Dresses, Reps, and T.W.I.R.P. — Oh My!

This past week was an important one for first-time freshmen here on the campus of CBU. We were introduced to some of CBU’s old and new traditions, including Tower Hall’s first ever ladies’ photoshoot, campaigning for the student government freshmen representative position, and the classic “T.W.I.R.P.” week.

I think my roommates would agree with me if I were to say that two days into this week, we’re already walking deadweights from everything that’s been spilling into our schedules—but in a very good way. I would definitely consider this past week to have been an introductory “true college experience” for all us freshies.

Last Thursday at 5 p.m., my roommates and I ran outside to catch up with the other train of Tower Hall ladies, pumped for our very first photoshoot. We quickly realized how alienated we were beside all the dresses and curls, so we smiled awkwardly, backpedaled, and came back more suitably decked out.

A few minutes later, all of us girls assembled ourselves in front of a rusty old truck, using fun props like an empty picture frame and rustic, unhinged door for embellishment, and snapped a bucket load of cheesy, adorable pictures. That next half hour was filled with childish giggling and girly bonding that I’m sure none of us will forget very soon. I can’t wait to see the finished products!

That same lighthearted Thursday marked one of the most pressured days of the school year for some of CBU’s determined freshmen representative candidates. I remember one of my sweet roommates, Lydia Nolen, staring a hole in her application as she scrambled to come up with the perfect statement of why she is interested in running for the position of freshmen president and thinking of how gosh-darn proud I was of her for pursuing such an admirable goal. (She’d make a great rep, you guys, just sayin’).

As elections have commenced, so have the sightings of big rep campaign posters, entertaining rep videos, and a surprise from one of the reps, who decided to send her poster out to every nearby wireless freshman printer. Surprise!

While the photoshoot and continuing election process have both been significant influences this past week here at CBU, nothing has been as much as a standout as the classic T.W.I.R.P. week, which stands for “The Woman Is Required to Pay.”

Tuesday morning, my roommates and I rolled out of bed at 5 a.m., made our zombie trot across campus to the Community Life Office, and stumbled sleepily into the already very long line of girls ready to buy tickets for T.W.I.R.P. events. The line consisted of many pairs of yoga pants, scraggly knots of hair, and fuzzy blankets. A few sleepy troopers had actually laid down on the ground and fallen asleep (I salute them).

While I, unfortunately, never made it to the front of the line because of my once-a-week 8 o’clock class (it’s way too fun to be missed!), I and those who also were unable to buy tickets will still have the opportunity to take our men out for Monday’s free coffee house T.W.I.R.P. event and Wednesday’s original “create a date evening” (I’m still trying to convince my boyfriend to let me drive for that one). So truly, there’s something for everyone, and now all us girls are counting the hours until we get to reverse roles for a week and treat our significant others – or, simply a best friend – to a good CBU time.

Reflection upon this week has led me to become very excited about whatever next week will hold. CBU seems to offer endless opportunities to their students to learn, grow, and enjoy life together.

Blessings on this next week! You’ll be hearing from me very soon,

Natalie :)


Life, Stories, and a Multitude of Drops

I absolutely adore books. Not only do they prove to be informative, imaginative, and insightful, they have the ability to touch places within me that resonate for years thereafter. As Josh Riebock so eloquently puts it in Heroes and Monsters, “I have a crush on words.”

I was blessed enough to spend a great deal of time over the summer becoming acquainted with a variety of different stories and “crushing” on each of them in their turn. From Victorian novels, young adult literature, science fiction tales and everything in between, I found for the umpteenth time exactly how powerfully books can speak and how they can effectively inspire me to action. I believe that God uses both information and stories to move us to personal enlightenment and to inspire us to improve upon the world around us.

I found an example of this as I sat through chapel this week and was challenged to take a leap of faith and a larger act of service. We viewed a presentation from the CBU Office of Mobilization and were encouraged to apply to serve on an International Service Project (ISP).  This program allows students to raise the funds to travel to another country and do short-term missions in the hopes of bringing both help and hope to individuals encountered along the way.

As I sat through this presentation, I sensed the innumerable doubts that people around me might have in deciding whether or not to join a project. I know that, personally, my biggest fear when it comes to missions is the fear that I would not be able to do enough in that period of time to make a strong enough impact. How could I possibly hope to effectively serve another person whom I will only get a few weeks to be with?

I quickly answered my own question by thinking of a quote from a novel I read just weeks before the semester began.

