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Getting to Know You: Katie Cooney and Stacie O’Shea

April 10th, 2015

As we head into Spring and graduation season, we like to honor some of our college seniors by highlighting them here on our blog. We’ll get to see some of them this summer, but others are already jumping into the “real world.” Regardless, they have loved and served our families well during their time with us, so we want to be sure you know who they are. Many of these interviews were completed last summer, but here’s a look back at our LLFC Seniors.

Getting to Know You: Katie Cooney and Stacie O’Shea

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Tell me a little bit about yourselves.
Katie: I’m from Dallas, Texas (Richardson). I like running, doing crafts, painting, and being outside.
Stacie: I’m from College Station. I love baking, anything outside – hiking, walking, etc. I love being outdoors.

Where do you go to school, when will you graduate, what’s your major?
K: Texas A&M, Graduated December 2014 with a major in Psychology
S: Texas A&M, Graduating either in August or December of 2015, with a major in Community Health

Any idea what your post-graduation plans will be?
K: In the fall of 2014, I will be working at Still Creek Ranch in College Station, and then I will go full-time once I graduate. At Still Creek, we work with kids pulled from crisis situations who are dealing with neglect and abandonment. I’ll be volunteer coordinating with community, finding new ways to get people involved. And I will also do relief work with the girls side, staying with the girls two days a week to relieve house parents. The Ranch has kids from ages 10-17 in three different houses. I’ll be working in the 13-16 year-old’s house.
S: I originally was doing nursing, and I just moved into Community Health. I don’t have a specific thing I am set on doing, but I really love health. I don’t want to do government, but maybe health promotion, working with kids, or a health intern at camp. My dream job is to cook healthy meals for families with working parents, providing an affordable, good meal.

So, what exactly did you do for us this summer at Family Camp?
We were the Work Crew Bosses. We were responsible for the spiritual development for the girls, preparing and cleaning up the Ranch House and the kitchen, prepping and cleaning up for each meal, setting things out, and then fellowshipping with the ten high school Senior girls on our crew. We prepared a bible study for them for the summer, starting with creation and going through having an eternal perspective. Every day we go through that, and every two weeks spending one-on-one time with each girl. We also plan fun activities in the afternoon because faith is fun; it doesn’t always have to be serious! We really wanted to set an example for their relationship, in working as partners, acting as community (being vulnerable and working well together). Our relationship had to be healthy so that our relationship with the girls could be healthy.

When did you start working in the Canyon?
S: I worked some weekend family camps, and at Singing Hills two years ago
K: I’ve worked at Echo Valley in Canyon Club and as a counselor; last summer was my first summer at Family Camp

What do you love about working for Family Camp?
K: I loved the relaxed atmosphere, and it’s a smaller group of staffers. It’s not as intimidating to get to know people. I also enjoy getting to see families interacting, even from a background perspective. It’s been cool to be around them despite not having direct interaction.
S: My favorite thing is the small and close atmosphere for staff. I know everyone’s name, which is not typical. I also love the families, even though we don’t really interact as much with them. It’s cool to know we are providing the opportunity for families to sit down and interact together. We talked with our crew about meal time being communion and a blessed time. I just really like allowing families to be together by relieving them of their normal responsibilities.

What have you learned through working at Family Camp that you think you’ll carry with you into the rest of life?       KatyStacie2
K: I have learned a lot from working in such a close partnership; it’s sort of glimpse of marriage, learning to be vulnerable, trust one another, depend on one another, to love on best days and worst days. It was cool to experience it in a small way. Also, we got to see what it is like being a parent, taking care of and managing ten girls, loving them no matter what, showing patience, giving hard love when needed, and being selfless with our time.
S: I learned a lot about leadership. Our attitude was going to be reflected in the girls, so if we came to work in a grumpy mood, it will flow out of them as well. Being a leader is being like-minded as Christ. We have to be vulnerable, even with silly things, and we communicate so much. Our perspective will be their perspective. Also, I’ve never worked so close with someone for so long. Like Katie said, I learned about parenthood. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we are four years older, and those are four significant years. So I learned about being patient with the Lord as well.
K: We wanted them to grow spiritually as well, which was at times an adjustment when we were expecting them to be in a certain place and having to realize that God has a plan, and that these might be the first introductions to this concept.

