5 Ways to Get Involved with Your School Ministry

Close-up Photography of Bible

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was starting a series on starting a ministry at your school. But before we get into those details, I want to address one thing: how to get involved if your school already has an existing ministry. If there’s a ministry at your school that’s going strong or even a fledgling group that’s just starting up, and you want to support it rather than trying to start your own, here’s how!

1. Attend the meetings consistently.

Start going to the meetings as consistently as you can, if you don’t already. This will show the leaders your commitment and dedication, and help you understand the ministry and what it stands for. Learn more about it: how did it get started? How long has it been around? How has it evolved and changed over the years?

2. Ask how you can get involved.

Once you’re more familiar with the ministry and you know you want to get involved, it’s as simple as this: mention to the leadership that you’re interested in helping it, and ask how you can get involved. Once they know you’re willing, opportunities will start to come your way.

Be willing to start small. Provide snacks, help set up and clean up, etc. even if you aren’t officially a leader yet. It’s the people who are constantly around and helping that the leaders will remember when they choose people to add to their team.

3. Find ways to really use your gifts to add to the ministry.

Figure out your unique strengths and skills as a leader, and then use those in conjunction with the other leaders’ differing strengths to create a strong team. Find the things that you’re really good at and pour yourself into doing those things for the ministry.

4. If there are things you don’t like about the ministry, take initiative and work to improve them.

This is always better than complaining! If, as you start to get more involved, you realize things about the ministry that you don’t like, don’t gossip or complain, and don’t give up hope. You can do something about it. Talk to the other leaders, or the adults involved, and make the changes that will make the ministry better.

5. Don’t be afraid to take on leadership responsibilities that challenge you or make you feel uncomfortable.

As you get more involved, step outside your comfort zone, and be willing to try new things and learn new skills. Worst-case scenario, it doesn’t work out, and you step back and let someone else try – or you might discover something you are good at that you never realized before. Use your leadership position as an opportunity for learning and growth.

Those are just a few ideas for getting involved with an existing ministry at your school. Next, we’ll get into the step-by-step for starting a ministry from scratch, from finding leaders to planning meetings to promoting your events. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are too!

love, grace

Favorites Roundup: January ’19

Snowy Forest

Featuring the snow we don’t have here in the sunny South…

A few things that brightened my days this January:

Favorite Books

Image result for the looking glass wars Having gone back to school this month, my reading plummeted a little, but this book has definitely been a highlight. I haven’t quite finished it, but the creative premise and exciting plot have me excited to reach the end!

Image result for 13 little blue envelopes This was a quick, light read with a very interesting premise and a lot more depth than might appear on the surface. I related to the main character a LOT, which always makes a book more special! (Content recommended for ages 16+)

Favorite TV Show

Image result for pushing daisies I just started Season 2 of this show, and I love it so very much! It’s a detective show that has a quirky, fantastical feeling to it, with lovable characters and lots of character development and interesting relationships. Highly recommend! (Content recommended for ages 15+)

Favorite Song

 

Have you read anything good this month? Do you read as much once school starts back up? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

P.S. A Peek Inside My Music Library (for a throwback look…anyone want an updated version?)

Why Are School Ministries Important? (+My Experience)

Five People Wearing Clothes Behind Gray Wall

Today, I’m announcing a new series that will continue off and on for the next few months: how to start a Christian club/ministry group at your school! This will be specifically more geared toward high school students, since that’s where I have experience, but can also apply to college. We’ll dig into discovering your mission, finding leaders, how to promote yourself, dealing with secular administrations, and more!

I was involved with a Christian club at my public high school for all four years, three of those as a leader. It was a pretty small club, although the size fluctuated back and forth a bit during my time there, and we met once a week to play games, do a Bible study, and pray together. As a leader, I was responsible for teaching the Bible study every so often, as well as a variety of other responsibilities that changed and increased as the years went by, finally being completely in charge in my senior year.

I have a lot of thoughts and experience in this area, and I can’t wait to share them with you! If you have questions as we go along, please share in the comments, as I’d love to do a question-and-answer post at the end.

Before we get started, I want to touch on one fundamental thing: why are these school ministries important? What is their purpose and place in a secular educational environment?

They can serve several different purposes. Christian clubs can be more outreach-focused, involved in serving and getting to know unbelievers and sharing the gospel with them. They can also be more fellowship-focused (which is what my experience was), reaching out to believers in the public school system and providing a place where they can meet other Christians and be encouraged and strengthened in their faith.

