Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tarheel Leader Weekend 1.0: Riding Bikes

This weekend was the Tarheel Region Young Life Leader Retreat at Windy Gap in North Carolina. Windy Gap is one of my all-time favorite Young Life camps. It has a very special place in my heart with so many memories from high school and weekends spent on that beautiful property.

This weekend was truly incredible. I was able to relax and really begin to process what coming home from Timber Wolf meant and what it would look like. I learned a ton and I felt God in huge ways. Ty Saltzgiver was the speaker and he did a phenomenal job.

I will have another blog from this weekend I am sure, but for now, I want to share a parable that Ty shared with all of us. It's about riding a bike. And it is just a glimpse into everything I was learning this weekend.

"At first I saw God as my observer, my judge keeping track of the things I did wrong so as to know whether I merited Heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like the president. I recognized His picture when I saw it-- but I didn't really know Him. But later one, when I began to really know Jesus it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride-- but it was a tandem bike and I began to notice that Jesus was in the back helping me peddle.

I don't know just when it was that He suggested that we change places-- but I tell you LIFE has never been the same since. LIFE lived in a friendship with Jesus that is-- He makes LIFE so exciting.

When I had control, I knew the way and it was rather predictable. The shortest distance between two points was usually the path I took. But when Jesus took the lead, He knew delightful 'long cuts' up the mountains through rocky places at break neck speeds when all I could do was hang on to the bike. Even though it looked like madness-- He said, 'Peddle!'

I worried and I was anxious and I'd ask, 'Where are you taking me?' He'd laugh and He didn't answer. And I started to learn to trust in our friendship and living together. I forgot my boring life and I entered into His adventure. When I'd say, 'I'm scared', He'd lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed-- gifts of healing, gifts of acceptance, gifts of joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey-- that is our journey, Jesus and mine. And we were off again and He said, 'Give the gifts away. They are extra baggage-- too much weight.' And so I did. I gave to people we met along the way and I found that in giving I received even more and my burdens became light.

I did not trust Him at first to be in control of my life-- I thought He'd wreck it-- but He knows 'bike secrets'. He knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners-- to jump to clear high rocks-- to fly to shorten scary passages and I'm learning to just shut up and peddle into the strangest places and I am beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze in my face and my delightful constant companion-- my Lord, my true friends, my guide, my Jesus. When I am sure I just can't do it anymore, He smiles, looks back and says, 'Peddle.'"

This parable speaks so much truth to what it means to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ and to be surrendered completely to Him. It is the epitome of what it means to truly trust our Heavenly Father. 

This is just one part of an amazing weekend... so there is definitely more to come as a I process everything that Ty said and everything that the Lord is trying to reveal to me. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

10 Senior Year Rules to Live By

So supposedly I began my senior year today... at 8:00 AM. So that is weird. It was my last first day of class ever. It's kind of hitting me...

I only have one year left. And I want this to be the best year yet. I want this year to be big and full of life. 

I am daring myself to live a little differently this year... to not hold back and to really live. I have set 10 goals or guidelines for this year and I really hope to stick to them.

  1.  LIVE PASSIONATELY- I want this to be a year that I live with a passion behind everything that I do. I want to find the things I love and DO them. I want to serve the Lord with a passionate heart. I want to lead my Young Life team passionately. I want to throw my entire heart behind things and I want to passionately declare the Lord's name in all that I do... as you can see, I am all about the passion.
  2. LIVE FREELY- It is for freedom, that Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1) and I want to live like that. It's not every year that I am a 21-year-old senior at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill... but it is this year. I am at a point in my life where I am not tied down by a lot and I want to fully embrace that. I don't want to live this year confined by boundaries, but instead I want to run wild and free and experience the freedom that Christ intended for us.
  3. BE SPONTANEOUS- Road trip to Nashville? Why not? Fly to Chicago? Sure. Dance in the rain? You betcha. As T-Swift would say, "Drop everything now, meet me in the pouring rain..."
  4. GIVE EXTRAVAGANTLY- I want to be a person this year that is always giving. I want to be able to pour out from the overflow of Christ that is in me. I want to be giving of time to all of the people that are around me. The Lord has blessed me with so many incredible friendships and relationships and I want to give my time to those. I want to be able to truly value the people that are in my life by giving away of myself to them. In Luke 6:30 it says "give to everyone who asks of you" and I want to live that out this year. 
  5. DON'T MISS THE SMALL THINGS- One of the biggest things that I learned this summer was to appreciate the small things. In the small things of this summer I experienced the Lord in a completely new way and I felt so incredibly blessed. I want to fully take in Chapel Hill in the fall, the beauty of Saturday football games, the simplicity of coffee in the morning, and the joy of North Carolina weather. I don't want to miss those things at all... therefore, I am going to start another page on this blog where I will post one small thing from everyday that spoke to me. I want it to be a page that shows where I see God everyday.
  6. ADVENTURES- This one definitely relates a little bit to the spontaneity goal, but I do want to be adventurous this year. I want to experience God in nature by going on outdoor adventures. I live in one of the best states for outdoor recreation and I want to fully embrace that... so hiking, camping, fishing, fun, here I come!!!
  7. EXTEND GRACE DAILY- This is one goal that may be more challenging at times, but it is one that I know is extremely important. The grace that has been given to me by my Heavenly Father is immeasurable and because of that I must extend that grace back out. I want to keep short accounts and I want to live outside of myself.
  8. BE BOLD- Enough said.
  9. LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY AND ALWAYS- I am currently reading Love Does by Bob Goff and I am beginning to realize that I have a lot to learn on love and a lot of ways that I can improve loving people. Simply put, love does. Love moves things and love changes things and I want to love God, the people around me, my ECHHS  friends, my Young Life team, my Timber Wolf friends all around, and the world in such a new way. 
  10. NO EXPECTATIONS- I don't want to live with any expectations this year. My expectations will only limit God. The Lord has taught me that He knows far better than I do and that He has a plan far superior to my own, therefore, I will give my expectations to Him. My only expectation is that the Lord will be faithful.
Let's get it senior year. I'm ready for ya.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An Ode to Sweet Summertime

