Tag Archives: jesus

week five: “THE SECOND THING YOU NEED TO BE A GENTLEMAN IS MINTY FRESH BREATH!!!”

things about this week that were just awesome:

1.) these guys are super into being gentlemen. like they decided it was their theme for opening campfire.

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2.) it’s nearly impossible to hold them back from holding open the door for others. we had to start limiting it to three gentlemen at a time, so that everyone else could actually get through the door. and yes, all of those below are peoria gentlemen.

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3.) wacky wednesday. we got to choose a theme for the afternoon and decorate the whole cabin. we decided we had lost our theme, and held some theme tryouts. one of them (my favorite, admittedly) was the gentleman bootcamp. a couple of the guys were really excited about it and decorated a whole corner of the cabin in camouflage, with one as the commander and the other as the cadet. they shouted a few directives back and forth, and the cadet ran outside to straighten shoes. all of us had a blast.

it’s always so encouraging to see when the guys legitimately want to be serving others by being gentlemen, when they see it as fun. i hope that it’s something they carry on after they leave camp, but i know that God’s in control of all of that. i’m more than content with the role i get to play here at camp.

4.) bible study. it’s the best. this summer we’re going through the prophets in the old testament, and we talked about isaiah. i love being with campers all day every day, but it’s refreshing to have good conversation about important things with fellow believers. we have good food, good fellowship, and lots of fun. such a blessing.

5.) these guys are just the best. and we have fun as a group. everyone seems to get along, and it’s been great watching as friendships have developed.

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7.) it’s just impossible not to have fun with these guys. one of the reasons i love my job so much.

8.) clinics. riflery was a blast, mountaineering is always encouraging, and hip hop is basically guaranteed to be the best (also we got some swag).

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9.) closing campfire. for some reason this week was extra fun all the way through. jack and mike brought out their hilarious “who’s on first” skit back. cheers were full of life and craziness. hip hop performed. and a mysterious sweater somehow made it on stage for literally every single act.

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10.) have i mentioned these guys are awesome? i’m going to miss them. i already do.

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week four: “my goal is just to have something i say be the title of one of your blog posts.”

week four has historically been fantastic (see here and here and here), and this summer has been no exception. everything was fun, we all made some great connections with the campers, and it was the kind of week where we wished all ten of them were stayovers. just full of blessing and fun. lots of fun.

i mean, just look at these guys. they’re all studs.

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we were set up for success right from the beginning. four of those guys had been in my cabin two years ago, and were some of my favorites of all time. one was the younger brother of a close friend, and another was a camp kid that i’ve known for the past few years. four were ones i’d never met, and every single one of them was awesome.

we did tons of awesome things, like every week. a favorite was once again the minifarm. it’s always a blast seeing the tough guys get really excited about petting baby bunnies. we had a contest to see who could sound most like the pigs, and also took some time to play chicken round up. becca and katherine’s cabins were with us, and becca managed to conquer her (apparently intense) fear of… chickens. we were all very proud of her.

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this week, we brought back a favorite of mine from last year: the gentlemen games! i brought all the guys into the cabin and gathered them in a circle to relay our mission parameters. together, we decided to focus on the blazer girl cabins. we grabbed some sticky notes and markers, mentally prepared for the challenge at hand, and sprinted to the oregon territory. our cover story was that we were on a camp tree photo tour. naturally, we had to get some photos so our story was legit (also, note the ties we wore. we simply told people we were on a gentlemen’s hike).

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we plastered cabin doors with odd complements (e.g. “you’re better than apple pie. and apple pie is my favorite dessert.”), straightened lines of shoes, and organized clotheslines. most of the girls were out of their cabins, but for the last cabin we had to do all these things without being seen or heard by the ladies inside. it was intense, but we managed to accomplish our mission and sneak away unnoticed. win.

since we were working so well together, it was a great week to do the optimist challenge. we paired up with some of the blazer ladies and trekked across it, encouraging each other along the way. there are so many reasons i love this activity. it’s fun and challenging, it forces people to ask for help and encourage each other, and it creates space for leaders to step up. one of my campers had told me a little earlier in the week that he was praying for God to grow him in his leadership skills (so cool. just so cool.), and so i asked him specifically to be setting the example for encouraging his partner and having a positive attitude. he totally did, and we were all really proud of him.

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on wednesday i had the honor of being selected as a safety officer (well, batman did… and he and i are pretty close). it meant that i got a cool fluorescent vest and had the responsibility of making sure that everyone stayed safe. so later that day there was only one thing to do: take safety selfies with everyone. it was a hit. they were some of the safest pictures i’ve ever seen, to be sure.

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another reason this week rocked was that i had the chance to be in an awesome chapel. in the skit, milson keeps getting torn down by people, who tear a piece of his heart each time they hurt him. towards the end, milson starts tearing his own heart because he starts believing the things that people are saying. representing Jesus, i came in and gave him my heart. it was a cool picture of the way that Jesus took on the pain and hurt that should be ours because He loves us so much. and even when there is deep pain, we still have an anchor in our loving God.

