Visiting Liberty University

Visiting Liberty University

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Global Focus Week

Hello everyone!

If you're interested, here is an article about today's convocation. (FYI, the article fails to mention that President Falwell forgot about the "spoken word" artist at the end, so he dismissed the students. When quite a few people were out in the aisles on their way out, he realized his mistake and called everyone back, so there was mass confusion for a little while. That was pretty funny.)

This week has been very convicting so far. On Monday, Nik Ripken, a missionary who had spent years in Africa (in/around Somalia) shared how he often felt like repaying the Muslim extremists with military violence. "The Old Testament sounds really good to me," he said. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But then he reminded us how Jesus tells us to love our enemies. The truth is, many Muslims have never heard of Jesus, because the church "didn't get that far." They never had the chance to believe and act any differently.

Apparently one of Mr. Ripken's friends fell on his knees before God after 9/11, asking God to forgive, not the terrorists, but the church because they hadn't reached the Muslim world with the Gospel in time to prevent terrorism. That was a whole new perspective for me.

One of Mr. Ripken's Somali coworkers literally walked for 5 days without food across mine fields and under barbed wire to get to the Ripken family because their son had just died. The coworker was amazed that Christians know where they are going when they die; Muslims don't. He asked Mr. Ripken, "Why have you Christians kept this to yourselves?" That's not really what I would expect a Muslim to say, but he did.

Today in Convo we were told that the Scriptures might very well be translated into every language within the next 20 years, which of course brings up the verse: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all nations... and THEN the end will come." It should make me excited, but it's kind of a scary thought. "The end" means the Tribulation, the Antichrist, Armageddon, the whole nine yards. Of course, it ultimately ends with Christ's return, but there's a lot of trouble that has to happen first. I've known that the end would be coming soon... but I was still startled to think that it might be THIS soon. I like my happy little world, and I really don't like being reminded of the ugliness outside. This is a very wrong point of view, I realize, but it's where I am right now.

Which raises the question, in light of the soon-ness of the end of the world, how should I live? The weight and enormity of these realities makes even going to college seem trivial by comparison. I want to kind of brush it off and go on my merry way... but then again, I don't. I don't want to be one of those virgins who forgot to trim her lamp and was shut outside when the bridegroom came. I don't want to be caught sleeping on the watch. I want to be ready and doing the will of my Lord when He comes. But His will is SO big and SO heavy.

Often I feel God calling me to commune with Him, but I feel guilty for not doing my devotions (or whatever the situation might be) and I try to tune Him out, kind of like Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden of Eden. For some reason, I let myself believe that interacting with Him and listening to Him will be this awful, painful thing... but really, truly walking in fellowship with God is when I feel the most free, the most alive. Yet I tend to go into auto-pilot and just kind of drift along in life, when I should be actively leaning on Him. Only then can I focus on and do His will without buckling under the enormity of it all.

Anyway... that was a different post from what we've done so far, but I wanted to share that, and get it written down. I would appreciate your prayers as I learn how to walk with God and also consider what part He wants me to play in taking the Gospel to the nations. Thank you so much!

   -Natalie

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Video Blog!

Hello All!

The first installment of our video blog is up. It covers packing, moving in, and our first week here at Liberty University.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dql78bAjxdc

Friday, September 12, 2014

Film, Food, Fun, and Friends

 Ok, guilty as charged. I share Ms. Miriam's and Anna's love of alliteration. =) 
Anyhow, here's a quick look at life at Liberty! It would be rude to take pictures in class, or I'd have some of those, too. =) Hopefully we'll get a couple of video blogs up soon-ish, too. We'll see. Homework has picked up somewhat, and we've had some really late nights this week. I'll say this, too: We finally understand why people make such a big deal over the weekend. =)
 
