Friday, July 31, 2015

Goodbye Wewoka

I have been at Wewoka Woods since I was seven years old. I was a camper there until I was 16 and I have worked there for six wonderful years as a counselor, lifeguard, lake director, and finally this year spiritual director. It has been quite the journey indeed and this beautiful camp and family will always hold a special place in my heart. This year I feel God calling me to say goodbye to this place even though it has changed my life in so many ways and means so much to me!



These are just a few pics of camp from the summer I started working there since I was 16. I want to just share some of my top highlights from camp and the ways in which it changed my life the most.

* My first summer at camp, I was 16 and insecure. Camp taught me how to be myself and I made amazing friends and role models that encouraged me that I was valuable and beautiful. I fell in love with camp and taught canoeing all summer long.

* Getting ran into by a mini bull while dressed in a clown costume- 2009

* Getting to be a full time counselor by myself 2011; I fell in love with counseling and the girls. They loved me and I loved them.

* Helping a young girl accept Jesus in her heart and leading her to baptism 2011.

* Giving my first staff worships, terrified, I began to learn about sharing Jesus in public 2010.

* My first lifeguarding save 2012

* Learning to drive the boat and overcoming some of my fears of driving. 2013

* Boat director- all day long playing and swimming in the summer sun. 2014

*Finally, this year, getting to be spiritual director and encourage staff and campers about God. I never ever thought I would get to this place or be able to "preach" up front. So in love with Jesus' grace.

* Getting to help put together and be the angel in the Story: the Story of the final scenes of Christ's life.

God has been good to me and so has Wewoka! I am grateful and blessed =) Moving on, saying goodbyes is hard but I know God will continue to lead.

I choose you

How beautiful and wonderful it is to be chosen.
To be the one selected from the crowd.
To be the first choice

Eyes brightening big smile
So excited that it's you
He is talking too
He wants nothing else but you

Do you believe that God chose you before you were born?
He saw you, saw everything inside of you
And yet still chose to love you forever
He said I will die for you

40 days in hunger and pain
Starving, thirsty
He chose you

Whipped, blood, tears
Separation from His best friend and family
He chose you

Yes He chose you indeed..
But will you choose Him?

Will you choose Him over money, school, dates, friends, popularity, new movies?
Will you choose Him every day?
Or will you leave Him there on the cross hanging?

I choose you Father
To be my King forever
No matter what the cost on this earth may be
I choose you

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.


Self-image

When it rains it pours.

The devil is at work in this world.  For us to not acknowledge his presence, we would be stupid and naive. But for us to dwell on the problems he's creating, we would miss the miracles and beautiful strategies of our Savior to try and prove His love to us over and over again.

Yes we must be aware of Satan's strategies against us and we must know how he personally attacks each one of us, so that even when he tries to hurt us where we hurt the most, we can stand boldly and strongly in the face of our Lord and Savior Jesus and say "I am His."

I want to share one of the ways the devil attacks me even though it is a very personal issue. I believe so many girls and young woman struggle with this and they deal with it in so many different ways. But I want to write about it because I believe that overcoming this is one of my greatest testimonies in Christ Jesus my Lord and I would like to help other young women to overcome.

 One of the biggest ways the devil attacks me is through self- hatred and body- image issues. I have struggled with this ever since I was little but over the past three years, the fight has gotten alot worse. I know that I am not alone in this battle.

Statistically, 91% of all girls are unhappy with their bodies and 80% of ten year olds are terrified of being fat. This issue saddens me so much! The Bible says that we are created in the image of God; we are on this earth to build relationships with each other and edify each other in honor of Christ, yet so often girls are emotionally terrorized or living in fear because they feel so ugly and they feel they do not deserve to be loved because of how they look.

Girls deal with this in so many different ways from building walls around their hearts, moving from boyfriend to boyfriend to satisfy their desire to be loved, eating disorders from eating too little to too much. There are so many different ways of coping. Many girls refuse to get help with their struggles even though this issue can affect families and future relationships forever.

