Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Beginning

And so it begins.

This morning the NC SOUL 2013 team left from the Yearly Meeting Annex at about 5 am. Yes, you read that right, 5. In. The. Morning. All so we could make it to Belvidere in time to attend the worship services in the area.
We made it!

I spent this morning with Heather, Megan, Tanna, and Charles at Piney Woods.

I haven't talked about Tanna or Charles yet, but they are assistant staff for us while we are staying at Up River. Tanna has been a participant for a couple years, and Charles goes to the church that Heather and Megan attend. He's going to be leading music for us this week.

Joe Kirby is the new pastor at Piney Woods, and his message this morning was about the differences between a contract and a covenant. One of the main differences that came up was that in a contract, if the terms are violated then it becomes void. However, in a covenant, it does not matter what happens. In a covenant those involved have become parts of one another, and there is no reason that this agreement should be broken. In a covenant one is not able to be selfish, instead they must look out for the best interests of their partner. That sounds intense right? Well, that's because it is. And that is the kind of relationship that God wants with us. He isn't going to abide by rules that we can set for him. A simple contract is not going to work. I'm going to leave this train of thought up to you. I hope that you take some time to think about what the difference is for yourself.

Going on through the day: we got to go out and have a wonderful lunch with some church members. Then grocery shopping happened. Getting through the line at Food Lion with food for 9 people for a week can be a task.

After getting back and unloading all of the groceries and luggage out of the trailer, we took some time to get settled and relax. That meant getting out air mattresses, it also meant that several people napped, but Paige went for her run. (so inspiring)

At 6 we came back together and started to work on lining up the things that we will need to accomplish this week before the participants arrive on Saturday. Megan and I were focusing on worship things, while other groups worked on sports camp.

The devo that the staff had tonight was about recognizing what we are actually worshipping in our lives. Is it God? Or is it something else that we have given a God-like status? This is not something that is always easily answered, but is always convicting.

In order to keep you all up to date with everything that we are doing, these posts will probably be shorter and slightly less comprehensive than some of my previous ones. The work that we are doing is fast paced, and honestly I don't need to spend too much time working on this blog when I could be sleeping or otherwise recuperating. However, it is important to me that SOUL become less of a mystery to so many, so my plan is to post something new every night.  If you have questions, comments, or anything of the sort, please feel free to leave a comment.

Good night everyone! See you tomorrow morning bright and early.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mischief with the Staffers: Part 1

As anyone who's worked on a summer staff knows, there are often pranks and male/female rivalries that occur. What has happened in years past on SOUL is that the boys team up and the girls team up, and a series of (rather harmless) pranks will ensue.

The conflict has begun! Here is a little bit of background information. Over our last training weekend, Saturday afternoon everyone split up to take showers. The boys went with Matthew (AL staff) to shower at his house, and the girls stopped by Quaker Lake to use the showers there. On the way back from showers, the van with the girls stopped, and we all got Icees at a gas station. Then we continued on our way back to the annex of the Yearly Meeting Office. From there everything was great, we kept on with training, ate dinner and were sitting down to worship and hear our message from Sarah.

There was a short break between dinner and the message, during which Heather walked away from the table and left her Icee behind. Blake (AL staff) took this opportunity to slip a little bit of honey mustard from Cook Out into her straw. Unsuspectingly, Heather came back to the table a few minutes later and took a drink from her Icee. Well, I guess I should say she tried to take a drink. She ended up with a mouthful of mustard (which she doesn't like, and wasn't expecting) and ran back to the bathroom as fast as possible to spit it out. It took a little while for Blake to officially be declared the culprit. Once he was, the girls backed up Heather and told Blake he should be on the look out because we were going to get him back.

Later that night, we (the girls) pushed the boys out of the annex, where we were staying the night, of course trailing with threats of the pranks to come. Maybe they heard me and Meghan (AL staff) talking earlier about different pranks we may be able to pull off that night. Eventually we decided that it was late enough already, and our sleep was more valuable than anything else we could do.

