I know I say this every year, but it was a huge success yet again! It is clear how the Lord is working behind the scenes in ways we couldn't even begin to know. Here's a small window into the night:
The calm before the storm...
The army of volunteers committing the evening to the Lord before the party begins!
A quick frame check for the take home photo spot. This is my friend, Darlene, and I. She and I do the disability ministry together at our church. She tends to focus on Luke 14 while I focus more on the day to day ministry at church. The Lord sticks us together to make a complete pair; I'm the left brain, she's the right!
The hayride is always a favorite!
And you can't have a County Fair without animals!
In my experience, most people with disabilities love to dance! The nice part is that they're uninhibited by the pride that overtakes people like me and keeps me from dancing. In all honestly, their general lack of inhibition is a true gift. What I could learn from that!
This guy in the black shirt needs to just be an honorary member of this group of children and young adults with Down Syndrome, The Sonshine Ambassadors. While they are sharing their little bit of sonshine with us, he goes up and joins them in the middle of their performance... and they just keep right on going as if he belongs.
They sing this song every year called, "I am a Child of God." I've seen it 3 or 4 times and I cry every time. It's amazing.
Mattie's trying out the fishing before she gets carted off to childcare. My kids sacrifice a lot of their mama's attention and a lot of their own time while I'm in meetings in the months leading up to Luke 14. I include them as much as I can and try and let them join in the fun for at least a few minutes each year! It won't be too long before they'll be able to work a booth or be a buddy. They both have tender hearts toward those with disabilities, and Luke 14 and our other involvement with disability ministry are the reasons for that.
The Chick Fil A cow came this year! This picture is pretty remarkable, actually. We had a guy dress up as Peter during VBS and Morgan (in the middle) totally flipped out. I think I should be offended that she'll pose with the cow and can't be in the same room as "Peter." I guess she likes his costume better. :)
I told you about Robert last year. He walks in and asks for a "pretty buddy" to host him for the night. :) At this moment he was grabbing girls to take a picture with him. My sister in law happened to step too close and got caught!
We take a photo of each guest with their buddy and get it printed for them to take home each night. The fun part about this one is that the buddy (the guy on the right) is a Carson-Newman football player. If I understand it right, the first time he came, he came under suggestion from his coach. He wasn't quite sure what to do, but ended up having a good time. Three years later, he's one of our most confident and fun buddies!
I don't have a photo of the sweetest story of the night, but I have to tell you.
We collect things for a Country Store and let each guest go in and choose several things to take home. We collect books, toys, accessories, tshirts, trinkets, etc.
In the meantime, an older man had just moved in to a new group home. He wasn't wanting to get up and get out of bed to come to Luke 14 with his cohorts, and the staff couldn't figure out why. They finally got out of him that his shoes were hurting his feet. He said he needed new shoes and couldn't go to Luke 14 in shoes that hurt his feet. They told him they'd work on new shoes for him the next day, but they encouraged him to get up and finally got him in the van, albeit begrudgingly from what I heard.
He took his trip to the Country Store and ended up finding a pair of shoes. Some local business man had donated some shoes that we honestly weren't sure what to do with! We decided to stick them in the store and see what happened. Now we know exactly why we had these. They were the exact size for his hurting feet. God knew just the size of those two needy feet that would shop in our Country Store, and He made sure we had just what we needed.