Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Adventures

I'm sitting here in Panera Bread taking  advantage of their free wifi reflecting on 2012.  This year has been one of change, excitement, disappointment, challenges, growth, defeat, provision, etc.  Beginning January 1st through this very moment on December 31st, this year I have experienced such memorable moments and experiences that I find myself having a greater reverence for God, but also I have a greater appreciation of myself.

This year I had great birthday celebrations, started tap dancing, went to my first Women's Retreat, participated in an 8k race, gone on road trips, went to Great Wolf Lodge and Bush Gardens, withdrew from The Art Institute and enrolled in Oral Roberts University, had WONDERFUL going away parties, moved from Washington, DC to Tulsa, OK, wrote non-plagerized papers, completed a full semester as an on-campus student, had multiple speaking engagements, lived by faith for four months with no job or steady form of income...  The list really does go on and on with 2012 experiences.

I'm a little sad to see 2012 leave honestly, but I'm pretty excited about what 2013 has in store for me.  Stay tuned folks cause my 2013 ride may get bumpier, but it will be exciting and victorious nonetheless.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Grades Are IN

My grades from the semester have been officially posted.  The best part of this semester has been overcoming lies that I've embraced like "Your really not smart enough" or "You can't write papers, so why try" or better yet "Your too old for on-campus learning".  The hardest part of this semester has really been social engagement.  I missed home a lot.  I missed seeing people that I know and care about (and who care about me).  I missed my routine.  I missed being comfortable and not having to worry about certain aspects of life. It's funny because even though I missed a lot of things about home, I wouldn't give up this journey for anything.  Oh, back to the grades, this is what I got:

B - Beginning Sign Language
B - Christian Worldview & Culture
A - Composition 102
D - Hebrew
C - Health & Fitness
A - Spirit Empowered Living
P - Whole Person Assessment Lab/Lecture

Beginning Sign Language: I missed getting an A in this class by .0046!  That probably hurt the most, but I deserved the B based on my test scores.

Christian Worldview & Culture: This was a hard B, I mean really hard.  The books we read and papers we wrote were intense.  But my Christian perspective hasn't changed but is more defined.  Like I have a worldview and know what it is.

Composition: I have failed other composition classes four times throughout my collegiate tenure, but not this time!!  I worked EXTRA hard in this class, not giving up on any paper.  I even got an A on my research RESEARCH PAPER (I had to raise my hands to Jesus on that one).

Hebrew: This was the class that I struggled with the most.  I put a lot of study and tutor time in with this class, but it was like my brain just couldn't grasp it.  I've actually decided to take the class over again, but since it's only offered in the fall, I have to wait until Fall 2013.  The great thing is that I will continue going to tutoring until that time, so I should do a lot better when I take it again.

Health & Fitness: what can I say, the tests were really hard?

Spirit Empowered Living: This was an interesting class to take.  The content was invaluable as biblical concepts were cleared up for me.  It's like, I now have a resolve in areas that I was still questioning.

Whole Person Assessment: This is not a graded class, but because I am on scholarship, it is a class that I  have to pass and do well on the three papers that we have to submit (which I did).

My GPA was 2.82 (would have been 3.12 with that A in Sign Language).  Not fantastic, but not horrible either.  Nonetheless, I'm proud of what I've done this far.  My Spring Semester has been solidified as of today and it is intense, but I know that I can do it and do it well.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Can I get a witness....

I am apart of a bible study that meets on campus every Thursday at 7pm.  Before the last session concluded, we were challenged to witness to one person every day while on break.  I was pretty excited about it and secretly thought, "Oh, you got this Rochelle!  You'll get a check in the winners column for this one!"

I considered break as starting officially Monday morning and to date, I have not parted my lips not one time to share Jesus Christ with anyone.  As the days go by, I kinda hold my head down in shame further and further because I have engaged with a boat load of people....why haven't I shared anything?  Sharing my faith with people I know is not as hard because I kind of have "street credit" if you will.  But with a perfect stranger, they don't know me and I don't know them.  I think my biggest challenge is I don't want to be classified as a weirdo.  You see other faiths share their faith without hesitation to any and everyone.  They knock on your door or stand at the street corner to boldly declare to anyone willing to listen.

How about you, regardless of what you believe, do you share it with other people?  The bible is clear that we all have been commissioned to go and share the gospel with all men so that they may know the truth and be set free through Jesus Christ.  It can't be done in our own strength, however, the Holy Spirit has to empower us to speak what needs to be spoken in the lives of people we come in contact with.  There is still more time today to change my track record, here we go!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Am I Poor?

In a casual conversation with a friend last week, I made a statement, "OMG, I have never been this poor!"  She quickly refutes my statement in a reply, "You are not poor, there are plenty of people way poorer than you!  All you have to do is make a phone call and your needs will be met!" 
I agreed with her and left the topic alone.  I guess I'm not poor I declared to myself....."but am I?"  For the past couple of days I've been left pondering poverty, what it is, what are its impact, what are the its criteria, etc.  Google says that poverty is "the state or condition of one having little or no money, goods, or means of support or lacking usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possession."  I also found out that the United Nations (UN) finds it difficult to clearly define poverty as the criteria for poverty in America is not the same as poverty in Zimbabwe.

