Monday, July 26, 2010

High Seas Expedition

Two weeks ago I helped with VBS at church. I was in charge of six 5th graders, which I was really nervous about, but I had a blast! They are so precious and I am so thankful that I got to spend so much time with them.

I was also in charge of getting my cousins Chase and Declan from day care to VBS and back again every day. I had a blast playing mom for them and taking them out to lunch every day. Because I'm away at school most of the time, I have always felt like I missed a lot of their lives. It was such precious time with them and so good for my relationship with them. They are 2 boys who love Jesus with their whole hearts and I can't wait to see what God has in store for them!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Luh Yoo

The weekend between week 1 and week 2 was a whirlwind of busyness and more lack of sleep. Last year everyone who worked week 2 was from week 1. This year they wanted to give some more people opportunities to work so some more people were coming down on Saturday. This meant Friday was open for us. After a debrief meeting and saying our goodbyes, we were free! This meant that I got to spend a day with Cosbie and his family. My favorite boy in my favorite place (besides Kirkland and Charlie, of course), what more could a girl ask for? I had a wonderfully relaxing day of the beach, doing laundry for week 2, dinner with his family, the pier, and ice cream.

Saturday was a full day of training, which, let's be honest, isn't always very fun but necessary. Kemper (friend from last year camp)'s family was down there at their condo so they invited us all over for dinner that night. It was good to spend some time with everyone and get to talk to my sweet friend Lauren. Last year when I met these people, I don't think I realized what wonderful friends I really had made. We all agreed that we didn't take full advantage of the friends that God had put into our lives and didn't realize it until this year. When we got back that night we all shared our testimonies again. This was one of the most amazing testimony times I have ever been a part of. So many girls were sharing things they had never shared before and it was so cool to find that openness with each other. We all have things that we don't really like to tell people, and I am no different. As each girl before me was sharing and we were rejoicing with them over this newfound freedom, but I was refusing to join in. I felt like God was really telling me that I needed to talk about some stuff, but I kept telling Him "no way". Then more girls kept opening up. And other girls were breaking out scripture about healing and confession and I was literally praying that they would shut up. (which is a really dumb thing to pray because I was basically praying against what God was telling me.) When Kendall read James 5:16, I knew I was in for it. "Therefore, confess your sins to each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a powerful man is powerful and effective." Awesome. I knew there was no getting out of it now. But the whole night was a night of healing and freedom. We latched onto that word for the whole weekend: freedom. Very appropriate since the next day was the 4th of July. Training continued and then we went to the pier to watch fireworks.

Everything was great, but I felt really distracted- not by anything in particular, but my mind was not focused on camp at all. Once again, I am so thankful for such amazing friends. It's a rare thing to find friends who I can share my struggles with at any given moment and they will drop everything and pray right that second. My prayer partner for the week was Bethany and she was such a blessing every morning. I have taken such precious friends for granted for so long- we all have- but we really got so much closer this year and I am excited about these wonderful godly women being in my life.

Courtney (camp director) explained week 2 the best: "Week 1 we had a bunch of leaders who were on fire for Christ and we were just building them up, equipping them, and pouring into them. Week 2 we had the same kind of leaders, but we had to get them out of a whole lot of sin before they could be leaders worth following." I encountered a lot of new problems I had never experienced before. My girls were awesome of course, but different than before. They didn't become best friends within the first 3 hours or want to talk to me and spend time with me immediately. (of course in the end they wished that they had gotten closer sooner and we all spent much more time together) A lot of the students from week 1 suggested that we do some kind of girls and boys separated question and answer session kinda deal during free time and we loved that idea, so we ran with it for week 2. We had all the students in our huddles anonymously write down questions that they had and compiled them and divided them into categories. We wanted them to feel like they could ask anything without anyone knowing it was them. As we went through the questions and read about some of the things these kids were struggling with, we were in tears and heartbroken. I was reading questions about things I didn't even know existed until college. I know I can be naive sometimes, but still. It broke our hearts and made us realize the urgency of doing something like this and of reaching out to these students.

I listened to stories of broken hearts and my heart broke too. I listened to stories of struggling relationships and felt their struggle. I listened to stories of struggles with self-worth and remembered my own. I had always viewed my tender heart as a curse. I cry at everything. When someone hurts, I feel it. When they cry, I cry. And I hated that about myself most of the time. But my sweet Lindsey friend pointed out that it is a gift that I have been given, but one I must use responsibly. I struggled to not take on their burdens and be drug down by them. I love those girls so much and I hate to see them hurt. I want to save them. I want to take away their pain. But God quickly used that group of girls to show me that He can get through their pain without me. He doesn't need me. He sometimes chooses to use me, but sometimes He chooses not to. And that's ok. 

The sleep deprivation and the hurt I felt for these girls and the all out exhaustion gave me the opportunity to learn to completely surrender every day and depend on Him to get me out of bed and help me make my next step. It was one of the hardest but most amazing weeks of my life and I am so thankful that I was able to be there for both weeks.

Sarah, Chrissy, Lexi, Natalie, Erin, Kristen, Logan, Carli, Brittany, and Angel

Friday, July 16, 2010

Unleash The Power

I always hate myself for waiting this long to write about important things like camp, but there literally hasn't been time. I feel like the next few posts have just been looming over my head. So we are going to back all the way up to when I last posted, saying I would only be gone one week and was leaving for Athens that day.

