kristenp

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This week, I climbed Table Mountain: one of The Seven Wonders of the World.

To give you a better understanding of what the climb entailed, the entire hike is a steep incline with rocky steps and after a great deal of mental determination, 3,559 feet later you’ve conquered the mountain and literally feel like you are on top of the world.

It was an incredible experience to say I have climbed on of the Seven Wonders of the World. Once we got to the top, I was impressed by the tourism Table Mountain attracts due to the easily accessible cable car that also transports people up the beautiful mountainside. Once you’ve reached the plateau-surfaced mountaintop, Table Mountain has a gift shop, café, and indescribable views every direction you look.

I’m learning to see beauty in every facet of my day. The physical beauty of the country of South Africa is inescapable; everywhere you look it is easy to see God’s handiwork in the natural landscape and terrain. However, in the little moments that are exhausting or unfavorable, I have been learning to trust that God is using those moments, for something beyond what I am able to see.

May you always see joy in the ordinary and learn to trust without borders!

Until next time friends,

-Kristen P

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When home looks different than it once was

Things are not as they once were, and that is exactly how it is supposed to be. You are not as you once were, and that is exactly how you are supposed to be. Growth calls for change, change requires a transition and sitting in the transition is indefinite and filled with tension. It will all be okay.

Take a hint from the trees—a seed is planted, nourished, cared for. New life emerges, not what once was but rather what is becoming: a process, a change, a transition, growth.

May you experience glimpses of glory in the mundane. May you embrace little realizations and moments of growth discovered on hindsight. When repetition becomes stale and loses its appeal, may you have a freshened perspective.

For what it’s worth, we’re all in this learning process. These in-between moments can be so layered and complex yet the simplicity is at the surface—you are on a break. May you be hospitable to this perfectly-timed interruption.

From my heart to yours.

- Kristen P

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These are bits of everyday life in South Africa that I am particularly fond of, and just wanted to share simple moments that bring great joy.

As a cohort, we eat all of our meals together—never sitting at the same place, but always learning pieces unique to us that make us who we are.

In Africa, everyone goes to the beat of their own drum. Yet somehow, the rhythms seem to be united, in corresponding harmony with mutual understanding. This is particularly true with time. African time translates to a go-with-the-flow pace, often leisurely and never certain.

Expressive eyes. I have noticed the beauty in eyes that tell a story. Because language is often a barrier, I have valued the significance of looking into the eyes of the kids we interact with, and seeing the wonder, depth and often brokenness in their brilliant eyes. I have aimed to reciprocate with gentle, kind eyes that have no hidden agenda.

I so enjoy the natural beauty of South Africa. The wind is prominent here in Cape Town and it is such a reminder to me of God’s almighty power. The stars are incredibly vast and brilliant. The mountains, the valleys, the ocean, the people—everything is so uniquely beautiful.

There are so many cultural differences, yet in Christ, there is common ground—and that is through faith, and hope found in Him.

Until next time,

-Kristen P

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Create

May you learn to become yourself in the presence of others, moving into the world as the person you fully are no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what’s gone wrong.

Lately I have found value in creating, simply for the pure delight and joy I get in making something out of nothing. Whether it is creating with my hands, through words, art or even food; creating space, in my room for others to come as they are; or creating room to listen to Jesus’ still small voice amidst a chaotic season.

When I am creating, that is an area where I feel most fulfilled and where I can express the innermost parts of my being. APU is a place where creativity is embraced and where there are outlets and avenues for the creative arts, expression through dance or sports, or even creativity established in the way one chooses to lead and become involved on campus.

What are your creative outlets?

- Kristen P

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Adams Games 2015

APU has a vast array of long-held traditions that create anticipation and excitement towards these events that are foundational in student life.

One of my favorite traditional events is the annual Adams Games. This year, the games commenced with an opening ceremony, where each hall presented their homemade flags with their corresponding hall color, followed by a chant that was created on the spot from each hall. The events included in Adams Games this year included: 

  • Crab-walk soccer 
  • Relay races 
  • Eating contests
  • Quidditch

The games advocated for each girl to participate and whether they enjoyed sports or preferred to cheer the others on, all were welcomed and received.

One of my favorite things about events at APU, is that they create an atmosphere where everyone has a place and where different sides in people are brought about and embraced. Throughout the year, we have had events that encourage silliness and spontaneity, as well as events that are more serious and reflective.

May you be encouraged to come as you are, wherever you are.

