Senior-itis,

Are any of you other seniors out there experiencing a case of senior-itis yet? I sure am! With the school year coming to a close soon, I am ready to be done with homework and projects! I am ready to enjoy the summer with my family and friends! Senior year is busy, and tiring, and stressful! But in those moments of busyness, tiredness, and stress, try to remember that senior year bring many lasts. Those lasts can sometimes be hard to handle. So in those moments where you are just ready to be done, take time to enjoy the place you are at in your life because very soon, it will be changing! Take advantage of these last weeks with friends before going your separate ways for the summer and enjoy! While this is a time of stress and business, it is also an exciting time. It is exciting because it is the end of one chapter of your life and the beginning of a new one. And even though new chapters can be scary sometimes, they are necessary. Your story wouldn’t go on if you were always in the same chapter. And who wants to read a story like that? I know this year when I have hit times of worry, stress, busyness, and every feeling that comes along with those, I am reminded of the promise that Christ gives me in Jeremiah 29:11. “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.” I am also reminded of this verse: Ecclesiastes 3:1. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” Just like chapters in books can only last a certain time until it is time for them to change, the chapters in our lives can only last a season before it is time for them to change. Take comfort in the fact that that is exactly how God intended it to be! He has a plan far greater than anything we can scheme on our own! Be excited for that plan while still enjoying the season you are in right now! 

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing! 

~Emma

Snow Day!!!!

Ok, Kansas is officially bipolar! Like a week ago I was wearing capris and a t-shirt thinking spring was on its way and now when info outside there are piles of snow as high as my car!!! That being said, I LOVE snow!!!!!!! And after graduation, my fiancée and I (will be husband shortly after graduation) are moving to Los Angeles! This snow is very special to me! I wanted snow so bad this year because I knew that once we left, it would be a while before we saw snow again! Needless to say, I plan on taking every opportunity to play in all this snow! I know it’s silly, but you don’t realize all the little things you take for granted until you know you won’t get to see or experience them for a while! Graduation is right around the corner and after that, lots of things will be changing! That’s when the growing up happens! But, like the weather changes these past few days, life changes are also a good thing! Think about it…Kansas has been in a drought for quite a while! All this moisture will do great things for our ground! But in order for that good thing to come, we have to deal with a little change in the weather! Life is the same way…change is hard, but ultimately, it is a good thing! If you’re stressed or scared or anxious for the changes in your life like I am, try to look at all the good that will come from whatever change is happening! Change can be a good thing; embrace it, don’t run from it! Maybe you’re experiencing a “drought” in your life and God knows that bringing about a change in the “weather” will make all the difference!

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing!

~Emma

Growing Up

Hey all! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas break! Mine was pretty good! For all of you who followed last semester, here’s a little update: my shoulder is doing great and sometimes I even forget I actually had surgery! 

This semester I began my final semester of college. I am student teaching (they call it Clinical Teaching now) this semester. At first I was pretty nervous and a little anxious to start, but so far it has been great! It sure makes me feel more like a grown up, though! 

I have been so incredibly blessed to be placed in the school I am in! My cooperating teacher has been great and my students are little angels (most of the time). I am in a fourth grade classroom in Windom, KS. If you don’t know where that is, don’t worry…no one does! It is about 6 miles East of Little River. But to make up for it’s size, it has the best people on the planet. I have made some great relationships with the other teachers I work with and the principal. It’s really too bad I am moving to California in August, because this is a school I would stay at if I could. 

Starting my second month of teaching this week, I have already learned a lot about having my own classroom. The nerves I had at the beginning have left and I can now focus on being the best teacher I can be for my 4th graders. 

Time sure has flown by, though! I feel like it was just yesterday that I started my student teaching. I can only imagine how quickly the next 3 months are going to go by and then the final month before I get married. Growing up is a bittersweet feeling. While I am excited for the changes coming up in my future, it is also sad to realize that the special times I am having with my friends are short lived and will soon be gone. But I am reminded that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under Heaven. This time is a time I am enjoying and I will cherish! But I also know that this is only for a season and I must make the most of my time here at Sterling because too soon, I will be moving on to a new adventure! 

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing! 

~Emma

Doesn’t it feel good?

