hardboiled integrity

The way it always was is no longer good
enough. -- Nichole Nordeman

My Music      The True Confessions of Alyssa Maree

Probably should have mentioned this, but I moved: http://alyssareeves.blogspot.com/
I like the set-up better than googlepages; so go there now instead of here.  I'll leave everything here for the sake of having my thoughts archived, but I'll stop updating this.      -- Alyssa R.


Saturday, September 8, 2007
Basically, being sick at college sucks.  At least this cold has fallen on the weekend (sitting through classes with a constantly running nose isn't fun), but I'll have to be sure to take extra Kleenex with me to church tomorrow.  I probably ought to buy some Lysol and disenfect my room once this is over; I've already gone through a box of tissues.  I worked breakfast and lunch today and didn't really feel bad at all.  Yesterday I felt some oncoming symptoms and started taking Zicam, which is supposed to help prevent colds, but as soon as I got off work at 2pm all I wanted to do was sleep.  I did nap and manage to drag myself down to the Derb for dinner of chicken soup with rice and OJ and a little Cracklin' Oat Bran, but haven't felt like doing much else...including homework, so I've got my work cut out for me for tomorrow afternoon.  It's only 8:30pm but I think I'm going to take some NyQuil and crawl into bed (I'm freezing...got out my electric blanket and plugged it in, though dripping noses don't lend for peaceful sleeps).  So, hopefully this will be gone by Monday morning...
I enjoyed work today.  Picked up an extra shift last night to help make up for my little Labor Day shopping spree and ended up getting to be a checker (the best job) and this morning cooked made-to-order omelets (I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself) and then got to check again at lunch.  I don't know why; being at work makes me kind of happy.
Well, this is good night.  Day 191, as well.  If you feel generous, stop by with some soup tomorrow afternoon(tomato or chicken noodle preferrably) and maybe you can read my homework to me. :-) Kidding.  But seriously, I'd rather be sick at home where someone can take care of me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007
So, no classes today.  I was supposed to go to Bake club and water aerobic tonight, but I didn't.  I'm just extremely tired.  Somehow I set my clock an hour ahead so this morning my alarm went off at 4:50 instead of 5:50, and I was getting ready and then checking my e-mail when I saw the clock on my computer and my watch said it wasn't even 5am.  I was kind of suspicious because when I woke up I seemed unusually tired for having supposedly gotten 7 hours of sleep.  Anyway, naps today and probably to bed early tonight.  I've got most of my homework done for pretty much the rest of the week and I really want to go to the Rec maybe tomorrow sometime and shoot baskets.  Um...I guess this is day 186.  I'm not extremely confident in keeping this up.  School's pretty stressful.  It's just hard to fight it, ya know? I'm not sure I have enough reasons to fight it.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
11:28pm... So I didn't realize this until today, a day late, but yesterday marked six months. Well, depending how you look at it, today could technically be six months if March 1 doesn't count. Anyway, glory to God.  Kind of wishing I had someone to share this joy with, but I don't suppose being alone makes it any less wonderful.
Well, this has been a pretty productive Labor Day weekend.  I'm getting a lot of homework done. Tomorrow I'll head back and stop in Topeka to do a little shopping before going to work dinner.  Anyway, there are a couple of poems I had to read for my Intro. to Lit class that I enjoy, so I thought I'd share them:

Spell - Kate Clanchy
If, at your desk, you push aside your work,
take down a book, turn to this verse
and read that I kneel there, pressing
my ear where on your chest the muscles
arch as great bokos part, in seagull curves,
bridging the seasounds of your heart,

and that your hands run through my hair,
draw the wayward mass to starnds
as flat as scarlet silk-thread bookmarks,
and stroke my cheeks as if smoothing
back the tissue leaves from chilly,
plated pages, and pull me near

to read my eyes alone, then you shall see,
silvered and monocrhome, yourself,
sitting at your desk, taking down a book,
turning to this verse, and then, my love,
you shall not know whhich one of us is reading
now, which writing, and which written.

Chess - Rosario Castellanos
Because we were friends and sometimes loved each other,
perhaps to add one more tie
to the many that already bound us,
we decided to play games of the mind.

We set up a board between us;
equally divided into pieces, values,
and possible moves.
We learned the rules, we swore to respect them,
and the match began.

We've been sitting here for centuries, meditating
how to deal theone last blow that will finally
annihilate the otherone forever.

Saturday, September 1, 2007
Summer is officially over.  My mom usually considers September 1 to be that marker...though the actual day is near the end of September.  For me, fall isn't about a date.  It's the simple elements that arise only during this certain time of the year: college football and caramel apples.  Just beautiful.  And today, I'm enjoying both.  Caramel apples this afternoon and this evening, the KSU v. Auburn game on ESPN.
Wednesday, August 28, 2007
Oh gosh...tonight might be a polar-opposite of last.  Just a crazy-emotional-I'm kind of overwhelmed-too much homework-too lonely-miss you-a little stressed-kind of night.   I'm going home this weekend for Labor Day, mostly because my sister will be there and I haven't seen her since her wedding.  Otherwise I probably would have stayed here...I do have some stuff I need to pick up, though.  Day 181 doesn't feel so special, and kind of really hard..
Tuesday, August 27, 2007
Today was amazing: super-productive and super-fun.  I got a ton of homework done (no classes on Tuesdays for me) and then went to Bakery Science Club tonight.  It was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately I can only stay from 5-7:15 because at 7:30 I go to the natatorium and do an aerobics swim class with Keira.  So, tonight the class was canceled because there was the Rec Fest or something, but we swam around and treaded water for an hour and talked, which was totally amazing.  Pretty much I feel really happy right now, which feels good.  Today is day 180 and getting to do all of these fun things feel like of like a little reward.  Yay.  I'm gonna run down and check my mail before I finish up a couple Spanish actividades and maybe watch an episode of the Office.  God is good.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
So, maybe I'm crazy for this idea...but I'm going to get up early tomorrow to do laundry.  Tuesdays are usually my laundry days, but I'll be spending my free time after working breakfast on Tuesday at the Language Learning Center doing Spanish auditory activities instead.  And...I need to do laundry; if I don't do it tomorrow (since Tuesday is busy), I'd have to wait another week and I'd probably run out of clothes.  Fortunately I'm going home over Labor Day weekend, so I can pick up a few more clothes (namely T-shirts and a pair of jeans) and bring them back with me.
Pillsbury Crossing today, my first real experience.  I drove by their last semester with Kristin but it was at night and there was a bunch of high schoolers there standing around like they were having a party, so we left.  It hasn't rained a whole lot lately, so there wasn't that much water coming over the little falls, but it was good because I found a dry island-rock to sit on and enjoy the sun, scenery, and a good book.  Didn't swim though; my tan lines are somewhat ridiculously embarrasing from lifeguarding and my modesty starts kicking in so I couldn't get up the courage to reveal the Alyssa Reeves body in a two-piece.  It was cool, though, an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I love the warmth of sunshine on my cheeks.  I almost get that same feeling after drinking an icy glass of orange juice; you know, the "wow, this feels really healthy" feeling.  I like drinking milk, but somehow getting my supply of Vitamin D from the sun seems much more delicious.
Somewhat productive weekend.  I'm going into my classes tomorrow with all of my homework done, at least.  Having next Monday off for Labor Day will cut out four classes which is wonderful.  Good thing that holiday doesn't fall on like a Tuesday, when I wouldn't be missing out on any classes.
Kristin called me this afternoon and it was incredible.  Unfortunately I didn't just open up with all of the stuff I have been wanting to tell her about since the summer started, but it was good to know her being married and very busy doesn't make her forget about me.  My sister just got married this summer so you'd think I'd have a better idea about married people being busy, but it still kind of sucks because I think Kristin is amazing and I miss hanging out with her.  I don't get to see her very much now, so I guess I feel like when we talk I shouldn't ruin it by talking about struggles, you know?  Speaking of struggles, this is day 178.  Praise God; this strength is not my own.  Though as the days pass, the temptation seems to lessen, but it's one of those things I think it'd be too easy to go back to if I hit some bumpy waters.  But praise God for 178 days.  I kind of wish I had someone to celebrate with...is it wrong to celebrate? I know this is God's doing and not my own, but a joy nonetheless. 
Well, better get to bed so I can get up early and do some laundry.  Btw, church was good today.  I filled out a little card because they're updating contact info. and check-marked the box "I want more information about how I can get involved."  I think there's a college small group at UCC on Tuesdays or something, but it'd be weird just showing up because I don't even know where it is and I'd rather go with a friend.  No excuse, still.  I'll have to ask Keira about when Navs' small groups start up.  It was good being able to meet with Shaunna this summer for accountability.  Probably a good idea to get involved in a small group here so I can be maturing in my faith and making some good friends.  Okay, all for now.  I'm reading some good books, but I'll have to share that stuff later this week.  Adios.
Thursday, August 21, 2007
Still a ton of homework...I didn't get any done today, and hardly any last night.  Which means it might be a late night.  I worked today until 2, went to biochem lab, took a shower because I was nasty from hot walking and work, went to a STATEments meeting, and now here I am.  Kind of felt like a loser at the meeting for not having a story ideas, but after this week I don't think my head can generate a single creative thought.  So, I'm determined to come up with some really good ones and e-mail them in so they don't feel like I'm dead weight they ought to fire.  More discouragement from the field of English: how can you keep a job if your creative juices stop flowing?  Anyway, I need to run to the Union and check out this activities fair.  I'm hoping to land a free agenda because there are a bunch of coupons in the back for things like an oil change -- which I really need.  I need to stop by the library and print a bunch of stuff off...might do that now; the library seems to be the only place I can actually do my homework.  Yuck.  I wish whoever was in charge of giving parking tickets would get after it because there are a million "R" cars parked in the "D" slots, so I had to park really far away.  I need a break...and some friends.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I have a ton of homework, so I'll keep this short.  I just wanted to take a second to testify to the incredible faithfulness of God.  I ordered my textbooks online after e-mailing my professors at the end of spring semester so I could get them cheaper.  Somehow over the summer, two of my professors changed their textbook requirements to newer edtion...anyway, that put me back about $175.  Well, it put my dad back because he is paying for my college, but still I wasn't happy because I hate asking him to pay for this stuff.  Anyway, God is faithful and He always provides.  God promises to meet our needs, and obviously this "need" is simply God's blessing in the form of a luxury, because I think that means he will make sure we have the basics (and textbooks aren't exactly a basic...they are a luxury), but Philippians 4:19 even talks about God meeting our needs.  And anyway, I got an e-mail saying K-State's Financial Aid awards had been updated and I went on KATS and checked... I was granted an additional $1,500 per year from the Robert C. Byrd scholarship (which I got last year, but didn't think it was renewable; guess it is).  So I'm full of joy remembering the overwhelming love of my God.  Even the little things...like somehow I managed to turn off both of my alarm clocks to get up and work breakfast on Tuesday and I miraculously just woke up with ten minutes to get ready and down the stairs to work.  (Thankfully I work on campus.) But I know things like that are not just coincidence.  Someone's looking out for me.  Glory to God.  Also, it's day 174.  Hallelujah.

