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Life’s Feeling 

Guys, I’ve been honest on here before. I haven’t hesitated to talk about my heartbreak, my feelings of inadequacy, my fear of not knowing what I want to do with my life, and anything and everything in between. But, this post may be my most vulnerable yet. It may be one that I regret writing, but, it’s on my mind and in my fingers so, here goes nothing.

I’ve been trying so hard recently to be happy. In a way, I’m the happiest I’ve been since I started college. Switching my major gave me a feeling of happiness I haven’t had since I stepped foot into my intro Old Testament class day one of freshmen year. But, I’m also not happy. Because guys, if I’m being one hundred percent honest, I’m not really anything. And I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but, right now, my world doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I’m exhausted. I’m physically exhausted. The short nights and long days are finally starting to wear me out. The 5 hours of nonstop work every other day piled on top of classes and homework is finally starting to physically drain me. I have knots the size of boulders in my neck and shoulders and back. My feet constantly feel like I’m walking on rocks, like they are permanently bruised inside my shoes. My lungs sometimes get tired of taking in air, and, as an asthmatic who already struggles enough to take in air, that proves to be an issue. More often than not, my brain gets foggy and is no longer able to function properly. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even want to think about drinking coffee. Not that I’m going to stop, because it’s my life source, but I would just so much rather have real sleep, consistently, for days in a row, that the thought of drinking coffee is, quite honestly, a bit repulsive. I’ve had migraines that my usual tricks don’t cure– worse migraines than I’ve ever had before in my entire life. Migraines so bad that I literally cannot think. Like my own thoughts hurt my head. And, I can’t study because every time I try to read, I’ll see the letters on the page in an arrangement that makes something that should be a word, but my brain will literally not understand what the word is or recognize it. A few days ago, I came back to my room before chapel, sat on my bed, told myself I should get up for chapel, and then just sat there. For an hour. And then, I closed my eyes and decided I’d try to sleep. Because I was so tired, but I couldn’t actually sleep. When my roommate came in, I couldn’t even open my eyes it hurt so much. And her voice hurt but I didn’t have the energy to say anything. But, I’ve got things to do so I take my vitamins, take some pain relievers, drink a lot of water, eat well, and sleep when I can.

I’m emotionally exhausted. I’ve always been an extroverted introvert who loves time to herself but also doesn’t mind hanging out with other friends, in small capacities. However, recently, it’s taken a lot of emotional energy for me to do anything. Sometimes, I have to leave class to go to the bathroom just so I can be alone for a minute. I lock myself in, with just my thoughts, and stay there for a few minutes–until it gets to be a length of time that seems unreasonable for a bathroom trip–when I force myself to snap out of it and return to civilization. I do the same thing with my roommate. We’ll be sitting in the room, not talking, just enjoying our own thoughts, doing our own thing, and I’ll leave to go to the bathroom–just to be alone. Getting out of bed for class is a daily struggle (when is it not?) It’s not aided by the fact that the professor of my 8am gives us no reason to show up at all– attendance has no bearing on our grade, and the way he grades makes it possible to show up to very few classes and still pass. Just this morning I got out of bed and got back in it 3 times before finally deciding I should go to class. I’ll sit in the lounge at the end of my hallway and do my homework, so I can say hi to people and chat a little– be present– but I’m never actually present. Even Quizzing, the one thing that has always emotionally stimulated me– the one place I’ve always been an extrovert and not felt emotionally drained by the end– has taken so much of my energy. I have come so close to actually getting mad at the Quizzers. And I love Quizzing and the Quizzers– I rarely get to a point where I’m angry at them, or at least angry enough to get mad And I know they can tell there’s been a change in my personality. I am normally the fun, patient, excitable Quizmaster, and suddenly I’ve become the exhausted, annoyed, “no fun allowed” Quizmaster– and I don’t like it, but I don’t have the energy to pretend I have the energy. I was playing a game with my family, and about 2 or 3 turns in, I was just tired of being there and playing the game– a game I’ve always loved with people I love even more. But, I go to class, talk to my friends, and fight my way through my non desire to be around people– faking it until I make it.

