"This is a little slideshow I made composed of photographs from my Southern Adventist University Freshman year. Most of the pictures were taken by me, but not all. I loved my freshman year!"
"This is a little slideshow I made composed of photographs from my Southern Adventist University Freshman year. Most of the pictures were taken by me, but not all. I loved my freshman year!"
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
When did my class standing suddenly change to sophomore??? It is unreal how this year reached its climax and dénouement.
Friday I ran my second 5K. During the week I contemplated not doing it; after all, what if I didn’t beat my previous time? Nevertheless, Friday found me running. Just before the run I got an incredible adrenaline rush that pushed me for the next 3+ miles, allowing me to shave off over 5 minutes from my previous time and finish before my Fit for Life teacher. Until then, I didn’t consider myself a runner; if anything I was an interval jogger. That 5K helped me to realize that limits are relative standards set by others. Those who overcome or challenge the limits become inspiration for those that follow.
Everybody seems freaked out about these finals. Should I be worried because I’m calm? Studying has become such a lifestyle for me that the mountainous molehill of finals somehow seems more like a long quiz I’ve already taken.
This was a difficult year for me, but looking back, I feel like a mother holding her newborn for the first time. The long, dark commutes, endless hours in the kitchen, and countless hours of work all seems like nothing now that they’re over. The labor in becoming Chef Rice was so worth it—I am happy beyond language! God is good; just the fact that our program still exists is enough to convince me that Southern’s Culinary Arts program is His doing. I’m glad I jumped on this opportunity to get my culinary certificate even though it meant putting off my B.S. in dietetics one year and am looking forward to watching us grow.
It’s time to say goodbye to Southern for the summer, my freshman year of college, and pre-professional life. Next Monday I start my internship at Morning Point (a nursing home in Collegedale for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients) and Greenbriar (a local retirement community). This summer is crammed with two family weddings, publishing our class cookbook, plus my 10-week internship—however—I just found out school doesn’t start till August 28, giving me almost a month off—yay! Perfect timing, because the garden will be coming in right about then; I could never imagine spending a summer without gardening, harvesting, and preserving food with mom.
The transition from homeschool to college wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I expected. At first, the classroom environment was a shock, whereas studying on my own came quite naturally. What got me was my 40-minute drive to school. Allowing time for my commute may have prevented me from doing fun things on campus, yet it never failed to ensure I went to bed early every night except once when I was up until 2:00 a.m. studying.
Let me leave you prospective freshman with a few tips:
Being an ordinary girl who chose a non-traditional course of education for a college freshman really pushed me out of my comfort zone. But it’s molding me into the person I will become tomorrow: one who will not be afraid to challenge the norm, be an inspirational role model, and be dedicated to a life of healing service to others.
What does next year look like? Well, this summer I’m formulating a vegan ketogenic diet designed to treat kids with epilepsy. In the fall, I’ll be back at Southern getting my A.S. in Culinary Arts while starting my B.S. in dietetics. If all goes well, I’ll be transferring to UTC to complete my dietetic training the year after. Chemistry had better compensate for cooking or I’ll be up a creek with four chemistries to complete. I’ll keep blogging, whether it will be a food blog or a random one like this one will be another saga. Getting my personal trainer’s license and working up to my new dream of doing a half marathon will have me frequenting the gym. The race of my life has begun; I’m smiling and embracing it with open arms and all the optimistic zing I possess, determined to finish strong.
More than ever I sense that God is using me. It’s frightening, humbling, and exciting all at once. I’m grateful He drew me to Southern. Dr. Whitten, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for everything! You are an amazing Christian professor, mentor, and friend. Without your encouragement, I may never have seriously considered dietetics or natural medicine. A thousand words aren’t enough to describe my gratitude.
What lies behind is progress;
What lies ahead I can’t imagine—
Much less guess.
But this I know:
My God will guide
Wherever I go.