My personal struggles with low self- esteem began when I had a best friend that was really beautiful. She would always talk about being skinny and I would watch boy after boy go after her. I was about nine years old when this started. She was always very flirtatious and it seemed that she would always talk to the guys, and they would just ignore me. It got to the point where I didn't try to talk to the guys at all. I didn't really care about them so just had my fun playing and practicing sports while my best friend would flirt and flirt for attention. To me, even though I never realized it, I told myself that I was good at sports and playing with the guys but that I wasn't pretty enough to flirt with them. This was just a tiny lie that somehow crept in when I was really small.

As I got older, I loved playing sports, being athletic, exercising; there were so many team sports that really helped my confidence and I had so much fun playing competitively all through high school. After high school though, I had a hard time readjusting when I could no longer play competitive sports and needed to spend more time studying in school. Even though I wasn't close to being overweight, I gained a few pounds and began to feel self-conscious about my size. I constantly wished I was short and petite. Life went on, it was fun and all but there was always that lie that Satan threw at me "You're not pretty enough; You're not good enough."

When I went on a mission trip for a year to Peru I gained about 20 pounds and this was really difficult for me. I began to struggle with an eating disorder and depression and I just didn't know how to be healthy and love myself for who I was. It was so difficult because I was like I'm serving Jesus so why I am getting fat. I loved Peru and my memories in Peru will never be forgotten, but it was a difficult time as well. The devil knew how he could tempt me and get me distracted from Him. When I focused on myself and my own body image, I became depressed. Only by reading my Bible and prayer, I could look up to my Savior and serve others joyfully. On this journey in Peru I met my best friend who has a very similar struggle and ever since we became sisters, we pray for each other and help each other overcome when the devil tries to tell us his lies.

The beautiful thing is I tried so many ways to lose weight it was crazy, but nothing helped me. My best friend and I even created our own FNF Fit Not Fat club and made crazy no eating sugar pledges and work out plans. But nothing worked! Yet as I started praying to God and crying out to Him, He began to heal my wounds. I think the first thing Jesus showed me is that I did have a problem. That soemthing was wrong, that I wasn't just making things up. But that this was a temptation from the devil, that I had to overcome through Him. I started praying that God would help me and for reals, he was the only reason I got through.

Going back to the states was so humiliating but I was determined to focus on God and to overcome my eating disorder through Him. It wasn't something fast. Girls are always looking for quick fixes and losing weight or looking differently is never going to work like that. If you try to lose weight quickly, you will hurt your body and probably in the end gain more weight. But slowly, as God began to teach me to be content and to trust Him no matter what the circumstances, slowly and surely, with exercise and healthy eating, I did begin to lose weight and I was so excited.

I feel like we as girls are so critical of our bodies and we live in a world that makes it so challenging to be comfortable with who you are. With the media constantly raising expectations and flashing flawless photos of what beauty should look like, it makes it difficult to love yourself through Christ's eyes.

For me God really blessed because He gave me the opportunity to become a personal trainer for Him. It was something I didn't think I could do, but somehow he helped me , and now I get the opportunity of helping other people to get in better shape physically but most importantly to overcome their mental battles and realize that they are precious and loved in God's sight no matter what they look like or what other people think of them.

I want to encourage you, that whatever your battle is: know that you are not alone and know that you are an overcomer in Christ's eyes. Your identity is not based on what other people think of you nor how you see yourself. You are Christ's child and you are more than enough for Him.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder or low body image issue, I encourage you to get help. This doesn't mean you have to go to a counselor, but honestly there's nothing wrong with them and they can make a big different. But 1. realize you have a need, 2. pray to God to help you, 3. tell someone you trust whom you know can help, and 4. Be patient.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Goodbyes

They say there's a time for everything
A time to say hello
And a time to say goodbye

Life changes
Different seasons
People change
I change too

Friends come and go
Just like seasons
Some of them impacting your life forever
In ways you never know

And I know that you will always be
One of those people to me
That changed my life
In some little way
And that impacted my heart forever

I know I have to say goodbye
And it's hard
I wish that you would hold me tight
But I know it wouldn't help at all

I know we have to part ways
Trusting heavenly angels and having faith
That if Christ wants us to see again
Then He will let lead and we will go

As my eyes fill with tears
That I try hard to mask
And silence fulfills the ground
I whisper..

