Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Ramblings on a Monday

It was quite the busy weekend here in Blacksburg. We hosted the annual Alumni Work Weekend at BCM and got a whole lot of stuff done. It was great to be reunited with old friends and see lots of things that have been on the "to-fix" list here at BCM actually get fixed. Last night Nic & I walked down to the Drillfield since it was such a nice cool night. It was awesome to be on campus, listening to the sounds of kids playing games and enjoying the sweet smell of summer. It reminded me of just how beautiful this place is that we call home!

This morning I went for a run at 7:30 am. If you know me this is a huge step for me, as I normally am not even up until at least 8 am. It surprisingly was a lot of fun and I was in an extra chipper mood for some reason. I said "Good Morning" to every person I passed on the trail and honestly when I think about it now I was probably a bit too loud and chipper as I greeted those fair citizens of Blacksburg, since I had my Ipod cranked up!

The Friends General Conference is going on all week here in Blacksburg and someone told us that tonight Shane Claiborne, author of The Irrestible Revolution, is speaking at their main session so of course we're going to go check it out. I'm really looking forward to hearing him speak. I just finished his book about a month ago and he certainly made me look at some things from a different perspective. Hopefully I'll give you an update on that tomorrow!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What a Week

We had a blast hanging out at camp and on our adventures surrounding our week there. Being in the camp atmosphere again was a little weird for me, but overall I really enjoyed it. April and I were a little overwhelmed due to the fact that everybody else on staff knew what they were doing besides us. This was especially difficult for April since she had never experienced a week working at Centrifuge and didn't really know what was expected of her.

One crazy part of the week was the weather in Jackson - we had tornado warnings and crazy downpours the first couple of days, and then overwhelming heat the rest of the week. It was enough to throw everything into a state of semi-chaos and to force us to be the voices of reason to many upset students and youth ministers. The rest of the camp staff there was battling a virus that was taking them down one by one. It was a good week for us to be there as we were able to help fill in some gaps left by those in their sick beds.

As always, the best part of the experience was the chance to minister to the students we encountered. April and I both had good Bible study groups and had the opportunity to see students take steps in their journey of faith. It took me a while to get used to being around high school students instead of the college students I'm used to, but I really enjoyed getting to know them and hearing what God was doing in their lives.

We had a great end to the week as well. We stopped in Nashville for a night on the way back and stayed with our friends Andy and Kristy Reuter. It just so happened that one of our favorite bands, Over the Rhine, was playing in Nashville that night. My brother Randy and his girlfriend Sam joined us for the concert, and my parents drove down from Cincinnati to join us as well. Although April and I were struggling to stay awake at points, it was great to get to hang out with friends and family that we love.

Team Armada

Team Explosion

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Going to Camp

As I write, we are finishing up our packing and loading up the car to head to Tennessee for a week. The main reason is that April and I are working a week of Centrifuge camp at Union University in Jackson, TN. However, we're going to make a short vacation out of it by taking our time getting out there and staying an extra day to see friends and family in Nashville. I worked two summers of Centrifuge camp after my junior and senior years of college. It is a summer camp for high school students that church youth groups attend. The week is filled with Bible study, outdoor recreation, sports, games, activities, evening worship, and all kinds of other fun things. There are Fuge locations all over the country (mostly in the Southeast), but the last summer I worked was at Union.

I have all kinds of great memories from my summers working at camp: fun adventures with friends, things God taught me about leadership, meeting cool high school students, and doing crazy things. I'm excited to go back to that environment, but I know it's going to be different. For one thing, I'm 5 years older. Also, we're just coming in to help out for a week instead of getting the whole summer experience and really being a part of the staff team, which was one of the best parts. One thing that will be better is the chance to go on this adventure with April and to experience all of it with her.

April has finished packing, so it's time to hit the road - it is going to be a good week!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zumba and other noteworthy news

One of my hopes for the summer had been to blog everyday (rotating between Nic & myself). Unfortunately that goal has already been trampled upon (as you can see I haven't posted since 5/28..oops). Anyways one of the reasons I decided to try this little experiment was b/c I've discovered I actually kind of enjoy writing. I would never have admitted this to you three years ago (when I was whining about writing a research paper) but it turns out it's kind of fun. I'm reminded of what my piano teacher used to say at our weekly lessons when I was younger "Practice makes perfect" and although I would often cringe when I heard those words I'm realizing it makes sense. Hence why I need to blog more to improve my writing skills!

