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An Unexpected Rest

September 22nd, 2014

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An Unexpected Rest

by TJ Wilson

My husband Corbin came home one day last fall and told me that he signed us up for a weekend in the Spring of 2014 at Laity Lodge Family Camp. As our typical spring schedule clicked through my mind, I simply smiled and said, “Sure, sounds great,” thinking it was a nice, but unrealistic gesture for our family to get away at such a busy time of year.

I’d heard of Laity Lodge before, a camp birthed from the H. E. Butts Family Foundation in the rolling Texas Hill Country, and in fact some good friends who work for Laity Lodge had begged us to attend the new family camp facility even before construction was completed.

Our friends kept telling us we needed to get to the new facility and experience it. “Amazing, incredible,” they said. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them, but I wasn’t fully convinced. We’ve taken part in various camps and retreats before, and have experienced some fantastic properties with fantastic people. Perhaps out of loyalty to those camps we already have ties with, I didn’t feel the need to start again at an entirely new camp.

So I kept the Family Camp date penciled in on my calendar, but felt sure that as the weekend inched closer it would drift away like a ballon let loose into a gusty wind. But even as our commitments threatened and the calendar filled, Corbin held to our Laity Lodge weekend like an unwavering anchor. Even when both of our boys’ baseball teams announced the first tournaments to be played that weekend, Corbin held his ground. And when our older son’s select basketball team advanced to the championship game for that weekend, he never flinched. I felt quite irritated with my husband, thinking that surely he understood that a road trip to the Hill Country that particular weekend simply added stress instead of relieving stress.

Regardless, we all followed Corbin’s lead and threw our bags in the car – rather grudgingly – Friday afternoon to head out for Headwaters. Our younger girls were excited about Family Camp, but the boys and I silently stared out the car windows. I kept asking myself, “Will this really be worth all the effort?”

After a simple four-hour drive from Fort Worth, the boys and I perked up when Corbin exited the highway and followed the signs telling us to literally drive into a river. “Dad, seriously? Are you sure you’re supposed to be driving into the water?” To access the camps, we drove about a mile in a couple of inches of water through the bottom of a gorgeous rock canyon. The scenery captivated us, instantly turning our hearts towards adventure.

Pulling into Family Camp at dusk, we drove up the main road where a handful of smiling staff greeted us, handing out cabin assignments and directions. We hadn’t even parked the car when someone called out our name – an old Young Life friend who brought their family for the weekend. What a precious gift to reconnect with these friends – and to feel connected right off the bat. Relishing in the camp’s scenic beauty, the incredible facilities, and the enthusiasm of the staff, it took about two minutes before baseball, basketball, and birthday parties back in Fort Worth vanished from our thoughts.

Some highlights:
- Scenery. Laity Lodge Family Camp’s placement in the canyon is remarkable. Since we arrived at dusk, we woke the next morning astounded with the commanding, striated cliffs rising out of a clear waters of the Frio River just feet from our cabin.

- The amenities. The Austin stone dining hall, cabins, meeting rooms… just superb. One of our favorite family get-aways is the Hyatt Lost Pines resort in Bastrop, TX. It’s got nothing on Laity Lodge Family Camp.

- Worship. Biblically based sessions for parents and for kids in the morning, and zany yet meaningful worship times each evening.

- Activities. I most enjoyed keeping up with my 14-year-old on a dirt bike. Well, trying to, anyway. Our boys woke up early and fished and swam. Swam – in the Frio in early March – no thank you. And paddle boarded and kayaked. Even in March, the weather proved warm enough to put the water slide to plenty of use.

- Guests and Families. Letting our kids run wild and knowing they were safe, and that they were with great families. Really sweet kids. The kind who look you in the eye and smile and greet you with a clear conscience. Stimulating conversations at mealtimes and throughout the weekend with like-minded parents navigating their families well.

- History. Learning more about the H. E. Butt family, their foundation, and the history of programs in the Canyon. Amazing what God can do through one family’s vision, sacrifice and generosity.

