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.

Mentor Me (Part 3): So How Do I Find Myself a Mentor?

Maybe you are already completely sold on the idea of mentoring. Maybe you’ve seen that great need in your life for accountability, words of challenge and wisdom spoken into you, someone to guide  you along as you grow.

All of that sounds great, but…you have no idea where to find it.

Ben and I have both gone through that at different times in our lives. For years, Ben really wanted to have a mentor, but there just wasn’t anyone whom he really connected with in that kind of a way. When he started working on his Masters through Trinity Western University, getting a mentor was part of the program. He was paired up with a man whom he clicked with immediately, and felt comfortable talking to his mentor about anything, right from the start.

It has been a huge blessing for him. There is something so incredibly comforting in knowing that at any time, you can call up someone older, wiser, more experienced, and totally removed from the situations you are facing, which enables them to pray and offer advice in a godly way while being more emotionally removed.

So….you could pay for a mentor. If you wanted to get your Masters.

I know. That’s not the most practical way of getting one. And I don’t know what happens when Ben is finished his program. Does the mentorship expire?

Maybe there are better options here…

I’ve come up with a list of three different steps to finding a mentor, but I believe each step should be preceded by lots of prayer. Your Father knows your needs, He cares about the longings of your heart, and He desires to work in your life through different people. He also desires to work in others through you.

1) Be willing to let go of your “mentor stereo-type”.

It’s easy to get this idea in your head of what a mentor should look like, or who that person should be. And all this time while you’re praying and trying to find a relationship that will meet your expectations, you could already be in a relationship where mentoring is happening.

Piano teachers, for example, can make fantastic mentors. I’ve spent so many hours talking with my music teachers, it was probably hard to tell if my parents were paying for music lessons or counseling. I don’t know which was more beneficial!

I think there are many different ways the mentor relationship can look. Long-distance mentoring totally works – Ben’s mentor lives a few provinces away. And I recently watched an interview with Tony Dungy in which he talked about the possibility of being mentored from a distance by someone you’ve never met! He said that there were some well-known men whom he really admired, but didn’t know. He read a number of books written by them, and felt that he was mentored through their written words.

Dungy also talked about how he’s been mentored through five-minute conversations. Sometimes someone can change your life  dramatically with only one encounter. Grab it and go! No, it’s not a relationship that will continue to grow for years and years, but it’s still God working in your life through other people. Appreciate it for the gift it is, even if it doesn’t “look” like mentoring in your mind.

2) Be willing to go out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes when we ask God for things, He answers our prayers in strange and unexpected ways. Be prepared!

When Ben and I had been married for a year, we moved to a new town and started attending a new church. I had been without a mentor for a few years, and was really missing it. I felt that I needed that type of relationship to help me grow in my spiritual life, so I started praying for one. And there she was, in our new church. The very first time I met her, I knew that she was “the one”! She is one of those amazing, godly women who just spills joy and the love of Jesus on everyone she meets. I could tell she was a true prayer warrior, and she was the kind of woman I wanted to learn from.

But I barely knew her. I prayed about it, and talked with Ben about it. He said, “You should call her.” It took a long time for me to work up my nerve. One evening, I just grabbed the phone and called before I had too much time to think myself out of it. I got their answering machine, so I left a message, and….she never called back! I was so sad!

A few months later, I somehow worked up the courage to ask again, and she said she would gladly be my mentor. I mentioned leaving a message, and she laughed and said their answering machine hadn’t been working for months! She had never heard my message.

If you’ve prayed about it, and you feel like God is leading you to take action, do it, even if it scares you so much you feel like you’ll puke.

It will all be worth it in the end!

3) Just keep trusting God to provide.

We moved away from that wonderful place, and my mentor moved on to a different stage of her life, and once again, I was without a mentor. The problem was, we had moved away from civilization to a camp in the middle of a forest. I was praying for a mentor, but I really, really wondered how in the world God was going to produce one. Would a godly woman come randomly wandering out of the bush one day and knock on my door?

Oh, ye of little faith! She was the speaker at a retreat we were having here at camp. We connected right away, and I had the most powerful prayer experience with her that I’d ever had. The next year, she came again, and when she left, I knew that I wanted to ask her to be my mentor.

But the problem was that she was so amazing. I was far too chicken to call her, because I was sure that she would have no time. I was sure that she probably had hundreds of women calling her up, begging her to mentor them. (The best ones are always the most busy, right?!) Ben kept telling me to call her, and I kept praying about it.

