by Kelcie Huffstickler Posted Jul 2, 2020
My oldest daughter tends to overthink and worry about things at night when she’s tired. Something about a long day and an exhausted mind magnifies her otherwise minor fourth grade problems. I remember one night as she laid in her top bunk above her sister, with tears streaming down her cheeks, I taught her Philippians 4:6-7. “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand…” I love these verses because they are essentially a formula for peace. And they work! Don’t worry. Pray. Tell God what you need. Thank Him. As I walked my daughter through the steps, I could see her load lifting. The tears slowed and her body relaxed. Soon, she was fast asleep.
My younger daughter struggles with a temper and an inability to manage her emotions. We recently taught her James 1:19-20. “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” Lately when her temper has flared and a tantrum surfaced, we quickly quote the verse. She manages herself so much better when God’s Word is proclaimed. I’m finding it’s much more beneficial than just saying, “God doesn’t want you to act like that.” There is power in the written (and recited) Word of God.
Since our kids were babies, my husband and I have diligently worked to instill in them a love for the Lord and His Word. We have been faithful to take them to church and to be involved there, we read the Bible and pray with them, and we do our best to saturate them with Godly influences. But our prayer has always been that they develop their own faith, not dependent on Mom and Dad’s.
We were introduced to Pine Cove as a family when our girls were toddlers, before their brother was born. We went to family camp two years in a row and were impacted for eternity by our experience there. The camp director and his wife modeled how to raise a thriving, growing, Kingdom-minded family. The other families became friends and sharpened us as iron sharpens iron. The excitement and ridiculously fun atmosphere reminded us that serving the Lord should be an adventure. And the passionate, humble, Gospel-minded college-age staff gave us a vision for how we hope our kids will turn out. After family camp, my girls and I spent a couple years attending mother/daughter retreats at Pine Cove. And this summer, for the first time, our girls are registered to attend youth camp by themselves at the Towers camp in East Texas!
Every time we have visited Pine Cove, it has been like a reset button on life. We relax, refresh, and refuel on God’s Word. We are always served up rich, Biblical teaching. But more than that, we are shown how to follow the Lord by faithful followers who live what they teach. I am beyond excited for my girls to be shaped by the intentional ministry of Pine Cove staffers this summer, helping them become more independent in their walks with the Lord.
At Pine Cove, kids gain confidence and trust as they learn to pray both individually and collectively. They grow in their faith through new experiences and Christ-centered teachings. And small group devotions, quiet time in Scripture, and prayer inspire daily rhythms for campers to be in God’s presence every day. I am hopeful that when my girls get home, growth will be evident and the changes lasting.
Scripture is clear that it is primarily parents’ responsibility to train up children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). We are instructed to repeat God’s commands to our children, talking about them when we are at home and on the road, when we are going to bed and when we’re getting up (Deuteronomy 6:7). But sometimes it’s good to get creative in our methods. In our home we do a lot of family devotions, reading Bible stories, and talking about what we learned at church. But sometimes our routine can get just that: routine. And our social circle is fairly small. That’s why we’ve been intentional to invest in our kids by sending them to Pine Cove. We want our kids to learn from others—besides us— to reinforce what they learn at home. And we want to put them in new environments with people from other backgrounds, providing opportunities to experience the Lord in fresh ways.
Our prayer is that this summer, our kids will learn to connect to God and pray in a more intimate, personal way than ever before. We are praying their faith “grows legs” so to speak, so it can stand beside Mom and Dad’s but doesn’t have to be held by them. If you are looking for a way to invest in your children’s lives, rather than just ways to spend their time, I encourage you to investigate Pine Cove for yourself. As their mission statement says, “Pine Cove exists to be used by God to transform the lives of people for His purposes and His glory.” And in my experience, it always does just that.