Rest in You

Rest in You

Psalm 62:5-6

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

 

I am not good at slowing down. Even if my physical being isn’t focused on some task or chore, my mind is still going a million miles a minute, from one worry to the next. I have never been good at staying in the present moment. Even in moments that take my breath away, I can’t help but think about how it will end, and soon be just a memory.

Knowing- and not being entirely fond of- this trait of mine, I knew that my transition period before moving to Canada next month could go one of two ways. Either I would fall into the trap of being anxious about all the what-ifs in my future, or I could slow down with God and give this time to Him. I chose the second option. For the past month, I have surrendered every anxiety and hopeful expectation for the months to come to God, and instead turned my thoughts to every small, yet beautiful in-between moment He has given me.

In doing this, I have received so much more than a stronger focus on the present moment- though that is a miracle in itself. I have received so many reminders of God’s love, faithfulness, and sovereignty. I have begun to see His hand in every moment. My days have been filled with what I like to call His “everyday miracles”- awe-inspiring sunsets, slow mornings with coffee and immersed in His word, phone calls with far away friends, hikes in His incredible creation, seeing herds of elk and mule deer in my own backyard. By slowing down, I have been able to realize how much He shows me His love by filling my days with the things I love most. I have been able to take the time to reflect on all He has done to get me to this point, and how He has been using the disappointments of the past few years to set up something that is much more amazing than what I had been wishing for. Instead of moving on to my next chapter already worn out from worrying endlessly about what it may contain, I am moving on with a rested soul and a closer relationship with my Creator.

Worrying will never satisfy our soul, or solve any of our problems. The only way our souls will ever be satisfied is if we surrender to God, and rest in His perfect love for us. We can’t control what is going to happen, but we can control what we focus our thoughts on. By choosing to focus on God, we receive more than we could have ever hoped for. By surrendering to His plan, we let go of the what-ifs of this crazy life and receive endless every-day miracles.

I choose God.

 

“Matchless is Your love… Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you. This is where my hope lies. This is where my soul sighs. I will always find my rest in You.”

~All Sons and Daughters

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On Goals, Being Enough, and God’s Love

On Goals, Being Enough, and God’s Love

Life is full of parallels. I find myself falling into patterns, into being in a similar place in my walk with God time and time again. I don’t think this is unique to me. January is a perfect example- year after year, people long to better themselves, and take advantage of a new year to set resolutions, goals, and start fresh. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the act of focusing back in on who we can be again is enough, sometimes it isn’t.

I find myself falling into patterns. Time and time again, I begin to feel like I’m losing sight of God’s love, of the calling He has placed on my heart. I get too wrapped up in myself, in trying to do things on my own strength. I believe the lie that I will never be enough- kind enough, positive enough, outgoing enough, beautiful enough, funny enough… I could go on and on. I believe the lie that my life will never change, that I will be stuck in this feeling of dissatisfaction for the rest of my days. I start to focus on doing more, instead of being with God. I fall into the trap of believing that if I work hard enough, I will be enough.

This year I fell into this pattern even more than usual. Finally being out of school and into full-time camping ministry made me let my guard down. I thought life would get easier, being in a place and doing work that I love. In some ways it is, but the camp-high can’t last forever. In the transitions, I stopped focusing on God’s word and being still with Him. I began to doubt the work that I do, and lose sight of why I love it in the first place. When I began to not feel like enough, I turned to my own abilities instead of to God. In my longing to feel like a “better” person, I set numerous goals for myself in the New Year. Unsurprisingly, I have been frustrated to find out that accomplishing the goals doesn’t change my dissatisfaction… and failure to meet a goal increases my feelings of inadequacy.

It’s not that I’m in a bad place in my life. I have an incredible support system that spans several states, a life full of adventures and blessings, and am looking forward to moving to Canada and beginning my first long-term camp position at the end of March. However, no amount of worldly blessings will ever be enough if God is not at the center of our lives, and we are not looking to Him for our value.