- Kristen P

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You will be taken care of

As we embark upon Dead Week preceding finals, with the escapade of emotional roller coasters laced in sweet seasons ending and new chapters beginning I have been learning the art of leaning into others. Sometimes I think I am capable of meeting expectations on my own; however, this week I am reminded of God’s faithfulness and provision in knowing who and what we need for such a time as this.

Although leaning into others for support requires a degree of vulnerability, I have learned this week that it is so beautiful to truly do life in community. As we draw the semester to a close, I have found comfort in solidarity with my fellow classmates and friends, as we together face academic loads, in addition to finishing the semester well relationally, emotionally and spiritually.

I woke up this morning to coffee on my desk from my best friend at APU, with notes of encouragement covering the cup and prayers from her, covering my day. Last night my Resident Director (RD) invited me over to enjoy her recently decorated Christmas apartment and a homemade spaghetti dinner. Simple gestures like that are commonplace at APU and if you find yourself one day calling APU home, know that you will be taken care of.

Take heart,

- Kristen P.

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What I wish I would’ve known

As I reflect upon where I have come from prior to APU, to where I am in transitioning out of a place that has impacted me more than I can put to words, I wish I would have known:

  • Create space to simply be: It is easy to go through the motions of the day in a monotonous manner, but life is abundant when lived to the fullest.
  • Lean into the tension: I have learned that the moments that are hardest are simultaneously the moments where the most growth is produced and developed.
  • Let go of what you think it should look like: Unmet expectations produce disappointment and comparison is the thief of joy. Your experience will be your own, and it will inevitably look different than those who have gone before.
  • Welcome interruptions: In reflection, my favorite moments have been surprise interactions and conversations, unplanned spontaneity that produces memories. Moments where surprise dancing and singing takes precedence over to-do lists and heartfelt conversations prioritize over strict agendas are important when considering what truly matters. It will all get done, I promise.

Have fun, enjoy the ride my dear friends,

- Kristen P

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“…Holding on to what we need and releasing what we don’t, making space to access courage and creativity, quieting to hear the voice of God”

During this season of lent, I am encouraged to simplify and sift through what I no longer need, in preparing my heart for remembering Jesus’ sacrifice and celebrating His resurrected life.

As I personally reflect and consider what I want to give up this year, I have decided to intentionally give something away each day during this season of lent. Whether this is a tangible item I no longer need, or an encouraging card to someone, I want to be intentional in simplifying so the result is less of myself, and more of Jesus in me.

Prior to attending APU, I had not participated in Lent and was unfamiliar with what lent even was. However, APU has a Lent focused chapel every year, where we as a student body, begin to prepare our hearts together in remembering Jesus’ death on the cross, and His life resurrected that we celebrate on Easter.

What is something in your life you could give up, to help you simplify and settle your soul during this season?

- Kristen P

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What do you do when you miss home?

Great question. Homesickness is a reality—especially for those of us who live out-of-state. Fortunately, APU fosters an environment where there are people who care for you deeply and meet you where you are at.

When I miss home, I:

  •  Find a friend who understands. There are people who just get it. Those who have earned your trust and whom you know will empathize and just feel deeply right alongside you.
  •  Look up: So often, I miss home because of what once was, or who I once was, in that familiar environment. Rather than focusing on what isn’t, focus on what is, and the people who have been placed in your life for such a time as this.
  •  Do something you cannot do at home: This can be so fun. Whether it’s taking a spontaneous trip to the beach just because or eating ice-cream for breakfast—whatever it is you are unable to do at home, take hold of these moments and opportunities and embrace where you are at.

In other words, embrace who you are, who you are surrounded by and where you are.

Take heart,

- Kristen P

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Choose APU

 This weekend, as many of you are likely aware, is an event called Choose APU.

From my own perspective, I believe you should choose APU because:

  • APU is so much more than a University, APU fosters a community that truly sees each person as an individual worthy of love and belonging.
  • APU has an Orientations and Transitions program that will help you transition seamlessly and will help you meet new people right from the start. To learn more about this program, click here.
  • APU’s office of Student Life including offices such as: athletics, chapel programs, Student Center for Reconciliation and Diversity and Residence life offers programs and outlets that meet each student where they are at and help them grow into who they are becoming. To learn more about Student Life click here

These are just a couple of the hundreds of reasons why APU is such a unique university that aims to develop academic scholars while also enriching each individual to reach their highest potential and ultimately helps them pursue their vocation and calling.

May you be encouraged and know that you are not alone! 

