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A Lesson from Race Across the Creek

August 7, 2009 1 comment

Today I got to looking at pictures on Facebook of a relay race I was apart of at camp this summer: the First Annual Race Across the Creek. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, along with one of the most unique experiences of community I’ve had. I remember how difficult it was to get out of bed knowing what I was heading toward, but when it was over, I knew it was the right decision. That being said, I realize that the time I spent that day with Grace and Allison may be an example of a bigger step to take place in my life in a few short months.

heading to the starting line of Race Across the Creek

heading to the starting line of Race Across the Creek

I got to thinking tonight about how amazingly at home I feel here in Lexington. I know I’ve only been here for 2 days, but I feel better here these two days than I did most of my previous 4 years. I know things may change once school starts, but I finally feel like I have a life. My church family has provided me with a free place to live (with wonderful friends, nonetheless!) and a wonderful job. I’m going to start another job in a month or so, and my best friends move back this weekend. But even with all this, I know I’m not meant to stay in Lexington. God has been preparing me for something else, and I may have figured it out. The thing is, it’s going to be a lot like doing the Race Across the Creek.

I’m going to have to leave the comfort of Lexington and go somewhere and do something more challenging than I’ve ever done in my life.

It’s going to be so hard to leave. I have been praying for the strength to be able to up and go when the time comes. One of my best friends said to me the other day, “You knew it would happen. We all struggle with [our focus]. God may ask you to give up a good life to go where He’s called you.”

The Beginning of a Call.

July 27, 2009 1 comment

During the sixth week of camp, our Camp Pastor was a man named Tom Richter. I got to know Tom last summer, seeing as the tech girl spends a little more time with the Camp Pastor than most of the other staffers. Tom grew up in Murray, went to Murray State, and was called during seminary to a church in Queens, New York City. On the third day of camp, I happened to have to walk to the road to mail a card, and Tom drove by and offered me a ride to lunch. During the 2 min drive, he asked me what I was doing since I had already graduated, and I told him I had no idea. He then asked me if I wanted to come to New York. Figuring he was just asking, I said, “sure!”

If only the story ended here. As I went throughout the day, the idea of going to New York City didn’t leave my mind, but every time I pushed it away figuring I was trying to make a big deal out of something because I wanted to know my next step so bad. But Day 3 of camp is themed “Beyond Your Plans,” and so that night Tom preached about a “semi-colon moment,” talking about a verse where Peter paused and then his next actions were important. Peter chose Jesus’ plans. And it hit me. I’m at a semi-colon moment in my life: I finished college, did my semester of “bumming around” postponing real life, and now was nearing the end of camp – my last act as a college-aged person. I felt God calling me.

So I wrote Tom a note and told him about what my heart seemed to be telling me. The next morning he slapped a business card in my hand and told me we would talk. Later that afternoon we had the unique ability to spend about an hour and a half together before dinner and we talked about how I felt I was beginning to be called into the secular culture of the media industry, and not into a church job as I had hoped and attempted to find. He told me about his church, and every bit of it sounded eerily similar to the growth I have found at my church in Lexington, Church at Tatesbrook. Tom told me he had been praying for me specifically, and that if God was bringing me to New York, he wanted me at his church, and would help me find a place to live and a roommate.

And so I prayed. Did a little freaking out, and then prayed some more.

And then I told Tom I was in. Now, all I’m waiting for is God’s timetable with a job. As the next 3 weeks passed, and I finished up camp, God granted me a peace about this new direction. He gave me a peace that I don’t have to know when this is going to happen, and I’m okay with the fact that it might not happen soon, as a lot of my friends at camp feel like it is going to happen.

So now that I’m a day out of camp, Satan has definitely attacked this peace I’ve had. My dad shot down the idea as soon as I arrived home and tried to talk to him about it, and I have to say my life in Lexington is lining up quite nicely. But during the long drive to Florida today, I’ve had a lot of time to think and pray, and what I have come to realize is that I may have to leave a “good life” to follow God’s call for my life. I also realize I may have to live in a lonely situation at a low-end job when I start, but if all else fails, I am going to grow in my relationship with my Creator.

Please be in prayer for me, and I will continue to update the process. Also, if you know of a video/graphics editing job in NYC, let me know!

escape?

I’ve been at home in Somerset for almost a week now, and I wonder how long until I start calling it “my parent’s house” instead of “home”. Today has been a long day filled with long and deep conversations, and it has worn on my mind. Even now, there are so many thoughts running through my head I fear this post, the first in ages, may not have the clarity & direction I wish for it.

I leave for Jonathan Creek in 4 days. And I wonder what camp holds for me this summer. I was told by one of my best friends tonight that she doesn’t believe I’ll end up back in Lexington. This took me for a loop, because I’ve had the feeling for a month or so that I will end up in Lexington in the fall, and for a long time to come. When I look back at where I thought I’d be at this point, it amazes me. Just six months ago I wanted nothing more than to live in Louisville. Just three months ago I wanted nothing more than to be preparing for 2 years in South America. And now, not only do I not know where I want to be, but more importantly, I don’t know where God wishes for me to be.

