Many of you have already heard that my husband and I are moving in May, but what you haven’t heard are all the details. And there are details! I’m telling it with lots of pictures to keep it interesting!
Last year Ben and I were engaged to be married and were planning to spend our first year as husband and wife working at Ironwood, a Christian camp located in the Mojave desert. I spent my childhood there.
After I graduated at 17, I moved out. Because of health, uncertainties, and financial reasons, I opted out of college and moved to Wolf Mountain, which is another camp much like Ironwood.
I spent two years there as the child care worker, and I loved it. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the ripe old age of 17, but I grew into the job and learned so much more about myself.
The kids I took care of taught me something just about every day. I was also in some of the darkest parts of my chronic pain, so having little children need you no matter how inadequate you were feeling was a gift I received frequently, and one I loved opening over and over again.
I met Ben during my second year at Wolf Mountain and knew that when the next semester started, I would go where he was working. There were multiple reasons for my leaving Wolf Mountain, but I readily admit that Ben was the biggest one.
He was working at Ironwood, and so that’s where I went. After 2 years away from home, I came back and worked in the school that I graduated from.
After Ben and I got engaged, we began planning a wedding and turning in our application to be a part of Ministry Bound (a program within the Ironwood camp that teaches you more in depth about the camping ministry).
During last March and after we had already turned in our Ministry Bound application, we began to suggest the idea of stepping out of the camping ministry for a year. I’d been having second thoughts for a long time. I had been in camp all my life.
I mean, I graduated high school and went to work at another camp! It was camp, camp, camp. My next logical steps always brought me to the camping ministry. It started to bother me that I was still in camp after growing up at one all my life.
But even more confusing was the fact that I had enjoyed so much about the Christian camping ministry, but nagging feelings always came with it.
Was I only in camp because I wasn’t brave? Was I only doing it because it was familiar? Was life outside of camp something I should pursue? Needless to say, I became really, really confused.
Ben and I were uncertain that Ministry Bound was the next right step for us. We had so many questions and various concerns. We sought counsel, conversed with each other, and laid out options. It wasn’t that we wanted to completely shut the door on camping ministry, but we needed to step out of it in order to make a committed decision to step fully in.
As I said before, March was an extremely hard month! Making this next step decision wasn’t black and white. We wanted to do the right thing, but it was all so intricate.
A couple weeks before my surgery, we finally decided to step out of the camp ministry for one year, which would allow us time away from the hustle and bustle to examine ourselves and discover together the kind of ministry we wanted to pursue.
We got married, honeymooned, rested, painted, decorated, got a puppy, searched for a church, made new friends, spent time with family, and learned how to be still and enjoy a quieter lifestyle.
During this time, I was able to grow as an individual, discover things about myself that long-since needed changing, and come to conclusions about my heart that had been submerged in noise for far too long. This year was exactly what I needed!
Every now and then we would ask each other—So, what do you think about camp? We’d always talk back and forth about the pros and cons. By the end of most those conversations, we didn’t feel any closer to a decision. Although bit by bit, we were making headway.
There were two times that I can really say were turning points for me. One of those times happened in October. A friend of mine was asking about camp, so I sent her website links and began telling her all about it. During that conversation, I realized how passionate I was about the ministry.
The other time happened late at night. The question came up again–What do you think about camp? By the end of the conversation, we were both excited. And I was so excited!
Now, we were asking different questions. Is this the right step? Should we commit to this ministry? Everything in me said yes.
Even the possibility of being unable to do childcare again didn’t steer me away from the exciting prospect of camping ministry. I knew I could use my whole life for God in this way. I wanted to jump in and help in whatever way I could! But of course, I have a sensible husband who doesn’t concrete plans during the early, early hours of the morning.
So, we let it sit for awhile. We didn’t talk about it often, but we thought about it individually. We wanted to make our final decision by February, but found we had made our decision certain over Christmastime
We had barely told anyone about it, knowing that we needed to call the director of Wolf Mountain before spreading the news. We weren’t sure if the camp would be able to let us serve right way. In January, we called and made everything final.
They needed us! They wanted us! And the most exciting news of all was that I’d be able to work with the children again! That was such a gift, because I really had no idea where they would need me to serve.
I knew that my 2-year history as the the camp’s child care worker didn’t guarantee me anything. After all, I’ve been gone for a couple of years, and there are plenty of individuals who can do that job well and love those kiddos. I was just happy knowing that I could still be a small part of their lives even if I couldn’t directly work with them.
But oh how much better and wonderful it was to hear that they needed me in child care again! I was ecstatic. As cliche as it sounds, it was a dream come true for me. I definitely didn’t have that dream as a child, but God has a way of planting dreams and desires in us that He knows will play into real life.
My husband and I are looking forward to moving in May, especially since we know this is exactly where we will be able to serve God with our absolute fullest. You can serve God anywhere, anyplace, anytime—-and it is quite wonderful to know that the anywhere, anyplace, anytime for us includes Wolf Mountain Christian Camp!
Stepping out of the camping ministry was just what needed to happen, in order for us to commit now with so much dedication and excitement. The decision last March was difficult and confusing, but now that I’m able to look back and see it all clearly—I’m so thankful for it.
I’m no longer confused. I no longer have second thoughts about working in this ministry long-term. I know that the decision to commit to camping ministry doesn’t lack courage, and that I’m doing exactly what God would have us do together for Him. And I’m ecstatic that this childcare dream of mine is coming true. It barely even had time to stay a dream!
God gave my dream a yes.
We will have a new place to call home.
And we can’t wait to get started.