Therapy by Puppies and Pokemon

It’s becoming a trend for some hospitals to bring in dogs as comfort therapy for ill patients. There’s even a whole foundation called Therapy Dogs International, which provides dog “visitors” for terminal patients in select hospitals. Why, you may ask? Because supposedly, animal company really is therapeutic for the human mind. The theory is factually supported.

So, naturally, what does CBU do when their students are in a terrified flurry about the coming finals? They bring in puppies for us to play with, of course!

A couple of weeks ago, just before finals began, ASCBU (CBU student council) put on an event that they happily named “Recess.” This event included a collection of childish games and activities, including swings and puppies, as well as students dressed as childhood TV characters. Onlookers called it a “fair,” because of the loud, energetic music and colorful atmosphere.

And so, students set aside their textbooks and laptops to join in the fun with many of their fellow classmates, celebrating another fantastic year of learning and growth. For some, this would be their last large CBU event before graduation – and what better way to go out “with a bang” than with a puppy in your arms?

When the event ended, the music stopped, and the crazies left to go back to their apartments, we C&E workers stepped out onto the lawn to tear down everything. Fortunately, not much of a mess was made for us to take care of, but one of my coworkers did joke about how all of the trash that was left “smelled so good; like ice cream!” If even the trash smelled tasty, then the intentionally childish event must have been a success!

One of the things I love most about CBU is how much leeway its student leaders have to plan random, unique events such as this one… Because, well, let’s be honest –if the event planning had been left to someone whose childhood happened well before ours, there probably wouldn’t have been a giant Pokemon walking around campus. Just sayin’.

Lead by Following

Allow me to share with you all that I am excited for at the moment.

I am so excited for Easter Break, as it is not only a break before finals, but a time to visit my wonderful boyfriend’s family in San Diego. I am excited to finally turn in my final papers and complete my exams so that I can kick off months of homework-free time. I can’t wait to go the UK for three weeks with my ISP team to love on people there, and then come back to the states to debrief for a bit before diving into FOCUS training. After this, I get to move in with one of my best friends to our adorable new place in the Village to start off what will be my SENIOR YEAR – WHAT?!

So I guess you can say I have a lot to look forward to. That is a fair assumption.

In the midst of this, I find that there is still so much that I want to cram into each and every moment. Time is moving fast and I want to live fully through all that is happening. I want to show my friends and classmates the insane love I feel from the Creator every day, and I want to keep soaking in all that I can from each of my classes even though they are ending.

As I’ve been going through FOCUS training with my fellow leaders, I have been overwhelmed by the powerhouse community this program provides. Each and every person in the program has the support of everyone else, and we all have an apparent desire to grow closer to God and each other, and to make disciples. As we’ve been gathering to discuss the upcoming Fall semester, we have all have expressed a desire to be the best leaders we can be and make the most of our time with the FOCUS program. We have placed emphasis on fully learning one simple thing, and this is the center of our concern at the moment.

We need to perfect our identity as followers.

As leaders at CBU, our goal is to magnify the One we follow in all that we do. Our leader is Jesus, and we emulate his perfect example of leadership. As He was making disciples, He did not boast of His greatness and demand respect (though this is rightly deserved). He served people in love. He put himself last to make his Father’s glory known to those He served. He made it clear, and we see this throughout the accounts of His life, that in order to lead others, we have to follow the guidance of the Creator and serve, counting others as sacred beings and caring for their needs before our own. When we, as student leaders, imitate Jesus and follow Him with all that we have, the Father’s name will be honored and we will set a standard for others to follow, not because of our own skills but because of the One who empowers us to do his work.

This concept is one to take and digest over the course of the next few weeks. Yes, finals are upon us. Yes, ISP fundraisers are in full swing along with the countless other obligations take up our attention. As worshippers of Christ, we need to remember our identity as followers in all of this. We can only set an example for others to follow if we are following the example of one much greater than we can ever be.