In the story, a man had determined to abandon his previous career to become an abolitionist during the days that slavery was prevalent throughout the world. He imagined the arguments that others would provide to discourage this new path and responded with such simplicity and clarity. Another character frankly told the character, “Only as you gasp out your final breath will you realize that your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean.” The new abolitionist responds with, “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas)

In the novel, I saw how the power of stories gives clarity to my own life. The character in the book addresses that, while the world has many problems to tackle, each person, each drop in a vast sea makes a difference. Each part helps to shape the whole.

I realize that while ISP is just one small way that we can be of service to others, it is nonetheless a valuable opportunity to make some mark on another person or group of people. No amount of time spent in service is too small and not one day spent loving others is too short. Every bit of energy placed into helping other people is certainly not wasted. One need only take the opportunity to serve and give their all to showing love in that service.

I am no more than a young American woman who has determined to live a life pursuing truth and service to the Creator and His people. I have nothing more than what I have been given, but I am constantly learning how my gifts can be used to contribute to the world. We can all act upon the opportunities we are given and use our knowledge to serve in whatever means possible. While this certainly is a big endeavor, the words of the character in David Mitchell’s novel communicate the truth that God values all of His people, and He will use us to make an impact on the world.

Service, in my eyes, always begins with an opportunity and a willingness to seize it. We have been born into different families, situations and economic statuses, yet we all have unique abilities that can and should be used for the benefit of our fellow man. God has created (and commanded) us to serve each other, and in this service we are to show others the same love that we believe the Creator has for each of us. We can all be used in any number of ways to achieve this goal, and we all have to begin somewhere. Let us use our single drop to benefit the multitude.

Leading and Enjoying New Student Orientation

CBU’s New Student Orientation is like no other. The university not only organizes a series of exciting events and worshipful sessions, but also demonstrates the unity between CBU staff and students. The time put in by all of the departments and student leaders sends a message that CBU truly cares about its students. I feel privileged to say that I contributed to that.

It was only a year ago when I was one of those nervous freshmen moving into Smith Hall carrying my guitar in one hand and keeping my nervous anticipation to myself. I remember meeting my hall mates and countless others while I was directed between different informational sessions, group games and worship services. Thinking back, I really didn’t know what was going on most of the time. I just followed the crowds of unfamiliar faces and let the friendly CBU upperclassmen show me the ropes.

This year, however, I was the friendly FOCUS Leader answering campus questions and hi-fiving every freshmen that passed by. Something I learned quickly this year was that my role as student leader greatly contrasted my role from last year. There is so much planning that goes on before the event, and during the weekend it was our job to keep it running smoothly.

The FOCUS team definitely stayed busy, but we loved being there every second. Right from the beginning on Thursday morning I was there at the first tables welcoming new students and handing them their ID cards and orientation name tags. It was exciting to know that I was a part of their first impression of CBU. That energy pushed me through the rest of the day which varied from moving students into Tower Hall and Simmons to handing out Lancer shirts at check-in. True, that did involve several trips carrying boxes of clothes and hangers up and down staircases, but I was feeling just as excited, if not more so, than the students I was helping. Just knowing how much fun they would have this weekend was enough to make me forget that I was even working. I can’t really call it work if I’m enjoying every minute of it. Then I met the students in my FOCUS group that night, and it was just amazing to talk with them and hear about their lives and impressions of CBU. From there, the weekend passed by quickly with fun events like Clash N Bowl and Price is Right. I honestly had more fun being a leader during all of these events than I did experiencing them last year.

That joy we felt while helping all of the new students really made the weekend special for us all. I definitely had no idea that I could have so much fun directing lost parents to info sessions or seeing freshmen reactions to the ADC. I can’t wait until next year to do it all again.

The Beginning of the End

As we started the first week of school, I had already been living on campus and living CBU life for almost a month.  For those of you who don’t know, I am an RA in West Colony. For three weeks we had training and prepared for all of our residents to move on campus. These weeks were packed full of sessions and staff bonding.  The days were long but extremely rewarding.

The first weekend that we were on campus all the staffs went on separate staff retreats. Let’s rewind to a few weeks before move-in day. West Colony staff received an e-mail from our boss, Ian, in which he stated his excitement for us to move-in and begin training. He also included two articles, one on fasting and the other on solitude, strongly encouraging us to read the articles before training. Fast forward a few weeks and we received another e-mail from our graduate assistant giving us a packing list, which consisted of the following:

- One change of clothes (make sure to bring pants and a jacket included in that)

- Re-usable water bottle

- Bible

- Journal

- Pens

- Flashlight (or headlamp)

- Sleeping bag

- Bug spray

- Closed-toed shoes

From the two e-mails I received I came to two conclusions:  First, we were definitely going camping. Second, we were going to be taking part in solitude and fasting.

