People / End of Semester / College

My buddy Ben and I grabbing coffee at the notorious Old Factory Coffee Shop

My buddy Ben and I grabbing coffee at the notorious Old Factory Coffee Shop

            As with any college student, the business of “doing stuff” tends to sneak into our daily lives. With this first semester of the school year coming to an end, papers and tests seem to pick up. The daunting monster of Finals is the one thing standing in between us and Christmas break. It’s almost as if the fluffy, glistening snow that is eloquently covering our surroundings is overshadowed by the infinite white sheets of notes that we’ve scribbled down. Within the journey of either trying to snag a few “A’s” or to simply survive a seemingly inescapable course, the best part about college steps into it all: the people.

            My first semester in college has served as a time to simply grow closer to people. Their stories, goofy tendencies, ingenious minds, and inspiring aspirations. Their food preferences, movie choices, activity creations, and insane ideas. These are just a few of the things that people have taught me this semester. I absolutely dig it. People are awesome.

            Here at Northwestern, dorm life is a lot like the cool kid at the party: always making people laugh, dance, share their emotions, and even do something crazy. In my biased opinion, I like to claim that I have the coolest hallway out there. The dudes around me are all awesomely different. A stellar football player, a League of Legends champion, and a natural comedian serve as the type of guys that I get to live alongside. They’re a huge blessing. As 10 page papers and intense tests fill our schedules, hangout sessions in coffee shops and late night talks seem to be the extra lift we all need.

            Recently, my hallway participated in a campus event known as “Coly Christmas”. Coly is the all-male dorm that I claim to be my “home away from home”. Each hallway decorates and prepares multiple Christmas-themed skits for the student-body to witness. Residing on a Monday night, Coly Christmas serves as a holiday-filled study break for people on campus to take advantage of. My hallway had a 6’10” baby Jesus, a shout out to Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe”, a reenactment of “Baby It’s Coly Outside”, and the plot-twisting victory of Grandma over the Reindeer. Taking a break from the 7-page paper that was due the next day was well worth it to say the least!

            Last week a buddy of mine, Ben, reached out to me and we set up a little coffee shop get-together. It was extremely uplifting. Sitting underneath a mural with “Coffee. Community. Conversation” artfully painted across the top, Ben taught me more about life than he’ll ever know. In the midst of a final paper that he and I had to knock out for our Youth Ministry class, we took a break from all of the business. We laughed. We lamented. We shared. In his unique, young wisdom, my dude Ben reminded me about the truth behind God’s grace and guidance. All in all, the Cup-of-Joe time that Ben and I shared reminded me that nothing matches our time with people.

            Stemming off of the coffee shop goodness, my resident assistant, Marcus, has been one of the most influential people in my college experience thus far. Marcus is the type of dude who invites you into his room at 3 AM to talk about life. He makes the guys on our floor fresh pour over coffee out of his homemade barista bar and provides the best chips and salsa we’ve ever had. As a freshman in college who is navigating through deep learning experiences, Marcus has served as a prime example of what it looks like to live a life devoted to God. His willingness to listen to people’s stories and to walk alongside them is a life-changer for me and all around him. He’s taught me and so many people to take heart in the uniqueness that is “college”. There will never be a time in our lives where we have deep talks with a handful of guys until 4 AM and then have a test at 8 AM. It is within these moments of “college” that the people make it so great. Embrace it. Hold onto it. Grow in it. College.

 

The Three S's

As I was reflecting on the multiple audibles that life has caused me to make, I found myself laughing at how easy it is for me to miss the awesome things that God has placed right in front of me. To paint a clearer picture for you, imagine going up for a game-winning jump shot in basketball and you sink it. However, you’re upset because in the midst of everyone celebrating the victory, you’re stuck in the mindset of the elsewhere. You’re wishing that your glamorized jumper wasn’t in the 3 on 3 pickup game that you’re currently balling out in. Rather, you wish it was in game 7 of the NBA finals—elsewhere than the now. Isn’t that a bit ridiculous? No doubt! As crazy as it may seem, this has been an easy trap for me to fall into as a freshman in college. With that, I’ve been reflecting on this reality and I’ve learned three sweet breakthroughs that I felt compelled to share with y’all. Hope it relates to your current situation and maybe even helps clear some things up!

1.     See the Simple Things

Our culture naturally teaches us to want more. To be elsewhere. We live in a constantly-moving society that is focused on what’s next. To pull from Zygmunt Bauman’s Globalization: The Human Consequences, “wherever we happen to be at the moment, we cannot help knowing that we could be elsewhere, so there is less and less reason to stay anywhere in particular.” Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s good and extremely natural to have visions. It’s also an awesome form of obedience to Christ when we follow His call for us to “go”. But, what if that “go” actually means to be present? What if we flip our culture upside down and simply be in the here and now? It’s been my experience that when I let go of the “what if’s” and begin to focus on the “here nows”, I start to see the simple things. God begins to stir my heart for what stirs His—the now. I’m learning that the college life, even in its busyness, is made up of a lot of things simple. From pouring a good cup of coffee and studying with a good buddy to taking all of the furniture out of your RA’s room to simply hearing someone’s life story, it’s the little things that are what make the nows…well now.

2.     Seek Wisdom

Yooo I get it! You’re in college and either 1) you’re too cool for advice or 2) you don’t have time for a pick-me-up. I’ve been there done that. Because of my blind desire to be elsewhere, I often think that I can get “there” based upon what I know about my life. As much as the truth that you know yourself better than anyone reigns true, so does the reality that there are potential mentors out there that know more about life than you. As it says in Job 12:12, “wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in the length of days.” This has been a game changing reminder for me. Just the other day I was getting tossed around by life’s undercuts, so after talking with the Lord, I reached out to an old youth leader of mine. He directed me to seek where Jesus has me now and to embrace the people, opportunities, and even hardships that are currently present today.

 

3.     Surrender to His Truth

This might sound ridiculously churchy and borderline unhelpful but stick with me. As a rookie in this whole college game, I’ve quickly learned that it’s a blast. Few things compare to playing a pickup game with some buddies against your professors and then being in their class an hour later. On the flip side, it’s a rocky road trying to be a “transforming you” in college. You’re trying to adjust to new friends, different food from your Mama’s, and the man/woman of God that you’re becoming. It becomes a trend for you to desire to be someone/something so in turn you low key (had to) lose sight of who you truly are. Reflecting upon the idea of my constant desire to be elsewhere, I realized I need to get back to His Truth about me. It hit me that who I am in Christ is who I am today, not who I will be tomorrow. Coming back to the basics, Paul reminds you, the child of God, that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8). This a profoundly uplifting reality. By surrendering to the truth that Jesus has your back and freely extended you grace on the Cross, you’re encouraged to know that you don’t have to be focused on the elsewhere. Rather, you’re catapulted to simply be in what is the now because He knows what He’s doing and has you where you are for a reason.

