A Good Marriage Is Worth The Effort!! #213

In my workshop I have a valentine from Sally Jo, written after 50 years of marriage. “Falling in love is easy, but staying in love is something very special. When I think of everything we’ve been through together, I’m amazed, inspired, and grateful – our love is as fresh as when we started, yet deeper and more real. Happy Valentine’s Day.” And then her note: “May sound strange, but Thank You for loving me so much, no matter what happens.” This year I wrote a letter to Sally Jo for Valentine’s Day in which I told her she most lives the Fruit of the Spirit of anyone I know.

God instituted marriage Genesis 2:20-25, and Jesus celebrated marriage at the wedding in Cana.John 2:1-10. The Bible provides specific guidance for the marriage relationship including Ephesians 5:21-33, Matthew 5:31-32. Following are passages not spoken in the context of marriage, but they are not negated by marriage. The person we marry becomes our very close neighbor, and being married to the same person for any number of years is not easy, but a good marriage is work the effort.

– “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
– The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same. Luke 3:11
– “Peter asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. Matthew 18:21
– “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” Romans 12:2-6
– “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3
– “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. Carry each other’s burdens, and you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:1
– “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
– “Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Sunday morning I asked a man from India about his arranged marriage. He had never met the person he was to marry until she had arrived in the United States. “Chuck, it takes adjustment, compromise… yes, sacrifice.” After 26 years of marriage, he was still smiling.

Sunday noon I went to see my friend Dan, who had been in the hospital for 6 days. Dan’s wife, Stephanie, greeted me with a warm smile – she was Dan’s high school sweetheart – a cheerleader for the high school football team of which Dan was captain. They were discussing who could spend the night with Dan. Stephanie needed to be home with their 8 year old twins, and other family members were not available. My offer to stay was accepted, and I returned at 8:00 PM

In the summer after high school, Dan slipped on the side of a swimming pool – and became a quadriplegic. Sometime later Dan and Stephanie were married. During the night at the hospital asked Dan, “How do you keep your marriage fresh and alive? “Chuck, I’m not sure. I guess it is because we love each other, encourage each other – and then he laughed… I could do better!”

Live In Partnership With God
Live In Partnership With Your Wife or Husband

Marriage Education – at Deerfoot Lodge #211

As the young men of Deerfoot Lodge got older, so did their interest in, and their concern about marriage. Some came from second marriage and single parent homes – all had friends who did. Many had parents with wonderful marriages – and this is what they wanted for themselves. Still others came from homes where, to those on the outside, everything looked wonderful. But on the inside…continual tension, sometimes physical pain.

These young men came to DL and saw how marriage can be, how marriage can work. This week Sally Jo and I had dinner with Chief Ron and Anne. They agreed that the marriages at DL were solid, healthy marriages – and that they continue to be. Healthy marriages cannot be faked for 11 weeks each summer.

In many ways, being married at DL is like being married anywhere. In the healthy marriage, the husband and wife continually adjust their expectations to the realities of life. At DL, never having never to cook also means no choice of menu. Being surrounded by recreational activities is great, but it can be frustrating not to have much time to enjoy them together. Staff children may not have playmates, and for sure, no TV’s or DVD’s. Walking in the cool rain to everything in camp gets old! Work days at DL can be long – the challenges unpredictable. Privacy: Limited.

Wazican opened the kitchen every morning except on his day off. On Sunday he was at the kitchen about 3:30 AM – sticky buns. His day ended when the kitchen was cleaned up. Imagine how out of it Lee felt when at Dun Login with a toddler and a baby. Yet Wazican and Lee maintained a good marriage.

The nurses lived above the sick campers and/or staff in the Health Center. For 15 summers Lynn Gosling’s husband, Bill, and later it was Linda Lankford’s husband, Lowell, had work responsibilities at home and would be at DL for only a few weeks each summer. When these men arrived, their nurse/wife was not suddenly freed of their responsibility for the sick and injured campers and staff. The nurse still had to pass out meds at meal times, and always be ready when needed by any member of the DL community. Bill, and then Lowell, would come to be with their wives, knowing the nurse schedule. Upon arrival they would do Health Center laundry: dirty sheets and wet sleeping bags. They would take sick and injured campers for medical care – anything they could to help their wives. If needed and available, these men would drive out hikes. Remember, these couples lived right above the sick campers and staff. If there were ever an angry word between husband and wife, those below would certainly have heard it.

