THIS is why I haven’t have time to write much lately: After Seattle, I was in KC for one day, then Springfield for one day, St. Louis one day for a wedding, KC one day for my sister’s one-year anniversary, Springfield for two days to move out for realz and celebrate my friend Chelsea’s birfday, then home for three whole days before today.

THIS is why I won’t have time to write for a while:

  • Friday through Sunday (1-3) a few Mu Phi friends are gathering for a weekend here in Kansas City! This gives me, a local, an excuse to do all things tourist-y like eat barbecue, play in the JC Nichols fountain, and go to a drive-in!
  • Monday through Saturday (4-9) I GET TO GO TO CAMP. Yes, I’ll spend all summer at camp, and while Interlochen is fun, Youthfront is my home. I grew up there–in all forms of the word. It really deserves its own post so I won’t go on too much of a tangent, but for now I’ll just say I’m unbelievably excited to experience camp from a new perspective. I’ve been a camper, Teen staffer, Summer staffer, and now a Volunteer Cabin Leader.
  • Sunday (10) I get to spend 13 hours with just George (my car), my iPod, and the road. I might have downloaded 14 hours worth of new music last week… but whether or not I have new music, I love road trips by myself. I love having the freedom to sing as loud as I want, to stop wherever and whenever I want, and to take whatever route I want. The possibilities are endless.
  • Monday (11) I’ll drive another hour and a half to get to INTERLOCHEN during check-in hours. I’m excited to see old friends and meet the new people in the recreation department. I’m excited to see how this second summer will be different from the first. I’m excited for Lochaven and golf carts.

It’s great when you’re too busy living life to write a novel about it on Tumblr, to read about someone else’s on Facebook, or to create an imaginary one on Pinterest. I am guilty of all preceding charges, but remembering that real life is better and more important than internet life is always a good thing.

Youthfront freaking messed up my life.

I remember this day at Youthfront during a cabin leader meeting when Tanner Burton mentioned the line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and how he finds deep connection and calling to bring His kingdom to earth. I remember this day like it was yesterday.

I talk about Youthfront so much because to me, it was the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. When I think of the kingdom I think of peace, mercy and justice. Genuine relationships and compassionate friendships. When I think of Youthfront, I think of the same things.

I went to La Cygne hoping to become more independent. I wanted to be challenged by the Lord. I wanted to be forced to depend on God. I truly believed I wouldn’t make very many friends and feel quite lonely most of the time.

The exact opposite happened.

I’m a talker and can be pretty obnoxious at times. However, at Youthfront during our cabin leader meetings I felt so silent. The prayer chapel is where we met every afternoon and the people that sat against the walls were incredibly wise. We read the Word like I have never read before. The Word became truth. It came alive to me in that prayer chapel. I sat silently in that room so many days just in awe as if Jesus were discussing his words with me. I was challenged, confused and corrected almost every single day. I fell in love with the Word every single time I left that prayer chapel. Especially one day when we discussed John 10. We had disagreed with each other on the meaning of a verse…assuming we knew the answers. I remember leaving angry with John 10:9—I wanted so badly to fully understand what the Lord meant. That day I fell in love with the mystery of God’s word. I became aware that I by no means as a human being will ever be able to fully understand God and I by no means as a human being have the right to think that my views are correct.

I remember the day I realized Heather Averill and I were meant to become friends. We were standing in room 2 in cabin 20. She was standing in front of the mirror and I was right beside her. We had just recently met and little did we know as we sprayed junk on our hairs that we went through the exact morning routine. I thought I was unique until that moment. I knew we would be great friends. (Later we’ve come to realize we have a lot more in common.) I remember the days Kylie Rupe and I spilled every frustration we ever had. She never judged me. She never said I was wrong. She just listened and asked questions. She was always available. I remember the day Nikki Ingersoll drove all the way to the Plaza with me just to walk around even though we had just met. I felt like she truly wanted to become my friend. I felt so loved. I remember the day Megan Roach and I went thrifting and matched. We giggled all day and I absolutely loved it. I remember the Tuesdays Heather, Nikki, Alyssa TK and I would confess to each other. I would tell them things I didn’t particularly want anyone to know.

