Sometimes I feel like my brain is a jumping castle for ideas.  They bounce around in there all the time, and I don’t know what to do with them, so I let them go for as long as they can until they burn out and lose appeal.  My current ideas?

  • A lemonade company.  From-scratch lemonade in oddly shaped bottles with flavors like prickly pear and blueberry and something called ‘Old Sourface (a lemonade with less sugar and more lemon).
  • Marriage columns in Bridal magazines.  So many people focus on the wedding and not the marriage-in fact, only about 20% of couples seek premarital counseling!  So why not a common sense column amongst the taffeta and candles?
  • A cookbook about using the desert’s natural resources to make yummy things.  I just made prickly pear jelly, so that could be why this is in there.
  • I wrote a parody of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, only it’s about guy love and it’s called Bad Bromance.  Although it is kind of random, in my defence I was tired and driving home from work and it kept me awake.  And now I want to record it and make a video.  Maybe.
  • A book of 21st century poems and songs praising God called Modern Day Psalms.

These are the thoughts that keep running around in my head.  Some are really good ideas, and some are really silly.  But what do they all have in common?  I have no clue what to do about it.  I would love to start a lemonade company, but where would I even begin?  And, I think the marriage column would be spectacular, but the only credit I have as a marriage writer is one year of marriage and three years of college-I don’t even have my degree yet, where’s the credibility?  Also, as Nason put it, would anyone actually read it?  Most people who buy the millions of bridal magazines each month (!) are looking for the perfect wedding, not marital advice. 

I don’t know what to do with these things that pop in my head and stay there.  This is the nice thing about blogging, that I can get some ideas out of my head and onto the internet.  But not all ideas, unfortunately.  I’ll just let them bounce around, and write about what I can, and see if I can make some of them come to fruition.  Eventually.

At first, when I got a WordPress account and started formatting my blog, I kept making excuses about why I couldn’t share my site with others yet.  First, I didn’t have the pages finished.  Then, I didn’t like my header.  Then, I had to change my blog’s name five times, before finally settling on the one I picked first.

Truthfully?  I was afraid.

I was afraid of what people would think about my writing, both my content and my style.  I was afraid I would do it for two weeks and then lose interest, or run out of things to say.  I was scared that nobody would read it, or worse, that everyone would read it and think it not worth reading.  Then, I linked my blog when I commented on someone else’s, and when I saw that a couple of people had clicked on it, I figured it was time, and I sent the link over Facebook.  Now, I’m very happy that I did.  Writing is always something that I’ve loved, and now I get to choose the topics and the style, with no one to tell me it’s wrong. 

In the past few years I’ve done a lot of things I was afraid of doing.  I got married, and that was a big scary step.  I sent my resume out for an internship, and I worked for a lab last semester.  Going into youth ministry was terrifying, and yet I’m still doing it after three years.  I was afraid of my low singing voice, but Nason and I still lead the band every week.  Though I am afraid, I don’t let it control my life.

I think that’s the trick; it’s okay to be afraid, but it’s not okay to give fear any authority.  There are so many things that can be done if fear is set aside, and those things are made all the more meaningful by the initial fear that is felt.  If I had not been afraid to start blogging, it would not be as big a deal to me as it is now.  I think that the fears I feel before something important make me strive to do them well, and to do it right, because to get into something despite my fears is a big deal.

So, that’s the idea, then.  Fear is not a bad thing, just something that shouldn’t control your life.

On the sign for Log Cabin Village (the upper camp on the UCYC campus) it reads “a life changing experience.”  If I had to sum up this entire week into one phrase, that would probably be it.  For many of our students, this past week was life changing in some way or another.

Just a quick background on UCYC: UCYC stands for United Christian Youth Camps.  It was started in Prescott in the 1950’s and has since hosted summer and winter camps for students k-12.  There is a lower camp (Ponderosa) where the elementary camps usually happen, and an upper camp (Log Cabin Village) where the older camps happen.  The days are filled with competitions, games, activities like paintball and rock climbing, amazing worship (this year led by DSM) and incredible speakers.

