Hello all! I'm Bethany, blogging under the category of “Missions, Service, and Leadership.” I call the quaint little city of Thomasville, Alabama, my home away from Judson. This is my junior year here, and I’m an elementary education major. I plan on revealing Christ’s love in the public classroom, being a children’s librarian, working as a zoo keeper, running an orphanage, writing children’s books, and drinking a great deal of coffee. But for now, I’m just clinging to the promise that God’s not finished with me yet. Feel free to look me up on Facebook if you have any questions about Judson!
A few chapel services ago, Dr. George Washburn, Judson’s
reference librarian and worship leader of Marion’s Hopewell Baptist Church,
delivered a message in which he mentioned the book Do Hard Things. To be completely honest, I didn’t really pay much
attention to his message…I happened to be running a fever and found it
necessary to carry around a box of Kleenex in my purse on the day of this
particular service, and I was focusing more on not sneezing or falling asleep
during the message. However, as we all know, God works despite these types of
circumstances. I’d never heard of the book, and I didn’t think much of it when
Dr. Washburn mentioned reading Do Hard
Things. After all, this man is old. He knows stuff. He went to seminary.
I’d probably need some sort of religious dictionary and several scheduled
appointments with my religion professor to understand the type of book that he would
have written down on his book list and labeled as “challenging.”
I’d just arrived home for a week of
Thanksgiving break, and as I was meandering around in my sixteen-year-old
sister’s room, I was shocked to find this 230-something page book lying on her
hardwood floor surrounded by a stack of random papers and right next to her
converse sneakers. I thought old men with actual bookshelves and penny loafers
read this sort of thing! I asked her about it; she said her youth pastor had
given it to her, and I picked it up to read the inside cover. Two teenage
brothers who wanted to break from the mold, and believe that, contrary to
popular belief, the teen years are not a vacation from responsibility are the
authors of Do Hard Things.
brothers tell of the “less than ordinary” time of their teenage years. They go on to
encourage readers and challenge their audience to be “rebelutionists” in a
mediocre, comfort-based society. Now, I could go on about this book forever,
but for now I’ll just say that it is a
MUST READ for people of
all ages, but especially for teenagers and young adults. Initially, I didn’t
want to read the book…I’m twenty now…why should I read a book for teens? But in
the introductory material I found a quote from a previous reader, claiming that
Do Hard Things was perfect for people
in their twenties who “long to be catapulted into significance.” I’m pretty
sure I was hooked before I even read the first chapter. Doesn’t this quote
describe the desire of any college student? Isn’t that why we work so hard to
get into school and strive to succeed…because we want to matter? We want to do
something worthwhile and make a difference.
In some ways,
reading this made me realize just how much time I wasted in high school, but I
think it’s better to focus on the here and now because of the good news of the
gospel. God offers grace and redemption to those with wasted pasts. But I would
never want to presume upon God’s grace by wasting even a minute of the time I
have now at a place like Judson that offers so many opportunities to serve and
grow. This semester has been a real challenge for me, but that’s no excuse to
be lazy…right? Right.
I always like to
tell people that I’ll make an amazing teacher once I graduate from Judson
College, because I’m really just a child at heart…which is true…I’m about as
simple and goofy as they come…but it’s time to be an adult. It’s time to make
the types of decisions God has prepared me to make. It’s time to step out of my
comfort zones and allow the will of God to drive away my fears so that I can
more effectively serve Him.
And to think…all of this
came about because of that Tuesday I was sick, during a regular chapel service
The holiday season at Judson is always a stressful, fun, reviving, and reflective time.It’s stressful because of last minute tests, preparation for finals, and finishing up all those term papers that have been put off for months.The Judson holidays are fun because, despite the need to work hard, part of the “college experience” is to make time to “play hard.” This is probably the only time of my life that I’ll be able to stay up until two in the morning with my friends one night and spend the entire afternoon of the next day napping so that I can wake up to pull an all-nighter, ace a final, and repeat the entire cycle all over again for the next few days. It’s a reviving time because of the energy evident through almost every student. Even though we’re anxious for our time off for Thanksgiving next week and already impatiently awaiting that glorious moment when finals are over and Christmas break begins, everyone is so excited about all of our Christmas traditions.
The traditions of Judson also add to the reflective quality of the season. The first Saturday of every December at Judson is set aside for the Christmas Tea and Vespers. The Christmas Tea is one of my favorite traditions! The social committee spends a great deal of time decorating the parlors; a Judson Christmas is truly one of the most beautiful.Students, faculty, friends, and family all gather in the parlors for a more formal gathering with plenty of engaging conversation and Christmas goodies. Then, later in the evening, the different divisions of the music department host our Christmas service, Vespers. Now, my first year at Judson College, I had no idea what this “Vespers” was, even though I was part of the choir helping with the performances. The term “vespers” translates from the Greek to mean “evening,” and it is most commonly used within the Catholic denomination to refer to an evening prayer service. Thankfully, the term works for this Baptist school’s tradition, too. Everyone comes together that evening for a reflective time of prayer, the Judson Singers, Faith, and the hand bell ensemble perform, and we have a time of congregational caroling. The most unique thing about Vespers is the commissioning of the year’s graduating seniors. The choir prepares a special song for the ladies that have worked hard and are ready to go out into the world, Dr. Potts delivers a few words of wisdom, and the seniors light the candles that represent the light they are to be where their path leads after Judson. Trust me, there are usually very few dry eyes in the room by the end of the evening, and it’s an event no one would want to miss.