Goodbye
For today, for tomorrow
For next week, for this year
For however long til Jesus bids you through

Goodbye my special friend

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Experience the Power

**Last week I was struggling with sickness. This is something I wrote Wednesday while I was laying in bed. I was pretty miserable when all of a sudden, I realized I hadn't opened my Bible in quite a few days. I started reading the book of Acts and God really touched me. I honestly feel like he gave me that time off from camp and my job so that I would spend time with Him. My Father knows exactly what I need at the right time.**

As I take medication and lay in bed, I have to read the book of Acts in awe. As I read about how the apostles heal many, I can't help but wonder “what was it like”? What was it like to be able to heal people in Jesus' name? Why can't I do that? What is it like to be healed and know without a doubt that it was Jesus' hand that touched you. And I just can't help but imagine Jesus saying to me...

"I would love for you to experience my power in that way and I am willing to reveal my power to you in that way...
if only you had the faith."

You see all summer at my camp, we've been talking about what it means to experience the power of God. We've looked at what having a real relationship with God looks like and we've talked about baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. But I guess where I'm at right now is what does Christ's power really look like? And why do we not see His power demonstrated in bigger ways any more? How can my life be a manifestation of not just God's love but His amazing power.

As I read the book of Acts, Christ is really beginning to open up my eyes.

Yes a real relationship with God starts with surrendered time to Christ daily. Every day we need quality time with God, way more than just ten minutes a day reading a devotion. I believe Christ calls us to set aside an hour every day to truly surrender, pray, and meditate on His word. For me this is oh so difficult. But it is my goal. This uninterrupted daily quiet time with God releases the powerhouse of Christ.


But we are not to continue living our lives with God, just to act the same way, or continue in the same habits. Day by day our lives should be changed by the Word of God. If the Holy Spirit is really living in us, we should be different then the rest of the world. We should have power. Christ wants us to have power for Him!

The power of Christ means that you can take physical pain, torture, slavery, persecution without complaints or grumbling and continue to sing praises to Jesus. The power of Christ means that you can give your money, your prized belongings, and your time away generously without second thought of does this person deserve it or when am I going to get more. The power of Christ means that you have faith in what God wants for you whether that means you are poor, alone, homeless, or without a job- it means you believe that whatever circumstance you are in, you can still work for Jesus. The power of God means that you can heal others. The power of God means that you can reach out to others in tongues or know the exact words they need that will bless them at a certain time. The power of God makes you bold when you are afraid, kind when you are angry, and loving when others have hurt you.

This power should not be something we simply read about. Christ asks us to accept His Holy Spirit and to let it change our lives. Acts 1:8 one of our Bible verses for camp says "But you shall recieve power when the Holy Spirit shall come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and to the end of the earth."

May God bless you with grace and peace =)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sweet Jesus

If the love of God is in the heart, it will be manifested in the life. The sweet savor of Christ will surround us, and our influence will elevate and bless.” If you are anything like me, this statement may make you tremor or cower back to the last church pews.

Do people see Jesus in me? Do people smell Jesus in me? In the way in which I work for Christ, can they tell a difference? Does my life redirect people to God's holiness and awe?

That's scary. Because when I look at myself, I tend to see all my flaws, all the things that I could better do for a righteous King. I know that I myself fall short of God's glory and am only saved by His never-ending grace that pours on me like a showers of rain. I know that me alone- I can never even begin to paint an accurate picture of Christ. Yet because of His love for me, if I bask in Him, He will help me to do just this...

