An Artist’s Adventure Up a Mountain

Every spring, CBU’s graphic design and photography department spends a great deal of time planning its annual photo shoot trip. The professors form a sort of team, gather up students and steal them away for a weekend to give them a taste of the effort involved in real-life photography projects. While “effort” unfortunately rings an unwelcomed bell in the ears of many college students, to us, it’s the most fun kind of effort around!  And thanks to God and good timing, I was one of the lucky students who had the opportunity to share in that experience this year.

This year, the professors decided to take us up to the mountains for our shoot. Along with us design students, they also asked a couple of students interested in a modeling career to join our journey and act as the subjects of our work. All design and photography students received an invitation in their Lancermail, which ended with, “And, we will feed you.” How could we say no to that?

This is how CBU rolls.

And so, one beautiful Friday morning, all 40 of us artists loaded up into six large SUVs and took off for an unforgettable overnight adventure!

It took us about an hour and a half to reach CBU’s Tahquitz Pines Conference Center in Idyllwild, where we would be staying. Once we arrived there, we were given a few minutes to find our cabins and unpack, and then it was off to location scouting!

The girls and I outside our homey cabins!

Now, if I’m being honest, I was expecting that the professors had already planned out where exactly we would be caravanning for our shoots… but no, it was just as much a mystery to them as it was to us. So naturally, the first day of our trip involved a whole lot of driving around in circles and getting lost before finding our “perfect” spot to shoot. But again, if I’m being honest, I actually think that was one of the more enjoyable parts of the trip! After all, what fun is a strict schedule to an artist?

After we spent a few hours shooting and observing the techniques of the professors, we headed back to camp for a wonderfully hot meal. But, it wasn’t until after dinner that the real fun began.

With the sun left the warmth, so we all huddled around a glowing bonfire. One of the students pulled out a guitar, and before long, we were all worshipping together, under the stars, as a family. Marveling in the beauty of this, I’d almost forgotten why we were there – and then we were called out into the trees.

One of our professors decided to go out and buy fog machines and colored flashlights to surprise us with. He also brought a hefty outside projector. So as darkness fell over the mountains, we photographers picked up our lights, flipped on the fog and ran the projector – setting the stage for one of the most fantastic shoots I have ever seen.

“Lightwriting” in the trees!

Our professors then proceeded to teach us the art of what’s called “lightwriting,” which is basically capturing moving lights with one shot. If you’re skilled, you can even “paint” pictures or write words with light, capturing the whole piece with your camera. This might have been the most fascinating thing I’ve learned all semester!

With the following afternoon came time to say goodbye to the camp and head back up to our home away from home. As all the SUVs pulled back into CBU, we said our goodbyes, ready to rest for a while. I’d hardly realized how exhausted I was with all the distraction of ongoing activities!

I’m so blessed to have been able to ride along for this adventure and sure hope I’m able to again in the coming years!

The Potters House

This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to go on a women’s retreat with my church. I am on the women’s ministry team, and this is something we have been planning for more than a year. It was great to have it finally come into fruition; it felt like we were planning it forever. We had the opportunity to have an outside speaker come in. Usually we would have women from our church do the speaking, but a few women heard this lady speak, and we knew that we had to have her at our retreat.

The speaker, Carole, calls herself “The Pottery Lady.” As you can imagine the foundation of her messages was that we are the clay and God is the master potter. However, she took a slightly different approach to the messages then we are used to hearing. While Carole spoke, she would sit at her wheel and make pottery. She would work with the clay and use her knowledge of pottery to make comparisons to God being our master potter.

There were so many things I took away from this weekend, but let me share two big takeaways with you. First, you cannot fill a vessel that is full; we need to be emptied of ourselves and filled with Him. It is important to be completely Christ-centered, and it is impossible to be Christ-centered if we are self-centered. We are called to be like Him, so how can we be like him if we are not emptied of ourselves first? Then we are caused to ask the question, what does it look like to be like Christ? There is one thing that we can be sure of: it will not be easy. Being like Christ means that we have to take up our cross daily.

The other takeaway from the weekend is that God will never take us to a place for which He has not prepared us. The trials that God puts us through are always for a reason, and there is always a purpose. God is sovereign and His plan will prevail. When He brings us to it, He will bring us through it.  He is always faithful to complete the work that He has begun in us.

