my third last post

In case you're confused, quick explanation: this is the third "last post" I've written. The first was on Dec. 5th, 2010, my last day as a 15-year-old. The second was Dec. 5th, 2011, my last day as a 16-year-old. So this is my third "last post," my last day as a 17-year-old.
Every time I have sat down write these year-long summaries, I have been overwhelmed - amazed by the year God had given me, and unable to imagine how He could possibly bless me any more. My 2012 post will be no exception to that rule.

The year began quietly, working on some AP courses, babysitting three wonderful girls, playing basketball, and enjoying my family. But that was only the first month.  I packed my suitcases and took off for Virginia and visited incredible friends, then staffed the TeenPact Virginia class, my first state class outside Oregon, and first residential camp. A few weeks later, it was already time for more TeenPact classes; Washington and Montana. Every single class was so different, but each experience taught me beautiful lessons, gave me new friends, and showed me more and more what it means to trust God and to love others. Everything else falls into place with those two aspects set straight.

Just after TeenPact Montana, I flew down to Mexico with my suitcases for the third time. Like every trip to Mexico, I was blown away by how much I continued to learn about God, about others, about Spanish, and about myself. I was showered in blessings, even when things were rough. I bonded yet again with friends that bless me more than I deserve. I saw how the Love of Jesus fills you up and pours out of you even when you're an unworthy, tired, and confused vessel. Along with the rest of my Mexico team, I was reminded of how dearly I wanted to share my Best Friend with everyone I met, because His Love is better than life.

Coming up in April were the two TeenPact Oregon classes. On both classes, I was surrounded by staffers and students who were some of my closest friends. But more than that, I was surrounded by the presence of God as He pulled me closer and closer to Him. Goodness, I look at the faces in that picture (and Autumn and Macaela from week 1!), and I am staggered by the love He has showed me in them.

And literally days after these classes ended, our family began the greatest adventure we've ever had. On May 1st, I met two girls that would change my life: Destiny and Jasmine! We had no idea what to expect, we were trusting God with everything, and He has been so good to us. It's hard to imagine life without these two sisters of mine. I am amazed by the amount of love they have shown me, and most of you have seen my almost daily quotes from the two of them posted on facebook. Thank you, thank you Jesus.

But pretty soon, I had to head out with my suitcases again, this time to TeenPact National Convention! The theme of the event was, as you can clearly see, GO! I felt like God was so clear in His timing of this in my life, like He always is. There were speakers who changed the way I think. There were small group times that change my perspective. There were campaign speeches about "No regrets." There were many, many people that I loved seeing, talking with, and meeting! And there were sessions of worship that broke me, built me, humbled me, and lifted me up, all because they pointed me to the One who is my All in All.

The suitcases didn't really have time to rest before TeenPact Judicial had arrived! I flew to Virginia for the second time this year to be on the Judicial staff team. Our small group had such a blast teaching these teenagers all about the Judicial system, court cases, case briefs, and the Constitution, even during the Supreme Court hearing of the healthcare bill! Like I mentioned before, God's timing is impeccable. And I miss these people a lot...

I don't think the suitcases had even been put away before it was time to pack them for what may have been the greatest adventure of the year thus far: China!  We set off on July 10th; I remember just counting down to that day. I traveled with Jimmy Brazell's family and friends in order to visit and love the school and students he devoted his last months to. The two weeks we spent there just flew by as we did so much. We toured the Heavenly Temple, Tian'anmen Square, The Forbidden City, and The Great Wall. We ate delicious food, some of it identifiable, some of it not. We had random adventures looking for popsicles, trying to get toilet paper, etc. But best of all, we got to spend a week putting on the Character First Camp, where we taught all morning and afternoon about character to the students of Dandelion School. I know that God changed all of us that week, and it left me with a hunger to see Him continue to work in these young people.

After two weeks in Beijing, God gave me exactly 30 days to process, rest, and pack the suitcases to staff TeenPact Survival West in Wyoming. I was eager to spend time with staff and students that I had known before, and grown to cherish so much. But it was also a hard week as I remembered Survival NW the year before, where my life changed so drastically when Jimmy passed away. Just as I started typing this paragraph, the music on my computer started playing the worship song that became the theme of this week, "Never once did we ever walk alone, never once did You leave us on our own, You are faithful, God, You are faithful." It's true, it's true. Never once has He left me alone, and I know He never will. He truly works all things together for the good of those who love Him. I will never stop singing His praise.

A few more weeks, and the suitcases came with me once again, this time to Georgia for TeenPact Endeavor East. In this week, we girls learned about courageous femininity and adventurous beauty. (Or was is adventurous beauty and courageous femininty? Or courageous beauty and adventurous femininity?!) Either way, the week was filled with laughter, games, and fun, but also much growth. Together, we worshiped God, and strove to understand His blessings and love more and more. Working with my dear friends and fellow 2013 intern girls was one of those blessings, for sure.

I got home from Endeavor not quite sure what God had in mind next. Three and a half weeks later, the suitcases and I were landing in Beijing. I got to my apartment, had a day of adjustment, and jumped into a TESOL/TEFL course with seven other trainees from around the world. The month I spent in Beijing changed my life. Every day, God showed Himself in so many ways that I couldn't get them all in my journal. He made my faith easy because His hand was so clear to see. He filled me up and let His love pour onto those around me, like the beggars on the street who just need someone to tell them Jesus loves them. I learned that a 17-year-old can do more than people expect. I learned about the Chinese culture, and began to understand why Jesus' love is so powerful to them. I met and spent much time with my classmates, who became my international family. I learned to use the Beijing subway system, to order food in Chinese, to understand a British accent (mostly), and to depend on God for all my strength, comfort, and wisdom. He is faithful.

And that is truly the theme of my year. You are faithful. His faithfulness astonishes me. Like a rainbow, the beautiful colors of His faithfulness can't be seen as clearly until seen as His light shines through the drops of rain. As I have started to see Him in everything, I can't imagine living life without Him. My Jesus is truly my Rock, my firm Foundation. He is my everything; without Him, I wouldn't want to keep going. His Love is better than life, and this year has been proof upon proof of that truth.

God, You have been blessing me more than I ever asked for. Thank You. Whatever You are preparing me for, let me never forget what I have learned this year. Whether this is my last year or just the beginning of many, many more, help me to simply be "Jesus walking." I don't want this life without You, but I want to truly live every single moment that I spend with You. Thank You. 

You are faithful. 


  1. Hi Shelby,
    I went to the TP Washington class, and have been following your blog since the class ended. I just wanted to tell you that it's been a big encouragement to me. Thanks so much! :)


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