The people, people, people. More than the amenities, the gorgeous setting, the activities… the mostly volunteer, mostly college staff who took a weekend away from school to serve us were tremendous.

- A weekend to breathe. I (obviously) wouldn’t have believed it, but our Family Camp retreat was the most restful weekend. Probably the best weekend our family shared all spring. All four of our kids got in the car Sunday begging to stay, asking when we could come back. Even our oldest on the way home said, “Mom and Dad, I can’t lie, Laity Lodge Family Camp was waaay better than I thought it would be.”

Incidentally, back home, both of our baseball tournaments were rained out, and we made it back to Fort Worth in time for that championship basketball game. But even if we’d have missed it all, it was certainly worth every bit of effort – truly a family weekend that provided more than I could have asked for or imagined.

Meet the Interns!

September 19th, 2014

 

Meet the Interns!

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So hopefully, you’ve had a chance to meet our new interns, Maryn Swierc and Forrest Parks. But you might be wondering what it is that they do? Well, besides fanning Emily with palm fronds and fetching her cool beverages in the Texas heat, here’s a few things they tackle in their spare time:image

  • Develop and support program with skit, games, late night events, etc.
  •  Join the team in recruiting staff for both weekends and summer
  •  Visit and care for seasonal (college) staff on their college campuses
  •  Overall, get their hands dirty learning and working on all the things that make camp happen!

So when you see them at Camp during this coming year, grab an Icee from the Outpost and get to know them. And thank them for being the awesome interns that they are!

Meet Forrest Parks!

September 18th, 2014

 

Getting to Know You: Forrest Parks

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Tell me a little bit about yourself, whatever background you’d like to share.
I’m the third of four kids and I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. I just graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Industrial Distribution.

This was my second summer in the Canyon. Last summer I was the Transportation Director for Youth Camp in Echo Valley. I heard about LLYC through my roommate Joe Shaw who was the previous transportation director. He said I would love it. That job involved things like maintaining the trucks, assigning them out, coordinating parking for parents and buses, and transporting kids to activities.

Interestingly, my degree helped me out with my role in the Canyon the past two summers. A lot of Industrial Distribution is about operational management, so it was cool to see the way it plays into the operations side of camping ministry.
After camp finished, I spent some time with family back in Atlanta, and then I moved to Kerrville in August.

So, what exactly did you do for us at Family Camp this past summer?
I was the Activities Director, in charge of assigning counselors to facilitate activities, making sure everything was ready to go for the families, and maintaining equipment and supplies. We also tried using Sign Up Genius this year to allow families to sign up for activities ahead of time. I got to help facilitate a few adventure rec activities as well – alpine tour, rock wall, zip line, etc. I also helped out coordinating additional activities like the late night stuff.

What excites you about working for Family Camp?
I’ve developed a heart for camping ministry over the past couple years and I am trying to see where that’s going – if it’s career long or just a couple years. Being a part of Canyon programs the past couple of summers and observing the mission and how the directors went about it, I wanted to be on board carrying that out.

I love that Headwaters is still a little new, and we are still figuring out the best practices. I also appreciate the holistic view and mission of the complete family unit. I am excited to grow and think this role will stretch and challenge me. The atmosphere is so different between youth and family. Working with youth is much higher energy, but a lot lower pressure. Kids will go along with just about anything. Families are more easy going, but there is more pressure to please parents and meet their expectations.

If I jumped into your car right now, what kind of music would I hear?
The radio would probably be off. Every now and then I surf some stations. I enjoy all types of music; acoustic folk is my biggest interest right now. But for the most part my radio is off.

What was the last book you read, and did you enjoy it?
Um, I don’t remember . . . I’m not a big reader. It was probably for a sales class. And I didn’t really enjoy it.

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Plain or peanut M&Ms?
Peanut

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
When I was little, my brother and sister said that if you saw a plane at night with blinking lights, it was about to open fire. So for a while, I was scared of planes . . .

