I’ve had the privilege of knowing the sweetest and wisest man over the past 5 years and his name is Mr. Ray. His name suits him in all ways because he really is a ray of light. Mr. Ray Batson just turned 90 years old this summer and he is a man who continues to live for each moment the Lord gives him. Mr. Ray was one of the last people I saw last summer before moving into college and he was one of the first I saw upon returning back home for this summer. I got to spend a lot more nights with Mr. Ray this summer watching the sun go down and sharing stories, wisdom, and prayers. Everything Mr. Ray says I want to immediately write into my pocket journal after we speak. His words leave an imprint on my heart and I believe its because the Lord works through him in beautiful ways— not because Mr. Ray is more special than anyone but because He is open and available to the Lord. He is willing and serving man of God who continues to grow in His faith and life everyday. I think the thing I admire about Mr. Ray more than anything is how much he continues to invest and how he is always seeking to learn. Recently Mr. Ray and I had a conversation about how we never stop learning. Within every season of life we enter into, there is something new to learn and that excites me. It’s a beautiful gift from the Lord that we get to grow and learn constantly and I think it is even more beautiful when we share in that together.
I think we get to see how personal of a God we have when we see how He meets us all and teaches us all in such intricate ways. For myself, this summer was so much sweeter than I expected. I’ll be honest, I thought this summer would be very hard and just one I had to make it through. Oh how wrong I was— this summer was restoring, humbling, and filled with some of my new favorite moments. I got to be back home and see home different than I’d ever seen it before. This summer I learned aI learned so much from a sweet 16 month year old baby and her excitement, curiosity, and tender love. I learned from the immense energy middle schoolers have and their eagerness to live. I learned from my little brother and the ways he cares for people, especially my 90 year old neighbor Mr. Wade who he spends every Tuesday afternoon. I learned from my mom and the ways she serves my brothers and I. I learned from my hair dresser who lives out her job with so much purpose and passion. I learned from the neighbor I passed every day walking his dog who was caring and compelling. And I learned from all my friends who obediently said yes to the Lord’s calling on their life this summer and I got to see them go, serve, and grow. I learned a little something within each interaction I was given and overtime these small gifts from the Lord compiled into something big and beautiful. That’s what has compelled me to ask more people what this summer has taught them. I can’t say it enough, each individual’s words are important. This is where we grow in unity when we grow together.
Going into the summer I prayed that God would restore to me the JOY in my salvation. Crazy I know (how could I not stand in awe of Him???), but I was struggling in finding joy in who He is. I wanted faith like a child. I wanted to be wide eyed & mystified by Jesus. This summer has be a summer of learning and laying down at the feet of Jesus. He has taught me how to have a real and genuine relationship with Him, where I continue to learn about His beautiful characteristics. When I sit and seek Him in all things I have in turn become more aware of Him in the mundane. He has taught me so much about the word community in the last three months – intentional relationships centered on Christ where our brokenness and struggles are shared and where vulnerability is welcomed and conversations are treasured. He is challenging me daily to be intentional with those I come in contact with, to hold an eternal perspective amongst believers and unbelievers & most importantly to be bold and share the truth of His word. I’m encouraged to run this race, for He has already gone before me, He will continue to be with me, and He will never leave or forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
This summer has been an amazing one. I have been in California for about 2 months now and I have fallen in love with the landscape and the people. I have been working for an independent record label. My work has challenged me in so many different areas: from writing to photoshoots. You name it and I have probably done it this summer. I have met people that are more than willing to help me out with a career out here and that is beyond exciting. It’s amazing to think about what opportunities lie ahead. To think you can have so many successes and feel on top of the world, but still something can be missing.
That is where Christ comes in. The biggest thing that I have learned this summer is how much I need Jesus and how much he is tugging at my heart to be with Him. He wants to be the center focus of my life. You can have it all together on the outside, but the inside can be crying out. Each day I continue to mess up, I forget God’s rules and I turn my back to Him. It breaks me, but with each rising sun and each new morning – I know that I can begin again..Jesus holds my heart and He is the reason that I get to pursue my dreams. I suck but He still loves, He always loves..Can’t express how thankful I am to have a sovereign Father, who knows my soul better than I know myself.
This summer has taught me to slow down, enjoy life, and live in the moment. We get so caught up in life’s many distractions, we often never take a break throughout our hectic days. God has put people, situations, and obstacles in my life that have taught me to slow down this summer. He’s been showing me that He does everything for a reason, and He’s working in incredible ways. So, if I were to take one thing away from this summer, it’s slow down… Enjoy this temporary and beautiful life, and don’t let the distractions keep you from focusing on the right things.
This summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Haiti and Dominican Republic. The two weeks I spent, one in each nation, opened my eyes tremendously. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that true contentment comes from simplicity and love. The kids I met know nothing of what we do. They don’t know what the Internet is, what luxury is. But they’re genuinely happy and that’s taught me to learn to love where I am at… Without all of the extra strings attached.