The second week of classes, Liberty hosted a film festival!! We got to see pre-release screenings of two Christian films on Thursday and Friday evenings. One was "Beyond the Mask" by Burns Family Studio... the same people who made "Pendragon," if any of you have seen that. Only, they've improved dramatically since then! It comes out in theaters in the spring... everybody go see it!
On Saturday, there were panel discussions and break-out sessions on campus. The people who decorated did a fantastic job! (This picture was taken in the long corridor leading from the panel discussion area to the main hallway.) And let's not forget the famous movie themes (Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Pirates of the Caribbean, etc) playing over the loudspeakers between sessions!
This was the stage where the panelists sat. We heard from Rich Peluso of Sony/Affirm Films, Cindy Bond of Mission Pictures International, and screenwriter Dan Gordon, just to name a few. As a side note, Liberty's film program is named for Mr. Gordon's son, Zaki. They all shared very helpful and relevant information and advice.
During the film festival, we got to know two girls from our film classes a little better. This is Ellecina... she's really sweet and soft-spoken. She also has a LOT of good ideas! I took this picture for a FB thankfulness challenge, and she said she was grateful for her drink. =)
This is us at the film festival with Elizabeth, our other new film friend. =) She doesn't have any friends back home who geek out over behind-the-scenes videos, so she's been really excited to hang out with other film nerds. =)
Mealtimes are also studying times... and this is one of my favorite books to study! Screenwriting is also my favorite class so far!
There's a food court in Green Hall (the building on the far end of campus where the film program is located), and I've really liked their food so far!
We also got Pizza Hut for the first time last week from the food court in the library! (I know, it's odd, but I'm not complaining!) Yum... nothing like a personal pan pizza and cinnamon breadsticks!
I don't know exactly what kind of lasagna/pasta dish this was, but it was delicious! Not to mention the mushrooms... Not all of the dining hall meals are quite so wonderful, and their meat tends to be slightly under-cooked, but some of the food is absolutely awesome.

Saturday morning, Rachael made a second attempt at using the potato pancake mix, and it was somewhat successful. Tasted more like a cross between hashbrowns and grits, but it was nice to have food we cooked ourselves instead of getting it from the cafeteria! (And now we know why the other girl in our dorm put the potato pancake mix in her "free for the taking" box.) =)

Also, we just tried out the SubConnection in Green Hall the other day... you order at these computerized kiosks and pick your meat, bread, toppings, etc... then pick up the finished sub at the counter! Cool!
This is Rachael with the most recent of at least 6 birthday packages! She's gotten everything from a luggage dolly for her cello, to a collection of colorful Sharpies, to instant oatmeal packets and M&Ms!
We also realized it was a good idea to stock up on "meals" we can eat in our dorm, hence the oatmeal and prunes. =) (The prunes are for me, by the way. I don't think Rachael cares for them.) 
We've been getting a lot of packages lately! It's great to get an e-mail from the post office saying they have one package for you, and by the time you get there they have three! 


Two of my most recent packages have been full of snacks from my grandparents. =)
We've gotten so many boxes that we have a whole stash of empty ones under our bed. =) And this isn't even all of them... there are a couple Rachael hasn't opened yet, and we've thrown some away!
So far we've Skyped (or had a LONG phone conversation) with our families at least once a week. It's wonderful to see their faces and hear their voices!
Of course, we can't Skype forever,
because we have homework to do...
I love how Rachael leaves her books on her desk...

From my "Fundamental Accounting Principles" textbook... I feel like I did when I heard about "imaginary numbers" for the first time!
Rachael's been looking for "contemporary" plays to use for assignments in her Acting I class, and I saw this shelf one day when I was studying in the library. I put the picture up here just because I thought it looked cool. =) 
Once a filmmaker, always a filmmaker... Rachael's cinematography class has affected the way she sees everything, and she likes to take pictures of things so she can remember/replicate them later.
Finally got around to putting up the rest of the pictures and wall hangings I brought... it's fun to have reminders of you guys hanging on our walls! 
Here's the other side of the room... we've had at least 2 people so far walk into our room to talk to us, and then randomly stop, stare at Katherine's drawing, and ask, "Who DREW that?" =)
Rachael's new cello teacher wanted her to practice while looking at her hands and bow in the mirror. Because the one on our wall was too high, Rachael rigged her hand mirror to a desk lamp with rubber bands. =) Necessity is the mother of invention...
For my brother Christopher, who plays the French horn. =) Adam and Greta are amazing players and fun people, too! I love to hear the lovely French horn sound floating out from the back of the orchestra... 
Today we had our first orchestra concert of the season... a mini-concert with the "chamber orchestra," which (for this piece) means fewer strings and no winds except for oboe and French horn. It was held in the "atrium," or really big lobby, of the brand new Jerry Falwell Library!
Also, for you Wingfeather Saga fans... note the name of the Atrium. =) 
We have Hall Meeting every Tuesday, but this week all the girls from the Quads (our type of dorm) met in one of the lecture halls. Each hall was assigned a color, and awards were given to the "most colorful lady" and "most colorful hall." =) I was almost picked as the Blue team's representative for "most colorful lady," and we won the "most colorful hall" award, which is a pizza or ice cream party at a future hall meeting!
Speaking of ice cream, we went to Wednesday night church with one of the prayer leaders on our hall and she took us to an ice cream place afterwards. My soft-serve, chocolate dipped come was originally half-again taller... didn't know what I was in for when I ordered a medium!
Well... that's all for now, folks! Tomorrow is the first home football game, and we'll be going to at least part of the tailgate and the first half of the game. (Confession: I just want to see the marching band at half-time!) On the other hand, I'm coming down with some sort of cold/sore throat thing, so we'll see how I feel tomorrow... 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Rachael's Thoughts :)


