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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Contemplate the Greatest Gift of All

Once upon a time,
In a city far away.
A baby laid all swaddled,
The only comfort…hay.

In humblest beginnings,
The Savior came to save.
Born of a virgin, Mary,
This was God’s chosen way.

He could have dropped out of Heaven,
He could rule by gavel or sword,
But instead He came as a baby,
This infant is also our Lord.

How gracious our loving Savior,
Who took on our flesh to live. 
For my sin earns a punishment I cannot pay,
But by His blood, He can forgive.

So in this Christmas season,
With every gift you get,
Contemplate the greatest gift of all,
Jesus humble birth and sin-crushing death.

-Joy Lynn Chambers

Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Have you receive this gift by faith and trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior?  If not, I hope you receive it today.  Merry Christmas y’all!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I’m Running Away

I’ve always struggled with balance, putting all my heart and effort in one thing more than all the other things life brings.  Be it my job, a particular friendship, a hobby, or academics, I’ve struggled with balance and the issue of finding purpose from those particular things.  When things were great, life was good.  When things were hard, I was depressed.  All of those things, at one time or another, have been my default mindset (what I was generally thinking about) or my easy conversation topics.  I’m not amazing at small talk, but if you wanted to talk about the thing my heart was passionate about, I could talk for hours and hours.

This time last year, my default topic was my job.  It really is my dream job.  I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and after Bible School, was introduced to the thought of Christian education.  When I did my student teaching, I had 100 students whom I enjoyed muchly, but being a public charter school, opportunities to talk about God were very limited and I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me amongst the staff.  Christian education though, opened a door to pour into students lives both academically and spiritually.  The first two years of teaching were fantastic.  If you talked to me in person, I loved talking about school.  If you followed my facebook status, they were mostly about school.  If you asked me what I did in my free time, I was preparing for school.  School, school, school.  Academically, I thought I was doing fairly well teaching students, and spiritually, I felt I was making connections, pouring in, praying for and seeing growth in my students and the school. 

This year’s school year has not quite been the same.  We’ve experienced tremendous growth.  In the upper grades (7th-12th) for instance, my first year we had 16 students, second year 22, and this year just over 40.  Growing pains and stretching have caused tremendous stress on the capacity of the school building, the attitudes of students and the impact that can be had in smaller settings.  I was a teenager once, so I shouldn’t at all be surprised by some of the fads, conversations, attitudes, and jokes I hear.  I shouldn’t be as broken as I am, over the brokenness of the family unit, respect towards authority, and the state of this world.  I shouldn’t throw in the towel because I know I went through that same path and in the end, things turned out better and I did indeed follow Christ. 

But remember, I left the public schools so I could make an impact for eternity.  I wasn’t as worried about test scores and high grades, as I was about the opportunity to pray with and for my students, point them to Christ and challenge them to live for Him now….not just when they grow up.  The first two years, I thought I was seeing great growth and was always so encouraged by the work God was doing in and around me.  This year, I feel like there is not as much growth.  Not in everyone anyway. ((Of course, there is a handful or so of students that I see growing leaps and bounds through all these circumstances.  I wish I was seeing that growth in me through these circumstances.))    I can still feel the sting of some conversations I’ve had with students about me in particular.  That they laugh on cue, they say all the right things knowing it’s what I want to hear but with no intention at all of doing the right thing, and that all the talk about me being impactful on their lives was a joke.  I know it’s not I that can change hearts.  I know that it has to be God and Him alone to take and mold and shape them.  I know it’s all Him.  But in my effort to make an impact and be purposeful, I’ve been left feeling useless.

So what do I do, when the going gets tough?  I run away.  But this time, it’s a different kind of running.  It’s a literal, physical running on a track, trail or treadmill.  In the month of November alone, I’ve ran/jogged/walked purposefully over 47 miles (hoping to be at 50 before the day is done).  If you have talked to me at all lately, I’m sure you know I’m running.  I’m sure you have heard about my mileage, my training program, and the goals I’ve already conquered through it.  You might have even carried on a conversation with me about how to best run in the winter, clothes to wear, and how running is just not for you, just as I used to say it was not for me.  I have friendships now where literally about the only thing I talk about is running.  I ran for the first time with people on Tuesday and it was the best experience running I’ve ever had because I was in community.  Running is great for health, focus, and goal setting.  But what am I running to?

