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Sharing My Space

SHARING MY SPACE

In August of 2018 I moved into a tiny studio apartment above a garage in little Wilmore, Kentucky. At about 450 square feet, the space is noticeably small but it’s also cozy and plenty big enough for me and my cat, Jackson. This is the first place I’ve lived entirely on my own with no roommates and I took the opportunity to decorate and lay it out to my heart’s content. I love interior design and relished the idea of making this space exactly what I wanted (within a budget, of course).

Over the last couple of years I scoured thrift stores and clearance aisles for the perfect low-cost pieces of furniture and decor. Almost all of my furniture is second-hand, but I was able to take my time and find stylish pieces that work for me. Recently, I had the honor of sharing my little studio apartment with Apartment Therapy readers. I filled out their “House Tour” Submission form and was selected to be featured on the site!

My place isn’t perfect — there’s some clutter, some eyesores, and things I’d love to upgrade — but it’s mine and I’m very happy with the home I’ve made here (even if I do envy those with more space for books…)

You can see the whole apartment therapy article (complete with more photos) at the link below!

Click here to read the full Apartment Therapy House Call Feature!

Passing it on

PASSING IT ON

From the Spring 2017 edition of Asbury University’s Ambassador Magazine

During their freshman year at Asbury, Caleb ‘06 and Christy Lee ’06 Swaringen were strangers who found themselves working together in the Z.T. Johnson Cafeteria. “I worked the salad bar and she worked the sandwich bar,” Caleb said — the ultimate Asbury meet.

Christy & Caleb Swaringen Asbury University Alumni, ’06

A little more than 10 years have passed since their graduation, and the Swaringens are now married and living with their three children in Texas. Caleb teaches sixth-grade reading and writing at a charter school and Christy stays home with the kids while working as a freelance graphic designer.

Caleb and Christy say they were shepherded well while at Asbury. They were able to learn the importance of community while being mentored by the people around them. As alumni, the Swaringens are now interested in making that kind of transformative education possible for future Asburians.

For that reason, they continue to support Asbury through prayer, participation in Reunion, other alumni events and by giving financially. Last year, at their 10th Asbury Reunion, Caleb and Christy contributed to the Reunion Class Gift to help support current and future Asbury students.

“We are glad to give,” said Christy. “Any little thing that we are able to give back to Asbury pales in comparison to everything that it gave us — without a doubt.”

Among the gifts Asbury gave the Swaringens are lifelong friends — many of whom came back for last year’s Reunion. “My Asbury friends just get me,” said Christy. She mentioned that the bonds developed while at Asbury have become friendships that are truthful, loving and free of judgment. Though the years and distance make it difficult to remain in touch with every college friend, Christy described seeing these friends as “picking up where we left off.”

Christy and Caleb also credit their time at Asbury with laying the foundation for Christ-centered community. Christy and Caleb experienced community at Asbury in a way they hadn’t before — dorm life, praise nights, Bible studies and prayer events all played a formative role in cultivating that sense of community. “We can see pieces of our Asbury experience in our lives today,” said Christy.


Originally published in the Spring of 2017 in Asbury University’s Alumni publication, the Ambassador Magazine

Reverse

REVERSE

A creative non-fiction piece.

A creative non-fiction piece written as part of a class assignment.

My legs weren’t even long enough to reach the floor of Dad’s red Ford pickup truck. Four-year-old me sat strapped into the middle seat straddling the gearstick while the corduroy seats caressed my spindly legs. My cousin Whitney, younger than me by a year, napped in the passengers’ seat. Her long eyelashes rested on her coffee-colored cheeks and her beaded braids clicked against the car window as she stirred, dreaming.

Mom had borrowed Dad’s truck to run some errands. She was a stay-at-home mom who babysat on the side. On most days we had at least three other kids running around our little rented house, but on this particular day it was only Whit-Whit and me.

I imagine mom blustered through the house that morning—a frenzy of yellow cleaning gloves, the smell of Pine-Sol, and dish suds on her arms. She kept a clean house. After that, I’m sure there was a blur of helping silly little girls get dressed—jumpers buckled over shoulders and shoes velcroed over lace-socked feet.

After breakfast and playtime, she managed to wrangle us into the truck. The cassette deck played some Christian attempt at “contemporary” music styles and Mom hummed along. As we drove, Whitney waded through tiredness and tried to fight off the waves by batting her lashes. She was no match and soon, fell asleep.

Mom pulled into our pastor’s driveway. His family was set up to have a yard sale and mom wanted to stop by to show her support. She put the truck in park; we were on an incline so it rolled back a little before stopping. Mom, her hands still on the steering wheel, glanced over and saw Whitney’s velvet face, sweet in slumber. She looked at me and whispered, “I’ll only be a minute. Can you stay in here with Whit-Whit? I wouldn’t want her to wake up and be all by herself.” I nodded my head. “Be right back,” she smiled, leaving the keys in the ignition and the truck on.

Through the windshield, I watched Mom walk up the driveway as the smiling members of our church greeted her. It was like having my own private T.V. where I could peek into the grown-up world. At first, it was riveting—fascinating to see my mother talking with people other than Dad or the babysitting kids or myself. She was so poised, so confident.

Mom greeted everyone and then delved into conversation. I couldn’t hear what they were saying so my attention waned. I looked at Whitney again and saw how peaceful her nap looked. My eyes grew heavy watching her and I started trying to get comfortable in the cramped middle seat so I could sleep too.

I sprawled out and kicked my legs trying to find a comfy spot. That’s when it happened. Motion. I felt in my stomach first — the truck was rolling backward. I had knocked the gearstick into reverse.

From the omniscient artist’s perspective, my whole life was merely a smudge of red pick-up truck paint smearing down white paved canvas.