How are you spending the rest of your summer (2014)?
S: I have a brother who is about to have a little girl and a sister who is getting married. I’ll get to have some rest and then do small flexible jobs to free her to help sister and babysit
K: I’ll be between Dallas and College Station, moving in and visiting the Still Creek Girls. Plus our family is going on vacation. I made the second half of summer goal-less so I could just rest.

If I jumped into your car right now, what kind of music would I hear?
S: All Sons and Daughters
K: Well, my CD/tape player doesn’t work, but I love Penny and Sparrow and All Sons and Daughters.

What was the last book you read, and did you enjoy it?
S: The Hobbit, I loved it. It was great; it was my first time reading it.
K: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I loved it; I learned a lot.

What is the funniest or strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
S: A vulture flew in front of a car in front of me.
K: Yeah, that vulture flew into MY car that I was riding in and hit the windshield.

Diet coke or coffee?
S: Coffee
K: Diet Coke

What’s your favorite treat?
S: Really good coffee
K: Peanut butter with anything

Best camp story from this summer?
S:  Our all PC and Work Crew Worship time. Everyone was really touched by it.
K: One of our days off we spent together at someone’s lake house. We rode rope swings together and someone got a terrible picture of me with a goofy face and a crazy double chin. We joked about putting it on a camp shirt. It provided lots of laughter.

Fill in the blank: Chocolate is ….
S: Delicious.
K: Sinful.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
S: Teacher.
K: I had no big aspirations, but probably a dancer.

Dogs or cats?
S: Dogs
K: Neither

Favorite study snack?
S: Coffee?
K: Kettle corn popcorn

Morning person or night owl?
K: Morning
S: Morning

Advice for families who are preparing to come to camp?
K: Let Camp serve you. As much you are able. Let the counselors take your kids. Trust that they want to serve you in whatever way that you need.
S: Don’t be afraid to seek out community here. It’s cool when you see families sitting together and discussing similar struggles and things. People get caught up in trying to be a perfect family, and when you can share your brokenness it can be so encouraging. Come for your family, but know there can be community found here.
K: So true. I remember one session, a group of Dads met on the back porch and talked about how to be spiritual leaders and fathers every morning, even how hard it is, too. Be vulnerable.

If you enjoyed meeting Katy and Stacie, meet more of our staff here!

Spiritual Disciplines: Solitude is Hard

March 27th, 2015

Solitude is Hard

by Emily Ballbach

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Solitude is hard. Being alone can harken deep thoughts, and sometimes anxieties rise to the surface. It can call attention to the things in our hearts that we’d rather sweep under our soul’s thick rug. Or we may encounter a version of God that feels untouchable, distant, or vacant. However, solitude forces our distracted mind to focus beyond our current attention deficits and practice paying attention to one thing only: the God of the universe. The discipline of solitude is not often practiced in our hurried, modern lives because it requires our time, an abiding practice, and a focus beyond what many of us assume we can handle.

During one season of my life, solitude became a request God asked of me–a command for me to obey. I had the privilege of studying abroad in Israel during my time in seminary. If you have traveled for an extended period of time, you may understand the kind of aloneness that can follow wanderlust. Spending an extended time away in a very foreign land harkened such a time of solitude for me.

One day I listened to a sermon recorded during a chapel service held at my alma mater. The gifted preacher Jill Briscoe shared a thought that has sunk deeply into my mind ever since. Jill began by talking about the life of king David, the Goliath slayer, and his profound impact on the world and his kingdom legacy. Then she shared that David came to such a position through immense amounts of time spent alone, and she explained how he handled his solitude. I’ll never forget what she said next. “David sat on the steps of his soul and let God stretch out the sides of it.” In other words, David allowed God to stretch him: deepening his grasp for God, opening him up to be able to receive people and God’s grace, and enlarging his soul to be big enough for God to move and people to be changed. Essentially, in his solitude, David sat long enough in reflection about the state of his soul, that God was able to change it to make him more like God and more settled in God’s grace and love.

