Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moving... many people may have noticed, my posts on blogger have become very short because the enter button on my computer does not work when I'm writing posts on blogger. So, I am moving my blog to wordpress. My new blog title is "Drenched in Joy" and is available at Everything from blogger will still be there, so check it out! But, please be's still under construction.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent If the unheard, unspoken Word is unspoken, unheard; Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard, The Word without a word, the Word within The world and for the world; And the light shone in darkness and Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled About the centre of the silent Word." This stanza from T. S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday," along with help from Juliet, Austin, and Elizabeth, helped me begin to appreciate T. S. Eliot's high modernist poetry. On a half-way related note, it is weird to think that ten years ago, my family did not have Internet, cell phones, ipods, or laptops... Oh, the nineties...

I Need Beauty

I need beauty to keep me sane. Without some form of beauty, I get swept away by frustrations, worries, stresses, confusion, and the ever-present reminder that Biola is very expensive. Beauty reminds me that it's all worth it. That all shall be well. That the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That life will be all the more beautiful when I fight past the worries to find beauty.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hipster: (n.) Beatnick meets the '80s meets being raised in the '90s meets 21st century rebellion.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Joy: (n.) 1) sitting with my closest friends at Biola while eating Froot Loops, looking at a double rainbow, discussing worship music, and getting class credit for it. 2) Rachmaninoff.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

There's So Much I Could Write About Right Now...

Whether I would rather have love or happiness. What it means to be truly beautiful. Being willing to be confused and sound stupid for the sake of the love of learning. Being fake versus being real. The big True Grit poster my roomie put above her bed. Loving others so that I can love myself correctly. That love is worth it. Feeling displaced. Wishing that change will never come but knowing it will. Modernist poetry. That I just came from the first session in at least a week where I followed the discussion the entire time and came out feeling rejuvenated instead of discouraged. But, I don't think I'm going to write about any of it. I'm just going to wonder, think, and try to pray from the heart.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Computer Has a Vendetta Against Me...

My quirky computer,, and the "enter" key on my computer are not getting along. Thus, my blog posts come out as one long paragraph because Blogger refuses to recognize that I pressed enter (twice). And they remain that way until I can borrow Elizabeth's computer or make it to the library and fix it there. Here's to short blog posts in the near future.

Friday, April 1, 2011

One Year

I remember exactly what I was doing on April 1, 2010. It was a very important day. A day of joy, fears, and soul-searching.

One year ago, I had an interview with Dr. John Mark Reynolds, and he told me that I was accepted to Torrey, this program I had applied to with only a vague idea of what it was about. After the interview, I promptly freaked out. I didn't know what I was getting into or if I could handle it. I find it funny that exactly one year later I am sitting in my dorm room at Biola listening to Rachmaninoff and (sort of) reading Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, still worrying about how I'm going to make it through.

One year ago, I was told with regard to this crazy Torrey venture, "Siobhan, if God has called you there, if John Mark Reynolds wants you there, and if you have a desire to be there, then you will make it."

One year later, I still hold onto that promise.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Math for a Torrey Student

550 pages of Dostoyevsky to read + a computer that doesn't work well + lots of paperwork to fill out for the BSA + decisions to make + needing to watch a softball game sometime before the season ends + cancelling on my GYRAD date + Kierkegaard's existential philosophy + being told my writing skills need work + jury duty summons + tax forms + not enough money + feeling inadequate for my future career + being homesick + worry about friends + less sleep than I like = 1 stressed Torrey student (stressed about too many little things that she can't control)

"When I talked about this with one of my other classes, one student kept saying, 'I don't want to be in pain or alone.' All I could think of was the opposite: what is that worth?" ~Dr. Peters

The easy life is fun, but it isn't worth anything. It doesn't help me grow. It doesn't teach me to endure. It isn't surrendered to God. That's what keeps me going.

The Truly Human Things

I am convinced that the majority of what we do as humans is not meant to be the crux of our existence. I (and many of my peers at college here) have spent most of this semester filling out paperwork, writing and editing papers about topics we usually aren't passionate about, scheduling time into our lives to breathe, worrying about finances, worrying about having enough time, worrying about what the future holds, worrying about whether our majors are applicable in this economy, trying to fix stubborn computers and trying to fit a lot of classes into a very short amount of time. I don't think this is what I was made to do.

I was made to grow, to learn, to think, to pray, to love, to read, to write, to share, to have joy. Instead I find myself forgetting about all of these things for large chunks of time. I forget that God wants me to be joyful (not happy, but joyful). While humanity was created to work, I think we are meant to enjoy our work. College is a time to do this. It is the one time in my life where I will work closely with people who genuinely care about me and my personal growth and where my "job" of being a student includes meeting with those in authority over me to talk about how I'm growing as a person and follower of Christ. I am incredibly thankful for this oppurtunity, but at the same time I wish it wasn't all crammed into four years. We are so busy making the most of this oppurtunity that we don't have time to love, to be loved, to rest, to think, to mold our hearts into lovers of what is good, true, and beautiful. Instead I am too busy worrying whether I will have time to finish everything (and I'm not even taking a full 18 units this semester) that I don't have time to stop and just be.

A few months ago I wrote about how I was sick of just "being." I wanted to move on to doing something. I now want the reverse. I want time to be an Torrey student who actually understands the text for once. I want time to go to the beach. I want to talk for hours with my friends and not feel like I'm neglecting the 500 pages of Dostoyevsky that still need to be read. I want to return to the truly human things. I want to read good books, talk about theology, wade in a creek, dance, bake bread, laugh, drink tea. I want to be human, not a machine that must finish task X before five o'clock.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"I don't have a fairy tale marriage, but my marriage has fairy tale moments."

~Mr. San Nicolas

Saturday, March 26, 2011


"We shall come, rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves."

Friday, March 25, 2011

More of God's Gifts That I Have Noticed Lately

21. Having my Torrey paper turned in!

22. Power adapters.

23. That I didn't have to pull an all-nighter this semester to write my paper.

24. Irish music.

25. The fact that no matter how terrible my paper is, Jesus still loves me.

26. People who like to bestow monetary blessings on college students.

27. Quadratus.

28. Jelly beans.

29. Texts that make me laugh.

30. Inspiring people.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Know It's Paper Week When...

  • My best friend is the thesaurus.
  • My power adapter for my laptop quits during the one time in the semester where I consider pulling all-nighters.
  • I spend more time in the library than anywhere else.
  • Torrey students are preparing to take over the SUB at approximately 9 pm Thursday night and will not release their hold until about 7 am Friday morning.
  • For once, no one wants Friday to come any sooner.
  • I experience immense guilt every time I post on my blog because I know that time should be spent editing my paper.
  • Six hours of sleep becomes "enough."
  • I consider taking an extension on Torrey reading.
  • My friends no longer greet me with, "Hi, how are you?" but instead, "Hi, how's your paper coming?"
  • Tea with caffeine late at night becomes a blessing instead of a curse.
  • I forget what day it is and start thinking my paper is due tomorrow.
  • I am much more thankful for the little things.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"On Gmail, whenever I click 'Save Now,' I think 'Hosanna!'... 'Autosave' insn't biblical."
~Dr. Sanders during our discussion on Psalms

I love my professors.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Thing

Tonight I got to chant Psalm 18 and Psalm 114 in Gregorian chant style.

It was beatuful to hear (not my chanting specifically, but the roomful of Torrey students chanting with me).

Monday, March 21, 2011


11. John Donne's divine poetry

12. The abundance of computers in the library

13. Friends with cars who drive me to Best Buy

14. Sleep

15. Ways to save money

16. A summer job!

17. Laughter

18. Tea

19. The combination of sunshine and rain

20. The mountains

Sunday, March 20, 2011

1,000 Gifts

One of my friends told me about a book called One Thousand Gifts that she is reading and how she is starting a project: listing 1,000 things she is thankful for. So, I am going to do it, too, and remind myself of what God is giving me each day.

1. Rain.

2. The smell of the world after it rains.

3. People who offer a ride home from church so my friends and I don't have to walk twenty minutes in the rain back to campus.

4. My church at home.

5. My church in La Mirada.

6. Being in Torrey.

7. My friends and family.

8. God-pleasing couples around me.

9. That Biola people are honest and turn in the flash drive I left in the library to the lost-and-found instead of taking it themselves.

