News season, new blog



Reminders of His faithfulness: Favor and Grace

I still remember the banging on my door and the moment I opened it. My dear friend Hannah standing there panting and out of breath, attempting to explain through some sort of charades that she too had been hired as a Camp in the City counselor second half. We woke up half of fourth floor east with our screams of excitement. We didn't really know each other well at that time, but knew very soon in the future we would learn to rely on each other in ways we had never before.

We talked every now and then throughout the year, about what we thought camp would look like this summer. We laughed about the fact that they wanted us to be lifeguards. We got to know each other over coffee and the mutual bond of Christ.

I remember the first time in training I had to go to the bottom of the almost 15 foot pool and retrieve the brick. It was frightening, but I didn't ever imagine I would have to do it again. Not until Hannah and I were partners. We sat there treading water, looking directly at each other. Hannah whispered: Ready, one, two, three. We shoved our head and body under water and suddenly I felt trapped. The bottom was too far down. I surfaced myself panicking as I reached the air. Hannah comes up a few seconds later. She asked what happened. I cant. 

I had never been at the end of myself before. I had never been afraid of anything. She looked at me intently and said "you can do this, Mary Helen." We tried a few more times, with the same results. I felt more and more trapped by the water with every try. Eventually she told me to sit on the edge and relax. And again reminded me "Mary Helen, you can do this." I sat on the edge of the pool as the words sank into who I was. The truth was I could do it. I could get to the bottom and rescue my victim. So what was my problem?

You see, I didn't believe in my God that I was equipped for everything He was preparing for me to do. I doubted my God. I resolved to get to the bottom, because my God was greater. I swam to the middle of the deep end, took a few deep breaths. With every link I went down in the pool, I said one truth to myself.

My God is greater.
Another link.
My God is stronger.
Another link.
My God is higher than any other. 

All of the sudden I felt ground underneath my feet. I looked around me. I was at the bottom of the pool. I pushed off in excitement and resurfaced victorious. Swimming frantically across the pool, I came up to Hannah and said I'm ready. She left the girls she was talking to and we went back into the middle of the deep end. Again she whispered: Ready, one, two, three. We lunged deep into the pool. She delved in first as I headed after her to save my practice victim. I was almost to the bottom when the panic began to set in again, I started to feel trapped. But I looked down and saw Hannah, and remembered her words "Mary Helen, you can do this." I continued down to the bottom, grabbed Hannah and we resurfaced. I had successfully completed my first submerged deep water rescue. Hannah qualified me again. You did it, Mary Helen. 

I still remember that night that everything in my world felt as if it was falling apart. I remember my frantic walk over to Latt-Web. The wind slowly picking up and everything around me getting hazier with every step. I ran up the stairs and walked down the long hallway terrified at what the days ahead would look like. The hall seemed to get longer as I continued down it. I become more frantic with every room I passed. 311, 313, 315, 317, 319, 321. I finally reached 327 and flung the door open unable to move my body anymore. The first thing I saw was Hannah. She gazed up from her computer, her inquiring look begging me to speak.

I couldn't. No words came out in that moment. Nobody understood. No one but Hannah. That fact brought me to uncontrollable sobs the moment she saw me. She ran over and just grabbed me. My body, unable to stand fell to the floor. I soon felt other hands and bodies around me as the seconds passed. But no one knew why I was there, no one but Hannah. She lifted my head and looked directly into my eyes. Mary Helen, you are courageous, she declared. It was my first glimpse in a long time of true Christ-like community. I felt safe in those moments.

Somedays I see Hannah, and am so amazed by how much the Lord shines through her life. I see it in the way she interacts with her pledges, the way she cares for her friends, and the desire to put Christ at the center of the things she does. My favorite days are those where I can sit next to Hannah and stare at the christmas lights on her ceiling and talk about our God. My favorite moments are when I hear a soft voice behind me calling "Smiles" and turn around and see K-So. Hannah Terry will always be one of my favorite people, because she understands, she cares, and she encourages. And she's not afraid to do so.


Reminds of His faithfulness: The hero.

Hayley and I always joked about being super-heroes. She was always more serious about it than me, but I went along anyways. When I tell others about Hayley, I always talk about the way she loves. How for her it is a passionate pursuit of people that mirrors for others what Christ has done for us. Sometimes you hop in Hayley's car and end up doing things you never imagined yourself doing. Some call her NT's chauffeur, but I call her NT's hero. 

The Lord calls people to different things, to different people. For Hayley, He has called her for this time to us in Nenamoosha. Because for her, Nenamoosha isn't about being in a tribe, it's about an opportunity to show others the sacrificial perfect love of Christ.

