I've spent some good time with my uncle's family. It's been nice. I've had some stuff to think about. It's always interesting to see how other families live.

Downside: I've gained weight. I'm still fighting the biggest acne breakout of my life, no exaggeration. (Due to the allergen exposures, I think.) I feel... unattractive. Very unattractive. I'm really struggling with body image issues, and I wonder how in the world God is going to help me get over this. It goes hand in hand with my intense self-loathing.

Tomorrow I head out again, this time only about a ten hour drive. I've been able to catch up with some sleep, which is nice, but I'm still SOOO tired!
I am SO tired, but I feel a milliondy times better than I did at about 10 am. It's amazing what sleep, shower, and food can do for the human soul.

I spent about 40 hours on the road, approximately, and about 8 hours of that was devoted to sleep at some time or another.

So I'm here at my uncle's house, and quite enjoying myself. I'll have more time to devote to describing my adventures when I actually make it to Wisconsin, but for now, I'm just enjoying my family's company and trying to recuperate from utter exhaustion.

P.S.-- Arches National Park! Amazing!!
I am completely humbled right now. I'm in awe. I'm beyond awe.

I can't believe what God has done for me... It's amazing to me that he would care for me so much... I'm just... stunned. Tear-filled eyes lifted to heaven in a silent Hallelujah.

First of all, I made it safely to Y. I thought that was business as usual, but when my grampa took my car to the mechanic's this morning (to check out a leak that mysteriously stopped the day before I left), he noticed that my left rear tire was, to put it simply, very very bad. There were wires sticking out and everything.

When he took it to the mechanic's, he mentioned that I had just come from California. A turned to him in amazement and asked, "How?! I can't believe she made it here!" Indeed, they weren't even sure my grampa would make it to the Walmart to get a new tire.

The tire had separated. While I was driving.

That's the exact same tire that blew out in The Accident back in '06... you know, the one where I should have died? The one where I went blind?

I just... wow. And see, the thing is, I stopped before I got to J and filled up my tires with air (which we had also done just before the blowout-- I'm so done with filling up tires on the road!!), and the psi was fine, around 35. A little low, but not bad. When they checked it this morning, it was 18! Clearly, this happened after I filled up the tires, and I had no clue.

The tire separated. I am still in shock. I literally could have died yesterday. Obviously, God's not done with me yet. :)

That leads me to my second point... I got a job! (Actually, I came home floating on cloud 9 with this news when I found out about the tire-- it makes it so much more poignant.)

It's volunteer, at first, but I'll actually be getting a paycheck after a while, which is an unexpected blessing.

It came out of my decision to start a support group for abuse survivors up where I'm at in Idaho. I had been struggling with the decision for some time- months- thinking, Is this really the right thing to do? Am I qualified for this? Is this what God wants me to do?

After some things falling into place in my mind lately (especially speaking to E's DV and Sexual Assault groups while in Y, and singing for those beautiful girls at camp), I finally decided to just do it. These survivors need someplace to go where they can heal, where they can find God, where they can experience his love. They need this, and so do I. I'm not going to let my fear of making a mistake and losing God's love and affection stop me, because that's just not truth. It's of God, and I'm going for it.

So today, while I was visiting with my wonderful, beautiful, superlative friend and mentor E (who was actually my Victim's Rights Advocate back in the very beginning of my journey towards healing), I told her that I was going to do it. I was going to start a support group in Idaho.

She then started talking about 503c's and grants and umbrellas and all kinds of stuff, and I realized... she wants me to work with her! I'm not in this alone!

So, basically, I'm going to open up an Idaho chapter of her agency that God just started, The Healing Journey. I'm going to start another blog specifically chronicling  that experience.

Then, she starts talking about paychecks! Because I'm going to be under the umbrella of her agency, I'll be getting paid to run this support group. I'm going to do fundraising for the agency.

Y'all, I'm going to be a director of an agency!

God, what are you doing with me?! You're giving me this job, doing what I love? I was going to do it volunteer! You really put this in my lap? WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH ME?! You're amazing!!

I'm just so... humbled. Awed. Nervous. Stunned. Excited.

He wants to use me. I'm so broken. I have so much healing to do. I was so untrusting, not sure that he could provide a paycheck for me when I went back home.

And he still wants me... to be that broken vessel, that cracked jar of clay...
He wants me to blaze for him. How can his light pour out of me if there are no cracks? It stays locked inside.

God has chosen me. He's given me a job, doing what I've been wanting to do for how many months and years now? He's given me my passion... and I know it's going to be hard. That's why I'm nervous. I feel inadequate. But it's not me, it's him. And he knew that he wanted me to do this, and he wrapped his hand around my tire and kept it from disintegrating when, in all reality, it should have.

And I'm in awe.
Today's the day I leave for my Great Adventure.

I'll be stopping by J, a cool gold rush/farming town in the Cali mountains, on the way to Y.

It's a favorite place of my mother and I, and I haven't been there in years. I'm so excited! This is my first time going by myself, so it'll be interesting. Hopefully as fun. I like window shopping with other people, so I can make funny comments and generally goof off with someone else. It looks kinda weird when you're trying on sunglasses and making funny faces by yourself.

