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I’m Done April 23, 2008

Posted by amybeth in Life.
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Wow…I find it hard to believe, but I am finally done school. I have finished all classes, exams and papers required for my BA Honors Psychology, minor in Linguistics.  Woo hoo!  It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but I’m excited nonetheless. It’s been 10 years since I graduated high school so this moment of achievement has been a long time coming. Lots of life lived in the middle, but being a normal human being, its nice to finally have a designation to point to as a marker of success.

What am I up to now? Good question…if you have the answer, let me know, cuz I’m still figuring it out.

Actually, for the summer I’m headed down to the States to a college campus run by some friends of our family. They’ve graciously opened up an apartment for me to stay in for a few months. I’m going to read, pray, write and basically just debrief myself regarding the last couple of years, sort out some of the many thoughts and questions mulling through my head that I’ve had to put on a shelf due to busyness, and reconnect with God. Thats the goal anyways.

Then I’m back. I’ll be working part time as a lab manager for the lab I did my thesis in and continuing to lead the youth group. I’ll be looking for some other kind of part time position in there as well. At that point it’ll be time to figure out what the next step as far as schooling is and begin to make applications. I’m hoping that my time this summer will bring some clarity as far as what kind of use I want to put my learning to.

All that to say…I’m hopeful that I will have the time (and hopefully the state of mind) to be able to start posting more again. I may not start for another couple weeks, but then my goal is to blog some of the thoughts I ponder during my hideout time this summer. We’ll see how that works out.

Identity Multitasking January 29, 2008

Posted by amybeth in Deep, Life.
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I was trying to do some homework for a class I’m in on prayer. We were to take one of Paul’s prayers, study it and write a one page summary of what we found…both academically and through revelation. So…I took the passage, looked at it in several versions, read some commentaries, looked up some words in the concordance…and ended up with multiple possible meanings for every phrase…aargh! If it was a ‘choose your own adventure’ storybook, it’d be volumes thick.So I bring in my father, seeming expert on studying the Scriptures and getting lots out of them and connecting them to every other Scripture under the sun. And he tells me that’s normal. That each of those possible meanings are a trail to follow to deeper truth and understanding. And they say it’s the young people who have a postmodern, relativistic viewpoint on things. Okay…I do get his point…sort of. And he did clarify that only those trails that are still within the overall scope of Scripture are okay. But it all seems rather overwhelming to me. Analyzing all the potential themes in a piece of literature, often going far beyond what the author could have possibly been thinking when they wrote it, is what always drove me nuts about English class.

I guess it’s the kind of thinking that goes from the details and builds up an overall image. But I think I’m more a big picture person. I want to grasp the overall idea first and then I’m great at sorting out how the details fit. But it seems awfully hard to get a big picture view of Scripture. There doesn’t actually seem to be one. Sure, there are lots of attempts at presenting what the overall scheme of God was and is within creation, but those attempts are all disputed. Problem is that the big pictures people claim for Scripture have all come from examining the details and trying to build a framework. It’s like being given a basket of fabric pieces, stuffing, buttons, etc. and trying to recreate the doll they came from without ever having seen it. No two groups are going to put together one that looks the same. You can’t even use the puzzle pieces without the box analogy here because the shapes of puzzle pieces give clues to how they fit together that can help one reach the correct result eventually, even without the picture.

So…is building up from the pieces the only way to go about studying Scripture? Does that mean I’m going to forever be frustrated? Is there something wrong with me or are only certain people suited to get insight from the pages of the Bible through systematic study like that?

One interesting extension of this analogy is the question of how can we even know that our pieces, our details, are the right ones if we don’t know what picture we are fitting them into. That’s a whole ‘nother topic.

Anyways, the next day I was thinking about all this stuff and realized that this big picture mentality is the cause of other frustrations in my life. For instance, I don’t do well identity multitasking. I can do lots of things at the same time. What I mean is, I have a hard time being a student, a youth pastor, a daughter, a friend of God, etc. all at once. I do much better focusing on one thing at a time. I struggle to integrate the roles I play. My dad encourages me to remember to take time to spend with God without any particular agenda, just Him and me. But I find now that I’m working with the youth, my relationship with God is centered around how to help them. Or when I’m doing my schoolwork, its hard to just relax and enjoy learning because I’m always searching for what God might be wanting me to do with the knowledge. When I find myself with time on my hands that doesn’t need to be allotted to one of the above roles, I feel lost, unsure of what I should be doing, who I am. I feel fractured, in pieces. I want a big picture for my life, a why I’m here that I can orientate all these other ‘identities’ around. I want to have an overarching purpose that enables me to prioritize the various aspects of my life.

