Letter #670: Summer 2014


Dear summer,

I have no idea how you fly by so quickly, but here we are and you’re over yet again.

You are absolute madness in my life. Madness in the best way possible.

For three and a half months I live in a cabin on a lake surrounded by college students and middle school campers.

It’s absolutely insane.

12 teenagers combined to live under one roof with a couple of college students serving as mom, dad, friend, coach, counselor, disciplinarian, pastor and so much more.

Kampers learning new and improving in old sports and activities, conquering fears at the ropes course and blob tower, developing confidence in self and the ability to make friends all while having the time of their lives just getting to be kids.

Staff living life selflessly, most of which for the first time life’s not all about them, as they try to love, protect and help restore 13 years of damage all while wrestling with their own confidence and identity issues.

And somehow somebody thought it was a good idea for me to oversee this operation.

I can’t even begin to put summer into words. What the Lord does in hearts at kamp is impossible to fully explain. The world is secondary, distractions are few, people are priority and truth and the Gospel are king.

God is no different on the pea gravel of Lampe, MO than He is anywhere else, but life is just simple there. Space is created for people to hear and see the Lord do what only He can do because we are expectant and believe He will.

And He does and lives are changed for eternity. Not because of Kanakuk. Not because of the people. Lives are changed because people run smack into the truth of Jesus.

Every year you end, I look back blown away by how the Lord chose to show up. This year I may be more thankful than ever.

The Lord did more than I could have ever even imagined at every level. Kampers. Staff. My own heart. Thankful that He alone deserves the glory because I can’t even begin to take credit for the stories I watched happen and the lessons I learned.

Are you insane? Of course. Are you hard? YES. Are you worth it? Absolutely.

Cheers to another great one of you,


Letter #619: Reason to Celebrate!!!

Dear celebrations,

You are fun. I mean seriously, who doesn’t love you?! Birthdays. Christmas. Christmas in July. New jobs. Engagements. Pregnancy. Finishing a major project or passing a huge test. I’m convinced people simply make up holidays so we can have more of you!

Celebrating is fun. It allows us to focus on the positives and breathe in the midst of life that is honestly just hard sometimes. So we celebrate.

Last week, I had reason to celebrate like I’ve never had reason before. You see, four years ago I started a program called the Kanakuk Institute. During my senior year at OSU I decided a year committed to laying a biblical foundation in my life was the post-grad route I would pursue. One of the most fun and life-changing decisions of my life.

While I knew this was where I was going, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to foot the bill. In the Rother household, you get four years of college. Make the most of them because they’re on you after that. It was my choice what I did post college, but I was also responsible for my own financial status. I’d already made up my mind, but paying for this program outright wasn’t an option.

The Institute offers opportunities to get masters’ degrees on top of the biblical components, and for lots of reasons I chose this route as well. Thus, I pursued student loan options to financially make this decision possible. I was 22 trying to navigate waters I’d never even laid eyes on before, so naturally I called Papa Roth in for advice.

Now this is where we need some backstory. Mama and Papa Roth have always been supportive of me, but they also made their opinions very known through college about my need to pursue grown up internships instead of working at camp and getting a real job rather than postponing it for another year. I appreciated and processed their advice, but it didn’t stop me. This being said, my parents were supportive of me attending the Kanakuk Institute, but they would much rather see me get a job.

Out of left field, Papa Roth graciously offered to front me the money to pursue the path I’d chosen rather than paying interest on a loan. My folks would be my loan officers with no interest. What?!?! I wish words could describe this moment”…they can’t. I will say that I watched God’s hand move mountains in this situation”…mountains I’m still seeing the whys of their movement. Also, I must note that my parents are huge advocates of my life choice now.

So they fronted me the money. I attended the Institute where I laid a foundation I will build on for the rest of my life. It was also a year worth every penny I paid as well as every penny I lost not having a real job for the year. It’s something I recommend everyone at least considering. I graduated in April 2010, worked at K-West that summer and started working full time for Kanakuk Kamps in September. In October of 2010, two months into my first big kid job, I paid off the first $50 toward an $18,000 debt. Talk about starting small! Every month, I made a payment. I was committed to making sure my folks knew I never took advantage of them. You see, I was an intern being paid hourly that first year. My take home in an entire year wasn’t much different than the debt I owed. This was going to be something I had to work toward over time, but I knew I had to start somewhere.

