Monthly Archives: November 2013

Events Keep Me Going

Living area events are fun social events organized by Resident Assistants (RAs) for the enjoyment of their residents. I invested a good chunk of my freshman year staying up late with movie nights, late night Denny’s runs, dorm hall competitions, Lancer athletic games, and, of course, any hangout event complimented by a box of donuts. Only a couple guys in the hall knew each other at the beginning of the year, but by the end, any of us could walk into our RA’s room and laugh about the random [insert article of clothing/food container] that mysteriously appeared on the hall. I grew accustomed to that life style and even helped organize a few events myself. Coming into sophomore year I looked forward a similar experience. I’d forgotten, though, that apartment life is a little different.

I quickly realized that I was no longer living with 25 other fresh-out-of-high school guys. The Colony life style might be the complete opposite. I have only 3 roommates, a furnished apartment with kitchen and living room, and enough space to stretch out a bit. The convincing factor is the silence, though, since after-hours in the dorms meant all forms of hall mayhem accompanied with stomps and shouts from every direction. The change, however, was expected since being a year older means that everyone in the Colony is a calm, sensible adult, right? As much as I appreciated the lack of bodies slamming into my door late at night and the following “sorry about that man,” I missed the community aspect of dorm life. Luckily, I still have an RA so it was only a matter of time before that first event flyer would be pinned on my door.

Sadly enough, I didn’t anticipate my work schedule which prevented me from attending almost all of my RA’s events this semester. For a while I almost dreaded finding yet another flyer on my door that advertised a social hangout during my night shift. This week, however, I found a small paper on my door decorated with a gingerbread house and a date and time that I could actually attend. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting, but I’d waited all semester to hang out at an event with my RA and neighbors. The event was out on the grass where a row of tables with gingerbread house materials and a hot cinnamon-coffee-type drink waited to be built and consumed. The main attraction was the ginger bread house building competition, and I jumped in on that right away. I thought my engineering experience would translate well into the design of ornate desert houses, but I quickly learned how horrible I am with anything relating to frosting or good looking pastries. Either way, I enjoyed just having a fun time with my RA and neighbors, and completely butchering a Walmart gingerbread house kit.

“Dig Deep, and Embrace the Challenge”

Last week, enrollment for next semester’s classes opened up online for CBU’s freshmen. Excited to exercise our independence and choose our classes without a StepAhead instructor looking over our shoulder for the first time (no offense, StepAhead instructors!) we all got to work registering for classes at our own pace.

I personally began by trying to balance out my full schedule (eighteen units) with half General Ed requirements, and half Major requirements. Since I’m probably going to be paying Advising a visit pretty soon here to become a double major, as I’ve fallen so in love with photography, the pressures of “getting everything done” hit me for the first time. While the Graphic Design and Digital Media major has a few overlapping classes with the brand new Photography major, it will still add to my load significantly when I make that decision.

To some degree, these pressures are negative because they cause me to feel a little overwhelmed, and temporarily lose focus on the positive side of this: I don’t have to double major…. I get to double major!

I was told many, many times before coming to college things like “It’s okay to be undeclared,” or “The average college student changes their major six times before graduation!” I think that’s because in high school, we’re tied down to a boatload of requirements, and don’t have a significant amount of freedom to pursue a passion. When we are then thrown into college, we are bombarded with opportunities to pursue a passion, and can’t stop panicking long enough to genuinely study our viable options. For me, I knew coming to CBU that I wanted to major in something art-related, being the passionate artist that I’ve been since I could hold a crayon. However, I also wanted a major that would easily guarantee me a work position post-graduation. So, graphic design was an easy selection.

But then came photography. And visual arts. And all the random Christian studies, history, creative writing, foreign language, and film classes that I would take… if I had the time.

See, normally this “panic” mentioned above stems from the inability to choose something because of the fear that your choice won’t leave you feeling fulfilled in life.

“What did you major in?”

“Film Studies.”

“Wow, how neat! … Why don’t you sound more excited?”

“Because I realized my last semester that I should have been a nurse.”

