Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hello friends, Goodbye friends

I was out on the biology trails today...

...and I met some new friends. Hello friends!

This little guy appeared to be climbing up thin air. But then I realized he was on the tiniest of silk-strings. He very patiently endured the large black lens pointed at him and continued his trek upwards. I was amazed at his persistence. He just kept going up! And believe me, the tree was a LONG ways up there. I photographed him until he was too high for me to reach. And still he continued, upwards and forward. I hope he made it. I wonder what his mission was. I bet he's resting on some cozy leaf high up in that tree right this minute. Goodbye friend.

This gal was the coolest little bug ever. She was also amazingly hard to photograph. I need to get a macro lens. I was able get a few pictures that showed her tiny little body with this incredibly random fluffy cotton-like stuff coming out of her back. She happily crawled round and round on my foot as I took pictures. She must have been getting her exercise in for the day. Finally, after enduring her tickling toes as log as I could, I gently blew her off into the leaves. Goodbye friend.

I was so completely distracted by my new friends that time flew by and I realized that I was mightily late for the post-finals party over at the Student Park. I ran back to my room, took a quick shower, hastily cut my onion (lol, yes Emily Fisher ;>), and ran over to the pavilion to hang out with my human friends. It's so awesome to have so many friends all together in one place. And it's really sad too, because many of them are there for the last time. So we ate and laughed, talked and cried (well, I didn't, but maybe somebody did), slack-lined and played Frisbee. I love those people. Here are a few pictures of some of my friends who are leaving, some for good and some for just a year. Kelsey, Barry, Bekah, Andrew, Roland, Linnea, Lorrie, Jackie, and many more. They will be missed. Goodbye friends. :(

But guess what!? Friends are returning as well! It's incredible how when someone leaves, you get so used to life without them. It's going to be so weird to have Joel, Kristin, Ivan, Caitlin, and several other old friends back next year. I can't wait. Hello friends! :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lemon rasberry pantalons with a Danish twist!

Tricia, Sarah, and I have been studying the Bible together all year and it's been an awesome experience filled with good times, lots of laughs, and, best of all, spiritual growth. Tricia will be going to Denmark next year as a student missionary so tonight we helped her make a blog so we can keep in touch. Check it out at

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sabbath Recipe

1 beautiful Sabbath afternoon
A healthy dose of nature
A handful of friends (including the mischievous Timothy George and Andrew Fisher)
1 Canon G9 camera


Nature + Human:

Timothy Morgan George:

Andrew Kenton Fisher:

Timothy + Andrew:

Narrow, curvy country road + three girls in a toyota:


5 weeks ago yesterday I went on a hike to Cloudland Canyon with some friends . While bushwhacking down the side of steep incline, I got poison ivy/poison oak (not sure which one) and my right upper arm was soon covered with quite a disturbing and VERY itchy rash.

The rash is mainly gone now except for a little roughness to the skin. But it still itches. Weird how that works.

Life works the same way sometimes. It's called memories.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The futility of life came over me just now. I go to school, gain knowledge, read books, write papers, live the crammed life of a college student. But what impact am I making?

The wind blows in the open window as I read, nudging the window shade strings hanging down the wall, twisting them around. Why am I inside? The day is glorious. Yet I remain inside. Reading. Learning. Digressing. Remembering. Am I really living, here in this secluded dorm room.

Life is composed of people, not knowledge. People are what matters. Relationships. Communication. Interaction.

Living. That’s what I want to do. I want to live. I want to taste, I want to feel, I want to experience. And not through books or other people’s experiences. I want to see it for myself. I don’t want to view the effects of the wind from my window. I want to be out IN the wind, feeling firsthand its effects on my life.

I’m tired of unfulfilled dreams. I’m tired of my goals passing under the bridge of my life like a sullied river. I want to be accomplishing, doing, living.

Maybe I have senioritis. This reminds me of my last year of academy. I was a junior. All my friends were graduating. I was ready for life to move on. I wanted change, newness. I was ready for the next adventure, the unknown that was just around the trail’s bend up ahead. I’m ready for that now. My solution in academy was to skip my senior year. Looking back, I don’t regret it. Sure, I missed a great year, at least it was great according to my former classmates. But I wasn’t jealous. I had continued on in the adventure of life. I was living. I was experiencing. The breeze was full on my face.

The breeze has died. I am bored. College isn’t new anymore. I used to wonder why people would ever want to leave college. It’s awesome! Now I understand. I’m ready for the next mountain to summit, the next valley to descend, the next bend in the trail to discover, the next skill to master, a new friend to make, a new culture to lose myself in.

My solution? I don’t know. I decided to stay here instead of going to ARISE and then on to a semester of SM work, which had been my original plan last semester. But I’m restless. Maybe it’s because I’m watching my friends move on to new things, new heights, new challenges. And in a way, I’m being left behind.

