Tag Archives: camp

Friendship Friday ~ An Incredible Influence

Close your eyes and picture someone who had an incredible influence on your life.

I was at VBS training, and the leader was reminding us of the influence that we may have on the lives of the children who attend. I closed my eyes.

Her face immediately popped into my mind, and I knew she would be my Friendship Friday person. She had an incredible influence.

Aunt Gieta.

She is now Chief, but back in the day she was Aunt. She was my mom’s friend, the kindergarten teacher of several of my younger siblings, and my safe person.

We used to joke that we could have all been sisters if the timing was right. If my mom was born to a teenager, Gieta in the middle, and me at the end, later in life. It was a fun idea and made me feel included in the trio.

My mom wasn’t REALLY born to a teenager. This was our theory of how we could all be sisters. Just in case my grandma reads this and thinks I think my mom was born to a teenager.

Gieta was in my life for several years. I will guess it was from when I was 8 or 9 to about 11. Rough estimate. Kid memory years.

Kid memory years are messy and tend to jumble together. The world is all about you when you are young, and the bigger picture tends to blur around the edges.

She comes sharply into focus for me when I was in 5th grade. That year was my first at a new, larger Christian school. This school had three 5th grade classes, and as a new staff kid I found myself in the leftover class.

No one overtly SAID that it was the leftover class, but kids can tell. There was the smart class, the fun class, and our class. It was a rough year. We were a tough bunch.

I was the studious type who always read ahead in textbooks and wanted to know what was coming up next. This bit me in the tail when I flipped ahead through my book during one laborious math lesson. I was a reader who enjoyed searching for story problems. I was in for a shock.

Towards the end of the book was an entire page of story problems all centering around the theme of camping. There was a cute picture of a tent at the bottom of the page which made it even more appealing. I’m sure this is what the textbook authors were after. Engaging 5th graders in practical math problems about camping.

Everything was well and good, me with my ears on the teacher and my eyes on the book, until. . .

Horror of horrors. I began to read.

Julie and Boy’s name went camping. 

Julie and this boy? Julie and THIS BOY??!!!

You see, there was this boy by that name in the 5th grade class, and he was NOT someone that any girl in the ENTIRE 5th grade would want to go camping with.

My pulse quickened, but not in a good way. In a traumatic fight or flight way.

Julie fixed pancakes for said boy. If she. . .

I’m pretty sure the words began to blur together. Fixing pancakes meant breakfast which meant real camping overnight with a boy who looked as if he could eat several dozen pancakes and still have room for a pound of bacon.

No! No! No! I was doomed. This story problem page was coming on page 162. We were on page 50. WHY did I look ahead?

It loomed over me every day.

Enjoy today. Soon you will be even MORE of the laughingstock of the class. You know, when you go camping with you-know-who in math and make him pancakes.

In addition to being the new girl, I was awkwardly tall and gangly, and, just, awkward. I wasn’t one of the cute girls. It was hard enough trying to fit in BEFORE I knew that the end was near.

I spent many days and weeks miserable with this secret knowledge.

One evening, Aunt Gieta was babysitting. It must have been getting closer to page 162, because I felt sick. She sensed this, and I don’t know how, but somehow I cracked and began to spill all of my fears and griefs about math and camping.

Why don’t you talk to your teacher and tell her about it? I will go with you and help you if you need me to. Do you know that I had mono in 10th grade? Do you know how people say you get mono?

She proceeded to tell me her story of embarrassment and shame while assuring me that she would help me through mine.

And she did. And I am grateful.

I don’t remember how. I just remember that after that conversation I no longer felt anxiety about the math situation and story problems about camping. I felt heard and loved and cared for.

Thank you, Aunt Gieta! You were, and continue to be, and incredible influence to me and many.

Glimpsing the Glory

To bask in the glory of another is a gift.

Tonight as I soaked in the haunting music of the marimba and exercised my downbeat ear during the percussion solo and rocked out to the steel drum ending, I received that gift.

The beauty of one fully absorbed in her craft, executing each note artistically, Sara offered up hours of practice and years of work from her heart to mine and every other listener in the audience.


It was beautiful.

My heart soared and my eyes filled as I rose to my feet, clapping for the girl who loves so big and works so hard and shares her gifts selflessly.

I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with my camp friend all year long! You are a gift, Sara. Bravo! Tonight’s recital was perfect!

