Monday 15 august 1 15 /08 /Aug 03:33

God truly knows our hearts. He knows what we need just when we need it. He knows our thoughts, our emotions, our struggles, our weaknesses, our strengths, literally everything. And when we trust in Him, He will take the path that we have chosen and make it glorious and use us to glorify His kingdom. 

 

I've been shown this in an incredible spectrum this summer. Especially two weeks ago. Three weeks ago was a struggle for me just because of how homesick I was yet again. But God knew just what I needed in order to be a vessel for Him, an answer to my prayers, as well as just what I needed to become joyful in my last couple weeks up here. Three weeks ago I didn't have a camper. Instead, I was on something called relief which means that I took campers on the days their counselor had off. So it was different and I learned how important that one to one relationship in camp can be! That week was a little dull and impersonal, but like I mentioned, God is the ultimate healer.  

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Last week I didn't consider my camper a camper. She's a new friend to me. I've reaffirmed that God works in such mysterious yet beautiful ways. My new friend has an incredible story…full of testimonies an eighteen year old woman should never have to tell. What blows my mind even more about her is how much faith she has compared to what she's been through in her life. But what truly gets me…and has been a reminder of how real and living God truly is, is the fact that she's never had a Bible and can't read yet has one of the most personal relationships with God that I've ever encountered. God brought her here last week to get through some things in her life that have been exasperating in hopes to grow spiritually. What I realized about her was that she knows God, but not about God. Well, let me tell you, God also put the two of us together for many reasons. I'm so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet her and the talks that we've had to encourage each other and lift each other up. 

 

Mid-week she really wanted to leave because she felt out of place as a result of a lack of campers to relate to. She just wasn't having the kind of time she expected. She ended up calling home and receiving some pretty intense news which just ended up being one more reason why God brought her here. The news she received and the reason why I am her counselor this week perfectly lined up. I have no doubt God knew exactly what He was doing. 

I have never so easily shared Truth with someone like I did last week. I just entrusted that God would work through my actions and words and I have to say that God completely intervened. My camper made a one-hundred and eighty degree turn around in her perspective about camp. She went from wanting to leave before the week was over to wanting to come back next year for a longer time! She even admitted the night before how much she was going to miss camp and how much at home and peaceful it felt to be here. 

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You see, God is so evident when we just lay back and let Him do His thing. I can not express the way God uses us when we are open to Him and are open with Him about our desires. He listens. When our desires are opportunities for His kingdom to be glorified, I'm almost positive He will never oppose. Our Father will provide us with such opportunities on His time. 

 

One thing I realized last week however, is how truly important knowledge of His word is. To keep our thoughts and minds in His direction. His word is surely not dead. The importance of scripture has never been so clear to me until this summer. In order to be an efficient encourager as a servant of God the way I desire, I need to study his Living and Breathing word in order to have Biblical truth to always relate to whatever life seems to throw at us. Not just a verse here or there but the whole background and full Biblical stories because single verses are only a piece of the full pie. A piece can be beneficial but think about how much more fulfilled we can be when we have the whole pie! 

By Kylie Nall
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Tuesday 26 july 2 26 /07 /Jul 21:01

My Papa blessed me with another week full of lessons. It took me a little while this week to see what God was trying to teach me but of course…He found ways to show me. 

My camper was full of energy. He had PDD, which means post developmental disorder, which is on theDSCN3164.JPG autism spectrum. He had all kinds of perks that at first I struggled to see as good things. For instance, he only listened when he really wanted to. But as time went by I really noticed that at times he was just kind of in his own little world and most likely didn’t acknowledge me because he truly didn’t hear me. What I had to do was actually go to him and gently grab his face to look at mine and then talk to him to truly get his attention. He also had a fear of bugs in general. If he saw one, he would scream and flail his arms and sometimes run in circles or to someone to be comforted. This was actually really funny at times even though I had to hold my laughter only because we would be peacefully sitting and all of the sudden he would stomp his foot and scream “ahh shoo fly get..get out of here…..don’tttt do that..!!!” I used this fear at times to get him to not go a certain way I would say “don’t go that way, there’s a lot of bugs!” it worked! He was just really funny. He would also love club cars and run after them or towards them to hop on and just sit which at times were a huge distraction when we were on our way to something. He had a very short attention span and there were times where I could read on his face while we were sitting with the group when he just about to get up and start dancing or yelling something really loud. When I noticed this I would just get his attention and say don’t even think about it and he would give me a large smirk. He loved toy story especially the third one and would also talk about doodleberries a lot which I have yet to figure out what those are! 

