Hi, my name is Ryan Dowling and I am one of the two bloggers for "Service, Missions, and Leadership". I am an English/Langauge Arts major with a Secondary Education minor. Yep, I am one of those future tolerators and educators of awesome teenagers. I am a Junior with Senior privileges-it's one of those Judson things. My accent is a compliment of Tuscaloosa, AL; the place I call home when I get the opportunity to visit. And, I love being used by God. You will get to read all about the great ways God surprises me on a daily basis. Stick around. It's going to be interesting.
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.
It's a beautiful day in sunny, Tampa, Florida and I am crazy excited to be celebrating this stuff-yourself-silly holiday with my dad's side of the family. I love Thanksgiving in Florida. I miss my Alabama family, sure, but when I only get to see this side of the family once a a year, I am okay with missing the others for a couple of days.
We left Tuscaloosa (my hometown) yesterday afternoon around 5pm and arrived at my dad's house at 5am. Yes, it was an incredibly long drive. Fortunately, 80 mph on the highway at least gives me the impression that I will reach my destination sooner. It didn't. But, hey, we are here and after a short nap I am ready to mingle with my south Florida relatives.
I haven't seen most of my first cousins since infancy, mainly due to the fact that they are thirty years older than me and they live in Miami, a city I have never visited. So, it will be interesting to see the different personalities I will meet for the first time today. I am sure there won't be any problems because my family is AWESOME and no one likes to get upset before stuffing their face.
I have t-minus four hours until the twenty plus relatives gather at my grandmother's house, a family tradition for years. I don't know what it is about Granny, but every time she cooks it's like a God-given plate of deliciousness. Funny thing is, she won't be doing the cooking this year because she is 87 years old, however, the mentality of deliciousness will still be there.
I count a lot of blessings this year, mainly all generic, like family, friends, and health, but, I am grateful that these blessings are so common that they have become generic. God has taught me many new and exciting things this year through many new experiences like missions this summer, Pageant, school, home, and life in general. Every experience has given me a new outlook on life, a new friend to love, and a new lesson learned. I thank God for all of these blessings and I remember them, especially, on this Thanksgiving day!
Happy Thanksgiving and I pray for your safety and fun this holiday!
I love birthdays! I love birthdays even more when they are awesome friend's birthdays. Amanda Nolander's, one of my really good friends and assistant director during Pageant, birthday was on Halloween (cool, right?). For her birthday we decided to go to Birmingham to meet her mom, aunt, and another friend at PF Changs, a great Chinese restaurant at the Summit, and go shopping.
We had so much fun. We laughed for a couple of hours while eating, then we went to the Summit to shop (well, I didn't shop...broke). I think Amanda had a great birthday and we all needed to visit the big city. Also, we were on the final stretch of re-painting the canvasses, so, this was a good break.
While Marion isn't big, its location makes up for it. North of us is Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. South of us is Selma. There is always some place to go and something to do, if we look really hard. Even though we decided to celebrate Amanda's birthday outside of Marion, we still could have had a ton of fun here.
There is Perry Lakes Park. It's a beautiful public park with a bird tower, nature trails, beaches, picnic areas, and much more to spend a good weather day outside. Marion also has really cool antique stores and shops on main street. I have been in a few of them and love that Judson paraphernalia can be bought at some of the stores. We also have our own student center called the "J". It's a great place for game nights or movie nights. If I feel really ambitious I might go to MMI and use their recreation room.
Wherever I go with my fellow Judson sisters, fun soon pursues. We like to have fun, no matter the occasion and Judson gives us plenty of opportunities. After all, if it weren't for God and Him sending me to Judson, I wouldn't have met by best friends.
Rule number 642; always, always, always ask fifteen people if doing something is a good idea because sometimes, personal judgment might not be the best. The reason I say this:
About a week before Pageant, the set committee needed a backdrop for the stage. We were short on time and, low and behold, there were eight eleven foot canvasses that were assumed to not have an owner propped against the back of the stage. I asked around (okay, one person) and was told that we could use them. They had very detailed paintings on them of scenery around Marion, from what I was told. Well, we painted a forest landscape over them. I was not thinking, at all. HUGE MISTAKE!