Monday, August 20, 2007
Wow, I must say I missed working at the Derb.  Being back tonight was fun, at least because I knew a lot of people and it was nice knowing exactly what needed to be done instead of standing around.  We were done by 7:45...I remember last year my first dinner shift didn't get over 'til 8.  I have to work early breakfast tomorrow, but yay for no classes.   I wore my pedometer around today to classes and work: 17,616 steps = 7.49 miles.  Wow.  Lots of walking, which is good.
It's starting to thunderstorm really good now...I can hear people running around outside yelling, which isn't the smartest thing.  I know I wouldn't care to be hit by lightning.  But I love thunderstorms and I wish I had my Christmas lights up (but of course I plugged them in and they didn't work..I found at least six broken bulbs and am just going to buy a new string....maybe tomorrow).  So, today was good.  Tomorrow: work, hopefully laundry, and homework, and hopefully seeing some friends.  God is good.
First day of classes is over.  I've got my first shift at the Derb tonight, but I glanced at the schedule while I was there for breakfast and I get to be a checker--the best thing you can do there because when you are a checker, you don't have to wear your visor or apron because you aren't working with food.  You simply swipe students' cards.  I suppose the only thing that could go wrong is that students try to eat who don't have meal plans or if they have a meal plan and their card just doesn't work.  It is the first night the Derb is serving dinner this semester.  It shouldn't be too bad, though.

My 9:30 Spanish class was the only one that went the full 50 min.  My other classes were all 30 min. or less.  Our Spanish teacher won't speak any English and seemed disappointed that the class wasn't already fluent.  I did understand that we don't have to do QUIA assignments this year (big plus), but she said Spanish IV is a lot more serious that Spanish III was...so we probably won't be playing as many games and doing fun things.  Bummer.  At least it's my last semester of Spanish, though.  I hate having that class first thing in the morning because the rest of the day, my thoughts are in the wrong language.  My biochemistry class and lab seems like it will be the most fun.  Our professor said if we just show up and do the work, we'll probably get an A.  And in our lab, we're making beer.  Not that I'm super excited about it, but he made it sound like our labs will be pretty cool.

Boo for books, though.  I bought most of my books online, but we've got this huge book for my Intro. to Lit. class.  I e-mailed my instructor last spring as soon as I enrolled and she said it'd be okay if I got the 7th edition, but she was thinking about getting the 8th edition for class, so I might have different page numbers, but the 7th edition was like $16 compared to $80+ for the newest edition.  I got an e-mail from her this week saying we really needed the 8th edition and I wrote her and said I had already bought the 7th, and she said if I was super-organized I could go through and see if the text was the same, but she didn't recommend it.  I sat with the syllabus and tried to revise it to match the 7th edition, but to no avail.  Sometimes it splits the chapters into two assignments and since the page numbers are different, it's nearly impossible.  So...I got on half.com and found the 8th edition in Alabama for about $75.  Yuck.  Yuck.  Yuck.  I'll have to work a lot of hours to make up for that... I know my dad says he'll pay for my school expenses, but still.  I don't understand why professors do that.  They just have to have the newest edition.  Is it that different that using the slightly older edition (saving each student more than $50) will make us less educated and able to perform in our English careers?  Sheesh...  What can I say, I'm not a big fan of spending that much money on a stupid book I'm only going to use for a few months.  Hopefully I can sell it for a lot.  It's not going to get here for about a week, but I suppose I can use my 7th edition for now.

So, these last few days have been really boring...mostly lonely; but this morning was good.  I was walking through the Derb on my way to my Spanish class and saw Kristin.  Amazing.  Then some people from Navs were handing out surveys to people on their way to class and I talked to Tracy, which was cool because even though I don't really know her, she's a familiar face and I told her about my sister getting married and stuff.  So...my floor is all going swimming tonight at 6:30 and I really wish I could go (the sign at the bank said 108 degrees!) but I'm working.  So, might be something fun to do later this semester.

Well, I have some homework to do...though I don't have any classes tomorrow and I could probably put it off, but I'll feel good getting it done.  And I have to revise my article for the magazine before Wednesday.   The staff is meeting Thursday at 5:30 and I have a biochem lab until 5:20, so I was worried about being late but today our lab professor stopped in our lecture and mentioned the lab usually gets over around 4:30.  Sweet.  And...Day 172.  That's a long time.  Glory to God.  Hasta Luego.

Saturday, August 18, 2007
For some reason today I'm not as excited about this whole single-room thing as I was yesterday.  It's nice and all, but every time I walk in I think, "Wow.  This is small."  Kind of feels like I'm living in a closet sometimes and I'm not going to lie, I'm lonely.  I went out and walked around campus for awhile, but it was kind of hot.  Not as hot as it has been, but hot nonetheless.  I'm looking forward to going to church tomorrow.  I got my parking pass today and instead of "R" (what I had last year), mine says "D".  Which means I get to park a little closer which will be nice.  I'm trying not to feel like a loser being a junior in the dorms...it is only my second year though and I do work at the Derb so it really makes the most sense for me to live in the dorms...right?  I brought games...Rummikub and Skipbo and Uno and a deck of cards.  We could play them.  I wish you were here.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Well, I'm all moved in to Moore 407.  Go check out my dorm room decorating pictures on Facebook.  I put my address down there, too, if anyone feels like sending me some mail.  I'm really happy with my single room; it's kind of small by definitely nice.  I'll be happy to start classes and work and be busy and see my friends more because it'll be too easy to get lonely here.  Tomorrow is move-in day (usually mass chaos).  Classes start on Monday and I have a full schedule: Spanish IV, Intro. to Lit, Intro. to Creative NF, Biochemistry, then work.  Tuesday I don't have any classes (just work breakfast), so at least I'll have a little break before a busy Wednesday.  Well, I'm tired.  Here's to another semester hardly able to stay awake past 11:30pm.

Day 170.  Praise God.  Oh yeah, I called Target and they're sending me two more sets of ceramic mugs for Erica, even though the Internet tracking says they were delivered to my house.  I simply told them I never got them and they didn't ask any more questions.  So, good job Target for keeping your customers happy.  Good night.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Update: Moore Hall called and offered me a single on the 4th floor.  I took it.  So, no Chinese roommate on the 2nd floor for me.   I guess I'm back where I started, just two floors up.


In the words of the great Peanuts characters, "AAARGH!"  My sister sent me a Thank You note for the wedding gifts I got her and JR and thanked me for the pitchers.  Here's the problem.  I ordered a pitcher and eight ceramic mugs (mugs that are like 10 times more expensive than whatever other plastic stinkin' pitcher she got).  I noticed the box wasn't very heavy considering I was expecting eight mugs...I should have opened it.  But now Erica is going to have to go to Target and explain what happened and show them my online receipt and explain that she didn't get them because otherwise they're just cheating me out of too much money for a stupid plastic pitcher.  It's hard not to be angry at myself because I knew the box was too light when it arrived in the mail and I just should have opened it and checked to make sure it was the right thing.  I know there's usually a 90-day return policy or whatever, but man.  I'm not reacting well to this and I'm tired and cranky and it's probably a good thing I'm alone for the next couple of days so I can get things together.  I know God causes everything to happen for the good of those who love Him, and His ultimate goal is to make me like Christ, but seriously?  This sucks.

Day 167.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Day 165...wow.  Sometimes I feel like the only strength I have is the strength to cling to Christ.  I miss you too much.  Good night.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Day 161 for me; Praise God, and yay for two days until Kristin & Taylor's wedding! Sorry I haven't been keeping up with this much lately.  I leave for Manhattan in a week and still have a lot of packing stuff up to do.  And for some reason, even though I've been there a year, I'm feeling a little nervous of going back.  I don't know why because I absolutely love being there and campus is beautiful and I'm looking forward to it.  Anyway, I finished my study in the book of James and have started with the gospel of John.  I have a book ordered so it should be here soon, but for now I'm trying to read through the whole thing and pick up on some main ideas.  Here's what stood out to me this morning.
Read John 4:46-54.  It talks about Jesus traveling through Galilee and he stops in this town of Cana.  A government official heard Jesus was there and traveled from Capernaum to see him because his son was very sick.  The man asked Jesus to go to his home with him to heal his dying son. Jesus asked the man, "Must I do miraculous signs and wonders before you people will believe in me?" Jesus told the man to go back home and his son would live.Verse 50 continues, "And the man believed Jesus' word and stared home."  It turns out the servants reported that the boy became well at the exact hour the man had spoken to Jesus and this is Jesus' second miraculous sign in Galilee after coming from Judea.  So, what does this all mean?  Reading this for tone, it might kind of sound like Jesus is a little frustrated that people don't simply believe in him unless they see some miracle performed.  But the man with the dying son believed that Jesus could heal, he trusted his word and obeyed Jesus by returning home, thus demonstrating his faith.  A sidebar in my study Bible adds: It isn't enough for us to say we belive that Jesus can take care of our problems.  We need to act as if he can.  When you pray about a need or problem, live as though you believe Jesus can do what he says.  So, I'll use an example I heard from a woman whose sister experienced God's suffiency.  Times were kind of difficult and her husband had lost his job, and she wasn't sure she would be able to have enough food to feed her kids.  She prayed and had faith that God would provide, even though her cupboards and refrigerator were bare. That night, she sat her kids down at the table and set the table.  For not having any food, this sounds kind of crazy.  But soon someone rang the doorbell, and it was a neighbor with sackfuls of groceries.  The neighbor told the woman that she had been at the store and had felt God telling her to buy extra groceries for this family.  (The woman I heard this from probably told the story a lot better than I can, but you get the idea.)  The woman without food could have sat in her room and cried over not having enough food, but she demonstrated her faith by sitting her children down at the table.  She was living as though she believed Jesus will meet her family's needs.  And he did.