Either way, Christian clubs and ministries in public schools are a wonderful way to fulfill the Great Commission. They provide a beam of light in places that are often otherwise very dark, and their simple presence in a public school is a silent message to the world.

As a teenager, you might feel like there isn’t much you can do to share the gospel right now, especially in the loudness of today’s world. But getting involved with a ministry group at your school is a great way to begin! And if there isn’t already a group at your school, why not take a leap and start one yourself? There are almost always Christians hiding in the woodwork who will be willing to support you. Stop hiding, and become a presence in your school. The rest of this series will tell you how.

Does your school have a Christian ministry? If so, are you involved? If not, have you ever considered starting one? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

P.S. 4 Ways to Pray for Your School

Eight Things I Want to Do Before I Graduate

Person Holding A Green Plant

1. Write a letter to my senior year self. Open it when I graduate.

I love the idea of recording some of the thoughts and emotions from this first year of college, and then being able to compare them to where I am at the end. I have already felt so much growth happening and I feel like I’ll be in a totally different place when I graduate. Making a mental note that I should probably do this soon.

2. Share the gospel with someone.

Using words, specifically. Obviously after blogging for so long I’m very comfortable with sharing the gospel through writing, and I long ago embraced the idea of letting my life be a witness. But I spent high school using those things as excuses for not doing the thing that really scared me: talking to someone about the gospel, using literal words in a face-to-face conversation. Before college is over I want to conquer this fear.

3. Go on a date.

This, for me, counts as personal growth, which might seem weird. But for so long, guys terrified me, as did the idea of having a relationship. I’ve already grown so much in that area and have some great guy friends, but this is another step that I want to take before the end of college to help me continue growing. (This is something I can definitely write a whole post about if anyone’s interested!)

4. Visit my friends on the West Coast.

I’ve never been to the West Coast — and having college friends from Washington and California gives me the perfect excuse to go!

5. Go back to New York City.

Only one of my favorite places in the entire world…I’ve been three times, but two were day-trips, and I’ve never been able to plan my own itinerary. There’s so much there I want to see and do!

6. Travel internationally. (again)

My trip to Europe over the summer was one of the best experiences of my life. There are so many places I want to see, and so I want to make sure I travel out of the country at least one more time before the end of college.

7. Watch High School Musical.

I just…feel like I should have by now…

8. Participate in a musical at my school.

Another thing that terrifies me…but next time they do a musical with lots of dancing, I want to participate. I’ve never been able to do much theatre and I’ve always wanted to. Now is the time!

You probably noticed a theme on this list: many of these are things that scare me to death. But something that I learned throughout high school was that often, the things that scare me are the experiences that end up being the most valuable, memorable, and worthwhile. I don’t want to let fear get in the way of my college experience, and this list is one way of helping me conquer some of those things that hold me back.

Your turn! What are some things on your bucket list? What scares you, and how can you conquer those fears? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

P.S. Advice to My Freshman Self: Get Involved

How to Set Goals as a Christian

Three Red, Green, and Yellow Printer Papers

The new year is a common time to focus on goal setting. It’s a time when dreams, aspirations, and hopes for the future are on the minds of everyone, overflowing in endless resolutions and plans. I honestly love this time of year: I’m a planner at heart, and goal setting gives me so much joy. I love the atmosphere of a fresh start, of a clean slate, of new and exciting things waiting just around the bend.

Today I want to share a little bit about my goal planning process and what some of my goals are; but first, why set goals? And how do we do it from a Christian perspective?

Should Christians Set Goals?

Goals can be a good thing or a bad thing for the Christian. They can be a wonderful tool that we use to become closer to God and pursue His glory through our lives. Like anything, however, they can also become an idol, something that we use to try to live self-sufficiently rather than resting on God’s grace and sovereignty.

I have definitely pursued goals for all of the wrong reasons in the past: I’m a perfectionist, and I have a tendency to want to do everything all at once and by myself. My goals can so easily make me too busy for God, or cause me to compartmentalize God as one more item on my to-do list. But I’ve been growing into taking a more balanced, grace-based approach to goal setting.

One suggestion I can give for faith-based goal setting is to understand the “why” behind everything you are trying to accomplish. Are your goals motivated by a pursuit of God and His glory? Or by self-glorification and selfish motives? When you have the right motive, and you keep it in the front of your mind throughout the year, you will be sure that your goals are driven by a desire to honor God and that they will not drive you further away.

