This is My Moment

I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to intentionally recognize the joy of a moment.

I recently read this post by Ann Voskamp, and it’s just stayed with me. She tells an amazing story about how one man decided to help people realize they were living in a joyful moment.

It’s funny how easy it is to get so busy, we miss the joy in the moment.

The other afternoon, I took the girls outside for a walk. We went exploring in the bush, and they just wanted to keep going and going. They were so excited to see where the path would lead.

It was one of those perfect afternoons. It was beautiful and sunny, and that thick snow was covering absolutely everything.

And suddenly, I realized, this is one of those perfectly joyful moments.

For right now, everything is just right, and I wouldn’t change one single thing.

But it seems as though every moment of enjoying beauty out here is quickly followed by sadness for me, because the end is coming so soon.This is our very last winter living in this wonderland, being surrounded by all this beauty every single day.

And that thought completely killed my moment.

Which led me to realize the foolishness in thinking that way. Why would I allow worries about the future cloud the joy of this moment right now?

 

Take it and run with it! Don’t worry about tomorrow. Or next year. Even if it means a winter apart from all this beauty.

Soak in the smiles, and the flopping into soft snow, and the excitement of the next bend in the snowy path.

This is my joyful moment. I will choose to let it linger, and remember it forever.

The Million Dollar Questions: Some More Details About Our Move

Alright, so here’s the grand list of the questions we get asked a lot these days:

1) When are you moving?

2) What will Ben be doing?

3) What will you be doing?

4) Will you continue to homeschool Anika?

I thought it would be good to answer as many of these as I can. We don’t know exactly how everything will look once we move, but here’s what we’ve got so far:

1) We are moving at the end of April. Yes, that means missing summer out here, which I just don’t want to think about. It’s too painful. We wish we could stay for one more summer, but because of Ben’s job, we must leave in spring.

It might be for the best, anyway. I’d probably spend my whole summer crying.

2) Ben will be working for his dad, doing property development. He will be involved with general contracting on homes and condos. Yes, that’s a huge change from what we’ve been doing. See this post for my thoughts on why that’s a good thing.

3) Since Kaylia is only two, and not very independent, I don’t see my job description changing much when we move. However, I will be helping Ben with some business stuff, when I have time.

Also, we are talking about how moving back to civilization will make it easier for me to pursue my dream to speak publicly. Don’t know what will happen with that, but if you know of any ladies’ groups or youth and college age groups looking for a speaker, I am so all over that idea. Without looking desperate, of course. 😉

4) Homeschooling. Well, last Monday, I was undecided about what to do, and on Tuesday, we were totally going to continue homeschooling. On Wednesday, it became drastically obvious that public school was the only appropriate option, and on Thursday, I could have cried at the thought of not homeschooling anymore. Friday I was back to being undecided, and on the weekend I was too busy to think about it.

Apparently, this is a decision that I will make 52,000 times before the decision is actually made.

Ben will make it once, and lose no sleep over it.

That’s just how we do things around here.

So for now, the plan is to wait, pray, and see how things go. Homeschooling is what we know. We’ve done it for four years, and there are many, many wonderful things about it. I know that public school is wonderful, too. Up until this point, we’ve had no option. Now that we have an option, we are unsure of what we want to do.

We’ll answer this question later, too!

There, did I miss anything?

Why, yes I did. I missed sharing with you how much I am just loving the purging going on at our house right now. Moving is an excellent motivator for getting rid of stuff you really don’t want or need.

It is also great for finding things you didn’t know you had.

We have an angel costume?? Apparently we do. I’d completely forgotten about that one. Now Kaylia is obsessed with wearing her “crown”.

Horray for purging and packing! (Talk to me two months from now – I might be singing a different tune!)

Is There Beauty After Camp??

I’m in pursuit of it every day.

I’ve always looked to nature for reminders of the beautiful in the midst of the ordinary, but now that I feel like I’m on a time-limit out here, I’m even more conscious of it.

We went outside on one dreary, dreary day last week. I didn’t even know if any of the pictures I took would turn out. But when I looked at them again in the evening, there was still something strange and lovely about dead leaves and a grey sky.

How does God do that?

The air was crisp and clear, and I sat there in the snow, breathing all that fresh air in, while I gazed up at the tree tops.

Does this mean Niverville might have beautiful moments, too?!

There’s nothing wrong with Niverville – we thoroughly enjoyed living there before we moved to camp. But for scenery, it can’t really compete with the Whiteshell.

And that depresses me a bit. But I keep reminding myself that it is possible to find beauty anywhere. My dad says I’ll just have to look a bit harder from now on.;)

Why We’re Leaving Camp

Thank you all so much for your kind comments, emails, facebook messages, etc. It’s been hard to share our news with everyone. We’re excited about what the future holds, but also know that we will miss camp and all the people very, very much.