This past weekend was amazing—a time of relaxation and retreat, rejuvenating me enough to finish out the last month in the semester strong.

The Greater Picture

Allow me to tell you all a story. It involves dragons and ninjas and pixie dust, and my fierce martial arts skills.

That is all lies. It actually involves fairly average struggles that all added to an ultimately wonderful experience. Friends, let me tell you about last Saturday’s Christian College Leadership Conference.

By the time Saturday hit, I was coming off yet another incredibly busy week. I stumbled in sleepily to my apartment Friday night, unable to think clearly due to the fatigue that finally overtook me. It was already 12:30 a.m., and I knew that I had to meet with FOCUS at 8:00 that morning. I needed to wash my hair, swallow a great deal of coffee and/or tea, and generally prepare myself for the big day ahead, so I determined to set my alarm for 6:30 so that I could accomplish all of this.

And this I did… so I thought.

What actually occurred was that in my sleepy stupor I set the alarm for 7:30 instead of 6:30. I also neglected to plug my phone into the charger, so when I woke up with it at 2 percent battery life, I knew it was by the grace of God that it stayed alive long enough to wake me up at all. I sprung out of bed, noticing the stiffness of my neck and back and trying not to focus on a newly forming headache. I realized that there was no way I had time to shower, so I hurriedly brushed my teeth, threw on some (semi)clean clothes and power walked over to Yeager where I was set to meet everyone. Miraculously, I ended up being five minutes early.

I realized then that the day was definitely going to be a good day. That might be odd, but all of my best days have started out with me out of step, yet able to laugh regardless. I think the Creator just knew that I needed the extra sleep, and to remember that caffeine, a working phone and clean hair are not of utmost importance. As soon as I tossed my plan away and began to roll with the punches, I began to get a taste of the goodness that God has lined up for next year.

CCLC included not only ALL of CBU’s leadership, but also that of a handful of other universities. We gathered in the gym to dance, sing, worship along to All Sons and Daughters and hear gorgeous stories told by an author I deeply respect, Josh Riebock. We then had breakout sessions, community lunch, staff time and time to mingle, play games, dance again and connect with others in all programs. As I took the time to look around in the midst of each event, I couldn’t shake the immeasurable joy that overcame me when I thought, “This is what Heaven will be like.”

We will be in the company of believers who are all bent on worshipping God with everything that they are. We will be filled with indescribable happiness as we celebrate the beauty of the Creator and everything that He has done in the world. This experience, framed in episodes of my scattered clumsiness, only made me focus more on the great Lord that I get to serve. I am sure that serving as a FOCUS Leader will be one of the greatest things I get to do in college, and I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for each leader I got to encounter at CCLC. He is doing big things, and He’ll accomplish His will whether or not we are on our game. Praise Him for that and for the greater picture.

Almost RA

These last few days, I took the next few steps to becoming an official Colony RA for next year. Up to this point, the “responsibility” and “job” aspect of it all wasn’t quite there yet so I’m having a blast.

To start, CBU hosted the annual Christian College Leadership Conference, which all upcoming student leaders from area Christian universities attend. Azusa Pacific, Biola, Concordia, Vangaurd, Fresno Pacific, and even Arizona Christian University all sent busloads of students to CBU campus last Saturday for the event. By 8:30 a.m., students sporting shirts with their university’s logo gathered in a huge pack outside of the gym, and I was excited. At last year’s conference, the keynote speaker Bob Goff, author of Love Does, delivered an amazing message, followed by interesting leadership workshops and  In-N-Out trucks. I also ran into high school friends from other universities that I hadn’t seen in forever. I was hoping for a repeat performance.

