Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Different Thanksgiving

Recently, my family’s holidays have been slightly different than the years past.

My father passed away four months ago and my mother four years ago. Therefore, the holidays are more or less what my siblings and I decide to make of them. At the highest rung of the totem pole as the oldest is my brother with his wife and their three young boys, who are closer in age to me than I am to my brother. Then there is the middle child, my sister and her husband. On the lowest rung as the youngest is me.

With the melding of family traditions and go-with-the-flow mentality, the past four years of holidays have been interesting and ever changing.

This past week’s Thanksgiving break was spent at a quaint, homey, beachfront cottage in Santa Cruz, over an hour south of San Francisco. It was the first time all of us “kids” vacationed together due to the uniqueness of our lives and schedules. Having been the vacation spot for various summer outings before, the familiarity was comforting. We were swarmed with memories from our childhoods with our parents. We also were anticipating the plethora of new memories to be created during week together, as well.

In an attempt to cope with the recent death of our father, we had decided Thanksgiving was going to be different than any other we had ever experienced before. Instead of our traditional turkey, mashed potatoes and football game playing in the background, we enjoyed chow mein, orange chicken, fortune cookies and bike rides along the winding cliffs of the bay.

The week was not only a time of mental and physical relaxation, but also a time of learning. I never lived with my brother, and my sister has been out of my home for five years now, leaving each of us living in different cities. New facets of my siblings’ characters were revealed to me through observation and everyday actions. Because our family has endured trauma, illness and death, experiencing life and light-hearted fun together was a blessing that has not been frequently and readily available. The hours of laughs, silence, freedom and togetherness benefited each of us in ways that we might not be able to recognize amongst ourselves. However, we most definitely feel it in the depths of our hearts.

A week plucked from our schedules specifically to be in the company of our siblings in a familiar place under a new context was a soothing way to celebrate the holiday. It was unique, special, uniting and perfectly timed. What a way to spend a week dedicated to thankfulness!

The Home-stretch

My favorite time of the year is here. Thanksgiving break is over and preparations for Christmas have begun. Trees on campus now have Christmas lights strung on them that light up our already beautiful campus. Some students have even festively decorated their campus residences.

There are only three weeks left in the semester, including finals week. It might take a little while to get back into the routine of school, but it is time to really buckle down and get work done. The next two weeks will be intense with lots of last-minute assignments. Finals can be stressful for some, but I think that finals, final presentations and final projects can be the most fun parts of a class sometimes. I enjoy participating in parting group study sessions that often lead to meeting new people and inside jokes. Those sessions and planning ahead are much less stressful and more efficient than cramming. I have made quite a few friends and turned some acquaintances into friends from having group study sessions.

The semester will be over after finals week, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. I know I will be glad when finals are done. In the meantime, study hard and finish well!

Please pray for health and thank God for something in your own life.

Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind

“And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 (English Standard Version)

Raise your hand if you have heard this before? Every single reader should be raising his or her hand. Next, you should feel silly for sitting at your computer with your hand in the air. No shame, we have all done silly things before.

This verse is a command I have heard repeatedly throughout my life. Generally, things repeated often can easily become dry and lose impact on daily life. On occasion, however, old news can leap out and reach you in a new way. I encountered this almost as soon as I returned to Riverside from Thanksgiving break.

I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend once again as we swapped thoughts about homework, God and life. At one point in our conversation, I found myself quoting the aforementioned passage with regards to maintaining godly conduct on a college campus. As I spoke, the words dripping from my tongue tasted odd. I paused mid-sentence and stared down at my mug as I pondered the sensation.

“… Um, Aubs?” inquired my friend, snapping me back to reality.

“Sorry. I just realized something,” I replied as I began to talk myself through the idea that was forming in my brain. “I mean, I’ve known that verse since I was like four, but I never actually thought about the implications of it…”

This launched a new topic for us. I am always amazed at how a fact can reach a person’s head, but not always ring clear in the heart. As my friend and I pulled this verse apart, new insights were revealed as our drinks turned cold.

