National Family Caregiver Month Giveaway

It’s November! Thanksgiving is around the corner and it’s National Family Caregiver Month. The 2017 theme, “Caregiving around the clock,” is a perfect description of what love ones exhibit each day.

Do you know someone who is a caregiver? Caregiving can be a 24-hours a day/7-day a week job. Caring for a disabled loved one, a special needs child, or senior with Alzheimer can be non-stop. Providing care around the clock can often cross into other important areas of life–it can affect the entire family. Keys2hope recognize the challenges family caregivers endure providing “caregiving around the clock.”

Keys2hope is thanking all caregivers for their countless hours of labor-of-love. We are hosting our first GIVEAWAY and you can help! We are sending a 2018 Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar to ten caregivers—if your caregiver wins, we’ll send you a 2018 Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar too! 

 

2018 cow calendar

The 2018 Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar includes a little card attached to the back (pictured on the right) that features FREE Chick-fil-A food every month!

Here is how to enter the giveaway:

  • Follow @keys2hope on Instagram
  • Submit a caregiver and share their story via Instagram Direct Message
  • We will pick ten caregivers as winners, each receiving (1)-Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar
  • If the caregiver you submit wins, you’ll also receive (1)-Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar

 Note: winners are picked based on the most compelling stories.

 

I am honoring my mother, Denise Charleston and congratulating her on being a caregiver for almost five years. She is passionate about her siblings, family, and church members—really anyone she encounters. My mother loves through action. She’s the kind of person that will tell you how she’s helping vs. asking do you need help. Usually, she’ll pull all of us in on her “helping” (kids and husband)—we don’t always understand her “why” but, we have learned to just roll with it, because that’s how God uniquely created her–and we love her for it!

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My mom (top middle) and some of her siblings when they were teens. A young uncle Spencer (top right) long before his sick days.

A few years ago, my uncle had several back-to-back strokes that left him disabled. My mother stayed with him in the hospital every day for three months—she would take showers and change clothes at the hospital. I would come home from Virginia to visit—most times heading to the hospital to stay with my mom all day. Our family did everything together, so this was a weird spot for us. Attending church without my mom on Sundays was hard. We would rush back to eat dinner with her at the hospital cafeteria—actually, we would eat a lot of dinners during the week at the hospital cafeteria!

 

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My older brother trying not to take a picture with me at the hospital.

 

At the time, my little brother was in high school (playing football and running track) and my little sister was attending a local college (staying at home)—my dad had to rearrange his work schedule–great thing he’s an entrepreneur. Life for us changed drastically—we didn’t understand why my mom had to sacrifice her family, but she did it because she cared and she knew how people could slip away in that vulnerable state of thinking everyone abandoned them. 

 

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Dad, little brother, and I after the Mallard Creek Football Game

 

I asked my mom to explain why she stayed at the hospital everyday for three months. She replied:

I stayed there every day and night to provide moral support to my little brother. I shared his story with nurses and doctors—ensuring that they understood who he was before he had several strokes. I wanted to paint them a picture of who he was—to ensure they understood he was not some old man, ready to die with no life. He had family who loved and cared for him. I assisted the nurses, sometimes helped with bathing, provided range of motion, and ensured proper care was given daily. I also wanted to help him remember that God had a purpose. I wanted to emphasize the spiritual side to keep him encouraged, so I showed him preaching videos and Christ Gospel Church livestream services, Youtube videos of Gospel songs & artist, and old Church of God In Christ (COGIC) videos—it was important for him to remember his Christian roots, his family, and music—all the things that resonated with who he was. I played his favorite movies, showed him pictures, and people on Facebook that he knew—I tried to keep him current on life, to include him in our world. This is how he was going to get out of the hospital, this was how he was going to progress. I played his Christmas Instrumental CD (my uncle is a self-trained pianist, who composed a Christmas CD a few years ago)—to help him remember. The nurses and doctors said that’s what he needed. He needs his family and people who love him to come around.”

My mom was not trained in nursing or anything in the medical field. She was a real estate agent. My mom was the most unrealistic person to be a caregiver (SN: We don’t even put her down as an emergency contact person because she worries too much). It’s remarkable to see how she stretched herself because of love. She would later use her knowledge from the hospital to provide long-term care for my uncle.
 

