Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Favorite Places

It sounds corny, but there are some place that make me happy, just being there. Here are some of those...
  • The couch in Sutherland right next to Dr. Reynold's office.
  • The Torrey office. (Seriously, I love that place. The books, the decorations, the knick-knacks, the music, the atmosphere. I am always hesitant to go in there, though, because I feel like I might disturb the aura.)
  • My church.
  • The Sigma third-floor lobby right by the floor-to-ceiling windows.
  • My family's ranch.
  • "Four Fireplaces" in Northern California somewhere off the Avenue of the Giants between Fortuna and Eureka.
  • The general store in Ferndale.
  • The Reynolds' living room.
  • Almost any bookstore, especially a used bookstore.
  • Country Rose Tea Room.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What My Family Says...

Mom: You can make broth out of anything, even vegetables.
Brother: You can even make rat broth!
Mom: Thank you, Mr. Delicate.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Torrey Quotes: The Best of 2010

My Torrey Friends say the funniest things. Here are my favorites...
Note: For anyone who reads these quotes and doubts the character of my friends: they are all good, upstanding, Christian men and women who just say the weirdest things sometimes.

"Mary Kate Reynolds...needs to read the Iliad like the Muses are her homeboys." -Mary Kate Reynolds' Facebook status

"Why do we read Beowulf? Because Tolkein told us to." -Dr. Sanders

Dr. Reynolds: "What's wrong with Homer?"
Cale Wright: "He's telling us to put our heads in a meat grinder?"

"Snogging to church music is weird." -Dr. Reynolds

"That was blind-mowing!" -Rachel Harris

"A daaaamn shoot!" -Rachel Harris

"What the heck are 'sandal buddies'?! Is that a subtle way of saying we're playing footsies without shoes on?" -Sean Tosello

"What do you do with guys? You marry them!" -Elizabeth Bush

[Context: when two people try to talk at the same time in our group during class, they do rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to talk. Some have been known to do this when two people volunteer at the same time to pray for someone...] "Did you just cheat at rock-paper-scissors so you could pray for someone? That sounds like something Dante would do!" -Sean Tosello

"I'm gonna have the biggest ripped esophagus ever!" -Sean Tosello

"Great. Now I'm an Irish gangster." -me

"You're a hot Irish nerd, and I love you." -Elizabeth Bush to me

"There's nothing better than a Biola bad boy. It's like an Azusa Pacific Christian." -Dr. Reynolds

"Dante PWNS Milton." -Juliet San Nicolas

"Real men love Jane Austen." -Juliet San Nicolas

"I have a thing for male vocalists." -Sean Tosello

"R.A. Torrey scared the crap out of me this morning!" -Rachel Harris

"Did you just pray, 'Thank You, God, for his lightening-fast haircut?'" -Dr. Henderson

"It was published posthumously. Of course, it wasn't written posthumously." -Dr. Sanders

"It is impossible to look manly while drinking out of a straw." -Sean Hansen

"How is it that all the good-looking guys are in Torrey?!" -Elizabeth Bush

"Blessings are like the lovechild between fate and destiny." -Dave Martin

"My mom liked Simon and Garfunkle and the Monkeys, and my dad liked the Romanovs. What can I say?" -Mary Kate Reynolds

"Bam, Milton! Suck it! You just got pwned by the Bible!" -Rachel Harris

"I pray that You will make them smart at some point." -Nick Conrad, praying about my Torrey group

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tid-Bits of Information You Should Know

If you like reading my blog, you should check out One of my fantastic friends from high school made her own blog after reading mine, and I'm so excited that she liked mine enough to make one of her own. (Mostly because I was encouraged to start actually using my blog when I discovered a bunch of Biola friends who write amazing, thought-provoking blogs. So, I'm happy to get to be the encourager instead of the encouragee.)

Secondly, I am really happy about how many people read my blog. Last night, I wrote out some randomness about books and such and the page views said 1,128. This morning, when I navigated to my blog, it said 1,147. Now, I know half of these are due to me clicking around on my blog to different pages, but it still makes me really happy that people actually read this!

Third, it's Christmas Eve, and I am going thrift store shopping. I also got Plato, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Kierkegaard in the mail yesterday. I know you were just dying to know that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On Books and Growing Up

I grew up reading books. For Christmas one year, I asked for "a book with lots of pages." I was thinking dictionary-sized, but I was too young to know what a dictionary was. So my mom got me a children's books about a mouse that discovers the Bible. Not what I had in mind, but I liked it anyway.

Ironically, I hated learning to read. The books were hard to read and were boring when you could understand what the words said. The only thing that kept me going (besides the fact that I didn't have much choice) was my dad telling me, "Readers are leaders and leaders are readers." I wanted to be in charge of something when I was "all grown-up"- I didn't care what- but that meant I had to read.

In elementary school, I always had a book with me. I read when I finished my work, I read during recess, and I probably got in trouble for reading during class. Whenever my family went on long road trips (which was often), my mom would buy us a new book or two to keep us occupied in the down-time. The worst punishment in my family was "going to bed without a story." My mom would read aloud to us every night until I was eleven or so. Then, I would read books, then dress up and act out the parts of the female main character. My mom spent countless hours sewing dresses, bonnets, capes, and skirts for me. (Then I discovered thrift stores and my costume hunting took place there, instead. But I still haven't outgrown that urge to dress up in long skirts like the heroines of old). And it all stemmed from books. Even now, my room is full of not only school books, but also children's books, young adult books, and novels.

For my first two years of high school, I adored books. I always had one with me. I had my preferences, but I read almost anything. Then I discovered people. I realized that although books were wonderful, people were like living books to me. The "best friend" relationships in books could happen in real life. There were people who had lived exciting things and could tell me about with a twinkle of the eye and the expressive tone that I missed in reading. For that reason (and due to too much homework), I stopped reading for fun during my junior year of high school. I read philosophy homework, economics textbooks, and political articles for debate, instead. I still read the occassional fun book (and books for English classes), but the novels I usually carried to class to read during passing periods were gone. They were replaced by wonderful conversations and genuine smiles. But I still missed those books. Especially the feel of a book in my hands.

College brought back the wonder of books to me, combined with the joy of being with people. In college, I read stories again, instead of textbooks. I read fiction again for the first time in a long time. There were characters to relate to (and analyze, now that I was older). But the best part was that it was not just me reading the book. In college, I read it with people by my side, reading the same book, and enjoying it with me, and discussing it to no end. We bonded over books. We stayed up to all hours reading. We had "study parties" during which we read for hours straight. That feeling brought together my early years of loving books and my teenage years of loving people. I cannot think of a better way to end my childhood.

Quote of the Day

Mom: "What happened to your Christmas stocking?"
Brother: "I don't know."
Mom: "What happened to all the stuff you get in your stocking last year?"
Brother: "I ate it."
Mom: "What about the flashlight you got?"
Brother: "I didn't eat the flashlight..."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I Get to Thinking About When I Have Free Time

When I have time to think about something that is not homework, my thoughts go in many directions. Such as...

Home isn't as restful as I had hoped. I was hoping I would have less worries at home. I don't have less worries, just different worries. I've been thinking a lot about God lately. I've been praying all semester that God would help me sort out what to do about my major, and I haven't gotten any definitive answer. Is that evidence that He isn't answering yet, or that I'm not listening hard enough? But what grounds have I to talk ask God for stuff like this? What makes me think He cares? After all, this is the God that created the earth and all that is in it in six days. This is the God who is mightier and holier than my wildest imagination. what makes me think He wants anything to do with me and my worries about what to study at college? Especially when I give Him lip service instead of an honest heart, and the cold shoulder instead of true devotion.

It's funny. I spent so much of this semester reading the Bible. Seven books. It gave me a brand new "ah ha!" view of the Bible that still astounds me. But I don't feel closer to god because of it. I feel more like I'm seeing more of God, or the bigger picture of God, but I have to step back to fully see it (or to see as much as has been revealed to me). On one hand, this feels right. I have to see God as the Bible portrays Him, not as I imagine Him. At the same time, shouldn't this understanding of God build a strong relationship, not make me feel far away?

I'm reading A Severe Mercy right now. At one point, one of the characters realizes that she is sinful. It makes her so upset that she shakes, cries, and cannot get over it for quite some time. I never had that. Is that bad? I grew knowing that I did bad things. I never had a moment of realization (at least not as serious as Davy feels) that I was a little dirty object, but God wanted a relationship with me anyway. I haven't felt the power of the gospel for a very, very long time...should I? I'm not a fan of the emotionalism in the church today (in fact, I almost gave up on my faith partially because of that), but is emotion necessary for a growing relationship with God? Or at least an excitement for the gospel? I know I haven't felt it recently, but every so often I do. If emotion is necessary, why is it so fleeting?

I want to be honest about what I feel and believe about God, but I am not used to it. My family is the type that gives Christian answers for everything, but doesn't really hold onto that. I don't want to start quoting Bible verses to myself that don't really help because I'm just reciting words, but I know I need to turn to God. I just wish I could express my feelings about God without using cliches phrases or ideas. I think that's what this whole rant is really about: not liking Christian cliches about emotions, devotions, Bible reading, Bible verses, or any of that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Randomness of Being Home

It rained six inches at my family's ranch this weekend. That's about what we usually get in a year. And it's still raining. Good thing I really love rain.

Sufjan Stevens is excellent room-cleaning music.

I miss Biola and all the quotable, lovable, all-around fantastic people there.

I get to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader again this week. With Marie. And hopefully more high school friends.

I bought vanilla chai tea at the grocery store. So much excitement.

