Senioritis: 8 Reasons to do Your Homework

Senioritis

I graduated high school when I was 16; I hardly had time to have senioritis. No sooner did I have my driver’s license than I was walking across the stage in Gryffindor colors humming Pomp and Circumstance.

Not so with college.

Coming back with only one semester left I find myself in an odd spot. I’ve just returned from Oxford, which is easily one of the most amazing experiences of my life, both academically and personally, and I only have one semester left. It would be easy to be apathetic; there’s only a short time left here to invest in people and professors, the academic rhythm and challenge is vastly different, and the pulsing possibility of the future is ever before my waking eyes.

Reading assignments and multiple choice assignments can seem a bit frivolous.

There’s a world to be explored. Graduate applications to be filled out. Road trips to be gone on.

 DREAMS TO BE DREAMED!

I’m being a bit dramatic. But, you get my point. Perhaps you’ve felt the same.

I’ve heard this sort of sentiment from some of my fellow Seniors. Indeed, preoccupation with the future and dis-interest in our present educational experience seems to be a theme with many college students. This, however, has gotten me to think about how I want to live my last semester, and how I want to engage with my education.

And how I’m going to motivate myself to complete the multitudinous reading charts, worksheets, and surveys I have recently been assigned.

So, below I have compiled a list of reasons for doing homework, engaging in classes, and battling off to old foe of Senioritis.

So, without further ado….

8 Reasons you should do your homework.

1. You are Privileged:

Did you know that 775 million adults are illiterate? And 500 million of that number are women? On Wednesday, I was speaking with an old spiritual director of mine and she was telling me about some work she had been doing in Kenya. She said that in Kenya most students are not able to progress in school past 8th grade. 8th Grade. This creates a cycle of poverty because to obtain opportunities that might lift individuals from poverty, they would need further education which they cannot get because they are too poor to afford it, and must work to support their families.

And I don’t want to do my reading for class.

Thinking about this could seem like a guilt trip, but I don’t like to think of it that way. Rather, it puts into context for me the incredible gift of education. Education liberates, empowers, broadens perspective, and edifies. Education has the power to make a difference between poverty and opportunity. Often, I think we think of college as a mandatory post-highschool pre-real life intermediary step, but let us never let the beauty and honor of education grow old to us. The fact that I (and you!) can get an education, and spend years of our lives devoted to studying and being mentored, being exposed to ideas, books, stories, theories and concepts is a gift that many people around the world can’t even begin to imagine.

Let us not waste this gift.

I, by no merit of my own, have been given the gift of education. It seems to me a pretty good reason to take my college career seriously, think about how I can give this gift to others, to get the most out of it that I can, and to be faithful with the gift I’ve been given. Today, that could simply mean completing my reading assignment and realizing that my “homework problem” is a sign of the incredibly privileged life I am allowed to live.

2. It will improve your GPA:

Let’s talk pragmatics:

If you do your homework, you will probably get a better grade in the class.

This will probably increase your GPA.

If you get a better GPA, it will be easier for you to do exciting things in the future without the hindrance of a cringeable GPA.

It’s easy. It helps. Just do it.

Keep Calm

3. You will probably learn something:

Math and I have never been friends. In most things I am pretty quick to adapt. Give me paper; I can write. Give me music; I can sing. Give me books; I can read. Give me calculators; I can cry.

I took a condensed Math course over this interterm. That meant that not only did I get to do math, but I got to do a LOT of it, in a verrrryyy short amount of time. Algebra one day and trigonometry the next! Wohoo!!!! (please read the sarcasm in this statement.)

But, you know what? I learned a lot from that class. The professor was hilarious, engaging, and understanding. I realized that he knew that most of the people in his class weren’t math people, and he was okay with that. He just wanted us to be exposed to the order and beauty he saw in math for one class, even if we never used that sort of math again.

He’s great. Also, he has a Youtube channel with hilarious pranks he plays on his students. Check this out:

Through that class I learned that the only thing that will keep you from learning is an attitude which assumes you will not learn anything. When I complain, I shut down the possibility of learning because I assume it’s not possible. However, if you honestly engage your mind with a subject, you are bound to learn. Even if you profoundly disagree with the professor! Engaging your mind means you will be wrestling with new thoughts, trying out arguments, and yes, even learning.

