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Choosing Your Path

Posted by on 4:14 pm in Bible Study, Cal U, Leadership, New Life | 1 comment

Choosing Your Path

WELCOME HOME! If you are a returning student or this is your first year at Cal, we welcome you with open arms! My name is Sarah Barger, and three years ago I was a freshman arriving on campus for the first time. My family dropped me off, we checked in, moved all of my belongings, my mom cried, and they drove the four hours home that I would only be able to take on breaks and holidays. It was an exciting and scary feeling. I was looking forward to making new friends, joining clubs, meeting my professors and learning more about my major and what I want to do for the rest of my life. Everything else was up in the air. When you are new to a campus with thousands of your peers and don’t know anyone and no one knows you, the opportunities are endless. This can be positive or negative. I knew it was up to me to decide where I got involved and start planting my roots. I thought about the things that were a part of my life and important to me as a freshman: my love for my major, my music, my energy and willingness to meet new people, and my faith. I am a Gerontology Major and discovered that Cal U has a club for that. I joined, and in my senior year I am now President of the club and recruiting freshmen who were just like me. I play guitar and sing, so I wanted a chance to perform and meet other musicians. I found SABUG which is Student Activities board and Underground Café and became Vice-President on the Underground executive board my sophomore year and continue to play every open mic night on Thursdays. I also attended Student Activities Board events and helped with many programs that gave me a chance to meet some of my closest friends and one of my best friends.  I was very involved in my youth group and church at home; I didn’t want to lose that in college. I was a worship leader and that led me on a path to New Life Christian Fellowship. This year I am President of this campus ministry and am so proud to be a part of our family.  We have community projects, social events, Bible studies, prayer walking, retreats and mission trips that have changed my life and brought me closer to God and to those around me.  I have grown and experienced many things these past four years. I am thankful for the friends and connections that I have made and that would not have been a possibility if I didn’t take the first steps and searched for what was important to me. As you are choosing your path, I encourage you to get out there, open up, be honest with yourself, and find people and leaders who can hold you accountable, support you, reassure you and help you grow as an individual.  Be the best person you can be. College is one of the best times in our lives, so make the most of it and take advantage of the many opportunities that are offered by getting...

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Prodigal Daughter

Posted by on 7:44 pm in Faith, God, Soularium, Topic Tuesday, Waiting | 0 comments

Prodigal Daughter

Today we have a special guest post from Cal U student Brittney Jones. She saw this picture from Soularium and wrote this beautiful piece. ~*~*~*~*~ Prodigal Daughter When I finally stopped running, I was alone, except for my memories. And I found myself standing before the door I’d run from, years ago. A heavy door, ornately carved, a painting of a man on a cross beside it. I touched the door, fingered the handle, and took an unsteady breath. Last time I had run from this moment and fled toward what seemed easier, what seemed less painful. That I was wrong made this return even harder. There wasn’t a moment when this would be easy. I opened the door. Silence filled the room, stilled my steps, slowed my heart. It was heavy, the silence. It pressed me in a pew, pinned me to the seat. This was my mistake, stillness. This was my trap. My body calmed, so my thoughts could now be heard. Lonely started in my heart, a little chill that spilled from its prison into my blood and seeped beneath my skin. It grew colder, reminding me of my mistake. “God.” The whisper forced its way out of my throat, past parched lips, and was trapped in the air like a fly in amber. It hung in front of me, stained by light from the tinted windows. “God, I’m waiting.” I couldn’t breathe. “God, please.” I was so tired, too tired to hold up my head any more. It bowed slowly, wearily. I knotted my hands together, beneath my forehead. The dust revolved slowly in the air, drew patterns in the colored air. The pain of loss rippled over me. I was too late. He said He would wait, but He wasn’t here. He hadn’t stayed. “I don’t see You.” Tears slid down my cheeks and collided as they dripped across my nose. “Why did You leave me?” The eaves creaked, the candle flames murmured, the colored class shifted in its frame. “Where did You go?” I am here. The whisper ripped through the oppressive silence, lifted the weight that pinned me down. I am always here. I raised my eyes, blinked away tear, turned around. I watched you, all this time. I never left. I waited for you to come home. I am sitting here waiting for you to turn around and see that I have always been here. ~*~*~*~*~ See this picture and many others when you stop by our Soularium table in Natali this Wednesday through Friday from 10am to 2pm. Also, this post is the beginning of a new blog series exploring different topics each Tuesday. If you’d like to guest post, send us a message at...

