Whispered Truths Into My Heart

Last Thursday, I went to Bible study at a good friend’s home.  That evening, they were concluding a study on the book of 1 Peter, focusing on chapter 5.  We reviewed the book of 1 Peter in its entirety, however, as we read put loud the entire book from start to finish, as was historically done.

By the time we got to chapter 5, my attention had already focused on several themes throughout the book (purity + holiness, and facing trials).  (SO many good things fill the pages of 1 Peter – go read it yourself!  A favorite of mine is 1:3-9 – at least read that passage!)  In this post, however, I want to focus on chapter 5.  The time was getting shorter and shorter before I left for camp, and therefore how I could apply these rich Scripture verses was on my mind.  Rather, God placed these Scripture verses on my heart as He whispered the following truths into my heart:

    >There is a war raging; the devil prowls around like a roaring lion.  I need to be ready for spiritual warfare and watchful of this.
    >”Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
    >In past summers, specifically last summer at training, spiritual warfare was brought to my attention by ESh.  It was a good reminder last summer that it exists and that it is prevalent.
    >Going into this summer, after reading this passage of Scripture, I am reminded once again of the reality of spiritual warfare and how active the devil is.  I, alongside the rest of the SpringHill staff, am doing something big for the kingdom – hundreds of thousands of campers will come to a SpringHill location over the duration of the summer of 2016 and will hear the Gospel message.  This is something that angels cheer on, God smiles upon, and the devil hates.  I can’t wait to be a part of it, but I also need to not be so naïve in that I am unaware of the war that is raging.
    >This summer, I must seek confidence not in anything I have done, but in what Jesus has done on the cross, confidence in the Father’s love, and confidence that the Holy Spirit will be with me every step of the way.
    >”Resist him [the devil], standing firm in the faith…”
    >I cannot be confident in my own ways, nor can I resist the devil with my own power.  I need the Lord on my side, fighting every battle with me.  I cannot become confident in what I think I have done, but I must boast in Christ Jesus and what He has done for me on the cross.
    >”May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14)
    >I must be confident in nothing I can give out, but through the Father’s love for me and how I can work in that love and give His love out to others.
    >None of this can be done on my own, but it is through the Holy Spirit working in and through me, walking with me every step of the way.
    >”But I say, walk by the Spirit…If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16, 25)
    >Verses 2 and 3 of 1 Peter chapter 5 focuses on abiding in the Lord where you are at, being content in where He has given you to be, and being wise in how you feed others.
    >I looked this verse up in several different versions, and loved all of them, so I’ll share them with you:
    “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
    “Tend/nurture/guard/guide the flock of God that is your responsibility, not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits belonging to the office, but eagerly and cheerfully.”
    “Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd.  Not because you have to, but because you want to please God.  Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously.  Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.”
    “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you.  Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by our own good example.”
    >In all these versions of the two verses, I realized several different things.  First off, I am to shepherd the flock that is among me.  This is where contentment comes in.  Abiding in the Lord and where He has placed me this summer, not comparing myself to the right or to the left, but staying on the straight and narrow path, eyes fixated on Christ.  Second, I noticed that the people among me – those that are under my care – they are the flock of God.  The Lord has entrusted me with tending to and nurturing His own.  This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly  Third, I am doing this not out of a burden, not because I have to, but because I am eager to serve God.  That is the sole purpose of me being on this earth – to glorify and serve the Lord, and for this summer, that means tending to His flock by nurturing others.  Lastly, I am to act in a way that keeps the focus off of myself.  I am not to calculate what I am getting out of it, because ultimately, it is not about me.  I am to care for the flock in a selfless manner and in a way that tenderly shows them the way, being a humble and righteous example to them.

Until Those Words Become My Own

The other day, I went along with a woman I work with out to lunch to meet up with a donor.  When we returned to the office, she thanked me for going with her and, when she was walking out of the office, she was still explaining to me how fun it was for her to go to things like this lunch.  As she stepped over the threshold of the door, she was still thinking about it, shaking her head and exclaimed quietly to herself, she completely genuinely said: “I love my job.”

She was completely and fully passionate about her job and absolutely adored what she was doing.  Working with Liberal Arts donors was her dream.  Meeting up with them over lunch, getting to hear their stories and learn more about their lives was an absolute dream to her.

I can’t wait to be in a position where I absolutely love what I am doing, day in and day out.

I could easily be writing this post with feelings of discontentment and frustration (for I have felt both of those things as I await my summers serving at SpringHill – more on this below), but instead I choose to write this post with eager anticipation and joy for the future.

(Note: not always would I have been able to do this.  Throwback to freshman year of college when I was full of frustrated discontent and unhealthy eagerness for not only that summer, but for graduation as well.)

