Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All of the happy things are coming!

The time has finally come. I'm moving back to Orange City tomorrow. I'm going back to live with some of the women I love most dearly, and I cannot contain my excitement.
For those of you who worked with me this summer (as well as anyone from school who kept in touch with me), you already know that I was keeping track of the days quite closely. In fact, I have kept a countdown on my computer. Now, this was not at all because I didn't want to be at camp. I chose to keep track for the simple purpose of getting increasingly excited for the next thing: junior year.

To back up a little bit, I'd like to talk about Saturday and moving back from Wyoming for a minute. It seems like much longer than 10 days ago that I rolled out of bed and washed my hair in the dish room sink to avoid digging my shower shoes out of my packed bag. Yet I can definitely clearly recall the sleepy hand clasp and "I love you" exchanged with Jordan at 6 in the morning; the awkward goodbye conversation with Bri that made me smile; the hugs from my favorite wranglers that I didn't want to end; the two goodbye hugs to Katelyn that happened an hour and a half apart; the talk with sleepy Danielle that almost made me cry; the goodbye hug from Alice that felt a little too final; the acknowledging salute from Greg Berry as we pulled out in Hannah's car.

But all of this was made far more significant by the two lines of friends outside the door as we got ready to get into the car. It was as if they were purposely giving us a formal send-off. I don't know if that's true or not...but it had the effect regardless.

The last 10 days at home have been good. So, so good. I hadn't been expecting that, frankly. I don't like transition times (that is pretty obvious in my blogs about previous breaks) because there is a lack of structure that stresses me. But I think this time has been different because of the summer I just had.

I reconnected with Jesus this summer. There were times when my heart would break and I would have to force myself to turn back to Him, but those times were less often than they were last school year. My Haven family blew me away day after day as they reminded me of what it means to live in a Christ-honoring community. And when I returned to Gravity, Iowa, I missed them intensely but didn't hurt from the missing.

Besides binge-watching Monk and Jericho with my family, I haven't done too much else. Well, besides get sick. That didn't take long. But I have thought over and over how glad I am that my body remained healthy while I was at Haven. I actually have time to be sick--that's a strange concept for my normal life schedule. 

Speaking of real life, I had the privilege of going to a future Red Raider's birthday party on Friday night. It was so encouraging to talk with a girl who will become a 3South family member in a few short days and remember all of the great things about welcoming freshmen last year. Freshmen have had an important influence on me at Northwestern...I would be missing a future roommate and several dear friends if this hadn't been the case. I am so happy that I once again have the opportunity to arrive early enough to welcome the freshmen to 3South as they move in.

Things will be much different this year than they were last year...but I am becoming more ready for that as the time draws closer. My heart still aches at the memory of the neighbors who won't be there to crash on my futon this year...and those who will be a little farther away. But working with Student Activities and tutoring for writing as well as kicking off the TENTS film project will keep me even busier than ever, and I have so many people I am ready to spend time with again.

Prayer requests:
I learned to speak more boldly about Tourette's this summer. The people I worked with grew used to my jokes about it and a couple of them helped me deal with my disorder. I don't want to stop being so open just because I am living in a place where I don't feel as safe to talk about it. 

Sleep schedule (or, in my case, willingness to be an insomniac); last year I was terrible about getting more than 4 hours of sleep per night. I don't want that to be true again.

Honesty with people; my first reaction when I feel unheard is to be passive aggressive. As much as some of my fellow staff members joked about that with me, it doesn't fix things. If I don't communicate when I feel alone or threatened, my life for the next 9 months is going to be miserable.

My walk with Jesus; Northwestern simply does not promote good time with Jesus in my life. I don't want the next few months to become yet another dry season to crawl across.

The song of the post is a little more difficult to present since there wasn't a decent video on YouTube for it. Shadows of Doubt (Attalus) is a part of a beautiful concept album called Post Tenbras Lux. This song conveys all of my emotions and thoughts about my walk with Jesus over the last year...but I plead with you to listen to all of the tracks to get a clearer story.

I am anchored by a Divine Love. God loves me, and God's love is enough.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Seasons of readiness.

Camp ended today.

I realize that some of my camp family was ready for this day, but I was not. I stood in the dish room this morning and scrubbed hash brown pans with a weariness I hadn't felt in weeks. While sitting in chapel next to Jess, I kept my head down to hide tears that I couldn't stop. During the noon meal, I sat alone at a section of one of the tables and watched people with a surreal sensation lurking in the pit of my stomach. After lunch, I hugged so many people and waved goodbye to even more...and wiped away those stubborn tears as I watched a red car take away one of my best friends here. As I walked out to the farm with a plan to clean out the barn one final time, I breathed more deep sighs than usual.

