Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I Really Need

Often we Americans get a little confused. “I need more toilet paper. I need a new phone. I need to go shopping for a pair of shoes to go with my new dress.” We think we need so much. Why do we feel so entitled?

We are so used to have everything provided for us, pre-packaged and right at our doorstep. We don't wait in lines, we HATE being put on hold on telephones, and if fast food takes longer than ten minutes we will probably have a heart attack. We expect to live a high quality lifestyle- good food at restaurants, education, friendly and safe community, and of course free health insurance. But until these things are stripped away from us we don't realize how good we actually have it and how unfair our expectations really are compared to the rest of the world.

The more time I have spent in foreign countries as a missionary, the more I disdain my selfish self and the typical “American-dream” lifestyle. Just like many other Americans, before I traveled to Peru to live, I thought I deserved a lot. I thought that because I was a good kid, got good grades in college, and had a nice family- I deserved to be loved, protected, win scholarships, receive the best education, and of course to have clean water. I mean come on, every family or even homeless person in America, has access to clean water a.k.a. water fountains.

Then I arrived in Peru where children play in trash, people wait 4 hours in the rain for free medical help, and families of nine live in a house the size of my bedroom. It slowly hit me that life isn't fair and nobody owes me anything.

I don't believe that any race, class, or social status deserves to be treated better than another. I disdain the fact that the country of birth often determines the quality of life of a person. And even more so, I find it ridiculous that while millions are dying in America due to obesity, innocent babies and children are suffering of starvation in India and Africa every day. Life isn't fair.

As I spent eight months in Peru living alongside children and families in poverty, I learned a few things about what I need and don't need. I don't need to eat at Olive Garden, to spend $8 on the newest movie, or to buy the newest iphone. I don't need to spend money without thinking. I don't need to be selfish and look out for myself.

I do need to follow God's commandments to love the unlovable, reach the unreachable, and sacrifice my belongings for the well-being of another person. I do need to give to the needy, the homeless, the abused, the orphan, and the widow. I do need to listen to God's direction in my life and follow where He leads me.

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in his glory by Christ Jesus.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Your Moment

I've read stories of teens who went on mission trips and when David, or Annie, or little Sophia ran into their arms hands in the air, fully trusting,  their heart broke. And that one motion is the thing that led them to a changed life.

I don't think it's a joke, cliche, or an exaggeration. I think it's a miracle. That in one moment, a child- with eyes and hands wide open, an innocent and utmost struggle and plea for help, for love, for attention- that someone's heart might come to life and realize this is their moment to shine.
This is their opportunity to say Yes, I see a need and will do something about it. Yes, I care enough about this child not to simply hold them but to investigate in their future and advocate for their wellbeing. Yes, poverty and sex trafficking and child abuse and orphans are real and yes I have been blessed so that I may give to others.

And sometimes I wonder in amazement at the child's faith in God to respond to His calling: my child be brave, lift up your arms one more time, give up a cry one more time. I wonder how many times these children have been denied the right to be held- because they don't have someone who loves them- or the loved don't have enough time.

I've visited an orphanage in Peru where I was asked not to pick up a child. This child was special. He was always wanting to be held. He was always doing the wrong thing, in the wrong place, acting completely ridiculous- but he did it all to get attention. You see this child needed love. But he was denied it countless times... And I marvel at the courage of this child as day and day pass, and his orphan mom spanks him for disobedience.. to still lift up his hands and cry.

Pick me. Hold me. Love me. Choose me.
I'm real. I'm alive and I'm in need.
Will this be your moment?
Can I be your moment to shine?

The Never Ending Summer

8 week camp marathon- let's go. I just finished my eighth week of summer camp at Wewoka Woods and loved it. Yes camp has it's good and bads and being Admin definitely puts a new spin on the camp scene. Nevertheless, I love summer camp. It's powerful,effective, and fun. If you've never been I hope you check it out and consider volunteering or working one summer.

Disney world style- until you go to camp and experience it, you will never understand. Camp is a place out of this world, where you can be a kid again, you jump around every night singing songs, sport your craziest tie dye shirt and basketball shorts, stay up late watching pg movies and eating popcorn with campers, and do the weirdest things in skits. Camp is a place where you unplug from technology and see people for the way they truly are. You work hard and play hard- all day long- every day until you are utterly exhausted. And you make the bestest friends EVER!