So this is what it’s like to say goodbye…but not for the last time. Thanks you guys for reading; run to Jesus, and I’ll see you soon!
Here it is: my very last blog post as a Freshman for SAU. This post is bittersweet to write for me. On the one hand, I am sad to bring this experience to a close, but on the other I am so excited for the road ahead. I can’t wait to see what happens next in terms of my life and the path ahead of me.
In my previous entry, I broke it to you guys about my decision to leave SAU. Now, I could sit here and write and rant about all the flaws I see at SAU, but I don’t want that to be how I leave my last entry. SAU is an incredible place with incredible people. I have made friendships here and relationships with certain professors which I’m sure will last when I leave this place. My issues are not with the physical campus, but rather the restrictions put on me and my peers. I am a young adult. I am growing and learning and changing all the time. This is the point in my life when I have to figure out who I am, and I just don’t feel like I’m fully allowed to explore life and the world here. To be honest, I feel like I have been disconnected from the world. Some people crave to fall off the map and not know what’s happening, but I crave information; I want to know about the biggest thing in the news the minute it is released to the public. I want to go hiking and camping and see beautiful places and not have to worry about getting back in time for curfew. I left my parent’s house equip with the tools to be able to be a responsible, mature, young adult, but I feel like I’m not really allowed to use those tools here. As I said, this is not a bash against the school or campus; it is simply me saying that while this campus can fit what many people need, it does not fit what I need, and that’s okay! Everybody is different, and everybody fits somewhere. I’m sad my place isn’t here, but I know I will find my place, and this just means I’m one step closer to getting there!
The events which have taken place in my life during my time at SAU will forever be etched in my brain as some of my least and most favorite memories. I’ve had laughs here. I’ve experienced heartbreak here. I’ve been surprised here. I’ve had tears here. I have spent my entire paycheck on taco bell and Starbucks and Panera Bread SEVERAL TIMES here. My time here has been far from perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world because, like everything else that has happened in my 19 years on Earth, my time here has helped mold me into who I want to be as I enter the next phase of my life.
The next phase of my life is filled with possibilities and potential. I am excited to start this journey, as I know it will mean becoming one step closer to the best version of me that I can possibly be. I am blessed to have been raised in a state that offers great colleges as well as awesome financial aid opportunities to students who maintain a certain GPA. Lucky for me, I fit the criteria, which means I get to benefit from the funding without having to let my quality of education suffer. Plus, I’m closer to home and only a few hours away from SAU, so I can make visits to see my friends sometimes. Overall, it’s a win-win.
I don’t know if any potential students read this blog, but if you are a student considering SAU, and you read the Freshman Blogs religiously every week like I did before I came here, I ask you to take this entry with a grain of salt; this is my personal experience. It does not mean this school isn’t a great place or fit for you, and it doesn’t mean you won’t be happy here. It simply means it wasn’t a fit for me, and that’s okay. Don’t let my experiences stop you from having your own. If SAU is your dream, then by all means, apply to the school. If you get accepted, which you probably will, then come! Try this place out for yourself. You can’t decide how you’ll feel about a place until you actually experience it.
It has been my honor and privilege to be a Freshman Blogger. This was one of my dreams when I decided to come to SAU. I have always had a mind for writing, and I prayed that I would be able to continue to use a talent I was blessed with. When I first saw that SAU had a blogging opportunity for students, before I was even eligible to apply to the school because I wasn’t old enough, I would read the Freshman Blogs, and I remember thinking to myself, “I’m going to do everything in my power to be one of those when I get to SAU.” And now, here I am, finishing my LAST entry as a Freshman Blogger. I remember sending in my essay to be considered, saying a prayer over it, hoping to get the job, but wondering if I would. When I got the email saying I had been chosen, I was shocked. I also had absolutely no idea what this year would bring, and how I would be grow and change over the course of my weekly blogs. I look back over my entries sometimes, and I can see a slow progression. To the naked eye, the change is probably not obvious, but coming from the person who wrote the entries, I can see it, and it is amazing to have this part of my life completely documented. I always journaled as a kid, and this has made me pick back up my love for it.
