Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I had the blessing and privilege of going on an InterVarsity retreat to Garden City (the beach!) South Carolina this past weekend. I'm going to try to do the weekend justice but I can't promise you'll completely understand the amazing experience I had.
It's funny, you go on a retreat expecting to learn a few things, maybe make a few friends, but what I never saw coming was a sense of community unlike any other.
Saturday night, especially, changed my life. Karen Gupton, IV Staff Leader at UNCG, talked about the healing of the paralytic. A quick synopsis of the story: Jesus was surrounded by people, so much so that four friends, who were carrying a fifth on a mat because he was paralyzed, could not access him, except by lowering their friend through the roof. Karen said to us, sometimes you have to let yourself be the friend who is lowered through the roof to Jesus, to be healed. And sometimes you get the privilege of carrying others to Jesus in their brokenness.
Then we broke into small groups of 15-20, (there were ninety of so people on the retreat) and we were also split up by gender. We then were encouraged to share things we were struggling with in life, whether it was a relationship, our Christian walk, school, family, or whatever. After one person would share, we would all lay hands on that person and pray for them as a group. What amazed me was the way that everyone was crying. Person A would share something she was struggling with and everyone, whether they were really close to Person A or had just met her, would be weeping for her, sharing in her pain. It was amazing the sense of community that we experienced that night. I have always had people in my life who loved and cared about me, but so often we get caught up in our own lives and our own worries, that we might not get further than "How's it going?" "Busy." "Me too." "Later." "Take Care." But Saturday night, my heart broke for my friends, my acquaintances, my sisters in Christ. My tears were for them. My sobs were because they were hurting and it hurt me to see them hurt. It was an amazing feeling, that I can hardly explain.
That's our group picture above.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Best Weekend EVER!

We left mid Friday afternoon, in various cars, not really caravaning, though. I was riding with Amanda #3, Ann and Kelcy. Kelcy and I were in the back, signing, singing, whatever. Ann and Amanda were in the front, Amanda driving, Ann giving directions. One thing they realized very quickly, though, is that I go to the bathroom a lot. A LOT. Anyone who has ever ridden in a car with me for any length of time can attest to this, and Ann, Amanda and Kelcy certainly can after this weekend.
We stopped at Burger King with Mary, Emily and Holly for dinner. Quick, but good. (I realized I haven't eaten Burger King in a LONG time...)
We finally arrived in Garden City, SC around 9pm. It was dark and a lot of the IV kids had already arrived and claimed beds. Kelcy, Amanda #2 and I claimed beds quickly after arriving. Amanda and I slept on neighboring bottom bunks, and Kelcy got the bed above mine.
Worship and our first talk started at 10pm. We sung and then Bobbi gave a quick talk. We broke into small groups...mine was John (C-H Alum), Slav (GCC), Rachel (UNCG), Lee (UNCG), and Brittney (UNCG).
After small group time, we broke off and headed out to play. Kelcy, Liz, Summer, Brandon, Amanda #2 and I played Encore for thirty minutes or so and then headed to our respective bunks to get ready for bed. At 1am sharp, Karen Gupton, IV Staff Leader at UNCG, came to each room and personally turned off the lights, but not before saying goodnight!

The next morning, breakfast was at 9am, followed by worship, another talk, devotional/quiet time, and then small group time. Then we ate lunch. After lunch we had free-time until 6pm. I slept and played Settlers of Catan (THE BEST GAME EVER!!!!) with Bobbi, Karen, Katie, David, and Kenny. I lost terribly, but it was really fun.

Dinner was at 6pm...this was an experience. We were told to eat with our small groups...and what Karen meant by that is...We're going to give y'all yarn and you have to tie your wrists together, so that you are basically in a circle...each person tied to two other people, one on each wrist. And then you had to try to eat. It wasn't too hard until people in my group, myself included, needed more drink or more food, which meant that our circle had to move through the dining hall, to the counter and serve the food or pour drinks...try doing that, while holding the cup or plate, with your wrists tied together.

