On Control (And How God Often Works On Chaperones More Than Youths at Youth Camp.)

Sometimes I feel led to open the doors of my blog to friends – those who don’t have blogs of their own, but still have something God has laid on their hearts. Today is such a day. My friend Renee Renner chaperoned Fuge, a Christian camp for youths who’ve completed 6th grade through college, held at Mississippi College this summer. Here are her thoughts from that week:

On what God did for the kids who attend FUGE camp:

20428537_10154955923773163_1107720177_nWe spent a lot of time at Fuge focusing on what God was doing in the lives of our students and getting them to share this with each other and the group. Much of the way God moves in their lives is related to what is being taught there…which is always a great reminder to know who is speaking into the lives of your kids. Cause it is life changing. Thankfully, Fuge is a safe place where leaders not only teach the Bible, but how to apply it to our lives. Our students left there changed…closer to Jesus than when they arrived which is totally the goal in the first place.

{{Renee’s church was in the news not too long ago, due to a bus accident that lost the life of one of their youth when the bus overturned on the way to the Atlanta airport, where they were headed to a mission trip to Africa. The church has still not healed as prayers to this day go out for Sarah’s family, other church members’ injuries, and even the bus driver.}}

Extra lessons on trust were gained by so many as we got on a bus in faith. Simply getting on the bus was Jesus overcoming fear in the lives of many of our kids and parents. When *normal* disappeared a few weeks ago with the bus wreck, many of our church family were faced with the huge task of facing fear with faith to live daily again. Letting their children get on a bus and drive away was no longer routine. We are all reminded how much we need Jesus for the little things in life as well as the big.

On what God does to the chaperones who accompany kids to camp, and how He uses that time to refine US:

As an adult leader for Fuge, God worked in me in many ways beyond just what was being taught. You probably expect some students to be a little homesick, but I have to admit that I am always homesick the first day. God works on me in trips like Fuge about control. I like to be in control. Not having my own car to drive, not having my own schedule, not having my own bed, not being able to see my family…those are all areas that I struggle with controlling when home. I never realize how much control gives me comfort until I have none. Having to adjust to being totally out of control (which I normally am OK on day 2) was one thing, but then we added another kid at home needing me. My Nate ended up with an infection under his fingernail that required the doctor to drill a hole in his fingernail on Wednesday. And I was stuck in Jackson. Usually at some point once I’ve broken away from home and accepted I’m out of control at camp, I remember what it is like to be independent again and like it a little. However, being a mom, it’s crazy hard to let go of that need to control what’s going on in my kids’ world and let others handle it. I had an obsessive need to snuggle my boy who was hurt, and I knew my son at camp would be less than enthused if I tried to snuggle him. {grin} I did borrow our youth minister’s baby girl (6 months old) and snuggled her up tight and let her nap which did my momma heart so much good.

I used to love retreats in college and getting that set apart time with God. I didn’t get much of that as the boys were little because it was too hard to be away. I had no coverage to go away for a week, so I’m so thankful I’ve had that opportunity these last 2 years. I’m thankful for our youth pastors who give great encouragement to us as leaders to take the opportunity even though they know it is crazy hard for us to get away. I’m thankful they encourage us on the hard days when we are feeling the sacrifice of leaving our families to be a student leader. I’m thankful they remind us that God is using us for eternal purposes. I’m also thankful for my family and best friend who help me be able to go even though it means they are all displaced. I have seen how God works in everyone I’m depending on to “be me” for the week and how He uses that time to bless and grow them. As hard as it was for me to be away from Nate as he was hurting, he bonded with Eric in a new way. He has always been stuck to me as the baby, and God gave them the gift of growing closer this week too.

