Confessions of a New College Student

I’ve now been at college for about two months, give or take a few days. With everything I have been learning, there are a couple of conclusions I have drawn about college students in general and obviously, myself.

1. You will live at coffee shops

Ok, well. Maybe not literally, but basically – yeah. You might as well consider coffee shops your own personal living room or office. The amount of time I have spent at coffee shops has pretty much tripled, compared to when I was home.

So far, I’ve tried Monarch, O’Henry’s, and Heritage House in Tuscaloosa. They’ve all been really good, and completely different, which is cool! (btw let me know in the comments below if y’all would be interested in hearing my review of various coffee shops, or if that’s a boring/terrible idea. Be honest! Seriously, I won’t be offended – I’m just trying to figure this whole blogg’in thing out haha).

2. Animal desperation reaches a new high

CONFESSION TIME. I am an avid animal lover…and by that, I mean sortofmaybereallyobssessed. Imagine me, who previously lived with two cats and a dog, going to college where the housing staff is all like NO ANIMALS. NONE. ZERO. ZIP. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures y’all.

Not going to lie, today I had a pathetic realization. I was walking to the library and I saw the cutest, tiniest chipmunk scamper over the sidewalk and into the bushes. Its little coppery body with stripes popped into the leaves with one small leap.

“So cute!” said I, having the urge to hold the adorable creature. This, then, transitioned to the natural thought of wanting to take one of these friendly animals back with me as a pet.

Hey, I have had some experience with squirrels and chipmunks: when my brother, next-door neighbors, and I rescued two baby squirrels. Seriously y’all, at least as babies, they are SUPER friendly and SO CUTE.

Anyway. Needless to say, the thought of smuggling a pet into my dorm room has crossed my mind…multiple times. Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, ok? This is our little secret. blog3

3. Money disappears

Remember when you were little, and one hundred dollars sounded like a MASSIVE amount of cash?

If only that were the case! In my short time that I have been at college, I have quickly learned how fast money goes! Those $5 coffees add up y’all!

Besides that, I’ve just been doing school and trying to figure out this whole adult thing – which, by the way, IS SO WEIRD TO SAY. I remember when I was younger, and I would look at college students and think, “wow, they’re so grown-up and independent!”

….now I’M in college, and yeah, nope. All of us are basically running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off – I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THIS. WHAT AM I DOING. OHMYWORD I’VE SCREWED UP. I’M RUINED. I’M OFFICIALLY NOT CUT OUT TO BE AN ADULT.

So. There’s that.

Anywayyyyyyyyy, this past weekend I went to the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. Southern Living actually featured this festival in their magazine! I was pretty excited about that, being a good southern girl and all (since Southern Living’s word is law). This morning I took my psychology midterm/test/whatever-you-want-to-call-it – glad to be done with that! 😉

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now y’all!

~ Southern Dreamer

 

Faithful Butterflies

Yesterday, I was walking back to my dorm. My backpack filled with binders and school supplies bounced against my spine, straps secured over my shoulders. The summer heat and classic southern humidity filled the atmosphere, making me hurry towards the air-conditioned building: Ridgecrest South. It loomed in the near distance – students exiting and entering in the always moving throng of a college campus. As my feet transitioned from grass to pavement, a fluttering movement caught my eye. Flitting across the grounds, were tiny, adorable little butterflies. Their cheery neon-yellow color bestowed of their vibrancy for life, drawing a smile onto my face.

I hope the title of this post is beginning to make sense.

Today, it was like all of the things that have occurred – which I will go in more detail to – came together in a perfect masterpiece and a lightbulb hit me. Sometimes in life, changes happen, and you’re thrown into it wondering how am I supposed to do this? That’s sort of the season I’m in now. College is a huge difference, going from a homeschooled-Christian environment to a large, secular university; an introvert entering one of the largest colleges. Kind of crazy.

The past week or so, several events have happened. Little things, that you might not assume were connected if you weren’t looking for it. For me, even though I did not realize it at the time, the connection started one afternoon. I was walking and suddenly, one of my professor’s called my name – saying she wanted to speak with me. She assured me that I was not in trouble, before referencing a piece of work I had done.

“Have you found a church home yet?”

I shook my head. “No, I’m still sort of looking around.”

