If you have not read the introduction to this months theme I would encourage you to do so. The intro was written by Heidi and it is such an amazing post and a beautiful story to be heard.
I work for Camp Barnabas specifically as the director of Barnabas Prep. Barnabas Prep is a live-in teaching program for young adults with special needs, and with this there is a lot of work everyday. Class time, work time and so much social teaching and learning that we as a whole are constantly working on.
In all of this work we are sure to make time for some fun things that not only provide a great time together but also truly celebrate are students abilities and personalities. There are two recent events that we have attended and both give a great example of what some of the real beauties there are to behold in this world. I will be sharing on both of these events in two separate post because they each have their own story to be told.
The Missouri Ms. Amazing pageant was an event that myself, the students and staff in my program attended in mid- March in St. Louis MO and it truly stood up to it’s name… it was absolutely amazing.
The Ms. Amazing pageant is a pageant that is specifically for ladies of all ages with special needs and give them the opportunity to experience the excitement of a pageant. It is a true “Beauty Pageant” in which all of the ladies learn how to walk on stage, they go to interviews with the judges, and then they are escorted onto stage by great guys ( who this year many of the guys not only were very attractive but had hunky European accents… which was a lovely bonus of all of us who were chaperons to all of the ladies).
The difference however about this pageant is the way that all of the girls are not only treated but the lessons they learn. They are treated incredible all day with people pampering them doing makeup and hair.
One can see as the day goes on that the participants begin to see in of themselves more and more that they are confident and special women and by the end of the night when they walk across the stage they are truly walking in that new found identity.
They are treated like princess and they learn that they ARE princesses.
Each girl walks away with a trophy and a crown on their head.
Did we all hear that?…. Each one is crowned and has their moment to shine simply because they were created to do so! They were created beautiful.
Along with the awards they receive and being escorted by guys they get professionals to do their hair and makeup, they get a girl buddy to be with them all day and become their new bestie and then they get to wear fancy evening gowns when they do the stage portion. In the interviews they are asked about things in their lives that actually matter to them such as; “Do you have a pet, and why do you love your pet? What is your favorite color? If you could go anywhere where would it be?”
Each one of our girls were so encouraged not only in feeling beautiful but they were encouraged in the fact that they matter. This is the element that made this pageant different from all the rest.
This is what not only sets this pageant apart but is what sets the girls apart… that they alone matter because of what is inside of their hearts and those things are the very things that make them beautiful.
They saw something that all of us who are with them each day and those who love them already know.
They are worth not only knowing but celebrating.
Our boys also escorted the girls onto the stage and were recognized for their chivalry and value as men. Often in the world men with special needs are not seen as grown men, they are seen as men with special needs, which can set them apart as not real men. At this pageant the guys with special needs were seen as men who could valiantly escort lovely ladies onto the stage and help them feel as beautiful as they truly are.
While this pageant had all of the elements of a typical outward beauty pageant there was so much more. The beauty of the girls faces and confidences as the day went on was only something that could shine because of something that was happening from within.
I loved everything about this pageant for so many reason but the main reason was that this pageant not only saw the beauty of the girls physical person as being women but they looked past that in every element of the pageant and every part of it and looked into who each girl was inside. They looked beyond the beauty on the outside and searched for the beauty on the inside of these lovely ladies.
Those who began this program saw that all girls have a longing to know that they were created beautifully and in light of that each women desires so much to feel beautiful inside and out.
What we saw as we watched this pageant was that these girls were made by the God of beauty and that it wasn’t enough to simply tell them about their beauty but that it was vitally important to show them and help them believe it as solid truth within all their hearts.
This is the mission that God has called me and so many others to in this life, helping these truths become real truths to those who may struggle finding them or holding on to them when they do.
This pageant was a reminder to this mission and to this truth and I am so grateful for it, not that I had forgotten it but simply a reminder of how important of a calling it truly is in this world.
Love….. such a word in our culture.
Often it is just that, a word. In the same breath that we say we have the deepest and most adoring love for someone we also so passionately proclaim the love we have for the new Taco Bell Doritos taco. We are not only a culture that doesn’t understand true love but we don’t even have the words in our language to begin to understand it.