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those two photos were taken by ben dehr, one of the camp photographers. he’s pretty awesome and you can look at all of the camp photos here. he also got some sweet pics of the firewors show (you can see them below), because of course the fourth of july happened this week. along with the fireworks show, we had a spectacular theme dinner on friday.

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everyone gets into it, and it’s the best. hands down though, the best part is the relationships that are built here at camp. i love seeing guys, who don’t know each other on sunday when they arrive, leave being best friends. camp just does that. it’s in the dna here.

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so, another week in the books. another week to come. crazy how it all flies by! what a busy, busy, sweet, sweet life.

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“we have to go back! we didn’t take pictures of us stuffing our faces!”

so this is an update on the second week, but i didn’t actually spend it at camp tecumseh. instead, i got to be a counselor at edge 2014, which is a middle school summer camp in chattanooga, tennessee. myself, matt, and the other leaders from new life got to go with all the middle schoolers that we’ve been leading for the past year or more. plus, some of the incoming sixth graders joined us! let’s just say it was the best ever.

it was a bit of a shorter week, which meant that after i left camp t on saturday of week 1, i got a whole day to rest before shipping off with matt, jami, jessy, and the kids.  it’s a nine hour drive to chattanooga, so we had plenty of time to sing songs, play the alphabet game, sleep (the kids, not the drivers), and just generally be hyper. it was fantastic and tiring and wonderful. the frozen soundtrack was on repeat, naturally.

edge 2014 took place at covenant college, which rests atop lookout mountain. it was the first time i’d ever been on a mountain, and it was absolutely stunning. like, every evening was a painting. just really gorgeous stuff. when we woke up in the mornings, we couldn’t even see the city below, because it would be covered with a layer of clouds. sunsets and sunrises were absolutely beautiful. and there was so much color all the time. it was the best place to spend a week of camp.

we only spent monday evening through friday morning there, but each of the days was jam packed with stuff to do. on tuesday, our first full day, we had a water extravaganza. you kind of had to be there, but i’ll try to explain. there were watermelons to fight over, pyramids of death to climb (and inevitably fall from, as they were covered in tarps soaked with a copious amount of baby oil), and giant slip-and-slides to race down, all filmed by a flying camera drone (yep). totally awesome. on thursday we drove down to georgia to spend the afternoon at white water, a six flags park. most of my time was spent in the wave pool with some of the guys, playing games involving the inner tubes. most revolved around capsizing each other and claiming victory, only to be taken down a minute later. it was a fantastic day. we also took a couple of hours that week to explore chattanooga, which is a beautiful place. those times were some of my favorites, because we got to just hang out with all the kids, talking and laughing and continuing to build relationships with them, which is what we’ve been doing for the past couple years.

each evening there was a large group meeting, where we’d jam to some music, sing worship songs, and listen as the speaker for the week, jay, opened God’s word for us. he focused on the life of jacob in the old testament, and how the theme of God’s blessing can be found throughout his life. the Spirit really spoke through jay. he talked about how we often seek to earn God’s blessing, when by definition a blessing is something given as a gift. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate blessing we have been given. there’s nothing we can do to earn it. a beautiful truth (the gospel truth, in fact), and one that i need to be reminded of daily.

one of the things i most appreciated was that the staff of edge 2014 really took the spiritual well-being of the counselors seriously. every morning before breakfast they had set aside time for us to spend in the word by ourselves, and every evening before the main session there was a leaders’ meeting, where the camp director gave a short message from the word to encourage and fill us. i always came away feeling blessed.

so camp was awesome. there are certainly more things i could say, but i’ll conclude it with this: i am so blown away that the Lord has blessed me and the other leaders with the opportunity to lead and learn with the youth at new life. there are hardly words to describe how blessed i feel to know them, to lead them, and to learn from them. God is so, so good. i am so thankful to have spent a week with everyone, and i’m psyched to be back in muncie after the summer finishes up!

 

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thoughts on home.

sometimes there are a bunch of random things just floating around in my mind, and it takes me a bit to realize that they’re actually not disconnected at all. over the past couple weeks, in different forms and by different means, there’s been something i’ve been thinking about.

home.

what kind of image does that evoke in your heart? because it’s definitely a heart thing for me. what comes most immediately to mind is these beautiful people:

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(especially that one in the top left. wowza.) spring break is coming up in a little over a month for me, and that means i’m missing my family more with each day. the older i get, the more i cherish the relationships the Lord has blessed us with. one of the things we’ve talked about a lot in sunday school is the nature of the Trinity, and how we can experience love from our human relationships as a taste of what love within the Trinitarian relationship looks like, and what God’s love for us feels like.

