Fall break was this week. I vowed to do two things
To kickstart a revival of my bible reading habit
To get all of my homework done so I could bask in a glorious no-homework, stress-free beginning of my week
Let’s just say God may be happier regarding my fall break reading habits than my professors. I didn’t get much homework done. I read my bible and hung out with my friends doing caffeine induced non-study study parties, mall trips, movie nights, and listening to music.
In communications studies there is a concept called “reframing” in which the words chosen to describe something effect how one perceives it or acts towards it. So instead of saying “I slacked off and hung out with friends and read my bible instead of my textbook”…I’ll say “I spent Fall Break forming meaningful relationships with both humans and the almighty” which causes me to think better of myself than I probably should
I don’t know if you have ever had this happen to you, but sometimes when I read the Bible God smacks me in the face with something and no matter where I go it follows me. I believe God has to do this to me because I am stubborn and often refuse to listen to what I need to hear the most.
The phrase of the weekend for me seemed to be “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” This is the beginning of Proverbs 1:7 in the NIV. Other translations substitute knowledge for wisdom but something about the word knowledge stuck with me better. Being a college student I am pretty much a knowledge leech, just frantically soaking up anything I can get from my professors, friends, and random internet literature.
Later in Proverbs 2:1-5 Solomon writes that the fear of the Lord comes from storing up the commands of God in us, attempting to understand them, and earnestly seeking further understanding of them. I had never thought of “the fear of the Lord” that way. But, since I didn’t want to write a paper and I had a perfectly good cup of hot apple cider already made and sitting on my desk, I decided to try it.
In Pentateuch with Dr. Edlin we’re studying the Exodus. I began to think about Moses standing before the God who brought the horrifying plagues on Egypt, who killed the first born of all of their households, who parted the red sea and killed the Egyptian army. I thought about when Moses first came before God and had to remove his shoes. I thought about how, later, the Israelites couldn’t go on the mountain of God because God’s presence would destroy them. And in light of the acts of a terrifying all powerful God, I thought about the commands God gave his people and how immediately God’s people broke those rules.
This led me to think about the law in general, the rules we follow as Christians and I began to realize something about myself. I’m not afraid to sin. I know that sounds odd, but in that moment I realized I’ve never really felt the wrath of God when I’ve sinned. The ground has never swallowed me up, I have never been struck by lightning, my water bottle has never suddenly turned to blood, and I may have been attacked by a frog once but I do not believe that was retribution from God.
The grace of God is incredible. He is the same God today as he was in the Old Testament. My physical, sinful self should not be able to physically exist in the presence of God and yet I know his presence is with me wherever I go.
I take for granted the fact that I can just pray to him. I don’t have to climb a mountain, and almost more importantly for me, I don’t have to be Moses. I don’t have to be born of a Levite or brutally murder petting zoo animals in order to talk to God.
Reading the Old Testament and Proverbs always makes me feel humbled. I am living in the Kingdom of God, a new era of personal relationship with the Father. That is a huge gift. I was very convicted as to the level of my own personal reverence of God. He put me in my place as a puny little human and praying from that perspective feels much more natural to me. I guess the fear of the Lord helped me gain some knowledge about my own shortcomings in that department.
To throw one back to Communications, I had to reframe my concept of myself from “obligated to pray to God” to “somehow miraculously able to talk to God”. My reality didn’t change, but the way I perceived it did and that in turn has effected how I’ve been praying.
So I am most in fear and awe of God while entering this Halloween season. Ghosts and Vampires are not real, but an all powerful being who can destroy whole nations with the words of his mouth is real. I’m just glad in his grace he has let me be on his side.
Two things I’m praying for this week
Appreciation and acknowledgement of the sheer might and power of the God I am attempting to serve
A humble and thankful heart for God’s grace and acknowledgment of my wimpy human status
You may have noticed that I did not post on my normal day. Over the fall break weekend I went on a hiking and backpacking trip in Arkansas with Kairos. Kairos is the college age ministry group that meets at College Church of the Nazarene. They normally take a trip every school break. They go backpacking during fall break, skiing over winter break, backpacking again over spring break, and white water rafting over summer vacation.
Over fall break 22 MNU and JCCC students went to Arkansas and hiked the Ozark Highland Trails. We also peaked Whiterock Mountain. I really didn’t know a whole lot of the students that went on the trip, but by the end of the trip, I would consider everyone that went on the trip a friend of mine. We had some crazy, fun experiences that brought us close. I took a few pictures that kind of tell the story of our trip.
Just got on the trail.
We pretty much followed a creek for most of the trail up the mountain.
