APU is big on traditions.

As a freshman RA (Resident Advisor), I have had the distinct privilege of participating and being in the forefront of many of APU’s widely held traditions. Within the freshman dorms, a big annual tradition is an evening filled with themed-dancing called: Street Meet.

At Street Meet, the RA’s of the various dorms dress up and perform a choreographed dance for the entire freshman class. This year, the theme for Street Meet was Dance Dance Evolution, where we went through the evolution of dance, starting in the 20’s and continuing through the 50’s, onto the 70’s and 80’s and finishing the evening with music and dancing from the 90’s to the 2000’s.

Leading up to Street Meet was filled with much anticipation, so it was thoroughly enjoyable performing and seeing the dance rehearsals pay off. The Residence Hall I am an RA in, Adams Hall, was assigned the decade of the 50’s; so my residents and I went thrifting the weekend prior to Street Meet, where we adventured and had the opportunity to be creative in orchestrating outfits corresponding to the 50’s. 

I have been recognizing how significant these little moments are in allowing others and myself to be silly, to go out of our comfort zone, and to appreciate and embrace memories that comprise experiences as a whole.

Enjoy your day friends,

-Kristen P

APU Take 3. 

I am very thankful that here at APU, chapel is a weekly requirement. I find that chapel becomes a place of refuge as I am able to set the chaos aside and focus on what matters the most; Jesus. On Friday, a pastor from Long Beach spoke on how we sometimes wait for God to do something in our lives or speak to us about the next step; but how it is in the going, the movement of our lives that He grows us, shapes us, and changes us. She encouraged us to not be afraid of the difficulties and impossibilities, but to reach out and let Him fill us, change us, and transform us. In the movement He gives us the next step, He never leaves us hanging, but sometimes we have to take steps forward into the unknown to hear the next direction, to further lean and trust in Him.  

Even though we are only a few weeks into the semester, I am already amazed that this is my third year here at APU. Already my semester is packed; I find myself having to schedule out all of my time, making good use of multiple calendars. I have already felt overwhelmed, intimidated, and tired… and it is only week 4! 

And so, I was able to be at peace and rest, knowing that God is with me. It is such a blessing and encouragement to be in a community where you are challenged and refreshed in your faith on a daily basis. I would encourage you to check out our chapel schedules (maybe even watch one online!) HERE

Blessings,

-Cora J

-What is Growth?-

Over the past couple weeks my mind has been consumed and innondated with things to do, places to be, and homework to complete. Looking at a busy calendar can be daunting, but today I could not help but look at my calendar and smile because of the opportunities that I continue to have here daily. Despite late nights and early mornings, my days are full of laughter, memories, and growth

Caffeine pumped through my veins this past week as I sat in the library. The light tapping of letters on keyboards and the turning of texbook pages mixed with the muffled sound of printers spitting up black and white thoughts made me realize something. Education is not limited to the classroom. Knowledge is not found in textbooks or theory alone, it is in grasping new concepts and wrestling with an understanding of the world. Some of my most challenging and thought-provoking conversations I have had occured much past the hours of daylight with people that I now consider some of my closest friends. 

Growth to me is knowing that I don’t have all the answers. Growth to me is figuring my place in this world, not only as a human, but as a Christian. With wide eyes I watch the news and read articles about the atrocities that are occuring in our world wondering, “How are we going to respond to this?” At APU I know that I am becoming a person who is capable of asking the tough questions and am challenged beyond the confines of a white board to do something about it.

To me, that is education in action. My busy calendar reflects the fact that yes, I have things to do, but they are things that are aiding me in becoming an active and effective member of society upon graduation. For that reason, everyday I wake up thankful to be an APU cougar. 

-Ryan F

Out with the old, in with the new

September, in many ways, represents new beginnings. Last week a group of 20 APU students outwardly proclaimed their inward commitment to serving the Lord wholeheartedly through the symbolic act of baptism.

One of my residents got baptized and it was such a special moment being able to witness and be apart of her outward commitment to proclaiming who Jesus is in her life.

