I’m avoiding getting into my car. I spilled milk in it last week and it stinks and having been away all weekend, I have not had a chance to scrub it. Today it’s raining, so I’m in the house, doing laundry,and just going over some of the great music I heard, discovered, and soaked in over the weekend at The Big Church Day Out.

The kids were little troopers. There was plenty for them to do, but as well as all of that, we dragged them to all the bands we wanted to see, including an 11:30 PM campfire with the Rend Collective where they both fell fast asleep on the ground in their pj’s and wellies. We all caught the sun, and my face looks like I had a terrible accident with fake tan.

You know that family with two parents, two children, all kitted out in waterproofs? The family who puts sunscreen on in the morning? The family who remembered to bring tissues? The family with the immaculate camping space? That wasn’t us. They were our neighbours. I didn’t even bring a rain jacket. I managed the weekend with no shower and one pair of jeans that sort of got trashed the first day.

Despite having a horrid cold, and a very cold and rainy first day, we all survived the weekend in one piece. What is it about camping? The extreme out of your comfort zone experience combined with experiences you just could not replicate anywhere else? I was so thankful to the random South African guy who helped Jon put the tent up in the pouring rain while the kids and I shivered in the car.

The weekend can be summed up in two things. Me welling up a lot, and my heart resonating.  Musically there were a lot sentimental moments, (I saw Amy Grant all 3 times she was on, and got to sit on the front row in the tea tent for her long acoustic set Saturday evening!!!) many truly worshipful moments, some moments of pure beauty, and just some WOW moments.

I loved that although the weekend was about celebration, family time, relaxation, and just pure fun, all the things you want from a good day out, there was an undercurrent of outworking as well. Christians Against Poverty were the main sponsors of the event, an incredible organization that helps people out of debt. Costa Coffee donated their coffee, (and their branding), for them to sell. Nothing like a proper Hazelnut Americano when you’re camping! Not only did the family get a free hovercraft ride, but we found out about this great organization that delivers medical aid (via hovercraft) to people in Madagascar! I discovered Global Seesaw, who sell gorgeous clothes and various bit and pieces fair trade/anti trafficking etc. Missions was just…like everywhere around the event. From the Tear Fund tea tent to the marketplace where there was one display after another.

The main resonating moment came from The Rend Collective at the campfire. We were about five feet away from them and I could see they were very much a typical group of Irish musicians who loved to rip on each other and banter.  They passionately spoke about how Christianity is not something to be packaged and sold like Starbucks sells coffee. So many people try to “Brand” church, feeling they have to make God appealing, that they have to somehow sell the gospel so people  will be interested. So. not. where. I’m. at. They also talked about being raised in church and youth group and getting to their 20’s and suddenly struggling and realizing it’s not so black and white…and so much of their music is a reflection of them coming out the other side of that…and is very much where I’m at and probably not only why I love their style, but their lyrics so much. A lot of stuff resonated. I also loved hearing from Peter Greig from Prayer 24/7 (another formative influence during my time in the UK).

The event ended with Chai and Hot Chocolate, cuddles on the side of the hill, worshipping with Matt Redman, and concluded with singing 10,000 reasons with nearly that many people!! Later that night, Jon and I sat in our tent, after putting the kids in their sleeping bags, and listened as they drifted off to sleep singing the songs from the weekend.  Despite having a cold, getting sun burnt, wearing dirty yucky clothes, and not sleeping terribly well. (one night I woke up to Iona crying in her sleep, and could not see Judah anywhere…he was UNDER the air mattress…fast asleep!!!! eek!) It was a brilliant weekend, and a blessing as well as a challenge to our family.

iona carasol



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