Before you begin reading, Watch this video.  (Thank you so much to the incredible fire-fighters!!)

What you see is a building and a water bomber and a plume of ominous smoke. 

What I see is our beloved camp severely threatened by forest fire.  The fire is pressing in, pushing closer.  It is massive and powerful and uncontained. 

 Those buildings it threatens to obliterate are more than buildings- they are a dream realized by the camp’s founders, their establishment birthed over 60 years ago.  Those buildings are witness to some of my husband’s most cherished childhood memories.  Indeed, it was also Oshkidee which cemented Ryan and mine’s relationship.  It was here we experienced our mutual joy of camp and of waterskiing.  We did crazy teenage, rule-breaking stuff (Shhh, don’t tell—…and my children I wince in dread and fear that I did these things and hope that you are smarter than us and thank God for His protection).  We had fun and we sought God and it was good, it was so good!  I sat in chapel, my first days at Camp Oshkidee, dreaming and brainstorming how a wedding here would look.  I was in love with Ryan; but, also with this beautiful camp.  That was the summer of 2000.  The following summer at camp, 2001, Ryan and I went for a dirt bike ride down the trails (which are currently engulfed in fire).  We stopped at an opening that overlooks the lake and here Ryan said to me, “I think we should get married.” And I replied without hesitation, “me too.”  Upon returning home, we shared our intention with our parents and my father-in-law booked the camp for the following June 22.

 The chalet was the perfect setting for our truly perfect day: our wedding. 

 But that was just the beginning, or perhaps the middle…

 We were youth leaders at camp the following year and my in-laws rented out the camp for spectacular family time a couple times years following.

 Then we moved to BC and didn’t return to camp until Ryan suggested we go when I was on Mat leave with the twins.  I thought he was crazy (and really many elements of that week at camp were pure chaos and craziness!)  But there was still something special about being in that place, Camp Oshkidee, where “we” first began as a 2 person family.  That year at camp I felt God give me a message, “Cheryl, I will give you years in the lake filled with joy with your kids.”  At the time it was an encouragement to press through the crazy days of motherhood, where I wasn’t able to enjoy being in the lake; but, a couple months later when I was diagnosed with brain cancer with a prognosis of one-year survival, those words, that promise of years,became a life-line of hope.  We returned the following year, last summer, and similarly, God spoke. There was one evening at camp where the moon was full and spectacular and reflected off of the lake.  It was if God was saying, in the darkness I am the beacon of light.  There is no darkness in me.  I have overcome the darkness.

 We are registered for camp again this summer.  We discussed whether to go or not, it is a long trip to get there; but, we decided yes, it is worth it.  It is always worth it.

 A few days ago we received word that the camp is in a fire storm.  Blazes are penetrating closer and it does not look good.  As you see how meaningful this place, this camp, is to me, to our family you can understand how this situation is an allegory of our life!  The fire rages; flames licking into our lives, trying to consume us and it looks dismal.  The fire is powerful and raging and pressing and unrelenting.  The wall of smoke ominously threatens suffocation.  But.  Yes, but.  In it all our hope in God does not waver. 

The morning after imminent threat on the camp was apparent, the camp director shared this:

 “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that God is in control…even if it doesn’t appear so. As the sun comes up I haven’t heard any update about the fire situation at the camp. So we eagerly await news.

However, I do believe I heard from God this morning! Every morning I get a devotional emailed to me from pastor Rick Warren, who’s from California. It’s uncanny how often it relates to what I need to hear. And today is no different. The promise that God is with us through our fiery trials. I am confident the plans He has for Oshkidee will be seen.
The picture used almost even looks like that trail to the camp! God’s got this!!”

Huh! God speaks.

 As I was contemplating this and the whole Camp Oshkidee situation I was reminded of how God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3 through a burning bush.  As Moses approaches the burning bush God says to him, “take off your sandals, the place where you are standing is holy ground.”  Immediately I was reminded how being at Camp Oshkidee, truly feels like walking on holy ground.  God’s presence is so very tangible there; it is holy ground!  (I’ve already mentioned how God has spoken to me at Camp Oshkidee. It was surrounding the burning bush which God was speaking through that required Moses to remove his sandals.  I thus conclude where God speaks, it is holy ground.)  Whatever happens to our beloved camp, I know that holy ground cannot be consumed by fire!

We keep waiting for updates on what is going on with the forest fire and the camp.  In the waiting I was reminded of another “fire story.”  It’s the story from Daniel 3 where there are three men who refuse to worship the gold statue which the king has decreed must to worshipped when music sounds.  At their refusal the king is enraged and gives them one more chance “But if you refuse you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace.  What god will be able to rescue you from my power then?” says the king. 

 The men’s response is striking. 

 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.  He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.  But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

 These words penetrated me.  They are the words I needed for my own fire storm!  They are exactly the words that speak to how I feel about being cured from incurable cancer.  I trust my God is powerful and that indeed He can heal me.  I pray that God takes my brain and obliterates and banishes the cancer.  I pray for those years in the lake to celebrate joy with my family!  But even if I am not cured physically, my soul has been healed in a brilliant fashion!  We can celebrate this!  And even if the cancer consumes me, I will worship my God for what He has done for me!   Why? How?  I wrote the following, called “Lift my head” I think it helps explain.

 The only way to have fulfilled life on earth is to believe that there is life beyond this earth.  To believe the heavens hold something bigger and brighter than humanity: God Himself full of Mercy and Love, waiting to hold me in His arms and lift my head up high.  This truth not only gives me a future beyond the grave, it gives me strength and sustaining courage to truly live while I’m alive.

Psalm 3:3

“But you, oh Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head high.”


(Remember too, we are not in trusting in God in order to escape the flames.  He is not our safe-guard, He is our everything!  We are trusting in God because we believe in Him.  We are trusting in God as the only One worthy of complete devotion and highest honor and praise!)

The story of the three men in the fiery furnace doesn’t end here.  They are indeed pitched to burn in the flames.  But in the furnace, they are joined by a divine being!  (And they walk out and are not even singed!)

“Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” 


 “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire,  They aren’t even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a divine being!”

In the fire storms of life, it gets hot.  (My friend describes the chaos of her life as a “hot mess.”)  In these hot messes we are accompanied.  Do not forget the great Comforter who goes with us and the angels who protect us (Psalm 91:11).  Do not forget that through the fire storms of life the chaff of life is burnt off.  God baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and with fire so what remains is the most valuable parts of life (Matt 3:11-12).  Life like God intended for us to have.  In a society adverse to pain and hardship, this is a difficult lesson to learn.  Sometimes I don’t like to admit it (because who really likes to admit that good comes from pressing through difficulty); but, this cancer journey continues to burn off the chaff of my life and polish the rich treasure in my soul.

I Peter 1:7

“These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure.  It is being tested as fire test and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.  So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trial, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

Oh God I raise my hands in petition for Camp Oshkidee and for petition for my life; but most of all I raise my hands in honor of You, to whom be the glory! Amen!        

Update: I wrote this a few days ago, the camp is still very much threatened as the fire engulfs the area