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Training

Finding Jesus is easy, following Jesus is hard. Surely you do not grow in your comfort zone but when thrown out of it you either grow or die. I’ve worked with several people that were miserable in their job but so comfortable with the routine they have been stuck for years. Inertia is a mortal disaster. To succeed you must keep moving forward.

Godly training is good for all life to come. It’s rather simple in design but often times difficult to carry out. John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. I can only speak for myself but there are many people I know that are almost near impossible to love. They are so annoying or time demanding, or difficult that I often forget this simple commandment.

I’m trying to write this on the bus and it’s just not working. The kids are playing bingo and our new bus driver is horning people waiting till the last minute to get over in this traffic jam. The bus is egging her on to park the bus and kick butt. She’s quite the hoot and a good reminder of why the bus ride is one of my favorite parts of camp. I’ll leave you with the most profound statement from last night.

People do not abandon people they love. They abandon people they are using.

Mole Moral~ Love is hard, hate is harder. A week vacation is little to give up to show love to teenagers.

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Worry

If you worry about things you cannot control then worry actually controls you. This word worry always remind me of my Grandma Carty. She was forty-five when my father was born and was convinced she would not live to see him graduate from high school. The first thing she told my mom when she met her was that she didn’t have long to live. I remember going to see her on the weekends and she was always worried she was going to die. Not only did she live to see her son graduate high school, she lived to see me graduate nursing school and my sister high school. I thought she lived to ninety-three but when I was looking at her death announcement a couple of weeks ago I believe she was ninety-one. So she lived over half her life worried that she was going to die soon.

Today’s talk was mostly about anxiety and depression which is a huge issue these days with a lot of people. The lockdown was not kind as we were created for community and not isolation. It is impossible to fake anxiety depression or worry but it’s easy to fake being ok. My own father faked being ok to me but it was easier for him because the last time I saw him was Christmas 2019. The real fear of covid for Brenda was a great excuse.

Currently one in six teenagers have considered suicide. This is a mental health issue not a sin. Self harm has also risen whether it be cutting, eating disorders, drug addiction etc. Anxiety is like rocking in a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere. Stuart offered four things to help with anxiety.

1. Get control over the things you can control such as integrity, love and humility.

2. Get clear on whose opinion of you actually matters and no not all one thousand Instagram followers opinions matter. He suggested taking a small piece of paper such as a post it note and writing the names of these people on it. He called it the square squad and to let them know they are on you square squad and to help you.

3. Get honest about the things that really matter. Does it really matter if not everyone likes you?

4. Get help for the things you can’t control. He was referring to professionals such as counselors. I’m not sure why this country has such a stigma about asking for help. It’s almost as if you admit that you are weak and broken you are viewed as a loser and yet it takes a pretty strong person to admit they need help and go down the road to find themselves. Almost everyone is afraid they will find an ugly person when generally the beautifulness finally emerges through the process. It’s been a long time since I graduated counseling but it was by far the best thing I ever did. I almost left my husband during this time and if not for the love dare I’m not sure we’d be together. I daily blogged that on Facebook and the posts are on this blog if anyone wants to read.

This was my favorite service so far even though it started out a bit shaky. We were singing and I had my left foot resting on the chair. When I went to put it down, I got it all tangled up, lost my balance and almost fell. This would have been fine if I wasn’t sitting by Tom, Kathy and Herc. Tom leaned over and said I about gave him a heart attack. I said it’s ok this is kind of normal for me. This camp has been very low key for the nurse duties which has given me the quiet time I needed more than I realized.

Mole Moral ~ Emily’s life verse. 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

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Death

Session five is always what I refer to as the altar call in the baptist church. Every single year Stuart does it differently and beautifully and this year did not disappoint. The bottom line ~ dead things don’t breath and religion leaves you breathless. We don’t need religion as our way to Jesus because Jesus has come to us.

His visual was amazing this year. He put these words on the steps.

God

Sacrifice

Priest

Temple

Laws

People

So we attempt to follow the laws which we constantly mess up thanks to sin. Back in Jesus day people would go to the temple to meet with a priest who would make a sacrifice to get right with God. This process is repeated over and over again. Stuart had a seventh grader running up and down the stairs while he was talking until the kid was near out of breath. He then had him stop and whipped out a slide. He told the kid to go to the top and he is now God. Then said don’t get a big head cause you aren’t really God. He had him slide down to represent Jesus coming to us.

