When All the Shiny Wears Off

As one of the leaders at camp often talks about, and as my title indicates, all of the shiny has rubbed off. My job, my life at camp… It is no longer fresh, novel, or different. It’s simply my everyday life. But! That gives me great opportunity to serve joyfully! I get to find God’s work in every single day, making each day a marvelous testament to His providence for me. All that being said, I am so sorry I haven’t sent out any updates in a while! My schedule has been jam packed with all kinds of shenanigans; I’m excited to tell you all about them!

First, an update on my summer (yikes, that was a while ago): Wow! The Lord have me some great opportunities to have some awesome conversations with my Leadership Live girls, as well as develop some strong friendships with the other summer staff. I am grateful for the number of decisions made and the grace that God gave as I learned a new job. This was the most difficult summer I’ve had in a long time, but I was grateful for God’s grace and strength!

After summer, I started preparing for my second year of teaching! I still feel like a first year teacher because of all the new classes I’m teaching, but I am loving my eight crazy, energetic, wonderful students! It’s been a blast to see them grow and learn. God has truly given me a job where I see Him at work in the lives of other people. I feel I have grown as an educator, a professional, and a leader throughout the beginning of this year.

I have been able to take quite a few trips with Ministry Bound and my school over the last few months: teacher’s convention, Pause trip, and camp tour. God has allowed me to nail down a great system for anyone who subs for me, which is a blessing! Also, I am currently enjoying Christmas break at home with my family!

God has answered so many of my prayers this year, but I want to mention the biggest two in this post. First, I am excited to say that I am embarking on a new detour on my camp adventure this summer – I’m headed to Wolf Mountain to work stores and hospitality there! I have never worked at another camp, but I am confident that the Lord will use this summer to glorify Himself and transform me more into the image of His Son!

The second way God has miraculously answered my prayers this year is incredible! I decided before the semester began that I wanted to raise $300 per month in support to prepare for potentially becoming resident staff. Currently, I have one supporter who sends me money every month, but I am nowhere near my $300/month goal! As I was looking through my journal of God’s faithfulness, though, I realized that He had indeed provided $300 every single month this semester! Whether a gift from a camper from my hometown, money for dog-sitting, or very generous gifts from an unlikely source, the Lord has provided for my needs and my wants above and beyond what I asked for! I am so grateful for the blessings that He showers upon His children out of love and care for us.

So, as you can see, I have enjoyed a very full year! Again, I could not do it without prayer. Here are a few ways you can pray for me in the upcoming months:

1. I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Please pray for strength, energy, and wisdom in how to proceed medically.

2. I am continuing to raise support. If you would like to take me on, or if you think your church would be interested, please contact me via Facebook or comment below!

3. Pray for me as I continue loving, investing in, and discipling my students!

Thank you all again! I will try to update everyone more often. I appreciate your patience!

In His love,

Amber

Embracing Feminine Modesty

Note: Although I mention a couple of sites or companies in this post, this is not an affiliate post. I only talk or write about services I personally use and love!

What’s your reaction when someone says “modesty”? Do you cringe inwardly, while your mind imagines frumpy, out-of-date grandmothers telling you sweetly that your skirt shows too much ankle? Perhaps you chuckle softly, reminiscing about the culottes your mother hand-sewed for you and your sisters. “Those things could catch airtime in the right wind, I’m sure of it,” joked your friends.

I have thought about modesty from several standpoints. I grew up in a non-Christian home, and modesty was not required. Due to my personal struggle with self-esteem, I chose to wear clothes that kept me covered but were baggy, unflattering, and boyish. In high school, I investigated Mormonism and adhered to their strict apparel regulations, sometimes even better than my Mormon friends.

Since becoming a Christian, I have completely changed my idea of modesty. Modesty used to mean a set of style-stifling standards, crippling any creativity in the closet. I thought of it in shame-based terms: “Cover yourself”, “Don’t cause men to stumble”, et cetera. God certainly does want us to love our brothers in Christ by protecting their visual minds, but that is not synonymous with never wearing anything fun or flattering.

Modesty, even with all its quirks and difficulties in our over-sexualized culture, has actually freed me to be more original and unique. While obeying my Lord, I have discovered how to display His goodness, purity, and artistry through my clothing. How have I handled my wardrobe choices? Let’s look!

