Thoughts on life

Been a while since I’ve blogged.  Things have been kind of crazy since the day camp that I ran ended.  Upon going back to school, I knew that something in me had changed, I don’t feel very happy anymore.  It’s kinda funny but I miss being in charge of 40 children and 10 volunteers, all the kids coming to me about the simplest little problems, all the yelling, crying, laughing, singing, etc.  I miss it all…  It’s not the fact that I was in charge of everything and everything went the way that I said it would that I miss that experience so much, it was all the bonding that took place with the children and the volunteers, it was the fact that I accomplished something that I never thought I could before.  Ever since the summer, I’ve been thinking about ways that I can get back to a place like that.  It’s hard because even though it seems like school is the only answer to get me back to something that will give me back to this feeling faster, it also feels like school is the thing that is burning me out and making me feel unhappy.  In this time it’s also been hard trusting in God’s timing for different things.  However, I cannot deny that I’ve crossed paths with people who are meant to be in my life to help me through this time.  I’ve made friends who accept me as part of their group and look out for me just because a friend introduced me to them.  Also there are other people who would be there for me anytime to the best of their abilities.  Even though I have a hard time feeling happy right now, I definitely feel cared for and I know that God is looking out for me.

One example that is extremely fresh in my mind because it just happened two days ago.  Two days ago I got into my first major car accident as a driver.  I’m not going to go into details about how it happened, but it was out of my control.  As soon as it happened, there just happened to be an ambulance there and the paramedics came and took over the situation and made sure everything was OK with me and the other driver.  They blocked off oncoming traffic so that we could pull our cars off the busy main road onto a side road before they left.  After exchanging contact and insurance information, the other person drove off, but I couldn’t because of the condition of my car.  My phone was on the fritz and I saw a light on in a house nearby, so I rang their doorbell to ask to borrow a phone.  They had a camera and a microphone and after about two minutes of conversation explaining who I was and what I needed help with, the family opened their door and lent me their phone.  At first when I called my dad, he told me to catch a bus home, so I called a friend who I just met this term if he could pick me up and he readily agreed without hesitation.  As it turned out my dad wanted to swing by to look at my car anyways so my friend didn’t have to come, but to know that he was that willing to help me made me feel cared for.  Everything that happened that night couldn’t have been a coincidence!!  What are the chances that two paramedics in an ambulance would be right behind me when I would need them the most.  There was only one house with their lights on that I could see and the family readily opened their door to a complete stranger to let me use their phone, and my friend being available and willing o pick me up (even though in the end it was not necessary).  Oh and the reason why my dad was able to drive out to where I was was because it just so happened that my mom was not using their car and she is usually out with the car on Tuesday nights.  Just try to tell me that all of this was a huge coincidence!!

A new journey in faith

So, this summer I am directing a day camp and there has been an interesting turn of events that I would like to share about… Here we go!!

The weeks leading up to Sonshine Day Camp were filled with wonder. Wonder of what I were supposed to do (being a first time director was intimidating to say the least). Wonder of if I was doing the “right” things. And Wonder of what the future would bring. The week preceding this week, my assistant director and some of her church youth group went on a local missions trip called “Serve”. Upon return, many of them fell ill, and she fell victim as well. After visiting the hospital, it was concluded that my assistant director would not be able to participate for the first week of camp.

When I received the news (on Saturday), I was pretty devastated. To make things worse, I was scheduled to help lead worship the next day at The Way Community Church and I felt like I couldn’t give it my all. Despite my feelings, I decided to proceed with leading worship because I really like the worship leader that was leading that day and she doesn’t lead with us very often. On Sunday morning, I was making lots of mistakes during rehearsal because my mind was on what I had to do with SDC and was kinda freaking out. Even though I hadn’t told the worship leader my situation, after rehearsal, she came up to me and told me that she felt like I was holding back in my guitar playing. She then told me to just let everything go and just play my heart out for God regardless of any mistakes that I would make. I felt comforted by what she said and I did play hard, I did make (many) mistakes, and I did pour out my soul to God. The two songs that stood out to me that day were the songs “Everyday” and “Lead me to the Cross” by Hillsong. Both songs reminded me to lay myself down and live for God and to shine my light. This gave me comfort that God would always be there even if my assistant couldn’t. I didn’t have to go through this situation alone.

Almost right after service, I got a text message from one of our volunteers who was not scheduled to help out for week 1. She had found out our situation through an announcement made at Broadmoor Baptist Church. Now this was one of our volunteers who was extremely shy and didn’t feel comfortable stepping up in many situations, yet when the need arose, she was the very first person to step up. Not only that, but she asked me to help instead of the other way around.

Throughout the week, I learned to rely and trust my volunteer team heavily. Even though we had lots of new volunteers, they all rose to the challenge and helped make the first week of SDC a success. I am so grateful for each and every one of them!! Whenever one volunteer could not come out another person would come and take their place.

On Wednesday, my greatest highlight happened. I am mainly in charge of the worship portion of the day camp and my assistant director is mainly in charge of the crafts portion of the day camp. Interestingly, the craft idea for this particular week was an idea I had and it made me feel a little bit more confident because if she had planned it, then I would be constantly worrying if I was doing the right thing.