But I am reminded of Moses who spent 40 years in the wilderness before getting on to what you might call his “life’s calling.” It was there that God developed Moses’ character into one that truly reflected Him. And I remember David and his time in the pastures, tending his flock. It was there that he learned courage, patience, and a deep, impenetrable faith in a living God. Might this be my time of wandering? My time of growth? My time to learn patience, my time for God to refine, mold, and build. To teach me lessons that I will need for the work He will call me to.

By my rush to live, do I miss the reality of truly living? Because life is about about a day-to-day, moment-to-moment walk with God. About being in-step with Him no matter the circumstance, no matter the place. In the boring, in the mundane, the unexciting and unappealing, in what my human eyes see as small and unimportant. It’s about walking hand-in-hand, about keeping Him right before my eyes at every moment, so close that I can see the light reflex in His eyes. And you know what I see? My own image, reflected in His eyes, because He’s staring straight back at me.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"God works out His plans, though to human eyes they are veiled in mystery. Men cannot understand the ways of God; and, looking at appearances, they interpret the trials and tests and provings that God permits to come upon them as things that are against them, and that will only work their ruin." -EGW, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 672

Same situation, two different views. Mine and God's. One is shrouded in fog. The other has God's clarity in every mountain and in every valley. Oddly enough, they both still have beauty. Faith is trusting that the second scene exists even though the first is all I see.

"Providences that are now mysterious you may solve by continued trust in God." -EGW, Prophets and Kings, p. 175

*Photo credits for the two middle pictures go to Jonathan Gerrans. The photo's were taken on our 2007 October backpacking trip.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Language and Identity

At the Dean's Luncheon this past Tuesday, several Southern Scholar's presented their Senior Projects to some of the most brilliant minds on campus. Science, Religion, English, and History teachers filled the room. A few isolated students were mixed in, their youth exacerbated by the intelligence that surrounded them.

The first scholar, a science major, presented a complex research project that had something to do with chemical reactions and heat. The title was long, complicated, and completely foreign to me: "Activation Energy of the Formation of the Allylic Carbocation in the Dehydration of the 4-Methylcyclohexanol in Concentrated Sulfuric Acid". Numbers, letters, percentages, and long, hyphenated words slid from her mouth like melted butter. As she spoke, I attempted to mentally translate what seemed like an alien language into something that I could identify with. ... .... Nope, nothing. I'm sure her research was fascinating with a host of practical implications, but I was completely lost. It meant nothing to me because I had no conceptual base or framework from which to process the information. I'm a nursing major. I deal with sick people not "Allylic Carbocation in the Dehydration of 4-Methylcyclohexanol." It was like I was wandering upside down and inside out in a world where everything was composed of something that I had never seen before with foreign creatures making unintelligible noises that I couldn't hear.

The last presentation was done by an English/International Studies major. Interestingly enough, she had written a set of three essays about identity, with experiences from her travels as a student studying abroad. What composes our identity and what happens when one or more of those components are missing? One element was language. As she shared, it became apparent that language is essential to the expression our identity; our personalities, our goals and dreams, and just who we are as a person. Having spent a year in a Spanish speaking country, the presenter was acutely aware of the frustrations that come from the language barrier. Using Hellen Keller's experience as an example, she showed how language and the ability to communicate loosens chains that bind expression and silence the melody of a soul. It gives our identity a precious freedom to just be.

As I was about to fall asleep last night, these two presentations kept running through my mind. The language of the first presentation, while comprehensible to a few, meant nothing to me. Communication didn't happen. This did not indicate any lack of ability on the presenter's part; she knew the language just fine. The obstacle came when the presenter spoke a different language than that of the audience.

Each one of us has a language. It's more of a life-language than an actual verbal dialect. Its vocabulary is made up of our interpretation and reaction to our individual experiences. Our past influences how we respond to the present and how we react to others. It colors everything we do. We can't escape from it. It's our language. It's inborn, instinctive, and unconscious. It affects the advice we give and how we respond to advice received. The friendships we seek, the things we value, our goals and dreams - they all are inexplicably intertwined with our own individual language made up by our past. This language and view on life composes our identity.

Just as difficulties presented themselves when the languages being used to communicate were not the same, so also do probems arise when we think everyone else speaks the same life-language we do.

Solution? Learn a new language. I could take some science classes and, within a few years, be just as proficient with those long words and technical sounding jargon as that Southern Scholar. I would be able to converse on these topics with relative ease, able to understand just how each small piece fits into the puzzle of the world. In dealing with life and humans, I can stop assuming that everyone speaks the same life-language as I do and seek to learn their language. I can find out what past experiences have influenced their identity and how it affects their current actions. I know that seems like such a simple conclusion for such a complicated lead-up. But it's harder than it looks. It takes effort. More effort, sometimes, than I want to give.