    While waiting in a long line of unfamiliar faces, I decided to look through old pictures on my phone. Pictures of my siblings goofing off, of Fun Ballet Attire Day with dear students, of memorable times with friends, shined across the small screen. And the feelings suddenly pounded within me: 
What I wouldn't give to be back there right now.

     Just feeling my Dad’s arms around me, hearing the contagious laughter of Mom & my siblings, seeing the faces of my friends I know & love all around… I even miss the smell of my carpet!



     In Angie Castells’ article “17 things that change forever when you live abroad,” she wrote:

     “A food, a song, a smell. The smallest trifle can overwhelm you with homesickness. You miss those little things you never thought you’d miss, and you’d give anything to go back to that place, even if it were just for an instant.… Although deep down, you know you don’t miss a place, but a strange and magical conjunction of the right place, the right moment and the right people... There’s a tiny bit of who you were scattered among all the places you've lived in, but sometimes going back to that place is not enough to stop missing it.”


   I then remembered that I am doubly homesick - aching for my earthly home, but aching even more for my heavenly one. Pieces of a world I've never seen but know I belong to appear in memories fraught with a warm, comforting sense of belonging. It can be so hard to pin it down, but it appears in small things - a strain of music, a giggle of my sister, or a few sentences of a powerful story. And then I don't want it to ever end. One of my favorite parts of The Giver (Lois Lowry) I put below, just because it reminds me of this feeling.

~-~-:-~-~

     “There are so many good memories,” The Giver reminded Jonas. And it was true. By now Jonas had experienced countless bits of happiness, things he had never known of before.

     He had seen a birthday party, with one child singled out and celebrated on his day, so that now he understood the joy of being an individual, special and unique and proud.

     … He had walked through woods, and sat at night beside a campfire. Although he had through the memories learned about the pain of loss and loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.

     “What is your favorite?” Jonas asked The Giver. “You don’t have to give it away yet,” he added quickly. “Just tell me about it, so I can look forward to it, because I’ll have to receive it when your job is done.”

     The Giver smiled. “Lie down,” he said. “I’m happy to give it to you.”

     Jonas felt the joy of it as soon as the memory began. Sometimes it took a while for him to get his bearings, to find his place. But this time he fit right in and felt the happiness that pervaded the memory.

     He was in a room filled with people, and it was warm, with firelight glowing on a hearth. He could see through a window that outside it was night, and snowing. There were colored lights: red and green and yellow, twinkling from a tree which was, oddly, inside the room. On a table, lighted candles stood in a polished golden holder and cast a soft, flickering glow. He could smell things cooking, and he heard soft laughter. A golden-haired dog lay sleeping on the floor.

     On the floor there were packages wrapped in brightly colored paper and tied with gleaming ribbons. As Jonas watched, a small child began to pick up the packages and pass them around the room: to other children, to adults who were obviously parents, and to an older, quiet couple, man and woman, who sat smiling together on a couch.

     While Jonas watched, the people began one by one to untie the ribbons on the packages, to unwrap the bright papers, open the boxes and reveal toys and clothing and books. There were cries of delight. They hugged one another.

     The small child went and sat on the lap of the old woman, and she rocked him and rubbed her cheek against his.

     Jonas opened his eyes and lay contentedly on the bed, still luxuriating in the warm and comforting memory. It had all been there, all the things he had learned to treasure.

     “What did you perceive?” The Giver asked.

     “Warmth,” Jonas replied, “and happiness. And – let me think. Family. That it was a celebration of some sort, a holiday. And something else – I can’t quite get the word for it.”

     “It will come to you.”

