Tag Archives: Friendship

Major Life Update 

I’ve always been a stubborn person with a “fight through it” attitude and a strong intention to follow through with everything I commit to. I remember when I was little, my parents would put a baby gate in front of the staircase. And I, being the stubborn and determined child I was, would promptly push it out of the way and climb up the stairs. Then, I would sit at the top whining because I couldn’t get down. I’d wait for someone to come get me, and then proceed to do it again, all the while knowing I couldn’t get down by myself, but totally not caring because I just wanted to prove I could get up the stairs. And I was too stubborn to stop crawling up them just because I couldn’t get down them.

My life has been a lot like this. I’ve climbed mountains, gotten to the top, realized that I probably shouldn’t have climbed the mountain, but had no idea how to get down. Except now that I’m older, I’m too stubborn to ask for help getting down. Because if I climbed the mountain alone, I should be able to get down it alone. But sometimes, I know the way down, I just need someone to give me a little push. And recently, I was given a push down my newest mountain.

When I began this semester, I was signed up for 18 class credits, two of which were sciences, and one of which included Organic Chemistry, arguably the most difficult of all the sciences. And, somewhere along the way, I ended up committing to between 12 and 18 hours of work a week. Plus, I coach Bible Quizzing and agreed to be an assistant teacher in the 7th grade girls Sunday School class at my church. And of course, I have various clubs, social activities, chapel requirements, etc, that I must attend to as a college student. (A post about that can be read here.)

This has always been my mountain in life– my desire to do it all. I so badly want to do everything. I want to get a degree in Chemistry, coach Quizzing, work, teach Sunday School, participate in clubs, volunteer around campus, help my friends out, and sleep. But guys, the biggest thing I’m learning in life, is that I just can’t do it all. I have to say no to good things because I need to leave myself free time for the best things. But, because I’m stubborn, I decided to give this 18 credit hours piled on top of 16 hours of work mixed with hours of everything else thing a chance.

It wasn’t terrible for a while. I managed to get most of my work done and still get mostly enough sleep. But, I can only survive on 5 or less hours of sleep a night for so long before I crack. The more I got into the semester, the more miserable I got. I was sitting in the lounge of my dorm one night, alternating between my physics and organic homework, and I was miserable. Really miserable. I had never felt this miserable, and I didn’t even think I ever could feel this miserable doing something I loved. Days later, I cracked. I called my dad at 12:15 in the morning in tears. “I’m dropping out of college, just to let you know,” I said, tears streaming down my face. My dad listened, despite the fact that he himself was exhausted, and he provided support and fatherly love. After he told me not to be ridiculous for trying to drop out of college.

The internal conflict I had been having for a while mixed with all the stress finally built up to an unbearable amount. After some of my gen ed classes last semester, I discovered I had a passion for God’s Word greater than the one I already knew I had, and I knew God was calling me to do something about it. But, I wasn’t going to change my major because I still loved chemistry so much. So, I did what I thought would satisfy the passion I had and the desire I could feel God calling me to: I added a Biblical studies minor. As a result, I added an extra class, bringing me to 18 credits a semester.

And I said, “it’s fine,” everyday, while trying to convince myself it was, in fact, fine. But, in case you haven’t figured out by now, it most certainly was not fine. Which is why I called my dad in tears and told him I was dropping out of college.

One terrible day and dinner visit home later, and I felt so much better. I felt peaceful, like the largest weight in the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Which brings me to the purpose of this post– my major life update. This update is actually two-fold. First, I decided I had to give something up. I can’t do it all, as much as I want to. As much as I love it all and struggle to say no to things, especially things I’ve already committed to, something had to give.

I was talking to my parents about what could go. My dad said, “were you anyone else, I’d tell you to drop Sunday School or Quizzing…”

“NO!” I exclaimed, before he was even able to finish his thought.

He explained how he would have told me to give those up, but he can’t because I have to do those things. I belong there, I’m doing good things, God’s working through me, etc. So, I couldn’t give up on those. And my work schedule had already begun to decrease, and it would continue to decrease. Nonetheless, something else had to go. Which left a class. But here’s the thing– I didn’t want to give one of those up either. Because, first of all, why should my academics be the thing that gets pushed aside? And secondly, dropping a class at this point in the semester seemed useless. Plus, I’d always been a “smart” kid, and dropping a class kind of made me feel like I was a failure. (But guys, dropping a class does not make you a failure. You do what is necessary for your sanity.)

I finally came to the realization that the best way to solve my problem would be to drop Physics. Here’s the thing– Physics is not that difficult of a class. In fact, it may be the easiest of the sciences I’ll ever have to take. But, I don’t have time to put into it, and I was already behind and struggling, and my other classes, particularly Organic, were suffering because of it. So, I set up a meeting with my adviser to get his approval and dropped Physics.

Which leads me to part two of my major life update. While discussing my life with my parents, they asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I froze and realized I have no idea. My friend asked me the other day what I saw myself doing in the future, and I didn’t know how to respond then either. My parents brought up the fact that I like to do it all. I enjoy a lot of things. I love science, math, English, Scripture, history, and most of all, learning. My dad said “I could see you doing a lot of things. I could see you working a job, or being a Pastor (as if being a Pastor isn’t a job).” And the more I thought about it, the more I realized, there are so many things in life I could be happy doing. I’d be happy working in a lab, working at a church, travelling the world doing who knows what, or even teaching. And, to be quite honest, I’m not entirely sure that I’ll know what I want to do until I am doing it.

So, here’s the exciting part of my news– I’m seriously, seriously, considering changing my major. In fact, I’ve done everything but fill out the official paperwork. I’ve told my parents (well, actually, they told me), I’ve told my friends, I’ve mentioned it to my adviser, and now, I’m telling all of you.