With only one week left here at Timber Wolf I feel as if it's appropriate to share all the happenings of this summer. It has been a memorable one to say the least.

So here is an ode to sweet summertime in northern Michigan, the place I have called my home for the past three months. It's an ode written in pictures and instagrams. Oh how I have adored this summer. My God is so wonderful.

Well hello, Pure Michigan! I entered this wonderful state from Indiana after visiting Amanda at Taylor University.
One of my first evenings here... Alex starring as Peach from Mario Kart. #laughsonlaughsonlaughs
Joey's America birthday party = kickball + belly laughing + dance party = BEST EVER.
Giant hampster ball led to a lot of pre-camper fun!
How can I not love them?!
The Muskrat Lake Cafe in downtown Lake City has become my home and favorite morning spot. I know all the waitresses and all the regular customers, of which I am one. This place will always have my heart.
Only the best friendly competition... Let it be known: Sushi and I dominated.
Intern Thrift Store Date Night. Enough Said.
And then there is the fateful day the interns make every single bed on camp.
These girls have seen me at my best and at my worst. I adore them and each of their hearts.
What an awesome day at Cindy and Don's house! This night will include some of my best memories of the summer.
All. Time. Favorite. Picture. Ever.
Bennett, Katie, Danielle, Sushi, Amanda, and I all went to the Detroit zoo... Felt like a kid again and my heart was so happy.
The polar bear exhibit was out of this world.
Such a wonderful day!
Meet Amanda. I have gotten to see this girl every single day this summer. I am so blessed.
First session some of the interns got to be stars in the Opera... somehow I got asked to help. Meet Bennett as the Blue Ox, me as Sugary Sue, and T.C. as Spicy Steve.
So the copier and I have never been friends... Thank you, T.C., for always coming to fix it.
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! Lake City is known for the "Greatest Fourth in the North"
One of the best days off ever... TRAVERSE CITY CHERRY FESTIVAL. Hello, carnival :)
The girls know how to have fun at a carnival. The ferris wheel and fast fast spinny ride will always have a place in my heart.
Yes, that is Fonda. And yes, we are in her trunk... for a drive-in movie at the Cherry Bowl theatre (aka most jank drive in).
The boys have loved us so so well :)
All the interns went tubing down the Manistee River for one day off. It is one of the most relaxing things in the world.
The Bachelorette has been a constant for all the girls of the Swamp. The finale had all the makings of a perfect evening... Jef + brownies + roses + Wesco. Best. Ever.
Thank you, Christina. She is the sweetest Bible Study leader and mentor who has loved us all so well.
Summer night adventures with the girls are the best... Ruby went offroading AND we found the sand dunes. So blessed to spend so many nights with these amazing girls.
And then I had the BEST 21st BIRTHDAY a girl could ever ask for... full of surprises, flowers, and best friends.
There is nothing like seeing Chapel Hill friends in the middle of the summer for Amanda's wedding! Sydney and I roadtripped to Cincinatti to see our dear mentor get married to Nick.
What a beautiful bride and a wonderful woman of Christ. So blessed to have her as my mentor.
Sydney and I adventured on our trip back to Timber Wolf and pit-stopped in Toledo for some fun!
All of the interns made our way to Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan. It was a tiring day but so incredibly beautiful.
Lisa came to visit!!! These are all the second-timer interns... much love to them all!
The rover is gonna rove.
#twl2k12 INTERNS.

These pictures cannot even begin to capture all of my favorite moments from this summer. This is just a peek at what this summer has been for me... so many wonderful memories with so many fantastic people. There are not pictures to document all that has happened this summer and all of the times that will forever be in my heart... like...

