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Aspire.

arcadian: (adj.) idyllically innocent; simple and untroubled by fear or worry.

The College Christian.

Get ready folks, this one is a doozy. Those of you that personally know me know that I love Jesus. Y’all know I have a faith, and if you really know me, you know I do not like to call myself a Christian. There are a few reasons for that. I have come across more “Christians” that judge, ridicule, humiliate, and lie, yet still call themselves a Christian. “Christians” have turned my mom away from church choirs because she has a divorce in her past. “Christians” have committed hate crimes to people I love and call family. Now I am not saying every person who identifies as a Christian has done those things. But I am saying that I have had more experiences with those “Christians”, and let me just tell you, it makes it real hard to identify with the Christian faith.

I am constantly surrounded by people of all faiths and lack thereof, and I really enjoy the diversity. But the question I find myself asking is, why is it harder for me, and a lot of other people my age, to openly have a faith? Since when did people in college feel like they have to hide what they believe in? Since when did being a Christian, turn people away from wanting to be your friend? These questions are super real and are questions I feel like a lot of people wonder.

For those of you that do not know, I am a student at the University of Oklahoma. It is an awesome school and I feel super blessed to have the opportunity to get such a good education. But something that really rubs me the wrong way are certain groups of people that like to come onto campus. People from the baptist church right down the road. They scream at us  saying we are all going to hell and tell girls we deserve to get raped because we wear shorts. Guess where those people are every Sunday. You guessed it, front row seat at their church. So why is it that when a college student goes out to a party, has a good time on the weekend, and “lets loose” after finals week, they get ridiculed for not being a “good” Christian, or “good” follower of Jesus? Yet the people screaming at us on campus get treated like saints that could save the world.

I love my faith, and I love the life I have been given by the man upstairs. But I am at a constant battle with myself and the world around me. Can I be a follower of Jesus and still be a “normal” college student? Some would say yes, I would like to think I could say yes, but I can’t. Yeah I have friends and I love them, but I have also had to choose my faith over people since being in college, and people have chosen people other than me because of my faith. In what world does that make sense?

The point of this whole thing is, give us a freaking break. Let college kids have a faith but also have fun. Stop polluting your kids minds and the minds around you with lies. College kids aren’t going to hell because they go to a party and then go to church, and just because someone has a different faith than you does not mean they are less than you or deserve to be mistreated. I have learned the most about our God from people of other religions, not from my own. So give us a break and open your eyes to the world. We, as college students, do our best to please everyone. Criticizing who we are because of the faith we choose to have or faith we choose not to have isn’t okay.

Faith should not be tearing people apart or putting people on pedestals. It should be bringing people together and unifying everyone as equals. I only have a year left in college,  but man I hope by the time I graduate I won’t have to worry about someone “unfriending” me because of my faith or telling me I deserve to get raped. We got a long way to go people, but at least I’ve got the faith in every individual that resides on this earth.

“Imagine how beautiful we could be if we all loved as strongly as we hated.”

~Creig Crippen

My Promise.

By now I am sure most of you have seen the news of the refugees, as well as every other life changing piece of paper President Trump has signed in the last few days. I believe all matters of politics are of the up most importance, but right now, my heart is heavy for the Middle East. If you followed my gap year journey, you are aware that I spent time in the Middle East. While at the time, I experienced a lot of heart ache and pain from being exposed to the drastically different lives of others, I miss the Middle East the most. I miss my family in Bethlehem, along with the friends I made there. I miss the smell of humus and fresh pita bread as I walked down the streets. I miss all the crazy drivers in Jordan, and I definitely miss my family and friends in Jordan. I miss the call to prayer throughout the day. I miss everything.

So naturally, with all of this happening with Trumps ban list of muslim countries, my heart is aching. I am at a loss of words for how I feel, but I find myself experiencing guilt and helplessness. Why do I get to travel where I want, when I want, to see whoever I want? Why can’t my friends and family that are over there come be with me here? Why can’t the world of politics actually give a crap about human beings? And why do I feel like I can’t I do anything about it?

