Monthly Archives: March 2013

Life is A-Plenty

This campus is full of life. As I’m sitting in Brisco’s having lunch, conversations are bubbling and overflowing with excitement, baseball games ever-present on TVs, and skateboarders are whizzing past to get to their next destination. The itch for activities is alive.

It seems like everywhere I turn, there is something exciting going on that moment, that afternoon, that evening to quench our thirsts for fun and enjoyment. Yesterday, a Quidditch Tournament (complete with broom [handles], Quaffles, Bludgers, and an agile teammate decked out in gold to be caught as the Snitch) filled the entire front lawn with laughter and intensity as the four Houses battled for the Cup. Crazy? Absolutely. Fun? Without question. On Monday, a Colony-wide Easter Egg-hunting mob scoured the entire living area in search of heavily-laden eggs for a total of $1000+ in gift cards and even an iPad Mini. People made out like bandits. This last weekend, the Marine Science class headed to Catalina Island for a beautiful, one-time lab, resulting in kayaking with sea lions, snorkeling in swarms of fish and sealife, and impromptu whale-watching on the ship ride back.

The opportunities prove to be endless as the CAB office offers a plethora of discounted ticket options for LA stage productions, local movie theaters, lifts at ski and snowboarding facilities, and an incredible amount of equipment for nature activities like snowboarding, mountain climbing, and camping – all at extremely affordable prices. Our beloved RAs, one of whom is my roommate and best friend, devote endless hours of preparation for their monthly events and living area-wide functions to provide an oasis, usually laden with delicious food and drinks. From flower-planting, to bagel breakfasts, to acoustic worship nights, to carnival-themed parties, to late-night pizzas and pazookies, our RAs use their creativeness and gifts to make our student life brighter, full of community and fellowship.

I can’t forget about the incredible, state-of-the-art Recreation Center, basketball and volleyball courts and intramural sports that also provide a myriad of opportunities for competitive sports and exercise, as well as our athletic teams that enjoy our support as much as we enjoy their talent! Where would our school spirit be without our award-winning, nationally renowned athletic department? What a way to represent our Lancer blue and gold!

Personally, my favorite school-sponsored events are the LA-area musical productions (naturally). This next week, a group of 25 lucky students are being transported to the Pacific Symphony in Orange County to hear Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (dun dun dun duuuuun, dun dun dun duuuuun!) as well as a special compilation of Asian-inspired music with authentic Asian instruments. Earlier in the year, the School of Music sponsored a trip to the LA Opera to partake in the unforgettable Madame Butterfly. Today, for my Music History class, we met at Calvary Presbyterian Church on Magnolia Avenue to observe one of our own professors demonstrate the organ in the style we are studying. Just in my field alone, there are numerous opportunities to see live, professional performances, keeping my learning fresh with observations and practices of life applications.

CBU offers an overflowing number of student activities. Find one and sign up for a guaranteed time of enjoyment and refreshment!

Easter Observance

I’ll be honest in saying that Easter caught me by surprise this year as I’ve been enjoying this ongoing thrill ride of life. I feel like a giant Easter Bunny has stalked me from behind and then leaped out suddenly, throwing peeps and chocolate eggs at me while enjoying the surprised (and disturbed) look on my unsuspecting countenance.

I’m sure I can’t be the only one who feels this way. After all, Easter seems to unfortunately fall by the wayside in comparison to the societal hype surrounding Christmas. While Easter observance is a yearly celebration of the resurrection of Christ, it surprises me that many, me included, seem less excited about it than we should be. While the Resurrection is something to be excited about year-round as we let the power of God shape our lives, I think it’s valid to meditate deeply on this subject during the upcoming holiday. Let’s try our best to forget about whatever else we have going on, and focus in on what Christ did on this day years ago.

I received some wonderful encouragement to do this during a moment I didn’t expect. I had just entered one of my literature classes on a dreaded test day. The tension in the room was tangible as I took my usual seat and pulled out my notes to do some last-minute reviews of authors and terms. My professor soon gathered the exams at her podium and asked us all how we were doing with an amiable look on her face.

Insert chirping crickets here. We all were, of course, feeling the pressure of our exam, and I assume many of us were also sleep deprived and overly occupied in thinking about the assignments we had yet to complete after the exam we were currently taking.