I don't listen to Christmas carols carefully enough.

I haven't had a seriously good prayer time since before finals. That should change.

My dad offered to pay for my books for next semester.

I found a face soap that actually works with my skin type.

When I buy my own house, I want my living room to strongly resemble the one in the Reynolds household.

My brother chipped a tooth while wrestling yesterday. I believe he is making apple cider right now. And those two statements have nothing to with one another.

My mom still doesn't know I "got lost" in Compton last week.

My brother told me, "I want to go away to college so people will get excited to see me when I come back like they do with you."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Going "Home"

One of my friends posted as his Facebook status something along the lines of:

"If home is where the heart is, then I'm leaving half of my heart behind."

Exactly how I feel. I'm sitting in my ridiculously clean dorm room waiting for my dad to come pick me up. My heart aches. I don't want to go. I'm torn between two homes. I love Biola and I want to stay, but it is quite obvious that I can't (they're officially kicking me out in five and a half hours). But I don't quite want to go home yet...I was there three weeks ago, and I don't miss it...but I do. It's a weird sensation. I want to be "at home"...just maybe not my "home."

It's more stressful than I care to deal with. I kind of like being the "independent" woman that I am, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to go back home and become the daughter I'm supposed to be. In my parents' eyes, I'm either perpetually younger than I really am, or significantly older. They either expect me to always be available and at home like I was when I was younger, liking the same things, being the same person I was when I was 12. At the same time, they expect me to be more grown up. To not be a kid anymore and always be hard at work in some form. That isn't who I am. I don't think they know who I am anymore. They don't understand college culture and how it has shaped me. They don't understand what I have been learning and how it has affected me...because they know the Siobhan of the past, not the Siobhan of the present. My friends here know me and understand me better than I know or understand myself. They know the struggles I have had with my major, my heart, my feeling of belonging, my definition of "home." They know my hopes and dreams, what angers me, how much I love hugs and hot tea. They know my little quirks, like my sassy remarks, but they love me and accept me anyway. They know I'm indecisive about my major, but they don't judge me for it.

It's going to be a struggle to adjust. A struggle to feel comfortable at home again. A struggle to feel loved in a different way. My family doesn't show love the way Quadratus and my Biola friends show their love, and I have to get used to that type of love again. I have to learn to feel safe in somewhere that isn't Biola. I have to learn to be around a family again. More accurately, I have to remember how to act around my parents. Remember to be sensitive to certain things and not mention certain things. I have to teach my body to wake up earlier and go to bed earlier than I'm used to doing in college. I have to condition my mind and heart to deal with someone who has limited mobility and is often in a lot of pain. I have to learn once again to read my father's emotions so I know when it is a good time to approach him and when doing so will cause strain in my family. I have to learn to cover my emotions in a way that I am not used to doing around my Torrey group and my close friends here. I have to learn to keep my mouth shut and "do as I'm told" to a degree that I have not had to for the months I've been at Biola. I have to become the eldest daughter figure again, and to be honest, I don't want to.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reflections on My First Semester of College

I can't believe my first semester of college is over. Was it really four months ago that I sat in a circle with a bunch of Quadratus people and tried to remember everyone's name? That night, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how I would hold up. I was in a strange city, at a strange college, in a strange cult-ish honors program in which we had to read strange books. It was the most awesome experience of my life. I am surrounded by loving, encouraging, fun people who love God. I get to read books by some of the wisest writers of the past.

I have endured days where I don't know how I made it through. I have had days that were some of the happiest of my life. I have made discoveries about myself and God. I have learned how to love and appreciate people. So many amazing people and memories fill my mind when someone says "Biola" or "Torrey." I am blessed. So much blessed.

Memories from my first semester (so that I will remember that every semester has its ups and downs):
-Torrientation week. When I was sick, homesick, and exhausted beyond belief, but when I met some of the most amazing people ever.
-Breakfast with Quadratus the Friday (?) of Torrientation week.
-My first Torrey session. When our seers brought us cookies.
-All the quotes from the Quadratus quote book.
-Labor Day BBQ at Elizabeth's grandparents' house duringwhich we decided that Cale needs to watch Muppet Treasure Island ...which we still haven't done.
-Watching Hercules after one of our sessions.
-Watching Prince of Egypt after our Exodus session.
-Staying up all night writing my first Torrey paper.
-Crying about not knowing what to major in.
-Getting hugs by Robynne that lift my feet of the ground and make me giggle.
-Having a Reynolds session the day after my birthday.
-Going to dinner with Torrey kids after turning in our papers.
-Going to the park and playing on the swings, eating ice cream, then going to the Reynolds house and watching An Education with Sean, Austin, and Mary Kate. We then made tea and discussed beauty.
-Tea and long talks with Amanda Lee.
-Giggling with Elizabeth at everything.
-The Quadratus Christmas party.
-Late night runs to Berry Cool during which the Berry Cool employees told us we were being too loud.
-Sitting in Sutherland and eavesdropping on Torrey sessions.
-Quadratus dinners.
-Prayer time in session.
-Our late-to-church adventures.
-Being so stressed that I am reminded anew of God's grace.
-Having Don Rags over!
-Don Rags study sessions in the Production Center.
-Quadratus Savers run during out midterm bye.
-Floor retreat with Libertas.
-Libertas girls night in downtown Fullerton.
-Torrey music concert.
-Being stressed about getting Paradise Lost read during paper week.
-The love and support of Biola people during finals week.
-Quadratus and their love and prayers.

I love the Torrey community. During our session with Dr. Reynolds, he told us that the world will hate us, but in reference to our time in Torrey, he told us, "Here you are safe. Here you belong." That is what I have felt this semester.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Loving Something Because It's Hard

I was brought up in a culture where the easy stuff is considered the most appealing. Students take certain classes because they can get an easy A. I bought into that mentality very easily. After all, who wants to work twice as hard and do twice as much homework if you can get the same grade by doing less work?

High school debate was my introduction into loving something because it was hard. I was most definitely not a good debater. But I loved it anyway. It presented a challenge, and it gave me incentive to work and learn in a different way than I was used to. It stretched me more than I could ever imagine. It also brought me some of my greatest joys from high school.

Torrey is something else that I love because it is hard. It requires hours reading books that were written centuries ago. It requires pulling all-nighters to write a ten-page paper. It requires deciphering Spenserian poetry. But I love it anyway. More accurately, I love it because it's so hard. It challenges me. It teaches me things that cannot be learned from reading a textbook. It brings meaning to my life and teaches me to appreciate the vast amount of history that occurred before my lifetime.
It may be weird to say that I love Torrey because it is so hard for me, but it's true. Needless to say, I will still worry about Don Rags until tomorrow morning when it is over.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Caffeine + Late Nights + Procrastination + Torrey = This

"If you need any synonyms for 'awesome' just let me know." -Sean Hansen, while Robynne was writing him a recommendation letter.

[In a sarcastic voice] "Yeah, right...I'm weird." [In a Gallum voice] "Did you hear that, precious?" -Rachel Harris

"I'm Mexican when I have a mustache." -Andrew Bustos

"Bam, Milton! You just got pwned by the Bible!" -Rachel Harris

[About the concept of a tragic hero] "Just because they're tragic doesn't make them the tragic hero. You can have tragic nobodies." -Elizabeth Bush

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Thought to Get Me Through Finals

Virtus Tentamine Gaudet.

Strength Rejoices in the Challenge.

Reading List for Interterm

-Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky
-Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
-Symposium by Plato
-Oedipus the King by Sophocles
-A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
-Mara: Daughter of the Nile
-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
-Christy by Catherine Marshall
-Confessions by Augustine
-The Genesis Flood

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Education

Last night, I spent somewhere close to seven hours studying for Don Rags. It was intense and it was wonderful. The above image is the result. By listing out characters, talking about themes and conflicts, and comparing with biblical characters and themes, so much of what I have read this semester came together. It was beautiful.
As I was sitting looking at all this, I smiled. This is what education is really about. It's not about tests, papers, and attendance records. It's not about being on time or learning to behave. It's about learning. Education is about the "ah ha!" moment I got when I compared the major conflicts within all the epics we have read this semester. It's about understanding why all of these books are great books. It's about thinking.
I learned more from that seven hour stake-out in the conference room of the Production Center than I do in some sessions. When I realized it was 2 in the morning and I was getting tired, I was still energetic to keep diagramming, talking, hypothesizing, and thinking (but I figured I had better go to bed). I wasn't exhausted, but invigorated.
If this is education, I really love it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Life is Better When... listen to music from the Chroncicles of Narnia soundtracks on Grooveshark while studying for finals.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thought of the Night

"The need does not constitute the call." -Robin Jones Gunn


Days until the Physical Anthropology test I have been dreading: Less than 1

Days until my British Literature final: 5

Days until my Physical Anthropology final: 6

Days until Don Rags: 7

Days until The Voyage of the Dawn Treader comes out: 1

Days until I can see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: undecided

Days until I am home for six full weeks (whether that is a good thing or a bad thing or a mix of both I have yet to decide): 9

Days until I see the kids from my church perform their Christmas play: 10

Days until Christmas: 17

Days until I get to go shot-gun shooting: 23

Days until I get to be a part of a huge amazing New Years bonfire: 23


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quote of the Night

Context: Dr. Sanders drew a diagram of the tabernacle consisting of two rectangles which kind of resembled a refrigerator with a freezer on top. After a comment about that this was said...

"I think it's sacrilegious that inside the Holy of Holies is your frozen chicken nuggets."
-Sean Tosello

Kinda made my night.

