Saturday, July 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Papa!

On June 13, 2013 I received a phone call I hoped I would never have to take. I answered the call and listened to my mom’s voice on the other end that was covered in tears. She could barely get the words out but she told me that my Papa had passed away. I don’t know that I can put the emotion I felt into words, but I immediately felt so many different feelings: shock, grief, sadness, and heartbrokenness.

It has been a few weeks since I lost my Papa and I have spent that time reflecting on the time I got to spend with him and all of the many things the Lord has taught me through this tough time. This blog post has been on my heart for the past weeks and I found it appropriate to share my story today, which would have been his 88th birthday (which is a special day for many reasons).

I have always believed the Lord’s timing is perfect and I still believe that, but in this case it was hard to fully grasp that truth. I knew my Papa was not in the best health and had been suffering, but I never believed he would be taken to Heaven this quickly. I guess there is never really a good time for anything like this to happen and hearing the news blew me away. I told so many people that I believed the timing was perfect by the Lord and as I began to endure the days after his passing I realized more and more that this was the truth.

As crazy as this may sound to some, the passing of my Papa was God’s way of answering my prayers. As many of you know, I have worked camp for the past five summers and so I spend them away from home. I thought summer six would be no different and I planned to again return to camp. One problem: summer classes. My summer plans quickly changed and I honestly was bummed about it. I have been praying this summer that God would physically show me why He had me stay at home for the summer. I knew that one reason was for summer classes, but I felt like there was something bigger that I just wasn’t seeing. Little did I know that a Thursday afternoon phone call would answer that prayer for me. It was through the loss of my grandfather that the Lord literally showed me why He had me home for the summer. I will be the first to say that I would have loved for him to have answered that prayer in so many other ways, but I am thankful He gave me my answer and a peace about a time in my life I was struggling through. Because I was home for the summer, I was able to immediately be beside my family and I had the time I needed to grieve the loss of someone so special and influential in my life. I love that the Lord can take such tough and difficult times in our lives and transform them to teach us new things and grow us as children of God. He did exactly that for me and I am so thankful He did so.

While the days following, and even the current days, were and are tough I was so pleasantly surprised by the continuous things the Lord taught me and did in my life. I believe that tough times in life are true tests of friendship and for me it was no different. I was blown away by the generosity that was shown to my family and me during this time. I know I was not able to personally thank each of you but from the bottom of my heart, I thank you and love each of you that did so much for me. Thank you for all of the food, cards, Facebook wall posts, text messages, and for simply being there. I can never thank you all enough and I am forever indebted to those of you that helped me through. One thing I loved about the experience was the opportunities it brought our family to bond and love on one another. I constantly said that I believe there is something so special about hard times like this because families bond in a way that nothing else could have created. It was so nice to be surrounded by my incredible family and I truly believe we all bonded in a way that will be forever remembered. We grew closer, wrapped our arms around each other, shared memories, and grew tighter as a unit. I know that is what Papa would have wanted and He was looking down on us the whole time.

In closing, I would just like to share some of my favorite memories I think about when I think of my Papa. One thing I will always remember is the man of God my Papa was. He was a retired Baptist preacher who served in the ministry for over 55 years. That blows me away and I constantly pray that I can be half the man of God he was. If I can do that, I will be doing quite well. It was evident that he loved Jesus with every ounce of his heart and he showed that in all that he did. I want to be just like that. This past week, I celebrated my spiritual birthday on July 3rd, just ten years ago. When I started my relationship with Christ, I knew whom I wanted to baptize me. On this day, July 6th, which is Papa’s birthday, my Papa baptized my sister and I together. I still remember that day and it will be one I tell my children about one day. I always remember him saying that was one of the best birthday presents he was ever given.

My grandparents were married for 69 years. Let me say that again: 69 years. I am proud to say that because so many couples today don’t even stay married for 69 days. My grandparents met at a young age, dated for three weeks and were then married. The rest is history. One thing I can say about both my grandparents is that Christ was at the forefront of the marriage. They loved each other through everything and I hope to one day love my future wife as much as my Papa loved my grandma. I could go on and on about this one, but I think the 69 years speaks for itself.