Sensing this tension, my professor told us how the test would work and then asked to pray over us. The class, of course, nodded and settled into the usual, habitual “prayer pose.” Our professor proceeded to converse with the Lord, and her prayer was so resounding that it helped to set the tone for my entire week. The prayer went something like this:

“Almighty God, I know that these students work hard and that they want to do well on this exam. While I ask that they do well, according to what they’ve learned, I ask more so that You would remind them of how insignificant this little test is in comparison to who You are and what You’ve done for us. As we prepare ourselves for the upcoming Easter celebration, I ask that you would astound us and remind us of Your greatness and how much more important You are than anything else we could ever concern ourselves with. Guide us and bring us closer to You, Father. In Christ’s name, amen.”

Talk about unexpected conviction! After taking the exam, I could not thank God enough for CBU and for the professors who offer this type of encouragement in the classroom. Not only are students offered the ability to learn from the best and the brightest, but we are fully encouraged to keep our focus on what matters most in life, and that is the glory of God.

This prayer was exactly what I needed to wake myself up and be reminded of how I can become so focused on miniscule things and lose focus. As we enter into Easter observance, let me encourage you to remember what God has done for us. He has shown His redemptive work throughout history and continues to move in powerful ways. He is the very definition of love and goodness, and apart from Him we have no thing of beauty. In the act of sending His son to die and be raised from the dead for us, He shows us the ultimate act of love, which enables us to come to know Him and worship Him in all that we do.

While it is easy to lose enthusiasm for the things that matter when we are bogged down with distractions, God will always manage to break through our barriers and bring us back to Him. I thank Him for that as I continue to prepare to give Him all I’ve got in worship this Easter, and in all the days after that. I hope that we all have an exceptionally blessed holiday, and that we keep our focus where it counts. Happy Easter!

Gifts

In a previous blog, Don’t Worry About Tomorrow, I was learning what it meant to trust God for this day rather than fret over the days to come. The snowball effect of school is in full swing now, and sometimes the moments of today are so bloated with responsibilities that tomorrow is nowhere in sight. I ask myself, “How am I going to get from point A to point B to eventually point Q today?

 My best friend recommended a book to me because she knows my overwhelmed heart better than myself. Because of this book, I have a list going — a list of 1000 things I consider to be a gift to my life from the most ordinary, everyday things such as waking up to a choir of birds singing outside the window to significant blessings that deserve a myriad of thankful prayers such as a job surrounded by Godly people for the summer.

As I read this book, 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, understanding the principles she was establishing as God-glorifying a single, continuous strand of blessings began to spool out of my mind. I had never actually sat and numbered by hand the daily gifts God lavishes upon me. As a kinesthetic learner, the handwriting concept ensures to inscribe whatever I am trying to memorize or remember into my brain to recall when the test comes.

The test does come – oh yes. Life as a student is full of tests — we are in college! Every day I am quizzed on composers, baroque vs. classical, vocabulary, musical sight-reading, and literature. My heart as well as my mind is tested, as well. Am I going to be ridiculed for that composition? Piano lessons drain the life out of me. Is this career path successful enough?

The temptation to drink the poison of distress is prominent as we college students fly solo in a fallen world of sin and brokenness; our minds and hearts at times are susceptible to relinquishing our Biblical truths.

However, God provides in every moment, even when discouragement veils our beauty-craving eyes. The secret to experiencing the provision of the Lord (which really is no secret at all) is to open those beauty-craving eyes to behold the majesty and pure beauty of our God.

Fully living life each moment of today is a goal I am striving to obtain, even as many moments are heavy with responsibility as I attempt to pick up and bear my own cross. Ultimately, that is what we are called to do. Finding the joy in thankfulness for each moment as we stand in awe of his sovereignty drops us to our knees in worship.

 The key to living life fully is finding joy in the smallest moments of the days and seasons that are so full of assignments, obligations and deadlines that you can not remember if you put your head on straight this morning.

CBU – get your hands on this book, buy a journal and start to find the moments of your overwhelming schedule full of joy as you observe the endless beauty of our Creator and continually worship the I Am.

