7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Summer Camp

Anastasis Faith
          It was the Saturday after piano camp. Friday night we had held our recital in Roxy Grove Hall at Baylor University. My friends had driven me the two hours home to their house after the recital finished late and after we had eaten at Pizza Hut. Now, on Saturday, my parents picked me up on their way to lunch.
          I was tired, tired, tired and GRUMPY.
          I actually sat at a different table than my family and read my book until my Dad told me to come join them. Dad asked, “How was camp?”
          I responded, “Can we talk about it later? I am too tired right now.”
          Needless to say, my parents were NOT HAPPY with me after camp. Looking back, I realize how extremely rude I had been—even after they had paid $500 for me to attend this camp!
7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Summer Camp
          Probably some of you have a similar story about the post-camp crash. It could be a church camp, a camp with an organization like TeenPact, or a camp like my piano camp. It doesn’t matter. These apply to all of them.
          Camps are super fun and super exhausting. How do we balance both in such a way as to make camp REFRESHING and rejuvenating instead of draining?
          First of all, why would it matter?

         Three quick reasons:
          You should never act the way I did to my parents when you return from a camp. They paid for my way and bent over backwards to get me there and made arrangements for me to get home. I was rude to them and ungrateful.
          Most of us have to “hit the ground running” and how to live your week or weekend at camp will determine how well you can recover quickly to take care of what needs to be done.
          At least at church camp, it’s supposed to refresh your spiritual walk with God. If we come back physically destroyed, it will be hard to implement what we learned to walk closer with God.

          I approach camps VERY differently than I did even a year or two ago and I’m learning how to best approach them to maximize my time back at home.
          Let’s launch into the tips!

1. Life is not about camp.
          You cannot be living life for the next camp. I’ve been guilty of this and it’s a waste of time and it completely neglects the sweetness of a daily walk with Christ.
Jesus cares IMMENSELY about your routine. Don’t waste your life pining away for the next camp or the next “spiritual high.” That’s not what real life or real living is about.

2. Camp is FOR your life back at home.
          Why do we have camp? So that we are better equipped to honor Jesus by the way we live back at home. Have this in mind when you are at camp. You are not living FOR camp. Camp is FOR your life at home. Live life at camp preparing to go home. Make practical lists of things you are going to change when you get home. They don’t have to be big, though they can be. They might be to pray for ten minutes in the morning and night. Whatever it is, use camp to maximize your time at home. Learn how to honor Christ MORE in your routine.

3. Know how much rest you need.
          This is a huge one for me. I need a ton of sleep. Camps where we get less than seven hours of sleep every night seriously destroy me emotionally and physically. You need to know how much rest you normally need—and remember that you will probably need more at camp. The camps I’ve been to require a lot of physical exertion. Whether it’s walking like ten miles every day on Baylor campus like I did at piano camp or if it’s physically demanding games, they usually deplete energy.
          If you cannot sleep enough at night, do whatever you can to take a nap. Don’t neglect your rest. When you can, cut out of late night games to get a good night’s rest.

4. Factor in whether you're an introvert or extrovert.
          I don’t know where you are on the scale, but if you’re an introvert, camps can end up a nightmare. Sometimes you’re with your best friends 24/7. Other times you’re with strangers 24/7. Either way, find a way to be alone and spend time with God EVERY DAY. Even if you’re an extrovert. 

5. Don’t cut your diet to soda and candy.
          This can be a huge temptation at camp. There’s candy everywhere and soda and coffee shops. Often, camp food can be gross. If you know that you’re going to a camp that hasn’t gotten down how to serve decent food, then please bring some protein bars, snacks and/or fruit.
          There was a camp I went to a couple years that simply never had enough food for everyone! My cousin convinced me to bring protein bars and I was so thankful.
          Also, drink lots of water.

6. Plan ahead.
          Come to camp with a spiritual goal. Plan ahead for the camp by bringing whatever you need, but also plan ahead for life when you get back home. Keep going in home at the forefront of your mind.

7. Make sure others have the BEST week or weekend of their life!
          I’ve heard it said that the best way to have the best week of your life is to help someone else have the best week of their life! And I wholeheartedly agree! Use this as a time to grow closer to your church friends.
          A camp is a great atmosphere and place to have deep conversations with your friends and get to know them better.

          Those are the things I’ve learned from going to tons of camps throughout the years. Even if you’re the “party pooper” by going to bed early, if you launch back into life better and strengthen your routine, I think it’s worth it.
Of course, there are so many things like injuries that can happen at camp. My sister walked into a window and seriously injured her nose (she thought it was really funny though). I got a concussion at a camp (and I did NOT think that was very funny). ;) You can’t plan for those things, but           God is working through every circumstance!
          If you could get one thing out of this blog post, this is what it would be:
          Live at camp in such a way that makes you stronger when you get home.
          For more articles on this topic, please check out this one on The Rebelution, and if you want to read about what I learned last year at church camp, read this one

What are some of the things that you have learned at camp? Any tips to share? Which is your favorite of mine? What has been your favorite camp ever? Share in the comments!

