Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday at Judson College

First, let me apologize for my inexcusable lack of posting since I came here. It's true I've been busy, but it's also easy to let this second-place to fun. I'm going to work on posting at least once a week, mostly to share pictures and notes of how my life here is going. I forgot about taking pictures until the day was almost over, but I did get some pictures of some buildings on campus. So, without further ado...

Jewett Hall

Welcome to my school, Judson College, in the small town of Marion, Alabama. It's Tuesday morning and I've just woken up at 6:45 am. I spend some time waking up (it's so hard these days!). Around 8 o'clock, I walk to the dining hall for breakfast, after which I work on homework until my make-up voice lesson at 10:30 am.

Since there will be a voice/piano recital for freshman students in the middle of November, my teacher wants me to start to get a feel for singing in the auditorium. I could sing in there all the time; it's amazing!

Now it's 11 o'clock and time for chapel. Today is hymn-sing chapel...the students get to pick out hymns to sing throughout the whole hour. Definitely my favorite chapel we've had this semester, so far.

The hockey field and gym

After lunch, I head over to the Round Room for my Old Testament Religion class. This is probably my favorite class I have this semester. Our teacher has been guiding us through the Old Testament with an insightful, but often humorous perspective. I know there were some good friends of mine who were concerned that the religion teacher (Mr. Bullard) would be slightly misguiding in his views, but I have to say that so far he has been an excellent teacher and a good person to come to if I have a question about something. So, we begin to read about Isaiah today. One of the neat things about this class is that Mr. Bullard asks the students to read the scripture out loud and I must say that Isaiah is one of the best books to read aloud.

After OT, I now head over to Tucker Hall for Music Theory with Dr. Ransom. I quickly finish and turn in the packet of homework that I've been working on the last two weeks, while praying that I got it all right. =) Actually, theory isn't that difficult, it's just time consuming.

With Theory over, I head to my dorm room for about half an hour and then come back to Tucker Hall to practice piano before my lesson at 5 pm. When my lesson is over, I go to the dining hall and enjoy supper with some friends. Then it's off to our evening choir practice (thank goodness, it will be changed next semester!). I'm so excited, we've started practicing Christmas music!

Choir practice ends at 7:45 pm, and I head back to the dorm. I change into some comfy clothes to relax in and start to work on some homework. For the next few hours I alternate between homework and talking to friends.

I was told that my night life would change once I got to college, and those people were correct. I go from a person who goes to bed at a normal hour to one who stays up late. I'm finally ready for bed a little earlier than usual, so I quickly do all that before-bedtime-stuff and jump in bed. I'm asleep before I have time to think...

The Judson College Seal in Jewett Hall

This post is a part of YLCF's A Peek into Your Day carnival. Click to links to read about the days of other ladies around the blogosphere!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday at Wisteria Pines

5:45 AM. Alarm clock sounds; I sleepily aim for the off switch and flip on the lamp. How can it already be time to get up? I spend five minutes trying to make my eyes stay open, then convince myself to get out of bed and brave the cold. It's a new day of a new week, and I'm trying to get back into routine.

It's fifteen minutes earlier than I'm used to getting up, but I managed this time for a week when I helped out with a family, so I figured I could make it a habit. It gives me more time to wake up and have quiet time in the morning.

A hot shower wakes me up and I settle back down for devotions, covered in my purple, blue, and green crocheted blanket. It's chillier than usual, for fall is definitely here - or almost, anyway. I'm told it's supposed to be warmer again tomorrow.

The Bible selections this morning are challenging. I'm reminded to "choose the way of truth" (Psalm 119:30) and continue to "don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example..." (1 Timothy 4:12). I also prepare for our family devotions. We're starting the book of Luke, with 5 questions to answer. I try to be creative for the "what is this chapter about," answering with a quite a few words that start with "B." Alliteration is a favorite of mine. :)

Around 7:15 AM I bundle up and prepare to face the cold. A morning walk along our road helps me wake up and gives me time to review verses. Currently I'm memorizing Romans 5-8.

