I am not sure if they even make the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books anymore but, I have been dreaming about them lately. The tension would build as I slowly turned the pages, and when I reached a page in which I was required to make a choice, I would choose one without imagining the possible consequences of said choice. Most of the time, I would choose the path that would lead to my character dying or being held prisoner, and while I could always go back and choose the other option, I knew life would not be so kind. There are only four weeks left of this semester and I know the power of my choices will determine how I finish this wonderfully challenging spring as well as what comes next for me. So why should this matter to you? Some of you are freshman and are experiencing this final push for the first time. Some of you are old hats by now and yet still fall prey to stress (mostly self-induced) during the last four weeks. Each tick of the hand on my watch reminds me I have a choice to make. Each breath, each inhale, and each exhale remind me I need to decide what comes next. Life is nothing but choices. Should I take this class or that one? Should I watch this or turn off all technology? Should I let stress ruin my life or do I take five minutes to scream and let all of it out? Should I spend time in worship or sleep? Should I stay at the library for twelve hours or do I go to dinner with friends? I propose that we start making choices that push us out of our comfort zone. That each decision we make in the final weeks not only challenge us to grow but also shape our walk, our voice, and our work. We can choose to shine. We can choose to ask more questions in order to better understand someone else’s viewpoint. We can choose to stop watching Netflix (I know how hard this is) and instead choose to help a friend proofread his or her research paper. Time is flying. And we must choose to do something. I propose that we begin to deepen our relationships with friends, family, and God. We are blessed to be on a campus committed to service and relationships. We could reach out to someone we don’t know and make a new friend. Take time to thank those who we often take for granted, like the staff in Stevens or in our individual departments. I say we choose to celebrate our fantastic staff in the Den and the Bon. Especially now as Easter Sunday has been recently celebrated, it is important to remember we have the free will to choose how we live and love. Christ died for each of us. He made a decision to sacrifice himself for the entire world. His death and resurrection allows us to move towards Him without the shackles of this world. I admit my decisions have not always been wise; however, I realize the importance of each moment and I want to choose paths that not only bring me closer to God but allow me to pour into others. So instead of binge watching my favorite shows, I get to work on three really challenging papers this weekend. And I choose to remember that one man’s sacrifice allows me a chance to help others by serving. When I make choices that serve myself, I am not helping anyone, especially me. I encourage you to consider your choices during the next four weeks. Are you choosing to lean in to the chaos or are you choosing to avoid it? There are so many people rooting for you to succeed. Don’t let the weight of the work weigh you down. Instead, choose to remember that each moment is a gift in which we learn and grow but also a chance to honor Christ’s sacrifice by choosing to do things that encourage others.
April 21, 2015You sit at your desk, notes in clammy hands, breaths shaky. The professor calls your name. This is it. You slide out from your desk and meekly make your way to the front of the class—to the podium. You stare out into a room full of faces staring blankly back. You then stare down at your notes and wonder why none of them make any sense. But this is a communications class. You have to start talking at some point. If this ranks up among Falling Into Shark-Infested Waters and Being Chased by Flying Monkeys as one of your worst nightmares, then you might be interested in the following fun fact: Acting I can act as an alternative course to Introduction to Communication in fulfilling your communication requirement. Wait, you might say. Acting is pretty scary, too! Before you have flashbacks of your stage fright in the third-grade school play, let’s talk about Acting I. Acting I—THEA 100—is purely the basics of acting. It’s not Shakespeare. It is just the fundamentals, the building blocks. No one is expected to be able to stand up and recite a soliloquy on the first day of class—in fact, you might not even pick up a script for the first month or so. You will be focusing instead on movement, on how to respond to others, on how to draw from your own life experiences in order to make the most out of your characters and scenes. Expect some stretches; expect some running around the theatre (maybe even a game of tag). An “A” in Acting I isn’t based on whether your final scene performance could win you an Oscar. It’s not based on whether you end up changing your major to theatre. It’s based on your willingness to explore the world around you and the world inside you: skills that you can pack up and carry with you as you move through Fox and into the “real” world, no matter what career path you end up on. So if you’re still waiting on that Comm credit, consider taking the stage instead of the podium. It might not be as scary as you think.