David was not the only Old Testament figure to be met and changed by God in solitude. Moses was a leader in the making during his solitude experience with God. In her book “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership,” author Ruth Haley Barton discusses the life of Moses and the importance of solitude for any leader to be effective. She says, “Solitude will do its good work whether we know what we are doing or not.” In solitude we might pray, simply listen, or go for a walk alone and hope to hear from God. Regardless of the practice, showing up for solitude seems to be enough on it’s own. Ruth remarks, “In solitude we stop believing our own press. We discover that we are not as good as we thought, but we are also more than we thought.”

My time of solitude in Israel offered me a renewed sense of God’s presence, providing comfort and grace. It also gave me the time and space to realize that God was making me more like Him simply because I shared my time with him more intentionality. There was life and freedom to be found in it.
When we take time to be alone with God, He is able to do immeasurably more than we can even imagine. We all have the opportunity to receive His grace in our solitude, despite the different ways we may express or experience it with God. The discipline is not always easy, and finding time in our hurried schedules might feel unreasonable. With creativity, though, it is still possible. Parents of small children may require a spouse supporting some time alone, or maybe one could find time alone in the car, traveling from place to place running errands or commuting to work. These days, I take time each morning to sit before the Lord in prayer, or I go for walk and ask God to walk with me. Occasionally, I use my 30-minute morning commute to play some worship tunes and pray through a particular thought I am having.

Solitude can be met in our measured practice or forced by our present circumstances, far out of our control. Regardless of how we find ourselves in solitude, what we do with it is all that really matters. My time in Israel, a season of some solitude, became a defining time – a refining time – and a blessing I will not quickly forget. I imagine that is true for many of us who attempt to let God “stretch out the sides of our soul.” Though the practice is hard, the blessing is ten-fold.

This week we are exploring spiritual disciplines in our families – why they are important and what they could look like, as a part of the greater conversation at our sister site, The High Calling. We’d love for you to join the conversation on our Facebook page or read all of the posts in this series here.

 

Spiritual Disciplines: Inviting Jesus In

March 25th, 2015

Inviting Jesus In

by Amy Rowe

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As the mother of two young children, I long for them to know the same Jesus who profoundly healed and changed me. Knowing about Jesus is easy enough to cover through Bible reading and Sunday School; but I also want them to know him – to taste and see that he is good – and to experience his presence. How do we invite Jesus into our days in meaningful ways, so that my children experience his loving presence as a tangible reality?

As I contemplate these questions, the phrase that I return to is “invite Jesus in.” This idea acknowledges that he is real and present, allowing him room to move in our lives and speak truth to us – sometimes with correction, sometimes with guidance, sometimes purely with reassurance of his loving presence. I want to cultivate a discipline of inviting Jesus into our lives in simple, tangible ways. One way we do this in our home is through prayer.

Sanctifying the Ordinary

I invite Jesus into the ordinary, boring stuff of my life as a mother. I often pray simply, “Welcome, Jesus”as I approach dull, repetitive tasks such as laundry and dishes. And while my work remains dull, that simple invitation gives God room to work in me. He uses the insignificance of my work to empty me of my self-importance, and fills that empty space with himself. As he does so, he shifts my heart from resentful duty toward peace, sacredness, and even sometimes a sense of fun. Yes, you read that right; sometimes I have fun doing laundry with Jesus!

