Why 2 Weeks at Camp?

By | pine cove, shores | No Comments

Optimized-11S03-05-  1677Here at Pine Cove, we have done one week camping as far as I remember.  It has become our standard to have campers arrive on Sunday and leave on Saturday.  One week is a good amount of time to have fun, connect with a counselor and cabin mates and most importantly, learn more about the Bible and God’s love.

But a few years ago, we started wandering what it would be like to allow campers to come for two weeks (13 days).  We started this program at the Shores camp, which is the 10th-12th grade camp which I have the privilege to lead.  We called the two week program, “Overflow”. This name is based out of Colossians 2:6-8:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Our desire with Overflow was that high school campers could come for two weeks and leave overflowing with not only the truth of the Bible and God’s love, but thankfulness for that as well.

Our one week camp is really strong and filled with so much fun and activities, but there is little room for more. When you allow campers to come for a longer period of time, you can do more.  It gives us more opportunities, relationships and truth.

More Opportunities:  Since starting the program in 2008, we have seen phenomenal success.  We basically stretch out the one week experience over two weeks and fill in the holes with extra stuff.  We make room to do fun events like a service project, visiting and serving at other Pine Cove camps and even going bowling.  There is now room for more opportunities.

More Relationships:  With being at camp longer with others, campers can bond more with their counselor and cabin mates.  Sometimes, it just takes longer for barriers and walls to break down between people.  With being at camp longer, stronger relationships can form.  A relationship with at least one of our staff (an older mentor) who can help them navigate life is crucial to helping them not be taken captive by wrong things.

More Truth:  With a longer time at camp, campers can essentially detox from the pressures of the world and focus in not only on themselves, but learn about truth. We make room for more in depth studies and teaching seminars.  We are able to unpack more truths of the Bible and give our campers time to process and deal with it.  Two weeks allows us time to help campers be more established in their faith.

In the last few years we have started two week camping at a few of our other camps at Pine Cove.  The Timbers, Ranch and Outback all have the option as well.  I can tell you from knowing all the directors of those camps personally, they have the same desire to see the lives of campers transformed in their one week and two week programs as well.

Thinking about two weeks of camp for you or your camper?

Find out more: Shores | Timbers | Ranch | Outback

Do You Talk to Lesbians?

By | evangelism, life | No Comments

“They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them.”

This is what Rosaria Champagne Butterfield says in her story about converting from being an angry, christian-attacking lesbian to a believer in Jesus Christ.

She tells the story of how she recently published an article that attacked christians, the trinity and republicans in the local newspaper and how that was the moment of her life beginning to change.  But she didn’t know it.

She received all kinds of feedback, mostly negative, but a man named Ken Smith sent her a response described by her as a “kind and inquiring letter”.  She says: “Ken didn’t argue with my article; rather, he asked me to defend the presuppositions that undergirded it.”

Then, after she responded to him, Ken and his wife Floy invited this strong standing, anti-christian lesbian into their home for dinner one night.

Then came the friendship.

Then came her salvation.

“They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them.”

That line stuck out to me throughout the whole article.  Are we as Christians ok with having deep and tough conversations with others who disagree with us, believe crazy things, or even hate us?

I hope so.

Will we invite them into our homes?

I hope so.

Will we go through the long process of befriending, talking and understanding, and trust God with the results?

I hope so.

I am inspired by the fact that Ken and Floy were willing to enter into a relationship with someone so different than them.  Because they didn’t worry about what others thought, because they were ok being disagreed with and because they didn’t ignore this person or issue,  it resulted in God saving her soul.

Remember, these things take time and do not happen over night.  But I think the question for us remains.

Are we ok with entering into the lives of people who are different, who are angry, or who do not like us?

Jesus would certainly hope so.

Check out the article.  What do you get from it?


