Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you. Luke 8:39 (NKJV)
Twenty years ago on this very day, God called us to the mountains of south-central Montana. My husband and I had been married ten years, bringing with us our nine-year-old daughter Kallie, our six-year-old son Jacob, and our brand new one-month-old baby Kevin.
We drove our U-haul truck up the winding, bumpy Boulder Road to a piece of heaven called Camp on the Boulder. There, my husband was to be the new camp manager. It took two hours to get from the nearest town of Big Timber to the camp with that U-haul, so I assumed it really was a two-hour drive (though later, in emergency-room runs, I could fly down it in 38 minutes!).
We drove into the camp and to the cabin designated for us, moving ahead as directed by board members. Yet no one saw the power lines and the height of the U-haul. So the very first thing we did was knock out power to our tiny new home.
Volunteers helped unload the truck full of boxes and furniture from our home in Iowa. Unfortunately, this little mountain cabin did not have the room of our previous spacious house, so boxes were piled to the ceiling. I sat on our sofa, trying to nurse my baby, freezing because the power was out, noticing mice running under the doors.
All the glamour of living in a log cabin in the mountains completely left me. I burst into tears and wanted to go home. I wanted to load that U-haul back up before my husband could return it to town. I wanted to go back to familiar Iowa.
The closest telephone was next door in the Ranch House, the original cabin from the Hell’s Canyon Dude Ranch that precluded the camp. This was another scary, unfamiliar building with its dark interior, dust, and almost a century of memories. But at least it had heat for my baby and me.
I called my daddy back in Iowa on that phone. We had just spent the previous month with my parents while between jobs and already I missed them. I cried to my daddy, “I want to come home.” And guess what my daddy said…
“No,” was his reply. “I’m sorry, Jenny, I can’t let you do that.”
And so I cried buckets of tears and resolved that I would be stuck there forever: Be there with the mice running under the doors, be there with the power going out regularly, be there with all the ups and downs of church camp ministry. And we served Jesus there for almost 12 years before God called us to town, and I cried again because I didn’t want to leave.
Today, we are still in Montana, and very often I proudly sing, “My home’s in Montana, I wear a bandana…” so glad to be where “the deer and the antelope play,” thankful for the Big Sky and open places, where, as one pastor pointed out, we’ve been practicing social distancing since 1889.
In 20 years, God has sent so many blessings, that I can’t number them all, but let me try to list a few…
God provided a new home for us. We only had to stay in that old log cabin four summers and then a lovely year-round home was built for us by volunteers at the camp, one that was tight with no mice!
God rescued us from forest fires. I used to know how many times we evacuated because of forest fires, but the number escapes me now. It was so many that our kids were experts at loading the car with prized pets and possessions. And each time, God kept us and our camp safe.
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment. Psalm 66:12 (NKJV)
God sent so many wonderful volunteers and camp ministry team members and Nomads over the years with whom we still keep in touch. What a blessing to know such dear people.
God fulfilled all our prayers for the camp. The ministry that broke our hearts, and often broke our backs, is now owned by the one of the biggest churches in Billings, Montana. God is answering all the prayers we had for it so long ago. It’s a delight to see God using this piece of heaven for His glory.
In 2011, we moved to town where Jesus provided again a beautiful place to live, wonderful people to work for, church family, praying friends, and Awana and youth group leaders for our kids. And everyday we wake up to the breathtaking view of the Crazy Mountains, the Beartooths and the Absarokas. Thank you, dearest Jesus.
God watched over our children… with God’s help, we homeschooled, bringing them up to love and know Jesus. Our daughter Kallie earned her bachelors and masters degrees and is now married and the mom of our two dear grandchildren. Our son Jacob also earned his college degree and is now an engineer in California, engaged to be married this summer. Our little baby Kevin we brought to the mountains is now 6′ 4″ (6’6″ during the corona-haircut-crisis) and busy with college classwork and his Campus Crusade for Christ group.
Along the way, after sending three babies to heaven, God heard our prayers and blessed us with our little Joel who is now 8-1/2 years old. Joel is keeping this old homeschool mom busy learning about oceans. Thank you, Lord, for our children!God has allowed me to continue in ministry, writing two books with more on the way (My TEA CUPP Prayers and Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers). God has been so good to us these 20 years. Thank you, dear Father in heaven!
God is ALWAYS so faithful…providing for all our needs, comforting us in every sorrow, protecting us from evil, healing our bodies, and growing our faith in Him. Now, with our granddaughter’s cancer, we trust Him to be faithful again. He provided a camper and we were able to visit her for almost a month and saw her improving day by day. And so many are praying for little Kennedy…God bless you all!
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9 (NKJV)
Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear Friend, you have a story, too! I encourage you to write it down. Record how God has been faithful through all your ups and downs. Put it in an album with photos for your kids and grandkids to read. Point your family to Jesus. Keep telling the story of God’s great love!
Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered. Psalm 40:5 (NKJV)
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name. Luke 1:49 (NKJV)
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad. Psalm 126:3 (NKJV)
Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.