Cheers, to a Summer of a Few Failures, Some Great Memories, and Many Lessons from the Man Upstairs

 

The academic year is quickly approaching: a new year with more responsibility and less chores. I am excited, to say the least, to see what the Lord has in store for this year! But first, let’s re-hash the summer a little, and maybe re-open some old wounds (literally?).

So… let’s just say that I was named ‘Hope’ and not ‘Grace’ for good reasons (one of which is that I might be one of the least graceful people on this planet, thankfully the Lord also made me pretty durable). This summer I had a couple self-inflicted, but completely accidental, injuries; one of which led to me being an Air Assault drop, another giving me a black eye, and there were a few others.

To begin, Air Assault quite literally took my breath away when I knocked the wind out of myself on the first obstacle during the obstacle course on zero day. No excuses, but I was pretty done after that given my lack of breath and bruised ribs, which was extremely discouraging because I have completed (several times) all of the other obstacles and should not have been a failure. BUT, I was. Like I said, no excuses, and even though I was extremely… frustrated, to say the least, the coming days and weeks showed me a lot.

As I was looking into the Word just now, I came across Ephesians 4:2 which reads:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Hmmm… let’s see… after my first big failure of the summer, I definitely was NOT humble, I was NOT gentle, and I was NOT patient. In all honesty, I was quite the opposite. I was pretty self-absorbed, harsh, and quick to anger, none of which I am proud to remember or share, but it’s true. I have definitely tried to right my wrongs, and I am grateful for the grace that others have extended to me (especially Katie, thanks Katie!).

I wasn’t even angry at a specific person or even God. I had no reason to be angry at anyone at all! No one did anything wrong besides me, and that’s all it was, extreme frustration with myself. All of that anger just boiled over into my relationships with the people I care about when they were trying to encourage me and I just was unable to accept it because of how angry I was with myself… not one of my proudest moments by any stretch of the imagination. In all honesty, this failure, or any failure to come, was not the end of the world (but if it had been, at least we would all be with Jesus right now). I learned a lot by working in the TOC as my duty instead of Air Assault, I met some great people (which is super cool since I love people), and, looking back, I was being set up for some awesome realizations to come in my own life. Thanks God!

Sticking with the theme of things I was failing miserably at in June, let’s check out James 1:19 which says:

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

(Patience is a virtue that I will be eternally working on, but, thankfully I have an amazing God who does not give up on me and continues to give me opportunities to learn more about it.)

So, Cadet Field Training (CFT) 2017 at Camp Buckner (endearingly referred to as “Camp Fun Fun”), was one for the books! From memories that soared above the rest to moments that were down and dirty, I think the class of 2020 could agree that we are all thankful for the memories we made with each other, but we were also ready for the time off before the academic year.

One of the greatest blessings during CFT was the group of Christians that met at the peninsula every night at 8 p.m. throughout the entire month. Of course not everyone was there every night, depending on who was doing what training or where they were at in the field. Anyways… it was so great to have the group, whether it was just two of us or almost twenty, praising, praying, and getting into the Word. I am truly amazed and blessed by the community of brothers and sisters that always surrounds me here. In times where it is so easy to fall into cynicism, having these amazing people to fall back onto is so uplifting. I pray that wherever you are at in this world, that you would find a group of people just as encouraging as mine to support, encourage, and pour into each other. This group emanates the love that John writes about in 2 John 1:6

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Love is more than just kindness, it’s helping each other through our fears and failures, too. It’s telling someone in a loving way that they are not acting in a holy manner, as defined in scripture. It might be hard to say these things to our brothers and sisters, and it can be even harder to hear and accept them even when they come from someone who cares about us, but it is necessary. One of my favorite things about the community of Christians that I belong to here is that everyone loves each other enough to have difficult conversations when they are needed. In the end, our group is that much closer because of it.

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So, you might be wondering: what were the interesting and exciting and fun things about CFT? Well, it’s easy now to look back and call some of the things “fun” but in all actuality, very few seemed fun at the time. There was a lot of rucking, which is pretty boring, but whatever. There were bug bites and falling down mountains and complaining… but there were also many laughs, inside jokes, and great new friends. Silly Sidebar: how I gave myself a black eye… (It’s more dumb than anything, so don’t get too excited).

During the FTX (a field training exercise that was 5 days and 4 nights near the end of CFT), I got bronchitis for the last few days. A big shout out to my platoon for being so supportive during my endless coughing in the nights! And an even bigger shout out to our platoon leader for getting us hidden enough to never get found by task force even though I was definitely not tactical! Sooo… I had bronchitis and had gotten really good at coughing, especially at the most inopportune times. Well, the day after we got back from the FTX, my company is doing both the land and water obstacle courses (which I have proven are not my strengths already, but it’s cool, I still have a good time with obstacle courses!). We got to the water obstacle course and I get to the Slide-for-Life first (an epic zipline that you get to drop from), and I had a blast!

Then, it was time to walk across the beams, over the boxes, and then climb across a rope before dropping into the water. The balance beams were fine, I could honestly probably run across them now, it was the rope that got me. Remember how I said I wasn’t good at obstacle courses and that I also coughed at the most inopportune times? Yeah, well that got me. During the land obstacle course I definitely struggled on a couple new obstacles and burned my forearms out a little, but hey, whatever. So as I was going across the rope, I realized that my arms were really tired, obviously I wasn’t going to give up, it wasn’t like no one else was tired too or anything. I heard the cadet that was in charge of this part of the course tell me I was almost there, so I thought to myself, “cool, I got this,” and in that moment as I was going for a new hold on the rope, I coughed and completely lost my balance! Sending me face first, into the water.