Laziness and Confusion [Lessons from my Sabbatical]

By | leadership, life, rest | No Comments

About a year ago, our board of directors decided that it would be good for all directors at Pine Cove to take a month long sabbatical after they have served for 5 years.  Since this was my 6th year, my time had come.  The word sabbatical is hard to say, and it is hard to spell.  I have to spell check it every time I write it.  Usually I just write a bunch of letters “sbbbtcall” and hope my computer or iPhone does the rest. But the word comes from the Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, which literally means “ceasing”. Thank wikipedia for this info, not me.  So it is basically just a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting for a certain period of time.  I like the term rest.  And “rest” is a lot easier to spell than “sbbbtcall”.

Today mine officially ends.  Here’s what I did, what I learned and what I would change if I ever do it again…

What I Did:

Week 1:  Had a week of recovery/transition from having just gone on a 10 day trip to Argentina.  I was surprised by how much this trip took it out of me this year physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.  I was able to hang out, did a little reading and finished up a few wood working projects that had been on the list.  It was tricky trying to slow down life a bit while also feeling pretty run down.

Week 2: Traveled to Nebraska with my family to visit my wife’s family.  I then headed out west to go on a 3 day solo trip to the mountains to snowboard at Breckenridge and Vail. (Vail won)  I also went “offline” during that time which meant no social media or email at all.  Then came back to Nebraska for some more family time. Probably the highlight of the trip was being introduced to Downton Abbey! We purchased all 3 seasons immediately on our return.

sabattical pics 1

Week 3: Transitioned back home.  Did odd jobs around the house.  Read.  Did a tiny bit of wood working.  Hung out with family.  And I built Finley a sweet cottage out of cardboard!   My days mostly consisted of enjoying the morning together as a family with coffee and breakfast and reading.  The days were a mixture of play, reading, odd jobs, organizing the house and or working on the yard.  Almost every night was putting Finley to bed, and then enjoying dinner over the next episode of Downton Abbey!  This was the week we also transitioned our 21 month old to her new bed.  That was fun!

Week 4:  Continued much of what week 3 consisted of, but had to take more of an effort to not think/worry about what was coming.  (there is quite a lot for me to do when I get back to my work at Pine Cove, so I had to be careful not to worry too much)

I read:

  • Life After Murder, by Nancy Mullane
  • The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler
  • Lit, by Tony Reinke
  • Andromeda Strain, by Micheal Crichton
  • Desiring God, by John Piper (not finished)
  • The Aquitaine Progression, by Robert Ludlum (not finished)
  • The Bible


What I Learned:

I need to know MY values.  I had never thought about it much, but Pine Cove in its mission and in the people I work with are a substantial anchor in my life.  This is a good thing.  But it can also be a massive crutch.  While gone, I had to look in the mirror often and face difficult questions about myself, my beliefs, and my values without taking cues from everyone around me.  Although hard, this was a fantastic experience and much needed for anyone who works in ministry.  At the end of the day, I alone have to ask and answer the deepest questions of my beliefs and values.  No one else.  More on this later, I imagine.

Rest and laziness can be very blurry.  I think this is mainly due to our culture.  I kept having the nagging feeling that I had to have SOMETHING to show for my time off.  I didn’t want to “squander” it so to speak.  If I were to error in life, it would not be towards laziness.  I am a go getter, and I like to accomplish things.  I also like to start things.  Lots of things.  It took a lot of willpower to rest.  And truthfully, it felt like being lazy.  But I had to re-orient my belief system. I had to decide what was rest and what was being lazy and live by it.  For example, I didn’t have to “maximize” every moment in order to avoid laziness.  Now the trick is how to continue this as a way of life.

Confusion is a part of life.  Because I had more time to think, (I am a major thinker/processor along with being a talker), I was confused a lot more.  This had to do with books I was reading, questions I was asking and what I thought I should do certain days.  Since my structure of work was gone, I found it a little unsettling at times, and well, confusing.  But being confused is part of life.  And it can take time for the fog to lift.  The sun doesn’t just shoot up in the sky and eliminate the shadows.

I am an introverted extrovert.  I really enjoyed laying low.  I really enjoyed hanging out with my wife and daughter. I did not once get bored or need to “get out”.  This confirmed that while I enjoy social situations and time with friend and family, I really do like time alone. And I think I like it a bit more.  That is why I phrased it “introverted extrovert”.