Throughout my gap year, I made it my goal to be able to love everyone I met to the best of my ability. Setting aside political views, religious views, and everything else that causes arguments and distance. I continue to do that same thing every day now, but find it so much harder to do in the country I live in. How does one support someone and pray for someone who hurts people you care for dearly? How can I stand by my statement to support my president, when the decisions he is making are affecting my life negatively, as well as so many people I love?

There are no good answers to my questions. I do know that my love for the Middle Eastern countries I have been to, will continue to grow. My love for the muslim traditions and culture will also continue to grow. My promise is to continue to love everyone I met, and even love those I did not meet in the Middle East. I promise that even though I greatly disagree with many things President Trump is doing, I will still call him my President, and find the respect for him he needs. I promise to pray for him and every beating heart in the Muslim countries that have been banned. I will shed tears for my people in the Middle East, but I will never give up hope.

This world needs a little extra love and prayer in times like these. There is no time for hate, riots, and disgust. There is already too much of that. I may not be able to do something politically, but I sure as hell can love and pray for people like it is what I was born to do. My challenge to those that read this is to make a promise to the world. A promise of love, hope, or anything positive. This is the best time to truly come together as one, one world.

“I feel there is nothing more artistic than loving people.” -Vincent Van Gogh

Ringing in the New Year.

Happy New Year Friends! As I scrolled through my instagram today, most of what I saw was people rejoicing in the fact that 2016 is over because of how terrible it was. It saddened me to say the least. My year could not have been any better. I traveled the world with amazing people and learned incredible things. It is so interesting to me that people shut out all the good just because of the bad.  So many terrible things did happen this year, but lets take a minute to rejoice in all the good that happened this year.

  1. Because of the ice bucket challenge, we were able to find the gene responsible for ALS.
  2. Michael Jordan donated 2 million dollars in an effort to connect the police and community.
  3. Tiger, panda, and manatees all grew in number, which is HUGE!
  4. Solar power has proved to be incredible. Powering 6 million homes in California.
  5. In 24 hours, volunteers in India were able to plant 50 million trees. 50 million trees people!
  6. Starbucks donates perishable food to those in need.
  7. The ozone layer has begun to repair itself because of the efforts to rid aerosol chemicals.
  8. 500 elephants are now relocated, safe and away from poachers.
  9. Veterans are receiving free dental care.
  10. New cancer treatments are making a HUGE impact in the clinical trials.
  11. Harriet Tubman is replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20.
  12. A bank firm paid college tuition to all the kids of employees that died on 9/11.
  13. 200 strangers attended a funeral of a WW2 vet that had no family.
  14. Toys R Us offers quiet shopping for autistic children.
  15. NICU babies got special halloween costumes thanks to some awesome volunteers.
  16. 800 Boko Harem hostages were saved but the Nigerian Army.
  17. An teacher in Afghanistan delivered books to villages lacking schools.
  18. Death by heart disease decreased by 70%
  19. People from the Orlando Shakespeare Festival showed up wearing angel wings to block funeral goers from anti-gay protestors.
  20. Leonardo DiCaprio finally got that Oscar we have all been waiting for.

It is so easy to look and reflect on the negative things in our lives. If there is one thing I learned while traveling the world, our lives are too short to be stuck in the negative. Any chance we get to rejoice in the beauty of life and the success of the world we live in, we should take it. Nothing good has ever come from focusing on the bad or the ugly. It brings sorrow and unhappiness. If we can focus on the good that happened this last year, it starts to feel really good. I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but my resolution for this year is to spend my time focusing on all the good I can.

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives, and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” -Russel M. Nelson

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

Since you have been elected here is what has happened. Actual racists have felt empowered to do unthinkable hate crimes, anti everything protests have erupted around the world, and millennials are being treated with hostility for being “too sensitive”. This is not all that has happened, but these are the things that are affecting me, and so many other people I know. On my university campus, terrible flyers have been posted attacking white females, African Americans, LGBTQ groups, muslims, and empowering white supremacy believers. Girls wearing a hijab have been assaulted and those are just a few things that have happened.