- Kristen P

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Tuesdays with KP

One of my fellow bloggers, Kristen P., also happens to be one of my dear friends. We first met when I was a junior (she was a sophomore) through APU’s orientation program, popularly known as Alpha. She had been selected to serve as an orientation leader and I was working as an orientation coordinator. We had minimal interaction for the duration of this program but we ended up in the same social psychology class that fall. Over the course of the semester, we got to know each other better and became friends. Spring semester we both studied abroad, I went to Oxford, England and she went to Capetown, South Africa, but we kept in touch and reveled in our travel experiences and culture shock. When we both came back to campus this year, our friendship continued to grow, and now we have lunch together every Tuesday. Rain or shine, sad or happy, hungry or not, we head to the Cougar Den on campus and grab food. We then make our way to our favorite spot, a quiet corner of campus tucked behind the International Center. I have come to cherish Tuesdays because of my time with KP. She has taught me what it means to choose joy when you want to do the opposite and more importantly she continually makes me feel valued. Here’s to friendship, APU bloggers, and Tuesdays! 

- Maddie H. 

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Allow people to surprise you.

Pictured above, is my roommate from this semester, Mariah. Entering into this school year, neither one of us knew what the year would entail. I am deeply and forever grateful for the surprise of a blessing she has been.

This past semester, I have learned the value of presence. Rather than vocalizing an opinion or interrupting with her own perspective, Mariah so beautifully exemplified what it looks like to simply walk with me as I journey through my senior year at APU.

I will forever believe that the people are truly the most beautiful part of APU. There is something so sacred and so unique about solidarity—where as students, we are able to come together, with the common denominator being our age and our education, then to branch out and recognize differences and embrace the uniqueness that each individual brings because of where they have come from and the intricacies that make them who they are.

Wherever you find yourself, may you embrace those layers that make you who you are, and may you find a place where you are able to be fully yourself, in the presence of others.

From my heart to yours,

- Kristen P

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Hello friends!

As a student from out-of-state, I have familiarized myself with processes of communicating effectively and being intentional. The reality of being in college is: you will not be able to give the same amount of attention to each and every individual you would like to; however, there are certainly creative ways to effectively communicate with those you desire to be intentional with.

Some of my favorite ways to communicate:

  • Handwritten letters/cards: This is my personal favorite, and though this form of communication is a dying art, it is truly so lovely and worthwhile. There is something significant about a tangible letter, with personalized handwriting and time carefully spent on a card.
  • FaceTime/Skype: This year I became an Auntie for the first time, and though I was unable to fly out to meet my precious niece, I have seen her smile and giggle via FaceTime and that has truly been such a tremendous blessing.
  • Mini-updates: I have been trying a new method, where I will randomly send my Mom pictures—whether I am in class listening to a presentation, cooking a meal, or grabbing coffee with a friend, I try to snap a picture of something representative of my day so she is able to catch a glimpse of my everyday life, with the little details that are significant to her.

Whatever works best for you, let that be a source of helping you with intentionality in your relationships!

-Kristen P

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Savor.

As I enter into the last portion of my senior year, themantra I want to adopt is to savor, living abundantly everyday where I am.

With the end in mind, I want to be especially considerate of soaking in these precious moments and living with absolute intention and purpose in the relationships I have chosen to invest into.

The act of savoring requires a slowness of pace and attentiveness to what is, over what isn’t. In living abundantly, I have eyes to see surplus over lack and I am able to be present with my circumstances and the people around me for such a time as this. In this new perspective and mindset, I also want to come as I am, with a focus on authenticity and sincerity in every interaction and conversation I have.

At APU, authenticity is valued in the strong emphasis on community and conversations are welcomed where more questions are pursued than answers and heartfelt honesty is embraced.

Wherever you find yourself in your journey, may you be encouraged to savor every moment and enjoy every day as it comes.

- Kristen P

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All endings are also beginnings

Cul·mi·na·tion: the highest or climactic point of something, especially as attained after a long time.

I am overcome with gratitude and a full heart in what is, as a result of what has been, these past three years. I am not the same person I was when I entered APU; as a result of the people who have left an indelible imprint on my life and heart, I am forever changed. 

What’s next. I will be moving to Washington D.C. next month where I will work as a Child Care Specialist at Jill’s House serving children with special needs and providing respite for their families. The position is a year-long commitment and after the year I intend to pursue my Master’s in Occupational Therapy.

Transition and change are inevitable and although I grieve leaving a place that has been integral in shaping who I am, I await with hopeful anticipation for what is to come as I know I have been equipped in my time at APU and I am ready.