Monday, August 6, 2007
I can hardly believe it's August 6 already.  I am super-excited for Kristin & Taylor's wedding this Saturday.  Yesterday was pretty cool because when I went to church, not only did I get to see one of the most awesome young women in the world, we sang one of my favorite songs; twice, actually.  Then I went out for lunch and ended up being late to work by about 15 minutes which wasn't the most fun thing, but it worked out.  Today someone pooped in the big pool so we had to close it for an hour and add some extra chlorine and fish out the terd.  That's something that always happens at least once a summer, but usually in the little pool.  So, with the big pool, the slide, and the diving boards closed (they're all connected), we had over 50 people swimming in the little pool which is only 2.5 ft. deep and much smaller.  Mass chaos.  I only have one more week left of work (three of those days off: Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday) and then I'm moving back to Manhattan.  Yay.  Day 158.  Cool.  Praise God.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Things have been crazy-busy. I only have a few days off out of the rest of the time home before going back to Manhattan.  Today was the city-wide garage sale.  I had mine open yesterday and today and brought in some nice spending money for college.  Yesterday was much more successful that today, and I ended up practically giving some stuff away, which is kind of disappointing because you pay so much for it at stores.  Guess this makes me want to be extra-careful about buying things I don't need, which reminds me...I need to come up with some type of budget so I can plan how much to allow for spending and how much to save because well, two years left of college and after that, I better have some money saved up so I can pay the bills.  As soon as I graduate, I get kicked off my dad's insurance plan.  That kind of sucks.  Anyway, I found out yesterday that my roommate this upcoming school year is named Gao Ya.  The K-State e-mail said Ya Gao, but I e-mailed her and the education person in China (where she's from) replied and mentioned her name as Gao Ya.  So, I'm not sure.  I suppose it'll be written on the door when I get to the dorms.  I'm not quite sure how to pronounce it, either.  I hope I don't embarrass myself trying.  So, I'm trusting God has His hand in all of this.  It's hard not to be disappointed that things didn't work out how I had hoped, but who am I to be confident of what will even happen tomorrow?  Because I honestly don't know.  Anyway, I'm exhausted after working the garage sale today and feel like I have a million things to do...just a bunch of small things that I will probably get done Wednesday...my next day I don't have to work.
I can't even express how excited I am for October 15...the first issue of STATEments comes out.  It's going to be amazing.  I got to see some sample cover formats and it'll be so cool to actually see my writing in a publication like that.  It'll be amazing.  If you don't go to K-State and you want a copy, let me know and I'll probably be happy to send/bring you one.  Speaking of dates to be excited about: August 11th. Kristin and Taylor are getting married and I'm so excited to go to the wedding.  And on top of that, August 11th and 12th at night will be spectacular meteor showers, the Perseids.  It's supposed to be best on the night of August 12/early morning August 13; there will be a new moon so it'll be super dark.  I love meteor showers and am still looking for somewhere to watch them and someone to watch them with.  This is all for now.  Have a good weekend.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Last  night I was glad to be able to make it to most of youth group before I had to leave a little early to work Family Swim.  Dave hit on Colossians 3:1-17 and brought back the TP analogy.  At one time, toilet paper didn't exist.  Maybe, Dave questioned, people were not even aware of their filthiness (and need for toilet paper).  Now that we have it, it's hard to imagine life without it.  Life without TP is gross and disgusting, and you could never imagine how anyone could live happily without it; they'd be all stinky and gross and well, I won't get into the details quite like Dave did, but you get the picture.  To make the long story short, the analogy replaces toilet paper with Christ and the nastiness with our sins (more specifically, as mentioned in Colossians: anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lies.  These are the things in which we were covered before Christ, but now He has wiped them away and we should have nothing to do with them.  Colossians 3:8 says, "Now you should rid yourself of all such things as these..."  Rid yourself.  You should have nothing to do with these things (anger, rage, malice, etc.) for they are dirty and have no place in a person of cleanliness.  So what now do we clothe ourselves in?  Colossians 3:12-14 reads, "12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."  That sounds much more pleasing to God that the nasty things mentioned before.  This is how you should look after you have discovered toilet paper, after you have begun a relationship with Jesus.  Colossians 3:15-17 goes on to describe how our lives should look since we have Jesus Christ in abundance: "15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."  Pretty cool, huh?  We split up to discuss life before TP, with TP, and with TP in abundance, but this is the point where I had to leave to lifeguard.  Just being able to read through Colossians 3 makes it clear that we are called to be set apart.  Even if you don't go around telling everyone you meet about your relationship with Christ, people should be able to tell by the way you live (by your fruits).  Is your life reflecting your relationship with the Creator who loves you more than anything?

I'm getting close to finishing up my study in James and I read back through the entire book and a verse really stood out to me.  James 2:19: "Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God?  Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror!"  This kind of hit me because I've heard people who, when asked if they were a Christian or if they were religious, replied, "Well, I believe in God."  The Bible says "Fool!" to those who only claim to believe in God.  Even Satan knows there is one true God -- what sets you apart from the demons?  It should be your relationship with Christ.  Satan does not have a relationship with Christ.

I want to avoid getting all preachy and I feel its important to always come back to grace.  I think the problem a lot of people have with Christians is that they get this feeling that Christians think they are better than everyone else.  Maybe they really do think they are better than everyone else, but those who truly understand God's grace will realize these things: God doesn't love us because we are good.  God loves us because, even though we are sinful and totally unacceptable to Him, He's God and He wants to love us anyway.  He loves us so much that he sent Christ to die to pay for our sins so we wouldn't have to.  And even though we, out of complete gratefulness for his free gift of salvation, ought to be seeking to do good in His name, God does not base his blessings on merit.  Basically, if you screw up, God isn't going to say, "Well man, you messed up pretty bad.  It looks like this week you're not going to be blessed.  Try harder next time."  And if you go to church every day and are really getting into the Word, God isn't going to say, "Hey, good job.  I'm going to bless you so much more than your brother who didn't even think of Me this week.  That'll show him who's in control."  No!  God does not favor anyone, remember?   He still loves You even if you aren't perfect (only one guy was ever perfect, remember?) and nothing you can do can even come close to making up for your sin.  You can't pay for your own sin.  But do not be discouraged; Christ has already paid the price.  Praise God.

Anyway, that's all I have time for right now.  I could go on and on about the love of Christ and the amazing things He is doing, so if you ever want to talk to me about it, I'll do my best to be available.  Hasta luego.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I've got a lot of random ideas today, so I'll probably be jumping all over the place.  Bear with me.  Btw, 5 months until Christmas.  Pretty exciting, huh?  I'll admit, I've got all the wrong motives for being excited, but when you're a poor college kid and your birthday is in February, you get excited over any occassion that may result in you getting the stuff you want/need for free.  Most of the stuff I want is books, and since I'm not doing a good job getting a lot of reading done this summer, it feels wrong to buy more books when I haven't even read all of the ones I already have. 

Anyway, I've got two articles to write before August 3 and I am determined to make some progress on them today.  But first, I was cleaning out my desk and ran across some notes over the introduction in C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves.  Very good book, by the way, at least the beginning.  By the end, I had a hard time focusing, but I'd still recommend it.  Anyway, C.S. Lewis talks about these two different kinds of love in the introduction: need-love and gift-love.  Need-love is that which sends a lonely or frightened child to its mother's arms.  It is an accurate reflection in consciousness of our actual nature and is our need for others physcially, emotionally, and intellectually.  It might be easy to call need-love "mere selfishness," but you've got to be cautious because no one calls a child selfish who turns to its mother for comfort.  It's healthy to have need-love.  Man's love for God must always be largely and often entirely be a need-love.  The other kind of love, gift-love, is the kind of love that longs to serve, or even to suffer for [God].  This is also shown by the father who goes to work all day to bring home money so that his family can have the things they need because the father unselfishly shares his earnings with his family without hoping to gain something more for himself.  Gift-love is also the kind of love God has for us, because obviously God doesn't need to love us, he's loving us for our benefit.  The book goes on to talk about this more and much better than I can put it, but this is where my notes stop.

I also found some notes I took from a sidebar in my study Bible that seemed pretty amazing.  It talks about suffering...I've mentioned lately about trials (addressed in the book of James).  This kind of hit home because when things don't seem to be going right, I think it makes a huge difference on how it impacts you based on how you react:
How Suffering Affects Us...
Suffering is helpful when...
1. We turn to God for understand, endurance, and deliverance
2. We ask important questions we might not take the time to think about in our normal routine.
3. We let it prepare us to identify with and comfort others who suffer.
4. We are open to being helped by others who are obeying God.
5. We realzie we can identify with what Christ suffered on the cross for us.
6. We are sensitized to the amount of suffering in the world.

Suffering is harmful when...
1. We become hardened and reject God.
2. We refused to ask any questions and miss anay lessons that might be good for us.
3. We allow it to make us self-centered and selfish.
4. We withdraw from the help others can give.
5. We accuse God of being unjust and perhaps lead others to reject him.
6. We refuse to be open to any changes in our lives.

Also, yesterday I just finished reading Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz.  Another excellent book I would recommend, though I think I slightly prefer his other book, Searching for God Knows What.  I'm sure they both impact different people in different ways, so you should read them both.  Anyway, I wanted to mention a couple things that stuck out to me...
Donald Miller was talking about how for a while he had a guy he really didn't like.  Every time this guy would sit down to talk with him, Don would be a real jerk and roll his eyes and just act very unfriendly.  He thought that somehow this guy would sense his disapproval and change his life in order to gain Don's favor.  He withheld love from this guy.  But instead of wanting to change, this guy was repulsed.  Don had been using love like money, withholding it to get somebody to be who he wanted him to be.  Don repented and apologized to God and instead of withholding love to change somebody, he poured it on, lavishly.  Don wrote, "I poured in on, lavishly.  I hoped that love would work liek a magnet, pulling people from the mire and toward healing.  I knew this was the way God loved me.  God had never withheld love to teach me a lesson.  Here is something very simple about relationship that [my friend] helped me discover: Nobody will ever listen to you unless they sense that you like them."  This is the thing with me.  I'm guilty of using love like money.  If there is someone who does something I don't like, I withhold my love.  I hope they will change, perhaps in order to gain my approval.  But who am I to do that?  After all, this is not the example Jesus set before me.  If Jesus worked like I did, he wouldn't have died for my sins.  He would have withheld his love for me, hoping that someday I would change my sinful ways.  But instead, He poured his love over me and that is what makes me want to change.  This kind of connects to what I'm reading right now in Transforming Grace.  If I decide to change they way I live to glorify God, it's not out of obligation, it's not because I feel it's my 'duty' as a Christian, it's because I want to, because I have this sincere love for my Lord and it's the least I can do to express my love.

Anyway, other thing Don Miller talked about was in the chapter about loving yourself (the previous was about loving others).  Donald Miller was feeling pretty bad about himself after his girlfriend broke up with him.  He said he began listening to these voices in his head telling him he was "as digusting as the urine on the wall around the toilet."  He writes, "And then the sentiment occurred.  I am certain it was the voice of God because it was accompanied by such a strong epiphany like a movement in a symphony or something.  The sentiment was simple: Love your neighbor as yourself. ...He was saying I would never talk to my neighbor the way I talked to myself, and that somehow I had come to believe it was wrong to kick other people around but it was okay to do it to myself...I would not let myself receive love from myself, from others, or from God.  And I wouldn't receive love because it felt so wrong.  It didn't feel humble, and I knew I was supposed to be humble.  But that was all crap, and it didn't make any sense.  If it is wrong for me to receive love, then it is also wrong for me to give it because by giving it I am causing somebody else to receive it, which I had presupposed was the wrong thing to do.  So I stopped.  And I mean that.  I stopped hating myself.  It no longer felt right.  It wasn't manly or healthy, and I cut it out.  That was a bout a year go, and since then I have been relatively happy.  I am not kidding.  I don't sit around and talk bad about myself anymore..."

Pretty cool, huh?  The thing I liked so much about that passage was that I felt the same way.  There was a span of several years in my life when I'd constantly beat myself up over the littlest things.  I hated myself for being who I was, but it was only when I finally wrapped my head around the truth that I am a daugther of Christ, that God knows even the number of hairs on my head, that I am indescribably loved by the Father, that I could love myself.  I had known it was wrong to treat others the way I treated myself because other people were God's creation.  It just took me a while to figure out I was as well.  I even wrote a poem about it (check out My Notes on Facebook.  It's titled "God's Masterpiece).