While most of us who remained at camp sat at Pizza Hut tonight, I looked down the tables and studied people I have grown to love deeply. Pictures were being snapped on smart phones and cards were being tossed onto the table. Conversation was being passed across plates of Hawaiian pizza and tensions from earlier that day were slowly diffusing. My eyes stung, but this time it was from the onion fumes in the air.

Some of the people had sat with me through my darkest moments--Michael, my triad partners, my bunkmates. Others were coworkers in the dish room and people who had thrown a ball over the Schism net with me. Tomorrow...today, if you are looking at the time...most of us will leave this safe Haven.

I will leave this safe Haven and descend to lower altitudes and prepare to rise to the occasion as my stress level rises in less than two weeks as school begins again. I am not ready to go back to the real world, but I am ready to rest.

I am ready to dash across campus barefoot with video equipment in order to film RED411 videos before the Sunday deadline. I am ready to laugh hysterically in the cafeteria at inside jokes again. I am ready to sit at a date table with my Briannester and talk about how our camp experiences stretched us. I am ready to shoot six films in less than two months in order to produce them all by spring.

I am ready to love people well and not selfishly.

My heart aches tonight, my friends. But my soul has been soothed countless times this summer by the unpredictable love of others.

The video for this post is "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" by Mike Mains & The Branches. I suspect that this one might be a repeat, but I could be wrong and regardless of the reality, the song fits tonight. The next time I post will be from a farm in Iowa. Crazy.

God loves me, and God's love is enough.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Out of Control

The final stretch is beginning.

The ache in the pit of my stomach is growing daily. Stress and tensions have been building, but my desire to leave here has not grown. There were times this week when I felt very alone, but not as many times when I remembered why I feel safe here. I have debated all week whether or not to say that...but I feel as if honesty is necessary at a higher cost sometimes. Two of my wingmates sent me letters this week, and each word from them induced a little bit of emotion I had been stuffing underneath everything else for weeks.

We had 3rd and 4th graders this week--my favorite age group, by far. Michael was back to being a counselor, which made me a little bit sad since he wasn't on dish crew with me. I helped lead an amusing Night Game and helped build a fire (for the first time here). I sang a round of "My Body Lies Over The Ocean" with Johanna in the dish room...a song parody we continue to perfect as we come up with new ways to die (our favorite is still the mac'n'cheese verse). I had a late night conversation with Jess and Martha about Tourette's that definitely became the best part of the week for me. Staff meetings were full to the brim but always entertaining. Dish crew often consisted of just Wadsworth and me, but we discovered that we function just fine on a team of two during a week of fewer than 40 campers.

I'm going to see my dear Abby McCubbin tomorrow when we road trip to Denver for the day with Hannah, Jenny, and Kayla. This will be the second month in a row that we have gotten together while I am at camp. I'm looking forward to some good conversation and some Brother/Abby/Justine bonding time.

Prayer requests? The Captain, Michael, and I are leading worship next week for high school camp. I am so excited to worship with two of my favorite guys, but I don't want my focus to be on that. My stress level has been rising due to the coming changes and transitions. Our good friend Obed is leaving a week early, which makes me sad, but more importantly, please pray for safe travels for him. High school week is going to be bigger than last year, which is exciting; please keep it, the campers, and the Haven staff in your prayers this next week.

Video for the post is "Out of Control" by Standing Small. For reasons I don't feel ready to discuss here, this song came to mind tonight as I typed this in the dark barracks. The beauty of this entire album (Asleep at the Oars, Dreaming of Freedom) hit me a few years ago, but it slipped under my music radar after I got to college last year. This particular song--along with Sailing Away--carries more significance in my own life than any of the others. I would definitely recommend that you check out Standing Small's projects, as well as Odd New Celebrity, their group's more recent name.

God loves me, and God's love is enough. Always.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Eternal seconds in front of dark campfires.

Two more weeks.

Whenever I think about how close we are to finishing the camp season, a blanket of sadness drops over my head and shuts out the light for a while. Not because I don't want to be back at school--believe me, I miss my college family so very much--but because this home called Haven on the Rock is one of the safest places I have ever been to simply...be.

It also reminds me of just how much Haven changes me. I came out here this summer with an attitude of expectancy and excitement, but a hint of unhealed hurt seeped through the cracks of that face I had placed out on display. I look at my work ethic here and wonder where it disappears as soon as I set foot in a classroom. I think of my eagerness to serve endlessly and ask myself how this same body can struggle to walk two flights of stairs and crawl into bed at 2 in the morning. I examine my awareness of the pain I see in others here and question my standoffish behavior when I witness the same in the dorms.

