I destroyed. HE redeemed!

The past 3 weeks God has challenged me to see life differently. With the challenge there has been tears of happiness, laughter, physical pain, discouragement and realization. For 16+ years of my life, I physically destroyed the body Christ created. I would sneak food and hide it in my room only to eat it later. I turned for seconds when I was fully satisfied and hid from family and friends, all of which I did to myself. I was a food addict. I hid from the pain of my parents divorce, the loss of our family home due to a fire and the death of my stepfather. I turned to food to hide the hurt that I could not control. Today, so many years later, I now see the magnitude of my idolization of food, gluttony (food worship) and sin.

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I see it in the struggle I once had with an eating disorder just because I wanted to be “thin” or when I look in the mirror and still see a 240-pound girl. I see it in the daily pain and inability to walk straight or comfortably due to the lengthy incisions since skin removal surgery. I am currently bed and couch bound for most of the day because I have no energy and the thought of dropping something on the floor makes me cringe.

Thankfully, everyday I continue to heal and feel better, but my body will forever have scars and proof of sin from hip to hip and from the top of my inner thighs to my knees. I accept that my body will never be perfect or meet my expectations. You and I will never have what the world sees as “perfect” bodies even if we try. Though what excites me is that when we step into heaven, none of this will matter, none of it, because our bodies will be renewed!

Our earthly bodies are transformed into conformity with Christ’s body in the resurrection, not that God creates a new body from scratch, rather “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20–21

“Paul says in 1 Corinthians 42-44, that our current bodies are weak, perishable, unglorified, and natural. But in the resurrection state they will be powerful, imperishable, glorious, and spiritual. Our bodies will be powerful–they will not be subject to stress or fatigue or weakness. Our bodies will be imperishable–they will not get sick, die, age, or become injured. Our bodies will be spiritual–they will be fully oriented to and filled with the Holy Spirit. And our bodies will be glorious.” –John Piper

We live in a world where everywhere we turn there are ads, labels or commercials that draw us toward foods and beverages that do not honor our bodies. Foods that are loaded with harmful and unnatural chemicals and ingredients, I believe to be created by man’s desire for money and pleasure. Rather, food as mentioned in Mark 7:19 is to be “clean” and should be received in thanksgiving. Food is not evil; but too often we consume food for our pleasure and we fail to bring praise to the one who created it. As humans we indulge our excessive cravings for food because we feel powerless to do anything else. The good news is that not only has Christ cleansed us from the stain of gluttony, he has also freed us from its power.

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Praise God, for by His grace, I lost 105 pounds; no surgery or nutrition gimmicks. I kept the weight off, will soon have my license to officially practice as a registered dietitian and I am no longer diabetic. Most importantly, I have found my identity in Christ and am no longer held captive by food. Through freedom only found in Christ, I know that I do not have to run to food or things of this world to satisfy me. Do I struggle, yes, but my strength comes from the Lord. Through this, I hope that if you too are struggling with gluttony, an eating disorder, body image or sin that you know that Christ has set you free and through Him you will find it all!!

In Him,

Amber

Let the Countdown Begin!

I have dreamt of this post for years.

Prayed often and wiped many tears. Since I can remember, I have been a prisoner in my own body. Ashamed to be around others, fearing they would see the flaws that covered my entire body. Flaws that were visible when as a young girl, at 240 pounds, I couldn’t fit into the desks at school; in the summer I would wear sweatshirts and jeans and was pre-diabetic on Metformin. Food was my best friend.

Due to a life changing relationship in college, my weight began to shed away. Quickly 100 pounds were gone; 100 pounds in one year. Loosing weight was and has not been the cure all to my happiness, yet I thought it would. I imagined I would wear a 2-piece bathing suit; I could run in shorts and would look down and see “perfection”. They never tell you that when you loose a significant amount of weight, one of many things remain: excess skin. Skin that reminds me of every extra slice of pizza I ate and for all the years I was eating myself to death. Though my battle scars, they are scars that affect everything I do. I feel trapped in a body that I worked so hard to obtain.

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Yet, I am reminded today of the perfection of the Lord’s timing and how he provides for those who are patient.

In the practice of patience, we feel the burn of sanctification and the inward groans of the Spirit (Romans 8:23).