5 Sneaky Habits That Will Cripple Your Life

Anastasis Faith
          Often we classify sins into two different "types": "BIG sins" and "little sins."
          For example, a pastor committing adultery would be considered a "BIG sin," while something like skipping our quiet time one morning would be a "small sin."
          But “big” sins come when we make seemingly little compromises in our thought life to go our way instead of God’s way.
          When our mind is characterized by indulgence, then our flesh and our lifestyle become crippled with indulgence. 
          Here are 5 sneaky habits that are a pattern of a lazy and indulgent lifestyle.

1. Sleeping late
         My family called me “sleepy head.” I would sleep as late as I possibly could every single day. Dad wanted to teach us how to wake up early, so he had us do a math assignment every day before 8am. I really didn’t like waking up at 6am or earlier… So I decided to do my math the night before. I would stay up late and wake up late. On Saturdays, I would sleep in as late as possible until Mom came and woke me up.
          Now, my goal is to wake up at 5am every weekday morning. For the most part, that’s what I do. What happened? I learned that, while there are always 24 hours in a day, there are ways to optimize your waking hours to be the most productive. Getting up early and seizing the day has been far more productive for me.
          But waking up early isn’t just about being productive. It’s about fighting the lifestyle of indulgence.
          If you have a habit of sleeping late every day, you will teach yourself to indulge in your flesh. You will start off your day with indulgence and as a result, you will not be a dedicated or equipped to fight sin in your life.
           If you want some practical tips for getting up early, check out the article, "10 Tips for Getting Up Early."
2. Curing your boredom with your phone
          Seriously, your phone is probably your worst enemy. It is GREAT way to waste your day, snuff out your work ethic, and indulge the flesh. Not to mention it has instant access to a wealth of sin and filth.
          If you are bored, you should not always resort to your phone. Your phone will suck the joy out of the daily life you live. It will cause you to miss the serene happiness of each moment.
          Just like your phone, social media is a tool that, when handled incorrectly, is devastating to your life.
          I’m fighting this by setting a 30 minute timer most mornings. Whenever I’m on social media, I turn the timer on. It helps a lot, but it doesn’t eliminate my sinful inclinations.
          Find some practical ways that you can fight this. Maybe you study when you’re bored. Or call a friend. Clean your room. Do a craft. Whatever it takes!
          Also check out "Do You Cling to Your Phone?"
3. Procrastinate
          This is a symptom of lazy indulgence. Don’t put it off. Work hard, and then play and rest. Typically, I’ll work on school from early morning until about 5pm, and then I stop. I hang out with my family or do some other fun thing. Working hard and not procrastinating doesn’t mean you don’t have time to have fun—it means you DO have time, and it is not under the burden of eventually having to do your school or work or whatever. 
4. Skip your quiet time (prayer time)
          When things get busy or stressful, it’s easiest to cut out time with God. But this should always be our number 1 priority in life—knowing Christ.
          You will be surprised at how much a quiet time (or the lack thereof) will affect your day.
          When you see God, you see why you must fight sin. You love God more than sin. You cannot expect to glorify Him if you do not set aside time to seek after Him.
          Also check out the article, "10 Tips for Reducing Stress."
5. Worry
          When I asked on Instagram during one of our Chat Times what were the biggest hindrances in our walk with Christ, the majority said anxiety and worry.
          What is worry? The sin of not trusting God.
          A life characterized by anxiety and worry cannot be a life characterized by the joy of Christ.
          Surrender your life to Christ and daily offer up your worries to Him. He is a better steward of them than you.

Are you guilty of any of these? If you could add a 6th one, what would it be? Share in the comments!

6 Misconceptions About Having a Boyfriend

Anastasis Faith
-By Maddie
          I rushed around, running back and forth between my room and Mom’s. “Can I borrow a necklace? Which one?? I’m not sure!” And then running into the laundry room, “MOM MY PANTS STILL AREN’T DRY!! He’s going to be here in fifteen minutes!!!”
          Since my room faced the front driveway, I had to be careful he didn’t drive up while I had my hair in a towel or something.
          It was the morning of my first date.
          As Mom was helping me be presentable, I told her, “Last night, I had a dream that my makeup was NOT WORKING. Well, first I dreamed I slept way in and only had five minutes to get ready. And then I kept smearing my mascara and I had no time and I was missing the rest of my makeup and it was a BIG DISASTER.”
          Despite a bit of a frazzled morning until he showed up at 7am to take me to breakfast, we are still together over a year later.
          There’s a lot that I’ve learned over that year. One of them is how much I have yet to learn! But, coming from the mouth of someone who’s had a boyfriend for over a year, I can tell you about 6 misconceptions about having a boyfriend.

