Letter #676: Don’t Miss Your Nows.

Dear purpose,

Most say they want to live a life centered on you, but few ever actually put feet to it. Intentions start right, then busyness, laziness and life happen. Most start the race; very few finish. The beginning is exciting and easy, but I want to be someone who fights through the hard of the middle. One who chooses daily so the sum of my life might be purposeful.

As I navigate how to dream, pray and believe big while remaining faithful in the little, I keep coming back to the overarching banner to simply live purposefully.

If I can achieve this, everything else falls into place. The little. The big. The significant. The insignificant. The easy. And the hard. If I can’t live purposefully with what’s right in front of me, I’ll never be able to with the things that come in the future.

But there’s great tension that comes with this. You can’t just show up daily and never think and dream about what’s coming next. I guess you could, and maybe we’d all be more healthy and engaged if we did, but I would argue that rather than it being either or, it has to be both and.

Show up daily and be fully present but also position self in a way to prepare for future as well.

I refuse to miss my nows because I’m so caught up and consumed by my nexts. However, I’m also not going to foolishly miss my nexts because I don’t forward think and dream. And there’s the tension.

So here’s the way I’ve been able to articulate this tension of living in the present without missing the future. “Live with purpose today so you can live with vision tomorrow.”

When I live my nows purposefully, it allows me to have clarity in my nexts. If I live with you in the daily, it leads me to living my life with vision.

May we not miss what’s right in front of us because we’re consumed with the future, but may we not miss our futures because we never pray and ask God to guide and direct us.

As busyness and the tyranny of the urgent continue to take over lives, I’m fighting against it. It seems as if life just happens while people settle living purposelessly because they don’t know how to regain control of the crazy.

Life isn’t going to just happen to me. No I can’t control things, but I can choose to live with great purpose. I can choose to make the most of the moments right in front of me. I can choose to dream, pray and believe for great vision concerning my future.

I’m not settling to let life just happen to me. Instead, I’m going to “live with purpose today so I can live with vision tomorrow.” My race has started and I fail often, but I’m choosing to press into the hard of the middle. I long for the sum of my life to be purposeful, thus I must choose every single day. In the little and the big. It’s not easy, but I’m learning it’s worth it.

Press on and choose daily,


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 #535: Easy Doesn’t Equal Right

Dear this year,

In case you missed the update this summer, as of July 9th I have decided to work for Kanakuk Kamps and live in Branson for at least one more year. You can read all about that decision here. I am genuinely excited about what  you have in store for me, but excitement doesn’t necessarily take away all the questions or thoughts of, “Branson, MO for four years of my life…Really?!” My life is hilarious, and the Lord sure seems to have a sense of humor in the midst of it all. Seriously, if you would have told me my senior year of college that I’d live here for what will be four years, I would have laughed in your face. Here I am still living in the land of the Haygoods, Tony Orlando and the senior citizen Mecca of America.

I can make jokes about this place all day long, but that’s not why I’m writing today. After camp I made a whirlwind of a trip back to Oklahoma. It’s always so stinkin’ good to have  quality time with family and friends. While I was there, two of my best friends came out to my parents the night before I was leaving. They are living together in OKC with another friend of mine for you. As they were leaving, one of my friends realized I was leaving for good. She had her sappy friend moment, and well let’s be honest, I’m probably the least sappy and emotional woman I know so I was being as sappy as I could, then I shut the door and went to bed. As I walked away from the door, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

It would be SO much easier to live in Oklahoma near my precious family with some of my dearest friends. My social life would involve OSU football, Thunder basketball and friends from every season of my life. I’d get to be near family and see my nephews grow up before my eyes rather than in spurts. I could run over to my parents for dinner every once in awhile. It would be SO easy to be in Oklahoma. However as I had these thoughts, I was instantly overwhelmed with the fact that OKC wasn’t right for me right now. Easy isn’t necessarily right. Not that living in OKC would be wrong, but for now Branson, MO and Kanakuk Kamps is where I’m supposed to be.

I never doubted my decision in coming back, but I also don’t know that I’ve ever had an overwhelming sense of peace like I did in that moment. I don’t know exactly what the Lord has in store for me and you, but I’m excited and expectantly praying for what lies ahead. Year four of Branson: it’s like it’s my senior year in this place. Let’s do this!

Prayerfully expecting the Lord to show up in greater ways than I even anticipate,

Thankful easy doesn’t equal right

Letter #379: Prediction Update

Dear predictions,

One month ago I made several of you. Some were calculated and some were decided on a complete whim. I really have no idea where I even came up with this post idea, but it sure was fun. You know what else is fun? Figuring out if you’re right or not, and let’s be honest…being right is fun! Let’s see where I stand and if I should start placing bets on the over/under for athletic events.

