Tag Archives: Life

First Class Funeral

September 11, 2016 and September 29, 2016 death greeted my family with a kiss of pneumonia. The unexpected loss of goodbye left me on the verge of another story about going home.

September seventh I received a call from my mom about our dear family friend Elizabeth being in the hospital with pneumonia.
“The doctor gave her two-to-three days to live.  My mom said holding back tears.

My only available responses the entire time were,
“No!”
And
“I wish I could be there for her!” 

A few days earlier mom told me Elizabeth went into the hospital and said Elizabeth finally agreed to move in with the family.  I couldn’t be happier! I worried about Elizabeth living alone for sometime because of her health among other reasons, but Elizabeth wanted to stay independent for as long as possible and for her to finally live with my family I didn’t have to worry about my family driving 40 minutes away if something happened to her.

Two hours before Elizabeth’s death I had been doing homework for my Introduction to Ministry class when God compelled me to call Elizabeth once last time and extend the offer to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. I worried more about Elizabeth’s salvation in those last days of her life than I ever did, but I’m not sure what that says about me as an evangelist. I called and as I heard her voicemail answer I chocked back tears before actually crying moments later. I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t do home work, so I texted my mom and she assured me Elizabeth was in a good place spiritually and pastor Dan Cooley thought so too. Midnight came and my dad called me,

“Elizabeth passed away.”

My family. (2014)
My family. (2014)

I briefly grieved and somehow got back to my life as a busy Moody student.  I admit, I miss calling Elizabeth every other week seeing how she’s doing  for no more than six minutes.

I called mom on Sunday to see how she was doing and she told me Elizabeth died peacefully with no struggle, Elizabeth’s friend Katy got the house and some money, but she left my family her car and some money for my tuition. A week and a half went by, and I settled into my new normal.

I texted my mom on Tuesday to see how my younger sister Emily’s boyfriend Macen was doing. Last I heard he got his Cannabis card to help with pain management caused by bone cancer and he took his GED to graduate high school so he could start his college career.
My mom emailed me back saying Macen wasn’t doing well and he was put on a breathing tube, but the day before Emily saw him and he was doing fine.

Macen and Emily
Macen and Emily

September 28 my dad called me at 2:30 in the afternoon,

“Macen died.” He said with tears in his voice. |
“No!” I responded knowing the effect of the loss would hit me later.
“Emily doesn’t know yet.”
“He was supposed to be my son in law! I was waiting for them to get married by a hospital bed and spend their short happy lives together.” My dad said with disappointment in his voice.
Macen was one thing thing that made Emily happy, they were best friends and I couldn’t wait to see them spend the rest of their lives together.

It wasn’t cancer that killed Macen. It was pneumonia.

“He was supposed to be the statistic that lived.” My mom shared as she reminded me it’s okay to be angry.

That’s the thing about cancer: it’s a ghost that lives inside of people and it never fully goes away. You can be in remission for a short time, but then it’s back at it again to haunt you and your loved ones.
Suppressed immune system because of chemo and pneumonia killed Macen. I’m not sure which one I want to curse more…

Knowing I had to go home and I started a GoFundMe page to get there with the help of some friends. Macen would not have wanted me to take off school for his memorial service and Emily was okay with me not being there too. Mom told me not to be angry if I didn’t make it home as she called me Eeyore. I had to be the big sister I needed to be and it wasn’t just the thought that counted to me.
I couldn’t just sit there, I already had three other people close to me die and I couldn’t be there for their funeral. My mind was rushing a mile a minute and I needed closure for once. I knew I had to go home. Wednesday I was depressed and unmotivated to do anything.
Go to class, not going. Doing homework? Not getting done. Adventure Club? I want to go, but no motivation either.
“After I get back we’re going to go to Hannah’s house, dance and be happy, and do homework, okay?” My housemate Mary said trying to be positive.
“Okay.” I said as I sat unmotivated watching videos on YouTube.
“God, if you want me to go back to New Mexico, give me the money by tomorrow afternoon.”
I put a deadline on God because that was the little scrap of faith I had left to give it up or get up and go.

