July 27, 2013


Every camp summer tends to focus on a theme for me.  Not necessarily the one that I expect it to be when the summer begins.  By the end, I can see how God has been weaving a thread through my life.  

For instance, I have had incredibly hard, heart wrenching summers that have taught me lessons like forgiveness.  Those are always hard summers to live through, but beautiful ones as well because I learn so much and and see God break me and destroy me only to gently put me back together again.  Those summers are life changing.  Those summers send me life lessons that I can't forget and wouldn't have learned any other way.  

"Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up."
Hosea 6:1

Then there are joyful, happy, wonderful summers.  The Lord teaches me joy and peace and love.  I look back over those summers and can do nothing but be thankful for the wonder that is the joy of His presence.  There are lots of happy memories of those particular summers.  Usually it involves a few people that have become near and dear to my soul.  I would re-live those summers in a heartbeat.  

"And I will betroth you to me forever.
I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, 
in steadfast love and in mercy.
I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.
And you shall know the Lord."
Hosea 2:19-20

I have summers where I am too focused on myself.  All I can see around me are my needs, my hurts, my problems.  Everyone else is revolving around me.  Everything and everyone fits into a place that either hurts or helps me.  Dangerous summers, those ones.  I end up at the end of the summer not learning anything because all I care about is myself.  It's so easy to do. It's much easier to care about what effects you then to worry about how you are serving others. I almost always find that at the end of summers like these, I am melancholy and discouraged. It's basically a wasted summer. 

I have such an opportunity here to learn and grow. It is completely up to me how I choose to spend my days. No matter the circumstances, my heart needs to be in the right place to hear the Lord and be open to His leading. And this is true of any time/place/experience in life. It just seems a little more intense here at camp. And maybe that's why I love it so much. I fear being complacent and lazy and staying where I am in my relationship with Jesus. Camp is a perfect place to be challenged. 

This summer's lesson is still to be determined. 3 weeks left to go. Lots can happen in 3 weeks...

July 25, 2013

Jelly fish drama

Kids freak out about jelly fish.

I know this is a strange sentence to begin a blog post, but it must be said.

I think that kids think that jelly fish are like sharks.

They hunt them.

They stalk them in the murky depths of the water.

They lurk about seeking their tiny legs and arms and fingers.

The kids are convinced that the stings from jellies are like electric shocks.  Like a taser.

The stings will render them helpless, lifeless, basically close to death.

Jellyfish do NOT stalk, seek out, nor follow people.  They lazily float along. One must walk/swim into them to be stung by them.

Their stings are annoying and hurt for 30 minutes at worst.

I try to share these facts lovingly with the kids.  About 500 times an hour.  Most of the time, it doesn't matter.  A pieces of seaweed floats against their skin and they flip out and scream that they have been stung and run onto the beach as quickly as their little legs will take them. There is hollering and wailing and one would think that their limbs have been severed.

It would be funny if they weren't so traumatized.  I do feel bad, but at times, it's hard to be compassionate with the over-reaction.

Just a brief glimpse into the life at the waterfront during summer camp.

Jelly fish drama.

It is inevitable.

July 22, 2013

online favorites

During the summer months, I spend very little time online.  

This is mostly because I still don't have reliable internet at home.

Despite the limited time, there are a few sites and apps I still check in with often.

These are my "go-to's" when I happen to get online.

1. Feedly

I read a lot of blogs.  Just love them.  They are like mini auto-biographies.  Mini-idea factories.

After the news several months ago that Google Reader was being discontinued (boo), I began looking around trying to find something that could take it's place.  After trying one or two that just didn't work for me (really didn't like Bloglovin'.  not user friendly for me.  also, the Pulse app.  it was fine, but you had to manually add all the blogs/sites you want to follow.), I started googling the best feed readers.  I saw a few people mention Feedly on various message boards and gave it a try.

Best things about Feedly, for those of you who read a lot of blogs....

I transferred my entire list of feeds from Google Reader in about 5 seconds.  I didn't have to manually add all of the sites that I follow.  Major bonus.

It's very user friendly with lots of options to set up the layout how you want it.

Beautifully designed and well maintained.

I actually started using it even before Google Reader died because I enjoyed the interface better.

2.  Twitter

Why Twitter?  Well, it's Comic Con weekend.  Duh.  I have loved getting the Nerd HQ play-by-play.  Plus, it tends to be the way I keep up with the news of the world at the moment.

3.  The Nerd Machine channel on YouTube

Nerd HQ panels stream live.  It's the next best thing to being there.  I've caught a few panels just as they started and have laughed right along with the audience that is there.  One day I hope to make it to Nerd HQ live-and-in-person.  As for now, thank you Zachary Levi for your live feeds and for the fun that is Nerd HQ for those of us who can't go.  So much fun.

4.  Amazon Cloud Player (app especially)

It's pretty much the only way I've listened to music as of late.

5.  Instagram

Because it's still my favorite social media site out there.  I'm addicted to photos. I have just passed 1,000 posts.  What?!

What apps or sites are you loving right now?  What are your go-to sites during your limited time online?

July 18, 2013

Heat wave

I am sitting on my kitchen counter with my Air on my lap, trying to get a wireless signal.

