The Clash of the Seasons

The Clash of the Seasons

Holy cow, such an incredible individual and my thoughts and prayers are with you always Madison. The Lord is using you in ways unimaginable and the Father is a Healer. A Healer of hearts foremostley, and a Healer of our bodies. I thank you for our friendship and encourage any and everyone to read this incredible post by my sweet friend. Thank you for your kind and endearing spirit and your friendship Madison.

Madison C. Garrett

I start with a plea.

(It seems like the majority of my time these days is spent pleading.)

First and foremost, pleading with the Lord for the health and total healing of my father.

Pleading for the miraculous disappearance of an inoperable and incurable brain tumor.

Pleading for belief.

Pleading for a trustworthy God.

Pleading for the strength and capacity and energy to love the guests of Disney World, most of whom will never recognize, acknowledge, or appreciate that love.

Internally pleading for guests to be kind and patient.

Audibly pleading that they please move in all the way, filling in all available space and pull down on your lap bar, please and please make sure the baby stays seated for the remainder of the ride.

Then, of course, there is the pleading with myself to fight through the desire to run home and be with my family and…

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picked up from the wild

picked up from the wild

So this summer I experienced so much personal growth and is such an encouragement to me when my campers do something or say something that challenges me and makes me think about my relationship with the Lord. One week this summer, not 100% sure which week it was..maybe week 2…that is beside the point, I had a camper that found this green green caterpillar. It was so green that I have to use the adjective twice to describe it honestly. He really wanted to keep it, and I did not oppose to him holding onto it, plus it was really cool and I couldn’t just say no to him. Little did I realize that by the end of this caterpillar would turn out to be one of the most relatable debriefs that I have had the opportunity of sharing with the campers.

(just a side note: a debrief is a conversation we have at camp where we relate camp activities such as high ropes courses and other exciting elements and games to Christ and to our relationship with him)

So this caterpillar was picked up from somewhere in the woods by one of my campers (for the sake of the story, I will call this camper Johnny) and of course as any almost middle school boy would do, he decided to carry the little guy around on a stick he found (and eventually would carry it around in a cup). Johnny took this caterpillar and the stick everywhere we went that week. He took it when we went to the high ropes course, to climb the tower, and of course to every meal. Johnny never let the caterpillar out of sight except for at night. The caterpillar also was passed from camper to camper throughout the week, but they all felt great responsibility for it and they all kept up with it… for the most part. One day that week, while we were all engaged in an activity, Johnny noticed that the caterpillar had fallen off of the stick and he went into full panic mode. All of my campers started to search around and shortly they found the caterpillar and again placed him on the stick. This was not the last time this would happen either. Later, when the caterpillar’s home had evolved into a plastic cup with some leaves and a twig, Johnny again found that the caterpillar had gone missing and the cup was flipped over. Now maybe the cup had just turned over or maybe the caterpillar by instinct was just trying to escape this confining atmosphere. The campers again quickly found him and put him back into a safe area. At the end of the week on the last day, I told Johnny that it would be best if we left the caterpillar somewhere near the cabin in the edge of the woods. All of our campers were sad, but I assured them that was probably the most love that the caterpillar had ever been shown however it was time for him to move on and be able to experience the life he was created to have. As is fairly common knowledge, caterpillars eventually become butterflies that are able to soar and experience a new type of freedom. Thus ended that week of camp.

As we had one final group devotion/TAG time (Time Alone with God), I decided I would share what the Lord had really been showing me this week through this simple caterpillar that had become our cabin’s mascot more or less. It was a Gospel story really which I found too sweet not to share:

Here we are. Human beings. Broken. Helpless. Hopeless. Misguided by our desires. Lost. In darkness. In the wilderness. Wandering in the dark.

Enter Jesus. He picks us up out of our shame, sin, and recklessness. He shows us compassion. He shows us grace, that gift received at Christ’s expense that we do not deserve. He guides us. He provides us with a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose that we all desperately search for in our lives.

The rebel in us still remains. We still fall short. We will still fall into temptation. We try to hop off of that stick or out of that cup and begin to move away from God. We want to do things on our own. The thing is that sometimes God will let us. He grants us free will. Too soon, we realize that what we are doing is no where near what we could be doing if we embrace the freedom that we are given through Christ. Allowing our focus to fall straight onto the One whose image we are created in.