But for me, that panic stems from the exact opposite problem. I’m an optimist who will probably learn to be passionate about almost anything I’m given to pursue. My ability to choose classes is handicapped because I know there are so many fields I would love, meaning I quite literally want to learn everything.

Except for math. Math majors, I salute you.

When I, of course, posted this dilemma on my Facebook this morning, I received a comment from someone who encouraged me to “dig deep, and embrace the challenge.”

As I continue to swap out classes, hoping to finally create the optimal combination, I’ll be attempting to do just that. God gave me an active mind that spins almost 24/7, rarely allowing me to shut it off even for a much needed nap. To accent this, CBU offers a plethora of incredible class choices. While I would love to almost take every single one of them, I recognize that my time here is limited, and that I need to appreciate every second of it.

So this week, “dig deep and embrace the challenge” that God has given us to pursue a means of reflecting His glory with our lives. What could possibly guarantee more fulfillment than that?

 

Events, Events, Events!

Sometimes I feel like all I do is plan and help with events. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job as a resident advisor, but I am ready for Thanksgiving break to be here so I can have a little break.

The last event the Colony put on was the 1st Annual Colony Harvest Festival on Tuesday night. It was a great night filled with food, games, and friends. For one meal swipe residents could get the CBU Bowl or Dirty Mac, kettle corn, and a variety of international foods. We were lucky to be able to partner with the International Center during their International Celebration Week. The International Center brought a variety of foods from different countries for the Colony residents to try.

Once residents had food they could sit on hay bales, eat, hang out, and play games. Some of the games we had included turkey bowling, potato sack races, three legged races, corn hole, target shooting, and more. One of the reasons we had all these games going was so we could have a living area competition within the Colony. If you didn’t know, the Colony consists of three areas; North, East, and West. So it’s only natural that we would want to see who could come out victorious.

Throughout the night, residents were encouraged to play games and earn points for their living area. There was one game that was played about every fifteen minutes, what we ended up calling “The Hunt.” The inspiration behind this game was from something known as the “greased pig,” where you grease a pig up and watch people try to catch the pig. We knew we would not be able to pull that off, therefore we came up with a modified version where we used some of our fabulous RA’s. Whoever was acting as the pig wore a bright pink shirt, a pig nose, pig ears, and a set of flag football flags attached to them. On the signal, residents would take off, find the pig, and pull the flag off.  During the first few rounds of this game the winner earned points for their living area, and during the last rounds the winner received a gift card.

At the end of the night the resident’s of west colony proved to be victorious by gaining the most points to win the living area competition.  The night was packed full of craziness and fun, and was definitely worth the hours of planning that it took.  Now on to planning the next event, but first, Thanksgiving break!

Being a Cause for Thankfulness

Friends, the time is upon us. Stores have been advertising pumpkin everything, classes are speeding up the pace in preparation for upcoming vacations, and I find myself constantly aware of an intense craving for turkey. It is time for us to pack up the books (and unwashed laundry) and head home once again for Thanksgiving Break!

This season always brings about an awareness of each blessing in life. While thankfulness is a practice that should be maintained throughout the year, this holiday serves as a reminder to reboot this mindset. While I have been allowing all of the blessings from this semester to marinate in my mind for a while, I am consistently struck by the thought that blessings are meant to be returned. While I have a mile-long list of things to be thankful for, I find that I have an equally bountiful amount of opportunities to bless others. So, rather than rant all about things to be thankful for, I’d rather take the common ideas and offer ways to return the blessings and bring the focus back to others.

First of all, I am always thankful for my family and for my little town in Northern California. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to go home for the week. While I adore my life here, I find myself missing my small town and the people there. I have been and am continually blessed by my family and close friends from Ukiah, and choose to focus on ways to bless them in return on my upcoming trip. I’ll make a point to make various coffee runs for those who still have to work, drop off cookies at my old office, and catch up on life with everyone I can. Being home with family is wonderful, and while rest is important, it’s also good to make a point to fill your days with simple acts that can make each person you encounter feel loved. This becomes especially important if, like me, you don’t make it home often. Continually invest in your relationships, and use each minute of this time off to ensure that your friends and family feel blessed by you.

