Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let my lifesong sing to You.

Ohhhh college. Always some kind of important decision to be made.
Too many important decisions to be made.
Especially when someone's as analytical with her decisions as me. 

TOO many decisions.

Lately I’ve had a LOT more questions than usual about my major.
(Am I really surprised?)

I’m VERY much the type of person that if I know things aren’t going to work out in the end, I don’t want to waste any more time in it. And I’ve had a lot of questions come up about Nursing.
What if I want to have a family? I want to be able to spend meaningful time with my husband and my kids. I don’t want to work all day and come home only wanting to be in the bed. I know how meaningful it was having my mom’s company in my life and I’d rather be there for my kids, and them know that, than be in a profession that denies me that.

I’ve talked to 2 or 3 people about it and they have said that it is difficult, but do-able. Which comforts me, but for some reason I feel like a part of my heart just isn’t into nursing. And I don’t know why. Every concern I find an answer to, it seems like my mind comes up with another one and why nursing won’t work.

For example, I went and gave blood a few weeks ago and hated every second of it! In fact, I passed out! Not because it scared me or anything, just because my blood sugar spiked! But I woke up to a nurse giving me a Coke and the male nurse tapping on my foot telling me that in order for him to be able to finish the bag I had to stay awake. So embarrassing. :/  Like how can I be a nurse if I hate the simple things like giving blood! I don’t know if this is God gently urging me to go on a different path, or Satan trying to stop something that He knows will make a great impact. My mind feels like it’s just in a never-ending circle and I hate it! Terribly!

So I took it upon myself to kind of be brainstorming as to what I would want to do if it wasn’t Nursing, and of course the only thing that comes to my mind is that I want to do something I feel like I’m good at! I spent all day one weekend crafting and making Christmas presents for family, and it instantly hit me mid-brush stroke. My art! My talent in art would be perfect! If I was able to do what I love everyday and help people cope and heal through doing what I love, now THAT would be an occupation. How rewarding would that be?

So I researched some options, went to the career center here at Harding, and researched some more. And I found some incredible possibilities!

One is that I could be an Art Therapist. I would assist people, kids, adults, seniors, whoever express themselves through art. I would help them express their hurts and their secrets, their pain and their past. And what an opportunity something like THAT could bring. Talk about an opening of doors.

Another option I found was to be a Speech Pathologist. I would help any and all ages who have been through surgeries, birth defects, or trauma and assist in bringing back to life their ability to communicate. In some cases (like in situations dealing with birth defects, and maybe even after some degree of trauma) I would be their very first true friend.

It’s like there are SO many options I could do anything.
It’s just the only thing that’s holding me onto nursing is the dire need for it. Abroad and even here. My Intro. to Nursing class has taught me so much and shown me just how needed people are in the profession. I want to use my talent of intelligence but use my artistic passions at the same time. It’s seriously confusing and my head is in a tailspin.

HOWEVER! Off of the heavy, and onto something MAGNIFICENT that has happened recently!


I will be LIVING in Zambia for three months next fall! I AM SO THANKFUL!

When I got the confirmation e-mail my stomach was flipping all over the place! I can NOT wait. We’ll be working with all ages, but mostly children in a place called The Haven and we get assigned babies to work with every day, do some school work of course some where in there, and just love on some people! This trip is huge because if I stick with Nursing, this is what I want to do with it. So maybe God will speak through next fall to let me know what it is He wants for me, whether it is or is not in Nursing. Who am I kidding. He definitely WILL speak on next fall and let me know what He wants for me.

So I need prayer for direction in my future academically and just in general.
I need prayers for my relationships.
A LOT of uncertainties are coming up in the next year.
But with every uncertainty there seems to be a boatload of blessing that comes as well. There always has been.

So I trust.
It hurts, but I do.
It’s scary and frustrating.
I can’t pretend that it’s all giggles and confetti when it comes to waiting on God in His timing.

But I do.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Who am I that You are mindful of me?

Club week.

Three words: Oh my goodness.

Such a blast of activity, emotion, and fun.
Before I even say anything about the week itself, I have to start off by thanking God for answered prayers. Because that is just what Pi Theta Phi is to me. An answered prayer.
Heyyy.....three more words before I start: God is good.

The week started off with NONE of us knowing what to expect. Any advice or stories told by other older girls was no good because they changed up everything about the week this year. They weren’t allowed to do hardly any of the same things they had been doing in the past. All our pledge class knew was that the mixers, the hugs, the giggles, and the smiles from the older club members were over.

The week started with all of us piling into this huge room full of all of the pledges from every club, girl and boy, to go over the new hazing law in Arkansas. We all had to sign a paper saying we wouldn’t take any part in any kind of hazing activity and would report it if we saw it. Then just PTP’s pledges all ran over to Midnight Oil only to be met by the screaming members of PTP forming a tunnel for all of us newbies to run under. It was so great. So then we all talked a little, hugged each other, and stood in a circle. We prayed, and as soon as the “Amen” was said we were jerseyed from behind by our big sisters! It was so crazy. My big sister is none other than the beautiful Kinsey :) Loved it.

We then proceeded to break into our families, take pictures around our amazing letters made by some pretty talented ladies in our club, and then ran off to start working on our club books. The rest of the night we met in one of the classrooms and just talked about what the week would consist of and fun details like that.