     … Jonas hesitated. “I certainly liked the memory, though. I can see why it’s your favorite. I couldn’t quite get the word for the whole feeling of it, the feeling that was so strong in the room.”

     “Love,” The Giver told him.

      Jonas repeated it. “Love.”
~-~-:-~-~


     This internal longing… God has truly “set eternity in the hearts of men.” This is one of the reasons I love The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis so much. He describes with such skill and clarity what Lucy feels in Aslan’s Country, how the former Narnia had only been a fading, broken shadow of this new Narnia. It could not begin to be compared. Every bit of the old Narnia that she had so loved found itself in the new one, vibrant and glorious - a thousand times better - and never to fade away.



     So, with this homesickness, I am reminded of a place to come where there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. A place where God’s people will all fellowship together in perfect love; the struggle will be over. Where we can sing the praises of the great Author, devoid of selfish intentions or heart-distractions, but purely in spirit and truth.

     Natalie and I are doing well & settling into a routine. The homesickness has laid off a good deal since I started this post around 2 weeks ago. We've made some friends and campus feels more like home and less like a foreign country. It’s crazy to think we've already been here 3 weeks!

     I hope to finish our first video blog soon.
     Until then!


-Rachael

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Week One

Hey everyone!

Sorry it's been awhile since we posted. It's been crazy getting used to class schedules and figuring out when to eat, sleep, and study. =) Not to mention doing laundry and attending various campus events! There was a church service every night on Monday through Thursday of last week, so our evenings were kind of swallowed up. =)



Rachael wants to put together a video blog of the trip here and the move-in process, but that takes time that we haven't had yet. =) So here's a quick update on the first week of classes, for anyone who's interested!

First Day of Classes: It rained. Like, poured. Almost all day. I was told in one of my classes that Lynchburg is sometimes called "Drenchburg." We were very grateful for our umbrellas and the campus bus system! (This Monday, on the other hand, was gorgeous... low humidity, warm sun, cool breeze... ahhh.)



Meals: We've found that figuring out when to eat is an unexpected challenge. In planning our classes, we sometimes forgot to leave room for lunch. Sometimes we have 2-3 classes in the morning and we don't want to get up early enough to eat breakfast before the first one. And then there's the issue of who to eat with. We've gone out of our way to eat together so that we don't have to sit by ourselves or find a complete stranger to sit with. (Although we've done that quite a bit, too.)




The net result is, sometimes we have two breakfasts and a dinner, or two lunches and a dinner, or a series of random snacks with one real meal somewhere in the mix. The first day of classes I had a snack at 7am, breakfast at 9:30am, lunch at 2:30pm, and dinner at 5pm. Go figure. At least we have a good supply of chocolate in our room. =)



New friends: The first week, we spent a ridiculous amount of time asking and answering the following questions: What's your name? What's your major? Where are you from? What year are you? What dorm do you live in? Of course, we rarely remembered the answers. =) 

However, we've really gotten to know Bryanna, one of the girls in the room right across the hall in our suite. She's a junior who just transferred here, and she's a Music Worship major. She often tags along with Rachael and me to meals and Walmart and the like, and she's a ton of fun. 
Disclaimer: This picture was taken unexpectedly and fairly late at night. But she does smile like that quite often. =) Her roommate, Candace, had leftover cake from a birthday party and graciously shared it with us. =)

Here's what you need to know about Bryanna: 
  • She LOVES leopard print. 
  • She's from Texas. 
  • Her mind jumps to completely unrelated topics in the blink of an eye, which results in some very funny associations! 
  • She loves "Once Upon a Time" and BBC's "Sherlock." 
  • She has a beautiful singing voice.
  • She makes us feel tall. =)

Things we're learning in class: 
  • How to eavesdrop
  • It's OK to steal
  • How to stalk people
I'm not kidding. Our film professors and Rachael's acting professor have repeatedly emphasized people-watching as an invaluable resource. Professor Schultze, who's the head of the film program and teaches our screenwriting class, told us about a time that he went to a coffee shop specifically to "research" the way high school kids behaved, and he retold in great detail a break-up scene that he witnessed and recorded! Like, he literally wrote down everything they said!

So, according to our professors, we're supposed to look at people's body language, listen to the way they say things, and make note of interesting scenes, dialogue, and settings for possible use in a movie or in your acting. Rachael, apparently, is already a competent eavesdropper, because we'll pass a random group of people on the sidewalk and all of a sudden she'll start giggling because of the half sentence she just overheard. 

