That's really all that's on my mind right now: wow, God is amazing. Wow, He's given me great friends. Wow, I have so much joy...
Desert Challenge was this weekend, and it was definitely challenging, but in different ways than last year. (DC is a 3-day youth conference for youth in our area. The messages are amazing, worship is really powerful, and this year and last year I strengthened so many relationships - with friends and with God).
Anyway. I guess first I'll tell you what all we did, then I can talk about what God did.
The first day after check-in and orientation we had lunch and chill-out. Various times during chill-out we played signs, mau, Kent, Air Hockey, Uno... Sarah, Vashti and I played around on the piano a few times, just because we missed playing our music. Saturday night was the No-Talent Show, which usually has some really good acts with one or two cheesy No-Talent acts. Cait and I did a dance to the song "Glory to Thee" by Michael Card.
During the Main Session that night, we performed our Candle Dance for everyone... but with it came a bit of learning. All morning we'd been getting frustrated because they hadn't told us when we were doing it, then suddenly we were doing it that evening, didn't have the music, candles, anything for it. So people rushed to the C's to get them... when we were going to do it there was problems with the music which was a major embarrassment, but not anyone's fault. Neil said we'd do it tomorrow and they'd fix the music before then, and within the next ten minutes they'd found it and we were doing it.
I have to say, though, failing so many times and getting so frustrated with it then suddenly getting it and getting it better than any of our practices - brought sooo much more joy on our part.
Sunday we had small groups within our Church group, and a bunch of chill-out, sessions, food, etc... we had Afternoon activities, and I played outside games and then went into the Labyrinth (a prayer room) for the last half-hour. We had Surge Tracks in the late afternoon, which were 8 short, 8-minute talks about different areas of our lives (based on My Heart, Christ's Home).
In the evening the Acoustic Lounge (basically a Talent Show) was running, but we played Kent and other games instead upstairs in Chill-out. After the main session Alicia and I talked for a while, then we prayed with Sarah Y and Vania for a few minutes.
Monday went by quickly, we had small groups again, then a closing session and clean up. We played the cup game for a while after lunch while people were waiting to leave or be picked up. Kianna and I had a really good talk about how we were going to apply what we'd learned.
So, then, what did I learn?
I did get a lot out of the messages, but the 4 main things I learned (about) were:
Worship - Worship, in a way, gained a whole new perspective for me. It became just me and God in a room with music. And I also started worshiping not just through song, but prayer, reading my Bible, and just listening with my heart.
Joy - I can't express the joy God filled me with at DC and continues to fill me with now. I felt so blessed and so loved by Him and knowing all that fills me with incredible joy. I also found how great my joy is when I take the time to sit and be with God. I long to spend time with God every day, but as it says in Romans 7,
"So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."
Service - God reminded me to serve my friends and to respect and honor them, not to go overboard in teasing, etc... to serve everyone in every way and at all times, letting Christ's love shine through me by my actions.
Humility - Well, the Candle Dance not working definitely put all four of us down a little. It reminded me to accept circumstances and bear with them... and to live them out. I think (not that we were proud, I didn't see that in Cait, Elisabeth, or Hannah... and I pray it wasn't in me), that we needed a reminder that things can go wrong and God is in control - and we're under Him and need to "Humble [ourselves] in the sight of the Lord."
So how am I going to apply all this? It comes in the form of six New Year's Resolutions:
1. I resolve to spend more time in God's word and being with God, thus spending less time online and in the world. I want my influence to be 100% God, so it is not overrun with the influence of the world.
2. I resolve to strive to do my best in anything and always push myself as high as I can go, be it in school, music, relationships... etcetera.
3. I resolve to serve others more, and serve others for their benefit, not my own.
4. I resolve to not go overboard in anything, especially teasing and be willing to stop an argument when it begins to go too far, even if it may mean a slight defeat.
5. I resolve to let God into all rooms of my heart, not holding anything back from Him.
6. I resolve to grow closer to my family, loving them more and getting to know them better.
Brett Harris's Resolutions from 2005 I think are very good and would encourage you to read them.
For New Years Eve we went to the H's for a game night. We talked for a while, then played Pictionary, Foosball, Pirateer, and Pit. Then we drove to the C's and walked to the beach, where we waded out on a sand bar and watched the fireworks. Sarah wanted to watch the ball drop, so although we didn't have a sparkly pink ball and weren't in Times Square we did it anyway, with a ball of sand.
Johnny was playing his guitar and singing worship songs quietly with Philip, and I spent a few minutes walking on the edge of the water and praying and thinking.
Happy 2008. God bless your year!
"Being a stranger means... well, you're a stranger."
"You guys have all these funky games... [list of other games] and then there's monopoly meets Hexagon... (Settlers of Catan... :P)"
"If you don't like me, tell me! Don't try to kill me with rubber balls covered in duckies!"
“Being in Church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in MacDonald’s makes you a cheeseburger! It’s like walking in and saying, ‘hey everybody, I’m a CHEESEBURGER!’”
"Hey, J, wanna come play Pit with us?"
"If you don't we'll dig you a pit!"
"Wait, can it have water in it? Then I could go swimming..."