fear not

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

As the end of my sophomore year approaches, I am once again seized with fear. Question after question filters through my mind, “What will summer be like? Will I enjoy being in Norman taking classes or will I be lonely?What will next year be like? Will I lose friends? Will junior year be as great as sophomore year?”… on and on and on. Doubt creeps in and I begin to cling to every second of every day, not wanting this year to end. My heart was heavy and I felt like I was having to say goodbye to a loved one forever.

After being in a slump for the majority of the day, I decided to offer these fears and doubts to the Lord. I spent time in prayer, begging Him to filter my thoughts with His peace and promises. Later that afternoon, right before a final, my mind was flooded with scripture. The Holy Spirit brought verse after verse to mind. Each one for a purpose. He told me to lean not on my own understanding but allow the Shepherd to lead me beside quiet waters and restore my soul. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Sarabeth, I delight in you. I have not given you a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. In Me, you can run and not grow weary. I am the strength of your heart and your portion forever. Run to Me! Trust Me! I love you.

I felt an overwhelming, undefinable sense of peace wash over my body. It is one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. In that moment, I knew the Holy Spirit was overflowing within me, reminding me of my value and of His truth that is an anchor for my soul, firm and secure.

It was as if He was whispering, “Beloved. Be still. I am with you always. Lean into my embrace.”

I believe it is absolutely necessary to take time to mourn what you are leaving behind. As I reflected on this past school year, I was filled with gratitude toward the Lord and the people He placed in my life during this season. So many faces came to mind and my heart was filled with love for them and appreciation of their investment in my life. Countless memories, late night chats, ping pong tournaments, spike ball games, study sessions, and weekend trips came to mind. Rather than miss them and wish I could go back to those moments, I was content to remember how wonderful they were and how close they bonded me to my sweet friends. After every year, I am filled with mixed emotions. I have such a bittersweet relationship with change. But, this time is different. I can feel the Lord molding me and transforming my mind. Rather than wallowing in the fear of the unknown, He beckons me to approach the throne of grace and receive the peace that surpasses all understanding.

I am filled with excitement for all the Lord has planned for my life and for all the people who He will bring in and out of it. This Earth is filled with His wonder and I cannot wait to seek it out every day. Send me, Father! For wherever I go, You are there also.

uniquely loved

Oh how I miss the joy of leisure reading!

Growing up, I was an avid reader. I would find hidden and cozy spots in my home and would curl up and read for hours on end. When I got in trouble, instead of grounding me from watching TV or playing my Nintendo DS, my parents would take my books away.

I would read anything from Nancy Drew and Harry Potter to The Hiding Place and The Mark of the Lion Series. I love fantasy, romance and mystery novels that leave me hanging after each chapter, causing me to force my weary, drooping eyelids to stay open so I can finish just one more paragraph. When my favorite books would end, I would almost always cry, feeling as if I had just lost a very dear friend. With each final close of a book, it was as if I was saying goodbye to the characters I had become so fond of.

I find it fascinating that an author is able to weave such beautiful, intricate stories that bewitch you until you’ve read the last word. They can create such brilliant and moving novels that, even though it could be fiction, when something heartbreaking happens to a character you love, you grieve with them. You become emotionally invested and attached to someone you’ll never meet. When I finished the Harry Potter series, I was pathetically glum for days. At eleven years old, I felt like Harry, Ron and Hermione had become my best friends and it was hard to let them go. I think the reason I had become so attached to that book series was because of the creativity it sparked within me and feeling like I could relate, on some level, with each of them.

Just like singing, playing a musical instrument by ear, or being able to multiply large numbers within seconds, I truly believe their are many gifted authors that have a unique ability to put in words what I could never imagine. Since the Lord is abundantly creative, it seems no surprise that His children would be also. We are made in His image and likeness and therefore filled with His qualities.

