Nebraska.

I’ve been trying to write a blog post for the last 10 days. I’ve been trying my very hardest to describe exactly how I’m feeling. I’ve sat in front of my laptop screen that many times and I haven’t been able to write. All the emotions are right there but nothing flowed like it normally would. I couldn’t understand why.

Last night I became very overwhelmed with all the emotions I was feeling and had been feeling over the last 12 days of being in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska. I came to realise that I wasn’t able to express myself because I wasn’t sorting through all the things I was feeling. I started speaking to my mum, my roommate and one of my new best friends from America about what was going through my brain. I realised I feel torn. I feel torn because I knew that I would absolutely fall in love with Nebraska, I knew it but I didn’t know I would be blessed enough to experience the feelings I am feeling right now. I didn’t know that I was going to make friends with some of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met, Ones that are kind and genuine, ones that lift you up everyday, constantly make you laugh and give you cuddles whenever you need it, friends that I now consider my family and I’ve know them for less than 2 weeks. I din’t know that I was going to be blessed to live in a host home with the most beautiful family! I didn’t know that Nebraska would be so damn beautiful, the city, the landscape, THE SUNSETS, the corn fields, the s’mores! I didn’t know that I was going to be blessed enough to work in a place where you instantly feel the presence of Jesus as soon as you drive into the driveway. I didn’t know how much I would feel like I belong at camp Sonshine. I didn’t know that my relationship with Jesus was going to go to the heights that it has because it’s just me and him on this crazy, incredible journey. I didn’t know that my heart was going to be filled with gratitude when I hear what my campers learnt through the day, when they pray to God or that they are just as thankful for me as I am for them. I feel torn because I feel like this is home and that in its self is conflicting because how can I feel more comfortable here than I do when I’m back in Australia? I feel stuck because I just don’t want to leave and I don’t know what’s next.

I was having some quiet time with the Lord just praying and seeking for answers.

He answered instantly with three things…

  1. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
  2. Isaiah 43:19 – See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
  3. Genesis 12:1 – “Leave your native country, your relatives and your fathers family, and go to the land that I will show you”.

I’m forever on a journey of trusting the Lord, having patience and having faith. I know that he knows what’s best for me and he knows exactly how my future is going to play out.

I’m embracing this season of Nebraska with all of my heart because I am experiencing more than just happiness being here, I’m experiencing pure joy.

Try and imagine your favourite everything – The things that instantly make your heart bubble up with joy and bring you complete peace. Now times that by 10 and that’s about half of the happiness I’m experiencing.

I am so thankful for this journey so far and I am beyond excited to see what the next 9 weeks will bring if this is what I’ve gotten out of the first 12 days of being here.

By Bethany Calverley.

Called.

If you were to tell me a year ago that I’d be sitting and writing this blog in a host home in Lincoln, Nebraska serving on a summer camp called camp sonshine I think I’d honestly laugh in your face. I love, love, love that most of the time God’s plan is not our plan.

This week we dove straight into training and preparation for the next 9 weeks to come. For my first week of camp I have been placed with 8 and 9 year olds. For one of our training modules we got given time to spend in solitude with the Lord and we were encouraged to think of a vision for this summer. Something that will keep us going, something we can come back to when times get tough and something that can be our very drive to keep going.

God says when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. During my moments of solitude I was challenged. I know that being here is a massive part of my personal Journey and It’s a new season for me but I just really felt God say this isn’t all about you. You are here to serve, I am using you as a vessel for others to know me!

With that being said my vision for this summer is to be an encourager!

When I first got accepted into camp Sonshine I remember going out to mum saying..“This seems like a camp I would have needed when I was younger.”

Growing up I was such an anxious, insecure little being and a lot of the time I was teased or judged for who I was. I don’t believe any child should be made to feel like that.

My purpose for this summer is to help every child know they are loved, worthy, treasured and valued by a King who loves them for THEM. I want to empower them to be themselves and be comfortable with who they are.

Psalm 139:1-18

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.

You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.

You know everything I do.

You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.

You go before me and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!

I can never get away from your presence!

If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.

If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.

I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.

They cannot be numbered!

I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up, you are still with me!

I know It’s such a cliche thing for a Christian to have a vision like this but knowing yourself and being comfortable in yourself and in Christ is HUGE! I honestly believe it is going to set these children up for a life of abundance and complete happiness.

This week God showed me this journey is not just about me anymore, it’s about others and its about being completely obedient and trusting to his will.

This week I learnt that I have been called to serve, I have been called to be a leader and I now know that I am more than capable of doing this because in his strength he is going to equip me.

What an honour.

By Bethany Calverley.

 

Courtney Watson!

My Beautiful Courtney! I met Court about a year and a half ago studying the same course at Tafe. I didn’t ever think that we would be as close as we are and I am beyond thankful that we share the friendship we do today. Courtney is a forever friend and a soul sister. She has done nothing but blossom into this beautiful, wonderful and crazy confident woman! Her beauty Journey is amazing. Thank you for letting me capture you and thank you for your honest words my incredible, fearless, courageous friend xxx

Written by Courtney Watson.

Age 21.