A number of you have been asking about what’s next, and how it came to be, so I thought it might be good to share a bit of the process we went through in reaching our decision to leave camp. In the years that Ben and I have been in ministry, the topic most people seem to be struggling with is figuring out what God’s will is for their life. I’m sure most Christians have wished, at one point or another, that God would speak in a loud, obvious voice, and reveal “The Plan”.

But when is it ever that easy?

However, I have learned from our past experiences that there are many blessings to be found in the search for God’s will. Times of facing the unknown have led to growth and deeper trust in my Father who knows what is best. These times force me to rely on Him in the way I should be all the time.

Ben and I have had to make a number of tough choices over the years, which I’ve written about in my blog series “Chucking the Five-Year Plan”.

But this time, the decision seemed even harder than others we’ve had to make in the past.

Although Ben and I always wanted the chance to work at camp, and have loved being here, it has been hard in a lot of ways. There were a number of concerns we’ve had, in regards to how long we would stay at camp, including:

1) Anika’s schooling and being involved in various opportunities as she gets older

2) My health challenges and the need for very regular appointments with my beloved chiropractor, physio and massage therapists

3) Finances (we were spending a lot of our savings on getting to appointments in the city), and different choices for our future

4) The demanding schedule and symptoms of burn-out sneaking up on us, even though we love the ministry we do

One of these reasons alone would not have been enough to convince us to leave camp. But before Christmas, we spent many evenings sitting on our couch, talking and praying about what we should do.

During that time, Ben’s dad came along and said, “Want to work for me?” And Ben said, “Maybe I will.” To which Ben’s dad replied, Are you serious??

This is not the first time the idea has come up, but every other time, our answer has been no. We have absolutely loved being involved in full-time ministry. Ben knew that at some point in his life, he wanted to get involved in business in some way, but until now, the time never felt right.

Even though we were interested in the idea of Ben working with his dad, we still had no idea if that was what we were supposed to do. We didn’t know if it was the right time to leave, or what God wanted us to be doing once we were done at camp. We had no idea where we wanted to live.

All along, I had imagined that when it was time to leave camp, God would miraculous produce some kind of awesome, exciting new ministry opportunity that was obviously such a perfect fit, we’d have to be blind to miss it. That’s kind of how He’d done it in the past! I was expecting a repeat.

One evening, in the midst of our confusion, I was expressing my frustration with God to Ben. I went on and on about how I had imagined God would reveal Himself, and how I just longed for the perfect solution to come along – the right job, in the right place, the right fit for our family, and why was God not producing this for us? Right now? And suddenly, I realized that He already kind of had – it just wasn’t a job in ministry.

The opportunity to work with Ben’s dad provided answers to many questions we had. It fit very well, in many different ways. It just wasn’t what I had always expected we would do.

From that point on, I allowed myself to be more open to whatever God was going to reveal, even if it meant that we would, for the first time in almost 11 years, not be involved in full-time ministry.

Details started falling into place, and as Ben and I talked and prayed, we began to see more and more reasons why taking a break from ministry might be a very good thing for our family. Camp is a bubble. It’s a wonderful bubble, but it’s still a bubble. Along with many other positive things, living here has provided us with the opportunity to pull away from a lot of the pressures of our culture, giving us the space to figure out what we want for our life, our family, our faith, and it’s been good.

But it would be unhealthy to live in a bubble forever. We are trying to minister to real people who live in the real world…that we ourselves haven’t been a part of for five years.

I want to have neighbors, and I want to minister to people, not because I’m paid to do it, but because as a follower of Jesus, there is no other way to live.

So we sat there talking on our couch, realizing there was a door of opportunity open before us, but we still didn’t know if God wanted us to walk through it.

Then at Christmas, we listened to an amazing message by Bruxy Cavey, in which he talked about the birth of Jesus.

He spoke about how it had been prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem many, many years before it actually happened. It had to happen that way. And yet when the time came, Mary and Joseph did not receive a miraculous sign, or an angel telling them to go to Bethlehem.

They went to Bethlehem because a census was being taken, and that was just where normal life brought them. The wise men followed a star, and the shepherds got a choir of angels, but all Mary and Joseph got was a census.

Sometimes, God’s will is accomplished just by living an ordinary life. By simply making logical choices.

I keep expecting things to be crazy, exciting and miraculous all the time, if God is truly in it.

But the truth is, a lot of the time, He’s in the ordinary stuff. And He makes the ordinary stuff crazy, exciting and miraculous, because He is truly in it.