Again, it is helpful to remember: learning is a gift.

Senioritis

4. You probably paid a lot of money for this class:

The fact of the matter is this: Whether from your own pocket, the pocket of your parents, or the pocket of scholarship foundations galore, your education is one of the most valuable and expensive commodities. Why waste all those hard earned dollars not doing well? It nothing else, let that money go towards a good grade, a more educated mind, and a semester of learning.

5. Because you could be influential in shaping education:

We have all had a bad class. It is a reality of college education. In these classes it is easy to check out and shake our fist at the system. However, what I’ve come to realize is that if I disengage, the system which created the shoddy learning environment I encountered will continue. If you do not like elements of your education the best thing to do is to be involved in changing it. Talk to the professor, fill out evaluations of the course, raise awareness for ways you think it would be more beneficial to learn by. If you don’t like what you are getting in your education, then be a part of changing it.

6. It will impact your integrity:

How you are acting today determines who you will be tomorrow. This is not a selective reality; I cannot pick and choose which areas of my life will determine who I will be because they are all shaping and making me.

Jesus’ words are true: “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

This moment, this assignment, this professor. How I take hold of, respond to, faithfully own these situations will determine who I will become. Because of this, even if I find a class frustrating or inane, being faithful and working hard in the class is a matter of my own integrity and thus I should put my heart into it.

7. You owe it to your professors:

Professors are some of the most under appreciated people. It is easy to criticize teaching habits, unreasonable assignments, and boring lectures without remembering that professors spend an incredible amount of time and effort without a great deal of compensation to invest in your education. The paper that you spend all weekend writing, they spend all weekend grading. It is motivating to me to recognize and honor the work professors put into my education, and in turn doing my best to use the tools they give me well.

Senioritis1

8. Ultimately, YOU are responsible for your own education:

The old maxim has been tried and found true: what you put in is what you will get out. No matter what the class, whether that is at a community college, a private university, or Oxford University, you have the ability to invest your mind, do research, invest time and come out having grown as a person. You also have the ability to learn nothing. I firmly believe that I could have emerged from Oxford learning very little if I had chosen to not invest my heart and mind in growing.

As the ever pithy Mark Twain notes: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

What this quote made realize is: I am the one responsible for my own education. I cannot blame a professor, a university, or a political leader for my apathy. For me, if I feel like I’m not being challenged by a class, rather than complaining about how easy it is or how exasperating the homework is, I want to invest further in reading, growing and challenging myself. Why wait for someone else to challenge me? In the words of my Mama’s new book… Own your life!

So, with that, I’m off to Lunch and homework!

Good luck, my friends!

Here’s to quickly rising word counts and spiritual gifts of speed reading.

Just remember: Education is a gift.

Peace out!

Joyness

Advertisements

His Countenance Upon Us

Saturday Croissant

I’ve always thought Nathaniel’s first reaction to Jesus a bit over the top. Jesus walks up to him and says “Nathaniel! Behold a man without guile. I saw you under the tree.” To which Nathanael emphatically replies “Rabi! You are the son of God! The King of Israel!” I have always thought this was a sudden turn, an outburst of enthusiasm. Jesus’ statement was strong, but surely Nathanael’s response was a bit disproportionate. We can’t go around declaring people the Son of God every time they see us sitting under trees.

On Saturday, Elena and I went out to a coffee shop for croissants and coffee. While in Oxford, my sister and I would do this every Saturday: sip and talk and people watch. I miss her, and I’m also glad for my Elena friend. I indulged in a delicious flat white, which is a delightful espresso beverage I discovered in England and have been missing since I left. Starbucks thinks they serve flat whites; they sit on a throne of lies.

