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!

Trip to the South

For me, spring time is something that I look forward to from the first day it falls below freezing. I long for the warm weather; where going outside isn’t considered insane due to the freezing tears you acquire walking across campus. To my pleasure, spring has crept up. And even better than spring itself is the break that comes along with it.

Each year Northwestern sends a couple hundred students across the nation and the world to serve during spring break. These opportunities are called Spring Service Projects (SSPs), and I had the privilege serving on one this break. I went to Jonesboro, Arkansas, with 16 fellow students and 2 faculty members.

What a week we had. After climbing in the van at 6 in the morning last Saturday, it was a non-stop adventure for 8 days. As we made the 12ish-hour drive down South, we began to interact and form friendships right from the start.

We partnered with City Youth Ministries (CYM). It’s an after-school program for underprivileged children in the city of Jonesboro. Kids come Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. They get to play but also have classes, and get fed before going home.

When we were with the kids, we helped with Bible and gym class along with tutoring sessions. We also danced and played some sports with them. Boy, did those kids love to dance! I kid you not, they would be running around everywhere, and someone would play a song and the majority of them just stopped in their tracks and did the dance in unison. It was incredible. They tried to teach us some of the dances, but our team wasn’t on their skill level.

Throughout the week, our team created relationships with some of these kids and poured into them. We got the chance to interact with the staff there as well. I got to know the Bible teacher, Jordan, very well. Jordan is a student at Arkansas State in Jonesboro. He has worked for CYM for two years. I was truly inspired by Jordan. He loves those kids so much, and no matter how poorly they behave in his class, he is always patient with them and looking for ways to share the gospel with them.

Another great opportunity our team had was to help fix up City Youth's facility with a lot of cleaning and painting. We were able to paint big planters outside the building, transforming them from black chipped paint to vibrant beautiful colors. We also repainted walls in the gym and art room and did some fixer-upper jobs around the building. It was so incredible arriving, and then leaving seeing real progress being made at CYM. 

At the end of the week, we had a day off.  Our team went to Memphis, Tennessee, and we had such a blast! We went to the iconic Beale Street, and there happened to be a massive St. Patrick’s Day parade the day we were there. That was an adventure! We all ate some real Memphis BBQ, which was absolutely glorious. To cap off the day, we explored the largest Bass Pro Shop around, and it just blew my mind.

During the whole week, I really enjoyed getting to know a group of people from Northwestern that I might not have met if I hadn’t signed up for the trip. Throughout the trip we had the opportunity to share our testimonies. It was such an amazing experience to hear what God was doing in each and every one of our team members as individuals. It was cool to have all these amazing experiences in a different state with a group of students I can now call close friends.

Sadly, the week had to come to a close. Although we thought the trip might have been over, we made a stop at Thorncrown Chapel on the way back. It’s a chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and it will leave anyone with a dropped jaw because it’s so beautiful. The chapel is completely made out of wood and glass, and it’s truly a building of wonder.

This trip was one of that I won’t forget. I saw God work in CYM, my team and in my own life constantly over the course of that week. CYM has just done a phenomenal job sharing the gospel and showing how God’s love trumps the violence that the kids are raised in. God worked in our team as we bonded together and worked so well as a loving group of individuals. And lastly God showed his faithfulness to me and showed that even though there is sadness and darkness, God’s light always shines through. 

 

Do Justice

Do Justice

    This past weekend, Northwestern's La Mosaic leaders went to a Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation (SCORR) at Biola University in La Mirada, CA. The main purpose of this trip was for leaders to bond together, gain a greater understanding of leadership, and facilitate conversations within a multicultural setting. 

    Our trip was definitely a blast, since we all had the opportunity to have fun and learn from different perspectives. The interactions and encounters with other cultures within the conference were beneficial, as we were constantly challenged by peers to think about our neighbor. The conference’s theme was Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” Throughout the book of Micah, God reveals to us how we need to put word into action by showing love, compassion, mercy and justice to this world. 