I have even begun to feel a little bit spiritually exhausted too. I go to church, I help teach the 7th grade girls’ Sunday school ( I even bring up some great points and say some cool things), I coach Quizzing, I pray, I read my Bible. And yet, I feel like God is further away now then He has ever been. It’s not because He is, or because I’ve stopped trying to seek Him. It’s because I’m exhausted and I feel like He’s unreachable. He’s always felt close– like I could reach out at any time and touch Him. And now, every time I reach out, I know He’s there, but I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel any different. It kind of hurts to try because I feel like it’s taking so much of my energy to reach out to Him for me not to feel Him. He might as well be a photon of light because I know He’s there, I can see Him, I can feel Him, but every time I reach out to touch Him, it’s like He isn’t as close and as tangible as I thought. But, I read my Bible, reach out, pray, and practically beg God to take whatever burdens I have that are keeping me from seeking Him so that I can seek Him.

I have lost what little motivation I had just a week ago. I have a huge Organic Chemistry test coming up tomorrow and I haven’t really started studying. But, I also don’t really care. I know nothing, but I don’t feel stressed or motivated to learn anything. I have an 8 page paper for a class that, just a week ago, I was beyond excited to write. And now, it just seems like another paper I’m going to force my way through and probably start two days before it’s due– miserably writing every word. I’ve never loved going to work or really looked forward to it, but recently, I’ve been dreading it. I’ve been trying to come up with reasons why I just can’t show up that day. And, on days when I have a legitimate reason I can’t show up, I still feel guilty when I call in, but yet, on every other day I try to find reasons I can’t come in. But, nonetheless, I do my homework, albeit rather miserably, and, for the most part, show up to work and do my job– at least trying to have a positive attitude.

Even now, it’s 1 am while I’m writing this, and I have homework I should be doing, but I don’t really care. I’m just sitting here, typing two or three words a minute between staring out the dark window and scrolling through social media– mindlessly liking random Instagram pictures because it’s been a few posts since I’ve hit the like button. I haven’t really felt anything but nothing recently. Not the stress I know I should be feeling due to the next 2 weeks being the most stressful of my life. Not the excitement and anticipation I usually feel days before an upcoming Quiz meet. Nothing. Just some physical aches and pains and some overall fogginess. It’s weird, and I can’t explain it.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t hugged any adorable little kids in a while or pet any cute little puppies. Maybe it’s because I have a strange case of senioritis that only affects non-seniors. Maybe I’m dying from some incurable, deadly disease. I don’t really know. But I know that I’m trying my best. And that’s the best I can do.

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Doubtfully Trusting

When you’re driving, it’s probably a good idea to know where your destination is. If you’re going somewhere but you have no idea how to get there, you’ll probably end up lost, confused, and stressed out. So, before you leave, you put the address in your GPS and trust it to guide you to your destination.

Life is a lot like a road, and, if I’m being honest, I often make God my GPS. I say, “Okay God, I know where I want to go with my life. I want to get to this place and do this thing. I know the direction I need to travel, but sometimes I miss the turns and I need you to help me get there. Will you guide me?” So, I make a plan, have a destination, and listen to His voice, trusting that He’ll bring me to the place I intended to be all along. But, truthfully, God is not really meant to be a GPS. In fact, I know it’s super cliche to say, but God’s actually supposed to drive.

I’ve spent a lot of my life convincing myself I was allowing God to drive. I mean, I allowed Him to take me to Kenya, despite my defiance. I heard him whisper “go” so many times while I was shouting “stay,” but I eventually allowed Him to take me anyway. And I’m glad I did because it was life changing and indescribable. And, since I’ve been home, I’ve been searching for something that will fill the hole I have from leaving parts of myself behind. Because I left behind all the babies I held, children I played with, laughs I expressed, love I spread, Quizzing I taught, hugs I shared, and moments soon to fade from memory.

I let my heart get broken because I knew He had a better destination in mind for my heart. I fought it– I tried for as long as I could to maintain control and hold onto my plan for my life. I told myself that I was okay, that it hurt but I could fight it, and that in the end, it would turn out how I intended all along. But, I eventually jumped over to the passenger seat and said “Alright God, whatever. It hurts, but I’ll trust you.” So, I trusted Him to take me where He wanted me to be, but, all the way there I’ve been voicing my defiance and unwillingness to completely surrender.

