Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Remember the Stars

I was baptized on June 28, 2006, but honestly I would say I truly began living for Christ began four years later. I've told the story a hundred times, but after a trip to Europe, I returned home to only switch sessions at Camp Deer Run. Switching from 2nd to 4th was a difficult experience for me; I suppose you could say it was the first time I truly found myself relying on God. But ever since those two weeks, I've been a different person. I've learned to truly be a woman of God who seeks after God's heart. So as I always do near the end of the year, I reflect on my life. Where has God brought me since that summer and so I would like to share with you some of my milestones. That summer, the summer of 2010, my counselor told us to always remember the stars. And every time I look at the stars, I do remember. I remember the person I was or the person that I could've been, but because of those 12 days, I am a completely different individual. So, I like to see how far I've come and relive the highlights of the past three years. This is the story of my life, and it is probably more for my benefit than yours. What is life if you don't take the time to recall the frozen past?

This picture is the first picture taken after a night of fire and prayer that transformed my heart forevermore. Every two week session, on the middle Sunday, we have All Night Prayer. All throughout the night, cabin after cabin wakes up and gathers around the fire for a special time of prayer. It is always a 'breakthrough' moment as a cabin of 10 girls truly shares their hearts and comes together in Christ. So as a broken 16 year-old consumed with fitting in with high school, I poured out my heart that night with my sisters in Christ. I had never known what it was like to truly be myself, and for the first time I had peace in knowing that I didn't have to pretend anymore. People would love me and care for me. So when this picture was taken two days later, it has always served as a reminder to me that I no longer have to wear a mask. I can be myself and let my true joy in Christ radiate throughout everything I do.

My junior year was by far my favorite year of high school. It was difficult, but it was my favorite for a number of reasons. I loved Friday Night Football, and I loved that my best friends and I began a gardening business called UnPEAlievable. I began taking college classes in five week hybrids, and my friends and I probably spent a hundred dollars on McDonald's cinnamelts and french fries every week. We had a fake baby and we named her Trudy, and as part of a school project we fed her and cried when she cried in the middle of the night. It was my first prom, and I went with my best friends. We went to state in basketball. Every week was filled of joy, and I thanked God constantly for transforming my life. These precious memories have always stayed with me.

Karly and I during
SHINE our freshmen
year at A&M.
The  next summer at Camp Deer Run was my final summer as a camper. Sure it was full of lasts as a camper, but I saw it more as a time to truly work on my friendships. In two weeks, Karly and I took our friendship to a new level. We shared our hearts and struggles, and of course laughed a lot. One memory from Outcamping will always stick with me. Karly and I decided we could 'rough it' and didn't sleep on the tarp, so we set up our camp a few yards away from the others girls. On the way to our sleeping bags one night, Karly stepped in dog poop and we spent the night hysterical as we cleaned her shoe, and then basically slept in the dirt. No shower ever felt better after those two nights in the woods. My friendship with Karly began at my favorite place in the world when my favorite counselor and group leader introduced us, assuring me we would become best friends. It didn't happen immediately, but slowly I watched as God blessed our friendship. My senior year we wrote letters every week, and I even had the opportunity to visit her. My friendship with Karly is more proof that changing sessions at Camp Deer Run in 2010, was truly the hand-work of God.

My parents

Senior Year was bitter-sweet. It was filled of lasts, and I made sure to appreciate every single one. I loved that I spent my last year at home getting closer to my parents and grandparents, all the while making memories with my high school friends. I spent every Thursday at my grandparents going fishing and simply valuing their wisdom and this is by far my favorite memory. I also love that I actually befriended my parents, and that I took time to make a relationship with  my mom and dad. My senior year was a year of material blessing as we had finally moved into our new house, and I got my first car. I remember asking God how he could bless me so much, but I never took it for granted. I will always cherish my hometown, and the generosity of my small community.

Maryn, Kiele, and I on our first staff weekend.
As I graduated, I embarked upon a journey that I had dreamed of ever since I was a little girl. Two days after graduating, I fully embraced my role as a counselor at Camp Deer Run. For 10 weeks I lived in the piney woods, and I loved every minute. I witnessed the power of prayer, and the power of our God to bring people together in such unity I never knew. As the summer drew to a close, I could tell I was a different woman, more mature in my faith. I am so thankful that I spent my summer before college at camp.

Saying goodbye was so much harder than I expected it to be.
College was everything I had wanted and hoped it would be and so much more. Yes, I faced many valleys, many of which I still struggle to pull myself out of, but by far the good times surpass the bad. My classes are difficult, and it is so much harder than I thought it would be to be seperated from my family. I don't call or write nearly enough, but I hope that my family, including my church family, can realize just how much they mean to me. I don't come home without reason, so sorry everyone! I am completely in love with A&M and my life there. I am part of Aggies for Christ, which has provided me so many opportunities. I enjoy my weekend trips and my Weeklong to Fosters; but what I love most is HYPE and the many service opportunities that AFC has offered me. I have traveled to Nicaragua, and spent my Christmas break there working with a organization called With One Hope. Last Christmas, when I traveled to Nicaragua was one of many highlights in my spiritual life. I left that trip with a new heart, filled to the maximum with love for children that I couldn't even speak to. I learned a story of love that I had never learned before, and I will always cherish my 8 days in Nicaragua. Through AFC, I have also made my best friends. I learned what it is like to have friends who share your faith, your passion, for Christ and am so blessed to see them almost every day of the week.
My precious girls from 6th session 2013.
 While AFC has helped me grow in my faith, I have also grown from my continued role as counselor at Camp Deer Run. Returning for a second summer, one that was more difficult than the first, I learned a lesson of enduring in trials. I witnessed the miracle of prayer, and I was able to witness as God worked in not only my heart, but as he worked on the hearts of my precious campers. Camp Deer Run 2013 had a theme of 'Praise His Name' and just like our theme, I had to learn to truly Praise God through everything. With difficult campers, like the homesick girl who would not cooperate, or learning to praise God as I sent a camper back to an abusive home after we had exhausted every option, I had to learn to Praise God. It was a beautiful lesson for me and I know that it was definitely preparation for the semester at school to follow.

Volunteering at St. Joe's
While I have spent a majority of my time on the 'highlights' I have faced my valleys too. I have struggled with feelings of loneliness, even when surrounded by so many friends. I have struggled in the classroom feeling as if I was not adequate enough to be studying at this awesome university. But even through these valleys, I have found myself learning and growing from these experiences. I have come to trust God in a new sort of confidence, and I have full trust that HIS plan is greater than I could have expected. I have learned the hard way, in a humbling way, that I have been pursuing my own success over God's. So with that said, I am changing my major to pursue a career as a nurse. Yes, I finally made a decision about my life, and this time I'm fully trusting God and not turning back. I am volunteering at the hospital and by loving my patients and working with the staff, I have full confidence now that this is a field of medicine that God has called me to. I look forward to the opportunities I will have in the nursing profession, and it is my prayer that it will lead me overseas for mission work. Another change in my life has been my recent interest in training for half-marathons, and hopefully one day I will run a full-marathon. I've gone from couch potato, to a dedicated runner… well it's what I call myself at least. Running has become a way for me to step back from my stressful classes, and truly release my energy into something positive.

