Thin Places (Mo Ranch 2014)

So, I'm sure you're curious about the title of this blog. First, let me tell you about how I learned about thin places. Three summers ago I went to Montreat as the assistant MS bible study leader for the PAM music and worship conference. While I was there I got to meet a plethora of awesome people. One woman, a pastor from Nashville, was telling me how Montreat was a 'thin place' for her. It was a place where she felt particularly close to God. That, when she was a Montreat, she just felt more in-touch with her spirituality. At Montreat she saw God in ways that she didn't see and experience God in her day to day life.

This conversation got me thinking, where is a thin place for me? I know there is a song that always seems to blow me away (It's "Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky, just FYI), but what about an actual place? Honestly, I didn't really have to think about it that long. Since the summer after my freshman year of college, Mo Ranch has been my thin place.

Just to give you guys an idea about why Mo Ranch matters so much to me, I attended the Junior High Jubilee conference at Mo Ranch 6th-8th grade. In high school I didn't go to any of Mo Ranch's conferences. It kind of slipped to the back of my mind. By the time summer of 2010 had rolled around I had kind of forgotten what a great place it was. So when my friend, Emily, contacted me about being a small group leader for Junior High Jubilee, I figured it was a great opportunity to get out of lifeguarding for a week (Ugh, seriously, lifeguarding is the most miserably boring job to have for a summer). I kind of went into my week thinking that this was a great way to take advantage of the ranch in a way you can't when you're in middle school. I didn't put much weight into the spiritual/religious side of things. Really, Mo Ranch was an escape.

My freshman year of college was challenging. I was constantly homesick. I tried the whole, date a boy from home while you're away thing and… surprise!, it didn't work. At all. I had spent the year running myself ragged trying to balance school, an incredibly active social life, and a breakup that turned nasty about a month before I was heading to Mo Ranch. I was ready for an escape and Mo seemed like a great way to do that.

That first summer back at Mo was magical. Every night I stayed up late, doing CAT patrol, sitting down by the river and looking up at the stars, spending a couple of late nights at the rapids. I also came to love my small group. Who would have thought a group of turdy little middle schoolers would leave such an impression on me? During our last worship service together, I started leading a prayer and couldn't finish. I was all choked up and one of my sponsors had to jump in and help me finish.

Not only did I make some wonderful friends that week, my calling hit me like a ton of bricks. I got home from Mo Ranch and knew that I was meant to be working with youth. More importantly, I knew that if I wasn't working with youth, I wouldn't be serving God to the best of my abilities and strengths. It was like puzzle pieces all slid together after that first trip back to Mo.

I went back to Mo Ranch in 2012, again as a small group leader for Junior High Jubilee, this time staying for 2 weeks. Even though I was exhausted from traveling the 7 weeks leading up to the conference, I was yet again overwhelmed by God. God was in the stars and the river and the scraggly little trees and the big blue skies, God was in the sponsors and my fellow small group leaders. Most importantly, God was in the middle schoolers I spent my days with.

I just got back from Mo Ranch on Friday. This year I took a nice little contingent from Louisiana, I also served as a small group leader again. I learned a lot this trip about how to navigate and direct a home group. I also learned that multitasking is probably not the best idea. I think next year I'll spend a week as a sponsor, then hang around a second week as a small group leader.

I also learned that vespers has not lost any of its power. Every night, once the sun sets, everyone heads out to the tennis courts to unwind. Our first night there, last Sunday, the sky was a bit overcast. However, as the music leader began to play, the clouds parted directly above us, showing a million twinkling stars.

Mo Ranch is my thin place. Even amidst all the activities and challenges of leading a home group and a small group, I feel recharged. I feel renewed in my calling. I feel ready to take on my job in the fall. I love Mo Ranch. It holds a special place in my heart. I want to share it with all the people I care about, because it has been so formative in my life. You want to know me better, spend some time in the Texas hill country. This is my thin place.

Cross at Chapel on the Hill

Panorama of the property

Holding it down for the juice box gang 2014

The cat walk

The view from the cat walk

View from the cat walk pt. 2

sister selfie

Selfie with Lucy


Some of our youth at the ropes course

Kaylee made it up the Mo pole in next to no time

Jane, up on the Mo Pole

Lauren also made it up the Mo Pole

Some of the PSL youth helping Mikey Fresh with the music "The Crew from the Bayou"

Our conference activity for the week, a week full of kind things to say to one another

Mo Ranch Rd.

Sister, sister

Can't beat a view like that during worship

Blue, blue skies on our way out of Mo.
Pit stop on the drive home.

By Mo Ranch, can't wait to come back!



  1. I can agree wholeheartedly, Mo is one of the thinnest places for me in my life.


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