 I waited; I waited in Faith. For Faith feeds hope, and when “we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience”.

My body is not my own, but it is perfect in Christ’s image. My body is a gift from God. He loans it to me and it’s my responsibility to manage it well. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit … ?” (19). My body is God’s temple. I was bought at a price. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (NIV).

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Over the past 4 years, I have had countless consultations with Dr. Dennis Hurwitz, a world-renowned plastic surgeon in Pittsburgh with the hope of having an abdomnioplasty and upper thigh lift. With a $10,500 price tag and as a full time student, this amount appeared out of my reach. Thus why 4 years later, I attempted one more time. One more consult and another battle with the insurance company to try to prove why this procedure was a medical necessity. Yet-they didn’t agree, just as they did the first time. Finally, a phone conversation that gave hope to keep fighting, a simple question with so much riding on it. Can the price be lowered? Another consult later. By the power of God, the surgeon handed me a paper. Price cut in half.

With personal savings and the generosity of friends and family; I am so excited to announce….ITS HAPPENING!!

In one short month on July 18th and July 22nd I will be having the surgery I have prayed and hoped for. Though surgery will take 2 surgeries, on 2 different dates, I look forward to the day where I can run in shorts, wear a dress without compression garments and simply feel like a 23 year old women who worked so hard to get to where I am today. It will be painful, I won’t be able to walk standing straight for at least 2-3 weeks, I won’t be able to run for 6 weeks and will be reliant on others-but I know it will be worth it!

Thank you everyone for your prayers, support and constant reminder of Christ’s love for me; I am so grateful. I am so ready and thrilled for this chapter of my journey to be over. Please pray that the surgery goes without complication and that I heal quickly and correctly. I am more excited than ever!

-Amber

Hello to Different

I sit in a room filled with nearly 400 college students. Friend’s. Roommates. Team mates. Sorority sister’s. Fraternity brother’s. Daughter’s. Fiancé’s. Future doctor’s and engineer’s. Young people searching to fill a void with the desires of this world, desires that can easily consume and captivate. Captivate until the brink of suffocation, suffocation that I felt three years ago. I was the college student sitting in that room, a room that would change my life.

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You see, although a different room, I gave my life to the Lord God, Savior, Jesus Christ on this very weekend three year’s ago. Meaning I chose to follow God, live differently and no longer run away. Three year’s filled with much sanctification, redemption, deep love and a heart and life forever changed. A life with purpose and a void filled with the ultimate truth. The truth that has set me free from the guilt and shame of my past and the darkness that captivated me so abundantly.

To some I am “different”. The truth is, I am different. I choose to live life differently. Differently because I am called too; called to serve a God who gave his son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for me so that I could have life. Life free of the guilt and shame, the guilt and shame that Jesus Christ bore, as he was whipped, spit on, beaten, mocked and then untimely nailed to a cross. Nailed to a cross for me, for you. Not so that I can live my life how I want, freely choosing to do what is easy or most convenient, but rather live a life that brings most glory to Him. He is worth it and I praise Him for his faithfulness despite my faithlessness. Through His death, He intends to write a new story in sin’s place, replacing what was once broken, wicked, and dead with love, faithfulness, grace and life.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18

Grace is a rich word with many layers of meaning in the New Testament. “The good news of the gospel doesn’t stop with pardon. We treat grace like it’s God’s big eraser for our every wrong or mistake. But God does not only mean to rub the page clean. No, he intends to write a new story in sin’s place, replacing what was once broken, wicked, and dead with love, faithfulness, and life.”  (Marshall Segal” executive assistant to John Piper)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

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While the Lord captivated me that weekend at Doubling Gap, I couldn’t help but pray for the same for those whom I was surrounded by. That they would fall as deeply in love with Jesus as I have and more, and embrace his grace and love. As I saw many taking endless notes, giggling, smiling and even a few yawning, my heart was filled with joy; joy that they were simply there, some not knowing why, but they were hearing the truth!

Hours later, I saw tears, hugs, prayer and student’s beaming with the light that radiates when captivated by Jesus Christ! They have chosen to live differently.


This weekend I laughed, smiled and cried with best friends, sisters, brothers and mentors; dreaming about the future and reminiscing about the past. I am so beyond grateful for those who have poured into my life and have paved the way for my journey as I am no longer a student.