My all consuming focus has lately been on running.  I read numerous blogs from runners.  When I go to the store, I check out their fitness section and clothing, looking for good base layers and cheap gear.  When I get up in the morning, I make sure my running stuff for the day is ready and in tow to bring to school so I can head out right after the bell rings to get a run in before the sun sets.  When I come home in the evening, I tell of my accomplishments, cough up a quarter of a lung (it used to be the whole thing so I’m making progress), drink water and wait for the water to be warm enough to shower and clean up.  I still plan for school here and there.  I still attend meetings, talk to parents, and laugh with students.  I still eat meals and sleep often enough. I go to game night and fellowship group weekly. 

My life has more diversity this year than it ever has before, which perhaps is not a bad thing.  The only thing that feels like I’m growing and advancing in though, is running.  I have now hit under a 10 minute mile a few times (athletic friends---try not to snicker at that), ran two miles non-stop and did an unofficial 5k with two friends in under 40 minutes.  Those aren’t great numbers for avid runners, but for me, it was once something only dreamed of and now possible. 

But what is the purpose??  Yay, for gaining some self confidence, better health and a potential for weight loss.  But what about for eternity?  Those reasons listed above, are all great for personal growth, but they have no weight in eternity.  God’s not going to ask me how many miles I ran on the last day of my life.  But in His throne room, I know I will reflect on what I did in the “miles” of my life. 

I am questioning if I have made a good thing, like running, an idol in my life.  If I am running just for the friends, just for the goal achievements, and just for the self satisfaction it brings, then, no matter how far I go, I won’t leave any footprints as a mark of where I’ve been or what I’ve done.  Maybe I’ve made running into a defense mechanism.  Now that I do it and immersed in it, I can talk about that instead of having to talk about deeper things.  I can talk with a smile on my face because at least I have one thing going for me, and it is something that is commendable in most people’s eyes.  You won’t find many people disappointed in someone for running.  Running brings people giving encouragement to me and being encouraged themselves sometimes.  But what if it’s all a ploy?  An evil scheme to mask reality.  What if it’s an idol, giving me false worth, when worth, value and joy can only be truly found in Christ?  What if all I am running to is self centeredness and pride?  So far, that is the fruit I am seeing, and I don’t like it, but I’m not sure what to do.  What if running isn’t the root?  What if it’s just the means that is being used to tangle me up and keep me down?  Maybe the root is my focus, and it not being on Christ and what He can and will do.  Maybe I need to cling to the potential of my students and the work being done at my school and not find my value in the product.  Maybe I should find myself on my knees more often, in pure exhaustion of the spiritual battle faced every day and let Him fight it for me.  Maybe it’s not the running that’s a bad thing, but what I am running to that I need to decide.

What are you running from? 

Until next time,

In Christ,

Joy Lynn

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Power of Self-Talk ((November 2, 2013))

At the beginning of October, I had the privilege of taking part in a school wide fundraiser called the CCA Jog-a-thon.  It raises money for the schools Scholarship Fund and is vital to our schools health and success as many students would not be able to attend without some help from Scholarships.  This year, the school raised over $7,500 which is phenomenal and a blessing in itself! 

I never thought the Jog-a-thon would continue to haunt me a month later though.  To back track, the week before the Jog-a-thon, I was challenged by a potential sponsor and good friend to do at least 16 laps (4 miles) in the hour allotted.  My friend is an ultrarunner (two 50-mile races under her belt already) and I…..well, I am NOT.  I walk at a 16 minute mile pace, so once I accepted this challenge, I quickly realized it was not going to be a simple walk in the park.  But accepted it I did, and I actually walked/jogged 19 laps in the time period given.  Yay!  Victory!  So glad that is over and won’t have to do that again for another year!

