A Typical Day in the Life

Brooke Fraser’s “Here’s to You,” one of many songs that is near and dear to me, states, quite wisely, “life is short as the day is long.” I consistently find this to be true, especially when I realize that, although my days are so incredibly full, a month of the fall semester has already flown by.

Readers, I can safely say that I have succeeded in settling into a fairly well adjusted schedule by now. Once again, I find that budgeting free time is just as important as budgeting time for work, and I am reminded again that there is so much to enjoy about life on a college campus. The simple pleasures all amount to so much, and this past week, it is the little things that have made my heart so full.

My days typically start in a sleepy haze. I roll out of bed first to enjoy the cheery singing performed graciously by my roommate as she prepares for the day. I then get ready as quickly as possible so as to enjoy a huge cup of coffee before my first class. Side note: Coffee is glorious, isn’t it? I often fall asleep looking forward to having my morning cuppa. Okay, back on track now. Once I am sufficiently caffeinated, I step out into the eternal sunshine of Southern California and begin my trek to the James building, spouting out innumerable “hello’s” and “how’s life?’s” to people along the way. Walking around campus this year often feels like a picture-perfect movie montage in which the protagonist powerwalks along to a cheery indie song. Even the smallest moments at the start of the day set a tone which allows me to be aware of the blessings of university life!

I then spend the majority of my day in class, scratching my head at mind-boggling ideas or picking my professors’ brains to gain one more sliver of knowledge. This year has brought on just another level of enthusiasm for my life as a student, as I have added my film studies minor. This, coupled with English, allows me to dig deep into the subjects I love and shamelessly geek out over the things I find fascinating. One of my fellow English major friends perfectly summed up what our major entails: it is an ongoing book club in which we read great books, talk about them, write about them, talk about them once more and then repeat the entire process with another great book. I can honestly say that it is a privilege to go to school and learn the things that make one’s passion grow.

At the end of a long day of classes, work and meetings, I enjoy time in my living room with the three gorgeous girls I am graced to call roommates. We sprawl out in whatever position we find comfortable and dive into the evening’s activities. We encourage each other through homework, discuss an interesting topic encountered during the day, or battle through an important philosophical question. I can hardly imagine a better end to a day than spending it with dear friends who exhort one another and offer undefiled friendship.

While college life is a roller coaster filled with stresses, deadlines and challenges, these are matched in joyful privileges and community. Taking joy in all of the simple things can help to maintain a gracious attitude and to carry on through life purposefully and joyfully. Friends, I hope you have a wonderful week.

The Beauty of Transition

One of my greatest fears about going off to college was the idea of leaving my family to be “on my own.” I’m the oldest of six children, the youngest of us being only five months old, which means I’ve often felt like the oldest of three and also the part time mother of three others. My family is often referred to as “The Shadle Circus,” or more often, “The Shadle Clan.”

So for me, the transition period meant not only leaving my parents and oldest siblings, but also leaving the three “little people,” to whom I have a different attachment then I normally would to a sibling. The idea of this transition both excited and terrified me, to the point where some days I just couldn’t wait any longer, and some days I silently prayed for more time.

Still the day came, regardless of my bittersweet predicament. And as I move into October, reflecting upon my first month living without seeing them as often, I’ve realized how much I’ve grown as a person, and also how much I’ve grown in my relationships with my family members because of this transition.

I still go home on most weekends since I don’t live too far away, which has definitely helped to make the transition a smooth one. As my mom says, “You spend just enough time at school to get sick of it, and then enough time at home to want to go back. It’s perfect.”

But when I go home now, I’ve been surprised to find that I legitimately feel older and more adult. I can have long conversations with my parents as though they are my best friends, and I find that I am not finding reason to argue with my eighth grade sister nearly as often as I used to be (plus she actually hugs me now!). My 5- and 3-year-old little sisters are so much more excited to see me then they used to be when it was an everyday thing. I find myself more inclined to spend quality time with them, because I view it as even more of a precious treasure than I did a month ago. My 16-year-old brother hardly seems to deserve fighting with anymore.  And then there’s August, the 5-month old… Well, he’s always been cute

When I first moved in, one of my roommates was talking to me about her older brother who lives on campus. After listening to the adoration in her voice, I said, “That’s so awesome that you two have such a great relationship.”

Her response was first a laugh, and then, “Well, he moved out two years ago… and you know what they say — distance really does make the heart grow fonder.” Now I can appreciate how right she was.

As I reflect, I also can’t help but comment on how different the transition period would have been, had CBU not also helped provide the means for it to happen so smoothly. While here I have been pleasantly surprised by the warmth which immediately engulfs the freshman student body. Going into my fifth week, I am confident in the friendships I have established, the care my teachers provide, and the excitement going to class every day brings me. Believe it or not, my most exciting class of the week is my earliest. Eight o’clock is not the friendliest number on my schedule, but when surrounded by such a wealth of wonderful people and thrilling knowledge, I hardly care about what I’ve set my alarm to.

God’s really been working in my heart throughout this month, teaching me to have joy in new experiences and cherish the opportunity to return to familiar ones.

All that to say, as terrified as I was for this transition, I’ll be the first to call it a beautiful one.

Therefore, GO

Well, it’s that time of year again. October has hit and at CBU that means there are less than 10 days till ISP/USP applications are due. If you are a student here at CBU, you know that these service projects are important to our community here at CBU.  If you don’t know what ISP or USP is, let me tell you. ISP stands for International Service Projects and USP stands for United States Services projects. These projects take place over the summer, spanning from 11 days to three weeks.  The Office of Mobilization sends out teams all over the world to serve communities. Two summers ago, in 2012, I had the privilege of serving on an ISP team that went to Southeast Asia.

Let me give you a little overview of what the months looked like prior to leaving for the field. The first part of the process is to fill out the application, get your references in and schedule an interview. Sometime before thanksgiving break, I finally received a letter that told me I had been accepted to serve on an ISP team and the letter told me when team reveal happened. Team reveal is an exciting and awkward time. A few of my friends and I arrived at team reveal, excited to meet our teams. There was a time of worship and announcements at the beginning, then they sent us on our way to meet our teams. The first time you meet your team is probably one of the most awkward moments ever. You don’t know any of these people and they basically just tell you “This is who you are going to be spending the next semester with and the people you are going to spend three weeks overseas with.” So, you have all this awkwardness, and then my team leaders had us drink tea and do crafts. It was an awkward yet fun night. The whole next semester was spent getting to know the people on my team and preparing to serve on the field. This was a time that I really grew to love my team and a time where I developed a heart for the nations.

Fast forward a few months to our departure. After spending many hours on a plane, we finally made it to Southeast Asia. There was a mix of emotions going on. I was both excited and nervous for what was to come. The first two days were spent training in the big city. Then we moved to a city south of where we initially arrived.  Each day, we would wake up in the morning, have breakfast, do a devotional, head to the university for our class, come back, have lunch and coffee dates, and at night we would teach English. At first we didn’t know how we were going to be able to fill our afternoons with coffee dates, but it was easy to find people who wanted to hang out with us. Being able to teach at the English school gave us many opportunities to make friends. While we were there, the administrators put together a special program called “Coffee Talk,” in which we would meet with students at their coffee shop and go through a sheet of questions to help them practice their English. Most of the time, the students did not want to follow the list and wanted to ask us questions and hear about our lives. We were able to meet some great people and develop some great relationships.

There was one person we met during our time there that I will never forget. This guy was absolutely amazing. When we first met him, he was not a believer, but by the end of the trip we were able to witness his baptism. He had a complete transformation that was amazing to see. He would visit us almost every night at our hotel with new questions that he had from what he was reading in his Bible that day.  He had started with the gospels, which have many metaphors, and we learned early on that the people in Southeast Asia do not understand metaphors. We would have many discussions about different passages almost every night. It was amazing to see the faith that he had after only a few days of believing.

Being able to serve on an ISP team changed my entire perspective on how we can bring the gospel to the nations. It had a great impact on my life and really challenged my relationship with God in a good ways. If you are thinking about applying for ISP or USP, I would strongly recommend that you follow through. It is a life changing experience.

Songs of Praise

Even though I sing in CBU’s Male Chorale, I don’t usually have the opportunity to hear other choir groups perform. Strange as it sounds, there is a good reason for this: all choir rehearsals are held at the same time on Tuesday and Thursday from 2– 4:30 p.m., which means I can’t listen in on the other groups during the week. Even our Sunday night concerts end up on the same days. If not, then they are usually in a city too far away for me to ride my bike. I mean, one of the main reasons I auditioned for Male Chorale in the first place was after I listened to the University Choir and Orchestra (UCO) in concert.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder I jumped at the idea of attending a nearby small group concert last Sunday. Rebecca Orr, a friend who I actually sang with in high school show choir, invited me and some friends to come to see her group at La Sierra Baptist church. The group is called Light and consists of seven singers (three men, four women) and a pianist. Small groups perform about as often as the actual choirs, but since they are much smaller, they can sing at smaller local churches. I actually wanted to try out for a small group this year, but the day of the audition was the day after a 12-hour Male Chorale rehearsal. My raspy, tired voice was not ready for a serious audition. At this point I still hadn’t even listened to a small group concert yet, so I was curious to see if I was missing out.

No doubt I was. With only seven singers, you can hear each individual voice and harmony so clearly, much different than the main choir groups. That sense of closeness to the performer is lost in a large room of 100 voices. Not only could we hear their voices, but they also sounded amazing. Each one of them could have easily performed solo without the group and still deliver a solid performance. With all of them singing together, I was simply left speechless. Not to give special attention to any one of them, but Desmond Clark has to have one of the widest vocal ranges I’ve ever heard. He sang all of the bass parts and then jumped up past the tenors on a couple of songs and still sounded incredible! As a fellow bass singer, I am honored to at least go to the same university as him.

Although I might be Light’s biggest fan right now, I want to emphasize how great it is that CBU sends groups like these to bless churches with worship. These students could easily use their voices to sing elsewhere, but they choose to glorify God on Sunday mornings with unfamiliar congregations. Just from the faces in the crowd at La Sierra Baptist church, I could tell that Light delivered the gospel in the best way they know how: worshipful song.

Sidelines and Good Times

College football is a popular sport for CBU men to watch in the fall at their dorms and apartments, since CBU does not have a team of their own. Watching a game from your couch, though, doesn’t quite match the excitement of actually cheering with the other fans. And, then again, being a crazy fan doesn’t even compare to standing on the sidelines as an actual player on the team. Although there is no Lancer football team, every fall intramural flag football arrives with more support and participation than any other sport. As you can probably guess, I am on a team this year, and we have too much fun.

Last Saturday almost every team played one or two games out on the front lawn, which meant that my team had a long day of football. Since you get to choose your name, our captain decided on Bad News Bears with yellow baseball shirts for uniforms. I had missed our first game on Tuesday, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect from our team. I played on a freshman team with my dorm hall last year, and we thought we knew what we were doing up until the first game. I guess I should have picked up on that sooner when the guys decided to draft me for offensive line. My 5’10” 150 lb. frame could not handle the stress of ex-high school football players that rushed at me on every play. Needless to say, my team last year did not win the Fortuna Bowl, but we grew as a dorm hall and had a blast either way.

I had higher hopes for my team this year, and after the first practice I could tell they were a lot more organized and ready to play hard. The front lawn came to life that Saturday morning with teams and refs in matching uniforms, as well as friends cheering and coaching their teams on. Our first game was at 11 a.m. against the Legal Aliens, also known as the international student team.  I played soccer my whole life so I kicked off. I That quickly became my role in the team. I played safety as well and blocked passes as they came, but that couldn’t stop the Legal Aliens from jumping ahead in the second half. No one really felt bad about it. In fact, I even left between games buy the yellow baseball shirt. I didn’t need it, but I was psyched to be out there with the guys.

The second game was against Goon Squad, and they definitely had those ex-high school football players that I encountered last year. Although we fell behind much faster, our team’s morale actually peaked in the last three minutes of the second half. We were on offense within yards of our own end zone when our quarterback threw to one of our receivers to complete our first first-down conversion of the day. Our sideline erupted with as much cheering as five benched players could muster up. We laughed our way through the final whistle, and the other team thanked us for a fun game, as well. That’s just how intramural football is supposed to be: a group of students enjoying a great sport together.

When Glitter Comes to Gloom

“We should do something creative to TWIRP the boys! Maybe we should make ‘em some big posters, and decorate their front porch…”

At the time, my roommates loved this idea. We had no interest in being mediocre TWIRP-ers. After all, TWIRP week only comes once a year! We were determined to make this one memorable for our amigos over in The Colony.

And boy, did we ever!

Last Thursday afternoon, I told my boyfriend that I needed to run by Wal-Mart to pick up some art supplies. He was sweet enough to go with me, but didn’t really question what they were for. His brain was probably about to overload with that day’s influx of microbiology and biochemistry knowledge, so he wasn’t super curious.

Later that evening, after an intense game of Apples to Apples with our unknowing soon-to-be TWIRP prank victims, my roommates and I sat on our apartment floor, staring at the assortment of markers, glitter, sticky notes, ribbon and glue, wondering when the best time was to surprise them with these posters. Since we wanted to secretly decorate their front porch, we couldn’t simply walk over whenever we felt like it. After all, it would really be disappointing if one of them caught us—like that moment when you’re TPing a friend’s front yard, and they step outside and catch you, as your hands reach up to string the roll over another tree branch. Major whoops.

So we thought, Hey! It’s almost the weekend. We can lose a little sleep tonight.

Our masterpieces, at their finest. ;)

And, with that, we got to work embellishing our posters to perfection before dragging them to my car with us… at 12:30 a.m., of course.

As we left Tower Hall, we got some pretty awesome looks from a couple of the night owls still hanging out in the lounge.

“Where are you going? … Are you TWIRPing someone right now?”

“Yes we are!”

“…Are they awake?”

“Guess we’ll find out soon!”

Actually, we never meant to get them out of bed. We were hoping they’d still be awake, since they tend to be late-nighters.

After parking the car far enough away from the boys’ apartment that they wouldn’t see if we decided to make a run for it, we gathered up all our crafty leftovers and our posters, and headed to their porch.

Next, we made sure we had a hiding place identified, where we thought we’d be able to watch them open the door after we knocked and ran.

As we strung ribbon around the porch to clip the posters onto, and dusted the ground with way too much star-shaped glitter, we listened carefully to make sure no one was going to come outside. Once the door was loaded with sticky notes for a final touch, Brittany and I ran to the hiding place. Then Lydia knocked and flew across the complex to catch up with us before anyone opened the door.

“Shhhhhh, stop laughing! They’re still awake, I hear them!”

Waiting… waiting… giggling… waiting….

No one answered.

Hesitantly, Lydia went back over and knocked again, even louder, this time sprinting back to us in case someone had been waiting behind the door for the second knock.

Waiting… waiting… giggling some more… waiting…

Still, no one answered.

Are they ignoring us?

Then my phone rang. I picked up, composed myself, and tried to sound innocent when my boyfriend asked if we were outside their apartment.

“What do you mean, ‘you think someone’s there?’”

“Well, someone keeps knocking. And when we ask who it is, no one answers. It’s happened twice, and it’s kinda sketchy.” He sounded irritated.

We all looked at each other. Ooooohhhh….

“Well… maybe you should just open the door.” I said, a twinge of guilt in my request.

“Oh. My. Gosh. Security is on the way!”

… Oh, shoot….

Well, evidently, we hadn’t figured that into our plan. Nervous and extremely guilty, the three of us made our way to the boys’ apartment, unsure of how this new situation would blow over. All three of them came out onto the porch – one fuming, one laughing, and the last looking completely aghast. He must have been the one who called security, I thought, feeling especially guilty now.

To my utter disbelief, the officer greeted us with a warm smile and said, “Hah. I figured this would just be another student’s prank. Don’t worry, you’re not in any trouble. Happens all the time.” All he wanted was my I.D. number, to double check that I was in fact a student, and assurance from us that everything was definitely okay. Astonished at his graceful mood, despite the unnecessary call to duty at 1 a.m., all I could muster was a continuous, “I am soooo sorry!”

Around 1:15 a.m. that morning, the three of us girls left with the bittersweet confusion of disappointment and relief, feeling only half accomplished.

So you see, that evening taught us just how easily light-hearted glitter can come to unfortunate gloom.

