heart like sky


done here.

new year, new blog: heartlikesky.tumblr.com

*for those of you who need a reason: tumblr is a better venue for the pics i want to add 🙂


leaves falling

Fall is not just a space in between summer and winter… It is transition, and it is a picture of my life right now as a friend recently observed.

College was quite a summer. While I was attending SAU, my heart grew and grew. I became a person who loved more deeply, shared more openly, and embraced community. And then there was Westwinds: a place where a cup of coffee became the outward sign of the faith inside (more on this at a later date). If I could sum up these years in two words: I loved.

And now comes autumn. Though I’ve seen a fair share of literal fall seasons, this one is unlike any previously encountered metaphorical autumns. It is the time when the growth shows itself in new colors. These colors are deeper and richer than the ones of summer, but they are also indicative of the rest that is coming. These leaves begin to fall, some quickly, but most take their time. Releasing isn’t always easy, and the tree needs to grieve the loss. Looking at the bare months ahead, this loss can be incredibly scary (potentially hopeless). In that moment, it is pretty difficult to remember that new leaves come in the spring.

So right now, I am that tree. The new growth in my heart has revealed its’ enriched color, and the leaves are falling. I am grieving a beautiful, incredible season. Tears often fall with those leaves. It is a sign of the season, a recognition of the authenticity in it all.

After this autumn, winter will come. The tree will rest, enmeshing the new growth into itself. Preparation for more growth will come, and the resting will welcome the spring. As I stand in the tree’s position, I couldn’t desire spring more. I yearn to be in that sunshine, stretching like that again. But as that tree, I understand that all seasons must come, and will ebb and flow into one another. So for now, this tree is seeing leaves float towards the grass.


they do Church.

On Friday, I received an email from one of my boss, asking for answers to a series of questions relating to students attending church on Sundays… the following is my response, but while you read, keep in mind that this is directly related to a private Christian college population :

Dear Boss,

I think that the major factors for students failing to attend church are motivation and then perceived need. Typically, adults attend church because God encourages the meeting together of believers for the purposes of worship, community, and edification in the faith. For students, all of these are being met during the week on campus. They come together to worship three times a week. They live in intentional, supportive, Christ-centered communities. They are learning and growing in their faith through chapel speakers, classes, and hall or unit bible studies. As far as the mission of the church to serve the surrounding community, students have multiple opportunities weekly provided by Outreach Coordinators to love the city. Thus, the school is like one big church for students.

This school also offers more than what any local church could. This is a place where students can worship in the preferred style of their generation. They break bread together on almost a daily basis. They learn living together skills in their residential communities, with guidance from their residence hall staff. They are poured into by student leaders, and the leaders have supervisors that pour into their lives as well. They can serve through the portals connecting the school to the city that have already been established. Also, they attend three services each week, which is much more than the attendance record for a typical adult attending a local church.

The only large function of the church that students might not participate in within the school as a church is tithing. While bringing a sacrifice to the storehouse is an important part of a relationship with God, it is the part of the church that most college students are least able to support. This can be due to a lack of willingness to give, but more often than not, this is reflective of the lack of income in the student’s life.

Thus, the students don’t think they need the church, because being part of the school’s community is like living in a church. It is the students that are looking for an even deeper connection to a less transient community that seek to belong to a local church while attending the school. If students have the internal motivation and desire to meet that need, they find transportation and make attendance a priority. Overall, I think all that the school offers as a campus fulfills most students’ needs for the church, and thus leaves them without the motivation to be a part of a local church.

As far as programming ideas, I think it would be awesome to do a series of chapels about how the school is the church for the students at this particular stage in their life. For freshmen areas, further discussion introducing the students to what it looks like to live in the school as a church would be helpful. For sophomore-senior areas, the conversations could focus more on how to make the most of serving the school as a  church and the local community. For upper-division areas, programs or discussions about finding a good fit in a church after graduation would be great. As a campus, we might already have too many themed weeks already, but what if this was the topic of our spiritual emphasis week?

