Our church just wrapped up our third annual Youth Explosion last night, and, boy, was it amazing! Watching the teens listen closely to the speaker's words, hearing the singing, seeing the excitement when someone's name was announced for a prize---the extra effort put in was entirely worth it!
Our teens handed out flyers last Friday and again this Monday - Wednesday at various public middle and high schools in our area, inviting any teens who wanted to come to be a part of this year's Youth Explosion. This meant that we teachers had to scramble to get some classes taught in the morning; our day was then basically over, giving us a chance to catch up on paperwork. But the teens weren't done yet! They ate lunch, held a prayer meeting, loaded the buses to hand out flyers, came back by the end of the school day, ate a quick dinner, loaded the buses again to pick up the other teenagers who wanted to come, attended the (crazy, loud, exciting) service, grabbed a sack lunch, reloaded the buses to take the kids home, and finally got to go home themselves. I helped in the nursery Monday and Tuesday nights, but my husband and I got to attend last night's service and see God moving in the hearts of those teenagers, public and Christian school alike. Over 200 teenagers accepted Christ in those three days! There were teens who had attended last year and been saved; they brought friends this year who also got saved. What an amazing feeling to be able to be a part of someone's receiving Jesus as their Saviour and knowing their eternity is settled forever! Those teens will not soon forget this week, if ever.
Today, though, is a different story. We are all exhausted! I've had kids in almost every class trying to sleep. This has simply been a busy week, and we are all ready for our day off tomorrow. The lady staff members get to go away for a special retreat, leaving behind our students, husbands, children, grade books, classrooms, and messy houses! Praise the Lord for some time to just relaaaaax.
I have spent the last month in and out of the school office, trying to get Dale's schedule for next year nailed down. There have been some slight changes to the Washington state requirements for seniors graduating in 2017, but, praise the Lord, nothing that will prevent Dale from marching with his class. (As a Christian school, we always strive to match and then exceed state requirements for graduating seniors and also include Bible classes as required credits for high school.) Dale has been working SO VERY HARD this year to catch up on some credits he missed in his first years in high school, mainly due to his mental limitations at that time. As I stated in my last post, his mental abilities have improved while his physical abilities have declined. So, our school leaders decided to waive Dale's P.E. requirements and count his Bible credits as needed electives so that he is able to finish his high school education next year and walk with his class. This summer, Dale will need to (possibly) do a Social Studies PACE or two to complete that subject and continue to work on his English PACEs since he's only partway through his 11th grade English work. But....it looks like his schedule next year will, finally, be a little lighter. He'll take Bible, English, Government/Economics, Choir, Health, and Math. I am so thankful for all the help I've received in creating Dale's IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and in making sure he stays on track and completes his assignments. We keep telling Dale (and ourselves!) that "next year your backpack won't be as heavy" because of a supposed easier classload---but so far that hasn't actually happened. I am determined to make his backpack lighter, which will ease the strain on those of us whose backs and shoulders ache from lugging it around!!!
We are so blessed to be in this church and school, among friends, church family, and coworkers who care about our family and show their support any way they can---through prayer, through physical assistance, through arranging special circumstances or gifts, and sometimes through explaining to their children Dale's limitations so that those young ones can grow up with an appreciation for a handicapped individual. I feel like our whole church and school has grown through Dale's accident and can now understand those who are physically disabled or mentally challenged because we see a living example every day. I know my husband and I reared our children with a gentle concern for disabled people before Dale's accident, but now we understand what they go through a whole lot better.
I'm also so thankful for the many people across the nation and the world who have followed Dale's progress since that fateful day in August when our lives changed. You have prayed and wept and cared and given, and we can never thank you enough. I feel like some might think we mention this all the time, but I believe we cannot say it enough: You have filled our hearts with your love, and we could not have gotten through these hardships without the knowledge that we were not in this alone. Yes, we have our God and always will, but we also have each other to help us through.
Philippians 1: 3 and 7a "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you...Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart."