From one home to another. From one group of hard workers to another. A loving but teary send off on one end and a joyful welcome on the other. Soon I will try to post a more complete reflection on today. But at this very late hour I will simply share a link for a song that I just now heard. My phone randomly chose it earlier today as we began our drive north. I looked at the title and thought, “what song is that and why did my phone randomly begin playing that?” Then I proceeded to turn off the music and not listen to anything the whole drive. Turns out God picked that song for this moment, late late at night as everyone else is asleep. It was already cued up on Spotify so, intrigued by the title, I put in my earbuds and hit play. A perfect way to end this day, praising God for all that was, all that is now, and all that is to come.
And hear me say, yes and amen Tomorrow You’ll be faithful again
And I’ll praise You, God, for all You are And all I am, for You are my portion Forever, for all that was And all that is now And all that is to come
At the beginning of this day I posted on Instagram and if I’d had a spare minute I would’ve shared it here too. Here’s what I said there:
The Lord provided that and more. No less than 38 helpers worked enthusiastically to load everything they possibly could. They were so zealous in fact, that they outpaced us by about 2pm. Meaning that we couldn’t finish packing and dealing with things fast enough to keep everyone loading. That right there is one good problem to have on moving day. So beyond blessed by our family and church family today. And the best part? I can’t imagine a more joyful group to do this work. Adults of 80 or 90 all the way down to 4 year olds, all pitching in and working together. Problem solving, restocking boxes and tape, getting a second truck (yikes!). Overwhelming? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. But so good for such a large task. Honestly, moving days can make the best of people “spikey”. But this crew? Nope. Laughter. Endless conversation. Joking around. Teamwork among unlikely pairs. Thank you, dear people, for the way you blessed us today.
And our girls. Wow. Again so thankful. Top notch kiddos. Running on not nearly enough sleep, keeping good attitudes even if they are struggling with this big transition. And after the long day, a scrap of downtime, and some dinner, those three girls stayed up with me until almost 1am to finish packing up what was left. And had fun doing it. The grace of God right there.
Oh and did I mention, Lydia turned 13 today. What a 13th birthday! We joked that she had a huge party – it was just a strange one where the guests took everything out of our house.
So now we rest a short night – the last night in our house of 15 years. Then tomorrow we finish loading up and drive it all up to Barakel, where we have another whole group of people waiting to welcome us and help us unload.
Thank you for your prayers as we travel and make this transition. And thank you to our financial supporters who make it possible for us to go and work at Barakel. We are so blessed by your giving.
We are fully supported and our house is on the market! As I said in our last post, what a crazy time for us to be at this point in our process. But as a friend reminded me this week, God is never early or late, always right on time. That is what we are trusting, and we are sure glad that we can! This would undoubtedly be a stressful whirlwind of a time were we relying on our own wisdom and understanding. We are thankful daily that the Lord has all of it planned, accounted for, and provided for. And we pray that, whatever situation you find yourself in during this time in our country and world, you would also be resting in the fact that if you look to the Lord he has all of the details of your life planned, accounted for, and provided for.
Last week as I was reading in my chronological Bible, I came upon Jeremiah chapter 32. It was set in a long line-up of daily readings about the foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem. Actually, it wasn’t even just the destruction of Jerusalem, but many places: Egypt, Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia. It was following daily readings about God’s judgement on Pharaoh, Jeremiah’s imprisonment, lists of Jerusalem’s sins, and prophesies about Babylon’s coming attack on Judah. So there in my reading for that day was this story, which sometimes seems randomly placed, about Jeremiah buying a field. I’m certain I have read it in the past and thought, why on earth is this here? What is this random story, in the middle of all this prophesy, about a routine business transaction? But on this day, as I read it, it was so clear to me that it isn’t random at all.
