Tuesday, June 21, 2016

On Interactions with People

     Our third group of campers has left, and our fourth group is already here. I started engaging more with the campers from the last group. We went on a hike up Seneca Rocks in West Virginia. Once on top of the peak, we sang worship songs and marveled at the power, creativity, and beauty of our Lord. (I will try to upload some pictures and maybe a video later.)

     While we were eating lunch at the park there, one of the girls from the group approached me and started up a conversation. Talking with her made me realize that I'm not just here to volunteer in a kitchen for the summer, but that I am privileged with the task of aiding the Lord's work in the hearts of every person who walks through the doors of our Lodge. I also realized that in order to do that, I have to offer more of myself than just a smile in the lunch line; I have to be intentional about seeking out opportunities to connect with the campers. If I hope for them to be vulnerable with the Lord and with me, then I too must be vulnerable with them.

      After a girls' day, we had a Bible study in which one special woman shared her testimony. She had been quiet and somewhat reserved throughout the week, and had at first been unwilling to share because she didn't like talking to groups. The Lord impressed upon her that she should, however, so she submitted. God used that to speak to many of the girls, including me. I was reading Philippians 1 again recently. In verses 12-20, Paul is saying that if being in prison (experiencing trials) would ultimately benefit those around him spiritually, then he is glad to endure it for the greater progress of the gospel. Some of the struggles the woman had shared about I had similar experiences with, so while girls were waiting to talk to her about their lives, I decided to try to talk to one particular girl. She was unwilling at first, but as I started sharing things in my life, she began to open up to me. We found we have a lot in common, starting with our name and going from there. That conversation ended up lasting for about an hour and a half, and I am very grateful for it.

     One thing I keep praying is that God would help me to see people as people. That probably sounds a little silly. I forget that others have struggles, doubts, insecurities, and feelings just like I do. I always assume that I am the only one who is broken, that everyone else has it together. But if that were true, then Jesus would not have had to die. Truth is, no one has it together, and everyone needs to be loved and shown grace. But I forget. I want to see people as Christ sees them. I want to love as Christ would. And I have to give of myself in order to do that. Because every single person has been purchased with the most valuable currency; the blood of Christ. They are precious to Him, and they should be to me, too.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, June 13, 2016

Being Broken Before the Lord

     I know it's been more than a week since my last post, but things have been pretty busy around here. Two groups of campers have already come and gone, and a third group is just starting their time here. I've been working in the kitchen a lot, which is enjoyable for the most part. I've also become an expert at weed trimming and push mowing, and I have worked for a few hours on both a turkey farm and a strawberry farm. During breaks, I got to play some games with the groups, including Mafia, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and ultimate musical chairs.

     I've been having a few panic attacks these past couple of weeks, and while they're awful and exhausting, I have learned much through them. They always leave me feeling broken in the sense that I don't work right; that I don't function as I should. I hate being broken. Sometimes they're so bad that I have to take half or even a whole day off, and I hate not being able to keep up with everyone else. I talked with a friend about it one evening, and she encouraged me to read Isaiah 61 and 62. Those two chapters talk about how God is near to the brokenhearted, and He redeems that which is lost and desolate. That's something that He delights in doing. He is a Savior, a Healer, and a Lover; so I should let Him save me, heal me, and love me. But I have to first be broken in order to be fixed.

     I've always been afraid that I'm too broken for someone to handle; that in my weakness, I am too needy. But, "His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness." While I was thinking about this verse, a song came to mind. ("Always Enough," by Casting Crowns)

          "Your love is peace to the broken,
            Faith for the widow
            Hope for the orphan,
            Strength for the weak
            Your love is the anthem of nations
            Rings out through the ages
           And You're always enough for me."

     I thought a lot about the last line. If God is always enough for me, then that means that I am never too much for Him. Here are some other verses I found comforting.

"For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." --Psalm 51:16-17

"Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." --1 Peter 5:5-7

"This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid, for what can man do to me? Your vows are binding upon me, O God; I will render thank offerings to You. For You have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before You in the light of life." --Psalm 57:9-13

     I just found a song yesterday after having a mini breakdown that has been encouraging to me. It's called "Sparrows," and it's by Jason Gray. I'll end this post with the lyrics.