These aren’t the only times I’ve done this. Countless times I’ve said, “Okay, I really want to go here and do this, but if you don’t want me to, I’ll listen to Your voice.” Then, I get out, move over, and let God drive. But, here’s the thing guys– I could still see the road. I could still see all the twists and turns, potholes and bumps. I let God drive, but I still had one hand on the wheel, and was prepared to brake if we needed to come to a sudden stop. I’ve been saying, “God, you’re doing a good job and all, and I’m going to let you finish. But, just to let you know, there’s some potholes coming up. If you could avoid those, that’d be great. And, by the way, you missed that turn, so you should probably make another turn up here and go back.” I was the world’s most annoying backseat driver.

It wasn’t because I didn’t trust God– I did. I just didn’t want to completely surrender my life to him. I wanted to have some control– some say. So, I backseat drove while God steered, thinking that meant God was actually driving, because I was terrified. Not having control of your life is terrifying. It’s stressful and scary– it’s uncomfortable. But, God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust. And trust is more than just allowing God to drive. It’s completely surrendering everything– giving up total control, and taking your hands off the wheel. And recently, I’ve been learning to do more than trust– I’ve been learning to surrender.

This past year, God has been placing road signs in my path, hinting at me that we should turn that way. And even though I was claiming to let Him drive, He passed them and went on the way I wanted, because, being blind and all, I couldn’t actually see them. He just drove– allowing me to eventually figure out for myself that the direction we were going was filled with potholes, bumps, and discomfort. He kept making the signs bigger and more obvious– probably hoping that I’d see them. But because I’m very blind, and very stubborn, I continued to ignore them. Until one day, we were driving down the road and I screamed “STOP! I can’t do this anymore.”

“I know. Now, will you listen to Me?”

And so, here I am now, trying my hardest to give God total and complete control– to surrender my life, my comfortable, and my plans. But, for me, that’s difficult. If I can see the road at all, I can’t keep quiet– I can’t watch God pass by all the turns I want to take– I think I need to take– and willingly stay silent. So, I’ve allowed God to take control in whatever way He needs to, and, you know what He said? He said, “Rebekah, you’re kind of annoying. You keep trying to backseat drive when I am the perfect driver. So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m kicking you out. You’re sitting in the trunk, with your eyes to the road behind us instead of ahead of us.”

So, that’s where I am now until I learn to surrender– sitting in the trunk, only able to see the road behind us. God buckled me up, promised me I’d be safe, and gave me His Words to hold onto if I ever felt unsure. And, quite honestly, I’m scared. I feel the ups and downs and bumps and rough patches and I so badly want to jump up and say “God! Watch out!” But, I’m not going to. Because He has told me to trust Him– to surrender to Him. So, I am.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with my life, just recently I changed my major. And it was the best thing I could have done for myself. But, it is also the most terrifying thing I’ve ever had to do. I was a Chemistry major. I love Chemistry, but I am not sure I was ever super passionate about Chemistry– or at least not as passionate as I am about other things. But, I had no idea what I wanted to do, and because I enjoyed it and was pretty good at it, and since I never found myself excelling at any specific subject, I chose to study Chemistry. And to tell you the truth, I was a little scared to go into anything else, because with something like that, your future is more sure, more secure. Not that any future is ever guaranteed, but at least it set me up to do something. But, I’d been wrestling for a while about what to do. Because I loved Chemistry. But I was passionate about so many other things– Bible Quizzing, writing, studying God’s Word. And it wasn’t until I was reminded sometime last year, by a rather surprising but wonderful source, that such pure and uncontrollable passion existed that I realized something was missing– something had to change.  I so desperately wanted to do something with all these passions of mine, but I didn’t know what, and I was terrified and completely unsure. I wanted to stay comfortable and, to be perfectly honest, I was slightly afraid of what others would think. But, eventually God told me to sit down, shut up, and stop letting my own fear control me and let Him take control. So, I changed my major.

