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Archive for the ‘Random Rants or Realizations’ Category

I’m about to throw so much nautical imagery at you. #sorrynotsorry

There’s a quote that I’ve known of for years, but I’ve never really questioned it or picked it apart until the past few days.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John August Shedd

On the surface, it’s a real ‘that’ll preach!’ quote, right? Ships are meant for going out on the open water and carrying out a purpose. The vessel for the fisherman to have his days work, the home away from home for cruise guests, the transportation for carrying various goods from one port to another. So yeah, ships are made to be out on the open water, accomplishing a purpose.

This quote is so often given as a charge to people when they face fear, doubt, adversity, and hard times.

In the Christian community I’ve seen it used time and time again for each of those above situations as an encouragement to weary and overwhelmed individuals, looking for hope to press on in their journey as the vessel that carries out the purpose.

It’s fired me up a time or two when I’ve felt down. I’ve thought “hey, I was made for more than this – I can do this.”

Recently, though? I’m feeling a little unsure of offering up this quote as something that should empower.

Look at my thought process above “hey, I was made for more than this – I can do this.”

It’s all in my strength.

And sometimes, we just don’t have the strength.

We become overwhelmed and exhausted.

We need rest but continue to press on because ‘ships are safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships were made for.’

But, did you catch that first part of the actual quote at the top? A ship is safe in harbor.

And I think with all the challenges we face in life, sometimes we need a safe place.

Christians come from all types of backgrounds – abused and abusers,  high horses and lowly broken places, picture perfect lives and obvious shambles. Sometimes we need safety from our past – sometimes we need safety from who we used to be – quite honestly sometimes we need a safe place from who we have become.

When it becomes more about us – and us carrying out a task – it becomes less about Jesus. And when we don’t meet Him for rest and safety – we forget this mission is not about us but about making great the name of Jesus.

And if it was about us? Well wouldn’t that just make you feel so defeated – because you can’t do it, you don’t have the strength to.

And so, maybe, maybe sometimes we need safety.

Sometimes we need that rest.

Sometimes, we need the harbor.

And sometimes without the place of rest and refueling, we lose sight of Who is guiding the vessel – and we try to guide it ourselves. I know I have given myself undue credit  in the Big Picture and so I’ve got to believe maybe you have, too.

Part of being that vessel is accepting the humble position that you are part of the process, not the entire process or even the organizer of the process.

And sometimes, we need to humble ourselves with taking a step back – we need to head to the harbor. We need to be less about the purpose and more about the One Who Purposes us.

We wrongfully empower ourselves, and sometimes wrongfully empower others, when we charge someone with the notion that they were made to do greater things when they feel like they can’t accomplish anything of greatness at the moment. We don’t direct them to the harbor to rest and remember the Overseer of the whole things – we try to own it ourselves.

But we need the harbor.

We weren’t made to stay there forever, no. And when you pause for rest, you still need to be proactive in your pursuit of your God given purpose. But if we never dock-in, we end up running off our own fumes of exhaustion and overcompensating – and we miss it.

Don’t miss that you’re the vessel – not the commander – and the vessel has to lean in to what the commander asks of them. Sometimes, that’s to push past fear and doubt and carry out the mission in rough waters and the unseen shoreline that we’re promised to reach at the end of it all. Sometimes, though, I do think we’ve got to scale back and find rest.

In Matthew 11 the Bible says “28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When you feel burdened do you seek your own strength to finish out the task because you believe its through your strength the task is carried out? Or do you seek the One who offers gentleness and rest in our soul in exchange for us surrendering our part in carrying the burden – and our admitting that we can do nothing apart from relinquishing it all to the Lord.

So, yes, you were made to be out on the waters of purpose – but the harbor is not something to be ignored, it was created with a purpose. Rest in the Lord is essential. Don’t lose sight of that.

Wishing you rest and peace,

a fellow ship in these sometimes hectic waters

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Brooklyn loves to figure things out. She is constantly asking questions.

