Back to School; College Perspective!

Back to School; College Perspective | By Lila Smith

“There is no growth in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growth zone.” -Anonymous

As we all know, life is a constant cycle of change. It’s exciting. Overwhelming. Scary. Hard. Emotional. Every time a new school year comes around, I tend to be all too familiar with these emotions, at a higher level than usual.

In just a few days, I will be loading everything up and getting ready to enter into my sophomore year of college at GCU. My experience in college so far has been full of fun experiences, awesome friendships, insightful classes, and a deeper growth with my Savior, everyday. But in the midst of all of these great things, there has also been anxiety, discomfort, heartbreak, and homesickness. As a result, I am learning to daily rely on Jesus alone. To lay my struggles and worries at the cross, instead of trying to deal with or solve them on my own.

Messages Image(1924536944)My freshman year the Lord really planted a desire in my heart. The desire to build relationships with others, and to be someone who is there for listening and understanding them. I felt very called to apply for the position as life leader at my school. From my perspective, this is the dream – to get to share the Gospel with the girls God placed on my floor, and to be a safe place for them to bring their worries, insecurities, and struggles. This opportunity I am about to take is both exciting and exhilarating. But it is also terrifying. I do not feel qualified enough for this job, and I have to constantly remind myself again and again everyday to not compare myself to others and to their talents and abilities.

As nerve-racking as it may seem in my head, I am welcoming in this new season of change with open arms. I am jumping in head first to this position which God has called me. And, I am trusting Him to supply all my needs.

My freshman year alone, I left a changed person. The experiences I had, the people I met, the relationships that deepened, the classes I took; all shaped me in ways I never could have seen or imagined before going to GCU. Here are some of the things the Lord taught me, which I find to be helpful wherever you are in life right now:

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  1. Make time EVERYDAY for YOU and JESUS; Make HIM your BEST friend

Bible studies, chapel, worship nights, and even church just won’t cut it. Relationships grow from one-on-one moments. Make him your number one, all other friends and family can come next. We look like the friends we hang out with, so why wouldn’t we want to hang out with Jesus?

  1. Be INTENTIONAL

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Go out of your way to show people you care about them and want to get to know them and/or spend time with them. Make plans. Stick to the plans.

  1. IRON sharpens IRON (Proverbs 27:17)

The people you spend time with influence you, and vice versa. Make sure your peers are lifting you up, not pushing you down. Healthy relationships make a healthy, happy you.

  1. Get INVOLVED

Whether it’s ministries, church groups, adventures, just get involved! Community is a great thing that God gave us, and we need to use it to our advantage.

 


Lila Smith is a college student at Gr and Canyon University in Phoenix…Lila Smith is a college student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a Sophomore majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Christian Studies. She currently spends her time hanging out with friends, being a life leader on her floor, studying, going on adventures, and doing ministries on her campus. She plans to work in the church and/or be a counselor later on after her college years are over. 

Light in the Darkness

How God the Father, Protector and Provider, battles for his daughters | By Micaela Krumweide

A couple of months ago, I finished a nine-month discipleship program through my church, during which God revealed my calling. There were three things God explained my calling involved: women, being abroad and fighting spiritually for those in bondage and chaos.

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Toward the end of the program, my pastor announced our church’s partnership with Freedom Challenge and the mission trip to Moldova for a “vulnerable girls’ camp.” This was an exciting opportunity to start working in this calling; however, a worldly reality settled over me—I was already raising money to finance another mission trip in May, so how in the world was I going to raise funds for an even more expensive trip one month later? But that’s just it, isn’t it? It seems quite impossible to raise this money according to the world’s standard, but we do not live according to the world.

So one night I was lying in my bed pondering this possibility, and I heard God’s voice so clearly saying, “Do you trust Me? Do you trust Me financially? Do you trust what I can do? Do you trust Me?” I did not answer, so repeatedly He asked me. I am not quite sure how long it took before I could even answer, until finally I answered “yes.” So I signed up and began the process of raising money, and of course, it all came in—and then some!

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There I was, already seeing God’s hand in this trip. Realizing that this was right, this was what I needed to do, this is where He wants me. So now, it was time to pray for the trip. Somehow, I came across 1 Peter 1:3–9. I kept coming back to this verse, and every time, the words “hope,” “inheritance,” “suffering” and “salvation” remained, fixed in my heart and mind.

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The realization of darkness. When we arrived in Moldova, it was easy to feel the darkness that surrounds this country. There is a lot of corruption, very few jobs and many broken families. People have little money and are not living—merely surviving. Parents and children are abroad making money in other countries, so there’s no money and no family or community. What a terrible tactic of the enemy. We all felt the darkness, and as we began to feel it harder to smile and harder to laugh, we arrived at the girls’ camp. Understandably, the girls were very stoic and hardened, and very few smiled.

