The Inevitable

We are under the two-week mark, friends. Spring 2013 is almost complete.

I am at the point in my education where a great number of my friends are graduating, beginning their careers, continuing on to higher education and moving away. Many people I have looked up to as an underclassman or befriended during choir tours. In three Saturdays, as they walk across the stage as a symbol of their dedication and completion, other fellow juniors and I will be filling in the spots our dear friends vacated.

In two weeks, I am going to be a senior in college. A senior. I do not understand how. Where have my days of beginners’ bliss gone?

At the beginning of each school term, the individual schools within California Baptist University yearn for the leadership the previous class of students provided. It is up to the remaining classes to the occasion. With over 10 ensembles performing hundreds of concerts per year, the Collinsworth School of Music is known for its hands-on learning. Our professors and dean delegate jobs and tasks to some of the older and younger students to make the duties of each group inclusive, more manageable and to also keep the students accountable for their own responsibilities. That means that during fall 2013 and spring 2014, many of my senior friends and I will take on leadership roles to continue the withstanding standard and tradition of excellence for our school. I can hardly believe that I have made it to the end of my junior year let alone that I am becoming a “responsible” senior with graduation, senior Recitals and a future careers peeking around the corner!

To be honest, I’m anxious – anxious to do my best, that my best might be good enough and to learn what is necessary to begin pursuing my career after graduation. This next coming year is what I have been looking forward to since the day I left home to come to CBU. It is like waiting to finally be allowed to have a puppy, and when you pick one out and name it, you don’t really know what to do with it! Here it is, senior year, sitting in my lap, and I have no idea how to handle it! But this is the endless cycle of the educational world.

Juniors, senior friends are leaving us with their example and now empty positions. It’s our time to refill them and continue our learning.

Batter up!

 

 

Looking Forward and Living Now

Looking toward the future is something young adults encounter often, especially while in college. We question “Is this the right major?” “What career do I want to aim for?” “What should I do with my summer time off?” “How is what I’m doing now contributing to the life I hope to live after school?”

These questions seem to pop up increasingly toward the end of every jam-packed semester, leading to several late-night discussions with friends and roommates.

I am well aware of the weight of these questions. While they help set goals to aim for, they can also add unnecessary amounts of stress. It is best to address these appropriately, then use the time given in college to explore them while focusing on how to be your best in this present moment.

I demonstrated a practical depiction of what has been going on in my head earlier this week. Thankfully, it alerted me to my need to be aware and serve my God with all that I have in each day I’m given.

Okay, here’s the story: As I have said before, mornings are not my friend. However, a couple mornings ago, I muddled my way to class, coffee mug in hand, and concentrated my efforts on making it where I needed to be. I gazed directly ahead of me as I plotted my route to class and eventually succeeded in making it there.

It wasn’t until later that same day when I bumped into some friends of mine that I realized I had walked past at least two of them without waving on my trek to class. Apparently, my friends had waved emphatically and called after me to say good morning, and I had absolutely no clue they had done so. I continued on my merry way, totally oblivious.

After this happened, I realized exactly how much I have let my thoughts take over. Even though it was a groggy morning for me, I couldn’t get out of my head and notice what was right in front of me. This made me realize that I really must pay more attention.

While I become single-minded in accomplishing simple goals, such as making it to a morning class, I also tend to be very futuristic. This does come in handy when it comes to studying for finals, writing research papers and making summer plans. However, I am once again realizing the importance of focusing on the present time and making the most of it.

As all CBU students are well aware, the end of the semester is nigh and summer rapidly approaches. In these final weeks, try to use the time to strive for excellence in each class, tell your roommates you appreciate them and invest time in your friends. We all know exactly where each other are at, and we can serve each other in love until we meet the end of another wonderful year at this university.

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.

Kinda Deep

The countdown has begun! Finals will begin in a couple of weeks and summer break is on the horizon! I’ve had a wonderful time this semester, meeting new friends and experiencing new things.

I got the chance to play intramural basketball, which was a blast. I received much needed inspiration from the many guest speakers at chapel and even watched my first live NBA game. Let’s not forget that I received a quality education from quality professors at a quality university.

