Tag Archive for family camp

What I Learned at Family Camp This Year

Well, Terry and Jim Jones did it again. They organized another fantastic Family Camp Weekend at Camp Christian. We all laughed and cried as the speaker, Tim Hartman, taught timeless principles from God’s word. I appreciated not only his humor but his vulnerability in the memorable examples he used to support the lessons. I wanted to share a couple thoughts I found especially meaningful.

  • Our families, especially our children, need us to share our faith stories with them.  They need to hear how God is working in our lives. That means we have to open our own eyes to recognize God’s working. So, what is your faith story today? How is God working in your life and the life of your family this week? Let your family know. (This sounds like a great dinner conversation, by the way.)
  • God doesn’t need our anger. He doesn’t need us to make things work His way. He’s got it under control. In fact, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”  What does God want from us? He wants our faithful obedience…and that is challenging enough. Faithful obedience will bear witness to our families and our communities of God’s love. It will help build a loving community within our families and communities.
  • To practice a faithful obedience, we must learn to listen. Listening takes humility. Listening takes courage. Listening is an act of love and patience. I wonder what would happen if we all took even just one day a week and humbly silenced our need to be heard and listened instead, really listened to those around us? What would happen if we spent more time listening to our spouse then trying to justify our actions? What would happen if we spent more time listening to our children than in telling them what to do and lecturing them for their “mistakes”? Or, as the Tim implied, what might we accomplish if we listened intently to God and faithfully obeyed?
  • Finally, we are a tool…in the hand of God. We have a purpose. As we listen and faithfully obey, we become a tool under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully we will be as tenacious in that purpose as “Bowser the Rabbit Terror,” although I hope our purpose will be more lifegiving than the tenacious Bowser’s purpose was.

Family camp is more than just the formal times of worship and teaching though. It’s a wonderful time of fellowship and sharing. I especially love to see families engaged in activities with their children and other families. This year I was even allowed the opportunity to help build a dam with the teens and children present. I experienced the joy of following their direction as they constructed a stone dam, create a small, refreshing pool we could sit in and play. I thank them for allowing me to participate in this work with them.

All in all, we had a wonderful time of fellowship, fun, and learning. Thanks Terry and Jim putting it all together. Thanks for all who led in singing, prepared meals, served the food, cleaned, and gave devotions. Thanks for allowing us to enjoy the time together. Looking forward to another great one next year.

Another Successful Family Camp On The Books (2018)

Family can be an amazing, joyous celebration…sometimes. At other times family can produce a struggle. After all, family is made up of imperfect people. Still, God can use your family for amazing things. That’s Image may contain: one or more people, pool, swimming and outdoorone of the lessons from Family Camp at Camp Christian this year. Rich Aubrey taught us several things about family. For instance, he showed us how restores through family and blesses through family. He explained how God loves and blesses families, not just traditional nuclear families, but all families. If your family has experienced hardships or losses, don’t worry. God can reshape tragedy within families to create blessings when we turn toward one another and join with one another in facing the challenges of life. Those family blessings continue to grow when we learn to express our power in humble service and accept one another’s influence, to submit to one another in the reverence for Christ. This is all great advice for our families, advice that will strengthen our families. Thank you Rich and Sherri for sharing with us.

 

Great teaching is only part of the experience of Family Camp though. The children play. The adults talk. Whole families join together for activities and meals. Everyone shares. I especially enjoy seeing families in all stages and walks of life coming together to encourage and support one another. It’s a beautiful sight to see the expressions of love between family members and between families…to watch a father fishing with his son, a father teaching his daughter music, a couple walking hand in hand with their children gathered around them, parents offering loving correction and teaching …. These are beautiful sights. Perhaps the most touching moments come when families gather together to worship, to sing and learn about God’s plan for family. Even more amazing is when families actually practice what they learn–giving of themselves to their spouse and children; serving one another by getting a drink, clearing the dishes, or serving the food; or lifting up another family’s need to help them through a hard time. All in all, it gives me great hope.

 

If you have not experienced family at its best, I invite you to Family Camp next year. Terri and Jim Jones organize a wonderful weekend with plenty of free time for family fun and great teachers for encouraging words to strengthen families. They get better every year…so can’t wait to see you there next year!

“Thin Places” at Family Camp-2014

My family and I just returned home from Family Camp at Camp Christian. We go every year…and every year we enjoy great fellowship of other families, moving worship, and wonderful teaching. This year, Rob Grandi was the speaker. He spoke of family as the “most important place on earth.” In one of Rob’s messages, he spoke of “thin places,” places where heaven comes close to earth. He noted that the temple, with the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of familysunheartHolies, is a thin place…a place where God and heaven come close to earth. The manger where Jesus lay after His birth was a “thin place” where angels gathered near the earth to watch the Son of God become man. Family Camp seems a “thin place” to me. God draws near as we draw together to celebrate family and worship Him.  I agree with Rob that families, especially Christian families, are “thin places.” In Christian families, God and heaven come near to earth. God bridge the gap from heaven to earth in order to commune with our families, making our families a “thin place.” The more we, as parents, commune with God and draw near to Him, the closer heaven comes to our family…and the more our family becomes a little taste of heaven, a communion with God, a “thin place.” That is a beautiful image of what we desire our families to become and I plan to strive harder to narrow that “thin place” even more.