The coffee shop we went to has to be the most hipster place I’ve ever been. It’s tucked in a building with tall ceilings on a corner in Hollywood. On a Saturday like this last one, there are great lines of people lined up to get their coffee which is made of equal parts pretentiousness and deliciousness; I can’t complain. All of the male Baristas have beards and smart looking vests. The girls have artistic looking tattoos and thick cut fringes in their hair. All the customers look like they should have their own TV shows, novels, or comic strips. Shapes, sizes, colors, bouncy curls, stringy strands, smiles, frowns. They are a diverse and beautiful bunch. So much to look at. So much to see.

In that crowd was a woman with red shoes and sadness written in the lines of her eyes.

Elena had claimed a table and was staking it out while I got the joe and grub (can one appropriately call a flatwhite “joe” and a croissant “grub”? I don’t know. Oh well). I finally returned, triumphant and eager to begin getting powdered sugar all over myself from the delicious almond croissant I had procured. For a few moments we savored our sumptuous feast and held relaxed conversations to the rhythm of the morning. Then, we felt her.

The table we were sitting at was outside and wedged up beside a long stair case. She sat down there. She wore an oversized black sweatshirt, a black beanie to match, and bright red shoes which were disharmonious with the rest of her dark appearance. Her face was drawn and pale and obscured by pieces of hair rebelliously emerging from the black beanie. Her eyes looked sad, but they looked like they could be happy, like they had been happy before. After sitting down quietly, she set down her small but stuffed bag, and stared steadily at a spot on the pavement. Occasionally, she pulled her long sleeves over her hands as if to stay warm; it was 80 degrees.

I say we felt her, rather than saw her because her presence brought such a sense of sadness and heaviness that as soon as she sat, Elena and I shared glances. I felt uncomfortable, not because of her presence, but because I couldn’t decide what to do. Being my extraverted, bold, and sometimes awkward self, I ventured to tell her that I liked her shoes. Sometimes my mouth runs faster than my brain. It was the best I could think of, okay?

She turned and smiled at me and said thanks. Her eyes could break you in half. So soft, motherly, and worn thin.

Elena and I shared a glance again.

“Are you alright?” I asked.

She turned her head away slowly, almost peacefully, and did not respond. A few minutes later she stood up, shifted her bag on her shoulder, and left.

The day went on, and was a good one, but her presence stuck with me. Her sadness was palpable. It made me feel a bit helpless. I wished I could have done something, said something, been something for her. I wished I could have known her story. As I went about my day I prayed for her. I wondered who else would see her, I wondered if she knew she was worth seeing.

That place was so full of people to see. Elena and I sat there and imagined novels we could write about them all. But in the plethora of people, there is also a possibility of anonymity. The possibility of sitting on the steps, and of leaving un-seen, or at least unknown.

I think so much of life is in the desire and action of seeing and knowing. As flashes of the image of the woman with the red shoes came through my mind that day, I was reminded of my own desires to be seen and known. There have been moments where I wondered if anyone could understand the world in my head and heart, and wondered indeed if I really understood it myself.  My own moments of this are so often caught in the net of my beloved ones, but they are there, I think, experiences that beat at the heart of what it is to be a fallen human in a broken world.

It’s funny though. I think as much as we all desire to be seen, we also work hard to have only parts of us seen. We want to be known, but fear people knowing everything. What if someone knew every rude thought I had? Or the silly insecurities? Could they still love me in my sin and silliness?

So, we draw em’ in, we drive em’ out. It’s a dance. It’s a bit silly. Humans are complicated.

I think that’s why Nathanael reacted so strongly to Jesus. Jesus saw him; he was under the tree. But Jesus also knew him: he was an Israelite without deceit. I’ve always wandered what it was Nathanael was doing. Either way, the fact remains: Jesus saw and knew, and for whatever reason, Nathanael responded in worship.

This happens again and again in the gospels. The woman at the well, the man at the pool of Bethesda, the Paralytic, Mary and Martha. Someday, search through the gospels, especially John, and notice every time it says Jesus sees someone, and notice his reaction to seeing them and their reaction to seeing Him: repentance, restoration, love.

Throughout the gospels there is a consistent ministry of seeing. But when Jesus sees, there is no hiding. When Jesus sees, there is no halfhearted dance of hiding and hello-ing. Jesus sees and He sees all. I think that is why so often when people realize Jesus can see them, they respond as Peter did, saying “depart from me! I am a sinful man!” Or, as Isaiah “I am a man of unclean lips from a people with unclean lips.”