Also, I’m hoping to start my own blog after this entry has come and gone. My blog this year has started an addiction; I just can’t stay away from writing! I hear they are fairly easy to set up, so if you loved reading my entries and want to keep up with me, be on the lookout for my own personal blog!
I want to close the entry with some thank-you’s. Thank you to my editors, the lovely people who read my blog and post it for me. Thank you for the opportunity you gave me this year; it is truly an experience I will not forget. Thank you to my other freshman bloggers for writing throughout the year, even when we didn’t want to or didn’t know what to say. You never know! Your blog could have made a huge difference in someone’s life this year! Lastly, I want to say thank you to my family, especially my parents, for always helping pick me up when I fell on my face throughout this last year, and for always encouraging me and inspiring some of my most emotional entries this year. Without you, I couldn’t have done all of this with the passion I had.
There is never an easy way to end a blog post, especially when it’s your last one. Usually I end my post with a “until next week”, but for this one I can’t end it that way. However, I have to think of something, right? Okay, here it goes:
Thank you for giving me an incredible year of writing. I hope my entries inspired you as much they inspired me through writing them. Always remember that you are loved, cherished, and you matter to people in this world, and never take that for granted. Live life to the fullest, and never regret what you may learn from a mistake. Guys, this is it. This is the end. To all my fellow freshman: Congratulations everybody! We made it!
All my love,
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
If there is one verse to summarize the past two semesters of my first year at Southern Adventist University, it may be this one.
No matter where you decide to attend college, what major you choose or how many times you change your mind, focus everything back to what I believe is our ultimate purpose: to positively affect the lives of those around us and spread the love of Our Father.
College is a big change from anything most of us have ever done before. I had long anticipated college and I thought it would be an easy transition, but it is so much more than getting use to harder classes. My college experience so far has made me become more independent and is really helping me find out who I really am, what my strengths are, and who I want to be.
When I first started school last semester I quickly became overwhelmed with the new classes and challenges of college life. I decided that God and my education where two unconnected parts of my life. I put church and the Sabbath on the back burner, replaced by my studies. I resented going to worship because I thought it wasted too much of my time. But now I am realizing that nothing in my life is separate from God. And I don’t say that negatively. I don’t mean that I can’t get away from Him. What I mean is that I honestly need Him. I found that when I humbly and sincerely dropped my head to give up my anxiety and challenges to God, He never let me down. Taking my education to God did not mean that I suddenly understood all of the material and never had to study, but I was given a portion of His strength and wisdom to push through all that I needed to do while not feeling the entire burden on my shoulders alone.
There are so many opportunities that come along with higher education and even more outside of the college setting. But honestly many things are pointless and exhausting if they are not done with God for His glory. I challenge you to not only make decisions for your future that will exalt God, but reexamine your everyday life to make sure it is not compartmentalized. Do not put your education in one box, your relationships in another and pack away God for the once a week space we call the Sabbath. Make sure He is part of everything you do because He will help carry your weight and then when people look at you they will not be able to help but to see His face too.
This blog will be my final entry for Southern as we are all wrapping up the end of this semester and taking our finals. So again, I request prayers for strength, wisdom, endurance and patience as we take our tests this week. Also pray for patience and safe travels as we all pack up our rooms and head back home.
Seriously though I hate packing more than any other task so I could really use prayers for patience.
“Do it all for the glory of God…”
It’s really hard to believe that my first year of college will be over in three days. Second semester, especially, as just flown by. There’s been nights with plenty of sleep, and nights with not so much sleep. There have been Sundays full of relaxation, and Sundays full of studying. There have been tests with good grades, and tests with maybe not as good of grades. No matter what happened, no matter the good or the bad, it has all been a great experience. An experience that I would not trade for anything. And in a way, a lot of those small things throughout the year seem pretty unimportant right now. It’s the big picture that counts. Just as a sit here and type this, a flood of memories come back to my mind. For my final blog, I’d like to reflect on some things that I’ve learned or experienced this year, as well as share some tips for students who are planning to come to Southern for the first time next year.
