Tiffa-Wiffa-Maniffa-Bodiffa (And Other Related Matters)

The first thing I did after I did after I got out of my last class on Friday was take a nap. (That wasn’t particularly exciting, but since I am a college student I often have to make sleep a priority whenever I can!) But AFTER I took my nap, I left Due West and headed out for my exciting weekend!

I started by having dinner with my lovely (graduated) roommate from my sophomore and junior years of college. The sweet and kind Victoria lives in Anderson with her husband, Michael. Victoria and I went grocery shopping, made dinner, and talked and talked and talked! It was a lovely dinner and I am pretty sure all three of laughed through the entire thing!

My sweet Victoria :)

My sweet Victoria :)

After I left these dear friends around 9 pm, I drove myself back to Due West and then met Tiffany in the Carnegie parking lot to begin our drive to Columbia. (Considering that we were only going for the weekend, I assume you will automatically know that we were going the city in South Carolina rather than the country!) Now, before you comment that us driving to Columbia at 9:30 pm at night is strange, let me tell you what my response is going to be: you have probably done some strange things in your life! Also, Tiffany had a concert on Friday night and I had dinner with the Green family, but we both really wanted to get to Columbia on Friday night so that we could be there bright and early on Saturday morning! :)

Several weekends ago, we went to Columbia and played with puppies!

We needed to get to Columbia to get back to these puppies!

What, you may ask, put us both in such a hurry to get to Columbia? Good question! This weekend I had the privilege of spending the weekend in Columbia with not only Tiffany, but also her parents AND grandparents! Now, in case you are one of those poor unfortunate souls who does not know Tiffany and her family or who has not read my blogs enough to become familiar with them, Tiffany has been my friend throughout my entire four years at Erskine.

Tiffany came to see my sister and I at my house back in January!

Tiffany came to see my sister and I at my house back in January!

Tiffany and I actually met on the very first day of freshman orientation, in the dorm, as we were getting dressed and ready to go to Soiree. I suppose what you might expect me to say next is that we instantly became friends and have been best friends ever since! While that would be rather cute to say, that is not actually quite what happened. After that first night we each went off and made new friends and hardly saw each other during the first few months at Erskine. But, as we were both math majors, and had several classes together second semester, we gradually started studying together and then gradually spending more and more time with each other. And then suddenly I had a new best friend! [For those who are literarily inclined – “Gradually and then suddenly!” ;) ]

I actually wrote a blog which includes the story of how I met Tiffa… which you can read by clicking here! :)

Many lovely weekends in the past several years have been spent in the company of Tiffany and her family, especially this past semester. After Tiffany and I returned home from Scotland, we were used to spending every day with each other. Suddenly forced apart as she lived on campus as an SLA and I commute 30 minutes to school, we had to begin actually making efforts to spending time together. (That is, when we were in Scotland, we shared a room. So literally all I had to do was roll over and look at her to have a conversation. Now I have to drive half an hour- which MOST people would consider to be more effort than simply rolling over in bed.)

This weekend we had such nice weather! :)

This weekend we had such nice weather! :)

Weekends with Tiffany and her family are the absolute BEST! Not only do I get to spend time with Tiffany, I get to spend time with her entire family. First of all, Tiffany’s mom is hilarious! (Actually, when I told her that I was going to write a blog about her this weekend she cracked me up by offering up all sorts of wonderful descriptions I could use for her in my writing). While almost all of the terms that she came up with are mostly true, I really love spending time with her because she is so much fun to be around. As soon as Tiffany and I walk into the door she is running around, telling us stories, and (of course!) handing us lists of things to do!

While Tiffany’s father is not nearly as talkative, he is equally as kind. Tiffany’s dad is really good at planning and making sure every need is taken care of- from making sure that everyone has all of the ingredients to make dinner to checking that each person has their favorite drink at dinner. Before any of us even think of anything, he has already thought of it- and taken care of it! I suppose that might be described as foresight? Whatever it is, he has it!

