Summer is upon us and there are so many things grasping for our kids attention. If you're like me, I love to have my kids involved in different activities, whether it’s music camps, sports camps, cooking camps, the list goes on. But there is one camp that we never compromise on...and that's Church Camp!
I grew up as a “church camp” kid. The church we grew up in still runs their own camp and has been doing so for forty plus years now. It was instilled in us. It was just the expected thing that you did in the summer. The kids never questioned it and neither did the parents!
As a young girl, I couldn’t wait to see what friends would be at camp! It seemed like forever waiting on the week to come and we never wanted the week to end! As I became a teenager, the excitement went from what friends were coming, to the girls wondering if Boogie was bringing his entire baseball team! Yes, you read that right, Boogie is now my husband and we grew up going to church camp together! My intentions were not always the most spiritual when it came to camp, but the impact it made on my life cannot be measured!
You see, it started out pretty superficial, but my walk with the Lord was strengthened during that week of focusing in on God’s Word and being surrounded by others my age who wanted to go deeper with the Lord. The counselors (leaders) that poured everything into us are still impacting my life today!
Boogie’s parents and our dear friend Kevin led church camp when Boogie and I were attending. But when Boogie started in Student Ministry at our home church, the baton was passed to him. So I went from that little girl attending camp to helping my husband lead. We saw so many kids give their lives to Jesus and relationships were built between friends that would last a lifetime.
Maybe you have never considered sending your kid to church camp. Well you didn’t ask for it, but I am giving it...my opinion (in no particular order) on why kids should make church camp a priority!
"There’s something about childhood friends that can’t be replaced. " Lisa Whelchel
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12
If you can’t tell, I am pretty passionate about the investment that you can make in your kids life through church camp or any kind of Christian Camp. This year our daughter will be attending two camps with our church, but also a Chick-fil-A Christian camp called WinShape. We are excited for her to continue to learn more about the Lord, gain independence, and continue making memories with her friends.
I thought I would share some pictures (that I could get my hands on) of my time as a camper and a counselor. When asked about my childhood, these are the memories that stick out the most! I encourage you to find a camp for your kids to get involved in! It’s life changing and they will be begging to go back year after year! Please share any camp memories you have too!
Our annual cabin picture!
No such thing as cell phone pictures back then! I'm sure this was taken on a disposable camera!
Your kids may be blessed enough to have a lady like Starr as their counselor! Starr was my counselor every year and is one of my closest friends and mentors today!
I mean...check out her shirt!
Remember that Tube Mania game I mentioned? This was before we were covered in mud!
Being a camp counselor is just as much fun as being a camper!
One of my very favorite things to do is serve alongside my husband.
This is one of the many skits we did together.
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
Do any of your past mistakes still haunt you? I have a few that sure do. Do they play like a movie in your mind, making you cringe every time you remember?
Some of the things that get stuck on repeat in my mind are bad mommy moments, like disciplining out of anger rather than lovingly redirecting, or yelling instead of calmly explaining. Disrespectful things I have said to a friend out of frustration or disagreement. Having a loud and pushy opinion with my husband instead of a gentle and quiet spirit. Times I should have spoken up for the things of God and instead I sat quietly. And, I’m sure we all have things I won’t even mention, because we don’t share those with anyone!
The worst is thinking back to something you’ve done, that there is no way to make right. Maybe you have sexual sin in your past that can’t be undone. The feeling of regret with the kind of parent or spouse you were. Someone you didn’t share Jesus with when you had the chance. These can be heavy, weighty burdens to carry. Especially when the consequences of these decisions are still present.
1 John 1:9 is true when it says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” But many times, after I’ve confessed my sin, it comes back to my mind. I still feel the guilt and shame of the pain I have caused or the mess I have made with my choices.
So how can we live in victory and freedom over mistakes that still haunt us?
Moving Beyond Past Regret~
1. Since we do believe 1 John 1:9 (above) let’s start there by asking God for His forgiveness. Read Psalm 51 to see what true repentance looks like. David wrote this after he had committed adultery and then had the woman’s husband killed. He had sinned, and he couldn’t go back and fix it. When the Lord helped David see his sin, David was devastated. He was truly repentant with everything he had.
