BE RENEWED, A Refreshing Getaway at the 3CA Conference

What is the 3CA, you ask? 3CA stands for the Christian Camp and Conference Association.  The CCCA exists to help Christian camps accomplish their mission.  They do many things toward that end, but a big one is that each region has an annual conference which gives camp professionals an opportunity to “unplug” a little, network with other camps, observe trends, attend workshops where they can learn from each other, worship together while receiving encouragement from God’s Word, and don’t forget– the opportunity to eat lots of food they don’t have to cook. It’s a showcase for ALL the food service companies to show off their best offerings. 😉 (If you’re looking for a job in Christian Camping, you can check out the CCCA’s job boards).

IMG_20180206_183926573

{Lake Geneva Christian Center’s new dining hall is beautiful!  This is their serving area… 4 lines at two stations and a double drink station on the end.  About 260 camp professionals packed this area out at every meal.}

Our section is called the Minn-E-Dakotas Section because it includes the camps in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

IMG_20180206_183917650

{This picture only shows about half the dining hall.  There are windows all around, a fireplace on one end, and the serving lines are to my right.  Good to see these camps mingling, resting, and enjoying fellowship.}

Years ago, I attended the sectional with my husband every year, but after baby number three I just found it easier to stay home and take care of the family. This is the first year in probably a decade that I’ve been able to come and stay overnight for the whole conference. I have been loving it!

Conference theme

My favorite times have been the general sessions, when we have listened to a speaker teach from the word of God and enjoy a time of worship with awesome music. I know that music is not everyone’s worship language, but it is very refilling to my spirit.

IMG_20180206_190841452

The speaker has been Kirsten King, the Director of Youth and Family Discipleship at Maplewood Evangelical Free Church here in Minnesota. She really has a knack for striking her audience’s funny bone, but then she balances that with a message packed with truth.  If you’re looking to book a speaker for a women’s retreat or conference, she has my reference!

There are some retreats you don’t learn something new or deeply meaningful, and that’s okay because Retreats like that can be God’s way of affirming something He’s already been teaching you, or perhaps the get-away is an opportunity  for you to reach out and bless someone else at the retreat.

This conference has been a little different for me.  I’ve been laughing and crying (in a good way) a lot. There have been many reunions. I was SO excited to find a couple sessions addressing women’s ministry, because this is my heartbeat–this is the passion God has given me.  The worship time has been amazing. And the messages have each included some nugget that spoke to my heart.

IMG_20180206_194737382

After dinner Tuesday night, we enjoyed a wonderful drama  called, “The Psalm King” by Theater For The Thirsty created by Jeremiah and Vanessa Gamble.  Jeremiah is a product of growing up in a camp ministry family. 😉  I you live in Minnesota, I hear they do a fabulous show in St. Paul during February called, ‘Til Death: A Marriage Musical.  You can check it out!

It was a good 3 days at the 3CA, but I am glad to be home with our children.  My heart is full and still processing, but I definitely want to share what I learned after it sinks in…and I catch up on hugging my kids.

More Power in Prayer; Prerequisite #1 for Effective Prayer

Information on the small give-away I am doing in conjuction with this post is available toward the end (in bold print).  

Did you know that while God always hears our prayers, there are things we may be doing or not doing that influence how attentive He is to our prayers?

Psalm 66:18 says,

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

In Evelyn Christenson’s book, “What Happens When Women Pray,” she shares about how her small prayer group began intercessory prayer one January, and it was April before they began seeing answers.

Then, they took Psalm 66:18 to heart.  Not wanting anything to hinder their prayers, they began their weekly meeting by asking God to reveal any sin for which they needed to repent.  One by one, God began bringing sins to their mind.  The first meeting they did this, they spent the whole meeting in individual prayer of repentance, and the meeting after that, and for several more meetings.  It took 6 weeks of repentance before they were released to pray for others.

Suddenly, they found that the answers didn’t take so long; not long at all.

More Power in Prayer, Prerequisite 1

One of the “big” things that damages our relationship with God, and hinders us from receiving answers we long for, is the matter of known un-confessed sin.

