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Those Summer Camp Memories . . .

Church camp, growing up, was a blast. First of all, it was on an island, so how cool was that?! They’d put the fourth and fifth graders together, and we’d head up to northern Minnesota by bus on a two-hour ride for this week-long adventure. Once we’d  arrive we’d take a pontoon to the island.

I remember it all like it happened only yesterday . . .

Image courtesy of Dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • how gorgeous the island was all covered with trees
  • how the cabins were lined up along a dirt path . . . cabins one through four for the girls, five through eight for the boys
  • how we’d all claim our bunkbeds, who had the top and who had the bottom . . . I was a sleepwalker growing up so guess what I chose!
  • how our incredibly fun pastor would wake us in the morning, banging on the cabin, yelling into his megaphone
  • how we’d spruce up our cabin before breakfast, even with a vase of flowers, in hopes of winning the ‘neatest cabin’ award
  • how we’d congregate for meals, wondering whose names would be drawn for KP
  • how we’d have devotions with our counselor after breakfast . . . It made us feel so close
  • how I loved morning chapel and daily lessons about God
  • how at lunchtime the pastor would pass out mail, cracking jokes, as he’d fling it across the tables
  • how my mom would always send letters and a care package with cookies
  • how there were always cool activities in the afternoon and evenings . . . games and tug of wars and funny skits
  • how we’d take the annual hike around the island keeping watch for “Red Eye,’ the monster, who lived on the other side
  • how there was always fun stuff going on . . . I’ll never forget this mischievious kid we called ‘Twinkletoes’ . . . he was a tiny kid, sweet and funny, and had a great smile and laugh . . . you could always hear him laughing as he’d be up to something . . . So he was finally given some of his own medicine when someone tied him to a tree and sprayed him all over with silly soap (the very cool thing back then) . . . you’d think that would have quieted him down, but he still laughed the whole time
  • how I’d always have heartthrobs for some cute boy, wondering if he even noticed me
  • how the nightly campfires were so special as we’d sing about God’s love
  • how on the bus ride home when we’d all be tired, we weren’t allowed to nod off or else we’d get poked
  • how it always felt good to be heading home, but I’d leave feeling closer to God

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

I love pondering on memories of summer camp . . . learning more about God . . . how amidst those super fun times it always drew me closer to Him.

 summer camp 1  HeartDream Chat – What are your favorite summer camp experiences? I’d love to hear.

When You’ve Lost Something Huge . . .

Being born on this planet is pretty awesome, but sometimes life is rough. You probably heard this past week about the fire in Colorado Springs. You may have seen photos, or you maybe even saw it first-hand, like me.shutterstock_36119125

Over 1,000 firefighters, 36,000 people evacuated, 346 homes destroyed, several lives lost . . .

Devastating. That about describes it. Totally devastating. Incredible loss. Unbelievably sad.

Loss is painful. Any kind. You may be one who’s lost your home . . . to a fire, hurricane, or flood. You may have lost a loved one . . . a parent or grandparent, brother or sister, or maybe a beloved pet. Or you may feel the loss from your best friend moving away or your parents’ divorce. Whatever it is, it hurts. A lot. And maybe you wonder how you can even go on.

Just remember . . . no matter what happens, no matter what you’re going through, God loves you and is with you. And He cares about everything you’re dealing with.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” How comforting that God will never abandon or desert you, and He is always with you no matter what. He will walk with you and get you through. He will bring you peace.

So when you’ve lost something huge, cry until there are no tears left. Let Him hold you in His arms. Know that God is right there with you . . . He’ll always be there for you.

shutterstock_124875748HeartDream Chat – If you’ve lost something huge, talk with God about your pain. Pour out your heart to Him. Then listen and let Him comfort you.

A ‘God’s Girl’ Chat with Leorah

It was awesome chatting with God’s Girl* Leorah, age 15 . . . (*God’s Girls are those who are happy because God is in their life!)