1. What is your idea of beauty? Beauty is you. Beauty is all of us. Beauty is the world that we live in and what and who we surround ourselves with each and every day. Our minds. How different each of us are and how we all look and experience all things so differently. Our minds, our bodies and our spirit. Beauty truly is endless. Beauty is feeling, feeling joy, feeling pain, feeling sadness, giving love and being loved. Our mental capabilities are incredible and it is these things that make us who we are and individual with our own spark of magic to share in this world.

2. Where do you place your worth?My worth is up to me, it sits in my hands and my heart. I struggled when I was younger with my self worth but I think that all just comes with time and truly understanding and learning about who you are and once I came to peace with who I am and had the ability to love me, I was proud. Proud of who I am and all that I’ve been through to become me. Just like we all have and will.

3. What has been your biggest obstacle in your self worth journey? If you asked me this a few years ago I would have said how I saw myself. But ask me this today, and that would not even enter my mind. Through all experiences there was always a struggle but each obstacle made me who I am and gave me the outlook I have on life and everything that is thrown in my direction. As much as I sometimes wish that I didn’t have the body image struggles that I did in my school years I am also grateful because it gave me the strength and love that I do today! There is always a positive in every negative.”Change your thoughts and you change your world”

4. What has been your greatest achievement in your self worth journey? My mental and physical abilities and strength. A lot has stemmed from finding what I love to do and what/who makes me happiest. I would always push my own feelings and needs to the side and always take care of others before me. I have finally found my balance between loving others and myself all in one and eliminating all negativity from my world. I have never been more content with all of the people that play such a big part in my life today. So yes, my biggest achievement is me.

5. How do you view yourself today? Strong, loved, empathetic, positive, healthy, wise and incredibly blessed.

6. What are the three things you do to practice self love? My exercise time is me time. I forget everything and focus on me with my headphones in and music playing as loud as I want it too. I’m constantly surprised of what my body is capable of and is definitely a self-love favourite of mine that I am able to do for me. It is something that I have learnt to push myself mentally and physically more and more and has certainly helped mould me into who I am today and how I see myself.

Writing and reading is an important part of self love for me. Writing especially gives me the outlet to write down whatever it is that is in my head in that moment is such a beautiful outlet that can also give me the opportunity to reflect back on later but to also know that there is never any judgment. My words are for me.

 I also find self love when I am around people. The ones who know me best and that I appreciate more then words could ever describe. I constantly feel loved and beyond lucky when I am around my closest friends and family that always make me feel supported and over all happy and loved. When you are blessed to meet someone who makes your life flow easier and makes you laugh a lot, keep them, thats all you need.
7. If you could give advice to your younger self in regard to self worth and body image, what would it be? You are beautiful, even if you don’t see it. Your going to go through lots and lots of great times and your going to have to conquer hard times that will test you and how you see yourself but your going to make it, make it all on your own and when you truly know you and the women you become your going to appreciate all these things that now seem like big deals but will later be looked at as little pebbles in your road to finding you. Love you baby and who you are today, your one of a kind and keep on doing you! Embrace everything and everyone in your journey and love, you wear your heart on your sleeve and don’t let anyone or anything take that away from you.

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Do what makes you happy!

It’s currently 10:37 on a Wednesday morning and I’m sitting in a small little country town called Grafton while writing this.

I’m having the BIGGEST pinch me moment I’ve ever experienced.

At the very start of this year God has been talking to me all about change and speaking to me through anything, everything and everyone. It didn’t matter how or what form he spoke, it was as clear as day that change was in the making, it was coming. I waited with an eager and expectant heart to what it could be.

I guess I could say that since receiving all this exciting news about change I suddenly became very unsettled in my life as it was. I can’t really explain to you how this happened but there was a shift in my heart and from that moment everything in my life turned… I was coming into an AWFUL tradition period. From my Job, to my home life, to my friends… You name it and everything suddenly became different. I became so overwhelmed and didn’t know how to cope.

Normally, I am all for change. I’m the first person to embrace it with open arms. It’s easier said than done when your actually experiencing it for yourself though. These transition stages of life are crucial for our individual growth, they bring happiness, excitement and trust. I kind of like to view this as a life cycle of a butterfly.

We start out as a caterpillar, a cute little creature but pretty helpless in the nicest way possible. We then move onto the eating stage, when something is about to happen I know that I usually try to do anything possible just to help myself feel full and content again but a lot of the time we fill ourselves with the wrong things and it makes us feel even more lost than we already did. We then go into the most crucial stage of our journey – The cocoon. This IS the transition stage, this is where it all happens. We go through a season of dry, still and stuck – Literally. It’s a place of all things uncomfy and when your in it, it’s not enjoyable in the slightest. Suddenly, one day, it happens… You burst forth with wings into your new beginning, your new adventure. You are soaring to new heights and you are gaining a whole new perspective on your journey.