I still can’t say, with absolute certainty, that I know how to determine God’s will. Ben and I have talked about how we turn it into this big, “One Right Decision” kind of a thing. But it’s life, and we’re not perfect, and God knows we’ll make mistakes. He gave us the ability to think logically about things, and He gave us the freedom to choose.

We hope that we’re making a very good choice. We feel as though God has guided us in this choice. We also feel that life in general has pointed us in this direction. We’ll take the open door, and we’ll keep trusting and looking to God for the crazy, exciting, and miraculous.

And it turns out that we will be doing this in Niverville. Who would have thought? Not me! Life is full of surprises.

Getting Ready to Say Good-bye

It’s been five full, wonderful, challenging years since we moved to Red Rock Bible Camp.

I remember feeling like we’d moved to paradise.

I would lie in bed with the window open, and listen to the loons on the lake. And I couldn’t believe that God had blessed us so richly with the opportunity of being here, of having the chance to do something we’d always wanted to do.

And now it’s time to do something else.

Everyone who moves to camp knows it’s not forever. It’s so isolated, and pretty much everything about it is intense.

The schedule is intense, the ministry is intense, the location is intense, the beauty is intense.

Part of me is so tired, I know this is a good choice for our family, but part of me is aching.

I love intense.

This has always been my favorite place in the world. Last time I left, I hoped and hoped that I would come back. Countless times over the last five years, Ben and I have taken our girls on little adventures around camp, and I’ve almost had to pinch myself to believe that we’ve done this as a family.

We came back and made this ours. These memories will be ours forever. It’s in the story of our family.

(photography by Morgan Braun)

I don’t really know how to move on from that.

I’m getting that feeling you get on vacation – the feeling at the end, when your days have almost run out, and you’re trying to get in as much as you can. You know you can’t stay on vacation forever. It has to end, but you try to make it last as long as possible, and as you walk away for the last time, you keep looking back over your shoulder, trying to memorize every sight, every sound, every smell…

I’ve actually been walking around camp with my eyes closed a lot, lately. I can smell the trees better with my eyes closed! I can hear the silence better with my eyes closed. And then I open my eyes, and there’s the moon shining through the trees, and I ache.

We hear about summer staff who are planning to come on spring staff this year, and I ache. It makes me want to ditch the new plans and just stay. Oh, the people. We love camp ministry. We believe in it.

There are a lot of reasons why we’re going. I’ll cover those in a different post, for those of you who are curious. It’s another story about how God leads, and how we’ve gone about coming to this decision. It’s been a struggle.

But now it’s time to go. And I just keep looking over my shoulder…

What I See When I Walk Out My Door

Ever been to the Whiteshell in the winter? It is fantastically beautiful.

I got out of the house the other day for an afternoon walk in the sunshine, and I was reminded all over again why I feel like such a lucky girl in winter – run out the door, and there’s so much beauty right there.

Sometimes I feel a little out of place in the Whiteshell. We don’t have a snowmobile, and Ben doesn’t hunt, and really, we just are not very rugged people. We don’t live off the land much.

But I drink in the beauty of it on a regular basis. Does that count?

I don’t even wear Sorel’s.

I know, I know. After having been out here for almost five years, one would think that I would be properly booted.

But I walk around with my face lifted to the sunshine, my eyes fixed to the top of those glorious evergreens piercing a perfect blue sky, and I try to soak in all of that wild, untouched beauty.

And even though it hasn’t made me “rugged”, it has made me fall in love with winter.

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Fall Canoe Ride

Yesterday was perfect and beautiful outside. I love fall. I think I’ve said that about 50 times in the last month.

And I really love canoeing, so when Ben told us that the Pursuit students were going canoeing, we decided that our family should tag along. It was a great afternoon. Until Kaylia refused to sit down in the canoe and proceeded to let everyone around the lake know that she did not want to, and then the peace and beauty was a little harder to notice.

But we’ll pretend that part didn’t happen. 🙂

(We’ll also pretend that the Pursuit students were not trying to drown a mouse while we were out there.)

See, if you focus on the positive, life is pretty much perfect…

Travelling Home

I love coming home.

Driving 2 hours to get anywhere is sometimes a big pain, but often, it is such a great time to unwind, and leave behind all of the busyness.

By the time we pull up the camp driveway, it almost feels like we’re entering another world – the smooth lake to my right, the homey lodge lights straight ahead, and scattered throughout are happy people talking, laughing, and relaxing.

And then we get to our house, and there really is nothing in the world like getting home.

I am very thankful for all that we’ve been able to do while we’ve been gone -seeing family and friends, and getting things done in the city, but I am so happy to be home!

