Packing for camp and other summertime wisdom

 

The first time we sent our older girls away to summer camp, it was just for a weekend.  For younger kids, it was a “get your feet wet” kind of experience, stay two nights at camp, have lots of fun, and then plan on coming back for the full week the next time.

So, for a two-night camp, we packed three shirts and three pairs of shorts so they’d have a spare plus a pair of jeans and a skirt and top they could use for a chapel service if they needed to look nice.

I picked them up at the end of the weekend and they were dressed in some crazy outfit : Skirt and camp t-shirt or jeans (in 100+degree weather).

Why the fashion mish-mash?

Simple. They ran out of clothes.

At home, I opened up their duffel bags and discovered their clothes were wet.  All of them.

This year, our packing strategy was simple.  Pack pretty much every piece of clothing they own.

Well, that might be a bit exaggerated.  But seriously.  I packed a lot of extra clothes plus two beach towels and two bath towels and two different swimming outfits.

We packed a lot.

Then, for the entire week before camp, I gave them great words of wisdom.

I said things like, “Make good choices.  Listen to your counselors.  Don’t be afraid.  Try new things.  Be kind and make new friends.  Sleep.  Don’t spend all your money at the camp store in one day.”

Oh, and this little treasure, “If you buy soda at the camp store, do NOT buy Mountain Dew.  Sprite has no caffeine–fine.  Coke has some caffeine, not the best, but I won’t freak out.  But please do NOT buy Mountain Dew.”

Those words came from experience.  Last time I picked them up, they’d discovered Mountain Dew for the first time.

But I also gave them this little tidbit of advice over and over and over again: “Hang up your wet clothes.  Seriously.  Towels get hung up to dry.  Do not toss your wet swimsuit and towel into your suitcase with your other clothes.”

These are some of the last words I said to them before we waved goodbye at drop-off.

“I love you” and “Hang up wet things.”

My husband, on the other hand, had his own wisdom to share over and over before camp. And when we said goodbye, he said it again. He leaned over to kiss their heads, told them, “I love you,” and then give instruction:

“Wear sunscreen.  At all times.  All over your face.  Use your bug spray.  Wear your hat every single time you go outside.”

This is the what we worry over because we’re not with them to make sure they are safe, taking care of themselves, and keeping their clothes dry.

Or that they aren’t drinking Mountain Dew, are eating reasonable meals, and are being respectful to their camp counselors.

They will be making choices every day and we have to trust that after all our training, these choices will be good ones.

So, we said goodbye for the week.  We met their counselors, dropped off their luggage, watched as they picked out bunks, and then left.

And now, I’m praying and praying and praying.

This independence-training has been gradual: a few hours of preschool a few days a week.  School days.  Middle school starts in just two months for my middle girl with more decisions, bigger ones, and more independence.

Do they know what really matters?

Today, I read how David commissioned his son, Solomon.  What were those essential things David said before he died and Solomon took over the kingdom?

He said,

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.  If you seek him, he will be found by you…Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it (1 Chronicles 28:9-10 ESV).

I’m sure David trained Solomon in other ways.  He gathered the supplies Solomon would need to build the temple so that his son would be fully equipped for his calling.

But this is the essential truth:

Seek the Lord.

Serve Him wholeheartedly.

Be strong and do the work He has called you to do.

And when it comes down to it, this is the essential truth for us and the essential truth I want my kids to remember when I’m not with them.

Of course, wearing sunscreen and hanging up your towels doesn’t hurt!

But in the middle of a thousand messages and overwhelming choices, here’s what God tells us:

Seek me.
Serve me.
Be strong and fulfill your calling.

This is what really matters.

 

Originally published 7/20/2016

Packing for Camp 101 (and the essential truth we all need to know)

1 chronicles 28

The first time we sent our older girls away to summer camp, it was just for a weekend.  For younger kids, it was a “get your feet wet” kind of experience, stay two nights at camp, have lots of fun, and then plan on coming back for the full week the next time.

So, for a two-night camp, we packed three shirts and three pairs of shorts so they’d have a spare plus a pair of jeans and a skirt and top they could use for a chapel service if they needed to look nice.

I picked them up at the end of the weekend and they were dressed in some crazy outfit : Skirt and camp t-shirt or jeans (in 100+degree weather).

Why the fashion mish-mash?

Simple. They ran out of clothes.

At home, I opened up their duffel bags and discovered their clothes were wet.  All of them.

This year, our packing strategy was simple.  Pack pretty much every piece of clothing they own.

Well, that might be a bit exaggerated.  But seriously.  I packed a lot of extra clothes plus two beach towels and two bath towels and two different swimming outfits.

