On People, and the Fullness of Life

Friends, the week has begun, once again, with countless reminders of why I love life as a student on a campus such as this. Even the driest bits of my daily routine are so full of simple joys that I really can’t complain at all. The “low” point of this past week consisted of me, half-consumed coffee in hand, hair a mess, and hurrying off to print off a paper I needed for the next class. I was interrupted by a ginormous, unexpected hug from a dear friend who filled me with affirmation and then sent me on my way. While I did have to continue in my jam-packed schedule and do my best in accomplishing each assignment to the best of my ability, the simple interruption of a little positivity made even a hectic point memorable for a very different reason.

As I thought about this instance and various other points this week that have made me realize how ridiculously blessed I am, I began to wonder why exactly these things make such a difference. What is it about simple joys and people that make my days so much more full and encouraging? I can’t pinpoint this exactly, but I have found numerous levels of appreciation for the ways in which blessings come.

As we go through life as young adults, we’ll experience innumerable changing seasons and decisions. We will run into financial difficulties as we learn how to work harder and budget the money we earn. We will face uncertainty as we plan for our future lives. And, as classes and life in general catches up with us, we will occasionally feel the stress of it all mount up to be a menacing, seemingly untamable beast. These elements of life, mixed in with the joys of new relationships, successes, and adventures, make for a richness of experience, assuming we stay in community with those experiencing all of this with us.

In college especially, we all can relate to each other in the sense that we are all experiencing similar things at the same time. We were created as communal creatures, and we are made to share life with each other in order to glean as much as we can from it. Not only can we share concerns and triumphs, we can walk with each other through it all and, in doing so, learn much from ourselves and each other. We all will have both positive and negative experiences in life, yet what makes it really rich and worthwhile is the people we choose to share it with. Whether that comes in the form of a homework group, coffee break, date night, or a simple late-night conversation, our lives become so richly blessed by our experiences and our choices to share them with others.

Being filled up to the brim only makes me think of ways I want to return the favor to this world that I love so much. While I receive love through my roommates, classmates, and friends I am so fortunate to know, I pray I can share love with each of them in kind. By slowing down and looking up from my busy way to see whoever is in front of me, I can seek out opportunities to bless others. A challenge for all of us this week: speak slowly, take a different, slower route to class, and take the time to tell each person in your life why they matter to us. We are living life together, and can make it all the more gorgeous by investing in each other in any way we can, simple or otherwise. Readers, be blessed and be a blessing, and I’ll see you next week.

“The TRUE College Experience”

I’ve heard many times that, while academics is definitely a priority of the college student, a student cannot fully have “the TRUE college experience” without hobbies, friends, and time left aside for devotionals to keep their academic schedule company. By this time (almost halfway through the first semester of freshman year), a student has either developed that healthy balance or found themselves dangling on either side of the fence.

What’s nice about living on campus at CBU…  well, that’s an understatement. What’s great about living on campus at CBU is that opportunities to excel academically, invest socially, and thrive spiritually literally polka dot the everyday life of a Lancer.

I am a graphic design major with a concentration in photography – in other words, I’m involved the “art” program here (otherwise known as CAVAD – College of Architecture, Visual Arts, and Design). This essentially means that my classes consist of observing a lot of photographs and vector graphics, learning computer tricks, and exercising my ability to think like a designer… which is pretty fun, I might add.

This past week was a busy one for sure, but I was definitely immersed as a student into the understanding of a balanced academic, social, and spiritual life. I found myself succeeding in this not because I intended to, but because of the many opportunities offered for me to do so.

For me, a very fine line divides homework and hobbies. When my homework consists of photo shoots and designing, I can hardly call it “work” at all. Over the past two weeks I prepared 400 photos to submit for my first photo shoot assignment. I used what knowledge I have gained so far this year every step of the way – I brainstormed, I sketched ideas, I found a model, I gathered props, I set up scenes for the shots, and then I programmed the camera to the proper settings. While it felt like a hobby, the shoot was actually about eight or nine hours total of academic pursuit… yet, I enjoyed every moment of it.

As Monday evening approached, I tugged a sweatshirt on and grabbed a blanket, looking back to double check that my roommate was still coming with me. With big smiles on our faces and a “Go Lydia!” sign in hand, we headed out for the field to support our other roommate in her big flag football game against the leading

The Lydia Support Group :)

team. We knew there wasn’t much hope for them in this game (no offense, Tower Power! We love you!) but regardless, we were excited to support our fellow freshman girls out there. After a refreshing walk across campus, we were welcomed to the field with blaring music, whistling fans, and lots of adrenaline.

As Wednesday morning approached, we girls began to feel the pressure that midweek always brings with it. With our first college midterm the following afternoon, three projects underway, and work hours looming over our heads, it’s no surprise that we were feeling a little drowned when the Wednesday sun rose. But with the weariness of a Wednesday morning also comes the consistent reassurance of a CBU chapel. Nothing refreshes the weary college soul like worshipping the Lord with fellow students.