Thank you: DiscipleMakers and staff for giving so many the chance to hear and live in the truth during such a crucial period of life. A ministry that impacted and prepared me greatly. My friend and constant source of wisdom, love, patience and support: Becky. Chelsea, Taylor, Carolynne, Connie, Madi, Nate, Theresa, my family and My God!!

xoxo

-Amber

The Old me by: Marshall Segal

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Had to!

Had to!

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More than a Label

I started my Instagram account nearly 5 years ago. You all have seen the beginning of my weight loss journey (scroll back a long time if you wish), the day I lost 100 pounds, giving my life to Christ, the running of 2 half marathons, travels, family and for the past 3.5 years; living a vegan lifestyle. I look back on the past 3.5 years and am in awe of the ways the Lord has redeemed my life.

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I write this with much hesitation, fear and deep consideration for those whom may be reading. My fear is driven from others who have received much hate and ridicule. I am writing this because I cherish all of you as my friends, family, followers and readers.

I am choosing to walk in the life of freedom and rid the label that has identified me for nearly 4 years. I am no longer going to feel ashamed or guilty for living a life that I have chosen. I have listened to my body, I have reconsidered my goals for my life and from the words of Jordan Younger, “it’s time to advocate a lifestyle that doesn’t involve restriction, labeling or putting ourselves into a box.” My identity is no longer about being a “vegan” but rather being a Child of God.

You are defined by God and God alone. He identifies you as his own (2 Corinthians 1:22)

In Galatians, Paul says: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Freedom is the will of God for all who believe in him. Christ died, rose and sent his Spirit for our uncompromising and unrelenting freedom. We enjoy this freedom when we depend on the grace of Christ. “To be fully free, we must have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make us happy forever,” John Piper explains. “Only Jesus, the Son of God who died and rose for us, can make [full freedom] possible” In Christ, I have been set free from my sin and guilt and have gained the freedom to live my life honoring him through such decisions.

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I chose the vegan lifestyle my freshman year of college out of curiosity and a newly developed outlook for my health and animals. I had recently lost 100 pounds but was still fighting an inner need for control of my life. While suffering from an eating disorder, restricting all animal products allowed me the control I so desired.

Veganism is a lifestyle that works for some and I know of many who live it passionately. For me however, I no longer consider myself vegan.

I am extremely passionate about eating ethically and eating whole, plant-based foods. I have a degree in nutrition, study it regularly and am perusing a career as a dietitian, so I am not ignorant to the functions of the body when animal products are incorporated into the diet. Today, 95% of my diet continues to be plant based as I simply enjoy preparing and eating such meals, I have though incorporated foods such as salmon.

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Regarding my Instagram, I wrestled with the thought of starting a new account. I began my account almost 5 years ago, giving you all a small glimpse of my journey of up’s and down’s, decision’s, new beginning’s and the ending of different chapter’s, veganism being one of them. I have accepted that I will loose followers and may receive negative comments, but there’s only one person who’s judgment I consider.

I pray that by sharing, I can experience the freedom I feel behind the screen of social media and that others can do the same. I am Amber, a woman pursing freedom, a life without labels and one devoted to Christ.

In him,

Amber

Patience > Pride

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:1-2

Patience is the evidence of an inner strength; an attribute we all wish to posses, yet we live in a society where we rely on external strength’s. We rely on such assets in fear of waiting for the Lord’s best. Patience is the cohort of humility, the enemy of pride and the (Ecclesiastes 7:8) scorch of sanctification.

Patience comes with faith, faith for the moment, and hope for the future. Faith feed’s hope, and when “we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25) The Lord has shown my sin by revealing the harsh truth of my reliance on myself (pride) and the lack of faith I often posses. A lack of faith that often leads me to question and not trust The Lord in periods of waiting. Still, the Lord continues to redeem.

This lack of faith has played out in my life in numerous ways over the past months. In particular, the plans for my future have changed. A change to be honest I did not desire. I thought I had my life planned as of May 9th, the day of my college graduation. I prayed earnestly and felt I was to serve Christ in Asheville, North Carolina; however, I now feel the Lord has temporally shut those door’s. I was disappointed and felt let down. Being patient is harder than I thought. It caused many tears and sleepless nights wrestling with my thoughts.