The main thing we noticed was the detailed nature of the commandment. Rather than simply stating “Love God,” the verse lists many ways to love God. This thorough fact led us to examine what these ways to love Him are and how they affect every Christian.

The first portion of the verse is love the Lord with “all your heart.” I read this as an inclusion of our emotions: the happiness, regret, disappointment, elation and everything in between. This part strikes a chord with me, because I have encountered times where I do not understand my own feelings. They can change at the drop of a hat and are so easily swayed between extremes. So how is it that we can love God with everything, good, bad and ugly in our heart? Maybe through a recognition that although our feelings change, God never will. Whatever mood we are in, God loves us anyway. We can turn this realization into praise.

Next is love the Lord with “all your soul.” When I think of the soul, I think of the deepest, most basic and defining aspect of our being. This is everything that we are — our hopes, dreams and all that makes us ourselves. The soul is our most private and vulnerable place from which to give and receive love. The fact that God created us with a soul is a marvel in itself, and He demands that we love Him with all of it. I read this as handing our ambitions to Him in order to serve Him with all that He gave us. We use our talents to give Him the honor rather than ourselves. Loving God with all your soul also requires a level of intimacy. It means letting Him into every corner of your being and allowing Him to shape you, whether it is comfortable or not.

Loving God with “all your strength” immediately causes me to think of physical health as well as endurance in showing affection. He gave us bodies to maintain so that we can use them as a means to advance His kingdom. I believe a part of loving Him with our strength includes physical health. Believe me, this is hard for everyone at times, especially when eating in the CBU cafeteria. That place has EVERYTHING you could ever hope to eat, including waffle machines. It is dangerous. While we can enjoy food, we should remember to honor our health and use it to serve our Creator and show persistent dedication to that cause.

And now for the last, and currently most convicting part of the verse. We are asked to love God “with all our mind.” We have all been given brains, and we should use them. I have been given an amazing opportunity to come to college and use my academic abilities to sharpen my skills and gain insight on how to use them. In order to love my God with my entire mind, I should keep Him at the center of my focus. I should learn all that I can while in school so that I can serve proficiently in a later career. If God gave me the ability to think and to learn, I should not waste it. This conviction should cause me and other students to pay more attention to assignments and strive to perform our best in each class.

Scripture is vastly important, and can affect us in various ways throughout life. Even though I knew this commandment for so long, it took years before I thought to analyze it over coffee and practice it in more precise ways.

I really hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. For all the students out there encountering the fast-approaching end of another semester, keep your hopes up! It’ll be over soon, and this is just another opportunity to love our God in a new way.

Safe sailing, everybody.

The Little Things

It’s the little things in life.

This past Friday I went Black Friday shopping like all the other Americans.  I went purely for the adventure, not because I am a fanatic bargain shopper. However, being among all the other people fighting for good prices and elbowing their way around stores caused me to realize how much importance we place on money and material things.

It makes me appreciate all the things in life that don’t cost money (or require harm to other human beings).

First of all, being a college student means I don’t have a lot of money to spend.  However, that means I get to use my creative mind and youthful energy to come up with things to do. Throughout my (almost) four years at CBU I have found many things that cost little or no money and have provided me with entertainment and fulfillment.

Here are some ways to have fun without breaking the bank:

  • Look for special deals in your area.  My boyfriend and I found a deal for free movie tickets on the back of cereal boxes.  We were able to go on a fun date for cheap!  Campus Activities at CBU also sells movie and Disneyland tickets for reduced prices. You can rent sports and recreation equipment at the campus Game Room for a low price, as well.
  • Take advantage of the events at CBU. It seems like there is always an event going on at CBU, and if you pay attention to the advertisements around campus you can hop from event to event. Sometimes you can even get a full meal and save your meal credits by going to events. Not to mention they are fun and classy.
  • Pull together some campus-wide games with friends. My freshman year some friends and I would play Sardines or Hide and Seek all over campus. Also, board games may seem a bit childish, but I always loved having crazy game nights with my friends.
  • Go for a walk around Riverside. There are some interesting things around Riverside that you can check out for free. The Christmas Lights at Mission Hall are beautiful this time of year.  There is an art museum in downtown Riverside as well. I personally like to hike Mt. Rubidoux at night to get a good view of the stars. There is a cool place to visit right here on Magnolia Avenue, too — the Heritage House, a Victorian Era house that has been preserved and restored. It is very beautiful on the inside and the tours are very educational.

