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I feel like in the last couple of years, cupcake popularity has sky rocketed… And for very good reason. What isn’t appealing about a perfectly proportioned mini cake? Or, even further, MINI cupcakes? Those darling sponges of deliciousness are a vacation for the mouth as well as an avenue for bonding and building community, especially here at Vanguard.

Just a few days ago, my roommate and I hosted an event for the 3rd floor girls of Laguna, for which, we are floor aunties. My beautiful friend is the RA for these sweet girls and does so much to make their experience on campus a memorable one. We decided to host a cupcake party, in our quad, for the girls as a way to interact with them and to get to know them a little bit better.

The event was a complete success, not only because we offered a tantalizing “Decorate-Your-Own-Cupcake Station” (they were, indeed, mini cupcakes, by the way) or because we offered a viewing of the classic Lizzie McGuire Movie, but also because we all were able to connect in a fun and unique way. I hadn’t spent much time with these girls who know me as their “Aunt”, so, for me, it was a good way to introduce myself to them and do something special for them.

Photo Credit: Jessica Kenia Sanchz-Gonzalez (my personal photographer ;] )

The next time you look at a cupcake, don’t just see the frosting or the sprinkles or the spongy goodness hidden beneath. Bond with someone over a cupcake, reach out and take an interest in who they are, whether on campus, or off. Consider the way that very cupcake could lead to a connection with someone new. I guarantee that you wont be disappointed with the result. I certainly wasn’t.


My Life, Instagrammed.

Here is my past week, in 8 photos. Enjoy.

1. Last Tuesday, My resident Katie and I went to Kean Coffee where we got a Honey Vanilla Latte and Moroccan Mint Tea. We then headed to Newport Beach where we walked along the surf, talking about her Freshman year and watched the sun go down.

2. On Wednesday, my girls decided to sticky note my room with witty comments. This one I found in the morning once I went to go put creamer in my coffee, and it is by far my favorite.

3. I put gas in my car… there goes my life savings at $4.55 per gallon.

4. One of my friends came up and visited on Friday. We went over to South Coast Plaza, walked around a bit, and drank Starbucks. It was great to catch up and show her around Vanguard and the OC.

5. On Friday, I took my girls on my floor to Disneyland. We were only able to go to California Adventure because the Disneyland park was closed for the Halloween Party, but it was still fun. We were there for about 4 hours, and only rode one ride because of how long the lines were. This is a picture of us on that one ride, the Haunted Mansion, throwing up our 7’s to represent 7th floor Laguna Hall.

6. Saturday we had another floor event, a photo shoot! One of my good friends, Aly Thompson took the above photo of me and my girls. We dressed for fall (in the 78 degree weather) and traveled to Old Town Orange. Old Town Orange is beautiful because of all of the brick walls and antique shops. It is a wonderful place to spend your afternoon.

7. My Disneyland pass expired on Sunday, so in honor, I decided to go to Disneyland with a couple of my friends. It’s okay to procrastinate on your homework a little if it means going to Disney… but I’m a little biased.

8. On Monday Morning, I was blessed to grab coffee at Portola Coffee Lab with my good friend Jenna Marek. She has been such a blessing to me over the past 2 1/2 years here at Vanguard. It was a beautiful way to start off this week.


Everywhere You Go

Vanguard students are definitely a special breed. Maybe it’s something they put in the water at Vanguard, maybe it’s the people that Vanguard attracts, maybe it’s just the culture that Vanguard makes for its students; I’m not really sure, but Vanguard students are just a different breed. One of the things I like about being a student at Vanguard is how I feel like a part of a larger community. I feel like I see Vanguard students–both past and present–all over Orange County. It’s not uncommon to see Vanguard students anywhere you go, and because of Vanguard’s fairly small size you almost always recognize them, or they you.  In my time here I have met so many Vanguard alumni who live and work here that when I meet someone new, whether at church, a coffee shop, or anywhere else, and tell them that I go to Vanguard, they almost always know someone else who has gone there. I only say this because I feel like this week I have ran into people from my school in the most random places around Orange County. Over the course of the last week I have run into Vanguard students at my work in Irvine, at a restaurant in Newport, late at night at a coffee shop in Fullerton, and a few other places. It’s always cool to see other Vanguard students outside of Vanguard. It reminds me that even though the Vanguard community is primarily found on campus, we are all part of a community that is also engaging and living in the world around us.

Adventure Is Out There!