Diet coke or coffee or red bull?
Coffee

What’s your favorite treat?
Kit Kat or Reeses

If you could go anywhere in the world for vacation, where would you go?
Colorado. I’m not a huge traveler, but I love the weather and the view in Colorado.

You’re not a big traveler, but you’re pretty far from your family. How’s that been?
It’s hard being away from family, but we siblings have all gone our own way to blaze our own trails. Being at TAMU wasn’t so bad.

Are you close as a family? And what do you think contributed to that?
I’m very close with my siblings. I have two older siblings – a sister and brother – and a younger brother. We don’t always talk, but when we do it’s always good. Growing up, we spent a couple years in a room together. My parents also homeschooled us up to sixth grade, so we were together a lot. The foundation of who I am is my family.

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Fill in the blank: Chocolate is . . .
. . . Rich

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A clown in the circus. I thought walking a tightrope and riding a unicycle was awesome.

Dogs or cats?
Dogs

Favorite kind of ice cream at the Outpost this summer?
Coffee

Morning person or night owl?
Night Owl

If you could share some advice with parents getting ready to come to Camp, what would you say?
Truly vacation. Leave your work at home. Feel like I still see a lot of work here. I truly want them to relax.

Anything else you want to share?
I’m so excited to start in my internship. I’ve already thought of ways to improve from being out at Camp all summer. Living in community in Kerrville will be very different. I know I will grow individually, especially in learning contentment away from friends and comforts I’m used to having.

 

Remembering the Great Things God Has Done

September 11th, 2014

Remember

by Emily Ballbach
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Fall is nearly here! Although Texas weather does not always give us the reminder of a changing season, most of us are at the crossroads of another school year, business decision, or even sending kids to school for the first time. Whatever hustle and bustle you find yourself in, it can be easy to forget all that God has done for us during times of rest, renewal, or seasons of great joy.

There is a Hebrew word in the Old Testament, zakar: (זָכַר), that means “remember.” God used this word repetitively throughout the Old Testament books to call the Israelites to remember his faithfulness and provision and to act out of that “remembering” kind of faith. Although easier said than done, remembering God’s care for us can give us the kind of rest and renewal we seek from him.

Whether at camp with us this summer or spending some quiet time at home, our hope is that you experienced some of God’s comforting, renewing presence this summer. Maybe you enjoyed a reminder of his love during a quiet time of prayer, or perhaps you found him faithful through the love of a friend or family member. Perhaps God gave you a renewed vision for your life or your work. Regardless, as we enter into a new season full of moving parts and potential, let’s all do our best to remember the great things God has done among us this summer, give thanks, and have faith in his continued care.

Emily Ballbach

P.S. One way to remember the blessings of God from our summer at camp is to join us on Instagram and reminisce with fun photos from the summer and weekend camps. Maybe it will jog a happy memory or funny moment you shared with your family and friends this summer!

Meet Maryn Swierc!

September 11th, 2014

Getting to Know You: Maryn Swierc

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We have two amazing new interns working with our Family Camp staff. Today we are excited to introduce you to Maryn Swierc.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, whatever background you’d like to share.
I was born in San Antonio, Texas, grew up in Bulverde, Texas. I just graduated from Trinity University with a BA in Ancient Mediterranean Studies and a minor in Latin and Art History. I also played varsity volleyball while I was there. This past summer was my 12th summer in the Canyon. I attended as a camper for six years, served on work crew and as a counselor at Singing Hills, worked as work crew boss, cook, and counselor at Echo Valley, and as a girls counselor at Headwaters. This past summer I was the Kitchen Director at Headwaters.

My goodness! That’s an exhaustive list of experience. What did you do between leaving the Canyon and coming to work for us in Kerrville?
I was able to go home to Alamo Heights for a little bit, and then I went to Peru and hiked Machu Picchu! In high school I was able to visit London and Paris, and I have been on the Haiti Outbound trip twice, but I had never been to South America.

