Cheesy title, I know. But its true! Change is coming and tons of it.

This semester, this year really, has flown by. I feel like I just got back from interterm and now I find myself having eaten some french toast at study break and sitting at my desk reviewing notes. Finals are here, and I’m driving home in less than 4 days. Crazy!

I’ve learned so much this semester, took Inductive Bible Study, Soccer, CE of Children, Theology 1, ASL 2, and Foundations of Ministry. Each were amazing!! Theology with Dr. Thoennes was amazing, challenging, transforming, and I’m so excited to be a better theology. CE of Children with Jane Carr was so fun, and life changing as well.

I always thought I was going to be a teacher, and even as a CE major, I thought I was supposed to be an elementary school teacher. But I’m discovering that God’s plans may be bigger than that! In CE of children, we learened a lot about God’s design for the spiritual formation of children: parents are to be the primary spiritual nurturers of their children. Yet the majority don’t value their role or feel inadequate in it and therefore abdicate this responsibility to the church. The church with its over programmed tendency hasn’t turned around to equip parents and encourage them in their roles either. Change must happen and many churches are doing so through the family ministry approach to ministry.

And I am so excited about family ministries!! I can’t go into detail right now about what family ministry might look like because that could take a whole research paper’s amount of space and time, plus I need to get back at some point to my studying ( but check out North Point Community Church in Georgia or Rock Harbor’s family ministry for awesome examples of family ministry.)

I’ve alwas known that I am PASSIONATE about families. I love mine more than anything on this earth, and I truly look forward to the day I get to be a wife and mother to my own family. And I love other families, and love to see families worshipping together, and enjoying family fellowship. The broken families all across our country and in our neighborhoods breaks my heart. But I thought this passion for families just meant I’d teach children, and have a family of my own. Maybe God gave me this passion to turn around and use it to serve other families! I don’t know exactly what that would look like, but it seems like He may be taking me that direction! And I will follow where He leads.

So as He has led me… I will be working at Mount Hermon Christian camps this summer! I will be at the conference center for family camp, counseling elementary school kids at day camp. I’m so excited for this opportunity to serve kids and their families, getting to be a part of this unique ministry that builds up families, and at the same time being a part of a summer staff family! We’ll be counseling during the day and evening, doing other jobs during the day/having time off, living in dorms at camp, hanging out as a staff… I’m beyond excited.

After the summer ends, I will have a couple of weeks before my next big adventure. Early September I will be moving to Colorado Springs for a semester at the Focus on the Family Institute. I have the privlege of being part of their college semester “abroad” program where I will be taking classes focusing on families, marriage, church, society, and leadership, as well as interning at Focus on the Family or a local church. This is a leadership program I applied to back in early January and I am so honored to have been selected as one of the 88 students. This will certaintly be an adventure for me, jumping out of the “Biola Bubble” and into a different academic and living setting. I am confident though that God is going to teach me and mold me there in unique ways. I am so thankful for this opportunity.

So all that, plus a vacation to Kauai with the fam the 2 weeks before camp : ), thats my life coming up! Busy busy, but I am so excited for where God’s taking me. He has provided so abundantly and amazingly, I can’t wait to see what He has in store. Unforunately these changes mean that I had to say goodbye to my high school core group girls, but I definitely want to continue to be a part of their lives when I return. Just needed to allow them the chance to get another leader, as well as letting me be open for internship opportunities when I get back from Colorado. We had a fun pool party/end of the year party and it was a great time to thank them all and leave on a good note. It was very encouraging to see that God has used me this year even when I felt discourged in it. God is always good.

So thats that! Studying, last minute disneyland trips, packing, and goodbyes. Bittersweet time right now. Leaving behind some great friendships and my amazing roommate whom I will miss immensely. And its hard to realize that life as it is right now won’t ever happen again. Friends are getting married, friends are moving dorms, roommates are changing, myself and others will be studying abroad next semester. But even though change isn’t always easy, it can be SO good. Half way done with college, only 3 more semesters at Biola. What a unique time of life this is. I want to soak up every ounce of it.

I apologize for the huge gaps in posts. Like I said, I’m no pro at this. But needless to say, I’m long overdue for a post.

So the end of the semester came out of no where and I found myself juggling all that came with it. Between final projects, papers, and presentations, church activities, Christmas parties galore, tutoring, and the never ending extras that popped out of no where…I was running full speed ahead. Thankfully, the Lord was merciful and some how, everything came together just fine!