There were times that felt endless this week. These seemingly eternal moments were spent sitting in front of dark campfires having long conversations; cuddling closer to Jess next to the fire pit and listening to Martha speak of young people she cares deeply about; sitting in staff meetings and laughing until I cried because Bri misheard something I said; spraying dishes at 11 p.m. in hopes of escaping my thoughts; handing filthy pots and pans to Michael across the sink and savoring every minute he was on my dish crew; twirling and pivoting with full dish trays and still-dripping hands as I completed the Captain's Challenge with Jenni, Greg, and the Captain himself cheering me on; singing worship songs outside with Jess and Michael; getting surprise hugs from Madi when I needed them the most.

But so much more happened that deserves mentioning. Changing my farm devotional to one that explains salvation led to one young camper raising his hand and asking the question, "Does that mean everyone goes to heaven?" A late night conversation in the bathroom unearthed the story of why I fear being left behind and brought healing words from a triad partner. Standing outside talking to Karisa about Northwestern helped me explain our vision for TENTS. A Friday afternoon trip to town with Michael, Katelyn, and Hannah revealed a quirky thrift shop and dropped us into a meaningful, much-needed adult conversation about counseling and seeing God work through little things during the week. A night spent on the floor in Jess' room meant a second adult conversation and the quality time I had needed all week.

Two more weeks of this beauty. It isn't enough. I want to be with these people forever. If my worlds could combine into one slightly larger one, my heart might ache a little less.

The song of the post is "Where Love Dies" by Mike Mains & The Branches. It's one of those tracks from this album that runs through my head in the dish room...a sure sign that it has meaning since I have a grand total of three songs that rotate in my brain during my time spent in front of that sink. The sadness mixes with hope and longing. It fits. It just fits.

God loves me, and God's love is enough.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Moments of Joy, Pain, and Lots of Rain

What a crazy week. Chickens plucked earrings out, storms constantly threatened, three stages of Schism were played (sun, rain, and dark), and 94 children ran all over Haven grounds for five days. We fed and washed dishes for 170 people, and we even stayed ahead of the rush at most meals.

I didn't always communicate my thoughts willingly this week, but people consistently pushed me to talk anyway. My mental and emotional state teetered a bit too far on the edge for the second half of the week, but God never left and continued to send people at just the right times. Sometimes I went to bed humbled by how perfect His timing truly is.

It rained this week. Often. Schism in the Rain happened on the same day that I trekked all over camp trying to figure out what to do with an injured rooster (gotta love donkeys that step on chicken feet and chop off toes). Activities and night games happened in the rain, which certainly spiced it up but also soaked the staff and the 5th and 6th grade campers. We hadn't intended to have water games, but all of the time spent in the rain on Wednesday created them regardless. Lake Day was sunny and hot, thankfully, so the speed boat and pontoon came out and the beach was packed with staff and kids all day.

I acted in frustration and anger at times this week. I spoke words and thought things that I am not proud of. My heart ached as I watched a certain little boy live in his own little world, so misunderstood by everyone around him. I found healing in time spent with him during the Thursday night Mission Impossible game, but it hurt knowing that I won't see him again until at least next summer, if ever again. I knew joy after that game ended and the girls won when no one, including myself, expected them to do so. Remembering the unrestrained excitement that followed, which I shared with a few staff members--including a couple of the guys--still puts a smile on my face.

Last night was spent Schsiming in the Dark with staff members...the only truly competitive game we played all week. We played for nearly 5 1/2 hours by the light of various vehicles until 1 a.m., and a good time was had by all. I think it was most likely the best team bonding we have had in weeks.

Michael and I went to town with Hannah and Obed today, and we spent all afternoon thrift shopping and eating at a local diner. I appreciate all three of them a great deal. I'm super excited to get to know them more over the rest of the summer, as well as in the future.

Prayer requests? We just finished a huge week of camp, which is being followed quite quickly by a smaller week directed by my good friend Danielle. Please keep her and the entire staff in your prayers this week, especially for our health and motivation. The temptation after a huge week is to slow down and live in the mentality that we don't have to give as much since there are fewer campers to invest in. Please pray that we will not stop giving 100% to these kids who may not see Jesus anywhere else this summer.

The song for the week is "Believe in Something" by SONS...to be perfectly honest, I don't have a super strong reason for picking it beyond the fact that I love SONS and I wish that they hadn't gone on hiatus. Also, their lyrics mean more than most do to me.

God loves me, and God's love is enough.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Remember when...

Nostalgia can be both wonderful and disgusting. 

I cycled through all of my Facebook profile pictures tonight (I would not recommend this practice), and I had to stop several times and reflect on how much my siblings, friends, and I have all changed. There were a couple of pictures that made me gasp in pain for a moment...images of times in my life that I often bury deep in the back of my head in hopes of easing the ache of a memory. Other pictures made me smile and the old familiar happy ache would creep into my throat as I thought about the day the picture was taken and about how much I miss those times.

