Lessons from Camp (Week One)

I just spent five days and four nights with seven children between the ages of two and eight (and head back Monday for round two!) during our church’s high school camp (we watch the leaders’ children) and amidst the chaos, God showed me a lot.

1.) Quiet time is essential. Which can become quite difficult when there are seven children running around from seven a.m. until nine p.m.. By the time Genelle, Chloe, and I got the kids to bed, comprehending anything was practically impossible. We were giggly and confused and couldn’t get to bed fast enough. Anyway, the first three days I actually managed to have quiet time twice a day whereas the last two I was lucky to get in one session (the kids were getting quite tired and grumpy). Looking back, the difference I can see in myself on those days when I spent a lot of time with God and the days when I didn’t is pretty astounding. The first few days it seemed I had an abundance of patience, gentleness, kindness. As the week went on and I didn’t spend as much time with God, I became less patient, less gentle, and less kind. I had been telling the kids they needed to stop being so grumpy when I myself was just as grumpy. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.

2.) If you’re working with children, you have to look at thing’s from a child’s perspective. Children do not see things the way we do. We may not think that spilling a box of crayons is a big deal, but to a three year old, it can seem devastating.

3.) Encouraging and rewarding good behavior goes a long way. “Can you clean up your mess? You’re such a big boy! You did a great job, thank you so much for cleaning up!” goes a lot further than “Seriously? You need to clean that up right now!” Children are fragile and gentle and their self-esteem and self-worth are easily damaged, our words can impact them for the better or the worse.

I’m sure there are other things I wanted to say, but I’m exhausted and I have to go teach my fiance how to do laundry. Talk to you later people! And please be praying for us as we get to love on these wonderful children for another week, and for their parents as they love on the middle schoolers, and for the teens. God will do big things.

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Photo Credit: Jose Ibarra

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Being Still When Life is Anything But

As a full time student, I can say without a doubt that life can be absolutely hectic sometimes.  Between homework, papers, tests, trying to comprehend what the heck that concept means, babysitting, spending time with family and friends, and all the other things that is asking for my attention, it’s hard to feel like I have any peace or any time to just breathe.

This past weekend, Genelle and I babysat overnight. Sunday morning, after making breakfast and cleaning the kitchen, I sat down to read my Bible and to journal.  The kids were actually being decently quiet for the most part – which I appreciated – and I decided that after I read in Matthew to go ahead and read a Psalm as well.  After reading it, I knew God had me read extra that morning for a reason.

Psalm 46 begins with saying, “God is our shelter and our strength. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide? No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails.  When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless. When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless. Even in heavy winds and huge waves, or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless.” (verses 1-3).

As I read that, I thought of all the times recently that I’ve just been so stressed out that I felt like I was losing my mind.  School has been overwhelming, I babysat 5 out of 7 days last week, and I just felt like I had no time to just recharge.  Then I asked myself how many times during these past weeks when I felt overwhelmed have I ran to God? The answer is not very often.  When I’ve been overwhelmed or upset, I’ve just wallowed in my feelings rather than taking them to God. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries.”  God doesn’t expect or want us to feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Philippians 4: 6-7 says, “Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray.  Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.”

I know these Scriptures, I know them well, but I haven’t let them resonate in my soul, they’ve stayed in my head, and that’s the problem.  The Word of God does us no good if we don’t let it pierce our souls and change us.

Back to Psalm 46 and another verse of Scripture that I know well.  Verse 10 says, “Be still, be calm, see, and understand that I am the True God.  I am honored among all the nations. I am honored over all the earth.”   When we really heed what this verse is saying, it is powerful.  When we think about the majesty of God, of all that He has done and all that He is, our problems seem smaller.  Not only that, if you are acknowledging who God is, you’re acknowledging the fact that He does not want you to do life on your own. The verse says to be still, not fret, worry, or try to do it on your own.  Acknowledge who God is, His mighty power and His mighty love for you, and be still.

No matter how busy the life of a college student – or anybody for that matter – can get, God is there, waiting for us to come to Him, and be still.

Photo Credit: Jenu Prasad

The Series of Hilariously Painful Unfortunate Events

5:30 came Monday morning just like it does every other Monday morning.  I reset my alarm for 5:45 just like I do nearly every other Monday morning.  I started to get ready just like I do every Monday morning – and that’s when things started to go bad.  I was putting on my pants as per normal and then there was this terrible pain in my hand that was not so normal.  Some how I managed to pull some muscle or sprain something in my hand by putting. on. pants.  It hurt.  Really badly.  Luckily, it wasn’t so bad that I felt the need to get it checked out – can you imagine that conversation? “What are you in for today?” “Well, I think I sprained my hand.”  “How did it happen?”  “I was putting on my pants.” Seriously, some things can seriously only happen to me.

So my day – painfully – continued and I got to church to help watch the youth leaders’ kids as I do every Monday.  I hadn’t been in the door for 30 seconds before the next Event.  One of our friends went to give us a hug and I thought he was going to hug Genelle first but apparently he was going to hug both of us.  Seeing as I thought he was hugging her first, I stayed back.  Once I realized that he was expecting to hug me too I went to hug him – about a second too late.  He went to close the hug and proceeded to hit me in the face.

Later on that night I’m sitting with one of the babies in my lap (do you know how hard it is to care for a child with very limited use of your dominant hand?).  She then decided she wanted to cuddle.  Violently.  With her head.  And my cheek bone.  Yeah, that one hurt a lot, too.

I got home that night and told my mom about my day (the pants Event amused her greatly) and she laughed and said, “I think you just need to go to bed,” and then proceeded to laugh at me for the rest of the night (granted, I was laughing at me, too).

After 19 years on this lovely planet I’ve learned a thing or two, one of which being that besides being a seriously clumsy person, I also attract ridiculous, painful situations like a moth to a flame.  I’ve also learned to accept these things, I mean, what else can you do? I laugh at myself, I enjoy life.  Even if I have to enjoy life with a pants-induced injury.  Until next time, lovelies.

Photo Credit: Lee Campbell