Leading up to chapter 32, there is Jeremiah, repeatedly warning God’s people that His judgment is coming, making the king very angry in the process. As a result, Jeremiah is being held by the King in the courtyard of the guard at the palace; rather like a ‘house arrest’ where he is not free, but people can come to see him. Surrounding the city are the Babylonians, occupying the land around the city and beginning to attack the city just as he has been warning the people. And in the midst of that…the Lord tells him to buy a field. Oh, and not just any field. A field that was in Jeremiah’s family, so he had the right of inheritance to it; which meant that it was God’s intention that the land would not leave a particular bloodline, but would be redeemed by their family if the need arose. It would symbolize longevity in the land. A family staying and living and remaining. AND, it just happened to be land that was already occupied by the attacking Babylonians. That’s right, as Spurgeon said, “it was purchasing an estate which was utterly valueless.” But Jeremiah proceeded as asked. He paid for it, registered the deed, put them in clay jars as was usual at the time, which was like a time capsule – sealing it up to preserve it, trusting it would be needed in the future. Why did he do all of this? In obedience to the Lord, because the Lord had said to him, “Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” Even in the face of what looked grim, he acted in obedience and trusted the outcome to the Lord.
Following this purchase, Jeremiah prays to the Lord, and it is recorded for us in chapter 32, verses 17-25. He begins with, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” He acknowledges God’s power and might, and then proceeds to affirm many ways that God has provided for his people throughout history. And then at the end of the prayer there is something that I find very comforting, because it’s a very relatable human reaction. Jeremiah reminds God, as though he needs to, that the Babylonians are in fact attacking the city, just as God said they would. And that the city will in fact be handed over to the Babylonians, just as God warned it would. And then he seems to share his confusion at why on earth God would choose THIS TIME to have Jeremiah buy a field, symbolizing longevity in the land. Verse 25 says, “And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, you, O Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.'” Or in our modern words perhaps, “Now Lord? Why would this even make sense now…when our whole city is going to be captured?”
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” In his answer, the Lord confirms that, yes, Jerusalem will indeed be handed over to the Babylonians, because the people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil in God’s sight. But it doesn’t end there. God also continues to tell of when He will restore his people. “I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people and I will be their God…I will make an everlasting covenant with them…I will never stop doing good to them…Once more fields will be bought in this land…and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed…” If you read further in chapter 33, God goes on to promise peace, health, and healing, and ultimately a redeemer, that is, Christ.
On the particular day that I read this passage, I had been feeling admittedly quite defeated about all of the crazy things happening in our world and country. The negative news had bombarded me and left me discouraged and impossibly uncertain. We have been obediently following God’s call to camping ministry for two years now. We have waited for God’s perfect timing, with our support level slowly climbing. We found ourselves getting very close to being fully supported and now, in fact, are at 97% of our needed support. We have been making plans for a transition, prepping our house to sell, waiting on one last project to be finished before listing, choosing a tentative week to move. All the things we have been waiting for. But looking at all of the new uncertainty happening in our country, facing closings and shutdowns of what feels like everything, I had found myself feeling a bit like Jeremiah in this passage. And we feel a bit like saying to the Lord, “And though our country is being ravaged by a destructive virus, You, O Sovereign Lord, say to us, ‘Sell your house, quit your job, and move north.'” Oh how thankful I was to read of Jeremiah’s struggle with what the Lord asked him to do, at what seemed like an impossible time. And how much more thankful I was to read of the Lord’s reply: “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
One month ago, this looked like perfect timing to us. It was all lining up just so. Now, if we succumb to our humanity, it would look like a terrible time. How do you sell a house when words like ‘quarantine’ and phrases like ‘social distancing’ are the rules of the day? How do you quit a job when words like ‘recession’ are flying around economic reports? Well, all we can hope is that we do these things with the same faith that Jeremiah had. A faith in the Sovereign Lord, who says, “Is anything too hard for me?”
Please pray for us in the days ahead. We are knocking on the door of being fully supported, and are faithfully but cautiously moving forward with the same plan we have felt called to all along: to serve the Lord, the God of all mankind, and to proclaim His greatness at Camp Barakel. And we are preparing to see God show that truly nothing is too hard for Him.