I wasn’t disappointed. To kick off the conference, All Sons & Daughters, a Christian Worship Folk band, lead the worship and filled the gym with acoustic energy. Then the keynote speaker, Josh Riebock, author of Heroes and Monsters, took the stage. He is a self-described story teller, and he kept the crowd laughing and focused on the message. The theme of CCLC this year was “Follow,” and he described The Never Ending Story as well as Jesus calming the storm to emphasis how we need to follow Jesus before we can expect others to follow us. That message kept the energy going as we dispersed to attend workshops about how to follow God. Then there was staff and recreation time, which was new this year. I met up with the other new East Colony RAs, which was only our second time doing so. That was great, though, since leading into our recreation we had a group to tag along with. Games and activities filled Stamps Courtyard, which included Kan Jam, slack lining, DJ Icy Ice blasting beats and more. I stuck around the Plinko board since the rules of the game forced random people to hug random strangers. Awkward to experience. Fun to watch. That was also a time for us to socialize with the other schools, whether by unexpected hugging or normal conversation. I even ran into one of my high school friends, Jim Levegood, from Vanguard University. I think I checked off every expectation I hoped for leading up to the conference. So far being an RA has been great.

And that idea continued. Last Tuesday was the official RA inauguration event, Passing the Torch. All of the new RAs for the whole campus met in Yeager to figuratively receive the torch from the RA they are succeeding. I was hoping for literal torch on fire, or at least a glow stick, but still I had a good time. Each living area prepared a funny video to welcome and provide advice for the incoming group. For East Colony, the RAs prepared a bachelor style selection video complete with candles and framed pictures of our faces as they chose their ideal replacement. My frame ended up being a picture of me from middle school that I haven’t seen in years and probably shouldn’t be seen ever again. I’m glad Facebook pictures are around to remind me how far I’ve come. Regardless, we all laughed along with the other videos and even went exploring the Colony to find our new apartments. I’ll be a Global Village RA, too, which means my residents will be mainly international students. I can’t wait to start.

Behind the Scenes

Towards the beginning of this semester, I began working for the CBU’s Conferences and Events team. I work an average of 10 to 15 hours a week, and during those hours I’m usually wrapping cords, setting up tables and chairs, controlling lights, and the like. We set up and tear down everything, from chapel to concerts to club fairs… it’s all us! And the best part? We get to be there.

I wrote in an earlier blog about how no CBU student has any excuse to be bored during the week, because if you’re not working, or studying, or hanging out with friends, then you’ve got to be at the Rec Center, or enjoying an event, or something – there’s always something. In truth, though, I never fully understood just how many “somethings” there are until I began working for C&E.

Last week, I was assigned to set up and help run an open mic night out in Stamps Courtyard. The event was absolutely beautiful, from the flower vases on every table, to the handwritten posters and colored lights – the whole atmosphere was such a pleasure to experience. And the greatest part was having the opportunity to watch fellow Lancers take a deep breath and step up onto the stage, each one gifting us with the show of a unique talent. The event included everything from poetry to singing, from guitar to magic tricks… and even a couple performances done by CBU siblings, which was pretty much the sweetest thing I’d seen all week!

Throughout the show, the student Community Life interns introduced each performer and their talent, cracking a joke every so often to keep the audience’s mind off the cold…. and boy, was it cold. But of course, CBU had it covered! For that evening only, Wanda’s Café was offering coffee for $1! Yum!

The following evening, I was assigned to Office Tech – which basically consists of running around campus filling the gaps of the other jobs, and making sure C&E is ahead of schedule. But during the running around, I noticed a distinct, powdery aroma – and sure enough, CBU was hosting yet another event, out on the front lawn. This event, the name of which escapes me, is an annual get together of students, and guess what they do? They throw bright, colorful powder at each other until everyone looks like they’ve just recovered from falling into a rainbow. Why? I’m not sure, because I didn’t attend, but just because we’re legal adults now doesn’t mean we don’t crave a little childish fun every once in a while!

All that to say, I’m loving my position on the C&E team. Every week, I greet new faces and have the chance to work alongside of familiar ones, while also getting to see the “behind the scenes” of CBU’s crazy, sometimes colorful, schedule.

You know, Lancers, C&E is almost always hiring… Looking for a job? Jump on board! It’s exhausting, but you won’t regret it.

The Final Month

One month. There is one month left of school until graduation. It is safe to say that I am freaking out a little bit. As I sat down to reflect on the past week and write this blog, I realized I did not do anything exciting this past week. Getting ready to graduate has filled my plate with an endless to-do list before May 3rd.