These are the girls who have made my college experience so wonderful!
My life has changed so much over the past three years, and I thank God every day that it has. I believe that every day I'm growing closer to my Creator. While I struggle and fall short, I have not stopped pursuing a relationship with him. I thank God every day for the people who stand beside me in this journey. I thank him for a supportive family, and for grandparents who are always quick to build me up and encourage me. I thank God for my two roommates Alex and Lucie, and Alex's fiancĂ©, Jaxon, who are always there to offer advice, and are so patient when I 'slack' on the dishes. I also thank God that they don't get too mad when I am always soaking my feet in the tub haha.  I thank God for allowing me to develop a closer relationship with my high school friend, Holly, because I would not be where I am today without her honesty. I thank God for my friends Amber, Kelsi, Karly, Tabitha, Kambry and Kassie, because I realize it truly is a blessing to be surrounded by so many Christian woman who are slow to speak and quick to listen. Their accountability and friendship has carried me through so much this semester. There are so many other friends I thank God for. I thank him for the freshmen class, who are so energetic and passionate for the Lord. I thank God for the guys in my life, the ones who will help me when my tires are low in pressure, the ones who will eat my pies, and the ones who will study with me and pray with me when I'm struggling in a class. I have been beyond blessed with my friends in College Station.

We called ourselves the CULT, Christians Undertaking Life Together
in high school. This picture was taken the day our first member,
Brea, got engaged. (Hayley is not pictured, but I just wanted
to make sure she was included as well)
I am also thankful for my high school friends; while we have all gone our different ways, we still talk at least once a week. We are growing up, and that is clearly evident as several of my close friends have become engaged. The first weekend of this semester Holly, Lucie and I returned home to surprise Brea at her engagement party. It is crazy to think that just two years ago we were sitting in calculus, and now we are planning a wedding. These girls will always hold a special place in my heart, because throughout high school we went through things together that I could have never imagined. Yet, we held true to ourselves and our beliefs. We were a support system, a safe haven of sort, and at the end of the day they we will always be The Cult.

I thank God for the opportunities to meet new people. I have met so many people over the past two years, and every single person has contributed to my journey. Even if we no longer talk, or see each other, everyone I have met has contributed in some way or another to where I am today. I could go on forever with memories from my college experience thus far. How much I love football games, or how I love that every time I'm in the library I am bound to see at least one person I know. I could go on about how much I struggled this semester, emotionally and spiritually, but I am so grateful for God for always being there for me. I have laid my life down at the foot of the cross, and God is blessing me. 2010-2013 has been filled with ups and downs, as I know the rest of my life will be, but one thing I am sure of, is that my God will never leave me.

So as my counselor told me in 2010, I remember the stars. Every night that I take notice of the stars, I say a silent prayer thanking God for changing my life that summer. I thank him for changing my luke-warm faith into something so much sweeter and stronger than I ever expected it could be. I thank God for blessing me with friends and family that have supported me in the many endeavors that my faith has led me to. So what now? I keep striving to be better tomorrow than I was today. I have so many dreams, and I can only imagine the places that God will take me. Our God is good, and I am beyond blessed to be called his child and his servant. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dying to Self

Every day I want to lay my crown at the feet of the Jesus, delaying the instant  gratification of my selfish desires so that I may be able serve someone so much greater than myself.

So I set upon a quest, to die every day to myself. Every day I want to rise asking God how I can serve him, rather than telling God what he can do me for. I want to rise up, and bow down at the feet of Jesus, much like the song we sing in church, There's a Stirring.

This past weekend I took the windy roads home to Camp Deer Run. While the weather was scary, and at times I was driving 30 mph with my windshield wipers goings as fast as they could, I couldn't help but keeping driving. The piney woods of Camp Deer Run were whispering my name and for a number of reasons.

Camp has always been the one place I can go to step back and evaluate my life. It's my get away, because for some reason when you are disconnected from the world everything appears much clearer. While I'll admit I was stressed to be going back since I have 4 tests this week, the Holy Spirit continued to work on my heart until I was pulling in the gates, confident that I had made a right decision.

I've said it before, but this semester has truly been the most difficult one I've had yet. Not only have I struggled with my classes, but I have wrestled with God about what I want to do with the rest of my life. So this weekend, our director encouraged us to evaluate our life, almost as if he knew that was the primary reason why I was there. I had to get away from school, from College Station, to make some decisions.

Throughout the weekend we had several devotions, but one in particular stuck with me. This life I have been given, isn't about me. It's not about you either, but it's about serving God, our Creator. It's not about me. It's not about the struggles I have faced, but my life is being used to glorify a greater being. As I have wrestled with God every day this semester I have brought my requests to him, begging him to lead me, instead of asking him how I can serve him. I have selfishly been begging God for direction, when it has already been given to me.

Throughout 2 Corinthians 4, Paul speaks of our treasures in jars of clay. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body."

How amazing is our God to chose us to serve as his vessels, his instruments to testify to his goodness?! We are chosen to die to ourselves so that we can reveal the life of Jesus Christ. Outwardly we are wasting away, but yet God is renewing us, and using us to show himself. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving us a greater eternal glory that far outweighs them all." Ya times are hard, but I have a bigger promise, an eternity with Jesus in Heaven.

So this brings up delay of gratification, which I am so thankful Janelle spoke to us about this weekend. We are called to die to ourselves, which means dying to our instant gratification. Because if we wait and delay it, we will one day be satisfied with the greatest reward of all.  So we set out to die to ourselves every day. By dying to ourselves, we are glorifying a greater purpose, which will more so much more rewarding.

Like I said, there's something about the piney woods that has a special power of healing hearts, and giving me clarity. I was so blessed and encouraged this weekend, which was what my soul was desperately needing. As Thanksgiving approaches, I truly thank God for Camp Deer Run and for the special place it will always hold in my heart.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Fight

Over the past week, I have have found myself getting knocked down, getting up just to get knocked down again. Really I imagine it much like a classic fight scene in a movie. You know the one where the two guys are fighting and as soon as one throws a good blow, he's returned one back in the gut, and it continues over and over again? Ya, that's been my life. Last week I had four tests, and I know I have no place to complain because I guarantee you, there are hundreds of students in the same position as me with several difficult tests, papers to write, and all sorts of nonsense that college professors throw at us and laughingly walk away as we try to juggle it all. I will admit, I am becoming a better juggler, but I still struggle as a test taker. One by one, each test I took gave me a good punch in the gut, until finally on Thursday I was on my knees, done with the fight. Especially after the punch Organic Chemistry gave me, you might just call that one a black out, but I'm not saying these things for pity, or for you to feel sorry for me. I'm saying it because that's what life does. It gives us several hard punches, and then it's up to us how we go about fighting. I'm guilty of sometimes giving us, and throwing a Katelyn Pity Party for one, because sometimes I don't understand why or what I'm fighting for. Then there are the days where I like to give life a big punch back in the face, like today, where I wrote three lab reports, made a 100 on a quiz, and finally managed to pick a topic for a disease research paper. Days like today are easy, but in a college world the problem is that these good days don't come as often as the stressful days. The days where we feel inadequate, where we struggle to pass, get to class, and even struggle to see the good.

