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Hear Our Cries

During this time of uncertainty and pain, here is my prayer for the world:

 O Lord,
 Hear our cries for unity
 Hear our cries for peace
 Hear our cries for equality
 Turn not away from your fallen people
 We need you
 We need your love
 We need your heart.
  
 O Lord, 
 Hear our cries for bravery
 Hear our cries for guidance
 Hear our cries for compassion
 Turn not away from your children.
 We need you
 We need your vision
 We need your foresight
 We need your eyes.
  
 O Lord, 
 Hear our cries to spread the Gospel.
 Hear our cries to fulfill the Great Commission.
 Hear our cries to glorify you.
 Turn not away from your people.
 We need your boldness
 We need your courage
 We need your hands.
  
 We need your eyes
 We need your heart
 We need your hands
 Hear our cries for our lost brothers and sisters,
 O Lord.
  
 Let us not become complacent with the call you have placed on our lives.
 Let us not become desensitized to the lost souls who need your love.
 Let us not become one with the world.
 Let us become the true body of Christ. 
  
 Amen.

Perhaps my personal conviction comes into play here. We live in one of the most challenging times: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Right now, fear immerses us: fear of other humans, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Spreading the Gospel already intimidates many of us, but it can intimidate us more while wearing masks and fearing the contraction of a potentially lethal virus. News anchors and medical professionals tell us that travel is dangerous, especially when crossing borders.

So, where does that leave us in terms of our Great Commission? Throughout my life, I felt called to spread the Gospel in Latin America, but I selfishly pulled back my plans due to the new virus. Thus, here lies the reason for my prayer and blog: my own conviction, my own pain, and my own encouragement.

God calls us, as Christians, to live courageous lives, even in the midst of persecution and trials. Paul and many other disciples continued to spread the Gospel, despite imprisonment or death. While we should live wisely, we should also persevere through these difficult times and bravely follow the Lord’s calling in our lives: spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. My youth pastor once told us that if we had the cure for COVID, we would courageously venture to each country and proclaim the good news. Yet, we oftentimes forget the urgency and importance of spreading the truly Good News – the salvation Christ offers us, if we choose to accept it. Now, comes my spur to action. Join me in praying for where and how we, as Christians, should spread the Gospel. For some, it could mean travelling to Spain, while for others, it might mean having a hard talk with your co-worker who sits in the next cubicle. Neither is more important than the other. Live for Him always! ❤

Written by Trisha

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Celebrate Earth Day with Three Classic Poems on Nature

For centuries, artists interpreted, celebrated, and analyzed nature in their works. Nature, as a theme, often accompanies a sense of awe and majesty, translating the feeling of standing among mountains or gazing out onto the ocean. The topic endures as a popular motif for artists around the world. Alongside these artistic endeavors, the effort to preserve the Earth and its ecosystem continues as a growing pursuit among both great influential figures and the common person alike.

In 1969, a large oil spill ravaged Santa Barbara, California. Spurred on by this devastating event, Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin junior senator, proposed a day recognizing the effort to preserve and renew the threatened balance of the Earth’s ecological systems from the impact of pollution and unsustainable industries. Thus, Congress set aside April 22 of each year to serve as Earth Day for this very purpose, a date landing between spring break and final exams for most college students, as Nelson wanted the effort to be picked up by the student anti-war movement of the time. The year 2020 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. Since its start, Earth Day has been celebrated with a growing turnout and inclusion of activities such as rallies, volunteer cleanups, conservation and sustainable living classes, and more. The notion that protecting the Earth undermines the pleasure and convenience of people to a point of no approach contradicts the reality that humans depend on the health of the planet for the wellbeing of society. The preservation of the environment grows as an imperative topic of both discourse and action. Earth Day provides a time for reflection on the great beauty of God’s creation and how mankind can work together to further steward and sustain it as God instructs in Genesis.

