What’s that – do I have a favorite child?  Well sure! Depending on the day, deed or just because, I convince each one of my four children, in a cross-your-heart-don’t-tell-the others sort of way, that he or she is forever my favorite.

Short lived and worth the moment as little pitchers have big ears, so the titular proverbial 16th Century saying goes.  I read it first in a Little House on the Prairie book.  I know what the saying means, I had to look up “titular”.  I have exercised the phrase although it always seems to be met with this odd look of confusion and then stepped over like an awkward spill on the carpet.  You’ve heard it, right? At any rate, whenever I declare my current favorite there are big ears with a matching mouth that invariably huffs in a most pathetic, yet knowing and totally fun-loving puppy-dog whine, “Mommy, I thought I was your favorite?”  And they’re right. They are.  All four of them.

That said, a previous writing included a story about our twelve-year-old son, Johnny.  This story is about him as well but it doesn’t make him my favorite, in case you were keeping score.  And certainly not my favorite in this hour. The crash of glass shattering onto the tile floor downstairs is a little situation involving him, his younger brother, a pillow, and a lamp.  

Among all things favorite in our family, Family Camp; a marriage of Teen Camp and Camp-meeting, if you’re even familiar with the two.  Generally, we sing in the morning and evening services and our children participate in the daily activities tailored to their age-the best of both worlds.  Time with friends and family alike. And bonus, because everyone sleeps in campers or cabins with their families, it blots out the icky pepper-steak and onion smell of the dank dorms and all-day-dirty body aroma…eek!  (Johnny said it!)

Our summers are triple and quadruple stacked with Family Camps yet not one has been parent-free.  One of our favorite camps is found in Missouri. Pinecrest Campgrounds on the Missouri Nazarene District.  This year, we happened to have the week of their Teen Camp free, wedged right in between OK and VA. Two churches on the MO district, Wright City and Ferguson, gifted our children with scholarships to attend.  They were excited. The best part, choosing their own soap and toothbrush holders and those adorable miniature shampoos and toothpaste. Finally, no more poor man’s zip-lock baggies for sundries. We have arrived!

We drove eight hours from our Sunday morning concert, on the outskirts of Kentucky, straight there.  Fifteen miles per hour speed limit along the newly blacktopped road into the camp felt like the next moon.  David perfectly paralleled our forty-five-foot ark between two trees in the RV section and we shoved the older three children with three suitcases and one shoe bag out the front door.  (Not really!) They were cautiously excited for this childhood first and ready to roll. Five days. Parent-free. And for a homeschooled kid…well, you can imagine the moment.

One rainy afternoon, three days in, the heavy bus door lumbered open and Johnny stepped on board.  Plopping himself down like a rag doll on the seat in front of me, he begins sharing highlights of the week.  After listening for a few minutes, I started in. I couldn’t help myself. Like a pre-programmed mother robot.  “Are you remembering to brush your teeth and wash your face? Showering every night before service…? Johnny, in a minor half dismissed tone, “Yes.”  Me, “Are you using deodorant and putting on clean clothes every day?” Again, with a personal disdain and don’t-you-trust-me tone, “Yes Mommy. Everything! I’m doing fine!”

One breath in, then out it came.

“Well honey, when you’re in my presence, I can’t help but take care of you.”

The words strung themselves together like pearls on a fine, fancy necklace.  

The son, the daughter, the broken, the run-a-away, the filthy, the hungry, the worn.

Hear God say…”When you’re in my presence, I can’t help but take care of you.”

You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  –Psalm 16:11 NKJV

In His presence, we find assurance and peace.  Rest and restoration. Contentment and joy.

His presence is priceless.

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