20 Lessons from My 20th Year Part 3

Well friends, my birthday has officially come to an end. There were birthday muffins, leftover seafood Alfredo for lunch, a 4 hour car ride, Opening Night with friends, food trucks, a British Baking Show, and the end of 2015. As my birthday closes, I remember again that I love birthdays, especially when I get to celebrate with family and friends.

I appreciated each phone call, Facebook post, card, and text message. Honestly, they meant the whole entire world to me! With that being said, my social media accounts were so busy yesterday that I figured I’d post the final 6 lessons today. Here ya go!


 

  1. God’s timing is not my timing! 

    As I look at 2015, I realize that God definitely worked out my life according to His timing instead of my own. For instance, people I’d known of for over a year became my friend during the summer when I needed people the most. I was always afraid that I would lose a friendship because it was developing at the wrong time, but God new otherwise. Relationships aside, he also did this with things like my career and even paying for OC! God always does this according to His timing, which has always been perfect timing even if I questioned the wait.

  2. I will ALWAYS need my parents.I would be lying to you if I said tensions weren’t high in my household right now. Everyone is dealing with the stress of my parents move and it’s really hard. With that being said, I love having a mom who still goes to the eye doctor with me and who cuddles with me in bed for a little while. I love having a dad who will sit outside with me for hours and talk about everything and anything. I love having a dad who takes care of my car every time I come home–cleaning the windshield, putting oil and windshield wiper fluid into it, and making sure it runs well! Parents who make me breakfast just because or buy me birthday balloons because I think they would be fun! I don’t care if you are 5 or 35. You will ALWAYS need them, which is actually quite nice because they love you unconditionally.
  3. You should go outside and you should go outside often. 

    Really! There are so many wonderful things to see when you are outside and fresh air is good for you. I even have my own little spot by the lake that I like to go to. At night, I can sit on a rock and look at the stars. During the day, I love to watch the water clash against the shore. It’s breathtaking and truly wonderful when remembering how awesome our Creator is. My 20th year reminded me that walks are good. Picnics are even better! And being outside makes the soul feel good.

  4. Writing your prayers down is super helpful! 

    I’m a pretty visual person. With that being said, I’ve learned that it is a lot easier for me to pray when I write out my prayers. I stayed focused and don’t get distracted. It forces me to sit down and really think about what I need/want to pray for. Plus, I get to look back and see how God answered my prayers! Which is super neat. Honestly, I love that I started writing down my prayers, because I feel like with my type of wandering mind, it really helps me.

  5. Cooking is NOT as hard as I thought it was. Seriously, my family used to tease me and say that I could burn water (rightfully so. I’m pretty sure I’ve burned Ramen, and really, who does that?) Not anymore, however! I started cooking this summer and realized I’m actually pretty good at it. I don’t even need recipes for things once I’ve made it once AND I’ve found a love for cooking everything from scratch, because it is truly so much better that way (Something I’ve learned from my grandma and my mom!) This year, I’ve cooked complicated things and easy thing. I’ve cooked for one and I’ve cooked for 10! I’ve also learned that cooking for people you love makes cooking so much better. There is something about sitting down for a meal with your friends and family and just enjoying one another’s company. With that being said, if you can’t cook, try again. It’s as simple as following a recipe. You don’t have to do anything crazy! Feel free to start small and work your way up to the hard stuff. Also, note that gingerbread cookies are a nightmare, but totally worth it once you eat them!
  6. Having God centered relationships is the way to go. 

    I’ve had plenty of relationships with friends and family members before that didn’t always feel fulfilling. I felt like we weren’t on the same page and that we weren’t really growing towards anything. This year, I’ve made it a point to center ALL of my relationships around God and wow! What a difference it has made. This year, I’ve talked about God more. I’ve prayed for people more. I’ve prayed for my relationships with people to focus more around God. It’s been super fulfilling and I am so blessed by how God uses those relationships to grow my faith in Him! I used to be nervous about giving people Bible-related gifts. However, this year I stepped out of my comfort zone and went for it! For instance, I bought my brother his first Bible and my sister a devotional. They both loved their gifts! Also, I’ve been praying so much so that I was lucky enough to witness my dad and brother get baptized this past month. I’m telling you that when you center every relationship around God, whether it is romantic, familial, or a friendship, God will work in wonderful ways. He will grow the person you are working on a relationship with. He will grow you. The both of you will have a stronger relationship, because it isn’t about benefiting one another anymore, but instead, it is working together for the glory of God.


 

This year has taught me so much about myself. I’ve grown a lot and I know I will continue to grow as I take on 21. People say that the most change and challenges occur during your twenties. I would say that those people are absolutely correct, but I look forward to every single lesson learned.

For now, I’ll continue to reflect on my 20th year while enjoying this next milestone–21.

Blessings,

PB

20 Lessons from My 20th Year Part 2

I always enjoy the anticipation of birthdays and today is no different. Tomorrow, I will be spending my birthday with my friends and boy friend in OKC, so today my mom has been preping for my family birthday celebration! She purchased ingredients to make my favorite dish-seafood Alfredo (from scratch, I might add). We also traveled over to Nothing Bundt Cakes and got a dozen bundtinis and I received a free little cake for my birthday! My mom also bought balloons, which my dog is terrified of. Tonight, we will eat dinner as a family, celebrate another year of my life, and go bowling. It’s such a joy to celebrate my birthday on more than one day with people I love so much.

