To Read on the Journey

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nothing Is Worth More Than This Day

On June 19th, 1988, I was saved from defeat, lies, darkness, hopelessness, abandonment, loneliness, despair, death. I came to life.
A friend invited me to Hume Lake Christian Camp, but because my mother was a semi-single mother who worked as a waitress, camp wasn't financially possible (I mean we got the free cheese- those of you who got free cheese know what I'm talking about). However, one week before camp, the same friend who had invited me, called to say a girl had canceled, her spot was paid in full, and the church wanted me to go in her place.

I can't say I wanted to go to a Christian camp. If there was a God, I had a question for Him, "why did you give me this life, I didn't do anything to deserve it?"

From birth my dad had rejected me, and over the years has made it clear that I am not his daughter (My dad was a drug user for 27 years, until he was arrested in 1998, and found to be mentally ill. Paranoid Schizophrenic, he now lives in a state hospital). 

 A weekend visit to my grandparents at the age of 3, turned into a 3 year stay, as my mother decided she couldn't care for my younger sister and I. After returning to my mothers at the age of 6, she continued to "look for love in all the wrong places," married, divorced, engaged, separated, married, divorced, engaged, separated, married, divorced, married. I've had 7 dads. No one stayed. No one loved me and stayed. No one gave up their life for me and stayed. No one said I was enough, beautiful, lovable, wanted... everything they did said I was anything but these things.
So I went to camp...desperately wanting a week break, and relief from the life I knew.

Camp was amazing! Games and activities, being part of a team, 3 meals a day, singing, beautiful mountains, people pouring into me... It felt that I had really breathed and lived for the first time in my then 14 years of life.

That week the speaker , Steve Russo, spoke about how "God is a father who will never leave you or forsake you." He continued sharing "that nothing can separate us from the love of God." (tears- It still gets me). I needed that. 

So, I took my first steps to my Father, while singing, "Oh Lord, take my life as an offering, let it be molded by your own hands, fill me with your Spirit and your grace to quench a thirsty land, thank you for always being near even after I've done you wrong, Father please use my frail life now for when I am weak I am strong." (song by Joel Weldon).  

And God breathed new life into me, and He called me daughter, and He promised to love me, and never go. 

22 years later I can say that "His love is better than life (Psalm 63:3-4) ."

And I have one question for God, "Why did you give me this life, I did nothing to deserve it."

Thank You! To all of you who serve in the camping ministries, every part of what you do is important. Thank you to those of you who pay for kids to go to camp, and for those who pay for kids who can't pay for themselves. Your saving lives.
Check out some of the fabulous camps in our back yard-
Calvin Crest
Summit Adventure
*Camp Oakhurst
*Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp
Sugar Pine

* camps my husband and I have worked at


Steve SL8 said...

Wow, Deniseadosiojonesawatchamacallit! What an awesome testimony! This WILL be sent around to several people that are involved in camping because this is an awesome encouragement! YOU are why these people do what they do, and your life stands out as a shining example of the value of places like Hume Lake... and the hundreds of other Christian Camps around the world... Thanks for sharing your life and light, and, may we quote you??? Hope so! Steve

Denise said...

"Pastor Steve Sl8" I took my first steps at Hume, but with you as my Youth Pastor and friend I learned to "run with perseverance the race marked out for me." I even recall "flying on wings like eagles."
That is why I was so "bubbly!"

lindsey said...

happy birthday!!!!

Family Jules said...

That was had me a "19 years ago"!

nicole said...

WOW !! Happy Birthday, Denise !! God really used the people at camp to reach you !!

Shannon Byrne said...

Good afternoon Denise. My name is Shannon Byrne and I work at Hume Lake Christian Camps. Your blog was so encouraging to me as an employee of a Christian camp. Thank you for your encouragement. We would like your permission to use your story. Please contact me at or 559.335.2000 X 304.

Thank you so much.

Ih8bnl8 said...

Denise, This an amazing story. While I was reading this I just balled like a baby. You are truly an amazing woman. I love reading your blogs.

Christy Rose Freeman

Lynn said...

Okay, this is my last comment so you don't think I'm completely nuts!

What an AMAZING testimony! I am SO encouraged..our God is SO great!

"Why did you give me this life, I did nothing to deserve it." ....gasp! You just spoke right to my heart. Very well written. Thank you for sharing.

doulos said...

It is amazing what God does to keep us. Thanks for the story.