I have been a psychology student at GFU since freshman year. Now, psychology is a great major and I certainly do not want to dissuade anyone from studying it. However, it does come with some issues. Sure, we do not need to go through killer calculus classes, raging robot competitions, and we certainly do not live the neuroses-inducing lives of the nursing students. In all reality, the main issues psych students face come from other people, outside of the classroom (although I would pay to see engineers do Research Methods). There is a certain stigma that attaches itself to you when start telling people you are going to school for psychology. It leads to people saying some funny things; well, they are funny at first. After a while they get tedious. 1. You tell your family and/or family friends that you are going to major in psychology and they just look confused or disgusted. “Why are you doing that?” They say in a tone of slight disapproval. They were hoping you would do something like engineering or nursing or some other thing that they think could get you a job. Obviously not everyone is like that and most will try to be supportive, but it does hurt a bit. 2. Some of the people you tell are going to respond with as much practicality as possible. They mean well, but they cannot help but ask what you intend to do with this degree. Some psych students know (or think they know) exactly what they want to do and answer without issue. For the rest of us, this question leads to many nights of sleepless anxiety as we toss and turn trying to answer this question. 3. Then there is the well-meaning individual who wants to be practical and sensitive at the same time. “Oh wow, psychology. There’s a lot of different things you can do with that degree…..right?” Well, that is the dream. The soft approach is nice, but the uncertainty does not give us much hope. 4. Then there is the family friend who thinks they are funny and says, “Oh, I see. Job security with the family, huh?” The first time it is kind of funny. Everyone’s family is kind of messed up in some way. You laugh the first few times, but by the twentieth time, you are pretty much done with that joke. Yet, you never quite have the heart to tell the jokester about the whole code of ethics thing that says that counseling people you are related to or have connections to outside of the counseling office is a pretty bad idea. 5. Closely related to the previous jokester, there is the person who asks, “So, since I know you, does that mean I can get free therapy some day?” No. Again, ethics says no. The worst part is the fact that all of that happens before you even start and then it does not stop the entire time you are in college. Finally, you begin attending classes and you start to meet people. Sooner than you can spell Mississippi, everyone is saying the same things. 6. “Oh, you’re a psych major? I better watch what I say.” For those who are joking, you think you are being clever, but you are not. For thos that are serious (and there really are people who believe this), what am I going to do? Do you expect me to immediately figure out that you have issues with you mother from a hand shake and the way you say hello? No! Just treat me like any other person. It gets even better. 7. “Wow! You’re a psych major?!?! Quick, what am I thinking right now?” This is not Vegas and I am not a magician. Do not ask me again. 8. Then there are those who try to tell me psychology is not a science. Anyone who believes this knows nothing about psychology. How can something that follows the scientific method not be science? This seems to be a contradiction. Someone always brings up the fact about how little it seems to explain. That is the funny thing about science, especially one as relatively young as psychology. The theories of physics that we use today did not just develop over night. And just like any other science, it can only proceed as fast technology allows. An argument can even be made that psychology is a field of biology. I then like to remind people who use this that by that logic, biology comes from chemistry which, in turn, comes from physics which is just applied mathematics and that math is based in philosophy. Supposed “real science” majors do not seem to like that science is based in philosophy and they usually stop talking. I personally do not see the problem since we get logic from philosophy and logic is a good thing. Then there is the fact that I know a few PhD holders who would say otherwise. So this is what I am saying: Get over it. 9. We always meet that person who says, “Psychology is a pretty easy major, right?” I always respond by handing the person who says this the American Psychological Association manual and say, “You read this and tell me what you think.” Seriously though, do not devalue the education of your friends by saying things like this. Every major has its own challenges. 10. After awhile, people start telling you not to expect much job-wise until you get a master’s degree. The first few times, this is helpful information. It is important to keep expectations realistic. For some reason, though, no one wants you to forget it as if your own future is unimportant to you. In the end, you die a little on the inside every time someone brings it up. We do our best to hide it. 11. Finally, the dreaded question that comes up not just in the lives of psych students, but in the lives of every student: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Most of us do not know. We are more concerned about the paper that is due Friday. My best guess is somewhere, hopefully with some sort of income, and probably in debt. But we cannot let this get us down. As a wise fish once said:
