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Things I’ve Learned as a Working Girl (So Far)

After eighteen years of being a little girl who writes every day (of course, there were a few years in there when I couldn’t write…), I’ve begun working full-time for an industrial supply company; I weed the grounds, inventory clothes, help in the office, basically do whatever odd job I’m asked to do. I’ve been there for two weeks now. This has been such a strange but eye-opening experience for me already, and I thought I should share some of those lessons!

I work at the same place as my dad. We’re in different roles/departments, but I take my breaks with him and it is such a blessing to see him more than I used to. Something working with him has made me realize is just how hard he has always worked for me. He gives everything he has so that I can have a good life! I’ve heard people say that about their parents, and I’ve believed it about mine, but it’s different to actually see it. I see him sweat, struggle, ache, and I am fully aware that the only reason he does this is for our family. I appreciate him so deeply, even more than I used to, and I didn’t know I could!

The weeding I’ve had to do is a bit intense (thankfully it’s almost done!), so I always look forward to when my dad calls me in for our break. A couple days into this job, it was a hot, humid day and I wasn’t super positive about the work I was doing out in it. In fact, I was quite negative. I didn’t know what time it was, but I knew my dad would tell me when it was time to rest a little, and I dearly looked forward to that! Suddenly I realized: this is an analogy! In times when it’s hard to persevere, I need to remember that my Dad is coming to get me. I just have to wait for Him and believe that His timing is good. Did I ever doubt my dad would come? No! Why should I doubt the Lord’s faithfulness? He comes, I just don’t know what the specific time will be. But He does come.

Yes, pulling all these weeds has been tedious and not something I look forward to, but Jesus chose to speak through this! One day as I was working, a certain weed was a bit harder to pull than normal. I yanked, grunted, yanked some more, only to find that I just couldn’t pull it; I had to break it off as far down as I could and leave a little stub in the ground. Jesus pointed out, “Sin is a lot like that.” He’s a pretty smart guy, Jesus is. Those weeds had been growing all year and no one had tended to them, therefore they eventually grew taller and spread farther so that my position had to be created! How often do we do that in our hearts? You see something in you that shouldn’t be there, but it’s so small that you think you can leave it alone. Yet, with time, it will grow and spread into something that is so much harder to overcome. He had mentioned that to me before– uproot your fleshy habits, even if they seem small and harmless. I must let go of even the “tiny” vices in my heart.

I’ve also just been relying on Jesus more, since all of this is so new to me. I love being close to Him, and am working on investing in our relationship even when I’m tired. He was, after all, kind enough to send me this job to help pay for college! I love you, Jesus, you are so gracious and loving.

I think that I am the only person at my workplace who knows Jesus. I’d been praying for a way to be a home missionary, since I’m a homeschooled writer and don’t see too many people, and then I started working here, so maybe this is my answer? I would love your prayers for His presence and His light at my workplace! Everyone there is kind to me (AND watches their language around me, wahoo!), so I think He could use me somehow before the summer is over. This is an adventure I didn’t expect, but I am grateful for it and excited to be on it with Him!

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A Eulogy of Sorts

     This is going to be a little different. Maybe you don’t want to hear it. But maybe you need to.


     This is what has been on my mind this week. I wondered why I was feeling hurt, but then I learned about what’s been going on– devastation in Oklahoma; Zach Sobiech’s passing; the anniversary of Maria Chapman’s passing; the suicide of a man I’ve never met but now call my brother, named Jordan Watts; even fictional deaths are hurting me, like when I watched  “War Horse” and read  “Les Miserables.” I’ve prayed that Jesus would allow me to feel again, and also that I wouldn’t ignore those hurting in the world, and He’s been answering those prayers, but this wasn’t the way I expected Him to answer. I didn’t think it would mean that I would be in a state of sadness for people I’ve never met. But He continues to remind me that it’s an inkling of what He feels; it’s a way for me to be close to Him. He mourns when we are hurting; our heartbreak and pain are the causes for His. He knows what we feel, because He feels it. 

