Visiting Liberty University

Visiting Liberty University

Sunday, October 26, 2014

System Override

There are some days when God re-writes your schedule, not to make things more complicated but to simplify your life and refresh you. Don't believe me? I wouldn't have believed either, but my God is so loving and faithful...

It was going to be a standard weekend... buried up to my ears in homework. I had an assignment for my Cinematic Arts Appreciation (CINE 101) class due Sunday night that required me to watch a movie of my choice and explain how the movie addressed existentialism. I also had to finish a short research paper for my University Core Competencies class (how-to-be-a-college-student 101) by Sunday night and prepare for a persuasive speech that I might have to give in my Speech Communications class on Monday morning. And let's not forget the quiz in my 7:40am Accounting Principles class, also on Monday! 

There were other, smaller things I hoped to get done as well, but the point is, I was swamped. I fully intended to lock myself in my room all day Saturday and all of Sunday after church, but God had other plans...

Saturday morning I sleep in somewhat longer than I intend to and get off to a slow start. As I try to review the chapter on Existentialism in my "Hollywood Worldviews" book for my CINE 101 assignment, Rachael has a long (and very interesting) conversation with her family in the background. Not bad... I like hearing from her family as well as mine... but it makes it hard to focus. Then I have to figure out which movie to watch. After making a list of the various movies mentioned in the book and several others that I think might work, I check which ones are available at the library and look up PluggedIn reviews on them. Finally I settle on Iron Man 2. 

By this time Rachael and I are ready for lunch. Before we leave for the dining hall, though, we spontaneously end up Skyping Jubilee for a while! It was awesome to talk to her, and we had a really good conversation, but I felt myself losing homework time. Tension grew inside my chest and a nagging voice started whispering in the back of my head. I knew that voice all too well... I did my best to ignore it, but I couldn't silence it completely. 

You're not being productive, it whispered. You're wasting time.

I know that, as my Dad always says, "People are more important," but sometimes I'm not sure where to draw the line between building relationships and doing my schoolwork. Anyway, we got a late lunch, came back and started a couple of loads of laundry, and eventually left with our laptops to do homework on the roof of DeMoss Hall, the really big, impressive academic building smack dab in the middle of campus. Problem is, it's hard to get a whole lot done when there's a gorgeous view of the mountains and the setting sun right in front of you.


Finally it got cold and pretty dark, so Rachael and I climbed down and went back to the dining hall, where we attempted to multi-task. The only thing I had managed to accomplish school-wise by this point was picking Iron Man 2, checking it out of the library, and finishing the rough draft of my research paper. 


We had already arranged to meet Kimmy (Rachael's stand partner in orchestra) to see The LEGO Movie at one of Liberty's regular movie nights. They show two movies at a time, and The LEGO Movie was the second one, so we hung out with Kimmy at the library during the first movie and *attempted* to keep doing schoolwork until the second movie started around 9:45. At this point, I pretty much gave up any idea of being productive that day. The LEGO Movie was a ton of fun, and we got to spend some time with just Kimmy, which was also awesome. 

I was still hoping to get something done when we got back to our dorm, but then we ended up talking to Bryanna from across the hall for a couple of hours. Again, it was a really good, encouraging, meaningful conversation, but by the time I went to bed it was 3am. (Yeah, I know. My body's on the college-kid schedule now...)

So Sunday came. We went to church and had lunch with some girls from our dorm, pretty much per normal, and I came home and sat down with my day timer. Sometime in the middle of the previous evening, that awful tension in my chest had melted away, and I knew that somehow, for some reason, God had "ruined" my Saturday schedule on purpose. Theoretically, that meant that "everything would be OK," But I still didn't know how I was going to get everything "done" on time.

Guess what I discovered?
  • The LEGO Movie that I'd watched "just for fun" with Kimmy and Rachael actually addressed all three aspects of existentialism that I was supposed to discuss in my CINE 101 assignment! (Chance over destiny, freedom over rules, and experience over reason) So I didn't have to spend an extra 2 hours watching Iron Man 2. 
  • On that note, I'm sure The LEGO Movie was also more "wholesome" than Iron Man. At the very least, I'm not going to have crass jokes and suggestive images stuck in my head for the next few weeks.
  • The Accounting chapter that I had to read before Monday morning was half the length it usually is!
  • My speech was already outlined from earlier in the week, so if I had to give it "on the fly" without much practice, I had a pretty solid foundation to work with. Also, there was a pretty good chance I wouldn't have to give my speech until Wednesday.
  • Convocation is cancelled on Monday this week, so there are no room checks. This means I don't have to sweep out my room or tidy it all up before I go to bed. (Sounds lazy, but you take what you can get! Besides, we haven't gotten written up for having a messy room yet!)
  • The toilet overflowed in the bathroom that Rachael and I were supposed to clean this week. It was so bad that the maintenance people came over the weekend to deal with it. Some pipe broke and is leaking on the quad below us. All of this sucks. EXCEPT the fact that we are forbidden to enter or use that bathroom in any way, shape, or form. This means that, until further notice, Rachael and I have practically no chores this week!