There’s Something About

There’s something about spending time with someone who knew, remembers, and loves you still that does a heart good.

There’s something about seeing and naming and marveling together at God’s redemptive faithfulness that encourages a heart to keep going.

There’s something about being invited and nudged along and believed in that boosts a heart’s confidence.

There’s something about community and the outdoors and the gathering in that reminds a heart of it’s worth.

There’s something about spending a week at camp with people you love that binds a heart in community.


Mommy Muscle Monday ~ Insanity Workout Version

Mommy Muscle Monday

Mommy Muscle Monday

Last week I attempted an intense mommy workout. It was one of those insanity types, where you don’t know if you will make it to the end.

I survived.

If you follow my blog or have any type of memory, I was going to have my kids help me in the kitchen. Remember how that didn’t really work? Well, I had an opportunity to redeem that situation by directing an entire week of culinary arts camp with three of my children in attendance.

Last week, I taught a group of children ranging from ages 9 – 14 (not including my 6 and 8 year old girls who also participated) various cooking skills. We cooked bacon and cut up fruits and veggies and grated cheese and mixed up dough and concocted fruit dip and baked cookies and learned to cooperate with each other in the kitchen.


I faced fears and silenced lies and loved on budding chefs and listened to my children’s voices and cleaned up lots of messes.


I learned that Kirkle is competent and Coco is eager and Roo pays meticulous attention to detail.

I learned that it’s not all about me. I am not responsible for the feelings and reactions and experiences of others, and that I don’t have to constantly defend myself or my plans or decisions.

Here we go!

In the end, each budding chef took home a certificate of achievement and a wooden spoon to remember our time in the kitchen, along with a decorated apron and cooking binder. I took home memories and three of the budding chefs who are now even MORE prepared to help me in the kitchen.

Funny how that works, huh?



Today kicks off the month of July, which is pretty much packed with workout opportunities for this mommy. I am going to be strengthening some roadtrip muscles, organizational muscles, and lots of relational ones, too. I think those are akin to the tiny micromuscles that you feel intensely when you finally figure out where they are.

How are your mommy muscles holding up this summer?

A Peek at the Week

For the past 3 summers, we have spent a week at Camp Mardela as volunteer staff. I direct the Culinary Arts Camp, Steve is a support person, and the kids are campers. This year Kieran was the pianist for Performing Arts Camp and part of the CIT Staff (counselor-in-training), meaning he did whatever was assigned to him from kitchen help to leading the name game.

Enjoy this peek at our week as we re-enter regular family life back home. It was a full week with a lot to process and marvel over regarding redemption and the faithfulness of God.

Which way?whale

Here I am in my camp kitchen, wearing a custom designed (using Sharpies) apron, with everything lined up to prepare the day’s creation. And there is Mr. Steve, always close by to lend a supervisory hand or toss in a load of laundry.

Chef JulieMr. Steve

Kieran accompanied the music for the performing arts singers using lead sheets. I am a proud mama. He played well. Kirk discovered that he could play the djembe, which meant that after the first two nights, I was back to just singing during worship time.

PianoManDjembe Player

The girls kept busy, too. This is Coco at breakfast and Roo enjoying some quiet time with her book of memories.

Good Morning!Memory Keeper

Little Mae enjoyed having ice cream over baked oatmeal for breakfast one morning! Her dream meal, for sure! There is Steve in Krabill Hall, the dining/multipurpose building, in conversation with another counselor.


It was a fun, full week of growth for all.

Daddy and his little girls…Then and Now



This is Daddy coloring with Coco and Roo. They are in the corner of the “box” room (now TV room) (now MY corner in MY room) where the bumper pool table was, for those of you who are interested in that detail! They are sitting at little wooden desks that Steve and I bought in Front Royal at a flea market BEFORE we were married. They were $25/each which was A LOT of money to us back then (hey, it still is)! These little ones were just part of a dream that we shared!

Now Kirkle uses the desk closer to the window. Coco is sitting at hers. Our dream has come true many times over. (These desks now reside in the little girls’ room and are used by Roo and Little Mae. Coco has graduated to Katie’s childhood desk.)


Heading to Morning Watch

This is Daddy with his growing up girls walking to Morning Watch at camp Friday morning. Yes, we were at camp last week. More to follow about THAT once I have a chance to take a breath.