So, tell us more what it means to be the Kitchen Director at Family Camp?
Wow, it was really hard. You have to manage lots of moving pieces, especially as we are still working out some kinks in being a new facility. I oversaw training the kitchen staff, ensuring completion of all the daily tasks like having the right food each day and abiding by health codes, preparing meals, and managing expectations. It was a huge job, but I grew up a lot in this position. I learned what it means to have total dependence on the Lord, trusting him every single day, especially when the day before left me completely drained. I also learned what it means to be a leader and better understand my strengths and weaknesses.
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What excites you about working for Family Camp?
I love it here! I mean, I’ve spent twelve summers here. I believe the family is the basic social unit of society, so ministering to families is taking care of society. Ministering to families has the potential to solve a lot of problems. I’ve enjoyed working with kids, and now I’m excited about the opportunity to focus on the family as a whole.

I planned on applying for the internship because it’s a great learning program. Plus I would be working with people who I know and love, and who love me back. I don’t know what I want to do in life, but I have time to figure it out.

What do you enjoy doing outside of working for Family Camp?
I love traveling, writing, being active and outdoors, and exploring other cultures. I love learning and finding something that is important to me, in whatever it is that I do. I also enjoy trying new restaurants and eating good food.

What drew you to be an Ancient Mediterranean Studies major?
When I was in my freshman year at Trinity University, I had the worst GPA I’d ever had. I realized I just didn’t like the classes I was taking. My second semester I took art history and really enjoyed it. I chose my degree because of that. And it helps that I love Latin. Really, I love words. Choosing a certain word can have so much meaning. I like picking out the Latin meanings and roots of words when I hear them.

If I jumped into your car right now, what kind of music would I hear?
I only have one CD: The Great Gatsby soundtrack … but I haven’t listened to that in six months. I listen to all types of music — country, pop, Texas country, indie, oldies, ’90s alternative. If I like the song, I like the song.

What was the last book you read, and did you enjoy it?
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. We read it in a Creative Writing class last semester. I really enjoyed it; he’s a great writer. I just love literature.

imagePlain or peanut M&Ms?
Peanut.

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Well, when I was a freshman in college I was watching a volleyball game. During the national anthem and the introduction of players, I tripped on the way up the bleachers and got a laceration on my shin. I thought I was going to die, and then … I fainted. They had to bring in a stretcher, take me away by ambulance, and I had to get stitches. But I played on it later that night!

Diet Coke, coffee or Red Bull?
Coffee.

What’s your favorite treat?
Well, I’m gluten and dairy-free, but it would be cinnamon Chex mixed with chocolate Chex and bananas. Or gluten-free super crispy toast with peanut butter, banana, honey, and cinnamon.

Fill in the blank: Chocolate is …
… A gift from the good Lord.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A brain surgeon. And then I realized I wasn’t good at science.

imageDogs or cats?
Dogs.

Favorite treat from the Outpost?
Diet Coke.

Morning person or night owl?
Morning person, as long as no one talks to me.

Do you have any advice for families as they prepare to come to Camp?
Do everything you want to do, but take some time to chill together. Sit on the porch. Go on a walk. It’s so pretty in the Canyon; don’t miss it.

Anything else you want to share?
I’m excited to begin my internship. I feel like I have good ideas, and I am looking forward to fostering more creativity and having the opportunity to implement it. I’m also excited for a schedule that’s different and to feel like an adult. And being done at the end of the day and not having homework!

 

Photos courtesy of Maryn Swierc, Mary Vanderbloemen, and Family Camp

Parenting a Multi-Racial Family

September 4th, 2014

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Parenting a Multi-Racial Family

by Stacy Conner

Stacy Conner is an amazing mom of five gorgeous kids. She parents intentionally to ensure they all feel well-loved, and she sees the different races in her family as a welcomed opportunity to talk about her heart for adoption. I think one key to Stacy’s ease with parenting a multi-racial family is her ability to not take offense and her desire to have open conversations that engage people, rather than issues. We are happy to share with you a short visit with Stacy.