We arrived in Big Bear around 10 p.m., when it was dark and cold. We were told to set up the two tents we had without talking—team bonding experience number one.  Putting up the tents went surprisingly well, and they stayed intact the entire weekend. We went to bed and after a long night of trying to get comfortable and stay warm, morning came. We got ready for the day and headed to our meeting spot, where we did a Bible study and were told the tasks we were going to complete for the day.  We were going to be fasting and partaking in solitude until 5 p.m., which amount to about seven hours.

Seven hours of solitude sounds like it would be awful, but honestly it wasn’t that bad. Here is what my time of solitude looked like: read my Bible, journal/pray, repeat. Seven hours seems like a long time to do these three things, but it was amazing. You see, the few weeks leading up to move-in day some crazy things had been happening in my life, and I wasn’t exactly wanting to talk to God about it. However, seven hours with just God and myself led to the interaction I needed. This time of solitude forced me to see what was really in my heart and how I really felt about things that were happening. It is amazing what God reveals to you when you just sit, read, pray, and be still. He revealed so many things to me that day, and it was wonderful.

After our time of solitude and fasting, we had dinner. This was probably the quietest meal we had throughout all of training because we were all starving, considering we had been fasting for about 24 hours. We played games and made s’mores for the remainder of Saturday night. Sunday we woke up early and headed down the mountain to Sandals for church, in all our camping glory.

That weekend grew us closer as a staff, even though we didn’t talk for most of it and also grew my walk with Christ. Solitude and fasting for a day was so much greater then I thought it would be. It was a great way to start off my last year here at CBU and helped me to start the year with a good mindset.


Toothbrush, shampoo, mascara, phone charger, phone… oh, shoot!

Move in day, in a nutshell. You’re practically shaking with a blend of anticipation, excitement, and fear – altogether a complete nervous wreck.

Move in day. Today marks a lot of “firsts” for a first-time freshman. Your first time choosing your own schedule, first time being allowed to have coffee in class, first time buying your own cereal… But it especially marks the first time that a college student will have the perhaps daunting opportunity make every decision, day in and day out, on their own.

Your mind foams over with the typical, “What if I get lost on the way to class?” “What if I forget something?” “What if I don’t get along with my roommates?” and suddenly your hands go a little clammy.

Fast forward almost two weeks later. This morning I’m sitting at my desk in a freshman apartment of Tower Hall (by far the best freshman living, by the way – I highly recommend it!), sipping a mug of hot chocolate, still in my pajamas and calmly checking the time every few minutes (because I don’t have class until ten), reflecting on what an astounding two weeks I’ve already experienced here at CBU.

My lovely roommates and I at our first orientation chapel service. Lots of fun!

With proper preparation, all of the concerns voiced above can certainly be demolished. For those of you readers who may be in the boat I was in just a year ago – a high school senior looking ahead to the prospect of college – these are things you can certainly begin mulling over before choosing where to go.

I may be just starting out this “college thing,” but I definitely some “hot-off-the-grill” advice to offer. :)

The concern of getting lost before class? Well, that one’s easy. Have a friend show you around the day before, or even ask a professor or advisor on campus to help you out, before getting lost.

Make yourself a checklist to glance at each morning before leaving your room. Keys, ID card, books… and, don’t forget writing utensils! Yes, those are still used.

As for your roommates – well, an argument carries two ends. Be the end that refuses to argue. Be the end that simplifies issues before they become complicated. Take the top bunk if no one wants it… believe me, it’s worth that initial pain of trying to set your sheets without being able to see them (or, maybe I’m just short).

And most importantly, make the process of choosing a college a critical one. I’m blessed to be here at CBU, where advisors are always present (whether in the form of an adult or fellow student), and the culture consistently warm and welcoming. I chose this school on purpose, because I know what kind of a person I am, and what it takes to make myself feel at home.

All in all, I’ll end with this. College isn’t nearly as scary as it is sometimes made up to be. Remember to let God in on the decision making process. After all, His input is the key to developing what CBU so encourages to their students – a life’s purpose.

Good luck! Maybe I’ll see you around next year. :)

And So It Begins!

Welcome, Readers, to my little corner of the Internet in which I get to tell you about my life as a student at California Baptist University! I hope that in sharing my thoughts and experiences, I will be able to give you an accurate picture of what life is like at CBU. I can assure you that there will be countless high points, several random excursions, and undoubtedly, an innumerable amount of lessons to be learned. So buckle up, grab a cup of your favorite caffeinated drink and let’s get started!

