Fantastic

The idea of fantasy is interesting to me. The word itself holds a lot of intrigue, drawing me in like a moth to a flame. I’ve always thought of fantasies as escapes from the doldrums of ordinary life—things to distract me from particularly long and sleep-inducing activities. My mind is a wild place most of the time, and I can imagine some amazing circumstances for myself in daydreams. I’m excited by all the possibilities of what my life could be like; in fact, sometimes I am obsessed with them.

What’s wrong with this picture? I love thinking up adventures for myself. I love imagining myself as the person I want to be, imagining situations with the outcomes I want them to have, imagining problems solved the way I want them to be solved, imagining people acting the way I want them to act. The problem is that the world around me does not conform to my design. Living in my fantasies can easily persuade me that real life is not good enough or even worth living. I used to find it a daunting challenge to reconcile the way things really are with the way I want things to be. I’ve definitely become more realistic with years of practice, and I’d like to say I’ve mastered the quality of focusing on my present reality, but lately I’ve found myself drifting into daydreams just a bit too often.

God is always teaching me who I truly am. I used to think I was a dreamer, but now I know He has called me to be a doer. I do lots of things, from schoolwork to my job as a receptionist here at the Writing Center to the volunteer service I accomplish with my church. My daydreams don’t always coincide with the things I do in reality, and I’m still learning that that’s okay. Just because I fantasize about a day when I’ve already earned my degree and obtained a job in my field doesn’t mean I’m at that point in reality. On a more spectacular scale, just because I fantasize that I’m a crime-fighting superhero with the powers of flight and invisibility doesn’t mean that experience will occur in my real life.

superhero

The concept I’m trying to focus on these days is that, even though not all of my fantasies are destined to come true, my actual life is an amazing adventure. It’s so much better than my fantasies because it’s real!  Of course, some of my dreams are worth seeking, but many of my favorite experiences are things I never imagined would happen to me. Like my dad always tells me, “Wherever you go, there you are.” It sounds ridiculous, but it reminds me that focusing on my present circumstances and work rather than wishing I was in a different situation is so much more effective in the way of doing the good works God has prepared for me (Ephesians 2:10). It’s important for me to train my heart to be content and have the joy of the Lord in all situations (Philippians 4:12). Keeping my heart rooted in this truth allows me to pour my heart into the things I do in real life—my schoolwork, job at the UWC, and service with my church—and to do all those things to the best of my ability (Colossians 3:23). I can thoroughly enjoy everything I do and grow as much as possible with every new experience.

There’s nothing wrong with fantasies. They are a great place for my mind to rest when I’m going through a rough time and need to keep in mind the good things that God has for my future. Imagining those things, hoping for them, and knowing that God keeps all His promises to me are all acts of my faith (Hebrews 11:1). There is, however, a difference between walking in faith that God has wonderful things in store for me and living in a daydream where I can’t do any of the good works He’s laid out in my present. I am so grateful that I have a great, good heavenly Father to keep me grounded so that I don’t miss out on my awesome reality.

Written by Becca

Image credits:

http://thedreamersof.tumblr.com/quit-tips

http://worldsuperheros.blogspot.com/2013/02/female-super-hero.html

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God’s Green Earth: A Christian Perspective on Earth Day

Since the beginning of humanity, someone has been fighting to conserve something. Whether that’s trees or hippopotamuses, there is always an organization holding rallies or conventions. Now that’s all well and important; everything deserves to have a voice fighting for it in this fast-paced, busy world. The same can be said for the environment itself. Earth Day is the one day a year, April 22, where millions of people from around the world gather to bring awareness to the environment and to hopefully influence legislation on the matter.

It all started in the 1960s when life seemed to be care-free, and everyone drove leaded-gas guzzling cars that released toxic smoke and sludge into the atmosphere without a second thought of the consequences (“The History”). With the “publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962”, environmental issues were moved into the spotlight (“The History”). Building upon the momentum caused by the release of the book, Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, founded the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. On that historic day, more than 20 million Americans from across the country gathered in various locations to raise awareness on environment issues (“The History”). This coming together of people from all ethnicities, ages, social status’, and religions was an amazing feat and “led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts” (“The History”).

ocean

Every decade following the first Earth Day has been bigger and better than the last. “In 1990, Earth Day went global, [by] engaging 200 million people [from] 141 countries” (Doray para. 3). “Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day” with the global nature of the 1990 Earth Day (“The History”). Not wanting to lose impact, Earth Day 2010 faced some opposition coming in the form of cynicism versus activism. “The Earth Day Network helped to re-establish Earth Day as a relevant, powerful focal point” by bringing “250,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, [launching] . . . A Billion Acts of Green . . . that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and [engaging] 22,000 partners in 192 countries [who observe] Earth Day” (“The History”).