Some of you will be disappointed to hear that I’m switching from Chemistry. Because those of you who’ve known me a long time know I love Chemistry. Others will be disappointed to find out that I am not switching to Biblical Studies. Because anyone who’s seen me at Quizzing or talked to me in the past year would know that I have a burning passion for that too. But, instead, I’m still trying to do it all. I’m switching to Cross Disciplinary studies.

I have not yet decided exactly what 3 areas I’ll be exploring. My main area will either be Chemistry or General Science (probably whichever one I’m closer to completing at this point), with one of my other concentrations being Biblical Studies. As far as the third area goes, I’m torn between math and English. Being my sister’s sister and grandfather’s granddaughter, I love English (and math). I love writing and reading various types of literature, but I am also only one class away from completing math (in fact, if I continued with my Chemistry degree, than I could easily get a math minor with one simple 300-level math class).

So, basically, I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea what I”m doing with my degree, or my life. But, it’s fine. And I mean it this time, because I’ve got God on my team, and God, being my homeboy and all, knows exactly what He’s doing.

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Library Encouters 

God does some incredibly strange and wonderful things, doesn’t He?

I wasn’t going to go to the library last night. I was in my room, softly playing my music, relaxing, and about to open my physics homework to take one more look before I called it a night. Being a person who normally doesn’t do homework in her room but instead goes to the library or finds an empty classroom on campus, it was weird that I was okay with staying in my room. But, the laziness, non-desire to deal with people, and the always overwhelming temptation to buy another cup of coffee I probably don’t need, made me want to stay. Until something inside me said, “go to the library. You have to do your work there.”

So, I packed up my backpack, made the 30 foot trek to the library, found a nice spot in the cafe (with the scent of coffee overwhelming me– which I didn’t give in to), and got to work. I was somewhere mid-physics problem when I ran into my friend Adam, with whom I have a 60/40 being mean/ being nice relationship, and we briefly talked about our lives and our work after quipping about how annoyed we were to see the other one in the often frequented library. I thought “was this the reason I came all the way over here? So I could hear Adam talk about his struggles of work and school and so I could tell him my brief anecdote about my grandfather going to seminary with Victor P Hamilton, the author of my Pentateuch textbook?” That seemed a little weird, because I could hear his struggles (and insert a sassy comment intermixed with encouragement) anytime, and a quick scroll through Facebook and he would have seen my grandfather anecdote. So, I continued working on my Physics homework, still not sure why I was there.

Then, I remembered I had to print my Calc weekly and my Pentateuch assignment. Was this the reason I felt a desire to come all the way out here? So I wouldn’t have to rush before class to print the assignment? Probably not. There’s printers in the building across from my dorm, I have an hour and a half free before that class, I have a whole week to do the Calc weekly, and since I won’t have time to do it until at least Wednesday, I was in no rush to print it. But, I printed them anyway and got back to work.

At this point, I wasn’t making a lot of progress on my physics, so I gave up and switched to reading a commentary on Genesis 2 for my Pentateuch class (the aforementioned textbook whose author went to seminary with my grandfather). Then, a freshman who I don’t really know and have talked to maybe once came in and asked politely if she could sit with me. I told her “of course!” and went back to reading. I glanced up at one point throughout my reading and asked her what her major was and how she’d been enjoying her first year. She eventually left, and I again wondered if that was why I had felt such desire to go to the library– to give this girl some company as she worked on her stressful autobiography assignment for her First Year Seminar class. I didn’t really think so, but, since it wasn’t quite 10:00, and I hadn’t yet finished my physics, I decided I’d wait a little longer and get a little more work done.

I finished my physics assignment and was reading Genesis 3 in preparation for class the next day when a classmate said, “Hey, Rebekah, do you have your physics notes from Friday on you?” Since she was absent that day and hadn’t gotten the notes yet, I gave them to her willingly so she could finish the assignment I myself had just finished moments before. Unfortunately, I had about 10 verses left in Genesis 3 to read and I was thinking about leaving when I was done. Not wanting to leave without my notes, however, I decided I’d have to wait until she was finished with them, and then I could leave. So, I finished my assignments, and contemplated getting a little ahead while I had the time.

And then God, because He sometimes likes to ruin your own plans and throw off any feeling you have of being ahead on work, did exactly that. That classmate who had borrowed my notes approached me again and said, “Hey, do you think you could help my friend with her New Testament homework?” At this point, I kind of felt like I wanted to go back and sleep or get ahead on my work, but, being a Biblical Studies minor, lover of learning, and person who’s passionate about God’s Word, I agreed.

As I gathered my stuff to go over to the other side of the room where they were sitting, my classmate reassured her friend, “Don’t worry. She’s an expert at this.” I reassured them that I was not, in fact, an expert, and was, in fact, the furthest thing from one, but I was reasonably knowledgeable and super passionate, and now is as good a time as any to find out how much I actually understand  and enjoy my minor.

I sat down and looked at her assignment. It wasn’t too difficult; it was just long and, quite honestly, should have been split into at least 2 assignments. (The work equated to reading all 4 gospels, comparing their introductions, talking about their connections to specific passages in the Old Testament, finding all the times Jesus mentions the Kingdom of God and explaining their meanings, and comparing the death and resurrection stories of each of the 4 gospels. There were 9 questions, each of which would require at least a paragraph or more of explanation.)

