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.
As I wrote in my last post I have been having a difficult time writing lately. I have realized more and more why and the reality is, I have so much to deal with each day that at the end of, or even the beginning of the day, I have had very little brain power left to use on creative outlets of any kind. However, many of my writings come from moments or events in my life that strike me when I am processing them with others around me. During my Christmas break I was having a conversation with Heidi, that I have since had with others as well, about where I am right now in life.
This last year has been a whirl wind of change. It has all been really wonderful and fun, and while I have truly loved every minute, this is absolutely not where I thought I would be this time last year.
January of 2012, I was living in Kansas City, building a great community of friends, making plans to live in the home I was currently living in and talking with my roommates about what the next year would hold for them so we could begin deciding if we needed to find roommates to replace any of them in May. There was no question at that time whether I would be staying or not, but then in the end I was the one who was going to need a replacement. The point however, is that I was settling in, creating roots and making a home for myself and my new life. Little did I know that in just a few months I would be making the choice to uproot my life all over again and begin an entirely new and crazy adventure.
In April of 2012 I moved to southwest Missouri to step into the roll of Director of Barnabas Prep at Camp Barnabas.
I love my life!!!! So very much. I love what I am doing each day. However, the place that I am finding myself is a very interesting place in which I have never been before. ( Which is saying a lot for me – not out of pride, just out of fact – I have done a lot in my life and for a season to be totally new is exciting and awesome to see how the Lord can continue to surprise me with my life.)
I am in this weird limbo where I belong many places but I am not completely settled anywhere. I live full time at Barnabas with all our people so I have a place to call home and a community surrounding me so in the truth of a settled place this is where I live and belong. The thing is, that this is my living community and each day is truly all about relationship, but I am still the boss/leader which makes this community and these relationship different most days.
My life where I get to just be Sherryk is spread out between three different areas, Springfield, NWA, and Kansas City. These are the three places that I hop between in terms of meaningful relationships that are not about my job. Most of my co-workers with Barnabas who are all good friends live in Springfield, my life long friends and family all live in NWA, and the same kind of relationships are also in Kansas City. So I have been in all three places this year off and on.
I love everything about each place and that is what makes it all so difficult!
I am in each place long of enough to still have deep relationships, but not long enough to truly be invested anywhere.
I have felt from the Lord several times Him saying that He just wants me all to Himself in the season and I have had several people in my life speak the same thing which has been simply confirmation to that very feeling. I don’t completely know what that means and why this is the Lord’s heart for me right now but, it seems to be the truth.
I am still loving it but, there are moments that I miss just being in one place and settled but then when I really stop and truly think about it, I am living such a great adventure each day!!!!
I have no idea on a regular basis what my day is going to hold. My job is truly an adventure each day but then everything outside of that time is also this element of just going and doing and letting the Lord work.
In this time I have had: amazing conversations; times of hanging out with people that I would have never hung out with; amazing times of worship and prayer with people I don’t normally get to worship and pray with; such amazing times of being a source of adventure for those around me and them getting provide adventure in my life; and just times of sweet peace and joy.
This time is amazing and challenging all at the same time. Full of life and people and yet, a little lonely. Blissfully satisfying and yet, missing something at moments. It is an everyday experience of contradiction. However, when I really stop to think about it and pray about it all, I truly wouldn’t have it any other way right now. It is a rather beautiful place to be.
I still have desires and dreams for things but for now I am simply loving this strange world of belonging everywhere.