1.       My job requires that I wear skirts and dresses almost every day. I don’t know about you ladies, but I am 5’10”, and it is incredibly difficult to find ANYTHING long enough for my body. I don’t even want to talk about how expensive it can get, especially on a missionary teacher’s budget! Thrift stores, hand-me-downs, and thredUP.com have become the main suppliers of clothes for me.

2.       I love love love Pinterest! Not only have I been able to see different combinations that I never would have thought of, but I can look for practical styles and tips on how to make what I already have in my closet work for me!

3.       I am not afraid to make a mistake or take a risk (at least not in my clothes)! Sometimes, the outfits I was least excited about in the morning have ended up being my favorite. Mix colors, patterns, try a new style, add that scarf you’re unsure of.

4.       I always try to remember what the focal point of my outfit is. Part of modesty is not drawing attention to myself at all. I don’t want to be flashy or too outdated. I certainly don’t want to hide the fact that I’m a woman; after all, God has made me the way He wanted me to be, and He values me! But I also don’t want to draw attention to my body in a way that is distracting or sinful.

5.       I don’t have personal rules, but I do have standards and principles. I don’t want to be suggestive or distracting or boring. I want to look neat and put-together and professional while still having my personal style shine through. I know what pieces I like and how to make my casual bohemian chic styles appropriate for my slightly more formal teaching job. Learn to follow biblically-derived ideas about modesty and appearance; don’t set up arbitrary rules that are hard to follow and frustrating!

What are some of your tips on modesty and femininity? How do you navigate the current culture when it comes to your closet? Let me know!

Time Capsule Moments

When you’re young, everyone tells you to savor the moments and relish the days. “Time goes by so quickly,” they say, often with a flavor of melancholy lingering on their words.

I’m still young. And people still tell me that. And I’ve learned something recently.

It’s true.

Scripture often talks about this idea of a fleeting life. Ecclesiastes expounds on the vanity of life, while James reminds us that our lives are but vapors.

I have seen 23 years come and go. Each one has made its way in and out of my life with increasing rapidity. This year in particular has me reflecting on my ability to capture memories, mental time capsules of moments that God has graciously allowed me to experience. Camp is so full of blessings, and I want to share that joy with others!

Even this semester, I’ve seen the hand of God move in mighty and remarkable ways. The Lord has also woven plenty of plain ol’ fun into my life; He really does give good and perfect gifts!

  1. I was able to go to Mammoth with a group of friends from camp in February. I have loved snowboarding since 2010, when I tried it for the first time, but I hadn’t been able to hit the slopes again until then. It was a great time of fellowship, activity, and adoring God’s magnificence in His Creation!
  2. My school regularly attends GSACS Competition, and I went as a sponsor/chaperone/judge this year. How amazing it was to see so many talented young people serving and glorifying the Lord through arts and music! Some of my own students placed very well. The growth I saw in them over the trip encouraged me, as well as the diversity of the body of Christ evidenced by the entries.
  3. One of the requirements for Ministry Bound, the program I am part of, is to put on Pygmy Camp. Once every two years, the resident staff leaves for a retreat, and the interns get to plan a camp for their children, who are known as pygmies. This year, we stuffed two full days of school in one, sent the pygmies on a wild Jeep scavenger hunt ending in a bonfire, rode roller coasters at Knott’s Berry Farm, and learned how to “GLOW”. Praise the Lord for the spiritual impact it had on our pygmies!
  4. We had a ton of rain this winter, which has made this spring incredibly green and luscious. Simply wandering around the desert, whether you’re hiking, walking, or off-roading, you’ll discover desert lilies and all kinds of other brave little flowers, which you can read about in another blog post here. God reminds us of new life through spring, and I am grateful for His promises and consistency!
  5. God has brought the Galkin Evangelistic Team to my church this week. I have already been blessed by their amazing talents and sweet spirits! I have also been refreshed by the friendship of one of the girls on the team whom I’ve known for a few years through camp. Pray with me that lost people in Apple Valley will come to know Jesus as Savior through the faithful ministry of the Galkin Team.

