by His definition


29°43’47.2”N 98°07’12.2”W
T Bar M Sports Camp

I’m home! From a three-month stay and a writer hiatus, both sides of my brain bursting at the seams. It’s where there’s a Layne-sized chalkboard and way-sweet tea and Life runs on kid wonder at camp speed. It’s where the anyones are welcomed, noticed, known, empowered, invited to taste of eternity. It’s where Glory turns a football field into holy ground, where His brightness and brilliance collide with plain ordinary. And it’s where He unplugs me–though I wished to write out, type out and relay all the wild ways He defined my season. But instead, I got to contain them, keep them mine all mine until He said it was time. (Time!)

This season was about expecting | Expecting all day play days and the forever kind of friendships, expecting He’d edit and polish me here, expecting He’d supply when I ran right out. Expecting what I loved of my past summers here, though He instead handed me that plus a billion exclamation points. Expecting, dreaming, asking big since my drive-there anthem: I want to see You flex. Expecting Him to show off, daring Him to be neon-lights obvious, to loudly proclaim His own excellencies–so wild only He could receive credit.

It was about letting | Letting my God interrupt me and inconvenience me often, letting my plans change and all His surprises sweep in. Letting my job description and my relational capacity figure-8 each other just right. Letting Him use me when He saw fit, and letting Him sit me faraway way-back when He didn’t. Letting Him undo me often, all the way ugly, letting out tears I didn’t know were locked up in there. Letting a certain cabin and covenant of women know that Layne–with parts I’m not proud of and can’t pretty up–and letting them love me anyways. Letting Him quiet me, teach me, heal me, letting Him memorize me and prove it.  Letting Grace welcome my frenzied heart home every time.

It was about learning | Learning my people’s ins and outs, then learning to love them accordingly, specifically, biblically. Learning to see my work as worship because He never once took His well-done eyes off me. Learning to yield to the Holy Spirit, learning to approach God’s throneroom boldly like it was made just for me. Learning Scripture and story, feasting on His word and as He hand-delivered wisdom. Learning when to sit the bench and when to suit up, when to listen and when to talk Life, when to face crowds and when to choose solitude. Learning the character of my mystery Abba unveiled.

It was about holding | Holding tight to a ragtag team of people like I’ve never clung to before. Holding on to their belief in me, for camaraderie and accountability and to spur me towards tomorrows. Holding on to that heart-race feeling I get walking into the place I first came alive in. Holding my palms up, hands stretched wide open. Holding to the sweetness of being unplugged and far-removed from all that’s out there. Holding tightest to the gospel, holding unswervingly to capital-T Truth that doesn’t waver or quake or claim sometimes or list a single exception. Holding J’s hand, walking lockstep with my Rabbi.

It was about listening | Listening to Truth—the spiky kind my heart ached hearing, and the honey stuff that sent me out smiling. Listening to the Spirit’s subtle whispers, somehow louder than the lies. Listening to mercy and grace and a hundred second chances wake me up every morning, pull me down from way up three bunks high. Listening for thirty minutes at a time to the sweetest names my tribe heard Him call them, listening to my God’s name echoed all over this place. Listening to Jesus sing love songs my way on an off day I won’t forget, listening to Him swear I’m desirable and beloved until all of me believed it. Listening to my heartbeat tune back up to His.

It was about loving |  Loving kids, loving others—like I’m told is first priority. Loving the nameless and the know-it-alls, the homesick and those at-home here, the kids I used to sit on a swing and talk Jesus with and the ones He doesn’t pick me for. Loving my on-days and my off-days and every speck of the Layne job set before me. Loving a covenant that tenfold returns the favor and loves me right back. Loving whoever He caught in our wide net today. Loving with a fervent, earnest, stretched-out 1 Peter love that breaks through glass ceilings and pulls up to the rooftops. Loving His company, like it’s all my heart longs for.

It was about chasing | Chasing most-likely lasts and every sunset I could. Chasing the flock He handed me to run after and stay alongside and defend and push forward, push homeward. Chasing them when they invited and when they performed just-fine and when they detoured or detached. Chasing the hard-hearted campers He led me to encounter, to chase them until goodbye day because the gospel can’t be oversaid. Chasing righteousness as He sanctified me on the chase. Chasing Jesus until His dust was all over me, chasing Him right back to the Austin I once left.

