New Year, Same Lies

Like posting a MCM picture to Instagram or dressing up on Halloween, New Year resolutions have become a popular ritual with little objective. For the first couple of weeks in every new year, social media is buzzing with healthy recipes, de-cluttering tips, and post-workout selfies. By February though, most goals have mysteriously disappeared along with the gym memberships and fresh vegetables. In a culture where setting goals is popular, but putting in the work to reach them is not, it can be discouraging to even try. Part of the reason why so many New Year goals fizzle out is because they are driven by an inaccurate image of what a good resolution ought to entail. I have found at least three lies concerning resolutions that have been accepted as truth. Correcting these lies can be the difference between completing a successful transformational journey and merely watching others as they reach their own aspirations.

Lie #1: If I make a mistake or encounter a setback, my resolution has failed.

Unfortunately, “mistake” has incorrectly become synonymous with “failure.” I could go to Merriam-Webster to clarify the difference, but I would rather contrast mistake and failure with an illustration about Duct Tape. Sometime in junior high, I decided I was going to make my prom dress out of Duct Tape, and by the time my senior year rolled around nobody had talked me out of it. I spent years dreaming and months working with my mom and grandma on the project, but a week before prom I found myself desperately looking for a dress to order online. All of my carefully laid plains, extensive research, and hours of work were not enough to keep mistakes from happening. The type of tape I had chosen was not holding like I needed, and the dress wasn’t fitting the way I wanted it to. I had messed up, and I was ready to give up. In that time of frustration, I began to think about my 14-year-old self and how disappointed she would have been if I gave up on her dream. From my moment of indecision, I learned a valuable lesson: Mistakes do not cause a goal to remain unreached, they merely provide an easy excuse for giving up. Instead of quitting when quitting would have been easiest, I decided to push on with my dream, address my mistakes, and complete a beautiful dress. If you commit to run five miles a week but find yourself ending with only three, that doesn’t mean your goal is ruined. If you aim to lose ten pounds a month but only lose eight in January, don’t call it quits. Errors may prolong you from reaching your goal. In some instances you may find yourself starting over. But even then you have not failed. Keep pursuing your resolution, even when it doesn’t go according to plan; what you don’t expect to accomplish in one day, you can’t expect to ruin in one day, either.

me and greg

Me and my prom date, Greg. Did I mention his vest and tie were made out of Duct Tape, too?

Lie #2: This is my life, my goal, and my responsibility. I have to fulfill my resolution all on my own.

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Benchwarmers. If you’re not familiar with the story (which, really, you should be), it’s about three guys who team up with a billionaire to win a baseball tournament. They want to give the grand prize—a custom stadium—to kids who have never had the chance to play baseball due to bullying. Initially, Gus, the only talented player on the team, does all the coaching, pitching, fielding, and scoring, while Richie and Clark stand by. This works at first, but as the tournament goes on, Gus begins to struggle. It is only when the whole team gets involved that true success begins to unfold. Your New Year resolution will progress in a similar way, should you choose to tackle it alone. You can try to play coach, pitcher, and centerfield, but eventually you’re going to need to hit the ball. By making your New Year resolution public, even if it is just to a handful of trusted individuals, several of your roadblocks will already be conquered. Friends and family truly want to help you in the day to day pursuit of your resolution. Let them fully join you on your journey. Don’t hesitate to ask for a daily motivational text or call them up when you need to get a struggle off of your chest. Transparency is an empowering practice. Accountability is not only for the times when you fall behind or need encouragement, though it is certainly necessary in those seasons. Setbacks are unquestionably disheartening, but unrecognized accomplishments can be dejecting, too. When you hit a milestone or tackle a looming obstacle, don’t hesitate to celebrate victories with your team. Rejoice in the fact that not only are you making progress, but also that you have people who are willing to help you reach your goals.

Lie #3: The only time I am allowed to launch a big, life-altering resolution is on January 1.

The start of a new calendar year provides the visually encouraging motivation of a fresh page and a clean start. There is something symbolic about leaving behind the old habits, the old struggles, and the old you with the old year. If used correctly, an authentic New Year resolution can be an advantage to your cause. If used improperly, the calendar can be a serious hurdle in your already difficult journey. There is no law prohibiting personal resolutions to be made on April 29, July 14, or December 4. If you are reading this on January 2, or a random Tuesday in May don’t feel like you must wait until 2017 to begin pursuing a new goal. We are the creation of a God who renews his mercies every morning and gladly transforms the lives of His children upon the call of their voice. You are free to start anew whenever your heart desires and whenever an opportunity arises.