Anyway, that's all I have right now.  I have Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, and The Four Loves, so if you're interested in reading them, let me know and I'll gladly let you borrow them.  Today is day 146.  Praise God.  Hope you are all having a wonderful week.  Later.

One last thing.  I kind of hate that I don't have a page for comments on here (I'm new to Googlepages, so maybe I haven't discovered it yet), but I don't even know if anyone is reading this.  So, if you feel inspired to leave a comment, you can do so on Facebook through a message or wall post.

Sunday, July 22, 2007
Well, my sister is officially Erica Smith, and I've got this new brother named Jeremiah (JR).  The wedding went very well and it kind of seems crazy that my sister is married, especially since she's my age and I can't imagine myself being married anytime soon at all.  Check out the hundreds of pics on my Facebook.
Anyway, I went to WAM (Women's Accountabililty Ministry) tonight and I thought I'd take a  few minutes to share what we talked about.  We're actually reading through James and I'm doing my own Bible study at home in James which I'd love to find time to sit down and write about that sometime, but here's from tonight.
The passage we looked at was James 1:13-18.  Look it up and read it...BibleGateway.com is a great resource.  James talks about the dangers of temptation and we basically looked at the difference between trials and tempations and found a few things to do to overcome temptations in our lives.
First, let me explain this little story: you know those monkeys that are usually everyone's favorite animal to see at a zoo because they actually move instead of just sleep all the time?  Well, sometimes these guys go out into the jungles to get them and they're extremely hard to catch.  But the native people in the jungle areas are pretty much pros and catching them because they watched the monkeys and figured out that they really liked eating the seeds of the certain type of melon.  So the natives would cut tiny holes in the melons so that the monkeys' hands would barely fit through.  The monkey would reach in and make a fist around a bunch of seeds, but then he couldn't get his hand back out!  Instead of just letting go of the seeds to slip his hand out, the monkey would refuse to let go of the very thing he desired and the natives were able to easily capture him without even having to chase him.  I'll refer back to this later.
Okay, so here are the differences between trials and temptations: 1) Trials are sent from the outside and are designed to strengthen us.  There were some scientists who planted trees in a biosphere and they grew tall but then just snapped in half because there wasn't any wind to push them around and make them strong.  We're kind of like that.  If life was all a piece of cake and we never faced trials, we would be very weak.  Also, 2) Temptations originate on the inside and are designed to destroy us.  Another difference we've talked about before is that if you give in to a tempation, what makes it different from a trial, is that you usually experience guilt and feel the need to repent.
Anyway, temptation can basically be summed up into four general categories.  1) Power: our desire to be in control; 2) Pleasure: our desire to escape and be filled; 3) Fame: our desire to be known and accepted; and 4) Fortune: our desire for more.  

So that's what temptation is.  But when we are faced with temptations, for example, watching inappropriate movies, TV, listening to God-dishonoring music, gossiping, lying, stealing, cheating, lusting, etc., what can we do?  Basically, the Bible study we are going through gives three things.
1) Stop the blame game. (James 1:13).  A lot of times, we blame God.  This is just silly, for two reasons: God cannot be tempted by evil, and God does not tempt us.  God cannot even think about tempting us because he is like the polar opposite of evil.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (look it up; read it.) talks about how no temptation will come over us except what is common to man.  Basically, if you ever get that feeling that you are the only person who has ever been in that kind of situation, you're wrong.  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  This is kind of comforting if you're feeling hesistant about sharing your struggles with another brother or sister in Christ.  You're not alone and having struggled with that specific temptation doesn't making you weird.  Also, 1 Corinthians 10:13 mentions that God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, and God will provide a way out from that temptation.  That kind of emphasises the importance of stopping the blame game.  Some people (even Adam and Eve) blamed other people for their sin.  The truth is, you have to take responsibility for your sin.  Take all the responsibility for it.  Satan can throw that apple in your path, but he can't make you eat it.  This kind of reminds me of a story told at Falls Creek about a woman who was held up in a convenience store by a man with a 'gun' under his shirt.  The woman refused to give him her money and he began flailing his arms, at which point the woman realized he didn't even have a gun (it was just his finger).  So, Satan is like that.  You can imagine him sitting there with his finger under his shirt saying, "Do it!  [Give me all your money!]"  But you can confidently say, "No!" because you know what?  Satan doesn't have a gun.  Did you get that?  Satan doesn't have a gun.  He's got nothing.
2) Understand sin's strategy (James 1:14-15)  This is the second step in trimuphing over temptation.  If you've ever played high school football or basketball, you'll probably understand this one pretty well.  What do you do before you go play a difficult opponent?  Chances are, your coach sits you down ahead of time and you spend some time watching previous game films so you can analyze the other team's strategy, what plays they run most often, how they run their offense and defense.  The thing about temptation is that it has a strategy, too.  The strategy of temptation can be broken down into four parts: Desire (what we want to do.  A lot of times we become dull to our evil desires because the world is constantly telling us it's okay to have sex before marriage or it's okay to get drunk all the time.  It's important to be aware of your weaknesses so you know where you'll most likely be attacked.  Sin actually starts small.  Every alcoholic started out with just one drink, and Jesus said that even thinking impure thoughts about another man's wife is the same as committing adultery.  Not sure what sin looks like?  Sin is contrary to God's nature.  Basically, if it doesn't look like God (see the Bible for what God looks like), then it's probably sin.)  Next is Deception (we are dragged away and enticed; if you are a fish, this is the part where you are deceived by thinking you're getting a free lunch when all of a sudden you get a sharp hook in your mouth.  Or if you're a monkey, you've can't get your hand out of that melon.  You were deceived into thinking those melon seeds were an easy find, but now you're stuck in it and you can't get free unless you let go of those seeds [your sin/temptation].  Sometimes sin can be deceiving because we try to find justification for it or the world tells us it's okay.  Maybe you start thinking that God's grace gives us room to sin.  You know, if God is gracious and will forgive you for sleeping with your girlfriend, why not?  I could get into a whole other discussion on that, but basically, that's a deceptive lie.)  Decision is the part where we conciously decided to give in to temptation (because the devil can't make us do it, remember?).  Decisions give birth to sin and sin ultimately leads to Death.  Sin separates us from God and sometimes (alcohol/drugs), our sin can literally kill us or other people.  Sin can lead to spiritual death and it destroys relationships, trust, and life. 
The third step in overcoming temptation is to 3) Change your mind (James 1: 16-18)  Change your mind about God and about sin.  All good and perfect gifts come from God, and if something isn't good and perfect, it didn't come from God.  The truth is, God loves us and he doesn't change.  He's not going to decide one day that he's going to try to tempt us for the fun of it.  Satan deceived Eve by telling her that God didn't love her, and that's why he didn't want her to eat the fruit on the tree.  God does love us.  God loves you and will always provide a way out (1 Cor. 10:13).   Satan wants you to believe lies (he is the father of all lies).  Also, we need to change our minds about sin.  We can't take sin lightly.  Sin is evil and destructive and we cannot justify it.  We should hate sin like God hates it.  Another thing we don't often realize is that no matter how many good deeds we do, they are unacceptable to God because they are stained with our sin.  Even if you're giving money to the poor, are you doing it selflessly, or are there hidden motives like you want your friends to think highly of you?  The only way our deeds are acceptable to God are through Christ's blood.  We are clothed in His blood and are made white as snow.  What a relief.  Instead of constatly striving to do it perfectly on our own, all we have to do is let Christ work through us.  It talks about in Romans somewhere how we really don't even know how to pray, but it's okay because the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf and God knows exactly what we need even when all we can do is groan.
The top ten most common temptations are: lying, self-centeredness, bitterness, materialism, pride, lust, envy, laziness, gluttony, and anger.  Are you often tempted by these?  Are there other temptations you face that are tempted?  Personally, I struggle with self-centeredness.  It's hard for me to step back and accept that it's not all about me.  By stopping the blame game, understanding sin's strategy, and changing my mind about God and about sin, and by praying to God for help, I can overcome my temptations.
Next week we'll be reading James 1:19-27 and talking about the Word of God and the importance of living it out.  Hopefully I'll find some time to discuss more in-depth what I've been reading in my other James study.  Praise God for his never-changing love for His children.  This is day 143 and I know Christ is just holding me in his warm embrace.  Hallelujah, what a Savior.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Today is my dad's birthday.  Unfortunately, I'm working at the pool until 7pm and then have 30 minutes to squeeze in steak and ice cream cake before our new women's Bible study at 7:30pm, which I might be late to and don't really want to skip even though I feel bad leaving my dad on his birthday.

Anyway, lots of crazy things have happened since I last wrote.  God gave me a big wake up call.  Did you know in James 4 it says you shouldn't go around saying, "In a year, I'm going to be doing this..." because you don't even know what will happen tomorrow!  So James writes that we should say, "If the Lord wants us to, we will do [this or that]..."  So, I guess God decided I needed to be reminded of this when my plans for this upcoming school year were shaken up last Friday.  At our Sunday night Bible study, we talked about how trusting God is kind of like having this huge fence and all you get is a tiny pinhole in it, so basically you can't even get a glimpse of what's on the other side (the Big Picture).  So, right now I feel like I've got my faced smashed up against that fence and I have absolutely no idea what God's got in store for me because even though I thought I had everything figured out and my future plans were going to be amazing, maybe I even had built up a little foot stool so I could get closer to seeing over the top, God kicked it out from under me and said, "Just trust me."  So here I am, sitting with my butt in the grass at the bottom of that fence thinking, "C'mon, God, give me a boost.  I just want to see what's on the other side"  He's probably sighing, saying, "I've got you, Alyssa.  Trust me." 


Anyway, two days until my sister's big day.  (Wedding day, that is.)  I'm supposed to give a toast at the reception and I've got nothing.  Maybe it's one of those things I will do at the last minute and it'll end up being amazing (kind of like my philosophy final last semester).  Anyway, kind of stressing out about that.  I was talking to my sister about guys and how I just felt I wasn't having any luck, but at the same time I haven't really been trying, and like the only reason right now I feel like I would want to get married and maybe have a family was because I felt like it was what you were supposed to do.  You know, 1) Grow up 2) Get married 3) Have a family.  But the truth is, I need a better reason for being in a relationship than the fact that it's what everyone else seems to do.  And actually, at least at this point in my life, I'm way too selfish.  Besides, I don't really even want to think about being in a relationship until I feel like I've completely got God as #1 in my life.  I don't want to fall into the trap like I've seen other girls do where they basically worship their boyfriends and what their boyfriends do or say basically gives meaning to their lives.  That's just dumb.  I thought maybe my expectations were too high; like am I really going to find a guy who doesn't drink, who I find attractive, a man who is after God's own heart?  My sister assured me I shouldn't settle for anything less.  I don't mind waiting; I mean, if that's even what God has planned for me.  Kristin said He can doing amazing things with single people.  That would be pretty cool to get to the point in my life where I'm totally willing to give up anything and say, "Here I am, God.  Use me."  I mean, that's kind of what He calls us to do already, but it's one of those things I think it takes time to actually get to that point.  Even though we know we're supposed to, it takes a certain level of maturity to actually take action.


