Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Harveys to Prospective Hope Parents

Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.

Jodi and Scott Harvey

Scott and Jodi Harvey, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reflect on their family’s Hope admissions process. The Harveys’ daughter, Allie, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

Will Allie make the right choice? Will we be able to afford it? What if she makes the wrong choice? What will she major in? There we so many questions and uncertainties!!   

I don’t recall a lot of stress around the question of her getting into the schools she applied to, but rather I feel there was more anxiety about deciding between the schools she did get into. Helping her navigate questions of size, campus atmosphere and fit was the most difficult part of the process. I feel like Allie knew very early in the back of her mind that Hope was her first choice, but she was still questioning what the right choice was and how to make that decision. As parents, we tried to be supportive and let her make her own decisions in her own time. We let her know early on that this was her decision and that we would support whatever choice she made and make it work.

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

Size, cost and the ‘this is it’ feeling she had on campus. Size was something that she really went back and forth on. She really wanted a school that was big enough to get involved, spread her wings and have fun but not too big where it lost that sense of community. As for cost, since all three of her top choices were out of state and/or private, at no time was in-state tuition even a consideration. Because of that, we were quite interested in the scholarship and grant options available at each of the schools. Finally, and above all, we wanted her to feel like the school she chose was someplace she felt ‘at home’ from day one.

Jodi, Allie and Scott Carpenter

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

Allie really wanted a school where she would be surrounded by like-minded peers who share a love for Christ and there is no doubt that the key factor for Allie choosing Hope was the Christian element. From the moment we sat in chapel on our first campus visit, I knew where she would want to call home. I still remember the goose bumps I had in chapel that day seeing all of the students (standing room only) pack the chapel and worship because they wanted to, not because they had to.  That was the factor that all other schools were compared to during her college search from that day on!

What advice do you have for parents regarding visiting campuses?  

Take your student to as many schools as you can so that they can get the feel of the campus first hand. While websites and virtual tours are great, they cannot replace the experience of an actual visit where you can see students interacting, feel the vibe of the campus and take in the surrounding area. Campus tours were my (Jodi) favorite part of the whole process!

What concerns did you have or can you share about paying for college?  

I think we had, and still have, the same concerns all parents have when it comes to paying for college. We were hopeful to receive as much money in scholarships and grants as possible. We encouraged her to look at in-state schools and apply for any and all scholarships she could but did not limit her choices because of these things. We were very clear with Allie what our “budget” for her was and weighed all of her options with her. I would suggest to others going through the process now to weigh the value of the return on investment at all the schools they are looking at. 

When did Allie know Hope was the best and possibly only option?  

From day one of our first visit!  She loved hearing the student perspectives during one of the breakout sessions and attending chapel. From then on, all other schools were compared to Hope and all other towns compared to Holland.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?  

My advice would be to enjoy this exciting time. Take the time to explore as many college options as your child is interested in. Visit a variety of schools – different sizes, locations, public, private, city, small college towns.  The more you visit, the better feel your student will have for what feels right. Chances are you will be as lucky as we were and just know once you find it.  Be supportive of your student and the choice he/she makes. This is a big decision and as much as you want them to make the right choice, he/she is the one who will be moving out and living at the school the next four years.

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Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Zobecks to Prospective Hope Parents

Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.

Rosemary, Mikayla and Ed Zobeck

Ed and Rosemary Zobeck from Haslet, Michigan, reflect on their family’s Hope admission process. The Zobeck’s daughter, Mikayla, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

As parents, we were mostly focused on in-state opportunities but realized that Mikayla had not wanted to limit her selection geographically. We tried very hard to support her excitement as she received welcome/acceptance letters in the mail; this is all part of the process. As time went on, we believe that she came to understand that, from our perspective, unless she earned a substantial scholarship from an out-of-state college, her sights needed to consider in-state options. We began to agree also that being a drivable distance from home was a good idea. We prayed individually and as a family for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and for patience!

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

While we discussed many issues surrounding a potential college experience for Mikayla, we had three overriding criteria. The first was would there be a vibrant Christian community within the university to support her. Second, Mikayla is seeking a career in medicine. We looked at the success rates of students being accepted into medical school. Third, we looked at the size and culture of the organization and how that fit with Mikayla’s personality and needs. She considered two schools in addition to Hope: The Ohio State University and Loyola Chicago. Loyola is similar in size to Hope and a Christian community largely in the Catholic tradition. While Ohio State is dramatically larger than either Hope or Loyola, they have smaller schools within the university that provide for a ‘small school’ experience

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

This was a significant factor. In our minds, there is a huge difference between a university which has a Christian community available and one that informs its practices and culture through the teachings of Christ.What advice do you have for parents regarding visiting campuses?  