10. The words to the hymn "All I Have Is Christ," specifically this verse:

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Surprised by Joy

I sat in my room, reading Psalms while sipping blueberry pomegranate tea and crunching on granola, listening to Rachmaninoff after having talked and laughed with some of my friends in the lobby just down the hall: a perfect end to any day. I was happy, joyful, excited for Missions Conference tomorrow, thankful to be in Torrey, and intrigued by the recent Torrey mystery.

Then I stumbled across a verse that described exactly how I felt.

" the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy."
~Psalm 63:7, ESV

Those words describe what I feel. Even though I'm still unsure what I will be doing this summer, how I will pay for the next year at Biola, or if I'll get the jobs I hope to, I will sing for joy, if only because I live in the shadow of His wings.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Quoting My Professors...

I am known to quote my professors when they say humorous or profound things. Especially the Torrey professors.

"Only the government could steal an hour of our sleep and call it Savings..."
~Dr. John Mark Reynolds

I think the funniest part of this quote to me is that I read it on the Scriptorium Daily blog ( under the new Twitter feed they added. My professors tweet. I find that a weird mix of scary, hilarious, and ironic.
The depth of the human soul amazes me. Yesterday (and into the wee hours of this morning) I spent 10 of my 18 waking hours talking with people over meals or just one-on-one about all kinds of things: theology, our past experiences, love, the nature of humanity, our purpose in this world, family, the future, God's provision...

And after 10 hours of talking with these people, I don't fell like I know them, even though I have "known" them for almost seven months. I want to get to know them more even after spending hours talking with them. The human soul is a glorious thing to be so deep that it takes years for us to uncover, and even then, I'm not sure we fully uncover the true entity of the soul.

I thank God that college gives me the time, the energy, and the excuse to stay up until 2 am talking about life.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Modernist poetry is like hipster clothing: its purpose is not to be beautiful but to be "unique."

Friday, March 11, 2011

On the Idea of Self

I am sick of myself.


You would think that constantly being wrapped up with myself, I would have gotten sick of myself sooner, but I haven't. What does that say about my ego?

I wish there was somewhere I could go where there would not be the perpetual reminder from the world saying, "You are the important one. You are what your life is all about. You are what the world is all about." But it has been so ingrained into me, that even if I go somewhere without advertisements, billboards, self-help books, and coffee shops, I will still have this mentality. I will still think that everything is important in relation to me, not that I might be important because of Someone else, not because of myself.

I am glad that I am in a place where I get this feeling. I feel inadequate, inept, and humbled. I thank God for putting me in a place where I am intellectually humbled. I am not all that important. God does not need my help, but allows me to help in His grand plan. The world is not waited with baited breath to find out what is on my mind. Others are more important than I am.
Inspired by this ( post by Dr. John Mark Reynolds.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Highlight of My Day...

...was singing my absolute favorite hymn, "Come Thou Fount," surrounded by the group of people at Biola that I love most.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Church in the Wildwood

There's a church in the valley by the wildwood
No lovelier place in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the dale.

How sweet, on a clear Sabbath morning
To listen to the clear ringing bells
Its tones, so sweetly, are calling
Oh, come to the church in the vale.

Oh, come, come, come, come
Come to the church in the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.

I really, really miss my church. Old hymns, potlucks, people who have known me since I was four years old, babies and expectant mothers, my pastor, the sound of the creek as we sing the opening hymns, the kids that I miss watching as they grow up, the old-fashioned love for Jesus without any "new-and-improved" methods.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Music and Memories

For some reason (and I know exactly why), "Wild World" and "Miles From Nowhere" by Cat Stevens and "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd make me really miss my brother. And I haven't missed him in a long time. I think "Summertime Dream" by Gordon Lightfoot, "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles, and "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey make that list, too. He introduced me to these songs (and other "good" music) during our daily driving to school adventures.

I don't appreciate my family enough. And college is teaching me to. I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to learn that lesson.

I have also been humming the first few chords of "By the Rising of the Moon" and it makes me miss my dad. It's an Irish freedom song, and he used to play it for me on the guitar when I was little. I used to beg him to play "the moon song." "God Bless the U.S.A." also reminds me of him. He has an unwavering loyalty to America, and this is the only song I've ever seen bring him to tears. It reminds me that he's human, too.

"Forever in Blue Jeans" by Neil Diamond makes me miss my mom. She loves Neil Diamond, and even though its sappy, my dad still bought the CD for her.

"Church in the Wildwood" (especially sung by Johnny Cash) and "Daddy Sang Bass" by Johnny Cash make me miss my church in Woody. I miss the old hymns, the people who have known me and watched me grow up, and the fact that it is in the country with cows and a creek right over the barbed wire fence.

Music brings back memories. God knew what he was doing when He created it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Quote of the Day

I found this quote scribbled on a piece of paper in my desk. I wrote it down the second week of last semester, the day after our first Reynolds session.

"Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I've been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is a part of the happiness then. That's the deal."


Friday, March 4, 2011

My Week Has Been...

  • Working all weekend and all week on homework and realizing that I'll still have to work long, hard, and late to get all my homework done on time.
  • Hitting the ball in softball class.
  • Seeing Kayla.
  • A second Reynolds session in one semester.
  • Encouragement from Mary Kate.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Facebook-free.
  • Canterbury Tales, As You Like It, and Hamlet.
  • Funny dinner-time conversations.
  • Friends who will be RAs in Sigma next year.
  • Naps in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Shoulder-length curly hair.
  • Strangers who walk up to me and ask if they can pray for me.
  • Sees candy.
  • Singing worship songs in Spanish.
  • Paper-writing, note-taking, test-passing, and too-much-stressing.
  • Being very frustrated with Turabian formatting yet again.
  • Sweaters and scarves.
  • Weird rumors about famous people applying to Biola and Torrey.
  • Tea and cookies in class.
  • Friends.
  • Friends who let me use their phones when AT&T cell reception shuts down for two days.
  • IT Helpdesk.
  • Southern gospel music.
  • Humor.
  • Prayers.
  • Being reminded that God will provide.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tonight Quadratus had their second Reynolds session of the semester...

My brain is exhausted, my heart aches, but my soul is encouraged.

I am very glad I had the foresight to take a nap before session today.

Laughter is good and brings people together.

I love hearing Dr. Reynolds talk about education.

And all this after I promised myself that my next post on my blog would not be about me.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Just Need to Process What's Going On

I am mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. The weekend is almost here, but I have two books to read and take notes on, a paper to write, a test to study for, a 7-10 page paper to start, pull questions to do...the list goes on. I am praying for discipline to get everything done and ignore the existence of my social life for awhile. But in the midst of that daunting to-do list, I need to process what is going on. And I need to count my blessings.

  • I love my professors. I was skimming last night (instead of doing homework) and I found a book by John Mark Reynolds. It is so awesome to smile to myself and think, "He's one of my professors."

  • I particularly loved Torrey session last night. There was a lot of laughter, from the students and from the professor, and a lot of diagramming on the board, which I love to do.

  • I love Professor Schubert. When she is our tutor, I feel like she is part of the class, learning and discovering with us, rather than leading the discussion. And she has wonderful stories.

  • Augustine blows my mind.

  • The love within my Torrey group is amazing. I pray it continues to grow.

  • I'm really excited for Freshman Initiatives.

I am so thankful for God's love and the old hymns that express that love. Two years ago, I stood the gym at BCHS singing the last verse of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," realizing for the first time in weeks that God loves and cares for me.

"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;

here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Today was...

  • The Getty Museum

  • PB&J

  • A view of Los Angeles on a clear day (by LA standards).

  • Having "Go the Distance" from Hercules stuck in my head as I looked at art made centuries ago.

  • Being reminded that the world is much bigger than the Biola bubble.

  • Looking at a painting of Christ's Resurrection with five other Torrey students who were all humming "Jesus Paid It All."

  • A positive experience riding with Elizabeth in LA.

  • A full meal at Chick-Fil-A for only $2.06.

  • Being thoroughly exhausted from something that is not schoolwork.

  • Getting an e-mail telling me I can teach high school English with a Humanities major.

  • Watching my ideas form a paper thesis.

  • Good friends.

  • Riding back to Biola from LA in the rain listening to The Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

  • Skipping down the hill at the Getty in the rain.

  • Being on top of a mountain for the first time in weeks.

  • Seeing this painting and connecting it to Dante's Divine Comedy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On Being a Torrey Nerd

I went to a lecture tonight about possibly working with Wheatstone in the future. Because it is run by Torrey people, it is just as nerdy as Torrey, and I love it.

The speaker outlined the two dominant Torrey alumni dream lives. I found this hilarious because I want both of those things, too.