I decide to wear shoes this morning, for it has gotten colder. I'll miss walking the road barefoot. Once I get outside however, it feels warmer than I thought it would be and my tennis shoes are cutting into the back of my heel. I slip them off and leave them by the side of the road. My feet rejoice in the freedom on one last barefoot walk! By the end of the 20 minute-walk, however, my feet are numb and I realize this should really be the last walk in bare feet this year.

Approaching our house in the valley, I smell smoke and see it spiraling its way out of the chimney. The first fire of the season; yes, fall has truly arrived. When I get back inside, my dad says the temperature outdoors is 48*. Hmm. No wonder my feet were cold!

As Dad finishes up the oatmeal (he's so kind to make it every morning!), I plan the menu for the week and do a few odds and ends. Soon, I sit down to a steaming, nourishing bowl and a chapter of Fifth Seal by Brock and Bodie Thoene. You've got to sneak those reading times in every chance you get! =)

After a quick straighten of my room, it's already 8:30 AM. Dad and Jubilee have gone to her horseback-riding lesson, so I settle down with a pile of books. I learn about 1700s church history, the case for intelligent design and review Memlock verses before the cold chases me out of my room and towards the wood stove. It's a bit warmer there as I study about the character a leader should have, muscle types, effective drama ministry, and classical ballet class planning.

Before I knew it, nearly three hours had passed. Time goes quickly when you're learning! I spend around 20 minutes online, reading email and researching some lighting options for the upcoming musical.

Soon, it was time to go. I gathered up the scripts and audition forms and stopped in the kitchen to warm-up leftover homemade pizza for lunch. I ate – er, gulped down a slice and then headed out the door with an apple, half a carrot, and some trail mix to eat in the car.

After stopping by the bank, I arrived at the church building and got ready for the auditions for “Beyond Bethlehem.” Tables and chairs were still set up for Sunday school, so we had a nice place to gather. 9 families showed up, and I had 19 children and teens audition. They all did well, and it was fun to see old friends and meet new ones.

The auditions were over by 2:30 PM, so I said goodbyes and locked up the building. I stopped by a new store to check out their dancewear section, and then drove the 20 minutes back home, sorting out in my head possibilities for the character roles. The female roles were the hardest to determine, for I had so many great girls to chose from!

It was hard to concentrate on other things when I had the question of who to pick for each character going through my head. I sorted forms and made lists, then went to work in the kitchen, praying all the while that God would give me wisdom in the selection. As I made Creamy Pumpkin Cookies for dad to bring to "The Truth Project" he leads at a friends' house on Mondays, I narrowed the list down. It took longer than usual to cook, for I kept taking breaks to scribble things and resort.

By the time Mom and Jubilee got home from her violin lesson, I had pretty much set the cast. They found me in the midst of making stir-fry, rice, and cornbread for supper, and I talked over choices with them while they put groceries away and Jubilee stirred a few things for me. We continued to talk about it through supper and even after, and I made a few slight adjustments. It helps to talk out your thoughts with others!

The evening passed quickly - too quickly. I typed up the cast list, edited a few dance songs, did some exercises and stretches and went over choreography, coming up with movements for another song.

I also began the process of contacting other men to play the parts of Simeon and the Wise Men, since I was lacking the males needed to fill the roles. There will be special rehearsals for them if they can do it, and if not, I'll need to contact others. Oh, for more guys that are willing and able to act!

After finishing choreography I glanced at my watch - 9 PM. Well, I guess it's time to head to bed - wait! My watch had stopped! It has a nasty habit of doing that recently... It's actually 9:30 PM! I begin typing this post and send out my accountability emails to my "Sisters of the Heart." We're on week 91 now!

By the time I crawl under the covers, it's pretty late. I read three short chapters in Fifth Seal to settle down, then switch off the lamp as my clock glows 10:32 PM.

