Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yep, it's official

Today marks a very special day for me. About one year ago, I packed up my family's van, said tearful goodbyes, and road tripped to Texas from North Carolina. I would often get puzzled looks from people who found out I was from North Carolina and would always get asked, "What made you decide to come to UT?" And most of the time, I was a little unsure myself. Yes, my older sister did attend UT and that is how the idea was introduced to me. And yes, my family did once live in Texas before I was born so it wasn't completely random. But for the longest time I couldn't really express exactly what caused me to come to Austin. But today, after submitting my forms and supporting documents to apply for establishing Texas residency earlier this week, my official status no longer said "non-texas resident," but rather, "texas resident!"

to celebrate the occasion I got frozen yogurt of course :)

The excitement I felt was almost comparable to the excitement I felt when finding out that I got accepted to UT. And the best part was looking up my tuition bill which had DRAMATICALLY decreased! But this got me thinking about this past year. In order to establish residency I had to work part-time while going to school full-time, which was a difficult as well as good experience for me. I really learned how to manage my time and how to make time for the things that were most important to me. And when I consider my time here at UT so far, I feel like it has been one of the most enjoyable and most precious experiences I have had in my life. Not only was my first year away from home and in college very exciting, but my Christian life really changed in a positive way.

I really feel like my love for the Lord grew this past year and it was greatly due to my specific situation. For example, I had to work Friday's afternoons to evenings and Saturday mornings pretty far north from campus. So, if I were to commute both days, it would have been very tiring. But a family, who is connected with the Christians on campus club I am a part of, happened to live up North, very close to where I worked. They would invite me over for dinner Friday nights and let me spend the night with them so I didn't have to commute all the way from my apartment the next morning. This time I spent at their house was very special to me. Even though we didn't exactly have a formal time in the Bible or anything like that, their care for me in this way really touched me and caused me to love the Lord more.

Experiences like this, along with many others, is why I came to UT. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn't come. I am so grateful to the Lord for caring for me this year through others and strengthening my faith along the way.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What it means to Present Ourselves to the Lord

     When I first came to college I prayed to the Lord that I wanted to consecrate my college years to Him. At the time I didn't really know what this consecration really meant, but I bring this up now, because while reading more of The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee, this matter of presenting ourselves to the Lord or consecration was discussed. This matter really impressed me for many reasons.

     One point that touched me was that if we give ourselves to the Lord, He will little by little touch anything of ourselves that is not of Him and say, "This must go. Are you willing?" He desires that nothing of ourselves would remain. It mentioned that it may seem easier to resist or get out of the Lord's will, but it is blessed to just give up our struggling and fighting against God's will and allow Him to have His way in us and in our lives.

     This reminds me of a verse that I really enjoyed, "Come to Me all who toil and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)

     In my experience, when I've tried to resist the Lord in something He is doing in my being and in my life, I have no peace nor rest. Even though I didn't agree with or particularly like what He was doing, I realized that resisting Him was just a lost cause. It was only when I came to the Lord and surrendered my resistance to His will that I found real peace and rest. Like Matthew 11:30 says, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. To do the will of the Father, though outwardly may seem tiresome and impossible, inwardly, it is actually easy and light.

There was so much more in this 2 page section that I enjoyed. I will save the rest for another day :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

You woke up at what time?

So I just finished my first year of college and learned very helpful lessons about time management. This matter of time management was stressed a LOT at the beginning of the fall semester. In one of my FIG (freshmen interest group) meetings, we took a blank Monday-Sunday schedule and filled in our class times. Then shaded in time for eating, sleeping, just hanging around and practical stuff like that. After we   were through with that, it was amazing to see how little time was left unshaded. This exercise was to show us how important it was to manage what little time we really had for studying and school work. I feel like a BIG misconception when coming to college is that you have all of the free time in the world. It may seem like it since you spend considerably less time in the classroom, but with less work in class comes more work outside of class.

So... when do I study?

Something that I really found to be helpful was to start the day early. Although this may not be a desirable concept to most incoming freshmen to college with their first ever opportunity to choose class times, it can really make your first year run more smoothly. Don't get me wrong, I am not one to be opposed to sleeping in until 1 o'clock in the afternoon, but think about all that time wasted! During my first semester, my earliest class was at 10 AM, but what I tried to do was to get to campus (since I lived off campus) by 8 AM and study or do work until my class. You would be AMAZED how much more focused you can be in the morning and how you can get the same amount of work done in two hours that at any other time of the day may take twice as long.

everything seems more clear in the morning :)

So if I had to give an incoming freshmen one piece of advise regarding how to not bomb your first year of college, I would say develop healthy, normal sleeping habits. Don't schedule only afternoon classes, unless you are super dedicated and have the will power to wake up early without the pressure to get to a  class. Become a morning person. The morning can be the best time to study and think. During my spring semester, I had either a class or work at 8 AM Monday through Saturday. And because I'm not the type of person who can just wake up 10 minutes before having to leave, I would usually wake up around 5 or 5:30 in the morning to have adequate time in the morning to study some and prepare for the day. Some people thought I was crazy, but these morning study sessions really saved me this past year.

learn to love your alarm clock!