    As I meditated on this verse throughout the week, I was able to see that God calls us to not just live according to the standards of this world but to step out of our comfort zone to make a difference that will lead to change. I’m very blessed that I had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the importance of having diversity at Northwestern. As leaders of a multicultural group, we were able to gain a greater understanding of how to effectively engage in cross-cultural communication and how to deal with conflict. We acquired great tools that will help us instruct our members to become leaders that will stand up against injustices. 

    There are many areas in which we can make a change and stand up against injustices. One way we can make a difference in the world is by choosing to live uncomfortably. By this I mean choosing to live a life different together. Engaging with other cultures enriches us and brings beauty to life. In La Mosaic, we aim to encourage one another to dive deep into people’s stories and cultures to become a family. Stories are powerful and bring light to life. In this world, one learns by both personal experiences and stories from other perspectives. This is why one of the main goals of La Mosaic is to create a trustworthy place where different races can become a family and freely express themselves.

-Rebeca

Coffee and Conversation

Boy, do I love coffee. Before entering the realm of college, I would say I appreciated coffee but I didn’t love it. When I would have a cup of coffee, it would be filled with creamer and sugar.

College did a few things to me in regards to coffee. First, as I got less sleep, it was a liquid I had to drink to make it through the day. Second, college weened me off sugar and creamer. Creamer can be a hassle to buy, and it’s easier to make coffee without it.

Now I would consider myself a coffee connoisseur. In my opinion, coffee is a form of art, and I have invested in both a French press and an AeroPress. Making coffee is just as enjoyable for me as drinking it.

As much as I love getting a cup of coffee and enjoying some alone time with a book, getting coffee with a comrade is one of the greatest joys in life. Having a conversation with someone over coffee is something I relish. I can’t say I had a lot of coffee convos before coming to Northwestern, but now it is a occurrence that I love.

Any of my friends can attest to the fact that I am a talker. I can go on rants, and I sometimes don’t stop. And even though I enjoy talking, I also very much enjoy listening to others. So it makes sense that I love having conversations. We all have conversations daily. So why is there something special about talking over coffee?

I think it has something to do with the intentionality of it. I can stop and talk to anyone and have an amazing conversation, but if I ask someone to go grab coffee and talk, it’s more meaningful. Coffee can be used to get through hard times, work through hard topics, or to just talk about everyday life. There are a million different things you can use a CC (coffee convo) for.

College has been full of CCs for me. I can’t pick out one that stands out the most, because they have all been meaningful. However, I can recall a couple that were especially significant.

My Resident Assistant last year was someone who loved coffee. You could even say he was one of my coffee mentors. He showed me the ropes of what good coffee looks like. Along with sharing great coffee, we shared amazing conversations.

I remember one time when he made us a Chemex of coffee, and we went down to the North Suites basement and chatted for a long while. We talked about the future and things we were struggling with. It was a time when we were able to grow and also challenge each other.

Those conversations and relationships with people are something that makes college amazing. I would encourage everyone to be intentional about being relational with others. Even though I'm partial to conversations over coffee, conversations over any other liquid or food can also be amazing. Regardless of the setting, going out of your normal schedule and having conversations with people is always worth it. 

What Are We Waiting For?

The other day in chapel, we had the privilege of hearing from a woman named Ann Bilbrew. If anyone walked away from her chapel talk without a tugging on their heart at the message she gave or a sense of amazement at the work God is doing through her life, I’m going to have to assume they weren’t paying attention.

Before taking the stage, Ann was introduced and described as someone who loves life, Jesus, and people. After hearing her speak, there’s not a question of doubt in my mind that those statements are true. This is a woman on fire for the Lord.

I had the opportunity to hear Ann preach not only at chapel, but at church the previous Sunday. From the beginning I had a hunch there was something special about this woman, and by the end of the service I knew without question that God was speaking through her to bring the Gospel to all those who were listening.

