Monday, August 31, 2009

August 2009 Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed This Month:
  • All the Way Home by Mary Pride - This excellent book was published in 1989 and is full of practical ideas for a home-centered life. It is the sequel to The Way Home, and gives more real-life stories and suggestions for what to do at home. It covers marriage, pregnancy, birth, raising children, home education, cleaning and organization, church, ministry, and home business, among many other things. Because of some mature topics covered, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to people under 18, for it is definitely geared toward married folks. However, I really enjoyed it and look forward to one day putting into practice some of its material.
  • Jamie MacLeod: Highland Lass by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella - Trying to find her place in the world and fulfill her father's dreams, the orphanes Jamie is faced with many different circumstances in her young life. Full of mystery and lessons learned, Jamie finally finds rest in what she was meant to be: a woman of God. This sweet story was a delightful treat, one that kept me turning pages.
  • The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaffer - This book is full of "creative ideas for enriching everyday life." I really enjoyed its suggestions for finding beauty in the little things and creating a home pleasing for the family that lives there and the visitors that come. It began by pointing us to our Creator, from whom we get our creativity, and then explored many "hidden arts" that can be put into practice in the home, from music to the visual arts to food and interior decoration. Even if you're not an expert in any of these arts, you are encouraged to use what you can do to beautify your home and surroundings, thus encouraging those around you!
  • Ballet for Beginners by Nancy Draper & Margaret F. Atkinson – I borrowed this sweet book, published in 1951, from the library to help give inspiration and tips for teaching. It introduces ballet to the young beginner and is complete with explanations of the basic positions and moves and clear photographs. The dancers are fairly modestly attired compared to current days. Exercises complete with piano sheet music are included for the dancer to practice at home. The back gives brief biographies of famous dancers and synopsis of popular ballets.
  • Ballet for Beginners by Marie-Laure Medova - This was another library book borrowed to aid in teaching. Complete with full-color pictures, this book shows the basic ballet poses and steps for young beginners, as well as a few more complicated ones to practice at home. It gives good tips and things to remember, and it broke down each step in very understandable picture illustrations. The back also gave a brief history of ballet. Because of the more scantily-clad dancers, it’s not a book I would like to have on my shelf.
  • Magdalene by Angela Hunt - This novel was written about the Biblical Mary Magdalene, taking dramatic liberty to flesh out what her life could have been before she met Christ and was delivered from demons. With all of the different views about the woman Mary Magdalene could have been, I enjoyed the setting and characters in this story. It provided nice respite and escape as I battled a cold. It was such a great read, I finished it in 2 days!
  • The Glass Menagerie by Tennesse Williams - A memory play written in 1944, it gives a glimpse into the lives of three people – a mother and her crippled daughter and restless son – and their hidden aspirations, or lack thereof. The mother has high hopes for her children, but they always seem to disappoint her. What happens when a “gentleman caller” is introduced? Soon hopes are dashed once again, and we are left wondering.

    Currently Reading:
  • Worldliness by John Piper
  • Basic Principles of Classical Ballet by Agrippina Vaganova
  • The Wonderful World of Dance by Arnold L. Haskell
  • The Actor at Work by Robert Benedetti
  • PlayMaking: A Manual of Craftsmanship by William Archer
  • The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History by A. Kenneth Curtis, J. Stephen Lang, & Randy Peterson
  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  • The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter
  • Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
  • 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

When I sat down to put my books on this post, it hit me that I hadn't read anything this whole month! How that tragedy happened I don't know, but I'll do my best to make it doesn't occur again. =)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Memories of a Musical

Has it really been almost three weeks since the presentations of "The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover?" How time flies...

Things haven't really slowed down, although it's been nice to get a little more time at home. My dance classes start in 2 weeks, so I've been putting things away from the musical, doing fall cleaning, and planning and getting people registered for dance classes. Lydia and Elijah were both home briefly before heading off to college, and this week I began my own independent studies for continuing education. I came down with a fever/cold on Wednesday, and am trying to get over that. At least it's given me some time to read and rest!

I've finally uploaded pictures and slideshows from the musical. The Picasa Album has pictures in chronological order telling the basic story of the musical. This slideshow introduces the cast of characters, and played at the beginning of each presentaion. The other slideshow played at the end each presentation, and shares pictures from the reherasals and dress rehearsals. You can click the links to go to each album/slideshow, or go to The King's Courts' blog to read more about them.

Be sure to watch the slideshows, because the music in the background is played by Miriam Rebekah! She sweetly allowed me to use music from the CD recorded at her senior recital. One of the pieces was composed by her brother Caleb, and it is absolutely beautiful!