I remember the night I yelled at my campers. It was week three, Friday night at 4am. I woke up hearing the girls giggling, so I walked into room 1 and every single girl in the cabin (16 girls in a room made for 4) were COVERED in shaving cream. As a responsible cabin leader, I sternly told each of them that they needed to go to their own rooms, in their own beds and go to sleep. I left the room and fell back asleep. I woke up the next morning hearing stories about how they never did any of that. I wasn’t even mad because I loved those girls. I seriously was so happy being around them. It was that week that I realized I was made for this. Seriously. That God had made me to be with girls. My heart broke each week as I heard stories of insecurities and abuse. My heart broke each week as I saw how bruised these sweet sixteen year olds were and that I couldn’t do anything about it. That same week I realized the importance of female relationships and investments.

These are the things I fell in love with. Youthfront was shalom to me.

I am serious when I say that leaving something so close to heaven sucks.

I went to Youthfront hoping to be forced to depend on God. I assumed I would struggle most of the time, having to depend on the Lord for strength. However, while Youthfront was incredibly challenging, this semester has been more of what I expected Youthfront to be like.

After leaving Youthfront I’ve had to depend more on the Lord than ever before. This semester has been really difficult for me. I’ve never been more lonely, confused or sad in my whole life. I have been drained emotionally, academically and spiritually. Leaving something so close to the Kingdom has been so difficult and that if Heaven is a million times better than what Youthfront was like for me, I cannot even imagine how horrible it would be to be separated from the love of God. I cannot imagine what hell would be like. My semester was really horrible at times, but it was nothing like hell. Not even close. I grew a lot and the Lord was always faithful. I know it wasn’t that bad. While I was lonely the Lord encouraged me through my brother, Austin. While I was confused the Lord gave me courage and truth. While I was sad the Lord comforted me through Emily Brock, Lauren Baum and Stephanie Russell. While at school I am not always practicing the gifts the Lord knew I would feel the spirit the most with. However, at school I can dwell and find contentment in Romans 5:3-5: “Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  

I believe in Matthew 26:41 “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!“ This semester it has been clear that my body is weak, but I am confident that the spirit is willing to do things unimaginable. We are his workmanship. Like the Lord’s Prayer says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I am honest when I say I compare everything to Youthfront, because to me that’s where I saw the Kingdom of God the most. I had the opportunity to glimpse heaven. I seriously believe that. What an honor to be able to bring that to earth. The lord trusts ME enough to be his messenger. WHAT AN HONOR. Seriously! While I may not always be filled with joy, how amazing is it to know that God trusts me enough to push me to preserve only because he wants to build character and hope in me…all for his kingdom. These truths give me so much courage.

I know how good the kingdom of God is. I cannot let the people around me not experience what I have experienced. The kingdom must come and the spirit is willing.


Sometimes God's timing is frustratingly humorous.

I should really be going to bed. Or writing about allll the awesome things that happened this past week at Youthfront (which WILL happen later when I have more time), but right now there’s just one topic on my mind.

Each day this week had a sort of “theme” with a correlating “cabin experience” for the campers to do. The most powerful experience was Friday morning’s nature trail about forgiveness. There were different stations along the trail with pieces of a story and different steps to take to truly forgive someone. Every camper entered the trail with a paint stick that had a name they’d written on it of someone they were struggling to forgive. The idea was to process what to do with the stick. You can’t avoid getting wounded, but what’s important is how you respond to the wound. You have choice: do you hit back even harder, taking an eye for an eye (Matthew 5)? Or do you chose to drop the stick, stop the cycle, and affect the future for good? Just as Jesus dropped the charges held against us, we are called to do so for others. We weren’t given justice; we were given mercy (Matthew 18).

