unexpected encouragement

i was walking with susan towards her cabin to grab some laundry of hers because tomorrow she flies straight to crooked creek for young life camp until saturday.

russell (6’9, shaved bald, big+tall man) starts hollering my name. he’s always in gym shorts with his mountain smith bag over his shoulder.

“emma, copy, emma.”

i pause in my tracks and my thoughts for half a second.

i’m off today. no, russell, i don’t have my radio. reality check here: guest services is always on. you aren’t “on” or “off” in loving jesus. lay down your life to serve him well in this moment. you don’t have anywhere to be. you are being selfish. listen to him and take a breath.

i greet russell and my sinful, selfish mind thinks.. what does he want ME to do for HIM?

he starts telling me about yesterday morning in chalk talk.. the assign team was talking about god sightings and i was one of the main ones they talked about. how i always serve with joy, how nothing anyone asks me seems impossible + that i’m overly willing to serve them, how i have kindness that radiates from me, how it is evident how i love christ and that i take my faith seriously, that my attitude is always so upbeat. i don’t always serve as good as i could. how are my actions perceived differently than they feel to me? how did i almost miss this moment? thank you jesus for stopping me.

the holy spirit is at work. christ gets all the glory. sometimes when i am upbeat, i am frustrated that someone hasn’t radioed me sooner about something that needs to get done. so i walk to do what i need to with a prissy attitude, but then i breathe it out and breathe in christ. i get over it before anyone knows i was frustrated.

this is more for me to remember when i feel inadequate at my job. not to brag about how great i am, because most days i walk away thinking.. i could have done better. i could have not snapped. i could have loved and invested more. i need to give myself grace and receive the grace that christ offers me everyday. listening to john wood’s sermon on “the grace in which we stand” recentered me today.i seek to remember that it’s more about the godliness of my character than it is about the success of my day. i hope that this points you towards christ since sometimes jesus is seen in you in a much bigger way than even you can comprehend yourself.


a glimpse of southwind idol

BEWARE: (i’m serious) the volume needs to be turned down. everyone is screaming and cheering for their friends. so much so i don’t know if you can even hear taylor swift playing. just seeing it will move you and make you smile.

note: that’s my friend (the only boy on stage) crept his way

up there with a cabin of ladies. he was loving life!

the next night he was really upset

that he couldn’t go to princess night.

finally, christopher williams convinced him

to go to pirate meal. it was precious.


[vimeo http://vimeo.com/25565980]

winter park

brick roads, cool shops, even cooler farmer’s market.

winter park, florida. home of the lovely davey olsen. a dear friend of andrew’s from wilderness. she teaches middle school in WP. loves jesus wildly. reminds me of mary fran – for all you knoxville folks. i drove down yesterday to meet her and erin (josh’s girlfriend/my new favorite friend) to go to the farmer’s market, eat some lunch, and stroll around an art gallery.

we met at davey’s house then ventured over to the farmer’s market. every single saturday the farmer’s market is open. knoxville needs to catch onto this! we strolled between rows and rows of  rose bushes, ferns, and lots of other plants i don’t know the names of. sampled homemade raw cheeses. tasted local coffee, kettle corn, and admired the fruit stand from afar bc it was so crowded. we walked over to park avenue, walked along the store fronts. the first picture is of park avenue. sass-a-fras is where i made my first purchase: sweet tea candies

i’ll admit this: they taste exactly like arizona southern sweet tea out of a can. but, it’s warm since it’s on your tongue. so i’ve decided to refrigerate them. alas, they’ll be refreshing on a hot day. good find. don’t know where else i’ll find these when i run out though!

we ate at this funky little mexican restaurant. i don’t even remember the name. when trains go by, they ring a bell for everyone to take shots. we didn’t do that. but we had some awesome guacamole. good for my soul, food is. had the best conversation about having challenging people in our lives. pushing us to the gospel and asking questions about our souls. we all desire that in our hearts but don’t have it. we agreed to help be those people this summer for one another. i feel blessed to have godly women around me here that desire the same things i do. we had all been processing it separately all week, then the conversation just came up. thank you holy spirit. we talked about davey’s trip to africa in a few weeks. she’s going with young life expeditions to tanzania – to hike mount kilamanjaro! i love mexican food, so i could have just stayed there longer and eaten more. and to have real + good sweet tea. i drank like 4 glasses of it. overboard i know.