One of my favorite parts of living in the APU community is the way we are able to support and encourage each other both individually and as a whole body of Christ. Coming together for the baptism was such a beautiful reminder of how we can meet each other wherever we may be in our journey, and support and encourage each other along the way.

May you feel encouraged as you step into whatever is next,

-Kristen P

No matter the journey that you took this summer; across the globe or living each day in your hometown, I hope it was a time of growth, relaxation, and revelation. Welcome back!

Even if your summer seemed dull and uneventful, I would encourage you to still think about what you learned. Sometimes the most boring seasons are the seasons of greatest growth and depth. For those of you who had adventurous and maybe challenging summers; don’t forget the lessons that you have learned, write them in your heart and don’t be afraid of moving into the new school year! 

I had the honor and privilege of being in many places this summer and experiencing more of Jesus than I ever had—I was worried about coming back and not sure if I was ready. But one thing for sure that I have learned is to be present wherever you are, learn to live in each moment and seek out the good that God has for you. 

Now, welcome to our 2014-2015 year APU blogs! Yay! We are excited to be back with you and journey along with you in a new year. Any questions, curiosities, anxieties that we can help you with? Feel free to ask, this space is for you and we are here to help! Ask away! We want you to feel at home, and get a glimpse of the variety of life here at APU and help you decide where God is calling you! 

-Cora J

Simply and fully, welcome back. Cheers to new beginnings and old reminders; to places you have come from and dreams you are working towards.

As I enter in to all that this new season encompasses, I am reminded of how faithful God has been in all of my transition and change. This year, I am entering my senior year as a freshman RA (Resident Advisor) in Adams Hall. I am continually amazed by how God has prepared my heart for such a time as this—how He has orchestrated so purposefully the women that were placed on my hall, my staff, my various friend groups.

May you be encouraged to enter in. Regardless of how little or how much you have to give, may you engage deeply and invest fully to wherever you may be right now. May first impressions carry hope and excitement, rather than anxiety and dread. May you be surprised always—by yourself, and by those God specifically hand-stitched to be in your life for such a time as this.

Know that you are being prayed for as you begin this journey of contemplating colleges, or wherever you may find yourself.

Enjoy today friends,

-Kristen P

A Change of Pace-

The summer quickly came to a close, the excitment and buzz of campus began with seeing familiar faces, searching endlessly for the perfect couch, and of course… classes beginning! If you recall, I spent last semester in South Africa, and not only has the scenery changed around me, but so has the surrounding culture. 

Adjusting back to school, let alone another country, is always a challenge, but I know that I would not want to do it at any other place. My heart is full walking around campus, engaging with professors and friends, and once again being part of the incredible community and programs that APU has to offer. 

This year I am a freshmen RA (resident advisor) in the all mens dorm called Smith Hall! Me and my staff live in Smith Hall and plan community events and foster growth as residents walk through their freshmen year. Being an RA is one of the things I am most excited for in being back on campus because it truly embodies what APU is about… Christ centered community. 

I sure hope that your transition back to school is one filled with challenge, growth, and overall transformation! As you begin looking at colleges, applying, and recieveing those acceptance letters… know that myself and the fellow bloggers will be here to assist you, guide you, and encourage you through your process! I can’t wait to share my experience at APU with you this upcoming year!

-Ryan F

Growing up we are told so many different things.  “You have so much potential” or “the world is your oyster.”  We are raised with the idea that we can do any and everything we want. When I was a child all I wanted to be when I grew up was a concert cellist, a movie star, a ninja, and a Veterinarian.  We are told that the sky is the limit and I believed that.

However, as soon as I entered college I was told that I had to specialize in something, that I had to have a plan, and that I had to figure out my life for the next 40 years. Ok. I may be a little dramatic, but I felt this pressure that I had to know where my life was going. I had to pick a door and walk through it.

As a recent graduate I find myself in a place of uncertainty. I’m not uncertain about who I am or what I want out of life, but just on what I do next. As this summer wraps up I have found myself wondering what this next season of life will look like. It is a complete haze, filled with not only ambiguity but excitement.  But I found out the secret…you don’t have to have everything figured out, and it is perfectly normal to say “I don’t know what I’m doing next”.  I’m so glad that I don’t have to have my life figured out, because we have a God who guides.  I have been led to a place where I have met awesome people and I’ve grown so much!

