I am sitting here listening to quiet music, thinking about my two big kids at camp. Some of you already know the story of Mary heading to camp, but for those of you who haven't heard, I'll tell it. Mary is most certainly not my extrovert child. There have been times when she was younger that people would walk by and say "hello" to her, and I would have to make her say "hi." If I didn't she would just look down, and hope that they would go away and stop talking to her. Her shyness has always been something that she has had to work at. New situations bring on painful stomache problems. When camp was first discussed, and she said that she wanted to go, I was shocked. This past weekend, I was happy to see her eagerly packing and chatting non-stop about camp.
Mary had everything perfectly folded, lined up neatly. She even made labels for each day....
And then, there's Matt...
Finally, the day came. We loaded up the car and headed to Aunty Tricia's house to drop off the three little ones. We said our goodbyes and left. As we drove, Matthew told Mary all that she would expect at camp. We listened to him as he relived last year's week of camp. I could tell the nerves were settling in. Her face was blank. The smile was gone, and she was just staring out the window. Then she said, "Mom, I am excited, but my stomache is hurting." I said, "Mary, you are going to have the time of your life at camp. God has some great things for you, and Satan surely doesn't want you to hear them. Don't let the worry settle in. Pray those pains away." As we exited off the highway, she was full of questions. One of them being, "Mommy, do you think that I will get that counselor that was on the cover of the camp brochure?" This particular picture showed a sweet counselor giving a little girl a piggy back ride. Both of them were beaming with fun and joy. You could almost hear the laughter from the picture. Of course they always show the counselor and camper having the best time on the front of these brochures. Are those people real or staged? I tried to comfort her by telling her that whoever her counselor was, she would be happy. As camp was getting closer and closer and Mary's nerves were intensifying, I began to wonder if it was possible to call the camp and ask about this counselor. Maybe that would help calm Mary's nerves? The problem was that there are so many camps from North Carolina to Colorado. I'm sure this brochure came from the North Carolina camp. Mary persisted with questions about her counselor. I just encouraged her to pray about it. So, she did right there in the car.
We arrived on campus. Now, I was the one with the stomach pains! I just kept praying that God would give her a good counselor. We walked into an enormous log cabin, and fought our way through registration lines, suitcases, pillows, sleeping bags, excited children and weeping moms. There was a recreational room for children to play games and get to know one another, as parents got them registered. Immediately, Matthew took off. Mary stayed by my side. A friend of hers bounded up, wearing her blue team shirt and said, "Hey Mary!! It's Coke against Pepsi this year. We're on the Pepsi team, and we're in the same cabin." Mary half heartedly smiled. "Come on, Mary, let's go," her friend tried pursuading. Mary quietly shook her head, "no." I looked down at my girl, "It's ok, honey. Go play while I get you registered." Then, it happened. Every mom's nightmare...the tears came flowing down her cheeks. She leaned her head against me. I pulled her close and whispered in her ear, "It's ok. I'll stay here until you're ok...I promise you." Right about then, I began wondering if I should have packed my own bag. After Mary was registered, it was time meet her counselor. The big moment! Quite frankly, it was more my big moment than Mary's. I wanted to meet the college aged girl that I was leaving my child with. A cute, smiley brunette with a Red Sox hat on walked up to us. Her name was Jess. She bent down and warmly greeted my tear-stained Mary. I caught Jess's eye and whispered, "first time away from home." She smiled and said, "I'm on it." As we walked to Mary's home for the week, Jess was telling her all about the games and fun activites that were planned. Mary's room was warm and sunny, filled with bunk beds. A small pile of candy was placed on each girl's bed...a little gift from Jess. There were three other girls sitting in the room. I introduced Mary and they awkwardly introduced themselves. Jess took a seat on a bed across from Mary, and pulled some papers out of her counselor package. She said she wanted to get Mary's address to keep in contact with her. As she reached for her notebook, last year's camp brochure fell out. She picked it up. "Hey...wanna see something neat?" She turned the brochure around, and pointed to the picture on the front of the famous smiling counselor giving the camper a piggy back ride. "This is me." My mouth fell open. I looked at Mary. Her entire face lit up. Both of us were just beaming. My eyes filled with tears as I reached out and hugged my girl tight, "Oh Mary! God knew!! Look! You got 'THE COVER GIRL OF THE CAMP', just like you wanted!!!! God is going to take good care of you!!!" I told Jess the story of how Mary specifically asked if she would get the "camp brochure counselor." I also told her about my doubts that it would happen. From that moment on, Mary was completely fine. No more stomach pains. No more tears. No more worry. I helped her make her bed, and chatted with the sweet girls that would be her roommates for the week. Mary's tears were gone, and now replaced by her dimples. She smiled and said, "I'm ok Mommy. You can go." I hugged her goodbye and walked way, wondering why I ever worried even for one second.
I Peter 5:7 "If you pray and trust God to take this anxiety away from you He will do it because He cares for you."
God had comforted our daughter in a way that only He could. Sometimes as a mom, you want to manipulate things just a bit just to make sure that your child gets what they want, or so they won't worry...or is it so I wouldn't worry? What if I had called the camp, trying to figure out who the girl was on the camp brochure and asked them to put my daughter in that cabin? Mary would have completely missed out on the blessing of God's comfort. And I would have taken the glory for manipulating the situation. For the first time I saw that God was our Mary's comfort, not me! That's how I want it to be. I'm not always going to be here for them. I want our children to learn to rely on God. He needs to be their strength, their guide, their fortress, their rock and their COMFORTER!
Now, everyone....take a deep breath, abandon your anxious thoughts, and pray. It will all work out!
We promise! :o)
(Mary with her counselor, shortly after we found out that she was the "Cover Girl" on the brochure.)