We would strongly encourage parents to take advantage of as many visit opportunities as they can and to take advantage of speaking with students 1:1. We found that students, even random ones that we encountered in walking around campus, are very willing to talk about their experience at Hope.

What role did Hope’s status as a liberal arts school play in the decision process?

Frankly, this was more a concern to us rather than a perception of an advantage when we first began looking at Hope. Neither of us went to liberal arts schools and a great fear was our daughter graduating with a ‘liberal arts’ degree and no useful skills to enter the workforce or compete for a medical school position. However, Hope did a good job of presenting the evidence of the value of a liberal arts education on our many visits as well as the success that past graduates have had gaining admission to preferred graduate schools.

How did size of our institution influence the decision to attend Hope?

This was a strong attraction to us. One of our older children went to a large public university. When we attended orientation, the message to parents was pretty much let them find their way. While we appreciate that ‘helicopter parenting’ doesn’t do our children a lot of good, it’s also true that just because they’ve turned 18 doesn’t mean they don’t need guidance, direction and nurturing any longer. First, Hope engaged us so that we can be part of our student’s Hope experience in a way that is constructive to us as parents and good for our child. Second, Hope is small enough for professors to get to know our children and engage with them in ways that just aren’t possible in large public universities. We believe this is a tremendous academic advantage to Mikayla.How did financial aid/merit scholarship affect the decision to attend Hope?

The financial aid awards helped to level the playing field making Hope’s tuition costs comparable to that of a public university.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?

We made a visit to Hope in August between Mikayla’s junior and senior years. The person who normally advises pre-med students wasn’t available, so we met with another professor who was kind enough to spend about an hour with us answering our questions about the program and what Mikayla could expect. Our next stop was lunch at Phelps Dining Hall so he offered to walk with us. Along the way, we encountered three or four students who each acknowledged the professor by name. Surprisingly to us, he too addressed each of the students by their first names. I think I was a senior at my university before I was in a class small enough for my professor to recognize me. This led to a discussion about the relationship between professors and students at Hope and how they work so hard to make themselves available to students.

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Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Goszkowiczs to Prospective Hope Parents

Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.

Rich and Kathleen Goszkowicz

Rich and Kathleen Goszkowicz of Muskegon, Michigan, reflect upon their family’s Hope admissions process. The Goszkowicz’s daughter, Grace, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

After the busy time of making decisions about where to apply and completing the application process for each school, there was a welcome pause before hearing from the schools regarding acceptance. Our daughter handled this time with relief. She had done all she could and all there was to do was wait to hear from each school. Our family considers worrying about things out of our hands as a misuse of time and emotional energy. So, this time of wait was met with a sigh of relief and filled with the enjoyment of fall.

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

Our daughter considered both large state universities and small private colleges. We made multiple visits, connecting with staff and professors at the four institutions on her short list. We discussed the possible benefits and drawbacks of each college based on the following: areas of study available, possibilities for changing areas of study, programming of classes to allow for interests outside discipline, financial implications, level of comfort with the environment when visiting, and does this place feel like “somewhere I could live.”

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

It was not a primary reason but absolutely an added bonus. On one of our final visits, we attended Chapel. She was overwhelmed with the sense of community and connectedness Chapel provided. Basically, the decision had already been made but the experience left her with a sense of peace with her decision and solidified her choice. It was really quite powerful and we both had tears.

What role did location play in the decision process?

Location played a part in the decision process for ruling out places that were out of state, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or in a major metropolitan area, such as Chicago or Detroit. Most likely, due to the proximity of Hope to our West Michigan hometown an hour away, our daughter heard more about Hope and knew alumni. As parents, the safety of Hope’s location was encouraging.

What advice do you have for parents regarding visiting campuses?

Our daughter visited four times prior to making her final decision. As time went on and it became apparent that she was leaning toward Hope, she took more interest in visiting opportunities. Staying overnight with students was a nice way for our daughter to visit without shadowing parents. It gave her the opportunity to spend a longer time and see how some of the day to day living played out.