2. Choose to believe God, when He tells you, that you are forgiven. Psalm 103:8-12 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Praise God!
3. Is there someone you need to ask for forgiveness? As mentioned in the above scenarios, I can’t count the number of times I have had to go to my children and tell them that I was wrong for the way I responded to them, for raising my voice, for being unfair, for being selfish and ask them to forgive me. At first I was embarrassed that I was having to apologize to them. Me, the mom, the one who was supposed to be teaching them. But along the way, I realized in doing this, I was teaching them that I wasn’t perfect and didn’t expect them to be. And teaching them that when they are wrong, to admit it and repent. I’ve had to go back to friends many times, and apologize for sharing gossip or for unkind words I said to them. The Lord has also led me to reach back out to old friends that I didn’t share Him with, and tell them the Good News of the Gospel.
4. Forgive yourself! This may take some time because Satan is good at throwing mistakes back in your face. You may have to do this more than once. Anytime it comes back to your mind, remind yourself that God has already forgiven you and choose to forgive yourself again.
5. Give yourself permission to start new. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning!”
Do you wish you would have been a different kind of parent? Even if your child is grown, start now by making amends. Choose to be a godly grandparent. Find a way to serve the Lord at your church. He has uniquely gifted you to serve Him. Don’t let shame keep you from it!
Do you have sexual sin that you regret? Maybe sex outside of marriage or even an affair in your marriage. If you haven’t already, stop now! When we confess to God, He purifies us. Let Him cleanse you of this sin. If an affair is involved, seek a wise counselor to walk you through steps to restoration.
Colossians 1 tells us that “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation- if you continue in your faith, established and firm and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”
Friends, Satan wants nothing more that to disqualify you from serving God, sharing Jesus, and living in victory by using your past against you. God wants to restore you to Himself and use your life to bring glory to Himself!
Seek help if you can’t get to this place on your own. But don’t let the devil have victory in your life!!!
School's out for summer!! That means lazy days are here! What are your plans? What summertime activities are filling up your calendar pages? What's on your summer bucket list? Share with us and give us ideas!
Intentional Attention - Audra's pick
We are a go, go, go kind of family! Our summers are especially packed with mission trips, camps, visits to see family... All of these are GREAT things to do, and we plan to do them again this summer. However, along the way, in our downtime, I plan to put my phone down and be intentional with conversation, playing, cuddling...memory making! My kids are getting older and don’t NEED my help as much, but they still THRIVE from my attention.
Short Family Trips - Laura's pick
We normally plan one family vacation during the summer months to the beach, but this year we are changing it up a bit! Now that our kids are getting a little older, we want them to experience new places! So this summer is filled with baseball games, amusement parks and a little history!
Operation "Fun" Mom - Rebecca's pick
Since I'm not known for being a "fun" mom, I'm embracing this summer as an opportunity to kick Operation "Fun" Mom into effect. At least once a day, I'm going to do something fun with my kids. This means that I'll actually swim with them some instead of laying out with a good book. This also means that board games, puzzles, popsicle making, trampoline bouncing...whatever "fun" looks like...will fill our daily agendas. They are going to be like, "Whoa! What's happened to mom?" Ha!
Also, tying into this, I want to focus on each person's love language and express love to them in the way that they receive it best at least once per day (my husband included).
The Power of Three - Tammy's pick
Summers are full of 3's for us. 3 fun adventures, 3 new books, 3 new learning opportunities, and 3 new recipes. The adventures and recipes are easy as each of my 3 children chooses one thing and then puts it on the calendar. The 3 books and 3 learning opportunities are up to them and rewarded upon completion. Learning opportunities include anything of interest to them, such as learning how to solve the Rubik's cube, to how to clean a boat engine, to observing Physical Therapists at work.
I've had many high and lofty goals in my 17 years of parenting. The power of 3 is doable and sustainable for me. I can't wait to see how this summer intentionally unfolds filled with fun and meaningful memories all because of the power of 3.