Thankfully, God’s love pursues us. We can’t make ourselves be enough, but we will never have to. Our value lies in God’s unending, amazing love for us- a love so strong that He sent His Son to die for us. No amount of New Year’s resolutions are going to silence that voice in our hearts telling us we’re not enough. Only God’s love will do that. The true pattern is that God will always draw us back into His embrace, no matter how many times we lose sight of Him.

I am thankful for the ways God has drawn me back- music, friends, His word… Recently, I talked to a dear friend that I met at this time last year, when I was once again learning how to come back to God’s love for me. She reminded me of the parallels in my life- last year she added so much hope and joy to my life, and God used her to remind me of the dreams of ministry he has placed on my heart. This year, we re-inspired each other to chase those same dreams. Last year, she inspired me to begin this blog. This year, our conversation led me back to the words on this blog, words written on a journey to trusting more fully in my Creator, words that led to this post… exactly a year and a day after those first words were written.

My top goals this year are no longer to read two books a month, or meditate five times a week, or hike five miles a month. My top goal is to learn to be still in the presence of God, and trust in Him for my value and strength. This life will always be too much for me alone. I will never be enough on my own. But with God, I am already enough. My top goal is to surrender fully to His love, and trust His design for this incredibly beautiful life He has given me.

 

“Your love is like radiant diamonds, bursting inside us, we cannot contain. Your love will surely come find us, like blazing wildfires singing Your name. God of mercy, sweet love of mine, I have surrendered to Your design. May this offering stretch across the skies, and these hallelujahs be multiplied.”

~NeedtoBreathe

How Deep.

How Deep.

“How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure.”

These words have been resounding in my heart for the past two weeks. God’s love is amazing all the time, but there are some moments that you can’t ignore the ways He moves in your life to bring you to places and use you in ways that you never could have imagined. There are moments that you can have no doubt that you are exactly where God wants you to be, and that He is going to use your circumstances to do incredible things. These two weeks have been a never ending set of those moments.

I came to Colorado not really knowing what to expect beyond a position title: Program Assistant at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp. There was a lot of excitement in my 20 hour road trip, with an equal amount of nerves. These past two weeks have already been more than my little heart could ever have imagined.

I have met a roommate who is quickly becoming my best friend, and who is the perfect person for me to travel this nine month journey with. I have been welcomed with open arms into a loving and grace-filled staff. I have been able to launch into what a life in camping ministry will really be like. I have traveled to the top of Pike’s Peak, and eaten a lot of green chili. I have seen double-rainbows and beautiful mountain sunrises and shared fellowship with people who are more beautiful than all the sights combined.

All the while, I have been in awe that God had these incredible blessings in store for me. I am in awe that He manages, without fail, to bring me exactly what my soul needs, and how different it is from what I wished for every time. I am in awe of these amazing reminders of His vast and unchanging love.

I am only two weeks into a nine month journey, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store. I know that it will be filled with mountain peaks and valleys, both literally and figuratively. In both the peaks and the valleys, I will cling to the truth He has set on my heart: God’s love is vast beyond all measure, and every part of this journey will be used for His glory and be more awe-inspiring than my little heart will ever be able to dream.

 

God is Good

God is Good

I am feeling a lot of joy this week. After many long months of hard work, worry, and frustration, I have landed a post-graduation job and everything is falling into place. All of my worries and stress that ate away at me for months now seem insignificant. The doubt and late night desperate prayers now seem incredibly worth it, because everything is working out better than I could have dreamed if it would have gone the way I had planned. I know that I am incredibly blessed to have these opportunities ahead, and I want to shout from the mountaintops how GOOD God is.

However, for every bit of joy there is an equal amount of guilt. I spent the past months worrying more than praying, and I have caught myself directing my frustration at God more times than I care to admit. Sure, I want to shout how good He is now, but how good He is has not changed. The only thing that’s changed is my willingness to admit it, because I am now able to see the good that He had planned for me.

