When I first began to blog, my intention was to post thoughts and ideas to help others who are seeking to lead family ministries, more particularly family camps or retreats. My husband and I helped to start a family camp 33 years ago, and it is a very successful ministry yet today. We are in more of an advisory capacity now, but some of the themes and ideas from the past are “jewels” that should be shared. Today I am going to share 10 of the brainstorming ideas that surfaced at our initial planning session for this summer’s coming event: 1) Theme: “Down On The Family Farm”; 2) Programming Ideas: Farm-related planting/harvesting type lesson titles–“Prepare/ Plant / Produce” (a website called “christiangamesandcrafts.com” looked to be helpful for children’s lessons/activities); and such scriptures as the Parables, in particular, looked promising for Intergenerational and/or adult lessons; 3) Family Craft: a wooden clock cut in the shape of a barn, with small wooden animals that can be painted and glued on the front of the barn; 4) Tee-Shirt Stenciling: using a theme title stencil as well as farm animal stencils; 5) Family Farm Olympic Activities: a) decorate “pig balloons”, tie them to participants’ legs at ankle level, and try to pop others’ balloons without getting your own popped; b) a dress-up scarecrow race; c) sack races using actual feed bags; d) (kids) pedal-tractor races; 6) Hee-Haw Family Variety Show: complete with a couple of folks doing a “Back Fence Chat” periodically; 7) Hay Wagon Ride: using actual horses to pull the wagon; 8) Set up a petting zoo: with small farm animals; 9) Family Bluegrass or Square Dancing; 10) Farm-related signage: with the following signage around the facility or grounds where we are meeting: a) “Farm House”–where we are lodged; b) “Feedin’ Trough”–where we eat; c) “Hoe-Down”–square dance; d) “Pig Pen”–Mud Slide area; e) “Waterin’ Hole–Pond; f) “Cement Pond–Pool; g) “Serenading”–Singing; h) “Shootin’ Range”–Archery. In the future, I will try to post more of the “best of the best” ideas from some of our past events. There is nothing more rewarding than passing along ideas that can be used and enhanced for other events. May God’s blessings be on you as you plan programs and activities for the family.
Many of my friends are near my age (some refer to that as “the golden years”) so maybe they have wondered, as have I, what God has in mind for me now? I have accepted that I cannot be as heavily involved as I was used to being in the past. My head says “yes”, but my body says, “you’ve got to be kidding!” Recently a particular passage of scripture captured my attention (Luke 19:34). Jesus was approaching Jerusalem and he sent a couple of his disciples into the city to bring Him a donkey. He said, “If anyone asks ‘Why are you untying the donkey?’ say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’ ” I loved that phrase–“Because the Lord has need of it!” As I thought more about approaching this particular season of life, I had to ask myself, “Does the Lord still have need of me?” Have you ever asked yourself that question, no matter what your age or station in life? Well, the answer, of course is YES! He always needs something or someone to get His work done. My work may be one single act of service, or an activity that I can do that will fully occupy my coming years. It may be an opportunity to share my faith, to intercede for someone, or to love someone through quiet acts of mercy, friendly visits, or to simply extend a small courtesy. In the meantime, I know I must “actively wait”–preparing myself through prayer, Bible reading and quiet listening–ready for the moment when I am nudged that “the Lord has need of me.”
Have you ever done something (in your personal life, or spiritual life) that was a passion in your heart for a long time, but now it has turned into a major job for you? …and your greatest desire is to recapture what fueled earlier days? Maybe you’ve even prayed about it but God is silent. Consider that in such times of “silence” God may be preparing you for the next step in life’s journey. So, the key would seem to be “stay connected” with the power source (God), and we will eventually recapture the flame in our hearts again one day!
I have definitely felt this way many times in life, especially through the different ages and stages of the journey. In younger days, when I had more energy and my family was younger, Family Camp was totally my passion (as you will see if you read some of my older blogs). There have been different times in my life when a particular ministry in my local church was where God seemed to drive me to pour my time and energy. But, over time for various reasons (health, life’s demands, personal concerns, outgrowing something, etc) passion for some things began to wane. What one day was my greatest passion, had practically become a burden.