Tiffany’s grandparents are such darlings, and they say the most hilarious things. For instance, Tiffany and I were hanging out with them today and talking about the recipes Tiffany wants to learn to make before she wants to get married. She listed them all – chicken and dumplings, chicken tacos, baked chicken, fried chicken, grilled chicken….. and Tiffany’s grandfather just looks at her and says, “Chicken, chicken, chicken, bawk, bawk, bawk!” Tiffany’s grandmother is so sweet! She and I both like to collect and send greeting cards- she has hundreds of them in her room! Spending time with them and Tiffany’s parents made this weekend, and many weekends in the past, a memory I will always cherish :)

We all went out to lunch at the Lizard's Thicket yesterday- but, don't be fooled! They don't actually serve lizards!

We all went out to lunch at the Lizard’s Thicket yesterday- but, don’t be fooled! They don’t actually serve lizards!

One of the reasons that I am so happy I chose to attend Erskine is that it has given me the chances to make friends with sweet girls like Tiffany, and get to know them over a period of time as we take many classes together. Yes, there are only several math majors at Erskine. But because there are only a few of us, we really have the opportunity to bond and get to know each other way better than we ever would have otherwise. Tiffany and I will both graduate from Erskine this May- only 40 days, 13 hours, and 20 minutes from now- but we plan to be best friends for the rest of our lives! :)

Tiffany is as cute as this puppy- and that's saying something!

Tiffany is as cute as this puppy- and that’s saying something!

The Proof of a Good Friend

If you ever looking to see a mix of reactions in a group of people, tell them that you are a math major. I’m not even kidding, this is actually quite hilarious! I am a double major in math and psychology at Erskine and, because everyone in American culture routinely asks college students what they are majoring in, I often have to tell people about my majors.

Their reactions usually follow one of two extremes: the look of awe, as if I have personally halfway completed the quest to cure cancer, or the look of extreme disgust as they wonder what kind of torture I must have endured as a child to voluntarily subject myself to such a fate. Meeting a new group of people is almost as always interesting as the various new acquaintances either nod at my announcement or, alternatively, may go to great lengths to express their dissatisfaction with my decision. Some even go to such extremes as to pretend to stick their fingers down their throats and make gagging noises….. quite an extreme reaction, in my opinion!

As a math major, I have spent a lot of time learning how to prove various statements. (This is also somewhat funny because in psychology, my other discipline, to say that you have proved something is akin to saying you wish to torture small animals or something equally ghastly.) Proving a statement in math is quite difficult for me and often takes a lot of work, but I am usually quite proud of any proof I have written! I have a friend at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland called Scott who also studies math and is absolutely brilliant at writing proofs. I am pretty sure that any proof I could write now, he wrote when he was about twelve or thirteen. Nonetheless, studying math and proof writing is really awesome because it is cross cultural — anybody, no matter what language they speak, should be able to read and understand a well written proof in math. Even as a study abroad student in Scotland last semester, the language of proofs was still the same!

For instance, here is a proof I attempted to write last night for abstract algebra!

For instance, here is a proof I attempted to write last night for abstract algebra!

One thing I have learned in life is that not everything can be as neat and tidy as a math proof. Friendships and relationships can be difficult, and not every question so easily answered. Sometimes situations can arise where no one is sure about the right answer, and tough decisions have to be made. I think that one of the things that makes Erskine special is that, not only do we learn about life inside of the classroom, we have a lot of opportunity to learn about life outside of the classroom. As I have studied how to prove that the square root of two is irrational, I have also studied questions about my closest friendships. At Erskine I have had the opportunity to explore: what is the proof of a good friend?

Even my abstract algebra textbook has life advice to offer!! :)

Even my abstract algebra textbook has life advice to offer!! :)

Proverbs 17:17 tells us that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” One of my biggest blessings at Erskine for me has been the opportunity to make close friends, both at home and abroad. The word love is also defined for us, in 1 Corinthians, and probably quite familiar to you. I think of my darling Elisabeth, who is always so patient with me and sweet Samantha who has never said an unkind word to anyone. Friends who are humble, like Rachel who enjoys whatever the Lord has blessed her with and does not envy the possessions of others. Or Ben, who has so much to be proud of, but does not boast in his own accomplishments, and Kate who is not proud even though culture might say she has every right to be.