Seeing that finals are rapidly approaching, despite the thrill of the upcoming week off, I’ve been constantly reminded of the blessing it is to be a student of the subjects I love. Studying literature and film is, quite honestly, my dream come true. Life is a never-ending book club where I get to talk and write about literature, while simultaneously watching astounding new movies and geeking out about why they are great. Not only do I greatly enjoy my area of study, I get to see the ways in which they are being used to further the Kingdom, and learn how I can play my part in that plan. A challenge to consider in the midst of all of this is to take a moment and put the education we’re receiving into perspective. Consider why you are in school, and what it is you hope to accomplish when you earn your degree. Remember that furthering your education is one way to act as a light in the world, as Christ called us to be, as we can use the knowledge and experience we gain to become more awestruck by the world and the God who made it. This makes me all the more excited to learn continuously, and to play my part in using the knowledge I gain to worship my God.

Readers, I hope that you will be especially blessed this week. As you enjoy the class-free time with those you love, be a cause for blessing to everyone you encounter. I’ll see you in two weeks!

A Male Chorale Weekend

I’ve dedicated a good half of all of my weekends to Male Chorale this semester.  The buses have hauled us over to Westminster, Fountain Valley, Littlerock, and Hemet, with the longest ride taking a little over an hour. There’s always a hint of excitement among us as we load onto the buses in our suits and ties, most of us not sure where we’re even going, and some of us just clocking out in our seats. I’ve found that the bus ride is a terrible place to get any homework done with the distraction of friends cracking jokes and (not surprisingly) singing random songs. With rehearsals consisting of 2 ½ hours of vocal practice, there isn’t much time to meet relax with the guys during the week. It’s only during these weekend concerts that we can actually socialize with our brothers.

That’s what made Male Chorale mini tour last weekend so much fun. Every fall the Male Chorale travels for a weekend to churches in Northern California and the central valley, singing night and Sunday morning concerts. Our first concert was in Ceres, a good 6-hour bus ride away. Sitting in a bus for hours and hours, trying to keep your suit nice with 50 other guys can be an experience all in itself, but I didn’t have to deal with that this year.

I woke up early Saturday morning and walked over to the music building before the buses even arrived. For this weekend, I would be on crew, which is in charge of setting up all of the speakers, cables, percussion instruments, and risers for each concert. Some people view us as the select 12 students that arrive before the concert, perform manual labor all up until the sound check, sing through the concert, tear down after the concert, eat after everyone else, and arrive home an hour after the buses. As a man, the idea of more work physical labor and delayed meals doesn’t sound too appealing. The hard work, though, is an afterthought. The true crew experience is everything else.

The adventure began with the van ride. Half of us ride in the van and the other half in the truck, but either way you’re laughing with just a couple other people instead of the entire choir. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing quite like a full bus of choir guys shouting across the aisles and playing random cell phone games. In a smaller group, though, you can easily have your shenanigans as well as some quiet time. On the long drive back down the 5 South, we all appreciated the hours of quiet, straight road. It is the shenanigans, however, that I like to remember and what really brought us closer together.

The bonding began simply by sitting in the van. With only seven people, it’s not hard to have a conversation with everyone since we’re all listening either way. When you have someone screaming from the back seat all the way to the front, you naturally have to be involved as well. The van travels much faster than the truck which carries all of our equipment, so of course of we had extra time to kill. We stopped in Chowchilla for a quick bite at Pedro’s Pizza, which I’m sure looked strange since we were a group of well-dressed college students eating pizza and burritos in a small restaurant. The whole experience was spontaneous but fun, which quickly became the motif of each van ride. The buses just take you to your destination. We had time to do much more.

Then was Saturday night at the church.  This year’s mini tour became even smaller since we only stayed one night instead of 3 or 4. Usually that will consist of two or three students spending the night at a home of one of the families from the church. For crew, that meant staying at the church since we needed to set up for the Sunday morning concert. Now, I stayed at a few churches for May Tour last semester, which ended up not being too exiting or comfortable. This church in Livermore, however, set a high standard. They provided air mattresses, cots, sleeping bags, pillows, towels, a carpeted room, and a satisfying amount of orange juice and powdered mini donuts. As if a food coma wasn’t appealing enough, there was an entire gym floor with basketball hoops and volleyball nets to enjoy. After some exploration we even found plastic hockey sticks and small ball. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun playing hockey. I don’t think I’ve even played hockey before that night. It was such an incredible time with some solid guys.

