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How to Cope with the Post Summer Project Blues...

If what started out as the hardest summer of your life--working the longest hours you've ever worked, being stretched physically, emotionally, and spiritually, wondering if you were gonna make it to the end of the week (much less 8 weeks), wondering how you were gonna live happily for that long with all these new people... If you thought all of that was challenging, you had no idea that the biggest challenge came at the end--after God had pushed you through to the other side, where the work seemed tiring but in a rewarding way, where the schedule stretched you thin, but you now know yourself and God better because of carving out time for Him, where you stepped into scary situations and saw God show up in ways only He can, where you now know once strangers soul to soul, backwards, forwards and sideways, and you love them anyways, where you experienced that they love YOU in spite of every flaw you possess--that saying goodbye to summer project and the friends you made there, would feel like someone ripped out your heart and hit you with a truck all at the same time.

If this is how you feel... you are not alone.

For more than a decade, Summer Project has been a part of my life. Each one has been challenging, rewarding, and has ignited friendships that have lasted ever since. And when I get home, as excited as I am to be back in my own bed, to be near my family once again, there is always a little mourning period. The "Post-Summer Project Blues" I call it. Reality sinks in, "You mean I'm not going to have breakfast with all of my friends this morning? Breakfast seems so lonely. You mean I'm not going to have a richly significant conversation before 9AM? I'm used to having 4 or 5 meaningful interactions a day! You mean I don't have a hilariously fun social planned for me and 50 of my closest friends this weekend? Weekends seem so dull! You mean that friend--that one whom God has knit my soul to, the one who has not only shared every moment of my day for the past 60+ days but has encouraged me to pursue God, has helped me walk in righteousness--you mean I won't SEE that friend today?! And not tomorrow?! And not for a long while until this project reunion that I'm already marking off the days on my calendar?!

I spend way too much of my day texting project friends. I'm holding on tightly. Can we really all text everyday forever? I hope so! But life starts to seep in, and people in the current life are like, "Who are these people you are chatting with all day?! Why are they so important? What do you mean you are going to spend all your money so you can travel to see them again? Winter Conference..Big summer...wait you're going AGAIN? You just got back!" It's because they don't know...

You can't put it into words and explain it to everyone else. You can't bottle and mass distribute an experience like Summer Project. But you can treasure it. When you have the post summer project blues, you are at a crossroads...

In the heartache of missing these people now dear to me, I pull out my phone to cope. In each moment, I decide--

--Will I choose my favorite music to dance my sorrows away (Footloose, perhaps?) or will I choose to worship the Lord?

--Will I choose to re-read that precious text from my project friend, or will I choose to initiate with a friend here?

--Will I choose to open facebook to look at every project photo once more, or will I put down my phone and fully engage in life here?

And the coping goes beyond my phone. I must continue to choose:

--Will I sleep in each morning because no one is making me get up and because it's too hard to spend time in God's Word when I'm alone, or will I greet my Lord with a smile and ask Him what HE has for me today?

--Will I fall in a lull that real life is not Summer Project life, or will I allow God to use what I've learned to further His Kingdom where I live?

--Will I let the enemy halt my service through laziness or will I find accountability where I'm at so that I can continue on this journey with God?

You, dear Summer Project alum, I have prayed for you. You are not alone. You and your bff on Snapchat are not alone. You are one of hundreds who have been given a gift this year. One of thousands who have been given a gift in previous years. You have been on a journey with your Savior! And at the crossroads of the Post Summer Project Blues, you have a choice--push into the Lord, or get pushed down by the enemy. I have prayed for you--you, right now. Take your heartache and PUSH INTO JESUS. He will renew your heart, your mind, and continue to lead you on a rich and satisfying journey!

my first SP, as a student

Bologna SP, 2012

Foot of the Rockies SP 2013

Hampton Beach SP 2007. My husband's best friend still to this day.

Branson 2004. Still journeying with some of these women!

Santa Cruz 2010

These are not all of my summer project photos, but I have to get back to real life now! ;) Hosting a student prayer dinner tonight! Let the journey continue! :)

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