It was a priority. It was a line in my monthly budget. After the first couple months I got my payment up to $200 each month. Never less. Sometimes more. I always tithed first. Paid my bills second. Put money in savings third. Then everything extra went toward my debt. I wanted it eliminated. I always wanted my parents to know my gratitude. Finally, I didn’t want to be a slave to any lender, even my dad.

So I chipped away. $50 led to $250 which led to $1,000. Oh, this was a milestone, but I had 17 more milestones to go.

By the end of 2011, I had paid 25% off. Another milestone. Put six grand into it in 2012. I was up to 58%. Which brings me to one of my 2013 goals. In January I committed to paying of the rest of my loan in no more than 14 months…that was 42% or $7,450.

I am here to tell you that this month we have reason to celebrate”…August 2013, six months earlier than projected: I wrote my last debt check to my parents ever!!!!!!!!! I am officially debt free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll write again about how I made small tweaks to my lifestyle so I could have enough extra to pay this debt off. The one thing I would say is that a choice has to be made to execute something like this. And honestly not just one choice, but daily choices. I don’t make much money, so to be able to pay $18,000 off in debt in less than three years is definitely something to celebrate!

Friends, be encouraged by this. Be challenged by it. But most importantly, join me in the greatest financial celebration of my life! I know Dave Ramsey would be proud!

Dreaming what my financial state will look like now that this budget line is no more,

Debt free celebrator

Letter #563: Kanakuk Konnections

Dear Kanakuk,

For seven years now, you’ve played a huge role in my life. After starting my employment after my freshman year, I’m now in the midst of my third year as a fulltime employee of you.

Your role in my life has evolved immensely, but I continue to be thankful for the various roles you’ve played over time. Summer one was as eye-opening as they come. I had no idea what it looked like to be sold out in my walk with the Lord. For the first time I grasped what it looked like to have the Lord at the center of every area of my life rather than just part of it. Thankfully my co-counselor was solid because I was an absolute idiot! Summer two I learned to be behind the scenes after I on the whim committed to being a cook for a month after my time as a counselor was up.

My third summer was unbelievable on so many levels. I ran our kitchen and at 21 years old I was responsible for 15 college students and 350 kids eating three times a day. Holy smokes, more lessons learned here than I ever could’ve imagined. I learned a ton about how to lead, was humbled beyond belief and worked harder than I ever had in my life. The Lord rocked my world through the dining hall and allowed me to rest in His adequacy showing up in the midst of my inadequacy. As a college graduate preparing to attend the Kanakuk Institute, summer four presented whole new opportunities to lead as I shifted into being the athletic director.

Summer five I watched the Lord’s hand explain why I turned down fulltime jobs at the end of the Institute to come back for another summer. I wrestled through future plans while learning to remain faithful with what’s directly in front of me.  After praying through my future all summer, I was offered a fulltime position twelve days before summer ended. So stinkin’ fun to see the Lord’s plan unveil itself. Year one of the real world was really fun, but I was also completely clueless! First real job, new town, bills to pay, deadlines to meet, traveling to accomplish”…let’s just say it was a year of learning!

My sixth summer was the first one I was a fulltime employee for and it was really difficult. I struggled with internal issues concerning pride and understanding my role, but it was still such a good summer of growth and investment. Second year of being fulltime in the “offseason’ was far better. I knew what to expect, was able to do a better job and was all-around more confident and capable. This led to last summer, the summer I’d describe as fun. I had the chance to lead in even bigger ways and got to implement a number of summer improvements I worked on all year long.

Seven years later you’ve taught me so much. From the way I engage people to the way I lead to the way I walk with the Lord personally, my life will never be the same. As I travel the country interviewing staff to prepare you for another great summer, I’m reminded of the impact you have on lives. Starting with me, I am reminded of the impact the Lord has on lives through you.

You play a neat role in staff’s lives every year, but the Lord also uses you to change kamper’s lives. Last week I had the chance to see a really fun story unveil before my eyes. See how the Lord used you, Twitter (#getlizzytokamp) and shameless youth to change a college freshman’s life. The Kanakuk blog captured the story here, and I’m quoted in it”…I’m famous!!! To make the story even more fun…she’s also a Kappa Delta!!

