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Take a Break

August 15, 2016
By Michaela Johnson, Day Camp Director & Summer Youth Ministry Intern

There's a reason why soccer games have halftime. Even professional athletes can't go that long without resting and rehydrating. After 45 minutes of constant action, they need to slow down and recharge. Sometimes, it's an opportunity for them to develop a new game plan; other times, it's just a few minutes of laying down on the field and catching their breath. Either way, they take a break.

I have a Type A personality, no questions about it. I'm constantly busy, oftentimes overwhelmed by everything I have going on in my life. Classes. Work. Clubs. Church. Friends. Family. I have a really hard time saying "no" when asked if I can add one more thing to my schedule.

This summer, one of my goals was to improve my ability to turn down some opportunities in order to decrease my stress level. I've gotten better, but I'm still struggling. ("Yes" just seems so much easier sometimes!) However, in my growth, I have come to realize that part of why I keep getting burned out is because I never stop going, going, going. I barely ever take time away from my normal routine to just relax.

So I took a break.

For 8 days, I traveled back to the city where I attend college to spend time with my church family and friends in the area. In all honesty, I wasn't able to completely ignore all responsibilities like I had hoped. I still checked my e-mail, studied for my GRE, and visited a potential graduate school. But, I did spend most of the time doing things that I enjoyed.

I ate dessert before dinner. I walked around the mall, simply because I was desperate for air conditioning. I watched a meteor shower at 2:00am, and then went back to watch the sunset from the same place that evening. I read over 20 cards in the Hallmark store, just for fun. I watched the Olympics for more hours than I probably should have. I could go on, but I'll spare you the rest of the details.

Today is my first day back to work. While I'm struggling to stay focused, I feel so rested. In my time away, I developed a new game plan and caught my breath. Just like soccer players, we all need to take a break. There's a few weeks left of summer. How are you going to make sure you take a break?

"And Jesus said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'" Mark 6:31

Minding Your Manners

August 04, 2016
By Michaela Johnson, Day Camp Director & Summer Youth Ministry Intern

Parents always want their children to be polite. Think of all the times you’ve heard an adult tell a child “remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.” My three year old sister is currently struggling to mind her manners. I recently witnessed her snatch a cookie from her dad’s hand and shove it in her mouth. My mom quickly reacted, asking “What do you say to Daddy?” With a mouthful of cookie, she muttered “Tank you, Daddy!”

I’m just about halfway through writing the nearly 100 personalized thank you notes to volunteers who made Schoharie Valley Community Camp possible. I ambitiously took on the task of reaching out to each and every individual who gave their time and efforts to provide 162 campers with an amazing week. After everything that it takes to make camp successful, I thought that this was the least I could do. (And maybe my mom would be proud of me remembering to say “thank you”).

My hand is cramping, I’ve lost feeling in my tongue from licking so many envelopes, and I’ve run out of ways to express my gratitude. Have I thought about giving up? Definitely. Will I? Of course not.

Saying “thank you” is, in my opinion, one of the most important things we can do. (Disclaimer: just because I think it’s important, doesn’t mean that I’m always good at it). Do I ever get offended when I’m not thanked? Oh yeah. But that’s why I think it’s so imperative to simply thank each other. It could easily make someone’s day and give them that little nudge to keep going. Do I ever forget to say “thank you?” I’m sure my mom would agree that I do. We all forget, but let’s try not to.

How do you feel when someone goes out of their way to say how much they appreciate something you’ve done? If you’re like me, you feel pretty darn good. I’m not one to have the spotlight focused on me, but for that brief moment, I know that person is expressing their gratitude for me and my actions, and that’s a really nice feeling.

In all this, I’m glad that I’m taking my time to tell the volunteers how much I appreciate them. But I’m also realizing that maybe there’s someone else I should be thanking, rather than just snatching away from His hands what I’ve been so graciously given and forgetting to mind my manners. Overall, the reason that camp was so successful this summer was because God was watching over the whole time. He had it all planned out way before any of us knew what roles we’d be serving. All of this happened because of Him. So here I am, pausing to give thanks to God.

I encourage you to look to your own lives and see what you’ve been forgetting to thank God for over the past few weeks. I’m sure there’s something. If you find yourself at a loss for words when it comes to praying (I often find myself here), remember how much can be said in a few words. One of the most straightforward prayers I’ve ever heard goes something like this: “Dear Lord, Thank you, thank you, thank you. Help us, help us, help us. Amen.” It isn’t lengthy with a bunch of fancy words, but it gets the point across. And just think about how happy God will be, looking down on His children saying, “Tank you, Daddy!”

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