Tell me a little bit about your family.
We have five kids: Jack (11), Trent (8), Raina (7), Ellie (6), and Jonah (4). We live in Fort Worth, Texas, and love it! As a family, we love to travel, play games, go swimming, go to the park, go out to eat, ride bikes … really anything outside. :)

Jack is our only biological child. Trent is actually our nephew who we have been raising since he was three. Raina, Ellie, and Jonah were all adopted through foster care. Raina and Ellie are biological sisters, which is super special for them to have that connection.

As a multi-racial family, how do you handle it when people are insensitive to that  whether intentionally or unintentionally? How do you walk your kids through that?
I honestly can’t think of a time that I have been offended by another person because of my children’s different races. We do get lots of stares, but since there are a lot of us, we would probably get that anyway! Multiple strangers have asked me if I run a daycare … that always makes me laugh. People are just curious, and in my experience have been very kind and encouraging. We get lots of encouraging words from strangers. I’m always thankful for those! Being a multi-racial family has also opened lots of doors to talk about our passion for adoption. If our kids looked like us, people would probably assume they were biological. I love conversations that transpire because of my kids.

How have you discussed race in your family, and what would you say are the major points you try to teach your kids about it?
Our kids are still pretty young, so race hasn’t been a major issue yet. Raina (who is African-American) definitely notices and loves it when we are around other people that “look like her.” We also have talked a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr and all he did for racial freedom. That means a lot to us since our kids wouldn’t be able to be our kids without the pioneering efforts of him and many others. We also intentionally live in a very racially diverse neighborhood. We believe it’s important for our kids to have daily interaction with others who look like them.image

How do you help your kids walk through having to explain to other people why they look different than the rest of their family?
Raina is our kiddo who is most aware that she looks different from myself and my husband. She loves it when we find other black friends who have white parents. I have found that other kids are usually the ones who ask about this (Is she your mom? Why is she white? :)) Adoption has always been talked about in our family. So our kids know that we believe the Lord chose for us to be a family even though we aren’t all the same color. I’m sure as they get older this will come up more. For now it hasn’t been a big deal. I’m really grateful that adoption is common enough that we have lots of friends with mixed race families.

What do you and your husband do to help your kids feel comfortable in your home and 100% a part of the family?
We try to figure out what makes each one of our kids feel loved and safe. It is different for each one, so we have to be super intentional in trying to meet those needs. One of ours is really good at letting us know when he needs time with just us, and when he says something we try to make that happen. We also try to regularly “date” our kids. I think we would do this this even if we had five biological kids. With so many, it’s important to us to really know them and what makes them tick. A lot of times, this is done through one-on-one time, even if that is just taking one with me to run errands. It doesn’t have to be something super fancy and planned to make them feel special.

Tearing Down the Walls

August 21st, 2014

Diversity and race are sensitive topics in the news these days, and our children are likely to have many questions as they hear bits and pieces of news and opinions. We’ve been talking about diversity and race, and this week our friend Deidra Riggs shares some thoughts with us on how to address it in our families and our community.

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Tearing Down the Walls

by Deidra Riggs

Over the years, I’ve had some of the best conversations with people about diversity and race, particularly as it plays out in the North American church. At some point in the conversation, people often say something like, “I’ve wanted to talk about this so many times, but I never knew how to get started. I’m always afraid I’ll offend someone.”

It’s true. For many people, conversations about diversity and race often fall into the same “off-limits” category as conversations about politics, sex, and religion. But I am foolish enough to believe Ephesians 2:15. In fact, I’ve adopted that verse as a mantra for my life: “He (Jesus) tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance.” (MSG)

Race is one of those walls we build up in the Body of Christ, and we use it to keep one another at a distance. Sadly, the church in North America seems to be lagging behind when it comes to tearing down that wall for good. While we have made some strides, more than fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first made the rest of us aware of this sobering fact, Sunday morning at eleven o’clock remains the most segregated hour in America.

