Monday, August 28, 2017

Growth from infancy

Psalms 1:1
1. Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
2. Or stand in the way of sinners
3. Or sit in the seat of mockers
4. But his delight is in the law of the Lord
5. and on His law He meditates day and night.
6. He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
7. which yields it's fruit in season
8. and whose leaf does not wither
9. Whatever he does prospers.

My number one goal this year is to grow up in Christ. To put behind me the childlike tendencies of Christianity and to grow into someone who is deeper rooted and producing proper fruits, and ultimately glorifying Christ with my actions. As Paul talks concerned about the Corinthians when he says he could not distinguish their fruits from the worlds' actions, and that they desperately needed to grow up and start taking their walk with God seriously (1 Corinthians 3:2).. this is my desire and my prayer.

Continuing in 1 Corinthians 3 Paul says that he has laid a foundation for the Corinthians in the truth and that someone else is building on it. But that each person must be careful how they are building. "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stray his work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light. Ultimately it says that the house we will build will be tested for quality with the purification fire of Jesus Christ.

So going back to Psalms 1:1 I want to explore how we may grow in Christ following David's advice.
1. Surround yourself with Christian influences and mentors. Do not be succumbed to popularity, attraction, or trying to make yourself something in the world.
2. Avoid sin. Take yourself out of the ways of temptation. Avoid movies, music, and distractions that will further you from Christ.
3. Do not mock others. Do not criticize or think of yourself as something great. Be slow to put others down and quick to be humble and serve.
4. Find your joy in Jesus. Spend time with the Lord for an hour each day. Love Him and delight in His love for you.
5. Memorize and reflect on the Word of God. Let it change your life. Don't just leave it on your shelf but study it dilligently.
6. If you do these things you will become rooted and closer to Christ
7. You will begin to develop the fruits of the spirit and discernment
8. You will develop strength to survive hard times and become steadfast in your beliefs
9. And ultimately you will prosper- not in the ways the world expects- but in doing your creator and in loving Him your heart will be full. This Lord is my desire. Teach me to walk in your truths. Redefine my life so I can praise you and give me the passion and endurance to search for you like a hidden treasure.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Do not be misled..

I told you that I was camp nurse this summer and also deemed camp mom. Many of the staff I worked with are high schoolers going into college. And if I could give any piece of advice to a new college student it would be this-- Be careful who you choose to be your friend. Because you will be influenced SO much by the people you hang around with.

It's not an innovative thought- yet I believe seldom do we realize just how much the people in our life change the way we talk, live, and even view ourselves as a person. The Bible speaks largely about it and even warns "Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33)

I was never popular in school- and I'm typically still not. Elementary school, middle school, high school-- I struggled to make friends. I was never bullied and people always liked me. I normally had one or two good friends in the class. But I was never popular, I never had a clique.. and it isn't until this summer that I think about what a blessing this was in disguise.

Because when you are not popular, you aren't typically peer pressured like the popular kids. You don't get quite as bound by the expectations the cool kids are supposed to have and you may find yourself befriended by weird, shy, nice students- maybe even someone like you. I'm not saying it's wrong to be popular but I'm saying that sadly in highschool and college being in certain popularity groups you can really feel pressured to look and act a certain way.

I care alot about what people think about me- I want people to think I'm cool, kind, and smart. It's a natural desire right to want people to like us- to want to be a part. Yet it's so dangerous when I start to value what other people think about me above what God thinks. And it's dangerous when I don't surround myself with people who love God first. Because if an individual isn't loving God first, they won't have healthy relationship skills. You can only love another person as much as you love God. And people who don't love God will naturally be selfish. People who don't love God will naturally hurt others- not purposefully. But if you are constantly being the stronger person or more spiritualistic person in a relationship- I believe it will start to wear on you and bring you down.

Do not be misled by attraction. Do not be misled by the people that seem to have all the friends in the world, by the people who talk up front, by the people who seem to be something in the social scene- for often this people spend hours working on their image, and sometimes the most "popular" are actually the most insecure of them all.

Do not be misled by trying to stay cool, by feeling pressured to perform, play, or dress a certain way in order to be a part of a group. As much as acceptance may feel nice temporarily a true friend will see beyond the mask you wear and will love what is on the inside. A true friend will use uplifting words and encourage you to love and value yourself. A true friend will not leave you when things get hard.

I just encourage you to take a look at the people you come in contact with on a regular basis and at the closest friends in your life and see if you like their character. Evaluate how they make you feel as an individual and how they are affecting your walk with God. See if they are bringing you up closer to Jesus or taking you further away.