The first question instructed her to read the opening chapters of each book and compare writing styles, characteristics, and stories. I had done the exact same assignment last semester, so I figured it would be pretty painless. I asked her, “Ok, do you have your Bible?”
“It’s in my room”
“That’s alright, we can use mine.”
“You have yours’ with you?”
“Absolutely. I always do.” (Something that should be known about me: there are two things I always have in my backpack– a journal and my Bible. Because I never know when I’ll need to write something down or look something up. And, although I have the Bible app on my phone, nothing is better than seeing the Word printed on a page and being able to hold it in my hand).

I handed it to her and asked her to turn to Matthew.
“I don’t know where that is,” she replied, almost timidly, like she was worried that I would judge her or God would smite her.

I showed her how to find it, and I told her about the Bible app she could download on her phone if she wanted. “Cool!” she exclaimed, “I did not know you could do that.”

Admittedly, as I was waiting for her app to download, I looked at my watch and thought, “Oh man, I should have left earlier. How can I help her with her New Testament homework if she has no idea what it even is?” I wondered how someone’s knowledge could be so limited that it literally doesn’t even exist. Even growing up in a public high school, all my non Christian classmates had at least some knowledge of the Bible, what it was,, how it functioned, and how it was structured.

But, I figured now is as good a time as any to test out both my knowledge and my passion, so, I pressed on. As the app was downloading, I flipped to one of the gospels in my Bible, opened another on my phone, and then instructed her to find one of the others on her phone. I gave her a brief run down, for context, of what the purpose of the gospels is, then, I had her read the stories. As she was reading, I chatted with my physics classmate, and helped her with some of her work, familiarized myself with the rest of the NT assignment, and thought about how I could explain these amazing stories to someone with no knowledge. I thought about how I could start at square one– how could I answer these questions without spending hours explaining things that I grew up learning, that are so ingrained in me they’ve become second nature. I wondered how I could explain things that I myself had learned in the past year, but that excite me as if I’d studied them my whole life. I thought about how the only thing this girl had were the Words in front of her, my limited knowledge, and my passion.

She finished reading and began summarizing. I gave her a brief lesson about distinguishing chapters and verses, and she began writing. She then asked me to summarize Luke for her. She was confused about John the Baptist and Jesus and wasn’t sure who was who, who did what, and why John was important. I summarized it for her, and added a few fun facts of my own, and waited for her to write it all down. Then, I watched as she read and interpreted John. I was slightly shocked she understood John so well. I mean, John is my personal favorite gospel writer (although, Matthew’s pretty good too…), but he can sometimes be a super cryptic and difficult to understand writer, especially if you have no background or context whatsoever. Then, I discovered she was a communication major, and maybe that’s why she appreciated John so much. I briefly went a little off topic and talked about my love for John.

To make a long story short, I walked her through all the aspects of her assignment, added a few of my own fun facts and historical context comments in there for comprehension purposes. I tried to answer the questions her professor posed about connections to the Old Testament as much as possible without overwhelming her or making it super obvious that my Old Testament knowledge pales in comparison to my New Testament knowledge. I summarized the gospels, hit on the unique details of each gospel writers’ death and crucifixion stories, and basically summarized N.T Wright’s novel Simply Jesus. (If you haven’t read it– why? What are you waiting for. It’s amazing. Shout out to my NT professor for making us read that.)

By the end, I figured she would be a little overwhelmed. So, I let her read and answer the last question on her own (since it was mostly an opinion question anyway), and began to pack up my stuff. At this point, it had been over an hour, it was almost midnight, and any hope I had of getting ahead on homework had passed. But, I waited to see if she had any questions for me or anything she wanted to talk about. I wasn’t sure if what I had said made sense, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t confuse the poor girl more than necessary.

When she finished writing she said, “That was great! I’m sorry I kept you away from your work, but I did enjoy that.”
“It was my pleasure, I enjoyed it too. Like I said, I’m a Biblical studies minor, so I’m always down for talking Scripture.”

As I was preparing to go she asked me, “Where’d you get your Bible? Yours’ is so much easier to understand than mine.” So, of course this led to a brief discussion about Biblical translations and which versions I prefer and which ones Biblical scholars agree are good. Then, she asked if we could exchange phone numbers.

“It’s so great that [physics classmate] just found you! I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee sometime and do this again. And, I will probably need your help again.”

I gave her my number, I wished her luck on the rest of her assignments, and I left. But, I didn’t stop thinking about it.

Walking back to my dorm, in the rain, I was smiling. Not because I had just dropped some knowledge bombs on someone, or that I had just spent an hour and a half of my life doing something far more important than Calculus homework, or that I had a chance to see if I really have chosen the right path in life, but I was smiling because I was hopeful, joy-filled, and warm.

I felt hopeful that something I said may have sparked an interest in her. Maybe it was something I said about Christ’s purpose, maybe it was the joke I made about how I was that kid in Old and New Testament who would say “this is my favorite book!” before every book we studied. I realized that she came to Roberts for very different reasons than I did. I wanted a place where I would be challenged in my faith and pushed to grow, and she wanted the scholarship money she was offered because of volleyball. But, I was joy-filled that, even if that class was required, she had taken the time to sit, listen, and talk about it with me instead of running and dropping the class at the first sign of struggle. And I had a strange feeling of warmth, that I am still not sure how to describe. My whole heart was happy, like for a minute it forgot the brain controlled happiness because it took it all for itself, and it still hasn’t let go.

And, I couldn’t stop thinking about this encounter. As evidenced by the fact that I had promised I’d be in bed by 10 last night, and it is now 1:45 the next morning, and I am still awake writing this post, this encounter meant a lot to me.

I’m not sure where this girl will go with everything I told her tonight. I certainly hope she texts me and asks me for help again, and I hope that something I said resonated with her. But, I don’t know. I do know that I am left now with more reassurance, more confidence, and more doubt.

