Tears for Bryan College

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“A college is no more about the building than a church, a business, or a home. It is always, always about the people.”
Recently there has been considerable turmoil at my alma mater, Bryan College. Without going into too many details (especially since I am not privy to many), the gist of it is that current faculty are now required to sign a “clarification” in the statement of belief with regard to their adherence to a literal, six day creation. Some professors who have been tenured are now either being asked to step down, or they are deciding to leave because of all the upheaval. No matter your stance on the first few chapters of Genesis, the hurt and frustration with most involved is, seemingly, due to the way in which the matter was handled. This tiny university is engulfed in a civil war, and the casualties are many. 
As some of you know, I live on the island of Guam, far away from the hills of southeastern Tennessee. But Bryan College is not only in the sleepy town of Dayton, Tennessee. It is in my heart and the hearts of many who scurried around its campus. 
People are saying lots of things, even things about Bryan not being able to survive this current problem. As I read the various comments and statistics, I was surprised by how I mourned. After all, it is just a school…right? But no amount of attempts to rationalize have stopped this grief.
It saddens me to think that some may not have the chance to get a quality education with a Biblical worldview. It saddens me that I may not be able to finagle my own (Lord-willing) future children to go there. But mostly, it saddens me because no matter what happens, the Bryan College I knew has, in many respects, died. Due to recent “developments,” the school is marred and much different from the campus I knew and loved just a few years ago.
One of my closest friends from Bryan said that although she is sad for the school, she does not like to think of her college days as her “golden days.” She wants to believe that her best days are ahead of her. And she is right! Marrying my love and one day holding my babies was and will be the most glorious moment(s) of my life. 
However, there will never be anything like the college days. From late-night shenanigans to camping out in the library, from loud soccer games to meeting with professors, and from the adventure that is MLK Day to outlandish banquet invites (once there was a sign held up by balloons that ascended to my third floor window, people!), there will never be another time like it. It was, truly, wonderful. 
I hoped that I could one day take my husband and visit Bryan, again…take a peek in Mercer, smile as familiar professors bustle past me, smell books, sneak a kiss in the Grassy Bowl. The recent happenings tell me that I may not get to do that, at least not in the same way. Many of the defining professors and faculty are gone. I certainly hope to visit again, no matter what! But it will be different. 
There are many aspects about the current state of Bryan College of which I am unaware. I am not seeking to add another log to the blistering fire of emotions, but merely to note that my time at Bryan College was beautiful and empowering, both spiritually and academically. And I hope it will always be that way for others. 
Things change. We mourn. We move. This is life. And a piece of us dies inside. But what will continue to live on are the lessons I learned and the memories I made while being a Bryan Lion. I was given the hope that I could love Jesus and be a life-long learner, that the very essence of loving Jesus means using my mind for Him, that all truth is from God, that there is no secular and sacred divide, and that my mind and spirit do not have to be in conflict. These are nuggets that my fellow classmates and I took but also laughed off as campus clichés. How blessed we were. And beyond that, I was given the highest of caliber friends with whom to share life, both during college and after it, and professors who spoke into my life with their words and examples.
Like any other institution, Bryan College is only as good as the people running it. A college is no more about the building than a church, a business, or a home. It is always, always about the people. And for the people of Bryan College, I am (and always will be) thankful. If given the chance, I would never choose to attend a different school, and I will continue to pray for this very special place whose motto continues to be “Christ Above All.”
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

Weekend Wonders: Photos of Serendipities: Puppies and Pie

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“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.

~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: 
A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

What is better than a puppy on your lap and a piece of pie in your belly? These are gifts from our gracious Lord, for sure. What little beauties did you notice this weekend?

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

Forever Old at Heart

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Have you ever felt out of place? Perhaps it was a party. Perhaps it was a conversation. Perhaps it was you clothes. I feel out of place, quite frequently, in this century. I have spent most of my life doting over days of yore. As a little girl I never ceased to play “pioneer.” When a teenager, I yearned to wear my hair in perfect curls with a 1940s hat pinned on top and a hankie from my beau tucked safely away in my little handbag. 

The music, the clothes, the etiquette, and the honor–so much entices me about decades of the past. It seems that in the days of my grandmothers, “everyone” went to church and held similar principles. Things were simple…or at least simpler. 

But as I have dug deeper into conversations with those of my desired decades, I have learned that things were far from perfect, just more hidden. However, it was a time when people were less selfish and self-promoting. They were not constantly posting pictures of themselves (taken by themselves) and being their own glorified cheerleaders. They were going to war. They were raising families. They were growing up. And they knew life was not about them. 



And perhaps that is the main thing. In a world that is continually focusing on what WE want, who WE are, how WE will yell the loudest and the proudest, there is a chance to look beyond such a narrow existence. 

The reason for living is to praise God, not myself. And while I will always delight in antiques, retro styles, and old traditions, I live in the twenty-first century, and I consider it a fabulous challenge. 

There are wars. There are people sucked into their tech gadgets. There is confusion over what it means to be human. But there is also (as always) Hope. 