On a little bit lighter note, I’d like to share some specific tips for next year’s freshmen at Southern. Who knows, maybe someone reading this will be writing this blog next year.
I have probably rambled enough, so I should probably bring this blog entry to a close. I have really enjoyed the privilege to write these blogs for Southern. While there were times when I was tired and stressed, and didn’t put the effort that I should have into writing them, I really enjoyed them all. It gave me time to think and reflect on my week. I hope that I have been able to provide at least a small blessing to someone that has ready my blogs this year. It’s really hard to believe that my first year of college will be over in three days.
Signing out for the last time,
So to end my last weekend of the school year with my friends, I went cliff-jumping! It was a really spontaneous decision—I literally decided to go 30 minutes before all the cars left to go to Soddy Daisy. After Sabbath potluck, I shuffled through my drawers for a bathing suit and rushed out my dorm. I usually never do anything with spontaneity because I love to just follow plans, but my friends did a good job of convincing me otherwise :).
The drive to Soddy Daisy was about 30 minutes long, and I was pretty nervous about going because I haven’t been there in about a year. I was freaking out in my head—everyone else seemed so calm! I mean, I didn’t even plan on jumping of a huge ledge. When we finally got to Soddy Daisy, I was feeling more than a little scared, haha.
Before you actually get to Blue Hole (where you can cliff-jump), you have to hike about 20 minutes to get there. I personally like hiking, and I felt like I especially needed to get some kind of exercise because I finished a bunch of ice cream and cheesecake after potluck (oops). We were all hiking in flip-flops, which is a lot harder than it looks. Eventually, we got to Blue Hole and my friends immediately started jumping. I only jumped off this rock that was around 25 feet, maybe? I couldn’t bring myself to jump off anything higher than that, but a bunch of my guy-friends did!
After we cliff-jumped for an hour, we made the hike back to our cars. I almost lost my shoe from a stream we were crossing, but my friend was kind enough to rescue it :). I met up with some of my other friends after we got back on campus and had some Mexican food for dinner. I was sooo tired by the end of the night!
I’m really happy with the way I spent my last Sabbath with my school friends. I’m just incredibly blessed to know so many great people and be in an area where I can easily go out in nature and have fun. I hope you all had a great weekend too, and good luck during finals week! Let’s end this year strong!
She sat back and just felt.
Just 10 months ago, what felt like several years ago, she had been the 17 year old girl who had confidently come on the campus of Southern Adventist University. So much had changed. There were new people, new circumstances, and a new outlook. And the some of the old had come back in a beautiful undercurrent of familiarity. It was amazing how the two blended so simply and so complexly all at the same time.
The voices of the people she loved drifted in and out of her consciousness like memories flickering across her mind. There were other voices too, the voices of the people who weren’t there, whispering inside her heart. Soon, in less than a week, she would be re-united with a best friend she hadn’t seen in what felt like ages. The people in her life, oh the people. It was beautiful. Over the past year they had taught her what real, deep, pain was. They had taught her joy, deep joy. She had learned from them rejection and acceptance. She had loved, and she had loved deeply. The wounds of friendship run deep. And there were no regrets. More than that, she had learned from them more of God’s character: the times they had loved unconditionally, the times they had been patient, the times they had gently led her back to His feet.
As the wind brushed her hair across her face, she realized just how much had changed. The insecurities of youth had drifted away and been replaced by the trust of womanhood. The pain had shaped her into a much deeper feeler, the joy had opened her soul. The triumphs had given her courage to face the unknown with a known God and the failures had taught her perseverance.