But back to camp. Oh, Jonathan Creek. As the time approaches for my departure, I feel the anxiety as I did last summer before I left. I worry about the dynamics of camp this summer. I know it will be nothing like last summer, but what will it be like? I fear as though I am treating it as my escape. It is true that camp is nothing like real life: relationships are either amplified or diminished exponentially, the outside world seems to lose its importance, and God moves in bigger ways than you thought possible.

But if I use camp as an escape, will these things not happen? Or is God going to go ahead and blow my mind? Last summer I experienced healing without feeling His presence, and it changed me. This summer, am I finally going to get a peak into where I’m going and what I’m going to be doing for Him? I can only hope.

You see, God has brought into my life people I feel as though I have wasted time with. People I want more time with. People that others don’t understand why I love so much. Honestly, I don’t either. But it happened, and for once, it’s different. It’s different in a lot of ways, including my sister, my past, and my future. How’s that for confusion?

All that to say this: I know I have a choice coming. Here is what I see as options:
• Move into my parent’s home in Somerset, and take a job substitute teaching & coaching basketball at my uncle’s school. Free. Somerset.
• Move back to Lexington, and live with married friends of mine until I get onto my feet & accept a promotion at my current job. Balance issues. Lexington.
• Accept a job from something coming from camp, whether it be a church with a media position, or a permanent job with camp. Starting over.

And thus the praying continues.

Living with Loving Intensely: ii

September 24, 2008 1 comment

Life never seems to hand you one thing at a time. It always opens up the sky and downpours right as you put away the umbrella cause you think you’ve got it under control. My life has been nothing but intense situations the past couple of days. So I think I’m gonna be pretty transparent this early morning at work. Yes, I know this is the Internet and that’s a dangerous thing, but truthfully, not many people read this, and if someday they do, I hope God uses this for His glory…

I was thinking back last night to one of the roughest times in my life. It was around Easter a year and a half ago. My life had spiraled down to the point that I wasn’t sleeping, eating, or much of anything. I pretty much laid in bed all day. My mom came up from Florida to stay with me, and I remember waking up in the hotel room bed, sticking my head under the pillow and bawling uncontrollably because I knew this was something I couldn’t fix.

I thought I had screwed up my life. I had made choices that brought me to that place. I wasn’t worth the blessings I still had, and I didn’t feel worthy enough to stay on this planet.

But God is bigger than my screw-ups. He is bigger than my situations, and He is bigger than my relationships. When I feel consumed by these things: especially the latter two, I have to remember how small they are in comparison to His Love for me. Gosh, that sounds so cliche and corny, but when you’ve felt it, it’s anything but.

This summer, at camp, I wondered if I’d ever be able to move past my screw-ups. I wondered if I’d ever be able to depend on God anywhere near how I should. And though the whole summer I never ‘felt’ God, was never able to get into the ‘zone’ and worship Him, He still blessed my desire to make things better in my life. It didn’t happen quickly, in fact it didn’t come to fruition until I left camp, but it happened. And yes, now that I realize what I’ve got: 4 relationships where I am challenged, loved, encouraged, and given opportunities to love and encourage, I want to go back to camp and appreciate them in that environment.

Instead, I pray.

I pray for the struggles, I pray for the relationships, I pray for the pain, I pray for the busyness, and I most certainly pray for the love. And while sometimes I feel like praying is talking to a wall, I have come to realize when I do it with a believing heart, it’s the most powerful thing I can be doing for them.

So while my life may be a waiting game right now and is going to change drastically in a few short months, and while my friendships that once were strong are slipping through my grasping fingertips, and while the place that once felt like home and now is my literal home is the most uncomfortable place in the world, I continue to pray. And you know what? I’m ok. Not fine, mind you, but ok. 🙂

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have the need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:32-33

JCreek ’08 – the final installment (VI)

Now that I’ve been home a few days and had the time to evaluate the past 67 days of my life, I’m truly amazed at the blessing it was. I remember what my status on Facebook was the few days before I left: Ashlyn wishes it was August. Now that I’m staring in the face of August, I’m full of the craziest mixture of emotions. Sadness, excitement, anxiety, gratitude, exhaustion, and confusion all rolled into one.

I’ve been thinking back to training week and how scared I was. Helping everyone move in, wondering how we’d fit that many of us in that room (still wondering how we did that), and trying to figure out what the heck I was doing with that video camera. Everyone thought I was really quiet and shy, which I’m pretty sure they don’t anymore. I was always nervous to ask people to be in a video. Thankfully, everyone was up for the random ideas I had, like putting a kayak on the tower, tackling each other, or running in a huge group over the hill.

One of my favorite times of the week were Sunday afternoon lunches. We all came together before another week started. Those that left the past weekend were welcomed back, and memories of time together was laughed about. Although I despised most of the rest of Sundays, this time at 11:30am is something I’ll always cherish. As I struggle to figure out how to incorporate the past 2 and a half months into “real life,” I feel as though I’m desperately grasping at the wisps of the summer falling from my mind. Yes, I know there’s the Staff DVD, but it’s not the same unless I’m sitting in the JCafe listening to my friends laugh at it for the first time or sitting in Lindsey’s apartment getting ready for a wedding and laughing again.