There’s something about Ann that personally gives me great hope. Ann is passionate about the Lord, and there’s great hope in that alone, but in this situation there’s more to the picture. Ann is a pastor for the RCA (Reformed Church in America).

Here’s a woman doing the work that I may one day be doing myself. And doing a pretty great job at it, might I add.

Ann left me with several great things to think about this week. At both church and chapel she highlighted the importance of prayer and the connection it creates between us and the Lord. Finding time for prayer is not only important, it’s necessary. College is busy and life is busy, but it’s important to slow down and take intentional time to talk with God.

I think it’s a guarantee that there will be times in anyone’s life when they aren’t as close to God as they desire to be, when they feel disconnected or distanced. Even at a Christian college, it’s easy to feel disconnected. And that’s a surprise for some people. Going to a Christian college doesn’t make you a Christian. Going to a Christian college doesn’t guarantee you’re going to have a personal relationship with Jesus. A personal relationship with Jesus is just that─it’s personal. It’s the connection you have with God and how that connection overflows into your daily life.

 I’m not saying there aren’t great opportunities at Christian colleges to connect yourself with the Lord─there are─the question I’m getting at is whether or not we choose to take advantage of those opportunities. At Northwestern there are opportunities like chapel and D-groups (devotional groups), but if you pass on D-groups or go to chapel simply to sit there and get your credits, I'm guessing you won't absorb much.

Opportunities are around us at every corner─the question is if we're willing to take advantage of them.

That leads me to another great point Ann made─opportunities are all around. Those of us on campus, those of us studying, we’re young. We’ve got the life and the youth in us to go out and do great works for the kingdom. We were not created to sit still. We weren’t created to stay home and go to church every Sunday. We’ve been created for so much more.

‘Opportunities’ is one of my favorite words. [As my friends know, I’ve got quite a few favorites.] I’m one who firmly believes the Lord places opportunities before us every day. These opportunities may not always be picturesque or wow-worthy moments, but that doesn’t mean we should just casually overlook them.

As Ann pointed out, we are in our prime years. We’ve got a whole lot of life ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean we have the privilege of waiting to take any action. Why not start today? Why not open our hearts to God’s leading right now? What's holding us back?

What are we waiting for?

Step Out and Rise

Sitting in P&W (Praise and Worship) as a freshman, God kept repeating the phrase, "live uncomfortably." This phrase has been a constant theme throughout my time here at Northwestern and has pushed me to start SOAR, a poetry club.

My passion for poetry began my freshman year. I went through a tough season in my life where I felt alone on my wing. During that time of loneliness, I began to seek God like no other as I started to write prayers and reflect upon my life through poetry. In these moments of loneliness, God showed up, and He began to reveal Himself to me like never before. He would push me to share my poems, so I began to show them to some friends back home. They would read these words, really be touched, and encourage me to begin to reach out to others with my poetry. I gradually began to read them with my RA, Mica,  as I opened up to her and began to share my story. 

The next year, I remember feeling led to do even more after one of my friends said I should start a blog. I thought, "That's not a bad idea. Maybe I'll start one over the summer." I had no intention of sharing it so soon until my mom called me on the phone and told me a story about this lady at a women's conference. God told her to start a blog in January and share it with people around the world, so that's exactly what she did. Because of her obedience, she is able to bless many ladies all over the world. During that phone call, my mom told me the first person to pop into her head was me. I just knew at that moment that it was a confirmation from God, telling me to start a blog. Little did I know, this was another step God placed in front of me so I could choose to live uncomfortably.

As time went by, I began to share my poetry through spoken word at iclub (International Club) coffeehouse every year. I performed Christian rap with my brother and some spoken word by myself. I shared pieces of my story at this event, sometimes scared out of my mind, but this didn't stop me from allowing God to use my voice for His glory. I constantly saw how God was helping me live uncomfortably through even spoken word.

