Monday, July 30, 2007

My Oxford Address!

Leslie from Oxford Overseas Study Course (OOSC) emailed all the participants with our housemates, address, and telephone number.

My housemates are:

Rachel Cash -William Jewell College
Katherine Grimm - Mercer University
Brienne Thornbury - Mercer University

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Snapshot 3: My Faith

This post is going to be on the longer side because the topic is really important to who I am.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galations 2:20

The actual moment when I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and live in my heart is rather elusive. I believe it was while I was a Cubbie, as I was an active participant in A.W.A.N.A.S. from a young age. Growing up in a Christian home, I knew little else about how other people might chose to live their life. In elementary school, I was well behaved, basing my views on the Sunday school answer. As I entered junior high and became active in our youth group, I began to realize being a Christian meant more than living a moral life; it took time and effort to cultivate a relationship with the Lord.

I started to build upon the foundation that was set in place by my parents. My good intentions were not strong enough to keep my priorities straight. Youth group became more about fellowship that spiritual growth and my time spent with God could hardly be called consistent. This is not all to say that I was not a believer, trying to do what would please God—I was. However, I had yet to turn from the confines of my parent’s faith and hide myself in the love of a personal savior.

This did not begin to happen until the summer before my senior year in high school. My first two years were a little rocky, probably just pebbly compared to the average teen, but it was still evident that my priorities were not in order. During my junior year, I was involved in the pep club and took a rigorous set of classes. Having little time for much else, my church attendance waned as well. By the time June rolled around, I was burnt out, exhausted, and depleted.

That summer marked the beginning of a new stage in my walk with God. He recognized that I was broken and in need of refining. While on vacation, God spoke to me about the issue of modesty. I never thought I had a problem with modesty, but God revealed that it was as much an inward attitude as it was an outward display. As I prayed with God about helping me develop an attitude of modesty, I realized that this was what having an active relationship with God was all about—being in an intimate friendship with Jesus Christ, allowing Him to access the innermost corners of my heart, and surrendering every aspect of my life to His care. I was refreshed and excited about experiencing God’s personalized care for my life, even though He was showing me areas that I needed to work on.

I had gotten to the point where I wanted to own my faith and see it grow. College has tested my commitment to live a life wholly devoted to Him. I had to make active choices in order to get connected in the Christian community on my campus. Little things like going to the first women’s ministry meeting, sitting alone in Worship Jam, and finding other believers to fellowship with were a stretch for my faith and personality. It is only God’s power that enabled me to take those first steps to keep my relationship growing. I am constantly learning about accepting grace as I try to daily surrender my plans, dreams, and attitude to God. This summer i've been especially working on having a trusting heart full of peace about the path God has laid out for me during the upcoming year abroad.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Snapshot 2: Hobbies

My hobbies can be broken into two categories: 1. The things I wish I could do but due to extreme lack of skill sadly cannot and 2. The things I actually do to occupy my free time. Let's start with the former so I can end on a good note...

Unsuccessful Pastimes
I'll cut to the chase - i'm not athletically gifted, I have no rythm, and I can't carry a tune. I hate to quote a tween chick flick, but Anne Hathaway's character in Princess Diaries says it perfectly: "I am a synchronized swimming, yoga-doing, horseback-riding, wall-cIimbing-type girl. My hand-eye coordination is zero."

In my defense, I played softball as a youngster (however, I only hit one ball the whole season...) and was on the badminton team one year in highschool. But as for basketball or volleyball, sports I would like to be good at, that would use my near six feet tall frame to an advantage, I am dreadfully unskilled. Although I did develop a new way to put extra umph into shooting a three-pointer. It involves flinging one leg, bent at the knee, backwards while thrusting arms skyward and releasing the ball. I thought I'd send a video of it to Kobe's trainer. As for the other two, it's pretty simple: I'm pretty much tone deaf and I can't dance.

Successful Pastimes
While I enjoy doing many things, the two that come to mind first are reading and cooking. Words are powerful. I love the way people mold and sculpt them to express different views or stories. I'm currently in the midst of The Magician's Nephew, C.S. Lewis, Bleak House, Charles Dickens, and HP and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling. Usually it bothers me to read more than one novel at a time but this was an odd set of circumstances.

Cooking and food engages all the senses. It's creative, stimulating, methodical, and always results in a product. My favorite thing about cooking is how it spans generations and cultures. Food connects people, brings them together under a common need for nourishment and a shared sense of pleasure. I was my mom's kitchen helper since I could make a stirring motion and have been hooked ever since. I don't exactly have a specialty yet, but baking is what I like to do best.

Friday, July 20, 2007


This is my second attempt at writing a post to introduce myself. I went to bed pretty frustrated last night with my inability to portray all the aspects of who I am in an accurate and interesting manner. Which is a great example of a pesky personality trait of mine – perfectionism. We have a love hate relationship. I love possessing the perseverance to do things well, but I hate the sometimes crippling effect of not being able to let a project go if it doesn’t meet my, usually unrealistic, standard. So, instead of anally trying to condense all of “me” into a couple paragraphs, I’ll just create a few snapshots of who I am over the next few days and give a more scholastic profile later.

Snapshot 1: My Family

Family is a very important part of my life. Although I’d like to think I escaped many pitfalls of being the youngest child (of two), I’m aware of a few residual effects from being “the baby” and only girl. Most prominent is my ability to badger people, especially my mom, into doing things with me, like making cupcakes.

I adore my brother Tim, 23 – I could say more but that would be a whole different post. We like to see how many Fletch and Fletch Lives quotes we can integrate into normal conversation. My mom and I share the same spirit of exploration and love of food, which usually end up combined into some culinary adventure. I have a step-sister (Tina, 27) and step-brother (Ben, 24) who have made me Auntie Em three times over in the last 14 months.

I’m fortunate to have close extended family as well. The MO Stews as my family calls them (short for their location and last name abbr.) are like a second set of parents and brothers. Because I go to school where they live, I have the joy of spending a lot of time with them. Someone usually ends up in tears (from laughing of course) when we all get together.

My family is anything but typical. We make up words, my brother and I don’t fight, and we laugh A LOT.