Letter #630: #Winning, but I need your help

Dear competition,

I love to have fun. I can also be pretty competitive. Combine the two, and I’m all in.

I hit the road recruiting for Kanakuk next week and that in and of itself is fun and exciting. Throw some of you into the mix on top of all the adventures I already know are going to happen”…I’m excited. And I want to win.

So here’s the scoop. Best photo taken during our travels in the following 5 categories wins. It’s that simple.

This has potential to be hilarious. “Hey, I just photobombed your pic…can you text that to me?!?!”

I am already known for making memories and having a whole stinkin’ lot of fun on the road. “Breaking into’ stadiums. Getting locked into them and literally scaling a wall to get out. Visiting creepy Elvis shrines. Finding secret rooms. First time motorcycle ride.

I love to travel. I love to have fun. I was already doing this kind of thing anyway, but this just added a whole new dynamic to my travels.

This is where you come in. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t quite know where adventure lies in cities I’m unfamiliar with. Plus adventures are ALWAYS way more fun with friends. Here’s the list of where I’m coming this fall. I’m already excited to simply see you and do life together in the flesh, but I also need you to brainstorm how we’re going to win this contest and make memories in the process. If I’m not coming to see you, feel free to suggest ideas or even road trip to find me 🙂 Kidding. Kind of.

Laughing just thinking about the possibilities and adventure that lie ahead,

Adventure and memory seeker

Letter #620: I See the Up and Coming…

Dear America,

If you haven’t heard everyone griping about Miley Cyrus’ Build a Bear gone bad twerkfest, then you officially live under a rock. Rather than analyzing the VMAs, Miley’s issues and how you’re absolutely hopeless based on the types of things that were acceptable on MTV Sunday night, I want to tell you about something full of hope. You see, Miley is 20 and this has everyone freaking out about the up and coming generation. But let me tell you what I see up and coming in young adults.

I see the giving up of summer vacations, laziness and lake days to be part of something bigger than self.

I see turning down worldly internships and material gain to spend time doing things that will matter in 50 years.

I see excitement and energy like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

I see the most fun group of people you’ve ever been around.

I see encouragement that can help others gain the confidence they need to believe in themselves.

I see a selflessness contradictory to culture with a desire to navigate how to be different.

I see a willingness to wake up earlier than necessary to spend time in the Bible and prayer before a day begins.

I see teachable hearts longing to have strong work ethic but rarely seeing it demonstrated.

I see passion to create and be part of change.

I see initiative to be the change they want to see.

I see a desire for truth and wisdom to be invested and poured into their lives.

You see, I see things from a different vantage point than the majority of our country. I work at a summer camp where we hire about 1,700 college students a summer to come work with and invest in kids. At camp, 18, 19, 20, 21-year-olds become mom, dad, coach, teacher, counselor, pastor, friend, nurse and so much more to kids that parents have entrusted us with.

All staff
I’m telling you, these people are FUN!

Three weeks ago I walked out of the gates after another summer and upon SEEing the teachability, performance and investment of my staff, I walked away more encouraged than ever. The best part is I wasn’t just encouraged after one summer. Instead, I’m going on my eighth summer of watching hundreds of young adults make their summers about investing in others. And every year, the encouragement’s the same.

Session 1 Girls 4th of July
The 4th of July…America at its finest with these ladies!

These are the difference makers. These are the people I see up and coming. This is why I get excited and passionate about what lies ahead for us.

While public outcry occurred over the performance of a 20-year-old, rather than joining in the outcry I wanted to tell you about some 20-year-olds I know. These are the 20-year-olds who thousands of kids look to as their role models. These are the 20-year-olds who will prayerfully lead our country one day. These are the 20-year-olds I am proud to call my friends.

Rather than being upset about our future after the VMAs, join me in praying for the future. Join me in praying for the faithfulness and steadfastness of the students I told you about. Choose to come alongside this age group and invest in them rather than write them off. They, heck we (I’m not too old yet!), need to see people of faithfulness, work ethic, integrity, faith and aligned priorities. We need you. Be encouraged by this, but be challenged to get out there and invest. Don’t just sit around ranting about how inappropriate and immoral things are. Do something.

Praying for people of all ages to do something and to live out their beliefs actively,

Believer in the up and coming

Letter #437: Passion 2012

Dear Passion,

Two years ago I had the opportunity to attend my first and only Passion Conference. Now I’m almost too old to attend anymore! You have been held in Atlanta, GA since 1998 for college students (18-25 year olds) and are happening right now.

You began small but have exploded. You moved to the Georgia Dome after 2011 and some thought you’d never fill. You sold out. Currently nearly 45,000 college students have converged upon the ATL to worship together, hear challenging messages and make a difference in this world. 45,000. Are you kidding me?? This country often dogs this generation and labels them as lazy, uncommitted, addicted to technology, heathens. I get to see that this is not true every day as I interview college students, but never have I seen 45,000 tell us this at once.

