29 July, 2005

Closing Time...Open all the Doors and Let You Out Into the World...

As written in my journal as I was sitting in the Colorado Springs airport at 5:30 am 7/28/05…

I can’t believe it’s over. I’m sitting here in the Colorado Springs airport, eyes welled with tears because I have just finished my glorious journey. 8 weeks ago I did not know Jenny, Jenna, or Josh. 8 weeks ago I cried in the airport because I was leaving my home to go live in a strange part of the country with strange people. Now everything is different.
Not only have I learned that I LOVE Colorado, I have also learned that I treasure having close friends who are so wise beyond their years. I have learned my deepest weaknesses and learned what I am truly looking for in a mate some day. I have learned I have a passion to minister to and love homosexuals and I have a passion to learn all I can about postmodernism and how it plays out in my generation. I have learned that marriage is an unselfish choice to make you holy not simply a decision to make you happy. But most of all, I have learned that God has a specific plan for my life based on the experiences He has given me, the personality He has given me, the character traits and skills He has given me, and the passions He has given me.
I saw the movie “The Island” the other night. After it was over I couldn’t help but meditate on the vastness of God. (You’ll understand why after you see it.) It floors me that that same Creator God loves me and desires to use me somehow in His grand plan for the cosmos. Wow. He has even seen fit to bless me with little pieces of Heaven on earth—like the Focus on the Family Institute. I am so grateful.
My thoughts are best expressed through the lyrics of the second verse of a song I wrote this summer:
Lord I trust you with the future
Unimaginable and unknown
I often ponder why you’ve smiled on me so
Lord your plans are not my own
For the most part enjoyment
Has described all my days
I pray that you’ll guide us
To follow your ways
I thank you for blessing this time in my life
I pray that in my life you’ll be glorified

25 July, 2005

Hiker Girls.

On Saturday we hiked the Crags. This is only about halfway up, but as you can see the view was already incredible. I leave this place in 4 days. I'm gonna miss it...I sure hope Heaven looks something like Colorado. :-) Posted by Picasa

22 July, 2005

Colorado Update...Week 7 style...whicky whicky.


I think I say this every week in some form, fashion, or disguise but I honestly-speaking cannot believe a whole week has gone by and here I am at the end of week 7 of this 8 week experience called Focus on the Family Institute. I started mourning the ending of this beautiful summer about two weeks ago (truth be told, when it was halfway done) but now as the time truly closes I have begun to accept the beginning of the end and I am enjoying the idea of leaving this place having a much greater grasp of who I am, whose I am, and why I am here. This week two assignments I have had to complete have been “My Life’s Mission Statement” and a description of “The One.” And no, I won’t be posting either on here for fear of weird stalkerey boys searching for a wife or for fear of looking overly zealous in putting myself out there. :-)

On to the past week’s events…

Last Friday night all of the Focus students went to the “Flying W Ranch” where we enjoyed true country cookin’ and live country music. I know you were about to say “Oh I bet you LOVED that, being from Nashville and all!”


The only song I knew that they played was “Mariah,” a song that I knew from singing it in a review of songs from musicals.

Go figure.

Saturday I saw the new Johnny Depp-style “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which was pretty Michael Jackson-esque weirdly trippy. It held my attention mostly, but was well….really odd.
I can’t even tell you if I liked it or hated it. It was just….really odd.
Saturday night I had the pleasure of being treated to pf chang’s by Jenny’s dad and step mom. Always a joy to be treated when one is an unemployed college student…

Sunday afternoon as I was riding with my friend Josh to the house of the President of FFI (for dinner with half of the students) we found ourselves lost. Not just a little bit lost. Like twenty miles lost. So a 15 minute drive definitely turned into an hour and 15 minute drive. I’m learning that getting lost doesn’t bother me like traffic does, and not being punctual doesn’t bother me like the feeling of missing out. Hmmm…