The first part of the week I really did not enjoy my camper. I became very stressed out because of his non-compliance and his wandering and not listening. Yet, I prayed to my Father that he would give me patience, endurance, energy, and joy with my camper. He answered my prayers. The last day after serious prayer God allowed me to truly enjoy my camper. He opened my eyes to all the gifts and joy He blessed my camper with. I laughed with him and just enjoyed myself.  

DSCN3119.JPGAs I was thinking yesterday walking around watching my camper giving him a little time to himself the thought popped through my mind that I had just experienced a little week in the life of a parent with a child who has autism. It’s not easy. This disability in particular causes an individual to be in their own world in a sense and a lot of times are stubborn in their decision; ‘set in their ways’ if you will and in order to do what you need them to, sometimes you have to make your way look better than theirs. This can be a tedious and loud process especially if the child truly doesn’t like what you want them to do. I had the blessing to be surrounded by people who understood that this child had a disability and were slightly more accepting of his shrill disobedience. But if I had been in the middle of the city with this child and he decided to throw one of his tantrums while sitting down in a restaurant because a fly comes near his food, I’m not quite sure how I would feel with the turning heads and judgmental eyes. I can only imagine. 

God is still at work in me…of course. I realized this week randomly how selfish this world truly teaches us to be. I was thinking about ambitions and how much we do things…even Christians and say “oh well I really feel like God is leading me to this place” and ultimately were looking to this place with the idea of growing ourselves. Yes, this is important but it’s also in a way wrong in my opinion. Honestly, I came to this camp as a way to get away to somewhere where nobody knew me and to test my faith and grow spiritually. But my underlying motivation was for my growth...not to come here just because I felt as though God was calling me here and because I prayed about it so much to be sure it’s where God planned for me to be. No, I’m not saying that coming to this camp was not part of God’s plan for me because I feel like it is. What I’m saying is at times we as even believers still at the bottom of our life choices are all about how we can benefit and not how we can sacrifice our lives at the feet of Christ and His will. I came to this camp truly seeking a fun time and with underlying selfish reasons. But as the weeks have passed I’ve come to the conclusion that it is impossible to come to this camp for oneself. You don’t have time for yourself here, you have to have a prepared heart and willing heart to be a servant for Christ to these children, young adults, and adults. Yet through the stripping of self, I have slowly been more and more clothed with Christ’s perfection, as I don’t have the strength and endurance to go on in my moral wardrobe.  

... Are we willing to do things and go places where we might not be so happy and we might feel out of place knowingly, and still choose to go this path because we know it’s our Creators will…and ultimately what’s best for us? 

A portion of my conversation with Christ this week:

“My desire should be to talk about you continuously and lead others to your path as you lead me. God I want to be consumed with you and by you. Lord I invite you into my heart to take over. Lord and when I say take over I literally mean make me yours and not me. God I can't guide myself. It just doesn't work for me. I tear myself down and push myself and expect so much out of myself and ultimately strive to be perfect. Lord I pray that I can see myself in your eyes; that I can start to be happier with just who you created me to be. Papa, that the joy that you gift every person with, with just your presence, can be restored in my heart. Father I pray that you settle my heart. Because Lord I have to remind myself that wherever you lead me is where my home is because that is where you have placed me and where I can grow the most with you. Jesus I love you. You are almighty and you are my father and my best friend…” 

I was missing home a lot this week and just really short-tempered in my thoughts. But through much prayer and scripture God kept me sane and even allowed me joy in the midst of my own self-pity. He opened my eyes to many new ideas and I know if I’m seeking, He will never run out of things to teach me. I love the journey and the leader of my journey even more. 