I wanted to share with you my growth this summer. I remember sorta mentioning my situation to you on my first visit to Athvegas, how I was going to serve again in the Philippines and how I was going to leave Kyle in the Philippines in July. It’s crazy to think that it’s already happened, but I wanted to share how the Lord used it and is still using it to grow me.
All summer, I found myself strangely at peace with what was about to happen. I thought the growing pains would begin the moment I left him in the Cebuano airport, but I was so completely wrong. They began the morning I got to the Atlanta airport as I began anticipating the greatest goodbye I had ever made. I found myself constantly fighting to hold back tears and it randomly hit me that these were all of the “lasts”. When we finally got there, I was so frustrated with myself. I had been at peace with it for so long and I didn’t understand what had changed. I wanted to forget myself and be there, FULLY there, for all the right reasons, and that was to spread the love of the Lord through serving. I found myself in constant prayer, asking Jesus to help me serve selflessly, with intention, to be present in the moment by forgetting myself and remembering who I was there for – not Kyle, not myself, not my relationship, but for Jesus Himself and Him alone.
I was amazed at how the Lord revealed Himself and answered these prayers. He helped me to be patient with myself and not beat myself up when I fell short, but simply return to His arms and His promised goodness. I can fully say that I served with my full self, pouring out everything I had to everyone that I met. When it came time to say goodbye, I was sad of course, but I was content with what the Lord still did in and through me even in the circumstance.
Since I’ve been home, the growing pains hurt more than ever, but I’m thankful for them because the Lord is teaching me so much. And I know, with confidence, that He is at work growing Kyle too. We’re able to grow independently while together, just not physically together. And I’m more than okay with that – I’m grateful for it. Who else gets this incredible opportunity? The Lord is reminding me everyday where my real strength comes from. I’ve learned how to deal with missing someone by pushing through growing pains patiently, being encouraged by the Lords promises all along the way. I’m learning to cling to truth and flee from Satin’s lies that are whispered more than ever. The Lord is teaching me to remember my mission, which is simply to love His people constantly as He is constantly loving me. To be present and love the present people. I’m learning that this life is a never ending pattern of change, with unsteady feelings and circumstances, but my faith is not a feeling. The only steadiness in this life is the Lord’s love and His calling – to love. And I’m clinging to it man. I cannot tell you how pumped I am to continue this growth in Athens.
What did I learn this summer.
Let me think.thinking
Jesus’ promises should be taken seriously
He goes before me and prepares away for me. I am constantly being prepared
The Word is phenomenal. Love that ish, craving it
He not only answers prayers that may have occurred years or months ago but also answers quiet desires of the heart
I can dissect so much out of each and every verse
It all was created for me, everything should lead me to worship, it’s for me, how wonderful
When I open the Bible, God isn’t talking to us, He is talking to me.
PRAYER. man oh man. PRAYER
Taking Jesus out of the equation on a lot of things makes doing that thing insane
I cannot find purpose outside of Jesus, He’s answering my prayer of dying to myself and accepting and craving full dependence on Him
Eternity IS set in my heart
I’ve gotten pretty bad at parking this summer
I’ve learned hard work and the ability my body has when slacking is not an option
Jesus loves giving me the desires of my heart
I crave, more and more each day. And that, my dear friend, is such an answered prayer
Beauty and service are THE two things that make nonbelievers look
We are participating in daily, minutely miracles. None of this should work! Jesus.
I am a mist. I do not want to waste my time as a small mist. I want God to use up every ounce of my mist. I want my mist time to be done bc my mist particles have been spread far and thin, not because my mist settled on the ground and disappeared
“Yours are the only hands with which He can do His work,
Yours are the only feet with which He can go about the world,
Yours are the only eyes through which His compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world.
Christ has no body now on Earth but yours.”
Anna Claire Flack
This summer has transformed my heart. I have been on mountain tops and valley lows (literally). I have been the happiest I have ever been but I’ve also gotten knocked down time and time again. I have cried tears of joy but also tears of brokenness. I’ve been in the presence of so many kids entering into the father’s arms but also dealt with the darkness of death. It was in those moments, good and bad, that I have seen and experienced God in a more real way than ever before. Spending a month serving at Malibu, a younglife camp in Canada, wrecked my heart and opened my eyes to so many things. I saw Jesus through so many people, found joy in doing the simplest jobs and saw beauty in the way God intended it to be. Most of all, it gave me confidence in the fact that I don’t control the path that I take at this point and even when I think I have it all figured out, God has something greater. So many times I have thought I knew what I was supposed to do and so many times I have gotten blindsided for the things that God actually wanted for me. So today it’s August 3rd and while my friends are all leaving for college and buying furniture for their rooms, I am here still not having a clue about what I’m doing with my life but what I am sure of is that God is going to use me no matter what. I can glorify him all the same no matter if I’m in Africa, Athens or Alpharetta. I’m jumping into the unknown and as confusing and scary it is, I couldn’t be more excited about it.