April 17, 2014Living in Washington, I was aware that I was in the rumored home of Bigfoot. Specifically I was not, though, since I lived on a hill overlooking a valley south of Seattle and was cornered by two highways. There was no way Bigfoot would be found anywhere near my home. I had heard the rumors and stories though. As a child, I went on hikes in the mountains with my family. My siblings and I would joke about what was beyond the trail or outside our camping trailer. I have never been to the Olympic region of Washington where I believe Bigfoot is probably more likely to live. Despite this, the myth lives. I grew up familiar with the tape and conspiracies surrounding Bigfoot. There was more than one instance where people had pretended to be the beast and the incident where someone chopped up an animal and dressed it up like Bigfoot and put it in a freezer. The fact that that made it onto the news says something: about what the news or about the people who did it, I’m not so sure. Even though many theories of Bigfoot roaming the lands have been said to lack evidence or substance, the myth lives on. People are still on the lookout for him. Some people take it more seriously than others, and from this has spurned a TV show about people on the lookout for poor Bigfoot. Bigfoot has been a part of culture for longer than we may guess. The idea and name of the Bigfoot we know today originated in the 50’s. Before then the idea of hairy wild men was prevalent. The actual first written account of big hairy men in America was documented by Leif Erikson; of course this was not near the Pacific Northwest. Native American Tribes in certain areas across America also had myths of big, hairy creatures and had reported sightings up to the mid-20th century. Bigfoot has made a long journey from being mentioned all over the world and has been narrowed down to America and into the mountains on both coasts. This is partly because of the building of cities which would have driven the hairy beast into the wilderness. There is no mass acceptance that Bigfoot is real, but that are those that believe that he roams away from society, away from people, probably wishing he could return to a time of owning the land where the city man was not there. If you would like further reading and so see where I got some of my info, look here: http://www.bigfoot-lives.com/html/bigfoot_history.html http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/05/the-origin-of-the-bigfoot-legend/ http://www.discoveryuk.com/web/finding-bigfoot/about-the-show/the-legend-of-bigfoot/
April 17, 2014The sunny days we are experiencing now remind me of when I was young. I spent those days in my backyard coming up with stories. I would play with myself or I would play with a friend. I came up with all different kinds of myths. I created new worlds with fairies and monsters. There were elves and dwarfs and I was the all-powerful conqueror. I did not realize until recently how my childhood had been influenced by myths. Some myths were passed down: I believed in Santa Clause, I liked to pretend that their were fairies around me or that my stuffed animals were alive or that my dolls could move around. I also had heard stories from my family; I knew about the gods in Greek mythology at a young age and I was also introduced to Norwegian folktales too. I had also read of Narnia and wanted to go there more than anything. My childhood, looking back, seems to be filled with myths. This is not a bad thing at all. I was a still a Christian. I went to Christian school and church and had committed myself to Christ, but I kept on living a rather magical, mythological life in my backyard. Having all the stories in my mind has carried over to the present day where I look around and have a flash of what I would have thought of things as when I was a child. I knew that the myths and stories in my mind were not real. That did not stop me though. I kept on coming up with stories. Once I came up with a whole world that had gods and creatures and I drew them out in my notebook. I was just being creative and pretending. The stories did not lead me astray, they made life more exciting. Now I wonder what the danger would be of adding a little more myth to my life. My rational side takes over sometimes and I wonder if doing that would hurt my faith, but then again, stories can show us truth. I do not know what to do, but on sunny days I am tempted to take a journal outside into the sun and create a world filled with mythological creatures. I did it when I was younger, why shouldn’t I now?
April 17, 2014There have been a few articles on GFU’s clock tower this year. As a commuter, I only have the pleasure of hearing the clock tower’s bells while I am on campus. I never noticed the bells until this past November while sitting in Hebrew with Professor Brian Doak, who briefly complained about the bells going off during class. However, I now hear them all over campus unless I am working in the Academic Resource Center. I look forward to hymns floating across campus, bouncing off brick walls, and filling my soul. There is something refreshing about worship melodies playing at odd times for students as we flitter to and fro. Each time the bells chime in reverence, I am reminded of why I am here. I am reminded of who brought me to George Fox. And I am reminded that I should be praising Him with every step, every breath, and every move I make. I don’t know all the lyrics to each hymn the bells play; however, I do take the time to thank God for all He has blessed me with. To be honest, this semester has been challenging both academically and emotionally. I have stepped onto the quad with tears ready to fall and then I hear “How Great Thou Art” ring out. In those moments, peace enters and the tears become cleansing instead of sorrowful. Each clang of the bell carries a loving embrace and a gracious whisper. You may see me walking with my head bowed as “The Old Rugged Cross” streams on the wind or talking out loud to seemingly no one as “I Stand Amazed” plays. I look forward to the joyful noise each day. I acknowledge I don’t have to hear the bells all day and night; I do live in a neighborhood in which kids scream bloody murder at all hours and no one observes quiet time. At home, I am yelling at kids to stop banging into my house or growing annoyed at the lack of involvement from their parents. But on campus, the hymns pour into me and I am filled with gladness. The bells toll for each of us. Maybe a song inspires your next paper or maybe a song provides a moment of reflection. Regardless, I would encourage each of us to take a few minutes to join in worship as the bells echo across our campus.