As I continued to share poetry on my blog and through different events, Mawuli (a senior) and Nayley (a recent alumni) told me I should start a poetry club my sophomore year. I gave it much thought, and I began to really dwell on this idea over the summer. I would wrestle with this internally as I felt a strong tug in my spirit from God. I know God was speaking, but Satan kept repeating, "You can't do this, you can't be a leader, you're not good enough." Then I felt this push from one of my pastors back home who really transformed my mind when he mentioned, "If God places a dream in your heart, then just do it." This really caused my mindset to shift, and I knew I had to start this club.

A few months later, I went to school and talked to my advisor. I finally felt led to 'just do it,' after I talked to a friend of mine, Lauren Spranger, and Rahn Franklin. I turned in my paperwork, created the poster for the club fair the night before with a friend, and eventually started SOAR. I finally took that step, as I did what I truly believe God pushed me to do during this season.

It's amazing how God has moved through me during this time, and He's given me an even greater story through poetry. It's awesome to see how God placed people in my life for such a time as this. The club not only pushed me to live uncomfortably, it has also become a part of my life story. SOAR stands for: step out and rise. I gave it this name because I desire to see men and women become the confident people God created them to be, and so I can continue to do the same. I have constantly been pushed back because of fear. The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He has tried to steal my peace, he has tried to steal my mind, but he's done trying to take my voice. I have come a long way, and I believe that bondages of fear have been falling off my life as God's been gradually working on me. I truly long to see God break chains of fear within the lives of the people He places in this club, as we begin to step out and rise together.

-Jahdai Dunk

 

Be Here Now

 

“So… what are your plans after graduation?”

As a senior here at Northwestern, this is a question I have to answer on a nearly daily basis. I don’t mind. However, things are a bit complicated by the fact that I will actually be returning for one final semester to finish up my academics. And also by the fact that I don’t really have much of a ‘plan’ for what comes after college.

But that’s okay.

I will find out this week if I’ve been accepted for an internship at a community garden in North Carolina that would offer a great first step towards applying for Duke Divinity School. So that’s exciting! I’ve also been spending a lot of my free time lately looking at jobs online. After all, this is such an incredible time! I will soon be taking my first few wobbly steps away from my home for the past four years out into the “real world.” Of course, we must also take Bilbo Baggins’ (The Hobbit) words to heart:

“It’s a dangerous business, [Lincoln], going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

(I’ve really taken J.R.R. Tolkein quotes to heart after studying for a semester in New Zealand.)

Thinking about the future has occupied my mind quite a bit lately, and that is all well and good. It’s an adventure. However, I’ve been very careful to not let my forward thinking distract me from the joy of finishing out my college career.

At the table that the guys on my wing sit at every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we have a saying – “Be here now.” Whenever a guy is sitting at the table using his phone rather than joining in on the conversation, someone will remark, “Be here now.” It is a reminder to be here, to be present with the community at hand. As my time remaining here in Orange City dwindles, I have kept this saying close to my heart.

At college, it is easy to fall into a future-oriented, school-focused mindset. This is not a bad thing by any means. However, I have been careful to balance my academic growth with my spiritual, emotional, and communal growth. Experiences in the classroom are important and will teach life-long lessons, but one of the most beautiful aspects of attending a small liberal arts school is the dorm life that happens outside of the classroom. Ten years down the road, I might not remember the specific details of ATP (energy enzyme) synthesis inside of the cell… but I will remember the night I ran outside in my shorts with thirty other guys to dive headfirst into a snowdrift (tonight…).

It is my opinion that there are some things about calling, faith, and life that can only be learned through experience and ‘being present.’ When we isolate ourselves from others, we miss important opportunities that inform our understanding of the world. God speaks to me through my religion professors, but also through the men of my dorm who talk with me in my room until the early hours of the morning.

It is in our moments of vulnerability and trust that God occasionally reveals His face. Rather than stress about what the future holds, I choose to view every person I meet, every conversation I hold, and every experience I have as an opportunity to grow and learn. To truly embrace these incredible moments, I choose to ‘be present.’ Every person is made in the image of God, and thus deserves your time of day.

