I love Spokane. I loved the changing leaves and I love the pure white snow on the ground. I love the people. I love my school. I love the new things I'm doing. I love my new home.
I say "home" in reference to my apartment, but it's not HOME.
Home has a hound dog with sad eyes and two Jack Russells. Home has a sister who rearranges her room monthly and a taller younger brother with a man-voice. Home has a dad with a "waffle dance" and a mom who stays up till 4am just talking with us. Home has brick floors and a view of the marsh. Home has had one white Christmas, 20 years ago. Home has grandparents and people I've known since I was a baby. Home has fresh seafood and rednecks. Home has the beach and the Sands and the waterfront. Home is salty and humid. Home has random parties with dancing in the backyard and for music, someone's car pulled up with the stereo really loud. Home has a riding lawnmower that's older than I am. Home has a Night on the Town in December and a Water Festival in the summer. Home has the best potato salad ever, sweet tea and Frogmore Stew. Home has kayaking and jumping off Granddaddy's dock. Home has the best downtown ever, even though there's not much to it.
Home to me is not Spokane. When I say home, I really do mean Beaufort.
Praise the Lord! I will givethanks to the LORD with all my heart,In the company of the upright and in the assembly. Psalm 111:1
I am so thankful today. I miss my family very much and I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for the "family" here, the brothers and sisters in this apartment and the one above me, three of whom I'm feasting with today (everyone else went home). I'm thankful that I'm out here in Washington and that I know that God has me here. I'm thankful for school. I love our little set-up in the church and that I know just about everyone. I'm thankful that I will be home in two weeks and two days. I'm thankful for cold weather, and the tiny bit of snowfall on Tuesday (yes! it snowed! and then it rained but I'm still thankful for snow!) I'm thankful that Haley is out here too and that she has such an amazing, encouraging heart. I'm thankful for my roommates who cooperate when I make them make turkeys. I'm thankful for my roommate to be, Erica, who has such an enthusiasm from her that it's so obvious who her joy is in :) I'm thankful for swing-dancing and crazy dancing with Molly. I'm thankful for my grandparents who I'm missing a lot and can't wait to see very soon! I'm thankful for real sisters and brothers... Scott and Becca. I'm thankful for so many puppies at home. I'm thankful for friends at home who send letters and emails and Facebook wall posts. I'm thankful for friends who make plans for break and take squish pictures over Skype and for friends who call weekly just to say hey. I'm thankful for friends here who give me rides and study really hard for tests with me and invite me to have Thanksgiving with them so I won't be alone. I'm thankful that I don't really have any needs. The right amount of money always seems to come in just when I can't pay rent or need food. I really can't say enough about that.
For all these things and more things I can't think of right now, I thank God. He has blessed me so much!
An outdoor rink... never done that before. It was 29 degrees outside so we layered like crazy. Ten of us went... the boys upstairs, us girls downstairs, Erica (the roommate to be) and Haley. Haley didn't skate so I don't really have pictures of her :( It was cold but so much fun! Also, it snowed. Just a little bit and then it rained and then there was sleet but it HAS now snowed in Spokane.
The roomies and Erica!
Just about everyone... except Dustin (he kinda tore his pants and had to go home): (Mom said I needed to post...)
We went up to Mount Spokane to see snow today! As we drove up the mountain, we started to see a little snow on the side of the road, then a little more, then a whole bunch! We stopped to throw snowballs.
First time holding/touching snow. Very exciting.
We got back in the car and went to find some "good snow". In my opinion, any snow was good, but THIS is what they meant:
A little winter wonderland :)
Then we built a snowman. It was good snow for snowboarding, but not so good for snowman building (Skyler is an expert on all things cold-weather) so we made a midget snowman, just the base and head. The snowman was also redheaded, having accidentally landed in too much pinestraw... this is why he is pictured with the other two redheads. We took a picture to remember him because he is no longer with us: Skyler thought it would be fun to dropkick his head off. The rest of his body was thrown down a hill.