Stuart addressed the only way to God is through Jesus issue. He said one solution is not exclusive if that solution is offered to everyone without exception. Stuart was diagnosed with covid at the end of March last year when it was brand new. He was on a ventilator and ended up having a heart attack as well. He was near death on more than one occasion. His kidney doctor called his wife and said I’d like to try a plasma exchange. I’m not sure if it will help. She did not say no I want to wait for other options she said if you think it might help do it. After all what other option do I have.

The final day of camp starts in about an hour and it’s going to be awesome.

Mole moral ~ The greatest commandment is love your God with all your heart soul and spirit and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.

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Toxicity

If I’m real honest here I had a hard time paying attention to this message. I have doodles all over my paper. Maybe it’s because over the years I’ve already cut out a lot of the toxic stuff in my life. Also God chopped a huge one out of my life a couple years back when I changed jobs.

I am guilty of toxic thinking about myself. According to the speaker we have between thirty and sixty thousand thoughts a day and seventy five percent are negative. They are so automatic we don’t even notice them. So true. I was out this morning doing a coffee walk and I passed a few runners. I immediately thought they were thinking look at that idiot walking she should be running. Yet when I pass walkers I think good for them, they are off the couch. I currently can’t run unless I want to flare up my plantar plate tear that I swear is never going to heal.

Toxic relationships are another. Sometimes those are hard to get out of and get over. The friend that I first started walking and then running with turned so toxic that we had to end the friendship. It was hard as we worked together but I’ll be honest and when she left for a different job I threw a party in my head. Watch out for toxic people, no where does Jesus say you have to be friends with everyone.

Finally there is toxic behavior such as lying or being manipulative. I think one could also add drinking, drug abuse, smoking, cussing, pornography, bullying, gossiping and a host of others. Often we think we can manage this behavior and assume it’s harmless but neither is true. It’s best to kill it, before it kills you.

Mole Moral ~ Pastor Herc’s life verse. John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

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The Comparison Game

Session two did not disappoint. They dove right in to a big topic that tied into my blog earlier this morning. Comparing ourselves to others is instinctual. No one even needs to be taught this. Can you imagine a class called comparison 101 identifying your perceived short comings by focusing on others. This little game can ruin friendship, marriages and lives and social media has poured gas on this behavior and set it on fire.

How many times do we compare our real life to someone’s filtered life posts on social media. How many times do you look at something and think I could never be that great. This is a direct result of real versus reel. Your real life compared to someone’s highlight reel. They post only the best parts of their life and leave the crappy stuff off. Think about this the next time you are scrolling social media.

The comparison game is as meaningless as chasing wind and trying to catch it. It leads to a lose lose situation. Either you feel inferior to others or superior to others. I’ve experienced both but I will share a superior story that came to mind. It actually started as inferior and later turned to superior. My parents divorced when I was five in 1972. My parents were told my sister and I were ruined because they chose not to stay married. I spent my early years proving these people wrong. I graduated from college with a bachelors degree in nursing, the first in my family. I got married and am still married thirty one years later. I have a job I enjoy ninety-five percent of the time. I have three girls who are doing well regardless of the fact their parents stayed married while everyone else was getting divorced. I have to watch myself not to look at those whose parents stayed together and start comparing how they turned out compared to me. In the grand scheme of things it’s irrelevant.

Their is only one of me (thank goodness for everyone’s sake) and only I can do me and no one else. If only I could remember and live this out all the time, I wouldn’t have time for comparisons.

Mole Moral ~ If I could have one wish it would be this, that every single teenager could experience Big Stuf camp at least once in their life!

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Big Stuf Is Back

It’s been over seven hundred days since the last time I was at Big Stuf camp. The hotel and camp look the same as if it was just patiently waiting for the kids to return. This years theme is Breathe and what a perfect choice. There were so many times over the past year and certainly the past three weeks I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.
I didn’t have paper last night to take notes so this blog is straight from memory. The speaker who was new to me was dynamite. Very engaging which is always a plus when trying to speak to 750 teenagers. He spoke about the pace of your life and what drives that. Say what?

Death and social media spoke loudest to me. I’m still working through the death of my father. I’ve known for so long social media is such a ruse. You can pretend to be anyone you want. You can take 800 photos and use the right filters to look awesome in one picture. Then a low self esteem kid sees it and thinks I’ll never look like that not acknowledging it’s fake. And for the faker the amount of time and energy it takes to keep up that persona is life killing. A long time ago I decided people either like me for who I am or they can get lost.

