Camp

Our kids went to Camp Eagle this week, and I am surprised we haven’t received a letter from them. Scratch that–I am surprised we haven’t received a letter from Andrew. Camp Eagle is a church camp nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Fincastle, Va. Our children have spent many years attending the day camp programs, but this was their first week long, overnight camp.

We have been covering this week at camp in prayer for months, honestly over 6 months! As time grew closer, both Andrew and Rachel became increasing nervous about being away from home. Both children have their quirks when it comes to sleeping habits which caused great distress. I assured them that there would be other kids at camp who slept with a stuffed animal or needed a night light.

We tried to calm their fears by sharing our own camp experiences, but the kids gave us the “you’re-too-old-to-understand-look.” I even shared a story from my coworker, that when her twin boys went to camp they were embarrassed to have Spiderman underwear. Just a few days before they left for camp she had to buy all new underwear! When the boys arrived at camp, with their “grown up” underwear, everyone else in their cabin was wearing…you guessed it…Spiderman!

Every night before bed we would pray over their week at camp. We would pray for the kids bedtime quirks, pray the kids would meet new friends, be courageous to try new adventures, and deepen their relationship with the Lord. 

Most importantly we would pray this simple prayer that the kids have committed to memory:
“I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2
Andrew wrote these words on a note card and taped it to his bed. Every night he would repeat it over and over. Even at camp he had printed that verse on a piece of paper to read every night. Tucked inside their suitcases was a envelope containing my bedtime prayer over them, always ending with the powerful words from Isaiah “I will trust and not be afraid.”
We arrived at camp at 9:00am Monday morning. The kids were silent as we pulled off the main road and drove down the long gravel road leading deep into the wooded camp. Upon arrival the kids realized they recognized a few of the camp counselors. Some of which attend their school or who had just graduated and are working at the camp for the summer. The tension began to ease. Andrew and Rachel were calling out the names of everyone they saw that they knew. The excitement was building!  Rachel immediately recognized a girl who was her counselor and was brimming with happiness. When we stepped out of the truck Andrew heard a voice above the others saying “Andrew, I’ve been waiting for you! Dude, I’ve been waiting for you all Summer!” Andrew beamed! His favorite senior from school last year was HIS camp counselor!
We haven’t heard from the kids, which is a good sign that they are having too much fun to write home. I know God has answered our prayers.  Would you like to take a guess at Andrew’s camp counselor’s name? Isaiah!
As adults we can smile at the unnecessary worries like kids going off to camp. But really, when you think about it, we do the same thing in our own lives. We too become worried about the uncertainties in life: a health scare, career change, job security, being relocated, moving, etc. In the midst of all that we need to remember to trust in a Holy and perfect God and not be afraid!
I am a mess and tend to worry too much and try to control too much. I too need to learn to trust more! My time on earth is only temporary, but because I have placed my trust, faith, and salvation in Jesus Christ I will spend eternity in heaven.  One day, I too will hear a voice above all the others saying “April, I’ve been waiting for you!”
“I will trust and not be afraid!” Isaiah 12:2
~April
“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

Mommy-Son Date

Andrew and I dropped Rachel off at Fiddle Camp and were giddy to begin our date. We had five uninterrupted hours of quality Mommy-Son time! Our destination, the movie theater to see Disney’s new movie Maleficent.  Andrew proposed that if I bought the movie tickets, he would pay for popcorn. Deal!

I won’t give away any movie secrets, but I will say that Maleficent puts a new spin on the old classic story of Sleeping Beauty.

My favorite part of our date was not the movie, but rather the conversation in the car ride afterwards. My soon-to-be-sixth-grader said “Mommy, there is a bunch of symbolism in Maleficent, like good verses evil, pride and corruption, jealousy and hate, evil disguised as good.”  For the rest of the car ride we talked about the symbolism and the curse. There is a scene in the movie where Maleficent states “This curse will last until the end of time and no power on earth can change it.” We talked about the curse we are all under “thanks to Adam and Eve for messing it up for the rest of us” Andrew said. Just as in the movie, I reminded Andrew there is no power on earth that can change it. Fortunately, the God we serve is not of this world. From heaven, Jesus was sent to break the curse of sin that was placed on the earth. Our firm belief in Jesus Christ is our saving grace from the curse.

Question: Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Answer: Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any other powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:35, 38-39



Our conversation shifted and Andrew asked is it possible to lose our salvation. He wondered if you could still be saved from the curse even if you asked Jesus in to your heart, but then don’t always do right. “Absolutely!” I replied. That is the wonderful thing about God’s grace and forgiveness. We are always going to mess up and not do right, but as long as you truly believe Jesus died of the cross for our sins and you have asked Jesus into your heart, he is mighty to save!