We all sin every day.  There are many times we are not aware, and those are not the sins to which I am referring.  If we all knew every sin we committed, we may be too overcome with sorrow.  The Holy Spirit knows this, and God is gracious to tackle our issues as He sees fit.

No, it’s the sneaky sin we know is wrong and allow ourselves to fall into anyway.  Or even the accidental sin that we recognize and find easier to ignore.  Perhaps it is a sin we enjoy and don’t want to give up.

Whether or not anyone else knows what we’ve done, whether or not anyone else is harmed, God knows, and our sins come between us and Him.

If you’ve never called on the name of the Lord to be saved, please be assured that nothing could ever prevent God from hearing you call.  It is His heart’s desire to remove your sin from you (as far as the east is from the west) if you will only repent and confess your sin, trusting Jesus to be your Savior.  He died in your place.  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9,10  

Once you are saved into a right relationship with God, he hears your intercessory prayers.  However, those intentional, or tolerated sins come between us and Him.

Lets be honest.  I love my kids, and I always take care of their needs, but if they are intentionally disobeying, exhibiting a poor attitude, leaving responsibilities undone, and the like. . . and then they come to me, asking for favors or special privileges that are not needs, I hear them, but am I likely to desire to give them what they’re asking for?  Uh, no.  I might shut them down mid-sentence.  Fix your attitude.  Apologize.  Go do the thing you were supposed to do.  Show me you are trustworthy.  THEN, we’ll talk.

It’s the same with us and with God.  He cares more about teaching us to have holy hearts, which will give us joy forever, than He cares for making us happy in the moment.

It takes humility, to be sure.   Pride is one sin that will spiral into all others, but. . .

Isn’t intimacy with our God what we should desire to pursue?

Ask God to reveal to your heart any sin that is coming between you and Him.  Ask Him what He wants you to repent of.  He is SO faithful.  One at a time, he will bring all to mind.

No known un-confessed sins.  It’s the first prerequisite for an effective, powerful prayer life. Lay it all out there.  “God, I confess that I ________.  I repent of this sin, and renounce it.  Please forgive me, and enable me to __________ (whatever it is that you need to do to live holy for HIM).  If you are a child of God, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives within you.  That’s power. . . certainly enough power to enable you to conquer whatever sin issue you have been dealing with.  Praise God, He is faithful and just, when we confess our sin, to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3

Seeing prayers answered doesn’t mean that God gives us everything we ask for.  He gives us those things that compliment His plans, those things that He knows are good (and not bad) for us.  Sometimes His answer is “wait”.  We have to trust His timing is perfect.  He is for us, and as we learn more how to pray (because there are more prerequisites for effective prayer), we will see more and more answers.  It is so awesome to have the privilege.

Revive our Hearts sells a book mark which complements Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book, “Brokenness: The Heart God Revives.” (a wonderful book)  Front and back, the book mark lists characteristics of prideful people verses broken, or humble people.  Our ladies group found the list to be useful to pray over, as God can use it to point out areas of sin.  Confession is so healing.  I have 5 of these book marks to give away.  If you would like one, please tell me so in the comments.  The first 5 commenters to ask, will receive!  😉

If there are any Pointway Church ladies who have not received a copy, and would like to, please let me know via facebook or text and I will get one to you.

IMG_20180128_164721233

 

 

Treasuring These Days, & Our New Family Photo

Hello friend!

Family photos are great.  You never know what you are going to get back, and there are always these little tell tales that speak so loudly about this season in life, frozen in time.  🙂  Many thanks to Angela out at Camp Jim for taking our family staff photos and sending me this copy.  She did such a good job, and was patient with us!  I know she snapped quite a few in order to get one good one.  Camp has been busy (thankfully!) so the editing took time to get around to.

family pic, oct2017 less pixels

We posed for this in October, so it was cold.  I tend to feel the cold a little more than most, so I was grateful for the small, warm body on my lap.  😉

It was VERY windy.  So, even more cold!  But the hair… oh, it was blowing everywhere.  I was sure that we’d get pictures back and everyone’s hair would be air born, and I was glad the boys still had their hair buzzed.  Aren’t they cute?