This musical was probably the most work of any that I've done, but it was definitely worth it. I learned a lot about delegation and was blessed by the many people that stepped up to help with joy. I could never have done it alone.

Each night the audience really seemed to enjoy it. In the past few weeks I have continued to be encouraged as I hear from different people blessed by it. God is so good! He has used this musical in ways beyond I could have imagined.

The 12 families involved were such a blessing to work with. God really brought everyone together to work in unity. From 7 different churches and 6 different cities, it was a blessing to see how God used everyone.


To top it all off, one of the families used their cake-decorating skills to make a cake decorated like the Jerusalem walls with scenes from the musical depticted with legos.

It was fun to work with this group on this fun and exciting musical. The memories are many and good. I look forward to future productions as God leads!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Going to The Rebelution Conference?

This Saturday, August 29th, The Rebelution's Do Hard Things Tour is coming to the Birmingham, AL area. I have been excited about this conference ever since the tour schedule was announced, and have grown more excited as the day approaches.

The Rebelution has helped shape my life in amazing ways as God has done more in my life than I could have imagined at such a "young" age. Meeting Alex and Brett and finding the newly-begun Rebelution blog when I was 15 years old was a huge encouragement and challenge to not wait until I was older to grow in God and be open to things He would use me to do. (You can read more about what I have written about the Rebelution and its message by clicking here.) Would I have ever had the courage to teach dance and continue directing musicals these past few years had it not been for the freeing message of The Rebelution? I don't know. I do thank God for His grace in how He brought me into contact with the site when He did.

When I began this post, I was going to urge all of you in the area to buy tickets for the conference this Saturday. However, a last glance at the page for the Birmingham conference alerted me that "Birmingham 2009 is sold out!"

It makes me all the more thankful that God allowed me to organize a group to go when He did.

I didn't want to organize a group. Not even a week had passed since the musical had gotten over, and I was feeling burned out, especially in the area of coordinating things. I happily purchased my ticket and looked forward to the refreshing and encouraging time that attending the conference would be. Another mom in our church got the conference into the Sunday morning announcements, and I was happy that word was getting out about this great opportunity.

However, I realized that sometimes people need someone at the head to inspire and get things organized. And as I looked around (and God nudged me in this direction), I realized that if I didn't do it, there weren't many others with the background or time to do so. Tremulously, I asked if I could make an announcement in church, and set about organizing a carpool to the conference. After all, with a driving time of over 2 hours to get to the conference, it would be good to save gas by riding together and enjoy great fellowship during the drive.

As I emailed everyone I knew that had teens, sharing a brief snapshot of how God has used The Rebelution in my life and encouraging them to attend the conference, I was encouraged by the response of people wanting to go. It helped that Alex and Brett happened to be on Focus on the Family that week, so I encouraged everyone to listen in.

One family asked if we could do a group registration, and since I had already registered, I really wanted them to do the coordinating of collecting money and registering everyone. However, as the central person that everyone knew, it soon became evident that I was the one to do this as well. I sent out emails and made many calls, and then registered a group of 25 people on Friday before the pre-registration price ended. It was good timing too, because if I had waited any longer, tickets would have been sold out!

All of this work has been worth it as I see how many families are going to be able to go. I have prayed about ways to encourage and reach teens that I know, and this is a great starting point to do so. I am praying that everyone's heart will be open to the message this Saturday.

The hours spent coordinating is worth it as I look at the great number that will be in attendance from our area. 25 of us are carpooling (we'll have to meet at 6 AM on Saturday morning - but it will be fun riding together!), but I know of a total of 41 people from our area that will be in attendance, including my dear friend and co-blogger Miriam!

Have you been to a Rebelution conference? Are you going to be at the Birmingham one? Leave a comment and share how the Rebelution has impacted your life. If you will be at this upcoming conference, let me know so that we can look for each other. I'm sure it will be a large crowd, but we may be able to meet up anyway!

If you've never heard of The Rebelution before this, I encourage you to check it out. Even if you're beyond the teenage years, their message is bound to be encouraging and challenging.

To God be the glory for the way He has used this message of "rebelling against low expectations" and inspired young people to "do hard things!"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Renewed

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing, and perfect will." - Romans 12:2

Friday, August 21, 2009

Advice for College Freshmen (Part 5)

(Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

Finally, we talk about one of the main parts of college: the academic work.

Plan Carefully
When you get your syllabuses at the beginning of each class, take the time while you still have fairly little homework to look over the course outline. Make note of big assignments and tests, and take the time to write them down now so that you don't forget! I compiled all of my assignments from each class into a chart, having a column for each subject and a row for each day, so that I could see at a glance what I needed to have done or turn in on each upcoming day.