I always feel more satisfied having fun when I do not have to feel guilty afterwards for spending a ton of money. Plus, you can save your money for Starbucks and 5-hour energy shots, which you most likely will need for the upcoming finals week!

Best wishes to all on their finals, and I hope you all are able to stay free from stress and find some fun in the midst of finals.  Enjoy the simple things in life.

 

 

 

 

Compassion

I like to think of myself as compassionate, as someone who understands others’ heartache and trials and can share in the joy when their cup runneth over.

I had never experienced compassion in my area of study though, until this week.

I want to be a teacher. Since 7th grade, I have known I would one day share music with kids, adults, teenagers – basically whoever would let me wave my hands around in front of them and make music. I have been blessed to study my passion and hone my God-given gifts at a school with overwhelmingly brilliant professors and musicians. I have also been blessed this year with tutoring students who need help as they build piano skills or their knowledge of music theory.

After a week on the job as a tutor, all my weaknesses have been pinpointed as I tutor these hardworking music students. My patience has been tried, and my speech effectiveness has been pushed to its limit. The ability to explain a concept several different yet effective ways has been stretched, and I have experienced true compassion for these musicians for perhaps the first time in my life.

In college, we have the opportunity to gain knowledge about our passions. What happens when we hit a road block in that passion that makes us truly uncertain about our choices, our abilities and our prior experience? We either take necessary actions to fight through it or we get out before we truly fail.

Today I worked with a fighter—a brave girl who struggled to stay afloat in the accelerated class setting because of her lack of experience. My heart hurt as tears rolled down her cheeks in vexation. The humility she shared with me, a complete stranger, displayed the fight she needed to succeed, and I knew that I would do everything I could to help in her journey. I discovered a respect for all the students who battle for knowledge of their art. I was inspired to fight alongside them, offering my time and experience so they will not feel alone.

What an inspiring and convicting time it was, and a testament to how powerful compassion can be when channeled through teaching. It was a solid confirmation of my passion for helping those who truly need someone to fight by their side.

As long as I have the opportunity to teach and guide students toward achieving their dreams, I will do whatever I can to make that battle more manageable. After all, our dreams are what make each of us unique.

Thanksgiving: A Time to Give Thanks and Eat Too Much

It’s that time of the year again. You know what I mean, time for food, family reunions and a lot of words of affirmation. Yes, friends, Thanksgiving time is here!

Being huge into words of affirmation myself, I have been giving and receiving a lot of encouragement over the past week. On my way to class, I have done that thing that only annoying kids do where they see a friend off in the distance and promptly scream their name and run to catch up with them to let them know how important they are. In a less extreme and annoying way, I have made an effort to make each and every conversation intentional. Over lunch with a group, I have taken the time to ask each person what they are looking forward to over the break and how I can be praying for them. The amazing conversations that this has led to has stood as a challenge for me to love people in this way every day, and not just during the holidays. After all, Christ calls us to love others in this way.

Being so close to Thanksgiving, I have practiced my usual tradition of listing all the things I have to be thankful for. While I try to do this on a regular basis, I take the time around Thanksgiving to do this more in depth and sincerely thank God for all that I have. Here is what I have so far:

I am thankful for the life I have at CBU. Being so far from home has brought about its difficulties, but it has also given me so many opportunities to reestablish myself and grow further into the person God wants me to be. I have been able to learn so much in the subject I am passionate about and become better prepared to pursue a career where I can serve best. I have also developed some of the most influential friendships of my life and been able to enjoy a supportive and Christ-centered community.