Finding the Fun

These last few weeks have been the academic lull of my semester (which doesn’t always happen as a senior or as a nursing student, so it’s been quite the special time).  Midterms were taken, papers were turned in.  But final projects and exams aren’t quite here yet!

This allows me to have some extra time away from the books and away from the library.  I’ve been able to catch up on my list of supper dates and enjoy the warm November weather.  Hammocking in the trees after a day full of classes is one of my favorite ways to relax.

Outdoor activities are at their prime in this fall season.  This last week, my friend and I grabbed our adult coloring books and found a central location on campus to spread our blanket on the green grass among the few dandelions that were confused on their season.  Choosing a commonly treaded area brought many friends walking past who stopped for a quick chat.  Orange City residents walk their dogs through campus and aren’t afraid of a few college kids who need their puppy fix.  Even after three years of being here, the cohesiveness of this community continues to impress me.

My last two Saturdays have consisted of hunkering down in the well-known Old Factory Coffee Shop two blocks off campus.  My friends and I have grabbed our favorite warm caffeinated beverages – caramel macchiato, please – and snagged a booth.  Simply being with others is something that I have learned to love and value in my last few years in this place.

The only thing to make an afternoon of coffee and conversation better is a good board game.  Some of our favorites are Settler’s of Catan, Anomia, Pandemic, or Scrabble, but the games that bring out everyone’s competitive side are my favorite.  Laughs are shared and frustration is expressed over buying sheep and rolling 7’s, or having no place for the Q without the U.

Fall is probably my favorite season on campus because of the variety of fun activities it brings with it.  I can’t forget to mention the apple orchard and corn maze trips as well as riding the tandem bikes through town or walking on the Puddle Jumper trail.  Finding fun in Northwestern’s community is not so daunting when surrounded by friends up for the same challenge!

My Visit at Western Seminary

This weekend I had the opportunity to travel with a group of students from Northwestern to visit Western Seminary in Holland, Michigan. 

At first I wasn't planning to go. I knew I would miss two days of school (including a test), I had projects to work on, and I was scheduled as one of the on-duty RAs for the weekend. But then the test was moved and a gracious soul said she'd cover the late night on-duty rounds for me. So I made the decision to tag along. And I'm so very glad that I did. 

There were only a few of us that went, so our group was pretty small. We had four students along and one professor. Why were we invited to go? Well, the five of us (yes, my professor included) are part of a slightly larger discern group on campus. What exactly are we trying to discern? The group was established for students like myself who have considered ministry and are trying to navigate what God has called them to. So naturally, we made the trip to Western Theological Seminary. 

We left campus on Saturday morning and returned Tuesday evening. During that time, we met with Western's President, Tim Brown, for pizza. We explored downtown Holland. We attended a favorite church of mine known as Pillar. We ate way too much delicious food. (Ever heard of Five Guys? Burgers and fries? I hadn't, but oh my goodness. Delish.) And we attended the Bast Preaching Festival on Monday. 

What I didn't realize going into the trip was how many people I would know at the preaching conference! Family friends, area pastors, you name it. So many connections from so many different places. At the conference I had the opportunity to listen to several pastors speak, both in main sessions and break-out seminars. It was helpful for me to hear different pastors share their process of writing a sermon, what works best for them and what challenges them. I really wish I had taken more notes, there was so much valuable information to soak in. 

One of my biggest takeaways regards the three marks of effective preaching: deeply engaging scripture, conveying the urgency of the gospel, and exhorting change and transformation. And that's really something to think about. How might a sermon bring about both individual and collective change? How might we seek to align lives with the gospel? 

It was encouraging for me to hear the passion within these pastors, a passion to share the gospel with others. I heard from both men and women. And I will say that it's always encouraging to hear of women who faithfully follow their call to ministry. The gospel is to be shared by all, for all. 

So many good things happened on this trip. Not near enough photos were taken. Not near enough description was given in my overview.

I'm thankful for my time in Holland and I'm very thankful for those who encouraged me to go along. Holland is a beautiful place full of beautiful people, and I'm thankful for the opportunity I had to visit. I certainly wouldn't complain if I were to find myself in Holland one day. We shall see where the Lord leads and what the future holds. 

Finding a Home at Northwestern

Shalom fellow and future Raiders! My name is Nick Heider, and I am a junior elementary education major from Humboldt, Iowa. This is my first blog post, so it’s fitting for me to tell you how excited I am to share with you some of my experiences here at Northwestern. This place has impacted my life in such an amazing way that can’t really be put into words, and I love being able to share with people how much Northwestern means to me. I truly believe that God put me where I am for a reason, and I would love to share with you how I ended up here!

In high school, Northwestern really wasn’t on my radar of colleges to go to, and I chose to attend a different school. After about one month, I realized that the school wasn’t for me and I needed to transfer. It seemed like every time the thought of transferring came to mind, something related to Northwestern did also. Whether it was my mom mentioning it, seeing an ad on the Internet, or finding my Northwestern shirt from basketball camp, I now understand how much of a role God played in this. Eventually I decided to make a visit to Orange City, and the minute I stepped on campus, I absolutely loved everything about it. I became a Raider in January of my freshman year and could not be happier with my decision!

Fast forward three semesters to the beginning of my junior year …

I think I blinked a few times and the calendar went from early August to the beginning of November. They say time flies when you’re having fun, and time is definitely flying right now! It seems like yesterday I was arriving on campus for RA training and soccer camp.

Being an RA and playing on the soccer team are just two of Northwestern’s many great opportunities that come with being a student here. I also play the drums on the Praise & Worship team, which puts on a student-led worship service every Sunday night in the chapel, and I'm a sportswriter for The Beacon, Northwestern’s student newspaper. In addition to these, I was also given the opportunity to lead a Spring Service Project in March to Bluefields, Nicaragua, a place that captured my heart last spring break. I feel incredibly blessed to go to a school that provides me with these opportunities!

To sum this all up, I could not be happier with Northwestern, and if you are a prospective student reading this, it is my prayer that you find yourself at a college that you can say the same about, whether that’s at Northwestern or not. I am very excited to get to share some of my experiences of everything from my home in Colenbrander Hall to the soccer field and in the classroom!

