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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Time for Boys, Camp and Funny Stories

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:" ~Matt.7:24

We are back from a really great week at Camp Good News! If you can believe it I was so busy I didn't have time to take even one picture! I need to thank all of you who prayed for our family last week...your prayers were felt. Emma did amazing! I was so shocked, considering how she would not go to anyone the week we were up at the lake with family. She took right to everyone and slept great and I know it's all because of the power of prayer. Thank you!

The three boys were all in different cabins this year. For Noah and Owen going to camp was old hat as this was their 3rd year, but for Gabe it was his first. He was in the "Mighty Mohawk" tribe, the youngest boy cabin at camp and Ben was his counselor. I really need to give props to my husband. It's not just any man who could be a counselor to that age group of boys but he does it so well and is such a trooper about it! I was given the job of "Dining Room Hostess" and I loved it! We worked hard but it was fun work and I got to make several new friends which, thanks to Facebook, I will now get to keep in touch with.

A couple of funny stories. I am probably the meanest mom ever for doing this but....I forced Noah and Owen to put down "swim lessons" as their #1 choice. You see at camp every camper gets to choose a skill to do for the week. You write down your top 3 choices, #1 being the one you want to do the most. They try hard to give the campers their #1 choice but there can only be so many in certain classes so not everyone gets their #1 choice. My reason for forcing them into swim lessons is because, if I can be frank, swim lessons are expensive AND time consuming. I feel it's wise to take advantage of FREE swim lessons since we are at camp anyway! Plus I want my kids to be more comfortable in the water. So they both went to camp with the understanding that they would be putting down swim lessons first. So after all the campers had been assigned their skills I found Noah and Owen on my break and asked them which skill they got.

Noah says to me, "I got swim lessons but not WILLINGLY!" Haha. That made me laugh. Not only did he get it "not willingly" he ended up the only boy in the class! This momma felt really guilty! He will tell you though that even though he started off not wanting to be there he is glad he did it because he learned to do the back stroke! He has asked to be allowed to choose whichever skill he wants next year and I said yes!

Owen says to me, "I got swim lessons but I really wanted wood working because they are making a candy dish. I put woodworking as my second choice and on my sheet of paper I wrote, "please choose wood working!". I laughed so hard! I can imagine what the staff member who was in charge of placing the kids in skills was thinking. Probably something like, "if he wanted woodworking, why didn't he put it as his first choice?". Little did she know his mom was forcing him to take swim lessons. Little did mom know he would try to get out of swim lessons like this! It didn't work though because he got swim lessons. He too, is glad he did it because he does feel more confident in the water now. He was the only boy in his class too...seriously! He has decided already he is putting woodworking as his first choice next year!

Because it was Gabe's first year at camp he was allowed to choose whichever skill he wanted. He chose archery and really loved it. By the last day he was hitting the target like no ones business! He asked me if I will force him to do swim lessons next year and I said yes. He's in the process of convincing himself this is what he wants anyway!

On the last day of camp there is a banquet dinner and an awards ceremony. The campers are awarded different things by the recommendation of the counselors. Noah was given the "Leadership" award, which is the second highest award you can receive. We were really proud of him and he was thrilled to have received it. I'm so thankful for what all three boys learned at camp last week. They got to hear from the camp Pastor each night and the missionary that week also spoke to the kids each day. There was a lot of valuable Bible teaching given to the kids and I pray that what they heard and learned will sink in and stay with them. I'm thankful for how much they enjoy camp and how they are already planning for next year! I'm thankful for the teaching the staff received each day in devotions from Matthew 7 and what a challenge and blessing it was to me. I'm thankful for the full-time staff at camp who give so much of themselves and are so willing to allow God to use them however he asks. They are certainly an example and encouragement to us.

Now we are home and I have started tackling the boys laundry. It's not for the faint of heart!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Time for Camp Good News

It's been a busy couple of weeks. We have just returned home from a wonderful vacation at the lake visiting family. There was lots of unpacking and laundry to do when we got home! Now all that freshly washed clothing is getting packed up again as we head off to Camp Good News. If you are not familiar with CGN please click the link below:

Camp Good News/CEF of Maine

Ben grew up going to Camp Good News every summer. He even went through the CYIA (Christian Youth in Action) program. He loved camp and it was always something he wanted to share with his kids some day. The first time I ever went to camp was as an adult and I was there for a cousins wedding. It was only a few years ago that I got to attend camp and see it in action. It really is a great place for kids and the staff there truly love God and want the kids to know God. The first thing you are told when you arrive is, "camp is about the camper", and it really is! 

Some of the things I love about camp...

One, it's affordable! I realize $175 is still a lot of money for many families, especially if you are sending multiple kids but compared to other camps out there and what they offer, CGN is a bargain. Not only do the kids get fed well, they also get to choose a skill to learn while they are there. In the past our kids have done archery & riflery as well as swim lessons. This is what my kids talk about all year long...what skill they will choose! The day is jam packed with fun, Bible teaching, swimming, making new friends, eating, singing & playing games! They sleep well at night, lets just put it that way. 

CGN also offers scholarships to children who want to attend but whose parents cannot afford to send them. People donate money throughout the year to sponsor a camper...I LOVE THIS! Kids who would otherwise not have an opportunity to go to camp are given the chance. 