Don’t view a New Year resolution as an impossible task full of unconquerable obstacles, isolation, and strict rules. These are lies and nothing else. Should you choose to set a goal for yourself this year, begin your journey with the right mindset. Believe that mistakes do not hold the power to end your mission, confirm your capabilities through the support of others, and feel the freedom to initiate change in your life at any point in time. I wish you the best of luck in whatever your New Year brings!

Written by Savanna

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The Twelve Activities of Christmas

It’s a week until Christmas. I can still feel the chill of the cold outside even with the heater on, so I tug the blanket higher around my shoulders. My hands curl around my mug of hot chocolate, warming my frigid fingers with the heat it emits. Strains of Michael Bublé’s “Cold December Night” play softly from the other room. There’s a fire cackling in the hearth, the only source of light in the room, and the tinsel glitters in the darkness.

Christmas became a nationally recognized holiday in 1870. Every year since then, several million trees are cut and find their way into American homes. Billions of dollars are spent on toys and gifts. Airports are packed with eager passengers on their way back to visit family. Only one day a year can send the entire country into such a frenzy. These frantic preparations for Christmas can easily become overwhelming, tainting an otherwise joyful holiday. In fact, many people struggle to find a way to find a way to relax during the mad holiday rush.

To make this year’s Christmas just a little more special and a little less hectic, here are twelve things (“On the twelfth day of Christmas . . .”) to do this Christmas season:

  1. Stop by the Writing Center. Whether it’s to get help for a mini-term paper or just to say “hi,” we’d love to see you drop by! Come see the decorations in the office and talk with the staff. And pick up a helpful handout while you’re at it!
  2. Read the nativity story in the book of Luke. Chapters one and two describe the account of Jesus’ birth and the amazing miracle the shepherds encountered with the angels. As you read it, be sure to take time to reflect on the real reason for Christmas.
  3. Go see some Christmas lights. Every year, fewer and fewer people take the time to put up Christmas lights. Or there’s that neighbor who never takes them down. One of the joys of Christmas is the collective festive spirit that can be felt anywhere. Some cities hold a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Other places string up lights on City Hall. Find the closest location and go see the lights. That, or go find a rich neighborhood full of people who pay for their lights to be put up for them.
  4. Bake something and deliver it to neighbors. Try your hand at baking and decorating sugar cookies, eggnog cheesecake, or chocolate swirl pumpkin pie. Make sure to spread the Christmas spirit by gifting some to your neighbors. If you don’t know what to bake, then find a recipe online. Because let’s be honest: most of my Pinterest account is dedicated to food recipes anyway.
  5. Give to a charity. It’s easy to forget those in need when our families are gathered for Christmas. Try donating to the Angel Tree Christmas program or the Salvation Army. Or give of your time by serving in a soup kitchen or volunteering at a homeless shelter. It’s the season of giving, so why not? Bless someone for Christmas.
  6. Send a Christmas card to a soldier overseas. Spending Christmas away from family in a foreign country must be one of the most disheartening experiences. Send a Christmas card to our brave service members scattered across the globe and thank them for their sacrifice.
  7. Make a Christmas ornament. The things we make by hand are the ones that are the most special. Buy some inexpensive supplies from Michael’s and make some personalized ornaments. Use them to decorate your own tree or send them to relatives as Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers.
  8. Watch Elf. Without a doubt, we can all agree that it’s the best Christmas movie ever made. What’s funnier than watching Will Ferrell run around New York City in a Christmas elf costume? Not to mention it has some of the greatest insults ever, second only to Shakespeare: “Cotton-headed ninny muggins!”
  9. Go Christmas caroling. Caroling has become something of a forgotten art. Fewer and fewer people go door-to-door to sing for neighbors, and I think it’s a sad decline of a longstanding Christmas tradition. Start a group with friends or gather some people at church. Bundle up, bring your best singing voice, and hit the streets!
  10. Bring Christmas treats to a retirement home or a hospital. Some people can’t go home for Christmas, but you can bring Christmas to them! If possible, spend some time talking with them and leave them with some tasty cookies. Spending time with them could be the best gift they receive for Christmas.
  11. Go see The Nutcracker ballet at a performance hall. The Nutcracker has become a staple of Christmas along with the Radio City Rockettes and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Many people go see the ballet every year to immerse themselves in Christmas magic. Both children and adults alike can appreciate both the graceful dances and beautiful music.
  12. Start a new family tradition. Spend a day in the kitchen baking with the family. Open one present on Christmas Eve. Have an evening making s’mores in the fire pit. It doesn’t matter what it is; big or small, just pick something you can do every year. Maybe a hundred years from now, your family will still be observing the same tradition!