My daily planner was also invaluable, to make sure that I got things done and got to things at the right time. At the beginning of each week I would write down all of the classes, appointments, and big tests/assignments I had due on each of their days. That way, I could see the night before what I had to plan for the next day, and I could keep track of things through the day. The planning helped a lot - I never missed a class or meeting, except for those rare planned ones, like going home for my sister's wedding!

I also really enjoy checking things off, so that was a motivation for me to get things done on my daily to-do list. For the assignment chart, I colored in the boxes as I completed the assignments, using a different color for each subject to make a rainbow. It's the little things that brighten your day, after all! =)

Experiment and come up with a plan and method of organizing that works for you. Everyone's different, so find one that you enjoy!

Work Ahead
Make it your goal to have all of your assignments done a day or two in advance. That way, if something unexpected comes up, you will have time to do it without stressing over things due the next day.

This is even more important for tests. It's really not helpful to wait until the night before to start studying. That's when you begin to lose sleep, and it's hard to catch up once you get into this cycle. I would try to start studying for each test a week before, or at least a few days before. That way, I could do a little review each day, and by the time the test rolled around I usually knew the material pretty confidently. There were still times I was studying up until the moment of, but the consistent review helped me really remember what I had to know. Also, by using long instead of short-term memory, you at least remembered some of the material after the test was over instead of forgetting it all! That, in turn, helps when finals rolled around.

Papers were another thing that I couldn't understand how others could wait to write until the night before they were due. I tried to get the first draft completed at least a few days before, so that I would have time to proofread and approach it from a different perspective on a new day. I also tried to have enough time set aside to really get into the writing, so I would often use weekends to write papers that were due the next week.

There will be a lot to do, but with consistent work, it doesn't have to be stressful! I actually found college schoolwork easier than that in high school...

Know Your Learning Style
There are quizzes you can take to help you determine whether you are more visual, auditory, or kinesthetic in the way you learn. Find out which one you are, and study in ways that help you remember best.

I'm a strong visual learner with a little bit of kinesthetic thrown in, so it helps me to write organized notes, make flash cards (and walk around while I review them - getting the movement in), or use the computer program my brother made. I study best in a quiet place where I can focus, but others who are more auditory may learn better in a group. Be careful of doing all of your studying in groups, however. I've found that often more talking gets down than actual studying, but it can be a fun time to spend with friends and get some work done as well. Just realize that you'll still have to get some intensive time in on your own.

Interact with Teachers
Your instructors are there to do the best job that they can to help you learn what you need to know. Don't be afraid of them - they often love to get to know you and help in whatever way they can! Ask questions when you don't understand something; they're usually long for interested students to ask questions instead of responding with blank stares. If you're confused, they can quickly help you figure things out instead of you trying to stress through it on their own.

Depending on where you are, teachers may even have you over to their house or interact via email or Facebook. They usually enjoy getting to know their students, so although it can be weird at first, enjoy your interactions with them.

Not every teacher will be your favorite, but don't spend time with friends complaining about how much you don't like certain ones. This seems to be a favorite pastime at times, and I am ashamed to say that I joined in a few times. If people start complaining about a certain teacher, try to turn the conversation around to point out that teacher's strengths or what you enjoy about the material.

Be Thankful!
You are at college to learn as much as you can. Be thankful for the opportunities that you have. It will make your outlook so much better if you commit to being thankful instead of complaining about the amount of homework you have.

Thank the teachers as well. They have to spend time not only teaching you in class but also preparing notes and lectures before hand, answering questions, and grading papers and tests. Thank them for their time - even if they weren't necessarily your favorite teacher - and consider writing quick thank-you notes to them at the end of the semester. You will be surprised at how much this encourages them!

I hope you've enjoyed this series and gotten some good ideas! Many of these suggestions are pretty basic, but hopefully they started you thinking. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it helps you start on the right path. As always, I welcome comments and further advice from others.

Enjoy this first semester!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Advice for College Freshmen (Part 4)

(Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

Sleep!
College students are notoriously sleep-deprived. With no one telling you that you need to go to bed, unless your college has a curfew, you can stay up and out all night if you would like. Don't - I beg you!

It was sad to see people wandering from class to class with their eyes glazed after a night of little sleep. Our bodies were made to need sleep - and it is hard to function the next day when you only get a few hours. Somehow others made it through on little sleep each night, but many would also get sick or have to crash on the weekends.

The department I was in, theatre, was also notorious for the amount of work to get down and the little time to do so. A friend, after asking how much sleep I usually got, exclaimed, "You must get the most sleep in the whole theatre department!" Another friend quickly chimed in, "Yes, but she also gets the most work done." While I doubt that was true, getting enough sleep does help you work more quickly and efficiently the next day. If you stay up to study the night before and then can't concentrate and have to fight to stay awake the whole of the next day, it would have been more beneficial in the long run to just go to sleep!

