P&W

Northwestern College may be small on a map compared to many United States colleges and universities, but we have a loud voice comparable to none when it comes to praising the God who created us. At Northwestern, we have an evening worship service dedicated to worshiping God–Praise and Worship on Sunday night. It’s different from chapel on campus because it is not required, and it is student-led rather than faculty/staff-led. Chapel is also a great place for growth and worship; our Dean of Christian Formation, Mark DeYounge, has a tangible passion for the Lord and puts great thought and prayer into the messages we hear each week.

But back to Praise and Worship night, or in the words of most students, P&W. Regularly pronounced P – n – Dub and hosted every Sunday night, P&W is a night for students who want to dedicate time in their schedules to the Lord to do so in fellowship with other students. Often times a student will prepare a short message or testimony to share between the music at the beginning and end of the hour-long service. On these nights, the building is so filled with the voices of God’s children that sometimes it seems like the chapel walls themselves will collapse in the wake of such heartfelt passion.

Every word we sing and every hand that is lifted in praise is for the purpose of surrendering our hearts and bringing God the glory he deserves.

We have a fantastic band of student musicians and singers on stage each week, and though the lights are dimmed in the sanctuary and the faces next to you aren’t as easily seen, it does nothing to stop the warmth and fellowship that hovers in the atmosphere. Every word we sing and every hand that is lifted in praise is for the purpose of surrendering our hearts and bringing God the glory he deserves. There is so much more to say about nights like these, but I hope what I’ve told you inspires you to get yourself to a P&W night as soon as possible. It’s one of those things that you have to experience yourself to understand all it encompasses. That being said, I hope to see you there someday!

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Don't take these things for granted

The beginning of this week marked the Fine Arts Preview Days on campus for prospective students. On December 3 and 4, high school students who are interested in theatre, visual art and/or music came to Northwestern to have an in-depth experience to find out what the fine arts are really like here. I was excited to host a prospective student overnight who was eager to have all of her questions about Northwestern answered. As I thought about my responses to her inquiries, I realized that there is a great deal about Northwestern that I take for granted.

With approximately 1,200 students, Northwestern is the perfect size for cultivating a sense of community.

As we were leaving Praise and Worship on Sunday night, my prospective student asked me if I knew everyone who was in the chapel at the time. I looked around, and even though there were faces I couldn’t put a name to, I was surprised by how many people I actually knew. I absolutely love the size of Northwestern. With approximately 1,200 students, Northwestern is the perfect size for cultivating a sense of community. It is nearly impossible to walk around campus without seeing someone you know and share a “hello” in passing. I too often take for granted that I am not just a number or another student on campus.

I am so grateful for my professors here at Northwestern.

My prospective student asked me about the professors on campus a little later. I let her in on all of the great things about my professors…how relaxed, funny and energetic they are. Though all of those traits are great in a professor, my favorite thing about each and every one of them, I told her, is that they care about you as a student. They want to help you do well. Most are more than willing to meet outside of class to discuss any number of things you may have on your mind. The connections I have with my professors would be much different if I was at a bigger school. I am so grateful for my professors here at Northwestern.

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We were eating in the Hub when my prospective student asked me if the chairs and tables she saw in the mall area of the RSC [Rowenhorst Student Center] were for studying. I told her that I always see people working on their computers with open textbooks in the facility. She was amazed at the number of study spots we had on campus and after I thought about it, I was too! Every building on campus has a spot to hunker down. The LC [Learning Commons], Ramaker, VPH [Van Peursem Hall], Christ Chapel…you name it! It is so nice to have different places to work on things in case your favorite spot is taken. You will never not be able to find a place to study.

Finals week scramble

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As the end of the semester approaches, it can feel like all of the responsibilities you’ve been juggling all semester have suddenly multiplied themselves by ten. Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but keeping up with all of the things going on toward the end of the semester can get pretty challenging. No matter your major or what activities you’re involved in, the upcoming sprint to finals week is always one of the hardest of the year. That’s why I try to follow a few tips to keep myself focused on track to finish strong.