God is good all the time. His ways are higher than ours, and so are His thoughts. What He had planned for me is better than the idea in my head that I clung to, and always will be. While I am thankful for the path He has set me on, I am more grateful for the reminder of the ways that I need to grow in my faith- I need to give it all to God, and trust Him even when I can’t yet see how things will work out. I need to remember that God is unchanging, and his blessings and promises do not depend on our circumstances. Luckily for us, God is also forgiving, and I can give the guilt I am feeling to Him and move forward in my walk with Him.

I am looking forward to a lot- a new job come August, a summer with friends, continuing my journey in camping ministry- but what I am most looking forward to is God using all of these things to continue to shape me into the person He created me to be, just like He used these past months to help me to realize my need to trust Him more fully.

Last week I watched God’s Not Dead with a dear friend, and it contained the lesson that I am learning to live out- “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.”

 

Dreams to Keep Dreaming

Dreams to Keep Dreaming

“There are some dreams we have to eventually release, but there are also dreams to keep dreaming.” –Jamie Tworkowski

Life is beautifully weird. Most days, we go through life not giving much thought to God’s plan, or timing, or chance, or whatever you want to call it. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of busy schedules, homework, planning, and the mundane. I am guilty of this. I am guilty of getting too caught up in everything I “have” (want) to accomplish in a day and in rushing from one thing to the next. However, there are some days that force you to stop and marvel. Today was one of those days.

About two months ago, I watched a sermon online from Green Bay Community Church by guest speaker Jeremy Cowart. He spoke of dreams, and being able to do anything through God who strengthens us. I was so moved by his sermon that I felt called to act on one of my dreams: to start a camping ministry for teens and young adults suffering from depression, anxiety, and self-harm. In his book If You Feel Too Much, Jamie Tworkowski (the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms) talks about a concept he calls “Heart Camp.” After reading his book, I began to dream of my own kind of Heart Camp, a place where struggling people could come to find community and hope while experiencing the magic of camp, and maybe even the magic of TWLOHA and their events. Determined to act, I emailed the TWLOHA info account about my dream.

I didn’t expect anything to come of it, so I thought nothing of it when I never received a response and quickly forgot that I had sent the email. However, I did become more willing to share my dream with others. On New Year’s Day, after praying and asking God to gift me with fellowship in the New Year, I met a new friend who shared my love for TWLOHA. Our shared love for this organization was the basis of our friendship, but it quickly blossomed into something incredibly beautiful. Before I knew it, I had someone that shared my dream for Heart Camp and supported me completely.

Today is February 1, exactly one month after meeting my incredible new friend and getting to share my dream. This morning, without realizing the date, we both chose to wear TWLOHA shirts. It felt like a TWLOHA kind of day to me, and it was- because today I received a response to the email I had forgotten about sending.

Today was a beautiful day full of reminders of dreams, hope and love. It may seem like coincidences, but I see God’s fingerprints over all that happened today. No matter how far away I may be from opening a Heart Camp, it is a dream worth dreaming, and a dream worth sharing. I will not give up on this crazy, far-fetched vision. Today I am thankful for TWLOHA, God-given friendships, and the beautifully weird life He has blessed me with.

 

Hope, Heart, and Camp Susque

Hope, Heart, and Camp Susque

“Sometimes you have to travel far to find your heart.” – Jamie Tworkowski.

I am not bold. I am cautious. I take forever to make decisions, even about the smallest things. However, when it comes to camping ministry, the opposite has always been true. My journey to Camp Susque in Trout Run, Pennsylvania was no different.

My senior year of college got off to a rough start. I didn’t want to leave camp. I loved Crossways Camping Ministries, and the purpose I felt in my life when serving God at camp. Even though I only had one year of school left, I felt impatient and stuck returning to school. I had found my passion and my place in camping ministry, and I didn’t want to spend my time doing anything else. I was nervous about letting go of my close-knit community at camp and going back to the world of homework, grades, and stress. Almost entirely due to my bad attitude about going back to school, the transition ended up going even worse than I had expected. I felt lost, anxious, and even a little abandoned by God. I just wanted to serve Him; why did I have to waste time somewhere where that was so hard?