It was not easy for me living in a different state and knowing that my mom constantly stayed at the hospital–I worried a lot about her health. My mom has a tendency to neglect herself because of caring for others. I could tell how much weight she was losing each time I visited home—she wasn’t always able to eat regularly and oftentimes, there was no one to relieve her or bring her food throughout the day (my dad was working and my sister didn’t drive).

I recall during this time that I was traveling a lot for work, in addition to living out of state. I met a fellow Marketing Director from Chick-fil-A–she and I were roomies for an event in D.C. She overheard me talking to my mom about my uncle and noticed that I looked worried. She asked if everything was okay. I shared the story with her and she told me that she worked at the Chick-fil-A down the street from the hospital. She offered to cater Chick-fil-A food to my family once she returned. I was shocked and utterly grateful (one more reason why I love Chick-fil-A). Unfortunately, she had to leave early due to a family emergency, but she stayed true to her word and surprised my family with Chick-fil-A trays.

That was almost five years ago! My uncle was released after three months and moved in with my family. My mother remains his caregiver with the help of a few nurses from time to time. Our family life has not changed much, Thanksgivings look a lot different, family trips are often missing my mom, but we know what she does is more important. It has taught us all that life is never what we expect. It has taught us to love through action, and to give from the heart. Most importantly, it has taught us how to love each other more and to keep God at the center.

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My mom & uncle Spencer last year at my aunt’s 70th Birthday Party–mom was praising God (party hosted at a church). 

I want to thank each person who visited the hospital and our home to see my uncle and to encourage my mom. Thank you for your countless hours of emotional relief to my mom and helping her remember that she is also loved and cared for. You all put my mind at ease. Church family is some of the best in the world.

Mom we salute you every day and thank God for your strength and will to endure. We celebrate your love and “caregiving around the clock.”

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Mom at her best–giving praises to God!

Keys2hope: Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  ~Philippians 1:6

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A Pie-In-the-Face kind of Week

It’s #thankfulthursday and I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I’ve survived this week. You ever have one of those days, like someone served you pie….in your face???

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Got pied at Summer Camp

 

My week seemed fine until Tuesday. For some odd reason all types of issues arose from a small scenario. It could’ve been me reading more into the situation or it really could’ve been the “truth.” Either way, I let it get to me way too much. Literally, I wanted to just remove myself from everyone and everything.

Ha, after much conversation with my family (#thankfulmoment), I can’t say that I really felt differently, but it did cause me to think a little deeper. Was I really about to throw away everything I learned and experienced spiritually because things and people weren’t like I expected them to be….really DeMishea!

 

It reminded me of several things:

 

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  • Us Millennials like to run away and start over—we live in a society that says it okay, there are always more options. I do agree, but I’m learning that it’s not always the best option. Sometimes working through your own thoughts and feelings is the issue—Not everyone else’s. The Bible says:

Great peace have they which love thy law (God’s commandments) and nothing shall offend them~Psalms 119:165 KJV

Man, God’s Word never lies and always points the finger right back at US.

  • One of our churches hosted a Young Adult Retreat earlier this month. Our main speaker talked about disunity within the church and how a lot of situations arise to get our eyes off course. As I shouted and praised God over how awesome that sounded, little did I know that a situation was waiting around the corner. As I reflect back to Tuesday, I definitely see how the scenario caused me to be disunified in my thoughts. And we all know that thoughts turn to actions. #Thankfulmoment that God showed me myself before I decided to act upon my thoughts.
  • It reminded me of the book, The Shack—ahhhhh, man that book is AWESOME.I recently saw the movie with my family and literally, it changed my perspective. There was this one quote that basically said, from day one of our lives we have judged others….we have sat on that throne condemning and judging what punishment or consequences a person should get. Nevertheless, we don’t want to be judged. Now it’s important to understand that judging and accountability are two different things. We as Christian brothers and sister have a godly duty to hold each other accountable. That’s another blog post 🙂 . Nevertheless, I realized I was sitting on the royal seat of the Judgement Throne–thank God for His quick snapbacks to help us understand where we are in the situation. These situations arise for us to understand what we have in our hearts—this is why we have to constantly repent–daily. Even as Christians we still have things we need to be delivered and set free from.

