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Midwest Bible Camp || Oh my heart. This place. THIS. PLACE. Every year I’m convinced that it takes a bigger chunk of my heart. I grew up spending several weeks each summer in these cabins. Running around on the green grass. Sitting around the campfire each night. Laying on my back, on the hills looking up at all the stars that weren’t being out-shined by city lights. Pure nature. Only sounds of frogs, crickets and other woodsy things. No cars, no phones, no t.v. Just the wind, dirt, you & God.

This place and the people involved poured so much into me and my life, I can’t even describe to you the things I’ve experienced and learned during my summers there. I’m so ecstatic that I now get to pour myself into the kids and give back by volunteering a few weeks out of my summer to be a part of this place that means so much to me.

But let me tell you about this year: In January, I was almost positive I wouldn’t be returning to camp this year. I thought I would be in a different state and I would be too busy living the “summer college” life that I wouldn’t be able to spare a week of my time. I had the thought “Maybe I’m growing out of camp, maybe it’s time for me to do something different with my summer.” But as my plans changed, I had this gut feeling that I needed to be at camp this year. Something inside me (probably God) was saying “Look you need this. You need to do this.” So I went with it. I agreed to do one week, and then before I knew it I had agreed to do two weeks. Let me tell you something. I do not regret it. I was reluctant to do two weeks. I didn’t want to take that much time off of work, I didn’t want to be in the woods that long. But they needed counselors, and I was available. So I said yes. At first, I wasn’t all that excited, but as the emails and Facebook messages were being sent out, and everyone in the “camp community” started talking to each other about spending a week together, my attitude changed. “Why wouldn’t I be excited about this? I love that place. I grew up there. Last year was amazing. I should be excited!” So I allowed myself to get excited. And those two weeks ended up being two of the best camp weeks I’ve ever experienced.

I wish I could put into adequate words exactly what I experienced this year at Senior week. But one thing that everyone who experiences camp agrees on is that it’s the hardest thing to explain to people who didn’t experience it. I can’t put into words the feeling I get when I’m out there. But camp has a feeling. Time seems to stop, nothing matters but the moments and the people inside the gate. We all have this common goal to experience and learn about God, to heal, to worship, to grow. Words can’t describe what happens, but God just moves in powerful ways. He changes lives out there.

Intermediate week had a totally different vibe for me this year. I don’t know what it was, but I miss that week more than I ever have before in my years of counseling. The kids just have my heart. Their love for life and joy brought a smile to my face and laughter to my lungs every day. They might be entering into the “awkward years,” but I still love them. I am honestly so glad I agreed to be at that week. I didn’t want to at first. I honestly didn’t. But I needed that week just as much as Senior week. My sister wrote a great post about camp, and in it she said:

“Sometimes God calls you somewhere and you’re reluctant about it. Say yes. Say yes because there is a reason why you need to be there. For other people, for the kids, for yourself––there’s a reason.”

I can’t put it into better words than that.

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IMG_5561I let myself go those two weeks at camp. I didn’t use my phone at all the first week, and barely the second. It felt good to not rely on it. Because I was able to focus on the kids, the week, and myself. Camp has such special memories and moments, ones I’ve never forgotten, and ones I never will forget. And I hope, oh I hope, that you have memories and experiences like camp, too. Because they mean the world.

// Marissa

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Lost Frames: California

Oh hey. Remember when I took loads of photos over Spring Break back in March and never did anything with them? Me too.

LOST FRAMES:

This week long trip will forever be one of my favorite memories. The 24 hour drive there and back were both the worst and the best. The week spent exploring the south bay was fantastic. Eating so much good food. Salty hair. Perfect weather. It was the best life.
We explored the coast, walked on beaches, drove in LA traffic (the worst ever), explored where all the rich people vacation on the coast (and played on their grass, IT WAS SO SOFT), and a million other things. SIDE NOTE: My love for palm trees is so extreme now. I only included 3 photos, but I have at least 35 of JUST palm trees.

During the drive back we took a detour to go see the Grand Canyon which was everything and more. I ended up crossing 4 things off my bucket list on this trip, and that literally made me so happy. (And yes, I do have an actual bucket list. It’s written on a envelope.)

I loved “hanging loose” in California. I can see many more adventures there to come.
This trip was the dream. (And the start of my love for the West Coast.)