Found a small waterfall in the distance.
The views along the hike were just gorgeous! All the different colors in the trees were breath taking.
High up on a cliff.
The farther we got, the more gloomy it became.
Sadly these pictures cannot do the beauty of the trip the justice it deserves. Just know the trip was amazing. I think everyone should go on at least one trip during their time here at MNU. The trips are for everyone. You don’t have to be an expert hiker to go on these. Believe me, because I am not an expert. I don’t even have all the equipment. You can borrow whatever you need from friends. I will definitely be going on more trips with Kairos in the future.
Hey guys! I hope everyone passed midterms! It’s another week down, and this week I’m skipping the video entry to write out my thoughts for y’all! Whaaaaaat
So college has been one heck of an adventure so far and we’re only three months in. I wanted to provide future, and current students, with some helpful advice -academic and otherwise- that will help you get through your first year and years to come. So without further ado, here are some lessons that might last a lifetime.
Create new networks! Make connections with friends, reach out to new people…don’t be afraid! By doing this you can meet so many new people and also build excellent mentors for your professional life.
Figure out if you like coffee; and if you do, get GOOD at making it!
Understand that you can take action! Want to make a new club? Want to improve your school or community? You, as a young adult, have that power; take it and run with it.
Take advantage of your professors extra credit assignments and make appointments with them when you have questions. This could make or break your GPA.
Just because you can skip class and get your notes online, doesn’t mean that you should. (Personally, I broke down how much I’m paying -about $36 per class, per day- who wants to lose that money?)
Get involved. Get an internship. Get a job. Require as much experience as you can in what you want to do to benefit your future.
Highlighters and index cards are your new best friends.
Straight A’s aren’t what is most important. Remember my last vlog? I mentioned that you’re in college to earn an education for you, not an A for your professor.
Find a work-life balance. It is NOT easy, but it is important.
Accept the fact that your student ID photo is going to be awful. Join the club, buddy.
Who’s your academic advisor? Figure that out, quickly.
Find the best place for you to study. Set yourself up for success, not failure. My place is upstairs in the library. It’s quiet and allows me to focus.
Learn how to do your own laundry. Nobody wants the “Mom, what’s the difference between darks and whites?” phone call.
Know the dining hall hours like the back of your hand. Let’s be honest, we all love food.
Call your parents, often. This will help prevent homesickness and more importantly, that relationship is changing, you need to work hard at maintaining it and all it’s new glory.
You can eat whatever you want now! But it doesn’t mean you should have ice cream for breakfast.
Be studious… and then be spontaneous.
Purchase a decent hard drive. Save your files often, and ALWAYS double save your papers/projects.
As important as going home is and maintaining ties with people you love, don’t let that stop you from building new relationships on campus every now and then.
Expect to grow and change. I promise it’s okay. Scary, but okay.
Hey! So, last week was Homecoming Week here at MNU… which means every night is filled with fun, friends, and free food.
Here’s a quick recap of the events that I attended.
Thursday night: Hoedown
The Hoedown is something I look forward to every year. It’s basically a bunch of fun dancing, donuts from the Louisburg Cider Mill, root beer, and the crowning of the class princes and princesses!
Friday night: Bonfire/Buck Night
This year, ASG decided to do a giant bonfire at one of the football practice fields and then gave every student free food at the Buck Night. The Buck Night is a place where alumni gather and have the opportunity to make food and sell samples of it to friends. There was also live music and the Royals game playing… it’s a fun evening with fellow students and graduates of MNU!
Saturday afternoon: Homecoming Football Game
I went to the game with a few of my suite mates… Christen and Tori. It was a perfect afternoon for a football game and WE WON. Also, the Homecoming king and queen were crowned, which is always fun to watch.
Saturday evening: Homecoming Banquet
No, I didn’t have a date… but I did have my wonderful suite mate, Christen, to go with! It was a wonderful meal that left me stuffed, followed by a candy bar that I visited even though I was stuffed. There was lots of fun dancing and good conversations with friends that I don’t see often. And everyone looked stunning! It’s always fun to dress up.
Sunday (after church of course): Sleep.
So… there ya have it. MNU Homecoming Week is always something to look forward to.
One question that I get asked all the time is, “Renee! My goodness, you are a college student now, what ever is your major?”
I reply with “Good Sir or Madam, I am a double major in “Bible and Theology” and “Communications”. I love it very much.”
To which they reply, “Good heavens! What an unusual combination! What ever do you plan to do with your life?”