Humanity’s well documented romantic relationship with creation inspires those who wish the source of such art to carry on to future generations. Poetry executes one of the best illustrations of the sublimity of nature. Three classic poets, in particular, stunningly capture the essence of nature and the emotions resulting from its beauty.

The first poem to note is appropriately named “Nature” by Henry David Thoreau. A naturalist, poet, author, and philosopher, Thoreau’s work reflects on simple living and continues to resonate with modern readers. Find one of his most famous poems written below.

O Nature! I do not aspire
To be the highest in thy quire,—
To be a meteor in the sky,
Or comet that may range on high;
Only a zephyr that may blow
Among the reeds by the river low;
Give me thy most privy place
Where to run my airy race.

In some withdrawn, unpublic mead
Let me sigh upon a reed,
Or in the woods, with leafy din,
Whisper the still evening in:

Some still work give me to do,—
Only—be it near to you!

For I’d rather be thy child
And pupil, in the forest wild, Than be the king of men elsewhere,
And most sovereign slave of care:
To have one moment of thy dawn,
Than share the city’s year forlorn.

Thoreau expresses his wish to live amidst nature, with work to do, yet with a sense of slight solitude. The poem captures his desire to exist humbly among men rather than live in grandeur and power. These two aspects mirror his values of simple living and mindfulness which remain wonderful practices for focusing on what is essential to an individual in humility and selflessness.

Penned by William Woodsworth, the second poem on the list, entitled “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” reminiscences on the author’s own experiences in nature. Wordsworth, an English poet during the Romantic era, is well known for using themes of nature in his work which have endured in popularity among readers.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

The poem above highlights Wordsworth’s love and detailed perception of nature. His illustration of daffodils, stars, lakes, and waves jump off the page and give an incredibly clear picture of the perspective he is describing. Near the end of the poem, the author recalls experience out in nature while away from it, which touches on a nuanced experience of reflection – reflection on memories of travels out in the splendors of Earth. Once again, the poet translates mindfulness from the reverence of nature’s beauty. The third and final poem entitled “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, opened a collection of his poems called Mountain Interval in 1916, and employs both references of nature and personal reflection. Frost, an American poet, used wildlife as a theme in many of his works which remain favorites among readers today.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This poem denotes an important value in life, as well as in the pursuit of environmental conservation: the effort to take the road less traveled. Frost beautifully illustrates his journey and his choice to travel the road not taken. In the second line, he writes a notable reality that in one’s journey, coming across a split path, one often cannot travel down both or know what either will bring. Trial and error and a dose of wisdom establish the reality of a path and distinguishes the path one truly desires to take. It is easier to take the well-traveled road where one may have an idea of what to expect and may, in fact, be expected to travel that road, but the road less traveled, though scarier at first, may lead to a greater outcome. Sometimes, in the face of the world, the right decision is the road less traveled.

As stewards of the Earth and pursuers of Christ, it is important we reflect upon the paths that lie ahead and determine whether the road less traveled reaps a harvest akin to Christ. It is critical, now more than ever, to not only recognize Earth Day and the state of the planet but take what is learned forward and live every day in a manner that is mindful of the impact one’s actions have on the environment. As a collective, humanity has made significant progress in adopting practices that better steward the Earth, but much more needs to be done. Environmental conservation, though often the road less traveled, shapes humanity’s continued wellbeing. To sustain the beauty of Earth is to further the inspiration for art, such as poetry, which marvels in the majesty of God’s creation. Ralph Waldo Emerson beautifully accentuates these sentiments with the reminder that, “what lies behind us, and what lies before of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Written by Kayla

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Works Cited

Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Poetry Foundation, n.d.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken.

Rogers, Kathleen. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, 10 Oct. 2019.
https://www.earthday.org/history/.

Thoreau, Henry David. “Nature.” Academy of American Poets, n.d.
https://poets.org/poem/nature-1.

Wordsworth, William. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” Poetry Foundation, n.d. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45521/i-wandered-lonely-as-a-cloud.

