Let me tell you about finals.

Happy holidays, happy holidays, may the many tests keep bringing better GPAs to you!

Okay, so that’s not the song, but that’s pretty much what’s going on around here right now.  I’m writing this from the Starbucks by campus which is not only the biggest Starbs I’ve ever been, but was completely full of people when I got here – like, someone at every table, all the seats full at the big tables, all the armchairs taken as well.  I hung out outside for awhile and then saw some girls who had been sitting in the armchairs leave so I got aggressive and managed to snag one by an outlet – score.  That pretty much sums up finals week: everywhere you go on or close to campus is crammed with people studying, usually with caffeine in hand, and usually vying for spots to plug in computers.

But hey!  We’re making it through.  Classes wrap up today and there’s just a week left until I am DONE with finals forever! (until I take them next semester in a foreign country).  Anywho, I have plenty I should be doing (three more papers, three more tests – pray for me if you think of it!), but I wanted to take a second out of this hectic day to share some truth I’ve been learning in the middle of the end-of-semester chaos.  Ready? Here’s my finals top three.

1. Surrender your days to God.  Shoutout to my girl Stephanie Moss for sharing this one with my tired heart yesterday! It is SO hard for me during finals week to stay on top of everything and most of the time,  I reach this point where I wake up in the morning and think of all the things I have to do that day, and then say “I have no idea how I’m going to get it all done.”  And there’s nothing wrong with that, because it’s me being honest with myself and evaluating my priorities and trying to face the day.  BUT the problem is that my next move should be to say, “I have no idea how I’m going to get it all done, but God, you do – so here is my day, I’m turning it over to you.  Instead I like to get up and say “I have no idea how I’m going to get it all done, so I probably just won’t sleep much again tonight, and I should get some coffee in me and try to hit this thing head on alone.”  God did not create us to be in community with him for us to take the hard things on alone!!! Like Steph said, it’s super hard to remember that morning surrender throughout the day, but even if I don’t, at the end I  can look back and see how God met me where I was at and brought me through those hours by His grace.  The surrender is still so worth it, and He’ll use that for your good and His glory.  His mercies are new every morning – so every morning, why not seize that opportunity to live out of mercy and turn over our days to Him?

2. Be still.  Friends, I’m begging you – just ten minutes.  I’m doing this daily Advent writing challenge – where you write some Scripture that speaks to the coming of our King for just ten minutes or less every day.  The other night I was copying down words from Isaiah in my hasty scrawl, when I stopped and thought “This is the most important thing I do every day.”  And it is.  It really is.  In order to copy something successfully, you have to be thinking about the words as you write them.  So for ten minutes, all I’m thinking about is these words about my Jesus, when for the rest of the  day, my brain is processing a dozen things at once.  Whatever it is for you -writing, prayer, listening to music, drawing – just ten minutes a day.  When you need a break from studying, instead of getting on Facebook this time or pulling up YouTube (guilty), be still before the Lord.  Because let me tell you – he’s got amazing things for you to hear when you stop and sit and listen, things that will get you through this week.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but he will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

3. Treasure where you are. Lol this one is hard to do.  Just the other night I was saying to a friend that it’s easy to recognize how blessed I am to be at Vandy and what an incredible school this is the rest of the semester, but during finals, I see ALL the flaws in the system and complain like crazy about all the things our school could do better.  Which is so silly of course! – no where is perfect, and I’m grateful that Vandy is constantly looking for ways to better meet student needs.  But, most of all, y’all . . . in a short week-and-a-half (ugh I can’t believe I’m writing this for real), I’m leaving this place.  For about 9 months. And let me tell you – whatever else I say about my professors and my program and my finals schedule, I really wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else in this moment as one of my hardest semesters comes to a close.  My people are here.  My community is here.  My favorite memories are here.  And I know I’m choosing to leave it all and be somewhere else next semester, but that’s just to take advantage of one more opportunity this wonderful place affords me.  Think about it, this college experience is all going to be over so quickly – even in the craziness of studying, of trying to see everyone I love one more time, of trying to wrap Christmas presents, of crisscrossing campus, I want to soak up every last second.  Join me?

I’m no expert on how to survive finals, but I have done it a time or two before, and as I head into the home stretch, these are the things I am living by.  I believe in you, my friend!  Let’s get through this thing together.

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