The question that I constantly get is, “Are you excited to graduate?” Without fail my answer is always, “Ummm, kind of.” Don’t get me wrong; I am excited to graduate. I’m ready to be one step closer to starting my career as a teacher. However, when I think about all of the things that I need to get done between now and graduation I am slightly overwhelmed with the workload.

One thing that I always do as the final month of classes comes around is make a to-do list. I love making lists and being able to cross off a task when it has been completed. Usually my end-of-semester to-do list is a half page or less, but my current list is slightly longer than a page. How is that even possible? Looking at that to-do list is stressful, but slowly crossing off tasks is rewarding. Each task completed is a step closer to graduation, a step closer to being done.

This last week was literally packed full of homework. Every spare moment I had was used to work on homework; free time did not exist at all last week. The biggest project that I am working to complete is my capstone. Basically, I have to give an example of work from every class, and I have to write reflections on almost every class that I have taken at CBU. As you could imagine, this is not the most exciting thing to do, but it must be done in order to graduate.

Although boring, working on my capstone has given me an ample amount of time to reflect on my time here at CBU. There is a section in my capstone where I have to explain how I have been able to grow spiritually at CBU. This has probably been the most rewarding section to complete of my capstone. It has allowed me to see how blessed I have been to attend a school that encourages my spiritual growth along with my education. I have been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to attend CBU and this was another good reminder of that fact.

Campus and Color

Last Thursday will always be remembered as  ”the night of too many fun events going on.”  I don’t know why every department on campus voted on March 27th to be their activity day, but that’s exactly what it was. Since I’m the type of guy that needs to check out what’s going on outside, I had a little difficultly choosing where to start.

I left the engineering building by 5 p.m. after a grueling lab involving RLC circuits and filter design that I don’t want to bother explaining (mainly because I don’t understand it either). I planned to attend a campus festival, but that was before I started noticing all of the posters and Conference and Events workers setting up lights and tables. It didn’t quite hit me until I walked over to the caf. The Lancer stood outside announcing a chance to win a $100 In-N-Out gift card at the men’s volleyball game vs UCLA at 7 p.m. I’m all about winning In-N-Out gift cards and trash talking opposing volleyball teams, but I couldn’t pass up an Indian color festival. Then I learned that my roommate was going to downtown Riverside to see a CBU Art Expo in downtown Riverside. Some of his ceramic pieces as well as my other friend’s paintings and drawings would be on display, too. Of course, I wanted to support their work, but the times conflicted with my prior commitments to throw colored powdered paint at my friends.

The Festival of Color was at 7:30 p.m., but right before that, I checked out an East Colony event that conveniently was on the same night as everything else. The Unbirthday event was held out on the basketball courts with free pizza and candy for all to enjoy. The residential director rented a jump house, as well, with giant punching gloves to challenge friends, which I would have been all over if all of my friends weren’t already having a blast at other campus events.  I walked past a West Colony Western event, too.  There, honestly, was a different fun event to attend everywhere I went. Let’s try to space these out a bit for next time.

I finally found my way over to the front lawn. Already, a large group of students all dressed in white stood excited to start the night. The International Center hosted the festival for the first time last year and obviously word spread about how great it was. With such a large group of college students eager to drench themselves in powdered paint, I’m surprised how patient we were to observe the Bollywood dancers and to listen to the cultural traditions of India. At the end of the presentations, the announcer directed us to the lines full of green, blue, red, pink and purple paint bags, and I grabbed as many varieties as I could. We all bunched up close and at the countdown we launched our first fistful of paint into the sky. The paint scattered in the air, and the festival began. I quickly lost track of my group of friends with all of the people running about and throwing paint into each other’s faces. The air was thick with excitement, as well as purple and pink dust. I couldn’t believe how quickly my white shirt and khakis became plastered with every color imaginable.  Still, I wanted to pelt my friends with a healthy dose of green paint, so I maneuvered my way through the color warfare and group pictures, photobombing everywhere I could. I finally found them, and my target quickly became my girlfriend’s clean, unpainted face. I took care of that swiftly. I couldn’t have been more proud of my work, and she couldn’t have been more opposed to my decision. Once all of the paint was scattered on the lawn and ourselves, I finally could see the masterpieces we all became. I had a large red stain across my left eye, which with all of the running around and excitement could have been paint or a massive bruise. Either way, the night was too much fun. I can see now why everyone wants to go to the Holi Festival.