Option #1: Live in a little cottage in the mountains with your family where you have children and raise them to love God and books while you read poetry, love art, write books, discuss everything and tend to your garden or apple orchard.

Option #2: The life outlined in Dr. Reynold's Torrientation speech, where you spend four intense years learning about great books, God, goodness, truth, beauty, and Plato, then go out and change the world because the fate of Western civilization lies on our shoulders.

Needless to say, this is hard to reconcile because I desperately want to do both. But I think it can be done some way. (And the speaker gave us ideas, and didn't just let us ponder it for two hours like a Torrey tutor would.) And I want to do it. I want to live a virtuous life, engage the culture in the intellectual life it is missing, mentor teenagers, write blog posts, live in the mountains with goats and chickens, and rock the world.

I love being a Torrey nerd. I love the people I get to be nerdy with, I love the tutors and mentors, I love the challenge, the books, the thoughts, community, the jokes, the world-changing attitude, the encouragement to live for God and be the best you can be. I want to bring this to more people. I want high school students to see the adventure in learning and learn not for the sake of the grade, but for the sake of the betterment of their souls. I want to show teenagers that thinking is awesome and wonderful and much more satisfying than television. I want to teach world-changers in the same way that I am being taught to change the world.

And now to get into the practical application of all this: reading Augustine and figuring out a thesis for my paper.

(I apologize to all the non-Torrey people out there who have no idea what I am talking about.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dear Quadratus...

Six months ago today I met you. We sat in a circle of sixteen freshmen and seven sophomore seers and my first thought was, "What have I gotten myself into?" There was Mary Kate who was singing songs about ducks walking a row, Austin who looked nothing like his Facebook picture, Cale whose sign for our ice-breaker game was a thumbs-up, and many more.

Now I know what I have gotten myself into. I am in a group of wonderful people whom I love more than I ever thought possible. Quadratus, you guys are my friends, family, encouragers, entertainment, counselors, all-night-paper-writing buddies, rescuers, accountability partners, editors, dinner and lunch dates, partners in crime, prayer warriors, advisors, valentines, and brothers and sisters in Christ.

I am tempted to say that Biola, Torrey, and Quadratus have changed me, but I don't think that's accurate. Instead, Quadratus has made me uniquely myself. You have encouraged my strengths and help me grow in my weaknesses. You have taught me how to think, how to love, and how to live. You have cried with me, prayed with me, rescued me, challenged me, and loved me. I cannot fathom what college would be like without each any every one of you.

May God bless Quadratus in our journey to pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful.

The Blessing of Each Day

Two cups of tea.
Torrey session on Psalms.
A yellow rose from my Quadratus gentlemen.
A singing Valentines' Day message from my Quadratus gentlemen.
C.S. Lewis.
Dr. Henderson's sense of humor.
Leggings and a dress.
A Jane Austen-esque hairstyle.
Finding a paper topic.
A package of Sees candies from my mom.
Singing songs in class.
Putting together a sentence in Spanish class that actually makes sense.
Praying with my friends.
Reading My Utmost for His Highest aloud to Elizabeth in the caf.
Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies.
"Be Thou My Vision" stuck in my head.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Heart

Is beating.
Is longing.
Is pleading.
Is calling out.
Is crying deep inside.
Is dancing with joy.
Is wishing to be free.
Is being held.
Is sealed.
Is not my own.
Is given away.
Is safe.
Is dying.
Is in my King's hands.

This is a poem I wrote (please grant me grace, I know I'm no poet) at the end of my senior year of high school when I was going through some minor problems with my physical heart, and dealing with the realization that my closest friends from high school would be leaving (as I would) in a few short months for college. Nine months later, it still manages to capture what I'm feeling.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Amazing Friends, Good Books, February, and God's Faithfulness

Last night, I wrote a blog post that sort of ended in a hopeless way. I mentioned something about clinging to God's love, but I didn't expound on it, partially because I had already spent an hour and a half writing that post, and partially because I was concurrently discussing our Reynolds session with Rachel and not paying complete attention to how I ended that post.

But since last night I have been overwhelmed with hope. I have wonderful friends, and I am so blessed to be around people who genuinely care about me. They talk with me, give me hugs, make lunch and dinner dates with me, let me chill in their rooms, send me notes and messages reminding me of their love, and call me to check up on me. I cannot imagine being educated in a setting without this kind of love and support.

But good friends can't get me through everything, mostly because they are not that wise. I am learning with them, and not sitting in their tutelage (though I learn a lot from them). That's why I have mentors. I have people like Professor Klapauszak who help me think and can see what major I would thrive in. But even from my mentors I can't learn everything. So, God has given me books where I can learn from great minds who no longer walk this earth. I can sit in my room and learn from Sheldon Vanauken, C.S. Lewis, Plato, Augustine, and even Jesus. He is faithful to provide the wisdom I need.

God's faithfulness is also evident in the month of February. It seems I always face particularly interesting and faith-testing moments in February. One year ago I was accepted to Biola, and I had no idea if this was where God wanted me to go to school, and I was minorly freaked out about it. It was at this time that I was also introduced to the idea of Torrey and decided to apply, a decision that changed my life forever. Two years ago (February 2009), I went through an intense time of doubt about my faith. Being raised in a Christian home, this was the first time I consciously wrestled with my faith. The song "Come Thou Fount" brought me back to God as I saw that I was truly "prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." He lovingly took my heart and sealed it, sealing it for His courts above.

Three Februaries ago, I was in the midst of fighting with my father, which turned into nine months of his refusal to speak to me, despite continual efforts of my part to ask for and earn his forgiveness. This issue is still one I am dealing with, and still one where (as I experienced last night) God's grace is present.

Four Februaries ago I was baptized. This was a difficult decision for me because I was afraid of proclaiming my faith in such a way. I made the decision and have never regretted it.

There is hope. I am reminded that if nothing in my life ever went wrong, I wouldn't experience God's grace. I wouldn't be encouraged by my friends or find joy through rough circumstances.

"Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace." ~Anonynous

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Bruised Heart in Blog Post Form

Torrey students: Quadratus had their first Reynolds session today. I told my group right before it that I wasn't ready. There were too many things reeling in my head, too many triumphs and tears throughout the day to end it with a Reynolds session, especially on Plato's Symposium. But that is exactly what happened. The result? I checked off number 96 on the "101 Things To Do in Torrey Before You Graduate" list: Cry in session.

Non-Torrey students: Imagine being hurt, then putting on a happy face and trying to tell yourself and everyone else that it will be okay, and then having a knife thrust into your heart. In a very academically, mind-boggling way. Then add in a lot of awkwardness. That was my night.

We talked about a lot of things this session. One of my favorite topics of conversation (which I wish I was better versed in) is the down-fall of American culture and Western civilization, which is also one of Dr. Reynolds' favorite topics of conversation. Which means we spent a lot of time talking about what love is according to our culture and comparing it with love according to Plato.

We talked about beauty and wisdom, and how rare it is to find a person who genuinely has both. It struck me how true that is. Beauty takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. So does the pursuit of wisdom. People cannot feasibly be drop-dead gorgeous and have time to become genuinely wise. Those who pretend to do are not doing at least one of those things to the fullest capacity. Instead, those who are good-looking have to spend their time keeping up appearances, not learning. They can bluff their way through school and life if they want, but the mark of a truly strong person is one who can get through life by bluffing (or with charm) but chooses to use intellect instead. Those who prefer the charm route can do so, but they will have to hire someone to do the brain work behind it. Classic example (and I am honestly not trying to pick on Obama with this example): Who was elected president? Obama. Who writes Obama's speeches and who does the hard work of running the country? Speech-writers and the president's cabinet. This leads to the question: What happens in a culture where the good-looking people's lines are written by the bad-looking (but smart) people? The smart people run the country but the good-looking people think they do.

Now, at this point you are probably wondering one or more of the following (unless you were actually in this session)...

1. Aren't you being a little self-righteous? After all, just because someone is born good-looking, that doesn't mean they are doomed to be stupid, right?

2. Isn't it possible to get good grades and spend time on your looks? After all, school doesn't take that much time!

My response to number 1: Born good-looking gives you a ridiculous advantage in this culture. Most are tempted to use this advantage - after all, who wouldn't? The word that came to mind during session was "integrity." Doing the work, even though you could get away with not doing it.

