Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Waiting

“There is a life and there is a death, and there are beauty and melancholy between.” ~Albert Camus

Last year was filled with uneasiness for me... a sense that the world was always tilting, and no matter how I attempted to adjust my stance, I never could find a balanced position that allowed me to relax. When the life you are living is filled with uncertainty and hyper-vigilance, you become tired... I became tired - chronically, heavily, depressingly tired. I’d look around and feel overwhelmed by the veil that lay over my world. I’d look within and feel defeated by the circumstances that had been heaped there without my permission. I’d look up to God and feel like he was pre-occupied with whatever was happening just over my shoulder. And maybe he was... maybe God knew that I sensed what was behind me around the curve of the road, just out of sight, but close enough for me to feel the chill of its shadow reaching out ever longer and leaving me uneasy with the darkness it cast around itself.

In last few days of 2019, I finally ran out of road. As I turned and looked back at where I had been walking, I saw the shape of the shadow that had been behind me become sharpened in the light of the glaring truth. Finally, I saw clearly what I had been sensing all along. It was a shifting figure painted with someone else’s shame and deceit. It was hard to look at... even harder as I began to comprehend exactly what it was - unfortunately familiar, something which could never be unseen.

Everybody in this world experiences undeserved pain. It rips at your heart, pounds on your head, leaves your soul shaken. In a detached yet spiritual moment, the horror reminded me that Jesus had died from such an undeserved experience. And not surprisingly, the thought was not comforting. It was more of a disruptive awareness - like a train clattering down the tracks through the night with its horn blaring, and its dirty graffiti covered cars hanging onto each other by a mere coupling.

I know other people - friends, family - who have experienced deep pain this last year, too. A husband who shockingly died in a matter of unexpected moments at work. A violent seizure disrupting a peaceful night and announcing the previously unknown presence of a brain tumor. An estranged child becoming more deeply lost to her loving mother by her own hard-hearted intention. Such pain feels like a betrayal. It is trauma at its worst, wreaking havoc with our faith and with our families. Sometimes, all we can do in those moments where life betrays us is to suffer, exposed. We want to run away from the pain, yet somehow hold on to the precious thing shrouded inside of it that’s being ripped away. Our minds are at war with our hearts. Our faith is at war with our fear.

I could probably write in a bunch of right responses here - to pain, to fear, to traumatic upheavals. But sometimes, the right response is not the one that you would think. Sometimes, you have to be wild and scream and cry and pound your fists. Sometimes, you feel so fragile, that you need to lock yourself in a room for awhile and leave everyone else outside. Sometimes, you are so confused that next right thing to do waivers and swerves like a car out of control from one side of the road to the other. Sometimes, you feel like time is standing still, but then you realize that it’s actually you who is standing still. When you look around you’re shocked to realize all around that life goes on regardless, and the reality is, you’re forced to a point to go along with it.

I think that our inability to stop time from moving is the way that healing begins. It is a both a maddening and miraculous awareness. Before the horror and pain have even ended their barrage of mayhem in your life, the details of recovery are roused and engaged. The relationships in your circle begin to shift, and those with deepest significance, with the most soulful connections, begin to rise to the surface of your life, like cream in a jar of ice cold milk that has been left undisturbed overnight in the farmer’s kitchen. Suddenly, you realize that what you viewed as God’s pre-occupation while circumstances lined up to destroy your life, was not an abandonment at all. It was a patient waiting, a carefully orchestrated plan to ensure that what was meant to harm you, would in the end be used to help you. As your messed up life became separated into the before and after of the moment you became painfully aware of the circumstances that would change things forever, God had never taken his eyes off of you. Instead, he had allowed the cream to gather and rise, and even as you staggered under the suddenly too heavy weight of your crisis, he began to redistribute the burden of it. He ladled the cream from the top of the milk and began the process of turning it into beautiful new details whose possibilities had always existed in his plan, but could only arise through the process of separation.

As God has already begun to spread out the burden of my pain onto family and friends, I have felt a shift. While the ache is still there, so there is also a relief. I think that this past year of carrying this burden alone has both strengthened and weakened me. But I think there was purpose in the waiting. As the cream gathers to the top, so God had begun to gather my relationships and my life circumstances to a place where they would be ready for this time. As I became more and more weary of my burden, I became more and more ready to share it - not an easy task for an introverted independent woman like myself. And even as I am horrified and aching from pain, I am encouraged. Because when cream is whipped  and shaken and blended with other good ingredients, it becomes part of a number of delightful new creations - new and good gifts. Creations that are served to satisfy all on their own, as well as creations that enhance the flavor of other good gifts.

