The Future is Now

The future will be better.

That’s what I tell myself when school feels irrelevant, or life seems dull and unchanging, or I seem dull and unchanging.

In high school, I wanted to go far away to college to gain independence and maturity, to finally start the rest of my life.

In varying degrees, I had the same expectations when I transferred to the Upland campus, when I interned at Focus on the Family, and each time I changed my major. Now, YWAM is that grand, life-changing future that’s surely better than the monotonies and the stresses and the insecurities of the present.

But I don’t want to pin all my hopes and dreams on any one future experience, be it an internship, a spring break trip, or even a five-month DTS. I’m very much looking forward to these things, it’s true, but I don’t want to just slide my way through the weeks and months in between, rushing through them as fast as I can to reach the next high that much sooner.

My DTS could be more than a year away. That’s 5% of my life. That’s significant. That’s too much time to just sit out.

So much can happen in these months, so many opportunities, if I widen my vision a little and expect God to do big things.

I’m notorious for starting my end-of-semester countdown early, and for Excel-ing my next-semester schedule months in advance.

But life isn’t about just getting to the next thing.

It’s not about skipping past all the parts that seem boring or hard (a la Joey and his life clock :)). I don’t have to wait until college is over to start my adventure with God; He can work just as well in small-town Indiana as He can overseas. “Familiar” doesn’t have to equal “boring.”

Don’t just dream about the future. Live in the present.

Healing Begins (and other songs)

This is my “short list” of encouraging, inspiring Christian songs. Some of them fall clearly in the “worship music” bracket; others are more Christian contemporary or something else. They may go about it in different ways, but they all bring me to a more worshipful mindset, and remind me of my need for God.

  1. City on our Knees (Tobymac) “If you gotta start somewhere why not here? If you gotta start sometime why not now? If we gotta start somewhere I say here. If we gotta start sometime I say now. Through the fog there is hope in the distance, from cathedrals to third world missions. Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave.”
  2. Healing Begins (Tenth Avenue North) “There’s freedom waiting in the sound, when you let your walls fall to the ground … This is where the healing begins. This is where the healing starts. When you come to where you’re broken within, the light meets the dark.”
  3. Get Back Up (Tobymac) “There’s always scars when you fall that far. … You may be knocked down, but not out forever.”
  4. I Will Go (Starfield) “Let this life be used for change. I wanna live for You, go where you lead me, I wanna follow you.”
  5. Sound of Melodies (Leeland) “Can you hear the sound of melodies, oh, the sound of melodies, rising up to You, rising up to You, God.”
  6. Made to Love (Tobymac) “Anything, I would give up for You. Everything, I’d give it all away.”
  7. As it is in Heaven (Matt Maher) “Come and let Your glory fall. … I will sing, sing a new song to the Lord. … Every eye proclaim the mercy of Your name on earth as it is in heaven.”
  8. Beautiful Scars (Steven Curtis Chapman) “Turning the marks of our pain into beautiful scars.”
  9. My Will (dc Talk) “You are my shelter, all the strength that I need.”
  10. Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) (Chris Rice) “Weak and wounded sinner, lost and left to die. O, raise your head, for love is passing by. Come to Jesus … Come to Jesus … Come to Jesus and live!”
  11. Be Thou My Vision (Twila Paris) “Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart. High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”
  12. Sometimes by Step (Rich Mullins) “And on this road to righteousness, sometimes the climb can be so steep. I may falter in my steps, but never beyond Your reach.”
  13. Great Expectations (Steven Curtis Chapman) “Lord, I come with great expectations!”
  14. Next 5 Minutes (Steven Curtis Chapman) “I’m living the next 5 minutes like these are my last 5 minutes.”
  15. I Thank You Lord (Rebecca St. James) “I thank you Father for the gift of your Son. I thank You Jesus for the things you have done. I thank you Spirit for the peace that is here in my heart.”
  16. Be Still (Newsboys) “We’ve been running without a direction. We’re afraid to get there late. What we need is strength just to kneel down and wait.”
  17. Consuming Fire (Hillsong United) “Lord have your way with us.”
  18. When You Called My Name (Newsboys) “I slip into the night, then stumble towards the light. Wake up and try again. When you called my name, I didn’t know how far the calling went.”