All of these new experiences and opportunities leads to an atmosphere where students can try new things without worry.  The first challenge Matt, our speaker this last week, gave the students was to try.  he told them to try things they were nervous about, to try the things they had never done before, and most of all to try Jesus this week.

Our students definitely tried this week.  nearly all of our students did something new, or tried something that scared them, or took the lessons and the worship to heart.  We had a number of students either accept Jesus for the first time or rededicate or make some other decision to deepen their walk with God.  In my small group (we divide students up for discussion groups after morning sessions) we had some really awesome discussions; even though many were ‘off topic,’ they were still great discussions.  One that stands out is the morning we had a talk about how to really know if the Bible was true, which was tough (because the Bible can never be completely proven or disproven) but good (because we got to talk a lot about the evidence and also stepping out in faith).

There were so many stories from this trip, I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  I could fill so many posts with stories from camp.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I have at least one story about every student who went this week.  But I’m just going to leave it at this: we have an amazing, brave, smart, goofy, and beautiful group of students at my church, who took the ‘try’ challenge and rolled with it, making it an incredible camp experience for themselves, their fellow students, and us leaders.  It was a truly inspirational week.

Last night Nason and I got the keys to our house.  We were at a barbeque when we got the phone call from the owner, so we went over shortly afterwards, retrieved the key from its hiding place and went inside.

The house was so different from the last time we were there.  It was empty and quiet and dark, unlike the walk through when it was full of people and life.  Aided just by a flashlight, we did our own walk through, unaccompanied by our real estate agent, or the owner, or our parents.  It was just us and the house.

It’s kind of funny to think that we’ll be living there by the end of next week.  The place needs cleaning, but we can do that easily.  We have a list of projects to be done to the house, projects like tiling and painting and building.  But I’m looking forward to it all, because those are the things that will make it ours. 

That knowledge brings a funny feeling.  It’s like the key made it all real.  Before that key, the whole arrangement was all talk and emails.  But now, we have something tangible.  That key means something more than all the discussions and paperwork.  It means that empty house will be ours, and we’ll fill it with our things and our people, and we’ll have a life there.

Tonight, when he comes home from work, Nason and I are going over to that empty house to begin cleaning.  We’re taking the first steps towards making that house our home.  For now, the house is empty, just waiting for life to come and fill it again.  It’s exciting to know that it’ll be us to fill it.

Very soon (as soon as next week, possibly) Nason and I will be moving.  It won’t be a long move, just about a half hour from where we currently live, but it will be into a house, which we should be buying in a few years.  The house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, manufactured home on an acre of land, and it is situated just barely within city limits (in fact, the road that the house is on crosses the city/county  line several times).  We fell in love with it the first time we walked through it, and now we’re finally moving in.

The house fell in love with. Photo compliments of MLS.

It’s an exciting time in our lives.  Renting-to-own a house is a huge step up from just renting an apartment, and it’s a lot of responsibility.  But I think Nason and I will be fine.  We can afford the rent, and we’ll take care of whatever problems arise.  It’s just our style, which was contradictory to apartment life.  Rather than fixing problems ourselves, we had to file a work order, then wait for it to get fixed.  This got a little frustrating at times.  So house life will prove to be great for us. 

The only things I will miss about living in the apartment will be the short commute to work, and the fact that several of my good friends, including my best friend, live in town, so get togethers will not be as spontaneous as they have been in the past.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to be moving.  The area we will be moving to was our home for years before we got married, so our parents live there and some of our friends as well.  It feels like we’re moving…home.  And the house will be our home in a way that the apartment only sort of was.

My friend who came over yesterday (this picture is a little old, and was taken on a trampoline)

I love girl talk.  I think it’s fun to get together with one or two friends and just talk about life and love and everything in between.  It is something I don’t get all the time, since I live with my husband, but that’s okay.  It keeps girl talk special.

