Guest Mediation: Lindsey M.
I have fond memories of summer camp. Swimming and canoeing in the lake. Talking long past curfew with my cabin bunkmates. Playing from sun up ‘til sun down. It was a blast, and I definitely wanted my kids to be able to have the same opportunities for fun that I did.
But I also want them to be safe, and at summer camp, whether it’s a sleep away camp or day camp, there are a lot of opportunities for danger. Before choosing a camp for my kids, I sat down and researched what was important for parents to know before signing up their kids. After all, the camp’s director and counselors are essentially your long-term babysitters. It’s important they know how to keep your kids safe and well protected. Here are a few of the questions I decided to ask the camps my husband and I were considering for our kids:
Will they be swimming or doing other water activities? As SafeKids.org notes, drowning is the “third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under.” Obviously a huge concern for parents sending their kids away to a day camp or sleep away camp is how well-supervised they’ll be around water. First, you want any camp counselor to be well-versed in the first aid and pool session safety guidelines laid out in this resource for babysitters. And also be sure to find out exactly what water activities your child will be participating in and that counselors know your child’s swimming ability.
What training have camp counselors received? One of the most important steps of making sure your child will be safe at summer camp is to find out how the counselors—their main caregivers—have been trained. GreatSchools.org offers a few questions you can ask. For example, “Are there safety and first aid tests counselors need to pass?” and “How many of the counselors are certified by the Red Cross in first aid and CPR?”
What vehicles are used for transportation? If the camp will be taking your child on field trips or other excursions, BrightHorizons.org advises that you find out what kind of transportation will be used. Ask when the vehicles were last inspected and whether the drivers have received training.
How does the camp handle discipline? Chances are at some point your child will be having a little too much fun at camp and may need to be disciplined. As Travel.TheFunTimesGuide.com notes, you’ll want to be sure that the camp’s way of disciplining its campers coincides with how you handle discipline at home.
Your kids will certainly be challenged to step outside of some of their comfort zones at camp. For example, before I went to camp, I had never swam in a lake. I was very hesitant to take that first jump. But I’m glad that I did. Your kids will be asked to meet similar challenges, but that doesn’t mean they should ever be or feel unsafe. When you get answers to the above questions, you can help ensure your child has a summer that is memorable for all the right reasons.
Lindsay M writes for PublicHealthCorps. She also loves cooking, biking and photography. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of twin girls.
1 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:
2 Who is this darkening counsel with words lacking knowledge? 3 Prepare yourself like a man; I will interrogate you, and you will respond to me.
4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me if you know.
5 Who set its measurements? Surely you know. Who stretched a measuring tape on it? 6 On what were its footings sunk; who laid its cornerstone, 7 while the morning stars sang in unison and all the divine beings shouted?
8 Who enclosed the Sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 9 when I made the clouds its garment, the dense clouds its wrap, 10 when I imposed my limit for it, put on a bar and doors 11 and said, “You may come this far, no farther; here your proud waves stop”?
12 In your lifetime have you commanded the morning, informed the dawn of its place 13 so it would take hold of earth by its edges and shake the wicked out of it? 14 Do you turn it over like clay for a seal, so it stands out like a colorful garment? 15 Light is withheld from the wicked, the uplifted arm broken.
Job 38:1-15 CEB
(I love the book of Job! Many of my major shifts in theology happened while working through the text. )
There are a few things we should know about this book:
So when we get to the divine speech we shouldn't be looking to God for crisis care. We are just not going to find it. What we are going to find is a verbal version of what happens to many coming out of crisis. To better understand, I'm going to use a blueberry pie as an example.
Before crisis, Job had a very self-centered view of the world. (Not selfish. I've previously explained why it's important to know the difference.) It's like this: To him the world was a beautiful dining room table, and he was a homemade blueberry pie, sitting smack dab in the middle.