But, when Jesus sees it never ends there.

I find that often, when I begin learning something in my life, it crops up again and again. For example, yesterday in Church, the visiting pastor talked about Jesus seeing Peter for the first time, Peter’s confession of sin, and Jesus’ reaction.

“Behold! I say that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not overpower it.”

What unexpected words to a confession of sin. But, as the speaker pointed out, to be seen by Jesus is to be seen not only for what we are, but for who we could be, who we were, and for the people we were created to be. When Jesus’ looks at us he sees all that is there. ALL of it, and yet, he calls out the possibility in us because He loves us.

Did you know that the same word is used when Jesus first looks at Peter to recruit him to ministry as when he looks at Peter after he has denied him? Well, I didn’t. Jesus saw Peter when he declared him to be the rock upon which he would build his church, and he saw Peter when he denied even knowing him three times. The speaker pointed out that both of those moments of “seeing” led to redemption. In the moment of Peter’s greatest failure, Jesus did not look away, but towards him.

I think that when God sees us, we are able to truly begin to see ourselves. When God sees us, it restores and makes beautiful. When God sees us, He loves us. Oh, I want to say it again to pound it into my brain. When God sees us, yes, he sees the sin and the mistakes, but overwhelmingly in scripture I perceive that he loves us. His seeing is born of loving and leads to redemption.

When I think of the woman with the red shoes, I pray for her and I trust her to the God that sees her. The same God that sees the strange styles of the Hollywood heroes at the coffee shop, and my own out of place hairs, and the sins and strengths of all of us in between. He sees us and He loves us. May I, may we, like Nathanael let that knowledge lead us to say “Rabi, you are the Son of God.” May his knowledge of us lead love of him.

Well, I’ve rambled enough, and I’m off to my last first day of college classes. But, in signing off let me leave you with what I read this morning: the oldest known text of scripture.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.

The Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.

May we know what it is that He sees us, and that his countenance is upon us.

Love,

Joyness

  

Sunrises, Highrises and Cathedrals.

Looking up in Bath Abbey.

Looking up in Bath Abbey.

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Somedays when I sit and watch the city lights, and the cars rush by my window, I am drawn back to vivid memories of England. This is one of those nights.

Is there anything as transfixing as a the light in a cathedral? This fall I visited Bath Abbey Cathedral. As I entered, the hush and reverence of the place demanded my attention. As the light descended from the high rafters, it brought gentle beams and shadows to all it touched. Pews, memorial stones, and chipped old angels alike were illuminated by baptism from the noon sun pouring through the high ceilings.

Ah. I can see it in my mind so clearly.

What I learned on that trip is that most medieval towns are built in orientation to the phases of the sun throughout the year. The front and the back of a town face East and West, so that the streets run the course of the sun in her sky throughout the day and year. They did this to maximize warmth and light in the winter months and to track the seasons. In a world devoid of fluorescent lights and radiators, people shaped their lives around the sun and the seasons, counting on their light and warmth to bring them once again from winter to summer. 

Cathedrals were built the same way, but with an added meaning. The front and altar of a cathedral always faces due east in expectation of the sunrise. This points to the hope of Christ’s return. A physical reminder of Peter’s of what Peter describes as “a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

The light shining through Jesus with the little Children.

The light shining through Jesus with the little Children.

I think the effect of this orientation to the sun and seasons is a pervading attitude of expectation. When your town is oriented around the seasons, your life is shaped by their ancient dance. There is a constant sense of connection with the rhythms of God’s green earth. You wait in hope for the rising of the sun to set you working; you wait in expectation for the sunset which brings rest. You wait in eager expectation of seasons, and their temperamental beauty as they wax and wane. And beneath it all, you have a sense of cosmic waiting…. for something, or someone to enter the glorious rhythm.

