Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sentence Prayers

Last summer was the first time in over ten years that I did not go to camp. I was not able to go this year to work, but I went up last night to visit. They had finished remodeling the tabernacle and I wanted to see that, but I also just wanted a taste of what I was missing.

It's hard for me to explain my pull toward camp, especially this all girls missions themed camp. Part of it is that these girls are so precious and they have their whole lives ahead of them. Or at least we assume they do; I noticed one small bald-headed and pale girl in the crowd. We know what battle she is facing, she wears evidence of it on her head. But the others? Who knows which girl will be an unwed mother? Who knows which girl will follow a call to mission fields far away? Who knows which girl returns to a home devoid of loving care and attention? Who knows which girl will marry well and raise her 2.5 children in a comfortable suburban setting? And which one will fall to drugs or alcohol?

I took photos but none of them are that compelling.
I managed to get a few blurry images of a group of girls practicing their song before "camper spotlight" starts.

Take a look at the girl in the longish white skirt and striped shirt at the outer fringe of the activity onstage. You can tell she's tired. This is the last night before they all go back home.

Now she has gotten her second wind and has moved center stage.

She even manages a timid smile for her adoring audience, or maybe she spotted me, way in the back, with the camera pointed toward the stage! (Click on the picture and make it bigger, you can better see her smile.) Blurry images, that's all we have. We just can't know what impact these few days at camp will have on their lives, can't know what things they will face.

It is an awesome responsibility and privilege to spend time with these girls, to be a leader, to be a listener, to be a see-er, to hear them pray...

Sentence Prayers

Sweet and full of innocence,
with tender hearts they pray:

God, help my cousin,
she’s fifteen, she had a baby.
God, I pray for everything
we prayed for already
and anything else we need
to pray for.
God, I hope I do good
on my math test tomorrow.
God, keep my sister safe,
she lives in a bad place
and my mama wants
her to come back home.
God, help my neighbor’s
autistic son get better...

God, I feel like a hardened
skeptic, an intruder.
I know that rocky path
out of a little girl’s world
into womanhood.

Many voices will cry out,
saying to their soul:
i am your salvation,
come with me.
Their faith will be shaken,
sifted like flour,
and unbelieving feet
will trample fragile hearts.

Doubts will swarm
like flies, demons will taunt,
bringing condemnation
in darkness,
leaving these precious
girls crouching,
panting in their fear.

Oh God, in the madness,
the devastation of frigid
will they remember you?
Oh God,
May they hear your voice
to their weary soul:

your salvation.


  1. You bring back memories of my girls and a "coed" Pentecostal Youth Camp about 3 hours away down in the hills of Kentucky. It was old time holiness. Girls played softball in skirts pinned in the right place to prevent being embarrassed. Round robin sports, one loss and you're out of there. Church, church, and more church. It would take a day or two for the Holy Ghost to "fall" and fill the camp from perimeter to perimeter, but every year it happened, and when it did: wall to wall kids in the sanctuary buried in His presence; kids getting filled with the Spirit down in the old barn where the boys slept stacked clear up to the rafters; kids one in Him in the quonset huts up the hill where the girls were quartered. They returned to church each time "on fire" and glowing of His life within them. Yet time passed and I noted, even as you have, life took its toll and I've often wondered where we failed. Do we think such temporary anointing enough to secure them? Do we not provide enough love, or trust, or witness of Him in us? I know the Reality. I do not doubt His own compassion. I rest in His grace. God save our kids, Annie. God save us.....

  2. Oh much truth. You have such an ability to see beyond the natural.

  3. Jim I sent you an email, but I will repeat myself a bit here. One thing is, re-entry to our everyday lives after a week of camp, or a weekend retreat is generally always a bit...painful. We try to remind the girls of this as we prepare to send them home after the week.

    Next thing is, some of us "worry" about the decisons these girls make during camp, "worry" that life will take its toll when they return home, but there is that scripture that says something like "He who began a great work in you will complete it". We try to do the best we can on talking to them and following up, but in the end, as with all of us, we have to trust that God does indeed hold them in the palm of His hand, and will continue to work in their lives and to guide their paths (of course they, as we do, have to choose to get on that path...and that brings up another discussion for another day, I suppose!)

    Princess Thank you, ma'am!

  4. This is so beautiful - blurry images and all. I always am amazed by the beauty you pull out of your photos.

    Katie went to a girls mission themed camp a couple of years ago. On the way home from the church we heard a serious little voice wafting out of the backseat: "That was the best time of my entire life."

  5. Annie...Just replied to your e-mail. Yours and other's comments here, for whatever reason, just brought to mind relocating Mom home from Washington, D.C. years ago. My half-brother, all of about 5 or 6 years old was in the back seat and, mixing up two different songs he had heard along the way, began to sing: "Down in the boondocks, Jesus loves me; Down in the boondocks, Jesus loves me". Camp experience, re-entry, life as it happens: He remains.....

  6. Rach GA Camp?? That's what this one is. That is so good that your Katie enjoyed herself so much at camp.

    Jim That's a very funny mix of songs from your young half-brother!

  7. Annie -- your photos and writing always leave me a bit, well, speechless. What can I say but thank you, and that I'll read this one over again and pass it on to others. Beautiful! :-)

  8. As I looked at the blurred images, I thought, "how so much like life that is.....blurry" and how we get tired, and how we manage to get our second wind, and maybe even finish with that smile. There is a lot of grown-up life in these photos. I went to Christian girls camp growing up, and they were the best times of my young life too. Many wonderful memories. Many........

  9. Linda Thank you. I am glad you have enjoyed it. I'm also glad to see you posting again!

    Ayekah There is a lot of grown-up life in these photos...some of us have such trouble deciding where we are supposed to be on the stage of life, don't we?? I have fond memories of camp too.


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