          "You can't add a single day by worrying
           You'll worry your life away
           Oh don't worry your life away
          You can't change a single thing by freaking out
           It's just gonna close you in
           Oh don't let the trouble win

           You may feel alone
           But you're not on your own

          If He can hold the world He can hold this moment
          Not a field or flower escapes His notice
          Oh even the sparrow
          Knows He holds tomorrow
          Lean in and it's hard to miss
          Everything can change
          When you make it His
          Oh He wants to carry it
          Carefree in the care of God
          When you let it go
          You'll find that He's enough
         Oh you never leave His love

          You don't walk alone


         There's not a single star that's out of place
         There's nothing broken He can't remake
         If you long for hope when you're afraid
         Oh look at the sparrow
         Look at the sparrow

Thanks for reading,

Monday, May 30, 2016

    I've completed a week at YDI Head Waters, though it seems more like I've been here for three. My days are a whole lot longer and fuller than they were in Florida. This week was spent training and preparing the camp for our first group of kids, who will arrive on Tuesday afternoon. For part of our training, we learned how to use and instruct in the use of high and low ropes courses, which included a rock wall, two ziplines, tightropes, a plunge off of a platform 40 feet off the ground, and several other things. We also went over basic camp policies and roles. Our motto here is "Blessed are the flexible." In preparation for the campers, we cleaned the lodge where they'll be staying, built some bunk beds and picnic tables, mowed and trimmed the grass, and washed all of the linens.

     In the middle of this week, I received word that a friend of mine had been murdered by her ex husband. Chores still had to be done, so I was forced to depend on the Lord to help me deal with all the emotions that come with news like that. I discovered Lamentations 3.

     "This I call to mind, therefore I have hope; the Lord's love and mercy indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Verses 21-23)
     The Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant love and mercy. For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men. (Verses 31-33)
     Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins? Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord." (Verses 37-40)

     I found great comfort in these verses, knowing that God is faithful, loving, and merciful, while I in comparison am not. Why should I offer complaint to Him who is good? But still I can come to Him and find rest and solace in Him. My heart is still grieved over the incident, and I wish I could hug her siblings. Many people online have suggested punishments for the man who killed my friend. I have realized that I don't need to have an opinion, and that I don't need to speculate about why or how or anything else. I do need to pray that the man will repent and come to know Jesus. My friend is safe with Him now, and her daughter will be raised in the faith by her remaining family. But this man is the one who will face ultimate judgment if he does not come to Christ, and He does not will that ANY should perish. Not even this man.

     Another major challenge for me this week has been meeting and working with new people. There were things to do from day one, so we jumped right in as a team to make sure everything got done. This forced us to get to know and trust each other right away. All relationships are hard for me, and I have to work to get along with people. In a group like the staff here, we have to be united. We can't let things like attitudes, impatience, or differing personalities get in the way. Sometimes people do rub me the wrong way, and I have to choose in that moment to take offense or not. Sometimes I do get offended, and I know God is displeased. When I start to get frustrated, I try to stop and consider a few things; is what I'm getting upset about really a significant issue? Am I biased in how I am perceiving this person (have I made judgments about their intent without being sure)? Is my attitude really the one that is wrong?

Even once these questions are answered, whether I am justified or not, I pray and ask that God would remove the negative feelings from my heart, and replace them with love, patience, and understanding. It's hard. But it's what He has called me to do. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." --Romans 12:18

That's my week in a nutshell. Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Waiting on the Lord

Hi Everyone,

While I'm in Virginia at Head Waters Lodge, I'll try to post weekly updates on this blog.

First I want to thank my church family at Calvary Chapel Palm City for helping me to get here. I'm glad that God brought me there five years ago. It's the longest I've ever been in one church, and I am thankful to have a place where I can take root and grow stronger in my walk with Christ. I want to thank you for supporting me both financially and morally in my desire to seek the Lord and to continue to grow in His ways.

While I was driving up here, a song came on the radio that I haven't heard in years. It's called "While I'm Waiting", by John Waller. I think it sums up my summer. Here are some of the lyrics, including the chorus.

"I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it's not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
And I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting, I will serve You
While I'm waiting, I will worship
While I'm waiting, I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait."

I view this summer as a chance for me to step back from the chaos of life and to wait on the Lord and see where He wants to take me next, both spiritually and physically. While I'm waiting on Him, though, I will continue to serve Him and to worship Him. I want to continue to run the race He has set before me even while I'm in a transitional stage in life. 

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." --Romans 12:1-2 

These verses sum up my aim this summer; to learn to live in a way that is pleasing and acceptable to God, to serve Him, and to have my mind renewed so that I may be transformed and can discern the will of God. 

I'm so excited to see what the Lord will do in and through me this summer, and I'll try to keep everyone posted with how things are going and what I am learning. Thanks for reading,


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Psalm 77:1-2,6-15

"I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and He will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?” Selah.
And I said, “It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your might among the peoples. You with Your arm redeemed Your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

"O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s a light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. ...His Word shall not fail you—He promised; believe Him, and all will be well: then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell!"

--Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, by Helen Lemmel.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It is Well with My Soul

Just wanted to share this hymn with all of you. This is my refrain as I go through these trials God has seen fit to bring me through.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well with my soul. 

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.