I work at Wewoka Woods Adventist Center- of the smallest camps in America, located in farm-ville Oklahoma. It's an amazing place for me- this camp has changed my life in so many ways.

I work at the place where I decided to truly live for God when I was only seven years old. I work at the camp I've spent 8 summers being the excited camper and 5 years being a driven staff. I work at a camp where I have seen Jesus countless times in relationships, experiences, and campfires. I love my job and the ministry that it has for many children around the nation.

I believe in summer camp because I believe in kids getting an opportunity to hear about God and be loved no matter what their background. Summer camp is a place where kids can be themselves- taken away from their struggles at home or in school- kids can see God with new eyes.

I want to share with you 10 crazy fun things that happened to me this summer at camp:

1. I learned how to tie dye like a pro ;) hahaha I'm pretty proud
2. I learned how to hula hoop and do special tricks.
3. I fell in love with my princess named Ruth Anne most precious girl ever.
4. I LOVED counseling with Dani Cantu and we totally rocked out the Fireflies with slumber parties, movie nights, and late night testimony time the lake.
5. I learned how to be a spiritual leader.
6. I planned and produced my own Friday night skit and it actually turned out pretty cool. I even got to act in it and see how it really impacted the campers.
7. I washed about 40 campers feet and got my feet washed by one of them.
8. I learned that I don't hate special ed children at all but just need to work on my patience.
9. I lost 10 lbs (hip hip hooray).
10. I got to teach a mission class!!! And I had so many cute little kids telling me about how they wanted to be a missionary! It just made my heart so happy!

Confessions of a Missionary

"Some days I hate my life.
Africa life is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Sometimes I don’t want to hop out of bed and embrace the day.
The language barrier is freaking hard.
Being hit on by grown men just because I’m white gets obnoxious.
Bucket showers get old.

Walking miles and miles to get to a house that doesn’t even want to hear the name of Jesus is exhausting.
Washing all my clothes by hand makes me want to get on the first plane back to America and push “start” on my washing machine.
Putting on a skirt every single morning makes me miss my skinnies and converse.
Getting internet once a week at a cafe makes me miss constant wifi.
Carbs for every meal makes me want a huge fresh salad from Jason’s deli.
Sitting through 4 hour church services not having a clue what’s going on makes me want to get back home and go to a service that is no longer than 1 hour.
Throwing up outback because my stomach can’t handle it makes me want to curl in a cozy bed at home.
Seeing people dying of AIDS on a daily basis makes me weep.
Picking up infants on the side of the road makes me want to pack them all up on a plane and rescue them from this god forsaken place.
The teenage girl with a baby strapped to her back from the random man who seduced her for a night makes a righteous anger rise within me.
Hearing lies from the king saying that if you have sex with a virgin your AIDS will go away makes me want to scream from rooftops.
I find myself wanting to hop back on a plane just so I won’t have to see all of this…
I easily want to forget the crazy life He has called me to.
Being a “Missionary” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
It’s easy to think that some people were created from birth to be called overseas…
Hell no.
There is no such thing as a cookie cutter missionary.
Missionary life (whatever that even means) is freaking hard.
Borderline insane.
I could go on and on.
It’s easy to sit at the local Starbucks and read “Radical” and want to do something…
but once you get to wherever that may be…
It’s freaking hard.
Part of me wishes someone else would’ve been called to such a life.
Part of me wishes I could live the typical American dream and be satisfied with it.
But, it’s not true.
That’s not for me.
This is the life I’m called to.
It’s freaking hard…
but so worth it.
Every single day I have to choose to forget my flesh and listen to my spirit.
My flesh says I’m an idiot for choosing such a life.
My spirit says I’ve never been so alive.
Because of this,
I submit my flesh to the Lord.
I beg Him to tame me…
Give me strength when I see death everywhere I look.
Give me JOY as I walk for hours and wash my clothes in a bucket.
Give me patience when people don’t want to hear the name of Jesus.
Give me grace when all I want to do is get angry.
Give me love for the snot nosed babies.