For those of you whom I have not had the opportunity to meet, I naturally have to begin with an introduction. I am now a junior at CBU (how’d I get so old?) and am studying English and Film. My homework mainly consists of reading books and watching movies, and then writing about why I love them and how this applies to my life, faith, and future. My area of study truly brings me an inexpressible amount of joy; I get to learn about the things that I love! In addition to studying books and movies, I also adore coffee, cats, British television, indie folk music, and long conversations with lovely people. That, friends, is me in a nutshell!

I consider myself to be a passionate student seeking to honor the God I serve in my studies and future plans. One of the reasons I originally chose to attend CBU, and what makes it a joy to return, is that the community offered here is honestly one in a million. The start of each new semester reminds me of just how fortunate we are to be on a campus that empowers us to pursue faith, engage culture, and simply “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 ESV). The minute I set foot on campus, I feel welcomed and at ease. After four months away, I cherished my return and am reminded of the countless things to be thankful for.

While the end of summertime brings with it homework, busy schedules, and limited television time (unless you happen to be a film major), it also brings an entirely new set of adventures to embark on. Returning to college after a long summer away is a sort of homecoming, as we are all reunited with our friends and professors and get the opportunity to catch up with each other. We also get to see new faces and facilities, and these provide the promise of countless new memories to be made. Life at this marvelous university enables me to enjoy all of the above and consistently reminds me of the goodness of our Creator in his faithfulness and persistent love for us. In a reunion with roommates and classmates, He has showed me love abundantly and reminded me that life is an adventure to be had in community with others. Each new passage of life never fails to remind me of the blessings I have received in my life, and I pray that this year brings growth both academically and spiritually for all of us.

As we begin our new year at school, let’s try our best to keep in mind the privilege it is to study here with our friends and strive to learn all that we can from each other. Be sure to enjoy the late night roommate sing offs, the Fro Yo breaks, and, of course, the unplanned deep discussions over tea.  I never cease to be amazed at my own journey through life at CBU, and I am excited to share with you all and give you a glimpse of the excitement and beauty of collegiate adventures. Enjoy the return to school and soak in as much as you possibly can. Until next week, Readers, here’s to the return of naps, last minute trips to In n Out, coffee after five o clock, and so much more to be learned!



The End

“Abigail! I saw you on the CBU page for Lancer Diaries! I didn’t know you wrote for them!”

Since Lancer Diaries has been on the CBU webpage as one of the banners, I’ve gotten this statement at least once a week. The flush of my cheeks could testify to the humility I feel upon receiving the acknowledgement. Who would’ve known that professors and friends of mine would take interest in a blog I write, some of them reading my blogs weekly! I would never have guessed. When my boyfriend, Chris, told me about the position during the summer before Fall ’12, he and I both thought it would be a great position for me to apply for, considering my love for writing. I had no clue, though, that in being hired, people would actually read something I had written. It has been humbling knowing that prospective students, current students, and professors have been reading my writing, much that has been personal and sometimes quite raw, and actually enjoying it. Talk about exceeding my expectations.

I’m not a journaler. I haven’t kept a diary since I was in 7th grade when I was so in love with Whatshisname. Still, though, I like to say to my friends and family that for me, the thoughts, ideas, dreams, and worries I have in my head every day don’t become concrete until I say them out loud, or even become tangible until I write them. I must admit, though, that writing out what’s on my heart in this humble blog of mine has been most gratifying. I was able to express my thoughts on education and my own life events, sharing pieces of who I am, and also think of helpful hints for fellow students experiencing stress. In doing so, I was able to externally process my heartfelt emotions as well as write a personal prescription for the stresses in my own schedule. Sometimes, my heart was grievous and heavy, and others it was joyful, always rejoicing in God’s sovereignty. In all of it, I have learned a little bit more of who I am – the light with the dark, beautiful with the ugly. Keeping this little blog for CBU exceeded my expectations not only in the humility factor, but also in the area of self-discovery.

Each time an acquaintance, friend, or professor acknowledged this Lancer’s diary, my heart fluttered in flattery and bashfulness, but isn’t that how we Christ-followers should respond to our responsibilities – out of humility and heartfelt joy? That we are dedicating our utmost focus and ability to glorifying our Lord through our work, incorporating bits of who we are as individuals into creating something beautiful in the sight of God? Being made in God’s image, our Creator, we have been given an air of creativity to express into everything we do. What an honor and privilege! This blog has been just that… a responsibility that has enabled me to communicate the creativity the Creator continues to bless me with. I’ve enjoyed it!

Friends, thank you for reading – for the humility it has caused me to feel, for letting me delve into the depths of my heart to share with you, and for allowing me to express God’s hand in my life through creativity.

