by audreyhanson

Living in a Pinterest World

Today’s world is a place full of technology, information, and endless resources.  If a person wanted to build a castle out of glow sticks, they could most likely find a tutorial for it.  It is a wonderful thing for poor college students, because with websites like Pinterest and Youtube, there are endless opportunities for fun and creativity.

Pinterest is a website that allows its users to virtually “pin” the things and ideas that they like to their personal “boards”. This gives them the opportunity to get ideas that they like, purchase gifts they have found online, and many other things.

When I was a resident advisor in The Cottages at CBU last year, I spent the entire summer beforehand planning and preparing for the decoration project. I ended up decorating my cottage for almost no cost at all because I used the resources around my house to make all the things I needed. A tutorial for cute wallflowers taught me how to make cute, bright flowers out of old toilet paper rolls for the walls. Some of my favorite things that summer were the fabric flowers I created from my old choir dresses. It took eight straight hours a day and made my fingers hurt for a while, but it was worth it, and my cottage ended up looking so bright and fun.

One of the things I like about Pinterest is that it has something for everyone. Even guys can use the site, though it definitely leans more toward females. Whenever I have a problem that needs solving, Pinterest is somehow the first place I look for finding a solution. Granted, there are times when Pinterest is not always the best place to turn, especially if you are really hungry, because there are always hundreds of pictures of delicious recipes to cook up on that website.

But in my eyes, it is the golden website for all college students. I also have found websites that have taught me how to better manage my finances, improve my photography, and have a better relationship with my boyfriend. While Pinterest can take over your free time, like many social media sites, it is a most beneficial site.

At CBU, student leaders have even taken advantage of Pinterest and held Pinterest-themed events to help residents get crafty together. If you look at my apartment, you would think that Pinterest just exploded all over it, because my roommates and I have created so many fun things from these events and from our own crafting. We have yarn bottles, homemade body scrub, whiteboard wall calendars, and many other things attributable to just being creative.

So friends, if you have a creativity problem that needs solving, there is a solution out there.  Even if you just have some free time or need some inspiration, Pinterest is the place for you!

God is Faithful

The theme of my week has been that God is faithful and will always provide for me.

Like many college graduates at CBU, I have been worrying and wondering what to do after graduation.  There are so many things to consider when you leave college.

Where are you going to live? Where are you going to work? What are you going to do with your major? Will you continue on to get your masters? The list goes on and on, and it can get a little stressful if you let your mind wander with negative possibilities.

I knew I had to find a job for after graduation. However, I had been told that finding a job took six to nine months in today’s economy. It was making me increasingly stressed. I had been applying everywhere, but there was no solid option yet. But this week, God came through and provided me with a fun job with a Christian employer in a secular company.

Even with a job secured, I was still facing sleepless nights trying to find a place to live after I leave CBU.  It required constant prayer and encouragement from friends to keep peace in my heart.  But of course, the Lord has provided for me like he always has.  Even though I had a difficult time trusting, God brought about a way that my best friend and I could live together in a beautiful place near where we both will be working.

With the few days left before graduation, my friend and I have been scrambling to find the things we need in order to have a livable home. We have been searching Craigslist like madwomen, checking every hour to see what has come up online.  It has created some fun adventures though! Through pure happenstance (meaning, God’s provision), we found a really inexpensive bed frame, mattress and box spring online.

 

After driving to pick it up, we loaded the bed as best as two girls who have never moved furniture in their life can. However, we had not even thought to bring a rope to secure it.  God provided even the little things, though. An older gentleman passing by saw us loading the bed and asked if we had rope to tie it down. After we told him we did not, he offered us the rope he had in his car.  So we precariously headed down the highway at a turtle’s pace, and brought it to a friend’s house.

 

My pastor always says that God grows your faith little by little, by providing for you in little ways and eventually in bigger ways. I can certainly attest to that, because this whole week has just been a constant testimony of how God has provided and brought people into my life to be a blessing to me.

Until All the World Hears

One of the great events that CBU has put on for the past seven years is Night of Nations. It is a fun night of entertainment and competition that helps to raise funds for teams of college students that are going out in the world to serve and share the gospel of Jesus Christ through the International Service Project program.

