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."