Second Time Around

My eleven-year-old nephew is spending a week at summer camp for the second year in a row. He’s now the seasoned veteran, leading a crew of his friends who are first-time campers.

The day before he left, I asked him if his bag was packed. He said yep, he had the Vaseline all ready to go. 


“For pranks,” he said. “I didn’t know about them last year but this year I’ll be ready.”

It seems that along with tubing on the lake and building watercraft out of cardboard boxes, he discovered that the boys grease the doorknobs and handles of their cabins with Vaseline to play pranks on their counselors.

It made me think that the second time around makes all the difference. 

It’s where hesitation turns into confidence and experience ushers in wisdom. 

Not only at summer camp but it's true in my life too. {And yours?}

When the route I’m traveling in my life starts to look vaguely familiar, I realize that I’ve been here before. 

Instead of letting my discouraging thoughts work me into a worrying knot {like I usually do} I ask myself the question, am I offered a second chance to practice what I’ve learned since I’ve passed this way before?

Sometimes you have to build a history with God to harbor hope for your future.

When I choose to see every disappointment and difficulty, every delay and hope deferred as a faith-encounter to craft a living chronicle of confidence in him, it strengthens the strands of trust stretched around my heart. 

It’s this practice of changing the angle, looking at it from a new slant that can remake the old. 

My self-centric prayers have been turned inside out when my heart heard the words, “Will you pray for another to find me first? Before you pray for yourself?”

So I do it. Because I think it's the last thing God told me to do.

I keep praying. Even if I can’t see a difference. Even though I don’t think it makes any sense. Because just maybe, what if?

What if God is working behind the scenes and I don’t know it? 

What if, through these mysterious and powerful prayers, I can see the crest of his holy hill and sense the close-enough-to-touch wonder of God?

That’s where I found myself once again confronting my thoughts about what I really wanted in life long after I’d left them behind on the journey. 

I started unpacking those old dusty desires from the trunk they were buried in, shaking them out, seeing what still fit and what didn’t. 

A funny thing happened when I started poking around those old memories and dreams and hopes. 

I discovered that after all that time my desires were still alive, with a faintly beating heart.

I was so callous with them through the years as I packed them away like souvenirs from a long-ago trip. I wondered why God wanted me to consider them again.

Was he testing me? Taunting me? Why when I opened my heart to what he was showing me and I told him yes I was ready to embrace these old desires, did everything come to a dead-end stop and I found myself right back in a place I'd never wanted to revisit?  

Because God wanted me to consider him. Through the lens of my desires. 

And the only way to revive them was to start praying them back to life and trust their awakening to him.
Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. -Prov. 19:21

My sister sent me a photo of my nephew and his friends boarding the bus for camp. It was completely different from last year’s. 

Then he had sat on his duffel bag with a slightly worried expression on his face. But in this year’s photo he sat grinning, baseball cap on backwards, Vaseline safely tucked away in his bag.

I think the second time around makes all the difference. 

For middle-school campers playing pranks and for all of us who pray and desire and believe and hope.

What are you praying for?

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for Your Heart. Click the image for more posts from my blogger friends!


  1. My self-centric prayers have been turned inside out when my heart heard the words, “Will you pray for another to find me first? Before you pray for yourself?” Oh, my! YES.

    Thank you for this poignant reminder to put others needs before my desires when I go to God. Or in every day actions! Found you from Holley Gerth's Coffee for my Heart. Susan

    1. Susan,
      Thank you so much for your encouraging words -- so grateful for your visit!

  2. Just a lovely little visit here with you this morning, friend. As ever, I leave refreshed, smiling quietly as I go ...

    Hugs, friend. You inspire me so!

    1. Linda,
      Oh I cherish your visits to my online home and can't tell you how much I appreciate your sweet words! You inspire me as you walk out your incredible gifts of encouragement, no matter where you are! :)

  3. I cannot wait to hear all about all of his summer camp adventures! Thank you for your inspiring words! Great reminder to reflect on past desires, sometimes it is so easy to suppress and forget!

    1. Brittany,
      I can't wait to see him when he gets back -- his stories always amuse me! I'm excited to hear how the pranks went!

