"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:8

Sunday, March 4, 2012

An Unforgettable Weekend

"The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer...it is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden underfoot by those who have the gift every day... among earnest Christians in the church today is a growing desire to meet together with other Christians in the rest periods of their work for common life under the Word. Communal life is again being recognized by Christians today as the grace that it is, as the extraordinary, as the 'lilies and roses' of the Christian life." 
                                                                                ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

         I was blessed to experience that in a very real way in late January. Though I haven't spent much time blogging about it, I've almost completed my degree through CollegePlus!, an accelerated distance learning program. Though such a route is not for everyone, I've loved earning my degree debt-free and moving through it more quickly than if I had attended a brick-and-mortar college. I've also loved being able to live at home with my family, remain active in my church and community, and travel through the school year. CollegePlus! is not a way to get off easy--beyond doubt, it's hard work, but it has also proven to be rewarding. 

          One blessing I didn't expect to receive from College Plus was friendship. I expected the road to be a bit lonely, but how wrong I was! In the last couple of years, I've gained some of the richest and deepest friendships I've yet experienced. Though I met these friends online (*gasp* yes it's true!), I've met quite a few of them in the last year and a half, and in January I got to spend a whole weekend with them in California! 

        It's hard to sum up the deep conversations, side-aching laughter, inside jokes, awesome games of Ultimate Frisbee, "hymn fests", and wonderful fellowship that went on that weekend in anything less than a book. So I'll try sticking a few lot of pictures in here, and add a bit of commentary so you can get a taste! (Quite a bit of the photo credit goes to friends who took more pictures than I did!)

I love traveling with my favorite twin. :) We flew right over the Grand Canyon, which was absolutely breath-taking and a great reminder of God's great power in creation. {Credit: Katie}

We had great friends join us as travel partners: Katie (pictured left), Kali, and Eric (not pictured.) Since Eric and Kali hail from the far east coast (which might as well be another country for us Midwesterners), it was an extra blessing that we got to spend the extra time with them. {Credit: Katie}

Almost there! Riding to our host's house in a 15 passenger. L to R: Beth, India, Kali, and yours truly. {Credit: Katie}

One of the people I was most excited about seeing (though I loved seeing everyone!) was my dear cousin, Amanda. We're only 15 days apart, and she's an incredibly godly and precious friend. {Credit: India}

Mr. Cover graciously spent time sharing with us wisdom gleaned from God's word: much of what he talked about was about our life purpose, which of course is a subject of keen interest to college students! These sessions were some of my favorite times that weekend. Also, many thanks are due to our gracious hosts who worked so hard to make the weekend possible. {Credit: S. Cover}

We also spent a lot of time singing hymns and praise songs; not because we were forced to, but because it was a genuine joy to sing the praises of our King together. One thing I really appreciated about the gathering was the Christlike fellowship: our interaction was pure clean fun, without the flirting or drinking expected of college parties. This wasn't because of legalism, but because our Savior Jesus has taken away our desires for such things and taught us to love and serve Him.

Other activities included skits... {Credit: Amanda}
"IT'S A BOY!!!" If you're wondering what this was about, try reading 1 Samuel 1. {Credit: Amanda}
Church, and a fellowship meal afterwards. {Credit: Amanda}

We're mature. Really.
We also enjoyed quite a few Ultimate games; some card and board games; cooking and cleaning up together; way too little sleep and way too much coffee; Skittles (a College Plus favorite); early morning walks; and good conversations over meals. {Credit: Amanda}
Oh and we laughed...{credit: Amanda}

a lot. {credit: Amanda}

John and I have known the Nisus (the brother and sister on the left) for more than eleven years now! So we were thrilled when Andrew joined College Plus this past summer and our long-time friends quickly came to know our newer College Plus friends.
We enjoyed the time with newer friends as well. 
I was surprised and thrilled to find Beka at the gathering! Although a fairly new friend, Beka feels like a sister already: a joyful, smiley, wise, Jesus-loving sister!
If Beka is like a little sister, then Hannah is my wonderful older sister. I've known her for nearly three years now, and enjoyed everything from side-splitting laughs, to late nights camping in the back of a van (long story), to deep conversations about the Jesus we both love. 
India wins the prize for "world's most gorgeous hair" for sure! Annnd, to top it off she has a great sense of humor and knows how to keep Katie on her toes.
God somehow took people from different backgrounds from all over the country and knit our hearts together in Him. 
Told ya this was a lot of pictures. Bear with me, I'm almost done! And yes, the above is captured evidence of A. Nisius' "naughty" laugh. 
What can we say? 
Too little sleep can do funny things to a person.
See what I mean?

The Bethanys and me.

Beka and Katie
It was very hard to say goodbye, but God has given each of us a special place to serve Him: we are not Home yet. 
I'm so grateful for the time I got to spend with these great friends! 

Wow that was long. If you made it this far, thanks for your patience. Ha!


  1. crying again missing you.....I loved being able to see some more of the pics, thanks for that!!


  2. Great post, Lissie! I loved reading it and looking through some of the pictures again. It was a wonderful time! :)

  3. I agree with Kali...I'm definitely sniffling again! What a wonderful time! Thanks for writing this Lissie! :)

  4. Can't wait until I get the chance to meet you this spring! amazingly, I had the same thought when I started with CollegePlus...I assumed it would be isolating and lonely, but instead I've met some amazing friends :)