With that being said, yesterday, I shared the first 7 of the lessons. Today, I’m sharing 7 more! Here’s to Part 2. Hope you enjoy.


 

  1. If you have the opportunity to travel, do it.

    Two years ago, Dr. Rix offered me the chance of a life time- to go on a mission trip. I turned him down. This past year, he offered it to me again! (I doubt this happens often.) I accepted this time around, and got to explore Swaziland, various parts of South Africa like Kruger Park and Cape Town, London, Rome, and Pompeii. It was magical. I am forever grateful for the opportunity and cannot wait to travel more!  I was able to see parts of the world I’ve learned about in classrooms. It was amazing to see pictures from textbooks come alive. There was this constant sense of exploration. More importantly, it was really eye opening to see the difference in how people around the world live. For instance, in Swaziland, college is such a blessing because it’s a very rare opportunity for them. People eat simply and don’t spend a lot of money. Then, you travel to a place like London where everything is expensive and extravagant. It’s a completely different world. Traveling really opens your eyes.

  2. Teachers have the ability to remain a constant in your life even when you’re no longer their student.

    I have contacted multiple teachers from high school this year. I’ve received advice for my future, such as how/where to apply to grad school. I’ve been given praise. I’ve even been given ideas for things as small as a research paper. My teachers from high school still teach me even now that I am almost finished with college. Mr. and Mrs. McKenzie especially remain close to my heart thanks to text messages, social media, and phone calls. I know that these people still care about me and my journey. They will continue to care as I grow older and settle down into life. It’s nice to have them around. It’s also a blessing to be able to turn to them for advice, because they’ve all lived life and can offer wise words. This is true for college professors as well who are consistent faces around campus, but whom I no longer have classes with. Even professors who have moved away still keep in contact via Facebook and email. They are willing to write letters of recommendation and serve as mentors. It’s a blessing and I believe all students should work towards building these types of relationships.

  3. Best friends remain best friends even when you’re miles apart and don’t talk often.

    My friends from high school are still my best friends now, something I am constantly reminded of. My best friend Miki sent me a beautiful Christmas/Birthday present this year with a card. She’s called me to tell me good news. She’s updated me when she’s sick. Even if we don’t talk every single day, I still talk to her. The same is true with my best friend Tori. She has had such an amazing year- getting engaged, getting accepted into grad school, and finishing school in 3 years! Each time, she’s called me to tell me the news right away and we’ve been able to celebrate. Just the same, when she had someone really close to her pass away, she informed me of that also. Friends are friends are friends. No matter the distance, I know I have these friends in my life forever and for always. (I even get to be apart of my best friend’s wedding as she starts to plan her big day!)

  4. Bills Suck. Paying for things suck. Simple as that.

    I’ve learned that bills are the absolute worse, especially because it makes it so hard to get ahead when you are paying things you owe. I don’t even have that many and it still frustrates me to have to pay money each month towards various things, like my cell phone. I think when you live at home and don’t need to buy your own groceries or laundry soap or even toilet paper, you really take for granted how much things cost. This year, I’ve learned the hard way that everything costs a lot of money and budgeting is hard. Thankfully, I’ve found some handy apps to help me track everything, though! Like Mint.

  5. There’s no such thing as too much coffee. 

    For me, coffee is greatness. Seriously, I drink at least one cup a day. I like to explore coffee shops. I like Starbucks. I even like brewing my own pots of coffee in my dorm. Coffee is where it’s at. I could drink coffee all day. Even at night. It doesn’t keep me up, but rather, it warms my soul.

    Find your coffee. What makes you happy on a rough day? What makes you excited? For me, it’s coffee.

  6. Finding a church home is both scary and exciting.

    I think prior to this year, I always chose to go to church where my friends went. It was just super comfortable and I didn’t have to make any decisions, which was great. However, this wasn’t helpful, because it meant that if my friends didn’t go to church on Sundays, I didn’t either. Somehow, I lucked out with Brad, because he wanted to tag along with me as I journeyed to find a church I liked. We tried a lot of different places. It was weird making decisions. It was weird not knowing everyone at the churches we visited. It was even weird being introduced at the places we went. Thankfully, it was also really wonderful. No matter what church we visited, people were so great! They got to know us. They told us about their church. They loved God. Honestly, it was amazing. The best part was finding a church that Brad and I both liked. After visiting numerous places, there was just one church that felt more homey than the rest. We visited a second time. Then a third. Finally, we placed membership. With that being said, this semester was the first semester of my college career that I never missed a Sunday. It’s been great and I am so happy to have a church home that I chose with Brad’s help. It is a place that focuses on community and service and loving one another. It also focuses on God and I feel like I constantly learn there. It’s great. (In case you are wondering and you are in the Edmond area, we attend Dayspring COC! If you are in need of a home, try it out.)