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Full photo set: HERE
iPhone photo posts: West Coast Bound, The Ocean & LA/Hollywood

 

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WHAT I HAVE TO SAY:

Oh, Summertime. The season of no school, family vacations and tan lines. We all know it so well. Everyone loves summer, after all. While Facebook timelines are being filled with pictures of kids in cap and gown, it’s also beginning to be filled with status like the following:
“Hello from Europe!” “I’m in Brazil” Africa! Paris! MexicoIrelandWestCoastNewYorkJapanCanadaAsiaSpain!
HOLD UP. Did I miss the memo? Did I forget to buy my plane ticket to destination “I’m traveling everywhere this summer?” Did I forget to purchase my map? Did I fall asleep for a couple of months, and somehow miss the big news?

You think I’m joking, but I’m being serious. EVERYONE is on the road, flying in a plane, or going SOMEWHERE it seems. What’s summer without a few road trips, after all? It’s completely normal. BUT, what I’m struggling with is while it seems like everyone is in Europe eating gelato, or hiking in the mountains, or taking pictures of scenic lands, I’m at home washing the dishes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE home. Home is… well… it’s HOME. Nothing is going to change that, it’s where my family and old friends are. My dog is here. My comfy bed, my trusty old bike. Home is great, but it’s hard when there are no road trips planned for my future (expect for the one in August when I drive back to school, but that hardly counts) for my future, and everyone I know seems to be going somewhere and doing something. While everyone is off posting cool Instagram photos I’m doing chores and cleaning my room 3 times a day. I’m actually beginning to think the words “I’M BORED,” which hasn’t entered my mind for at least a full year. So what in the world are we non-summer-travelers (because I’m sure I can’t be the ONLY one) supposed to do about feeling a little depressed that we aren’t off traveling the world?

I’m not claiming to have an exact answer for how to be content, but since this has been on my mind for around 3 weeks, I’ve had a while to think about it. So, I came up with this list:

5 WAYS TO HAVE A FUN SUMMER NOT TRAVELING:

1. READ BOOKS.
Ohmyword HELLO. Remember that book list you’ve been adding to for like… ALL YEAR. How about you work on knocking some of those off the list? I love books because they can take you to other worlds, and sometimes just reading books about traveling can help in the “I’m just sitting in my bed all summer” feeling.

Try:
– Into the Wild | by: Jon Krakauer
– Wild | by: Cheryl Strayed
– Eat, Pray, Love | by: Elizabeth Gilbert
The best thing about reading books, is you can do that ANYWHERE. So go to the park, find a new coffee shop, and READ SOME BOOKS.
*Also LOOK I made a list on goodreads of books! Some I’ve read, some I haven’t, but check it out if you want.
>>> Summer Blues book list

2. DISCOVER YOUR TOWN/CITY.
I bet that there are a ton of places you’ve never been right in your own city. Check out that coffee shop on the corner. Explore the city trails. Go to the little bookstores. Eat at that family owned restaurant. BUY A NEW MUG. And why not Instagram your way through it? Try and explore the country and the near by cities too. Who says you can’t have adventures in your own town?

3. GO TO ALL THE MIDNIGHT MOVIE PREMIERES.
Buy your tickets. Wait in line. Have fun seeming the new summer flick. I don’t know. Pretend like it’s the red carpet. Make a list of all the premieres and tape it to your wall.

4. REALIZE THAT IT’S NOT YOUR TIME TO TRAVEL, BUT YOU CAN STILL DREAM AND WISH. 
I don’t know about you, but even though I might get in the slumps about not traveling, I still like looking at everyone’s pictures from all their adventures. I still pin a thousand things on my travel Pinterest board, and I still daydream about living in the NorthWest. So, I don’t know. Don’t forget about your dreams of traveling, search for things you want to do the next time it’s YOUR turn to take to the road.

5. SPEND TIME WITH THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU.
No but really. If you’re like me and you are away at school for most of the year, you really don’t get to see your family or friends at home very much. So stay up late talking to them. Eat too much ice cream. Watch dumb movies. Shoot some hoops.
And if you still need some people to talk to, then what the heck, why not Skype your world-traveling friends or even just friends from school (they still matter to you, right?)

 

Summer is only 3 months long, so why not at least try to make the best of it? Don’t make summer about wishing you were somewhere else, or by watching a million episodes on Netflix (although that’s good for a rainy day). I’m not saying I am going to be happy about not traveling all the time, but I’m going to at least try to make summer super duper fun. When my time comes to travel, I’ll be ready, and also appreciative of the time spent relaxing at home. How to be content is just something you kinda have to just… figure out. But if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you will never be content with where you are if you sit around and mope all day about not being in Paris. If the only walking you do is from your room, to the kitchen, and back again, then GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Depression can creep in easily if you spend all your time just sitting around practically being a hobo. So stop doing that. Learning to be content is about learning how to DEAL with where you’re at, and you can’t do that if you’re endlessly scrolling through Facebook. So decide that you will have a good summer, and then do it.

Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy doing the dishes (moms like that.)

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