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Positivity in the Midst of a Pandemic

Isolation is not good for the human mind, and it has been proven to worsen an individual’s health; that’s why the pandemic is taking such a great toll on so many. Even those who have never suffered from mental health issues prior to the shutdown began to experience the negative effects of the pandemic. Sure, the beginning was fun and games: students were relieved that classes were cancelled, everyone was making whipped coffee, and learning TikTok dances was a widely appreciated hobby. As the months continue to go by, the country feels tired of isolation. Of course, quarantine serves for the greater good, but it is a lonely time.

In the beginning, everything posted on social media felt very negative. Of course, there was an occasional “Be Kind to Yourself” post, but those were always overshadowed by people’s complaints about this difficult season. Since there is no other way for us to have community with one another while staying socially distant, it is easy to feed off of the negativity of others. After all, scrolling through social media is the closest thing people have to social interaction these days. This harmed the minds of those who were consistently consuming gloomy and depressing posts. Many influencers used their online platforms to share how deeply distraught they were; even the people who have it all are suffering in some way. Twenty-twenty was certainly a difficult year for the whole world. Somewhere along the way, there was a noticeable change for the better, especially among the platforms of TikTok and Instagram users. People began sharing what the pandemic is teaching them, rather than what it is taking from them.

The shift in the narrative began when people decided to focus on what they are learning rather than what they are losing. We can facilitate this kind of attitude in ourselves by encouraging one another to be grateful for what we have, even when it’s hard. It is easy to focus on the negative, especially during unprecedented times such as these, when the negative energy looms over our heads constantly. Nevertheless, there are always moments for which we can be grateful. Many people have been learning about mental health, reading books, spending time with family, going to therapy, and some have even adopted new pets. There is always an opportunity for growth, even in the midst of hardship. The general mindset shifts on social media cause many to realize that they entered 2020 with the intentions of achieving all their goals while getting everything they wanted. Slowly but surely, people came to realize that instead of 2020 being a year of dreams coming true, the season is a call to be grateful for life’s simple joys.

Despite the push for positivity, it is important to note that positivity should not be forced. Sometimes we guilt ourselves into looking at the bright side when the most beneficial choice would be to process our emotions. Of course, pointing out the positive is key to a healthy life, but it is okay to allow ourselves to experience pain. Strength is not always standing without worry in the face of turmoil; strength is working through hardship, even if we are heartbroken and crying the whole time. While it is important to remain grateful, it is ok to mourn as well. It is alright to wish that the year played out differently. My hope is that even in the midst of hardship we can see that there were some, even if there were few, good things.

Twenty-twenty is over, and the world could not be more grateful. Despite the numerous hardships endured, it was a year of great growth. Instead of reflecting on this season with disdain, we can be reminded of all the lessons we learned, and the many blessings in our lives.

Written by Karina

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Questions to Ask Yourself When Writing

            The writing process often resembles a scientific one. In order to write effectively, you need to ask yourself a series of questions. As you are staring at a blank page, you’re probably thinking “questions are the last thing I need.” I promise, it is not as tedious as it might sound. It is designed to make writing stress free, especially for new writers. Below, I have compiled three questions that will help you with that.

What comes to mind when I think about my topic?

            This question is perhaps the most important part of brainstorming. Whether you’re writing a reflective essay on a book you read or a tricky economic theory, you want to begin by gathering all the knowledge you already have about the the topic. Pay special attention to what interests you about the subject and work on elaborating. This allows you to find your own voice as a writer. It also provides you with a wealth of ideas to explore. You can then develop these random collections of ideas into a preliminary outline. This helps you craft the most important part of your written work: the thesis.

What am I trying to argue?

            Essentially, everything is an argument. A statement about a situation, a subject, or a story tries to convince an audience of an idea or concept. This question drives you to recognize your own understanding and/or worldview no matter what you’re writing about. Finding the answer to this question is an important ingredient. It is what makes your writing interesting and engaging. Everything else you want to express must flow from your argument, keeping your ideas organized and allowing you to express them in a concise manner.

