Saturday, March 20, 2010

March's Musings

So so so sorry I've neglected this blog! Here's what's happened: 18 units (8 of which are honors) + busyness + working on occasion + coordinating a week of orientation. Yikes. Needless to say, I've been rather busy reading and writing... (thankfully, there's a minimum amount of 'rithmetic.) I'm blogging on a wordpress blog hosted on the server here at school about entertainment for a class. It's been a lot of fun. Writing about entertainment is definitely a different experience.

Anyway, I've had some interesting thoughts lately. I spent a while tonight talking to my best friend. We've been friends since we were in preschool, and both grew up in the same small town. Although we are at completely different places (geographically, especially), we still love each other, have the same quirks, and want to know about the other's life.

We made a plan to hike a lot this summer. (Super exciting plan, by the way.) And as I thought about it, life back home is so incredibly different than life here. Here, life is busy and hectic and you never know what might happen. The weather is pleasant (and consistent), there are tons of new people to meet and get to know, and there's always something to do.

However, back in Blacksburg, life has a slower pace (blame it on the Southern attitude), and it's fairly predictable (especially in the summer: work and read for Torrey.) The weather in the summer is temperamental (with thunderstorms on the 4th of July), it's the same old people, and there's always nothing to do and rarely something worth doing.

So, in this comparison of my two different lives, I started thinking: what's the constant? What's different? Which is the Best Possible Life? (Yes, the capitalization was quite intentional.)

The constant: my relationships. With family. With God. With friends. My relationships may vary from place to place, but I find that when they're ground in God, He blesses that. I care deeply about people. I wear my heart on my sleeve; giving it to those I'm in relationship with. I never stop loving these people, even when I'm 2400 miles away.

The different: the settings, the discussions, the pace of life. I've come to appreciate both paces at their own time. My hectic school life causes me to appreciate the pace of life at home so much more. The discussions are varying.... at home, I'm much less likely to stay up til 2 am talking with my neighbor about God or life or boys. (Although if you'd like to chat it up, J.L., I'll do it.) I can't just run to the library at 11 pm. Life is more normal at home.

The Best Possible Life? A life where I'm living to the hilt every situation that I believe to be the will of God. (Thank you, Jim Elliot.) Whether that's at school, or at home, or wherever God ends up calling me, I know that His blessing remains constant through everything.

Stay tuned for thoughts on how my location plays into living to the hilt.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wow, I'm a Slacker.

I've been home on break... and don't have to go back until the thirtieth. It's all terribly exciting. However, I'm afraid, that this blessed down time has led to a horrendous gap in posting. Since few people read this, I'm not concerned. To those of you who are reading -- I apologize. Mea culpa.

Let's see... break has been laid back, refreshing, and full of fun. I've played with small children, traveled, shopped, read, and sipped tons of tea.

It has helped me become more grateful for my home, my town, and my school.

In other news.... No, really. We're talking about the news.

My breaks for Haiti. It's been so covered, that I don't think there's even anything else to say.

In more exciting news, I am so excited for Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts. It's certainly not something I expected, but it'll be interesting to see how it plays out over the next few months.

That's pretty much it as far as my ramblings go. Maybe soon I'll be able to post a post that's more organized.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Finished... Mostly!

So I'm now almost finished with my first semester. I had my don rags today and have a math test Wednesday and then I'm headed home! Believe me, I am very excited to be going home. (Side note: don rags are what we call the Torrey final. It spans all 8 units of my honors classes. It's a thirty minute oral exam where my mentor can quiz me on any of the texts that I've read... it's scary because we have no idea what he's going to ask, making the studying a huge task.)

Anyway, I feel like over the past four months, I've grown in many different ways and really been stretched. Here's my list of a few things that I've learned through this past semester.

1) I am a Virginian. Only through four months away have I learned that my heart belongs in the grand Old Dominion - I'm one of very few kids who boast proudly about their state.