~*~

What songs would you put on your list?

“For I do not do the good I want to do…

… but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19)

I just finished a wave of projects in most of my classes. Now I don’t have any major assignments due right away.

This is my danger zone, and not just because of the procrastination factor.

“I don’t hafta, so I don’t wanna” becomes my mantra during these lulls. I sleep in late, I park myself in front of my computer, I don’t do much of anything … especially not what I most want to do. It’s the worst in the summer, when I have week after week of unscheduledness. It’s not the stretching, satisfying route, but it’s the easiest and the safest.

We all need times of rest after periods of intense work, but it’s easy to drop too many things during that rest, and to wait too long to pick them back up … or to gravitate toward the wrong kinds of rest.

I think it’s pretty obvious what you should not drop during times of rest (or busyness too, for that matter): God.

The most effective way to grow and mature is not to look at all those areas of your life that you fall short in, but to walk with God.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy, and you can’t expect to jump from 0% to 100% just like that.

It’s a process, a day-by-day journey, and you will fall down sometimes. But falling down doesn’t equal defeat, a going back to the very beginning, video game style.

It’s spending that free hour wrapped up in God and not yourself. It’s learning to let God infiltrate your thoughts and conversations. It’s not letting doubt or fear grow uncontested. It’s praying without ceasing. It’s letting your spiritual life expand beyond “quiet time.” It’s not waiting for the perfect time, but coming as you are.

Exploring Doubt

I need to stay away from the IMDb message boards.

One minute, I’m on the page for the movie “End of the Spear”; the next, I’m reading “You Know You’re a Fundamentalist Christian When…”

Debates about religion and especially Christianity rage in message boards and the comments sections of articles, YouTube videos, blogs. And probably Facebook posts too, but I lead a sheltered Facebook life.

In these mostly anonymous arenas, atheists and agnostics whip out their arsenal of “reasons why Christianity is absurd.”

Those debates trouble me, and not just because I’m saddened for those who don’t understand who God is.

They trouble me because my arsenal of “reasons why Christianity is the answer to everything” is smaller, and I hold it with less confidence. In those moments of attack, I cling to it with shaking hands, hoping, hoping, that it doesn’t turn to dust in my weak arms.

I wish I were stronger. I wish I had all the answers to every question raised. I wish I knew more with my head. And I wish I knew more with my heart, to fill in the holes that head knowledge never could. I wish I could stand undisturbed when the arrows rain down around me.

Books like “Mere Christianity” and “Reason for the Hope Within” are faith-bolstering, encouraging, inspiring. But when I read the persuasive counterarguments, I remember that kernel of doubt in my heart.

It’s hard being in the minority. It’s hard knowing that there are so many people smarter than I am who reject Christianity.

This summer, I wrote an editorial about illegal immigration. It was an agonizing experience. I spent hours researching the issue, but made little progress in formulating an opinion.

How do you choose a side? You pick the one with the most evidence, of course. But how do you do that when both sides use facts and statistics and precedents to argue their case, and your knowledge of all those things — of the lengthy legal and historical documents, the raw data, the scientific experiments — is all based on the analyses and interpretations of biased intermediaries?

Yes, biased. We all bring our own biases to the table when examining evidence. Ultimately, though, we have to decide whose interpretations to trust, since we can’t all be experts in everything. But those experts have biases too. Science can only go so far in explaining how the world works. History can only go so far. And with these imperfect resources, our imperfect minds can only go so far as well.

In the end, it all comes down to faith and belief. Yes, I want to strengthen my intellectual “arsenal,” but my prayer is that what I wrote a few weeks ago would remain at the forefront of all my pursuits:

The Christian’s surest reason for belief is experiential knowledge of God, above and beyond all the intellectual reasons.

Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Dreaming in Red

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” —Luke 18:29-30

Before I went to bed a couple nights ago, I read Luke 18.