I will never forget Papa’s humor. He always knew how to brighten my day or anyone’s day for that matter. He always knew just what to say to make someone smile and it always worked. I feel like our relationship was very “humorous” and I love remembering those memories. Out of the four grandchildren, I can confidently say that I was the most picked on by Papa. I don’t mean that in a bad way, because it was just part of our relationship. I smile looking back and remembering being picked on by Papa and I admire the love he had for life in general.

As you can tell, my Papa has had such a huge impact on my life. I don’t say this about a lot of people but I can say that I am who I am today because of my Papa. He set an example I hope to follow and he will forever have a very special place in my heart. I know that I do not have to say goodbye to him because I know where he is right now. More than that, I know that I will get to see him again one day.

Happy Birthday Papa! I love you!

Holding Open His Door,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Life: 2013

Over the past few days, I have spent much time pondering over 2012 and all that it brought me. I was listening to a Pandora station recently and heard the old song "Blessed Be Your Name." For those of you that know that song, you know it's old; it takes me back to middle school youth group days. However, I worshipped along and really began to think about the lyrics. So many times I get caught up in songs and just sing along, but never really get what that song is really all about. I listened and got to the bridge and I was full of emotion as the words appeared so powerful to me. The lyrics say:

"You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name"

As I heard these words, they became so real to me. I felt as if I had written these lyrics to so perfectly describe the year of 2012. Throughout my year, the Lord took things away from me, but He also gave me some incredible things. But at the end of this year and the beginning of a new one, all that matters is my heart has chosen to say, Blessed be the name of the Lord! I challenge you to do the same. Regardless of what you have been through, regardless of what you have lost, and regardless of what you may have been given, allow your life to be a blessing to the Lord and allow your heart to say that simple phrase. 

I spent some time creating a bucket list for the year of 2013. I am so excited to start tackling new goals, projects, and excited to make changes in my life. Change is always good and I can always do some improving in so many areas in my life. Here is my top 10 list for 2013: 

1. Read my Bible every day. 
2. Journal daily. 
3. Eat more healthy and exercise. 
4. Find a place to serve in children's ministry. 
5. Make new and true friendships. 
6. Try new things and check things off my bucket list. 
7. Keep my room clean more. 
8. Do more things around the house. 
9. Make All As. 

Check back as I blog throughout my year. See what things I am completing on this list and hear how the Lord is working in my life! Thanks for listening! 

Holding Open His Door, 


Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Highlight #1: Kids Kamp


Need I say more? I remember praying at the beginning of this year and praying specifically for what I would do ministry wise this summer. I had no idea what the Lord had planned but I literally had to let it go and place it in His hands. Little did I know, he would answer every prayer I prayed and blow me away with the summer of a lifetime. I got to spend three months in Birmingham, Alabama serving as a Kids Kamp director at Shades Mountain Baptist Church. For those of you that know me, you know that I love camp ministry and I was so amazed with how the Lord gave me the dream job through this ministry. I can’t begin to put into words how much I loved this summer and how much the Lord did not only in my own personal life, but in the lives of so many kindergarten through sixth graders as well. I got to teach Bible study every day, train and manage staff, plan activities, work alongside incredible leaders and mentors, go on field trips, and the list goes on and on. I literally loved every single aspect of all that I got to do. I loved my experience so much that I am currently at Kids Kamp to work at their Christmas Kamp, and will also return for Spring Break Kamp in 2012. And the best news, I have already accepted the position as director again for Kids Kamp 2012. God blew me away with Kids Kamp 2011, and I can’t even begin to imagine what He has in store for 2012! I am so thankful for Kids Kamp and the lasting impact it will ever have on my 2011 year.