Becoming Me

It is amazing to see how fast and how differently people change in college.

I can see a lot of it in myself, looking back at little ol’ freshman me four years ago.  When I first showed up for orientation in September 2009, I had no idea what was in store for me.  I was merely a bright-eyed face who had the whole world before her, with no expectations, only excitement! CBU quickly threw me and all the other enraptured freshman into so many events I never had time to think.

First it was Bunko with all the hundreds of new freshmen and FOCUS leaders, including lots of yelling and excited shouting.  It was like an intense game of Bingo, but with more jumping around.  Then it was Clash ‘N’ Bowl, which opened up a whole new world of learning how to NOT match clothing.  After that, off we went to the Freshman Retreat at Forest Home.  Mud football, zip lines, and awesome worship were only the beginning.  It was the perfect way to begin the journey of college education.

You would think that college would not necessarily always be fun, but it actually is at CBU.  While academia is the main reason people attend CBU, one of the other common reasons I have heard people mention is the great sense of community and fun that is present here on campus.  Every element of CBU is filled with fun and enjoyment, even eating at the cafeteria.  Sometimes at the cafeteria there are days where themed days are held.  You might experience Fiesta Day at the caf or perhaps a youthful theme of Dr. Seuss.

This element of fun on campus has caused me to incorporate more of it into my daily life.  When I first got to CBU, I was very strict about my bedtime.  Call me a grandma, but I would be in bed by 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. at the latest.  Yes, I did have a social life, but it was always greatly inhibited by the declared curfew that I made for myself.  Increasingly over the last few years, I have decided that in order to have a well-rounded life, it is important to let loose sometimes and not always be hardnosed about certain areas of your life.  Now I allow myself to stay up later for late night excursions to Huntington Beach or dinner and homework sessions at Norm’s Diner, and it made me enjoy life at CBU so much more.

Also, college has caused me to be more independent.  When I first got to college, I was nervous even to walk to class alone.  I always walked to class with friends when I could, but those times when I had to go alone I always felt so alone.  I had always gone to school with my siblings, so going to school alone was never really an option.  Now that I am a senior, I confidently strut to class with the swagger of someone who owns the campus.  I feel like a real adult, ready to take on the world.

Round Two

This summer will be a busy one thanks to California Baptist University. CBU is always having a career fair here on campus. This week it hosted one March 20 for business and communication studies majors. I am done with classes fairly early on Wednesdays so I went check it out.

There were many employers looking for new hires and interns. Even the FBI had a representative present. I picked up a lot of great information that will help me in the future. The fair even helped me line up a possible internship for this summer.

I suggest going to at least one career fair before leaving CBU. I see the fairs as another way CBU gives back the students.  It only takes about an hour out of the day, and it is well worth it.

I also will be taking summer classes here at CBU, which will keep me on track to graduate on time and a step ahead of the game. Registration for the two summer sessions will begin soon so if you have not already, you should sign up before classes are full. It looks like I will have an eventful summer here at CBU. Have a great week and don’t forget to “Live your Purpose.”

Spring Break!

This past week I traveled home for spring break — about 45 minutes from Fresno, Calif. in a small town named Lemoore.  The population of Lemoore is about 45,000 people with cows still outnumbering humans.  The bovine smell and perhaps the naval air station there are the only things people might know about Lemoore. However, despite the lack of things to do, home is home, and home is a pleasant place to be.

I was happier than a bird with a French fry to be home for break. I got to sleep in as long as I wanted to, eat lots of (free) food, play Mario Kart with my sister and boyfriend and had plenty of free time to work on homework.  It was great to see family and friends while living a carefree life for a few days.

However, when I am home, I always have one problem —  I tend to get out of my routine of reading my Bible and spending time with God.

When I forget to read my Bible and talk to God I feel a little guilty.  It is hard to juggle a busy, college schedule and focus on God as the center of the mix.  Striving for personal holiness in the midst of a hectic life as a college student is a problem that sometimes Christians will not admit to.  No one wants to admit that they are not as holy as they seem.

Sometimes my boyfriend and I will joke around about who is holier, saying “I am holier because I memorized a verse today.” We will laughingly counter each other by saying we memorized the whole chapter or the whole book. While our joking is all in fun, sometimes the holiness competition is a Christian’s main game.