Biola Winters

I do not approve.

I wanted to wear a long-sleeved black shirt, black leggings, a denim skirt, black cowboy boots, a green scarf and a green jacket today.

But it is currently 73 degrees outside.

It does not feel like the middle of December.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Was Going to Go to Bed Early, But Then I Discovered the Bible

The Bible is really, really, really awesome.

More awesome than I can comprehend.

All the doubt I periodically struggle with disappears when I realized that Jesus really does fulfill the Old Testament. It is way too complex to be a hoax or anything of the like.

I have grown up going to Christian schools. Ever since I can remember I have had the Sunday school answer in my mind that Jesus fulfills all the prophecies. Kudos to Jesus. But I never really comprehended the amazingness of it until now. It's not just the prophecies that are fulfilled. It's the entire Law! Everything is laid out so clearly in the Bible! God gives the Law, and Jesus comes and fulfills everything the Law hints that we need: Passover Lamb, shepherd, scapegoat on the Day of Atonement, Bread of Presence, lamp, and temple/tabernacle. Jesus does it all.

Why have I never seen this before?!

Actually, I have. I remember reading about this during the Old and New Testament History class my sophomore year in high school. I just didn't really get it until I had to read the Bible for myself.

Oh, man.

News Flash!

-I don't follow current events anymore. Which means these are just random clips of info from my life that I would feel narcissistic posting as Facebook statuses. So...

-I don't know what I want to major in anymore.

-Apparently I'm a sophomore by credits. When this semester is over, I will technically have 32 units, but I didn't know that until today, which means I missed the earlier registration block. But it also means I caught on soon enough so that I could still grab classes before the rest of the freshmen have at it tomorrow morning. But it also means some of the classes I wanted were closed, so I'm at 16 units for next semester with a hope that I can crash a volleyball class when classes begin in the spring.

-I used an example involving a dead cow in session today.

-I'm done with all of the Torrey reading for the semester. That long list of books I saw at the beginning of the semester and started to get really really worried about? Now complete!

-I have read: the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, Beowulf, Dante's Divine Comedy, Book I of Faerie Queene, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Hebrews. For one class. In one semester.

The end.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

You Know You're Irish When...

...Your father puts Guiness in his chili verde recipe.

...Your favorite song when you were eight was "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor?"

...All your mood swings and stubborness are attributed to your "Irish sass."

...You know that there is a distinct and important difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

...You know more Irish freedom songs than Christmas carols.

...Making fun of the British is an acceptable past-time.

...There is an Irish drinking song with your name as the title.

...Everything is made better with bagpipes and fiddles.

...You know practically every legend out there about St. Patrick.

...You eat potatoes at almost every meal.

...The first book you received (the day you were born) is entitled Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato.

...You entertained your economics teacher with stories of how you had a leprechaun named Liam in your pocket.

...When you needed to hit a pinata with extra force, your friends would yell, "Pretend it's Oliver Cromwell!"

...You have smiling Irish eyes that will steal a heart away.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Goes Down at Home When I'm Gone

Apparently very little. I walked into the house and literally cringed at the sight of the kitchen floor. With a mother usually wheelchair-bound and one man and one teenage boy in charge of the chores traditionally done by women throughout the centuries, everything is handled in a very time-efficient manner.

They just don't do chores.

Granted, my brother is a three-sport athlete at his high school and also a straight-A student. And in Boy Scouts. And my dad works his heart out to provide for my family and tries to spend quality time with my brother doing whatever Boy Scouts do at those weekly meetings. I know they're busy.

But in four months, couldn't they find one day to wash the floor?

So I got to spend my first day of Thanksgiving break running errands and washing the kitchen floor. I'm not complaining. Cleaning is very therapeutic for me, provided I don't have to do it too often. But sometimes it amazes me how they can stand to live in a house with a filthy kitchen floor.

Then I remember. They're boys.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's Been Up

I have been so stressed for the last few weeks. Don't ask why. It's a long story. But, when you're stressed, you appreciate a sense of non-stress much more.

-Like how I got a good laugh out of watching Dr. Campbell. She was walking down the stairs in Sutherland Hall muttering to herself. "Okay," she said, "try not to fall down the stairs."

Always a good first step.

No pun intended.

-And when I managed to get all but one of my pull questions done before leaving for Thanksgiving break. I had just finished stapling the sheets together when my phone rang. It was Jessica Carter calling to say she was ready to leave. Perfect timing or perfect timing?

-And when I realize I have great friends who grab me and command me to read Mara: Daughter of the Nile over break.

-And when I discover a copy of Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis sitting under a pile of books in my bedroom at home.

-Or when I realize how incredibly funny old TV shows are.

-Or even as I see mountains for the first time in four weeks. Not just the dinky little mountains visible if I look out my dorm room window at just the right angle between the tree and the Facilities Services building. Big, majestic, green mountains with beautiful clouds as a backdrop.

-Or getting a good laugh out of turning the radio on and realizing that we must be close to Bakerfield since every other station is playing country music.

-Driving past miles and miles of farmland. Such a beautiful thing.

-The only thing left to make me any happier is to see real, true, bright stars again. And to get that paper turned in and my major decided on.

But we're not going to think about that right now.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Cheers Me Up

In no particular order...

-Matthew 6:33
-Libertas girls (the girls who live on my hall in my dorm)
-Bakersfield (believe it or not)
-Johnny Cash
-Old hymns
-Anything Celtic or Irish
-Erma Bombeck
-Mix CDs with indie music on them
-Homemade bread
-Hot tea
-Nerdy Torrey jokes
-Peanut M&Ms
-Knowing that I'll see mi tio Danny on Thursday at the ungodly hour of 5 am.
-Knowing that I will see my dear friend Cassie Barritt next week for the first time since August 14th.
-Walk to Remember
-The framed picture on my desk of me and Maddie taken last September.
-Anything by C.S. Lewis or Elisabeth Elliot
-The soundtrack from Prince of Egypt
-Having my name said in the special Quadratus way
-Singing Disney movies at Biola (No one gives you weird looks for singing songs from Mulan in the middle of the caf or for dancing down the road singing "A Spoonful of Sugar.")
-Sweaters and scarves

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In the Last Two Days I Have...

-Completed four pull questions (that actually occurred within the last 24 hours)
-Drawn a timeline for one of my pull questions, complete with color-coded motif tracking. My Biblical Lit and Old and New Testament History classes from high school came in very handy.
-Gotten my first Torrey paper back for revisions. It is a mess of red pen, black pen, and probably a few of my tears.
-Almost scheduled a ride back home for Thanksgiving.
-Laughed, cried, smiled, thought, prayed, stressed, and stared at my bookshelf.
-Been reminded that I am not the only one freaking out about her major.
-Received more hugs than I probably have a right to.
-Realized how blessed I am.
-Gotten a whole new outlook on the book I previously viewed as the most boring book of the Bible (Numbers).
-Realized that the majority of the book of Numbers really can be sung to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas" (courtesy of Mary Kate Reynolds).
-Gotten cast as an extra in a film shoot.
-Proclaimed my Torrey nerd-ness by wearing a T-shirt that says "Aslan is on the Move" all over campus.
-Had chills go up my spine when I heard Matthew 6:33 read to me in the middle of a crazy mass of people in the caf.
-Promised myself that I will finish my Brit Lit essay by Saturday.
-Watched "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." At Biola. (For those who have forgotten, Biola is one of the places Ben Stein visited on his travels to understand Intelligent Design and its implications).
-Eaten lasagna from the Knotts Berry Farm restaurant and realized that it looks and tastes remarkably like the Stoffers lasagna I used cook for my family.
-Been thoroughly encouraged by the presence and attitude of my dear friend, Juliet San Nicolas.
-Realized that one week from today I will be eating bar-be-qued turkey and stuffing, pumpkin pie, crock-pot green beans and bacon, and, of course, potatoes.
-Tried very hard not to be jealous of Austin Smith and his copy of the complete letters of C.S. Lewis.
-Realized that almost exactly one year ago I was visiting APU and wanting to go there...and now I thank God for putting me at Biola.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Prayers of the Past

Sometimes, I'm so stressed that nothing from this century seems to make me feel better. Sometimes words from those who lived out the Christian faith at its most trying times are the perfect dose of perspective. A peek into their hearts through their prayers always reminds me that Christ is so much more important than anything else.
Prayer from the Breast Plate of St. Patrick
Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.
Old Irish Prayer
Dear Lord, Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am, and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope...And though I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me to be thankful for life, and for time's olden memories that are good and sweet. And may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.
Prayer of Saint Augustine
Look upon us, O Lord,
and let all the darkness of our souls
vanish before the beams of thy brightness.
Fill us with holy love,
and open to us the treasures of thy wisdom.
All our desire is known unto thee,
therefore perfect what thou hast begun,
and what thy Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.
We seek thy face,
turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory.
Then shall our longing be satisfied,
and our peace shall be perfect.
Prayer of Jerome
Lord, thou hast given us thy Word for a light to shine upon our path;
grant us so to meditate on that Word, and to follow its teaching,
that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer of Patrick
Lord, be with us this day,
Within us to pruify us;
Above us to draw us up;
Beneath us to sustain us;
Before us to lead us;
Behind us to restrain us;
Around us to protect us.
Traditional Celtic Prayer
You are the peace of all things calm
You are the place to hide from harm
You are the light that shines in dark
You are the heart's eternal spark
You are the door that's open wide
You are the guest who waits inside
You are the stranger at the door
You are the calling of the poor
You are my Lord and with me still
You are my love, keep me from ill
You are the light, the truth, the way
You are my Saviour this very day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Catch-All Post

So much has been going on, which is good...and bad. I am learning so much, but it is so incredibly exhausting.