As I have grown in my faith and in friendship with my Savior, I look at many things differently. When I was eleven, I never thought about the creativity of J. K. Rowling being a gift from the Lord. Now, when I read novels, I rejoice and laugh because I am loved by a creative, humorous, wonderful God who has blessed each of His children uniquely.

To share just a small portion of how incredibly creative God is, I have attached Genesis 5.

“From Adam to Noah
5 This is the written account of Adam’s family line.

When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind”[a] when they were created.

3 When Adam (man) had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth (appointed). 4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 5 Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.

6 When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father[b] of Enosh (mortal, frail, miserable). 7 After he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. 8 Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died.

9 When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan (sorrow, dirge, elegy). 10 After he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters. 11 Altogether, Enosh lived a total of 905 years, and then he died.

12 When Kenan had lived 70 years, he became the father of Mahalalel (Blessed God). 13 After he became the father of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and had other sons and daughters. 14 Altogether, Kenan lived a total of 910 years, and then he died.

15 When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he became the father of Jared. 16 After he became the father of Jared (shall come down), Mahalalel lived 830 years and had other sons and daughters. 17 Altogether, Mahalalel lived a total of 895 years, and then he died.

18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch (teaching). 19 After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died.

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah (His death shall bring). 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

25 When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. 26 After he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. 27 Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died.

28 When Lamech (the despairing) had lived 182 years, he had a son. 29 He named him Noah (comfort or rest) and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” 30 After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31 Altogether, Lamech lived a total of 777 years, and then he died.

32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.”

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.

I find this to be quite remarkable. That in the earliest chapters in Genesis, God had already laid out His plan of redemption for mankind. Hidden in the meaning of their names… now that is CREATIVE! Our God is truly and awesome God. How blessed am I to love and be loved by Him.

Psalm 147:5
“Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”

travel abroad fails

Today was filled with laughter and hilarious stories thanks to my fellow global engagement students. It’s global engagement day and I went to the study abroad story time session where I was able to hear from several students about their time abroad. Because it was very laid back and informal, many students shared travel mishaps or unexpected adventures.

Louise Kuehster studied abroad for entire semester in Dalian, China. While there, she decided to run a 50k. However, it was not your average 50k. For the majority of the run, it was so uphill that she would have to grab tree branches to try and pull herself up the path. All the while, trying to stay on the path and not fall to her death. Much of the run spent trying not to tumble and also searching for markers that would identify some type of path. The entire run took her 9 hours and sounds like the most exhausting adventure one would never want to do again.

Another fun story was when Andrew Moore studied abroad in Italy. One day, he and a group of friends went on a search for a secluded beach they had heard about. The trek to the beach ended up being way longer than expected (far over a mile). When they got to the end of a tunnel, they had to pay a random toll and then climb down a rope to then continue on toward the beach. When they finally reached the beach, it turned out to be a nude beach (lol). It wasn’t quite what they had expected but hilarious and fun nonetheless.

I really enjoyed getting to sit back and listen to other students share fun stories from when they have been abroad. It made me even more excited to study abroad in Australia this coming spring. (WOOO can’t wait). Hopefully I will come back with some entertaining stories to share :)

third time’s a charm

On February 9th, I was able to hear Sister Rosemary speak in the Oklahoma Memorial Union’s Meacham Auditorium for the third time since being a student at OU. Once again, I am overwhelmed at the amount of compassion this woman has for people. She is utterly selfless, spending all her time advocating for women and women’s education. Sixteen years ago, she co-founded Saint Monica Girls’ Tailoring School in Gulu, Uganda. At this school, disadvantaged women are taught various trades, how to sew, knit, cook, clean and many other skills so that they can become self-sufficient women who are able to provide for their children.

Education professor Sally Beach asked Sister Rosemary, “So what can the College of Education do for you?”. Sister replied, “You can help me start a school”. The College of Education is going to collaborate with Sister Rosemary in starting another school by creating lesson plans, teacher guides, and a curriculum that prepares students, many of whom speak little English, for the primary exit exam so they can continue their education.