When God gets to Job in the divine speech, this is basically what is told to Job:
You may be a blueberry pie, but you are not in the center of my table. There is so much more on that table than just you. There's the roast, and the gravy no one likes but I made with love. There are the utensils, plates, and bowls. More than that, the table is not all there is. The table is part of the dining room, which is part of a house, which is part of a neighborhood. You are a blueberry pie, and I love you, but you are just a small piece of the big picture.
God, in the divine speech, moves Job from a self-centered point of view, to see more than himself. In the Book of Job, it is done with sarcasm and blunt force words. When we are personally making the transition, it can happen all at once, or slowly over a long period of time. No matter how it happens, it isn't until we meet our God moment that we are capable to enter into a new stage of life, better than the life we lost.
Have you had your own God moment? What was it like?
26 Then Jesus said, “This is what God’s kingdom is like. It’s as though someone scatters seed on the ground, 27 then sleeps and wakes night and day. The seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer doesn’t know how. 28 The earth produces crops all by itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full head of grain. 29 Whenever the crop is ready, the farmer goes out to cut the grain because it’s harvest time.”
30 He continued, “What’s a good image for God’s kingdom? What parable can I use to explain it? 31 Consider a mustard seed. When scattered on the ground, it’s the smallest of all the seeds on the earth; 32 but when it’s planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all vegetable plants. It produces such large branches that the birds in the sky are able to nest in its shade.”
33 With many such parables he continued to give them the word, as much as they were able to hear. 34 He spoke to them only in parables, then explained everything to his disciples when he was alone with them.
How many little pieces of cardboard with a tiny mustard seed glued to it was I given as a child? More than I could count on one hand. I would later purchase one of those necklaces with a grain of rice in it. I wanted to remind myself, "faith of a mustard seed." (Yeah, I get it, a grain of rice is way larger than a mustard seed. They couldn't write my name on a mustard seed, so rice it was.) I imagined literally moving mountains with my magnificent faith. Then I remembered I couldn't walk on water, or multiply fish and bread. I couldn't move mountains! I couldn't move a molehill!
The point being, I always saw the mustard seed as the purpose, when it wasn't. The mustard seed was the tool and the birds were the purpose.
First of all, why did it take 34 years of my life to understand there was something beyond faith of a mustard seed? I'm serious. This is how I read the parable:
Consider a mustard seed. When scattered on the ground, it’s the smallest of all the seeds on the earth;
but when it’s planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all vegetable plants...
Really. I didn't bother to read on. If I had taken time to read just one sentence further:
...It produces such large branches that the birds in the sky are able to nest in its shade.
Faith flourishes when it meets the needs of those in need. It's not good enough to pray, "Lord, If only you would greatly bless me and increase my territory. May your power go with me to keep me from trouble, so as not to cause me pain." (This is the prayer of Jabez for anyone who is interested.) In other words, if we are moving mountains with our faith, what are we moving those mountains for? In the parable, the end goal was to have a place where the birds could nest. The works of our faith should have end goals too.
I think it's why I see Christian bloggers burnout online. They get their blog going thinking they are just going to write when the spirit leads them. They hope maybe there will be a book deal at some point. They don't really have a point to what they are doing aside from getting admiration for sharing their point of view. Eventually they realize their mustard seed didn't really grow into anything significant at all. They write a sad blog post to everyone who believed in them, and close shop. (If we are lucky. So many just stop writing.)
The ones that flourish know what their faith is working towards. Mental illness awareness. Disheartened Evangelicals. If you are here, our mission is to explore how to worship God in our internet culture, and to connect with those who are uncomfortable (for the moment) in the physical church. Faith that is working towards the needs of those in need.
What is your faith working towards? Are you growing a mustard seed, or something else?
I've been to Disney World more than many will be in their entire life. I believe the number is four. I went twice when I was a kid, and twice as a teenager. I realize Disney World and Land have become the American Mecca, which makes me uncomfortable sharing this information. (I say this knowing the real Mecca is a holy journey for Muslims, they spend years saving up for. It feels so superficial Americans have such a consumer driven version.) I continue, because I have a purpose.