So much has been on my heart lately. Worries. Thoughts. Lessons learned. Lessons that I wish I had learned earlier.

-I had so many worries about my major this week. Last week, I had the same worries, but I had zero time to think about it. I'm not sure what I want to do for the rest of my life. I'm a sociology major...but now I'm not even sure my dream job (opening a children's home in the country) is even going to work in so many different capacities...which makes me wonder why I'm majoring on sociology if I may not even use this knowledge. And I'm planning on getting my teaching credential, but I don't agree with many things related to public education, and I don't really want to teach in a private school, I spent a large chunk of the last few days wondering and worrying about all of this. Until I realized that there are only two jobs I have had my heart set on at any point in my life: being a teacher, and being a maybe this course of work is right for me after all.

-Rest. It's something that I tend to do, but it is never restful. When I'm studying, I take little breaks, but these breaks are sometimes as busy as my time spent studying, so they are rarely restful. But if I take a real rest, then I feel like I don't deserve it because I haven't worked hard enough (because I've been taking all those little breaks).

All this culminates in very little rest for me. I've been trying this week to learn to be disciplined in certain areas. I think putting rest into my schedule is going to have to be one of those things that I am disciplined about: working when I know I have to, and taking a rest so I can do my best the rest of the time. Using Facebook less. Reading my Bible more. Setting aside time to do something where I refuse to let myself get distracted. God gave me time to spend in college, and I need to use it wisely. I need to do my schoolwork and do it well, even when I dislike the work. I need to invest in the lives of those I am with: the girls on my floor, my Torrey group, other Torrey kids, the students in my classes, my friends in Bakersfield and all over the world. I need to rest. Most importantly, I need to put God first. One reason why I felt like last week (Torrey-paper-frenzy week) was so horrendous was because my devotional times were non-existant. If I spent time with God, I would have been able to get through that week with significantly less stress. Instead, my friends had to sit me down and tell me that my health was more important than writing a paper.

-I had to read six chapters of Walt Russel's Playing With Fire this week before reading the Bible for my Torrey class. I was amazed at what I learned: It's not all about me. Fancy that.

I realized that when I read the Bible I look at in in the context of "What does this have to do with me?" as my primary motivation, when, this is not the true context at all. God didn't give us the Bible to help me decide what I should major in, or to give me a comforting quote every so often. He gave the Bible to mankind to reveal Himself to us. To reveal who He is, what He likes and dislikes, how He is involved in history, how He is using history for His glory, and so on. Reading the Bible is not about me! The fact that I made it is incredibly foolish and conceited of me.

This explains so many of the problems I have had recently reading the Bible. I have lost interest in it so quickly because I felt that nothing I was reading applied to me, and the verses that did apply to me were already memorized and in my head. Now, the Bible has a new meaning to me. I have the privilege of learning how God works in history...a complete story, not a sound bite or two.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"There's Grace for That"

Last week was probably the most stressful week I have endured since I moved to college. I don't know how I survived. Every waking moment for the last week has been spent writing my Torrey paper (then re-writing it the night before it was due), reading Paradise Lost and just trying not to freak out about all the work I had piling up. By Thurday afternoon I was more stressed that I could remember being in a very long time. My heart was pounding, I was exhausted, and close to tears.

I thank God for His grace because otherwise I would not have survived. His grace to allow me an extension on reading Paradise Lost. His grace to give me friends who spent the whole week encouraging me. Friends who sat me down and told me I was not allowed to work on my paper until I had sufficiently relaxed. Friends who edited my paper multiple times before it was due. Friends who sat with me at 3 am and helped me come up with a title for my paper. Friends who let me help bake cookies so I would take my mind off the daunting task that was ahead of me. Friends who post "Siobhaaaaaaaannnn" on my facebook because they know it will make me smile. Torrey tutors who make us go outside and think and pray before session.

Without those things I would not have made it through this last week.

All praise be to God.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two Homes

I have missed Bakersfield. Some people make fun of Bakersfield and most high school seniors can't wait to get out. I was one of them. Certain things about Bakersfield still drive me nuts. Like the perpetual smog. But other things about Bakersfield are just so homey.

I was driving around today, and I staarted laughing. I saw so many Chevy Silverados and Ford F-150s...I'm definitely back in Bakersfield. Nobody in LA drives pick-up trucks. I've counted about five on the Biola campus. Everybody in Bakersfield drives a pick-up truck. I've missed driving a pick-up so much.

Driving through town I got to see the different areas of town...remembering the wonderful hours I have spent driving in Bakersfield, windows rolled down, blasting "Sweet Home Alabama." So many wonderful memories from this town.

I got to bake today. It's been at least two months since I've been able to bake something. I made two loaves of Irish soda bread (inspiration courtesy of Juliet San Nicolas). It was so beautiful baking bread in my own kitchen, barefoot, wearing a cotton calico skirt and apron and listening to Irish folk music fill the room. Definitely something homey.

I got to see people my teachers who knew me during my freshman year of high school. Talking to Mrs. Wells, my freshman English teacher, reminded me of how much I have changed: she reminded me of some of the beliefs I held during my freshman year and how quiet I was. Now, my point of view is the complete opposite, and I am much more outgoing. It was wonderful to see how much I have changed for God's glory.

Seeing my friends was amazing as well. I have to give Austin Lee props for giving me the best hug ever: completely lifting me off the ground and swinging me around because he was so glad to see me. I have missed these friends more than words can express. It's almost as if I left part of myself back in Bakersfield when I moved to Biola.

At the same time, I spent of good chunk of every conversation expounding on how much I love Biola, the professors, my friends, and everything about it there. Both homes are a part of me. I love Bakersfield because that is where I grew up, but Biola is just as much my home. I love both places and the people of both places.

Right now I really should be reading Heart of Darkness or Paradise Lost but I am going to worry about those later. One thing I have learned in college: people are more valuable than grades. Rest is also essential. For the weekend, I have put off the schoolwork for the sake of spending time with people and getting rest. Hopefully I will at least finish Heart of Darkness but noon on Monday. But we'll see...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This Is What Happens When I Start Stressing About Torrey Reading

Part of me thinks I encountered an angel tonight. Another part of me thinks I actually encountered a Biola student who was doing what God wanted her to: answering my unspoken prayer. Or maybe it was both.

The last two weeks have been crazy for me: midterms, Mid Rags, writing my paper, reading Faerie Queene and now Paradise Lost, zoo fiascos, more decisions about my major, planning a trip back to Bakersfield, and the Torrey Conference. Add on top of that the fact that I really don't want to be working right now. Tonight I almost hit my breaking point. I was in the library, reading Milton, and not understanding a single word I was reading. Not good when I don't have much time to read and comprehend 260 pages of Milton.

I left the library around 10:15, hoping that relocating, getting sleep, or something would help me focus. I sat down on a bench in front of Rosemead and proceeded to take another crack at Milton. I was nearly in tears because I was so burnt out and frustrated that I couldn't understand the language of the book, much less analyze its meaning.

Suddenly I looked up and notice a young woman I didn't recognize walking toward me. She asked me if she could pray for me. My heart skipped a beat. There was no way she could have known how utterly overwhelmed I was feeling.

She introduced herself as Rebecca, and I introduced myself. She asked me what my name means. I said, "God is gracious." Then it hit me...that was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. That no matter what happens, no matter if I finish Paradise Lost on time or not, God still has grace for me.

She prayed for me, not only in the area I requested prayer in (being overwhelmed with work) but in so many other areas as well. Her hand on my shoulder was comforting, and I felt myself calm down and remember God's grace and the grace of the Torrey tutors and my mentor. I saw my life as a whole picture, not just this little moment I was stressing about.

I felt so special. I felt like God heard every little unspoken prayer in my heart crying out for grace and peace and sent Rebecca to calm me and assure me of His love for me.

This brought me back to something I realized I had written 12 hours earlier during my reflection time for the Torrey Conference: "When I am feeling weak, stressed, and drained, it is God drawing me to His grace. When I am feeling refreshed, encouraged, and strengthened, it is God letting me experience His grace."

Thank you for pulling the pieces together for me, God.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Longing for "Home"

I'm not exactly sure how to classify how I'm feeling. Maybe it's homesickness. But I'm not sure. I love my family and I miss them like just about every college student. But my desire isn't really for home. The last time I was home I felt somewhat like a stranger in my own home. I was living out of a suitcase in my own room because most of my stuff was still in my dorm at Biola. My dorm room sort of feels like home now. I feel comfortable there, and I belong there. When I go home for the weekend, I miss Biola, my Biola friends, and even my comfortable little "corner of paradise" known to most as room 326 in Sigma Chi.

But there's a longing in me for other things of home. I miss the country. I miss cruising through the country with my windows rolled down, blasting praise songs and singing at the top of my lungs. I miss driving through Oildale blasting "Singin' With the Saints" by the Gaithers. I miss having a stick-shift pick-up at my disposal. I miss being able to see the stars. I miss my little country church with its church potlucks, wonderful little munchkins, and all the love and old hymns that abound there. I miss being able to shoot a shot-gun. I miss being a country girl. I'm listening to "Church in the Wildwood" sung by Andy Griffith, and it pricks a pain in my heart for all things country.

I miss my friends from high school. My friends who are in Bakersfield and all over the world. My friends who call me "Cinnabon." My friends who remember what I was like during my freshman year of high school and can look at me now and see how God works to change hearts. My friends who know that the only reason I am a sociology major is because God has changed me and my heart.