This week in class has probably been the most interesting yet. We are steeped in to our marriage class. Monday we even had a double header. 3 hour class in the morning and then 3 more hours after lunch. We’ve studied and discussed personalities, gender differences, the effects of spiritual warfare in marriage, finances, communication skills, and sex. Tomorrow is the last day of class. Today my assignment for reading was “Finding the Love of Your Life” by Neil Clark Warren. Also the founder of eharmony.com. Although being raised in a Christian home and being uber-involved in youth group definitely fostered an atmosphere of marriage awareness and “make your list, girls” I have become aware that my tastes, desires, and needs have changed over the years. It has been a very helpful process to pray through what I feel my life’s call is and to ponder what characteristics I’m looking for in a husband. I feel like I knew a lot of this before, but my view has changed from telescope to microscope. Like, the Lord has helped me pinpoint where I’m going and why. It’s been a really fulfilling thing.

On the social end of things I’ve had some good eats and good conversation this week. Today was my friend Keri’s birthday (Jenna’s roommate) so we went to a place called Giusseppie’s Depot for dinner. Apparently it used to be the train station here in Colorado Springs. Afterwards we went to my favorite spot in town, the look out point at Palmer Park. Once again I was completely moved by the handiwork of our Creator Savior. Simply breathtaking.

Some of you I will see in 1 week. Others I will see in 2. Others still I will see in just a month. I can’t wait to spend time with you all face to face again. I do immensely treasure these relationships God has blessed me with. I love y’all.

18 July, 2005

I'm an....otter?

So today for class our homework was to take a personality test that would tell us which personality we indeed have. I guess the purpose was to discover personality differences and gender differences and act accordingly in marriage...since I'm in a marriage class.
I don't know if I was in a funny mood or if the test was weird but I scored EXTREMELY otter. And please tell me if you think I'm being unreasonable by saying that this may not describe me to a T. Here's what it says:

"Poised, confident, persuasive and impressive are descriptors of you. You are usually capable of speaking in a comfortable manner. You could use help in controlling emotions--showing less impulsive reactions; less talk and more action. As the group size increases, you may become louder. You want to make sure everyone has a good time and enjoys themselves. As a result, you may appoint yourself entertainment chairperson. You tend to be fluent and verbal. You like to verbalize and to participate with everyone."

Ok, so yeah...maybe most of that describes me, but where is the balance?? Where is the "You like deep, analytical conversations. You like some alone time. You like structure to get work done." It's not there...so I've decided that they can't put this otter in a box. I refuse to be lumped into one of four categories. So I'm fighting back! I'm rebelling! Which according to this test, otters tend to do...dang it.

16 July, 2005

A much better pic of Garden of the Gods. And my cute mom and dad. yay.  Posted by Picasa

14 July, 2005

View from part of the Garden...this was taken earlier on in the Summer because Pike's Peak doesn't have any snow on top of it now.  Posted by Picasa

Part of the Garden of the Gods...does NOT do it justice...at all... Posted by Picasa

No, these aren't the huge rocks I was talking about...this is just the sign :) Posted by Picasa

Who knew there was so much I didn't know...