April 15, 2014Guest Contribution by Mailie Landreth Imagine this: you and your family are desperately trying to make ends meet, to get the bills paid, to put food in everyone’s stomachs, to keep a roof over your head. Some of you may understand exactly what I’m talking about. You need money – and fast. So imagine a stranger, or perhaps even someone you know, walking up to you and offering you a job. “Come with me,” they say, “you can work in the city and send money back home.” What a blessing! You pack your things, bid your family goodbye for now, and take off to explore your exciting new opportunity. At last, your problems are solved. And then that person, your savior, takes you to this strange new place, and without warning you are sold like cattle into what is called modern-day slavery. In other words, human trafficking. You are officially someone’s property now. From now on, you have no right to think, speak, or even breathe without your trafficker’s permission. They decide what and when you get to eat, what you can wear, when and how long you can sleep, and whether or not you get to use the bathroom by yourself. They tell you how much you’re worth or not worth. They control you. Your hopes for a job opportunity and having a better life are crushed, and you have entered a whole different kind of nightmare. Not enough? Imagine this happening to a cherished person in your life. Do any of you have children? Brothers? Sisters? Nieces and nephews? Cousins? A best friend? What if one day they were stolen away from you, subject to rape, torture, disease, or even murder? Most likely you’ll never see this person again. I have a little sister. She’s 9 years old. She’s smart, witty, strong, adorable. And she is the perfect target for a human trafficker. Knowing this makes my stomach turn. With our age difference, she’s almost like a daughter to me, and I find myself annoying her with my overprotective nature: “Hold my hand, you can’t go anywhere alone!” She often complains I hold her hand too tightly everywhere we go. But I’m scared of what could happen to her if I let her go. That is why human trafficking matters to me, and why it should matter to you, too. I know many people who would rather live in their little bubble of a world and think everything is fine, or that human trafficking is unfathomable in America (“no, that only happens in Cambodia or China or North Korea!”). Sorry to say it, but human trafficking is very real and it’s very dangerous. And it exists everywhere. Not just in Asia or Africa, worlds away. Here, too. I was in high school when I first started hearing about the problem. My father and I used to watch “America’s Most Wanted,” and that’s when they began airing episodes specifically on human trafficking. I don’t remember where this particular story took place, but the survivor who told it was a teenager when she was victimized. She was approached by a mature, professional, beautiful woman who offered her a great job. The girl’s parents thought it sounded sketchy, but she went anyway. That’s when she was taken far away from her home, raped, and groomed into prostitution along with many other girls. Whenever someone tried to escape, several men would catch her, beat her, and rape her as punishment. But this particular young woman managed to get away, and she was brave enough to tell her story. I’m 21 years old now, and I’ve never forgotten that wretched moment when I was watching “America’s Most Wanted,” wanting to do something to end all the suffering. I don’t think it’s possible to truly end this epidemic of modern-day slavery, but we can still do something about it. With that, I’m going to share some statistics (beware, statistics are a tricky thing on this issue but these are the best I found) that I included in a recent research portfolio I turned in based on human trafficking. Think about it. When UN.GIFT published Human Trafficking: The Facts, approximately 2.5 million people were in the human trafficking industry, either victims of forced labor or sexual exploitation. Statistics show that the majority of human trafficking takes place in Asia and the Pacific (about 56%). The problem of trafficking involves 161 countries so far, whether making them a source, transit, or destination country. Every continent and every type of economy is affected. Each year, $31.6 billion is made from human trafficking. Other statistics show that a significant amount of victims are between the ages of 18 and 24; 1.2 million children are sold annually. Of the victims sold, 43% are used for sex (98% of them are females) and 32% are used for forced labor (56% are females). An estimated 95% of them are put through physical and/or sexual abuse. 52% of the traffickers are men, while 42% are women; nearly half of them are people that human trafficking victims know. As of 2006, only one person is actually convicted for every 800 people trafficked….
