I've recovered from my weekend of babysitting the two kiddos, and I'm prepared to exchange it for babysitting three kiddos this whole week while their mama and some older siblings head off to teen summer camp. (Side note: little kiddo # 2 only got up 4 times on Friday evening... not too bad considering she gets up for her parents all the time... that was said with a touch of sarcasm:D)
Now I absolutely love camp. It doesn't matter what it is: summer, winter, singles retreat. Whatever it is, I love camp. There's something exciting about packing up your luggage, knowing you'll probably forget one or two things and realize they're not that important; claiming the *best bunk* in the cabin; girls laughing as a funny joke or story is told; shrieks as cold water is poured on an unsuspecting girl in the shower (happened to me at singles camp:D); a packed dining hall with really good camp food; walking up to the chapel to hear some excellent preaching by a man of God committed to seeing young people serve the Lord; watching the teens play crazy, silly, embarassing games and whisper a prayer of thanks that Bros. R and J didn't think up that game until after you left the youth group; one-on-one time with a girl you have invested so much time in, and you see her talk about spiritual things; loading up the bus and hearing 75 voices praising the Lord for several hours on the way home. Yup. I love camp.
I guess it's because I never went to camp when I was younger (Read: until 14). I have 6 older siblings, and 4 of them got to go to either scout camp or some Christian camp in VA every summer while I got to be the one who drove the ______ hours and was the only kid left in the car as we drove the ______ hours back home. There was always a flurry of anticipation for the camper(s) as he/she packed their bags, looking forward to swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, crafts, games, fires at night, and whatever else happened at camp. The whole week long, I would think about them away at camp and say to myself, "They are so lucky!" So I truly am using the word "never" correctly!
God does have a sense of humor, though. I started going to camp in January 1998 when I was a freshman, and haven't stopped since, although now I go as a counselor/kitchen help/extra adult to have around. Whereas all of the siblings mentioned above haven't gone back to camp! PLUS an extra benefit is that I've been able to take 3 foreign missions trips while the rest have never been outside of the US and Canada! Missions trips are like camp, only better! So I just laugh now when I talk to my sister on the phone and say, "Oh, don't call me next week... I'm gonna be at camp!" She usually replies, "You're so lucky!" Hmmm... patience has paid off!!!!!
At this point, some of you may be wondering something. If I love camp so much, then why in the world am I not going? Hmm. Good question. Hopefully I can answer it.
My church holds winter camp every year in January. It is *the* January event that most everyone gets caught up in. I went to camp as usual: as one of the kitchen cooks. (Side note: never underestimate the effectiveness of your influence. Because I work at the Christian school with a lot of the teens, they feel comfortable talking to me, even as kitchen cook at winter camp). As I watched the teens come and go at camp, I noticed a lack of parents there. There were some, but a lot of the counselors are just like me: in the 20s, hating the fact they can't go to camp because they're not a teen any more, and loving every minute of camp. So they come back as counselors:D
It was only the Lord that had this thought pop into my head: volunteer to babysit for a lady who has 9 kids so that she could go to camp with her 4 teenagers. The oldest two already graduated and have jobs and then there are three younger ones (4, 7, 10). When I got back from camp and mentioned it to Mrs. R., she just about jumped up and down with excitement. "Really??!?!?!?!?!? You would do that so I could go to to summer camp?" Again, it was only the Lord that prompted me to say "yes". In my heart, I want to go. But this lady needs to go this year for some reason.
Then this morning as the service was closing, my Pastor said, "Parents, feel free to come down to camp anytime this week. If your teen doesn't want you to go, then you need to go." Pop. There came another thought. I know of another family who is sending their daughter to camp.
This mom loves camp.
This mom wants to be with her daughter.
This mom lives close to Mrs. R.
This mom has two other children.
This mom needs to go.
So after asking Mrs. R. if she would mind me watching two more kids (the answer was "sure you can!"), I went to find this mom. "K." I began. "You know how Pastor said _____________ this morning? I think you need to go to camp. I would be willing to watch T and T and you can even take my car to camp". (Camp is several hours away.) K replied, "That was exactly what I thought of, for the Lord put it on my heart. Let me just check with my husband to make sure he's ok with it."
So this is the week to watch three kiddos, with an additional two kiddos on Wednesday and Thursday.
This week I see: Babyish hugs and kisses. Lots of kiddos running. Pool time in the backyard. Dirty hands and smiling faces. Mud in the house. Bright-eyed kiddos ready to have an adventure every day. An email with an update from camp. Tears as prayers are offered for those who are at camp.
This week I hear: "Miss Anne? Miss Anne? Miss Anne? Miss Anne? Miss Anne? Miss Anne?" "Not-uh!!!!!" "Can I have...?" "Pllllleeeasee?" Laughter. Giggles. Water splashing. Hysterical shouts of joy in the nighttime air. Little ones snuggling down to get re-energized for the next day. A yawn.
I don't always know why God changes the directions I want to take. But you know what? It doesn't matter. For He is God, and He knows all things. When I see things from my perspective, I miss the entire picture. But when I look at it from God's perspective, I smile and relax.
He sees it all.
He knows I love camp, but I need to be here this week.
He's got a purpose that I can't even begin to imagine, but I know it's going to be good!
If you think of it, pray for summer camp this week. Churchs from PA, MD, and OH will converge on a little campground in western PA for a week of fellowship, food, fun, and, most important of all, God to work mightily.