Let’s Talk.

Yes, my generation has problems. Some describe us as self-centered and uninterested with the real world that envelops us. The older generations are constantly saying that our virtual reality takes precedent over our current situation.

“Millennials are selfish consumers of social media.” -Justin Lafazan

Mr Lafazan isn’t wrong. I see his point. I hear it and acknowledge it. Today I saw this. My apologizes for the bad image quality, but as I walked out of Composition class I couldn’t resist snapping a photograph of the sadness that loomed in that hallway.fullsizerender-2 I will not apologize for being melodramatic in this observation. It was a sad sight. There are over 15 people in that hallway and not one is talking.

I am willing to bet that 75% of them aren’t actually texting someone. The reason I defer to this assumption is because I am just as guilty doing this. We all know how this happens. You arrive early to a class, meeting or new area and you don’t know people. Our natural reaction is to whip out our Extra Limb (cell phone) and scroll mindlessly through any social media account we behold. So the next few people arrive, and they see the first person sitting on their phone so they proceed to the same action.

I walked by all of these people, and I turned around to capture it but I really wanted to scream at all of them. It angers me because I have been in this situation a million times and I had the same reaction, I pulled out my phone.

Before you stop reading, I am not here to criticize social media, technology or our generation. Like I said, I know we have problems. The technological advances will not cease to exist anytime soon nor will social media go away. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do about it so I did the only thing I know, to write and make others aware.

The crazy part is there are 15 unique individuals in that hallway. Not one is the same. They do not have the same dreams, aspirations or struggles. They do not look the same, have the same stories or love the same things I do. Yes, Cameron way to state the obvious.

In all seriousness, I have come to the conclusion that we are all intrinsically focused on pleasing a fraction of people through a virtual image of ourselves. Those people were surrounded by 14 other different individuals yet they looked to their phones. I might have 500 followers on Twitter and 400 on Instagram. Three people might read this blog post. We constantly scroll through the thoughts and feelings of people we are acquainted with. But it is one thing to know about someone and another to know someone.

All of those people on our own feeds and sites are mostly acquaintances that we know of. We should jump at the opportunity to meet someone new and actually get to know them.

There were 15 people in that hallway and none of them were talking. What if the next time you’re in a room full of people you don’t know, you speak. Instead of glancing at the media posts of people you barely know on a screen, we might engage in a stimulating conversation. I don’t think I’m shooting for the stars here.

We need actual conversation, not virtual conversation.

With Love,

Cam

 

 

First Semester in a Nutshell

Hi everyone, I know it has been awhile since I last wrote (approximately three months), my apologies. Let me start by saying, college is much harder than high school, but it is SO much better.

More importantly, I survived the first semester. Exams were a true test of how much caffeine my body could handle without completely shutting down. I also learned that drinking coffee black is not a terrible thing (desperate times call for desperate measures). I learned that I have a whole team of sisters that will always support me. I also met some people who I know will be in my life for a very long time.

Logistically, I ended with decent grades and kept my head above water (most of the time). Our basketball team sits at 6-4 on the season and I couldn’t be happier for our team. I might not be playing, but I am confident that God is still using each of us on that team, for His own purpose.

This leads me to the main focus of this blog post. Yes, I made it through the first semester but that is not what matters. I could have gotten C’s and still found joy at the end of it all and that is because of everything that has happened. I’m not saying that I am this whole new changed person. I am saying that God is working, and it is so evident, and I want to share what He is doing.

I am going to attempt to summarize just how He is shaping my heart, but I might lack the proper words to do so at times, so just bear with me.

It all stems from this phrase that I read in one of my recent, favorite reads; Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy where she talks about God whispering in her ear: “Stop trying to fit Me into your life; instead, build your life around Me.” This phrase hit me like a freight train because God had become a mark on my check list, and everything else seemed to come before Him. I realized that I have always been so focused on doing the right thing. Whether that meant getting good grades, being the best athlete I could be, being a leader or saying the right things. I realized that I have been building my life around a standard that can never be reached, a worldly standard where I will always long for something more. It was not wrong to strive to be the best, but nothing will ever fulfill me like working for the Lord’s purpose, according to His faithful love. 