With my response, she told me about the church she and her husband have been attending for the past few years. “They have a great college program,” she said, suggesting I should come and visit. I thought it was amazing that she was a Christian: even though her class is my hardest, she’s my favorite teacher. After I learned all of this, I instantly knew why she has been my favorite.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” ~ 1 John 4:1

Even though I did not know it at the time, I believe subconsciously the Holy Spirit was telling me that the same spirit that was in me, was in her. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty AMAZING. SO. COOL.

After class, I headed to the Student Center so I could pick up a package. There were a couple of students in front of me, though not many. When my turn came, I handed them my Action Card and signed off on it, during which they went to get my package. They handed the cardboard box, and I walked past the glass doors to where a gray shelf/table jutted out from the wall. Placing the box on it, I grabbed my cellphone and checked Facebook (as every good millennial would do xD). That’s when I saw I had a notification.

Take a wild guess as to what the overall message was about…God’s faithfulness. My friend, Ane, was going to be sharing in my mom’s Bible Study about how God had been so faithful to her (side note: Ane, you seriously need to start a blog! Your story is amazing). Obviously, I’m not in my hometown right now, so I couldn’t be there. I was so glad she had sent what she was going to say to me! As I finished reading it, all the pieces clicked and I realized how faithful and loving God has been to me.

And when God does something like that, you have to tell. I mean, first of all, it’s SO COOL, and secondly, it can help encourage others! Or God can use it to prompt them as Ane did for me 🙂

“I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” ~ Psalm 40:10-11

Where do I start?

This past weekend, I went home. On Sunday, I headed to church (albeit very late SORRY, thank goodness God can work through all of our faults!), and saw Mrs. Jane. I greeted her with a wave and hug, before heading into the sanctuary. When the service was over, she approached me and we started to talk. I told her about college, and some of the changes I was having to get used to. Honestly, I can’t really explain the friendship I have with her. I suppose the simplest way, would be that it is completely brought together by God. He has made us kindred spirits. She prayed with me, before I left.

One of my mom’s friends, Mrs. Elizabeth, has been so sweet to me. This past summer I had the opportunity to house-sit her home and watch her silly, cute pets while she and her family were away. I was really grateful for the chance, and as I’ve started college, she has been faithful in praying for me. Knowing the wisdom she has, I’m so grateful for that! She sent me two packages and a letter, which I was gratefully surprised by! The package I mentioned earlier, was from her and contained beautiful, delicious sugar cookies in the shape of Dogwood blossoms/flowers.

Then there’s the cards from my grandparents and aunt with Starbucks gift cards (I’m pretty sure I live off caffeine nowadays xD) – a wonderful surprise that brightened my day. On Tuesday, I met with my English teacher and she was so encouraging to me! She strongly encouraged me to consider majoring or minoring in creative writing. Yesterday, someone from BamaCru – a Christian organization – texted me, asking if I would like to get lunch or coffee.

Isn’t it amazing, how God orchestrated everything? I’m so humbled that He loves me like that!

If you’re experiencing a time of change or are in a place where you don’t know what you’re doing, I would encourage you to ask God to pray for Him to show His love to you, for you to experience kisses from the Prince of Peace. Sometimes we forget, but as believers, we are His children! He delights in giving us good gifts!

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ~ Luke 11:11-13

~ Southern Dreamer

Good Guys V.S. Bad Guys

Alright y’all, so I’m not really sure where I’m going with this blog post 😉 I’ve had a couple of ideas and thoughts floating around in my head, and figured I might as well try to put them into a cohesive mix-up of words and phrases. Lord willing, this will come together as some sort of bloggie post that flows and doesn’t sound like a random jumble of mashed-up craziness!

I’ve had some experience babysitting, and there was something interesting I noticed. When I asked the boys, who their favorite characters were, they almost always referred to the “bad guys.” They had the good guys too, but normally, they seemed more drawn to pretend-play with the darker, powerful foes.

This surprised me. I have a brother, and I always remember him loving characters like Luke Skywalker, Spider-Man, and other heroic people/beings. When I came home, I told my mom and asked her what she thought about it. Why did they seem instinctually drawn towards the opposing side? What was it that caused them to be more enthusiastic in that?

Here’s what she said: little boys are often drawn to the darker characters because they are portrayed as powerful and strong. She told me that with Brayden, my younger brother, she always encouraged and pointed him towards the good characters. She would not buy him all of the Darth Vaders, Jokers, or overall villainous toys. She wanted him to strive to be like the heroes. Not perfect, because no one is, but trying their best to follow truth and do what is right.