April 14, 2014The final four weeks of spring term have begun. Thankfully, I only have one more major project due in the next four weeks; however, some of my fellow students have more. I hear dread in their voices, see stress in their bent frames, and worry in their tired eyes. My heart goes out to them. Seniors are juggling many tasks as graduation grows closer. Juniors going abroad are making sure they have everything ready to go while those not going prepare for their final year. Sophomores are meeting with advisors to make sure they register for upper division classes for their major. Freshman are experiencing the spring push for the first time. Professors remind students of deadlines and penalties for incomplete work. And, unfortunately, some professors will be packing up their offices and moving on. Even with all these things GFU buzzes with new energy. Students will soon be laying on the grass reading books. The SUB will be crowded with students meeting for the group projects. The ARC will be busy meeting with students who want to strengthen their papers. Commuters will be staying on campus longer in order to make sure they are prepared for class. Final art projects will grace the campus bringing smiles to those who take a brief minute to stop and reflect. Vocalists will be heard across the quad as their divine voices carry from the top windows of Ross. Squirrels will soon be scolding students for daring to walk off the path. Trees will blossom and flowers will bloom. Time will slow down just long enough to forget the stress of final papers, presentations, and the million other things students have to do. So I encourage you to stop, breathe, and listen. Take the time capture precious moments with friends or start reading a book for fun. Take time to amply prepare for upcoming final projects and finals; but also take time to admire a flowering tree. Make sure to send thank you letters to professors, fellow students, and staff. Bring goodies for the fabulous staff of the Den, Bruin Bites, and Bon. With the end of the semester approaching, promise to enjoy the final push, the sunny days, each professor’s class. Make memories with new friends, celebrate with family, talk with squirrels, and thank everyone who has impacted you during the year. These moments will never come again.
April 3, 2014She waits for the twins’ parents to pick up to see if they were back from their ski trip. “Hello?” “Hi, this is Katie.” “Katie, this is Jen’s mom. How are you doing?” Katie shares how the recent move to Highland Park has gone before asking if the twins were around. “But how are you really doing?” The twin’s mom ask. Katie pauses not sure what she was asking. Silence. A few seconds later she hears Jen’s mom tell someone, “I don’t want to tell her.” “Did something happen to Jen or Gwen?” Katie asks earnestly. “Oh Katie . . . Chris died.” The room immediately descends into darkness. Katie’s heart stops. Panic shoots through every fiber, muscle, and thought. Katie crumbles to her knees, trying to catch her breath and stop the world from disintegrating. Kathi, Katie’s mom, hears her struggling to inhale air and rushes out of the bathroom, barely dry from a shower. “Katie . . . what’s wrong?” Katie shakes but does not answer. Her mom carefully takes the phone out of Katie’s hand and lifts the ivory handset to her ear. Drip. Drip. Drip. Katie only hears the sound of water from Kathi’s wet hair crashing to the hardwood floor. “Chris can’t be dead. No way is he gone. It is impossible!” Katie’s refuses to accept the news. Her heart would never accept his death. Chris, Katie’s first love, died on New Year’s Day 1996 of alcohol poisoning. They met at The Crossing, a youth group, in a suburb northwest of Chicago. They had two years of adventures, teenage angst, and unconditional love. Before Christmas, Katie gives Chris a brand new Walkman and headphones; the one he carries with him is held together by rubber bands and tape. “I still remember his smile when he opened my gift. He wasn’t expecting it,” Katie recalls almost 20 years later, “He told me it was his favorite thing ever.” Classmates, friends, family, teachers, and church members fill every available seat at the memorial service. Those who attended the church service just one week prior could not ignore the odd words spoken by the pastor that day; “We have been blessed that for the past 10 years we have not suffered any losses.” And then the youth group find themselves there – saying good-bye to a 17-year-old friend – and Katie’s love. Before the memorial service starts, mourners step into a small room to view the body. Katie walks into the viewing line with her mom. Previous experience the year before, at her grandmother’s funeral, taught her Chris would not look the same as the last night Katie saw him. Kathi asks her, “Katie, do you want me to go with you?” Katie responds