Reflections on the First Week Back

College is classes, friends, homework, studying, student groups, work; in short, college is a lot. When you come from a stress-free summer where your daily schedule only consisted of work, friends from home, and hobbies, the transition can be a little strange.

During the first week of classes, you’re prepped for the entire semester. Most professors give you a schedule of what the next few months should look like – when your big exams will be, when your ten page papers will be due. At the same time, the groups you’re a part of are talking about how often they’ll meet and the expectations that they have of you as well. You blink once and you’re getting homework and (if you have an on-campus job) working.

Where do you make time to breathe?

At Hope College, there’s one answer to that for me: Chapel.

I’m so grateful for the little chances I get here to wind down and bring my feet back to the ground. Being only 20-ish minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, going to the Chapel service gets me through the week. It reminds me of the real reason that we’re all here. Here as in here on earth, not here at Hope College. Life is so much more than the grades we get, the people we know, or the groups that we’re a part of.

Hope also puts on the Gathering every Sunday night, which I’m looking forward to as well. It’s a great way to start your week and often a good homework break on a Sunday night.

College life can be busy, which is why I’m so glad that Hope not only values our education but also our well-being. Being back on campus is stressful, but only if you forget to let go of the things that hold you down.

Here’s a gallery of some pictures from my first week back! There’s been a lot of fun things going on from the farmer’s market downtown to soccer games and worship nights.

Thanks for reading,

Brooke

If you have any questions for me you can contact me at brookelyn.wharton@hope.edu, through Facebook, or my Twitter @hopebrooke18! I’d love to answer them!

My 22nd Birthday!!

Woohooo, it’s finally March! Besides the fact that it means that spring is almost here, it’s also my birthday month. It’s actually today, so I thought I would dedicate this blog to the awesome friends that have made today absolutely amazing!

Let me first begin with last night! My apartment as well as a few other friends and I went out to dinner at Crazy Horse here in Holland, and that was one of the greatest meals I have ever had. It has become a tradition to go there for my birthday because I celebrated my 21st there last year and thought the atmosphere and food were to die for. After regretting eating so much, I was able to Skype with my parents for a while, which was a nice treat because that doesn’t happen a whole lot. A lot of stories and catching up took place, which was much needed! At this point it was close to midnight and so I decided to hit the hay. However, a few friends thought it was necessary to keep me up because I got texts at midnight as well as a phone call. Regardless of how tired I was, it was such a great way to start off my birthday!

This morning was filled with a ton of excitement. First of all, my roommate and I went to the Dow and ran for a bit before going to chapel and classes. I’ve never had so many people come up to me to wish me a happy birthday in such a short window of time! I guess that just reflects on Hope College because everybody is so close to one another that everybody is aware of when birthdays are and reach out to people, even if you don’t know them very well. After going to class and having people sing to me during class, I was able to have some down-time with my friend and just laugh for a good amount of time before finally working on some homework.

The celebration doesn’t end there though! Tonight I have Foundations for Fitness (check out my other blog if you don’t know what this is), which should be super fun and then I’m planning on hanging out with some close friends and grabbing dessert before my birthday comes to a close. I feel like this birthday has been superior to others in the sense that I really saw how much people reached out to me for simply living another year. It’s also fun just blasting Taylor Swift’s song “22” an annoying amount of times, just because it’s my only opportunity to do so.

Well, that pretty much sums up my birthday! Thank you to all of those who wished me a great day and those of you who are prospective students, know that Hope is such a welcoming place where nearly everyone makes you feel special, especially on your birthday! Have a great rest of your week!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Being a Witness

Personally, I don’t believe in forcing my beliefs on anyone else. We’re all in this world to figure it out for ourselves, through whatever religion or lack of religion that may be. I don’t see harm, however, in letting others see what you’re doing and believing for sake of experience and knowledge.

The last week in Chapel they’ve been talking about being a witness to God, in connecting our words with our actions and going out into the world and living through Christ. I think I’ve always had a hard time with this. Being quiet, it’s hard to even voice where I’d like to go to dinner, much more explain and urge someone to go to church or preach God’s word or the way He’s impacted my life.

In my religion class the other day, my professor brought up a quote that I quite like to think about in times where I don’t feel adequate enough to serve the Lord and be a witness to Him. It’s by Francis of Assisi and it goes like this, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

This is powerful to me. As I mentioned before, being a witness is about connecting our words with our actions, assuming that we are starting with words, and ending in actions. That being said, perhaps being a witness isn’t dragging all of your friends to church and brining God into conversation with others (though it very well can be). Maybe it’s just as simple as living in kindness and love as He would like us to, as He made us. Showing people through your actions what you stand for, while wearing the name of a Christian, can be profoundly impactful on those who see you do your good deeds.

For me, I think the best thing I can do is bear witness for the great life that I’ve been given through Him. These posts are one way I do that, for slowly and slowly God is changing my life here at Hope. I hope that all of you readers are able to see that, whether you have known me before or not. I would like to think that I’m being a good witness to God and to Hope College through these blogs.