I know some of y’all are probably thinking I’m going to the extreme end of things. But, I do not believe I am. Because I have a brother, I understand that boys love to play-fight – cowboys and Indians, the Dark Side and the Light Side. There is nothing wrong with that, and I am definitely not against it – nor am I against a child having both the good and bad characters. After all, without an antagonist, victory would not taste quite as sweet and neither would justice be as preciously guarded.

But I believe it is very important for parents to make this distinction: encourage them and point out the cool and awesome qualities in the good guys. Yeah, it might sound silly, but fictional characters – especially for children – are critical. They look to them for inspiration and hope.

Jesus used parables and stories to convey truths. If our Savior did, then does that not show the high value and impact that stories can have?

Children learn through play, and fictional characters are a huge part of that. Rather than consistently being drawn to the powerful yes, but also opposing what is true and good, characters, should we not encourage them to look at the ones seeking after righteousness and truth?

For boys to be brave like Luke Skywalker, loyal like Harry Potter, and compassionate like Aragorn.

For girls to be as loving as Padme Amidala, have faith like Lucy Pevensie, and hard-working like Mulan.

For teens to look at Darth Vader and know that redemption is possible, to remember Natasha Romanoff and how your past does not define you, and to look at Finn from Star Wars, Emma Swan from Once Upon A Time, and remind themselves that even heroes experience fear and doubt their abilities.

Maybe I’m way off the mark here, and this is all just a silly theory running around in my head. Who knows, this could all be mess concocted together late at night.

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Whatever you read and watch is bound to have some affect on you. I am not saying that if you watch a TV show with a villain, or read a book with a dark wizard, that you are going to flip a switch and turn evil – FAR FROM IT! Without antagonists, any story would be quite boring and basic. There would be no challenge for our hero. With that said, as I stated earlier, children’s minds are still developing. I’m not a parent, but I have a pretty awesome mom and dad. And they always made sure to make the distinction between enjoying the story, and praising the villain. I can never remember hearing as a child, oh look how cool Palpatine looks with his Force lightning! Isn’t the White Witch’s outfit awesome?

As children grow and mature, then the conversations can obviously go deeper and you can tease, joke, or comment on scenarios that you would not have done when they were little. Like I said, I’m not a parent, but I think encouraging and pointing kids towards healthy, heroic role models whether in fiction or real life, is important.

~ Southern Dreamer

 

What I Learned My First Week of College

Ok. Not going to lie – writing the title of this post was weird.

Me? In college?

Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. Really insane in an odd way. Every freshman (yep, that happened) I’ve talked to agrees that this feels like summer camp. Almost as if we are all going to wake up one day and BAM! – be back home. I’m sure it’ll sink in at some point that this is permanent and real, but right now I’m still in that surreal phase.

For those of you who don’t know, I chose to attend the University of Alabama. I know, I know – what was I thinking? Me. An introverted, Christian, conservative girl attending one of the largest schools in the country…where I know basically nobody. Putting it down in words does make it seem illogical – what could I be thinking?

I don’t really have an answer for you, except that this seems like where God wants me.

For all that, I have survived my first week of college! Can I get a halleluiah? 😉

Alright y’all, I’m going to get real here. The first week of college is kinda insane. Here are some things I learned for those of you headed towards college, or who just want to hear about how I, who pride myself on keeping my iPhone in pristine condition, managed to crack it – cue the tears.

  1. Do not trust the time your app says it takes to get to class

My Alabama app stated it would take a six minute walk to class. Haha…readers, the app’s definition of “walk” and mine are clearly different. I was speed-walking through campus on a mission: get to my first Spanish class in ten minutes. I did have the thought of running, but y’all! I did not want to be that girl.

“Yeah, there she goes. Ran to class on her first day.” Cue shaking head.

Ok, maybe that was semi-dramatic. But the point remains that I refused to make my first impression on campus, in a full-out run to class. By the time I reached the building, I checked my phone and raced up the stairs. For those of you who know me, you will recall that I am not the most coordinated person…and this translated to me tripping on the stairs and dropping my phone.

Crack.

My beautiful iPhone that I had so valiantly tried to keep in perfect condition, now showed a diagonal crack.

2. Driving on campus is a nightmare

One of my classes is pretty far, so I decided to drive to it. I happen to be a bit *ahem* directionally challenged, and some of the people on the roads were not very forgiving to a poor, confused freshman. In answer to your unspoken question, yeah…I got honked at.