As I said, I'm bubbling with excitement. It's that deep-down tingle you get when something really good's gonna happen, and you are savoring the anticipation.

Forget savoring-- I'm going to go shower and pack my car!
I've been packing and preparing all day, and I'm taking a break. Just a few minutes until I run to the store for some GF oats, so that I can make granola.

A: Animals. Talk about any animals you have, had, or want.

The first pet I ever had was Gonzo the hermit crab. I was probably 3 or 4.

I thought he was pretty cute. He'd climb around on my hand and it tickled like crazy!

My mom was a substitute teacher at our church's school, so we ended up loaning him to the school as a class pet. I remember the day I came traipsing in, asking for Gonzo, only to find out that they killed him! Yes! They killed my hermit crab! What's more, he didn't even get a proper burial-- they flushed him down the toilet.

Needless to say, I was heartbroken.

I've wanted a constrictor snake ever since I got to hold an albino burmese python at the county fair around age 7 or 8.

My mom was always afraid it'd get out and eat the cat, though... or the kids. I couldn't stand the thought of losing my cat, so I held off. (The kids? Eh, not so much. ^_^)

I bought a couple of zebra finches with my birthday money one year.

I named them Donny and Marie. (Yes, after the Osmonds. What can I say?) Our neighbor girl opened the cage and Marie flew away, and then I accidentally killed Donny by leaving him in the summer sun some time later.

However, it was Donny outside in the cage (while he was still alive!) that brought around my beautiful kitten, Autumn.

I had her for several years. Not long after she joined our family, she presented us with three kittens- Jade, Jasmine, and Panther, all as pitch black as she. When we left Mom to go into foster care and Mom moved in with her boyfriend, they all kind of went feral and disappeared. Panther made a reappearance for a time, but he, too, finally succumbed to the call of the wild.

When K and I rejoined Mom, we settled into our more permanent apartment home, where another black cat, Inkadink (Inky for short) adopted us. He hung around for years, but the family had to give him to the  pound when they moved across the country. He was set for euthanasia, but C worked at the shelter at that time, and told me he escaped. I figured he would. He was a wiley one. Lazy, but smart.

While I was at Bible college, I had a plant named Harvey. He was the best. Very sturdy. I don't know what kind of plant he was, but he was sure happy to see me. He bloomed constantly, even out of season. One day, though, he was tragically snapped in half by my friend's crazy driving. Even though I tried to heal his wounds, he was never the same, and I put him out of his misery after a while.

About six months after moving to Idaho, I found the current love of my life, Juneaux, on the side of the road. He's my baby boy. Unfortunately, he suffers from severe radius curvus, but I simply don't have the means to get it fixed (several thousand dollars). When he's not going through a growth spurt, it doesn't really bother him. He'll never be an outdoors cat, though, because of this. It puts him at a distinct disadvantage for hunting and defending himself. I'll just coddle him indoors. :)

The week after I found him. 

Intently staring at a spider... 

  He pretty much likes chewing on anything of mine.    

Playing "Goalie"-- one of our favorite games there at the beginning.

"Torpedo"-- definitely his favorite game. (a.k.a. "Crazed Attack Monster")

 I taught him to be a regular gentleman ;)

"Helping" me pack for my trip south (Thanks, son. Sure appreciate that.)

Then there's Emily, who isn't mine, but the family's. I insisted that Juneaux needed a sister when we got the phone call about a stray kitten found in the area. She's cute, but a few fries short of a Happy Meal. At least they get along (now).

I know I'll be on the road for the next week or two, but now that I have my computer back, I'm totally ready to blog again. However, with all the recent emotional stuff going on, I find myself totally zapped and not wanting to blog about feelings or circumstances or anything else going on right now, really. So what else to do but distract myself? :) Emily is doing this right now, and I thought it looked liked fun. It may not be consistent (again, because of the Road Trip), but I'll do one every time I decide to post.

A: Animals... talk about any pets you have, had, or want.
B: Best Friend
C: Cars... talk about your first car, the car you have now, any accidents, driving pet peeves, etc.
D: Day in the Life of Me
E: Embarrassing Moment
F: Faith... where are you now?
G: Growing Up... share a few childhood photos and stories.
H: Hairstyles... what your hair looks like now, ugliest haircut, haircut you want, etc.
I: Interesting Facts About You
J: Jokes
K: Kicking the Bucket... share your bucket list.
L: Love... what are you looking for in a significant other?
M: Music
N: Nothing... talk about something entirely random for a day.
O: Old... what kind of old person do you want to be?
P: Poem
Q: Questions and Answers... have a Q&A with some of your readers.
R: Reading... what are you reading?
S: Smile... five reasons YOU smile.
T: Typing... take a typing test and share it.
U: Underdog... what's an underdog you can't help but stand up for?
V: Vacations... vacations you've taken or dream vacations.
W: Wearing... what is your favorite outfit?
X: X-Treme... something crazy you've done.
Y: Youth... in what ways are you still a kid at heart?
Z: Zen... what calms you down?

This oughta be good. :)
This is the letter I gave to the Boss when I quit. Much prayer went into this, as I wanted to do it in God's spirit, not in a mean, vindictive spirit. I want him to see that there are genuine problems with the way things are, with the way he is, but I don't want to be spiteful. So, here it is...

