Sunday, June 28, 2015

What's so great about New Life?

Last night after dinner, intending to get some exercise, I slipped on my running shoes and headed down the trail from our house that leads to the main part of camp. Even though we've lived here for over 12 years, I sometimes still can't believe that I get to live at the camp I grew up coming to as a child. Camp seemed quiet and almost empty. Saturday mornings, the campers go home and the grounds rest and become peaceful. I took these pics on my phone. Enjoy a little tour of the sights I get to see on a regular basis on my walks! 
The waterfront is one of my favorite places at New Life Ranch.
The silver bullet (slide) has been around since I was a camper in the mid 80's. Just don't forget to plug your nose when you go down, or you'll experience what it would be like to snort a fire hydrant! There's also a trapeze with rings, a trolley, blob, funky bars, wet willie, and jumping board. The only thing missing from my camper days are the old tire inner tubes! 

My normal walking circuit through the top pasture to the west forty, down into bambi's forest, and finally Micah's trail, leads me right past this refreshing beautiful spillway near the edge of camp. 

It's sad to say that none of the original cabins from when I was a camper in the 80's still exist, but this cute little cabin on the creek edge is adorable. I mean, who wouldn't want their son or daughter to stay here for a week of camp?

This is the original chapel. Lots of memories here of candlelight testimony services on Friday nights. Maybe I was a bit nerdy, but I loved singing and chapel was my absolute favorite part of summer camp as a kid. The nurse and theme banners are just there for check-ins on Sunday. 
Sunday night cookouts by the waterfront here are DA BEST! At least on weeks when it isn't 100 degrees outside!
Fire pit area in front of our new conference center. If you look real close,  you can see the chapel in the distance, which gives you an idea of the size of the grassy ballfield out there that I didn't get a good picture of. 
I didn't take this yesterday, but here's Westwoods cabins from the island at night. 

Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and equip believers for ministry. I can't think of a better place to do that. And lest you think that NLR is as quiet as pictured in the above photos, watch this little video here: 

For a brief and powerful history of New Life Ranch, there's also this. It will make you cry. Speaking of crying, I love books, videos, and articles that make me cry, don't you? 

Friday, June 26, 2015

shabby chic dress

It's been a while since I've posted a fashion find, so I figure it is about time! If you're new to the blog, you might not know this whole thing started out as a fashion blog! I was stuck in a rut, as a mom of five kids, and wearing jeans and t-shirts every day. So I created this little blog and attempted to post what I was wearing every day in an effort to change my ways! Along the way, it became about living frugally, not supporting sweat shops, and shopping resale shops, consignment stores, and wait for it...wait for it....the Goodwill! Here's a cute blue and red flowered dress I found at the Goodwill in our little town. I wore it to a spring wedding, and I often wear it just out and about around our camp. I'm wearing it tonight to our camp's candlelight testimony service. It's been well worth the $3 I paid for it. Living frugally allows us to give more generously and THAT is where it's AT friends!

Sitting on the grass leaning against a tree. I do this all the time. It is SO natural right?
 I've clearly run out of ideas for camera poses! 

And just to show that everything looks better with a filter and in black and white, here you go!
No crows feet around my eyes at all here ladies! :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Thanking God for Depression

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a counselor or psychologist. I’m just a wife and mother who grieved thru two years of depression, and emerged on the other side….thankful. I will explain why, but first I need to define depression for the purpose of this article. Depression is the inability to find real joy. For whatever reason, be it chemical, spiritual, emotional, or circumstantial, depression settles like a heavy blanket making any hope of finding real joy in life seem completely foreign and unattainable.

I know because I walked the ugliness and pain of depression. About five years ago, seemingly out of nowhere, a dark cloud descended over me. I was blessed with a faithful husband, five beautiful children, and living at a summer camp (the greatest spot on earth), yet years of neglecting my spiritual life, and struggles with doubt, led me to face darkness in my heart I never knew existed. I was burned out and tired and it was a stressful time in life. I gave up trying. I stayed in bed for days at a time. I self-medicated. I escaped online. I was bitter. I was angry. I was selfish. I wasn’t suicidal, but I certainly understood how someone would rather end life, than continue on living that way.

In the middle of my depression, I read something that said, depression is caused by wanting something we cannot have. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” I wanted my own way, my own glory. I know as human beings, we can want lots of things we don’t have: a more satisfying job, a perfect spouse, a nicer house, children, a prettier face, greater intelligence, greater prestige, a more exciting life, acceptance from certain people, physical healing of an ailment, restoration of loss of loved ones and relationships. Some of the time, I didn’t know what I wanted. I just knew I wanted to feel better.

I speculate that the woman at the well struggled with depression. This woman had experienced 5 different husbands. Certainly hope was deferred for her, as she went from one man to the next trying to find joy. But Jesus told her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Jesus pointed the woman at the well to the only true source of joy in life: himself.

I’m thankful for my depression because through it I learned to find joy in Him alone. In the midst of depression, I ceased to find joy in my earthly life. I no longer felt joy in watching my children play. I lost joy in my marriage. Every source of joy in my life seemed to be taken away from me. I spent two years, struggling and as I began falling flat on my face at the feet of Jesus, He slowly began to reveal Himself to me. Lewis Sperry Chafer, in He that is Spiritual, explains that when we are seeking God, we do not get more of God, he gets more of us. As I sought him, I relinquished more and more pieces of myself that He wanted. I wrote in my journal, “The Lord uses our struggles to empty us of ourselves. When we realize we cannot overcome it on our own, we must die, and He must live in us. How do I practically do this? The only thing I know of is hours spent seeking Him, renewing my heart, mind, and thoughts.”

Here I am…emerged on the other side of the dark, lonely valley of depression. I gave up. I handed Jesus my bruised, broken heart. I said, “This is it Lord. It’s all I have, it’s not very pretty, but it’s yours.” He performed a miracle. He transformed it to be whole again. I have peace. I have hope. I find myself now in a completely different place, incredibly thankful for the great blessings of my life, my husband and children. Because I learned joy in Him, I am even greater able to rejoice in them. Whereas before, my family was my greatest source of joy, my greatest joy now is Christ. I am forgiven, free, and healed and I feel incredibly privileged to be called his child.

Please don’t misunderstand and think that I am claiming that depression is only a spiritual issue, or always a spiritual issue. I know, for me, it was a combination of things. A doctor discovered I was severely anemic (almost hospitalization level) during this time. Lack of iron in the blood certainly depletes one of energy! I also think there were hormonal things at work for me. If you struggle with depression, please don't neglect getting help from professionals. But also, whatever the cause, depression can still be the catalyst that points us towards a deeper relationship with Christ. I love the Psalmist’s cry, “My eyes are ever on the Lord. For only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.” (Psalm 25:15-16) Because of my depression, I learned to cling to Jesus. There are days, I actually miss the way I needed him in those moments when my depression was crushing. I look back and see that He was good and faithful through it all and I give thanks…even for depression.