My sixth week in Colorado began wonderfully with a weekend visit by my parents. There’s something so great about worlds coming together and people witnessing your experiences. Anyway, while my parents were here I got the opportunity to take them to class with me (the topic of class that day was Singles and Dating, of course) and take them to a Denver Rockies game (they got smashed by the Padres). We enjoyed the game (although it was a bit slow) but enjoyed the Cheesecake Factory even more. Mmmmm…
Saturday Jenny came along with us on the cog ride up to the summit of Pike’s Peak. We ascended to 14,111 feet. The altitude definitely affected me as I found myself becoming a little loopy and having trouble breathing. It definitely wasn’t a feeling that I’d like to have on a daily basis.
From Pike’s Peak you can see hundreds of miles away, even into the next state (Kansas, if you were wondering). Before we got into the cog we were warned that at the top it was about 40 degrees cooler. We didn’t realize that it would also be SNOWING. I have to tell you, experiencing snow in July was quite an interesting thing…I felt like I had been transported to another hemisphere in the short hour that it took us to ascend up the mountain. God’s creation is so cool.
Sunday was Jenny’s 21st birthday. The celebration was a bit weak as it was drowned out by a Christmas in July party that our half of the Focus students had. That morning I took Mom and Dad to Woodmen Valley Chapel, a satellite church where we heard great preaching and experienced beautiful worship through music. The worship leader did a Phil Keaggy-esque song he wrote where he looped percussive sounds and harmonies just using the pick-up in his guitar. I love when the people of God get a little creative. Granted, Phil Keaggy probably thought of it first, but it was definitely a reminder to me to think outside the box and give God my best. I know I am capable of thinking more critically, working more diligently, and being more creative, and God deserves for me to apply those things to His glory. So anyway…
Sunday after church I took mom and dad to the Garden of the Gods and REI (which is my new favorite store, yeah I bought Chaco’s…totally becoming a mountain girl…right). My parents loved seeing the huge rock formations at Garden of the Gods up close. They really are pretty mind-bending. While at REI I got a big panoramic poster of Pike’s Peak and the Garden of the Gods which I will promptly hang in my new room at Montview Forest--should you be interested to see it ever.

To learn about what happened/what I learned on Tuesday…scroll down a few entries…’how are you living out your faith?’

Tuesday night all of the Omegas had our family picnic at the Garden of the Gods. Not only was it a great time of hanging out and talking it was also an amazing backdrop to experience worship. We were singing the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin, and I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by this God who created these huge natural wonders behind us. I can’t really say much more than that…it was just an awesome time of worship and fellowship. I feel so blessed and humbled when the Lord lets me sing and play guitar to help others worship Him through song.

Wednesday night all of the Omegas were invited to Jeff Abel’s (the guy who is over our resident advisors…whatever that makes him J ) for his “famous pasta dinner.” Little did many of us girls know, all the guys came over early to help and serve us. We were greeted at the door by two gentleman. Our orders were taken, our drinks were served to us, our food was prepared for us all by Jeff and the boys. It was such a sweet way for the guys to serve us and show the love of Christ. A few of us have something planned to say thanks…like, would the boys ever really make themselves cookies and brownies? No. They couldn’t survive without us.

I’ve been noticing the last few weeks just how imperative it is for me to wind up with someone who is intelligent, a learner, and engaging. As sort of a test I have been scanning Liberty’s facebook in hopes of finding someone (who I don’t already know) who reads interesting books (OTHER than Blue Like Jazz…geez) or who simply doesn’t misspell words.

So far. I got nothin.

Today right after class I’m going with Jenny to a Younglife camp a few hours away called “Crooked Creek.” It should be a very scenic route and it’ll be fun to go and see Walker AND to see what this Younglife stuff is all about…

One thing that’s been cool about this summer is to simply experience life out of my two comfort zones: Nashville and Lynchburg. Many students at Liberty remain at Liberty for years (most kids stay more than 4 years I think…) and I really believe it’s a comfort issue. Many are fearful of the next chapter in life so they simply stay and double major…or triple major…or go to grad school….at the same institution they’ve been studying at for 5 years already…not only is this limiting them to only have one place to experience life as a young adult, for some it also displays a fear of stepping out and trusting God. If I’ve learned anything while being in Colorado (a place I had never been before) studying alongside 78 students from some 60 colleges, is that there is a huge wide world out there to experience. As amazing as my friends and family are, there are so many more things to see and people to meet! After chewing on all of this, this may seem unrelated (it’s not) I have been reevaluating just how long I’d like to stay at Liberty. I had considered staying for 4 years of undergrad and then going on to even do grad school maybe. I know I’m a little ahead in credits so I started looking at what my graduation requirements are. I’ve decided to go ahead and take most all of my classes for my major asap, simply so I can be prepared if the Lord chooses to steer in me in another direction in the next couple years. I’m beginning to grasp the breadth of the statement, “When you’re young you’ve got the world at your fingertips.”

