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The Altar Call

Session five is always the night where the speaker leads kids to Jesus and at the end if they believe (for the first time) Jesus is who he says he is and that he died for us they stand up. Then after the session ends the group leaders chat with the kids who stood up.

This was a weekly thing in the Baptist church I attended from the age of six to twelve. Every Sunday at the end of church we would sing Just as I am with heads bowed while the preacher would say things such as if Jesus is calling you to come down to the front and you ignore him and die this week you will go to hell. As an adult I can see where they fully believed this and were passionate but as a kid this was as frightening as the thought of Hell. I am not even sure what age I was when I finally got the nerve to go down front and then was taken into a private room where a nice lady had her Bible out and we read some scripture and then prayed for Jesus to come into my heart. A lot of Christians can tell you the actual date they were saved, this hot mess here can’t even tell you the age she was much less a date.

Of course we sing before the talk started and I don’t even know the name of the song we were singing. It was new to me so cut me some slack. Anyway as we were singing it was like the room changed and all of a sudden I realized my father and his parents are singing straight up with Jesus and I could feel that presence which immediately made me start crying. And then all the kids who passed away in the burn unit came flying into my head. It was rare to lose a kid but we did and they all came back and most I hadn’t thought about in twenty years. But they are all up there too with my dad and Jesus. How awesome that day will be when I’m reunited with my Heavenly Father and all the special people who have gone before me.

Mole Moral ~ Earth is temporary while Heaven is forever!

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Turn the Light On

Jesus said “I am the light of the world!” While sin will lead down a path of darkness , following Jesus will lead you into the light.

Sin disguises itself as a pet when in reality it is a predator. Noah talked about a guy in South Africa that adopted a hippo as a pet. True story as I just looked it up. He was busy telling everyone it was like a son to him and as safe as a dog. Until the day the hippo chewed him up and killed him. Hippos kill more humans than lions. Just like sin, neither are your friends.

Confession to God and a trusted friend can help you fight your way out of bad choices. My favorite saying “everyone doesn’t need to know everything about you but someone should”. I have a friend like that and if she only hadn’t moved away. We had some good times on her front porch when I was freaking out!

So I promised The Who said I love you first story. Herc leaned over and asked so I told him. Anyway Brian was dropping me off at nursing school after Thanksgiving break. I had been trying to get the nerve up to say it for a couple weeks. So I’m pretty sure I blurted it out mid conversation. Yes he said it back, I ran up to my floor and told my two besties it finally happened. At least he didn’t throw up after I said it, like Noah’s now wife did. She had eaten bad fish the night before.

Mole Moral ~ Light is light, sin is darkness.

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The Key to Fishing

I am writing about this mornings session in quite a bit of pain. I do not know what is going on with my right rib cage but the pain upon breathing has really ramped up since this morning. If I had a rash I’d diagnose myself with shingles since it seems to be along a nerve route. But it’s probably the American Mole Virus again. Ha.

So this morning Noah talked about fishing and what are you looking for in life. Is it social media affirmation, is it money, is it a good job, a place to belong, joy or a ring by spring. All of this stuff brings about temporary happiness. Just look at the famous people who have all of this but are still a mess and make insane decisions.

If you lean on Jesus and follow his ways you will have fulfillment that lasts. However this is easier said than done. Just like the best fisherman know where to fish because good fishing is choosing the right spot.

He told a story about a friend in high school that was in a very bad accident who should have died and if lived basically been a vegetable for life. But he proved everyone wrong and turned into a miracle and walked out of the hospital. He wasn’t the nicest person prior but after he made up his mind that he was so close to dying that now he would live. He changed his entire outlook became nice to others and would seek out those sitting alone. Noah invited him to youth group and he came and ended up with 400 plus kids attending from 100. It seems a life altering event always goes one of two ways. You change like the friend or you worry you are going to die for the rest of your life which must be a horrible way to live.

Mole Moral ~ Remember God loves you just as you are today. No need to straighten up before you meet him. I mean he deals with me on a daily basis so the rest of you are a piece of cake!

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If You Know, You Know

Big Stuf kicked off last night. The speaker was new to camp and his name is Noah Herrin. It seems his job is speaking around the country and not tied to Atlanta like a lot of the speakers have been.

The theme of camp this year is HELLO. Jesus says hello in the form of I am and fill in the blank. They told us to fill in blank and my answer I am sick. Some people yelled out excited and things like that.

The recurring theme of the talk was you can either know of Jesus or know Jesus. Knowing of him gives you knowledge and can change some things while actually knowing him changes everything. He then told us the story of Andrew meeting Jesus. Jesus came walking by and Andrew just started walking with him. I would have started running if some dude was following me. But since Jesus is bold he straight up asked Andrew what he was doing. Shortly after Andrew asked where he was staying. If some rando asked me where I was staying I might call 911. But again Jesus is not me (that’s a very good thing) and invited him to come and see. And then Andrew joined him and after one day ran home and got his brother. I always wondered why Simon’s name was changed to Peter. Simon means shaky and unstable while Peter means rock and steady. I thought that was pretty cool. I wonder what Jesus would change my name to?

Noah likened following Jesus to cliff jumping. His friends invited him and he wasn’t so sure but he did jump and found out he enjoyed it. He said now if he would have stood on the cliff and watched or hung out at the bottom and watched, it would not be the same experience. He hopes everyone meets Jesus this week. That sentence right there flashed me back to my first camp of 2008. I would say yes I met Jesus right then and there and for the first time in 41 years I could finally feel love. Before this I knew people loved me but I never felt it. This is another example of you know, you know. If you don’t be glad because I missed out on a lot up until that point in my life. So just like the speaker I hope every kid here leaves knowing God loves them!

Mole Moral ~ Even so sick I should have stayed home, camp is amazing and worth potentially never getting better!

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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.