I think we can do better. In fact, I believe we are compelled by scripture to roll up our sleeves and get busy tearing down that wall. The Bible tells us the rest of the world will know we are Christians when they see the love we have for each other, and I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate that love than by stepping outside our comfort zones.

By now, you’ve probably figured out that simply acknowledging God desires something better for us doesn’t mean the road to “better” will always be smooth and easy. The first few times around, conversations about diversity and race do feel awkward and touchy – maybe even a bit messy. We make mistakes, and sometimes people get offended. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort.

If the topics of diversity and race are important to you, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. I pray these thoughts help ease your anxiety about opening up a conversation about race around your dinner table, in your church, and with people in your community.

Celebrate Diversity
Teach your children and encourage those in your sphere of influence to recognize, acknowledge, and celebrate diversity. Mellody Hobson in her Ted Talk invites us to be color brave, not color blind. When we choose color blindness, we diminish the richness of God’s creation, and we render invisible the unique cultural, racial, and ethnic stories of those in our world who don’t look like us. We are all the same in many ways, but we are also different, and it’s our differences that reflect God’s masterful creativity in the world.

Invite People Over
Every now and then, take a look at the places you and your family spend your time. In the places you frequent—after-school activities, book clubs, congregations—do the majority of the people look like you? When you invite people to your dinner table, do the demographics in your home change at all? If you find your world to be fairly homogenous with regard to race and ethnicity, humbly ask God to expand your territory. You’ll be surprised to see how quickly he answers that prayer!

Love Hopes the Best
Sometimes, even in thoughtful conversations with others about diversity and race, we end up getting our feelings hurt. Someone says something that offends us, or they say something with which we disagree. Often, the first response in situations like these is to run for cover and never return. But in these moments it’s important to remember the ultimate goal: tearing down a wall that was never meant to be there in the first place. So while the statement may have been offensive, chances are good there was no ill intent. Rather than disengaging from the conversation because you’ve been offended or shrinking away because of embarrassment, take a breath and ask for clarification or, if necessary, offer an apology and try again.

There may be no easy way to get beyond the awkward feelings that come with talking about race and diversity the first few times you try it. There is no guarantee you won’t be offended or that you won’t offend. But trust me when I tell you the conversation gets easier the more you give yourself over to it.

Little by little, when you approach the conversation with a heart surrendered to the Holy Spirit, you’ll begin to see incremental changes in the world around you—first in your very own heart, and then at your dinner table, in your church, and in your community. I pray God’s richest blessings on you as you welcome him into this part of your life, your heart, your family, and your church. May he be glorified as you invite him, again, to tear down the walls.

Deidra Riggs lives with her husband in Nebraska. She has two adult children, one farm dog, and proudly professes an undying devotion to disco music, Motown, and long bike rides beneath the wide open sky. She is the managing editor of our sister site, The High Calling. You can read her most recent thoughts on diversity on her blog.

Stay Connected This Fall

August 12th, 2014

Well, it’s hard to believe that only six weeks ago we were talking about training our staff for the summer. Now, here we are talking about what an incredible summer it has been!

Our staff came from all around Texas and even from as far as the island of Turks and Caicos. This group of young men and women were amazing in their service to our families.

You might think that at the end of the summer season everyone could take a big break. However, Family Camp offers retreats throughout the year.

So, as you prepare your family and kiddos for the upcoming school year, we are preparing for the upcoming fall Family Camp season, and our team could not be more excited. We’re looking forward to more great times enjoyed during fall’s cooler weather!

The changes that come in the fall are a great reminder of the presence of God as the Canyon begins to display beautiful colors. Family Camp is a great way to stay connected with your family throughout the busy school year, and we really look forward to serving you during this beautiful season.

From all of us here at Family Camp: We hope you had a great summer, and we look forward to hosting you this fall. Please know that, regardless of whether or not you have the opportunity to join us for a weekend program, we continue to pray for you and your family each and every day.