What role, if any, did Hope’s status as a liberal arts school play in the decision process?

We encouraged our daughter to consider liberal arts as we feel many programs have become too regimented and do not allow for broadening of ideas, encourage interests or provide a well-rounded education.

Move-in day for the Goszkowiczs.

How did size of our institution influence the decision to attend Hope?

The size was the ultimate deciding factor. Hope was the place that felt most comfortable. 

How did financial aid/merit scholarship affect the decision to attend Hope?

Financial aid and merit scholarships gave our daughter the ability to choose Hope. Without this, Hope would have been off the table due to a lack of ability to afford the tuition.

What concerns did you have or can you share about paying for college?

Paying for college is an overwhelmingly huge concern for us. While we expect our children to contribute, we carefully considered our comfort level with the amount of debt they will assume. We planned as best we could but still fell far short. We still lose A LOT of sleep over this one. It also weighs heavily on our daughter as she looks to us for guidance but cannot truly understand the far-reaching financial implications. It heightens every decision about classes taken and potential changes in study area. At a time when kids should be exploring and broadening interests, they have become prisoners to debt. It is disturbing. Of course, this problem occurs for students at all universities and is not specific to Hope. Hope did a fantastic job for Grace making the financial piece fairly equitable to public universities.

Move-in day for the Goszkowiczs.

When did Grace know Hope was the best and possibly only option?

Our daughter put Hope at the top of her shortlist by December. Once the financial packages were available to compare, she was able to make a final decision with relief and joy.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?

Hope’s personal attention from her admissions representative was amazing. It made her feel connected and welcomed from the very beginning. The interest in her ideas and questions made her feel as though she was connected with Hope from the very beginning.

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Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Carpenters to Prospective Hope Parents

Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.

Chris Carpenter ’90 and Panechanh Choummanivong ’93 Carpenter

Christopher and Panechanh Carpenter, from St. Louis, Missouri, reflect upon their family’s Hope admissions process. The Carpenters’ son, Cameron, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

Did Cameron get into Hope College? Did we choose wisely with our selection of colleges to explore based on Cameron’s academic and career interests? Did Cameron spend enough time exploring Hope College, Holland and West Michigan? If Cameron selects Hope College, how will he cope with being eight hours away from home for the first time in his life without his parents and sister?  

As Hope alums, we had frequently shared memories of Hope College since Cameron was a small child. He had spent time touring the campus and listening to our stories many times as a teenager. While waiting for decision letters to arrive, we reminisced about our own college years, uncertainties, experiences, and lifelong friendships. We also reviewed the rationale for ranking Hope College Cameron’s #1 choice.

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

Cameron had toured schools in Indiana and Missouri (our home state for the last 15+ years), some of which were larger and some that were more expensive. Cameron wanted to compete in college athletics as had his father. He was also comfortable in West Michigan with all of his grandparents and cousins within a 30-minute drive.  

However, the most important qualities that distinguished Hope from other colleges and universities were the engagement of the professors and coaches and the camaraderie Cameron noted during the Fly-In Weekend. The student body made him feel comfortable, while the professors he met generated excitement at the academic opportunities ahead.

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

We were comfortable allowing Cameron to explore his spiritual growth in the open-minded atmosphere of Hope College.

Cameron and sister Kayla led a walk around campus.

How many times had you visited campus before the final decision to attend Hope was made?  

Cameron had been on Hope’s campus several times during summer vacations on Lake Michigan growing up. Since Holland is an eight-hour drive from St. Louis, he didn’t have the opportunity to visit Hope during the high school year because he was committed to cross country, basketball, and track. However, he did fly to West Michigan for the Fly-In Weekend in the fall of his senior year. The opportunity to live in the dorm for a couple of days, attend classes, and encounter actual students who were studious, sufficiently challenged by their academic workload and content seemed to seal the deal for Cameron. After that weekend, he never spoke of any other colleges and has never looked back.

How did size of our institution influence the decision to attend Hope?

The size of the student body, dorms and classrooms significantly contributed to Cameron’s level of comfort with Hope College. He went to a large urban high school but seemed to know almost everyone in his graduating class. His state champion high school cross country team remains extremely close knit, and he wanted to repeat that team experience with his college career. Hope’s Cross Country program was fantastic at explaining the world of Division III sports for the scholar-athlete, especially Coach Northuis.