Implicit in the architecture I experienced in England is that nature means something. If it didn’t, why would they pay it any mind when building things? Sometimes it could seem it argues for nothing more than the influence of nature in the weather. But, deeper down, I think the orientation towards the rhythm of the sun and seasons reveals an implicit belief in a meaningful rhythm of life, one which made me think of life and death, hope and rebirth every time I walked to my lectures.

It’s not quite like that in California.

Most buildings here seem impervious to the sun doing anything other than shining generally somewhere in the sky. Buildings, at least where I am, stand in neat little lines, facing neither east nor west, obstinately immune to the change of light or season. It’s as if the buildings are built to look away from nature, and to say, “Nothing to see here! No meaning! Turn on your indoor light.”

The orientation of buildings here seems to be inward. We create our own light. We control our own temperature. Consequently, it seems the subtle indication is that meaning can only be found within our encapsulated worlds.

Oddly, I think the architecture effects me. When I first returned, I had a strange sense of greyness and loss of color. There was some vibrancy missing, and some rhythm that was not present. It even effected my praying. And,  I realized that I think at least part of it was the switch of scenery, and most of all, the switch of orientation towards nature.

At this point, you may think I’m crazy. Rambling on about buildings and sunshine and rhythms. But, truly, contemplating this has made me realize something deeper. It’s made me realize how profoundly effected we are by the way we face the world, and the way we orient ourselves. In Oxford, from the architecture to the malfunctioning heaters, I faced the world in expectation of light and dark, warmth and cold, and because of that, I saw meaning in it all. It wasn’t imposed, it was just there. And that sense of expectation extended into my spiritual life; as I anticipated the seasonal changes, and the light and dark of day and night, I intuitively had a sense of expectation for God. Beneath the flux and change, there was a sense of the reason for it all. Just as I intuitively was led to see meaning in the changing of the seasons, I was intuitively sensitive to God’s work, and his presence in all things.

Where I live in California, I have to purposefully reorient myself to maintain that view of the world. It seems that many things here are desacralized. With concrete and highrises, it seems its often easy to turn an eye away from any meaningful beauty in nature. And if you don’t expect nature to mean anything, it seems you lose an expectation that God will mean anything through it.

Our orientation to life, the way we face, determines what we see.

On my third day back, after diving into two condensed classes, I felt the need to feel sand in my toes. I peaked my head out the door of my room.

“Elena! Do you want to quit what we’re doing and go to the beach?”

Elena is an ever countable onable adventure partner. So jumped in the car and made our way to the beach. We parked, and scrambled down a sandy staircase to the shore. We breathed in the salty air and smiled at eachother; this was a good idea.

While we were there, the sun set. I won’t even try to put into words what it was like. It was glory.

IMG_4961

As we sat in silent awe, I was struck by something. Beside us, and crawling around on the outcropping of rocks were about a dozen other people, all come to see the same thing we had. To wait for the glory of the setting sun. On the hill behind me, there were hundreds of houses, their optimistic faces pointed due west. This place was expectant.

Even in the land of freeways and highrises, at the ocean, everyone stopped and stared and waited. Just as in Old Bath Abbey, we were baptized with the red light shooting across the water.

An anemone we found.

An anemone we found.

Today, as I finish writing this, I am on to a day of research for paper due tomorrow. I will be holed up in lovely little room. But even today, I want to live in expectation. I want to shape my life on the rhythm’s of prayer, seasons, and hopeful waiting. And, I want to see God’s fingers at work in every fallen snow and blooming flower; may I never let concrete disguise glory. I wish the same to you.

Happy Monday.

Joyness

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6

  

12 Thankful Months

New Year, new roads!

New Year, new roads!

Hello, World!

The fact that we have moved into a new year always ceases to truly hit me until at least two weeks after new years. After a mid-night chinking of glasses, a across country road trip, and a swan dive into two condensed college classes, I have finally found myself staring at the new year with my hands on my hips and hopes in my heart! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that this year is divisible by five. I think that bodes well for the upcoming year.

I think in looking to the future, there is nothing more fitting or beneficial than pausing to give thanks for what has passed. I was recently challenged by a friend to publish a 2014 thankfulness vlog/blog (here’s that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZS_XLoRcEI&list=UU207ogiNxzQFvbBSf2aQtIQ), to remember one thing I was thankful for each month. I liked that idea a lot. And so I did! Doing so helped me re-live moments of my year, remember its flavor and its mountains and valleys.