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Getting Stuck – a Review & a Giveaway

Posted by on 11:05 am in Bible Study, Giveaways, Jennie Allen, Lessons, Stuck | 9 comments

Getting Stuck – a Review & a Giveaway

We’ve all been stuck in one way or another. Stuck in our relationships, staying with the same path because it’s what we know. Stuck in our perspectives on life, choosing to only see things from one direction. Stuck in our relationship with God, wanting to grow but not knowing how to get out of the rut. The thing is, some of us don’t, can’t, or won’t recognize the ways we get stuck. Neither do we know how to get unstuck. Thankfully, we don’t have to stay stuck. We can move on. We can grow. We can get unstuck. I led a small group this semester based on the “Stuck” material. Jennie Allen gets to the point quickly and goes deep. In this eight-week study, our eyes were opened to see those areas of our lives that hold us back from trusting God and from being all He created us to be. Jennie asks questions that make you give real, honest answers. We found this study was more about being honest with ourselves. We felt raw and vulnerable (because no one wants to admit her flaws), until we realized we weren’t alone. Each of us had different areas of need, and we began uncovering our stuck places. Being able to identify specific stuck places in my life has helped me focus on what I need to do to grow closer to God. When I first started this study, I was quiet and I didn’t share a lot, but once I realized I was in a safe and faith-filled environment, I became more open. Sharing my story has helped me move forward from my stuck places. I have definitely grown a lot closer to God throughout the eight weeks of “Stuck.” ~Bethany Bowersox This study balances a lot of things that are sometimes out of balance in book studies. Sometimes the homework is overwhelming. This homework isn’t. But, there’s enough substance to make doing the homework worthwhile.  A very important factor for me in considering small group materials is the inclusion of copious Scripture references. I prefer Bible-based materials to opinion-based materials. Jennie balances solid scriptural teaching with topical discussion. There’s plenty to grab your attention, but it’s not done in a flashy way. It all comes together to support the purpose of the study: growing deeper in our relationship with God and with others by identifying and addressing our stuck places. I really enjoyed the study. I loved how it was specifically for women and it was a girl-bonding and growing time. I thought the pacing was good and that the questions varied in depth. I also loved how the questions at the end of the chapter were designed to stimulate different parts of the mind and the way the video reiterated what was in the book. That way you can read it as well as hear it and see it, rather than just read it. This is helpful for people with different ways of learning and remembering things. ~Amanda O’Brien As Amanda mentioned, this a multi-media study. Of the different resources, my favorite was the discussion card pack. One of the most difficult things in facilitating small groups is keeping the conversation going on topic. That was not the case with this study. Each week we’d all pick 2 or 3 questions from...

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Don’t Underestimate the Little Things

Posted by on 1:49 pm in London, Olympics, Thing 1 & Thing 2, Travel | 14 comments