Come take a look . . .                                                                 

What does it mean to become a Christian, and when did that happen in your life?shutterstock_15454783

To me, becoming a Christian means more than just going to church and praying before bed every night. It means to seriously have a relationship with Christ. To be friends with Him and to completely trust Him. I was five when I accepted Jesus into my life but it wasn’t until I was thirteen that I actually saw Him as a friend. As someone I could fully rely on and the day I was able to give Him everything was the best day in my life! I never felt as carefree or alive as I did that day.

How do you spend your quiet time with God, and what is your favorite Bible verse?

My favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. It goes, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall make thy paths straight.” I love this verse so much because in my life, it has been the one that has helped me most. It is just so comforting and encouraging! As for how I spend my quiet time with God, I like writing letters to Him. I find that it is easier for me to write my thoughts and feelings down rather than word them out. And so by the end of each letter, I feel I have put more into my conversations with God than I would have if speaking, and as a result, I get more out of them.

What difference does God make in your life?

Wow! God has made so many changes in my life that it is hard to even think of them! I think the biggest change He has made though has been in me as a person. Without Him, I am afraid I would be a pretty…well, lets just say my parents have a lot to be thankful for! God has shown me my flaws and has helped me patch them up in a way I, nor anyone else, ever could. I have had many “Oh. Please. No.” moments in my life (too many I might add…) and He has turned each and every one of those dreaded moments into something GOOD. I honestly don’t know who I would be without Him.

You mentioned having 13 foster siblings. That’s so incredible, and what a gift I know you’ve been to them. Can you describe what it was like and the impact it had on you? Can you share any fun experiences you’ve had with them?

Being a foster sister to so many amazing foster siblings has been the best experience in my life! I won’t lie, there were times when I didn’t know if we would make it, but in the end, those hard times were what made the good times so beautiful and the whole adventure so worthwhile! I think the greatest impact foster care has had on me is that it opened my eyes and heart to all the pain in the world. I have had a first-hand look at what some have to go through, and I want to see a change. 

Moving onto a lighter topic…the list of fun experiences I have had with my foster siblings is absolutely endless! We’ve done so many fun and memorable things together. Making up these silly little plays for our parents…baking cookies…having huge pillow fights…daring each other to knock on the neighbor’s door and run away…getting caught by the neighbor…spending three days in our rooms as punishment…scheming our revenge the while…sneaking out of the house after our punishment was over with a couple dozen eggs and some – okay, okay. So some of the best memories weren’t those when we were exactly wearing halos. I’ll skip to the end and say after scandalizing the neighbor’s house, well, let’s just say the next three weeks were kind of…weedy. After weeding out the neighbor’s yard, we were forced to weed out our own and then our other neighbor’s house. You will be happy to know that this actually turned out to be a good thing though. We sincerely learned our lesson and our foster sister did too. Though we haven’t seen her since she left our place, we are still in contact with her and she says that whenever she wants to get revenge, she thinks of our weeding punishment and completely has second thoughts.

You also mentioned you love to read. That’s so great, also. What are some of your favorite books and why?

One of my all-time favorite book is “Christy” written by Catherine Marshall. The story absolutely swept me away and taught me just so many amazing lessons! I then love this series by this Christian author Jenny B. Jones called “A Katie Parker Production.” Besides the fact that Miss Jones writes in the most humorous style I have ever read before, I absolutely adored the characters in this series. They all reminded me of a loved one in my life and Mad Maxine (Grandma in books) was just the funnest character ever. EVER. These are just a few books I could mention though. Currently, I am reading and loving “The River of Time” series by Lisa Tawn Bergren as well as rereading my Nancy Drew collection that consists of 87 books. (Nancy became a hero to me at the age of nine and I have been collecting her books ever since…)

What desires has God put on your heart?

I have plenty of desires in my heart but I think the biggest desire God has given me is the desire for change. I want to change so many things in this world! Mostly though, I want to see more people helping out those in need. It is so sad looking at all the pain in this world. The worst part is that due to the fact there is so much pain, so many of us have turned a blind eye to it. I want to change that.

What dreams do you have for your life?