This week I was able to excel academically, invest myself socially, and also thrive spiritually as a college student. Sometimes, it honestly feels as though accomplishing all three of those is an impossible feat. But by whole-heartedly taking advantage of the academic, social, and spiritual activities that CBU has offered me, I’ve been inspired to try even harder in following weeks… because I’m confident that this week I felt what it means to have “the TRUE college experience,” and I enjoyed every moment.

Sleepwalking and Faithfulness

We all have those uneventful weekends: the ones that pass by slowly, consisting only of late mornings, brunches, movies and homework (all done in only the comfiest of pajamas). I have a tendency to take these weekends for granted, but it takes one true whirlwind of 48 hours to remind me of the goodness of simplicity – as well as the beauty of a bit of chaos.

The weekend began with my housemates and me in our University Place living room eating food from Brisco’s and listening to the flag football games outside. Nothing could be more normal for a Friday night, and all was well. Saturday passed by in much the same way, with each of us doing homework, completing International Service Project applications and catching up on the week’s TV shows. My roommate and I had plans to see a play in San Diego the following afternoon, so we went to bed with our plans swimming in our heads, our outfits planned out and our minds at ease. Of course, a bit of a shock was bound to happen at this point in time…

After my roommate and I went to bed, I fell asleep quickly. The next thing I knew, I was awakened to exclamations of surprise and distress and found my roommate on the floor, clutching her nose and saying she needed help. I flipped on the light, took her to the bathroom and quickly woke up the others in the house. I asked my roommate what had happened, only to get a broken response:

“I… um… can’t remember… I… sleepwalking… dresser… ow, it really hurts!”

This was enough for us to put the pieces together and, after examining her nose, we decided it would be best to take her to the hospital for stitches. Thinking quickly, I called our residential assistant (RA) to let her know what was going on.

It’s times like these I am so thankful to live on a campus where caring, able help and friendship are just around the corner. Our RA answered right away, told us to wait two minutes and met us in the parking lot, wide awake and ready to join in on our little adventure.

Once we set out on our merry way to the emergency room, things were looking tense, yet hopeful. My roommate is a trouper, and she kept cracking jokes the entire way while thanking us for helping her out. Laughing in the face of uncertainty really relieved the tension, and our RA reminded us that we were going to be okay.

The hospital is just a short drive away, and we got there in no time at all. Our RA had not only taken care of the technicalities in making sure everything was documented and our safety was ensured, but also was a stellar example of friendship in the way she joked with us, kept the mood light and prayed with us. My roommate was all patched up in a matter of hours, and we were back on our way to campus equipped with pain medication, high spirits and a riveting story to tell.

I realize that this is in not an ideal way to spend a Saturday night in any way, shape or form, but it honestly served as an excellent reminder of the blessings we take for granted every day. Lazy weekends may be uneventful, but they mean that we have the luxury of relaxation and time to accomplish what we need to prepare for the week ahead. After this adventure, my housemates and I were reminded of the ways God protects and blesses us along each bump in the road (or tumble while sleepwalking). My roommate was very fortunate to have only hit her nose and not hurt herself further, and we were also blessed to have immediate help and clear thinking to solve the problem. Our campus staff was readily available to help, and we were able to laugh our way through it by the end of the evening. It’s moments like these when I am reminded of the blessing that is health, friendship and even frightening experiences. I sincerely hope that you have all had a much less tumultuous past few days than I have, but know that those times do bring with them stories to tell, lessons to be learned and blessings to be counted. Safe sailing, Readers!

Season for Setting

Another week, another intramural sport.  I’ve learned at CBU that fall is the season of foggy mornings, sunny afternoons and almost every intramural sport I enjoy playing. Honestly, with 18 units of classes, Male Chorale, FOCUS leadership, blogging and sometimes sleeping, I probably shouldn’t join rec sports at all, but I need something to keep myself moving. Solving for voltages across resistors is exciting, and nothing gets my blood pumping quite like deriving Boolean algebra expressions from binary logic tables. There is a need, however, even for engineers-in-training to be active. With football season nearing its end (at least for those teams not making play-offs, like mine), Community Life opened up registration for intramural co-ed volleyball. Dodgeball will be around the corner soon, but let’s stay focused on today.

I had plans to create a team this year, but that’s always a little more complicated than it sounds. Co-ed sports require at least two girls to play during each game, and in the competitive league that can be a bit difficult. Last year, I joined my friend Austin Border’s team with no idea how we would actually compare to everyone else. We even named ourselves the One Hit Wonders, just so we could laugh about it during each game. Surprisingly, we competed well, and our team even developed a signature celebration of shouting “OOOH!” and giving high fives after points for and against us. With such a fun season last year, it was no surprise that we wanted to remake the team this year. By the time I started finding new team members, though, Austin had joined his roommate’s team and invited the four of us returners to join. Again, I’m a busy student, so I was completely OK with doing less work.

