Farewell

Dear Friends,

As you have probably noticed it has been months since I have posted on this blog. No excuse for that other than having a severe case of writers block and being incredibly busy.

Much has changed over the past several months. Since my last post I have embarked upon many adventures, met new people, survived a semester of college and fallen in love with coffee. This last season has been an interesting one. I’ve experienced so many new things and I feel like because of that my priorities and outlook on life have changed. Reading through my many posts, I noticed how much my style of writing has changed over the past couple of years. Because of this I have to decided to bring an end to this blog and start a new one (I’ll put the link at the end of my post). This blog feels like a jumble of unfinished thoughts and opinions, it’s time for something new.

The title of my new blog  is “Seeking Beauty in Wastelands“. I chose this name because I want to seek out the beauty of Christ in every moment and become more aware of his involvement in my life, developing a greater sense of awe and understanding of who He is. There is so much chaos and so many opinions that fly around. I want to break through the clamor and seek out what is true and break away from the many lies that have been passed off as right. We live in such a broken and fallen world, however, I want to look beyond the brokenness and see Christ working through it. So that is my goal in this new blog, I invite you join me on this adventure.

Thank you dear readers for faithfully following me along on this blog, it’s a been a wonderful outlet for my thoughts. It is my hope that you will check out my new blog and seek out beauty in the wastelands right along side me.

The New Blog

-Amy

Summer Adventures

Well…as usual…it’s been awhile, but hey, what’s new.

Heeeellllooooo world! Sitting down at my laptop, I was going to write just a general update about my life  but nothing that has happened recently can be spoken of in general terms. Summer hit and my life took off with a bang. First off, I committed to doing summer school on the weeks that I was at home. Why did I do such a crazy thing? On top of being out of town for four weeks? Eh. Because I can. But mainly because I wanted to catch up and get ahead in a few classes for different reasons. Honestly, it sounded extremely doable at the time and it still is, but at the same time coming home to a pile of homework after being gone for three straight weeks was not my idea of a “welcome home”. However, I in no way regret committing to it. Summer should always have a few challenges.

God has been working in my heart this summer. To start off I attended Summit Ministries. To put it simply, it changed my life. For those of you who haven’t heard of Summit, in a nutshell it is a ministry that’s goal is to provide high school but mainly college age students with worldview training with the intent of equipping them with the spiritual and Biblical tools to face the challenges of this world. Before going, I knew that I would learn but truthfully, I thought that I had most the answers already. Boy, was I wrong. After about 3 lectures it hit me just how little I knew, and that was only one of countless times that I was to be humbled by how lacking my knowledge was. But that wasn’t going to be the case for long. We had  20 speakers that were all at the top of their field and knew what they were talking about. Many of the lectures were on controversial subjects such as abortion, homosexuality, bioethics, transgenderism and pornography. Other  lectures focused more on worldviews, college prep, and marriage. The way we learned was described as “trying to drink out of fire hose”. There was a tremendous amount of information thrown at us in the two weeks that I was there, and I did not absorb near as much as I would have liked to. Every day was a new adventure, I woke up every morning with excitement not knowing what new idea I would be introduced to that day.  Not to say that everything at Summit was easy, light and enjoyable. No. By the end of the first week I was beyond exhausted this causing my asthma to rear it’s ugly head. But with the support of my friends and a lot meds and rest I was able to get through it and overall my time at Summit was beautiful. I was placed in a room with 7 other girls that were close to my age and each were precious in their own individual way. I bonded so quickly with all of them and they truly mean the world to me. Unfortunately they are scattered in different states all over the USA. One girl in particular that I met was named Jessica. I didn’t know that I needed Jessica till I met her, and now I can’t live without her friendship. I think C.S Lewis could describe the way we bonded best “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”And that’s the way it happened. We were sitting in a field talking at one moment, eating animal crackers to be exact,  then once we realized how much we held in common we were soon pouring out our hearts to one another.  This led to us spending most of our free time together afterwards, searching through our Bibles for answers to our questions and talking through solutions for our personal struggles. I’ve never met anyone like Jessica before and I am beyond grateful that God allowed me to meet such a precious sister. I have never bonded so quickly or deeply with someone and I know that I have friend in her for life. In addition to sweet Jess, God gave me an amazing small group leader. From the very first time that I met her, I knew she was special. But then as I got to hang out with her one on one it was soon obvious that it having her as my small group leader was God ordered. We had struggled with some of the same things and she was an incredible listener and was affirming in every way. She was one of the most genuine people that I have ever met, which is such a rare quality in people these days. She gave wise advice that was so applicable to where I was at.