Be here now!

-- Lincoln

My friends James and Miles and me on our impromptu skiing trip over break. (I'm on the left)

My friends James and Miles and me on our impromptu skiing trip over break. (I'm on the left)

Roomie Wednesday

A few nights ago, my roommate Alli and I took part in one of Fern’s dorm-wide events known as Roomie Wednesday.

It’s basically the newlywed game─but for roommates. One roommate would sit in a chair, the other would stand behind her with a marker and paper. Our Resident Director Lindsay would ask a question like “What is your roommate’s favorite color?” and the one standing would write down what she thought her roommate’s favorite color was. Then the sitting roommate would say her favorite color out loud, and if the two answers were the same, the pair got a point.

Alli and I found out about Roomie Wednesday about a week before the event, and from the get-go we were determined to learn the nitty-gritty about each other.

Alli and I were at somewhat of a disadvantage in the sense that we haven't known each other as long as some of the other roomie pairs who've been together for two or three years, but I'd say we managed to pull through just fine. 

We’ve been sharing a dorm room for nearly five months now, so we already knew quite a bit about each other, but there were, surprisingly, a lot of random facts to be learned in the process.

For example, Alli’s favorite animal is a quokka. (Don’t worry, I didn’t know what that was either.) Her favorite day of the week is Warm Cookie Wednesday in the caf. And she’s been told that her spirit animal is a baby hedgehog.

We were potentially a little too over-excited every time Lindsay asked a question that we already knew the answer to, but there were also a few instances in which we each gave a few answers that were complete shots in the dark.

A few of those questions were…

   “Which roommate is the loudest?”

Alli.

    “Which roommate takes the longest showers?”

Jamie.

    “Which roommate is the funniest?”

Looks like we both guessed ourselves on this one..

    “What is your roommate’s first class on Wednesday?”

Chemistry. Complete shot in the dark right there. 

     “What is your roommate’s dad’s name?”

This was the first question and I completely blanked. But don’t you worry, I got it with one second to spare.

    “Who is your roommate’s favorite sibling?”

Alli only had one option for me on this one, but hey, she got it right!

     "Who was your roommate's first campus crush?"

. . . that was an easy question for Alli to answer. 

     "What was your roommate's summer job?"

I got the name right and everything. So proud. 

 

The game consisted of three rounds: easy, medium, and hard. Much to our excitement, Alli and I made it on to the final round. Sadly, we did not win. But this is just the beginning. There's still time, my friends.

Alli and I have only known each other for 5 months. One year from now, that’s gonna be a YEAR and 5 months. Watch out, Fern Smith Hall. Alli and I are coming back, and next time, we’re going for the gold!

#Blessed

The most common question I get when I tell someone where I’m from is, “Why did you come to Northwestern College in Iowa when you live in Colorado?”  I can assure you that the answer is not the winter we are currently in, or the fact that Iowa happens to have more corn than mountains. The truth is I felt God nudging me out of Colorado and out of my comfort zone. I heard about Northwestern through a variety of people and I decided to drive out and take a peek at what Northwestern was really like.

Some initial thoughts of Orange City:

-Wow, this is the smallest town I’ve ever been in

-While my visit was in March I was positive it doesn’t get much colder than this, right??

So after these initial shockers which I wasn’t prepared for, I didn’t think this college would be amazing. But boy I couldn’t have been more wrong. The weekend was nothing like I have ever experienced before. I went into it thinking it would be a backup, but afterwards I knew I was going to end up in this tiny town called Orange City for the next four years.

God never ceases to amaze me. When we take leaps of faith, He always pulls through and blesses it all. He has completely done that for me so far at my time at Northwestern.

I live in the legendary North Suites here on campus. My first year I was #Blessed to live in the biggest room in the dorm. I was immediately surrounded by fellow upperclassman that lived in my dorm while enjoying copious amounts of video games, outdoor games and random activities that were played in just the first week alone.   