2) It's worth a longer walk down the hall to get a better quality shower... it'll make you feel more clean!

3) Be flexible. Sometimes something more exciting and rewarding than homework comes along, and it should be pursued... studying can often wait.

4) Be organized! Know what you have to do and when you must do it. Beware! This may lead to friends becoming rather dependent on you for information.

5) Reading is hard work. Especially if the goal is to truly understand and engage the ideas within the text.

6) No matter what the culture is, the epic poem will always have relevance. It provides a way of thinking about culture from its beginning. We should perhaps more often employ the method of telling stories within other stories to help us to understand where we come from better.

7) Anticipation is half the fun - I've had a lot of different things to anticipate through the semester - my first trips to In-N-Out and Disneyland, my first thanksgiving away from home, my return home, and the arrival of many other significant dates. Yet, as fun as each of these things was, joy is to be found simply in anticipation.

8) Joy is necessary for survival. I don't know if I would have made it through the semester were it not for the crazy amount of joy that I feel in being content where God has placed me. I also am so grateful for a close-knit group of friends who bring me joy and share in my joy. Yet, it's been important to not find joy in my location or others, but to find it in Christ alone. When I rely on something other than the Rock for my joy, then I end up feeling disappointed. When I take joy from Christ, though, everything I do flows from that.

9) Each day should be cherished. It seems that I've been learning this for the past five years. I honestly don't think I'll ever fully understand how to properly do this, but I'm trying. I'm learning to take joy in every moment - fully seized. I'm learning to love early morning chapels, late night study sessions, heart-breaking pictures of fall, immature inside jokes, and mid-afternoon naps. Each of these moments can be fully seized - it's all a matter of how you choose to live. When I seek out the King, then each moment is for Him. And life becomes a lovely compilation of beautiful moments.

10) Contentedness is a gift. I have been (for the most part) completely content over the past few months. Although I am more than a little excited to be back in Blacksburg where my heart belongs, I have definitely enjoyed and loved this time. I have no doubts that God has many more excellent things planned for the remainder of my time. Because His will is indeed good, pleasing, and perfect. With this recognition, what other cares should I have?

All that said, I feel like this has been quite the productive, growing, stretching, and exhausting semester. I'm so thankful for a break coming up. It'll be a little bittersweet leaving Biola for six weeks. At this point, though, I'm pretty sure it'll be mostly "sweet." Blacksburg, here I come!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Life to the Full

Today would have been Kassidy Foster's 15th birthday. One of my sister's best friends, she competed alongside Katie at Virginia Techniques. Kassidy was full of life, spunky, sass, and spirit. In March of 2007, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer. She passed away that July. For the full story, check out the website.

Even though I'm 2400 miles away from home, my heart is with her family today. I'm dressed in pink (her favorite color) and wearing my Kassidy bracelet. It's not just on important dates, though, that I find it important to keep up her memory. Instead, her life and courage in the face of cancer changed my life.

I'm from Blacksburg, VA - the home of Virginia Tech. In April 2007, the Virginia Tech shootings happened, greatly affecting my hometown. It shook the entire community to its core. Bad things don't happen in Blacksburg. It's too tiny, too quaint. However, something awful did happen there and I don't believe the town will ever be able to forget.

Through the shootings and through the death of Kassidy, I grew. I grew in how I dealt with grief. I grew in my understanding of the world. I grew up - a lot. But mostly, I grew in my understanding of how to live.

As a fifteen year old, I was naive enough to think that I was somewhat invincible - that there was always time to do whatever I chose to put off. Yet through seeing all that could happen in such a short period of time, I came to understand that life is short.

With this knowledge, I was not afraid. Instead, it gave me a zeal for life. Even Kassidy - in her suffering and pain - still lived well, with spunk and pluck. If she was able to that in the most difficult of situations, then what excuse would I have to not do so when things were going well?

Although I sometimes forget what it means to live fully, I think I'm starting to understand that it doesn't always look the same. I tend to think if I'm not being super productive, or engaging in deep and meaningful conversation, then I'm wasting my time.