I had a marvelous five-hour date with my 11-year old son. Later on in the evening, he tapped on the window and silently signed 1-4-3 our secret code for I love you. With tears in my eyes I signed 1-4-3-2. I harbor a lot of parental guilt. I tend to yell too much and play too little. I don’t always get things right. (This is why the lyrics to the song “How He Loves” written by John Mark McMillan and recorded by the David Crowder Band, mean so much to me. “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves me!”)

After I crawled into bed I wrote in my prayer journal: Lord, I don’t always get things right, but today I did! Lord, I love you too!

~April

“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

1-4-3

My knight in shining armor told me he loved me! Be still my heart!

I love the way God dropped a JOY bomb smack dab in the middle of an ordinary day! This past week I volunteered at my kids school during Spirit Week. On this particular day the kids were dressed in a Kingdom theme. My son wore the silver duct tape costume I made for him last summer during our Kingdom Chronicles Vacation Bible School. He wore a crown, a duct tape tunic, plastic sword, and silver duct tape shield. I love duct tape projects!

My son saw me through the open door of the teacher workroom walked in and asked for money. But this time I was obliged to help. Mr. Hill’s bake sales are known far and wide for being the best. (Plus the money goes towards a good cause, a Spring trip to Monticello). Thanks to two previous snow days I was unprepared and all I came up with was $1.00 in coins. My knight smiled at me, crown slightly crocked, and said “Thanks Mom!” Then my knight walked back into the room and said “Hey mom” then he held up his hand and gave the sign of these numbers 1-4-3. Tears pricked my eyes. Without saying a word I motioned back 1-4-3-2.

1-4-3. This is our secret code for I-love-you. I cannot take credit for this. My friend Michelle shared this with me over a decade ago. This was something special between she and her dad. Just the two of them. I can recall standing in her kitchen of her first house when she shared that with me. I remember the way she cried because her father had just passed away. She whispered “1-4-3 Dad.”

I began speaking in code with Andrew many years ago in the height of his I-want-to-be-a-spy-stage. This stage coincided with the Mom-it’s-not-cool-to-hug-you-or-say-I-love-you-in-front-of-my-friends-stage. Thus, I borrowed 1-4-3. He loved it and so do I.

Tears spilled down my face. My knight in shining (duct tape) armor told me he loved me!
1-4-3-2 Andrew, I love you too!

I love how God turns an ordinary day into something extraordinary.1-4-3-2 Lord! All the more!

~April

“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

Standing in the Kitchen

Tuesday morning, I was standing in the kitchen washing dishes and singing my heart out. As I belted out praise songs, I was thankful the bible asks us to “Make a joyful noise before the Lord” (Psalms 100:1) because that is all I can offer. Immediately I thought about a woman from church. I love watching her sing. Oh yes, she has a fabulous voice but I love seeing the JOY of the Lord in her expressions. She has been redeemed from a difficult life and it shows!

I decided to take my thoughts of her a step further and call her. When the phone call went to voice mail I almost hung up. Instead I left the most random message in the history of messages. It went something like this:

“Uh hi, this is April, you know from church. I… well I was just thinking about you and I wanted you to know it. I am standing in my kitchen washing dishes and singing and thinking about how I love to hear you sing and watch you sing. You have such joy, I mean J-O-Y on your face that it is encouraging to me. I appreciate you, being you…no pretending, no masks, just yourself all the time. I know this must be the most random message, but I was thinking of you just now and I wanted you to know it. Love ya’ girl.”

What I didn’t know was at the same exact time, she was standing in her kitchen baking bread and bawling her eyes out. When the phone rang, she didn’t feel like talking and she let the call go to voice mail. She listened to my message and replied with this email:

I just got your voice message and it was exactly what I had to hear in that very moment. I was in my kitchen trying to bake bread, bawling my eyes out, feeling worthless and ugly, lonely, depressed and ready to jump off a cliff…literally. I was at my wits end. Telling God I was through. Tired of riding this up and down roller coaster. Tired of worshiping a God who I feel has abandoned me. Tired of trying to make everyone happy when my heart is in pieces most of the time and feeling like nobody really cares.
I wasn’t going to listen to Him so I suppose He had another way to get through to me. You.
Your message stung but healed. It made me realize my sinful, angry, selfish attitude,
but it also encouraged me to know that
I really am not alone and haven’t been abandoned no matter what my mind tells me.
Thank you for making that call. It was a lifesaver in so many ways.”*

Tuesday we were both standing in our kitchens, and yet we were not standing alone. God was there . God was beside me as I preformed the mundane task of washing dishes and even prompted me to make a phone call. God was beside my friend as she baked bread, wiping her eyes with the back of her hands wondering if anyone cares. God cares, in fact He was standing in the kitchen!