So, here is my list! I would love to see yours! If you have a blog, vlog, or other media sharing conduit, please do share in the thankfulness.

Also, before I begin, let it be noted that I have not included specific people in my list of thankfulness. If I included the people I’m thankful for, it would dominate this list and several more. I would not be who I am without Parents who have my back, siblings by my side, and friends in my heart. Let that be the song that sings through all my thankfulness.

And, then, without further ado….

Twelve Thankful Months:

  1. January: Zoom out Adventures.

This time last year, I was taking two condensed classes (much like I am this year!). I had one class from 8:00-11:45 and another from 2:00-9:00, and when I wasn’t in class I was reading/writing/preparing for class. One night while staring at my computer screen waiting for words to appear there for a 2,000 word paper due in two days, I suddenly was gripped with the desire for an adventure. I (as dramatically as possible) pushed my desk chair back, grabbed a sweater, and called my friend Kate.

“Kate!” I said, “I think I’m going crazy. I need to go on an adventure. Let’s go to the beach.”

So we did!

First, we got helplessly lost on the California freeways. After about 20 stop lights, a few peeved California drivers (let’s be real… most of them are peeved most of the time), and a bounty of laughter, we ended up being the only customers in a small French cafe in San Juan Capistrano. We ate crepes, commented on the decor and then left to make our way down the corridor of quaint beach houses. Finally we found ourselves walking along the cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was vast and blue and there was no one else there. I breathed in the sweet salty air as it crept up the sides of the sandy hills. It cleared my lungs and my heart.

In between laughter and deep conversations, we made our way down the sandy bank and walked along the shore till our toes were numb from contact with the cold packed sand. In an unusual turn of events for Southern California, we could see the stars. As we delighted in all the smells, textures, and sights that the evening could offer, my checklist of to-do’s and my 2,000 words seemed very small and almost unreal.

That night, we saw a shooting star. I’m a firm believer in shooting stars, so I wished on it.

“God, I wish for a year of breathtaking adventures.”

It was a bold wish, but it came true. This year, beginning with that night, has been a year of being confronted with beauty and adventures that have taken me outside of myself and my sphere of control. From San Juan Capistrano to Dublin, it has been a year of adventures that have made me realize how small I really am, and how breathtaking this world we live in truly is.

I’m thankful for that.

  1. February: Soul Tilling

February was a bit of trying month for me. I felt like my life was a boxing match in which I would get thwacked in the face, and stand up triumphantly as if to say “LOOK! I am not beaten!” only to catch another left jab. Perhaps you have had months like that.

In retrospect, though, I am truly thankful for that time. In that month, life took a lot of my well settled soul and dug it up, turned it over, and shook it out. It was not very comfortable, but the result was that I felt softer, more open to God’s work in my life. I could say much more, but perhaps that is enough.

  1. March: Being and RA

I think I could write a whole blog article, nay! Book about what I learned from being an RA. From event planning to interpersonal skills, it stretched and challenged me in a way that few other things in my life have. But perhaps the sweetest thing about being an RA was the girls. I left that place being so blessed by the faces and stories I got to encounter in my time at the dorm. When I think of it, I smile. I’m glad to be back to see them all.

4.April: Coffee Shops

Starting in March and fully established in April, I created a habit of taking myself on a coffee date every Friday to soul-center, contemplate my existence, and stare at hipster pictures whilst sipping lattes. It’s a great practice and I highly recommend it. It also made me quite glad for special places with good music and classy coffee. In California, my favorite place is called the Night Owl. That may or may not (read: it does) have something to do with the fact that it is decorated with paintings and figurines of owls… the coffee is good too, I guess.

I am truly thankful for coffee shops. They provide such  unique environment to meet people, work, and be.

  1. May: Friends Around the World

After school ended Sarah came out and we hauled up and drove all over the Pacific Northwest visiting vistas and family friends. Everyplace we went were graciously accommodated by friends. It made me realize how lucky I am to have friends scattered across the continent and, indeed, the world. It blesses my soul to think of the web of love multi-location friendships create. Yay friends.

