wow. 2 months exactly since my last post. boy, has my life been through the fire, been on top of the world, been heavy with sorrow, been bursting with joy. needless to say, much has happened in the span of 60 days. and it’s a little hard to know where to start.

camp is officially over. and an onslaught of bittersweet emotions took over– my closest friends dispersing into different states. leaving one of the most beautiful vistas of the blue ridge mountains. being able to sleep in. coming home. moving away from a place where the heartbeat is Jesus Christ. seeing my parents. seeing alex. seeing my friends that i left in knoxville on may 15. not having to cook for 300+ people. not having a lake in my backyard. see, bittersweet.

as i am writing this, i am thumbing through the pages of my “little black book” for the summer. aka my journal- which just so happens to be little and black. when asked what i learned from this summer, my instant reply is: patience. but that is not the only thing that is on my radar to be put in to practice now home. right now i want to delve into the different circumstances that caused me learn patience. that caused me to learn what it really means to be third. that caused me to learn how Jesus really lived his life. get ready for some transparency. here goes:

june 14: today was by far the hardest day in the kitchen. i left twice crying. which is utterly embarrassing… but it’s true. i can’t even put into words how much frustration i was facing today. i dread going into the kitchen. i just feel like all of my joy has been robbed from me. God please change my heart.

that is how it begins. and that was my prayer daily. kitchen work surprised me on just how much work is involved in order to mass produce meals for nearly 400 people. the middle of june was probably my low for the summer. i felt very confined, very in the shadows. frustration hit me from every corner… because i let it happen. my own pride got in the way for a lot of the summer. i wanted some sort of recognition or applause for all of the dirty, behind the scenes work that myself and the other 2 kitchen crew members did on a rigorous daily basis. this led to more negative attitudes than i’d like to admit. like i said in my journal entry: i felt robbed of all my joy. i found discouragement when i would look out the windows of the dining hall and see counselors with their campers playing in the lake all afternoon. i often felt useless during the times i could go to cabins at night. all in all, i felt pretty meaningless. God please change my heart.

june 17: right now, i’m sitting on a little dock with my feet in the water, yet all i’m soaking in is God’s beauty. I see the blue ridge mountains, trees that are full of life, all kinds of song birds, and God’s children running around like they own the place. i love every bit of it. God please give me a pure heart and a steadfast spirit. i have neither. but long for both.

as you can see by the dates, the Lord works in little ways. he knew that i had been stripped of joy, and he renewed the joy with himself. which is how it should be. i was seeking the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

june 25: the enemy loves attacking my fragile spirit. God, i need your help more than anything. i feel like the enemy will be ever present in the weeks to come. but Lord, i know you’re faithful. you’re stronger than he ever will be. please fight for me. i know i can’t do this alone. on my own, i would just quit. let me be used by you.

i’m finding it difficult to add to this prayer, this plea. i must have been reading psalm 60:11 that day, “give us aid against the enemy.” satan attacks our soft spots, and he knows exactly how to bring us down with ease. i knew that i couldn’t wage war with him alone; i sought the Most High to fight on my behalf. especially since i was already feeling defeated.

june 28: i feel as if joy is squeezing its way into my week mercilessly. i can feel prayers being sent my way. how awesome is God. he is a masterpiece-maker, and he’s in the process of perfecting his image of me. God provides for his children like no one else can. he blesses those who love him abundantly. God is interceding on my behalf, and i could not be more thankful.

i distinctly remember this time in my life. the two weeks leading up to this point were extremely difficult for me. but throughout all of that, i was able to recognize the Lord’s blessings. he cares for those who love him. he will never abandon them. that is something that i’ve always heard, but this summer, it actually meant something. God was working in my life even though i felt like quitting; i recognize this now. i saw God’s provision in many ways this summer. blessings of hope and joy were what i took to bed with me that night, and i clung to the Lord’s will for me to be working in the kitchen despite my selfish wishes. this is when i began to understand that i am not working to gain approval and applause from everyone at camp. i only want, i only need applause from the Lord. then i was plagued with thoughts of: am i worthy of His applause? he knows my heart. and i am absolutely not worthy. yet he loves me the same. our God is so good.

july 21: God, reveal to me a piece of your love. a love so astounding that i can’t fully understand it. God, thank you for never leaving me. you know when i am in distress, and you hear my call. thank you. thank you. thank you. i’m so ready to go home right now, but i am thankful for God for placing me exactly where he wants me. and that place is here at camp.

accepting my position at camp during the month of july changed my attitude entirely. i recognized what real servanthood was. serving with your whole heart and now to entertain others or seek their approval. i learned to be patient in circumstances that i would normally not be patient about; i learned to be patient with others. i also learned thankfulness. we should be thanking the Lord always. he has blessed with so much!

throughout the summer, God was at work. in campers’ lives, in counselor’s lives, in full time staff’s lives, in my life. all summer long, i had the privilege of helping out in a cabin during the times that i didn’t have other obligations… aka at night because otherwise i would be caught with a chef hat and an apron on! everyone on op-staff (ie: nurses, kitchen staff, program staff, etc.) chose a counselor to assist for the rest of the summer. i happened to choose my dear, dear friend missy smith. she impacted my summer immensely. the Lord is truly using her story for his glory. she is someone who is willing to follow the Lord no matter what the circumstances. she is someone that i cherish and someone that i am ever so thankful for. spending time with her cabin each week was a highlight always. on wednesday nights, i was able to lead devos which was always an exciting time for me. that was my chance to share my testimony with the girls and have real talk about what they deal with back at home. missy told me that lots of walls were always broken down during this time, and i am just giddy that they were! to think that God would use someone like me to work in his children’s lives. that’s just awesome. plain and simple.

and now it is all simply a memory. campers are gone. counselors and op-staff are back home. i love visiting those memories… and revisit them more often than i probably should. so many silly times and so many serious times. this summer was an  extremely hard summer for me, but it was also an extremely fun summer as well: climbing on real rocks, creating some of the best friendships i will ever have, spending hours at the lake on saturdays, playing in mud puddles during work hours, pouring ice cold water on the camp director, painting, laughing with missy for long amounts of time, singing in the kitchen like a fool, doing german band at skitsophrenia (you’d have to be there…), attacking chris with cake batter; i could probably go on and on. my closing remarks are this: God is at work even when he seems distant. he will never abandon his children, and he brings us to difficult circumstances to make us more like him and to draw other to him. give thanks to him always. he will never fail us.