I”m left with reassurance that I have a knowledge of the Scriptures and a passion and desire to learn more about them and learn more from them. I am left with more confidence that I am somewhere on the right path for my life and that pursuing more, deeper studies into this is something I need to be doing and one thing I love to do. But, I am also left with more doubt about whether or not I have chosen the path in life that I actually want to take. Now, to be fair, I have a “I should change my major” crisis about once every week or two, but this time, something’s different. I”m left with a lot of questions, few answers, too many feelings, and not enough words to describe it all. But, I’ll leave it at this: God does some wonderfully strange and amazing things. And I am so glad He sent me to the library tonight, and didn’t allow me to leave, despite all the times I wanted to.

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Finding The Love of my Life

This is not another post about how being a Quizzer impacted my life, (or at least not exactly). However, if you would like to read some of those posts, (and/or posts about my Kenya trip and its impact on my life) those can be found here. This is a reflection on my first year not being a Quizzer. Because it was more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.

Honestly, I was a bit doubtful about coaching after I graduated, but I had promised the Quizzers– two in particular– that I would come back and help them get to the next level. The more I thought about it, however, the more I thought I couldn’t do it. How could I help these Quizzers compete well and reach their dreams of winning the Alpha and Omega when I couldn’t even do it myself? I mean, my study strategies included memorizing all 4 chapters the night before a tournament and not prejumping questions because, quite honestly, I was terrified of taking chances. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was a good Quizzer. I may have even been great– I was consistently top 15 in the nation for my division all 7 years I quizzed– but, I was never an Alpha and Omega winner or a national individual finalist, and give these kids a year or two and they could easily out Quiz me.  So, I doubted that I’d ever be able to help them reach their goals. And, I didn’t think I’d make a good Quizmaster. I thought I’d be too harsh, or too nice, or that I wouldn’t be comfortable enough or confident enough in myself to do a good job. I didn’t think I’d be an effective, or even a good, Quizmaster. I wasn’t sure where my place in this family I had found 7 years ago would be, and I was terrified I wouldn’t have one. But, I never imagined I’d feel even more at home as a Quizmaster and coach than I did as a Quizzer.

The things I love the most about Quizmastering and coaching are the same ones I loved as a Quizzer, but they are so much more beautiful viewing them from the other side of the table. I love watching the joy on the Quizzers’ faces when they win a Quiz. The excitement mixed with disbelief when they answer a question correctly for the first time or quiz out for the first, or even the 50th, time. When they’re excited, my heart is filled with joy. When they’re sad, I break inside. And, as much as I love my church and our Quizzers, I view every single Quizzer I have ever Quizmastered or coached as my Quizzer. My friend. My little brother and sister. And I love them all so much. My heart fills with love and joy when I see them come into my room excited and smiling. “Hi, fun Quizmaster!” they say with bright smiles, as they reach for a piece of candy, a high five, or a hug. The sadness on their faces when they find out I won’t be Quizmastering them that day, or when they realize they won’t be in my division the next year, breaks my heart. I love being able to watch them grow up over the years, and even over the course of a year.  I am so incredibly proud of them– every time they answer a question, get a prejump, win an award, or have a fun time. When New Hope won the Alpha and Omega, I felt that I had won it myself. When other Genesis Conference Quizzers succeeded in finals, or their teams won, I was beyond joyful. When the Pearce teams did well, I felt their joy and their heartbreak in their losses. And, when the ones I’ve Quizmastered all year, or even all week, accomplished something, I couldn’t wait to give them a high five and tell them how proud of them I was, even after they eliminated Pearce from the tournament. And I am filled with joy because I know that they are committing themselves to learning the Word, and they will become servants of God, thoroughly equipped for every good work. And that is what Quizzing is really all about.

That’s why I continue to help with Quizzing and can’t imagine walking away. It’s watching the Quizzers discover who they are. It’s giving back to a ministry that has given me so much– a ministry that has impacted, and in some cases even saved, so many lives. It’s watching these incredible young people learn and memorize the Word, knowing that will lead them to amazing places. It’s hanging out with them and writing ridiculous stories that make no sense, three words at a time. It’s reading the longest joke in the world every time we go on a long road trip. It’s listening to the testimony of a shy, quiet young rookie who said she was so glad her mom made her do Quizzing because she was so excited and impacted by it. It’s hugging the young Quizzer who’s sitting behind you, whom you’ve coached, Quizmastered, and quizzed with, when he breaks down in tears. It’s kneeling at the altar with your teammates, friends, and Quizzers. Hugging them all as you leave. Talking to a Quizzer who knows your name and your story, even if you didn’t think anyone knew who you were or remembered your story. Finding a group of girls, from all different churches, praying for each other, and going over to pray with and for them, as a coach, Quizmaster, former fellow Quizzer, and most importantly a friend. Feeling incredibly honored when young Quizzers ask for your autograph and do a cool handshake with you. Offering the Quizzers a high five, a “great try,” and a piece of candy. It’s about finding your best friends, who live next door, or who live hundreds of miles away– whether they’re 12, 22, or 52.  It’s about igniting a passion for God and His Word that you didn’t even know you were capable of having.

It wasn’t until I went to Kenya and experienced Quizzing there that I realized just how important Quizzing really is. It wasn’t until the charge given to us at the coaches’ meeting to expand Quizzing to our neighboring churches, whether Free Methodist or not, and I almost stood up and said “Send me anywhere and everywhere. I’ll do it.” that I realized how huge my passion was. And, now, here I am, hoping to spread that passion to others. In fact, I am seriously considering and praying about going back to Kenya next summer, and all your prayers for me in this process would be greatly appreciated too. But, honestly, I’m just hoping to spread my passion to anyone who’s willing to catch it.