April 8, 2015Getting your M.R.S. degree. Ring by spring. As members of a small Christian college, we’ve heard it all. And sure, we might make fun of the fact that 150 of our Facebook friends got engaged over Christmas break, but let’s face it: consciously or unconsciously, many of us are more affected by the ring/spring thing than we’d care to admit. So when it comes to friendships with the opposite sex—like actual “just friends” friendships—things have the potential to get a little complicated when other friends are watching, especially when those friends may be well on their way to getting M.R.S. degrees of their own. Not that you care at all what people think of you—of course not—but in case the haters are getting you down, here are some foolproof ways to ensure your platonic friendship will be viewed in just that way. Personal Space –Lots of It When you are walking with a friend of the opposite sex, always make sure there is at least three feet of personal space separating the two of you. Any closer, and people might start to talk: Who’s that you were walking with? You guys sure seemed friendly! I mean, you were both smiling! Ideally, at least one of you should make sure that your arms are folded or holding onto your backpack straps—just so there is NO chance someone across the quad could think you’re holding hands. No Texting Better play it safe: don’t text any of your so-called “platonic” friends. Because if your roommate looks over and sees your phone screen light up with a message that’s any longer than an “OK”…you’ll have some explaining to do. (This rule also applies to Snapchat, Facebook messaging, etc.) Study Groups: Dos and Don’ts When studying with a friend of the opposite sex, always ensure that you are studying in a group of at least three people, and at a big table. Otherwise, there’s the potential of appearing like you’re on an awkward library date. And that is an impression no one wants to give. Hopefully, with study and application, these three tips can serve as the kick-off for a semester free of roommate interrogations and teasing!
April 8, 2015If you’re like me, your mind constantly races off in a million directions. As you sit in Physics of Everyday Life, you worry about your Bible Survey homework. As you sit in Bible Survey, you open an email from your Lifelong Fitness professor about your nutrition logs. As you sit in your room working on your nutrition logs, you can’t help wondering if you’ll have enough time to finish your physics lab write-up. This is college: also known as multitasking. The great juggling act in which we all find ourselves participating can be fun. At a liberal arts institution, we have the incredible opportunity to take multiple classes in vastly different disciplines. We can balance out lab or lecture-heavy schedules with ceramics or yoga or U.S. history. Extra-curricular activities beckon to us from brightly-colored posters hung up around campus. The chances to learn, to be involved, to “be known,” are many. But even though we may feel involved or “known,” how much are we actually learning? When you start to think of class time as a valuable opportunity in which to check up or catch up on work for other classes—and when you will do the same thing when you get to those classes—something seems a little off. In attempting to juggle classes, homework, assignments, maybe a club or work-study job, we are losing the chance to focus. When you’re sending ten different objects looping through the air above your head, it is impossible to watch one of them intently without the others falling down. This is perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of the liberal arts experience: the fact that we can only spend x amount of time working on something that truly interests and excites us before everything else comes crashing down in a wave of impending deadlines and projects. But what can we do? When multitasking is such a fundamental piece of the college experience, can that piece be altered without upsetting the whole? Maybe change can start with us. Maybe instead of standing out on the quad with signs reading “NO MORE BUSYWORK OR BUST,” we can close our laptops in class and try to quiet the voice that tells us to check our email or work on other assignments. We can ask questions, scribble down notes, and rest in the knowledge that we are not superhuman. We will make mistakes; we will let some things slide; we will forget about that one FoxTale quiz. But at the end of the day, as we pack up our backpacks and head out of a lecture or a lab or a club meeting, we will hopefully have learned.
