Once upon a time, there was a young mother who refused to write a camp blog.
Her husband Scruffy was a camp director and he thought that a camp blog was an amazing idea … for her to write. But she was busy with her three young boys (ages 9, 7, and 5) and attempting to revise her angsty YA novel for the 16th time. She told the Lord that if He wanted her to write a camp blog, well, He was going to have to make that VERY clear.
Now, she loved camp ministry. Loved hearing the stories of camp adventures from staff, campers, and speakers. Loved taking photos and writing. Plus, she had always dreamed of being a photojournalist. However, none of this occurred to her as she stared at the overwhelming idea of starting and writing a blog for the camp where they lived and worked.
Then, some good friends who knew that she loved to write gathered the funds from an amazing group of helpful folks and sent her to the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference in Texas! She was so thrilled! What an adventure. Now she could take that angsty YA book manuscript and maybe get an agent and maybe even find an editor who loved it!
The ACFW conference was amazing! Boo Boo zoomed from class to class learning new writer things, meeting agents and editors who were sadly destined to reject her manuscript, and even finding a critique partner! She and her critique partner have worked together on story after story for over ten years now. It was an amazing time.
During the keynote address each day, the conferees would sing worship songs together. During one of those worship sessions, they sang, “Our God” by Chris Tomlin.
Now, Boo Boo learned that song at camp. Worshipping with the wonderful camp counselors and a room jam packed with rowdy children. There is something completely unique about standing in a log lodge on a mountain meadow while fifty children sing at the tops of their lungs around you. Camp worship is Boo Boo’s favorite!
But there is also something incredible about standing in a room of several hundred women (and a scattering of men) and worshipping the same God together. The God who is our creator. The God who gave each one in that room a passion to write, to tell tales, to create beauty and laughter and story … just like Him.
As Boo Boo sang she was overwhelmed until she couldn’t sing anymore. So she just stood there and she wept.
And suddenly, that wasn’t enough. The incredible weight of having so many stories to tell, but not knowing if she was good enough, talented enough, if what she wrote would ever find a publishing home … the weight was so heavy.
Writing is a risky business. One can easily spend a lifetime penning words and never see “success.”
Added on to that weight, Boo Boo thought of that camp blog that she’d refused to write.
She felt the panic of it, the added burden of what she should be able to do and couldn’t. There were so many things to get done, and the list never dwindled.
She didn’t hear a voice. Instead, she felt a twinge, a nudge, an unease.
And that not-a-voice in her heart was so very clear.
“What if I want you to write the camp blog?”
She was the one who lived right there at camp and had been looking for a way to be involved while still parenting her three small sons. She was the one who loved to write, collect stories, and take pictures. And despite it being one of the hardest jobs she or Scruffy had ever done, Boo Boo loved camp.
Who else could take a story about a camper’s grubby feet and tell the gospel?
Who else had a front row seat to the Glory that God accomplished at camp every single week?
What if she’d been slogging along for the last eleven years, learning how to craft her words just right … for something other than a book contract?
What if God had stirred in her the desire to tell stories for such a time as this? A time when people needed to be transported to camp, to laugh, to cry, to wonder at all that He could do in the lives of simple people who ran smack into Him and were changed. Did God still send Esther moments? What if those moments didn’t look like one expected? What if writing and life and ministry didn’t look at all like you thought it would?
Boo Boo felt a new weight on her heart. Now that she had considered the possibility that she was called to this, she suddenly knew something for certain.
She was disobeying God.
Sometimes, it is easier to tell when you are disobeying God than it is to tell that He wants you to do something in the first place. With that weight of disobedience … not guilt … not outside pressure … actual disobedience to Him … Boo Boo knew for sure.
God wanted her to write the camp blog.
Weeping, she hit her knees in the middle of that crowded room and she said yes.
Yeah, she absolutely would write the blog.
Now, God didn’t say not to write novels, angsty or otherwise. He just said to write the blog and that He would give her the time for what was important. Sometimes, it is harder to trust God with our limited time than with other more tangible things.
On December 22nd, 2012 Boo Boo posted her first blog post for Camas Meadows Bible Camp. That was ten years ago today.
No one ever bought Boo Boo’s angsty YA manuscript … or the one she wrote after that.
Boo Boo plugged away writing her stories and very few of them were published. In fact, she has 27 unpublished book manuscripts languishing on her computer. But she wrote that blog, week after week, year after year, cataloging what the Lord has done at a little Bible Camp hidden on a remote meadow in the Cascade Mountains.
She told the story of that time Scruffy worked all week to befriend the grumpy kid … and found out at the Friday night campfire that he had hidden away a gun and a bullet at home. He’d told himself he would go to camp and when he got home, he would end his life. But that kid stood up during the campfire and said that he’d changed his mind. He was going to go home and he was going to live.
She wrote about that incredible off-trail hike where a whole cabin worked to get a camper who used a wheelchair through the woods, over logs, up a hill, and to the top of the ridge to see the amazing views.
Every single week contained so many stories, more than could be recorded. The bully who became a friend. The broken kid who started watching out for others. The one who learned to apologize. The one who learned to forgive. The camper who came to Jesus and the camper who did not … but for the very first time met Christians who were determined to live a life of love, no matter what their campers believe. Endless stories, endless beauty, endless work to do.
This blog is ten now. That means it holds a decade of those stories. Now, this photo was taken the year before Boo Boo started the blog. But it is still a good representation of what she and Scruffy’s life was like at the very beginning. This was the year she refused to blog, after all. Those busy little boys who kept their parents hopping are all taller than Boo Boo now. In fact, they all worked at camp last summer.
Ten years later, Boo Boo may not have sold any angsty YA novels, but she has Scruffy and three tall and sarcastic teenagers, and the knowledge that she obeyed. She wrote the blog. Then she kept writing it for a decade. God has used her simple words and quickly snapped photos to do His work. Sometimes ministry looks totally different than what you expect, but if it is God asking you to do it, it is important all the same. Obedience itself is success. So please, enjoy the blog. Each story and photo is a gift of love, even the ones that are blurry or weird (see foot photo above). God is so powerful and gracious, that He still makes beautiful things out of our fumbling attempts to serve Him. Thank goodness for that!
Let’s end this 10th Anniversary Blog with Boo Boo’s favorite Bible verse.
Jonah 3:1–“And the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”
Thank the Lord that we serve a God who gives second chances!