To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Time for Camp Good News

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. ~Deut. 6:7

If you are not familiar with Camp Good News click on the link and see what it's about. Ben grew up going to Camp Good News (a CEF ministry) as a kid and then when he was a teenager attended CYIA (Christian Youth In Action). This year was the first year that we had a child old enough to be a camper, which starts at age 8. Because Ben was a counselor in the cabin and Owen had an older sibling in the cabin, they let him be an overnight camper too. They all had such a great time. Ben really loved being a counselor and Noah and Owen had a great time...although the very busy schedule was a lot for them to get used to at first. Each camper gets to choose a "skill activity" they want to participate in for the week. Each day they have 1hr learning that skill with an instructor. Owen got Rifelry with Ben, he was the instructor for that skill. Noah chose archery. They were both really happy with what they chose and had a blast. 

Each week camp has a camp pastor who does all the chapels. The kids attend a chapel service each evening after dinner. In the mornings after breakfast they attend song time, then afterwards they go to their cabins to clean up and do their "extra duty" for that day, which is different each day from cleaning the bathrooms to sweeping the chapel. Then their day starts with the skill activity, cabin time, swimming, etc. Each day everyone gets 1hr of rest time in their cabins after lunch and I'm pretty sure ALL the counselors look forward to this!  The kids are kept very busy but they have a lot of fun too all while learning God's word and spending time with other kids their age. Ben had the opportunity to lead two of the boys in his cabin to the Lord while one boy dedicated his life after chapel one evening. 
My responsibility at Camp was to be one of the Kickapoo counselors. The Kickapoo cabin is made up of all the staff kids who are not old enough to be campers. While their parents are serving, we are watching them. This year there were 9 and 6 of them were either my own children or my cousin's kids. It was fun this year because I had a lot of family there the same week. My aunt and 3 of my cousins and their families were there. In total there were 11 cousins as campers there this week! While Ben slept in the cabin he was the counselor for, I slept in the Kickapoo trailer with the 3 younger kids. We shared the trailer with another family &  the wife was the other Kickapoo counselor for the week along with the help of 2 Junior counselors. I don't have a picture of the Kickapoo's because I was being careful to not take pictures of other people's kids but trust me when I say, we stayed very busy!! 
Along with having family at camp we were also joined by a few others from our church who attended and from all reports they had a great time too. 
One thing that is great about Camp Good News is how affordable it is. But they also have a policy that they will not refuse any child who wants to attend even if the parents cannot afford to pay the fee. God has always blessed and provided for these campers through generous donors who sponsor campers each year. Also, if as a parent you serve in some capacity at camp the week your child is there, one child per parent serving goes to camp for free. The other thing that I think is so cool is that each camper has someone who commits to praying for them. At the end of the week the camper has an opportunity to write to that person and thank them for praying for their week at camp. 

Gabe and is cousin, Seth
So for our family camp was a really fun and great experience. I'm not saying we did not come home tired, we did, but we're looking forward to serving again next year and Gabe is VERY excited he'll be old enough to be a day camper! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Time to Answer Question 3: Do you believe in...

