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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Flowering Trees, Counselor Cars, And Maintenance Man Messes- {PHFR}


Is there anything better than flowering trees? I think not.
This is my favorite time of year, simply for this very reason. 


The counselors are here! They started staff training last week, and at this point, they've completely overrun Camp with their excitement and joy. I love sneaking into their Bible study sessions and praying over them. These young adults will make a tremendous difference this summer- join me in praying for them, and for all the young adults working in outdoor ministry this summer!


You can usually tell when the counselors have gotten here- because of the high-energy laughter and "Oh-I've-Missed-You-ALL-YEAR!" greetings... and also because the parking lot is filled with ding-ed up, rusting vehicles. 

These aren't nearly the worst of them. 


Zeke, in getting ready for summer (which is quickly, far too quickly, approaching! We've got counselors here already!), has been doing a lot of final landscaping and leaf clearing. 

Because in the middle of an oak forest with lots of large, large trees, leaf clearing never ends. Truly. 

He came home the other day and took a shower... and the above was what I found. Those little black-ish dots? Tiny mulched up leaves. And the sheer volume in such a small bathroom was amazing. 

The pictures don't do it justice. There were leaves everywhere.

Time for some shameless plugs! 

Posts this Week: 
"Have you seen that show, “Four Weddings?” Don’t. Just don’t watch it. Take my word for it. I’ll give you a little synopsis so you don’t get curious and go watch it to see what it’s all about. Four lovely ladies attend one another’s weddings, rating each one. The wedding that receives the best score ‘wins,’ and that happy couple gets an All!Expense!Paid! trip to somewhere exotic. It’s pretty much a show about women bashing one another’s weddings because (gasp) she had a buffet or (gasp) her dress wasn’t the perfect color for her skin tone or (gasp) the invitations didn’t include seven live doves and a waterfall.

You don’t need that.

If you’re anything like me, you watch something like that and think That’s so silly. I’ll never be anything like that. And you won’t, because you’re too pure of heart and kind to say (or even think!) any of the snarky things those brides are saying. 

But it gets in your head. And you start to wonder- if our wedding doesn’t have a live band, will people hate it? Can people really enjoy a wedding where there isn’t any alcohol? Do I need to send live doves and do doves need to eat during the shipping process?? 

I’m here to tell you. No, yes, and don’t send doves."
"Our faith changes us- not because we're trying to earn salvation, but because we're grateful for salvation, putting on a new self. We're now to live a distinctly different lifestyle than we see in the culture around us- but how difficult that is!

If we're to live differently, that means that we're to deal with issues differently."

From the Archives: 
I've definitely got Camp on the brain... so...

A Prayer Request: Next week is the official start of Summer Camp season. And oh, boy, there's a lot to do. Please pray for my little family as both Zeke and I have a lot on our plates this week... specifically pray for safety and rest for Zeke, and peace and focus for me! Thank you, friends! 

This post is linked to Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real over at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Christian Conflicts: Truth and Anger

In Ephesians, Paul gives us some guidelines about dealing with conflict in a God honoring way. We've already talked a bit about conflicts and that conflicts so often reveal our own hearts.

Our faith changes us- not because we're trying to earn salvation, but because we're grateful for salvation, putting on a new self. We're now to live a distinctly different lifestyle than we see in the culture around us- but how difficult that is!

If we're to live differently, that means that we're to deal with issues differently.

"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." -Ephesians 4:25-30
Whew! That's a lot of practical advice from Paul. Let's talk about it.

First, we're told to speak the truth.

I'll be honest (ha! This is the right section for it, right?)- this is a problem in the Midwest. We're nice. Very nice. Because we don't tell the truth. If there's an issue, a conflict that comes up between people, we tend to ignore it rather than being authentic with one another. Avoidance is a form of lying! Avoiding an issue means that the same trouble will keep coming up, and will cause bitterness in the relationship.

