I hope that you all had a most BLESSED Week of Thanksgiving!
My last two posts were written ahead of time, and set to post while we were out-of-town for 5 days. Not only were we "out-of-town", but we were "up-in-the-hills" and "disconnected" for 5 days. No cell phone. No internet. No television. (which we don't watch anyways) No texting. No Black Friday Shopping. (which we have never experienced) Yes. We were were seriously "disconnected" from the outside world this past week, and we LOVED it.
In 1990, a new friend of Jim's invited our family to go to Family Camp with he and his family for Thanksgiving. We didn't have any plans, and thought it might be fun. We had absolutely no idea how that short 4 day trip with our new friends would change our lives. Seriously. Change. Our. Lives.
For the past 23 years, the Christian Renewal Center has been our home-away-from-home. The staff of CRC has become "family". Our annual Thanksgiving trip to the hills of Oregon has become "Going-Home-For-The-Holidays" for the Big D. Family.
We have only missed two Thanksgivings at CRC, in 23 years (1991 and 2011). And, since last year was the first time we had missed in 20 years, we were even more excited to return this year. And . . . our time there did. not. disappoint. We were absolutely BLESSED this past week . . . by our time with Family & Friends.
When I asked Ben a month or so ago if he wanted to go to CRC with us for Thanksgiving, he responded, "Yes. Of course. If you weren't going, I was planning to go by myself." Ben moved out last summer; and, while he does come home often to visit, we were truly blessed by our time with him this past week. Even just the 7-9 hours each way in the car, was more fun because Ben was with us. (smile) Chatting about Fun Stuff. Laughing. Discussing Serious Things. Yes. It was a blessing to spend 5 days with Ben!
Ben & Hosanna were Volunteer Teachers this year. That was a new experience for them . . . and a fun one. They were in charge of the 2-8 year old crowd at camp, which gave them the responsibility of teaching/supervising the young ones for 3 hours every morning and 1 1/2 hours every evening (while their parents were being taught by the Camp Speaker).
Sarah also had a new role this year . . . as the "Teacher's Assistant" for the 9-12 year old class. There was a new Teacher this year who had never actually attended Family Camp at CRC before, so she was very excited to have Sarah's help.
Josiah & Elijah always LOVE going to CRC. One of their very-best-life-long-friends is the son of the Camp Director, so they spent all week enjoying their every minute with Jonny.
While we were sad that all of the Big Kids weren't able to join us for the week at CRC this year, we were BLESSED that Cassie & Dean were able to pop in for a short visit. They were in Oregon for 9 days, visiting friends, so they popped over to CRC on Saturday evening, before heading north on Sunday afternoon to spend the night at Gregg & Kayla's, before catching their early morning plane home to Minnesota on Monday. While we had hoped for more time with them, it was good to visit a bit.
While the actual "camp" begins at noon on Thursday, the sweet directors always let us come a day early since we have such a long drive. After a looooong 9 hour day of driving (with more accidents than we had ever seen in one day . . . thus more slow-downs) we arrived at camp about 5:00pm. We popped some take-n-bake pizzas in the oven of our lodge, ate dinner with the family, and then walked through the woods to see if Camp Directors Tim & Julie were available for a visit. Oh how BLESSED we were by our 3 hour visit. We finally had to pull the boys away from Jonny, so that we could all get some rest before camp began the next day. We have been friends with Tim & Julie since 1990. Even if/when we don't see them in a year, we can sit right back down and start our conversations where we left off. True Friends. Real Friends. Blessings.
There are a couple of large lodges at CRC, and several smaller cabins, in addition to large bedrooms under the main lodge. So, we never know where we will find ourselves . . . or whom we might share a lodge with. We were TOTALLY BLESSED this year, by being "assigned" to share a lodge with The Woods Family. Oh. My. Yes. The Woods Family began coming to CRC just a year or two after we did. They, too, have come nearly every year. They, too, have Big Kids who can sometimes join them . . . and sometimes not. While we have all spent nearly every Thanksgiving together for 20 years . . . we have NEVER shared a lodge with them. For many years, they were up at the top of the hill with their Teens, while we were down at the bottom of the hill with our Young Ones. We always shared a meal or two with them over the course of the weekend, and enjoyed "getting to know them", but we have NEVER had the opportunity to really VISIT with them as we did this year. During our afternoon "free time". In the evenings before bed. We talked . . . and talked . . . and talked. We were each truly BLESSED by our time together!
Then there is the S. Family. They started coming to CRC 16 years ago, when their twin boys were just 5 years old. We have watched these boys grow up. We have prayed with their parents as they've chosen some scary paths as teens. We've embraced these boys in the midst of making some very poor life choices. The S. Family hasn't been to CRC in 4 years . . . as their boys have been walking some scary life journeys. This year, it was the "boys" (now 21) that told their parents, "We are going to CRC. Even if you don't go; we are going." Why? "Because we want to spend time with the D. Family and the Woods Family." They still haven't turned their lives around; but they both knew that they could come to CRC and be loved . . . be embraced . . . be prayed for. Yes. We were BLESSED to spend time with the S. Family again this year.
What a FUN time of making New Friends!!!
At the first camp meal of the week, I looked across the dining room . . . tapped Jim . . . and said, "That family looks just like we did 20+ years ago." When we started coming to CRC, we had 6 children ages 6 and under. We were BLESSED this week to meet J & D . . . and their 7 children ages 8 and under. Yes. We. Were. They came to CRC last year for the first time (the first year that we had missed in 20 years), and look forward to making it a new Family Tradition. We enjoyed visiting with them . . . holding their 3 week old baby . . . praying with them and for them. Yes. We were BLESSED by their new friendship.
We also had SO MUCH FUN meeting Kalah (the new teacher) this year. She is a 30 year old single gal, with an amazing story of her Faith Walk Journey. We so enjoyed getting to know her, hearing her stories, and seeing pictures of the life that she just left in Montana (as a tribal attorney working for Child Protection). Ben & Hosanna enjoyed teaching alongside her; Sarah enjoyed being her Teacher's Assistant; while Josiah & Elijah enjoyed being in her class. Yes. We all enjoyed getting to know Kalah this week, and look forward to having her come visit next month. (She is excited to go snowboarding with Ben.)
On our way home from CRC, we stopped for dinner in Portland with Sheri & Family. Woo Hoo! Always FUN to be with this fun Bloggy Friend!
In addition to the time we spent with our Family . . . and our Old Friends . . . and our New Friends . . . and our Blog Friends . . . we also thoroughly enjoyed a variety of Fellowship Times with others at CRC.
I was blessed by several short chat times with Helen . . . a precious 85 year old staff member, whom we've known for 23 years.
I was thankful to be able to minister to a young mom who's oldest is just entering the teen years, and the mom has no idea how to proceed.
I was blessed to be able to spend time with Linda, who's family is struggling with tough relational stuff.
I was thankful for the many sweet times of fellowship spent around the meal tables . . . just sharing life with other campers and staff members.
Yes. We were BLESSED this past week by many precious times of Fellowship with other Believers.