It is hard, I know! Sometimes there is so much homework that you have to stay up a little later. The second semester I was getting 5-6 hours of sleep per night at times. However, try not to make this a habit! It is hard to fit friends on top of school work, but don't sacrifice sleep and health as a result. You are there to learn, and it is hard to learn if you're groggy!

I found it helpful to stay on a pretty consistent schedule. I woke each morning at 6 AM, which allowed me to have devotions, eat a good breakfast, and fully wake up before the rush of classes. Knowing that I would be getting up early the next day helped motivate me to go to bed even when it would have been nice to hang out with friends. I did stay up talking a few nights, and sometimes I studied as needed or took a special outing with friends. But these were the exceptions, and I never had to pull an all-nighter. Most nights I tried to be in bed by 10 or 11 PM. It was worth it!

Rest
You can't work all of the time. Taking time to rest is something I still struggle with, but it is needed. In the midst of a busy day or a time of studying for a major test, your brain and body need time to relax. You may only have a few minutes to spare, but try to take enough breaks to prevent burnout.

Rest doesn't just mean sitting still and staring out into space. Especially if you've been in one place studying, a form of rest can mean moving - stretching, or taking a quick walk around campus, being refreshed in the outdoor air. Sometimes you do need to just sit still, and if it is relaxing for you, a few minutes spent reading a fun book or magazine can be a mental treat as well.

It's also helpful to plan breaks into your schedule. I knew of people who took Sundays off from studying, and it seemed helpful although I never did so completely. Going to a group meeting or spending time with friends can also be a good way to take a break and rest. My favorite way was to spend some time outside, walking, praying, reading, writing letters, or just sitting and enjoying the beauty. Time off will help you feel refreshed and ready to face another pile of books.

Exercise
Not only is it good for your health, exercise also increases blood flow to the brain which will help you in your studies! If you're feeling sleeping, doing some exercise is a great way to wake you up. Also, making sure that you consistently exercise is a good way to avoid the "freshman 15."

Exercise doesn't have to be stressful and hard - it can be fun! There are many ways to burn calories - taking walks, going for a run, dancing, playing ultimate frisbee, power-walking to each class - anything that gets you moving! I was blessed to be able to take dance and some theatre classes in which we moved a lot, thus earning college credit while getting some good exercise! I also enjoyed walks around the spacious campus.

Whatever your method, choose one or integrate a few to ensure that your joints and body stay healthy. You will have lasting benefits by making this a habit now!

Don't Drink the Coke!
Eating in a cafeteria is a great way to learn self-control. Now you have high-fat foods, sugary desserts, and soft-drinks available to you at each meal. These foods aren't good for your brain or health, not to mention your waistline.

There's a whole list of things you could avoid, but the one of the best things to go without is the soft drinks. Sugary and carbonated, they have no benefits, but are rather horrible for your teeth and bad for your body. They're also very addicting, so I decided to not even think about drinking them at each meal - to just go to the water or milk instead.

I also made it a point to not look at the desserts most days so as to not awaken my taste buds to want them. The occasional treat that I got was so much more a treat because it was rare!

The occasional bad-for-you food or drink won't kill you. But, like so many other things, you want to make it the exception rather than the habit. Learn to exercise self-control and find balance in these daily choices.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Advice for College Freshmen (Part 3)

(Read Part 1 and Part 2)

Find Friends
At college, you are surrounded by many people your own age. United by common interests and classes, you have the opportunity to make friends that could be close to you the rest of your life. Don't let your social life crowd out needed study time, but don't totally do without a social life either. You need companionship for encouragement and for needed breaks!

Some friends will be those that are merely superficial - you see each other in a certain class and share commonality there. Some you will spend a little more time with, united by a common major perhaps. There will be others that become close and truly dear to your heart. Be wise in your choice of friends, especially those that become close. As 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" Does this mean that you entirely avoid those that are not living a life sold out to the Lord? No - you are called to be salt and light, and your interactions with them may lead them to a better path. But you should be discerning about those that you choose to spend most of your time with, for they will influence you even if you don't realize it.

At college, people are nearly always around, so it's easy to just "hang out" whenever you are free. However, developing good friendships does require intentionality. If you are a planner and/or prefer quiet areas to study, like myself, you may not be around to be asked to go with people at a moment's notice for pizza, a movie, or a game. If you want to spend quality time with a certain person or a group, plan something and don't hesitate to invite people! If you wait around to be invited or for things to just happen, they often never do. Everyone will have a busy schedule, so plan times to be with friends. This is something that I wish I had done a little more.