As anyone can see, Earth Day has grown in importance and impact since its founding in 1970. So what does God say about the environment and all that good stuff? What is the Christian Perspective of Earth Day? Well, in Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Yes, as Christians, we are to work the ground. That is, use it to produce food and build civilizations. However, we are also called to keep it, protect it, sustain it. Earth Day is a great way to engage and act on God’s command to protect the earth. Whether that comes in the form of planting a tree or rallying together with others to help influence legislation, the options are endless on how to better God’s creation.

Written by Maddison

Doray, Andrea. “Giving Back to the Planet on Earth Day.” Arvada Press.com. 2015. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.

“The History of Earth Day.” Earthday.org. Earth Day Network, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

Image credits: http://www.ecosourcetechnologies.com/newsite/earth-day-2013-time-to-highlight-energy-efficiency-and-sustainability/

http://habiba.ummahdesignblog.com/2013/01/30/what-does-the-ocean-look-like/

Mending Failing Friendships

To put things plainly, friendships are hard. While friendships with little difference of opinion can be fruitful, those with many differences are incredible character builders. At times, it may feel like a friendship isn’t worth your time and only brings stress, but through communication, patience, and putting pride to the side, a friendship can turn a corner and prove to be worth the effort.

It is important to have people to turn to in times of trial, but when the people chosen to be a source of comfort turn into a source of hostility, ending the friendship seems to be the logical thing to do. However, cutting all ties with people we are friends with can be more detrimental than staying in that toxic relationship and trying to resolve things.

Recently, the girls in my friend group, myself included, have been experiencing a strain in our friendship. I will not mention names or events that have occurred, but I will say it has led to avoidance, awkwardness, anger, sadness, and bitterness.

One of the girls and I decided to talk to our RA about the things we have been dealing with and discuss whether or not we should discontinue being friends with the other girls or not. She encouraged us through a quote: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” She said to talk about ideas or ways to resolve the situation instead of talking about the other girls. Talking about what the girls did wrong is merely gossip. It only spurs on the harboring of bitterness. We decided the best way to smooth everything out is to have an open conversation with our RA as a mediator.

There are many obligations demanding our attention: busy schedules, academics, work, volunteer responsibilities, etc., so it can be hard to find time to put aside for spending quality time with friends. Yet, quality time is so important in keeping the lines of communication open. It is important to recognize that sometimes the problem in a relationship can be personal pride. When trying to decide if a friendship is worth the time to fix, we have to not only look at what the other person has done to make us feel a certain way but also discern how we got to that point in the first place.

As a Christian, I am called to love. In the Bible, 1 John 4:20 states, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” If I don’t show at least some effort in understanding how the other person in the relationship feels, then I am being prideful, and for me, pride leads to anger. I struggle with anger. And, when I feel neglected by people, I shut them out and push the idea of repairing the friendship to the side. However, when I do this, it just causes me pain because I lost what could have been a valuable friendship.

Not trying to repair a broken friendship and, instead, removing a person from our lives causes us to have unresolved problems in our past friendships that haunt us and affect us negatively on an unconscious level. Fixing a friendship is usually worth the time and effort. Communication and expressing yourself are essential in cultivating a great relationship, and human relationships are really the foundation of our civilization and a true source of happiness.

Written by Cheyanne

Image credit: http://ih2.redbubble.net/image.4389569.4144/flat,550×550,075,f.u2.jpg

Baseball is for You

My love affair with baseball started early. As a kid I was obsessed with Sammy Sosa, and even named a pet squirrel after him. As a teenager, I opted out of a sweet sixteen birthday party in exchange for tickets to a Fourth of July baseball game. In my twenties, I’m ready and willing to marry a baseball player. Needless to say, there is no need to tell me that today, Opening Day of baseball season 2016, is a day to celebrate. I’ve been ready since the final third out of the 2015 World Series.

But if the crack of the bat, the vibes of an ecstatic crowd, or the buzz of full count strike doesn’t excite you personally, that’s okay. Baseball isn’t for everyone.

Except that, actually, it is.

No matter what you’ve previously thought about baseball, the truth is that the game has more to offer than most people realize. Whether you’ve been counting down the hours to Opening Day, or you couldn’t name a professional team if your life depended on it, the 2016 season has something to offer you. Here is a brief rundown of all the things you can expect from baseball this year. I dare you not to find at least one thing that sparks your interest.

Math Geeks: Today happens to be Square Root Day. This means that the day and the month are the square root of the last two digits of the year 4/4/16 (For those like me who haven’t been in math since high school, that means 4×4=16). This is the first time Opening Day and Square Root Day have ever crossed paths.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Fanatics: The Boston Red Sox will be hosting a Grateful Dead night in April, while the Giants will be rocking to Metallica in May. Likewise, the Marlins will be having a night of tribute to the band Journey. (If pop and hip-hop is more your style, you might just want to become a Miami Marlins fan. They’ve also scheduled post-game concerts from Jake Miller, Charli XCX, and Salt-N-Pepa.)