Give me peace when I weep myself to sleep for such a broken country.
Give me wisdom when I have no idea what to do.
Give me your love for this place when I just want to run away.
He is eager to answer my prayers…
He’s already answered a ton of them.
Clearly the missionary life isn’t pretty…
But it’s so worth it.
He calls the hot messes…
the broken.
He doesn’t need saints to change the world…
Just willing spirits.
Sometimes those willing spirits have to be whipped into shape…
but he’s got it covered.
Even when I don’t feel it,  He is good and uses me." - http://themisfitmissionary.com/2013/07/11/confessions-of-a-missionary/
*This piece is definitely not written by me, but I LOVE and identify with so much of this.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I love missions

I miss Peru
I miss peru
I miss Peru
I miss being a missionary.
I miss serving.
I miss sacrificing to tell others about God.
I miss cold showers.
I miss the kids- beautiful children who kiss your cheek and drive you crazy begging you to play with them all the time.
I miss Peru.

I've adjusted- yes kinda- but there's this feeling in my heart that I can't explain. I just want to be a missionary again. I want to serve again. I am not content in America.

I'm not for sure exactly where God's calling me or leading me.
The "hot question" is what's your major? What do you want to do with your life?
And honestly I don't know.
I want to be a missionary. I want to help children in orphanages and hospitals.
I am getting a bachelors degree in health science.

No I don't know how I will get the money.
No I don't know every perfect class best suited for my major.
No I don't know what job I will do right out of college.

I have this crazy longing- crazy dreams- of traveling the world! I want to go to Uganda and work with the orphans there. I want to travel to India! I want to go back to Peru.

Most importantly though, I want to follow God.
Wherever he wants me, that's where I want to go.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People

Have you ever experienced that life shattering, mind blowing experience where you realize this is real. This is really happening to me. Bad things can happen to me- really bad things. And my Jesus bubble is not going to get me out of every rough circumstance.

I've lived a very happy Christian princess American dream type lifestyle: great family, great friends, good opportunities. Sometimes it's easy to think that because I'm following God this is like a reward or something. Like if anything bad happens, all I have to do is pray to God and He will fix it. But life isn't like that... Life is unfair, terribly wicked, and unjust. Just look around at all the starvation, innocent babies dying, and messed up families. Still don't believe bad things happen to good people?

-What about that pure and faithful couple that pray and cry and sob to Jesus every morning that there child who is mentally challenged and needs cognitive and oral corrective surgeries could experience a normal life? And day and night pass- and the boy is the same- fighting his way for life in and out of a hospital.

What about that boy who lives across the world in Asia and wants to follow Jesus and be a teacher, but gets beaten every single day for standing up for God. What about him?

And what about my mom who I convince to volunteer at a Christian summer camp because she is amazing with kids and then she gets hurt? What about that? Like why God did she have to get hurt playing capture the flag when she was helping others, she was making a difference in young girls' lives. She did make a difference- her two special children she worked for chose to get baptized. So why God are you punishing her? Or why does it seem that way?

Job is so smart he says "Can we only expect good gifts from God and not bad?" Why do we instinctually blame God for all the bad things. Like it has to be God's fault right- cuz there's no sin or anything in the world that could be the problem/

Despite what some pastors and churches may teach, following Jesus doesn't win you a carefree lifestyle. In fact, Jesus promises us that in this world we will have trials and tribulations. It's normal- this life is messed up, sin filled!

We must not try to make the present into a heavenly earth. It's not supposed to be. No our thoughts aren't supposed to be here in the present (in the worries, stresses, pain, temporary gains, or material objects). We are supposed to be homesick for heaven- our true home.

It's so hard when bad things happen to good people, but this world is not our home. These earthly, weary bodies are not ours to keep- they are the Lords. Our materials and possessions are literally meaningless here. We have the hope of a better day, a perfect day, and God's beautiful Creation. And bad things won't happen anymore.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Following blindly- Career thoughts

If faith is believing without seeing than I believe I am exercising my faith right now.
Lately God has been whispering to me about my future..
You see college is one of those tight, pressing times when the question of the day: million dollar hot spot is "What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to be when your older?"
And I used to think just like everybody else that to decide I needed to look at the list of typical jobs making descent money (doctor, nurse, teacher, police man, lawyer, yata yata- make my selection and choose.) But lately I'm being led in a different direction.

I don't want to be a doctor, nor a nurse, and lately I'm not even thinking I want to be a physical therapist.
I do want to help others stay healthy.
I do want to help kids who are terminably sick or who are suffering from hunger or different diseases around the world.
I do want to follow God wherever He leads me and possibly me a missionary.

But I don't know where I'm going. I don't know exactly what I'm doing. I know I want to get a health science degree. I want to wait on God and be willing to follow Him and work for Him even if it is something untraditional.