What concerns did you have or can you share about paying for college?  

Chris: Every semester of my four years at Hope College in the 1980s, my parents reminded me of how expensive the school was relative to state schools and how I probably wouldn’t be able to return the following semester. I had one or more jobs every semester at Hope College and was only able to afford the meal plan my freshman year. We have worked very hard for the last 30 years to ensure that our children would never feel those stressors or uncertainty about their college education — and fortunately, they have not.

Panechanh: I also worked one or more jobs throughout my four years at Hope College. Since elementary school, our children have been taught that their most important job is to be stewards of their education by participating in class, completing homework, and preparing for every exam (including ACT/SAT) to the best of their ability. They have had jobs to learn the value of earning money, but never as a necessity for affording their education. We appreciate Hope’s attention to the cost of a college education.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?  

[Admissions representative] Nate Haveman played an indispensable role in maintaining Cameron’s interest in Hope College. From visiting our home to having dinner with Cameron to sending intermittent notes telling Cameron about “The Pull” or other Hope events and checking in by email to see how senior year was progressing, no other college matched this level of engagement or sincerity. Whereas other colleges made Cameron feel as if they were capable of providing a four-year college education, Nate’s approach combined with Hope’s professors and Coach Northuis made Cameron feel as if he was coming home.

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Finding My Home Church

Having a church to go to every Sunday is a little bit like having a home team, I think. A church can be a community of love, support and faith outside of the college context.

Up until recently, I’ve only attended Hope’s Chapel and Gathering services. One of my best friends, Rachel, and I decided that we want to find a traditional church in the Holland area to attend.

There are a lot to choose from. In Downtown Holland there’s Pillar Church (Christian Reformed) and the First United Methodist Church. There are others, such as Third Reformed Church, St. Frances de Sales Church, and Engedi Church. If you know anything about Holland, you know the list doesn’t end there. Those are just a few that students attend on a weekly basis.

Dimnent Chapel around Christmastime
Dimnent Chapel around Christmastime

This past Sunday, Rachel and I went to Pillar Church. We figured it would be our first shot since it’s a close walk downtown.

The service was nice, but I’m not sure it’s what I’m looking for in my home church. At home, I’m a member of the First United Methodist Church. It’s a whole lot bigger than the tiny Pillar. Maybe I’m looking for something more like that, but I’m not sure.

I guess I’m just looking for what feels right. I don’t think I’ll have any problem knowing when I’ve found the right place to call home for worship every Sunday.

Building a community in faith is extremely important. It’s easy to have that community at Hope considering how central it is to our every day lives. However, once college is over, that support system won’t be as much in tact. It’s necessary from that point to go out and make your own community of the church.

I want to be able to create that community once I leave Hope, and an important step is finding my faith outside the college.

You can email me at brookelyn.wharton@hope.edu, find me on Facebook, or check out my twitter @hopebrooke18!

Reflections on Another Semester Past

The semester isn’t entirely over – I still have three more finals to take (Curse you, finals schedule, for making me have two finals on Friday). Yet it pretty much is done, and with the minimal time that I have not spent studying, I’ve been sitting around and thinking about how much has changed since I was an itty-bitty freshman, and even how different I am than when I arrived earlier this year in August.

[I’ve added a ton of links to this post. Most of them are links to my own prior blog posts in which I discussed something I mention here, others are links to Hope pages for more information on an organization or program!]

My semester began very positively. I was an Orientation leader, and saw it as a great opportunity to try to make our group of freshmen feel welcome and at home. I’d say that it helped me kickstart a pretty good year.

I went into classes, and have done pretty well in them. I’ve strengthened relationships with people I knew before, and have made new ones as well. I went to, most likely, every SAC event held, reunited with the beautiful women in my bible study, and went apple AND pumpkin picking, among other things.

I came into this year thinking I wanted to continue with the education program, but toward the end of the semester I decided that it wasn’t for me. I wrote a novel in November, got accepted to the Vienna study-abroad program for this May, got offered to do research in June, got a new job, and now I’m just ready to go home.