Every time we listen to music she wants to know “what is this song about?”

We always listen to “Christian” music (in quotes because…can music be saved? no…lol) in my car. So, generally the songs are about God.

Typically our conversation starts like this:

B: Mommy, what’s this song about?

Me: God

B: But it doesn’t say God

She’s usually right, because she knows almost all of the songs on the radio by heart, she knows which ones actually say the word God in them.

After she says that I try to find a way to explain how the song can still be about God without actually saying God. Ya know, like, God can be talked about in terms of “He” just like Brooklyn is a “she”, or Brooklyn is a daughter and God is a father. We’ll talk about specific attributes of God that are mentioned in the song that give us a clue this song is about God because the bible tells us these attributes are part of who God is…etc.

So, just as some songs don’t say God but are about God, that’s a way we can think about the way we interact with people and how to discern others interactions with us. We can’t fault those that haven’t been truly changed by Christ for not acting like Christ, but we can respond to them and our response should be Christ filled.

So these music conversations have given us a chance to talk about the way we handle friendships in this house too. She’s not unaware of the idea of being included and the idea of being left out (even at 3 years old, so sad). She’s caught on to other people not treating people (her) the way that she’s encouraged to treat people. I try to remind her that not everyone knows that God loves them and everyone struggles with sin and if we don’t take care of the sin in our heart it is very hard to be about God. Just like any song can say the word God, we have to look at the song as a whole to figure out what it’s actually about…it is the same with humans.

We can say anything with our lips but our actions are the reflection of our heart.

Explaining this to a three year old is time consuming, challenging, but so precious at the same time. Her curious mind really ministers to my heart more than she will ever know. She is not quite aware that some of the things she’s just now being introduced to in regards to human interaction are potentially lifelong struggles for women, and definitely a personal struggle of mine. I feel the gentleness of God working on my heart through the curious mind of my child, and it is incredible to become aware of the intimate ways God speaks to me. My deepest love on this earth is for my husband, but my most convicting love on this earth is for my children. By that I mean, Joseph is a believer and so his spiritual life is not my responsibility but as Brooklyn and Timothy’s parents, Joseph and I both feel a strong sense of responsibility to teach them who God is and what He is about, and since I am home with them a majority of the time, I really feel a conviction about teaching them these things as early as I see they are ready in a way that makes sense to them at the time. So, when I am taking opportunities to share some truth with Brooklyn, it really comes full circle when God teaches me through me teaching Brooklyn.

Someone may not have to quote scripture or profess Christ to you for you to know they are about God. Though this doesn’t happen in music often, the inverse of this can be true too, and it’s a harsh truth: sometimes those who say so much about God are not about God. They are about themselves.

We’ve all probably grown up with the phrase “actions speak louder than words”.

The bible’s take on this:

Matthew 7:17-18

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”

So, although with your lips you may say the things of God, what are you doing with your actions in your life? Are you being loving? Inclusive? Are you a servant? Do you seek out what benefits you or others? Are you humble? Are you kind? Do you seek to be good to all or just some?

The fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

These fruits aren’t just for those in your ‘inner circle’, if you find you only can excercise these fruits to certain people on your “approved” list, it might be time for a heart check.

This is something I have to do often for myself.

It’s hard being around people who “say God”, as Brooklyn would say, but aren’t about God. When in those situations, and you’ve heart checked your own self, rest in the fact that though you may not be ‘enough’ to some, you are so enough to God.

Haven’t left a little song for you lately, so here is the initial song that brought about this whole convo… it doesn’t say God 😉 but it says you are enough, God’s greater than any greatness you could ever want or need.

MercyMe- Greater

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I feel like every ounce of emotion in my body is resting on the surface of my skin lately and the slightest tension from any part of life awakens it to a roaring fire.

I haven’t been feeling like myself much. In mind, more than anything, but also you know – my body is overtaken by a child currently :), and that always adds something to the mix.

I guess I have been overwhelmed. For good reason, we have a lot of changes going on in our life.

