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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Never Walk Away--An original song...audio and lyrics




Click to play song (if you dare) as you scroll down through the lyrics:

This skin I’m covered in
Is such a frail reminder
As life’s waves come crashing in
I get tossed and turned aside.
But the bruises tell a story
Of a heart close to broken
Would the pain be enough for you to stay?
Or would you turn and walk away?

What if all you see in me,
Is only but the surface?
What if all I aim to be,
Is nothing but a sham?
There’s nothing left to see,
But a heart burned to ashes
Would the show be enough for you to stay?
Or would you turn and walk away?

I’ve never felt so low,
So torn apart now,
A lost sheep is me,
Where is my Shepherd?
I hear You call my name,
Rescued in my weakest,
Would Your grace be enough for You to stay?
Yes, You’ll never walk away.

Now I rest in Your arms,
Safe in my Refuge.
Joy flows through my heart,
You have made me complete,
So I yearn to know You more,
Seek Your goodness,
I pray my faith grows and never strays,
For You’ll never walk away.
No, You’ll never walk away.

Lyrics written and sung (awfully) by Joy Chambers

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Story, for God's Glory

I had the great privilege of growing up in a Christian home in the depths of deep south Texas.  Both my parents were very active in our church and I was plugged in to many of the activities going on there.  At seven, I went to a Vacation Bible School and the bible lesson was about how because of our sin, we are separated from God and can't go to heaven, but because of God's love, He sent Jesus to take the punishment of our sin because we couldn't pay it ourselves.  It was by Jesus' blood and only by His blood that we could have our sins forgiven. I can remember being convicted about the wrong I had done and being terrified of the fact that without Christ we would go to hell so in a terrified state, I talked with my aunt who was the Bible teacher that week about how to trust Christ as my Savior.


I guess I didn’t really struggle with assurance of my salvation, because I can remember the next day, I got in a fight with my next door neighbor and he threatened to go get his pocket knife and I said I wasn’t scared to die because I knew I was going to Heaven.  That being said, when he took off for his room, I took off over the fence to the safety of my own home until things cooled down some.  Don’t you worry though; me and my buddy across the fence were friends well beyond this occurrence. 


Through my elementary, middle and high school years, I would say I wore a variety of masks.  The situation I was in dictated how I was allowed to act.  At church I was the good little girl.  At home my sole goal was to make my parents proud.  At school, I wanted to be cool but not in a way that would get me in serious trouble….just cool enough to stay under most people’s radar.  I didn’t get in too much trouble publicly but God knows how much shame and sin was manifested in my life during those years.


At 16, my mom very suddenly passed away.  I was in shock but I wore the cool, calm and collected mask those days.  I tried to be strong and fight on even though inwardly, I was slipping into a death spiral.  My mother’s death left a huge void in my life and I tried many things to try to fill that hole but none were suffice.


At nearly 18 years old and in the last few months of my senior year, an opportunity was presented to me to attend a Spring Camp that my church had been doing for years.  Growing up, I knew about the camp but I was too much of a momma’s girl to go without her but now, almost 18 years old, I went.  My counselor was a 19 year old young woman from northern Maine.  She grew up with a Child Evangelism Fellowship® background and used her years of training to reach out to me even though I can imagine how closed and walled off I was at the time. 


Through the many people involved in that week of camp, God made me realize that back when I was seven, I may have received my ticket to Heaven, but I didn’t let the Holy Spirit that resided in me have any control or much impact in my own life.  All along, God was trying to fill that hole in my heart from within but I was looking elsewhere to things that can never fully satisfy.  It was then, that I’d say I made my faith my own and my real walk with Christ began.


After graduating from high school (2005), I attended a four year university in which I earned a Bachelor’s degree for Social Studies Composite and was certified to teach Social Studies in Texas (2009).  Meanwhile, during these four years, I became more active in my church and in student ministry groups on campus.  I also began working summers with CEF® of Maine in 2007. 


After college, God led me to spend a year at a Bible institute in New Brunswick, Canada.  It was in this year that God clarified the call He has on my life.  I knew I wanted to teach and I loved my year student teaching but as I reflected, the impact I was able to have on my student’s lives was very low.  Yay, they all passed their state standardized test with flying colors but what was that going to matter in 10 to 20 years?  Absolutely nothing.  They went through so much in their lives from depression to drugs to thoughts of suicide and because I was in a public/charter school setting, my hands were tied as to how much I could share.  I could pray certainly but I could not offer them true hope.  So after my year in Bible school, I was introduced to the idea of being able to teach at a private Christian school, where I could teach history but infuse it with His Story throughout the year, and pray openly, speak honestly and pour in to my students as God allowed.


