Coming to America

My co-teacher and I have students complete a summer assignment in which they share a coming to America story. This is a story I would like to share.

I REALLY struggled to draw and illustrate this, but I hope you still enjoy.

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Learning how to love yourself

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Is love something that we are born knowing how to do?  Is love really a choice?

I learned late in life that writing is a lot about learning how to edit, and this is exactly what I’m doing to do in this post.  It started as a post about learning how to love, period.  But now it is a post about learning how to love oneself because this is something I feel a lot of people fail to do.

I grew up most of my life believing love was something natural, something we were born conditioned to do.  And I believed even more strongly that the ability to love was not a choice.  I didn’t love my family because I choose to love, I loved them because I just couldn’t feel anything other than love for them.  Now that I’ve grown up, somewhat, I’ve come to some sort of conclusion.  Loving someone isn’t simply a choice or not a choice.  I know this because sometimes I force myself to show love to people, this is me making a choice.  But there have been times when I’ve been so hurt that all I’ve wanted to do is hate someone, but still I found myself loving them.

There are times when loving people feels so hard.  My mom will say or do something that upsets me and the idea of showing love in that situation seems impossible.  There are times when I find it really hard to love myself.  It doesn’t make sense but sometimes the most hurtful things are not said by strangers, they are thought by ourselves.  We fail to recognize the power and authority held in words, even when these words are said to ourselves.  The bible tests to this fact as well.

Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

In the above verse we are taught that life and death are in the power of our tongue!  This doesn’t just apply to what we say to people we love, this is found in the words that we tell ourselves.  The devil is a liar.  To anyone who has ever thought that they were meaningless, that their lives were meaningless or that they are alone- do not believe that lie.  Your body is the temple of God!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

This is how precious we are!  And we are never truly alone in this world, never at all.  The amazing thing about God is that even if everyone we ever love leaves us, we always have him.  This is something we can put our hope and trust in regardless of circumstance.

I mentioned this in passing earlier but love can also not feel like a choice.  I find myself unwilling to let go of some friendships because regardless of pain I may have felt, I still love that person.  With the same token, sometimes it make feel like we don’t have a choice in how we feel.  Although I believe this is somewhat true- we always have a choice. We may not be able to dictate the way we feel, but we can choose the way we act on these feelings.  This is even more true in regards to how we respect ourselves.  Please, love yourself enough to respect yourself.  If you are feeling hurt by someone or something, remove yourself from that situation.  And if you are hurting yourself, please learn the value held in your life.

The saddest thing for me to think about is the fact that so many people fail to see how amazing they are.  Those people who can be told time and time again that they are beautiful but fail to see it!  If you are someone like that, please just take a second look.  Give yourself a second chance.  Because you are valuable and you are loved.  I can guarantee it.

College Tips: Commuter Students

It’s that time of the year again and this time I’m a sophomore so I’ll have the opportunity to actually impart knowledge on some of you freshies out there!

First a little background on my college situation.  I go to a commuter college in the city and had lived at these new dorms at my college.  Even these were normally 30 minutes away from “campus” and I’ve had the experience of doing my 1-2 hour commute from home over the summer.  I thought it would be fun to just share some tips I wish someone told me coming into college and maybe help some of you freshies who may have been scared for college like I once was.
Please feel free to comment with questions, I almost always respond and actually love giving advice for things like this.  Now unto the tips!

Avoid Private Loans

I cannot explain to you how shocked I was when I realized how much 6% interest on my loan for my dorms cost me already.  As well as how shocked I was to read an article in the Wall Street Journal about this women so crippled by loans and unable to get a job in her desired career that she was putting off having children.  What? I’m happy that my college is cheap enough where I don’t need to take out a loan but if you need to do so, avoid private loans and look into financial aid, government grants, scholarships and public loans fast.  You don’t want the weight of college loans stopping you from living your life once you actually graduate.

Carry a lightweight laptop or an ipad

I never understood those people who commuted and dragged 15 inch laptops to school.  Your back will break.  I carry around an 11 inch Macbook air and barley feel it.  Plus having a laptop that is lightweight is an easy way to carry a ton of information in one tiny place.  I’d recommend an ipad if you want to avoid carry anything at all.  If you buy a stencil you’ll be able to actually write notes for classes like math on your ipad.