1. You will be happier
          In some ways, this is true. Overall, it’s not. Those few months after I started dating were some of the most exciting, emotional, and honestly discontent months of my life. Not discontent with my boyfriend—no, he was great. Discontent with life. Why? Because I had been expecting him to make me so much happier. But a boyfriend doesn’t MAKE you happy.
          I had to come to the conclusion that God can be my only source of true joy and lasting happiness. That overflowed into my relationship, making it very joyous and satisfying. But that joy came from the joy I found in Christ alone.
          There are butterflies and excitement, but it is so temporary. It is only joy in Christ that is the sweetest and it will never end.
2. Your problem with insecurity will go away
          Those few months after I started dating also happened to be the most insecure months of my life. When I tell people that, they are so confused. “Why on earth???!” They ask. Let me explain.
          For the first time in my life, I had a guy. And I desperately did not want to lose him. I decided the prettier I was, the more likely he was to stay.
          That was completely contrary to this sweet guy who told me he wasn’t dating me for my looks, but my personality and relationship with Christ. He said my beauty came from those things.
          It revealed a pride and a selfishness in my heart that I did not know was there. A boyfriend doesn’t make your insecurity go away. It can only go away in Christ. Once I realized that, I found so much peace on the issue. I also got to know my boyfriend better and realized just how blessed I was—and I didn’t need to worry about losing him to prettier girls.
          But ultimately, peace about my looks came from Christ. It can only come from Christ because He created me. I can trust Him that He gave me my looks for a reason.
3. Your walk with Christ will be richer
          It was actually really hard to focus on God when I was so enraptured with this guy. Adding a third person won’t make your walk with Jesus fuller. Jesus is more than enough. If you feel like you need a guy in order to get closer to God, then you do not know Him.
4. You will never feel lonely
          Nope. You may be in a relationship with someone but you can still be very far away from them. This happened to me when we had misunderstandings or I had ridiculous expectations.
          Companionship is a wonderful thing, but sin always drives a wedge. My sin has driven a wedge between us so many times. That’s when the loneliness seeps in. When sin takes over.
5. It’s all about having fun
          Dating is great. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. But the joy of dating doesn’t come from having a super-hot boyfriend. It comes from taking time to work through problems. It comes from choosing to respond like Jesus would even when you just want to pout and throw a pity-party.
          Dating isn’t about fun. It’s about getting a lot of the dirty work out of the way before marriage. Like talking through hard issues and making sure you align enough on the big things to get married.
6. It’s easy
          Just like it’s not about having fun and games, it’s not easy. You will find you struggle with sin that you didn’t realize you did.
          Sin will make you isolate yourself. Instead of working through problems, it will make you run. That is just more sin. Dating is not easy, but it is so rewarding.
          The more effort you put into a solid relationship, the more you will reap the benefits.
           But the only way to truly enjoy and be satisfied in a relationship is to first find your joy and satisfaction and contentment in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ.

What misconceptions have YOU had about dating? Which of these was the most surprising? For those of you who are dating, what did you do for your first date? :) Comment below! And also take a moment to read this post: 6 Misconceptions About Purity.

4 Things I Had to Remember When They Didn’t Remember Me

Anastasis Faith

My Memory:
It was a close game. It was hot and humid and I had not had a substitute for a while. My body ached with exhaustion, but adrenaline pushed me to keep running toward the Frisbee.
4 Things I Had to Remember When They Didn't Remember Me
I’ve played a lot of Frisbee and a lot of people have commented on how surprisingly good my flick is for a girl. Every year, at a youth conference, my brother would put together a team for a very competitive Ultimate Frisbee tournament. This year, we were doing well. We had won two out of our three preliminary games and if we could win this one, we could get one of the best seeds in the tournament and possibly make it to the championship this year. We had gotten up to the semifinals last year.
The other team was ahead. I do not remember exactly what happened. I just know that this girl and I were closely guarding each other the whole game. Either they had the Frisbee and dropped it in the end-zone, or we had it and dropped it. Whatever happened, there was an instant shift in direction. I turned to run left as the other girl next to me turned to run right.
We hit heads.
I remember reeling back from the shock of the hit. I held my hand to my head for a moment until the pain lessened. When I turned, I watched the girl I’d collided with collapse to the ground.
From that point, there were medics everywhere. An ambulance was called. Everyone on the field stopped, knelt, and prayed for her for about half an hour.
I had a headache, but I figured that was normal for just hitting heads with someone. My aunt—a nurse—was asking me lots of questions to make sure I was okay. My sister was VERY attentive, and everyone on my team was very kind and considerate. I thought I was perfectly fine.
The other girl, however, I believe was taken to the ER and diagnosed with a minor concussion.
It wasn’t until 24 hours later, after no relief from terrible headaches, exhaustion, and uncontrollable emotional breakdowns, that it was discovered that I also had a minor concussion. Now, less serious than the other girl’s for sure. She even had to go home early.
For the rest of the week, I slept. Basically. Every waking moment was pained with a headache and severe exhaustion. The drive home was horrible. Especially since I was in a van with fourteen other people.

