Twenty years! I have attended CBLI for twenty years now. I went three years in a row during my teen years. Then, when Bryce was 3 and my husband and I were separated, I began attending again, adding seventeen more consecutive years to the tally.
This year's theme was Thrive! We are to do more than just survive. God wants us to thrive.
We had a wonderful room assignment. Despite the sizable hill up to Sandpiper, the rooms are comfortable and, this time around, even afforded Wi-fi connections. Sadly, the boys spent a portion of almost every free time on their devices. They seemed bored with the usual fare of free-time activities (go figure).
Sean was so funny. All throughout this year's encampment, he bemoaned the fact that he wanted to go home because he was homesick. Then, on the last day, he chimed in with, "I think this was our best year ever!" He certainly doesn't realize he is having fun while he is having fun. Many afternoons, they whined on and on about being bored. But, in the final analysis, they were surprised how quickly the days flew by and how much they enjoyed it.
I think my favorite part of our CBLI time this year was attending the Bible class on covenant, taught by Linda Himes. Her passion for God's word is evident and contagious. I appreciated that it was a thematic study, instead of a chapter-by-chapter study through one of the books of the Bible this time around (her usual fare). She brought in an adorable stuffed sheep to illustrate the sacrifice made to represent a blood covenant, tearing the sheep in two and walking between the two parts just as Abraham did. It was very sobering to think about the seriousness of covenant and our responsibilities to our covenant vows. She also provided an illustration for how our own failure to live up to covenant reflects badly on Christ more than simply reflecting badly on ourselves. She wore a dark jacket and then exchanged it for a white jacket and talked about getting the jacket dirty and what that does to the name of Christ in the eyes of unbelievers.
I also enjoyed my workshop class, a class where we worked through Donald Miller's book, Storyline: Finding Your Subplot in God's Story. It was refreshing to have a class so up my alley as we thought about our lives and testimonies in terms of good story. We reflected on what makes a good story and talked about how our negative and positive turns in life all serve a purpose to portray a theme God is telling through our individual stories. We were reminded that conflict serves a purpose and changes us in significant ways.
Our special guest was Chick Yuill, an officer with a Scottish lilt, who taught with amazing clarity and insight. I wish I had taken notes. His wife blessed us with several recitations of memorized Scripture passages. I didn't get a chance to speak with them personally, but really appreciated their words and encouragement.
Again, this year, I was blessed by the corporate worship. I rarely get a chance to sing in large groups otherwise. I so enjoy blending in with a harmony part and hearing the voices swell together in praise. It really blesses me to the core.
Of course, one of the highlights of the week was the highly anticipated concert presented by the Christian group, For King and Country. My worries about seating dissolved when I learned that they would seat campers with a wristband prior to allowing visiting guests in for the concert. I managed to snag a seat by the back (my intention because of the anticipated volume levels) with my friends the Westbergs and the Barkers. They even parcelled out front row tickets in exchange for a donation for the Mali missions project.
It was an amazing show full of spectacular lighting and outstanding musicianship. I heard that all seven band members play percussion instruments, so Bryce would have really enjoyed their performance.
I had two favorite moments during the concert. The first was their performance of the song "Shoulders." The second involved the lead singer coming down into the audience. He walked along rows high-fiving and shaking hands with people. But the sweetest moment of all came when he approached Alynn (a girl who has been in the Jr. CBLI track since back in the day, when Bryce was in that track - she is in her twenties, but because of her mental disabilities, she has continued to enjoy the kids' track). He hugged her and allowed her to sing along with him for a few measures. Thankfully, a camp photographer captured the moment:
Trevor noticed that one of his friends had purchased a penny necklace from the stand outside the concert, so he begged for one, too. It is really quite a cool thing. The back tells the reasoning behind their promotion of the necklace. It reads: "On each necklace hangs an Australian one cent coin. This penny signifies that a woman is worth more than all the money in the world! It also stands as a reminder to men that ladies are priceless and deserve to be treated with respect and honor."
We were so blessed to have the opportunity to attend CBLI again this year. It is always such a great time of spiritual growth and renewal. All three of us benefit from it greatly. In my Part II post, I will highlight some of the recreational activities we enjoyed and friends we encountered.