I switched to cross disciplinary studies. Which means I can study Chemistry, religion and philosophy, math, and English all at the same time. I can become a jack of all trades without becoming an expert in anything. And I am so happy I did that, but it also means my future has become so much more uncertain and terrifying– it’s not sure. It’s open to so much possibility, and simultaneously so little. And like, I’m trying so hard to hold onto God and His promises, but guys, that’s not easy. I know that I am the type of person who won’t know what I want to do until I’m doing it, because there are so many things I’d be happy doing. Maybe I’ll end up being a pastor, or teaching, or travelling. Maybe I’ll take some more trips to Kenya, and elsewhere, to find that missing piece of me and spread my uncontrollable love for Quizzing. (There is so much desire and passion for Quizzing in Kenya, but they lack the resources and leadership to spread it). Maybe I’ll get a Ph. D in Chemistry or Literature. Maybe I’ll get my M. Div. Maybe I’ll end up unemployed and living in my parent’s house for the rest of my life.  Who knows? All I know now is that I am trying my hardest to surrender the hardest part of me to surrender– my life and my future– to the One who makes my future. And it takes a lot of faith. It takes faith that sometimes I”m not sure I have. But, if Joshua can believe walls can crumble simply by walking around them, Abraham can say “Here I am”, and Peter can step out onto the waves, surely I can allow myself to surrender my future.. And I know that I’ll doubt– I do doubt. I’ll struggle and fight and try to regain control of the vehicle of life. But God is helping me to be still. To know that He is God. To surrender my life and plans to Him. And, although it’s a difficult and scary time, it’s also the most peaceful and beautiful feeling ever.

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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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First Week of Sophomore Year

My first week of classes is done. And it was pretty rough. I’m exhausted already, and it’s only week 1. But, I’m going to share a few thoughts I had this week.

A few nights ago, I did a little math because I was curious to see exactly how much free time I’d have this semester. So, here’s the breakdown:

I’m taking 18 credit hours of classes. Between my two jobs, I have been working anywhere from 16 to 18 hours a week. (Typically, it’s 18, sometimes it’s less).  I’m usually at work or in class from 8 am- 8 pm daily. Two of my classes are labs, which means, although they are only one credit, they take two and a half hours out of my day, plus the write ups usually take 4-8 hours to complete (if done reasonably well. So, we’ll say 6). Then, there is anywhere from 2-10 (ish) hours of homework per class per day (let’s use 3 hours of homework per class a day, 5 days a week. With 3 classes a day excluding labs, that’s nine hours of homework a night). And the minimum amount of sleep I need to still be a semi functioning human being is 4.  Let’s say I eat super fast everyday, so I spend 1 hour a day max eating, and 1 hour a week showering. Plus, 2 hour quiz practice a week and 2 hours of mandatory chapel. So, for those who haven’t been following along at home doing the math, here’s the simple version (excluding weekends):

16 hours of class+ 2.5(2) hours of labs+ 18 hours of work+ 6(2) hours of lab write ups+ 9(5)hours of homework a week+ 4(5) hours of sleep+ 1(5) hours eating+ 1 hour showering+ 2 hour quiz practice+ 2 hours of chapel= 126 hours a week.

Now, for those who didn’t do the math, there are only 120 hours in a five day week. Which means, on a five day week, I have exactly -6 hours of free time.

So, I’ll say that I’ll push some of the homework off until the weekend so I don’t have negative time in a week– since that’s not actually possible. But, weekends are filled with catching up on sleep (since I can only go so long on 4 hours of sleep), church, family events, friend socialization, football watching, and overall de-stressing from my -6 hours of free time a week.

But guys, don’t worry. Because here’s the thing. Practically, some of these numbers are exaggerated. Some are underestimates, some are overestimates. And, my boss at my one job is pretty good about us putting school first, and my other boss is doing everything he can to give me another night off. So, between that, my ability to “power through”, the fact that I enjoy the majority of my classes (since all but 1 are related to either my major or my minor), God, and about a million cups of coffee, I’ll be fine.

With that being said, here are a few things that happened to me this week, or thoughts I had, that kept me entertained during this long, exhausting week.