Don't get me wrong...I love Biola. It's a dream come true in so many ways. I still stop myself as I'm walking to class and remind myself that I am really truly a student at Biola. I look at my Torrey group and cannot figure out how I am so blessed to get to know these people. I sit in a lecture about Plato given by Dr. Reynolds and know that I am getting a top-notch education, and I could not wish for better. I make eye contact with Elizabeth and know that God put the two of us together as friends for a reason because we struggle with the same things, laugh at the same things, and find joy in many of the same things.

Despite these wonderful blessings at Biola, I will never be a SoCal girl at heart. My heart belongs in the country with clear blue skies, cowboy boots, Levi jeans, handmade flowered skirts, country music, dirt roads, pick-ups, bonfires on New Years Eve, and good home-cooked country chili with cornbread. I'm a little country girl who is ready to rock the world, as the song by Brooks and Dunn says.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Watching How God Works

My first debate tournament was on October 4, 2008. Or somewhere thereabouts. Two full years ago. Part of me feels like just yesterday I spent every day after school learning to write debate cases, learning what parli was, and figuring out that debate was harder than just about anything I had every done before. The other part of me feels like it was a lifetime ago. I was a completely different person two years ago.

I cannot believe the things God can do in two years. Two years ago, I was a quiet, stubborn, proud young woman. I am still a (sometimes) quiet, stubborn, proud young woman, but now at least I am aware of it. Because two years ago I had no idea. Joining the debate team, being forced to work with people who had personalities the complete opposite of mine, and learning to do something outside of my comfort zone taught me so much. I can't imagine the person I would have been if I hadn't been humbled through debate.

At the same time, my time on the debate team taught me to lighten up and enjoy life. My junior and senior years of high school would have been so much less exciting had I not learned to lighten up and enjoy life.

I just finished my first Torrey Mid Rags. Looking back over the past two years, I cannot see myself being in Torrey and doing well in Torrey without my debate experience. I would not have been nearly as connected with people or interested in people as I am today had I not gotten to know the wonderful people on my debate team who taught me not to judge people by outward appearance or first impressions. Without this experience, I certainly would not be a sociology major right now. I would not have a desire to grow outside my comfort zone had I not joined the debate team and worked my tail off for the sake of a stinkin' seven-minute parli speech. I would not have learned that one of the greatest joys you can have is the joy of accomplishing something that seemed impossible like I did when I got first place in extemp. Had I not learned that lesson and experienced that joy, I would have had no motivation to apply for the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University. Had I not learned how to talk coherently and analyze the written and spoken word in debate and speech, I would not have done well in my first Mid Rags. I can see so clearly now how God took a quiet, stubborn, prideful young woman, stuck her on the Bakersfield Christian High School Forensics Team, taught her humility, love for people, and how to "come out of her shell;" then He transplanted that same young woman and put her at Biola University in the Torrey Honors Institute so she could be molded and shaped by some of the greatest minds of the past, present, and future to become a woman that desires to love God, love people, and pursue goodness, truth, and beauty.

God does know what He's doing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


When I hear something really great, I like to ponder it for a while. Sometimes that while turns into a long while. If it's something funny, I am likely to write it down in my quote book or post it on Facebook. If it is a serious quote, I am likely to write it in the back of my Torrey Bible, write in my journal about it, write a blog post about it, text it to one of my friends, go on and on about it when I talk to someone, or all of the above.

I went to Grace Evangelical Free Church in La Mirada for church this morning. I was struck anew with something that I try to constantly remember, but constantly fail: wonder.

Wonder is a tricky thing. You can't try to wonder: that defeats the purpose. True, real, genuine wonder is not something you can practice and become good at. Which means that when you have been raised in a Christian family, gone to Christian schools for your whole life, and areat a Christian have to find new ways to rediscover the wonder of God's love.

The text for the sermon was on Isaiah 42 and 43. In chapter 42, especially near the end, Isaiah tells Israel what royal idiots they are. Which reminds me of myself. I am such a royal idiot sometimes. More than sometimes. But Isaiah goes on to say in chapter 43 that God loves Israel anyway. He deeply loves Israel. He knows them by name, claims them as His people, gives men in exchange for them, holds them as precious to Himself. Even though they are idiots who constantly disobey Him.

So often I forget how potent the word of God is. If I take time to really look at it, it can renew my wonder for God's love. Reading certain verses still gives me chills even though I have read those same verses at least a hundred times.

I forget how much of an idiot I am. How I fail to trust God. How I fail to look to Him in so many areas. How I still think of myself first instead of others. And the sad thing is, I rarely see it when I'm doing it. But when I do see it, it makes me repulsed with myself.

Then I read verses like Isaiah 43 and realize that God loves this dirty little thing known as me. He sees me as precious, and He tells me He loves me. It fills me with wonder and how this could possibly be.

One quote from the sermon: "Our wonder for God is our witness to Him."

I want people to see my wonder for God and say, "Has she really known God for years? His love still seems so wonderful to her. I want that."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Exploded Mind in Blog Post Form

Why do I always walk out a Reynolds lecture feeling more depressed, inspired, doomed, encouraged, confused, and enlightened?

All at the same time.

For Torrey students: Imagine a session Dante's Paradise with Dr. Campbell and then a Reynolds lecture on Plato. Yes. That really happened.

For non-Torrey people: Imagine having your brain removed, put into a blender, and then put back in your head and then being told to go out into the world and function. That was what I experienced tonight.

I walked away with so many musing. The essence of education is not to train me for whatever I plan to do after graduation. It isn't to get me to know the facts. It's to build my character. It gives me a brand new way of looking at my education. I'm not here to figure out to get my reading done most quickly so I have time to still hang out with my friends. It's about how much I can get out of the text. I am so conditioned into the English class reading where I spend the whole time looking for answers to reading comprehension questions that I perpetually forget that this text is what is important. That skimming doesn't work. That session will be even more enjoyable once I learn to love whichever book I'm reading. I am here to become a virtuous young woman who follows Christ. There's no short-cut to learning virtue. Hard work brings out the best and the worst in people. I think education is fundamentally about doing the hard work and teaching yourself to go through the hard work so that it brings out the best in you instead of the worst. And, along the way, learning important lessons from Plato, Dante, Virgil, Homer, and all those other dead guys.

I need to learn to know myself first. I'm not being selfish. But before I can go out and do amazing things for the world, it would help if I had a few things worked out first. Like what I believe. Because some days I honestly don't know. Like who I am and why I matter to God. Like what is the purpose of this whole adventure I've come to know as life. Big questions. I need to answer each and every one of these (along with others) before I can try to answer these questions for others. Walking into a coffee shop and telling the waitress she should believe in Christ because Dr. Reynolds has this awesome little quip isn't going to cut it. I have to really know it and love it for myself.

It's okay that I am confused. In fact, if I wasn't confused right now, there would be something very wrong. As a Torrey freshman, I am supposed to feel overwhelmed, confused, bewildered, and maybe even frightened. My guess is that this is the humbling process, which is something I have desperately needed and will continue to need.

Something else got me to thinking: Dr. Reynolds asked us, "Do you love people, or do you love what they can do for you?" Considering I just changed my major to sociology, a very people-related field, this is a good question for me to be asking. I like to think of people as living stories, but sometimes I forget to see them that way. I forget that they have pasts, presents, and futures, that they experience emotions, that they need to be served. I reduce them to one aspect of their personality. But people aren't here for me to know them by how they can best help me. People are here to be loved. If I see people for what they can to do for me, I will turn into Judas. That is a sobering thought. Judas used the King of kings for personal gain. That is not what I want to turn into. Christ says that what I do to the least of these, I do to Him. If that's true, when I love people because of what I can get out of them, I am doing this to Christ. I am being a Judas. The one Christ said it would have been better for him if he was never born. Criminy.

Lastly, if I wasn't already convicted enough, Dr. Reynolds issued to us a challenge: Are you willing to wonder? Wondering is hard work. It makes you question the very essence of life. I will question my most deeply-held beliefs. I will have to consider on any given issue, that I may be wrong and that if I am, this could change my entire worldview. But the good news is that wonder never ceases. It will keep happening and keep making me grow. It will be what builds me into a virtuous young woman: wondering and thinking.

I'm so confused right now. Yet so satisfied with my mind as it is. That's what a steady diet of goodness, truth, and beauty does to a young soul who isn't used to being challenged beyond what she could ever imagine.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bad News and Good News

The bad news is that I think I'm getting sick.

The good news is that I think I figured out what my major is going to be.

The bad news is I can't take American Sign Language for my foreign language credit (unless I'm willing to take the full 12 units required to be "proficient"), and instead I have to take Intermediate Spanish next semester. I am going to fail epicly.

The good news is that after this semester I will have all my math and science gen ed credit complete.

The bad news is that if I change my major to what I want to change it to, I will have to take a computer analytics/statistics course. Yuck.

The good news is that the major I want to change to only requires 30 units of major classes, so I can minor in something and/or take some classes for fun (logic, philosophy, education, ASL, psychology, art, or even some Bible classes).

The bad news is that I'm worrying if I am cut out for this major and this job.

The good news is that I have God here with me no matter what happens.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Deepest Gladness and Deep Need

My friend Jessica Carter passed on a jewel of a quote to me last week, and it has been on my mind ever since.

