Church Camp Adventures

After spending a week at church camp, as the photographer, with my little brood accompanying me, I am so happy to be home. I always enjoyed church camp but there were some things about it that I always dreaded, so I have to say that I love going to church camp as an adult. Thankfully, we were given the opportunity to be able to bring our kids with us and I was given a responsibility that I could handle while monitoring the kids.

A Lesson Learned – Whatever you do, do not forget your razor when you go to church camp! I remembered almost everything except my razor to shave my legs. What a bummer that was because the majority of my outfits were shorter skirts. Here’s a tip, if you ever are like me and find yourself in a faraway place razorless, then you just plan to wear your shorter things earlier in the week and progressively wear your longer outfits as you go along. That covers up your hairy-ness and saves you from a bit of embarrassment and having to explain why your legs looked like a javelina pig’s back. Yikes! I hope I never do that again.

Morning Devotions

A Heart Burdened – It doesn’t take me long around a group of teenagers to begin to pick out the fringe teens and begin to have a burden for their lives and their spiritual growth. I see myself in too many of them not to have a concern for their well-being. I was heart-broken that more of our teens did not make open decisions. I know though, that God’s Word will keep working in their hearts as they go along their journey of life into the next school year and quite possibly their life. The best thing I can do is to continue to pray for those that seemed to leave exactly the same way they came.

My Axe Sharpened – My greatest joy of church camp is being able to fellowship with other people in the ministry. I was around two special ministry mothers that both have more children than we do and just talk to them about their life and experiences. I am thankful for both and their openness to share with me little glimpses of their lives and the wisdom God has taught them both.

This year my husband and I were able to see two other ministry people that we have not seen in several years. Listening to their testimonies and heart for their particular ministries was like an energy drink sparking our weary spirits. What seem like momentary interactions or discussions really do encourage our hearts to be faithful to the Lord and be encouragers ourselves.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

Past Experience Used – God has a way of using your past experiences for a purpose. I was really praying and hoping God would give me an opportunity to be able to minister to a teenager this week, but that did not happen. Instead, God used a borrowed camera and allowed me the opportunity to be able to minister by the click of the button. In 9th grade, I took a photography class, so that I could be in the Yearbook class in the older grade levels of high school and this week I was able to take many of the tidbits of information from that class and use them this week and take photos. It was a blessing to me to be able to see how God used that to be able to help our church work. Now I just have to work on not coveting the camera I borrowed…it was a fancy Canon with interchangeable lenses. I hope someday to save enough money to buy my own.

IMG_8766

Fears Conquered for My Children – Both of my boys decided to climb the tall rock wall and to go on the zipline. For Uno, our oldest, he had to conquer some fear to carry out the feat. He is naturally more afraid of most things and sensitive, this was a huge obstacle for him to have the courage to accomplish and I could not be more proud of both of them.

My Velcro child, Cuatro (our 4th child), did cling to my legs a lot this week as we were around multitudes of strangers, 136 teenagers plus their pastors, youth pastors, and other church sponsors. But she did branch out and sparkle her personality to people as they came along. She struggled with potty training all week long, but that was to be expected. She did not quite conquer her fears of me leaving her side but she is improving. We take her stick-to-it-tiveness one day at a time.

Uno ClimbingDos Climbing Rock Wall to Zipline

God Works in His Ways – In many ways I was expecting a huge gong to be struck in my heart this week, but God just used the everyday life experiences of our church camp and the preaching to speak His faithful soft whispers of exactly what my heart needed. But isn’t that just how God works? Big things can happen, but God likes to use His still small voice and speak the clear sweet tones of comfort and even conviction. That’s how loving He is, to watch over us so carefully and to speak to us so gently.

I urge people who have a heart for teenagers whether you are a parent or not, if you have the opportunity, go to church camp! If you don’t have any huge responsibilities at church camp then I even dare you to take your family with you. The kids and I had a better time being where the action was than waiting around for a week for The Ministry Papa to come home. It may take you a little sacrifice, extra fundraising, and even more time to pack up all of your kiddos, but I truly believe it is a great opportunity for your family to experience the same blessings as those who go to camp, just in a different way.

 

How I Met My Father

How I Met My Father Graphic

On a cool morning, a few days after Father’s Day, at 7:05 am when we drove into the parking lot of IHOP and opened the silvery doors of our minivan. We tried to pull the kids out without the toys and miscellaneous vacation items falling out. I looked around the parking lot to see if they were waiting in their car. My 17-year-old brother was going to be there too. No people looking like the photos I had seen were waiting in a vehicle. So I straightened my clothes and fixed my hair to look my best as we walked across the parking lot with a child holding my hand.

This whole day seemed the opposite of how normal life is. You usually take your father to meet the young man you want to marry, not take your husband and children to meet your father. But my entire life has not been “normal.” I have come to terms that my life was God’s choice and He allowed me to live in the life He had designed for me, with my mother and without my father.