with a quiet, “no.” As she inches closer to the casket, Katie looks for an excuse to walk away. But before she can formulate a workable lie, she finds herself in front of the polished wooden box. Chris is dressed in a blue denim button down shirt with a single breast pocket and dark jeans. His hair is styled as if he had just rolled out of bed. His face no longer holds the same symmetry Katie loved to drown in. Her heart stops. She feels weak. “I am not sure where the strength came from,” Katie says to me, “As I stepped up to his coffin, I noticed his hacky sack, letters from friends surrounding him, and in his breast pocket the Walkman I had given him. The headset on his head as he so enjoyed listening to his music. I will never forget feeling a brief moment of happiness before reality knocked me around again.” When the memorial begins, Katie makes her way to the front row. She sits next to Brian, Chris’s best friend. The room grows quiet as the closed casket is wheeled to the front of the church. Brian grabs Katie’s hand and squeezes. A simple heartbreaking gesture cements Brian as Katie’s best friend in this moment of loss. The Crossing’s youth leader asks Katie to write and share a prayer for friends and family left behind: “Lord, we thank you for loving us and being present with us today. I am filled with joy knowing that you are ready to comfort all who are suffering at this time. I pray that you are glorified and that we see your sovereignty through this dark period in our lives.” After the funeral, Katie and Brian grow closer. Grief melts two broken hearts into a bond of family. Nothing will break them. “Since it happened we spent more time together; up until she moved,” Brian says, “I consider Katie one of my closest friends even though I don’t see her often. We can tell each other anything. Sometimes losing someone close to both parties will help bring them closer together. I know it affects her life all the time as it does mine.” Brian visits Chris’s grave twice a year (on New Year’s Day and Chris’s birthday), has Chris’s bracelet hanging from his rearview mirror, and talks to Chris every day. When I ask him how he feels about God, Brian says, “The sad part of it is I don’t trust God nearly as much, and even question God’s existence at times in my life.” Katie has grown closer to God since Chris’s death. “God has always been a foundation in my life. I believe I will see Chris in Heaven when I die, and I can’t wait to hold my friend again,” she says. Eighteen years pass and Katie still aches for Chris. Katie is planning on tattooing the coordinates of Chris’s grave and a compass pointing north towards heaven on her arm in remembrance. Whenever she visits Chicago, she goes to his grave and talks to him as if he is sitting across from her smiling. But after she returns home, the damage of his loss stays with her for weeks. Ecclesiastics 3:4 tells us there is “a time to mourn” but fails to communicate the fluidity of grief as life goes on. When someone we love dies, we are told time heals all wounds, but this is far from true. The wound remains, the loss is ever present, but we learn to keep moving forward. The truth is grief haunts most of us longer than society deems acceptable. We move through our day without thinking of our lost one; but unexpectedly, the smell of sweet pipe tobacco delights our nose or a small laugh catches our ears reminding us of what is gone. The wounds never fully heal until we pass. Revelation 21:4 promises once we are in Heaven, God “will wipe every tear from our [their] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Grief is not a linear journey. Instead grief circles, dips, peaks, and dives as we attempt to move forward without our loved ones. Katie has pictures of Chris in her bedroom, on her car visor, and in her cubicle at work. She hangs onto the Christmas card Chris gave her the last day she saw him. She hands me a worn folded letter for Chris that she wrote four days after his death safely tucked away: “Dear Chris. Words cannot describe the pain that I am feeling right now. It still feels like it’s all one big practical joke or movie or something . . . I know God must have wanted you with him really bad to let this happen. At one point I thought he was being selfish but hey, if I was God, I’d take you now too . . . I loved you, I still love you and I will love you forever. In Christ’s love, Katie” Katie’s grief is indefinite. She is intentional in her determination to not let go of the person she loved. There is no break or end from the pain of loss or the desperate longing to hold Chris again. Society encourages moving past our grief, but if we yearn for Christ what is wrong with yearning to be reunited with a loved one? When the heaviness becomes too much, Katie writes poems to channel her sorrow. In one poem titled “If Ever” she writes, “If ever a dream world