Pray with and Encourage Friends
Don't let all of your time with friends be just hanging out and goofing off. Plan a Bible study or attend one together. Ask what your friends are facing and pray for and even with them. It can be awkward at first, but the benefits are great! You will grow together as you share your deepest needs.

Again, I wish I had done this more. However, I enjoyed going to Reformed University Fellowship on Tuesdays and Sunday Night Fellowship with friends for singing, prayer, and teaching. The second semester, my roommate and I also prayed together each night before bed. It was a wonderful time to reflect on the events of that day and look towards the next, and lift each other and our families, friends, and stresses up to the Lord. It brought good closure to each day.

Do little things for friends as well. Write them an encouraging note, put a card in their mail box or under their door, share treats, and give them plenty of smiles and encouraging words. God may use you to encourage them just when they need it most.

Enjoy Your Roommate
It can be hard to adjust to sharing a room with someone else, especially if you never met that person before you arrived at college. However, this is a great opportunity to have a built-in friend!

Just as with other friends, sometimes you have to be intentional to get to know your roommate. It won't always just happen because you share a room, especially if your schedules are completely opposite! Find time to just talk about your families, likes, and dislikes, and plan to meet for meals or go off campus for a special treat.

You don't have to be identical to your roommate to get along. But, if you are able to choose a roommate, do take into consideration how orderly you like your room, what you like to listen to or if you prefer it quiet, and when you prefer to go to bed and get up in the morning. It's the little things that help make your dorm a home!

If you have a roommate who is a complete opposite, don't gossip about her or groan about your rooming situation. Pray for her, be her friend no matter what, and honestly talk through how you would like things to be. If the two of you don't get along, you take the first step in building a friendship. You will be glad if you do!

Also realize that you don't have to keep room with your first roommate if things really don't work out. Most colleges allow you to switch even after the first semester if needed. My first roommate and I got along well, but we were very different in terms of schedules, classes, and groups of friends. She also wanted her own room, so the second semester I roomed with a friend I'd made, and it turned out to be one of the best arrangements!

Stay Connected to Home
I made some great friends at college, a few that I still regularly keep in contact with. However, as close as you get to people you live, eat, go to class, and hang out with, there is still nothing like your family and friends at home. Most of the friends at college will be somewhat temporary; you'll be with them at college and are united by common things there, but when you are apart, you realize you don't have much in common. Make sure that you keep your relationships around home strong so that you'll have people to go back to.

Over breaks you realize how quickly you can slip back into home life and how little contact you feel you need to have with those people at school that you talked to every day. This isn't to say that you should cut them off completely - you should take the time to keep up your friendships even when you're not together - but you should be aware that the most lasting ones are often ones you already have.

Even if you're away from home, we have great ways to stay in contact with those you left. Email, Facebook, phone calls, and good old-fashioned letters are just some of the way to keep up-to-date with each other. I sent and received so many letters while at college that the post office workers had memorized my name and box number! =)

Although the primary reason to attend college are for the academics (which we'll get to later!), you have the opportunity to make lasting friendships during this time, both at college and at home. You should work and study hard, but relationships are what will last and be most memorable.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Advice for College Freshmen (Part 2)

(Read part 1 first, if you haven't already)

Don't Be Someone you Aren't

College brings with it a new environment, new friends, new things to learn, and a place where you are known for who you are. Rarely does anyone there know your family, so you get to present yourself to people who have no idea who you are. It can be tempting to change your personality and try to be someone you really aren't, but it is not wise. It can be a good opportunity to try new things, and change is inevitable in new circumstances, but you should be careful to truly live as the person God created you to be.

Along the same lines, don't give up dreams that you have or change your opinions just because they're not in style or "politically correct." Don't be afraid to share your views - you may find other like-minded friends as a result! They may have just been too scared to say anything.

Don't Compromise
Hopefully you have spent the last years growing in your relationship with the Lord and have grown strong in His Word. Even if you haven't, now is the time to really pursue the Lord above all else and ask Him to show you His ways for your life. At college, whether at a "Christian" one or not, you will have opportunities to do things that you know aren't right. But, when "everyone" is doing something and it seems like such a little thing - and besides, no one back home would really know - it can be hard to stand fast in what you know you should do.

It is so important not to compromise, however. The little things you give in to and explain away lead to bigger things as you get desensitized. If your conscious bothers you and you know that you shouldn't do something, don't do it! Even if it doesn't make sense why it wouldn't be right, don't sear your conscience. God's Holy Spirit will lead with His gentle probings - attune your heart to His voice and follow as He leads. You won't regret it!