  1. “Man, I’m drinking 2 cups of coffee a day. That’s like mid-semester amount. I may not be ahead in my assignments, but at least I’m ahead on my daily caffeine intake.”
  2. “Who knew there was such a debate on the first three words of the Bible? I mean, it’s super interesting and all but is it really worth 20 pages? Also, who knew that different ways of translating the first 3 verses grammatically have such intense theological implications? Wait, why am I taking this class again? Oh yeah, I’m a giant nerd, this commentary is actually really fun, and I need to fulfill my minor requirements.”
  3. “I might be insane. But, it’s fine because all the most interesting people are, right?”
  4. Most nights, it was after 9, or just slightly before, when I even got around to starting my homework. But, it’s okay because I’m a night owl. Unfortunately, my roommate is not.
  5. I have spent like $25 on coffee? And it’s only week 1. It’s fine though. Because there are definitely studies which show that moderate caffeine addiction can be good for you. Right?
  6. I have to do like 50+ organic chemistry structure drawings for my assignment. Which is insane, especially when it takes more than 3 times as long to draw them on a computer than it does on paper. Like, I’m all for using technology to help us out, but in some cases it’s just not worth it.
  7. I compared Organic Chemistry to Leviticus. Think about it…
    It’s kind of super dense and filled with a lot of stuff that no one really understands, or enjoys. (unless you, like me, are a super nerd, and enjoy both O Chem and Leviticus.) But, it is super necessary and important to understanding how the world (or the Bible) works and functions as a whole. (I also now have analogies comparing all books of the Bible to different classes, so, if you’re ever curious)
  8. “I don’t need a nap. I can just drown my exhaustion in coffee. Actually, I’d rather just drown in coffee.”
  9. One night, week 1, as my friend and fellow science (Biology) major, and I were leaving the library at 11:30, she exclaimed, “You know, I was just thinking today how I thought I have enough free time to take on another class.” Now, maybe it was the exhaustion, and maybe it was caffeine induced hysteria, but either way, I laughed harder at that than I have ever laughed at anything she has said before. Because seriously, I did the math guys (see above), and there is no free time lying around.
  10. On my way to my 8 am, I asked my classmates to bring in the pine cone they had been kicking around and challenge my professor to create a function whose graph would mimic its’ shape. They did. He didn’t, but he did turn it into a half hour lecture on the Fibonacci sequence. So, that was a half hour less of actual calc I had to do
  11. On Friday, I walked into my calc classroom to find that my class had been moved. But, instead of telling us, someone just took the room numbers outside the doors and swapped them. Then, after class, they moved them back. Super weird.
  12. I looked at my bookshelf and realized you couldn’t look at it and successfully guess my major (unless you know me). I have 2 Organic Chemistry books, an exploration of the Periodic Table book (for some light reading), a guide to Biblical customs and cultures book, a portion of Ruth and Luke (admittedly not for a class), a Bible, 7+ novels, 2 commentaries on Genesis, and one on Exodus.
  13. “This schedule is insane! Who created this? Whose idea was this? Oh, wait, that was me”
  14. Is it too late to change my major? I have no idea what I would change it to, but is it too late anyway? Actually, forget changing my major, can I just drop out of college? Wait, who am I kidding? I love learning too much for that.
  15. This is all review from last year’s class. How am I already lost? What’s this dude saying? Why is that answer not right?
  16. I’m so tired. Just one nap. Please. 5 minutes.
  17. Journal about my thoughts on this Bible passage as I’m reading it? Oh, so you’re basically grading me to do what I already do, except I just actually have to write it down this time? No problem.
  18. I became that person who did homework in chapel. My physics professor said we had a quiz that she’d open after class and close when she left at 4. I looked at my schedule, looked at my work times, and said, “well, I guess I’m doing it during chapel then.” And suddenly, I was that person I hate, coincidentally doing my homework during the chapel when President Porterfield was talking about being present and engaged during chapel.
  19. I also just wrote this blog instead of doing my homework. Which is totally fine because I don’t actually need to do my homework to graduate, right?

Those are some highlights from my first week. And there are so many more I’d like to say, but didn’t, and so many more I forgot about, but that were good. But, this past weekend was filled with great times hanging with friends and relaxing. We went to Friendly’s, Jitters, and watched Bubble Ball. We had a tea party and jam session. So, here’s my first week in photos. And guys– I”m good. I’ve got God on my side. And, I don’t know if you know this or not, but He’s pretty amazing and much greater than anything life could throw at me. He exists outside of time, He knows everything about my future, present, and past, and with Him on my side, I have nothing to fear.