Kappa Delta rolled out hard for the Kanakuk show!!! Also, I think this might be the first time I agreeably took a picture making letters with my hands…how do you tell a bunch of 19 year olds no?!



Thankful for how you’ve developed me over the years, for how the Lord uses this place to transform both kids and staff and for getting to be part of it all,

Believer in the value of Kanakuk

Letter #483: Institute Reunion

Dear reunion,

A week ago today about 25% of my 2010 Kanakuk Institute class made the trek back to Branson for the Institute’s ten year of you.There were a ton of things I took for granted about my year at the Institute, but any time a group of my classmates are together I quickly remember that the people wasn’t one of them. I may not see or even talk to each of these people daily, weekly or even monthly, but there is still a sweet bond between each of us that will never be broken.

Thankful for a weekend full of laughing until I cried and my insides hurt, walks down memory lane with the creation of new one too, genuine, real and honest conversations, a bit of teaching from the staff and simply the opportunity to spend time with my friends again because we’ll never all live in the same place again. Thanks for showing up guys!

Let’s do it again in five years,

Reunion lover

Letter #401: Kanakuk Staff

Dear staff,

I’ve been traveling the country for seven of the last eight weeks scouring college campuses for more of you. I’ve met some great people along the way. You’ll like them. The crazy thing is any one of them could work alongside you in the kitchen or office, be your co-counselor, document summer 2012 through a lens, run maintenance beside you and end up being some of your really good friends!

It’s sure been fun seeing many of you in “real life’ along the way. Not that camp is fake, but spending time with you guys outside the gates of K-West is legitimately my favorite part of traveling. It’s unbelievable to see many of you boldly walking out your faith on your campus and making a difference. It’s also fun seeing into your worlds…meet your friends, see your dorms, hear your struggles. Most importantly, time with you is just a blast! It’s honestly ridiculous how much fun I have with you on your campuses!

All this being said in the midst of interviewing potential you at college shows, I’ve had the chance to do some family shows as well. This means I go into a current camp family’s home where they’ve invited friends over to hear about Kanakuk. I love college shows, but I also love family shows. Getting to reconnect with or meet campers from other camps is unreal.

There are several great things about a family show, but the best part is being reminded of you guys. Sure, campers and their parents love camp directors, but we aren’t who they come home from camp talking about. They love the blob and aquaskippers, but the stories campers share are how they learned to aquaskip with a really cool Baylor girl or that they beat the coolest guy they’ve ever met in frisbee golf from Auburn. Every story shared is about you. The parents dote on you and the impact you’ve had on their children. You have no idea how much of an impact you made and are making on these kids…heck, their whole family. It’s easy to get back into the routine of school, football, date parties and friends and forget about what happened this summer. I just wanted to remind you how much you impacted lives for the kingdom through a little place in Lampe, MO.

Thank you for giving your time and summer to serve at camp this summer. Thanks for impacting kids for Christ because you seek Him first. Don’t forget this summer. Don’t forget to put God first daily and not just at camp. Don’t forget your kids. Every single kid I’ve seen mentions the year round contact they get to have with staff. Be the college guy or girl that remembers to check in and say hey. You have no idea how much the simplest of gestures means to these guys.

All that being said, I continue to be amazed by the people the Lord brings to Kanakuk each summer. You guys are some of the coolest, most fun, passionate, Christ-centered people I know. Continue to let the Lord use you. Who cares if you’re young. You are adequate in Christ. Oh and guess what?! It’s almost Thanksgiving…you’re about to get a break from school!!!!!

Take care and start thinking about what summer 2012 is going to look like for you. We’d sure love to see you back in Lampe, but regardless of where you end up do something that matters. Heck, do something that matters now.

Daily amazed by the folks who come to work at Kanakuk Kamps,

Just a girl blessed to get to work with you

Letter #374: Where’s Next?!

Dear trail,

The first 15 days we spent together were an absolute blast. I can’t think of a better way to have started this year’s traveling. Before that stint of you was said and done, I spent significant time in five different states and drove through at least three more. Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. I don’t even want to begin calculating the number of hours I spent in a van! Regardless you were a blast, and I’m excited to tackle more adventures on you.