Doesn’t my little lap warmer look like she’s just tolerating all this picture stuff?  Yeah, she was trying to lean over and play musical laps.  See the hands?  I am literally hand-cuffing her to keep her still!

The photo was taken in the back yard of the Retreat Center.  I just love the blowing leaves and warm colors of fall.  I think it’s one of my favorite family pictures, and it captures the essence of who we are (for a little while anyway).  We’ve already replaced a pair of glasses, and outgrown shoes.  In another couple months we’ll be surprised by how much the little ones have grown.  And then there’s my Angel Girl, all grown up.  Who knows how many more seasons she will be at home.  I am reminded of Mary the mother of Jesus, who scripture said, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart,” and I am thankful for every day.

Time marches on, but God’s grace is ever present.  May you feel His presence this week, and treasure your own blessings, as you prepare to celebrate the Christ child.

~Linda

 

 

 

My Summer Fitness Challenge Results

I owe you an update on my Summer Fitness Challenge.  I am so aware.

I updated you on the first 30 days HERE.

If you remember, I wanted to get back in shape, close the gap in my stomach muscles, and I set a fun goal of getting back into my wedding dress by my wedding anniversary (August 31st).

July:  I had hoped to “knock the socks” off my husband at a wedding mid-July, and I think that mission was a success.  🙂

Willy's wedding together

I lost an additional 2 pounds (a record low for me) and began transitioning down to a pant size 5–something I never dreamed of being able to do.  I was targeting the belly, but the butt was being more cooperative.

August: I tried my wedding dress on mid-August.  It wasn’t quite as loose in the waist as I would have liked, but comparing to wedding pictures, I guess maybe it wasn’t as loose back then either.  The fit was pretty close, but I didn’t take pictures because I still had 2 weeks until our anniversary and my goal date.

HOWEVER, when our anniversary rolled around, I was pretty sure that the dress wasn’t going to fit all that well for another long spell. I had to wait a few more days to make sure…

And then, Semptember:

It’s amazing how 2 little pink lines on a pregnancy test can suddenly and completely change your perspective and rearrange your goals.

It’s totally NOT funny how after having a few babies it really doesn’t matter how much you exercise; that baby pouch remembers the pooch position right away.  I didn’t take a picture in the dress.

I did take a step back, and started praying and researching to determine how to maintain a Keto diet while accommodating my body and a precious baby’s needs during pregnancy.  There is virtually no information available on it, but I did develop a plan.

And yet, life doesn’t always go the way we expect…

One minute I was wondering who this new little life is, and the next I knew that I would never know this baby… not in this life.  Just a couple days before my birthday, I began to miscarry.

I know from the book of James that nothing passes into my life without first passing through God’s hands.  I don’t understand this loss; it hurts my heart.  BUT,  I know that I know that I KNOW that God is GOOD and that He NEVER makes a mistake.  There is always a purpose.  I don’t have to understand.  I need to trust.

October:  I’ve still been pretty tired.  I suspect my iron has been low, and so my energy is recovering as I work with my diet to provide the needed nutrients.  I also need time for my heart to heal, and that will help too.  So right now I am sticking with Keto, I have been exercising how and when I feel able while listening when my body says it’s too tired.  This too shall pass.

Progress:  As far as my goal to close the gap in my stomach muscles, the gap has closed by 50%. This is good!  🙂

And getting in shape? I have muscle tone again!  This makes me happy.

The wedding dress?  Well, I’ll try it on again soon.

I am researching gut healing, and reading Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book on the “GAPS” diet.  There seems to be more than one helpful approach and I’d like to find one that meets the unique needs of our family.  I’ve realized that some of the belly I’ve been trying to shed is not fat, but bloat, and some of our older “kids” are interested in doing a gut healing protocol.  We’re taking baby steps toward that goal; last week we picked up some grass fed beef from a local-ish rancher.

In a Nutshell:  No fun goal on the horizon, but only seeking to honor my commitment to God to care for my body, His temple, in all of this.

Did you set a goal for yourself over the summer?  I’d love to hear about your progress.

 

 

 

 

The Best Thing We Gained at the Fair

Have you ever noticed how kids have a very accurate internal clock, like, from the get go?