I wish I could say that was the last event, but alas, there was one more. There was a Sophomore Second Breakfast event with a free eggs and bacon, as well as class shirts. We all walked over in our colorful attire and finished the night right. I still can’t believe how many things happened in one day. CBU campus life is the best.

A Pause

Sometimes, things do not go my way.

I know we all have weeks like this, and I am perfectly okay with that. It’s just funny how every single time this happens, I tend to relearn such simple lessons all over again.

To say that this last Monday was just not my day is an understatement. Coming off of a busy weekend, I lost my bearings and was caught up in the landslide of life (again). It seemed to take a lack of caffeine, a forgotten assignment, a stubbed toe, a late arrival to ISP training and an insanely disappointing How I Met Your Mother finale to bring me to the point where I stopped, took a breath and decided to examine all that I was feeling.

First, I felt weariness. I had been burning my candle from both ends, attempting to give everything my all. Next, I felt anxiety, remembering that B that should have been an A on my last exam and worrying about my GPA (yes, I am one of those people). After this, I felt a bit lost. I remembered that I had been relying too much on adrenaline and will power to accomplish everything. Then, my Creator stepped in, sat next to me on the cold bench, put his hand on mine and told me what I needed to know.

“Friend, I know your life better than even you. I have what you need, so why haven’t you taken the time to hear?”

When I finally took a moment to myself to sit quietly and let my mind focus on God alone, I realized how much I had been neglecting to meditate on His word and His kingdom. While my commitments are good, they are only so when done with advancing God’s purposes in mind. I honor Him through my grades, my relationships, and my work, and I’m enabled to do these things through Him so that I can bring Him glory. Life is long, but my Lord’s commands are simple: Love God. Serve Him. Love people.

There is value in the quiet and calmness. We need to stop talking long enough to listen and let the One show us what we need to know.

Time goes by so fast – it sweeps along whether we’re ready or not and brings inevitable change. Most days, I forget that I did not just enter into my freshman year of college last week; nearly three years have passed, bringing with them experiences I could have only hoped and prayed for. There has been so much good, so much personal and communal development, and these are things I pray I will never forget. We cannot lose sight of each calm, beautiful moment as they grace us. The quiet times with the Creator, graced by his presence, and shown something new turn out to be the most influential moments of our lives. I think that is a reason that Instagram photos are so loved – the best ones capture snapshots of simple moments, allowing a person to create a compilation of everyday life.

Even though time passes faster than I can imagine, I’m learning to constantly return to gratitude and simplicity. Quiet solitary walks and unexpected conversations with dear friends turn out to be some of the moments where God’s love shines the brightest. I’m so glad for the chance to experience this again this week. I needed the quiet wakeup call despite my hectic schedule, and I pray that this reminder lasts longer than my memories of forgotten assignments or lack of sleep. Either way, to God be the honor, now and always.

Focus, Then Glance

You know what’s crazy? I just returned from spring break, and suddenly in four weeks I will have officially completed my freshman year of college. That is crazy.

This home stretch is such an interesting one – it’s full of preparing yourself to say goodbye to the routines and comforts you’ve developed over the past seven months, and also time to say hello to countless new opportunities on the horizon. I’m a quarter of the way through… And yet, it feels as though nothing has changed, and I’m still just beginning this college journey.

One example of an opportunity is one that’s been on my mind almost constantly over the past few weeks. A friend of mine and I are looking into studying abroad in Europe next Spring via a program that CBU has an affiliation with—as if CBU needed to add to their list of incredible opportunities!

Since we’re both graphic design majors, Caitlin and I are having so much fun sorting through the various art schools in Rome andFlorence, jittery with excitement at the idea of living in another country for a semester. To wake up, pick up a mug of Italian coffee and some delicious Tuscan pastries before glancing over our shoulder–only to see the silhouette of the coliseum in the distance. What a daydream!

Therein lies the problem. I am so much of a daydreamer that I often struggle to remain firm enough in the present to focus! Focus on the here and now, focus on the present, focus.