I write this post with feelings of joy and hope because I have grown.  I once was discontent, now I know that God has me in school and at IUPUI for a reason.  He is molding me now, shaping me into the person He wants me to become.  I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but I know that the future is in His hands and that He is sovereign.  I am humbled that He has chosen me to be a part of furthering His kingdom.

As I just finished up my junior year, I look forward to the Lord’s summer that He is blessing me with and eagerly anticipate how He is going to work in and through me to minister to others.  (More on this coming summer, here).

I know that I still have one more year of my undergraduate career for a reason; I know that it is intentional that I am not graduating in 2016, but in the spring of 2017.  I know that He is faithful to complete the good works that began in me, the desire He placed in my life to pursue a career in camp ministry.

“I love my job.”

I cannot wait until those words become my own.  I cannot wait until I murmur those words to myself and genuinely mean them in regards to my career, my future, my full-time-post-graduation job.

I know that my desire to serve others was given to me by the Lord.  I know that my desire to minister to others was given to me by the Lord.  I know that these good gifts are from above.

He has blessed me with a passion for camp ministry. Soon enough, it’ll be my turn to murmur those words – “I love my job” – with genuine excitement.  I cannot wait until those words become my own.  I can’t wait to chase my dream and pursue a full-time career within camp ministry!

High Time for an Update

It’s been too long since I’ve written an update about my near future: this summer I will be returning to camp life!

I am looking forward to this summer with anticipation and excitement, eager to see what God is going to do to further His kingdom.  I am thrilled to again be a part of camp ministry and can’t wait to be used as a vessel for the Lord.

After much thought and prayerful consideration, I am returning to SpringHill Camps for the summer of 2016. I am so excited to be a part of SpringHill Camps again, a ministry I can get behind whole-heartily and whose mission I firmly stand behind.

For the past four summers, I have spent at least a portion of my summer with SpringHill day camps.  (Need to be caught up to speed?  Read How I Fell in Love with Camp, here.)  This summer, however, will be slightly different.

This summer, I will be serving at the Indiana Overnight location as the RedBrush Assistant Director.  RedBrush is SpringHill’s pre-teen program for campers who have completed grades 4th-6th.

Like I mentioned, I have only worked for SpringHill’s day camps program and have never spent more than four weeks at the Indiana overnight property (which happened during training last year).  This summer, however, I will be moving down to Seymour, IN on May 15th (in just 10 short days – eeep!) for the duration of the summer, three months.

Growth occurs especially when we step outside of our comfort zones.  Moving to southern Indiana and living at camp for 12 weeks certainly is outside of my comfort zone.  However, I know that the Lord is going to bless me for choosing to follow Him on the straight and narrow path. I cannot wait to see how I am used as a vessel – a broken vessel of the Lord’s to further His kingdom.

As the summer nears, a plethora of prayer requests surface to the forefront of my mind. Would you join me in prayer?

Prayer Requests:

>For the campers that we as SpringHill staff will be coming in contact with this summer, that the Holy Spirit may begin working in their hearts even today in preparation for what they are going to learn and experience during their time at camp.
>For the summer staff members that will be arriving at camp in the next several months, that their hearts will be in a place to glorify and serve the Lord with their whole being this summer.
>For joy and peace as I go into this summer, that I will make this summer about Christ first, others second, and myself last.

Journalism + Camp (Finally Able to Marry the Two)

Crafts to the max, getting to be a role model, rockin’ those chacos, and life-long friendships are just some of the many positives of working at a camp for the summer.

As some of you may know, I am an Editorial Contributor for the Lala, an online publication for college women full of powerful and uplifting content.  What does this have to do with camp (and with me), you may ask?  Well, this past month I was assigned to write a story on Why Every Career-Driven Girl Should Work at Camp for a Summer.  What better topic could I write about?!  You try and come up with something better for me to write about.

I ended up writing an article (which you can read on the Lala, here) that Levo League got a hold of (which is, as I write, up to 36K recent views on their platform).  The American Camp Association got wind of it and blasted it on their social media, too.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because I feel blessed.

Since declaring the pursuit of a journalism major in 2013, I have written a great amount: a lot of hard news, a fair amount of creative pieces, and some on my most favorite topic of all, camp.  Since starting this blog on camp, I have been able to combine two of my passions (as well as two things I am good at): writing and camp ministry.

After writing the piece for the Lala and having it receive attention elsewhere as well, I have felt humbled and blessed.  Humbled that that many people would choose to click on and read my article, and blessed that I have been given the platform to write about something that I love and to have such a positive response to my passion.  (Thanks, SGF for giving me this perspective – “love that you wrote about what you loved, and so many people are reading it.”)

Feel free to check it out yourself, if you’d like.  And let me know what you think of it.

So grateful to be able to write about something so near and dear to my heart.

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Prepping for Summer 2016

Today, I turned down an Assistant Director position with a SpringHill Day Camps team.  WHAT?!  Yep, you read that right.  Here’s the story:

At the end of this past summer, a major question that inevitably floats around is Are you coming back next summer?

I wasn’t sure if I would be returning to SpringHill, nor did I know what capacity I would return in.  As the months have continued on, I’ve become less and less sure about returning to SpringHill for the summer of 2016, which has been a surprise even to myself.

I have worked with SpringHill for the past four summers and, wanting to go into some sort of ministry, but not sure what type, I looked to expand my experiences for 2016.

After looking into other ministry opportunities (Focus on the Family, Samaritan’s Purse, Northview Church-Carmel, etc.), I came to the conclusion that I wanted to indeed work at a camp.  That being said, I realized that I didn’t want to do the same thing I had done the past four summers; I either wanted to do overnight if I worked for SpringHill again, or I wanted to work for another camp altogether.

I was talking with a friend, KK, and she told me that challenges are a time for growth.  I am excited to take on a challenge outside of SpringHill day camps and grow in ways I never have before.

This is where the trust comes in.

Today, I forfeited the only guaranteed position offered to me for the summer of 2016, that is, to work as an Assistant Director for SpringHill.  I am now seeking a position at SpringHill IN Overnight as well as a position at Sky Ranch Camps down in TX.  Both possibilities are outside of my comfort zone, are challenges, and are areas for growth.

I am eager to continue working on my plans for the summertime in the next several months as I seek the Lord’s will.  I hope to trust in Him and rely fully on Him for what is to come.

It seems a little crazy to me to not be going back to SpringHill day camps.  It is a surprise, even to myself.  But I know the Lord has big plans for me this summer and I can’t wait to see in what form I will be able to serve Him and others in the warmer months ahead.

Finding Joy, Love For Camp Life

Today I volunteered down at SpringHill Camps in Seymour at the overnight location.

Yesterday I was on the fence about going, wasn’t sure if volunteering was the way I wanted to spend my free Saturday amidst the crazy busy start to my semester.

This morning when I got up I still wasn’t 100% confident I wanted to make the drive to volunteer just for the day.  Even after getting up this morning, I wasn’t convinced I should be going.

Driving down to Seymour was beautiful and, as the miles rushed by, I became more and more excited.

As I pulled off the interstate and onto 258 I became more and more eager to get onto camp property and to be somewhere I feel comfortable and peaceful.

I was home.

The day began for me with seeing volunteers and staff at work with families who were there for the Labor Day Weekend Family Camp.  I loved walking from the dining hall to the climbing wall, along the gravel path and surrounded by water and trees.  Beautiful.

After that, I rode back to the dining hall with Ashley and Ryan for a session, then headed over to the craft house where I found Lauren.  I was excited to find that I’d be working with her for the day.

She reviewed a few things with me briefly and, not long after, we had our first guests.  From there, we never had a lull.  It was a long, six hours after that, full of lots and lots of crafts — tie dye, bracelet-making, and chalk paintings.

By the end of the day, we were both exhausted, but realized that we made a good team.  It was so fun working alongside my middle school best friend from church!

After the final guests left, we tore and cleaned the craft house with Eric’s help, then I began saying my goodbyes.

It was so good to be back at SpringHill for the day.  Even if it was less than 12 hours, being at camp sparked it me a fire.

The Lord gave me so much joy, simply through me spending a day down in Seymour, IN at SpringHill.  I couldn’t have asked for a better break from academics and school-life and stress.

The Lord knows exactly what I need; He is faithful and He is sovereign.  He surely blesses.

My Challenging Summer That Grew Me

Wow – time really does fly when you are having fun!  Just like a snap of the fingers, my summer with SpringHill Camps has come to a close.

I have put off writing this blog post because there is so much to say – so much has happened and so much needs to be shared.

I will try to keep it brief.  I think the two words that describe this summer best are: challenging and growth.

This summer was super challenging, especially the beginning of the summer.  I was unsure what I was doing in an assistant director position and, honestly, wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the entire summer.  I am pleased to say that I made it!  I was challenged in so many ways: in my leadership abilities, my responsibility, my interpersonal skills, my walk with the Lord, and with my relationships with others.   All things that, in the moment, challenge seems painful, but, upon getting through, they feel successful and good.

I also grew a lot this summer.  I grew in my relationships (with other friends, with fellow staff members, and with the Lord), in how I lead others, and in how I treat others.  I grew in my love for camp ministry, in my love for campers and their families, and in my love for my team.

At the beginning of the summer, my main mode was survival.  I was really trying to get through the course of the summer and make it until when my contract would expire.  I’m not going to lie: the beginning of the summer was rough.  However, God has bigger plans and He remains sovereign and faithful AND He knows the big picture; nothing comes as a surprise to the Lord.  He gave me a wonderful second half of the summer.

As the summer came to a close, I found myself wishing it was longer.  I wasn’t necessarily excited for the next summer, but simply wanted a continuation of this summer.

My, how blessed I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so difficult, to paraphrase Winnie the Pooh.

Week 8 In Review

The team that I have been on for the summer, Indy 2, pioneered Kentucky this past week by being the first day camp ever to travel south to the state of Kentucky.

Because there is minimal prep work for the future, as we do not have another week of camp on our summer, I have been able to spend a lot of time getting to know the campers and spending time with the counselors.  It has been so much fun hanging out with the kiddos and supporting the counselors the best I can.  It has been really fun knowing some of the kids on a deeper basis than normal; knowing their names and running activities for them.

I truly have missed being a counselor and spending every moment of the day with the campers.  I also have forgotten how demanding of a job it truly is and all that is required to be an outstanding counselor.  After just two activity blocks of water time, I was exhausted!  🙂  A good kind of exhausting, though.  Tired from the campers constantly asking for your attention and tired from the sunshine and consistent demand for energy.

Overall, this has been an awesome week!  I have loved being out of the office and into the sunshine.  I have loved getting to know our team’s counselors on a deeper basis.  I have loved working with the kiddos and getting to know them by name.  I have loved hearing the campers’ answers in small group and seeing first hand when they get it and when God moves in their lives.

Learning A “What’s-Mine-Is-Your’s” Mentality

Host families are a unique part of the SpringHill experience, and one of my favorite parts.  Last night I had no idea I was going to learn something through my experiences with my host family.  Being hospitable and genuine joy in doing so is beautiful and goes a very long way.

Throughout the course of the summer, I have lived with many different families and have met even more people with whom I have shared bits and pieces of my life with.

A few things that I nearly always share are: the school that I attend (IUPUI), what I am studying (Journalism and Event Management), and where I am from (the northeast side of Indianapolis in Lawrence).

Last night was Wednesday, meaning we spent the evening with our host family and ate dinner with them at our host home.

This was the second dinner we had had with them this week, so we had already gone over the “introductory questions” of school, major/minor, and where we’re from.

On Wednesday, however, we went through it all again, part way through the meal.

A neighbor and friend of the family’s came knocking on the door about halfway through the meal on Wednesday, as he was needing to return a tennis racket.

What happened next surprised me, and was beautiful.  He was invited in for a minute to chat, which turned into him grabbing some of our dinner food to go, which turned into him sitting down at the table with us to share the meal with us.

Of course, we had to go through the three introductory questions yet again, but it was all worth it at the expense of witnessing a true doors-open, my-house-is-your-house attitude.

I was taught so much through this experience that I was able to be a part of last night:

  • Make more than enough food
  • Be open, ready, and willing to share
  • Be a gracious host, and an even more gracious on-the-spot host
  • Teach your family early on to include others and to do it joyfully
  • Insist on hospitality
  • Incorporate joy, love, and hospitality in everything you do, even if it just answering the door or eating a meal.

Answered Prayers and Reminders

As site director for one of our locations during mulit-site weeks, I have prayed a prayer over and over again.

The burden has been big on my heart to pray for safety for the campers.  One of the worst things is to lose trust through a physical accident, thus inhibiting our ability to reach through to campers’ spiritual health.

Another burden laid on my heart to pray for has been the health and safety of the staff.

There is a sense of a lack of relief that occurs while being site director; at any given moment, something horrible could happen.  Though the mentality would be skewed to live each moment of each day waiting for the horrible to happen, there is a sense of responsibility with going from moment to moment, activity to activity, with a readiness and alertness.

Praise be to God, in the three weeks that I was site director, we had no physical safety concerns for the campers and minimal health concerns for the staff!

By no means were the weeks perfect, and of course there were lows in addition to highs, but campers and staff were safe and healthy, and the Gospel message was able to be communicated that much more affectively and clearly.

It is easy to pray for something and, upon a prayer being answered, to move forward without recognizing the grace and amazing power of God.

This week I can praise God because I was reminded of Him listening to my concerns and answering my prayers.  My communication with God was able to go a step further than usual because not only did I cast my cares upon Him, but I was able to recognize His answer to those prayers.

How often to I not follow up on my conversations with the Lord?

Thank you, Father, for wanting to hear my cries and for being a gracious God that listens to my prayers, provides love and protection, and reminds my human mind of your power and might.