These are some of the standout moments of 2017 so far. There have been plenty of smaller moments, though no less significant. I want to be better about capturing these, about praising the Lord for each delight and pleasure He grants. I am so undeserving, so unworthy, and He is so abundantly gracious and giving!

Thank you all so much for praying for me and interceding for me before the throne. Your love and support makes my ministry here at Ironwood possible. Because of you, I can have these moments. Please continue praying for me and for Ironwood as we head into the summer season. I’ll try to keep you better updated!

In His love,

Amber

Brave Little Flowers

I might have stolen this title from someone on social media somewhere. To the lovely soul who gave me the idea, thank you!

I live in the desert. Most people are not impressed with the desert, really. But ask anyone around here who knows me even a little, and they’ll tell you how much I love my desert life. I grew up in the desert; I know it, and it knows me. I love the browns and purples and oranges that surround me in a warm, homey embrace. And right now, I’m experiencing a new kind of desert spring.

Brave little flowers are popping up all over the Mojave. The blossoms blanket my mountains and sprinkle the sand with spots of color and life. Spring has daintily and gracefully returned, once again demonstrating the faithfulness and consistency of our Creator God.

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This is just one of the many wildflowers blooming around Ironwood right now!

But I want to go back to that idea of brave little flowers. Flowers are not the first things people think of when they consider the desert. In fact, most people are genuinely surprised when they realize the dry, scorching heat of the desert can even produce flowers. I’ll admit, I kind of was one of those people.

When I moved out here, I expected I was giving up all greenery and beautiful landscapes, at least for a season. But God gives me brave little flowers. In His lovingkindness, not only has He provided beauty and creativity and displays of glory all around me, but He has also given me an example.

These brave little flowers have flourished, fighting through fierce winds and fickle weather. They bring hope and new life to the monotony of day-to-day existence. They point to Someone beyond themselves, using their gifts to bring attention to their Maker.

I want to be like that. I want to show people the glory of my Lord. I want to experience trials that produce perseverance, like Romans 5:3 says, like these desert blooms suggest. I want to be a bright spot for the Savior, as we are told to be in Matthew 5:16. I want to be a brave little flower.

In His love,

Amber

 

January Equals Monday

A friend told me, after I explained that my year has been off to a rough start, that January is like the Monday of the year.

I agree. But not because Mondays are hard.

Mondays are a new start to a week.

Mondays are right after a time of refreshment and refocusing on the Lord.

Mondays are God’s grace in our lives.

Mondays show our dependence upon Him.

I’m not kidding when I say that 2017 started off in a less than ideal way. I’m also not kidding when I say that my God is bigger than all of my struggles and trials and pain and insecurity and sin.

My God hears me when I call on Him. My God cares deeply about my hurt. My God is the ultimate Healer and Comforter. His mercies are new every morning! Praise Him!

For those of you who are interested in my camp story, I am more sure now than ever before that this is a lifetime thing for me. I have grown by leaps and bounds while here, and I am enjoying the privilege to minister to others in such a visible way, both in teaching and camp.

Please pray with me for God’s direction and provision. I would love to be able to stay at Ironwood, but I am willing to go wherever the Lord wants. I have at least another year and a half of Ministry Bound, which means a year or so before any decisions need to be made. Pray that I would have wisdom in my life and my choices. Pray that the Lord would provide for me, and that I would be able to earn support. I couldn’t do my job without your prayers!

As for this “Monday” of 2017, I am grateful that it’s almost over. I am grateful that Jesus is sufficient for me. I am grateful that God, in His great mercy, has not abandoned me. I am grateful for the deep joy I can have in the midst of trials. I am grateful for my friends and my church and the people He has surrounded me with. I look forward to seeing what He does in the next 11 months of 2017!

His,

Amber

Vacationing Well

Vacation is a tricky thing, at least for me. God certainly designed us for rest; we cannot simply force ourselves through life with no time to spend purposefully resting. That’s just it though. My tendency is to go blithely into a vacation, assuming my normal routines will fall into place in a different environment with a different schedule and different people. Obviously, that’s not the case.