CBU has done for me just about everything a parent would do for their child, with the exception of disciplining me. CBU has fed me, clothed me, consoled me, entertained me, and sheltered me this semester. I have experienced things here that I would not have attending another school. These are things that cling to hearts and will not be forgotten. I challenge everyone to indulge in the bliss that is “Life @ CBU.” Your time spent at this university only comes once in life, so make the best of it. Friendships and relationships constructed here can and should last a lifetime.

Some of you will be graduating after this semester and will go out into the world. You should share the joy that God and CBU has brought to your life with the rest of the world. Indeed, it will be nice to get a break from studying, long lines and quizzes every week, but the overall environment will be missed. Even though the semester is coming to an end, our lives are just beginning. Live your purpose guys!!!

My Survival Guide

It is that time of the semester once again. Deadlines are looming over us much too close for comfort. Scheduling for next semester’s classes has arrived, and summer approaches must faster than it seemed possible.

However, I am so glad I have experienced all this before. Now I have the opportunity to prepare myself for what lies ahead. I wish I had the opportunity to tip my past self off so that I could have better prepared for the ending of my first spring semester.

Since, unfortunately, I cannot go back in time and share insight with my younger self, I might as well share it here for all who may be interested in a few tips that have worked for me in past experiences.

 

  1. Catch up on sleep on the weekends. The end of the semester is really busy. There is a temptation to power through all of your assignments and skip sleep in the process. However, it is much better to work ahead. If faced with the decision to stay up studying rather than sleep, be sure to sneak some naps in and catch up on sleep over the weekend. It is not worth risking your health and becoming absolutely miserable to take finals while not feeling your best.
  2. Talk to your professors. Our professors are wonderful. They are absolutely the best. If you have any questions about a project or an upcoming exam, go by their office and ask them. Professors would love to talk to you and spend the time helping you succeed. Also, if you find yourself unsure of which classes to take for the next semester, your professors would love to walk you through all of your options and help you decide.
  3. Call home. The summer is coming up quickly, and with it will bring a lot of changes. If, like me, you are planning on moving back home for the summer, your schedule will drastically differ from what it includes now. It is valuable to talk to your family about your plans, goals and expectations for the summer so that you can both plan more easily. Also, contact your friends and begin to make plans. This will give you something to look forward to. Plan on starting a Bible study or accountability group so that your time together will be edifying. Being in constant communication with your family and friends about your summer plans will help all of you to make a smooth transition into summer life.
  4. Send out the troops. If looking for a summer job, your family or friends from back home can send out feelers to let you know might be available. This will allow you to gather options and decide where you might want to apply.
  5. Consider taking summer classes. This is pretty straightforward. Summer classes can propel you closer toward graduation. They are also great ways to fill your time and keep you productive year-round.
  6. Do not panic. The end of the semester should be a time to remain focused and enjoy learning in your area of interest. Do not let stress replace prayer, and take breaks when you are feeling overwhelmed. Remember why you are here, and gather up your energy to finish the semester strong.

 

The end of an academic year need not be a cause for panic. Take the time to enjoy the days that go by, and invest in the company of other students experiencing the same thing. We are here for each other, and we can tackle the upcoming days together.

I hope my checklist will be of some use to you. Just remember: all seasons pass and all are meant to be fully lived. Make it a great week, and let us make this semester go out with a bang.

Eternal Family

Family (n.):

4. any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins
5. all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor

Family? That is the definition of family? Okay. What if mine is scattered across the country, or divorced into multiple families, or what if I’m completely alone with no family? What then? Who is my family then?

I am part of the “severed and broken family” category. I am no theologian, nor do I study the Word as often as I should, but through what Scripture says about community, I have learned to make family wherever I go, as many other students at CBU have also discovered how to do. CBU is a portion of the body of Christ. We are a community of Believers, Hopers, Prayers, Lovers, Studiers, and Conquerors, united not by a name or family tree, but by the Father’s Son, whose death and resurrection granted us the opportunity for our names to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life – the one, true and eternal family tree.