On the way to Athens I got a call from Jennifer telling me she needed me for week 2. How long had I been praying for that very phone call?! I was immediately hit with a huge wave of really mixed emotions. I had been praying for this for weeks. I felt so sure that that is where God wanted me to be that I had packed for 2 weeks anyway. But I had another bag with me. That bag was full of cute beachy clothes and bathing suits and was fully prepared to spend a long weekend with Cosbie and his family at the beach after week 1. Now that I was working week 2, I wouldn't get to see him for about 3 weeks. I didn't know what to feel. I was ecstatic about spending 2 weeks at Epworth and so sad about not seeing Cosbie for so long. (don't judge me. it's just the truth.) The conversation that took place with him that night really highlighted my dependence on other people for affirmation and left me unsatisfied.

I am thankful for a 6 hour car ride with Cissie and Lindsey to talk about what God was doing and how I felt about it and such. They are such precious friends who just speak Truth, whether you want to hear it or not. I love that about them.

Training started just like every other year: competition, dinner, training, testimonies. It's always interesting to see which direction our testimonies are going to take. Summing up 21+ years of our lives is always difficult. No matter how many years we work together, all of our stories tend to lean toward a different direction and focus than the year before depending on where we are in life. This year mine leaned toward self-image, self-worth, and approval. As I was talking, I started to realize how much I still look for that approval from others. Even while I was telling my story I was worrying about it. I had no idea I was such a captive to that... desire, which I saw as a need. Galatians 1:10 says, "am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? or am I trying to please men? if I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." ouch. That was me. I was living in sin and didn't even realize it. I know that it is natural, especially as women, to be concerned about what other people think at times, but it was consuming my thoughts and my life. To even admit how much I thought about it would be slightly embarrassing to be honest. Linds and I talked about it a lot that night and just prayed for freedom to come throughout the week.

Monday rolled around and I finally got to meet the first group of girls that I had been praying about for a year. Getting that roster is always the best. They aren't just girls you pray for anymore, they have names and stories. I love working the name tag station in registration because I get to talk to most of the kids and get to meet most of the girls in my huddle that way. I was so blessed to have an amazing group of junior and senior girls who love the Lord so much. They were incredible competitive and awesome on the competition field, sweet as can be, and so willing and eager to learn about the Word of God. They were seriously the kind of huddle that every huddle leader dreams of. Brittany, Maddie, Michelle, Cortney, Megan, Jessica (who was also in my huddle last year), Rachel, Brooke, Elizabeth, and Tara very quickly had, and will always have, a special place in my heart and I love them so much. Wednesday night we went on the prayer walk where they all shared struggles and prayed for each other. It was so powerful and so awesome to see them come together and bond. When we got back to the cabin that night, they pointed out that they had prayed for each other but not for me and asked if they could pray for me. I didn't even know what to say. I was so humbled. They are so precious and I am so thankful to have been a part of their lives for even just one short week.

Let's be honest, sometimes church camp skits can be a little cheesy. One thing I love about this camp is we don't do the cheese. We wanted to do some new ones this year, and, of course, they were awesome. Every year I secretly try to avoid being in them, but always end up in a couple somehow. I don't really love being on stage for everyone to see me, but it is always a blessing to be a part of. Wednesday night's skit was to Audience of One by Big Daddy Weave. I have always loved this song and know every word, but all of a sudden it was different. As I watched Amy give Jesus her worries and struggles and learn what it means to live completely for Him and His glory, I saw myself in those shoes- struggling to stop worrying about what others think and learn what it means to have His approval. The skit ended and worship began and tears were still streaming down my face. It was like I was having this conversation with God about what I was feeling and why I thought I needed that approval. Then it was like God just said, "Caitlin, you have been believing that I can free you from this but you won't let Me. just let go and give me control." Surrender. That's all I had to do. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. And that's how it's been ever since. It's a conscious effort and it's hard, but so much better. I am learning to truth my discernment and my own abilities to make decisions and be confident in them and in who I am in Christ. I am free! I have never felt so free before in my life, and it's amazing.

Every year I go to camp thinking that this is all about the girls (which most of it is) and underestimating what God is going to do in my life. He changed my life. He showed me life to the fullest in a way I didn't know existed. "through You the blind will see, through You the mute will sing, through You the dead will rise, through You all hearts will praise, through You the darkness flees, through You my heart screams, 'I am free!'"

I come on my knees
To lay down before You
Bringing all that I am
Longing only to know You
Seeking Your face
And not only Your hand
I find you embracing me
Just as I am

And I lift these songs 
To You and You alone
As I sing to You
In my praises make Your home

To my audience of One
You are Father and You are Son
As Your Spirit flows free
May it find within me
A heart that beats to praise You
And now just to know You more
Has become my great reward
To see Your Kingdom come
And Your will be done
I only desire to be Yours

So what could I bring
To honor Your majesty
What song could I sing
That would move the heart of royalty
And all that I have
Is the life You've given me
So Lord let me live for You
My song of humility

And Lord as the love song 
Of my life is played
I have one desire
To bring glory to Your name!
-Audience of One, Big Daddy Weave

ps- thanks to my wonderful roommate Lindsey for help on the blog makeover :)