It was so cool seeing how much this experience impacted the campers in our cabin. It was a real struggle to drop the stick for several of our campers. After reading the story of the Amish community who lavished love upon the family of the gunman who shot several of their children, our campers realized how trivial their grudges were, and how important it is to mend relationships with those people God has placed in our lives. Long after the experience was over, I saw our campers making connections with situations that had happened in the cabin earlier in the week, or little tiffs that arose throughout the day. “Oh how awesome! This was a great learning experience for the campers,” I thought. God thought differently.

Sunday. Literally one day since camp has been over, and I am given an opportunity to put this camper exercise into practice in my own life. I got a text that my future roommate decided to live with someone else. Completely out of the blue, and not because of anything I have done. Ouch. Not only emotionally, but also financially if I have to live by myself. I have to start all over again, and I can’t even physically be in the town to do so. I was so angry, hurt, and confused. It just so happened that in my ranting phone call to my parents, they brought up that one little word: forgiveness. Instantly the whole cabin experience flooded back into my mind, and I almost started laughing. Thanks, God, for reminding me that the experience was for the whole cabin, not just the campers.

You can’t change other people, understand all their actions, or force them to be sorry, but you can choose your own emotions and reactions. As a wise person once drilled into me, “your response is your responsibility.” Christ forgave us before we were ever sorry, and since “Christian” means “little Christ,” we’re kinda supposed to do everything he does. Buuut that’s literally impossible on our own. Regina Spektor knows what’s up (not really, I just love this phrase): “Potentially lovely, perpetually human.” Hallelujah for the Holy Spirit working through us, giving us the grace to love and forgive as intensely as our Daddy does.

You guys, I love camp.

I’m really horrible at this. I’m pretty sure I’ve thought of updating this little blog about 500 times, but am finally doing it now.

It’s safe to say I love camp.

Coming to Youthfront Camp South has been probably the best thing I’ve ever done.

Considering my last post was 8 weeks ago, a lot has happened between then and now.

I’ve learned a whole lot, so much that I can’t even explain. (Plus writing isn’t my greatest skill, so bare with me)

So, I’ll just tell ya’ll 3 things. First, the logistics of camp and what a day looks like. Next, what the campers learn and stuff, then finally what I love/don’t love about Youthfront Camp South. 

I really enjoy logistics.
I really do.

Here’s what a typical day looks like as a Cabin Leader. (*= I’ll explain in #2)
8:20: Bells go off to wake up campers
8:30: Make sure campers are actually awake
8:50: Encourage campers to leave the cabin to go to morning prayer!
9: Morning Prayer*
9:15ish: Breakfast with other cabin leaders
10: Morning Gathering (review last nights gathering/watch yesterday’s video)
10:15: Experiences/Cabin Time
12: Midday Prayer
12:15ish: Lunch (we eat the same thing every Monday, every Tuesday, every Wednesday…etc. Safe to say I really enjoy a good PB&J)
1: Free time! (Pool, ATV’s, Paintball, Snack Shack, Blob, Walk around, Nap Time….)
5: Spiritual Formation time with other cabin leaders*
6: Dinner
7: Evening Gathering
8:15/30ish: Spiritual Formation*
9: Vespers/Evening Prayer
9:15: Community time (Free Time) Or Evening Activity depending on the day*
11: Go back to cabins/Complin*
11:30: Bed timeeee

The whole summer we are learning about Joseph (Genesis 37-45) and overall how he is blessed while he experiences barrenness and birth.
To most people we think of being blessed as when good things happen to us. Like when we get cool gifts or succeed in baseball or whatever. However, at camp we are exploring the fact that being blessed is ultimately God’s presence and that when we experience barrenness and birth, God’s presence is still there. I would love to talk more about this idea with anyone, but for the sake of length, I’ll leave it at that!


Morning, Midday, Evening Prayer and Complin

What makes Youthfront different than any other camp I’ve been apart of is that they are built around the fixed hours of prayer, also known as Daily Office. Instead of building Youthfront around chapel, free time, cabin times, some band and what not we center all of the experiences on the practice of prayer.  These four times consists of reading of scriptures, music, listening, silence, corporate and private prayer, times of confession and confessing the creeds.