... the carnival every week with the most marvelous lights
... the fireworks that lit up the sky one night a week and blew kids minds
... all the Wesco trips made with the Wesco Crew (Amanda, T.C., Sush, Danielle, and I)
... the night of dancing in the pouring down rain
... the many evenings spent in the kitchen giving out pizzas to leaders
... the nights of star gazing from the back of the tundra
... the countless meals at Shay Station in Cadillac
... the prank wars
... the 8:00 am wake up call from Bennett to go running
... all the cups of coffee every morning
... the nights spent reading by Lake Missaukee
... all the kids that experienced the best week of their life and went from death to life
... the dance party in the cave
... the steam rolling
... the "daaannngittttt" moments
... the times of playing frisbee golf and hopelessly trying to improve
... the time we jumped in the lake fully clothed after burying T.C. and Bennett in the sand
... the great conversations with best friends
... the time Amanda and I beat T.C. at soccer
... the time T.C. and Sushi went to the Hollywood
... the assigned team parties
... the moments of worship and fellowship
... the property staff appreciation dinner
... all the times Kelly Cooper came to visit
... all of the breakfasts with Smusz
... the fateful morning all of camp lost power
... the time the girls made a music video singing to Hank's beard hair
... and all the moments that are to come in this last week

My God has been faithful. He has blessed us unbelievably here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

When the Glitter is Washed Away

This summer has been one that I will never forget. It has been a summer characterized by a loving God who has captured my heart completely and a summer full of glitter, sparkle, and pure excitement. The Lord has romanced me through all of the little things this summer and I have never felt so loved in my entire life. This summer has been covered with fireworks, smiles, sand dunes, carnivals, marvelous sunsets, true laughter, bubbles, and every thing wonderful. The Lord has consistently been wrapping His arms around me and showing me how much He loves me and adores me. He has met me over coffee, through Timber Wolf, through the people I am surrounded by, and He has put things on my heart that I had never imagined happening. When I look through my journal, I am overwhelmed by all the ways that I have experienced the Lord in such simple, yet extravagant ways this summer.

All of this glitter and sparkle has truly shown me the Lord this summer and has made me fall even more in love with Him. It has brought more joy in my life than I ever imagined.

But the glitter has been washed away the past week and things are not quite as sparkly.

A lot has been going on that has brushed away the glitter and has brought in a dullness and greyness that I never expected. It has now hit me that I leave Timber Wolf in two weeks for what could be forever. I don't know that I'll ever be back on this property... I hope that I will be, but there is no guarantee. This camp property has a piece of my heart that I will never get back. In two weeks I will also be leaving some of my best friends for a very very long time. I don't know that I'll ever get the chance to live with them again... and with them goes another piece of my heart. Along with the realization that I will be leaving in two weeks, a constant buzz of anxiety has fallen on my mind. I am always feeling slightly off and I can never identify why. I am in a constant internal battle with everything the Lord has done in my heart this summer and I never know exactly how I feel. Drew, the landscaping intern, broke his shoulder yesterday and left last night for good. He had to go home for orthopaedic appointments and it was heartbreaking to have him leave so suddenly. There aren't any more sparkles in that. The glitter has been washed away.

The past few days I have been mulling over all of this and these unidentifiable feelings and questions. I have been wrestling with God through countless hours spent by the lake reading and journaling, just trying to figure out what was changing. I have been frustrated by my changing attitude and my increased irritability.

But today, while sipping on a hot coffee at the Muskrat Lake Cafe (my favorite coffee shop in Lake City) it dawned on me that the glitter may have washed away, but the Lord is still very much here and He is still very much the SAME.

Even if, and when, the sparkles start to fade, Jesus is the same beautiful, faithful, merciful, just, good Savior that He has always been. He is the same Lord that loves and adores me, even if there isn't a ton of glitter.

"Jesus Chris is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8

Hebrews 13:8 does not change because the glitter has washed away... it simply does not. My God who has adored me and loved me so well this summer still feels the same way about me. And I still feel the same way about Him. My joy comes from the Lord, NOT from my circumstances... therefore, even though my feelings are all over the place I still have joy in the Lord.

When I was sitting in the Muskrat this morning I also read Ecclesiastes 3 and the Lord pointed out a very clear truth to me... there is a time for everything.

"There is a time for everything,
and a seasons for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and time to give up,
a time to keep up and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

So for me, there is a time for sparkly glitter and a time for grey dullness.

The Lord used the time of sparkles and glitter so perfectly in my life. He did so much work in my heart and He taught me a ton. All of those things are still true, all of the passions and feelings He put in my heart are still there and still hold true... there just isn't a lot of glitter with them. They are raw and they are grey, but the Lord is going to use that as well. He will use the greyness and the unknown for His glory.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." - Ecclesiastes 3:11

And in the end, everything will be made beautiful in its time. The glitter will be beautiful in its time and the greyness will be beautiful in its time.

So from now on, I am going to embrace where I am. I am going to embrace the fact that things aren't sparkly and great, but instead they are broken... but aren't we all broken anyways? The Lord sent His Son to heal that brokenness. So I will give this time to the Lord so that He can work in ways I cannot imagine and so that He can heal things and make things beautiful once again.

In the end, when the glitter is washed away the Lord is still here... ready to heal and make things beautiful once more.