Sunday, August 30, 2009

Camp Love

Sarah and I took an unexpected road trip this weekend. (You remember Sarah, right? She was the one who was hopelessly in unrequited love with Pat, circa 1991.)

Yesterday, our mutual friend, Janet, got hitched.

Sarah has known Janet for most of her life, but I officially met her for the first time at church camp. She was our counselor. We were 15. (It's true - our 15th year was an important one.)

Janet hollered at us a few times that week, because we wouldn't shut our traps and go to sleep already. What can I say? We had only recently met and had 15 years to catch one another up on. Plus, we had our pals Jennifer and Becky in the next bunk over. And please, you cannot house 15 teenaged girls in a cabin for a week and not expect some chatter. That being said, I do believe Sarah and I out talked Jennifer and Becky by at least an hour a night, on average.

While we are on the topic, it feels worth mentioning that we had a fellow cabin-mate named Babe. Promise. So sleep deprived was Janet that she fell asleep one night during Babe's long-winded leg of our cabin-wide prayer time.

Fast forward 3 years, and you'll find us at Bethel College. Janet is the Resident Director of our Freshman dorm. She hollered at us a few more times that year for rebel rousing too late into the night. (I think she felt a little more comfortable unleashing her sleep-deprived angst on us, since we went way back and all.)

And truthfully - she loved us. And we loved her. She was the big sister that I never had and I trusted her, because she trusted us. We shared secrets. She knew about our crushes (at least the top tier) and sometimes, we even knew about hers.

I loved her so much that I opted two years later to serve as one of her Resident Advisors, and Sarah loved her so much that she opted, for no fantastic reason, to live with me for a second time in the Freshman dorm. (Her love for me may have had a little to do with that decision, too.)

My Senior year, she moved out of the Freshman dorm to oversee a street of campus houses. What were we to do but follow?

We ate countless meals with Janet and I even traveled over the ocean with her, once. We belly laughed and sometimes, we cried. We were connected, in part, because we were from the same place. They knew my people and I knew theirs. Home for all of us was, and still is, a podunk area marked by a well-traveled road named Hogpath.

As often happens, we lost touch after college. She remained at BC for several more years, I got married and moved around a little.

Now, 18 years after meeting her at camp, I sat in the same outdoor tabernacle on the same wooden benches and watched her, at the age of 43, marry the person God had made just for her. I don't know him, but I do know her smile and I know a little bit of her heart.

That night, after the wedding, I lay in my childhood bed thinking about how influential she had been in my life; and how she, in part, made me the woman and the wife that I am. She taught me things that I needed to know - things that serve me well.

Mostly, she taught me to not settle for less than God's best for me. And she was a living example of not settling. She waited. I know it was not easy for her to wait sometimes, and I know that other times, she didn't give it a thought.

She just....waited.

Witnessing her in her day of joy was a true and precious gift. Witnessing it in a place that holds so many fun memories, with so many significant people on the benches around me, was icing on the cake.

*(The irony is not lost on me that I attended the wedding and dedicated this post to the wedding, but do not have a picture of the bride. I'm a bit erratic when it comes to taking pictures. You'll have to take my word for it that she looked absolutely smashing.)


  1. When you write well, you paint the picture! : ) What a blessing to have such sweet friends and memories!

    : )

    Julie M.

  2. What a sweet post and a lovely testament to friendship. Sure wish I got to see the bride.

  3. lovely post shan!

    p.s. Those cabins are so stinkin cute! and Sarah looks smashing also.

  4. i meant look not looks ;) sorry about that.

    p.s. my mom and i went to allegan yesterday. i need to go back in september too to purchase a cabinet...i'm just hoping they have one similar to the one i should have bought yesterday.

    p.p.s i had a lemon shake-up for you too. just for you ;)

  5. What a neat post!! You are so blessed to have such lasting friendships. :)

  6. Good for her waiting for Mr. Right. It the most important decision you'll ever make, so it's worth waiting for. Great post!

  7. What a wonderful friendship! They are so precious and few!


  8. Crying over here in WA :) What a lovely post about your sweet friend. I'm so glad that she waited for the perfect fit in her life---God knows who is best for each and every one of us. Isn't it amazing?
    Camp was a time of bonding for so many of us crazy teen girls---Hidden Valley Camp in the Cascade Mountains was home to many a late night talk trying to "figure it all out". How wonderful that you made life-changing friends in your experience.
    Have a great week!!!

  9. Church camp....happy times...good stories! I can remeber mine like it was yesterday. I do hope we can find that ribbon in blue too. If I do I will be sure to let you know! Good luck~

  10. Your so lucky to have such lasting and meaningful friendships! We moved alot when I was a kid so I never established roots. I envy people who have that a little. Traci

  11. What a beautiful post about a special friendship! You are lucky to have eachother and such a wonderful friendship!! I always say about my best friend, that God sent her to me and meant for us to be friends, because he knew we needed eachother...

    :) T

  12. Friendships like that last no matter what... time and distance doesn't interfer when friends have wonderful memories and bonds.
    So happy for your friend and that you got to witness her special day,

  13. Dang, I could have probably sent you a random pic I snapped of the bride and groom! Soooo right about Janet...she was true blue and influential alright. So happy for her! And glad we got to make the trek together, it was fun sitting in the pews again. Too bad we didn't have the time to pass notes (instead we just whispered during the service). You forgot to tell everyone that she got married amidst the sirens wailing in Ludlow Falls. And you forgot to mention Geneva was it Applesauce? Isn't that what we called her? Babe, what a crack up that Babe. I wish I had seen that photo of our cabin during the slide show. Wonderful wedding, wonderful Ludlow.

  14. ps. Everytime I see the words Camp Love, I can't help but to hear Ben Avery crooning, "Camp Love, it's over in a week..." Seriously! Too funny that his kids were even there. I'm sure Ben wrote Camp Love about Ludlow!

  15. so glad for Janet, she was Joy's RD senior year at's great how people weave in and out of so many lives. Glad you posted this!

  16. Hey, how about cup noodles?
    I found many different flavors here

  17. oh shannan...thank you for that sweet and oh so touching walk down memory lane!! and for your beautiful (yet very rosy:) picture of me, it seems. i love that you took the time to write this for me and for all who read it. much love to you, janet billenstein (the bride of Ludlow)

  18. p.s. Ok, so i am so new to all of this that i didn't know how to identify myself until now. oh well.....

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