Additionally, when your goals are connected to the big picture of God’s glory, you will be much more likely to seek Him in everything you are doing, seeking His Spirit and His leading. Consequently, you will be much more likely to stay motivated, since you will be drawing on God’s great well of encouragement and strength to get out of bed each morning rather than trying to push yourself through life.

The most important way to honor God with your goals is to go through the planning process prayerfully, seeking what God has taught you in the last year and what His will for you is in the new year. It might not always be super clear, but seek His voice to the best of your ability, and have an open mind to be willing to switch gears in the middle of the year if the Holy Spirit leads you in a different direction. It’s okay to change your goals as you grow and change! You should be flexible and have an open mind, focusing on progress and not perfection.

How I Set Goals

For my goal setting, I’ve been using Powersheets.

This is only the second year I’ve used Image result for powersheetsthem, but I really love the approach they take. Cultivate What Matters is a Christian company, and I would definitely recommend checking out the Cultivate Blog, as well as the blog of Lara Casey, the founder. I have found of both these to be wonderful resources on goal setting from a Christian perspective, and even if you don’t get the Powersheets, there are tons of free resources as well!

The Powersheets take you through a series of journaling prompts to uncover your best goals for the year, help you plan action steps and figure out your “why” for each goal, and then include monthly journaling and trackers to help you remain focused throughout the year.

Some of the journaling prompts include:

  • A life evaluation where you score eight different areas of your life from 1-10
  • Good things, challenges, and lessons learned in the previous year
  • What you are saying “no” and “yes” to in the coming year (for me, staying in my comfort zone, seeking mountaintop moments, a fixed mindset vs. faithfulness in the small things, diligence over perfection, time in God’s presence)
  • What fires you up (i.e. the beach! looking at the stars! laughing really hard! a good book! people you love!)
  • Choosing a word for the year

Then you comb through all of your journaling so far, find the common threads, and turn those into goal ideas. Those goal ideas get grouped together under “goal buckets” that bring together the ones with common themes. By the end, you have anywhere from 1 to 10 big goals that you further break down and plan for in the year ahead. It’s a great process to uncover what really matters to you and stop setting arbitrary resolutions.

My Goals for The Year

To demonstrate how this practically works, here are just a few of my umbrellas for the year, along with explanations of my “why” and some of the smaller goals I’m working toward along the way.

Faith // I feel like I grew a lot in my faith last year, and I want to continue on that path of growth. This is the bedrock of my entire life, and none of my other goals will be worth anything unless I am connected to God and wholeheartedly pursuing Him first.

Breakdown of this category: do consistent daily devotions//invite God into my everyday life more and more//go to as many campus ministry events as possible

Career // I have three areas which I am pursuing seriously at this point in my life: English education, dance, and writing. These are the three areas where I feel gifted and called to pursue God’s glory, and I need to commit to diligent, day-by-day work if I’m ever going to get anywhere. Planting the seeds for a fruitful ministry through my career begins now.

Breakdown of this category: get good grades in my classes//keep a dance journal//really commit to each dance class//write blog posts consistently//work consistently on novel revisions

Finances // Money has always been something that I largely took for granted, felt guilty about, or just generally didn’t put much effort into. But God has given me money to use as a practical tool for his glory. This year, I want to create a good foundation for the way in which I save and spend money, creating habits now to support an adulthood of financial freedom. In the shorter term, I’d really like to buy a car sooner rather than later, and graduate college with as little debt as possible.

Breakdown of this category: get jobs on campus and in the summer//make and stick to a budget//do more journaling and planning to uncover a few other ways I can make progress (using this supplement)

Rest // There are many activities in my life that fill my soul and give me restoration and refreshment. But when I get busy, I tend to forget about those ideas and immediately go to things like social media and YouTube. I want to do more of the things that bring joy to the everyday, that keep me happy and filled on a daily basis.

Breakdown of this category: read 50 books//spend time outside daily//learn to identify constellations//play the piano weekly//make space for conversation, whether deep or ridiculous

These aren’t all of my goals, but a few of the main things I’m working toward in 2019. Hopefully this helped you gain some perspective on Christian goal setting, and I may revisit some of these at the end of the year to share things I learned and how I’m continuing to grow!

Do you set goals or resolutions in the new year? What is your process? Or do you hate resolutions and prefer to wing it? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

P.S. Three Habits to Cultivate Now

2018 Year in Review

Fireworks Display Above Trees

2018 is over.

This year has been a crazy ride: the completion of the college application process, the whirlwind of senior year events and grad parties and graduation itself, a two-week trip to Europe that was an incredible experience, moving into college, and completing my first semester at the college of my dreams.