Spiritual Formation:

During this time campers are offered different options to spend time with the Lord. They can stay alone, discuss topics in a group, worship together or whatever else is offered that night. Youthfront seriously takes amazing care of their staff, setting an hour a day for cabin leaders to do this together. Each day we do something a bit different, but overall during that time we focus on the “I am’s” of God throughout the word (like this week is John 10 when Jesus talks about how he is the “Good Shepherd”).

Evening Activities:

Tuesday night is Alien Invasion and I dress up as Zenon the Girl of the 21st Century…well until my costume ripped in half two weeks ago.
Thursday night is Olympic Night. Both of these nights we play games and it’s fun and stuff. Ya.

3. I love it here but let’s be real, I can’t stand the food. It’s sick nasty. However, as my mom says, “I’m just thankful to have something on my plate.” So… ya.

I have two favorite things about Youthfront: the community here and the opportunity to love campers.

- The community here has changed my life. The relationships I’ve built over these short eight weeks have become some of the strongest relationships with people I’ve ever had. My friends here are all so similar to myself, and we all have the same passion: to love God, love people and love the world. I really am going to be so incredibly sad leaving in August. Living in community with other people is what I think Christians are called to do, and Youthfront does it so right. I could go on and on about this but I’ll just leave it at that. 

- Being a cabin leader is really hard. It’s hard hearing stories about these camper’s lives and having to let them go back to their horrible realities. I’ve especially noticed how self-conscious so many girls are and it seriously breaks my heart.  However, just getting to love them and make them feel special for a week makes me so joyful. I feel like I’m really doing what I’m supposed to do with mylife, love people. I am forced to humble myself and serve others and it feels great. I knowit’s not about how I feel, but this feeling is something greater…it’s the freaking Holy Spirit! I know it. The Spirit moves in me the most when I’m with these campers. Last week one even wrote me the cutest note about how I was like her big sister. I cried. Now, not all of them live in horrible realities but they all come with brokenness. We all have brokenness, and when we are vulnerable with each other about this brokenness our cabin connects. Each week it’s really powerful to see the campers become vulnerable with each other. I just love that. Love love love love it.

Week 1 girls at lunch!

Week 2!

This girl is too cool for words.

Look at this beautiful cake some staff girls made me on my birthday!

So ya.

That’s camp plus a lot more.

We had the week off last week and I really missed it a whole lot.

Also. If you read my twitter/look at my facebook you can probably get a lot more details about my life.

Write me!

My head is all over the place.

I’ve basically been going non-stop since graduation. I have gone 9 straight days without solitude since I’ve gotten to camp–no bueno for an introvert. I know I’m not mentally where I like to be, but I’m so thankful that I’m not Cranky Mc-Crankerson. Interlochen is great so far this year, and the 2012 rec staff is fantastic.

But when I can’t (don’t) take the time to spend time in the arms of my Daddy, I get weak. I get selfish. I allow fear into my thoughts and as a result, my actions. I start worrying about what people think of me as more important than what my Creator thinks of me. I believe the lie that no one is taking care of me, and that I must perform, accomplish, achieve–all in my own strength.

I chose to be at Interlochen over Youthfront for a reason. I chose to place myself in a situation that allows for growth and challenge, rather than staying in my cozy little comfort zone. But sometimes being at Interlochen is just that–uncomfortable. I am surrounded by people who view life completely differently than me, and it can be confusing and frustrating. I find myself holding back when controversial discussions arise, to avoid starting some heated debate or offending someone. Why do I do that? Is it because I’m trying to respect them, or because I’m afraid of what they’ll think of me? I’m pretty sure how I imagine they’ll react is much worse than how they would actually react, but it’s still frustrating how judged I feel by so many supposedly open-minded people.

Keep reading

I want to thank the one and only Ben Snethen for not only being an amazing boss and leader but a great friend. I wouldn’t trade this summer for the world and its all because of this guy. Thank you Ben #ForeverBensBoy #youthfront

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