It’s not that I don’t talk with my husband about those things.  Nason and I have amazing conversations all the time.  We talk about our struggles, and dreams, and we spend more time talking than we do doing most anything else.  It’s just that…girl talk is different.  There is a different dynamic to it which is very special.  I love my husband more than anything in this world, but sometimes I need some time with my friends.

Yesterday I was blessed with some of that time.  One of my good friends came over yesterday and we had a five hour conversation.  It was wonderful.  We talked about our years (since she has been in Flagstaff since last September), and my husband and her boyfriend, and movies and books that we loved, and what we were doing this summer.  We didn’t go and do anything, we didn’t lapse for anything, we just…talked.  It was so refreshing to sit and talk with her, and just spend time getting to know her again, since we hadn’t seen each other in a while.

I am blessed to have my best friend living right down the street from me for now, too.  Usually we do the same thing when we get together.  Sometimes we’ll go out and do something, but most of the time we just sit and talk.  I always enjoy these days, since I learn something new about her every time we talk, and it’s always so much fun to share news and hear her news. 

I love my friends very much, and I’ve missed some of them while they’ve been away at school.  Hopefully I get to reconnect with them this summer, and have some great conversations.

For the past 6 weeks we have been doing a series with our students based on Rich Stearns’ book The Hole in our Gospel.  Last night was the final lesson, and I found it to be very inspiring. 

Last night’s lesson featured the story about the founder of Hoops of Hope.  His initial idea was to shoot free throws to raise money for those orphaned by the AIDS crisis.  The first year, 2004, he raised $3,000 from donations and sponsers.  Now, thousands of people participate in a shoot-a-thon every year to raise money to build medical facilities, buy caregiver kits, and support orphans.  The event has raised over $1,000,000 in 6 years.  The coolest thing about the story?  The founder was 9 years old.  This kid isn’t even in college yet and he’s probably schooling most of us in terms of giving.  His big heart and amazing successes got me thinking.  If a 9 year old kid could start something so huge, why not us? 

I know that life can be hectic sometimes, but does that chaos get in the way of what we’re giving back?  All of us have been blessed with gifts-we are great talkers, or great friends, or talented musicians or atheletes.  Isn’t it time we start to put those talents to use (if we’re not already)?  Think about it.  If all of us gave at least one hour of our time a week to doing something we are already good at, but for the benefit of others, what a world it would be.  We could be changing lives left and right!  Since this summer many of us will have more down time, why not spend some of that time volunteering?

Or, what about all we have?  If you are a starving college student, you may be ready to skip to the next paragraph, but please hear me out.  While we may not be the richest people in the US, we are living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  We have all sorts of freedoms and opportunities, and we take them for granted sometimes.  $35 dollars a month can save a child in a foreign country.  $100 once in a while can buy livestock, which can change a family’s life.  If you are really, ridiculously poor, do you have clothes you don’t wear?  Donate them.  Do you have movies you rarely watch?  Get a Netflix account and donate them.  Hey, we all have blood-why not see if you can donate?

We all have ways we can give to others-sometimes we are held back.  There are many psychological models on behavior and why people do the things they do (or don’t).  One that stands out is the Theory of Planned Behavior.  This theory takes into consideration 3 factors that determine whether or not a person will act: Attitude, Social Norms, and Perceived Control.  What I find most interesting is that when this theory is applied to the giving of our time and resources (more specifically why people don’t give that much), it looks like we are the only ones holding us back.  We don’t give because we don’t care, or we are alone in our giving, or because we don’t know if we even can help. 

I think it’s time to stop this pattern, and gain an attitude of compassion and self-efficacy.  We can get others involved, and we can all help, since we are all talented, gifted, unique individuals.  I know that some of you already volunteer and give, and that is wonderful.  I have seen amazing things happen due to Middle School and High School students.  I have seen thousands of dollars raised, and houses built, and people reached, all by students.  We can change the world, it’s all a matter of knowing that we can and doing something about it.

Challenge: Find a way you can make some change happen this summer.  Then, tell me about it!