It took a year of waiting and learning while God kept me in the valley to teach me, mold me, shape me and heal me of much of the past in order to prepare me to leave my home in Texas with minimal emotionally damaged strings attached.  By January of 2011, a guy I went to school with in Canada was contacting me on facebook about a Christian school he was working at in New Hampshire with his family and asked if I’d be interested in teaching there.


In a way only God could orchestrate, I moved to New Hampshire in May of 2011 where I have been wearing many academic/athletic/club hats.  I will be beginning my fourth year teaching here soon and I am looking forward to a new year.  The school has steadily grown in attendance since I arrived and God has blessed and worked in tremendous ways here.  Though to the world at large, what I do might not be called a missionary, for right now, this is my mission field and I love it.


To be honest though, I can’t give you a really clear picture of what I see for myself in 10, 5 or even next year.  I feel like life is in transition and I can’t explain all that means but I am trying to be ready to follow as He leads, wherever that may be.  What I would like to see in the time to come is that my walk and faith in Christ grows stronger, that my heart and eyes become more in tuned to His and that He continues to mold and shape my life into a vessel for His continued use. 


What’s your story?  Any questions about mine?

Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy

Shout out to  Beka at Sunshine to the Square Inch as I was inspired to write this post after she shared her testimony on her blog. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

She's a Good Guy

This past week while serving at camp, a conversation topic that came up often enough was how someone would describe me.  It all started last Saturday night at dinner, when a group of us staffers were sitting at a table and one of the male staffers who I hadn’t ever really talked to said, “Joy, I know I don’t really know you but from all I’ve heard about you, I want to ask you a question to prove if my assumption about you is true.”  Well, that sounds like a set up but the question was simple….had I ever watched Monty Python, to which I had so therefore his assumption was correct in inferring that I had a sense of humor.  This dinner time conversation only got funnier as time went on but that’s another story for another day.

This whole conversation though, got me spiraled in a self absorbed mission to find out how people would describe me to another person.  It was a rather vain thing to do now that I look back at it but I don’t think I quite understood the pride behind my motives until another unforgettable conversation went down.

This time, I was standing in a field talking with a male staffers mother.  I won’t recap the whole conversation, but at one point when talking about her son she said “He’s a good guy” to which I sarcastically remarked, “You would say that.”  She then replied, “Well, if someone asked me, I’d say the same thing about you” to which I even more sarcastically remarked, “oh yeah?  I’m a good guy?” 

The whole conversation makes me smile every time I think about it but it also makes me think.  Looking back now at my many self-describing questions, I can see that I was seeking others approval, or, if you will, “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

At the end of the day, I still don’t really know who I am.  If I was asked to describe myself, I’d say I’m pretty quiet and chill generally but can get really talkative, hyper and loud when I’m with the right (and generally small) crowd.  So who am I, at the heart….a quiet introvert or an extrovert in hiding?  I could give so many descriptions that would seem to summarize me but would also be highly contradictory to each other, so I guess I just need to go with the flow and let other people’s opinions of me go. 



I  need to find freedom from the bondage of being enslaved to other people’s views of me but I also need to embrace the freedom of who I am in Christ and claim His perspective of me.  Yes, I’m still broken and yes I still mess up, but in His eyes I am forgiven and set free.  By His blood, I have been redeemed, pardoned, loved, adopted, and made whole.  By His grace, I can walk through this life with the help of His Holy Spirit to live in such a way that I will have less regrets and more confidence to just be who He has created me to be.  I’m not always confident in all of who I am but hello there, this is me.


Until next time,
In Christ,
Joy

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What About Bob?

This year at CYIA, I finally had a date for the banquet, which is basically a dress up dinner occasion just before the final service of the week.  My date’s name was Bob and before anyone gets all worked up about it, Bob was a ball of aluminum foil. 

He wasn’t always just a ball of foil though.  Last year Bob asked me to banquet but Bob was only a figment of my dear friend’s imagination.  This year, I told her that I’d only go with Bob if he came in shiny armor.  Well, Bob arrived on the scene Wednesday, as a soccer ball covered in aluminum foil with a marked on smile and official name tag.  He was really the talk of the dining hall for a while. 

But alas, that didn’t last long.  Before the heavenly feast, Bob was deflated back to just a crumbled up ball.  The ball's donor needed his soccer ball back so all I was left with was his armor.  After my date was deflated, I sat on the pavement for a long time and stared at this crumbled up shiny ball and I couldn't help but see me.



I have always wanted to be the good kid even though I knew when I could act like a bad one.  I was called teacher’s pet at school, goody two shoes at church and I did actually do my very best not to get in too much trouble at home and disappoint my parents.  I have always wanted to be the role model type…someone others can look up to.   And that said, it’s not exactly a bad thing to strive for, so don’t get me wrong.  I’m not one to try to take grace for granted (Romans 6:1).