That night, I dreamed that I did a YWAM DTS (or something similar) this year. Or at least, I started one. I returned to college shortly after it began, troubled that I was putting off graduation still further. I didn’t want to wait another year to get my degree. YWAM could wait a couple months.

Someone in my dream confronted me about my reasons for leaving. Was I sure God didn’t want me to be there at that time? I hemmed and hawed about wanting to be done with college. After all, five years is already a long time.

I don’t remember exactly what the response was, but it was something that challenged me and made me uncomfortable … something that reminded me that God can and does interrupt our best-laid plans, and that that’s okay … and awesome.

It wasn’t until I woke up that I made the Luke 18:29-30 connection, and found it incredibly thought-provoking (and cool) … and consequently sat down at my computer to write down a slightly extended version of what you’re reading now.

Would I be willing to change my plans in response to a call from God? Would I be willing to forgo my spring break Colorado road trip, or stay in Indiana after I graduate, or do a DTS in the States, or even delay my last semester of college?

I’m not saying that God is calling me to do any of these things, but this dream definitely brought that Scripture home in a new way. Some of the above things are things I have long taken for granted: Of course I’m moving back west after I graduate. Of course I’m graduating in May 2011. Of course, of course, of course. I say I want to do whatever God calls me to do, but if I’m setting limitations, even small ones, on my future … am I?

DTS: The Spark

“I’ve discovered a heart for missions,” I wrote in my last blog. And it’s true, even though I don’t quite know what to do with it yet.

Growing up, mission trips intrigued me, but it never worked out for me to do one with my church. And throughout high school, I never worked up the courage to jump into one sponsored by a missions organization.

A couple spring breaks ago, though, I went on my first missions trip. It was a week-long jaunt to Mexico with the local Lions Club and a group from my school. We were there to meet a physical need (eyeglasses), not tell people about Jesus. A different sort of missions trip, but a good one.

Sometime during my college career, I decided that I would like to go on a non-school-related missions trip after I graduated, but beyond that, I didn’t give the idea much thought.

Until this year.

One of my friends did a DTS (Discipleship Training School) with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) earlier this year. These five-month missionary training schools are at the heart of YWAM’s mission: “to know God and to make Him known.”

I was reading my friend’s blogs about his DTS experience right around the time God was working on my heart. That sparked something in me. I wanted an experience like that — a time to focus completely on God with people who were doing the same thing. It sounded wonderful.

So, the  last couple months especially, I’ve started investigating DTS options … but because there are so many schools all over the world, it’s been overwhelming at times. I know that whichever DTS I do will be life-changing if I open my heart to what God is doing and let Him mold me, but I also want to go where God wants me. I don’t want to be a follower and just go somewhere because someone else went there and had a great experience … but I also don’t want to be too proud to follow if and when it’s God’s will.

But I have some time. I won’t be starting until late 2011 or early 2012.

With God, All Things Are Possible

When I started college four years ago, I expected the new place and the new circumstances to change me. I also thought I knew what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

My last blog described my recent academic upheavals. Now I want to write about the spiritual ones. 2010 has been a landmark year in so many ways, the most important of which revolve around my relationship with God. I’ve wanted to write about this topic, really write about it, ever since last spring, but back then I was too busy and over the summer I was too lazy. Now is the time.

On September 1, 2006, my first Friday as an undergraduate, I started a journal. Over the last four years, I’ve written over 100 pages in it, mostly in times of emotional highs and lows. This evening, I read through all 100 of those pages. It was a very revealing experience. The main thing I came away with was that I spent most of the first three-and-a-half years of college wanting to be closer to God, wanting to have a “faith of my own,” but never really doing anything about it other than writing in my journal every few weeks or months. And so I stagnated.

My mom would encourage me to read my Bible and pray. It seemed like a Sunday School answer to me then, and I virtually ignored the counsel, thinking cynically that it wouldn’t “do anything.”

And yet, I wanted to make my faith my own. I wanted to change and grow and be real with people. But as the years passed and my journal writing became more repetitious, I started to wonder if I would ever change.

I would get fixated on all the little things I didn’t like about myself. I could see cracks and holes and inadequacies in almost every area of my life. How could I possibly go from this chronically broken person to someone who was at least on the right trajectory?