  1. June: Boredom

June was not very exciting. However, after a whirlwind semester of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, I found June slow but happy month, which was, in itself, its own kind of novelty. It was a blessed thing indeed to loll around the house, play the piano, have un-precedented amounts of teatimes with my mama, and heck! If I pleased, I could sit and watch a lady-bug crawl on my porch banister.

That’s more exciting than it sounds.

Truly, though. I believe I needed that time to rest, and be, and think. I think we move too quickly these days. We could all do to be a bit more bored.

  1. July: Job at a Coffee Shop

This past summer I had the immense pleasure of working part time at a coffee shop. It was a delight. From regular customers, to the crazy stories I was told by un-caffeinated people, to the copious amounts of coffee I drank… it was a delight from end to finish. What would the social fabric of an American town be with a coffee shop to draw its many threads together?

  1. August: Books

My thankfulness for books is two-fold. Firstly, it is for the comfort, wisdom, and world they bring. Over the summer I got to read more than usual. In books, I find mentors and friends. Isn’t it amazing that we can sit and experience the thoughts of someone who lived many generations before us? Secondly, I am thankful for the community books create. This summer I attended the CS Lewis Conference in Oxford and Cambridge. Aside from the fact that it was in one of the most delightful places in the world, I was struck by the fact that Lewis’ books had created a community of likeminded people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. And that is something to be glad of heart for!

  1. September: OXFORD!!!!!!!!!!

I would remark on this, but….

Just read my past 5 months of posts.

  1. October: My Sister being in England!

I know I said I wouldn’t say people, but this is more of a thankfulness for the Sarah-en-dipity (heh heh… heh) of circumstances culminating in Sarah and I getting to be in Oxford at the same time. It truly was a delight of delights to have my dearest sister by my side in one of the funnest adventures of my life. The stars aligned and God kissed my wishes.

  1. November: Writing Papers:

The amount we got to write in Oxford was one of my greatest delights. It was exhausting, stretching, and sometimes painstaking. What was wonderful about it, however, was the space it cut out in your life to think deeply about very impactful topics. To research and parse through ideas, and finally to shape your own thoughts on the matter was one of the greatest gifts of my time there. Few other activities afford such an opportunity to stop, think, test, and come to steady ways of thinking about topics in life. I’m thankful for that.

  1. December: Snow

After getting back to Colorado, I was flung into the hurry and scurry, and hurry up and calm down of the holidays and seeing my family and people I love. Whether whispering late into the night with my sister, or sipping tea in my pajamas and talking about life with my mama, or going out to see friends, snow seemed to set the stage for every precious moment. I haven’t really been around snow for nearly  two and a half years; I had forgotten its wonders. It is soft and crisp. Cold and new. It brings with it a peace, and also a sense of the ever changing seasons. When it snowed, it reminded me of the rhythm of the earth, set into motion by the great Pied Piper, which I dance to with the rest of the world. It reminds me that I am not in control of the seasons of my life but God is, and He is the God of the magnificent power of nature, and the God of tiny snow flakes, like intricate lace, all unique. I can trust my life to a God who makes snowflakes.

Well, there they are! Rambly and reminiscent as can be. I am thankful. I am most full of thanks and gladness for 2014. Now let’s see what this new year holds.

Circles and Lines

Our beautiful drive through the San Andres mountains.

Our beautiful drive through the San Andres mountains.

I’m back in California.

My brother is a gem and a brick, and graciously helped drive me and a trunk full of my worldly possessions accross the wild wild west. We laughed, listened to Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrel, and ate a copious amount of skittles and pringles. What else are road trips for?

Yesterday we woke early and drove into the stark and striking landscape of Arizona. The road stretched out on the otherwise untouched land like an old scab on the skin on the western visage. We listened to swelling violins sing from my cars old stereo and sipped our much needed coffee as we sped down the road. Have you ever thought about how crazy it is that we can sit in a metal box (aka car) and whiz eighty miles per hour down the freeway? I have. And I think it’s wild.