My heart has been extremely heavy this week, and only one word can truly capture what it is: future. (Not, like, whether or not flying saucers will ever be a real method of transportation, although why don’t I concern myself with that more often?)
I really don’t know what happened to college. Wasn’t I just a freshman? Now, facing me head on, is grad school and internship applications. Suddenly, the question of staying in Orange County doesn’t have a definite answer. There are so many big questions that I am already trying to answer, and even with my 75% degree, I am freaking out about answering them.
This week I made my return to work after a week and a half long absence. I love working at DCA, and that’s halfway because of the people. But what made this week strange was how many times I had the same conversation.
Co-Worker: What are you getting your degree in?
Me: Theater. I’ll probably just work here forever though, let’s be real.
Co-Worker: No. You’re too smart for that.
Normally, I would just go ahead and brush off the compliment (that’s what I usually do, I don’t know how to take a compliment someone please teach me kthxbai). But the number of times this general conversation happened in the course of three days had me thinking about what I want to do. Not what I should do, or what I’m going to do, but what I want to do.
I could work at Disneyland forever. It’s an awesome place to be (not to mention I can get into any Disney theme park ANYWHERE completely free). But if you have a degree, shouldn’t you aim higher than full-time minimum wage? (Granted, I am a lead, but it’s still hourly.) I could go to grad school: because I love what I study, why not study it further? But that could send me to somewhere far away, and I don’t know if I am ready to leave for three years. I could apply and complete a professional internship in management at DisneyWorld; but am I ready to give up the progress I’ve already made in the theme park?
Every time I make a choice, it only takes like thirty seconds for me to find another flaw in my flawless plan.
But what I am very certain of, without a shred of doubt, is that God has an awesome, kick-butt plan for my life. I know that I will have struggles, and I know that nothing will ever come easy, but he is watching and guiding me.
And with a reminder like this on my wrist at all times, how could I help but be a little bit excited for the future in store?


Let’s Grab Coffee

I liked coffee before coming to college, but once I got to Vanguard, liking coffee was brought to a whole new level. Coffee is a necessity to survive through your 8am class, but also vital in your social life with friends, mentors, and professors. Never would I have thought, prior to Vanguard, that coffee would become a daily necessity of existence in my life.

It may sound like I have an addiction, but rather it is a beautiful addition to the relationships surrounding me. You will have many people ask you, “Hey! Would you want to grab coffee sometime?” This can be said in a nonchalant manner, but could be a conversation where God reveals himself to you in ways you never imagined.

One of these conversations happened last week when I asked to meet with one of my Marketing professors. I was experiencing one of my normal “what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-I-still-hate-my-major” freak outs, which you should know, has happened many times throughout my time here at Vanguard (I have changed my major 6 times), and really wanted to meet with one of my professors. Not only had I received a poor grade on my last exam, I really wanted to talk to her about Marketing and how I can use it to be happy for the rest of my life.

I walked into this meeting thinking that we would sit in her office and talk about how marketing is relevant to society, blah blah blah. Needless to say, I did not have high hopes but was desperate to talk to someone. When I got to her office, she asked if we could go and grab coffee. Now, meeting with professors was something I never expected when attending college, but going off-campus with them to talk about my life was mind boggling for me! I never thought that my professor who has a doctorate degree in business would care to take me out for coffee and pour into my life.

This began what resulted in a 2 hour conversation where I talked nothing about my exam and everything about what I was going through as I juggled life as a student, friend, RA, and daughter. She began to help me understand why what I am doing right now is important and that God can use me right now and that I do not have to wait until I graduate.

Obviously my life is not perfect as a result of this conversation, but I cannot explain to you how grateful I am for the professors that I have at my school, who genuinely care enough to sit down with one of their students and hear their story.

I am grateful for the cliché coffee dates that happen often, because after many of them, I walk away praising God for the conversation He blessed me with.


Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s law is no joke. Anything that can go wrong, will. It is an inevitable truth. I have had a great start to the school year, but in the past week, things have taken a slight downhill slide. I have been sick, I have a slight eye infection, and my ‘to do’ list is ever growing. Right now, I think it is longer than my left arm. In this moment, I am feeling the impact of Murphy’s law on my life.

At this point in the semester, we are beginning to settle into our schedules, routines, expected weekly workloads, and all the other fun stuff we have to re-integrate ourselves into. This is when the preliminary excitement disappears and we simply begin existing in our new reality. This isn’t to say that our reality isn’t exciting and enjoyable, it just becomes the norm. The novelty disappears.

For me, this reality is great. I am enjoying what I am involved in, I have a relatively low stress level, and all around, college life is as it should be and as would be expected. But, in the midst of all of it, I am sick, I am tired, and I have a whole lot of homework, deadlines, and commitments.

I am re-discovering the importance of depending on the Lord and trusting in what He is doing in my life. He has provided me with a learning community that encourages me and helps me along in whatever happens in my life. Despite the small issues I face, whether it be my sickness or my daunting ‘to do’ list, I have the Creator of the universe holding me in His hand. He has my back and He knows exactly what He is doing. He created whoever Mr. Murphy is or was, He is the ultimate Dictator of all that goes on in my life. And that… Is refreshing :]

Deuteronomy 1:30-32
“The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”


Constantly Connected

We are constantly connected, whether it is through Facebook or Instagram, our phones and laptops allow us to be constantly bombarded with information about our friends. This past week I decided to take a break on all social media sites that I’m connected to. This included Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and yes, even Instagram. I didn’t realize how much I needed to be connected with those around me, but I also didn’t realize how distant I was in my relationships because of social media. I was expecting this to be difficult, as I deleted each app off of my iPhone, but the week was greatly needed.