I’m also thankful for the fact that I am returning to an amazing home. Not to brag or anything, but my family is awesome and my small town is charming. I am so proud of my background and grateful for that part of my life.

I’m so thankful for my ability to think, feel deeply, and have a relationship with the Creator of all things. This, above all, is the most defining aspect of my being and is what inspires me to love and serve others each day. For that, I am most definitely grateful.

The Beginning of Wisdom

One of the things that really stand out about CBU is the number of amazing professors who teach here.

I have had several good professors over the years, but one of my favorite professors here at CBU is Dr. Nathan Lewis, director of the graduate program in counseling ministry.  He is one of the professors who created my major, Christian behavioral science, and because of that I have had him for most of my major’s classes.  Many of his teachings have revolutionized my understanding of Christianity, and his humble attitude has inspired me for a lifetime.

One of the classes that I took with Dr. Lewis was Biblical Wisdom & Human Behavior, which I would recommend for all believers attending CBU.  This purpose of the class to is to help Christians learn what godly wisdom is, how to get it, and what is not wisdom.  One of the statements he made that was really relevant was that while we college students are in our 20s, we should work on killing our pride and finding wisdom, and if we do this, we will have much more success in life.  This is crucial because humility is a crucial part of Christian living.

In my experience with some Christians and some churches, wisdom and humility is not taught overall.  The main point of Christianity is the benefit of salvation.  However, if that is the only aspect of Christianity that we encourage, then our Christianity is incomplete.  Dr. Lewis taught that making Jesus Lord and fearing God is only the beginning of wisdom, as it says in Proverbs.  There should not be such a thing as an unwise Christian, which is why it says in Ephesians 5:15 to “Be careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise.”

While this may seem normal and redundant for Christians who have been Christians “all their lives”, it was revolutionary for me when I realized the depth of this and the practicality of it in daily life.  One of the examples Dr. Lewis gave was the use of “Lord willing” in our daily language.  The Bible says that it is prideful to say that we are going to do this thing or another thing, and be confident that we are going to make it happen.  It is prideful because God is the one who sustains us and determines our path, and so we should say, “I am going to do this, Lord willing.”  Not only does saying it sound less prideful, but saying it also changes our attitude.  I have noticed that the more I say it, the more I realize how much God holds my life in His hands and that my life is not my own.

Dr. Lewis helped me to realize how important it is to be aware of how we say things, because sometimes the words we say shape our attitudes.  I have said, “I have done the righteous thing in regards to this situation”, but in reality, it is prideful to say that.  Once I was taught to say, “I desire to do the right thing in regards to this situation”, it changed my attitude from “I am right” to “I want to do what’s right”.

I am still learning about wisdom and how to practically apply it in my life, but I am greatly indebted to professors like Dr. Lewis who have changed my life through their service at CBU.

Class Registration

I get to register for classes in a few days. Looking at my degree guide and planning out my schedule can be overwhelming, especially since I am undeclared. There are so many classes that are offered here and it would be nice to learn a little more about random subjects I have heard about, but they may take me off track from graduating in four years. I could go to summer school so that I can graduate in time, but I would like to travel, see my family, or go on an International Service Project/United States Service Project/Summer Of Service during the summer breaks I have left. I still have several general education classes to take. It would be good to get them out of the way now so that I do not end up taking electives that I do not need to graduate. However, some people say that it is good to spread general education courses out over your college career so that you have at least one easier class. I think that being well rounded is important. I didn’t take any music or art classes in high school, so I am glad that I am required to take an art or music class. I am on the fence on which class I will take. One of my friends encouraged me to join University Choir and Orchestra, but my roommate is taking an art class now that seems interesting. I would like to learn about and get better at both music and art. There are several other classes that are required, but I don’t want to bore you with that.

I know that I want to go on an ISP next summer, but I don’t know where I’ll end up. I’m excited for the ISP training to start and meeting my team members.