  7. Reading is and will always be good for the soul.

    I love reading. This is no surprise, especially given that I am an English Writing major. However, school makes reading for fun a bit difficult, especially due to all of the reading assignments I have had for classes. I really hate this, too, because reading has always made me feel better when I am feeling pretty bad. Lately, I’ve been given the chance to catch up on reading for me, though! It’s been such a blessing. I love books. I love their ability to take you somewhere new even if just for awhile. I love being able to read something quickly. I love words. I love story. I love it all. Not to mention, when you finish a book that really speaks to you, it is easy to look at life a bit differently. Reading and I will always have a special bond. I encourage you to pick up a book and get lost in it for awhile. If you are anything like me, you won’t regret it.

 

Alright, the last 6 will come your way tomorrow when I actually turn 21!

 

Thanks for reading.

 

As always, I offer blessings,

PB

20 Lessons from My 20th Year Part 1

The really neat thing about my birthday is that with each new year, I start a new age, too. Around this time last year, I reflected on the official closing of my teen years as I entered my 20th year. A lot of things had changed at the time and I wasn’t sure what to expect as I tackled this next step of adulthood. Though, now that I’ve lived a year of my twenties, I strongly believe that no one really knows what they are doing–at least not early on.

With that being said, my 20th year has taught me a lot. Who knew? I figured it would be nice to reflect on some of these lessons before tackling another milestone–21. Due to the length of these lessons, I’m spreading it out over the next few days. Enjoy Part 1.


 

  1. Friends you think will be in your life forever will leave and that’s okay. 

    A lot of people told me the friends you meet in college will be your friends forever. That may be true, but the first friends you meet in college won’t necessarily be there forever. I’ve realized that the friends I clung to so hard my first semester of college served their purpose, but no longer do so. Some of them moved away. Some of them stayed. Nonetheless, we’ve drifted. We aren’t enemies. We don’t hate each other. Our paths just diverted into various directions. My love for these people is still there, but I learned that I can do college without them and life goes on without their constant presence.

  2. Relationships develop at their own time. You can know someone for a long time before a friendship ever develops. It’s all about timing.

    This summer, I worked at a church with some other OC students–most of which I had known prior to the position, but never really gotten the chance to get to know one-on-one. For instance, my now good friend Chelsae and I had several of the same friends. I was even in her profile picture during rush season our sophomore year. But I had only ever talked to her a few times and we never hung out. After working together, we went to the movies and hung out constantly afterwards! We just clicked. This was a girl I had heard about constantly my freshman year, hung around once or twice my sophomore year, and now, my final year of college, is easily one of my closest friends at OC. This was also the case with Kelly, a girl I had worked on Soundings with for a whole year, before sitting down and getting to know thanks to work. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t think Kelly and I would make good friends while working with her on Soundings, something I told her. Boy, was I wrong. She is easily the greatest person I’ve ever met and knows me better than I know myself sometimes. Oh, and I can’t forget Brad. He was someone I had crossed paths with multiple times- Pi Fall Banquet, “coaching” Pi’s football team, etc. Yet, we didn’t get to know each other until we worked together. This summer brought me so many solid relationships and each relationship was with someone I had crossed paths with before. However, God developed the relationships when he felt I needed them.

  3. Family is family no matter the distance.

     This year, I officially lived in Oklahoma all year. I stayed through the summer and I’ve even been there for most of Christmas Break. This was a time of growth and independence, but I also learned that my family is still here for me if I need them. My parents are always a phone call away. I can make the journey to see them. They can journey to see me. My siblings are here for one another in times of need, even if it is simply in a group text message. We are still family no matter what. We support one another and have each others’ backs.  This is a lesson I am still learning and will continue to learn as my parents move to Florida. Distance will be hard on all of us, but we will grow through it and love each other more because of it.

  4. People don’t like to be placed on your to-do list. 

    If you know me well, you know I am the type of person who plans everything. I follow a pretty strict to-do list each and every day. I like to cross things off. I’ve learned this year that although I like to pencil people in, people like spontaneity. They like to do things spur of the moment. AND they do not like being crossed off your list–especially when that list consists of tedious things like homework, dishes, and laundry. At first, this really bugged me, because I like knowing what I’m doing each and every second of the day. However, I’ve learned that it’s much better to just go with the flow sometimes. (This is something I still need to work on.) But for now, I think healthy compromise is a thing, so I’ll plan AND have random time with friends and it will be great.

  5. It’s okay to cry. 

    I’ve always hated crying, because I feel weak when I do so. I feel like I’m being a baby. Rightfully so, too, since my siblings always made fun of me for crying while I was growing up. It also probably has to do with being super vulnerable with people and I mean, who does that? Yet, this year, I’ve cried a lot. I’ve cried to my mom, who always handles it well. I’ve cried to my dad, who always feels so bad because he can’t do anything to make it stop. This also makes him feel awkward (I think. He may disagree.) I’ve cried to my friends. I’ve cried endlessly to Brad. I’ve cried on floors, beds, in my car, in the hallway of the business building, in my professors’ offices, and even in parking lots of restaurants. I’ve had the whimpering sobs, the snotty ones, the hiccupy cries, and even the cries where I can’t breathe because the act of crying is all my body can manage. Each time I’ve cried, people have comforted me. Each time I’ve cried, I’ve realized I’m not alone. Each time I’ve cried, I’ve felt much better afterward. You see, crying lets it all out and your body knows when you need to do it. So, let it out! You’ll be a stronger person for it.