Okay, so I understand that just because this worked for me doesn't mean that it will work for everyone. I  personally have a friend you is a complete night owl and she's doing just fine. :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Discovering the Bible

I remember as I child, when I would tell my dad that I didn't feel like doing something he would respond, "Do it anyways. It builds character." This memory comes to mind because this past year, I've experienced developing a habit that has done more than build character, it has completely changed my life as a Christian.

Though I grew up in a Christian home, I never really read the Bible in a daily, consistent nor consecutive way, nor saw any importance or meaning in having a daily habit to read the Bible. But after coming to UT and meeting with Christians on Campus, I found myself surrounded with students who loved to read their Bible a lot! This was surprising to me and made me curious as to why they were reading their Bible so much. After meeting for a while I began to appreciate the Bible more and more. Firstly, I was reminded that the Bible is the word of God! (2 Timothy 3:16-17) And just like you can read someone's diary (or blog) to get to know them, you can read the Bible to get to know the Person of the Lord Jesus!

Knowing this, I became more open to reading the Bible more myself. So at the beginning of the semester, Christians on Campus started a club-wide Bible reading schedule challenge to read the entire New Testament in 90 days! I saw this as the perfect opportunity to start developing a habit to read the Bible in a consistent and consecutive way. Trust me, at first it was not easy. Like developing any habit, it took persistence and perseverance. But something really cool about the schedule they gave us, was that on the bottom there were blank spaces for names and numbers of people we could put down as companions to encourage and check up on one another to help each other along the way. This was really a BIG help.

So as the semester progressed and I was going through the Bible reading schedule, I noticed that little by little, it became easier and more natural to read the Bible everyday. It even got to the point where I would look forward to the day's reading and if I missed it, I would notice.

This made me think of this verse...

"As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good." 1 Peter 2:2-3  I really began to see the Bible as a nourishment and supply that I needed everyday just like I needed physical food everyday. And just as physical food causes us to maintain our physical health and growth, reading the Bible helped maintain my spiritual health and growth!

This basically is us :) We need to milk of the word in order to grow!

If you have a similar experience of realizing how wonderful the Bible is, please share! :)

Also, if you ever want to make your own Bible reading schedule, there's a really great site you can do it with. (Bible reading schedule maker!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Visitor From the East Coast

I finally had a visit from a friend back from North Carolina (where I lived before coming to UT)! She happened to come during the busiest week in the summer, but I think she was happy to be occupied nearly every moment of her trip. She flew in last Thursday and left a week later. Being fairly new to Austin myself, I was limited in my knowledge of what were the best places to bring visitors to. But I did my best. :)

So even in my limited time here in Austin, one thing I have learned for sure is that Austin has a TON of great places to eat! So I tried to take her to good food places they don't have on the east coast. We went to Galaxy Cafe where she got to taste their AWESOME sweet potato fries. She also had to try Freebirds because she is a huge Chipotle fan, so she needed to compare. (I think she decided that she still liked Chipotle better) And of course I had to take her to a Texas barbecue place, so I took her to Rudy's. And being the meat lover she is, she definitely enjoyed it. :)
excited to have some Texan barbecue :)

Some places in Austin she got to see included a more historical site, the State Capitol, and of course the place most relevant and known to me, UT campus. I showed her different buildings on campus and the turtle pond as well as some cool places on the drag like Cornicopia (a gourmet popcorn store), Juicy Tart, Tapioca House, and the Co-op where she got a trademark "Keep Austin weird" shirt.

a true Austinite :)

Though it was cool to show her what had become my world for the past year, the best part to me was visiting the families that she knew through connections to her parents. She actually was born in Austin but moved shortly after. So there were families that knew her as a baby and knew her parents as well. One night, we went over to a family's home that I knew through church to have dinner. I had to make a phone call so I went upstairs. While on the phone, I overheard the conversation between the wife of the couple's home we were in and my friend. She asked my friend what her parent's names were after learning that they had once lived in Austin. After answering, I heard a loud gasp of surprise! So apparently my friend's mother had helped out a lot in the wife's wedding because they were in the same home meeting (a Christians on Campus small gathering in an alumna's home). But by the time she had gotten back from her honeymoon and went looking for her to thank her, they had already moved. So what are the chances that her daughter would one day be at her dinner table 19 years later!
hook 'em horns
So all in all, I truly enjoyed having a piece of home come to Austin to visit! Please keep them coming :)