But perhaps a mid-afternoon nap once in a while is just as full and freeing as an hour long conversation about the meaning of life over coffee. Dr. John Mark Reynolds encouraged my Torrey group when we went to his house for dinner a few months ago. He reminded us that grades aren't everything. That we study in order to learn how to live well.

This has been an important lesson to learn -- that fellowship should sometimes trump study. However, as I've come to understand that that is what will matter in the end. My knowledge of books is only important in that it helps me to engage better with others. My main priority should be living a life filled with Christ's love, spilling out everywhere. I want my life to be full of meaning, because it could end tomorrow. I want to live like Kassidy - with courage, spunk, and faith in the midst of all situations - good and bad.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Late Night Musings

I was reading other blogs earlier and I was amazed. I was amazed by the ability of other bloggers to portray so much with so few words. I decided I wanted to be more like them. We'll see how that goes.

In other news, I'm a bit riled about the unauthorized attention-seeking couple at the White House state dinner the other night. You have to admit, though: they got their attention, alright.

Also: it seems odd that a Muslim holiday is a New York City wide celebrated holiday... I'd be curious to see what other holidays they support and what the payoff for the people is from that.

Thanksgiving: Observations

Every year when it comes time for Thanksgiving, it seems that everyone feels the need to remind us to "be thankful all the time." Of course, we don't hear the reminder again til the next Thanksgiving. I have to wonder what life would be like if we constantly lived in a state of gratitude - acknowledging that life wasn't always epically fantastic, but that we had something for which to be thankful. Aside from that musing, I'll go ahead and admit it: I'm not constantly grateful. And that's something that I need to work on. This Thanksgiving, though, has made me more aware of what I'm thankful for.

1) Biola. Oh my goodness, it's been an experience beyond imagination. I'm learning to think well and to see the world within the context of God's word at all times. Not to mention, there's fabulous community and I'm building great relationships with other students as we explore the world.

2) California. Despite all my mock trash talking, I really am thankful for the state of California. Because I've been living here, I feel that I've gained an understanding for another culture and the way it functions. It's always good to see more of the world, isn't it?

3) Virginia. With my thankfulness of Cali noted, it is now fair to say that I am downright thankful for my home state. After all, the grand Old Dominion is one of the most beautiful states in the Union with some of the most beautiful people in it. I thank God constantly that I grew up in a town where doors are rarely locked, where the mountains are big, beautiful, and protective, and where community still exists.

4) Family. Speaking of community, let's talk about the best community ever. I love my family... immediate and extended. Being away definitely leads to a realization that no family will ever be as cool, funny, or loving.

5) Jesus. This is one big "no duh," but it is more true this season than ever before. I've been reading through the Old Testament for Torrey (Genesis-Joshua, to be specific) and I'm learning more and more about the holy nature of God, his justice, his love, his mercy and how everything points forward to Christ. How undeserving am I to be chosen simply because he loves me? After all, I know that more often than not, I too am like an Israelite, grumbling simply because I've forgotten his goodness.

There's my top five. There's much more, but it would go on and on. Tell me, what are you most thankful for?

My Life Is...

Average! Or is it? It seems that we go through phases of the best ways to kill time here in the grand setting of University. You log onto the computer to write an essay and instead find stories about people who have average lives, check your facebook, write a blog post, look at awkward family photos, or use mystery google. All of these things are exciting... or are they? What in the world attracts us to these websites? What is it about our culture that allows us to believe that it is truly better to absorb our time with reading and relishing the experiences of others, instead of experiencing life on our own?

What if we took the 15 minutes spent on MLiA or facebook and instead used that to converse with family or friends? Have we spent so much time in artificial communication that we've effectively destroyed true community?

As my friend Devon noted, it's ironic that I channel my frustrations about technology here. On a blog. In fact, it may be a bit ridiculous. Although, it may be the only way I can be heard. You tell me.