I think the thing I am most afraid of is that as I return to school and BCM and my impending graduation from college, all the things God showed me and taught me this summer won’t seem real because I’m no longer in that environment. I spent my entire summer being around the same 30-35 people, practically 24 hours a day. Suddenly, these people are mostly gone from my life and I am shoved back into a world of school loans, living paycheck to paycheck, and people not being intentional and real. I don’t ever want to forget what I learned about being a servant, about true leadership without recognition, about finding worth solely in Christ. I don’t want to forget conversations outside the Cafe on the weekend, conversations in the tech booth during Bible study, or conversations sitting on the beach chair during third rotation. I don’t want to forget laughing at kids on the ski boat, cracking up when staffers couldn’t go down the slip and slide, or taunting each other playing dodgeball. God BLESSED me by allowing me to serve alongside amazing people this summer. I still feel so unworthy to be considered in the same group as them. I feel like making a 45 minute staff DVD was nowhere near enough of a gift from me to them.

So as I face the next few weeks of detox, know that while I won’t miss the snoring reverberating around the room, I will miss nightly roommate conversations. Though I won’t miss the incredible mess in our floor and bathroom, I will miss the community of all our crap being in one place. Though I won’t miss most mornings, I will miss making faces behind Crenshaw on screen and her never realizing it. Though I won’t miss yelling “staffers, we’ve got a church!” I will miss the Rouses’ Sunday Staff meetings (and the Rouses in general). I won’t miss the goose poop, but I will miss the cross. Not the dart game, but flamingo. Not cleaning, but my cleaning team. Not running slides, but the time with those in the tech booth.

I’ll never forget being able to pray for my friends, Crossings Life, and worshiping alongside amazing staffers. Thank you for 67 amazing days of learning, sleeplessness, and fun. I owe you more than I could ever repay.

Categories: Camp, Ministry Tags: , , ,

JCreek ’08 – Installment V

[Installments II-IV can be found on my Facebook.]

Well, we have three week lefts here, and the end of my time here is not only on the horizon, but plainly in view. Last week was a week of exhaustion, both physically and emotionally, and we’ve all had the realizations of the difference between real life and life at camp.

This weekend I got to see my family and my best friend, and as I was driving the 3 hour drive back from Louisville, I felt, for the first time, that real life is going to be okay once camp ends. I am scared that my friendships here won’t last past camp, and I am scared that my growth and learnings here will disappear as soon as I get back into school.

God has taught me about my worth, and where to find it, and I’m pretty sure He’s going to continue doing that by removing things that are comfortable to me. He started with my physical environment, then my communication with my best friend, and then my video camera. I have asked Him to continue taking everything away until I find my worth in nothing else but Him.

It’s amazing how I came to camp to minister to kids through my videos, but I have learned so much more than anything I’ve ever shown a kid (I am only the video chick, anyway). I never would have imagined I would have opened up to people like I have, try to be a servant to people like I have, or had as much (or not as much) sleep as I have. I truly could stay here with these people forever, but I know this isn’t possible.

My time at Jonathan Creek is almost over, and for that I am sad.
But my journey with my Lord continues, and I cannot wait to see what He has in store for this, my last year of college.

Categories: Camp, Ministry Tags: , ,

JCreek ’08 – the first installment

Well it’s only the fifth day I’ve been here and I feel as though it’s been closer to 3 weeks. The entire week coming up is a continuation of training, and the first set of campers come a week from today, a mere few hours after we finish training!

All the fears I had about camp: not being excited, not making friends among the staff, not coming up with ideas about the videos, not sleeping well, etc. have all been eased and deemed unnecessary by the Lord. I could not praise Him enough for that. EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this staff has already become my friend. From the beginning we have been transparent about our walks with the Lord, about our fears and the struggles we go through. From the beginning we laughed about our clumsiness, encouraged each other up the rock wall, served each other in the dining hall, and rapped with each other in the room. I feel absolutely privileged and unworthy of serving alongside these amazing people.

It probably also helps that I have been able to come up with and execute (so far) all the ideas for my videos. For those that are wondering, I am in charge of around 12 videos and promos before camp begins, ranging from 1-3 minutes each. It started off rocky with the computer I was supposed to edit on crashing, but a new one (a MAC!) arrives in the morning.

I think the thing that has been the most amazing is the way I feel toward the rest of the summer. I am excited. A week ago, I was upset and sad because my friends had just left Somerset and I had this seemingly neverending summer of the unknown ahead of me. God has brought me to Jonathan Creek for a type of fresh start, and for the first time in my life, I have embraced it. My heart is changing toward a lot of things, and I look forward to see how it progresses.

For those of you that want it, my address:
Jonathan Creek Camp
Attn: Ashlyn Bruce
3043 Beal Road
Hardin, KY 42048

Love you all. Feel free to drop a note or a text message anytime before 11pm Central Time. 🙂

Categories: Camp Tags: , ,