Finally, I took the pukey plunge again, and wrote her an email. And she said she’d do it! She also said she had never actually mentored anyone before, which shocked me completely.

And now, she blesses my life in very deep and rich ways. We live far apart, and are both very busy, so it’s not the kind of relationship where I have coffee with her once a week or something like that. But for this season of my life, God has provided, and He is so good.


I know that at times, it seems impossible to find the real, deep, life-changing kinds of relationships that we crave. But I really believe that God cares, and that He provides. Ask Him. Ask Him to send you somebody amazing.

If He can send someone to me, way out here in the bush, I’m guessing that He can figure something out for you, too. Wait for it, watch for it, and then go for it.

Go get mentored!


Series Summary:

Part 1: Embarking on a Journey

Part 2: Sharing Some Personal Stories

Part 3: So How Do I Find Myself a Mentor?

Part 4: Choosing a Victim

Part 5: What Do We Talk About Now?

Conclusion: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Oops, I Got Sulky Again

I wonder how many posts I’ve written about prayer. Someday I will go back and count them all.

And maybe someday I’ll finally figure out how to pray and what the true purpose is.

I mean, on the one hand, I don’t believe that it’s complicated at all – I talk to my Father, He listens to me. He talks too, and I try to listen to Him.

But on the other hand, I get really muddled up when it comes to truly praying with faith, and believing in miracles, and stuff like that. I got sick 12 years ago, and all of the prayers for miraculous healing didn’t really produce any miracles. I’ve slowly been getting better over the years, but nothing dramatic.

We prayed for a baby for four years, and right now she’s sleeping in her crib. So I know that miracles happen, but not every time that I ask for one. (And really, I should say that both our girls are quite miraculous, but it was never announced that Anika’s existence was impossible, which is why I’m focusing on Kaylia as being the miraculous one in this post.)

During those four years of waiting, there were many, many nights when I cried in bed, and didn’t want to pray together with Ben anymore. I never stopped believing that God heard me, I just didn’t believe that He cared.

And then when Kaylia was born, I felt like I didn’t deserve her – like I needed to have overcome any doubt in my life before I actually received an answer to my prayers. And I started to learn all over again that it has nothing to do with what I deserve.

So I started praying with more faith, with fresh motivation because not only does God hear, but He also actually answers.

But then last year, I went through another prayer crisis. Ben and I prayed like crazy for something, and God took forever to answer, and when He finally did, I hated His answer. It made me angry. But I clearly heard what He said. There was no ignoring or arguing about it.

So I sulked about it. For a few months.

When I finally realized that I was tired of being grumpy, life became really wonderful again. I came to a point where I had experienced the miraculous answer I wanted, and the miraculous answer that I didn’t want, and I had learned to accept God’s will and be at peace with either outcome.

But guess what. Last week I got grumpy again. There was something I prayed for with all the faith that was in me. I completely believed that God was going to do something. Well, not just something – He was going to answer my prayers, and I could really only see one good way for that to happen. I was pretty sure that things would go in my favor.

They didn’t. And I got sulky again. Definitely some hormonal issues mixed in there, so I’m not completely responsible. Well, maybe. Anyway. I was feeling very grumpy at God, and informed Ben that obviously, praying didn’t help anything, because I’ve been praying for years, and NEVER gotten any miracles, no matter how much faith I have.

As I said that, I was reminded of Kaylia, asleep in her crib, and knew that I couldn’t really say that I NEVER get any miracles. But it sounded more dramatic. I’m sure Ben noticed how effective that was. And was probably also thinking of Kaylia asleep in her crib.

He calmly went to bed, and I went off to the living room to cry and pray and figure the whole thing out.

What kept coming to my mind is something that Oswald Chambers wrote. I can’t remember where the exact quote is, but he writes that prayer is not for changing God as much as it’s for changing us. We pray so that our hearts slowly become more and more in line with God’s. We don’t pray so that God will miraculously answer everything that we ask for.

So as I knelt there feeling grumpy, all I could think about was the fact that I wanted my way, and my way was bringing me away from God.

It was everything that I thought I had learned last year, but it was happening all over again. I felt very disgusted with myself. I knew all that already – don’t I ever get past this level, and move on to bigger and better things? Very annoying.