On the blog, all of this change has meant sometimes spotty posts, and so I want to thank all of you so very much for sticking around and being patient with me. Now that I’ve gotten back into the groove of posting weekly, I want it to stay that way. I’m just settling in for my second semester, so we’ll see what happens as classes get going, but Saturday posts are definitely what I’m aiming for!

For now, here’s a look back at some 2018 highlights:

Most Popular Posts (By Pageviews)

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Should Christians Read Fiction?

We Need Higher-Quality Christian Art.

Transitions: Learning to Trust God Through College Applications

Why Christians Should Care About the Arts

Other Personal Favorite Posts

Why the Arts Are a Valid Career Path for Christians (are you noticing what the theme for this year was yet?)

Christian, It’s Okay to Dance.

Should We Accept Ourselves For Who We Are?

Favorite Books of 2018

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Image result for greenglass house

Image result for fawkes nadine brandes

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Favorite Movies of 2018

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Image result for the importance of being earnest movie

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Image result for little women 2018

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Coming in 2019

So…here’s the truth.

One of the biggest reasons I didn’t post as much during the fall is because I’m starting to feel really burnt out on blogging.

I feel like I don’t have anything to say anymore.

It used to be, everything would inspire me to write posts. I had a list of ideas a mile long. And sure, I still have enough ideas that I could fill the blog, but…they aren’t ideas I’m passionate about. They aren’t things that motivate me to write.

I’m in a kind of limbo right now with this blog. Blogging isn’t really the cool thing anymore, but I really enjoy it. But at this point I’ve been doing it for so long (more than four years!) that I feel like I’m exhausting my niche. I’ve changed a lot since I started this blog, and I’m not really sure what direction I want to take it in now.

I guess the main thing I’m saying is that there may be a lot of experimentation in 2019. Please, give me lots of feedback! Let me know which of my posts you like and don’t like as I play around and try different things.

And right now, I need your input. Give me requests and suggestions and questions! Tell me what you want me to focus on! More movie reviews? More bookish content? More Bible studies, cultural issues, practical posts? Lifestyle? Fashion?!

Basically, the sky is the limit for 2019, and I want to know how best to serve you! So share all the thoughts in the comments!

I hope you all had a wonderful 2018, and here’s to a full and adventurous 2019!

love, grace

Favorites Roundup: December ’18

White Calendar on White Surface

Here are some of the things that made my heart happy this December.

Favorite Books

Besides my two books of the year, here are a few other reads that I really enjoyed this month:

Image result for a thousand perfect notes Heartbreaking and beautiful. (Heavy material, recommended for ages 15+)

Image result for i'd rather be reading I read this little book in one plane ride. Besides just being super pretty to hold and look at, the essays inside are delightful and relatable. The perfect thing for some light winter reading.

Image result for austenland book This book was so. much. fun. And it wasn’t all fluff either; it had serious moments and wrestled with some things that I think many Austen fans will relate to! (Some content, recommended for ages 16+)

Favorite Movies

(Besides the cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies.)

Image result for ramona and beezus This movie surprised me with how good it was. It’s a fun, family-friendly film that’s high-quality and well-made, balancing several different storylines really well and having some very poignant and lovely messages.

Image result for home alone Watched this for the first time ever this Christmas season, and loved it, of course.

Favorite Articles/Blogs

Favorite Videos

Favorite Song

 

What music did you enjoy this Christmas? And what are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Book and Movie of the Year

Books on Bookshelves

About the Award

The True and Pure Book and Movie of the Year award is an unofficial, created-by-me award. I recognize what I consider the best book I read and the best movie I saw in the previous year, along with a runner-up in each category.

I make an effort to choose more modern books, since we can all agree that classics are classics for a reason, and my goal is to help you find amazing media that you might not have heard of or be unsure about. But the award in general is not limited to media that was released this year. I choose out of everything I read and watched in the course of the year, not only things that are brand-new.

You can find previous awards here:

2015

2016

2017

Book of the Year: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (2015)

Runner-Up: Greenglass House by Kate Milford (2014)

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About the winner: 

Do you believe in magic? Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. (from Goodreads)

If you loved The Night Circus, or if you have any kind of interest in magical circuses, or if you like children’s books that feel deep and meaningful and old-fashioned in the best way, Circus Mirandus is for you. The magical-circus atmosphere is lovely, and the story is wonderful. It doesn’t use magic as an excuse, presenting realities of life in a way that doesn’t deny their weight. But it does it in a childlike way, balancing innocence and hope with the pain.