My response to number 2: Wisdom is not the same thing as schooling. True wisdom is not spitting out answers on tests. True wisdom is reading and thinking. This type of wisdom takes time. It takes a lifetime. As I looked around Dr. Reynolds' office, the majority of wall space was covered in bookshelves filled with books, all of which contain wisdom. That much reading, or even a fraction of it takes time, effort, and a love for it.

We also discussed (and by "we," I mean everyone else, because I spent most of the class period just trying to process what was being said) that right before a culture is destroyed, historically, it does not appreciate its blessings. Instead, it takes the blessings it is given and wants more. (We cited Plato for this, but I honestly don't think you care what the citation is, and I don't remember it anyway.) If this is true, our culture is approaching destruction very soon because everything is taken for granted: education, family, food, friends, books, transportation. In any time before this, none of these things were taken for granted, especially not education. Dr. Reynolds told us about his grandfather who only received an 8th grade education. And there we sat with not only a high school education but also enrolled in college, and not just any college, but a part of the Torrey Honors Institute, reading the greatest works of Western civilization. Dr. Reynolds told us that his grandfather would look at us and ask, "How can you possibly be unhappy?" Yet, each and every day we complain about how we want more. We don't appreciate our blessings, and that will lead to our downfall.

We talked about another interesting topic that explained Torrey and education to me in a way that helps me understand when we don't come to an answer in session. Education is about going in circles. We can either go "further in and further up" as Lewis says, or we can go somewhere. I have always valued the destination more than the process. Now, I am learning to value the process and the learning more than the destination and answer.

Throughout all this, we talked about love, the theme of Symposium. We talked about what it truly means to love. We talked about sacrificing for the one you love. We talked about how love implies loving something. Love implies a beloved. All the dialogues talk about "love" the thing, but not the real love, which implies a beloved and an action. It is not something idependent of itself.

Amidst all of this, we did some thinking about our own love relationships, most notably with our parents. We also talked about marriage relationships. These are both great learning instances, but it hit quite close to home. Before coming to session, I talked to my mom on the phone. My dad is not talking to my mom or my brother, after going for a week in January without talking to me. Throughout session, my eyes would tear up when this topic came up, but I made it through. Near the end, however, Mrs. Reynolds came in, and Dr. Reynolds asked her to give the last word in the discussion. We had talked about how in romantic movies, the credits roll at the happiest time of the movie. In real life, the credits roll in a hospital, with at least one person in intense pain. She described what I deem as the truest love: Philip Johnson, one of the leaders in thought of the idea of Torrey, is in the hospital, and his wife is by his side, helping him and loving him. That was when I lost it. My family is in much of the same situation. My mom is not in a hospital, but she is disabled, hurting, and confined to a bed most of the day. My dad is not there with her. He avoids her and her children, tells her she would just get better if only she would try, makes his son walk seven miles home from school because he doesn't feel like driving to pick him up, and refuses to talk to his daughter even though she begs him that she will do anything if he will just love her. Love can hurt. A lot. Which is why it's so dangerous.

After this session, I did not know what to do. How do you respond to three hours of discovering that you feel your family doesn't truly love one another, to such a degree that it hurts being home? I ended up talking to my friends. They told me to keep clinging to the promise that God loves you. To keep loving yourself. To rely on the Body of Christ because that's what community is for.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"As a high school student I used to read about Catherine [Marshall] and Elisabeth [Elliot's] days at college, and I could see them sitting in their dorm rooms writing journal entires and prayers that would later serve as landmarks in their spiritual journeys. Elisabeth even left behind a man she loved and ventured off to the mission field...

I eagerly wanted to follow in their footsteps. I went to a Christian college, hoping to meet other girls who wanted to do the same. But by the time I got to college, I found myself looking around and wondering where the Elisabeths and Catherines had gone. Don't get me wrong, there were many faithful girls who loved and served God. But after close examination it was evident that some of the passion that Elisabeth and Catherine had was missing from my generation.

It seems to me there is a new kind of girl taking over the world. She is even taking over the Christian world. She is modern and independent, focused on glittering up her outside, and has forgotten how to tend to her inward life. Now, this is not a new phenomenon. Even in her spiritual autobiography, Meeting God at Every Turn, Catherine Marshall describes her wealthy roommate at Agnes Scott College.

Her name was Virginia and she had the finest clothes, an endless supply of makeup, and was a real live "blond bombshell." And there sat her roommate, plain old mousy-haired Catherine, writing things in her journal about how she wanted to know and seek God more, so she could find His purpose for her life. Today, it seems there are many Virginias and few Catherines. Far too many girls are saying no to God and yes to the world..."

~Shannon Kubiak Primicerio, God Called a Girl
Graduate of Biola University

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Day of Firsts

Today has been a wonderfully surprising and surprisingly wonderful day. I went to a reformed-doctrine church for the first time and watched the Super Bowl (well, some of it) for the first time. I also attended my first Super-Bowl-party-turned-hymn-sing.

I was planning on going to church this weekend with Maddie, like we did near the end of last semester, but she went back to Bakersfield for the weekend, so I asked Elizabeth if I could go with her. So, I ended up at a reformed-doctrine church with Elizabeth and two other friends. Afterwards, we planned to go to Elizabeth's house for the Super Bowl. Because I'm not a huge football fan, I wasn't entirely thrilled about an afternoon of football, but I decided to tag along because free (non-cafeteria) food was involved, as was getting off campus and hanging out with friends. However, everyone who wanted to go along were Torrey kids, which meant all of them had homework to be doing. So, we talked ourselves into believing that this would be a study party, too.

Some of us (especially those of us not interested in football) opted to do some homework, too. So, I sat in the Bush's kitchen, alternating between watching Super Bowl commercials and reading Psalms. Talk about a clash of cultures.

After dinner, the die-hard, I-actually-came-to-watch-the-Super-Bowl people parked themselves in front of the TV to finish watching (and loudly discussing) the game while the rest of us went into another room to read or do homework. Elizabeth played the piano, while we sat contentedly doing our work. Eventually, a guitar was brought out and more people migrated to this room and we started singing praise songs we knew from memory. I sat in an armchair with my Bible on my lap, looking at the scene. Mr. and Mrs. Bush and their 11-year-old daughter sat on one couch, reading and doing a puzzle. Their 7-year-old daughter sat in the arm chair next to mine snuggling in blankets and reading a book. Cree played the guitar, and Elizabeth, Cori, Robin, Andrew, Kyle, and Sean sat in various places on couches or on the floor singing along. Elizabeth beckoned me and I joined the college kids sitting on the floor. I smiled. This was what live is supposed to be. Family that loves one another and others. Students who want to glorify God. A place where friendship, books, knowledge, joy, truth, mentoring, prayer, and songs abound. We eventually gathered around the piano as Elizabeth played or we sang acapella to many of the old hymns I grew up learning. We sang all of my all-time favorites: "Nothing But the Blood," "Be Thou My Vision," "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," "The Old Rugged Cross," and so many more. Mrs. Bush brought out tea for us, and I laughed as I watched college-aged boys rushing to the china tea cups, trying to figure out how they were meant to be held. We sang a few more hymns and prayed. As we prayed, I felt like I was a part of the Body of Christ in a closer, more personal way than I feel when I'm at chapel or in any gathering of believers (other than my Torrey group and my home church). I was with a variety of people: one who knows me better than I know myself, one I had only met that day, and everyone else fell somewhere in between. Yet all were a part of the Body of Christ, all were my brothers and sisters in the family of God. After we prayed, we loaded up into Elizabeth's car and ended the evening by driving back to Biola on the freeway, singing along to "Don't Stop Believing" and "Lucky."

Super Bowl Sunday has held special significance to me for four years: on Super Bowl Sunday in 2007, I was baptized. Four years ago, I never imagined being here. I never could have imagined the spiritual steps I have taken. I look at my infant-Christian self, and see such a huge change in my relationship with God. I can see where He has brought me, who He has put in my life to touch me, and how He has loved me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"So I have come into Wicklow, where the fields are sharply green, where a wild beauty hides in the glens, where sudden surprising vistas open up as the road rises and falls; and here I smell for the first time the incense of Ireland, the smoke of turf fires, and here for the first time I see the face of the Irish countryside."