But hey, I did eventually make it!

3. Your dorm room will look better than your bedroom at home

This is probably different for guys, at least from what I’ve seen online. But I know from my own experience, that my dorm room is definitely nicer in decorations, interior design, etc than my bedroom. I went on Pinterest for inspiration initially – seriously, whoever created that website/app is AMAZING. I’m only slightly addicted 😉 Home Goods and TJ Maxx were mainly where I purchased most of my dorm room items.

4. Starbucks will save your life

Well, maybe not save your life, but it will certainly make it more bearable. Alabama has a huge Starbucks in the student center – thank heaven. So far, I’ve already been twice, though I’m sure once school picks up speed, I will live and breathe Starbucks.

5. I have more appreciation for the simple things in life

Like bathtubs for instance. I love taking a warm, bubbly bath! Alas, dorm bathrooms lack this vital feature *dramatic sigh* Others include fruits and veggies, eating meals with my family, and having a sweet, furry pet to cuddle with. As they say, you don’t realize what you have until you don’t have it.

Those are a few things I learned my first week of college, along with other random bits and pieces. Such as that my Human Development teacher apparently owns buffalo, cows, horses, and chickens??? (Someone please tell me what one does with a buffalo)? Free food almost always means pizza, and walking through a hallway lined with sitting and standing students will make you feel like you’re in the Hunger Games.

To my fellow freshman, what did y’all learn during your first week in college?

~ Southern Dreamer

When Being Drunk Is Good

From the song “Happy,” to the hundreds of advertisements promising true happiness, our world is on a constant search for something that will make us happy. Many times, we think it’s something superficial – like money or going on awesome trips. If that’s true, then why are celebrities often so miserable? Why do many famous individuals turn to drugs, alcohol, and other such devices? I believe this is because they are lacking fulfillment, purpose, and joy.

True joy.

Patheos.com defines joy as, “Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. It could be described as exhilaration, delight, sheer gladness, and can result from a great success or a very beautiful or wonderful experience like a wedding or graduation but the definition of joy that the world holds is not nearly as amazing as biblical joy.”

Happiness is contingent on our circumstances, what is happening around us. Have you ever been having a really great day, and then something goes wrong? Your coffee spills, the fast-food restaurant gave you the wrong order, you suddenly realize you have a project due tomorrow. BAM. Your entire day seems like it just did a huge 180 and you are freaking out.

Does God want us to be happy? Certainly! He is our Father, and as his children, Jesus only wants the best for us. However, God is much smarter than we are, and he knew that there would be days when something goes wrong. He did give us free will, after all, and God doesn’t take back His Word. Even when it might not be our fault, or a person’s fault, as long as there is sin in the world, we will never have a perfect day.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” ~ John 16:33

Jesus tells us that we will have hard times. He never promised that our lives would be free from struggles, but he did not leave us empty-handed. The second part of the verse is important to remember: I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD. For those of us who are believers, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. The same power that OVERCAME the world lives in those of us who believe!

That is pretty awesome, however, I would like to bring the topic back around to joy. I promise it relates 😉

Like I said earlier, God wants us to be happy. There’s a problem with happiness…it’s contingent, subjective. Thankfully, we have an amazing Father and He offers us a solution to this…JOY.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law,” ~ Galatians 5:22-23

When we accept Jesus into our hearts, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells there. The Spirit, as part of the trinity, embodies all of the qualities of God. We have an opportunity to experience these emotions through the Holy Spirit.

There have been two times in my life that I can recall feeling the joy of the Holy Spirit. And y’all. It. Was. AMAZING. I felt so empowered and fearless! I was drunk on joy! That’s literally how it felt, and anyone who has experienced that, knows how absolutely riveting and exciting it is. You are just so joyful, happy, delighted. You’re like a child who trusts that everything is going to be ok. One instant, my mom and brother’s computer had crashed. Everyone else in my family was panicking, thinking that the computer was gone forever, along with all of their work on it.

Now, I do not take credit for this. All I can say, is that God in his mercy and love, perhaps saw me as a willing vessel and deposited His JOY and FAITH and TRUST in me. I was not worried! I knew God was going to fix the computer. I was drunk on the joy of the Holy Spirit, and you know what? The computer was saved. They’re still using it today.

Imagine what we could do in this world if we lived every day drunk on the joy of God. If we became like children and humbled ourselves in prayer. “Father, overwhelm me with faith and trust and joy that only You can give.” I think we would change this entire world, turn it on its axis.