     This piece of writing today is spontaneous; I didn’t plan on writing it and I don’t quite know the message I want to share. But I just feel like I need to do something to mourn for them, to honor them in someway.

Zach Sobiech.

His story moves me to tears, but who he was makes them fall. He was just a little bit younger than me. These things I’ve been dreading, like graduating and going to college, are things that he’ll never get to do. It was like a slap in the face when I heard his story. What business do I have being ungrateful about growing up?! Thank you, Zach; I will rejoice in this crazy season, because you would have. Your music and your heart and your outlook have moved me so much. I am encouraged by you to love everyone I can, while I can. I hope that I’ll get to meet you in eternity; maybe we can make music together.

Jordan Watts.

  I am so crushed. Although I didn’t know him and hadn’t even heard of him until this weekend, he was my brother; he used his gifts to create beautiful music and paintings, he gave his hands to Jesus and He used them! Now the world has lost him. Please, look at this man and see that your gifts are not wasted when you give them to the Lord! Your life has so much value, you contribute to the world, He isn’t done with you! Thank you, Jordan, for what you gave. Your music is amazing and it hurts me that no more will come, because I would have been a dedicated fan. I know that when I go home, I’ll meet you, and I so look forward to it. I am so glad that you no longer feel any pain. I miss you, even though we’ve never met.

      To those who are still trying to breathe after losing someone they love: I am praying for you. I ache for you. You are not alone. The Lord is there with you, crying with you right now, and He will heal you. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

                               Listen to “Clouds” by Zach Sobiech | Listen to “The Notebook” by Jordan Watts

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Through The Valley

In the classic allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, we follow the life of Christian as he makes his long and difficult journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Allegorically, the story is about a follower of Jesus and their spiritual life. This connection allows the reader to enjoy a novel while they learn about themself and gain a bit of understanding.

Perhaps the most significant trial Christian faces on his quest is in the valleys: the Valley of Humiliation, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

As Christian enters the first valley, he fears for his life and wonders if he should turn back– until he remembers there is no armor on his back. His armor will only protect him if he continues to move forward. This is a hidden reminder for us: we are safe as long as we keep seeking Jesus.

Through The Valley     Christian’s fear is not irrational, for when he is a little ways through the Valley of Humiliation he meets Apollyon, the evil ruler of the City of Destruction. Apollyon tries to convince Christian to turn back, but when Christian refuses, Apollyon begins to scream and yell and remind Christian of all the mistakes he’s made on his journey so far. A battle ensues, and while Apollyon wounds Christian many times, he can not kill him. Christian is finally able to use his sword and Scripture so that Apollyon flees from him. Christian then praises God because he is alive, and he is sent leaves from the tree of life which heal him immediately. We can remember this scene when we are being attacked by the enemy: he wants us to turn back. When we don’t, he discourages us and reminds us of all our failures. If we still stand firm, he will hurt us as much as he possibly can. However– he cannot destroy us. If we believe in and declare truth, he will leave us. Truth wounds him. Keep praising God; He will heal you.

Sadly, the pain is not over yet. There is still the Valley of the Shadow of Death, a worse place than the Valley of Humiliation, darker, narrower, close to hell, solitary; but Christian must walk through it, because the way to the Celestial City is through it. Christian continues to walk, but barely. He hears whispers of blasphemies, thinking they sprung from his own mind; he can’t sway to the right or left or he will fall; he can barely see. Christian has almost perished from sheer pain, when he hears the voice of another in the valley declaring a promise, Scripture. This voice is Christian’s encouragement, and he survives the valley. Looking at it from a distance after he clears it, he sees that his imagination had nothing to do with the danger: it was real, all of it. This is a place we will all walk, as well, if we do not turn back. We must walk through it, because Heaven is on the other side. It’s painful and dark, and it’s all dangerously real, but take comfort! You are not the only one to walk there. Claim Scripture and you will make it through the valley.

