Open the Eyes of My Heart

So recently I did a ‘How to’ post on how to survive a modular course in college, but today I wanted to talk about a more serious side of my Modular course where my eyes were really opened to God’s work in my life. This really impacted me when my eyes were opened to an absence in my life.

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So the week of February 28th/March I took a modular course called Hebrew Poetry and Wisdom and through it, God opened my mind and my heart to the realization that I didn’t and don’t know as much of the bible as I thought.

That hit me HARD.

I mean, in the first place, I’ve never really been someone who has boasted on their knowledge of the Bible and perfect relationship with God but I definitely thought I knew more than I did.

This course I took went over Old Testament Hebrew Poetry and Wisdom Literature (hence the name.) which were the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Songs of Solomon. Taking this course made me realize how little I knew in general but out of the five books of the Bible we looked at I have only for sure, as far as my memory serves me, read ONE of them to completion.

ONE. 

Up until coming to school I realized how much of the Bible had gone unread by myself. Even now there is still so much of the Old Testament I haven’t read and even more of the New.

With this realization I was left shocked. I, someone who grew up in a christian home and attending church regularly thought I knew all there is to know about God and the Bible but I was proved wrong.

Put in my place.
Hit in the face by my own lack of knowledge – my own ignorance to this fact.

From there I realized how much I’ve been missing these hints from God that I need to be spending more time with Him and in His word. That being at Bible College is going to teach me things bit if I don’t know God and what His word says, then what is the point?

I strongly encourage you to sit back and take time with God. Talk to Him. Ask Him to reveal to you what you know or don’t know. Grow in Him. Grow in His word. Run to Him with arms wide open and dive into His love -gain knowledge and understanding in Him.  It’s not always going to be easy and there may be days where it’s not going to be easy or you won’t want to take that time in your schedule to dive in God’s word (trust me, I know. I get that sometimes) but in the end I assure you it will be SO rewarding.

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How to Survive a Modular Course

For those of you who don’t know, Modular Courses are essentially a semester long college course condensed into five days of classes. So instead of taking a reading week break I decided I’d be one of the crazy people who would take one of these courses. Because I took one of these courses I wanted to make a list on how to survive one of these courses and get the most out of it!

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I also want to note two things before I start. 1) In regards to Mod courses, the one I took was easier in workload (assignment and reading wise) than most. and 2.) All professors teach different and approach mod courses differently so I will talk specifically about some things in my class that may not happen in your course should you take one.

NOW. With that said, lets start the post!

How to Survive a Mod Course in 7(ish) Steps

  1. Take time beforehand to do any prep work

It is SO important to make sure you do any required reading needed before classes start (if any) and any assignments that might be due the first day of classes. On top of that take a few minute to look over the course syllabus and familiarize yourself with what will be required of you in the course.

 

        1.5. But also be sure to take some downtime you are going to need before classes start.

This is also important. Give yourself time to do any preparation work, of course, but also take time to relax before your mod course if you can because if you are taking a mod it is a semesters amount of material in a week so that means LONG days in a classroom and lots of learning to be done. So don’t exhaust yourself before the course even begins!

 

2. Make sure you show up to class prepared!

Obviously you will need some pens or pencils as well as paper or a laptop to take notes (i personally find it better for me to focus if I’m writing my notes on paper) Though even if you do write notes on paper bring your laptop if your professor has made the powerpoint slides they will be using for the class available to you so you can follow along that way or if you are slower at writing it will be great to keep up with the slides and note taking while going at your own pace and not being too rushed either. This also is solely dependent on the class but you may also need to bring your bible with you. I attend a bible college and this course was specifically studying books of the bible so thats kind of important. Which leads to a quote from my roommate and her words of wisdom: “Bring your bible. Even if it’s not a biblical course, because you need to pray to Jesus to make it through.”

 

3. Bring Munchies and a Water-bottle

For my mod course we were in class from 8:30AM until 4-4:45PM daily (with a 1 hour lunch break) and I’m someone who loves her snacks so if you are like me make sure you bring something to munch on. The healthier the better but I mean whatever you want, go for it. But yes. Snacks and water are a must because its a long day.

 

3.5. Also coffee/tea and energy drinks will be your friend

On top of bringing water every morning to class I had either tea, coffee, or a red bull with me to keep me awake… which leads me to my next point.