Some of my good friends: Kendra, Kate, & Tiffany!

Some of my good friends: Kendra, Kate, & Tiffany!

My friend Vannah, though she has been through many trials, does not dishonor anyone- at least, not that I have ever heard! Girls like Tiffany who are not self-seeking, but constantly look to support and help others. Or how about my roommate, Victoria, who lived with me for two years but was never easily angered by my crazy living habits?? I have, also, to think of Kendra, one of the most forgiving girls I know, who constantly looks for the best in people and keeps no record of wrongs against her. And how would I survive without Heather, who does not delight in any sin in my life, but rejoices in learning God’s truth with me. Last night my dear friend Christine went out of her way to protect me- to bring me dinner when she knew I had none. My beautiful Sarah always trusts that I will be a good friend to her, my friend Amanda who has always had such high hopes for all of her friends, and Lolly has persevered as one of my closest friends since the very first day of orientation!

As a student at Erskine, I have learned many lessons in math and psychology, about how to prove a mathematical statement and how to demonstrate ideas about human nature with psychology. My favorite learning experiences, however, have focused on friendships. In the past four years I have learned much about how to be a good friend and know a good friend when you see one: and these (hopefully) are not announcements that make any one want to gag!

An AMAZING Academic Experience!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in one of the best academic experiences I have had as an Erskine student. And considering that Erskine is a highly academic college, and I have been here for four years and had a lot of academic experiences, that is a pretty strong statement!

So what did Holly do that was so fab???, you may be asking yourself. Let me tell you! Last weekend Dr. Elsner, another student called Christine, and I went to the Alpha Chi National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. This is a three day conference for the Alpha Chi National Honor Society which takes place every year! Students from all over the country gather together to present their research, listen to speakers, and enjoy exploring the city together.

 

Ready to explore the city!

Ready to explore the city!

If you are ever experiencing low self esteem as a student, I recommend that you attend an academic conference. At a conference, all of the students are treated like serious scholars. While we were there, everyone wore nice clothes and dressed up all of the time. We stayed at an extremely nice hotel in St. Louis and were served fine foods. As Christine and I clicked everywhere in our heels, she commented to me exactly what I was feeling, I have never felt so professional!

I make weird facial expressions as a present my topic! :p

I make weird facial expressions as a present my topic! :p

Besides presenting some of the research that we have done in our majors (I presented on a paradox in game theory known as the Traveler’s Dilemma and Christine presented on a study she is conducting concerning the effects of seating on attention), we were given the whole of Friday afternoon to explore the city of St. Louis. What a fabulous time we had! Dr. Elsner is possibly one of the most fun college professors that has ever been! We spent the afternoon eating out at a nice restaurant, walking around downtown, and exploring the city! We even got to go to the top of the St. Louis arch!

 

Dr. Elsner at the top of the arch!

Dr. Elsner at the top of the arch!

I suppose that after we went to the top of the arch, we got stuck in picture taking mode. If you think about it, that makes sense. When you do something super awesome, like go to the top of the St. Louis arch, you tend to start taking a lot of pictures. And then when you get down, you think to yourself: that was really fun! I want to take some more really fun pictures! And then you end up walking around St. Louis attempting to pose next to random statues you find all around the city!

 

Duck lips??

Duck lips??

 

We pretended it was a chocolate bunny!

We pretended it was a chocolate bunny!

 

Christine's scary face is much better than mine!

Christine’s scary face is much better than mine!

One of the coolest parts of the trip took place on Friday night. Dr. Elsner, Christine, and I were invited over to spend time with two students who graduated from Erskine several years ago. They heard that we were in town and invited us over to enjoy some chocolate cookies and great conversation! One of the phrases that it often used to describe the Erskine Experience is Forever Connected. Having the opportunity to meet two awesome alumni simply because we were in town and they wanted to meet us, I think, is a perfect example of how this statement rings true.