One particularly rough night this semester, I opened up my bible to Psalms because it is a book of praises and prayers, which I was definitely in search of. One particular verse stuck out in the text:

Psalm 143:8

“Let me experience your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in you. Reveal to me the way I should go because I long for you.”

So I kept looking around this verse. I found Psalm 143:12 “And in your faithful love destroy my enemies.” Also, Psalm 144:2, “He is my faithful love and my fortress” and Psalm 145:8, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love.” Finally, Psalm 130:7, “Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For there is faithful love with the Lord” and Pslam 141:5, “Let the righteous one strike me – it is an act of faithful love.”

The truth of it was, I was looking for that “missing piece” and His love in every other place besides the Lord. I looked for validation and joy in athletic success, writing, grades, social status, a guy, and so many other places. That love and validation that I long for, is the faithful love that only God can provide.

God has a plan more perfect than any of us can imagine, His faithful love is something we all need to experience and have before we can find love in a relationship or glorify Him in a way that is sufficient.

This semester definitely was not a cake walk, and things might not work out how I always want them too. However, God provides a faithful love that will always prevail and remain true, no matter what is happening in our lives.

Love, Cam

 

What would the world be without “likes”?

What what the world be without “likes”? Another way to phrase this… What would the world be without social currency? Let me explain.

Social currency is the status that comes from relating to others. This relation can come through wearing a certain brand or style, recommending a good restaurant or keeping current on the latest trends. For example if I were still in high school and I wore a new Vineyard Vines shirt, white converse and leggings that might give me social currency because it seems to be the current trend and people relate to it.

So what I am really asking, is what would a world without validation be like? What would Instagram or Facebook be without likes? Or Twitter without favorites? As I was scrolling through my news feed on Twitter last night, I couldn’t help but imagine what social media would be without validation.

I have come to the conclusion that we live in a world where validation or lack thereof drives our necessity to improve. It drives the way we act, speak, dress, work, love, and so much more. Some people say they do not care, but they are still trying to earn social currency in some way. Take a look at our comments too. Validation of beauty is expressed with fire emojis or heart eyes. Why do we not just tell each other? The comment space it there for us to speak, to write. Since when did an acceptable compliment become “OMG😍😍😍”

Our success and drive to reach higher always can use encouragement but encouragement and validation are two different things. The amount of “likes” or “favorites” you get on a post should not be motivation to improve. Anyone can validate your being just as they can denounce it.

So back to the main question.. What would a world without likes look like? It would force us to find our identity in something or someone other than social media. It does help to be current with the times, however that circumstantial happiness that comes from momentary validation cannot sustain itself.

So the next time you go to comment on a picture or a post, make your words mean something. Or rather, tell that person when you see them. Social currency and social media is a big part of our lives but it doesn’t have to drive our actions and how we treat people.

P.S. I realize the irony of this being posted on a blog, however a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do 🙂

-Cam

 

Happiness vs. Joy

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Yes, I am still alive and well in Ohio. I am well aware that it is called the armpit of America but I couldn’t be more certain, it is where God wants me to be. Cedarville has been a blessing in so many ways, and I’ve only been here for three weeks. This post is not about how much I love college though, it is about something so much more important.

Happiness. Rather, why happiness is not sufficient for us.

This is essentially what we all strive for. Whether it is through money, success, a family, material mass or other things. We all want to be happy.

One of the perks of going to a Christ-centered school is that we have Sports Fellowship Night every other Monday night. All of the sports teams get together on campus for a couple hours to worship and listen to a given team speak about the Lord. This past week our Men’s and Women’s basketball teams conducted the evening and I had the privilege of listening to one of my good friends preach on the subject of happiness.

You see, all of the things of this world tell us to “be happy”. We hear it from Bobby Mcferrin in his “Don’t worry, be Happy” and from Pharrell Williams who wants us to clap along with him. There are even youtube videos for “Happy” by Pharrell which will play the song for an hour straight as if to increase your happiness. To be honest, I am one of those people who has played it repeatedly. The end result is usually annoyance more so than happiness however.

