Get on that bus!

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For year I’d yearned to go to Joni and Friends Camp.  I’d see it advertised on the website and feel a tug on my heart.  The problem was, five years ago, the closest one was in Northern California.  Then I discovered that there was one to be held in Rockaway, Oregon at Twin Rocks Friends Camp and this new location was only an hour and a half from my house! 

It might as well have been 5,000 miles, because I couldn’t drive and I had a great, big scooter, which is difficult to transport.  But this time, I was determined not to let that stop me!  Two friends of mine, one of which was also in a scooter, and I decided to take the bus from Downtown to Tillamook, then transferred to another bus that would take us right to camp.  When we arrived I was overcome by the joy and excitement that greeted us!

Joni and Friends Family Camp is held across the U.S. and in several other nations.  Often neglected and ignored, people with disabilities are impacted by the thousands from this camp experience.  At Joni and Friends Camp each person is celebrated!  New friendships are formed, there are fun and games for everyone, as well as the opportunity to hear a message of hope that Christ offers.

A few years ago, one of my newer friends came to camp for the first time.  She heard of God’s love and the next year, when she returned, she accepted Him as her Lord and Savior.  She is now a powerful witness for Him, as well as a significant part of the Portland Chapter of Joni and Friends.

Getting to camp that first year was a challenge, but I’m sure glad I took it!  A whole new world opened up for me when I decided to get on that bus.  Don’t let life’s challenges stop you, but instead let them lead you to new opportunities. 

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A Fresh Breeze

For some reason I’ve been thinking about dryer sheets and the fresh fragrance of the air after a rain shower in the middle of the hot summer day. These seem to be very random thoughts, especially after my wonderful week at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference. So I thought, what do these two things have to do with anything? Then I realized the fresh scent is the encouragement from friends that are on the same journey as I am. It is the smiles, the victories, and the struggles we’ve shared together that bring encouragement to everyone along the path.

One of my dearest friends, April McGowan, was presented the Cascade Awards Writer of Promise Award. Besides enjoying her writing, she inspires me, because each day she struggles with an immunity disorder that could keep her from living life to the fullest. Instead, she lets her struggles bring a richness and depth to her writing, as well as her relationship with others. Receiving her encouragement, and the encouragement of others, seems like a breath of fresh air.

Before the conference I was excited, because this year I didn’t have an agenda other than to see friends and learn. The input I received from others gave me new hope and I appreciated how they looked at my writing with new eyes.

As I get ready to go to the Joni and Friend’s Family Camp it is my hope that I can encourage others the same way that I have been encouraged this past week.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15.