As the year comes to a close (soon), I can’t help but feel so much peace about the year. Because of my surgery I am having, I decided to get all my homework done for the semester before my surgery so that after, I could just focus on recovery. (For those of you praying and thinking about me, I sure do appreciate it! My surgery is in two days, Friday the 16th! I am getting a little nervous but also excited about having the problem fixed!) Anyway, I just finished all my work for three of my classes and boy does it feel good!!!!!!!! Slowly, everything is coming to a close! I am so excited and ready for a break and to begin student teaching in January. But at the same time, this is all so bittersweet. My experience at Sterling has been truly remarkable! I have had some amazing opportunities and made some amazing friends and shared some wonderful memories. This is the place I call home and the near close of this semester has me thinking a lot about how fast the time has gone and how fast next semester will go too! Senior year is a year of lasts and sometimes they are just not fun to think about. But what happens after senior year is a lifetime of firsts and new experiences. As I think about this, a particular verse is brought to my mind…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: 
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every purpose under Heaven: a time to be
born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throwaway, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

This just reminds me that God has a purpose in every season of our lives and that not everything is meant to last forever. Because there is a season for everything! 

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing! 

~Emma 

Halfway DONE!!!!

Is anyone else counting down the days until the last day of school???? Well, I sure am!!! This has been such a trying and busy semester and I am more than ready for it to be over (as I am sure a number of you can relate)! 

Along with wanting to be done with school comes the obvious need to actually finish! ;-) So many times I find that I just am not motivated or that I am completely overwhelmed with all I have to do. Being my senior year, I feel this huge stressor that everything I do right now is going to affect everything about my future. If I don’t do this, I won’t make it to this and I won’t graduate and be able to teach! That’s a lot of stress for one person! Because I am kind of a perfectionist and want everything I do to be perfect, this semester has really tested me. But I know that I don’t need to worry! Everything is going to work out and I really truly have nothing to worry about. Sometimes in that state of stress and anxiety, we worry about things we don’t need to worry about; we worry about things that, at any other time, we would have full confidence about. So when you get to that point, remember that worrying will get you no where. God even tells us that in the Bible: 
Matthew 6:25-27
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

He also tells us that when we are stressed and worrying, to bring our troubles and our burdens to Him. 
Matthew 11:28-31
"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing. 

~Emma 

Life Is Crazy

I know I have already said this, but senior year is crazy, but life is even crazier. The past couple weeks, I have been through a lot of adjusting and have tried to make the most out of situations. But I have realized that sometimes life is just hard and it doesn’t always make sense, but God has a plan. 

The past few weeks, I have been dealing with some shoulder pain during volleyball practice. I thought it was just sore so I never really said anything to the trainers about it. Then one day in practice it got really bad and I had to tell my trainer. After a couple of evaluations from a couple of different trainers, I was told it would be in my best interest to get my shoulder looked at by our team doctors because there could be more going on. At that point, I was hoping and really believing that whatever was going on would be something that would be easily fixed and I could finish out the season of volleyball. But what I found out from the doctor was less than pleasing news. After an MRI, they found a partial tear in my right rotator cuff and a full tear in my right labrum. In volleyball player’s terms, that means surgery and no more volleyball. And in my senior year, that was not the kind of news I wanted to get. 

Last Friday was when I got this news and since then, my stress level has been off the charts. I was overwhelmed and angered by the news I had received. Nothing made sense…I couldn’t figure out why God would allow me to be a part of this team just to allow me to get injured so I had to sit out my senior year. Never before in my life have I had to deal with this kind of news and I had (and still have) no idea how to deal with it. But I know God has a plan. I may never know why this had to happen my senior year, but I trust that Go had a purpose. 

On my way home from school on Wednesday for my brother’s wedding, my fiancee and I were listening to a podcast by Stephen Tobolowsky. This particular podcast was about an injury that he incurred. Towards the end of the podcast he said this, “Despite the trauma of an injury, the rewards are great…nothing short of seeing life with new eyes. Therefore an injury does not have to be viewed as catastrophic, but a rare, even divine gift of love.” As I heard this, I remember thinking to myself that that would be my daily mantra, and that if a grown man can make it through an injury far worse than mine, then I too would make it. 

With the help and support from my amazing friends and my wonderful family and fiancee, this time in my life does not have to be a negative thing that defines me or my senior year.  I am not blind to the fact that I will have some major adjustments to make and there will be many more days that I cry and am upset and don’t understand. But I will make it because my Heavenly Father tells me that his plans are not to harm me, but to give me hope and a future.  

Just the other day I heard the song “Strong Enough” by Matthew West on the radio. It brought me to tears, but it also made me realize that I just need to rely on God and intentionally ask him to help me through this time in my life. I don’t know what is going on in your life right now, but God is strong enough! Take a minute to read through these lyrics and try to apply them to whatever you are going through right now. 

"You must think I’m strong, to give me what I’m going through.
Well, forgive me if I’m wrong, but this looks like more than I can do on my own.

I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be.
I give up.
I’m not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me. Lord right now I’m asking you to be strong enough for the both of us.

Maybe that’s the point: to reach the point of giving up.
Cause when I’m finally at rock bottom, that’s when I start looking up, and reaching out.

I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be. 
I give up. 
I’m not strong enough. 
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me. Lord right now I’m asking you to be strong enough for the both of us.