We took our oldest to the county fair when she was about three and the next summer, days before the fair was going to start, she started asking me about that place with lights and food and rides? We definitely went to the fair again that year,

and the next,

and every year.  🙂

Nowadays the fair falls the weekend after youth camps end so it’s easy for all of us to anticipate.  It’s a tradition.

When our oldest kids were little, and there were just a handful of them (instead of 2 hands-full) we would buy a sheet of tickets and let them ride a few kiddie rides.  As they got older, the more mature rides cost more.  With more children, one sheet didn’t provide enough tickets to go around.  We learned to be content walking through all the exhibits, petting the animals and having a treat.  My husband loves the malted milk shakes… it’s once a year. 😉

{Farm to Table Children’s Exhibit}

 

Fair 2017- 03

{Miss our goats this year!}

Fair 2017- 04

{Still wearing the camp swimming arm band… and look at that adorable face!}

This year, the big kids were hankering to do some rides and I promised them we’d save up for them to buy an arm band to do unlimited rides.  Tuesday of this week was that day.  However, rather than simply purchase the arm bands and send them off to get hot, dizzy and tired, we gave them the $20 we’d saved for each one of our flock.  We told them that they could pay for the arm bands themselves, or…  they could spend it (or save it) on whatever they pleased.

Somehow, with the $20 they gained in their hands, fair rides didn’t sound so appealing to them anymore. They suddenly appreciated the effort that it would take for them to earn that money back themselves.  Somebody mentioned having money for Christmas presents.

Fair 2017- 05

No one went on rides.  When dad bought his malt, they bought their own ice cream (while mom *cringe* said nothing about all the sugar) and they enjoyed eating them together.  Dad got to taste every flavor because dads are good at sweet talking a taste.

We took in the exhibits.  We petted the animals.  C2 won a frisbee from The Pulse Radio. We won a $10 gift card for Cub Foods.

Yes, we brought home a lot of extra stuff, but the best thing we gained was the reminder that God is a Good Father when we lost. a. child!

Yes! Standing in a crowd with other people, holding tickets as the union for the grocery stores had a big drawing, Ella had a winning #.  She claimed her prize.  The giveaway ended, and as we started to walk away from the booth, I did what I always do:  I counted heads.

“5, 6, 7…” someone was missing.  I have had kids coming and going from camp all summer.  Every week we’ve had a different number at home, so the counting thing has been a little strange.  This is the first week we’ve had all the kids home since the beginning of June.

I re-counted with names and I panicked.  C2 is 4, and I didn’t see his little buzzed head or tye dye shirt.  We had been standing there, all together, the whole time!  How did he slip away?  Where could he have gone?

It’s amazing the clarity with which one can remember the details of a beloved in a moment of bereavement.  His big, tender eyes, full of wide wonderment filled my mind as I hollered his name and scanned the crowd.

I prayed.

While hubby turned the whole crew around, I spoke with the man at the grocery booth, and he said someone had taken a child to the fair office –{he pointed}– >>> that way.

We found him with an older couple, sitting in front of the information booth, and quietly crying as hard as he could.  He was hugging 2 stuffed animals from someone’s game booth.  When he saw us he flung himself into Dad’s arms and held on for dear life, and I silently praised God for keeping him safe.  As we walked away, the older couple who had cared for him said to him,

“Now, remember, your parents will always come for you.”

It was all I could do to restrain myself from snatching him up.  I let my husband hold on to him, but my arms ached to hold him, and I know that is how God feels about every son and daughter who wanders away from the safety of His will.  I can picture Him at the ready, even watching us as we consider stepping away; how he wants to snatch us from danger, but allows us to choose our own footing.

He’s the Good Father.

You’re never really a lost child when you belong to the King.  You can be rebellious, and you can suffer the consequences, but your Father knows where you are.  He has his eye on you and He’s listening for your repentant cry.  When you’re ready to find your way home, He will always come for you.

Always.

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost?  And if it turns out that he finds it, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost.  So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones be lost.” Matthew 18:12-14 (emphasis mine)

Always.