Why is my argument important?

            With this question, you have the opportunity to find examples, proofs, statistics, and other means of solidifying your arguments or statements. The answer to this question ties everything together. It provides your readers with sound reasoning as to why these arguments are made and reveals their implications of the real world. Practice asking yourself broad, yet simple, questions like these, and I guarantee you will produce a stronger body of work every time you write. Additionally, don’t forget the that the DBU Writing Center is here for you! Our website has several sources you can use to help you navigate the writing process! Click here!

Written by Kenean

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The Lord’s Supper: Bringing Us Beneath the Cross of Christ

It is an unmistakable truth and a sad reality that, in the midst of the chaos and clutter of everyday life, the indelible print of the Gospel of Salvation fades from the hearts of Christ’s followers. Rather than being marked by gratitude for this glorious grace, the cares of this world scribble the lines of wistful worries and insatiable desires, overwhelming our thoughts and distorting our purpose. While it is tempting to place all the blame on technology, the media, or the quest for the “American Dream,” it is important to note that this disposition of drifting hearts is not a new development of sin tendency. The words of Ecclesiastes echo through the ages: “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccles. 1:9). With this in mind, it is no surprise that our sovereign omniscient Lord provided provision against such vulnerability for His chosen people centuries ago. Enter: the Passover Feast.

“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”

Exod. 12:14

After 430 years of Egyptian captivity, the Israelite slaves, God’s people, finally set their faces toward their long-awaited deliverance. To anyone reading the Exodus account, it would be hard to fathom that such dramatic events could ever fade from the memory of those present. Could they, who passed through the Red Sea on dry land, possibly walk in doubt or worry ever again? Of course, from our current retrospective vantage points, we can see that it doesn’t take but a few chapters for the weeds of grumbling to grow rampant in the same hearts of those delivered from captivity. Thus, the Passover Feast served from the very beginning as a necessary restoration of wayward hearts and minds. 

Moreover, this momentous event carried on, and continues to carry on, as a beacon of remembrance for God’s people for generations to come. The significance and weight of each symbol, in essence, put one in the shoes of those standing on dry land between the parted walls of water. The Mishnah, a written account of Jewish oral law, records the words of Rabbi Gamaliel: “In every generation a man is bound to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt” (Mishnah 116b). No amount of temporal or geographical distance separates God’s people from their deliverance from the dregs of Egyptian slavery. The Passover Feast powerfully reminds us of this reality, and it testifies to the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises for His people, despite their recurring doubt and defiance.

Yet, the story did not end there. A power even greater than that of all Egyptian forces still wrapped its clutches around mankind: the power of sin and death. From the moment when sin first entered this world, the promises of a coming Savior echoed throughout the scribes and prophets — one who would finally crush the head of the serpent of sin (see Gen. 3:15). Israel longed for this Anointed One who promised to “bring good news to the poor…to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isa. 61:1). God’s people clung to this hope, intricately laced throughout the Old Testament, as an anchor throughout exiles, tyrannies, and ruins. Finally, after nearly 400 years of arduous longsuffering, a newborn baby’s cry broke the silence.

Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God, took on human flesh, and “dwelt among us…full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, healed the sick, and preached good news to the poor (Matt. 11:5). “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him,” (Isa. 53:10) so He could be “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Nearing this momentous event to transform all of history, the disciples gathered with Jesus in an upper room to celebrate the Passover Feast. Henceforth, a new memorial feast emerged pointing toward deliverance. Enter: the Lord’s Supper.

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”

Matt. 26:26-27

God’s sovereign omniscience shined forth in this moment as His Son, the ultimate Passover Lamb, sacrificed Himself to release the world from the clutches of sin and death (1 Cor. 5:7). Although we may praise this truth and believe these words, we must not dare to elevate ourselves above the wayward hearts and minds of the Israelite people generations ago. Is it not true that weeds of grumbling still grow rampant in our hearts, despite our deliverance from captivity? The symbolic significance of the bread and wine serves as our ever-so-needed beacon of remembrance.