12 July, 2005

Challenging Word...


How are you living out your faith?

Today Mike Haley, the head of the department for “gender issues” at Focus, came to speak to our class about homosexuality. I have heard Mike speak twice already at Liberty, and though I enjoyed listening to him with his charisma and humor, I knew he would probably be telling the “same old story.” Interestingly enough, Mike had me gripped by his story all over again. He told of how he had been abused by a man from the time he was 11 until he was 18. He talked of growing up in a Christian home and always feeling “different.” He talked about his dad’s high expectations that his only son become a world-class athlete and a “manly man.” All these issues culminated in Mike spending 12 years of his life in the homosexual community. Now look at him. A successful Christian man with a God-used ministry, happily married with two sons. God certainly gave this man’s life a 180 degree turn. But how did he do it? Through a man named Jeff Conrad. Jeff sought Mike out. He loved him when Mike would sneer at this “God” Jeff worshipped. Mike would skip town and move. Jeff would find his address and write him saying that God loves Him and there is a way out. Eventually Mike began to grasp who this Jesus was that Jeff worshipped and spoke of. It wasn’t the same Jesus that Fred Phelps says “hates fags.” It was a Jesus who bled and died and sacrificed his life so that Mike could experience true FREEDOM. I wonder if Jeff had any idea that Mike would eventually be delivered and guide thousands of other homosexuals into freedom as well. All Jeff did was pursue and invest in one person. And look at all the fruit that has sprung forth. Who knows what could be accomplished for the kingdom by slowing down and taking the time to invest in one soul.

This has caused me to reevaluate my goals for my life. Over and over again our professor Sheryl Dewitt has told us stories of people whose lives were transformed by coming and sitting in her office talking through issues with her. I’ve believed for quite some time that all that matters in life are God and people. The greatest commandment is love God and love people. Maybe there’s something more there…

It's easy to forget that there's more to the Christian life than simply being "good." Christianity is not a life of rules and behavior. It is a life filled with the knowledge that earth is only temporary, and we must invest in the things that matter.

10 July, 2005

So yeah, about last week...5 down. 3 to go.

So the pictures turned out to be in kind of weird spots...odd...anyway quick explanations: Top-Me and Jenny at the park last week. 2nd-Me and Henry about to go trailblazing. 3rd-Jenna and the pig at the ranch where we started off on our horse adventure. Bottom-Jenna, Me, Kara, and Keri taking a photo-op before trapsing through the mountains on horseback. So there ya go.

A belated and much overdue Colorado Update…

Ok, wow soooo much happened last week that I feel like my life is completely different than the last time I posted an update. Things have been pretty busy here (shocker) and with the wonderful visit by my parents, I’ve had no time really to update. Ok, so here are some highlights of the past week and some things I’ve learned…I’ll try to keep this in chronological order. :-)

Last Saturday 3 of my friends here (Kara, Keri, and Jenna) and I went horseback riding in the Pike’s Peak National Park. And when I say in the park, I mean through the mountains. The family who owns the horses we rode also have a lot of other animals on their property. Within 30 minutes we encountered a little pig, some chickens, sheep, goats, horses (obviously) and bison. These people are for real. As far as the sights go, I tried to take pictures from atop my trusty horse Henry, but none do justice to really how high we were, or how steep our descent was, our how loud the thunder was, or how close the lightning seemed to be. I was pretty pensive throughout the whole thing; one might call it ‘nonconversational.’ With one hand I gripped Henry’s reins to point him in the right direction and with the other hand I clung to my saddle for dear life—so to speak. In short, the view was beautiful, the company was excellent, and the memories were marvelous. I totally recommend going horseback riding through the Rocky Mountains. Just make sure you don’t mind being a bit sore in strange regions the next day…

In other news, my sister Ashli got engaged to Matt Arbo in Nashville on Saturday. And can I just say that I should get some sort of credit for this match? Ashli and Matt met at the Drowsy Poet coffee shop after the Cool Hand Luke concert last fall. After the show I desperately wanted to go to the Daily Grind and Ashli vehemently desired Drowsy. Being the cool younger sister that I am, I conceded to her wishes, and BOOM. Wouldn’t you know she meets her future husband there. Anyway, Ashli was completely surprised by Matt’s proposal over lunch at the Opryland Hotel. Mashli (as my friends and I affectionately call them) are super-excited and looking to get married either in December or May(ish). Masel tov.

