woman with Down Syndrome who clearly has her mind made up as to who she wants in which shots!
  •     Finding out that you are NOT the only one  in your situation and building relationships that last long past one week, or even a year.

Well, if you don’t believe me, or think I am exaggerating there is one sure way you can find out . . . join me in 2016 for my 53rd, 54th and 55th weeks of Family Retreat!