Well, I'm kind of hungry so I better go find someting for lunch before I'm off to the pool to make my tan lines even worse so I might look possibly ridculous at the wedding.  (Good thing I'm not the one getting married -- hopefully no one will even be looking at me...except that I get to stand right next to Erica during the ceremony and I have to stand up and give a toast...)  Anyway, be praying for Erica and JR as they begin the rest of their lives together.  Hasta luego.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hooray for productive days.  Okay, yesterday I could have been more productive, but it's not even noon today and I've taken two quizzes, picked up and washed a punch bowl, given my Dad my tuition bill and eye doctor bill, sold $75 worth of books, went to the grocery store, deposited that $75 at the bank, and posted to my health class discussion board.

Anyway, I was feeling really convicted yesterday.  Something that kind of hit me in college was this concept of love.  Not the romantic kind (still single), but just passionate kindness for others.  It was something I was just longing for and I really had the opportunity to show love to others, especially at home.  Well, being home made it really easy to fall back into old habits and yesterday, reality hit me.  My sister was telling me about the itinerary for her wedding day and I stared complaining about her idea of getting the bridesmaids' hair done at the church at 6am and basically being there all morning.  I kept saying the bridesmaids would probably want to go home and eat breakfast and get ready and stuff, even though my sister thought it would be nice if we stayed and could watch her get her hair done.  If you haven't ever been involved in planning a wedding, when there is only a little more than a week left, things get pretty stressful and emotional.  My sister wasn't very happy with my way of thinking and let me know it.  I tried to brush it off and convince myself it was her, not me, because she was really stressed out, but I got to thinking.  What kind of job am I doing at showing love for my sister?  She asked me to be her maid of honor....did I get that right?: maid of honor.  And it's her wedding day.  For one day, you think I could stop being selfish and give up what I want to make sure everything goes as planned?  To make sure she is happy on the happiest day of her life?  Sure.  The way I reacted with my sister is not the kind of person I want to be.  I want to be loving.  I want to put others before myself and simply care for them without all my selfish motives.  My sinful nature makes it difficult, but this is the challenge I feel God is placing on my heart.  I want my prayers to be for others.  It's not all about me.

Well, this is all for now.  Hope you are having a wonderful week (whoever actually reads this).  :-)

Today is Day 133.  Praise God; He is Faithful.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Today is the day we thought JR and Erica should be married (07-07-07) but they decided it would be best to have a couple extra weeks to prepare.  A lot of people are getting married today, but Erica, six of our friends, and I are going to KC to eat and to see a Royals game as kind of a nontraditional bachlorette party.  (We're not exactly your traditional type of girls.)  So, it'll be fun.

I finished Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller and have started on his other book, Blue Like Jazz.  Though I grew up learning that writing in books was bad, college has proved otherwise, so I've recently gotten in the habit of highlighting favorite passages while I read.  Perhaps so I can go back and reread them at a later time, but mostly because I need to be able to skim through and see the main ideas because for some reason when I read books, I can finish them and greatly struggle to tell you about what I read.

So, here's a part that stuck out to me yesterday:

More than my questions about the efficacy of social action were my questions about my own motives.  Do I want social justice for the oppressed, or do I just want to be known as a socially active person?  I spend 95 percent of my time thinking about myself anyway.  I don't have to watch the evening news to see that the world is bad, I only have to look at myself.  I am not browbeating myself here; I am only saying that true life-giving, God-honoring change would have to start with the individual.  I was teh problem I had been protesting.  I wanted to make a sign that read "I AM THE PROBLEM!"

Shortly before this passage, Donald Miller was talking about how he was going with a friend to protest a speech by President Bush.  He was wondering if standing there protesting, when the President didn't even have time to talk to him and hear his views, would make a difference at all.  He says, "I think every concious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself." 

The more I think about it, probably 90% of the difficulties I face are a direct result of my selfishness.  It is difficult to think of a time of my life when I was completely selfless.  Obviously this is something I recognize and desire to overcome, but my sinful nature makes it quite difficult.  Donald Miller says he spends about 95 percent of his time thinking of himself.  I think mine's closer to 99% of the time.  Even when I do things for other people, I'm thinking about what I can get out of it, or what they now "owe" me.  It's ridiculous.  I realize being selfless is largely a maturity thing and being selfless will take time, but sometimes I wish it was something I could experience right now.  How amazing would it be to daily put others before myself, truly living for the glory of God and not being wrapped up in my own affairs?  Even with Christianity, I fall into the habit of seeking God, wondering what he could do for  me, what he could do to make my life a little easier, when he's already given so much (Jesus, remember?) and I pretty much owe everything to him and nothing I do is worth anything so it's pretty selfish of me to expect him to bless me when he owes me nothing.  I have this huge debt to him, but Jesus paid it and now God doesn't keep track of sins like a slate; the slate doesn't exist...anyway, that's getting into what I'm reading in Transforming Grace, but I'll comment on that later.  I need to dry my hair and put gas in my car.  One of Geoff's coaches from Cornell, Zack Spiker, is visiting this morning around 10.  Adios.
Oh, I don't think I've updated on this lately, but I believe today is day 128.  Praise God!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

8:07pm - Well, I shot off some bottle rockets into my dad's pond before it started raining.  I haven't been outside for about 30 min. though, so maybe it's stopped.  I miss my Manhattan friends, though.  I just want to hang out with them, so instead I'm watching episodes of The Office online (Fanpop.com).  Fortunately I get to see Bud, Jeremy, and Maria next Monday but I probably won't see Kristin until August 11 when I go to her wedding.  I got a lot of shower stuff done today for my sister's bridal shower so I feel like I'm making some progress.  There's still a lot of other things to do as far as my online classes and magazine assignments go.  Hasta luego.

5:13pm - Feliz dia de la Independencia!  It's barely after 5pm and the storm clouds are rolling in from the north.  Looking at the radar, it looks like Manhattan and Topeka are already getting it.  There's talk of postponing New Strawn's fireworks until tomorrow.



Saturday, June 30, 2007

12:11am - Guess what! It's after midnight and I'm wide awake...most likely due to the three or four Diet Code Red Mt. Dews I had between 4pm and now.  So I'm going to take this time to write up some of my notes from Falls Creek and give a little commentary and thoughts.  It might get kind of long, but I think I'll go just day by day.


6/18/07 Monday Evening Tabernacle: The theme of camp this summer is "Who do you say Jesus is?" from Luke 9:20 (look it up).  The main point the speaker hit on this night was John 8:32, "And you will know the truth, adn the truth will set you free."  Basically, what's true about me is what God says about me.  It doesn't matter if the world doesn't seem me as worthy of being "popular" or if the world thinks I'm a nerd or an outcast because I don't go out and get drunk every weekend; I am a person of value and worth because I am a child of God.  The thing about Truth is that it has an opposite: lie.  The Bible actually says that Satan is the Father of All Lies.  Basically, there is this spiritual war going on and Satan is constantly trying to get you to believe things that simply aren't true: you're too dumb, you're too fat, you're too ugly, no one is going to like you because of that thing you did last year, no one will ever love you.  Lies!  Jesus loves you intimately (enough to die for you).  We really didn't touch much on this during camp, but it reminds me of a couple of books I read that I would encourage any young women to take a look at: Do You Think I'm Beautiful?  and Stronger Than You Think.  If you need the authors, go check out my Facebook notes where I listed the books I've read and they're there.  Also, God created each of us as a work of art and we should allow our lives to be God's canvases, for him to draw and outline his will.   Also check out my poem I posted in a Facebook note titled "God's Masterpiece."  I think it goes well with what we talked about: being a child of the Creator.


6/19/07  Tuesday Morning Tabernacle: When Jesus asks, "Who do you say I am?" (Luke 9:2o), how would you go about answering that question?  First, it's important to understand why you have to answer that question and how.  There are four criteria: 1) Are they considered a major historical figure?  2) Do they have God-sized or God-like miracles attributed to them?  3) Do they have a significant number of followers?  4) Do they have convincing proof in terms of their life and death?

At this point, a couple speakers went around naming people who people assume fit the criteria but don't; figures like the prophet Mohammad and Buddha may have been real people once, but they are now dead.  Jesus lives.  How do we know?  There are four primary ways to get proof of existence: 1) Eyewitness accounts (Jesus' apostles wrote stuff down).  2) Written documents (accounts written outside of the Bible).  3) Copies for authenticity.  4) Forensic evidence, archaeology. 

How is Jesus different?  He spoke bodly, performed unparalleled miracles, obeyed extraordinarily and taught differently. 


Tuesday Evening Tabernacle: Romans 8:5 - But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinnersWow!  I'm actually going through a book right now called Transforming Grace; now, picture this.  Here we are, full of sin, and God still sent his son to die for us.  It wasn't because we worshipped together often, it wasn't because people were tithing, it was because God loves us, and, as a gift, wanted to take away the transgressions our sins would have caused.  The truth is, our disobedience has vandalized God's law.  We are sinful.  Imagine if one of your best friends decided to die in order for you to live for eternity.  Now pretend your friend lived his life in a way he wanted you to live yours.  Would you think for one second about living otherwise?  Would you do things to dishonor your friend?  Chances are, you would devote the rest of your life to telling others about how great of a guy your friend is and how you almost died, but he saved you.  Finally, Tony Nolan (the speaker), warned with Revelation 20:10 that many people will be cast into the lake of fire.  My sister and I were driving home last night a little after midnight and we concluded that, in hell, it is probably pitch dark.  This never occurred to me, because I always figured it was bright from all the fire, but if you think about it, being in hell means you are totally separated from God (the Light).


Wednesday Evening Tabernacle : Reality Check.  So, you've probably heard the old saying, "Just be yourself."  As a Christian, it is important that you be who you say you are.  Perhaps you attend youth group every week and church on Sunday morings, but at a friend's house you lose your temper easily and cuss like no other: Be a real Christian.  Matthew 7:21-23 - Not everyone who says, 'Lord, Lord,' will get to heaven.  The decisive issue is whether they obey God in heaven.  But I will reply 'I never knew you.  Go away; the things you did were unauthorized."  That's pretty much the worst thing you could hear from God: "I never knew you."  You must have a relationship with him --- remember, Christianity is not a list of formulas and rules, its a relationship.  Also, if the Holy Spirit is living in you, you won't like sin.  You can't go around doing the same immoral things you always did and not be affected by it.  I was reading in James 4 this morning (it's now 7:19am...I ended up going to bed last night), about how we fight and quarrel with one another because we desires the things each other has--because we desire earthly things that will give us pleasure but when the Holy Spirit is living in us, it is actually jealous because when we love the world, we hate God and this selfish desire we have will affect our relationships because there is this internal war going on.