The snow was fun. It was amazing. The air wasn't as cold as I expected but after a couple hours of walking through the snow and playing in it, we realized that we were not only freezing cold, but also wet. My clothes were soaked from not knowing how to walk in snow (in other words, slipping and falling) and from making the snowman.
I definitely now love snow but I am very thankful for warm showers :)
Just thought I'd write a little bit about what's going on... pretty much just dates with friends and roomies... and school! It's not very exciting, but it is more exciting than it sounds. I really do like my school and I do enjoy the bus (there are some interesting people that ride those things!), checking my box at school, cheering on air hockey tournaments in the lounge, and all the other things that I do regularly.
This is what a typical College Writing class looks like during break. Papers are everywhere and at least one person is sleeping (that class is at 7:45).
You may be pleased to know that Haley and I had our second date since we've been out here. We realized as we sat at the table in the cutest coffee shop ever that two times in three months is not good. We barely see each other but are making an effort. Since this picture was taken (two weeks ago, during Missions Conference week), we have gotten together once and have plans to get together this coming week for ice skating!
Remember Charles from a few days ago? The mail came today and apparently, he's not as imaginary as we thought! Molly and I found it very funny that a real Charles apparently did live here at one time.
The homework load is steadily growing. Our professors know how much we love to write papers and study for exams and have graciously given us more assignments than we think we can bear. I have a group project for Bible Intro due the week after Thanksgiving (can't wait for our presentation... we really do have good ideas). I just wrote a paper on Behaviorism for today's Psychology class, probably the most stressful paper I have ever written. Next on my paper list is one about the debate over the King James Version being the only inspired version of the Bible for Bible Intro. Then I'll have an Apostolic Church Planting Principles paper for Acts. I have a cause and effect on world hunger due this week for College Writing but that won't be hard - we have papers every week and they're short. After all the papers have been marked in red and graded, I'll study for finals. Three weeks left!
To end on a happy note (homework is not a happy thing), here's a picture of Amanda and I. The other girls were at Bible Studies for their churches the other night so we left the house to do our own thing. Had a nice little date.
Other things: Please send mail. All we got today was the utility bill and that letter for Cha(r)les. That was the first mail in four days. I can see snow from my house but it is not snowing at my house. Mount Spokane is covered in snow. I am saddened by this. My Thanksgiving plans are not exciting: There will be only four of us out of the eight in my apartment and the one above me - Skyler, Danny, Amanda, and Me. (Molly will at home in AZ, Maddie will be in Kansas with family for her sister's volleyball tourney, Nick will be in Michigan with family, and Dustin won't be leaving Spokane at all... he was invited to someone's house for the day) Since we do nothing in a well planned manner, we have just a general idea of what we'll be eating: turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and probably a couple other things. This will be way too much food for four people but that's okay with us. I'm thankful for socks. And for boots. And for anything in general that keeps me warm.
Oh... and I come home in 22 days - three weeks from tomorrow!
(this picture was taken I sent my first application to Moody, November 2006)
"I don't know why I'm here" she said, wiping away tears.
Neither do I, I thought quietly to myself.
"I just want God to tell me and He WON'T!"
I know! I wish I knew!
He does have a plan. It's higher than I can imagine. It's beyond my comprehension. Sometimes I'm not okay with that. Most of the time I say I am, I say I'm trusting. I put on that strong Christian smile and pat people on the head and tell them to just trust. Who am I kidding anyway?
Nobody just trusts. As I've heard the stories of how people got out here, I've become more and more certain that trust is something that doesn't come naturally. We've all learned about it in some way or another during this whole Moody experience. People who were deferred and had to wait a few months more to find out. People who got accepted two weeks before school started. People who didn't have a place to stay when they came here. People living on rice for a week.
I think the problem really is that we don't stop as often as we should. Seriously. When I was talking to my friend on the stairs today, it required me to stop instead of passing by. It required me to take a deep breath and ask God what I should say to help her out. I realized today that I don't stop nearly enough to think about what God is doing in other people or in myself.