It's a little hard to get to sleep, with all that is rolling over in my head about actors and the musical. But, God has been so faithful to bring things this far, and I know that He shall continue.

It's been a full day for us here at "Wisteria Pines," but I am glad to be at home in this valley. And this is only the beginning of the week to come...

This post is a part of YLCF's A Peek into Your Day carnival. Click to links to read about the days of other ladies around the blogosphere!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Peek into Your Day Carnival

YLCF Blog Carnival

Miriam and I will be participating in the "A Peek into Your Day" carnival hosted by Young Ladies Christian Fellowship. I'll be blogging about today, and Miriam will share about her day tomorrow. We'll link up with the others on Wednesday!

It has been fun to read the posts about a day in the life of other young ladies, and I look forward to reading more! My life may not be hugely interesting, but it does give an easy topic to blog about! Consider participating yourself, if you're interested. Posts like these give us the opportunity to see the diversity in the day-to-day life of ladies all around the world.

I'll be posting about my day tomorrow morning, so check back for it then. And, if you decide to participate, let us know! It would be fun to "meet" more readers of Maidens of Worth!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tired of Technology

We live in an amazing world. From the comfort of my room, I can connect with people all over the world. Turn on the computer, make sure the internet is working, and I'm on my way.

Technology is very useful. In fact, I can't imagine life without it. Email is particularly wonderful, helping me stay in touch with friends, pass on good articles, get needed info out to my students, and let people know about upcoming auditions or presentations. I use it often, sending anywhere from 4-20 emails and receiving an average of 10 or more per day. What would I do without it?

In the online world I have met many people, through blogs, websites, forums, and social networking sites. Some of these people, like my "twin" and the dear penpal I have yet to meet in person, have become some of my closest friends. Facebook records that I'm, in fact, friends with 234 people - something that shocked me, since I don't spend that much time on there! Yet, am I really that close to most of those people?

Who would I be without all of the thoughts, ideas, and encouragement I have gotten from reading online blog posts, articles, and webzines? I can't imagine... Reading the writings of people from many walks of life with many differing views has shaped who I am. It has caused me to think, challenged my preconceived ideas, and made me thankful for the unique way God has made each of us. Still, it's far too easy to skim through article after article online without actually applying them to my life.

We live in a technological age. A TV or two takes residence in nearly every house, there's always something new for music, it's now assumed that you have a cell phone (or something even fancier), and new gadgets are continually coming out. It's ironic that I'm posting these musings on a blog, for people around the world to read.

But I must admit, I'm a bit old-fashioned when it comes to technology. It takes a while for me to try something new. With things continually changing, I want to be sure it will actually stay around before I get connected to it. Plus, with the money many new things cost and the time it takes to learn how to operate them, often I just prefer using what I had before.

However, new advances aren't bad. Technology can be very useful, and I am very thankful for it! I rarely watch TV, but an occasional good movie is a fun way to relax. I've stubbornly refused to get an ipod after all of the money I've put into CDs and the fact that I find it easier to use CD players, but I can see the benefit of the other technology. Our family got cell phones a year and a half ago, and it has been wonderful to be able to call family for free, as well as friends when you want to talk for a while. When I'm out and about, it's helpful to be able to call home. Yet, I keep it plugged in in my room when I'm home, and I'm kind of glad that the reception down in our valley isn't that great, for it keeps me from using it a lot.

I use computer technology the most, and I'm very grateful for all of the good programs my brother has set me up with. However, it takes me longer to join each new site that comes around. My brother often talks about something for months before I'll finally try it out. Firefox, Gmail, Blogger, Facebook, Picasa, and now even Delicious I enjoy using, thanks to Elijah's persistence and patience. =) Though I appreciate the convenience of a laptop, when I got a computer, I opted for a regular desktop... I didn't want the temptation of carrying my computer even outside with me! But, for the future, I can see it's benefits...