The Monday after Pageant, we found out that two upper class Art majors worked a full semester on these canvasses and they were going to be used again for the same play they were intended for sometime this semester. I CANNOT EXPRESS THE STUPIDITY AND REGRET I FELT WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THIS. I went to one of the art majors to talk to her about the situation. When I confronted her, I didn't know what to say. I was so baffled by what we had done to her hard work that it took all I had to not cry in the dining hall in front of all of my peers. I can't imagine how upset she must have felt. I mean, hey, she devoted an entire semester to this project. We only spent a couple of hours to destroy it.
We discussed how it was an accident and that it was stupid of me to allow this to happen. There were no hard feelings (due to her awesomeness). She said she would send me the original pictures of the canvasses, so we could re-paint them. She did and, oh boy, was it fun to look at.
Unfortunately, I found this out during mid-term week and I had no time to find a solution. I had like five or six tests to take in a week and a half span. It was definitely one of the few times when I didn't love college. I was running around, feeling guilty, and worrying about tests.
So, the week after mid-terms, I went to a teacher to find out what needed to be done. She contacted the lady who owned the canvasses and, thankfully, she gave us two weeks to re-paint eight eleven foot canvasses. We started to paint, and paint, and paint this past Monday. We have worked every day this week in between classes and at night to meet our deadline.
The canvasses need to be done by Sunday and I feel pretty optimistic. A few dedicated girls have devoted countless hours in Meade hunched over canvasses to fill in squares (we are using the paint by squares technique, tedious, but, due to the detail, worth it). We have four of the canvasses almost completely done. All we need to do is detail those and finish/detail the other four and this whole mess will be behind us.
I was taught a few things out of this ordeal:
1.Always listen to your instinct when you think something is wrong. It's usually God telling you to use the sound mind He gave you. If I would have listened to this, well, you know...
2.Ask, Ask, Ask for a second/third/fourth opinion if you are stubborn like I am and you don't follow that God given instinct. I am sure enough people would have told me not to do this if I would have asked more.
3.Don't let pride get in the way of finding a solution or remedy. I was so prideful because I was ashamed of my stupidity that I didn't want my classmates or faculty to know about this fiasco. They could have helped more if they would have known sooner. Let the pride go!
4. When appointed as a leader, listening is probably one of the greatest assets you can have.
Fifty years from now, I probably will look back at this and wonder why I freaked out so much. I will remind myself that even though something may seem like a small thing to me, it might be a monumental thing to someone else. The painters and owner of these canvasses put their vision into these works of art. It's not my job to reduce their efforts by playing it off as a miniscule problem. I wouldn't want my hard work to be in vain, so I won't treat this any other way.
No worries, I will let you know how this pans out.
For those of you who don't know what this is, let me enlighten you. Every year, the Thursday night before Halloween, Judson girls dress up to go trick-or-treating. We don't roam the streets of Marion; instead, we visit the freshmen dorm called Kirtley. Each class is in charge of something. The seniors are in charge of having fun, the Jr/sophs are in charge of making signs for all of the freshmen, and the freshmen are in charge of buying the candy for all of us. Each family has to choose a theme to dress up as, as well. Since there are only two people in my side of the Pig Family, my big sister and I went as Bonnie and Clyde (water guns and all).
It was so much fun! Sure I spent four hours on seventy signs for all of the freshmen; however, it was well worth the adventure of seeing all the surprises waiting for us in Kirtley. My favorite was the hillbilly room by Grace Powell and Morgan Lovett. They went all out for their hillbilly decorations. There were pots hanging from the ceiling, a cooler in the middle of the room, and their costumes were hilarious. The freshmen did a great job on their costumes. There was a Stepford wife (GOOD JOB, LINDY!), flappers, pigolas (pigs dressed up as crayolas), and the ninja turtles, even a few members of KISS showed up! Not to mention I got a ton of candy.
I am so glad Judson has this tradition. It's a time to goof off and have fun with our fellow peers. In the midst of everything we do, school, work, clubs, etc., we just need a time to unwind. Everyone looked like they were having fun. I know I definitely needed a couple of good laughs. After all, college is supposed to be fun and Judson knows how to have a good time.