This Is It

As I sat at my desk and looked at a picture of my parents and me during senior night, I began to reflect upon that day. I thought about how my coach, Ben Karnish, said a prayer that brought me to tears. During part of his prayer he mentioned that the seniors have had a tough journey inside as well as outside of soccer. He also encouraged the underclassmen to play for the seniors because they have worked so hard. Some of his words really hit me as I realized that this road hasn't been an easy road these past 4 years.

I began to reflect and see that this is it. I am a senior and my soccer season is coming to a close. I began to think about how I've been playing this game for 15 years, since I was six years old.  I then thought about the moment I prayed during the national anthem and began to cry just thanking God for getting me this far.

As I reflected upon these moments the song "10,000 Reasons" started playing on my computer. I started to cry even more as I remembered that this very song is the same song I sang on the day of my graduation in high school. This was just 4 years ago. To think that I was a senior in high school and now a senior in college amazes me as I look back on this journey.

This journey has been rough, challenging, frustrating, overwhelming, rewarding, touching, but overall beautiful as I think of the moments where I felt like I was alone, but God showed me that I am never alone. As I think of the moments I felt like no one loved me on my birthday and was reminded through people, through Praise and Worship, through friends, through family, that Jesus loves me. It is His love that surpasses every other love in this world. As I began to reflect on the times that I struggled in my mind with internal, mental battles, and realized that God sent people in my life for such a time as this to remind me that I am an overcomer and I need to fight in the spirit.

God has showed me through His Holy Spirit that the enemy has been trying to put me down, take my joy, my confidence, my peace, myself, my voice, my mind, and my purpose, but God has continued to push me, fight for me, strengthen me, and speak to me. He has taught me that there are gifts, words, stories in me, that I need to share even though it will be uncomfortable.

It just makes me think that if this 4 years has shaped me significantly to become the woman I am today, then I believe greater is coming. God's not through with me. I know that He will use me in the classroom, in ministry, through my poems, throughout my life. I know that this time is only for a season, but I am so grateful for Northwestern and the lessons this place has taught me. I am forever thankful that God has been here through it all because I don't know what I would've done without Him by my side each of everyday. He is such a good good Father!

 

Building Community over Plastic

Over the past few months, a new hobby/sport has not only caught my eye but has been infiltrating my free time more and more. That is the sport of disc golf. Many know it by frisbee golf, or frolf. I also refer to it as "throwing some plastic."

For those unfamiliar, disc golf is pretty much the same concept as regular golf, except you throw discs at baskets instead. The sport is challenging yet rewarding, because you can see little improvements here and there that just keep you wanting to play more and more.

Since coming to campus, I have tried to go whenever I possibly can. With a few different courses not too far away, going after class started to become a habit. The more I played and talked about it, the more I realized that there were many guys who loved to chuck some plastic as well!

Slowing but surely, I was creating a little network of guys that I would go disc with. Some people only use one disc on the course, while others, like me, carry a bag full of discs. Regardless of the number of discs or skill level, we go and have a blast.

We soon discovered that there is a nice 18-hole course in Le Mars, Iowa, which is only a hop, skip and half jump away! But wait, there’s more. There is also a beloved Taco Bell in the same town. So now we do what I like to call the double trouble TBDG (Taco Bell Disc Golf) adventure.

Some guys and I load up my '99 Corolla and head down to Le Mars. We get 18, sometimes 36, holes of disc in. Then we head down to the ‘ole Taco Bell and feast. Not only is it satisfying to the max, but it builds the relationships like non other. I have always said the best friend moments come from sharing a beefy 5-layer burrito.

It is things like that that make this campus so special. I can ask someone to do something like that with me, and without hesitation people are down. But it isn’t just disc golf. It could be going to Walmart to buy a bunch of fish for my 36-gallon tank in my dorm room, or it could be playing cards or board games.

Needless to say, dull moments do not happen very often in my life in the North Suites. This year I have had the awesome opportunity to be the RA on the second floor. It has been a great opportunity to be the leader for our floor, and it has been an amazing experience so far.

Sadly, disc golf season is coming to an end as the winter is coming. Luckily that means it is the start of ping pong season. Time to round up some guys for a tournament! 

Changin' like the Fall Leaves

Captured this radically colored tree outside of Northwestern’s Christ Chapel

Captured this radically colored tree outside of Northwestern’s Christ Chapel

What’s up, everyone. My name is Justin Hullman, and I’m a freshman from Lincoln, Nebraska (“ROOTS” as my fellow soccer dudes would shout out). My time at Northwestern has been eventful, to say the least. Deep-rooted friendships, challenging classes and endless opportunities have been in full effect thus far. The tests are my favorite part, of course, but I want to share with you guys how much of an adventure it’s been exploring all three of these avenues as a freshman at Northwestern.

Like the changing leaves of fall (check out the picture attached), my transition into college has been quite similar. Graduating from a large public high school, I was aware that Northwestern was going to be a huge adjustment for me. From the familiarity of my day-to-day lifestyle back home, to sharing a community bathroom with 20 other college guys, I’ve definitely had to adjust to this unique season of life. As an autumn leaf-colored tree retains its green leaves until the final transition into the fall, I also have bits of home with me that have catapulted me to embrace the newness of college. I’ve always been a people-kind-of-guy, so I was stoked to come to NWC and do life alongside so many people. With that comes the transition—which can be somewhat tough, no lie.

Oh man, but let me tell you. The people are what make this giant switch from one season of life to the next so awesome. Living in Coly (the oldest all-male dorm on campus) has brought about spontaneous “what are the odds” situations and many late-night talks. Listening to people’s stories and how God is at work in their lives is what I’ve determined to be one of the coolest gifts God gives us. Being a Red Raider in general welcomes you into a vibrant community that’s all about facing the valleys and mountaintops that life brings. I have a family here, and I’m so humbled to be able to say that.

Growing up, I always had a passion for school. Don’t ask me how it happened because, to be honest, I couldn’t even tell you. In the tail-end of high school, God called me to pursue pastoral ministry. Having a vision to serve within an inner-city church post-college, I entered into NWC as a religion major. With hopes that God would rock my world with the stuff I’d learn from my top-notch professors, it’s safe to say that I totally underestimated His answer to those desires.

In the classroom I’ve learned about the effects that mass media has on society, and I’ve been diving deep into the Old Testament. My learning has also been able to travel. Yes, you read that right! A few weeks ago my youth ministry class and I took a trip down to Kansas City and listened to the author of one of our books speak at a conference. We couldn’t just do only that, of course, so we snagged some BBQ and jammed out to live jazz music! Experiences as such with my classmates/professors have been examples of how special studying at NWC truly is.