I wanted a big, life-changing moment to jolt me out of my aimlessness and into a purposeful faith that was my own. Oh, there would be blips in the flatline that was my life – a challenging chapel speaker, an excellent sermon, a desperate prayer during a time of discouragement – but I wasn’t pursuing God, not really. I was pursuing an image, an end to insecurities, more friends, the approval of my peers and my professors. I sure didn’t like where I was at spiritually, but I didn’t do anything about it – namely, fix my eyes on Jesus.

That was then.

Last spring, I found my new major classes helpful and informative and interesting, but it was Contemporary Christian Belief that changed my life.

Contemporary Christian Belief (Contemp for short) is a class every student at Taylor has to take. But I was excited for the class, especially after I found out what we would be reading.

In a nutshell, it was a philosophy class that centered on apologetics – the defense of the Christian faith. Our main textbooks were two excellent books – The Reason for God by Tim Keller, and Reason for the Hope Within by a collaboration of Christian philosophers, edited by Michael J. Murray. I read many intellectual arguments for Christianity and probed many of the hard questions.

As much as these readings stirred my mind and my heart, what made the biggest difference in my life wasn’t an argument at all. It was something very simple, something that I had always been told but hadn’t really pursued.

I learned that the Christian’s surest reason for belief is experiential knowledge of God, above and beyond all the intellectual reasons. I learned that the more I seek after God, the more I pursue Him and desire to know Him, the more I will know Him. Here’s what I wrote in my journal on April 9:

Instead of worrying and thinking about all the things in your life you don’t like, and how to change them (or despair that they will never change), lean on God. Talk to Him about everything. Get to know Him. Essentially, that is what prayer and Bible reading are – a sincere heart seeking after God. Anyway, by knowing God, the burden of all those worrisome things is transferred to Him, and He will begin to mold me.

This realization began a gradual process of growth that was different from all the transient spiritual highs that had preceded it. Instead of focusing on changing myself, I was focusing on deepening my relationship with God … or at least starting to focus on deepening my relationship with God. Since then, I’ve sought to “live my life as a prayer,” to dig deep into the Word, to earnestly seek after what – and Who – really matters.

It hasn’t been overnight change. There is still so much room for growth. But now I know the secret. I’m trying to seek God not as a means to an end, but as an end in Himself. I have a lot to learn, but now, at long last, I know I’m facing the right direction.

Where am I now? I’m in the second month of what’s looking to be my best school year yet. (Okay, I should probably remove that “yet,” since this actually is my last year). I don’t know what I’m going to do in the long-term, but I’ve discovered a heart for missions and a discontent for living the typical suburban middle-class life with a 9-5 office job and all the trappings. I want to live for God wholeheartedly.

I have a lot of decisions coming up, some rather soon, but above and beyond future concerns, I’m so grateful for what God has done in my life this year. It’s amazing, knowing what can happen when you put God at the center of your life. It’s going to be quite the adventure.

The Learning Curve

… [“The bends in the road”] captures my outlook on life at this time.  I’m nearing the end of my college career, and as that clear, defined end draws closer, so new beginnings approach as well… beginnings undefined and unclear, yet full of promise… a series of ‘bends in the road.’

When I wrote that, almost a year ago now, I had no idea how fitting the title “the bends in the road” would be even before “the end of my college career.” Then, I looked forward to May 22, 2010 — graduation day — as the day I would round that first bend.

But I was wrong; it happened much sooner.

One late night last August, hours before flying back to Indiana, I happened to browse through the course requirements for the media communication major. It struck me that this was the major I’d been searching for, two years ago, when I bumbled into (and quickly out of) the computer science — new media major, and I mused about what could have been.

I became a history major as a sophomore because of interest and necessity. History was the safe choice and, thanks to a good U.S. history class, an attractive one too.  But over the next year and a half, it didn’t go much further than that. I liked my classes (some of them, at least), I learned things, I met professors who cared about us students and were passionate about what they did, but I didn’t have that passion.