 

 

Keys2Hope: The fact is that God is too good and too gracious to ever walk away from! The fact is that we are all human and have things that we need to deal with. In another blog post: Got A Godly Celebrity Example? I talk about putting your trust in people and things vs. God. It discusses how the heart is deceitfully wicked—we need to first look to Jesus and the wonderful examples in the Word of God.

Secondly, be gracious enough to realize that everyone has a body of sin that is constantly being washed away—NO ONE IS PERFECT! Not leaders, pastors, mentors, teachers, parents, friends, spouses, significant others, siblings, absolutely no one—so be gracious! I’m most definitely talking to myself the loudest. We have a hard time seeing our own flaws, but God is so loving and wants us to get it right that He allows these situations, circumstance, people, places, and things to show us the things He needs to work on.

 

Share your #ThankfulThursday story! I love hearing #Thankfulmoments.

 

Hope and Blessings.

Football & Volunteering

cowboys me1I’m a true southern girl, who loves big hair, sweet tea, volunteering and all things FOOTBALL, especially anything about my #Dallas #Cowboys!!!! America’s team has done it again–super proud of my #Cowboys volunteering at the Salvation Army to aid with the  Harvey relief!

 

 

 

 

cowboys meIt’s my fan duty to share with everyone how awesome the Cowboys are, even off the field.

***I don’t want any judging comments 🙂  

 

The Cowboys have partnered with the Salvation Army for over 20 years, with initiatives such as the annual Red Kettle campaign during holiday season that running back Ezekiel Elliott made famous last year.

But don’t just take my word for it….check out this clip below for more details

 

One more…One more  🙂 🙂

Two of my favorite players showing in the video (all smiles)

 

Keys2hope: Continue to pray for those effected by Hurricane Harvey & Irma and the cross-path damages in surrounding areas, such as Georgia, South Carolina, & the Islands suffering from the tropical storm and flooding.

Pray for healing and peace! For God’s strength and love to surround everyone.

Donate & Volunteer–there are a lot of great organizations and relief funds to donate financially. Repairs are going to be an on-going project and funds are needed to ensure resources are getting to victims and the effected areas. 

I LOVE SUNDAYS!!!! CHURCH, RELAX & FOOTBALL

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Got A Celebrity Godly Example?

tim tebowEveryone makes mistakes, after all we are human…a statement that is overused and terribly abused. I do however agree with the statement, but I disagree with using it as an excuse to do what you want to do. A colleague, recently wrote an article for Christianpost.com, entitled Staying Grounded in Faith When Christian Teen Idols Fall. The article discusses celebrity teens who profess Christianity and how they are portrayed in the media. It further discusses how teens should respond when celebrity “Christian” teens fail to live up to the standards of Christianity.

be an example

Being a celebrity is hard, especially for teens who are searching for their identity, but with success and fame comes a heavy price. When a person commits to celebrity status they are placing themselves in an open relationship with their fans and the world. Therefore, especially if you are a Christian, you should be extra careful of the choices you make. No, it doesn’t mean you are going to get it right all the time, but it does mean that you will attempt to make the correct choices. When you look at certain celebrity teens who profess Christianity their image demonstrates something completely different. It’s not for anyone to say whether or not they have a relationship with Christ. However, for teen fans I do ask that you remember that the best examples of Christianity is found in the Word of God (Bible).

carrie underwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s important not to idolize a human, because we are all created with the same sinful heart. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is DECEITFUL above all things, and DESPERATELY WICKED: who can know it? Remember that saying follow your heart? How many times have our hearts (feelings) gotten us in trouble? The heart can fool us and cause us to make choices without THINKING. Mark 7:20-23, describes what’s in the heart; “…from within, out of the HEART of man, proceed (comes forth):

  • Evil Thoughts
  • Adulteries
  • Fornicationold heart
  • Murders
  • Thefts
  • Covetousness
  • Wickedness
  • Deceit
  • Lasciviousness
  • An evil eye
  • Blasphemy
  • Pride
  • Foolishness

 

 

“All these things come from within, and defile the man.” These things are inside each person. This is why it’s important to know Jesus for yourself and not base your salvation or relationship with Jesus off of another person’s relationship.

