Sunday, June 28, 2015

Solid Rock '15: The Captains Log

   I came back from camp yesterday. To say it was amazing would be an understatement. It was my last year being able to go as a camper so it was extra emotional for me. Sorry if this is a long one, I just have a lot to say. Now, where do I start?

   Well, I guess we could start off with this: I was a team captain. At camp, being a captain is a big honor. The captains are hand picked by a committee of leaders beforehand. There are 4 teams, each with a boy and girl captain. They each get a captain band to where on their arm/leg in their team color. I was on the yellow team. I was surprised when I was chosen for this role. For one, two of my friends kept joking about me being picked, and I told them to stop because in no way did I really want to. See, as team captain, you're expected to encourage your team, participate, be super outgoing and athletic, and to start cheers and rally your team. I am good at none of those things. Plus, I never really thought anyone knew me at camp; I kinda flew under the radar. So when we were playing circle games and someone told me they were calling my name to come to the center, I didn't believe them. Because I assumed no one at camp even knew my name. Sure enough, me and 3 others were being summoned to the middle. Our director proceeded to announce "Meet your captains, blue and yellow team!"

   Plot twist.

   My friend, Jake, who happened to be helping with activities, had a hand in picking me as captain. Jake, knows full well I never wanted to be captain, because last year he teased me relentlessly about "What if you get picked?" And my response was always "" So I shook my head at him and gave him my best glare.

   That was the start of the week.

   I felt so inadequate. I wasn't outgoing, I wasn't good at cheering on my team, I wasn't good at helping people with verses, I wasn't athletic; I wasn't good enough. I felt like the worst team captain all week. Yet all the same, my pride was starting to act up. So I asked God to keep my humble. I didn't want to get all puffed up because of my position, but I definitely started to feel it. It's funny how you can feel so inferior and prideful at the same time.

   So there was that. And then there was this girl. My friend had said there was someone she wanted me to meet, her name was Isabella. I went into camp thinking I was going to minister to her, but it turned out the opposite. The first thing she said to me was "I hate people." I responded with "Same." And after that I think we just clicked. She told me later that she expected to hate me; but God had other plans. 

   Isabella is tiny but mighty. She's got an attitude and really, has no filter. She's not afraid to be brutally honest. She's also tough as nails. But the thing that hit me about her is the way she worshipped. I don't think anything up at camp impacted me as much as watching her during worship time. The first time I remember being blown away by it was when a song came on that I didn't know. I don't think anyone at camp knew it; but Isabella and her 3 brothers did. I wish you could have seen the way their faces lit up; and when the chorus came on, they leaned over and started clapping in unison. As they clapped, they straightened up and threw their hands up in the air. Their smiles were priceless. It was just the 4 of them clapping and raising their hands, and they didn't care and they didn't stop. I had never seen siblings worship that way before. This was the way she worshipped every day. She always gave it her all. She just got saved a few months ago, and apparently that song was played on the day that happened, and it was her favorite. 
   Getting to know Isabella was one of the best things to happen that week. She inspired me with her love for God and her courage. There were so many times she left me speechless and in awe. And aside from the fact that I admire her relationship with God so much, she's also hilarious. We made way too many jokes and laughed way too much. Her and I made stupid facial expressions at each other and obnoxious noises. We had fun. One of the band members actually came up to us and asked us if we were ever apart; we shook our heads. I bet he had no idea we had just met on Sunday.

   Another girl who impacted me was Amanda. (Hi, Amanda!) She made me cry on the first night of camp by praying for me and saying exactly what I needed to hear. She listened to me rant and cry for an hour during free time, and also prayed with me again at the camp fire. Honestly, she's just one of my favorite people ever. She always knows what to say and her hugs are the best. 

   It was a really great week. We played in a mud pit, had dance parties, had a small group with the morning speaker because my cabin had so many great questions, my team won 3rd place in volleyball, and had a great banquet on the last night. I learned a lot too. I wish I could go into detail about every little thing, and I'm sorry this post is such a mess, my brain isn't working and I'm still catching up on sleep. But the biggest thing I learned came from being a captain. And I spoke about this at the camp fire on the last night. So the speakers were talking about letting go of things, and it was really powerful. We all got this piece of fools gold, which was supposed to represent like, sin or something that was keeping us from God; we were all called to go up and drop it in a box to symbolize giving it to God. Then we would take a white stone, after the verse in Revelation. Well, I got really frustrated because I couldn't for the life of me figure out what my stupid piece of fools gold was supposed to represent. In fact, I was sort of aggravated all week that I couldn't really relate to the messages. I mean, yeah I did in a way, but not like, huge ways. If that makes sense. By the end of the week I was pretty upset because I felt like I hadn't learned anything. But when I thought about it, I actually had. Not from the speakers, but from being a captain and from the people around me.

 Like I had mentioned before, I struggled a lot with feeling like a sucky captain. I was mad at myself for it. I had always thought that if the time came, I would rise to the occasion and that somehow I would magically be outgoing and obtain these awesome leadership skills. Needless to say, that didn't happen. All week I was stuck comparing myself to every other captain and, heck, I even compared myself to other campers. I would think of all the other people who were more suited to fill my position instead. I hated myself for not being able to keep up because I am still sick, and becoming captain didn't take away my lupus. Even though I was the only captain fighting a chronic illness, I still expected my body to keep up with the others. 