If only that was the end though…  Since then, I have taken on a new challenge (I love friends who point me forward and push me onward in life…spiritually and otherwise) and have been “training” using a Couch to 5K type program.  I have a great encourager and trainer holding me accountable, and once this is posted, a host of mass accountability.  I am not up to running very far non-stop yet, but I’m sure it’ll come with time.  I’m not at all convinced that I’ll be anything like my ultrarunning friends but that’s ok too.  This is a challenge and I secretly love me a good out-of-my-comfort-zone-but-not-totally-out-of-reach challenge.
I’m not sure if everyone who trains for running is like this but for me this is how it works…  I have a set routine about how long I will walk and run, and then walk, run, etc.  I go by either distance or time.   I have heard several people say they love running long distances because it gives them time and space to clear their minds.  For me though, at least in this training program, there is no clearing of mind or even deep inner thinking.  It’s complete focus on goals.  I am fueled by self talk.  I set off for a jog, feeling strong at first, but over the next bit, slowly lose steam and my brain takes over…

“only two laps….only 2 more minutes….1 and a half…..200 meters to go……30 seconds, you can do it…..push, push….ah, time to walk again…..alright, 8:30 mark on my watch is when I have to begin jogging again…..10 more seconds…and we’re off….”

I am CONSTANTLY talking to myself as I work out.  But having a goal in mind, seeing it just ahead and cheering myself on has helped me make most of my goals so far, day by day, quarter mile by quarter mile. 

But this all got me thinking on self talk.  As I mentioned before, I have a great trainer and encourager in my friend, Leah.  She cheers me on every step of the way, even when sometimes I shush her and accuse her of lying in her encouragement.  And sometimes, I am my own worst enemy, especially when I am not running.  If I am not actively engaged in working out, it is very easy for me to discount myself and my value/ability to be an athlete.  But in the midst of a workout, I am my own biggest cheer leader, pushing on and pushing through to hit my goals and not give up on myself. 

Self Talk is powerful.  Positive self talk can get you through the hardest of days, the longest of runs, and the never-ending battle with lies.  Positive talk, in general, can be greatly beneficial but also easily discounted.  I know for a fact, that I would be quick to remind my friends that they are beautiful inside and out.  That they were made in God’s image, made for a purpose, and loved immeasurably.  I could even give Scripture to back up each of those compliments.  But, if someone said that to me, I’d be just as quick to laugh it off, shush it up, and push it away.  “Yes, you are beautiful, but me….I’m a piece of work, I tell ya.”  I know the Truth and am willing to share it and even sometimes push it on others, but I, myself, don’t buy into it. 


This is where self-talk comes in.  That Truth that I know in my head….has it traveled those 12 inches down to my heart and really resonated there?  Am I simply aware of God’s presence in my life or am I abiding in Him, and He in I?  Am I careful which filter I am straining my thoughts through daily… I using the world-culture filter or God’s Word as a filter?  And am I owning that Truth?  I am learning I need to own Truth and then speak it to myself, daily. 

I am beautiful. (Psalm 139:14)
I am made in His image.  (Genesis 1:27)
He is not done with me yet. (Philippians 1:6)
He is good. (Psalm 136:1 and 100:5)
I may fail but He still loves. (1 John 2:1-2; Romans 8:1)
He is here. (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28: 20; Hebrews 13:5-6)
He is mine. (Psalm 54:4)
I am His. (John 1:12)

What self-talk is going through your mind these days?  God’s Truth or the world’s lies?  Am I alone in this mental/emotional/spiritual battle?  I’d love to hear any stories you'd have to share or tips to offer.

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My.....But You

Dear Heavenly Father,

My brain is so full,

My heart so heavy,

My body so tired,

My will, stretched thin.

But You (God) are my Rescue,

My Comfort and Refuge,

I run to Your arms now,

Revive me within.


-Joy Lynn Chambers

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Are you just a mist or will your presence for the Lord be missed?

Psalm 39: 4-7 reads:

Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.
And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.”


Vapor and Dust

Life is just a dash

Carved out in a stone.

You only live once, they say,

And every man dies alone.