I’m not sure how I spun off onto that tangent but anyway the bottom line “what you run to, determines your pace.” Jesus says come to him all who are weary and burdened (raising my hand screaming that’s me, right here Jesus!) for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Never does he promise to take our junk away but if we run with him, he will make it easier.
WordPress has changed how to edit and I’m getting so frustrated I’m cussing like a sailor at Jesus camp. So I’m ending this before they wash my mouth out with soap. I’m staying with sophomore girls this year so I need to get my mouth under control. Off to the beach for quiet time.

Mole Moral ~ The bus ride was long and crazy but it’s still one of my favorite part of camp.

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Salvation Mountain

I wish I could remember how I heard about Salvation Mountain but I don’t have a clue. I told Emily not only were we taking the Southern route home from California but we were dipping down so I could see it.

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I read up on it yesterday as we were suppose to visit it then, but yesterday’s flat tire made our plans change. Anyway the guy who created it accepted Jesus into his heart in 1967 while in Vermont. He decided he wanted to build a hot air balloon and worked on it for 14 years never getting it to fly. He then decided to stay one more week to make a monument and weeks turned into months and months into years. He started by taking things from the dump and then fill it with sand, cover it with cement and then painted it. A lot of the time he used too much sand and not enough cement. Therefore, after four years and fifty foot high, it came crashing to the ground. He however was not discouraged and started over with more smarts.
The second time he used adobe clay and straw. He would then paint it. The more coats of paint, the stronger it became. This also prevented erosion. After ten years the mountain had gained notoriety but the area was owned by the federal government. They had issues with a religious monument at the entrance to slab city so hired environmental specialists to run tests and declared it a toxic wasteland. The locals did not agree and donated money and he hired his own and there was zero toxic chemicals nor lead in paint. So the government left him alone.
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He lived on the mountain until the age of 79 in his truck.
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He lived a simple life with no electricity, running water, technology etc. He used all donated paints on the mountain using the ugly colors for the bottom coats and the pretty ones for the top coats. He went to be with the Lord in 2014 at the age of 82.
Mole Moral ~ The location may have been shaky but it was awesome. Look carefully and you can see me at the top behind the O in GOD. Emily’s idea!!
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God Friended Me

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If you haven’t seen this show, you should. I think it ranks right up there with This is Us. I started watching mostly because I am a Facebook junkie and I thought how cool would it be to get a friend request from God. Miles who gets the request is an atheist and is convinced someone is behind it so of course his Indian friend is a computer genius and is busy trying to trace who keeps sending the friend requests. It is so well written and it just keeps tying one episode to the next. I usually binge watch TV shows but this one I watch every week.

Although I am sure when the show ends they will discover a person is behind it. Someone is sending him friend requests of people who need his help. I have always felt if a person is quiet and listens (not audibly) they can hear God and things he would like you to do. My Christmas Angel yearly program has always been chosen by God. It’s hard to describe but I just know when it is the right person. I’m thinking about it because that starts again on December 14. It is one of the things I look the most forward to.

Mole Moral ~ Just like This is Us, you need to start from the first episode. Another great show is A Million Little Things and also needs to be started from the beginning. This may be the year of the great TV shows.

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Christmas Angel

It was back in 2004 and I was at church when Pastor Tom spoke about a thing he did called Christmas Angel. For the 12 nights before Christmas you pick someone who may be struggling, had a bad year or just need a lift at Christmas and drop off presents. The first night you leave one of something, and the second night two, and the third night three etc. But there is a catch, you drop the present, ring the doorbell, run, and try not to get caught. Of course if you have your children help, they can do the ringing and running and you drive the getaway car. He had this done to him by a mormon family who never revealed who they were. He said we shouldn’t tell either but if someone did that for me and never said who it was, it would bother me forever. So on day twelve I always left a note revealing who I was. Although he said this was a way to bless others, over the years it has been a big blessing to our family.

The person or people I have chosen were always picked by God. He put their name on my heart at some point during the year. Some years it’s really early like April or May and sometimes its been as late as October. Now God doesn’t talk to me in an audible voice for that would surely make me a crazy person but I just get the feeling this person is the one. Most of the time it is a patient I have cared for, but sometimes its a friend that doesn’t know this secret about me. This year I received a little push back from who I chose, to the point I started questioning myself (and God). But in true God fashion I got the answer loud and clear on day ten of dropping gifts off. I received a note saying this girl had a bad year and every night she had to have painful dressing changes and knowing she would be receiving a gift made the discomfort less. I started crying when I read the note. After all it is the exact reason we have done this every year since 2004.