Pastor B,

This is to notify you of my immediate resignation from the staff of Camp _______.

There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is my health. As you know, it has been declining steadily, despite my efforts to keep it strong.

I feel that I was misled in our phone conversations when I was assured that I would have the time and resources I would need to make my unique health and food situation work. You can imagine my surprise and chagrin when I was informed that complaints had been made about the time and effort I have been putting into maintaining my health through safe food preparation, especially since I had been previously unaware of any problems.

The inconsistency I  noticed in this scenario has, unfortunately, comprised many of my experiences with your leadership. Though this be a professedly Christian camp, I leave with the impression that money means far more than people or standards.

I am grateful for my time at Camp _______. It has been a season of growth, learning, and intense dependence on God. Memories were made that I will cherish for a lifetime, and friendships forged that I hope will last as long. Thank you for affording me the opportunity. I regret that my efforts were not to your standards, but I did my best, and I hope that I was able to leave a positive mark behind.


My mom thinks I should write a letter to the conference president, but I'm definitely shying away from that thought. Maybe it's what God will ask me to do, but it's not my first desire. It seems... mean. Like I'm trying to tear him down. That's not the case, I just know that a lot of people are genuinely frustrated and disillusioned with the church because of his leadership. Not cool. He's turning people off to God, and I don't appreciate that. Still... I think writing to the president is a little drastic... I don't know. Just another thing to pray about.
What an eventful week it's been.

Time is a river, and the current has picked up quite a bit (for me) lately.

I left summer camp early. I really, really struggled with the decision, as there were a lot of reasons that I wanted to stay. First of all, I loved playing the guitar and singing the girls to sleep at night. I almost feel like that was the reason God took me to camp in the first place! It really fulfilled me.

Secondly, the big improv show during the last week was a big draw for me. I love all things humorous (to a point- I hate crude or unintelligent humor), and I'm naturally a rather dramatic person, so it was something special that I was looking forward to. Even now, I feel twinges of anticipation mixed with heavy dollops of regret when I think about it. Also, J fell off a horse and broke his ankle, and M got tackled by a kid and broke her toe... which means that now, the improv group consists of... 3. So sad.

Naturally, I didn't want to leave my new friends. I knew we'd miss each other, and I know the workload will be heavier on them now that I'm gone. That's the last thing I want- to burden the others. In addition, I thought that I was really needed in the kitchen, and that I was more or less "crucial" (not quite that urgent, but I can't think of the right word) to the smooth production of meals for our group of 300. (There's a Music Camp that is renting space on the camp and running concurrently with our camps, so we have quite a lot of people trooping in the cafeteria doors!)

Welll... the day before I left, the Boss took me out of the kitchen because I had made a mistake. The head cook is sick, one of the other staff had just had oral surgery, another one has a colon infection, and another one had the day off, so were were running short on staff. As I was cleaning up from lunch, I decided against cleaning the grill, since we were going to use it later to make quesadillas, and in the past, I've always been told that, if we're going to use the grill later, don't clean it yet. Well, that was the wrong choice. The very next day, I was out, because I wasn't "aggressive enough". Yup. Apparently, there were also complaints from the kitchen staff that I was taking too long to cook my special food and eat, and that I seemed to care more about my food than I did about serving the other food. (Which, by the by, is balogna, because the kitchen staff and I are on totally cool terms, and if there was a complaint, I would have heard about it from them. And I don't know what he was talking about with food- I usually eat quick, simple things because I don't have the energy to put into something elaborate.)

That really angered me. It wasn't that alone that sparked my rage, but a series of events and small things that built up to the point where I realized that I genuinely dislike the Boss. He infuriates me. That's hard, because I really don't want to be dismissed for physical assault! :) (Oh, yeah, and there's that whole "I don't like hurting people" thing. Ah, yes, and being Christlike. I can't see Jesus practicing his left hook on someone he doesn't like.) Aaaaaactually.... God's been trying to get me to pray for the man. I have, reluctantly at first... but I know it's a discipline I need to continue. I recognize that God does not want bitterness, anger, and resentment to fester inside my heart, and this is a good way to keep it from taking up residence. It's hard to hate someone while you're praying for them. Ever tried it?

I think the beginning of the end came when Gluten Free Girl showed up. There was a camper this last week who is gluten free.  That's fine. I know gluten free. I've been doing it for, what, three years now? I fully expected to be put in charge of her food, and I was willing to do so. As I thought, it got (more or less) delegated to me, so one evening while there was a lull, I was writing down the week's menu so I could plan what she was going to eat. The Boss walked in, asked what I was doing, and when I told him, he said to stop it. It was a waste of time. Do something useful. "She'll eat what we give her."

Right. You're going to cook for her? You walked in, looked at the biscuits and gravy, and asked if they were gluten free. Brother, please.

I was furious. The one thought that burned its way clearly to the forefront of my mind was, "You don't even know. YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW, MR. 'ICANEATWHATEVERIWANT'!" (Actually, there were a lot more exclamation points and bolding and highlighting and whatever going on in my head, but... this will suffice.) And truly, he doesn't know. Nor does he care to know. He blazes ahead in his "sympathetic" ignorance, bulldozing any others who do not do things his way, for it is his way or the highway. 