I am a vapor,

Just dust in the wind,

Here for a moment

And gone again.

What will I live for?

How much will I give?

Who am I representing?

Is it for Christ that I live?

I only have this moment,

I can’t take back the past.

Lord, help me abide in You today,

For only what’s done for You will last.

Until next time,

In Christ,

Joy Chambers

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Teaching is Entertaining

So believe it or not, my job as a teacher is quite entertaining. As a diagnostic for my U.S. History class, I gave my students a selection of questions from the U.S. Citizenship Test. Here were some of the most memorable wrong/funny answers.

Q: “What is the supreme law of the land?” (Constitution)
Students Answer: “YOLO”= You Only Live Once

Q: “Who was the first President?”
A: “George Bush.”

Q: “What is the capital of your state?”
A: “Claremont.”

Q: “What is the supreme law of the land?”
A: “Live free or die.”

Q: “Name one state that borders Canada.”
A: “Minnesota, don’t ya know?”

Q: “Where is the Statue of Liberty?”
A: Easter Island.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back to school time

The 2013-2014 school year is now underway for many of us. For me, I am beginning my third year at the Christian school I am blessed to work for. This year, there are a total of 38 students in grades 7-12th (approximately 70 students total in the school) whom I work with and I am teaching U.S. History (11/12), Algebra 1, Algebra 2, 8th grade Math and PE/Service Learning.

School spirit days 2012: Summer fun= Camp Good News, hence the Peeper attatched to my hat.

The first week went well and I'm really digging the group that has come together this year between the students and staff. Enjoying reuniting in mission with the returning staff while also incorporating a great group of new teachers in the bunch. There are more male staff this year (doubling from 2 to 4) which I think is a great blessing in any school, but especially in the upper grades where I really want my male students to have strong men of God to look up to and to pour into them.

As much as I love my job, every year has taught me more and more how much I need to lean on God and trust His understanding and His work in my students lives. This year especially, I hope to incorporate some of the lessons God was really working in my life this summer, especially in giving and showing His grace to my students and co-workers. I want His vision and not my own. I want to care and focus more on the heart than on the actions. And I want to daily lift my day, my job, my students and myself up to God in prayer and seek to follow His lead.

The poem/prayer below is one I wrote September 30, 2012 but is a good reminder on where I want to start this school year.

A Teacher's Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You, firstly, for being my Teacher,
Being a perfect example of the grace and patience one will need,
To feed Your children with knowledge,
While disciplining to keep the peace.
I do not do my job perfectly,
But every day I pray I’ll be,
A good example to my students,
Of a life consecrated to Thee.
I laugh, I cry, I get frustrated too,
Lord, I simply don’t know how You do what You do.
How do You feel when a child looks in Your eyes and lies to Your face?
Oh, I imagine I’d feel much disgrace…yet You give more grace.
Help me love these students You have entrusted to me.
Help me to point them to You and remind me to bend the knee…
Because I cannot change their hearts, and I cannot give what they need,
But for Your work in their heart and in mine, I humbly plea.
So for all my teacher friends, I pray you find this prayer as an encouragement.  Whether you work in a Christian, public, private or home school, I pray that this year is a great one with great growth seen, not only in your students but also in you and me.  Have a great year!

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me?

                 The title to this post is a line from a song called “Legacy” by Nicole Nordeman  (lyrics here).  This song along with “Do They See Jesus in Me?” by Joy Williams (lyrics here) are two songs with lyrics that speak to my heart in wanting to live in such a way that people see Jesus touch in my life and be pointed to Him, not only in my life but also in death. 

                There are a few people that I just couldn’t shake out of my head last night as I tried to sleep.  I was thinking of their upstanding testimony and impact on my life be it directly or indirectly. 

                I’ll start with a woman whom I never met but was one of the charter founding members of the church I currently attend.  I attended her funeral this July and was greatly blessed by listening to the testimony of others shared during the celebration of her life and homegoing.  The underlying theme of each testimony was that she was a woman of few words but when she spoke, she spoke wisdom and peace to others.  She ministered in such a way that was life on life discipleship and everyone knew she knew Jesus by her love.  I did not know this woman, but her testimony deeply impacted me.  It reminded me to let me words be few and my prayers be deep.