Then I play a game with myself. Subconsciously, I ask myself questions over and over.

Hey buddy. 

Remember when you were a little college freshman with wide eyes and uncharacteristically short, cute hair? 

Remember when you thought your heart would split in half and you depended on the steadfast group of breakfast friends and many late nights on another friend's futon to get through the wrenching pain? 

Remember when you first sat in the cafeteria at a date table across from your (soon to be) future roommate and told her that you had Tourette's...and you weren't afraid?

Remember when you rode in a car to Middle of Nowhere, Wyoming with two complete strangers who were several years older than you...to work at a summer camp?

Remember when you found healing in that safe Haven...and learned how to be a friend?

Remember when you moved into Room 308 with Brianne under the sign "Broken and Beautiful" and began to build relationships with a wing of beautiful people who restored your love for Northwestern?

Remember the Moses and Aaron conversation that went from being a set of nicknames for roommates to a promise of accountability?

Remember when you met Julia VanDyk?

Remember when you started hanging out with five beautiful people nearly every free waking hour...and played games in a tiny bakery after midnight?

Remember when you realized that you were safe to openly talk about your Tourette's with those five people?

Remember when your RA decided to "be spontaneous" by creating a March Madness competition...and then nearly 20 people began doing the chicken dance in public places and singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star in the cafeteria?

Remember when your plans to be a writer changed and you knew you needed to edit films?

Remember when you watched your brother move an audience to tears in a One Act play?

Remember when you first decided to make a short film...and then it turned into plans for six?

Remember when you agreed to room with Julia?

Remember when your heart broke again...and you found comfort in that circle of safe people?

Remember when you crossed the Wyoming border once again, this time with your brother right behind you?

Remember when joy and pain began showing up in the form of new friends, stacks of dirty dishes, and improvised songs?

Remember how there is so much more waiting to happen tomorrow and beyond?

I do remember. 

The video of the post--"Counting Stars" by OneRepublic--is dedicated to my Julia VanDyk...in remembrance of every single Tuesday that this song played in the Hub at roughly 1:35 p.m.

God loves me, and God's love is enough.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Follow courageously.

Week Three of camp is beginning tomorrow. It's crazy to think that I have been here for five weeks now. I loved being here last year, but this year has been at least ten times better in half the time. I realize I say this all the time, but this staff is phenomenal.

One of my favorite parts of living here is going to church at North Hills every week. Without exception, each sermon I have heard in the two summers I have been here has applied to my life in a way that made me say, "Okay, I get it, God." The series throughout the summer is Finding Jesus in the Old Testament. This morning, the pastor talked about Joshua and God's instructions to "be strong and courageous." The main idea being conveyed in the message was that we need to remember that we are free in Christ and are called to follow Him no matter what...courageously.

Next year is going to be insanely busy with work, school, and the TENTS project. As the pastor spoke those words, I paused and remembered a conversation I had on the way to Denver last Saturday. I was telling Abby of my fears about managing time and getting things done in the fall, and I mentioned that I am nervous for where this film project might take us. She simply said, "You'd better give it to God, then."

It's really that simple. My anxieties about being able to balance everything will get me nowhere in the end. I'm terrible at remembering that. But if I were to simply follow, maybe things would seem a bit more doable.

With that in mind, I want to give you guys a little bit more information about TENTS.

What is TENTS, anyway? It's a student-initiated film project being organized, directed, and produced by Northwestern students with the purpose of helping people see those who feel invisible. There are six parts to this project, each to be filmed, edited, and produced on Northwestern's campus, then shown to the public on a schedule which will be revealed as the time grows nearer.

Currently, there are eight people on the production team. There are six theater majors, one graphic design major, and one writing major. We have one senior, four juniors, and three sophomores who have been planning this since April.

How can you pray? So many ways. But specifically, our six screenplays have been sent out to be read over once, and there is still so much to do before we actually start shooting the first film in August. We've all got jobs, commitments, and classes to keep up with throughout the school year while we plan and produce this project. No one is less busy than anyone else...but we all feel that these films are something that God is going to do amazing things with.

Most importantly, TENTS is a chance to help heal broken people. Each character in these films is going to tell the story of someone who feels invisible because of a hidden struggle that they live with. Why am I so passionate about that? If you don't know the answer, go read my posts on this blog from the past year and a half.

This is happening in less than two months, guys. I'm going to dive into film making in less than 50 days. Time to follow courageously.

Song of the post: "Instrument For You" by The Vespers. For obvious reasons.

God loves me, and God's love is enough.