I just got back from spending approximately two weeks in my hometown – the longest stretch of time I’ve spent there since my freshman year of college. This came after a wonderfully exhausting close to the fall semester. I had toured three other camps with my fellow Ministry Bound interns, been to my first November Meetings, gotten more involved at Life Point, and wrapped up school before Christmas break. The Lord provided a break at exactly the right time!

But there were things I had to consciously decide as I was preparing for this time away from camp. Here are my musings on vacations, especially if you’ll be spending yours with a nontraditional family:

  1. First, and most importantly, you must not neglect your relationship with the Lord. I know on a vacation, it can be easy to justify skipping quiet time with Jesus, but I hold that it may be even more necessary to depend on Him during a time of rest. It becomes too easy to fall back into familiar and comfortable sin patterns during times when we are not distracted by the everyday demands of life.
  2. Do not allow yourself to be slothful. Yes, rest, relax, enjoy a break. Binge watch a TV show you’ve been meaning to catch up on. Do something so you are refreshed. But if you are taking an extended holiday, especially with family, endeavor to serve those around you, even on your own free time. Show them love and servitude and joy. It may surprise them, and who knows? Maybe you can share the Gospel with them through your actions.
  3. It is okay if not everyone knows you are in a specific area. Sometimes, old friends can do more harm than good. If the place you are visiting is already a place where you fear you might backslide, or if your former friends are all living an ungodly lifestyle, or even if you just want to be alone with family, don’t feel compelled to tell everyone you’re in town.

I had a lovely vacation, full of family, Jesus, and surprises. I feel rested and ready for whatever God has in store for me this next season! Looking forward to immense growth and deepening relationships with those around me.

Tell me, how do you spend your vacations?

His,

Amber

Life in Ministry Bound

Isn’t it funny how week by week the days go by, yet time never seems to pass? Then, all of a sudden, you realize it’s September, wait, October – November?! And you still haven’t written an update on life.

I am astonished at how full my life has been these past months. I have successfully made it through my first quarter of my first year of teaching. I have consumed many a cup of coffee. I have made so many good friends. God has shown me His faithfulness in tiny details and enormous life decisions. He has truly blessed me abundantly beyond all I could ask or imagine!

So, what has actually happened, like, specifically? Here’s a somewhat quick recap:

  1. After some serious debate between Ironwood and Camp Grace, I have signed my contract to work here again this summer! For those of you who know me, you know I have a passion for camp ministry, especially for those crazy junior high campers! You’ll be surprised to hear that I am not working with junior highers this summer; instead, I will be the Leadership Live! girls counselor, as well as working hospitality. I’m looking forward to what God has in store for this summer!
  2. I have become a member at Life Point Baptist Church! I am so grateful that the Lord has given me such a loving and hospitable church family. Several of my friends and I drive an hour to church every Sunday. There, we spend the day with a host family in Apple Valley. We get back around 8:30 or 9 pm. We travel on Wednesday evenings as well. The Lord has been gracious in giving us safety as we travel a lot each week!
  3. As I already mentioned, the first quarter of my first year of teaching is already over. I find it somewhat surreal that I have five students who count on me each and every day. Praise the Lord for His mercy and strength!
  4. I have been able to share the Gospel with a few of my family members who are unsaved. The Lord has been working! I am grateful that the responsibility lies with Him and not me.
  5. I have been so blessed by the people here who truly care about me and love the Lord. I have made incredible friends and renewed old friendships. God has answered my prayers for deep friendships with people who will challenge me spiritually. He is so good!

There have been many other things that have happened this year so far: teacher’s convention, the Pause trip, a beach trip with my church, dinner at staff houses… None of this would be possible without the faithful prayers and support of people like YOU. So I simply wanted to say this:

Thank you so much. You have no idea how important you are to the ministry God has given me. I appreciate every short prayer you say, every thoughtful note or gift you’ve sent, every time someone thanks me. I am grateful for this missionary life God has for me right now, but I am grateful He does not have me doing it alone. Thank you.

His,

Amber

He Gives Rest

The weight of this fallen world. This burden, this crushing brokenness.

It is overwhelming. We are helpless under the enormity of the task of living here. It is painful and trying.

And it is not ours.