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
 ~Psalm 127:3

I have held off writing this post because I really didn't want to offend anyone if this topic is uncomfortable for them. But over the past few months I feel I've had to answer this question for a lot of people and am at the point where I would like to set the record straight so that people stop thinking we've got goals of becoming the next "Duggar Family". YES, we believe in birth control. I know, you wouldn't think so many would ask me this but I have to answer that question A LOT. I don't mind when it's family & friends, it doesn't offend me and I'm not so private that I feel uncomfortable answering it...especially if our experience can help another couple. But when strangers in the grocery store are asking, that's a little frightening. And trust me, they do! When I was pregnant for my 4th I was in Rite Aid and I had the 3 kids with me and an older gentlemen with his wife stopped me and asked, "you know they sell stuff to prevent that don't you?" and pointed to my very pregnant belly. I was so annoyed that I said, "Really? I had no idea, where can I find that stuff?" Then I walked away. It wasn't the most gracious response and to this day Ben and I have yet to come up with a clever way to answer strangers when they do this to us.
But when it comes down to the question, "Do you believe in birth control?" or "Does your religion believe in birth control?" then I am always happy to put the mystery to rest. First of all my "religion" is the word of God, the Bible. Period. In our years of prayer on this matter and a willingness to do whatever God asks, Ben and I have not been persuaded that it's a sin to use birth control. The Bible is not clear on the subject. And there are many people that I respect and look up to that are on both sides of the issue and I do not think one is right or wrong, we are just persuaded differently. Ben and I believe this is a decision that each individual couple must come to together after meditating on God's word and prayer. No church or Pastor should be making that decision for people. That's just my opinion. 
We always have to chuckle when someone just assumes that because we have 5 kids then we must not believe in birth control because who in their right minds would WANT 5 kids. Haha. I won't lie, we have had 3 "surprises"  and when I say that I mean they were surprises to us but definitely not to God.  He will have His way regardless of our efforts but I do believe there is wisdom in a little bit of planning. Our decision to use birth control the times that we did were not without prayer on the matter. When you have 5 babies in 6 years, that's overwhelming. It's mentally and physically challenging and especially when you live far away from family and don't really have a lot of help. After Jena was born we were so thrilled with our family but at the same time felt that we had a lot on our plates and the wisest thing for us to do was to take steps to prevent another pregnancy. I don't want to take any credit or glory away from God. He is faithful to give us what we need each day and we are so reliant on Him to help us raise this family, but that does not mean it's wrong of us to want a break from having babies. Our hearts have always been willing to raise another baby if that is what God wanted from us. I don't necessarily think the issue is whether or not couples use birth control but rather where their hearts are at in regard to what God will ask of them. 
So there you have it...the mystery is solved. And to answer the question that almost always immediately follows the birth control question...."will you guys have anymore?" our answer is, "only time will tell". Because in our efforts to "plan" our family God has done better so at this point we will continue to make decisions as wisely as we can with God's will in the forefront and a heart ready for Him to change our plans if that is what He chooses.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Time for Our Story

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1Cor. 13:4-7

Thirteen years ago today, Ben and I started dating! It sounds like a long time yet feels like it was just yesterday. Since this marks a special moment in our lives I thought I'd share our story...and even if no one else is interested, at least our kids will enjoy this someday! We always joke that anytime anything significant is going on in our lives we have extreme weather and it's kinda been true. Ben and I had been friends for a couple years before we started dating. His best friend, is my cousin, and that is how we met. The day I knew he was the man I was going to marry was when at a get together at a friends house he saw I was sitting on the floor and he offered me his comfortable chair...he didn't have to do that since tons of other people were sitting on the floor but that gesture showed me what a gentlemen he was and how different from the rest he was. I was smitten! About a year after that happened he showed up at my apt. after work one summer day. I was sleeping but he told my roommate to wake me up. He told me he wanted to show me something and could we go for a ride. It was pouring rain outside. He drives to a park and stops the car and tells me there is something in the trunk he wants to show me. (the fact that I actually got out shows how much I trusted him...because lets face it....that sounds a little creepy, haha) He opens the trunk and in it is a single rose. Then the rest is history. Most of our dating relationship was long distance as he was in school in Texas and I was in Maine. So we had lots of time to talk on the phone and write letters and emails. We each have a binder full of the letters we wrote each other during those 2 years. Three years after we started dating, we got married. In January. On the worst snow storm of the year. We were supposed to have 150 guests but because the storm was so big and was all over the state of Maine through to MA only about 50 were able to come. You would think this would have bothered me but really it didn't. The only thing I cared about that day was marrying Ben and I did! I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have been the one God choose for him. We've had an awesome 13 years with lots of blessings.