By Kylie Nall
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Thursday 21 july 4 21 /07 /Jul 20:17

Who created normal? What is normal? Who IS normal? I’ve always thought there was no such thing as normal but never really proved that until this summer. Truly, ‘normal’ is actually ‘unique’ in society. The ‘norm’ seems to be someone who is unique and original.

 

Watching these kids week after week I have found one thing in common with all of them…they are who God created them to be and nothing less. The male head counselor and I were sitting one day last week just in the midst of the kids and were having a really great conversation. He ended on this note…”I think the reason why I’ve chosen to work with disabilities for as long as I have is because every single one of them will be them.” We started pointing out all of the specific campers that just seem to stand out because their personalities are just more outgoing and just saying so and so will be so and so and not ever try to be someone they aren’t. A lot of them don’t have the mental capacity to even think about trying to become like someone else. The majority of them are one hundred percent ok with being who they are and don’t have a care in the world if someone likes them or not. I believe I had subconsciously realized this but had yet to talk about it with someone until this moment. God opened my eyes to this and I am beyond thankful for this realization because I’ve always…always struggled with confidence and just accepting all the perks and gifts and talents God has given me and the characteristics I see in others that I so many times to desire, I wasn’t created to have for a reason. A saying I’ve heard all throughout my life is “if everyone was the same and looked the same this world would be a boring place.” God knew that…of course (He’s all-knowing!) and in creating this world He made His children different with complimenting characteristics in order to piece people together like puzzles and where some fail others pick up with their strengths. You can see that happening so clearly in just our little world of campers. In some ways it’s happening better than in everyday civilization because these kids are who God created them to be unlike so many people in society today. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

My campers this week were once again nothing short of incredible. One of them is one the most joyful people I have everDSCN2984.JPG met. She doesn’t try to be though. She just is and she makes everyone laugh without even realizing it. Just some things she did...she would always randomly yell ‘BOO’ to everybody and of course not really scared I’d scream and she would CRACK UP! Not just laugh but literally crack up and be like ‘I scared you’...’I got you.’ Then other times she would say…’so how long you been here?’ or ‘so you had a good time today?’ or ‘so what’d you do yesterday/today?’ I probably answered those questions, no lie about forty times in the span of one week. I usually would answer the question fully about half the time and then the other half I’d just be like I did the same thing you did or say I went to breakfast, lunch, than dinner and then I went to bed! What tickled me the most is she would always be most amazed with the last thing I’d say so when I told her I went to bed she’d reply with a huge “WHAT? You went to beeedd? Wow...I never did that before, I didn’t know thattt!”  She was definitely fun and gave me some genuine laughs; I already miss her. I prayed with/for her every night and when we would say ‘amen’ in unison she would grab my face and give me a kiss on both cheeks and say ‘you’re so sweet’ and I’d give her a big hug and she’d say ‘love you!’ and we’d exchange a big smile. (We told her to smile as big as she could for this picture! :) )

 

My other camper was just as amazing. She was definitely more dependent so equaling the amount of time I spent with my two campers was a struggle but I did the best I could. She was fifteen years old and her intellectual capacity was that of a three year old at most. But she was one of the sweetest and affectionate people I’ve ever met. She could walk slowly…almost like a watching a toddler who has only been walking for a couple months. So for long distances I would just push her in a wheel chair. She has a seizure almost every night which was scary at first for us but I'm sure it's more scary to her because she's conscious during them and tries to get up and 'walk away from them.' She’s not one to like eye contact for very long unless she knows you. The week was the first week in her life to be away from family for over just one night and she was with me for six! She was wonderful the whole time. I honestly just felt a huge connection with her and we didn’t have to speak words in order to show our care for each other. Some of her perks were just making little noises that resembled a dolphin when she was excited or was communicating. Other times which really made me laugh, would be when she would lick me randomly out of either sensory reasons or just out of her way of showing affection. She would also sometimes eat my hair and then start pulling it out of my head with her mouth, which always made me laugh. With as little as she talked, everyone loved her and I especially loved this girl, it was almost as if she was my little sister. At times she would get really close to my face to look me straight in the eyes to get my attention and I’d just give her a big smile and say “hey sweetie” and she’d just light up and make her little noises. I cried a bit when she left because the first thought that rushed through my mind was…”what if I never get to see her again?” I can only trust that my God’s will for me is perfect and if I’m meant to see her again than that opportunity will be provided.