For about three weeks this fall, Hayley Nelson was for the most part, in charge of NT. I remember the way she described our pledges back then, before we even knew who they were. She told us that like a women who is pregnant has never seen her child, she loves our pledges even though we have never seen them. Maybe that was weird to some, but for me it was a perfect picture of our tribe, as a family.

Hayley has no fear, as all good heroes. She's not afraid to tell people who they are, to encourage them, and push them out of their comfort zone. Because she did that with me, which ended up with me on my knee's before my tribe praying for my little, praying for Lynley.

Hayley believes in those around her. She sees their potential, no matter where they are. Her passion for film spurs her to show us who we are, reminding us that there is beauty in what we do. She may not know what she's going to do with her life, but I know what she's going to do. She's going to love  passionately showing others through her words and actions that Jesus Christ is the only hope we have in life and that He has saved us from our sin, restoring us into a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Hayley is strong, which makes her able to withstand challenging circumstances. She is bold, which makes her a good leader. Hayley is encouraging, speaking truth into those around her.

Hayley truly is as her name is.
Hayley Nelson is a hero.


Most days I really don't understand Jonah. Why in the world he didn't just go to Nineveh when God clearly told him too, I will never comprehend. It's not hard buddy. Just do what you're told.

But then there are days like today where I feel exactly like Jonah. I want to pack up all my stuff, grab all the people I love most in life, and run from God.

He holds me so gently and whispers soft in my ear that He is sovereign. But I take my gaze off of my Savior and I see so much around me I just want to hold onto. I want to stay. I blubber through tears begging to stay.

Please Jesus. Oh please.

I don't want what's best. I want easy and comfort. I'm fine just where I am. I want my friends and my family. I want to speak english. I want here.

He pulls me in closer until we are eye to eye. His face up against mine. The tears begin to roll off my face onto His. His voice so calm, so confident.

I am your God. And you will be my people.

I begin to shake my head. Please let it not be true. It just can't be true.

I shut my eyes. Maybe if I don't see Him, this will all go away. Then I can stay.

His voice beckons.

Sweet child. My beloved.

I can't ignore the truth anymore. I can't hide. I slowly open my eyes, my vision blurred through tears. I glimpse His face, and fall into His arms.

My bones feel like jello and I lose all strength. My body sags into his as He wraps Himself around me.

I can't.

He quiets me. Softly consoling me. He speaks.

But I can.

And that was it. Therein was truth. I couldn't run anymore. I got my answer. I have my charge.


Let it stir. Let is sit at the root of who you are for a little bit. Dream about it. Hope about it. Sing about it. Eventually it will flow out of you, in perfect timing. Let life keep moving. Let days pass without solidification. Let it happen.

For you have a beautiful life.

Don't talk too long, for it might get lost in words. Build your life on the source of it. Seek after The Fountain. Believe in restoration.

Adventure is out there. Believe it will come, for determination and pure faith will only lead you right into it's midst.


Quiet Days

I'm not one for quiet days. Ever since I've been in college, I never look forward to them. They normally come upon me with dread. I never understood why I was so against these days, because back in high school I lived for days like these.

Coming to college ripped my security blanket out from under my feet. I was 8 hours away from my family and the only home I had ever know. I had to make a fresh start, find friends, and even attend a new church. Now people had told me before I left what an adjustment it would be to college life. But I guess I always thought I was strong enough, I though my faith was unshakable.

But there's one question that goes through every college freshman's mind the moment their parents leave after moving them in the dorm.

You walk back upstairs holding back tears with a head full of dreams. You pull out your new dorm key and stare at it admiring the fact that you are now an official college student. You walk in your room, and take a deep breath soaking up all that freedom. You hop on your bed and run your hand over the soft clean bed sheets. You lift your head up, look straight ahead, and then ask yourself,

"What do I do now?"

It's one of those questions that I asked myself subconsciously and never really dealt with it. So I began to get involved with everything I could and spent a lot of time with others. For me, I felt like I was expected to always be doing something and that busy was a norm I should strive after. Activities and friendships became my idol as I hid behind being "busy", whatever that meant. But I began a long journey that day running from myself. I discovered that not everyone grew up in Memorial, America.

Establishing yourself is hard. For me, I feel like I got one quick glimpse of myself the moment I left home and I didn't like what I saw. So I ran.