This experience, for Christian, was not simply necessary but faith-building. Whenever he endured more hardship on his journey, he would remember the valleys and say, “I survived that. Jesus kept me safe there. He’ll save me here, too.” The valley is a painful place we have no choice but to walk through, but we will survive and gain strength for the rest of our lives. Keep walking, keep declaring, keep hoping.

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Breaking the Darkness at Generation Unleashed 2013

My adventure to Generation Unleashed in Portland, Oregon this weekend was just that: an adventure. I took promises with me on the way there, and I took even more back home.

taken February 2, 2013At first it was hard. I wasn’t feeling what everyone else seemed to, which is normal for me, but this time I was just sick of it. I was furious and didn’t want advice or encouragement– I wanted CHANGE. In the midst of my rage, Jesus was beating my heart fiercely to go ask my youth pastor to pray for me. I obeyed, and AJ was so compassionate and gracious even though I was sour and angry; he spoke into my heart (although at the time I wasn’t hearing any of it) and did indeed pray for me. He showed me Jesus’ love even when I wasn’t receptive. A stranger did the same thing during worship, a beautiful girl my age who simply had me on her heart and asked if she could pray for me. Jesus was reaching out to my coldness right from the start, before I even realized it.

Worship was a mountain to climb. I realized how easy it is for me to forget that worship is about who He is, NOT how I feel. I had to re-learn how to really worship Him. My intention going into worship should not be to find comfort or be healed, but to thank Him for all I have and express how blown away I am by who He is. It’s not for me, it’s for Him. I took this note during Pastor Matt Bushard’s message:

He doesn’t just make you feel better– He changes your whole life. Comfort isn’t the point. The point is being MADE NEW, moving forward.

That was so powerful to me, cut right through me. I’ve been seeking comfort, not true change. In my darkest hours, when I’m begging Jesus to save me, I wake up feeling a little better and count that as healing. It isn’t! It’s comfort. Comfort is insanely good; Jesus wants to comfort me, and He does, but that isn’t His main concern. He doesn’t want to simply make me feel better and smooth over my problems. He wants to work a deep change in me and my situation. And that’s what I’ve really wanted all this time! He has been comforting me my whole life, but rarely do I let Him change me. I’ve focused too much on the message, not the Man, and therefore I have been unsatisfied, because only He satisfies. Change is what I need, and now I’m ready to let Him work in me.

I’ve been in this place of unfeeling and confusion for over two years, never sure what to think about it. So many have told me that this is the desert, but I wondered if this was just the way I was wired, a curse I had to live with. On Saturday, February 2nd, 2013, I received a promise, as well as the fulfillment of another. At first I thought I’d had a bittersweet weekend. I enjoyed being at the conference, everything about it, but I wished I’d been touched. I walked away with great notes and songs, but no healing like I wanted. Later in the day, I’d stewed over a few things: I think Jesus promised me that this is not my curse. I will be redeemed from this someday. I’m not eternally stuck where I am; He will save me and there is currently a purpose behind the pain. Pastor Dylan Jones had a sermon all about it that morning. I answered the altar call without hesitation. We kneeled at the front and Dylan prayed over us. As that was happening, I heard a girl crying; I looked and she was right next to me. I shifted until I was next to her and just put my hand on her shoulder-blade. It was strangely comforting to see so many of us, all in a storm, all seeking Him. I’m beginning to see how far I’ve come in thistaken February 1, 2013 place; I’m remembering everything and seeing Him there now. I read the promises He gave me back then and how they’re all coming to pass. He is good; He has been loving me all this time. I need to remember all of this. Do you remember my Polar Express symbolism/promise a few weeks ago? You’ll never guess: it was true. I’m “rainboot boy”, and I received assurance that I’ll be okay AND the gift of not being alone. I’ll explain the 2nd part a little further: firstly, the altar call. Secondly, the day before this one on the trip, my youth group went to the mall for a few hours. I didn’t have a desire to shop and wasn’t connecting with anybody, so I sat at a table with a youth leader, Judy, and we both read and wrote. During that time I just had a deep desire to call my best friend, Sierra. I did, and left a voicemail. When I got home, I heard she’d called back, so I called HER back– and we talked for over half an hour, just sharing and encouraging and praying. She identified with many things I said and gave me such comfort. I was flabbergasted! I had kind and fun friends in my youth group, but none understood or went as deep with me as Sierra did.