Cause I’m broken, down to nothing, but I’m still holding on to the one thing. You are God and you are strong when I am weak. 

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. And I don’t have to be strong enough.”

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing! 

~Emma

Making Memories

Can you say BUSY??? I sure can! I didn’t realize how busy I would be this semester until it actually started! Between classes, observations, volleyball, and homework, I feel like I have no social life! But I wouldn’t trade any of it because already this year I have made some great memories and had some great adventures. My first great adventure of the year was going to Las Vegas with the volleyball team. We had a tournament there, but we did get to enjoy the city some too. Not only did I have a good time, but it was a great bonding experience to have with my team. The fountains at the Bellagio and the Coca-Cola shots I did at the Coca-Cola factory have to be the two things I liked most about the city. Now, let me explain about the Coca-Cola shots. There was absolutely NO alcohol involved! But there were 16 different Coca-Cola products from all over the world in shot sized serving. Me and 3 of the other volleyball players decided to split the cost of this “Around the World” tray of Coke products and boy was it fun! Some of the flavor were fabulous, like the Green Apple drink (where it was from I don’t remember, but it literally tasted like a green apple Jolly Rancher!), and some were not so fabulous, like Beverly from Italy! I still have no idea what was in that Beverly drink but it was TERRIBLE!!! haha! We did manage to pull out a win while in Vegas, which made the drive home a fun one!

Another thing I have been able to do was share my testimony with a number of the girls on our campus. When I was first asked, I was terrified. I am the kind of person that doesn’t really trust people in general, especially with testimony. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous. But I knew that for some reason God wanted me to share my God story with the girls on our campus, so I accepted the offer. I’d like to think when I shared my testimony that at least one girl was able to learn or grow from it and able to relate, but I realized that that may have not been why God was pushing me to share my testimony. Part of me truly believes that sharing my testimony was more for me than anyone else. He proved to me that I can do it and that I don’t need to be scared. 

This week, I want to encourage you to do something that scares you, because God can use that in amazing ways! When you are weak, that’s when you are truly strong!

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am truly strong.

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing.

~Emma 

It Begins!!!

WOW!!!! What a crazy few weeks back at school it has been! Between volleyball, orientation, and school, I have been so busy!!! Even though it has been busy, it has also been so fun!!!! 

This year was my third time through orientation (1 time as a new student and 2 times as an orientation staff). Orientation has to be one of my favorite parts of the year! I remember how excited I was to be at Sterling my first year and how each of the orientation staff made my experience so great and I want to be that for the new students coming in. For the orientation weekend, I was in charge of putting the pool party together.  Stress and fun all rolled in to one! ;-) But it was a huge success and we all had a great time! I especially loved that the weather was absolutely perfect to be outside as opposed to last year when it was over 100 degrees!!! 

With the new school year off to a start, I challenge you all to do a couple things. First, make time for schoolwork. I know, I know, I sound like your mother, but it’s true. The first of the year is a crucial time in school. You want to get off to a good start so you can end well, too! Secondly, make time for a bible study. Even in the busyness of life, I have found that getting a few minutes every morning with just me and God really puts my day in perspective! Finally, make time for fun! School is stressful and busy, but making time to have some fun is crucial! Those homework/study breaks with friends is what makes your college experience one to remember! 

Make the most of your time! When it comes to an end, you don’t want to look back and wish you could do things over! Speaking as a senior, I’m realizing my time at Sterling is coming to a close and I want all the memories I can take with me!!! :-) 

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing! 

~Emma

We’re DONE!!!
We’re DONE!!!

I don’t know about anybody else, but summer can not get here fast enough! Luckily, I am done with classes for the semester and only have to endure the four days of finals week. But even that won’t be too bad! Being an education major is really nice during finals week. All of my classes are only papers or presentations! NO TESTS!!!! YAY!!!! 

I can hardly believe summer is already here. I feel like school just started and now I am getting ready to pack up and head home. But I am excited! It will be great to be able to be home and to plan my wedding and I am excited for my summer!!! It’s going to be great…and busy!!! What are you doing this summer?

After I get home from school, two of my friends are getting married, and then I will be going to Hope, KY to Hope Hill Children’s Home on a mission trip with my family and a few people from my church. I am so excited to be going! My first time there was 5 years ago and I immediately fell in love with it. “Hope Hill was founded in 1960 as an orphanage. Hope Hill has since evolved into a residential treatment facility for the complex emotional, spiritual and physical needs of neglected and abused teenage girls in crisis. Hope Hill is licensed to serve 40 young women at a time. In June 2004, Hope Hill became the second largest all girls facility in the state of Kentucky. Hope Hill specializes in caring for emotionally disturbed young women, 12-20 years old, many of which are chronic runaways and the victims of neglect as well as physical and sexual abuse. Hope Hill provides both open and secured residential cottages as well as Therapeutic Foster Care.” This place has had a special place in my heart since the first time I went there. This summer when I go will be the fourth time I’ve been there. While there we do a number of things from planting gardens to planning chapel services.