I've really heard a lot of neat stories since I've been out here. The guy who gave me a ride to school who got saved at Bible school in New Zealand of all places, the person who didn't have enough money to pay her rent and almost went home when someone randomly put $100 in her box. I don't know everyone at my school but the stories I have heard make me realize the amount of amazing testimonies out there of God's providence.
Those stories make me stop and think for a minute before heading to class or to check my box in the computer lab. I'm in awe of God for about two seconds before I rush to find out the grade on my midterm. I say "God, why am I here?" when my grades aren't looking so great and when I have a rather crushing paper coming up.
I got home from school today, overwhelmed by the Psychology paper due tomorrow, the exam I need to take over the weekend, the homework for Tuesday that I've only glanced at. I wrote about a page of my paper before I had to stop. I wasn't at a loss for words, but something made me go back to my old blog to read what God had done.
Two years ago (it doesn't seem like it's been that long) I had the biggest test of my faith yet. I thought I was going to some Bible school in Chicago. I didn't get it. I was told flat out that I shouldn't re-apply. I did school online for a year. I reapplied the following year, pretty sure that God was leading me to do so. I didn't get accepted to the school in Chicago; I got accepted to its branch in Spokane, Washington. Otherwise known as the other side of the world. I went. I thought about it in chapel today. That I'm here. I'm in Washington, studying the Bible.
Moody isn't the best thing that ever happened to me. As I read my posts from the past year, I realized that the past few years have been some of the best ever. They have been hard. They have been challenging but so great. Instead of last year being really terrible like I thought it would be, I loved it. I loved my Junior High girls, my Frontlines girls, my friends, my family, going through the Old and New Testaments, learned so much more than I thought I would about God's Word, about myself, and about who He is. Being there prepared me for being here.
When I stopped to consider where I had been I remembered where I was going. The words of Dr. McMath on Orientation Day still ring in my ears "You were born to be here". I see the truth in those words again. When I look back and then to the present I see the purpose in God's plan. It makes me really excited and really ready for whatever will happen next. I don't know if I will be in Spokane or Chicago or Beaufort next year at this time but I know that this year, even this semester, has prepared me in some way for what will happen next.
"God wants you know know why you're here" I said. "He knows why you're here and has a plan for it. I'm sure of it; I've seen it in my own life. He's not ready to show you though. He's getting you ready to see what He has planned. Satan wants you to miss out. He wants you to doubt. Trust God to show you His plan. I know it's good."
Let me introduce you to Charles. Charles is the house ghost for Apartment 767. "He" is slightly fictional in that he does not really exist. You see, Charles comes and goes at will. We know he has visited our apartment because he leaves lights on in rooms he's just left even though there's no one in them! He leaves clothes on the floor and dirty dishes in the sink. It's a mystery to us.
Charles was created by Maddie and Molly a few weeks ago. [Our utility bill had come and was higher than we had hoped so we made some rules to hopefully have a smaller bill this month. Changes like turning off lights when we leave the room, washing the "big stuff" by hand instead of putting it in the dishwasher so we don't have to run it so much, shorter showers...] One of our roommates insisted that she turned the lights off after herself when she left the room. So it was concluded that since she was turning lights off, and they somehow managed to be on after she left a room we must have some kind of ghost in our midst. Thus Charles the house ghost was born. We don't pronounce the "r"... it's "Chawles"... said in a southern drawl.
As I write this, Charles has just left the lights on in Maddie and Amanda's bathroom and dishes he's used have been discovered piled up in the sink. That silly ghost.
Lately, I've been thinking about the meaning of the word redemption. I've been thinking about the Cross. I've been thinking about what it means to be a disciple, and to disciple others. I've been thinking about what it means to be in the world yet not of it.
Lately, I've been rethinking a lot of things. And writing a little story about one of them. Maybe I'll post it soon.
With the borrowed GPS set and the bags in the trunk, we left Spokane at 7:00 on Friday morning, groggy but ready to have an adventure! We were heading for Molly's brother's apartment in Seattle. We had a great little trip there, exploring and being tourists (it was odd when people asked where we were visiting from and we said "Spokane"...). And believe it or not, it didn't rain. Friday had a cloud cover and wasn't pretty but Saturday was gorgeous and sunny.