Generation Unleashed was life-changer, as always. Thank you, Jesus. All your promises are sure.

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The Shield of Faith

Captain America's ShieldFaith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) Do we have this kind of faith? I believe completely in Jesus: who He is, what He says about Himself, what He does and has done– all of it. I have no doubts that I believe in Him in that way. The faith I struggle with more is faith that He’ll do what I hope for. I know that He can, that He will if it works within the beautiful plan He has for me, but my constant question is if I’m asking according to His will. I hope and pray that He’ll let me see a friend, for instance; but what if seeing that friend at that time would be harmful to the plan? Should I put faith into those prayers anyway? This whole thing is over-thinking, and I can’t be the only person who does it. Have you ever felt like this before? Like you have faith in Him, but not what you’re asking? I think you’ll be encouraged by this, since I recently was, myself:


Paul, speaking of Abraham, said, No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. (Romans 4:20 & 21) Adding to that, the writer of Hebrews said, By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11) Are you sure that what you’re praying for will happen? Not always. BUT, are you sure that God is faithful? Yes. And that’s what counts. Doubts may come, but as long as you believe in Him admist those doubts, your faith is there.

Faith is the fuel of righteousness. It’s what the righteous man lives by, what gives him humility and compassion, what keeps him standing, what counts. (Verses: Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 11:20, Romans 12:3, Galatians 5:6) Remember that righteous deeds are empty without faith? It comes back around: faith without acting on it is useless. If your faith in Jesus doesn’t instill in you a deep desire to be obedient to Him or to serve other people, it’s as good as dead. James says, Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18) It isn’t possible to have a growing faith that changes things without action. Righteous works are the visible products of faith. Paul even says, Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

Faith was what Jesus prayed for us to have the most. In Luke 22:31 & 32, a verse He has used to speak to me, He says, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. It’s a gift He’s given us. We would never have it unless He did what He did. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17) It’s why we can be so close to Him. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith is a shield. What does this shield do?

  1. It is the first thing you grab when heading into battle. For those who aren’t nerds like me and haven’t seen How to Train Your Dragon a least ten times, the first piece of advice the dragon-slayers-in-training receive is to find a shield if they only have enough time to choose one weapon. The shield is VITAL in battle. Even if you don’t have an axe or a sword or any kind of weapon, your shield not only protects you, but also if an enemy is close enough you can hit them with it. You’ve seen what Captain America can do with a shield! Your faith is the most important thing you have in this battle. If you’re without it, you’re already at a disadvantage. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all. (Isaiah 7:9) God calls Himself is our shield, and THAT is why we’re safe! You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. (Psalm 119:114)
  2. It is overall defense anywhere you need it. The other pieces of armor we’ve been talking about, like the breastplate, are good, necessary pieces of armor. Their down side? They can only shield so much. Where your armor is lacking, your shield can compensate. Likewise, faith fills in what’s lacking in your righteousness, etc. You aren’t perfect, and Jesus realizes that. That’s why He came: to deliver what we couldn’t. Don’t be afraid when attacks come if you have faith. You’re covered. We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:39)
  3. It is power. Faith is what Jesus had in fullness. Listen in to this conversation between Jesus and a few of his followers (found in Matthew 17): The disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it [a demon] out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” I heard once that the word Jesus used for “little” in the original language didn’t mean “small” as much as it meant “short in direction.” Faith is big; how far do you let it go? Love is the reason you have it in the first place, His love for you and now your love for Him. Let love propel you forward. If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 1:6 & 7) Your faith will be tested, but not to worry– you’re safe as long as you stand firm. This is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. (1 John 5:4)