Redeeming Meltdowns

One of the most powerful places to invite Jesus into is the emotional intensity of my children after a meltdown. I want them to know that in their most vulnerable and needy moments – when they have behaved horribly, lost control, hurt those around them, and frightened themselves – they are not too much for Jesus. He loves them, forgives them, and is available to help them. Often I must first invite Jesus in myself (a quick “Help, Lord! I’m crazy mad!” will do), so that my words toward my fragile child extend grace and not condemnation. He answers me with overwhelming compassion for my children, and from that place I can then help them invite Jesus into their frustrations: “You were really mad, weren’t you? Did you feel you almost couldn’t help the way you were behaving? I feel like that sometimes, too. That’s how our sin works. That’s why we need Jesus. Let’s ask him for help.”

Short, Frequent, Creative Prayers

My seven-year-old feels uncomfortable with spontaneous prayer; the pressure to perform keeps her mouth clamped firmly shut. On the other hand, my three-year-old waxes endlessly about nonsensical things he wants from God: to find a treasure chest full of chocolate monkeys, to make elephant footprints in the snow, etc. I want prayer to be neither stressful nor pure fantasy for my children, so long ago I scrapped any ideas of lengthy family prayer times.

Instead, we’ve adopted habits of short, scripture-infused prayers throughout the day. Some of these happen at the same time every day. For example, after breakfast I pray Psalm 51:15 with my children:

​Mom: Lord, open our lips,

​Kids: and our mouths shall proclaim your praise.

Likewise, at bedtime we pray Psalm 124:8:

​Mom: Our help is in the name of the Lord,
​Kids: the maker of heaven and earth.

These simple ways help us stay mindful of God’s presence, remember his word, and invite him into the routines of our days. We change the scripture during Lent and Advent, or anytime a prayer begins to feel familiar and stale. Sometimes we sing the words instead.

In addition to these brief prayers, we also pray short unscripted prayers throughout the day, like “Come Lord Jesus” or “Forgive me” or “Wow, thank you!” Spoken in response to the events of our days, they create a habit of experiencing his presence everywhere, so that talking to him becomes natural and instinctive.

Finally, I encourage my kids (and myself) to doodle our prayers, particularly our prayers for others, often by coloring patterns or pictures around people’s names. Coloring gives our hands something to do and helps make prayer multi-sensory, rather than a dry mental exercise.

Whether colored, sung, or cried in desperation, these small prayers of invitation throughout our days are helping to make Jesus’s presence more real and felt in our home.

This week we are exploring spiritual disciplines in our families – why they are important and what they could look like, as a part of the greater conversation at our sister site, The High Calling. We’d love for you to join the conversation on our Facebook page or read all of the posts in this series here.

 

Spiritual Disciplines: Helping Our Kids See in 3D

March 24th, 2015

Helping Our Kids See in 3D

by Amy Thom

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Several mornings ago, I awoke to see our backyard glistening with four inches of snow – a rarity in our city! As my eyes scanned the scene, the verse, ”Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18) rehearsed in my mind. My heart rejoiced as the Lord matched his words to a tangible picture that was being captured by my sight, and later touched, played in, tasted, and enjoyed by my whole family.

I have not always been able to see the beauty of the Lord this way. My favorite means of comprehending and feeling God is through intellectual study and reading. As a result, the material world became hard for me to enjoy. Then God took me through a spiritually dry season. Like a blind person, God strengthened my other senses so that I could  comprehend Him with greater capacity. By God’s mercy, He began to open my eyes to see that I was hurting my family by stripping the joy out of everything and shrinking my family’s capacity to enjoy God! I was even making eating Fruit Loops hard! As my family ate Fruit Loops that Daddy bought, I would silently eat my “homemade granola,” and then recount to them all the evil ingredients that were in Fruit Loops. The truth was I didn’t know how to enjoy them in faith, so I decided it was better to not enjoy them at all. As C.S. Lewis says, “We – or at least I – shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have‘tasted and seen.’ ” I was cutting off the taste buds to savor, the nose to smell, the eyes to take in, and the skin to feel God. I disconnected God’s two-dimensional word, the Bible, from his three-dimensional word, his creation.

