Monday, August 29, 2011


So I read this post on Her.meneutics (a Christianity Today blog directed toward women) today about over committed and stressed out college students turning Adderoll. As a recently graduated law student I am intimately aware of the pressure to do and be committed to too much as a college and/or graduate student. However, I cringe at the solution offered here that these students should simply be taught (and expected) to commit to less. After practicing the Sabbath throughout my time as an undergraduate and into the first year of law school, I realized that it just wasn’t practicable any more. Academic demands had increased, I needed to work both for the experience and the financial reasons, I wanted to take time to serve in my church in order to develop community and fellowship there, and yes, I wanted to do fun stuff on occasion which sometimes resulted in me working on Sundays. While taking the Sabbath was a great form of spiritual discipline, it just pushed activities and stress to other times of my week. 

College students seem to have more discretionary time at their disposal than any other group of people (something I would have wholeheartedly denied as a college student, but see differently now). This doesn't undermine the fact that students are stressed, there is pressure to fill all of that free time with various activities and commitments. The hard thing is that college kids want do to it all, or at least I did anyway. Instead of telling them to say no (because they won’t), I think the Church, Christian colleges, and even secular schools need to offer better resources for dealing with stress and heavy workloads so that students don’t turn to unhealthy behaviors like using Adderall. In a systemic sense I think the availability and destigmatization (<-- not a word, but this is my blog so I get to make up words) of mental health services is imperative, but beyond that as Christians we have something else to offer. 

We need to remember and remind each other that we are defined by Christ. Our worth comes solely from God and our value is not earned, but given to us out of grace. Truly understanding and believing this has huge ramifications for how we experience success and prioritize our lives. This does not necessarily solve the problem of feeling over whelmed or over committed at times, but it completely changes what we turn to in those times.  This is not a quick and easy solution. Instead it is a continual process of sanctification and the Church has an opportunity to help students grow in their understanding of this. 

In my experience, mentorship by godly spiritually mature women was (and is) an invaluable resource for self-reflection and spiritual growth. These women have continually been a source of encouragement and a dose of reality for me. Both as an undergraduate and a graduate student I lived far from my parents and the normal day to day life I grew up in. Both in Berkeley and here in Minnesota I have had a families from church opened their homes to me on a weekly basis. I didn't feel like a guest in their home, but I mean that in the best way possible. I just felt like I was at home, except these homes had little kids who wanted to throw darts, play dress up, or watch a movie with me and they weren't always on their best behavior. The point is that they reminded me that there was more to life than my busy college world and gave me a sense of normalcy among the chaos. I also had a strong community of friends who were dealing with the same stresses I was and were plugged into similar support networks. We related to each other and were able to be real with each other. They provided me with accountability as well as an outlet for some of my stress. In the context of these communities, I was reminded daily that my hope is in Christ and that even in the midst of stress and feeling like I am drowning I am loved. 

Sure, I could have said no to more stuff and I might have been less stressed, but stress is inevitable no matter what you do (right?). What kept me afloat was the community I was surrounded by continually reminding me of my identity in Christ.

P.S. Sorry there is so much churchy jargon in this post. Hopefully the point still gets across. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Things I love...

Getting emails in all caps from family members who don't know any better, celebrating safe travels and answered prayers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Kayaking Adventure

I say this a lot, but Minnesota is amazing during the summer. After a super long, super cold, super snowy winter, all I want to do is spend all my time outdoors. Luckily I have friends and family who make that a pretty easy goal to achieve. With Christine’s hubby out of the country being a smarty-pants, and a whole day off work, Christine and I drove up to Breezy Point last Sunday to hang out with my Aunt and Uncle for the 4th of July.

I’ve also mentioned in the past how much I admire my Aunt and Uncle. These two have had so much adventure in their life together and continue to do things in their 60’s that I’m not sure I can do now in my 20’s. Always looking for new hobbies, they recently purchased a pair of kayaks. I’ve been dying to visit them ever since I heard about this. After arriving at their house and eating a quick lunch, we packed up and set out for an afternoon of kayaking. A friend of theirs from church came along and graciously lent her double kayak to me and Christine. She also lent me an awesome purple visor. Christine opted for my Aunt’s safari hat, the logo on which read: Boomerang Express: It all comes back to Jesus. We were both fashionable and well protected from the sun.

 Note how prepared for adventure we look in this picture.

We launched into a lake that had an outlet onto Pine River. We went up stream and it was very hard work. This however is not reflected in the many pictures that were taken as they all seem to look like Christine and I were just lounging about. I assure you, there was very little only some lounging. 

We went up the river, taking a break in some shallow water to look at a beaver lodge (It was explained to me that a beaver dam stops the water to create a mini-lake, while a beaver lodge does not), and heading into some rapids. Christine and I attempted to make it through said rapids, but the current proved too strong for us, so we turned around. 

At some point as we headed up the river we lost my Uncle who stopped to do some fishing. As we went back to find him we happened upon a family who wisely used their children, rather than their engine, to get up the river (so very green of them). 