Campers and staff noticed our marriages at DL. They could see the schedules we kept, the responsibilities we carried – they also could see the smiles, the laughter, the holding of hands. And the questions would come. During my one on one walks with staff members there were intense conversations about girl friends/fiancé’s. More than once the staff member knew what they should do….but, ouch! I know there were several relationships stopped after those conversations. I still get e-mails and phone calls. This week: “my wife’s pregnant” and “I definitely credit Deerfoot’s emphasis on growth through hardship as preparing me”…“miscarried”…“it’s been an endurance run”.

At every Island Question and Answer session, the questions asked about love, sex, and marriage would take a good portion of the 2 hours. They wanted straight, honest answers – and they got them. During the evening I would remind them that God invented sex, and it was good, and if they saw a candle burning in our bedroom window at the Lookout, to leave us alone. One evening at line-up I was given a 14” taper candle and encouraged to have a good evening. Laughter! The next morning I came to line-up with a candle stub, and said “Thanks!”

Living In Partnership With God requires living in partnership with our wives.

Next week: Biblical truths of marriage – with implications.

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow! #210

In last week’s In Partnership With God, I wrote about the blessings we receive from people, and failed to focus on the fact that the source of all blessing is God.

What came to my mind, when I realized what I had done, was when Jesus healed the 10 lepers and “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. And he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17:15-18. God has been the source of all blessing for Deerfoot Lodge, for each of us. Last week I focused on the blessings given by God’s people – not the original source of all blessing.

How could I fail to remember “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain? Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” Psalm 127:1-2

Most Deerfooters seek to “Trust in the LORD with all their heart and lean not on their own understanding; in all their ways they have sought to acknowledge Him, and rightfully expected Him to direct their path.” Proverbs 3:5-6 altered. God has directed the paths of the staff members who come, the campers who come, sometimes through the encouragement of people at church, or kids at school, or a parent’s employer. God has directed the paths of those who give to enable Deerfoot Lodge to seek “to build godly young men in a Christ-centered community through wilderness camping.”

Apart from God’s blessing, how else can we explain that, in the middle of the night, nurse Linda Lankford, looked out of the upstairs window in the Health Center – the window at the opposite end of the building from where she slept, and saw the small flame in the kitchen which resulted from a broken butane pipe when a bear crashed through the window and knocked the gas toaster off the counter? If the dining hall had burned down…campers and staff would have had to go home.

Apart from God’s blessing, how could DL have its incredible staff, summer after summer? Why have there been no abusive staff members? Why no serious van accidents when young drivers drive campers over 350 trips each summer?

God has been merciful. Let us PRAISE GOD, FROM WHOM ALL BLESSING FLOW.

How has God blessed you? How have you responded?

Writing these two IPWG’s has caused me to think, I promise.

“Count your blessings, Name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, See what God has done.”
— Edwin Excell

Truly Blessed = Unmerited Favor #209

Blessing: That I was asked to resign from a ministry/place which the Lord had used me to put together, but where we knew we would never be comfortable.

Blessing: I was hired by Deerfoot Lodge, and a few years later, Sally Jo was also. It was obvious from the beginning that we were privileged to be placed in “His Place”. For 23 years we worked hard – in our dream job!

Blessing: The Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors. They took this incredibly smashed and almost broken man and guided, encouraged, and loved me back to being an emotionally healthy person, able to do my job.

Blessing: Chief Nay (Dave Naysmith), Wazican (Dean Dover) and Jeff Littauer who guided and encouraged me through that first summer. When I became Director, I had never seen Deerfoot Lodge in operation.

Blessing: Those of you who have supported DL through physical work, expertise, camping, maintenance and office equipment, financial contributions, and prayer. It would be fascinating to know how many seriously pray for the ministry of Deerfoot Lodge. Some of you saved DL from extinction by bringing campers.

Blessing: Camp-of-the-Woods invited DL to have a brief slide presentation during the morning worship service one morning each week. They put DL into their summer brochure and a display in the hallway of Purdy Lodge.

Blessing: Getting to personally know thousands of you who have supported Deerfoot Lodge. You are an incredible bunch who know the joy of the Lord, the joy of giving. Your notes and phone calls have been steady – often offering wise counsel. No joke… as I write this, I have suddenly begun to cry. God is awesome… and so are Deerfooters.

Blessing: The Staff that came for many summers: Sally Jo, Nay, MaMa Nay, Wazi, Lee, Lynn, Brent, Abi, Valerie, Linda, Pete, Shawn, Garret, Kelly, Ken and Stephanie – and those hired/rehired each summer: kitchen, maintenance, counseling, waterfront, and office. After our first few summers, I do not think there was a finer summer camp staff in the United States than Deerfoot Lodge employed. These godly people came to serve, to learn, to work hard!!