Sunrise: Brandon Heath

You wanna sound off but you can't find the words to
Nothin' makes sense in the way that it used to
Can't find the plus in the positive thinking
The well's run dry and you're not done drinking

Clouds start comin' and the sky will fall
Clock stares back from the bedroom wall
Now you're breathin' just to make it through the night

All you need is a sunrise
Just a moment of dawn
If you're lost in the twilight
Close your eyes and move on
When you're tired in the waiting
Even though it's gonna take you
A little more time
Just a little more time the sun's gonna find you

Holding your days like a stack of paper
Then you're chasing the wind as the pages scatter
You can save a few but you can't get 'em all back
So get out fast with your heart in tact

Find yourself on the very edge
Lying awake in an empty bed
Now you're breathin' just to make it thru the night

*This song has been my favorite and my go-too ever since the harder days in Peru. I love Brandon Heath. He's one of my favorite writer's because of how much meaning his songs have. I just identify with so much in his music. I hope this song encourages you on those rough days.

Friday, July 11, 2014

10 Things I Miss About Peru

Nothing makes me smile more than when I think about sweet memories, happy jokes, and Peruvian dance parties. No, Peru wasn't easy and sometimes it wasn't fun, but other times it was so AMAZING incredible and just God blessed. I definitely left a piece of my heart there and would love to return to visit someday soon. These are a few of my favorite things, my warmest memories (not in any particular order).

1. BABIES. There was always a baby to hold, always a toddler to cuddle. Children just LOVE you when you are in Peru. I miss that special connection, those hugs, those precious slobbery kisses...

2. BESOS. The warmest kiss on the cheek EVER. "Welcome"; "You're family"; "You're loved"; "You matter"; "You are enough." I felt each one of these things everytime I was gently kissed on the cheek. I love the sweet friendliness of the Peruvian people and I miss their innocent kisses that make you feel so loved and encouraged.

3. CONQUISTADORES ADVENTURES. Haha ok so to be honest I never wanted to wake up early on Sunday morning (our free day) to go to Pathfinders. But each time I did, I ended up having so much fun doing the craziest things ever that I definitely don't have any regrets. Falling on the floor from a 2 high trust fall, literally face planting in the dirtiest swamp ever, trail running under a pack of wasps, hiking for miles with a Peruvian child on your back in the heat, learning about electricity in a language you can't understand, and trying to vaccinate wild dogs... LOL It was cray cray.

4. SISTERHOOD Orphanage Days. I loved the Sisterhood Project. Good thing, since I pretty much made it. But I loved making face masks with our girls out of the wild stuff we would find and combine, painting each other's faces, doing crafts, making cookies, and singing Peruvian hymns. The girls adored us and I knew that we were making a difference and filling a huge need.

5. SINGING. I learned how to sing in Peru. You might not believe me, but in fact, it's really true. Before Peru, I was afraid to sing out loud, to be heard. But then when I went to Peru, my Peruvian SM family LOVED to sing and Peruvians LOVE to sing. At first, I didn't want to sing too loud because I thought my voice sounded terrible but then I started singing with everyone else and I learned to LOVE singing. God really worked on my voice and helped me overcome those fears that year because I did a duet in front of the staff at school I worked with at the Christmas program-- I NEVER would have done that in a million years!

6. "ITA"- the term of endearment. Chickita, mamita, bebita.. I love the warmth of the endearing "ita" in the Spanish language. I miss the love of genuine care of the Peruvian people. They were just so kind and so caring! I don't know how to explain it but they were just so real. And I love them and miss them. I miss my friend at the cornerstore, and the milagroses, and my friend at the school supply shop, and Tatyana the wonderful orphanage physical therapist, and dear Carmen who died. I miss them more than I can explain.

7. MY GIRLS- I miss Patty and Nikol in ways I can't explain. I wish I could be there for them and I feel so sad for them because I feel like I came into their life and impacted them.. and then I just left them. I don't know what to do for them other then encourage them on Facebook and pray for them, but I feel so connected to these girls. Words can't describe what I would do for them. They are my babies, my precious beautiful princesses. I don't want them to ever get hurt.