Thursdsay Morning Tabernacle: What does revelation look like and what is our responsibility?  Matthew 16:13-20 talks about when Jesus was asking His disciples, "Who do you say I am?" (the same story is in Luke from a different perspective because of the synoptic gospels).  Anyway, he says that revelations are 1) not by flesh and blood, and 2) by the Father.  How does God give us revelations?  First, he has given us His Word.  The Bible tells us who he is, abotu his life, how he saves us, etc.  Next, he uses people.  For Peter, it was Jesus himself who was his revelation.  For a lot of people now, God uses others who are on fire for Christ and works through them.  God also uses prayer when we pray for others.  Finally, God uses experiences to draw us to himself.  Remember the last time everything seemed to be going wrong and you felt incredibly alone?  God uses experiences like that so that we might run to His arms and find comfort in his love and strength.

One of our duties as Christians is to share Christ with others.  This may be a poor analogie, but sometimes I think it helps to imagine if your best friend had died a horrible death for you to have eternal life.  Wouldn't you want to dedicate your life to telling others about his or her life and what he or she did for you?  Of course.   There are several ways of doing this: check out Code2Life.com where students can post how Christ has changed their lives and there are resources there for those inquiring about the faith; you can share how Christ changed your life personally, you can use a tract, or you can use the Roman Road.  Of course, these are only four ways to share your faith and you are not limited to them.  Here's the outline of the Roman Road: 1) Romans 3:23 - Everyone has sinned.  2) Romans 6:23 - The penalty for our sin is death.  3) Romans 5:8 - Christ died for our sin.  4) Romans 10:8-10 - To be forgiven for our sins, we must believe and confess that Jesus is Lord.  Salvation comes through Jesus Christ.  When you're talking with someone, ask them if there is any reason he or she does not want to pray right now.  If they decide to accept Christ, pray with them.  This may be scary, but there's an easy ABC method you can remember: (A)dmit that you are a sinner, (B)elieve that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, (C)onfess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.  Now what?  Help plug them in somewhere.  This person is still a baby Christian and you wouldn't leave an infant out in the world to fend for itself.  Mentor them and help them grow in their relationship with Christ.  Find a Bible-teaching church and look into Baptism.  Help them understand Scripture by breaking it down with the God-Follower method: 1) What does this verse say abotu God?  2) What does it say about how to follow God?


Thursday Evening Tabernacle: Matthew 4:19: Jesus called out to them, "Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!"  One way you can read this is Jesus saying, "Your relationship with me will be so attractive that others will be drawn to Me." 

There was a short video about missions while we took the offering and one quote that really stood out was "Do not stay until He [God] tells you to go; go until he tells you to stay."  That's one thing  people probably do a lot of: they hesitate and are afraid to go travel, even staying in the U.S.  But God calls us to go speak to all nations and we shouldn't hide, we should say, "Here I am, Lord!  I'll go!" 

Tony Nolan started telling us a story.  He began by defining fanatic as someone one-step under psycho, having a one-track mind and focused on only one subject.  He questioned why fishing for men (drawing others to Christ) does not have fanatics?  Churchs are declining and cults are increasing.  Iran has 40,000 suicide bombers.  Most churches last year did not see one person baptized.  There are three hindrances we face when we go on spiritual fishing trips: 1) ticks: we don't make time for it.  2) bobcats: we have a bad attitude about it, we are selfish and we are more concerned about popularity than the eternity of others.  3) snakes: we are consumed by sin.

There are some things the Bible says about being selfish.  1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love does not seek its own.  In other words, love isn't watching your own back, it's watching only the backs of others.  It's selfless.  James 1:15 hits on the consequences of being selfish and doing wrong things: These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.  Tony Nolan stated that "Locked are the lips of a sinful Christian when it comes to sharing the faith. 

We are all sinful, but there are reasons for being a fanatical fisher of men: 1) Because of what it does for our spirit.  Luke 15:7 - there will be more joy in heaven over one person who repents than 99 righteous persons who don't need to.  Tony Nolan told a story about going fishing with his son and all the other people on the lake came in for the day, announcing they had caught 40 or more fish.  Tony was slightly embarrassed because he and his son had only caught one fish but pulling up to the dock his son stood up and yelled "ONE!!!! We caught ONE!"  He was so excited to catch one even though everyone else had caught 40+.  That's the thing about fishing for men -- it's just as exciting to catch one as it is to catch 40-something.


Friday Morning Tabernacle : Read Matthew 16:13-20.  Does anything seem strange to you?  How about the part when Jesus warns his disciples not to tell anyone that he is Christ.  Aren't we supposed to tell others about Christ?  Why would he tell them not to?  Well, the Holy Spirit was not yet with the disciples (this doesn't happen until Pentecost).  When we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit moves us and convicts us, leading us into Truth and guides us in working with others and sharing our faith.  I couldn't imagine trying to witness to someone without the Holy Spirit in me -- I would stumble over my words and not know what to say.  The cool thing about the Holy Spirit is that sometimes when talking with others you'll have the right words to say and you'll be able to remember Scripture you haven't thought about in months -- that's the Holy Spirit working through you.

In Matthew 16:21-23, Jesus was telling his disciples that he would be killed and then raised from the dead on the third day.  Peter took him off to the side and said, "No, Lord!  This will never happen to you!"  Okay; I'm not sure what Peter was thinking, but telling Jesus he's wrong is a bad idea.  Jesus' reply makes #2 on the list of things you wouldn't want to hear from Jesus (#1 was "I never knew you"): "Get behind me, Satan."  Ouch.  I don't imagine Peter enjoyed hearing that.  The truth is, Jesus wasn't a softy.  He spoke truth and will confront us when we have sin in our lives.  Remember when your mom would punish you and say, "I only do this because I love you" ?  Well, that's how it is with Christ.  Some people think the best parents are those who let their children run wild and do whatever they please.  This isn't true.  Discipline + boundaries = love.

Matthew 6:24 says you can't serve two masters.  In this verse, it says you will love one and hate the other.  You can love money, or you can love God.  You can love the world, or you can love God.  Who do I say Jesus is?  Christ.  Son of the Living god.  Savior.  Redeemer.  Friend.  Galatians 2:20 says that when we accept Christ, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us.  That's pretty incredible.  Every day we are willing to put messages into our minds that contradict Christ's word.  We watch MTV and Comedy Central and VH1 and all of these TV shows and we listen to music that focuses on money and sex and we don't think it will affect us.  In the great words of David Sturgeon (my youth pastor), "Trash in equals trash out."  Romans 12:2 says "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing, and perfect will."  If Christ is your Lord, he is not only the Lord of your heart, he is the Lord of your mind, your mouth, and every other area of your life.

1 Peter 2:24: He [Jesus] personally carried away our sins in his own body ont he corss so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  You have been healed by his wounds!  Who is your God and how do you demonstrate that?  A lot of people are wary of Christianity because they see people who claim to be Christians whose lives look no different from those who do not claim to be Christians.  When we accept Christ, we die to sin.  We should no longer participate in it.  John 15:4-8 talks about jesus being the true vine.  If you do not remain in Christ, you, as a branch, will no longer produce fruit because you are not attached to the vine which gives you strength and life.  You with writher up.  What do gardeners do with branches that are writhered?  They throw them into the fire. 


Friday Evening Tabernacle: One of the things about going home from camp is that you are often on this emotional high after spending a week with other Christians in the Arbuckle Mountains away from the temptations and pressures of the world.  At a place like Falls Creek, you aren't hit every day with the pressure to watch bad TV, listen to ungodly music, or to cheat or steal or get drunk.  Going home can be the toughest part, so you have to make up your mind not to let the devil get the victory when you go home.

Tony Nolan told a story of a man who ran into a convenience store to rob it.  He had his hand under his shirt and told the store clerk that he had a gun.  He said, "Give me all your money!"  The clerk said, "No!"  He argued with her and said he was going to shoot her head off.  She refused to give him the money.  They got into such an argument that he began waving his arms around over his head and shouting at her to give her the money.  At this point, she realized the robber didn't have a gun; he had just been sticking his fingers out under his shirt.

Here's the truth:  Satan does not have a gun.  Colossians 2:15: In this was God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities.  He shamed them publicly by his vicotry over them on the cross of Christ.  Remember in The Passion when Jesus died on the cross?  Was the devil throwing a party and celebrating?  No!  He was shown just screaming in anguish because he realized he had lost.  Satan, the ultimate thief, ambushes us and throws messages in our minds: give me your joy, give me your testimony, give me your soul.  Let me say this again: Satan has no gun.  We are not fighting for victory (Jesus already won); we are fighting from it.  We can't allow Satan to win, so we can say "No!" 

Just because we are Christians doesn't mean we can do wahtever we want, repent, and be good.  Romans 14:12 says So, then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.  On Judgment Day (when we die or when Jesus returns), we will have to stand before the Father and give an account of everything we have done (or didn't do).  Imaging myself stand before the Father on Judgment Day makes me rethink my reasons for not being bold and loving on others.  God isn't going to say, "Well, it's okay that you didn't reach out to that person in your class.  I understand the popular kids would have made fun of you."  No!  That's no excuse.  God doesn't care about who is popular -- he shows no favoritism.  Afterall, isn't your classmate's eternity so much more important than your popularity? 


Anyway, that concludes my notes from Falls Creek.  It was amazing.  I pray that woever reads this finds comfort in the Truth and if you have any questions feel free to ask me or Facebook me or connect with someone in your church.  It's still raining, by the way.  There are puddles in the yard but I find peace in Genesis 9:15: I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  That was God's promise to us after the whole Noah's ark thing.  Have a good weekend. 