We have an Advocate through Christ. He took it upon Himself to take all of our crap (the rebellion, the sin, the shame, the unrighteousness we show Him, and He died a gruesome death that we are MORE than deserving of.

When we embrace that freedom, Christ allows us to abound from that place of separation and into His love, His presence, and in Him. We then are commanded to guide and show others how to love and do the same thing. We will one day be given the ability to soar into eternity and spend the rest of our days singing the praises of the One True King.

How this correlation between a caterpillar and Christ even came to me I have no definitive answer. But I can rest in the fact that the Lord spoke through me in this time to speak to my campers in an unexpected way. Feel free to explore the Gospels in the Bible and you will find yourself in the midst of this powerful story of redemption and freedom.

Share this with anyone who is searching for answers only the Lord can truly provide.

 

oh sing a song of VICTORY…

oh sing a song of VICTORY…

Just recently, I finished my second summer at Camp Highland. Again, I have found it very difficult to explain or attempt to explain how my summer was in conversation in fear that I might leave something out. But here’s something give you a glimpse into my summer. 

I wasn’t even planning on being at camp for a second summer, not because I didn’t want to, but because I thought it would be responsible to at least try to find an internship relating to my field of study. So I found one to apply to at the end of 2015 and they informed me that their decision would be made by February of 2016. At this point, I had reapplied to camp with the intention of it being my backup in case my internship didn’t pan out. I knew that the Lord would be working in my life regardless of where he would have me this summer, but I was having difficulty because the two options I had for the summer would require very different preparations and I just wanted to know what I was going to be doing this summer. After the first week in March of this year, I was informed that I did not get the internship I applied to, which means I would be back at camp, which secretly I had been hoping would happen, but not really at the same time.

Having learned from last year, I went into the summer without high expectations, but for a very specific reason: I knew whatever expectations I set, the Lord would go above and beyond those, and I was very right. After the first week of staff training, I had already figured out that the Lord hand-picked each and every individual on staff this summer. The amount of encouragement, energy, and spiritual maturity present in each person on staff was undeniable. In the weeks to follow, I struggled a lot with feelings and worries of inadequacy. I felt inferior to those around me especially to some of those who had only just started working at camp as well as were several years younger than me. It wasn’t the hard skills like belaying and hiking around that I was having trouble with, it was more the soft skills like being intentional with campers at all times as well as always being “all in” as we like to say at Camp Highland. There were staff members who just hit the ground running and had campers that were accepting Christ and asking big questions. It was just very discouraging to me because it was my second summer and I had yet to lead a camper to Christ. The problem is that that is a selfish request especially considering it isn’t and individual that saves a camper, it’s Jesus. The Enemy was just feeding me lies about how I wasn’t “good enough” or “prepared enough” to be intentional with a camper about their faith.

One of my fellow staff members would often talk about facing those lies that Satan feeds us and replacing it with scriptural truth. I found that so encouraging and began to try it out. We are so much more than our fears and doubts…scratch that…HE IS MORE than our fears, doubts, or worries, and over the course of the summer I had put my focus on how everyone else around me was doing or was better than me, and I, in my ignorance, had allowed the enemy to grab ahold of heart and tell me that I was not worthy or prepared enough to perform the work that Christ had/has called me to. I have certainly integrated this practice into my daily time with the Lord and I pray that He would continue to pour those truths over me daily as I spent time with Him.

I also just have to absolutely brag on our staff from this summer. This is only my second year having been on staff at Camp Highland but it was an absolute joy to be able to work with everyone this summer. I certainly have never seen a more beautiful representation of what the body of Christ is to look like than this summer. In times of victory we would rejoice and in times of pain or difficulty we would lift one another up with encouragement and prayer. Quite often I felt as though I was being poured into far more often than I was pouring out and that was such a reassuring and wonderful experience this summer. I firmly believe that this could be a mere glimpse of what heaven will one day be like. I also found that over the course of the year the Lord has truly worked in my heart in terms of patience. One thing I struggled with last summer was having a short temper and was quick to anger or frustrate when it came to some of the more difficult campers. This summer I found it easier to turn to love rather than anger and was able to love more deeply than before. I pray that the Lord would continue to grow that fruit in me.