Don’t Underestimate the Little Things

When I found out I was going to the Olympics, I knew Thing 1 & Thing 2 had to go with me. You see, they’ve been on a an excellent adventure. And what world tour would be complete without a trip to the most illustrious international sporting event? So, we made our way to London. The two stowaways were great travel companions. They got to see lots of famous sites and meet some cool people. While I could tell many fun stories about our experiences, none of them is as exciting as how we ended up with Olympic tickets. My teammate Lynn and I stopped at Westminster Abbey one afternoon to snap some photos and check out the beautiful building. While there, Thing 1 & Thing 2 had their own photo opp. As they were posing, I heard a cheerful voice exclaim, “Thing 1 & Thing 2!” I turned around to see a young lad (that’s what they call them in England, right?) with a bright smile. Most people I had encountered in London had no recognition of these Dr. Seuss characters, so hearing their names called out was a surprise. The surprises grew, too. Lynn and I walked over and meet Tom and his mom. In our conversation, compliments of my blue-haired friends, Tom told us that his sister, who was standing nearby, had been a dancer in the Opening Ceremonies. He also told us of her plans to visit the U.S., including Florida. Since I’m from Florida and because I wanted to meet someone who had been in the ceremony, I asked if we could meet her. When she came over, she told us about her experiences in the big production and asked us if we had seen any Olympic events. We had only seen the Men’s triathlon because it was free and open to the public. We were there to do ministry, but we also had free time and were willing to purchase tickets. Unfortunately, tickets were nearly impossible to come by, especially for anyone who wasn’t from the UK. Then Tom’s sister said, “I don’t know if you’d want them, but I have two tickets for women’s wrestling.” It took me a moment to process it. Women’s wrestling. Hmm. That would be interesting. Lynn wasted no time, though, and joyfully accepted them. Then she asked how much they’d be. “They’re free.” Lynn and I shook our heads in disbelief and thanked Tom’s family profusely. Wow. We just got Olympic tickets. For free! So, there you have it. Thing 1 & Thing 2 are the reason we met Tom, whose sister gave us tickets to see women’s wrestling. Not only did we get free tickets to an Olympic event, it was also a medal round, which included a medal ceremony. I thought it was very fitting that Canada and the U.S. shared the bronze medal, seeing that my Canadian blogger friend Leanne Shirtliffe (a.k.a. Ironic Mom) started Thing 1 & Thing 2’s Excellent Adventures. Thanks, Leanne, for letting the little guys go with me… and for the Olympic tickets they helped me get. Don’t underestimate the little Things. You never know what will come from them. ~*~*~*~    ...

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The Grace Race

Posted by on 11:38 am in Cal U, God, Grace, Jesus | 0 comments

The Grace Race

Grace. To think that our sins could be forgiven if we just put our trust in Jesus is unfathomable. No checklists. No proving that we’re worthy. It’s hard to comprehend in our performance-based world. Thankfully, in our insufficiency, God extends grace to us. Check out this video featuring Raizel Benn and her thoughts on grace. This video was taken at Cal U and places...

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New Student Orientation Giveaway

Posted by on 11:59 am in Cal U, Giveaways | 0 comments

New Student Orientation Giveaway

Raizel and I had a great time meeting freshmen and their parents at New Student Orientation yesterday. This is an exciting time of the year as the school’s bustling with activity again. I enjoy helping new students feel welcome and more comfortable at Cal U. There’s so much to look forward to – it’s going to be a great year! As part of our introduction of New Life, we held a guessing contest. Throughout the day 45 people participated, with guesses ranging from 55 to 500. The actual number of Tootsie Rolls and Dum Dums in the jar was 141. Congratulations to Chris King and Richard Anderson, who both guessed 137, for being the closest and for winning a $10 giftcard, compliments of New Life Christian...

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Amazing Awaits

Posted by on 1:47 pm in Facebook, God, Surrender | 6 comments

Amazing Awaits

Today’s my 6-year facebookiversary. I imagine I didn’t check facebook on about 100 of those days. That leaves 2093 days in which facebook was part of my life. Some days I spent just a matter of moments or minutes in cyberland, but other days I spent hours. I’ve invested an enormous amount of time in it. More than I’d care to admit. Recently, I had almost 3 days away from technology, and I didn’t miss facebook or even think about it while I was gone. But, when I returned, I went back to my check-it-multiple-times-a-day habit. It’s a habit I want to break, and the only way I see to break it is to go cold turkey. I’ve decided to take a leave of absence from facebook for four reasons: 1. I’m reclaiming my time. Facebook can be a great networking tool and a nice way to get new ideas. It’s got some perks, and it’s been an easy way to connect and reconnect with lots of people. It can also be a time-sucking demotivator. Oftentimes, I leave facebook discouraged or feeling just plain lazy. As I consider the gobs of time I’ve wasted watching meaningless videos, perusing pictures of people I haven’t even met, looking at dumb sayings with poor grammar pasted on pictures to make them seem cool, and reading about what people ate for breakfast (which I rarely talk about with people in person), I wonder what I could’ve done more productively. Like learn a foreign language, practice guitar, study more of the Bible, or work on my list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33. I can’t retrieve the time I’ve lost, but I can choose not to lose more precious time to the facebook vortex. 2. I’m reevaluating my motivations. Instead of doing things out of obligation or because I want to impress, I’m choosing from here on out to do things because I want to do them. Not for show, for accolades, for attention, or for ego-feeding. And not to see how many “likes” I can get. Most of the time I’m able to keep these little monsters in check, but frankly I’m not good at it all the time. 3. I want to be fully engaged in what I’m doing. Over the next few weeks I’ve got some exciting things going on. I’ll be in Northwest Florida for 3 weeks and will be spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, speaking to several small groups and churches, raising support for my ministry, and more. After that I have a week back in Pennsylvania, and then I’m heading to the Olympics.* The Olympics!! In London!! Ah, I can’t wait. These next few weeks are a time to rest, to enjoy, to refresh, to serve, and to love. One of my life mottos is “wherever you are, be all there.” I don’t want to miss out on the important things going on around me because I’m looking to the next thing or spending too much time hanging out in the cyber world. 4. Finally, and most importantly, I want to have a deeper relationship with God. God’s been refining me a lot lately. My focus is changing, and I’m learning a lot about being who He wants me to be...

