4.6.14

#campwifelife

I love the idea of hashtags and while I don't use them on Facebook or Instagram, I'm always throwing them out in my head. #campwifelife is one of my growing mental hashtags. Here is one example.

My husband came home this morning before I was even fully awake asking for a "sacrificial basket for the loaves and the fishes" that he could use for some camp teaching purpose. I was stumbling around trying to find a basket when the word "sacrificial" registered.

"What do you mean 'sacrificial'? I won't get it back?
"probably not"

My first thought was, no you can't have one of my baskets. I need them. They are pretty. Are you crazy? Then a soft and gentle conviction came to me: "will you sacrifice even your home decor for the sake of the gospel?" hmm. That's one of MY most treasured areas, for sure.

This was by no means a heart-piercing, mega-moment of spirituality, don't be mislead; but it certainly gave me pause and I grabbed a "sacrificial basket for the loaves and the fishes",  emptied of it's contents and handed it over cheerfully.

I've been thinking about this a little bit. What am I willing to lay down, give away and let go for the sake of the gospel? So far, I've been asked little. Will I be faithful in the small things? Will I be faithful in the big things? I pray that the Lord will give me the grace to do so. 

What is is like to be a camp wife? Well, sometimes your husband pops home and asks for a "sacrificial basket for the loaves and the fishes" and you give one up for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus. 

#campwifelife


31.5.14

Philippians and Camp

Philippians 1:3-11
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[d] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I have the privilege of attending a Bible study with the female directors and camp wives. All of the Bible studies at camp this summer at going through Philippians and I was really struck by the affectionate language Paul uses when speaking to them. 

The "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus" portion was first brought to mind when one of my dear, dear camp counselors sent it to me in a letter way back when (ninth or seventh grade, I think). Linda Spencer, who led worship at PCA camps back then, taught us a Steve Green song springing from that verse.

It hold a lot of "camp applications" for me, and this morning I was mulling over it as I cleaned the kitchen and realized that God has blessed Tuan and I with some deep, sweet relationships springing from camp and I feel that same affection and longing for these people as Paul describes. I love how camp ministry brings people back into your lives year after year (sometimes) and allows you to develop these relationships that push you to Jesus,  comfort you on your journey and point you to glory. 

Deep affection. Indescribable. Because really, the curtain is lifted a little bit and you catch a glimpse of the greater, more wonderful beyond and if you think about it too much--its just too much to bear. 

Here are the lyrics--best as I can remember them.


If the struggle you're facing is slowly replacing your hope with despair
And the struggle is long and you're losing your song in the night
You can be sure that the Lord has his hand on you
Safe and secure--He will never abandon you
You are his treasure and he finds great pleasure in you


He who began a good work in you
He who began a good work in you
Will be faithful to complete it
With be faithful to complete it
He who started the work will be faithful to complete it in you.

1.12.13

Christmas Chaos/Christmas Wonder

Have you ever had every going so smoothly and then wham! bam! it all goes to pot? I speak of utter chaos and wailing, spilling, breaking, whining and spaghetti noodles everywhere.

Today went so well. Worship. Lunch all ready in the crockpot. Long rest time for the kids and peppermint mochas and reading in bed for us. We had decided to decorate for Christmas today and I confess, I had visions of EVERYTHING decorated (indoors and out!) and some presents wrapped by bedtime tonight. The tree finding went of without a hitch and we brought home the best free-range cedar we've ever found. Bringing decorations down from the attic? Smooth as buttah. Even the lights untangled and EVERY strand but one worked. I mean, we were looking good. 

Then it  all stopped going so well. Decorations were being strewn about the house with abandon, the tree would not stand up on it's own. Half a string of lights that were already on the tree gave out. 

Shall I recount?
Screaming baby
broken strand of decorating beads: a hundred red beads rolling all over the floor
angry baby eating leftover spaghetti
3 year old opening his advent calendar present on the sly
hungry three year old caught foraging in the cupboard for craisins
the dustpan DISAPPEARED
morose toddler eating leftover spaghetti
broken hearted big kids who wanted spaghetti, too
frantic noodle cooking in the midst of it all
husband with a headache
angry baby mad at spaghetti
angry baby realizes that the rest of family is eating spaghetti and demands more
as does 3 year old
NOT ONE ORNAMENT ON THE TREE!

Finally, T called it a night. Advent and to bed. Decorations on delay. 