  6. It’s okay to feel your feelings.

    Actually, this is kind of funny, because I tell people this all of the time, but I don’t think I tell myself this enough. You feel the way you feel for a reason. Don’t shut off your feelings! Feel it out. Figure out why you feel that way. Then, deal with it. You have feelings for a reason. Don’t suppress them. If you’re having a bad day, it’s okay to feel upset about it. If you are having a good day, be happy about it! Just don’t dwell on negative feelings–get them out and let them go.

    (Also, shout out to the people who remind me of this. Especially those of you who throw it in my face that I say it constantly. You help me feel my feelings.)

  7. Babies will make you feel better- ALWAYS.

    This may not be a shared opinion, but I promise you that babies make me feel better. Especially Baby Parker. I’ve had so many rough days, especially this semester. Going over to the Parker’s house and holding Baby Parker instantly cheers me up. She has so much life to live and she is happy and lovely and just yes! Instantly, I feel better. Babies snuggled into you and make you feel warm inside. The troubles of your day instantly melt away. They are truly God’s greatest gift.


 

Alright, that’s all you get for now. Part 2 will be up tomorrow! Hope you enjoyed reading these as much as I enjoyed reflecting on them.

 

Blessings,

PB

Prayers Answered 3 Years Later

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

This time 2 summers ago, my mom and I had a conversation in which she did not believe OC was the school for me due to how expensive it was. I understood her apprehension at the time, because private Christian colleges are not cheap. Not to mention, I didn’t have that much scholarship money at the time. Due to some other things that happened, my mom and dad doubted that OC was where I should attend and were strongly encouraging me to look for more affordable schools, because they didn’t want me to go into debt for school. They are good parents for their concerns. Yet, I fought against it and told them I knew God wanted me at OC and I would do everything in my power to get school paid for. I remember praying to God in a fit of tears, begging Him to help me. “If OC is where you want me God, please, just  help me convince my parents. Help me show them that it is truly affordable. Help me get there. Help me stay there.

The first year, my mom and dad paid $10,000 for me to attend OC and I was grateful to them for trusting me enough to give me a chance to attend for the first year. They gave me the chance to prove to them that what God had placed on my heart was OC and that was where I needed to be. I got in there, worked 2 jobs, took a ridiculous amount of hours and made it happen. In the process, I fell even more in love with OC and with God.

Then, I went home for the summer and because my brother was no longer in school, I lost the only grant I had. It was frustrating. I contacted the school and my financial aid counselor told me there was nothing she could do for me. Here I was trying to prove to my mom and dad that God wanted me to be at OC and the outcomes didn’t really prove my point. To them, it seemed like maybe God didn’t want me there. To me, I knew how much I had grown and that there was an adversary going against me. I did everything in my power to fight to be there. I contacted the head of Financial Aid and he worked on getting me something to cover the loss of my grant. A few weeks later, and he had found a scholarship to not only reimburse what I had lost, but also gave me $600 more. Then, out of no where, I stumbled upon more money. Between the RA position, a Four Star Leadership scholarship of $2,000, and the money I had saved from working 40+ hours, my mom and dad would only owe OC $3,000. That was a HUGE difference from the year before and something to THANK GOD FOR! He had answered my prayers and my mom and dad confirmed what I had known all along. OC was the place for me. To make it even better, I got to school that year and was offered a yearbook position which included a scholarship, so I got to save the money I made for the summer and I later used it to pay for this summer’s classes! God was good.

However, this summer, I had been given the biggest blessing yet. You see, I originally told Dr. Rix I couldn’t go on the mission trip. I was afraid of paying for college. I didn’t know how much I’d owe and I was so afraid that if I didn’t work this summer, I wouldn’t be able to pay for the cost of school. I wanted to control the situation, instead of giving God control. I had a conversation with Jeff McMillion,  however, who told me I was being silly. He reminded me that God had constantly provided for me  to be at OC and shown me that I was in the right place. He reminded me that God would not take away OC from me if I chose to do mission work for God during the summer. So this summer, I didn’t work. Instead, I stayed in Oklahoma, nannied 3 amazing kids for room and meals, and took 3 summer classes. I was basically making no money.

As the mission trip got closer, I still didn’t know how I was going to be paying for OC this year. I didn’t know how much exactly I would owe. I was nervous and extremely worried about it, because this is going to be my third and final year of college. My mom stayed positive. She told me they would figure it out no matter how much it was. She was a blessing and was pushing for something I held so close to my heart for these last few years.

While on my mission trip, I contacted my new boss and he informed me that my job of being an assistant Resident Director would include room and a meal plan. This meant that the money I owed the college was no longer non-existent. My balance of $4,000 disappeared before my eyes. I owed a big, round goose egg! On top of that, I’d be getting a paycheck, which would allow me to start saving for possible Grad School in my future.