Sunday a group of us headed up to Denver to do some shopping and take in the sights and smells of ‘Casa Bonita.’ Denver is a very cool city; I recommend it for a visit as well. They have a cool outdoor mall where I had much success with late summer sales. Casa Bonita is this huge restaurant/entertainment experience in Denver. Unfortunately we were seated where we couldn’t see much, but we did see a couple of cliff divers and a gun show. Lots of little kiddos everywhere. It was fun.

Monday was 4th of July and as a national holiday I definitely decided it merited a crazy late sleep in. I really had no choice as I was up until 3ish the night before (thanks buddy ;-) Monday night we went to Applebee’s for dinner and then went to Memorial Park for the fireworks show. 4th of July is definitely summer’s epitome, and I love it. There’s something about the idea of Independence Day that is really romantic to me…I can’t quite put my finger on it either…

This week in class we have been covering topics that have definitely begun to hit a lot closer to home. We’ve studied parents and child discipline (the raging controversy right now is to spank or not to spank), children and self-esteem, teen issues, and singles and dating. Lots and lots of dialogue began this week among the students regarding what is biblical in these areas and what our own opinions are. As far as parenting goes it seems that it boils down to being close to your children. Loving, consistent discipline is definitely key, but above all parents must have relationships with their kids. Teens will never open up to parents about issues in high school if parents weren’t willing to listen to their thoughts (however ‘unimportant’) when they were third graders. So yeah…tuck that advice away somewhere… Also, on the day that we discussed self-esteem we did an exercise where we spoke truth into the lives of our friends by telling them 5 positive characteristics about themselves and then listening to what our friends had to say about us. I got the privilege of being in a group with my friends Jenny and Josh. Nothing brings joy to my soul quite like encouraging others and pointing out where God has blessed them. Jenny is very perceptive and one of the most insightful college students I’ve ever met. And Josh has a deep passion for Christ that proves to simply inspire me and spur me on. I am blessed to know both of these people and I hope that I will stay in contact with them for many years to come.

I feel like such a general overview of the week barely scratches the surface of where I am in my thoughts and life really. God is taking me to a new place on my journey, and I’m excited about that. I just hope I remember all that I’m learning once this glorious summer comes to a close…

07 July, 2005

Timing Is Everything.

Colorado Update coming soon...for now, a quote.

For my marriage and parenting class I was assigned to read part of the book "I gave dating a chance" by Jeramy Clark. In it he told a story about a woman who found a cocoon in her front yard and saw the little butterfly trying to break free from its entrapment. Thinking she was doing a kind thing, she took a knife and cut the cocoon right open. The would-be butterfly was only partly transformed so tragically he did not survive outside of the cocoon. Clark writes,

The woman hadn’t realized that only the struggle and the waiting made the butterfly ready to be free. Without the proper amount of time, the butterfly could not survive.
Timing is everything.

Ecclesiastes 3. Timeless. (No pun intended.)

06 July, 2005

Fun on the Fourth!

Jenny, Jenna, and Me. I love this picture...What more could you ask for? A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. :) Posted by Picasa

Left to Right: Jenny, Jenna, Keri, Kara, and well me up front in the purple...we arrived at Memorial Park well before dark so we chilled with 30 of our closest FFI friends...Jenny and I entertained ourselves by playing volleyball for a bit and waiting in line for a funnel cake for 45 minutes...  Posted by Picasa

When planning for the 4th festivities I forgot that it gets COLD at night here...so luckily, we had a blanket to keep warm. :) Posted by Picasa