 

Service Learning at the DreamCenter (Men’s Volleyball)

The Erskine men’s volleyball team just returned home from a trip to California that included a couple matches at West Coast colleges plus five full days of service at the DreamCenter in Los Angeles.

The DreamCenter is an organization staffed by volunteers who serve thousands of individuals and families in the LA area via humanitarian outreaches, education, and community programs.

The volleyball team spent 5 days working at the DC, and pitched in to help with everything from child care to loading the food truck, doing construction, talking to folks, and picking up trash from local streets. Their days were jam-packed with activity, led by DreamCenter volunteers who themselves have often been recipients of help and care from the DC.

Coach Derek Schmitt writes in his final entry about the trip,

We closed our week [at the DreamCenter] with some $5 Hot-n-Ready pizzas from Little Caesar’s as each of us talked about how we are different from when we checked in to the DreamCenter on Monday afternoon.  There were a lot of great things shared including spending more time in prayer and in the Bible, having more of a servant mentality, being more appreciative of the things we have, having more faith in God and His power, and much more.  It has been exciting to see the guys invest in the DreamCenter this week and the impact it is having on each one of them.  

Read more from Coach Schmitt about the guys’ experience at the DreamCenter:

First day at the DreamCenter

Day 2 at the DreamCenter

Day 3 at the DreamCenter

Day 4 at the DreamCenter

Last Day at the DreamCenter for Men’s Volleyball.

Living Lent: World Down Syndrome Day

Today is 3/21, also known as World Down Syndrome Day!  Today’s post is dedicated to my little brother and every beautiful soul that got a little extra love from God–in the form of an extra 21st chromosome.  While in some ways the word “disability” makes sense to me, I find that it limits expectations all too often.  What individuals with Down syndrome may “lack” by the average person’s standards is far surpassed by everything they do have.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, my brother has taught me so much about determination, hard work, forgiveness, and unconditional love.  No one can bring a smile to my face like he can.

heartbeat international

Like this adorable poster reminds us, true love doesn’t count chromosomes.  It doesn’t count shortcomings or wrongs.  Every single child is formed by the loving hands of God, and God does not make mistakes.  Though I cannot pretend to understand what it is like to be the parent of a special needs child, I do understand how such a child has completed my life, my family, and so many other families I have had the joy of meeting over my lifetime.  From being involved in Luke’s therapy, classes, special olympics teams, and life in general; to working with Camp Joy and Joni & Friends campers at Bonclarken for several summers; to every story I read about lives transformed by an extra chromosome, I thank God for these individuals.

Speaking of heartwarming stories…read this one or this one, or take some time to watch this ESPN video or this video.  

From me to you, happy world Down syndrome day and God bless!

In Christ,
Christine

buddies! siblings

a precious moment between my mom & little brother ♥

a precious moment between my mom & little brother ♥

dancing with my dear brother at my sister's wedding-one of my favorite pictures ever! ©Marni Rothschild Pictures,LLC

dancing with my dear brother at my sister’s wedding-one of my favorite pictures ever!
©Marni Rothschild Pictures,LLC

Luke and I matched PJs..we're so cute.

Luke & I got dressed up for his Special Olympics prom last summer

Luke & I got dressed up for his Special Olympics prom last summer

isn't he a stud in his tux & bowtie?

isn’t he a stud in his tux & bowtie?

precious.

Living Lent: blessings abound

Where did today go?  Whether we are knee-deep in classes or on break, it seems that time skips gaily by while I am left in the dust wondering where it went so quickly.