Which brings me to my quiet days. On those days where life seemed to slow down and I have less to do, the question again whispers in my heart "What do I do now?" I sit again on my bed and wonder what in the world I'm doing. I stand in front of the mirror and see a person looking back at me I barely recognize. I look at my faith and relationship with the Lord and see how shaky my faith has become. I don't even know who I am.

Quiet days are hard because they make me face myself. They make me answer the question. And the truth about myself is that I haven't taken ownership of my life. I need to grow up. I need to be mature. I'm not a kid anymore. I never thought my faith was contingent on my parent's, and I still don't think it truly is. But the accountability of having parents that desire the best for me and want me to be holy in all I do, is something I lost when I moved to college. It's still there in a way, but now a days months go by before I get to see my parents again. I'm not day in and day out doing life with them. It's just not possible when they live two states away.

But the thing about having parents, is that there comes a time in every person's life where they must begin to take responsibility for who they are. And for me, that time has come. So now, I will welcome quiet days. For their reminder of who I am, of who I need to be, and after whom I need to be seeking. I will gladly sit outside, take an extra long walk, and write. Because it's time to face myself. It's time to shine.

Oh thank you Lord for quiet days.


Most days I hate detours. And since this drive totaled around 9 hours, backtracking didn't seem to lift my spirits. But none the less, our car took a detour through now one of my favorite cities, Tyler, Texas.

When I got my call in November from the Camp in the City director at Pine Cove, I was less than ecstatic. I wanted to be a counselor at an overnight youth camp, not a day camp for inner city kids. Since I was in elementary school, I had been a camp kid. I loved going to camp each summer. For me, many of the significant moments in my relationship with the Lord had been at some camp. I accepted the Lord when I was at camp in 6th grade and got baptized in the Nueces River when I was in 9th grade. But I accepted the job as a counselor for Camp in the City for that summer and never thought twice about it until May.

I came back from lifeguard training and orientation that June still not sold that city camp was the place for me. I still didn't see how this camp was where I really needed to be. But I still went back to Pine Cove that July and began to work as a counselor second half. And man, if I could only put into words what the Lord did in my life there, I could fill up a room of books.

We continue farther down our detour as I gaze out the window on that rainy afternoon. And then all of the sudden I see it, a green street sign that says: TYLER city limits, population 96,900. My heart begins to race as I try to figure out what parts of the city we'll pass through. We head on through north Tyler and sights around become more familiar. We pass the caldwell zoo, the family dollar, and the old antique shop. I see the sonic with the sand volleyball court and playground and suddenly the conversation I had with Jasmine Kim about her parent's restaurant, China Cafe, comes to mind. I'm on the edge of my seat as I plaster my face to the window like a kid on Christmas morning. I take careful note of the street signs as we head deeper into the heart of the city.

The car comes to a stop and I look at the intersection ahead. I prepare my heart and my head as the car pulls closer to a  street that has so many memories. We turn right on Broadway and I see the yellow brick church building. I see the park with the dolphin statues, and the red roofed shopping center with the old testament store. My heart is filled and the tears begin to well in my eyes.

Suddenly I am back here.

Faith Owens is back in my arms weeping while Jasmine Kim is tugging at my shirt softly calling "Smiles" desiring my attention so she can show me her latest sketch. I turn my head towards the back and Brianna Rowland looks up at me and gives the only smile I will see out of her for the day. I hear shouts and see Breona Butler giving the other kids lectures about her magic stick. I feel a kick on the back of my seat and Reyna pops up from the tent her and her best friend Emily made to say hi. Memories swell my head and I can not contain the tears in my eyes anymore. The Lord whispers in my heart, "Remember, my child, all that I have done." I take a deep breath in and soak up my surroundings. My heart remembers.

Reminders are so very sweet, although they don't last forever. Eventually we turned off Broadway and continued on our journey. I only got to be back in the place I spent my summer for a brief few minutes. My days now do not consist of bus rides with the Cumberland kids. They don't consist of JAM time, or FOB, or joke Thursdays. My days now consist of balance sheets, fixing copy machines , grading papers, tutoring, and photo booths. But you see the thing is, my God is still faithful while I'm signing a pledge's book and studying french, and writing prospective students letters. He still in those moments is using faithless broken me. He still claims me as His child. He still is reminding me that He is faithful.

Some days I wish I could hold Faith in my arms again or walk back onto the bus hearing kids scream "Smiles" hoping to get my attention first. But the thing about life is that is comes and goes in seasons. All are so different, we as humans tend to get hung up on one and forget where we are currently. Or sometimes, like me, we let the present pass us by like it doesn't matter. There is a time for everything. There is a season for every activity under the sun, I just hope I stop long enough to enjoy it.