Supernatural Sleep

Sleep is an idea that’s never wandered far from my heart. Just to paint a picture of how much I’ve always enjoyed sleep, my mom says that when I was little she used to lose track of me for entire afternoons at a time. She would look all over the house, worried sick, and finally find that I’d just been asleep in my bed the entire time. Lately, I haven’t been able to sleep. For whatever reason, my heart has begun racing every Saturday night, like it’s excited about something I don’t know about. I’ve been looking all over, asking everyone I know for tips on how to relax before bedtime and get a good night’s rest. What I found, instead of direct information on relaxation and how to get to sleep, were fundamental ideas of how I should think of sleep in general.  This valuable, new knowledge of what sleep is has changed my sleeping habits radically. Now that I understand what my sleep means to me, relaxation and falling asleep come naturally once again.

I know I perform better during the day if I’ve had a solid, restful seven to nine hours of sleep the night before. The days after I’ve had a good night’s sleep are always the easiest for me to have a positive outlook and attitude in everything I do. It’s easy for me to be especially nice to the people around me on days when I feel rested. Knowing that days are easier to tackle when I’m rested makes it all the more stressful for me when I can’t sleep. I lay in bed, awake, worrying that I’ll be exhausted and more easily prone to anger the next day; it’s miserable because I know that sleep is of the utmost importance for me.

I have learned that tomorrow’s day actually begins at tonight’s sunset. What I mean is that, by getting a good night’s sleep tonight, I will be ready to run with the day tomorrow. Thinking of sleep as the end of my day made it extremely easy for me to write it off as the bottom of my priority list. It became less important to me than almost every other task. Sleep didn’t even register on my mental to-do list until I was finished with homework and other obligations, and it was already time for me to get ready for bed. Knowing that sleep is important enough to be the key to an easy day brings it to the forefront of my mind. Lately, I wake up in the morning feeling victorious, like I’ve already accomplished a huge feat by sleeping well through the night. Let me just say that feeling triumphant every morning definitely affects my entire attitude throughout every day.

After discussing the subject of sleep with my dad and my brother, I realize that sleep is a vital time when I encounter God. God often communicates with me in my dreams.  I can remember vivid dreams I’ve had in the past that have given me answers to questions I’d been asking myself while awake. I also know now that being at peace is an essential part of falling asleep and staying asleep through the night, since I’ve experienced a  lack of sleep caused by stress and excitement first-hand. Expecting to encounter God in my sleep makes it easy for me to remember that He has already provided me with the fruit of the Spirit, including the peace I need to relax at night before falling asleep (Galatians 5:22-23).

little mermaid

The random excitement I’ve been feeling on Saturday nights makes me think of that scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel watches Prince Eric on the beach and realizes that somewhere, somehow, circumstances are being lined up for her dreams to come true. Until I find out exactly what circumstances are being lined up for my dreams to come true, I need to sleep at night. After much searching and asking everyone I know for answers, I think I’ve finally found some ideas about ways to sleep that work for me. Understanding what sleep means to me and how it affects me every day has been the key in finally getting the rest I’ve needed.

Written by Becca

Image credits:

http://colourmeanna-com.cloud.hosting-toolkit.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/garfield_free_sleep.jpg?w=550

https://www.pinterest.com/leilamounji/me-aka-ariel-my-love-in-life-the-little-mermaid/

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Writing Pet Peeves

While I certainly haven’t read every book under the sun, I’ve come across various types of written works during my journey as a reader. From stumbling through Dr. Suess as a five year-old to dissecting ancient Greek plays as a college student, I have witnessed a plethora of writing types, styles, and mechanisms. Though the wonderful, vast world of literature has greatly enriched my life, along the way, I’ve picked up on multiple things that I disdain, too. Yes, I really do have writing pet peeves. Most readers probably know what I’m talking about. When I was in high school English, one of my often-expressed pet peeves was, “If Charles Dickens goes into another four page monologue AGAIN…I’m going to throw this book in the bird feeder in hopes that the crows ravage it.” I interviewed a few of my co-workers in the University Writing Center to get a few outside opinions, and I think we compiled a pretty convincing list of complaints. I hereby declare that if any author includes one of the following literary nuisances into his or her work that they shall be banned from the creative world. Because that’s what creativity is all about, right? Conforming to one idea and squashing out all outside opinions…no? Oh well; I’m still going to share my pet peeves anyway.

  1. Using fragments excessively (see what I did their…I mean THERE. We’ll talk about that later, I’m getting ahead of myself.)

My friend, Alfred, described to me a reading experience in which the author was so prone to beginning new chapters and scenes with small sentence fragments that he was too annoyed to finish reading the story. I know what he means. We’ve all stumbled across that YA suspense novel that’s attempting to twist every emotion inside us by throwing grammatically nauseating half ideas at us.  It might read a little something like this,

Darkness. Can’t see. Hands sweat. I grip again. Nothing. All is lost. Where am I? Oh, that’s right. Work again. Burger King at four in the morning. Simply mind-numbing. I can’t stand it. This blasted job. The sizzle of the fries rings in my ears. No hope. Just carbs. Woe is me.

