Me & Jonah (and Christmas Dinner)

Last year, right around this time, I had a thought.

Christmas was approaching, and right on its heels was our camp’s annual New Year’s Family Camp. It has always been a highlight event. Families from all over come for a little retreat. Extended families meet for family reunions. Single adults and seniors come experience a sense of community in a season that can often be lonely for them. Activities and events are planned for all ages. And, (perhaps?), most importantly, after a season of entertaining and cooking and baking and cleaning and parties and preparations, the moms get to have a complete break from food prep and clean-up. They can sit back and relax while THEY are served for a change.


It’s supposed to be really fun.

But, honestly, I was tired.

Just. Plain. Weary.

I didn’t want to advertise, plan, serve, mingle, or entertain.

I started to think that after 20 years of attending New Year’s Family Camp, I just simply wanted to have a break.

“After all”, I reasoned,  “I had already sacrificed 21 years of summer family vacations. Did I also need to sacrifice the only other time of year that my kids had off from school?”


All the sudden, I realized the bitter road my mind was going down. It wasn’t healthy or helpful.

On that day, one year ago, I prayed this prayer,

“Lord, give me a fresh passion and love for the mission you have for me.”

I’ve been praying that prayer all year long.

God has answered in an interesting way.

This has been – on the one hand – an out-of-the-ordinary wonderful year. After all, it did include a dream come true trip to Maui!!

On the other hand, it’s also been a difficult year.

Through it all, I’ve held tightly onto two prayers:

“Lord, may I live my life doing the things you desire of me because I want to ~ not because I ought to.”


“Lord, I want to serve you. What do you want me to do right now, today?”


The busy summer found my husband tossing and turning through sleepless nights. The impending departure of our camp cook was looming closer and closer, and no matter how urgently we prayed and pled, there were absolutely no leads on the horizon.

Anyone who has ever been to camp knows that food is an important part of the whole picture. It’s not an area that can be left undone or “stricken from the program” until someone comes along.

I was fighting a battle in my heart as well.

You see, when my husband took the job as the camp director, I voiced adamantly that I would help with anything EXCEPT the camp kitchen.


The camp kitchen ~ to me ~ was like Nineveh was to Jonah. It was the place I refused to go.

But, slowly, gently, and persistently, God worked away at the stubbornness and fear in my heart.

Finally, one sleepless night, I rolled over and muttered,

“Would you just go to sleep already? I’ll do it!!”


We both came to that decision with great fear and trepidation. I didn’t know, honestly, if I could figure out the job. Nor, did I know what the new strain would do to my strange health issues.

I stepped fearfully out of my comfort zone…

and into the camp kitchen.

margarets verse whole sign

All along, I’ve prayed that He would miraculously work out the details, and give me the thoughts and actions and strength to accomplish it.

I’ve also prayed that He would give me Joy…true, abiding, genuine, and lasting Joy through it all.

be joyful always



Irwin and I were talking during our little breakfast in bed tradition about a week ago. As it often does, the topic of the kitchen came up. As we discussed details and plans, I leaned over and whispered,

“you know…I kinda like this job.”

We laughed ourselves silly.

God delights in doing miracles, doesn’t He??!

hope, joy and peace


Now to top it all off, I just decided to do something a little different for Christmas this year. I often find it a time of year where I’m so terribly lonely for my dear family who is so very far away….

So, in light of my newfound knowledge of cooking for a crowd, we decided to have Christmas dinner at Camp Homewood ~ open to anyone who – like me – wants to be surrounded on that day with people and kids and laughter and joy. I’m still working out *the details.

But, I’m so excited at this opportunity to serve others.

…not because I ought to

But because I want to

ready to eat*If you are local and find yourselves without family and wishing you could be with one, consider this an invitation! Come join ours! All you need to do is call the camp office (250.285.3483) and leave the names of those who are coming with their ages. (You’ll figure out the reason for the ages soon.;))

~ If you already have plans to be with family or friends, but would still like to be a part of this community event, perhaps you’d like to donate to Camp Homewood to help cover the cost of food. I’d really like this to be a free event for those who come.

gifts~ Also, if you already read my blog, you may know that the details are important to me. I’d really like to be able to give each person a gift with their name on it. So, if you have a stash of little gifts that you could donate to use for that, I’m sure it would be an incredible blessing to the person who receives it.


Yikes!! I do believe this is the longest blog post in the history of my blog. After having it be silent for two weeks, I just made up for it in one day!!

Blessings to you all~

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  1. Oh, I love the heart that Jesus gave you. I would dearly love to join you in the Christmas dinner thing (and New Year’s for that matter). It’s no fun to not have family around..I would especially love to join you in coming up with all sorts of fun gifts…I would raid my stash for you but I am afraid it wouldn’t be worth the price of shipping. Bless you as you serve on, because Jesus has given you a heart that wants to.

  2. rita, you are amazing! love the idea of family christmas dinner for people-not only having the thought but the “do” it factor. and doesn’t god have a sense of humor? 🙂

  3. Wonderful, Rita! May you find much joy in this day!!! We host a potluck every year because we are away from family and we’ve had many happy Christmases celebrating with others far from family! We’ve pushed back the couches to learn to salsa, eaten sushi, giggled over charades with our ESL friends and really found great happiness. May you experience this, too!!

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