How To Live When You’re So Well Loved- Castaway 2015 in review

When you slow down enough to pay attention to people in your path…

And you say YES as often as possible…

With people who cheer for you all around you every day…

You’re living in a earthly experience of what God intends for all of life to be.

IMG_5044IMG_5063Having just returned from Young Life’s Castaway Club where we spent 24 days working, living, laughing, learning, listening, playing, and walking…I feel an overwhelming sense of having been somewhere set apart.

I return with memories in my eyes, ears, heart and head that give me vision moving forward in their remembering back.

At Castaway this year, we stood up for slowing down. IMG_5051

For the first two days of the assignment, we sat as a group of 20 staff people from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, Kansas, and Kentucky and proposed a posture for our positions. We talked about an attitude we would cultivate to season our service. Everyone had input and many ideas found their source in scripture. Gratitude, humility, stick-to-itiveness, and service beyond self, came through as themes.

The speaker, Dave, painted a picture of moving slow enough that we could be interrupted as we went about our jobs. There would be the tension of having to get somewhere on time, with work that was due, and yet the necessity of being available to people in the project’s path. The ultimate example of perfection here: Jesus, in Mark 5:21-40- on pursuit to heal Jairus’ daughter, he slows to stop the suffering of a bleeding and broken woman. For me, it meant stopping at the center sidewalk to talk to a leader about her girl who wasn’t opening up, and then hustling to make it to the meeting downstairs in the Windjammer. Sure I could stop to listen, and then I could run with my backpack bumping to catch back up!

To move on mission, with space for interruption, exposed my natural tendency toward tasks and my usual bent towards double tasking that takes me out of listening. At Castaway this year, I learned to literally walk in step with the Spirit, listening to the person right in front of me, hearing them, and responding as I was led and able. Every time I slowed or stopped, it felt like a muscle was being pulled and stretched- by the end of the month, indeed I was more limber, able to flex and bend.



Oaks getting to sail with Kristian and Maelie- Oak’s little girl friend who held her own. He respected such a strong woman.

I try to be a “Yes-saying” Mom. Limiting and saving my “No’s” for when I really need them to keep my kids safe or help make them strong, smart, or spiritual. I think saying “Yes” opens up opportunities and gives space for DISCOVERY (“Sure go down to the dock with a fishing pole.“), RISK (“Yes you can climb up the cliff”.), JOY (“Okay, you can buy something from the vending machine.“), and  FULL ACCESS (“Yes, go for it! Climb the climbing wall again!“)

My kids hear me say NO when necessary and unfortuantely a few extra unneccessary “Nos” as well.

At Castaway, for the property staff and us as assigned team members, we wanted to say YES as often as possible to give campers full access to what Castaway has to offer, and YES to their sense of adventure, spirit, energy, joy, and discovery.

My favorite example of this coming true came over my radio one day.

“Sail beach to Kelsi”

“Come in Sail Beach”

“The campers want to take the sail boats out and there just isn’t very much wind. Do we let them?”

“Yes, sure. If they think it will be fun, let them go. Give them a paddle and send them off.”

I saw Kelsi right after hearing that conversation and affirmed her YES saying! She was opening up all that was being offered, letting kids have control and ideas and ultimately telling them once again, “This is here for you. Enjoy. Feel loved, feel celebrated, and know you have full access to a life full of adventure, joy and discovery.”

At Castaway this year, we were surrounded by support that allowed us to be our truest selves. 

To the last point, indeed Castaway captures a bit of heaven on earth. The intent is to present the gospel of God’s great love and good news to high school kids in an environment made for them, with excellence and intentionality, and care and love.

My family benefits from being in the environment of a whole community on mission to serve outside themselves to show big love. Each of my kids had advocates, fans, and friends that blessed them.IMG_5087

Andi was carried around and cheered on by Sean, Intern in charge of guest services and zip/climb. He remembered her from being on my summer staff in 2011 and was impressed by her tenacity to climb and her conversations with campers and his team. With such encouragement and support, Andi scaled the rock wall, explored Castaway with confident independence, and danced The Whip on stage at the end of every opera having packed and created her own costume. Those black boots! Dana our nanny took a whole afternoon to spend time with her and they doubled up on zip line rides!

Andi helps throw frisbees

Andi helps throw frisbees

IMG_5040Oaks was extravagantly loved and worthy of it. He was incredibly lovable all month. Oaks was friendly and smiley, talkative and tolerant of constant attention. He tried hard to learn names and remembered so many. With the summer staff and work crew, he was silly and sweet. With the kids in the Ketch and Dory, he was energetic and engaged…wanting to play all day. Simply sand filled his afternoons at the beach, with ice cream snacks on the way up to 4 hour naps…bedtime moved to 10:30pm. Oakley loved playing “sliberee” (that’s Frisbee) and walking all by himself. He loved Dana and couldn’t wait for Daddy to come. He woke up with snuggles and threw fits so much less often than at home- mostly at meals that were loud and crowded. He was loved and lived to love back.


Eli’s birthday shake! Happy 9 years old E!

Eli surprised me week one by spending so much time at the bead cart, crafting necklaces and bracelets. He was friendly with the summer staff who worked there and less interested in zip lining this year. A bit slower and deliberate in smaller things. He moved from beads to spike ball and octoball too. Eli learned from campers how to play and then taught others who came later in the weeks- thus winning the hearts of Olathe High School girls.

Eli's spike ball friends.

Eli’s spike ball friends.


Climbing the cliff…YES you can!

He was independent and kind. One leader said, “Your son bumped into me in the doorway and stopped, turned around, and said, ‘I’m sorry I bumped you. That was my  fault.'” He showed maturity in taking on a part of the Opera that meant he had to learn lines, lip sync, and dance on stage! He performed for 3 weeks with humility and hard work. He was celebrated nicely by new friends and had great guys his age as buddies.

All three of my kids were at their best. Overcoming obstacles that usually trip them up, accepting the love and encouragement offered to them, and sensing the freedom, community, and adventure all around them, they were more capable of kindness and tenacity than in our normal life. I was overwhelmed with the love others gave to my kids. I learned a lot from other moms and was grateful for the chance to live with such great families, couples, and individuals.

There is no other time or place where the five of us can feel so loved, accepted and needed on mission.

The beauty of the property, the capable, personal and self-sacrifical interns, the fun families, and the shared mission of people spread all over the country, living next door to each other for three weeks, touched and changed us.

We hope we left little hand prints to help the people we met and served as well.

When you live in love, you are living as you should be, and find yourself free to be all of who you really are!

Thank you Castaway. Thank you.






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