Is that wrong? Is that weird? Is that possible?

God’s Favor January 19, 2008

Posted by amybeth in God, Life.
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Its been a long time since I’ve had the time and the brain space to post on here. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking, but its all kind of jumbled up. I’ve actually decided to take a year off before graduate school specifically to give myself time to sort through all that I’ve learned and thought about and to catch up on a very long (and growing) reading list.

But…for the present. Some of you have heard stories about the awesome favor that God has given me while I’ve been in school the last three or four years. I’ve connected with the right professors, been given amazing research opportunities, been published as first author in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, had numberous ‘exceptions to the rule’ in terms of classes and scheduling, been awarded some prestigious scholarships and been hired for more teaching assistant positions than I think any single student has held before. The only explanation is that God has paved the way for me.

And now I have yet another story of favor to add to the collection. I’ve been frustrated in trying to settle on courses for this, my last semester in school. Due to a professor going on medical leave, some of my options changed and everything was up in the air. I had already, amazingly, gotten a professor who was on research leave agree to supervise me in and independent library study course which solved one of the issues, but I was still stuck on what to take as my final elective. When I went to the first actual full class of the one I had chosen I realized I had made a very bad choice and that the course was going to drive me nuts. Problem was that the drop and add period was technically over.

So…I went in to talk to my undergraduate advisor who said if I went to the faculty office that afternoon before they closed, they might make an exception and let me switch into something else. Meanwhile, I had emailed the Associate Dean to ask if there was any chance that they’d accept some of my Bible school courses as transfer credit eliminating the need for me to take an elective course at all. Three years ago when I returned to university they had told me they didn’t accept Bible school transfers but were reviewing the policy. My undergraduate adviser said this was a long shot and even if they did agree, the paperwork would be complex and would take a couple of weeks. I needed to choose a backup course just in case. So…we found a possibility that was actually in session 15 minutes from then. So, the plan was I was going to go check the class out for a few minutes and then dash to the faculty office before they closed at 4 to make my request for a course change.

Just before I left, I checked my email and had a reply from the Associate Dean saying that yes, they now accepted Bible school courses in some cases and that I should make an appointment with her. I sent a reply asking her if she thought I should make a course change just in case and when could we meet. I then went off to the class, deemed it sufficiently okay (at least in the 10 minutes I gave it) and dashed off to the faculty office. On my way I stopped at the library to check my email one more time and found an automated reply from the Assistant Dean that she would be out of the office for a few days.

Well, I arrived at the faculty office 5 or 10 minutes before they closed and asked the secretary if by any chance the Assistant Dean was still there. She was and I went in and explained where I was at. After asking me a few questions about accreditation and the nature of my classes, she agreed to make the transfer. All I had to do was drop my transcript off at the beginning of the next week. She was certain enough that she didn’t advise doing a backup course change – in fact she had me drop my elective right then and there.

So, a half hour after having been told by my adviser that this was farfetched or at the very least time consuming, I had a guaranteed answer. I don’t have to take any elective course this semester which frees me up time-wise and puts approximately $500 back in my pocket. Sweet!!!

I laughed when I told my parents. There have been so many small instances over the last couple of years where I’ve had to push for things and have found amazing favor. It makes me wonder what big thing is ahead of me in life where I’m going to be told ‘it can’t be done’ and my natural response due to experience will be ‘you wanna bet!?’

Too Educated for Star Trek November 12, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life.
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Okay, I was watching some DVDs of an old Star Trek season this week. In general, because of my university education in research, there are certain things that aren’t striking me as plausible anymore (whereas when I was a kid I was in awe of all the pseudo-scientific stuff). Also, we’ve advanced in technology enough even in the last 10 years or so that some of the stuff seems outdated (even though its supposedly set in time ahead of us).But this one episode just cracked me up. A doctor was advising Picard as to the feasibility of erasing a young child’s memory of her trip to the Enterprise. She made the statement that “memories are stored chemically on the neurons of the cerebral cortex.”

Now how does that strike you?  Scientific?  Plausible? Does it not seem like she is identifying a particular region of the brain responsible for memory that could then be located and altered?