But, in retrospect, as I ponder such times, I can see through those peaks and valleys that God was still at work. He was just getting me ready for another phase of life… sometimes in my personal life, and sometimes in my spiritual life. During those times of “waiting”, when God seemed silent, He must have thought I needed a longer time of growth/training to be ready for the next step! Whew!
My husband and I have asked ourselves many times, “What can God possibly have in mind for us at this stage of life?” Then a new passion has seemed to surface recently… an email Bible study! We are currently a part of a small, aging congregation, it’s winter and we don’t like to get out at night, but we’re still seeking connection with one another and with God. So, we’re going to give it a try! For starters, we’re using the book of John (21 chapters), for 4 weeks… reading 1 chapter per day Monday – Friday (with one extra chapter the 4th week), then posting our comments on a group email on the weekends. We’re using the SOAK method as our guide for study (soaking in the Word of God!). SOAK is an acronym for ‘S-cripture (finding a specific verse or two that stands out), O-bservations (commands/promises from God, and questions we may have), A-pplication (applying the scripture to our life… actions needed? are we struggling with something?), and K-neeling (in prayer–if we can). I will share that this method is not an original idea. You can find more about how this works by going to http://womenlivingwell.org Even though that website is showing how this works in a women’s group we are adapting it in our small church to anyone who wants to participate. So, all of that is to say, I’m feeling the passion in my heart once again…. until the next thing comes along! Hope those of you who are reading this will find a spark rising in your hearts as well!
The new year is almost here… again! My how time flies! I love to rhyme, and ran across this rhyme that I thought worth sharing, “God divided our life into years… To free us from our past tears… He gives us a New Year’s inning… To offer us a new beginning… He opens His forgiving heart… And provides a fresh start… He is always faithful and true… So joyous New Year to You!” (Couldn’t have said it better myself!) Have you thought about a new year’s resolution yet… perhaps something new and different you might try for the coming year? Here is something I started last Jan 1st, and plan to continue. I took my Christmas card list and made a copy of it, then cut apart the individual family names, and put each family’s name into a baggie. Each day I draw one out and say a special prayer for that family. After all they are ALL my friends or family or they wouldn’t be on that list. If you don’t have a Christmas card list, perhaps you can do the same type of thing with your cell phone contact list. Have a happy new year!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to celebrate CHRISTmas without the mention of Santa Claus, without shopping for a single present, and without all of the commercialism? Approximately 100+ folks who attended year 32 of a 5-day Ohio family camping event were able to experience just that! The theme for this year’s event was “CHRISTmas in July, it all began with a family!” Words cannot begin to describe the peace and inspiration that came from that “short season” together! We feel so blessed to have been there! During those 5 days, we learned a lot about “gifts”–not physical “presents”, but gifts! Some gifts we accept with joy as we begin to realize God has given them to us to use for Him and His work. Other gifts that come our way we may view much like we see that “ugly Christmas sweater”–yep, we’ve all gotten one at some point in time! Such gifts may be compared to the hardships we face and we wonder how they can be considered “gifts”? But, in God’s time, and in His way, He seems to turn even those “unwelcome gifts” into something beautiful if we let Him. All that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. We can never out-give God! The more we give to Him and His work, the more He can entrust to us! Enjoy the gifts that you are and the gifts that you have from God and remember to thank Him for them! And, try to capture the peace and inspiration of CHRISTmas this year by putting the CHRIST back in it where it belongs. After all, it really did “begin with that very special family”!
Being an “out-of-the-box” thinker myself, I am very aware how the imagination can take a person most anywhere! Today I read how “God can use our imaginations to give us a picture of His future for us, but with one qualification: that we seek Him with all our hearts. We become what we envision. Prayer is the time to let God paint the mind picture of what we are to be and to do!”