 Future parenting tip noted.

Finally, we found my Uncle and proceeded to lounge/fend off mosquitoes while the grown-ups (Christine and I are not grown-ups) fished for a bit. 

As it got to be dinner time we headed back into the lake. At this point Christine and I were tired. We decided to push through as fast as we could, just to get back onto dry land. With two people rowing fairly vigorously we were making pretty good headway. We thought we would definitely beat all the others in their single person kayaks, who obviously would not be able to keep up with us. But, no, my Aunt is Super Woman. Seriously. Every time we’d turn around she would only be yards away no matter how fast we rowed. She amazes me.

 Speck on the right: me and Christine. Speck on the left: Super Woman.

Once we had all made it onto shore we loaded up and headed home. The next day Christine and I were completely useless. Several hours of kayaking amounted to a very lazy following day, even after getting a solid eight hours of sleep. That’s not to say the day was wasted, but more on that in another post. As Christine and I hobbled out to breakfast the next morning, my Aunt, who had obviously been up for some time preparing food for us all, asked us if we wanted to go kayaking again that day. Since we were exhausted, we declined. I have no idea where she gets her energy, like I said, my Aunt is Super Woman. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hello Again!

I've realized something recently. I miss writing. So, once again, I'm making a resolution to do a better job of keeping this thing updated.

To start things off, I'm going to repost something I wrote for a different blog. The women at my church have used a blog for the past year to encourage one another to "raise the bar" in our lives. Feel free to check it out. Here is the link to my post, and for convenience sake, I've copy and pasted it below.


Since being challenged to raise the bar, I have seen God give me a series of tangible, concrete “things” to do. As I saw each of these "things" come to a close, I believed I had successfully raised the bar. I was ready to move on, but I am now realizing how connected these "things" are and how yet again God is challenging me to raise the bar in a new way.

This summer, I was at a point in my life where I felt like I was standing on a ledge with a big, wide black space in front of me. I had graduated from law school without any prospects for a long-term job. I was torn between staying in Minnesota or moving back to California where I grew up. I wanted to stay in Minnesota (yes, I know it is cold here), but as time wore on and no jobs were surfacing it did not seem financially feasible. Not to mention the fact that all of my job concerns would be moot if I didn’t pass the big, ugly Bar (legal bar, not metaphorical spiritual challenge bar) I had hanging over my head.

In all of this I was oddly at peace. I was in a place where I was fine for the present, but had to rely deeply on God to provide for the future, even in the face of the future not being what I wanted it to be. I realized I really needed to submit to what God had planned for me. I had to trust that whatever He had in store for me was under the protection of a Good God. I remember one night just praying that God would help me let go of Minnesota if I wasn’t going to end up here. A peace washed over me and, though it sounds cheesy, at that point, even though I still wanted to stay in Minnesota, I was able to see the possible good in going back to California (moving back in with the parents and all). Two days later I was hired as an attorney here in Minnesota. Problem solved. God provided. Bar raised. Check.

Next, I felt God telling me to raise the bar by setting down roots in Minnesota, in my life, in relationships, and at Hope. I took several risks, trusting that by moving forward God would grow the relationships I was entering into and provide the community I needed to make Minnesota feel like home. I found roommates who I hoped would be a source of good community. I started dating someone. I got a dog. I became a member at Hope. I joined a small group and became a mentor. I did everything I could think of to set down roots. Once again, bar raised.

Then, more recently, I realized that while I had been challenged to raise the bar in the ways mentioned above, the results weren’t all what I thought they would be. My life didn’t magically snap into place.

Despite efforts to get to know my roommates, they are largely MIA, so I basically live alone. The transition into my new role at work is negatively affecting relationships with co-workers that I thought were pretty solid. The dating thing fizzled out without ever becoming much to speak of. Though I am more intentionally involved at church, I still struggle with the work that goes into developing actual relationships with people. Oh, and then my dog died. I know, it seems kind of harsh, written out like that, but that’s exactly how it felt—harsh. I was frustrated. I had taken all the steps, done everything I could to be obedient to the things God was calling me to.

I am employed, have a roof over my head, growing friendships, and a relatively comfortable life, but nothing was turning out the way I thought it would. I realized I was starting to feel resentful. Not an angry resentment, more like a curious resentment. Hadn’t I raised the bar? I had been obedient, so where were my results?

Then it hit me. God is enough. All of these things happening in my life were ways God had “come through.” God had totally provided! I’m happy with my job. While I don’t like living alone, my living situation is comfortable. I feel like I’m making some really great new friendships at church. And yet, none of that stuff is ever going fulfill me. That is something only God can do. By focusing on how satisfied I am by my circumstances, I am worshiping the things God has provided rather than simply worshiping God.

So where does that leave me now? In all honesty, I’m not there yet. I am still struggling not to evaluate my relationship with God based on the results I see. When I feel dissatisfied I’m trying to remind myself through prayer and scripture that God really is enough. Lamentations 3:22-24 has been a huge encouragement in this process: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'"