I have tried to put the things that took place in order of how much each has meant to me, and Kids Kamp quickly comes to mind as the highlight of this year. I think this will be what I remember most about 2011. One of the coolest things is I will get to continue to see the fruit from what took place at Kids Kamp 2011. Working at CentriKid camps for three summers prior to this one taught me so much, but one thing that sticks out to me most is: “Ministry works best in the context of a relationship.” I really got to see this come to life this summer. For ten weeks straight, I got to build relationships with kids from so many different backgrounds and home life. While I feel like the children were impacted through our kamp, I can’t help to forget how much they impacted me. I built and established so many relationships with children this summer and loved each and every one of them. If you were to walk in my bedroom at home, you would quickly be able to see that! It has been evident to me how powerful those relationships truly are as I have been working at Christmas Kamp for the past two weeks. It was such a blessing to come back and see some of the kids I was with all summer, and to see that they hadn’t forgotten me. It’s cool too, because for some kids, I didn’t necessarily feel that we built the strongest of relationships, but that they still remembered me and even some things I taught them this summer.

I could write on and on about Kids Kamp. It is literally something that has changed who I am, grown me spiritually, and will be something I will never ever forget. My 2011 has been the highest of highs because of Kids Kamp. Enjoy some of my favorite pictures from this summer…

Holding Open His Door,


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Looking Back on 2011

As most of you know, 2011 is coming to a quick end. As I have lived these last couple of days of this year, I have had some time to reflect and think back. 2011 was filled with so much for me. I learned new things. I built new friendships. God opened new doors. I experienced high times. I endured hardships. So many things took place in 2011. I made a top 10 list of experiences, lessons learned, and highlights from this year. As we approach 2012, I will blog about each of these. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy and get ready for my top 10 from 2011.

Holding Open His Door,


Sunday, August 14, 2011

My God is Faithful.

On Wednesday of this past week, the kamp leadership team sat down to evaluate the summer of 2011. We were all a little anxious about the process, not knowing things that would be said or how to realize and improve upon our weaknesses. So, we started the session in the proper way: reading the Word, reflecting on the summer, and prayer. We were asked to jot down some ways where we saw the Lord's faithfulness throughout the summer. We knew that there were things we would change for next summer and look through some new options, but before we could do that, we did the most important thing in realizing just how faithful Jesus was to us this summer.

As I began to think of the things I would write on my paper, so many memories came to mind. I thought of specific instances where I saw the Lord at work, intentional conversations we as a staff had with kids, and new brothers and sisters in Christ I gained. My first thought was of how the Lord was faithful in bringing me to Kids Kamp. I immediately revisited Proverbs 19:21 and how the Lord had used that verse to bring me to this new ministry opportunity. I then thought of so many kids who had hard situations of their lives: kids coming from broken homes, kids dealing with suicide in their family, kids who don't see Jesus on a daily basis. I thought of the opportunities I had to minister in these situations. I got to love kids through these times and give them just a small glimpse of the Savior's love for us. I also thought of the new friendships I got to build with my staff. I loved each and every one of them and I am so thankful to have met people who have such a passion to serve the Lord in all that they do. I know that these are friendships that are just beginning and I can't wait to see where the Lord takes them. My final, and probably my favorite thought, was of the kids who started their relationships with Jesus for the first time this summer. The Gospel was at the forefront of everything we did, and it was awesome to see Him push me out of the way and become the Savior of these kids lives. That is truly what this was all about.

It was such a blessing to reflect on how the Lord was faithful this summer. He wasn't just faithful some of the time, but He was faithful for all 12 weeks I got to spend in Birmingham. Be looking out for future blogs, as I introduce you to some of the kids and staff I got to meet and minister to this summer! For now, enjoy some of my favorite snapshots from the summer!

Holding Open His Door,


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

And she persuaded us.

I recently began reading the book of Acts. I have lots of favorite verses in this book and I had heard a lot of great things about it. So, I decided to dig in. Little did I know, I would fall in love with the book and never want to put my Bible down!

The book of Acts is simply amazing. The book holds the stories of what took place after Jesus had risen from the grave and ascended into Heaven. It tells of the disciples call and mission and records their struggles, journeys, and victories. I guess what I enjoy is that the book of Acts is in a sense how we are supposed to live our lives. Jesus is obviously physically not here, but He has called us to do his work...and that is what this book shares. It has encouraged me so much and challenged me to live my life for Christ, just as the disciples and apostles did.