I’m not pretending to know how to do this. Honestly, I am learning just as much as you. There’s not always a step-by-step manual on how to do this thing called faith, and that’s ok. All God asks is that we have a willing heart.

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long,” ~ Psalm 25:4-5

~ Southern Dreamer

Victory in Jesus

Yesterday, as I was sitting in the car, my mind began to wonder. Sometimes when that happens it’s a good thing, a creative idea will come to me or I’ll remember something I had forgotten. Other times, when my thoughts drift off, they’ll jump onboard the “Fear/Anxiety Train.” Unfortunately, I was on my way to the plush cushioned seats of Worry.

So that’s where I was mentally.

As my eyes glanced at the radio, I noticed what song had started to play…”No Longer Slaves” by Bethel. Just to give you a quick preview, the chorus of this song says:

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

Yeah, pretty awesome. I started to sing the words and the Spirit reminded me of something really awesome. Are y’all ready?

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us! Like, WHAT. I think many times we gloss over this, or don’t understand the actual meaning. But y’all, the power that raised our Savior from the grave? That brought him back to life? LIVES IN US.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you,” ~ Romans 8:11

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” ~ Acts 1:8

It made me feel so empowered! And I could feel my fear being washed away as I meditated on this thought. Life can be really hard, and once in a while it’s wise to remind ourselves of whose we are. Children of the Most High. Princes and princesses of the King of kings. Creations of the Bright and Morning Star. Co-heirs with Christ (aka God of the universe). Friend of God.

And because of that, we have the privilege of being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God’s Spirit, to those who believe, resides in us. We can live in the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection! We are truly free! In the life of Jesus, we have complete confidence of triumph. When we go through trials, struggles, pain, and suffering, let us remember that at the end of the day, in God, we are victorious! As Paul said, “perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Perhaps you fight battles that no one knows, save for yourself and our Lord. Maybe you’re struggling with something that you think no one can possibly understand. Or it could be that right now your life is going perfectly. Everything is coming together exactly as you thought it would, and you couldn’t be more excited! Whether or not you find yourself in a season of waiting or one of great joy, let us never forget that in our Savior, we are VICTORS. CONQUERS. OVERCOMERS. WARRIORS.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57

As we celebrate this fourth of July, remember where the true freedom lies. Between biting into a juicy hamburger and dipping your glistening silver spoon into a bowl of cold, soft ice cream, do not forget the high price that Jesus paid. When you watch the fireworks explode in beautiful displays of red, blue, and white, thank God for saving us from a lifetime of misery and sin. He set us free, and His freedom is the most valuable kind. Because even if the world goes to hell, the government crumbles, and everyone is in a panic, as Christians, we can still stand tall and say with confidence that we are free.

We know the truth and we have been delivered. Let us never forget the priceless gift of being a Child of God. We are free.

~ Southern Dreamer

Resting In God When The World Is Going Crazy

This past year, my senior year, I duel-enrolled at a local college. During my second semester, I took Bio 2 and found it fascinating (minus one section *ahem* parasites/bacteria/etc).

Anyway.

We were learning how everything on Earth is connected and how global warming is affecting it. Here’s the short spill on it – I promise you’ll be able to understand it and I’ll try my best to not spend several paragraphs on it 😉

Because of Earth warming, the Indian Ocean has been steadily warming as well. You’re probably thinking, “ok. so the ocean is a little bit warmer, what’s the big deal?” I’m glad you asked! XD

The increasing temperature of the Indian Ocean has caused the North Atlantic oscillation (aka two air masses) to become stuck on its “intense” cycle. The North Atlantic oscillation has never been completely calm, but there are usually periods or breaks where the intensity lets down and it is more docile. However, with the increasing temperatures that has not been happening.

north atlantic

It’s amazing how the entire world is so intricately connected. In Africa, there is a body of water called Lake Chad. Wikipedia says, “The United Nations Environment Programme and the Lake Chad Basin Commission concur that at least half of the lake’s decrease is attributable to shifting climate patterns.” As Lake Chad has dried up, the dust and dirt that was beneath the water has been exposed.

You can imagine what sorts of algae, fungi, and other gross things lie at the bottom of the lake. With the dust being out in the open, the pathogenic soil fungus it contains has been swept into the air from the Saharan and blown towards the Caribbean.

