For the past month my family lived in a close-knit community in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with this scene in our backyard. Our kids woke up every morning eager to spend their days in aspen groves with 15 other cabin kids as I linked arms with their moms in the cozy commune of camp. To say I am grateful seems like a hollow expression for all my heart contains. I truly count it a gift to be amongst this landscape & watch behind the scenes while wrangling our children all over camp. However, I usually enter this time with low expectations in regards to copious amounts of family time and our kids being on their best behavior through the transition. Although dreamy, it is indeed a long way from home and the familiar, paired with a time change that sends us all into a bit of a funk for a few days until we adjust. Our kids take their sweet time to learn the lay of the land and reorient themselves to boundaries and new found freedoms in the camp setting. Yet, once we all settle into our new space, I am always blown away by the growth that happens in this short stint of time; both in my kids and my own heart as my husband serves.
What is it about change & lack of familiarity that brings all the crazy out?
Ben, my husband of 10 years, is the Area Director for Lake Norman Young Life here in our town. Day to day we are building relationships with both college YL leaders and high schoolers around our area in hopes that one day they might catch a glimpse of the Great Love of our Creator. Many summers we get the opportunity to travel to one of the 25+ Young Life camps across the country to serve on a summer assignment. Recently, we have had a few opportunities to head west from here in North Carolina to work at Frontier and Crooked Creek ranches. Four years ago I was in my first trimester with our youngest, my middle was not yet walking, and my oldest was three. Needless to say I had my hands full. I was merely surviving the days of camp at a high altitude with hormonal headaches and toddler tantrums. Due to the nature of Ben’s role, which involves running most of the activities and programs for the entire duration of the month, we rarely get good quality time together. This usually results in me having a big release cry a few days in, feeling like I can no longer be a sane mother for even one more minute to my three wild ones climbing mountains and smashing rice from their tacos on the dining hall floor. We soon after have a reality check conversation & I tactfully (with tears) regain my esteemed position as prayer warrior, wrangler of wild ones, and reader of all the books. He throws on his wig, cowboy hat, and silver spray painted jeans, heading for a room full of high schoolers that seem way less intimidating than his exhausted, and maybe at times, immature wife.
This year was different though for our family, in many ways it felt like we hit a stride of sorts and the glove of glamping was not so painful to get on. It felt less forced and more natural for me this time around. I am not sure if it was having a few assignments under our belts, a few extra years of marriage, the fact that our kids are getting older, or a dear leader of ours helping hands, but something just felt right about this time of communing in Colorado. Easier circumstances in life do tend to take the sting out of the painful processes we endure in general, but this was deeper than logistics. After a few days of reflection, I have come to realize that our Creator is changing me, changing Ben, and changing our family from the inside, out. Communing with our Creator moment by moment truly shifted my perspective. There were still many hard days and daily times of despair when we missed Ben or a camper was running away from all that was being offered and the efforts seemed in vain. Yet, underneath all my mess, I can sense my posture towards God changing. In my weakness He was meeting me and giving me a new lens, a gentle nudge that this was not all about me or my own struggles. It was more about them and all they were learning and all I could learn when I just simply watched closely.
Are there parts of your heart that seem to be pleading for a posture shift?
Our musical guest Ryan Long sang a song every week that haunted me in my quiet corners and own tearful tantrums. The lyrics speak such truth:
Never seen trees so tall Never seen mountains at all
Now that I am here I can’t stop my trembling hands
Never seen water so clear Never seen people so fearless
Never have I … felt so alive
I don’t wanna cry now ‘bout where I’ve been
I just want try now to start again
I wanna tear off the rooftop
So maybe I can see you in the sky
I wanna catch every raindrop
And wash the shadows from my eyes
I just wanna live my life like it was meant to be
Change me, Where I stand
Change me, Take my hand
Friends, this is what got me through those crazy moments. When I lost sight of the mountains ahead of me and the beauty that broke my heart, I had this song echoing in my depths. I was reoriented back to the heart behind all we were doing on this holy ground. I wanted to live not only my life like it was meant to be, but experience each moment fully. I wanted to look beyond my own current circumstances and see what our God had for me and my kids. Beyond that I wanted to peel back the layers of my selfishness and grumblings to remember all that happens when high schoolers are given the chance to sit in silence staring up at stars after laughing at 30 year old men dabbing in bunny suits and basketball jerseys. Oh what a gift to have a front row seat at Young Life camp this past month!
O Lord, change me! So that I might see you clearly & love others deeply!