Exercising with the Kids - Melissa's pick
My thirteen year old and I have made it a goal to run in the mornings this summer. When my ten year old heard about it, he decided he wanted to challenge himself, too. We aren't runners, but I'm looking forward to spending the time with the kids, and hopefully we will establish a habit that we all enjoy!
Maybe we didn’t sing the birthday song with quite as much enthusiasm as we had on other occasions, but we did sing it. Because by golly, it doesn't matter how you feel. It doesn’t matter if your work is hard or your relationship is suffering, or your kid is terrible, or if you have a migraine; in my family, we are going to sing the song.
There will be cake and a candle and the song. And not just the normal birthday song. This is a special, cajun, toe-tapping version that requires clapping and some charismatic emphasis as you spell it out H A P - P Y B- IRTHDAY. It took real effort to sing the song that day.
We sat in the living room where, for decades, we opened gifts with Granny and Papaw. Matt was sitting in Papaw’s place, and I thought how odd he looked sitting next to the fireplace where Papaw should be - close to the fire so he could stoke it and worry it to death.
My mother was now one of the older women in the room with greasy, loud boys leaning on her and playing at her feet. She looked much too young to be the grandmother.
The vaulted ceilings and wood floors multiplied our incessant talking, laughing and teasing and tossed the sound across the room. There were presents, of course. And, the song. The song that I didn't feel like singing, but I did. I was having a bad day but I knew I had to sing the song.
And in that moment looking at my boys sing the silly song, along with the adults who had taught them the silly song, I thought about heaven. We were just practicing. This was just another dress rehearsal. We were practicing the wrong song, but then again we haven’t heard the music of heaven.
We were practicing being together and eating good food and singing and loving. And the lasagna was made with zucchini because we were trying to be healthy and the chocolate cake ended up falling apart, but we had food because we were celebrating.
And we loved each other even though the kids were too loud and we didn't always agree. And we were reliving decades of singing and celebrating another year of life together, in my grandparents house where we now lived. They were gone now, but we were still singing. We were practicing for the real thing and the practicing was an important part of making it here on earth.
And my bad day felt less bad. One day there would be 10,000 years since we last stood there with the falling apart chocolate cake singing the silly song, missing the ones who had already left and we would be singing a new song and we would be together. More importantly, we would be with the One our hearts long for.
We keep practicing, because in the practicing there is an ache and longing that gets comforted. It never really goes away. It won’t go away. Because when we celebrate here its only a taste of the celebration that will never end.
Maybe it’s an overly analytical way to view birthday parties, but on my worst day I’m thankful for the hints of glory. The light that pierces through the clouds. The moments that remind me this isn't all there is.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Ginger Williams is the managing editor of the Jackson Business Journal. She has pursued a career in journalism, marketing and sales, after several years as a homeschool mom. Ginger attended Boyce College where she received her bachelor of arts in biblical studies. She lives in Jackson Tennessee with her husband Matt and sons, Blake and Ethan.
Glorious…hard…rewarding…exhausting! The list of adjectives is endless when I think of this adventure called parenting. But mostly, awe rises to the top of my list. I am in awe of the 180 switch the Lord birthed in my mothering. Gone are the days of joyless parenting. In it's place, joy has watered the desert places and created something beautiful - a joy-filled mother. Only God can do that!
As I pondered my transformation, a "tricks of the trade" list began to emerge. There is no rhyme or reason to the order, just tricks that have made this mommying job a whole lot more enjoyable.
1. Playing in my Strengths
It's easy to fall into the comparison game when it comes to talented moms: this one is athletic, this one is artsy, this one can spin a tale, etc. etc. etc. Early on, I learned that I enjoyed motherhood best when I stop trying to be like other moms and embrace my own uniqueness. I love books and games and the great outdoors. So that's the way I'm intentional with my kiddos. When we have downtime, we pull out a game or a puzzle or walk/bike/hike in the great outdoors. Gone is the guilt that I don't play dolls or trucks or ball like other mommies. In its place, contentment has filled my heart knowing that I mommy well just by playing in my strengths.