While looking at colleges, finances were one of my concerns, so I contacted Northwestern and began asking what I could do to make It work. The Lord continued to write His story for my life and presented many open doors to me. I made the choice to attend NWC over a handful of other schools, and it’s proven to be the right call.

The family here has welcomed me with open arms and has already brought about so many opportunities to thrive. One of the activities that I’m plugged into is that I’m on the Red Raiders men’s soccer team. Few things compare to playing the sport you love with a group of brothers you’d do anything for. I’ve learned so much, not only about soccer, but also about how to be a man of God who lives with integrity, character and devotion. Another amazing opportunity I’ve been blessed with is that I’m in a “spiritual multiplication” group with a group of fellow NWC guys. We meet once a week and discuss how we can share the love of Christ to others around us. As iron sharpens iron, we’ve been able to sharpen each other’s faith. As a freshman, I couldn’t ask for a more complete set of opportunities!

If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking around and reading my first ever blog. I’m a rookie in more ways than one, so my hope is that you at least learned one thing from this ramble of mine: God is good all the time, and all the time God is good—even as you transition from one season of life to the next.

The Perks of Being an RA

I have officially been a Resident Assistant in Fern Smith Hall for just around 6 weeks now...and I am loving it! 

Actually though, I get PAID to live life with the women on my wing. We share meals together, watch movies together, laugh together, share stories with one another, and talk out the stresses in our lives together. Yes, I'll admit there are responsibilities to being an RA that aren't always the most exciting endeavors, but the bulk of what I do daily is simply living and interacting with the residents on my wing. These women I get to live with are my Third South family.

It's so crazy thinking back to freshmen move-in day. I knew nothing about the residents on my wing. They knew nothing about me. They didn't know exactly what would await them once our upperclassmen arrived back on the wing. Let me tell you, my wing has got some character. We've got some noise, laughter, and lots and lots of character. Drop by sometime, you'll see (and hear) what I mean. 

As I've thought back on the past few weeks, I've realized how thankful I am for the residents on my wing and the memories we've shared. So in honor of the joy I have experienced thus far, I present to you the perks of being an RA:

1. Movie nights. Lots and lots of movie nights. Movies on Friday nights, movies on Saturday nights. Movies on Movie Mondays. (Maybe we should get out more often.) 

2. Wing dinner. Wing dinner happens every Tuesday night in the caf. The first night we had wing dinner, so many women were available to come that we had to pull a few tables together to fit everyone. What I love about wing dinners is that it's a time set aside in which the residents of Third South can come together and share a meal together. 

3. My glorious microwave. The only microwave on each wing is located in the RA's room. (Oh hey, that's my room!) What I love about the microwave is that it brings people into my room. On the nights when I'm a hermit crab typing up an essay in my room, residents come in to make popcorn, mac 'n cheese, soup...you name it. It's an opportunity for me to connect with a few of the women on my wing, if only for just a few minutes. 

4. Communication. What I greatly appreciate is when the women on my wing take the initiative to come and talk with me. Whether it's something that needs to be addressed, or it's a quick story about their day. I love when that communication is shared. 

5. Support. It has been beautiful for me to witness the support the women of my wing have given to one another, and also to myself. My upperclassmen are supportive in every way possible of my role as an RA, they encourage the wing, and they provide much-appreciated wisdom. No one expects me to have it all together all the time, because let's be real, I'm human. They understand that some days are stressful. They understand that we're all broken, and that together we have the ability to lift one another up.

6. Independence. Amen. These ladies are independent. They know I'm here to support them, but they're also willing to take a whack at their problems and take charge of the situation. For that, I'm extremely grateful. 

7. Respect. Living with 18 other women is not always the easiest thing to do. We have four toilet stalls and three showers to share. But the women on my wing do it without complaining. They respect one another's space and respect the fact that we do, in fact, have to clean up after ourselves.

8. Laughter. I love laughing. A lot, I really do. There has not been a single day that has gone by in which no laughter has been shared on the wing. Even if I'm stressed by schoolwork, or whatever it may be, laughter always seems to dissipate the problem and ease my worries. 

In no way do these eight perks begin to sum up the amazing memories I've experienced with my wing, but hopefully they give you an idea of how awesome my job really is. Here's to the rest of the school year. I can't wait for all that's ahead. 

Hello to Hell Week

From my last 120s on the track at 6am, to my last time bonding during hell week with such an awesome group of girls, I feel so blessed to be a part of the Northwestern women's soccer team. This year has been by far my favorite year as a soccer player. Though it's been a tough journey these past few years, I am grateful for this team.

During hell week we took one day to get off of campus and bond as a group. I heard we were going camping, so I thought in my head, "Lord Jesus, I can't do this." The bugs, tents, and dirt just aren't for me. 

Before the trip, Coach Karnish decided to tell the whole team we had to compete for our cabins. Whoever lost in laser tag had to sleep in the tents. The winners got to sleep in cabins. I just thought to myself, "This is not happening." So we went laser tagging at this huge outdoor facility with our goggles and epic guns.

As the day went by, I thought I was doing pretty good. I stayed away from everybody and tried my best not to die. It wasn't until going up stairs to the indoor glow room that they nailed me (aka the 5 freshman/Karnish). 

Long story short, I unfortunately didn't make the cut. So me and five other girls had to sleep in a tent. I thought to myself, "Maybe this won't be too bad after all." So we did what we knew, with no directions at all, and me and about 8 other girls put up this tent. As I looked at it, I tilted my head and thought, "This tent looks crooked." We did what anybody would've done, we left it alone, realizing the next morning that the whole tent looked like it was falling. 

That night, I remember sleeping on a slant thinking it was going to pour down rain. I was freaking out. Even though I heard so much noise that night, I remember it distinctly because I had one of the best conversations I have ever had with soccer girls. We went from get-to-know-you surface questions to questions that hit people deep. We laughed, some cried, but we had a good time overall. I am thankful for that night as I thought to myself, "Building that tent and bonding with my team far outweighed my thoughts about camping, and for that, I am truly grateful." 

Greecey Summer

              Here I am back in Orange City, trying to get into the swing of things once again. Classes are in session and they are going quite well so far, but I find myself reminiscing a lot about the summer. I had the opportunity to travel to Greece for three weeks in May and June with nine other Northwestern students and Professor Vonder Bruegge.

              Northwestern has a summer study abroad program that allows students to travel to different countries. This trip was associated with the Honors Program, in which we studied and learned about Greece by traveling there. Each student in the class came from different majors. The reason we went to Greece was because it was home to the start of so many different disciplines, and most all of us could find and apply our major to a certain site in Greece.

