Giving Up Chocolate is Hard to Do

Easter weekend in the South is always quite an affair. Any proper Southern girl debuts her brand spankin’ new Easter dress, a product of long hours spent online shopping or perusing what the local mall has to offer. As for guys, well, they usually break out the bowties and button-downs in varying shades of pastels. Easter in the South means chocolate (and lots of it – we ain’t ashamed), flowers, Facebook feeds clogged with “Happy Easter!” [insert flower and bunny emojis] or “Easter Sunday with the fam” photos, He is Risen yard signs, and color EVERYWHERE. It’s become quite the cultural event, especially for college students. One hallmark of Easter season is when friends start talking about what they are going to give up for Lent. This is a fairly common occurrence across denominations, even though it originated as part of the Catholic celebration of Easter. For those that genuinely choose to participate in a Lent fast, social media, chocolate, or caffeine are often the targets of this time of “sacrifice.” Some college girls see Lent as the perfect excuse to begin their annual diet.

However, the real reason for Lent is to further one’s relationship with God by attempting to understand, albeit in a minute way, His sacrifice for mankind. Lent mirrors Christ’s fasting during temptation and is a picture of how much He gave up for you and me.  Lent is usually a period of 40 days leading up to Easter; scripturally, 40 day periods served as preparation for something to come.  Noah and his family were on the ark for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, and the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

So what does this have to do with me?

What sacrifices did I make this past Lent season, or can I make in the future, to be a better person? Maybe you’re not into the whole “God” thing. Maybe you find the resurrection of Christ hard to believe.  That’s a certainly understandable and valid viewpoint; nevertheless, one man’s sacrifice for the lives of many ought to inspire me to live in a selfless manner, regardless of my personal religious beliefs (or the lack thereof).  What can I give up to grow as a person, whether I’m catholic, protestant, or couldn’t care less about either one of those lifestyles?

That said, what does this have to do with Southern, college student me?

As I pondered the idea of giving up something for Lent, all the options that came to mind certainly made me cringe a little on the inside. Netflix. Nutella, breakfast of champions. Chick-Fil-A. Starbucks. Social media *GASP*. (Actually, if we’re going to be truthful, it was more like a giant wave of consternation slapping me right in the face. But I digress.) However, I think I was missing the point. Lent and Easter weren’t meant to make life miserable for a period of 40 days so I can remember how miserable Christ must have been. They were meant to remind us that because of Jesus’ incredible, painful, sacrifice, we don’t have to live devoid of hope and purpose and joy. He gave His life so that we don’t have to spend our lives in constant sacrifice, trying to earn acceptance from God or somebody else. Easter and Lent are celebrations of that freedom. So when I give up something as insignificant as collegiate comfort food (as difficult as that may be), I can be reminded of and rejoice in God’s great sacrifice for me. And that, my friends, is the point of Lent – experiencing the joy of His selfless love. This Easter, may you grow into a new and better person, and may you know just how much you are loved.

Ephesians 3:14-19: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Written by Carilee

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The Cleansing of the Brumbies

There I stood, knee deep in mud. Surrounding me were about 50 men and women. Each of us wore a few rubber bands on our wrists. We were all together in the middle of a giant, disgusting mud pit. All of a sudden, a young man standing about twenty feet in front of me yelled through a megaphone, “You gotta get dirty brumbies! Mud should be on more than just your knees!” After he finished speaking I glanced to my left and noticed a fellow in his late thirties rubbing mud into his thick black beard. On my right, a tall woman was massaging mud onto her arms. I decided that although it seemed vile and horrendous to do so, I had better get real dirty as well. To accomplish this I lowered myself down until every part of my body except my head was immersed in mud. I then got up and put mud under my eyes like a football player. Now I was ready. Outside of the mud pit, a lone man stood in front of a wide pathway that cut through a thick forest. Without warning, that man faced the path and screamed, “The brumbies are ready; come and get ‘em!” For a moment, everything was silent. Then the forest came alive with the screams of elementary school children as they charged out from the path towards the mud pit. Without thought for their own cleanliness, the hordes of children waded into the mud and began their attack, attempting to rip the rubber bands off of the wrists of the men and women in the mud pit. From there, chaos ensued. I was quickly tackled into the mud by three children who would stop at nothing to get my rubber bands. I returned their attack by standing up and lightly tossing one of the children into the mud. I don’t really remember much about the next fifteen minutes of that game. All I know is that my rubber bands were eventually stripped from my arms and I ended up covered in mud.