Expectations can hurt.  As I prepared for extended time off, it was amazing how I was picturing myself in the weeks to come:  Sitting at a desk C.S. Lewis style every day crafting my new philosophy of life and recording my latest revelations of God.  Taking long walks with my family, having picnics on a quilted blanket and giggling together.  Reading 18 books and feeling so wise.  … Um, yea right.  … We can probably thank movies for this.  Or social media.  It seems that everyone ELSE puts their best foot forward and enjoys life to the fullest.  Not me, it seemed.  I then had to come to terms with MYSELF and who I AM and what the time off really was supposed to be about and forget about the expectations of what it “should” be.  I had to lay the smack down on my expectations and bring myself back to reality.  Yes, I had little moments that I wanted to have, but not nearly what I thought they would be.  And that is ok!  I was able to connect with God, my family and myself as well as rest from work. Trying to control what that should look like is exhausting.


What I Would have Done Differently:

  1. Don’t Cannonball.  I wouldn’t have jumped in right away.  This time was a timing thing that I couldn’t control, but if I ever do another Sabbatical, I will make sure I am working and being methodical in wrapping things up until it happens.  Because I had a 10 day trip right before, I was unable to delegate everything or feel secure about being gone.  I was also incredibly drained after the recent trip.
  2. Clarify Boundaries.  I would clarify boundaries with my family a teeny bit better.  Things were truly great at home.  But there were times when I almost felt bad about sitting on the back porch rather than helping my wife with our daughter.  I am sure all dad’s can relate to this.  The only thing I would have changed is a little more discussion with my wife on what I need and what she will need.  But it really was great at home with tag-teaming and hanging out all together.
  3. Lowered Expectations.  I already talked about this, but I would work hard not to worry about what it will be.  I would provide myself with goals and boundaries, but leave it pretty open to what happens and be content with what happens.
  4. Gone Offline More.  I wouldn’t unplug for the whole time, but I really enjoyed being unplugged while in Colorado.  It is AMAZING how much we go to our phones and social media.  I would have set better boundaries there for sure!
  5. More Exercise.  The absence of exercise is not rest.  While I did many physical things, I should have added a little more regular physical exercise to the mix to keep myself feeling fresh and healthy.

All in all, it was a great experience.  I am truly grateful for it and I have emerged feeling very good about the time.  I am ready to get back and rejoin the mission of what we are doing at Pine Cove.  I am eager for structure and to serve.  And I am thankful to work and serve at a place that values me enough to allow for me to take some time to connect with God, my family and myself.

Feel free to ask me more questions!


Hating My Neighbor

By | life | No Comments

The other day I went out to my garage shop to work on a seat/stool that I have been needing to make.  (I actually found the design via “A Beautiful Mess” if you are interested)


Everything was normal until a truck pulled up in front of our driveway.  The older gentleman stepped out and we met halfway up the driveway.  “Can I help you, sir?” I said, feeling the inside strength of protecting my home and wanting to satisfy my curiosity.   We live on a relatively quiet street with only one neighbor that isn’t through the trees so I was surprised by this random visit.

As it turns out my visitor was our Home Owners Association president.  And there had been a complaint about the noise that I apparently make in my garage and around my house. To provide a little context: I do woodworking as a hobby and enjoy working in and around my yard like mowing the grass and blowing leaves.  While I am not in the back yard hunting big game with a .270, I am also not mister video games in the house all day either…  I think I would classify myself as an average husband/dad/homeowner noise maker.

He didn’t say much, and as I simultaneously talked with him while racking my brain with many  questions. “Who reported a complaint?!” “What noise do I make that isn’t worse than general home maintenance like a mower?!” “Who reported a complaint?!” 😉  “What have I been doing lately that might have been making noise?”

All of these questions filled my head at lighting speed.  All while I kept a conversation going with my “new friend”.