I have spent a good many of my relationships as a mediator or “bouncer off of thoughts, emotions, and situations”, haha – is there a word for that? People text or call me when they go through stuff, and I pray, listen, sympathize, empathize, and love. I have great people in my life that assume the same role for me, I am just not as good at opening up? Sometimes I am not used to being the one who needs to take a rest from everything and letting myself just be in a moment, or not constantly dwell on what is to come but just get through what is today or maybe even admit that if I don’t get through my list of things to do, places to be, or situations to resolve that the world isn’t going to end.

Through attempting to rest and process so that I can better be equipped for the days ahead in parenting another child, continuation of parenting my sweet girl, attempting to sell our house/find out where we will live next, friends and family going through other struggles, I’ve been sitting here listening to music and dwelling on scripture. It’s really the only escape that will bring any sort of peace, and yet it’s usually the last thing we as humans want to turn to – it’s a quick fix to just indulge in a unhealthy dessert or call your friend and vent or ignore and push on. I still think there is so much about being instructed to “Be still” in scripture, and I will never fully understand it, but it hits me so much sometimes how much I do not stay still. In mind and heart, at least.

In my stillness tonight I have been listening to John Mark McMillan’s “Carbon Ribs”. I may have listened to it half a dozen times so far tonight and who knows how many more times I will let it play in my ears.

There are some lines that really resonate with where I am in life right now, and where most people find themselves a time or two I’d imagine…

“A thousand miles of pain I’m sure
Led you to the threshold of my hearts screen door
To tell me what it is I’m dying for

Gravity comes like a cold cold Rain
To lead me to the rope again but someone is standing in my place

Cause I’m a dead man now
With a ghost who lives
Within the confines of
These carbon ribs
And one day when I’m free
I will sit
The cripple at your table
The cripple by your side”

It’s such a beautiful picture of Jesus’ pursuit of us. An unimaginable amount of pain tormented His body so that He could pursue me to tell me I am a slave to these dead things: worry, anxiety, stress, relief through indulging in worldly things and that in fact I am dead myself, and that everyday I head back to this rope to be strangled by these things over and over. And Jesus is constantly quietly calling me or loudly beckoning me to let Him take over all of these things, because I don’t have to die everyday. It’s a choice I make, and so I put myself in harms way and choose a life of being overwhelmed, when I can be free from these things and just let my crippled self sit beside Him while He works through each thought I have and bring life to the lifelessness I create for myself. The only way to be alive is to fully hand over that everyday journey towards death and let Someone else abide inside. I can’t really find healing in all of my ailments until I admit I am the cripple and need Someone else to take over and dwell.

When you become a believer, it’s true that your sins are forgiven – past, present, future, forever. However, everyday we still must submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus, and that is where I think most of us struggle. We get caught up in our own “ability” (seeming ability, we really have none…) and we find ourselves dwelling in situations and emotions that could be completely avoided if we would just choose everyday to admit we need help.

How comforting is it that I can just be still, be broken, and I don’t have to worry about fixing everything or being perfect at everything or being everything to everyone. I can never be the perfect spouse, mother, daughter, friend, etc. When you get caught up in being the ‘fixer’ of everything, you hardly allow yourself to admit you are broken and flawed. “Being still” is a way to accept that you aren’t going to go run around trying to act like you have it all together, sometimes you just need to be still and accept your ‘crippled ailment’ whatever it may be and allow Jesus to take on one of the many roles He embodies: Healer.

Thankful to find peace in this song tonight and for the perspective that embracing the broken is embracing the Healer’s position in my life. Going to try to make it a goal to find stillness with each new day I awake, so that I am not trying to start out my day alone, because I’m not alone. I have a Someone that ‘lives within the confines of these carbon ribs’.

For more on John Mark McMillans take on this song, check out his thoughts: “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3xlT1P5E7E”></a&gt;

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I’m a big advocate of friendship. Intentional relationships.

I have not always been this way.

