Monday, August 17, 2009

Char-town: great way to wrap up my summer!

I got to spend about 4 days in Charlotte this week, and it was such a great way to end my summer. I went out there to visit some of my friends from Summer Staff, one in particular, but the others that live there were an added bonus to the trip for sure! It was just such a breath of fresh air to get to see my friend Sarah for a few days. She is a special one. Our friendship has been such a blessing to me this summer. She is such an example of how God has brought so many neat people into my life through Young Life over the years. I have to say, she is one of my favorites so far! I can't wait to see her again in October!

Sarah passed on the "yellow indian sack" to me when I left, which was VERY exciting. The indian sack is a little something that we stole from camp, and Sarah, Beth (my other fave friend from the gap), and I have been passing it around with a scrapbook all summer that has pictures of us doing funny things with the sack. It made me laugh pretty hard when I got to the airport, and definitely kept me from being able to stay sad after saying goodbye to Sarah! I have to think of something really good to do with it this time.

This week is going to be pretty crazy. I have lots to do before I go back to Jonesboro. Hopefully I'll be able to get some quality time with the little sister before I leave. I'm definitely praying that that happens. Life is crazy right now... lots of transitions. I'm excited though. Feeling very refreshed after spending some time in NC, and ready to get back to J-town!

We decided it might be fun to mattress surf one night... there were only a few minor injuries! Haha this is one of the many reasons I love this girl--there is never a dull moment!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What a strange 3 months...

This has been the strangest summer. So many highs and lows--so many trials, yet so many blessings. I feel like God has had so much to show me this summer, so many lessons to teach me. Now that it's coming to an end and I'm starting to be able to look back on it, I keep finding myself thinking, "God, it's been great, but please let me pass this test so that I never have to take it again." I think more than anything, I have truly learned to listen for His voice this summer...

The amount of personal growth and just life-changing (or at least "life-shifting" for the time being) things that I experienced at camp was pretty amazing. God really placed a lot of people and situations in my life during that month that made it so clear to me that ministry is where my heart needs to be. And not just where it needs to be, where it really longs to be. I've just been afraid and uncertain about whether or not it was time to make a decision that would change a lot about my life. To make a long story short, I quit soccer. All year I struggled with the fact that I give my whole heart and soul, all my time and energy, to soccer. And I really do love it, and I really love my teammates more than anything, so it was a hard decision to make. But God has made it so clear that it was the right decision to make. Through the people I've crossed paths with and the opportunities to truly be a part of "His mission" He has made it very clear that there is something so much better ahead. We're going to start Young Life in Jonesboro again. When I say "we," I mean that I've been talking with the regional director, and he wants to come up and do some leadership training with some ASU students (which is my job--to find them) and get reconnected with some of the adults in the community that he knows. I've left a lot of little details out of this story that make it all make a lot more sense, because I don't want to write an entire novel tonight. But it's really been cool to see God use so many random people and situations to get me to this point. It was definitely not by chance that any of it happened.

Aside from big, life-changing decisions, God has just been so present all summer. It's been weird being at home in a city where I don't know anyone besides my family. My Dad has been gone a lot because he spent a month at camp right after I did, and this week he is at camp with his kids from Houston. So it's been sort of sad to not get a whole lot of quality time with him, but the little bit of time we have gotten has been really sweet. It's really just been me and my mom most of the time, and it is amazing how much we've gotten along. Not that we don't love each other, we just have always been so different and struggled so much in relating to each other, etc., that it's always been hard to be "good friends" I guess. It has truly been a god-sighting to me this summer to see how enjoyable our time together has been.

I feel like the loneliness has been good, even though it has really sucked. It's made me pray differently, almost more intimately, because my alone time with Jesus has truly been "time to talk with a friend"... and as lame as it sounds, I don't have any of those around here! I've learned a lot about myself, I've been alone with myself enough this summer to really see my strengths and weaknesses come out with nothing or no one to mask them. It's been a growing experience, for sure. I'm starting to reach the point where I might actually go insane soon--I'm glad to be going to Charlotte next week to spend some time with some friends from Summer Staff. I know that the highlight of my summer was definitely my month at Windy Gap. I'm sure it will forever be one of the highlights of my entire life. There was some scripture that we focused on the whole time we were there, and I really think it's been sort of a theme for the summer. If there is one thing I think of forever, every time I look back on this summer, I hope it's this:

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." -Mark 8:34-35

I feel like I really learned what it means to live out that verse this summer. To lose your life for Him in order to save it. To completely deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. As much as it's scary and completely unknown, I can't wait to see where God takes me on this new journey over the next year. It will be fun to continue to look back as I continue to grow. But man, I hope there is never another summer as lonely as this one has been ever since I got home on June 22nd!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My weekend as a river rat!

Wow, it's really been too long since I posted something on here. This weekend I spent a few days in New Braunfels camping on River Road with some of my friends from Windy Gap. It was great to spend some time with those three lovely ladies, and it was definitely an experience for the books. A few lessons learned and interesting happenings from our little adventure:

1. If you see a dark cloud in the distance, wait for it to pass before attempting to set up camp. Strong winds in dirt fields just might result in Dust Bowl 2009.

2. Stereotypical "River Rat Rednecks" are actually real. They really do have serious arguments about Nascar in which the threat, "I'll piss on your tent" is exchanged when someone hates on their favorite driver. They really do drink Crown with their breakfast, and let out "rebel yells" whenever they so please. If you have ever seen "The Turtle Man" on youtube, I'm pretty sure he was our neighbor. If you haven't seen him, you should watch it ASAP.

3. A group of four young girls in an environment when having all of your teeth puts you in the minority pays off. Discounts on everything! We even got a free cooler tube when we floated the river.

4. ALWAYS check your parking spot number and level in a parking garage. Especially when you're at the River Walk in San Antonio and there are typically 3 parking garages right next to each other.

5. When the bath houses are closed and there are hundreds of intoxicated people in one small village of tents, watch out for (a) girls peeing in strange places all over the camp grounds, and (b) women "showering" in the sinks in the one small bathroom that stays open 24 hours. Yeah, shimmying by a naked lady when trying to get to the toilet is a little awkward.

6. Make sure you throw away all your trash and lock your cooler when you go to bed at night... Raccoons like to make frequent visits.

7. If you actually intend on sleeping, bring ear plugs to block out the noise from your noisy "Turtle Man" neighbors. Although doing so might rob you of some serious entertainment.

We had a great time, and definitely experienced some "one of a kind" things! Next year we're going more prepared--christmas lights on the tent to make us look cool like our awesome redneck neighbors, A FAN, and more people! We were wishing we had more of our summer staff buddies with us!

Might upload photos later... stay tuned.