The spiritual struggles had been great, but the triumphs much greater. She had not walked with God, she had raced, crawled, and been carried by Him. She had wrestled and she had prevailed. He had held her and He had taught her. In the moments when everything was black, He had shown her light. He had led in more amazing ways than her wildest dreams could have ever imagined. She had fallen in love with His greatness and had lost herself in His love. She chuckled. The time of doubt was behind her. She knew not what the future would be, only Who would be in her future.
She looked up and smiled. It was time. Time to move forward with God and with the dreams He had planted in her heart. Time to move forward with the blessings He had placed in her life. It was time. She took up the guitar and began to play. Everything had changed. Nothing had changed.
“I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”
“Onward, ever onward.”
It has been a blessing sharing part of my life with you all. I really wish there were a way for me to keep blogging, but alas, it can’t be! I hope you’ll continue on with your spiritual journeys and keep your eyes on Jesus! Lo, He comes quickly!
Fica forte en Deus!
Hello to my lovely readers!
I hope you are all having a lovely Sunday, and that your homework/whatever else is happening in your life is not preventing you from enjoying the beautiful Spring weather! My day has been fabulous, complete with a trip to the local park in Collegedale, where I got to sit by the river and bask in the wonderful creation that God blessed this world with. Spring is one of my favorite seasons; the whole world changes and blooms with the potential of new life.
When Spring has begun to…well, spring, I am reminded of how incredible our God is. As you all know, I have been feeling the struggle of keeping my relationship with God at the forefront of my life. I was going to keep this story for my last entry, but it is just too influential in my life at the moment to contain anymore. I promise the last entry will be all it should be, but I just have to share this story.
As I mentioned a few entries back, I made a visit home a few weeks ago with my lovely suitemate Laurel, one of the people I have the honor of calling a best friend here at SAU. I was in desperate need of a trip to see my family, especially my mom, who I share a special bond with. I have talked about my beautiful mom often in my entries, but the talks we had when I went home that weekend will forever be etched in my brain as a reminder of how well my mom knows her baby girl. For the majority of this semester I had been stressed out. I was tired, worried about money (Let’s face it; SAU is expensive!) and overall feeling very down. I was sad, and even though I was trying to live on the bright side, it just wasn’t working, and I was constantly feeling like I was barely keeping afloat in this crazy mess we call life. My mom had taken notice, even though I had tried my best to not let her in on just how down I was feeling. I mean, that’s my mom! I don’t want her to worry about me more than necessary! I thought I had been doing a pretty good job, until she sat me down on the Sabbath me and Laurel were at the house.
“Honey,” she said as she took my hand at our dining room table, “every time I talk to you, even when you tell me you’re okay, I can tell you’re not. You sound sad and alone and unhappy and stressed out. I know I’m your mom and you don’t want me to worry more than I have to….but it’s okay to tell me that you aren’t okay.”
I sat at the table, looking into the face of my mom. A lot of people don’t know this, but before God came into my life and changed my heart, I battled with depression at the age of 14. I hadn’t known that feeling again until this semester. My mom had watched me go from dark and brooding to the epitome of God’s light, and she could tell my light was fading. I hadn’t allowed myself to admit that I was everything but okay, but as I looked at the expression of pure concern on my mom’s face, my eyes filled with tears, and I finally allowed myself to admit it:
“You’re right, Mom. I’m not okay.”
She patted my hand gently and said, “Then let’s get you okay again.”