 

Please pray for the Office of Mobilization as they put together and place ISP, USP, and SOS teams.

 

International Celebration Week

This week is International Celebration Week at California Baptist University! It is so nice to see flags from different countries hanging outside of the Yeager Center. I think that it adds to the atmosphere. There are events every school night this week that will celebrate the cultures of international students at California Baptist University. The events seem like they will be a fun way to learn about other cultures. I wish that I could go to all of the events planned!

This year each of the events celebrate a different part of the world. On Monday a taco dinner and some games celebrated night Latin American culture. Tuesday night was the African celebration night. I wanted to go to this event but missed out. Some dances were taught and there was a showing of Invisible Children later in the evening. Wan’ An (which means good evening in Mandarin Chinese) Night will be a night of enjoying each other’s fellowship around karaoke, which is a popular recreational activity in Taiwan and China. I’ve had fun watching and listening to people singing karaoke. Lantern decorating will also be an activity available at the event. The Wan’ An event will take place at Brisco’s lawn. Thursday night will be Namaste India night. I did not know that California Baptist University had students from India attending until this year. I have never seen henna done, and I have heard that henna is really cool. The Namaste India event will also feature Bollywood and chai.

I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities to learn about other cultures this week through the events that the International Center is hosting. I know that they are working hard with students to make this week a memorable week. Provider is also catering some delicious food for the events.

 

Please pray for the leaders of the United States—whether they are federal, state, or local leaders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homecoming Hoopla

Cotton Candy. Cool Art. Bounce houses. Fireworks. Live music.

Nothing beats Homecoming Weekend at CBU. It seems like every year the festivities get more and more extreme.

It all kicked off with the Switchfoot concert on Thursday night for me.  I LOVE Switchfoot. They are definitely in my top five favorite bands of all time, and so I was pretty stoked that they were coming to CBU for a free concert. So when it came time to get tickets for the event, I was willing to make the sacrifice to get up early to make sure I snagged one. I woke up at 4:30 a.m., bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to jump into line with all the other Switchfoot enthusiasts to get our tickets. To my surprise, there were at least 150 other people in line before me when I got there at 5 a.m. The ground was covered with sleeping bags and a couple of tents from people who had camped out in front of the Campus Life office. Apparently I was not the biggest Switchfoot fan there at CBU that day. However, I got my ticket after a couple hours.  SUCCESS!

The Switchfoot concert itself was so fantastic. I got a spot decently close to the front, but not too close, so enthusiastic college students would not squish me. People were crowd surfing throughout the concert, and Jon Foreman himself even jumped into the crowd and was about two feet away from me. Amazing. I was like a high-school fan girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Okay, maybe not that bad. But I was excited. The rest of CBU was excited and screaming, too; I lost my hearing in my right ear by the end of the night. It was definitely worth it, though.

The next event I attended was the Family Fun Weekend event on Saturday. My boyfriend was performing with some friends, playing live music for the Art Walk in the hall between the two Yeager building sections. The Art Walk was really neat; it included art from CBU alumni and also jewelry and art from people from other countries.  There were non-profit ministries who were selling their art or small items to support their organization.

My favorite was a booth that sold t-shirts. The t-shirts had pictures on them representing a narrative from the gospels, and if you flipped the shirts up, the inside of the shirt had the Bible reference and the verse in a different language. The creator came up with the idea because in countries that don’t allow Christianity, they can wear the t-shirts that tell Bible stories without getting in trouble. They can wear the shirt so it shows the Bible verse, but if the police come around, they can flip the shirt down so it does not show the Bible verse anymore. It’s a great way to share our faith in hostile countries.

And then there was the free stuff. If there’s one thing that CBU does really well, it is the vast amount of free things they give away. Free entertainment, free cotton candy, free candy, free t-shirts, free fireworks show, and more.  And I, a CBU student  through and through, heartily enjoy these free things.

I really look forward to Homecoming next year.  It’s crazy to think that my next Homecoming experience will be as an alumni.  Wow!

 

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