I spent the better part of the last few years not really opening up to many people because I feared being hurt.

Most of my childhood friendships ended poorly for whatever reason: dishonesty, different places in life, different beliefs, etc. So I had kind of reached a point in my life shortly after I entered marriage where I just figured I would never be one of those people that has ‘good’ friends. I would just interact around people when necessary and then confide in and find enjoyment in my husband/parents/siblings and I had learned to be somewhat satisfied with that.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, over the past almost three years of marriage, I can think of two times that we hung out with ‘my’ friends. Every other time we have been in the company of other people that aren’t family, it has been ‘Joseph’s’ friends. Which, obviously I have grown closer to over the years. I’m not really talking about casual friends. You can pick up and go to coffee with anyone and talk about the weather and what’s on sale at the store. I have a lot of casual friends.

It has really only been in the last 6 months that I have found real, true friendship. The kind of friends that you can tell your ridiculous dreams to and they make you feel like they are possible, or that you can tell your most hurtful stories and they love you through them. Those kind.

In retrospect, the world {and even church, sometimes} hasn’t offered much for what a healthy friendship should look like. We live in a feel good world, where everyone wants to just walk around feeling like they are the best presentation of themselves that they will ever be. We live in a world of acceptance with no intention for change. I am all for accepting people as they are, but there is another component of friendship that I’m afraid is dying, you want to continue to try and make yourself a better person. So many people, I feel, are plagued with contentment.

So now that I have- what I feel like is- an abundance of genuine friendships, I’d kind of like to shed light on the kind of friends I feel everyone should have, and I feel really blessed to have these in my life. I’m only going to reference four types, although there are more, and many names that I won’t mention. These are just the people that fit my examples best.

First, you need a warrior. You need someone who is willing to fight for you. By that I mean, sometimes you have days where you feel like no one is on your side. You need someone who you can dump your bad day on that will say “hey! I am here for you”. Your warrior is a source of strength when you are feeling weak. A warrior is someone with a fierceness about them that makes you feel like even if only your warrior is confident in you, no one else needs to be. My friend Christa is my warrior. She’s kind of empowering when she speaks, she’s studying Hebrew as part of her masters track for school and so she is really into words and language, which I can appreciate, so she is constantly charging me with words to remind me of the One who fights for me and goes before me.

You need a challenger. Sometimes you need someone to keep you in check. Sometimes you need someone to tell you like it is, even if you don’t want to hear it. Sometimes you need someone to spiritually slap you but tell you it’s out of love. I can’t tell you how often I need to be kept in check. 🙂 I have a little bit of a…anger issue? Hehe. I can go from 0 to 60 on a scale of fine to crazy really fast. Your challenger stops you in your tracks, tells you to grow up a little, and offers a healthier perspective than the one you’re offering yourself. My friend Katie is my challenger. She reminds me of the big picture, she reminds me to approach things with humility, she challenges me to live in truth.

You need a thinker. People like me, who have crazy analytical minds, need a friend who is willing to think with them and listen to their thoughts. You need someone to flesh out the ideas of your mind. Everyone thinks, but not everyone is a thinker. A thinker is someone who carefully considers all sides of everything, not just dumps out a thought. A thinker takes a five minute conversation and turns it into a 5 hour discussion. Natalie is my thinker. She sits with me for hours, at my house…her house…the park…and just talks life with me. We discuss anything from love, religion, spirituality, family, children, food {dessert :)}, politics, fashion, people, etc. The thing about having a thinker friend that is so important, is it creates a role for me to be needed. Discussing is a two way street, and so having Natalie in my life has allowed me to be part of a balanced friendship, we talk back and forth and mutually find enjoyment in our friendship. Which is really rare, many ‘friendships’ that I’ve witnessed or been a part of are so one sided. It’s great to find balance.

