As I’ve said before, I find that immense joy and insight comes from sharing your life with someone. The past few days have enabled me to do that in a new way.

Hopefully, we all have those friends that are undoubtedly God’s way of saying “Here ya go! This is what love and growth looks like with me!” For me, that friend, and one of the most influential people in my life is Shelby. We have an adorable story: We met in preschool, became best playmates and maintained our friendship all the way through elementary, junior high, high school and now into our third year of college – even though we go to separate universities. We have grown up together, laughed, cried, seen each other through every awkward phase and still love each other regardless. She is a person with whom I I can share anything, and I have no doubt that we will be key players in each others’ lives as we continue to grow older.

Why do I share this? Well, ladies and gents, I’m proud to announce that CBU’s presence has been recently graced by the presence of the one and only Shelby, my lifelong friend (insert resounding applause!). She is on her Spring Break and decided to fly down and see where my life happens.

I’ve noticed that bringing someone into the world of CBU for the first time reminds me of why I fell in love with it in the first place. For one, the campus is beautiful, and it is awesome to see someone experience it for the first time and to relive that pleasure yourself. I’ve also become immensely thankful, once again, for each of my classes. I took Shelby to sit in on Cinematic Story – co-taught by X-Men producer Ralph Winter – and was freshly enthused by the opportunities I have to study what I love and gain knowledge from truly astounding people. (In Shelby’s words, “I want to start over and take this class. This is crazy!”)

The thing that seemed to leave the most lasting impression on my treasured visitor is exactly that which has made my time at CBU abundantly blessed – the people I get to spend each day with. Our first night in Riverside, I summoned the troops to gather at the Old Spaghetti Factory for Shelby’s welcome dinner. I wanted these lovely people from my two worlds to converge, and when they finally did, I can’t accurately describe the beauty that came out of it. I saw how Shelby, who has always been a huge part of my life, merged in flawlessly with my friends at CBU. Our conversation was rich with conversation about personalities, creation, anti-jokes, God and how we’re living life. As we all returned home I realized that conversation like that doesn’t just happen. My life at CBU has blessed me with friendships to nurture and build upon.

Showing Shelby my life as it is now was, for lack of a fancier word, amazing. Aside from being unbelievably fun, it was an encouragement to see how God is continuing to grace my life with His presence. He gave me Shelby as a lifelong friend, even though we now live miles apart. He has also given me the chance, through CBU, to continue to grow and learn, and He has shown me that quality relationships are such a tangible way of experiencing his love. I’m filled with gratitude – for my busy schedule, the classes that challenge me, the work that stretches me and for the people who walk with me. Shelby, come back soon!