We still setup and tore down all of the equipment the next morning and night, but we had experiences to laugh about through the weekend. If being on crew means that I have to dedicate extra time in my week to help Male Chorale with the 11 other brothers, I think I’ll stick with it.

Let’s Talk Relationships

In first coming to CBU, I was aware of the (in)famous concept of “Ring by Spring.” The topic of dating and the thought behind this phrase definitely rings true on this campus (no pun intended). The reality of this topic surrounds us – couples abound, and dating is discussed in any circle of friends gathered for lunch at Brisco’s. Several of our on campus events address this idea, and rightfully so. We find this topic relevant at this time of life, and it is so vastly important to discuss them in the community available to us. In the experience I’ve gathered here, a few elements on the topic of relationships prove important to address. So buckle up, readers, and let’s talk dating.

  • Perspective: Everything to be said about relationships should be looked at with a Biblical perspective. As Christians, it is our joy and our goal to honor Christ and to achieve His purposes in everything that we do. This, of course, includes pursuing relationships with other people. It’s true that on a Christian campus, innumerable awesome and Christ-loving individuals surround us, which honestly makes it difficult not to start crushing on one of them at one time or another. That being said, it’s important to keep your primary focus on advancing the Kingdom of God. Focus on your love for Him, and know that relationships serve as a picture of a selfless love that reflects the Creator.
  • Contentment: While the idea of dating is one that will cross your mind at some point, know that it shouldn’t dominate your thoughts. Regardless of whether you are single, in a relationship or beginning to date, your worth is not affected by changes to come. You are so much more than your relationship status, and it is important to focus on the qualities that matter most. Cultivate genuineness, humor, kindness, confidence, thoughtfulness, humility, and passion that exudes from every pore. Your personal journey will play out wonderfully, and those who join you in it will be encouraged by your dedication and passion to live fully and honor the Creator.
  • Motive: If you are at a point where you are dating someone, or you’re in a serious relationship, always remember to seek the best for both yourself and the other person. The best experience in this life is a reckless pursuit of the God of all things, and when you play a part in someone else’s story, push and be pushed toward advancing the Gospel. This will be played out in your relationship through the way you respect each other, care for the other’s goals and well-being, and are willing to join in on their spiritual walk. Make time for the important conversations as well as for fun, and listen to each other’s insight. Make a point to seek accountability from other people as you move forward. It’s important to work on your identity as a couple, and including other trusted people in that can be instrumental in further shaping your Christ-centered relationship.

Relationships, as with everything else in life, are a way to seek growth. Regardless of whether you’re single or dating, remember that everything in life should be done seeking the Kingdom of God. In college, the “Ring by Spring” idea will bounce around the conversation, but should not be an end goal. Look for wisdom from others when addressing this, and remember that the goal, as always, is to honor God and be blessed to grow immensely.

Remember

With midterm madness now well behind, us CBU students are finally able to begin busily and cheerfully anticipating the holiday season. This means a few different things, of course – primarily that our schedules have become so dense, we’re sometimes struggling to breathe. But reassurance is found in the fact that the density is a very, very good thing.

With the holiday season comes the everlasting joy of Christmas music, spilling its luminosity into every apartment on campus… November generally means cozy sweaters and snug boots (unless of course you live in Riverside, but who’s complaining?), and even a tangible excuse for every great pessimist to be thankful. Theoretically, the holiday season really is “the most wonderful time of the year.”

But is it, truly, for all those living beyond the gates of Cal Baptist? Often times as Americans, and especially as American college students who are fortunate enough to attend such a magnificent school, we become enveloped in the dangers of narrow-mindedness… and we forget to remember.

We forget to remember that 80% of the world’s population survives on less than $10 every day, and that almost half of the world survives on less than $2.50 every day. We forget about the millions of families around the world who will be unable to hide from winter’s cruel, cold grasp, instead of enjoying that annual Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey amongst the fellowship of loved ones.