Blessing: Campers who came to DL to have fun, learn new skills, make wonderful friends and to grow as godly young men! The order of importance of these varied from camper to camper. The Island filled first because Woodsmen became Pioneers, became Indians. Many sessions the Island only had one or two who were new to DL. With good leadership, the Islanders took care of themselves…and little campers as needed. Guides became the core of the DL staff, year after year.

There is no need to say I will never know how many young lives the Lord has used me to encourage – I have a pretty good idea through the hugs, warm greetings (this week in a Wendy’s), notes, e-mails, and phone calls.

What I would like to say to you, and others who have enabled Deerfoot to be Deerfoot, is You will never know how many young lives the Lord has used you to encourage. You have been the enabling people. I was like the quarterback… getting much more credit than I deserved!!

God’s blessing has been upon us, through us! I think Deerfooters bring Joy to God, I really do! Let us continue to live “In Partnership With God” and in partnership with Deerfoot Lodge – His place!

Why The Island (campers 14-16) Fills in January – The Camper’s Perspective #208

My last summer at DL, unknown to me, there were custom bound books in which Woodsmen, Pioneers, Indians, and “Voyageurs and Guides” were able to write notes to me. Chief Ron gave me the notebooks after my final After Breakfast Bible Study for each session. The campers cheered. Emotionally it was really tough for me to handle! Tears!!! This week I re-opened the Island/Indians book to read what was been written 10 years ago by campers who are now 24-27 years old.

“Thank you for being supportive of me last year when…”

“You always stick true to your word”

“Ever since my first year at DL (when I gave my life to Christ) this has been a very special place for me”

“You have made my years enjoyable and fun”

“As a third generation camper”

“Deerfoot Lodge is a wonderful God-loving/worshiping place it is.”

“I first came 8 years ago – I loved it. It has gotten better every year. Thank you for making my Christian experience greater”

“My 4 years have been amazing. I feel bad for the campers that haven’t experienced Q & A responses (middle Sunday night with Indians) Although some were humorous, other answers were really influential. Some of your answers taught me a lot of things I hadn’t even thought of”

“You are so happy and at peace because you are strong in the Lord. You have made me realize how much fun you can have with the Lord, and that you can be free to have fun. Thank you very much.”

“DL has shaped me into a better person, a much stronger believer”

“I have been coming to DL for 7 years and I couldn’t have done it without your generousness (scholarships). Now my older brother is working (became Guide leader), and my younger brother is coming.”

“My past 6 summers at Deerfoot have challenged me and stretched me both physically and spiritually in ways I could not have imagined.”

“I only hope to find a wife who is as good to me as yours is to you”

“Chief, I hope you will continue to grow in God”

“It has been great having you as the Director during the 6 years I have been here. I cannot properly express how much I shall miss you” (written by a very challenging camper!)

“It’s awesome how you trust us”

“It is because of you and this camp that has completely turned my life around and kept me on the right track. These last 8 years showed me the true awesome might of God, and how he reaches out and touches everyone’s lives”

“DL has become a home to myself and innumerous other Christian guys”

“I have learned so much just listening to your stories, Bible stories, after breakfast Bible studies and Q & A.”

“It has increased my confidence in myself by a lot. Confidence was something I lacked before I came here.”

“Ever since my dad came here about 30 years ago, he loved it. When he came to drop me off my first year, he noticed that nothing had been changed. It was just as amazing, godly and awesome.”

“It is hard for me to be a Christian when the only person at home who is a Christian lives 20 miles away. That’s why Deerfoot helped me”

“Coming to Deerfoot has changed my life spiritually and physically. This is my 8th year. Every year I learn something new”

“Coming here is a big relief – being around people who aren’t strict about religion”

“A Boss 2 years, the best 2 years of my life”

“I have grown so much closer to God”

“It wouldn’t have been as fun of a time without you.”

“Thank you for being the camp director of the best place in the world.”

“God has used you for His work and I pray that God might use me as well.”

“I had so much fun, learned a lot of new things, and grew in my walk with God.”

“P.S. Tell the new guy to keep the cinnamon rolls”.

Deerfoot Lodge remains God’s Place, and I have no doubt that what was written 10 years ago, would be written today.

This is true because those who serve at DL, those who contribute in other ways, do so In Partnership With God.