So here I sit, thinking about two summers ago. My tears. My prayers. And my God taking care of me and leading me every step of the way even when I couldn’t see Him doing so yet. My mom and dad do not have to pay anything for me to go to school this year. God made OC affordable. He proved to them that it was definitely the place I needed to be. He demonstrated to me the importance of following the path He places on my heart. It is such a blessing, but also a reminder to remember that prayer occurs over time. You have to be patient and rely on God. He guides the way.

This leads me to the future. Everyone keeps asking me what I plan on doing once graduation occurs in April and to be honest, I have no earthly clue. However, the last three years have proven to me that God is my guide and He will help me down the path that leads to the glorification of God! So this year, I plan on being open minded. I am going to apply for grad schools and possible jobs. I am going to pray. I plan on opening every door that I can and asking God to shut the ones that aren’t for me. I am asking for God’s leadership to bring me to the place that will bring Him the most glory the same exact way He brought me to OC.

So I challenge you guys, as I challenge myself. Ask for God to guide you. Be prayerful. Be mindful not of what you want, but what He wants and needs from you. Place God first, because He leads you to things you could never imagine for yourself.

A Vow of Silence

letgoandletgod

As I gear up to leave for my mission trip, a lot of mixed feelings have started to weigh on me- the biggest being stress. I’ve said it once and I’ll say is again. I am a planner. I like to write out lists and check things off. I try not to procrastinate. I really like getting things done. However, this trip hasn’t been something I can really plan. I don’t know what I’m doing each day that I am there. I don’t know what kinds of things I will be asked. I don’t know if I’ll have everything I need. There is just a lot I don’t know. Not to mention, I’m trying to finish my final summer class, get papers notarized, pack my bags, and meet with my bank. Everything has been coming at me full force and it is overwhelming!

In those crazy moments comes a lot of self-doubt and impatience. Call me overemotional, but I think I’ve broken down in tears a least 5 times in the last 48 hours- ridiculous, I know. Yet, as I start to check things off of my list and let it sink in that I will be heading to the airport in 24 hours, all I feel is comfort. I am so excited for the blessings that will come from this trip! I already feel God working through this trip and I’m not even there yet. I’ve had so many friends and family members encourage me and love on me. They’ve blessed me in ways that leave me absolutely speechless.

Not to mention, my team is so great! I know that we will not only have a wonderful time, but also help one another grow- something I am truly looking forward to. I cannot wait to see their strengths in action, because I know they will be great. I also cannot wait to see how they help me strengthen my weaknesses.

Speaking of weaknesses, I think the reason why I’ve been so stressed out about this trip rests on a decision I’ve made. I know what you’re thinking. What decision? Why would you deliberately do something that stresses you out or makes you nervous? Well my dear friends, I’ll tell you.  I decided not to talk to anyone while I am away on my trip, whether via email, text, video-call, or phone. Gasp! But Paige, you’re a people person. You talk! You stay connected! Trust me, I know. It’s crazy. But there is a reason for it. I make it such a point to be connected with everyone. I talk to my friends everyday. I call my mom multiple times throughout the day. Getting that reassurance from my loved ones is something I not only need, but something that I thrive off of.

So why not cut it off? I want this trip to be super centered around God and His work. I want to experience every moment and give ALL the glory to God. I want to rely on God when I feel lonely, weak, or scared. I want to rely on God for reassurance. I want to build my relationship with Him and give myself to grow spiritually in a way that I can’t do if I don’t separate myself from what I find comfort in.

I’m looking at this trip as the ultimate challenge to connect with my Father, God the Savior. I don’t want to hold myself back. I want to reach for Him and keep reaching higher and higher. I want GOD.

But Paige, what about all your friends? Not talking to them during your trip, that’s kind of crazy, don’t you think? How will you stay connected to everyone? Again, valid questions that I’ve asked myself. My friend, Katelynn, told me of this thing she does when she goes on mission trips. You see, she disconnects from the world and doesn’t get on social media. In order to stay connected, she asks people before she leaves if she can pray for them when she is gone. Then, while she is on her trip, she does so. Earlier this summer, she was on her way to Africa for a mission trip when she asked if she could pray for me. Of course, I was excited for this question, and I asked her to pray for my spiritual growth. I wanted to have a summer centered around learning how to be a better Christian. She prayed for me and without knowing it, helped me by giving me a way to grow.

So after a lot of prayer, I picked about 10 people and reached out to them. I’ve asked if I can pray for them. With some, I’ve had face-to-face conversations. We’ve talked about how we can pray for one another. With others, I’ve Facebooked them or texted them. Each person has given me specific things to focus on for them while I am gone. I plan on staying connected to my loved ones by having open dialogue with God. It will keep a conversation going that will not only help me stay focused on my overall goal, but will also allow me to connect to my friends through God. I am really excited for this opportunity.