That Sunday morning when we were all getting ready, Emma (AL staff) went outside to get her Sunday clothes. When she came back in she told us there were sticky notes ALL OVER Heather's car. Megan, Taylor (AL staff), Meghan, Emma and I all went outside to take in the "damage". This is what we found:
-> Note the winking face on the hood. <-

I think this is Blake's side. He felt pretty bad about the mustard prank he pulled earlier.

At this point I think they were just getting tired/lazy. (That's Megan up in the corner by the way)

Of course, the first thing anyone of us could think of was, how are we going to react to this? The guys would expect for us to be all upset or angry or something like that. Instead, we decided that, since none of them were there yet, we should just take off all of the sticky notes and pretend that it had never happened.

So that's exactly what we did.

When the boys came in for breakfast before church, nothing was said. I think they were confused. It was really late when they put on those sticky notes, so I'm hoping they thought it was all a dream. All day we kept up the facade. At lunch Elliot (NC staff) even ventured to ask one of the girls if there had been anything on Heather's car that morning. We never did acknowledge their little prank. In fact, this may be the first thing anyone has said about it in a place where they could see, I don't know.

This is a part of SOUL that I don't think a lot of people get to see, but I think it's worth sharing. I hope it lets you in a little bit more on why the staff loves it so much.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Am I Foolish Enough?

The last weekend in May, both the NC and AL SOUL staffs got together for our last bit of training together. While we were there we went over how to work well together (given our personality differences), how to work well with the kids, what a good game looks like, even how to make sure the kids are getting along and growing alongside one another. Personally, I love training because we all get to hang out and goof off a bit. Don't get me wrong, the whole staff can settle down and get serious when we need to, but otherwise we just have a good time.

While we were there, Sarah Vestal came to speak to us. What she shared really hit home for me. The message that she shared with us was about foolishness. Let me start by saying, there is a difference between foolishness for the world, and foolishness for God. If you are foolish for the world, bad things happen. If you are foolish for God, amazing things can happen.

The first example we looked at was that of Zacchaeus. If you aren't familiar with the story, you can find it in Luke 19:1-10. It's about a tax collector, of rather short stature, who wanted so badly to see Jesus that he climbed a tree along the road just to get a glimpse of him. Let's take a second and break that down. Imagine a man, professionally dressed (in the profession of tax collecting, so that would be a suit and tie?) climbing a tree. And only climbing the tree to catch a glimpse of a man who many deemed a lunatic and a heretic. I don't know about you, but I don't think I would do something like that. I would be more concerned with messing up my clothes, or looking foolish in front of all of those people (who already didn't like him, by the way).

But guess what came out of Zacchaeus's foolishness? - salvation, a life changing experience of meeting our Lord in person and inviting him into his house. When Jesus called Zacchaeus out of that tree he wasn't worried about what the crowds standing there thought. He was elated because the savior of the world expressed an interest in him personally. That moment changed his life! After talking to the Lord he was no longer the same person. He stopped overtaxing the people, and even gave money back to them. Something Sarah pointed out, that I had never thought about before, is that Zacchaeus probably took his kids and his grandkids back to that tree, telling them, "This is where I met Jesus!" It's so easy to forget that the people in these stories were real people, and that their lives continued after we leave them.

Sarah presented us with a question, "Are you willing to sacrifice your reputation for Jesus?"

Being totally honest, I would say that most of the time I am probably not. Which is an answer that I don't like, and that I don't really want to share, but I think it should be said. I don't want to give anyone the idea that I am above anyone else, or that I have everything figured out. I am still growing in my relationship with God just like we all are trying to. In fact, I can think of several people, who I look to as having more figured out than myself. Some of them are on SOUL this summer.  But what matters is that I, and you, keep pushing ourselves to get closer to our creator.

SOUL, being kind-of like a summer camp, definitely allows opportunity for the staff to be foolish for Jesus. We are interacting with kids all day, playing games, eating meals, having a good time. But it is a lot harder to be foolish for Christ in front of your peers. In front of people who you respect and want to respect you. Look at Noah, building an ark when there was not even rain, and King David, dancing naked in the street in front of his people. Great things happen when we are foolish for God. Because when we are foolish for Him, that is when we truly let him have full control of our lives.