But I also knew that if my kids didn’t know God’s word they would be prone to turn what God intended for greater joy into lesser self-centered joys, even the simple things in life. For example, my kids often fight over who sits in the front seat. They have forgotten the joy of serving one another (Phil 2:3) and are trading it for a lesser one, sitting in the front seat. The front seat usually wins, even though it can’t love, comfort, or play with them. That sounds silly doesn’t it? But we do it, too. Giving our kids God’s word allows them to see life as God intended, always aiming for a greater joy in Him.

Our hope is that we as parents cut deep furrows of spiritual habits that God can infuse, rather than leaving our kids in the unplowed fields, blinded to the treasures that are right under their feet. This isn’t easy! It demands that we do it ourselves. We, too, must start listening to God’s word, meditating on it, and memorizing it, so that when life presents itself – whether in pain or pleasure – we can correctly interpret it. As we make those connections between the word and God’s creation, we show our children how to make them as well.

​. . . when we are in pain, friends are a comfort, but having the Holy Spirit remind us that the God of the universe says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5-6) gives a peace that no human can offer.  

​. . . when we eat those delectably sweet, crunchy Fruit Loops, we can confirm,“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth (Psalms 119:103)!

​. . . when we see the beauty of a sunrise we can exclaim… The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalms 19:1)

​. . . when we feel unvalued, we can rejoice… “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they” (Matthew 6:26)?

Jesus died so that we may be set free to love and enjoy God. Let’s not leave our kids blind to the treasures of beholding God in all of life; let’s help them see fully in 3D. Then maybe one day, as they roll in the snow, the Lord will strike their hearts like a clap of thunder that their sins can become white as snow, and awaken them to the joy of Christ.

This week we are exploring spiritual disciplines in our families – why they are important and what they could look like, as a part of the greater conversation at our sister site, The High Calling. We’d love for you to join the conversation on our Facebook page or read all of the posts in this series here.

The Redemptive Purpose of Spiritual Disciplines

March 23rd, 2015

The Redemptive Purpose of Spiritual Disciplines

by Cary Hendricks, Laity Lodge Youth Camp Director

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The longer I have I lived as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am reminded that my faith journey cannot be one of solitude, defined simply by the “strength” of my personal relationship with Jesus. I am not a light bulb that burns brighter as I get closer to the power source of Christ. Or if I am, the worth of the light that burns brightly is only realized in how well it lights the way for others. So I have come to understand the importance of the spiritual disciplines as they propel me to live out my faith journey with, and as a blessing to, others.

In order to embody discipline, we are often required to do and be things that we would rather not. But to live a life that is peppered with spiritual disciplines, obedience is necessary. Most of us are familiar with the story of Abraham and his willingness to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God in obedience to God’s command. The story ends with God dramatically speaking to Abraham at the last moment, stopping him before Isaac is sacrificed. This beautiful Old Testament account of obedience and discipline is not unusual, and it certainly shows willingness on Abraham’s part to do what God has called him to do, rather than what he prefers to do. The ancient Jewish traditions required countless acts of discipline in sacrifices made, prayers offered, and rituals performed, in order to show deep reverence for God. The words of God to Abraham in response to his obedience are breathtaking.

“By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” Genesis 22: 16-18

In his book titled The Mission of God, Christopher Wright captures well the history of human obedience in this story and how God has harnessed it for his good work in the world. Wright states,

“Abraham by his obedience has not qualified to be the recipient of blessing, because the promise of blessing had been given to him already. Rather, the existing promise is reaffirmed but its terms of reference are altered. A promise that previously was grounded solely in the will and purpose of God is transformed so that it is now grounded both in the will of God and in the obedience of Abraham. Theologically this constitutes a profound understanding of the value of human obedienceit can be taken up by God and become a motivating factor in his purposes toward humanity.” (p. 207)

God uses Abraham’s obedience to set in motion his redemptive work in the world. This is what I want in my life. If my obedience to God and my practice of spiritual disciplines are only lived out so that I can get closer to Christ, then I will surely burn out in my efforts. However, if my obedience to God and my practice of spiritual disciplines are lived out in order to make myself available for God’s use in his redemptive work in the world, then I cannot imagine the blessings that will come.