In C. J. Mahaney’s book Living the Cross Centered Life, he points out the disturbing truth that it is the sins of the world that put Christ on the cross — yours and mine included. But there is a profound significance in this realization. Mahaney writes, “Unless you see yourself standing there with the shrieking crowd, full of hostility and hatred for the holy and innocent Lamb of God, you don’t really understand the nature and depth of your sin or the necessity of the cross” (87). To put it another way, I believe a Christian translation of Rabbi Gamaliel’s words might read, “In every generation, the Christ-follower is bound to regard himself as though he personally stood beneath the cross of Jesus.” And in this recognition of the depth of our destitution, recognize the astounding grace of our God who, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:5, 8).

And thus, no amount of temporal or geographical distance separates us from this moment of deliverance from the world’s captivity to sin. The Lord’s Supper symbolically reminds us of this reality, drawing us away from our wistful worries and concerns, and bringing us beneath the cross. C. H. Mackintosh illustrates this divine parallelism in his commentary on the Passover Feast: “To a pious Israelite there was nothing like the Passover, because it was the memorial of his redemption. And to a pious Christian there is nothing like the Lord’s Supper, because it is the memorial of his redemption and of the death of his Lord.” So as we approach this upcoming Good Friday, let us remember the significance of the bread and the wine of which we partake. We must allow it to bring us beneath the cross, upon Golgotha, and see the wistful worries of this world fade beneath the indelible print of this Gospel truth: “that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

Written by Grace

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Works Cited

Mackintosh, C. H. “The Passover and the Lord’s Supper.” Biblehub, 2002. https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/mackintosh/the_passover_and_the_lord’s_supper.htm.

Mahaney, C. J. Living the Cross Centered Life. Multnomah, 2002.

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A Letter to the Fast Writer

Dear Fast Writer,

            You have a talent that many people can only dream of. The ability to pour out words, sentences, and ideas onto paper without pause provides a great start to any writing. However, understanding the importance of the writing potential that comes with time, patience, and organization, remains key. Perfect papers do not exist. Everything can use improvement or editing. Keep in mind, though, the limits of time placed on academic assignments, so it is best to schedule your time to produce the best product before outlining, writing, and revising.

Schedule Ahead

            People write quickly for many different reasons, but no matter the reason, scheduling makes all the difference. Always give enough time to check over your writing before the due date, but also make sure to schedule segments of time over a period of days or even weeks. Trying to write an assignment in a short amount of time weakens the paper as it progresses and allows for mistakes that would have been avoided with more time allotted. If it is a long paper, schedule time for reading and researching before picking a topic. Next, maybe spend a day writing the thesis statement, outlining, and finding specific examples or quotes for each of your points. If you prefer to have a short freewriting session to help the thoughts flow, schedule that as well. Then spend a day on the introduction, the catalyst for the whole paper. After that, schedule enough time or days for the body paragraphs depending on the length.

Breathe

            The second step to most any successful project encompasses breathing. One should breathe before even starting a project, but sometimes breathing comes easier once you schedule everything, knowing nothing will be done last minute. Take breaks throughout the completion of the product. Even plan your breathing if you want, but that might be counterproductive. Breathing intermittently and just taking a good break helps rejuvenate the mind and prepares you for the next steps.

Writing

Obviously, this is the main step. Follow the schedule you just made for yourself. Do not write the whole paper all at once or wait until the last minute to write it. Either way, the product gives a less than ideal result difficult to backtrack from. Actually, follow through on that schedule and write section by section. This will ease the workload and create a good habit.

Revise

I know this seems obvious, yet so many people skip this step either because time ran out or because they do not want to look at the paper any longer. In both cases, the schedule creates enough time to look over the paper before turning it in and an efficient structure to spread out the time spent with it. Remember that no paper is ever truly finished, so improve it as best as you can with the prompt and instructions you are given. Read it aloud to yourself to catch any awkward wording or grammatical mistakes. Maybe look over it with a friend or the DBU Writing Center. In the end, be proud of your work.

