This summer........ this summer was crazy, awesome, life changing! I think if any of you looked at our calendar for the summer, you would have first thought "Fun!" and at second glance, you would have wondered how we kept our sanity! Any given week during the last three months we had 5-7 youth events/bible studies/dinners/appointments/meetings.... all of that on top of work! Craziness! NOT complaining... We would not have planned it that way if we didn't think we could handle and enjoy every minute of it... and we did! It truly was crazy,awesome and life changing!!
...all of this activity and yet, this past week I've found myself feeling unbelievably LAZY!
.......which is so funny because just the other morning on the radio at work I heard about THIS:
"In a new ranking by Businessweek.com based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Louisiana claims the top spot as the country's laziest state." (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38382866/ns/business-bloomberg_businessweek/)
I find this SO interesting, because if you recall from a few emails ago, Louisiana is also the HAPPIEST state in the country... Apparently, we are so happy, and content that we just sit here in our happiness, refusing to move forward, just....... lounging in our laziness...
So after I heard that, I was totally blown away by the implications this new finding has for my faith! And completely in awe of the awesome people in my life who have become incredible role-models for me of what it looks like NOT to be content with where your faith is, and to get up off your butt and let yourself be used to change lives and the world!
This summer with our college group we read "The Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. I highly recommend it! It was incredible, totally convicting and challenging! I found myself totally frozen in fear every week reading about this awesome Spirit that dwells INSIDE OF ME(woah!!), and can enable me to do anything within His will... that's right... ANYTHING! My lazy self is too fearful to get up off the couch and let God grow me and use me... Really, half the time, I'm too lazy to even open my Bible and read it everyday... When I heard about my new home state's lean towards laziness, I definitely realized my place in that, and began to wonder about my Christian community here in the Pelican state... Do you realize that we could literally CHANGE THE WORLD if we weren't too lazy and afraid to let Him grow and use us???? That is incredible!!!!!
So to end the summer on an awesome and life-changing note, we took 6 of our 'babies' to Camp Eagle, my new home away from home! Y'all, really, this was an absolutely AMAZING week, in every way possible! Aside from the very comforting and amazing events following Arissa's death, I have never ever experienced the presence of God so visibly before me, and I will never forget the things He did that week. He changed our kid's lives, and He used them to change ours, and that's a pretty awesome feeling! So, in the aftermath, we have gotten to enjoy seeing our amazing youth in intense combat with this whole laziness factor that is SO easy to give into, and I just couldn't live with myself if Ididn't share what God is doing here!
There's a 16 year old boy in our group named Blake. Blake is an inspiration to me and to our whole group. He is autistic, he's afraid of deep water, he doesn't like staying up late, he hates school with a passion, and he utters red-rum (The Shining; it's murder spelled backwards) under his breath very repetitively throughout the day. He loses his temper and gets very frustrated when doing something he doesn't want to do or doesn't think he should have to do. But let me tell you, this kid loves Jesus, and despite his disability, his love and trust in Jesus is totally apparent and rubs off on everyone around him! Our group became so close because of Blake, and Chris and I saw parts of our kids personalities come out that we never knew about before! Helping Blake, praying with Blake, pouring love out on Blake... it was incredible! Blake conquered every one of his fears at camp, and in his journal writes that when he prayed to God he was able to do the things he was afraid of. He also stated often at camp that when he felt like satan was tempting him to leave an activity or session because he was tired, he prayed and God helped him stay up late at night. Every time he did get frustrated and lose his temper, just moments later he was praying for forgiveness and apologizing to the group. Blake prayed almost constantly. Just about anytime we knew he was getting agitated, we could look over at him and see him in prayer. What if we all lived like Blake does?? What if we weren't too lazy to ask God for help and to conquer our fears...? What do you think He would do through YOU? The possiblities are limitless!!
That kind of fearless prayer continued throughout the week, as we heard stories of our kids laying hands on other kids and praying, and those kids accepting Christ! As we drove home, our kids requested that we take a meal to a homeless man we saw on the exit ramp and pray for him. At one point on the trip, one of the vehicles began acting up, and didn't look like it would make it the rest of the 10 hours home. One girl requested to pray over the truck, and within about 2 minutes the driver called us and the truck was running perfectly! It didn't experience any problems the rest of the trip!! And to top all of that off, one of our boys who accepted Christ on the trip was baptized this past Sunday despite his paralyzing fear to stand before the congregation! Awesome!
There are so many more stories I could share, but I think I'm just gonna leave y'all with a couple 'before and after' stories to ponder...
One of our girls admitted that she had NEVER prayed before. On the last night of camp, she stepped outside of worship and prayed by herself for the first time in her life. This is just days after giving up and burning a silly book she had built her own religion out of. She came home from camp and shared her new faith with all the friends who she was smoking pot with everyday before we went to camp! She can't stop talking about, singing about and thinking about how God changed her life in Texas, and she sang the prelude at church this past Sunday! It was AMAZING, I couldn't stop crying as I watched this brand new child of God worship her Creator! Totally cool! Don't think I was ever that brave!
Another girl had given away her purity a little over a year ago and had decided to change that part of her life last March. She and I went through a 7 week purity course this summer and memorized Psalm 51. She couldn't afford to go to camp, but God is AWESOME and made a way for her to go. This 17 year old girl, who also used to smoke pot often and struggle with sexual sin is literally a new person! I am in awe of her beautiful faith that grows stronger and stronger daily! The first thing she did when she got home was call her best friend and share Jesus with her.... and she hasn't stopped sharing! In fact, after girl #1 sang this past Sunday, this girl stood before the whole church and shared her testimony and her excitement about how God has redeemed and changed her life! She is a true inspiration to me and I know I was never that brave!!
Both of these girls plan on being the opposite of lazy, and enrolling in the Walkabout gap year program (a 9-month discipleship program) that Camp Eagle offers after they graduate next year. (http://campeagle.org/#thewalkabout) Totally awesome program I wish I could have experienced when I was between 18 and 24, and doin nothin but being lazy! Please be in prayer that their faith will continue to grow and that they will continue to seek God daily.
Every job I've had and kid I've worked with I've been excited to have the opportunity to change their lives, but it never fails that my life is the one that ends up being changed! I challenge you to be changed by these high schoolers and their stories as well, and to get up off the couch or whatever your chosen spot of comfort is and let God do some awesome stuff through YOU, without fear and without hesitation.
I love you all very much!!
"I thank my God every time I remember you!
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!"