Recently I was reminded of Paul’s encouragement to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Almost all of Paul’s writings deal with the central theme of grace within the gospel of Christ. For Paul, as it should be for all of us, it is a revolutionary thought to be saved by grace rather than works. So when Paul calls us to “work out our salvation,” it may seem contradictory to his other writings and the gospel message as a whole. But consider this: when I work out at the gym, I am not creating new muscles; I am making my existing muscles (as small and undefined as they may be) stronger. I am breaking down muscle tissue so it will grow back even stronger. In a similar way, Paul is calling us to “work out” our salvation through our spiritual disciplines. If we have committed our lives to Christ, then we work on what is already there and, in so doing, allow ourselves to be used by God for his redemptive work in the world.

May we all be a people who live out our spiritual disciplines in obedience to God as a way to “work out our salvation” which has already been granted. In so doing, we also enjoy the adventure of being used by God for his redemptive purposes in our world. What a privilege!

This week, we are exploring spiritual disciplines in our familieswhy they are important and what they could look likeas a part of the greater conversation at our sister site, The High Calling. We’d love for you to join the conversation on our Facebook page or read all of the posts in this series here.

For God So Loved the World

February 17th, 2015

For God So Loved the World

by Denise Stripling

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
The Canyon is flowing with love for you!

Love is in the air, and the LLFC team has been celebrating God’s love through our community outreach partnership camps.  Each year we partner with Good Samaritan Community Services and SAMMinistries to facilitate a Family Camp experience for the families they serve. This program allows families the opportunity to fully experience the H. E. Butt Family Foundation ministry as we spend time caring for our guests. From the moment they arrive, we strive to make them feel supported and comfortable. We start by transporting families downriver aboard our people-mover trailers under the canopy of the nighttime sky. After being guided to their cabins, families are provided a delicious home-cooked meal as the fellowship begins. The mealtime experience provides a great opportunity for the families and staff to get to know one another and share in each others’ lives.

During these past two camps, we celebrated Valentine’s Day together and used that opportunity to celebrate God’s abundant love. Our days were filled with worship, fellowship, and activities that explore the amazing Canyon.  Beautiful weather allowed us to be outdoors and enjoy fishing, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, rock wall climbing, and zip lining. We spent our nights making s’mores by the campfire, staring in amazement at the beautiful Texas sky filled with its bright shining stars that illuminate the Canyon walls, listening to couples share how they met, and hearing stories of how the families enjoyed their activities in the Canyon. Sunday morning we celebrated our Glorious Maker. The time we had been given to fellowship was closed with a video that captured our weekend together.

We were one big happy family, and tears of joy were shed as we said our goodbyes and sent our friends down the river. The experience was powerful for all. Barriers had been removed and memories were forever made in the lives of many. These memories are not just a token but are the true treasure of time spent with one another sharing God’s love for each other.

That is what makes our Canyon so special: “For God so loved the world …”

Theresa Powles Joins the LLFC Team

February 16th, 2015

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We are pleased to announce that Theresa Powles has joined the Foundation. In her new role as Laity Lodge Family Camp Assistant, Theresa will provide support to the LLFC office and team by implementing administrative systems, procedures, and policies and monitoring administrative projects.

Theresa brings many wonderful experiences and qualifications to this position, including twenty years as a customer service professional. She comes to the Foundation from the University of Wyoming, where she was employed from 2003 until moving to Texas at the end of 2014. During her eleven years with the University, Theresa was an Accounting Associate Senior and Helpdesk Supervisor. Theresa was also heavily invested in her church, Harvest Christian Center. She was a children’s teacher for twelve years and a Vacation Bible School volunteer.

If the last name Powles and the University of Wyoming are ringing a bell, there’s a good reason. Theresa is married to Larry Powles, Director of Canyon Operations. Larry and Theresa have two wonderful children, Hunter and Kendall.