So if you are undeclared or even if you think you have it all figured out, if those plans change or are altered Do. Not. Worry. The creator of the universe is with you and will open doors that you may not see.   

Find comfort in the uncertainty my friends.

-Kierstan H.

For much of this summer I have been walking backwards.  Sometimes gracefully and other times tripping over divots as I traversed APU’s campus as a tour guide.  Perhaps I was able to share my story this summer with some of you incoming freshmen on a tour or perhaps you are one of the many I walked backwards in front of who are now launching into their senior year of high school.  If you were, thank you for being a part of my summer where I was able to usher you into the place that has so deeply shaped and molded me.

As my season of being an intern comes to a close and I walk into this next season of life, I have decided to remain walking backwards.  Backwards walking requires a lot of trust, whether it is in yourself and your own confidence of where you are going, or in someone who is leading you.

 In one of my pinnacle classes my last semester at APU a wise professor opened my eyes to what backwards walking looks like with God.  He demonstrated by having another professor link arms with him back to back.  As he walked forward the professor back to back walked backwards in trust.  “This is what trusting God looks like”, he said, “We can’t see where we are going, but as we journey in blind-trust our eyes are opened to all God has blessed us with. 

So here I am, linked up back to back with God and amazed by everything that I see behind me from these last four years.  You guys, God is amazing and His hand has so perfectly orchestrated each bump and blessing in the road that I have been on.  Yes many times walking backwards is difficult, but the difference between my tours and my walk with God is that with God at my back He’s there to catch me when I trip.

It has been a blessing sharing with all of you this summer and it is my hope and prayer that as you move forward you would remember to walk backwards.    

-Emily S

By this point, if you are an incoming student this Fall the pressure is mounting as the countdown to move-in shrinks by the day.  Perhaps you are slowly packing and checking things off to be sure nothing gets left, or maybe you haven’t even started.  But one thing I can almost guarantee is that if you’re an avid social media user, you have exhausted all resources in trying to figure out who your roommate is.

Over my four years at APU I have had many moments where I “tried to figure it out.”  I built up expectations only to have them unmet and surpassed by something greater.  One of those moments led to the meeting of one of my dearest friends and at first the most random of roommates, Heather.  I would consider Heather to be one of the most authentic, caring and joy-filled friends I met at APU and I didn’t meet her right away.

Perhaps you are dreaming about meeting your roommate freshman year and being the best of friends.  If that’s you I will assure you that it does happen but it is ok and more likely that it won’t.  I didn’t meet Heather until thevery end of freshman year in the context that she could be my roommate.

Since then we have lived together sophomore through senior year.  I was blessed to live with her when she was a Resident Advisor, she visited me when I studied through APU’s L.A. Term program, we’ve had countless pillow talks, cooked way too much stir-fry, processed transitions together, and now I have the blessing of being in her bridal party when she gets married a month from now!

All this to say, Heather’s friendship and the reality of being her roommate for much of college was something I didn’t expect nor could I have ever predicted.  As many of you meet your roommates for the first time in a few short weeks I pray that you would lay aside expectations and walk boldly into friendships that will far surpass what you have tried to figure out!

- Emily S.

There is something about silence that always scares me. There are a number of reasons why: one of them being I am an extrovert. According to the Meyer Briggs assessment I am 100% extrovert. Basically, I. Love. People.  So, I guess for me silence equals the lack of conversation, which means, I’m alone. Alone, lonely, solitude all things that make me really uncomfortable.

However, here at APU I found out that I had a misunderstanding of solitude. Solitude is something that is healthy and needed. My first time having a time of solitude took place on Walkabout. If you read my last post you’d know Walkabout is a 10 day backpacking trip through Yosemite. During these 10 days I did solo time, where everyone on my team was separated and placed in their own areas for 2 days!The first time it was hard because I didn’t have an understanding of the purpose of solitude.