 

4. SLEEP IS IMPORTANT

This is solely going to be a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” because honestly I was up until around 1-2AM each night this week watching Ouran High School Host Club so please don’t do that and PLEASE get sleep. Sleep is going to help you so much with being attentive and awake during your classes.

 

5. Dress Comfortably

I cannot stress this enough! You will be in a classroom ALL day and not moving much so dress comfortably.

 

6. Take Time to Study

I know, I know. I’m sure the last thing you want to do is study after being in a class all day but if your class was like mine where at the beginning of each class there was a quiz on the last day’s lecture then you are going to want to study for that quiz.

 

7. Have fun!

Think of it this way, the course only lasts a week and even though it might be a lot of work just have fun with it! Enjoy the opportunity to learn! I found that not allowing myself to stress over the course that I came to really enjoy the course and learn so many things I didn’t know before.

 

Sometimes You Gotta Refocus…

Rethink.

Refocus.

Move Forward.

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So I have some more guest posts coming in the next week or two but I thought I should pop in and share some thoughts with you as well as a verse of encouragment. As I’ve mentioned a little bit here and there, this year I really focused on upgrading some high school courses so I could attend college this fall and I have arrived! But with that, I want to talk about focus and priorities.

Reaching your goals takes a lot of doing what you don’t feel like doing and also hard times. And when that happens, sometimes you’ve gotta refocus. I really learned that over the last year as I had to buckle down and do work I didn’t want to do and meet deadlines that feel almost impossible to meet. As I sit here at college having survived the first week of classes I’m realizing that it’s all the same as before. Slightly harder work and lots of it but still the same. And in those moments of stress and frustration when I feel like I’m drowning in all I have to do I’ve had to learn to stop, take a minute or two to just breathe and then reflect about why I’m doing this all and what it’s for. – What the point is behind all this paperwork and daily readings for classes the next day.

Refocus on my goals then move forward knowing that this is not pointless. That there is a plan and final goal in mind.

A long-term plan.

So just remember that if you feel exhausted, or swamped with homework, studies, work or even just life to stop and take a minute to breathe and reflect on what will come from what you are doing right now.

11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13

 

Loving People Like Jesus

Hello there!

I’m so sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. My priorities have been to focus on my upgrades for college and now that those are done it’s a waiting process to get my marks back. Since that’s done I’m hoping to be able to put a bit more of a priority on my blogging and novel writing. But today I’m gonna work on writing up some posts and finishing up ones I started so today my friend Cori has written another guest post so I’ll let her share what she’s written.

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Growing up I learned that people are not always the easiest to love all the time. I was taught that you have to love everyone, even if you don’t like them.

One of the most important commandments is to love your neighbors as yourself. God said that himself. Treat others the way you would want to be treated is something my youth pastor would say often. Although not always the easiest route, it is the way that Jesus lived himself.

Jesus hung out with people that you wouldn’t really expect. He made friends with the liars and cheats. The outcasts. The people nobody wanted to be. I think He did this to set an example for us today. He didn’t have to love on those people. But he chose to show them the love and respect every person needs.

Now that doesn’t mean that Jesus took crap from people either. He would correct them when they were wrong, in a very polite yet clever way most of the time.

Don’t think I’m telling you to hang around a murderer and be best friends with them. But I am telling you to love that person no matter the sins they struggle with because, in the end, his sin is the same as mine. Even if mine seems minuscule in comparison God sees all sin as the same.

When I was in grade school the teachers would always pair the new kids or the weird kids with me because In my house you treated everybody the way you would want to be treated, therefor I was always the nice one in class, even when I didn’t want to be I was paired with them. Now I was a very shy kid. It was pretty hard for me to do this. But I felt the call that God put on my life to follow him at a young age and I knew it was the right thing to do.

There was this one kid who nobody got along with. I’m not gonna share her name but she was a nice kid. Just a bit strange. Once one of my friends asked me why I hung out with her so much. I simply told them that she deserved to have friends too. At the end of the school year, we went our separate ways but her mom came up to me and thanked me for being so nice to this girl. She was a bit hyper and talked A LOT but I did enjoy her company and learned to love her very much.

I wish more kids would give each other a chance rather than judging a book by its cover. It’s so hard for me to see all the bullying and abuse that goes on In schools these days. It’s sad.

I learned pretty young that it’s honestly so rewarding and worth getting to know a person no matter how much they annoy you.