I am always impressed with the generations that gather together at the “thin place” of Family Camp. Couples who have already “launched” their children mingle with parents of newborns and everyone in between. I love to watch the interaction between generations.  Parents of young children learn they can survive (even thrive and enjoy) the time of active toddlerhood and busy teens as they hear grandparents describe the joys of watching their children start their own families.  Couples whose children have “left the roost” enjoy interaction with youth. Wisdom and energy is shared between the generations. I find great joy in seeing a young child feel comfortable enough to worship between a family member and an adult that is not biological family, to receive love and affection from both, to share conversation and fun with both. It reminds me that it really does take a village to raise a family…and our village is one big family, with God as our Father and Jesus as our Brother. Together, we draw near to God and one another. We encourage, build up, guide, and support one another through the joys and trials of life. (Sounds like a “thin place” doesn’t it?)  For that, I am most thankful.

Thanks to the Jones’s for another great weekend of Family Camp…and thanks to all who volunteered and all who attended to make is such a beautiful weekend. I’m already looking forward to next year at Family Camp!

3 Blessings From Family Camp-2013

This weekend we attended Family Camp at Camp Christian (click here for info on Camp Christian). Jim and Terri Jones (camp deans) organized another wonderful weekend of family time and learning. The speaker this year was Rob Grandi (for more about Rob, click here). He spoke to us about giving a blessing to our families and sang several songs of blessing as well. We had a wonderful weekend—the weather was good, the time was relaxing, the fellowship was awesome, and the teaching was excellent. Each year, I like to share a few things I learned at family camp; so, here are 3 blessings I received from Family Camp this year.

     1.   A new bridge is being constructed at the entry way to camp—the foundation of the old bridge was falling apart. Right now, the new supports are in and the foundation is up. However, the platform of the bridge is yet to be added. This weekend we learned about giving a blessing to our family—about valuing each family member enough to serve them and honoring them enough to verbally share how much we value them. That sounds like the foundation of a family, the supports that make it possible for a family to travel over the white waters of life and make it safely to the other side. Giving a blessing builds a stable foundation of intimacy and love. It supports a bridge that leads to a mature sense of personal value and acceptance. Even the bridge to camp told the lesson of a blessing!


2.   Children are one of our greatest blessings! We enjoyed the company of many children at camp this weekend…children of all ages. We even had a visit from the “world’s oldest camper” who is but a child at heart. We have now attended 11-years of family camp and had the joy of watching several children “grow up” into mature young adults. It is a beautiful blessing to see these young adults now passing on the tradition of blessing younger children with their attention, affection, and service. To those young adults who remain so active in the lives of all those attending family camp, thank you for your persistent faith; thank you for carrying forward the tradition of family camp; and thank you for sharing a tradition of loving family with the next generations. You have built a bridge over the gap of age to give us hope and confidence for the future.


3.   Our lives often come with pain and troubles. However, when those difficulties arise we have our church family. Each year, I come to better realize the importance of my church family. Our church family provides support through various difficulties and joins us in celebrating our successes and transitions. Our church family touches the lives of our children and helps them grow. As Family Camp so eloquently communicated this year, our church family blesses us in innumerable ways. So, if you find yourself in a “season of trial,” turn to your church family. Let your family support you and guide you through this difficult time. Realize there are those in our church family who have crossed the bridge over this troubled time before you. They can help you avoid some pitfalls along the way. Let them support the bridge as you cross it today…and hold you secure as you step onto the “other side.” Yes, our church family is a tremendous blessing.

 

We learned many more lessons at family camp, some we learned as a group and some we learned individually. If you attended family camp, you might want to share a lesson you learned in the comment section below. Thank Jim and Terri for putting together an incredible weekend. Thanks Rob Grandi for the inspiring music and lessons. Thanks to the band for a great worship time.  I hope more of you can join us next year!

What I Learned at Family Camp-2012

I just got home from a wonderful weekend at Camp Christian. Jim and Terri Jones organized a relaxing and inspiring weekend for the family. I enjoyed seeing old friends, making new friends, and getting the opportunity to speak about “The Wanted Family.” One of the joys of speaking is the insights and ideas other people share with me after the session. Since everyone did not get to hear these comments, I wanted to share a few with you.
 