I was trying to raise $950 in less than  48 hours.
afternoon I was nodding off in Old Testament Survey for the first hour because I was really exhausted because  of grieving  Mary said we would check the balance at the break and even when I asked about it apparently there were only small amounts of getting the funds up until that point. Not that Mary would tell me anything anyway.
Checking at break time I made it! $871 dollars plus the $50 someone gave me in cash. Overwhelmed because I was going home I gave my friends huge hugs. I was happy for one of two times that I was going back to Albuquerque. I called my mom on my friend Hannah’s phone because Mary hid mine back at the house, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look. My dad booked my flight, $1500 dollars and only first-class seats available I was going home. I forgot the first week of October was also Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta and that may have explained the expensive price tag. Maybe I should curse that instead.

Life still goes on after death in this life. I still had to go back home to Spokane and test cram for a midterm and drink a Red Bull Italian soda to stay awake, Emily still has to carry on with getting ready to start school, the Holdermans still have to get back to their busy lives  and so does my family. Somehow we still have to face that maybe the worst is yet to come during the holidays, but maybe knowing that this won’t stop the rest of our lives, but for now time will fight us to remember our loved ones.

I don’t know why God does what He does in His time and I don’t know why this is the one way God comes chipping away at the stony parts of me.

In spite of Macen’s death I still believe the best is yet to come for Emily and the Holdermans. I see God working in Jack, Clay and Emily’s lives in choosing radically to go to Haiti this next summer. It’s God in the process of breaking our hearts to start again and beat with new life in a candle of hope.

Even for me, God is changing my story. God is changing my story because the one I had before I didn’t want. Before Macen’s memorial service I had other family members die and I was unable to go to their funeral and/or memorial service and is God changing my story.

It’s not  over yet, death is not final and God is still writing stories here.

How To Apply to Christian Camps and Work For Them

Disclaimer: Over the past year I’ve applied for a total of four camps: from Walkabout student, to summer staff as a counselor, and finally as an intern.  I know what I’m doing.

This post is me trying to funny and optimistic about my continuation of applying for Christian camps, but some pro tips for the beginners, since I’m only a self-titled expert.

Don’t stop reading though, this is about to get serious.

I’m not sure how many people scour the internet curious of how to spend their summer if they’re like me, broke, but adventuress. I found a solution for people like me and you; apply for a camp job, get Chacos, find some Adidas soccer shorts, and tie-dye shirts, even if it’s only one shirt, but before you do that allow me to share, how to apply for Christian camps and work for them.

Information error: I didn’t grow up going to summer camp, so there’s no biased opinions. Not even towards Camp Eagle even though I’ve lived here for the past six months. See tip two for example.


Pro Tip One – BEFORE YOU APPLY

If you’re not a former camp kid, like me, find a camp that matches your idea of fun. Don’t take it seriously until you find your camp, but after you find your camp stalk that camp’s media pages. If your still interested after that, you can now begin being serious about applying for said camp.

Pro Tip Two – DON’T CHECK YOUR QUALIFICATIONS BASED ON THE CAMP’S MISSION STATEMENT

Camp Eagle’s mission statement,
“Our mission is to inspire Christ-like change through outdoor adventure, authentic relationships and Biblical truth.”
I did this when I started to apply for Camp Eagle as a Walkabout without any prior knowledge that Camp Eagle’s idea of outdoor adventure is backpacking in the Texas wilderness. I remember thinking,
“I grew up camping, I can do outdoor adventure!” 

You try saying that after 6 days of not being showered, peeing in the back country, eating a cricket, carrying a 50 pound backpack, all with people you don’t know, in a place you’ve never been before, and having your body as a sacrifice to the ants whose home you slept on too. I’ve obviously never done this before.  At the end of the day you may wonder, “what did I just sign up for the next nine moths.”
Oh wait, that was me in August. Authentic relationships was my downfall. ‘Nuff said.
But wait, there’s Biblical truth. Hakuna matata, bruh, I grew up going to church. 
Learn from me, it’s a bad idea regardless of your preconceived notions.