International Service Projects are three-week long trips to various parts of the world where students perform diverse tasks to reach the nations with the gospel.  ISP is a big part of the CBU experience because the university is committed to fulfilling Jesus’ mandate of the Great Commission “to go and make disciples of all nations.” To this end, CBU believes that God bestows upon every student gifts and passions to accomplish their purpose”.

ISP utilizes students’ talents and abilities to serve others.  For example, there is a team focusing on the deaf culture in a specific country.  Another team is using their athletic skills in a basketball camp to minister to children and share the gospel.

Night of Nations is a fun night, because the teams put on skits, videos, and dances that represent the culture that they will be serving and also portraying ISP’s theme for this year.  The theme “Awaken” was chosen, because there are so many nations who have not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and their souls are living in darkness.  The goal of ISP is to give them the “light of the world” so that they will never have to walk in darkness again, according to John 8:12 (ESV).

The great part of this event is that not only is it fun and entertaining, but it is also inspiring and educational for all believers.  Many of the acts in the show were filled with statistics revealing the number of people in specific regions who were still living in darkness. I left the Night of Nations event feeling very inspired to pray for specific nations and also to give prayer support for teams who were going to nations where there are literally no believers.  I also was very encouraged by the number of students who were willing to hear the missionary call and go outside of their comfort zone to lead people to Christ.  More than 400 students from CBU are participating in ISP, United States Project (USP), or Summer of Service (SOS).

This summer, you can pray for CBU students as they attempt to bring people to the one Person who can Awaken their soul.  Pray for the nations they are ministering in and that the gospel would be spread far and wide through students who are heeding the call.

 

Understanding the Times

This past week, the Supreme Court debated the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as union between a man and a woman only. Undoubtedly, this has caused quite a stir among the Christian community. It seems as if almost every Christian is up in arms in the cyber world trying to make their claim as to why gay marriage should or should not be allowed, or why everyone should just settle down and love everyone. There have been countless talk shows and online debates about the issue, and the entirety of America seems to be buzzing with opinions on the topic.

This whole situation is very intriguing to me because there are so many elements involved, and it runs a huge risk of being very complex because human feelings hang in the balance and many lives will be affected by the court’s decision. While I will not share my personal opinion about this issue, I will share what I believe about something else.

While I do not believe that politics are the most important concern of Christians, I think being aware of the times and its events should be important to Christians. Many people have gotten hurt and have been turned away from the church because of the issue at hand, partly because the Christian church is most known for not approving of gays and earning the reputation of anti-gay. For the sake of the church and the name of Christ, it is vital that Christians know what is going on around them, know what they believe, and know the best course to take based on what they believe.

In Chronicles 12:32, the men of Issachar are commended because “All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take”. These men were listed as leaders in the nation of Israel because they understood what was going on around them and were able to guide Israel in wisdom.

At CBU, there are plenty of ways to stay informed and get involved with the goings-on in the world. An active International Justice Mission club meets weekly on campus to represent the needs of oppressed individuals worldwide and make a difference. Many professors who have developed knowledge and insight about what is going on in the world are constantly on call and are more than happy to discuss world and American issues. An easy way to stay informed is to pick up a newspaper from one of the many newspaper stands located around Cal Baptist. With this form of media, it is also good to get several perspectives from other people and other media sources so that you do not get a one-sided bias. A Christian website that gives frequent updates of world events is the Voice of the Martyrs, at www.persecution.com. Another fun way to be informed is to attend events like Night of Nations, which will be this Friday in the Van Dyne gym at 7 p.m. CBU students participating in International Service Projects will be putting on entertainment that displays the cultures they will be serving this summer.

So get involved! Be informed. Know what is going on in the world around you and be able to deal with the issues at hand in a realistic way.

 

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.

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.

UnChristian

UnChristian. Hypocrites. Old-fashioned. Judgmental.

These are just a few of the labels that Christians are given by unbelievers. The labels seem harsh to Christians, and we tend to respond to them with a quick rebuttal of “They don’t really know Christians then!” However, it should make us question why we have such a bad rap with the unbelieving community.