After all, as Paul says, we're all members of one body. We're all "in it together"- working towards becoming like Christ and sharing his good news with everyone. Lying doesn't help anything. So when we have a conflict with someone, we need to be honest and actually tell them. Working through things may seem like quite a lot of effort, but it's worth it to not carry bitterness towards a brother or sister in Christ.

Now, it's also worth noting that telling the truth doesn't mean telling everything. We need to use our discernment. Not everyone needs to know everything. I may tell my husband the details of a conflict with a co-worker, but bringing up all the details during a staff meeting? Not necessary. There's a difference between being honest and dragging someone (or even yourself) through the dirt.

Paul also says that when we're angry, we're to stay away from sin. It isn't a sin to be angry. Anger is an emotion, often times very justified, especially if someone has harmed us. Jesus himself got angry several times in the Gospels. Anger, used correctly, can be productive.

That being said, a sin against me does not (does not!) justify a sin done by me. It's important not to let our anger get the best of us. There's a tricky balance that takes place here- between letting anger out and holding in our anger. Think about it. Pray. What's the best decision at this particular moment? I don't want to hold on to anger and cultivate bitterness in my heart, but I also don't want to say things I don't mean or explode.

My family is very different than Zeke's family. Zeke's family is reserved, quiet, generally calm and collected. They're not dramatic people. My family? Well... it's amazing we haven't been kicked out of more restaurants. We're a bit... fiery. Speaking our minds is something we do well, and (unfortunately), so is letting our tempers get the best of us.

But no matter your family history or quick tempered-nature, its been important for me to remember that when I was saved by Christ, I've been grafted onto the vine of Christ. I no longer have to grow with my family's histories or particular sins- I'm now a part of the family of Christ, first and foremost. 

This passage has so, so many implications for our lives. Let's just chew on this part for a while, and come back to it later, all right?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Muddy Puddles and Understanding Conflict

We've been saved by Jesus Christ- saved from a life warped by sin, and we're putting on the new self of truth and light. Being saved, finding our identity in Christ- it changes everything about us.

Including how we deal with conflict. Conflict is rather inevitable, after all. We are humans, and humans deal with conflict, even the most pious of Christians.

Before we can decide how to deal with our differences in God honoring ways, we need to explore what conflict is and where it comes from.

The first, and most obvious source of conflict I see in my own life is conflict that arises when I am wronged. It happens, you know? Whether it is accidental or intentional, people are people, and they're going to sin against us.

Of course, conflict also comes up when I think I'm being wronged. I know that one of my particular struggles is assuming the best about people. My husband says something that hurts my feelings? Well! He's obviously insensitive and rude towards me- it couldn't possibly be because he didn't know my feelings would be hurt, or because he's had a difficult day. My friend doesn't call me back? She's not very considerate! Unless she's stuck in traffic or had to work late. So many of those perceived wrongs simply come about because of miscommunication or differing expectations.

And then there's conflict that is really just due to my own sin. An issue inside my own heart.

"What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war withing you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you argue."- James 4:1-2
Yep. That. Maybe (hopefully!) we don't get so far as to murder anyone, but when I envy someone else, when there is jealousy in my heart, conflicts come up. The other person isn't the issue, in these cases. My heart is the issue.

We know that conflicts are different based on who is involved. A conflict with a co-worker looks very different than a conflict with my best friend. The people who are closest to us are often those with whom we have the very worst conflicts.

After all, when we are have a problem with someone, we're really showing our own hearts. A conflict with a co-worker may not become as heated because, well, we don't really want to be so vulnerable with them.

Conflicts reveal quite a bit about me. They reveal our own sin, our own selfishness and self-centered-ness. Conflict doesn't cause these things, it just reveals them. If you jump into a muddy puddle, you'll get muddy. What splashes out is exactly what was there all along.

So think. What's splashing out in your life? When a conflict comes up, how do you deal with it? Do you get muddy?

