Today marks my 9th anniversary at Pine Cove. I can't help but be a little nostalgic - I mean, really... I've spent a pretty crucial decade here. I will never be the same because of what God has done in and through this place.
I'll never forget how it all came to be.
Like many college students, I graduated still a bit unsure of what I wanted to do. Post graduation, I decided to move home since my mom had remarried 2 years earlier. I wanted to get to know my new family members while I figured out where to go next. Through some providential moves, I took a job doing phone counseling at a pregnancy hotline. I loved and believed in what we were doing but was longing to be in a face to face sort of ministry. I began to pray and ask God for direction. And behold, I thought I found it. Youth ministry at a legitimately cool church in Clear Lake. I quit my job and got ready to walk through what I thought was a clearly open door only to find it locked tight. I was heartbroken. And a little confused. But God had other things in mind.
My boss was extremely gracious, allowing me to return to work. 6 months later, I got a phone call from Darren. (At work, by the way.) Darren and Julie (who was my closest friend at the hotline) had moved to Tyler to work at this camp called Pine Cove. Darren called to offer me a job. I had heard good things about Pine Cove and wanted to come visit them anyways, so I thought - it can't hurt to check it out. I interviewed, visited, and fell in love with the mission. Just a few months later, God planted me knee deep in the ministry of Pine Cove. I thought I might stay for 2 or 3 years. Ha! 9 years later, a few of my favorites:
This list could be outrageously long, but I'll give you a few.
1. Live by serving - literally "outdo one another in showing honor" and "be eager to serve"
2. Learn by doing - what is said in the classroom or read in a book takes on life when put into practice
3. Lead by loving - love is always a greater motivator than fear
4. Your need for God is never more or less - you are dependent on Him for everything
5. Christian community is sweetest when you are fighting on the frontlines together
Memorable Staff Moments
I LOVE our resident staff team. Here are a few fun moments with them.
1. I got kissed on the lips by "Aussie" during a birthday rap (and will NEVER live it down).
2. Watching the cadre act that moment out at the staff retreat.
3. My very first day on the job we went to a Rangers game. Bonus!
4. I was in a wedding where everyone in the wedding party had a camp name...printed in the program.
5. Tex singing "I'm my own Grandpa and other medlies"
Memorable Camp Moments
This is so hard to narrow down. Here's the first 5 that come to mind.
1. The Week 8 campers took over camp for a day: skits, meals, program... Then they washed our feet.
2. A 4 year old boy sang (in a very familiar Cove Kids tune): "I need teachers to come into the castle."
3. I Choose Now
4. A lost family camp kid was actually with me and 2 other staff. On the day camp bus.
5. Holding hands with a precious 12 year old girl and her grandmother (who had been praying for her since birth) as she prayed to receive Christ. Her little face is now my picture of true joy.
Hard But Good
These were some of my most trying moments at camp. But these were also the moments where God showed up in a big way.
1. Leaving a conference in an ambulance but tangibly seeing over the next 10 days what an amazing family I had here.
2. Having to call a parent and tell them we were care flighting their child to Dallas.
3. Discovering an elderly woman had passed away in her sleep during a Pine Cove Retreat.
4. Director, Conference Director and 2 co-staff left within 4 weeks of each other, which led to my being named the first female Conference Director at Pine Cove.
5. Leading a team of staff to run a kids program in Washington DC where none of the travel arrangements went smoothly (and not much else for the rest of the trip)
Camp Names That Flew
Once you've worked at Pine Cove, you see all catch phrases, products, billboards, songs, and funny words through the filter of "that would be a great camp name!" Here's some of my personal favorites:
1. Ben and Geriatrics
2. Peaches Got Creamed (horrible story of little girl pummeling her sister's bunny rabbit on a homemade "roller coaster" - bunny's name - you got it - Peaches)
3. Fakespeare (for the guy who pretended he was British for the first four days of Orientation)
4. Hoosier Daddy (this was one of the best names I've sold - and to a stellar staff guy/family camper)
5. Cuff Em and Stuff Em (resident staff guy who was a police officer and taxidermist in former careers)
Camp Names that would Never Fly (but get you laughing nonetheless)
1. Revelation 21:8
2. Shut the Hiccup
3. Better than You (so they would have to introduce themselves "Hi, I'm Better than You.")
4. Big Ugly Scary Monster
5. Heavy Sweater (for a girl no less)
And that brings me to Flashback Friday. Friday is hereby declared remember God's goodness and tell the story day. I am excited to remember what God has done in my life and I would love to hear your stories too. Feel free to post them as a comment or shoot me an email.
"Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life." Deuteronomy 4:9