But there is another side to the story because every once in while, someone comes along who speaks the same language as you. It won't ever be exactly the same, because no one has had exactly the same experiences that you've had, but it could be a similar dialect, a cousin to your own. Their experiences resonate with yours. Something clicks and communication happens. It flows, a refreshing rush of comprehension. Sometimes it's like a waterfall - an attempt to pour it all out while you can. Other times it's a steady stream, constant and plentiful. This type of a connection is rare and shouldn't be taken for granted. It is a gift.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Calm after the [almost] tornado :(

I'm sure many of you heard about the tornadoes here in Tennessee earlier this weekend. Well, it did provide some nice Friday afternoon excitement. (Good running weather too, just in case you were wondering ;>)

I watched the weather unfold from a number of locations: local roads, the frisbee field, Jonathan Gerran's apartment, random spots across campus, basement of the dorm (They caught me and made me go downstairs. I was perturbed.), and my dorm room.

After the dark swirling clouds and gusts of obstreperous wind that brought with it deafening tornado sirens and a nice British lady's voice instructing us all to take cover came a softening sky filled with sunlit clouds and soft hues of peace. I only had the time to take a quick shot from my dorm room:

P.S. The author would like to thank the absent Timothy Morgan G. for providing yummy sorbet for her tornado watching experience. It hit the spot.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Simple Joys

Music and little kids

Homemade food (Allana's pita bread)


Monday, April 06, 2009

Pensive Skies

Today was a beautiful day. I love dark grey skies contrasted with bright green grass. Add a healthy dose of wind and a few shafts of sunlight piercing through and the day is just about perfect.

Here's a panorama picture I took in Knoxville 2 weekends ago right before it began to pour down raining. The sky was amazing!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Team Marro Rosqa'a

Event: Dusk 'till Dawn Adventure Race
Team: Shama Eller, Timmy G, Casey Walter, Christy Kurtz

It's incredible how a team works. No single individual could run the race alone. All of our team members were familiar with climbing gear, ascension systems, and rope technician information. However, life tends to throw curveballs every once in a while. Here area few highlights of how each member of our team brought something to the table that no one else could have provided.

Shama Eller - The floor of the glass case was literally writhing with the movement of terrified scorpions. The instructions were for two of our team members to pick up four scorpions and transport them to another tray. This had to be accomplished before we could continue on to the next event. Casey led the way, moving three of the four scorpions by himself. Timothy George, master of all wriggling creatures, seemed to be the next obvious choice to transport the remaining scorpion. But who would have expected that the scorpion was the one disgusting, nasty creature that he is afraid of. But that didn't stop Shama. Without hesitation, she grabbed the gloves from Timothy and stuck her hand in the cage. With hardly a grimace she deposited the wriggling scorpion safely on the tray. Her quick, decisive movements enabled our team to move quickly on to the next event.

Timothy George - Master of trades, this monkey is pretty much an all-around do-it-yourself guru. As the son of missionaries to the Phillippines, he's got a whole closet full of talents and skills that come in handy at the oddest of times. The task at hand: to balance-walk across a long bar that was 100 feet up in the air. Who would volunteer?... "Oh, I've done that lots before! I used to do that all the time in the Phillippines!" came Timothy's cheerful admition. (Is that a word?) Because of his experience and agility, he stayed balanced the whole time and we didn't waste precious minutes having to attempt the stunt again.

Christy Kurtz - One of our tasks was to navigate the biology trails to find a map that would direct us to the next checkpoint. We had a map of the trails and because I have trained on the biology trails for the 1/2 marathon that I ran last weekend, I am quite familiar with both the map and the trails. This came in handy because our destination happened to be nearby one of my favorite spots to run and I know the area by heart. "Are you sure you know where you're going? Like, positive sure?" Casey inquired as I led them off into the darkness. "Yep! I promise. It's going to be a ways but I know exactly where it is." Sure enough, it was right where I thought it was. We were able to turn the Biology trails, which is usually an event that takes quite a bit of time, into a short and invigorating midnight jaunt through the woods.

Casey Walter - Casey is a pretty handy guy to have around. He had lots of random stuff in his pack that came in useful: a 5 foot piece of rope that we used to haul timothy over a tall wooden wall, a machete from the Phillippines that we used to chop firewood with, and other odds'n'ends. But more than all that, Casey has a hidden talent: he's a volunteer-fire fighter. Leading us through a shortcut to the back of the fire station, he shouted out quick directions. "Put your gear on! Grab the hose! Roll it out! Like this..." As he showed us how to navigate the workings of a fire-truck and hose, we got a crash course in fire-fighting. The fire-station personnel that were there to give instructions just leaned back and took a break as Casey expertly helped us to complete the task in record time.


Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the teamwork paid off :)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Pre-dawn Delicacies

Jen likes to cook. And I like to eat. It's a good combination at 4 in the morning! Last week she brought me coconut-chocolate covered strawberries. This week it was Tangerine Coconut Blackberry Pancakes with home-made Blackberry Syrup. Can anyone say "YUMMY!"?