As Christians, we need to honor God in all things, including (and maybe especially!) our conflicts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fishing in the Dark (What We Did this Weekend)

Our little tiny camper- which we pulled behind the Vibe- hence the hitch in my entryway!

We got to our campsite around 9:30 pm or so (and it was dark, so all these pictures are from Saturday morning, of course).

The "getting to the site at 9:30" thing was not my idea, to be clear.

Maybe you have a husband like mine and can sympathize- a "just one more thing" husband. You know, the ones who find something else they should probably get done just when you were thinking you'd be leaving. And he hasn't even packed! Well, I have one of those husbands, and I also have a "got to talking" husband.

I had planned on getting to the campsite at 6:30 or so. Zeke had different ideas. Not only did he need to move cement after work, but he had to service the Bobcat, and drop off his computer at our friends' house (this friend happens to fix computers- a good network of handy friends is a blessing, but that's another post).

And at the friend's house, Zeke got to talking (for exactly seventeen minutes)... and we were already much later than I had planned, so I was a bit grouchy.

I guess I need to take my own advice and work on growing some fruit (patience in particular)!

We got a marvelous campsite- down right by the beach.

It was very cold when we set up- I wore a long sleeved shirt, a zip-up sweater, another zip-up sweatshirt, and my flannel coat, sitting next to the fire. And shivered the entire time. But my first experience with nighttime fishing made up for it. Did you know you can fish in the dark? I had no idea.

(Sorry about the guts in the picture. Gross.)

We caught this guy and two more of his little bullhead friends ...

... and we ate 'em for breakfast! They were delicious. And Zeke, who didn't bring the right fish-cleaning tools didn't even swear once while using his Leatherman to yank the yuck out of them while running them under freezing cold water in the freezing cold wind. He did grumble a little, though.

But it was worth it.

Because they were yummy.

Zeke had volunteers coming in on Saturday afternoon, so we had to head back around lunch time, but we had a nice time on our first (albeit short) camping trip of the season.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Budding Fruit and Doing Some Narrowing Down

Engagements can be such a time of growth for a couple. You’re in love, you’ve made an enormous commitment- now it’s just the waiting time. The planning time.

I know many couples who had short engagements- anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of days. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve known a couple who were engaged for five years. Zeke and I fell somewhere in the middle of this range, and were engaged for two years. Our engagement was a transforming time for our relationship. 

Of course, all relationship transformation starts with transforming yourself.

Which isn’t necessarily what I wanted to do. I started my engagement by buying three bridal magazines that promised to help me Plan the Perfect Wedding and make my Arms Look Great in That Strapless Dress. Which both sounded like fun and also like the things on which I needed to spend all the time!  

After the initial wave of overwhelming excitement, I realized that maybe I should focus on making my relationship stronger, since I had two entire years to do triceps dips and think about cake flavors. So of course, I read articles about the 100 Ways to Have a Great Engagement… realized that many of these so-called Ways included intimacies that went against my beliefs, or were really just more information about narrowing down guest lists.

I never really had the thought that the way I should start to prepare for my marriage was by figuring out what needed to be narrowed down in me.

Of course, God’s pretty good at humbling the prideful, and soon I started looking into the qualities that are visible for those living in the Holy Spirit- especially the ones in which I’m sorely lacking.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.- Galatians 5:22-23

Marriage isn’t about butterflies and constant joy. It’s going to be hard sometimes, and you’ll need the grace of God to heal broken places, to show you how to forgive, to help you keep your hope and joy in the hard times. If you’re going to spend your engagement creating a strong foundation for a forever marriage, you need to be living out the qualities of a Spirit-filled life.  And Scripture spells that out pretty clearly in this verse. 

Spend your engagement connecting first with God. To have a grace-filled marriage, you must first be living out a life of grace. 

Notice that this verse describes the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of Adrie … or Susan or Julie or Rachel. This verse isn’t about what we can create in ourselves. If I’m living in the Spirit as a believer of Christ, I have all those things already- the patience and love and gentleness and self-control- those are the evidence of the Spirit at work within me, and within you. The good news is that we’ve already got these qualities!