When asked to describe her feelings about joining the Foundation, Theresa had this to say, “I guess the one thing I am very excited about is the opportunity to touch others for Christ in such an awesome way, through and in his creation. I love the outdoors but I also love doing office type admin work, so getting to combine the two is really exciting.”

Rusty Freeman Partners With Laity Lodge Family Camp

February 16th, 2015

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We are blessed to have Rev. Dr. Rusty Freeman partner with Laity Lodge Family Camp throughout the 2015 season. Rusty is working in conjunction with The H. E. Butt Family Foundation and Laity Lodge Family Camp by offering spiritual support and guidance to participants and staff.

Rev. Dr. Rusty Freeman, founder of Movement Ministries, is a 7th generation United Methodist ordained elder and has expertise in youth, family, retreat, and camping ministries. Rusty’s gift of empowering leaders and developing systems has resulted in successful ministries and exciting growth.

In 2000, Rusty became the Director of Youth Ministries for the Rio Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church where he averaged 3,000 participants per year at events and involved 350 churches. In 15 years in this ministry, Rusty directed 250 camps and retreats and saw hundreds of young people express a call to ministry and thousands commit their lives to Jesus Christ.

Rusty’s approach is ecumenical in nature with his faith formation coming through Young Life, the United Methodist Church, Campus Crusade, Baylor University, several Baptist Churches, and Laity Lodge. He has served as a youth director, an associate pastor, a senior pastor, a conference speaker and an event planner. Rusty has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Religion from Baylor (1991) and a Masters of Divinity (1996) and Doctor of Ministry (2007) from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Rusty lives in beautiful Marble Falls, Texas, with his lovely wife Lane, a dentist and partner in ministry. He has two awesome kids—Brian who enjoys videography while attending Baylor University, and Bailey a budding artist and basketball player. Rusty is an avid runner, writer, coffee drinker, dog-lover, and follower of Jesus Christ. He shares these thoughts about partnering with the Foundation, “It brings me great pleasure to return to the Foundation. It has been a dream of mine for over 20 years to come back to work for this incredible organization. My family and I are so excited to see what God has in store.”

David Rogers, who has had a collegial relationship with Rusty spanning more than 24 years, offered a message of welcome, “Deborah and I have great confidence in the value that Rusty will bring to the Laity Lodge Family Camp team this year. He has a long history with this organization through the help he provided to Laity Lodge after graduating from Baylor University. He knows our facilities well and has a deep and abiding interest in the value of camp for young people and families. In his leadership role with the Youth Ministries for the Rio Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, he has led more than 55 retreats in the H. E. Butt Foundation Camps. His ministry, pastoral, and coaching expertise will be a huge asset to the Family Camp team and the hundreds of families who will benefit from his presence at Headwaters. We are grateful to the entire Freeman family for stepping up in this important time as we seek a permanent leader for this program.”

Meet Matt Huffman!

January 15th, 2015

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Getting to Know You: Matt Huffman

Tell me a little bit about yourself, whatever background you’d like to share.
I am originally from a small town in Northern Michigan and, through a series of educational experiences, eventually graduated from Cairn University in Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Bible Ministries. My degree took me to Northern Wisconsin to a camp for two years where I met my wife, Julie. Although we didn’t start dating officially until after I left Wisconsin the first time, we were married in 2003. We had a great opportunity the first two years of marriage to live in Peoria, Illinois, working with an inner-city camp ministry and eventually back to northern Wisconsin and back to the camp where we had originally met. Going back to work in Wisconsin was a huge time of change for us as we went there in 2006 as a couple and left to move to Texas in 2014 with four children. Simon, our oldest son is eight years old; Hudson, our second son is seven years old; Alivia, is five years old; and Clara is two years old. They are a huge blessing to us and I love spending as much time as I can with each one and watching each ones unique personality develop.