5390676

For the third time, I am overwhelmed and humbled by Sister Rosemary. She is a visionary. She is purpose-driven. She is not focused on the materialist, secular things of this world. Her eyes are set on an elevated path. She is kingdom minded and eternity driven. Rather than invest in herself, she pours out all she has to offer into others. The Lord has many crowns for this honorable woman. I know she, being her humble self, will give those crowns right back to our Savior.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6: 19-20

Sister Rosemary is storing up treasures in heaven by investing in all of God’s children. I hope to be half the woman she is and am so thankful to have been able to hear such inspiring words from her yet again.
2849924

Watabarikiwa Sister Rosemary! Watabarikiwa!

 

King of Calypso

Last week, on Wednesday, February 8th, I was able to hear from the “King of Calypso” himself. Harry Belafonte, one of the most successful African-American pop stars in history has been a well-known human and political rights activist for numerous years. After receiving two incredibly sincere, heartfelt introductions, Belafonte took the stage. Rather than boast of his achievements and current goals, he simply told, with both humor and passion, his life story. Belafonte, who suffered from dyslexia, struggled as a teen to succeed academically. After dropping out of school, he became a janitor. This job, that seemed hopeless and grim, ended up changed the trajectory of Belafonte’s life forever.

589bd70133495.image

After completing his shift, rather than being given money, he was given two tickets to see a play. He attended the performance out of sheer curiosity, having had no former knowledge of theatre or the arts. The play was about black life, performed by black actors and written by a black playwright. He was enthralled by what he saw and realized afterwards that he had found his calling. Through hard work and determination, Belafonte was given opportunities to showcase his talent. As his fame increased, so did his platform. Because he longed to use the stage to impact people, he decided to learn multiple languages and begin to sing songs about social and human development for a variety of audiences.

Harry-Belafonte-with-guitar

         Sociology is the study of human behavior, society, and organizations and how they develop and function. This event applies to sociology because a brave man recognized his ability to change the social issues he did not agree with and knew were hurting and misrepresenting his culture. He recognized the value of human life and decided to use his power and access to help people who were being unfairly stereotyped and stigmatized. Belafonte has and continues to impact lives all over the world as he advocates for change.

harry_belafonte

pause

I wish I could pause time. There have been so many sweet moments this semester that I have cried out and asked the Lord to freeze time and let me soak in the sweetness. I just wanna take a deep breath and relax in the season of life that I am in right now, because it is a precious one.

IMG_2835

IMG_0367

But, time only seems to be getting faster and faster. Some of my fondest memories have been weekends spent enjoying the company of my dearest friends. I have a core group of friends, a couple girls and guys, that I have grown close to since second semester last year. They are people who I don’t have to be doing anything with to have fun. We can simply all be in a room together and be fully content in each other’s presence. They are people that are kingdom-minded, recognizing that we are here for a far greater purpose than anything we could plan for ourself. They encourage and challenge me to greater depths in my spiritual life while constantly making me laugh. I truly have no clue how I came to know these people and I feel so insanely thankful.

DSC_1688

IMG_1802

I feel like this is what good, solid community should feel like. Life can be difficult, overwhelming and confusing at times. I am surrounded by people and yet so often I find myself feeling lonely or unloved. Sometimes it can be so hard to not believe the lies and poisonous thoughts that run through your head. But, I know the truth. I can rejoice regardless of my circumstances because I serve a compassionate, loving Father who adores me. He uses my sweet friends so often to speak words of life into my life and help me see His promises.

IMG_1594
IMG_3153

 

 

 

IMG_2629

Next semester, I am going to try to spend more time in the healthy community I have and take more pictures with the people I love. Sadly, there are some sweet souls not pictured in the post that hold a very special place in my heart. I will be enjoying the time with my friends so much that I forget to even take pictures. It would be fun to have more to and smile at when I am in different seasons of life.