These thoughts arose because of a book that I am reading currently called “UnChristian” by David Kinnaman. It is a good read, especially because it is filled with research from the Barna Group, an organization of Christian researchers. The Barna Group has done extensive research of Christianity from the eyes of non-believers of Christianity. They have been able to see what keeps people from the church and taints the religion of Christianity for them.

The main complaint of non-believers is that Christianity is unchristian. Ghandi is quoted for saying, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

But how exactly are we different than Christ?

We have all heard the claims that Christians are judgmental and hypocritical. There are things that push non-believers away from Christianity that we might not be aware of.

This past week, California Baptist University had the privilege of having Ralph Winter speak on our campus for chapel and for a special lecture. He is a Christian producer in Hollywood who spoke to the problem that Christians have — poor storytelling.

While this may not seem to be a big issue, it is a great departure from the author of our faith, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was an amazing storyteller. On many mountaintops and in many cities, Jesus Christ reached masses by his stories and parables. Not only were his stories captivating, but they were current with the times that he lived in. He spoke of a shepherd who lost one of his 99 sheep, how the shepherd dropped everything to find that one sheep and how he rejoiced when he found the one, lost sheep.  This story was relatable to listeners because they were people who made their living raising sheep and working with livestock.

I think many non-believers see Christians as out of touch with the times. We are to be in the world, but not of it. Therefore, we must be aware of the times if we are going to reach out to those who are in the world. We must be able to speak to non-Christians in a manner that relates to the times today, not only the people of Israel thousands of years ago.  We must produce media like music, movies and art that relates to the times today and inspires others toward Christ.

Students at California Baptist University have a great opportunity in Southern California. There are many non-believers in the area who are waiting to be reached. This also means that we have a great responsibility at CBU to reach out to non-believers.  But to do this, we must not be unchristian. We must be Christ-followers and Christ-imitators. We must be like our Jesus.

 

99% Inspiration, 1% Perspiration

Do you ever experience complete inspiration from someone you come into contact with? Someone who makes you want to be a better person or strive for greater things?

This semester I am blessed with great inspiration.  One of the inspirations in my life right now is one of my professors at CBU.  He teaches two of the graphic design classes I have to take for my minor. Not only is he an excellent professor who knows what he is teaching, but he also incorporates the right ratio of teaching and inspiration.

Although CBU has many wonderful professors, it is a real treat to have someone who makes you want to learn, besides just helping you learn. Professor Steve Cox makes me want to soak up all the knowledge he has and go far with it.  Something that he stresses often is that no one wants anything mediocre.  No one wants 10 mediocre designs if you can have one great design. His encouragement is always to strive for excellence.

As much as I recall, I have never experienced anyone who pushed me to strive for excellence. I have always had my own personal motivation. It helped a lot that my parents were teachers at my school pretty much my whole life, so I had to stay accountable for keeping up in my academic life. Even in my spiritual life, I have motivated myself to seek God and be the best Christian I can be. Maybe my inspiration in the areas of my life came from a desire to be the best in everything, but I never have been so inspired to be the best I can be just for excellence’s sake.

I have been blessed to have support from family, sufficient money to live, people who encourage and teach me, and no disabilities. But I have seen people with huge disadvantages do amazing, great things. Sometimes I wonder if being normal and having life easier than most is a disability in itself. When things come easily, it might be more difficult to strive for excellence. We may think: “If I can do an average, mediocre job of something, why make it perfect? Why try to make it better?”

I just watched a video on YouTube of a man who weighed 275 pounds and could barely run 10 yards without stopping, because he could not breathe. His dream was to run the Boston Marathon to raise money for his niece who had cystic fibrosis. Although his obesity was a big hurdle, he strove for excellence, and now he is healthy. He has run 12 marathons in 2.5 years since he ran his first marathon, and he has raised money to fund research for cystic fibrosis.  You can watch the video on this link:

It is inspiring to see people do great things and become better people. Strive for excellence and inspire others to do the same. Have a great week!

