Three Dads, One Day

Father’s Day signifies something different for every father and child. For many, the day presents precious moments of reflective acknowledgement and expressed appreciation. It can be a time of community in which we have the opportunity to place ourselves in our Fathers’ shoes, to momentarily see our small worlds through their eyes.

Eager to understand how and why Father’s Day is so important to us, I asked some fathers in my Church community some questions about fatherhood and how they felt about Father’s Day.

[Me]: What’s your favorite part of being a dad?

[Dad A]: I’ve loved watching my kids grow closer to God. I’ve loved watching them use their skills and talent to glorify Him!

[Dad B]: My favorite part is the privilege and opportunity I have to father three human beings. I get the chance to disciple them so that they’ll become people who will carry the same legacy.

[Dad C]: When I get to teach them God’s ways and see them following His leading.

[Me]: What are your favorite memories of your children? Do you have any particular parenting experiences that you value most?

[Dad A]: Family holidays for sure. Fishing in Southern England with my kids was one of my favorite things to do. We’d spend weekends and summers laughing together on the beach, climbing rocks, and catching crabs.

[Dad B]: Summer vacations! We got to spend quality time together as a family.

[Dad C]: I think my favorite part was the whole thing: seeing them grow into the people they are now. I love thinking back to the days when they were still dependent on me. They’ve changed so much and have different personalities! I can’t believe how much they have overcome. They faced so many challenges when we moved here to the United States.

[Me]: What do you consider to be your strengths/strong-suits when it comes to being a father?

[Dad A]: I’m not sure if I have strong suits.

[Dad B]: I believe my strength is my ability to meet them at their level. I can be their Dad and their friend at the same time.

[Dad C]: I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my kids.

[Me]: What do you consider to be your shortcomings/areas of improvement when it comes to being a father?

[Dad A]: I have lots of those! I think one thing in particular is that I don’t think I tell them I love them enough.

[Dad B]: My weakness is definitely my temper!

[Dad C]: My weakness is that I don’t want to see my family sad. And I’m really good at spoiling my kids too!

[Me]: Finally, is Father’s Day special to you? If so, why?

[Dad A]: It reminds me of my solemn responsibility to be a Father to my children and it connects me back to the fatherhood of God in my life.

[Dad B]: It feels so special to get all of the attention for a day. You get to feel like you’re passing on a legacy to your kids – especially the love of Christ!

[Dad C]: It’s a time to reflect upon what I am lacking in as a Father, a time to receive my family’s affirmations, and a time to mend and evaluate my shortcomings.

Week after week, I watch these fathers invest their time, love, and wisdom into the lives of their children. I cannot help but think of how privileged we are to have such guardians. I know many do not have the opportunity to experience the protection, guidance, and friendship of an earthly father; but we are all blessed to have a heavenly Father. And if such delight can be found in the love of a human father, how much more in the divine love of our gracious God!

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11 (ESV)

Written by Jeka

Image credit: Jeka Santos

The Pen Dripped Red

To celebrate our recent 100th blog post, the UWC decided we’d look at the most popular blogs from each of our authors.

Mine… was from a year and a half ago.

My boss, who was just asking out of curiosity, inquired what the thesis of my blog post was. With some trepidation, I looked at the document and tried to remind myself what the heck I’d said. My memory was (and is) terrible. And, apparently, my grammar back then was just as equally despicable. I projected my despair to the general populace. How could I possibly reintroduce such a rough blog to the web? I wanted to either fix or re-write the entire thing. My wonderful supervisor thought showing the process of revision was a wonderful idea, and this was born. Behold, the markup of an author revising his own work! Enjoy its glorious, red-filled pages and the extent to which I tear my own words apart as they flee in terror.

evil-laughing-cat

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Presented by Isaac

Image credits: Header image, Evil Laughter Cat

A Guy Writes a Blog About Articles: You Won’t Believe What He Says!