So let’s dance to this music of life, whether it be a waltz in a hoop skirt or some hip-hop in sweatpants.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann


Credits:
picture 1: “Rosie the Riveter Goes to War” from envisioningtheamericandream.com
picture 2: free clip art from Google Images

Moderation: Confessions of a Secret Foodie

Christian, Christian women, dieting, health, Jesus

Do you know what makes me flap-my-flippers-like-a-seal in excitement? Donuts–the plain, glazed kind. Add a fresh cup of coffee, and I am in wonderland. 
There are so many tasty treats and so many types of delightful cuisine. I try to be healthy, and sometimes even get teased about “eating like a bird” or “dieting”, but the truth is…I love food. 
A few of my best friends are the types of people who forget to eat. This baffles me. Forgetting to eat has never happened to me. I do not forget. But with my short frame, a few pounds here and there seem to add up quickly, so I try to keep it under control. It has been the struggle of my life. 
Around the time of college it was at its worst. Although I was never emaciated and actually looked really good and healthy on the outside, I was not healthy on the inside. My mind was obsessed with being thin.
Thankfully I moved on from that, but then due to a particular stress in my life after college, I began to binge eat, cereal being my food of choice. And I would tell myself I would start a super intense diet…the next day. I was trying to fill the deep hole of sadness and loneliness, but overeating only made me feel more insecure and full of guilt. 
The problem? I was looking to food for comfort–just like others might look to drugs, alcohol, or sex. Sure, I was never obese, but I was miserable, and my heart was so very, very heavy. I avoided going out places, and I was jealous of my friends who were thinner than me.
Food makes a horrible god. And after having struggled for a little over a year with on-and-off binge eating, I just got tired. I fasted, prayed, and decided to be at peace with who I was at that moment, not looking to fad diets that promised quick results. 
Shortly after this calm resolution, I met my (future) husband, and we eventually talked about food, dieting, and moderation. The Lord used him to steady my heart and remind me that eating healthily is a day-by-day process, treats are okay, and beating myself up over a few pounds is just plain stupid.
Good food is a gift from God, but when we turn it into an idol, it will (like all idols) become a devastation. Do I still struggle with this? Yes. And my guess is that I will continue to struggle at various times throughout my life. But I know that there is victory in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. HE is my Bread of Life. And whether I am thin, overweight, or somewhere in between, the point is that live for HIM, not for my waistline.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 
1 Corinthians 10:31

Hush Up: Let’s Talk about Gossip

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“Words can never hurt me” is the end of a most ludicrous phrase. As we know, words can certainly be like sticks and stones, and they can also be like logs and boulders, not only leaving scratches and bruises, but crushing our very existence. 
I have been reading a book by Sharon Jaynes, The Power of a Woman’s Words. At first I was a little bored with her antidotes and cutesy stories, but as I continued on, the power of her words, or rather God’s truth in her words solidified something that has been churning in my heart: “The words that escape our lips reveal the condition of [our] inner man…the lips are the crack from which the condition of the heart seeps.”
I am a woman. I like to talk. And I like to talk about people. It is fun to learn about what is happening in someone’s life, or relive a funny story. And many times it is harmless and fun. But far too often such conversations lead to gossip, back-biting, and needless airing of someone else’s very private laundry. And that black pit called our “sin nature” seems to puff up like a giant ballon in our chests, pressuring us for more, more! We want more!
No matter how many “bless-her-hearts” we add, “tisk-tisk” facial expressions, or “we-need-to-pray-for hers”, the truth remains that instead of sowing seeds of hope, we sowed seeds of slander. 
In an article entitled “Gossip”, author and frontier woman Laura Ingalls Wilder writes that gossiping is like tossing seeds of unruly weeds, rooting needless contempt about someone in the mind of the hearer. She says, “And so we say harmful things carelessly…and the breeze of idle chatter from many tongues picks them up, blows them here and there, and scatters them to the four corners of the earth. What a crop of thistles they raise!”
“Downton Abbey” is a popular BBC television series that depicts an earl’s family during the transitions of the early twentieth century. Grand splendor, darling accents, and witty lines charm the audience, but it is the relationships between the characters that keeps us watching with baited breath. What will happen next? 
I believe that an understated charm of this series is a vivid picture of true friendship shown between the eldest daughter, Lady Mary Crawley, and her lady’s maid, Anna Smith. It is not a let’s-go-out-and-party friendship.  It is a stoic and tangible friendship of trust, of being the bearer of secrets, of being the carrier of burdens. Lady Mary had a dastardly secret that would have ruined her reputation and the reputation of her family, but Anna kept her secret safe. A moment of alleged glory from being “in the know” is hardly worth sacrificing the trust of a friend.
This does not mean that we sweep someone’s “dirt” under a rug until it becomes a mountain, for some issues do need to be addressed, and some people do need to be confronted. But after those things have been done, do we need to bring it up again with others? What good will it accomplish? Yes, we say we want to “get if off our chests”, but then we put in on others, and continue sowing seeds that grow and begin to shape others’ perceptions of the person up for conversation…or is it served up for dinner? Mmm, how juicy. 
Be that person with whom others feel safe to leave the room and not worry about being the next verbal victim. 
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” James 1:26
*Top picture from Google Images