In June when I come back, I will have to come back to my job. YUCK! I will be life-guarding this summer…again…fourth year in a row. I am so ready to be done life-guarding! But the upside is that I am also going to be a nanny! J Andthat I am excited about! For a couple weeks in July I will be making a road trip with my family to the Pacific Northwest! So needless to say, I have a pretty packed summer! Oh yeah, I am also taking a class!

My summer is going to be busy, and fun, and probably frustrating (the job—life-guarding)! But as I think about my summer and the things I am not looking forward to, I am reminded that I am to work at everything with all my heart, as if working for the Lord. Sometimes we forget that who we are really doing things for should be the Lord. We get so caught up in how much we don’t want to do something or how frustrating something is when what we really should focus on is working as if we are working for the Lord.

So whenever you find yourself complaining about your job, or anything else, tell yourself to work at it as if God is standing there with you. Pretend God is the one that gave you that job and maybe, just maybe, your outlook will change!

Colossians 3:23
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.”

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing!

~Emma~

How to Eat an Elephant

If someone would have told me two years ago that I would be getting married right after I graduate college and then shortly after be moving to Los Angeles, California, I would have told them they were crazy. But God has a way of surprising us and taking us places we never imagined we would be. Today in chapel, I was reminded of that. Terrell Davis, pastor in a church in Wichita, spoke at chapel today and it was such a great reminder to me. 

Before I get into the nitty gritty, you need to know a few things. I grew up in Augusta, Kansas (about 20 minutes East of Wichita, KS) and have lived there my entire life. The population of Augusta is about 9,000. Now that is a lot bigger than Sterling, but MUCH smaller than Los Angeles! When David (my fiancee) first made the decision to come to Sterling, he was planning on doing business. But God quickly showed him that his lifelong passion, film, was what he was to pursue. About that time, we found out that in order for him to graduate from Sterling with a film degree he would have to spend a semester in LA at the LA Film Studies Center (a Christian film school in the heart of Hollywood). At that point in time, I was very excited about the chance at living in LA (David had decided that we would be married before he left because it was very important to him that I go there with him). For months we talked about how living there is going to be such a great adventure for us and my excited grew as I learned of where we would be living and the things we would have the chance to do. 

Back to chapel. Pastor Davis’ emphasis of chapel was God’s plan for our lives. As he was talking, he told us a story about a question a friend asked him. The question was this: how would you eat an elephant? So Pastor Davis told us how he answered with many ways he would try to eat an elephant: make it into a steak like a cow, shred it like beef, or fry it like chicken. But after each response his friend replied with “no”. Well, Mr. Davis finally told his friend that he did not know how to eat and elephant and asked him how it is that one eats an elephant. Mr. Davis’ friend responded, “one bite at a time”. Thinking the response was the stupidest thing he had ever heard, Mr. Davis questioned his friend. At that his friend responded that he was worrying too much about how to enhance the elephant and not enough about how he was actually going to eat the elephant. That is like life. God gives us “elephants” (big plans) and we worry so much about what we are going to do once we get there and how to make it better when what we really should be doing is focusing on “eating” it “one bite at a time”. 

God’s plans for our lives can be scary and intimidating and completely uncomfortable, but we are called to trust Him and trust that His big picture is for good. It’s overwhelming to look at big plans all at once, so why do we constantly try to do that. Just the same, looking at a big elephant trying to figure out how to eat it would be overwhelming. But when we break it down and just focus on one thing at a time, we find that what we think is impossible, just might be possible. 

I have realized lately that the idea of going to LA is the most exciting thing two newlyweds could do, but it is also the scariest thing I personally could do. I have never lived in any kind of big city or been more than an hour and a half from the majority of my family. And yes, that scares me. It is unknown and unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But God has a plan and that plan is for His good. It’s okay to be scared; the unknown is a scary thing. But those of us that have a relationship with Christ have nothing to fear for He has His plan for our lives all taken care of. Yes, I am scared, but I know that God will not lead me anywhere that will harm me or that I cannot handle. And I get to have this adventure with my best friend…my fiancee! 

Life can be scary. That’s ok! God has a plan for your life and He holds you in the palm of His hand. Do not worry about the plan laid out for you. God promises that His plans are to prosper and not to harm. Next time you are feeling scared or worried about the future and God’s plan and whether you can handle God’s plan for you, cling to that promise! 

Jeremiah 29:11
"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." 

As you are blessed, go and be a blessing!

~Emma~