In one session we talked about what we can say to our children and spouses when they leave for the day. Perhaps we could wonder out loud how God would reveal Himself to them during the day, or what opportunities God might provide for them to serve Him during the day. After the session, one person told me how they encouraged their child to think about the fruit of the spirit each morning. When their child asked about their external appearance—questions like, “How’s my hair?” “Do I look fat in this?” “Do I look OK—they would answer the questions but also add comments about the internal fruit of the spirit—questions like “How’s your attitude of gentleness today?” “How will you show kindness today?” “How’s your peace today?” Wonderful advice!
 
I received another great piece of advice after a session in which we talked about taking time each morning to prime the day for God. One man told me how he had learned to intentionally and purposefully “put on the full armor of God” each morning. Each morning, he would go through the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) and imagine putting it on for the day. He even challenged me to take the time to put on the full armor of God each morning for the next 21 days. A good challenge; I plan to take him up on that challenge…will you join me?
 
From another participant, I learned the joys of riding bikes as a family. I saw some families with children of all ages enjoying some family bike-riding. One particular mother told me of how much she enjoyed riding with her daughter. She noted how they could relax, get away from all the daily demands, and truly enjoy one another’s company. And, in the process of bike-riding, her daughter would open up and begin to talk to her about the joys and struggles of adolescence. What a tremendous opportunity to connect and grow together. Great insight!
 
I even learned from the younger children at camp. (Aren’t they the best teachers sometimes?!) This year, the children taught me that God lifts me up when I get down. Thanks, I needed to hear that message. And, because it was taught in song, I’ll remember it even longer. Thanks!
 
Finally, on a lighter note…we heard a wonderful “snoot flute” recital. Well, only one song, but it was really good. And how many people get the opportunity to hear a song played on a “snoot flute” by a real “snoot flute master?” If you ever get such an opportunity, I guarantee it will be a joyous moment you will never forget!
 
As you can see, we had a great time at Family Camp. We enjoyed time meeting with friends, playing games like carpet ball and 9-square, going to “Paradise” for a swim, and learning about God’s design for the family. I want to thank everyone who was there for all the support, encouragement, and fellowship. Look forward to next year!

Leading Children by Still Waters

Last summer, several families at Camp Christian walked to a nearby stream. The fast moving rapids of the stream had carved out and smoothed the surface of a natural slide that ended in a pool at the bottom of a small waterfall. You could sit at the top of the “slide” and allow the rapids to carry you downstream and over the waterfall into the pool. Everyone loved it. We had a great time “riding the miniature rapids” and being “dumped” over the waterfall into the deeper water. The young people (children and teens) loved riding the rapids and landing at the bottom of the falls. They slid down the rapids, ran back to the top, sat down and started over again…and again…and again. They loved the thrill. They did not want to stop, let alone leave and return to camp. If allowed, I think they would have continued playing in the rapids until they collapsed from exhaustion.
 
I had a great time, too. However, by the time we walked back to camp, I was exhausted…and ready to take a break. I would not want to play in the rapids all the time. I mean, they were fun to ride and fun to play in, but I like to lay back and relax, too. While we played in the rapids, I could not put my head back and relax. I could not stretch out on the surface of still waters and let the sun warmed my body. Instead, I had to stay alert to make sure everyone was safe, keep paddling so I did not get washed downstream, and vigilantly guard against smashing a toe (or head) against a rock. It was great fun, but not calm and relaxing.
 
Family life can be this way. We all have times of riding the rapids in our family life. We get swept away with busy schedules, activities, deadlines, and demands. Even our children find themselves caught up in the rapids of an overly busy schedule filled with sports, music, friends, church activities, work, chores, etc. Many times, our children do not even realize they are over scheduled. They are merely enjoying the thrill of the ride. They are excited to see their friends, play the game, hear the concert, and help at church…. In the midst of this busy schedule, we notice them becoming more irritable, restless, and even angry. As a result, a simple irritation suddenly sparks an angry outburst that ends in yelling, door slamming, and more frustration as we run to the next activity. Before long, our kids collapse from exhaustion; and, they have no idea why.
 
We, as parents, need to lead our children into some still waters. We need to help them find the balance between time in the rapids and time relaxing. Having the proper amount of rest and relaxation actually increases our level of energy. It enhances our immune system which can result in fewer illnesses. Rest and relaxation also increases our problem-solving ability and our ability to concentrate, translating into better school performance. Getting the proper amount of rest results in decreased stress and more balanced emotions. This, in turn, translates into fewer angry outbursts, less irritability, less depression, and more enjoyment. To obtain these benefits, our children need to have time away from the rapids and time resting in the still waters of life. Here are 4 ways to lead our children to still waters.
     1.      Model appropriate rest and relaxation in your own life. Children learn by watching your example. Balance your own schedule. Don’t overbook. Allow yourself time to relax. Let your children relax with you.