The other thing I love about camp is that you can volunteer to be staff. Because Ben and I are volunteering, we get to send one child each to camp for free. Of course there is a process to being a volunteer...background checks, references, etc. They carefully screen the volunteers so you can be assured your children are in safe hands. Of course they have regular staff too, but the volunteers help to fill in the holes and that allows CGN to keep their costs down so that they can offer a week at camp for an affordable price.

I'm putting this plug in because our hearts are with CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship). CEF is a ministry Ben grew up with and over the years we have both come to love it. We have such a burden to see children know God and we are thankful for ministries like CEF. We share their vision and want you to experience it for yourself! If you've considered sending your kids to camp but haven't been sure which one, I would recommend you look into Camp Good News. If you currently do send your kids to Camp Good News but have never volunteered for the week then I would encourage you to pray about doing so. Yes, it's an exhausting week. Yes, you have to give up vacation time to do it. I promise you though, you will be blessed and you will not be sorry you did it! I realize that I should have done this at the beginning of camp season. We are now at the last week of camp for the summer but that doesn't mean you can't consider camp. There's always next year. You have lots of time to pray and see how you can help this ministry. If you want to send your child, you have a year to save. You have a year to pray and see if God is calling you to volunteer for a week and save up some of that vacation time! Maybe he will ask you to send money to support a camper or just send money to the camp for any repairs or updates they need to make. There are so many ways you can be involved with camp! See for yourself by clicking this link: Opportunities

One thing everyone reading this blog post can do is PRAY! It's free and it's so powerful. Pray for the staff at Camp that God would strengthen them and continue to use them to reach children for Christ. Pray that God would continue to provide for the needs of the staff and the camp itself. Pray for us this coming week as we go and volunteer. We need prayers for strength and wisdom as we interact with the campers. We will need clarity of mind and the ability to leave our own struggles and stresses behind so that we can focus on the campers and focus on how God wants to use us that week. Pray for our 3 oldest children who will be campers that they would have a great week and that God would speak to their hearts. Pray that they would make new friends and stay safe. Pray for 3 of my younger ones who will be staying with my in-laws for the MIL will need your prayers! And lastly pray for Emma. She will be coming to camp and staying with me and is going through a phase where she is very attached to mom and will not go to new people. This could make it stressful for me to do the job I've been assigned so pray she would warm up quickly to the babysitting staff! Pray she would sleep well too...if baby doesn't sleep, mommy doesn't sleep. 

I'm always so thankful to anyone who reads any blog post I write but I'm especially thankful to you for taking the time to read this one! Please share and get the word out about Camp Good News!

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Time to Date

What therefore God hath joined together, let not 
man put asunder. ~Mark 10:9

Fifteen years ago, on August 3rd, a really great guy asked me to be his girlfriend. He showed up at my apartment unannounced and asked me to take a drive with him. I had been taking a nap and my hair was a mess, my clothes were frumpy but he gave me no time to change. I was confused to say the least but welcomed any opportunity to spend time with this "really great guy" so I didn't argue and got in the car.

The car was a gray, very old, VW Jetta. That part isn't so important except to say some great memories were made with that car and it still lives, in a field, at Ben's parents house. His dad always teases me that he's saving it for me. Anyway, with no explanation he drove us to a park in town. It had just started raining and he asked me to get out and come around back and open the trunk. I am not going to lie. I thought this was really strange. Here we were in the pouring rain for reasons unknown to me and I was being told to open a trunk. I've watched a few movies...scenarios like this don't usually end well.

I opened the trunk and inside was one single red rose. I was a little stunned. I didn't know what to think. You see we had been friends for a few years and we got along great. We had expressed interest in each other a year prior but one of us (it wasn't me) felt that the timing wasn't right and as far as I knew nothing had changed. Then Ben asked me if I would be his girlfriend. My answer was yes without hesitation. After, I splashed him with water from a puddle we were standing near...I can't remember why.

On our 1-year dating anniversary we celebrated with a lobster dinner in my very small, basement apartment. Every year since that time we have celebrated our dating anniversary with lobster. Ben picks it up from a fresh fish place he drives by on his way home from work. We wait till the kids are in bed...well, we used to do that. Now we wait till the babies are in bed and put a movie on for the older kids. Then we eat a quiet meal together and just talk and sometimes reminisce. We will both tell you the best decision we ever made was choosing each other. We also thank God often for bringing us to each other.

It's fun to remember back to when we first started dating. It's also fun to remember how different we were, how different our relationship was and see how much we have grown over the years. God is so gracious and I'm thankful for how He has worked in each of our lives. Having a good relationship doesn't come for free. It requires hard work and maintenance. Part of our "maintenance" is continuing to date each other. We haven't always had the extra money to go out and pay a babysitter. Some years we didn't even have a babysitter we could call. In those seasons we had to get creative but we did whatever we were able to do in order to invest in our relationship. Purposefully finding time on your calendar to have a date night is so important.

It doesn't at all feel like we have been together for 15 years and even though we've had some small ups and downs along the way I wouldn't trade these past years for anything. I pray God allows us many, many more of these anniversaries to celebrate but if his plan is otherwise and our years are shorter than we hope then at least we know we are making the most of the years he is giving us. I welcome any advice my "seasoned" readers have to help us keep our marriage alive, fresh and healthy!!!