And that is what I have learned the most this year about being a Quizmaster and coach. I may have been terrified of messing up, I may not have been confident enough in my abilities, I may have thought I wouldn’t be good enough, or I may have thought I’m too much of an introvert to be a good Quizmaster. But, I have learned that anyone can be a good Quizmaster. Anyone can read questions in a loud, clear voice, look up the passages in the portion, and make a wise and fair decision about whether or not an answer is correct and worthy of 2o points. Anyone can know the rules– when to re-read, when to throw the question out, and how to handle appeals. Anyone can say “that’s correct,” or, “I’m sorry I cannot accept that.” But, not everyone is an effective Quizmaster. Not everyone can make the Quizzers feel comfortable. Not everyone can make Quizzing fun, keep the quizzes moving, be encouraging, and take control but also not be intimidating. And that’s what makes an effective Quizmaster. I don’t know if I am an effective Quizmaster or not– I’d like to think I am. I mean, I’ve been told I’m the fun Quizmaster. Coaches and Quizzers have told me that I have done a good job and have made Quizzing fun. The top Quizmaster for Senior Teen Vet A, and the former question writer, has told me that her kids enjoyed my Quizmastering. So, maybe that’s evidence enough to prove I’m both good and effective. I don’t know. But, what I do know is that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Because maybe it’s the candy. Or maybe it’s the fact that I have an uncontainable passion for Quizzing and a seemingly mundane yet incredibly inspirational and impactful Quizzing testimony which puts me in a unique position to share and encourage. Maybe it’s my constant attempts to make all the Quizzers feel encouraged and loved by my “good tries, ” “nice jobs,” candy, and high fives. I don’t know. But, I know that I love it so much that my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest. I love it more than I loved it when I was competing. Which I never thought was possible. 

I received a message from a parent and coach earlier today. She wanted to thank me for giving up my time this past week to be at Nationals (which, to be fair, is the furthest thing from a sacrifice– there is no better way to spend my time) and for talking to her team and expressing interest in them– especially her daughter, who had never had that before. She was excited and happy that I had shown interest in her. As I read the message, my heart broke a little. I hadn’t done anything special. I simply talked to her, offered her high fives, and made sure I acknowledged her, even when she wasn’t in my room. And to think that made her happy filled me with joy, but it also made me a little sad to think no other Quizmaster or person had done that before. But, it reminded me that, just like how in Quizzing there is more than winning, in Quizmastering there is more than just asking questions and keeping the rounds running smoothly and timely. There’s encouraging, high fiving, loving, and laughing. And again, I don’t know if this makes me an effective Quizmaster, but I know I impacted at least one life, even if it was just in a small way, and that is why I do what I do.

Quizzing has taken me to Kenya. It has taken me, and three of my friends, to local churches in order to put on a skills clinic for other Quizzers. It has taken me to four different and beautiful places for Nationals. It’s taken me to different churches and led me to volunteer at two different church’s practices. It has taken me across oceans, under bridges, over highways, and into people’s hearts. It’s led me to go on a missions’ trip, help plan service projects, and help start a fund for growing international Bible Quizzing. But, it’s also led me to learn more about myself and about God. I learn more about my passions, my gifts, my talents, and most importantly, God and His Word. And I could go on for hours about the impact it’s had on me in my own life, both as a Quizzer and as a Quizmaster, but until you experience it yourself, you won’t understand. You won’t understand my passion or my love. So, if you have no idea what Quizzing is, go out and discover it. If you have experienced it, go out and share your passion, your light, your joy, and your love for it and for God. Because if it were up to me, every person in the world would have the chance, and the desire, to experience Quizzing.

I never thought I could love something so much it physically hurts. Yet, I constantly feel a pain inside me when I’m Quizzing or when I’m talking about it. But, it’s not from sadness. It’s from unimaginable, inexpressible joy and love and passion. It’s from a desire to encourage every teen to try it, every adult to watch it, and every person to fall in love with it. I never thought I could love something so much that I’d rather die than be separated from it. Because making me give it up would be like ripping my heart out of my chest. In fact, that would probably hurt less. Because I love Quizzing more than anything, and I don’t think I will ever love any person, place, or thing more.*

*obviously this excludes the One who makes Quizzing possible and who gave me the ability and opportunity to participate, and who is the reason I Quiz. 

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Love Struck? Or, Love’s Truck?

Life is a journey. It’s like a road. There are twists and turns, ups and downs, and smooth patches and potholes. And sometimes, you’re standing on the road, happy, energetic, ready to run to the finish. But, sometimes, you’re standing on the road dejected, beaten down, unable to take another step in any direction. Sometimes, a truck hits you out of nowhere. Or, maybe not out of nowhere.

You see, despite my visual impairment, I saw the truck coming. It was coming at me, slowly at first, but gaining more speed with each day. Its lights were shining and its horn was blasting. And, I tried to get out of its way, I did but, I didn’t. Or, at least I didn’t get completely out of its way. I may have mostly jumped out of its way. Or, convinced myself I still had time to move. Or, I may have said I was out of the way in my mind, but my body wasn’t actually listening. Whatever the reason may be, I got hit. Hard. And it hurt.

Because I was semi-prepared (haha get it. Semi-prepared, semi-truck). But, I guess I had always held out a little bit of hope that I wouldn’t have to move out of the way. That the truck would prove not to be a truck, but to be my ride. My vehicle through the next part of my journey. But, surprise, it wasn’t. It was a truck. And it hit me. Crushed me. I had told myself I was braced for impact, but, I didn’t brace myself hard enough, thinking the impact would never actually come.