Actually, the craft idea I had in mind had to do with worship, it was to create a song album for the campers to take home (check out https://soundcloud.com/edward-dengler/sets/step-by-step-an-sdc-album) and enjoy and to have them decorate the cover as they pleased. Many campers had a blast singing and it really made my day. I played the CD as they decorated and the campers and volunteers would sing along and do the actions. This helped me see the light that I shone in the camp. I couldn’t previously see the light I cast because my shadow of doubt covered it from my sight, but now that I am aware of it, I will try my best to continue to let it shine for the rest of SDC. I always here compliments about my musical talents and I’m always flattered but would kind of think of my other friends whom I perceive as more talented and brush the compliments aside.

I pray that I can stop being so insecure about the talents given to me and to help others see their light as well.

Are we missing the BIG picture?

A couple of Sundays ago, a visiting pastor at my church shared a story about his childhood with the children.  He talked about how he was cut from the school baseball team when he was a young child and how his father comforted him by giving him ice cream and encouraging him to practice hard and improving for the next year.  In the next year he not only made the team, but he was selected as team captain and then they went on to win first place in the playoffs.  At the very end of the story, on little boy spoke out and said, “You never told us what flavour the ice cream was?”

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Of course all of us adults laughed at the innocence of such a question asked by this child, but for him it was actually really important.  This got me thinking, are we the same with things that God tells us?  Does he tell us stories and plans that he has for us, yet all we focus on is the fact that there are little treats throughout our life journeys.  Is he telling us all the hardships, time, effort and hard work that we need to put in to go through life and succeed, and at the very end all we caught on was that there was going to be ice cream?  Then when we go through life expecting ice cream and wonder when the ice cream will come.  Is this what we focus on?  All the treats and not the actual journey?

This was just a thought that I had.  I pray that ALL of us can focus on the BIG picture and then we can enjoy our treats that much more.

Turning around and finding the right place in life

So here we go, the first part of four blogs where I will talk about things that I personally learned from the youth retreat that I attended, as well as events surrounding it.

Today I want to talk about being lost.  Are you, or have you ever been, spiritually lost?  Like that feeling where “God” is just a word that exists only in your vocabulary and not your life.  Like that feeling where it is just so hard to believe in him because of all the strife.  Like that feeling where you are your own person, because there is no heavenly father to call you son (or daughter).  If so, I pray that this post will speak to you personally.

So here we go…

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We headed out on Friday afternoon for what was supposed to be an hour and half bus ride.  Suffering slightly from sleep depravity I fell asleep for the first hour of the bus ride.  When I woke up we were still on the Highway and about 20 minutes later we pulled off onto an exit and reached a fork in the road.  The bus driver thought that we had to turn instead of driving straight.  We thought that we were getting really close to the Lodge because we were driving by lots of wooden residences and we were ecstatic!!  5 minutes later we no longer saw any residences and the thoughts running through my mind were, ” I think we are on the right track.  I mean it’s a lodge, so it would be further away from all the other residences… right?  Wait, there is no longer any lights around on this road…  Did I just see a Yeti?…”  OK maybe not that last part, but you get the point… WE. WERE. LOST.  It actually took a wooden gate blocking the road for the bus driver to realize this fact.  After much looking at the GPS on someone’s smartphone (don’t you just love technology?!?!?) we figured out where we went wrong.

Turning back was not easy, we were in a big bus and we were on a narrow road, but eventually we were turned completely around and on our way again.  At the fork in the road we went in the right direction.  Once we arrived I was taken over by a wave of familiarity and memories flooded back.  You see this particular lodge that we went to, I haven’t been to since 6 years ago and at that time I was one of the youth.  Now that we return to this place, a few of the people from the other youthgroups and I return as leaders of our perspective youthgroups.  It was also six years ago at this very location that I had an intimate encounter with God and I broke down during one of the worship sessions.  Upon arriving, I knew this was definitely the right place to be at.

So for those of you struggling and feeling lost, I want to encourage you with this thought.  Imagine that bus that my youthgroup was on was you.  You travel on the road of life in search of the place that God is at.  You arrive at a fork in the road and you choose to go in the direction that doesn’t lead to God (whether this be by accident or intentional you are still on the wrong road).  God still gives you signs that you need to turn around.  You may see other people building residences along this road, but they are sparse.  Soon enough you come to a point where there are no people around, just wilderness.  And finally, you hit that wooden fence.  You see this fence is not a dead end, you could keep going on past it, but it would keep leading you further and further away form God; therefore this fence is a point of decision, keep going or turn around.  What will you choose?

Turning around isn’t easy… You are a big bus on a narrow road and it may take a while before you are fully turned 180 degrees around.  Then it’s the slow process of getting back to where there is life again (the occupied residences) and then fully back onto the path that leads to God.  When you get to where God is, you will know it is the right place, because at sometime in your life you have been to a similar place and have gotten this feeling of God’s presence.  Question is, are you wiling to turn around?

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