Everybody Else’s Memory:
I actually just saw a Facebook post from this youth conference about the girl who got a concussion when another girl (me) shouldered her in the head.
It became a big story from the week about how God worked in this other girl’s life through her concussion. It was posted all over social media, announced in the sessions. Everybody knew about this girl’s concussion and how she was hurt.

Except that it wasn’t my shoulder that hit her head. It was my head. And I got a concussion too.
But I didn’t get the media attention. Besides the people who interacted closely with me at that event, no one knew about my concussion.
It’s not a great feeling knowing that you were forgotten. Much less your PAIN was forgotten.
Some people want injuries because of the attention it gets them. One could say that I got all the down-sides of an injury without the up-sides.
When I read the Facebook post, it stung.
But, ultimately, I had to come to the conclusion that it really didn’t matter.

I had to remember several things:

1. It’s about your response
All sorts of terrible things will happen to me in life—this being on the low end of that scale. I am not responsible for what happens to me, but I am responsible to how I respond. This thing happened by accident and I was forgotten. If my response is to melt in self-pity, then I have sinned while they merely did not know all the information. 

2. Life doesn’t revolve around me
I am not the center of the universe. I think we’ve all heard our moms say tell us that. But they tell us because it’s true. I felt offended because the other girl got more attention than I from the same injury.
Getting our minds off of ourselves is a skill that we will never completely master, but something we should seek to accomplish because our Lord is selfless (Phil 2:3-4).

3. That other girl suffered more than me
Instead of moping because I didn’t get the attention, I should have looked to the other girl and been thankful that I wasn’t sent home. I should have been thankful that my concussion was less serious. After all, I was pretty miserable for about three weeks after it. She would have been miserable for longer than I.

4. In the end, it didn’t matter
Now, nearly a year later, does it really matter who got the attention? No. It doesn’t. So what do I accomplish by pitying myself?

Maybe some of you can relate to the self-pity that can take over your heart. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience.
But when I had this experience and had my sinful reaction, I had to repent and come away thinking, “It just doesn’t matter.”
If you think everyone has forgotten you, then look at the cross. If anyone should forget you, it’s the King of the Universe who’s watched innumerable people walk this earth. Yet He has never forgotten you or lost track of you. And this is why it doesn’t matter if someone else forgets you.

Have you ever felt overlooked or forgotten? How did you fight self-pity? Any thoughts or stories? Share in the comments!

10 Cooking Tips for the Kitchen-Clueless Girl

Anastasis Faith

I love cooking and baking. I have a cute, old-lookin’ notebook that I always write recipes, kitchen tips, and helpful things I find in books or the internet in.
  I look forward to when I have a daughter of my own who’s eager to help in the kitchen and I can give her the book filled with recipes to her to try out. Of course, that’s all in the Lord’s will. ;)
  Here, I present to you, my good people, 10 awesome kitchen tips that have served. me. well. I have them all written in my notebook and use them when… they come to mind ( I’m still trying to commit them to memory ;) )
  I hope you enjoy!

10 Cooking Tips for the Kitchen-Clueless Girl

Tip 1:
 Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold.

Tip 2:
Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Tip 3:
Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if you want a stronger taste of garlic.

Tip 4:
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

Tip 5:
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Tip 6:
If an egg is spoiled it will float in a bowl of water rather than sink.

Tip 7:
Roll lemons or limes between the counter and the palm of your hand to make them easier to juice.

Tip 8:
If measuring out both oil/butter and honey put the oil or butter in your measuring cup first then the honey will slide right out.

Tip 9:
Toss berries in flour before baking in muffins or bread and they will be more evenly distributed.

Tip 10:
If you over-salt something (stew, soup, etc.) throw a potato in the pot. It’ll suck up all the salt and won’t leave it over-salted.

But He answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Give us this day our daily bread.
Matthew 6:11

What kitchen tips do you have? Do you think that learning to cook is important? Why or why not? Share in the comments! And don't forget to check out Aly's blog: Shepherd's Handmaiden!

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