This is a phrase I have heard said over and over before, but I never truly understood what it meant. People say things like, “Live in the moment! All that matters is right now! Forget all of your worries that are not in the present! Be!”
But what does that REALLY mean?
I think that’s part of what God’s been teaching me this summer.
We live our entire lives thinking about what comes next. What will I eat for dinner? What am I going to do on Saturday with my friend? When am I going to meet the person I spend the rest of my life with?
It is so difficult to be present. To be where your hands are. To be still.
Here are three truths:
- There is real pain in life.
- There is real God in pain.
- There is real life in God.
I’ve been discovering the difference between indulging in the depth of emotion and being present in it. It is good to have joy, but when the joy we find in Jesus is overwhelmed by darkness, that is when we must stand. We are called to flavor a world of bitterness. To be the salt and to be the light. If you have to go one mile for someone, go two. If you have to give up what you wanted, give it up. Jesus is the example to us to GIVE in large volumes.
Positivity is my nature. It is my first response. However, there are times where I need to sit in sadness with someone — to be present in their emotion. God has truly been showing me what the depth of friendship is through being still. Through being there. Through feeling what is unnatural to me, through meeting someone where they’re at, through accepting that what I need is not what everybody else needs.
There is a beauty found in understanding. I came into this experience wanting to be fully known & fully loved — but the truth is, how could I be fully known by anyone but God? He knows who I am. He knows who these girls I’m living with are. He knows who these kids I’m ministering to are. And we will all forever be learning more & loving more. There is a sense of contentment that I have to learn to accept at the current moment.
God is here. He is present with me in this current moment. And He is continuously furthering my understanding of His truth. But first, I have to be present.
Myti Oaks Day Camp //
Honestly, this camp has been INCREDIBLE so far. Here’s a picture of my awesome co-counselors.
I have been feeling so blessed to be working with the 4th-6th graders this camp with my co-counselor, Chuck. I had a lot of time in my break to plan our bible studies, and Chuck always comes up with great activities to go along with them. Our campers have been so attentive and caring and respectful, and speaking truth into their lives has spoken so much into me. They are showing me Jesus as much as I’m showing them Jesus.
We’ve also had some really fun activities planned. At one point, we did a game where we put shaving cream on shower caps and threw cheese puffs at each other, trying to get as many cheese puffs in someone else’s cap. The amount of fun I can have with these kids is uncanny.
Outside of bible study, I have been helping to lead music and choreography for the musical. Our musical this session is “All About The Call” and doubles in talking about the use of technology and God’s calling for our life. In our bible study this week, we have had great discussions on the ways that we can use technology for the kingdom, learn to listen better to God & others, and find our calling by trusting Him.
I can’t believe that we only have one more week with these campers, but I am feeling so blessed to be a part of this ministry. I love these kids so deeply and I am SO proud of how they’ve grown in just a week. My heart is so full.
Learning about Calling //
This week we wrapped up our discussions on the four-course Bible outlook: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. During creation week, we created art pieces together. During the fall week, we took those art pieces & threw them in the fire to feel what God feels when His creation gives into sin and brokenness. During redemption week , our leaders gathered the ashes from the fire and poured us flower pots with the ashes embedded inside of the clay. And for restoration week, we got to paint our pots at the local pottery shop.
I decided to paint a skyline of Columbus, with every form of art that I’ve encountered this summer painted underneath it. Not only was it reflective and sentimental, but I’m really excited to see how it turns out. To see beauty come out of the ashes.
This week we talked about calling.
What does it mean to reflect God’s image in goodness, truth & beauty? So many of us hide the gifts that God has given us — we convince ourselves that we are not good enough to bring glory to the Lord, or let others shame us for not being the image of the world.
But here’s the thing: whatever we make with our gifts was not even ours to begin with. We should ALWAYS be giving back to the kingdom of God. God has given us talents. The Christian’s goal should be to unlock the potential of our calling and to bring glory to God through it.
So here are some questions to begin unlocking:
What do you love? What are you good at? What are you bad at? What does the world need? What are the open doors in your life? What is God blessing? What are you truly passionate about?