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To The Class of 2016

Dear Class of 2016, 

The day we thought would never arrive is finally here.  And for as long as I can remember, I have been the one who couldn’t wait to graduate.  I couldn’t wait to go to college and start over. To make new friends. To get to know some of my current friends better in college. To pursue my dreams. To continue my life. To explore my passions. But, as I stand here looking back on the mountain of finals, stress, APs, SATs, proms, homecomings, and pep rallies that was high school, I am realizing that, at some point, I’ll begin to miss it. But, for now, I am excited, because, for the most part, I hated high school. I will miss parts of it, but I am honestly glad to be moving on.

I’ll miss my friends who really were always there for me, despite anything I may have said, or thought, on the contrary. Who supported me through my 4 APs Junior year and struggled with me through calculus. I’ll miss my teachers who taught me so much about life. Who helped me discover my true passions, and who helped me rediscover my old love for certain subjects. I’ll miss my synchronized swimming coaches who kept me physically fit but drove me mentally insane. I’ll miss my friend who asked me everyday for homework help. Whether it was AP Chem, math, Comp, or even Spanish (which I definitely couldn’t help her with), even though she drove me crazy. I’ll miss my first non Quizzing guy friend who made my life more stressful than it needed to be by calling me at midnight asking for help with Calc or Bio or Stats or whatever, but who was actually a quality guy despite the thousands of contrary examples that surrounded him. Who was so obsessed with aliens that it drove me crazy, but with whom I also had so many deep conversations about life and the future. I’ll miss the fun we all had. I’ll miss the familiar hallways where I no longer get lost. I’ll miss the pool that was always so cold, but where I made many memories and pulled many muscles. I’ll miss the many AP Chem labs I messed up, the AP Bio dissections, the laughter at the rules the administration made that we refused to follow because of their stupidity and our own, the people, and the memories. I’ll miss everything it means. 

Because high school means comfort, despite the fact it never felt like home. The familiarity and structure of it all is comforting. I always knew what was expected of me, where to go, and what to do. And once I walk that stage, I’ll no longer have that. Sure, I’m going to a college whose campus I grew up in and around and whose people I am familiar with, but it’s not the same. It will never be the same. I’ll miss high school because graduating means leaving. It means leaving Quizzing, a ministry that has impacted my life more than anything, impacted me more than words could ever describe. It means leaving the people I have spent so many years surrounded by, whether good or bad. It means changing my routine that has been set for 13 years. It means no longer being able to text or call my friends to ask what the homework was, or how to do that one question, or if they want to go on a coffee date or impromptu trip to the library or Panera. It means becoming a freshman again, lost and confused, with no familiar faces in sight. It means saying goodbye to friends. My underclassmen friends who I’ll miss dearly. My friend since kindergarten who has put up with me for 13 years (which can not have been easy). My friends who have gotten me through so much. My friends who I just met this year who I wish I had talked to sooner. But, leaving also means happiness and joy. 

It means finally seeing my hard work pay off. It means pursuing my dreams and becoming who God has called me to be. It means having new, unimaginably amazing experiences. It means making new friendships, and seeing old ones grow. It means living. 

So, to the class of 2016, good luck. Good luck in whatever your future holds. Allow your experiences and time spent in high school to be carried with you throughout your lives. Remember the positives. Allow the negatives to change and impact you. Never forget the friendships you had and the memories you made. As you move on with your life, don’t forget your past, but build yourself an amazing future. Build yourself a future that, when you look back in 50 years, will make you smile. Be kind to anyone and everyone you encounter. Leave a mark in the world so bright that when others see it they’ll remember your beautiful spirit and unbridled joy. Pursue your dreams. Fulfill your purpose. Know that you are loved, and that you matter. Know that God’s got an unfathomable purpose for you. Know that who you were in high school is not who you have to be.  Understand that leaving high school does not mean your life is ending, it means it’s just beginning. 

Today was filled with many lasts. The last time you opened your locker. The last time you saw your favorite teacher or your best friend. The last time you walked through that hall or passed by that classroom. The last time you walked your best friend to class while laughing about the annoying freshman and complaining about that teacher. The last time you hung out in your favorite teacher’s classroom. The last day you sat and laughed with some of your best friends. The last day of your 13 year long school career. But, the future is filled with so many firsts. Your first day of college. Your first class that’s so stressful you’ll want to cry. Your first class that you’ll fall so much in love with you’ll wish it will never end. Your first time leaving home and really being on your own. Your first real all nighter. Your first love. Your first time you won’t be able to call your mom for every little thing. Your first new best friend. Your first career. Your first child. It’s the start of the rest of your life. A life filled with so many wonderful moments, both good and bad. Embrace this change, but never forget the memories you have made. 