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Born into The Fight: Discovering Spiritual War

You know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.  -Romans 13:11-14

I’ve been looking at life through the lens of battle for about a year now. It began when I was really struggling inside for reasons I didn’t see. I wondered what was wrong with me, who I was struggling against. I started calling it The War Inside, not only because that’s the name of a fantastic Switchfoot song but also because it best described how I felt. After awhile, my best friend would ask me how I was doing, and my reply would be, “The War Inside.” (Now we joke, “How are you?”, “I’m good!.”, “How’s your soul?”, “IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL…” Haha! Anyway…) I was so dejected, almost defeated, every day. Then Jesus told me this:

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)

He changed my life with that one sentence. That’s why I was so weary and feeling beat down– my soul was fighting HARD at that time, because it was getting closer to Him that it ever had been and my flesh was NOT happy about it! That’s when I stopped letting myself be a victim and instead became a warrior. I’m fighting for us now.

Jesus wants us to see the reality of spiritual battles. They can be inside us or around us, but they’re always about us. We have an enemy who absolutely despises us and the One we fight for, and he does anything he can to hurt us. When I would read the Bible a few years ago, I thought I couldn’t relate to verses that ask God to crush our enemies because no one really hated me. Now I know I have an enemy that I can’t see, that all he has for me is hatred. He doesn’t want me so he can love me, but so he can cause me every kind of pain imaginable. Jesus lets me fight him, and it’s hard and sometimes hurts, but He’s fighting with me.

I don’t even have to ask. I know that in some area of your life is a war you can feel. We all share that, because we’re all worth something. Are you ready? Jesus gives us a list of the things we need in Ephesians 6:10-18 in order to survive, and over the next few weeks we’re going to take a look at them together.

     Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness of the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

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Uncontained God: My Experience at Church Camp 2012

     I love camp. It’s a big part of my testimony, so naturally it has a place in my heart. I go back year after year because I always go home with something I didn’t have before. This year was the epitome of that. I don’t feel a lot too often, no extremes, so I had to rely on what I KNEW (not what I felt) to experience what I did. And you know what? I think I took away more I could build on at home than I ever have from other events. I didn’t see it as a way to feel better; I looked at camp as a place to find answers. It may have been a low from a feelings standpoint, but it was a mountain top for lessons learned. I’ve told these stories many times already, because they need to be heard. Now let me share them with you.

     It was the third night. We were in chapel, and Pastor Brandon Berg had just completed his message about the Holy Spirit. An altar call was happening for those who had never been filled with the Holy Spirit, and I was part of it. I hear Jesus speaking to me in many ways quite frequently, and I know He works in and through me, but I’ve never felt what I thought having His Spirit in me should feel like– no tongues, no crazy bursts of extreme joy, no healing gift, nothing like that– so I believed I was without Him. It killed me. The previous night I literally ran to Rachel and sobbed in her about it, not for the first time. This altar call was a huge deal to me. I stood there in the crowd as the band played, my hands cupped in front of me, the only word I could muster being, “Please…”. It’s hard for me to cry, but I almost did. I felt like I’d never have Him in me, that what I was doing was a waste of time.

     The boy in front of me started slamming the floor with his palms, screaming inhuman screams. Immediately I knew: a demon.

     My biggest fear is demons. Jesus has helped me face and conquer so many of my fears, but not this one. Can you imagine what I was thinking as youth pastors began to hold down and pray for the boy in front of me? That’s the craziest part: I had no trace of fear in my body. I reached out my arm toward him and began praying for him! I am shaking as I write this because I am still blown away by His overwhelming power! Not only did He calm my spirit so I could pray for the boy, but He saved that boy! He’s free now, full of the HOLY Spirit and carrying a life-changing story! I don’t know how long it took, but God won! The war is real, and this was a victory! And not only did He save the boy, but He protected everyone else. When I was praying for him, a Scripture popped into my head: it was a parable Jesus shared, where He said you can sweep a house clean but unless you fill it with good things the mess will just come back stronger. He got me to pray that the demon would have no one else to enter as I prayed for the boy in front of me, and He answered “yes” to both prayers. I believe He filled everyone in that room.