In other news I went to a Zumba exercise class last night here in Blacksburg. SO MUCH FUN! The class is an hour long but certainly doesn't feel that way at all. You also don't realize that you're "working out" because you're just having fun dancing the time away! I realize that I'm still pretty much a clumsy white girl when it comes to dancing but last night I like to think I was dancing so well that I could've been a competitor on any of those reality dance shows. So You Think You Can Dance bring it on because here I come! Ok maybe not but a girl can dream right?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hitting the Appalachain Trail

I want to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the mountains, forests, and rivers surrounding Blacksburg this summer. This weekend, I did a one-night backpacking trip with some students along a section of the Appalachian Trail. It turned out to be a great trip, with good feelings of exploration, friendship, exercise, and wonder.

It felt like it rained all week last week, so even though the forecast was calling for it to clear up Friday afternoon, we were having second thoughts about going due to the wet and muddy conditions. It did stop raining, so we loaded up our gear and hit the road even under the cloudy skies. It was about a 30-minute drive out 460 West to the place where the AT crosses a side road outside of Pearisburg, VA. I've driven by there many times in my life, having never realized the trail came so close. The first half of our 5-mile hike to the shelter at Rice Fields was exceptionally steep - more than any of us had expected. The second half was much more manageable for us, and we reached the shelter well before dark.

Being up that high, we were pretty much in a cloud the entire time. It was eerie to hike through the mist and growing darkness as our visibility was quickly reduced. Although I don't think it ever rained, the cloud condensing and the wind blowing made it feel like we were in a constant drizzle. We weren't able to get a fire going, so we warmed our food over camp stoves, played some cards by flashlight, and went to sleep. Coming down the next morning was a much easier experience, and we were back in Blacksburg by lunch time.

The coolest part of the trip for me was Saturday morning as I woke up earlier than the rest of the group and felt the sun breaking through the mist. I walked out to a place where the mountain overlooked the valley and was treated to a view of clouds filling the valley and being slowly blown back up onto our peak. As my visibility and the sunlight went in and out as clouds blew through, I had a great chance to enjoy the beauty and peace of the place. I'm hoping I get the chance to enjoy more of the AT, New River, and other beautiful places around me this summer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lessons from Titus

I've been reading through the book of Titus in my daily time that I spend reading the Bible lately. I know I've read through the book before, but it has seemed very fresh and encouraging to me. Paul writes this letter to his friend Titus to instruct him as a leader of the churches on the island of Crete, and shares some things that have got me thinking a lot.

The whole letter carries the theme of living a respectable, self-controlled life so that we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ well, and also gain the respect of those outside the church. Paul uses the phrase self-control so many times in this short letter, it's easy to see that he's trying to drive home this point. To me, that reminds me that I need to at all times be aware of the strong desire I have to please myself and get my way, and to fight against it. When I allow those self-centered desires to control me, I often offend or deceive others instead of honestly loving them. The problem is, I don't seem to have much self-control. I am thankful to be reminded in 2:11-14 that it is God's grace that "[trains] us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age." God is the source of any self-control I have, and he is continuing to train me in this difficult area as I respond to his grace.

The other part that challenges me is how Paul instructs Titus to teach this message. I can relate to Titus because I am in a position of leadership here at the BCM; I especially relate to Paul's instruction to Titus in 2:6 to "likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled." This seems to be the heart of what God has called me to do here - to lead the young men here at BCM in a life of self-control that honors God and is respectable and loving toward all people. In 2:15, Paul tells Titus to "declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you." This is where it gets hard for me. I'm not one to be bold with many things, and it scares me to think of rebuking people and not letting them disregard me. As I continue to build relationships here, I am trying to learn to follow God's leading in teaching, exhorting, and even rebuking when necessary, and responding well to others when they do the same to me. Hopefully God's encouragment to me through this letter will help me continue to grow in this area as well.