The first weekend of November definitely brings out some interesting characters on Judson’s campus. Everyone was up bright and early this past Saturday as I made my way over to the dining hall to get some coffee and set up for the KDE bake sale. Seniors were wrapping tissue paper around one of the goals on the hockey field, some of the freshmen looked a bit nervous as they were stretching and looking around for their shin guards. Juniors and sophomores were hurrying over to the hockey field while pulling their hair back and pulling on their team shirts as if they’d just rolled out of bed. The opening announcements were made as Jodi, KDE’s president, and I had just finished setting up for the bake sale, and the games began!
The seniors ran through the goal on one end of the field, breaking through the tissue paper like NFL champions entering the field for the super bowl. The “Jr/Frosh” team, comprised of juniors, sophomores, and freshmen, ran on from the other end, looking a little less intimidating, I must say. The first half flew by without notice, as Jodi and I were busy selling cupcakes and other goodies. Kappa Delta Epsilon, or KDE, is an honor society for education majors. The organization held a bake sale on Saturday to raise money to attend an education conference in the spring. It was fun spending time with Jodi and Dr. Sheek, but I hate that I couldn’t watch the game as attentively as I wanted to. In the end, the seniors beat the Jr/Frosh 2-1, and the next game up on the board was Judson College All-Stars vs. Judson College Alumni.
The All-Star team is made up of girls selected as the mot valuable players during the weeks of practice leading up to Hockey Day…after all, the very best are needed to go up against the returning “Judson Girls” from years past. After what seemed like a long, violent, and relentless battle, the All-Star team beat the alumni team, showing no mercy!
As current students rejoiced over the victory, and those glorious alums hung their heads in shame, everyone made their way over to the front steps of Jewett Hall for one of my favorite Judson traditions, step sing. It’s always so much fun to be joined by former Judson students to sing these precious songs passed down through the generations of the college. Even after such competitive games, everyone could gather together to share in yet another tradition that makes Judson, Judson, and was a perfect ending to an incredible day.
These are just a few of the
descriptions that come to mind when your thoughts and emotions are running wild
after making a major decision…especially if it’s one you’ve been running away
from for quite some time. I think that if I would dare to compare myself to any
of the great people of faith in the Bible it would be Jonah, or maybe Moses.
Sure, Jonah finally obeyed the Lord and traveled to Nineveh to minister to the sinful people,
but initially…. Jonah ran like a lazy, disobedient coward. Moses, when first
called to lead the Israelites out of exile, made excuses. Can you
imagine…standing in the presence of such a Holy Being, a presence so holy that
it is necessary to take off your shoes just to stand near it? Can you see
yourself falling on your face at the sight of a bush burning so brightly with
the existence of God that your feeble human eyes cannot even bare to look at
I would think that these were just
a few of the emotions sweeping over Moses during the time of his encounter with
the God of Israel. Imagine this God giving you a command, presenting a call.
Now, keeping the same mentality, try to envision yourself giving this Holy
Being a long line of fears and excuses: “I can’t do it,” “I’m not qualified,”
or “Why me, Lord…why not someone else?” The nerve! I distinctly remember
listening to this story in Sunday school as a child and thinking of how
ridiculous Moses was. Questioning God, what sort of a person does that? For
some reason, during the church service today at Hopewell Baptist, a wonderful
country church just a few miles from Judson’s campus, my mind had drifted off
to this subject, and I reached an embarrassing conclusion.
I do. I am the sort of person who
does that. I allow my fears to overcome my faith in a God that has never
forsaken me, a God that has been with me through the darkest nights and the
deepest valleys, a God that is present and caring when it seems that everyone
else is absent and indifferent.
These were just a few of the
emotions crashing down on me like a mighty wave as I stood with the rest of the church to sing “Trust and
Obey,” the invitation hymn for today’s service…ironic, right? One thing that
still makes me incredibly uncomfortable about being a student at Judson College
and having to slowly and reluctantly enter the world of adulthood is making my
own decisions. Sometimes I wish there would be someone around to decide
everything for me: telling me what to major in, what church to attend, what
classes I should take, the best way to manage my student loans, and where I
should go after Judson. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works, but God does
provide everything I need to make these decisions on my own. As long as I stop
making excuses, claiming to be unprepared to do the work I’ve been called to,
and actually have a little faith, God will take care of me, and He’ll fill in
all of those misshapen or missing pieces.
It’s just like that old hymn says:
and obey for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”