God knew this. 

                    God knew about all of this. 

                                                              I didn't. 

I was planning to keep myself busy, but God said, "You're going to take a break whether you like it or not." Which is funny, because lately I've been worrying that God might essentially make my life miserable if I let Him have control of it. Instead, He blessed me beyond what I was expecting and refreshed my spirit with several good conversations with friends. And no chores!!!

Thank you, Lord, for loving me enough to override my near-sighted schedule and replace it with Your perfect one. Thank you for peace, rest, and joy. You are truly a good God, and you have blessed me beyond what I deserve. May I never forget this. May I never forget your compassionate, merciful wisdom. Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Videos!

Hey everyone!

You may have seen these videos on Facebook already... I just thought I'd officially post them on the blog, too! Thanks for your patience! We're busier than we thought we'd be. (I can picture most of you grown-ups nodding with a smug smile at that. I'll forgive you for your smugness if you forgive us for our ignorant optimism!)

Anyway... that's my (poor) attempt at humor for the day. Please don't take it seriously. I'm trying to exercise my funny bone. =)

So here's the first video, which documents the first college football game that Rachael and I have been to (ever)! I know, it's weird that two girls who grew up in the heart of the SEC, smack dab between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide, never caught the football fever. But such it is, at least for now. =)

Then here's a longer video blog about lots of different things... a football pep rally, an exciting dorm event, our friends from orchestra, Rachael's 19th birthday, etc. We have enough footage for two more videos, but I'll try to post more frequently with pictures while we're trying to get those videos put together. =)

Happy Fall, people! Talk to you later!

-Natalie

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Art of Bowing

So yes, it’s sort of a double joke. :) Since coming to Liberty, I've had the privilege of taking private cello lessons in addition to playing with the symphony orchestra. It’s been great to continue learning something I love so much while at college!

Anyway, I've been learning a lot in the past month – and I've been surprised to find so many biblical parallels in playing cello. I've had a lot of “God reminders” while practicing and I wanted to share them with you all. So, things I've learned...


      1. You've got to let go.

    There’s a difference between precision and a stiff attempt to control every detail. Precision comes from practice and focus; a tight, rigid grip will only end badly, both for playing and for your hand itself. Being a control freak makes you inflexible, un-pliable, and strangles the sound. Not to mention the trembling, cramping hand! This reminded me that I don’t have any ultimate control of my life – that’s in God’s hands. So why pretend and stress out over something that is beyond my control? 
“There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the Lord directs his steps.”


     2. You have to be willing to make mistakes.

     It comes with the territory – if you play an instrument, you will make mistakes. Period. But without making the mistakes and learning from them, you can’t become a better player. So when the string squeals or the note is so flat you could balance a glass of wine on it, you shrug, smile, and move on. In my Christian walk, I have to be willing to mess up and fail. I've often seen people’s true character more in their “I’m sorry” than in their “perfectness.” Jesus Christ is lifted up in our imperfections. When we are shown to be our weak selves, God is magnified and made strong.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”


      3. Sometimes you have to be broken down to nothing.

     Bad habits, skewed way of thinking, wrong understanding… All these things have to be torn down so they can be built up again right. Relearning is seldom a fun experience. It often comes with frustration and lots of repetitive work, sometimes without any noticeable results for a long time. But it is so worth it. In my case, every detail – which muscle moves what, how the fingers rest on the bow, the angle the cello is tilted – had to be relearned or readjusted. God does this in our lives too. Hard circumstances, big changes, and trials all bring us back to our knees and remind us where we draw our strength & our very breath. He makes us humble so that we are pliable in His hands. And then, He can build us back up.


      4. Live out loud.

     It was unconsciously forming – I was pulling up my elbow and shoulder and taking the weight out of the string to make my sound quieter. I had trained myself this way because, for some reason, I thought loud was wrong and undesirable. And then, even if I wanted to, I could not play “big.” But the shoulder and elbow has to relax, to move fluidly and quickly and boldly. The bow is meant to make the string sing out! Likewise, we’re meant to “live out loud,” as the Steven Curtis Chapman song coins it. We should pray for boldness to share Jesus with those he loves. We have a relationship with God – we, who even at our best were just filthy rags – and we were meant to sing it out!


      5. Enjoy the Ride!

     Throughout the years, there have been times I have avoided practicing. I would scrub the kitchen floors to keep from sitting down and working on scales and tricky runs. It was a thing on the list, to be done. But the more I understand, the more I delight in things I'm learning, the more I immerse myself in this beauty of music that God's given us, the more I love playing cello. In fact, there have been a couple days I have put off homework so I could practice (okay, so that's not saying much, but really I've had a great time!). This just kept bringing the verse in Matthew to mind:
"Come to me, you who are weary and heavy ladened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
This made me think: What if, just maybe, it's more about resting in Jesus, more about savoring my relationship with him? More about a crazy-awesome ride with Jesus at the wheel and me trusting him in joy. :) So, anyway! I've really enjoyed everything music-related here so far!