Lastly, you need a relater. You need to be in constant conversation with someone that ‘gets you’, someone that is walking or has walked a similar path you are on. They are the person that at the end of the day, they make you feel normal and validate your feelings because they experience the same things and feel the same way. The relater is often the encourager too, because they remind you that someone else is surviving and thriving in the same situations. Sarah is my relater. She is a source of comfort to me in hard times, and our similarities that constantly reveal themselves make me laugh too, I mean – we even ordered the exact same meal the other night. 🙂

The thing about these four friendships, is that lacking one throws off the balance of the others. Not everyone has these friendships, I know that full well because I have not always had these types of friends. Sometimes they manifest themselves differently, too. Somedays you may have a friend that fulfills all four of these categories. Somedays you may be lacking any of them.

When you seek out people with the intention of creating a friendship, don’t just look for people who are similar to you or for people that make you feel good. Look for people who will continually make you a better person.

I am so thankful these friends, amongst others, have been brought into this season of my life.

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honestly, it is a million degrees in my office.

that may be a slight fabrication.

it is so hot that I was hardly able to hit the shift + i to make that a capitol I.

people. I am preggo and the a/c is not workin. what to do, what to do.

tomorrow, I may bring a fan to work. or a small kiddie pool. although I think my boss would appreciate the fan attempt first.

not much new to update on brooklyn. she’s growing at a good pace, her head is positioned down, she squirms all the time. at my last appt I measured a week early (putting her arrival right about Joseph’s bday – June 9), but no change of due date yet.

we had a baby shower with our family that I am wanting to blog about, but I want to blog about my showers at one time…so that post will not come until later. ooo Pop Pop (aka rob aka dad) painted the nursery and it looks MARVELOUS. almost ready to move her things into. speaking of her things: marley thought brooklyn’s stuffed giraffe was his stuffed giraffe. he was wrong. sanitize. sanitize. sanitize. that will be my life for the next un-countable days.

love to all – and can I get some a/c????

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Alrighty, I’ve been avoiding this.

However, it’s become beyond necessary that I post about this.

So, listening ears on people, I have some things to say.

I’m 25 weeks along now, but I need to fill you in on some things in the last 5 weeks.

At our 20 week appointment we found out about our little girl!! However, we also found out a little bit of other information. The doctor let us know that she found a spot on the baby’s heart that she wanted us to see a specialist about. Since our girl was snoozing through this appointment, they couldn’t get a great look at her heart, so she didn’t give us too much information since she couldn’t see a whole lot, she did tell us though that it be a small marker for a chromosome disorder but that it was probably nothing since my blood work had been good for all of those chromosome tests (For those that know what a first-trimester-screening is, I had one done around 12 weeks, so that we could have one extra ultrasound, tee hee). In hindsight, I’m glad that I had that blood test done, that only helped set my mind at ease about this upcoming appointment.

At 23 weeks we met with the specialist and had a ultrasound that I promise lasted almost two hours. Haha. I even got a “tummy break” where the tech let me just lay there for a little bit, because the poking around was getting tiring and I was sore!! As per usual, our little girl was snoozing away, but it was okay this time, because she was sitting (hanging? floating?) in a good position for us to get some great shots of her heart. We met with the doctor who said the spot could be a few things…I won’t go in to a terrible amount of detail, it’s kind of unnecessary at this point, because there is so much ‘unknown’ still, but the two main things are still a chromosome disorder or a tumor on her heart. Anyways, after we met with the doctor he said he wanted to see us again when I am 28 weeks, so that little girl can grow some more and we can get a better look at her heart. He left me with the words that if it was his child, he wouldn’t worry. BAH. He was such a nice and thorough doctor, but I wanted to roll my eyes at that comment. I appreciated his words, but they didn’t really stick to me – other than wanting to throw back a “yeah right”.

We left that appointment and I didn’t really know what to feel. There was nothing specifically pinned down yet about what this spot is or means, and there is still a chance that it could be nothing more than a calcium deposit (which is completely harmless). I cried some, I looked out the window on the drive home, I sat in my husband’s arms for a little bit when we got home.