The week was full of surprises, stresses, and teamwork.
We made Halloween cards for patients that were in a hospital here in Searcy, had nightly all-club craziness, pledge-class breakfasts, fact memorizing, t-shirt making, banner constructing, cheer learning, and movie making.

All club was such an experience. The whole club went into the GAC and were met with every single other club already in their places in the stands screaming and dancing and cheering for their clubs.
I don't know what I was expecting, but I know it wasn't that. Literally my favorite time of the week. We sat down and they started off with singing (which was beautiful), and devotional thought, and then we started roll call. Roll call is where there's a man on the mic and he calls out a club's name and they stand and begin their cheer for the night. It was so much fun watching what everyone had come up with, and SUCH a rush standing up and cheering for our own club when they called our club's name out. I think that's where my pride for PTP slowly started to unfold :)

You can find one of our amazing cheers here:


My job was to make the movie for the week with the theme of “A Day In the Life of a Pi Theta Phi Pledge”. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it in time, but with the help of my AMAZING and life saving sisters Macy, Hayley, and Savannah we got it finished JUST in time. Literally.

So Friday finally comes and it's the last night of pledge week. We're all tired with our emotions in a frenzy, but we're all excited :)
So Friday night the last night of all-club went great and we headed out to Mrs. Parson's (one of our sponsors) house. We were told that from campus to her house we weren't to talk at all. So in silence we rode to her house, got there, and stood in a group waiting for the club members to come down the hill where we were. They came and we began trekking through the woods arm in arm with one of the older members. We stopped as Nikka (one of our VP's) read a Scripture and then we broke off and individually found a spot in the woods to pray. I LOVED that time. Love love loved it. It was incredible to just be on my knees in nature and talk to the One that made it all. So as I'm sitting there I think about how much I do the talking and how little I actually listen to Him. I don't ever wait for His answer. I just assume He's going to reveal it to me through people or just by an inkling in my heart. But what if He wanted to answer right then? I ask Him for all these answers, plead with Him as to what I'm supposed to do here, and where do I go when I get there, that He very well could have answered me but I wouldn't know because I'd be too busy talking! So as I'm sitting there, in silence, waiting on God, a breeze comes. And not one that just tussles your hair a little. I mean a breeze that shakes the trees. A breeze that rustles the leaves that are on and off of the trees. And I just start crying. It's like He was telling me, "I'm here. Do not worry. I AM hearing you." I mean how can you not weep when God speaks?

So we all come back together and walk a little further. Auburn (our other VP) read a Scripture and then we broke off again except this time we got into groups of two and prayed, came back together and walked a little further. Then we read Scripture again and broke off into groups of 5 or so to share what's going on in our lives and how we need prayer and then prayed for each other. We walked again, stopped and read more Scripture, and then broke off into groups one last time. We all got with our families and prayed for each individual in our family one person at a time and just sang praises over each other thanking God for each other and what each person brings into our lives. Words can't even describe.

We then made our way back up the hill and around to the front of the house where we saw this beautiful bonfire. We all circled around it and listened to Nikka as she applauded us for our efforts that week. Then we prayed together for the memories and friendships that would be made over the next few years and then we opened our eyes only to be jerseyed! It was so great hearing my sister Kinsey say, "It's over! You're in the club! It's over!" Haha no really. It was great hearing those words. :)
So we sang our club song for the first time together and proceeded to chant and squeal and laugh and smile together. Learning forbidden cheers and such :) 

After that we all broke off and went to get food and then came back for something called "Naked Night". Naked Night is where the ladies of PTP and the new members create bonds that will never be broken. And no, not through anything that requires you to be naked...just to clarify!
It is where all 90-something of us sit in a room and we all share our deepest and darkest struggles, secrets, or addictions. We remove the mask the world has told us to put on, and we are completely transparent with each other. And were we transparent. Things you don't even think people struggle with were brought to light. Addictions from the past were told and hurts from the present were shared. It. Was. Amazing.
I can tell you the Devil was upset that night. Because who does that? How often do almost 100 girls cram into the same room and instead of showing each other only the good in ourselves, come together to say, "Look at the very worst things that I've done." I've never before experienced a night like that one, and I am thankful. It's a strange thing how people can be brought closer when they share things about them that you would think should bring them further apart. I can't relate to half of the things that were shared, but instead of making me break away, it makes me want to be closer. It makes me want to know more and it makes me cry harder.

We talked that night from 12 AM until 6:45.
Almost 7 hours of complete cleansing.

All in all the week was more than successful. Even though it was stressful towards the end, it was something I’ll cherish forever. It created a bond between us as a pledge class that I treasure greatly. We had a Facebook group open to all us in the pledge class, and it lifted my spirits seeing so many women in the faith. Like I said, my prayers were answered by these girls. The whole beginning of the semester I’ve been begging God for better, deeper, more meaningful friendships. And that’s exactly what I found Club Week.

I love all my sisters.
I love my God.
Not because He “gave me what I want” through PTP.
But because He was faithful yet again, showing His power and love for me.


“What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:4-5.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I will sing...for He has been good to me.

Over a month and a half in the big 501!
I cannot believe it. 6 going on 7 weeks. You mean I haven’t been here for years?

I had the absolute JOY of being able to go home last weekend! One of my Bama friends from college, Molly Gammon, rode with me and we kept each other company for that killer 6 hour drive. She lives in Birmingham so she got to spend the weekend with her family and friends like me!