And that's a problem. When we forget to see the good, when we forget to see how GREAT our God is and we forget to see blessings and not problems, we fall. We fall right into a self-pity party for one. A party so overwhelmed by the ways of the world that we forget to turn to God for help. Lately I have been reading through the book of Isaiah. What my focus has been is taking some of the prophets from the Old Testament, and looking at how they dealt with life. Let's be honest, life has never been easy for anyone, and so why not use the greatest book of all time to learn to navigate it better? Anyway, as I was reading through Isaiah 66, what I took from this chapter is somewhat a stretch, but I truly think it applies to every single one of us. God will not cause pain, without allowing something to be born of it. We all go through hard times, through hard tests, or even struggling as medical tests come back and they aren't what we had hoped, what we had been praying for for months. We all get bad news from our friends, we all have reason upon reason to be discouraged. But God promises us that he will be there for us. He will hold our hand as we navigate through life's punches, and if we allow him to, he will show us the good in the bad.

God is good all the time, was a saying I had my campers repeatedly say every day at Deer Run this summer, and I foolishly forgot it myself. But today I remembered. I remembered that God is good, even if I failed an organic test. God is good because today he humbled me, and helped me realize that once again I have found myself trying to make MY plans for my future His, when it should be the other way around. God is good, because he always provides. God is good because he does comfort me when I feel like I can't take life's punches, and he provides me the strength to fight back. God is SO good, and I have forgotten to take time to realize that. No matter the punches life throws at us, our God is still bigger and is still better than them all. He is the ultimate fighter, and his son died for us so that we could spend an eternity with him.

Now, tell me that news doesn't build you up and give you the strength you need to make it through tomorrow? I know that I'm ready to keep fighting, because my God is good, and if I allow him too, he will show me his goodness in all things.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Letting Go

"To let go isn't to forget, not to think about, or ignore. It doesn't leave feelings of anger, jealousy or regret. Letting go isn't winning, and it isn't losing. It's not about pride, and it's not about how you appear, and it's not obsessing or dwelling on the past. Letting go isn't blocking memories or thinking sad thoughts, and doesn't leave emptiness, hurt, or sadness. It's not giving in or giving up. Letting go isn't about loss and it's certainly not defeat. To let go is to cherish memories, and overcome and move on. It's having an open mind and confidence in the future. Letting go is accepting. It's learning and experiencing and growing. To let go is to be thankful for the experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and made you grow. It's about all you have, all that you had, and all that you will soon again. Letting go is having the courage to accept change, and the strength to keep moving. Letting go is growing up. It's realizing that the heart can sometimes be the most potent remedy. To let go is to open a door, and to clear a path, and set you free…"

I came across this quote this afternoon as my roommate and I were leaving church. Stuck in the traffic from all of the cars trying to leave the parking lot, we usually pass the time listening to the radio or looking online at Pinterest. When I found this quote, it literally took my breath away and stabbed me in the gut for a millisecond. It rings so true for many circumstances in my life right now as I am prayerfully making decisions about my summer, my future, and my life in general.

To bring you up to date on my life, I'm doing a lot better. For a while my family was truly concerned I was in a stress depression, but with the ease of dropping a class, my happiness has significantly improved. I have a tendency to 'overload' myself just like everyone else in my family. While I'd like to say I've learned from this mistake and I'll never do it again, it's very likely I'll always load my plate with obligations, and many activities that'll keep me busy. But, what I have learned is that it is ok to let go.
And so, I'm beginning a process of letting go. Speaking truthfully, there have been many little things that have brought this concept of 'letting go' to my mind lately. Some are painful, and some have brought me to tears, but through pain I have seen others let go, and I have seen many embrace a new life, not necessarily better, but a new life that God is leading them towards.

Every Friday I volunteer for three hours at St. Joseph's hospital as a patient transporter. It is the highlight of my week as I have said before, and I love being able to interact with patients. I always leave with stories too, of the mad patient, the elderly married couple both hospitalized insisting on sharing a room, or even the patient who tried to escape the hospital. I say this because there is never a dull moment, and I love leaving with a story. Sometimes though, the stories aren't funny or even frustrating, but sometimes the events of the hospital are just straight up heart-wrenching. Tragedy is inevitable, especially in a hospital, but even after 3 months I can't help but hurt when I witness a trauma rush into the ER. When I hear the screams of a small child, or see the blue butterfly signaling the loss of an elderly patient, I can't help but catch my breath and pray for God's healing hands for those individuals involved. But what touches me most, is the number of nurses there in the event still offering kind words and extending their love. This past week, a fatal trauma came in and while the ER walls still echoed of sirens and piercing cries, a nurse turned to me and a fellow transporter and said something along the lines of, 'while the trauma was horrible and the pain to come will seem unbearable, there is peace in letting go and allowing God to help you give you the strength to keep moving on in life.' Her words while softly muttered in private, truly touched me.

While the nurse was speaking of letting go of a loved one, I, too, can see how in life sometimes we must let go to embrace change. Right now I am doing my best to let go of of my summer home, CDR, in fear that I won't get to return for another summer. While I will never let go of my memories, or my strong support for the work done, I am trying to let go of my role as counselor and embrace a new role, a new chapter. I am accepting the hard truth that I do have to embrace my academic responsibilities so that I can graduate on time.

But, while I try hard to let go, I still struggle. It's hard to let go when I still have a passion for my campers and when I hear of their hardships my heart breaks a little bit. It's hard to let go of something when you aren't finished fighting for it yet. When I still want to nurture my campers, and lead them to Christ, it's hard for me to let go, because selfishly I still want to be their 'favorite counselor.' So, it is a struggle I face daily. I struggle to let go when my summer plans are uncertain, but I still want to hold on to the hope that I may be able to return to the piney woods.

Through it all, through my uncertainty and my doubt, I know that God's plan is prevailing. I know he is leading me towards green pastures, and that no matter what I spend my summer doing, I will have the opportunity to love his people and share the good news. Instead, I'm letting go of my 'strict plans' I had for my life. I'm going to do my best to embrace my uncertain future and I excitedly look forward to the places God will take me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Parable of the Missing Badge

To start out, I named this post just for my roommate Lucie who has been an inspiration to me and truly the best friend/roommate I could ask for.

I have been SO weighed down over the past couple of week that I haven't taken the opportunity to stop and reflect on my life. I haven't stopped to realize my priorities are becoming overwhelmed by the stress of my science major, church, my training for my half, and volunteering. I have been running like crazy trying to keep up with the things I've been thrown when I finally realized I can't do it all. I have a problem, and admitting it myself is the first step to making the changes I need to make in order to live a healthier life in all aspects.

This time of year is always chaotic and always causes me great anxiety. So not surprisingly this year was no different. As September progresses I begin to feel like I'm drowning in a sea of my own stress, most of which I cause myself. This year though, I vowed to myself to do some deep reflection of my heart, my dreams, and my ambitions, only to find out with great remorse that where I'm headed is not what I believe God wants for me. I've been striving for my own personal success, placing my grades and future dreams of a career over God. I've struggled to take the time to listen to him, rather than just tell him what I'm doing and ask for his support. So as the stress began to hit, I felt my life crumble around me. I became an emotional train-wreck, my body physically couldn't handle the stress as the lack of sleep and training were exhausting me, and lastly I wasn't seeing success. My grades weren't improving. I wasn't improving in my training, and I just seemed to always want to cry and eat ice-cream, which I shamefully did thinking that it would make me happy.

