A Major Discussion

“So, what’s your major?”

We are all entirely too familiar with this question. It is one that may either provoke an internal eye roll or a beneficial discussion, but – either way – it is a part of our general college “getting to know you” conversation. While this is a basic question on the surface, I quickly realize that behind each simple answer (aviation, engineering, theatre, etc.), there is a story waiting to be told and plans waiting to be related. When you meet another person with the same major as you, instant friendship is built; you both find that in sharing the same interests and aspirations, you can walk through classes together and bounce thoughts off each other.

When I had this age-old conversation once again this past weekend, I thought it beneficial to share my perspective on my areas of study and what led me to choosing these.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am in my third year as an English major. When I first came to CBU, I knew that I adored stories, analytical discussion, and expressing my thoughts about literature through writing. I did not have a clear goal in mind as to what I wanted to do with these passions, but I knew that I love school and wanted to pursue an education in English. As time went on and I experienced each of my literature classes, it became so apparent to me that I am in the right field. I have gleaned so much from my professors, who have helped me to improve and to increase my passion beyond what I could have ever expected. It was through experiencing personal changes in my classes and through consulting with my professors that I decided to pursue a career in this field – namely, I want to teach at the college level. If I can someday impact another soul the way my professors here have impacted me, I count that as a success. God creates each of us uniquely to advance His Kingdom, and I am continuously finding that working toward my goals and using these passions may give Him honor.

In taking more classes and exploring other interests, I considered adding a minor that would expand my knowledge of another area and complement the work I had been pursuing. I took a hybrid film and literature course with one of my favorite professors and wound up exploding into a ball of love and enthusiasm for the subject. I began to see how, in my eyes, literature and film go hand in hand. Both studies complement each other, as they deal with the close analysis of art forms that carry a weighty cultural impact. As I began to see my passion for each subject increase my appreciation of the other, I decided to declare a film studies minor and dive right into this new area.

As this semester continues on and demands so much of me academically, I have discovered through each class exactly how much I love being able to refine my work and use it in serving the Creator. I keep learning how to view both reading and watching films as more and more of an intelligent practice. Not only do these actions offer entertainment and insight into the human mind, they reflect the glory of God through provoking narratives and various displays of humanity throughout. When reading or watching a piece of film with a Christian worldview, it becomes so edifying to see how the art forms can constantly point to the Maker and inspire us to live more fully. I believe that God loves stories, as he uses them at points throughout the Bible to demonstrate His truths, provoke action in us, and relate His glory more clearly. The very fact that He gave us an amazing written work in the form of the Bible to reveal Himself to us speaks so powerfully to me. In seeking to honor my Lord in everything that I do, I have been abundantly blessed to find that He has gifted me with a mind and passion for stories, and He is constantly showing me how that can be used to make His name great.

As I considered all of this – different majors, conversations about them, and a growing thirst for knowledge – I was reminded of how interesting it is that each individual reason for pursuing an area of study in higher education points to the vastness of thought and skill set found among fellow humans. It is astounding how many people are so multifaceted with their talents and determinations to use them throughout life. Our God truly is infinitely great and created us all so diversely so that we can glorify Him in innumerable ways. If you’re still seeking out a major to pursue, or wondering how your education might be used in a future career, remember that you have been created uniquely to honor the Creator. Whatever that looks like, pursue His Kingdom first, and be blessed in seeing how you, uniquely you, may love and honor God. I’ll leave you with a quote by the brilliant Christ-follower C.S. Lewis, who phrases this better than I ever could:

“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be…. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”

Expect the Unexpected

A few weeks ago I received an email from an organization called Youth Works. This email basically said, “Last summer you expressed interest in working with us and we wanted to let you know our application for the summer of 2014 is now open.”At first I was really confused, I had never heard of this organization before, but I thought I might have stumbled upon their site last summer when I was applying for jobs.  So I decided to take a look, maybe fill out the application. What harm could that do?

Once I took a look at their website I knew two things. One, I definitely never came across this organization before and two, it was definitely an organization that I would want to work for during the summer. Let me give you a glimpse of what this organization does. Youth Works basically runs a summer camp for middle school and high school students. However, instead of doing camp activities, the youth participate in service projects around the community they are in. Youth Works programs are placed in 75 different communities around the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. This organization is doing things I am passionate about: serving and spreading the love of Jesus, while instilling these qualities into the youth.

Then I set out to complete the application and hand out my references. Within a day of completing my application, I had a phone interview scheduled for the next Monday. After that, I scheduled a Skype interview for a week later. During the Skype interview, I was told that I would know within the next two weeks whether or not I had gotten the job. Soon after, I received a phone call telling me I had gotten the job.  What exactly will I be doing? Well, my official title is Service Coordinator. Basically, I am in charge of planning and organizing the service projects that the youth will be doing in the community.