Friday night I made it home (finally!) and was greeted by little Minnie who was a big ball of excitement and eventually ended up standing in a big puddle of pee! Haha she couldn’t stop for the life of her! I’d never been happier cleaning up her mess in my life :)
I hugged and kissed, talked to my parents for a little bit, ate a couple sausage balls :), and left to go see my WONDERFUL best girl friend in the world Savannah. It was her birthday weekend and she had a ton of our friends over and I had to see everyone! I walked (ok maybe I ran) into her kitchen and squeezed the life out of the birthday girl first…then it was on to everyone else! After that we talked about how college is and how different life has become! Some of the girls told me about their horror stories, struggles, and the positives, of going to Bama. I loved catching up with everyone. I just couldn’t get over how different it felt. I didn’t feel like I did in high school when we would all talk. I felt older. Like we all had experience now. We all had tasted what life on our own is like. What this world is like.

There was no better feeling than being around people that I love, and that I know love me. Being able to talk to someone for the first time in 5 weeks to someone that knows me. Having a conversation with people that don’t ask me what there is to do for fun where I’m from, and what clubs I’m looking at. They already know. We know how each other work. There isn’t any need for getting-to-know-you questions. We know.

I’ve realized how much I’ve taken the blessing of acquaintance for granted; because I’m thirsting for it here.

Saturday I got up and went with my Dad and Mags to Best Buy and FINALLY got a new phone! (If you know me at all, you know this was LONG overdue!) My contract was up for an upgrade, and needless to say I was a happy girl! That afternoon I went with Alex to the Alabama/Arkansas game. I got to stop by the infamous Big Bad Wolves stand and see my wonderful friends! Not gonna lie, it made me sad to be in the place where I worked for so long, seeing everything as it’s always been continue on without me, but the barbeque nachos soon comforted me ;)

That night my mom and dad cooked a DELICIOUS dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, and salad. It was so good to be at the dinner table again. In my spot. In my house.

The next morning I woke up, packed the car for my trip home, and left for church.
The whole time at church I just couldn’t stop smiling. Seeing familiar faces and giving hug after hug telling and re-telling and telling again how much I love Harding.

If I’ve learned one thing from being at home two weekends ago, I realized how much I really do miss it. And how blessed I’ve been my entire life. And still am.
Ever since I’ve been back I can’t stop thinking about home. I miss it.
I miss my friends, my room, and my pre-college life.

Coming to Harding has been one of the most important decisions of my life.
And not only important, but the greatest decision I’ve made (in terms of my future-wise) up to this point.
It’s everything I hoped it would be. And more. And less.

Friends have already come in and gone out, club anxieties have begun, and the homesickness has started to set in.

Nothing is going wrong here, but at the same time I feel like not a whole lot is going right. Life feels different, school feels different, my friendships feel different, my church feels different.
Life feels different.

I miss my family.
I miss my dog.
I miss my best friend.

I miss familiarity.

But if I’ve learned one thing from college these past two weeks, I realized how dwelling on it will literally make a person depressed. And the way to fight this homesickness and nostalgic attitude is to do the very thing I want to do last. And that’s to leave my room and embrace this “different” that’s now my reality. And thank God for it. Even though it seems like a season of pruning and having to start again from the ground up.

I HAVE to grow up into who I need to be.

Every day brings changes, changes, and changes.
But one thing has stayed constant my entire time here: I am growing.

I am changing. I am improving. I am learning.
I’m learning how to be who I want to be, and learning the biggest lesson that I think I may ever learn in my life: that in order to be who I want to be, means being lonely sometimes.
Which I have been.
Not everyone sees things in the same light as me even here at Harding. Friendship here seems to not mean what it did between me and my friends in T-town. And that’s expected! I can’t expect friendships like I had back home when I’ve only known people here for 2 months. And that’s ok. Well, I’m trying to teach myself that it is. It’s ok if I feel like I’m the only one. It’s establishing me. It’s strengthening me.

I am becoming more independent.
I’m ok spending some time in-between classes in my room. The silence is good. The solitude is something to treasure. I think the lesson I’m learning right now, the lesson on reliance and learning a quiet spirit, is what I’ve needed most. More than covalent and ionic bonding in Chemistry. More than how to communicate more effectively in Speech. The humbling process of learning a quiet and compassionate spirit, hurts.

Because it means being quiet. And alone.

Not to get gushy here, but I have to give credit and thankfulness to my best friend. He’s responsible for a majority of the reason I’ve realized all of this and has helped me recognize that this is the kind of outlook I have to have to get over this bump in the road. He went through it himself his freshman year of college, and has spent many nights in conversation over it with me. He’s shown me how to look at it positively, comforted me, gotten my mind off of it when I need a break, and made me smile when I’m mid-sniffle as the tears pour down.

He’s been a gift from God to me the past year and a half, but especially in this last month. I am comforted by the Word. I am comforted in learning about the promises and faithfulness of God in Bible class. But there’s something about the tangibility of a friend. The kind of comfort that comes from a voice I can hear and a face I can see.

And I think the Lord has been using Alex to be His audible voice that God Himself has wanted to be for me. He’s been the Father’s voice in my worst nights.
(By no means am I comparing him to God of course. What I mean is that the Lord has used him to talk to me, and to give me the type of comfort I’ve needed.)