God knew that I needed those two weeks and he set many people in path to show me just how intimately he cares for me. Summit to changed my life. I see things from a different perspective now. I now desire to live my life with a greater purpose in mind, I no longer want my actions to amount  for the moment, I want them amount to eternity. As cliche and overused as this statement is, I mean it, I want to live every single day as if it were my last. Because the truth it, life is fragile. It is here today and gone next. The world seems to be on the edge of disaster, and it feel as if no one is doing anything about it. Well. I’m ready to be that change. To be the shining light in this dark world. I’m ready to thrive and not just survive. I was created for a purpose, and I’m going to live it out to the best that I can through the strength of my heavenly Father.

Now who’s ready to change the world with me?

-Amy

“God doesn’t intend for life on earth to be endured, rather, he intends for life on this earth to be savored-every experience can be purposeful, meaningful and significant. Every day is an opportunity to discover more of him.” ~Leslie Ludy

Taken for Granted

There’s so much in this life that we take for granted. Friendships, health, and the many blessing and trials this life brings that ultimately shape us into who we are.

One of my good friends, that I’ve gotten the pleasure of getting to know for this past year is moving to a different state next month and I am realizing just how much I have taken her friendship for granted. She is so different from all of my friends, yet so incredibly special to me. She has a down to earth personality but a great sense of humor. She brings out the inner nerd and writer in me. I’m going to miss her dreadfully, but am thanking the good Lord for the internet and handwritten letters, because of those we won’t really be parting.

This past year God has brought many people into my life, even if some of them were only present for a short season. He used each of them to help guide and teach me through one experience or another. Some of those people, sadly, I don’t think will ever understand just how much they mean to me. God has been showing me recently just how fully exciting and beautiful this life is that we’ve been handed. Although we’re looking at the world through a pair of seemingly shattered glasses, it’s our Father in Heaven who works  all things for the better whether we know it or not. Taking those shattered pieces and turning them into a beautiful masterpiece. It’s like this “Because we’re cracked and broken, God’s light shines even brighter through us.” (Author unknown)

So yeah, I’m learning. Every day my journey continues and I’m realizing that the more I acknowledge and invite Christ into my daily life, the more he works and shows me just how marvelous and loving his heart is for us.

Don’t take anything for granted dear friends, much of this life is here today and gone tomorrow.

Peace out guys!

1 Peter 4:7-11

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Your Love is A Melody

If your love was a melody, you’d be singing it over me.
Your voice sweeter than honey, the words more meaningful than life.

If your love was a melody it would be soaring through the wind, carrying a whisper of love that would speak to my heart.

Your love is a melody, piercing my soul, tearing through the darkness, and moving the mountains in me.

Your love is a melody and you’re singing it over me.

 

Psalm 40:3
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

War

Why do we wage in this war so black and white?

We are fighting against ourselves and the One who is trying to save our lives.

Yes we have an enemy, who strives to consume our race, he scoffs and lies in our face.

But little does he know, he’s not the author of my story.

Through hellfire and darkness, we press on because we know that in the end our savior receives all the glory.

  

Reflections

 Happy New Year everyone!At the strike of midnight, with a roar of fireworks 2015 came to a close. I sat on my  bed last night, journaling, reminiscing and reflecting, waiting for the year to end.  I began to think on what God had taught me this past year and I decided that I would like to share with you the top 5. I realize that much of it will sound rather cliche but what you read is me speaking from my heart with honesty.