Then we had worship and another talk, this one given by Karen. She talked about Christian community. And then I experienced on of the most amazing examples of Christian community ever...we broke off into groups of all girls or all boys, groups of maybe 15-20 (there were probably 90 students on this retreat). Then people talked about what they struggled with-- be it a relationship that they couldn't get out of, a friend who was going wild in college, or something like that-- and after one person said something, we would pray as a group for that person. What amazed me more than that was the fact that everyone was crying for everyone else. Everyone's heart was breaking for someone else. People who had just met were moved to tears at the pain of their new friends. People who had known each other a week or two were weeping with each other, because the pain was shared...not that everyone understod what each person had been through, but pain is universal and the fact that we can share with each other, cry with each other, shoulder the burden with each other, opened my eyes to a real kind of Christian community. It wasn't about forming a deep, long relationship and then opening up. It was about being willing to be vulnerable and allow others to love on you and care about you and cry with you. It was truly amazing. The experience is something that I can try to describe but that must truly be lived through to fully grasp how powerful, amazing and moving it is.

Then we played more games and ate ice cream. More Settlers of Catan!!! We had breakfast, one last talk, worship and small groups the next morning before cleaning, taking a group photo, and partaking in a tradition before we left...I cannot accurately describe the tradition, but it was more/less a participatory song that you run around and dance crazily during.

Then we drove back. And life resumed, but I am changed...so maybe life is only continuing, and there is no resuming, just a continuation with a newness inside of me that I can share with others now.

Photos to come, I promise!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

On Being Alive

So I was having a conversation with someone online and it really made me think... here's a snippet...

Them: What did you do today?
Me: classes, nap, small group
Me: Nothing exciting
Them: what qualifies as exciting these days?
Me: hmmm...i don't know.
Them: isn't being alive excting enough?

And I realized, with the sky a brilliant blue and the leaves just beginning their yearly color change, and the air a crisp but not cold wind-blown feel, that it is enough. It is enough. There's a song I really like, a country song nonetheless, that I'll post some of the lyrics from:
It's a great day to be alive,
I know the sun's still shinin' when I close my eyes.
There's some hard times in the neighborhood,
But why can't every day be just this good?

I think that regardless of the troubles we see every day, or the hardships we experience, each day is what we make of it. If it's a gorgeous day, great. If it rains, that's okay too. The laughter, the fun, the small successes, the budding friendships, the hope, the love, the ocassional decent food in the cafeteria, and we realize that the small things make life exciting, vibrant and wonderful.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Quick Update

So I started tutoring at an elementary school this week. We work with more than fifty kids and help with homework, play games and eat snacks. Then they get driven home. I had K-2 this week, which is the current age group I'd like to work with for a career. I absolutely fell in love with the kids and it really confirmed my belief that my major change was the right move.

I'm heading to the Garden City, S.C. on Friday with InterVarsity for a retreat. I am very excited because it will be a wonderful opportunity to fellowship, grow and take a break from college life to truly basque in God's love. I'll try to post the pictures from the retreat after we get back.

In a little over two weeks, I have fall break! So from October 6-1o, I'll be at home. There'll be tons to do though. I will head back to the high school to visit, get my hair cut, have a yard sale, go shopping, and rest. Hopefully, I will also get to hang out with friends and have some quality time with family, because I miss everyone so much when I'm here.

I lead a class discussion tomorrow on a book (Waiting for the Barbarians) in my Human Rights class. Next Wednesday I have to make a class presentation (in Spanish) on Chile in my Spanish class. VERY NERVOUS.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Major

So, I'm changing my major. Actually, I haven't declared a major yet (you do that second semester of sophomore year...), so I guess the correct phrase is: I'm changing my mind. I'm not sure that I'm meant to teach high-school history...Don't get me wrong, I love history. I've always known that I wanted to teach, at least for a few years, but it was just a matter of what grade, and what subject. Somewhere in highschool I decided to be a history teacher because my history teachers were the ones who taught me to love history and made me passionate about it. (Or maybe I was always passionate, and they just opened me up enough to discover that about myself). Their passion, certainly, was contagious. I can actually say that about most, if not all, of my teachers in high school, regardless of subject. And there was something about the history classes and the teachers that made me want to go to class, made me want to do my homework, made me want to learn more, read more. And maybe I'm a dork, or maybe there really was something unique about their classes. I'm pretty sure which one it was, but regardless of which you believe, I decided I wanted to teach history. I decided that if you're passoinate about a subject and you're enthusiastic, you ought to at least teach for a few years.

But I also realized that I was doing this on the assumption that I could teach at MY high school. I wanted to be in the environment where it was expected that students wanted to be there, where citizenship and a rigorous academic curriculum were the norms. Any old high school, I realized the other night in the shower, simply wouldn't do. And I can't build my life on "Assuming this happens..." or "I'll do ____ if _____." And I certainly am not going to spend four years of my education assuming I'll get my first choice in teaching environments.