Proverbs 18:24 says A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. If you have one of those friends that always has your back- treasure them- and if you don't, work to become that friend and pray to God for a friend that will be there for you.

Jet lagged but home

Wow it's 11:20pm on a Friday night and instead of sleeping. I woke up from bed to analyze my life, goals, and fears. I guess Alaska jet lag will do that to you as it is only 8:20 over yonder.
I turn on some Christian music and go to my Facebook page and just look at pictures from this amazing summer adventure. It was GOOD. It was really good and my pictures testify to the fact that it was an adrenaline filled, bucket list- crossing summer.

Between flying over beautiful mountains, climbing remote glaciers, sailing in beautiful Whittier, spotting nine bears, seeing a mom and her baby moose crossing the waters, and catching my first salmon it has been a blast.

And yet despite how much fun I had, and the things I learned as a new nurse, I have just a few regrets from this summer. Thinking about how my spiritual life is at a new low and thinking about the ways I could have done better this summer. Thinking about God- where He wants to take me this year- and about the fact that I am such an easily distracted, traveling girl that struggles with waiting.

I guess the fact that I'm 23 has really hit me!! Thanks to my lovely YOUNG camp friends and the fact that I was nicknamed camp mom or nurse lady, I have decided that I'm officially in that awkward- not so much college student phase- and yet not a working young adult either. But I guess after this summer, where I feel like I just enjoyed life and lived spontaneously but a little irresponsibly, the reality of adulting and growing in spiritual maturity has kicked in.

God has truly blessed me with so many amazing opportunities that I have just jumped on and experienced lately. I mean I have traveled to Peru, Dominican, Nicaragua, Korea, Alaska and more places. I've traveled around the states, led mission trips, got random certifications at different gyms. I've made friends in many places and it's like right now the world is my possibility for the options of where I could work, travel, what I could do.

But I guess where I'm at right now is...
I want to prioritize my dedication to God and willingness to serve Him above any adventure, adrenaline, or bucket list goals of my own.

I don't want to settle for a "normal life" where I just live in one place, mundane schedule, content with working a job or being in a relationship I'm not passionate about.

Yet I want to have the peace to be still. I want to have the joy to be content whether I'm world traveling, or water walking, or just at a boring church service.

 I want to follow God more than anything in this world. I don't want to care what the world thinks of me. I don't want to be defined by the things I've done or the things I haven't done. Instead I want to be known for who I am. I want to focus on my character and I want to be Christ's daughter and His faithful follower.

It's late at night and I don't have all the answers. There's alot of things in life I want to do. There's alot of things I think I need. Yet God is the only thing that can truly fulfill the desires of my heart. And I want to give my life to Him. I want to seek Him above any treasure, love Him more than any travel destination, and trust Him more than any one on this earth.

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is Denali

Going to Denali has been on my bucket list ever since I thought about coming to Alaska.
To be honest though, like many tourists and travelers, I didn't know much about Denali before I started to do some research. And even after researching it still seemed confusing. Denali is really big and I had no idea where exactly I should go, what I wanted to hike, all I knew was I wanted a great adventure.

So here's what I first want to explain to people who aren't familiar with Alaska and Denali. There's 3 things that are Denali: first of all is the National park of Denali where 90% of visitors take the train into and then get on a bus and ride in to see animals and maybe even hike around. The second part of Denali is Denali state park to which the national park is in but Denali state park is much much bigger and there are less rules and regulations. The third part of Denali is the mountain Denali or Mount Mckinley. 

So our group originally was going to do Denali national park for a whole week but instead we opted to sail for half of the week and do Denali in 3 days plus travel time. And what we found cheaper and more practical for our group is doing the bus drive to Eilson and seeing the animals at Denali national park and then coming down and the next day doing a 2 day backpacking trip up Kesugi Ridge in Denali state park.

 Denali national park is awesome and it is huge but it is definitely a tourist trap. Getting up there seems to be the most difficult part for many people as a one way train ticket from Anchorage costs about $!40. Our group was able to save tons of money by finding friends and driving four hours from Anchorage to Denali. Once you get to Denali national park there is an enormous guest center and many things you can do at the base just to learn about Denali. The coolest thing we could have done that we didn't get to do is see a Denali dog sled show. Since we were limited at time at base camp Denali we watched a quick movie on the history of Denali and looked at some Mt. Mckinley exhibits.

Their are national park busses that depart from the base or guest center at Denali at various times each day and take you up to the higher places of Denali park where no vehicles are allowed to drive. We chose (and I recommend) taking the bus as far as it will take you which is up to Eilson. Eilson is a 4 hour ride up and 4 hours down but you increase elevation quickly and have the opportunity to see lots of wildlife.