8. MY PERUVIAN FAMILY-- Wow I miss my sisters and bros de Peru. There is nothing like living with someone in one tiny house and sharing two little bathrooms and showers with peekaboo holes and cooking together that good old greasy rice and beans that makes you truly bond. My Peruvian family helped me so much to grow in God, helped me overcome my medical fears, and truly was the reason I survived eight months in a foreign country. They were always there for me and they have impacted my life in so many ways and taught me so much. Happy Ariana the giraffe, Lisa who saved my butt on many sharpie or licey or terrible no good very bad days, Allie my mama goose who always took care of me and comforted me, Kirsten oh Kirsten and our wild adentures, Crazy Katie Kat my best friend who made me smile, laugh, and dance everyday, Bernice and I's foot time and the way she taught me to really pursue God and memorize God's word, Meggy my orphanage buddy. I miss you guys, each and every one of you, in so many ways. Each one of you guys that I have worked with have a special place in my heart!

9. MAKING TORTILLAS- Wow I miss cooking with my best friends. I miss spending 4 hours in our "kitchen" over our two frying pans, cooking and cutting and learning how to fry and grease and make arroz y frijoles. I miss cooking big meals for 20 people or sometimes for even 50 people. I loved learning how to make potato salad, egg salad, good ol' 2 hour beans, chile, lasagna, pasta, omellotes, egg sandwiches, egg sandwiches, egg sandwiches (hahaha inside joke: we had way too many eggs). But I loved cooking in Peru and I'm so glad I finally learned such a useful trait.

10. WATER TOWER TIME AND SWAMP CHOMP: I miss having time to go for leisurely strolls and stop by the little fruit stores and eat watermelon while we walk. Watermelon has never tasted so good.. unless you are in Peru.. where the sun literally melts you! I miss sneaking up the water tower with Kirsten and looking at the stars and talking about all of life. I miss leisurely sitting at the table and reading my Bible and journaling and knowing that I had three hours to do whatever I wanted. I miss TIME. I miss the change of pace, the way we would work by the sun, never knowing stress or being in a hurry. I miss life in Peru =)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Selfishness- Honestly I'm Struggling

When I was in Peru, one of my biggest fears was going back to how I used to be living- spiritual complacency. Now that I’ve been back in America for two months I’m facing that fear and I’m realizing that I’ve got a big problem and it’s not going to be easy.

You see it’s not that going to another country makes you unselfish or makes you giving or makes you love God more. But what it does do, is give you a mirror. It pushes you off the fence we Americans typically love to sit on. You see in Peru you can’t fake it—everything is out in the open- and often appears just as is

One of my favorite quotes says something about “Having the courage to change your life if you don’t like where you’re going.” I think that’s about where I’m at right now. See I can justify myself and why my actions have been Christian and why I’ve had a great summer, but then when I truly get all alone and talk to the God of the Universe He asks me Brooke where are you? When have you been reading your Bible? With how much time did you seek me in prayer? How did you truly sacrifice yourself for my name without seeking self- benefit?

I can’t wrap my mind around the 360 degree radical change between Peru and America between living rich and living impoverished between waking up everyday not knowing what you are doing, just knowing you are there to serve and waking up everyday with a job and friends and things you want to do for yourself.

It’s HARD. It’s hard because I’m comfortable, I’m EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE right now. I’m getting back into my happy friend group, I dropped my eating disorder I developed in Peru and have dropped about 10lbs, I’ve bought myself tons of new cute clothes and things I thought I just needed. I’m healthy again- no pain, no worries.

I need to forgive myself and pray to God because I’ve gotten to comfortable again. I’m focused on me too much AGAIN. “I NEED GOD”, I must remind myself because sometimes, honestly, I forget. I think I’m doing ok. I think I’m being nice. And then I realize GOD WOW WHEN DID I LOSE YOU? I DO REALLY NEED YOU.

Luke 11:34 talks about your eyes and I possibly want to talk about this verse out of context for a few minutes and apply it to my struggle. What have I been looking at this summer? I’ve been looking at myself. I’ve been watching myself get healthy again, start to get in shape, start to fix my hair up, start to reconnect to friends, be a good spiritual director, be a good lifeguard again. Where have my eyes been? They’ve been on ME.

Even though I’ve prayed over campers, been kind to campers, tried to be a spiritual role model to campers, helped campers with life situations, encouraged other staff… it’s been about me. And honestly this really hurts, this really disgusts me. But I believe many of us Christians if we are honest enough with ourselves, could admit the same thing. AMERICA MAKES IT EASY AND CONVENIENT TO BE SELFISH. The devil makes business seem productive and sacrificial but really it’s a tool of the devil to distract us from looking at God and others and seeing their needs and truly being in communion with them.