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isn’t that awesome? God let’s us experience a reflection of His love in the relationships we have with others, and for me, with my family in particular. that’s probably why i so easily associate the idea of home with love.

but if home is where the heart is, then a significant piece of my home is at camp. home is, after all, a place where you are most comfortable, right? it should be, at least. i mean, look at this place.

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home is where you learn about yourself and what it looks like to love people well. camp is like that too. things have started to gear up for this summer already, and it’s insanely exciting and awesome. meeting new counselors (well, creeping on them), praying for God to do incredible things, writing to campers… it’s all so awesome! it makes me so pumped that this summer, even more people will experience camp as home.

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and man, being able to say that i have a home with these guys?

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awesome. the past two weeks i was house-sitting for someone and actually lived at their house the whole time. and while it was nice to have a place that felt kind of like my own for a bit, i missed these men terribly. the night i returned, we had our monthly house hangout night. we caught up on life and played games and it was awesome. God has provided home here, among my brothers in Christ. we went around the table and shared what our plans were for next year, Lord willing.

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it brought a smile to my face and an ache to my heart, knowing that God has some incredible plans for us, but that we’ll be going our separate ways. a few of us will be staying in muncie, and while there will certainly be more opportunities for fellowship together, things will still be different. and that’s okay, that’s how life works. just makes right now, being home with these guys, even more important.

underlying all of these thoughts of home has been the memory verses for action group:

“but our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”
>> philippians 3:20-21

isn’t that such a sweet reminder? our citizenship, our home, is in heaven. no wonder we’re called to set our minds on the things above (col. 3:2)… that’s where we belong! and these old, tired, sinful bodies will be made new, perfect. that is a wonderful thing. what a homecoming.

as beautiful as all these glimpses of home are, we were created for a different, complete kind, and it’s one we will be able to experience with our Savior. if home is where the heart is, and my heart was buried and is raised with Christ, then i can’t wait to get home.

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“psych! i’m actually mafia and i just gatling-gunned all of you.”

just got back from new life’s middle school retreat, and it was the best ever.

matt and i lead the guys’ middle school study on wednesdays, so most of the boys who came were ones that i’ve been getting to know over the course of the year, but there were a couple that i only get to see once in a while, so it was really great to catch up with them. plus there was a new guy who decided to join after only visiting new life last sunday! it was so cool; he was the perfect addition to our group and all the guys really liked him. we had a total blast together.

we did a ton of stuff. lots of games and times of hanging out. we played a lot of body body, which is a live-action version of mafia. have you ever been sneaking around in a pitch-black, slightly unfamiliar house, hoping that no one slips silently behind you and whispers “you’re dead”? it’s creepy. and lots of fun. it was a blast.

saturday we went outside to play in the snow.

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it was rather cold. we were actually out on a frozen lake (it was safe… there had been a hockey team practicing on it the other day) and some of the guys found some cattails that were on the edge of the frozen shore. naturally, they soon figured out how to make them the most obnoxious weapon ever invented.

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we also spent a ton of time playing polish pool, a classic from last year’s retreat. we had a tournament and sydney, a newcomer to the game, swept it (to the chagrin of all the boys, who grudgingly presented her with the championship trophy). Whenever there was a free minute, it was a guarantee that you’d hear the guys downstairs, hooting and hollering around the pool table.

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adam’s parents, the fantastic jaque and steve, hosted us. jaque’s reputation as a fabulous cook may or may not have convinced some of the kids to come. meals were my favorite because everyone eats together and laughs and tells stories and just gets to know each other. it was also the place where we heard the most “thank you!”s. but no surprises there. one of the boys snagged my camera to take an instagram of sorts.

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a stuff-your-face-for-the-camera picture is standard for pretty much all youth events, i’ve learned. no shame.

stark, the youth group baby, made a couple of appearances as well. he’s everyone’s favorite. this guy is, no joke, probably the cutest baby i’ve ever met. he is always smiling and laughing, he’s adorable, and he recoils after kissing my beard as if he just licked a lemon.

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like the high school retreat, our theme verse for this weekend was ephesians 4:1, in which paul encourages the people of ephesus to “live in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”. we talked about how our first calling is to believe the gospel, and how when we are rooted in the love of God, it should affect how we interact with other believers and non-believers. we had some great discussion and it was, as usual, really encouraging.

this group of kids is just awesome. it’s been such a privilege to be able to work with them the entire year.

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it’s hard to describe just how cool it is to see how the guys i help lead are growing in their faith. i’ve seen the changes in their lives, the way they take their faith seriously, the way some of them are recognizing sin in their lives and seeking to pursue God more closely. it’s encouraging and convicting and inspiring and fills me with awe for how God interacts so intimately with each and every one of His children.

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the more time the Lord allows me to spend walking with kids as they pursue Him and grow in understanding of what that means and what it looks like, the more He affirms that this is something it seems i will be doing long-term. i don’t presume to know what God’s will is, but i hope i will always have the chance to lead and learn with kids about God’s grace and how His gospel will never not be essential to every moment of every day.

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