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To My 20-Year-Old-Self: Slow Down!

Posted by on 12:00 pm in Encouragement, Lessons, Love, To My 20-Year-Old Self | 0 comments

To My 20-Year-Old-Self: Slow Down!

I’m excited to continue this series today with a post from Chi Mejia. She and I are newly acquainted through this series, and I look forward to getting to know her. Looks like we’re place switchers, considering that I moved to Pennsylvania from Florida.  Chi was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she lived until she was twenty. From there, she moved to Pennsylvania to attend graduate school at Penn State University. She now lives in Florida with her husband of eight years and two toddlers. She precariously balances working full time as a business analyst, involvement at church, and being a wife and mom to the best of her ability. Her primary interests are in sewing, canning, baking, crafts, homesteading and writing. She writes a blog at bestintentionsmom.wordpress.com. ~*~*~*~ To My 20-Year-Old Self: For heaven’s sake, slow down!  Stop trying to grow up, move on, start life and advance so far so fast.  In less time than you can imagine, you will be creakier than you would like to admit.  Adult business and craziness gets here fast enough, trust me! Take that year off to explore, join the army, go on a world mission, or something else significant.  Life will mortgage you to deep responsibilities soon enough.  Seize the chance to do something really profound before your boundless enthusiasm and energy mellow into daily concerns.  I know it feels like you will always be this way, but real life intrudes faster than you can imagine. Be more free in giving yourself to others but less free in giving up yourself to others. Have more love for more people but fall in love with fewer people. Care more about the world around you but care less what the world around you thinks. Be more fiercely loyal to who you are but less loyal to unproven others. You have all the best intentions in the world, and you will do fine, I promise.  But take this one precious chance in this one unique time in your life to slow down and live it! ~*~*~*~ Today’s guest post is the sixth in the Tuesday feature “To My 20-Year-Old Self.” If you missed the other five, check out Sometimes It’s Better to be Single, I Know You Hate Your Body, Believe in Yourself. Believe in Your Dreams., You Are Nothing, and You Can Choose. Be sure to use #TM20YOS when sharing this series on...

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To My 20-Year-Old Self: You Can Choose

Posted by on 12:36 pm in Dreams, Lessons, Love, To My 20-Year-Old Self | 3 comments