                The second and third person that came to my mind are my grandparents on my mother’s side.  They both went home to be with the Lord before I even entered middle school and most of my memories are from their years in a nursing home but it’s their life long testimony that I hold on to now.  My grandmother served as a missionary in Bolivia prior to her marriage and continued to minister in the local church and to her family after.  My grandfather was a hard working farmer but he also owned and operated a Christian Book store for a number of years.  The story that always sticks with me about him is that people would come into the store looking for one book, and my grandpa would then suggest five other good books on the topic and give it to them for free.  His job was not for profit but for ministry.  He used his position to share Christ with others, pray and disciple them over the years.  I am ever grateful for the godly heritage I was placed in.

                And the last person that came to mind was my own mother.  It’s been almost ten years but I can remember her funeral like it was just yesterday.  It was a celebration of life and of Hope.  The Gospel was given plain and simple, and many, I believe, came to know Christ that day because they found the hope that my mother lived and thrived in.  I can think of a few of the specific people that shared their memories of mom and I cherish them to this day.  ((If anyone has any specific memories of mom that they want to share with me, let me know because I’d love to keep a journal of them as to not lose them as the years go on)). 

                My mother left a legacy… where I can certainly say that I saw Jesus in her daily.  A woman full of grace and compassion.  A woman that esteemed others more highly than herself.  A bright example of a follower of Christ.  And I hope, that though she is now gone from this earth and in the presence of God, that a bit of Hope continues to live on within me.  Every Christian is firstly a product of grace but many a times, we can trace back the seeds planted and sown over the years.  It makes for a great faith family tree.  I am thankful for those whom have invested in me and I pray that I can continue this reaping and sowing in the years God has entrusted me with.

                So from these four, I have learned some of the building blocks of legacy building.  Follow Christ first so that when others follow you, they know who the real Leader is.  Watch my words…be quick to pray and slow to speak.  Time invested makes all the difference.  Give freely because it’s not yours to begin with.  Be faithful to whatever field God has called you to be it a family, a church, a school, a work place, etc.  Love freely and laugh often.  And as much as you want to leave a testimony, don’t try so hard that it’s manufactured.  May they not see my good deeds but God’s mighty work done in me.    

"Is the face that I see in the mirror
the one I want others to see
Do I show in the way that I walk in my life
The love that You've given to me
My heart's desire is to be like You
In all that I do, all I am"
--“Do they see Jesus in me?” by Joy Williams

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn

Friday, August 9, 2013

26 Year Old Kid

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been complimented on how well I wear my age.  Well, truth be told, they didn’t say it quite like that…it was more like, “how old are you? 26, really?  I thought more like 16….”  Only adding confusion to the chaos, I work with teens for a loving, so I surround myself with them, whether it’s talking around a meal or playing soccer out on break. 

Most find it hard to believe, at first meeting, that I not only have graduated from high school, but got my Bachelors in four years, took a year of Bible school, took a year off to substitute teach and now am starting in on my third year as a high school teacher.  I wear my age well, I suppose.

But what if I am not such the “adult” that I so want to be seen as.  Maybe they are looking beyond the appearance and my affinity for modest t-shirts and shorts and seeing the real me.  And when they see me, they still just see a 26 year old kid.  Maybe they are right.  I so often still feel like a kid.  I am currently in what is becoming the most confusing stage of my life. 

I live 2,000 miles from home, have a job, pay my own bills (cell phone, car related stuff), and live within my own income (with the help of many blessings from God in His provision).  I’m a saver, not a spender.  I think things through and tackle possible problems before they get out of hand.  I have dreams and aspirations and when I have time, I put them into action.  I want to see my students succeed, my school succeed and lives be changed for the glory of God.  Have I proven myself adult yet???