   But here's the thing: God knew all that. God knew I was sick and shy and that I saw myself as inadequate. But He saw so much more in me than I saw in myself. He knew I had flaws and He called me despite them. Was being a captain really a big deal? No. But it taught me a huge lesson that could be applied to all areas of my life. I realized that sometimes God calls us to do huge, scary things; and we feel ill equipped for them. But God doesn't make mistakes. Sure, we by ourselves are weak, but with Him, we are strong. On the last day, Jake came over to me and said "I told you I made you captain for a reason." And that did it for me. That kid always has a way of teaching me the most profound truths about God. I could almost hear God saying it to me. "I picked you for a reason."

   So camp was amazing. But coming home was hard as heck and honestly, I've been having a really hard time with it. There are a lot of reasons for that, and I wish I could explain. I just feel like I'm suffocating. I miss it so much, but it goes deeper than that and I don't expect anyone to understand. I know it'll pass, or maybe it won't. I don't know really. Just be praying for me. I spent church this morning sitting outside on a bench reading my bible and praying and crying, and everything makes me sick emotionally and I tried to worship but it's so lonely when it's just me in my bedroom and I hate that triggers are everywhere and I wish I didn't hate everything. 

   I wish this didn't end on such a sad note. I'm pretty sure this happened last year too, but it wasn't as bad. Seriously though, camp was incredible and I made so many great friends and was impacted so much. I love realizing how much I've grown since last year and thinking about how much God has brought me through. If you're ever feeling stuck, just look back on all the great things God has done for you. It's remarkable. 

   And to add one more happy thing to end it; I GOT A DSLR! I'm the proud owner of a Canon Rebel T3i. I think I have fallen in love. Brace yourself for all of the pictures.


Enjoy the above video of us playing in the mud pit. I'm in there somewhere. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

15 Reasons Why Dayle Is Cooler Than You

   Today is my sister's birthday. And because she turns fifteen today, I had to write up a super embarrassing post to share with the Internet. But all joking aside, Dayle is one of my favorite people of all time. She gets me more than anyone I know and all the crap I've lived through, she did as well. Basically, she's me, but without all the character flaws. There are a lot of reasons why I love my sister, so I decided to make a list of all the things that make her great. So here we go.

   1. She's the emo queen
This screenshot explains it all.

   2. When I went in to have my kidney biopsy, she posted this gem on Facebook. 
And when I came home I saw that she had filled my room with post it notes telling to make sure I rest, because she knows I have a habit of overdoing myself. And she really did make sure I stayed in bed.

3. She's always got my back
She sent me the text below one time. But also on probably the worst day of my life, I was having a super bad night and I got a message from a friend who was also having  sucky night, and I was trying to message her back to help her, but Dayle took my IPod and refused to give it back to me. She said "There are times you need to be there for other people, but sometimes you gotta be there for you." And she was right.

4. She's the George Weasley to my Fred
We had a pretty great Halloween costume last year, am I right?

5. She's the prank master
One time she printed out a box full of pictures of Nicholas Cage and taped them onto random things throughout my house. It took several weeks to find them all. She stuck some on family pictures, on our milk container, and in the roll of toilet paper. This wasn't for April Fools or anything. She was just bored.

6. I have to constantly remind myself we're not twins
She's actually almost 4 years younger than me. But she's so mature and acts more like my age than hers. We also look just like twins, and she's taller than me now. 

7. She's hot as frick and she knows it
But seriously. She's super confident. Sometimes I can't tell if I love how self confident she is or hate her for being so conceited. She's my WCE.
8. She keeps me humble by periodically insulting me and reminding me of how pathetic I am.
You think I'm joking?

9. She didn't let me shave my head alone.
And she didn't let me do NaNoWriMo alone either. Basically, I can't ever do anything by myself and I say I hate it but I don't.

10. She runs an awesome blog for movie reviews.
You can check that out and follow at THIS LINK.
And, under the same category, she is really enthusiastic about movies and it's so cute.

11. She does all sorts of weird crap for me for the sake of art.
Like one time I dressed her in an oversized tshirt and knee high socks, threw her in a bathtub, and told her to hold a cigarette like she was smoking. 

12. She's basically straight out of a tumblr text post.
Example: I was with her in the kitchen and she was eating a brownie cookie. I left the room to grab my IPod and I come back in and she's on her knees with the cookie raised in the air, Lion King Style, and she's talking to God saying "Thank you, Lord, for this cookie!" 

13. She's the sweetest.
Because on Valentine's Day a couple years ago, I had been having a really hard time, and she surprised me by waking me up to breakfast in bed, she had bought a collection of my favorite John Hughes films, and took me to the mall for Starbucks. She thought of this all months in advance when a guy had made me cry. 

14. She got me into my favorite band.
yep. Dayle introduced my to twenty one pilots. so really, I basically owe her my life. And she doesn't kill me for liking them. I'm pretty grateful for that. She also gets me into other awesome bands and music and TV and books. 