That first year cruised by faster than a snail on a bottle rocket. However, similar to a snail on a bottle rocket it was a blast. Out of all the events that happened last year, all of the memories that stand out the most are the ones I made with people. A few things that stand out the most would be riding around Orange City on a tandem bike for over two hours with a friend followed up with a stop for donuts and enjoying them in a park, conversations I had with different people on campus, deep theology talks with my buddy Steven, or getting coffee with my accounting professor.

Needless to say this year and a half at Northwestern has been real. And yes it has been fun. I would even go as far as to say it has been real fun.

 Brian

Mind Over Matter

"After a long day of school 
Thoughts repeating in my mind, 
It is track where I find Joy 
During these moments in time." 

These are just a few words that sum up my experience as a track athlete. The people on my team bring me joy when I am down and life when I struggle to make it through my day. I have grown, learned, overcome, and ultimately been shaped while being on this team. I have especially noticed the spiritual changes in my mind as I have been gradually able to overcome just by being  a track athlete. This weekend was a perfect example of how God moved in me.  

It all started this past Saturday. I woke up around 7:15 to go eat and then head in the vans to Minnesota State University in Mankato. I slept the whole way for 2, almost 3, hours as I listened to my worship music. I mentally began to get ready for my race, as I was about to run the 60-meter dash. 

As I warmed up for this race, I was pumped, and I went from listening to soft worship to Christian rap music. I started bouncing my head back and forth, laughing and grooving to the beat. It wasn't until I started warming up that the nerves kicked in. 

Ever since I was in middle school I have struggled with nerves, especially during track season. I would get sick almost all the time because negative thoughts roamed in my mind. As I've gotten older and have been at Northwestern, I've noticed a change within myself. Though I still get nervous, God has been teaching me that the thoughts in my head are not mine but from the enemy. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. 

Which brings me back to this weekend. Before my race, instead of dwelling on the thoughts in my mind, the people around me, and the obstacle in front of me, I thought about Jesus and how he casts out all fear. A song called, "I am Brave," sung by my church back home, popped up in my spirit. This song powerfully proclaims, "I am brave. Fear's power's lost its grip on me. No more shame, your perfect love has set me free. You are love and you are here. Your perfect love casts out fear. In your promise I will stay, shout your glory, shout your praise." After singing these words, I had an overwhelming feeling of indescribable peace. I immediately got in my starting blocks and thought about what my previous coach KB once told me, "Run fast." That's exactly what I did. Instead of thinking about my fears, I thought about Jesus, I prayed, then I just ran. That day I received 5th place overall. I am so thankful how God has been shaping my mind throughout these years and has been able to do it within the sport I love! To God be the glory! 

-Jahdai

  

So thankful for my wonderful teammates!

So thankful for my wonderful teammates!

Gaining Knowledge From Others

 

This school year has been very different for me since I have been more involved in different school activities.The year started off with me being a part of O-Staff. The purpose of this group is to welcome and assist new students to campus to transition well to NWC and to the community. This was a good experience in the sense that it helped me to step out of my comfort zone and become a better leader. Having interactions with others taught me many things about myself. I became more vulnerable and caring towards others. It is true that experiences are the ones that help you to grow as a person. It was cool to be able to meet new students and serve them. I realized that life is not always about me but others as well. 

It has been a great experience being an intern with the multicultural office, which works with a couple of clubs on campus. One is the International Club, and the other one is La Mosaic. The mission statement for the second club is “La Mosaic is a multicultural club where students gather to build relationships, share stories and embrace differences and similarities.” Working with these two clubs has been very meaningful. It's taught me how to make connections with students from different cultures and find the beauty of everyone’s stories. I really enjoy working with these clubs because it’s really cool to learn and to hear other perspectives. One of the books that I have really enjoyed reading as part of the multicultural office is Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland, because it reminds me how we are all part of Christ’s body. We all come from different cultures, yet we are all part of God’s family. This is what unites us.