"The place to where God has called you is where your deepest gladness meets the world's deep need." -Frederick Beuchner

I thought long and hard about this. I get joy out of writing. Sometimes. I used to think it was my deepest gladness, but hours of staring at a blank computer screen have taught me otherwise. Writing is more accurately one of my favorite pastimes, my way of escaping from the crazy world of college and being in control of something for once. It's therapuetic. My way of procrastinating. But only when it is done my way. Which means that writing for a career may not be a swell idea.

My deepest gladness so far in college has been being around people. Talking with people, working with people, playing games with people. More accurately, I love kids. I long each day to hold an infant, help a toddler learn to walk, play catch with a 5-year-old, play dress up with a 10-year-old (do 10-year-old girls even play dress-up anymore?), help a 13-year-old with her homework, and talk about life with a 16-year old. I love getting to know a small group of people so well that they know my loves and hates, and I know theirs.

The world's deepest need part ties in quite well with children. Children are the ones mistreated by this world in so many ways because they are so innocent. Children are the ones who are abused, neglected, spoiled, hurt, sold into slavery, and even murdered and are completely incapable of doing anything against it because oftentimes they don't even know their abusers are wrong for doing so. I want to change that.

My dream is to set up a home for children like these. They could be taught how to live like Christ. How to be disciplined. How to do hard work. How to love others. Basically, I want to spend my life loving on kids who didn't know love existed.

That's where my deepest gladness meets the world's deep need.

What I Have Learned in College So Far

-I really don't know what I am talking about most of the time. When I do know what I am talking about, it is through no feat of my own.

-Everything relates back to Dante.

-Whenever something is burning or firey, the gods are involved, and that is always bad.

-Do not go into caves.

-17 Torrey students find it impossible to define what a hero is, given three hours with which to determine an answer. Hercules defines it in three seconds.

-Dante's Divine Comedy was not meant to be funny.

-As far as one-up-ing goes in the war of epic poetry, Hercules wins. Apparently Disney beats Homer, Virgil, and Dante...

-Limbo = being at APU with your car totaled. Ante-Purgatory = being at Biola, sitting at the Fluer Fountain with a latte in your hand with your car broke down while you are wanting to be at Disneyland with your Torrey group. Purgatory = being caught in traffic on your way to Disneyland.

-Plato and play-doh make life better.

-Church ladies are Stalin.

-If you have an affectionate tour guide, you know you're in Hell.

-Hercules is much more entertaining when you can critique how terribly it reflects true Greek mythology.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ah Ha! Moments

I love "ah ha!" moments. I've gotten a lot of them since starting college. Sometimes they pertain to the Iliad, sometimes they pertain to my walk with God, sometimes they just pertain to a joke that I was too thick-headed to get until five minutes after the joke was first made...but I still love "ah ha!" moments. Here are my latest...

-When I realized in the middle of the lecture Timothy Goeglein gave tonight why Killer Angels is such an important book. (Apparently Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a scholar who read the Great Books, and that helped him form battle tactics so that the 20th Maine could hold their position at the Battle of Gettysburg on Little Rountop...which allowed the Union to win the battle. Who knew that Torrey could connect itself to a seemingly pointless book from my AP U.S. History class?)

-When I heard the song "Before the Throne" in chapel today and realized anew that the "great High Priest whose name is Love" loves me enough to die for me.

-When I looked up the specifics of a sociology major and discovered that it might actually be the perfect major for what I want to do with my life.

-When I realized again why God put certain people in my life. People who finish my sentences, read my mind, and know my heart.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Something Pretty Awesome

Right now I am listening to my high school mentor, Dustin Adams, interview Dr. John Mark Reynolds, the founder of the Torrey Honors Institute. Two of the greatest men in my life talking to each other over the radio. The two men who really get me to think are talking about philosophy. The two men who have taught me the most are sharing ideas. Pure amazingness.

By the way, this is just more evidence that I am a Torrey nerd and proud of it.


I have no idea how many people read my blog. I know there are blogs I "follow" but don't always read, and blogs I read, but don't "follow." So I don't know how many people who read this are my friends on Facebook or how many people check this thing even when I don't post a link on Facebook, but I figured I would put an update here: I have deactivated my Facebook account for a week, possibly longer. I am hoping I have the self-discipline to actually keep it deactivated for a week. I feel like I need time away from the "addiction," so to speak, of Facebook. I spend way too much time on there, and it needs to stop. Plus, I have a load of work that needs to get done, and procrastinating it on Facebook doesn't help.

By no means am I trying to separate myself from the world and disappear into the sphere of Biola. Please call me, text me, e-mail me, come knock on my dorm room door, track me down in the library...I love people, and it's hard knowing that I have severed the only connection I have with some of my friends, but God comes first. Way too much of the time I spend on facebook should be spent focusing on Him. I have come to use Facebook as a relaxation and wind-down time after classes and Torrey sessions. Truly, it needs to be God I go to to rejuvinate me, not a website.

Continue to check back here because I still need a creative place to let loose all my craziness and so far this seems to be working. I will update regularly.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Wow, we are SUCH Torrey kids..."

That is probably the single phrase heard most often within our group at any given time.

You hear such a phrase when we get excited about drawing Achilles's shield.

You hear that phrase when we identify where we're sitting in the caf by saying, "The table with all the books. My Bible, Purgatory, and Inferno."

You hear it when we call each other "Miss" or "Mr." outside of Torrey session.

You hear it when you spend the best hours of the day in the library.

You hear it when we make comments involving "What the Hell?!" and instantly know that that person is reading Inferno.

You hear it when we compare Beowulf to Jesus, then Adam, then Jesus again.

You hear it when we give each other dirty looks for mentioning the words fate and destiny together.

You hear it when we argue over who spends more time in the library.

You hear it when you realize the funniest thing you have seen so far is a bust of Plato with a container of play-doh on top of his head in Dr. Reynolds's office.

You hear it when every conversation involves a reference to Narnia, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, or Star Trek.

Wow, we are such Torrey kids.

It's 1 a.m. And I'm Awake.

If it was two months ago, this would be a significant event. Now, it's kind of expected. I stay up to the wee hours of the morning reading, writing, talking... Not to mention that I wore two articles of clothing that my high school does not approve of: a bandana and a tank top...I feel like a rebel.

I also tried asparagus and was surprised to discover that taking a bite of Junior and Archibald wasn't as traumatizing as I expected. Maybe that's a sign that I'm growing up.

Another random bit of information: I have totally amazing friends. Who giggle with me in the library when we both know I need to be working but would rather be talking about anything but Dante. Who walk all the way across campus to escort me to my dorm. Who text me just to see how I'm doing. Who make me cupcakes on my birthday (yes, I'm still super excited about that). Who try to teach me to ride a scooter. They're pretty awesome. And I thank God for them everyday.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Early Morning Moments with God

Eight o'clock on a Sunday morning. I love this time of day. My roommate is at home for the weekend, the dorm hall is quiet, and it's cloudy outside. Perfect time to focus.

I flipped though my Bible, looking for something "significant" to learn. My eyes flew over the book of Zephaniah, and I remembered a verse in that book that had changed my life when I was sixteen. Scanning the pages, I found the verse:

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."
-Zephaniah 3:17

When I heard this verse when I was sixteen, it was at a time that I had really been questioning whether God cared about me. Between this verse, the last verse of the song "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," and a message given by one of the Bible teachers at my high school, I was shown that God cared about me, His child.

As I reread this verse this morning, I was struck by how little I realize the truth in this verse. Being raised in a Christian home, going to Christian schools, the wonder and joy of the Christian walk has become less of a wonder and a joy. I had a conversation with some friends a couple of nights ago about philosophies of education, and sometimes I wish I had gone to public school my whole life, so that coming to Biola, I could have a deeper appreciation for the Christian community which I have come to take for granted.

I want to rediscover this verse and the joys within this verse. I want to feel the presence of God surrounding me. I want to realize anew the miracle of the cross. I want to dance because I am so overwhelmed with the love of Christ.

But right now I feel like I have lost that wonder.

Now that I think about it...that has been a recurring theme since I started school hear...remembering how to wonder.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

College Rehash

High school, especially the last two years, were some of the best times of my life. So many great memories from classes, friends, Hume Lake trips, debate trips...I didn't think it could get any better. But then I went to college.

It's not that I am so happy because I have different friends, am living in a different place, or even that I'm finally at my dream school. I'm happy because I am being stretched by God to incredible measures. He is bestowing such huge amounts of blessings on me, that I'm not quite sure how to respond. Obviously, I thank Him with my whole heart every day, but other than that, I'm just so astounded that I don't know what to do. I'm almost afraid that it won't last...that it's just a really vivid dream.

Him to whom much is given, much is expected...or something like that. If that's the case, much is expected of me. I have the whole world at my fingertips. I have the opportunity to read some of the greatest books of all time and discuss them with some of the greatest minds of the Christian community (my tutors) and of my generation (my Torrey group). I'm living in a community centered around Christ and His Kingdom. How am I going to live up to my end of the bargain and pay this back to God, so to speak? How am I going to use these blessings for His glory?

So many questions and decisions...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Did I Get For My Birthday? A Blown Mind.

I spent my 18th birthday away from home. But, man...was it a good birthday!

My friends sent me numerous texts, Facebook messages, and voicemail messages on my birthday. I went to a concert the night before my birthday. I got sung to in the middle of the caf and in front of the mailboxes. And at the beginning of Dr. Jenson's lecture. I felt loved, and it was great.

The day after my birthday, I had a Torrey session, my first session in a week, and I was looking forward to it. As we sat in our classroom waiting for our tutor, a sophomore poked his head in and asked, "How fast can you run? Because you guys are late for your first Reynolds session."