Now I know we aren’t all in grade school here. That was just one example. I have another. Take homeless people for example. I have worked and served homeless people for as long as I can remember. But some people won’t even look in their direction. Some Christians don’t even see them as people.

I’ll never forget the day that I went up to a homeless man and gave him some food and he looked at me with tears in his eyes. He said nobody would even look at him that day. He searches in his bag for a ring he had made and he gave it to me saying that he wishes there were more people like me in this world.

I’ve given people on the streets Christmas presents that haven’t gotten anything for 25 years and they’ve broken down and asked me to watch them open it. It wasn’t much just some essentials and little things and a book but he was so thankful for his gift. He said that maybe there really is a God that loved him all because I treated him like a normal person for a few minutes.

I love these experiences. Ones with people who think they don’t even deserve it anymore. Broken people. I see them as a beautiful creation of God and it’s almost magical seeing these moments.

If people could just open their eyes and see them as people in a bad circumstance the world would be a much more beautiful place. But let’s move on to another example.

Now we’ve all had that one neighbor that everybody hates right? I have anyways. Those people are one of the hardest to love. Just the meanest most annoying people you’ve ever met right? Well God calls us to love even them. I know crazy right?! Well, I know for a fact that Jesus would have gone up to that guy and said: “I love you no matter what the sin you are struggling with.” So we are called to do the same. That’s not always the easy thing to do but sometimes the hard choice is the best choice.

So many times in the Bible the Pharisees would scold Jesus for hanging out with “that guy” like why would a guy like you hang out with a guy like them? Love, that’s the answer. Unconditional unfailing love.

I know these words aren’t really something easy to read but it’s very important. So next time you just can’t stand someone, pray for them. It not only changes them but it changes your heart towards them. I’m not saying you have to like them, but you must love them.

“Lord help me to love like you do. Help me to love my enemy’s and pray for them. Help me to go up to the weird kid and be their friend. I thank you for your love and grace on us. We don’t deserve it but you made us deserve it by dying on the cross for us. Help me to spread love through out the world and shine your light through me. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen”

Thus Begins A New Chapter

As one chapter comes to an end, another begins.

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I feel like this last week has been me adulting like crazy.

I’ve been meeting with some of my best friends.

I’ve been setting up power and internet stuff.

I’ve been buying furniture and dishes.

I’ve been trying to change my cell phone plan to better fit this next step in life and SO much more.

 

Why?

 

Because I’m moving.

Away from home.

To a new job.

With a new apartment.

 

I will still be around and blogging so don’t worry about that 😉 but yeah. I’m moving. I’ve been living with my giant lovable family for 19 years so this is a weird experience for me as I’m also moving 6 hours away from my family. I’m gonna miss them like crazy but I’m thankful for technology so we can talk frequently and stay connected but I’m also so excited.

I’ll  be moving in with me bookworm, writer and nerdy fangirl bestie so that will make the transition a little easier so thats exciting. (Our tea and book collection combined will be envied by all for sure.) I’ll be moving to a new town and away from the nosy people I’ve had major run ins in town this summer. (#villagelife)

But by moving to a new town it means I’ll (once again saying it) be far from my really good friends, my family, and my church family. I know I will meet new people but I know that even when I do, they won’t ever replace the people I have met here.

The people who have impacted and changed my life.

It’s kinda what I’ve been dwelling on but I know that I’m not leaving forever and so my family and my friends who have become my family will see me again. With that I just want to say this:

No matter where you go, your family and friends will still be with you. Their love goes with you wherever you go. SO if you are called to go across the world then go. Or if you are called to move across town then go. If you are called to another town, city, or village, then GO.

Just do it.

Go.

Have fun. Enjoy life and know that as this new chapter in your life begins that the people you know and love go with you in your heart.

Interview- Laura L. Smith

Hello Readers!

Today I am interviewing yet another author and I am pleased to get this opportunity to talk to Laura L. Smith, Author of novels ‘Hot’,’Skinny’, ‘Angry’ and the ‘Status Update Series’

IMG_1920Hi Laura, So great to have you here! Could you tell us a bit about your novel?
It’s Addicting is the third book in the Status Updates series. It revolves around four college roommates and the struggles and triumphs they encounter as they navigate the demands and freedoms of college life.
What inspired you to write ‘insert title’?