Friends, I’ll leave you with that. Thanks for sticking with me this year! Fare well in your finals, drink your tea, and keep your chin up – we’re nearly there!

One Step Closer

This past Saturday I completed the biggest project of my undergraduate career, my senior capstone. This is a project that I have been working on for the past three months, and it is finally done. Let me tell you, it is a huge relief to be finished with this grand project. This is one of the final stepping-stones to graduation. With this project complete, graduation is closer then ever.

You may be wondering what my capstone consists of or how long it is. Basically, it is a summary of all of the classes that I have taken during my time at California Baptist University. There were a total of 13 sections that needed to be completed in my portfolio. Each section included a reflection on the class, or classes included in the section, and how they helped to prepare me for teaching. Then there were a few sections where I had to write narratives on certain projects that I did and how it has helped prepare me. The final thing I had to do was upload examples of work from each class that I took during my time here at California Baptist University.

You see, the content of what went into my portfolio was not that hard. It was just time consuming. This biggest struggle was trying to remember assignments that I completed almost four years ago and determining how they helped as I prepare to become a teacher.

Once I completed my capstone I felt a big weight lifted off my shoulders, but it was soon right back on when I sat down to figure out what needed to be done by the end of the semester. I am a list maker and after I completed my capstone, I made a list of homework that needs to be completed by April 25th, which is when all work for graduating seniors is due. As I made the list of 19 items, I began to feel a little overwhelmed but excited as I realized once I finished everything on this list I would be ready for graduation.

Here’s a fun fact about myself: being able to highlight tasks off of a to do list is my favorite thing to do. Sometimes I will even add something to my list just so I can cross it off. Since Saturday I have been able to cross a few more things off my list. I’ve recognized that each item crossed off is one step closer to graduation, and that’s exciting.

Art and Science

With only a week before the start of finals, I should have expected there to be a string of last minute campus events popping out of nowhere. On the plus side, though, with the approach of final exams I have no more projects or papers to write. Less time in front a computer screen equals more time to enjoy with my friends. That’s why the professors do it, right?

Monday night hosted the most of these fun activities, starting with CREATE. The annual fine arts night allows students to show off any form of visual art, including photographs, paintings, drawings, ceramics, wood sculptures, and even poetry. Paintings and photographs lined one end of Stamps Courtyard with soft incandescent lighting strung across the grass. I walked through the vibrant faces and detailed fruits, but my eyes locked in on a specific portrait of donuts in a store. So simple, yet, so exquisite. I was impressed, too, by how many talented students there are here at CBU. The school should have an art gallery in downtown Riverside (oh wait, they do!).  Tables full of paints and tools allowed passerbys to create their own pieces with take home reusable Starbucks cups. On the other end were tables and a stage for poetry, and then later for amazing cello covers with a loop box. Laying on the grass in the warm night air listening to blend of modern and classical music was very relaxing. No complaints there.   The main event, though, was Propaganda, a spoken word poet and rapper, whose poems about faith and social issues made us both laugh as well as reflect on their meanings. Such a relaxing night appreciating the fine arts.

To complete my true Renaissance man persona, I also attended a viewing of the lunar eclipse that same night. I am a man of science after all, but more importantly my physics professor offered the class extra credit for joining the observing event on the front lawn. I planned on staying up to watch it anyways so I jumped on that opportunity right away. I walked out to the front lawn and found a several other astrologically conscious students lying on blankets and enjoying Milkyways (how appropriate) as a shadow slowly encompassed the shining moon. I also brought a light up frisbee, which meant that I had plenty to do. The lunar eclipse this night was special, too, since it was a blood moon. Once the shadow engulfed the entire moon, the surface turned a dark red and remained in its eerie state for well over an hour. A better description would have been a “peach moon,” but I’m no astrophysicist. Still, it was fun to just talk with my friends and watch the night sky change so drastically. I didn’t even know before that moons could change color, or that extra credit could be so entertaining. Let’s hope for some more before I take that final.

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.

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