Here is the list of you I came up with…

  • OSU will beat A&M this weekend. We will also defeat OU”…I know, bold start.
  • I will be an aunt again in the next 18 months”…maybe more than once!
  • Derek and Meredith will eventually get back together on Grey’s Anatomy”…my guilty pleasure TV show.
  • It will snow in Branson, MO this year.
  • Obama won’t be president again.
  • I will meet someone famous this year”…a girl can hope right?!
  • The Big XII will carry on.

Here are the results thus far…

  • OSU is sitting 6-0 and #4 in the BCS…check! As for OU, I’m sticking to my pick for the Bedlam outcome.
  • Bam, in case you missed this post, Dana’s prego!!!!! Jamie, you have anything you need to tell us (talk about starting a rumor mill!)?!
  • The relationship is a bit rocky, but Derek and Meredith are back together.
  • Considering it actually just turned fall this week, this one hasn’t happened yet. It will.
  • Based on the feedback I heard from the debate two nights ago, I might be eating my words on this one. Still holding strong though.
  • Holy smokes, how did this already happen?! Three days ago. Read about it in this post. Who could be the next person…I don’t want to limit myself to just one?!
  • TCU’s entrance pretty much seals this one in my mind. A&M, good luck in the SEC.

I made eight of you. Eight. Five have happened. The other three aren’t possible yet. I’m currently batting .625. Technically I’m at a thousand. Sign me up to play for the Rangers! Wow. I’ve actually shocked myself. Who’s coming to Vegas with me?! Kidding.

In all reality, this means nothing. However, it’s always fun to be right. Always. Really it just makes me want to make more of you. Maybe I will but not today. For now, I will simply sit back and enjoy all the fun things happening around me.

Here’s to OSU football and hopefully a win this weekend, a developing baby, television love, snow coming to Branson, more respectable displays by presidential candidates, randomly meeting famous people and the Big XII,

Predictin’ fool

Letter #352: Prediction Post

Dear predictions,

I don’t really like you much, but you’re kind of fun all at the same time. Today, I’d like to make a few of you. I have done zero research and am literally pulling these out of thin air…

  • OSU will beat A&M this weekend. We will also defeat OU…I know, bold start.
  • I will be an aunt again in the next 18 months…maybe more than once!
  • Derek and Meredith will eventually get back together on Grey’s Anatomy…my guilty pleasure TV show.
  • It will snow in Branson, MO this year.
  • Obama won’t be president again.
  • I will meet someone famous this year…a girl can hope right?!
  • The Big XII will carry on.

At some point, I’ll look back on these just to see if I got any of you correct. It’ll be fun and funny to see just how big of an idiot I am. Readers, hold me to re-evaluating.

I’d love for others to submit some of you as well or contradict mine. It’s kind of fun to make them up! Plus, it’ll be way more fun to compare and see who was right!

Here’s to OSU wins, new nieces and nephews, the Shepherd’s, snow in Branson, a new el presidente, celebrities and the Big XII,

Predictin’ fool


Letter #151: Fearing the Future

Dear future,

As much as I want to say I don’t, I fear you. There, I admitted it. I’m not hiding behind my “I’ve got it all together’ and “it’s all going to work out in the long run’ facade anymore. A common question in our society is “What’s your greatest fear?’

Sure, I’m afraid of snakes (seriously, I’ve been known to scamper the opposite way after blood curdling screams and an occasional profanity slips from my lips), but this definitely doesn’t consume me. The thought of being attacked or my house getting broken into freaks me out, but I really never dwell on this. Failure seeps in every once in awhile, but then I remember I’m not going to fail as long as I am putting my best efforts forward.

So, we’re back to you. All I know about you is for the next two and half months I get to prep for summer followed by three months of living in Lampe, MO at the Westside for my sixth and potentially final summer. K-West 2011 will have a different feel for me this summer regardless of it being my last or not. I’ll have added and different responsibilities and will be coming into the summer already having some sort of relationship with each staff girl. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited for a summer.

After these six months, I have no idea what lies ahead for, well, my entire life…exactly why you freak me out. My possibilities are limitless. I could potentially remain in Shady B. I could move back to good “ole Oklahoma. I could honestly live in any city in the world. I could do business; I could work for a church; I could be a teacher. Literally, the possibilities are endless. Too endless. I have nothing tying me down, yet, somehow you seem too broad.

Snakes, criminals and failure don’t keep my head spinning. It’s you I lay awake at night thinking about. It’s you I’m continually processing. I long for more stability in you.

Then, I happened to watch a LifeChurch.tv sermon while cooking what turned out to be really good chicken tortilla soup…yes, as my friend, Brooke, mentioned, Saturday nights look very different as an adult!! It was called “I Quit Living in Fear’ and was exactly the reality check I needed. Craig pointed out “what we fear reveals what we value most and where we trust God least.’ Hello, wake-up call!

You’re exactly what I fear most as well as where I trust God least. I want to know answers. End of story. This has led me to a lack of trust in my God.