Today I promised part II of my list of blessings, so without further ado, I shall continue. [Sidenote: yes, I have been reading poetry.  Why do you ask?]

my books don't quite fit on my bookshelf...

my books don’t quite fit on my bookshelf…

12. Literature 
Books, books, books.  What is the best book you have ready lately? What is the last book you read?  I have been an avid bibilophile since I was little and scared myself silly reading too many Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.  I used to get in trouble for reading when I wasn’t supposed to.  (Yeah, figure that one out.)  Literature has provided me with entertainment, friends, profound emotional experiences, a greater understanding of the world, a better perspective of the human condition, and a basis for my understanding of God.  Though I am not the most talented writer in the world, I have a sincere respect and appreciation for those that are blessed with a such a talent.  And I am truly, deeply grateful for the gift of words.

13. Home

Charleston: home sweet home

Charleston: home sweet home

Home is where the heart is.  Home can be anywhere, and is anywhere.  Some once tried to tell me that I couldn’t be homesick for Scotland because it was never home–I respectfully disagree.  I believe that home is anywhere where there is a piece of your heart; though I only spent 4.5 months there, it was enough time for my heart to grow some and leave a piece behind.  Of course, home is definitely wherever my family is, too.
I am getting ready to graduate and go to grad school, though I’m still not sure where yet.  I literally have no idea where I will be in 6 months.  But I am so fortunate to have places to call home.  And I am excited to see where else God will let me call home!

14. Friends
I am blessed to have friends all over the world, even though I don’t get to see many of them very often.  Friends amuse, encourage, love, provide companionship, and help you learn valuable life lessons.  True friends are hard to come by, and quality is definitely more important than quantity.  Who cares how many Facebook friends or Twitter followers you have?  I am grateful for those who know the real me–good points and flaws together–and love me regardless.

Holly decided to surprise me...

Holly decided to surprise me…

my wonderful friend Sarah from St Andrews! she's working in DC now.

my wonderful friend Sarah from St Andrews! she’s working in DC now.

15. Health
Not much explanation is needed here.  Though I would/will praise God no matter what, I am grateful for the health that I have enjoyed thus far in my life.

16. Hope
Hope allows me to dream.  Hope gives me something to smile about on the worst days.  Hope has guided me through darkness.  The capacity for hope is something which separates us from the rest of God’s creation, something which beats pessimism and cynicism.  I hope for a lot of things, and it gives me direction and goals.  Hope shapes our lives in so many ways.

17. Forgiveness
Christ died for me on the cross.  What else needs to be said?  But there IS so much to say.  I mess up daily, hourly.  I am the queen of making mistakes.  God’s forgiveness is one of the single greatest blessings I have known; and I truly appreciate forgiveness from friends, family, and foes alike.  I am grateful for the capacity to forgive others, and how I learn and grow through that process.  I am sp blessed that forgiveness  affords me opportunities for new beginnings.

18. Oxygen
Breathing is, well, necessary for survival.  I am blessed to have every breath that God has allowed me in my life.

came across this gem while exploring St Andrews

I came across this gem while exploring St Andrews

19. Nature
Speaking of life…how incredible is the world in which we live?!  We get our food, the components of our clothes and houses, and so much of our inspiration from the natural world.  From the daffodils blooming everywhere right now to the mountains to the vast ocean, and everything in between, I consider the earth to be a blessing from God.  Though it’s easy to take it for granted,  I appreciate any opportunity to be out in the fresh air soaking up the sun.  Or being rained on.  Snow is great, too.  I’m not really picky.  And sunsets are often known to stop me in my tracks.  God is truly the greatest artist!

I took this outside of my dorm in St Andrews last spring

speaking of daffodils: I took this photo outside of my dorm in St Andrews last spring.

20. Peace
The more I hear about the war and unrest and fighting in other areas of the world, the more I feel blessed to live in such peace and stability.  (Governmental disagreements aside.)  Yes, crime happens.  Yes, We have been victim of terrorist attacks.  But compared to countless millions who live in constant fear for their lives, I am so blessed to sleep each night feeling safe.

21. Children
How can the sight or sound of a young child–especially a baby–not make you smile?  Children represent imagination, innocence, hope, joy, love.  I hope to be a mother some day, and for now I cherish any opportunity I have to spend with kids.  Every child is truly a gift from God!