A silent Paige. That’s what’s about to happen, world. Weird, right? I never thought the day would come either! But I am extremely excited, nervous, and most of all, encouraged by this trip. I want to trust in the Lord for guidance. With that being said, stay tuned. I’d love to share my journey with you. If you find it is on your mind, I’d appreciate prayers as I tackle this challenge. It’s not going to be easy, but I do believe it will be worth it.

Adventure of a Lifetime- Preparing for Swaziland

MAT28

MAT28

In 20 short days, I’ll be leaving for the trip of a lifetime. I never thought that I would leave the country, though I always hoped I would get the chance. I never thought I’d get the privilege of going on a mission trip, yet I get to do that too! Soon, I’ll be on my way to Swaziland to work at the African Christian College with 3 other OC members and my professor, Dr. Rix. While there, Dr. Rix will teach and we will work amongst groups to help hands on learning about God!

As of today, Dr. Rix told us that the class is bigger than normal with 18 students! While we are there, we get to experience mission in an educational environment. I’ve been in multiple Dr. Rix classes, including Pentateuch and Wisdom Literature. With Dr. Rix, I’ve been able to deepen my theological knowledge. I’ve grown closer to God and built a stronger relationship with my faith. Gaining the opportunity to help others do the same is both exciting and nerve wracking. I pray that I am able to enter this journey with an open heart and mind, while also being able to express the love of God every step of the way!

Once the class is over, I have the privilege of exploring more of the world with my team! We are traveling to Cape Town, London, and Rome. Dr. Rix is not only giving us the opportunity to share God, but also to learn about various cultures in a hands on way. I was already excited to be able to go to just Swaziland, so imagine my excitement when he suggested taking us other places? I am ready to learn during this once in a lifetime trip, while also growing into more of myself.

So for everyone who has donated, thank you! I hope to post various blog posts during my trip! I want to keep everyone posted on the trip and work they have helped fund. I am blessed by you guys!

Also, I ask for prayers for my team not only while we are there, but also in these upcoming weeks to the trip. I ask that God works through us. I ask that our hearts and minds are prepared. I ask that He guides us! I ask that our nerves are settled.

If you are interested in learning more about my trip, feel free to ask for details! I’d love to send them your way. If you are interested in donating to my trip, the link is: MissionBrown. I still need to raise about $1,000! So all donations are extremely appreciated.

Guys, I’m so excited! 20 days will be here in no time!

Aside

The Do’s and Don’ts of Purchasing College Textbooks

Alright, here is my helpful advice for college students who are about to spend lots and lots of money on their textbooks. Just don’t do it. There are so many ways to go about purchasing your books so that you are getting the best bang for your buck. With that being said, here’s a Do’s and Don’ts list for you when purchasing your books. 

Do-  Look on ratemyprofessor.com

This website is really helpful, because sometimes their will be tidbits that tell you whether or not you even need a book for that class at all. For instance, I didn’t buy my Oral Communications book my first semester, because the website said my professor kept a copy of the book in the library that could be placed on hold for up to 2 hours of use. Considering that was more than enough time to read each assigned chapter, I saved myself about $60. 

Don’t- Buy books from your campus bookstore unless you absolutely have to. 

Books from your campus bookstore are normally extremely overpriced. Even the used books are really pricey, so in the end it isn’t worth it. However, every once and awhile you’ll have a professor who wrote their own book. In that instance, you have no other choice and you just have to bite the bullet.

Do- Ask friends who have taken the class before if they have the textbook.

If they do, they are probably willing to give it to you or at least sell it to you pretty cheap. I know I bought multiple books from friends for like $15. Not to mention, if your friends are like me, they have probably highlighted the really important information in the book and might have even placed notes from the professor in the margins. Moreover, your friends may be interested in a book you have as well, which would be a good opportunity to trade books. 

Don’t- Buy the hardback AND the online version of a book.

Honestly, it is a waste of money. If you buy both, chances are you’ll only read out of one. I’d vote with the online version of the book, especially for math and science classes. With the online version, there are also games and extra add ons that help you learn the material. It is pretty helpful if you need out of the box things to help you learn. Also, online versions usually cost less and have an app that reads the material out loud to you. 

Do- Rent textbooks.

This is a wonderful idea, because they are often A LOT cheaper. Plus, when you rent the textbook, it includes shipping and handling not only for when they send you the book, but also for when you send it back. All in all, you can save a lot of money. Plus, you don’t have to worry about a book you’ll never need again once the semester is over.

Don’t- Buy online access codes from bookstores.

Go directly to the source when you buy online access codes. For instance, Pearson allows you to buy the book directly from their site and it is normally cheaper than any other place you can find the access code, including your campus bookstore who tells you that you can ONLY buy it from them. This is just not true.

Do- Search Amazon for books.

I bought an online access code from Amazon last year for $20. It was a $200 book if I were to purchase it anywhere else.

Don’t- Buy the first book you find.

Purchasing your textbooks shouldn’t be done all at once. It takes a bit of time and research. You want to find the best possible price for each book, which means going to multiple websites normally.