  1. Over-poeticizing

Similar to sentence fragments, the attempt to come across as deep and poetic can often appear as just the opposite. The author might think that those hard-hitting, three word sentences can’t possibly grow old, but let me tell ya, readers catch on fast. Maybe at first we released a dreamy sigh when we saw that darling metaphor, something probably akin to, His eyes sparkled as a forgotten ship still dreaming of sailing in glory, which now rests at the bottom of the vast azure sea. Yet, when these types of pathos-infused sentences are consistently written throughout a story, it’s tiring. It can even be annoying, and in my personal experience, it may entirely turn the reader off to the point of the story. Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing, concerning this.

  1. Using the wrong word

My coworker, Nathan, presented this pet peeve as well. There’s nothing more frustrating, especially when texting or emailing, when our dear friends, whom we love despite their flaws, can’t seem to grasp the concept of using the correct “there” or “to” or “your.” I’d like to take all of these offenders on a friendly picnic which includes both a quaint wicker basket full of bite-sized sandwiches and a grilling grammar lesson. My hope in this endeavor is that they would walk away informed and determined to not cause further literary confusion in their writing. You’re welcome. See? It isn’t so hard to get the hang of it.

  1. John Green

*Listens to sound of teenage girls banging my front door with pitchforks as I sip coffee safely indoors* No, you didn’t that read that wrong. And YES, I am a warm-blooded, fully-human, teenage girl. I am John Green’s target audience, and yet, I cannot stand his writing. I know he means well and that his stories have harped the heart strings of millions of adolescents worldwide. However, I just can’t take it seriously, and I find it a little humorous that I am supposed to find his stories serious. To be fair, I have only read two of his novels. I tried to read The Fault in our Stars when it was at the height of its literary fame. I mean, everyone was talking about it and my friends begged me to read it. I gave it a whack. I pretty much gagged through the whole first chapter. I mean, Mr. Green, I know you’re trying to be relatable and all, but neither Hazel Grace nor Augustus Waters were believable to me. Sorry, but my peers don’t engage in philosophical conversations which end up not being philosophical in the slightest. I’m down for reading about thought-provoking ideas, but not when they are presented through ludicrous scenarios. I’m merely saying that as a teenage girl, I would find it more weird than romantic if a boy confessed his love to me and immediately followed it up with, “and I know that love is just a shout into the void.” Then like…why say it, moron?

Though these annoyances have merely scratched the surface, I’d like to think they cover some of the most grieving irritations to be found. However, don’t let these get you down. Reading has a lot to offer. Chances are, you aren’t as cynical as I, and you will probably learn a great deal from your reading experiences. But if you do happen to notice any writing habits that really burst your bubble…*evil grin* tweet meeee! Let’s be friends.

Written by Karoline Ott

Personal Twitter: @Karoline_Ott

UWC Twitter: @dbu_uwc

Image credit: https://thecreativecavern.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/everyone-is-a-reader-some-just-havent-found-their-favorite-book-yet.jpg

Works Cited

Goodreads Inc. “A Quote from The Fault in Our Stars.” Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., 2016. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

My Daddy’s Hands

As a child, I hardly noticed it: how hard he worked and the gradual toll it was taking on his health. For the longest time, I thought men were born with hands as worn and callused as his. I loved his hands, though rough and dry, and as I grew, I began to examine them more closely.

“Daddy, where’d you get these scratches from?” I’d ask, holding his tired hands in mine while sitting in his lap. “Oh, I got those from a box cutter. I’ve been crawling through an attic all day installing air ducts.” It seemed like every day his hands could tell a completely different story. “Daddy, why is your thumb nail blue? Did you paint it?” I’d ask, smiling. “No, sweetie,” he’d reply with a grin, “That’s not paint. I smashed it at work today and it bruised. It’ll only be like that for a little while.”

dad

 

I loved hearing my daddy’s work stories and asking him questions about his scars and scrapes and bruises. He was the epitome of Superman, and at times, I thought he was invincible. To this day, I continue to ask him questions about his hands, arms, and legs, yet I no longer find the same amusement in his responses.

“Daddy, why are you limping tonight?” I ask, for it is becoming a common occurrence. “My knees just start giving out around this time. They’ll be better in the morning.” “Dad, why are you dragging your arm like that?” I question. I’ve noticed he’s been favoring it lately. “Oh, don’t worry about it. The doctor thinks I’ve torn my rotator cuff. I might need surgery, but it’ll be back to normal in no time.” This is the most recent response I’ve received, and my stomach churns because of it.

dad2.png

My dad has worked the same job for my entire life. He’s worked days, nights, and many weekends for as long as I can remember. Why? Because he wants nothing more than to provide anything his family needs or desires. My dad works circles around his coworkers. People from cities and states across the nation wait days for service because they would rather have my dad’s hands working on their houses than anyone else’s. My dad is known, not only for his hard work and dedication, but for his honesty and loyalty to his customers. My dad loves his family more than anything else in the world, even when we fail to appreciate him for everything he does for our well-being.

