One Year in Oxford and Pine Cove Family Camp

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Hey friends!  I sure have missed being here regularly this past year!  Hope you all have enjoyed your summer…can you believe school supplies are on the feature aisles at Wal-Mart?  Where did the weeks go? Hopefully, you have found some time to let your soul rest with the slower pace. We just returned from our favorite vacation, Pine Cove Family Camp, which could not have come at a better time for our family.  This month marks one year since we uprooted our kids and moved to Mississippi.  Not the easiest year, so we were counting the days til the start of camp this summer!

If you are not familiar with “family camp,” it’s basically just what it sounds like! Summer camp for the whole family. But do not be fooled if your first thoughts are to click away because you hated camp as a child or wonder if there is AC! Pine Cove Family Camp is the ultimate vacation for moms. I am convinced the Lord, in His tender mercy towards mothers, created Pine Cove.  Servant leaders, aka counselors, are there loving on families, meeting needs, and fulfilling requests before you even know you have a need or request! They unload all your luggage, cut your kids’ meat at the table, hold them if they as much as make a peep, refuse to let you pour your own coffee, and demand that you get up and walk away from every meal without lifting a finger! They also spend countless hours with our children, loving on them, pouring into them, and being sweet examples of Christ to them. Priceless. If you’d like to read a past post about what else Pine Cove offers, click HERE. Not to mention, all three of our kids swear it’s better than Disney.  And I sorta don’t love Disney, so this is good news for me.

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Last 3 photos: Pine Cove Photographer

Ten summers ago, when we first pulled onto the property of Pine Cove Woods, I was a much younger wife and mother of only two very little people, tired but not overly worried about much other than nap schedules and disciplining kids who hadn’t started school yet. Both challenging, mind you, but life’s a bit more complex now, putting it mildly. This year, as we pulled onto the property at Pine Cove, I was excited to be there, as we have dear friends who come the same week every year, I knew my kids would be well cared for, and I would NOT think about, shop for, cook, or clean up 17 meals! But also this year as we pulled in, there was a secret place in my heart brimming with worry, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and fear.

Just a few short months ago, I found myself in a pretty low place. In typical Southern fashion, I had learned the art of hiding the hurt places, not asking for help, and just hanging on til whatever it was went away, got better, or more likely, got covered up with another fine layer of distraction.

Our move last August from Arkansas to Mississippi was extremely difficult on so many levels. Watching my children grieve when the move was still fresh…I’m talking all-out wailing a few times, making me seriously consider getting in my car and driving back to Arkansas at 10 pm on a Tuesday. Living in a bare rental house and moving twice in six months. Transitioning from a smaller Christian school to a huge public school setting…scary to say the least, but it’s been such a great experience. Sending my youngest baby to kindergarten after having a small person at home for 13 straight years…I was unprepared for the sudden, very real grief. Parenting a teenage girl from my heart that was running on fumes…not recommended. Visiting and searching for a church home…if you’ve done it, you know it is low on the fun list. Feeling disconnected from David as he struggled to understand my feelings…not much changes for husbands during a move. They just go to work, whereas moms are the primary cultivators of networks with neighbors, new friends, doctors offices, and schools, among a thousand other connections necessary for running a family!)  More than a few times this past fall, I came home to our impersonal, rented kitchen and wept.

Life for me this past year was a constant paradox…internal conflict hovered as I experienced all of the above mentioned scenarios, yet many days I felt filled up, energized, cared-for.  Go figure. Nevertheless, we were in the middle of several of “Life’s Most Stressful Events” list simultaneously.  As the year went on, so many contributing factors helped and to continue to help me get back to “myself.” Although there are a thousand little things, these are just a few of the biggies…a husband willing to enter into the hard stuff with me (he has the patience of Job and really deserves a medal), a wonderful counselor to help me unpack my junk (I’m convinced we all need therapy haha), exercise (which I loathe but it helps), a handful of friends to be real with, Oxonians who welcome newcomers with dear hospitality, embracing the intrinsic pride of our new community, knowing David is enjoying his work, and time away with my family this summer, namely Pine Cove.

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I so appreciate the authenticity of the families and staff at Pine Cove and the sweet spirit that abides there.  While Pine Cove itself is merely a location on a map, we have seen lives changed, family legacies restored or start brand new, and the world getting put on hold for a glorious week.  Pine Cove is not a magical week where God waves a wand and life is suddenly easy and ordered, but it is a week where we can safely share the stuff of life and hit the “reset button.”  We leave filled up and commissioned to go back home with hope, courage, and Truth. We like to say “the start of our spiritual fiscal year.” I’ll take that any day over Disney;)

As always, I’d love to visit with any of you who are interested in hearing more about Pine Cove!  Praying for us mamas as the start of school and the promise of busy, action-packed weeks awaits us.  May we not lose sight of what’s most important, even in the midst of homework, activities, dinner, baths, and bedtime.

I’d love to hear ideas on how YOU keep your faith, relationships, marriage, family time, and yourself a priority when life is hard or schedules are demanding!  Here’s to August…!!

Linking to: Weekend Bloggy Reading

About Amanda Brown

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Comments

  1. Melanie Keel says:

    Love this and I am so thankful that we get to spend the week of family camp together! So blessed by you and so grateful for our friendship!

  2. I can’t even remember how I found your blog but I’ve been reading for awhile and just wanted to tell you thanks for your honesty in this post. I 100% agree that EVERYONE could use a bit of counseling at some point in their lives.

    I don’t claim to have my act together but exercise is a huge way for me to sort my “stuff” out when I’m feeling off. Friends, coffee, and prayer help a lot too!

    Oh, and by the way, I LOVE Pine Cove.

  3. Hi Amanda! I loved reading your blog. Thanks for opening up your heart to us. I think moving is one of the hardest things in the world to do. Maybe the worst is over. I’m glad to hear that your husband likes his job and that maybe you won’t be moving again soon. As usual, your writing and pictures are just wonderful.