This summer I feel solo time would have been very beneficial. I am always in a rush, always on my way somewhere, always on the go.  This has affected every aspect of my life, and sometimes I feel it takes away time that could be spent reading my bible or praying. Time that I can be spending alone with God.

As you enter this season of excitement and newness, I really want to encourage you to remember to take that time out for solitude. Get in a quiet place where it is just you and God. A place where you can be in silence…where you can just listen. There is so much within this silence and contrary to what I believed, it is filled with love and peace. It is in these times the Lord speaks to us: in a quiet breeze, the trickle of water, our even the beating of a humming bird’s wings.

I’m so grateful for a God who is so powerful, but chooses to speak to us in the quietest of voices. Embrace it. Welcome it gladly. Plan it once a day, once a week…plan for that time when you can be alone with the King. At first it may feel weird, it did for me. I started with reading a scripture, to fill the time mostly. However, after a few times I just started to listen and it was in these moments I heard God speaking through the silence around me.

May you all learn what it means to be in solitude, and how to embrace it as a gift.

Blessings and Peace,

Kierstan H  

What kind of leader are you? Before APU I would roll my eyes when asked this question. I would answer with something snarky like-I like to follow, or I hate standing in the front of the line. I believed a lie that said I AM NOT A LEADER. I lacked confidence in my abilities, my gifts, and myself as a person.

All of this changed when my roommates dared me to apply for a leadership position on campus.  I had the opportunity to serve as a Resident Advisor (RA) for two years. In preparation for the upcoming year, all RAs are required to go on a 10 backpacking trip through Yosemite. I was lucky to have the opportunity to go on this trip twice. My first trip took place Aug 2011, and I was really excited to go to such a beautiful place, but at the same time I had my doubts. It would take a book to contain the stories about all the fun and adventurous things I did with my team, but I don’t have a book, so instead I will tell you about a life-shaping moment. It was our second day in the woods and I, along with my friend Jake, were chosen to be the leader of the day. So we woke up before our team, started the fire, and made breakfast. Then we set off to our next destination. Before we left our guide told us that we would be hiking the hardest trail of our entire trip, and that this meant carrying ourselves along with our 50lb packs up the side of a mountain. My heart was exploding out of my chest, but after two hours of struggling with nature, we finally made it to the peek, it was here that I found I am a powerful force to be reckoned with. This was the first step of a journey that would continue to shape the leader I was to become.

My second trip took place Aug 2012 and it was even better than the first. I learned what it meant to be vulnerable and how this vulnerability is a solid foundation to building amazing friendships. The second time around I found out what path I wanted to take after leaving APU. Getting involved with leadership has taught me so much and shaped who I am today.

I encourage all of you to consider doing a leadership position. Even if you have your doubts and concerns, I hope you will all find the gumption to go for it!

You are called to lead.

Best,

Kierstan H

"Welcome home! You made it!”
This is what you will be hearing from 150 amazing leaders as they greet all of you new incoming students into the next wonderful chapter of your life.

Orientation is only a month away and this is honestly one of the most energetic times of the year, not only for incoming students but for current students on campus as well. Truly, it is a time of excitement as the students love to welcome our new Cougars into the family. Plus, it is always cool to see your President Jon Wallace walking around saying hello to students and joining in on the fun.

I have had the privilege of serving as a leader in our Orientation office for the last two years and let me say that it couldn’t have been a more memorable experience. My transition into student life my freshman year was so smooth because of Orientation and the leaders involved, so I wanted to give back and be a part of it myself. These leaders are called “Alpha” Leaders and alpha in Greek means beginning. They will have a huge impact in your first impressions of APU as you begin your new chapter; and what better way to do so by jumping up and down, screaming “Welcome Home!”.

I encourage all of you to be prayerful about your transition into APU life and to come in with no expectations. Truly allow God to lead you in this next month as you prepare for a new season and enjoy the excitement that comes along with. Also, don’t be afraid to get involved on campus through leadership or organizations so you can truly embrace the home that APU has waiting for you!