I have experienced people who have to be the person speaking up in Sunday school by bringing up their deepest theological thoughts on every topic.  There are Christians who set their Bibles on the table when people come over so their Christian friends will notice.  There is even a phenomenon in the Christian community called “Jesus Juking,” a holier-than-thou Christian suddenly throwing a comment about Jesus into a conversation to make themselves sound holier.  Sometimes I struggle not to put a Christian public relations spin on my life instead just simply living for God.

The reality is, we all struggle to be like Christ the way we ought to be.  We can admit to this struggle and aid each other by being accountable to one another for it.  I continue to strive for personal holiness in God’s spirit while understanding my own and others’ failures to completely match up to the mark.

Flights and Purpose

After my recent trip home for spring break, I was reminded of several things. First, I was once again prompted to discover the fact that airports are very interesting places. People either love or hate air travel considering the rush involved and the many elements keeping you on your toes.

I love flying, and my airport escapades tend to remind me that God is astounding. A happenstance conversation during my spring break flight reminded me that college is a useful time in life that allows us to worship the Lord.

As I said before, I love air travel and everything about it. I love getting through security and settling down to practice my people watching skills at the gate. I adore the feeling of being able to skim through books while soaking in the thrill of travel. I also love boarding the plane, interacting with friendly flight attendants and hoping to score a window seat.

This time, I did have the pleasure of boarding early enough to sit by a window. This seat not only allows for the optimal views, but also ensures that you will not be stuck in the dreaded “middle zone.” You know what I mean: the middle seat that is, in any form of transportation, never a coveted spot. There is a tendency to feel claustrophobic, and this awkwardness only rises on crowded planes when you are stuck between two perfect strangers.

On this particular flight, I discovered a bright side to the middle zone — meeting a brave individual who was exceptionally friendly and talkative. We ended up having a marvelous conversation that lasted the entire length of the flight. Who does not enjoy that in a row companion?

My middle seat friend was a high school senior who had just finished a weeklong stay at a Christian university near California Baptist University and was trying to decide which school to visit next. I jumped at the opportunity to emphatically recommend CBU, and successfully sparked her interest. In our conversation, I was able to answer any questions she posed about college, leading to a wonderful discussion about living college life and clarifying the purpose of going to school in the first place.

Every decision we as Christians make is affected by our decision to serve God and accomplish his will for our lives. My middle seat friend is currently in the throngs of nearing the end of high school and deciding where to go next. She maintained a tangible desire to serve God and was trying to decide how best to use her intelligence to glorify him after high school.

It is my firm belief that attending a university is a wonderful way to worship the Lord. Going to school, especially a biblically rooted school such as CBU, allows students to sharpen their skills and become well equipped to serve our creator using the gifts He gave to us. Utilizing these gifts is a very worshipful act and allows us to boldly take our faith into the world to change it for the glory of God.

College is a unique time in life that allows young men and women to explore their skill sets and discover more about what God has in store. Sharpening the skills we were created with at a university should be done with the intention of using them to serve the creator all our years after we complete our education. It is a privilege to be allowed to serve God with all that we have and all we accomplish, and it leads into a wonderful adventure in pursuit of our redeemer’s honor.

Diamonds

I’ve got diamonds on the brain. Large, distinctly recognizable diamonds. And I’m not talking about “ring by spring.”

Living in the Colony, I hear those unmistakable pings almost every day during this time of the year. At night, the corner of our campus is brighter than the moon with the field lights, and the joyous sounds of adrenaline-pumped parents, friends, and bystanders hovers like a cloud over the stadium. When the breeze gently sweeps through campus and the sun sheds its inviting warmth onto the days of this early spring, my thoughts travel back to the many years I dedicated to my favorite pastime. Nostalgia takes over.

The unmistakable crunch under cleats. Turning a double-play.   The ping of the ball off the bat. The dirt caked in socks and on shoes. The piercing whistle of my father. Tender, never-healing wounds on knees. A perfect pocket in a broken-in glove. 23.