We were on I-90 for a long time. What we found most interesting about the drive was that it began hilly then settled into flat farm country before suddenly breaking into mountain ranges.
We saw snow on the mountains from a distance while in farm country:
And then we skipped ahead to Seattle. Here's the Space Needle. We didn't go up it (too expensive) but we did go into the arcade right next to it where Molly and Skyler had a mean air hockey game and Skyler and AJ killed at DDR.
Then we walked downtown and visited Pike Place Market:
Found this interesting cutout. Molly is an asparagus and Skyler's a corn cob:
Starbucks was born in Seattle, so we had to visit the original one!
AJ and Molly:
Molly and I:
In the summer, they throw the fish around here... but I guess it's just too cold this time of year (it is usually warmer than Spokane is though, in case you wondered)
We got frozen pizza and soda, rented a movie and went back to AJ's house for the night. No pictures because how exciting would pictures of us eating be, anyway?
In the morning, we got up, got ready and went downtown for more exploration. We went to Top Pot for doughnuts - really good!
Then we got on the ferry to go to Bainbridge Island. We were the very last ones on and made it as they were shutting the gate... look at the mountains!
It was very windy, so get ready to see some funny hair pictures.
Skyler, AJ, Molly and I with Seattle in the background
As always on boats, a reference was made to Titanic and Molly posed :)
The very cold tourists:
On the way back (nope, didn't take any pictures at our destination), the day was clear and sunny enough to see Mt. Rainer (about 200 miles away) in the distance. It was HUGE!
And that's it, actually... except for this last picture of fresh produce in Pike Place. Molly and AJ went off to have brother-sister time and left the rest of us to explore. More Starbucks and more Pike Place.
We left Seattle after dinner. I was quite tired and slept for 2.5 hours of the journey home. Apparently I slept like a rock because they kept turning up the bass and choosing loud music to wake me up and I don't recall a thing.
Oh, random fact: Seattle is the largest city in Washington and Spokane is the second largest.
Lately I've been thinking of reasons why I'm thankful. If it has anything to do with Thanksgiving, I promise that it's totally unconscious! I wish I'd thought of it though... it would have been a really good idea to use the month of November from beginning to end for thankfulness. Oh well.
Today, I'm thankful for...
Missions Conference (today and yesterday)
The call to go out into the world
Encouragement of Haley
Not caring what food tastes like if it's free
Brothers: biological, non-biological, here in Spokane and those from Beaufort :)
Free rides instead of the bus (thank you Scott!)
A nice little chat with Amanda in the student lounge
The roommate day we're having tomorrow
Mom worrying more about the dogs and her sick "baby" than herself
Mercy and grace of God
People who have served our country (it's Veteran's Day - I'd had no idea!)
People around me who are being light (like the person who told me last night how they were just absolutely in love with the Savior - still so excited about that)
Contentment even though all these relationships are popping up everywhere.
Being able to say to the person who reminds me that we'll be back in a certain classroom on Friday for Psych: "No David, I'm skipping class this week!" and realizing that means that I'll have one class this week and it's one of my favorites :)
One month and two days until I see people from Beaufort.
Having two places that I refer to as "home" but knowing that neither are actually permanent.
Continued reminders to put all of me into Him and knowing that it means I don't have to worry.
Sadly, I'm not thankful about one thing and that's that the leaves on the trees are no more... "Fall" as I've known it over the past few months is over... can't play in the leaves anymore! Snow has been spotted in every area around us but Spokane. This is happy but while we're in the in between stage, bare trees are rather ugly. So I'm thankful that I took so many pictures while the leaves were pretty :)
This is Blonde Roommate, Madeline. Maddie is our vibrant, dramatic, extroverted roommate. She's exactly one year younger than I, loves deep purple, sings country music around the house, paces the floor while on the phone, is a Compassion Ministries major (counseling)...