Like practically everything else, I have a lot of dreams for my life. Ones of joy, adventure, love, etc. When everything is said and done though, my biggest wish is that I live the life God has planned for me and that I live it to the fullest extent. Because no matter what it is, I know it is His will, and His will is always best.

Leorah’s ‘Favorites’ . . .

Favorite Color – Yellow: The color of birth…light…joy…life…old fashion vanilla ice-cream. :]]

Favorite Food – Enchiladas: Mmmmm! My mouth waters just thinking of them!

Favorite Place You’ve Visited – Oregon to visit my Aunt. I still can’t believe how green it is there! At least compared to where I come from…

Favorite Song – Too. Hard. My favorite song changes practically every day. Three songs I can never get tired of though are “My Deliverer” by Rich Mullins, “Walk on Water” by Britt Nicole, and “We Live” by Superchick.

Favorite Quality in a Friend – Love: Because love is the strongest emotion in the world. Also, with love comes practically every other good quality you can think of in a person. A person who loves you will trust you. Will be kind to you. Will be honest with you. Will always be there for you. Will have your best interest always in mind. Will long and short of it all be the friend you want to have.

Fun Fact – I use to write letters to my future self when I was younger. This next birthday, I will be opening one from my six years old self….most people find this cute. The rest think I am a little too self-absorbed. Or was. Me – I think I was bossy. Seriously, my seven year old being wrote this HUGE list of things she wants me to buy ‘her’ once I get my drivers license. And get this, I HAVE to get them for her because as she came before me, she is the elder of us two and I need to respect my elders. I know…I feel so bad my parents had to deal with me!

HeartDream Chat – Thanks, Leorah, for chatting with us!  It was awesome hearing about your life! Have a comment or question for Leorah?  She’d love to hear!

Ah . . . Summer!

So school is out . . . days are getting hot . . . and now it’s time for fun! So what plans do you have for the summer? Any adventures in mind? Maybe you can’t wait to spend days at the pool, eat ice cream, or vacation with your family . . . or maybe it’s picnicking in the park, having summer sleepovers, or camping in the backyard. Any special projects in mind? . . . like photography? or scrapbooking? or learning to train your new puppy? Or maybe you can’t wait to read or journal under the shade tree in your yard . . .shutterstock_35194045

When I was little, summer was about riding my tricycle up and down the driveway, birthday parties in the backyard, and running through the sprinkler. Getting older I remember having a blast at church camp (it was even on an island!), eating homemade ice cream, and family vacations at the lake.

Ah . . . isn’t summer about being carefree and fun? You can have plans or no plans. Get up early or sleep late. You can do what you love or delve into new adventures. You can be by yourself or with loads of friends. But whatever you do, remember that God’s got adventures for you, too. He’s got amazing things that you wouldn’t come up with on your own.

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” And what does that mean? That He has cool things planned for your life that are beyond your wildest imagination! Greater than you could ever imagine! Now how awesome is that?

So how do we know what He’s planned? Just get alone with Him, and listen to His whispers. Maybe you’ll start those horse-training lessons you’ve been dying to take or getting your friends together for a weekly bike ride or maybe you’ll start a cooking club . . . yum, now that sounds fun. Or He might nudge you to help an elderly neighbor in her garden, or bake cookies for the new family down the street, or pet-sit for families on vacation. Whatever it is, you’ll have fun doing what you truly love to do. And if you’re helping someone out, your heart will feel warm when you do. Just know that God is smiling when you’re being who He created you to be. He loves it when you are happy and YOU!

So now that June is here, think of all the things you can’t wait to do. Then jump right in and have an awesome start of the summer!

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HeartDream Chat – What summer adventures can you not wait to have happen?

A ‘God’s Girl’ Chat

A chat with God’s Girl* Hailey, age 15 . . . (*God’s Girls are those who are happy because God is in their lives!)                                                                  “My Bible comes with me everywhere I go and brings me support throughout my day.”

What does it mean to become a Christian, and when did that happen in your life?

I heard when I was little that Christ died on the cross for our sins and that when we accept Him into our hearts we’ll have eternal life in heaven. I didn’t understand it back then, but as I got older my understanding grew more and more.