we then went to the morse museum. cost: one dollar. couldn’t believe that. it’s because i’m a student, but nonetheless, a dollar. and i loved it. louis comfort tiffany is the focus of this museum. he is the tiffany of tiffany&co. as in the jew-ree man. looked at a book full of sketches of his jewelry he sold in the early 1900s and it was so interesting. he was an organized man. oh and side note: while we were at the museum i bet 60 senior citizens were having a community outing with their nursing home. precious. i felt super young. the three of us laughed that we would be somewhere only old people would be on an afternoon in florida.

this is a chapel he built to showcase his glass works. literally, no church services held, no weddings here. just for show. he was rich. obviously. it looks big in this picture but really it isn’t big at all. just tall and extravagant. everything in that room has glass in it except the floor and the wooden pews. it’s beautiful and stunning. so much time put into building something like this. the parts of this chapel were scattered across museums for a while but the morse has since collected them all and put them back together. only the two candle sticks on the sides of the pulpit aren’t original.
glass was as much tiffany’s thing as jewelry was. i never knew. here’s a little background that is so interesting to me. tiffany would construct a full painting of what he wanted the stain glass to look like. he would then tell his hundreds of chemists on staff (i want this job) to mix colors into the glass that match his painting of the work. before this, artists had been piecing glass together then painting on top of it, but tiffany wanted it to be imbedded in the glass. so each pane of glass is unique. even within the section of blues in the picture above… no blue piece is the same. i love that. totally unique. irreplaceable. as the guide told the oldies this, they told him they’d soldered together glass like this in their community groups at the nursing home. precious.

the museum also houses a make-shift replica of tiffany’s home that was on long island, new york. how this all ended up in winter park? one friend of his that learned under him in an art institute that lived in winter park. after tiffany died, he decided to collect all of his works and compile them in one place.

we went back to davey’s and talked and just sat inside while this major storm rolled through. erin and i left davey’s, but i decided i wanted some alone time, so i went to palmano’s. got a blackberry sweet tea and i was in heaven.

read my bible and relaxed under their porch as it continued to rain most of the day.

this place is a wine bar, coffee shop, and lunch stop. loved it. i plan on going back soon! it was a really great day out of ocklawaha. made a pit stop on the way home at target to look for a baby gift for trey + katie who had their baby yesterday!

levi charles nichols

i bought him a pocket-t. it’s navy-stripped with burnt orange cap sleeves. he’ll be so cute.

today i slept in! felt so good. am planning on listening to a sermon and maybe getting some sun this afternoon. i plan on keeping this day my sabbath to sit and relax and do life-giving things. happy sunday to you all.

at work

the fact that it is seventy-nine degrees here is unbelievable. this afternoon it was 91 degrees with a heat index of 97 degrses. whew-eee. too hot. my hair can’t take it. literally, someone told me my hair was frizzy and could i fix it. humidity could bust up a girl’s confidence, but messy is the way i roll these days, so i just let it go.

i’m currently at work.. it’s a slow night. video chatted with mal earlier. (i hope josh doesn’t read this.) i’m thankful to have only gotten a few calls tonight. for super glue. for a box fan. for some extra mattresses. got to spend some time with mattie tonight. she is a leader this week with her capernaum girls, so she isn’t around in her normal capacity.

I HAVE TWO DAYS OFF IN A ROW STARTING TOMORROW. i can’t wait to share what i will be doing tomorrow. got some lovely friends to hang out with and i will be driving to winter park for the first time. i’m really thankful to be getting out of camp and for a good while. it will also be good to spend time with people i don’t see everyday. i also am going to go to church on sunday. thankful for that.

happy weekend folks.

i actually have one for the first time in over a month.

capernaum: take one

so much has happened in the past three days that i don’t know where to begin.

DAY ONE: arrivals

we started the day out with lunch and an all camp meeting. here is a picture of andrew, the speaker, on the stage in the marina (our club room). for all you visual people out there. speaking the gospel for him is just like breathing. it comes out of his mouth so naturally and so often. it’s a blessing to have him around.

everyone was so excited to be here. i have never experienced a capernaum week, so the joy, the rawness, and the reality that these kids are more themselves than i am sometimes was just beginning to be revealed to me. it poured down rain for most of the welcome. i don’t mean like-it’s-raining-and-let’s-go-play-in-it rain. i mean walk-outside-and-in-two-seconds-you’ll-be-drenched-in-this-not-fun-falling-hard rain.