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With much reluctance, I have had to simply die to my own desires. Something that isn’t always easy to do. Die to my unhealthy yearning for material objects my flesh often desires, to live in my own lavish apartment and to live a life of “perfection”. Meaning living a life that is easy, simple and without complication. I am not settling, but rather pursing a life filled with contentment, joy and wisdom. For I know the desires of the Lord are greater than my own.

The issue of patience revolves around the answer to the question, “What did Christ’s patient suffering produce?” Christ’s patient suffering leaves us with an example of how we are to live as believers. We, too, are called to suffer for righteousness’ sake.

For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer for it, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:20-24) 

Christ is the ultimate example of patience, and although we may try, we will never come close to exhibiting the patience of Christ. We often live as if we don’t care about His plan; His creation and we pride fully behave as much of this world does, as though neither He nor His law exists. Pride does not want to wait; it wants instant gratification. Learning patience enables us to endure all thing’s because we are focused on our end purpose, yet we cannot live for this end purpose if we don’t have someone or thing to live for.

In the midst of a period when I felt like God was hiding, He was right there with me. I was reminded of my hope and faith in Him when I read Ecclesiastes 7:8. 

 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”

It spoke to me with hope and that I simply needed to trust in Him. Often harder than I’d like to admit and that he was in control of how ugly life felt at the time. I needed and still continue to be sanctified in the virtue of patience over pride.

18 job applications later and by God’s grace and endless mercies, yesterday I accepted a position with one of the largest and top leading health care system’s in the world. There I will have the ability to learn, grow and be a light to my colleagues and patients. The next year of my life will be spent at home, where I have created my own life full of the simple things. I am forever grateful that the Lord brought me back to the city where I have called home for 22 years. My options are endless through Christ. I can’t wait for the journey.

God is so good!

-Amber, xo

Where have the last 4 years gone?

Where have the last 4 years gone? Yesterday marked my last undergraduate class at Penn State. Today, I say goodbye to Matthew, the little man I have spent my summer with. Friday I pack. Saturday, I say goodbye.

Freshman year

Freshman year

Senior Year

Senior Year

This week, is one full of gratitude, excitement, happiness and yet many tears. You see, my life is changing, and I am soon to enter into a new season full of unknowns. I am leaving the place I have called home for 4 years, where I have made lifelong friends and the place I dedicated my life to Christ. This very home where I am currently packing, is where I re-gave my life to Christ. I can remember that night so vividly. I was living two lives, living a life that only was leading me towards death. I was wrapped in the temporary satisfaction and my personal idolization of alcohol and men, holding onto my sin of self-righteousness and self-control. That night, September 16th 2014, a moment in my life that I was forever changed. Christ, said to me, you are mine.

Roomies

Roomies

The truth is, I felt the Lord was calling me to Asheville, North Carolina and while this summer I spent 10 days there and absolutely loved it, there was a part of my that was not at peace with moving there right away. Was it fear? I don’t know. I have applied for countless jobs. Written too many cover letters, and yet I’m moving back home and am currently jobless. For a minute I throw myself a pity party and ask the Lord why me? Why do I, the girl who has had it all together, and lives by planning, not a have a plan? While my plan didn’t quite go as planned, one of the many things I have learned this past year is that my plans, are most likely not the plans the Lord has for me.

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Am I nervous, yes? Yet, I am standing firm in Christ and holding onto the truth. In moments where I feel anxious, I think of Matthew 6:25-34. My discipler and great friend Becky always points me to this verse and it gives me hope. I am reminded of all my past struggles and anxiety and how the Lord has turned them all into blessings. Why would he not care for me during this season?

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34

That’s why, as I leave behind so much and say goodbye to a season of my life that has given me so much life, I can’t help but be excited and full of peace. I want a life that allows the brilliance of the treasure of Christ shine through me as I live for him. With our without a job or a plan.

For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. Psalm 135:5-6

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The Lord God is great and is above all gods, whatever he pleases he does, and there is no power that can stop him. As I leave here, I pray I continue to live by faith and not by sight; to not look back on my former self and to be reminded that what God has saved me for is far greater than what he has saved me from.

To all of my friends and family who have loved me deeply, motivated me endlessly and never gave up on me, I thank you!!

Till next time!

