My Life Is Not My Own

God is amazing. I was sitting at Camp, having a deep discussion time in the field at night with some absolutely amazing people and the stars....oh my goodness, the stars!
The stars were absolutely breathtaking. I haven't seen stars like that since we camped at Fisherman's Camp above Lake Naivasha in Kenya.
They were so close, like you could touch them, watching you coolly. When I was younger I used to think that the angels had poked holes in the floor of heaven to watch over us....I still like to think it's true.
Sitting there, the wind cool, the air warm, amazing people surrounding me, I just laid back and watched the stars, saw two shooting stars, watched the yellow-green glow of the fireflies dancing in the trees.
Nostalgic. Idyllic. Words I haven't been able to use in a while. They apply when you're at Camp. It still amazes me how God can use my servitude to serve me.

And speaking of serving God......I have a confession to make.
Serving God is something I have always longed to do. I was ready and willing to do His work....but I always wanted to serve God in my own way. The promise I made was always "God, Your will be done as long as I will it too"
I am good at fooling myself. Really, really good at it. I used to think of it as self-preservation thing. So I fooled myself into thinking that MY dream was actually GOD'S dream.

My Plan:
I was going to decide what skill I needed. Be it teacher, EMT, etc. I was going to find the perfect man, start a family, raise support, load up and move to Morocco or India or Ethiopia and start a mission. Change lives. Settle in one place, raise my kids the way I was raised. End up like those amazing elderly missionary couples like Wayne and Greta, still living and serving in a foreign country they call home.
That was the dream. Sounds pretty great, huh? Doing what I love. Loving what I do. Serving God.......nope.
God got to show his "sense of humor" and completely flip my dream upside down.

God's Plan:
I am going to get my degree as a photojournalist and I am going to find some mission or something like that to work for. I am going to travel all over the place. War-torn countries, natural disaster sites, slums, famine-struck villages, clinics over-run with AIDS victims, countries left in the dark....I will go to them all.
I will tell the stories of every woman who was beaten and raped and left to die with no justice. I will tell the stories of the little hungry children with bloated bellies and tears in their eyes. I will tell the stories of every man, woman and child persecuted for loving Christ and still dance and sing because they are saved. I might not get married. I might not be able to have a family. I may not be able to settle down and form a home......

I get it. It's perfect for me. I have the experience and the confidence to travel alone. I have the restless soul that longs to see it all. I have the gift of photography and writing.....and living in the US really does make me see the need for someone to spread the word.
The people of America have tried to make this country a "safe haven" where you don't have to hear about the reality of this world if you don't want to. If you want to know about "bad things" then you had to go looking for them. They only knew statistics.
In the words of Stalin (who I don't normally quote) "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of thousands is merely a statistic"
And unfortunately, this has become true. These people give $15 to a number every month when their tithe is due....They never see the faces. They never learn names. They never hear the stories.
So it's my job to raise awareness. Ignorance is *not* bliss anymore.
It's time to show them what the real world is like. But still.....sometimes I would rather just settle in one place, work with one people group, learn one language, form long-term relationships.....
Where am I going to find a guy who wants to just wander around the globe, often-times be hungry, be threatened, be in danger.....honestly, I think I am great and all but not *that* great.
So there is the lonliness factor I'll have to deal with. And lonliness is one of the strongest emotions you will ever feel.
It's scary. It's thrilling. It's amazing. It's a done deal. I have no say in the matter.
I made the promise, didn't I? I said "Send me....I'll go."
So this is Him sending me. So this is me going. Willingly....reluctantly. It's funny, the mix of emotions I feel. I have a hard time with authority, and lately I have been challenging God's. O_O bad thing to do, I know.
So that is my job this summer. I need to learn to let go of my own feelings. Let Him take control. It's not easy to surrender my life when I have been fighting for every inch I have for years.
So this is me. This is my plan...His plan.....OUR plan.

Your Will, not mine, be done.
First official week of Camp David...and oh what a week it was! It was a bit of a change, starting out as a counselor. Counseling is much, much more stressful than many things I have done before. It's extremely challenging but so, so rewarding. Still, it's a little better to start the year off with something a little less strenuous.

It was amazing, coming back to Camp for the second year. Not only did I fit right back in to the Staff family, but I had so many relationships already formed with returning campers. It was an awesome feeling.
I was super surprised at myself this week, to be honest. I had a couple of difficult campers, several hard counseling moments but for some reason, I remained completely calm throughout all of the problems. In fact, I remained even more than calm. I was happy. All week long, no matter what was happening, no matter how many problems I had, I was happy.
It was so weird, because I haven't felt that....that such a long time. If any of you read my last post, about wanting to be able to break down every wall I had left and love fully then you will know what I am talking about.
I think I did it. I think I broke down my walls. Everyone always says that someday a special person will come along and tear down your barriers, well guess what doesn't take a "special person" just takes you. It takes your decision, your will-power, your longing to feel that sort of joy again.
I found the will-power in others. These girls I am working for come from some harsh backgrounds. They each have one or both parents in prison, they are being raised by single parents, family members or foster homes, many of them have been abused physically and emotionally...they need me as a mentor and friend, but they need Christ more and what more am I than Christ's hands and feet?
So I pulled my strength from that source. They needed every ounce of love that I could muster, and I gave it all. Every time I thought I couldn't love any more, my heart was like the Widow's Oil....I had so much more than I could ever use!
My soul kept filling and overflowing, filling again, like it never ends. And I don't want it to end. No matter how late the girls stayed up giggling, no matter how many times their pain and anger came out in attitude and lashing out towards me, no matter how many times I had get out of bed to kill a spider so that the earsplitting screaming would stop, I felt happy and I have missed that feeling.

