We Belong

This summer has been a whirlwind of activity.  Last week I got to go to the fourth annual Joni and Friends camp at Twin Rocks Retreat Center.  When I went there for the first year, it was like going to another world. The welcoming committee took my breath away and made me think of the way that heaven will be. In fact, the owners of the campground had prepared for us by replacing much of the gravel with sidewalks. This, in and of itself said ‘Welcome; you belong here!’

I am reminded of the verse in 1 Peter 2:9 when, it states, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. …” There are a lot of reasons why people do not feel ‘chosen.’ For instance, people with disabilities can feel set apart in a negative way when we are talked down to or ignored. We can feel like Tevye in ‘Fiddler on the Roof‘ when he says to God, “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?” Being chosen can often feel like a pain in the ankle, or a pain somewhere else too!

Our disabilities sometimes feel like warts that everyone can see! They can be very, very isolating.  At Joni and Friend’s camp there is an unconditional love in the air that causes the ‘warts’ to dissolve.  The short term missionaries (or buddies) embrace each camper by helping with any and all activities at camp, and this melts away the stigma of rejection. The parents get to rest knowing that their child is having a great time.  They also get to connect with other parents who share many of the same struggles as they do.

One of my favorite parts of camp is getting to know other people and what they are passionate about.  This last year at camp, I met so many great people with the same passions that I have. We ate together, square-danced, and were pampered with a little TLC (thank you Mary Kay for giving us makeovers and Cabi for decking us out in new clothes), but in all of this activity, what stood out to me was what Peter talks about in the first part of that verse, that we are all a chosen people.

In all of our struggles, sometimes it is hard to remember that we are chosen by God. Yes, we are.

Lyla at camp

(I’m sportin’ my new jacket, generously donated by Cabi)

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8 thoughts on “We Belong

  1. Sounds like a wonderful place! I think it would be a good experience for people without disabilities to go and learn how to be more involved in the lives of those who face physical challenges.

  2. It was so wonderful to see you at camp. This blog post really captured what Family Retreat is all about.

  3. What a great experience, Lyla Swafford! I’m sure you will remember it for many years. Thanks for sharing this with us. We do belong!

  4. Lyla, So PERFECTLY worded!!!! I had a great time there also!

  5. You rock, girl! Love this blog. Your voice is important in this world and I’m glad you are USING IT!!!! (And so beautifully.) You belong in my book forever.

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