But what about at the heart….the part of me that only I can see.  Right here, within me, I still feel like a very lost and broken 16 year old.  I don’t always feel it, but it’s very real and very near.  Almost 10 years ago, I lost my mother suddenly, and my world has never been the same since.  The longing I feel now has taken on many forms, levels and periods throughout these ten years but the void is still there. 

For 10 years, I’ve been fearfully afraid of growing up because mom wouldn’t see me.  See me graduating from high school, college, bible school….meet my wonderful students and their families.  I’ve never lived fully on my own and I couldn’t imagine doing so without having a mom to call back home and ask for help when the pot of water is overflowing or I burnt the rice again (is there an easy way to clean burnt on rice anyway??)  I’ve never been in a relationship and I can’t imagine not having mom to share my heart with, and to approve of him, and go wedding dress shopping  with and to be brimming with pride in the front row seat at my wedding.  When big events happen like the Boston bombing or Sandy Hook, I can imagine having long discussions with her about all the details and ramifications because she totally immersed herself in stuff like that.  I couldn’t imagine ever exploring Washington, D.C. without her, as it was both of our dream vacations.

And yet….life goes on.  The biggest proof of this is my dad recently getting remarried.  I thought I was doing pretty well with this grieving and processing thing concerning my mom…this is, until last year.  2012 was blow after blow of my security blankets.  The three best relationships I had going all changed with weddings and it’s not like I lost those relationships.  The dynamics changed though….well, for them that is.  Nothing changed for me.  Still lonely ole Joy here. 

I’m not saying that I am looking for a man to sweep me off my feet.  I’m totally not.  And if he tried, I’d probably bop his head with a hammer at this point.  I’m not ready for that.  I’m not even sure I’m ready to be an adult.  I’m just a 26 year old kid that wants her mommy. 

Joy Lynn

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Walking in Grace

Let’s get the straight….I’m not a prankster.  I don’t go out of my way to pull them on people and I probably am a poor sport in being pranked as well.  I’m *not* a prankster!

But…this one time, it just happened.  I wasn’t scheming or thinking evil of my dear friend.  I just let an opportunity go too far and it nearly cost me a friendship and several girls’ dry beds.  So here’s how it went down…

A few weeks ago, I was serving at camp and was the cabin supervisor in a cabin that was attached to another cabin via a bathroom.  My cabin had just finished devotions and had turned off our lights trying to settle down for the night.  Meanwhile, I can hear the sister cabin still talking so I get out of my bed with the thought of just going over to the other cabin and sassing them for being so loud when lights were supposed to be out. 

To my surprise, as I walked across the bathroom, I could tell that the sister cabins lights were indeed out but they were just talking and trying to wind down.  So I slowly opened that cabins door about to speak, but someone was talking about resetting the alarm clock.  At that very moment, the cabin supervisor of this sister cabin, whom I shall call J, got up from her bed to go set the alarm for the next morning.  In the mean time, I walked in the room, let the door close behind me, and sat down in J’s bed.  The girls in the cabin continued to talk and go about as if they didn’t notice me in the room, which I couldn’t believe.  I didn’t try to hide.  I could see them clearly with my eyes already being adjusted to the dark, so I figured they could see me too.  Well, I was wrong….

So J trekked across the room to reset the alarm and I sat calmly on her bed not saying a word.  As she came back to her bed, I watched her, not saying a thing, just to see what would happen.  She came alongside, paused, slowly put her hands out to touch my shoulder, likely thinking her comforter blanket was awful high off the bed.  She pushed my shoulder soft the first time trying to inspect what it was and then shoved it harder and screamed.  In the meantime, now the whole cabin is screaming (nearly peeing their pants, I’m sure), I’m totally cracking up laughing, and J is on the floor curled up in a ball, still screaming.  Girls all over are screaming for someone to turn on the light, not knowing what has been in the cabin that has their leader so scared, and I stealthily sneak back out the restroom.