When I think about the book of Acts, one word quickly comes to mind: BOLDNESS. Every time I pick up my Bible to read the book, I immediately think of that word. I am sit in utter amazement at the boldness the people back then possessed. In so many situations, they knew they would be punished for sharing Jesus with others, but it did not stop them. They simply continued to share Him with everyone they encountered, regardless of the possible consequences. My prayer has been this: God, give me the boldness those people had. I want to badly to have that kind of boldness in my walk with Christ. I want to share Christ with each and every person that I encounter. I may get rejected, picked on, made fun of, or shunned, but I still want that boldness. The disciples in the book of Acts perfectly display what it means to be bold in our faith, and my hope is to have that same boldness.

One verse that I really love from Acts is this:
"The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name." Acts 5:41
Wow. That verse really needs no explanation. I sit in amazement just thinking about this verse. And again, I pray for the same exact attitude. Rejoicing and suffering just aren't two things that go together. But, yet in this case, it makes perfect sense. They walked away rejoicing, happy, glad, that they even were counted worthy to suffer for Christ. I think we need a little more of that in our every day lives. My prayer is that I live my life rejoicing every single day because I have been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

The last thing I would like to say is what has come to be one of my favorite set of verses in all of Acts. I was reading the story of Lydia. Paul, Silas, and Timothy are on a journey to share Christ with people. They happen to come across Lydia who is at the river, and they began talking to her. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And the last line of this story says it all : "AND SHE PERSUADED US." I get so excited when I read this part of the story and God is like screaming at me through this verse...I love it. I love the fact that in the short time that they spoke with Lydia, she did something that pointed every single bit of glory to the Lord, and she persuaded them that she was a believer. I feel like every word she may have spoke, every action she may have done pointed straight to the fact that she was a follower of Christ. This is what I want my life to be. I want every single interaction that I have with anyone to persuade them that I am truly a Christian and a child of God. I hope to persuade people that it's not about me, but all about Him. I hope that He gets all the glory in my words and in my actions. I want people to be able to say: AND HE PERSUADED US.

If you can't tell, I have fallen in love with the book of Acts. As I continue my journey through the book, I will update more on what I am learning and what God is doing through this! Thanks for listening friends!

Holding Open His Door,


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Proverbs 19:21

I was reading my previous post in which I gave you a top 10 list of updates going on in my life. It's funny because one point read, "I am ready for this summer." When I wrote that, I had no idea what I would be doing this summer, I just knew I was excited for what the Lord had in store. Well, now I know what I will be doing this summer, and I simply want to take the time to share this story with you. I want to share with you how powerful scripture is in our every day lives is and how awesome of a plan God has for my life.

As most of you probably know, I have spent the past three summers working for CentriKid camps. Again, as most of you know, I love camp with all of my heart and it will forever be something I love. When I finished my summer this past year, I automatically I would return for my fourth summer. But I began to realize that it was all about me and what I wanted to do. I went through this period of my life where I just began to refocus on Christ and relearned that it's all about Him and what He wants. I began to pray each day that He would reveal his plan in what I was supposed to do concerning my summer ministry. I will be real honest...throughout this time, I became really confused and struggled with what God had planned for my journey ahead.

I remember one specific day I had where I got so upset about everything. I was not only stressing about my summer, but also dealing with the conflict of having to make future school decisions as well. During this time, the student ministry I work had all been reading through the book of Proverbs. I had not read my Proverb for the day, and so I decided what better place to go. I specifically began reading the Proverb in search for even the smallest of encouraging words. I remember reading it online and scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling...and then I found it. I read:

"We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God's purpose prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

I found my answer and my solution to my problem. It was then in that very moment that I reliquinished all control of any plan or purpose I have tried to make. I completley surrendered my future to the Lord and had become happy of whatever He would send my way.

Little did I know, the very next day, He would send something. I got an email from a camp friend, asking for suggestions for people that we may know to work camp. She specifically needed a male director. I was simply curious about the position, so I remember thinking, "This may be something I'm interested in." Long story short, I spoke with my friend, sent in my resume, and was later offered a phone interview.

One week later...I was offered the position as a director Kids Kamps at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. And yes, I accepeted!

I know that this is what the Lord has had planned for me all along. I am so excited about this new door he has opened and can't wait to watch Him work in big ways this summer. In the end, His plan prevailed! And that's all that matters.

Holding Open His Door,