Monday, July 5, 2010


My name is Kate Widner, and I am thrilled to be the very first SkyMom of the Month!  I have been a blogger since 2007, generally writing funny kid stories, posting videos of my budding gymnast, struggling musician, and animated ballerina, sharing my Golden Globe and Oscar predictions (Hollywood is my stronghold, and I pray about that every night J), and critiquing American Idol contestants, guest artists and judges.  Last summer, my personal blog took an unexpected turn when my family moved from North Dallas to Bergen County, New Jersey.  Our family of five lives about 30 minutes outside New York City, where my husband, Joe works.  Technology, I discovered, is a wonderful tool for staying connected while living so far away, and the blog became my lifeline to the family and friends we left in Texas.  In the beginning, I thought I was writing the blog for them; now, I realize I was writing it for ME.  More about that in another entry!
In the month of February, the Northeast got pummeled by two back-to-back snow storms.  In an unprecedented turn of events, school was actually closed for 4 days – not in a row- but throw in the long President’s Day weekend, and I think I counted one full week of school for the month.  The day I found the Sky Moms blog was one of those four snow days.  Y’all, my tank was empty.  I had no more mommy skills to get me through the afternoon, I couldn’t leave the house because we had an unplowed 10 inches of snow in our driveway, and the refrigerator was getting low on essentials, like chocolate.  It was bad.  As I navigated the site, I came across Lisa Clark’s entry, IT RUNS IN THE FAMIILY. Lisa was my Mentor Mom in a Bible Study I did in 2001, and if you’ve never heard her before, you are missing out.  She is one of the most anointed women I’ve ever been privileged to know.  I read a sentence about “handling” one of her sweet girls, and I thought, “I have one of those children! God, YOU sent this to me today!  Thank You!”  Since then, I have frequently checked in on the blog.
I met Tori Miller two weeks ago when we retrieved our oldest boy from camp.  We were fortunate to spend two weeks in the Lone Star State this summer, and our son wanted to spend a week of it at Sky Ranch.  Thank You, Lord!  Tori asked me to write about our Sky experience from start to finish, and while I feel like I’ve already written an epistle, I hope you’ll indulge me. 
My husband, Joe & I have been married for almost 16 years, and we’ve been parents for 13.  Our highest responsibility is to the Lord for the children He has generously entrusted to us.  We do not take parenting lightly at the Widner house, but we also realize that our children will reach the age that the words they hear from mom and dad may not mean as much as words from their peers, other mentors, teachers, youth pastors, and FRIENDS.  As our son is approaching that critical time, Joe & I both want him to hear the same messages from others that he would hear from us.  Y’all know what I mean – if Joe or I tell Ross he needs to use deodorant, he thinks we’re picking on him, or just plain crazy. If another GUY (or Heaven help me, GIRL!!!) tells him the same thing – ESPECIALLY if it is a coach, teacher, or friend he really respects, he comes home LOOKING for the aforementioned deodorant. 
Ross is a third year camper this summer, and he asked to be a part of QUEST.  We dropped him off at camp at 4:00 on Father’s Day.  We were greeted by Karl, a counselor from Ross’ cabin 2 years ago, and another very enthusiastic duo who were handing out chocolate chip cookies to fabulously festooned SUVs.  We saw counselors with big smiles on their faces, sweat rolling down their foreheads, anticipating another great week at camp.  We watched skiers on the lake entertaining us with their unbelievable wakeboarding skills.  As soon as we pulled into the camp ground, Ross’ temperament changed.  He was a man on a mission: he wanted his cabin number, his bed made, and then he wanted us to LEAVE QUICKLY.  So the fun could begin. 
We met Ross’ two counselors, Harrison and Tim.  Both are seasoned counselors, both are passionate about their faith and pouring into boys who are beginning to develop that same passion.  Tim was getting to know Ross, and Harrsion chatted me up for a few minutes about Ross and our family, where we live, what life in NJ is like, etc.  I learned a bit about him, too, and I was impressed. Then, he asked me a question.
            “Mrs. Widner, is there anything you want us to focus on with Ross this week?  Anything he may be struggling with, or questioning, or anything at all that you are worried about for him?”
Wow.  He and Tim weren’t going to just focus on the theme for the week – they were going to INVEST in my boy.  And his cabin mates.  They wanted to know about Ross.  I was silent for a minute (which is a shock to anyone who knows me!).  And then I said:
            “We moved this child away from everything familiar last year.  He made new friends, started a new school, found a new church and youth group, he relied on very brief and very infrequent text messages or emails from his friends at home to stay connected to them.  We asked so much of Ross this year, and he hasn’t complained, but his tank is getting empty.  We live in a place that can be harsh and somewhat cold and distant when it comes to relationships.  Even though he has worked at it, he does not feel connected. He feels invisible.  You know what I want for Ross this week?  I want him to come home with a full tank.   I want him to be on fire for the Lord.  I want him to know that he is loved and prayed for and that the Lord has an enormous, exciting plan for Ross’ life.  I want him to know that God thinks he is one amazing kid.”
And then I cried.  Harrison thanked me, and told me to dry it up (in a very kind and respectful way), and we hugged our boy and left. 
Saturday, we went back to the ranch to pick up our MORPHED boy.  And, morphed, he had.  Ross smiled and sang at the top of his lungs during the closing ceremony.  When he greeted us, he was near tears.  I thought he was just thrilled to be coming home, but that was incorrect.  Our boy was sad because “Tim and Harrison are the best counselors in the world.”  “Tim and Harrison prayed with me and they didn’t think what I was praying about was stupid.”  “Tim and Harrison taught me how to be a man after God’s own heart.”  “Tim and Harrison said I reminded them of David – small in stature but powerful for God.”  Ross wanted Tim and Harrison to move back to New Jersey with us and teach him MORE about God, MORE about how to navigate Christianity in a society that finds it offensive, MORE about the gifts God has given him, MORE, MORE, MORE.
As a parent, it is easy to feel like the struggles you have with your child(ren) are things no one else on earth can relate to or help with.  I am here to tell you that isn’t true.  The enemy would like us to believe that so he can isolate us from each other and work us over.  Sky Ranch and, in particular, Sky Moms, are opportunities for us to band together as believers who love our children and take this parenting thing seriously.  It is a way that we can meet others who are like-minded, share our struggles, will pray for us and with us, and will walk through it ALL with us.  That is what Tim & Harrison did for Ross at camp this year.  They walked through his junk with him, understood him in a way his parents couldn’t, pointed him to truth, and encouraged him every step of the way.  They may not know this side of Heaven how many lives have been impacted positively for Christ, but The Lord knows. 
Ross’ life story isn’t written yet, but I can assure you that when it is, the summers he spent at Sky Ranch will be an enormous part of the story. 
 ~Kate Widner

1 comment:

  1. The post over Ross gave me chills... This was Wesley's 2nd year at Sky Ranch - the memories they make with the counselors and what Sky Ranch offers is life changing!