In between

This semester has been something.

An adventure.

A growing time.

A semester filled with lessons and maturing experiences. In just over a month I will be leaving Texas for the next four months to study abroad at University of Dallas’s Rome campus in Due Santi (named “The Two Saints” for St. Peter and St. Paul). It’s unbelievable, how close the time comes to fly overseas and explore ancient cities, meet Europeans, and also complete the rest of my Sophomore year.

But this past semester in Irving has been substantially illuminating, in more ways than one. I’m not sure how to put it all together in this post, but summarizing may be the best way to go about it. I took two art classes, Basic Drawing and Digital Media, and in both I learned many helpful skills involving perspective, lighting, photoshop, and design. As far as socializing goes, I enjoyed rooming with two dear friends from Founders, and also getting to know many of my classmates much better.

The course I most enjoyed this semester was Literary Tradition IV (I will take Literary Tradition III in Rome), taught by Dr. Greg Roper, whose explications of the works we read greatly enhanced my understanding of these stories. Out of all the books we read in Lit. Trad. IV, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky truly touched me, moved me with its haunting characters and thread of redemption throughout the work. I cannot stress enough how much this book should be read and reread, for Dostoevsky deflates common schools of thoughts such as nihilism and utilitarianism which in themselves are empty, worthless mindsets. He shows through his troubled character Rodion Raskolnikov the power of the cross and the ultimate grace and mercy of God. It’s a beautiful love story, a narrative of God calling out to a man diseased by sin and pride.

I also took Creative Fiction Writing and collaborated with two of my classmates on a novella, which turned out to be an entertaining and pleasurable. And lastly, I took Western Civilization II, which is part of the UD Core. 🙂

As far as personal drawing and writing goes, I put a great deal of energy into fan art and a bit of gift-art for a friend. For basic drawing I was required to draw something every day of the semester, and I used this as an incentive to draw my favorite fictional characters and couples. Ha. I can’t say much happened in my writing pursuits, sadly. I put most of my energy for fiction into the short story assignment for Literary Tradition IV and Creative Fiction Writing courses. The past two years have been pretty dry, as far as my original stories. I can’t remember the last time I pulled up my documents for Diana and Julian’s story.

Lastly and most importantly, my spiritual walk. Lately, most of my feelings and thoughts concerning my relationship with Christ and understanding of theology has been confused, unsettling, and overall convoluted. I do feel Him leading me, directing me, and I pray to Him as I mull over my doubts and questions. But one huge factor separating me from Him is my preoccupation with Denominations. That is, feeling unsure of where I belong, how I worship Him, and many other issues of doctrine that arise since I feel caught between my Evangelical background and my exposure to the Catholic church. It’s overwhelming and disconcerting, since I’ve lived my whole live believing that my upbringing in a Evangelical Free church is the only necessary precept, complete with enthusiastic praise and worship (using lots of Hillsong music), and a Sola Scriptura approach to theology. When more in-depth theology is addressed during my pastor’s sermons, he makes sure to point it out and even apologize. Whereas, theology and historically grounded doctrine is foundational in the Catholic (and Lutheran) church. In summary, my confusion has sapped a great deal of my joy and enthusiasm for actually listening to God and His call upon my heart. I feel aimless, directionless, completely stuck. I would appreciate any prayers from my readership on this blog.

Expect to see another post brimming with ridiculous, sketchy drawings that may or may not involve my recent obsession, Star Wars, cuz I’m a nerd. 😉

Memories from Freshman Year at University of Dallas

(Scroll down past the photos 🙂 )

In honor of my Sophomore year of college beginning in three weeks, I thought I’d write about Freshman year, because of nostalgia.