2.      Monitor your children’s schedule. Keep an eye on your children’s schedule and talk to them about scheduling. Take the time to discuss what adding “just one more thing” to a schedule actually means. Discuss how an activity impacts the whole family. Explain that a one hour activity means more than simply one hour of time–it also includes preparation time, practice time, travel time, and “down time” for other family members (like siblings) who might be there but are not involved as well as financial costs and the time needed to obtain that cost.

3.      Set healthy limits on the number of activities each family member is allowed to participate in at one time. Discuss this limit with your children. Explain the impact of overscheduling on you, them, and the family. Give them examples of times that overscheduling resulted in more stress, emotional turmoil, and maybe even illness. Explain the benefits of rest as well. Let them know it’s OK to rest and relax. Discuss what choices are available for activities and what each option involves. Finally, include your children in the final decision identifying which activities to participate in.

4.      Develop a philosophy of rest. Our society often   looks down on rest. Society belittles rest and calls those who relax lazy or unmotivated. In our culture, we believe that our worth is determined by activity and accomplishment. As parents who see the importance of rest and want to lead their children to still waters, we need to have a philosophy of rest. We need to be able to explain the benefits of rest in areas as diverse as creativity, problem-solving, energy management, building muscle, skill-enhancement, emotional management, improving relationships, overall health, and even sleep.

4 Things We Learned at Family Camp

My family and I had a great time during Family Camp at Camp Christian. This year, I had the opportunity to present about family life during family camp. I enjoyed preparing the lessons and presenting them during camp. I truly appreciate the support and encouragement everyone offered in response…thank you. It was a humbling and fun experience (the picture is me speaking on “Grace Begins”). Throughout the weekend, we explored ways to apply honor, grace, and celebration to our families…and I saw people practicing all weekend. It was wonderful. Here are a few things we learned:
    1.      Make deposits of honor into your Family Bank of Honor every day. Jim spoke to me to make a wonderful addition to the idea of Family Banking. He noted that while we can make daily deposits into our account, we can also invest acts of honor in our long-term savings accounts. Those investments of honor impact not only our immediate family, but our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. When we make regular deposits into the Family Bank of Honor we create an environment of honor that benefits generations to come…we change our family and leave our grandchildren’s children an inheritance of honor! What a great concept. Thanks Jim.

2.      We give grace to our family when we give them our time. Show grace to your family by “tarrying” with them. Jack and I were watching the younger children play in the creek with their parents. They were having a blast, especially when someone caught a frog. The children gathered around to look at the frog and then carefully carried it from parent to parent with the desire to share their treasure. Because their parents were there, giving the gracious gift of time, they were able to share that moment and the treasured frog. Jack noted how much children enjoy these simple acts of togetherness. They don’t need us to make an extravagant show to entertain them or spend big money for fancy toys. We don’t need to rush them from activity to activity so they remain involved. Our children simply need us to “tarry” with them…to give them the gracious gift of our time. We can “tarry” with them in the backyard, in a park, near a creek, or in the living room with a board game. In fact, I have watched children have more fun with a cardboard box than many an expensive toy…and I remember doing the same.  Thanks for sharing this with me, Jack. (This weekend, we even had fun putting a together a four-sided puzzle-see picture)

3.      Keeping a healthy family takes diligence. Bob shared that during a campfire talk one night. Just like keeping a garden, raising a family takes diligence. Satan is out to destroy the family. He sends pests, weeds, and animals to break the family apart. We need to diligently protect our family from those outside forces that threaten to pluck our children up before they are mature enough to protect themselves. We need to fertilize our family with plenty of honor and grace, encouragement and discipline to promote growth and intimacy. We remain vigilant to any signs that little unseen pests like disappointment, discouragement, or fear are eating away at any family member. And, we come to their aid with love, support, and encouragement. We also keep the weeds of over-busyness from growing in our garden, keeping the garden clear and open so our family can enjoy the nutrients found in the soil of a simple, loving family. What a wonderfully rich analogy, Bob. Thank you.

4.      We build our family through celebration. One of the things I love about Family Camp is the celebration…the times of worship celebration and the times of playful family celebration during free time. This year Greg led the worship with Cameron on guitar and Hanna on piano. They did a wonderful job…I could see the joy of worship in their faces. I really love to see the small children praising God with total abandon—singing, dancing, and enjoying the celebration of worship. It makes me smile and reminds of David dancing before God as he brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. Thank you for those times of worship and celebration. They draw us closer to God and to one another.
 
There are so many people and experiences that make Family Camp so much fun. I just wanted to mention these 4 simple things that added to what I learned about family this weekend at Family Camp. Thanks to each and every one of you. I pray your family was blessed through your experience at camp this year and will taste the fruit of this experience for weeks to come.