As sun crept higher in the sky, burning off the pink morning light, I was struck with how many places my feet have touched in the last while. In the last three weeks, my feet have stood on British cobblestones, Colorado snow, New Mexico clay, Arizona dust, Nevada asphalt, and California concrete. Sometimes it feels like no sooner have my feet hit the ground somewhere that I love, that my feet are set running to the next location. Whether it is Oxford, Christmas break, or a graduating semester, there is always something, a beckoning on, that pulls me to the next place and the next path. Lately, I often find myself humming the words of Tolkien’s famous poem:

“The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can…”

And I will follow if I can.

So there I was, following again the push and pull of life’s road.

An hour into our drive, we drove under a bridge with a large sign marked “Parks Road.”

In Oxford I walked on Parks Road every day; it was the road to the library, so the road and I became great friends. I tromped down those streets the first week, with the trees hanging with leaves as green as I was when I first went to get my first book out of the Bodleian. I walked along as the path turned gold with withering leaves and autumnal light. I walked along that path as the sky turned gray, squishing the decomposing leaves beneath my booted feet as the leaves returned to the ground from which they came. To walk there was to feel the rhythm of nature pulsing beneath your feet, the growing the dying, the rebirth.

I thought of that as we passed under the bridge marked “Park Roads.” I looked down the road leading off the bridge and it stretched on and on to a disappearing point. Those two Parks Roads are so different. One stretching on like a line in a graph to who-knows-where and eternity. As I intersect with it, I am reminded of my smallness, and my encounter with eternity, as time stretches out from me to the past and the future. The other road reminds me of the eternal cadence of life. Birthing and growing. Coming and going. Living and Dying.

The roads are different, but they both seem to embody my experience of life.

I think life is a mixture of circles and lines.

Like Parks Road in Oxford, life is full of cycles and the things we return to. No matter where I roam, I carry people in my heart whom I will always return to. I leave, but I always return. There are seasons of life as regular as the changing leaves on Parks road. That is comforting.

But life is also a line, stretching out where we can’t see. As I peer down the end of my life’s line, I find it too has a disappearing point. Life after graduation lies just beyond my line of vision, and it fills me with a sense of excitement. Life has been beautiful and God has been good thus far, so I look to the future with hopeful expectation. As Proverbs says, I smile at the future.

And yet, there is sometimes a sense of unease in the unknown. Where will this road lead? Where will this next circle lead me back to? And, perhaps at the bottom of it all, where will I belong in the end?

photo 2 (1)

He sings, he drives across country to help you, he loves God… Ladies, take note.

7 hours, 4 stops, and many miles later. Joel and I pulled up to my new apartment. Elena, my old roommate, looked up at the black and white building. I had no idea what it would be like. After talking to housing, the women gave me a selection of apartments, and I practically closed my eyes and pointed my finger at an apartment number. I suppose you could say this was a very small part of the vanishing point in the road I couldn’t see. Two girls (who were both currently home for break) already lived there.

As I opened the door I was greeted with a lovely living room, christmas lights smiling from above a comfy couch, Van Gogh prints hanging classily on the wall, and, perhaps most amusing of all, a British flag.

On the wall in front of the door to my room, there was a lovely painting hanging with the words “Be filled with Joy.” I laughed to myself.

The prophecy is fulfilled. I thought. I have arrived.

photo 1 (1)

I think God has a great sense of humour. It’s one of my favorite things about Him; where I find His work, I find laughter. It was a small thing, but as I settled in, I was thankful for that sign. It was like a humorous little reminder that wherever I go, God is watching and caring for me. I reminded me that I am, as Psalm 139 says, hemmed in before and behind by the loving hand of God. There is no where I can go that He is not with me. His love is in the force that pulls me down the road, and gives life to the rhythm of life. He’s in the circles and the lines. I don’t know where they’ll lead, but I shall follow if I can.

What an adventure life is.

And with that, I’m off to the very adventurous task of buying flour and sugar with Elena. I wish you all well with the circles and lines of life.

So long.

Joyness.

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way,

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.