IMG_1998

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

I want to cherish the time I have left with the most wonderful people I have ever known. They truly make life fun. Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” I have found friends who sharpen me and for that I will always be thankful.

sooners without borders

This semester, I decided to join Sooners Without Borders, an organization on campus that seeks to empower students with the opportunity to use their knowledge and skills to help those in need. It was created for students who understand that there are issues in the world and want to be actively finding solutions to them.

My goal the past few has been to study and become a physician’s assistant so that I can travel and work in understaffed hospitals and clinics around the world. During my sophomore year of high school, I went on my very first mission trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While there, I was exposed to their version of health care, an incredibly small clinic with minimal supplies and few employees. My heart broke for the people there and I felt it was unfair that I was able to receive such easy and quick care, while they are lucky if they can receive any kind of help. I had heard about doctors without borders, and when I got home, I began googling and searching for all the information I could find on it. How I didn’t find out about Sooners Without Borders till now, I don’t know, but I am sure thankful I did and was able to join.
14191920_956237917832185_4188038295053608919_n

I am excited to hopefully attend a trip down the road with this organization. I would love to have the opportunity to get to know others who have similar passions and desires for both community and global service.

In addition, I am currently looking into attending the OU Global Brigade in Panama this coming spring. It is a 7 day medical brigade where I will have the opportunity to take vitals and patient history in triage, shadow licensed doctors in medical consultations, and assist in a pharmacy under the direction of licensed pharmacists. I think I could learn a tremendous amount about patient care and what their health care system entails. This hands-on experience will be crucial for me. Thankfully, I am in the process of completing my third semester of Spanish at OU. I hope to be able to utilize all that I have learned and continue to learn to communicate with the patients I meet in Panama. Knowing their language will be an incredible asset for me as I try to understand and create an accurate diagnosis of what health issues they are dealing with and how they came about. It will also give me the ability to be encouraging and compassionate towards them in both my actions and words.

I am praying for the Lord’s blessing on this trip and asking that He closes the door if it is not where I am meant to be. He knows best and I simply want to walk in obedience.

 

celebrate life

Wow! As I hop right back into my second year of college I cannot help but smile out how blessed I am to attend this University. There are so many organizations and opportunities to be involved alongside some of the most incredible and diverse students. I am especially thankful to be apart of OU Spanish Club because it offers more than just practicing the language. They create exciting and unique events to celebrate fascinating culture traditions and history. This semester I stopped by Kaufman to see the set up for Día de los Muertos, an interesting holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico from November 1-2. The indigenous people combined their own ancient beliefs with those established by the Catholic holiday, All Soul’s and Saint’s Day, to honor their deceased loved ones.

IMG_3119

In most villages, beautiful alters decorated with candles, a variety of vibrant flowers, and mounds of food, are created by each family for the spirits of their deceased loved ones.

IMG_3121

There must be a plethora of food, ranging from fruit, bottles of soda, water, and hot cocoa to peanuts, plates of turkey mole, stacks of tortillas and big Day-of-the-Dead breads called pan de muerto for the weary spirits. Little folk art skeletons and sugar skulls, purchased at open-air markets, provide the final touches.

IMG_3122

This holiday is very expensive for these hard-working, self-sufficient, rural based, indigenous families and many of them spend over two months worth of income to honor their dead relatives. Coming from a very large, tight-knit family, I find the sacrifice they make out of honor and love for each other incredibly touching and comforting. They hold each other in very high esteem and believe that you do not stop celebrating the life of those you love after they pass away.

