Friday, July 31, 2009

It makes me feel intelligent

Listening to: "Love is Waiting" by Brooke Fraser

It's late.
I'm bored.
I should go to bed.

Since when do I do that, though? No, instead, I am sitting here reading You Suck at Craigslist, while laughing hysterically at the complete stupidity of some people. (Like I said, it's late. Some of them really are funny, though.) For instance, the person who is selling a new kind of surf-training tool (a.k.a. an ironing board?). Or maybe a touching true story about twin roosters is more your thing. Acrobatic midgets, maybe? Oh, how about non-creepy men looking to pay models in peanut butter?

Yeah. These people really give me hope for the future of humanity.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"And now I sing freedom for all of my days..."

God has taught me a lot this summer. There have been the usual (though more intense) lessons in trust and patience, but over the past couple of weeks, He has started to show me freedom and worship in a different way than He ever has before.

I'm not really sure how to explain it, but over the past year (and maybe longer than that...), I've struggled a lot with certain aspects of Christianity, and more specifically, the Pentecostal church. I guess I've been trying to figure out what is genuinely God and what is stuff that we've just thrown in along the way. It's trickier than you'd think, especially when you've grown up with certain things all of your life to the point where it seems natural. It's just a hard thing to deal with because it's about God. There are so many differing opinions and theological standpoints out there, and it's so hard to know which is right and which is wrong. I mean, who can you really trust about things like this except for God Himself? Anyone else could be wrong. I guess I just get scared that I'm going to be deceived by someone with the best intentions. It's something I've been praying about...a lot!

Anyway, so here I am in the middle of all of this confusion, and I head off to work a Church of God-based youth camp for three weeks. Whoa. If I didn't know it already, I am now positive that I am definitely not your typical Church of God college student. (Actually, I don't really claim any denomination these days. I just always grew up in the COG, so...yeah.) Even more than that, I'm not your typical Pentecostal college student. It's not that I don't believe in that sort of thing—I do. My views on it are different from those of most Pentecostals, though, and so is my worship style. When I was at camp, it was the norm to worship in a more, um, active manner, for lack of a better word. Don't get me wrong—I think that style of worship is fine as long it's genuine and done in the right context. However, personally, I have never, ever, ever been comfortable with jumping or shouting or anything else of that nature. This has always been kind of a weird thing for me, because I've always grown up around it and it has kind of been presented to me as the "right," most genuine form of worship, so I've always felt a little guilty for not being comfortable with it. (I've always heard the, "If you were at a football game, you'd be jumping and screaming and full of excitement for your team! Why can't you do that for God?!" My mental response: "Umm, actually, no. I don't do that at football games or anywhere else.") Anyway, so while I was working camp, I felt some pressure to worship in a way that did not come naturally for me. This was more on the emotional side of things, but I guess I focused a little too much on how I was physically expressing my worship, and all this led me to was a whole bunch of frustration and not much focus on God at all. I just couldn't help but think that if I just stood there and worshipped quietly, people would assume I wasn't worshpping at all. They sang a lot about freedom and in Pentecostal churches, freedom is usually equated with these more physical forms of worship. As I stood there, though, God started to show me that if it wasn't coming from my heart, then it wasn't genuine, and was, in fact, another form of bondage. I could hear Him saying to me, "Be still and know that I am God," over and over. If my worship was wrapped up in other people's expectations, then it wasn't really worship at all. He helped me realize that maybe freedom for me was worshipping in a more quiet way. I finally had to stop what I was doing completely, refocus on God, and just be with Him. In that moment, I finally felt at peace about the whole thing. I finally felt like it was okay for me to let go and not be tied to these things anymore. It was so relieving for me, to know that God was telling me that it was okay!