Technology is amazingly wonderful, and it's a tool that can be very effective, in it's proper place. Yet, it's so readily available and so easily makes time seem to disappear, that I get tired of it. It doesn't help that the computer screen often seems to give me headaches.

I enjoy the emails, comments, e-cards, and writings on my "wall." Yet, there's still something about a personal letter showing up in the mailbox. I don't like the fact that all of the writing I do on the computer makes me tired of writing by the time I could sit down with a pen in hand. Letters to friends and my journal have suffered.

Staying in contact with friends and family all over the world through Facebook has wonderful benefits. Although I in no way keep up with the 234 people I'm "friends" with, I have been able to stay up-to-date with friends that I probably otherwise wouldn't. But there's something wrong when I have very little time to just be with friends that live close by. Why does it take weeks for us to actually arrange times to get togehter? Why is it "easier" to just stay connected through the internet, when you only live 15 minutes apart?

I am so thankful for the things I am able to read online. Yet, I dislike the fact that I read less books and magazines these days. In an online world everything is constantly changing; when I hold printed words in my hand, I am more likely to read it carefully and take it seriously.

Much of what I do involves the computer these days. Researching things for musicals, browsing for new music for dance, looking up dance costumes and the price of lighting equipment, making charts and forms... It would be so much harder to do this without the computer! Yet, I enjoy each Sunday when I take a break from the screen and don't turn the computer on at all. It's so refereshing to feel like I have time to play games with family, read, or enjoy friends, without feeling like I have stuff to catch up with online.

Recorded music is wonderfully uplifting, and very powerful. Yet, there's still nothing I enjoy quite so much as peaceful quiet. A walk along our road, drinking in God's beautiful creation and the stillness is one of my favorite, most refreshing things.

Am I antagonistic to technology? No. I am just trying to find ways to use it less, so that I can live real life more.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Highlight of Camping: Friends

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. The longer I live, the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and the wonder of the world." - John Burroughs

"A true friend sticks by us in our joys and sorrows. In good times and bad, we need friends who will pray for us, listen to us, and lend a comforting hand and an understanding ear when needed." - Beverly LaHaye

"A true friend is the gift of God, and... only He Who made hearts can unite them." - Robert South

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Days Go By...

Each day blends into the other, with many things to fill the time! It doesn't feel like it should already be October, but the slightly cooler weather tells me that fall is indeed here.

I haven't posted much recently, but I have been keeping busy! Each day I try to spend at least some time studying, as I'm currently in around 8 books on subjects ranging from dance to literature. It's been fun to study independently, but also means I have to have more self-discipline! Learning is fun, however, and I enjoy the time I can devote to it.

It's wonderful to be home among family. A few hours a week spent playing games helps relieve stress, and though I don't have time to cook as much as I like to, at least a few days a week are spent in the kitchen. My parents are leading Focus on the Family's "The Truth Project" this fall, and it's been fun to have people come to our home for that each Thursday. We also often invite people over on the weekends. After all, if the house is clean for Thursdays, why not have people over on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday - or all three?

Teaching and leading The King's Praise Ballet keeps me occupied. It is challenging and stressful at times, but a joy overall! I've been blessed with 36 students this fall, and teaching and planning 6 classes (2 on Tuesday and 4 on Thursday afternoons) keeps me on the go! I also lead a ladies class on Tuesday evenings call PraisExercise, combining cardio, dance movement, strength building exercises, and stretching for a fun but exhausting hour. Doing it all to Christian music keeps us worshiping even when our bodies cry in pain!

It's amazing how much time it takes to plan things and keep things organized behind the scenes. There is more that goes into teaching than the 7 1/2 hours I spend in class each week! But, God has given wisdom and the grace to get through it day by day.

My dad has been a huge blessing and help with the start up of classes. He got quotes and oversaw the installation of mirrors on one wall in the new fellowship hall at Fountain of Grace. They were pricey, but have been a huge benefit in teaching and allowing the students to correct their own movements. Dad also built portable barres for me to use, and Fountain of Grace has been so gracious in letting me use the beautiful, large room and store things in a closet between classes. You can see pictures of the barres and mirrors here.