Does that mean that I’m always gentle? Or always patient? Of course not. We’ve been made new in Christ, but we’re still human. Just because I have self-control through the Spirit doesn’t mean that it’s at all developed.

Go back and look at the Fruit again. Does one of those words stick out to you? For me, self-control is an area in which I struggle- that and patience! Which of those qualities is least developed in your own life? Be honest with yourself.

The newlywed stage of marriage can be challenging and humbling. I know that I became ever so conscious of flaws that went unnoticed- things I could ignore or push down deep into the Someday I’ll Deal with It bin- before joining myself to someone else for better or worse. Getting married brings all those flaws to the surface, trust me.

 If you take the time to start working on those issues, on fostering positive qualities now rather than realizing you’ve got so many weaknesses later, you definitely won’t regret it. 

Now of course, finding the flaws in ourselves and taking those to task is hard work. It’s much easier to look at that handsome future husband of ours and find the fruit of the spirit where he should spend his time.  

So I’ll suggest something to keep you on track. 

I tend to be pretty forgetful. (Thank goodness memory isn’t a fruit of the spirit… that would be another to add to the list of fruits that are still in the budding stage in my life.) I have to write things down. Journaling has been a long-standing habit for me. 

I would suggest that you find a little time in each day to reflect. For me, I’d write things down in a journal or notebook somewhere- but maybe that’s not for you, and that’s fine, too. The point is to think about the growing you need to do, the sins you need to root out, the habits you need to take up, and make note of progress. Give yourself an honest evaluation. 

Was your attitude about that set-back an attitude of joy? Did you handle that conflict with the necessary gentleness? Did eating all the cookies help you grow in self-control? By making a conscious effort to ask yourself these things, you’ll make a habit of keeping your mind in a perspective of holiness- of finding the Spirit in your daily routine, in living a lifestyle in light of the grace of God.

The first step toward an intentional engagement is an intentional lifestyle- the change starts with you.

I would also like to recommend this book to you- The Bride's Handbook: A Spiritual & Practical Guide for Planning Your Wedding. I found it in the church library during a particularly stressful bout of wedding planning, and it's wonderful. Truly. Not only does it have lovely tips for wedding planning, but the devotional aspect is great. The writing is so peaceful... it got me through some stressful times, and began the change in my attitude toward my own engagement.

"Like" A Little Wife's Happy Life on Facebook to catch more Intentional Engagement posts!

Other Posts in the Intentional Engagement Series:
Smooth as a River Rock: Having an Intentional Engagement

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sprouts, What's in My Entryway, and Lost Socks


I came home this evening and found the above in my entryway. Wanna know what it is?

It took me a minute.

Zeke bought a hitch and towing system for our car! So we can cart our little camper around without the use of the pickup (which Zeke is planning to sell). 

The original thought was that we'd go camping nearby someplace this weekend. {Happy!} Of course, that was before the temperature dropped to 33 degrees F last night- and it doesn't look like it'll warm up anytime soon. We'll see.


And, due to the cold weather, we brought our container garden inside. My patience (ha, patience) is paying off... we've got sprouts! {Blurry, but pretty!}


Our unmatched sock collection is growing. How does that even happen? Where are all the orphaned socks? {Funny}


After another cycle that ended in another assurance that I'm still not ovulating, I went ahead last week and scheduled a doctor's appointment to see if we can't figure out what's going on with me. Of course, the doctor's office simply doesn't have any new patient openings until the middle of June.
(Yes, we've lived here for a year and haven't yet gotten a doctor. Despite my complaints any and every time either Zeke or I get a head cold, we're actually pretty healthy.)

In the meantime, I've done some research, and the more information I get, the more I think I may have PCOS. I still need to get testing and everything to confirm that suspicion, but I've also found some information about how dietary changes can make a difference. So, I've been trying to eat better- limiting sugar and eating fewer carbs (but oh, how I love carbs and sugar!)