There was always a vacuum in my heart because I had never met him.

There were questions and longings to always feel loved and accepted. The desire to want to feel loved and not lonely. The thought that if I had passed my father on the street that I would not even know what he looked like and he would not know me.

I was given his name some time into junior high and high school and done searches on his name on the internet. There were probably 8 men in the U.S. with the same name with various addresses around the country. How would I know who to contact? I did not attempt to contact any of them. Fear walked with me and spoke with me, causing me to worry. I worried that if I did contact him that he would not want to know me. He knew my whereabouts when I was 2 years old but never pursued me. Maybe he had no wish to have a relationship. The questions in my mind could go on forever speculating motives and not understanding reasons why things happened the way they did.

I had begged my mother my senior year, months before my graduation to find him so that he would know that I was graduating. I wanted him to be proud that I had accomplished something good in my life. Needless to say, that did not happen. I went on to Bible college and followed God’s call in my life but watched as God, the Father to the fatherless, helped me when I needed Him the most. Alone to provide for my school bill, God helped keep it paid, then provided a job so that I could pay. He provided loving family, my aunt and adopted families were very helpful to me throughout my college years. God always bridged the gap and ministered to my heart.

As I walked into the IHOP entrance, I looked down at the small brown squared tiles as I followed my husband into the door. We walked into the waiting area and it was empty. Now to wonder whether we were there first, or what was going to happen. Then, looking around the room, he waved from a table way in the back of the restaurant. He and my brother both stood and walked to meet us as we met them. It was not nearly as hard as I had expected to walk up and give a sideways hug.

They were family… but then again, they were strangers.

Our children were ushered into a booth and we sat at tables connected. I sat across from my brother, diagonal from my father. So, that’s what he really looked like in person! A tall man with large broad shoulders. He had a Texas accent and a nervous laugh that surfaced now and then. His hair is a sandy brown color and naturally curly.

As my brother talked about himself and his mother and his sisters, I was overwhelmed. He loved them so much and complimented them so many times, that I wanted to meet them myself. They sounded like wonderful people.  I hoped we could maintain a relationship and become close.

I ate most of my breakfast but did not talk as much as my husband did. He talked and broke the ice for me, so that I did not feel so uncomfortable. How do you bridge the gap of years with someone whose title should equal a familial closeness? We could not bridge the gap of this relationship in a few hours of a day.

I also took multiple trips to the bathroom with my kids, it was embarrassing and funny all at the same time. Apparently he asked my husband if I was going to be alright when I was away. He assured him that I was fine, but it was going to take time. I think he understood.

The kids did not know that day  who my father was, but some months later we explained that day at IHOP. We made a decision not to tell the kids in case things did not work out so they did not end up being hurt. We explained the situation to them and they understood in their childlike innocence and were sad I had that type of childhood since they love their Papa so much. Finally we explained that it was good that he was in our lives now, and they wholeheartedly agreed.

The time passed and it was time for us to get on our journey to reach our vacation destination on time. Another sideways hug in the parking lot and then they walked away. I did not know in those moments if they would walk away forever or not. Would I still be accepted after they left? That question was hanging in my heart. As they drove away, they both waved good-bye and we smiled and waved and continued putting our kids in the car.

Meeting him and my brother was a start. He does keep in contact often. I know that we have been worlds apart and our lives very different. I only know of 1 or 2 people who have ever met their father or mother as an adult, who was not adopted, which makes it hard to find people to talk to about the situation. There is a comfort that even though circumstances did not bring us together until that day at IHOP, that God was with me. He preserved me for His purposes for my family and for our ministry together, so that I could do what He wanted me to do.

It’s been a year now, and I pray the bond will grow and that he will learn to understand me for who I am. I hope he will appreciate who the Lord has made me to be. If he never does, my purpose is to always please God my Heavenly Father.

If you in your life or ministry know of an adult child that is meeting their parent for the first time or are navigating through this type of relationship and need someone to talk to, please have them contact me on my Contact page. I would love to help or listen if I can.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy, How to Help the Fatherless Child on Father’s Day.

 

Spiritual Remedies for Family Bitterness

Spiritual Remedies for Family Bitterness (click here to read article)

Bitterness is a spiritual problem that can effect your relationship not only with your spouse but with the other members of your family. Over at YoungWifesGuide.com my article is about Biblical remedies from Ephesians 4 on how to cure family bitterness.

Spiritual Remedies for Family Bitterness

This article reveals six dangers of family bitterness and Biblical solutions on how to make the right decision to resolve family conflict and avoid the common problem of unforgiveness and unresolved issues. While we cannot control what other people in our families do, we can control ourselves with God’s help. God is so good to allow us to have solutions from His Word on every day topics like this one.

I appreciate the opportunity, as always, to be a monthly contributor to YoungWifesGuide! Thank you to Jami Balmet for making it a great website and place for Christian women to learn from each other.