I've also been busy preparing for another musical! "Beyond Bethlehem" will be presented this December, Lord willing. I have run into many setbacks and roadblocks with this one, and it's easy to get discouraged. However, it is amazing to watch God work each things out, and I am trusting Him to continue to do so!

My dance students will be presenting the songs in the musical, and auditions for acting parts will be at the end of this month. I wrote the script, and am currently in the process of revising it. On Wednesday I was able to get extremely helpful feedback and help with the editing process from a dad of my students and friend who has been involved and helped with all of the musicals I've directed. He's helping me take what I wrote, with all of the formal-sounding sentences (the way I write, for some reason!), and transform it into living characters we can relate to and find humor in, while still remaining true to the Biblical story.

This next week I'll be staying at the house of a family of church, helping to care for the six children while the parents go on a retreat. It will be a challenge, I'm sure, but the children are between the ages of 5 and 15, and very sweet. I look forward to spending time with them!

Then, this next weekend will be our semi-annual camping trip. Lydia, Elijah, and Miriam and John are all coming, and I can't wait to spend 3 days in God's beautiful creation with great friends and family!

So, that's a glimpse into my days. What are you currently up to?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

September 2009 Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed This Month:
I hope the number of books doesn't overwhelm you! I've been blessed to read and learn a lot this month. It's hard to fit everything into short reviews, so if you want to know more about any of the books, please don't hesitate to ask!
  • Worldliness edited by John Piper - Subtitled “resisting the seduction of a fallen world,” this small but powerful book issues a call for us to not drift down the path of conforming with the ungodly culture. I really appreciated its clear and bold message, tempered with grace and the emphasis that only the power of the cross of Christ can help us resist the world’s temptations. While it boldly talked about things we struggle with, it also covers legalism and how our obedience should spring from gratitude for the Gospel, not a list of do’s and don’ts. The last chapter gave practical ideas for loving the world as Christ would have us, and the appendixes had some useful articles. It is a great book that I highly recommend!
  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey -The many stories of lives changed through this financial plan back up the book's subtitle: “a proven plan for financial fitness.” Dave writes in an entertaining and engaging way, with great advice and one-liners that will cause you to think and really remember what he recommends. This book is one that anyone can understand, and it has left me more informed about the things I want to avoid and the principles I should practice. If you’re looking for a financial book, this is a great one to read. Even if, like me, you don’t need a total money makeover now, it will help you avoid needing one later!
  • The Wonderful World of Dance by Arnold L. Haskell - This book presents a brief history of dance of all forms, from the beginning of what we know. It was complete with photos, which were interesting, but there were quite a few shots I would have preferred not to see. I didn’t like the references to evolution as fact, or the emphasis on the magic different steps in dance were supposed to take, but it was interesting to read about many different old and new dance forms around the world. I am a big fan of dancing, but there are many dance forms that I do not believe are godly, so I can see why many people avoid it altogether. I am thankful for the opportunity to dance for the Lord!
  • The Actor at Work by Robert Benedetti - In order to become a better director, as well as actor (although I do it infrequently), I read and took notes on this book to become more versed in the art of acting. It was good to become more familiar with the acting lingo and think about all the different things that can be done to make a character truly come alive. I didn’t enjoy the frequent references to man as an evolved animal, or the new age-y exercises for the mind and body. However, I tried to be discerning as I read, taking the good and leaving the bad.
  • Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge - After hearing and reading conflicting views on this book, I decided to read it to see what it really said. I read it all the way through, and there were some passages that were quite true; they often accurately depict the typical women of today. However, many of the Scripture passages were taken out of context, and I was saddened by the passing, mocking comment about the Proverbs 31 woman (someone impossible to live up to, they say; but doesn’t God have it in the Bible for a reason?). Most of the role models and examples of women were taken from popular movies and novels while the Biblical examples of women they gave were rarely accurate, in my opinion. There were many sad stories of woman abused and neglected, and some of their suggestions may bring help to hurting hearts. However, the book as a whole was very self-oriented, encouraging us to focus on ourselves in ways that seem to diminish the power and glory of God. I could go on, but others I respect have reviewed the book in ways I agree with:
    Click the links for reviews on: Ladies Against Feminism, CBMW, and