22. Emotions–all of them

happiness.

happiness. [photo by Mayank Kapadia]

When I say all of them, I mean the bad ones as well.  Without sadness or anger, how can you understand true joy?  Without frustration, relief means little.  Emotions remind me that I am alive.

23. (one to grow on) YOU!
Whether I know you personally or not, I know that God made you with care and that He has a great purpose for your life.  I consider it an honor and a blessing to share this world with you, and to be able to share pieces of my life with you.

In Christ,
Christine

Living Lent: 22 years of gratitude and counting…

Wow!  Starting a blog series right before midterms week was poor timing on my apart.  I apologize for taking so long to start writing again!  I am not going to publicly admit how many days last week I napped in the Student Center rather than getting a proper night’s sleep.  This was one of my most overwhelming midterm weeks ever, especially considering that I had no midterms in St Andrews…

Speaking of St Andrews: I was in Paris, France, a year ago today! My, how the time has flown.  I miss so much about Europe and am looking forward to visiting again some day.

But on to my post for today.  A week ago I turned 22 (which feels sort of old when you live in a dorm full of 18- and 19-year-olds…) and despite my hectic and stressful week, so many little things along the way reminded me just how blessed I am.  Lent is a time of reflection, preparation, and gratitude, so today’s post is 22 things for which I am grateful.

1. Faith
I am grateful for my Faith in God, in His love and mercy.  I have faith and hope for forgiveness and salvation.  My faith has strengthened me and saved me in my darkest moments.  I have faith in people, in love, in goodness, in the future.  Faith is all-encompassing in life and the anchor for my soul.

One of my all-time favorite photos of the 3 of us! Me, Luke, and Aimee; photo taken by my other sister, Nicole

One of my all-time favorite photos of the 3 of us! Me, Luke, and Aimée; photo taken by my other sister, Nicole

family photo from Nicole's & Jeremy's wedding, June 2012

family photo from Nicole’s & Jeremy’s wedding, June 2012 (photo ©Marni Rothschild Pictures, LLC)

2. Family
We are by no means perfect, but my parents and siblings are my biggest support and encouragement.  I am so blessed to call my mom one of my best friends.  I appreciate [though I do not say it nearly enough] that I can sit and talk to my parents for hours about literally anything.  I am so grateful to have a little brother with Down syndrome.  Growing up with a special needs sibling has taught me countless valuable life lessons and given me a completely different outlook on life.  I know no one who embodies unconditional love the way that Luke does.

3. Erskine
Though originally I had no intention of going to Erskine (who wants to attend college where her sister goes?!), I am so glad that God led me here.  I have learned so much, been challenged in ways I never expected. made amazing friends, travelled so many fun places, gained valuable life lessons and mentors, and become more certain of the path which God desires me to follow.

4. St Andrews
St Andrews CastleJust as Erskine has shaped me and changed me for the better, my study abroad experience is probably the single experience of my life that has most helped me to realize who I am and gain confidence in myself.  I left last January knowing not a single person, and left 1 June with scores of great friends and countless life-changing experiences.  I have a stronger faith and a different perspective of the world from studying in Scotland and travelling around Europe.  Of course, I now have what feels like an insatiable desire for travel and adventure…I am so excited to see what my next opportunity will be!

5. Singing
I by no means have the best voice in the world, but I truly love singing and that voice that God DID give me has allowed me the opportunity to be involved in so many different choral ensembles, from my church choir to high school chorus and show choir to several groups at Erskine.  I am a veteran member of the Erskine Choraleers and have also sang with Bella Voce and the Chamber Singers.  I am grateful for the ministry that music provides in my personal life as well as the opportunity to use music as my ministry in church.

the finale pose from my sister's senior music project, "All That Jazz." (photo by Whitney Adkins)

the finale pose from my sister’s senior music project, “All That Jazz.” (photo by Whitney Adkins)

6. Dance

some of my SwingSoc family from St Andrews--such talented dancers from all across the UK & Europe! (photo by Henry Legg)

some of my SwingSoc family from St Andrews–such talented dancers from all across the UK & Europe! (photo by Henry Legg)