And lastly,

15. She is a precious cinnamon roll; too good for this world; too pure.

Happy birthday fam. Thank you for always putting up with my shenanigans and always inspiring me to do the right thing and to be better. You really do understand me better than anyone, and on days when I can't stand people and want to punch every single person in the face, you're always the exception. 
I want to be you when I grow up. You love so fearlessly and unconditionally and it may feel like a weakness, but it's your greatest strength. Never lose that. 
I could have easily named way more than 15 things I love about you, but like, you're only turning 15 so you can unlock 16 reasons next year. (*Video game voice* I'm sorry, you must level up to unlock this feature.)
Also, in all honesty, you're a much better writer than I am; keep writing! Seriously. If you give it up I might have to kill you. You've got good stuff to say and great ideas; just keep writing. 
This year is gonna be sick as frick for you, I just know it. 
Thanks for being my best friend.
Stay rad, mate.

(I couldn't resist.)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Do Not Be Conformed

   Once upon a time, 8 year old me was at my favorite Christian book store to see a small acoustic set some artist was doing. (This artist was Joy Williams, who would later form the Civil Wars and go on to sing with Taylor Swift in the Hunger Games soundtrack, as well as with Hayley Williams. I'm so proud. But that's irrelevant.) I had a great time of course, and after the show my dad bought me a Christian magazine with Joy on it so I could have it signed. I loved that magazine and I read it up and down almost every day. But the first time I read it, a certain picture caught my eye. It was of another artist, by the same of Krystal Meyers. 8 year old me just stared at her picture. She was frowning and just seemed so...sad. Beneath it, there was an article explaining how at 18 young Krystal Meyers had gone to camp and read the verse, Romans 12:2 and then afterwards, went on to write her hit song "Anticonformity."

   I had never read that verse nor heard the song, but once I read that article I knew I had to do both. So I did; and immediately I had a new favorite song and bible verse. I had my mom explain to me what they meant, but still, I was young and couldn't fully grasp what it was I was saying. But ever since then, Romans 12:2 has been my favorite.

   If you don't know it, it says this. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is; which is good, acceptable, and perfect."

   I bring this up because Romans 12 is actually one of my favorite chapters ever, and that second verse has been brought up in my life a lot. Really, if there was one verse that went with my entire life; it would be that one. So lately I've been taking that verse apart and trying to get a new angle on it, and to explore why this is my verse. I guess this verse has been on my mind a lot because there a lot of areas in my life where I have been tempted to conform. But it was so subtle that I didn't notice it at first. I had good, solid reasons for conformity; I could reasonably justify it. But I'm starting to realize that God wants more for me than that.

   One thing we talked about in the bible study I was attending is American values vs. Godly values. That was so weird to hear; like, yes there are areas in which they're the same, but there are so many values that are highly sought after by Americans and yet frowned upon by God. Things such as independence and self righteousness; that whole "Take care of #1. You." attitude. I realized that I could adopt a whole set of wrong beliefs and still be praised by the people around me, because it would be in the norm. Even among my Christian friends. That frightened me a bit. See, we are told to be different. And seriously, I have no idea why this concept just hit me because I have heard it my whole life. But I guess now it's just more real.

   I'm a hug people pleaser. If I can't make everyone happy, I'm miserable. So I'm often tempted to conform by setting aside my beliefs to sound good to other people. Even if I don't agree. I don't like rocking the boat. But that's not how I'm supposed to be. Again, the sad truth is, this mostly happens with my Bible believing friends. But in my belief system, I can't afford to be wishy washy. There has got to be a firm distinction between Godly and American values. I don't want to associate myself with something just to be called "cool." I think that's the big thing for me; wanting to be a "Cool Christian." You know? There are like, hard core Conservative Christians who are all like "You can't watch Harry Potter" and "your shorts have to be knee length." But then you've got your "Cool Christians." And they swear and support gay rights and think "what's good for you is good for you." Because it looks good to unbelievers. And I've sort of been telling myself that's okay. But its justified. Because if I swore, non believers would be more willing to listen, because I speak their language, and if I was supportive of trans people then they would think I was awesome and maybe I could witness to them. But we are not supposed to be well liked. Literally, people hated Jesus when He was on Earth. He said we would be hated too. It's expected. We're different.

   I don't want to settle. I don't want to be okay with the way are living if I think it's wrong. I don't want to set aside my beliefs to be in the in crowd. There are so many areas I think of when I say this; like modesty; how do I feel about wearing bikinis? Cussing? My choice in entertainment? Boundaries in relationships with members of the opposite sex? There are a lot of issues in the bible that are debatable and people have to develop what they believe about them, and for me, I don't want to settle for less than God designed. I want to live a Godly life. And if that means living a less than cool life, so be it.

   Honestly, this post didn't go the way I wanted it to and I'm too tired to re write it. I hope I made sense.

   Also, what do you think of the new design? It's not finished yet because there are a few problems, but yeah. I've got a lot of blog ideas and crap floating around in my head to sort out, but also I'm leaving for camp on Sunday so you can expect blog silence for a week that will probably be broken by a massive post.

   That's all for today. May the Force be with you!