So that is to say, that I know for a fact that I love younger kids, know that I can impact their lives, and interrupt a cycle of a failing system before it's too late...So, I have decided to switch to Elementary Education (with possible concentrations in: Spanish, Psychology, Dance or History.) Nothing is of course set in stone; it hasn't been ever, because you can't declare a major yet. But I'm feeling more and more comfortable with this "decision." I woke up this morning feeling different, like I wasn't reaching for something that might or might not happen. So, that's the long way of saying that I went from a History major with a license in social studies education (and a minor in Spanish), to an Elementary Education major with an undecided concentration and still possibly a minor.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It Rains...A LOT

There's something about Greensboro that makes me want to rename it-- Grayboro or Rainyboro or something of the sort. Seems every day it's rained, drizzled, poured or just been overcast. It's kinda depressing actually, though I was excited today when my rainboots got shipped in. Now, I don't go to class with pants that are soaked from the cuffs to my knees. So I kinda clunk around school in these boots, looking like a Jedi Knight, with my brown pants tucked into the boots. But I stay dry-- between my parka without a hood, my LA ball cap, my umbrella (which is rainbow and makes me happy!) and my new boots, I'm all set for the 3/4 mile trek three or more times a day to and from class and to the cafeteria.

I'm reading this really good book called Kite Runner for class. I HIGHLY recommend it.

That's about all to report in Rain-land. I do have a new addiction--- applesauce. I've gone through phases the last few years where I get super addicted to applesauce for a while, and I'm back in that phase again!!!

I finished two papers this week-- one on my theory of the university education and the other on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm glad to have them finished. I have to presentations to worry about now-- one on Chile and one on a book the class is reading, that I must lead a discussion for. BOO. Actually, I've read the book before, so I'm not too worried about that. My presentation on Chile, however, has to be in Spanish so I'm a little worried about how that'll go. But I'll stress about that later. For now, Today's worries are enough for today.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:34

Saturday, September 09, 2006

All I Need to Know About Life I Learned At College

1. Showering at any time night or day is perfectly acceptable, no questions asked.
2. There is always something going on on-campus, even if you wish it wasn't that.
3. Just because you think you are entitled to have a life outside of school-work doesn't mean your professors agree.
4. Facebook, cell phones and IM are essentially vital to having any sort of social life.
5. The food in the cafeteria is what you make of it, but stay away from the vegetables at all costs.
6. Having a pet fish in your room does NOT mean you will stop missing your dogs and cats at home.
7. You only need to wait fifteen minutes after the start-time of a class for the professor to show up. Then you can leave.
8. Follow the older kids on campus when they cross the street. They know when it's okay and when it's not. Besides, if there are a handful of you walking, chances are the cars aren't going to run you over.
9. Playing Settlers of Kahtan until 1am on Friday nights is like the best use of time, ever.
10. A 95 on a paper is O.K. It's nothing to stress over.
11. Sleep whenever possible.
12. Use your time wisely. Got five minutes until your next class and you can't fit a powernap in? Good, do some reading or some homework.
13. Don't use shorthand in your notes unless you're sure you'll still know what it means in two days.
14. Take laundry home when you go.

yep. I love college.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Wonderful Weekend

I went home this weekend for Labor Day...I never imagined it'd be so hard to come back. Don't get me wrong, I love Greensboro, but I just had a really, really awesome time at home.

Friday I wasn't feeling well, but Mom and I had time to just hang around the house.
Saturday we got up and had lunch with one of mom's friends and then went to see her other friend's new baby (now officially 7 days old!!) She's absolutely precious.

Then Mom and I went shopping, which was fun quality time, even though I don't think we ended up buying anything. Haha.

Sunday I got to go to church and see a lot of my friends!!! And Sunday night I got to go to Raleighwood with Ben to see The DaVinci Code. I'd already seen it, but I did pick up on a lot more this time. That was fun too...to hang out with Ben and go to a movie.
Today, on my way back to Greensboro, I picked my sister up at my dad's house and we went and had Chinese together. We've never spent much quality time together, but today was wonderful. I cried after I dropped her off. She's growing up...and changing and I'm not around to see it, which breaks my heart. But it certainly makes me a lot more grateful for the times I do get to see her...(even if she is planning to turn my ENTIRE room into a home theater...grrrrr.)