I’ve been really enjoying children’s books lately, and it’s always a delight to find more recently-published books that have this kind of quality and depth. Unlike the runner-up, this one isn’t a Christmas read necessarily, but the magical feeling lends itself very well to this season. It would be a great family read-aloud, a great one to give to younger siblings, or something to read by yourself on a cozy winter day beside the light of the Christmas tree.

About the runner-up: 

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves. (from Goodreads)

This is another more recently-published children’s book that has an atmosphere very similar to The Mysterious Benedict Society. I love it because it has the innocent feeling of childhood, but yet is a complex and deeply meaningful story with real conflict. The characters are interesting and complex, the family dynamics between Milo and his parents are really enjoyable, and the plot has plenty of twists and turns and different elements that all weave together really nicely. It takes place leading up to Christmas, so it’s a great one for the season, or to read at any point during the winter, and would also make a great family or sibling read-aloud!

Movie of the Year: The Truman Show (1998)

Runner-Up: The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

Image result for the truman showImage result for the importance of being earnest

About the winner: 

In this movie, Truman is a man whose life is a fake one… The place he lives is in fact a big studio with hidden cameras everywhere, and all his friends and people around him, are actors who play their roles in the most popular TV-series in the world: The Truman Show. Truman thinks that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary life and has no idea about how he is exploited. Until one day… he finds out everything. Will he react? (from IMDb)

This is one of the most thought-provoking movies I’ve ever watched. It’s entertaining, definitely, with plenty of humor and an intriguing premise. But when you start to think harder about the premise, you realize all of the questions that the movie is really raising, and what a serious movie it really is. It leaves you searching, trying to put words to its themes, raising questions of ethics in media, of what reality TV does to our society, of consumerism and entertainment culture. And it does all of this in a carefully crafted story, in which no detail of cinematography, costuming, setting, etc. is overlooked, and in which we are equally made to laugh, cry, and think.

About the runner-up: 

Two young gentlemen living in 1890’s England use the same pseudonym (“Ernest”) on the sly, which is fine until they both fall in love with women using that name, which leads to a comedy of mistaken identities… (from IMDb)

I love this play, and the movie is an excellent adaptation in which everything was done pretty much exactly as I had imagined it. The whole story is an absolutely hilarious comedy of errors, making this probably the funniest period drama that exists. The actors are amazing as well: the cast features Colin Firth and Judi Dench. Overall, it’s just a quality movie that’s full of innocent fun, one that can be watched over and over, on rainy days and sick days, with other people or by yourself, a movie that, at least for me, will never get old.

Have you read/watched my selections? If so, did you like them as much as I did? What are your favorite books and movies of 2018? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Advent Reflections: Jesus the Forever King

forever king 1

Sometimes, this world can get really discouraging. Especially when it comes to politics. 

It seems like, much of the time, the people who are in control either don’t know what they are doing or don’t care. Things continue to go downhill. Our leaders spend more time arguing with each other than actually taking action on anything that matters.

It might feel like this is a new development, like if we could just go back to a better time, a simpler time, the government would be better. But the truth is, there have been issues with human governments since the very beginning. Even the ancient Israelites, God’s chosen nation, couldn’t get it right. String after string of bad kings, kings who forgot God, who disregarded his laws, who oppressed his people and led them in wrongdoing.

But this didn’t mean that God wasn’t with his people. See, back in the time of King David, Israel’s second king, he had made a promise.

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. ”

-2 Samuel 7:12-13

forever king 2At first glance, we might think this promise was referring to David’s son, Solomon. And in some ways, it is. Solomon had a flourishing kingdom, presiding over one of the most prosperous times in Israel’s history. He built a temple for God. But that’s where we run into a problem: Solomon’s throne didn’t last forever. It’s quite obvious, as we continue reading the Old Testament, that things deteriorated, and that eventually Israel would be captured and destroyed by foreign nations.

But what about God’s promise?

At the heart of it, this promise is reaching much farther into the future than it seems at first glance. This is, ultimately, the promise that we celebrate at Christmas: the promise of the Messiah, of Jesus come to earth. He came to earth and established his kingdom, and now is building a church of believers from all around the world, one that will last for eternity.

This is the promise that we inherit as Christians. Jesus is the Forever King. He was reigning at the side of God the Father in the beginning (John 1). He will reign in the eternity to come, when his kingdom is fully established and his people are fully gathered.

And he is reigning right now, in this moment, over everything that seems to be going wrong in this world. 

