This summer I met some amazing people who have loved me, supported me, and changed my life.
Over the course of the summer I was blessed with 67 precious kids that God entrusted to me to teach and to play with and to love.
I jumped off the 30-foot Leap of Faith.
I conquered the 45-foot climbing wall.
I played lots of Gaga ball.
I let my kids dress me up in crazy costumes and performed talents that they decided on.
I danced a lot.
I played paintball.
I got to worship every night.
I prayed with kids to receive Christ and got to see one of them baptized.
I told a kid who had never been to church before who God is.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and grown in so many ways, and God has been amazing in bringing up the same themes over and over to reinforce these lessons. What was theoretical knowledge before is experiential now — I’m not spouting off cliches anymore because I have lived out the truth in these lessons.
Theme: empty to fill. During training week, Mom led devotionals on that theme, and since then it’s kept coming up everywhere — at church, in song lyrics, in the way God has proved that truth to me over and over. I’ve learned what it really means to depend on God for strength and have faith that if I pour out everything I have, He will refill me with exactly what I need when I need it. There’s nothing like getting to the end of an exhausting day, high-fiving my awesome jr. staffer Brody and praising God together because we know that there’s no freaking way we could have done it on our own. One night a couple weeks ago I was sitting in the back of the camp store having a meltdown between dinner and worship. After I’d calmed down I went to the tent where worship was starting, and Caleb was leading a song we’d sung all summer long. It was the thousandth time I’d heard it, and to be honest, I’d never given it much thought beyond “oh, it’s a fun song for the kids that they can dance to.” But the truth of the words struck me in a completely new way. “I’ve got a river of living water, a fountain that never will run dry. It’s an open heaven You’re releasing, and we will never be denied.” Even when I’m running on empty, God’s strength will never run dry, and He will always give me what I need. And that kinda leads into the next theme. But when I was leaving today, crying bittersweet tears and thanking God for an amazing summer, I was listening to Casting Crowns and a line from The Well jumped out at me: “And now that you’re full of love beyond measure, your joy’s going to flow like a stream in the desert. Soon all the world will see that living water is found in Me, because you came to the well.” That’s such a beautiful way to express the transition we’re making in going back to our normal lives, and how God will continue to work through us as we empty to fill.
It is God who arms me with strength — Brody and me and the Y-Babes
Theme: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” I wrote that verse in my journal the night before I left for Deer Run. Like every other theme, it’s shown up in so many ways. One of my favorite songs we’ve sung this summer has a bridge that says “I may be weak, but Your Spirit’s strong in me. My flesh may fail, but my God, You never will!” I’ve learned that it’s okay that I can’t do everything on my own. My whole life I’ve felt like everything was up to me, and I had to somehow prove myself by taking on way more than I could handle. This summer has really taught me to trust and rely on my support group, how to ask for help when I need it, how to accept and even embrace my own weakness. I don’t have to hide or be ashamed of my emotions. I don’t have to pretend like I’m fine when I’m not. For the first time in my life, I’m really…okay with myself. Which leads into the next theme.
Theme: I am who I am, not what I do. And I am okay with that. This summer, all the support and affirmation from my wonderful coworkers has shown me the value in myself. I didn’t have to prove anything to these people to be loved, and I don’t have to be someone I’m not. First, for something as small as a tube of mascara or a powder compact, makeup is a huge thing to let go of. Two months ago, when I looked in the mirror without makeup, I thought I was hideous. Last week, I actually thought, “Hey, I look cute today.” What?! I’ve actually managed to get to a point where I’m so used to my real face that I feel like I look weird with eyeliner. The other thing that was hard to get over was fear of inadequacy, of what others thought of me. When I couldn’t make it to the top of the climbing tower during training week, I was absolutely mortified, especially when several of the other girls did it with no problem. So halfway through camp when I finally conquered it, I thought I would feel amazing. But…I didn’t. I wrote in my journal later that night, “I’m glad I can say I’ve done it, and now I know what it’s like, but honestly it didn’t make me feel that different. I guess I’ve learned to place my worth in other things.” Oh, and that kind of leads into the next theme too.
Theme: God is enough. I can live with very little. And even when that little falls apart, it’s okay. Not worth stressing over. I brought 4 pairs of shoes to camp, and only 1 pair escaped unscathed. The sole came off my first pair of Chacos, so I had them replaced. When the sole came off the second pair a week later, I shrugged and Brody and I wrapped them up in bright yellow duct tape. What would have infuriated me 2 months ago, I laughed about, because I’ve truly learned that security is not found in possessions. I’ve written a few posts on materialism, because it’s bothered me for a long time, but I never knew how to make a change while I was stuck in the environment I was in. Well, camp gave me an opportunity to escape that environment and cut my dependency on stuff. So I’ll hopefully be making a trip or two to Goodwill before I get sucked back into the vortex of greed and have the chance to regret it.
It’s been an incredible summer and God has blessed me in so many ways. This hardly scratches the surface of how deeply Deer Run has changed me. There’s no way I could ever explain everything that’s happened, but it’s truly been an experience I will never forget.