Of course, it {really} doesn't help that I came home to find a bag full of Camp cookies on the trunk...


All right, lovelies, I need some advice.
Despite the cold snap, I do believe that it will someday be summer and will someday be uncomfortably warm. And when it's uncomfortably warm (or even just warm), I like to wear skirts. I don't know, I feel more professional in skirts than in shorts. 

Anyway! I need to get myself some new ballet flats. I've been wearing these babies for the past... four? five? years...

(Won't you please excuse the very {real} dirt on the entryway floor? I knew you would. After all, I have a maintenance man for a husband. That's an excuse, right?) 

... and I think it's time for some new ones. These are getting pretty well stretched out and scuffed up. 

Any suggestions? I'd like to go with something non-rubbery-Croc-material, but still very comfortable. Arch support preferred. 


Zeke just came home and announced that we will be camping this weekend. Good thing our little camper has a heater. 

Most random quick-takes ever? Perhaps. 

I've been slowly going through The Power of a Praying Wife for the past month or so (thank you, understanding church library lady!) and I've really enjoyed it. I used to pray for Zeke pretty regularly, but I always seemed to be asking for the same things, praying about the same things. This book has really helped me to expand my prayers- not only does the author have an awesome first name, but she's very thorough. I've really enjoyed it thus far. 


(And now, for some shameless plugs) 

Posts this week and from the archives:

Smooth as a River Rock: Having an Intentional Engagement : The first post in my new Intentional Engagement series. There are so many tips and tricks for wedding planning, but how many engaged couples plan for their marriage with that same intensity and focus? And why not? It is a lifetime, after all! 

Camp Fosters Faith : I may be a little bias (I mean, I do live and work at a Bible Camp...) but I've seen summer camp make a huge difference in the faith life of children.

Why My Long Distance Relationship Was Super Awesome : Four years and 500 miles, and we're so much better for it.

Maintenance Man Monday: In the Rough : In which my husband is tough on his clothes. He still is. Consider this post Exhibit A.

Exhibit B?

Compression shorts with the elastic waistband pulled away from the fabric. In several places. But they're $10 a piece, and if I didn't mend all the ripped ones, we'd be buying five pairs a month!

Have a lovely weekend!

Linked up with Jen at Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes, and the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter for Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Replace Your Old Self

As followers of Jesus, we're not to live like the rest of the world. Every aspect of our lives is to be markedly different, because we are no longer captive to our sin.

All of which sounds very nice, but how do we practically live out that truth in daily life?

Unrelated dish cloth picture. They just looked so pretty all folded with the sunshine on them.

After Paul describes the way of life he sees in the Gentiles (which sounds pretty close to the way of life we can see in the culture around us today), he reminds us that we're different.

"You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. "- Ephesians 4:20-24

Instead of being enslaved by sin, with its corrupting ways that infiltrate every part of us, we're to be taught in truth.

We've been amazingly forgiven! 

Now we have a relationship with Christ- we get to know him! Doesn't that make you feel so humbled and yet so overjoyed?

Now that we've been forgiven, now that we've been freed and saved, our lifestyle will change. We aren't changing our behavior in order that we might be saved, but because we have been saved already.

So we remove our old selves. I think it's interesting that Paul says that my old self was "corrupted by deceitful desires." Those old desires of mine- they were deceptive. Lying to me. That's what sin does, you know. It lies. Sin promises fulfillment and never delivers. Now that I've been saved, now that my identity is found in Christ, there's no place for those lies.

We love dear friends who bring us wild asparagus

Instead, I'm to be made new in the attitude of my mind. Our perspectives change. Our desires change. And we put on our new self.

There seems to be a feeling that our "new self" is another way of saying "boring self" or "completely not-like-me-anymore self."