I thought to myself, I'm still going to do it, just not when you're around. See, the girl's parents sent a whole bag of stuff with her, but, as most GF stuff is, it's all mixes. The poor girl had to wait an hour the first day for her food (some pasta with cheese) because he didn't think ahead and make a pizza crust for her.

So he comes up to me later and says, "I just don't want you burdening yourself with that." I immediately replied, somewhat shocked, "It's not a burden."
"Yes it is," he says. "It's a burden. Don't waste your time."


Okay, whatever. You're the Boss. And, I'm ashamed to admit it, but one of the main reasons I let it go was because I wanted to watch him crash and burn. (I really, really didn't want to sacrifice the poor girl on the altar of my "vendetta", but I knew that if I tried to oppose him, I'd be fired anyway, so it wouldn't have made much of a difference.)

It was after that the mistake and subsequent removal from the kitchen happened.

An overarching theme to this whole drama is the fact that I'd been getting sick- very sick. Constant exposure to the foods I'm allergic to have broken down my body's resistance, and it has basically been responding as if I'd been straight up ingesting the foods. This is bad. This is very bad. But I can be a soldier. I can tough it out. I started taking pain killers, which helped some. I knew that I couldn't hack it 'till September, so I had decided to leave in two weeks, when camp was done, because they neeeeeded me!

Well, after our head cook threw up in to the trash can, I was trying to dish up the beans and the Boss kept saying, "I'll do it. I'll do it," and taking the stuff away from me. Okay... Are you going to let me do my job, or no? (This is the evening of the grill-cleaning fiasco- I hadn't cleaned it after lunch, and now they were cleaning it and making quesadillas.) The Boss turns to me and says, "If you're sick, you leave, too."

"It's not a contagious sick."

"If you're not feeling good, you leave. We don't need you getting more sick."

This wasn't a sympathetic, I want you to heal and rest and get better statement. This was more of an I'm tired of you being sick statement.

Well, I left. I went back to my cabin and I punched the walls and kicked the bed and screamed some unearthly primeval scream and I sobbed until my eyes were totally bloodshot.

I felt so worthless. I felt so weak. I felt like everyone else on camp was doing their jobs, pulling their weight, and I was dead weight. I was still furious over gluten free girl and his callous disregard for her needs (and, by inference, my needs). Like in everything else, he would do just enough to make sure she got something, but nothing too good, because, well, that would take time. It would take money, Lord forbid.

I was almost to the point of self-harm, I was so distraught. I knew that my thinking was off, so I went and asked for my phone. If that wasn't an emergency, I don't know what is! Unfortunately... not a single soul in my support system answered their phone! Of course. *grim smile*

Praise God, he knew what I needed. My staff roomie walked in, and we got to talking. As it turns out, I'm not the only one who doesn't like the Boss (a fact I knew about the kitchen staff, but not about the other staff) and who is really frustrated and annoyed by his inconsistent leadership and favoritism. They're pretty much here for the money.

He's not a good leader. He doesn't teach, he censures. If you make a mistake, you've got problems. He's inconsistent in many ways. He is a micromanager who insists on things done his way (even if you've already received orders that are contradictory). He's manipulative. He's cheap. Not frugal, or a "good steward", but cheap. He's insincere. He puts on a good face, and sometimes I actually feel like he cares about me, but then the veneer wears thin, and I see that he doesn't. (That's part of the inconsistency- if you're going to pretend, at least keep up your front!) He talks about God, sometimes, but I see no walk to his talk. He says things, "my God this" and "my God that", and I find myself thinking, If your God is anything like you, I wouldn't serve him in a million years. He runs an organization, not a ministry.

And that, I think is the true reason why I left. I can't work with the man anymore. He's killing my soul.

Wednesday night, I was informed that I was going to be taken out of the kitchen, so I wouldn't continue getting sick. Awesome! That was a total answer to a prayer J and I had not minutes before!! I was so stoked! Then the kicker: "If you can't handle that, we're going to have to let you go."

Ahh, I see. So I'm not indispensable. Hmm. Well, there goes that objection...

I left that encounter with the Boss and headed to the fire pit for worship. One thing to the Boss's credit- he picks awesome camp pastors. The worship that night was about living rich. God is our Father, yes? And God owns everything, yes? So, if we are children of God, then why do we worry about money? In Christ, we have everything we need- we are rich!

Huh. Well... there goes objection #2. I've been so worried about money- how am I going to pay off my SOULS bill?! That's what's kept me here so long...

After those two objections were removed (and quite speedily, I might add), it only took the encounter the next morning to convince me that I no longer needed to put up with the Boss's shenanigans.

I approached him after Staff Meeting to ask how he wanted me to balance my new schedule with food preparation and eating (because at the beginning, he was almost phobic about my eating different food in front of the kids). That was when I was told that I'd take my rest hour to cook all three meals. I'd just have to plan ahead. (At this point, I was thinking, I thought planning ahead was a burden and a waste of time?) Because I couldn't have "an hour and a half to cook and eat like you are doing now" (this is where the complaints comment came in). It was all very... how do I describe it? Curt. Inflexible. Close-minded.