And now, here I am, in the middle of the road, dejected, beaten down, and unable, unwilling, to move. My physical wounds are not nearly as painful as the emotional ones. Because it hurt. And, ever since the impact, I’ve asked myself so many times how I could be so stupid, how I could have such a false hope, how I could think the truck wasn’t going to hit me. I wondered if I had been more obvious about my presence if the driver would have seen me.

And so, here I am, laying in the middle of the road. Watching my life play out. Watching my hopes and dreams being achieved by another. Watching my life, as if a movie, except I am no longer the main character. This life I had planned for myself, this life I had hoped for myself, happening, but happening to someone else.

Because, I am “actually a pretty great person.” But, maybe, I’m not good enough. Because, apparently my years of trust, of openness, were not what I thought they were. Maybe my openness was scaring him away. Maybe I wasn’t obvious about how it was that I felt. But, whatever, the reason, I now have to learn to get over the impact. And five, no, maybe seven, years of bracing myself for impact while simultaneously hoping it wouldn’t come made me think I would be okay. There were signs along the road. Signs which I read to mean that I wouldn’t have to brace myself for impact. And, eventually the signs changed, and I could tell I was probably misinterpreting them, but I pretended I wasn’t anyway. Because I’d have seen the truck. I’d have been able to see the signs. But, then again, I am blind.

And, so, again, here I am. At a crossroad. Laying here. Slowly but surely getting up. Ready to stand. Unsure how to begin. Unsure how to pull myself up and stand amidst the pain. But, I’m figuring it out. I’m doing what I can. I’m filling up word documents and journal pages with words. With emotions. I’m taking in air; despite how much it might hurt. I’m figuring out how I’ll stand up, crawl around the wreckage I left behind, and move on. And, I’ll figure it out eventually. It may just take a while. Because processing a heartbreak seven years in the making is tough. Watching my five year long dreams, hopes, and wishes come crashing down around me hurts.

So, I am doing what needs to be done. I’m writing. I’m shedding tears. I’m talking. I’m giving myself space. I’m sitting in the bathroom while the DJ plays one of my favorite songs because I just can’t bear to hear it. I’m listening to that one song on repeat. I’m avoiding being the one to initiate contact. And, for a while, I’m avoiding some of the things I used to love because he loves them too. But, I’ll come around eventually. It may just take a few weeks, or months. Hopefully not years. Because I am determined not to let this setback, this heartbreak, set me back.

So, maybe I’ll be less open to people. Maybe I’ll be more open. Maybe I’ll be more cautious about who I tell my deepest intimate secrets to, because maybe I’m worried it’ll scare them away. Maybe I’m worried they’ll think I’m too much to handle. Maybe I won’t change anything. I don’t know. I know that I’ll survive. I know that it’ll take a while to get over it. I know that I am trying my best. I know that I don’t want to let this get to me, even though that is incredibly difficult not to do. I know that there will be tough days, and tough conversations, in the future.

But, I know that God has an amazing plan. And that this heartbreak is just a bump in the road of His amazing plan. And, for now, even though it still hurts, and there are still sores, I’m finding good in the small things. I’m finding things to be thankful for despite the pain. The friend who walks across campus at one in the morning, in the snow, alone, just to sit with you, talk, cry, vent, and throw some pillows. The friends who sit with you in a bathroom stall because you can’t be out there with all the people, not yet. The family who drove to school to pick you up, take you home for dinner, and listened to you share the news. Who were upset with you, and for you, but who also gave you great advice as to how to get up and move on.

The sister who, despite the fact that you weren’t sure if you wanted to tell her, or even how to tell her, allowed you to come to her room and watch a movie. Who didn’t ask to talk about it, but instead just sat and watched a movie, trying to make you laugh. And, who used her million and a half flex dollars to buy you some mozzarella sticks. I’m finding joy in the little things. And being thankful for the small things. And, I’m waiting for the day that I can look back on the wreckage and prove to myself that I can get over it. That I can survive. That I can thrive.

“I remember when we met, I was young and innocent
And they told me you were all a girl could need
So I wrapped my life around you, I felt safe cause I had found you
But security’s become my enemy
You’re the only road I’ve ever known, but it’s time to move on

Cause the truth is I’m finding that it might not go my way
If I hold this life too tightly, my heart would break
And it’s time to say goodbye to everything I’ve ever known
But I choose freedom so this is me letting you go”

– Letting You Go, Jenny Simmons

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To My Roommate 

Dear roommate,

First off, I hope it’s okay that I wrote you this letter. I know it’s in a semi-public forum where it could possibly be seen by people neither of us know. But, if there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I write. A lot. It’s how I process. It’s how I think. It’s how I cope. I write things to people, and I write things for people. Because one day, a few years ago, I decided that I had things to say. However, speaking about those things is not one of my strengths. But writing is. Putting my thoughts into words and writing them on paper is. So, I write things. Things to those I’ve met about things that have happened. Things to those I have never met about things I don’t know will happen. Things to people I know. Things to nobody, but also to everybody. Some I share with others. Some I start but never finish. Some I post for the world to access. Some I leave in the dozens of notebooks scattered around my room, never to be seen or read by anyone but me. But, dear roommate, dear friend, there are things I want to tell you. And maybe there are things that others need to hear too. So, I hope it’s okay that I’m writing you this, here, because there are so many things I have wished to say, but couldn’t find the words to.

Dear roommate, in three weeks, we officially move into college. We leave our parents and our homes, and we move into a room that we will call home for the next year, with a person we call our friend. And I am beyond excited! I am excited to go to college and pursue my dreams and my passions, and discover more of God’s plan and purpose for my life. I’m excited to see what God has planned for your beautiful, wonderful, amazing life. I’m excited to see what He’s going to do with us, and through us. I’m excited to see you fulfill your dreams. And I am excited to share this journey with you.

