Ultimate Joy

Archive for June 2010

With the oil spill in the gulf, unemployment at new highs and just the overall ugliness of war, poverty and senseless violence, it is easy to overlook the heroic individuals who use their time and talents to bring healing and hope.  I met such heroes this week at summer camp.  I’m encouraged by the kindness of these leaders, who take a most precious commodity – time – and turn it into health and wholeness for a special group of kids.

Royal Family Kids Camp is a national organization that creates positive memories in the lives of abused, abandoned and neglected children through a week long resident camp experience.  On Thursday, I had the opportunity to visit the local camp in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where 90 bright-eyed, joy-filled children enjoyed swimming, boating, games, crafts and teaching.  Most importantly during their time at the camp, these children coming from foster or group homes are loved on and encouraged.

What a gift to give a child!  One child had the camp “grandmother” hold his hand for 45 minutes before he went to sleep.  Another camper learned to ride a bike for the first time.  Each child participates in the “Everyone’s Birthday Party,” because at home most of these children don’t have a special birthday celebration.  As beautiful these stories are, what is an even more sweet-smelling fragrance is the counselors and volunteers who make these possible.

Unsung heroes, individuals that are role models, cross our paths on an almost daily basis.  They are the people who make the world a cheerier place because they positively influence those around them.  The volunteers I saw were doing just that and more!  Each counselor could tell a story of how they cared for a camper, how an individual was nurtured or, even better, the growth of character and integrity in returning camp participants. 

I thank the heroes in my life – those who stood by my side even when I hardly deserved it.  Too many to mention here, they brought a gift of beauty into my life.  They reenergized me when I needed it.  They uplifted me and showed me that in the end, beauty and peace will prevail.  To those who came along side me, thank you so much, like the counselors at Royal Family Kid’s Camp, for showing me heaven on earth.

I hope some day I can be a hero like you.

Question:  Whose your hero and why?

The world will say that you aren’t valued.  You are small…That you are the product of other people’s opinions.

But you are not!

You are not your mistakes,

You are not your blunders

You are not the sum of your unrighteous acts.

You are worthy,

You are significant

You are deserving of praise for who you are and what you have done.

You are not what other’s say you are when they whisper about you in cold, callous tones..

You are a child of the Most High God.

His son or daughter;

Loved;

Welcomed;

Cherished and Whole.

You are all that and more.

The battle is believing the right voice.

Lord, speak life over me, over my friends reading this post. Help us to hear Your inspirational whispers over us.  Let us drink in your words of encouragement and love.  We need to hear that Voice. Forgive us for letting the other voices rule our minds. Help us feel Your favor. Help us rest in Your pleasure right now. Amen.

Question:  What voice is easiest for you to hear?  The world’s or the still small voice of God’s?

Lately, I’ve been journaling about being broken.  Some of the thoughts scribbled in my journal reflect an immense heaviness in my heart.  I remember once when I was about eleven, while trying to balance myself on a guardrail, I tumbled off.  My knee had a huge gash in it.  I ended up having stitches, which caused me to limp for many weeks afterward.  To this day, I bear the scar of my unwise escape.  But the recent thoughts in my journal have been of things that don’t quite heal as quickly as a sore knee.

Brokenness hurts.  The repercussion of sin, betrayal or loss hurt much more than falling off that guardrail.  But I’ve learned three things during the hard times; Jesus is closer than I realize, I’m stronger than I imagined and I am loved by my heavenly Father more than I ever felt possible.  In the difficult times, when the emotional and spiritual pain is excruciating, my faith has undergone growth spurts that I never thought possible.  God makes poetry out of our pain. As one author put it, “God’s greatest purposes emerge through the cracks created in brokenness.”

When we walk through our brokenness with God, we come out a different person.  Memories of our difficulty, what God revealed to us in our pain and how He put us back together…these will always remain.  Even though we are whole again, we are also changed.  We become closer to our God – who suffered physical pain on the cross, but also bore the immense weight of the world’s sin. 

And that is why despite our pain, our spirit blooms – stronger, more determined and with a deeper appreciation of God, who is constantly drawing us closer to Him.   

It takes a heart broken by conviction of sin, baptized by the Holy Spirit, and crushed into submission to God’s purpose to make a person’s life a holy example of God’s message.
Oswald Chambers