My beautiful and wonderful friend and mentor, Lindsey Thrasher, wrote on her blog a few days ago about the importance and refereshment that come with gratitude.
(You can find her full post about it here.)

Here’s what she says about it:

“Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts has truly been a God-send in my life.  I feel like she let me in on a big secret... 

"Gratitude always precedes the miracles." 
"Thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large." 
“Ungratefulness is what caused the fall of man... and a heart of true gratitude is what returns us to God Himself.”  
In the pages of this book, Ann beautifully describes a life that I long for…one that sees. That notices. That takes each moment and finds the beauty in it. To accept whatever God gives, because God is good no matter our circumstances. She deals with the ugly of life and wrestles with how to accept that all truly is grace. She was given a challenge to write down 1000 things that she loves. And this challenge awakened her hurt, bruised, anxious self to the beauty and worship and confidence and healing each new day brings. That's what I want. I don't want to live another day in a blur. I want to see. To appreciate. To worship with my life."

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

SO, to combat all of the bogging down on my spirit the Devil has been doing, to worship with my life, to see beauty in all things even in the blurry times, and to do what the Lord has put in His will for me to do, I’m going to create my own list. Not of 1,000 but of 100 things.

100 things that I can say I am truly thankful for.

2.) the smell of my mother.
3.) hugs from my Dad.
4.) wobbly babies learning to walk.
5.) sisters.
6.) memories.
7.) Savannah Hunt.
8.) youth group inside jokes and adventures.
9.) taking pictures.
10.) surprise flowers.
11.) Alex Aldridge and his faith.
12.) when someone keeps a promise even when I had forgotten about it.
13.) Min Min :)
14.) letters in the mail, even when the person could have just sent me a text.
15.) acoustic guitars.
16.) stars.
17.) Impact 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
18.) Taco Casa :)
19.) summer love.
20.) painting.
21.) Lindsey Thrasher.
22.) Chacos.
23.) warm clothes just out of the dryer.
24.) Rob Cain.
25.) kayaking.
26.) baby feet.
27.) checking off the last thing on a to-do list.
28.) Cheez-its.
29.) the sound of a beating heart.
30.) Diet Mountain Dew.
31.) cooking out.
32.) the warmth of a campfire.
33.) Pinterest.
34.) home videos.
35.) baby hands running through my hair.
36.) lazy days.
37.) John Mayer.
38.) sun hats.
39.) homemade Chex Mix.
40.) Amber Norris.
41.) listening to life stories from older generations.
42.) cowboy boots.
43.) the cool breeze that comes right before Fall begins.
44.) the sound of rain.
45.) tailgating.
46.) daisies.
47.) love notes :)
48.) surprise dates.
49.) clean baby smell.
50.) kisses on the forehead.
51.) pearl earrings.
52.) the tears that come after a good laugh.
53.) riding in the car with the windows down.
54.) Lauren Gross.
55.) Tara Northington.
56.) cold sheets.
57.) one shoulder dresses.
58.) pinky promises.
59.) sunrises and sunsets.
60.) when I find a verse that feels as if it were written for me.
61.) 3 up, 3 down :)
62.) Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake cookies
63.) cassette tapes of Disney movies, reminding me of my childhood.
64.) being asked for advice.
65.) baby yawns.
66.) s’more cookouts.
67.) curly hair.
68.) big sweatshirts.
69.) Cameron Hamner.
70.) beach breeze.
71.) memories from softball State tournaments.
72.) deep conversations.
73.) love.
74.) Katie Hooper and her laugh that could brighten anyone’s day.
75.) the hope that comes with the morning.
76.) the purity of a child.
77.) the feeling of being reunited with someone you miss.
78.) sunflowers.
79.) Leeland/Kari Jobe/DCB/JesusCulture.
80.) fireplace fires in winter.
81.) silly pictures.
82.) the smell of sunscreen.
83.) football.
84.) Africa.
85.) thrift store shopping.
86.) white sun dresses.
87.) when Mags asks me for a hug.
88.) Christmas dinner with the whole family.
89.) new beginnings.
90.) Nutella.
91.) a good nap.
92.) meaningful prayer.
93.) the warmth of Spring after a brutal winter.
94.) seeing once insecure girls find their confidence.
95.) listening to different languages.
96.) the feeling my heart has after its rung out from worship.
97.) giving a baby a bottle.
98.) hot dog parties at Sazy’s.
99.) the smells around my house at Christmas time.
100.) the forgiving, ageless, unchangeable love of God.

Yes, I miss my family. Yes, I miss my friends. But why spend my time and waste the minutes of my day thinking about what’s wrong when there are hundreds and even thousands of things to be thankful for? The very fact alone that God decided to extend the world’s existence just one more day and chooses to romance me throughout the day should keep me joyful and my attitude full of praise. He sings to me through the birds and He touches me through the breeze that I feel on my way to class.

Starting today I choose to be thankful.

And when I feel wrung dry, I will be thankful.
And when I find the circle of people that share the same hopes and dreams that I’ve been wanting to find so badly, I will be thankful.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!...The LORD Almighty is here among us; the God is Israel is our fortress.
-Psalm 46:1-3, 11.

Wow wow wow.

My first week of college is officially completed! And MAN am I in need of some serious sleep. This week has been SO crazy, and awesome, and stressful, and exciting, and frustrating, and full of joy!
I am SO SO SO pleased with my choice of coming here.
All it took was a week for my mind to have the reassurance I needed. It really is great to be at Harding.