DAY TWO: wiffle ball event and ambulance calls

where do i begin? seriously. you won’t believe all that this day holds. it’s daunting to me to even try to think about what to write down. let’s begin with the wiffle ball event – it was beyond hot. i wore grey. bad decision. i had a sweat baby (sweaty stomach showing through my grey shirt) all day long. at one point, i was using towels to wipe off my whole body in the bathroom because i was so sweaty and my shirt wouldn’t soak up anymore sweat. gross i know. i’m being vulnerable here. i get a radio call to pick a girl up after the wiffle ball event and take her to the infirmary. for privacy and liability purposes (thanks young life) let’s call my friend anna… she is 19 years old and from midland, texas. she is beautiful with long flowing brown hair. i wish my hair was that long. she has down syndrome. anna got a little heated during the day’s activities, so she needed to be checked out. took her to the infirmary. drank some water. had some cool rags on her. someone went to find her leader. i kept talking with her. she was shy, but she told me her favorite color, that she had pets (wouldn’t tell me their names), and that she loved her new capernaum t-shirt all the campers got. erin, her leader, came. we tried to leave. she started to collapse again. so we sat her back down. after a while. we leave again. me driving the cart, erin on the other side of her, and anna in the middle. we make it into her cabin and almost into her room – she drops to the floor. erin and i catch her. we lower her down. her eyes kind of roll in the back of her head. erin and i look at each other. woah, she asks me what to do. i say i don’t know let’s keep her sitting up and talking to us and i’ll radio john (the emt). in between my radio call and him arriving. she almost starts to seize. we lay her down to let her body go it’s own way. her back arches. her eyes never close, but she can’t see us. since she’s gone to the floor there is no verbal response. i am talking to her. i am rubbing her arm. nothing. her eyes move sometimes. erin is tearing up. john gets there. erin and i step away to pray together. she is really crying at this point. quickly we decide to call 911. erin says anna is dramatic and never this quiet. she is only on birth control and has no history of any medical issues. this is erin’s first capernaum trip experience. while waiting on the medics, anna gets a little worse. we clear the radio of all communication. we cover anna with cold towels. she is hot. we clear the bus loop. a head leader and i go to get her health form from the office for the 911 responders. we find the trip leader. we  are jetting all over camp preparing for what’s next. what is next? will she be ok? john asks for his paramedic bags out of the infirmary. how did i get in the middle of this? i am not equipped. the firetruck gets in. the ambulance not too far behind. they roll her out. give her oxygen. she’s gotten better. she’s smiling at all the firemen around her. of course she is! she waves goodbye to me. she continues to have episodes even now at the hospital, but she is stable. we pray after she leaves.

then, a work crew boy somehow ends up in an ambulance on his way to the hospital. same paramedics respond. at this point we are beginning to be friends. it’s only four o’clock at this point. whew. we are also getting the hang of responding as property staff to medical emergencies. he spends the night. we pray after he leaves.

amidst the dance through the ages, a friend, let’s call him michael, has a seizure. work crew and summer staff are blocking him off from everyone else. johnny and i get the firetruck and ambulance back towards the marina. we are friends. i hand them two copies of the health form. i know the routine now. we pray after he leaves. he had another one this morning and has since returned. i saw him at southwind idol tonight. jolly as can be. he loves water. to drink it. to roll around in it. to splash any and every puzzle.