Don't Judge
As you stand fast in the convictions God has given you, it will be easy to judge those around you or feel superior when you see them doing things that you know aren't right. While there are definite lines of right and wrong, you shouldn't judge others and try to hold them accountable to your personal convictions. You will meet many people from different backgrounds, different family situations, different schooling experiences, different stages of their walk with the Lord, as well some non-Christians, and you will make friends with many of these people. It will be extremely hard to know what to do about some of the things they think are just fine, when you know that they're not right for you. However, pray for God's guidance and guard against pride.

It will be hard to stand firm and not compromise, but it will be even harder not to judge those that are doing exactly what you are standing against. God has given us grace to live life in many different ways, and we are not to demand of others that they do just as we do. However, in the situations that you know are wrong, you must ask for God to be your guide in what you should do, and ask that He fill you with His love towards others.

In many situations, it will not be the time nor place for you to say something. Sometimes just by living your life and purposing to glorify God in all that you do, others will notice. They will be drawn to you and your example, and you may cause them to think. They will be much more open if they come to you instead of you self-righteously going to them. You may be amazed at how many people are watching the way you live and who thank you for standing firm and yet showing God's love and encouraging them.

However, you also shouldn't be afraid to go and talk to someone should God lead you to do that. Sometimes, He will use you to say the very things that they need to hear. Listening to and obeying God is crucial in these situations.

Live a life of grace towards others, remembering that God has given you much grace in forgiving your sins and bringing you to where you are now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Advice for College Freshmen (Part 1)

Multiple books have been written on the subject of transitioning from high school to college, so I shall not try to cover all of the issues in this one series! However, as Miriam left for college, I realized that there were things I wanted to share with her about adjusting to college. And, since there are probably others of you going to college for the first time this year, I thought it might be helpful for you to read my thoughts as well.

I am no expert on this subject. I only went to college for 2 semesters, and I could be seen as a "failure" to some because I'm not going back. However, I learned many things through the college experience last year, and the lessons I learned and things I stuck to helped me do well. My hope is that at least some of this will be of help to you - whether you are in college or not.

Please don't take these as a legalistic set of rules that everyone must follow. Ask the Lord to guide you in His ways, and I pray that these will be an encouragement to start you on the right path.

Also, please note that I went to a Christian college away from home, so that naturally shapes the way I write and the experiences I had.

Make the Lord your Priority
This time is one of the best times in your life for growing in the Lord. When you are away from friends, family, and your home, the Lord is still right there with you. When you find yourself surrounded by everything that is new, our Savior is the only One who hasn't changed. When it seems that everyone you knew is far away and loneliness sets in, you must run to your loving Father, for He is the One Who is still close beside you, who will never leave or forsake you.

My time at college last year was one of the best times of spiritual growth. There were times when I longed for home and everyone there, but instead of giving into despair, I went to my Father for comfort. God taught me to trust Him like never before, through all of the ups and downs. Away from some of the distractions and busyness of home life, you have so much time to seek and learn about our Awesome God! Establish this practice from the beginning, for it will be one that you will want to follow in all of life. It will also give you the right mindset and attitude from which to do the other things you are called to.

Have Daily Devotions
I have blogged before about the importance of daily devotions. College life is a busy time, and it will sometimes be hard to fit in devotions on top of all of the other school work that you have to do. However, this should be your priority - even above getting other school work done. Taking time to tune your heart to the Lord and learn more about Him through His Word will give you such a better focus and attitude for what you have to do.

Instead of trying to fit in devotions if you happen to have extra time that day (you will find you rarely have "extra" time!), have a certain time set aside each day to have devotions, and stick to it. For me, it worked best to do it first thing in the morning, before breakfast and classes and all of the other crazy events of the day. Form this good habit now, but at the same time don't let it become a mindless habit! Apply yourself diligently and purpose to learn all that God has for you.

Don't loose heart if you miss a day either! Unexpected things will happen, and circumstances may be beyond your control. However, even if you miss your usual time (sleeping past your alarm, having an unexpected crisis, etc.), take at least a few minutes to sit down and tune your heart to the Lord. And if you miss a day, just pick up where you left off before. God is not a taskmaster who will punish you if you don't do a certain thing for a certain time every single day. We should seek Him out of love, and He is delighted to reveal Himself to those that earnestly seek Him.

Connect to a Local Church
Even if your college has great chapel every week or even every weekday, don't miss out on fellowship with a local church. Unless your college has an on-campus Sunday service that is mandatory to attend, you will be in the position to chose a church in the area. It's good to look around and find one that best suits you, but it's also important that you not be too picky. No church is perfect! What is important is that it teaches the Bible accurately and that its members are growing. Once you have found the right church (hopefully sooner rather than later), stick with it and attend each week! If you plan to be there for four years, you may even want to pray about joining the church while you are there.