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The camp began and games were played, messages were heard and prayers were essential. I could see a covering of that camp, and lightness began to illuminate from the girls. Smiles were everywhere, and laughter was amounting while the Spirit guarded this camp and the fight for victory commenced. The battle that had started within these girls became evident.

One night, we planned to have a time to pray over the girls. They told us about their situations—some had parents abroad or a parent who was an alcoholic, they were taking care of themselves and they grew up too fast. It was clear what the enemy was trying to accomplish—he was robbing their hope, hiding their inheritance, making it hard to see anything but suffering and fighting against their salvation.

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However drained I felt did not matter because I was humbled recognizing that this was not my fight; this was the battle for the Spirit inside me, and it was ready to fight these tactics of the enemy. There was a very clear prayer that kept arising, and I spoke it over every girl I touched. This prayer left my mouth countless times: “May this girl know that she is the daughter of the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, that this is her inheritance, and it cannot be taken away from her. Cover and protect her as she leaves this camp back into her situation.” It was evident that God wanted to defeat the enemy’s strongholds and bring life to these girls.

The final night was the time to deliver the message of salvation. More than ever, it was clear how badly the enemy was fighting to keep these girls in pain and suffering. More than ever, it was clear how badly God wanted to give them freedom, truth and life. At the end of the message there was an altar call. Victories. Hope. Salvation. Peace. Life. Joy. Value. Identity. Love. All of these accomplished!

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The victory! God called me and provided for me so that I could partner with Him and see Him overcome. It’s scary to think of these girls back in their situations after being protected and loved at this camp. But I trust God, and my hope is in God. I saw firsthand the extent to which He fights for these girls. I have no doubt that because of the battle fought at that camp, there have been seeds planted. In these girls, there is a newfound hope, a recognized inheritance, a new perspective of suffering, and the gift of salvation!

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I had the honor of being used to fight and cover these girls (learning lessons of trust and humility along the way), and I trust that God continues to fight and cover them right now as well as all of us. God the Father, Protector and Provider constantly battles for His daughters! Oh how amazing He is!


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Micaela Krumweide is a college student at the University of La Verne who took a year off to do a nine-month Discipleship Program at The Father’s House church in San Marcos, Calif. She is excited to continue missions and partnering with God to fight spiritually for those around her and is awaiting the next step after graduating in two years.

 

How to Plan an Epic Adventure

Three valuable tips for your next outing, getaway or grand vacation | By Josh Clements

You don’t have to be a superhero to have epic adventures with your loved ones but after following the tips in this blog, you’ll probably be mistaken for one.  

When asked about epic summer adventures in July, in San Diego, I was drawn to a comic book analogy like like Superman is drawn to shouts of “help!”, like Tony Stark is drawn to a mirror and like Stan Lee is drawn to, well draw anything…(things just got a wee bit nerdy, I’m sorry, please hang in there).  BlogPost3However, what I’m really saying here is that when I hear the word “epic” I immediately think of heroes, quests and the exciting things that happen and the memories that are made as a result. 

A wise man once gave Peter Parker some sage advice: “with great power comes great responsibility.”  This is very true.  However, when thinking about “summer time” I thought of a phrase that contains the essence of this advice combined with my own philosophy: “with great amounts of time, comes great opportunity.”  The question you may have is “opportunity for what?” All of us have an opportunity to have an “epic summer adventure,” however, just because it is summer, and it’s a vacation, doesn’t automatically make it “epic.”

It is on an epic quest that our heroes; find their purpose, overcome challenges and finally achieve their goal.

For anyone planning an outing, getaway or grand vacation remember to do these three things that epic heroes have done before us in literature and film:

  1. Define the purpose.
  2. Identify and prepare for challenges.
  3. Achieve something great for our family and friends.

I believe that all of us do a great job of the first two.  

We make a plan: “This summer we are going to Disneyland so we can go on the rides and meet the characters.”  

We prepare for challenges: “We will pack a backpack full of snacks and water so that ‘little Johnny’ doesn’t have a tantrum while waiting for Dumbo.”

However, we can look to our hero for advice on how to shift our summer outings from mere vacations to epic adventures by achieving something great:  

BlogPost6After his third year at Hogwarts, Harry routinely visits the neighboring village of Hogsmeade to partake in warm and tasty drinks at The Three Broomsticks and pick up some candy at Honeyduke’s Candy Shop.  Does he go alone?  BlogPost7No, he travels with his best friends Hermoine and Ron.  While there, they enjoy their time.  However, they also take the time to connect with each other.  They share the experience of partaking in everything that Hogsmeade has to offer, but they also talk about many things, are transparent, and, as a result, become better friends because of these conversations.

Does Harry plan his travel? Yes.  Does he take in the sights and sounds “the foreign land?  Yes.  Does he rush off to “check something off” his itinerary?  No.  