We cleared the table, threw the advent wreath together. Grabbed the advent books, calendars, Bible and dug the first Jesse Tree ornament out of the bag. 

Deep breaths. Candle lit. And then, J somehow took on the responsibility of reading tonight's passage. For the first time, I heard my son really and truly reading scripture all on his own.


In the abeginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was bwithout form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
 And God said, “Let there be an expanse1 in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”  And God made  the expanse and  separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were fabove the expanse. And it was so.  And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.  God called the dry land Earth,  and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.


It was sweet. It was a glimpse of the fruit of our labors. Not only that our son is reading well, but a glimpse of the man of God I hope he will one day be. A "Jesus-man" as our dear friend Sue Jakes says.

We sang as a family after the devotion and the songs we have sung year after year came right back to them. I could sense the fellowship, the wonder, the longing, and awe of centuries of saints gone before us.

After bed-time, I was downstairs sorting through the Jesse Tree ornaments and trying to get them in order to place in their appropriately numbered envelopes.  Miss A came downstairs because she couldn't sleep, so I let her help me. She had lots to say, but hearing her recount on her own many of the Bible narratives and connections with the Jesse Tree ornaments filled my heart with thankfulness: for her, for our church and the faithful people who take their covenant at baptism seriously and teach our children.

Then, as I was paging through the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, really emotionally joy--full, I read the story of King Herod and the slaughter of the innocents. Heart-stabbing hurt, there.

I wish I fully understood the why of life. The why of so much hurt and suffering, mingled with joy and gladness. I only know what God has given so plainly: Creation. Fall. Redemption. Glory. There's a BETTER day coming. A BETTER joy. A BETTER righting of wrongs. God's going to make it all right and wipe away every tear. The deep down feeling we all have that there is something MORE will be satisfied.

I pray that you, my friend, would rest in Jesus.

Jesus, joy of the highest Heaven, born as a little baby under a wondrous star.
Like us, crying, he takes His first breath, held by his mother, helpless,
close to her beating heart.
Jesus, laid in a lowly manger, 
facing a world of dangers, 
come to turn me, a stranger, 
into a child of God.

Jesus, joy of the highest Heaven, learning to take His first step, that He might bring us life.
Like us, knowing our smiles and sorrows, He showed the way to follow,
a way that is true and right.
Jesus, take away every darkness; 
Steady my simple footsteps,
that I might in your goodness, 
live as a child of God.

(Keith and Kristyn Getty)

7.7.13

Resting--and Life, Currently.

I am so thankful for this season right now. This summer of camp has been such a blessing, such a reprieve from the wild of the past year.

There are struggles, still. But there is so much grace, so much calm in the midst of the crazy and even though I am tired, I sense renewal and refreshment as we have taken a break from school and the busyness of the fall-winter-spring. I'm encouraged by sin battles that are being won, for the enemy being kept at bay and for the way the Lord is stretching and teaching me.

I LOVE being a camp wife. I love this interesting and busy life and helping my husband as he needs me. I love that our children get to grow up here with the amazing staff to love on them and the incredible camp kids to grow up alongside (and their amazing parents for us to fellowship with!)

The kids and I have lazy mornings. I drink coffee, read, pray and journal on the porch before my kiddos drag out of bed. They sleep so late right now, that I can sleep in a bit and still get a head start on the day! They eat breakfast and we try to make it to morning assembly to worship with the campers, see the Pilgrim's Progress skit and catch the funny activity skits. We swim, do chores, take it easy . . . . at night we play at camp with the campers. So fun! Our nights are late--usually bedtime is around nine or nine thirty. A little housework here and there, keeping up with laundry, hospitality--not much on my plate right now. I'm grateful for that because the rest of the year I feel like I'm spinning with meals, homeschool, laundry, cleaning and all the STUFF of life. I'm spinning now, but in a sweet and different way. I also have LOTS of help with the kids thanks to our camp Nannies. Since we don't do MMO or preschool, I don't get a lot of breaks during the year. I'm enjoying this very much!

With two weeks of camp left and two truly busy weeks of "special season" (when other groups run their own camps) left, I'm starting to twitch and plan for school. I'm hoping to start VERY early since August can be so miserably hot and get a head start so we can enjoy lots of free fall days, a long Christmas break and finish school early in the spring. This break has surely gotten me mentally rested and motivated and SO excited about the coming year and all of our school plans.

