Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Great Way to Spend 2 Weeks

Thanks so much everyone, who prayed for our Camp OUTT venture. It was such a blessing and a blast. The days seemed long and packed, like they did when you were a kid in summertime -- in fact, there were several nights when I left Camp OUTT at about 10pm, looking at the moon, and being amazed that I had been there so long that day! (our camp day did not last until nighttime, it was another child-care ministry we had during the 2nd week of camp that caused us to stay so late). Note: this first picture here of the staff is sans Josh because he had already left to come back to L-ville to work. He was there the whole 2 weeks, otherwise, and I cannot fully express my appreciation for a husband who loves children and knows how to have fun with them for hours and hours on end!

It was hard, i
nitially, to come out of the VBS mindset where you only have 2 hours, so convey truth, truth, truth as much as possible in a concentrated amount of time. I slipped back on the glove of Camp OUTT, though, where you target individual kids with specific teaching throughout the day as you enjoy quite a lot of fun with them, showing them Christ. And then we be strong in our teaching time (which Josh did and it was great! We used "Who will be King?" which is such a great resource and FREE 8 lessons online!). When you have a child for 8 hours, you partly show them that you mean what you say in your lesson time by talking to them, getting to know their lives, playing with them (how recently have you gone down a slip 'n' slide? um . . . they're sort of painful!), just enjoying them, and being ready to speak truth. We had 2 days of thunderstorms, and several of the children were very frightened (it was sort of major), but it was such a great opportunity to explain that God controls the weather; it is no accident. And we show them how a Christ follower responds to having their plans changed, even by the weather.

I am so glad that the Lord gave us "Who will be King" because I think we have tons of kids who have only ever learned "be saved, ask Jesus in your heart" kind of the gospel, and not really anything about the Lordship of Christ. So I have a vision now, of showing all the "Jesus is in my heart" kids what true salvation is (please understand what I am saying here -- I wish to clarify in children's minds that salvation is not a trite wish in which you get a genie to come live with you!).

I had one girl this week, who is the Camp OUTT veteran, Tierra. As far as I know, she does not go to church, but comes to Camp OUTT every year, and it is AMAZING to see her growth in Christ (she was converted the first summer), even without Christian teaching. She remembers almost everything she learned from years past, and it is amazingly gratifying to see that the Lord used our work, and is upholding what He has done. It was so good to see her, and have deep conversations with her. She truly has wisdom about hard things in God's word, I was just so thankful to see it.

Here are some highlights:

~Food fight! This i
s a Mandy original! A planned food fight in which the staff and the kids all attack each other with cheap food made just for this purpose. It was a sort of Friday surprise for everyone the first week. Also -- optional. Only 2 kids sat out though, hmmmm . . .

~Kick the Can takes over as the new favorite game. For one thing, it's easy to play no matter how many people you have around to play it. For another, littler kids can get the idea and play along because there aren't too many rules. We did play a round of Capture the flag, though, which will always hold a high place on my list of fav Camp OUTT games.

~Making our teams Native American tribes, to go along with our western theme. My team was the Mohawk tribe, which all the kids got into really fast. Josh was going to try to grow a Mohawk in the 2 weeks, but that was a little harder than we thought. I just loved my tribe in small group time. They all did a fantastic job thinking about and discussing the scripture we memorized and pondering hard questions I posed for them such as "what thing in your life do you think you might sometimes love more than God" (after a lesson about the rich young ruler). This was probably my favorite time of day.

~Watching children who usually are babysat by television or computer games fall in love with simple pleasures like climbing trees, jumping rope, playing in the huge sand/mud pit with hoses and shovels, digging rivers and lakes.

~Reading time. After lunch we read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which is maybe my favorite Narnia book. Two specific parts were just ideal for discussion about Christ -- the part where Eustace becomes "undragoned" and the end where the children see Aslan as the Lamb, and he tells them they must learn to love him in their world under a different name. Aslan says "This was the very reason why you were brought into Narnia, that by knowing me here a little, you may know me better there." That is the reason I like to read these books to the children! Of course they love Aslan, and then I tell them that they love Aslan because he is Jesus!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Quick Update

My loyal readers!

I am so sorry for my absence from the Blogosphere. I sadly have no internet access at my parent's house, which is where I am staying while visiting Illinois. Camp OUTT is going swimingly, like something from a dream for me. I will give a full report whenever I next have the opportunity.

Thank you for your prayers! God has been so gracious and good to us in a myriad of ways by providing everything from kids, to snacks to sunshine after rain. We have had some great conversations with the kids about God's providence.

I can't write anymore now! More later!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What I love about Kari

Josh's sister Kari and her husband Lukas spent this past weekend with us, as I mentioned in the last post (which would mean Misty, Anna, and Sarah all knew the correct answer -- but only one prize, sorry!). We had great fun with them, of course, anybody who has ever spent 5 minutes with Kari/Lukas have left with their sides splitting with laughter. Just about all my voices (and the voices I frequently pass on) are "Kari voices" -- half the kids in our old youth group could do Kari "fake excited" voice. Add Josh into the mix, and "Bubby" and "Sissy" are just about "redonkulous" together. Kari is a sort of Mark Twain, constantly inventing new words, names and accents that are as realistic as they are hysterical, making them stick and become forever a part of our vocabularies.