2. Have Favorites
My “Terrific Three” consist of a girl, a boy, and another girl. Just like God does not have favorites (Romans 2:11), I strive not to either (1 Timothy 5:21). I've assigned labels to my Terrific Three and regularly call them by it. I have a "favorite oldest girl," "a favorite boy," and "a favorite youngest girl." They’re all my favorites in their unique way and don’t need to fight for my favor.
When our kiddos hit the tween years, we knew we needed to keep the airwaves open. We happened to be eating Oreo McFlurries when one of them shared something close to their heart. Born was the code phrase "Oreo McFlurry" for times when our children wanted to share something with us but were fearful of our response or the impending consequence. Now when they approach us and say, “Oreo McFlurry.” we prayerfully brace ourselves (ha) for what they're about to say while calmly listening without.saying.a.word. It’s a safe-zone, and they honestly haven’t abused it.
4. Apologize with No Strings Attached
It is easy to excuse my angry response by pointing to my child's wrong action which prompted my anger. This causes my apology to fall on un-listening ears, especially the older they have become. Instead, I have taught myself to focus on what I did wrong and ask for forgiveness. Not only does this show them that parents can make mistakes, but that it's important to apologize for them!
5. Calm in the Storm
If child A was "on my good side" but child B was not and had gotten into trouble, I caught myself disciplining them differently. I would irrationally lash out or be harsh and impatient with the not "on my good side" child B. I began to purposely visualize how I would lovingly discipline child A if they were the one who had just gotten into trouble. Then, I would pray that the Spirit would help me disciple child B with the same gentle heart. This practice alone was revolutionary for my parenting!
6. Laugh at Yourself
Last summer, we had just finished floating a local river, and I wanted to get one more group picture. As I was gesturing for the group to move over, I was side-stepping on the rocky beach. My toe caught under a rock causing me to trip and in s. l. o. w. motion I splatted on the rocks in full view of everyone! Quite embarrassing and painful! But as I collected myself, I just laughed and laughed at the spectacle I made. This released the group to laugh with me and recount my performance. I could’ve been mad and nursed my pride and ruined a glorious day together. Instead, I chose to laugh and make a fabulously funny family memory.
7. Text and Drive
If I “need” to message someone while I’m driving, I ask my kiddos to serve as my scribe. I dictate my message to them as they type it into my phone. They then read it to me before pushing send. This trick serves three purposes:
1. I’m safe and not looking at my phone as I drive.
2. It teaches them how to communicate effectively and (hopefully) kindly via text messaging.
3. It serves as an example of when they’re -gulp!- driving on their own.
8. From Darkness to Light
One of the hardest prayers I pray for my children is that any sin they are hiding would come to light. It’s quite breath-taking what the Spirit reveals, and they’re always like, “What!? How did you know?!” ha, ha! But I much rather deal with childish heart issues while they’re under my roof than them having to wade through their childhood junk as an adult.
9. Momma Timeout
If I feel my mommy tank quickly depleting itself of joy, I take a momma timeout. I may take a hot bath, take a walk outside, or sit in my room by myself praying and calming down. This trick allows me to rejuvenate and relieves my kiddos from being the recipients of my less than lovely attitude.
10. Bedtime Bonding
Most nights, I choose to sit on each child’s bed and connect. It can be as short as 5 minutes finding out about their favorite thing of the day, or it can stretch into a lengthy discussion about a life issue they're working thru in their heart and mind. We then end our time with prayer and a kiss on the cheek. Hopefully, they are left going to sleep with a heart a little lighter because I chose to invest the gift of time into them. It is always worth the time and effort to give up a bit of "me time" at the end of my day to get a little more of them.