My discontent continued, and a Saturday night in early September found me grumpily praying about how badly I wanted things to change. Feeling worse than ever, I took to Google. “Winter camp internships” was my search of choice, but the results were disappointing. Not surprisingly, winter internships for summer camps are not common. Shocking, I know. However, on the 5th page of results, I found the website for Camp Susque. I had never heard of it, but I felt led to click on the link. As soon as I saw the picture of camp on the homepage, I fell in love. I spent the next hour looking at every part of their website, and eventually got to their employment and internship page. Feeling much more bold (or desperate?) than I actually am, I emailed the camp at 1 AM asking them if they had ever done a winter internship, and if they would be willing to do one with me.

I never thought anything would come of it, but by the end of the month it was confirmed that I would be spending my winter break in Pennsylvania interning at camp. I wish I could say that my semester immediately got better after that, but it didn’t. I struggled with my mental health more than I had since my freshman year, and had a lot of huge life changes happen in a very short amount of time. Camp Susque got put on the back burner as I struggled to just stay afloat to the end of the semester. I felt my old walls start to go up, and the negative thoughts begin to creep back in. I needed a reminder that all of this work and struggle was worth something, was for something. I needed hope.

God is so great. I am always amazed at how He uses difficult situations to strengthen, change, and form us, and how every trial is used for good. God heard my call for hope, and He provided in ways I never could have imagined. The first answer to my desperate prayer came at the end of September when my sister gifted me with a ticket to the Switchfoot and Relient K concert. Switchfoot’s music had always been one of my coping methods during difficult times, and had been an inspiration behind many of the best things in my life (like camp). The concert was more amazing than I could have imagined, and at the aftershow I had the opportunity to thank Jon Foreman for saving my life during the height of my depression my freshman year. A month later, I met Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms- ironically the day after he attended a Switchfoot concert! Since I began working at camp, I have had a dream of one day opening a camp for teens struggling with depression and anxiety, and meeting these incredible humans brought that dream into sharp focus again.

Clinging to these reminders that hope existed, I fought through to the end of the semester and before I knew it was boarding a bus for my 29 hour trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I was nervous, to say the least, and definitely not feeling strong enough to be the true me that I am when I’m at camp, the place where I most feel God’s presence. Without meaning to I had the mindset that I was going to get through the 25 days, would learn a few things for my resume, and would go back to school to endure until I could graduate and find a camp to spend the beginning of my career at.

I could not have been more wrong.

From the moment I stepped off the bus in Williamsport to the moment I boarded my bus home, my experience at Camp Susque was more than I ever could have dreamed or hoped for. Instead of getting through the days, I cherished every moment. While I did learn a lot of valuable things for my resume, I learned even more about myself and my identity in Christ. Most importantly, I met people that changed my heart and life, and that I loved dearly by the end of the 25 days. I hiked a mountain with some incredible high school campers. I rang in the New Year with fellow college students who love Jesus. I shared cotton candy, laughs, and tears with inspirational and strong middle school campers. I had dinners, explored frozen waterfalls and lakes, was introduced to a new favorite coffee shop, played board games, and shared more laughs and prayers than I can count. For 25 days, I soaked up the stories of these kind, passionate souls, and had the opportunity to share my story, be believed in, and be accepted flaws and all.

I found hope.

I found a home and a family that I never expected. I found my heart.

I don’t know what comes next. I don’t know where God will lead me, or what camp He will call me to. Despite all the uncertainty that lies ahead right now, there is so much that I am certain of. I am certain that God is for me, and I am never alone. I am certain that He will work all trials for my good. I am certain that He will continue to shape me through the people I meet and the places I go. I am certain that even if His path for me doesn’t lead back to Camp Susque, I have a band of people there that I love, can visit, pray for, and learn from.

I am certain of hope, and that sometimes you have to travel far to find your heart… 29 hours on a Greyhound bus, to be exact.