This is disturbing and so beyond upsetting to me. Never once did I ever think I would say I am embarrassed to attend The University of Oklahoma, but it seems that with your election, that is what I am saying. I do not like you Mr. President, and I do not like what your election is doing to this country. But, I will say you are my president, and I will get behind you until you truly give me a reason to resent all of your being.

I pray that for the sake of this country, you truly prove every “hater” wrong and you do incredible things. I pray you honor what you said in your speech and are the president for everyone. I pray that your wife will set amazing examples for all the little girls that will be watching her. I believe there is good in everyone and even though you have disgusted me in more ways than one, I believe that good is within you as well.

You are my president, and you have my support, because we need a leader. Right now you are our leader, you are not the ideal leader for this country, but you are our leader. So please, prove me and everyone else incredibly wrong and make us swallow our pride. I truly hope you “Make America Great Again”, because what America is doing right now is disgraceful and embarrassing. I will pray for you and your family as much as I can, because to come into such a terrible position, with so many people resenting you is something I do not think I would be able to do. I will also pray for the rest of the country to begin to support you because I believe you deserve a chance.

Best of luck to you Mr. President. You are going to need it.

Sincerely,

An incredibly concerned millennial.

 

Election Day

Well folks, today is the day. The day everyone has been tirelessly waiting for and some dreading. Today is the day the United States gains a new leader, a new advocate, and begins a new path. This day, being my first election day that I can vote, is a hard day. A troubling, confusing, and messed up day. I see two candidates that I really do not like. One essentially hates women, and the other, being a woman, is not who I would expect as our first woman president. I have friends and family voting for both, arguments getting sparked all over my Facebook, and hate just flowing through the veins of so many people.

I woke up today wanting to be excited to vote. I think so many people feel the same way. But how can I possibly be excited to vote when up until I fill out that ballot, I will have no idea who I am going to vote for. Seeing all of the hate that is going around today on social media and TV, makes me not want to vote. For me, that is not morally an option though. I have been asking the man upstairs for guidance, but have been left in silence. Which honestly, I do not blame Him for that.

So on this day, that is supposed to be filled with hope, excitement, ambition, and  courage, I pray. I pray for the candidate that wins. I pray for my friends and family. I pray for peace. I pray that nothing negative happens after the votes have been revealed. I pray for this country. I love this country, but this country needs help. It needs love and peace. It needs a true leader. So regardless of what happens today, I pray you accept it and do not resent it. I pray that everyone gets behind the person this country decided to elect, regardless of if it is who you voted for. Because we, as a nation, need to come together in times like these. We need to come together in times where it is so easy to fall apart and hate. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”, and I could not agree more.

On this day, I challenge you to have hope. I challenge you to love. Today will be one of the most memorable days in history, and it will also be one of the most trying days. Today it will be hard to love one another, but it is with that act of kindness that we will succeed and grow as one. Challenge yourself today to love everyone and get behind the new president. Because as Americans, that is what we do. That is what we should be proud to do. Today is the day we either grow as one, or crumble as millions.

An open letter to girls…

With recent presidential campaign atrocities, I have noticed something really sad happening all around me. Girls, of all ages, colors, sizes, and shapes have become increasingly insecure. Now, regardless of if it is actually because of this election season, or if it is because of something else…it makes me sad. So whether or not this blog makes a difference, I am hoping it can touch few souls.

To Every Girl,

You are so awesome. Your beauty is vastly different from every individual on this earth and that is what makes you ‘you’. The color of your hair, or your eyes, or the shape of your body have never and will never reflect on the kind of individual you are. God has made each and every one of us so uniquely and beautifully different. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing your hair, or your makeup, look in the mirror and see words. Strength, Confidence, Humble, Loyal, Loving, Kind, and so on. Look at your soul and bathe in the qualities and incredible gifts that were given to you by the greatest creator.