Man was not created to be alone, as God said amid His creation, developing the idea of community and togetherness through Adam and Eve’s wedded union as the first man and wife. As the earth populated, full and teeming with life as well as sin, the cusp of humanity – the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah – brought to fullness the essentiality of the eternal family. In Matthew 12, as Jesus heals the lame and sick and is speaking, His earthly family request that they speak with Him, but He replies, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” and gesturing to His disciples, He establishes His family: “Here are my mother and brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” In that passage, He re-determines the definition of family to being a spiritual bond rather than a physical bond.

This school, overflowing with faith, wisdom, knowledge, companionship, and servanthood, is one of the most unique places we will be throughout our lives. With more than 6,000 students, most professing Christians, and hundreds of faculty with a 100 percent Bible-believing faith, we have the opportunity to build a family onto the Living Stone, the resurrected Christ, that will be of the eternal kind – the kind that the Father knits closer together than that of our own kinfolk because it seeks to do the work for His Kingdom together as one body. It is our duty to build up the Body, encouraging one another, bearing one another’s burdens, daily dying to our own desires for that of a brother or sister, so that when the world looks into our faces, they may see Christ looking back at them. As many other students can say along with me, I knew this was where I was meant to be. I could feel the Spirit moving through the community, patching together torn and empty hearts with the love and support of other God-fearing followers of Christ, bonding each student to the next to form one singular community.

Physically, I may not share blood with another student here nor bear the same family name, but because of the eternally-claiming blood spilled on Calvary, we spiritually have been named as God’s children – a bond that will transcend any earthly, relational name or family, lasting for all eternity in our Father’s heavenly house.

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.

 

Exploration

It seems that, from our campus, we can reach some major places like Disneyland, Downtown LA, Newport Beach, or Lake Arrowhead in about 45 minutes. I know, I know – who could possibly want to go outside of this all-inclusive CBU resort? – but on a weekend when feeling adventurous, these places are at our fingertips. It’s okay, escaping to a new land can be extremely exciting and liberating, full of craziness, happiness, and/or absolute confusion. As long as someone has Siri, we are our own tour guides (I’m convinced she is my fairy godmother: “Here’s the traffic for the 405,” “I found 14 Starbucks fairly close to you,” “Rerouting…”).

Fortunately enough for me, my sister and her husband live in a cozy, 1920s, old Hollywood apartment building about five minutes from downtown LA. This past Easter weekend, my best friend Kylie and I made the trek over the 60 and 101 to LA for a relaxing, (maybe, possibly, if we’re not too tired) adventurous, and cultured weekend with my favorite sister, Alison, and brother-in-law, Manny. As they worked Thursday, Friday, and Monday, we knew we would be at our leisure in their lovely apartment. Apart from a scheduled Downton Abbey marathon, a movie Saturday morning, and church Easter Sunday, we were left to our own muses (aka food, drink, and culture).

Naturally, everyone must do a little bit of exploring on a trip to a “foreign” place. Kylie and I became connoisseurs for a couple of days, trying Thai dishes, Korean barbecued meat skewers, Mexican favorites, and Italian paninis, as well as Boba (my first time… I was feeling adventurous!) and a local and well-known donut shop. All are within a 15-minute radius of our “weekend home,” might I add.

Our very own North Colony residence director, Becca Magnuson, recommended a retro, enormous, artsy bookshop called The Last Book Store to quench our thirst for literary entertainment for the weekend, so after Siri directed us (and rerouted us because of my driving challenges) to this place, we walked in utterly overwhelmed. A two-story bookstore, complete with book, loose-leaf page, and book binding wall art, with more than 100,000 books upstairs alone (all books upstairs $1… I kid you not). We were lost in paradise! In the downtown area alone, the blocks are bursting with life and opportunities for our imaginations. With major cities so close to us, as well as places saturated with culture, history, and wonderfully different people, create an interestingly curious area that we students should definitely take advantage of.

Take your Saturday and explore.