  • First few days of orientation, feeling a bit nervous but also that kind of butterflies-in-my-stomach excited about what is about to begin, and so totally into being a social creature (like never before lol, I have always thought myself pretty freaking shy and a loner-type)…I dragged my INTJ roommate to a bonfire party by the guys’ dorms and then this barbecue by the Sophomore dorms (West Hall) where we did a pretty good job pretending like outgoing individuals…
  • At that barbecue party some random guys offered one of my friends a rubber duck from a game and stood there being a creep watching her sort of nonplussed reaction.
  • Those days were a blur because we met so many people and did so many things as we tried to do everything advertised by the orientation peeps
  • But by the time the scavenger hunt around campus came on Monday (we got there on Friday), my roommate and I decided to hide from everyone and skulk around, watching people go on the scavenger hunt XD
  • Our introvert side won out I suppose
  • I love the memory of the ice cream social just before classes began, and I lost my roomie in the crowd so I tried to be brave and socialized with some Senior guys (which was a whole new thing for me, being a loner homeschooling girl and all)
  • First day of classes, Wednesday, was pretty much dizzying and I can barely remember it except for meeting various classmates throughout the day, like in Art History, my first class, and my heart racing as the lights dimmed and our professor did roll call
  • That semester was a wonderful daydream and nightmare mixed together, trying to figure out how to adult, how to study efficiently, how to go about prepping for midterms and finals and figure out the whole Latin class thing, with our hilarious dear teacher who didn’t like using the textbook so went with a bunch of random stories about Ancient Rome
  • My professor for Literary Tradition I was Father Maguire, a wonderful man who would ask us about which Greek god we would choose to be, or marry…lol
  • And attending mass at Cistercian Abbey for the first time, my alarm clock went off in the middle of mass and the monks stopped chanting to look at me D:
  • Waking up at 5 in the morning and crossing under the freeway to get to the Abbey for that mass :O
  • Seeing a Dominican monk in all the robes that order wears, I probably looked like somebody had shot me with a water gun or something…
  • Running down the UD mall after the first dance at UD, glad to escape my heels
  • Having amazing discussions at night, or any time of the day, with Hannah about everything, and I mean EVERYTHING–theology, philosophy, our day, classes, the Cistercians…so wonderful ❤
  • Our dorm, the setup we had, it was perfect! Our own little space, our overflow of books, our complementing color schemes and bed coverlets!
  • Visiting Raj who ran the gas station across the street from UD, and buying snacks for the night 😀
  • Seeing the Dallas skyline from the “hill” on which UD is situated
  • The UD tower lit up at night, which made for many fantastic photo opts.
  • Finding the park near campus for the first time, with its adorable bridge and baby ducks and perfect climbing trees
  • hearing an organ in Mass (or in my life) for the first time!
  • Attending Sunday Night worship in the Church of the Incarnation for the first time and being absolutely blown away by the quiet and reverent beauty of it
  • Attending TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday) down in the Rathskeller, the basement dining area in the Haggar Center, which was a riotous event
  • Basically a lot of music, drinking, smoking, and themes for every Thursday night
  • The Cafeteria, where many an amusing hour was spent in deep discussion, people-watching, and food-loving
  • UD food is pretty good, tbh
  • Knowing that Brigid Vaughn, aka Burdge on Tumblr, attended UD and graduated a year ago from this school. She’s my art idol and her blog and drawings give me life
  • Seeing her senior studio work and her actual studio in the Art Village, and freaking out because IT’S BURDGE
  • Swing dancing for the first time in the cafeteria with the swing club, dancing to Marvin Gaye, Shut Up and Dance, Dear Future Husband, among other splendid choices 😉
  • The Capp Bar–modeled after the Cappuccino Bar at the UD Rome Campus
  • sitting in there with my mac and homework and people-watching, simply full of joy that UD is my school
  • The Library–three glorious stories of books, plus the periodicals, which became our favorite place during the Spring Semester
  • Sneaking around said Library, checking out all the spots for potential studying, and just enjoying the general atmosphere of being surrounded by books
  • The Art Village, so mysterious and set apart from everything else, with its unique architecture and the various studios, and sculptures scattered about by art students 🙂
  • I LOVE THE ART VILLAGE
  • Songs that remind me of Freshman year: Cecilia and the Satellite by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness , Marvin Gaye by Charlie Puth, Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon, anything by Mumford and Sons, Howl’s Moving Castle soundtrack, Hans Zimmer music, Pompeii by Bastille, Passion Pit, Thunderstruck by Owl City, 2 Heads by Coleman Hill, Safe and Sound by Capital Cities, Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots, Blow Away by A Fine Frenzy, Midnight City by M83, Paris by Magic Man, Concert Pitch by Empire of the Sun, and French Navy by Camera Obscura (most of them found on Burdge’s spotify, her music taste is amazing)….and it fits the UD aesthetic
  • late night walks around UD
  • music on the mall, with the wonderful music blaring out across campus, making my DAY

Farewell Freshman year as [mostly] told in pictures

Spent a week in a dusty library
Waiting for some words to jump at me
We met by a trick of fate
French navy my sailor mate
We met by the moon on a silvery lake
You came my way
Said, I want you to stay

-“French Navy” by Camera Obscura

For some reason these lyrics remind me of this semester. Of everything that has happened since August last fall. That song reminds me of the times I had with my wonderful friends and the various adventures we went on, the discoveries we made together. And I wish it wasn’t over, I wish we were just starting again. My first year at UD as an undergrad Freshman showed me a very different world, a place to be challenged by your teachers as well as your friends, to engage in discussions and look for stories every day in conversations, experiences, classes…Yes, I want this year to stay, to go in reverse so it can be relived. But too often I yearn for the past when it is the future that promises the most, the future that can change you the most if actually let it.