Elvis Gurus: Naturally, the King must be honored. Expect fireworks from the White Sox in August, and don’t be surprised if you see an impersonator or two running around.

Jedi Masters and Other Citizens of a Galaxy Far, Far Away: The Red Sox, Reds, A’s, Phillies, Giants, and Rangers will all be using the force in 2016. I can’t tell you what to expect, but I know for a fact that there were free shirts for the fans and couple of droids running around last season. Darth Vader also may have made a few appearances.

darth vader baseball

Irish Descendants: For some reason both the White and the Red Sox will be celebrating “Half-way to St. Patrick’s Day” this season. If you love your Irish roots and want a cool hat, these are the baseball games for you.

Mexican Heritage Seekers: The Chicago White Sox are giving away free t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, and, in a possible attempt to appease the mob, there will also be a celebration of Italian heritage the following day.

Ethnic Pride: Actually, almost every culture can expect recognition from Major League Baseball this season: African American, Polynesian, Italian, Deaf, Filipino, Jewish, Native American, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Asian Pacific, and Chinese heritage will all be celebrated at various stadiums throughout the year.

Businesspeople: The Cincinnati Reds understand that the business world is grueling, which is why they are hosting several business days throughout the 2016 season. If you drop off your business card you will have a chance to win free tickets to the next business day game. Bring the whole office!

Hello Kitty Collectors: If a certain Japanese kitten warms your heart, you will be pleased to know that the San Francisco Giants will be giving away Hello Kitty bobbleheads in July. And if you miss that opportunity, just swing by the Oakland Athletics a few days later and try again.

Comic Book Lovers: The San Francisco Giants have you covered. Yes, the in-game entertainment will be comic book themed. Yes, you may dress up as your favorite character.  And yes, Stan Lee will be in attendance. I am not making this up.

Dog Owners: Nearly every team has some sort of “Bark in the Park” day like the one the Texas Rangers have hosted the past several years.  Fans are encouraged to bring their furry friends along to watch the game with them. For dog lovers who don’t own a pet, this is a great way to get your puppy fix, much better than adoption day at PetSmart.

darth vader baseball

Trekkies: Fear not Star Trek fans, the Star Wars hype did not stop San Francisco from planning a night just for you. They know that your franchise has a 50 year anniversary in 2016, and they want to help you commemorate the special occasion.

Stormchasers: Later this month, celebrate the height of tornado season by watching the Cleveland Indians take on the Mariners during Weather Education Day at Progressive Field.

Shakespearean Lovers: If you love Shakespeare, I must assume that you also love a good case of irony. In an ironic twist of fate, the Atlanta Braves will play their final game of 2016 at their current stadium, Turner Field on the exact 20 year anniversary of the final game they played at their previous field, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Needlepoint Crafters: Even you have a place in the baseball world! The Phillies will host their 10th annual Stich n’ Pitch where fans are encouraged to “knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stich, and needlepoint all while enjoying Phillies baseball.”

ladies man baseball

Peanut Allergy Sufferers: As the big sister of a guy who used to be severely allergic to peanuts, I know it can be difficult to avoid nuts, especially in the setting of a ballpark. The Toronto Blue Jays don’t want this to be a reason a person misses out on the game of baseball. They will have 19 “Peanut/Nut Reduced” games this season. This means that specific suites will be thoroughly cleaned and reserved for families affected by nut allergies. No peanut products will be allowed inside these areas, and a special menu will be provided for fans seated in this section. Props to you, Toronto.

Everyone Else: If you’re still not convinced that baseball has something to offer you, consider that Boy Scout day, teacher appreciation night, Oktoberfest, autism awareness day, law enforcement officer appreciation night, Pride night, Bruce Lee appreciation day, American patriotism celebrations, nights of faith/fellowship, and senior citizen recognitions will all be happening this baseball season.

My question for you now is this: What are you waiting for? It’s Opening Day. America’s pastime is officially in full swing, and that is something worth commemorating. Baseball is a game that has something to offer for everyone, so start celebrating Opening Day like it was meant for you, because it is. Happy baseball season!

Written by Savanna

Image credits:

Savanna Mertz

http://www.lonestarball.com/2015/5/4/8548641/game-25-game-day-thread-texas-rangers-at-houston-astros

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/the-scene/events/Dodgers-to-Add-a-Second-Dog-Day-153692585.html

http://www.philsimaging.com/Events/Stitch-N-Pitch/i-DCwsQZC