Monday, June 25, 2007

Well, it's been over a week.  My apologies, but I've been at Falls Creek all last week and it will probably take me awhile to get my thoughts and experiences about that on here, but I felt moved/inspired to write right now anyway.  If I could give you any advice that would change the way you live your life, it would be to love one other.  This is even written out in 1 John 4:7: "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God."  Maybe being at camp just reminded me that there is so much more than these things we do day-to-day, but my heart is just wanting to scream at people, "Love him!  Love her!  Stop your slander and malice!"  The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  One thing about being in college is that it makes your realize how dumb the things you did in high school were.  I know I'm guilty of gossiping and criticizing others but this isn't solely a characteristic of immature high school students.  This is true of everyone -- even adults.  I realize the things I dislike the most in others are things I often dislike the most about myself, so I don't mean to put anyone down because I myself make the same mistakes.  But instead of being impatient when a mother at the grocery store can't stop her child from crying, when a friend jokingly says something that comes across as rude, or someone in your family does something that makes you angry, I challenge you not to react with hatred or pessimism.  Love them.  Even if you are dealing with a person you can't stand, love him or her.  Sometimes that seems impossible, or maybe you don't know how.  The best way to love a person is to pray for that person.  I think too often we get wrapped up in our own needs and begin neglecting the needs of others, of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Change.  Next time you pray, don't spend the whole time praying for yourself.  Pray for others, for their needs, their pain, their relationship with Christ.  You'll be amazed at how you begin to see other people in a new light.  Anyway, that's what is currently on my mind.  I'll try to find some time tonight to write more about Falls Creek.  Ciao.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

8:43pm - So I've been working on homework, mostly watching online lecture videos, but I did take some time to make snickerdoodles and buy some Diet Mt. Dew Code Red to keep me awake tonight.  I woke up at 5:50 this morning since I was used to getting up to hop on the bike...anyway, I dinked around Google for awhile looking for Edvinas Volkas (the charge on my debit card) and also researching Central National's bank policies.  Fortuantely there is zero liability on my part (unless they determine I was negligent with my card, but I wasn't), and they should reimburse me within 10 days.  Anyway, the only thing I could find associated with Edvinas Volkas was a Spanish site where it was listed as a name above what seemed to be products including the Spanish words for beer and wine.  Then I kept finding hits linking the name to Lituania (Lithuania).  I found a Lithuanian online phonebook in English and apparently Volkas is a common Lithuanian last name, and there was one listing for a Volkas, Edvinas.  Unfortunately any other site I found that may have been related was in Lithuanian and I can't translate that to English.  Anyway, CNN aired a special tonight called "How to Rob a Bank" and it was about how people steal money through ID theft and the like.  I missed the beginning that focused on individuals, but it talked about how it's not too hard for someone to steal company checks, set up a false mailing address, forge a notary stamp in Texas, and a few other steps to collect millions of dollars from major corporations.  It kind of made me scared because it said our financial system is built largely on trust (you see "Bank & Trust"), trust that the piece of paper or plastic you hold in your hand has value, that the signature on your check is valid, etc.  I'm pretty careful about using secure online shopping sites and I'm lucky I check my online bank statement frequently.  Anyway, more homework.  This is going to be a long night.  It wouldn't be so bad if I could just focus and get it done, but I get distracted.  Oops.  Hopefully I'll get most of it done tonight because I really want to go to the pool tomorrow or at least have time to lay out and try to get rid of some of these horrible biker tan lines.


10:10am - Problem solved, I suppose.  The bank shredded my debit card and put it on the hot card list and are working on getting me my money back along with a brand new card.  Wow, I really could have done without that.  These types of things aren't supposed to happen to a 19-year-old.  Thank you Central National Bank for being so nice and making it easy to solve the problem.


9:35am - Great.  I just deposited my paycheck and when I got home I checked
my online bankstatement.  There is a charge of $424.02 at an Edvinas Volkas (Location: Oxford).  I have my debit card, so it wasn't stolen, but I called the bank and they said the charge showed my card was swiped for it.  So now I need to go down and fill out a Point of Sale Dispute Form for unauthorized charges.  My stress level right about now: very high.  :-(


Hey!  Don't scroll down!  That's right; I've reversed this page so you can read the new entries right here at the top.  Pretty convenient, eh?  Well, I'm home.  Yesterday I rode 78 miles into Troy, KS where I packed up my things in the car and came home.  I had 505 miles which was 5 more than the distance across Kansas (according to BAK) so my dad, Karen, and I decided to come home instead of hanging around an extra night to ride 12 miles into Elwood this morning.  So we got home last night after 9pm instead of today in the afternoon.  It was nice taking a shower by myself and sleeping in my own bed, as opposed to an air mattress (where I would wake up on the floor every morning; I think it was leaky).  Anyway, my homecoming wasn't so wonderful.  I don't think my mom was in a very good mood but I don't really think this is the place to get into details, either.  Anyway, I suppose I was just disappointed I didn't get a big welcome with questions about my week or anything.  Oh well.
So I'm not really very educated about how bodies work, but this is a mystery to me: in the last eight days, I rode 505.25 miles (40 hours and 45 minutes) and burned a little more than 15,000 calories.  Yet, I gained three pounds.  A little math shows to gain three pounds while burning that many calories, I would have had to eat like 3,400 extra calories each day.  There is absolutely no way I ate that much.  So how is it that I can exercise six hours a day and still gain three pounds?  Even if I gained muscle in my legs or something, why didn't I lose fat anywhere else?  This puzzles me greatly and is frustrating.  If you can explain this, please do.

Anyway, my next two days are dedicated to online homework.  I will try not to be too distracted by Facebook and Google, but it will happen.

Anyway, the trip home was scary.  The fastest I've travelled in the last 8 days was 32 miles an hour (down a big hill) and all of a sudden I'm going 72.  Yikes!
Day 107.  Praise God; I am looking forward to next week away from all worldly distractions to have a little time with the Father.  Falls Creek usually proves to be the best weeks of my life.



Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'll admit it: when I'm hot, tired, and stuck in a crowded building, I get a little cranky.  I rode 80.14 miles today, averaging 11.7 miles per hour.  When I finally got here to Centralia, the only good news was that there was wireless access in the gym and library.  I'm in the library now, the only semi-air-conditioned room in the building.  My air mattress is in the gym surrounded by a couple hundred others.  I'll take a picture and get it up on Facebook eventually.  Oh, by the way, this wireless Internet blocks Facebook.  I have no access.  So there are 12 e-mails in my inbox notifying me of Facebook messages and wall posts and photo comments and I cannot access them.  And, if you couldn't tell, this is the first place I've had Internet access in the last four days.  I can't even remember the last time I went four days without the Internet.  I did take a little time on Tuesday to write something up in Word, so before I continue with today's events, here's Tuesday:


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Well, neither Hoisington or Lincoln, KS have been good to be in providing wireless internet where we are staying.  I, Alyssa Reeves, am an obsessive e-mail checker, so not knowing what awaits me in my inbox drives me a little crazy.  Just a little.  Two words to sum up today and yesterday: head winds.  Yesterday was really hard; today we were able to ride north most of the morning and only faced winds mostly during the last 15 miles of our ride (extremely difficult).  My speedometer shows I rode 77.04 miles today. 


Speaking of my speedometer, it has been found!  Well, it found me.  I was riding along on Monday toward Hoisington on Highway 4 (mile marker 112 to be exact) when I hear “clunk, clunk, CLUNK! Clunkity…clack.”  And something falls between my front tire and nearly takes me down (not really, but it did catch me off-guard).  And I looked back in the road, thinking somehow I might have dropped something when I see an object slightly resembling a chunky black rock in the road.  I swung my bike around to take another look and was fascinated to find it was the speedometer I had been missing 1.5 days.  I rode all of Sunday without it.  And now I have no way to explain how it fell except to say that it fell from the sky.  Amazing.


Monday morning we were off just before 7am when we were suddenly stopped 3 miles out of Ness City.  The fog was so thick that we could barely see the next power pole.  So the State Troopers decided for our safety’s sake we should take a break until the fog lifted.  We, along with about 150 other people, stood off the highway for one hour until we had the okay to continue.  I took the opportunity to take some pictures and video (see YouTube link on Facebook).  This put us an hour behind and so I didn’t get into town until 3:30pm when it was starting to get pretty hot.  Hoisington’s Activity Center, where we stayed, is amazing.  It’s huge and very air-conditioned.  My only complaint is that there was no wireless Internet.


Today was fairly easy going until after stopped for lunch in Wilson, KS.  The restaurant we stopped at, Made from Scratch, was good, but we were there an hour because the rush of bikers overwhelmed their staff of about five.  We served ourselves water, though.  Then on the way out of town I got ahead of my dad and missed our turn.  I made it nearly ½ mile out when two random bikers came by and said if I was with BAK, I was going the wrong way.  Slightly embarrassed, I headed back to Wilson to catch up with my dad.  He didn’t even realize I was gone.  He thought I was way ahead of him.  Thank goodness for those other bikers to stop me; that could have been bad.


We went around Wilson Lake which was absolutely beautiful.  There were two major hills which were slow going.  It was starting to get hot and several people jumped in the lake.  The last town we stopped in was Sylvan Grove where we got homemade ice cream at the City Park.  It was delicious.  The last 15 miles were extremely hard.  I’m not sure I would have made it if my dad hadn’t let me draft behind him to cut down on the wind.


Lincoln had a shuttle service (individuals driving people around in their mini vans) so we wouldn’t have to walk everywhere.  The school is kind of on the outside of town.  We went to the Methodist Church for their spaghetti dinner (huge) and ate in 20 min. so we could make it to the 6pm showing of Spiderman 3 for only $1.  It was good.  I’m not a huge fan of the action-packed fighting stuff, but I enjoyed the love-story part.  I haven’t ever seen Spiderman 1 or 2 but I had heard enough from people that I got the idea of what was going on.  Well, this weekend will be crazy because I’m still not feeling like doing homework.  I’ll have to pull a couple of all-nighters before Falls Creek to finish it. 


I’m excited because tomorrow (after our 78-mile ride), I’ll get to see Bud, Jeremy, and Maria who are awesome enough to drive almost an hour to come visit me.


Anyway, yesterday was cool.  I beat my dad and Karen into town by 45 minutes and snagged a decent sleeping spot in a hallway.  Jeremy and Bud met me downtown in Clay Center for dinner, and then we played in the park where Jeremy and Bud set bad examples for a little red-headed kid and almost killed themselves by climbing up on top of a 13-foot concrete structure.  They had to stand on each other's shoulders to get up.  It was pretty impressive.  Then we went back to the school (where I slept) and did some sudokus and crosswords in a day-old newspaper.  It was wonderful.


Anyway, I'm thankful for the schools in USD 244.  Centralia's school...sucks.  Only two of the showers work so I had to stand in line to use them.  And they were open.  A lot of the schools this week have had open showers, but most of them also had private ones next to them.  Perhaps I am just extremely modest and conscientious about my body, but I don't understand how women can walk around naked like it's absolutely nothing.  It's kind of gross.  I think sin, which made us aware of our nakedness, is enough reason for me to want to cover up.  That's about all I want to say about that.


Let's see...today's lunch stop was in a town called Blue Rapids where they served a spaghetti dinner (though all their signs read "spagetti" dinner.  They had a dark room right off the cafeteria with lawn chairs and reclining seats where we could take power naps if we so desired.  I rested there a few minutes; it was very nice. 


The last few days have provided good riding weather.  Yesterday was cloudy and I was sprinkled on the last 15 miles or so, but today was cloudy, nearly windless, and I only got a little rain for about 3 minutes.  It was pretty nice not having to worry about getting another sunburn.  My arms aren't red anymore, but my right one is peeling in sheets.  It's pretty incredible but kind of gross at the same time.


Tomorrow we ride 75 miles to Troy, KS and then we have 12 more to the Missouri River at Elwood.  My dad, Karen, and I are thinking about going the 75, loading our stuff up into the car when Dan and Mary [Levering] come pick us up, and then finishing the 12 miles (it'll take about an hour) and then going home Friday night.  The good news would be that we'd be home and we wouldn't have to spend the night in Troy and have to get up the next morning to ride 12 miles, but unfortunately we would miss the end-of-the-ride lunch celebration thingy.  I'm looking forward to being home, though, if only for a couple of days.  And the ride home will only be 2-3 hours instead of 7-8. 