The Shocking Truth

I have not taken a single picture this weekend.

Completely out of character for me. I don’t know what is going on.

Actually, I do. Rain is going on. This weekend has been cold and gloomy. Wonderful for being cozy inside, reading books, talking with people I love, turning on the heat, but don’t tell anyone, cause I know I’m not supposed to do that yet but I’M FREEZING.

But not for taking pictures, because of that gloomy part.

So. No pictures, but the weekend has been great. It’s Family Camp out here, which means we have tons of families with all different ages of kids and adults enjoying camp, and it’s such a great atmosphere! And our friends came with their kids for the weekend, but I had no idea, so it was a fun surprise.

Ben is gone from morning until late night, and we will catch up with him tomorrow afternoon. After he takes a looooong nap. When he came in last night, he said, “I miss Kaylia! I didn’t see her at all today.” Weird, hey? We live where we work. And yet it’s possible for him not to see her for a whole day. In part, that’s because I took the girls to my parents’ cabin for the afternoon.

And that’s what we’ve been up to. I will get my camera out today, and make up for lost time.

Hope your long weekend has been fantastic! And warm.

Reasons Why I Need to Live in Community

People ask me all the time about what it is like to live in a close community of people at camp.

I never know how to answer that question. Are they wanting the short or long answer? And how honest can I be? Even if I hated it, I could never actually say that. I don’t hate it, but it’s my life, and life tends to go up and down. I’m human and I struggle with stuff, and in my life, “stuff” is sometimes….living in community.

But some of the very best moments of my life happen because we live in community. And some of the hardest, most rewarding lessons of my life have been learned because we live in community.

So here are my reasons for why it is good for me to live in community:

1. Growing a flexible, loving, and unselfish attitude.

I think God looked down from heaven and saw my lovely, structured, controlled little life in Niverville, and decided to shake things up a bit. He knew I needed a constant reminder to include people in my day. In those personality test things, I tend to come out as being very task-oriented. That’s great for getting check marks on my to-do list, but not so great for putting people first in my life. Especially in spontaneous ways. I really do love spending time with people, but being spontaneous has always stressed me out.

But guess what. Here at camp, my little plan is continually challenged. I am always being reminded that the selfish tendencies must be destroyed. I have to lay down my desires, or I will live a very grumpy life. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out.

In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes a chapter about living in community. He writes about how hard it can be to adjust to community life:

When you live on your own for years, you begin to think the world belongs to you. You begin to think all space is your space and all time is your time.

The whole chapter is pretty fantastic, but I especially loved this part:

One morning, before anybody woke up, Bill and I were drinking coffee at the dining room table. I told him I lived with five guys and that it was very difficult for me because I liked my space and needed my privacy. I asked him how he kept such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness. Bill set down his coffee and looked me in the eye. “Don,” he said. “If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are really following Jesus.”

2. Learning to live out my faith in the setting of relationships.

I can be extremely holy when I am by myself, praying and reading my Bible. Except that doesn’t count for much. To bask in the holiness of my own devotions is not the point. The point is to get my heart in the right place before God, and then go live that out with all the other people He loves.

God is about relationships. I need to be about relationships. I could do that anywhere, even if I had a nice house on a nice street in a nice town. Except that I have a tendency to forget about my neighbors. At camp, it’s pretty much impossible to forget my neighbors. They eat lunch and supper with me every day. They share my washer and dryer, they come to every social event I am ever part of, they work with my husband, they play with my children. We do church and ministry and life together.

They invade my life in a way that is good for me. Sometimes I can get tired of that, in the same way that a muscle gets sore when it is being exercised and strengthened. It wants to be left alone. But it’s not good for muscles to be left alone. That was never the point.

God touches people’s lives through relationships – with Him, and with other people.

A few weeks ago, a speaker at camp said this:

Individualism is dangerous. It takes us away from the very center of what God is about – He is about community, love, and relationships. Individualism steals the joy of life.

It’s funny, because I think that I will be happier if I can control every aspect of my life, but it’s actually the opposite. Left to my own devices, I can plan every blessing out of my life! I leave no room for God to work, and who is happy under those circumstances? Not me! His ideas are usually unexpected, and a lot better than anything I could come up with on my own.

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This stuff still is not coming easy for me, but we are working on it. When stuff happens that frustrates me, and makes me long for our private, cozy little house in Niverville, I try to thank God for the opportunity to grow. I try to remember that people make life better – even when they don’t do things the way I think they should. I try to thank God that I am forced into a situation where flexibility, love, unselfishness and relationships are not optional. I try to put people ahead of my comfort and my to-do list.

Any other tips out there for how to live happily in community?