I live in a college town and am surrounded by vibrant college women. They are so full of potential, energy and life, yet plagued with so many pressures to perform, to fit in, to juggle school, social and family life. These women inspired me to write this series tackling some of the things they have to deal with like relationships and homesickness, grades and finances, sharing a small living space with new friends and knowing how far is too far. Specifically, It’s Addicting deals with the little things in life we enjoy or use to comfort us or build ourselves up. What happens when those small pleasures become vices? When we rely to heavily on a habit or a relationship or a mindset? When do they cross the line to become addictions that dominate our decision making? And how do we deal with that? It’s Addicting follows Claire, Hannah, Palmer and Kat in their sophomore year of college. It explores the various coping mechanisms and pleasures they seek ranging from exercise to boys and how that changes them. It is a faith-based novel, so it really explores how worldly things can come in conflict with our faith and how challenging it can be to balance living in this world, but not being of this world.

Did you write an outline before writing the novel?
No. I’m not an outline kind of girl. But I always have an idea, a sketch of what the book is going to be about. It’s Addicting had characters, and each of them had a specific “addiction” she was going to deal with long before I started writing it. Since it was the third book in the Status Updates series, several of the ideas evolved as I wrote the first two books, thoughts like, “at some point Claire is going to have to face this,” or “Kat’s going to have to watch how hard she trains. It’s awesome, but it seems to control her sometimes.” I took those ideas and nuances of the characters and started brewing their sophomore year. I had some ideas for a spring break trip, because it’s an integral part of college, and an international travel program to Germany, because all of these books have an international element, but the details come as part of the writing process.

What was the hardest part of writing It’s Addicting? 
I always find the editing process to be the hardest part. It’s difficult to cut scenes or dialogue that I worked so hard to craft. It’s also challenging to add to scenes that I’d hoped were completed. But editing is also so rewarding! It’s like taking a rough, rocky gem from a stream and polishing it until it’s smooth and glossy. Editing truly improves writing. In fact, it is an integral part of the writing process.
Editing is definitely a struggle for me but once I do it it feels great to have finished 🙂 So,I absolutely love the characters in this series meaning I have to ask, what is one way you relate to your main character(s)?
Wow! There are a million ways I relate to all of my characters, and yet, they are also so different than me. There are slices and shreds of me in all of them. I was a ballerina, like Claire. I am a writer, like Palmer. I have a close relationship with my older brother, who is my only sibling, like Kat. Hannah is kind of the “mom” of their group, getting people tea, writing notes on their white board. I actually am a mom, so I do those kinds of things for my family all of the time. I love to travel, and all of the places the characters have ventured are places I’ve visited; Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, the beach. I love chocolate and coffee houses and going for runs and music, and the girls all find themselves doing these things, because these are experiences I want them to have.

That is great! I love how as the writer you are also a little bit of all your characters. 🙂 So,  is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My hope with this novel, with all of my books really, is to remind readers that they are beautiful creations in Christ, that their identity doesn’t have to be wrapped in the world’s expectations, but can be wrapped in Christ, that they are wonderfully and fearfully made by their Creator, and that we need to keep our eyes fixed on that, because when we do, all of our struggles are easier, there is more peace and strength and joy in our lives.
What is one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
God. He is the author of the universe. All of my ideas come from Him. Literally. I’ll be sitting and writing and entire scenes and characters spring forth where there was nothing. He gives me divine inspiration. I write for Him.

Do you have any advice for other writers out there who are looking into publishing or just writing a story in general?
Write. Write. Write. And then write some more. The more you write, the better you get. The more you comment on blogs, write your own blogs, write letters, enter short story contests, write poetry, etc., the more you’ll exercise your writing muscles.

Where can we as readers stalk you on social media? (Pinterest, Goodreads, FB, Blog etc etc.)
Just about every where 🙂
My website and blog are http://www.laurasmithauthor.com
FB https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laura-L-Smith/41514076249
Twitter @LauraLynnSmith
Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/laurasmithbooks/
Instagram http://instagram.com/laurasmithauthor
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5577597.Laura_L_Smith

 

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LAURA L. SMITH, author of New Adult/Young Adult Fiction

Laura L. Smith loves God, her husband, her four children, writing and speaking. She writes real stories for real girls. Her previous books include Skinny, Hot, and Angry. She is a featured columnist at Choose Now Ministries and speaks at schools, churches and campuses around the country. Smith lives in the college town of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.