Well, I’m currently finishing up my degree in Psychology so I actually know what she’s talking about and because I do, the statement is just totally laughable. In fact I had to pause the movie I was chuckling so hard. The entire main section of your brain is called the cerebral cortex. Everything from memory, to hearing, to vision, to motor control, to sensation, to decision making, etc. is stored there. And your brain is made up entirely of neurons. So what she is saying is like telling a friend that your house is located on earth. Duh!

I’m sorry…I know the majority of people out there won’t get the humor in this…but it absolutely cracked me up!

Zoned October 2, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life.
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Some of you are probably wondering if I’ve disappeared from cyberspace altogether. Nope…but I have been excessively busy. Not only do I have courses at University, but I’m doing a thesis this year, preparing applications for grad school, and I’ve taken on the role of youth leader at church. So…I’ve got a lot on my plate.

Case in point to illustrate just how brain-logged I must be. This morning I’m driving to school and I stopped at an intersection for a red light. I’m sitting there thinking away, semi-alert for when the light turns green. A car honking behind me brings me out of my reverie to realize that I am actually at a four way stop a block before I even get to the red light and that it was my turn to go a long time ago. Whoops. I felt a bit sheepish.

Any crazy zoned stories?

(Total side story…just something I thought was hilarious the other day. I’m sitting at Webster’s Falls enjoying a bit of solitude when these two young ladies walk by where I’m at. The one has a camera and the other is in what looks like a wedding or prom dress of some kind. They are trying to find unique shots and are even venturing knee deep into the creek and such to get them. I finally, out of curiosity, ask them what they are doing…are they actually taking photos for a special event or is this a photo student practicing with a friend as a model. They reply that this is called ‘Trash the Dress’. Apparently, the girl in the dress had been married shortly before but had been frustrated at the conservative, ‘safe’ nature of her wedding photos due to the necessity of preserving her dress for the reception, etc. So now that the wedding was over, she was out with a friend getting all the crazy shots she couldn’t get before. I thought that was hilarious…and kind of neat.)

Grocery Shopping 101 September 6, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life.
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Okay…so yesterday I went grocery shopping at the Fortinos closest to the University. I think I’ve only been shopping there at this time of year once before, so I’d forgotten what it was like. There were no single shoppers…just groups. Either the group was a set of roommates haggling over what they needed or the best brand, trying valiantly to shopy by consensus. Or it was parents shopping with their teenager extending advice about what to buy and sometimes running into interesting roadblocks when they discovered, for example, that their child had decided to go with Soy milk instead of regular. The students all walked around with this sort of stunned, bug-eyed look. In one conversation I overheard, a student was exclaiming at how many shelves of a certain type of product there were compared to the tiny section of that same thing in their local grocery store. Culture shock at Fortinos!

I totally sympathize with their plight and how overwhelmed they must be, how nervous on their behalf the parents must be. And yet I have no compunction about recieving a measure of amusement at their expense. What can I say…it was funny! 

I don’t think I ever had that sudden of a change because even before I left home I was expected to do my own grocery shopping. So I could venture into that area of responsibility while my mom was still around to consult later. How about you…any school or living on your own culture shock stories?

Floating on the Sky August 28, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life.
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My dad and I went canoeing on the Grand River yesterday. It was so beautiful…peaceful.  The thing I loved the most, I think, was how the sky reflected on the surface of the water. If I stared at the surface of the water as I paddled, it was like we were skimming across the clouds.

Spiritual Painting Lessons August 22, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Deep, Life.
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Well, I decided this summer that I couldn’t afford to go away, take a trip, experience an adventure (I had wanted to take a guided canoe trip in Algonquin park)…sighh. So I racked my brain trying to come up with fun stuff I could do around home. I decided to take a beginning acrylic painting class (by the time you add supplies to the cost of the class its not thaaaat much cheaper than going away…but I didn’t know that starting out).

The last time I actually painted a picture on canvas was in Grade 10…that was approximately 10 years ago…and I wasn’t that good at it. But I’ve always sort of wondered if I could be any good if I got lessons. I’ve tended to stick to more controllable mediums like paper and pencil or images on the computer. For some reason, painting has always frustrated me cuz its not as simple as just making marks on a page…you’ve got to understand color and build up layers of strokes. In reality…you are not depicting an image, you are implying it.