In my high school ministry, we got to enjoy a staff Christmas party, a freshman staff photo shoot, our freshman class Christmas party, and my core group Christmas party. A newbie to high school ministry, throwing my core group party was something out of my element. I’m still figuring out how to be the best leader I can be, and I feel like I’m never doing enough despite my efforts. But God handled it once again and the girls had a blast.

Finals came and went alright and I am so thankful that I actually passed my geology final and somehow managed a B+! No doubt another example of God’s mercy on me. So after packing up and saying goodbye, I hit the road with a couple new friends/riding buddies and came back to the bay area the weekend before Christmas.

Before I knew it, my favorite day of the year was here. I love Christmas. Just ask my roommate and she’ll assure you that by the first day back on campus after Thanksgiving, I was in full Christmas mode. Our stockings were hung on our door, garlands hung from the bed and around the doorframe, colored lights outlined the window and the lofted bed, and Josh Groban’s Noel album was playing every couple of hours.

So being home with the Christmas tree decorated and lit, the house trimmed with icicles, and my house constantly smelling like hot spide cider and Christmas cookies, I was extremely happy to celebrate. And we did. On Christmas eve eve, we joined our life long friends and went to a beautiful traditional service at our old church, Menlo Park Presbyterian. The service was an amazing production with their special guest, the pipe player from Titanic and Braveheart. But the greatest part was about what we were celebrating: our Savior’s birth.

After Christmas, my family visited my mom’s side of the family in Bakersfield. It was great to spend time with them all, and we celebrated my papa’s 80th birthday. We played games, watched football on New Years day (well not exactly we… I was reading Twilight), ate amazing food, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

Since then, I’ve been back in Pleasanton, reading,  walking the dog, and hanging out with my family. I’ve also had time to be filling out applications. First I have been working on an application for summer employment at Mount Hermon Christian Camps. I’ve always wanted to work there, and I feel like this summer may be the time! I am applying for either counseling at the family camp for the kids day camp, or working at Redwood Camp to be a counselor for the kids there. My other application I’ve been working on is for the Focus on the Family Insitute for next fall. The Institute is a unique off campus study program in Colorado Springs. They except 88 students every semester for their program about family, marriage, and children, within a Christian worldview. Academically, the program would be an amazing way to fulfill my Christian Education specialization. But more than that, the program would be an amazing opportunity to learn things that I’m passionate about, and live in a community of like minded individuals, being sharpened and challenged as I learn and grow.

So surprisingly, those activities have kept me fairly busy this break and the time is flying by until I go back to Biola. I actually thought I would be going back next week to counsel at winter camp with my high school group, but it turns out none of my core group signed up, so I’m not actually needed. Which brings me to something I’ve been mulling over for a while. I don’t doubt that God had and still does have a purpose for me in this ministry with these girls, but it certainly has been challenging for me. Most Wednesday nights when we meet in our core groups, I have 1 out of the 8 that shows up. They aren’t very interested in being involved, and becoming a part of their lives and their Christian walks hasn’t been happening like I’d hoped. But I chose to trust God despite the apparent outcomes and I’m continuing to do that. Even if I don’t feel like I’m making much of an impact, I will continue to pray for these girls and be available to them throughout this year.

But as for the future, I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. As I started out this semester, I knew that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with  my life. I knew that I have a passion for children, families, teaching, and ministry, and I know that CEM is the major for me. But where I’ll complete my interships and where I’ll head after Biola? It was a mystery to me. But I feel like God is again leading my heart and mind and I’m excited about the possibilites.

When I switched from elementary ed to CE, I still had this desire to teach, but I was exploring my calling to ministry. And I finally feel like God has cleared it up some. I still want to be an elementary school teacher. It’s a desire God gave me way back in my childhood, and I still hold it today. And I wholeheartedly believe that members of the church should serve one another in love, so I will also volunteer in some form of ministry in my church.

I always find if funny how as Christian Education majors, we are always asked if that means we’ll be teachers in Christian schools, but most CE majors don’t want to. I am a minority within the major. I do want to be a teacher! So am I abandoning the intent of my major (which is switching it’s name to Christian Ministries because it better reflects the program)? No. That’s the beauty of CE! It’s a “life major” and it is teaching me skills and about how to work with and reach people- something I will use wherever God takes me.

So Lord willing, I will finish out this year in my high school ministry, work in a camping ministry this summer with children, spend next fall at the Focus on the Family Institue, begin internships in either a children’s ministry or elementary setting, graduate Biola in 2011, then puruse my elementary education teaching credential. I may move to Bakersfield and live with my family there (until I get on my feet) and get my credential from CSU Bakersfield, then look for a teaching position!