This, from the man who wooed me to his summer camp with smooth assurances that I would have all the time and resources I would need to make this thing work. Now I'm being shut down, accusations are being thrown in my face that I knew nothing about, and I can sense that he's tired of dealing with my issues.

If he had brought up the complaint in a different spirit so that I could correct the situation, rather than using it as an excuse to deny me previously agreed upon terms, I may not have gotten so angry. As it was, I was immediately... enraged. I cannot recall the last time I was so furious, with the exception of the day before, and even that was a toss-up. I knew I had to get out of there, or I was going to hurl my full water bottle at his face. He did, however, reluctantly give me permission to go right then while the kids were having worship and set up my breakfast, because I hadn't planned ahead, but this was the only day. How kind of him.

I flew to the bathroom, tears stinging my eyes, and I checked to make sure that there was no one around. Then I hurled the water bottle into the corner with all my might (and broke it, sadly) and broke down crying. I can't do this, God. I can't do this! I can't work with him anymore! I can't do this... please, don't ask me to do this... I mean, I will if you want me to, but please... I can't do this....

I collected my water bottle, headed back to my cabin, and proceeded to punch some more walls.


More screaming, more tears, more prayer, a bruised hand... and I was done. I was leaving.

My objections had been removed. I was free. The things that had held me there before were not enough to keep me there anymore. What is an improv show when the laughter echoes from a hollow soul?

One thing that had chained me to this place was guilt. If I left, I was a quitter, a failure. I can't handle that. But now... I know that, as a human being with worth and value, I can say no. I can stand up and say, "I will not take this anymore. I do not have to be treated this way."

I didn't leave because of homesickness, and I didn't leave solely on the basis of my broken health. I left on the basis of my broken trust. I trusted the Boss, and he has seriously disappointed me. I don't trust him anymore, needless to say. He's not a safe person, and it's okay for me to remove myself from that situation.

Before nightfall, I had that job my dad offered me. I'm going on a paid road trip. I'm going to see natural wonders, the works of God's hands. I'm going home. And I'm happy about that.
I left summer camp today. More on that later- there's a WHOLE lot of venting that needs to happen.

My dad just proposed the seemingly craziest, yet entirely logical idea to me... and a way to earn a thousand dollars to pay off my SOULS bill, and not have to worry about gas on the way. He suggested that I drive back to Y, see my friends and family, pick up his guns from his friend, and drive them out to W. That's 2,500 miles, for the curious. Then I'd head home from there. So I'd get to see my peeps in Y, I'd get to see my family, my dad would get his guns (which he's been anxious for since they left in '07), he would pay about the same amount it would take him to go get them (and not have to miss any work), and since he'd be paying for my gas, I wouldn't have to worry about tapping out my bank account!

Hmm. I'm intrigued. What an adventure! (Kinda lonely, but still... It would be nice to have a driving partner, that's for sure!) I'd get to pass by several places that I wanted to see, but wasn't going to be able to, since I was going to go directly home. And it'd only take me a week or so, probably. Maybe more like a week and a half or two, depending how much time I spent in each place.

Hmm.... God, is this okay? Should I go for it? I am inclined, though I would dearly like to be home as soon as possible...
Heading back to work today. I have to pack and hit the road so I can be sure to be there on time.

So very tired... I'm still recovering from my bad night's sleep (or, should I say, my night of no sleep! lol).

I have some thoughts, but no time to explore them. Ain't that life?

Like, what is beauty, really? (Yes, I'm having body image issues... again.)

Bah! No time. Must pack.

I fully expect the next three weeks to be just as difficult as the first three weeks were, which means that I'm going to be hanging onto God with all my strength.
Woke up two hours ago with abdominal cramps and all that accompanies such a thing...

Sleeeeeeep...... where are you?!

Guess I'll just make some more tea. Maybe read some Pilgrim's Progress.

Happy Sabbath.


The house is clean. There's nothing quite like the feel of a home clean and ready for Sabbath. I love it.

Since H's love language is acts of service, I decided to put forth some extra effort and really make things tidy for when she gets back on Sunday. I even scrubbed the shower. I dislike scrubbing the shower.

So, on to the topic of my thoughts for today!

"How are you and D doing?" I get that question a lot. And it makes sense- those who I call are those I'm close to, and those I'm close to know that this is a totally new frontier for me. I'm not offended in any way by their questions, it just makes me chuckle that almost every person would ask the same question, phrased in almost the exact same way. (The alternative phraseology is "How are things going with you and D?")

And things are... going. We're progressing normally, I think. C asked me today if we'd said "I love you" to each other yet. I must admit, I was rather flabbergasted and slightly horrified by the idea. Not horrified by the idea of saying "I love you" to D (that is actually a rather pleasant prospect ^_^), but horrified by the idea of introducing something so weighty into our relationship so soon. I mean, like is one thing, but love? That's a whole different ballpark.