But in order to be more of a role model, I began manufacturing works.  Now please know, there is no good in me and anything I have done right is solely by God’s power, strength, might and patience, but I really tried stealing the show.  Though good may have been produced, my motivation was sour and I was trying to do it on my own.

Rather than being a tree producing fruit because I’m rooted in the Source (John 15), I was instead attempting to hang up apple shaped ornaments on my tree screaming, “look at me!”  Like Bob, I looked shiny on the outside, but inside I was empty, full of hot air, and rather dull. 

Working with teens for a living, I wonder if this trend that has manifested in my life is something I force on them too:  that as long as you look good, say the right things, and know the right stuff, then everything is going to be ok...that you can “fake it til you make it” and all that matters is that others think highly of you.

But what if that leads to Bob’s fate…..that when it comes time for the final Banquet, all that is left is a heap of shiny works but no soul to be found?

Until next time,
In Christ,

Joy

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Joy’s Mid-Year Review

We are six months into 2014 and I always enjoy looking back….I think it’s a sweet trip down memory lane, a time to reflect on how thing have changed and a good reminder that hardly anything ever remains the same.  These last six months have been trying, but before I go pulling the “hardest time of my life” card, I need to reflect even further back and remember that I tend to suffer from short term memory, and forget all that was before and focus instead on “what good have you done for me lately?” type logic.  But for the purpose of this note, I will try to focus in solely on the last six months.

January- I was able to start off my year in Maine after spending Christmas vacation with a number of friends.  Maine really is a second home to me and I am thankful to live close enough to drive these days.  School resumed.

February- A complicated month.  I finally got keys to my very own and very first apartment which was exciting but it also meant leaving the house of a near and dear family that was walking through the journey of cancer.  She has surgery the day before I moved out.  I remember having so many vivid conversations with God questioning His timing….I finally got what I had been praying for so long but it meant leaving a family I loved at a hard time.

March- This month can almost be divided straight in half. 

The first half had many crazy busy but fun upsides.  My Student Leaders group was in charge of coordinating the Spirit Days at school and that went remarkably well.  This included a Staff/Parents vs. Student basketball game and a mess of school-wide games on Friday afternoon.  A highlight was on Friday, classes were challenged to come up with a cheer or song and the high schoolers came up with one dedicated to our school’s Director.  The students got a kick out of it but I know Adam, the director was equally blessed.

The second half started abruptly after this.  On Saturday morning, March 15, a tragic accident happened involving Adam and a tree branch occurred.  The rest of this month was spent praying for miracles and pulling together a community that had never been as united.

April-More praying and more uniting of the Christian and school community.  Towards the end of the month, Sidewalk Prophets came to town with City Harbor and About a Mile in a concert to benefit the school.   All three of the bands were aware of Adam’s accident and made mention of him personally and even did a sweet video and signed autographs for him.  God’s people brought together again.

May-A train wreck of a month with so much going on.  My last living grandparent passed away at the beginning of the month.  Mother’s Day is always a mixed bag of feeling blessed and feeling depressed.  My birthday was mixed in there but my birthday feels no longer like a big deal.  School was in wrap up and cover as much as you can mode.  Teacher and students are certainly on two different planes at this point…teachers are in a rush to cover as much as possible and push to the end….students are on a downward spiral of “are we done yet?”  Almost there…

June- School concluded with a splendid graduation ceremony celebrating our six graduate’s accomplishments.  I had some time to breathe before my last great adventure of this half year.
For the 6th time, I was able to join in on the ministry of CEF® and attend their Christian Youth in Action® training school.  This year was especially fun in the crew of old friends brought back together for these ten days.  It was fun to reconnect and serve alongside one another.  Unfortunately, while physically present there, I was blessed but very tired.  I was pretty moody, I’d say and I am sure those who were there would probably agree.  I loved being there but I was on the fringes of burn out so I am glad I was able to return home after and reflect.  As I look back on CYIA, I am actually stoked I was able to be a part of it and see all God did in those ten days in the lives of the teens, the staff, and the many people we were privileged to share with through the time be it during open air, literature distribution, or 4 Day Clubs. 

As an update, Adam is currently at a rehab hospital and making gains there, slowly but surely.  God has used this accident in such tremendous ways and I can only account on the things I have personally seen and heard…I can only imagine the greater impact that God is using this with that I don’t even know about. 

As a further side note, I started running/walking back in November after being challenged by a friend, and I have somewhat continued that journey this year, with June (over 40) being the most consistent month for sure.  But in the first six months, I have ran and/or walked over 78 miles….I realize I have friends that have ran over that in a 24 hour period, but for me, baby steps are still fun to celebrate. 

So in short-ish, those are my first six months.  It’ll be interesting to see what lies ahead in the year 2014.  What are the high/low lights of the last six months for you?

Until next time,
In Christ,

Joy