Man, I've missed this little space. It feels good to be back. I have to say, though, leaving for the summer was definitely a wise decision.
The summer. Wow. It's funny how, from the time you first learn the word even to the time you're earning a college degree, summer means freedom and escape - hammocks and beaches and picnics, you know?
Then you grow up and find out that the summer holds obligations and responsibilities just like any other time of the year.
Don't get me wrong here. I loved my summer. I treasured every day of it. Well, maybe treasured is a little too strong of a word for every day, but it was a good summer.
Also? It was a hard summer. Frankly, the last three months were the hardest of my life - harder than any semester of my college career. But hard doesn't necessarily mean bad. This summer alone, I've learned so much about myself, my family, my Jesus, my heart, my friends. I've been stretched beyond what I thought I could endure, and come through it all standing taller than before.
Remember last spring? I thought I had grown so much then and now I've grown twice that much in confidence, though maybe not ability - I'm pretty sure all of my summer staffers knew I wasn't very adept at wielding any tool other than a screw driver or staple gun . . . and even those were probably sometimes doubtful.
It's strange to me that I've noticed this, but there's something different about the way I stand and walk and hold my head up, literally and figuratively, that wasn't there before. It's seems the more responsibility placed on my shoulders, the more they straighten up. I handled responsibilities on my own that I never knew I could.
I wasn't the only one growing this summer, though. Baby came to work at camp for her first summer and it was a privilege/delight/blessing beyond words to watch her gain confidence in the beautiful young woman that we all know she is. When I originally graduated from high school, I made the decision to go to college close to home and live with my parents for one reason - Baby. Even at that young age, I knew she and I were similar. We handle stress and friendships and life the same way. I wanted to be around to help her through things that I had gone through. Not to protect her, necessarily, but to be an example for her to follow - to let her learn from my mistakes because I didn't want her to make the same ones.
There was one thing, though, that was her own personal struggle - the thing between her and Jesus that I couldn't help her through. She never knew she was beautiful. Not that she thought she was ugly. She just never saw the beauty that the rest of us saw in her.
I never struggled with self-confidence growing up. I never thought I could win a beauty pageant, but I knew I was beautiful inside and out, so it was incredibly hard to watch Baby struggle through years when she probably didn't even fully know she was struggling.
Then this summer came and I watched her bloom under the influence of sunshine and hard work and good teaching and solid friendships. She still has a long road ahead of her (don't we all?) but her eyes shine with a new light and that makes this far-away sister's heart happy.
I still remember my first (and second and third) summer, and all the growth I went through, so clearly, and it was beyond wonderful this year to watch that growth happening in the hearts of so many of our summer staff. Baby was really just one of many that I watched bloom this summer.
This summer, my family came through the hardest trial we've ever faced and we're not out of it yet. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that dark storms will come, but when we walk through them together, we come out stronger on the other side.
This storm rolled in suddenly as we were taking a walk around camp, our whole family together for the first time in eight months. I didn't think of the beautiful symbol it was until weeks after I took the pictures.
Please forgive the blurriness. I just had to take a "family picture".
I have a new respect for Mom, Daddy, and both of my sisters. That is all.
The thing, though, is that I know I couldn't stand as tall as I do now, Baby couldn't have her eyes opened to her own worth, and we certainly couldn't have come through our trials and faced our demons, collective and individual, this summer without help from One greater than ourselves.
Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights and all glory goes to my Jesus for the changes and growth that happened in my life this summer.
Whew. If you lasted to the end of this incredibly heavy post, I have a new respect for you as well. And tomorrow I'll reward you with something lighter (maybe).
PS: Are you missing My Life the Movie as much as I am?
Not that I have anything of that caliber coming up. Sometimes, though, I just go back and read them to entertain myself.
That's all. Good night!
2 years ago