existed/I would take up permanent residence/only to see your face again.” A sweet broken game of “what if plays” out in her poetry. As each New Year’s Day passes, I witness Katie draw into herself. Her eyes grow heavy. Her smile shrinks. Grief comes out of hiding to steal a piece of my sister away into the darkness. My heart breaks as I watch her relive her last days with Chris, including his funeral. Over the last decade I spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with Katie but I never ask her what she experienced. When Chris died, Katie lived with me. I worked 60 hours a week and on my 2 days off, I traveled downtown to Chicago to attend school for 12 hours a day. While we shared the same apartment, we lived two separate lives. Neither one made the effort to include the other. My only memory of Chris’s death is Katie not coming with my mom and me to see the Broadway play Grease. When we bought the tickets, Katie asked our mother, Kathi, if she could buy a new dress. Our mother said yes. The dress was black. Unfortunately, Katie wore the dress to a funeral instead of a musical. I feel guilt and shame for taking so long to learn about Chris and my sister’s last days with him. I realize now my guilt and shame kept me at a safe distance from her grief. When I shared this with Katie recently, she told me we had gotten into a fight after his death. “You told me to get over his death.” “I did what? No way!” But even as I respond in disbelief, I feel the veil lift from my eyes. I’d blocked those words from my memory. “I am not mad at you. You were running on empty and as time passed, I knew you did not mean it.” Katie’s graciousness guts me. For years I made sure to stay out of her grief. I never asked for more of her story. And now, as she reveals the freshness of a wound that will never heal, I am drawn into her grief. My heart breaks to know I added to her heartache. As Katie shares the first moments of Chris’s funeral with intense clarity, I witnessed her frame slump forward. However, as she continues, I see a flash of light behind her eyes. The more Katie speaks of Chris and their relationship, the more the light radiates her cherub face. “I have tried to bargain with God,” she chuckles, “I still do.” “I did not hug him goodbye the last time I saw him,” she pauses “It is my biggest regret. I hug people now. All the time!” As I hand the folded letter she wrote to Chris back, she reaches out to grab her tangible feelings. Her hands carefully cradled the letter. “How odd! I am feeling everything I wrote in this letter right now. This will never end,” Katie whispers, “The circle keeps going.” “Grief never ends but instead changes. It is not for you to say but pass through (at your own pace). Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith but instead it is the price of love.” Author Unknown. Chained Eternal by Katie Harney © 07-13-2006 Will he ever get out of my head? This muse of past days, the thorn that brings pleasurable pain… Reckless and heavy, calming and full of torment – a double-edged sword, bringing salted wounds to my bland being. Will he ever release his hold? This titan of bygone love, piercing and tearing my soul in compassion… Suffered and broken, wickedly serene in all his aching glory; I cannot but utterly love him for it. Dark hair in streams, choking the memories of youth. Tear-singed eyes ablaze, beaming rivers of absolute adoration. Bellows of smoke clouding the images, inhaling the innocence in silent mercy. Ah! The taste of him is sweet as he lays dead in time gone by!
April 3, 2014In third grade, we got tickets for good behavior and exchanged them for prizes at an in-class fair. I remember holding on to most of my tickets to save up for something better later. Sadly, no other time came for me to cash them in. I was left with worthless pieces of paper with print art dollar bills on them. I find that I still do this. I hold out for something better to come along. But I wonder, “How would I live if I knew my time here was limited?” I wouldn’t waste these moments, but spend them. I would live a more fulfilling life. I would seek a far deeper relationship with God. There would be less reason to worry about little things because everything ultimately answers to God. I would create, serve, and give with way more freedom than ever before. I’ve been buying into this mentality lately that the “right” thing to do is always to work towards being successful and saving money. But life is so much more than that! Life includes loving, laughing, resting, eating, singing, crying, creating, and exploring. Life is a sacred thing—holy and amazing. We only realize this when death beckons it away. Future moments are no more valuable than the ones we have right now. There is just as much opportunity today as there is tomorrow. So how would you live if your time here was limited? Because it is.