It didn’t really amount to much.  He really didn’t have much to say, in all honesty.  I think he was just doing his diligence.  He insisted that I attend the HMA meeting next time they meet where this topic might come up.  “Oh I am GOING, baby” I thought in my head.

After saying goodbye, and still surprised by the whole thing, I came in the house and debriefed with my wife.

As we talked over everything, we concluded the following:

  1. I hadn’t really been making THAT much noise.  Very few of my power tools make more noise than a leaf blower.
  2. I hadn’t really been doing many projects over the last 2 months and thought it super strange that he had showed up right as I was working…
  3. The only possible neighbors that could have a problem live across the street.

And then the bitterness came.  For both of us.  “Why hadn’t they talked to us?!” We glared back at one another in agreement… It had to be them.  We never talk to them much, and they dont’ really act like they want to know us, so it was an OBVIOUS conclusion. Err, assumption.

My wife and I were totally angry.  We love our house.  We love where we live.  But that night, we hated our neighbors.

The whole next day I was sick.  I kept thinking back to Jesus saying in the Bible something about if you can’t get along with your neighbor, then just peace out.  Ok not really.  He said “Love your neighbor.”

“But I don’t want to love them, Jesus”, I would say in my head.  Seriously.  This happened all the next day.  I wanted to be angry!  I wanted to find all the things they “do wrong” and tell them! It was beginning to get comical.  But I was seriously depressed for the entire day.  I knew we were going to have to live across from neighbors that we just didn’t get along with and I did not want that.  And the feeling of being spied on made it worse.

So later that day, after pacing my driveway 60 times, I finally marched over to their door to talk.  I had decided to take the clueless approach.  I did serious work with the Lord on what to think and say and I had to give them the benefit of the doubt.  (Even though I thought through all conversation scenarios and figured at some point I was gonna lose my cool.) I walked up and  I rang the doorbell…

And nothing.  Sigh.  I rang it again…

Nothing.  Another sigh.

And I walked home.     Depressed.

I couldn’t believe I had mustered up the courage to confront the situation and they weren’t home!!  Or maybe they were hiding out in the house laughing at me through another window.  Yea, that was it.  I knew it.

The next day came around and we took a little family walk outside.  After we headed back I thought I should just try again (even though I didn’t want to).

So I went up and rang the doorbell…

And they answered the door.  Yikes! I felt like an 8 year old who had just thrown the baseball into their yard by accident.  I was doomed.

I mustered up the courage and tact and explained about the conversation I had with our HMA President the other day and told them that I wanted to check with them since they were our closest neighbors if there was anything I could change about my activity or noise.

After my speech, they both looked at me and said that they had no problems at all.


I couldn’t believe it.  I fully expected an onslaught of everything I was doing wrong and how I just needed to put the elephants somewhere else and stop jackhammering every night at 11pm.  It was so funny because inside it was like my heart was taking off this sick ugly heavy cloak of anger, spite, wrong assuming and ridiculousness and throwing it away.  It was awesome.

They did tell me that they have heard some complaints from other neighbors but that I should not be worried about it all.  So the mystery wasn’t solved, but I learned some VALUABLE lessons yesterday.

  2. Assumptions are just what they are.  Assumptions.  They are not fact.  It is imperative to WAIT UNTIL YOU KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE YOU DRAW CONCLUSION, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS ABOUT POEPLE.  I am far too guilty of this!
  3. You have to CONFRONT SITUATIONS WITH PEOPLE WITH KINDNESS AND COURAGE. (follow @NateParks for great teaching of this)  Often, people are afraid of the word “confront”.  Confront literally means ‘to face up and deal with a problem or difficult situation’.  It doesn’t require anger or madness.
  4. PRAY.  Brooke and I prayed about this a few times, and I am convinced the Lord gave me the supernatural courage I needed to talk to them and the kindness to approach it.

As I walked back to our house, my heart was free from that black cloak I had put on it.  While I don’t still have all the details on my apparent noise situation in the neighborhood, I am glad that I no longer hate my neighbors.  🙂