What I Learned this Summer.

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I just moved into a new apartment far from home and with the lack of a roomie (for now) I have had a lot of time to reflect on the summer I just had. Not going to lie but I thought this summer was going to be the summer from hell. In fact, as I left the city three months ago I was trudging to the car. Sure, I was happy to see my family but I knew that my little town wasn’t where I belonged and I had no idea how this summer could be good.

For the first few weeks, I was correct. It was hell. I couldn’t find a job, I had few friends around, I caught myself several times just staring at the wall. I was falling into a downward spiral that left me uninspired. Then I got a farm job that required early mornings and a boss that was less than sweet (though the raspberries were).  I was miserable, even worse, I was choosing to be miserable.

But, then I looked at my life and decided the best way to handle hell is to climb out of it.  As soon as I did I saw the blessings all around me. I met two hilarious boys running a summer camp , and a lovely gal who spends her life serving those in need; they made this summer one of the best I’ve had. I taught myself new skills, stopped using shampoo in my hair, led worship again, painted and even started this blog.

I learned a lot of things this summer included but not limited to:

1. Look for the best in all circumstances. sure, I had to work at on a “ghetto farm” as my sister called it every morning. But so did my sister, and it gave me time with her that I wouldn’t take back for the world.

2. You don’t need money to be happy. This summer I didn’t spend much money. I didn’t buy clothes, or go to a million concerts, and I was content. There are so many free things to do in this world that can make you happy.

3. Pray. Pray. Pray. I watched a friend of mine pray one night at the camp after program. He prayed and prayed for a camper silently by himself. He came over to me after they had left excited and told me that he was praying for her to be moved and as soon as he looked up she went over to talk to her youth pastor.  God knows the desires of our hearts and he can fill those desires all on his own but wants to use us. My pastor once said “before God does something, you have to do something” That moment got me back on the prayer wagon, I want to be used.

4.  STOP WORRYING my pastor said in one of his sermons “Why are you lying awake worrying about something God can literally speak away?” That makes so much sense.  I have that quote taped by my bed. Let’s just say I sleep a lot more at night now.

5. Get a little dirty. Now I know this sounds gross but showering less isn’t a bad thing. Live a little. The natural oils your body produces is really good for your skin, hair, and well-being. If you wash it away everyday it cannot work its magic. My skin is clearer and my hair is softer now that I don’t scrub it every night.  (Thought I still recommend showering regularly.)

6. Take Risks. If you don’t take the risks God has put on your heart, all you’re left with is regret.

7. Say NO. Martha taught me this. You aren’t meant to do it all. You don’t have to. Do what you can. Do what you want. No is a full sentence. It doesn’t need an excuse.

8. Take a look at yourself from time to time. Look in the mirror and see the person you are becoming. If you don’t see a perfect person then God’s not done transforming you yet. A friend taught me that.

9. Stay up late. Now sleep is important, but hey, you won’t remember the nights you went to bed on time. My late nights included the princess bride, thigh clapping (don’t ask), bedtime stories told by a Russian, duct-taping people to chairs (and watching them struggle out), late night walks, bonfires, late night drives, and midnight Walmart runs. Those are the moments I’ll remember. Not to mention, I saw Sara Bareilles. Now that was a late night.

10.Be in Passionate Pursuit.  God isn’t a relationship you foster when it’s convenient. You must be in constant pursuit of him, or you won’t have a relationship at all. At the beginning of the summer I was on my fourth month without church, without reading my bible, without living my faith. I thought I was fine, I still believed it all didn’t I? Then I met people who were passionately following his call in their life. I witnessed their joy, and their freedom.  That was missing in my life. Passionately run to him. He so worth it. I’ve seen such a change in my life when I turned my focus back to him.

And Lastly,

11. Love people deeply. I volunteered with children who lived in rough home lives this summer and I watched them love on each other. I watched them create their own little families, saw how they supported eachother. I witnessed my friend treat them as her own children. It made me fall in love.   I fell in love with a little baby called President and spent time with people who needed love. Love doesn’t expect anything in return. Give love to people you’ll never see again. Give all  the love that you have. Tell people you love them, even if they already know it. You can’t run out of love, you can only give more.

Some summer huh? I’m so glad that I had this time in my little town or I would still be stuck where I was. God sure knows what he’s doing.

Many thanks to my family and my new friends Trent, Chris and Martha. Thanks for the summer of my life.

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