Overall we loved Denali national park but would say it is pretty expensive and might not be worth it if you only have a short time in Alaska. If you are dead set on seeing bears and caribou though it is a definite must. Here's a picture of Lauren and I in Denali as well as a bear cub we saw from the side of the bus. We saw 9 bears and 11 caribou- quite the wilderness experience!!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Salmon and fish hooks

This is my second post about Camp Lorraine in Wrangell Alaska. From the last time I posted, the weather has improved dramatically and it has actually been sunny and warm which is nothing short of a miracle. I have gotten the opportunity of joining in with the third period fishing class and I have been learning about how to fish for halibut and salmon. We have been doing alot of fishing from the dock but some of the days we get to take the kids out in the boats.

So I have been wanting some wild Alaskan salmon all summer and dreams (especially in Alaska) really do come true! Yesterday the pastor caught not just one but 4 wild salmon and a 62 inch halibut!! We had fish, fish, and more fish. Then this morning at 6am I got the opportunity to go early morning fishing and try out the halibut hooks. We didn't have much live bait until I caught about an 11 inch cod fish. And we started using my cod for bait and were able to catch some halibut. So this has made for some very fun fishing and I am SO excited! (Pic below is not of the cod of course but of a flounder my first fish caught Wednesday morning in the Alaskan ocean)

Bad news is one of our lovely campers decided to catch a fish hook in her right foot. Thankfully I was kayaking closeby and I heard the yell and was able to rush in. The pastor was trying to keep her calm and we looked for plyers on the dock but could not find any. The hook was pretty deep in and there was no way to simply pull it out so we decided we would have to cut and pull through. Together we carried her back to shore and performed a little operation in my nursing room. We just pulled off those sleeping bags where I slept covered it with some trash bags and sterile gauze and were good to go. The hook was tough to get out but with the help of James the boat driver we got it out successfully and were able to clean her up. As sad as it was to see the girl in pain, it definitely made me eager to get into an ER and start getting some legit nursing experience. So I have been applying for jobs and really just praying that God would lead where he pleases.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Camp Lorraine

They say that if I look North I'm looking straight up to Canada. Sometimes the cruise boats steer on through and occasionally we'll see a beluga from the shore or canoe. I do love the ocean as it waves familiarity from my home town near the Gulf of Mexico. Yet in contrast to the warmth and humidity, Wrangell Alaska is a cold, dreary, rainy world- beautiful but chilly.

It's my third day here at Camp Lorraine and it's been far and oddly too quiet. It's camp meeting and we have a whopping 25 guests including 5 children who we are entertaining with a kids program. I've already spent over ten hours up in the arts and crafts room mostly working on dream catchers but I did paint a picture or two. I love art without limits and that's what I find at the art club house on the third story of our lodge. With big windows overlooking great ocean views there are buckets of unlimited craft supplies, beads, glitters, and feathers. I love the no expectations, and no rules therapeutic art it creates. Painting and art has always  been the thing that I can do whatever I want with. I love being able to make messes and go crazy. To put my emotions and colors out on paper. With art, you can be out there and it's ok. It's never too much, or overdone, the more different it is the better. Sometimes my creations turn out descent or good but 90% of the time they are just meaningless expressions and that is totally ok with me. It's more about the process, more about the feelings, then it is about the masterpiece. I find myself in the messy art where I let myself go free.

Now that we are here we have only a week of camp left and most of our motivation is severely lacking. It's hard because the quiet and slow reality that camp is near over and we are tired has definitely invaded the camp. People are starting to think about normal jobs and what life after camp will mean.

Transitioning from Palmer camp meeting where I was constantly kayaking, hiking mountains, and even flying- living up the adventurous life is slightly sad and a bit mundane. This will probably be my last summer in Alaska- not because I don't love the wild up here but because I'm getting too old for summer camp and I'm not sure if I could survive the winter down here.Although it's beautiful at Alaska camps, I have way too much time to think. Lack of cellphone service and wifi will do that to you I guess. (I kayaked to cellphone point today so I could blog and call home for a little bit).

At this camp I will be teaching circus class and waterfront as well as of course camp nurse. Camp nurse hasn't been too exciting lately but I've given out a lot of Dayquil, Ibeprofin, and cough drops. I saw a spider bite, some seizures, and a broken finger, some hypothermic kids- and that's about it. Sometimes I feel like I'm just playing camp nurse instead of an actual nurse. I'm excited to practice and develop more nursing skills in the future.