It was about naming | Naming this summer my favorite, where the happy outweighed the hard a thousand times over. Naming each teammate an indispensable part of the body, and listing reasons. Naming the Paul to my Timothy, so she’d know her words weigh heaviest, so she’d know she’s why I came back. Naming the Shepherds, the Teachers, the Fighters, those of influence and those with hearts of straight gold. Naming women Enough. Naming what’s rare in them, the pieces God spent the most time detailing. Naming myself the names He gives me, and naming Him right.

It was about noticing | Noticing the kids on the fringes, the disinterested, the distant. Noticing good in the anyones—like He made me to, way back when. Noticing the good and faithfuls not asking for thanks or attention, those who don’t aim to be noticed or to impress. Noticing old tendencies spring up or moments I’d hear out the liar, and noticing the Holy Spirit steer my ship back His direction. Noticing God’s hand over every square inch and intention of this place, His touch turning really anything to straight gold. Noticing because I’ve never felt more noticed.

It was about trusting | Trusting that being here was the best yes, that my long-ago reasons are irrelevant but I matter here and by-miracle made it back here. Trusting people, a whole lot. Trusting Him when He’d sideline me though the game’s all I knew and wished for. Trusting Him to restore what was worn or torn in me, to diffuse righteousness right into my system. Trusting He’s active and at work the days I can’t quite see it, that His word does not fall early or return void. Trusting my God to take notice, and take care of all of these acres and my little heart. Trusting the Promise-Maker to be the Promise-Keeper too.

It was about standing | Standing up front and speaking His name loud when He let me, and standing backstage or way-back when it was my turn to watch. Standing for capital-T Truth, standing because Grace straight deserves it. Standing up and fighting hard and loud for the gospel, relentless and brave and no-matter-what. Standing up in power, not shrinking back in timidity. Standing when my knees shook or my feet hurt, armored up at the frontlines—only to watch Him stay giants and dominions without a movement of mine.

It was about staying | Staying up late for story time and companionship’s sake. Staying okay though my Young Life sisters rolled across state lines where I’m not. Staying all there 13 whole weeks in my happiest place—rooted beneath rocks, dirt, dust, freedom. Staying, sitting still though I’m restless and crave change, though this next chapter of mine’s dangled pretty right in front of me and I just want to get there already. Staying inside the wake of His movement, His action—refusing to hang back or veer too far to the right or left. Staying on course, though He stirred waters wild and sent sails flying. Staying until the finish.

It was about readying | Readying camp itself for two hundred wide-eyed kids, Sunday after Sunday to make room for the Kingdom to come here. Readying bible studies and hamburger milkshakes and readying my Timothys to fish the way He tells us to. Readying shaky hands for a bigger role and bigger question marks on the rise. Readying my heart that He calls able, readying me like Joshua next in line. Readying me for the landing, for the shore I’ve waited for.

It was about remembering | Remembering two summers ago when my God woke me to Life here. Remembering why I’m back by-miracle here in the first place, so He’s got to be up to something here. Remembering first half victories in the rearview to better press through the home stretch. Remembering and writing out all the ways the Lord came through for me this summer. Remembering that Wednesdays are the real paydays because paychecks can’t compare to our forever reward. Remembering my 12-year-old decision that flipped my world right side up, and my perpetual joy since.

It was about celebrating | Celebrating salvation well before kids came, celebrating forty five baptisms—two of which I’ll never ever forget. Celebrating, and squeezing tight two of my sisters as the Holy Spirit washed away yesterdays, and pulling them out of living Water to a forever family celebrating. Celebrating as He turned twos to tens! Celebrating like heaven every name that called Him theirs this week, the Kingdom expanding kid by kid. Celebrating and high-fiving at every Saturday checkpoint, celebrating with a million hallelujahs at the three-month finish.

It was about finishing | Finishing and refusing to forget. Finishing, looking a whole lot different than the way I walked in.

Hallelujahs and a hundred thank Yous, for the summer I fully believed You delight in me. I am my Abba’s child, and there’s not a name I’d more proudly bear. Thanks for my Promised Land this side of heaven–I’m convinced it looks a whole lot like Up There.


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