Then Craig pulled out this John Wesley quote: “I have never known more than 15 minutes of anxiety or fear. Whenever I feel fearful emotions overtaking me I just close my eyes and thank God that He is still on the throne reigning over everything and I take comfort in his control over the affairs of my life.

My goodness, may this become my perspective on life. Regardless of my unknown you, God is still on His throne and in control. Thank the Lord because that might be the only constant regarding you at this point.

My favorite verse in the Bible is 2 Tim. 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear in some translations), but of power and love and discipline.’ I know this verse by heart, but it so easily fades away. I forget. I allow myself to be consumed by the fear this world says is normal.

Today, I’m acknowledging my fear of you and striving to have Wesley’s mindset.

May I be consumed by Christ and His sovereignty today,

Fear shaker in your realm


Letter #148: Questions: Love and Hate ‘Em

Dear questions,

Man, I love you. We’re asked a ton of you daily. I enjoy asking you to others and being asked as well. However, I can only do surface conversation for so long. I struggle with you in basic, get to know you form. Confession: I hate the first two days of staff training week at kamp. This is how a conversation goes: “What’s your name? Wait, what school do you go to? Oh, so you’re from where? Have you been to camp before?…next day…same person, same questions because we can’t remember.” If I could fast forward through these days, miraculously know the basics of everyone and get straight to the meat of conversation, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

I’m more of a fan of you when I can take something significant away. What’re you passionate about? How do you love spending your time? What’re you reading? What do you think about God? These are the types of you I really enjoy.

Then, there’s day to day ones of you like these. Paper or plastic? Wheat or white? Sonic happy hour or not? Workout before work, after or at all? Shower or make it one more day without?

The most awkward of you ever might be a woman being asked if she’s pregnant when she’s not. Painful. Thankfully I’ve never done this, but only because I’ve learned watching my Dad fail miserably more than once in this department. My advice: when unsure, don’t go there!

Then there’s just those of you we get sick of being asked. Senior year, it was, “Where are you going to college?” Once in college, it’s, “Well, what’re you majoring in?” Upon graduation, everyone wants to know, “What’re you doing with your life?” After dating for sixish months, you start to fly this about, “When are you getting engaged?” Every time I’d be asked these, especially about my engagement, I’d get a little more anxious. I’d start to question things, feel forced to have life figured out and just get frustrated. The truth of the matter was the decision would be made when it needed to be. We don’t need to know where we’re going to college until at least April, nobody knows what they’re majoring in until at least their sophomore year and well, reality check: does anyone ever really know what they’re doing with their lives anymore? Heck, if the engagement portion ever comes into play, it’s out of my hands anyway…ask him!

You have the ability to shake our worlds. The current nemesis you’re presenting me is, “Well, have you decided what you’re doing next year?” Yes, I’m 23. Yes, I’m in the exact same place of unknown I was a year ago. Yes, I’d love to have more stability in my life. Reality: NO, I DON’T KNOW YET. There, I said it. I have a plan through August 13th, then I’m wide open. Sure, I’m being proactive and sorting through details, but I’m also contently trusting the Lord. This is it. This is the current you that drives me nuts.

Hoping I never get asked if I’m prego when I’m clearly not,

Lover and hater of you


Letter #124: The Next Step

Dear life post Kanakuk,

I’ve been thinking about you a great deal lately. It seems every person I speak to or spend time with asks, “So, what’s next? You going to keep working for Kamp, or what are you going to do? Do you want to keep working for Kanakuk? If not, what do you want to do?”

Then, begins a fairly awkward conversation of me being uncertain of how to answer and people wondering, at least from my perspective, if I’ll ever have a tangible plan for more than a year at time. Trust me, I wonder this too. Currently, I’m unsure, but I’m not stressed about it.

I walked through this same situation a year ago. My future being unknown has become about as normal to me as traveling the country in a 15 passenger van. I don’t want to go to Kamp this summer not knowing what you look like, but I’m also truly content not knowing.

So, here I am. First day of February. Committed to Kanakuk until August 13th. With all the questions I’ve been getting along with summer getting closer, I’ve been thinking about you often. If this is it for my days with Kamp, what would I want to do next? What city should I live in? Where do I go from here? You are beginning to become a hot topic of conversation.

Going to Fayetteville for one last minute trail event last night opened my eyes to you in a new way. I got to have dinner with some K-West favorites, all of which have moved on and are living you well. They are plugged into their communities. They love their jobs. They are making a difference in the midst of you.

While I have been at a place of contentment about my future being unknown, whether summer 2011 will be it for Kamp in my world or not and simply what is next for awhile, seeing my friends doing life well last night excited and encouraged me even more. I don’t know what you will look like, but I’m more excited than ever to discover the next step and maybe create a bit more stability than one year at a time!

Fayetteville friends bringin’ perspective,

Content and anxious to figure out the next step

P.S. Suggestions for future options are welcome!