Blessings to you all and see you on campus soon!

-Mike L

“God uses your giftings in ways you could never expect.  We are not given a blueprint for our lives, rather Biblical purposes to live out.” – Matthew Elofson

       How often in life are you given a choice?  If we truly sat and thought about the daily choices we make we could all become quickly overwhelmed.  One of the most overwhelming choices for me in my APU journey came at the end of my sophomore year when I decided to switch my major.  In that process I had a professor step into my life and guide me.  Little did I know that this professor would have an integral role in the rest of my college journey!

       This insightful, truth-seeking professor is Matt Elofson.  He has pushed me to be the best I could be, helped to shape my understanding of ministry and where God is calling me, he served as my academic advisor, I became his TA, and I was able to go on a life changing study abroad trip that he led to England, Kenya, and France.  Needless to say, he is one of the many professors that have poured into my life in countless ways, and I could not thank him enough. 

       I recently met up with Professor Elofson over lunch and was able to process through new transitions in my life with him.   In our conversation we talked a lot about giftings and how God can use them in so many different ways.  Perhaps you are like me and you have difficulty seeing the things you are good at and gifted in until someone is there, looking you in the eyes, and drawing them out of you.  Or maybe decisions are hard for you, period. 

       In my conversation with Professor Elofson he reminded me of when we went to the grocery store in Nairobi, Kenya.  He asked if I remembered the grocery aisle there, I responded with faint remembrance and he stated that it wasn’t an aisle at all.  There were maybe 4 boxes of cereal.  He mentioned that here if I have a craving for captain crunch and go to the grocery store I can find it.  But upon arriving I might find that I also want cinnamon toast crunch… It is in this moment, he says, that we become paralyzed by choice.

       Perhaps you are at a time in your life where choices are hard and it is difficult to see the Biblical purposes for your life.  I would encourage you to find a Matt Elofson in your life.  Someone that has been down the road before you and can open your eyes to the ways that God shows up through the giftings he has given you.  Then patiently wait.  God will show up in ways you could never expect.    

Blessings on the road ahead,

-Emily S 

There is something really exciting about the sunrise. Waking up early to catch that first light peeking through the window, taking in the crisp morning air. It signifies the beginning of a new day bringing with it new adventures, and new opportunities to grow. With every sunrise there’s newness that we are blessed to experience.

The beginning or the start of something new gives us the chance to explore new places, meet new people, and discover new things about ourselves.  However, for some, the start of something new brings with it feelings of anxiety and fear. Sometimes the change that comes with newness makes us uncomfortable to the point of us feeling that we are no longer ourselves.

I was very excited to see what God had in store for me at APU, but for the first few weeks that excitement was laced with feelings of uncertainty and my fear of disconnection. I quickly found that these fears were erased as I got to know my roommates. As a transfer student, I was placed in University Park 101A, where I was blessed with 3 beautiful roommates. One of these roommates, in a hopes of getting to know me better, or just to fulfill a general education requirement, took Introduction to Philosophy with me (MWF at 7:15AM, crazy right?!). Although neither of us knew it, our living together was God ordained.

Up until this point, I never used the term best friend. Of course I understood the word in theory, but there was no one in my life that held that title. My roommate of one semester became that for me. I’ve heard that the friends you make in college stick with you for life and now I believe that! God has blessed me with someone who understands me, someone who has the ability to encourage me, and someone who knows that hugs are the fastest way to my heart (even though she doesn’t care for them that much).

If you are coming in this fall assigned to random roommates, I understand the feelings of uncertainty that come with the word “random roommate”.  However, I would encourage you to approach your roommate assignment with openness and intentionality. Make time to get to know your roommates, whether that be through Donut Man runs or intentionally signing up for the same class, actively seek out moments to engage each other.

When I was assigned to UP 101A I knew that I would get along with my roommates, but I had no idea I would leave that semester finding my life twin, my best friend, and sister.

My prayer is that if you experience fear or anxiety, it is replaced with acceptance and love. May you be blessed with people who see you, your unique abilities and heart. 

Cheers,

Kierstan H.