Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 1 Challenge: Visit the Prayer Room Every Day

For those who didn’t know, Hope College has a prayer room. It’s this tiny room in the basement of Graves Hall, white Christmas lights are strung from the ceiling and when chapel music isn’t playing all you can hear is the soft, rhythmic hum of the vents.  Over the past week, this room became my relief, my source of peace and a very practical place for God and I to meet.

Every day of this challenge, I was temped to make an excuse not to go.  When I saw somebody else in the prayer room (which happened three out of the five days) I thought twice about going in, I even turned around to go back up the stairs on Monday.   And every day I wanted to rationalize that instead of going to the prayer room, there was something else I could be doing.  But everyday I pushed through that uncomfortable feeling of being vulnerable and I opened the door and walked into the room where I spent time in silence, by myself and with God.

So here’s what I learned: Time spent alone, especially while in college is precious.  And time spent in silence is even more precious.  When you invite God in on the mix, very good things happen. 

Each day was different: A few times I journaled and twice I made lists.  Sometimes I listened to the chapel CD and one day I sat for 30 minutes in silence.  On Thursday a new friend happened to be in the prayer room when I arrived which turned out to be no coincidence at all.  I listened while she talked and we held hands and prayed together.  As we walked out of Graves together I thanked God for discipleship and the reminder that friendship is acting out God’s love in tangible ways.  Friday was the last day of my challenge and I realized I didn’t want that day to be the end of the good thing I had going.  I need to keep this challenge going and carve out time once a day to be with God and by myself.  So for now, I’ll keep going to the prayer room every week and establish it into my routine because right now in my life it seems necessary.

So, when was the last time you sat in silence and thought?  Or sat in silence and allowed yourself to just be- to take deep breaths and not allow your mind to wander with anxiety or doubt?  When was the last time you had a conversation with God?  Or a conversation with yourself?  Carve out this time in your day, find a room, a location and discover what happens when you take a moment to be still, and just be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Advocates and Activists

This is the story of a 12 week challenge, a weekly reminder to live with intention and never cease to grow and better understand the person you are. 

Quick background: it's my senior year at Hope College and one of the requirements to graduate is to take a Senior Seminar class, so I enrolled in a class called Advocates and Activists.  Two weeks ago our class met for the first time and Professor Kipp explained to us that we needed to participate in an activist/service project, and at first I thought: easy, I volunteer all the time so I'll fulfill the minimal 15 hours required for this project through one of the volunteer activities I already do... easy enough.  So that was that.  

However, the following Monday our professor really encouraged us to challenge ourselves with this project, to do something outside of our comfort zone and actually take this project as an opportunity, to make it personal.

I knew then that I needed to rethink my project.  I looked back through the syllabus and read the project description again: "I insist only that when it comes to your individual project, you incorporate some sort of service component that involves action in the world."

So... this got me thinking. 

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “do one thing everyday that scares you."  And when I read that quote I hear: "Challenge yourself, push and stretch yourself, take opportunities and grow from new experiences."  

So I am modifying that quote and turning it into my service project: 

I’m doing one thing every week that scares me and I’m inviting others to join me… I will set goals every week for the remainder of the semester to do something that is uncomfortable, foreign, different or difficult.  At the end of each week I will write about the experience.

This challenge is about bettering myself and others. To live with intention.  I encourage you to join me, follow me or support me.