So, what exactly do you do for us at Family Camp?
I am the Laity Lodge Family Camp Food Service Manager, which means that I put together menus for all of the 20 Family Camp weekends and weeklong events and then make sure food is purchased and prepared to the quality standards we have established for those events. I help with training of cooks in the summer and working with the high school students that come out for the weekend camp events. I also help out as needed with special meals for staff meetings, special Foundation events, and as needs arise.

What excites you (or what do you love) about working for Family Camp?
I love working at Family Camp because I love to be able to minister to the whole family through meeting their needs with food. My goal for each event is to provide a well-rounded menu where we can meet the needs of both mom and dad but also the kids as well. I have found over the years that people are more open to growth in their relationship with God when their expectations are exceeded and not just met. We see that play out especially well for the whole family when there is a good balance of meal options that everyone in the family can be happy with. As a dad of a young family, I know what the needs of young families are, and I hope that perspective makes me a better cook in the kitchen and a better food service manager.

When you’re not working up at Headwaters, what are you doing?
Right now when I am not at Headwaters or in the office in Kerrville preparing for the next weekend, I can usually be found doing something with my wife and the kids. When it is warm out, we love to go the park, ride bikes through the neighborhood, play games around the table, color pictures or in the case of my youngest right now, working on putting together puzzles on the living room floor.

If I jumped into your car right now, what kind of music would I hear?
Most likely you wouldn’t hear music but would most likely hear some form of talk radio. I like to listen to NPR while driving out to the Canyon or books on CD. I found a few years ago that I really enjoy listening to books as I travel, because it makes the time go by so much faster, and I get to “read” more books than I would otherwise have time for.

What was the last book you read, and did you enjoy it?
Based on a recommendation from Laity Lodge Youth Camp Senior Director Chandler Pruitt, the last book I completed was Unbroken, by Laura Hildebrand. I really enjoy reading books about American history and especially on World War II.

Plain or peanut M&Ms?
Peanut Butter actually. I find that it bridges the gap between both worlds.

What are your passions in life?

As a dad and father of a young family, it doesn’t seem like I have a lot time for much of anything else right now, but a new year’s resolution for 2015 is to find a community project where I can use my gifts and abilities to their fullest.

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Summers during high school and early college years, I worked for a parks and recreation crew where we mostly cut grass and maintained the local park system. A strange aspect of the job included caring for funerals on the weekends in the local cemetery. Since the cemetery still had hand-dug graves, on more than one occasion it meant I was a part of digging those graves. Digging graves knowing that a vault and a casket was going inside in a matter of a few days really puts life and death into perspective.

Diet coke or coffee?
Definitely coffee.

What’s your favorite treat?
Strange as it might sound – anything artificially banana flavored is marvelous, including an impossible-to-find banana milk.

If you could go anywhere in the world for vacation, where would you go?
A real dream vacation of mine is to go on a Band of Brothers Tour which was originally created by Steven Ambrose (one of my favorite authors of all time).

Fill in the blank: Chocolate is …
…an essential component to so many fantastic desserts and treats.

What’s for dinner tonight?

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For years I really wanted to be a lawyer. The American judicial system has always really intrigued me.

Now what do you want to be when you grow up?

The best husband and father (and hopefully grandfather) that I can be.

Dogs or cats?
Cats have claws because they were intended to miss the Ark – so most definitely dogs.

What kind of ice cream do you hope they have this summer at Headwaters?
Blue Moon – imagine eating frozen fruit loops cereal.

Morning person or night owl?
Morning person most definitely.

If you enjoyed meeting Matt, meet more of our staff here!

12 Days ‘Til Christmas: Day 12

December 25th, 2014

Christmascountdown

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Family Camp gave to me . . .
12 Months of Family Camp!

Eleven Family Crafts To Do,

Ten Last Minute Gift Ideas,

Nine Videos of Christmas Lights,

Eight Ways to Take Camp Home,

Seven Parenting Articles,

Six Quotes from Camp,

Five End-Of-Year Stats!

Four Christmas songs,

Three places to find them,

Two videos of the interns,

and a big list of tasty recipes.