  1. There is truly no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). God is a forgiving and loving father who keeps no record of our wrong (Corinthians 13:5) and he has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). His arms are always wide open ready for us to return to him.
  2. God’s love for people cannot be fathomed.  I wrote in a previous post about my experience at Camp Blessing Texas, but to summarize what I learned that week was this: God is so in love with his creation, especially his children. I experienced God’s love in a way that I never thought possible, I went to CBTX in many ways empty exspecting to pour myself into these campers lives, but they ended up teaching me more than I could ever guessed and I came away from it overflowing and bursting with joy from God’s love.
  3. I can do nothing without Christ. God showed me this year than I need to rely on him and his strength. Especially this summer I found myself physically and emotionally drained. But in Christ I found the rest and strength that I needed to get through every situation.
  4. God answered my prayers in ways that I never would have expected. For those of you who do not know this, almost three years ago I moved and ended up being about 45 minutes away from many of my closest friends. This was hard. But I quickly joined a strings ensemble and fell in love with my violin, this distracted me from much of the strain that moving can put on you. However, a few months after joining the ensemble I developed tendinitis in my right arm. For awhile, I pushed through but within  a year I could barely play or move my right arm. I was frustrated, disappointed, and borderline depressed. I did physical therapy and took anti-inflammatories and my arm  improved but it never fully healed. Fast forward two years; I was still upset and didn’t understand why God hadn’t answered my prayers and healed me. I progressivly  grew more and more discouraged. It didn’t make sense why something that I treasured so much would be snatched away from me. Well, Summer of 2015 hits and I found myself thinking less and less about my injury. But where would I have found the time to anyway? A week at Jubilee ranch, a week at Camp Blessing, a week in Garner Texas and all the moments in between. To be honest, I really had not thought much about my arm since early June, that is  util last night when I was talking about it with a good friend.                                     “For me this was the year of friendship.” I told Hannah. “It’s interesting, for the past two years music was my life I suppose because I hardly ever saw any of my friends. It’s still important to me but not like it used to be. The fact that my arm is injured really doesn’t matter anymore.”  Then I sighed, allowing my heart to swell with all the memories I had made with so many of my friends.     Then Hannah said  “Amy, don’t you see?  You asked God to heal you, and he did. He gave you friends to come along side you to support and love you. He showed you that there was more to life than music” That’s when it hit me and I wanted to cry. She was completely right. God gave me exactly what I needed right when I needed it. He filled my heart with love for people and this allowed me to not dwell so much on what was wrong with me and my problems.
  5. Last, God has shown me that I happy right where I am. For a while I wished that I would grow up faster so that I could: Get my drivers license, buy a car, be done with high school, go to college, start my career and the list goes on. But once I saw how fast this year passed I realized that I am happy right where God has me. In this house in the city where there’s ridiculous traffic but some pretty great Tex Mex. I’m grateful for the friends that I have and would not want to trade this time of my life for anything in the world.

So there it is. My year as a whole. Goals for next year? Well here they are.

  • I want to keep God first in everything I do. That is something that I struggle with. When life gets good, I tend to subconsciously  push Christ to the back burner.
  • I want to live life to the fullest. I was placed on this earth for a reason and I want to live everyday as if it were my last, giving all glory to God and serving him in everything I do.

2016, here I come and I’m expecting great things.

Revelation 21:5
 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

  

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s that time of year again. Christmas! The tea kettle is on to boil, and the cookies are in the oven, baking to perfection.

Christmas is one of the best times of of the year. Or is it? I think our society has turned Christmas into something that people often dread. The shopping, time commitments, baking, and decorations. I often wonder if many of us have forgotten the true many of Christmas? We get so caught up in “Doing Christmas” that we forget what is truly about. It’s about love,family and giving. It is a time in which we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

So this year, let’s try and commit to not getting caught up in the busyness of the holiday let’s enjoy out friends and family. Taking a moment give thanks for all that we have been blessed with. And find someone else that you can help make their Christmas a bit merrier.

Merry Christmas Y’all

Vibrations, Vibrato

  Vibrations, vibrato, makes my heart beat staccato.

Like a dance I sway, and to a meadow I travel.

My heart it sings a song, a song that expresses the emotion in my soul.

The joy I feel is so complete, and I could fly, so I’ll play a high note that brings me up to the sky.

Then to bring me back down, to this place called reality, I’ll play a simple lullaby.

It’ll sooth me to sleep, and in peace I will rest

  

An Unexpsected Blessing

Note from the Author~ I wrote this as to give you a walk in my shoes. I spent a week at Camp Blessing Texas this Summer and it changed my life. The names of campers have been changed to protect their privacy, although they are by far the most uninhibited people that I have ever met. Please enjoy, and God bless!