  4. "Sometimes you have to build a history with God to harbor hope for your future".....♥ This idea that history harbors hope seems to fit well with my word of the year being "anchored"...! This is superb Valerie! Cut me right to the heart too when you mentioned "praying for others to find me first- before you pray for yourself"... A truth that needs a little dusting off in my life too because I tend to go at it backwards sometimes... Lovely reminders and pics here today my friend!! Are you taking the travel journal with you to Italy??! It looks very interesting!!

    1. Heather,
      Isn't that travel sweet? I took it to Paris and yes, it will go with me to Italy too! The harbor imagery does relate to your year of being anchored -- love that!

  5. Valerie - this is so beautiful! such good thoughts- Thank you!!! This is helpful to me tonight- When I choose to see every disappointment and difficulty, every delay and hope deferred as a faith-encounter to craft a living chronicle of confidence in him, it strengthens the strands of trust stretched around my heart. - Wondering about disappointment lately - and what to do with it and how to see it and process it in a few areas of my life. This helps me have a new perspective on it- thank you for these lovely words and for creating this beautiful place to visit! :) I love stopping by here each week! :) sending love

    1. Susie,
      Oh I wonder about disappointment too! But I'm determined to look at it differently. As with other areas I struggle with, I'm trying to treat them all as an opportunity to approach them as a sacred God-encounter and find his perspective on it. It's not easy to do, is it? I'm thinking of you and praying too, that we'll both see disappointment as a way to encounter Him! I so love your encouragement here every week! xo

  6. Valerie, I really enjoyed reading this. I can confirm this about summer camp. My husband is a youth pastor and every year there are definitely pranks at summer camp. Usually with counselors being the ring leaders. I've already heard discussion about the pranks to be this year :) Those pranks are the basis for great memories. I like this idea of going around for the second time and God giving us chances to act on what we have learned. I'll be curious to see what those desires are for you. Isn't it funny that many times going back to deep seated desires causes us a considerable amount of vulnerability and pain? But for whatever reason they are deeply connected to whom we are supposed to be? I can say that I am living that out right now in different ways.
    I am having a fourth baby in two months. A season of life (early motherhood) that I thought I was done with and would be working myself into a bit of freedom and break. Now my fourth time around and this one unexpected has seemed the most daunting. Which sounds ridiculous I know. But like you said sometimes God gives you another trip around to let you use what you already know. I have been cheering myself on saying, 'Somer, you have done this three other times. You can this time too.'
    Thank you for the words of encouragement and I hope that God fulfills one of these deep seated desires in the core of your heart this time. Maybe coming back again for the second or third time will make it all the richer.

  7. Somer,
    It is so nice to hear from you! What an unexpected turn your life has taken! It does not sound ridiculous at all to be a little daunted by what you encounter on your journey and so easy to say that God is right beside you giving you his strength, but sometimes it's hard to live out that reality in the midst of our difficult circumstances. Somer, I am cheering you on too, as this new arrival joins your three beautiful girls! I'm praying God to give you an extra glimpse of his presence in your life. I just cherish and treasure your prayers and your words here for me! xoxo

  8. Gosh I hope I have learned by the second time. Probably not though!

    1. Sarah,
      Sometimes it takes the third and fourth time and even more, doesn't it? But I'm grateful for new opportunities to practice! :)

  9. I love this on so many levels. That "second time around" imagery and story really caught my attention and I haven't thought about it like that with God.
    "Sometimes you have to build a history with God to harbor hope for your future." >> So true!

    "I choose to remember what He has done because it frames my perspective for why I'll wait for what He will do," is something I preach to myself a lot.

    We are kindred spirits on this matter :)
    P.S. Thanks for visiting and leaving such a sweet comment for me over at TheCheerioTrail.

    Embracing the journey,

    1. Christi,
      Thanks so much for your thoughts on this post! I'm learning to take a different look at some things to see if it from God's perspective and his thoughts are always better than my thoughts. It was a pleasure to visit your online home -- thanks for stopping by mine!

  10. Yes the second time around on MANY things makes a difference! I love this little post about camp and our own lives as adults...prayers...etc. Good perspective! I totally agree. I like MOST things the second, third, fourth time around better! Jenn

    1. Jenn,
      The fourth time around -- I like the sound of that! I would get more opportunities to put into practice my new trains of thought and have more chances for success! :) Thank you so much for reading -- always love it when you stop by!


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