Stop scrolling through instagram and stalking the “pretty” girls. If you are going to stalk anyone stalk yourself, because no one is more beautiful than you. No one has the same love that is within you, and no one can love in the same way that you can. Every part of your being is so extraordinary so please use it all. It pains me to watch the most amazing girls sit on their phone and look at girls that seem “perfect”. Only to end up in tears or body shaming the vessel that God takes pride in. No amount of makeup, or clothes, or self-tanner is going to change anything within you and it certainly will not attract the kind of people your soul deserves. Im not saying stop wearing makeup and stop doing things that make you feel good. What I am saying, is start seeing the actual things that make you pretty. Start loving the things that God has created. Acknowledge the fact that no matter how you look or what you wear, the basis of your essence will never change. It will grow, but it will never change.

We were not made to all be the same. To have the same skin color, same legs, same hair, or same anything. We were created as individuals. Individuals with individual gifts that will forever set us apart from the rest. Trying to be someone else because you are not satisfied with the person you see in the mirror is the saddest thing. The person looking back at you is the person that will do something in life. That is the person that God is so proud of. The person that so many people love and adore. Don’t let social media and the comments of important people drown out that person looking back at you. That person is just waiting to come out, and breach the surface. Put aside the thoughts that have been imbedded in your head by mean girls, mean guys, TV, and so on. Do not let anyone control the beauty that is within your soul. Let that person in the mirror come out with such force that nothing can stop you. You are worth more gold than you can even think of, simply for the fact that you were created by the greatest being. Please love the person looking back at you in the mirror, because she is an incredible woman.

“The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” -Audrey Hepburn

Feminism or Defense?

This is one loaded topic that has been on my mind recently. Why? Well it is simple. I am a 20-year-old college student that is surrounded by clusters of feminists and clusters of the anti-feminists and then people who just do not care to even take a side. As a woman, I feel like I need to hear out the feminist views. You know, support the people supporting women. This interesting culture has been way more prevalent since the election season has been upon us. A woman, running against a man, that pretty much despises women for all we know.  If you did not know what feminism was before this election, I am sure you do now. But the question in my head is, are people feminists? Or are people defensive?

This is even a question for me because of things I have seen and heard around my campus. Girls all of a sudden getting upset when a man opens the door for her, or is a gentlemen in any way.  Or when a girl opens the door and no one says “thank you”, the explanation is, “it is probably because I am a girl”.  The one that gets me the most is, “I am only going to graduate college because I am a woman, and I want to prove people wrong.”

I grew up basically being raised by my hard-working mother. So naturally, I tend to just assume to do things on my own and not worry about someone doing it for me. Now, when a man wants to open my door, or carry my groceries, or help me with my car, I am not going to take it personally or say, “he’s just helping because I am a woman and thinks I can’t do it”.  When talking to girls around campus about their views on this topic, the responses were very interesting. For the scenario I just listed, most of the girls that identified themselves as feminists, would take all of that personally just because of their gender. So what is actually the deal? How did the idea of a man being a gentlemen, get lost in this messed up feminist wave?  All of a sudden, if I let a man open my door, I cannot even consider being a feminist.

Yes, I hate the pay gap between genders. Yes, I hate that a man would most likely get a job over me because he is a man. Yes, I hate ALL of the gender discrimination that goes on every single day. Yes, I feel like I can say I am a feminist, or even just slightly feminist. But I am beginning to think that the “feminism” I identify with, is the same feminism that started in the 1850’s. I will be a voice for equal pay, and an end to gender discrimination. What I won’t be a voice for is for men to stop being gentlemen. These poor men are being raised to take care of women and be respectful. Yet all the women see is how disrespectful and insulting it is. Because that makes sense right?!

So basically my message to everyone is, re-evaluate whether you are actually a feminist…or if you are just jumping on the band wagon but are actually being defensive. Basically ask yourself this, are you going to vote for Hillary Clinton JUST because she is a woman and you feel like your vote is proving a point?  If the answer is yes, I am going to assume you are not actually a feminist, you are a defense. This whole defensive thing needs to stop because honestly, I feel like it is making us women, look rather dumb. 

“Feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men, it does not mean you hate girls that have nice legs and a tan, and it does not mean you are a ‘bitch’ or ‘dyke’, it means you believe in equality” ~Kate Nash

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