And so I coasted through the rest of my sophomore and junior years, often feeling like I wasn’t learning anything. I was accruing some knowledge of history and foreign cultures, yes, but I didn’t feel as if I were learning anything that was preparing me for the real world. But it was too late to change my major again, so I approached my senior year with the mindset of just getting through it as quickly as possible and getting on to the real world.

But then, hunched over my laptop computer that late August night, what could have been became a very faint what if…?

It was so incredulous an idea, especially to someone like me who so anxiously wanted to be done with school, that I hardly took that whisper seriously. All the same, though, I couldn’t deny that media communication was much more closely aligned with my interests and skills than history or, really, any other major I had dabbled in.

That whisper soon grew louder, but it still wasn’t an easy decision. I didn’t want to watch my closest friends graduate and leave while I lingered on. I was afraid that my senioritis and procrastination and lack of motivation that had been steadily worsening each semester would staunchly follow the law of entropy and infect this new path.

It took months to decide, months of weighing pros and cons, of discussion, of prayer. But I’ve made my decision: to stay an extra year and graduate with a double major in media communication and history, plus a minor in creative writing. I’m so glad that my parents convinced me to take last summer’s internship for credit — a requirement for my new major!

Already, I’ve learned so much — namely, about media writing. Four months ago, I didn’t know there was such a thing as AP style. Now, I’ve worked as copy editor for the school newspaper and have written several articles. I don’t want to be a journalist, but learning these useful skills and gaining actual experience has helped make this semester one of my best yet, and I’m excited (and a little nervous) about my year of straight media communication classes coming up.

I still don’t know what I want to do after I graduate. I don’t know where the happy medium is between this new media writing and my old friend, creative writing, nor how that will jibe with next year’s inundation into video, audio and web. But my outlook on school has already changed so much, and I’m excited to learn, and to have another year to “redeem my time at Taylor” … time that was lost in apathy.

May 22, 2010 — nine days ago — I watched my old class graduate. It was a bittersweet experience, sitting in the audience writing congratulatory cards and watching instead of being one of the 470 strong bidding the school adieu. And yet, I know I’m supposed to be here one more year.

Last June, I anticipated “bends in the road,” but I also anticipated my college career coming to a “clear, defined end” in 2010. So much can change in a year. It makes me smile.

A Month in the Life

Writer’s note: I wrote 86% of this blog last weekend (no, 86% is not an arbitrary estimation), but only just got around to finishing and posting it.  Hence my decision to change the “published on” date from July 24 (today) to July 19.


I have two and a half weeks left in Colorado, and I’ve only blogged about the first day.  That’s not good.  What’s even worse is that first phrase, I have two and a half weeks left in Colorado.  I advised a fellow intern of mine not to start counting the days yet, but I’m guilty of doing it too.

I don’t want to say goodbye.  11 months ago, I traipsed around the Focus campus, camera in hand, photographing everything photographable in the parking lot.  That week was a mountaintop experience in every sense of the word, and I was loath to so suddenly trade the sights and sounds of Colorado for… Kansas.  And Indiana.

That’s all very close to how I feel now, with a few key differences.  Then, I was in the audience.  Now, I am behind the curtain, soaking up every drop I can and trying to create a few memorable ones of my own.  But even without the Odyssey aspect, I am going to miss Colorado Springs.  I have finally found my kindred spirits in the “introvert table” of interns, and will miss them… not to mention the great people in my department.  I have truly felt welcome here.

I still haven’t gotten over my wide-eyed awe that I’m actually here.  And yet, being in this unique position has given me a different perspective on Odyssey fandom.  Let’s see if I can explain.  There is so much we fans don’t know about the behind-the-scenes of Adventures in Odyssey.  Often, we can only speculate.  I love hearing others’ opinions on the show, but it bothers me when people make assumptions or judgments before they know the whole story.  Going from drawing board to radio, or to website, or to store shelf, isn’t as simple and cut-and-dried a process as some people seem to think.  There are more links in the chain than we know.  Adventures in Odyssey is entertainment-with-a-message, run by people who care about making the show the best it can be.   If only the people who get riled up over changes to the show would care as much for the people behind it… would pray for the actors and the staff (who, even if this is their dream job, have times of stress just like the rest of us), and would not join with the tabloids in assuming the worst.