That game is a very popular one at the Pine Cove Christian Camps. As far as I know it does not have an official name, but we workers lovingly referred to it as “brumbies.” Supposedly, the object of the game was for the children to obtain as many of our rubber bands as they possibly could. The real object of the game, however, is to get dirty. Honestly, that is all that brumbies was to the kids. It was nothing more than an excuse to get themselves and the workers as dirty as possible. And they certainly did so. In fact, after that game I was the dirtiest I have ever been in my entire life. I was covered in layer upon layer of mud and it was everywhere. I am pretty sure that you could not see a single patch of skin on me. The mud was so bad that it got into the eyes of some of the stout and manly grown men and made them cry! At no other point in my life have I ever wanted to take a shower more than I did then.

I think that the sheer dirtiness of that game provides a great example of our sin. After I played brumbies I was the dirtiest that I have ever been, but it did not even compare to how disgusting I am because of sin. The entire world is covered in that sin. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That verse excludes no one. The Greek word for “all” in that verse is “pantes,” which means every single one of a category. This means that no one can escape their sin. Every single person deserves an eternity of death and pain.

And yet, there is a way for us to escape that eternal condemnation. How can that be possible? Well, that is where Good Friday comes in. On that day Christ took all of our sins upon himself and offered us forgiveness through the cross.

I can’t imagine the pain that Christ must have gone through at that point. Just envision all of that mud and disgusting slop that covered the bodies of the men and women involved in the brumby game. Now imagine that all of that gross dirtiness covers not just the Pine Cove workers, but also the entire world. Take that disgustingness and multiply it times ten. Then visualize all of that revolting filthiness being poured into a cup. In order for us to be saved, Christ drank that cup on Good Friday.

Paul follows the sad news of Romans 3:23 with the glad tidings that “They [Christians] are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” To be justified means to be made right with the law. In order for that to happen, we would have to be perfect. This means that there is absolutely no way that anyone could ever be justified on his/her own. But because of his deep love for us, Jesus Christ laid down his life on Good Friday and made it so that we could be justified through him for free.

good friday

This is a very important thing for us to remember every day, but it is even more important to be reminded of it during Good Friday. Christ loved us so much that he cleansed us of all our brumby slop. My desire for each of you this Good Friday is that you will look back on what Christ did for us and marvel at the beauty of His compassion. I hope you have a Good Friday full of somber remembrance and celebration of Jesus Christ’s unending love for us.

Written by Nathan

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To Travel or Not to Travel?

It’s the tease before the summer, yet the gladly welcomed rest after returning to school from winter holiday. Spring Break is a weeklong siesta/fiesta that is the turning point for the semester. Many observe this holiday by traveling to beaches around the country to party away the stress from school. Others take the opportunity to answer the call of Jesus and go on mission trips to various cities, states, and countries around the world. Whatever one chooses to do, it is always a sad occurrence when the end of the week draws near, and it becomes a realization that the break can’t last forever.

So before this post gets sappy over a short-lived holiday, let’s talk about the options everyone has. There isn’t a perfect way to spend the break. Depending on who you talk to, millions of ideas could be brought forth on how to best spend your time. Some people party or go on mission trips as stated before. Then, you have those who choose to go home and spend time with family and others who choose to take a class to get ahead.

spring break

Personally, I’ve never been a homebody. When it comes to traveling or going on an adventure, I am the first to volunteer for the ride. It always amazes me to see what sites and experiences lay just outside my hometown. Knowing that the plan is never written in stone creates a sense of wonder and adrenaline inside my bones. However, for many, this is a golden opportunity to sneak away and spend some time resting with their families. They get to sleep in their own beds, or the couch if their room has been refurbished, and have the blessing of a home-cooked meal. It’s a week of bliss and love at home.

