Monday, June 30, 2008


As I come off of a week of counseling 7 amazing girls, I am struck by responsibility. Parents trusted me with their children - to teach them, counsel them and take care of them. For 6 days I was to be their main caretaker. It's a great way to test out parenting :-) But what a responsibility! What if I told them the wrong thing? What if I wasn't there when I needed to be? What if I couldn't find the words to say? What if, what if, what if.

If we let the what ifs run our life, we will be severely hindered from doing what it is that God wants us to do. Yes, we run into situations where we are over our heads. Yes, we run out of words to say. But God works through that. And it is when God works that we make an impact.

When I start getting myself ready for counseling, I am pumped. I know it is going to be a great week and that everything is going to go smoothly and perfectly. I pack my bag with everything I need and try to anticipate what my girls are going to be like. I plan how the week is going to go. And then as time gets closer and closer the knot in my stomach grows. Last Sunday I was sitting on the Snak Shak porch, waiting to receive my campers. A large part of my was psyched up and ready to go. A small part of me was praying that for some reason none of my campers could come to camp so I could step back into my comfort zone. And then my name comes over the loudspeaker and I go to meet my first camper. There is no turning back!

As I met my girls I tried to get a feel for who they were and what they needed from me. Some just needed love. Lots and lots of love. Others needed questions answered. Others needed a fun person who they felt comfortable being themselves with. Others needed a little more direction. They were all different. They all came from different homes with different problems. Everyone's story is unique onto them and so they need to be met where they are at that time, not where I want them to be or where society thinks they should be. Throughout the week I spent time with them, talking with them, and just being there for them. I was there to make sure they took their vitamins and took showers. I was there to cheer them on when they were nervous about doing an activity or acting in the drama. I was to answer any questions they might have about God. I was there.

Which brings me to the word impact. How exactly do we impact people? What can we do that makes a difference in peoples lives? Can we preach a great sermon and change their lives? Absolutely! Can we run a camp where the fun never stops and lives get changed? Absolutely! But what is it that people remember the most?

When campers come back year after year the first thing they ask is where their counselor from the past years are. When Trail's End staff go to churches to promote camp they are met by excited kids who are expecting their counselor to be there. We get letters throughout the year addressed to counselors from their campers. Kids spell love T-I-M-E. And it's the counselors that put in the time. It's the counselors (for the most part) who have the chance to make the biggest impact on the kids.

So I guess what I'm trying to express is that if we are looking to make an impact for God (which quite honestly should be every Christian's goal) we need to be willing to invest in people. We need to be willing to spend time with them and love them. We need to get our hands dirty. We need to be open to doing what it is that God wants us to do! So, what does God want you to do?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sounds of Summer

I am sitting out on the front porch of my office right now, enjoying a little break from being inside (someone donated a very nice rebuilt laptop with wireless so I can sit outside and do work, which is lovely of course) listening to the sounds of camp. The thing that strikes me over and over again the difference a month makes.

A month ago there was quiet. Occasionally you would hear a turkey call or a cat meow, but that was about it. The silence was lovely. You could sit outside and watch the branches sway with the wind and soak in the solitude. There would be perhaps two people a day who would come into my office needing something from me.

Now today I am overwhelmed with what is around. The weed eaters are going at full blast and the kids are yelling and the loudspeaker is announcing and the trucks are driving by. People are constantly tramping in and out of my office, needing this form printed or this question answered or just someone to listen to them vent. Kids are walking from the climbing tower to the big swing and back again.

Then comes a brief moment of silence. The weed eaters take a break, the kids stop their game, and the silence gets soaked in. All the questions are answered, all the forms are printed. It is then that I get to take a step back and soak in what is around. Soak in the atmosphere that is camp. When things are going a million miles an hour it is crazy fun, but it is hard to understand what is happening.

When things slow down, I can take a step back and realize what is going on. Kids are having fun, kids are learning about God and kids are being loved. They get a week to get away from the pressure of this world - a week to take a break from the media and from bad influences. A week to enjoy physical activity and to try new things. A week to be truly a kid. For here is a safe haven. Here we ask tough questions, but we do not expect them take care of things that are beyond their levels. Here we push them forward in different aspects and have them try rapelling down a cliff, but we do not ask them to be adults.