Naturally, we booked it to Dr. Reynolds's office.

So after we (well, most of us) got seated, Dr. Reynolds walks in with a platter full of cupcakes, made for me for my birthday by the amazing Amanda Viel. And of course, I got sung to. Again.

The session was amazing. For anyone who does not know what Torrey is, I will cut the chit-chat and just say that the discussion we had blew my mind. I cannot even begin to list what we talked about because it all requires so much depth that I am completely inadequate of covering. Suffice it to say that I was humbled, slapped in the face (metaphorically), and thoroughly encouraged...all in three hours. Not to mention that my brain completely exploded from the sheer fascination of it all.

If that wasn't enough, I had a great discussion with some of the people from my group afterwards. I learned how they pulled off the cupcake thing, which I think was so kind of them. I felt incredibly loved. After all, I have known these people less than a month, and they took the time to plan a birthday surprise for me. I know without a doubt that God put me in Quadratus, with this group of people, in Torrey, and at Biola for a reason. God...all I can say is thank You.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Randomness of College

So much amazing stuff happens in college. It's awesome. Here's a sampling...

-Having a mind-blowing Torrey session, and then having a lovely discussion on how to discuss better.
-Berry Cool. Three days in a row. Each time with amazing people.
-Praying with my Torrey group.
-Getting lost in La Mirada. At night.
-Wearing a toga.
-Reading the Odyssey sitting in the Sigma lobby.
-Playing Apples to Apples til way too late.
-Making references to "destiny" and "fate" and almost getting punched for doing so.
-Holing up in the Biola library for hours at a time.
-Swing dancing!
-Dancing around my dorm room because I'm so excited.
-Little victories. Like scheduling office hours with Professor Klapauzak.
-Watching hundreds of people praising God with you, lifting their hands to Him.
-Singing "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" with everyone from Sigma.
-Realizing that for six years, I have said I "want" to go to Biola, I "will" go to Biola, and realizing that now I actually, really, truly, do go to Biola.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Right Choice

So many times within the last week I have prayed this prayer of thanksgiving, joy, and relief:

"Oh, God...I made the right choice."

I have wanted to go to Biola since I was 12, and now I'm almost 18. For about a year, I doubted my desire to go to Biola, saying that I didn't want to live in Southern California. But, then I decided to apply anyway, almost as a afterthought, since I had been so interested in it for so long. I thought it would be a good back-up school. When I got my acceptance letter, my response was something along the lines of "Oh, I got into another school. Yippee."

Ever since then, God has been working on my heart. He pointed me to Torrey. He showed me hidden gems of Biola that made me want to go there. Then I got the financial aid estimate, which was about equal to (though slightly less than) the estimate from my other top school. I chose Biola even when I didn't know if I would be accepted to Torrey or not.

Ever since I made the decision on March 21, 2010, I have been praying that I made the right decision. When I thought some of my financial aid had been cancelled, I prayed I had made the right decision. When I realized how much books would cost, I prayed I had made the right decision. When I got sick a week before I was supposed to move onto campus and stayed sick for a full two weeks, I prayed I had made the right decision. When I was missing my family and discovering the trouble they were having getting my brother home from school without me to drive him, I prayed I had made the right decision.

After a week here, I know I have made the right decision.

So many times, I have smiled and just thanked God with my heart because words were not enough. When I was greeted with a hug when I walked onto campus on the first day of Torrientation. When my father prayed over me at the communion service. When I heard Dr. Reynolds speak at the Torrientation events. When my seers took time to say hi to me and see how I was doing. When I heard someone I had only known a week call out my name. When I met my Torrey group for lunch. When I spent hours in the library reading the Iliad (and laughing). Each time, I breathed, "Oh, God...I made the right choice."

Friday, August 20, 2010

So Much

So much has happened in the last few days. I left for college. It's so much to take in. I've laughed and I've cried. I've cried because I felt so blessed by God and I've cried because I felt so homesick for my family, my friends, my high school, my church, and all that was "home" to me.

I've been able to get to know wonderful men and women of God. They have prayed for me and with me. I've met fellow freshmen who will become some of my closest friends here at Biola, Lord willing.

I am thoroughly exhausted both physically and emotionally. These past four days have been some of the most important of my life as far as bringing me closer to God and trusting Him to make me feel that home is whenever I am with Him. I have so enjoyed the many little (and big) blessings He has given me this week. On top of that, I have had tons of fun, and laughed a lot.

At the same time, this week has been one of the most trying of my life. I think there are only about three other weeks in my life that could compare. I have felt so lonely, not due to lack of people around me, but due to the lack of people who I haved cared about in Bakersfield. Being sick has not helped. I longed for the sound of my parents coming into my room with orange juice and medicine to take care of me. Instead, I had to take care of myself. I longed for a hug from Ryan, but he is 100 miles away. I longed to plop down on my mom's bed and tell her my woes. I longed to walk into one of the classrooms at my high school and be greeted by a hug and a listening ear.

Tomorrow, my dad is driving down to see me and be here for opening weekend. I can't remember the last time I so desperately wanted to see my father.

It will get better. I know it will. God is with me, after all, so I shouldn't be afriad, whether things go the way I hope or not. One day at a time. One step at a time. One breath at a time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Half-Way

I'm half-way a romantic and half-way a cynic.

I'm half-way a sensible girl and half-way a rebellious one.

I'm half-way a creative and half-way logical.

I'm half-way smart and half-way idiotic.

I'm half-way shy and half-way outgoing.

I'm half-way cautious and half-way impulsive.

I'm half-way a debater and half-way a listener.

I'm half-way wise and half-way foolish.

I'm half-way serious and half-way silly.

I'm half-way a woman and half-way still a girl.

I'm me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dang it!

I was on the radio yesterday, and I really enjoyed it. But now I can't stop thinking about how I should have said one thing instead of another, or how I didn't mention a certain thing, or how I probably sounded like a ditz. I wish I had mentioned the doubts I went through during my junior year of high school. I had it all written out in my notes, but I was determined not to read off my notes (and I had no idea how long the little bio spiel was supposed to last). That's what happens when you're a debater. You know you could talk forever, so you cut it short, hoping you didn't ramble for too long, but also said at least something half-way decent.

Then I worry that I sounded like this little high schooler who has just the peachy little life and gets to go to amazing colleges because she's a spoiled rich kid. Well, I'm not a high schooler (anymore), and I don't have a peachy little life (which I failed to mention because a) I forgot and b) I didn't want to talk about certain parts of it on live radio). About the spoiled part...I guess that all depends on your perspective. I would definitely call myself blessed, but not really spoiled. And I'm not rich. At all. And I guess people who really know me won't get that impression, or at the very least, won't tell me that they got that impression.

To be honest, I can't even remember everything I said. It went by really fast. I remember trying not to burst out laughing when the host played those nutty sound clips (including but not limited to some Aslan quote from the Narnia movie or the radio drama series or something, the Oompa Loompa song, the "Imagination" song from the old Willy Wonka movie, something about nerds [at least it wasn't in reference to me] and a laugh track.) I also remember laughing into the mic, probably sounding like a giggly little junior higher. Great.

On a similar-yet-not-so-similar note, I got lost in the parking lot trying to find the radio station. How does one get lost in a parking lot?!

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Passion

I love kids. All kids from infancy to teenagerdom. Actually, I love kids before infancy because I think they're the living handywork of God, then, too. I want to spend much of my time with these kids. Kids make me feel tired, but not in a "I can't deal with them anymore" way, but more in a "I feel like I've given something back" kind of way.

One day, while I was housesitting, and idea came to me quite suddenly. Why not set up a ranch for kids in troubled situations? Anything from rebelliousness to kids who are abused to even kids who have some type of handicap. This idea took many forms as I thought about it in the last few weeks. I thought about adopting kids and taking in foster kids. I thought about setting up a ranch get-away type thing.

No matter how the fine details work out, there are some things about it which I am passionate about. I want these kids to learn the value of hard work. I want them to learn the value of love. And I want this to be in a Christian environment. Those are the three absolute "Musts." Then there are the "Maybes." These points include homeschooling the kids who are living on the ranch, raising chickens, having nightly worship, and teaching the kids to cook and deal with animals. I even have "maybe" idea of using the barn that my family has as the living/dining quarters. My dad built that barn, but sort of loss his passion for building and maintaining it. I've always loved that place and never wanted him to sell it. We set it up so that, if necessary, it could be adapted to live in. In my seventeen-year-old eyes, it would be perfect with enough fixing up.

I know God gave me this idea and this passion for a reason. I have no idea how the finer points will work out, how the legalities will play out, and if this will change my major for college. I'm letting God worry about all of that. But when I have such a powerful idea that I can't go to sleep at night at midnight until I've written out all my ideas and looked up Bible passages about it, then I know it's an idea from God.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm Excited

I don't get excited a lot, but I'm excited today. I got to see a bunch of my friends today who I haven't see since the beginning of the summer (then the sad rolls in when I remember that I have to leave all of them).

I got to go to FUEL last night after missing it for three weeks in a row. I got to see some amazing people, and worship God. Which always makes me wish for heaven.

Tomorrow my cousins are coming over! I haven't seen them in more than FOUR YEARS. And I get to see them tomorrow!

I get to be on the radio on Saturday! Which makes me a little nervous, but a lot excited.

I get to go to church on Sunday and see everyone there. Which, again, makes me sad, because then I remember that I have known these people for thirteen years, and they have watched me grow up from a little munchkin to a big munchkin, and now I have to leave them. I'll be back, of course, but it's still sad that I won't see them every Sunday like I'm used to.