     But I didn’t know that then. After they carried the red and sweaty but safe boy to a bed in the nurse’s room, a pastor told us to head to the fire pit. We were going to burn our sheets of paper from the first night, when we’d talked about our new lives having no secrets; we were supposed to write them down, but I couldn’t even write in words what I’d done because I feared someone would see. I started to file out with everyone else, but I knew I couldn’t. I knew I was supposed to stay in the chapel. I waited until everyone left, then went to sit on the floor where the boy had been saved. Cross-legged with my hands still cupped in front of me, I started praying and thinking… and hoping. I was alone for a time, but eventually a leader from my youth group, Tiffany, found me. She was the one I confided in that first night, “I CAN’T give away my secrets! No one can know, or they won’t see me the same!”, and she told me if I ever wanted to let them go to find her, no matter what she was doing. She now asked me how I was doing. I told her that I was still empty. She sat down next to me and was silent for a few seconds.

     “Maybe,” she said, “He just filled you differently. Maybe He did a long time ago.” I know that now. I may not have felt anything extreme, but somewhere along the way I asked the Holy Spirit into me, and He came. I want you to know this: He can fill you and you might not even know! If you’re like me and you don’t feel too much anymore, but you’ve begged and begged Him to enter you, and no matter how hard you try you can’t feel Him there, let peace overtake you. He’s there. We’re a unique bunch, but we exist, and He gives as just as much as he gives everyone else. Jesus has told us that our hearts are deceptive, and we’ve believed Him, so He’s teaching us to rely on HIM and not what we feel. If you’ve asked Him to fill you with His Spirit, believe He has! Look for the fruit of Him in your life, and you’ll see Him.

     After that, I asked Tiffany if I could tell her my secrets. She answered, “If you’re ready.” I knew I was, and I told her. We both ended up crying, and she spoke into my situation and prayed for me. I expected to be so shame-filled once she knew, but I wasn’t. I realized that I was free from or dealing with all I’d told her, that those things didn’t define me anymore. We went down to the fire pit, where almost everyone was about to leave. I stood in front of the fire with my paper, wondering how to throw it in so no one would see me (silly Tessa, I know!), but when someone next to me tossed theirs, I felt better about being late. I tossed mine, and– it landed in the ashes, away from the fire. I was FURIOUS! I thought, “Are you kidding?! My secrets aren’t going to burn away?!” I stared at it in my anger. Then something amazing happened: it began smoking. It caught fire anyway. It burned slowly and painfully. Jesus would take my secrets from me, no matter what, and He gave me my own little miracle to prove that to me.

     That insane night ended for me right before I fell asleep. I was lying in my bunk, cuddling my stuffed poodle in the dark. Back at the chapel, before the boy started screaming, I was knocking in the air on a figurative door, begging Jesus to come out to me. I thought He never had, but in the few seconds before I fell asleep an image flashed before my eyes, not even a second long but clearly able to be seen: an open door. He told me, “I’m out, Tessa. I already was. You’re knocking on an open door. I’m right here.” I then fell asleep. I drew my open door the next day while hanging out with buddies at the art tables all afternoon.

     I found joy inside me. It was there, but I didn’t recognize it because I had the wrong picture of it in my head. I had some great, deep conversation with Judy, another youth leader, about many things inside me the next day, and we discovered that ever since Jesus saved me, I’ve been looking for the same feeling I felt in that moment. NOTHING in this life will compare to that! I have to stop looking for joy in one specific form and instead see it in all its different glories! I hope this has touched you in some way. If you doubt God’s power, if you think you’re without Him even when you’ve begged, if you wonder why you don’t seem to have any joy, I hope you are comforted and opened by this story Jesus wrote for me. The theme of camp this year was “Uncontained”, and I don’t think they could have anticipated how telling that would become.