March 30, 2015I love competitive sports. I am a huge hockey, soccer, basketball, football, and baseball fan. However, my “spirit” gets a little frenzied at times so I try to keep away from all games. I have been known to wear out a carpet from my pacing back and forth or to lose my voice for yelling at players who can’t even hear me. So when I asked my sister to attend my first ever sporting event at George Fox University with me, she was understandably a little hesitant. Katie has witnessed my roller coaster of emotions during a game and knows how intense I can get. After promising her I would be on my best behavior, she agreed to attend the first round of the NCAA III women’s game featuring our undefeated Bruins! Here are a few things I realized while at my first game. My sister had to pay to get in. We had to walk back to the Den just to get cash out. I could tell my sister was annoyed but I told her it would all be worth it because GFU students were supposed to be so loud and so full of spirit that she would forget our detour. The student section is on the right side of the gym. I still yell. Loudly. The Penn St. team loves to chant “Defense.” Our football players love to begin chants. Unfortunately, the chants never really caught on. Spiderman is a GFU student. I love hollering “THREE!” The Bruins are fearless and refuse to rest until the final buzzer. The Bruin cheerleaders have basket tosses for specific songs. Blueberry (our mascot) has longer arms than the Bruin inside the costume. President Baker stands to the side of the court the entire game. There will still be fans who are disappointed that winning by 58 points was not enough for the Bruins. While my sister and I were impressed that GFU students stood the entire game (at least in the student section) we were disappointed that the “spirit” of a handful of students did not radiate through the gym. Overall, I had a blast. The Bruins are unforgiving and determined to win the championship. I have found my school spirit and I hope to be more involved in the wonderful teams we have on campus. What I would like to see is more spirit from all those in attendance. This game was huge and at times I could hear a penny drop. I was disappointed in the quietness. The “spirit” seemed to be occasional and generated mostly from a few students. I admit my opinion might seem harsh. However, I have been told that the student section is so loud that they infect the rest of the fans. Unfortunately, not even Blueberry could get people to stand up. It could be my age and my exposure to other mediums of fans. I have attended several of Chicago Bulls championship games and they were deafening. I have been to a dozen Timber and Winterhawks games and fans are loud and proud. I have watched hundreds of University of Kentucky basketball games and they taught me what “spirit’ sounds like—loud, nonstop cheering and encouragement. This is how I want the Bruins fans to sound. So why can’t all those in attendance for our undefeated team be louder? Why couldn’t they be more engaged? I would like to propose that the student “spirit” squad spread out. I believe our spirit, as students, will infect those in attendance and make each game even more exciting. One united voice can change the game, the pace, and the results. Go Bruins. I know you can do this! “I’ve got spirit. Yes, I do. I’ve got spirit, how about you?” And your reply is? ______________
March 16, 2015What I am about to say will make you cringe; however, I promise that what follows that cringe will bring a smile to your face. There are only 6 more weeks until finals. I know, I am evil just mentioning it. However, (here is the thing that will make you smile) I would like to propose that for finals (stop hating me) that Fox brings in therapy animals for students. (See, I made you smile.) This brilliant idea came from the wonderful Sidney Tafflinger, Career Coordinator in the IDEA Center. Why doesn’t Fox invest in something that helps students with the ultimate stress? I say we bring in llamas, horses, cats, and dogs on campus for the entire week. Not only will students feel less stressed, but the animals will receive unconditional love. I also purpose this becomes a regular event on campus. So many students experience feelings of anxiety and frustration during the terms. And while Fox does offer free counseling, students still struggle in asking for help. Asking for help is does not make one weak. In fact, seeking help makes one stronger. Not everyone believes in asking for help. Sometimes, Christians shame other Christians for being in a time of hardship. But here at Fox, we have the chance to encourage each individual to ask for help and to love others unconditionally. So back to having therapy animals on campus during finals. Who wouldn’t love to hug a llama or to brush a horse? Who wouldn’t love to play with cats and walk dogs? This is my own therapy dog, Ducky! Fox has money to make this happen. So I am asking you all to help me bring animals to campus in order to love on them and in turn, let them help heal us.