Are you foolish enough?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Getting to Know the Staff: Part 1

One of the first things that we do as a staff, is to take a short personality quiz. I always think it's interesting to figure out where I fall in these things. But I really think it helps us on staff to understand one another more, and to recognize ways to strengthen relationships. There will be posts later where I tell you more about the other members of the staff, but I may refer to their animal personality types and I don't want that to be confusing.

If you want to take the quiz I have included it below, or you can skip to the bottom and simply read about each personality type. Keep in mind that one category cannot possibly cover all aspects of an individual's personality, and that the characteristics in each category may not fit everyone who falls into that category.


Choose the item in each line that is most like you, and put a 4 in the blank next to it. Pick the item that is next and put a 3 in that blank, and a 2 and a 1.

1)   ___ Likes Authority     ___ Enthusiastic                ___ Sensitive Feelings          ___ Likes Instruction
2)   ___ Takes Charge        ___ Takes Risks                  ___ Loyal                                   ___ Accurate
3)   ___ Determined           ___ Visionary                     ___ Calm                                    ___ Consistent
4)   ___ Enterprising           ___ Verbal                           ___ Enjoys Routine               ___ Predictable
5)   ___ Competitive           ___ Promoter                    ___ Dislikes Change               ___ Practical
6)   ___ Problem Solver     ___ Enjoys Popularity    ___ Gives in to Others           ___ Factual
7)   ___ Productive              ___ Fun-loving                 ___ Avoids Confrontation   ___ Responsible
8)   ___ Bold                           ___ Likes Variety             ___ Sensitive                             ___ Prefers Perfection
9)   ___ Decision Maker     ___ Spontaneous           ___ Nurturing                           ___ Detail Oriented
10) ___ Persistent               ___ Inspirational             ___ Peace Maker                     ___ Analytical

Now add up the totals for each column.

    a) _____                           b) _____                              c) _____                                   d) _____


a) Lion

Positives: Determined, Independent, Productive, Strong-willed, Visionary, Optimistic, Active, Practical, Courageous, Decisive, Self-Confident, Efficient, Leader

Negatives: Unempathetic, Pushy, Insensitive, Inconsiderate, Severe, Hostile, Sarcastic, Tough, Unforgiving, Opinionated, Prejudiced, Harsh, Arrogant

b) Monkey

Positives: Outgoing, Ambitious, Charismatic, Warm, Stimulating, Responsive, Talkative, Enthusiastic, Carefree, Compassionate, Dramatic, Generous, Friendly

Negatives: Weak-willed, Manipulative, Restless, Disorganized, Unproductive, Excitable, Undependable, Undisciplined, Obnoxious, Loud, Reactive, Exaggerates, Fearful, Egotistical

c) Golden Retriever

Positives: Calm, Supportive, Easygoing, Likeable, Respectful, Diplomatic, Efficient, Willing, Organized, Conservative, Practical, Dependable, Reluctant Leader, Agreeable, Dry Humor

Negatives: Unbothered, Conforming, Blase, Indolent, Unsure, Spectator, Selfish, Ingratiating, Stingy, Stubborn, Dependent, Self-Proactive, Indecisive, Awkward, Fearful

d) Beaver

Positives: Industrious, Gifted, Perfectionist, Persistent, Conscientious, Loyal, Serious, Aesthetic, Idealistic, Exacting, Sensitive, Self-Criticizing, Orderly, Self-Disciplined

Negatives: Moody, Critical, Negative, Rigid, Indecisive, Legalistic, Self-Centered, Stuffy, Touchy, Vengeful, Picky, Persecution Prone, Unsociable, Moralistic, Theoretical

I will conclude this part of "Getting to Know the Staff" by saying, I am a beaver (the only one on staff). So maybe that will let you understand my personality a bit more. As the summer progresses I will try to make sure that you have met everyone else.