 

kiki sheard

 

Keys2Hope is reading the Bible, learn about people and their situations. Samuel was in the temple at eight-years old, David was the youngest brother and the least likely to become the king, Joseph was young when his brothers sold him into slavery,so there are lots of examples of people who decided to live for Christ at a young age. Connect with young people who you know personally who are on fire for God. Hang with people who can inspire and provide accountability. More importantly, seek to please Jesus, seek to know what He requires of your life, and seek Him for strength to carry it out.

new heart 2Secondly, Jesus is the remedy to our old heart. The Bibles says, if any man comes to Christ he is a new creature, the old has passed away. When you accept Jesus, you receive a new tiny pure heart. It’s up to you as to how much you will allow it to grow and overtake the old heart. The deeper your relationship with Jesus, the more you grow in Jesus, the smaller your deceitful heart will become. The choices are always up to us.

As a young person, shoot, as a person in general, we aren’t going to always get it right, but don’t use that as an excuse to make wrong choices, don’t try to justify yourself. If you make a wrong choice, repent…that’s why Jesus died and rose again, so that we can seek forgiveness. I haven’t made all the right choices and  in the end I was the one left hurting. Experiences that I didn’t have to go through, I went through, because I did what I wanted to do, rather than let God led me. I wanted to please myself. There were times I knew it was a dead end road, but I wanted to enjoy the moment, but moments don’t last forever. Guilt is the ending feeling…knowing you did something you shouldn’t have done, guilt, knowing that you caused another person to do something wrong, guilt of displeasing Jesus, after He’s forgiven you. Oh guilt, will suck the life out of any momentarily pleasurable experience.

Remember, it’s okay to like celebrities, or any type of leader,  but don’t get caught up in all the hype. They are humans just like you are.

be an example

Love Never Dies

Live, Love, Laugh…I am reminded to live out that motto more so now than ever before. Recently, I loss my 25-year old cousin. In his short life he taught me so much about being happy and not “sweating” the small stuff. My cousin, Jacqwon, at the age of three, became deaf from falling off the back of a moving truck. My grandmother never really got over the fact that she did not persist on taking him to Disney World that summer with the rest of the cousins–though he was much younger and my uncle (his father) was unable to come.

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Jacqwon at our grandmother’s house in North Carolina (2008)

It’s hard to describe Jacqwon’s life. He lived with my grandmother and uncle for the first few years of his life. Later, moving back with his mom. Although, he was raised in a liberal environment, he somehow managed to remain sheltered and untouched by what life had offered him. I was always grateful that his mother allowed us to be a part of his life and allowed us to instill faith and hope in God in his life. I deemed it one of my life’s missions to protect him as much as I could. I would later learn that it was much harder than I thought.  Nevertheless, we had some great and challenging times .

Jacqwon was more like a little brother to me–and we know how younger siblings can act (ha, I know because I’m one). He taught me about the deaf and hard of hearing community, American Sign Language (ASL), and how to lip read. He inspired me so much that every major school project from high school to graduate school was about the hearing-impaired community. He was passionate about life, learning, and developing himself. That passion and love resonated to everyone he encountered. We didn’t always agree, sometimes, we just stopped to talking to each other–you know, like those sibling tantrums. But one thing about Jacqwon, he always knew who really loved him and those he could always count on. I promised him that no matter where he was in life, no matter how many times we became disconnected due to outside forces–I would ALWAYS find him. I am so grateful that God allowed me to hold true to that promise. 

 

Skipping a lot of details and fast forwarding to those last moments of Jacqwon’s life. 

I remember is mom reaching out to us informing us of Jacqwon’s failing health–none of us knew what it really meant and a lot of the details were a blur. It was about eight months prior to Jacqwon’s death and I was traveling a lot for work and couldn’t conceive the notion of Jacqwon possibly dying. It just didn’t seem fitting for someone of his age and passion for life. I would visit Jacqwon each time I returned from traveling–he never seemed to be in any grave conditions. 