Because soon enough the ball gets thrown back into play, the weedeaters get more fuel and people drive by on important business. Soon enough we send the kids back to the world, where they are once again bombarded by life. Knowing that we have them only for a week makes the time with them just a bit more precious. Knowing that we only have one week to share the love of Jesus makes it more of a priority.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


com·mun·ion - noun
interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication

On Friday we had a very special time as a staff. The last Friday of staff training we meet together as a staff and share a delicious meal. Following the meal we share what God has done in our life during staff training and how He met us during the time of "solo" that everyone just got done having. We end the evening with a special Communion service and singing.

This is only my second summer, but that Communion service (along with the one at the very end of summer) is quickly growing to be one of my favorite experiences. It is amazing how God brings all of these strangers together and we leave as family. We come from all over the country and all sorts of different backgrounds. There are couples who have been married for 45 years and in camping for 50 and high school students. There are college students who had never heard of Trail's End until a month ago and staff who grew up coming here as a camper, just counting the years until they could come on staff. By the end of that night we are forever bonded.

It started out slow (like always). One person would go, and then there would be a lull. Then it started to pick up and we had staff after staff member sharing their heart. Some shared how God worked it out for them to come against all odds. He was willing and able to work miracles! Others shared how they had been struggling for days (or even years) with an issue and God had met them that day with a truth about Him that is infallible. He is love and strength and acceptance. To some He sent a bird, to others flies and ticks. He meets us where we are with what we need.

What an amazing way to start out the summer! When we as a staff are willing to become vulnerable, to become true brothers and sisters in the Lord, it is then that the Lord can truly work through us as a staff. When we feel free to share with one another where we truly are, then we can feel free to share with one another our struggles. And there are many. As each person looks different, each person also struggles with different things. We are struggling with homesickness, with relying on God, with knowing what to tell that camper who just lost a mother, with where in the world we will be in 3 months.

It comes to the point where we have to surrender. It is not possible to get through a summer on our strength. God is our rock and is there for us to lean on. When we get tired, we can rest in Him. He also blesses us with one another. Who better to understand what we are going through than people who are going through the same thing? God puts us into community for a reason. We as humans are meant to fellowship with another and be a part of the body. And what better way to strengthen the body than share our thoughts and emotions?

Friday, June 13, 2008

For Such A Time As This

It seems that I come back to the book of Esther over and over again. Of course there is a part of me that loves the fact that she goes from a regular girl to a queen. But there's more to it than that. It's just part of one verse, but that simple phrase impacts my soul.

"And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"

And with that Esther is thrust forward into the next part of her life. She has a choice to make. It will either end badly or just the way it was meant to. All of us face moments like that. It is up to us what we do with them.

When new and scary (or different) things start happening, what is the typical response? There is some fear, some doubt, some stressing. Finally it reaches the point that a choice needs to be made. Either we deny the working of God or square our shoulders and push forward, resting in the knowledge that we serve a mighty God who loves us.

It is then our job to pray. We must pray that God will give us the willing spirit and discernment. We must pray that God will give us the strength to endure whatever comes our way. We must pray that God will give us a supernatural love for the people surrounding us. And we must pray that God will give us the strength to say, as Esther said, "If I perish, I perish." Service takes sacrifice, whether that be our lives or just the dreams we hold dear.

Oftentimes, once we are past a situation, we look back and see a more complete picture. While something seems to have come and broadsided us, often that is not the case. Instead, God had been working in us for days, months or even years previous. He was getting us ready for the moment when we would say "for such a time as this."

I was contemplating these thoughts today as I was on my solo. On the last Friday of staff training, we send the summer staff off to spend 6 hours alone with God. It is a time of rest, conversation and silence. As a full time staff, I was only able to take about 1 1/2 hours because of other commitments, but it was still a great time. This summer we are facing many challenges. There are not enough staff and too many campers! Because of this, my job description will most likely expand. I will either be spending most of my time down in the barn or with campers as a counselor. Part of me screams in silent terror - trying to convince God that I was not called out here to do that. I was called to answer phones and balance checkbooks remember?? But another part of me has peace. For God has called me to Trail's End to be His servant. Not only to Trail's End, but to this world. If I cannot step forth and get out of my "job" than what is the point?

So please, join me as I enter into this next phase. As I learn that I was placed here for "such a time as this."