However, I do feel a little bad for you. Because I am a little insane. Sometimes I rant for no reason about things that don’t matter. I tell too many nerdy jokes- most of which no one understands or thinks are funny. I love puns- almost to a point of annoyance. I tell a lot of dad jokes for a person who is not a dad. I discuss football a lot for a girl who spent the first 15 years of her life claiming she hated it. I’m worried that you don’t actually know what you got yourself into. But, I’m sure you’ll be fine. Because you’re awesome. And I’m not too bad myself. Plus, I know you’re a little insane yourself. Your insanity may just be less obvious than mine.

I’m glad you agreed to by my roommate. I’m glad I met you at Quizzing Nationals however many years ago. And I am glad you decided to come to this side of the world. Because there are so many Rochester things you have missed out on in your life, and there are so many Wegmans you haven’t experienced.

But, I know that with this new adventure comes many scary things. For both of us. And, as excited as I am, I am also terrified. The beginning of something new, being away from our parents, becoming adults, having real responsibilities- all these are things I have avoided up until this moment because they scared me. And I know that it may be even a little more frightening for you. Because you are traveling 800 miles from home. So, there are a few things that I would like you to know before we embark on this adventure together. Some things I hope will make both of our transitions a little easier.

First of all, mi casa es su casa, chez moi est chez toi, my house is your house. Literally. Because you are moving 12 hours from home. And I am moving 5 minutes from home. So, anytime you need a home, come to mine. It’s always open. Any break that you don’t want to make the journey home for but you also don’t want to stay on campus alone for. Any time you want a home cooked meal, or a place to crash, or even just a place to get away. You’re always welcome, even if I am not going to be there. Even if no one else is there. Make yourself at home. It’s been my home for 18 years and now it’s yours too.

Secondly, my grandparents live within walking distance. You will be introduced to them. And they will love you. You will immediately become one of the grand kids. They’ll ask about you if they haven’t seen you in a while, and they will always do their best to make sure you know you’re welcome. So, know that their house is always open. And my grandma will try to feed you every time you show up. She’ll convince you that you’re hungry, even after you just ate more than you thought was even possible. So, if we do go to their house, feel free to eat. But also feel free to say no. Because she always makes way too much food anyway.

As you know, my mom works on campus. So, expect me to stop by her office from time to time. If you ever need anything and don’t have a way of getting it, let me or her know, and we’ll make sure you get it. Also, she has connections, and she knows things. Which can sometimes come in handy.

I have shared a room for almost 15 of the 18 years I have been alive. Which means having a roommate is nothing abnormal for me. In fact, not having one is weird. When my sister moved into college last year, I couldn’t sleep well for a few days because I wasn’t used to the silence. But, I understand that you haven’t shared a room your whole life. And I understand that it takes some adjusting. So, I’ll be patient. But, don’t worry or freak about making sure whatever you are doing is okay with me. Don’t feel you need to change your behaviors to please me. I shared a room for 15 years with my sister, who is as close to my opposite as a sibling can be, and we both managed to survive- mostly. Sharing a room has made me an expert at ignoring annoying messes until they are picked up (or I fall and decide to pick them up myself). It has made me more adaptable and indifferent about things. I have learned to have opinions but to know when they matter and are important. I am better at picking and choosing which battles are worth fighting when it comes to rooms and shared space. I have also gotten pretty good at making myself scarce when my presence is neither wanted nor beneficial. So, relax and don’t worry about it.

With this being said, it does work better if you communicate. Tell me what is bothering you. What I am not good at is reading passive- aggressive behaviors or subtle hints aimed toward me. So, just tell me what the deal is. I will be a lot less angry or frustrated if you just tell me right away. Because I can’t fix a problem that I don’t know is a problem. And I think communication is the key to every relationship.

I, like you, like my sleep. But, I also do my best thinking, coping, processing, and writing, at night. And sometimes, I can’t sleep until I think, cope, process, and write. So, some nights may be restless for me. You may hear my pen scratching on paper, or my fingers tapping away, and I apologize ahead of time. If I disturb you, let me know, and I’ll process silently, in my head. Or, I’ll process silently by having a conversation with God, because that works well too.

Being my roommate may be difficult at times- as it is with any roommate. So, I’m sorry for being stupid. Or stubborn. Or whatever.  On the plus side, we have similar personalities. Which could work out great. Or it could end terribly. But, I’m betting it’ll be great.

I know there is a lot in store for us and for those around us this year. And I am happy that you will be there through it all, and I hope you’re glad I will be too. Through that class we hate. Through those late nights and early mornings. Through finals week, when all we want to do is kill each other. Through our first “roommate fight.” Because it’s going to happen- we’re girls, it’s inevitable. Through the guy drama, because guys are dumb, and so are we. Through the heartbreaks that I pray never happen- to either of us. Through the chemistry experiments and nursing simulations gone wrong. We’ll be there for the friendship drama. Or that annoying girl on our floor. Or if one of us is the annoying girl on our floor. Through the awkward social situations that the two of us semi-introverted, socially awkward, weird, nerdy girls will get in. 

You may have to deal with some of my weird obsessions. Like elephants. And chemistry. And good literature. And dissecting animals. In fact, just the other day I was trying to decide how many elephants is too many to bring with me, and if it would be reasonable for me to bring my favorite novels to college. Fortunately for you, I decided on only two or three elephants. And only one novel, besides my book on chemistry and the elements. And I chose to leave my taxidermy rat at home.