              We traveled all over the country and saw a lot—and I mean a lot—of old stuff. I don't think I truly realized the concept of old until I visited Greece. We saw pottery that was dated around 3,000 years ago, which is pretty dang old. Professor Vonder Bruegge was telling us about a column that fell, recently, that once stood tall to support the Temple of Zeus. When he said recently, he meant 300 years ago. That blew my mind! However, when we are talking about ancient Greek history, 300 years is a bat of an eye. 

              We each studied a site in preparation for the trip, and when we got there, we were the “tour guide” for the day. When we got to my site, which was in Delphi, I have never nerded out academically more in my entire life than I did in that moment. When you see an ancient site in person that you researched in depth, it is one of the most fulfilling moments ever. It was so incredible showing people around a site that I felt like I knew in detail, even though I had never actually been there before.

              I have been saving a very important detail about my trip until now. Of course, it is the food. When talking about Greek food, the gyro is the go to. I thought I had had some pretty good gyros here in America, but boy, did Greece take it to the next level! For those who are not aware, a gyro is a pita with either pork or chicken, tomato, tzatziki, onions and french fries all wrapped up in all of its goodness. Over the course of three weeks, I no doubt had at least 50 of them. 

              On the spiritual side, we visited an evangelical church, and what an experience that was. It was, of course, in Greek, but there were headphones that translated it into English. This experience was life changing because I was always told that there is a global church, which I knew was absolutely true, but once I traveled thousands of miles and experienced it firsthand, it made it so much more meaningful.

              This trip was a trip of a lifetime and has so much more meat in it that I simply can’t unpack in one blog. To put it simply, it was one that challenged me in many ways and made me step outside my comfort zone and try new things. 

It's Okay To Be A Little Stressed Out

Fall semester of the 2016-17 academic year has officially begun! Students are on campus, classes have started, and due dates have been given.

For many, the beginning of each school year is an exciting time. Friends move back onto campus, reunions take place, and great conversations occur. New friendships are made, new opportunities arise, and many new experiences are had. 

But the beginning of a new year can also be stressful. I'm discovering it can very well be both exciting and stressful at the same time.

So to everyone who is stressed or overwhelmed, I want you to know it's okay. You're not alone.

It seems that all at once, everything begins. Classes get going, extracurricular practices are held, on-campus work-study starts, events are scheduled, and all these previous commitments you made start to rise back to the surface. 

Some students jump from hectic and busy summers right into the school year, and that can be stressful. Some students come to campus from relaxing summers and find the transition back to college to be a little overwhelming. Some students are living away from home for the first time; though they've said their goodbyes to family and friends back home, that doesn't make it any easier. Some students are dealing with really tough issues, and the thought of adding homework to that already large load seems to accentuate the present stress.

Wherever you land on the spectrum from at peace to stressed out, it's okay. I can guarantee you there are several others on campus with the same kind of feelings as you.

Me? I'm stressed out. But I've done this thing before. I know it will all work out.

Today marks the beginning of my sophomore year. I'm excited for so much this year, but I've got to admit that right now I'm a little stressed out. 

Looking at the grand scheme of the whole semester's work and all of my commitments can be overwhelming. The trick is to take it all one day at a time. Take each assignment, each commitment, and each practice one at a time. Take care of yourself, sleep, and know that you'll get the hang of things soon enough.

It might take time, but eventually you'll realize that yeah, you've got this.

You've got this, and you've got the whole campus community walking right beside you.

What to Expect Freshman Year

So it’s your first year of college, huh? You’ve come to the right place.

This time last year I was in the same boat as you. I knew what dorm I’d be living in, what my class schedule looked like, and who my roommate would be. (Hadn’t met her yet, but we’d talked quite a bit over Facebook.) We were both excited, but also a little nervous. We had hopes for the year, hopes for friendships and new experiences, but there were also a few things we were unsure of.

I knew quite a few people going into college; my roommate only knew me.  I don’t think either of us had any idea of the amazing relationships God had in store.

I wondered what classes would be like, who I would meet, and what community ACTUALLY looked like at Northwestern. Growing up in Orange City, I had formed for myself an idea of what life at NWC was like. But let me tell you, there’s a big difference between observing something and actually experiencing it.

If this fall will be your first semester on campus, get excited!

College very well may be one of the best experiences of your life. Remember that college is what you make of it. Choose to make the best of the opportunities you find. Invest in those around you. Spend time in God’s Word. And remember─it’s okay to be a little nervous. College is a big transition.

If you’re wondering what to expect at Northwestern, I’m here to help you out. I can’t say your experience will be the same as mine, or that we’ll see eye to eye on everything, but I can give you a little glimpse into my perspective.

Here are a few questions you might have, and the answers I’ve found this past year:

What’s it like to have a roommate?

Honestly─it depends on the roommate. Your room is no longer just your room─it’s also their room. You’re sharing a living space with this person, so put in the effort to make it work. Don’t ignore them. Take the time to get to know them. Understand that you might not share the same interests. Your roommate may come to be your best friend, or they might not─either is fine. When it comes to having a roommate, consider the characteristics you want in a roommate and emulate those yourself. Show respect and remember that in any relationship, communication is key. Talk early about expectations and what’s okay. Set boundaries and respect those boundaries.

Having a roommate can be one of the best experiences of your life. Don’t make assumptions early on, and keep an open mind to what the year might hold.

Check out my personal blog for more tips on Getting To Know Your College Roommate.

How much homework will I have?

Again, it all depends. It depends on your class load and your chosen major. It’s a safe bet to say that most nights will be filled with homework. Some days will be filled with homework. Even some weekends will be filled with homework. But know that not every week is the same. You might have two tests one week and work non-stop, or you might have a week where you’ve got a smaller-than-normal load. Don’t stress too much the first few weeks of school. I promise, sooner or later you’ll get into the swing of things and realize that everything’s going to be okay.

If you’re anything like me, your first day of classes will be very OVERWHELMING. In college, most professors hand out the semester’s syllabus on the first day of class. This means you’ll know when tests will be given and when homework will be due for the whole semester. Opposed to high school, you’ll have access to everything, and seeing it all laid out before you might be pretty intimidating. Take a deep breath and take things as they come. Look ahead so you know what’s coming, but don’t let the bulk of it all stress you out.

Can I study AND have a job?

Yes! Last year I worked at the library circulation desk, called for admissions, wrote for the Beacon, and was a student assistant. If you’re able to manage your time, you can very easily study and find time to work. Side note: You’re going to want the money.

What does a typical day of school look like?

Most classes are every other day. If you have a class on Monday, you’ll also have it on Wednesday and Friday. These classes are typically an hour long. If you have a class on Tuesday, you’ll also meet on Thursday. These classes are typically an hour and a half long.