And they receive from me a blank look of alarm because despite my air of cool collectedness I am quite uncertain of my path in life. This fact never really bothers me unless somebody asks me about it. I know I am supposed to be a Bible and Theology major. I know I am supposed to be a communications major. I know I am supposed to be at MNU. I’d say I’m pretty well off for now.
As my boyfriend Quinn (Quinston Churchill, Quintonamore, Quinny-the-pooh, Because of Quinn Dixie, Quinn to the Woods) often tells me, “God doesn’t give you the tickets until you’re ready to board the train.”
Quinn and I at homecoming this weekend
So I’ll be content waiting at the station with my bible and giant communications text book nerding out over communications theories and how they relate to the bible and my group of friends.
Speaking of friends, I had a lot of fun this homecoming!
Friday night a group of us went down into Kansas City for an adventure
Quinn and I love going on adventures like these with our friends
We often compare Jordan to Ted from How I Met Your Mother so we made him take this photo with a dumpster
We found an alley with art all over the walls. It was insanely cool stuff and we had a lot of fun with it.
Quinn had a brilliant idea to start posing with the art.
Alex and Shakespeare
We went to “Thou Mayest”, an awesome coffee shop in Kansas City
We got up on the roof of the coffee shop and had a cool view of the city.
Saturday afternoon we decided to go to the Cider Mill.
Sparkling cider and donuts made an awesome pre-homecoming snack
Homecoming was incredible. Quinn and I have a fun habit of attempting to ballroom dance to pop songs
Sunday afternoon we went to IKEA for dinner and adventuring
Throughout our adventures this weekend, one of my communication theories stuck out in my head. Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor’s Social Penetration Theory basically states that deeper intimacy and closer friendships with people can be achieved through a process of self-disclosure and vulnerability.
It explains personality like an onion where, to get to a person’s core, you need to get through layers of more shallow or obvious information. It encourages, to gain more meaningful and intimate relationships, voluntarily opening up to people with both depth and breadth. This basically means letting people know who you really are, what you really think, and letting them have this information for multiple areas of your life.
There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the key point.
When we first studied this theory (sorry Dr. Hamilton) I thought it seemed nice, but I doubted that simply telling deep and diverse stories would lead to close friendships. I thought personality, similarity, and spending time together would be bigger factors, however, when I was out with some of my friends this weekend I began to think about this theory a little bit more.
Our trip to the city brought out conversations of various Kansas City experiences and city experiences in general. When we got to the coffee shop and were walking around we got into a conversation about experiences with spiritual warfare and our vision for Kansas City as a church. This formed into a conversation about our personal strengths and weaknesses.
Our cider mill trip sparked conversation about fall and Halloween family traditions which led to talking about our families and fall traditions we miss now that we’re in college.
Going to IKEA led to conversation about our future plans and dreams.
These are some of my closest friends. Over the course of a single weekend we hit several topics of conversation and we have known each other long enough to be comfortable in talking about things we wouldn’t usually talk about with casual friendships. We were naturally participating in this communications theory without even realizing it, but now that I’ve learned about it I can use it to make other friends.
But self-disclosure involves vulnerability which is difficult to do. In order to grow in my boldness to share to and be open with potential close friends I have turned to the bible.
In 2 Corinthians 6:11 Paul writes “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.”
The Beginning of James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
So as I love and appreciate my friends, I realize that I can’t keep my spiritual life, struggles, visions, and dreams a secret from my friends. It’s in the Bible and in my Communications Text book so I should probably listen to it.
I’m the girl who runs around IKEA acting like a raptor from Jurassic Park…I need all the help making friends I can get.
Points I’m praying over.
I want to be willing to be real with my friends. If God is really the center of my life I want to be willing to talk about him and my relationship with him including struggles and visions. I want to be vulnerable to my friends so as to better the kingdom of God.
I want to be the kind of person that people feel comfortable opening up to without fear. As deep of information they want to give and about any subject they want to give it I want to be trustworthy enough in their eyes to be someone to have a close friendship with.
“God blesses you to become a blessing. When he gives you a gift, it is because he trusts you with it. He hopes you turn around and do something powerful with it.”
Throughout life God blesses us. These blessings are gifts. These gifts can be a wide variety of many things, from a challenge we have to overcome, learn from, start over, accept, appreciate, be thankful for, etc. He gives us these gifts to help make us into the person we are today. He would not bless us, if he was unsure we could handle them. A lot of us have dealt with some type of challenge or challenges, that we either had to overcome, learn from, start over, or accept. I know I have. This is why I am, who I am today. Does he still challenge me? Yes, I am not perfect . . . I am always changing and bettering myself to become the powerful blessing he created me to become.