Well, I'm going to try to check my online courses.  If I get desperate, I'll find a public library to update my Facebook, but you might all have to wait until I get home and find some time (I'm sure I'll be horrible and update Facebook before I get my homework done).  Thank you to anyone and everyone who has been reading this.  I enjoy the updates.  I'm thinking about adding more pages so you don't have to scroll down to the bottom every time to read my new stuff; or I'll just move everything around and add to the top.  Adios amigos.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

57 miles to Ness City, Kansas in 3:50:00.  We rode about 55 miles today, bringing our total so far to 122.  We're over 1/5 done.  This was a good day for SAG stops: they had bananas AND Jolly Ranchers!  Maybe writing that yesterday helped.  Let's see...hmm...it'd be wonderful if the SAG stops had steak and ice cream!  :-)  I stopped at a gas station in Dighton to use the bathroom and there was a 20-minute wait!  By the time I was done, my dad and Karen were five miles ahead of me.  We still managed to finish by 1pm.  Since I burned my arms yesterday the sun made them hurt even worse and I was constantly (every 10 miles) slopping on plenty of sunscreen.  It's only 2:45pm now and I should probably do some of my online homework.  Dad wants to go out and find some ice cream.  Yum.  :-)  The BAK camera guy has been taking a lot of pictures of me today so check BAK.org every now and then to see if he ever posts them.  Well, adios for now.  I'll try to find a plug in and say more later before my computer battery dies.


9:00pm - We went over to the "Skyscraper of the Plains" in Ness City, KS.  It's a four-story bank with 13-foot ceilings.  The rooms are incredible; I would love to live there, apartment-style.  They said none of the business that have ever operated in that building have made money.  Weird.  It was cool, though.    I've been updating pictures on Facebook if you want to check those out.  There are also pictures on BAK.org. 

We went to a comedian's show at the "Skyscraper..."  It was pretty funny.  I put a link under a photo of him on Facebook if you want to know more.  I'm pretty dang tired so I'll probably just go to bed instead of doing homework.  Tomorrow we are going to Hoisington, a 55-mile day.  Then we go to Lincoln, then Clay Center, then Centralia, then Troy, then to the Missouri River at Elwood.  A long ways to go and I hate that I lost my bike computer (spedometer/odometer) because now I can't tell how fast or how far i'm going and sometimes not knowing if I have 20 or 4 miles to go can get discouraging.  Anyway, be praying for the safety of everyone here.  There haven't been any major injuries yet but the highways will get busier the farther east we go.  Talk to you later, guys.


Saturday, June 9, 2007

1:30pm -- Happy Birthday Jamie!  So today we rode from Tribune to Scott City -- about 44 miles.  We were done by about 1pm.  The wind was pretty strong from the south but fortunately the road was turned just enough that it was helping us out just a little bit.  I'm feeling all right now, but I'm sure in the next two or three days my legs my start complaining.  I'm hungry pretty much all of the time because each day we ride burns a lot of calories, and I don't think I'm eating enough to make up for it.  The SAG stops don't have that great of food: orange slices and pretzels and animal crackers.  I'd prefer something like bananas and Jolly Ranchers. :-)  So I'm waiting to find a shower...the one lockerroom I went into had a line of about 8 women in front of me and they were waiting to use the three showers which I heard have only been supplying very cold trickles.  Great.  This school is pretty nice, though (besides the showers).


Friday, June 8, 2007

Well, I'm leaving for the Colorado border this morning.  The next 8 days of my life will be all about biking...across the state.  It's approximately 500 miles.  I'm taking my computer to get some of my online course work done so I might try updating here every now and then -- does anyone even read this?  I'm not sure, but it's okay.  Adios, friends.  Day 99.  Praise God.  It's been tough lately.

4:10pm...Still headed out west.  I'm at a gas station in Ness City.  (There's wireless internet around here!) The drive has been extremely long and I can't wait to get there and walk around.


Wednesday, June 5, 2007

My how easy it is to forget to update!  Geoff got home yesterday.  He spent a couple of days in New York at his girlfriend's house.  I haven't seen him a whole lot because I've been working and he stays with my dad during the summer (granted he lives right across the street...weird, huh?)  I'm starting to worry I'm not going to get all of these online course assignments done before I leave for BAK and Falls Creek.  My dad said he thinks I'll have internet access on BAK (yay) but I'd hate to spend my evenings doing homework instead of going out and seeing the towns.  I'm sure it will work out, though, God-willing.  It always does.

So last night I went to the Sturgeon's at 9pm to talk and hang out.  I told my mom I'd be gone an hour, but at 10 we started watching a movie.  And I left my phone in my car.  And then I fell asleep.  So around 11:30 the doorbell rings, and it's my mom.  Pretty embarrassing.  I realize it was my fault for not being home when I said I would be and for not having my phone, but considering I've never gotten into trouble, never went out in high school, I'd have a little freedom while I'm home from college.  Of course there was yelling at "you could have been laying in a ditch somewhere!"  Perhaps this type of thinking is something I will only understand when I have children of my own.


I had my phone interview today for being a contributor to the new KSU magazine.  I think it went pretty well.  I'm very excited for the chance to write feature stories.  This will be a great experience if they decide they want me.  And it pays compensations per story--not that money was really important to me because I do have another job, but it'll be a nice perk.


Gas is finally down to $2.99 again.  I put $30 in my car and it almost filled me up.  So that's $50 so far this summer spent on gas...and it's only the beginning of June!  I don't anticipate I'll have to drive much the rest of the summer though--I ride my bike to and from work.  I'll be going to KC to pick up Erica's wedding dress before she leaves for Cozumel, and then again for Kristin's wedding.  I've got a trip to Topeka for a dress-fitting and a couple to Emporia for dentist and orthodontist appointments.  Hopefully we'll take my sister's car for those, though.  Or my dad will pay.  My dad just took $27 out of my checking account for text-messaging charges.  Whoa!  I really don't text that often, but I think I'm going to go ahead and buy a plan so I'll get 300 for like $6/mo.


Well, I've got to go find something for lunch.  This is my last day to work for 21 days!   Btw, this is day 97.  97!! Praise God.  He is faithful and good.  Adios.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today was beautiful = lots of people at the pool.  I jumped in the water during my first break but found it quite chilly and only swam for about 10 minutes.  I suppose if I had all day there, I would have gotten used to it.  Tomorrow it is supposed to rain a lot, so we might not open or we'll close early.  Fridays are inservice days which means we might have to swim laps.  I don't hate it, I'm just horrible at it.  I think I forget to breathe.

Oh, yeah!  BIG news!  I get to go to the Goo Goo Dolls concert in KC!  My dad and my stepmom just celebrated their first anniversary and the tickets were a gift to my dad from Karen.  She got me one, too, because she knew I really wanted to go.  I'm pretty excited.  The Goo Goo Dolls are my favorite secular band.  Lifehouse will also be there (best known for Hanging by a Moment, and You & Me).  I like them, too.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from my English advisor that she forwarded from someone else and apparently the company who publishes CHALK magazine at the University of Kansas is looking to get one started at Kansas State.  They're looking for writers, photographers, and illustrators to contribute and basically get it started.  So I turned in my resume and some samples of my writing and hopefully my phone interview next Wednesday will go well and I'll be able to participate in such a great opportunity.  Even though I'm not too sure about wanting a career as a writer, I think doing something like this will be an incredible experience.  The magazine would only come out once each semester, but at KU it prints 15,000 copies.  Wow!  So I'm really hoping this works out for me, God-willing.

Geoff's still in France and Erica's still in Alaska; a blog on the Cornell site said a player from a Luxemborg team shoved Geoff on the ground and had both teams off the bench.  Also, apparently the referees aren't very fair over there.  Geoff's home on Monday, though.  I'm looking forward to seeing him.

This Saturday I get to go to KC for a wedding shower.  I'm very happy I'll get to see some friends I haven't seen in about three weeks.  Well, time for bed.  Day 91, Praise God.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hey, hello.  So, some bad news.  My kitty, Milo, has been missing for about a week.  She's the third cat we've lost; the other two most likely by coyotes.  It's possible she has suffered the same fate.  My mom is throwing around the possibility of getting another kitten so Inky won't be lonely (though I imagine he is much happier now because Milo used to bite him all the time).  But then again, "there's no such thing as a free kitten."  We'd have to pay for shots and make sure it's house-trained and deal with shedding.  For me, a cat lover, I think it's worth it.  Have you ever held a tiny kitten in your hand?  Have you ever had a purring, sleepy kitten snuggle up to your neck?  It's adorable.  So, hopefully I'll have a new kitten sometime this summer, but if not, I'll survive.  Being at college makes it kind of hard to enjoy them anyway.

So I've been doing a study in the book of James.  I'll share a little bit of what stood out to me today:

     James 2:12-13 So whenever you speak, or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law of love, the law that set you free.  For there will be no mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others.  But if you have been merciful, then God's mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you.

    Lately I've been realizing how incredibly selfish I am.  Everything is about me.  All of my actions are made in order to bring about something for my own benefit.  All of my desires are selfish.  This is something I'm struggling with.  How awesome would it be to make it to the point where I feel selfless even 50% of the time?  The fact that I am judged by the law of love moves me to obey that law, to love others as myself, to put others' needs before my own and simply pour my life into the wellbeing of people other than myself.  Also, don't miss that little tidbit after the first verse: "the law that set you free."  To me, this shows that the law of love isn't one that binds us down and restricts us as we tend to think of most laws and rules.  This law allows us to be free.  It releases us of our chains and burdens and because of the love of Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin.  Finally, I have not been merciful to others.  I blame others where they are lacking despite my own sin and impossibility to achieve perfection.  I want to challenge myself to show mercy to others.  I'm often reminded of this when I see parents interacting with their children at the pool.  Perhaps never having experienced parenthood, I don't quite understand, but seeing a child make a mistake like dropping their food on the ground or losing their goggles, it's so easy for parents to be angry and scold their children.  But what if we reacted differently?  What if everyone began showing mercy?  How many times have we made similar mistakes?  We make huge ones regularly and Christ is constantly pouring His mercy over us.  This reminds me of Sara Evans' song "You'll Always Be My Baby."  Check out the lyrics if you've never heard it.  Even when the girl makes a mistake a lets her father down, he doesn't get angry.  He simply wraps his arms around her and promises he will always love her.  God is just like that.

Well, I have to get ready for work.  Hope you have a wonderful day.  Btw, this is day 90 for me.  Praise God.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

So I've yet to figure out all the tricks to making a Google page.  So, this is my test page.  This summer has been pretty relaxed so far.  I've started working on my online classes and I've been lifeguarding at the pool.  This morning I finished my sister's wedding invitations.  She's in Alaska right now on a mission trip.   And actually, my brother is in France.  He's playing basketball there.  Unfortunately before the team left, someone got into the lockerroom and stole Geoff's laptop, digital camera, and passport.  Cornell had to find him a new passport so he could go to France.  He wrote an e-mail saying the food there is yucky and so expensive, so he's hungry all the time.  I don't have any way to contact Erica, so I won't see her until I get back from Biking Across Kansas on June 16.  (Then we leave for Falls Creek two days later!)  Well, this is all for now.  Adios.


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