 

God definitely blessed me this week after having such a hard week the week before with two amazing girls to take care of that shed a lot of joy into each moment of my week. I couldn’t be more thankful.

I’ve reached the halfway point and I cannot explain in words the depth of God’s sculpting of my character since I’ve been here. I’ve explored more emotions in two months than I honestly have in the past year. It’s only God’s perfect crating abilities at work in my heart. I fall more in love with my best friend and divine Father every day. 

 

PS. I sadly lost a large bundle of photos from this past week so I don't have a decent picture of my second camper :( I know.. it's more disappointing to me, I promise!

By Kylie Nall
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Thursday 14 july 4 14 /07 /Jul 22:59

DSCN2751.JPGI cannot reiterate enough how God uses times of struggle to improve our lives. I’ve said it so many times but I will never stop saying it, look forward to struggles. They are so important to our spiritual growth and maturity.

I say all this because this past week was one of the hardest weeks of my life. I had two campers, both of them beautiful children of God. One of them was incredibly independent, she had such a fun and affectionate spirit and was a joy to be around. She was absolutely obsessed with Chris Brown, and the Jackson 5. The first day I asked her about her family and she started listing a bunch of names and I was thinking, those names were definitely not on your sheet… and then realized she was listing the Jackson 5 because then she said…and and an I’m Janet Jackson! I started cracking up! That’s just a glimpse into this camper’s humor. Another fun thing that we did was she would hold on to the back of my book bag as I pushed my other camper and we would be a train and say Chugga chugga chugga chugga choooo chooo, the whole way down the path to the next activity. She was fun!

DSCN2735One day though with this camper I was walking to the bathroom with her and asked her about her church that she goes to. I asked what she learns at church and she said, “I don’t know.” So I started talking to her about God and how He made her and that He had a son that took away all the bad things she did and will ever do and he loves her more than anyone on this earth…even more than Chris Brown. Throughout my attempt of teaching, I asked her if she understood that and she was like…”huh?” She never seemed to truly understand who God and Jesus are. Which was extremely hard for me because that’s all I wanted her to get out of this week. That Jesus loves her. I can only hope, knowing that our God is full of mercy and unconditional love that if He creates somebody that doesn’t have the capacity to grasp who He is, that He will accept them into His kingdom. It’s just like a small child losing their life too soon in our eyes, and knowing that they never cognitively had a chance to understand and have a relationship with Jesus. 

My other camper was completely dependent. She had a wonderful smile and was really enjoyable but there were some obstacles that we unfortunately never overcame as the week progressed. She couldn’t speak, not even one word, and she also didn’t have control over her limbs so she couldn’t use sign language.

I never knew the power of two words, ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ until this week. I would ask her yes and no questions and she would either move her head up or left for yes or down or right for no. This seemed simple enough and in the beginning her and I did really well communicating. But as the week went on things changed and communication became an extreme barrier. Resulting from health problems and other reasons, she would continually try and tell me things by words, which like I mentioned, couldn’t happen and stopped using her ‘yes’ and ‘no’ signs so I didn’t know what she needed. I know I was getting flustered because my only desire was to help her but I didn’t know what she needed. I can’t imagine what was going on her head because intellectually she is completely able so she knew exactly what she needed to say…but she will never be able to literally say it. I took these thoughts to God one night specifically and was talking to Him and asking Him why He would make someone who could never communicate their needs. I didn’t…and still haven’t… and don’t think I ever will fully grasp why He created somebody with such a disability. All I know is that God was reminding me that He IS the creator and has a reason behind everything He does and some things might be unfathomable to our innocent human brains.