I felt sad for the next few days, mulling around on these feelings I had, not really knowing what direction my mind would take me. I’m not even a full-fledged mother yet, and my little girl is already facing things out of mom’s control.

I wasn’t crazy about telling anyone, I told my parents /sisters but that was about it. After a day or two of going crazy, I told Joseph I felt like I needed to speak up to some people I can count on to pray for us- he said to do what I needed to do, he is a open book…he can talk about anything in front of anyone, I tend to be more closed off. I appreciate how much he looks out for me, because he kept quiet too, at my request.

I sent out a facebook message to a few people asking for prayer. I didn’t really know what to pray for (funny, the Bible addresses that, Romans 8, check it out) but I knew our family needed prayer. I decided to ask for prayers of peace. I semi-wanted to ask for prayers of healing…I want that dang spot gone…is what I wanted to say. I received several encouraging messages and had some good face-to-face conversations with people that have really poured into my life.

All of these things were great, but through my “thank you for thinking of us” and “it really helps to hear those words”, I knew on the inside I was still battling sadness.

It wasn’t until I heard a song on my drive home from work, until I really started to feel relief from these feelings…more on that in a few minutes.

Today I received a message in my inbox from my friend Kathryn..she has been praying for us and talking to me all throughout my pregnancy. She doesn’t live near me, we’ve never really hung out (unless you count when she used to babysit me, haha), we don’t have some long dated friendship- but entering into Mommy world has brought her extremely close to me. It is neat how God places people in your life, at the exact time you need them.

Anyways, she sent me a message, about a family dealing with an extremely similar situation…I stopped in my tracks reading the person’s blog she sent me that is a friend of hers: http://3berrysrrandw.blogspot.com/ I feel ok posting their link, they are being vocal about it, and are leading me to open up…and I know that God has placed Kathryn in both my life and her friends life, to further bring together this puzzle of life that we are a part of.

If I had read this blog a few weeks ago, I would have been more depressed…felt sad…and wanted to sit in my closet and cry for their family.

If you remember a few lines ago, where I said a song ministered to me, I’d like to get back to that part of the story. I responded to Kathryn’s message, letting her know I appreciated her sending me that blog and went on to tell her about what God had been revealing to me.

I don’t know how to write it any other way than I did to her, so I’ll just copy and paste parts of the message I wrote back:

“Let me tell you, the first several days post-news were rough. I was feeling depressed and like I wanted to hide in a hole. How mature of your friend to not go in a google frenzy, that may have been what did me in. Our doctor shared a lot of details with us, and so I think the combination of that plus my own fears send me straight for the internet. I applaud her for not doing that, and I am sure her mind is appreciating that, too. She seems very wise and strong.

So, like I was saying, I had been pretty emotional…then I was driving home from work one day and this Natalie Grant song came on. This is kind of weird side story, but a few years ago I was journaling out what I wanted said/played at my funeral. Don’t ask me why, haha, I’m just weird like that. Anyways, one of the songs I wanted played was “In Better Hands” by Natalie Grant. Well low and behold this song I’ve heard a million times comes on in the car. Originally, I loved this song because it gives such hope to those in troubled times, and death happens to be one of those troubling things for those dealing with someone they know dying. So my thought was, these lyrics could really minister to someone to remind them that when I pass, I am in better hands…and so they don’t need to worry about that.

Well…as I was listening to the song…this lyric came on and it hit me like a brick “Take this heart of mine, there’s no doubt, I’m in better hands now” All of the sudden these tears fill my eyes and I felt like God was letting my little girl speak thru the radio to me. It was like she was loud and clear saying “MOM! Did you hear what that said? That’s me talking. My heart. His hands. It’s better there. You always talk about God and how things are better in His hands, my heart is His before it is yours, my life is His before it is yours. Believe that.” And so, that is what I have to do. I have to believe that, and not look back. I have to not just say it, but mean it. I have to know that no matter the outcome, her sweet heart is not mine but His, and He has a plan. So that is what I seek to do every day now. I think it is awesome God used such a important song to me already, and to show me it’s purpose, when I had originally assigned it to another part of my life.