It seems that journalism and what constitutes professional journalism has declined. Instead of articles with content, internet users prefer short video clips or listicles*. If it cannot capture a short attention span, then it is not worthy of time. Let me say that as someone with a love for journalism and writing, this is a travesty. I currently write for a video game-themed website where news and editorials are published daily. I absolutely love writing for the website, and people enjoy reading what I write… most of the time. The problem is that there’s this odd cycle going on that kind of started with a certain website (not naming names, let’s make up a website; I’ll call it “Bearfeed”). Bearfeed thrives on short articles, if they could be called that, and has played a huge role in popularizing them. This website has become popular enough that it is now considered a legitimate news site. It tends to set trends in social media news. It starts something, others copy it, and the sequence starts anew. This can be seen by taking a quick look at Facebook feeds.

I guess this travesty really begins with the problem of attention spans. According to several studies, the average person’s concentrated focus has fallen from 12 to 8 seconds, which is a second shorter than that of a goldfish. In a fast-paced society, people have been trained to focus in short bursts rather than spend considerable time on a task. Furthermore, most seem to be okay with that! People are told that they have short attention spans, accept it, and let it influence the world around them. Because of this, internet writing and journalism in general have taken a hit.

I can’t be the only one tired of seeing those headlines that don’t actually say anything. I’m tired of seeing “X does this, but the result will shock you/stun you/you won’t believe what happens next!” That’s not clever titling. That’s not proper journalism. That’s something known as “clickbaiting.” It tells almost nothing about the article; its sole purpose is to generate clicks, and, therefore, ad revenue. Now, while the purpose of the headline is to draw people in, it should also be to inform people of what the article is about. When I was the editor of my high-school newspaper, our articles had a standard of informative, yet succinct, headlines. Buzz words, or words that drew interest, were used, of course, but with purpose. Titles like “Grace Prep Weathers the Flood” followed by a picture of our flooded parking lot told everyone what they needed to know. If they wanted to know more, they could read about it. It didn’t force them to read it to find out that there had been a flood. If I had written “Rain pours down on school, you won’t believe what happens next,” then people would have only a vague idea of what the article was about.

While readers formerly adored short articles and lists, now, they’re not worth the time it takes to peruse them. Folks see those clickbait titles and ignore them because they know that clicking on them will lead to a website that is probably plagued with ads upon ads. Then readers have to cycle through the webpage in order to find the actual article, and it has become a much longer process than most would like. It’s a vicious cycle that is reducing the human mind to a text conversation. If the article has too many words, it’s not worth the reading, and that’s a problem.

Journalism is dying. We are in an age where people share random articles on Facebook, articles that have no facts behind them and are passed off as news. The reason? People just stopped caring. Somewhere along the line, too many just stopped caring about truth and facts and what is right. Men and women jump to conclusions before looking at the truth and then cry foul when the shot was clearly inside the lines. Online readers have become professionals at jumping the metaphorical gun. This is a sensationalist society with a short attention span, and it’s time for a change.

Today’s culture generally defines itself as ADD. Some people, including many college students, have a deficit when it comes to attention because everything is seeking attention, and many refuse to focus on one thing. It’s become common to treat a lack of focus like a skill and call it multitasking. Instead, readers should concentrate on regaining focus.

In art, there is a point in any given picture called the focal point. This is the center of attention for the piece. It is most easily seen when trying to take a picture on a digital camera that zooms in and out. There will be one ultra-clear spot in the photo, and the rest will have a slight fuzziness because there is supposed to be one main feature in the picture, not multiple. This is how people should be. Individuals need to focus on one thing and give it their undivided attention. When a student sits down to write a paper, he or she should focus on that paper alone, not the paper plus Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else is open on the computer. Doing this will train the mind to have a much longer attention span. An even better way to train is to sit down for long periods of time and read a book without distraction. Finding a quiet spot to relax and read will help create focus on something for a long period of time.