Again I have never experienced more joy in a staff before. I have never sang louder, played harder, dove deeper into the Word, acted weirder, learned more, or abounded in love more than this summer and all praise can go to the Father who is responsible for it all. Lord I want to praise you and your Spirit for being ever so present this summer and ravishing the hearts of staff and campers alike and loving us like never before. Over 60 campers gave their lives to Christ this summer and what elegance that is to have been a part of a staff who so evidently showed the love of Christ to each camper that crossed their path.

There is so much more I learned about victory in the Father this summer and far too much to try and type out but I wanted to at least share some of the struggles and successes that were experienced this summer. Who knows what the Lord has in store for me this year in all honesty, all I know is that He has every moment ordained and I cannot wait to see where He takes me in the next year. I pray that the friendships that I have made will grow exponentially and that He would use them to continue to grow me and point me to You. Thank you Lord for being so INTRICATE and allowing us to dive into Your mysteries. 

Camp Highland thanks for an incredible second summer. She was so nice.

To Those Who Can’t Feel God Right Now

To Those Who Can’t Feel God Right Now

Enough

If I’m going to be honest, lately I’ve been going through a “dry season” when it comes to feeling Christ in my life. I’ve learned there are plenty of others who feel the same way as me.

I remember being in high school and going through an extremely dry season with my faith. One Sunday, everyone at my church seemed to have their hands up praising God during the worship song. Their eyes were closed and their body position made it seem like God was hanging with them more than He was hanging out with me. How rude.

Maybe, I wasn’t good enough for God to listen to me.

The other day I got frustrated when I heard someone say “God spoke to me”. Does He actually speak to you?? Where’s my burning bush, my tingling feeling of Christ?

The truth though is: I am good enough for God.

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math that doesn’t add up

math that doesn’t add up

It’s something shown time after time in the Word. Love. And not just love in the sense of caring for another person. A love that is new but also simultaneously as old as time. Love that is just. A love that knows no bounds and a love that is perfect and drives out fear (1 John 1:48). Take a moment and reflect on this parable in the gospel of Luke:

“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37

This parable is widely known and there is certainly a large number of principles that can be drawn from this, which was the purpose of Jesus using them. I am certainly no theologian by any means of the word and I am not trying to force any beliefs upon anyone in this manner. But I would like to offer some valid truth. What we see in this parable is a man who has been robbed, stripped down, and left for dead. Religious leaders of that day both passed by the man and offered Him no help at all. Then the crazy part happens. A Samaritan, considered to be one of the most hated people in this time, stops in the middle of his journey. Now the man could have just as easily kept on walking and left the man to die. That would have been the easy thing to do right? Of course! But was that what he did? Heck no it wasn’t. The Samaritan picked the man up, took him to the nearest town, and paid for him a place to stay and recuperate. Now what sense does that make?

Far too often we overlook the fact that we as Christians (before Christ) were robbed. We were stripped of everything. We were left for dead. Heck, for what we did we deserved to die. Did you ever stop and think that maybe the reason why the Samaritan took time out of his own day to help a dying man was because he had once BEEN THERE HIMSELF? Crazy to think about huh? So what’s the point of all this anyways. In a sense, the whole point is love. Now, in those times, the last person someone would think of loving would be a Samaritan right? So imagine the confusion and beauty that the dying man must have seen in the Samaritan man when he stopped to help him.

This is the type of love that Christ has shown us and has commanded us to carry out. Christ came to this Earth and died the death that we rightfully deserve so that we might one day live and live abundantly through a relationship with Him. So that love, the love that doesn’t add up. That wonderfully puzzling love. Haha I just can’t help but smile as I am typing this. The reason being that Christ’s love isn’t some quadratic formula or some integral equation that we need to solve for by determining the value for “x,” His love doesn’t have to be solved. We don’t have to try and make sense of it. All He asks of us is to not only embrace His perfect love, but to reflect it to those we come into contact with daily. This isn’t some ploy or message that I am writing for anyone else specifically but I am writing it for myself as well. In all honesty, the reason I write these posts is because these are the aspects in my own life that I need to work on desperately. I only pray that we as believers can seek after the Lord and His will in all that we do, and in the meantime, look around us and love those around us. Christ died for them too.

Don’t forget that God’s love isn’t supposed to make complete sense to us. If it were, well that’s something else entirely. Much love fam.

Your Brother in Christ

my worst nightmare

my worst nightmare

Here’s a neat story of how my Monday went.