My friends, the trials of life are heavy and laden with sorrow. Yet, our Savior longs for us to exchange yokes with Him. His yoke is easy, He tells us, and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28).

What a comfort to know that we do not have to bear our hurts any longer! What peace in knowing that Jesus is not aloof, but feels each sting! What joy to discover the lightness and ease of trusting in a loving King!

Why, then, is it so difficult to hand over our brokenness and admit our weakness? We must not allow our pride to deceive us into believing that our strength is sufficient and we can be independent from the Creator; no, our condition is such that dependence is critical.

Do, Love, & Walk exists to share thoughts on how to live a life that is pleasing to God. He says that we should cast our cares upon Him, for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). This is not weakness; rather, it is walking humbly with thy God.

Admit your weakness. Give him your pain. He will give rest.

His,

Amber

Classroom Reveal!

In my last post, we talked about the concept of home. I even gave away a cute little print to help y’all decorate! I’m going to talk about my second home today: my classroom! I probably spend more time in my classroom than I do in my actual apartment. I knew that would be the case, so I wanted to make it homey and cute. I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely work best in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing and calming!

I spent some time this summer coming up with ways to enjoy my alone time in my classroom and help my students want to come to school. These are some of the things I came up with for my junior high room! (I may or may not have spent a lot of time on Pinterest…)

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The area behind my desk and my inspiration board! Soon this will be filled with pictures and notes from students!
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The floor behind my desk is for organizing materials and more of my books. The crates are from Walmart and the cart is a hand-me-down!
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Cute calendars from the Dollar Tree!

 

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These are some dog beds that Ironwood has. I wanted some more flexible seating options. These will stay where they are for the whole year.
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Sorry for the bad quality, the light is right over this spot. This is my faux blackboard for literature graffiti! We’re going through Excursions in Literature this year and I am so excited to see what my kiddos write on this wall!
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My real chalkboard cubbies and flexible seating pillows. My students are excited about both of these!
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Some more pictures of the room and things I did to make it cozy! Flowers are always a great addition, as are photos and personal items. And, of course, add color everywhere you can!

Teacher friends, what do your classrooms look like?

His,

Amber

 

Welcome Home! (and a giveaway!)

Home. It’s a concept we’re all familiar with. We all know our homes, we all are comfortable there. And whether home is a place of peace or chaos in our lives, we all learn to long for home in the lonely or trying times. Like freshman year of college.

During my own freshman year, I often missed my hometown and my family and the friends I had left behind. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I befriended a freshman I met at my church’s college group. I asked him once if he missed home, and his answer caught me completely off-guard.

“Yes,” he said, “but probably not the home you’re referring to.” I had absolutely no idea what he meant, and I told him so. He went on to explain that he longed for his eternal home, his home with our Heavenly Father.

You see, as Christians, our home isn’t really here. It’s certainly not where the heart is! Our forever home is with the Lord. I knew this in my head before my conversation with this wise freshman, but it had not made the trip down to my heart. It hadn’t connected or been made real or whatever Christian-ese you want to use.  I had never longed to be in Heaven. Now, I try to keep my heart set on Heaven every day.

BUT. God has me here for a reason! It’s important for me to long to be with Jesus and still be content and joyful here on Earth. This is something that has been convicting and comforting to me as I transition from Flagstaff to Ironwood.

It’s comforting that God is with me here. It’s comforting that I can have a piece of Heaven while worshiping with other believers and working alongside faithful people here. It’s convicting because I can’t get too comfortable here. It’s convicting because I’m still an ambassador for Christ, still simply a sojourner.

Some of the first words I heard when I got here on August 17th were “Welcome home, Amber!” And, for now, it is my home.

His,

Amber

P.S. I promised y’all a giveaway, didn’t I? Don’t worry, I didn’t forget! I have loved decorating my cute little apartment here (pictures and tips on moving and organizing to come)! So, in order to help you decorate your home, I have a cute little print that was hand-lettered by yours truly.

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Isn’t it sweet?

 

Here’s how you can make it yours (you only have to do one, but multiple entries are allowed):

  1. Follow my blog!
  2. Follow me on Instagram!
  3. Comment on any post or picture!

I will choose a winner at random on Monday, August 29, at 5:00 pm. Good luck!