One Thing at a Time

I am often overwhelmed at the sheer volume of information that is available for us to take in on a daily basis, particularly via the Internet. Sometimes I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed of links, shared articles, blogs, and videos and I wonder how anyone ever effectively communicates anything anymore. As soon as the information appears in front of us, it’s gone and something else takes its place. We are inundated at every turn with 12 steps for this and a remedy for that and a video that promises you’ve never seen anything like this before. There is a BuzzFeed list for every imaginable scenario under the sun like “27 Things Zombies and Puppies Have in Common” or “41 Things You Never Knew About Ponytails” or perhaps you’ve always wanted to see what men in Disney cartoons would look like without beards. That’s a real one, by the way.

Everything has to be extreme to grab our attention because so many things are competing. So usually the title will be something like: “Blind Kitten Rescues Boy From Frozen Lake…But You Won’t Believe What Happens Next…” I bet I will believe it. Other examples of gross exaggeration in titling include any use of the following phrases:

“This will leave you speechless.” (If you mean that I’ll never admit to another person I actually took the time to watch that video, then you’re right.)

“This will be the most inspiring thing you see all day.” (That one was actually in reference to a video about a husky puppy learning to howl. I bet it won’t be the  most inspiring thing I see all day. At least I hope not.)

“This will bring you to tears.” (Nope. Ok, unless it’s an Olympics commercial. Then, maybe.)

The real problem though is that we see hundreds or maybe thousands of these messages every single day. Each one is competing for our attention. Each one promises better, more interesting, more applicable information than the one before. And we read the article or watch the video and then we move on to the next and the next. How much do we soak in? How much do we really digest? What sticks? (Here’s a great piece from Seth Godin on this: Trapped by tl;dr)

This is why there is and will always be immeasurable value in reading an actual book. A book takes time. Online, we read a 750 word article about the latest, juiciest topic of conversation and then immediately click another link to see pictures of cats wearing bow ties. Our brains can only do that so many times before turning to mush (this is clearly based on hard scientific data).

But a book has a singular focus. An overarching message. It takes the reader on a journey from point A to point B. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction. The significance of the book is the investment of time the reader must make. A book moves the reader along a path of discovery. You have to make a commitment to read a book; you must carve time out of your busy schedule. You must choose to concentrate on one topic, one story for an extended amount of time. This is not how the majority of things in our culture today operate. We like fast. We like immediate results. We like instant gratification. Books can provide none of these things. They take time. Maybe hours, maybe days, maybe weeks. Or in the case of some very excellent fiction series, they could take years.

Instead of 750 words on a topic, you get 60,000. You get to sit with the words, soak them in, highlight them. Put them on the shelf and then reread them later. You’re not distracted by whatever else is popping up in your newsfeed. You get to slow down and think about this one thing. Love. Marriage. Redemption. The faithfulness of God. The pain of loss. Mystery. The Civil War. Hobbits. Elves. You name it.

Try it. Find a good book. (I can recommend a few.) Find a quiet space. Make some time. Turn off the noise. Discover something slowly. One thing at a time.

Note: I completely see and understand the irony of blogging about the overabundance of information on the Internet and essentially adding to the noise. To that I offer the age old wisdom of “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” In other words, don’t throw your Internet service provider out the window. Just pick up a book every now and then and enjoy a change of pace.

Packing Up the Dreams God Planted

Most of you that I have been doing life with over the last 2 months are aware of a major change taking place in my life right now! But since I have been engulfed in camp life since the middle of May, contact with the “outside world” has been minimal. So here is my life update.

After 14 years of involvement in camp ministry, I am officially stepping out of the event planning world and venturing into the world of publishing. You know, there are those times when there is just a perfect storm of God speaking to you through loved ones, events, circumstances and His word. The past 6 months have been that perfect storm. The result is that this summer was my last summer with camps and this fall marks the beginning of a new role as Acquisitions Editor working with B&H Women. Don’t ask me what all that means, because I’m still not entirely sure yet! What I do know is that God has been preparing me in ways I never could have imagined. I think over my years with FUGE Camps and think about parts of my “job box” that I took on over the years where I was stretched and did things I didn’t expect to be doing. And now I sit in a new chair and I can see how all those things have prepared me for this specific role.

Being a Coordinator for FUGE was an absolute dream job. Camp (not always FUGE, but camp in general) was life-changing for me as a camper, as a staffer and as a full-time Coordinator. From the time that I was 17, I felt called to camp ministry. The summers of 1998 and 1999 (FRESH out of high school) were spent with Student Life – basically unpaid and doing lots of dirty work! But man, those summers were amazing. I was whisked away from small town East Texas and was thrown into relationships with godly, creative, passionate, fun, young adults that loved me like a little sister (since I was only 17 at the time) and taught me about life, faith and of course how to run awesome camp. Then a few summers later I joined the ranks of FUGE staffers – a family I am so proud to be a part of. I had no idea what I was getting into that summer. No idea the life-change that God had in store that summer or the 7 other summers to come.

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When Jeff Pratt called me in November of 2009 to officially offer me the Coordinator position, it was literally a dream come true. It was all I ever wanted to be and all I could imagine myself doing. This was it. The dream job. Now 4 years later, I’ve packed up those dreams and moved my random, but profoundly sentimental, memorabilia over to a new office (things like duct tape picture frames, “The Stinky Cheese Man” book and a little stuffed turtle). My personal timeline for “when to get off the camp train” did NOT include a stop in 2013. But as we know, God’s timeline and our timeline do not always line up. And the funny thing is, God started preparing my heart long before this new job opportunity was ever an option on the table. I didn’t know why but God had taken me on a journey from “I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else” to “I love what I do, but I can at least imagine doing something else” to “I love what I do, but maybe I could even be excited about something else.” I didn’t know why God was doing that at the time, but now I do. So that when the time came to make the decision about the offer on the table, I could say “yes” and have peace. And I do. I feel very blessed to be moving into my second full-time position at LifeWay and to still be excited about what I do. I am thankful for the people that have spoken wise words into my life in the past 6 months through this process and for the Lord’s guidance throughout. And more than I could ever put into words, I am thankful for 14 summers of camp, 300+ teammates, 350+ staffers I’ve coordinated, thousands of students, 80+ Mega Relays, an office staff that was more like family and the list goes on and on and on…

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