First of all, one of the most important things to remember when you’re cramming for a test or writing a paper–snacks. Usually I’m pretty cautious about spending money, but this is one time that it’s ok to treat yourself a little and splurge. If you have leftover flex money, now is a great time to spend it. Buy your friends some coffee at Common Grounds, or buy out all the snacks in the Hub. Either way, if you load up on snacks, I always feel like it makes your study time a little more pleasant.

You should also find a study spot that works for you. Besides the Learning Commons, there are dozens of other spots on campus that students use when they need to buckle down and concentrate, and a whole blog post could be written solely on study spots. Some go for Ramaker, others prefer the quiet of the theatre and some people use the study rooms in their dorms. One bonus of the Learning Commons is that Common Grounds is right around the corner, and you can lock your phone up with the front desk while you study. But if you have a little more self-control, feel free to get creative. It might take some time to find what works best for you, but once you find a spot where you can really crank out your best work, stake it out for the week.

Lastly, don’t forget to take some time to de-stress. Finals week and dead week can be stressful, but it’s important to get out of your head sometimes and have some fun. Every dorm on campus has an event during finals week called “zoo hour.” For one hour, every night, the dorms break the 24–hour quiet zone rule of finals week and cut loose. In my dorm, Steggy, there are dance parties and craft breaks, while in other dorms, like Hospers, I think they run around outside.

There are plenty of things to be stressed about, but preserving your own happiness is important too. So write that paper and study for that test, but also take some time to turn up the music and cut loose with your friends.

 

Heartwarming invitations

To me, the holidays have always been a time of love, family bonding and eating great food. I feared what was to come of celebrating Thanksgiving 1,700 miles from home for the first time. Luckily for me, the people in this community made it easier. 

Two days before the holiday, several friends and I, who were staying in the dorms during the holiday, feared we would be celebrating Thanksgiving from the comfort of our dorm rooms. What happened next had an immense impact on our experience here at Northwestern. 

A Northwestern staff member overheard our struggles and invited us to her home.

A Northwestern staff member overheard our struggles and invited us to her home. Within hours, word had spread that there were several men who had no place to go during this festive season. By the end of that Tuesday, we all had at least four locations in which we were going to go celebrate with families. 

As a man from a big city where people are not as willing to open doors to strangers, these invitations are heartwarming. The intense feeling that we all belong to something greater than ourselves is overwhelming. This small gesture had much meaning in the lives of us men. By inviting us in, people changed a potentially lonely occasion into one of happiness and joy.

For that, I am thankful!

To the King

Someone should tell you about the theatre department and, since I’m here, it might as well be me.  

Northwestern theatre has many outstanding attributes working in its favor. We have a great facility. The program is distinctly Christian. At the same time, Northwestern theatre is committed to producing quality shows that involve students in every step of the process: both onstage and behind the scenes.

The department offers scholarships to non-theatre majors like me—and just like that I was hooked. When I accepted my scholarship months before I moved to campus, I honestly had no idea how much this theatre would mean to me at the end of four years.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when we closed “Museum,” which was the very final show at NWC for several of us, including me. It wasn’t until we circled up after strike on the newly-empty stage that my throat started to tighten as a familiar prequel to some inevitable tears.

How is my time here already finished? It feels like yesterday I was pulling into the parking lot for the first time. This final strike was a dose of reality, a reminder that my time here won’t last. And because seniors sometimes start to get weepy and reflective, here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.

Our department is adamant about two things that I’ll take with me when I go: (1) that students, faculty, and staff collaborate as an ensemble and (2) that our efforts glorify the King.

We circle up and shout a resounding ‘To the King!’ to remind ourselves who truly deserves the credit.

I’ve acted, stage-managed, worked in the box office, hung lights, and built sets and never felt more or less important than anyone else because each of those jobs served a specific purpose. Because each person is so deeply valued, the department feels more like a family than a loosely associated group of students. We circle up and shout a resounding “To the King!” to remind ourselves who truly deserves the credit.

Stay with me, friends. I promise this post still applies to you even if you’ve never set foot in an auditorium. Call it ensemble or “community,” they’re essentially the same. You might be looking at sports, the fine arts, or even a major to study. Whatever your circumstance, it is so important to discover something that you love and find a place that will wholeheartedly support you and push you to excellence in those endeavors.

The theatre department will do that. Northwestern will do that. I would like to think that one day I’ll do that. For God’s glory. To the King.  

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