It will be tempting to sleep in on Sunday mornings, especially when you have late nights and busy days. However, don't get in the habit of sleeping till noon and missing the Sunday service! Even when I had to stay up until 2 AM to help with strike after a theatre show, I still got up to go to church the next day. It was so refreshing and far better for me than sleep. Worship, prayer, and solid Bible-teaching are nourishment that we crucially need!

Just getting off campus and seeing families after spending all week with those mainly your own age is a blessing! It keeps you mindful of what is going on outside of the college bubble. Depending on your schedule, you may not be able to go to church aside from Sunday mornings, but connect in ways as best you can. Depending on what's available, attend a good Sunday school, join a small group, get to know the others who attend, and invite other friends to go with you. Get to know families in the church as well. They may be more than happy to "adopt" you, and you will be blessed through their generosity and home-cooked food. These relationships may also turn out to be life-long ones that help shape and mature you.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and advice as well! To be continued...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Celebrating Three Years

Maidens of Worth...
Three years ago (plus 4 days, to be exact!), Maidens of Worth was launched. Our first posts on August 11th, 2006 shared about our friendship - our similarities and differences - and pictures of us growing together through the years. It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since our families first met each other, 8 years since we began to really have a close friendship, and 3 years since we began this blog together. So much has happened, so many memories have been made, and through it all, God has kept our friendship strong. There still more to learn about each other even after all this time, and we continue to grow closer each day.

This last year has been full of changes, but though separated by miles, we continued to keep up-to-date with letters, emails, and occasional phone calls. After a wonderful summer together, the miles will again separate us, although in a sense we've traded places. This time, it will be Miriam headed off to college while Anna stays at home. However, both of us are excited about the year ahead, though our circumstances are quite different.

Though we have and will continue to make new friends, we will always share a special bond. No matter where life takes us, we look forward to being together, either in person or in thoughts and prayers.

This blog has continued to grow, although posting has slowed down in the past few months. It is our hope to write more regularly in the coming year, but we can't be sure of what the future will bring. There will be many things demanding our attention - college assignments and music practice for Miriam, teaching, directing, and studying from home for Anna - and real life ultimately takes precedence over the virtual.

Our thirst for writing and sharing hasn't diminished, however. Sometimes it takes a while to put things into words, and we're also learning that not everything is worth being shared. We pray that what we have written has been a blessing, however, and we have enjoyed connecting with readers throughout the years. It has been an encouragement to hear from people all over the world!


For our 3rd blogaversary, we are asking you each to share one of your favorite quotes. It can be a Bible verse, a line from a song, a saying you like, or a quote that has been meaningful for you. Please include the reference or author if possible.

Of course, if you wish to include in your comment how you found our blog, how long you've been reading it, favorite posts, and/or topics you would like to see us address, we would enjoy your doing so!

Please comment, whether you do frequently or never comment at all. It's fun to put a name to those reading our blog! With Google Analytics reporting an average of 216 visitors per day, we are curious as to who you all are! =)

We look forward to continuing our journeys through the year ahead, living life as unto the Lord, purposing to be maidens of true worth in His sight, and sharing our thoughts and experiences. Each day is a new adventure!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A New School Year

I'm watching all my siblings work on their schoolwork and can't wait till mine starts. Yes, I actually like school and I'm especially excited about this year. This Sunday I leave for Judson College in Marion, Alabama.

Last summer I was pretty sure that I would not be going to college. I was trying to decide what to do after high school and though I knew I wanted to pursue furthur music education, I didn't know how or where. Though she was allowing me to choose, my mother kept trying to get me to at least look at a couple of local colleges. I looked and didn't really like either one. All this time, I'm asking God "what am I supposed to be doing?" and "do I even need to be looking for a school?". All this time, my choir director had been working on me and trying to convince me to look at Judson and I had been politely (I hope!) brushing it off.

Finally, she and my mother persuaded me to go audition for a music scholarship. At first I was still wary and unsure but as the audition day got closer and I wasn't nervous (unusual!), I began to think that this might be God's green light. The peace I began to feel, especially after the audition results, was amazing. After seeing the school and meeting some of the people, I just knew that this was where God wanted me, at least for now.

I would appreciate and covet everyone's prayers as I start my first year away from home. I'm looking forward to a good experience and will do my best to keep everyone updated. I know that my posting record isn't exactly up-to-par. =)

God bless y'all!

Miriam Rebekah

Saturday, August 08, 2009

God is so Faithful!

Last night was a great opening night for "The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover." Many people came, and they all seemed to enjoy the musical a lot!