DAY THREE: a day by the pool

i slept til noon today. it’s my day off this week. i decided i would hang around camp. best decision i made in a while. ate some lunch. then went to change to read by the pool and relax. thought i’d probably talk to some campers because they are SO outgoing. it shocks me. i love it. no one is a stranger. they want to know and to remember your name. why are you here? how old are you? where are you from? do you have any siblings? i kept trying to read one thousand gifts, but was drawn into the campers. a girl came beside me and talked to me for a long time about “what’s next?” “what are you doing next?” “what am i doing next?” – her sweet leader was like “honey, let’s leave this girl alone with her book.” tonight that same girl saw me and came up to me and held my hand for about 5 seconds, smiled, and walked away. pure joy just radiating from her. what if i lived that way? her actions spoke louder than the words she didn’t say. we connected through so little. another friend, a boy this time, came and laid in the chair next to me. i had one knee bent and one straight out. he kept trying to position himself like me. we chatted for a while. how many times he went down the slide. what was his favorite part of the week. where he was from. who knew later in the day i’d be riding the slide with him. precious boy he is. let’s call him chris.
distractions got the best of me so i went over to the lifeguards to stick my feet in the water and talk to them for a minute. a minute lasted 4 hours. i met a friend who introduced himself to me as “troy.” as in troy from high school musical. we sang high school musical songs all afternoon. he would call me momma. he flirted. he pushed me in the pool. we arm wrestled. i taught him how to arm wrestle and then he won. he didn’t understand he needed to pin my hand down. he was playing the opposite game. it was funny. he would burp and we would teach him to say excuse me. his leader convinced him to let him push troy in the pool. so he did. troy couldn’t swim. jeff saw this and dove down quicker than i realized as i had already gone down to get him back up to the top. scared jeff and i big time. the lifeguards didn’t know what had hit them. it happened so quick. troy came up laughing and all jolly. typical. he didn’t even care. shoo wee, jeff and i just looked at each other like oh my goodness. then, my friend, we’ll call him jim, began a splashing game. below is his picture. he’d jump off the diving board towards where i was seated and just drench me. belly flop. cannonball. can opener. you name it, he did it. i loved it. he’d come up out of the water laughing and so full of life. he did about 5 rounds of splashing, then jeff came out and we all headed to the slide. me, jeff, jim, chris, and some other friends. i’ve seriously never seen anyone fly down the slide the way chris did. i’m convinced that boys’ bare backs make them go so fast.

nannie came out after work – so fun. we slid a time or once, actually. lots of laughing and playing with our new friends! i loved this time because we don’t get too much time together. our schedules are pretty opposite of one another’s. thankful for that time with her. this will be a good memory to have with us.

i want to tell you all about southwind idol and how precious it was. that’ll be a post for another day. big things are happening this week down at southwind. christ is working as much in my heart as he is in these campers. sometimes i forget that. how could i? he is so big. so powerful. so sovereign. so caring.

susan comes in a few days! so excited. as does the zach carson. some familiar faces. that will be a blessing. i’m thankful we have another week of capernaum after this one. truly.

thanks for caring,



my days are so full of conversations. short. long. over the radio. texting. in person. through the phone. with skype. my personal favorite, g-chat. josh and i got to talk while we made more trophies. something about being in the woodshop – – bonding conversations over drilling wood, finding the right screw, spray painting, it just happens.

we talked frontier, mutual friends, guest services stuff, life, love, all of it. i feel so blessed to not only be learning guest services under someone whose heart to care for others is matched by an ability to serve them so well, but who is a dear friend who cares for me and my heart well. he encouraged me in how i’m doing in guest services and he pours truth into me about scripture, the gospel, and just me as the woman of christ i am.

as i felt cared for and loved well by joshua, i also felt so loved by jeff today. i was frustrated for a small, petty reason. someone took the GS golf cart and i needed it.. i was setting up southwind idol in the club room and jeff was in there. he just up and left in the middle of our conversation and i already had a short fuse so i just thought to myself: figures, what is everyone’s deal tonight? he had gone and gotten the cart and brought it to the club room, so i’d have it when i got down with setting up. i was in shock and awe. thankfulness was abounding. i’ve had lots of conversations with people about how we can love one another while at work. what does that look like for each of us as individuals? serving. verbally affirming. giving gifts. being patient. showering someone with thankfulness. jeff most certainly served me well. 

tomorrow, a sweet friend, davey, is coming from winter park, florida! she’s just popping in for the afternoon and i am so thankful. one of her roommates is a leader this week plus she wanted to come see me. i know her from frontier/wilderness folks. (ok, well i know her from ak.) they guided together at wilderness, but i met her when she was passing through frontier to wilderness last summer with her girls. i know our conversation will hold so much encouragement and truth and jesus and realness.

these late nights are so foreign to me – – goodnight from humidity-filled florida!