So Thursday I woke up and we left about 7 o'clock in order to get to Searcy and move in by the time Impact began full-swing. After 5 hours of driving I started to get SUPER sleepy, so my dad had to finish the trip for me. It was such a strange feeling pulling into the campus, no longer a visitor, but as a student!

I got all of my things into my room super easily thanks to the football players, and began to unpack right away. It was super surreal and scary. I was unpacking my things to stay! It's not just camp or a retreat anymore, it's my life now! And actually moving myself in to live in that reality for the next 4 years is a weird, weird thing. Thinking about home and the fact that when I go back it will only be to visit. I don't officially LIVE at my house anymore! Whenever I go, it'll only be to visit. This is considered my home now!

I finished unpacking and hung out with my family and with my roommate and suite-mate. The energy on campus made the day go a lot smoother than I was expecting. Seeing everybody else excited about being at Harding took my mind off of the worry and made it focus on the positive. And there IS so much positive to focus on here!
My mom came Friday night with my clothes, and I finished moving everything in. The first night wasn't scary at all! It just felt like a sleepover or something! I didn't feel like everything was permanent. And to be honest it still doesn't!

Our room is black and white with turquoise, and it is super super cute! :)

All the pictures make it feel like all my friends are with me! :)

The first night my roommate, Bridget, suite-mate, Ashley, and I just hung out in the dorms because we were so tired from the day! But from the next morning on it was going going going.

The freshmen move in over the weekend, so Harding has an event called "Impact" just to get us involved and friendly with new people! Dinners, functions, energy groups, bands, and meet and greets. So much fun stuff to do, you really couldn't do it all! I was really nervous, because it is not in my personality to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out on a limb, hoping the person I'm talking to is friendly back. So the first two days were NOT fun. I just felt so out of place and homesick. Saturday morning my parents left, and that was hard. Saying goodbye to my Dad, Mom, Mags, and Alex was almost too much. Knowing it was the end of the road for us as the family I've always known, and the beginning of me discovering myself and learning how to make this college thing work.

The weather. Oh the weather. It feels like 95 with humidity that makes it seem 105. My hair never ever curls up in humidity, but the first few days have made my hair wave! It's insane! And we aren't allowed to wear shorts to class, so it's been jeans for me all week! No fun!

Then Saturday night we had a function called "The White Party" for dinner. Our freshman theme is "So Fresh and So Clean", so they threw us a "fresh and clean" dinner to end Impact. I met up with some girls that Lindsey had interned for before, and we went to it! It was so cool seeing all the white! So we're standing in line talking, and I asked these two girls behind us to take mine and the girls I was standing with's picture. She did and we started talking and they were the sweetest girls in the world! And actually we're all best friends now! Brittany and Paige are so outgoing and precious, and they have most definitely turned my time at Harding around! I was worried about how things would go (which is a bad idea because God always seems to make me feel silly for it when He provides later), but since I've hung out with them, meeting (literally) more people than I could count, I've had such a blast and my anxiety is completely gone. We just laugh and laugh and laugh together, and that's exactly what I needed.

Sunday night me, a couple other girls, and Brittany and Paige sat out in the hall and were just talking, and we decided to have a dance party! We danced to the Cha Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle. It was too funny. And eventually more girls came and joined us! So great.

So the weekend passed andddd we get to classes. All of my teachers are nice! My favorite is absolutely my Speech teacher, Dr. Frye. He is so so funny and cracks up at himself! And you can tell he has so much wisdom and insight to share.

What surprised me the most about classes is how much READING we have to do! Three of my teachers' assignment on the first day was to read chapter one. Now a chapter doesn't sound too bad, but when you've got THREE to read, and psychology's first chapter is 30 pages, that's a lot! Especially when there are a ton of friends you would much rather hang out with!

Note to self: time balance=killer priority in college.

I've only had one quiz so far, and it was in Bible.
I love my Bible class. Every day we sing a hymn before we get started, and then we just listen to Mr. Cloer lecture. It sounds boring, but it's actually interesting. It's so cool learning about the church and the traditions of old. It truly is such a blessing to be able to go to a school that can actually teach me the most important lessons of life.

So the classes haven't been TOO bad, it's just the assignments that kick my booty!

Thursday night we had a drive-in movie on the front lawn to Space Jam, which I've never seen, but one of my friends texted me and told me there was something called "Racquetball Devo" going on at 9. So Paige, Brittany, and I left and went to it! IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE. A ton of us crammed into this little racquetball room and just sang and sang and sang. The echo was so beautiful. I couldn't help but think that if THIS sounded so amazing, I can't wait to hear the chorus in Heaven. Because it really did blow me away. I videoed probably 5 songs, but here's just one to give you an idea.

Amazing, right? And it was lead by students! No lesson. No devotional thought. Just singing.

College has been such an amazing time so far. With the Sonic and Wal-mart runs, deep conversations with my guy and girl friends about spiritual things, laughing, taking fun pictures, and meeting so many incredible people. And there are SO many incredible people here. Everyone is so nice and friendly. I've made SO many friends and it's only been a week! I whole-heartedly love Harding and have yet to feel sad away from home! I think it's just because I'm so busy, my mind hasn't had time to wander and dwell on what I'm missing, but I would much rather it be that way instead of missing them all the time!