As far as the stealing goes, we've been told that a lot of screenwriters work on similar ideas at similar times, and someone in the history of cinema has probably made a movie a lot like the one you're working on. So watch that movie. Get ideas from it, especially about structure. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. 

Lots of other interesting things have happened, too, but I don't have time to go into all of them. Hopefully we'll post more soon, and hopefully we'll post more often once we get "in a groove." =) 

For the moment, here are some random pictures:

To get to Walmart, you go through this tunnel under the railroad tracks. You have to swipe your student ID to open the gates on either end.
The tunnel lets you out in a little strip mall parking lot. Walmart is on the other side of the highway. So there's this nifty bridge that gets you over safely. =) Voila! We've made the trek twice so far... it's not bad!


They bunked our beds a week ago, and the room has felt much more spacious ever since. Rachael's cello isn't as claustrophobic as it was in the corner next to our dressers (as shown in the second picture). Also, we have our printer working, and we put up some of our film decor! Yay!

Thanks for your patience! Love you guys!

Monday, August 11, 2014

An Unexpected Journey...

Welcome to our blog! The basic idea here is to keep all our friends and family updated with what we're doing and learning at Liberty. We've tentatively tossed around the idea of posting once a week, rotating between video blogs, pictures, and written blogs from week to week. Rachael and I will both be contributing. That way, we stand a better shot of keeping up with the blog and actually posting on a regular basis. =)

To start with, I'd like to give you my backstory... who I am, why I'm going to Liberty, and how I got here. Rachael will be checking in pretty soon, and we're also planning a video blog documenting the process of packing, traveling, arriving, and moving in at college!

So... hi everyone! My name is Natalie Pace. I couldn't tell you exactly when I truly trusted Jesus for salvation, but I understood the Gospel for the first time when I was three (by God's grace) and have been learning, struggling, failing, growing, and trusting more ever since then. I'm an administrative extrovert who likes music and books, especially as they relate to movies. I'm a certified addict to anything C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, I'm a soundtrack junkie, and I love to dance. I was also given a special gift for memorization, reading/spelling/writing, and taking standardized tests.

And I never, ever thought that I would be going to college.

For a long time, college was something scary and unnecessary. I viewed going to college like Bilbo Baggins viewed adventures: "Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner." So I lived contentedly in my little Shire for quite a long time, with no visits from wandering wizards or treasure-seeking dwarves.


Back when I was in about 5th grade, my clarinet teacher used to ask me what college I would be going to. I laughed and brushed it off, saying I was too young to be thinking about that. After a while, when I did start thinking about it, I realized that I didn't exactly know what I wanted to do "when I grew up." Then, when I was 13, Mom and Dad visited some friends in Germany and got a really big memory card for their camera, to store all the pictures they'd be taking. Later that year, they bought a new camera and gave the old one... with the ginormous memory card... to me and my sisters. 

Why is this important? That little camera happened to have a video function (albeit a pretty low-end one), and it now had enough space on the memory card to hold video files. On one particular trip to the beach, I discovered that I was obsessed with taking videos. That fall, I corralled my siblings and a few friends together and filmed a few chapters of Martha Finley's "Elsie Dinsmore." I think I played about 4 different characters, which involved everything from wearing my Mom's Junior Prom dress to painting my face and arms with the darkest base makeup I could find.

So it was that I fell in love with filmmaking. Over the next few years, I learned how to edit videos, upgraded my software, bought a full HD camcorder, attended various filmmaking seminars, read screenwriting books, and eventually bought a MacBook Pro so that I could get Final Cut Pro (a high-end movie-editing software). 


Oh, and I made lots and lots of little videos. Most of them were really silly... like the one where I pretended to be a statue, and my youngest sister tried to "wake me up" because she didn't know I was a statue. Or the one where me, my Dad, and two of my sisters filled IBC root beer bottles with different amounts of water and played "Carol of the Bells" on them. (You can see it here: Carol of de BottlesBut some weren't, like the Piano Guys-style music video based on Chuck Black's "Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart," a project that took about 9 months from conception to completion.


Pretty soon, my passion became to make quality films with Christian messages that were neither preachy, nor cheesy, nor vague. How exactly that translated into real life, I wasn't sure. Mom and Dad decided that they weren't going to automatically send their girls to college when we graduated high school, and I was perfectly fine with that. They would take it as a case-by-case scenario and carefully think and pray about God's will in each instance. 