This is the first Christmas we had without Emily. She is working out in California and ended up spending Christmas with the Lindsay’s. If she had to not be at home, she was at the second best place in the world. After all had Brian and I both kicked the bucket, our kids were willed to them. There were times they threatened to kill us so they could live with them. Emily was very sad that she didn’t get to Christmas angel with us. Allyson said to me she liked houses that were farther away because we had more time to talk. So I started thinking about some of the highlights and I shared some of them with this years girl. I decided to blog them tonight for my girls.

The very first year I worked evenings so I had to drop the gifts off during the day. Since I worked the first three days I dropped them off during the day. Apparently that person worked during the day so finally on day three I made my sister call from her work and say this is your Christmas angel please check your front porch. The next year we did my neighbors I had as a child. She was convinced it was a neighbor down the street and each night would yell thank you and say the lady’s name. She never once thought it was me. One year the family lived in De Soto. We arrive in the dark and not one single mailbox has the address on it. None of the houses do either. I attempt to get on google earth but the houses are blocked by trees. By this time I am freaking out, screaming and cursing when the husband walks out to check the mail. Last year the guy I did was convinced he had a stalker and almost called the cops on us. He also had no numbers on his house so my oldest went rooting through his mailbox (which was attached to the house) to see what address was on the mail. One year we did Allyson’s friends who are twins. The first night she was at their house so I had to deliver by myself. I knocked on the door so loud that the guy across the hall opened his door also. I scared them all so bad they bumped heads on the table they were under. Before I had a smart phone I had to use map quest. I arrive to the street I was supposed to turn on and it had turned into a QT with no way to get through. I had to call Brian who had to get out his street guide to get us to the correct house. One year we pulled up to the house and Kayla says they are in the garage. I say no they are not, deliver the gift. She gets out starts to walk and I hear them in the garage. I say F**k they are in the garage, get back in the car.

This year was no different. The very first night I had worked and went by myself. There were no numbers on this house so I had to walk up to the neighbors to see their numbers. I ring the doorbell, hit the second step and my ankle goes sideways. I almost fell and I said oh hell no, I am not getting caught on day one and made it down the steps. One day just as I was getting out of the car, they came out of the house to go somewhere. I jumped back in the car and hid till they left. Then became paranoid they would forget something and come back and catch me. On the eleventh night just as Allyson was crossing the street a van pulled up into their driveway so she came back to the car. We did a lap around the subdivision and then she delivered. But the thing we will always remember is the stop sign in the middle of a street with houses on each side of the road. No cross-road or anything. The sidewalks are on both sides of the streets as well so we couldn’t figure out the purpose. On the last day I was actually going to ring the bell and wait (I’ve only done this one time in all these years) but they were not home.

So what started out as a way to bless others has turned into a Christmas tradition that we all love and look forward to each year. We’ve had great family talks and great family yelling. We’ve brightened 19 families over the years and hope to do 19 more. Although sooner than I care to admit, it will be me by myself so I better keep on running so I don’t get caught.

 

Mole Moral ~ Ding dong ditch still seems wrong even when leaving fun little presents.

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Session 4 The Wise Filter

Jamie took over speaking for the rest of our time together. I really enjoy him and he reminds me a lot of my sister as he also talks a hundred miles a minute. Tonight’s talk was about the wise filter which made me think of something Pastor Tom has said for years “based on my current circumstances what is the wise thing to do.” Dumb decisions don’t matter until they involve things that do matter. Everyone has filters for how they make decisions. Jamie’s examples:
1. Feelings
2. Thinking
3. Wanting
4. Them
5. Boyfriend/girlfriend
6. Culture
I would venture a guess and say most of my decisions are based on thinking. I really don’t care what culture and others think except for maybe my husband. However he said none of these are worthy of your life decisions and smart people do dumb things. Therefore be very careful how you live, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. So he very careful how you live not as unwise but wise.
Jamie then brought a cardboard car front out on stage and sat behind it to demonstrate how to make wise decisions. When one drives he looks two directions both forwards and backwards. So one knows where to go based on where you been (looking behind) and where you are headed (looking ahead). His example from his high school days was that he was invited to two different parties. The last time he hung out with group a they were a lot of fun but they made a whole bunch of stupid decisions with tough consequences. Group b was a little boring but no bad decisions or tough consequences so he chose group b.

Mole moral ~ God’s “rules” seem restrictive and make for a boring life when they actually release you from experiencing pain from making unwise decisions.