We had the absolute, most amazing weekend ever. I was ever so blessed to be placed at the home of Stu and Wendy Marshall with the coolest 10th grade girls on the planet. Allison, Taylor, Katherine, Tori, Anna, Savannah, and Jennifer are the most fabulous girls ever! Not one time was there any drama, no fights, nothing but pure fun and awesome fellowship.
As mentioned earlier, we were led during the weekend by Dave Rhodes and Casey Darnell and band. Chad outdid himself in finding the best worship leaders I think I've ever experienced. I've been a part of DNows every year since I was in the 7th grade, so that's alot of leaders, but I'm serious. God ordained these guys. It's just obvious. Dave had a way of communicating that felt like I was the only one in the room he was talking to. Plus, him using my favorite passage of scripture (the story of Jesus telling the disciples to throw their net on the other side of the boat and they'd catch fish) did wonders, too. From a leadership standpoint, it was the smoothest DNow ever to lead. Usually the small group discussions and the corporate sessions compliment one another. This year they were the same. We had questions to discuss in small groups, but they were really all what Dave had already gone over in our big group setting. Casey has one of the most effortlessly beautiful voices I have ever heard. To one day have the chance to sing on stage with him as we sing to the Creator would be a dream come true for me. And his "mini-sermons" between songs Ias my girls called them) were amazing, too.
Perhaps my favorite analogy of the weekend came on Saturday morning (I think). Dave talked, basically, about how firemen use controlled burns as a way to combat wildfires. At first, I wasn't sure I followed, but God allowed my heart to camp on it a little more, and I think I get it now. A few months back, California was absolutely crippled by wildfires, and I heard many reports of the firemen creating controlled burns to try and stop the wildfires from spreading. I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought that was absolutely the craziest thing I'd ever heard. Why in the world would they create more work for themselves and waste their time creating a fire that took their efforts away from trying to control the one that was already out of control? So counterproductive. So stupid, to put it bluntly. Why? Because. If an area of land had already been burned by fire, when the fire that was coming towards it got there, it wouldn't burn as rapidly because it would've already been ravaged by the fire that was perfectly set. The fuel for the fire that was coming would be lessened because that piece of land had already experienced the fire and was ready for it. Sweet mercy, what a concept for me to have learned. How many times in my life have I been standing still watching a fire come my way? Knowing it's coming and not being able to do anything about it... wondering how long I'll be able to stand the temperature... But, now, I see things differently. I can do something about the fire that's coming towards me, because I've already walked through it- I've survived it- I've been burned already, so when the fire arrives, I won't be consumed because I've been weathered for it- I've already been prepared. God, being the all-knowing Creator that He is, allowed me to be charred up a little back that one other time so that I'm not consumed now. Thank You, Jesus, that You're able to, in love, be burned a little along the way, so that we aren't consumed when the fire finally gets to us. Thank You for controlling the fire.
I've always been fascinated by fire. Not in a pyro-always-have-to-have-a-flame-in-my-hand kind of way, but I love references in scripture to fire (think Moses and a burning bush), and I love quotes about fire (I'll attempt one here)... "Light yourself on fire with the flames of passion so that others stop and watch you burn"- Carl Spurgeon. I know that's not quite right- I'll find it later and repost, but I'm on a roll (no pun intended).
Chad, thank you for the opportunity to serve. It's not a calling I take lightly, but it is a calling on my life, and I look forward to it every year. Thank you for your service to us and to the Savior. Many people's lives were changed this weekend through your leadership. Stu and Wendy, thank you for opening your home to us. It was a true blessing to me to serve with you. Allison, keep rockin' it for Jesus, girl. Your spirit is infectious. If only I'd had what you have when I was your age. Taylor, I miss that giggle and that smile that took up your whole face already. Thank you for your words in the share service. I promise you I'll do my best to make this a life-altering weekend and not just another weekend. Katherine, keep on plugging at school, sister. I know it's hard, but know that I'm praying you through it. Be that light in the halls that people need to see. Tori, I had the best time meeting you and getting to know you. Just remember- the dramas we face are all part of the story of life and will only make you stronger. Keep your head up high and focused on Jesus and it'll all work out. Anna, that laugh cracks me up. You remind me so much of a childhood friend of mine it makes me want to find her and hug her now (shout out to ya, Rachel Reagan- I met your clone this weekend!) Oh, and you have mad driving skills, Anna, even if my car doesn't have automatic locks. Savannah, I'm sorry your shirt ate you, but I'm glad I got to see how cute you were in it- rolled up sleeves and tucked in your back pocket though it was. What an absolutely beautiful girl you've become. I'm proud of you. Jennifer, you are one of the most hilarious people I've ever met. I admire you for keeping your commitment, even though it conflicted you. Good for you! I've enjoyed watching you grow up, too, and will tell my grandmother all about you in my dreams tonight.
There is so much more to say, and I will, but my heart is full tonight, so I'm going to end here and have a conversation with Jesus.
Grateful for intentionally burning,
P.S. Would you please pray for me and a calling I'm feeling on my life right now? Sorry to be so ambiguous, but I'm still trying to sort through all the feelings. It's a good calling, but one not to be taken lightly, so I'm spending some much-needed time in prayer and ask you to do the same for me. Updates forthcoming. Thank you all!