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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Magic Moments Family Camp

Memorial Day weekend wasn't just a special weekend for us this year because we spent it together, but it was extra-special because we were invited to spend the weekend at Children's Harbor on Lake Martin in Alabama.  Because Victoria was granted a wish by the charitable organization Magic Moments this past February, every Memorial Day weekend until she is 18-years-old, she (and our family) will be invited to the Magic Moments Family Camp at Children's Harbor.  Magic Moments already holds a special place in our hearts because of the wonderful, all-expense paid family vacation we were given in February of this year.  But, we are beginning to see that this group of folks will be a blessing to our family for many years to come!

Upon arriving at Children's Harbor, we could tell that this campground was among the best we had ever stayed.  It was a beautiful place.  Right on Lake Martin, there were lush little patches of beautiful flowers and trees everywhere.  Everything was so clean and lovely.  We made our way to the registration area where we were greeted by camp counselors who knew us by name.  I was impressed already.  All of the staff and counselors associated with Magic Moments were so wonderful to us and wanted us to feel right at home.

We found our way to our cabin.  We had a wonderfully, large room with a fold-out couch, two twin beds, a bunk bed, and our own bathroom.  We were thrilled at the space we had.  It was going to be a fun adventure to have our entire family sleep all in the same room for the next few days!

First on the list of things to do was swimming, of course!  The girls loved the large pool!  Victoria is a bit frustrating to deal with in a pool because she "thinks" she can swim (which, she can't!).  She had floaties on her arms, but if we let go of her, she sinks just enough to get a mouthful of water.  She fussed the entire time that we tried to help her stay afloat.  But, even though she fussed and was frustrated, she had a fun time.  By the end of our stay at the camp, Victoria worked her way up to going down the big slide at the pool.  I'm telling you, the girl has no fear!  Mark stood at the bottom of the slide to catch her.  She must've gone down that slide 50 times, at least in the 3 days we were there!  She loved it!

The second day of Family Camp, the morning started off with a worship service.  The service was held outside.  It was such a beautiful day and I was in tears for most of the service.  I was able to sit behind the singers and speaker and could view all of the families sitting with their "special" children.  It was overwhelming to think that each of the families sitting in front of me had experienced similar or even more difficult circumstances than our family had experienced.  And, through it all ... I knew that God had been faithful to us all.

After the worship service, we made our way over to the corral.  Victoria worked up enough nerve to ride a horse!  She has always refused to ride a horse when given the opportunity in the past, but at this camp ... she was ready to go!  Elyssa and Natalie enjoyed riding the horses, as well.  It was especially moving to see all of the handicapped kids being hoisted up onto the horses so they could enjoy a ride.  Everything was very inclusive.  The workers made sure every kid had the opportunity to take part in every activity, which I thought was amazing!

A really special part of Family Camp was the talent show that was held the evening of the 2nd day.  At the talent show, Elyssa, Natalie, and Victoria came up on the stage with me and we sang, "She Is God's Child," together.  I didn't show the video to the song because there were no video screens available, but the song was still moving none-the-less.  Natalie even became emotional at the end of the song, which was very sweet.  She is so tender-hearted and still gets sad at the thought of Victoria having to have heart surgery when she was 7-weeks-old.  I loved singing with my girls!  I was touched, as well, by all of the special needs kids sharing their talents in the show.  It was very sweet.

I could share many more things about the camp, but the thing that touched me most of all at Family Camp was the Awards Ceremony.  On the last day of the camp, the organizer of the camp made her way to the stage.  She called each child, individually, to the stage.  Once each child made their way to the stage, in turn, the speaker talked about each child as they stood in front of the audience.  She talked about their strengths and the fun things they enjoyed doing at camp this year.  She awarded each child with a specially named certificate (award) before they left the stage.  Again, I was in tears for most of this ceremony.  It was so moving to see kids wheel themselves on the stage ... or walk onto the stage with braces on their legs ... or even walk onto the stage with no hair because of chemo treatments.  And, then ... once on stage ... they were told in front of the entire crowd how special they were.  It was one of the most moving things I've ever seen.  I almost can't describe how full my heart felt when Victoria was called up to the stage to receive her award.  There is no feeling in the world like knowing that your child is loved and appreciated even though they are "different" than typical kids.  Every family with a "special" child desires for their child to be accepted and truly loved.  You never quite get use to the stares in public places and you never get use to people telling you what they think your child "won't" be able to do.  But, wow ... to be in a place where your child is loved on and encouraged to aim for the stars ... it is a wonderful thing.

So, I end this blog by first of all saying ... THANK YOU, MAGIC MOMENTS!  I know there are so many folks who give to this organization, volunteer, and work for this organization.  I want all of you to know that THIS family doesn't take for granted what you do!  We felt so blessed to have been given a Wish Trip this year and on top of that, we were able to enjoy a wonderful weekend at Magic Moments Family Camp.  Thank you for giving of yourselves to bless families like mine.  We are forever grateful!

Secondly, I want to thank the Lord for blessing me with a wonderful husband with whom I was able to have three sweet girls!!  Little did Mark and I know that all three of our girls would hold such special places in our hearts.  And, YES ... we were overwhelmed when we first had Victoria, but we have learned to live day by day.  Appreciating every bit of progress that Victoria makes.  And, we love seeing Elyssa and Natalie love on their sister.  Life has become "normal" for us.  I never thought we would get to this place, but God knew that we could handle a life that seems out of the ordinary to most people.  For us ... we just feel blessed!

PS - Check out the video of me and the girls singing "She Is God's Child" LIVE on YouTube.  Just type in the name Heather Messick and you'll find it.  You can also view a video of Victoria receiving her special award on the last day of Family Camp.


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