Just to keep everyone up to date, we are currently at 89%. A small change, but as we get closer we want to keep our progress current. And while it may seem like a small step forward, we are encouraged! We are beginning to make plans for a move north in May, and we are trusting that the Lord will work out all the details necessary for that to happen. And there are many! Getting our home ready to sell (including one more repair project that needs to happen), navigating that sale, finishing the task of downsizing, finding a home for our kitty :(, raising the last 11% of our support, bringing closure to the many things we are involved in here in the Brighton area, not to mention the whole process of actually packing up and moving. It is a daunting list, and if we dwell too long on it, we will be quickly overwhelmed and undermotivated. So instead, we take one day at a time, one task at a time, focusing on what we can do now and letting go of what is yet unknown or unresolved. God is fully able to bring about this transition in the very best time, in the very best way, for our good, and for His glory.
We praise the Lord we have 79% of our support committed! Our hope is to be at camp by this summer. Wouldn’t it be great if we could make the move north in May 2020, in order to be settled and ready to join in the work of the big summer camping season? If you have been considering joining our wonderful team of supporters, now would be a great time to do so! We hope to see it pick up speed at the end as people jump in to help us get there.
So what does that remaining 21% look like? Based on the amount set by the Barakel board of trustees, we need around another $1000 per month to be fully funded. It may seem like a lot, but broken down into individual supporters and churches, it all adds up. We are confident in our calling, and know that God will bring more of His people to provide the remaining funds.
Why do we even need to raise money to go live and work at Barakel? Well, in order to keep camper costs as low as possible, and to trust fully in the Lord’s provision, there is no payroll at Camp Barakel. The resident staff who live and work there year round are not paid anything by camp. Rather, they seek the Lord’s provision through those that He would send to give regularly so that the work of camp can be accomplished. We are thankful for this opportunity to learn to rely fully on the Lord for all we have. After all, everything we have comes from Him anyway, so why not take that to a whole new level of faithful living? And it is all through the amazing network of His people that this can happen. Please contact us if you are interested in being a part of our ministry at Camp Barakel! Call us at 810-623-9917, email us at email@example.com or go to our prayer and giving page.
I recently read an Instagram post by someone waiting to grow their family. Another a while ago by someone struggling through an unemployment wait. We wait and pray for lots of things in lots of different seasons. Starting a family, growing a family, finding a job. Waiting for a spouse to come back, for a wayward child to repent, for healing, for recovery. Sometimes we can work at the process and help it along. Sometimes we can’t. Always we can pray that the Lord would work. That He will bring the desired end at the right time. That He will change our hearts in the process. And we can trust, as we heard in a message while visiting a supporting church, that He will even make our prayers perfect when we no longer know what to pray for as we wait.
“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Our ministry update? We continue to wait. We still trust in God’s call and plan to lead us into full time ministry at Camp Barakel. But in order for that to happen, we wait on God’s provision of our financial support. We wait as He moves to bring commitments from churches, families, and individuals to be a part of our monthly support. We currently have commitments for 73% of our required monthly support. We trust the Lord has a plan to provide that remaining 27%. We know He has a perfect time for us to make the move north. We trust the truth of the verse that comes just a bit after the one above:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
We find encouragement in all of those who have already committed to support us in ministry. And we seek more to come alongside and join us. What might that look like? If 28 families or individuals committed $50 a month, or if 14 families committed $100 a month, or if 3 or 4 more churches join us, any of these would meet our goal. So we continue to pray that the Lord will work. That He will bring the desired end at the right time. And that He will change our hearts in the process, making us more like Him.
Blessings to you and your family as we head into this season of thanksgiving and joy!