H.V. Morton, In Search of Ireland, 1930

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happiness of the Last Few Days

  • Both friends who thought they might not be able to come back this semester are coming back. In fact, they are back.
  • Fro yo.
  • Plato.
  • Studying at night with Rachel.
  • "101 Things To Do in Torrey Before You Graduate" is printed out and on the wall of my dorm room with check marks next to the ones I've already done. 26 out of 110.
  • I get to spend tomorrow at a Charlie Hall (whoever he is...) chapel, taking a Spanish placement exam, and reading Plato and American Lit stuff. And dinner with Elizabeth.
  • I couldn't stop smiling and laughing in session today because I am so excited to be back with my group in session. That definitely hampered my discussion skills.
  • Screams of joy.
  • Having entire conversations without saying a word.
  • The Irish quote book Rachel gave me.
  • My old journals and God's faithfulness reflected in them.
  • Good writing.
  • Friends who tell me things like, "You worry too much. There's this thing called the present. Live in it."
  • When the Psalms say, "God, when you save your people, save me." Not "if." "When."
  • Job 38.
  • Banana chips and almonds.
  • "Streets of Bakersfield" by Buck Owens.
  • Quadratus. And their funny looks, laughter, joy, humor, wanton cravings, hugs, friendship, and all-around awesomeness.
  • A hug from Robynne.
  • Dr. Vincent's prayer in session that made me cry.

Monday, January 31, 2011

I Am Thankful For...

  • Biola.
  • Friends who move in before me and are here to welcome me.
  • Johnny Cash.
  • The fact that my dad has enough Johnny Cash music to last the entire drive from Bakersfield to Biola. And then some.
  • Tears.
  • My family. Even with all of our fights, grudges, tears, disabilities, stupid comments, sloppiness, stubborness, and pride. I'm still thankful for them.
  • Arriving at Biola safely and not getting hit on the tricky interchange between the I-5, the 60, and the 10. And safely getting over the Grapevine.
  • Having Jenna in my American Lit class and Spencer in my Spanish class.
  • Hugs.
  • Friends who missed me.
  • Bakersfield and Woody.
  • Rain. Lots and lots of rain.
  • The rain that drowns out the Sufjan music playing in the car as I drive through green rolling hills to church.
  • The Biola caf.
  • The Irish.
  • The National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  • The Boy Scouts.
  • The fact that I didn't get that receptionist job.
  • The fact that I have to rely on God for where money will come from.
  • Scholarship searches.
  • Tea.
  • Commons.
  • Posters in my dorm room.
  • The picture of my best friend and her family holding a plaque that says, "God Is In Control" that is posted where I can see it from my desk.
  • More books than I have shelf space for.
  • Internet access from my dorm room.
  • My friends from high school.
  • Getting into a literature class.
  • The fact that I have a P.E. class even if it wasn't the one I wanted and even though I'm scared to death about that class.
  • Little things that give me a familiarity of being "home."

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I was recently told (in different wording) that I'm too nostalgic and I need to stop wishing for the past. Which is probably true. But I don't want to forget about the past. It's too important to me.

One year ago today I spent the day in Fresno at a speech tournament instead of going to my senior formal. I had never been to a formal, and I really wanted to go my senior year, but I had also been working all year on extemp and I really wanted to go to state in that event. I didn't end up qualifying for state. But, looking back, I see that I made the right decision. That tournament is one of my most memorable high school experiences. It ranks higher than my one and only high school dance (my senior prom). Right up there with the time I won first place in extemp and the time Stef and I beat the top teams from Fresno and Bakersfield back to back and nearly made it to state in parli.

Looking back, I can't believe the day I gave up going to formal in order to go to a speech tournament was a full year ago. The memories from that day are still fresh in my mind, and I never want to forget them. I still look back on that trip and feel like it was only yesterday, but it was a year ago. At that time, my life revolved around two things: forensics and college stuff. I was applying to colleges, applying for scholarships, waiting for acceptance or rejection letters, waiting for answered prayers, and just waiting for my senior year to be over. I also lived, breathed, and even prayed forensics. I scoured the papers everyday, quizzed Brice on anything I could do better, and was constantly practicing my speeches. Now, I'm in college and I haven't given a speech in ten months. At that time, I had not yet been accepted to Biola, I had never heard of the Torrey Honors Institute, and I was fairly certain I would end up at APU for college, though I was hoping to make ends meet in such a way that I could go to Hillsdale. It never occurred to me that one year in the future, I would be a student at Biola, in Torrey, not on the debate team, with enough money to cover my first year in full. I am so different from who I was a year ago...yet so much the same. Life is weird that way.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Am So Sick of Just Being

I'm tired of being in passing. Of being, hoping, wishing, planning, and thinking. I want to do. I want to change the world, cry out to God, dance for joy, roll down the windows and sing my heart out, have a really philosophical discussion that alters someone's life, work so hard that I am covered in sweat, get sunburned from chopping weeds for so long, clean the whole house, run until I can't run anymore, fight the system. And I want to succeed. I want to throw all of my being into something and live it fully. I want to do that with my walk with Christ. I want to live it so thoroughly that I feel God, His love, and His mercy. I want to have passion for what I do that is so strong and fueled by my stubborness to such an extreme that God alone can stop me from acting.

I'm sick of this "just being" business. This apathetic, media-drenched, half-way-sufficient, over-commercialized, brain-dead, thoughtless, mouthy, death-obsessed, lazy, rude, crass generation and culture. Where is our desire to live? Where is our desire to find answers? Where is our heart for the world? Where is our pull to explore? We're Americans. We believe that hard work gets us anywhere. So why have we given up on it? This generation of Americans doesn't believe that hard work can get us anything we want; we believe the government,, Youtube, Hulu, iTunes, and Facebook gets us anything we want. Where's our honest nature? Our unwavering stance on what is moral? Our urgency to fight anything that contradicts God's law? What happened to those morals that our founding fathers had? We now settle for what is easy, even if it means breaking some moral boundaries. We run to the classes that give easy A's, the job that makes a lot without requiring a lot of work, the minimum work with maximum benefits. Aren't we the nation who is willing to fight against impossible odds for our freedom? Aren't we a nation of pioneers who left their homeland and fought drought, flood, famine, snowdrifts, Indians, and wild animals just so we could have a piece of land to call our own? Aren't we the "rugged individualists," the adventurers, the pioneers, the founders, the fighters? What has happened to us?

We now prefer having something handed to us on a silver plate, even if its not really ours. As long as we get the easy life, we don't care what strings are attached. We don't care that we aren't living whole-heartedly for God. We don't care that others have control over our destinies. What happened to our American, our human desire to live? To live every moment as if it was our last? To live each day as if God was watching? To look at each person as a child of God? To take every oppurtunity to praise Him, love Him, learn about Him? Let us live in faith. Faith that He will bless us and lead us if we give all to Him.

It Must Be Time to Go Back to Biola

My friends are quoting Peter Kreeft on their Facebook statuses.

I keep getting "I wish you were here already" texts and Facebook comments.

I am three books ahead for Torrey reading.

My room is a pile of stuff that needs to be packed by tonight.

I am so excited about rearranging and redecorating my dorm room tomorrow.

Chuck Colson and Scott Rae are speaking at an event at Biola next weekend and I am registered to go. For free.

Mere Christian Radio has me excited for getting back into Torrey reading.

My friend Jenna is in my 8 am American Lit II class.

I have five boxes of tea bags and four mugs ready for impromptu tea parties in Sigma.

I now own the Complete Works of Plato. I feel like a registered nerd.

I have two classes in Sutherland Hall this semester.

I get to have a girls' night with my mom and eat Chinese food and watch Faith Like Potatoes tonight.

I am reading Plato, Sophocles, Kierkegaard, Freud, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Donne, and the Bible this semester. Oh, and listening to Rachmaninov.

This is shaping up to be a pretty good semester.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Because I Love Anna Karenina That Much

"This new feeling has not changed me, has not rendered me happy, nor suddenly illuminated me as I dreamt it would, but is just like my feeling for my son. It has not been a surprise either. But be it faith or not - I do not know what it is - this feeling has also entered imperceptibly through suffering and is firmly rooted in my soul.

"I shall still get angry with Ivan the coachman in the same way, shall still dispute in the same way, shall inopportunely express my thoughts; there will still be a wall between my soul's holy of holies and other people; even my wife I shall still blame for my own fears and shall repent of it. My reason will still not understand why I pray, but I shall still pray, and my life, my whole life independently of anything that may happen to me, is every moment of it no longer meaningless as it was before, but has an unquestionable meaning of goodness with which I have the power to invest it."

~Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Need a Little Bit of Narnia Right Now

Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bears his teeth, winter will meet its death,
When he shakes his mane, we will have spring again.

