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.
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.
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.
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.