  • The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter - After hearing enthusiastic reviews of books by Gene Statton-Porter, I decided to give one of them a try. I wasn’t disappointed! This story was well written, heartfelt, engaging, and a joy to read! It follows James MacFarlane, a wounded World War I veteran in his journey to health and wholeness. Some of the circumstances may seem far-fetched, but I truly enjoyed the story and the way trust and reliance on God was woven through it. It was fun to learn more about bees through the story and the amazing way God has created them. The mysteries the story holds will keep you guessing as you turn the pages, and yet I was delighted to find that what I had guessed was correct. A great classic book that will give you a wonderful treat!
  • The Duggars: 20 and Counting! by Michele and Jim Bob Duggar - This book was an interesting glimpse into the lives of one of the largest families in America. I enjoyed reading the story of how the parents met and how each child was added to their family, as they learned business lessons and outgrew houses. The way that they have trusted God and how He has provided is inspirational. I enjoyed the Q & A boxes, recipes, and great organizational tips that are throughout the book. The Duggars seem to be doing a great job raising their family to follow the Lord. Although some of their personal convictions may be different than ours, we can still have a lot to learn from them.
  • Basic Principles of Classical Ballet by Agrippina Vaganova - This book, written by the developer of the Russian ballet technique (Vaganova), thoroughly explains nearly all the aspects of ballet technique. To read and comprehend it, you need to know at least a little of the basics of ballet, but the book also explains things in an easy-to-understand way. It starts at the beginning and then has chapters dealing with different aspects of ballet, including battements, arms, basic poses, jumps, and turns. It also had many well-drawn and easy to understand illustrations, drawn of a sweet ballerina figure in a modest skirt! This is a book that I definitely recommend to any ballerina, and one that I hope to buy myself, since I was only borrowing it from the library.
  • Playmaking: A Manuel of Craftsmanship by William Archer - This book I never completed; I gave up after the 7th chapter, because it really wasn’t helpful for me in what I am writing/directing. I ran across the title in another book, and before buying it, decided to search online to see if I could it less expensively. To my delight, I found it as a free e-book download here. However, with its constant references to plays I haven’t read and the style of writing (it was originally published in 1912), I decided it just wasn’t worth my while to finish.
  • The 3 Simple Rules of the Prima Ballerina by Anita Leembruggen - This e-book is all about the basics of ballet and ways to improve. It explains in easy-to-understand language and illustrations many of the basic moves and stances, and has helpful tips on many things, from setting personal goals to being a helpful ballet mom to nutrition and training. It goes in-depth about each of the basic positions and poses of arms and legs and gives things to remember about class etiquette, different styles, and performing various steps. It also explained the major dance styles and gave the stories of the famous ballets.
    It gave me useful tips to remember, and broke things down in a great way for beginners. However, it was a bit pricey for being an e-book of only 207 pages and it wasn't quite as good as I had expected after reading all of the reviews. There were also quite a few grammar and punctuation errors that were distracting.
  • Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian - Subtitled “making a difference in the world by being different,” this book by one of the grandsons of Billy Graham urges us to look to God’s Word to find out how we should live, even if that means living in direct opposition to the ways of the culture. Divided into four parts, it explores the Call, the Commission, the Community, and the Charge. A lot of the material and urgings I had heard before in one way or another, so this wasn’t a book that radically changed my perspective. However, I enjoyed his calling us to live our life entirely for the Lord, even though it will be out of fashion.
  • Financial Peace Revisted by Dave Ramsey - This book on money is written in a fun and practical way, and is the updated version of the bestseller, Financial Peace. Its view of money and how to manage it so that it doesn’t manage you is very effective as the book gives practical advice on a variety of financial situations. It is a great book to read as I begin to earn a little more money, so that I can start managing my money wisely from the beginning. My next action step is to take time to make a working budget, for as the book says, “When we fail to plan, we plan to fail…”
Currently Reading:
  • The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History by A. Kenneth Curtis, J. Stephen Lang, & Randy Peterson
  • Music At Your Fingertips by Ruth Slenczynska
  • Drama Ministry by Steve Pederson
  • Dawin's Black Box by Michael J. Behe
  • 100 Lessons in Classical Ballet by Vera S. Kostrovitskaya
  • Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology by Karen Clippinger
  • Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  • Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy
  • My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chamber
  • For the Love of God Volume 1: A daily companion for discovering the riches of God's Word by D.A. Carson
Miriam's Books
Again, I have been so busy that I haven't read much of anything except textbooks. I don't even read all the blogs I used to. =( But here's my current list of books. =)