Looking over this list just fills my heart with awe. God has truly filled and continues to fill my parenting gaps. But that shouldn’t surprise me, for He parents me so well as my Heavenly Father, the giver of every good thing. James 1:17
How about you? What are some of your favorite parenting tricks of the trade? Or perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed in this great adventure of parenting. Pray Matthew 7:7 and purpose to implement one or two of my tricks. Trust me, if I can do this mommying thing joyfully anyone can! Through Christ’s power, you can mommy joyfully as well! Philippians 4:13, my friend!
I will begin by admitting, I struggle with this. I’ve had to make some changes from time to time on what I post as well as what I read.
At times I just want to shut it all down, and take it away from my kids, too. Honestly, there are probably appropriate times for doing just that! But, what if we can take steps to use social media for good instead of letting the evil rule over it. Below are some things to think through when we go online.
Let’s begin by asking ourselves two simple questions:
*What am I posting?
*What am I looking at?
First, What am I posting?
1. Does everything I post line up with what I claim to believe?
Does my language reflect a follower of Christ?
Are the subject topics that I choose to share pointing others to The Lord?
Do I use social media to bash others, get revenge or vent in an unloving way? It’s so sad to see Christians using their platform in this way. Especially when the people they are bashing are fellow believers.
Matthew 18:15-17 - Gives us the formula for handling problems with each other. The world is already against us. We are called to be unified in love.
Colossians 3:12-17 - We are supposed to look different, act different, love different.
2. Take it one step further. Am I using social media to share my faith in Jesus?
We’ve all been entrusted with a voice, a social media presence. Is your voice sharing the good news of the Gospel? Is it telling your listeners what God has done in your life?
3. How will others receive what your are posting?
There is no way to know what all is going on in the lives of every person reading your words. However, when we post, we can be mindful that everyone isn’t seeing things through the same lens that we do. They haven’t lived the same life, they don’t have the same convictions, they are walking a completely different road then I am. Of course you should be proud of your children, your husband, your job… Enjoy your vacations, your new car, your get togethers with friends. Just be careful not to use social media to rub others' faces in your success.
I’ve seen it over and over with teenage girls. They have a get together, leave a couple girls out, and then post all over social media about it. And guess what else I’ve learned? Grown women are no better! They do the same things! And no matter how old you get, it still hurts to be left out!
*If you are one who gets offended, hurt, discouraged… by what you see on social media, read on for suggestions on how to overcome this!
Next, What am I looking at?
You may follow all of these suggestions above, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else will. You only have control over what you post. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves, what am I looking at?
Does what you are looking at encourage you?
How do you feel after scrolling your newsfeed? Are you angry, discontent with your life, jealous, offended…? Or, is what you’re reading helping build your faith, giving you hope for your life, uplifting and motivating?
Some suggestions for how to overcome the evil of social media:
1. Hide “friends” who's posts make you feel any of the negatives mentioned above. You don’t have to unfriend someone to stop seeing their posts. They won’t see that you’ve hidden them from your feed. And, you can go to their page to catch up anytime.
2. If you have a smartphone, move your social media apps to the very last page. I did this months ago when I continually found myself thoughtlessly clicking, scrolling, and when it came down to it, wasting time that I could have been doing something productive. Now that these apps are at the back of my phone, I only go to them and click on them when I have a purpose for going there, or, I have extra time to sit and scroll.
3. Take a fast from social media! This may seem extreme, but it can really be freeing to take a break for a day, a week or maybe even a month. Try it out to see how much you might be missing out on in the real world. If any part of your online life is bogging you down, this may be for you.
There are so many negatives to this Social Media driven world that we are living in. But, if we are intentional, we can use it for good!
How are you using your online voice for good? What is the most negative part about social media for you personally?
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
Nearly every woman who loves a good love story woke up super early this morning to witness the royal wedding. It was mesmerizing...everything you expect royalty to look like. But, even better than the dazzling display was the power of the message!! From start to finish, Jesus Christ was high and lifted up! Millions upon millions heard the Gospel today! Hallelujah!
To honor Harry and Meghan’s focus on Christ, we decided to do today's Top 5 a little differently. We chose our favorite quotes that were spoken over them and had our readers vote for their favorite on Facebook and Instagram. The photos are listed in order of the votes!