March 16, 2015I’m back. When I came home in December, the drive from the airport along I-5 was more beautiful than I remembered: so much sky, so many trees. And the mountains! And the big blue sky! I was thrilled to be home. But as time passed—as I settled back into the routines of home and school and friends and life in the Pacific Northwest—I realized a few not-so-good things about America. Being able to eat and drink in the library. Do not get me wrong. There is a significant part of me that utterly adores my current ability to take my Americano from Chapters into the library. Or the chance I now have to just eat from my bag of chips instead of performing a major stealth operation trying to sneak some out of my backpack without garnering the wrath of the librarians. But another part of me misses those books that were the reason we couldn’t eat in the library. I miss those cracked and faded volumes that weighed down your hands with their histories. I miss that reverence, that sacredness. Too much new stuff. Here in Newberg, I walk past houses with plaques that boast about being built in 1905, 1883. I still think that’s pretty cool. But now I also think of these plaques as a consistent reminder of just how new these United States are. When you spend some time in a country where the roads you drive on might have originally been built by Romans, that just happens. We are a baby country, still crawling. Our traditions, our culture: it simply cannot compare. The noise. It’s not just street noise. It’s the neon lights and traffic lights and bright billboards. The feeling that you’re constantly being talked to. I miss the quiet.
March 12, 2015The fall of anchorman Brian Williams reveals a how unforgiving we have become. I would like to think Williams spoke without listening to his exact wording. I know I have made mistakes in sharing my thoughts. There are many times when my mouth isn’t syncing with my brain, and unless someone catches my “blunders,” I may never notice them. So why were people quick to question everything Williams reported on? Why are people so quick to shame our mistakes? When did we forget that mistakes are how we grow and learn? We could blame social media. We could even blame the news cycle—the bias monster that it is. However, I believe the problem lies in the lack of empathy for making mistakes. Everyone makes errors. Those mistakes are what drive us to grow and learn, thereby, allowing one to become something better, bigger, and wiser. (I am not including crimes as mistakes.) Technology has morphed humans into isolated screen hogs. When I graduated from high school in 1994, we used computers for papers. We actually talked to our friends instead of texting. Our thoughts were deeper because we did not have 140 character limit in which to think. We did not worry about our social footprint haunting us for the rest of our lives and even from beyond the grave. However, toddlers today know how to work a smartphone before they learn the alphabet or how to even write the alphabet. This scares me. Don’t misunderstand, I am not a technophobe. I am just someone who has witnessed human interaction diminish in the last 25 years and a society in which every word you have ever muttered, wrote, or tweeted about will become what people think of you. But you are so much more than a silly posting. Another thing that scares me is the fact that self-proclaimed Christians sometimes jump on the band-wagon of shaming those who have stumbled. I hear it all the time. Aren’t we supposed to forgive and keep on forgiving? I do believe there should be personal accountability. However, the political correctness that has taken over this country doesn’t allow for that. I hear “blame the one before you” or “everyone is a winner.” Neither of these statement are correct. If you made a mistake, own it. If you lose a game, it is okay. We need to stop placating others. Williams messed up. I mess up. You mess up. When are we going to start forgiving and allowing an apology to be enough? When will our stumbles stop being the butt of late night talk shows? If we create a culture where mistakes are considered learning experiences, we will slowly restore human interaction and growth. So I dare you: put down your phones, turn off your laptops, and think about a time where you may have said something incorrectly. Did someone hold you above a bonfire and say, “Repent and all should be forgiven . . . well after we burn your image in effigy?” Have you ever done this to someone? Our culture breeds fame monsters and if those monsters aren’t always on a five second delay, they will eventually do something that will garner unwanted attention. Heck, they may even end up suspended or fired. So I propose we say goodbye to fame and hello to understanding. We should say goodbye to shaming and hello to forgiveness. We should be making mistakes every day because it is only then that we learn. Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing something; instead, figure out how and why something works and make it a habit of execution in your daily life. I am the queen of mistakes. I am okay with that. At least, I know I am doing something.