Written by Eleanor

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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day

Most of us can remember always being told to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, but how did this holiday come about? In the fifth century, kidnappers took a man from Britain and brought him to work in Ireland at age sixteen (“History of St. Patrick’s Day”). Many believe he brought Christianity to the Irish and later became their patron saint. He allegedly died on March 17; hence, the Irish dedicated this day to him.

Fun Traditions

Ireland, known for their three-leaf clovers, claims St. Patrick used one to explain the Trinity (“History of St. Patrick’s Day”). To find a four-leaf clover, then, must mean one possesses luck. The idea stuck and became a notable part of the beloved holiday.

In the beginning, people associated blue with St. Patrick. During the 18th century, shamrocks came to represent Ireland and its saint, thus changing the holiday’s color to green (Davidson). Cities created unique traditions to celebrate the vibrant color. One such city is Chicago, which celebrates the holiday by dying its river green.

What would St. Patrick’s Day be without its famous character, the leprechaun? These short creatures find their origins in Irish folklore (Davidson). Legend says leprechauns cannot see people who wear green; therefore, they cannot pinch them. For this reason, if people see their friends without anything green on, they will pinch them.

Conclusion

A holiday started for the sake of spreading Christianity became a secular favorite for cities with a high population of Irish immigrants (Augustyn). New traditions formed to celebrate the holiday and spread to different regions. Now, people the world over enjoy St. Patrick’s Day in a variety of ways.

Written by Joy

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Works Cited

Augustyn, Adam. The Editors of Encyclopedia. “Saint Patrick’s Day”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 17 Jan. 2021. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Saint-Patricks-Day

Davidson, Rose. “St. Patrick’s Day.” National Geographic Kids, 30 Dec. 2020. https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/celebrations/st-patricks-day/

“History of St. Patrick’s Day.” History.com, 27 Oct. 2009. https://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day

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Letter to the Inexperienced Writer

Inexperience often carries a negative connotation. I would like to propose that inexperience can actually be a good thing because it simply means that the best way you can learn is by doing.

As an experienced writer, you probably have not yet discovered your voice. You can partake in the joy of discovering your own unique style and exploring several mediums of writing. From creative to research-oriented, each one offers a variety of skills and abilities. So use different writing forms as much as you can. Write poetry and prose, but write argumentative and descriptive essays too. Explore different kinds of subjects; practice expressing your own thoughts about them and practice your ability to articulate those of others too.

Pick a genre that interests you and get to reading! Make sure you carry a book with you wherever you go. I’d say it’s almost impossible to learn how to write well without reading well. You get to see how individuals with a variety of backgrounds and experiences write. They hold a wealth of expertise you might not find otherwise. Then, continue to move up the ladder. Read books by Black, Latino, and Asian authors. Their worlds are vastly different from yours if you don’t happen to be a member of one or more of these races. Their colorful cultures and languages give them unique perspectives and, therefore, unique writing styles. Learn from them. The idea is to expose yourself to ideas and styles that are totally different from yours.

Learn the rules, then break them—responsibly. Follow all the steps at first: brainstorm, outline, compose your first draft, and revise. Write your introduction, body, and conclusion too. Then get into the nitty-gritty; learn the rules of metaphors, similes, and imageries. Understand how they communicate an idea or tell stories and allow them to craft a complete body of work that is yours and yours alone. Once you get acquainted with the rules, you can break them! Abandon safe cliches and embellish your work with new ideas and techniques. Take a stroll down those tangents and break up with linearity.

Destigmatizing inexperience in any area is extremely crucial to society’s advancement and progress.

Writing is an excellent field with which to start! Embrace your inexperience. It’s not only an invitation to learn but discover a different part of yourself as a writer and as an individual.   

