My story began in Hastings, Michigan, where I was born. Even though I spent several winters of my younger years in Florida with my parents when I was growing up, we still ended up in Michigan for the summer. Honestly, you cannot beat Michigan during the summer. There is normally a nice breeze blowing, and everything is green, and the lakes sparkle. Average temperatures are high 70's, low 80's. Granted, it can get hot and humid at times, or even extra cool, but it never lasts.
When Paul and I were married, after a year of living in the upper peninsula of Michigan, he took his first job in Tennessee. That is where we made our home for most of the years we raised our sons. We had a brief job stint in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and then four years in Joliet, Illinois, but Cleveland, Tennessee is where we called home. We loved it there. Then Paul changed companies and we live in the St. Louis, Missouri area for about 10 years...living across the Mississippi River in Highland, Illinois for two years, as talked about in my last blog post.
When Paul's job came to an end in St. Louis, we decided to give God time to show us His direction for the next part of our journey. Paul took a sabbatical from the corporate world and we decided to move into a small cottage in Michigan that we had inherited from my parents. It was not heated, and it was only about 350 square feet, but with space heaters and wrapped pipes and two little furry doggies, we survived our first winter while we rehabbed the cottage. During the spring, summer, and fall we doubled our square footage because of the large screen porch attached to the cottage. It was my favorite place to be.
While we were rehabbing the cottage, Paul ended up volunteering his time with Indian Lake Nazarene Camp, the Michigan District Church of the Nazarene campground. They had some major projects that needed a hands on, daily operations manager to over see the work. Paul's engineering background had prepared him to give expertise to such projects as a mile long new paved entrance road, a 28 boat slip marina, and a new swimming beach for campers.
There was a lot of excitement in the air with the changes coming to the campground. There were already approximately 150 RV camping spots, and about 180 house/cottage properties. Some people lived here seasonally, but many were year round residents. Some were snow birds...here for most of the year, but spending winters in Florida or Arizona. ILNC is basically a little village of its own. It has three motels, a dining hall and snack bar, two tabernacles, and several bath houses and other buildings used by staff, maintenance, and guests.
It was originally purchased in 1926 and became the place for the annual camp-meeting of the Michigan District. Today there is a museum in the old youth tabernacle that holds many artifacts, pieces of furniture, pictures, and books from across the years. ILNC is a very special place where during the youth camps many youth and children came to accept Jesus in their hearts, and God has called many people into full time ministry. The old stone altar in the tabernacle is a precious memory in the lives of many.
It was to this ministry that God called Paul when He closed the doors in the corporate world. After volunteering in the summer of 2004, he was hired on as the Executive Director in September of that year. We had been nine months without employment or income, but God provided during that time. Many changes occurred in those first years due to the increase in crowds. Staff was hired, and I was given the position as the bookkeeper for ILNC. Right down my alley!!! I loved my job because it was only part time, and it gave me plenty of opportunities to interact with the people...the residents, RVers, and guests.
We still had our house in Highland, IL that we were trying to sell, so we continued to live in the small little cottage. We were there for 18 months, two winters, until our house finally sold. We had to take a loss on the house, but that was okay...we felt we were exactly where God wanted us. Moving from a 2,800 sf house with a 2,800 sf walkout basement, into a 350 sf cottage (700 sf when we could use the screen porch), was definitely a big adjustment...but we were pleased. After the house did sell, we didn't have any equity to buy a place on the campground, so we went into Portage, eight miles away, and rented a condo for a year. We missed living right on the campground and having our golf carts to run around in during the non-snow seasons.
When the house next door to our cottage came up for sale, we used our cottage for collateral and bought the 1,200 sf house, with a partial basement and single garage. We stayed in the cottage while we rehabbed the house to make it more our style. We continued to keep the cottage for family and friends to stay in when they came to visit during the summers. In the winter the pipes were drained and it was closed up since it had to heat.
Downsizing was the name of the game for us as we moved from the big house in Highland, to a condo in Portage, and then to our "new" home on the campground. Even today I continue to unload the stuff. I want to live simply and finish well...as my one blog talks about (side bar). Things that used to be so important to me no longer have a hold on me. I wrote about some of my downsizing in a previous blog post in this Journal Pie blog...in case you want more details. There is freedom in not having so much stuff!!!! If we do move again, I want it to be the easiest, lightest move we have made in our 40 years of marriage. We have lived in 19 different places, so we have obviously moved quite a bit. Living here on the campground since 2004 has been the longest stint in my whole life. Even when I was growing up, Mom and Dad moved a lot. I like changes, I like moving...but only when I know God is in charge.
We are trying to sell our house now so we can move back to a milder climate in the winter. Paul's position as Executive Director and mine as ILNC Bookkeeper ended two summers ago. But thus far He has not given us the freedom to move away, so we wait on His timing, and His leading. Meanwhile we have some wonderful memories surrounding our time at Indian Lake Nazarene Camp. We are blessed!! And you can't beat Michigan for the summer!!! We intend to keep the cottage to come back to in the summers, should we ever move away. It's our granddaughters' favorite place to be...right here at ILNC. They usually visit us a few weeks each summer, and some day they hope to inherit Grandpa and Grandma's cottage and continue to make memories!!