~prophecy from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What God Is Probably Trying to Tell Me Right Now

Today I have been lazy, restless, grouchy, angsty, worried, whiny, sarcastic, frustrated, unsettled, annoyed, sloppy, and stylin' the college look (which is undefinable because college students are all about being "different"...think Ash in The Fantastic Mr. Fox "different").

And God is probably looking at me right now now saying, "My child, if you only knew all that you will learn, how much you will love, and what joy you will find this semester, you wouldn't be restless about taking this next step. You wouldn't be reluctant to go back. If you only knew what you will be doing with your major one day down the road, you wouldn't be stressing right now; you would be smiling. If you only knew how your life has and will touch so many others, you wouldn't even be thinking about yourself right now. If you only knew what things you will soon be doing that you either never thought you would do or swore you would never do, you would be laughing right now instead of worrying. So trust Me."

I should be listening.


That's how I feel and have felt all day.

Like I am searching for answers, but I don't really know what the question is.

This word also sums up the conversation I had today. A conversation I've been meaning and hoping to have since break started. But instead of leaving me feeling hopeful or even at peace, I still feel...restless.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Have Missed Long Talks Over Tea

I spent a total of four hours this weekend sitting in Starbucks talking with people. It taught me a lot of things.

I miss Commons. There I can use those awesome flex points instead of cash to pay for my drink.

Tea beats coffee every time.

There is something about comfy chairs, tea, and a good friend that makes you talk for hours.

Modern education is not the type of education I want my kids to have.

Books are more wonderful, inspiring, intriguing, edifying, encouraging, and thought-provoking than I usually give them credit for. Especially old books.

For some reason, the Starbucks off of Rosedale and Allen has five Erma Bombeck books on their bookshelf. That is kind of awesome.

Everything that happened in high school was such a big deal at the time. Now I don't even remember some of it. But it has all made me who I am...that's intriguing.

There is not much that is more encouraging than knowing you have inspired someone.

People and books are God's greatest gifts to me (aside from salvation, of course). Tea might be number three.

Coffee shops are where some of the world's best ideas are born. I now understand why the Inklings met in a pub.

The love of learning is what causes me to enjoy college.

I wouldn't trade anything for my time at BCHS: in debate, in Bible classes, in English classes, being shaped, blooming, and growing. The friends I made there will be my friends for life.

I am very thankful that some of the people who knew me as a freshman in high school or when I was in junior high are still willing to be friends with me now.

I love Torrey. More than any other class I have ever taken. More than any educational model I have ever been educated with. More than any debate. More than any project. I can't believe I get to learn this way.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spring 2011

Just when I get excited about going back to Biola, I hang out with friends from high school and remember how much I love and miss them. Then I just don't want to go back.

But I will have to go back soon. In about a week-ish.

Here's to a semester of thick books, good discussions, hugs, being a sophomore, tears, springtime, all-nighters, prayers, Sutherland 209, morning classes, good movies, laughter, lots of stress, long talks over tea, new friends, playing in the park, reading outside, writing Torrey papers, caf food, SoCal weather, lots of notes, decision-making, and pursuit of goodness, truth, and beauty.

May God bless it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Literary Snob

For her birthday yesterday, I gave my mom the book Fall Down, Laughing by David L. Lander. David Lander played the part of Squiggy in the old '70s TV show Laverne and Shirley that my mom really likes. When we found out that one of the actors was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (which my mother was diagnosed with almost ten years ago), I knew I had to get the actor's autobiography about his journey through life with MS for my mom for her birthday. It came in the mail two days before her birthday, and I sat down to skim through it to see how good it was. I was sorely disappointed.

Although it provides many interesting facts and anecdotes about the actor, the book is poorly written. It wasn't until my mom had read a few chapters and we talked about them that I realized how my literary tastes have been shaped by just one semester in Torrey. I discovered that the way Fall Down, Laughing was written disgusted me. The few crass words in the first few chapters could have been replaced with so many other words that would have more accurately portrayed how the author felt or what was going on. I caught sentencing typos and even a misspelling of the name of the director of the hit show David Lander co-starred in. The only positive element I could see in his writing was that it sounded very similar to the way Squiggy (the character Lander is famous for playing) talked: unsophisticated and crude, which may be the way the writing was meant to sound.
At first I thought I just didn't like Lander's writing style, but as my mom and I talked about it, we agreed that my education and the books I had been reading lately had taught me what good writing truly is. I had learned words that could effectively capture a mood or feeling. I had been struck by so many beautiful analogies and metaphors, and sometimes I found myself underlining a sentence or stanza in a book simply because the imagery or diction made me see the story in a new light.
I am tempted to think that I have become a literary snob. Maybe I have. However, I think I have actually learned how to appreciate good writing (and old writing). I have learned what it means to be educated: in my case, to read hard books and think deeply about them and the ideas they present. The books I read shape who I am and how I learn. Anna Karenina has brought to mind new definition and thoughts about love, truth, honor, respect, fidelity, hope, joy, and God's provision. Dante's Divine Comedy taught me to appreciate language, heritage, the epic tradition, and the incomprehensibility of God. Faerie Queene taught me about truth, deception, virtue, how much the writers of the past relied on Christianity, and even the evolution of the English language. So much is learned from the books of the past, and I wish more people could have this type of education so that thought and writing in this country might be a little better.
Mom: "We have more national forests now than when Columbus came!"
Me: "Probably because we didn't have any national forests when Columbus came..."
Mom: "I meant trees! We have more trees now..."
Me: "Wait! Didn't Columbus come to Central America, not North America?"
Mom: "Okay, then there were more trees when James Cook came to America...or whoever it was who liked Pocahontas."
Me: "That was John Smith, Mom. James Cook went to Hawaii."
Mom: "Well, that's not too far away..."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Writer in Me

The writer in me is different from the writer in most other people. So many times I look at my English major friends and think, "I don't write like them, therefore, I'm not a writer." I'm learning that there is a writer in me...but that writer looks nothing like the writer in any of my friends. And that's the way God created me.

The writer in me writes pages off of two words that pop into her brain while she's taking a shower.

The writer in me prefers prose to poetry.

The writer in me can't stand text-talk.

The writer in me likes lists, bullet points, and outlines more than essays.

The writer in me loves repetition, and she recognizes that some people can't stand how much she uses it.

The writer in me likes things to be succinct but as her friends who edited her first Torrey paper know, she can rarely get her thoughts to be succinct.

The writer in me loves symbolism.

The writer in me likes to make her audience laugh or cry.

The writer in me takes the advice of Miss Haley and Mrs. Walker very seriously.

The writer in me likes to connect very random thoughts.

The writer in me is frank, but not Frank.

The writer in me likes puns.

The writer in me doesn't look up words she doesn't know when she runs across them, but she when she finds a word she loves, she uses it incessantly.

The writer in me appreciates good poetry but can rarely get herself to read it.

The writer in me loves quotes.

The writer in me knows pretty much every rule about grammar out there and is always finding typos in books or correcting someone's grammar but is sometimes too lazy to use correct grammar herself.

The writer in me sometimes switches to talking in third person, even though she prefers to write in first person.

The writer in me (too) frequently uses ellipses. And sentence fragments for effect.

The writer in me always (unless for an academic paper) writes in the past tense because all the books she read growing up were books about pioneer girls, freed slaves, or Victorian ladies written in the past tense.

The writer in me likes using big words just because it makes her feel smart.

The writer in me knows that she can't not write.

The writer in me sometimes just loves books for the feel, look, and even smell of them.

The writer in me knows she was a reader before she was a writer and that she will always be a reader first and foremost. She also recognizes that even though she and her dad frequently disagree and fight, he was the one who made her a reader.

The writer in me prays, "God, you made me a writer. Make me a good one."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Silver Lining to Every Cloud

The Cloud:
-My dad is mad at me.
-I'm getting sick, and my throat is so sore I can hardly talk.
-I still don't know what I want to major in.
-My entire church has made it their mission to give me ideas as to what to major in.
-I'm worried about whether I will get the receptionist job or not...mostly worried about if I do get it. If I don't I might actually be relieved.
-I still have 400 pages to read of Anna Karenina.
-I have job applications to fill out, job searches to go on, scholarship applications to find and fill out, and lots of boring shopping to do.
-I'm insanely worried about my friends who are trying to scrounge money for the down payment for next semester's tuition.
-My Sophocles book still hasn't come in yet, even though I ordered it four weeks ago.
-I can't find last year's financial aid documents or The Blind Side DVD.
-I can't get KERI 1410 AM to play the live radio streaming so I can listen to Mere Christian Radio.
-My ipod died in the middle of a Johnny Cash song.