Now it's time to go to sleep. I was given the....privilege....of taking the girls back to St. Louis on the bus. 21 girls....all their bags....4 pee took from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sleep is a necessity. I can't wait to start all over again on Monday!

~*Peace of Christ to you*~

My Goal: To Love Unconditionally

I don't know what's wrong with me today. I have been fine. I went to Staff Training this past week for Camp David and it was great. I got excited for Camp, I got fired up, I even shared my testimony, as terrifying as it was to expose myself to that many people like that. I am really glad I did though. The response was wonderful. I found out that so many people had almost the same story and no one seemed to change the way they thought of me.
It is so amazing to have people like that in my life. People who will stand by me no matter what.
Anyways, it was a wonderful week. I got to catch up with good friends, meet new people and get closer to some others. The training is very thourough, if a little monotonous, but it is really great. It has prepared me quite a bit for the Summer. Last summer was just so crazy and I was so new. This year I really know what I am supposed to be doing, so I hope it goes even better.
The last night we played capture the flag and it was one intense game, though my ribs suffered quite a bit from incessant tackling.
We went to bed at 12:45 and I didn't get to sleep until 1:15-ish. I was unaware that the schedule for the morning was back an hour so we could sleep and I woke up at 5:45 to get ready.........needless to say, I was exhausted. I am surprised I stayed awake for 6 hours of CPR/First Aid training which I am also really glad I could learn.
So all in all it was a good week. But I am afraid it's going to get bad here soon. There is a wall that everyone hits every year or so where they just don't think they can go any further and I am about to hit that wall.
It's really bad timing. Last year I hit the wall *before* Camp...this year however......
It seemed to start this morning at the Rolla Sasquatch-cestenial/Summerfest.
I don't know what I was feeling, but all of the sudden I panicked. Was I going to be here the rest of my life? What if the college I am considering doesn't work out? What if God has other plans for me that like it or not I have to follow? What if I marry an accountant and bake pies and drive my constantly texting, brand-name wearing middle-class American kids to soccer and cheerleading practice? I can't live like this! But what if I have to? What if there is no other choice?
You have no idea how painful it is to know that every single day I am here, I am feeling farther and farther away from my people in Africa, from the person I am striving to become. I *need* to get home this summer, but it's not going to happen, and that breaks my heart. I want to go home and feel like my old self for a little while.
I need to at least go somewhere. I need to see a new sight. Hear a new language. Feel a different atmosphere. I am the only sedentary rogue gypsy I know of!!
The point of being a Rogue Gypsy is to travel even farther off the "normal" path than normal "gypsies" do. And yet here I am in Rolla, Missouri, watching the parade and looking at old cars.
It's good for awhile. But the thing is, I am beginning to like it. I am beginning to get a feel for this whole small town life. I like knowing people everywhere I go. I like the spring turning into summer. I like the idea of being able to walk to the library, of having family near. But I don't want to like it! I like this life but I LOVE traveling, adventuring in the unknown, helping the needy people of the world. I know that if it comes down to either staying here or taking an opportunity to help elsewhere, I would go somewhere else at the drop of a hat. And I don't want to get close to anyone anymore. I always love them too much and I know the pain of having to leave an entire life I have built....and I don't want to ever have to do that again.
I don't want to be the one who loves so much. It hurts too much! But it is a kind of pain I have to live with. Because I also know the pain of living without it. the pain of pushing people away because if I love them then they will end up leaving me or I them. And let me tell you, the pain of living without loving is so much worse.
I have to fight the tendancy every day to push my loved ones away, to shut them out because love hurts. It hurts so much, but I can't help it.
Sometimes I think the people closest to me think that I am a little cold, a little aloof and a lot of the time I am. I try not to be, but I am tired of getting hurt. I just really wish they could get a glimpse into my mind and see that I love them. I love everyone in my life so much.....(ok, so not *everyone* but you know what I mean) and I want them to know that. I love hearing and saying the words "I love you" and them being honest. I love getting and giving genuine hugs. I love feeling loved and appreciated. I really do. Not excessively, but to a certain extent....everyone does. Remember that, because I am going to try to.

I always feel so much better after writing things out. I start out with a problem and end with a solution. I am going to try my best to make every day count. I am not going to wait for someone else to break down my walls. I am taking a sledge hammer to them myself. Every day might be the last day I have to tell my mom how much I appreciate and respect her. My last chance to tell my sisters that they are the most beautiful things God has ever created. My last chance to thank my Grandpa for making my life joyful on a daily tell Austin how much he means to me as a friend and a make my life count for something bigger than myself.
And that starts with Camp. Did I take on too much? Yes. Yes I did, and I am willing to accept that. But this is my chance to start living out love.
Odds are I will get hurt many, many times. But the ratio of the pain to the joy will be so outstandingly worth it! Please be praying for me these next few weeks as I try to just open up the flood gates and let every ounce of my love pour out onto my friends and family and these Campers I was put in Rolla to serve.
Goodnight to all of you bloggers out there.



The world changes.
Do I remain the same?
Am I strong?
Carry on?
Act like nothing could go wrong?
The world changes.

The world changes.
Do I change with it?
Should I always go,
With every ebb and flow?
Do I forget myself...stoop so low?
The world changes.

The world changes.
I should adapt.
Don't change too fast.
But don't live in the past.
Not all is meant to last.
The world changes.

The world changes.
I must stay the same.
If alone I must stand
I remain who I am
I am part of His plan.
He never changes.