Sleepless in Newberg?

Are you one of those people that can function on small amounts of sleep? The kind of person who often finds themselves staying up till 2 AM supplemented by procrastination and caffeine? Well I am NOT. In fact, I recently found myself believing that I had stayed up late working on homework because I finished and assignment at 10 PM. I’m a total night owl, right?

Unfortunately, this not-so-night owl recently had a night where her body and mind seemed to be in utter disagreement, sabotaging my precious sleep. Let me tell you about my Thursday night.

While I knew my body would regret it the next day, my mind seemed to be racing a a million miles an hour. As I laid in bed, I tried the old trick of “Netflixing” myself to sleep. DID NOT WORK. After binging on way too many episodes of Parks and Recreation (let’s be honest, can you really watch too many episodes of Parks and Recreation though?), I closed my laptop at midnight and tried to finally get some shut eye.

My mind would not allow this and preceded to hold me captive with thoughts. “You know what would be a great idea?” my mind whispered to my body. “Perfect for this time of night! Let’s brainstorm good things to pack in a carry on!” Really brain, really? Right now at this hour, this is the most important thing we can be doing? But my mind would not give in.

Eventually, I decided just to go along with it and make that list. “Okay, let’s see. What snacks should I bring? Larabars? YES…” my mind continued as my thumbs dutifully typed this list into my phone. To be fair, we did learn in class to always write down our ideas so we don’t lose sight of them. Maybe I was finally retaining something I had learned in class.

To top my night off, it continued with a 3 AM “spa trip” to our house bathroom where I decided if I wasn’t going to sleep, I was going to take advantage of it and preceded to tweeze my eyebrows and put on a relaxing tea tree oil face mask.

I’m not sure why I decided to tell you this story, other than the fact that it shows the superb example of putting something into practice that I learned in class. I’m supposed to tell stories that make me look good, right? Anyways, my writers block is beginning to set in so I will end with this. My hope for you is that 1. you had a better nights sleep than I, and 2. that you are able to apply what you are learning. These should be helpful tips to carry into the rest of your life, but ESPECIALLY  for finals week. Am I right?

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End of a Semester…Beginning of a Journey

And with that, our semester of Studies in Writing comes to a close. Though this is not the first college class that I have had to blog for, blogging provided the creative outlet to keep my creative juices flowing for the semester. Blogging valiantly attempted to protect me from writers block and at times forced me to me more creative than I am used to. Surprisingly, some of my favorite blogs to write were actually those with assigned prompts. Often, they were a reflection on something we were reading or talking about in class. Blogging about those things forced me to out the thoughts swirling around in my head written down. This became extremely helpful in retaining my thoughts when it came time for essays or in class discussions.

Although it won’t be for this class and may look a little different, I am going to continue writing blog posts back on the blog I began in high school. This blog is going to be a creative outlet for me and a way to connect to those back home as I spend my semester abroad in Thailand. I hope to update the blog with my travels and what I am learning at least twice a month or whenever I have time for it. Once I figure out what the blog will look like, I will provide a link to it on this blog. It has been a joy journeying through this class with you all and I can’t wait to see where writing takes all of you in the future.

Saul to Paul

The story of Paul’s conversion is one of extreme importance in the early church. The transformation from persecutor to missionary not only shows the merit and truth of the gospel of Christ, but it also gives hope to a modern world where many Christians are being persecuted in the same region they were nearly two thousand years ago, around the time of Paul’s conversion. To gain an understanding of the importance of Paul’s conversion, we must dive deep into the background that lead him to become a persecutor of the church, the special way in which he was confronted by the risen Christ, and just how drastically his life changed in the aftermath of that confrontation, including the name change from Saul to Paul.

Acts, chapter nine starts out by telling the readers that “…Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” Other than his approval of Stephen’s stoning, this is one of the first lines mentioning him in the New Testament, the first impression we get of him. Saul was not putting Christians to death for no reason though. Rather, he was extremely committed to his own Jewish faith and was willing to go to great lengths to keep pure what he believed to be the way of the Lord. For Paul, and other Jews for that matter, it was very scandalous to claim that their savior had been crucified, hung on a tree and left to die.