So, to the class of 2016, good luck. I’m proud of you, and I sincerely wish you all the best. I hope you fulfill all your dreams. And thanks for making these past four years amazing, beautiful, stressful, terrible, and unforgettable. 

Love, 

A fellow curious, wondering, excited, and terrified senior

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A Life of Numbers 

Yesterday, class ranks became “official” (and I put that in quotes because they can still change before graduation, but not before college applications are due). And for those of you who don’t go to public school and don’t understand what that means, or for those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, it’s a seriously terrifying time. Imagine 330+ teenagers, who have all been killing themselves for 4 years, receiving the number that determines the order of their freedom. Teenagers who, after 4 years, can finally see how they measure up. It’s terrible. The hallways and classrooms are filled with questions of “What number are you?” “Who’s number 10?” “How does she have a 104 average?” “Why is his GPA over a 4.0?” And so on. Friends turn on friends. Death threats are common. It’s horrible, very Hunger Games like. But, it seems to be very important to us for some reason. We seem to want to know everyone’s rank and average, and we will not stop until we do. But these numbers mean nothing.

Think about it. In about a week, all of this will die down, and it won’t matter again until the last month of school when they recalculate the rankings and publish the Top 20 in the newspaper. And by then, and even by now, it will be too late to do anything about it. And in a year from now, you will be in college and it won’t matter if you graduated 1st or 331st, because everyone will be in the same place. We are all going to be lost and confused, trying to figure out life with no idea of what to do or how to be an adult. Or you will enter the military or the workforce, and think the same things. And in 5 years from now, when you are starting a career, it won’t matter what your high school GPA was. Thousands of people will be looking for the same job you are, and the best, most qualified ones will be hired. The ones who will bring the most to the company. Not the ones with the highest high school GPA, or even the highest college GPA. And in 10 years from now, when you start a family, your husband won’t leave you because your class rank was not high enough. (And if he does, let him, because you deserve better than that.)

And class ranks and GPAs are not even accurate measures of intelligence anyway. I mean, all they measure is your ability to follow instructions, be patient, and memorize material. That’s not the only form intelligence takes. Your ability to create, or sympathize, or understand: these are all forms of intelligence. In fact, I have a friend who, on paper, appears average. But in reality, she is one of the most intelligent people I know. Her musical talent is amazing. And her spiritual knowledge and maturity is astounding. I have had many deep, intense conversations with her; conversations which have left me challenged and have made me feel and think unimaginable things. I have had none of these with any of my friends who rank in the Top 10. And she is one the the nicest, most understanding, most caring people I have ever met, and I have no doubt she will go as far, if not further, in life than all those kids who are “smarter” than her. Because her intelligence, although in an unconventional form, is just as present and just as prevelant as everyone else’s. It’s just not accurately measured by the standards set by society. 

Finally, and most importantly, your GPA does not define who you are as a person. So often, we are caught up in numbers, and how they define us. Our class rank, our GPA, our SAT score. But these numbers are just that, numbers. They can’t measure the depth of your heart or the width of your understanding. They don’t explain your love, your personality, or your soul. And in the real world, these things are what will really matter. No one is going to like you just because you were smart in high school. People will like you because of your heart, your kindness, your personality, and your soul. And those, coupled with determination, motivation, and willpower, are what is going to take you far in life. Not some arbitrary number on a paper. Because, if every person’s intelligence was the same, we would have no music, or art, or literature. If everyone’s intelligence was in the same form, we wouldn’t have comedians, or teachers, or actors. So, if you are graduating 1st, congratulations, be proud of all you have accomplished. If you’re graduating 331st, congratulations, you made it, even though it may have seemed like you never would. And sometimes, when you barely have the strength to get out of bed, the fact that you made it is all that matters. Because numbers are no more than just that- numbers. And you are a person with a name, a face, and an identity. And that identity is not based on numbers, but on experiences. And people are people because they are unique, and each have their own strengths, and each contributes to the world in vastly different ways. So forget about your class rank and your GPA. Challenge yourself and be determined. Work hard and love harder. Don’t worry;  you will be okay. 

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