Whether you are ahead, behind, or right on track with your major, an extra course can serve as another hill easily conquered on the road to a degree. Who wouldn’t mind spending one week to receive the one to four credits that they would otherwise earn in an entire semester? Yeah, it’s one week meant for rest and relaxation, but it is quite a bit better than the alternative of spending an entire semester over something that could be accomplished in five to seven days. Being an education major myself, I definitely plan on taking advantage of this time in order to take care of a general course requirement.

So whatever you plan on doing for this week of potential euphoria, make it a worth your while. The world is your oyster, and the only thing holding you back is you, or money if you’re a poor college student like me.

Written by Maddison

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10 Survival Tips for College Freshmen

I’ve been in college for all of five weeks, so I’m pretty much an expert now. Yet even in my limited time, I’ve gained some insights into which habits help me thrive and which ones make me prone to breakdown in front of a Disney movie, scribbling away my sorrows in a coloring book. (Target has coloring books for two dollars…but you didn’t hear that from me.)

1: Nap whenever possible.

But always, always set an alarm. It’s cute how you think you won’t fall asleep for more than twenty minutes. Ha!

2: Eat Grab and Go Food

Those pre-packaged sandwiches and salads by the door of the cafeteria? Yeah, you aren’t above them. Try it next time you need to eat lunch in a hurry. You’ll more than likely never go back to the dark side.

3: Coffee.

Who are we? Students! What are we? Tired! What do we need in an IV right now? Coffee! If you aren’t a coffee drinker, become one. Personally, I don’t believe that tea cuts the mustard, but you may certainly try it. *pats head*

4: Take dat shuttle.

You’re not too cool for the shuttle. I know that when school first starts, we’re all forming huddle circles, chanting about our mutual determination to not gain the freshmen fifteen. But walking across campus five times a day with thirty pounds of books on your back gets real old real fast. Who knows? The shuttle drivers could become your best friends. They’re usually pretty nice people when they don’t almost close the sliding door against your backpack on your way out.

5: Look pitiful in order to score rides

I don’t know about you, but at my university, all freshmen are required to park their cars at the bottom of the hill, near the entrance. Meanwhile, our dorms are up the giant, steep hill. And lemme tell ya, coming back to campus on a Sunday night and trying to walk up the dark hill while carrying your laundry and your books, isn’t the jolliest thing I’ve ever done. At times, upperclassmen are kind enough to offer rides in their snazzy vehicles that get to park wherever they choose. Yet in order to ensure a ride, I would recommend walking with a hunched back, drooping your shoulders, and dragging your feet. If possible, play the sad Charlie Brown theme as you walk.

6: Nap

Oh, did I mention napping? It’s worth repeating: Nap!

7: Get a Planner

Get ready, this is an actual piece of advice. Your phone won’t cut it. What if you lose it, or it dies at a crucial moment when you need a reminder? It’s time to go back to the primitive ages of pen and paper.

8: Find an Outlet to Keep Sane

I’m currently watching Parks and Rec for the second time whenever I need to wind down. And you know what? I appreciate it much more this time around. Sometimes, all you need is a laugh to remind that you are indeed a human, and not a studying robot. Go rest in a hammock, look at the stars, watch Netflix. Whatever your relaxation method is, allot a small amount of time for it every day.

9: Don’t, spend, your, money!

What’s a savings account? I don’t know anymore, cause it’s practically all gone *sobs*. The other day, I unashamedly washed out of my coffee cup with Sauve shampoo…listen, we didn’t have any dish soap, and I’m pretty sure it got the job done. See? Frugality encourages creativity.

10: And Finally…

Don’t forget to nap. 😉

I don’t want to be cheesy, but I do want to wish you gouda luck with the rest of your semester. We’re all in this together!

Written by Karoline

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