Pro Tip Three –  START ON YOUR APPLICATION EARLY

Urban myth 001: Camps hire summer staff in February. One exception to one camp I applied for that the email said in February they would be interviewing summer staff. Seriously, most camps I’ve looked at only hire 50 summer staff. If you want in, apply the summer before. I’m not even being funny.

Pro Tip Four – KNOW THY SELF AND THINE BIBLE

The application you’re about to fill out will ask serious questions about yourself that you didn’t even know about yourself, and questions about your beliefs as a Christian. Don’t be intimidated by this, it’s just an authenticity indicator. On a more serious note, camps probably want to make sure you’re enriching the kids spiritual growth as well as your own, even if you’re the classic Sunday School Bible Thumper who memorized the verses from the prior week to get in the treasure chest for a bouncy ball or a chocolate, or the kid who just hammered the sword drills every time. Even if you were the kid who did Faith Weavers, Pioneer clubs or a stereotypical homeschooler in Awanas.  Actually don’t believe that stereotype. I didn’t do Awanas when I was homeschooled.
Don’t even get me started on the staff kids, they’re the worst.

Pro Tip Five – LEARN TO DANCE, BE CONFIDENT AND DON’T BE SHY 

Little known fact about me, I took dance classes when I was 15 for West Coast swing, but I’m a bashful person and completely confidence shattered. I see people at camp dancing like they belong in a music video of some sort while I just shuffle my feet like an awkward penguin. I got no rhythm, beat or melody and my name is Melody. Ironic? I think not. See Camp Eagle people I don’t know dancing.
Learn how to dance and don’t be afraid to whip and nay nay.

Pro Tip Six – DON’T JOIN A CULT

A surprising number of female Camp Eagle full-time staff have nose rings, why? probably because we’re secretly a cult promoting nose rings. Why else would anyone come out to the middle of nowhere to work at a camp? again, probably to join a cult. Your guess is as good as mine in case you were wondering. Also does your leader have fake gauges? one of mine dose. Are your ears pierced? mine are. What are you going to do? get on Amazon and order some? Although I have not yet, but I will be soon. Again, why? to make fun of your leader, but end up liking them, cool, your almost in the cult. Say, get a Hebrew tattoo and you’re in the cult. Tattoos are cool and might as well get one that says Jehovah Jireh, the LORD providesmazel tov, you’re officially a part of a camp cult! 

Pro Tip Seven – GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT AND ASK QUESTIONS

Living at camp is a surefire way to make sure you have your priorities straight, but make sure you practice at home first by asking these questions.
 1. Shower or sleep? sleep.
2. How much do I really want to eat the same food repeatedly? only on left over lunch day.
3. To do laundry or not to do laundry? I probably should do laundry.
4. Who should I call? my mom, dad, sisters or best friend? er, leave a message?
5. High five, fist bump, or elbow? I’ll just high-five your fist bump, and rub elbows in the kitchen.
6. Clean my room or get on WiFi? 
Get on WiFi.
7. Should I spend time with God in prayer and read my Bible in my spare time? The answer should always be yes. But do I really say “yes” all the time? not always.


Now, go find your inner Chaco, soccer short, and tie-dye wearing self and apply for a Christian Camp.

QUALIFICATIONS:

1. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Show them you are a Christian.
2. Be great with humans. Feed them, love them, never leave them.
3. Agree with the camp’s doctrinal statement at the end of the application. Why that is, I’m not really sure.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously and be willing to make a fool of yourself daily.
5. Be great at pranks. People will prank you by water balloons, rocks, and a large destroyed Batman action figure with no head.
6. Have great music taste. That means you should love Twenty One Pilots and Lecrae automatically.

Congratulations! You have now been well-informed on how to apply for a Christian camp and work for them.

*Disclaimer: this kind of job is not for the faint of heart because you will probably die from sleep deprivation or get sick from all the preservatives in the food.*