I don’t think that anyone ever completely unlocks their calling as if they’ve found the long-lost passcode to a fireproof safe. I believe that we are constantly discovering new ways to use our gifts & new ways to bring glory to God. Each day I’m discovering a new reason that I am on this Earth serving the Lord. And it gets more exciting every day.
Columbus & Community //
We’re the kind of house that will pick up everything at 10:30 at night and go get ice cream. And say things like “take a picture of me with my head as the ice cream”.
Destiny & I went on a little adventure after camp one day this week. She loves literature, so we visited the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which is a beautiful place. Then we went to the Topiary Park and a coffee shop. It was a really great time & we got to know each other a lot more.
An oil painter also came in and did a painting workshop with us! This was my first time working with oil paints, and it was much more difficult than I expected it to be. But it challenged me, and I ended up loving the end product. It took us about four hours to finish our paintings. Mine’s been drying for five days now and is still wet.
Friday night was a chill night for us. We were tired from our week of camp, so we stayed home for the night. We ended up playing soccer and slacklining outside for hours. Then, a few friends joined us for a game night at the house.
Just look at Destiny’s excitement from walking on the slackfline for the first time.
On Saturday we slept in until 11:30am and it was amazing. We went to paint our pots and to lunch at a beautiful little restaurant in Grandview. This picture was taken sitting in front of a door on the ground. #artsy.
Janell loves agriculture, and there is a field of concrete corn in Dublin that she has been wanting to go to for weeks, so we paid it a visit. It was the strangest but most wonderful place ever, and we visited right around sunset so the field looked beautiful. They told me I couldn’t climb on top of the corn, so I tried anyway.
But seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Janell feel so at home.
We visited a waterfall that was right down the road from the field, and it was beautiful! It was getting dark so we couldn’t stay long, but it was definitely worth the trip. And I got to walk on top of it.
This Sunday was our last Sunday; the first day of the week of lasts. I sang for the final time this summer with Hillcrest Baptist Church, but they told me I can visit anytime.
We got a picture with Pastor Tim, who has been an incredible mentor & friend to us on this experience. The worship team is photobombing in the back.
After church, Destiny & I went to Katalina’s, a beautiful little breakfast place, and talked for a while before I went hiking with my family.
Going into this next week, I feel that the best word to describe the feeling in the house is bittersweet. We love each other a lot and we are trying to make the most of our last moments, reflecting on our experience, and ending with a bang.
Here’s a really funny picture of Meagan and I.
We took this picture through a wine glass above our little kitchen plant garden. It was one of those moments where you decide to do something really dumb & crazy and it becomes so significant in your memories.
In this moment, Meagan was being present in joy with me. You can see it on our faces.
Here’s another funny picture.
Here in the Encounter Columbus household, we love pictures. That means when Meagan takes a group photo of us, she looks like this. And it’s beautiful because she’s loving in a giving way.
She didn’t even complain about having to take one picture with four different cameras in this moment. She just laughed and did it.
This week we talked about what the word abide means.
Honestly, I’ve really been trying to think of others before myself. And I will be the first to admit that it’s hard. A lot of us don’t like to admit that we have selfish thoughts, but the reality is, we’re human. Without being checked, we will center our lives on ourselves. I am a work in progress; I am not perfect. But because I’ve chosen to dwell with Christ, He has pointed me towards the most beautiful, giving way of living.
I want to abide. In love. Joy. Peace. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control. While I’m here and after I leave. In this house and every house afterward. Through these relationships and each one to come.
We give our worries and doubts and emotions CONTROL over us. They creep into the depths of our soul and whisper that we are unequipped to handle what life throws at us. They convince us that we are never enough, that Jesus isn’t enough.
When I let myself get anxious about my lack of control, it causes me to doubt the truth that I know. The Lord is good and I so desperately want to share the way he loves with others. But it starts with contentment and being where I am.
I want to love as Jesus did and abide. That means admitting that the plans I have for myself are not necessarily God’s, putting my expectations away, and using everything He’s given me to point back to Him. Living in a giving, selfless, joyful, overwhelming way.
Love is retaking 27 pictures through a wine glass just to get it right.
Love is laughing at the fact that you’re holding four cameras for one picture, but knowing that each one will capture the moment differently.
Love is an action.