Well! I think that's about it for my first week! I'm so so excited to be here! I'm just really going to have to buckle down and study a lot. Speaking of, I've had a lot of hesitation in my mind come up about my major. I'm only in Chem 114, and I'm already kind of struggling with keeping up since it all moves so fast. There are a lot of concepts that I'm not understanding, and we have to rush through them to complete the lesson for the day since there's so much. And it's the easiest science class I'm ever going to have! I don't know. Maybe it's a way the Holy Spirit is communicating to me early that I'm going to need His strength for college to be successful. For my career hopes to be successful. Maybe I just need to tough it out and find myself on my knees for a couple weeks before I seriously consider changing. But until I know, the joy God has given me this week will be my strength!

Until next time!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Insisting on snippets when there's a whole symphony to be heard.

Blog-surfing is way too much fun.
I love reading posts whether they be by strangers or my best friends.
Like the moments when I read something by someone I know, and I can picture them saying it. When I can picture EXACTLY what tone they were thinking in their head when they wrote it. It's so funny how personality can shine even through letters on a computer screen.

So I'm just looking around enjoying my last few days (7 to be exact) before the quizzes and tests and papers and assignments and essays and powerpoints and research and memorizing and big decisions and friend-making and pledging and MOVING all hit me at once. Yeah. Whoa.

So I ran up on a couple of things. And, as always, my mind was blown.
You know, like those Francis Chan/David Platt moments where they make such complex ideas seem so tangible and available to even someone as common as me.
Those moments that make you go, "OHHH! Nnnnnow I get it! Wait....but that's uncomfortable."

Yeah. That happened.
In about 10 minutes.'s a little "Food for Thought Thursday" action.
Be prepared: It's deep.
Be challenged.

The first thing:

I was looking around on some posts by Chris Seidman. He was the speaker at Impact this past summer and his abilities to communicate and draw out Scripture is unlike anything I've heard. He paints pictures and explains images by using completely relatable things. Not dumbed down things. But really good understandable encounters. Great great great things to say. The way he thinks is how I think, so every night he talked I was all ears. He can get loud. And some people have a peeve against that when it comes to preaching, but it's ok with me. I mean, my voice tends to get louder when I talk about things I'm passionate about. Everyone does if you pay attention close enough. You want to be heard. You want others to see why what you love is worth it. I figure it's the same concept.

So his post mentioned how he has stopped reading the Bible in verses and fragments of chapters, and then posted the link to a video.
And, of course, it was super intriguing. In fact, I watched it twice.
Which I never do. But what the man in the clip was saying was so full of insight and wisdom, you can't help but want to make sure you catch every piece of it.


If you've ever had trouble reading Scripture--whether it be because it didn't make sense, it seemed redundant, inactive, pointless, or even annoying, this video is for you.

And if you've never found yourself in any of those categories, then we need to go get some coffee. Cause I bet you're a super cool person with a boatload of wisdom.

The Whole Sweep of Scripture.

Second thing:

After watching the video twice I continued to do just a tad bit more surfing before I hit the hay.
What's interesting to me about blogger is that at the top of the screen where you have the option to follow someone, there's a button that says "Next Blog". When you click it, blogger somehow knows the nature of the blog you're looking at and will send you to another completely random blog that more than likely talks about the same kind of topic you're looking at. For example, if you're looking at a photography blog and click "Next Blog" in about 3 seconds you'll find yourself looking at a graphic design/craft idea/photography blog by someone from New Jersey. It's really neat.

So I did that and I came across this:

Jon Andrews: Questions

The last one was what struck me the hardest.

Are we really getting it?

Shouldn't we be the safe-haven? The place where all kinds of brokenness come together like pieces to a puzzle, that only when we agree to fit and perform together, make the whole?

How did we miss this? That BEING a Christian is more important than appearing to be one. That ACTUALLY asking yourself in all circumstances, "What would Christ Himself do?" rather than just wear the bracelet.
"If we as Christians loved our enemies more, we probably wouldn't need as many bumper stickers and t-shirts telling people who we are."- Chris Seidman.

Like I said, deep but good stuff.
Think about it. Dwell on it. Take a break and then mull it over some more.

I'll be back soon to talk about the CRAZINESS of moving out.
SO SO SO soon.

When did I grow up again?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 12: Ephesians 6:10-12

"And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels."
-Ephesians 6:10-12

Tuesday; July 12, 2011
11:15 P.M.

I am back home!

What an amazing trip.

We finally landed in ATL and the Birmingham about 10:05! What an awesome feeling it was to see my family. I got some amazing rest last night and gave my family their presents today as soon as my dad got home from work. They loved them! :)

We had a BBQ dinner tonight with Alex's family. It's always a good day when I spend time with them.

I've done so much thinking about the trip today. The kids' faces are constantly scrolling through my mind. I feel as if a piece of my heart is missing.

It's never felt better laying in my own bed and eating some awesome food that I KNOW tastes good before I put it in my mouth :) But I really feel like something's missing.

So many memories.

So much joy when I look at my pictures. Tears when I watch my videos and hear those voices!

And to think.
This is just the beginning.

Day 11: Isaiah 41:8-10

"But you, Israel, are my servant. You're Jacob, my first choice, descendants of my good friend Abraham. I pulled you in from all over the world,  called you in from every dark corner of the earth, telling you, 'You're my servant, serving on my side. I've picked you. I haven't dropped you.' Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."
-Isaiah 41:8-10

Monday; July 11, 2011
12:10 P.M.