I would’t change anything, if I could. I did things I regret, I made mistakes, I tripped and struggled to keep going sometimes. But I learned so much, about people, change, friendship and especially theology…God. Doubt dropped away and instead what I learned directed me to seek answers and explanations and to turn myself inside out to focus on Him.

So, I shall tell of this year with the visual aid of photos…

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freedom OF religion or freedom FROM religion? That is the question.

Followers, I’d appreciate your thoughts! This is a small essay I wrote for school!

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (The First Amendment of the Constitution)

            Many modern Americans desire to paraphrase this amendment and claim that this amendment completely separates the church from the state, in order to support their belief that religion should be completely annihilated from society and government. Unfortunately for them, the first amendment states that Congress cannot establish a religion, but it was not written with the intent of pushing the church out the door. This amendment was written by our Founding Fathers with their forefathers in mind—the people such as Pilgrims who crossed the sea and settled at Plymouth in order to escape the oppression of King James, who established his own church of England to the exclusion of those who practiced their own set of Christian beliefs. His establishment of religion infringed on the personal rights of other believers who did not agree exactly with the king’s theology, thus forcing them to flee their homes in England and settle in the new world.

However, the meaning of this amendment has been warped by those who seek to eradicate the Church altogether.

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No place I’d rather be

Screenshot_2015-04-21-13-04-23I stared out the window, at the same time paying attention to the vibrant chatter of my sister and best friends, the twins Megan and Kayla. The four of us rode in their small white car on the highway circling round the Puget Sound to a small town across the Sound from Seattle. Towering trees filled the landscape and hills dominated the vista. In the far distance I could distinguish a ridge of white-tipped mountains. Adrenaline surged through each of us, the combined joy of being together at last, and the prospect of an evening on our own, going out to eat and then hanging out to giggle about attractive guys and a miscellany of other subjects. How different I felt from the past few visits, the past few years of estrangement and distance and scattered communication. Even stranger it seemed that here we were, on our own, spending time together in Seattle, whereas a few years ago we had said goodbye, on the cusp of our high-school years. Now we were juniors in high school, applying to our choice universities and preparing to step into the wide world. The radio boomed the song, “Rather Be”, and the lyrics couldn’t have been more fitting.

With every step we take, Kyoto to The Bay
Strolling so casually
We’re different and the same, gave you another name
Switch up the batteries

 

If you gave me a chance I would take it
It’s a shot in the dark but I’ll make it
Know with all of your heart, you can’t shame me
When I am with you, there’s no place I’d rather be

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Left to right: Megan, me, my sister Abigail, and Kayla

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Mount Rainier

There’s no place I’d rather be . . . those words echoed in my mind as I reflected on how much this time together meant. True, my sister Abby and I lived in Texas. Our respective colleges are located in Texas, while Megan and Kayla live in Washington, and plan on attending universities there. Honestly, I couldn’t, and still can’t, help but think how different it all is. Before, I would have balked against change, I would have hung back and tried to escape in my head, unwilling to face the reality of having to say goodbye after every visit with these dear friends. I would rather push them away instead of embracing the time we could spend with them. Sad, but true. And then the denial would set in. It’s fine that we no longer live close to each other. I don’t really fit with them as close friends. It’s better like this. We’re too different. Different kinds of lives, friends, interests—everything! Those processing sessions always ended with a shrug and a ‘whatever.’ I had developed a way to cope with the major change, when my best friends since the age of five had moved in eighth grade to the Northwest. It seemed easier than dealing with the pain. Sure, we’ve shared in traumatic physical pain—Megan and I had been in a terrifying boat accident when we were six. The four of us will always remember that harrowing time, and even when I tried to push away, those memories of the accident and how we came out of it together with our families united will never leave

So, we cruised down the highway towards the small coastal town with small shops and restaurants and neighborhoods. We walked into a Mexican restaurant, laughing and talking rapturously. And, I think it really began to hit me how much I loved it, how much I loved us together. True, the four of us exhibit vividly unique personalities. And that’s what makes the four of us so magnetic, it’s how we click. And the more I embrace this fact, the more I can appreciate how enjoyable these visits can be.

Friendship is not about how many interests two people share in common—rather, it is a rich background of shared experiences and emotions.