According to Jewish law, those who were hung on a cross, just as Jesus was, were said to be under God’s very own curse, bringing curse to others and to the land along with them. Because of this, at first glance, it would be very hard to believe that the one who was sent to bring freedom, blessing and salvation was instead under the curse of God. For Saul to believe that the Christians were right, that Jesus was in fact the savior, he would have had to change his entire mindset. Saul had to acknowledge that God’s salvation was at work outside of the law. Jesus was in fact not outside of the law during his death on the cross, He was actually the fulfillment of it. While Saul was convinced that he was being an honorable law-abiding Jew, he had indeed missed the entire point of his faith, he had missed the Messiah.

It was probably for that very reason that the Christ whom he had denied met with him face to face in one of the most radical and abrupt conversions in the early church. Reading through Acts 9:4-6 is the only way to really feel the magnitude of this event, “He fell on the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” One very interesting and apparent aspect here is that Saul didn’t simply experience a vision or something of that likeness, the risen Christ called him out into a face to face encounter, representing a true conversion which involves a personal encounter with Jesus that leads to new and abundant life.

May you meet the God of your salvation face to face this Easter, as we celebrate the Resurrection.

Letters and Life Reflection

The most impactful thing that stuck out to me in this section of Bret Lott’s writing was in the description of he and his family wheeling his dad down the hallway in the hospital to take him for a walk.

“Do not here think me some kind of good guy for taking the wheelchair and pushing my dad down to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee. Do not look at me in this moment as the thoughtful son doing the right thing in relieving the nurse or keeping my mom from the work of pushing that chair,” Lott writes, “Instead, look at my father, and my mother, and my wife…”

Lott successfully urges the readers eyes off of himself as the central theme of his writing. Instead, he enables us to look through his eyes and become emerged in his surroundings. This can be a difficult thing to do, even for Lott himself. He describes how his views on the job of the author used to be much different when he was younger and just starting grad school.

He used to think that writing was about the author and how well the writer could put words on a page to form a story. However, after reading some of Raymond Carver’s work, he realized that isn’t the case at all. Rather, the writer is simply an intruder in the story. Rather, stories are about the characters in them.

This has prompted me to believe that the more diminished the author is in a story, even a a story that is about something the author experiences, the better.

Even if I Settle on the Far Side of the Sea…

Spring semester is almost over, so I thought I would give friends and family a little update about what I have been up to while I’m away at college and some exciting things in the next year or so. This semester has been a crazy whirlwind. I am taking six classes and started out the semester working on a research project about corporate social responsibility alignment in social enterprises. But, I will be HALFWAY DONE with college when it is over and will be presenting that research in April at the Northwest Communication Association Conference in Coeur D’alene!

This summer, I will be coming back to Longview to intern at Calvary, working with the youth and putting on summer camps, but will also be heading off to the Philippines for two weeks to return to the site of my first mission trip. Come August, I will once again be heading overseas, but this time for a semester abroad in Thailand. I will spend 3 months taking courses and participating in a practicum in Chiang Mai. Prayers could be used for this crazy endeavor and for the people I will be missing while away. When I get back from Thailand, I will get to celebrate a wonderful Christmas break with loved ones, including a week in Arizona finally seeing my grandparents’ home away from home. Next spring semester, I will be living in the cutest little house off campus with three friends enjoying our own space and cooking our own food. After that semester ends, I will be jetting off to either Greece or Israel on a three week juniors abroad trip in May with a group of students and faculty from Fox.

This coming year will be a crazy time for me, and I don’t know if I have fully comprehended what I have signed up for. However, many (if not all) of these things are a result of prayer and pushing past fear, doubts, and anxiety. As I think about all to come and the obvious ups and downs I will encounter, one verse is sticking out to me.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.”

-Psalm 139:9-10

I hope that I continue to remember this verse with confidence that there is nowhere I can go where I will be out of God’s reach.