Because human rulers will always disappoint us. God may pour his Spirit out on one for a time, may bless us with wise government for a time, but thanks to the Fall the human spirit will so often be corrupted by power. If we place our hope in human governments, we are placing it in something that will always fail us. We are seeking security in the wrong place, when it has already been offered to us by Christ.

Because he reigns! He is ruling over the world now, and his rule will only get better as we enter into an eternity of his kingdom. This is the story of Christmas: Jesus was born to establish a kingdom. He lived to establish a kingdom. He died to establish a kingdom.

“And he shall reign forever and forever.”

love, grace

P.S. 4 Ways to Avoid Holiday Letdown

 

Transitions: Reflecting on First Semester

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Read the other posts in the Transitions series:

Learning to Trust God Through College Applications

Thoughts After Graduating

Moving In and Settling Down

Making Friends in College

How I Stay Organized

On Tuesday, I completed my first semester of college.

That’s weird for me to say. I still haven’t quite comprehended that I’ve moved into this season, especially because adults always talk about college as if it was the best time of their life.

And now that I’m there, I’m starting to understand why people talk about it like that. Because overall? My first semester was awesome. When I look back on the experience that I’ve been given and look forward to the experience that is to come, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I’ve been blessed in so many ways. The friendships that I’ve made, the opportunities my program offers, the community at my school, the late-night conversations about the things that really matter in life, the late-night conversations where we laugh so hard we can’t breathe, the assignments that feel like they have a purpose rather than being busywork, the roommate who is one of my best friends…

That’s not to say there weren’t challenges. I am so blessed to be studying English and dance, two things that I love, yet I still went through a stretch of time where it was very hard to stay motivated and get out of bed in the morning. Because of that, I’ve started to worry about the future: will I ever find something that makes me excited to get out of bed? Or will I spend my whole life looking forward to the next season as the time when I will finally find fulfillment? When my thoughts go down this path, and I start to second-guess all of my career plans, I’m learning to trust that God has a path planned for me, and that He will sustain me through the inevitable times when the daily grind weighs heavy.

Homesickness is certainly real, too, and there were times throughout the semester where I was overwhelmed by how much I wanted to see my family and my dog and go to my church. Honestly, church was one of the hardest things. For the first few weeks it was fun to visit new churches, but after a while it got really stressful to have to decide on a church and find a ride there every week. I knew it was time to decide and settle in when, one Saturday night, I reached a point where I would rather have stayed home than visited another new place. Thankfully, one church easily stood out as a place that could become home, and I’ve been going there with a few of my friends ever since. Even though it’s not the same as my home church, it’s been a wonderful home away from home. It’s the only church we visited that I felt really welcomed us (that’s harder to find than you would think, which is sad). The teaching is Biblical and solid, and even though I differ slightly with them on a few issues, the community matters far more to me.

Overall, I love my school. I’m blessed to go to a Christian school that is very strong in the arts, and both of those things have proved to be exactly what I need. First of all, being constantly surrounded by faith and worship has been vital for my spiritual growth. I didn’t realize how much I was missing by being at a public high school, and while I wouldn’t trade that experience, my faith was ready for this next step. Yes, maybe we’re in a bubble. But I’ve been outside of the bubble already, and being in a bubble is turning out to be a wonderful, healthy reprieve before I likely enter the public school system again as a teacher after college.

Being surrounded by the arts, too, is amazing. There are constant performances and events to go to, and being able to see art done in excellence and used for the glory of God is incredible (it’s something I’m pretty passionate about, as most of you probably know).

And truly, even if I did get a little tired of the daily grind by the end of the semester, I can already feel myself making so much progress. I’m glad that I have both English and dance: English comes much more easily to me, and dance forces me to push myself. I can already see my skills improving, and more importantly, my mindset has changed in some significant ways. There is a constant focus on reflection, goal setting, and self-awareness in my program, and I feel slow but sure growth happening in every area of my life.

I think that’s what most defines college: growth. It’s a time for you to figure out who you really are, on your own, without your family ties. A time to grasp your faith for yourself and let that inform your daily choices. A time to change and improve and become the person you will be for the rest of your life. And the best part? Most of this happens so naturally, and I’m so excited to see who I’ve become at the end of these four years.

That’s a wrap on first semester, and on this series, although I’m sure I’ll be posting more about college in the future! Let me know if that’s something you would like to see, and if so, what specifically I should write about. And if you’re in college, or applying to college, or graduated from college, share your experience in the comments! I’d love to hear.

love, grace