“The widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives”- 1 Timothy 5:6
Ouch that’s a hard verse- but it’s awakening.

2 Timothy 1:6 says “Fan into the flame of God, which is in you….”
“Preach the Word,; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction.” Titus 4:2

Because of Jesus, there is hope for me. I don’t want to live for myself. I want to live and breathe for Christ. God, I pray for forgiveness and I pray that you help me to live for you in a selfish world. Teach me how to fan into the Godly flame every day that I  be set on fire and set apart.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Best 4th of July Ever- this is what camp's about

Last night was the best 4th of July ever! It was one of those WOW nights that changes your perspective and really rocked my summer. For me, it was the night that made everything worth it- the stress, multi tasking, criticism, and hard work- God really gave me a picture and showed me how He's slowly writing my story.

 It started out with a Friday night skit that I played in and wrote myself (with help from my mom and willing staff) at the beginning of the summer. The programming really went well last night- the agape feast, the foot washing, the pastor's message, and the intense pantomine. It was dark inside, candle lit, complete with fruits, bread bowls, fancy nuts, smoothies, and communion bread and grape juice.

Dani and I went one by one to each of our campers asking them if they would like us to wash their feet. It hurt my heart when three of our girls answered no. It was the first time all summer some of our girls had said no. It just made my heart ache for these three girls, who are very dark seeming and appear to have issues with depression and cutting. I wondered to myself how I could reach these girls, how to break through to them.

After washing one of my campers' feet (coincidentally one of two campers I specifically asked not to have due to special needs),  this special camper asked me if she could wash my feet. I smiled and I said yes. It was really touching and special that she wanted to wash my feet and she even prayed with me. All summer long, no one has ever washed my feet. It brought back sweet memories from Peru, when my best friend Kaitie Kat washed my feet when my hands were hurt and diseased and I couldn't wash hers.

After the program, we asked campers to come up if they wanted to make a decision for Jesus or get baptized. We had about 25 campers come up one by one. It started slowly with one camper bravely standing, then two more would come. Finally with music or prayer one by one campers boldly made decisions for Christ. I was so proud of them.

Afterwards, I talked to two girls about their lives and some issues they were facing at home. I was really touched by one of the girls I talked too. She had overcame cutting all by herself and was choosing to live for Jesus in a totally toxic environment. Her mom and dad had left her and she was homeschooled by her grandparents and bullied in her self-defense classes, but still she was clinging to Christ.

I talked to another sweet girl who again was in a terrible situation at home. I prayed with her that God would bring her a spiritual role model and good best friend into her life who would be there with her. The girl had no devotional book or Biblical book other than a Bible to call her own, so I promised her, I would find her one.

Around 10 campers came up to talk to the camper and make a decision for baptism. Two of them were the special girls that I had in my cabin. These girls have some special needs and almost weren't even allowed to come to camp this year. I had asked specifically not to have these campers in my cabin because I thought I was too busy and stressed to deal with special campers. Somehow God always has His way, and they were placed in my unit. Through the week, I have gotten to know these girls and they are really sweet angels who are beautiful blessings. They have been coming to this camp for over five years and never been interested in being baptized. I am just so proud of them this year and so amazed at God's work. God is so good.

After the program and afterglow, Dani, Erica, and I walked our girls down to the lake for a special starlight and reflection time. We looked at the stars in the silence. Then, for the first time ever, Dani, Erica, and I shared our testimonies with the girls. We told them our stories, our struggles, and God's work. We talked about how much He loved them and wanted to be part of our lives. We talked about how soon Christ was coming and how soon the pain and depression of this world could go away. We talked about how to experience the peace of Jesus.

With shining stars and booming fireworks in the distance, counselors and campers opened up to each other for the first time. Two of the girls who struggled with cutting didn't openly talk, but their faces and actions showed it all. I really believe God reached us all that night. It was something special that I can't openly describe or talk about- because there were some personal matters and situations revealed- but I know without a doubt, God was there.

God was in the stillness just as much as He was in every booming firework that shook the boat dock we layed on in the dark night. That night God assured me that He was in my life and that He was using me.

I'm just so astounded by Christ. Oh how much He loves us. Oh what God can do in the least of us, if we open our hearts to follow Him. Thank you God for the ways you've used me this summer. Thank you God for amazing spiritual role models you've put into my life. Thank you God for taking care of me and wrapping your arms around my heart. I love you.