Last week I had the privilege of playing piano for the middle schoolers on West Side at Camp Barakel. At the beginning of the week, the campers were hesitant and uncertain in their singing, and I’m sure I was equally so in my playing. Although I have been to many Barakel chapels, I had not played piano in any, so I was getting a feel for how that worked and how to transition smoothly through them. Some of the campers had also been to many Barakel chapels, but this year’s camp choruses were new to them. And other campers had never been to Barakel at all before, so chapel was new to them and all of the choruses were new to them, including the classic and well loved song “Camp Barakel”. So for the first couple of days, we were all figuring it out together (thankful for our experienced song leader who was neither hesitant or uncertain!) and the singing was quiet and perhaps a bit disjointed.
But come about Friday, I was more comfortable, the campers were more confident, and then the songs really started to pull together. Then those choruses really began to do what they are intended to do: turn the hearts of the campers to their creator and to the many truths of which they are singing. I could tell when the nostalgic camp song was no longer new to any of them. When the campers who were at Barakel for the first time had begun to make this “their camp.” When they sang out with enthusiasm,
"Camp Barakel, Camp Barakel, We're glad to turn again, To this bless'd place where truth and grace from God's own Word abound; Our lives anew we give to Him to live and serve our best, Camp Barakel, We'll ne'er forget, For surely God has blessed."
“Our lives anew we give to Him to live and serve our best.” What wonderful words to hear those campers sing with more confidence and more ownership. I couldn’t help but smile as I played them through it and heard what sounded like double the singers compared to the beginning of the week. And that is just one line from the camp song. They sang 10 different choruses over and over throughout the week, each filled with truth.
"Who is like the Lord our God? Strong to save, faithful in love. My debt is paid and the vict'ry won: The Lord is my salvation."
"Christ the sure and steady anchor, while the tempest rages on, when temptation claims the battle and it seems the night has won. Deeper still then goes the anchor, though I justly stand accused. I will hold fast to the anchor; it shall never be removed."
"Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure."
"All praise to Him who reigns in love, Who guides the galaxies above, Yet bends to hear our every prayer, With sovereign power and tender care."
"The Word of God is light in my darkness, hope for the hopeless, strong and true. The Word of God is strength for the weary, a shield for those who trust in You."
"Lord, I need you, oh, I need You. Every hour I need you. My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need You."
What an absolute blessing to help lead those campers in better learning these songs so they can worship God more fully. What an encouragement to know that they will go home with those songs and those words rolling around in their heads. Some of the kids, like mine when they were young campers, will go home and sing them for their parents, in turn getting the words rolling around in their parents’ heads. What a potentially far reaching impact just from some simple camp choruses learned during a week of camp. I’m so thankful for the role I was able to play in that process. And I am equally thankful for the way those words impacted my own heart over the week.
“Our lives anew we give to Him to live and serve our best.” Well that’s the very thing we are seeking to do on this path He has us on, isn’t it? We are seeking to give our lives anew to Him, following where He has called us to live and serve our best. We currently have commitments for 70% of the needed support. We would love to get that remaining 30% and make the move by the end of the year. Would you pray for us as we continue raising our financial support to go live and serve our best at Camp Barakel?
Here’s a bit of an update about some of the things we have been up to over the past couple of months relating to our coming move to Barakel! Over Memorial Day weekend we went up during Family Camp, stayed at our empty camp house, and started on some work in the house. Some painting, some electrical, some general planning for when we live there. Here are some photos from that weekend….
The first Sunday in June, we went for a second visit to one of our supporting churches, New Hope Church of Oxford. We have been so blessed to visit this church and meet some of the people there. They are a small but mighty church with a large vision for impacting the world for Christ. We are so blessed to have this group of believers on our support team!
This particular Sunday we shared our testimony of how the Lord led us to serve full time at Camp Barakel. We were so encouraged by how those in attendance seemed to connect with our story and relate to the concepts we were sharing. Much of our story revolved around our calling to ministry and the balance between working toward that calling and waiting on the Lord. Here is a link to the message we shared from the live facebook stream that morning! (I personally was glad that I didn’t know for sure we were streaming live until we were all done!)