I love how Kari makes us laugh. But I noticed something else about Kari that I really appreciated this weekend. She and Lukas have been married for 2 1/2 years now, and she is expecting their first little one, Max Garrett. Kari has officially moved past the newlywed stage, but I haven't seen her grow tired of her husband
. She hasn't fallen into the common pattern of whining and nagging, scoffing and disrespecting that is typical of marriages today -- even Christian ones. I see Kari respect Lukas, naturally look to him to make the call, admire and laugh at him with fondness and even adoration. She doesn't take him for granted, or treat him like a child (which is, I think, easy to slip into when you have a husband that is very funny). She brags on him, and builds him up. They are great companions. It's easy to see that they are on the same team.

Maybe that is not a big deal to you. To me, it is amazing. The majority of wives, young and old, get in a pattern where their relationship with their husband is sort a tug-of-war game, a constant battle. I just finished reading Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal, which lays out the Biblical pattern for wives on how to relate to their husbands. I appreciated Carolyn's warm encouragement to the reader to remember how you felt about your husband when you first fell for him, to really look at him, and consider him and all his qualities. This is a great book! I couldn't recommend a better one on this topic (needless to say, I lent mine to Kari -- hope she reads it and is encouraged).

Girls -- those of you who are wives -- take a moment to take stock and consider how you relate to your husband. If someone observed you and wrote a blog post about it, how would you be evaluated? Is it quite clear that you love him? Can your children tell?

Little Max will have one thing going for him right away (besides the fact that he will just HAVE to have an incredible sense of humor) -- he'll have a mommy that esteems his daddy just like the Bible says. And that, Kari, is one of the greatest gifts only you can give him.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Which pregnant sister-in-law?

Guess who's here visiting us??
There are prizes for the first correct answer. You must be able to tell me this girl's name. Not mine.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Tonight I realized that I had stopped being thankful for my freedom because I shifted so much in my thinking about my country and government. It's true that it was good in some ways to shift my thinking from an idyllic near-worship of freedom and justice -- one's country can easily become one's idol, right? -- but maybe my pendulum shift went a bit too far.

While I don't think I'll ever be quite the libertarian I once was (I think my understanding of human depravity has altered that forever
), I do want to consider all the blessings in my life and thank God for them. I think this is part of Philippians 3 "I know how to be abased and how to abound". Where there is abundance, it could be easy to worship the plenty -- so I need to learn how to be content in the midst of my abundance.

On a lighter note, here are some pictures of our Independence Day celebrations with Andrea and Jason Erb and my friend Heather. We took a picnic/cookout to the park, and then walked down to riverfront park to watch the fireworks. It was a lovely evening with our friends!

We were ready for the rain!

Boys love to grill, I guess

I opted for a potato-salad-and-deviled-egg dog instead of a brat

Here is my homemade cherry pie with Andrea's homemade ice cream
Name this cute couple: hint they are laying upon a Maranatha blanket that one of them got while in concert band playing the trombone. And their last name sounds like green things that you might use to season food.
Also count the uncheckable things in the picture. ***I counted 4***

Monday, July 02, 2007

Matters of Prayer

Lately I have been so moved to pray all throughout the day. You know how it is when the Lord keeps pressing certain matters on your heart, and you feel so strongly passionate about it that you are moved to pray over and over, and it doesn't feel repetitive or dry. That is how I've been since Saturday. Here is what I've been praying for, and I hope you might join me!

1. Camp OUTT -- as of right now, we still have plenty of openings. I met with Mandy and Amanda (other leaders) on Saturday, and we are feeling pretty squared away in most areas, and now we're just crying out to the Lord to bring us kids! It seems like a super short notice, but it's so true that all along, God has known which children to bring, and what time to bring them. Would you pray, specifically for more unchurched kids to come?

2. Emma -- my sweetie little sis is in Europe with Word of Life, working in VBS, youth rallies, etc. I am praying for this to be an incredible time of growth and joy in Christ as she ministers all day every day. I'm also praying for her safety -- with the strange events going on in London.

3. Camp -- 2 of my other sisters, Abby and Nancy are at Word of Life Camp in New York. I'm praying for a challenging time of growth and strengthening of faith for them. Particularly, I'm praying for Nancy to be wise and guarded while on the island (if you don't know WoL camp, the senior high campers are on this island which is awesome, but they are sort of free to roam a good part of the day). The kids are also participating in International Teens Involved this week, and I'm really praying for them all to do their best. Abby and Nancy are both in choir, and Abby is in an instrumental/vocal group, praise team and drama. A bunch of other kids in the youth group are also participating in preaching, singing, teaching children, etc. I'm so proud of them, and I wish I were there to encourage them, so I'm praying for them across the miles!

Thanks for joining me in this!

***Edit: I got news that 5 unchurched kids were signed up for Camp OUTT since Sunday -- WOW! It's really exciting to see the Lord answer our prayers! ***