But today I recognized progress – what took me a few months to get over last time only took a week this time. And maybe next time, when God doesn’t give me what I ask for, even if I have all the faith in the world, maybe next time it’ll only take a few days.

Before you know it, it’ll take no time at all. My heart will get closer and closer to Jesus.

I don’t believe that it’s wrong to pray for miracles. I think it’s actually a really good idea. But if it doesn’t happen, it’s wrong to sulk about it. God can handle it, of course, but it hurts me a lot when I do.

How I wish I could come to a place where His “yes” and His “no” bring equal amounts of peace and surrender in my life.

We’ll keep working on it.


Killing Excuses

I found an amazing blog this weekend – all about social media, which I’m apparently getting more and more interested in. Who knew?! I could hardly get myself to stop reading it. And yet it was so motivating that I really wanted to get to work and start implementing what I was reading right away! I was so torn, I hardly knew which to do first!

The big question that grabbed my attention and won’t let go is this: “How are you killing one of your excuses today?”

I’m chewing on that one, because just the other day, I was talking with a friend about dreams and what holds us back. We shared the things we long to do, and talked about how confusing life can get. Sometimes we don’t even know what is holding us back, or why a dream is not coming to life.

I’ve often asked myself what is keeping me from doing the things that I dream about. I still haven’t figured out if it’s fear that I’m just labeling as “waiting for God’s timing”, or if it actually just isn’t the time – I’m in a time of preparation. Even if this is actually a time of preparation, there is still a good measure of fear thrown in there, and I realized that I’m getting tired of that.

I’m not pursuing my dreams, because if I start trying to pursue them, and it doesn’t work out, I will fail. It’s safe just to sit here dreaming and leaving it for in the future. I am safe from failure as long as I stay right where I am, and just keep dreaming (…procrastinating?)

But what am I doing today to kill my excuses?

I’m going to start taking action. I’m going to pray like crazy about each step I take, and if it’s not of God, I trust that He’ll stop me. But I’m going to step out in faith, because that’s the only way that my dreams are going to become reality. I am guaranteeing that nothing can or will happen, as long as I keep coming up with excuses not to do anything.

Do you ever make excuses for why you’re not pursuing a dream?

Learning How to Put My Trust Where it Belongs

There’s a verse that I memorized as a little girl that sticks with me still. “What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.” (Good old King James, it’s got to have the “thee” in it!)

A couple of weeks ago, that verse came back to me again. I was sitting in a waiting room, about to be called in to see the doctor to receive some test results. And I was scared.

See, I’m really good at worrying. I’ve been practicing my whole life. And getting test results is something that can freak me out. So as I was sitting there, nervous and scared, with that verse was stuck in my head. I tried repeating it to myself, hoping to get my mind in the right place, and trying to stop worrying.

But as I said, “…I will put my trust in Thee,” I suddenly realized that it was a lie. My trust was not in God as I was sitting there. There are lots of times when I don’t put my trust in God. There are terrible, hard things in this world that I am just plain scared of, and I can say that I trust God, but sometimes I don’t. I wouldn’t feel the way that I do sometimes, if I were actually trusting Him all the time.

So I sat there trying to figure out how to learn to trust God. How do you?

And then it hit me – the verse says, “I will put…” – not “I will magically discover that my trust is already put in Thee.”

I was feeling like a very bad Christian because I was not trusting God. But I suddenly realized that it’s a choice I need to make over and over again. With every situation that comes up, I need to once again say, “God, I will put my trust in you. I will choose to put it there.”

Beth Moore says that if you don’t feel something, live as though you are a woman who feels it, and the feelings will eventually catch up with the actions.

When I am worried or scared, I will choose to put my trust in God, even though it doesn’t want to be put there, and eventually, if Beth Moore is right, the feelings will follow. And if she’s wrong, it’s still a good idea, because I will be acting in obedience to God, even when my emotions haven’t quite caught on yet.

As I choose to act the way God wants me to, I will be growing my “trust muscle” – I’ll get better at putting my trust where I want it to be, rather than allowing my emotions too much control in my life.

What about you? Is there an area in your life where you’ve allowed your emotions to make decisions that they have no business making?

Been Thinking About Swine

There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about not putting your pearls before swine, because the pearls will get trampled.

I never thought about that verse much, until this last winter when I met a lady who talked to me about keeping secrets.