Thank you for reading as I ponder these BIG questions in my life. If you would like to share your experience as a Christian or your experiences in any other religion, feel free to comment.

If you have any questions for me you can contact me at brookelyn.wharton@hope.edu, through Facebook, or my twitter @hopebrooke18! I’d love to answer them!

~ Brooke

Dimnent Chapel VLOG!

Hello readers! Fellow blogger Leslie Kempers and I are pleased to announce a new collaboration we have just for you! We will be posting video blogs, or VLOGS, about buildings around campus! Consider it your personal “virtual tour” of Hope College! Getting video footage is great, so you can get familiar with the campus. Then, when you come take a campus visit, you’ll be an expert! This week, we featured one of the most central buildings on campus, Dimnent Chapel. We hope you enjoy it! Make sure to share it with your friends!

If you have any questions for us regarding campus, life, or really anything, don’t hesitate to ask! Also, make sure to follow us on Twitter at @HopeMarvin15 and @HopeLeslie15. If you have any feedback, make sure to let us know! Thank you for your attention and support, you all rock!

Growing at Hope

Hey Everyone!

I’m almost through my second week of classes and feel like this semester is already flying. My classes are awesome, and my professors are a lot of fun. One thing I really enjoy back at Hope is Chapel. Hope’s Chapel services are always packed with people that welcome an inviting and loving community.

I learn so much from attending the Chapel services which occur every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30-10:50. There are no classes scheduled at this time so that everyone has the opportunity to attend. The Gathering occurs every Sunday night at 8 PM. Hope creates an environment where students can grow spiritually. Below is a quote from Hope’s Dean of the Chapel, who I enjoy listening preach. 

They shall be like trees planted by streams of living water…” This is my daily prayer, adapted from Psalm 1, which captures my deepest desire for each person in the Hope community. I painted my study shades of green to help us remember this prayer and to trust that God’s business is often one of slow growth formation. I need this reminder daily. Maturity doesn’t happen over night. And God does the growing, not us. As Hopes Dean of the Chapel, the best I can do is tend and keep the soil conditions for mature gospel growth. It is experiencing this growth that gives me hope. It is inspiring to be in the presence of a generation of women and men who sink roots deep into the dark soil of the gospel, even as they spiral upwards towards the light of Christ. It is in this vision that together, as a community of Hope, we will be like a mature forest, growing in the symbiotic mystery of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

— Trygve Johnson, Dean of the Chapel

Hope does an awesome job of bringing in a variety of different speakers for students to learn from. In the spring semester four senior students are chosen to give their own senior witness talk in chapel. I really have enjoyed listening to their talks and am looking forward to the senior witness speakers this spring. 

Hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

A Few of My Favorite Things: Hope Edition!

There are so many thing I love about Hope. Like, a ton of things. So I thought I would show you some of the ones I am enjoying at the moment!

Hangout Place

One of the best parts about being a returning student in a residence hall is that there is a pretty good chance you know at least some of the people where you’ll be staying. Luckily for me, two of my really good friends from last year, Ann and Meghanne, live in the same hall as I do, and I use that to my full advantage. Whenever I need to get out of my room for a little bit or just need someone to talk to, I can always go here. The best part: they always have candy!

Practice Space

I was in a beginning piano class and in the Hope Orchestra last year, so I practically lived in Nykerk Hall of Music. Before each piano class, I would go into this room and practice my scales or whichever song I needed to have ready. The pianos in Nykerk have such a rich sound that even if I was playing something simple, it sounded amazing. I had orchestra five times a week, but whenever I felt like I needed to work on a certain piece or section more, I would go into the practice room and play for however long I felt like I needed to. The great thing about the practice rooms is that they have windows that open so you can let the campus listen to what you’re playing! This also doubles as a nice study room, which is what I’m using it for right now. 

Chapel Seat

There is a Chapel service offered every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30-11:00 AM and a Sunday evening service called The Gathering at 8 PM. I usually go to The Gathering every week and Chapel on Monday and Friday. When I go, I always try to sit in the same spot: 2 pews ahead of the sound board on the left side. It’s not too close and it’s not too far back; I like to think of it as the “sweet spot.” I know it’s going to be a good day when I can sit there!

Study Room

I discovered this little gem in the basement of Scott Hall when I lived there last year. As you can see, it’s a little room with no windows, perfect for getting some real work done without any distractions. When I was taking a biology class last year that required almost all of my attention, I was in here more than I was in my own room! Now that I no longer live in Scott, I don’t frequent this room as much, but I still use it from time to time and I would recommend that you check it out too!

Cool Beans Drink

Some time ago, I wrote about my love of all things coffee. That hasn’t gone away, so I’m still getting several drinks from Cool Beans a week. I go for the drink, but stay in the cozy area because it’s such a nice place to relax or get some homework done. My usual order right now is a Black Squirrel with soymilk. Sooo yummy!!

There you have it! I will do another favorite things post sometime in the future, but until then, what are some of your favorite things right now?

-Rachael