Thursday, May 22, 2014



It was 1985 and I was a shy 7th grader.  I was excited to finally be able to attend Mountain TOP with the rest of our youth group.  We arrived at Camp Ozone where the staff members had their soft blue (I think) staff polo's on. I don't remember much about the things said in worship. I don't remember any of the people with whom my YRG worked alongside.  I don't remember the names of those within my YRG. I do remember our youth group performing a skit.  I remember the platform tents that dotted the woods.  I remember that there was a kid in the kitchen who was washing dishes.  I remember having a conversation with the person about how they got involved in the kitchen.  I remember distinctly saying I want to be in the kitchen next summer.

I'm not sure how it happened but the next summer my parents drove to me Camp Woodlee to serve as the 'jr-staffer' for the week. My parents took a leap of faith and left me with a group of young adults with whom they had no connection (actually I think if it had not been for the fact that one of the staff members was from my home church they would reconsidered their decision to allow me volunteer with a bunch of strangers).  Something magical happened in my life that week.

A group of young adults welcomed me in.

A group of young adults gave witness to the love of Jesus.

A group of young adults asked me to fulfill task that were much deeper than merely washing dishes and packing lunch coolers.  

A group of young adults became super hero's in my faith.  

A group of young adults believed in me.

What was to merely be a week of washing dishes turned into 4-5 summers of giving my time.  It became an understanding who God was designing me to be.  It became the stepping stone of confidence and assurance.  It served as a foundation to believe in others and trust the gifts of all.  It was magical and it changed my life.  

This week I saw a glimpse of life coming full circle.  My 12 year asked to go to Mountain TOP's main office on Monday to merely put together binders for each and every summer staff person that would arriving today.  A full time staff member sent me a text with a picture of her helping, then before I knew it I had an afternoon phone call asking to extend her time to accomplish a few more task.  

As my friend sent me another text that held another glimpse of how Emma was helping my heart sang.  

Emma wasn't merely volunteering.  Something very magical was happening.

Emma was being filled with a sense of welcome from a group of young adults who loved her.  

A group of young adults were loving on my child, asking her to fulfill task that ran deeper than just binders; she was entrusted with task that would tell the arriving summer staff that they were loved.

A group of young adults were speaking a language of belief in all that Emma is and all that she is becoming.

A group of young adults were showing Emma the grace and light of Jesus.

A group of young adults were making an impact on her life deeper than they might ever know.

I give thanks for persons like Dan Morris (a staff member from my very first summer camp experience who wasn't afraid to speak words of encouragement across pages of yellow legal pad paper).  Danny Peck, Tracy Adkins, Jennifer, Mary Jo Cooper, Jay Myers, Marshall Graves, Joy Strange (the members the very first staff I served as a jr. staffer under), Dow Smith and the many others who welcomed me in, entrusted me with tasks, believed in me, and allowed me to grow in my own skin and understanding of faith as a teenager.  

I give thanks for the Olivia, Kim, Julie and Kylene who welcome Emma into their lives, who speak words of encouragement, who love with open arms and who allow an awkward tween find herself.  

What magic is God unfolding in your life today?