2016 Highlights & Updates
Michael said goodbye to 16 years at West Coast Imaging, and accepted a job as Director of Operations at “The Home of the World’s Greatest Campers,” Emerald Cove/Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp.
Our house sold without ever going on the market, and we moved to camp in May.
On June 1st, Josie graduated from 8th grade and homeschool. Josie’s graduation marked the end of 13 years of homeschooling for me. During the ceremony Michael said, “This probably isn’t a good time to mention this, but starting tomorrow you’ll be unemployed.” I mighta socked him in the arm, then asked for severance pay.
Noah graduated from Minarets High School the next day… #timeisabigfatstupidmeanieheadjerk.
In early June, I had the great privilege of teaching God’s word at a retreat in the quaint town of Mi-Wuk Village for the women of Oakdale Family Church of the Nazarene. Because I attended the church as a teen I treasured that time of being with many of the women who had poured into me 24 years ago.
June also kicked off summer camp at YSSC! From June-August, we were all caught up in the excitement and sweetness of serving alongside 75 amazing YSSC staff to love on the 130 campers who gathered up on this mountain each session.
By the way, if you see us during the summer months we will not answer to our given names, but by our camp names- Apex, Shasta, Wrangler, Chickadee, and Hobart.
For her senior year of high school, Emilie transferred to Michael’s alma matter, Yosemite High School, where Josie is also attending as a freshman. Both girls love YHS! Emilie plans to become a Physical Therapy Assistant, and is benefiting from the ROP Sports Medicine program. The girls especially enjoy being part of the Associated Student Body, which allows my spirited and people-loving/serving daughters the opportunity to organize and lead school activities.
Noah has taken a gap year from school, and moved to coastal San Luis Obispo. He’s enjoying independence, while living with Michael’s sister’s family and working for their company, One Source. Once in a while he responds to our texts with one or two words which reassures us he is still alive.
Early September camp transitions from its summer program to a college campus, and hosts approximately 45 Azusa Pacific University students and staff, who participate in APU’s study abroad program, “High Sierra.” This program allows students to both take classes and have grand adventures in the beautiful Sierra Nevadas.
To say Michael is thriving in his new position is an understatement. He was made for this! After years of working indoors, primarily at a computer, he is thrilled to be working with his hands again. My Jack-of-all-trades fella is doing construction, electrical and mechanical work, felling trees then milling the wood, and on occasion he even gets to drive a snow plow! And though he’s great at all this, where he really shines is how he leads and mentors his 5 year round staff- Ducky, Sprinkles, Gator, Rascal, and B.K. (pictured bottom right). These 5 have become incredibly dear to both of us; like our own children! They even call us Mom & Dad.
On September 21st, Michael and I celebrated twenty years of marriage! Over the summer we received the highest compliment, when a YSSC staff gal said, “Watching your marriage makes people know Jesus.” We really hope so. We opted to forgo an anniversary trip, and gifted ourselves a used tent trailer. We’ve already been on a couple of outings. One took us to breathtaking Mammoth Mountain, and the other to Morro Bay.
I’m adjusting to life as a stay at home mom without stay at home kids. When I’m not taxiing the girls, I work for our small business creating ID cards for online homeschools. I also volunteer in a 1st grade class once a week, and am currently training to become a volunteer at a pregnancy care center. I’ve had the pleasure of leading two girls’ Bible studies, of sipping coffee and swapping heart stories with many ladies young and old, and have hosted more gatherings in our home in the last 9 months than we have in the last 20 years combined.
One awe-inspiring part of the story of our move to camp is that for years when we’d drive our kids to camp we’d play, sing, and pray Phillip Phillip’s song “Home.” -Hold on to me as we go, as we roll down this unfamiliar road, and although this wave is stringing us along, just know you’re not alone, I’m gonna make this place your home.” Both Michael and I came to know Jesus intimately and powerfully at camps. Because of that we’d pray that during their times at camp, our kids would see Jesus well, and glimpse our home yet to come in Him. So imagine our TOTAL SURPRISE when Michael was offered a job which required we move to camp! For years we’d been praying God would make this place home, but had zero idea He had taken our prayer LITERALLY!!
As we live at camp, in community, God continues to impress upon us that “Home is not primarily a place- it’s a people.” Home is relationship. Author Tim Keller said, “There is a deep oneness that develops as we journey together toward the same destination, helping one another through the dangers and challenges along the way.” We need people in our lives with whom we feel at home, and to encourage us on to our true Home. So my prayer for you this new year is that the LORD our God would both make you a person and provide you with people to come alongside for the journey.
Live in Peace,
Denise "Shasta" Jones