Friday, September 23, 2011

Late Nights

As I understand it, college students often stay up til two or three in the morning or later. I can't do that. If I go past midnight (like tonight), weird things start happening. Hyperness sets in. The internet calls. And when I crash, as I inevitable do, the day following is full of mini-crashes, particularly around three or so in the afternoon.

I am naturally a morning person. For that to work, though, I need a good night's sleep. A slow groggy waking is the enemy of those of us who can annoy people with our morning cheeriness. It turns off our smiles. It demands sweatpants and hot beverages. It makes us morning people ..... grmphple.... just like everybody else.

This next week I am going for an 11:30 bedtime. In theory, this should get me eight hours of sleep, quite the sufficient amount. The reality is, though, I will be up reading or writing, and when that quits, my mind doesn't. I check my roommate's glowing clock across the room. 12:36, again?

The cure seems to be to slowly shift cycles back to my natural equilibrium. But college life is against me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Taylor University has chapel three times a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00, the entire campus shuts down and all students and faculty, as if being pulled by an invisible force, head to Rediger Auditorium.

So far, chapel time has been used to talk about the different ministry opportunities at Taylor and to showcase guest speakers. This week we've had two of them -- The Improbable Philanthropist and Alistair Begg.

The story of the first is best said here, but the project is a beautiful children's book called The Boy, the Kite, and the Wind, written by Al Andrews. 100% of the profits go to charity, and the wonderful illustrations are by Jonathan Bouw, a professor here at Taylor. I think their goal is fantastic, and I know they will change lives with their story.

Alistair Begg is certainly more widely-known, and I was excited to hear him speak. I used to listen to him on the radio, and I remembered him as much for his Scottish accent as his wonderful sermons. Hearing him in person, however, you become absorbed in the message. He preached on Romans 8, and some of his phrases will stick with me for a long time. My favorite part, though, was a quiet moment in the middle of a prayer:
"All that we've said to You is secondary to what You've said to us."
And all God's people said, Amen.

Some Taylor students don't bother going to chapel. Most do, but one of the unique things about Taylor is that it's not mandatory. Most come because they really want to learn about and worship God. To those who don't, I say you're missing a lot.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Writing Community

For the last three years, I've participated in National Novel Writing Month, an insane worldwide endeavor to write 50,000 words of book during the month of November. Part of the wonder of NaNoWriMo comes in the pep talks, forum conversations, and general sense of community as you commiserate with fellow writers near and far. During NaNoWriMo, we are plagued with sleep deprivation, self-doubt, plot holes, and the ever-looming deadline. To assuage these problems, many WriMos meet for group writing sessions, sympathy, and fun. I've never attended one of these "write-ins", but I've always wished I could.

On Thursday, my fellow professional writing majors and I ate dinner together. I sat at a table of mostly freshman. We'd seen each other in classes and exchanged a few words, but this was our real meeting. We started with names. And we talked (naturally) about books. Then our favorite authors. What we like about writing. What we want to write.

Even though I love NaNoWriMo, it has never been the kind of writing community for me that it is for other people. But now I am part of a group of writers. We may not be the Inklings, (though for the most part we are C.S. Lewis fans; this is Taylor University, after all) but it is a group of people with whom I can share my writing failures and successes. I know I'll find someone who understands if I complain that my dialogue is dead, or will get what makes this book or that completely brilliant. We're just starting out... but I may have found my writing group at last.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Quick Note on Christian Conformity

I'm afraid I've suffered all my life from a vague assumption that simply isn't true. I knew it wasn't, but it has only recently been banished from my mind by all the people I've seen at Taylor. You might think it too, even if you've grown up in a church family all your life.

It's that Christians are somehow all the same. Boring. Oh, good people, certainly, but don't they all seem rather... normal? Maybe they've dulled by being around each other so much, like they've all become one kind of person.

That view is shattered if you hang around a place like this. We have our similarities, and we are all one body. But different parts of one whole do different things. Here at Taylor, we have people from all over the world. We have crazy dreadlocks, preppy clothes, skateboards, pet jellyfish, artists, scholars, musicians, jocks, dark skinned and fair and pierced. Some have sheltered pasts and others memories of horror. We have introverts, extroverts, insomniacs, geeks and nerds, shy people, gentle people, loud people, energetic people. What we all have in common is belief in our God, and the knowledge that we are all called to do special things and love each other. Only now are my eyes being opened to how God can use and love all of us, no matter what.

We come in all shapes and colors, kinds of dress, and lifestyles. But we have that which unites us -- Jesus Christ, who makes us what we are.