Little did I know, when I went over to my cabin right after this incident, I look at my bed and three (yes, THREE) of my girls are curled up in my bed trying to scare me.  They didn’t know what just happened and I certainly did not plan for what just happened and yet here they are taking after their leader.  I kick them out of my bed back to theirs and then head back to the other cabin to apologize.  Before I could even leave my cabin though, two of J’s girls attacked me with pillows….not playing around attack but like, pay back.  I deserved that…fair enough.  I walk over and J’s still curled up in a ball.  :-(  I really messed up this time.  I apologized profusely and told the sister cabin girls that the girls in my cabin actually tried doing the same thing to me of sitting in my bed.

One of the girls quickly chimed in, “it’s because you are being a bad example.”  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was supposed to be a leader, someone they could look up to, someone to follow the lead from and I just nearly killed one of my friends in a fit of overwhelming fear.  ((I would soon know the fear I put her through with the thought of someone being in my living place without my knowledge…read blog here if you’d like)).  I not only really scared a friend and made it extremely hard for any of the girls in her cabin to get a good night sleep that night but I also was a terrible example to both the girls in my cabin as well as the other ones.

The next day was a wreck for me personally.  I don’t like failing, especially in ministry.  I continued to apologize to J.  I apologized to her whole cabin and sought their forgiveness.  I apologized to my cabin for the terrible example that I was for them.  I asked for forgiveness from God but for a whole day, I could not forgive myself. 

I walked in shame all day.  How could you?  You should have been the leader……… you should have known better………… you caused nightmares…………. What if one of those girls did lose her bladder from laughing or screaming? ………you’d be over and all ministries null and void…..

I dug a pit deep and wide and buried myself in it.  My poor cabin…my poor small group….I was a wreck that whole day and I’m sure everyone knew it.  And all for what???  What did my guilt profit me?  I could not go back and change a thing about what I had done. 

I had to choose if I was going to continue to walk in shame, or if I would walk in grace.  Walk in the grace and forgiveness of my God and Savior.  Walk in the grace shown to me through my friend J in her quick forgiveness.  Walk in the grace of knowing that my girls were following God and Christ was their example -- not me.  Walking in the grace that I wasn’t and I can’t be perfect.  I will mess up.  And though this wasn’t a sin issue necessarily, I do sin and I do mess up, but God’s grace is sufficient and His payment paid in full.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying to take God’s grace for granted.  Romans 6:1-2 say “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  By no means!  How can we, who died to sin, still live in it?”  I don’t want to continue to walk in sin and I DO want to be a good example to those around me.

But sometimes, a good example is showing our faults.  My pride often wants me to appear flawless but my flesh does not allow me to keep that look for long or at least not honestly.  So I can either try to paint on the mask continually and present a very fake and unattainable “Christian life” to the teens that I work with, or I can walk in His grace showing that hey……….it’s not easy….I’m not perfect………..I fail and mess up……..even today……. And you will too.  You’ll mess up.  And that’s ok.  His grace is sufficient for that too. 

I hope to seek to walk in His grace knowing the grace He has shown me in all things and hope to extend that grace to others too rather than judging or pushing them to be better/perfect.  My life long effort of being the best only led to a prideful mess.  I don’t want myself or those I work with to be carbon copies or molded idols or Sunday school answers or goodie two shoes.  I want them to be real, knowing that this walk to which we were called is not an easy one.  We will struggle and we will face persecution.  I paint a misconstrued picture when I lose the transparency and give the pat answers and pharisitical religiosity.  

I’m not your typical prankster but I am certainly not perfect.  God’s not done with me yet.   Want to take a walk of grace with me?

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy Lynn

Sunday, August 4, 2013

July---A summer update


This probably won’t be too in depth or detailed but I did want to write a little just to catch you up on the reason for my elongated absence from writing.  The desire to write is there but the time and motivation haven’t been on the same page so maybe later…

But, let’s see….a quick rundown of life this last month. 

I’ve been to two funerals and one renewal of vows.  The first event was a funeral of a local woman who actually played a major part in starting the church I currently attend.  I never met the woman, but I knew she was a strong pillar of faith and wanted to honor that.  I was greatly refreshed by the testimony shared among those she personally touched and I think the biggest take away I had was that it’s not the words you say, or those quotable quotes that people will remember, but the time you spent and the love that you poured in over the years that makes all the difference.  The woman clearly loved Christ and shined brightly as a beacon for Him throughout her life. 