Here are the websites to our adventures this weekend:

http://www.itsthainoodle.com/
(Me: Kung Pao chicken; Kylie: Orange Chicken)

http://www.yelp.com/biz/toe-bang-los-angeles
(Both: Chicken and Beef Barbecued Skewers)

http://www.elcoyotecafe.com/
(Me: Tortilla Soup; Kylie: Shredded Beef Burrito)

http://visitkoreatown.org/the-boba-time-6th-street/
(Me: Strawberry Watermelon Slush, Strawberry Peach Smoothie with Boba; Kylie: Strawberry Banana Smoothie with Boba, Strawberry Peach Smoothie with Boba)

http://randys-donuts.com/
(Both: Maple and Chocolate Bars, Glazed and Sprinkled Donuts)

http://lastbookstorela.com/
(Both: More books than we should have)

Waking Up

I count myself considerably blessed to attend a university that challenges me to pursue Christ, even in the midst of a 90-minute morning class. Personally, I find it difficult to stay alert in morning classes, let alone find exhortation in them.

One might say that I am not a morning person. Okay, that was an understatement. In the mornings, I am a barely-functioning zombie of an individual. My mornings generally consist of me struggling to prepare myself to enter the outside world and present myself as a sane person. I begin by treating my alarm clock with unnecessary animosity, and then start the long process of sliding myself out of bed and gradually onto the floor in order to doze as long as possible. I generally don’t find the motivation to move until one of my roommates steps on me. I then ready myself for the day in slow, sleepy steps and do not speak to anyone until I have at least a full cup of coffee.

It’s safe to say that morning classes have always been rough for me. While I love lectures and could happily sit in a classroom all day, I have a hard time fully participating in class until about 11 a.m. (A tip for those of you who have the same problem: eating an apple in the morning helps you to feel energized, and it also helps to bring a mug of coffee to class. If you’re accident-prone like me, bring a lid.) One can imagine, then, that I struggle to remain alert in my 9:30 Global Studies course.

But I digress!

During class time earlier this week, I struggled with fatigue when my professor managed to grab my attention. I was brought to full awareness as he discussed the Great Commission and how we as Christians should respond to it. You all have heard the verses:

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

Immediately my ears perked up, and I rejoiced at the fact that I get to learn and discuss these things in the classroom! My professor was bent on reiterating this command to us. He went into a discussion of its practical application and implored us all to live on purpose for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. The Lord has saved us and given us the opportunity to share this Gospel with others. CBU is especially focused on missions, as students and staff take the Great Commission seriously and live it out. What a way to turn a morning around!

Despite my morning stupor, this subject never fails to grab me and leave me in awe of God’s plan for His disciples. It was so refreshing once again to see how the faculty at CBU shares a common goal in encouraging students to seek and follow Christ. It takes statements of intense purpose to wake me up, and I pray that Christ’s commission will continue to wake up sleepers as he uses His disciples to reach the nations.

Party like a Lancer!

Recently, CBU sponsored a trip to see the Los Angeles Clippers play at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. For those of you who aren’t fans, the L.A. Clippers are that other basketball team L.A. has. Our school is always giving back to students in various ways throughout the semester. Considering the fact that I’ve never been to a professional sporting event, I had to take advantage of this. Of course the trip wasn’t free but where else can you get tickets for $35? The tickets included admission, transportation and a meal, which was awesome!

A group of us met here at the school on Saturday afternoon to be transported to the Staples Center. While waiting for the bus I fellowshipped and made some new friends. As with all CBU events, we prayed before we began our journey. Once the bus picked us up, it was like we had an invisible police escort on the freeway. We had no problem navigating through traffic on the way to the game.

We arrived at the Staples Center early and had plenty of time to take pictures, eat and find our seats. We had our own section in the nose bleed seats! During the game a camera man from a local television station filmed us for a short period of time. The game was exciting and very eventful and it “went down to the wire,” or was close. I had a wonderful experience at my first NBA basketball game with CBU. This is another example of why I love being a Lancer and around such great group of people. I can hardly wait for my next BIG adventure with CBU. By the way, the Clippers won the game by four.

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