We packed a lot.

Then, for the entire week before camp, I gave them great words of wisdom.

I said things like, “Make good choices.  Listen to your counselors.  Don’t be afraid.  Try new things.  Be kind and make new friends.  Sleep.  Don’t spend all your money at the camp store in one day.”

Oh, and this little treasure, “If you buy soda at the camp store, do NOT buy Mountain Dew.  Sprite has no caffeine–fine.  Coke has some caffeine, not the best, but I won’t freak out.  But please do NOT buy Mountain Dew.”

Those words came from experience.  Last time I picked them up, they’d discovered Mountain Dew for the first time.

But I also gave them this little tidbit of advice over and over and over again: “Hang up your wet clothes.  Seriously.  Towels get hung up to dry.  Do not toss your wet swimsuit and towel into your suitcase with your other clothes.”

These are some of the last words I said to them before we waved goodbye at drop-off.

“I love you” and “Hang up wet things.”

My husband, on the other hand, had his own wisdom to share over and over before camp. And when we said goodbye, he said it again. He leaned over to kiss their heads, told them, “I love you,” and then give instruction:

“Wear sunscreen.  At all times.  All over your face.  Use your bug spray.  Wear your hat every single time you go outside.”

This is the what we worry over because we’re not with them to make sure they are safe, taking care of themselves, and keeping their clothes dry.

Or that they aren’t drinking Mountain Dew, are eating reasonable meals, and are being respectful to their camp counselors.

They will be making choices every day and we have to trust that after all our training, these choices will be good ones.

So, we said goodbye for the week.  We met their counselors, dropped off their luggage, watched as they picked out bunks, and then left.

And now, I’m praying and praying and praying.

This independence-training has been gradual: a few hours of preschool a few days a week.  School days.  Middle school starts in just a few weeks for my oldest girl with more decisions, bigger ones, and more independence.

Do they know what really matters?

Today, I read how David commissioned his son, Solomon.  What were those essential things David said before he died and Solomon took over the kingdom?

He said,

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.  If you seek him, he will be found by you…Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it (1 Chronicles 28:9-10 ESV).

I’m sure David trained Solomon in other ways.  He gathered the supplies Solomon would need to build the temple so that his son would be fully equipped for his calling.

But this is the essential truth:

Seek the Lord.

Serve Him wholeheartedly.

Be strong and do the work He has called you to do.

And when it comes down to it, this is the essential truth for us and the essential truth I want my kids to remember when I’m not with them.

Of course, wearing sunscreen and hanging up your towels doesn’t hurt!

But in the middle of a thousand messages and overwhelming choices, here’s what God tells us:

Seek me.
Serve me.
Be strong and fulfill your calling.

This is what really matters.

 

Cancelling the Parenting Magazine

New Mom + Parenting Magazine Subscription = Monthly Mom Crisis.

When I was that fresh, idealistic young mom with that first chubby cheeked babe, I had big, big plans to get it all right.

Every month that magazine arrived.  I scanned it for creative ideas, ripped out yummy recipes, and dog-eared pages with fun activities.

Then I grumped around the house for a day or two. 

I cried occasionally.

Because, according to the magazine, good moms don’t ever serve their kids macaroni and cheese.  If said mac and cheese happens to be from a box, good gracious, you are one of “THOSE” moms.  You know—-the Bad Moms.1chronicles28

Also, Good Moms have Good Kids who always choose the steamed vegetables and rice pilaf when dining out.  These perfect children never order the pizza and chicken fingers. 

Limit screen time.  Join play groups.  Teach kids to share.  Teach them to care. 

Involve them in service projects and ideally live abroad so you can expand their vision of the world. 

Teach them sign language and then a foreign language.

Make all your dinners a month in advance and freeze them.

Kids must have an allowance and a weekly chore chart or they will end up lazy, unemployed and bankrupt.

Discipline this way.  Play with them that way. 

Work outside the home.

Don’t work outside the home.

And never, ever, ever expect your kids to play on their own or entertain themselves with siblings or friends without your intense and continual involvement.  You must play cars, dolls, and blocks with them for hours.  Good moms never get bored building towers and are never too busy to color.

I finally asserted myself and cancelled the subscription.  Who needs to pay for a monthly self-esteem destroyer?

The truth is, I do some of those Good Mom things, but no one can do all of them. 

When we try to do everything, we won’t do anything well.

We end up weighed down by overwhelming expectations and impossible demands.

How much better to celebrate victories, to keep a balanced perspective, and to choose what’s most important right here and right now?