When I was a kid I loved the Small World ride. This was before the internet, and the world seemed so huge to me. I was filled with so much awe and wonder. I loved the syrupy-sweet song, and was even more ecstatic when we learned it in Elementary School choir. I wanted to play with the animatronic kids in the ride. Their world looked so perfect, and I wanted to be part of it...
Only real life kicked in. The real kids, in their real world.. it isn't perfect. My life isn't perfect. Nothing is perfect. I thought about the Small World ride just last week. I don't like it at all anymore. What have I turned into?! Where is my sense of innocence? I lost it. The last vestiges of innocence died three and a half years ago. Just thinking about that ride feels like I'm being spoon fed pure sugar. Blah!
So does Isaiah 40. I ask again, what have I turned into?! I want to be that girl again. I want to embrace the scripture with awe and wonder. I want the simplicity of just accepting what I'm reading. I can't. I won't. You shouldn't either.
This summer the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will focus on this scripture. I want to bring Isaiah's words to reality. Connect to what is going on in our homes and churches.
- - -
People are broken. People are hurt. They've been hurt by people they have previously called friends. We've possibly hurt people. (The only fingers worth pointing, are worth pointing directly at ourselves. ) We've got war wounds, or at least battle scars. It's difficult to see the love and compassion in the church when there is so much pain within:
"Comfort, comfort my people!"
says your God.
Speak compassionately to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended,
that her penalty has been paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins!
(Isaiah 40:1-2 CEB)
Some of us, like myself, have worked our butt off. We have been trying to figure out what Christianity looks like in the next generation. It has become really difficult! There are mountains in our way! There are chasms stopping us flat! People, who should be on our side, stand in our way! We have to be the ones to try out new ideas, and brainstorm the crazy possibilities. However, if we don't follow the formula that is currently killing the church, we are doing it wrong. Sometimes I feel like Macgyver. I feel like I'm called to create a fully functional church with nothing but a toothpick and wax paper! Either someone is in my way, or I have nothing to work with, The path is extremely difficult.
A voice is crying out:
“Clear the Lord’s way in the desert!
Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
Every valley will be raised up,
and every mountain and hill will be flattened.
Uneven ground will become level,
and rough terrain a valley plain.
The Lord’s glory will appear,
and all humanity will see it together;
the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.”
What should I call out?
All flesh is grass; all its loyalty is like the flowers of the field.
The grass dries up and the
flower withers when the
LORD's breath blows on it.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass dries up;
the flower withers...
but our God's word will exist forever.
Isaiah 40:3-8 CEB
Then there's the dwindling numbers. Many of us have seen it. There was a time when the pews were filled. I remember an event, at this church I used to attend, where chairs were brought in because there was no room in the pews. Now, the lack of bodies in the church brings anxiety. Anxiety brings negative behavior from us. Negative behavior drives more people out of the church. It feels like a losing battle.
Go up on a high mountain, messenger Zion!
Raise your voice and shout, messenger Jerusalem!
Raise it; don’t be afraid;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
Here is the Lord God,
coming with strength,
with a triumphant arm,
bringing His reward with him
and His payment before him.
Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock;
he will gather lambs in his arms
and lift them onto his lap.
He will gently guide the nursing ewes.
Look up at the sky and consider:
Who created these?
The one who brings out their attendants one by one,
summoning each of them by name.
Because of God’s great strength
and mighty power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, Jacob,
and declare, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord
my God ignores my predicament”?
Don’t you know?
Haven’t you heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the creator of the ends of the earth.
He doesn’t grow tired or weary.
His understanding is beyond human reach,
giving power to the tired
and reviving the exhausted.
Youths will become tired and weary,
young men will certainly stumble;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will fly up on wings like eagles;
they will run and not be tired;
they will walk and not be weary.
Isaiah 40:9-11; 26-31
The time has come when we need to lick our wounds, stop focusing on what can't be, and start focusing on what we could become. It's time to stop going back to old programs, and start field testing new possibilities.
We sit on the precipice of a new day. We have two choices. We can live in our loss and pain and go down with the setting sun. -OR- We pick ourselves up, take a leap, and soar!