I know I like him. I am attracted to him physically, I think he's quite good looking, and he has the ability to give me butterflies. He has a good sense of humor, and we can laugh together (although once in a while he cracks a joke that I think is kind of crude, but I'm willing to overlook that). As a matter of fact, we do laugh together, quite a bit. He's intelligent, logical, resourceful, he seems to be a good, hard worker, and he loves his mom a lot. He's very good to his mother. (That gives me hints on how he would treat a future wife.) He's encouraging when I'm discouraged, and he's steady but fun. He's kind. He loves the outdoors. (We may have issues there... I don't like hiking as much as he does, I think. I mean, I enjoy it, but it's not my number one favorite activity.) Ahh, yes, and he loves God.

That, to me, is key. He has a testimony, an experience. I refuse to be caught up in another relationship where I cannot worship God alongside my partner. I won't.

I asked him today about his spiritual life. Because it was at the end of the conversation, I posed it as a question to think about overnight, and we can compare answers tomorrow. The question was, "What is your spiritual life like? Also, how would you summarize where you are with God?" I need to think about it myself, and figure out how to put it into words. So... we'll see.

Honestly, I don't know how to tell if someone is spiritually compatible, really, because everyone's relationship with God is unique. There's not a blueprint I can compare his answer with. C gave me some advice, which was that the key thing is that he be willing and wanting to grow, and that I need to take his answer and pray about it, and let God tell me whether or not we are compatible.

So things are... going. We talk when we can. He called me beautiful once. He sent me flowers :) We made mutual admissions of missing each other. I haven't done much in the way "mush", for a few reasons. First of all, I want our relationship to be based on more than mere emotions. Secondly, well... I'm shy. Thirdly, I fear rejection. Fourthly, if we do split up for some reason, I want it to be as painless as possible, so the less I "mush", the easier that would be.

But I do care for him, very much. He's a wonderful man. I'm glad that he's a part of my life.
‎"We are broken to pieces as we beat violently upon the unbreakable reality of His love for us. Exhausted and defeated, we end up worshipping Him with our tears. He wins because He continues to love us in the face of our hate."
-An Endless Falling In Love
Yup, that's right-- I'm part of a meme!

I'm rather proud of myself, actually... usually I'm totally clueless when it comes to the twists and turns of popular culture, especially blogging culture. I'm just not "with it". I have my own little world, but now that world has collided with the worlds of at least 25 other people. Check it out.

Ahh, yes, and I made a discovery as well. (It's been a big day.) My love language is most definitely Quality Time. (Perhaps secondarily Gifts, but QT is the first and foremost.) It's the effort and the time put into the gift that makes it valuable to me.

So, that has made this week even more spectacular when it comes to conversations, since I have my phone back until Sunday morning. D and I have talked every single day, at least once. (All three of 'em!) I'm reveling in it. (Not that we are necessarily having deep, theological conversations... We talk about fish and the weather, about our families, mosquitos, God, my health, campsites and sometimes movies, and whatever pops into our heads, really.) I've talked to the S's several times, my mom several times, my sister, J, and I'm going to be calling H tomorrow.

Ahhh... it feels good to talk again. I can't wait to be back home and be in their physical presence. (Of course, then I'll miss the people I left behind down here in California, but that's just how life goes, isn't it?)
I found this here, which led me to here, and thought I'd give it a try.

I am from cigarette ashes and Pontiac cars and Dr. Pepper-- lots and lots of Dr. Pepper.

I am from apartment after apartment, white walls blurring together in a whirlwind of sensory amnesia. I am from cracked sidewalks shimmering in summer's heat, palm trees rising in stout vigilance, and chain link fences tottering weakly through rasping weeds.

I am from the cloud-sodden skies of the coastal Northwest; the rippling, life-giving fields of the Breadbasket; the majestically parched, mountainous deserts of the Southwest; the coniferous sweeps and river-carved valleys of my new home.

I am from "High-Lows" and fierce determination, from "the little wise one" and the Jones' eyes.

I am from the tumultuous solitude of a family torn apart and the gratifying agony of a family pieced back together.

From "3-foot-2, eyes of blue, prettiest girl I ever knew" and, "If you swallow a watermelon seed, your belly will swell up and you'll have a baby."

I am from 6 generations of my denomination, but without a Cross to kneel before. I am from Bible Bowls and memory verses and rainbows that prove God has heard us. I am from bedtime Bible stories and teenage confusion and "Why, God, did you let this happen to me?!"

I'm from everywhere and nowhere, unsure of my heritage, falling neatly into line as another "Heinz 57" American.

I am from lemons zested on the tree by mischievous Great Grampa (a literalist like myself), from the land of Hide and Go Seek and safe havens and "Mount Cheese and Crackers".

I am from boxes saved out of the kindness of a neighbor's heart when all else was ripped away... again. I am from dusty albums under the living room table, the repetitive snapshots of distant scenery and unfamiliar faces pushed aside in favor of a good game of Jenga. I am from stories over coffee and cigarettes, the laughter weaving around the words drowning out the rain on the porch roof. (Neither my aunt or my mother ever seem to forget a story.)

This is childhood. Maybe tomorrow I'll do a teenage version... then an adult version.
Wow. This stirred up so many memories, many of them bittersweet.
I do realize, after thinking through this prompt... as a child, my world began and ended with my mother. Mom was the end-all, be-all to my life. I'm so glad she was a good one.
God, this is so hard... because if I don't condemn myself, then someone else might, and which hurts worse- to kill yourself, or let someone else crucify you?

