My wife, Leah, was recently reading through the latest edition of Magnolia Magazine. The theme for the issue was “Wonder.” That word has stayed with me over the last couple of weeks and has shaped how I’ve been navigating this Advent season.

Wonder is something that often escapes me. I like to be in the know, to be prepared, to be certain. To approach things with a sense of wonder indicates that there’s something unknown, something to be surprised by, something to be unsure about. I’ve fallen into the trap as seeing that as a weakness. I’ve bought into the lie that knowing and being certain is a sign of strength and superiority. But God has challenged me to approach this Advent with wonder – to put aside my pride and my certainty.

It was Herod’s desire to know, to be prepared, and to be certain that lead him to tragically miss the importance of the one born ‘King of the Jews.’ All of Israel was certain what their King would look like, so no one thought to look in a manger…much less on a cross.

John 1 tells us, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” When we replace childlike wonder with the sin of certainty, we miss what God is actually doing in search of what we think He should be doing.

If you’ve spent any amount of time as a Christian, you know what Christmas is about. You’ve heard the story time and time again. With enough time we become so familiar that we are certain there are no more surprises. This isn’t just true at Christmas either. We’ve heard the sermons, the youth group lessons. We’ve been out to camp and gone to the altar and returned home. We know what to expect. We become calloused and cold to what God is doing. Let us shed what we think we know. Let us shed our certainty. Let us come and adore Him.

Christmas should leave us with plenty of wonder. The infinite becomes infant. The maker becomes man. The divine becomes despised.

This Christmas I invite you to a sense of wonder. The creator of the universe who breathes out stars and measures the heavens with the breadth of his hand lies naked and crying in a dirty manger. Let us put off all pretense of certainty and instead be left to wonder.


Dave Hallahan has been a camper, volunteer staff member, speaker and  worked summer staff at Delanco. He serves as a youth pastor at Hope Christian Fellowship in Woodbury.

A match made at camp


Leah (Palamaro) and I met at Camp in 2006. We had both been attending camp since we were little kids, but had somehow managed to miss each other until that fateful summer. Leah was the horse wrangler and I was a counselor. Leah freely admits that she almost immediately developed a crush on me, but due to my disinterest in horses (and the smells associated with them) I didn’t pay her quite the attention she would’ve liked. We did leave camp good friends and our friendship grew over the next three years while we were both in other relationships. We would often hang out in large groups of friends (most of which had some association with Delanco Camp).

In the spring of 2009, both Leah and I found ourselves single and celebrating Leah’s birthday. After that night the tables turned. The pursued (Dave) became the pursuer. Leah and I started spending a lot more time together and it became obvious to everyone that Leah and I made a good couple…well everyone except for Leah. I got rejected a few times, but I kept on pursuing. Before we officially started dating we were asked to co-dean the Fall Retreat at camp that year. In August of 2009, we officially started dating and in October we worked with our good friends, Jen and Julio Nieves, on the Fall Retreat.

daveandleahDelanco Camp really played a large part in bringing us together. It’s where we met. That first retreat was a great test and growing experience for our early relationship. There was a lot of planning that went into it and we worked together effortlessly. I think that retreat, and the three others we did together really helped us grow closer together as a couple. It was working with Leah on those retreats that I realized she’s one of the few people who can keep up with my scattered way of thinking and quick (but often lame) sense of humor. We made an awesome team and I knew it was a team I wanted to be part of for a long time. Camp is also the place where we really started to cultivate the spiritual side of our relationship. During the summer of 2010, when I was on summer staff, Leah spent three different weeks out there and we took that time to start doing devotions together.

Leah and I got engaged in the summer of 2011 and married in the summer of 2012. Delanco Camp played a huge part in bringing us together and shaping us into the spouses that God knew we both needed. Camp is still a big part of our lives and we are excited for what God has in store for both us.

Remember to be nice to your fellow campers and staff members (regardless of how they smell at the time). You never know who you will end up marrying.

Read our previous installments in our annual Love at Lake Agape series