When do you spend time with God, and what is your favorite Bible verse?

I know He’s always with me, but I spend most of my time with Him at night. That’s when I think about things that happened during the day and study my Bible and pray. My favorite verse is 1 Peter 3:15-16, “But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” That verse is inspiring to me, and I also love Song of Songs.

What difference does God make in your life?

He gives me strength to do things and helps me throughout my day. He helps me with things in my life like knowing when relationships aren’t healthy. I’m also able to give advice and help others. I feel so blessed to know Him.

Can you give another example?

 It was hard switching schools when my family moved. I really liked my old school, and my new school was so different and so much bigger. It was overwhelming. But I knew God would be there to help me, and He did. Through it all I’ve learned that you’ll go through tough times, but God is still there and loves you. He is my best friend and is always with me. I get chills when I feel the Holy Spirit!

What desires has God put on your heart? What do you love to do?

I love to dance and have danced since I was five. I’ve done worship dance, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, and contemporary/lyrical. I also enjoy swimming, cheering, figure skating, gymnastics – especially trampoline, along with guitar and photography.

What dreams do you have for your life?

 I’d like to be an obstetrician because I’d love bringing new lives into the world. I could also be an elementary school teacher for 6-8 year-olds in a Christian school, because I love kids that age. But I definitely want to be a mom and have five kids!

 

Hailey’s ‘Favorites’ . . .

Favorite Colors – bright purple, lime green, turquoise, and hot pink

Favorite Foods – strawberries, cookies and cream ice cream, and pasta

Favorite Quote – “When life knocks you on your knees you’re in the perfect position to pray.” Ethel Barrymore

Best Quality (in her humble opinion) – My personality

Fun Fact – I have visited 18 countries

HeartDream Chat – Thanks, Hailey, for chatting with us!  Have a comment or question for Hailey?  She’d love to hear!

 

‘Yay’ for Moms

We pretty much couldn’t live without moms, right? . . . since that’s how we got here, anyway. The list is long when I think of all my mom has done for me and what I love about her . . .

  • having summer birthday parties for me when I was little                                        
  • twirling my hair as I nestled next to her when she’d talk on the phone
  • bringing me consomme and crackers and jello when I’d be sick in bed
  • taking me to ballet and piano and skating lessons, and being there for me at recitals
  • playing golf and tennis and skiing together
  • checking up on me while doing my homework making sure I wasn’t working too hard
  • sending me cookies when I went to summer church camp and off to college, later on

And the list goes on and on . . .

Yup, moms are pretty special, and as you grow up, they’ll still keep being your mom! They’re there for you and love you and are always rooting for you, even if you don’t feel it at times.

But if things aren’t going well with your mom right now, just know that she loves you and wants to get back on track. If you’re sad or mad, just talk to her and listen, knowing she wants what’s best for you.

And if you’re one who’s lost your mom, feel God’s arms embracing you, and think on all the good things about her, knowing she felt bad about leaving so soon.

In Ephesians 6:2-3 God says, “Honor your father and mother so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” So how about making a list of everything you love about your mom and all the things she does for you? And then give it to her. I know it’ll make her day.

So ‘Yay’ for moms on Mother’s Day! And remember to honor her not only on this day, but every day, and you’ll live the long life God has planned for you!

HeartDream Chat – What’s the coolest thing you love about your mom and why?

When Your Heart is Heavy

Feeling sad? Gloomy? Down in the dumps? If it makes you feel better, everyone does from time to time, so welcome to the human race! Maybe your dog just died, or your best friend is moving away, or your parents are getting a divorce. Whatever it is, feeling down is definitely not fun.shutterstock_19238281

Did you know that God created emotions? And that even Jesus wept? God knows everything that happens to you . . . He knows every detail. He knows what you’re going through when life is rough.

Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” That’s the good news . . . that He’ll heal your broken heart and make things right, no matter what you’re going through. He will comfort you and strengthen you when times are tough, and He will lift you up.