One day I was sitting in the library trying to study for a test I had in an hour, and I finally did something that I've never done before. I admitted to a close friend that I was struggling. I finally spoke aloud that I wasn't good, and that I truly felt like my life was crumbling around me. I struggle with the pride of self-image. I want everyone to think that my life is put together and perfect, when truly I struggle every day just to prioritize and to thank God for blessing me. So that day in the library, I reached a milestone. I was real with someone and actually shared the 'true shape' of my life. I realized that this was the self-reflection I had been craving, and just being able to speak it out to someone with listening hears was relief enough. A weight had been lifted, but still stress was overwhelming me.

The same week, I made it to class and in a panic realized that I had forgotten my badge for the hospital. So I did what all roommates do, and quickly texted my roommate to look in my room for it. Lucie couldn't find it, and with a time crunch to make it to my next class, I rushed home and began to literally tear my room apart. I was nearly in tears, and had foolishly began unpacking every single box in my room in desperation. Thinking aloud, I told Lucie how I was the worst volunteer, so irresponsible, and so on, but all along she kept a calm disposition and helped me look. I had just about given up, sitting on my floor not knowing how I was going to explain that I had lost my new badge (long story short, I had already had to receive a new one) and then Lucie saw it.

"Katelyn? Is that it up on the wall?!"

There my missing badge was, right on the wall clipped where I could easily and quickly find it. But in that 30 minutes I was dramatically overreacting and couldn't stop to think or to see what was clearly right in front of my face. This might be a long stretch, but after finding my badge I couldn't help but think to myself that I do the same thing with God every day. He is right in front of me offering me peace, relief from my stress, but I am so overwhelmed that I cannot see him standing right in front of me. I am so caught up in myself that I cannot see the important things, the one thing that at the end of the day that matters, God.

I realize now that my life has truly been all over the place. I have been bottling stress and letting it overwhelm me, but I am so thankful that my God is a forgiving God. He always welcomes me back into his arms when I realize I have failed him, and that I have forgotten him in light of my stressful days at college. I have finally realized that it is ok to admit that things aren't going well. It doesn't mean I'm a failure, it means I'm real. I struggle with my classes every day. I'm  a horrible test taker, and I'm still trying to learn how to study. Sometimes I'm not a good friend or roommate and I take out my stress on those around me. But I am SO thankful that I can now admit these struggles and ask for forgiveness. Our God is great, and I now know a peace that I have never known before.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Difficult Devotion

Let me just start out by saying that I think we all struggle with devoting ourselves fully, without reservation to God. Maybe you don't, but I do. I struggle to be content with God and God alone. I struggle to put my full trust in Him, though I try to every day. I struggle with releasing the reins of my life to God, to allow him to steer me in the right direction. I struggle to devote my entire heart to my Creator, the one who not only formed me, but predestined me to serve his kingdom. It's difficult for me to admit that I struggle with this, because I like to fool myself into thinking that by going to church, reading my bible, and praying that I'm truly devoting myself to God, when really there is so much more than simply going through the motions.

A month ago I began telling my friends that I wasn't dating, I was devoting. I'm devoting time to God, just like I would if I were going on dates. I'm dancing with God, dining with Him, listening and conversing with him frequently. I'm trying to pray to God as often as I text my best friends in my group thread on my phone. I'm trying to create this intimate relationship with the one that created me. I'm trying to fall in love with God all over again. I believe I was there at one point. I was so wrapped up in God that I didn't think of trying to please anyone else. He came first in everything I did and said and since then I've drifted from this closeness with God. I WANT to have it back. I want to have the undivided devotion for God again, but it hasn't been easy. It is so difficult not to be distracted by the ways of the world, but if it's worth having, it's worth working for. So I continue to work at this 'devotion' to God. I fail daily, but I'm striving towards a relationship with God where I feel enveloped with his fullness and goodness. I want to be in love with God, so in love that I don't have to think about it, but I can feel it every moment of every day. The past month hasn't been easy for a number of reasons. There's times when I feel lonely as I watch my friends get engaged and plan weddings, or the times where I feel like no one will ever appreciate me or love me the way God does, but regardless of any feelings I have, I'm turning to God. I'm learning to not only be content, but to be at peace with my relationship with God. What a beautiful love story that I am beginning to fall in love with my Creator all over again?

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Learning to laugh, learning to praise God in even the most uncomfortable, or inconvenient times has been our mission this summer. Learning to Praise God in all circumstances is not only our theme for our campers, but as a staff, we too, have been practicing such praise. For 5th session, a dear friend and I decided to "cheer" to every event that happened in our cabin, or anything that happened with our group. When something funny, dramatic, or exasperating would happen, we would look at each other and simply cheer and continue on with the rest of the day. This to me was a way of accountability, a way to continue praising in all circumstances. So with this said, I would love to share some of our mental "cheers" with you.
Cheers to poopy pants.
Cheers to missing sleeping bags.
Cheers to learning that Patience is a virtue.
Cheers to campers who appear to hate the world.
Cheers to a camper who struggled to say anything positive.
Cheers to bribing children with candy to go on the Hawaiian slip-n-slide.
Cheers to campers infatuation with staff members.
Cheers to relationships.
Cheers to 82.
Cheers to Golden Pond.
Cheers to Christmas in July.
Cheers to icing hundreds of cookies for Christmas in July.
Cheers to being murdered within the first 30 seconds of Murder in the Dark.
Cheers to a camper who thought and acted as if he was Gollum.
Cheers to rain jackets being mistaken for people in the cabin late at night.
Cheers to late nights and early mornings.
Cheers to night swimming.
Cheers to girls who didn't wear deodorant.
Cheers to the constant attack of chiggers.
Cheers to trying to wrestle 10 girls out of bed in the morning to start the day.
Cheers to our God for answering prayers.
Cheers to God for allowing my mom's procedure to go well.
Cheers to God for helping us through a month of camp with a day and a half off.
Cheers to God for 14 baptisms.
Cheers to 40 precious Wenache campers who taught us a number of lessons throughout the duration of 5th session.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gone, Gone, Gone

Today marked the end of an incredible two weeks. These past two weeks were some of the most memorable and in these past two weeks I truly witnessed the power of our God. I witnessed his capability to take broken relationships and restore them.  I witnessed God's power made perfect in my weakness.

Two days before the session began, I received the news that I would be a co-counselor  for my sister's cabin. I was so excited, mainly because over the past year my sister and I had grown distant. We were no longer as close and our relationship felt stressed and forced. I knew God had big plans for my sister and I, but now looking back I know I underestimated the power of God. I also underestimated his ability to allow me to "connect" with other campers.

For the first week of the session I was 'Canteen Queen' or as many of my campers called me 'Canteen Nazi.' How did I acquire such nickname? Because I like to run a 'tight ship' and during my week in the canteen I was constantly cleaning. What I loved about canteen was that every day I was able to interact with every group three times. So even though I was a Hoche, I was still able to interact with Cheuks. One Cheuk camper in particular grabbed my heart the very first day. As a complete stranger, she reached out to me. She loved me before I even knew her name. This camper stole my heart, and as the session progressed we formed a very special bond. Such a bond that she trusted me, and would listen to me. When she was having a bad day or felt angry, I was able to whisper to her and immediately a huge smile came across her face. That toothless grin had a way to turn my day around as well. Her grin and a recent song Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillips Phillips helped me realize that our Creator will ALWAYS love us and that he will never leave us.