We played our first game last night in the Rec Center, which is a new location for volleyball this year. Three volleyball nets split the basketball courts in half where teams were warming up and competing since 7 p.m. Our game was at 9:40 p.m., which is late for some but ideal for students like me who have midday lab classes or have to work.  That’s another reason I like volleyball season: I can actually make it to the games. Surprisingly, all 10 of us on the team showed up, too, which isn’t usually the case. I was psyched to be on the court again, and us One Hit Wonders brought back the “OOOH”s with full force.  We ended up winning, but I didn’t want the game to end. Unlike football, you can easily crack jokes and relax with friends during games–definitely a winning combination of competitive sport and socializing. The atmosphere is just right. It’s going to a good season.

Last Friday Night

Recently my roommates and I decided we don’t do anything exciting on Friday night. Basically, we are boring 21-year-olds. Well, maybe we didn’t just discover it, but we did decide we needed to change that little fact. Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with spending a Friday night at home watching a movie. We just wanted to add a little spice to our homework filled lives. So this past Friday my roommate and I set out to make our night a little more exciting then usual.

When two of my roommates left for the weekend last Friday, Carley and I were left alone at the apartment. Our Friday was beginning to look like any other Friday night here on campus, filled with homework. The only exciting thing we had done was to take a short trip to the Apple Store, only because Carley’s phone decided it wanted to stop working.  After a quick fix, we were on our way to another eventless Friday night. After we got back, we hurried to finish an assignment that was due at 5 p.m., and we went to Subway for dinner around 6. We were headed back to the Colony apartments when we decided we needed to do something more exciting then homework on a Friday night. I mentioned that The Daily Brew, a local coffee house, was having an open mic night, and we decided to head there for the evening.

Now being two single ladies meant that we couldn’t just hop back into the car and head to The Brew.  Of course we had to get ready for the evening, make ourselves look good.  Only when we were satisfied did we head to The Brew.

Going to open mic nights can be a gamble. You never know what kind of artists are going to play or if they will be any good.  We took the risk and figured it had to be better then any night spent in our apartment doing homework. Boy, were we correct in that assumption! This open mic night was incredible. Carley and I were blown away by the talent of these artists. There were several solo artists, along with a duo and a brass ensemble. I’m pretty sure we were a little too excited about that last part. We sat in our chairs sipping on coffee and tea, listening to incredible talent.

We were at this open mic night for a few hours and, by the time, we left it was around 10. (I know, we’re real party animals.) We got back to our apartment and turned on a movie. Sure, our Friday night ended just like any other, but beginning of the night took some unexpected turns. One of the awesome things about Riverside is there are many places to go on a Friday night. Check out the hot spots around town, and you are guaranteed to have a good time.

Tolerate, Try Again

My parents were married very young, and my mom always says one of the hardest parts about that decision was learning to cope with another person’s everyday lifestyle as a teenager. While that learning process is difficult by definition, as a teenager you’re generally less tolerant and open-minded.

So this week I’ve thought a lot about that lesson, as I’m surprised by how much it really does apply to living with roommates for the first time. The difference here is that, since we’re all girls, we don’t have to cope with really smelly socks in our laundry or blaring video games during study time (not saying that was you, Daddy!).

Regardless, the three of us have definitely learned an important lesson over the past five weeks, one that I’m sure will carry over into all of our marriages someday.

Tolerance.

While CBU has a great method of matching up roommates before the year begins, nothing can fully prepare a student for living with a new person (or in my case, two new people). We are all unique children of God, regardless of shared majors or backgrounds.

Right away, I labeled one of my roommates as neat and tidy (she literally cleans as she moves), and the other one as… less neat and tidy. Neither trait really bothers me because I tend to be right in the middle, but at first the stark contrast still added to our overall sense of culture shock when we moved in. That contrast between the three of us affects whose desk is where, how many dishes are in the sink, whose bed is set every day, and whether by Friday the floor is still visible. Despite all that, we’ve all learned to cope with each other with an unsaid understanding that everyone shares in the chore load and keeps their mess confined to their own space.

The survival rate of three monsters in one room is small to none – and let me tell you, about once every four weeks, the three of us gentle girls suddenly seem to fall into that definition. We become big, green and crabby, as our inner Hulk threatens to emerge. It’s during this time that I truly believe the best coping route is this…

…run away!

See, there seems to be a silent agreement in my apartment that space is necessary when our hulks come to visit. One of us flees for the library, one of us heads to a friend’s and the last puts her headphones in and focuses on a project. It’s simple enough, and it works.

Generally speaking, by this time we understand what makes who tick, who’s the optimist and who’s the pessimist, who’s sarcastic and who’s very blunt… and most importantly, that none of it matters, because we know how to deal with it and move on. We have a method. But we only know it works because our other experimental coping methods haven’t. Nonetheless, we’ve been patient and learned how best to tolerate each other and our differences. We’ve learned to tolerate and try again… tolerate, try again… and because of that, I believe next year we’ll be much better prepared for whatever (or, WHOever) comes our way.

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.

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