But, despite this slight let down, the three of us were able to discuss our mistakes on the drive back to our apartment, making note of how to make next year’s TWIRP a little more spectacular, and a little less stressful. Moments like these are all a part of the college experience, right?

And don’t worry, boys, we’ll make it up to you with this week’s TWIRP event “Create a Date.” We pinky swear it! :)

Zombies, and the Importance of Rest

Friends, this past week I had my first encounter with an acquaintance of mine who is feared by many and known widely as “Zombie Aubrey.” This figure emerges when I have neglected sleep, have not had an adequate amount of strong coffee and have spent entirely too much time buried in a textbook or glued to a screen. Think Jekyll and Hyde, or a less green Incredible Hulk, and that should give you an accurate picture of what happens to me when conditions are less than ideal.

Right about this time each semester of my college career, I have seen the dangers of wearing oneself thin and am reminded of three very important things:

  1. Sleep
  2. Leisure
  3. Community

By this time, I know I am not alone when I say that the homework has caught up to speed while many of us may still be fighting off the last traces of Summer Brain. I find that many of us begin to find the need to prioritize. I have discovered that my junior year has brought several classes that are less than easy, and I have decided to refer back to my tried and true methods that keep me functioning like a normal human being and keep the Zombie at bay.

I first have to emphasize the importance of rest. Granted, a large part of college life includes staying up ridiculously late, and this is a wonderful part of the experience. However, too many sleepless nights can be detrimental to functioning like a normal human being. Please, dear Readers, do not do this to yourselves. While you will have a lot of work to balance with fun, schedule your time so that you are not forced to get stingy with sleep. Sleep is very, very important. Not only does it allow you to continue to function normally, it also keeps you healthy and able to tackle your assignments with vigor.

As you strive to remain rested, add a healthy amount of leisure time to sleep. Find something that you love and make time for it, whether that is heading to the Rec Center to climb the rock wall, reading a book purely for fun, or catching up on Doctor Who. Always make time to unwind, if even for a moment, as it’s amazing what a few simple pleasures can do to enliven a person.

Accountability is also imperative to keeping oneself sane when things get hectic. Whenever I get the chance, I try to steal a moment to have a meal or quick cup of coffee with a friend to remain connected and talk through life. I am blessed to have friends at CBU who are, truly, saints. They are available to pray with me, laugh hysterically to ward off stress, or to simply talk about whatever might be on the mind. Taking moments to commune with close friends is the surest way to remain positive, stay on track with life, and remember what is most important to you.

While the semester gathers speed, don’t panic. You can avoid becoming zombie-esque. Just remember that this is a season, and we will ultimately learn so much from it all. Until next time, safe sailing everyone!

Blessed with the Best

One of my favorite parts about being at CBU is being able to live on campus.  I have lived both on and off campus, and–while I didn’t hate living off campus–it’s just such a different experience living on campus. It allows you to be a part of a special community, a community that I love being part of. Plus when you live on campus, you get to have awesome roommates.

In fact, my favorite part of living on campus is having roommates. It is such a blessing being able to live with girls who constantly encourage me and push me to further my relationship with God. That was one of the things I missed when I lived at home. Sure, I had my family as my roommates but there is something awesome about being able to live with people other than your family. It grows you in ways that you could have never imagined. It changes your perspective and allows you to see the world a little differently. It gives you an inside view of how other people operate in their day-to-day lives.

This year I was blessed with three amazing roommates. When school got out in May, Lauren was my only remaining roommate, and we had no idea who would join us in the fall. Being left with that thought at the end of the year was a little scary. It was going to be our senior year, and we didn’t want to have some crazy roommate experience. Therefore, Lauren and I began to pray. We knew that if we prayed for our future roommates and trusted in Him, everything would fall into place. Over the summer, everything started slowly falling into place.

As it turns out, one of my closest friends, Carley, was left in a room by herself, also waiting for roommates. Once I learned she was on her own, I told her we had an extra space and if she wanted it, it was hers. Of course she didn’t want to take it right away but told me she would think about it and let me know. Later in the summer, during one of our Skype visits, I told her I still had a spot available and asked if she wanted it. She said, “Yes!” From that point on we were both so excited to be roommates and live out our senior year together.