There's something sweet about Jesus that draws people to Him: people who are in need. People in need of healing, people in need of laughing, people in need of sleeping, people in need of smilinyyg through life's storms find hope and comfort in the presence of Jesus. There's something wonderful about Jesus and Jesus' wants to share this wonderfulness with me and you so that we can better represent His love to the world. Brothers and sisters, what a privilege we have to get to be ambassadors of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Strong girl

I have a heart too
It just doesn't make noises like yours
And you can't see it
So you might forget it's there sometimes

The tears inside of me
Seem to get stuck
In the brain part of my body
I process them but they don't release

When you make fun of me
And I laugh
And you say "You love me"
Swear words run through my mind
As I smile at you
And pretend I'm just fine

I'm the tough one
The one whom you can joke
The girl you can tell anything too
The one who is strong
And never cries

The one who hears sob stories
And death and goodbyes
Without a second glance as you leave me
Alone I will walk by myself
And pretend that I don't care at all

Because at least you tell me
the truth
I am strong
I can fight
I don't need you anyways

At least that's what I tell myself-

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Patience

Patience: "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset"

Nobody enjoys pain, waiting, trouble, or difficulties. In this world, it is acceptable to complain, whine, grumble, and cry out when we are experiencing challenges. Yet Jesus calls us to accept pain and trouble differently than what the world does.

At the cross, Jesus could have lashed out. He could have fought. He could have taken himself down from that horrible place- he had the power if he so chose to use it. Yet Jesus patiently endured. Unlike the thiefs to his right and left, Jesus willingly took his cross and bore our sins to us. Yet He didn't take His cross up for us, so that we could whine and fight when asked to carry ours.

He said if you follow me, know that you will have to die on your own cross. Dying to death to ourselves (our selfishness and every comfortable, natural human inclination we hold) is painful. Christ does not say "if we have hardships to endure.. but He says when we have hardships we must endure patiently.

Julius Caesar says that "It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”


It is easy to look at Christians who are living happy lives praising God and think that's great for them.. but at at least their life doesn't look like mine.It is easy to give thanks to God when things are going great for us. But truly we must prepare ourselves, to withstand the tests and trials of our salvation. We must prepare ourselves to be strong in a battle bigger than ourselves. For our time shall come quickly..

The greatest testimonies are through saints who endure trouble patiently.Just look at the Dark Ages, the times of persecution is when the church growth increased the most. Nothing makes a statement more than suffering in extreme anguish or pain, yet having the peace of Jesus that is manifested to others and sings through the darkness "My Jesus is more than enough for me".

Patience is more than endurance (Chambers). It's being willing and joyful when God chooses to stretch you out like an arrow to shoot you where He may please and you may not understand. Revelation 3:10 says "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience."

May our heart cry to Jesus be for Him to work as He pleases in us, preparing us for the last days and to patiently take up our crosses behind Him in hopes of heavenly triumph.

life- missions

--It's funny because I wrote this one year ago, and I couldn't describe what I want from life right now any better than I have wrote it then. --

When people ask me what I want to do with my life, sometimes I don't know what to say. I don't want to be a teacher, a lawyer, or a doctor. I don't want to be a policeman, an Olympic athlete, or even an EMT, I want to follow God around the world. So they say “Oh you want to be a missionary”- thus comes the cliche- wow your gonna marry a pastor and go live in Africa, homeschool your vegetarian children and wear long skirts every day- and oh ya they ask me- “How are you gonna make enough money to be a missionary?” Are you even going to be able to support your children? Why are you so irresponsible? All you want to do is travel the world they say.. you'll never save the orphans.

I don't want to travel around the world to live in nice places or see luxorious sights. I don't want to go to Africa because I believe I can save little babies and be some kind of superhero. I don't want to be in the midst of an African War. Nor do I enjoy living in filth, having lice, and living in the midst of serious sickness and disease. But I do want to help people around the world because I know that I have more than them. I know that God blessed me with abundance so that I may give.

What is abundance you say? Abundance is more food than I can eat at one meal, more clothes than I need for one week, more shoes than three kids will have in a year. Abundance is relative and so is wealth. Many Americans feel they are lower or middle class but fail to realize they are richer than 70% of the world and that many people live on less than $1 every day.

I don't know if I want to spend my entire life living in a foreign country. I definitely want to give my children the opportunity to live in both a foreign land as well as America. I definitely don't want to live the American Dream lifestyle and live a life of comfort and economical stability in the United States. I want to travel the world, have a small family, and help less fortunate and children around the world who are not as blessed as I was.

I care a lot about the health ministry: nutrition, clean water and food, access to medical care, and treatment for preventable diseases. I love mission trips and various non profits. I would love to get an internship with World Vision and see more of how they work. I think disaster relief would be extremely cool.