It feels so good!
Towards the end everyone began to feel super antsy.

Sunday I woke up and hour and a half early because I couldn't go back to sleep because of my excitement! We packed up, ate breakfast, and went to church in the slums. The service ended up being about 3 hours, definitely the longest service I've ever been a part of, but I wouldn't trade it for a service like we have back home for anything.
MAN do Kenyans know how to worship!
There was a woman in front of us just weeping and weeping during a song. People clapping, swaying, dancing, hands raised high, crying, shouts of joy, smiling, whispering. Literally NO ONE looking around seeing what everyone else was doing or if anyone was looking at what they were doing. It was such an unforgettable thing to be able to be a part of.

A woman started a train around the seats in one of their celebration songs! It was SO SO SO cool!

The lesson was done by a white man from the States that was also visiting Kenya. After the lesson we left and went to eat lunch at an American missionary's house. She, her husband, and another missionary couple fixed us spaghetti, lasagna, brownies, ice cream, and sweet tea! It. Was. Heavenly. I mean, it was WONDERFUL!
We sat and talked about organizations and the mission work opportunities going on in Kenya and even around the world. It was really encouraging to me because it reminded me that I'm not alone in my wants for the world. There are others with the same vision, and they're making it happen!

We left the house and headed back to our hotel to change and rest before our trip to the airport.

After about an hour and a half at the hotel, we left!
We arrived at the airport around 6 and had our bags checked and ready by 7!
It was awesome. We chilled and walked around, and Alex, Ryan Roop, Allan Oloo, Brennen Hollingsworth, and I ate at Java House for dinner. I got  chicken burrito and IT WAS SERIOUSLY AWESOME. With the guacamole? Mmmm mmm MMM!

Our flight was supposed to depart around 11:15 P.M. but we didn't leave until 12!
We flew for 8 hours, laid over in London for 3 hours, and are now back on an 8 hour flight headed towards D.C.! Only one hour left until we land! I'm pumped to touch homeland soil! :)


Day 10: Isaiah 33:2

"Lord, have mercy on us. We have put our hope in you. Protect us day by day and save us in times of trouble."
-Isaiah 33:2

Saturday; July 9, 2011
10:21 P.M.

I can't believe we're going home TOMORROW! It literally feels like I've been here for months.
But not in a torturous held-hostage kind of way. In a good way. Which I've never felt before.

Today I woke up around 6 and COULD not go back to sleep for the life of me! I haven't slept all the way through a single night since I've been here! So I laid in bed for about an hour and a half and then got up to get ready for the day.

I ate a couple bites of pineapple for breakfast and then we left for the youth center again! Traffic took an hour! But it actually wasn't that bad! My crew was having fun laughing and giggling together as our last day. But we finally got there and got to work. I painted the entire day up until the last 20 minutes or so before we left.

Me, Amber, Allan, and Linda all were painting the second floor classroom and having WAY too much fun! We were singing "I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys, "Firework" by Katy Perry, and basically anything and everything else! It was so much fun because we were all harmonizing while trying to sing as off key as we could. They all are so much fun :) I'm going to miss them.

A young African girl in the eighth grade came into our room we were painting upstairs because she heard us singing "I Want It That Way". Her name was Rehema and she was such a sweet spirit. She wanted us to sing and sing and sing that song until she memorized it. And she did! I was super impressed. So we started talking and I asked her what she wanted to be and she said a neuro-surgeon. She said she wants to hopefully visit America since so many American are able to come visit Africa. She wants to see what it's like since we're able to see what Africa's like. She said, "So many people come here and say they love our country and I want to go to America and say the same!" Her voice was so sweet. She hung out with us the rest of the day and actually went and found some paper and a pen and got us to sing the song one more time so she could write down the lyrics just in case she forgot them. I didn't mind singing for her again though. It was too much fun :)

Our group went downstairs after finishing our room and helped with another one. After a while my eyes started burning so I went outside for a breather away from the paint thinner. Alex was shocked at how dilated my pupils were. Apparently that's a sign that someone is becoming high, so I figured I should probably stop for the rest of the day, haha. But the last day of work was really great.

We left, fought traffic again, came back to the hotel, ate lunch, and then left for the market. The market was really fun! I finished ALL my gift shopping which made me super happy! It made me even more excited to get home so I can see my family's faces when I give them their gifts! I love giving gifts that I picked out myself that I think are absolutely perfect for them, and seeing people's reaction!

We left the market and headed back to the hotel to eat dinner and have our team meeting. Rob talked about 2 Timothy 3:12 and how if we're not experiencing persecution, and especially if we haven't ever experienced it, we're not living godly lifestyles. It was so good. As usual. And so true.

After our meeting we each got a copy of the group picture we took at Carnivore and then went downstairs to the hotel restaurant and watched a DVD of all the pictures Kent had taken of our trip! Well, I say all, but I mean the 640 he chose out of the thousands he took. They were all super great.

But, I'm ready for a great full day tomorrow! Bring on the travel day!
I'm ready to see my fam!!!


Day 9: Psalm 118:14

"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."

-Psalm 118:14

Friday; July 8, 2011
10:00 P.M.