"I want you to experience the riches of your salvation: the Joy of being loved constantly and perfectly. You make a practice of judging yourself, based on how you look or behave or feel. If you like what you see in the mirror, you feel a bit more worthy of My Love. When things are going smoothly and your performance seems adequate, you find it easier to believe you are My beloved child. When you feel discouraged, you tend to look inward so you can correct whatever is wrong.

Instead of trying to "fix" yourself, fix your gaze on Me, the Lover of your soul. Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising Me. Remember that I see you clothed in My righteousness, radiant in My perfect Love."
{Ephesians 2:7-8;  Hebrews 3:1;  Psalm 34:5}

Really, El Shaddai? How do you know me so well?!

This last week, we had an amazing camp pastor, Pastor D. She was incredible. Her messages were simple, powerful, spoken in love, and so applicable. I didn't get to hear many of them, because I was in the kitchen most of the time, but what I did hear was amazing... and exactly what I needed. It was encouragement, straight from the throne of God :)

So I wrote her a letter, thanking her for her ministry, and telling her that. She responded by finding me for a great, deep conversation on Sunday morning, which she followed up with by writing the "bullet points" of the conversation in a letter to me so I would remember. (Part of why the conversation was so powerful is that she and her daughter have been through the pain of sexual abuse as well.) Here's the letter:

"Dear C,
   I am so glad God enabled us to have such a wonderful conversation. These are the highlights of our conversation that you asked me to write in a letter:

1) God loves you exceedingly, greatly, and abundantly more than you can ever ask or imagine. He will reveal this in your life as he did in mine through your trust in Him. He showed me His love directly one evening as I watched my 10 year old daughter sleeping and thought:
"L, will you blame me for what has happened to you? I don't know if you can understand this now, but I couldn't have stopped it from happening. But I spared myself nothing from being with you and sharing your pain. I am all scarred as a result- that is how much I love you."

 I went to bed shortly afterwards, and as I placed my head on the pillow with my heart throbbing in pain, I heard God speaking to me:
"D, will you blame me for what has happened to you? I don't know if you can understand this now, but I couldn't have stopped it from happening. But I spared myself nothing from being with you and sharing your pain. I am all scarred as a result- that is how much I love you!"

I never knew how much I was loved by anyone until that moment.

2) God did not will the evil of abuse on you, but He did will for you to pass through it- in other words- to hang on your own cross next to Him as you suffered through the evil that is done in this world at the prompting of the great deceiver himself. The evil one desires to separate you from God forever and neutralize your power as a force for God's kingdom through your anger and distrust of God as a result of your abuse.

  But your faith in God even through your suffering (see Ps. 22:24-28) makes your life a powerful witness for the kingdom of God. In your brokenness the light of God's love will blaze through and people will be drawn to the light of His love shining through your life.

3) You are an amazingly beautiful woman- body, mind, and soul. Abuse is so devastating because it causes us to doubt our beauty and our worth. God will use all of your experiences (both good and bad) to mold you and shape you into the lovely, unique woman He designed you to be. You were in His thoughts before the creation of this world and He conceived your life in love and will hold you and keep you in His love-- both now and forever.

4) God has a special person prepared to share this life with you--a person who will love you and cherish you. I am praying for you and for the one God has prepared for you.

5) You have a very special purpose and ministry--especially through music. People will be drawn by the power and spirit of your voice and music--especially children. I am excited for the purpose and plans God has for you. You will not understand the full impact of your ministry in this life. Together we will understand it in eternity when God wipes all the tears from our eyes and we can see clearly and completely.

I hope that you are able to rest this next week and continue to find healing--body, mind, and soul-- in the arms of God.

Much love,
D W"

Pretty amazing, huh?

The conversation that we had, and the following letter, brought to my attention the fact that I am resistant to my own importance. Does that make sense?

It is so, so, so difficult for me to believe that God has prepared anything for me above mediocrity. Me? A warrior? You've got the wrong person. A powerful ministry? I think you are mistaken.

The conversation dusted off a wall around my heart that I had been hiding. I've felt it there before, but I think that the walls preceding it have been torn down enough to where I really feel this one now.

I know that God loves me. I know that I can trust him. But... I just don't know how I can believe that God actually enjoys me. Like His love is an obligation, he's duty bound to love me, but he doesn't really like me. And having great plans for me? Why would he do that if he doesn't even like me? No, more likely he'd put me on a back shelf somewhere, part of his collection, but not a very important part.

That's the wall. The wall that is resistant to... to what? How do I even describe this? But it holds me back. It chains me down. It's this wall that confines me within the wastelands of uncertainty and doubt of my own worth, of other's estimations of me, of my ability to participate within a relationship without driving the other person away... What do I call this thing? How do I describe it?

Yet it binds my every move, inhibiting my heart... and I do not know how to be free of it.
Indeed, I do not know if I want to be free, because even a wasteland is comforting if you've lived there long enough.
It's hard to type with your hand all wrapped up. I thought I had broken my hand, so I went to the ER to get an x-ray earlier today. Good news! It's not broken! But I do have a serious contusion that will take a week or more to heal. They're having me keep it wrapped (and elevated, although I've not been doing that) to keep the swelling down, and to aid in the healing process.