I'm not exactly sure where I'm headed in life- maybe into some sort of missionary life. I know it won't be easy, and I'm not so naive that I believe traveling the world will always be fun. I know there are serious risks, health concerns, and hazards. I know that I will be living in poverty and that my family will probably not be stable at all times.

Despite the challenges, I feel addicted and called to service. I want to live a life I won't regret later. I don't know exactly what I want to do with my life but I know I want to follow God around the world.

Right now I'm pursuing nursing and a masters degree in Global Community Development.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Beautiful testimony

I will call her Lindsey. She is thirteen years old and has a prosthetic eye in one eye and glaucoma and cataracts in the other. Because of the grace of God, Lindsey can see. Lindsey attends the school for the blind and is so in love with Jesus. She has become the best friend of *Kailey. Kailey is completely blind. She is a tall girl who loves to wear basketball shorts. She lost her eye sight suddenly one eye at a time and is free spirited. Kailey has to be led around everywhere she goes since she can see nothing.

Lindsey, even though she can see, and can walk around as she pleases, chooses to always guide Kailey. They are best friends- they do everything together and share their deepest secrets. Lindsey and Kailey decided that because of their love for Jesus, they want to get baptized together

Lindsey and Kailey have deeply impacted my life. They are so connected. Lindsey sacrifices alot of her life for Kailey. The bond they have is deep- it is a real friendship- in a world of selfishness and manipulative friends, they are shining lights for Jesus. Today Lindsey and Kailey shared their testimonies in front at church.

Lindsey is one of the most powerful preachers I've ever met and she's only 13. She addressed her message to the blind campers today. "You may be blind. And your struggle will be difficult. She said. But God gives His hardest battles to His toughest soldiers. You may be blind, but God has a purpose for you. You are His strongest. You are to share your testimony. To preach to the poor, to share the Bible, to tell others about His name. No matter what your struggle may be, God wants to use it for His glory."

Amen. This thirteen year old girl understands some things about Jesus that many many old people are failing to understand.

What's your battle? Are you a victim or an overcomer? How can you use your story to better show the world the glory of your Savior?








His Story

I can't believe it's finally here. The weekend I used to look forward too as a child for so long mostly for the hopes of Easter egg hunts, coloring eggs, and a special church service, has arrived. Good Friday has just passed and resurrection Sunday is here. It's the weekend we as a church dedicate to Christ's death and resurrection on a cross. A weekend we try to focus extra hard on the purpose of His death and how it changes life for us as Christians for all of eternity.

I can't help but meditate over the last few weeks and this semester and think that it was hard. That my life right now is in a place I never thought it would get. This semester has possibly been one of the darkest semesters of my college years and maybe my whole life, not specifically for one reason, but I've just been struggling through some things. Today though, as I helped with Sonrise, God reminded me of what He's done in my life and some ways He has worked in me and He reminded me that He will finish the good work He has started.

I think so often we hear the stories of Jesus yet we do not experience them. We hear about His death on the cross for us, so many times, that we may forget the power and the glory. We become numb to experiencing the emotional experience of what Jesus' death and life mean for us. In this way, acting is so powerful because when we can truly see and hear, we realize this is real. This is not just a children's story or a fable but this is my life, my destiny, and my Savior in His hands and He went through this for me. The thing I can say from the bottom of my heart, is that it is well in my soul and that is only because of Christ alone because He has defeated all darkness for my sake.

As I helped with Sonrise for a few hours yesterday ( which is an amazing, immaculate production of Jesus's death and resurrection), God reminded me of a huge miracle He did last summer for me and for Wewoka Woods camp. Last summer when I was spiritual director I had the opportunity of co-producing a drama called "The Story" which was a day two journey through the past to meet people whom Jesus' life changed and then ultimately to meet Jesus and experience His death and resurrection.