Currently Reading:
  • Biology textbook
  • Music Theory and Sight-Singing textbooks
  • The Bible (for personal devotions as well as OT Religion)

    Now, what have you been reading recently?

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Visit to Three Colleges (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

Despite the lack of sleep over the past three nights, I was eager to get on the road that Saturday morning as I headed toward Longview, Texas. The drive went smoothly and I enjoyed the lack of traffic during the first part of the day. After all, not too many people are driving at 6:45 AM on a Saturday morning!

It took 5 hours to get to LeTourneau College, and I battled tiredness part of the way, but between songs on the radio and a/c blowing on my face, I kept alert. I couldn't wait to see my brother!

I arrived just before lunch, and after dining in his high-class cafeteria (seriously, they have an amazing new eating area, with wonderfully good food!), we took a relaxing stop at a swing someone had hung from the limb of a great tree and then walked around campus. It was warm but breezy, so the walk was quite pleasant!

They also have walkways under great trees lining the lane. Hmm... Maybe this is the mark of a true college? ;)

The campus of LeTourneau University is quite beautiful, and was made even more so by the company of my dear brother. It was SO good to see him. It made the drive - and the money I had to pay for mileage - worth it.

They even had some huge playground equipment! Okay, so they were models of the amazing machines R.G. LeTourneau built, but they were fun to climb on!

We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening with a friend, shared a shake at Burger King, and then walked around campus again, this time in the cool darkness, talking late into the night. Elijah had arranged for me to stay on campus with a girl he knew, which made it nice and convenient!

The next day we celebrated Elijah's 21st birthday! After a great service at his church, we went out to eat for lunch together. I so enjoy going out with my brother!

Upon getting back to campus, we changed and then readied the goods for the party. I had made a cake before leaving and left it in the back of my trunk. It wasn't too worse for the wear... We picked out an ant or two, covered it all with frosting, and everyone enjoyed the delectable home-made goodness!

Three guys from LeTourneau drove with Elijah and I to Lake Gladewater, where we met two other friends. It was another beautiful day, perfect for spending time in the great outdoors! I enjoyed getting to know some of Elijah's friends, and it was rather interesting to hear the conversation of 4 engineers in the car together! =)

After eating cake and snacks, we played games. Apples to Apples (we had the Bible edition) is a fun game to play with a group, as it can bring up interesting subjects of conversation! It's also funny to see which adjectives everyone got! I tried my best to live up to my card of "scary" (failing pretty miserably) while Elijah protested that he wasn't cute, as his card said (I, as his sister, said that yes, of course he was)!

We made the short treck to this "waterfall" before leaving to drive back to campus. It was pretty, but not very large!

All-in-all, it was a wonderful visit with my brother! It was hard to leave on Monday morning, but I had to get back in time to teach the next day, so I said my goodbye around 8:30 AM and made the 10-hour drive home, full of treasured memories.