I see 45,000 college students who put people before self. Who long to put God before self. Who are seeking justice in this depraved world. I see hope. 45,000.

45,000 isn’t it though. A generous donation from someone has allowed you in your entirety to be streamed online. So not only are 45,000 experiencing you first hand, thousands more are getting to watch and be challenged around the world. Myself being one of them. Maybe technology isn’t such a negative thing?!

The neatest part of you is that you aren’t just a convergence of Christians singing Kumbaya. You connect worship with justice and are committed to doing something to make a difference in this world. This year you’ve partnered with six anti-slavery organizations to begin putting an end to the 27 million people who are currently enslaved in our world. 27 million in 2012. You set a goal of raising one million dollars. Lofty. What’s crazy is a bunch of broke college students have mustered $550,000 in just the first day. The Lord is moving. (****Update: as of today at 3 PM, $1,002,000. The goal has been broken.****)

You do things right. You are focused on Jesus first and foremost and lots of really neat things are overflowing from this root. Lord, rock the hearts of those present and those who are watching via technology. May this generation rise up and bring You glory. Let this be far more than an event. Let hearts be wholly captivated by You.

Praying for God’s movement at Passion 2012,

Technology appreciator


Readers, you can catch sessions here. Click join us live stream. You can live stream if a session is actually happening or watch past sessions, but they’re only available for a couple days so don’t put it off if you’re interested.

Also, you can do something now and aid in the end of slavery by donating here. Click give to Freedom.

Letter #358: College Hopeful

Dear college students,

I forget how stinkin’ cool you are. I also forget how selfish you can be. So much of what you do concerns benefiting and advancing you. Socially. Professionally. Financially. Experientially. The majority of what you do centers around you. I think college could easily be the most selfish time of life without us really even realizing it.

It was for me at times. I needed to build MY resume. I desired to discover what I wanted to do with my life. It was MY schedule, MY time, MY friends, MY experience, MY growth, MY independence. The majority of the time I didn’t even realize how much I consumed myself.

It sounds like I’m reaming this process, but it isn’t completely a terrible thing. College is where I developed independence, confidence, selflessness, time management, intentionality, balance and a hunger for truth. Some of this stemmed from my selfishness and investment in self. Some stemmed out of me realizing I was a selfish idiot.

All this being said, your generation excites me. I am barely past you guys, but when I spend time with you around the country I am overwhelmed with hope and excitement. Some of you are wise beyond your years. Some are selfless and have found ways to invest in people and make a difference in our world. Some have allowed the Lord to capture your hearts, and I’m convinced He will rock our world through you.

Last night I sat in Reed Arena at Texas A&M’s Breakaway. This is probably the premier college ministry in America. You easily filled a third of the arena. Ben Stuart unashamedly preached truth. Jeff Johnson led the music. As my 24 year old self observed this setting, I was overwhelmed with awe. Thousands, like probably 6,000, of you were present. All I could think about was how much could be accomplished in our world simply by the people present. What if this fleet of students at Breakaway truly allowed the Lord to capture, lead and direct?……

While you tend to live in a very selfish stage of life, I see so much more in you. I see potential. Hope. Purpose. Ability to change the world. I am committed to prayerfully lift you up. I can’t go back to college to make this happen. You have to own it.

Praying for you,


Letter #329: Traveling Challenge 2.0

Dear trail,

Well, we’re closing in on your time of year again…less than a month away! As one season of craziness closes (camp), another one opens. By the time I get settled into being at the office, I’ll transition into life on the road. In case people have forgotten exactly what you are, let’s explain.

During the offseason of camp, if you can even call it this, the full time employees infiltrate college campuses recruiting staff for next summer. I get to travel for 10 weeks each fall visiting current and former staff members as well as meet tons of new people. I interview hundreds of girls for potential employment for Kanakuk Kamps, but even cooler than that I get to listen to people’s stories. You were definitely the highlight of my fall last year, and I’m looking forward to discovering what cities, campuses and friends you’ll take me to this year.

When I started this blogging adventure nearly 11 months ago, I had no idea what would happen. On a complete whim, my fifth post solicited readers to aid me in my “traveling challenge.’ Legitimately to this day, I’m not sure where or why I came up with this, which is still one of my favorite posts…

I was blown away by the response to this post. I have acquired 15-20 college t-shirts representing my travels. For the first few weeks of camp this summer, staff would ask me exactly where I went to college because my wardrobe was confusing them! Auburn, A&M, Baylor, Ole Miss, Carson Newman, Wichita State…the list goes on and on. The best part is there’s a story and blog post behind each of them.