March 20, 2014“I’ve gotta put my earplug in,” she said. “You what!?” I snickered. So, until 2 a.m. my sister and I went back and forth: “I’ve gotta paint my nail.” “I’ve gotta brush my tooth.” “Put your hand together for Coldplay.” I couldn’t breathe. And it was wonderful. Trust me, it was funny. Especially so late at night with our parents annoyed and shushing us. Christmas at Nana and Papa’s house, sleeping in one room. My dad’s snoring and our laughing: my favorite Christmas carol. The symphony of humanity, complete with imperfection and joy. We often think of good music as having a defined melody that’s on key, but I’m an advocate for the music we often disregard: the snoring, the snorting from laughing so hard, the awkward “oh, sorry” we say when bumping into a stranger. These are works of art. I’m thankful for all of it. All of these little annoying things are like family—imperfect, but always there for you. Humor helps us momentarily accept these flaws. It gives us a small break from trying to change them. Humor releases the tension we get from trying to navigate this awkward world. It’s like oil that lessens friction and makes things run more smoothly. It tells us it’s okay that things aren’t okay. It can also resolve the inner struggle that comes from being the imperfect perfectionists that we humans tend to be. Use humor to embrace every part of humanity’s song. The dissonance will resolve with beautiful laughter.
March 16, 2014Kelly Simonsen could hear the song God was calling her to be a part of. She could see the roles the other members of her team were meant to play. Yet, there were a few troublesome notes—money notes to be exact. In the summer, Simonsen will be traveling Romania/Moldova to serve there. The cost is $3,600 for each member of the team, a cost that Simonsen called “daunting,” but she has consistently been reminded that God is orchestrating this situation and always provides when people are faithful in following his will. “I really wanted to make sure that it was God’s will for me to go and not just my desire to travel,” said Simonsen. In answer to prayers God showed her in a very definite way that she was meant to serve him in this way. “If you are accepted [to go on the trip] you have to put down a $180 deposit. I remember that I have one uncashed check from my summer job. I pull it out of the drawer and discover the check is for $180.81!” said Simonsen. This was the first of many ways God has provided for the funding of this trip so far. Later in January, Simonsen said, “I realize I have a deadline coming up, and since the $775 in January, only $75 more has come through. I wrestle with being grateful for the generosity of the people supporting me, and being frustrated that I have so little control over this process, and trying so hard to trust God. The very day after I worried about my personal savings, Sarah Baldwin posts on our summer serve Facebook page that she would like to hire one of us to help her family get ready for their move. I jump on the opportunity! It is exactly what I needed!” A third time, as another deadline approached, Simonsen was short $800. “As of a week before the deadline I am at $1000, and I need to be at $1800,” said Simonsen. “A few days before my fundraising deadline I call my mom to catch up and tell her about my week. She tells me that she and my Dad put $1000 into my account. I start crying on the phone. By this point I honestly thought I wasn’t going to meet my deadline. I was so overwhelmed by God’s provision. He kept saying he would provide, and sure enough, he did!” Through his constant provision and encouragement, Simonsen learned that God “divinely orchestrated” everything. “God keeps telling me that he works in mysterious ways, and continues to tell me to trust him. It’s a bit of a reoccurring theme in our relationship,” said Simonsen. “I know though that God will provide. He has made it abundantly clear that this trip is what he wants for me, and he is using this opportunity to exponentially grow my trust of him.”
March 16, 2014When we think of history we often think of facts. But history, including American history, has its own set of myths. Pull out a one dollar bill and look at it. What we know about the symbols on our currency seems to be from the “National Treasure” movies, but there is more to the symbol and its origins. If you look at the pyramid on the left side and read the Latin above it, you may wonder what on earth it means, because you might be like me and you do not know Latin. So you look it up and find out that it means “He has smiled on our accomplishments” or “He approves of our undertakings.” While we may think that “He” is in reference to God in the trinity we know of, there is reason to believe that it is not. The dollar bill says “In God We Trust” on the side of the pyramid. If you watched the remake of “Miracle on 34th Street” as a child, you were familiar with this. During the founding of America, the Enlightenment was taking place. Those who were a part of this movement believed in reason and science. The idea that the founding fathers were Christians, similar to modern Christianity today, is a myth. They were Enlightenment thinkers and their religion was influenced by that. You can be sure that is what the American Revolution was influenced by. As a child, I was sure that my nation was founded on Christianity; though this may be partially true, when you look into history it seems that the ideas such as reason, independence, and science influenced our country’s founding rather than Christianity. The myth that lets us forget the power of the Enlightenment helps us forget what that period was about: human progress, science, and reason. Creating these myths shows what certain people value. Some value history, some value independence and some value religion. Still, what we value has importance that does not change historical fact.