March 11, 2015I knew from my extensive experience with BBC dramas that people in England wear suits and fancy dresses, drive either carriages or blue police boxes that travel through time, and have a lot of servants who are sometimes accused of murdering their ex-wives. When all of these “facts” had been successfully disproved upon my actual arrival in England, I found myself constantly comparing my surroundings to those back home. And when I found myself once again surrounded by evergreen trees and rather pretentious coffee shops, I realized some things I really love about America—and some things I really don’t. A few good things about America first. Being able to eat and drink in the library. The libraries at Oxford house some pretty incredible books. One time I got to hold—in my hands—an 1850 edition of poems by the Brontë sisters. Someone in 1850 had held that book, too. So I completely understand their libraries’ very strict no eating/drinking rule. It would be quite the bummer to spill your coffee all over those mustily beautiful nineteenth-century pages. But . . . hangry strikes sometimes. And it strikes hard. And the hunger didn’t motivate me to finish my work more quickly so I could take a study break and munch on my sandwich in front of all the tourists at the library entrance. It just made me sad. It’s also been scientifically proven that having a cup of coffee sitting next to you while you write increases your productivity by 3000%. Becoming best friends with a stranger. I’d been back in the States for a couple weeks. My mom and I were at the gas station. A woman at the next pump over remarked, “Aren’t these gas prices incredible?” (They’d reached $1.99 a gallon.) My mom and I agreed, and soon a man at another pump was chiming in with how little money he was spending to fill up. “Can you remember when it was 75 cents?” the woman at the next pump laughed. And so on. Encounters like this surprised me so much when I first came back. I may have had a few while in England, but such random conversations were much fewer and further between. The “reserved” nature of Britons may be a stereotype, but it is one that tends toward the truth. Wide open spaces. The word that often came to my head as I traveled throughout England was “cute.” Sure, Big Ben and Salisbury Cathedral and York Minster are impressive in their vastness, but what I knew best were narrow winding streets, brick buildings squeezed together, tiny cottages and gardens. I loved their quaintness—as well as the history built into every stone and bit of pavement—but I missed mountains and fields that stretch on for miles without the interruption of a wall. When I came home in December, the drive from the airport along I-5 was so much more beautiful than I had remembered: so much sky, so many trees. (Tune in next week for some cons of the U. S. of A.)
March 11, 2015Most people have heard the term “Comic Con.” However, even with the plethora of Cons increasing in popularity, there are still millions who have never experienced the fantastical world of Cos-play, celebrity meet and greets, panels, talented artists, and so much more. This past January, two George Fox University students took their first step into the Con world when they attended Wizard World Portland Comic Con. Seniors Keilah Uhre and Jordan Nelson walked into the Portland Convention Center and stepped into a world of geeks, nerds, costumed heroes, artists, gamers, and fans of all things other worldly. When Uhre and Nelson found my sister and me amidst the many packed rows of booths, I noticed how ecstatic they were. They had just attended a panel on understanding comics and were about to get in line to meet Bruce Campbell. Uhre’s face was full of joy and Nelson was silently glowing with anticipation of meeting Campbell. Attending a Con has been on Uhre’s bucket-list for years. “Oh. My. Gosh! I don’t even know how to explain it,” she said as she reflects on her first steps into Wizard World. “I was really overwhelmed. I was so happy to be there.” Some of her favorite costumes were worn by fellow Doctor Who fans. “There was a really awesome Weeping Angel. I was the most entertained person in the world.” Uhre and Nelson stood in a long line in order to meet Campbell. Nelson said when she finally met him, she told him that his character, Sam Axe on “Burn Notice,” was one of the best written characters ever. Both were only recently introduced to his most famous role of Ash in “Evil Dead 2.” Now that they have both been to their first Con, they are looking forward to the next opportunity. When I mentioned to Uhre that maybe