She talked about how there are some things in life that are so sacred and special, and dear to our hearts, that we need to learn to keep them close. If we recklessly share those precious things with everyone, there will be people who don’t understand, and will end up trampling our “pearls”. She felt that the swine verse was teaching us to be discerning in what we share with others.

And I think she’s right about the discernment part…but it kind of seems like that verse is referring to using discernment when we share the gospel, and the things of Christ with people who don’t believe in Him.

But still, it’s an interesting point – when you share your deepest thoughts and feelings with other people, how much do you share? How do you protect yourself from getting trampled by all the “swine” out there?!

Using discernment when deciding what is private, and what to share with the masses, is an interesting thought in this day and age, when absolutely everything is considered acceptable material to share on Facebook, Twitter, or blogs.

I am thinking about balance and discernment every time I sit down at my computer to post something on my blog – not because I view any of my readers as swine! I just want to be careful about what I write, and how much I share with the general public. And I realize that everyone has very different standards, and ideas of what is private or public.

I listened with interest to my family talking about this very thing the other day. My dad and brother-in-law are very thankful for the privacy they enjoy in their lives. My sister loves Facebook, but she’s not the type who wants to hear about every time someone bakes muffins. And as for myself, I’m not the hugest fan of Facebook that’s out there. (Gasp!) I use it in limited amounts, but I always feel like I’m eavesdropping when I read stuff on Facebook. I know that everyone is fine with me reading what they’ve written in a public place, but it kind of reminds me of those conversations where you say everything REALLY loudly so that the people beside you can hear what you’re saying – it can be kind of like indirect communication.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to say that Facebook is bad. There are great things about it, and many different ways to use it. I just feel happier when I use it in small amounts, and I happen to enjoy having a blog a lot more.

But blogs can be really public, too. I’m not telling you every time I bake muffins, and I’m not posting all of my conversations with my friends, but I’m sharing a lot of details of my life and thoughts, and I’m posting a lot of pictures of my family.

Some people would not be okay with that. Some people would think that’s a lot more public than Facebook.

I think it all comes down to personal preference, balance, and an appropriate time for things.

There are times when things are just not meant to be shared. I’ve had moments between me and God that were like pearls, and trying to put those experiences into words would take away from the wonder, mystery and intimacy of those moments. Times like those are sometimes just meant to change you and cause you to grow, but don’t need to be shared with the world, even if the people around you would appreciate them for the pearls that they are.

But there are times when it is good and right to share stuff. God often works in the hidden places of our lives, and when we are willing to open up and become vulnerable to other people, it can be a blessing and an encouragement to others. If we are too closed and private, we can miss out on a deep and real connection with other people. We need to be able to trust others with some of the good stuff that’s buried a bit deeper.

I know that can be really hard for some people. Personally, not so much! I tend to be on the side of way too much information. And there are times when my pearls have gotten trampled. And then I’ve needed to forgive those who trampled, and learn some discernment for next time!

There’s a time for everything, right? A time to share about baking muffins, and a time to share about something a little deeper.

A time to speak, and a time to be quiet.

A time to enjoy personal moments privately, and a time to be a little more vulnerable to others.

A time to hold pearls close to treasure them, and a time to stop assuming that all people will trample them like swine….Or something like that!

Pulling Teeth

Anika lost her 4th tooth the other day.

It’s been loose for a month. She’s been so scared of having it pulled out, that she made us promise that we wouldn’t touch it, and let it fall out by itself.

But then it didn’t come out for a month. And it got really annoying – bloody mouth when she ate, lots of complaining, lots of worrying, etc.

Finally, Ben announced on Tuesday that it was coming out, whether she liked it or not. It was this huge ordeal, and she was extremely scared.

In the middle of it all, I said to her, “Sometimes we need to go through a little bit of pain before things get a lot better.”

And I stopped. And thought about what I had just said. Really? Am I just saying that to my kid about a tooth, or do I really believe that? Because lately, God’s been trying to teach me stuff, and it hurts like crazy, and I’m complaining, and begging Him to take the pain away.

Can I not endure a little bit of pain so that things can get a lot better?

And then Ben pulled the tooth, and the first thing Anika said was, “That didn’t even hurt!”

WHAT?? All of that for nothing?!

And yet how often do I do the same? I make a big deal about stuff, and then looking back on it, I don’t even know what my problem was. God worked it all out. If I had just trusted Him and calmed down a bit, it would have been fine.

Lessons from pulling teeth…