How much better to lean in close to God day after daily day and ask Him, “What do you have for me, Lord?  Right here.  Right now.  Show me what’s next.”

The world is full of opinions about who we need to be and what we need to be doing.  It’s a noisy place and everyone has something to say.

But in my 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, all this month I’m “Learning to Say No.”

That means saying no to good things, at times, in order to do the “right thing God has for me.”

It means saying no to being like everyone else, to trying to be perfect, to trying to do everything, to keeping up with every great idea on Pinterest, Facebook, and mommy blogs.

It means no longer being paralyzed by everything, so I can do the right things well.

King David placed a weighty task on the shoulders of his son, Solomon.  He handed over the plans for the temple with instructions on dividing the labor among the Levites, how much gold to use for the lampstands and the cherubim, and the available supplies.

This was the right thing, the God-thing, that God had designed, purposed and planned for Solomon to do.

And it still could have felt like too much.  How could Solomon even begin?

David told his son:

Be strong and do the work (1 Chronicles 28:10 NIV)

and again:

Then David continued, Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly (1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT)

Be strong. 

Don’t be afraid.

God is with you.

So, do the work.

Pick up right where you are and begin.  One step at one time.

I don’t need to do everything. 

I just need to begin with this one thing.

And God is with you.  He will not fail or forsake you. 

When we lean our weary and overwhelmed souls onto Him, He shoulders the load.  He makes sure the work is done well.

Maybe that’s the lesson Solomon needed so that when God told him, “Ask me for anything….” Solomon knew what to say:

Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10 NLT).

Help me do the work.  That’s what Solomon said.  Show me how to fulfill this calling.

And isn’t this my heart, too?

Lord, show me how to do this well.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Learn to Say, ‘No?’

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

What I’m Pondering

Maybe it begins in the hospital, that first moment you see this little life and she blinks her eyes in your direction because she’s heard your voice, un-muffled for the first time by the sound of your heart beat and the shushing of your womb.

Maybe, if we’re being truthful, it begins before that.  We moms analyze morning sickness, aerobic kicking routines versus squirmy tummy rolls, a baby sucking his thumb on the ultrasound or another one turning somersaults and having to be chased around by the technician to keep him on the screen.

We think about our children, consider their character, who God has made them and how He has gifted them.

We think about what they like to eat and why, whether they keep to the schedule willingly or fight it all the way.  We consider whether they are spontaneous, creative, artistic, apassionatemomnalytical, strong-willed, stubborn, articulate, shy, introverted or extroverted.

And then we ponder what to do about it.

Like how I still remember the first time my middle girl handed me a fistful of air and asked me to eat the “sandwich” she had made for me when her older sister had never yet cooked up a pretend meal for me to taste.

Or how I watched as one of my daughters played with her toys by lining them all up in one straight line, categorizing the farm animals into groups.  And my second daughter played with the same toys by creating elaborate story lines and interactions like, “Hi, what is your name?  I’m here to see the farm!”

And how two of my daughters can play for hours on their own without any need for outside conversation or stimulation and my oldest daughter can’t survive 15 minutes without someone to do things with her.

I ponder all this because God has given me these gifts, these children, and being a mom means engaging in the discipline of pondering, taking the time to listen without speaking, watch without intervening, evaluate, assess, and yes, even marvel.

Sometimes we miss it.  We’re busy; they’re busy.  They struggle and we don’t realize it.  They needed us and we failed to see.  They hurt and we were distracted.

But our desire, our goal as moms, is to mother like Mary, who

“was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” (Luke 2:9 HCSB).

We do this because want to get this right.  We want to parent these blessings with wisdom, making the right choices for their benefit and for their future.  God teaches us who they are only when we take time to pay attention.

In her book, The Passionate Mom, Susan Merrill writes that a mom must

ponder everything she learns about her child so she can truly know her child.

This in turn becomes a spiritual discipline all its own, because pondering is the call of every mom.

More than this, it’s the call of every Christ-follower.

None of us can randomly and haphazardly scramble through this life maze and find wisdom without hunting for it or choose to turn here and there correctly without actively pursuing direction.

The Psalmist challenged us:

Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord (Psalm 107:43 NIV).

Wisdom comes from heeding…from pondering.

And what do we meditate on?  What do we watch so carefully and take our time to consider, churning it over in our mind, thinking of the implications and action steps?

We ponder the “loving deeds of the Lord.”

Not just skip right over them in haste and busyness.  Not shout back a hurried “thanks, God” as we tumble on our way headfirst into another crisis.

No, here we pause and take the time to see and to say, “Look how God showed His love for me…what does this mean for me now and tomorrow and every day to come?”