So, am I poor?  Yes and No.  Yes in that I am no longer generating income nor able to provide financially for myself without the support of others.  But the answer is also no, I'm not poor, because I have a roof over my head, running water, electricity (now that it's turned back on) as a result of the financial support of others.  I struggle with being in a position of depending on others for my livelihood though.  Everything that I have in this season of my life is as a result of others doing for me.  Giving the shirt off of my back to someone in need has never been my struggle; although, accepting the shirt off of someone else's back because I needed a shirt has been.  What I have to do is change my perspective!  My dependency is not on what someone else can or can not do but as along as my dependency remains in Christ providing for me, all will be well.  The path to purpose will never be easy or completely laid out.  There will be hard days and difficult situations, but I'm convinced that weeping my endure for a night, but joy WILL come in the morning!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Difficulties Out of Obedience Produce Greatness?

Over the past 16 weeks my experiences have included the combination of great successes and great failures.  Yesterday I decided to live in the great moment of successfully completing my finals and enjoyed a delicious dinner of hamburger helper (not delicious to some, but I enjoy it).  What I didn't want to deal with was the electrical turn off notice I received on my front door or the promise of an impending car repossession or the eviction notice I received since I haven't paid December's rent yet.  Cable/Internet are already off, bank accounts are negative and the gas in my gas tank is low again.

To some, these seem like horrible conditions (actually they kinda are) and are clear signs of being outside of the "perfect will of God", but are they really?  Five months ago, if I would have heard of someone living under the same conditions I would have immediately assumed that they were doing something wrong in their life and highly advised that they change what they are doing.  Experiencing a "shoe on the other foot" moment and living what could be considered a nightmare, I think that there is more to this story than meets the eye - like Transformers. 

As a little girl I loved watching the cartoon Transformers because each appeared to be one thing, but when it was time to fight for something, they transformed into victorious warriors.  The conditions of the fight were not always ideal nor did the battle always go the way that they planned it.  But each transformer had the responsibility to fight together as a unit for "the cause"and they had to obey the commands of their leader Optimus Prime.  In my journey, I have a responsibility to fight in this battle against the enemy of our soul and to obey the commands from my leader as I fight.  All doesn't have to go the way that I planned it, but if I actively choose to trust in the Lord with all of my heart, and lean not on my own understanding in everything that I do, He (the Lord) will direct my path.  

I'm resolved in knowing that experiencing difficult days is not always the determining factor in defining how pleasing we are to God.  How we respond to those difficult days will speak to how we trust what God has spoken.  All will be well in time as I go through this process.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Put to the Test

For some, test invoke a feeling of pride as it is an opportunity to showcase what they've learned.  Fear, another emotion sparked by tests, rise up because of the need to prove oneself better than some may assume.  Christian or not, everyone will experience a test; whether in an academic environment or personal life situation, tests can not be avoided.

My finals started early this morning and conclude Wednesday afternoon.  Hebrew, the class I'm doing the worst in grade wise, lead the pack and I must say that I did pretty ok.  Either I pass or I failed.  I'm sorta indifferent because my understanding of the language and culture has increase immensely since starting the class.  I struggled, however, from the moment I cracked the seal on the book.  But I'm proud of Rochelle because a resolve developed through the struggle - finish without giving up.  I cried because I couldn't read or understand a word.  I cried because I failed tests and quizzes.  I cried because I questioned my aptitude to learn another language.  I cried just because I felt like it and that is ok.  It's ok to cry, but what you do after you finish speaks volumes about ones resolve.  This evening I completed my Spirit Empowered Living final and received an 89.18% on it (taken via web).  This class was really interesting as it challenged me to think about what I believe about scripture and how the Spirit of God functions through me.  What greatly challenged me was writing the three major papers - 2 book reports and 1 research paper (received  A's on all three).

Tomorrow I have my ASL and Comp 102 final.  ASL (American Sign Language) has been a joy because it is sharpening my skills to communicate with a group of people who love communicating with people who are willing to learn their language.  The two things that have bothered me the most with this class is the idea that over 90% of the deaf community goes un-evangelized due to the language barrier: second, that deaf children are apart of families who refuse to learn how to sign which means there is very little meaningful communication taken place in the home.  I couldn't image what my life would be like had my father not taken the time to understand how I learn and process so that he could then help me better understand things. Then in the afternoon is my Composition final.  Over my collegiate tenure I have failed multiple composition classes because of my struggle with taking information and structuring it in a cohesive manner while following grammatical rules.  Speaking has NEVER been a problem for me, but writing out my thoughts and opinion has been like cryptonite.  Not only have I failed classes over writing, I have disobeyed God on a number of things because I knew it required me to write.  BUT, I have written every paper in this class.  It may not have been on time or as well written as my classmates but I didn't allow fear or angnst to keep me from submitting something.  My professor has been enormously patient with me by taking an hour of her time every week to go over information until I get it.  I've learn how to cite others work and how to write an effective essay whether it be a narrative, analysis, evaluation, synthesis or research paper.  I get it and that's the great thing about learning, once you "get it" no one can take that away from you.

Wednesday I have to submit a paper for my Christian Worldview & Culture class discussing various Worldviews.  The book we are to use makes no sense and I'm pretty frustrated, but I have to turn in something!  Do you know that once I submit that paper, I would have turned in every paper that has been assigned to me this semester?  I HAVE NEVER EVER EVER EVER done that, EVER!!  In order to maintain my scholarships I have to receive a 3.0gpa or higher.  I don't know if my GPA will be that high, but here's what I do know...when we are tested, we can either pass the test or fail the test.  Passing the test does not always mean you've mastered the concepts, it means you've tested well.  While failing the test does not always mean you have not mastered the concepts, it could just mean that you don't test well.

Some concepts I've mastered and passed the test while others I'll have to repeat.  Either way, my pride is in what Paul says to the church at Philippi, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work you [Rochelle] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).