I grew up playing softball my entire life. From age 4 to 16 I was on the field nearly every day of Spring and many weekends of Summer, cheeks full of sunflower seeds and imagination chock full of play scenarios. My father taught me from a young age through demonstration, specific baseball games, and books the science and practice of softball. Game to game, I learned what it meant to “turn two,” “cheat up,” conquer a “pickle,” and mingled tears of joy in the winning run with those of disappointment in a dropped fly. I would become completely engrossed in the plays and innings alongside my teammates and we constantly shared encouraging words with each other as we played together. I worked my hardest to become great at my passion, with many hours of catch and drills in my backyard with my parents to continually improve in the off-seasons.

After years of preparing for what I thought was the “big leagues,” my dad encouraged me to consider thinking about playing on the varsity team as a freshman. Knowing the girls and the reputation of the team, I was terrified. Try-outs came, and us young girls played alongside the upper classmen to size up our varying skill levels, with only one spot on the roster open for Varsity that year. After a rigorous and stressful try-out session, the coaches created their line-up, including me – the one-and-only lowly freshman. I gained more knowledge and experience the years I played on the varsity team than all my previous years combined, learning new techniques, positions, strategies, and problem-solving. Through the devastating struggles and glorious triumphs, my heart and passion grew enormously for the game and all that it stood for.

There is literally nothing like walking out shoulder to shoulder with your teammates into the diamond with the hum of adrenaline buzzing through the air, determined and prepared to seize the game together in a victorious win. As the time approached to choose what career path I wanted to pursue, between music or sports, my heart tethered back and forth. Ultimately though, I knew my best option was to pursue music, the other half of my heart. Putting away the glove and cleats meant I was closing a chapter of my life that I would not be able to temporarily close and pick up right where I left off. The approval of my father helped me realize that even though my “glory days” as he called them were over, what an incredible experience of determination, passion, intensely hard work, and learned skill I had earned to add to my knowledge as well as a plethora of lifelong memories to recollect when the breeze carried the scent of grass and sun shone just right.

On occasion, I revive my glove with the familiar pop of the ball into the pocket as I contemplate what it would be like to walk on to CBU’s softball field to try out. But, as my dad used to say, the “glory days” are over, but my heart will forever remember and love the years I dedicated to the diamond of my youth.

 

A Penny for My Thoughts

It’s refund check time! Let’s not get carried away with buying Chuck Norris t-shirts or that new iPad. Many of us see dollar signs whenever money is mentioned and not the true task at hand.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t splurge every once and a while on ourselves, but we need to see the bigger picture. Luxuries aren’t what we should strive for. We as Christians should serve God and spread his word. For us students, that means sticking to the business of being students learning to live our purpose.

Hebrews 11: 13-16 says “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” I love this passage simply because it shows the strong faith of followers. They were not worried about worldly items or amenities. These people knew what God had promised them, and they could care less about what they had here on earth. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and we should do the same for Him.

Looking like a million bucks isn’t everything, guys. I’ll settle for looking like a grand and smelling like a dime, if that makes sense. So before we head to the mall, we might want to look at our priorities. My own prayer is that I can keep my goals in mind and not be sidetracked by distractions so that I can truly live the way that God wants me to live. I challenge everyone to spend wisely and look toward our higher calling.

A Little Relief

Intramural sports are just one of the ways to release built-up tension from the hustle and bustle of the semester. Basketball, flag football, soccer, volleyball and more are available at CBU throughout the year. These sports are always competitive and fun.

My favorites happen to be basketball and flag football. Every sport at CBU starts off with group prayer, and then my competitive nature takes over. I can run up and down field or court all game long and battle my opponent until the final whistle. I think team sports build comradery and are a great way to stay in shape.

This is my first season of intramural basketball at CBU, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

Another way to relieve stress is by working out. If you haven’t already, you should make your way down to the new Recreation Center in Adams Plaza. It is a great facility with new equipment and plenty of room. The center has cardio machines, weights, a basketball court, racquet ball courts, and even indoor rock climbing. It also has personal trainers who give various workouts and classes throughout the week.

These are just two of the ways to relieve stress on campus, but I’m sure you have your own favorites. If you’re ever at the Rec Center working out, look for me. I’ll probably be the guy standing around running his mouth.

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