I can’t say that the entire time with my camper was a struggle; there were times when we had some sweet laughs. SheDSCN2756 loved swimming. Although, she could have nothing by mouth and was fed through a g-tube so I had to be super careful that no water from the pool got to her face. But the joy she got out of just floating around in the water warmed my heart for those couple hours we had in the week. The last night however, we had to fill out evaluations sheets with our campers. So I would ask her the questions hoping she would use the yes and no signals and she did for the most part. One of the questions was, would you like to return to camp next summer. And at first she was hesitant and then I was like you can be honest! She said ‘no’. This didn’t surprise me honestly just because of how the week fell into play but as this settled deeper in, it really hit me hard and I ended up breaking down later that night. I took this so personally, like it was my fault she didn’t want to return. But as I kept thinking back on the week, there was really absolutely nothing else I could have personally done to improve her week, I did everything in my power to make her week special and everything that didn’t work out for her was out of my hands.

God reminded me once again why I am here…not only that, but what I’m living my life for. Not for anyone. God has given me a heart to serve His children on this earth, but I have taken that passion to the next level. Instead of making sure I am serving God first and then His service and gifts He places in me will flow out of me. At times I seemed to almost idolize my performance in serving my campers.  I wanted to make sure they had absolutely everything they needed, that they were happy to the point where I would forget to talk to Jesus first and come to him for energy and rejuvenation. “You should have no idols before Me.” I never really focused on this commandment and saw how truly this can be hidden in even our passion for wanting to do deeds for Jesus.

I’m living for Him. He has not failed to remind me of this. 

By Kylie Nall
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Saturday 9 july 6 09 /07 /Jul 16:11

Last week was my favorite week so far. I can't describe the amount of times I laughed and was just overflowing with joy as a result of my campers. They were both full of energy and we three always joked about things and found something to laugh about. We had quiet time together and every night prayed with each other and for each other.

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One of the greatest girls ever, who I was blessed to have as my camper taught me so much about life. Shea mazed me in just the fact that she was so incredibly independent and strong-willed yet so physically dependent. She needed help to do everything physically but mentally she had every capacity to do anything she wanted. She is one of the most amazing women I have ever met and her love for Jesus is so evident. She is gifted with an encouraging heart and was always looking for something to do to help or uplift those around her. She taught me how to express my appreciation for people because although she wasn’t capable of just going straight up to someone and giving them a hug herself she would ask for a hug instead and just tell somebody “I love you!” At times she was very hard to understand but her and I understood each other very well I must say. We had some pretty awesome conversations about life and just struggles and blessings and expressed some of these thoughts in her poetry; she would say it out loud and I would write. When her seven days were up and her parents came to pick her up, her sorrow hit me like a ton of bricks. As she was wheeled away she couldn’t stop a loud wail and tears from her eyes and one of the counselors said, “now that’s true love…” so perfectly fitting for the moment. She is somebody I will never forget and we will hopefully continue our friendship for years to come!

Last week God opened my eyes to something so incredibly important. As the week was coming to an end I got really discouraged one night by something that was said to me by a camper. Thoughts of inadequacy overwhelmed me and I fought tears as I was getting my campers ready for bed. The whole time I was praying that God would give me the strength to make it through the night and as I was praying with my girls God passed a thought through my distressed mind, that I put way too much of my self-worth in people.      DSCN2546.JPG

I let one sentence from one person make me feel practically worthless when I knew I was giving everything I had to Jesus and that is all I need to live my life for. Not to satisfy any person.

This seems like such a simple realization but in the moment I was blown away because I had never realized how much care I put into if every single person around me appreciates who I am. I was bothered so much because of the fact that I was truly giving everything I had into the week last week and when I was discouraged it came to me as a shock because even after giving my everything, I still wasn’t good enough to someone.

I am finally fulfilled by the fact that I can do nothing to actually be good enough for my Papa; I’m already more than enough to Him without doing one deed.

I've never felt like a true servant of God like I did last week. I didn't realize how much of myself I was giving until the end of the week when I was starting to miss my girls already and miss just taking care of them. God allowed me to give myself to Him constantly every day and as a result of that I was giving these girls all the love I am capable to give them as a human being for Christ. I cannot begin to explain the rewards of truly sacrificing yourself daily to Christ and allowing Him to pour out of you. I dove into the word last week out of strong desires to be close to my Creator and at one point read Philippians 2:16-18 which says, 

But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.

This could not have been shown more clearly in the past week in my life and God reaffirmed the work He is doing in my life through such coordination with His word and my relationship with my campers. He is showing me something new every day!

 

By Kylie Nall
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