Written by Kenean

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The Impact of Words

Words hold immense power; they circulate through our minds at any given moment. Countless times, I recall a random compliment someone gave to me or remember a sweet greeting from a kind stranger. On the contrary, when my mind bears a lamentable state, hateful words bombard my memory, and I feel trapped by statements from years ago. I genuinely believe that this is why self-love is so difficult to achieve; we carry the burdens of malicious speech from our past. We think that weapons are the only things capable of tearing through skin, but we seldom consider the scars statements like “you’re not enough” leave behind.

Conversely, words hold the ability to uplift, encourage, and inspire. Many times, especially in the midst of one of my depressive episodes, one phone call from a cherished friend greatly lifts my spirits. The experience of the Lord using people to speak His love into you feels ethereal and reflects a glimpse of Heaven. Some of my primary motivations to teach originate from the caring words that students shared with me or the exceptional teachers who inspired me to pursue my goals.

The deepest wounds can be mended by the kindness of genuine encouragement. 

We grant a great deal of power to words. They wield meaning because we bestow it upon them. If their significance originates from our influence, we can choose which words to open our ears to and how we express ourselves to those around us. We have the potential to show the love of Christ to others through our speech. God cultivates transformation through words, and He can use us as passionate vessels. James 3:7-8 states “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” If a ferocious, feral animal is more capable of being tamed than our tongues, and if what we speak is as deadly as poison, why should we speak at all? Because of our sin nature, we are bound to say things that are immoral or profane; we are imperfect beings. However, this does not mean that we should refrain from speaking. Just as our words have the lethality of poison, they also have the potential to give life. God blessed us with the gift of hope through the Gospel. Psalm 150:6 states, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” Words are God-given, and they have the ability to speak life into others. May we not use them as ammunition but as hope in verbal form.

Written by Deneen

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Sacrifices, Tears, and Pain

When thinking about love, there are a million (excuse my slight hyperbole) songs that instantly come to mind, including “What is Love (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)” by Haddaway. Perhaps that is a valid question for which we are all searching an answer. In its simplest form, we know that God embodies love in every encounter, mannerism, and word. The ways in which He interacts with others throughout Scripture are always cloaked with love and compassion. Most importantly, He illustrated His true love for us by the way He laid down His life, giving us the opportunity to experience eternal life – if we choose to accept it. He wanted nothing in return; it was pure love in its purest form: selfless, giving, and undeserved.

We live in a difficult time (excuse my slight understatement), but it seems as if many acts of love occur right before our eyes. In the midst of chaos and suffering, some people consistently put their lives on the line for us. Nurses and doctors work in the battlefield between COVID and health. Many of them feel exhausted, working more shifts than ever before and experiencing the pain of losing patients from this disease. Personally, I could never imagine the true exhaustion and pain they must endure for us, but I am forever grateful for their undeserved love. My sister is a nurse, and she courageously works with ill patients. Like many others, she has a family at home who want her to be with them, but she knows the importance of her job. At any moment, nurses and doctors could walk away from their profession, if only they saw it as a profession. Instead, they want to care for others in some of the most frightening times of their lives.

While the majority of my blog focuses on the exhausted nurses, others who love others more than themselves deserves the spotlight, too. First responders and military personnel also actively lay down their lives, so we experience freedom and safety. While the world seemed to shut down, they were always willing to step up, protect, and serve. Additionally, other essential frontline workers allow the world to keep functioning in the midst of panic and tremendous fear. They might not know the outcome of the pandemic, but they still willingly continue to work for us. While most of us do not ask for these dangerous gestures of love, all these individuals continue to express them. In John 15:13, it says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (New Living Translation). These words illustrate the greatest sacrifice one can make for the betterment of others. Interestingly, this version mentions friends specifically, so how much more spectacular is it that people are willing to lay down their lives for complete strangers? I am constantly amazed at and grateful for the frontline and essential workers for their embodiment of Christ and His undeserved, sacrificial love. Let’s take a moment to thank these people for their daily sacrifices, remember those who laid their lives down for us, and the people who courageously lost their battles to COVID. THANK YOU! ❤

Written by Trisha

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