Choosing a difficult major and a collegiate athlete, let alone, is a lot of time, effort, and hard work. Trying to juggle that, with a social life, family, and friendships, is a lot to take on! With last week and this week, there has been so much that has gone on. Since, I have arrived at MNU, I feel as though God has been challenging me. To see if I am capable of over coming the obstacles he has placed in front of me.
For those of you who haven’t started college, in college, or even out of college, we are already half way through the semester. God has thrown a lot at me, just in these last few weeks. This is about the time when students start getting sick (strep throat) and tired (late nights studying) because classes have started to pick up with exams, homework, projects, etc. Besides school life, to be a top athlete you always have to be preforming at your highest level every practice. Being so far away from home, students start to get home sick. Realizing you cannot talk to your friends every day or plan a get away weekend, just to relax. Students may start to feel overwhelmed and feel as though there is to much to do and not enough time, in the day, to do it all. This is what people experience in everyday life. A coach told me, “Life keeps going. It does not care about your feelings or what is going on in your life. Deal with life as it comes at you, and no matter what, you, keep going.”
What God has taught me to overcome from these last few weeks is how to time manage, stay disciplined with my life, and focus on what it is that I want to accomplish.
As we make our way through this hectic, fun, adventurous, stressful, tiring, vivacious, and energetic life . . . maybe, currently dealing with a challenge God has placed in front of you, know that you are not alone. Be thankful for the opportunities he has blessed us with. If it is rough, it too shall pass . . . and . . . if it is gratifying, enjoy every moment of it.
These lyrics are from a old song by TobyMac called Wonderin’. Lately, I’ve not only found myself listening to it constantly, but relating to the idea of wonderin. A point most of us find themselves in more often than we would like to admit.
As college students we come in knowing about the debts, homesickness, hard work, and the rest of the adversities that come with attending college. But we still do it, because we believe all of the hard work has purpose, and meaning. That purpose drives us on the hardest days of school. The days we crave for an easier lifestyle. A lifestyle where finances ins’t a constant struggle. A lifestyle where everything and everyone is demanding not a piece, but all of you at the same time. But our purpose drives us through all of those hard times.
I came into college knowing that fulfilling God’s will for my life was my purpose. I was going to deal with the financial dilemma, the challenging courses, the work load, the jobs. I was going to take all of it head on, because at the end of all of that I will have gotten an education that will equip me to serve God effectively.
The hardest day for a college student is the day they wake up, and forget their purpose in being here. Their attitude about classes, homework, work, tuition is all apathetic. They stop loving it. They stop being grateful for the opportunities. Every waking second is a second stress holds their mind captive. They find themselves not trying to fix new-born attitude, but they find themselves pondering the idea of quitting.
Recently, I have been reminded that though
I want to do this for God; I shouldn’t forget I can’t do this without him.
Without him classes are just classes and homework is just homework. Without him the college experience would be empty and dreadful one that I would be trying to survive. But college isn’t about surviving, but it’s about thriving and growing. God has reminded me that here at MidAmerica I’m learning how to serve and love a hurting world. I’m learning how to be an active christian.
God is more than my purpose; he is my strength. College is hard there is no doubt about it. The day will come where you’ll wonder if this degree is worth the chase. You’ll wonder if you’re wasting your time. I pray that you’d bring your wondrein mind to God. I hope you come to see that these are the years he’s equipping you, so one day you can be used as an instrument in restoring the brokenness in our world.
Friday night into Saturday morning was the Intro To Ministry class retreat, a trip designed to help beginning ministry students get to know each other and their professors better as well as learn new spiritual disciplines, how to “be real” with people, and the importance questioning mind-set. They threw in a gorgeous catholic retreat center and food because they love us and we got to meet and hang out with the professors who will be teaching us as we embark on our quests for a degree from the Department of Christian Education and Spiritual Formation.
It sounded really nice. I would have been happy if that was all God wanted me to learn over our short, less than 24 hour retreat. But I guess thinking I could slide through a ministry retreat unchanged was a tad foolish of me.
As always, I had managed to get myself in way over my head, pulling my brain in a hundred different directions right before I needed it to focus. Dr. Dunn asked the class to handle the introduction, worship, prayer, and devotional for the group on Saturday morning.
When he sent out an email requesting help I responded, in my first week of college optimism, that I would definitely have the time to write a meaningful and well thought through devotional that could potentially impact the lives of a class of future leaders of the Kingdom of God and thus could have eternal consequences, sure thing.
I was a good little student and got my devotional written more than a week before the retreat, had Dr. Dunn edit it for me and felt like I had completed my assignment when I boarded the people mover with some of my classmates on the way to our Catholic Retreat Center.
