everything smells like campfire. and that feels just the way it should be.
sitting under the stars that stretch beyond your view. sunsets that saturate. camp songs. cheers echoing across the hills. cinnamon rolls on saturday morning. inner tubes on the lazy river. worship shaking the dining hall. the creak of the lodge deck swings.
this summer, I wound my way down dusty gravel paths back to the camp that holds my heart. it’s no secret that two years ago was
one of the best summers I have experienced, finally living out my dream of camp counseling.
I slowed down to take in the sign at the entrance, the sight that had always brought screams of excitement as a camper. as I drove up the lane lined with trees, the memories came with such full force and wrapped around so that I felt like I still lived there. like I was returning to counsel once again and resume it all, like time hadn’t shifted and two years passed.
camp brings clarity, simplicity.
it’s always been the place where everything seems to be put in perspective.
where all of life comes full circle.
and of course, I always seem to end up here at the biggest transitions in life.
like the summer where I was learning how to let go of long-held dreams, something I had never really done. while at camp, I was reminded that He is sovereign in my story, that my story belongs to Him and is about what He does in my heart.
like the summer before college, where I was reminded that He is sovereign over my doubts, my uncertainty. as I questioned His presence, eternity, and all that I cannot see or ever fully comprehend, I was reminded that He is still there.
like the summer I camp counseled, where I was consistently shown that He is sovereign and always enough. that He shows up in our greatest weakness and uses our stories beyond what we could hope for.
this summer has been one of transition more than ever before. as I made my way to the prayer gazebo, I was searching for something in this season of uncertainty, that special kind of clarity that always comes at camp.
since day one as a camper the prayer gazebo has been one of my favorite spaces at camp. early mornings in counselor training, it was here I was reminded of the truth that it is all one hundred percent Jesus, in my story & others, weaving them into a far greater + better story.
it’s been two years since I was last in this space. a whole lot of life has happened since then.
cancer & my mom going to be with Jesus.
my entire life changed by its impact. a lot of things falling apart.
senior year + graduation.
pretty much everything becoming uncertain.
it led to a lot of questioning + a loss of direction. I am still feeling the losses. honestly, I still don’t always know how to grieve these losses well.
but sitting here, perspective hit once again. sometimes you have to let out the breath that’s trapped within. exhale and release all you’ve got in a death grip hold.
because this story isn’t yours. yet you get to live it out. so you bring your broken worn out melodies, come with simplicity, bring all of your heart, no more holding back the pain, the grief, the questions. and remember that
S T I L L
He is still the dwelling place.
still the one writing your story.
still He loves me beyond comprehension.
still I don’t understand all He’s doing in my story.
still He’s worth trusting.
still a life spilled out, spent with Jesus, is the only way to truly live.
still the stars are reminders that though things change, the One beyond time and space is the eternal, unchanging One.
still He holds my heart.
still He is so good.
may I just learn to be more still.
to bring it all to Him still.
still He’s changing hearts & lives here, He’s changing my heart, and it was good to be reminded of that.
the theme of still continued that night, as I sat with my head tilted back against the wooden railing, trying to take in all the stars above. the triumphant, celebration, jump-out-of-your-seat-and-dance-for-joy kind of chorus came to mind.
Create in me a clean, clean heart
Create in me a work of art
Create in me a miracle
Something real and something beautiful
You’re not finished with me yet
By Your power I can change, I can change
‘Cause You’re not finished with me yet
Create in Me | Rend Collective (video linked below, image credit to Rend)
He is not finished with me yet. He is still at work. And that is worth all the joy and dancing and soul deep celebration, even in the shadows of this season.
the last night of my brief return to camp, I sat down on wooden benches circling a campfire. eyes red from all I was processing, skin tingling from sunburn and accidentally trying to regain my counselor tan in 48 hours, heart beyond full from the sunset I’d just witnessed and the joy of receiving a staff shirt for the weekend.
and it hit me, not just how much I’ve missed counseling, but just how important that summer was. how all I learned – the community I formed, the deepening that occurred in my faith – carried me through the next year. with all my mom walked through, with how death changed everything and forced me to confront reality.
I had never fully realized how important that summer was and it made my heart even more grateful for camp. and grateful for the continued growth since then. because He’s not finished yet. (and of course, I cried again, because have you really been to camp if you didn’t cry at least once around a campfire?).
the last full circle moment occurred right before I left. the song we sang in the coffeehouse church that morning was, fittingly, the last song we sang in senior chapel at school this year.
I won’t forget the things You’ve done
For I know that this is just the beginning
And You’re not finished yet, You’re not finished yet
Until I see Your promise come
God with all I am, I’ll keep believing
That You’re not finished yet, You’re not finished yet
| The Belonging Co
and so it was evident this weekend that my heart needed to hear one thing. that God was still at work, that He is not finished yet. and that brings hope for the unknown days ahead.
here’s to revisiting the old places to discover deep truths & find new hope for the journey. here’s to summers at camp & the feeling like you belong with each creek walk, camp game, and chapel session. here’s to realizing that He is still just as faithful and present as He was before, and that wherever you are at, He is not finished with you yet.