With Carley now in our apartment, Lauren and I knew that we still had room left for one more person. At this point, we knew that someone was going to be randomly placed into our room, so we all began to pray again. We finally learned the name of our final roommate, Ashley, a few weeks before school started. Like anyone would do, I searched for her on Facebook. However, she was nowhere to be found on any social media. That scared me a little bit, but I knew I just had to have faith that God had placed the right person into our apartment.

God perfectly orchestrated the placement of roommates. Ashley is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met, and she just happened to choose roommates last year that didn’t come back to CBU or decided to commute instead of living on campus.  Let me tell you, it was their loss. I have loved getting to know her and grow with her as a roommate.

It is so amazing to see firsthand how faithful God is to answer our prayers. I met Lauren our freshman year, because we lived on the same hall. I met Carley our sophomore year, because we were in the same choir. I met Ashley because she was randomly placed into our apartment this year. I don’t think I could have come up with a better room arrangement if I had done it all myself. God had a plan for this year, and it is already turning out to be better than I ever imagined. I can’t wait to see what else He has in store!

More than a Barbecue

CBU’s missionaries in residence live in a house on the edge of campus. For the time they are here, they’re working to help students from missionary families adjust and feel welcomed at CBU. Last Friday they hosted the first MK (missionary kid) barbecue event of the year, and I attended. That’s one thing you don’t know about me–I am also a missionary kid.

Just a quick explanation: I grew up in Lima, Peru, where my parents still work training and sending Latino missionaries to countries all around the world. When I was 15, my oldest brother started college at Azusa Pacific University, which resulted in my family moving to California for at least his first year. Since my other brother and I were finishing high school soon, my parents decided to keep us here until we graduated and started university as well. Needless to say, the culture shock was, well, shocking. I don’t think there is a more opposite comparison to Lima as south Orange County. It was my difficult experience in high school, however, that pushes me to be active in the MK group here at CBU.

I’ve lived in California long enough now to understand the culture and feel comfortable, but I know the new students who arrived this year will experience the same confusion I did four years ago. That’s why I walked over to the missionary’s house last week with my other MK friend, Scott Teichert, to meet some new faces. I’d been to one last year, but there wasn’t much of a turnout.

This year did not disappoint. The living room was packed with MKs from Turkey, England, South East Asia, Kenya, and more places than I can remember. There must have been at least 20 of us there, a much larger group than before. Although we all came from different cultures, we all knew how the other felt living in the U.S. for the first time. There is this mutual understanding that MKs have for each other that really brings us together. It’s hard to explain, but it’s there. As a FOCUS leader, I already met some of the MK freshmen and can’t wait to be involved with this group through the year. CBU really does welcome and help international students, which is support I wish I had when we first moved to the U.S. Now I can be a part of that, too.

Sing, Sing, Sing

Well friends, we are two and half weeks into school. For those of you who don’t know, I am in University Choir and Orchestra. We meet each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-4:30 to rehearse. I absolutely love being in this group and having the opportunity to grow as a musician.

 

If you are familiar with the choir program here at CBU, you know that before school starts we have what is called “music camp.” Basically, it is three full days of rehearsing our music for the upcoming year. This year music camp took place on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before school started. Monday camp started at 11 a.m. and we went till 9 p.m. Tuesday was from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Wednesday was from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Needless to say, they were long days filled with a lot of singing and a lot of standing. Music camp is a very rigorous and overwhelming–but rewarding–few days.

 

If you think about it, when we sing for 12 hours straight, we have the privilege of worshipping for 12 hours straight. Sure, for those 12 hours, we are pounding out parts and focusing on how we sound. However, we have the opportunity to do it all for the glory of God, and the songs we sing are worship songs. Trust me when I say there are times during music camp and even rehearsals when I forget why we are singing. There are times that I become so focused on what notes and rhythms and dynamics I am supposed to be singing that I forget that the reason I am singing is for Him.

 

If you are singing in a choir here at CBU, I would challenge you to remember why you are singing and who you are singing to. I can honestly say that it changed my whole approach to choir and changed what I have been able to take from choir. If you are not in choir, I would encourage you to come listen to one on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon.  We would love to sing to you and invite you into a time of worship.

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