Our next appointment is scheduled for March 22, so this will be our next look at what is going on. I coincidentally have my glucose test that week, and then we are hosting students at our house that weekend for Disciple Now. So, I know that God is already setting me up to put my Faith into action either way. Either way, those students will be at my house, and no matter the outcome of that big week at the doctor’s office, I will need to live out what I say- that His plan is 543980 times better than mine.”

And that is what is going on in our lives. God is using this little girl to stretch my faith further than it ever has before, He is using people I don’t see to minister to me, and a family I don’t even know to remind me that in this life we are not alone and through that He is also reminding me of His COMPLETE control in our lives. In her life. In life in general.

I’m glad Kathryn shared this family with me, yet another one of those “thanks God” moments, where just days after I have been able to process and proclaim my faith…He then says “You are not alone.” Had he said that before, I’m not sure that I would’ve listened.

His timing is perfect. Please know that.

Thanks for listening.

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Camp

I haven’t blogged in quite some time.

I’ve never been one of those people who writes just to simply take up time inbetween meaningful posts.

I tend to only write {on the blog} when I have something to say.

If you have known me, oh, for the last…twenty four hours to eleven years, you would know how much I love Camp Paradise {Hickory Groves Student Camp}.

There have been many seasons of my life that have taken place at that camp and it is still not completely reality that I do not get to go with everyone next week. Sometimes when you have something that hold such consistency in your life, you forget how much it means to you until it is stripped from you.

There are several memories and life lessons that I’ve passed through while in attendance at camp, as a student or a leader.

I’ve found myself dreaming about it lately, vivid dreams of highlights of years gone by.

I remember the first year I went to camp, I had never been away from home for that long (a whole week- woo hoo). I was nervous and scared, but glad that I had some friends with me. I remember a very long bus ride to Florida in which I am sure I annoyed Jordan Spicer every 10 seconds about our semi-dramatic middle school “relationship”. Haha. That camp was gross (we have since then changed locations)! I remember how when I walked into my cabin for the first time it looked more like a room that housed people sent off to boot camp rather than sugar-filled middle school and high schoolers. I remember almost getting thrown in the lake by Justin Williams and then lying and saying I had a cell phone in my pocket (I didn’t, but I stayed dry :] ).

In seventh grade I remember I finally rode the tubes, and quickly learned that was most likely not going to be my favorite thing about camp. They were good for two things: scaring the crap out of you and a secret hand holding session with your crush of the week.

In eighth grade I remember wearing everyones clothes except mine. See, before the week of camp Erin and I would call each other and divy up who brings what (curling iron, hair dryer, shampoo, etc) then we would always make sure each of us brought our entire closet, not kidding. I still do not know why it was necessary for us to have 27 shirts each, but it was- I promise. Other than the intense amount of clothes busting from my bag, I remember how much worship music affected my life that year. I think it was one of the first times I “let loose” in a service and allowed myself to raise my hands in praise to God and to let the tears fall when they needed to.

I was so excited to go to camp as a “cool high schooler” my 9th grade year. My leaders that year were Lisa Roberts and Chad Keith. They were hands down the best leaders I have ever had. Lisa was such a “cool” mom (much like mine), willing to really listen when you needed to speak. Chad was so in tune with his Bible and really shared from his heart about submitting to God’s will for your life. I was encouraged. I was also on the “creative movement team” that year, haha, I’m sure we felt like we were the coolest people alive.I also remember unfortunately pulling my hamstring that year, whatever- it wasn’t unfortunate…I hated land rec! I met Brian Queen for the first time at camp that year, after I had pulled my hamstring I was just sitting on the steps behind Rasts (spelling?) hall by myself, and he came over and introduced himself and prayed for my hamstring. I always thought that was neat, sometimes when I was growing up I felt like an oddball, so it made me feel cool that someone would take time out of their day to pray for me. I remember a lot of people praying for me that year, because it was a year that my faith was truly awakening. I remember being out by the lake with Josh Trent and he prayed that as I started high school I would stay consistently strong in my faith and not allow the newness of what I was feeling to wear off just a few weeks after camp. I remember sending countless “encouragrams” back and forth to Meredith, we really bonded that year.