This is essential.  

He spends time with his best friends.  He talks with them about what is on his mind.  He shares the experience with 

them.  They sit.  They bond.  They develop their relationship.  This is what we sometimes miss while on vacation; focusing on using the time we are given to build relationships with the people whom we care about.

It’s easy to think  “oh man, I spend $300 on tickets, $1,000 on airfare, and have only five days to experience it all. Sooooooooo we only have 15 minutes to sit on this beach before we “have to” move on to the next thing.” BlogPost8Another wise bearded man (no, not Dumbledore) said “All you have to do is decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

No matter how much money you spend ($5 or $5,000), it is essential to focus on what is most important; who you involve, the words you speak and the relationships you build.  No matter what, you will take pictures of the sights and of your fellow adventurers.  Later, when you and your travelling companions look at these photos, what will they remember?  Will they remember you pulling them along to look at an exact replica of a Nimbus 2000 or will they remember the conversation you had before you ate a handful of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and the face you made when you tried a lawn clippings flavor?

Different locales are amazing; various beaches, different countries, even hidden parts of our own city are perfect settings for your adventure because they allow us to create shared experiences. What will you share? What will you do to make your time epic?”

The time will go by like The Flash (sorry, I couldn’t resist), how will you make the most of it?

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image1Josh Clements is an excellent planner of fun family outings, day trips and long, eight hour dates with his wife, Hannah. As an Eagle Scout, he knows how to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Together Josh and Hannah help raise Adam (15), Gracie (11) and Aidan (8). Josh has been a professional educator for 12 years and is currently working at San Marcos High School where he teaches 9th grade English and is the yearbook advisor. Josh and Hannah own the “little green house on the corner” in historic Escondido from which they often “adventure” to buy donuts from Peterson’s Donut Corner.

The Adventures of Salt ‘n’ Peppa

Just For Laughs | by Sonya Finley

So here’s the deal. Tracy and I love to get together and do something interesting for our December birthdays. One instance a few years ago was no exception.

That particular year, we decided we had exhausted the ol’ dinner and a movie routine and wanted to try something new. I thought a trip downtown to the San Diego Gaslamp District would make for a very cool evening. Because parking is usually a painful affair, a ride on the COASTER sounded like a fun option. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I worked for the transit agency and could ride all modes for free—can you say “Bonus!”

I pitched the idea to Peppa…or is it Salt? Anyway, Tracy loved the idea. Citing her trip to India she managed to convince her husband that she would be safe. “If I can go to the poorest parts of India on my own, surely I can ride public transportation.” Surely!

Since I came up with the idea, she picked the restaurant. A nice, upscale, happening little place, with all the ambiance two ladies out on the town needed to make the evening great. Lucky us, it was only a few blocks from the trolley station. This was going to be good, right?! We were excited.

The day of our date, Tracy was dropped off at my job and we rode together to catch the COASTER. If you have never ridden the COASTER, I suggest you do it at least once. It takes you from Oceanside to San Diego on a route that travels right alongside, well, the coast. And the views are, well, coastal. Just kidding. It is a lovely ride though. Even better when you are traveling as the sun goes down. The hour long ride gave us plenty of time to chat, as girls like to do.

By the time we got to the final COASTER station in San Diego, it was relatively dark. No worries, the station had plenty of lighting, and our wait for the trolley was not long. We soon found ourselves at the heart of the Gaslamp District. As I mentioned before, I checked Google Maps and found that the restaurant was only a few short blocks up from the Trolley station. But, as my sense of direction can be a little wonky, I accepted Tracy’s suggestion that she Google the directions to make sure we were headed the right way. Awesome-sauce! I love smart people with good ideas.

We were both dressed up for the occasion, however, after about 15 minutes of walking I sorely regretted the cute little booties I was sporting with my cute little outfit. We seemed to have been doing quite a bit of walking but not quite reaching our destination. We walked by some nice hotels, a few cool restaurants (not ours), and even brushed up against a not so savory area where the homeless found shelter. I was a bit confused, and might have even mentioned it, but I trusted Tracy and the directions she was getting from her navigation program.

20151211_203532After several more minutes of walking, which included a much needed pit stop; we finally stopped and asked for directions. In fact, Tracy even called the restaurant to make sure we were headed the right way. That was a really good thing . . . because when we finally got our bearings, we realized we had passed the restaurant (and other buildings) at least twice— maybe even three times—in our efforts to find our way to the place we were seeking.

 

All in all, what should have been a brisk 10 minute walk to the restaurant, ended up taking these adventurers almost a half an hour!

How is that, you ask? The restaurant was only a few blocks from our drop off point you say? Well, let me just give you a little piece of advice. When you are walking and you seek directions from Google Maps be sure to click the “walking man” icon, not the car. Yeah. Needless to say, we got back to the station a lot quicker than we did going.


