Exactly two years ago today I was boarding a bus with my Youth group to attend the Challenge Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Today, I am boarding a bus heading to the same conference- although this time it's in Columbus, Ohio and I am in an entirely different place in my life now than I was then. On my first trip to Challenge, I was 14 years old, hadn't started High School yet, I didn't think too much about boys, hadn't been persecuted for my faith before, wasn't serious about my faith at all, and just didn't know what it was to be in High School and how emotionally hard it was. That first year of Challenge I learned to make my faith my own. And with that not just a PART of my life, but my WHOLE life. After leaving Challenge, I was on fire for God. I began to take my faith seriously and became a more Godly person. Although it didn't fade completely, the fire that I first felt after leaving the conference faded substantially, and while I was still a Christian and still growing, I had definitely back-slid. I think that's why I'm so excited to see what God has in store for me this year. Now I will board the bus being half-way done with High School, Having dealt with having a boyfriend and believing the lies teenage boys can tell sometimes, Being persecuted for my faith, Having friend problems, and having gone on 2 mission trips. I pray that this year at Challenge I deepen my faith and surrender my WHOLE entire life to God, and not hold on to the parts I don't want to give him control over.
I left for the week worried that I wouldn't have cell phone service or that I'd miss my friends and family too much, but little did I know I would come away from it having learned a lesson about God's love for us. Each worker was assigned one child that they could be praying for and to look after for the week. I was given Spencer, who will be 6 months old in a few days. My first night of caring for him I was absolutely frustrated. He wouldn't stop crying for the whole four hours I was with him, and woke up many of the other babies causing an uproar. I left that night frustrated and discouraged- wanting to go home. But the next time I saw him all was better. He was a happy, adorable baby who could light up a room with his big brown eyes and his little smile. I enjoyed every single moment I got to spend with him. The last night of Child care, Spencer was having trouble falling asleep so I put him in his stroller and set off for a walk throughout the dark, quiet camp. Once he was asleep, I took him out of his stroller, sat down at the back of the Child Care building and let him sleep in my arms. As I looked down at his sweet little face I couldn't hold back the tears. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with a love for him that I still can't really explain. That little sweet baby didn't have anything to offer me, He'd even spit up on me a couple of times and produced some disgusting diapers. Yet I sat there, listening to the crickets chirp in the background, feeling so much love for that baby boy. Thats kind of how I view God's love for us. We can't give him anything at all- he can provide everything he needs for himself, but yet he loves us. Like Spencer spit up on me, we throw our sin at God and he patiently cleans it up and keeps on loving us.
I'm so glad I attented Camp this past week. I learned a valuable lesson about how much God loves me, and met little Spencer and his sweet Mom Renee.