To further elaborate, some of the lyrics I love from this song are "I'll love you long after your gone." Even when my Cheuk camper left camp on Friday, I know I'll love her forever. In the same, I know that whenever I 'leave' or turn away from God I know that he's not moving on, but he will love me long after I'm gone. God never leaves us.  

"When life leaves you high and dry, I'll be at your door tonight if you need help." "If you need help, I'll share in your suffering to make you well." These phrases reiterate that God will always be there to help, and he will always love us no matter how long we turn away from him. As it says in Psalm 40:2 "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." God NEVER leaves us. While I know God will never leave me, I also find great importance of stressing to our campers that we won't leave them either. The same camper  I mentioned earlier also had a habit of 'pretending' to be mad. She would run away 'upset', but every time I was with her I made a point to follow her. Giving her space, I let my presence say it all. Even though I knew she wasn't really upset, she wanted to know that I cared. She wanted to know that I wanted her, and that I wouldn't leave her. When she was done playing this game, she would always run back to my arms and give me the biggest hug saying how much she loved me. From God's example, I have been able to realize that sometimes my campers just want to see that I will be there for them. Even if they are completely exasperating, pushing my patience to the max, these campers don't need to be yelled at or abandoned, instead we need to express God's love to them, by showing that we will go with them. Where they go, we will go. 

Isn't this one of the best ways to love one another? To show that even if we are upset, angry, or simply frustrated, we will still be there for one another. We will love no matter what is going on.  Even if those we love walk away or choose to walk out of our lives, we can show our love by loving them continually. Jesus is the perfect example of this love. Even as he was being crucified he still uttered out of love "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus loved us enough to die for us, so we alike can continue to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

While I was learning this lesson through my interactions with this Cheuk camper, I also witnessed the power of God made perfect in my weakness. Halfway through the session I was filling empty. Physically I wasn't sure how I was going to last another week. Yet, it was in these moments where I felt so empty that God spoke the most. One moment in particular I had the chance to meet with my sister and truly catch up. In one hour we shared the events of the past year. We cried together and prayed together. In one hour that began as I was too tired to move, I felt God soften my heart so that my sister and I could begin our relationship again. Another time, I decided to meet with my sister's best friend for quiet time to simply catch up and talk. I was exhausted, but for some reason I knew it was important to speak with her. What started out as a casual conversation, ended up as baptism study. Two days later, my sister's best friend was baptized into Christ. How powerful is our God that when I felt so empty, he provided me two occasions to see his goodness? 

This session was phenomenal. I cried a lot as I watched our God restore my spirit. I saw him heal my broken relationship with my sister. I witnessed his power as Becca was baptized. I laughed a lot too as I spent the second week of the session with the pee wees (day campers.) One funny story was when my pee wee camper came up to me. All session they had called me Mrs. Green, because obviously since I was a leader of their green group I was married to the other male staff member who was a leader too. "Mrs. Green!" She cried as she held her shirt up as she held something inside.

"I found some moth eggs and I'm going to take them hope and watch them hatch!!! Want to see?!"
As she unfolded her shirt, tears of laughter rolled down my face as the contents inside her shirt were not moth eggs, but instead was actually deer poop.

This instance was just one of many that had me rolling. How great is our God that we can laugh over such memories, and in the same way glorify him. God is good. 4th session was great, and provided SO many memories, but now we are on to our last 3 weeks of camp. Three more to go, and then in four weeks I will be back in College Station. Time flies, but in it all God continually shows me his goodness and his faithfulness.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Halfway There

At this point in the summer, we have completed 4 weeks of camp. Tomorrow we begin a month of camp with a day and a half off in the middle. 4th and 5th sessions are both 2 weeks that fall back-to-back. I feel like these 2 sessions are easily the hardest, but most fun of the summer. We, as a staff, learn to rely on God for strength and energy, and we begin to rely on each other for encouragement.

But before we begin 4th session, I feel blessed to share my experiences of 3rd session. For the first time in my staff career I was a Hoche. Usually for 3rd session the campers are extremely young, but this time we had surprisingly old Hoche campers. What a blessing it was to be able to talk, share beliefs, and love on my older girls. As picture lady, I was able to spend all but an hour and a half a day with my girls. I was able to really get to know them, which was such a blessing seeing as they were only at camp for 5 days. I had the opportunity to share my walk with Christ with them. For the first time, I stood in front of 11 girls and shared my heart, my struggles, and my journey with Christ. It was a first for me, and I believe that by sharing myself with the girls, they in turn trusted me enough to open up too. I learned of their hard home lives, the struggles they have seen, and the pain they are coping with. I learned how they struggle with being their own worst enemy and how as 15-16 year old girls they struggle to feel beautiful without the comfort of a mask of make-up. In a matter of 5 days, I mastered the role of co-counselor. I was able to be the 'fun aunt' in the sense that I was able to come in and be with the girls in a fun way, all the while still showing them the love of Christ.

For five days I watched as my girls began a process of healing. On the first day we talked of our 'spiritual life' and the girls opened up to how dirty sin has made them feel. By the last day I was able to witness the miracle of God's holy cleansing. As our girls watched Cross Devo, they truly realized that through Jesus' sacrifice they had been forgiven, cleansed of their sin. In tears we huddled together, and prayerfully thanked God for this opportunity to bond together and heal together. As a counselor I have witnessed the power of God. I have witnessed him heal hearts, bring cabins together, but for the first time I was able to feel a strong connection with my campers even though I was simply a co-counselor.

One camper in particular became like a sister to me. I don't know why I so blessed to become so close to her, but I thank God I was able to become an older sister to her too. Through her, I witnessed God's joy for his children. Through her example I saw how God could use brokenness as a tool to not only help others, but to help us grow. She was a light to our entire cabin. She light-heartedly joked with me, but at times was completely serious and shared her life with me. I was truly sad to see her go.

3rd session was one that will stick with me forever. Not only will I remember my memories and my campers, but my perspective has changed. My role of co-counselor has been redefined thanks to my Hoche campers. If you haven't been able to tell by now, God is working at Camp Deer Run.

I love camp so much because it shines a light on my life. It opens my eyes to my life, and helps me remember who I am, and who I can be in Christ. Camp Deer Run has helped me make positive changes in my life, changes to a life that out in the 'world' I thought I was perfectly content with. It has helped me cherish my true friendships, and realize what I need in a friend and in a 'significant other' one day LONG down the road. Spending 10 weeks out in the woods, with no AC, working with hundreds of children is difficult, but  camp is the only place that I feel so impressionable to God's will and his Word. My heart is so willing to be molded, so willing to make changes that I need to make to be closer  to him. God speaks to me and helps me make decisions, make changes that are more fit to his plan. How great is our God that his plan is perfect? How great is my God that his love for me never fails? I love Camp Deer Run. I love the people I work with. I love how I can sever my ties from the world and be perfectly ok for 10 weeks as I listen to God, and watch as he fulfills his promises. I love how I can feel him working in me and through me. I love that I can be so happy and so content while I am cut off from the 'world.' Once again, thank you to my friends and family. Most of you know that the beginning of the summer was beyond challenging. I am glad to say that I am happy, and I can feel God working in my life. I hope that y'all can witness it too.