I’ve always been a planner and I know that I really don’t know what’s going to happen for sure. But I’m excited about how I feel God is revealing things to me! I’ll continue to seek His will, and I’m confident He’ll lead me in the right direction.

I cannot believe how fast this month has flown by. In just 6 days I will officially be able to listen to all my Christmas music without guilt, decorate my dorm, watch Elf, White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and all the other favorites. It’s truly unbelievable how fast this month has flown by and how quickly Christmas (and finals! eek) are approaching.

But before diving into the Christmas season and celebrating the birth of our Savior, another favorite holiday is just days away. Thanksgiving. I live such a blessed life, I have so much to be thankful for.

For my family, I’m thankful for each of them and the love we share. For Biola- for my amazing roommate, my floor of friends, my caring professors, the opportunity for this Biblically centered education, my ministry and each girl in my core group… I could go on and on.

I don’t want to skip over Thanksgiving and jump right into Christmas. Tomorrow, I get to go home for a week to spend time with my family and thank God for the life he’s given me.

This past Friday and Saturday I got to go on a retreat with the high school staff from EvFree Fullerton. Our pastor and his wife, all the class leads and spouses, the class mentor couples, and many of the core group leaders (which is what I am.)

They took us to Dana Point where we got to stay in an Inn right there on the Harbor, looking out at all the boats and the ocean beyond. We relaxed and hung out and I loved getting to know the other staff members. God has definitely put together and amazing group and I feel blessed to be a part of it. They prepared delicious meals for us and we enjoyed worship, teaching, fellowship, and fun together. In our meetings, we dove into the passage Psalm 23 about how the Lord is our shephard and we can be shephards to the students. It wasn encouraging reminder that God can use us to make such an impact on our students. Loving them and shepharding them is our purpose. All in all, it was a wonderful little break from the academic world and such a blessing to get to know the staff that I get to work with. This is definitely an amazing opportunity.

This past week was Biola’s annual Torrey Memorial Bible Conference. They cancel classes so we can attend sessions held by amazing speakers. This year we’ll heard from several amazing Christian leaders on the subject of “Sex and the Soul”. The session topics covered things like sexual desire and its place in our lives, homosexuality, dating and romance, and the heart. It was a great conference and a blessing to hear from these leaders.

Just a bit ago I got back to Biola having been in the Hollywood area since yesterday afternoon. My sister’s boyfriend is an actor and he’s been training at the Second City Comedy Training Center (it’s where many of the SNL people and Mike Meyers went). He performs sketch comedy every Friday night right now, so my sister came down to visit and we all went to see his show. It was so fun to get to hang out with both of them. His show, Sketch Offender Live, was hilarious! And today we hung out and went to Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills : ) It was all really fun.

I love how being down here at Biola, we’re not too far from such a variety of things. Just 15 minutes south is the happiest place on earth (…Disneyland of course) and then you’ve got Hollywood about 40 minutes north. I definitely love home in the SF bay area, but living down here is a fun adventure.

Geology rocks!

I got up before 8:00 AM this morning. Now this usually only happens on Sundays and the occasional rare day when I have early engagements. My first class today doesn’t start until 10:30. Now why on Earth am I up?

One word…Geology. Praise God for the wonderful complexity of the earth he created! But now I find myself chained to my desk, pouring over my notes and drafting study notes in a last minute attempt to cram these complex details into my mind, desperately hoping to scrape a good grade on my upcoming exam…which is about 9 and a half hours away.

The uniqueness of planet earth, minerals, igneous rocks and processes, volcanoes and volcanism, weathering, sedimentary processes, metamorphism, and geological time telling… oh boy. My brain and science do not usually get a long all that well. In fact, I’ve avoided taking above the bare minimum of math and science classes during all my years of school! But as part of my general education, to round myself as an academic individual, I need to take 8/9 units in math and science. Hence my current math and science classes, the Nature of Mathematics, and Geology.

But if I’m going to be honest here, the complexity of the subject and the nature of having a 3 hour class on Thursday nights (my last class before weekend freedom!)… their not really to blame for my lack of knowledge in the class. As I’m humbly discovering, sitting in class and listening to the lecture, taking extensive typed notes with bullets and lists galore, still doesn’t necessarily equate to understanding a subject. Probably if I had reviewed my notes after each class, compared them to the book, and asked dozens of questions for clarification, I wouldn’t be here writing this blog. I’d probably be sleeping.

