Saturday, June 27, 2015

Gull Lake 2015: Week 1

I completed my first week of camp today, and even through the tiredness, I can already say it was a wonderful week.

I was in the "Lions" room with the 2 and 3 year olds. There were definitely some teary separations from mom and dad, but they were such sweet kids and I loved seeing them become more comfortable as the week went on, and getting to bond with them in small ways. I even had a buddy this week, little 2-year-old Samuel, who wouldn't hardly leave my side in the room, which was just precious. Ah, these kids! What a privilege getting to serve their families here at Gull Lake and getting to love on them in Cove Kids.

We had theme nights this past week that were so fun this one: Classics, Cliques and Cliches! It was basically a high-school throwback night!

These are a few counselors and some of the real high-schoolers at camp this week.
There is so much to say, but our off time as staff is short. Another camp starts again tomorrow afternoon! We are all going to need the rest this evening and tomorrow morning, but I'm already looking forward to the relationships we'll get to build this next week with another group of families at camp. The Lord has been teaching me about the strength that He gives to His people and I am amazed at His provision every single day. Even in the smallest things, He is faithful.

And here's just a silly picture from Cove Kids this week - playing with "fun foam"! It got a little bit messy! And we loved it!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

For Dad!

I was raking leaves last week, after we had a terrible storm (including a tornado warning) pass over Gull Lake. As I raked, I thought about my dad.

I really didn't mind doing a little outdoor work, but the only reason I enjoyed it was because my dad showed me how. Even though I had older brothers, Dad still invited and encouraged me to join in on yard days or any other work projects. I am thankful for not only those memories with him, but also that he taught me the value and pleasure in hard work. That's only one small part of what I've learned from Dad.

Today is Father's Day. I don't know if I'll have the chance to call my dad, since we are not allowed to have our phones on during camp (except on Friday evening and Saturday morning).

I want you to know though, Dad, how thankful I am for you!!

Thank you for teaching me how to enjoy raking those leaves, for taking me along on so many adventures, for showing me how to love the Word and the Lord. I have loved our dad-daughter dates, our roadtrips, and our family nights, as well as all the moments in between. You are amazing and I not only look up to you so much, but I love you even more!

I wish I could be with you today, maybe go for a hike somewhere in the mountains. But I'm thinking of you while I'm here at Gull Lake and love you lots!

Happy Father's Day!!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Starting Today

Camp starts today!!!

After a week of training, and a week of Ladies' Days conference (with the theme, "It's Good to Be Queen", with Liz Curtis Higgs as the speaker), the first Saturday of families coming in for camp has arrived. We are excited!!

In other camp news, I'm living in the "Annex" again this year, just like last year. I'm actually even in the same room, so it's nice to be in a familiar place. I've also been assigned the Sweet-N'-Counter for my afternoon activity, so if you come to Gull Lake and are looking for a sweet treat, do come by and say hello!

This is where I'll be living for the next month - dorm style housing upstairs!
The schedule here is fast-paced, but it will be refreshing to interact with families later this afternoon. This is what our staff has been preparing and waiting for. Please be praying for this next week, especially for strength and health as we serve. We want to reflect Christ in all that we do - whether that means filling up water glasses, playing crazy games with kids, washing windows, or anything else. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Snail Mail at Camp!

Look who's going to camp today! 

Yep, Czecholate Chip!

I'm off to Gull Lake today to work there for the next six weeks. Just like last year, I won't have much access to computers and phones, except for on my one evening off. But we do receive mail there, and snail-mail is the best day-maker at camp! So if you'd like to send me something, I would be absolutely thrilled, and I can even write you back too!

My address at Gull Lake will be:

Claire Patty
Gull Lake Ministries
1988 Midlake Dr.
Hickory Corners, MI 49060

I'd love to hear from you! It's wonderful receiving news from the "outside world" while at camp. Teehee.

For the next six weeks, everyone will call me Czecholate. Camp, here I come! I know it will be exhausting, but so good too. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Only a Train Away

It wasn't until 10:30PM last night that I decided to make a trip into the city today. I had been trying to connect with a friend who lives downtown, but it just hadn't worked out last week, and when I realized that my Tuesday was free, I texted her and we were able to make an impromptu plan for photos today. I loved her spontaneity and was thrilled for a reason to walk around Millennium park with her and her twins for a morning.

Taking the train into the city was easy, and the morning was sunny and lovely. Traci was actually my first supervisor in Event and Guest Services at Moody, but now she is also a friend, and it was great getting to know her two little ones a bit more today as we took photos.

Being downtown again was strangely comforting. It's familiar now, and quite spectacular when it's warm outside. Add two adorable twins and their incredible mom and a new friend, and it's one happy morning.

Monday, June 1, 2015

In the Quiet

I have thought much about artistry this past week. This is what happens when Claire's mind has time to wander and wonder.

I've had free days on my hands and my thoughts have flowed freely as my mornings have been filled with cups of tea, and my evenings with dinners the three of us have cooked together. As I listen to thoughtful music, read articles and news reports, watch documentaries or a Japanese movie (like this one) and ride Lara's bike on a sun spotted path, I can't help but contemplate.

We (speaking of humans here) search for meaning in so many different places. We try to express our longings and try to satisfy our deepest needs. Sometimes we see glimmers of hope in art, or when a meal is particularly delicious and shared with those we love most, or when we finish the last sentence of a book while sitting on a blanket in the grass. But those moments are fleeting, and so our search for meaning continues.

I get lost in the beauty and the brokenness and the bittersweetness. Words, photos, paintings and melodies capture a small window of the vastness of what it means to live, always causing me to ponder. Even my dreams at night are filled with curiosity and wonder, often leaving me questioning instead of answering.

And then I remember. I remember that the meaning actually was already found. It is a mystery that was revealed; it is one that we can understand by the Holy Spirit's work. Ephesians 3 talks about this mystery, reminding us that the truth of Christ is one that affects our entire identity.

"4When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." 
- Ephesians 3:4-6

It is the mystery of Christ - his death, burial, resurrection and ascension - which gives us a new purpose and new meaning. The salvation we receive through Him means that we are heirs, that we have purpose, that we are part of something that truly gives life. He is the answer to our questions. 

I'm starting to think that artistry will always point me back to the Lord.  Creativity is inspiring and baffling, and it makes us question everything we do. These questions go unanswered until I look to Scripture to be reminded of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The mysteries of our lives are answered in the Lord, though we still only see in part for now. 

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." - 1 Corinthians 13:12

(Chamomile iced tea!)

It's a good thing I'm not left to my own thoughts too often, because this pondering can be endless! Yet soon I will be in the exciting and exhausting world of camp, and I will hardly even have time to think.

There's a good balance between having these two kinds of seasons. The Lord knows we need them and teaches us very different things in the quiet and in the noise and excitement. I'll say it again - I'm thankful for both.