next time we can all go as Airbenders, she screamed like a child getting her first puppy or kitten. Uhre’s exuberance reminded me of my first Con. I remember stepping into the convention hall and finally feeling accepted. Each Con allows attendees to be their favorite superhero, villain, character, to collect fan art that you can’t find anywhere else, and meet iconic celebrities. So why should you go? If you like to talk about “Downtown Abbey,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead,” “Arrow,” “Lord of the Rings,” Magna books, or if you love costumes, then Comic Con is something I encourage you to attend. Comic Cons allow everyone to be whatever they want while also allowing one to learn more about his or her passions. Cons inspire. They bring people together to celebrate the child within. Cons allow fans to say thank you to their favorite actors, Cos-players, and artists. They are a conduit for new friendships with kindred spirits. At Cons, it is perfectly normal to take a picture with a Jabba the Hut or find a reason to wear a unicorn horn and superhero cape. There is something so freeing about surrounding yourself with other people who love to celebrate their favorite geeky passions. I look forward to seeing more GFU students at Rose City Comic Con in September.
March 11, 2015Not only did I celebrate my 39th birthday in February, but I have been working to find a summer internship. So far, I have had two interviews for two different industries. This is a problem. Part of my dilemma is I don’t know what I want to do this summer. I have 16 years of work experience, so I know I could do well in an office, in management, in human resources, and more. However, my heart for work has changed. I know my purpose is to help others succeed–this has not changed–but how and who to invest that time with is my struggle. How do you know which doors to seek out if you are unsure where God wants you? When does the regurgitated answer to my previous question, “God only shuts doors you are not supposed to go through,” no longer work? I can answer that, when there are several doors open that refuse to close unless you go near them. I want to honor God’s plans. I believe He brought me to George Fox on purpose. I believe He has continually blessed me with many opportunities on campus. And I believe He has spectacularly big plans for me in the coming months. But with all of my believing, I have absolutely no idea which doors to walk towards. My fear of the unknown has caused me to doubt God’s intention. I can almost hear Jeremiah 29:11 when I am assaulted by the cacophony of confusion swirling around in my already crowded head. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” God says. “Lord, that is all well a great, but when I will know what you have planned,” I ask. God’s reply? Silence. I know He is not ignoring me. I know He will reveal things in His time. I know He keeps His promises. I have witnessed their redemption. So why do I still push the issue? To say it is because I am human cheapens the question. To say it is because I am weak sounds trite. To say it is because I am, for possibly the first time in my life, truly unsure I want what I believe God has planned. My friend, Jana, has been a steadfast echo of God’s voice, inspiring me to trust that He will provide and He is moving me to a new path/career. What does that career look like? I am unsure. When I listen to Jana, as she shares her observations about me that she feels are guided by God’s hand, I feel like those plans will only be revealed at the last possible moment and I will be left with several open doors. He will not point to the right door, leaving me the chance to screw everything up. Have you ever experienced that fear? At times, I have run from God’s plan like Jonah did. There have been times when I walked straight into a typhoon of chaos because God spoke to my heart and challenged me to do so. Now here I am. Sitting. Not sleeping. Battling Anxiety. Avoiding the question. Apologizing. Doubting my call to purpose. Praying. And repeating. Today, I was reminded of a request from God. This request was shared in a very particular way last semester by TaShawna Gordon during a sermon she gave in class. She confessed that she also deals with uncertainty of knowing God’s plans. Her honest journey spoke to me then and blessed me once more. I encourage you, if you are also struggling with not knowing, to repeat the following and when you get to the last word let God love you. Be still and know that I am God Be still and know that I am Be still and know Be still and Be still Be