Solomon assured us that attaining wisdom is an active pursuit:

Tune your ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.  Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures (Prov. 2:2-4)

Tune in.

Concentrate.

Cry out for it.

Ask for it.

Search and seek like it’s the greatest treasure and you the Indiana Jones in this adventure.

Knowing our children doesn’t happen accidentally.  We don’t become the expert on our baby instantly at birth or know all we need to know to parent them into adulthood before the nurse rolls us out of the hospital in the wheelchair.

We learn through pondering.

And this God of ours…who He is and how He works, what He desires and plans for us…we can’t fathom without the wisdom that comes through pondering His loving deeds and pursuing wisdom actively, passionately, constantly, and even patiently.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Complicating Grace

We had given them instructions.

While I was away all day at a conference in Richmond, Dad was on duty for swim lessons and a friend’s birthday party and everything in between.

So, I prepped my daughters in advance with specific instructions because you have to go through the bathrooms at the gym in order to reach the pool.  One dad…three daughters….suddenly this whole 003job becomes more complicated.

“Now, you can’t change at the pool after swim lessons,” I told them.  “You just need to slip your cover-up on over your swimsuits and quickly move through the bathroom to the other side where Dad will be waiting for you. He’ll take you home where you can change.”

He told them the same thing.

So, 20 minutes after he sent them through the bathroom after swim lessons, they finally emerged.

Fully dressed.

Mostly.

Because we had planned this all out, I hadn’t packed them underwear to change into after swim class.  They were, after all, supposed to wear their swim suits home.

I can only imagine what every other woman in the gym bathroom witnessed as these three girls tried to change into clothes and discovered a lack of undergarments.

Oh my.

Fortunately, a mom we know had pity on my youngest and at least gave her a plastic bag for her wet swimsuit.  This is what my daughter told me as soon as I arrived home that night.

“How were swim lessons?” I asked.

“Good.  Natalie’s mom gave me a plastic bag.”

Okay….

They must have struggled through wet clothes and changing in a public bathroom and searching frantically through the clothes for the things they needed and then had to makeshift a solution when they found their resources were lacking.

But if they had listened to us, yes, if they had just listened and obeyed the simple instructions we’d given, they would have had everything they needed.  It would have been so simple.

And I take this to heart.

Yes, if I just listen to my God—all-knowing, all-powerful, so gracious and loving—then perhaps I wouldn’t struggle with so much insufficiency and lack, perhaps the situations that threaten to drown me in frantic worry and desperate searching would be simplified and peace-filled.

Yet, sometimes I’m just not listening.

And sometimes I’m listening; I’m just not obeying.

Either way, I create havoc.

I’m not alone in this, I know.  God granted Solomon supernatural wisdom, and yet the vast kingdom he inherited from his father, King David, disintegrated when Solomon died.

All because he didn’t listen.

God gave such clear instructions for the kings of Israel:

However, he (the king) must not acquire many horses for himself or send the people back to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are never to go back that way again.’ He must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won’t go astray. He must not acquire very large amounts of silver and gold for himself (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).

Three simple commands:

1. Don’t have too many horses (especially ones you get from Egypt, where you were once enslaved).

2. Don’t have many wives (especially those who will lead your heart astray).

3. Don’t build up extreme personal wealth.

Perhaps the rules seemed so arbitrary, even unfair, and certainly not fun.  All the other kings, I’m sure, married for political alliances, acquired wealth and then showed it off, and maintained stables with pride.

Why not Solomon and the kings of Israel?

The Bible Knowledge Commentary notes that “All three prohibitions, then, were designed to reduce the king to the status of a servant totally dependent on His Master, the Lord.”

God planned for his king’s heart to be humbled, for him to remember Who would deliver him in battle and Who would provide for his needs.

Sadly, Solomon doesn’t have a reputation for wisdom alone.  No, he’s known for opulence, and his 700 wives (plus 300 concubines), who led him to worship foreign gods and stone idols.

And his horses.

We’re told: “Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his chariot horses, and he had 12,000 horses” (1 Kings 4:26).  Not only that, but Solomon’s horses came from Egypt (2 Chronicles 1:16).

Lisa Harper writes:

grace can masquerade as difficulty and discipline”(Malachi).

So it was for malachiSolomon.  This was grace in disguise and he missed it, missed seeing through the mask of rules and restrictions to know that God was at work here.

And me, when I’m rushing and not listening, or listening and not heeding, how can I see grace for the grace it is?

Instead, I’m begging, “Mercy,” and this mercy He’s already given.

I still my heart to listen.

I steel my heart to obey.

And grace is what I see.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King