But I didn’t take the time and effort, and now I’m reaping the consequences. Now all I can do is buckle down and harvest my best study habits and put them to use. Hopefully by 6:00 tonight, I’ll understand more of this wonderful world God created for us, and through his mercies, I’ll do alright on the exam.

Its funny to think that a mere 8 hours ago, I was care free! Yes I should have been studying then too, but I had allowed myself a good break after church to have dessert and watch a movie with my floor and our brother floor. It was really fun though and I don’t regret taking the time to do that. God has blessed me so much this year with such amazing girls on this floor, and this was my first time meeting our brother floor and they are all great guys! What an opportunity life is here at Biola. Christian community! The fellowship God had planned for us, the kind he desires for his church, we get a taste of that here and I just can’t get enough of it. Thank you Lord.

But right now I need to get back to that other opportunity.The opportunity to learn. My academics are a gift I do not take lightly (despite how this cramming may make it seem.) Being able to attend a prestigious Christian university and get a well rounded education, preparing me for the world and giving me tools and building blocks to be a well rounded and competent Christian… this is an opportunity too. Again, thank you Lord.

Wow so I guess I am officially part of the blogging world.

Well to whoever is reading this blog, I’m Lisa Richardson and I’m a sophomore Christian Education Ministries major at Biola. Before we head into where things are going in my life, I want to paint a bit of a backdrop for you per se.

I grew up in a mid-sized suburb called Pleasanton, in the San Francisco East Bay Area. Home is certainly where much of my heart is and probably always will be. I have a wonderful mom and dad, an older sister named Laura, and a Shetland Sheepdog named Lacy (who is no doubt a member of the family). Our family is really close and they have shaped much of who I am today. My sister is 3 years older than me but we often are mistaken as twins. My mom has always been a role model to me and I and I count her as my closest friend. We’re so alike in many ways! I am so thankful for who they are and the fact that God blessed me with them.

All my life I attended public schools. Although I got a great education and learned so much about life during those years, my dream of attending an authentic Christian university was a dream of mine early on in my high school years. Like many others, high school was not my favorite time in life and I craved Christian community and Christ centered relationships. When I visited Biola in my junior year, I knew right off the bat that this was God’s will for me.

Stepping on campus freshman year, I could not believe that I’d finally made it! The dream was becoming reality. And freshman year was fantastic! But certainly not without flaw. Having dreamed of my Christian community/college experience, I had set my year up to an unattainable standard. Honestly, although I was surrounded by wonderful Christians and fun and enriching opportunities left and right, some of my loneliest times were during that year.  But God taught me so much about trusting him and putting all of myself into him.

Just a couple of weeks into spring semester freshman year, I was sitting in chapel and I felt like God was telling me to think about Christian Education Ministries. Now up until that point, I had never doubted that my calling in life was to be a kindergarten teacher, which is why I had come in as an Elementary Education major. So the though about CEM was totally out of the blue. But as I thought more about it, talked to God about it, looked into what it was, I knew that I needed to switch! So on the last day to add classes, I jumped right on in and switched majors and switched from education classes to CEM classes.

And God has just shown me more and more about his plans for me! I want to serve him and he’s shown me that he can use me in ministry! So even though I had no idea what I was doing in CEM from the start, he reminded me to trust him so I did.

And here I am in my sophomore year, a couple of months into the semester, and I couldn’t be more excited about where I am and what God has been doing in me. I had been praying and praying that God would establish me in the Biola community so I could have the Christian relationships I craved and knew I needed… and he was so faithful! My roommate and I are still together and we live on an amazing floor of young women on fire for Christ!

Another new thing this year is that I’m involved in ministry. I’ve attended EvFree Fullerton church while here at Biola and I love this church. And this year I applied for and was placed as a core group leader in the high school ministry. I have an amazing group of 8 freshman girls who I get to study God’s word with, encourage, and just walk life with! I hope that God will use me in their lives this year, but I already know that he’s going to use them in mine! Man, God is so good.

And then being on UGAB is awesome too. I’ve never considered myself as a leader, I’ve tended to be a bit of a wallflower. But God has shown me that he can do so much more with me if I allow him to use me!

That’s pretty much the theme of my life right now. I’ve been learning to trust God completely, offer all of myself to him, and he’s been showing me his faithfulness.

I want to leave you with the chorus of  “Living for Your Glory” sung by Tim Hughes. This has been my prayer.

“Take my life, let it be everything, all of me. Here I am. Use me for your glory. In everything I say and do, let my life honor you. Here I am living for your glory.”