I wrote in an earlier blog about how my mom used to tell me when I was in elementary school, after I’d complain about how the school days drag on forever, that, “When you are older, time just seems to go so much faster.” I never believed her… until I did.

With that reflection in mind, and especially realizing that an entire year of college has nearly escaped my reach, I’m learning the importance of balancing what consumes my mind between the present reality and my future daydreams. This is no simple feat for me, as I learned in my FOCUS class earlier this year. We were required to take a personality test which revealed our five top strengths – two of mine were Ideation and Futuristic. Enough said?

So if, having almost completed my first year, I have enough credibility to give some advice to graduating high school seniors, it would be this: when it comes to going to school for the purpose of planning a future, exercise focusing on the here and now so that you may succeed in whatever it is you intend to do.

But also, learn to daydream if you haven’t already, because that’s what will ultimately propel you through every homestretch.

Focus, focus… then glance.

Urban Excursion SF


My average spring break experience usually consists of the following: extensive yard work and extensive laying on the floor thinking of what to do with this strange new feeling called free time. To shake things up a bit, I applied to be a part of Urban Excursion San Francisco, a five-day mission trip organized by the Office of Spiritual Life. I only briefly heard about the trip during FOCUS leader training last semester. Leading into this semester, all I could remember was “fun trip over spring break to San Francisco,” and that was enough for me to apply. I was accepted and met the team over a period of three training nights. There were 10 students and two leaders, Julie Dobbins and Kris Huffman, and training consisted mainly of getting to know each other. Strangely enough, I still had no idea what we were going to do in San Francisco by the time we packed up the cars and left. Something about homeless ministry.

To start things off right, we left in two Chevy Suburbans with plenty of room and sour gummy worms to keep us happy during the eight-hour journey to the Bay Area. I still didn’t know the team that well so this was perfect time to ask random questions and laugh with each other. The good vibes carried us through the drive, as did the promise of an In-n-out stop for dinner. The team stayed at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, which is conveniently located just across the bridge out of the city. The campus sits on forested hills with a beautiful view of the water and city in the distance. We explored the hills the first night and felt excited to finally get in the city.

The next day we drove to Golden Gate Park where large numbers of homeless people congregate in the day. We pair up and walked around the park talking to and praying for anyone who would let us. I paired up with Kris, and we ended up talking to one man for the entire three hours. We met him on a street corner, where he held a cardboard sign asking for cigarettes and beer. He was friendly and talkative, but right away he began with his ideas of spiritual energies and chakras and what not. His traveling name was even Taro because he was a tarot card reader. We bought him lunch at McDonald’s and talked for hours about our understanding of God and the scriptures, but he always jumped back to his idea of feeling for the answers and mixing various religions into one. I’ve never met someone so spiritual in the wrong way. He was open, however, to what we had to say, and we at least prayed for him that he would find the truth. The whole thing was a bit discouraging at first but also revealed how lost people can be. Other groups had similar experiences in the park, which was a great challenge for our own faith.

The following days we met all kinds of people, those choosing to live on the streets and those recently unemployed or recovering from addictions.  I could write pages about the people we met, but I’ll at least highlight the ministries being done there to help out. We visited Interface SF on Sunday. Interface is a new church plant involving CBU graduates, which is planning to officially launch a community center in Golden Gate Park by September. The next day we partnered with them to volunteer at Family Home, an organization that provides free housing for families with terminally ill children who need care in the local hospitals. The final day we worked in one of the poorest districts, the Tenderloin, with City Impact, which offers multiple services for the homeless and needy. When we arrived, there were already teams from Vangaurd, Oklahoma Christian University and Colorado State University, all volunteering for the week. We helped prepare food, set up and tear down for services, and spoke to and prayed for those in need. In the afternoon, we packed lunches and handed them out from door to door at a low-income apartment building. The organization does these kinds of things every day, which is incredible. There is always someone else around that needs help, too.

Those five days went by fast, and our team grew close together in those shared experiences. We saw a lot of the city, as well, which made it even harder to leave.

There is so much need in the city. Still, we left with a new understanding of just how important it is to be involved in these programs. Urban Excursion was an eye opener for me as to what I can do to help. I’m definitely getting involved in trips to come.

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