While you may have high hopes that today I am going to give you all the answers that your heart has been longing for for so long – the things that, when heard, they will instantly make everything come into play and make sense – well… I will be letting you down today because I don’t know either. ( I know you are thinking… wait what the heck?!? I thought this was going somewhere) ”It is, and it isn’t” would be my answer to that thought.
I am going to share with you where I am in my journey of learning what real love means and then I will also be sharing with you somethings we have in store over a period of time to open the door for others to step in here at the nothings and give us a small glimpse into this huge idea of love.
Valentines is coming up in our american culture and for a 29 year old girl who isn’t married I am supposed to be obligated to hate this holiday… The truth is I actually don’t mind it; it is kind of fun at times. But I do have small moments in which I do feel a strong emotion of dislike about it, mostly in stores. But, when I stop and look at the motive of why I have this strong emotion, I get a glimpse into who I really am and where I truly am.
It is the nagging reminder that there is something greater out there that, at moments, feels like I am the only human that hasn’t figured out the formula to gain access to it.
But the truth, when I stop and cry out to the Lord, is that I just don’t understand true and real love.
I have to remind myself often that what I see around me in February every year isn’t the truth I should be looking for. Which can I add, that February is the same month as my birthday. So somewhere in the month I have a moment where I feel robbed by Saint Valentine. Then at some point I usually lash out irrationally at him and how he had to be so great as to have done a holiday in MY month… but then I move on and realize it wasn’t his fault he was just trying to do good in the world. So, in order to save face here… Way to go dude!
Now, back to my point. Often what we see in this love emphasized time is not the real Love of Jesus. Jesus talked about love being the very thing that causes us to lay down our lives for another. How can that love be the love we celebrate with a heart shaped balloon that says Be Mine? That is the key it isn’t… it can’t be.
I am not married as I have said before, but I have loved and lost; I have family and close friends so when we talk about the love that lays downs one’s life, that I can get behind and understand. The Lord has had me on a journey for over a year where he has been talking to me and moving in my heart and mind to really understand Him as a Bridegroom. It has been a challenging concept for me, yet so powerful. I have been in John 17 a lot, and the first time I ever read it from the perspective of what a husband is supposed to be I understood more than ever real love.
“While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the scripture might be fulfilled.’ -John 17:12
Here we see something so familiar… while I was with them I have kept them… I have guarded them…. Will you keep her in sickness and in health… This is Christ’s commitment to us just as vows often hold a husband and wife to commit to one another.
This is real love…. The love that keeps us… the love that guards us to no end to the point in which not one of them has been lost.
This is what real love is beginning to mean to me more and more not just from a person to person perspective but from my Savior as well. That He desires to keep me and guard me and not just me but all. This is also meant to be a resounding definition of real love. A love that holds fast to the commitments it makes and the love that isn’t always easy, but always powerful.
This is the start here at the busynothings where we are going to be walking down a path to discover stories of those who have either grabbed onto, understand a small piece, or have experienced a shred of what this real love looks like in this fallen and broken world.
Gracie Martin will be our first post tomorrow and she will be sharing several chapters in her story of earthly love that has done nothing but bring glory to the Lord and helped many others around her and her husband understand how the Lord wants to reach beyond the boarders of heaven and shows us each day this real love.
Gracie, Jacob and I have been friends for 4 years. I was great friends with Jacob before him and Gracie dated and as Gracie came into the picture the Lord truly knit our hearts together in wonderful ways as friends, counselors, and sisters for one another.
I was honored to get to be a small part of their relationship and help them walk through so much individually and together in many aspects. I was honored by getting to stand with them at their wedding and still to this day will never forget the feeling of victory in the room as they married in front of many who knew the journey they had come down and had full faith that the Lord would use them in mighty ways.
Gracie is a passionate person in all that she does. She is a person who loves well and who hates to be recognized for the good she does. I wrote about her and Jacob in a post earlier this year about the NWA: Water Walk, which is a wonderful cause, however, now I am looking forward to all getting to know Gracie’s beautiful heart.
I am passionately excited to see what all her story will bring about in the world around her and in the lives that are stretched out through computer screens all over.
We will also be bringing others to tell their stories in this journey. This is something that we desire many others to join in with comments and if you have stories to contact us and we will give you a place to share.
We desire for ourselves and the world around us to begin to learn from others and understand a real love that changes all it touches.