A great event that is coming up on campus is the Ethnic Fair. This event brings students from other countries together and gives them a chance to share their cultures with the people of Northwestern College and Orange City. I’m really excited to start cooking a wide variety of different dishes from all over the world with many other students and to start the decorating process that is always very fun, since a lot of people are willing to work together to make it a great event. What I love the most about the Ethnic Fair is the atmosphere, which is full of happiness, different performances, foods, dances and live music that make people feel at home. Ethic Fair usually happens in the spring semester. This time it will be on Saturday, Jan. 30, in the RSC gym at 5 p.m. It is very neat how this event is an opportunity for the community to get a taste of the richness of other cultures and to see the beauty there is in diversity.

Our group after last year's ethnic fair!

Our group after last year's ethnic fair!

--Rebeca

Old Dog, New Tricks, and the Beauty of Storytelling

Hello friends! I am very pleased to be sharing with you all my first blog post from my senior year here in Orange City.

I have always self-identified as a "guy of spontaneity," and I enjoy trying new things and challenging myself. In fact, the most crazy and memorable stories I have from my past 3+ years at Northwestern weren’t the result of carefully planned-out activities. They occurred organically, from the most unlikely of circumstances. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a distinguishable pattern in making stories happen. Most often, a good story includes two components: boredom, and a question. And the best kind of question is most commonly a “what if” question. Here are a few quality examples:

“What if we just rode tandem bicycles all the way to Sioux Center?”

“What if the song “Hello” by Adele is actually about a pregnant woman talking to her baby?”

“What if I ate 17 cookies and then ran a mile?

I think you get the picture. After the initial question is asked, the rest is a cakewalk. Simply answer the question. (In case you’re wondering, the answer to the third question happens to involve the reappearance of 17 cookies). I have many more questions where those came from, so hit me up if you’re ever in need of a stimulating prologue to a story!

This past August, I asked myself a “what if” question that carried a bit more weight than others I typically ask. I was sitting in a locker room, lacing up my cleats for my fourth and final soccer training camp. I had already felt hesitant about playing soccer my senior year because of the substantial time commitment. However, I hadn’t anticipated the question that in that moment sprang unbidden into my mind: What if I spent the time I normally spend playing soccer pursuing other things I’ve always wanted to do in college? It came quickly and abruptly into my mind, so I brushed it aside. But the notion continued to enter my thoughts, and I relented to enter into prayerful consideration. Long story short, I ended up leaving the soccer team (only on the field!), and the chapter of my life that was dedicated to my identity as an athlete ended, and it was painful. But it was also a beautiful opportunity for a new story to begin.

Around the same time I departed from the Northwestern men’s soccer team, fliers began appearing around campus, advertising for the theatre department’s winter production: Godspell, a rock musical depicting a modern reenactment of the Gospel of Matthew. I was immediately intrigued, because Godspell is one of my favorite musicals. Then, in typical Lincoln fashion, I realized that I had a whole lot of new free time, and I hadn’t participated in a musical since I played Tree #2 in a middle school show, and I lacked any real theatre experience, so the obvious choice was for me to audition.

And here I am. Cast in the school production of Godspell, and hopelessly smitten with the deeply evocative biblical storytelling that depicts Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection. The last couple months of rehearsal have allowed me to participate in a story much greater than my own; a story that humbles the proud and exalts the gentle.

Author Donald Miller (read him!) discusses in his books the notion of "living a better story." He writes in Blue Like Jazz, “It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen… This is how God does things.” I can’t help but think that some of those things in our lives that seem so spontaneous – i.e. abruptly deciding to participate in a musical rather than soccer – are not as random as they seem. Rather, they are the result of gradual change that God speaks into our stories through a variety of people and events. Nestled amidst these opportunities for growth is a solemn challenge: Will you choose to abandon selfishness in order to accompany God on a much greater journey of love and reconciliation?

Live a better story.

— Lincoln