This was just another reminder that God is “El Roi” the Hebrew name for God meaning “God who sees me.” No matter where you are and what you’re doing God sees you and He has not abandoned you no matter what your mind tells you!

She gave the this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “El Roi” for you are the God who sees me. (Genesis 16:13)

~April

*This email was used with permission.

May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

The Least of These

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
(Matthew 25:40, NIV)
            My friend, Lyle is a stay-at-home-home school-mother of four. In my mind, that qualifies her as a saint. Although, she might spend a significant portion of her time at home, she is concerned for those without a home. Over the past several years and gallons of coffee, we have shared about needs in the community. Her greatest concerns are how to reach the homeless, particularly the ones on the street corners.  The problem was that she rarely carried cash and with 4 kids strapped into car seats she couldn’t easily take the person out to eat.  But yet something had to be done.
            My friend started her own personal homeless ministry. She carried pre-loaded McDonald’s gift cards and a gospel tract in her vehicle at all times. She laughed and said “I know it’s not healthy, but there is always a McDonald’s nearby.”  My friend saw a need and decided to do what she could to meet that need. Can you see why I love her heart?
            I too rarely carry cash and feel awkward when I cannot meet an immediate need. Recently I asked, “Lord, what should I do?” He spoke and I obeyed. Last week I was paying for my groceries. The cashier asked “Would you like cash back?” Typically, my immediate response is “no,” but this time God whispered in my spirit “Yes.” I looked up at the cashier and said “Yes, yes I do. I think I do want cash back, although I’m not sure why.” The young man looked at me with strange curiosity. Instantly, in the corner of my eye, I saw a woman wearing a crown and jewels around her neck. An odor wafted towards me. I turn towards the woman as the cashier hands over my twenty dollar bill and the receipt. Behind me was a homeless woman with a tattered suitcase in her shopping basket. On her head was a terry cloth turban (which in my peripheral vision I mistook for a crown) and around her neck were colorful plastic beads (which I mistook for jewels). Ignoring the obvious, I smiled and greeted her with the customary pleasantries. She had only one purchase to make that day, a bar of soap. I picked up the bar of soap and place the money underneath. I told the cashier “I think this should just about cover it.” I smiled again at the woman and walked away. I exited the grocery store and looked to my left at the golden arches. My friend was correct; there is always a McDonald’s nearby.
            I loaded my groceries and started the engine. The song “Kings & Queens” by Audio Adrenaline played through the stereo speakers. These lyrics immediately pierced my heart and I began to cry. “Boys become kings; girls become queens, when we love the least of these.”

            God’s Divine Intervention did not escape my mind. I cried as I thought about the way my peripheral vision thought she was wearing a crown and jewels. After all “Girls become queens when we love the least of these.”
~April

May you and I become mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:12)

Father’s Voice

Today if you hear His voice, do no harden your hearts.
(Hebrews 3:7, NIV)
            From the sideline of the soccer field, the timekeeper yells out “Minute and a half left in the game.” Further down the sideline a father yells “Son, we’ve got time for one more.” This father is referring to another goal. I smile at the thought.
            This is the last soccer game of the season and our team is winning. Our wins and losses for the season are fairly equal, but there is something exciting about winning the last game of the season.  The son, hearing his father’s voice nods his head and sprints across the field.
Run. Kick. Score!
            The boy bends over, hands resting upon his knees, gasping for breath. He is tired and weary, yet there is a faint smile across his face. The timekeeper yells out “10 seconds left!” Again from the sideline a father shouts out, “Son, we’ve got time for one more.” I glace over at the father thinking he’s crazy. His son’s team is already winning, why try with only 10 seconds left on the clock. The son, hearing his father’s voice nods and yells “Got it.”
Run. Kick. Score. Win!
            The crowd erupts in cheers. I stand there in sheer disbelief.  I overhear someone on the sideline say to his wife “Did you see that boy’s response when he heard his father’s voice?” I watch the father hug his son. The words still echoing in my mind: Did you see that boy’s response when he heard his father’s voice.”
            From the sidelines, I watch as parents pack up the folding chairs while the kids run in circles. Meanwhile, I contemplate my personal response to my Heavenly Father’s voice. Do I nod and say “Got it” and press on, even if it seems crazy? Do I try, even if I know I have already accomplished my goal?  Do I ignore His voice knowing I’ve done my part; thinking let someone else do the rest?
            I know God desires to do the impossible in my life. “Lord, forgive me for not responding with a willing heart when I hear your voice. Help me to respond with a “Got it” attitude (no matter how tired I am) when I hear your voice.”
         As you have figured out, my husband was the father and Andrew was the son, nodding when he heard his father’s voice.

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. (Ephesians 3:20, HCSB)

~April

May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:12 NIV)

P.S. In case you wondering, the father on the sidelines is my beloved, and the boy is my son.

Pin It on Pinterest