Man my days are getting mixed up! I can't remember what day it is, what the date is, or anything! Anyway!
Today was a fantastic day! You're surprised I know! ;)

We woke up, ate an awesome breakfast (omelets here are my fave), and set out for our work site!
Today it was in the slums at a Baptist Youth Center. 

The Youth Center is a school for grades K-8 and there's this huge dump behind it.

The building to the right is the school, to the left
is a classroom, and behind are the miles of trash
constantly being burned.

What's worse is that the center is right in the middle of the slums in Nairobi. The slums consisted of tin house after tin house. Well, I say "house" but it's really a 4x10 foot shack. Walls made out of squares of tin nailed together. My mind can't even wrap around the fact that people live like that. Breathe that kind of air. Sleep where there is absolutely no safety or guarantee from harm. Go through other people's trash for clothes, tools, and food.

When we got out of the van the smell was almost unbearable.
But after a while you got used to it.

All the girls decided we needed to go to the bathroom, so one of the office ladies led us to them. They were outside. We were shocked to say the least. We walked into this building that had probably 8 outhouses all connected together, and it smelled like feces of all kind.

I walked in to use the bathroom (it was a must) hoping to find a porcelain looking rim, but it was in the actual ground.
And the floor was wet all over (and not from water, if you catch my drift).
So...the girls used the squatting technique Mrs. Leigh Ann showed us a few days ago :)

There was a little girl that came to use the bathroom while we were all waiting for all of our girls to get done. She shaked all of our hands and smiled THE cutest little smile. She walked past us to use the bathroom and fell down on the rocks that led up to the "stall" (which were wet and discolored...also not from water). She then stood up, looked at her hands, and wiped whatever she got on them on the stall door. All the way down the door frame.

The little princess....pre-fall. Haha :)

There is nothing sanitary, nor safe about that place for it to be an environment for human beings. Let alone children.

After the bathroom trip, we went up to Pastor Euticauls Wambua's office in the school (he also serves as the principal) and had a meeting with him. He told us a little about the school's history and how it came to be. He hopes for it to turn into a high school soon. We then prayed and broke off into our crews and started to paint. We talked to some girls and then I went upstairs and helped. We painted the yellow classroom walls light blue! It was super pretty.

After a few minutes of painting, me, Amber, and Linda got to go into the Kindergarden class and they sang us SO many songs! There wasn't even a teacher in the room with us to start any of them either! They just kept going one after another. It was so so cute. A teacher eventually came in there with us and we talked about Jonah and the big fish and then David and Goliath. We danced with them too :)
I love their excitement for life. It is just too innocent and it makes me jealous! I wish I had that kind of zeal and passion. And to have it all the time just for the sake of it! No reason at all except for the joy in the fact that their alive! I mean, you KNOW they have no reason to be happy. But these children have already learned that happiness comes from more than their circumstance.

Again, we come to teach THEM, yet we get schooled ourselves. Today, by Kindergardeners. God has such a sense of humor, doesn't He?

We finished up painting, took a group picture with all of the kids, and headed to the market.
I bought 90% of my gifts today! :) For lunch I ate some ice cream and it was really awesome! I counted up how much I spent today and I got 2 baskets for my mom, a bracelet, a keychain, a carved elephant about the size of half of a football for my dad, a little carved elephant for my mom, a wallet for Maggie, a purse for Lindsey, and some coffee for my Dad, all under $100! I love the cheap-ness of living here!

So we left there and I started to feel super sick.
So much so, that after 15 minutes of standstill traffic, I had to get out. I started to sweat and and have chills at the same time, and I knew something wasn't right. So our driver, sweet sweet Charles, pulled over and Mr. Randy helped me find a restroom.

We finally got back to the hotel afterwards and I was feeling a lot better.
Me and Amber got ready to go eat at Carnivore.
It. Was. Fantastic. And amazing. And incredible!
Each table has a little flag that you keep up if you want them to keep bringing you meat. Tonight they had leek/potato soup, rump steak, leg of lamb, leg of pork, pork sausages, lamb chops, pork spare ribs, chicken wings, chicken yakitori, chicken livers, ox testicles, chicken gizzards, lamb sausage, turkey, lamb liver, camel, crocodile, ostrich meat balls, and a potato!

The only thing I remember saying no to were the ox testicles (of course), and the lamb liver I think!
The things that were actually good was the chicken, the beef, spare ribs, turkey, camel, crocodile, and the potato! Everything else was good those just stood out the most! There wasn't anything I tasted that I just couldn't swallow! For dessert I had strawberry and passion fruit sorbet which was very good, and some coffee which was outstanding. Overall, the meal was fantastic! Best meal since we've been here by far!

We left Carnivore and came back to the hotel. We met together as a group and Rob talked about how we can keep the camp fire alive after camp is over. He led us to different Scriptures that all linked together in these truths:

1) When we enter His gates with thanksgiving and worship, we experience His presence.
2) When we have His presence, we receive His joy.
3) That joy of the Lord is our strength.
4) In that strength we are able to resist the Enemy and seek God's paths.
5) Because of our resistance of Satan, we are able to have abundant life to the brim.

It all kind of worked as a chain reaction type thing! Like I said, Rob is such a good communicator and teacher.

But now we're off to bed! Water still gets on the floor from the shower, but it's nothing that a couple of towels from the front desk won't fix!

It feels like I've been in Africa for months.
But it's not a bad thing.
It's like a, this is almost beginning to feel like home kind of thing.