Well, tonight, Madeline told us that she's not going to be our roomie next semester. She loves us very much but got accepted to Moody Chicago for the Spring! We're very excited for her but also quite sad. We'll be pretending to be more happy for her over showing our sadness in her leaving. I'll be excited to have her show me around the city next fall and I can't wait to hear about all her adventures there!
(We are in the process of choosing a replacement roommate, even though we know Maddie can't be replaced for real. There's a great girl in mind and we've already contacted her [we aren't heartless - we started thinking through this when Maddie reapplied a few months ago]. She should be letting us know this week.)
As of Tuesday night, Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States. Wow.
I don't remember watching the last election so I'm not really sure what was going through my head as each state slowly closed polling places and changed from gray to red or blue but I was right in front of the TV this year, anxiously waiting for the votes to be counted and the verdict to be made. I did my duty absentee-style from my kitchen table and was excited to see if it would make a difference. Red covered quite a few of the states but not enough. Before the votes from my state, California and the rest of the Pacific Northwest had been counted, it was clear what the outcome would be. As we sat waiting, the words "Obama elected President" flashed onto the screen in red letters. Just like that, it was over. We watched McCain graciously give his speech and calm those who had come to celebrate with him. We listened to commentary on Obama's win. We saw the thousands of screaming people in Chicago, elated at the news.
I didn't vote for Obama. I don't really like him as a candidate. Regardless of my feelings though, he is going to be our next president. He made history on Tuesday night by becoming the first black man to be elected as president. He isn't the Antichrist (one of my professors wrote a note on facebook proving that if Obama could be considered the Antichrist, so could Barney). He isn't evil (even though I don't agree with him).
He is the man God wanted to lead our country. Christians everywhere prayed about it and if they really knew anything about prayer, they would realize that God did answer their requests. He wasn't shocked at the outcome but knew even before time began that Obama would be the man. I don't think I'll agree with him on many things, and in fact I may be upset at the decisions he makes. Even so, he has been chosen to be my next president. I pray that he will lead this country well and do the things he has promised.
I do hope this country is better at the time of the next election than it is now because of Barack Obama. I hope God blesses him and that he becomes a wonderful thing for the American people, not just a public icon.
I woke up Monday morning to the smell of something cooking. Maddie made breakfast in bed for Molly's nineteenth birthday! She even spelled her name out in cinnamon and vanilla pancakes... she's highly talented with breakfast food:
I made a birthday sign for the birthday girl:
And right after lunch, Nick and Skyler and I took Molly out for a surprise:
It was such a surprise that she couldn't see where she was going. We told her that we were going four hours away, that we had brought her passport along, that we saw sheep on the road... all sorts of things. She was quite confused.
But in reality, she wasn't going four hours away. It was a little less than an hour, to Coeur d'Alene:
We had to stop to figure out the way:
But we finally got there! A backpacked Molly was completely unaware. We walked her over to the park where she saw this (made on Sunday while she was at church, sneaky sneaky)
The party wasn't very exciting but Skyler had nineteen candles to keep himself entertained:
And we even stole her peanut butter so we could have one of her favorites - peanut butter and Oreos!
Then we went on the playground. Our first stop was the swings:
After the swinging, we played on the playground. It looked like the (Beaufort) downtown playground pre-renovation. We played Lava (it's like tag but you can't touch the ground... you can only get around on the playground equipment) and realized that we should do things like that more often. We decided it totally counted as Lifetime Fitness.
And then we walked down to the lake. We realized firsthand that it is much colder on water than land. We also realized that it would have been intelligent to have checked the weather before leaving Washington. Oops.
And Molly wanted a picture of all of us:
They had lots of metal moose all over the town. We climbed on this one for pictures:
And then she wanted more pictures... so we changed it up a little bit:
We walked around the small downtown, got gas ($2.01!), and got back on the freeway. After our adventure in Idaho, we were very tired. So tired, in fact that I fell asleep on the car ride back to our state. We concluded the evening without pictures, enjoying pizza (a Schwaninger family birthday tradition) and root beer and watching a movie. I hope Molly had a great day because I really loved celebrating it!