Final Thoughts

During my short time as a student blogger here at CBU, I have explained a few of my ideas. Recently, I wrote about self -acceptance. I believe that one must accept themselves as an individual and be comfortable with who they are.

Too many times young people get caught up in the glamour that is hollywierd. Today’s society tells us that you have to be a certain way to be accepted in life. Men are to be at least 6 feet tall with washboard abs and a strong jaw line. Women should be tall, thin, with long hair and plump lips. These ideas are concepts that the media and pop culture have made popular.

In my blog, I explained that most of the people we see pictured in the media and often held up as role models don’t really look like they are portrayed. A lot of digital editing and airbrushing goes into the final appearance that we see online and in person.

I watched a film on the subject in one of my classes last year. I was surprised to learn that most of the models we see in magazines or on television look like normal people with normal bodies. The point I tried to get across was that we have to be ourselves and accept ourselves as God intended us. I also asked why it is that so many people stress themselves out trying to fit into what society views as the norm. Young Americans are constantly going out of their way or comfort zones to be someone they’re not. Too many people alter themselves to please others and not themselves.

To see an example of what I’m talking about, click on this link and watch the video: http://youtu.be/7rSjh52fGTg

As we go into the summer months, I challenge you to remember the motto we have at CBU: “Live Your Purpose.” Remember that no one can live your purpose but you—and no one else can be you, either. This summer, work on being yourself and the person God intended you to be. I’ll bet you’ll be happier for it.

Have a blessed summer CBU!!!

Thanks for Sticking Around!

Friends, we are coming amazingly close to the end of yet another fabulous year in school. What does it feel like, you ask? I’m still caught between euphoria and disbelief. On one hand, I am ecstatic to complete another semester and spend some quality homework-free time with friends and family. On the other hand, I am dazed at how quickly my sophomore year has flown by. So much has been packed into this year that I had convinced myself that it will never end, and now I am trying to get used to calling myself a soon-to-be junior in college.

While I am in the midst of finals week, I am immensely thankful for a few moments I get to spare spending time on my couch, listening to Simon and Garfunkel, and reflecting on how richly I have been blessed over the course of my second year at CBU. While I have encountered difficulties as well as triumphs, I can honestly say that I have learned so much this year and am so thankful for each new experience.

In summary, I would like to point out some of my greatest highlights over the course of the past year.

  • Living in an apartment was an entirely new experience. For the first time in my young adult life, I felt like a grown up with a place away from home to share with roommates. Living in the Colony on campus meant community, a kitchen, and more room to decorate. While there were these perks to apartment life, it also meant needing to buy our own cleaning supplies and toiletries, but that is something we all have to learn sooner rather than later. Overall, I have adored living in the on-campus apartments and with three wonderful women I am proud to call roommates. We studied together and burned cookies together, and those are moments I will not easily forget. Roomies, I will miss you so much over the summer, but there will be visits, I promise! I love you all and thank you so much for adding so much to the goodness of this year.
  • I really dove into my major classes this past year, and learned so much from each of them. I did not think that it was possible for me to become more passionate about literature than I already was, but after learning from some incredible professors, my passion has increased tenfold. My professors have even helped to awaken new passions in me, as I have recently declared a minor in film studies, which I am ecstatic to dive into. The classes offered at CBU and the caring, intelligent professors heighten the university’s integrity, and provide students with opportunities to grow so much in their academic abilities. I am so excited to continue my education here next year and in the years beyond.
  • As always, I have to express my gratitude for the people I have met at CBU who have provided me with incredibly edifying friendships and have pushed me constantly closer to the God we serve. I have made priceless friendships with like-minded people who are all passionate about learning and growing together, and I know that this year would not have been nearly as wonderful without them. My friends are responsible for countless great conversations over many a cup of coffee, and for side-splitting laughs that helped us to relieve stress and remind ourselves that life is a beautiful, enjoyable endeavor. Over the summer I will miss the concerts, the trips to Late Night Briscos, the movies, and the constant companionship, but I cannot wait for more to come. Next year, I know I can continue to grow, laugh, and learn with all of my wonderful friends, and I know that together we will continue to make the most of our experience as students at CBU.

This past year at CBU has been extraordinarily wonderful, and as eventful as I could have hoped for. God continues to bless me with opportunities to serve, learn, and experience life here, and I have really adored the wonderful ride that my sophomore year has been. Readers and friends, you are so valued and I pray that the end of this year brings with it as much blessing as was brought throughout. Thank you for enjoying this beautiful life at CBU with me!

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!

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