Cal Baptist is striving this holiday season to help fight the misery that this time of year often finds so many children around the world in. This year, CBU will be hosting two “packing parties” to emphasize the ministry of Operation Christmas Child. Through this emphasis, CBU students have the opportunity to help provide thousands of less-fortunate kids between the ages of two and fourteen years old with a shoebox full of small gift items. Some of these kids will receive toys and candy, some will receive socks or mittens, and some might even receive some brand new school supplies or hygiene items… But all of them will be blessed.

The Bible says in Acts 20:35 – “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

This holiday season, readers, enjoy that seasonal turkey amongst the fellowship of loved ones, and blast those Christmas tunes. Inhale the intoxicating cinnamons and nutmegs that spike the air in every craft store each November, enjoy a few candy canes, and steal a kiss under the mistletoe – do all of these things joyfully, as they only come knocking once a year, but understand that the presence of that joy is a gift stemming from the ultimate gift of Christ’s sacrifice.

Most importantly, readers, just take the time to remember. This gift is not one to be hidden away for our own advantage, but one to be shared generously with those around the world who desperately need it. So I encourage you all to think and research – decide on a way in which you can make a joyful impact this holiday season.

The opportunities are limitless, and simply require that we all remember.

Cheers! And all the best to you and yours this holiday season,

Natalie

Medicine For The Soul

Have you ever had one of those weeks – a week that was long for really no reason at all? Well that was me last week. I didn’t have an exceptionally large amount of homework or many late night activities; it was simply a long week. So when Friday rolled around I was ready for a good dose of medicine for the soul, and that’s just what I got.

On Fridays I only have one class, art. Fortunately, I have that class with one of my good friends, Sierra and that makes the class one of my favorites. Right now in our art class we are doing presentations. There is one a day, and after a classmate shares a PowerPoint we work on an art project. Last Friday we happened to be working on a project that allowed us to be creative and do our own thing. By the end of class, Sierra and I had been giggling about what we were putting together.

When class was over, we headed to the post with our projects in hand. Now, mind you, these were good-sized crosses that we had decorated, not just a project you could shove into your backpack. Oh, another note – Sierra had two projects in her hands, one was the cross and the other was a clay bust that we had completed a few weeks ago.

Let me take you back a few weeks to when we made these busts. The presenter for that day decided to talk about Roman sculptures, and our assignment was to create a bust of the person sitting next to us.  Therefore, I made one of Sierra and she made one of me.  So on Friday, Sierra was actually carrying around a bust of my head that she had made.

On our way to the post things started going slightly crazy.  Pieces started falling off the bust, which sent us into full on laughing bursts. Eventually, what had been my hair came completely off and the bust was bald. You better believe that had us laughing for a good five minutes. Then things were falling off our crosses as well, and that would make us laugh even more. Basically we were a mess, but we didn’t care. We got what we needed from the post and then headed back to the main part of campus, laughing and having a good time.

The fifteen minutes I spent with Sierra laughing and having a good time was exactly what I needed after the long week I had just experienced. Laughter is the best medicine for the soul.

A Visitation of Old Themes

It’s interesting how certain themes pop up continually throughout film, literature, and life. Reflections of certain ideas are seen in various art forms because they are continually relevant to us – they reveal elements of humanity, and people will always encounter them. One such idea has been presenting itself to me consistently over the past few weeks. It is one that deserves to be discussed, as it proves to be pertinent to life at a university. This idea is vulnerability.

This word gets thrown around a lot in Christian circles; we hear it in chapel, at church, and use it freely among our own companions. While the word may be overused, there is a tendency to allow the idea of vulnerability to remain cognitive without allowing the concept to connect emotionally and affect our lives. I am one who shies away from clichés, and I am guilty of shutting out ideas once I find that I have a firm intellectual grasp on them. Thankfully, my God has a way of breaking through the barriers of my mind by repeating ideas to me when there is more to be learned. Being the analytical student I am, I have learned to pay attention to motifs in literature, film, and life – where there is repetition, there is a profound meaning beneath the surface. Vulnerability is an idea that has been repeated in sermons, scripture, and conversations over the course of this semester, and I recently decided to allow this concept to resonate emotionally, rather than just cognitively. We should prayerfully and cautiously share our weaknesses in order to be held to a higher standard in our community, being constantly pushed toward Christ. Vulnerability is not a word to be used, but a habit to form and an emotional course to take.