Friends who happened to share the van ride up
It was during all of the (absolutely incredible and I wish I could nerd rant about how cool they were) “get to know you” activities that I began to question my little ten minute devotional I had written. There was no heart in it, no real call to action. It was all facts and criticism. I was reminded about something Dr. Hayse said in Honors Seminar. I have to paraphrase him but it was basically that criticism is easy but offering a practical solution to the problem is hard.
As we moved into the night to play volleyball and board games I began to worry about it more and more. I wanted so badly to shine for ten minutes of informative Jesus glory but I knew my material was flat. I tried to talk myself out of caring, but it morphed into praying when St. John explained the spiritual discipline the group was going to be practicing that night.
He asked us to not say a word to one another or even talk out loud at all for the rest of the night and into the next morning. Silence shows reverence to God, respect. He also urged us to quiet our minds. I was utterly confused about that even being a human possibility. My mind runs a million miles an hour, I constantly have dozens of things on my mind at a time but as we walked into the dark chapel my thoughts slowly began to lessen.
Its difficult to describe exactly what happened. I encourage you to try it some time though I can never promise God will act the same way twice. After our allotted prayer time we were told that we could stay in the chapel and pray or read our bible. I situated myself in the very back and began to pray, then just let my mind be quiet. The next thing I knew God started bringing aspects of my life that I needed to give to him to mind. In order to keep my mind quiet I had to give each thing to him as he brought them to me until everything that I was worrying about was gone. I opened my eyes to find myself alone in this big beautiful building, the only lights shining were on the crucifix up front and on the alter.
It was 1:00 in the morning.
God never agrees with my time table.
It was at that point that I began to rewrite. I opened my notebook, wrote what was on my heart, then at almost 2am I was allowed to sleep.
I woke up without a care in the world. It was an experience I haven’t had since starting high school. 8:30am rolled around, my friends and professors came into the chapel. We read scripture, we worshiped, and I got up to the pew and got to tell people what God put on my heart.
I shared from Jeremiah 29. I am unable to tell you exactly what I said because I threw out my typed manuscript, but basically I talked about how Christians today aren’t all that different from God’s people historically. We have a pattern of being exiled in a foreign land and then called out again. In Jeremiah, God is talking to his people in exile in Babylon. Since we, members of God’s Kingdom, are living here on earth, we are (in essence) exiles as well and thus, I figured since God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, that his instructions to his people in exile in Babylon apply to us today.
God basically told them to settle down and work for Babylon, allow themselves to live life there, and called them to work and pray for their country of exile because their lives for the time being were bound up in that nation. However, God then warned about the false prophets and teachings of Babylon, telling his people not to be fooled by thinking their version of good was what God defined as good. He then gave his famous “for I know the plans I have for you” bit and promised to answer them when they called on him and to eventually lead them out of exile.
My devotional was about not allowing our standard for Christian behavior to be set by the culture, becoming comfortable and then being afraid of asking for God’s instructions because our God is one who cares much more about our character than he does about our comfort. I said that when we allow ourselves to use God’s standard to evaluate our lives we are no longer comfortable living as socially accepted Christians. I feel like we can be living in and working for our country of exile for so long that we begin to adopt their ideas as our own, and when we adopt these ideas God calls us to act contrary to them, and when God asks us to act contrary to them we have a crisis of faith, being unwilling to take the risk that God asked us to do. And when we don’t want to take the risk we stop asking God to give us instructions, and when we stop asking God to give us instructions God can grow quiet.
I don’t want to live in a world with a quiet God.
And so I called for two things.
That we would begin to develop a holy discontent for the amount of God’s presence we allow in our day to day lives. I want to be a part of God’s church that has the same revolutionary impact and supernatural power as the church in Acts, but I was convicted, realizing I wasn’t even praying for it.
That we would pray without fear of God messing up our lives. I had found myself avoiding prayer because I thought God would ask me to risk something, that he would make me uncomfortable. I have to stop questioning God’s attempts to make me uncomfortable and start questioning why I allowed myself to get comfortable in the first place.
Some people told me my devotional was really good. I was thankful for their compliments, but really I think it did me more good than it could have done anybody else. I loved it. I loved speaking about what I’m passionate about. I cannot believe the incredible opportunities MNU allows me to have. I got the opportunity to be completely scared out of my mind, learn to listen to the spirit, and get the practical experience of giving a devotional to a room full of professors and future ministers. In all technicality, this retreat was just one large class session. I got points for going, I think. But this was only one example of a time when the boundaries between class and “real life” went away and “school work” became God’s way of doing some “life work” on me.