So round two of you begins soon. The “traveling challenge’ of last year enhanced my experience, as well as those I was traveling with because they loved to give me a hard time!  I have to come up with a new challenge. Acquiring paraphernalia from the schools I attend will always be awesome and I’ll never turn down an addition to my wardrobe, but I want to keep it fresh and fun. I’m convinced if life, specifically our jobs, is fun, we will perform better and enjoy it more.

So, round two…what’s the challenge?! Readers, if you were in my shoes or if you could see me try to achieve something this year, what would it be?!

The model for “Project Runway: College Style‘ returns,

Needer of a new mission

{photo attribution}

Letter #118: Bulldog Nation

Dear Mississippi State,

I came into you with zero preconceived notions. I left your campus impressed, minus the fact that it rained the entire time I was present. However, this uncontrollable factor did not ruin your experience, and I was more thankful than ever for my recent investment in a rain jacket…I’ve taken the plunge, thankfully got a great deal from one of your alumni, and the Kappa Delta beauty I’ve been rockin’ is officially retired! I digress.

Your campus is huge. It seemed super spread out, yet you still had a fairly close knit feel. I couldn’t find proof of this fact, but I was told you were the second largest campus acreage wise in the U.S. You were big, but this would surprise me a bit.

Due to the rain, I had to get my tour of you in a car. Thankfully, you’re big enough that it was still possible to see everything because you had roads everywhere. Check my 7th, if not 8th, SEC stadium off the list! You not only had a massive football stadium, but I was floored by your baseball stadium. Apparently, your program is pretty solid, and I was intrigued by the fans I heard tailgate on stilt type structures in the outfield to see over the fence. How fun!!

My time in Starkville was short and filled mostly with interviews, however, I did get to make one stop. The campus bakery for lunch. I was told this was a must visit, and I believe it! Homemade bread equals best sandwich I’ve had in a while and homemade cookie and ice cream, well this can never go wrong! While my time was short, my reunions were brilliant. Fun to see and spend time with both old and new kamp staff! Not to mention, I decided you are just filled with good people, with distinct accents of course!!

Thanks for a good run with the Bulldogs,

SEC round maker

Letter #61: Project Runway Update

Dear Traveling Challenge,

A little less than two months ago, I came up with a crazy idea and invented you. To this day, I’m not sure where I even got the idea, but you have become a highlight in my travels. On October 5th, I released my idea (Project Runway-College Style“…worth two minutes if you haven’t read it), and I never dreamed it would be as fun as it’s been. Here is my stated goal:

So, as I travel from campus to campus, I’ve set a goal. I hope to obtain a piece of paraphernalia (big word that just means shirts, shorts, sweats, etc.) from as many campuses I visit as possible without purchasing any of them. This is a lofty goal and might be a complete flop, but Lord knows I had enough OSU stuff to outfit an army when I was in college. I would have helped someone fulfill a goal like this in a heartbeat. So, I thought, why not give it a shot?!

I have been floored and humbled by the response. Friends have given me shirts from their drawers, gone to the bookstore and bought me a shirt, even contacted people they know that are still in school and people I’ve never met have shown up to give me a shirt. The stories I’ve gained because of you are hilarious and have provided lifetime memories (most of the stories are in previous posts). I have even become the laughing stock of the Director’s Building at Kanakuk because they all think I’m nuts”…they secretly wish they would have thought of it!

Right before I moved to Branson, I took ALL of my Kaydee shirts to be made into a t-shirt quilt. At the age of 23, it was time to retire the sorority look. This move greatly cut into my wardrobe. However, you have given me a wardrobe again!

So today is a tribute to you and to the people who have made this possible. Here are the results:

  • Auburn University”…check!
  • Samford University”…check!
  • Texas A&M”…check!
  • Baylor”…check and check!
  • Oklahoma State University”…not sure this counts because I already have stuff, but no new acquires.
  • University of Oklahoma”…no gear here may have been for the best?!
  • University of Tennessee”…
  • Tennessee Tech”…check!
  • Carson Newman”…check!
  • Lee University”…
  • Covenant College…check!
  • Friends University”…
  • Wichita State University”…check!
  • Tabor College”…
  • Kansas State University…check and check!
  • Washburn University”…check!
  • College of the Ozarks”…speaking engagement that ended in gear”…check!
  • University of Alabama”…check!
  • Valdosta State University”…
  • University of Georgia”…
  • Southwest Baptist University”…

I have visited 20 colleges, and you have allowed me to successfully rep 12 of them (13 if you include OSU). I am floored when I see these results. Thanks for making traveling more fun. For providing great memories and laughs. For humbling me with my friends’ generosity. For increasing my wardrobe. For giving me blog material. The list could go on, but nobody wants to keep reading.

Looking forward to the rest of this week of traveling and next semester,

Project Runway-College Style’s “Model’