I have a sore throat.  This morning I woke up and felt that nagging pain, and I thought, well that’s not good.  But, I stayed positive, thinking that maybe with a glass of water, a hot shower, and cough drops it would go away.

No such luck.

The pain is still there, and when I realized that it wasn’t going away (at about 7:30 this morning) I started to panic.  See, a sore throat and croaky voice may not be a big deal to most, but to someone who uses her voice to lead worship every Sunday…well, let’s just say it threatened to ruin my day.  I didn’t know what to do.  I started thinking of the best way to resolve the issue, all the while desperately popping Ricolas and praying.  Should I go see a doctor?  Should I go home and try to sleep it off?  Should I drown myself in tea?  This can’t be happening-I’m a singer, for goodness sake!

I thought you were a servant of Christ, first and foremost.

This thought stopped me in the midst of my fretting.  See, I started reading Romans yesterday, and I took special notice of the way Paul defines himself in his greeting.  He calls himself a servant of Christ, and nothing but that.  I thought that was such a neat thing, that Paul would find his entire identity in servanthood, and I prayed that whole day for such an attitude. 

And now, here I was, freaking out about a sore throat!  I mean, it is true that I sing to serve, but even when my voice is compromised I am still a servant.  Unfortunately I forgot that temporarily, and I am sorry I did. 

But I learned something today (or rather I refreshed a lesson I had already learned but had forgotten).  In ten years I may not have an amazing voice.  I may not be a lot of things that I currently find identity in.  But one thing will never change-my identity in Christ, as a daughter and servant.

So, Aaron, the guy who leads the high school band, will be covering for me and Nason in middle school service this week.  And he’s going to do an awesome job!

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Yesterday, I took a CPR/First Aid certification course at the Red Cross.  It was about eight hours, and I learned how to perform CPR, manipulate a person into a ‘rescue position,’ make a sling, and use an AED.  I learned how to check for signs of life and what to look for when determining if somebody is having heat stroke or if they are going into shock.  I like being prepared for difficult situations.  I have taken First Aid, defensive driving courses, and hopefully in the future I will take the classes to obtain a concealed weapons permit.

However, I sincerely hope I never have to use the training I pursue.  I do not want to have to give somebody chest compressions.  I don’t want to have to save a choking infant.  I really hope that the only time I shoot a gun is on the range.  And, I don’t want to have to pull myself out of a skid on a slippery road.

But I am happy that if something were ever to go wrong, and myself or somebody else was in danger, I have the knowledge and resources available to do something about it.  I do not want to be a bystander who does not know what to do and is useless because of it.  I want to be able to help myself, or my loved ones, or even complete strangers, and I can’t do that if I lack the skills necessary for the situation.

P. S. About the concealed weapons permit…I know that concealed weapons are controversial, and I understand why that is the case.  But something I heard lately from a father stuck with me.  1 in 3 women will be assaulted at one point or another, and it is a huge fear of his because he has three daughters.  As a woman, it is a fear of mine as well.  I know that terrible things can happen in this world, and if I ever find myself in a threatening situation, I refuse to go down without a fight.  I will use whatever resources are available to me, and I would feel much better if one of those resources was a revolver that I could carry in my bag.  That is why I want to obtain the permit to carry.

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.

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!