I remember receiving a phone call from him mom–I believe in September, she was planning to throw Jacqwon a big birthday party (even though his birthday was in June). Jacqwon LOVED his family, especially his cousins (that was the last birthday party he would ever have). Due to prearranged work travels, I was unable to attend–til this day I regret missing that party, but it was that very party that caused me to stop traveling for work and spend the next few months with Jacqwon. My eyes always get watery when I share this part of the story. 

I watched his health decline week after week. I remember Jacqwon being told to remain in bed, but he was strong-minded and determined to get up. One particular incident, was when he had to use the bathroom–he struggled to get out of bed–weak and barely able to stand–yet, he fought, because he knew that was the proper thing to do. Let me tell you, Jacqwon was a very heavy guy! He had gained lots of weight from the medication. Can you imagine his mom and I trying to help him to the bathroom, help him stand upright, while he was heavily sedated. Oh my!

I recall him struggling to greet each person and attempting to sit at the dining table to entertain his guest. I watched him, heavily sedated to the point where he could barely open his eyes nor sign, but he always attempted to–sometimes he would stop in the middle of signing and we would have put his hand down. It was by far, one of the hardest things I had to endure. Jacqwon, just loved people and loved entertaining others. He was so grateful and excited to see everyone who came to visit him. 

It was December 11, 2014, the day before Jacqwon passed away. I planned to stop by to visit him for two hours before heading to the gym and going into work. That plan never happened. I arrived at his mom’s house to find that he was having a bad day–barely able to breath and agitated. I stayed with him for several hours, not realizing that would be the last time I saw him alive.

I received a called on December 12th at 4:30 am. Jacqwon had passed…speechless, unable to move, breathe, nor hear…my entire world had turned upside down. For the last six months, I was there holding his hands at various hospitals, taking him on outings, and visiting him at his mom’s, and all at once it ended. It didn’t seem fair. Did God mean for that to happen? What about all the plans he had…we had to help him?

Keys2Hope-I just keep saying “God doesn’t  make any mistakes….He makes all things beautiful in his time.” I had a lot of questions, but I knew ultimately, God was at work. It certainly did not make the situation better. I tried to remember all the things I was thankful for…like being one of the few cousins to really know Jacqwon and live life with him. I thought of all the weekends we spent together, all times he wanted me to teach him how to write in English, or how we could laugh at wrestling on TV, and I don’t even like wrestling. This was probably one of the hardest times to not question God. I thought about his life and all the challenges and roadblocks he kept having. I knew that God saw the bigger picture and always does what’s best for us. 

At his funeral, one of speaker’s said Jacqwon wrote on his Facebook page:

“That a friend is someone you can be completely stupid with.” 

Jacqwon was that friend. I am honored to have lived life with him. I have learned that love does not die when the person passes away, rather it increases with the memories you have of them. If you love, care, and appreciate someone, spend time with them and tell them often. Give your flowers while they are still alive. While you’re at it be sure to LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH everyday!

What Designer Label are you Wearing?

I love shopping! Most girls do, and I’ve found that a lot of guys do too. Guys especially love shopping for shoes. Of course, it can’t be any kind of shoes, it has to be Jordan’s, Vans or whatever is hot on the market. One thing for certain it has to be a designer name. It has to be the authentic label.

Last year my little brother was obsessed with Polo shirts and Levi Jeans…it’s so hard shopping for boys. I never have a problem shopping for my little sister, but for my brothers…man, it’s expensive.

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My little brother thinking he’s grown and too cool! Now a Sophomore in college with a track & field scholarship (#proudbigsister) 

 

For Christmas I decided to buy my brother a couple of Polo shirts and Levi Jeans. I went everywhere trying it find some affordable, yet authentic Levi’s. I must have went to 10 different stores, but finally I found him the “real” deal. Boy, was I happy. Unfortunately, I had equal difficulty trying to find Polo shirts. Marshall’s and T.J. Max even have those “look-a-like” Polo shirts, with the oversize horse in the corner. Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wearing those, but I was searching for the authentic designer label. My little brother is explicit with what he wants for Christmas, and I appreciate that! So many times I thought I found the right shirt, but it was the one’s with the large horse. We continued searching until we find the “real thing.” After all day, we found what we were looking for. Here is what I learned:

We sadly get disappointed when something states its “real”, but isn’t.