Never would I have imagined in 1983 that my husband and I would become Directors of a summertime 5-day family camping ministry that would touch so many lives in so many ways. Not in a million years would I have ever imagined I would write a book about such an experience and it actually be published! We “retired” as Directors of this event several years ago, and even moved two states away, but we are still actively involved with it. And, I am over-joyed to report that the ministry is still alive and well today–32 years later.
What has kept it so vital? A LOT of “out-of-the box” thinkers who aren’t afraid to be in touch with their God-given imaginations and seeking Him with all their hearts for where He wants to take the ministry. Here is a taste of where the imaginations took us with one of the theme ideas a few years ago:
Theme: “GPS For The Family” (G-od’s P-erfect S-olution); Song Ideas: “How Far The East Is From The West”, by Casting Crowns and “Signs”, by Michael W. Smith; Family Take-Home Memento: (Craft) – Decorate License Plates (the license plate frames w/cardstock insert to decorate where the license numbers would have been); Tee-Shirt Stenciling: Traffic signs, vehicles.
Worship Session Ideas:
1) Do a Time Travel … GPS messing up, thought we were going to Nevada, and ended up in Nineva, etc. (Drama possibility: A reporter interviewing each traveler who got lost on his/her journey)
2) Use “travel scriptures” to build a lesson around: Numbers 9:23-traveling by divine instructions; Numbers 33:1-48 – Listing journeys; I Samuel 17:20 – Early morning departure; 2 Chronicles 15:5- Unsafe to travel; Job 36:3 – Travel expands knowledge; Jeremiah 6:16 – Find the good way; Matthew 2:12 – Altered travel plans; Luke 2:1-5 – Nativity journey; John 7:1 – Jesus avoided dangerous travel, and LOTS more!
3) Parallel how we are guided by a GPS with how God guides us through life:
a) GPS “speaks to us”, giving directions; God “speaks to us” through prayer (Rom 8:26), the Bible (2 Tim 3:16), circumstances (I Peter 3:15), and the church (I Cor 12:12-31);
b) GPS maps out the best roads to take; the Bible maps out the best course to take in life (Rom 6:23; Micah 6:8)
c) GPS gives us “u-turns” (recalculating) when getting off-course; God gives “u-turns” to get us back on track in life (Jer 6:16; I Peter 5:10; Rom 8:28)
d) GPS tells us where we can find food (restaurants); God tells us where we can be fed (Matt 6:11, and other bread of life scriptures).
It’s amazing how it takes but a few thoughts, prayed over and unleashed by God, to get a team of folks running full steam ahead. The 2014 theme is “CHRISTmas in July: it all began with a Family!” Just imagine where that one will go! Find a good time to stop and pray today … and get in touch with your imagination station. It might even put a smile on your face Have a wonderful day!
The “seasons of life” seem to take us to different interests at different times in our lives. At one point I was excited about blogging, and spent much time doing it. Then “life” happened and I seemed too busy to sit still long enough to blog. Within 2 years, all three of our adult children got married, and now we have 2 grandchildren. My husband and I, being late 60’s/early 70’s, are taking advantage of every opportunity we have to see them and visit with them, so we are “on the road a lot” these days! When it came time for renewal of my blog, I had to take a serious look at whether I wanted to continue with this or not. I would still like to blog about “Family Camp” one of my favorite subjects, near and dear to my heart… and this event is still going, year 32! Incredible! We are no longer Directors, but are still Advisers, and very much still connected with this ministry. But, my daughter pointed out that I do not need to blog totally about Family Camp. I often post things on Facebook that have touched my heart in a meaningful way, and that I feel are worth sharing. So, this morning, I’m going to post one such thing on this blog. Maybe this short “thought for the day” will also touch the heart of someone reading this blog. Here goes: “I do not want to pray for tasks equal to my power, but for power equal to my tasks! My desire is not just to do different things, but to do the same things differently, with freedom, joy, and excellence!” This is what I have now committed to for the coming year with this blog! We’ll see how it goes! Hope to hear from some of you in the days ahead!