this past weekend I had the opportunity to go on my last high school church retreat to a place called Camp Lighthouse in Talking Rock, GA and it was absolutely amazing. Camp Lighthouse will always be a very special place to me for so many reasons after last summer.
the camp was started by a sweet sweet family that are members of my church and school community. the campers are children from local homeless shelters in the Atlanta area and the counselors are highschoolers from my church. not only is the camp a special place because of all the amazing people that are a part of it, but also because of the overwhelming presence of joy that just overflows !! the Lord is so very present there and nothing is more powerful than that.
for the kids, its their one opportunity a year to just be kids. often they are overwhelmed by reality and are forced to grow up just too fast. it’s a place where they can be taken care of instead of worrying about how they can take of others or worrying if they will be taken care of. but for the counselors, it may be even more. for me it was a time to look outside of myself and be truly grateful for all that I have—cliché I know, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. it was a time for me to both fill up and wholly outpour. it was a time to grow in fellowship and grow in personal faith.
last summer, going into the first week of camp, I was filled with insecurities that I wasn’t going to be good enough. I felt like I didn’t deserve the opportunity to be a part of something that amazing or I wasn’t going to be able to make any sort of difference. leading up to camp I prayed and spent a lot of time in scripture in order to prepare my heart but I still felt uneasy until the night before our campers arrived.
something that is so unique and special about lighthouse is that there is almost a 1:1 counselor:camper ratio. this allows for deep and lasting connections to form and allows the counselors to shower the campers with all the extra, undivided attention that they deserve.
the night before they arrived, we found out the names of our campers. my camper’s name was Nevaeh, which is “heaven” spelled backwards. I’m not sure why but this brought a wave of peace and I knew that that week was in the hands of the Lord. I no longer felt anxious about trying to be perfect because I knew all I had to be was present, the rest was in His hands.
sure enough that week was life changing, I connected with Nevaeh almost instantly and had the opportunity of growing closer with her for the entirety of the week. by the end I had learned how desperately she needed a place like lighthouse where she was loved so completely and could meet the Lord. she came from a very large family where she often served as a caretaker for her younger siblings leaving her feeling slightly overshadowed and overwhelmed (understandably so !!). it broke my heart to hear this but it also gave me the opportunity to have an honest and mature conversation with her about Jesus. a conversation that I never thought possible with someone so young but she was simply wise beyond her years.
going back to lighthouse this weekend, a place that had made such a special impact on so many peoples lives (including mine !!), was truly just what I needed in this time of major change (aka the end of high school). it allowed me to have some time to just get back to the basics and connect with others & Jesus. simply spending time in both fellowship & fun with the girls & leaders there brought me so much comfort that I’m not alone in my faith and genuine, pure joy !!
being at camp lighthouse, is living in the way Christ wanted us to live. it’s not worrying about what everyone else is doing and setting sights on Him, it’s laughing with all your stomach muscles without feeling ashamed that sometimes you snort (like a pig), it’s plunging into freezing cold water not only for a QT slushy but for the memory, it’s playing super intense made-up games because you are highly competitive (but in a good way), it’s shouting and dancing because you just can’t contain how happy you really are, it’s slapping each other with glittered sticky hands since that guarantees a smile, it’s staying up all night because your trying to make the little time you have there last forever, it’s worship without distraction. it’s freedom, kindness, joy, faithfulness, and all things pure & holy. and it’s so much more.
“though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” -1 Peter 1:8-9
so there are some good vibes to take in to the next few weeks !! just a encouragement and praise !! :)
lover of nature, coffee, writing, dogs, & Jesus