Luke 2:10-11 “And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’”

Written by Jenna

Going Home for School Breaks

School breaks are the appetizer to the summer entrée. They are scattered throughout the school year and are a small window in which to spend some time with family. Although college may seem like the best time in life, and you may not want to go home, being with family is a sweet period of time not to be neglected. Here are some reasons why I love going home:

We eat all our meals together. We sit around the table, not having seen each other for months, and simply talk and joke and tell stories about how the roommates almost burnt the apartment to the ground trying to make pancakes. When mom asks who wants to go to the grocery store with her, I am the first one to volunteer. (Maybe I will even get a special treat from the candy section.) If I am going to the mall, my brother now asks if he can come with me. What?! It is strange how time and distance can make people with the weakest bonds grow closer when they are together again.

awkward

And you cannot forget the dreaded awkward family portrait that must be taken every time everyone is home. We pick on each other but still say “I love you” when we leave because sometimes, family is all that matters. Since we must go two or three months without hugs or kisses on the forehead from loving parents during breaks, we cherish the time we have together until the call of school beckons us to return. I love waking up to a home full of memories. These past experiences are both enjoyable and deplorable. However, taking the time to come home and be with my family has improved my relationships with them more than I ever hoped for. I choose to make them a priority in my life when it comes to breaks from college and so should you. Together, memories are made that can never be replaced or replicated.

If you seem to find yourself not wanting to go home because of family problems or other issues, I encourage you to not forget that family is important, if not the most important thing in life. It is a good thing to reconcile relationships before the opportunity has passed. Always make time for the (second)[1] most valuable relationship in your life: family.

Written by Maddie

 

[1] The first most valuable relationship is with Jesus Christ.

Photo credits: bluemarblegod.com and brassmonkeyshow.com

The Testing Dead

Did you know that DBU has its own version of the Walking Dead? This version comes about every so often whenever something negative happens, like Chick-Fil-A being closed, the internet being down, or finals week. While the two former problems are typically temporary and resolved after some patience, the latter is something that can bite us and infect our attitude. However, in order to be a real finals survival expert, you need to be prepared. Please allow me to be the Rick Grimes to your Carl Grimes.

First, you must know your enemy. The zombies that we fight come in the form of papers and Scantrons. There are different types, such as English, Math, or Psychology. Each one requires different types of preparation, but the method is the same. In order to fully know your enemies, you must study them. It is recommended to study a minimum of one hour for every class period. Keep in mind that studying is no substitute for being in class and getting experience. Both are equally important and one cannot be done without the other. Studying prepares you for facing the undead creatures that plague you during this week of supposed terror. It’s always good to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse before it happens, after all.

What are some methods for studying? I’m glad I asked! I bet you are too. You’re welcome. The classic method is reading and reviewing notes. Most assuredly, you have been taking notes in class, right? Right? Right. Along with rereading the chapters that the final will cover, reread your notes over those chapters. Make sure your notes contain things that the professor has mentioned are important. Things written on the board are typically important, so you should write them down, too. Another classic method is to use flash cards. (No, Mr. Zombie, flAsh cards. With an A.) Write some questions on one side and the answers on the other and quiz yourself. (This also applies to learning about zombies.)

Next, you must make sure your body is ready. During this apaperlypse (patent pending), you need to keep your body in good shape. The most important part of this is to make sure you get sleep. If you’re exhausted before you face the test, then you won’t be able to bring your a-game and then you get bitten by a zombie and then you start to turn and then someone has to shoot you and it gets messy. DBU doesn’t have a zombie disposal unit. Trust me, I’ve checked. Sleep allows your body to rest and recharge so you can take on the challenge of your final.

Now comes the most important thing that any good zombie killer/final taker must do. You must choose your weapons! Against the zombies, you can choose anything from guns to swords to crossbows. Guns alert zombies, though, so I’d recommend using them sparingly. Swords are nice because they do not need ammo and can typically be sharpened and used over and over again. Crossbows are also a good tool since they are long-range and can be reused so long as you retrieve the arrow. So, as a final taker, what weapon do you have? What is your trump card to vanquish your mighty foe?

pencil

The legendary No. 2 Pencil

Sorry, you’re kind of stuck on this one. Scantron Machines have this fascination with Number 2 Pencils. It’s like their favorite candy or something. You get one weapon and typically just one shot. Trust me, though, if you heed my simple advice, one shot is all you’ll need. Probably. Maybe get a good eraser, too.

Finals can be scary. They come across as undead creatures that were raised from the dead by some Necromancer masquerading as a professor. However, you shouldn’t fear these walking dead. When you shine the light on them by studying, they turn out to be pretty harmless. The important thing to remember is to keep a cool head. Fretting over finals will only put you in more danger of becoming like one of the undead. Remember my tips and you should be fine! Don’t remember them, and well… good luck out there.

cute zombie

Actual picture of a Psychology final

Written by Alfred