I know I’m an essay in a crowd of paragraph-length articles, but I really hope that society can change this trend. The written word is one of the most beautiful things used by the human race. People write poetry, stories, songs; individuals communicate with one another and keep each other informed. The public can no longer continue to debase what was once so beautiful. Everyone needs to push back against society’s expectations and lengthen attention spans, thus developing attitudes of care. Otherwise, the goldfish win.

*An article that is literally just a list.

Written by Alfred

Image credit

It’s Not Enjoyable. It’s Not Healthy. It’s Not Worth It.

Stress: a word that often appears at the top of a college student’s vocabulary list. We are exhausted, always, as stress and pressure to excel academically is ever-present in our lives. Whether it is brought on by parents, professors, or one’s own drive to succeed, stress holds an intense amount of power in the way that we interact with the world, and, more importantly, stress can definitely hinder our relationship with God.

Now, let’s be honest.

I’m the type of person who greets each new semester with a big smile and arms wide open. I get thoroughly excited about picking out new school supplies, and the smell of sharpened pencils brings me entirely too much joy. My obsession with new supplies and organization is so real, that the TV show,  “My Strange Addiction,” reached out to me in hopes of doing a segment on the girl who sniffs sharpened lead (JK, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this actually happened).

The moral of this story is that I love school, and, for the most part, I enjoy completing assignments that require creativity and prepare me for my future career as an educator. I have a passion for higher education, but sometimes that passion transforms into complete and utter drudgery.

Being that I literally will NOT submit anything less than my best for grading, an abundance of stress and exhaustion begins to reside in my being not too long after the start of a new semester. Like my second cousin at Christmas time, stress storms into my life, unwelcomed, and refuses to leave until I’ve fed it all of my time and energy. This relationship with stress is toxic. It affects not only me, but those who are gracious enough to want to spend time with the girl who lets an unnecessary emotion control her life.  It’s not enjoyable. It’s not healthy. It’s not worth it.

Why is it that I, like so many others in my generation, insist on allowing stress to consume me? After three years of struggling and fighting and persevering to succeed in a collegiate world dominated by stress and pressure, I think I finally found the answer:

Priorities.

For the past three years, my number one priority has been to perform in a way that would please my professors, make my family happy, and impress my peers; I wanted nothing but for others to find pleasure in and be impressed with my doings.

Were these bad desires? Not exactly. But, there were some drastic flaws in my intentions, which were, what I believe to be, the causes of my stress filled life.

Had performing in a way that pleased God been my number one priority, I would have been reminded that He longs for me to work wholeheartedly for Him and not for man (Colossians 3:23). I would have been humbled in the fact that He is the source of all of my creativity and talent (Ephesians 4:17). I would have found peace by reflecting on how He has an everlasting, passionate love and care for me that is not based on the quality of my work or the grades that I receive (Romans 8:38-39). I would have sought to please Him more and others less.

We, as sinners, spend too much time living and striving and breathing to find approval from the world that we often become blind of the approval that God has already given us. So, we work hard through the stress, and we get the good grade, and, though we win the approval that we desire at the time, we almost always end up just as empty as before because we sought acceptance from everyone but the One who actually matters. Whose opinion of us is never less than wonderful. Who sees our imperfects, yet loves us all the same. It really. isn’t. worth it.

Some anonymous smart person once said, “Be a prayer warrior, not a panicked worrier,” and that is exactly what I encourage you and me to do today.

prayer warrior

Whenever you’re feeling stressed or worried or that you must do everything on Earth and Mars perfectly in order to get someone to approve of you, stop. Take a second to pray and ask the Lord to help you find your worth in Him, and I can promise you that stress will be much more hesitant to come around.

Written by Haley

Photo credits: Featured Image, Prayer Warrior

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

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

Image credit: http://33.media.tumblr.com/9c287218bb914102e7123fd93d382c00/tumblr_inline_nhw02v7Jkc1rdcziq.png

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.

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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

Image credits:

emmawillard.org

apassportaffair.com