Letting His Love Increase

July 29th, 2014

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Letting His Love Increase

by Dr. Helen Fagan

“Mom, did you know things that don’t make sense aren’t always bad for you?” proclaimed my then 12-year-old son. Jonathan’s keen sense of justice and his passion for those different than him have always been something that caused great tension between us. I worried, as all moms do, about the influence of the things I didn’t understand that were attracting the attention of my sons.

Teaching my children to love people from all walks of life was always a priority for me. But I didn’t realize how difficult it would be until my sons began interacting with those different than them. For most adults, engaging children in appreciating differences can be a mind-juggling and tongue-twisting activity. Especially for those of us who have unexplored issues of bias and prejudice. The best way to explore those issues is to begin by engaging in some honest self-reflection around this question: who wouldn’t I want my children to bring home as their future spouse? The answer to this question can reveal a lot about what we are unconsciously teaching our children. While our words have power in shaping the views and beliefs of our children–especially about themselves–our children also learn by watching us.

At times, we parents get so busy raising our children that we forget God, our Father, is raising us, his children. When I began asking myself the question, who wouldn’t I want my sons to bring home as their future spouse, I realized I had some wounds I needed to hand over to God. My wounds were not my sons’ wounds. While I never spoke of these wounds to my sons, my actions (specifically my irrational fear of those different than me) were teaching them otherwise. The healing took time and intentional effort on my part. I faced my wounds in a safe environment with the help of a therapist and later through guided reflective journaling. This journey has helped me grow up in profound ways I could never have imagined, and in the process of growing emotionally healthy and mature, I have been able to open the door to conversations and activities that encouraged an appreciation for differences with our sons.

When Jonathan was 21, he accompanied my husband on a mission trip to Equatorial Guinea, Africa, to build a school. “I’m going to the motherland,” he shared enthusiastically with his friends. I was quite surprised. Being his mother from Iran, I was certain he had misunderstood something, yet it delighted me that he was excited about the unknown. Our youngest son Alan was in a relationship with a young girl from a different race, and that thrilled me. We also had opened our home to a student from South Korea who lived with us for almost five years and now considers us his American family. All of these things were signs that God had “created in me a new heart,” and it showed in the actions and words of our sons.

Was it difficult? Definitely!
Was it worth it? Most assuredly!

I’ve learned that in order for me to effectively live out John 3:30 (“he must increase, but I must decrease”), I need to give the Lord access to my wounds to decrease my assumptions, biases, and prejudices. That is the only way to change, allowing the love of God to increase in me and through me.

Helen is a wife and mother, ambassador, teacher, student, writer, consultant and cultural navigator whose passion is to reach the full potential of what God intends for her life and to touch the lives of others so they may gain the confidence to live up to their highest and best selves. Visit her website at http://helenfagan.com/.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Cloud Photography

The Definition of Outrageous Hospitality

July 17th, 2014

What is Outrageous Hospitality?
Laity Lodge Family Camp defines it as: Sharing the love of Christ without using words by sacrificially putting others’ needs in front of your own.

How does this look?
When training our staff, I frequently refer to Philippians 2:1-5  as a reminder to “not only look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” With this in mind, Family Camp staff is looking for every opportunity to serve families. This means anticipating needs all the way from having a high chair ready for a young family to offering your chair to a grandparent.

Why is Outrageous Hospitality so important to Family Camp Staff?
Jesus has shown his outrageous love for us by sacrificing himself to meet our need of salvation. Putting families first is the way our staff models Christ’s example. For a two-year-old, this might look like a staff member lovingly holding her hand, playing a game, or making a craft with her. For parents, Outrageous Hospitality means someone cooking, serving, and doing the dishes for them so that they can enjoy focused time in conversation around the dinner table.

Every detail during a family’s stay at camp is designed to help them enjoy spending time together. In the words of Phillip Phillips, we want to “make this place your home.”