We just got back from Branson, Missouri. Kory was asked to speak at a summer camp for Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, a church from Kansas. We know a guy that went to be a pastor there and through a variety of events and people we decided back in the winter we would go to the summer camp as a family and pour into the middle schoolers there. The church has their camp at Point 11, which is a Kanakuk Kamp. (We take our ISI kids to KAA Kamp every summer, which is also a Kanakuk Kamp) So we were in familiar territory.
I have to say, on our 13 hour drive out there with our 2 year old in the back seat we asked ourselves what we were thinking heading out to speak and serve at a camp all week in the midst of everything. Looking back on it now, it was a highlight to our summer, an incredible week where not only did God’s kingdom expand and grow, he grew us right along with it as he always does.
Kory and I had a blast with each other. It was one of those weeks as a couple where we were very in sync with one another. I love summer camp in general and feel alive in those settings, and Kory is the same. I would help craft his messages and he would give them. 9 to be exact, every morning and every night he spoke. The kids were great. The leaders were great. The staff was great. It was nice to be “away,” and to feel a bit like a kid again at summer camp. Watching Kory goof off with the boys jumping off the blob and the flying trapeze was truly a joy. Going myself on the slip n slide and watching Avery bond and connect with the pastor and worship leaders’ kids was life giving. Eating camp food and meeting new people and hearing their stories was fun for me. Worship was healing. Watching Avery worship and lift her hands like all the kids was so precious. This song, "Give Me Faith"- Elevation Worship was played a lot at camp and I resonate with the words so deeply.
Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside
I give you my life…
I may be weak
But your spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
But my God you never will
There were so many awesome kids there that were really growing in their understanding of Christ. One of the coolest things happened. The first night Kory shared about being vulnerable about who we really are and leaving our masks at the door. He led by example and was vunerable with the students. One of the things he shared was about Karis. I didn’t expect middle schoolers to be able to grasp how hard having a stillbirth would be, but wow. Their response blew me away. So many kids came up to me during the week and talked about their miscarried siblings that their parents told them they would meet in heaven, so many kids. I was in shock. There are so many miscarriages that happen. So many parents that will arrive at the pearly gates and have their children come running to greet them and show them all that heaven is and has been to them.
One girl in particular I was drawn too. We shared the same first name, and she reminded me a bit of myself when I was her age. She shared with me all about her sister she never got to meet on earth. With a sparkle in her eyes she shared that her parents had named her middle name after her sister that had passed. She loved her middle name. She was so proud to be named after her sister. Wow. I was touched.
A few of the leaders came to me as well and talked about how hard it was when they had miscarried in the past. One woman in particular came to me and said that her first child, she delivered stillborn at 5 months, same as me. Hers was a boy. Now she had two high schoolers and God has done a lot of healing in her life. Another woman came up to me with her high school daughter, and shared that when her daughter was two she had one of her kidneys removed, just like Avery.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the suffering of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
I love how Karis brought about all those conversations and opened up the doors for us to remember all the loved ones we have never met who are in heaven. If I would of showed up to camp pregnant as planned, none of those doors would have been opened. Not that it made it “worth it” by any means, but it’s God’s perfect way of taking the bad and using it for good (Rom 8:28). I love how God uses Karis’s life to do his kingdom work even without her breathing earthly air. He is a big God.
At the camp they had a spoken word artist who I became close to. We were about the same age. She intrigued me as she grew up in the city with parents who were urban missionaries. I picked her brain on behalf of Avery and it was enlightening. She and Kory did breakout sessions in the morning and one of her sessions spoke to me. It was called the Raindrop Project. She talked about how as Christians we all want to be the tsuami. We want to be the big deal. We all want to have the big name. We all want to have the platform….”in Jesus name.” But God calls us to be a raindrop. A small, usually unnoticed by others, little drop that maybe just touches one life. He calls us all to be raindrops. And when the raindrop hits the water, it ripples. We do one small thing and God uses the ripples to touch other people, lots of times in ways we don’t even know of. I thought to myself, I want to be a raindrop for God. And I thought about my daughter Karis, she is God’s little raindrop. Her life came and went about as quick as a raindrop, but he will use and continue to use the ripples in ways I don’t even know or understand.
The last night the leaders got together and recognized that it was June 20, 2014. It had been exactly one month since delivering Karis’s body into this world. I was amazed. I hadn’t even thought that deeply and here these people who I had just met six days earlier had. It’s amazing how unifying the body of Christ is. These people we had just met really did feel like family. They prayed for us, read Scriptures over us and presented us with three little light pink roses in honor of Karis’s life. How they knew a light pink rose was our symbol from God for Karis is beyond me, but I was so grateful.
The theme of the week was “I Am Known,” and in that moment I felt known by people who were strangers just days ago. Most importantly I felt known by my God. My God who sees, hears, and knows.