We made another weekend trip to camp during the first week of summer camp. Mostly we did more painting (I’m sure we’ll be mentioning painting multiple times in the future…), Jim did some work in the office, we got to say hi to Grace as she was counseling her first week, we went to Sunday morning chapel which is always a blessing, Mary Emma and Lydia got to try out being staff kids for a couple of ambushes, and I spontaneously filled in playing piano for West Side Chapel one evening. That was great fun! It was my first opportunity ever to play piano for chapel and it was such a blessing to help lead those young voices in praising God! A little last minute since I’d never played the songs before, but helped along by our future neighbor with her copy of the music and her piano that I could practice on. 😉
We continue to enjoy these adventures as we wait on the Lord to provide the rest of our support. We currently have 65% of our needed support and we eagerly await the remaining amount so that we can make the move north. In the meantime, we wait some and we work some, making the most of our time the best we can. Thank you for your prayers during this process! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining our support team!
It has been a year since we sent out our first support letters, and we are thankful to have 60% of our support committed. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for us and for those who have agreed to be a part of our support team!
We are excited to get the remaining support needed so that we can join in the work up at Barakel. They are in a season of preparation getting ready for their big summer season hosting hundreds of campers. They would welcome another family to join in the work, so we would love to be headed that way soon! Would you pray with us that God would provide the support we need to move the move north?
We have finally passed the halfway point in our support raising! We currently have 52% of our support committed. We are excited to have passed the halfway mark, and continue to look to the Lord for his provision of the other 48%. We sent letters out in December and forgot to post them here, so we will do that now with a slightly updated version of that most recent letter. We do continue to seek individuals, families, and churches who would partner with us in this ministry. We cannot move to Barakel and begin our work there until we have raised 100% of our needed support. Thank you for praying with us, and feel free to spread the word of our need. If you have a church who may be interested in hearing about our ministry, or perhaps a Bible study group or small group where our need could be shared, please do contact us.
We are excited to be at 49% of our needed monthly support! It has been exciting to watch God work as people are moved to commit their support. We are almost halfway there, but we still have another half to raise! We don’t know where this remaining support will come from, but we know God does, and he will work it all out in His time. At our Commissioning service we were encouraged by Paul Gardner’s message, in which he quoted King George VI from his Christmas address in December of 1939. Of course, our unknown path and uncertainty does not compare to that which the world was facing at the time of WW2. But the response to look to God and trust Him in uncertainty is applicable now as it was then.
“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’
Last Sunday evening our church held a service to officially commission us to the ministry at Camp Barakel. The evening was so many things. It was encouraging, it was humbling, it was exciting, and it was even a little over-whelming. The service was part of a Missions Emphasis week where we focus, as a church, on our mission families and how the Lord is working in their lives. What a surreal experience to be included in that group! We were joined by many of our family and friends, a couple members of the Barakel Board of Trustees, some of the Barakel staff, as well as much of our church family.
The evening began with a dinner, which is what our church calls an International Banquet. It ties in with the missions theme by incorporating dishes from around the world in a potluck style meal.
The service followed the dinner, and began with an introduction from our pastor with an overview of all of the mission families our church helps to support.
That was followed by a slide-show presentation given by Jim about our calling, some general information about Barakel, and our future roles there. We were so glad to be able to share this information with our church family since we have been sharing it with churches we are visiting, but many in our sending church were still relatively unfamiliar with Camp Barakel and our involvement there.
Following Jim’s presentation, we were blessed to hear a short message by Paul Gardner, Camp Barakel’s director. We were challenged and encouraged through this to keep strong in the faith as we continue in this journey.
Finally, the last portion of the service was the commissioning of our family by our pastors and deacons. What a privilege to be prayed over and committed to the Lord by our church as we seek to be sent off into a full time ministry.
Encouraging, humbling, exciting, and a little over-whelming. Both sobering and celebratory. So good to remember that this is the Lord’s work and always has been. It’s not ours, and it’s not about us. We are simply willing to go if He is willing to use us. We are simply finding work that the Lord is already doing, and looking to see how He can use us there.