Have you ever had an opinion, but had no evidence to support it? Well, I have. Before Camp Blessing, my opinion of people with disabilities was this- “I know they are loved and I feel bad for their situation, but I feel awkward around them. They’re hard to understand.” As ashamed as I am of this stereotype that I accepted, if I had not, I probably would not have experienced all that I did. My mindset was changed in those six days, and so was my heart. I also know that I was meant to work the adult week at Camp Blessing. That it was God’s will for me. Why else would I have gotten the last slot available to work there? Looking back, I ask myself, what made me want to work there? My past experience with camps have never been good. I always become ill, or homesick and though ultimately I enjoyed my experience there, camp has never been my thing. All that I remember going through my mind when I heard about Camp Blessing was “Sounds like fun, I’m going to go.” And that was it. No thinking it over, no anxiety of the possibility of not knowing anyone, just a strange peace, tinted with excitement. So, I packed my bags, walked out the door, not expecting much, but what I experienced changed my life.

Pulling into the driveway of the camp grounds, I was astonished to see how many people were there. My eyes were wide with anticipation, my heart pounding. We pulled past one of the stops, only to be greeted by a friendly man with a peachy beard  “Hi there, I’m Pop Rocks, we’re so excited that you are here! Have you worked at Camp Blessing before?” Reaching through the car window he shook my hand. I replied saying that no I had not. He then asked me if I had any questions or concerns. Despite my nervousness, I said no.  From there, we drove on, dropped off my paperwork, and then dropped me off at my cabin. Lugging my oversized suitcase through the door, I was met by a group of teenagers and cabin leaders, I was quickly instructed that I would be in the room to the right, with Butterfly and Mcfly. I walked into the room being met by five sets of bunk-beds, thin green carpet, and walls that looked like they had seen better days. So I strategically chose my bunk, in a corner next to the bathroom. I felt a little bit uncomfortable, being greeted only by a few, but I was here now, and was going to see it through.

After setting up my bunk my fellow Barnstormers and I headed out the door to do  some “Team Building” exercises. After completing these, we made our way to the Chapel for our orientation. We were largely outnumbered by staff and SOTK’s. There were only 20 of us Barnstormers. The definition of our job was cleanup crew. This I would later find out included: waiting tables, cleaning up after meals and activities, dishes, and spending time with the campers. The SOTK’s (Servant of the King) would each be assigned a camper, who would be their “Buddy” for that week. I would later see how selfless this job was, for many of the campers apart from having autism, down syndrome, or spina bifida were either non-verbal, blind, or wheelchair bound, sometimes they all were all three. The orientation provided us with information on the individual disabilities that we would be seeing. I soon realized just how kind and genuine everyone was there. The staff who dedicated their entire summer to serving, the owners and founders of the camp. Everyone. They were also passionate about their jobs, and ready to help any of us if we needed it. Especially my two cabin leaders. They each made a point to connect with us individually. After that evening of orientation, we were given a partner whom we would be working with and the cabin that we would be serving. Along with the SOTK’s and cabin leaders of that group my partner Darcy(name has been changed) and I looked over paperwork that included all of the women that we would be in the cabin that we were assigned to. As I looked through the paperwork, I didn’t just see the disabilities. I saw the people. I saw young women who loved the movie Frozen, whose favorite color was green, or sang songs from The Little Mermaid, and  I soon realized that this week, these  women were not going to be defined by their disabilities. They were going to be defined by the One who loves them the most. They would be able to live normally for a week, free from the bonds of judgement.

“Welcome to Camp Blessing! Here’s your luggage!” I smiled happily as I struggled to carry large suitcases through the door. It was the second day and the campers were quickly arriving. I had never seen such excitement. The camper’s smiles and pure joy was almost more than I could handle.  But it wasn’t until that evening that I experienced true joy. It was at chapel during worship that I was able to see God’s heart for people. The campers so freely worshiped, not caring what others thought. They danced, they sang, and expressed their love for their Heavenly Father in beautiful ways. My heart was overflowing with joy during this time, and I realized that what I was watching and experiencing was a taste of Heaven. Because people aren’t going to care what others think of them when the worship God, they are only going to care about him, and his love. Throughout the entire week I had epiphanies such as this.