In high school classes ran from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. In college, however, you might not have class until 11:50 a.m., or your whole day of classes might be done by 11:50. A typical day might have around two or three classes. If you’re doing the math, you’ll realize that you’re left with a lot of extra time. Chances are there’ll be semesters where you have hours between classes to go and do what you like. (Hate to break it to ya, but it’s probably going to be homework related.) You might go to the library to study, your dorm room to sleep, or the caf to eat. Or you might just go and hang out with friends. That’s the cool thing about living on campus─you’re living with friends 24/7.

You might go the the RSC (fitness center) to work out or play ping pong with friends, you might just hang out in your dorm room, or you might play volleyball outside on the campus green.

Chapel is required?

Chapel is held consistently on Tuesdays for one hour and on Fridays for 30 minutes. This past year the college went through some changes regarding the number of chapel credits required and the number of times it would be held throughout the week.

Yes, you’re required to get 28 Christian formation credits per semester, but that’s out of 62 possible credits from chapel alone. Throughout the semester you’ll find other opportunities and events that count towards those credits. So no, you don’t have to go to chapel every time it’s held. There will be times you might just want to study for a test instead. But when you are in chapel─listen to the speaker, don’t sleep. Sing the songs, don’t text your friends. Chapel is a place to come together as a campus community to lift our praises to the Lord. Please don’t disrespect it for those who want to worship.

This year we’ll also have a new Director of Christian Formation and a new Director of Worship. From what I hear of these guys, this is gonna be a pretty great year.

Where do I even start making friends?

Chances are, you’ve had many of the same friends since elementary school. And chances are, they’re not following you to college. Some of you will come to campus knowing absolutely no one. I’m here to tell you that Northwestern is full of some pretty great people, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that you'll find someone to connect with.

Be open to conversation. Be willing to put yourself out there and say hi to someone. The first thing I told one of my best friends was that I liked her hair. By the time orientation weekend was over, I knew I had made a lifelong friend. Go to different events and meet different people. Invest in the lives of those on your wing. Be present and be yourself. You don’t have to put up a front in college.

Okay, the big question. What is community at NWC really like?

Northwestern is one big, encouraging community─and that’s really cool, but beyond that there are smaller communities within NWC that together make up the heart and soul of the campus. I found community on my wing and in my group of friends. These are the people I spend the most time with. These are the ones who pray with me and for me, who eat meals with me. These are the ones who simply walk life with me. Others might find community on their sports team or in their academic department. Some might find community in their RUSH group or in the band. What’s special is that because each community is interconnected, you will feel at home in any of them. And you can be a part of any of them. Together they make up the campus community of Northwestern.

So there you have it, my friends! A little taste of what’s ahead this coming year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get back onto campus. As cliche as it sounds, it’s the community─and the people within that community. I can’t wait for you to experience it yourself.

 

Boker Tov

This year I have had the opportunity to take Hebrew here at Northwestern. The one and only Dr. Mead was the one to lead my classmates and me through this journey. The year has been full of learning experiences, such as learning Hebrew vocab words, grammar and translations.

The course is focused on Biblical Hebrew, so if you come up and ask me how to say something like “Happy Birthday”,  I won’t know. However, if you come up to me and ask me about Hebrew I can almost guarantee I will throw a boker tov at you, which means good morning.

Hebrew has its ups and downs for sure. One minute you're feeling super great and understanding everything and then the verbal system comes flying at you and you immediately retract to the fetal position. Overall, learning the ways of the Hebrew language has not been an easy experience, but it has been a fun one.

One of the assignments Dr. Mead had us do this second semester was to contact a local pastor in Orange City and help them on a sermon. We were to ask them to give us a passage they were going to preach on from the Old Testament. Our job was to dissect the passage and tell them everything there is to know about the original language of the section of scripture.

I reached out to Pastor Tim down at First Reformed Church. He gave me the passage from Genesis 32 about Jacob wrestling with God. So over the course of the semester I spent a lot of time diving into the passage. I went straight to the original Hebrew text and started translating. After looking in depth at the Hebrew words, seeing how they fit together and deciphering their different meanings, I went straight for the commentaries. There I found what other people have said about the Hebrew translation and compiled them together.

A couple weeks ago I received an email from Pastor Tim telling me he is preaching on the passage soon. I asked him if we could meet so I could tell him what I found to aid him in the preparation of his sermon. He then asked me if I would be willing to join him on the stage during the service to help him educate the congregation. I was rather scared at first not knowing what to think.

Even though I am a religion major and have hopes to one day be a pastor, I have never been on a stage during a service or done anything like this before. Nonetheless it was a phenomenal opportunity and I absolutely wanted to give it a try.

Early Sunday morning we had a chat and talked about how the service was going to go down. The service came and he preached for a while then called me up on stage. It ended up going well and it was such a great experience for someone wanting to go into ministry. The opportunity that Pastor Tim offered me affirmed my vocation in ministry. I am super grateful for the experience and the opportunity to be up on stage with him. 

Future RA: Day 1

I know the school year’s coming to the close, but I’ve gotta tell ya─I’m pretty pumped for next year. After spring break I found out that next year I’ll be an RA in Fern, and just this past week I finally found out what wing I’ll be living on.

Rumors had been spreading for quite some time that Thursday was “the day”, so the big reveal wasn’t a complete shock to me. We (being the future RAs) were also told to wear tennis shoes to our meeting that night for a “fun activity” [wink wink]. Emphasis on the [wink wink].

So around 9:00pm that night, all eight of the new 2016-2017 Fern RAs met up in our RD Lindsay’s apartment. We started off with a confidentiality agreement that we were told to read WORD for WORD and then sign.

I haven’t read very many confidentiality agreements in my life, so please take my critique with a grain of salt, but I had a pretty hard time following what that agreement was saying.

“This agreement signifies that the ‘employer’ who employs the ‘employee’ will provide employment to the ‘employee’should they choose to accept employment with the ‘employer’ who employs the ‘employee’”.

Something like that. I may or may not have skimmed over a few sentences. Which would explain to the other girls who were carefully reading the paper word for word why I jumped up and started running around the apartment.

At the bottom of the confidentiality agreement was the first clue to discovering our future wing. Hidden somewhere in the apartment was a piece of paper with my name on it. And I was determined to find it.

Did I find it? Sadly, no.

After a while Lindsay hinted at her coat pocket hanging on the door, and what would you know my note was in there!