God is GREAT!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


 I speak for myself when I say that I get frustrated when things don't go my way. I get frustrated when things get difficult, or when things don't go according to 'my plan.' This past session, 2nd session, brought many challenges and many moments of frustration. As head counselor for 2 weeks of girls ages ranging from 9 to 12, I knew that what I would need more than anything was patience. Patience to wait as they tied their shoes, patience as they changed for the 12th time of the day, patience in waking them up, but little did I know just how challenging practicing such patience would be.

Power campers. On the first day when my first camper walked through the door of my tiny little W1/2 cabin, I knew. I knew automatically that these girls were power campers, or campers that have been doing this "camping" thing for a while. They know "ALL" about CDR and they expect a great session. A session full of fun things that they've never done, because last year they did yoga with their counselor and they did NOT like it. To me, there are few things that intimidate me more than such power campers, but I thought I was ready for the challenge. I was going strong, I was sharing God's word with love, I was getting excited about riding horses in the pouring rain, I was having the time of my life. Then just like that, I'm sitting at home as I was sick. Depressed didn't even begin to cover it, while I was home, my precious girls were going about the schedule at Camp Deer Run. To all who checked on me, prayed for me, and even encouraged me while I was sick, thank you. It was your words, prayers, and consideration that made what I thought was the biggest challenge I had faced in my career bearable. I came back ready to jump back to work as we headed to outcamping. Spending my first night back in the woods, was difficult and tiring, but I was determined to go hard. God was continually providing me the energy I needed, and every time I began to feel drained, he simply filled me again. I was struggling to regain ropes with my girls. Things felt off ever since I left, and I was quickly frustrated because things were not going according to my plan. My cabin bibles didn't seem to flow as easily as they had first session, and I was struggling with a difficult camper who simply wanted to go home. I was staying up late to console a crying camper, and rising early to plead with the same child to rise out of bed. Both of these things made for a long day. I was dealing with the challenge of girl drama and whiney voices constantly nagging at me constantly when one day God made himself known. Almost as if he was whispering to me, it hit me that as my campers were asking what's next, feeling left out, or simply not listening to me, that I was the same way in the presence of God. I was God's child that always wanted to know what he would do next in my life, I whine before God pleading him to let me rest, I was begging/ whining to God about how upset and down I had been feeling. I was the annoying, whining, crying camper in God's eyes. What a reality call for me! To place myself in the shoes of my children, my campers, gave me a way to face the challenges. For my homesick camper, I compared myself and my desire to enter the gates of Heaven to her desperation to go home. To my lonely, left-out camper, I saw myself as I was struggling in a relationship feeling like I had no one to talk to. To my campers that constantly turned their heads and would not listen, I saw myself as I turn from God to pursue my own desires. I was, I am my campers

These are simply a few of the challenges I faced, but let it be known though it was difficult, though I did laugh and cry, I grew. I was stretched and pulled, but I can feel the presence of God as he is molding me to be a better Christian. As it says in James, we will face challenges, but we must persevere. Challenges make us stronger, they help us learn. I am so glad that I had the session I did. It has helped prepare me for my future and it has better prepared me to place myself in the shoes of my campers. Crazy as it is, tomorrow we are halfway through the summer. 5 of 10 weeks almost complete. As always, God is good all the time. I am so thankful to have a God that is patient with me as he watches me grow.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

God is GOOD.

1st session is complete and once again I am in Paris, Texas enjoying the first staff weekend. It is hard to believe that 2 of my 10 weeks have already flown by. I suppose it is the lack of communication with the world that makes time seem to pass so quickly, but at the same time every moment with my campers seems to last forever. This past week was an amazing one, and after only 5 days I want to share with you the faithfulness of God that was made known to me.

This past Sunday, 11 girls ran into my cabin quickly grabbing a bunk. Surprisingly, I recognized many of their faces as most had camped 1st session last year. Almost instantly, parents were pulling me aside informing me of certain 'situations' that I needed to be aware of. These situations were nothing big, but throughout the session they definitely kept me running. As soon as the parents left, I had all the girls circle up and we began to talk. At this point, only minutes after the parents left I was nervous. The girls seemed really shy, and I found out that 6 of the 11 were new to Camp Deer Run. Nervous as I was, I just prayed to God that during the week, he would soften their hearts and help me show them the beauty of Camp Deer Run.  If it was his will, I wanted the girls to fall just as much in love with camp as I had over 10 years ago. For those of you who have never camped or visited to Camp Deer Run, there are few words that will capture the beauty of the work done beyond the gates. God's presence can be felt at all times, and camp is seriously cut off from the world.

As the session progressed, it quickly became evident to me why I, Katelyn Gambrel, was chosen to counsel these 11 girls in Women's 5. All of my girls were either entering 8th or 9th grade, and I soon realized that though they were only 13 and 14, they had seen enough brokenness for a lifetime. As they began to share with me and as they opened their hearts to God's teaching, I felt my own heart breaking with them. I knew that in 4 days, I had the opportunity to testify and show them God's goodness in everything. 'God is GOOD!' quickly became our cabin cheer, and the broken, hardened girls I had met on Sunday slowly began to heal before my eyes. They began to share their blessings in spite of the hard things they were facing back home. They were learning, and one by one seemed to approach me to tell me. While I know our mission at camp isn't to hear how well we are doing our job, it is SO rewarding to see the fruits of your labor. My girls each hold a special place in my heart, and I hope that through this past week I was able to show them God's faithfulness.

While all of this 'healing' was going on, I also saw my girls have the time of their lives. Whether it was dominating in Killi Olympics, or enjoying girl talk at our Marble Slab night activity, I was able to see God's joy in my girls. We sumo-wrestled, had paint wars, and enjoyed long talks about how God is good, even if we did have to do dishes because of our 'F' in cabin cleanliness. They also loved to sing and chant. They made up songs for almost everything, and how cheerful it was to hear their sweet voices sing in whatever activity we were doing. One day in particular, I was feeling the exhaustion. My body was hurting and I was discouraged because I was feeling so tired so early in the summer. On this day, I made 12, yes 12, trips to the camp nurse. From bug bites, to sickness, to a soccer ball in the face, we saw the nurse for it all. On this day I even ended up seeing one of my campers go home, because she was so sick. If you had seen me in person, you would have had a good laugh at the amount of running I was doing all over camp. But as the day came to a close, I couldn't help but laugh because as I prayed early that morning that God would help me find the energy, he instead saw that I never had the time to sit down or even think about how tired I was. God is good. He answers prayers.

1st session was amazing. As counselor of W5 I was sad to see my girls go, but excited to see and hear from them as they entered the world. Now as I rest up for 2nd session, I get to do it all over agin. For 2 weeks I will be head counseling W1/2, which is the youngest cabin at Camp Deer Run. I am excited to see God work in these upcoming weeks, and I know that whenever I need it he will provide the strength and energy I need.