Today’s my last day in Branson after a week off from the road. I pick you back up tomorrow. Laundry, school, friends and OSU football will be at the top of my list of things to complete today. Tomorrow I head out on you again. The question is where do I get to go next?! Well, I’m here to tell you…

  • Oct. 17-21st: St. Louis (family shows and I think I’ll interview at St. Louis University and Greenville College the 18th and 22nd respectively)
  • Oct. 22nd: Branson
  • Oct. 23rd: University of Tennessee
  • Oct. 24th: Tennessee Tech
  • Oct. 25th: Carson Newman
  • Oct. 26th: Lee University
  • Oct. 27th: Covenant College

Here’s the glimpse into our next two weeks. Lots of people I’m excited to see and tons of adventure calling my name. You sure do make my life exciting and fun.

Go Pokes,
Professional Traveler
P.S. What do I need to do while I’m in St. Louis?! I’ve never spent time there and am excited to experience it first hand! World Series game?!?!

Letter #356: Trail Beginnings…

Dear trail,

It’s time to release our traveling schedule again. Where oh where will my travels take me this year? Well, for now I’ll divulge my first two weeks. Based on these places and even more the people I’ll get to spend time with at these places, we’re going to be off to a good start this year!

I had the choice of going to interview at either A&M/Baylor or OSU/OU for my first week out. Seriously, what a choice. Of course my loyalties lie in Oklahoma, but probably 40% of K-West’s staff goes to school in Texas. I was hardcore struggling to decide, but then my scheming side took over. I realized OSU played at A&M this past weekend. The second this hit me I started dreaming up possibilities. What if I flew down early and could make it to the game? I let the idea stew for a bit, ran it by Beth, my director, and she thought it was awesome. The second she told me I wasn’t crazy for thinking up this scheme, I took it more seriously. After a few conversations with A&M friends, we decided it was doable. I found a flight; they graciously found me a ticket; here I am in College Station having a blast! The rest of my team will arrive Wednesday to interview staff and begin trail for real! This explains my huge stint in College Station and my 15 day journey!

  • Sept. 23-28th: Texas A&M
  • Sept. 29th: Baylor
  • Sept. 30th: Dallas Kanakuk Staff Reunion (Watermark Church, 8-11 p.m., be there!)
  • Hang in Dallas with friends
  • Oct. 3rd: Auburn
  • Oct. 4th: Samford
  • Oct. 5-7th: Catalyst Conference, Atlanta (I’ve heard raving reviews about this guy and am stoked to see what it’s all about. And Dave Ramsey’s one of the speakers!!!!)

So there you have it. The first two weeks of you look to be an adventure filled with fun reunions, meaningful conversations and unforgettable memories. In the midst of all this, I’ll be praying for three specific things: discernment and direction while interviewing; purposeful and intentional time with friends/staff; refinement and growth in my walk with the Lord in the midst of my crazy schedule.

On the road again,

Texas, Alabama and Georgia visitor

Letter #353: Traveling Gypsie


Dear traveling,

So you begin. It’s crazy that it’s that time of year again, but I’m stoked. You are my favorite part of my job in the fall. Good thing. If you weren’t I’d be one miserable girl! Especially considering my first stint out is for 15 days!

Let me explain. I work for Kanakuk Kamps. We’re a Christian, sports camp whose mission is to develop dynamic Christian leaders through life-changing experiences, godly relationships and spiritual training. In order for this to happen, we must have campers coming to camp as well as staff to make camp happen. Thus, we have winter trail where all the directors travel the country interviewing staff and telling families about Kanakuk.

I am lucky enough to get to be part of winter trail and because I’m single and childless I spend LOTS of time on the road. Like 10 plus weeks. At this stage in my life, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Living out of a suitcase and sleeping in a different place every night doesn’t stress me out in the least. Getting to see friends, campers and interview along the way excites me. The trickiest and most dreadful part for me is packing. Packing for 15 days with temperatures varying from 45-95 degrees and activities from tailgating and football games to work engagements and a conference…strategy is necessary. Based on the above picture, I’m not sure how much strategy occurred!

After lots of laundry and finally just selling out to finishing, I’m packed and ready to go. Flight leaves at 1:15, and I’m College Station bound! I’ll detail my adventure more in a later post, but for now all you need to know is I’ll be wearing orange amongst the Aggies!

So it begins,

Traveling gypsie

P.S. Happy First Day of Fall to the best readers in the world!

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

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