We talked with an old pastor friend who had gone to film school, and he said that the best way to learn to make movies was to actually make movies. Based on his advice and that of others, we figured that traditional film school wasn't the best route to go. I planned on getting an internship, hopefully somewhat locally. The Erwin Brothers (who made "October Baby" and "Mom's Night Out") were based in Birmingham, AL, and the Kendrick Brothers were just a few hours away in Albany, GA. 

I wasn't looking at colleges. I wasn't going to college. I wished I could give my SAT and ACT scores to those of my friends who were going to college.


And then, the summer before my senior year, the wandering wizard showed up at my door. 

A couple of good friends challenged us to rethink our theory on college. They made good points, and we had always left an escape clause... "Unless God changes our plans, Natalie's not going to college." I had been pretty darn certain that He wasn't gonna change the plan, but suddenly Mom was looking at college websites. I started getting concerned.

Then the dwarves arrived, one after the other.

The first one came over the radio. Someone was talking about Echolight Studios and a deal they'd made with Liberty University. Echolight would fund a brand-new film program at Liberty for five years, and the students would provide most of the labor on one real feature film per year. Hmm. Interesting.

The next major "dwarf" came by word of mouth. I'd been trying to get in touch with a guy in Montgomery who had major connections in the Christian film industry, and who we'd heard was interested in starting a film school in the area. But I never was able to meet with him... schedules and logistics just didn't work out. However, in one e-mail he asked, "Have you looked at Liberty University's film school?" Well, as a matter of fact, yes... sort of.


For a couple of months we heard about Liberty's film school from several different people, but the next big incident came when Rachael and I finished two short films we'd been working on all that summer. ("The Shadow Heart," which I linked earlier, and "Draw Your Sword", which was Rachael's project.) Our parents threw us a fun, pseudo-formal premiere night at our church to show our friends what we'd been working on. Afterwards, our pastor came up to us and said, "Have you two considered filmmaking as a career?" We looked at each other with big smiles and said, "Yes!" Then he asked, "Have you looked at Liberty's film program?" A little less enthusiastically, we said, "Yes."


The idea of going to college was still very big and frightening, for both of us. And Lynchburg, Virginia was a LONG way from Prattville, Alabama. Erebor might be a place of unimaginable treasure, but the treasure was buried underneath a Lonely Mountain half a world away... OK, maybe not that far. But that's how we felt. 


And then God gave us an eagle...

Some friends who owned a private plane were also looking at Liberty for one of their sons, and they offered to fly me, Rachael, and our parents out to Liberty with them for Liberty's "College for a Weekend" event. This was the September of my senior year. After spending a couple of nights on campus, touring the film school facilities, talking with some of the professors, and sitting in on several classes, it became pretty clear that this was where I needed to go. 


After that, things moved pretty fast. (Well, except for the time when the IRS wouldn't process my tax return for weeks on end...) People talk about God "opening a door"... well, in my case, God threw me through the door before I really knew the door existed! Those standardized test scores that I wanted to give away were suddenly critical, and God used them to bless me with a significant scholarship to Liberty, clearly paving the way.  

So here I am, three days away from moving into my dorm, and one week from my first class. A year ago, I still had no real intention of going to college. In many ways, it's surreal. But the more I think about it, the more I know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. God knew I needed to get out of my safe little hobbit hole, where "nothing unexpected ever happens." (Ok, so there have been some unexpected happenings, but not many.) 

My life has been pretty predictable for a long time. I'm surrounded by a lot of people who believe pretty much the same way I do, and who generally behave the same way and like the same things. But God is not a God of the predictable. He delights in curveballs and blindsides. He walked on water, fed the 5,000, and rose from the dead. He also ate with the "sinners," touched the lepers, and "broke" the Sabbath. And, as John wrote, "Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:6)

To be honest, I'm nervous about going to college. Sometimes I'm scared, even. (I mean, there's bound to be a cranky dragon or a bunch of prejudiced elves somewhere along the line.) But I'm also really, really excited to see what God's got up His sleeve. This is a new chapter of my life, and when God has His way, the story will always be a page-turner!

Thanks for joining us on this unexpected journey. I hope you are encouraged and excited, and maybe even motivated to go on your own God-adventure! Onward and upward!