The kids are growing like weeds. J lost his first tooth today. He is reading on his own and it's SO COOL to see him sounding out books and whatever words he comes across. He is such a good, cheerful helper, too, and takes out the bathroom garbage, vacuums the stairs, puts away laundry . . . . J is also proving himself trust-worthy (in a seven year old kind of way) and I really have enjoyed giving him more privileges and freedoms. He LOVES hanging out with the other two staff kid boys.

Miss A is a delight. She and one of the other little staff kids are best buds and A would play with her ALL DAY if she could. She also loves to play with other campers and usually ends up hanging out with a cabin or two. Miss A is really growing in her stewardship of her room and toys. I'm proud of how well she cleans her room and unloads the dishwasher. She also enjoys helping in the kitchen and loves to cook alongside me. Music and singing are VERY much part of her personality, too.

Mr. O is a sweet mess. He keeps me on my toes, but melts my heart with his kisses and snuggles and desire to be included. "Me, too?!" is his frequent question. O thinks the "big boys" (staff kids) are the coolest people EVER and always wants to do what they are doing--for better or for worse! He is much less of a handful than last year and is learning to obey and follow direction (and dance!).

Baby R is delightful. Absolute chubbalicious thighs and big baby smile delightful. She is go with the flow as long as she has her peeps nearby. A bit of Mama-separation-anxiety is creeping in and I don't mind one bit. It's nice to be so wanted. : ) With two bottom teeth and four on the top, she is becoming less baby and I'm seeing the hints of some toddler! She and her "BFF" next door neighbor, Baby A, love playing with each other. R is pretty verbal and likes to imitate sounds and actions. We see the inklings of wanting to walk, but I'm not rushing that at all.

That's life these days. We have evaded sickness this summer and things are calm. I am enjoying this pleasant season. I don't know what the future holds, but I KNOW who holds the future.

1.4.13

How Do You Do It?

A sweet mother of two little children gazed at us in wonder on Sunday morning as we filed into the nursery with our four. "How do you do it?" she said.

How do we do it? We don't. I don't. I can't.

We pull it together on Sunday and have a little system down that works for us, but we only look somewhat together in the blissful moments after we get out of the car (and I've just wiped all the dried eye crud, milk mustaches and other gunk off of our kids faces!) and walk into church.

This past year has been WILD. I could list all the crazy, a surgery, the doctor visits, accidents in the car, spills, sicknesses, foreign travel,  bumps in the road and just the destructive chaos Mr. O creates would by itself drive anyone batty.

I've never ever had it all together (although I got a LOT more done with fewer kids and I really don't have a lot of children compared to many!).  However, the reality of how not "together" I am and how much bigger the job is than me has especially settled in since baby R arrived.

I have ironed one article of clothing this entire year. One. The mess in our house rotates from area to area. The laundry never ends. I feel the fall acutely when it comes to laundry and housework. My own parenting failures help seal the remembrance.

Yet we survive. God is gracious and if this is my lot it has surely fallen in pleasant places.

I told Tuan that I was a bit overwhelmed and as I listed all my roles and jobs, I began to understand why:

Child of God
Wife, helper and lover. : ) Amen.
Mother
Daughter and Sister
Friend
Woman in the Church
Teacher of two different grades, wrangler of a three year old and primary baby care for sweet Mrs. R.
Artist/Writer/Reader/Musician
Chef--3 meals a day
Procurer of Domestic Supplies
Laundress
Home Manager
House Keeper and Cleaner

It's too much. I can't do it. At any and all times some balls are going to drop. I could surely use some household help. It's rather liberating to realize that. It's also liberating to realize that it's okay to let some things go.

Sometimes I have to realize that I don't have to cling to standards that the Lord has not set for me. Cleaning my house at the expense of discipling my children and loving my husband and caring for someone in need isn't what he is calling me to do. I struggle with that balance.

At the same time, when I fail in the areas where he HAS drawn a line ), I am COVERED by the blood of Jesus. Hallelujah!

If I'm grumpy because my system of organization is not being followed, the problem lies with me. I don't have the liberty to declare that "without X, I can't function", if "Z is dirty, I can't do Y".

Ultimately, my SOLE dependence is on Jesus. I am, however, at liberty to recognize and declare that "without JESUS, I can't."

It's liberating to realize that being creative reflects his image and can bring him glory.

Hmm. . . Wish I had time to sort this out more, but Mr. O just plundered the Italian Creme Cake in the Fridge and Baby R is on a fast track towards the coconut shower that resulted from the plunder.