Good is good. All the time, God is GOOD.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's not a sprint, but a MARATHON


I'm officially done with my freshman year of college at one of the best, and most recognized campuses in the entire world.

"How was your first year?"

As one of the most asked questions, I'll answer it here too. While my first year was definitely great, and a blessing beyond belief, above all it was a surprise.

Going from a small school, where I was considered "smart" to a school where I constantly felt inadequate was definitely a surprise. While it was easy to be discouraged or compare myself to the thousands of academic scholars surrounding me, the one thing I relied on was my God. He was the one who made known that I was supposed to be at Texas A&M. On those days where I constantly felt like I wasn't smart enough, or couldn't make the grades, God cradled me, and helped me realize that one class, or one semester will not hold me back from a life that he has called of me.

I was surprised by how quickly God blessed me with friendships. Leaving high school and Camp Deer Run, I knew I had several close friends. These were individuals I could trust, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find friends of such caliber. How surprised was I when in the first two weeks, I was already surrounded with a small group of AFCers that to this day I still call my best friends. I have grown so close to these individuals, and I know that our friendships will last beyond these four years at this university.

I was surprised by my strong faith. This sounds horrible to say, it really does, but when you are always told that 'those college students fall so quickly' I was nervous. I wasn't nervous that I would transition into a life-style of alcohol and partying, no; but I was nervous that the intimate relationship I had with God would change. Boy was I  wrong! Immediately God saw that I was plugged in, being involved in a church activity every day. He also provided me with my first mission opportunity, which left me yearning for more. To say I was surprised by the blessings God poured out on me during my first year would be an understatement, but it came as no surprise to see truly that our God is a good God who cares for his children.

It came as a surprise how difficult it was to leave my family. Being separated by little over 200 hundred miles was more difficult than I imagined. It was even harder to know that my family was struggling. Without going in to much detail, I will say that my mother has been sick since Easter. Her sickness, and the fact that I wasn't home to assess her condition myself tore at me everyday.

So my first year was full of surprises. Though it had downs, I would definitely say that my year was better than I could imagine. I am so thankful for the blessings God has provided me. Also, I am thankful for the individuals who constantly showed me their support and encouragement. The people who constantly prayed for me as I struggled with test anxiety, just know that I'm succeeding because of you and God!

What now?

Well now it is summer time! Which for me translates into three off weeks before I start up at Camp Deer Run. In these three weeks I'm at home I have plans to road trip, learn to drive a stick shift, and do a whole bunch of fishing.

In the long run, this is one year under the belt. I have three more at Texas A&M, the medical school, residency, and specialization. Crazy, but the next 11 years of my life will be jammed pack of school and learning. Why have I made the decision to pursue a career in medicine when so much is changing with health care you ask? Because God has called me. I choose not to look at the future salary, or the way that the healthcare will be changing, because I know that regardless, people need doctors. Not only do they need doctors, but they need Christian doctors who will fight for them to see that they get the care they need. Maybe one day you'll be my patient, and you'll see. I truly believe God has called me to the field of medicine, to serve him. I believe that I have the potential to make it through medical school, and that if I do not live up to my full-potential, I'll be settling. So I press on... for up to 11 more years. Yes it'll be exhausting, and I'll probably complain and grow weary along the way, but I'm asking you to say a special prayer for me. Pray that God will make his way known for me, and pray that I have the endurance to answer his call.

Monday, April 8, 2013

There is a time...

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."
If you haven't ever taken the time to read Ecclesiastes 3, I suggest you do. It is a beautiful passage, and I cannot help but read it and think of how it applies to my life.

As you get older, time gets faster. This concept always seems to hit me on nights like these. The nights where I have a list of things to do, but somehow I always get caught up reflecting on how the many ways God has blessed me. 

This past year has truly been one that I will never forget. A year ago, I was a high school senior who had just found out she had been hired to work at her favorite place in the world. I pleaded and begged God to see that time would just speed up so that I could graduate and begin work. What senior doesn't wish that time would pass quickly? Pass quickly it did, and it is hard to believe that in one year so much has changed.

a time to plant, a time to love 
Summer 2012 was by far the best summer I have ever had. Working at Camp Deer Run was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Though at first I was worried and anxious about making the transition from camper to staff, God helped see me through and it was beyond smooth. Spending a summer loving children and sharing God's word was one of the best things I could have done before I left for college. Most of my friends spent their summers with their families and close friends, enjoying the last two months before our lives completely changed, but I can honestly say that I have no regrets in spending what could have been my last summer at home out in the piney woods at CDR. Now I can say that God used last summer to strengthen me for my transition in to college. 

a time to search, a time to build
Two weeks after the summer at CDR ended, I was moving into a dorm. Those two weeks in between were very difficult for me. I found it hard to be in public, especially when my family went for a Dallas weekend to buy last minute necessities for my dorm. I was overwhelmed and torn. I felt as if I was ripped from my safe-haven, escape from the world, and thrown right into the storm of society. Yet, I soon adjusted, and before I knew it, was driving down to College Station with a car jammed packed of my belongings.
Truthfully, there wasn't a rough period of adjusting as my family left me in a new town with only a handful of people I knew. I was confident that God had placed me at A&M for a reason, and was never felt as if I had made a mistake in coming to A&M. From the first day, I loved it! God had only begun to show me the story he had written for me. I made friends in AFC, learned a lot in some really difficult classes, learned to two-step, and ate a lot. Of course there were times I worried when I heard how my family was ill, but I had faith that God was comforting them as well as reassuring me.

a time to embrace, a time to mourn
Right as I was really enjoying life at college, Christmas Break came. I needed the break from school, but I was disappointed to say goodbye to the town and my new friends. God was so faithful and opened a door for a mission opportunity. 8 days of the break I spent in Nicaragua. For a first mission trip, I believe it was great. It was a beautiful thing to see how God worked through us, and how he used small children to help me learn things about myself. Sad to leave, but happy to know that God wasn't finished with me in the field of missions, I came back to the States and had a white Christmas with my family. New Year's was a sad one as my family mourned the loss of my great-grandmother. While we mourned we also rejoiced for the significant amount of time we had with her. Only a day after her funeral services, I was once again on the road to College Station to spend a week at Foster's Children's Home. If there is one highlight of my time in college so far, I would definitely say it has been the service opportunities through AFC. Giving back to others, especially children, has caused my heart to be overwhelmed with love and compassion. I will never understand how God allows us to love such small children so much, but I am so joyful that he allows me to experience his love in this manner.

He has made everything beautiful in its time
These are only a few highlights of my year, and it is so difficult to believe that my freshman year will be over in a matter of weeks. While classes have been hard and stressful, God has never once left my side in my journey. He is constantly by my side, whispering in my ear to lead me down his path of righteousness. I am humbled that God has provided me with such opportunities. Why I of all people have been blessed with such good friends, a supportive family, and such wonderful memories I do not know. All I can say is that I thank God every day for allowing me to serve him. 

Serve him I will, which brings me around my circle. I once again will be working at Camp Deer Run. I am beyond excited to spend another summer in the piney woods, and I am even more excited to see the plans God has for this summer. 