The first clue led me to the circulation desk at the library where I work. [To the girl who stopped me to ask about a paper we’ve been assigned to write, I’m sorry I didn't stay around to answer all of your questions. I hope you understand.]

The second clue led me to a windmill off campus. [Off. Campus. Glad I had the tennis shoes for running.]

The third clue led me to my favorite professor’s office. My mom!

The fourth clue led me to my mailbox in the RSC.

The fifth clue led me back to my dorm room in search of my lovely roommate, who told me the next clue was hidden somewhere in our room. After finding the note in a random tennis shoe near my bed, I was sent back to my RD’s apartment─with the tennis shoe in hand.

Thus began my internal search as to which current RA the tennis shoe belonged to. 

After all of the future Fern RAs got back to the apartment, each with a shoe in hand, this year’s current RAs came in with the matching shoes. Then there were many, many [probably too many from me] screams of excitement as we realized whose wing we would be taking over.

Moment of truth here─what wing did I get? Fern 3rd South, in case you were wondering. Then we celebrated with cheesecake. Doesn’t get better than that kids. Doesn’t get better than that. 

 

ONE LOVE

"There is power in unity

As we love in our community

And live as Christ's body

As I am the thigh

And you are the knee

 

It is then

We begin

To show people

A glimpse of eternity."

On Friday, we had our first performance as a poetry club at the 2nd annual One Love, hosted by La Mosaic at the Old Factory. God has been so good through this process! 

The whole idea of this group poem started off about a month ago when I was writing a poem focusing on how I see community. After writing this poem, I thought, "I really want to share this poem in chapel." So I decided to text Rahn Franklin and ask him If I could say this poem for a chapel sometime this year. Unfortunately, everything was booked. He then asked me if I wanted to collaborate with La Mosaic for One Love. I thought about it and answered, "That would be great!" After reading his text, I started thinking about what we could do as a group for this event.  After a time, I peeked over the desk in the study lounge and shouted in a whisper to my friend Renju, who is a part of the SOAR (Step Out and Rise) Poetry club, “It would be so cool to do a group poem with  SOAR.  What do you think?" With a big old smile on her face she answered, "Let's do it!" After that, I gathered other people from our club, and it was official!

With only a few weeks until April 8th, we talked about our ideas and what we wanted to present as a group.

The poem we put together was based around the One Love event. I tried to organize regular meetings for the next couple of weeks as we talked about how we were going to set up this piece, what we wanted to write about, and how we could tie our poem into the concept of one love.

So we brainstormed and thought about doing a poem that would communicate to people our past struggles. Even though we have gone through different trials, we are still one body of Christ, loved by our Creator. Each person chose one word or phrase such as loneliness, fear of loss, lack of confidence, fear of failure or fear of being forgotten. These words were written on signs that hung from our necks. They represented areas where we each had struggled within our past. After we talked about some of the words, I just knew in my spirit that this piece was going to be powerful! 

The weeks went by, and we went outside one Sunday afternoon. It was so great to be able to soak up that beautiful sun. We shared what we wrote together as we laughed and enjoyed each other's presence. A couple of days later, on a Thursday afternoon, we walked through the whole performance for the first time!  As we walked through it, I knew that God was moving. Everything sounded absolutely beautiful as we spoke with confidence, as music played behind our vocals. With just one day before the actual performance, I had so much peace.

 When I think about it, I should have been frantic, but I had so much stillness, as I let God take the wheel rather than myself. God was the one to start this club through a simple idea, so I had to continue to trust Him through the process. Thank God I did!  As the week progressed and we walked through it, I thought, "We are ready, let's just do it!" 

So we walked through the piece, prayed beforehand, and performed that Friday night as my dream became a reality. 

This process taught me to never stop pursuing what God places in my heart. I almost gave up on this club! I remember wanting to meet one day but nobody could go. I knew that was a God moment because in my heart I wasn't right with God. So for an hour, I prayed in the prayer room instead of meeting. Thank God we didn't meet that day! Even through the hard times, I did not give up as I continued to pursue this call on my life!

Now I see how each and every person has grown, I see how I grow each time I perform, and I see how rising up can cast out fear.

There is so much beauty in action.  I believe faith kills fear and I desire to step out and rise in many other areas in my life.  Now that I started this club, I keep thinking, "Why not do it with a group of people? Why not grow together? Why keep this desire for myself?" God placed people in this club for a reason. Many of these members are soft spoken, a lot quieter, but have such powerful stories. Even though people see courage in me, I am just like these individuals. I just choose to not let fear stop me and to step out and rise to be the women I am created to be. 

So that Friday night, that's exactly what we did. I am so proud of each and every one of them. I realize that this is more than just me, God is moving. They may not realize it now, but they are beginning to soar and be free as they step out and rise for the King! 

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:31

Springtime Shenanigans

With the arrival of springtime at Northwestern comes an infectious energy that seems to race through the dorms and buildings on campus, pulling students outside all over campus.

 

However, Mother Nature is not always so cooperative. For example, our first taste of spring weather a couple weeks ago was quickly followed by a literal blizzard that left us with nearly 10 inches of snow… Leaving all of us spring fever-smitten Northwestern students trapped inside with excess amounts of energy.

 

The rebirth of the natural world is only one of many reasons why I love the Eastertide and Resurrection season, but it definitely makes for the most fun. After all, the pent-up winter energy has to go somewhere! Just last week, several friends and I dragged a full drum set, a guitar, a saxophone, and amps down to the Green to jam together. People came out to dance, and we had a great time. Everyone’s been a bit restless to get active and do things. I realize Jamie just blogged about April Fools’ Day, but I thought my experience was too good not to share as well.

 

I guess my first clue of something awry should have been when my neighbor Pickle (Peter Smith) nonchalantly asked me, “So, Lincoln… I thought you had class right now?” I thought nothing of it, and informed him that I actually was headed to class at the moment. Fast forward to an hour and a half later, and I was standing dumbfounded in the center of my quite empty room, which had been stripped of all furniture, possessions, and, well… Everything. (Picture below) All of my personal items had been equally and carefully hidden in about 10 other surrounding dorm rooms. College, right? What’s a guy to do?

 

Pranks aren’t the only shenanigans that arrive with the springtime. The last few nights up in Heemstra have involved bullfrogs hopping around rooms, intense wrestling matches, and unfulfilled dares to swallow live fish. One of the most beautiful things about living in community is that, regardless of the weather, you always have at least a few friends hanging around who want to hang out or do something. Lately, we’ve been finding as many excuses as possible to get outside to play Frisbee, football, or soccer, or to gather around a bonfire.