But if I were to reflect on one major change in my life, despite everything that has happened semester, it would be the change in my faith. All of my life I have gone to church and been a Christian, but I was never challenged or pushed forward in my faith. Freshman year, I attended Chapel occasionally and only went to the Gathering a couple of times the entire year. This year, I decided to be intentional with my faith, and that choice has caused me to grow a massive amount in this area of my life. I’ve kept a journal to take notes in during Chapel and the Gathering, which has really helped.

I’m not done growing in my faith, not nearly to that point (And I wonder, do we ever reach that point?), but I’m much more satisfied with my relationship with God this semester than I have been all of my life. I owe that to Hope’s lovely Campus Ministries, and the freedom to have the choice in my religious practices here at Hope. Without the ability to decide for myself that my faith was something I wanted to pursue more deeply, I don’t think I would have come as far.

A lot has happened this semester. I’m sure a lot will happen next semester as well. All I know is that we keep on keeping on here at Hope; That train, blaring it’s horn outside your window, is still going, even in the dead of the night, at two in the morning when all you want is a little bit of decent shut-eye. Next semester, and the four more semesters after that, will be the same way.

Here’s a slideshow of some photos from my semester:

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I’m hoping to write more blog posts over break while I’m at home, but if things get busy or I forget, then I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and/or Happy Holidays.

Thanks for reading,

Brooke

A Visit from Lauren Taylor: Becoming a Community Centered in Christ

This past Thursday night, my sorority had the opportunity to spend an hour discussing being a Christ-filled community with our new Hope College chaplain, Lauren Taylor.

Lauren comes from Wheaton, Illinois, where she attended college and then took to Princeton, New Jersey, for seminary school. She has a lot of stories to tell and words of wisdom to share; if you’re ever around campus and have time, I recommend speaking with her. I’m not going to disclose any of those stories here, but I strongly encourage you to have a conversation with her.

Lauren spoke with us about the resurrection of Jesus in the book of Luke. She explained how when Christ rose from the dead, so did we; We are revived and renewed because of Jesus’ experience. Therefore, God commissions us through Him to be the light of the world. More importantly, we’re commissioned to spread this light and His word beyond the walls of the church and into our other communities, and those beyond.

She challenged us, wherever we go in life, whether it be a new town or a new country, to find a Christ-filled community where we live inside and outside of the walls of the church. Faith should be a priority.

A lot of this conversation we had was in context of our sorority and how we can better take our Christ-loving community and spread it around campus. However, it’s so much more than that. There will be life after Hope College and these communities will continue to exist. We need to take our light and spread it to every corner of our lives, to every place and person that we touch. Our faith does not stop when we exit the church doors; it needs to be omnipresent.

As we say at the Gathering:

“No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.”
—Luke: 11:33

— Brooke

Be Still, My Ever-Wandering Heart.

be still and know
There’s no hurry, no rush. It takes a while for the caffeine to kick in.
It’s more about what we do in the waiting.

I quickly find that in the midst of my daily life, there is an insurmountable peace that exceeds understanding running upon a parallel path.

There’s a lot I know; but even more, I do not. And I believe that is okay.

As humans I think we spend a lot of time thinking that if we just knew, things would be easier.

If we knew the answer for #37 on our Philosophy test.

If we knew the diagnosis was terminal right off the bat. If we knew the grocery store was out of salt and vinegar chips. That the pew in Dimnent Chapel was packed full of people. If two people were destined to be together. Or if the jar sitting lopsided on the kitchen shelf would crash to the floor when we opened the door.

My brothers and sisters, this is not the answer. Knowing is not the answer.

Control feels right to us at first. I can do this, we tell ourselves, unaware that the circumstance is fully out of our control.

And then we feel anxious. Worry creeps in like water through the cracks. It soon feels as though we are drowning in a wave that laps above our heads, throwing us deeper into the sea of uncontrollable control.

As we fall faster into into the realization of knowing that we do not know, we scramble to collect the pieces. But because we don’t know, we end up trying to fit together a 2,000 piece puzzle in a space the size of a place mat

It’s irrational. It’s disappointing. It’s overwhelming.

But it’s not over.

In our culture we often consider surrender to be a sign of weakness. It is a sign of weakness.

We surrender when we don’t know what to do. We surrender when we don’t know where to go, who to trust or how to move forward.

But in our faith, our acceptance of surrender means, simplistically, reflects the character of our God.

As a parent helps a child reach the cookies on top shelf, as a parent helps his or her daughter through the first breakup, as a parent cheers for their son on the field; our God takes on the same capacity.