-Amber

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Servant-Hood through WindyGap

I have sincerely seen the Lord work in so many ways these past 10 days. The staff, interns, summer staff and leaders exhibit what it looks like to serve daily; the kind of service that makes God look valuable, thrilling and glorious.

 “Whoever serves, [let it be] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” Peter 4:11

PM Crew

PM Crew

They make working long day’s fun and exciting, all while glorying the Lord. While in the kitchen these past 10 days I have witnessed friends laugh, sing and dance to the Dougie and Soulja Boy, crack jokes, tell stories and have the ability to have devotional and “family” time where they get together with their work teams to pray and to share how they have seen their peers image Christ. While doing this, they are making 100’s of homemade loaves of bread, cookies and cakes, pounds of rice and chips and washing endless and I’m not kidding, hundreds of sheet trays and dirty pots and pans. Friends, these kids work hard, and never once during the entire time I was at WindyGap did I hear them complain. They were serving, serving the God that as believers we are called to do and by doing so, they exemplified what it looks like to be a follower of Christ.

According to John Piper, servant-hood is the state, condition, or quality of one who lives as a servant: one who puts God first and others second. One who simply gives up their own desires and interests in order to put the interests of others first, because that’s how Christ served us. He put us first over himself. (Phil 1:4) We serve by faith and with humility. Humility lifts people up and looks to the needs of others, just as Jesus took the form of a servant and humbled himself. (Phil 2:3-8) Without humility we won’t serve, or we will serve for the wrong reasons.

Love these girls! Carina and Bri

Love these girls! Carina and Bri

Jesus in the most perfect image of humility, he humbled himself to the point of death. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) The apostle Paul points to the Savior as our great example, by saying, “you should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,” by reminding us of the humiliation of Christ, emptied himself by taking the form of a slave. As we find contentment and satisfaction in the Lord, we can better serve others.

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy. Phil 2:1

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This past week, I have interacted with many people and although not verbalized, have come to WindyGap to serve God by serving others and are not looking for anything in return. I am beyond encouraged and excited for this amazing place and its future.

Here is where I am in my element; I can share my passion of cooking and working in the kitchen by serving so many. Believers or not. I have come to appreciate what it is like to work 8-12 hour days, to work at a fast pace, to learn everyday what it is like to run a camp like WindyGap and the extreme dedication, time, resources and efforts by so many to make every second, minute, day and week in these child’s lives one that images Christ.

I witnessed nearly 50 high schoolers rededicate their lives to Christ, many of which accepted the Lord as their savior for the first time. It was a time of praise and worship; it brought me to tears. I experienced so much this week, I simply can’t put it into words.

There is so much love here. Laughter. Dedication. Grace. Forgiveness. Friendship. And Jesus Christ. So many, “how are you doing today’s,” so many hellos, many conversations and endless laughter, all of which have made my see you later a whole lot harder.

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The one and only C-Moneyyyy (Carson)

My new friend Paton

My new friend Paton

Ray, Brian, Ashton, Jack-Andy, Carina, Bri, Austin, Graham, Morgan, Sarah, Paton, Carson, Al, Bethany, Rachel, Carley, Bethany, Connor and so many more, thank you for showing me grace and answering my hundreds of questions and helping me this week. It was one that I wont forget.

See yall soon,

Amber aka: Amber Bamber

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Day 6: The YoungLife Experience

Day 6: June 30, 2015

As you may not know, I have been in Asheville North Carolina, a hipster city full of character. While at Penn State, I along with many of my friends in Disciple Makers, a Christian fellowship on campus, have made the drive to Windy Gap, a YoungLife camp nested in Weaverville, a few miles from Asheville. Every Spring break, as a service trip, we travel down South and help serve the campers by working on the property before their arrival in the summer. In the stables, housekeeping, digging, landscaping, the kitchen and so much more. I had the opportunity to work in the kitchen this past trip and truly felt I was to be there. To my surprise, Ray, Brian and Ashton from the kitchen invited me back to serve in the kitchen this week for the hundreds of kiddos who will hear and see all of Jesus Christ. That’s why I’m here.

The new Windy Gap sign

The new Windy Gap sign

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Today, I woke with a full heart! I have wanted to explore this hipster city, and today on my day off I am doing just that. Sitting in a donut shop, writing this post with fingers full of sugary icing and cinnamon on my lips. Coconut and chocolate glazed vegan donuts, a chai tea, Chacos, large glasses and a funky headband; I fit right in. There is something different about this city, I just kinda fit. Its hard to explain. But I Love it.