 

Tonight, the guys from Heemstra and the girls from our sister wing are planning to play a game of “Manhunt,” which is essentially a giant game of tag played throughout the entire city. It’s looking like the temperature might get down close to freezing tonight, but it makes no difference. Once you’ve been bitten by the bug of springtime, nothing can keep you inside! Personally, I’m pumped to break out my jorts.

 

I say all of this because I’ve spent a significant amount of time lately reflecting on the fact that this will be my last spring at college. My spirit has been lifted by the warm weather, and the sheer joy of being able to forget about homework for a couple hours and get outside has been a tremendous blessing to my senior year. This is essentially the quintessential college experience, or at least what I imagined college to be like in high school – a bunch of friends finding joy in community together. I can only hope that 20 years from now, I’m still finding excuses to slip off my shoes and run barefoot through the grass.

 

Take time to embrace those things that used to capture your fascination as a child. This time, I’ll leave you all with a quote from one of my favorite books, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv:

 

“Passion does not arrive on videotape or on a CD; passion is personal. Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young, its travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart.”

My dresser had somehow made its way into the bathroom...

My dresser had somehow made its way into the bathroom...

April Fools

April Fools Day.

What a day it has been.

I'm not one to go all out for the classic "holiday," but this year I thought I'd do a little something that really didn't take any extra time or effort out of my day.

This year, in commemoration of the much-anticipated day of pranking, my friends and I decided we'd pull a little harmless prank on one of our good friends on the wing. Needless to say, she did not see it coming. In fact, she didn't even notice. Well, until we told her.

A few of us have had this plan in the making for quite some time now. A couple weeks back, some of us noticed that Michelle had all these clothes in her closet that she never wore, and as a group we came to the consensus that it was time those clothes saw the light of day. We also figured she wouldn't notice, but wanted to give it a shot anyway, just to see if she'd unknowingly prove us wrong.

On the eve of our prank, when Michelle was off at choir, we distributed some of her shirts and dresses around the wing. Her roommate was careful to select clothes that she wore very rarely, hoping our selections wouldn't be too obvious to Michelle. Oddly enough, though we each have distinct and unique styles, we all found something in Michelle's closet that was quite believable for ourselves. By this I mean no one would have guessed it wasn't our own.   

So the day for our prank came along (I was maybe a little too excited), we all put on our designated outfits, and we went about our merry ways, waiting to see if Michelle would notice anything. I only saw Michelle once on the way down to breakfast, and by lunch I was a little worried our paths wouldn't cross and she'd never see me wearing her shirt. Then, right as I was sitting down to lunch with a friend, Michelle sat at the table across from me, directly facing me. 'This was it', I thought. Surely she would notice something. Nada.

The day continued on like usual, we passed by her room and said hi, we passed her outside on the way to class, we went about our normal routines, and by 9 p.m. we decided it was time to take some executive action. Because Michelle had said nothing, we decided to post a photo of the six of us wearing her clothes to Facebook, tagging Michelle and letting her know what we'd been up to that day.

Later that night, when Michelle was scrolling through her Facebook feed, she saw the photo and everything seemed to click into place. 

Michelle joked that she was flattered that we all wanted to take part in her style, but admitted she never noticed throughout the day. 

The next morning I returned her shirt and she just cracked up laughing. 

I'm thankful for laughter, and I'm thankful for friends. I'm especially thankful for my dear friend Michelle and the joy she brings to those around her. These are the stories I'll remember forever. 

Find Your Sanctuary

I am a busy person. Undeniably so. Glancing at the penned-in reminders and notes in my daily planner from the months of February and March is enough to give anyone anxiety.

Typically, that’s my jam. The busy life is the only life I know, so I thrive in that environment. I find my heart and mind inexorably pulled in so many directions, and I find myself fascinated to an extent that I simply must say “yes” to everything! This approach to life has planted the seeds for many of the incredible experiences I’ve had, and the passions that fill me today. 

As aforementioned, I’ve just emerged from one of the busiest seasons of my life--a season filled with spirituality, academia, theater, music, faith events, athletics, travel, conversation, public speaking, political activism, leadership, and much more. And to be honest, I feel unquestionably rejuvenated. It’s a testimony to passion itself for me to emerge from this season with newly made lifelong friends, a heightened and deepened understanding of God, and a smile on my face. For that I am grateful.

One of the most laughable ironies in my life is my longing for and fascination with the Hebrew Shabbat, or Sabbath. I would consider myself a “neo-Sabbatarian”--someone who values holy time of rest and retreat in life. However, rest is not so easily found in my life of busyness. In fact, I would say that my career aspiration of someday living “off the grid” on a small farm is probably (to a certain extent) a direct reaction to the efficient-focused mindset I have had for much of my life.

My desire for sabbath has led me into many conversations with friends, one of whom shared with me this thought-provoking tidbit of wisdom:

“The busy person cannot truly love their neighbor.” 

My initial reaction to this bold statement was one of derision. After all, doesn’t a lifestyle of Christian love require constant perception, action, and conversation? However, as I continued to ponder, it dawned on me that this statement is less of an inherent criticism of industry, and more of an invitation to reshape one’s life in a Kingdom-centered way.

Simply put, sometimes we need to move from the breadth of love to the depth of love.

Friends, all I ask that you glean from this rambling testimony is one thing: there is nothing remotely holy about busyness itself. American culture will try to tell you otherwise, that our eyes, ears, and mouths should constantly be filled with experience, technology, convenience, and progress. Nonetheless, we can only love our neighbor so much from behind the screen of a smartphone, or from brief coffee dates every other month.

Be still, and know God. Grow where you’re planted. Remind yourself that maybe the only thing your neighbor asks of you is to be present. Unplug from the constant onslaught of noise in our world, and take a risk and plug into your neighbor. Know their life, their joy, and their pain. Say “no” every once in a while. Take an afternoon and just do nothing. Learn about yourself. What lifestyle is best for you to fully love your neighbor?

I’ll leave you all with some lyrics from a song written by my dear friend Adam:

I hope everybody’s got a sanctuary

Even if it’s just a little temporary

Hole inside the wall like a poor-lit broken door toilet stall

 

Yeah, I hope everybody’s got a sanctuary

Even it’s just a little temporary

Hole inside the wall or a restful quiet spot inside your heart

 

May you live so deep within your heart

 

God invites us to seek a life that goes deeper than the everyday hustle-bustle of surface-level relationships. How will you respond to that invitation?

-- Lincoln

I found some rest over spring break with The Black V, Northwestern's comedy improv team. Here we are eating some ice cream for breakfast!

I found some rest over spring break with The Black V, Northwestern's comedy improv team. Here we are eating some ice cream for breakfast!