Fortunately for you, your roommate has many talents. One of which includes social media stalking. You know, in case that ever comes in handy. Another one, unfortunately for you, is getting in the way. Or having my things get in the way. At least I have a great taste in music though.

Freshman year is tough. But it’s also amazing. And I can’t think of anyone better to share it with. So, thanks, dear roommate. Thanks for agreeing to journey with me. And thanks for being your amazing, beautiful, hilarious, wonderful self. I can’t wait!

Love,

Your roommate

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A Valentine’s Day Life Changer 

Today, I walked into the gym to take the senior class picture, and my friend handed me a valentine. It wasn’t anything particularly special- a generic valentine you can buy by the box at any store, and a box of nerds that could be bought in bulk at any store. It was a small gesture. However, this small gesture meant so much to me.

Recently, I have been wondering if my friends are really my friends, or if we are friends because we happened to have a few classes together freshman year. Because, ever since I quit band freshman year to take a science class, I have felt that they weren’t really my friends. Because I’ve sat in lunch alone, a table away from my “friends” because their table was full, and not a single one of them got up to sit with me. Because I’ve sat in front of them in class while they have made plans to hang out on the weekend without inviting me. Because I’ve sat with them while they have had a conversation and totally ignored me, and didn’t listen to anything I said. Because I’ve tried to be 100% my crazy, nerdy, amazing self, and I’ve felt judged and not supported. Because I’ve needed support and never considered asking any of them because I have never thought they’d be there for me. And all of that has caused me to wonder if they are really my friends. And I’ve never really felt that I’ve had very many friends. Because, ever since middle school, I’ve felt that I didn’t fit in. Because I’ve been friends with people form each “group” you find in high school. Because I was friends with the band geeks, the nerds, the jocks, and the ones who don’t have many friends. Because I don’t fit into any one group, so I found myself making friends with a few people from each, instead of spending all my time with everyone from one. And that has made it difficult for me to become good friends with anyone. That has caused me to wonder who my real friends were, or if I even had any.

So, all of these thoughts have been swirling through my head. And they have been even more prevelant now that it’s my senior year and there are a number of events happening that are much better when experienced with friends. Things like the senior breakfast, class picture, and senior faculty basketball game. And all of those happened today. And I was standing around waiting for instructions and wondering how much fun I would really have. Because I was standing in a large group of my “friends” listening to their conversation, noticing them break up into smaller groups, and realizing I didn’t really belong in any of them.

Then, I heard someone call my name. And I turned around to see who it was. And my friend handed me a valentine. I was shocked, yet happy, because she is not in my main group of “friends.” She’s the one who will be my partner in French because everyone else has one, and she happens to sit next to me. She’s the one who sat behind me in DOC and listened to me complain every day about how stupid it was. She’s the one who sat with me at lunch last year despite the fact that the rest of her friends didn’t like me that much. She’s a friend I don’t see very often or talk to a lot. But, as I realized today, she’s a better one than those that I do. Because she gave me a valentine. And it wasn’t that she had bought a bunch of cards and was giving them out to a bunch of people she knew. Because it has my name on it. She had intended to give it to me. And my name was spelled right. Which doesn’t seem like much, I know, but I have friends whom I know better and have known for longer who still don’t know how to spell my name. Because they don’t take the time to pay attention. Which means she either paid attention, or she took the 30 seconds to look it up on Facebook. Which means a lot, because that’s more than others have done. And yeah, she was giving these out to lots of people, and I wouldn’t have been offended if I didn’t get one. Because we are more acquaintances than friends.  But, it meant a lot to me. To her, it was probably a simple gesture that she thought nothing of. But to me, it meant so much more. It meant I had a friend who took the time to remember me. Because I have felt like Charlie Brown for so long. Invisible, even amidst my friends. I’ve felt like I have friends, but that they will choose to hang out with others before me. Like I’m the last choice. Forgotten, despite being surrounded by people. But today, even if just for a brief moment, I didn’t feel that way.

So, I’m sitting here watching the Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day special and looking at the pictures my friends have posted on Facebook about the senior faculty game today. And I’m realizing that I won’t remember a lot about high school. I won’t have a lot of pictures to look back on with my friends. Because I didn’t take a lot. Because I didn’t do a lot with them. I won’t have a lot of great moments to reminisce about years down the road. Because I don’t have a lot of positive memories. I won’t remember my friends who asked me for help with the homework but never asked if I needed help with life. I hope I don’t remember the times I sat alone, or felt ignored, or hung out with my “friends” who didn’t talk to me or listen to what I was saying. But, I will remember this moment. When I realized I had real friends, or at least one. And I’m happy that she got excited for me when I told her about my upcoming missions trip. Because all I got form others was a “that’s cool.” But from her, I got a “that’s amazing,” and the sense that she was excited for me and genuinely wanted to hear about it. And I’m grateful that she is going to the same college as I am next year. Because I didnt get to know her well enough in high school, and I need to fix that. And college is always more bearable with a friend by your side. And I’m grateful for her. Because she is always laughing or smiling. And her personality is bubbly and makes everyone smile. And she is always brightening someone’s day, even unintentionally. And she doesn’t judge me when I act like a total nerd. And she has a kind heart and beautiful soul. And I’ll remember this moment forever. Even after I have eaten the nerds and lost the valentine. Because I don’t need a tangible thing to help me remember. I don’t need a photo, or a piece of paper, or a letter. Because I have this feeling. And it’s one of happiness, joy, appreciation, and bliss.

So, never underestimate the power of a small gesture. Whether it be a smile, a laugh, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a mouth to encourage, or a valentine card. Because it may mean little to you, but it may mean the world to someone else.

 

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