Lizzie: Okay, now I’m going to step off my soapbox and switch gears.
Eugene: You just mixed your metaphors.
Lizzie: Oh, be quiet, Eugene.

A Day In The Life:

6:20: I drag myself out of bed.  I’m still not used to such early risings – they make it so I can’t remember my dreams, leaving me only with the sensation of having dreamed something very strange.   Last night, however, I dreamed out an entire LOST season 6 finale, and it was rather lame.  So maybe it’s best if I don’t remember my dreams.

7:30ish: Off to work!  Now that I no longer am picking up Laura, a fellow intern, it’s just a matter of time before my subconscious realizes that 7:30 isn’t cutting it close and I start leaving later.

8:00: Arrive in the Audio Drama department, drop my armful of stuff on my desk, and check my email.  If I had been writing this blog a week ago, I would’ve said “fast walk into the Audio Drama department a minute or two after 8,” but, thankfully, I’ve done a better job of being on time lately.

8:10: Meet in the war room, or in one of the sound designers’ studios for department devos, or, on Wednesdays, the glassed-in viewing room for the broadcast tapings in the Administration Building for departments devos (yeah, I know that room has a name, but I can’t remember what it is).  “Devos” sometimes consists of just talking over what we’ve been working on or how our personal lives are going, but whether we’re simply catching up with each other or learning spiritual truths from Steve Jobs, it’s always a great way to start the day.

8:45 (or later): 1, 2, 3, break!  Everyone returns to their cubicles or offices to commence the day’s work.  We interns in the Audio Drama/Book Publishing room have been playing musical cubicles almost since day 1, due to the particular demands of certain projects.  I’ve moved into cubicle #2, and while I enjoy having two computers, I won’t mind when the time comes to return to my first one, which is closer to the rest of the Odyssey team.

We usually have enough solo projects to occupy us, though sometimes Nathan pokes his head in to ask my opinion on something, or to talk about the latest draft of my episode ideas (*shudder*), or to come collect me for a podcast recording session.  But even when I’m in my cubicle all morning, I’m never bored. Tired sometimes, but not bored.

12:00: Lunchtime!  (or 11-1 on Wednesdays, when all the interns gather together to eat special food and watch an episode of the Truth Project (and by special, I mean non-cafeteria-but-ordered-out-food.))  Thursday is pizza day, but even when we’re deprived of that delicious delicacy, there’s usually something fairly good… for cafeteria food, at least.  When worse comes to worst, well, there’s always the ice cream machine, which overflows with some of the best soft serve ice cream I’ve ever tasted.  When it, um, works.

Other than the food itself, though, I also enjoy the lunch hour for its socializing aspects.  Even when the wind is blowing our food away or we’re wishing the wind would blow in some other food, it’s nice to take a break from work and chill with the other members of the “introvert table.”  Or everyone, depending on the day.  We’ve only eaten in Whit’s End once, but I’m eagerly anticipating our return – I still haven’t gone down the slide or recorded my own episode yet!  (Well, okay, I went down the slide last year.  But that was last year!)

1:00: Back to work!  Everyone, back to work!  We often wind up standing in a circle in the Chapelteria as our final moments of freedom drift away.  Once, someone wondered aloud how long we could pretend we were praying before people started to suspect we were just shirking work.  A long time, we decided.  But fortunately for Jonathan and me, we don’t dread going back to work.

The afternoon has about the same rate of unpredictable predictability as the morning, and…

5:00: …usually arrives much sooner than I’d expected.  Gather up my belongings (most of which remained untouched during the day) and waltz out to my car, the beloved Yipo.

6:00: I almost never arrive home before 6.  Then I have just four short hours of dinner, running, and/or bonding time with the ol’ computer before I have to go to bed and get ready to do it all over again the next day!

11:30: Well, okay, I should go to bed at 10, but I almost never do.