As I worked through these thoughts with my roommates, I reached back into my mind to find the time I felt most vulnerable. An emotional connection with this idea was needed to breathe new life into this old, well-worn idea.

I thought back to the time I visited the zoo for the first time with my parents. I must have been about three years old, and I remember being amazed by the amount of people around me the entire day. At one point, I remember my parents taking me to an exhibit where I could approach an open pool to see clusters of starfish. I let go of my dad’s hand to push forward in the crowd and get a closer look, not thinking for one moment that I would lose my way. (Can you blame me? Starfish are awesome!)

Once I saw what I wanted to see, I reached beside me and clung to the nearest leg I could find without a second thought. I distinctly remember saying “Hi, Daddy,” only to hear “I’m not your father” in an unknown voice as a response. I looked up suddenly to discover that this wasn’t at all my dad, and beyond that, I had no idea where my parents were. I jumped back to look desperately up at the innumerable faces high above me, and couldn’t recognize a single one. I was confused, terrified, and felt completely exposed in my surroundings. Thankfully, my parents were quick to recover me, and my first completely vulnerable experience did not last long.

Looking back on this circumstance reminds me of what vulnerability actually is: visiting a place within you that is fragile, close to home, and takes effort to expose. Being transparent may be extremely difficult, and will require that you trust another with your thoughts and emotions.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (English Standard Version). This is a passage many of us have heard before and may be well familiar with, but part of the beauty of scripture is that it has the power to resonate differently with us at varying points throughout life. God invites us to experience life with Him, and part of this includes accepting His companionship and Lordship and opening ourselves up to dialogue with Him – even in the areas that are emotionally vulnerable. He moves greatly when we are humbled and wants us to practice vulnerability as a means of relying more fully on Him.

This recap of a familiar idea and a practice of living it more fully has been quite the journey for me over the past few months. Praise be to my Creator for reestablishing a deeper level of intimacy in my life! Readers, He is big, He is good, and He loves us, and with that, I’ll leave you until next time.

A Busy Weekend

This weekend involved two of my favorite events thatCalifornia Baptist University puts on: Residence Life’s Halloween event and Fortuna Bowl.
This year was the 3rd Annual Halloween Event with the theme “Toy Story.” For those of you who do not knowabout this event, I will outline it for you. Throughout the night, students and faculty can go on a hayride where they will watch a series of scenes acted out by the resident advisors (RA’s) from different living areas. My staff, West Colony, was given the task of acting out the toy soldier scene when they are listening for what toys Andy received for his birthday. We had about a minute to do this five minute scene, so we decided to use the part where a soldier gets stepped on and another soldier says, “A good soldier never leaves a man behind.” So on Halloween night, I dressed up like a toy soldier and, along with the five guys on my staff, acted the scene out many, many times. It was a crazy, exhausting night acting the scene over and overagain, but it was so much fun. It’s always a ton of fun to be a part of an event like this at CBU.
This past weekend was homecoming and with that came Fortuna Bowl, another one of my favorite events. I would even venture to guess that it is one of the biggest events on campus. Fortuna Bowl is the intermural flag football championship game.  Since, CBU doesn’t have its own football team, this flag football championship is exciting for us students. Every year, bleachers are set up, the field is drawn out, and the announcers are in place for the night.There are two championship games played: a women’s and a men’s game.  The reigning champions the Bus Driverseventually took the title over SWAT again. However, the most exciting game Saturday night was the men’s game,Webelos vs. Stealth 2.0. It looked like Stealth was going to win the game when the Webelos tied it, forcing the game into overtime.  By the time it was over the game had gone into quadruple overtime. Eventually, Stealth 2.0 took the win, ending a long and exciting experience.
With Toy Story, Homecoming, and Fortuna Bowl, there were plenty of things to fill the weekend with fun. I always love events at CBU. They are fun, entertaining, and keep me coming back for more.
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