This is how people feel when you say you’re a Christian, yet lack the actions of a Christian. People want to see an authentic Christian. It’s disappointing when you act like a Christian around certain people, but around your peers you act differently. That’s hypocritical, fake, unreal and so forth. As Christians we are called to wear “Christ’s” authentic label.

Being a Christian means to be Christ-like. We are to conduct ourselves as Christ would conduct himself. I learned this amazing quote from Young Life: “Preach the Gospel always, but when necessary use words.” We are to live preaching the Gospel non-verbally, and when needed be able to give an answer to “every man that ask you a reason of the hope that is in you…” I Peter 3:15:

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A group, Sidewalk Prophets sang “Live Like That”, one line says: “People pass, even if they don’t know my name, was I evidence that I’ve been changed”. Are you evidence that you’ve been changed? No one knows your testimony or experience with God like you!

No, this doesn’t mean you’re suppose to be perfect, but if Christ has entered your heart, it should show. People should see a difference in you. It is time for us to be unrestrained, uninhibited, and unashamed for Christ!

If we’re wearing a designer label, we’ll wear it with great pride. We’re wearing the greatest designer of all times. No one could ever duplicate it…God hand-woven you to be you…to share His great love like only “you” can.

Keys2hope Seek God daily, ask for strength, quote your favorite scripture, listen to your favorite song before going to school or work, and pray over yourself.

Lastly, remember John 15:16“You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you should ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

God has chosen you! What an honor to be chosen to wear His label. He has ordained (called) you. So you were chosen and called. Walk forward in hope and encouragement.

May the face of God shine upon you…may you have continued hope in Christ! Enjoy the video:

 

 

Captivated by Sparks of Happiness

Today was busy, great, and exciting…one big spark of happiness. I declare God is faithful to keep our hope renewed. Sometimes, things get a bit overwhelming, since I’m human, sometimes I feel like giving up, then God provides a spark of happiness, joy, and hope! One author describe it as “God winks,” when God winks at us through His blessings or things that make us smile.

God winked at me today…well He winks at us every day, sometimes we’re too caught up in our problems to see it. But today, I was attentive . Let me back up…a few months ago, Colin Gunn, film producer/director of Gunn Productions contacted me to be a part of a documentary film “Captivated” produced by Phillip Telfer with  Media Talk 101. I’m a journalist so anything with media in it sparks my interest, especially Christian media. Naturally, I accepted the wonderful opportunity.

 Today was the first day of shooting the film, which means I was the first interview. It’s always a pleasure sharing my testimony with others. After I finished my testimony, I had to do a mini photo shoot at Mt. Trashmore by the beautiful lake surrounded with dandelions. Overall, it was a great experience. I met Phillip’s daughter, a wonderful cameraman, and great Christian film makers.

 Keys2hope, despite our trials and concerns God will not leave us hopeless. At times it seems like God has forsaken and forgotten about us, but His word does not lie. He promise to never leave nor forsake us…through His God winks or sparks of happiness; I draw strength, encouragement, and hope.

 Later, I was able to see many of my Young Life Booker T. student leaders graduate from high school. What a blessing. I’m so happy to have been involved in their growth. Cheering for kids is what we do in Young Life, today I believe I cheered real hard as I heard their names being announced. I’m excited to see how God will use and direct them.

 Lastly, I had a productive meeting with my area director and we are preparing for Young Life Summer Camp at Windy Gap in Weaverville, NC. God is providing funds and resources for this endeavor.

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Young Life Windy Gap Summer Camp 2011

 

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My little sister and I during cabin time at Young Life Windy Gap Summer Camp

Is there anything too hard or too big for God? No!!! He’s all powerful, all knowing, and yes, He cares about us. “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son.”

Please check out the website: http://www.captivatedthemovie.com

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