My sophomore year I mainly remember I chose not to sneak out at night and therefore am never held accountable for that dang golf cart that got wrecked, haha! I also remember meeting Joseph that year. We annoyed each other. He was a leader and was in my group and he was so LOUD! At the end of that camp we all swapped screen names (haha, doesn’t that take you back?) and I think I stalked him for the next three weeks- guess it worked.

My junior year I realized how “at home” camp felt to me. I began to know that place like the back of my hand. Clint Pressley visited camp for at least a day that year, he let students come put their names in his journal and pledged to pray for their names daily for a year- the vision of students signing the book is still etched in my brain. I have no doubt he kept his word. I began understanding how much adults could really influence students. So many people took their vacation, paid or not, to spend loving on us and sometimes we didn’t even appreciate it.

My senior year I felt a little bit like a black sheep. I had decided to be a leader that year instead of going as a camper, and although that is the norm now- I was one of the first to break the mold into that happening. I had a very energetic group of middle schoolers, one who just graduated from high school- congrats Jeffery Tanner! I remember feeling so humbled, I was all the sudden this person that could be a part of making camp such an influential part of a persons life, like it had become to me. I am so happy I got to lead that year, I really needed that to keep me rooted in my faith before starting college.

After my freshman year of college I returned as a leader, this time I joined the hospitality team, and I haven’t looked back sense (thanks to Shelly Edwards and now Teresa Glenn being such great leaders). I fell into my nitch this year.  A lot of people probably see hospitality and wonder what the heck we do, and why that kind of team is necessary. I may have even wondered that before I joined the team. I have never seen such a group of women to serve without complaining about what their hair looked like or how much they were sweating. From the 235 million (it seemed like) bags of ice to be carried, or countless coolers of gatorade to mix (and make sure you don’t get the dirt on you into the cooler….), or sometimes “diva” band members that have special request and requiring another trip to walmart after you just returned from the 15 minute drive into town…these women rocked it with a smile on their face- and kept me coming back!

After my sophomore year of college, this camp I remember more vividly than any other camp. It was such a hard year. Erin’s dad had just passed away and we were all emotionally spent. She and I stayed up every night really late- talking, reminiscing, crying. Although we were both leaders at this camp, I know that we needed the message just as much as the most unsaved person there. I remember watching Erin throughout some of the nightly services and how intently she was listening- I know she was blank and broken that week, I know God was speaking to her. He was also speaking to me, reminding me yet again, of how you never know how much time you have to influence people, so you need to take advantage of the time you have.

Finally, last year, the year after my junior year of college, I had one of the most fun times at camp that I had ever had. I was newly engaged and excited about it, my sidekick for life Erin was there, and I got to interract with Blair a lot at camp. It was neat to see Blair in places I had been before, working through life’s situations and finding yourself at summer camp away from the busyness of back home really opening up time for you to evaluate where you at in your life. I hope she continues to let the Lord speak to her, as I know He will this year. Also, the leaders had the most FUN dance party late one night, if you haven’t seen the video…. there it is.

That brings me to this year, camp is in a few short days and this is the first time in 11 years I won’t be there. I know that many more of these memories will be made, but I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that God needs me home this year. Not sure of the reason, but I trust that He is not allowing me to go for some reason, beyond that – I want you to realize that if you are going He wants you there for a reason…so please open up your heart for Him to show you that reason (student or adult). Don’t take this week as just a week to have fun. I hope that all who are able to go realize what a blessing it is to have all of the resources available to you for a whole week: speaker, biblical study, team building with your peers, and adults that really do care about you. I cannot wait to hear about all God will do this year, and I will miss all of my campers very much!

Until then….

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