Tears fill my eyes as I write these things about my daddy. He is one of my strongest role models, and I don’t do enough to show him how much he means to me. However, this alone is not the sole reason for my remorse. My heart is even more contrite by the lack of appreciation shown for my other dad: my Heavenly Father.

Like my dad, my Heavenly Father has worked the same job for my entire life. He’s been there by day, night, and every single weekend. Why? Because He wants nothing more than to provide for the needs and desires of His children. My Father works circles around all others. People from many cities, states, and countries around the world call upon Him daily because they desire my Father’s hands to work and move in their hearts and households. My Father is known, not only for His love, diligence, and dedication, but for His honesty and loyalty to those who rely on Him. My Father loves me more than anything else in the world, even when I fail to appreciate Him for everything He does for my well-being.

I can’t even imagine what our Father’s hands must look like. I wonder if they’re as worn and coarse as my daddy’s. Unlike my dad’s, His work never ceases. He is constantly building and creating and working for our good. He takes no breaks. He receives no vacations. Yet, I’m sure that His hands remain as strong as the love He has for us. Wouldn’t you think?

This Father’s Day, I encourage you to talk to your dad. I’m not talking about a simple “thank you” or “I love you.” Tell him how much he truly means to you. Take a long, hard look at his hands and recognize how much he might be sacrificing for you. But don’t stop there. Take even more time to talk to your Heavenly Father, and continue to do so as long as His breath is in your lungs.

Happy Father’s Day!

Written by Haley

Image credits: Haley Briggs

Goldfish and Sea Turtles

Today, I want to tell you about one of the most wonderful weeks of my life; but first, you’ll need a little background. As a child, I grew up a missionary kid (MK) in the country of Brazil. If this sounds awesome to you, congratulations. You are correct; it was. Nonetheless, my family and I moved back to America when I was in the eighth grade, right in the middle of Justin Beiber’s heyday. As you might imagine, it was a really tough transition and I’ve never been the same. To this day, I struggle fitting in with American culture. Consequently, I jump at any opportunity to visit Brazil and did just that last November. I was thrilled to help lead a camp for some of the MKs currently residing in Brazil, and it was an absolute blast. Camp was in the city of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, which is a beautiful island off the southeastern coast. It was fun, exciting, and nostalgic for me because I remember participating in the very same camp over eight years ago. I led camp for the teenagers, along with some help from a few college students who were short term missionaries. In the morning we had Bible lessons, activities, and crafts, and in the afternoon we went swimming, went to the beach, or played games outside. Since November is summertime in Brazil, we spent a lot of time outdoors at the beach and at the pool.  During the Bible lessons, I created some challenges for the kids where they could win prizes from a snack box, and let me tell you – they were very competitive! One of my favorite things about the trip was bringing them American gifts and snacks that they missed. Some of the most requested items were Snickers candy bars, Cheeze-Its, Goldfish, fruit snacks, Kit Kats, Reeses, and Rice Krispy Treats. It’s amazing how simple things that Americans often take for granted bring so much joy to MKs.

One of the hardest things about being a missionary kid is the tremendous amount of responsibility you are faced with at very early age. Being constantly concerned about safety, not attracting too much attention as a foreigner (even though you may not feel like a foreigner because of how well you’ve adjusted), and experiencing firsthand the kind of sacrifice that Jesus asks of us to “go and make disciples of all nations” are just a few of the challenges missionary kids face. Having a week of relaxation at camp where you get to be a kid again and also speak English is really important to MKs.  Our main goal was to encourage and bless them, and I think we succeeded. They had a whole lot of fun and went home encouraged and refreshed. Their joyful attitudes were convicting and yet encouraging to me, and I’m confident that I learned more from them than they did from me! I was reminded once again how blessed I am, not only to live in a country like America, but to have been an MK in Brazil. I really miss living in Brazil, and so it was absolutely wonderful for me to return and serve.

After the first week, my friends showed me around Florianópolis. Since the city is on an island, I got to participate in typical beach culture activities. I went sand boarding for the first time (essentially snowboarding down a sand dune bigger than a two-story house), which was totally awesome but terrifying. And you can bet your life that I spent many, many hours at the beach swimming, riding the waves, and hanging out with friends. Also, I now have a great, albeit humiliating, story about falling flat on my face right in front a super attractive Brazilian lifeguard. Then, I played this game called how-much-seafood-is-it-humanly-possible-to-eat-before-I-have-to-leave. (Side note: I think I won.)  Although I didn’t get to hike through the jungle-covered mountains, I did get a lot of good pictures of monkeys and sea turtles. There is an incredible wildlife organization in Florianópolis called Projeto Tamar that helps protect endangered sea turtles, and visiting it was possibly one of the neatest things I have ever experienced.

SEA TURTLE OMG

I know that traveling is hard as a college student because, hello, college students usually don’t have an overabundance of cash. But really, if you get a chance, step outside your comfort zone. Go somewhere new. Experience different cultures. Take lots of photos. There is no better time to explore the world than right now, because the quantity and quality of responsibility usually grows exponentially with age. I hope you take advantage of opportunities to see the world through a new cultural lens. I promise you will be a better person for it, and you’ll have those memories for the rest of your life.

Written by Carilee

Photo credits: Carilee Fore