He helps us when we can’t reach on our own, when we are in need of wisdom and when we need support.

Sometimes our need for control comes from not knowing we don’t need be in charge.

And that’s why the verse, “Be Still and know that I am God,” doesn’t say:

“Be still and know the entire collection of Aristotle’s works by memory”

“Be still and know the reasons why your family is falling apart”

or

“Be still and know everything.”

No.

It’s God saying to us, “Be still and know me. Know who I am. Know that I will fight for you.”

We can’t leave God on the bench during the game and expect Him to be the star player.

We have to let Him in. We have to surrender.

Be still, and know Him.

A Letter on Faith, Part One

Lighthouse
Sometimes we’re called to go when we don’t know where the path will lead.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been throwing the word “trust” around in my head, but it makes my mind swirl.

I’ve been busy with difficult classes and work and Bible studies and friends and God, trying to figure out how it all fits together.

And the truth is, I don’t know.

But what’s been striking me the most is the way that my faith increases as I understand less. It’s a form of wishful thinking, I suppose. Wishful thinking with expectation.

What causes me to pause in all of this is the thought that we, as students and people and adults alike, have at least one thing in common: the notion that it is easy to have faith in things that we can predict.

I have underlying faith that I’ll eat dinner tonight, that my homework will be complete, that I’ll have clothes to wear for tomorrow. But that’s not the life that God is calling us into.

He’s not calling us to have a predictable faith. He’s not calling us to know.

He’s calling us to have confidence in the things we cannot yet see; the things we cannot yet fathom, the things we don’t understand.

He’s calling us to trust. Trust is faith.

And I keep thinking about the verses that say, “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed” – the ones about trees and mountains being thrown into the sea and telling mountains to move – and I realize my faith is so small, smaller than a mustard seed.

If Jesus is talking in reference to a physical mountain, I’d love to have faith the size of a mustard seed so that I can see what He says take place.

It amazes me to see Him continue to move and rearrange my life to make me be the person He created me to be to do the things He created me to do. But what’s even more amazing is that He provides me with the grace to be able to change.

With all that He has done already, I have full confidence He will continue. In the midst of my schoolwork, studying, cleaning my room, doing my laundry, driving my car, walking to class, I will persevere. I will have patience. They are indications of faith and they lead to more faith.

I flipped open my Bible last night to find a verse that comes from James 1:4:

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

And because perseverance leads to faith and faith leads me closer to God, it is true; at that time, I will be lacking in nothing. Because the cross was enough. Jesus was enough. He always is and will always be enough.

That’s what I know. But it’s not all that I know. Because even at the end of today, I will have grown another half-inch on the ruler of my faith. And I will persevere to the finish.

Bible Journaling

I believe that there are many languages in life. Of course there’s the spoken one- English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Dutch, etc. In my mind I see many other languages too: love languages, the language in actions, and different learning languages; these are all different ways that we go about life. They’re a part of who we are.

My learning language, or the way I feel I best grow and learn, is through words. I’m a huge note taker; yes, I’m that girl scribbling down every word the professor says as fast as she can so that I can go back and study it later. When I feel lost, jotting down my thoughts clears my mind. When I’m inspired, I write creatively.

Last year I struggled growing in my faith. Yes, students at Hope struggle with faith. We’re not perfect disciples with amazing discernment. I felt stuck, like I wasn’t progressing from where I stood in my faith in high school; I wasn’t growing in the one area I truly needed to.

I never thought to apply the way that I learn in classes and the way that I express myself creatively to my spiritual life. At the beginning of the year I began noticing people with journals at Chapel (a twenty minute worship every Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and the Gathering (A service every Sunday from 8pm to 9:30). That’s when it clicked to me that maybe getting a journal of my own would help me journey deeper into my faith. I went to the bookstore and  bought a small journal for a few dollars.

Since then, I’ve been taking notes at Chapel, the Gathering, and my bible study. I cannot explain the difference that it’s made in my faith and journey with God, just in a few short weeks. After listening and writing down key points and verses, I usually reflect on how the message applies to my own life. I can look back on these entries any time I want or need to, and it has made such a difference.

I encourage you to look at the ways you learn or progress in your life and apply it to your faith or something that you feel you need growing in. Maybe you’re an auditory learner? You can listen to chapel and Gathering audio recordings here.

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!