With the help of my family and praying for God to guide my path, I have made the decision to leave SAU. All the aspects as to why will be covered in my last entry, but for now I will leave it at the fact that SAU has not been able to bring me closer to God, but rather has drawn a wedge between us. I was raised in an atmosphere with the idea of “Don’t conform to molds; break them!” Unfortunately, SAU has not been able to give me that atmosphere. As a young, Christian woman, I strive to be different, so that God’s light can be seen wherever I go. While it pains me to leave the incredible friends I have made here at SAU, I cannot continue to allow myself to rely on a PLACE for my spiritual well-being; I am supposed to rely on God for that. For some, SAU is exactly what they need to keep them on the straight and narrow, but for me, I only need the following: God, my Bible, the people who love me unconditionally, and an atmosphere which challenges me every day. God calls us to be in the world, but not of the world. He wants us to challenge ourselves and our faith so we can become stronger in Him. I want to be challenged, and I’m just not challenged here.
I will leave it there for now. I am grateful for the time I have spent at SAU, so please don’t consider this entry a bash, as it is everything but that. If I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t have the newly-fueled fire in the very core of my being to go and shine my light for the Lord in the world.
Be on the lookout for my next and last entry, where I will further elaborate on my decision, as well as say my farewell to the people who have faithfully read my blog this year. Thank you all for your prayers. I firmly believe your prayers helped me come to this decision. Keep your heads up, guys! Only one more full week and then we are done! I can’t believe my Freshman year of college is almost over! I am so different than the girl who wrote my first entry at the beginning of this school year!
I want to end this entry with some song lyrics which speak to me every time I hear them. It’s a song by Meredith Andrews, whose beautifully written songs have gotten me through my darkest points this semester. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
“After all, You are constant. After all, You are only good. After all, You are sovereign. Not for a moment will you forsake me. Even in the dark. Even when it’s hard, You will never leave me!”
Until next week,
Recently, I was talking with my roommate about some of the biggest lessons we’ve learned during our first year of college. We just couldn’t believe the year is basically over…I feel like school started only three months ago. Where did the time go?
Well anyways, I realized that one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that I will always be a happier person if I put others before myself. Before coming here, I was so preoccupied with just fulfilling my own wants and needs. I mean, of course I still do that, but I’ve gained some more perspective. I was so used to my parents just doing everything for my siblings and me, so I had this whole “me, me, me” mentality. Whenever I was upset, I thought I was the center of the center of the world. But no, I can’t live my life thinking like that. Through various experiences I’ve had throughout the year, I’ve come to learn that getting wrapped up in myself is just selfish and immature. I will never feel completely whole if I concentrate only on my own well-being. Doing acts of service, genuinely asking others how they are, giving people a smile even when you’re having a rough day, are all ways we can exude some positivity into someone else’s life. In college, you’re immersed in a sea of new people—some of those people will become your new family here. The family I’ve made here at Southern teaches me new things every day, and I can’t wait to have more experiences in the coming years.
I spent my Easter weekend in Canada. To be more precise, I was in Richmond, a little town right outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. From Thursday to Sunday, I was fellowshipping and worshipping with the participants of ACTS For Christ 2104. ACTS For Christ is a youth organization that is affiliated with GYC; for simplicity’s sake, you can think of ACTS as a regional GYC conference, kind of like the GYC Southeast events that happen here on campus.
I had the privilege of being the evening speaker for the conference, which meant I was responsible for four messages in four nights. I found the speaking to be both a blessing and a challenge! The theme was “More than Conquerors,” based from Romans 8; my messages focused on the gospel news and how what Jesus has done and is doing is the basis for why Romans 8 paints a triumphant, new life for Christians. My first two messages were ok, but the last two messages seemed to have a much more dynamic impact on my audience so at least I got to go out on a high note! Let me tell you though, preaching about theology is much harder than preaching on parables or bibliographies.
As is the case with most of the events I go to, I will remember most warmly all the interpersonal conversations I had during the four days. I was blessed to be able to meet up with old friends as well as make new friends.
I couldn’t have planned a better Easter weekend! Thank You Lord, because if You had not saved and risen a long time ago, I would not be a Christian, I would not have had a reason to go to Canada, and I would not have had the blessing of Christian fellowship.
Now, it’s time to get caught up with homework! I only have a couple days to make up three days of missed work and material! Wish me luck!