The Silver Lining:
-I have friends who tell just by looking at me that something is bugging me and not only give me hugs, but invite to their house, not just for a couple hours but overnight and for as long as I want.
-I thank God that Biola made me get a chicken pox vaccine last summer so I don't have to worry about catching it when I play with wonderful kids who are getting over it.
-The fact that I'm getting sick while I'm not at school, and that by getting sick, I might get out of my dentist appointment tomorrow.
-Hot tea.
-Encouraging text messages.
-High school friends who see all the hard work I put into last semester and how much I enjoyed it and want to be like me.
-A high school debate coach who prays for me and reminds me that there is Someone who will take care of all my worries if I give them to Him.
-The fact that my parents don't have the time or money to get my wisdom teeth out yet.
-Little kids next door who see me and run to give me a hug.
-My entire church is praying about my major.
-My tuition is paid for next semester.
-The prospect of my first job being a good one.
-Cary Grant movies.
-Being able to attend the same little country church with the same wonderful pastor for the better part of fourteen years.

Sidenote: It should be noted that I listed 12 "clouds" and 15 "silver linings." God is good.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Question of the Age

When will I learn to keep my mouth shut?

On a related note, I now remember why I hate Bakersfield.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Dr. Jeff Myers. Awesome speaker with brilliant ideas. Check out his stuff:
A friend gave me a CD of this man speaking about discovering your God-given design when she found out that I was having trouble deciding on a major. I listened to it (twice) when I drove to Biola and back today. When I got home, I googled this man and came up with this article written by him, which blew my mind. He is so right! Please read it.

Entertainment-Soaked Culture Damages Kids’ Brains; Here’s the Antidote

Over consumption of media among Christians is an enormous concern. According to a study I conducted in 2003, the average Christian young man is involved in 33.25 hours a week of “screen time” (watching movies, playing video games, surfing the internet). Girls averaged 27 hours a week – the difference being that boys play a lot more video games.

That was seven years ago. Since then, the advent of Wii, smart phones, Blu-ray, and hyper-realistic video games have certainly only made the problem more acute.

While all of these so-called advancements have been coming about, brain scientists have been busy doing some fascinating research of their own – studying the hi-tech culture’s effect on the brain. And the conclusions are simply startling.

How the Brain Works

We only have to understand a few basic brain functions to grasp how our entertainment-soaked culture affects the brains of teens. Bear with me for a quick anatomy lesson.

Take a look at this picture of the human brain. The frontal lobe, shaded in purple, is the executive center. This part of the brain lights up when you come up with a plan and execute on it. In the center, in red, is the nucleus accumbens – a collection of neurons that forms the brain’s pleasure center. When a person experiences pleasure, this part of the brain displays stimulation.
Here’s what to keep in mind: the brain was designed in such a way that work and accomplishment stimulate the executive center of the brain (purple), which in turn stimulates the pleasure center of the brain (red). Work brings satisfaction, and the desire for life satisfaction motivates people to work.

The Effect of an Entertainment-Soaked Culture on Kids

So what does a culture like ours do to the brains of teens?

In his book Boys Adrift Leonard Sax reported on a study of 7 to 14-year-old boys which found that playing video games lights up the pleasure center of the brain while simultaneously shutting off blood flow to the executive center of the brain. In effect, these games offered boys the sense that they had accomplished something without actually having done so.*

Consider the shocking implications. The games children play are designed to bring effortless pleasure (movies and music have the same effect). Over time, this slickly produced entertainment “tricks” the brain into by-passing the executive center, making it more rewarding to pursue entertainment and less rewarding to accomplish anything of value. Academic work plummets. Social relationships suffer. And massive entertainment corporations make out like bandits, reaping billions in profits.

Quite frankly, if you’re a parent, teacher, or youth minster, this is horrible news. How could we have allowed the most privileged generation in history – in terms of spendable income, opportunity for education and travel, and access to information – to quietly amuse itself to death?**

The Antidote is Not What You Would Expect

If you’re thinking, “Well, the damage is already done,” here’s some good news.
There is a clear, simple way to rescue teens from the cultural addiction: engage them in conversation in the context of doing real things. Let’s look at two aspects of this answer.

1. Do real things. A Christian school headmaster friend of mine was recently approached by several parents whose children had been prescribed medications for ADHD and bi-polar disorder. They trusted their doctors but wondered, “Is there any way we can help our kids without having to turn to these strong medications?” The headmaster wisely proposed the parents give the following plan a try:

Take out TVs, Ipods, video game consoles, and computers from your kids’ bedrooms.
Allow no more than 30 minutes of video gaming per week.
Set a bedtime of 9pm on weeknights, 10pm on weekends.
Provide three nutritious meals a day (note that the headmaster had to define “nutritious” for the parents).
Plan for one hour of playing outside every day, and three hours on the weekend days.

Amazingly – after a few months of this regimen – all of the children showed far fewer symptoms and were doing significantly better in school (without medication!). For these kids, there was an undeniable connection between unplugging and thriving.

In a similar vein, many parents are starting to take seriously studies done by Dina Borzekowski, Linda S. Pagani and others that demonstrate a correlation between a child’s relatively innocuous television viewing and lower test scores. In fact, public health advocates have caught on and launched a “No Child Left Inside” initiative that appears to be gaining steam.

A quick word of warning: An entertainment-soaked culture affects the brain in similar ways to a chemical addiction. So don’t be surprised if heavily plugged-in kids express bitterness, anger, accusation and even paranoia when they get unplugged. Many parents will cave in to the pressure because they can’t handle seeing their children be unhappy, even for a short time. A few parents, however, will find wise ways to replace screen time with real things and intentional conversation. In the long run, kids who overcome this withering addiction will be significantly better prepared to live healthy, purposeful lives.

2. Engage them in conversation. Language lights up the brain. And as David Caplan, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, points out: in order to trigger the use of language, both motivation (from the executive center) and arousal (from the pleasure center) are required.

Language seems to be a bridge that reconnects the broken-down relationship between the executive and pleasure centers of the brain. Notice that this involves active language use, not just passive language reception. We’re talking two-way, engaging, in-person conversations. And that puts the ball squarely in your court to communicate with kids in a way that engages them in communicating with you.

Isn’t it interesting that expressing thoughts through language helps remediate the damage done by a culture built on amusement? The ancient Greeks called this kind of linguistic expression “logos.” It’s the same word used in John 1:1 to describe the ministry of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word.”

Reclaiming the Ancient Art of Life-on-Life Discipleship

Jesus is the model for engaging people in conversation while doing real things. One scholar estimates that Jesus spent 13 months of his three year ministry just walking from place to place. All the while, he engaged others in conversation: Paul Stanley says that Jesus asked 288 questions in the gospels.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. They did. And along the way he equipped them to change the world, and they did that, too.

Jeff Myers, Ph.D.
Passing the Baton
*See Leonard Sax, Boys Adrift. New York: Basic Book, 2007,p.91.
**This phrase is drawn from Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. I strongly recommend that you read it.

(Taken from

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Never marry a man who can't bring himself to say, "I'm sorry."


Chai tea.
My own room.
A stick-shift pick-up.
High school mentors.
Cranberry juice.
Country roads.
A country church.
A full-stocked kitchen.
Washer and dryer that I can use for free.
Chile verde.
Irish soda bread.
Johnny Cash.
A sewing machine.
Long talks.

I've missed Bakersfield more than I thought.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


"I think that's why we worship. Otherwise we would always be angry at God."
-Dustin Adams
I woke up this morning thoroughly exhausted (even though I got eight and a half hours of sleep), feeling sick to my stomach, and feeling like all I wanted to do was cry myself into oblivion in someone's arms.

On top of that, I am doubting my newly-chosen major yet again. And I'm worried sick about certain friends of mine, I'm scared about my interview next week, I can't remember the last time I had three legitimately sized meals in the same day, I hate the FAFSA, and I've only read 200 of the 1600 self-assigned pages of Russian novels so far. There is also someone I desperately want to vent to because that person will give me a better perspective on my major and all the other messes I manage to get myself into...but I don't know if that talk will ever happen or will turn out the way I want.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I have written about how Biola feels more like "home" to me than my parents' house. Today I found another place that feels like home: my old high school, Bakersfield Christian High School. When I went back to visit today, I felt like I had come home.

Mr. Sutherland asked me to come today and speak to his classes on college, the importance of philosophy, and stuff like that, and I was more than excited for an excuse to spend the day at my old high school talking about how much I love college.