Do- Use a comparison website.

http://www.dealoz.com/ is a wonderful site that I happened to stumble upon last semester. It is easy to work as well. You type in the ISBN of the book you need and it finds that book on as many websites as it can. Then it shows you prices, telling you the best RENT, NEW, and USED purchase you can make. I normally pick the cheapest over all, because I don’t really care about the book condition as much as I do how much I am spending. After all, each book is basically the same. With that being said, please don’t buy a book that is falling apart and illegible. 

My last tidbit of advice isn’t really about buying textbooks, but instead about selling them. Don’t ever sell them back to your campus book store. They hardly ever give you a good price for your books. Look for other avenues so that you can get a GOOD amount of money for the books you probably spent way too much on. I hope this post helps you as you start looking for your textbooks. It can be worth it in the end. After all, I took 17 hours last semester and spent $100 on my textbooks. Since my school expected I’d spend closer to $1,000, I think I did great on savings. Good luck!

Finding Adventure in Dallas

After living only 30 minutes away from Dallas for the past few years, I’m slightly disappointed in the lack of time I’ve spent exploring the city. It’s no Seattle or Portland, but Dallas in itself is definitely full of experiences unique to the Texas city. After discussing my friends recent trip to the art museum in Kansas City, I urged him to venture into Dallas with me to have my very first trip to the Art District. Kyle didn’t take much convincing and a few days later we headed to the city. 

Traffic wasn’t necessarily bad, considering we were on the road around 11am on a Thursday and we headed back fairly early, avoiding 5pm rush hour all together. However, driving through Dallas is never a fun time so that was probably the worst part of the trip. The drive aside, our little adventure was one to remember. After making our way off 30, we found ourselves at a restaurant/bar known as Angry Dog.

From the outside, we were promised we would be eating “the best burger in the DFW area” per the Dallas Morning News. For meat lovers everywhere, that was quite an enticing promise. Inside, we were immediately greeted by the host and a view of a packed restaurant. Literally, there was probably one table left in the whole place and Kyle and I were lucky enough to squeeze into it. Although the restaurant felt a tad bit tight, (we were practically sharing a table with the two girls next to us), I honestly didn’t mind. It wasn’t too loud, despite the fact that Germany and USA were playing in the World Cup, though occasionally the cheering from those around us drowned out our conversation. Nonetheless, the vibe was nice and perfect for sports loving fans of all kinds. The menus were simple and to the point. The decisions were not daunting. Also, the house rules on the back of the menu were clever and entertaining. They made for a good conversation piece with my present company. 

Set aside the decor, because what was truly wonderful about this place was the burger, go figure. Also, upon looking at the menu, I almost had a hard time deciding what I wanted to eat because everything sounded delicious. Maybe that was because it was noon and I was completely starving from the lack of food intake I had, but honestly, I think you could have ordered anything off the menu and found it to be delectable. When taking my order, the waiter, with his camo cargo shorts and braided beard, played 20 questions with me. My decisions ranged from how I wanted the burger cooked to toppings and they just continued on from there. I think this is part of the appeal to establishing the perfect burger. How can someone not enjoy a burger they designed? He also informed me that the red salt off to the side was delicious on fries, something I wouldn’t have thought to use without his suggestion. The food was brought to us fast and trust me when I say it didn’t disappointment. However, I’m a messy eater and the burger was bigger than my mouth so I ended up getting quite a lot on stains on the white cloth napkin the provided. For Texas lovers, know that sweet tea is not an option here. However, you can get iced tea and you have the option to pour your own sugar into the glass. The fries were crisped to perfection, not too crunchy but not too soft either. Also, it is important to note the price of Angry Dog, which was extremely affordable, especially for the amount of food you are given. I can honestly say the Angry Dog provided me with the best burger I have ever eaten. The flavor of the meat, the toppings, grilled onions, oh and the creaminess of the jack cheese! YES PLEASE. If you find yourself passing by, please stop. You won’t regret it. 

Needless to say, we left Angry Dog pleasantly stuffed and got back into the car to drive the 7 minutes to the Dallas Museum of Art. To park in the parking garage, you pay a flat fee of $10, which honestly isn’t unreasonable, especially because general admission into the museum is free. After parking, Kyle and I made our way into the museum. This is probably a good time to remind you that I haven’t been to a museum since the field trips I used to take in elementary school, so I was pretty stinking excited. The museum was well labeled and easy to get around. Overall, the experience was wonderful. However, there were some exhibits, including the Modern Art, that were pretty bare. Though the chair made out of stuffed pandas was rather interesting, well for a lack of better words that is. The people working were extremely helpful in directing us to where we wanted to go when we were searching for specific pieces. One of the ladies even took Kyle and I’s picture, which was pretty sweet of her to do.

The statues were breathtaking and I am completely in awh of those who have the ability to sculpt beautiful pieces with such detail. Unfortunately, I was only able to view a few of the sculptures because the sculpture garden was closed. Talk about a bummer. I loved the Egyptian and African pieces. It is truly a blessing to be able to experience the beauty of other people’s culture, especially through their art. I also viewed a statue of an African Woman with gages, BEFORE we made them a part of the Hipster evolution… There were plenty of little pieces I enjoyed, including a lot of the religious paintings from the Baroque period. I also witnessed my first Van Gogh painting today, “Sheaves of Wheat.” Trust me when I say it was awesome. My nerdiness was sustained for the rest of the day just from that one piece.