In other words, students do Church. If they are living well in this community, they are being the Church as it was intended to be (a group of believing people sharing life). They may not be doing this perfectly (ie not taking the opportunities to reach out to the surrounding community). However, adults fail to live out the Church’s mission all the time.

In addition, we need to remember the generation that we are speaking about. These are the students who were more likely to have autonomy in their church attendance from an early age. Thus, they may have chosen a Christian college, and consider themselves to be a Christian by the way they live, without necessarily being weekly committed to a church. And if this is the case (which I know it to be, in many instances), attending three chapel services a week is pushing what they bargained for. This is not to say that the student is right or wrong. This is to say that this particular generation is the most likely to see faith in very “out of the box” ways.

There is no “one way fits all” for doing Church. Each generation has their own take on worship, reaching out, and living it. So, for these small(ish) Christian college communities, doing Church might be more about investing in all that the university has built for programming, outreach, and chapel. And that is not wrong… it is just different than the way we’ve done Church before.

 


family

Among the many, many lessons that I am in the process of learning, my perspective of family has changed a lot as a result of moving.

First, family is family. They love me more than anyone else on this earth could… and they know me… which is something that means a lot more when you are in a situation, by yourself, surrounded by people that are still trying to figure you out. And then this says a lot about the parent side of God…

Second, family deserve to be a priority… and I need to make that change.

Third, I love my family. And I’m so thankful to have the one I do.  I am so proud of the ways that they are living their lives. Dad is a man of integrity, Mom is pursuing her passion, and Little Bro is tearing up the musical world.

Fourth, I have a new future goal: to live closer to family. This is not to say that I am moving tomorrow. It is to say that 5 hours is a great distance to have between us. Though we have had rough moments, and difficult times, they are a major part of my life. And someday, I would like to live closer.

I’m not saying these things because my family will read it. I’m saying it to acknowledge a blessing that I too often overlook.


the next mrs. piggle wiggle

night two. I have decided that I should be blogging more. it is good for my heart.

today was filled with good conversation, busyness, leadership lessons and the Wesley award. each week at our res life staff mtg, someone receives a stuffed wildcat named Wesley in recognition of something… anyways, i have volunteered to start taking minutes in our meetings in order to cure the “i thought you said” disease that has infected us all. now if you know me, you probably know that i was trying to save my own sanity. regardless, you can call me the next Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, b/c the tactic is working. and Wesley was just a nice surprise b/c the recognition was also connected to my positive attitude. (which really made my afternoon, as i like being known for my smile).

now, i must admit, the afternoon got a bit tense when i arrived back at my hall to discover that over 50 cases of pop had been delivered to my lobby. (this is more soda than anyone should ever drink, just in case you were curious) you see, pepsi had accidentally doubled my order… not good. thankfully, my fav pepsi rep Rick stepped in to save the day… and offer to pick up half of that order. (this qualifies him for knight in shining armor status).

ok. and now i need to get some sleep so that tomorrow stays on the upswing.


working girl

The last time I posted, I was in the middle of summer, trying to figure out my life… wondering if I was going get to get any job, let alone a Res Life spot. Now, I am a Resident Director!

So, I have a real job, with a real apartment, and a very real new life.

I say real because it is not what I had pictured, thought, etc… I never imagine how difficult this transition would be. I love Res Life, and I really like being an RD… but real life hits hard.

Doing something you love is amazing… but doing it far away from the people you have loved most and who love you dearly, is very difficult. I’ve heard it said that it isn’t about where you are, it is about who you are with, and now I’m learning that.

I wish there was some way to make this sound less princessy and less “grass is greener.” And over time, I’m sure that I will feel differently…For now, I’m just tired of tears falling on my macaroni.


to my residents.

“I sat beside you and became myself” –joshua radin

I started this post months ago…. But now, summer is here, SAU is miles away, and I miss my girls. All this time off leaves plenty of room for thinking… and reflecting.

This past year could have gone several ways. It could have been a disaster (put enough tripled rooms on a floor, and there is always that potential). But. Things worked together for good. Triples ended up being gifts, and an added emphasis on the importance of community. My doubles weren’t half bad either.