We are making exciting progress with our support! As of today we are at 41% of our needed monthly support! We are excited about how many supporters the Lord has already brought our way, and we are looking to Him to continue providing the rest of the needed monthly support.
Over Labor Day weekend, we once again went and helped out up at Family Camp at Barakel. Our whole family worked in various areas, minus Grace, who had just the week before moved to Hillsdale College to begin her first year there. The rest of us worked in the dishroom again, like during Memorial Day weekend. Now we’re really getting that hang of it! Rachel, Mary Emma and Lydia also helped out in children’s chapel classes. Jim got some experience serving snack one evening, and also running Thunder Express one afternoon. Mary Emma and Lydia also enjoyed some free time hanging around with staff kids and getting to know them better. At both family camps, they have enjoyed being on the “staff kid” team for the teen activity called “Ambush” one evening.
Rachel enjoyed playing flute during worship in Saturday evening and Sunday morning chapel times. Here is a video clip from that blessed time!
We still have a long way to go and we can’t move to Barakel to begin working until we are fully supported. If you would like to know more about how you can help us reach our goal, check out our Prayer and Giving page.
Throughout the summer we are thankful to have continued to add slowly to our committed support and are currently at 29% of our needed monthly support. We are praying and trusting that this fall we will see this increase at a faster rate, but we trust the Lord knows just the right timing for our family.
This summer we have stayed busy with lots of things as a family, sometimes with several of us going in different directions. We kicked off the summer at Barakel over Memorial Day weekend working in the dishroom as a family.
When we headed home on that Monday, we left Grace there for the summer to serve on summer staff.
In June, Mary Emma was kept busy with driver’s ed, and at the end of June, we took a family vacation to Ohio and Kentucky. We were glad Grace could have two weeks off to be able to go with us and also to have 4th of July at home once we got back.
We participated with our church in the 4th of July parade, and July also had us busy with a week of VBS at our church.
The first week of August, all of us except Jim headed up to Barakel for a week. Rachel worked in the kitchen, Mary Emma and Lydia were campers, and Grace was glad to have us all join her there!
The Monday we came home Jim had already left for a mission trip with our church to New York City.
In just a week from now, we will take Grace to start her freshman year at Hillsdale College. And we will finish off our summer back at Barakel to once again work in the dishroom, this time for Labor Day family camp.
Please pray for us as we continue to raise our financial support. We are talking to several churches, and we do have one we will visit in September. We are thankful for this opportunity and trust the Lord will use it to connect us to more that would be willing to support us in our ministry.
We’ve had a busy first month of raising support. We are doing some new tasks directly related to support raising like writing and sending a support letter and getting prayer cards. But we are also busy doing lots of normal life May activities like finishing our school year, having a garage sale, and getting ready for a ballet recital. Then throw in some special events like having our first homeschool graduate and an open house! It’s keeping us plenty busy! But in the midst of all of that, the Lord has been busy too, putting together the beginning of our group of supporters. It has been fun watching the percentage start to climb.
0.3%…3%…5%…11%…12%…18%…and finally 23%!
We’re excited to be joined by people who want to support our ministry. We’re grateful to have raised 23% of our needed monthly support. And we’re eager to see God’s plan and timing for the future. Contact us if you would be interested in joining our team of supporters. Check out the “contact us” portion of our website for all of our contact info. Also check out the “prayer and giving” page for more details on that.
We are preparing to send out our letters to friends, family, and churches. We are trusting that the Lord will use them to begin raising up a team of supporters, which will then allow us to go and do the work He has called us to do!
On March 29, we received word that our application for resident missionary staff had been approved by the Camp Barakel board of trustees. This was the next step in a 3 year process to follow the Lord’s leading to serve Him in full-time ministry work at Camp Barakel. We are now able to start the process of building a network of supporters.