It was my third day at Camp Blessing, and I had waited tables,  served the beautiful campers, many of which had stolen my heart. That day my agenda included being a “spotter” holding the campers ankles while they rode the horse. This I must say, was one of my favorite parts of the week. Many of the campers were fearful of horses, but every one them got on the huge beast, and rode. They overcame their fear, and once they were on, they were laughing, talking, and simply having a ball. While hanging out with my campers, something started making sense. Especially with one young woman who was nonverbal in my cabin. Her name was Analise(name has been changed), and her “Buddy” had gotten up to go get a cup of water. So, I stepped in and hung out with her for a few minutes. I held a board that had the letters of the alphabet on it. While sitting there, Aislyn began making sounds, I could tell she wanted to say something, so I held up her board and she started tapping on letters. Seeing what she was spelling out, I said “Yeah Aislyn, we’re about to worship.” She proceeded to spell out other words. And then it clicked. Many of these people with disabilities are trapped inside their own body. They are fully aware of what’s going on around them, more so than most people, and there is so much that they want to say and do, and because of Camp Blessing, in many ways, these adults are able to find their voice.

I had  never realized how much simply being kind could do. On one the days that I was there I had looked at the assignment board and realized  that I was not going to be serving my usual group of campers, in fact I was going to be serving a table of men whose ages ranged from early twenties to mid thirties. So, I grabbed the tray of food, and headed over to the table. I was met by uncertain half smiles, and looks of confusion. After passing out the plates, I stood faithfully in front of the table. Waiting. Waiting for someone to ask me to go get them a drink, or a napkin, anything was better than this. But I plastered a smile on my face, and waited. I soon caught on to the fact that they taking care of their own needs, so, as one of the SOTK’s got up to refill his drink, I jumped in front of him, blocking his path throwing arms wide,  I said “Let me get that for you!”. But he turned me down. I was confused by their behavior, it was completely opposite of my usual  table, I wondered if they didn’t want me to serve them because I was a female. But I persevered that day, by dinner the campers and the SOTKs of that cabin loved me. Asking for things, teasing me etc. But I suppose I didn’t realize how much they loved me. After that day, I was back to my normal table, but the cabin leaders of that group nagged at me, asking if I was going to be their Barnstormer that day, and I repeatedly had to tell them no. But, they were persistent, and went to my cabin leaders,  asking if I would be their server the last day. They allowed it, and as I was walking over to the table, a genuine smile on my face this time, the table started chanting my name at the top of their lungs. “Amy! Amy! Amy!” My heart felt fuzzy with happiness, I had done nothing out of the normal, I had simply been kind.

That week I watched campers who were wheelchair bound, go down 30 foot high ziplines, and pivot so high from a giant swing that it seemed as if they were flying, and those who couldn’t walk, dance. It was a beautiful sight.

“Wanna dance?” I heard from behind me, turning around I found a camper in a wheelchair staring up intently at me.  I smiled wide and responded over the loud music “Sure!” I was then spun around, twirled, and did all sorts of moves until I was completely out of breath. The entire evening I danced, and when I wasn’t dancing I was watching. The women campers were all dressed like princesses, their faces glowing, and the  young women who could not walk would be picked up by a tall handsome staff member and cradled and twirled around. It was a touching sight. So often we take the simple things for granted, forgetting how blessed we are.  I don’t think I’ve met a group of people so happy, and content with life as it is, they accepted themselves as they were. Physically broken. That is hard for most of us to do, even if we aren’t.

I learned so much in those six days. I was able to experience God’s love first hand. The hugs from campers, the smiles, and the peace that I felt in that place was overwhelming. I saw many whose physical bodies were broken, yet their hearts were whole, and they felt joy. Something so simple yet amazing. On the last day the campers were given the opportunity to get up on stage and share their favorite part of the week. When his turn, a camper got up on stage with his SOTK and said “This week, I taught my counselor how to be a good counselor.” and then he went on to talk about to rest of his week. At the time, his statement made me laugh. But now, thinking back, I’m humbled. It’s true, the campers did teach us to be “better counselors” or in my case, a better Barnstormer. They did this by taking our minds off of ourselves. Gently helping us realize that there is more than one person on this planet. Profound right? But there is almost more to it than that, God called us as Christians to serve, saying “Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, pleasing to God as your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1. I’ve seen that scripture my entire life, but it was not made real to me until I spent a week at Camp Blessing. Serving is an act of worship. The Bible commands it, and for a good reason too. I realized that week that the more I served, the more fulfilled I felt, and as the week progressed, I can say that I have never felt the presence of God more strongly than when I was serving. Yes, I was tired, my feet ached, and there were times that I went to bed hungry, but at the end of the day, my heart felt whole. I never thought that Camp, of all things, could bring such a life changing experience, but then again, I guess that’s just the way that God works.