A few weeks ago, I had no idea what I would be doing with my summer. I knew I had choir tour at the beginning of May, but after that my life was not planned. Now I know that I will leave the day choir tour ends (I know, slightly crazy) to head to a training center for a week and then to the community I will be working in. I am beyond excited about this crazy adventure that God has planned for me and the community I will be able to serve. I always forget to expect the unexpected, but that’s the beauty in the unexpected. It comes when you aren’t looking.

Its not all Calculus

I’ve written mainly about my life outside of classes, which I realize can be deceiving  since that is where the majority of my time and patience is spent. Not that you would want to watch a reality television show entitled “The Real Life of Stressed Out Engineering Majors” with dynamic settings of late night study sessions and overused whiteboard calculations. I know I wouldn’t. The class and homework load definitely shot up after freshman year, but the lab experiments and concepts covered this semester balance out the extra work with exciting projects. I didn’t want to write a blog about how great it is to be an engineer, so I won’t. Here’s an overview, however, of what I enjoy about my academic life. That’s different, right?

It all starts with the commute. If you have ever exited off the 91 freeway onto Adams, taken a left, and then driven down to Magnolia Ave, you have at least passed by the sacred building all CBU engineers migrate to on a daily basis. The building is indeed off campus. Every day hoards of engineers-to-be walk in groups across the front lawn, cut through the Village and circle around the Rec Center just to get to class on time. With only a 10 minute gap, there isn’t much time to wait at the crosswalk or forget something at your apartment. Engineers solve problems, though. A lot of people ride longboards and bikes around campus, but they are almost required for engineering students who want to be in class on time. Honestly, I like it. I biked every day last year and enjoyed riding with the other guys in the dorm. I bought a longboard this summer after having borrowed my roommate’s board so often, and cruising through campus hasn’t been greater. I’m always laughing on my way back to my apartment, because I see lines of bikes, longboards, and scooters rolling around. At this point, I don’t think I could stand walking to any of my classes. Efficiency is a valued engineering objective. We should get extra credit for this.

The destination isn’t always as enjoyable as the journey, but when it is, it usually involves building something cool in a lab. Last semester I worked on NAO robots and programmed one to control a Samsung Smart TV through only voice and hand motions. By the end of the semester my group had built a hand for the robot to wear that the TV could sense and react to. That was only a freshman class, too, so I was psyched to see what I would be experimenting with this year. The anticipation was met in Digital Logic class this year. It’s true that I have learned exactly what a series of 1s and 0s means (0110 = 6) but it’s the labs that make the theory all worth it. Last Friday, we wrote VHDL code that could interpret on and off input switches and output numbers onto an Altera Cyclone IV chip. That means absolutely nothing to you, but I was freaking out when I lifted a switch and a number 1 appeared on a previously blank panel. Four switches could be arranged to create every digit and letters from A to F. I rode back to campus with a sense of pride I’ve never felt before. The professor told us that we would build a digital watch by the end of the semester.

Just another day of learning at the College of Engineering.

What in the World?

Residential assistants (RAs) put on a few educational events throughout the semester.  Last Tuesday, October 8th, West Colony had a prayer and worship event called, “What in the World?”

When we sat down as a staff to plan our first educational event, we tossed around a ton of ideas. Eventually we settled on having a night of prayer, with some worship to begin and end the night. Two of the guys on my staff and I headed up the event. We were in charge of the getting the “big stuff” done. We worked on figuring out who would do worship, what needed to be ordered from Conference and Events, and how the night would be run. Let’s just say figuring out all of this stuff was stressful. Planning this event and keeping up with the day-to-day events of my own life kept me busy for a few weeks.

The night of the event came, and we were ready for business. We were set up on the Colony Lawn (the big grassy area near the pool), a stage in the middle surrounded by tables. Our goal was to inform residents how they could be praying for CBU, Riverside, California, The United States, and the World. The way each table came together was awesome. Each table was run by two members of my staff. They were share with the residents, and they were able to decorate the table in any way they wanted.

The night started with 30 minutes of worship. The worship was an acoustic and intimate, setting the perfect mood for the night. Afterward, the residents walked around to each table, collecting information from each of us. We encouraged them to pray for the things we were telling them about and even gave them handouts as reminders. Once the evening started to slow down, we ended with a few worship songs.

While this event was slightly stressful for the planners, it was also wonderful. It is awesome to go to a school where we encourage each other to pray, and we can worship together. We have an incredible privilege to be able to participate in events like this at CBU. I would encourage you to scope out the events that are happening around campus and stop by, even if it is only for a few minutes.

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.

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