More Highlights:

LizzieG Meets ToOers

I got to meet a member of the Town of Odyssey website during my second week.  What could be better than sipping WodFamChocSods with a fellow fan?  Meeting Nathan Hoobler and Dave Arnold, of course!  So I introduced him to those venerable personages, and it was a memorable day.  Yes.

Rock Climbing

Unfortunately,  I have no pictures to document this momentous occasion, but I am proud to say that last week I went rock climbing for the first time ever, and climbed a 5.9 route!  For those of you who don’t know what that means, allow me to enlighten you: rock climbing with ropes and harnesses begins at 5.0.  Each percentage point higher indicates a route twice as hard as the one before it (i.e. 5.3 is twice as hard as a 5.2).  The hardest routes are 5.15.  And not only did I climb a 5.9+, but I even made it to the top completely unaided (of course, we won’t count the times Nathan told me from the ground where to step next)!

It was exhilarating to try something so new with a hint of danger, and not only try, but succeed!  I’m looking forward to going climbing again, though next time I plan to be armed with a camera… and an alert mind to catch all the brag-worthy facts about the rock in question.

Being Whit.  And Connie.

Last Saturday, Jonathan and I had the opportunity of dressing up in the Whit, Connie, and Sherman costumes and thereby adding an extra dose of funness to the Focus on the Family Yard Sale.  We walked around the parking lot and Whit’s End, hugging and high-fiving kids or, in the case of Connie, scaring them.  Just wearing the costumes was an adventure in itself, however – you don’t know what it’s like before you’ve experienced it for yourself.  The fat suits, the ice vests, the head fans, the head that wouldn’t stay upright, the lack of oxygen… good times, good times, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

“We were supposed to go to the zoo on Monday.” *tear*

I had this line stuck in my head all day. Happily, though, Jonathan, Kim, and Laura did not “die” and deprive me of a once-in-a-lifetime zoo experience.   And it was Saturday, not Monday.

The four of us went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and saw just about every animal there.  Highlights included feeding the giraffes giraffe crackers (they have very long tongues! (the giraffes, not the giraffe crackers)), watching the grizzly bear emerge from behind its rock hiding place, and having an Aslan-Prince-Caspian moment with a tiger – you remember when Lucy sees Aslan but no one else does?  Well, this tiger had a forested area in which to live, and I happened to glance over and see him standing among the grass and trees near a waterfall.  The lack of visible fencing and the fact that I was seeing him unexpectedly (and did I mention the forested environment and the waterfall?) reminded me of that moment in Prince Caspian.

We walked, we drove up to the Shrine of the Sun, we listened to Disney music, we saw a Hawaii license plate, we saved orangutans, we didn’t bring our teddy bears, we took pictures, we had a good day.

~*~

I have said more than once that I would love to live in Colorado.  Recently, however, I have been seriously considering moving here after I graduate.  I love Colorado – it’s a beautiful, activity-saturated state mostly second-to-none (c’mon, I gotta retain a little loyalty for my California), and would be a perfect place to start being an adult.

I’m not too excited to return to school in just a little over a month and greet my old enemies, Motivation Monger and Procrastination Phil, but I am grateful to have another year to ponder and plan for the future, and to spend too much time with friends before the inevitable parting.

So there you have it – past, present, and future.

“It’s A Place Everyone Oughtta See”

I just arrived in Colorado Springs, having been delayed in the Denver airport for almost two weeks due to a freak June snowstorm that kept me from communicating with the outside world!

Except, not.

I did pull an all-nighter that last night home. I never want to, but that’s what always seems to end up happening on the eve of long trips. Particularly the 30,000 foot variety. I would call it a semi-grueling first day, with a fully-functioning autopilot and a one-track mind that pled for sleep while preventing either nervousness or excitement from reigning. But I was glad to be there, there at the edge of the West, with the mountains so close and Odyssey-land less than 10 miles away!

The house I’m staying at is a very nice one, with a beautiful view of the city and the mountains from my bedroom window. My host family is nice too; they’re an elderly couple who apparently have been housing interns under their roof for quite a while. While eating dinner with them that first night, they mentioned past interns they’d hosted, including “the guy from Calgary, who worked with that radio drama, what was it called?”