And then next week I have a load of not-yet-etched-in-stone plans. Like calling up Marie and Austin and seeing if they will help me pack. Like taking Marissa to Starbucks. Like hanging out with Brice at one time or another. Like kidnapping Tamara and convincing her to apply to Biola. Like taking some kind of mini road trip with Cassie and having a movie night...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Still Need To Get...

Rain boots. Preferably with a pretty design on them. Preferably from Payless or Ross. Preferably cheap.

Duct Tape. Actually, I would love to find the roll I probably still have somewhere and kept in my backpack for a few weeks as a standing threat to boys with mouths that never close.

Conditioner. Something that works. Which narrows the field. And something cheap. Which erases the field.

Binders. At least those are cheap.

Printer paper. Wish I could liven that up some. But I'm guessing most profs won't be as forgiving as Mr. Sadowsky was regarding neon green paper.

More socks. Since mine keep disappearing.

A water filter. Apparently SoCal water is gross. Which makes me wonder: Is Bakersfield SoCal? Because I like Bakersfield tap water...

More boxes. So I can store all this stuff on the back patio and give my cousins the illusion that my room is neat, the house is clean, and that I am Susie-homemaker.

Motivation. That would be nice. So I could blaze through Manalive and the Odyssey and write notes. Not to mention pack.

A car. Wishful thinking.

A dog. Because I miss mine so much and really want to cuddle with him right now and get a kiss from him.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom From Various Places

On Prayer:
"Prayer is more than words; it is an attitude of the surrendered heart to be conformed into the image of Christ." -Josh McDowell
"Prayer doesn't 'work.' God works." -Dustin Adams

On the Christian life:
"Morality is not our god. Jesus is our God." -Anonymous
"There's nothing like your heart being at rest with God." -G. Bruce Hatton
"God isn't a Build-a-Bear god." -Andrew Levins
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." -Jim Elliot
"My task is to love God, make God loved, and lay down my life to these ends." -Elisabeth Elliot
"Keep making God smile!" -Gabi Hickman
"Life is repentance." -Martin Luther
"Life is so much more exciting when you give it away." -Dustin Adams

On Beauty:
"I'm so thankful for friendship. It beautifies life so much." -L.M. Montgomery
"Her beauty was not her own." -Jill Mason

On the Sanctity of Human Life:
"The womb is holy ground." -Dustin Adams
"Because, after all, a person's a person, no matter how small." -Dr. Suess
"If you don't believe the baby in the womb is the living handywork of God, you will do nothing to protect it." -Come What May

Friday, July 30, 2010

Perfect Love

Last night, I sat down, intending to read a chapter or two of the Bible, but it didn't happen. For some reason, a verse kept running through my head, so I finally said, "Alright, God. I'll look it up and think about it, okay?"

The verse turned out to be 1 John 4:18, which says, "There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." That verse brought me a lot of emotions. First, it was intense relief, the kind that brings about tears. For much of my life, I have lived in fear of many things. But this verse assures me that perfect love, the love from God, drives out these fears. I don't need to fear all the things I have in the past, because of Christ's love that wraps me up and protects me. The things I fear may still show up in my life, but because Christ is in control of how my life works out, I don't need to worry about how these things might affect me.

Second, I felt a longing. I want to know that perfect love. I am a Christian, but sometimes I just don't feel that perfect love. I had a deep longing to be wrapped and covered by God's love. At this point I suddenly stopped. "Wait a minute," I thought. "I've been a Christian for four years and I still don't fully know God's love? God's love is the foundation of Christianity. If I feel as if I have a rudementary experience of the most basic gift from God, then how much else is out there that I don't understand?" I was struck with how little I actually know about God. He is so much more powerful than I can even imagine if His love and drive out all of my many fears.

As I'm considering how complex the Lord I serve truly is, I am reminded that He is simple enough to make it into the hearts of children. At Vacation Bible School I watch kids learn about Him and learn to love Him. The God I contemplate is the same God that numerous people write about on a daily basis (and still don't even come close to explaining how deep this God is), and is also the same God that little children can understand with a simple "Jesus love me, this I know." That's what I call perfect love.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Am Very Tempted

Right now, I am quite tempted to set my Facebook status as a pro-life and/or pro-traditional-family rant, just to see how angry some of my Facebook friends who are on the opposite side of those stants would get. I am particularly interested in how a lesbian friend of mine would react.

Then I remember one of my favorite movies, Come What May, and how the female main character acted when proposed with a situation like that. She stood up for what she believed in, but didn't do it just to anger people, but if she knew it would have a purpose.

But I'm not a fictional debater-heroine. I am a Christian kid who gets sick and tired of how people tell me to be "tolerant" but aren't tolerant of my intolerance of mistreatment of humans. So I may do it anyway. And I think I have a really good one in mind...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Highlights of My Three-ish Day Vacation

-Harvey's maiden voyage to Northern California!

-I learned how to drive on the two lane I-5. Learning how to pass trucks at 80 miles and hour with getting run over by someone else is a lost art.

-As I drove through the Bay area I saw a sign that said: Oakland...23. It all makes sense now. On a similar note, I made it all the way through Oakland with seeing a single Raiders-anything. I wasn't so lucky on the way back.

-Drove through Berkeley. Good-bye, Berkeley!

-Arrived at approximately 2 am in Fortuna, Ca, and promptly crashed.

-I went to breakfast in the hotel lobby and got juice in a cup that said it made from corn and 100% compostable. Hello, liberal-land.

-Drove through Rio Dell, where my great-grandfather lived. Everything is just like it was eight years ago.

-Drove through Scotia, where my great-grandfather worked on the PALCO Mill. The mill is now shut down. Such a sad sight.

-Saw license plates from the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California (duh), Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennesse, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. All in three and a half days. (It's a family hobby. we look for license plates from other states...yes, we're weird.)

-I walked into the Loleta Cheese Factory wearing my Biola sweatshirt, and the girl behind the counter asked if I went to Biola. Turns out, she is from Ridgecrest (only a couple hours from where I live) and she goes to Point Loma.

-Drove over a 99 year old bridge that was the only bridge to survive the flood of 1964.

-Drove to Ferndale! We saw the Church of the Assumption, where my great-grandfather was baptized about 110 years ago. Then we realized that I left the card thingie for my new camera at home. Eight hours away. Go figure. So we walked down to the drug store (the oldest continually open drugstore in California). Then I toured Ferndale (population 1430) and took pictures and looked in the shops.

-Drove to Honeydew. This town consists of a store, a post office, and half a dozen marijuana users. Lovely.

-Drove to Briceland which was made up of a dozen run-down shacks and (as our local friend informed us), the "growers" of the aforementioned product.

-Drove through the Avenue of the Giants where I got to see all of the huge Redwoods. We stopped at what is called the Four Fireplaces, a monument designed by Julia Morgan. It was my great-grandmother's favorite picnic spot.

-Saw the Immortal Tree that has survived forest fires, being struck by lightning, the axes of loggers, and the flood of 1964. Intense.

-Samoa Cookhouse...Twice.

-The beach! And agate hunting!

-Kayaking in Big Lagoon.

-I got to hear people refer to my great-grandfather by his nickname, "Irish."

-My great-grandfather's gravestone: Alva Edward O'Rourke. Born: March 13, 1899. Died: March 3, 2000. Ten days short of living to be 101.

-Saw a gravestone that read "Mary O'Rourke: native of Canada. Died Nov. 16 1908, age 83." She was the daughter or daughter-in-law of Patrick O'Rourke who immigrated from Ireland to Canada. Wow.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Precious Memories

As I prepare to leave for college, I am learning more and more acutely the importance of memories. Yesterday was the day I finally sat down to clean out my desk in which I found so many things to jog old memories. You see, when I find something that I want to keep but I don't want to see on a daily basis, I stick it in my desk. I found my first pair of glasses that I haven't worn since I was 12, all kinds of crafty materials, pictures that were taken 17 years ago, stickers from my "pioneer girl" phase when I was ten...Let's just say that I don't clean out my desk often.

But among all of these useless odds and ends, I found a stack of photos that I view as the "diamond in the rough." These photographs were mostly taken by my mother, which makes them valuable, because my mother is now unable to take pictures easily due to her MS. Then I looked at the content. One picture was of five first-grade students during a class party. I was one of those students. Two of remaining students graduated from high school with me. All I could say was, "Wow." We had all grown up together, learned from each other, experienced each other's happy and sad moments. The memories are indeed precious, as the old hymn says.

I found another picture of me and my brother sitting in a pile of leaves outside of my great-grandfather's house in Northern California. I appeared to be about four, which would have made my brother two. This photo was significant because I haven't been to that area in about ten years, but I am planning to leave tomorrow to return to that very area, where I spent so much time when I was young.

The last photo I found nearly stopped my heart. It was taken during a Christmas party when I was in third grade. I was decked out in a lovely purple cast from when I had broken my arm two months before. In the center of the picture was my third grade teacher, Mrs. Mitchell, and all of my class sat surrounding her. Mrs. Mitchell recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. We would never be together again until heaven, but this photo made me look forward to heaven more than ever, though I sorely missed the times past.

Some tell me I'm nostalgic and old-fashioned, and that is probably true. But there is something about memories that are so precious. Sometimes I will sit and replay old memories in my head. I am so grateful that God gave us the capacity to have memories. To remember the people He put in our lives. To remember the joys and even the sorrows. To remember the dramatic "firsts" and epic "lasts." Lord, thank You for memories.