Thank you for journeying alongside me these past few years, it has been a true honor and a joy.

May grace surprise you kindly friends,

- Kristen P

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Greetings from South Africa!

Amidst the business of finals (because school is still school—even in South Africa) and finishing up our service sites, last weekend, we had the opportunity to explore places we had not yet been to in our time here in Cape Town.

During our full weekend we: went to Robben Island, explored underground Cape Town, and went on a kayaking adventure to see the local South African penguins. Although it was a full weekend of adventuring and site-seeing, I was able to take a step back to reflect on my time here thus far.

I made a list of the ways I have grown and changed since last year, and the wisdom I have acquired from those around me that I hope to take home and incorporate into conversations when I go home.

Wherever you are on your journey, I encourage you to reflect on where you’ve been and where you are going and those key people who have shaped and molded you into the person you are today.

Enjoy your week, friends!

-Kristen P

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Home team

“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways… These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.”

As I have entered into my last semester at APU, I recognize the significance of having a select handful of individuals I am choosing to wholeheartedly invest into, rather than a massive ongoing list of acquaintances. 

Pictured above are some of those individuals who have been key players in not only encouraging me and showing me unconditional love and support, but also individuals who love me enough to challenge me and call me out so that I can grow and learn.

There is something so sacred about relationships where you can learn to let go, and find that they remain. I am convinced we were not meant to do this life alone. I am learning to lean on the shoulders of others, where I am encouraged and find that I have more energy and love to then outpour to those around me.

May you find your go-to people, those sacred spaces where you can exhale and simply be, but in the presence of others.

- Kristen P

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Hi all!

I recently got back from my home stay experience, where I was given the opportunity of living with a South African family in one of the local communities here—where we ate with the family and did everyday life alongside them, they adopted us as their own for the week we spent in their home.

Staying with my South African Ma and Pa taught me more than I could have ever anticipated. I learned the value of living simply—to keep only what I need and give the rest away. I learned to always have an open door and to welcome people into my home by immediately offering tea or coffee. I learned to hold schedules loosely and to be flexible and adaptable. I learned to genuinely listen without an agenda, and to share stories and wisdom and life together.

Every night, we literally talked with our Ma and Pa for at least six hours before eventually going to sleep at 2 or 3 AM. They sincerely just wanted to get to know us and hear about the people that have shaped and made us who we are today.

The culture here is so rich in relationships and I hope to carry that with me when I return home.

Until next time,

-Kristen P

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World Travelers  Yesterday I had the honor and delight of sending my roommate and best friend off to Cape Town, South Africa as she begins her semester studying abroad with the nursing program. Although I will miss her presence tremendously on campus this semester, I couldn’t be more excited for her to venture where God has called her for such a time as this. The send-off yesterday was particularly special as it marked the one-year anniversary of the day I left the country and embarked on my own study abroad travels in the exact same place in South Africa. Included above is a picture of me bungee-jumping in South Africa, off the tallest bungee bridge in the world. As I look back and reflect upon what the Lord has done in my life, I am reminded that sometimes we are required to take the initial jump, then God is faithful to provide in abundance, more than we could ask or imagine. Sometimes, amidst the chaos of this life, we miss the still small voice guiding us as we navigate big decisions regarding the intimidating unknown. May we create space to listen, to wonder, to wait. May we experience peaceful assurance and hope-filled wonder. Where is God calling you? Blessings, - Kristen P
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My dear friend gave me this letter for the plane to South Africa, and the theme continues to resonate in new ways each day.

Wahamba nathi.It means, “He’s walking with us.”

“In every moment, in every feeling, he is walking with you. Let His presence come to life in a new way this semester… Acknowledge whatever you’re feeling and know that God is walking with you. He is troubled by your sadness, joyful in your excitement, attentive to your fear. He doesn’t ask anything of you right now—He’s just wanting to be part of your moment. WAHAMBA NATHI.”

Maybe because we have literally been walking everywhere, these words especially hold true, but God’s presence has also been made known here. Small moments have already changed my heart in new and beautiful big ways.

I don’t have a lot of things figured out, I don’t know all the answers. I fall short, I’m inadequate, I don’t live up to expectations. Yet, God faithfully meets me, exactly where I’m at and displays his patience and relentless grace.

I cannot navigate this semester, this life in my own way. Of course life is always better with His leading and clear direction, purpose and timing—just so often I forget.

I simply want to encourage you to have full confidence that wherever you may be, know that He is walking with you. And He will never leave your side.

Until next time,

-Kristen P