My ears pricked up at this. “Was his name Corey?” I asked immediately.

It was, of course. I explained briefly how I knew him, much to their surprise and amazement, and promised to pass along their greetings.

That evening, I toiled over my three overflowing suitcases and managed to get everything stowed away, tucked in a corner, or stacked on a dresser, much to the soothing of my order-loving soul.  I fell asleep easily, despite the lack of air-conditioning.  I found out later that my room is one of the warmest in the house. Had I still been living in the red-hot heat of northern California, that would’ve been a cause for alarm.  Thankfully, though, Colorado’s temperatures aren’t quite so extreme, and I have pleasantly survived.

Tuesday began at 7 am.  For once, I overcame my all-too-pervasive  tardiness and arrived at the Focus headquarters right on time. The powers that be decided that my first hour would be best spent learning about the history and mission of Focus on the Family, so on the main tour I went, where I not only gave the correct answer to the one Odyssey trivia question (“How did Odyssey get its name?), but was apparently the first person in my tour guide’s experience to get the line word-for-word.

I saw the same push-pin-decorated maps, went up the same grand staircase, and heard the same facts that I was treated with last August. It really is a rather ordinary tour, but the ties that bind me to these unmistakable buildings, set in a rich landscape of green and mountain, inspire thrills in even the most commonplace of routines. Seeing that Chapelteria again, though empty and without the whispers of future treasures, brought back the beauty and the unquenchable joy of last year. If you’re perfectly still, you can hear the soft strains of that music, not easily forgotten, that thousands of eager hearts and fulfilled dreams couldn’t help but bring. It’s rich with memory… memory that I can almost touch. -my journal

After the tour, I finally met Ida Hoffman, the volunteer coordinator with whom I had communicated the most during and since the application process began back in January. The next step was getting my badge and officially becoming part of the system. It should’ve taken less than a minute to get my picture taken, but apparently someone had logged out of that particular program, and no one knew the password to get back in. Twenty minutes, four security guys, and a couple of phone calls later, I was finally outfitted with my new plastic “necklace.” But at least now we have the beginning of a joke! – “How many security guys does it take to take a picture?”

After filling out some paperwork and meeting a few more people, Nathan Hoobler arrived to escort me to the Audio Drama department which, for an Odyssey fan such as myself, was mere footsteps from heaven. The last time I had talked with Nathan had been when he autographed my Official Guide almost a year ago. Meeting him and some of the other “men behind the curtain” had been a surreal experience in 2008… but was the curtain really rising now to admit me – me! – an adoring fan?

My first act as an intern was to sit in on a meeting with Nathan, Dave Arnold, and Paul McCusker. Of course, I can’t relate much of what happened during that meeting, other than that I enjoyed Paul and Dave’s senses of humor (while simultaneously being awestruck by their very presence), and that I need to see Up at my earliest convenience.

Following the meeting, Nathan told me everything there is to know about everything… that is, as it related to what I would be doing this summer. They’re definitely going to keep me busy!

…and I can’t wait.

~*~

Keeping up with three separate written accounts at the same time isn’t an easy thing to do.  There’s the school-commissioned journal of my internship, the existence of which is still debatable; my sturdy-looking(-but-don’t-be-fooled-cuz-it’s-from-Wal-Mart) journal, which is currently clocking in at a hefty 16 pages for the first week; and this intangible-yet-attractive blog.  The goals of each are different enough that I can’t very well combine them into one:

  • School journal: Write about what I’ve learned and experienced, the integration of these “real world” experiences with what I’ve learned in school, my pros and cons related to this field, interpersonal challenges, and the ever-popular “integration of faith and learning.”
  • My journal: A no-holds-barred account of everything, including (but not limited to) the following: descriptions that wax eloquent, top secret information, and a fairly chronological telling of all that’s happened, particularly at work.
  • This blog: A less detail-oriented account than my journal, and with the classified stuff removed, capturing “the spirit of the internship, not the letter of the internship,” and complete with interestingly-told funny and memorable moments.

More soon!