I think for me I will never be able to describe the way this story changed my life. Never before has His story  became so real: Jesus' sacrifice and the glory in the hour of His death. There were just so many miracles that went on week after week behind the scenes in the production of the skit and just in the story itself that I saw God in a whole new way.
--
It was one hour before the story and none of the cast was dressed. We were down three actors for the play and we had three brand-new people subbing in. 30 minutes later, we were all running wild, putting on the costumes, the makeup, trying to get ourselves and some of the new lines together. Something is wrong we thought. The atmosphere is different. Soon the blind campers had arrived and our program was still in shambles. We must start with what we have.

The play needed to begin. The blind campers were waiting. We gathered together and prayed and joked that we should pray some more.Then the story began.. just like it had many weeks before. The campers' met Jesus and walked with him..

 The Last Supper, then the Garden of Gethsemane. As I paused in my lines, I heard one of the adult blind campers' crying out to God "Why? Why did you suffer for us Jesus? He did it all for me." He was yelling out to God, vocalizing the intense feelings that many campers felt in their hearts.

Then came the trial and the walk to the cross. The walk was down a steep hill and we tried to see if a golf cart would make it down the trail, but our efforts failed. As the music played we wondered how we will get some of the campers down that hill. Then two of our male staff had an idea.

"Could we carry you? they asked *Sarah one of the campers who couldn't walk? Yes, she smiled with relief, eager to participate and see Jesus' death. Gently, carefully, step by step they carried Sarah down the rocky hill and gently placed her on the bench.

Jesus began to die and the sky began to darken. As we heard the final cries of Jesus, it all went quiet. The pastor began to make His call. After His call *Henry walked up and looked at Jesus. He cried out to Him "Father father I have sinned against your name. He began to cry out to God for forgiveness and talk to Jesus on the cross.

I stood beside *Henry in my angel costume. It was an awkward- yet beautiful moment and all the camp staff watched from afar curious of what was going on. Finally *Henry quieted down and asked for prayer. I stood beside Him as we prayed and thanked Jesus for His sacrifice for us and resurrendered our lives to Him.

My heart was heavy as I listened to His prayer and I longed for the honesty and genuine of this man. I wondered at his dedication. The way He ran to Jesus. The way He talked to Him. The way He didn't care what others thought of Him as He knew He must talk to His Savior.

My heart knew only one thing "this is why I'm here." This is the best part of camp: telling the story of Jesus. And I longed within me to break down and cry at Jesus' feet just like this man beside me. My heart felt heavy as I realized summer camp was ending. Today is my last day with the blind campers, and after that all we have is camp meeting.

How did summer camp change me? Did I make an impact in any of the staff or campers' lives? I don't know yet and maybe I'll never understand the full picture until the day Jesus comes again.

One thing I can say for sure is the story changed my life the most- this play- that started as only an idea that we doubted could really happen- became the highlight of camp. And I want this story- His story to be the gold and the stage and the heart cry of my life forever.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Blinded

Today was the first of my first ever blind camp. It was really cool actually to meet the campers and to see them so happy and joyful. We played this game called "beeper baseball" and us staff had to become blindfolded as well. It was sooo difficult! We were rolling on the ground trying to find that big beepy ball. It looked so easy from afar but trying to play was so difficult.

Playing gave me a totally new perspective of what it's like to be blind. It is challenging and yet the campers, handle their disability so well, hardly noting that anything is wrong. They learn quickly and try hard, but there are a few things that they don't understand...

"I'm so glad I'm not blind." I think to myself.

Oh child- but you are

But I see colors. I see nature. I see people's faces and physical appearances.

Yes but I see their hearts. I see the spiritual war. I see the beginning and the end. I see what matters. I see you differently than you see yourself. I love you even though I have seen the ugliest parts of you.

Why can't I see?

Now is not the time for you to see everything. You would not understand. One day everything I have designed from the beginning, and the glory of my son's plan will be understood by all. On that glorious day, your eyes will be opened and you will see not only outward appearances but you will see the way I see- by the heart.

Why can't I see what my future holds? Why can't I see who you want me to marry? Why can't I see what job you want me to do? Why don't I understand anything that's going on? Why can't I see your face? Why do I sometimes feel so blinded from seeing your love and your glory as if an oak tree is blocking my view of the light.

Patience my child. One day at a time. Do you trust me?
Do you trust me to guide you? Then let me lead you in my way.