While I was there, I was reminded of the impact the people of this school had on me. The teachers loved me while I was a student, and still love me now. They are excited that I am excited, and they are proud of me as I am doing well in college, almost like parents are proud of their kids when they "go off into the world" and succeed. These are the people who saw me grow during high school, an intense time for me. Moreover, these are the people who helped me through the rough times of high school, served as role models for me, and encouraged me to apply for Torrey. When I saw them smile when I walked into their classrooms, joy welled up in me. It felt like I was coming home.

At the same time, it was weird walking onto a campus where I was no longer a student. I saw things from a new perspective. For one, the high school seems smaller to me. When I was a freshman in high school, the school seemed huge. Now I've outgrown it. I also saw my teachers from a different perspective. I saw that they love their job, but more importantly they love the kids. Since it's been six months since I sat in a high school classroom, I got to see how the teachers love being around their kids and want them to succeed and learn. I got to see Mr. Adams smile as his students got excited about the next chapter of The Giver. I got to see Mr. Sutherland's love for philosophy and his desire to pass it on to his students. I was reminded what made me love them as teachers, mentors, and friends.

It was also great to see my friends from high school who are now juniors or seniors. I had not thought so many people would want to see me again, but I was reminded that friendship is not easily forgotten.

I got to see friends who I had graduated with. Although I haven't been at college with any of them, seeing them was like a breath of fresh air. These are the people who have known me for four and a half years and remember what I was like when I was a freshman in high school. And they loved me anyway.

Even though it has been a long time since I've seen a lot of these people, they remain in my heart. Keeping in touch over Facebook just isn't the same. Part of my heart remains at BCHS. It's a place I feel safe, it's a place where there are people I love, and it's a place where I grew tremendously.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This Stopped Me Dead in My Proverbial Tracks Last Night

"I choose to believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - in Christ, my lord and my God. Christianity has the ring, the feel, of unique truth. Of essential truth. By it, life is made full instead of empty, meaningful instead of meaningless. Cosmos becomes beautiful at the Centre, instead of chillingly ugly beneath the lovely pathos of spring. But the emptiness, the meaninglessness, and the ugliness can only be seen, I think, when one has glimpsed the fullness, the meaning, and the beauty. It is when heaven and hell have both been glimpsed that going back is impossible. But to go on seemed impossible, also. A glimpse is not a vision. A choice was necessary: and there is no certainty. One can only choose a side. So I - I choose my side: I choose beauty; I choose what I love. But choosing to believe is believing. It's all I can do: choose. I confess my doubts and ask my Lord Christ to enter my life. I do not know God is, I do but say: Be it unto me according to Thy will. I do not affirm that I am without doubt, I do but ask for help having chosen, to overcome it. I do but say: Lord, I believe - help Thou mine unbelief."
~Sheldon Vanauken

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How I Want to Live Out My Faith

"We began, hardly knowing we were doing it, to revise our opinions, not of Christianity, but of Christians. Our fundamental assumption, which we had been pleased to regard as an intelligent insight, had been that all Christians were necessarily stuffy, hide-bound, or stupid - people to keep one's distance from. We had kept our distance so successfully, indeed, that we didn't know anything about Christians. Now that assumption soundlessly collapsed. The sheer quality of the Christians we met at Oxford shattered our stereotype, and thenceforth a reference in a book or conversation to someone's being a Christian called up an entirely new image. Moreover, the astonishing fact sank home: our own contemporaries could be at once highly intelligent, civilised, witty, fun to be with - and Christian."
~Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

A Thing Called Love

"You can't see it with your eyes, hold it in your hands,
But like the wind that covers our land
Strong enough to rule the heart of any man,
This thing called love.
It can lift you up, never let you down,
Take your world and turn it all around...
Ever since time, nothin's ever been found that's stronger than love."
~"A Thing Called Love"
I posted these lyrics and this picture for the reason I wrote about There's nothing inherently didactic about this picture or this song. In fact, both elicit a very emotional response. But both are simply beautiful (at least to me). Both bring hope and joy. I think that is the purpose God gave beauty.

Monday, January 3, 2011

On Beauty

A few months ago, I had the privilege of being a part of a lovely conversation about beauty with some wonderful friends. We had just watched the movie An Education. For most of us, it was our first time watching the it, and it ended with questions, thoughts, and concerns in the hearts of the viewers. We sat in the Reynolds' garage-turned-hang-out-room, cups of tea in hand, curled up on comfy couches. While we let out these responses to the movie, the conversation slowly became one about beauty, instead of about the movie. It was one of the most wonderful moments I have experienced at Biola. I only regret that I spent more energy trying to follow the conversation that actually engaging in it, as I was still learning how to properly discuss ideas.

As we sat discussing what beauty was and our response to it, one idea on the table hit me and has remained with me. My friend Mary Kate mentioned that things could be appreciated for their aesthetic appeal, and not necessarily have any other purpose. She said that sometimes, when she is worn out and discouraged, observing beauty rejuvenates her. It was a wonderful idea, but now I am finally understanding what she meant. Sometimes it isn't the Bible verses or encouraging words from my friends that keep me going when I want to give up. Sometimes it is the pictures taken by my friend Juliet and posted on her blog that keep me going. Sometimes it's a perfectly phrased sentiment, or an analogy that finally helps me understand an abstract concept that keeps me going. Sometimes it is seeing the mountains covered in snow or a valley filled with wildflowers that reminds me that God is bigger and more awesome than I can comprehend. Sometimes I just need beauty to let me know that it will be all right.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Weird Feeling

On New Year's Eve, I went shot-gun shooting with my dad and my brother and a bunch of Boy Scouts. I came back home and took a two-and-a-half-hour nap. Then I crashed an hour before midnight and slept for nine straight hours. I haven't slept that much since I got sick right around mid-terms. And I wasn't even doing anything hard or exhausting. In fact, an average day at Biola crams in more activity than I've done in the last two weeks.

I have a weird feeling of being refreshed because I've had time to rest, yet feeling useless because I haven't been doing much of anything lately. Then I see my friends who are taking interterm classes, working, or making progress on next semester's reading, and then I look at myself. I have done pretty much nothing. I feel lazy and a bit ridiculous sitting at home, or thrift store shopping instead of working.

I also have a weird mix of wanting to go back to Biola, but at the same time dreading going back (or at least dreading registration). I desperately want to see my friends. But, I'm worried about working out the details with paying tuition and making a decision about my major.

Then, I'm feeling relieved to be home, where I have my own room, a kitchen to cook in, time to watch movies, parents who will buy food and other things for me, a car, a ranch in the country to visit, and a church full of people who have watched me grow up. At the same time, being home makes me frustrated and angry when I see my dad get angry, or make snide remarks to me or my brother, or embarrass me in front of my entire church. Or when I see my mom struggling to walk. Or when my brother has a strange mix of cockiness and apathy and I'm not sure what to do with him and my temper gets the better of me.

Part of me feels like I belong here, in the house I have lived in all my life, where I constantly run across reminders of my childhood, what I once loved to do, my joys when I was a kid. I found tons of pictures from my childhood while I was looking for pictures for my brother's Eagle Scout Court of Honor. I found pictures of me and him playing together, riding a rocking horse, playing dress-up, and helping my dad. I found pictures of myself: dressed up like a pioneer girl, reading a book, playing or posing with my friends. These pictures remind me of my past, who I was, who I am. My past (and my home) will always be a part of me...yet while I have this new-found appreciation of my past and my childhood, I feel like I don't belong here. I keep remembering that I will be moving back to Biola in a few weeks, and I am excited to plan what my dorm room will look like next semester. I feel comfortable enough at home, that I might actually miss it when I move back to Biola.

Part of me wants to dream, imagine, and wish for the future, while another part of me is afraid of the future and knows that my imaginings won't work out the way I wish. Instead, problems will arise, and I will be disappointed.

And all mixed in with this, I have a strange desire to hide from God, forget about Him, and take a break from Him...yet at the same time, I long to rest in His love and the knowledge that He has a plan for my life, and it's better than I can imagine. In almost every area of my life, I feel pulled in two directions: two responses to God, two homes, two views of my past and my family, two views of my future. It leaves me at a stalemate, so to speak. In so many areas, I don't know what to do or where to go or how to act, so I do nothing. I need courage to act, courage to keep going when I'm afraid, courage to make a decision, courage to do the right thing. And as I write this, the words from Joshua that seem to keep turning up run through my mind: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."