True story.

A girl has to get internet somehow, right?

It is currently 5,000 degrees outside and my shoulders are a nice dark red/brown.  That happens when my sunscreen melts off my skin by 11:00am.  Reapplication doesn't work when you have to towel off the sweat.  Yuk.

Other than those facts, it was a fine morning here.  I spent most of it IN the river to try and stay cool.  The river now has colder water than the pool.

Note:  I did not in any way say cleaner.  Ooooh, no.  That is most definitely not true.

Last night, I jumped in the pool at the end of the long day only to realize I was jumping in a giant bathtub of tepid/warm water.  How refreshing!

Today, the sand at the beach was like hot lava.  Burning, scalding, hot lava.  The kids were running around screaming, "It burns!  It burns!"  It does, kids.  I'm right there with you.

So basically we handle the heat really well around here.  We ignore all heat advisories and warnings.  We spend almost every second outside when the experts advise us to stay indoors.  We drink lots of water though.  And we take a dip (or 30) in various water contraptions (troughs, rivers, pools, hoses).

Side note:  one of the counselors was spraying the happy kids with the ice cold hose water while they were crabbing today.  They LOVED it.  Didn't catch any crabs though.

This heat wave won't stop us.  But we sure will be glad to bid it farewell at the end of this week.

A good hearty kick in the pants out the door.

Toasty warm and thankful for working air conditioning,

Cottage Girl

July 14, 2013

you must

"You should write a book."

"Really...you should."

"You could write about camp. Think of all the stories you could tell."

"You could write about your grandparents' stories.  All those letters and correspondence you have are just waiting to be turned into a book."

"You have such a talent.  You must write."

It's so nice to know that my parents believe in me.  Even when I don't think I can write a single coherent sentence.  Maybe one day.  One day, I shall be able to get these stories that I just know are swirling around in my head out

Until then, photos shall be my stories.  For they are definitely my outlet right now.  

July 10, 2013

it's for me, definitely

This is my life, you guys.
And I love it.
Children everywhere.
Children in the water everywhere.
Always wet.
Always sandy.
Always salty-water covered.

Yelling about jellyfish
Finding shells and crabs and minnows

Camp life isn't for everyone.
But it is definitely for me.
I'm so thankful that God literally threw this place in my lap 15 years ago.
My life wouldn't be complete without the impact it has had on me.

Three cheers for loving where God places you...

July 09, 2013

Time travel

I have been deep into a book that takes place during WWII.

I can't put it down.

Ever since I was a little kid, I would get lost in the stories I read.
The characters would haunt my thoughts.
I would read for hours on end and not be able to get the story out of my head until it was all over.
And even after it was over, a good story would stick with me for days/weeks/months.
I would find myself starting to pray for the characters before laughing and realizing that they weren't real.

This story is real though.
And some of the things in the story, I don't think I'll ever forget.
It's almost too crazy to be real.
And it so well written that I find myself reading way too late into the night.

Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII.
My maternal grandmother was a war bride, coming to America after she had married my grandfather.
I think part of the fascination of the story, besides how absolutely enthralling it is, is hearing about what the world was like when my grandparents were my age, or actually, probably a little bit younger.
How different their world was.
How scary those times must have been.

Also, I have been watching Australia again, which I loved even though I know many people did not.  Baz is a great story teller in my opinion.  Anyway, it is also a WWII story.  I'm surrounded.

I've found myself several times looking up from the screen or the "page" (Kindle) and doing a double take to realize it's 2013 and there aren't bombers or ladies in beautiful 40's dresses (Nicole Kidman's entire wardrobe in Australia...hello?!)

Getting lost in a story is one of the best things in the world, is it not?

July 06, 2013

24 hours off

(sometimes I can't stop staring at the clouds, especially when they look like this)

I don't have much time online these days.

Mostly because I don't have internet at home and leaving the property (camp) during the week proves challenging sometimes.  I haven't left since last Sunday.  Today is Saturday.  Almost an entire week.  Nice.

Anyway, I read this post the other day when it popped up in my Twitter feed.  It was too good not to share. Such beautiful sentiment.  I especially loved this part:

"It's all about realizing - Love doesn't happen when you arrive in a certain place.  
It happens when your heart arrives in a certain place - wherever you are,
right where you are, dirt road Africa or side street America."
-Ann Voskamp

I also (finally) finished Searching For God Knows What.  Loved the last chapter so much.  He was paralleling the Romeo and Juliet with the love of Christ with the Church.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.  And now I want to watch Luhrmann's version, which is my absolute favorite.  

Lastly, been loving reading through the parables in Matthew right now.  I've realized, in the last few years, how I am so much like those people that Jesus was sharing the stories with.  I learn through stories.  I see through characters.  Our Savior was creative and artistic.  He used stories and laughter and miracles to teach life changing lessons.  He knew it would be hard for us to listen to a list of rules and do's and don'ts.  I'm just starting to understand how beautiful that is.  

Now, we are all taking a deep breath and relishing in an entire day off tomorrow.  Twenty-four hours.  I can't even...wow.  We have 3 weeks completed.  It's hard to believe.