I saw my mother getting slowly smaller and further away. She didn’t notice that the truck was on the loose. In the rearview mirror, I saw the street, cars whizzing by, and the little white house across the street. At that moment I knew that the truck would keep rolling backward forever and I clung to fate like a good Catholic clings to her rosary beads in fervent prayer.

In my mind’s eye I saw the truck roll across the street, gain momentum, crash through the house, and keep hurling backward for miles and years.

I would never see my family again.               

I sat and let the truck—my life—roll backward, doing nothing to stop it or guide it, Whitney and I were fated to grow up on the open road, powerless to stop the vehicle or even redirect it. It must have only lasted a second, but I didn’t feel fearful—no, I had already resigned myself to fate.

It wasn’t until then that the grown-ups noticed what was happening. Everyone was wide-eyed, mouths open. My mother was frozen in fear—everyone was frozen except for the pastor’s son. He ran, opened up the drivers’ side door, and slammed the truck into park. We screeched to a stop where the driveway met the road.

After worrying over us and making sure all was well, Mom got back in the truck, buckled in, and, carefully, put the truck in reverse. Whitney woke up, unaware that anything at all had happened.

I told her about the truck, about our fate to roll forever backward, and about our salvation. She sniffed and went back to sleep. I sat in silent reverie.

Then the recurring dreams began. Me. Trapped. Rolling backward. Powerless to stop.

10 things Asbury’s brochure didn’t tell me about campus

10 THINGS ASBURY’S BROCHURE DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT CAMPUS

So many things in my life have changed since I first came to Asbury University in the fall of 2012. I have absorbed so much information from not only lectures and profs but also from the campus community culture. There are so many things I didn’t know about or expect when I arrived at Asbury for New Student Orientation. Asbury has a distinct flair and personality that I have been able to experience and enjoy over the past two years. Here are ten essential parts of the Asbury community that the brochure didn’t tell me about.

Image courtesy of
The Asbury Collegian

1. If you didn’t enjoy an ice cold Ale-8-One before coming to Asbury, you will before you leave.

There is one thing in common at nearly every campus-hosted event: Ale8. It is definitely the Asbury drink of choice. Though some initially dislike the super sweetened ginger-ale taste of this soft drink, most are bound to acquire a taste for the fizzy liquid after accepting three or four free ones from various Asbury events.

2. Owning at least one pair of Chacos sandals or Toms shoes is a requirement for graduation.

Though both of these brands are admittedly strange looking, after seeing so many chic students strutting through campus in either Chacos or Toms, you will be filled with and insatiable desire to purchase a pair.

3. Chapel tweets are provided for your thrice-weekly chapel entertainment.

We all came to terms with the chapel requirement before enrolling in classes at Asbury. But what many of us did not realize is that on those days when chapel is especially interesting or especially dull, the Twitter hashtag “#chapeltweet” provides entertaining commentary to your chapel experience.

4. Campus cat is the most loved cat in the world.

What other cat on earth has more than 1,500 people seeking its affection? Campus cat is a hot commodity at Asbury. There’s always someone (usually myself) desperately trying to pet her or seeking her out to bring her a peace offering of canned tuna.

5. The line at HICCUP is only long when you’re in desperate need of a caffeine fix five minutes before class.

A good portion of the time, there is no line at HICCUP. You can simply walk up to the counter and ask for your drink of choice; within a few minutes a smiling barista will hand it to you. However, on the days you’re rushing to get to the class that you simply cannot sit through without some HICCUP motivation, the line will inevitably be super long.

6. Owning an outdoor hammock is essential for feeling like you’re cool enough to hang (pun intended) with the Adventure Leadership students.

Though hammocking and college don’t seem to go together on the surface, a few good-weather days on campus will prove that relaxing in a hammock on the green is the absolute best kind of study break.

7. You can find a batch of freshly-baked cookies, a cute secondhand sweater, or a Seventeen magazine from 2011 on one of the many Glide-Crawford “free tables.”

A typical conversation on Second Glide: “Oh I love that shirt! Where’d you get it?” “I scored it off Second Front’s free table! Free table swag!” Seriously, if you’re ever in desperate need of a new addition to your wardrobe, forget hitting up the Goodwill; just do a round of free table shopping.

8. Those who achieve “Ring by Spring” status are treated simultaneously with adoration and contempt by all the single ladies (and by a few of the fellas as well).

We try to laugh off the idea of “Ring by Spring” as a joke. While the whole idea is pretty ludicrous to most college-aged kids, we cannot discredit the fact that this actually happens at Asbury quite a bit. You hear a girlish squeal across campus. You look over to find the source of the noise: a girl jumping up and down and showing her new engagement ring to her gleeful and envious friends.

9. There are a lot of abbreviations and names for places on campus that sound ridiculous to outsiders.

If you fail to pronounce the name for the Campus Post Office as CPO (“cēē – pō”), you will be ridiculed by your peers. However, when you’re on the phone with your grandma and you thank her the lovely care package she sent you in CPO, be ready to extend the conversation several extra minutes to explain this strange word to her. The same goes for the stuce, the caf and the cage. Call them by any other name to your Asbury friends, and you’ll never live it down; use these names when talking to other friends and family, and they will have no idea what you’re talking about. (If they’re anything like my parents, they’ll mockingly accuse you of picking up “the cool college kid slang…”)

10.  The student body is obsessed with President, Dr. Sandra Gray’s hair.

Let’s face it; no Pinterest tutorial could ever capture the essence of our President’s luscious locks. Her hair is mesmerizing.


This is a modified version of an article I published in the Asbury Collegian in the spring of 2013. The images and graphics are courtesy of the Asbury Collegian staff.