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My time so far here in Asheville has been full of excitement! I have been cooking and baking for nearly 500 people for kiddos from all over the United States who have come to Windy Gap to have one of the best weeks of their lives. A week full of abundant love. Love from property staff, interns, work crews, leaders and so many who want to pour out love to them, just as the Lord has. This place is beautiful and filled with such beauty.

Everything is so thoughtfully and intentionally planned, from the time the campers wake to the time their tired heads hit their pillow. They laugh, play volleyball, swim, hike, race cars, swim, zip-line, ride horses and they see, hear and feel the goodness of Jesus Christ is. It’s amazing.

Center of camp

Center of camp

On Wednesday morning, unlike any other day, the kiddos heard a talk about sin and how we are sinners. Yes, sinners. They leave it at that. They give the kids the chance to let it sit in, think about, and talk about. Think about the magnitude of sin.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12

On Thursday evening, the kiddos laid under the stars and all of the lights were shut off all over camp. Pitch Black. You could hear a pin drop. Silence. They spent time in prayer with Jesus. Alone. For me, that night, I experienced something that I have never experienced before.

After 20 minutes, sitting under the stars, the campers had the chance to come to the dining hall under candlelight to eat some yummy snacks and talk with their leaders about what was on their hearts. I saw many tears, hugs, laying of hands and prayer. Many of these kiddos gave their lives to the Lord that night. They accepted that they were sinners but they needed the Lord. They were no longer alone. It was a period of time I will never forget.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:12-16

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Though this trip thus far has been filled with laughs, truth, fun and hard work, I have to admit It has had its challenges. I am not like the others here. I’m not on staff, an intern, summer staff, a leader, or a camper I am just here. No title. Yet, the Lord is redeeming that. I’m slowly starting to recognize faces, meeting new people and hearing their stories; I am being called by the name on my nametag and yet most have no idea why I am here. Which is ok. I am here to serve. Serve my God and these kiddos, who have so greatly affected me.

I ask if you are reading this, to pray for the campers this week; believers or not, that they may come to know the Lord who so abundantly provides and loves them and for the believers that they grow more and more in love with their heavenly father.

Until day 10,

Amber

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For my Daddy

Today, June 21, 2015 we thank and recognize our earthly and heavenly fathers, biological or ones who have stepped in as such. Some are with us physically while others are with us in spirit. We thank them for being there for us through many hurdles or to cheer us on as we sprint with very little oxygen in our lungs through the finish line. Since I was a child, my father has been my hero, my rock and my first love. As I sit in one of my favorite hipster coffee shops, I can’t help but look back and not be filled with gratitude for the father that the Lord so blessed me with.

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As our heavenly Father, God sent his only son Jesus to the cross to pay the immeasurable price of our adoption, to make us sons and daughters of the living God. He adopted us into his kingdom, adopted as his own. He loves us as we are with all of our imperfections and many failures. Jesus says that our Father in heaven is a good father who provides for our every need and shapes us into his image. He delights in us, he wants us, all of us.

“The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” Psalm 145:9

As John Piper put it so clearly, “He’s not a deadbeat, absentee, disinterested dad.” He is a loving father who with no amount of good deeds or determination to do better could bring us into the family of God. God chose to adopt us in Christ.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1

My father Glenn is one of great integrity, wisdom, compassion and strength. He is a man of his word, a man that has given me his word for 22 years. He has kept that promise by loving me unconditionally even when I have questioned his motives. He is one that does not stand for disobedience, rather has taught me to be a woman who loves deeply, endures through trial, to love enemies even though they may have wronged me, to not envy and to be a doer, a strong woman who strives to live differently.

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Through triumphs and trials, my dad often unbeknownst to him has been an image of Christ. You see, a true father shows tough love; tough love that ultimately leads to truth. Jesus expressed His love at times in unconventional manners that made people angry or frustrated at Him. He told those to follow him or live separated from him. Jesus offended people with the truth.

“Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” -John 14:6

My dad has called me out when I have wronged others; but has kindly shown me what it is like to show grace. He has told me when I have made decisions that are not honoring, but has led me by example and truth. He has told me to grow up and act like a women; I look back and am filled with gratitude. We joke about it now, but as a young child he wouldn’t allow me to eat at a restaurant because I didn’t want to eat there and caused a huge scene, but I learned to appreciate and respect. (I didn’t starve, trust me)

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You see a true father shows what we perceive to be tough love. The truth often hurts, but the truth helps to mold us into living as examples of our heavenly father. If we have never been offended, we have never been affected by the truth.

My father is a representation of the love that was given to me on the cross. A figure that loves deeply, shares truth often and is representative of so much as I mature and follow the path marked out for me. I am thankful more than ever for such a blessing as my father who has provided for me so abundantly for the past 22 years of my amazing life. I have never loved someone so deeply, I love you dad!

“A good father is one that of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” Billy Graham

My whole family. Marybeth, my mom, sister and dad.

My whole family. Marybeth, my mom, sister and dad.

The Story Between the Before and After

Eating disorders, something that so many don’t like to talk about. Yet, we live in a world that is consumed by body image, the want to be thin and the ideal of living up to what the media perceives as beautiful. We see before and after pictures and we don’t see the story in-between. This is my story.

During

Before

Since I was a child, my weight has always defined me. I remember in kindergarten, not being able to play on the playground with my peers, or being picked last in gym class. I was not like my peers, a theme that continued until I was 18 years old. My freshman year of college, at the age of 18 I set out to loose weight, primarily to gain the love and acceptance from someone other than myself. I was absorbed in the desire to live my life to please someone else and to fill a void that I had lived with all of my life. I used food to fill my sense of aloneness from my peers, rejection from men and to hide the reality of my childhood. In 1 year, I lost 105 pounds and ran 2 half marathons but I was still searching for more. You see, I thought loosing weight would be the cure to my problems; rather I struggled more than I imagined.

Today, I look back at the past 4 years in particular and praise God for saving me. What you may not know is that for 2.5 years I fought bulimia, an eating disorder that went unnoticed. I looked the same and I knew ways to hide my disorder. Bulimia controlled my life and what I did. I was spending countless dollars on food, to only binge and get rid of it. It was one of the things in my life that I had full control over. I was simply just living, living to be thin and to be accepted by others. I was so busy destroying myself to even think of Christ’s love letter to me.

I realized that God didn’t need to create me, but He chose to create me for His own enjoyment. Yet I was ruining the body he so beautifully created. I would work out extensively, eat large meals and only end up in the bathroom, unable to swallow for days or even sip water. Throat raw. I was killing myself. As I lay on the bathroom floor crying, praying that the Lord would free me. Free me from the pain and quickly 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 came to mind and I knew I had to fight. Fight for the life that was given to me.

 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 3:16- 17)

Friends, when we surrender our bodies to Christ, knowing that they are not our own, we can enter into a light of truth in which He has called us and leave the dark and the need for control. Eating disorders are a lie of Satan. He does not want us to believe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” that our worth is in Jesus Christ, rather he wants us to believe that our worth is in the number on the scale or the size of our waists. Emily T, Wierenga wrote it well: “I know, it’s not easy: when the world tells you that you are what you eat, or what you weigh, or that you’re only as good as your calorie count or the number of followers on social media. The world weighs with numbers; the Lord weighs with grace, and you owe him nothing, friend. Everything and nothing. He has paid it all. He wants you to rest and trust him. He’s got you covered.”

 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14

The truth is, none of us deserve God’s grace and redemption and I am forever amazed by his love. I am no longer giving into Satan’s call for me to give in to his commands, for which I can only thank God for. I am redeemed because the pain that I couldn’t bear was the pain that stabbed His heart as he watched me hurt my own. All I wanted was to be thin and control my life but God saw past it all. As you read this, know that I will forever be affected by my decisions. It’s a battle I will fight for the rest of my life, but it is a battle that I continue to fight daily with the help of friends, family, community and Jesus Christ. I still can be consumed by the world’s view of thinness but I know there is something better. If you are struggling today, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. Pray and know the Lord will answer your prayers. Fight friends, it’s a fight worth fighting.

The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3

So as you see pictures on social media; especially ones of weight loss on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter ect, remember that there is a story behind every picture. A story that you may not know.

After

After