Treasure

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:17

This is a pretty common verse from a very common book in the bible. These words are usually used to refer to the need to replace our desire for earthly material goods with a desire for heaven. And rightly so. The preceeding lines of Matthew talk about earthly treasures that moths and rust cannot destroy. It is good for us to read this verse in that light. It causes me to reexamine my attitude towards my possesions. It is so easy in this world to get caught up in wanting more and more material things. But, here we are being told that these things don’t last. Yes, I get it.

But today I read this passage in a different light. Not only does Christ want us to stop putting our value into the material goods of this world, but he also wants us to stop placing our treasure in the other “things” of this world. Humans idolize so many non-material things that are only of this earth. It is a little harder to come to terms with this verse in this light because we may not be as aware that we are affected by these things in this way. We invest our time and our treasure into earthly things like academic/career success, social status, and life accomplishments.  Now, these things aren’t bad in themselves, but if we place our treasure there, that is where our heart will be. And those things don’t last. You have to leave those things here when you go.

So, pray with me today. Pray that the Lord may show you where you have placed your treasure. Pray that He help you to believe that you want your heart to be in Him. And pray for the assistance and the grace to start moving your treasure there.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:17

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The Bus Ride

This is another piece that I wrote for my travel writing class. We had to write 500 words on the bus ride on the way to Scotland. My piece turned out to be a little more philisophical than I intended. Here it is:

The Bus Ride

As I look out the window, the world streams by. Things are passing quickly, but not too fast. At least not as fast as on the last two methods of transportation I have taken—trains and planes. The world is green and grey today: grey roads, green trees, grey sky, green grass, grey stone, green crops, grey rain. Riding on a bus can be extremely boring, but also therapeutic because it gives the mind a chance to just think without doing anything else. As I look out, I am struck by the feeling that this landscape looks like home. Now, I know that I am definitely not back in Minnesota. The bus is driving on the left side of the road, we have driven through more roundabouts than traffic lights, and the names of the roads and towns are distinctly British. But when I look beyond that, I am sitting on a bus going down the freeway, watching green fields and trees go by, and I could be home. Which causes me to start thinking: Is England more different from Minnesota, or is it more the same? What a question. In its more general form, are humans and the places we live more similar or more different?

We tend to focus on the differences: the languages, the clothing, the currency, the measurement systems, and the food. We love to talk about diversity and uniqueness. But there is more to the world than that. At our most fundamental level, we are just humans—just people living on this earth. As I peer out the window, I catch glances of the people in the passing cars. I see a family piled in with an infant in the back seat. In the next car I see a man driving to work by himself. In a third I see a lone elderly couple. They are all living their lives, trying to make the best of things, support themselves, and be happy. The way they go about things may be different and in no way do I want to undermine the distinct ways that people live their lives, but we are fundamentally all humans trying to figure things out. I look out the window again. There’s just more of the same. But that’s not a bad thing, I think. It gives me more time to think after a week of being busy. I let myself fall back into the philosophical discussion I am having with myself. I am no closer to a conclusion than I was when this bus ride started.  So, I’ll now pose the question to you, my readers, because although I have attempted to answer it, I by no means came to a conclusion. Are people and places more similar or more different?

So I’m actually at summer SCHOOL

It took a few days for the fact that I am actually at school to really sink in. The first week mostly felt like I was on vacation. But now, with only a few days until finals, school is something I can’t escape. I am taking a little break, though, so that I can tell you a bit about the British education system. Actually, I should say, the Cambridge educational system. Cambridge is a unique school, so the way they do things is not exactly like the rest of England’s universities.

There is a lot less instructional time at Cambridge than there is at US universities. This isn’t as evident during summer school because everything is so condensed, but during the year, when US students may have 45 or more hours of lecture for a semester class, Cambridge students have only 16. They are expected to do most of their learning outside the classroom through reading and writing essays. Which brings me to another point: Cambridge students do a lot of essay writing. The main form of assessment here is writing essays, whether they be typed and handed in or writen on the spot as an exam. In general, the only things that determine a student’s grade is their essays. For my courses, the final grade is based on one 2500-3000 word research essay, and an essay exam that consists of writing two hour-long essays with citations. I am a little nervous for the essay exam. I haven’t written a timed essay in a long time and these need to have citations. Also, it seems like the University here has a lot more control over assessments than the instructors do. In the US professors can choose how they want to test their students, but here, every class has these essays (as far as I can tell.)

The one other big difference in classes here is the way they figure out the grades. In American schools, students start the semester with a score of 100% and as they go through the semester, points are taken off for things that they get wrong. In the British system, students start with a score of 40 and they earn points as they do things right. I would be curious to see if this gives British students a different perspective on grades. If I find someone to ask, I’ll report back (most of the British students are home for the summer, so I haven’t met very many.)

So, those are the two main differences that I have found so far between the American and the Cambridge classes.  And now, back to studying.

Trust

So I know that the sub-title of this blog is “thoughts on life, travel, food, and faith.” I have blogged about all those things except tor one: faith. Now, I will admit that I struggle to write about my faith. Not because I don’t want to share it, but because I don’t know how to share. I often think I don’t have the words to share my faith. But I need to trust that he Lord will give me he words to write. I need to trust that the Lord will give me the words to touch hearts. Trust. I need to trust Him.

Trust has been a big part of my journey here. This trip has given me incredible opportunities to trust in the Lord. From the little things, like getting here safely, to big things, like trusting that He has a plan for my life, He is calling me to trust that He will take care of me. I can not do everything myself. I can not plan for every possible circumstance or prepare for every path that my life will take. I have to trust that he will be there every step of the way to guide me.

I can do all things in him who strenghens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Straight from the Bible, the Lord tells us we can do anything if we trust in Him and work through Him. I think this verse can easily be interpreted to mean that we can anything we set our mind to, but look at the end of the verse at the most important part:

I can do all things in him who strenthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

We need Him. We need to place our trust in Him. And he will give us the strengh to do whatever he calls us to do.

Moving to a new country has not been easy. There are the glamorous parts, like traveling to London on the weekends and getting to see another part of the world, the work parts, like going to class and writing papers, and there are the hard parts, like being away from my family, friends, and community and trying to find where I fit in at a place where I don’t know anyone. But the Lord has been right here with me the whole time and this has give me the opportunity to reach out to Him and to tell him:

I trust You.

The First Day

These photos are kind of old. I took them on the first day that I was in Cambridge. They are a glimpse into the awe that I felt on upon entering these rooms and seeing these buildings for the first time. A more clear and comprehensive tour of Cambridge will be coming soon, but for now, here is what I saw when I first got here.

King’s College Great Hall. This is where we had our first meal. It’s rumored that they almost filmed Harry Potter here, but the college wouldn’t let them.

I went for a walk along the Cam (the river.)

King’s College from a distance.