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Sonya A. Finley (SonyArletta) is an artist and designer currently working “undercover” at North County Transit District and will soon be moving over to the San Diego Airport Authority. She is a proud mother of four young men: James, Kevin, Joshua and Johnathan. Sonya attended US International University, School of Performing and Visual Arts, where she majored in Advertising Design, she received her Associates in Fashion Design from FIDM and her Bachelor’s in Fine Art (painting emphasis) from Mississippi State University.

Stay at Home Dad!

Stay at Home Dad! | By Eric Loper

I never thought I’d be where I am now as a father and husband.  But here I am.  As my wife, Christine and I rolled with the punches of life, we ended up not so textbook.  I guess I would say it began when we moved back to San Diego from Las Vegas.  In Vegas, I IMG_0255worked full time in a casino, while Christine had a part time gig in Human Resources.  But you see, I wasn’t going to start over in the casinos and Christine found a reputable, full time job in HR once we moved back to San Diego.  I tried the whole starting my own business thing, but having not put much heart and thought into it, that got thrown into the “never mind” pile.

While still searching for what it was I was going to do, Christine worked the 9-5, Monday through Friday.  We did not want to send our kids to day care, so I watched them while Christine was at work.  This didn’t seem permanent as I was looking for where and what I was supposed to be.  My foot landed in the door of a restaurant/brewery as a delivery driver with the intention of working my way up to bartending while I went back to school.  While bartending, I was given an amazing opportunity to take over as the brewer.  This was perfect!  A job that I had a heaping truckload of passion for, and was flexible.  IMG_0267I could get to work early, in order to be finished in time to pick up the kids from school.  Meanwhile, Christine was tearing up HR.  Her experience and pay kept increasing.  Eventually we made the decision to homeschool the kids.  With my job being the flexible one, naturally I would take on schooling. While this works, it’s definitely not the easiest way of doing things.

On days the kids are homeschooled, if I have to work, I get up at 2am to start working before the word “early” is even awake.  Christine then drops them off at my work on her IMG_2458way into the office.  This way I am usually done around 10am and we have time to go home and hit the books.  Normally, we hit history and literature by noon.  That’s about when I feel the increasing weight on my eyelids, “OK kids, after history you two can have a recess while dad takes a nap.”  These naps justify the 2am alarm clock.  It’s like 30 minutes of heavy heaven.

Now, while this works, it’s not what we had planned.  I mean I never imaged that I would be working part-time, as well as part-time homeschooling my kids, while Christine worked a full time gig,  Monday through Friday.  I did not expect to be the one texting my wife to see if she was going to be home on time, or making sure the house was clean before Christine got home from work so we could all relax and hang as a family.  We just kind of fell into this.

 

As time went on, this path became more cemented.  There was a bit of panic as the cement hardened.  We felt trapped.  Christine began to struggle with the idea of being a IMG_0165working mom when so many of the people that she looked up to were stay at home moms.  As relatively new Christians, this situation didn’t seem to fit what we thought the Christian family should look like.  As Christine was crafting ideas of how she could make a career for herself at home, her career in HR continued to excel.  She received more and more favor and provision, which was a huge blessing to our family.  At the same time things were going well with my work.  I was also able to be involved with coaching my kids’ sports.  We had time for ministry and the right balance of family time.  Things were actually pretty good.  You’d think we would have seen God’s hand in all this goodness, yet we were searching for a way out.

 

Thankfully, God showed us what we couldn’t see even though it was right in front of our faces.  Christine attended a women’s retreat where Pastor Tracy was teaching on a woman’s identity.  In that, she spoke that the focus isn’t whether a woman works inside IMG_1503or outside her home, but rather where her heart is aimed.  The Holy Spirit showed us this is exactly where we needed to be.  Since then everything seems so settled.  Christine is still amazing at work and just the mom that our kids need.  Sure I don’t get to have the kids yell “Dad!” when I walk in the door from work.  That’s reserved for mom in our house.  But hey, I get to work part time at a job that I love, help my kids learn, coach their sports team, and lead our family.

We’ve learned that marriage is a partnership and “roles” are what you make of it.  I’m pretty darn good at cooking and I love to do it; Christine is great at cleaning.  I’m more of the disciplinarian while Christine is the peacekeeper.  I like to play and be rough with the kids, while Christine is the one they want when they need the tenderness of a mom.  Although some of our roles might seem like they are turned around, it’s very much God’s handiwork at play here in this house.  We love, trust and serve God; He leads, we follow.

 


IMG_0699Eric Loper is 39 years old and has been married to Christine Loper for 14 years and together; they have a 13-year-old son Keith and an 11-year-old daughter Jade. He works at Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing in Carmel Mountain Ranch as the brewer. He also homeschools his kids and helps with their sports by coaching. He loves sports, cooking, and gardening.