From the time I knew what one was, I wanted to be a ballerina.  When we played dress up as kids, 9 times out of 10 I wore the tutu.  When I was 6 or so years old, we hosted a French exchange student who taught me how to do a pirouette and I practiced until I was too dizzy to walk.  My family moved to SC when I was 8 years old, and within a year I started taking ballet lessons.  I continued for 6 or 7 years, even progressing to learning pointe (yes, dancing on your toes. yes, OUCH).  High school afforded me the opportunity to branch out and learn some different dance forms, as well as the art of singing AND dancing–a.k.a. show choir.  Since I’ve been in college, and especially since studying abroad, I have fallen in love with all things swing dance related: traditional, Charleston, lindy hop, blues…[Speaking of which, if you have never seen the I Charleston St Andrews that we in the St Andrews Swing Dance Society made last year, you should definitely watch it!]
Dance is a part of my heart, a part of who I am and how I relate to the world.  I am grateful for any and every opportunity to practice and share my love.

7. Theatre

with Tillary Blackman ('13) in Arsenic and Old Lace: possibly my favorite scene I've ever acted. (photo by Katie Putnam)

with Tillary Blackman (’13) in Arsenic and Old Lace: possibly my favorite scene I’ve ever acted. (photo by Katie Putnam)

No, I am not going to list every art form that I can possibly think of (though I am definitely grateful for all of them!).  Singing, dancing, and acting, though, are all art forms which I especially love.  I truly enjoy acting on stage, doing tech work or working back stage, and watching performances.  I love the challenge of learning a new character and bringing her/him/it to life, the challenge of improvisation, the chaos of tech week and opening night, the feeling of pride earned by a successful performance.  Long rehearsals test patience, energy, and relationships but ultimately strengthen all of these.  I know that my participation in theatre will only help me in my life.

8. Freedom
Sounds cheesy, or cliché, I know.  But how many countries actively persecute Christians? How many countries severely limit the rights of women?  Yes, we can sit here and debate the meaning and context of the word “freedom,” but I am grateful for the opportunities that growing up in the United States has afforded me.

9. Sleep
If college has taught me anything, it is the value of sleep.  I think back now to when I hated going to bed as a child, or when I used to wake up at 4AM and go to the basement to read or play by myself while everyone else slept.  The 22-year-old me wants to ask the 6-year-old me, “WHY?!”  It is so easy to make other things a higher priority than sleep, but it really is essential to proper functioning and good moods.  I truly am grateful for the times that I get a good/full night’s sleep.  Nap time, anyone…?

10. Food
Along the same lines, who doesn’t like food?  It’s delicious.  It’s satisfying.  It’s strengthening.  It makes you feel happy, body and soul.  Nothing says home and love like Mom’s home-cooked dinner.  Food is a common denominator of our social gatherings.  Food encompasses culture, tradition, seasons, memories, creativity (yeah, that art thing again…), nature, and love.  Though I cannot say that I love every food I have ever tried, food is definitely one of the ways I know for a fact that God loves us.

11. Social Media
“Aha! Another Facebook addict!”  I know you’re thinking it. Yes, you.  And perhaps I am slightly guilty as charged, though I’m working on it.  While realizing the importance of maintaining a healthy balance, I do believe that most of these platforms can be very useful.  My primary use for Facebook is staying in contact with all of my friends from abroad and all over the United States.  We are using Pinterest as a common space to plan my sister’s bridal shower, and I use it to collect articles and information relevant to psychology and therapy.  I get the majority of my world news from Twitter.  Everything in moderation, but I really am grateful for these connections.

Odd place to stop for the day, but I’m halfway and this is quite a long post.  So…stay tuned tomorrow for part II! [I seem to like multi-part posts.]  Until then, I’d love some feedback!  Do you agree with some of the points that I made? Do you disagree with any? What are you most grateful for today?  What am I forgetting? How cute is my little brother? [Correct answer: the cutest!]

In Christ,
Christine