The point is, we are all searching for this happiness that we see in tv ads or movies. The happiness of a couple in a Nicholas Sparks movie or the bliss experienced when unwrapping a dove chocolate. What we neglect to realize is, happiness in this world is fleeting and that is what my friend shared with all of us. Happiness is circumstantial. For example, I love my sister a lot but if I take her clothes (borrow as I like to call it) and ruin them, she will no longer have that happiness. The same holds true when you take ice cream away from a child… the happiness is gone when the sugar is.

So what then do we run towards? Or rather who do we run towards? We should sprint with reckless abandon towards Joy and Jesus. Now joy, is not interchangeable with happiness. Joy is what we find in God.

My friend referred to the loss of a close friend. He lost someone important in his life, and he was definitely sad. However he found joy in knowing that his friend was in heaven with Jesus. Joy is eternal, happiness is fleeting. Joy is the peace you find in Jesus, it is the love that never fails. It means being satisfied with life because you know that God is working for the good. Joy is something that will never be found in this world, and it knows not the limits of time.

I am just as much guilty of looking for happiness in all the wrong places. The truth is, no brand, job, vacation, car or single person can bring you happiness. I am not meaning to sound harsh but it is true. We all fall short, and just as this world might offer happiness for a day or two, it is lost just as quickly. Joy on the other hand, is eternally found in Him who is bigger than all of us or any of our problems.

So now I leave you with truth from Romans 15:13.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit.”

Just remember happiness is a choice but Joy is a given when God is in your life. I don’t know about you all, but I would much rather experience pure joy than circumstantial happiness.

 

 

One last post from Michigan

Reality is sneaking up on me. It is now August 19 and I move into college today. Who thought this day would ever come? Our family recently got back from our annual trip up north, which is my favorite place on earth and summer is coming to a quick close. Here is one last summer update of mumbo jumbo and last minute thoughts.

There are two things we need to discuss first though. This Northern Michigan that I speak of is not Mackinac Island. When I say “Northern Michigan” I mean Lac La Belle, MI which is exactly nine hours and 22 minutes from my house, which is where our cabin is. Yes, you can drive nine plus hours north and still be in the same state. Second, when in the upper peninsula we have these things called saunas. They are pronounced SOW-na, not Saw-na. Now I feel much better that we have that cleared up.

If you have never been to the U.P. you are missing out. It is as simple as that. Everyone wonders why I would want to ride in a car for nine hours sandwiched between my two siblings to see stretches of trees and road, only to arrive at a place where we clean up in the lake and cell service is unheard of. But that is the reason it holds such a special place in my heart.

I was talking to my friend when we were at the cabin and I asked him his favorite part about the cabin. He replied, “the meals.” I laughed at his answer at first but if you think about it, God could have designed us so that we didn’t need food to survive. Nutrition could have been hard wired within us. He created it for connection and for joining with others to break bread, give thanks and have fellowship. Honestly, when do you ever enjoy a meal by yourself? Food was meant to be done with others. That is another great part about the cabin, we sit down and eat together for almost every meal. There is no rush, no schedule, just people to talk with and listen to.

So often we lose sight of these simple gifts. The gift of family, community, friends, and love. If you take away all the electronics, luxuries, basically all the noise, what are you left with? All you have is God, those gifts and God’s creation in front of you. These are the only things we can count on in life. Being on the lake with my family, my people, always seems to center me in a way that I cannot explain. It is a disconnect from the world, but a connection to the things that really matter.

Now for something random and a little different. I’m not trying to be Doctor Phil here but I always need a little reminder on where my trust should lie (with Jesus) and who/what is important. So try this. Grab a pen and some paper. Make a list of the top 10 necessities in your life, I found this to be harder than it seems but here is an example in no particular order:

  1. God
  2. Family (this includes furry friends in my book) 🙂
  3. Friends
  4. Love
  5. Knowledge
  6. Basketball
  7. Food/water
  8. Adventure
  9. Clothing
  10. Shelter

Now take your list and scribble out four items, now two more, then one and that should leave you with three things if I can still do simple math (which is a struggle during the summer). So what are the three most important things in your life? If you really want to throw yourself for a loop, get it down to one thing and be honest with yourself. This is what our cabin does for me. It allows me to see what my focus should be on.

This year will the exciting and tough but I can’t wait for it to begin! Now here are some pictures of the place that is my true home and my favorite place. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

Michigan Day Trip: Pine River

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Let me preface this by saying, I am so thankful for my parents. No I am not writing that to give me a boost up in the potential favorite child category, I am just thankful for how they love to try new things and places.