I knew this next step was going to be life changing, It was going to be my turning point. As the weeks went on I became less passionate about my job and more interested in other avenues. My faith was being strengthened. Throughout this period I have fallen more and more in love with my beautiful saviour and my relationship with him has gone to a whole new level. The only way I can try and explain how my love and faith has grown is that it does not matter what is going on around me, when I trust God my heart feels full. The good kind of full, when it’s a freezing cold winter night and you’ve just finished a mammoth baked dinner with your family and you’re belly is satisfied, it’s at resting stage because you’ve just nourished it in the best way possible. When I think of my relationship with Jesus I feel warm. My heart also feels excited. Think of those little party poppers you get out for birthdays. You sit with anticipation waiting to pull the string, you then pull it and theres an explosion but the joy keeps on coming because your graced with beautiful colours flying everywhere. Jesus is my baked dinner and my party popper.

My change has unfolded, not slowly though. It’s all happened quick, quick like a southerly on a boiling hot summers day. One moment everything is still the next a strong, uncontrollable wind comes. My southerly is taking me all the way to Nebraska to do an American summer camp as well as some solo travel afterwards. This journey has been so ridiculously God-led. There are so many little things that have happened along the way to make this journey of a life time fall into place at ease.

I planned to work up until I was going to leave for the States but God had other plans. He was telling me to move. I wasn’t happy in my job. I was unmotivated and became anxious to go to work. I’m a big believer of if you aren’t happy where you are or you aren’t happy what your doing, change it. The ball is in your court and your happiness is up to you.

After a lot of conversations, reading my bible, writing and praying I took a big leap of faith. God was telling me to quit my job, so I did. I QUIT MY JOB!!! I’ve never felt more empowered, scared, excited and liberated in my life. I had a shower thought and Matthew 6:25-34 came to my mind. This talks all about God providing for our every need. I was worried about my finances prior to receiving this verse. I kid you not 5 minutes after reading this I got a phone call from someone super close to my heart saying that God had been on their case for the last few weeks to give me a big chunk of money for my trip. I didn’t have time to worry about money because God already had it waiting for me.

Since quitting I’ve been travelling up the north coast of Australia visiting INCREDIBLE places, experiencing all things wonderful, meeting new friends, growing my relationship with Jesus even more and having the time of my life! This is what I want to be doing. I have received nothing but blessing after blessing since stepping out in faith and being obedient to him and what he wants for my life.

I really can’t stress how important it is to just do what makes you happy!!!!!!! Life is so short and in my opinion it needs to be experienced to the fullest.

Courtney Cook!

This is One of my most treasured friends Courtney. I’ve known her since our early high school years. We met at youth and small group and from there our friendship grew. Courtney is incredible, humble and so loving. Our friendship is unique and I am SO proud of her and her journey of self love and self acceptance. Read her words of courage and embrace the beautiful girl she is.

Written at age 20.

Courtney Cook:

  1. What is your idea of Beauty?
    I think beauty is something that is all around us, found in places and people we would not expect or we don’t see in ourselves. I think beauty is shown differently through each human, thanks to God’s crazy, good imagination.
  2. Where do you place your worth?
    From past experiences I often struggled with worth. I’m not quite sure when it changed but it had something to do with my relationship with God, He mended my heart and I found a love that was everlasting, embracing and whole.
    Through my spiritual journey I found my worth along the way.
  3. What has been your biggest obstacle in your self worth journey?
    Feeling unloved, unwanted or unneeded.
    Under appreciating myself and who & how I’ve been made to be.
  4. What has been your greatest achievement in your self worth journey?
    Pushing past the feeling of being unloved, unwanted and not needed. It took a while because for years I had something, someone pushing against it but once I was able to accept that it wasn’t my fault, that I was not these things because of something one person had done to me, it really have me a sense of freedom, self worth and self love.
  5. How do you view yourself today?
    Stronger,
    Wiser,
    Healthy,
    Loved,
    Lucky & able.
  6. What are 3 things you do to practice self love?
    Exercising daily is one of my main ways of practicing self-love, it’s not something I do for others but purely for myself.Nourishing my body with foods I believe do so, despite what others say about it.I also spend time with myself; I journal, read, walk or listen to music. Spending time with myself allows me to a better me for whatever is ahead.
  7. If you could give advice to your younger self in regard to self worth and body image, what would it be?
    You are who you are, and those things you dislike about yourself right now you will learn to love.
    You’ll love the colour of your hair despite the torment,
    You will appreciate your size no matter what the person standing next to you looks like and all the things running through you head you will overcome and be stronger for it.

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Nelson Bay!

Earlier this year (2016) I was dealing with a very rough break up. One day my mum came into my room, told me to get dressed so we can go on an adventure. We didn’t have any idea where we wanted to go, we just drove and ended up at beautiful Nelson bay. We went on a dolphin cruise and met some really incredible people. We shared our joys, passions, trials and hurts. It’s a truly wonderful thing when strangers can come together and share life. This day was a clear turning point in my break up process and my growth as an individual.

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Byron Bay, NSW.

September – A month of adventure with my all time best friend.

This trip challenged me in ways I can not even begin to express. It pushed me out of my comfort zone completely and had me trying new things and gaining a whole new perspective on everything. Being away from home gives me a sense of wonder and a heart of courage, to be in the moment and take every new and exciting experience for what it is.