This year I have a lot more on my plate, trying to balance being a good RA, student, daughter, and friend, and I realized that I wasn’t good at any of them, but rather mediocre at them all. Deleting social media from my week allowed me to realize what I can do with my free time. The first thing I do when I sit down on my computer is pull up Facebook, checking in on what my friends are doing.

I did not know what to expect from God by giving all of my social media sites up, but I became more aware of God in every moment. I began to turn to journaling instead of blogging, conversations in person rather than catching up on Facebook. Everything felt genuine and real. I desired more of God’s presence daily, rather than doing things out of obligation.

I realize that this was for only a brief amount of time, and that I cannot expect a week to change my entire life, but it was a step toward delving deeper into my relationship with Christ. He is my everything and that needs to be evident in the way I spend my spare time, putting him first in every conversation and encounter.

I dare you to see if you could go a week or more without social media sites. Or, if you want to try something even harder, join my friends in deciding to give up their phone for a week!


Organization Smorganization

I realized today how important it is to be organized. I guess it’s a little late now that I am more than ¾ of the way through my college career. OH WELL. Better late than never, right? Right.
I have a planner, you see, that I have paid about $50 for. My name is printed right on the cover, and it is awesome and pretty. I am really proactive about keeping track of my life in this planner (I even have meetings for April written in…). But when things slip through the cracks…It’s kind of like my life falls apart just a tiny bit. Thankfully, stage management has been very helpful in keeping everything together. I have to plan rehearsal around school, and work around those things, and homework around that, and free time around that, and Parks and Recreation time around that.
So I suppose I could give you all some thoughts on how to stay organized at Vanguard?
1. Get a planner. Or use your phone. But regardless, just commit to it. Put everything there. Homework assignments, visits home, etc. If you’re an Apple person (points for you!), sync everything. Your schedule will be on all of your electronics, and you’ll never have to be like “totally forgot about that paper…thing…for that…one class…”

2. Don’t wing it. This is really the hardest thing for me. I’ll be in class, and the professor assigns something, and mentally, I just decide that “I’ll get it done.” I have found that I’m a liar, because I never get it done.

3. Build a bridge and get over it. If you let one missed assignment consume all of your attention and energy, chances are you’ll probably miss the next one.

I guess this quickly became a preachy-sort of post. But after more than three years, I suppose it’s natural to want to start to dishing out advice.
Speaking of dishes, which is making me think of cups, which is making me think of coffee, I can happily announce that the pumpkin spice latte is once again a very, very important part of my life. We are happy together, even if our friendship is destined to be short-lived.


Of Communion and Community

Most Christians think of communion as a sort of religious ceremony or act of remembrance but the word communion actually means things like “association, partnership, fellowship, participation, the act of sharing or holding in common, etc.” The Christian community started using the word communion for the act of taking bread and juice or bread and wine simply because it was an act that signified that we are all of one body in Jesus. And it still signifies this today.

Lately I’ve been asking myself what is community? Community is a large part of everything we do at Vanguard, and last year  the idea of having a floor community was something that was paramount to my life as an RA. I spent an entire school year living with, meeting with, and seeking to develop close relationships with 30 guys that were mostly new to Vanguard. And the sense that I needed community that was being formed in me over the last few years was finally firmly established last year. But still the question that remains for me this year is what is community really?  And the answer for me came from the apartment I’m living in.

This year I live in a three bedroom apartment with 5 other guys (my mom calls it the man colony). We are all working, sharing a kitchen and bathrooms, and still figuring out what it means to live together. I think that is what a community is all about. I am not Webster, but I would define a true community as a group of people committed to “doing life together”. Through the highs and the lows. Through the good and the bad. Whether cleaning toilets or figuring out apartment parking schedules. Community is all about doing life together and loving each other in the process, whether that be for a school year or a lifetime.

Here’s a picture of our classy “man cave”:

I went to a Josh Garrels concert last Monday and one of my favorite songs by him is titled “Bread and Wine”. It is based off of the act of communion.  Before playing the song he described it as his song about how “we need people”, and I think that’s true. I think it’s one of the most fundamental needs of humanity.  And I am so thankful that as I am coming out of my large floor and RA community in Huntington Hall, that I have the privilege of living with the people I do. I am so thankful that they too are intent upon living life together. They too want to “share some bread and wine.”

If you’d like to check out the Josh Garrels song, “Bread and Wine”, here it is!