Additionally you can always buy gadgets that will give your ipad a keyboard making it easier for classes you may need to write lots of essays or papers for.  If you don’t feel comfortable shelling out a minimum of $1000 for a Mac, turn to a smaller size HP.  An 11 inch HP actually isn’t that heavy and netbooks can be very cheap and lightweight.  That’s what I’d like to call the best of both worlds.

Join a InterVarsity club/organization!

Some of the best friends I’ve made in college have either lived with me at the dorms or were in a club with me.  And considering if you’re commuting, your classes can be really difficult to make friends in at times.  Most of the time in commuter schools people are racing from class to class.  Clubs are a great way to meet people with similar interests to you and form some sort of community.  And if you’re in the RIGHT clubs, sometimes your eligible for early registration depending on your college.

Find ways to enjoy your commute

On average my commute is and hour and a half.  That means I spend 3 hours each day just traveling.  If you’re spending that much time traveling enjoy it as much as you can.  I started listening to podcasts, catching up on sleep on the train, reading and even doing some homework.  I’ve come to the point that sometimes I enjoy going home alone because I want the time of solitude and peace to either prepare myself for a long day of school or unwind and relax before hitting the hay.  I’m literally one of the those people who spend all day in school.  I just think it’s easier to get work done and fun to see who I can run into once I’m there.

Take an average of 15 credits or 5 classes

Any more or less and you’ll be either really bored or struggling.  I took 16 credits first semester and was fine so I thought taking 18 credits would be a great idea.  I ended up feeling really stressed and doing a lot of things really poorly instead of a few things really well.  Also keep in mind most people want to graduate in 4 years.  So if you’re one of these people, be on top of your stuff and make sure your taking enough credits in the right classes.

Be Organized

Depending on your college, sometimes you really are just a number.  Your professor won’t be making sure you hand everything in time, that’s up to you.  You ultimately do as well as you’re willing to do.

Stand Out

Make it a point to talk to your professors either at the beginning or end of class, better yet both.  There will be a time when you’ll need a letter of recommendation and with the number of faces your professor sees on a daily basis you’ll really want to stand out.  Back in high school I didn’t have to think twice when I needed a letter from a teacher.  But there’s already been a time where I’ve needed a letter of recommendation and needed to really scratch my brain for a professor who I knew would remember be.  Don’t be placed in a situation where you can’t think of anyone.

So that’s really all I can think of right now.  And just a very brief list at that, if you think you’d be interested in a post about faith in college please let me know.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about writing.  And if you’d like me to touch base on other aspects, again let me know.

Have a great and blessed day!

Neeners

What makes you beautiful?

I researched long and hard about this.  I wanted to know to an exact science; what exactly composed a perfect face.  Could it be perfect facial symmetry?  Was it the correct distance of eyes from one’s forehead?  Was beauty something that could be calculated and more importantly, is beauty something that can be bought?

I could never have been so wrong.

In the midst of all of this I found written on the inside of my friend’s bible the following verse,

“1 Peter 3:3-4

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead it should be of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s eyes.”
I think you demean beauty by limiting it to the structure of your face.  Because anyone can be born with a pretty face, but being beautiful means something much more.

I believe that when someone is truly beautiful, every feature of their face is illuminated by their smile.  That when someone is a happy person, there’s this glow inside of them that makes them look 100% better than they could ever look like with a frown.

Your face can never be perfect.  I doubt that even the beautiful face in the picture above is really and truly perfect.  I see makeup and tweezed eyebrows.  But imperfections are what make us unique.  Imperfections make us who we really are.
I remember telling these two twins I thought they were so beautiful and having them say to me that their nose was ugly, that it literally looked like a witches nose.  What they failed to realize is that the distinct appearance of their nose is what made me find their face so beautiful in the first place.  Their faces weren’t perfect, but they were beautiful.

Proverbs 31: 30 reads ” Charm is deceptive, beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the lord is to be praised.”

Beauty is fleeting.  Isn’t that crazy?  And isn’t it so very true?  Looking back on how greatly we weigh beauty, isn’t it all a bit foolish?

There is no formula for beauty.  There is no equation one must follow to be seen as beautiful.  But maybe there are so many more beautiful things we fail to notice while aspiring towards perfection.

Like those distressed pictures of people so happy you can’t help but feel the joy oozing from them and smirk.

Like when you find someone who just understands you so well and you can’t imagine how you ever lived life without them before.  Be it a friend, a family member or a significant other.

Or a love so magnificent that even death could not hold him down.

Now that is what I call beautiful.