I think that's the wrong way to look at it. After all, each of us has been created with our own passions and personalities, interests and dreams. I don't think that those are taken from us through salvation. Rather, I think they're enhanced. We're more purely ourselves without sin dampening our spirits. Following Christ doesn't make us boring- after all, didn't he say that he came so we might have life to the fullest?

Now, when you remove your old self, you need to be sure to replace it.

It seems simple, but just think about the last time you tried to break a bad habit. For me, a bad habit of mine is biting my nails. I haven't yet been able to do it- I get close, but then I slip up. I can't change it because I rarely take the time to replace my nail biting with something else.

Changing a lifestyle from an "old," sinful means you have to replace it with a new, vibrant, truth-filled one. Take a hard look at habits and patterns of the past, and replace them. Change your attitudes, your schedules, the way you talk to yourself, the way you deal with conflicts, how you approach relationships.

Now that you know Christ, live a lifestyle so that you may grow in him. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sniffles, Avoiding Frostbite, Arrows and Patience


Greetings from the Land of Snot-ville. Somehow, all the sunshine and lovely weather makes my body go into "massive congestion" mode in less than a fortnight. I'm home from work today. 

Well, I did stop into work to check messages and e-mails, because it's crunch time, after all. Summer staff arrive in a week. A week! I don't have time for congestion. 

But I started getting dizzy, so I came home.


Construction has begun! 

See those loose bricks? I totally carried all of them up the stairs. Two at a time. Because they're heavy. I counted it as my workout for the day.
Last weekend, Zeke brought the wood-burning stove upstairs to begin the installation process. Because our home is older, the fireplace isn't up to code, and putting in a new stove ended up being the most cost-effective solution. 

I'm excited for Fall, already. 


We planted our very first container garden on Saturday! We had planned on starting a container garden last summer, but... well, Camp. So this year, I was absolutely determined. 
I even carted the heavy pots up the stairs by myself. That's how determined I was. 

And then, I sat outside at waited for them to sprout. Growing a garden is a test of patience.


Zeke went to a garage sale the other day. 

He came home with our new hobby. We haven't actually shot them so much as we've (and by "we," I mean Zeke) picked them up and flexed them and touched them and smoothed them and gazed at them lovingly.

And now I have arrows all over the house. 


I think this is the week to (finally) break out the summer clothes. Since it was snowing in April, I've been concerned about making the switch too soon and ending up with frostbite. 

Mother's Day is somehow this weekend already. How did that happen? Zeke's on call, so we won't be doing any traveling... which may be a good thing because I haven't purchased any cards or gifts yet. Whoops. 


True story? I actually stopped in to work today because I knew there was going to be ice cream cake to celebrate some staff birthdays. 
But I did check my e-mail, too. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Problem with the World

I’m continually amazed with the Bible. The living, breathing Word of God. All of these letters and stories and prophesies, written thousands of years ago, addressing communities in the Middle East. How could this collection of writings possibly have something to do with us?

Oh, but it does. And amazingly so.

In fact, Ephesians discusses the problem with the world. All the troubles and evil in the world today- from murder to infidelity to dishonesty to pollution to divorce- it all comes down to one thing.


The problem is always sin.
I tell you, it looks like Fall around here, yet. Everything all browns and tans and yellows. Come on sunshine! We want to see some green!

 “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” – Ephesians 4:17-19

{Simply replace the word “Gentiles” with “the rest of the world” or “unbelievers,” and suddenly, Paul is sitting our living rooms, arm draped over our couches, drinking some pop. I feel like Paul would be the type of person to drink a pop if you offered him one.}

Sin corrupts our lives, our thinking, our motives. It colors our relationships.

The first trouble with sin is that we don’t typically see it.  I know I don’t. Paul says that we’re “darkened in our understanding”- we can’t see what’s right in front of us. The gossip that infiltrates every conversation with my mom? Sin! Right there! But it’s a pattern of behavior. It’s a habit! We can’t typically see our own sin, or we choose not to see it. Of course, when it comes to the sins of our husband, or our co-worker… oh, those ones are so much more obvious. But that’s another conversation all together.