So. I still don't know where I stand on certain issues, and I'm still trying to sort through what's for real and what's not. But I don't feel guilty anymore. I'm me—I have to figure out what God wants for me and how He wants me to live. His plans for me are not going to be the same as those He has for my parents or my friends or anyone else. My personality and gifts are not the same as those of others. I have to find out how I fit into all of this, and it has to be okay that it's not going to be the same as everyone else. I know not everyone will agree with me, especially not on this issue, but I'm finally okay with that. I am so glad that God has given me peace about this. I can finally feel free.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Camp Chronicles, Volume 2

Working camp, round two.

Polar opposite of week one. I had so much fun. I got to see old friends, meet new ones (yes!), and I went from having basically no interaction with the kids to spending 24/7 with them. They assigned me to be a co-counselor for the week, so I had sixteen 9- to 11-year-olds to hang out with, along with another counselor who just happens to be the same age as me (and is transferring to my college next fall. Sweet).

Let me just say that this week made me immensely grateful that I am out of that pre-teen stage of life. Ugh. It's like this weird stage in between child and teenager, so you basically end up with little kids with hormones. How fun. Between the bouts of homesickness ("It''s just that...I miss my shower." "You what?") and trying to get everyone showered and ready in time for dinner (this happened a grand total of one time. Apparently, punctuality is not a priority for 10-year-olds), it was definitely an adventure. Also, note to self: Don't tell your campers how old you are. On the first day, they were all asking, and so when the other counselor and I said, "Nineteen," they were all like, "Oh, I'm glad we got, like, teenagers! That means we can do whatever we want!" Um, negative there, little friends. This sadly meant that I had to be mean a couple of times, and I just don't like that. :(

Anyway, I am now home for the weekend and am heading back on Monday. Once again, I have no idea what I'll be doing, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see what adventures await me...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Birthday cake and camp food

Hi. It's my birthday today.

As strange as it is to think that I'm nineteen, what's really getting me is the fact that I only have a year to go until I hit twenty. Whoa. How the heck did I get this far in life already...? Half the time, I feel like I should still be in sixth grade or something (though I am immensely thankful that I am, in fact, not still in sixth grade. Once was enough).

Aaaaanyway. I spent Monday through Thursday working week numero uno of camp. Usually, working camp is fun and one of the highlights of my year. This camp was more like going through purgatory. For one thing, I get there, and the only people I know are a couple of guys that I met last year. Don't get me wrong—I love those guys, and I was really, really glad to see them. However, considering I had to share a cabin with girls, it would have been nice to see a familiar female face around. (Eventually, I did find two girls that I knew, but it didn't matter all that much because they were in different cabins.) Strike one. Strike two, I discover that I have been assigned to kitchen staff, which was entirely unexpected. And, okay, being on kitchen staff equals a ton of work and getting up a whole lot earlier than everyone else. Honestly, I don't mind the work, but (and this brings me to strike number three) if you don't have a good group to work with, you have a 75% chance of committing suicide before the week is over. Luckily, I was in the other 25%, but I won't say I didn't consider it! Everyone on this kitchen staff fell into one of three categories: #1, I completely disliked them (and I do mean completely. That's saying something, coming from me), #2, I liked them well enough, but I didn't really "click" with them that well (lack of things in common, I don't know. Of course, it's possible that this could change), or #3, they were pretty cool, but happened to be a guy who was like, obsessed with me, and was really overbearing about it. Considering I was stuck (really—stuck) with these people for about 12 hours out of every day...yeah. It got so bad, especially with those obsessive guys. I honestly almost cried one day. I felt harassed and totally trapped, because I could not get away from them. It was miserable. This on top of the fact that I hardly ever got to see my friends from last year (who I actually like) AND that I barely got any interaction with the kids (aside from the endless, "Chocolate or white?" Gotta love USDA, requiring us to force every single person to take a milk)... It was bad.

That being said, the next two weeks should be a whole lot better. I specifically requested to not be on kitchen staff, so hopefully that will be granted. Also, some of my other friends from last year who didn't work this past week are supposed to be coming back for next week, so I'll get to see them. :)

Stay tuned—you never know what interesting stories may pop up. This is my life, after all.