As I started pondering all that, I began to get this inkling that there was something else going on in my taking this painting class, a prophetic act God was calling me to engage in (by that I mean, I was to do/learn something in the natural in order to do/learn something in the spiritual). I’ve struggled with how un-straightforward life is sometimes…especially in the church. We talk about what God is doing, his desire for his bride, the impact the church is to have in the community and so on. And yet in reality, any project we undertake involves imperfect people and only kind of vaguely implies this bigger destiny.

Metaphorically speaking, pastors are amazing painters. They understand the limitations of their medium (people) and they have an incredible level of patience to continue building layer upon layer as they bring groups together, implement projects, counsel families and so on. They understand that any stroke that is laid upon the canvas now does not specifically represent anything in terms of the final pictures, but rather contributes to the overall effect which will create the impression of the church, the bride of God’s heart. As such, they do not get frustrated when something doesn’t turn out quite right or seems a little off-colour or crooked…they understand that as more strokes are applied, the painting will be adjusted and turn out just fine.

I don’t have this kind of understanding…yet. And so I see this painting class as God’s way of teaching me a little bit more about how to see the world, to see what he’s up to, to see the possibilities of dreams being fulfilled…to hope again. Even in my own life as I’m trying to make some decisions about graduate school, I’m trying to find the perfect fit, the thing that will define my career, the rest of my life. And yet, I’m beginning to recognize that whatever further education I take, it will only be another stroke on the canvas contributing to the overall picture. In the end, that particular stroke may not look anything like it did when first laid down. It may play a minor or a major role in the overall composition. I don’t know. But I need to relax and enjoy the process of painting, instructed by the master painter himself.

Yeesh – Weird Family July 14, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life.
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Okay…so I finish up a practice GRE test and emerge fom my room to tell my parents how I did. I fnd my mom in the TV room watching a DVD of an old Dr. Quinn episode that we rented from the library. I then go downstairs and find my dad at the kitchen table with his laptop watching another Dr. Quinn episode (different series). I’m sorry…something about my two parents in separate parts of the house both watching different episodes of the same series just struck me as funny.

So…as they say…if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  I guess I’ll get out my laptop and watch an old TV series as well…however, I’m working my way through Full House season 4.  For being a ‘no-TV’ household, there’s certainly a lot of TV watching going on in our house tonight.  Weird : )

Preach it, Sister! July 10, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Deep, God, Life.
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Wow!  This past Sunday I was the speaker at my church.  I’ve never preached before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve shared beyond a 5 or 10 minute testimony. But there was definitely something I felt God wanted me to release and well, he opened up the opportunity. Its true that those he calls he equips, cuz amazingly, despite some nervousness over mechanical things like not bumping my lapel mic off, I was completely calm.  My cheeks didn’t even heat up like they normally do when I stand in front of people – nervous or not. I received a lot of positive feedback and my Pastor said that when he looked at faces, even those who didn’t normally respond looked as though they had really been challenged. Yay God!

Wanna know how it happened?  Well, on June 30 I went to the last session of the ‘Oh Canada!’ conference being held at TACF. What I heard there from a whole panel of national leaders about the destiny of Canada and what God is doing in our nation really excited me and I mentioned to my Pastor on Sunday that I’d like to share about it briefly. Well…as the service went on, he forgot. So, he said that I could share the next week.

No problem.  But as I was getting my thoughts together since I had the opportunity to bring a little more cohesion to all the pieces of information I’d heard, I decided to ask him how much time he wanted me to take. Well, he said he wasn’t going to preach anything…whatever was said was up to me.  Yikes!  He felt God telling him that there was a period of time over the summer where he was to have different people from the congregation bring the sermons and since I offered to share, well, I had just ended up being first! So suddenly, my visions of a 10 minute testimony type talk turned into a full-fledge sermon.

 But I think God wanted it that way because there were a few more events I participated in that week including a rally for theCall-Nashville and an 07-07-07 Celebration which provided the material for a solid challenge to awaken to what God was doing in the earth in this day.

Its very hard to sum up what I felt burning within in me – there was a reporting of what national prophetic voices were saying, a historical framework given to the moral decay in our society, a call to repentance and holiness like never before, and a challenge to examine the premises upon which we base our reality. Because I feel this was such an important word for this time and season, I’ve actually uploaded my notes here for anyone who may wish to view them. You can download them here: Oh Canada Notes