God is faithful. God is good. He has a time for everything as he says throughout the book of Ecclesiastes. With much deeper understanding, I am trying to live this passage. God is showing me his timing and I must say it is beyond beautiful.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cold Feet

Holding Back.
Second Thoughts.
Cold Feet.

What do all of these lack? Trust. 

I've never been good at patience. Try as hard as I can, I've never successfully mastered the art of patience in waiting for the "bigger picture." Sure I can wait for my food at a restaurant, wait for a friend to get ready, or even practice patience with children, but when it comes to my life plans, I want to know, and I want to know now. Patience is something I struggle with. I want to know where God is taking me now. I want to know the plans that lie ahead. Basically, I want to put myself on the level of God, so that I can know everything.  This thinking is wrong, and by trying to "plan" everything in my life, I'm ruining the beauty of the plans God has for me.

I lack true trust in God. It hurts me to admit that I struggle with trust, when I can easily tell everyone to "trust in God" or "let him show you his plans for you." But when it comes to MY life, I don't want to wait. I'm insecure. I feel as if I am inadequate for the things God has called me to do. I hold back, instead of being bold and talking a walk of faith. I'm constantly nervous or paranoid about the simplest things. I question everything. Lastly I have cold feet. I won't lie, I question if the plans for my life will meet the expectations I have for myself. What if God's plans are an alarming reality, that my dreams, my plans, are just not what he has planned for me?

What if I am trying to play god? 

I try to plan my life based on what I think is good for me or by what I think I deserve. When in reality, I am entitled to nothing. I try to plan everything in my life, forgetting that each day has its own worries, I simply add on to my burden by carrying the plans, the worries, for tomorrow and the next day and the next...

My burden is heavy. The load I bring upon myself is great. But God has offered to carry my load, IF I am willing to put my trust in him. He is begging me to be patient, to wait and see the beauty of his plan.

My cold feet cause me to question, to doubt, that God's plans are the best. I have no doubt that the Devil is working on my mindset, because why would I ever doubt the God who created me?

God's plans are not guaranteed to be easy or flawless, but we are guaranteed that he will see us through.

I can't help but think of Job. A man who lost everything, but never failed to trust in God. Not once did he curse God, but instead thanked God in times of trouble and in the good times.

Cold feet have the capability to ruin my trust in God, but just as Job did, I am prepared to work harder to trust in God. While I will most likely be a planner all the days of my life, I am prepared to let God take the reins. Putting trust in God, means letting go of myself. It's finally time that I surrender it all to God. I've been holding on to this portion for a long time, not realizing that I was suffering. Today is a new day. A day where I will wholeheartedly trust in God. I will be patient in waiting. I know it won't always be glamourous, but the plans God has for me are guaranteed to be much better than I can even imagine. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Relaxing Trust

School will always be stressful. It's a fact of life that cannot be changed, because just as you get caught up in one class, the workload increases in another. However, while school is going to be stressful, the way you handle that stress is imperative to your overall happiness.

Last semester I stressed. Every day I was calling my mom complaining about this or that, how my hard work wasn't reflecting, and I could go on for days. I complained a lot, and spent more time in the library. I would sit in the library until 12, or until I had completed everything. I would sacrifice sleep just so that I could "be ahead" in my classes.

This was crazy. It really was, because I was making myself physically ill in order to complete things that weren't even due for days. This semester has been different. Sorry mom and dad, but I haven't stepped foot in the library. I don't plan on it, unless I really need to. I can study in my dorm, do my homework in bed, and actually go to sleep at a decent time.

My first test was earlier this week. My approach to this test was quite different than it would have been last semester. While last semester I would have stayed up til 12 the night before in the library, this time around I definitely did not. I studied, then I went to a Superbowl party. I've realized that just because I have tests and work to do, my social life doesn't have to suffer. It's ok for me to go out, and finish an assignment later. It is perfectly fine for me to act like a normal college student and enjoy my limited time here at this awesome University. I have four years here, and when I graduate I don't want to regret spending more time in the library than I did actually enjoying new experiences.

On that test I took, I made a 95. Ya take that Psychology! I am in no means saying that it is ok not to study, but I am saying that I have realized the need to "live a little." My new philosophy is greatly contributed to the fact that I no longer have Thursday classes. While at the beginning of the semester I was extremely frustrated by my schedule, I now enjoy it. I even enjoy those three back-to-back classes starting at 8 on MWF for the most part. Well, maybe not on those Fridays after I've gone dancing the night before, but I'm making due. God has tremendously blessed me this semester. He has opened doors for me to minister to people, to really be intentional with the people in my life.

Sure I'm not at 15 hours so I don't stand a chance for Dean's List, but if by taking 14 hours I can really minster to my friends and be there for them, isn't that worth it? I've learned a lot this past month, and I feel so good putting my schooling in God's hands. I trust that he will help me make the grades I need, and that he will give me the opportunities I desire all if I put my trust in him.

God is taking me places in my education I never thought possible. It is so rewarding to see all my classes come together, and feel that I finally understand what I am being taught. While the stress is still there, I just have to take a step back and evaluate my priorities. By not bearing an anxious heart, I am able to conquer the world.

So in short, I'm trusting in God. I'm finally living, and enjoying my days here. It's not all about the tests,  and exasperating professors, but it's about the people. It's about the beauty of a college community where we will succeed. I will amount to something in due time. I'm excited to see where God takes me, because this I know, his plans will always be much sweeter than I can imagine.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Bad Hand, 3 Years Later

Tonight I can't help but have a heavy heart. A heart that is screaming in prayer and it is nights like these that I am thankful God can understand my heart and soul, because truthfully they speak what my words cannot.

Tomorrow my best friend's mother will undergo a surgery. A routine surgery gone wrong, has left this family with the worst possible hand of cards you could imagine. After struggling for three years and two months, this surgery is necessary so that she, Mary, can return to a normal life. A life where she can visit her daughter at A&M, and watch her youngest daughter carry on through high school. For the past couple of years, she has spent more time in the hospital than out. Through it all  I have watched as my best friend matured and took on her family responsibilities at the mere age of 16. She stepped up and did whatever it took to see that her family carried on.

No one should ever have to go though this type of physical and emotional struggle, but I can say that I have watched as their family has continually grown. Throughout this entire ordeal, they have never quit, or let the circumstances weigh them down, but they always have persevered.

This to me is beyond inspiring, because had the roles been reversed, I know that I would have shut down. Yet, as I look at my best friend today I know the strong woman she is and how she will do whatever it takes to serve her family and our God. She has walked the path less traveled and she has seen more than a fair share of pain and heartache for her life, but she doesn't let it get to her. She continues on.

I am thankful that I have a friend like this to remind me that whatever life throws at you, no matter the cards you're dealt, you still have to play the game. With all of this said, tomorrow is the day that their lives could change. The struggle could end tomorrow with this surgery and I'm asking everyone I know to pray that God will heal Mary.

I  pray that he will guide the doctors' hands, and give them the intelligence to perform the surgery well. I pray that he will comfort the friends and family in the waiting room. I pray that he will strengthen Mary to handle the surgery and come out with flying colors. All of this I pray because I know God is faithful. He will answer our prayers, and we must lie at his feet in petition.

This family is in God's hands and I know that he will take care of them, but I plea with you to do what you can and utter a prayer or multiple prayers throughout your day tomorrow for Mary.