The Pine River was one of those fantastic new places. It took us just under two hours to make the drive north to Wellston, MI for a new kayaking adventure. Kirsten and I passed the time watching Endless Love, while Grant passed out in the backseat. We were blessed with beautiful weather and had a great day, so I wanted to share our fabulous adventure with you all!

We had a later start and did not arrive at the Pine River Paddlesports Center until around 3pm. Now this Center is a pretty cool place. Please excuse my lack of better adjectives, but it is. They have a campground on site and canoes, paddle boards, kayaks (of course), or you can even go rafting. However we did the kayaking, which I highly recommend. We took a two hour trip because you have to be off the river by 6pm and it was the less rowdy section of the river. Apparently the three hour trip is a little more strenuous and attracts more of the river crazies, so the two hour trip suited us just fine.

Now the Pine River is like your Grandma, you just have to respect her. It is unlike the Thornapple River which is closer to our home. The Pine has class one rapids so you have to watch out for rocks and getting pulled into fallen trees. Nonetheless a good time but if you have small children, I would take double kayaks. On the flip side, it is what I call “lazy man’s kayaking”. You don’t have to paddle much, besides avoiding some debris and rocks so you don’t become a beached whale.

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DCIM101GOPRO

Now for the actual adventure. We were blessed with a sunny, warm day. The trip was complete with open facing tie-dye kayaks (my favorite). We hopped on the river after some short instructions from the owner and we were off. We played tag on the river, which turned into bumper kayaks and stopped for a snack break along the way. The water was refreshing to say the least so I did not go swimming on this particular day. However we did see some people canoeing that weren’t paying attention and went for a swim. That was another perk, was all the friendly people. Everyone was out enjoying the sun and not afraid to talk your ear off while paddling down the river.

We finished up around 6pm and luckily, Ludington, MI was 45 minutes from the Paddlesports center. Our tummies were grumbling and a few of us had the hangries (hungry and angry) which meant dinner at Jamesport Brewing Company. If you ever get the chance to eat there, the perch appetizer is exquisite and the entrees were scrumptious too. After dinner we headed to the beach to throw around a frisbee and walk down the pier. The day would not be complete without a trip to House of Flavors for some of the best ice cream in Michigan, because it’s a sin to pass up ice cream on such a perfect summer day. Not to mention it’s an absolute must when in Ludington, and I ordered the Carrot Cake which is to die for.

I do not want to admit it, but summer is coming to a close soon. This day trip is a great way to spend time with friends or family. It was around $50/person to kayak and you can pack your own lunch for on the river and split gas which makes for an inexpensive adventure. Let me know if you get to explore the river or any other neat place in the area. Our family had a blast and I hope yours will too!

Love, Cam

I am Graduated. Now what.

IMG_9736There is this question that I have been asked more times than I’ve eaten chocolate. Which is a lot of times if you know my love for sweets. Everyone has been asking, “How does it feel to be graduated?”

It feels great. I feel like a middle schooler who just got her first cell phone or a dog eating peanut butter. There is so much happiness that I cannot contain it.

It is funny because it seems like people want this big drawn out response. I want to tell them that it’s horrible, just to see their reactions. Enough of this rambling, I have a point to this post.

So…. graduation. I have the diploma. The celebration is over. Now I have the rest of my life ahead of me. This is essentially a new chapter, so the blog is going to begin a new chapter as well. I am going to do more consistent updates, with more of daily happenings, especially since mileage will be separating me from the people I see everyday come August.

Now for an update. Life is good. Summer weather is perfect. My time is spent working out, playing basketball, spending time with family and friends and going on the occasional road trip. I am taking it day by day. I just picked up some new books, so hopefully some book reviews will be coming soon. Now I leave you with a quote because quotes are cliche, but they make the world go round. Here is one of my favorites; Walt Disney tells us, “All our dreams can come true. If we have the courage to pursue them.” So have the courage to pursue them. Even if someone deems your dream stupid, because it’s your dream not theirs.

Do something out of the norm. A dream is not supposed to be easy to pursue, and sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader to make it happen. As my brother would say, “haters will be haters.” Decide what your dream is and do it.

