Beautiful Twists and Turns

I have been back from camp for a few weeks now. I spent about a month there serving some amazing kiddos and serving my God. I have so many things I could write about that I learned in my time there, but right now I want to talk about how sometimes the incredible things in life come when your plans don’t work the way you want.

I’m going to tell you about how I cleaned toilets for a few weeks and loved it.

I never planned to end up at the camp I did for a large portion of my summer. I had wanted an internship that I didn’t end up getting. It wasn’t even the first camp I applied to. I knew I wanted to serve kids and serve God in some capacity, and I have a heart for camp. I ended up choosing Kanakuk over others. However, I had my heart set on being a counselor. The position I was offered was that of a kitchie. Still, I would get to work with kids and it worked with my summer schedule better based off the terms I was offered.

So, what’s a kitchie? All I knew going into it was that they are girls that serve in the dining hall but are still assigned a cabin of campers to hang out with. No one told me what kind of crazy work it would end up being. Kitchie means early mornings prepping breakfast before the rest of camp is awake. It means prepping the dining hall for every meal, serving two meals at each meal time for 600 people, and cleaning up every meal and the entire dining hall. We were lucky to get a couple of hours off in the afternoon, and what time we were done at night depended how messy dinner dishes were. The kitchies are like a finely tuned army of cleaning girls. We didn’t cook, but oh did we clean. I learned really quickly to get over the gross things, work to keep a positive attitude, and rejoice in the little victories like a new shipment of peanut butter.

The kitchies are all college aged girls who live together and work together. That’s a lot of time together. Girls form cliques and have arguments. It’s expected when you spend so much time so close together. My first week or so at camp, I was not enjoying it. I am an introvert and wasn’t putting myself out there to build good relationships. My expectations for camp were not being met.

A few weeks in the job of mutt maid was handed out to four select kitchies. This job was given to girls with high integrity, good maturity, excellent work ethic, and a positive attitude. Sounds cool, right? I earned this title. What did it mean? It meant every other day I got to clean all the public toilets on camp. Camp toilets are disgusting.

I was disheartened at this point. I felt like I wasn’t much use at camp. I felt like I could be used in better ways. I wanted to spend more time with kids. I wanted to go home.

That’s when God blew my mind.

I was too caught up in my plans to see what God was doing in me. He had placed me as a kitchie at Kanakuk for a reason.

I fell in love with my cabin of 13 year olds (the youngest at camp) that I got to have discussion and prayer with every night. They loved to come find me at meals and talk to me during the day. I was blessed to be able to tuck them in and pray with them every night.

I got to be an influence on other kitchies who were experiencing tough times in their lives. The campers aren’t the only ones who come to camp needing some love and to find rest in God.

I also went to camp broken. I made some really good friends who helped me to heal and to work through big decisions in my life. They are friends I know I can rely on for a lifetime to point me towards Christ. We went on many adventures together that I will never forget.

IMG_0244

God humbled me. I struggle daily with pride. I believe I can do it on my own. I can’t. Giving me a kitchie and mutt maid position helped me to realize that work needs to be done to serve God and someone has to do the not so fun jobs too. Plus, it’s easy to find ways to have fun no matter what you’re doing at camp.

My favorite saying: Not all work is glorious, but all work glorifies God.

Camp also gave me space to heal and grow. It gave me goals to come home with and directions I need to move. It gave me clarity and peace. And it gave me a support system that really knows my heart, because you’re most honest and transparent at camp.

This is just the beginning of positive things that came out of my time at Kanakuk. I ended up loving my experience. Sure, work was physically and mentally challenging most days. I love a good challenge. God placed it there for me to embrace. Sometimes it takes some space to clear your mind and see what God is doing in your life and how you are being used to touch others.

Life isn’t going to go the way you want it to. Good. You learn and grow more when it goes God’s way. Be patient and thank Him for the twists and turns.

Proverbs 27:1, James 4:13-16

Journaling My Way to Peace

One of my favorite habits camp helped me to develop is journaling. Camp always encourages a time of reflection, and writing down thoughts is the best way to do this. I love being able to look back at reflections/journals from past years of camp and see how I have grown and changed as a person. A few years ago I decided to take journaling beyond camp. I started journaling a few days a week with reflections of the day and things that were on my mind. It became a great way to get some things out that I tended to bottle up. It also helped me remember the things I was celebrating that day and defining moments of growth. It also forces me to reflect rather than moving on and forgetting, which sometimes it what triggers growth.

Buying new journals is my guilty pleasure. The empty pages just scream to be filled with life and memories. It’s a very uncomplicated way to document a life. I am currently working out of three journals. I have one that I write about the things I mentioned above in and one where I journal a type of notes from sermons at my church and campus ministry. My newest endeavor is my absolute favorite journal.