Yeah, that was a bummer (eventually got back up there and finished it, so no big deal). As I climbed out of the water everyone was all like “oh my gosh, are you okay?” “do you need anything?” “wow, that was pretty rough…” and it honestly wasn’t that big of a deal. I can laugh at myself all day for how dumb I probably looked, but people kept coming up to me and asking if I was okay. So, finally, I just ask one of the guys near me what is going on and he tells me that it looks like I am crying. I was very confused until I realized I did face smack the water. In return for my not so graceful water landing, I had a subtle, but still evident, black eye. Good thing, I got some purple eye shadow to borrow for Camp Illumination!

If you walk away with nothing else from this blog, just know that you should definitely invite me to do obstacle courses with you because you will probably get some good laughs out of it.

In the midst of the crazy, I definitely had some really awesome time for reflection and prayer, especially with my close friends. While we were there, one of my best friends and I would just sit and talk about life and what we need prayer for. We even have a journal that we each took turns writing in. It was an awesome outlet for each of us individually as well as a good tool to use to encourage the other. I am super stoked to continue being prayerful and developing these relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ as we begin our journey into the next academic year.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

This verse was shared with me today by an amazing woman that I am blessed to have as a mentor in my life. The power of prayer is real, and to know that family, friends, mentors, and even others are praying for me is humbling and awe inspiring. I hope you know that you are just as treasured by myself and our Heavenly Father.

What this summer has taught me about my journey and walk with Christ as I continue to develop:

  1. I need to communicate better. Not only with the people around, but with my Heavenly Father as well.  Getting into the Word is amazing and a great thing to continue to do, but as I am starting this academic year, I need to find to engage in deliberate and meaningful prayer.
  2. I need to stop making my own timelines. To preface, I normally go into these timelines with very good intentions: “I’m not going to do my homework until I’ve done my Bible time.” That one is a good one and often doesn’t take much motivation for me to accomplish that; however, when I make timelines like: “I’m not going to do fill in the blank for six months or until next semester or…” that’s when I start to take a little too much of the reigns from God. For example, maybe it is something as simple as eating chocolate or something as specific as engaging in a romantic relationship. Cutting out chocolate and spending time as a single woman are both healthy things to do, but when I put these stipulations on how I handle them, I am not only striving for an end point instead of using it as a journey, I am closing myself off to building something beautiful that God is working into my life in fear of not reaching my end point. By next semester am I magically going to be oh so wise and understanding of the world? Probably not. Instead of placing my own timeline on God, I need to give to him my struggles and temptations and trust that he will bring me to the right person at the right time and that he will bless that relationship as it blossoms (and that he will give me a craving for chocolate a little instead of a lot).
  3. He’s got this. God will not give me more than I can handle. An example of this in my life: in the second week of school, I was considering dropping one of my courses that was an extra class unnecessary for my major or even graduation. I even went so far as to talk to my teacher and let him know that I was not planning on staying in the course because I didn’t want to be too overwhelmed by everything else I was taking on (my other classes, a research project, clubs, etc.). Literally minutes after that conversation I was approached by the Assistant Director of the program this class is run by and was told how glad he was that I was in this program and how he looked forward to how I was going to help the program. In my head I was thinking, “oh my gosh… God what are you doing? I don’t know if I can handle all that is on my plate right now…” And as I am sitting in that class, thinking that it will be my last time attending, my instructor hands all of us in the class back our quizzes from week one, telling us that the second one went better than the first. I KNOW that I shouldn’t test God, but in my head I told myself, “If I got a C or lower on one of these quizzes, it is a sign that I should drop the course.” Needless to say, I did not get a C on either of them and did even better than I expected. That was the moment I knew that I just needed to trust God and see where this would lead me, BUT it should have never gotten to the point of me testing God. I need to just have faith in every situation because I know my heavenly Father would not put me in a situation where he was not shaping me, molding me, or crafting me to be a better Kingdom Worker.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I pray that you are encouraged (or at least a little entertained) by the words the Lord has called me to write. Blessings to you my brothers and sisters!

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

As we prepare to begin a new school year, I just ask that Your peace would fill our minds and hearts. Let us be open to new ideas, perspectives, and truths that You have to speak to us. Grant us the wisdom to know how to most effectively spend our time so that we might be able to spread Your love to those around us while also having the focus to complete other tasks for classes, teams, and so on. I pray that each person praying this prayer would fully accept the love that you have for us and the grace to given to each and every one of us through death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lord, right now I pray for the words that have been written. I ask that you bless this blog, past blogs, and any future blogs that I am called to write. Let the words that bring you honor and glory be noticed and remembered, let everything else be forgotten and disregarded. I ask that as I continue to follow this calling to write, that You would give me the words to say and the courage to be bold in a world that is full of negativity and sin. I ask that You would show me how to use my personal struggles, failures, and sins to connect to and encourage others who might be going through the same things or may be able to learn from them before they ever have to experience them. Give me the courage to be honest in these posts, so that I may not be seen as a hypocrite to the world but as a true sinner who has repented and will continue to struggle until the day I meet Christ.

Oh God, I thank you again for Your grace and Your Son. I thank you for each person reading this now, and I ask that you bless and give peace and joy to each one of them. Soften our hearts to the lessons You are teaching us and the path which You are guiding each of us along. Give us the strength to resist temptation and focus on Your love. Thank you for a life in which we are not shackled to our sin any longer!

In Jesus’s holy name, Amen.

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