If I could relive one season of my life over again - not to change anything, but simply because it was that awesome - I'd pick the summer of 2008. Easy choice. I was 18 years old, I had just graduated from high school, I was working at camp, I was living with some of my greatest friends in the word, and I was buying Skittles with some random ginger kid ;) The weeks were filled with hiking, guitars, and campfires, and the weekends were filled with two-toned ENO hammocks, waterfalls, and even larger campfires. Life was absolutely perfect, in every sense of the word.
And then... I was asked to be the elementary Bible study leader during the second-to-last week of camp. Long story short, I was incredibly nervous, but it ended up being one of the most wonderful experiences to challenge and strengthen my own faith unlike ever before. I was a straight-up rock star that week! But seriously, God was the rock star, and I was humbled that He could use me to do so many wonderful things in His name.
The grand finale of the week was Thursday night's closing worship, centered around Matthew 5:14. At the end of the night, every camper had the opportunity to come forward and fling some paint on a blank canvas, symbolizing the mark they were going to go out and make on the world. We emphasized that everyone has something to contribute - everyone has a gift to share - and while a splatter of paint here & there seems rather insignificant, it can ultimately create a masterpiece.
And what a masterpiece they created! It wasn't a traditional worship service; it was incredibly messy & fun. Giggles & laugher danced in the air along with the paint sent flying in every direction... no hushing or fussing to sit and be quiet. There I was, surrounded by a group of 8-10 year olds worshipping God through art and color and praise, and it was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
I kept the canvas after summer ended; it reminded me of so many things that I never wanted to forget. However, it's huge. These pictures don't really give you anything to compare it to, but trust me... it's huge. Definitely not convenient for packing into my baby SUV and toting across the state to hang in my 3rd floor dorm room. I have a million and one ideas of cutting it into several smaller canvases or doing something else equally awesome, but until then, it resides against a wall in my parents' house.
Insert little sister. That week in 2008 where I led Bible studies and worships just happened to be the first week that Katherine ever volunteered as a counselor. It was really neat to share that experience with her, especially since it was something I had loved for so long. We got to watch each other shine & do something different & be really proud of one another, and I'm so glad she got to witness one of my "rock star" moments :)
Fast forward three and a half years. Awesomeness isn't the only thing that runs in our family... creativity is pretty predominant as well, so Katherine decided to make me something for Christmas this year. She realized that the giant splatter paint canvas was too large to hang in my current room and went to work creating a much smaller (yet equally meaningful) reminder of that summer.
[It came attached with a disclaimer that she made it months in advance, well before she had ever discovered Pinterest, which makes it all the more impressive.]
The verse is directly quoted from Matthew 5:14 in the Message - I had painted it in black along the top of the original canvas.
Don't you just love it? Little sister did good!
And now, this pretty little baby is hanging up in my room: a wonderful reminder of an incredible summer & an even more incredible calling.