Bullet journaling is the busy person’s best friend. There are some incredible blogs about bullet journaling (Tiny Ray of Sunshine, Boho Berry and Pretty Prints and Paper are my favorites right now). The goal is to encourage mindfulness and reflection while staying organized. It’s a place to keep goals, gratitude, and memories while also keeping track of lists, schedules, and habits.

IMG_0534

I just started my first bullet journal at the beginning of the month and I am already in love. I tend to scribble things different places and lose track of things, but also keep meticulous lists of things I need to get done. Bullet journaling has helped me have fewer stresses in my day and reflect on how well I’m doing at getting tasks done. It is healing my terrible procrastination. It also helps me see where I have time in the day to fit in tasks I don’t have scheduled in yet, which is something I was terrible at. I am not using my bullet journal as thoroughly as some people do. Yet. I am excited to see how it changes with me through the year. So, here is a look inside:

IMG_0544

My bullet journal of choice is the Leuchtturm1917 medium dot grid journal.The grid allows me to set it up however I like but also keep it organized. At the front there is a table of contents so I can easily find what I need. All of the pages are numbered, which makes that even easier. There are two bookmarks, so I keep those on the current month and the current day.

The beginning of any good bullet journal starts with pages for the year. Above is the first set of pages in mine. I have the calendar for each month drawn out. I have the first half of 2016 filled in with events and holidays and add to it as my schedule fills up. These are big events mainly, like concerts and trips. I also have a 2016 bucket list following December where I list fun things I want to do this year.

IMG_0545

Next are my “Level 10 Life” and “Level 10 Goals” pages. Boho Berry explains this well and I made mine look a lot like hers. Basically, I have rated where I think I am on a scale of 1-10 in each of the areas in my life on the “Level 10 Life” page. On the “Level 10 Goals” page I write goals for each category that will help me work towards reaching a perfect 10. This was an interesting point of reflection. I am sure it will be even more interesting when I look at it when the year comes to a close and see how far I have come, or if I moved backwards in any area.

IMG_0546

The next page contains a “bookshelf” of things I want to read this year. So far I only have books listed that are already on my shelf waiting to be read. I will color them in as I go (you can see one is already colored halfway as I work on it). The page next to it has my 2016 goals. I stress easily, so they are mainly goals to find more joy in my life daily and stress a whole lot less. It’s a good grounding reminder when I am having a bad day.

IMG_0547

Finally, the month by month pages begin. I have a fun little heading for the month of March with a few little goals under it (check off blog at least once). Then I have a place to list memories from the month. I have the Rend Collective concert I attended with my sister on there right now. It’s a place I can go back and smile at later in the year.

IMG_0548

My March calendar is where I keep a more detailed version of the calendar at the front. I have more meetings and appointments listed here as well as sorority events. I refer to this daily so I don’t miss anything as I plan each day. Next to the calendar is my habit tracker.

IMG_0549

This is a fun way to keep track of things I do daily. I like to keep track of my sleep schedule, hydration, medication, and exercise here. These are things I aim to do most days. I also keep track of things I do randomly just to see how often I do them. It is a really cool way to evaluate how I spend my time. March has been busy, so a lot of things haven’t been on the top of my list.

IMG_0552

The next two pages are dedicated to gratitude. I find it very important to find things I am thankful for in each day, so here I list just that. It makes me realize there is no purely bad day. Some days it’s hard to find things, but the reflection helps pull me out of bad moods.

IMG_0553

I also keep track of wins and lessons learned for each week. This is just another reflection method I have to evaluate my weeks and where I need to work on things to take on the next.

IMG_0554

Finally, I have a list where I keep track of things I am waiting to receive. Right now I just have packages listed, but I hope to expand it to keep track of phone calls and emails I am waiting on to be returned. That’s it for the beginning of the month. After that, my day to day planning begins.

IMG_0555

I love doodling and hand lettering, so I love doing this daily. I have a time tracker at the top which is color coded with things I have scheduled for the day. Sleep, meals, class, and extracurriculars make up most of it. It shows me where I have free time. The list below shows tasks I need to fit into that free time. Circles denote events and appointments and dots are tasks. I check them off as I complete them, or turn it into an arrow to push it to the next day. I also have the weather listed for fun. So far, this set up is really working for me.

IMG_0556

Sitting down at the end of each day and planning out the next has been extremely beneficial to me. It lets me refocus and recenter myself to take on what comes next. It is also a huge motivator to get things done. I look forward to seeing how my entries change month by month and to see what types of pages I add. There are so many fun ideas on Pinterest and blogs that I hope to work in once I get the main journaling goals down. This is the ultimate stress relief technique for me, and I plan to update the blog as it grows and changes with me.

IMG_0558