 

Show Some Love

This week is Valentine’s Day! If you did not know that, you should climb out from under your rock.

If you are aware of it, you probably are going through some thought process about the holiday.  It seems like every year all the single people are rallying with their cry of “Valentine’s Day is the stupidest holiday ever!” and “I love being single forever!” All the couples are in a frenzy planning the best Valentine’s Day ever and cooking up delicious goodies for their loved ones.

A man came into my office at the Academic Resource Center this past week proclaiming that Valentine’s Day was the worst holiday and that he would never enjoy it, even if he had someone in the future. That made me sad because, frankly, I believe it is a wonderful holiday, whether I have someone to be with that day or not.  But someone who was also in my office at the time made a good point. She said that Valentine’s Day does not have to be about romantic love.  It can be a day where you focus especially on showing people love throughout the day.

While we should always show love to others, we can set aside special time and focus to showing others love on V-day. For example, my college group at church is having a “Heart Attack” event where we go to the homes of people in our church and fork their lawns. On the forks we are putting hearts with notes of encouragement and appreciation to uplift and bless the people that we “attack.” Not only is it a fun time to build relationships, but we get to show members of our church how much we love and appreciate them.

I found even more ideas for using Valentine’s Day to show love on this website: www.blogher.com/use-valentines-day-do-acts-kindness.

Some good ideas are to:

  • Write a letter. It is always fun to receive handwritten mail from someone you love, and in the midst of a busy week it could be really uplifting. Consider writing one to someone who is having a rough time or who is alone on Valentine’s Day.
  • Give someone a call! Call that friend that you do not get to see very much anymore and you may have lost touch with. They may have been wanting to hear from you and gotten left behind in the busyness of life.
  • Do some Random Acts of Kindness. This week, from the 14th-20th is Random Acts of Kindess week! Some fun ideas are to Pay It Forward at Starbucks, or buy groceries for a family who is under the weather.
  • Bake! Baking is not only good for the soul, but fun to do! Utilize this cold weather to stay inside and get warm by the oven. Making food for someone is a good way to their hearts, and lots of good relationships are formed over the eating of food.

I hope you all have a blessed Valentine’s Day. Love somebody!

Becoming Part of the Body

Finding a home church can be difficult in college. It can be hard to find one that suits the church personality you are used to, that correlates with your beliefs, is close to where you live and allows you to be actively involved.

When I was a freshman, I would go to different churches to see which ones fit what I was used to.  Back home, my church serves between 80 to100 people a week. Everyone knows everyone; we are a family.  It was a great church to grow up in as the worship pastor’s daughter.  However, it was rough coming to a large city where there are so many options and different kinds of churches to choose from.

Not only that, but as a pastor’s kid, I was always at the church.  If it was not youth group, it was worship team practice. If it was not worship practice, it was Vacation Bible School.  If it was not VBS, it was “Clean-the-Church-Saturday.” You get the picture.  It was never a hard task to find a way to serve at our home church as my parents volunteered my brother and sisters and me for everything.

Coming to churches in the Riverside area was a different story. In order to get involved I had to be intentional in seeking out ways to be actively involved in the church body. It was even more difficult because there was the small matter of having school, homework, projects and also attempting to find consistent transportation to get to church activities.

However, about two years ago, I started attending CrossPointe Community Church in Fontana with a few friends.  For some reason, this church just clicked. I did not know very many people but I was intentional about getting to know people at the church. This past summer I lived in Fontana, and one of the main reasons I wanted to stay in Southern California for the summer was so I could build deeper relationships with people at the church and serve more frequently.

Since that time, I have become involved in many ministries at church, and I feel comfortable calling it my “home church”.  I participate in the worship team regularly, the children’s ministry, the church’s computer ministry, the youth group ministry, and I attend the college group. God has also blessed me so that I have been able to get to know people in the senior adult ministries and other ministries throughout the church.

I feel as if God has grown me in order to help me learn how to build solid relationships and make church a genuine thing for me.  Because it did not come easy for me like it was when I was younger, I have to be more intentional about how I deal with people and grow with people. It has been such a blessing.

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