My residents: they were crazy. But so was I. Which made for late nights, waterfights, and plenty of good times. The conversations and experiences were unexpected, and incredible.

Joshua Radin’s words are so perfect. Living in this community, sharing life with these particular women made me more of myself. We were in it together: from yelling down the hall, to stress breakdowns, to music so loud in the bathroom that you literally could not think straight, to deep conversations in doorways. Our hall was full of life. We loved it. And each other. And I’m thankful because our hall changed our lives.

So to my girls: I love you. I love the ways that you opened my heart. I love the ways you shared your lives with mine. You are incredible.


life

Life is turning out differently than I had planned…

This may not necessarily be bad. Just, you know, different.

As you know, I was planning on Res Life. Probably leaning too much, because when you lean too far, you usually tip over and fall down. Which is what has happened.

Regardless, Res Life is not the end all, be all. It is something I love.

So now… looking at other ideas? This is a still a sweet moment. The world is wide open… I’m just hoping that something that fits is in the near future…

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the paradox of right now. coffee or tea?

I cannot no longer deny it; finding a job is difficult. It is not so much the effort, but rather the vulnerability that kills. Yet, it is this trying process which is so forming: a life being reshaped in the refiner’s fire.

A few months ago, I was always bright and cheery when asked about the job hunt. I was excited to be looking for my first “real” job, and was applying to every opportunity to become a Resident Director. And that was good: I am so passionate about Student Development as a crucial part of the formation of each student. College is a time where students are full of potential, and the experiences, relationships, and learning moments have the power to change their entire life course. I love serving through Residence Life; RAing stretched me into being my best and loving more deeply than I had imagined.

Thus, I am in pursuit of a job in Student Development… I say pursuit because it is not over yet. Yes, this is difficult. Yes, I feel the stretching. No, I am not giving up.

In recent weeks, I have been reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, a book which examines success. Gladwell looks at the stories of the phenomenally successful, and then analyzes the factors and environments in the background. The conclusion? Too good for me to share and let you off the hook of reading. But. He makes a point that seems particularly applicable to the current issue of “andra wants a job, but is struggling to land the plane”:

“Then the world changed, and he was ready. He didn’t triumph over adversity. Instead, what started out as adversity ended up being an opportunity.”

So. I’m taking this adversity, understanding that it is here for a reason. Though I am still hopeful, there is no doubt that my perspective is changed from this experience.

There is still something ridiculously cool about saying that my life is God’s to use, with the knowledge that right now, God could take me in any direction. I love looking at the situation from that angle.  Which is a prime reason that I needed to go through this: though I love Student Development, it is not the only place that I could serve. And, it might not be the best place right now.

I will admit, it feels rather paradoxical to tell you how much I love one field, but in the next breath express my willingness to serve in any capacity. The best reference that I can think of would be to say that my preference would be to serve you a cup of coffee, because I believe in the power of a catalyst, but maybe serving you a cup of tea is what I am supposed to be doing. I love the coffee, but that doesn’t make the tea bad. Just different… and the point is the same, I am experiencing the privilege of serving you a mug filled with warmth that extends beyond the contents within. 

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time

“Time on my hands” is sort of the anthem of my life right now. Today, I did several small things, like working on a project, going to the bank, getting a few things in the mail, eating lunch with my mom and grandpa, and yet, when mom says “that’s a lot,” I reply, “I was bored.”

I say that I am bored because my life is not going 90 miles an hour right now. I have time to think–about dreams that I had long-forgotten in the midst of a chaotic life. But the chaos outside of me has ceased. This does however bring out the inner chaos of a heart searching for what is next. I am trying so hard to enjoy this stage of life, but cannot help being distracted by the idea of having a job.

I do not have a schedule. The goals I have, like reading “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell, are simply my own ideas attached to a deadline that I created. This is a completely unusual feeling. I am uncommitted, and surprised by the feeling.

I am so used to running, that walking seems silly.


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