How did it happen? Eh... heh... welllllll... I was taking out the trash.

I know, I know. Lame, right?

The dumpsters at camp have these huge, heavy metal lids that we prop open with iron stakes. I propped open a dumpster, tested the stake for endurance, then heaved my trash into the open chasm, only to have the corner of the bag clip the iron stake and send the lid tumbling down upon my poor, vulnerable hand. Fortunately, I was wearing rubber gloves, so it tore the glove instead of my skin, or it would have been REALLY nasty!

After all was said and done, I realized that I could still play guitar, so I'm happy.
Not super fast, but faster than the average person.

Which is why I'm taking a sick week from summer camp, to try to "get back on track" (i.e.- not feel like I'm dying as much as I am).

This means that I have my phone and computer for a whole glorious week!

It's nice, knowing that I can post later and not try to force the words out now.

I'm going to go make popcorn for supper.
Well, actually, it's Week Three for me, because we count Staff Training Week as Week One. But it's the second week of having campers.

Both cabins of girls have requested and subsequently loved my playing guitar and singing softly to them while they fall asleep. I don't know what it is, but I guess it's soothing... so it's kind of become my summer camp tradition :)

The improv group that I'm a part of had our first performance on Monday. It was definitely improvisation, because the other activity was cancelled due to rain. We had an hour's notice to pull together some games and get to know each other as actors, since we hadn't worked together as a group before. We spent an hour each day for the next two days working on our improv skills as a group, and though our performance was good (considering the circumstances), we are a lot funnier and smoother now that we've had time to "practice". (Because really, how do you practice improv? You don't. You just prepare, I guess.)

I like my girls in the cabin, but I don't know them very well, because I'm in the kitchen all day, rather than working with the kids. I'm actually kind of liking the setup. I'm not impatient with them, because I haven't been dealing with them all day, so when the other counselors are on their last nerve, I can take over and give them a break. I'm like the on the bench replacement. I think it works okay. I don't know how my fellow counselors feel about it.

I've discovered this week that there is a rather strong undercurrent of discontent that runs through the staff ranks, from kitchen to counselor. I don't talk to the Exec staff hardly at all, but some of my fellow kitchen staff and some of my fellow counselors have opened up to me about their "disgruntlement". I don't blame them. I have some discontent of my own- there are some rather glaring discrepancies that bother me, and I do take issue with some of the ways the camp is run. But I realized this week that it's really not my place to say anything, and voicing that discontent is not going to a.) change anything or b.) make my work environment a happier place... so I keep quiet. Maybe my purpose for being here is to be a Fairy of Good Cheer or something. I mean, not that it doesn't eat at me sometimes, because it does, and I get really irritated... but I'm trying to find reasons to be thankful despite it and in the midst of it.

One thing that bugs me A LOT is the micromanaging, though. I was frosting cinnamon rolls yesterday morning, and the Boss was standing there watching me, and telling me how to do it.
*Point* "Too much frosting there."
(Silently scraping off frosting and relocating it to another cinnamon roll or two)
*Point* "Too much frosting."
(Silently scraping off frosting and redistributing it amongst five other rolls)
"I'm working on it."
All the while I'm thinking, Really?! Are you really going to stand there and micromanage my frosting cinnamon rolls? Don't you have a camp to run??

And it's that, compounded with the "we don't want to give the campers a choice or anything fancy or anything nice, really" mindset that bugs me. Because Lord forbid that we put out two colors of juice, because then they might have a choice. Heaven help us if the salad is "too fancy" (meaning more than lettuce, a tomato wedge, and ranch... possibly some croutons or a slice or two of cucumber). And if you commit the unpardonable treason of putting out options for salad dressing, you might as well kiss your job goodbye.

I'm done ranting. But I do get frustrated with the senselessness of it sometimes. Or the obvious favoritism that is displayed at times.

But I'm not here to worry about that. It's hard enough as it is.

I had a hard week. Several nights, I had nightmares, and my emotions went spiraling downhill as a result. Those days were hard. I was glad I had an iPod. My health has been suffering, too. Every time I eat, my intestines start cramping and churning. I don't like it. And many days this week, I've had to stop what I was doing several times and sit down, because I was close to passing out and/or throwing up. The Boss broached the idea of taking a week off to rest... and I was sorely tempted to say, "Yes!" I don't want to lose the money, though, or the respect of my co-workers, and the thought that the week I take off   (or the couple of days) might be the week/days that God had brought me to camp for and I would miss it is enough to knock the idea right out of my head.

I might, though, if my health continues to go down... maybe just 2 days. I could stay at H's.

I actually wasn't sure I was going to make it to my day off. 9 days with no break is... too much. That's why God created a 6-day work week. (Here we are, an Adventist camp, and we're totally doing away with Sabbath rest. How wack is that? But I guess it's necessary for the running of the camp that we work...) But I keep reminding myself that God has me here for a reason... and that's what's kept me here. I wasn't driven to the point of desperation by homesickness, but I was just... ready to be done with this. Ready for a day off, I think.

I have to go pay bills, now, in my few remaining hours of computer possession time.

Despite it all... God is good. He's on the throne. I can make it 4.5 more weeks.