I know many people who have hard hearts, who have lost sensitivity. I’m sure you do, too. And I’m sure that there are many places in my own life where I’ve become callous. Where I’ve decided that change is far too difficult and I’d rather not deal with that particular issue.

Of course, being desensitized also means that I don’t see the pain that my habits and sins cause others. I’m numbed to it.  I harm friendships and destroy relationships. And worse, sinning injures my relationship with God and pulls me far from Him.

I can’t count how many times I look at the decision made by someone I love and think, “Doesn’t she see? Doesn’t she understand what is going to happen?” But she can’t see it or feel it or understand it, because she’s blind and numb!

Finally, Paul says that sin causes us to lose control. That when we don’t see our own sin, when we don’t understand the effects it has on ourselves or on others, we can’t control ourselves. We fly to pieces. Bad goes to worse, and eventually we’re somehow in a pit sitting in the mud and we have no idea how we got there!

But! -And Paul is great about painting a bleak picture only to clear the clouds away with a burst of glorious light- But!

There’s hope. There’s hope for the sin in the world. And there’s hope for the sin in us. And that hope is a relationship with Jesus.

As Christians, we’re not to live like the rest of the world. We’re not to live blind and numb and out of control. We’re supposed to walk in this world in a distinctly different way from the one to which our culture subscribes.

So how do we do that, exactly? Well, we’ll get into what Paul says about that.

But first, let’s make sure that we pray for the “Gentiles” in our lives- for the people who are walking unfeelingly and blindly through life. I know I have those people. My sister is one of them. I love her. It hurts me to see her make bad decision after bad decision. So pray. Pray that God would soften their hearts, that He would enlighten them to see the sin in their own lives, that they would find a relationship with Him. 


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Camp Fosters Faith

A phone call came in to my office the other day. A parent was looking for a specific program for her child- a program that our ministry doesn’t offer this summer. We have quite a few Camps nearby, actually- six to be exact. One of the other Camps has a program I thought would be perfect for this child, so I directed her to a different outdoor ministry in our area.

She seemed surprised.

“Aren’t you… competitors?” she asked me.

Well, yes. But also no.

I believe in Bible Camp. Not just the Camp where I work, but in outdoor ministry in general. I think that Camp can be the single most inspiring experience of a child’s faith life. Camp fosters faith.

I grew up in a Christian home. We had nightly devotionals around the dinner table, I went to youth groups, and we attended church as a family every Sunday. I knew about Jesus and walking in faith. It wasn’t until Camp, though, that my faith became personal.
One of the foundations of faith is trust. And it takes a lot of trust for a child to come to a Camp. Camp can be a scary experience, a seemingly huge risk.

Camp requires a child to develop (or grow in) independence. Without parents to reassure and provide security, a child has to trust in their counselor, their peers, and ultimately, in God.

It’s at Camp where a child has the opportunity to take their faith, one that may have been very much nurtured by loving parents, and truly own it. Stepping out into a new environment without the security of the familiar requires a kid to stand on his own two feet, to figuratively say to the world, “This is me- this is who I am and what I believe.”

Bible Camp is a safe place to do that.

Camp is a place that encourages honesty and openness. A kid can express himself within this culture of fun, of acceptance, and of unity found through faith- and great things happen in these circumstances.

I want kids to go to Camp- here or somewhere else. I believe in Camp- I’ve seen transformation because of Camp in the life of a child, in the life of a family.

So yeah, while my Camp is technically in competition with other ministries in the area… we don’t act like it. We’re in this together. We believe that Camp is important in the spiritual life of a kid, and we have the same mission. Helping children to grow in faith is our business. 

For more posts about Summer Camp:
Summer Camp and Dietary Needs: some tips for children with food allergies or sensitivities
Helping Your Child Get the Most out of Camp

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