More posts coming soon!

Love, Cam

 

 

The Right Advice

All my life I have looked up to people older than I, to guide me in the right direction. I am the oldest child in my family, so naturally I am also the Guinea pig for everything. 

High school was the first real test of not having an older sibling. I had upperclassmen that I trusted, and my parents have always looked out for me. But now I know that they were not always giving me the right advice. Let me explain.

There is one phrase and one word that I have heard countless times. It is advice that I realize now, was not right. They all said “Be Yourself” and always mentioned this thing called a “reputation”. Most importantly, they used the terms together. High school was supposedly a place where I could be myself and build a reputation. 

However “be yourself” meant being smart, well-rounded, well-liked, athletic and engulfed in all things stereotypical high school. It was being myself within reason, never too nerdy so that I would fit with the sports crowd but nerdy enough to make an impact in my AP classes. 

But what part of being yourself means toning down all parts of me? Or molding them to something different?

My most fatal flaw throughout high school, has been that I cared what others thought, and that is why being myself meant being someone else. 

So if I could be that upperclassmen, giving advice to those who are entering the fastest four years of your life, I would say this:”if you are going to be yourself, be you, and not the you that everyone else wants you to be.” Oh and that word reputation, do not let it concern you. If you are kind to people and you work hard, your actions can speak louder than any words ever said about you. 

I am not disregarding the great advice I have gotten over the years. However I do wish someone would have told me this before I entered high school, or at least realized it a month before graduation. 

Life has so many possibilities but if being yourself means constantly worrying about what others think. You have it all wrong. 

We all have a path.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our personal journeys.  Each of us has our own path. Our paths intersect so often and sometimes we rarely notice it. Other times people will significantly impact our lives for better or worse. Some call it destiny, I call it God’s plan. 

I was recently in Biggby one morning after a bible study just catching up on some reading. A man sitting just one table over, struck up a conversation with me. I did not know him but we ended up talking for 45 minutes. In the short period of time I managed to share part of my life story and he shared some of his.  

Now a little backstory…

I had been praying about a relationship that was weighing very heavily on my heart for the past week. A relationship with another person who had impacted my life in so many ways both good and bad. I was praying for discernment and understanding, because I honestly had no idea what to do. 
After a good amount of talking, this particular man at Biggby recited one of my favorite verses back to me. It is Proverbs 3:5-6…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” 
I needed that. God knew I needed that wisdom and He used this man I had never met to share it with me. I did not need understanding, I just needed to lean on the Lord’s understanding. I know the verse by heart but God used this man to speak His words when I needed them most. 

Even when we know the truth and we forget, God is always there. We just have to listen.

People often say life is a roller coaster ride and a rocky road, certainly never straight. The thing is, we believe the road is curvy because of all the mistakes we make and so called “wrong turns” because society has deemed it to be this way. God makes our paths straight because there are no wrong turns when you are walking with Him. He goes before us and knows our life plan before we even enter the world. 

Today I rest in that peace. He will make my paths straight. He knows the journey ahead. We only have to listen and lean on His understanding.      

What makes life a daring adventure?

You know that saying… “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Over the past year I have been trying to figure out what a daring adventure looks like. Maybe it is a Mid-Senior year crisis, but I am in a rut. The long, cold days are not helping either. I have come to the conclusion, that maybe this daring adventure sometimes involves nothing at all.

Let me explain… Helen Keller was not wrong when she said this, but I think she missed the point. A daring adventure can only hold that title if surrounded by instances of simplicity. My life thus far has been a daring adventure, not because of utter spontaneity, but rather enjoying the simple things. Those simple things most of the time involve doing nothing at all. Whether it is reading a book at the local coffee shop or listening to music on a rainy day. Those are some of the things that contribute to this daring adventure we call life.

I have also been to Europe, played a lot of basketball, and gone cliff jumping in Northern Michigan. I have sat in the salty waves off the coast of Santa Cruz, California while seals munched on kelp right next to my surf board. I have also been at home, sprawled out on my bedroom floor like a star, staring at the ceiling.

That is the thing about life though, it is an adventure that involves the times when you do nothing and when you do something. All that matters, is that you do.