Fall Book Club: Check-In #1

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Hello Greystone friends!

We have loved having so many of you join us in our Fall Book Club as we’ve been reading Ellie Holcomb’s book Fighting Words together. Have you been reading along with us? It’s been great to see so many of you sharing photos and comments on our Instagram about the weekly readings and what you have thought about them. What a great devotional book!

So many of Ellie’s devotions remind me of different things we talk about at camp. Today, we are going to look at some of our favorite devotions from the first month of reading Fighting Words to see how Ellie’s words so closely relate to camp life. Let’s go!

Shining a Light in the Darkness:

Have you heard Ellie’s song Light’s Always Stronger from her kids’ album? The idea is that God’s light is always stronger than any darkness we may be facing or going through at a particular time.

One of my favorite ways that Ellie relates this concept is on Day 3 of her devotional; she talks about giving children flashlights and allowing them to find out for themselves whether the light from the flashlight is stronger than the darkness in a room (of course it is!). This idea also reminds me of our candles at our Vespers services.

Many summers ago, our theme verse was “Be the Light,” and through it, we encouraged each camper to allow the light of God to shine through her at camp and then also at home. I love how Ellie questions: “What if we spoke this truth into the dark places of our souls and lives, and watched just how strong the light of Christ can be for us?” What a great reminder that God’s light is strong, it outshines the dark, and we can be vessels to shine that light in the world…just like flashlights or candles!

Seeking God First:

At camp, we are in a big community of girls, and with that we often see that campers constantly seek advice or approval from their peers. This is normal in many ways, but at camp, we often challenge this idea by encouraging our campers to go to God first. Jimboy explains in Breakfast Club about how easy it is to talk to God; you just tell him what you are thinking and how you are feeling, just like you would a friend.

On Day 11 of Fighting Words, Ellie mentions the same dilemma in her own life; she says, “I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve fixated on a problem…and asked everyone and their mother what they thought that I should do about it, all in an effort to search for wisdom from the people I trust.” She goes on to talk about how seeking wise counsel in a good thing, but in the end, she encourages us to follow what the Bible says in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Whether you are a camper, parent, alum, or friend, I love this reminder, as the advice applies no matter your age. Can we go to God and make him our “fist ask” when we have a decision, conflict, or dilemma we are facing? What a great encouragement from Ellie!

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World of Wonders:

When we are in Tuxedo and enjoying camp’s beautiful property, we are often able to appreciate things we miss at home: a beautiful sunset, the breeze across the Pageant Court during a Sunday concert, mist rising off the lake, dogs running with abandon…the list goes on and on. Jimboy also encourages us to pay attention to our mental growth, as God has given us a vast creation and curious minds; he reminds us to ask questions and learn about inspiring things.

In the devotion for Day 16, Ellie calls it our “world of wonders,” and I just love that phrase! She says, “it’s like God wrote a love letter into the fabric of the earth to ever-remind us of who He is and how he Loves us.” Whether seeing caterpillars at a child’s birthday party, or looking at the dead trees in winter that we know will transform with leaf-buds come spring, God’s fingerprints are all around us, if we take the time to see them and appreciate them.

At the end of the devotion, she asks us, “What would it look like to ‘turn the volume up’ on the song creation sings each day to help you see and hear better?” What a great question! Seeing that “world of wonders” at camp is often easier as we are outside so often and surrounded by such beauty; but how can we inject some of that same wonder into daily life at home? Maybe you could start a gratitude journal or even just a simple sticky note where you write 3 things that bring wonder to your day. This Advent season is the perfect time to rediscover that wonder!

Clothing Yourself in Kindness:

One summer when I was a camper, my counselor had Colossians 3:12 – 14 hanging in the bathroom of our cabin. These verses encourage us to “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” I loved that it was hanging next to our bathroom mirror, and our cabin group would read the verses as we were getting ready each day. The verses were a great reminder that no matter how long we may spend getting ready or carefully choosing our clothes, what we really want to see in that mirror are qualities of inner beauty: compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience.

I especially love seeing the mention of kindness in these verses, as it connects to our theme verse from this past summer: Be Kind. During the summer, we talked often about how kindness can be a part of our daily interactions and can pour from our hearts. What if all of our Greystone girls looked for that quality in the mirror each day?!

Ellie also gives us great reminders about cultivating inner qualities in her devotion on Day 25. She asks, “what if instead of rushing about in a flurry of worry about what clothes to wear, I focused on clothing my spirit with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience?” I love how she jokes by saying that she’s not saying you can’t wear cute outfits, but instead we should really think about the importance of “clothing” our hearts so that we can then show others kindness (and the other characteristics) through our actions and words.

I love this encouragement from Ellie, and appreciate one of her questions with this devotion: “What would it look like to spend as much time clothing your inner self as you do clothing your outer self? How might this change a typical day?” What do you think?

It has been a great first month of our Fall Book Club, and I know all of us at camp are LOVING this devotion book. We would love to know what stood out to you or what you’ve been thinking about as you’ve been reading. Let us know in the comments below! We will be back in January with another recap. Happy reading!

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