All in all, my trip to Dallas proved to be quite eventful. Thanks to Kyle, I was with someone who not only knew what he was talking about when it came to certain art pieces, but also someone with wonderful taste in dining. Also, upon roaming Dallas, I noticed the Dallas Comedy House and I’m already planning my next outing. If you are looking for something cheap to do and you find yourself in the Dallas Art District, I urge you to try your hand at the Art Museum. You’ll feel like a little kid again and you’ll be able to appreciate it a whole lot more. 

 

 

When Adulting Feels Like Drowning

Well blogging world, I guess I should just start this off with boy have I been struggling. I’ve been so stressed lately that I’ve literally had a canker sore for about a week now. My sleep schedule is all out of whack and I’m lucky I haven’t gone completely psycho on the world yet. Why am I so stressed, you ask? Well you see, my biggest problem in life right now is adulting. Every single time I think I’m doing things correctly, life laughs cruelly in my face right as it pushes me down. 

 

My current struggle has become one that I do not necessarily like to discuss. You see, my whole senior year I DREAMED of going to Oklahoma Christian. God placed a desire in my heart, a yearning, a craving. I couldn’t fight it and I knew that with every fiber in my being, it was the place I was supposed to be. My freshman year was beautiful. OC was literally everything I could have asked for in a school. Though I definitely had my share of ups and downs. My Grams passed away. I was in a terrible car accident. I grew apart from a best friend. There were plenty of tears and lots of heartache.

 

However, pushing that pain away, I met so many beautiful people! My friends at OC are truly one of a kind and are always checking in on me. They make me feel loved and respected. Not to mention, they have blessed me with so many wonderful memories. OC offered me a chance to grow in a Christian community. My faith grew stronger and I felt confident in being an adult. Well as confident as a 19 year old girl can be anyway. 

 

Unfortunately, my struggle lies within the one thing I adore so very much. I know this isn’t a very humble thing to say, but I worked my butt off my freshman year. I worked two jobs first semester while doing 20 hours, one job my second semester while taking 17 hours, and I participated in extracurricular activities. I was on my school’s literary journal board. I played a part in freshman fanfare and spring sing. Take in mind that I made a 4.0 both semesters, which was a lot harder than high school Paige would have thought. Literally, I did so much at times I thought I was either really stupid or significantly crazy. Not to mention my lack of sleep caused my body to HATE me at times.

 

I was sure I would start next year off with more scholarship money than I received the previous year. I had worked so hard! I felt like I deserved it. Also, upon being recruited to the school, I was told that you get more money after your freshman year. With that reassurance, I invested into a school. I gave them my all, putting my heart and soul into all I did. Unfortunately, OC didn’t hold up to their end of the bargain and took money away because my brother is no longer in college and my parents make TOO much money. Who is that for ANYONE to decide? I know a lot of this is calculated by the government, but now I’m out $2,000 and I no longer qualify for work study, which is roughly another $2,000.That means I have to come up with at least $9,000 to continue going to a school I cannot imagine leaving, even after all the stress this has added on to me. Moving schools seems like a hard thing to do anyway, especially as I am now on track to graduate from college a whole year ahead of schedule.

 

So what am I doing about it, you may be asking yourself. Well, first and for most, I am working my butt off, because that is what I do. I’m working as many hours as I can at the Waffle House. It isn’t a glamorous job, but you know what, I love the people I get to talk to as I wait tables. I’m also babysitting every single chance I get. I’m trying super hard not to spend money and I’m saving every penny. Literally though. I have a change jar that is almost filled to the brim.

 

Nonetheless, I know hard work isn’t always everything.Thankfully, I have wonderful people in my life. After babysitting for a family I’ve known the past few years, I was reminded by the mom of a verse that has been highlighted and marked in my Bible for quite some time, a verse that is often overlooked.

 

But now, this is what the LORD says- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God,the Holy One of Israel, your savior;” Isaiah 43:1-3

 

As God talks to the Israelites, he reminds them that He is with them in their walk. He guides their steps and helps them. I truly believe that God doesn’t give you desires just to leave them unfulfilled. Cami reminded me that we cannot expect God to provide a bright spotlight for us, but instead that He lights our path one step at a time using a small flashlight. God wants us to rely on Him and trust in Him. We cannot expect everything to be given to us all at once, but instead, we need to rely on God every single step of the way.

 

With that being said, sometimes I really do feel like I am drowning. I cause myself so much stress. I take on way too much at times and I do not tell others when I need time to myself, giving my all to everyone I’m with at all times. Even with that being said, I know God is by my side and I know He won’t let me get burned and He will be my life boat when I feel like I’m sinking. God anchors me and will continue to anchor me through my woes.

 

As I grow into an adult, I know I will face struggles. Financial difficulties now are a sneak peak into the future, one that I am extremely nervous for. Especially as I begin to learn that hard work doesn’t always necessarily mean you will receive benefits. C.S. Lewis says it best with, “hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” I know I need to sink a bit, before I can float.