So first I woke up 30 minutes late. Usually I am pretty good about getting up early at this point (my fifth semester having at least one 8am). I rushed downstairs to take out the trash because it had gotten full. By habit I locked the handle of the door behind me and didn’t think twice about it because my mind was somewhere else focusing on information relating to the two tests that I would have at 8am (stats) and then 10am (organic II).

It was at that moment I realized that I had goofed. I was locked out of my apartment with nothing but a bag of trash, my phone, my wallet, and a pencil. Like really of all times for this to happen? Also in case you were wondering, I did throw away the trash…

I immediately called the land lord and he was out of town. My roommate was also not there. I called my mom while I failed at attempting to open the door with my Kroger card.I could feel the stress and anxiety of the situation affecting me slowly but surely. I had to walk the 20 minutes to campus to make it to my test (my apt keys are on my car keys). I would also like to point out that this was the coldest Milledgeville had been since the school year started on top of everything else. The whole time I was walking I was trying not to completely break down. I was thinking this would be something that would happen freshman year, not almost halfway through my junior year.

I walked into my stats classroom with plenty of time to spare (actually about 7 or 8 minutes). I didn’t have a calculator for my test (it was sitting happily in my backpack on the floor of my locked apartment). Thankfully our SI had brought an extra thank the Lord (S/O to Emily for coming in clutch). Took that test, then had another class, then my organic II test at 10am. I thought that test could have gone a lot worse considering everything that happened that morning. Then I walked all the way back and the land lords wife had brought by the master key while I was in class.  If there were ever a time that the Lord was present, it was this day.

Now that I am home, after a very UNEVENTFUL 3.5 hour drive home yesterday, I have had time to reflect on the day’s events and how they have impacted me, in a spiritual sense. Throughout life we are thrown curveballs in the midst of the straight ones (baseball references are not my thing). The Lord uses those curveballs to test out our trust and reliance on Him. I am not going to lie, I was certainly not thinking about the Lord when I first was walking to class in the 32 degree morning yesterday or while I was taking my test, but afterwards I realized what He had been doing in the midst of all the angst I was experiencing. I think that it’s just very important to remember that throughout life, as we get older, we will have stories of joy and excitement and stories of tragedy and sometimes even doubt. I just pray that when tragedy or doubt strikes, that we have eyes to see the faithfulness of God and remember He is worthy of our trust, even in the waiting, even in our failures. He is still good, He is still God.

At this point, I am not mad or angry that this happened to me in the least. I am actually grateful for His provision and grace in this season we dedicate to being thankful.

prayerfully praising Him

prayerfully praising Him

I stumbled upon this prayer today: written shortly before the current semester began and I found it particularly encouraging.

“As the new school year begins, there are some things that I would like to be in prayer for. I pray that You, Lord will teach me to be vulnerable but also teachable and attentive to my surroundings. I would really pray that You will allow me to be intentional in all that I say, think, and do, and remove from me those sinful and fleshly desires that so easily entangle and prevent me from being a reflection of the Creator and His perfect Son. Without You Lord, we would be slaves to darkness. With You however, we have been given life and light. That light is not to be kept hidden, but to be shown to others. Lord, allow me to shine that light, even in the darkest places. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would fill me so much that I can do nothing but pour it out upon others. Lord I come before You humbly to ask these things if they are in accordance with Your will.”

I know that it’s kind of weird to read a prayer, well trust me, typing one is even more strange. Written after this past summer, I felt as though this was what the Lord wanted me to dwell on over the course of this semester. This prayer, I feel, is certainly a true reflection of what I have been striving for this semester. Of course I have failed in some aspects, but others I have not. Due to His grace and mercy, when failure occurs, I need only to look to Him for reconciliation and then strength to continue. I only pray and continue to pray that the Lord will continue to teach me and mold me each day into the man that He has called me to be.

I read today Psalm 100, which is an invitation to worship. Prayer can be a form of worship as well. Several imperatives that structure this psalm encourage us to engage in what else we have been invited to do along with worship:

  • Shout triumphantly to the Lord, actively alerting others to the significance of the gospel.
  • Serving the Lord with gladness
  • Coming into His presence with singing
  • Acknowledging that Yaweh is God
  • Entering His gates
  • Giving thanks to Him

“Yaweh is good and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.” Psalm 100:5

Remember these things tonight and allow your heart to dwell on them. I pray that we remember what the Lord is teaching us when He commands us to shout, serve, sing, acknowledge, enter, and give thanks.