The Summer where I fell in love with New Jersey

Today I sat on the beach from 1:30-4:00 and was paid to do so.

Today I chose to sit on Middle Beach, which proved to be a poor decision. Usually my small group girls chill in Main Beach or Surf beach. I’m gonna return tomorrow to my stomping grounds. Then, after that, I had small group with three of my fellow staff-member ladies with the president of the camp meeting’s wife, Nancy. Nancy  manages all of Ocean Grove to keep on running and flushing and functioning. She makes sure the signs are nice, the speakers are booked, the beaches are clean and people are happy about anything functional. Nancy is the lady who arranged our dinner with Shane Claiborne!! She is so opposite of me but also filled with peace and wisdom. I’ve learned a lot from her this summer.

Then, I ran home and got changed for ZOOMBA which as a team we were given ten free classes which we like to utilize! Zoomba is run by this baller named Jane who whips us into shape with salsa and top forty dances. Many of the girls who live in OG all year come to the class, and we SWEAT IT OUT!  Then, after the girls ran home and showered and we headed to Leslie’s beach house because we had planned a BLUE CLAWS party where we bought 36 crabs for 25 dollars as a team and picked them and ate corn on the cob and watermelon as the sun went down on this misty day.

Then, Leslie and I literally ran to Godspell rehearsal where I am responsible for providing icecream for the kids on break, in which I pass out scripture on this little card which pertains to the show. This is a very unconventional small group, but I absolutely love it! Then I get to help with blocking and staging Godspell on stage with the 12 disciples who I was able to help cast in the show:) Monday and Wednesdays are some of my favorite times of the week, because I absolutely LOVE the kids involved in teen show. I love that they are funny and dynamic and outgoing and filled with personality. I also love that many of them stand on the fringe and are openly antagonistic to the institution of the church. I love breaking down walls, I love opening the Bible with them (and eating a GREEN mint chocolate chip icecream cone) and dancing the night away to songs I danced to my junior year of highschool. I love how much the kids love me and how close we have grown now and the comparability that exists between us.

Every day, I hide a rubber chicken in Ocean Grove and then write a riddle in which the kids than stampede God’s square mile and find the chicken. Today, i met with my “mole” in th middle of play rehearal. This certain individual I have asked to help me in this endeavor to help me spice up the chicken hiding and thus finding. My mole met me at the youth temple and then somehow convinced me to ride on the handle bars of his bike to our hiding spot. Literally, one of the greatest, most fun experiences so far.

I have learned to trust this summer, not just the Lord or Judge or my team-members. I have learned to trust myself and gravity. I officially consider myself a skateboarder now. Gabbie and Carly Campbell  taught me how to skateboard one night in Thornley Chapel of all places, after many failed attempts on pavement. These girls held my hand and made fun of and encouraged me again and again and now I can roll down Ocean Pathway and look like an OG chick and not a Benny (aka visitor to OG who are usually from North Jersey).

Tonight, in my dress as I rode on handle bars and skateboarded down to sit on the beach with Gab and Megs, I was SO free and so sad that this will end. These summer nights will end. I only have four more weeks to live the heck out of life here, suck the marrow out and spread the Gospel to these kids so it catches like wildfire and never stops burning, even when I can’t return. I kept on grabbing Gabriella tonight as we cruised around the tents at night, grieving already that I must leave. I got to let the Lord do his work here when I leave in August, and the Lord made me SO appreciative of my life here. I mean, this weekend I am working the Bizarre Bizarre where I volunteer at a a HUGE thrifstore which has already translated into lots of new clothes for me:). This job is growing and challenging and rewarding.

I am an evangelist again. The kids who teach me to ride skateboards and somehow (crazily enough) convince me to ride on their bike handle bars as we zoom down Pilgrim Pathways… these kids, these kids are often hungry for the Gospel and they are hungry for heroes. I get to be their hero, their role model, their cool college celebrity. I get to hear CRAZY secrets on the Grove Hall front porch that they would never tell another soul, I get to send out prayers out via text messages when they are hurting but to  afraid to go forward for official prayer. I get to preach on the boardwalk in the morning on forgiveness and see sixty kids raise their hands to forgive “others their trespasses” like Corrie tin Boom did to her torturer. I get to continually pray with kids to accept Christ to rule in their lives and I get to go to coffee dates with Wiccan Theater kids who fall head over heals in love with Jesus, and show them how prophecy and healing is much cooler than tarot cards and wiji boards.

I am the role model, I am the youth leader who curses once in awhile when I run my skateboard into a bench, I get to talk about pot and sex and spiritual warfare and show them the power of the Word of God. I get to show them how to forgive and erase the pain of memories. I get to be authentic. I get to sincerely love.

I am real and vulnerable, and they are real and vulnerable with me.  I see and hear things no one else hears and sees. I shine light in dark places, I teach and lead and instruct.

I get to show 150 teeangers that Jesus is the greatest adventure of all. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for these amazing people. Thank you for using me. Thank you for leading me to ride on handle boards and surf on the power of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for teaching me to trust and to be patient. Thank you for people. I just freakin’ love people. I love your church. I love this church. Keep on moving, Holy Spirit, keep on blazin forward. Break down the cool kids, fill their ipods with worship and praise and not just Lil Wayne. Show them how to love outside of their-selves. Show them the power of your Gospel, speak to my small group girls now as they read John.

Love on them Lord, let them ride.

One thought on “The Summer where I fell in love with New Jersey

  1. Loved this blog! Hope you are having fun with your Mom today. Always special with your Mom time.
    Love You,

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