Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Reflections

I've had 20 days. 20 days to reflect, recover and rediscover who I want to be. In 20 days my life has changed from a full-time summer counselor living in a hot, un-airconditioned cabin in the piney woods of East Texas, to a life where I am back sitting in class trying not to become overwhelmed with school and the many activities I have going on. It's crazy to me just how much life has changed in such a limited amount of time, but I am thankful for the time I have had to process the events of the summer. It is such reflections, such self-discoveries that I am excited to finally write about.

The Lord our God did wonderful things this summer. I am sure many campers were impacted, but I, too, felt and bore witness to the ways that God molded and strengthened my heart.  It was in my weakest moments, the times where I felt most vulnerable that God did some of his best work in my opinion. In 2 Corinthians, "for my power is made perfect in weakness" has always been a statement that I hold dear to my heart. I take joy in knowing that God can make something beautiful out of my biggest flaws and insecurities, that in the ashes I make of my life, God's beauty can still be seen. It is such idea that I shared with my girls over the course of the summer. Through my 5 weeks of counseling in particular, I tried to share with my girls the ways that God worked through my past mistakes, through my weaknesses. I strongly believe in open honesty with my campers, and I believe that by sharing in my struggles with my campers it created a trust that is still evident today. Actually, I don't believe,  I know. I know that in moments where I bore my heart with campers, that they were encouraged to open up too. I know that in a moment where I couldn't handle any more 'girl drama' that God was using such petty drama as a gateway for me to hear and see a deeper struggle within my 14 year old's life back home. It always appeared to me this summer that in the moments where I wanted to wave my white flag and surrender, those moments where I couldn't handle anything else, the breaking moments, that God used my campers to reach me in a powerful way. The breaking moments, were always the times were God so evidently touched my heart, and taught me the biggest lessons. In my weakest times, God's power was always made known to me, because I knew that it wasn't me. It wasn't me bringing out the struggles being faced, or the revelations that were being made in the lives of my campers, it was God. God used me as an instrument, and in my weakest times, the times I wanted to quit, his power was made known to me and to the campers I was working with.

As I'm writing this, a particular memory from the summer is coming to mind. Some of you know that at the end of 4th session I began to get sick with the typical summer 'crud' that all of the staff seems to get at some point or another. 2 weeks later I was still sick and decided to go to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with bronchitis in addition to a sinus infection. A day after I received my diagnoses, I learned I would be counseling W6 for the final session of camp. My body was worn, and emotionally I wasn't sure how I would be able to handle it, but I trusted that God would carry me through. Also, I trusted that with prescription drugs I'd be fine in a matter of days. Well, as always my plans came crashing down around me in flames. Instead of recovering, I only grew more sick. All the while I had 11 girls looking to me to make their week at camp the most memorable, and most were looking to me for advice, emotional support, and to simply listen to the struggles in their lives. Satan was attacking me with feelings of disappointment and attacking me with lies of inadequacy. I was so sick, and I felt like I was doing a disservice to my girls by not being able to fully serve, teach, and love them due to my physical limitations. I mean it was hard trying to listen to 11 girls, and then teach them a cabin Bible when I was having a huge coughing fit every ten minutes. But even then, even in my body's physical weakness, the Lord carried me through. I am hesitant to say I made it through, because that has such a negative connotation. Yet, I did. I not only finished the race, but I was able to minister to 11 girls who were each hurting in unique ways. I faced challenges in this one week that I had never heard or dreamed of. I had never had a cabin until this point, where every single girl had something so significant and so destructive in their life. It was heart-breaking, but at the same time I loved watching as the Lord healed scars. Hearts were healed, courage was found, and sins were buried. While Satan attacked me, I saw God's power, and I fought back. While my body failed me, and my hopes for good health for the final week were burned, I saw God bring beauty of such ashes of my health. While I may have been ill, God still entrusted me with 11 girls whose lives were changed. Oh how I wish they knew the lessons they taught me in that week too!

So that is simply one memory, and if I were to recall them all, I'd never be able to finish. So in 20 days this has been the central focus and something I am encouraging myself to remember throughout the year. I never want to forget the summer, the lessons learned, the campers, the memories, and most importantly the way God changed my heart. He strengthened me, and helped me to learn that my weaknesses are still used for his glory. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Praise God for using me to glorify his kingdom!