My mom always jokes about how when she passes aways she wants us to throw a party, rather than a funeral, to celebrate her because she has finally reached her true home with her heavenly Father. I admire how these families choose to celebrate the lives of their deceased loved ones, rather than forget them.

amreeka

Last night I attended the film screening of Amreeka, a movie portraying the life of an immigrant family’s struggle to find a place they can call home in America. Muna, single mother to son Fadi, is an educated and hard-working woman who works tirelessly to send her son to private school. Even though the Iraq war has caused trouble in her hometown, Muna braves the checkpoints and soldiers and drives two hours every day to get Fadi to school. After applying for a visa, they are presented with the opportunity to move to America. Tired of abuse by Israeli occupation troops, Fadi begs his mother to jump on this opportunity, excited at the chance to get an American education. They decide to make the difficult transition from Ramallah, a city in West Bank Palestine, to live with her sister’s family in a small town in Illinois.   Amreeka-images-a7786abd-c37f-439b-bb7e-a7cd1a78380

Even though Muna has 10 years of experience in the banking industry in Palestine, the only job she is able to find is at the local White Castle, a hamburger chain diner. After the U.S. attack on Iraq, Fadi begins to face racial profiling in school. Even though his family is Palestinian Christian, they are often perceived as potential Muslim terrorists. In the movie, Fadi ends up getting into a dangerous fight with a bully. Muna picks him up from jail and scolds him for his actions, telling him he must hold his head high and be proud of his heritage regardless of the ignorance of the students around him. At the end, things start looking up and situations improve for the family. This was a very powerful, eye-opening movie that made me feel very fortunate to never have to worry about experiencing the kind of mistreatment and abuse Muna, Fadi and their family had to endure. The ending left me with the impression that there might be more to the story.
9780061660184_p0_v3_s192x300

In my introduction to religious class, we are currently reading The World’s Religions by Huston Smith. Smith presents big picture religious ideals and tries to build bridges between religions, insisting that their is more similarities than differences between them. I think this book, along with the movie, is a reminder that I have so much more in common with people than I may think and that I should never believe the stereotypes I may hear about them. I cannot classify all people based on what one person, or group of people, from that culture may have done. I feel like I do a pretty good job of loving people no matter their beliefs or backgrounds. However, I think it is always good to be reminded and made aware of how crucial it is to treat others with kindness and compassion. I am very blessed to have never experienced the kind of treatment that the Palestinian family endured and I should never take that for granted.

year two !!!

Woah. It’s August 21 and classes begin tomorrow. This is crazy. I remember the beginning of freshmen year like it was yesterday.. How am I a sophomore already? I feel a wide range of emotions right now. I am so excited for this year and the opportunities and experiences it will bring, but also wishing that time would slow down. I cannot wait to invest in my current relationships while also creating new ones this year.

IMG_3441

This past weekend, a close group of friends and I went on a camping trip in Blue Hole, Arkansas. The six hour drive was filled with fun summer stories, good music and clever riddles/games to pass the time. The location was incredible. The “blue hole” was a fantastic, bright blue lake surrounded by cliffs and trees. We spent the majority of the afternoon jumping off cliffs, swinging off a Tarzan rope that had been attached to one of the trees, and relaxing in the cool water. After hours of swimming, we were exhausted, hungry and ready to set up camp. We hiked up the mountain until we found a perfect spot overlooking the lake to set up our hammocks and build a fire.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCO with f3 preset

We all sat around the fire, roasting hot dogs, sharing trail mix, and engaging in good conversation. That night, we each established goals for the semester and vowed to hold each other accountable to them. I decided that this semester I wanted to truly engage people. I want to invest in the friendships I already have, but also intentionally pursue friendships with people I feel the Lord calling me to love. This semester I will be babysitting for a family that has five children. I am praying and asking the Lord to help me be a good role model for them and love them the way Jesus would. I believe I have that job for a specific reason and have been given a fantastic opportunity to love and encourage them. I went to bed that night with a thankful heart, surrounded by the most selfless group of people who love me so well and want to know and encourage my walk with my Savior.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

That morning, we woke up to the most incredible sunset. This picture is nothing compared to waking up to the smell of firewood and a stream of sunlight gradually getting brighter and brighter. However, it is incredible and shows just how wondrous of a Creator we serve. And to think… how much more beautiful will heaven be?

IMG_3440

My heart is so full. I cannot express how grateful I am for the group of people I am surrounded by and how excited I am for each of us to grow this year. Still shocked to say I’m a sophomore, but I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.