So, as I contemplate the pain that has risen in me, I also am shedding the veil that had covered my world. The future is becoming a bit brighter, although my vision of it is still cloudy. I’m okay with the uncertainty of it, however. Just before the moment of horror I have recently experienced, God caught my attention with this quote... “Honor the waiting. It teaches you the beauty and ache of hope in equal measure.” The beauty and the ache are both necessary in order to experience the miracle of hope. God has shown us that truth over and over from the beginning of time. Who am I to not be willing to sit down and rest with him after the grueling process, and enjoy the sweetness that comes in a dish of ice cream? There is nothing that can take away the precious hope that remains in me because of my strong faith in the good, good love of my Father God.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, butter, sheep, goats, and cheese for David and those who were with him. For they said, ‘You must all be very hungry and tired and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness.’”
‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭17:28-29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬





Monday, November 5, 2018

Purpose, Perspective, Politics, and Papa

My son told me he is going to vote tomorrow because his Papa (my dad) told him he should. I smiled because when I was young, I too voted because I knew my dad would call me up and ask, “Did you vote?” And, just like my son (kindred middle child spirit), I had this internal over-fondness of approval... especially from my dad - so when he called and asked me if I had voted, I wanted to be able to answer “yes” in order to hear that coveted “Good job!” from the other end of the phone. Almost 20 years later, I still make a habit of voting because I realize it pleases not only my earthly father, but my Heavenly Father as well. I vote because my perspective of the world is that of a woman who is a mom and a community member, and I believe that choosing a leader who reflects my perspective in those roles is important. A few years ago, I heard someone say, “The authenticity of your faith is connected to every aspect of your life.” The statement has stayed with me as I have faced situations every day that require difficult choices. I realize that each of those situations is an opportunity for me to be authentic and sincere in who I am and what I believe. I know that there are times when I fail to choose the right thing. I know that those times are most often when I choose to do the selfish thing. But, I also know that there are many times that I choose with integrity. Those are the moments that I want to stretch over into all areas of my life. I know that those moments of integrity have been modeled for me by my dad for a lifetime. I pray that God influences my own children through me in the same way He has influenced my life through my parents. In the meantime, I’m happy my son is choosing to vote tomorrow. And even if his motives are more self-centered than right-minded at this point, I am proud of him. I have confident hope that as he continues to experience life, and as he encounters more and more opportunity to make hard choices, he will also continue to grow in his ability to choose with a bigger perspective... to choose with insight and integrity. How fortunate we all are to have the opportunity to do better every day... Happy Election Day!

“But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation... Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them. But you are always the same; you will live forever. The children of your people will live in security. Their children’s children will thrive in your presence.”
‭‭- Psalms‬ ‭102:12, 25-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lost

Yesterday was the birthday of our oldest adopted son. I didn’t celebrate out loud. I didn’t celebrate with joy. I didn’t celebrate with him. In my heart, I remembered the impish smile that was often on his face from the day we first met. In my heart, I also remembered how that playful expression would at times become anxious as he fixated on imaginary other-worlds. I think his fantasies were born out of loss... loss of people and places that in reality, no one should have to mourn. His loss has been magnified by the schizophrenic legacy of his birth family. Bit by bit through his young adulthood, our son has become lost in his loss. He has become lost to us, who are his adoptive family. He has become lost to his birth brother, who lived at his side for a lifetime. He has become lost to his friends, who he once reveled in the presence of. He has become lost, and as a result, we are now a reflection of his loss. It is not a reflection made up of regret. I don’t regret loving him. I don’t regret the space we invited him to fill in our family more than 21 years ago. Even now, when he has chosen to leave that space he once filled... I don’t regret the impression of him left behind. What we reflect are the reminders that he was once here. Our loss reminds us that he was actively loved. Our loss reminds us that even though he has turned away now - he has turned away as a stronger person for having been loved through his own greatest loss. Our loss reminds us of the loss our own Father God experiences when one of His children turns their back to Him. So, on our son’s birthday as I contemplated his life, I purposed to celebrate with gratitude... to be grateful that he is in a safe place, to be grateful for the many memories of our time with him that bring smiles to all of our faces, to be grateful for the opportunity to learn to love someone through difficult circumstances and even through loss, and for the strength that lesson has grown in us as a family. CS Lewis wrote, “Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest on reciprocity.” I know these words are true.

Yesterday was the birthday of our son. I am grateful for him, and I celebrate his life in my heart. 
More of this story:
http://ofwildernessandrockyplaces.blogspot.com/2016/?m=0

“Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight...”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:27‬a ‭MSG‬‬


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Love Rises

My mom and dad have what is surely the best example I know of what an enduring marriage relationship looks like. When I look at their relationship with each other, I see that the strength that holds them together is the inclusion of God. I love the quote by Tennessee Williams, "The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks." Those words paint a miraculous picture of the fragile thing overcoming the hard thing, of beauty and life surviving in the crevices of dark and difficult circumstances. I myself have experienced that marriage is not easy, especially in the face of the ongoing trauma that surrounds having a family member with extensive medical issues. My parents have experienced those circumstances in their marriage, my younger brother having been born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy that compromised his physical health and development throughout his 22 years of life. The experience of chronic trauma in our family was compounded by the additional heartbreak of my brother’s death. My parents’ response to such difficulty and sorrow always has taught me well about the paradox of suffering. They showed me that the pain of suffering brings about the gift of learning to love with no regrets, and learning to limit your focus to the most important things in life. My mom and dad’s example has helped me to understand that the very thing that feels like it is threatening to tear a family apart, can actually be a catalyst that brings deep unity to that family instead. Their example of faith has shown me that by choosing to trust God in circumstances that are unthinkably terrible, I am allowing him the opportunity to turn what seems tragic into something more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. In their marriage, my parents allowed God to carry them to places where they surely never would have chosen to go on their own. They have trusted God through many situations which anyone could not possibly choose to embrace, and which many people would even bitterly say called for resentment. Yet, here they are today, truly living in gratitude for the dark valleys they have journeyed through. Here they are today, privileged to experience a glimpse of a present and a future that is not framed by the lack of what they have lost, but rather by the love of what they have grown. I know that their love today does not exist because they have spent the last 50 years gazing at themselves, or even at each other. I know that their love exists today because over the last 50 years, they have consistently chosen together to look in the direction of God. I am so thankful for their example that the most important thing a husband and a wife can do in their marriage relationship, is to cling to love for God and for each other. My parent’s marriage and their lives are truly evidence that love will always rise when given the opportunity.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

"...I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'"
2 Corinthians 12:8b-9a NIV


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Legacy of Imperfection


The family I grew up in? The family I grew up in was as imperfect of a family as the next one. I say this, confident in my opinion that there are no perfect families in the world. The family I grew up in still exists - although with missing pieces, with holes patched up, with repurposed parts.

“Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me...”

My family was gifted with a legacy of love, but even though we were given that gift, we all struggle with carrying it at times. My mom and dad are tired, and yet they never give up on finishing the journey they began. My brother and I are incomplete, yet multiplied, all at the same time. We are missing a sibling, but have each acquired a spouse and children. We have increased in love, but (like all human beings) we hold on to a measure of selfishness, we hoard a portion of pride, and we are defeated by our own sensitivities. When those faults threaten to crack the foundation of our legacy, it’s important to remember that this day and this moment and this conflict are fleeting, but our family remains our family forever.

“Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations...”

The legacy we were given is still with us, and many more hands have touched its surface... some gently caressing it, some powerfully supporting it, some clawing at it to take pieces for themselves. Our own children are connected to it, and just as is true for us, those connections mean that the paths they each choose to walk have all started at the original point of this legacy. This means that every stumble jars, every new direction stretches, and every heir added is cause for a shift in our balance.

“So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
And fill my life again...”

Each one of us is challenged by our struggles, by our limited perspectives, by our imperfections. Some of us are challenged to let go and move over before reaching out to grasp a new area. Some of us are challenged to stay the course, and hold on right where we have been standing the whole time. Some of us are challenged to connect in ways that respectfully grow the legacy, rather than harshly force it to change. Some of us are challenged to find where we belong at all. However, all of us must recognize that surrendering our challenges to the One who can save us from their consequences is the only way to experience the gift that the legacy truly is - a gift of joy and of acceptance, a gift of forgiveness and of grace, a gift of hope and of trust, a gift of peace and of love...

“I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
And now I surrender.”

...a legacy of love made perfect in imperfection.

“Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave.”

“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭12:8-9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬


Friday, April 6, 2018

Essence Explored


There is an old folk hymn titled “I Wonder As I Wander.” I am through and through a wonderer. I wonder about everything as I wander through my life. Sometimes, it feels like my brain is an arcade game stuck on “jackpot”, and the never ending pay out is in questions instead of tokens. Some of these questions involve an ongoing self-assessment and re-assessment that attempts to categorize who I am. I’m not sure how often other people do this, but I continually find myself examining who I am on different days, in different situations. Many times, I’m defining my role or my boundaries in certain circumstances or with certain people. Do I need to be guarded? Can I be relaxed? Sometimes, I’m trying to see myself through someone else’s eyes and shaping my own response based on what I think they see. Is this person needing some encouragement from me? Did that person just give me the cold shoulder? These types of self-assessments are the simple ones, semi-transient, and happen almost subconsciously among the other thoughts filling my head.

In my quiet, more complicated moments, when my mind can focus on processing those simple assessments I’ve collected, I pause and try to glimpse my essence. Essence is the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something that determines what it is. My essence defines who I am as a total person. My essence is my soul. I believe the biblical truth which tells me that as a human being, I am created in the image of God. Who I am made to be is ultimately meant to be a reflection of Him. 

I think this means that even when I wander away from God, even when I’m too focused on myself, the potential remains for my essence to reflect Him... He’s still there, He still loves me, He doesn’t disappear. It’s me who is wandering away from Him.  I separate myself from Him when I live focused on myself - such as when I am consumed with despair over my suffering, or when I am lost in the guilt of my sin. There is a hopelessness that begins to infiltrate me when I wander away from God that feels like an empty yearning. My essence is changed without Him, and I begin to reflect that hopelessness that is seeping into me. In my experience, who I am when I’m separated from God is distracted, desperate, lonely, wounded, lost. When my essence is defined by this painful state of hopelessness, there is in me a longing for relief. Having much experience with the ridiculously human habit of making the same mistakes over and over, I do now realize that relief can only be had in the presence of transforming love and grace that is found in the essence of Jesus Christ. I know that the key to moving away from hopelessness is to shift my focus from the element of my self, and intentionally move my mind towards the catalyst of Jesus, who changes my essence.

Sometimes, I wander away from God when I suffer. When someone in my family is sick or hurting or has lost themselves in confusion, when our finances are constantly tight and there’s always another vehicle repair to pay for, when my head aches for two days or I feel completely exhausted and sleep doesn’t relieve it, when someone speaks lies about me or someone doesn’t speak to me at all... suffering can hi-jack my focus in those instances and deceive me. I wander away, withdrawing into myself, severing connections, and neglecting nourishment of my soul. Suffering leaves wounds... hurting, vulnerable places which I cannot always take care of on my own. The amazing truth is, however, that it is through these very wounds that Jesus can enter my life. In order for that to happen, though, I have to stop running away to nurse them myself, and intentionally move towards Him, seeking His help. His soothing touch and healing love can then attend to my brokenness and begin to soften my despair into hope, and focus me on God once again. 

Sometimes, I wander from God as a result of my own sinfulness. In those situations, I am willfully moving away from Him and focusing on choices that do not reflect His character, and that distance begins to change my essence. Who I am without Him becomes exposed, and my selfishness is then apparent. Without God, sin rules my life, and leaves me hopeless, lost, and desperate. But, I know that if I humble myself and come back and expose my broken parts to God, that the blood of Jesus Christ will cover my sin... seep into it. The mercy of Jesus transforms my hopelessness with grace, and turns my despair into hope. Jesus changes my essence.

My wonderings and my wanderings have shown me that the most hopeful place for me is to be held in the hands of God. At times, the Bible refers to God as The Potter. When He holds my life in His hands, He can transform me with the love He’s given me in His son, Jesus Christ. The Bible tells me that Jesus offers living water. As it enters my soul, He refreshes me, brings life to me. The living water of Jesus Christ quenches my thirst. I absorb His healing touch completely, and as He continues to fill me, His love can overflow onto the people walking near me in my life. As I am filled with the living water of Christ, the Potter shapes my heart for the purpose of holding and pouring out His love and for loving Him in return. My soul was created to be saturated with Him and reflect the beauty of His love. I know, though, that my essence will only remain saturated with Jesus if I consciously choose every day to be near Him. The more I focus on staying near and asking God to fill me with the things HE wants for my life, the more tenderhearted I become. The fruit I can bear from His nourishment is gentle and good. 

These days as my mind wonders, I intentionally remind myself to not wander away. I remind myself to take care to maintain my faith, and to remain close to Jesus in relationship and prayer. I find more and more that when wondering lures my mindset to wander away from Him, I recognize sooner the shadow that falls over me. The shadow is cold and whispers of the dark despair of my life when I’m separated from God. My remembrances of that hopeless place incites a desire in me to remain together with Him. I know that if I don’t intentionally stay close, I am being careless with my life, allowing my wondering to lead me to put the majority of my focus and attention on the world’s messages and values. In that mindset, my faith will easily become distorted, and eventually I will wander even further away, and become confused. I don’t want to wander away. I value my life near God, in Christ, and I want to remain saturated in His love. I am thankful that He continually holds out His hand of grace to me, beckoning me to come near, and to fill my essence with Him.

Essence
Water and earth      
melt into clay      
beneath prismatic arc      
of sun and of rain      
     
Once arid and parched      
the dust has known thirst      
yearning for rain      
from sky forth to burst      
     
Trickles of rust -      
a medium forms      
from broken hard land      
now softened by storms      
     
Hands of a potter      
enfolding the new      
this clay that is one      
where there once had been two      
     
Two elements strong      
a mingled duet      
blended together      
to become what was meant      
     
Melted together      
essence embraced      
absorbing each other      
long more than for sate      
     
A vessel is shaped      
concave at the heart      
existing for purpose      
delighted as art...      
     
Calls to be filled      
desires to hold      
to curve around gently      
soft edges rolled      
     
A vessel, caressed      
sculpted with care      
light shines from the hollow      
exposed to the air      
     
This new form is fragile      
its memory fresh      
with original thought      
of each piece, separate    
   
Easily shattered    
by foot or by hand    
by careless intention    
may scatter in sand    
     
But, wholly together      
two remain one      
rain prismatic light      
from within, reflect sun    

LS 3/30/18  
     
     
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”      
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬      
     
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”      
2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬      
     
“You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.”      
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭65:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭NLT

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NLT

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NLT

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:9‬ ‭NLT

“Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:13-14‬ ‭NLT

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭ESV


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dear Dylan...

February 14, 2018

Dear Dylan,                                              
This summer, you will be beginning another chapter in the story that God has been writing from the beginning of time. You have committed yourself to serving God through serving people with disabilities at Camp Daniel. You will most likely have many opportunities to tell people parts of your story, and you might even find that talking about your experiences will encourage others to want to serve at Camp Daniel, as well. While it is a wonderful thing to draw others to the mission of Camp, I hope that you will come to understand that main theme of your story is not about the service that you provide. You are part of a story that began a very long time ago, before Camp ever even existed in thought or reality. The main theme of the story has always been about showing people that God wants to share Himself with them - that He wants to relate to them personally. It's true that the setting of your part of the story is Camp Daniel, and that you will affect people in your service - campers and their families and volunteers and observers. All of these people will be impacted while you do the work God has placed before you, not because of what you're doing, but because of your attitude in doing it. Will you be joyful or frustrated? Will you be inclusive or reserved? Will you be patient or irritated? Will you be gracious or inflexible? Your attitude will draw people to God or repel them from Him. At Camp Daniel, you will be a part of a community that allows people to relate to God on multiple levels: intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. At Camp Daniel, you will be a part of a community that helps people to understand that worshipping God can be a tangible act that allows for His tangible response. At Camp Daniel, you will be a part of a community that allows people to be in God's presence through every relationship and truth that is realized there. At Camp Daniel, you will learn that it's not important to focus on which person has a disability and which person does not. You will find that the important thing to focus on is showing any person that you meet there that God loves them and values them and wants very much to know them personally. Never lose sight of the goal of connecting people to God - keep the main thing, the main thing. Your Uncle Dan held tightly to the promise that God is faithful to complete the good work He begins in each person. Always be strong in your relationship with God and with the people he places close to you. His presence will never fail you.

Love,
Mama

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  
- Philippians 1:3-6 NIV

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
‭‭ - Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-13‬ NIV

"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your ancestors, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work."
...He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind.
...He gave him instructions for all the work of serving in the temple of the Lord, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service.
... "All this," David said, "you have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan."
David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work..."
- 1 Chronicles‬ ‭28:9-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