To My 20-Year-Old Self: You Can Choose

Today, the series continues with a heartfelt post from my friend Zoe Long. I’ve known Zoe for a few years now, and I always look forward to seeing her. Her radiant smile, sweet spirit, fabulous hugs, and attentiveness always brought sunshine to my days. We’re in different states now, but thanks to facebook and this series, we’ve reconnected. I appreciate Zoe’s willingness to contribute and transparency in sharing today. ~*~*~*~ To my 20-year-old self: Hey girl. It’s me. The woman you are going to become. I am almost 30 now, and it seems like a lifetime has happened since I was you. So much has changed. I look back at you and my heart breaks for what you have been through, and what you will go through. I have no regrets to your choices. It molded me into who I am. But I am going to give you some advice anyways. If we had a redo this is what I would ask you to do. Remember that every choice you make will have far reaching effects. You have no idea how what you are doing now will affect your future. Step wisely. Like when you learned to cross the road as a child, make sure to look both ways first. Don’t get blindsided. Don’t go into debt. And if you do pay it off quickly. Credit cards are not free money. Don’t let financial decisions you make now mess up what you want to do in the future! Don’t give away your dignity to gain “friends”. You are a beautiful person and worth having as a friend. You don’t have to do drugs to have friends, buy people to have friends, lie to have friends or be more dramatic than others to have friends. Just be you!! Choose your friends wisely. You will follow what they do. That is reality. Do not think you can change a group of people. If they don’t care about being successful, you can’t make them. If they like to party hard, you cannot make them stop. If they do drugs, you will inevitably follow. Choose your main group of friends very very carefully. Cherish family. Work to repair relationships that have been broken, and improve ones that have not. Learn to forgive. No family is perfect. Take responsibility for yourself. Your choices are not your parents’ fault. It doesn’t matter how bad they were. As long as you blame them, you will not change for the better. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!! Follow your dreams. Follow them hard. And do not be afraid!! Live radically for Christ. You’ll look weird and be weird. And that is OK. I saved the most taboo advice for last. We need to talk about men. That means we gotta talk about sex, girl. If a man is willing to sleep with you without committing his life to you he DOES NOT LOVE YOU! If he loved you he would commit to you first. It doesn’t matter how many times you sleep with him, or how many men you sleep with, sex will never find you love. It will just take away from your self esteem. You will enjoy the act of sex, craving the closeness, and then wake up the next day just as empty and unloved as before. Sex is...

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To My 20-Year-Old Self: You Are Nothing

Posted by on 7:50 am in Faith, God, Lessons, To My 20-Year-Old Self | 9 comments

To My 20-Year-Old Self: You Are Nothing

At the end of March I had the opportunity to go to a really neat conference called Killer Tribes. No, it wasn’t morbid. It was centered on developing a tribe of people, a killer tribe so to speak. At this fantastic event I got to meet a lot of people from the internet. Lots of people I had interacted with for months via the blog world but had never met in person. Jess Buttram was one of those people. Admittedly, it’s a bit awkward meeting people you know so well for the first time. It feels wrong to say, “Hi, I’m Kim” because they might say, “Yeah, I know. And here’s my BFF watch that matches yours.” But at the same time, it’s weird to just dive into conversation and skip over the it’s-nice-to-meet-you’s. Jess didn’t waste any time or make it weird, though. Before the conference began, she came over with a huge smile, saying “Kim!” while giving me a big hug. That’s the way it should be done. Jess is a gem. Or a peach (whichever she’d rather be). She’s encouraging, funny, and a talented writer. I hope you’ll connect with her and check out her blog: meetthebuttrams.com. I’m so glad she’s shared this powerful letter to her younger self with us. ~*~*~*~ To My 20-Year-Old Self: Oh, girlfriend, are you in for a whirlwind. You think you’re at the top of your game. You’re a leader in Christian circles, in social circles, even among your professors. You are intelligent, you are admired, you are friends with everyone, you are proud. You think you are untouchable. (Not in so many words, of course, because that’s not very Christian.) But in this twentieth year, you will find yourself four months pregnant on your wedding day. (Congratulations, it’s a boy!) You are nowhere near as strong as you think you are. You are weak, impulsive, immature, and this is dangerous if only because you are certain that you are not. But because of this dangerous cocktail of self-unawareness, you will be privy to one of the greatest blessings you will ever know. Listen to me, 20-year-old Self. You are nothing without God, and eventually you will figure out the freedom in that knowledge. Thankfully, you will wisen up, a growth that will kick start the moment you cradle that tiny infant two months after you leave twenty for twenty-one. You will find a realness in your faith that you never had before. You will doubt, and you will realize that God is larger than your doubt. You will question, and you will find answers to those questions, answers you weren’t expecting, answers you would never have understood before. You will crumble beneath an unspoken weight, only to find God within the rubble, working tirelessly to piece you back together. You will know shame, and in this shame will you finally see your need for a God desperate to reconcile. You will make a mistake, a life-changing mistake, and you will experience God’s sneaky ability to transform darkness to light. You will find yourself in the darkest hole, and nine months later lifted to a place of glory. You will be awestruck, never alone, privileged with the consequence of sin being something – someone – that steals your breath. Your...

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