It has been an extremely busy production schedule, and last Tuesday, after the first dress rehearsal, I was a bit discouraged. Things just didn't seem to be coming together. I spent that night and the next day continuing to plan, but also praying. "God, it's in Your hands. I've done all I can; I've worked hard for Your glory. The outcome is up to You. Use it as You will."

I've struggled to trust through this production. It's easy for me to get down on myself, and I've realized that I do have some perfectionistic tendencies. Yet, I remembered what God did with the last 4 musicals I've directed, and, through some struggles and moments of woe, I have trusted Him to do it again. And He has been so faithful!

We went through the musical twice at Thursday's dress rehearsal, since it is only around 45 minutes in length going straight through. The cast did well the first time, and things went pretty smoothly, but they weren't really alive in their acting. I gave notes and encouraged, and the 2nd time through was a whole lot better. They really acted, and everything flowed well!

Last night was just as good. Sure, there were a few instances of nervous mess-ups, but they were all very minor. The cast acted really well, putting even more into it now that they had an audience.

I sat and watched and marveled at the faithfulness of God. He's done it again. He's brought together a musical that I could have never done in my own strength. He's given grace, and He even gave me wonderful rest last night after some trouble getting to sleep these last few weeks with all of the details in my head.

I look forward to these next two nights of presentations, excited to see what God will do again. Praise be to His glorious Name!

Monday, August 03, 2009

July 2009 Reading List

Sorry this is late! Other things (namely a certain musical that will be presented this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) has taken up most of my time on the computer!

Anna's Books

Completed this month:
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - Having not read fiction in a while, I treated myself to a lovely re-read of this book after seeing the new TV edition made by Masterpiece. This book was charming to read and provided nice relaxation as I enjoyed the tale of Elinor and Marianne once again.
  • The Provision by Clint Parks Goddard - This is a book I wouldn't recommend. I read it to the end, but the dialogue was somewhat stilted, the story far-fetched, and problems that seemed too easily resolved. It was written by someone involved in missions in Haiti, and the story is loosely set there. However, I didn't think it was worth the time to read!
  • Rocking the Roles by Robert Lewis and William Hendricks - This was a good book that examined in-depth the roles of husbands and wives in marriage. I had heard it recommended several times and was blessed to receive it as a gift. It dealt with the issues of today in a Biblical and thoughtful manner, and it's definitely given me things to prepare for as I look toward marriage one day. There were a few things I wasn't sure I agreed with 100%, but so it is with most books! This one will definitely require a more thoughtful re-read, especially when I'm closer to marriage one day.
  • With One Voice by Alex Chediak with Marni Chediak - Subtitled "Singleness, Dating, and Marriage to the Glory of God," this concise, easy-to-read book offers good perspective and advice on the subject of marriage to those who would like to be married one day. It examined the changes of cultures' attitude toward marriage, laid forth the normality of marriage (after all, most people will get married!), examined masculinity and feminity, the roles of husbands and wives, and gave good advice on making sure that you choose carefully and wisely.
  • Get Married by Candice Watters - This bold book, subtitled "what women can do to help it happen" was a breath of fresh air. Candice helps women see that marriage is a good and natural thing for women to want, and that it is something that most of us are called to. But, there is so much confusion over how much women are supposed to do about getting married. This book calls you to live as though you're planning (or intending) to marry, and to take steps towards it (surrounding yourself with a church community, letting friends know that you would like to marry, and praying boldly that God will bring it about) while still making sure that you don't usurp men's leadership in this area. I read it once and then read it again to take notes and really think through things presented. It's definitely a book I recommend to all unmarried ladies of marriageable age. It may even earn a blog post of its own one of these days...

Currently Reading:
  • 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
  • The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaffer

Miriam's Books

Completed this month:
  • The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy - This was a wonderful book! Anna let me borrow it, recommending I read it and I wasn't sorry. I kept wishing I had my own copy to mark in, though. =) Eric wastes no time getting to the heart of the problems in the Body. He is humorous but also serious. The truth he lays out may be uncomfortable to some, but that just means it needs to be read. This is definitely a must-add-to-my-library. =)

Currently Reading:

  • The Way Home by Mary Pride
  • Peace Like A River by Lief Enger

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Need Fabric for Costumes?

Buy sheets! I got some great sheets and curtains at thrift stores for $1-$2 each for the costumes we made for the upcoming musical. It's a much better deal than the price per yard that fabric has risen to these days.

They were great for making Biblical-looking tunics. I may even start making other clothes out of sheets, at such a great price... After all, if the fabric looks nice, no one needs to know that the item used to be a sheet! =)

Read more about the costume construction for "The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover."