Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mourning to Joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1: 2-4

Four years ago this week, I lost my mother to cancer. I was a high school junior, with a “man’s man” of a father and two siblings nine and 19 years older than me. That experience immediately launched me from adolescence to young womanhood. How is that possible—forcefully adopting adulthood the day after your (bitter) Sweet Sixteenth birthday? On my own: impossible. With help: manageable.

I can’t put into words who my mother was. I attempted once to type out a description of her with extremely accurate words to do justice to her character, but no words seemed to go far enough. Because of either my lack of vocabulary, or the possibility that my mom’s character is nearly indescribable, I can safely say that there wasn’t another woman on earth like her. She was the glue to my family, and oddly enough, when glue is taken away from the object it is holding together, the object is no longer one, but many individual pieces.

Our family unit was broken.

As each of my family members grieved their own loss of her, the foundation of our own characters was shaken. Father lost his 43-year relationship with his sweetheart and half of himself; Brother lost his understanding of home and his children’s grandmother; Sister lost her confidante and mentor; I lost my life teacher and strongest encourager. We remained broken-hearted for ourselves, but we learned joy through the realization of our eternity with Christ.

God provides. I survey the events of the last four years almost every night as my head sinks into my pillow and discover the fingerprints of His hands in every situation. With each year, He further molds my heart into understanding grace and provision using people in my life as a teaching medium.

As the presence of my mother’s life and spirit dissipated from mine, God began to gently escort women after His own heart into my life. Godly women—women who had experienced hurt for themselves and turned to the Lord for strength—slowly began to appear to offer motherly advice, support, encouragement, and compassionate admonition to me. As a stubborn girl, with headstrong tendencies and feminine individualism, I was reluctant to accept any sort of help from anyone. I did not enjoy relying on another person to aid me when I felt perfectly capable of being self-reliant.

Oh, how I was wrong. I continually proved to be in need of advisement and grace. In a stern conversation from one of these women, she said to me that the Bible orders us to help one another when we are in need. We are the body of Christ—we are to look after each other and offer what we have to someone who needs it, whether they know it or not and we are to accept that help. After that memorable conversation, my hardened heart towards allowing people to help me began to slowly soften. Even after four years of God continually teaching me this important idea, I am still frequently hesitant to accept assistance from anyone, but remembering the fact that the body of Christ is a unit, a family, it steadily becomes more acceptable in my mind. In the moment, I am humbled. Looking back over the situation, I am thankful—thankful that God was so invested in me to use His people to teach me how the body of Christ operates.

Learning how to accept aid from caring women is one of the most important concepts I have learned through my mother’s death, proving the provision of the Lord through the trials of human life. I recently heard a sermon from an unfamiliar pastor who said that as God provides trials to draw you nearer to Him, He will also provide every sort of means to make it through. That is the story of my life—as God provides trials, he also provides a way through so that we are closer to Him, and able to communicate His grace through our experiences.

“When I’m worried, and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.”
–Irving Berlin, White Christmas

 

We’re here…

I just wanted to encourage the freshmen or people who don’t feel like they belong here. There are a lot of adjustments to make in college, but having good friends can help.

One thing that I have noticed about CBU is that it is a school that welcomes people. I think that many people struggle with identity once they start college. College is a time when people are free to be themselves. Who you hang out with can help mold who you will become. Many campus groups are open to new people, and I have found school clubs and groups of friends can be very welcoming and inclusive. Last year in the dorms, I was often invited to eat dinner with others in the hall even when my door was closed.

On Tuesday I tried to help out in the theater. I don’t know how much I actually helped, but the people there were patient with me. I felt like I was part of their group. I got to sit in on a Chinese class on Wednesday and didn’t feel out of place at all (thanks Professor Lu). You might think that people are just being nice and that this may happen on every college campus, but I think CBU is unique because people go out of their way to help you adjust to life away from home. The International Center helps international students adjust to life here in Riverside, and a group of students who grew up overseas meets on campus often. I feel like it is easy to be comfortable here.

One of the things I appreciate most about CBU is that people are willing to help you grow spiritually. A Bible study group that met last year invited me to join them again this year. I have also been blessed by people who have invited me to church and offered rides to church and back.

It can take a while to feel like you belong somewhere, but at CBU I think that you could start a conversation with anyone and feel welcome. The key to adjustment is just putting yourself out there. Once you get over your shyness, you’ll see there really is a place for you at CBU.

 

Prayer:

This week pray for people as they decide how to vote in the presidential election.

 

 

 

What I Learned From an Evening With Batman

Let’s talk about Batman for a minute.

I regard Batman as the most hardcore of all superheroes. I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy for two main reasons: One, because the story of the Dark Knight is told in a truly astounding way. Two, Christian Bale plays Batman. That is great, too. I actually had a dream once that I married him. The colors were black and white, he wore his Batman getup, and our ceremony was held in the Batcave. It was one of the greatest (and weirdest) dreams I’ve ever had.

Okay, here’s where I’m going with this. As much as I love this movie series, I discovered that being involved with on-screen actors cannot replace my need for contact with people. I spent last Friday night snuggled up on my couch with food and the TV, and for the most part, I enjoyed it. The only thing that bothered me was the fact that I felt like I should have been hanging out with someone. There are always random adventures happening around campus, and I wanted to go be a part of something.

I have always assumed that I am an extreme introvert because I prefer not to be the center of attention, I have always maintained a smaller group of friends, and I prefer to hang out in a low-key setting. I will gladly watch movies all day long or spend hours in a coffee shop. After looking up the actual definitions of these terms, however, I discovered the extrovert outweighs the introvert in me. Here’s what I found after looking into this a bit:

Introverts gather their energy from solitude. They recharge their batteries by spending time alone with their thoughts and their own favorite activities. They solve problems by spending a lot of time processing events internally and eventually reaching a conclusion.

Extroverts receive energy through interaction with other people. They feel refreshed after spending time with those they care about. When solving problems, they tend to talk to the people they trust in order to gather opinions and reach the best possible conclusion through processing things using several points of view.

After my evening with Batman and entirely too much junk food, I found myself craving a real person to talk to. I wanted to go on a hike, play board games, basically anything as long as there were people involved. I called as many people from my hometown as I could to try and catch up with them, only to realize that it was midnight and no one was awake. It was then that the restlessness really set in. I paced around the apartment for a bit and eventually decided to clean things. I have a rule against cleaning things on a Friday night, so let the weight of that sink in for a moment.

As I’ve reflected on that experience, I realize that a huge part of living life in college involves personal discovery. You learn more about yourself and try to grow as an individual by trying new things and meeting new people. I knew that I would learn a lot from the random adventures that occur at CBU, but I’m learning to appreciate the down time as well. When I have time to myself, I should take advantage of it by making sure I am caught up on homework. I could especially use that time to go over my experiences that week and think about how they affected me. I think it is good to maintain a balance between introversion and extroversion. We can learn from time alone as well as from time spent with friends.

On another, completely unrelated note, I feel the need to address the coming of autumn (FINALLY!!!) As a Northern California girl, I eagerly await the chillier weather here in the usually sunny SoCal. Praise God for ground covered in crunchy leaves!

Happy Fall, everyone!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas?

It is starting to get cold and autumn-like at CBU — making me very excited.  I have rummaged through my scarf collection and dusted off my boots for fall. Autumn is not typically one of my favorite times of the year, though. One of the reasons I love CBU is because it is 75 degrees in the winter. However, for some reason, this year the cold is making me very sentimental.

Candles, scarves, pumpkin-flavored things and the cold weather remind me of my family and all of our holiday traditions. I never realized until recently how much scents affected how sentimental I can get. Every time I smell a yummy candle or baked goods straight from the oven, it makes me feel like I am home at Christmas-time.

Just like most other families, we have some traditions. We always start listening to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. I always try to convince my dad that Christmas music should not be played in November, but somehow I can never persuade him. Next, the Christmas decorations go up. We always decorate to the tune of some classic Christmas music like Bing Crosby or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which puts us in the Christmas mood. My family likes to have the wood stove roaring, making my house warm and cozy.

When I was younger, I used to take some of these traditions for granted. However, now that I am on my own at college, I appreciate all the activities and hominess of my family. I have a big craving to bake lots of sweet goodies like my mom would for the holidays, and decorate my apartment so it feels like home. One of my favorite things to come home to at my apartment is my pumpkin-spice scented air-freshener that makes my room smell like Christmas.

I think the reason holidays mean so much more to me now than when I was younger is because I do not get to be with my family as often. My hometown is far away from CBU, so holidays are the main time I get to visit my family. Being away at college makes me more thankful for the things that I would not necessarily be very conscious about otherwise.

As the holidays start to draw near, remember to be thankful for your families and the time you get to spend with them. Being with the people you love is a privilege, and having traditions makes family time really close to your heart.

 

Stress Buster

I love taking tests so much. It is my sixth favorite thing in the world, right behind chocolate, Doctor Who, rainy days, sliding across hardwood floor with socks on, and kittens. I just adore cramming as much information into my head as I possibly can and testing how well I actually retained everything I learned.

Okay, that might be a little bit of a lie. I’m not a huge fan of taking tests. I’d rather write a paper. However, in the middle of a busy semester, taking tests is exactly what I find myself doing often these days.

In the midst of my work this week, I found myself seated across from a wonderful friend of mine in a coffee shop. We were laughing our bellies sore as we relived our favorite scenes from the movie we had just seen and marveling at how little stress matters once you take a break and enjoy simple gifts in life. At one point she stopped me and said how amazed she was at how stressed she had been just hours previously, and how quickly that had dissolved. I pondered this for a minute to realize that I had experienced the exact same thing. I had been feeling the pressure of multiple deadlines, yet once the work was completed, the worry had lost all of its power.

Take that, stress!

People of the online community, our parents were right. Worrying does not help us accomplish anything in life. While it is important to learn how to budget our time and accomplish as much as we can with the time we are given, allowing stress into our lives is a useless waste of energy. It dissipates so quickly once the event is over, and we find that the worry was no help at all. In fact, it has only as much power as we give to it.

That fact moves beyond the pressure of school. There are situations in life that catch us off guard and leave our heads spinning. However, in my 19 years of living, I have found that life has a way of working things out in the end. God is an active God, and He will not leave us hanging.

In college, we experience highs and lows and learn how to deal with them. Stressing about tests, deadlines, a disagreement with a classmate, or anything else that comes our way will not help us to accomplish anything. Our focus needs to remain on growing closer to our Creator and bringing Him glory in all things, including our studies and the times we need to laugh it out.

I’d encourage anyone reading this to figure out ways to keep yourself from getting to the point where you’re blinded by stress. When you feel it coming on, walk away for a moment. Belt out your favorite song, eat Oreos (not the whole box!), call your mom, or watch a hilarious movie. Figure out how you relieve stress best, and make it a habit. Trust me, it helps to keep your focus on your goals, relationships, and relationship with Christ.

In the midst of this crazy semester, know that it will pass soon enough. Safe sailing, everyone!

Stranded

 

 

Having a CBU student ID card has its perks. I don’t have a car, so getting around can be a little hard. There are so many things that would be easier to do if I had a car. Going to the movies takes lots of planning. Thanks to the Riverside Transit Agency, CBU students can get free rides by swiping their ID cards to ride a local bus or even the CommuterLink express bus. You can see the bus route and schedules by clicking here. Even then, the places I can go are limited. I’m still not able to visit the beach or go to the mountains, but I am able to go shopping for food and supplies. I want to go to Mount Rubidoux and visit a beach, but haven’t been able to yet.

 

My brother and I have used our student ID cards multiple times to ride the bus. Last year I went to the Mission Inn. Sometimes I go on trips that the International Center organizes. It is a good, fun way to get to know people (especially international students) and have fun. Those trips are usually inexpensive. I encourage you to visit the International Center (even if you aren’t an international student) and see if they have any events planned that you may be interested in. For example, sometimes the International Center needs people to accompany someone to events, so that would be a great way to get to know a student from a different culture.

 

There are times when I wish I had a car, or want to go and do outdoor activities without having to tag along with someone. There’s usually something going on at CBU, so going off-campus for fun isn’t necessary. The community life game room and intramural sports are a great way to relax and unwind. Personally, I’m excited about the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament this Saturday. I haven’t been able to play much since the beginning of the school year, and my brother put me on his team. If you have time, come watch the fun!

 

 

Prayer:

This week please pray for your church leaders.

Plaid Hits the Stage

Lights.     Camera.     Plaid.

 

Plaid?

Yes. Plaid. Of the “forever” kind. Plaid has had its ups and downs in the fashion world, but here on campus, it has left an impression on all of those who have partaken in the musical phenomenon in the Wallace Theater. I’m talking about Forever Plaid, the fall musical that CBU’s drama department has masterfully produced this month: a 60s, plaid-clad group of boyband-singer-wannabes-almost-turned-superstars who unfortunately were killed in a van crash in the midst of their big break, and have been given one last chance to woo an earthly audience with their classic barbershop-style harmonies and early rock and roll croons. The four characters are a crack-up, and the dialogue between them was written just perfectly – a perfect blend of sarcasm with honesty, light-heartedness with depth, teasing with encouragement.

I was literally that woman in the theater whose laugh dominated over the entire audience. I think my boyfriend, Chris, was slightly embarrassed to have to sit next to me. Not only was the show just ridiculously hilarious, but also the cast was made of men that I am actually friends with. As I sat watching Jordan Smith, Ryan Yoder, Connor Smith, and Ethan Park act out the larger-than-life personalities on stage, I couldn’t help but think about whom the guys really were. Each having participated in several musicals and shows, their personalities are already developed into actors’ personalities, and each will make you laugh at any given moment just by being who they are. Then to see them fit themselves into the given characters had my sides in stitches and my cheeks sore from laughter.

As a music major, my ears are naturally drawn to music. For those who appreciate music, Forever Plaid will not disappoint. The nature of barber-shop quartet singing is tight harmonies, blended tone, and connection between the singers. With a floor-throbbing bass (Jordan), a stratosphere-singing tenor (Ryan), and two individually song-selling lead voices (Ethan and Connor), the quartet blew my expectations out of the water. I knew they would sound phenomenal, considering I have sung in choir with these four guys for two years, but I watched in awe through each of the songs. The quality of the singing was top-notch, and the overall “feel” of the music time-travelled you back to the era of 60s bee-bop rock and roll.

This production just goes to show what kind of quality teaching we have at CBU. Each of the cast members is a testament of the music and drama teaching of our professors here, doing complete justice to each department.

I want to see the show seven more times. Bummer that there aren’t seven opportunities! Head over to the Wallace Theater to purchase tickets for this weekend’s performances. If you hear some crazy lady laughing in the audience, don’t worry: it’s just me!

When I Grow Up

No one ever told me how much fun it was to grow up.  Everyone always warned me “life is hard; don’t grow up too quickly.”

Call me young and naïve, but I quite enjoy it.

This year I am a full-time senior student at CBU committed to two jobs, a boyfriend and a local church and college group.

Despite all this busyness, I find adult life very stimulating.

However, sometimes when you are in college you still feel like everyone else is an adult and you are just a pretender. You still have teachers telling you what you need to do. Everyone around you looks so much older, and you feel like you somehow sneaked in as a teenager into the strange world of college by accident.  There are certain things that cause you to really grow up.

One of these things is an increasing amount of responsibility.  I have always loved responsibility. Lots of responsibility means loads of planning, which is definitely my forte. I am pretty sure I am just one Excel spreadsheet away from planning what will go on every minute of my day — a pretty good thing for a busy college student.

At the end of the day, being an adult means I have to regulate my own life instead of parents making my schedule. This change is so liberating! Don’t get me wrong; I love my parents. But getting to choose for myself whether I will hang out with friends makes me feel like an adult instead of a kid masquerading as one.

Having a real job is another “grown-up” aspect of college life. One thing I enjoy about having a job is the sense of stability and independence it gives me. I work at the front desk of the Academic Resource Center, and I love every minute of it. Some days I wear my “big-girl” heels and feel like I am playing “dress up” as a real working adult. But earning money every time I get a paycheck feels like a real accomplishment. I work hard to save my money so that I can put it towards something that I need — not like a teenager who spends her paycheck as soon as she gets it. It makes me feel so responsible knowing that I can handle money and save it for important things.

Maybe some day I will be recognized as a real adult without having to wear my grown up outfit.  But until then, I am having a great time growing up and becoming a real adult.

 

Seek Week 2012

I am blessed to be going to a school that cares about its students. The fact that we have Seek Week set aside as a time for students to focus on their relationship with God makes CBU special.

I think that “The Word of God”, this semester’s theme for Seek Week, is applicable to both Christians and non-Christians, because all the week’s activities are geared toward showing that the Bible can be trusted. I understand that many non-Christians have other reasons for their disbelief, but Seek Week can get some people one step closer to accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. For Christians, the events can reinforce the validity of the Bible and show how we can defend our faith.

I have enjoyed Seek Week, because it has encouraged me to have conversations with people about what they believe and why. I think that it is very important for us to know why we believe what we do and be able to defend our beliefs. Apologetics is often forgotten. The church needs to teach truth and why certain things are true to those who believe.

Some people turn away from God because the moment they are challenged, they see Christianity as just another religion. There are some thought-provoking statements in the Bible, but getting to know God through His word can help clear up questions we may have. Through Bible study, we not only learn about God and the Bible, but we will be able to give a better defense and know the context of verses used against Christianity.

I encourage you to spend time in the Word if you haven’t been doing so. There is a lot to be learned from it!

 

This week pray for the Journeymen from CBU. Pray also for the Dowden and Ellis families.

Bible Stories.

Introverted. Self-Reliant. Opinionated. Determined. Strong-willed. Creative.

With that said, naturally, I am a voracious reader. Diving into a world created by another imaginative writer brings joy to my heart. I love knowing that God blessed the author with a gift for words and and the ability to worship the ultimate Creator through their abilities.

Fiction and philosophical works generally pique my interest before any others. However, recently, I have had an appetite for biblical fiction. From what I have seen, authors take an idea, incident or character and expand it by embellishing the original Biblical story. Out of the handful of biblical fiction I have read so far, “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers is at the top of my list.

I have to be honest though – as I searched through Barnes and Noble for a worthy piece of work, I initially plucked “Redeeming Love” out of the heaping mass of pages based on its eye-catching cover. Yes, I did. I went against the age-old adage of “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

All I have to say is that I got lucky this time!

I had heard that “Redeeming Love” was a spin-off of  Hosea from the Old Testament. So before I cracked the cover of my beautifully designed book, I decided to do a short study on the storyline of the biblical book.

Hosea, the prophet, was ordered by God to marry a prostitute — a woman who would sell her body for earthly things out of selfishness and disobedience. He was to love her unconditionally, redeeming her through his righteousness. The story is a parable of how God (Hosea) unconditionally loved Israel (Gomer, prostitute), and how Israel consistently and deliberately disobeyed God. Finally, the story illustrates God’s attempts to redeem Israel through his steadfast love and discipline. What a beautiful picture already. While painted figuratively, it forms an image of God’s redeeming love in our brains.

The entire time I flipped the pages of Rivers’ book (all of about 27 hours), a box of tissues lay in my lap. Tears were shed and my nose was blown. Her ability to weave a story, which had a preexisting plot, in a way that I could relate to without highfalutin jargon was captivating. I could not put it down. The idea of taking historical events and characters to fill out a plotline with detail wasn’t a new concept to me, but I definitely thought openly embellishing Biblical characters was risky business. However, I truly did not feel any sort of awkward tension between the fictional book and the biblical account; if anything, I thought Rivers’ adaptation assisted in my understanding of the book of Hosea. I remember thinking after finishing the book, “Now, why isn’t there a fictional book for every biblical story? I would understand the Bible with such a new clarity!”

That is what makes “Redeeming Love” a gem of a story, though – the fact that biblical fiction isn’t as easy to find as mainstream fiction .Francine Rivers is just brilliant. Please go buy the book. Now.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/redeeming-love-francine-rivers/1100387990?ean=9781590525135

Now my introverted, self-reliant, opinionated, determined, strong-willed and creative self is on the hunt for a new biblical fiction.

Where can I place an order for a great book, mug of richly aromatic coffee and foggy, frigid outdoor conditions? Put me down for approximately 150 days worth.

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