The other thing our youth pastors are great at is reminding everyone there to be fully present where we are so that God can work in us. That is probably THE hardest part of being a student leader for me. I WANT to be fully there. It just feels wrong to move my family down my priority list. However, God reassures me that investing in the lives of the students and being fully engaged in His presence is not robbing my family. It puts me in a better place to minister to my family when I return home. Spiritually refreshed, grown to new depths in Christ, and relationships built with others makes me a better wife and mom. The only thing I would change would be to add a mandatory opportunity to sleep once home before I jump back in to being mom because Fuge at 40 is different than it was at 23. I’m still dragging. lol

At one point in the week, I was taken off guard when JJ, our Jr High Youth Minister asked me how I was. I gave my standard camp answer, “Tired, but it’s all good.” He was like, “No, like, how is Renee? Overall?” Stopped me in my tracks. There aren’t many people anymore who ask you how you are and really want to know. I had that when I was in an adult SS class more so than I do now. It reminded me that life has been so busy that I’ve barely even seen the mentors in my life lately. We’ve tried, but it hasn’t worked out. So, it had been awhile since I had faced that question. I spent the rest of the week reflecting on it. How am I? Do *I* even know? I spend so much of my time taking care of other people willingly because it gives me great joy. But honestly? This year has been HARD. For so many reasons. It’s been wonderful too for many reasons. But SO VERY HARD. So much “adulting.”

Overall, I think I’m doing better than I have been in a long time because the boys are getting easier as they get older. But I’m getting older too. And facing new things that found me that stretch my faith. On Thursday night, better know as “cry night” at camp, we had this one board that we were to write the names of the people that lead us closer to Jesus. As I wrote my list, I processed for the first time that one of my dear friends who has been speaking Truth into my life for the last 4 years just moved away. Maybe I’m not fine. Maybe I’m pretty sad about that. Maybe I know the reality that we are friends in the Lord forever, but there is nothing like sharing with a friend who is right there beside you as you struggle. She was my school mom friend. She was my confidant who was in the world of my boys’ school who was in it too and understood the struggles and trials we were facing. We will keep being good friends, but it will change. Our experiences won’t be shared anymore. That changes things. Control, change…those are some of my big issues. Satan knows it. He loves to shoot his fiery darts at me threatening my control and stirring the pot of change. God has been teaching me so long how to yield control to Him and embrace the new things He is doing. I’m more willing to go to these stretches of my faith with Him, but I honestly still don’t like it. I would rather grow closer to Jesus in comfort. That’s not really how it works though unfortunately. It takes being uncomfortable to notice what needs improvement. And that prayer for patience I prayed in college at 18 is still being answered. Thanks for that God. I think. 😉 (I’ve not figured out how to blog humor yet)

Anyway, I think sometimes people think that serving the Lord by being a student leader or a Sunday school teacher, etc requires more knowledge or experience than they think they have. I will tell you that God gives you what you need to pour into others as you read His Word and pray. AND He keeps working on you in the process. I saw a quote this week on Tony Evans’ wall that said, “you are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.” I think his daughter Chrystal said it. I liked that. He’s still working on me.

BTW, the Monday after returning from camp was incredibly frustrating on SO MANY LEVELS. My schedule constantly changed ALL DAY LONG. I had zero control over anything, and I felt so grumpy. I tried REALLY hard though to push through that frustration and find the good. Fiery darts everywhere. Continuing today too. We’ve been trying to close on a house in TN since February 28, and here it is five months later. We’ve had three closing appointments in the last two weeks, and we can’t get it finished. Talk about feeling out of control and dealing with change. Selling my grandfather’s house where I spent so much time growing up is incredibly emotional. I’ve been dealing with letting it go for months. I’m so ready to have this over. For whatever reason though, it is dragging out, leaving God plenty of room to keep working on me and teaching me to let His timing be a joy to me, as I accept the changes He wants to make in me. Good thing He’s all powerful. I’m a lumpy piece of clay.

Anyway, it was such a joy and great experience being with the students at Fuge last week. It’s exciting to see God working, and I pray the students will continue to allow Him to work in them and their families in the days to come.


Renee is a mom of three, and friend to many. I met her at and served with her in church years ago, served with her at Team Hope, a homeless ministry in Huntsville, and she has lifted my head many a time. She’s the source of the Money Matters posts on here, ’cause heaven knows those posts wouldn’t be coming from me. She is that true friend that sticks closer than a brother. Or in her case, a sister. 😉



  1. says

    Oh, Renee. I think you should start your own blog. Your thoughts and writing is amazing. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Happy weekend to you.

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