The second funeral took me out to Ohio unexpectedly to attend the ceremony for my uncle.  It was not the circumstances that I would have desired for a trip to Ohio, but it was a blessing to see and spend time with many members of the family, including my father.  I hadn’t seen dad since Thanksgiving and not sure when I’ll see him again, so it was nice to catch up some.  It was also a tremendous blessing to spend days with my Grandpa/Uncles/Aunts/Cousins.  We don’t come together often enough as a family in one location, so it was nice to have that time.

The third of those said events was a special blessing, being able to watch my precious friend, Anna, renew and speak her vows with her husband, children, and extended church family present.  Anna and her family have since moved down to North Carolina and are getting acclimated there, but I am glad to have been a witness to the beginning of a new chapter in her life.  God has done great things in you, my friend!  Keep on, keeping on!

If anyone is keeping up, specifically on my Facebook page, you’d know I am one to travel a lot.  I decided that this summer, I would try an experiment and “live alone” on my own for the summer to get acclimated with the single life, but to be honest, I’ve only had almost two weeks at my actual house alone since the summer has begun.  To be technical, I’ve spent more time in Maine than I have in New Hampshire since June 18th.  22 days in Maine, 21 days in New Hampshire (6 being outside of my “house” when I was house sitting for friends and two of those days being at SoulFest for the entire day so let’s call it 13 days at the house literally), and 4 days in Ohio. 

Allison and I at SoulFest 2013. Notice the Mainer wearing a hoodie and the Texan rocking the no sleaves.....I was totally built for New England.

So that brings me to Maine…oh, how I LOVE Maine.  I think Maine is my hearts home.  After being acclimated and laying roots there for six years, I’ve made connections that have endured all six of those years, and many that have come along the way.  I have families there that have adopted me in and I already have a standing and firm invitation to Christmas 2013 with one of those families that is dear to me.  For those who don’t know, I served with Camp Good News® of Maine for 4 full summers (2007-2010) and this summer, though I can’t commit to full summer ministry anywhere, I was able to volunteer a few weeks there and it blessed my socks off.  I already posted about my 10 days of Christian Youth in Action® (see here) but I went back later in July to work as a counselor and team leader for their Teen Camp.  One of the biggest blessings of Teen Camp was getting to reconnect with an old friend and being able to serve together as well as pray for one another as the week went on.  I hope and am praying that I might have one more week of ministry available there before the summer winds down.   
 Amanda Nkamwesiga and I at CGN's Teen Week.  Amanda and I met years ago at camp and since then had gone off to work for Word of Life, first in the states and now in Uganda.  We hadn't seen each other in years so it was sweet to catch up.  Thanks for being a great prayer warrior for me!

This summer chapter of my life has me learning many lessons, some of which I hope to write about when the time is right.  But I’ll give you a glimpse at my heart and the lesson titles I’d give to what I am learning: Walking in Grace; Identity across borders; Acceptance/Forgiveness; and Legacy Building.  You can ask me specific questions about those titles if you’d like, but I’ll save an elaboration on here for another day. 

In the meantime, this week is set aside for more intensive school year preparation.  First day of school is only three weeks from tomorrow (*gulp*) and I am scheduled to teach Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 again (this will be my third year with these subjects/curriculum) but I will also be teaching new courses to me of 8th grade math and U.S. History (11-12th grade).  Also, though I helped teach Physical Education last year, I am restructuring it in hopes of making a more legitimate program and teaching a Community Service class along with that.  AND, I hope to be involved some with the Soccer program and Basketball program as well as start up a new Student Leadership group that will act as an Honor Society of sorts.  

My school load can feel pretty heavy at times but God is good and I am blessed with the job He has provided and the students I am blessed to teach.

So needless to say, lots on my plate for the new school year…this is why I took the summer off to plan (HA!).  Here’s hoping for a massively productive week ahead!  Wish me luck (or better yet, pray for me!) 

Until next time,

In Christ,

Joy Lynn