As you may already know, I worked on staff at Living Water Christian Farms for four weeks.
There were countless days within those weeks where I would call home, sobbing. I missed home. I was feeling left out. I was searching for my purpose in the place I was in.
Yet, no matter what discouragements I faced during the day - when nine o' clock came around, my world came into perspective.
Suddenly, I'm jealous of my favorite camp nights that I had with my crazy staff.
Everything was right in my world when I took this picture.
That one weekend, I was the only person on that side of the pond - the only person in our whole machine shed cabin. It was bliss.
No social media. No sad text messages. Just me, my dirty laundry trekking back and forth from home base, and my books.
Those times weren't meant to last forever, though, and Monday came again.
When Sunday night rolled around and staff starting piling in again, my heart was a little happier than before, but I knew a long week lay ahead.
One thing got me through each day.
The excitement to have quality time with my dear friend, Leah. Every night that we could keep our eyes open past ten o' clock, we would sit outside, not wanting to stir the rest of our sleeping cabin.
Leah and I met when we were in 3rd grade. No matter how much time passes between us, we pick right up where we left off.
We'd sit on that small space of patio, swatting mosquitos, and solving the world's deepest issues.
This weekend, I'm reminded of those nights spent stargazing with old friends, hashing life with this girl, or sitting by the pond listening to crickets.
Flash forward to this weekend and I whisper to my parents, "I just want Leah to come over tonight."
To be fully loved and accepted within community is a powerful thing in the kingdom of God.
This year so far? It's been one for the record books.
Bad news. Bad news. Hope. Bad news.
Coming home crying, because loneliness takes the most out of you when you're in a group of people that don't even notice you're hurting.
The word itself - loneliness - was on my heart a few weeks ago. As I was cleaning my room, I found an old beloved devotional book that I've worn down. As I flipped through the pages of funky font and breathtaking verses, my bookmark feel to the ground. I looked over at the page I had marked.
The title? Loneliness. I was ten years old when I placed that bookmark with handwritten Scripture on that page. I was ten years old, at least, when the serpent was already trying to win me over through the temptations that comes through the window of my loneliness.
This is what my bookmark read: "I, Emilee, do not fear, for God is with me; I am not dismayed, for He is my God. This girl is going to be strengthened by Him and He will help me. He will hold me up at His righteous right hand."
Loneliness isn't a state created by circumstance - it's a heart disease that acts up in hyperventilation when circumstance pushes it too far.
I can't become discouraged because some of these troubles linger. From those several years ago, to last summer, and flash forward to this summer - a lot of my troubles might look the same, but I'm held by a God that is simply delighted that I'm willing to stumble through every bit of messiness with Him.
I don't know what's going to happen in my life in between now and August, but I do know that August will bring Lake Victoria:
Lake Victoria means some of my absolute favorite people in the world will be by my side and we'll be praising the One that has made our paths cross so intricately. When night falls, I hope the men will be fishing on the lake and it will be transformed into a city illusion form the light coming from the canoes. It's a sight that I wish you could all see for yourselves. Whatever messy season I'm in, whatever messy season my friends will be in alongside of me, it will all come into perspective through those tiny lights piercing the darkness.
In my heart, I'll echo the meaning of my Ebenezer family in thankfulness: Thus far the Lord has helped us.
When I think about God embracing me in this season of life that I'm in - in between so many unknowns, I think about the picture of friendship with Leah and I sitting on that patio.
I would rub her shoulders. She would rub mine. We laughed hard and tried to whisper. We talked about seasons of life, future plans, and staff interactions. Leah didn't pressure me to say anything I wasn't ready to, and when I did she met me with open arms. She deeply cared about what I was saying - she wasn't in a hurry to make her point known.
I don't know what season you're in, but I do know that the Lord embraces us just like our best friend would.
Whatever happens, He will never let me go.
Season by season, year by year, and struggle after struggle, the Lord is still faithful enough to lead us every step of the way.
Because of this truth, I can make it from in between unknowns, stepping out in faith, with comfort and courage.
No weapon formed against me shall remain.
I got treasure up in heaven; I got dirt all over me,