So when your heart is heavy, look to Him and trust Him. He will heal your broken heart!

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Jealous? Envious? Not!

Ever want something your best friend has? Or totally NOT your best friend? Or someone just passing by? Is it her cool hair? Fun clothes? Popularity? Or smarts?

Or maybe you dreamed of winning that contest, when someone else did . . .shutterstock_46888414

If that’s ever happened, it’s TOTALLY not fun. It’s being in that awful place called jealousy . . . envy . . . dying to have what someone else has.

But you know what? You don’t have to be there. Really. And God doesn’t want you to. In fact, He has a perfect plan that fits exactly who you are . . . your strengths, personality, talents, and desires . . . and you don’t have to compare or compete with anyone, because His plan is designed just for you.

And how do we know that? Take a look at Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Now how awesome is that? That when you think about Him, how amazing He is, He will truly give you what’s deep in your heart. So listen to your heart and discover what’s there. Do you love to draw? Bake yummy stuff? Ride horses? Help others? Remember that it’s God who’s put those desires there, and He’s the one who will bring them about. Now isn’t that just the best news yet? Is there anything better than being totally who you are?

So whenever feelings of jealousy or envy try to creep in, just remember God’s truth, and hug a friend instead!

Best Friends

How Do I Look?

Can you imagine your day without looking in the mirror? But when you do look, do you love what you see? Or are there other times not? Do you love what God’s given you, or do you wish you looked different?shutterstock_99042647

Isn’t it all about hair and make-up and the clothes that you wear? And if not yet, maybe soon down the road? I mean, that’s what people first notice about you and what the world tells you, right?

Well, let me tell you what’s true . . . That’s not really so! Let’s look at what God says about this, anyway . . .

1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”

So what does that mean? . . . that you can’t have fun hair and cool outfits and look really great? That you need to be quiet? Now that doesn’t sound fun.

Well, it may sound like it, but want to know what it really means? That God loves that you want to look your best and to love your life. He just really does. He’s not against fun hairstyles and fashion and make-up. No way! And how do we know that? Because He’s a god of beauty and design. Just look at all He’s created . . . gorgeous flowers and trees . . . lovely snowfalls and sunsets, along with everything else! And because He’s so creative, He loves it when you are, too!

He enjoys when you love a new outfit or hairstyle or make-up and when you’re trying something new. He’s not against you having fun. He just wants you to know what’s most important . . . that true beauty comes from within. When you radiate kindness and love toward others is when you’re most beautiful and shows what’s in your heart.

And about being quiet? God created you to be totally you . . . to be who you are and to laugh, and yes, to have fun! He’d just rather you not do it in a loud arrogant way. He wants you to be other-centered and not self-centered . . . to not think more highly of yourself than someone else. Now doesn’t that feel right?

So if you ever start thinking it’s all about how you look, remember that true beauty comes from within and that nothing’s more beautiful than when you’re glowing with God.

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When God Seems Far Away

God is always with you, right? You learned that when you were little. Or maybe that’s something you just learned right now, and if so, so happy for you! Just remember, wherever you’re at, it may not feel like He’s always there, or He may seem far away. And when that happens . . . it probably will . . . what’s a girl to do?shutterstock_59626096

Good question. And God likes questions . . . it brings us closer to Him.

Well, what’s truly cool is you can know in your heart that He’s with you even when it doesn’t feel that way. And why do we know that? Because that’s what the Bible says, and God’s word is true.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And that means exactly that. He’s always with you. ALWAYS! Got it? And the cool thing is even if you don’t feel that God is there, He still truly is. So when you have a fight with your best friend . . . He’s there. When your parents don’t understand you . . . He’s there. When you feel nothing’s going your way . . . He’s there. Now how comforting is that? It’s awesome, isn’t it? . . . just knowing you’re never alone . . . that He’s working things out in your life far greater than you can imagine.

So when it seems like God is far away, know He’s really not. Get cozy with your Bible and let Him speak to you. When you listen to what He’s telling you, He’ll soon seem right there. So yes, go ahead . . . just try it and see!

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