Interestingly, this dust has caused an ironic increase in pediatric asthma cases and coral sea fan disease. Which is obviously not good.

Now, I’m going to be honest. I kind of started to worry, because wow, how the heck are we supposed to fix all of this. ITS SO MUCH.

God, knowing this, led me to this verse.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” ~ Luke 21:25-28

WOW. Like, anyone else amazed??? I mean that’s literally what’s happening! And there it is, right in the Bible. It makes me feel so much better, to know that God knew this was going to happen. None of this is a surprise to him.

Thank you Jesus for that!

~ Southern Dreamer

Graduation

Wow. It happened.

What, you may be asking, happened? Well, my wonderful readers and dreamers, the author of this blog has officially graduated from high school (for the sake of my sanity, we’re going to ignore the fact that I still have a few weeks left of school).

Yep. Eighteen years in the making and here I am.

I don’t think the fact that I’m graduating really hit me until I was standing in the church, with my peers. We all looked at each as if to say right. this is really here. this isn’t some idea in our heads anymore. we’re graduating.

Not going to lie, when the entire notion of you being DONE with your childhood, officially considered an adult by the entire world hits you…it’s a bit terrifying.

Image result for ahhh gifs

So, when Griffin suggested that we all skip our graduation and go and get milkshakes instead…It was a terribly tempting proposition. Especially considering the fact that we had to give speeches, and anyone who knows me, knows that I abhor speaking in front of people.

Then, we all had a mid-panic, because did we just miss the music cue. Are we supposed to go in now? Later? Has it started? And because I was first, if I missed the cue, everyone else would be off.

No pressure XD

Thankfully, someone told us when to go (bless her!), and off I went down the aisle. I wore my white graduation gown and cap, with gold tassels and fringes. Wearing my two inch white wedge heels – I’m not the most coordinated person anyway, and so I thought it would be wise to steer clear of too-high shoes, I walked up the steps and took my place.

Once all five of us were on the stage, Mrs. Kim came up to speak. For those of you who don’t know her, she is a wonderful and precious lady. She was so gracious in allowing me to be a part of CHAT (homeschool co-op), even though I was not able to make the third class because of previous school scheduling. Shoutout to her for that, and for creating an amazing and intimate ceremony for the seniors! You’re the best! 🙂

Both Chelsea and Haley’s dads prayed, with the later speaking. They both did an amazing job.

For the ceremony, a video with a song and pictures of the graduate had to be created. They played each video, and after one was done…the graduate had to speak.

Deep breath.

With my notecards in hand – let’s be real, there was no way I was going to speak from memory, I stood and went to the podium. It was not quite as terrifying as I had imagined, though I certainly was relieved to be done! 😉

Miyah, who looked fabulous, walked up the steps and took the microphone. She sang Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman. I love that song, and she did an incredible job!

Then came time for my parents to take the stage, speak, and hand me my diploma. My mom held the diploma, while my dad took the microphone. He gave a great speech, although I suppose I’m slightly biased since it was about me xD, and was about to close when my mom interjected. In a characteristic fashion, my mom spontaneously decided that she needed to say something too. So, she did.

It’s funny standing there and having someone say so many nice things about you, even if it is your family. Like, I’m not sure I deserve all of this.

But, ONWARDS! They handed me my diploma, and the ceremony continued.

Mrs. Kim gave each of us, as graduates, a new Bible. Thank you Mrs. Kim, I will treasure it always! This is also a good point to make an important note: THANK YOU LORD FOR BRINGING ME THIS FAR. Eighteen years!

We turned our tassels, pictures were taken, and then came the time for us to exit the stage…as the official CHAT graduating class of 2017!

Once the rain had paused, we all took advantage of the break in weather and rushed outside for the throwing of the caps. The first try was a…fail. We all threw ours up at different times. Time for take two! THIS TIME, we laughingly requested a countdown. There were about eight different cameras going on at once, so I’m pretty sure we must have gotten a good picture out of one of those! xD

I’m going to be honest y’all. High School Musical was my childhood, and there was a large part of me that totally wanted to break out in that graduation number. Who’s with me? 😉

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All in all, it was a wonderful ceremony. Thank you to Mrs Kim for putting it together, you did an incredible job! Thank you to everyone who came and helped me get this far, and congrats to all of my peers who graduated as well! WE DID IT Y’ALL!

~ newly graduated, Southern Dreamer

Resurrected King ~ Part 2 of an Easter Story

***Author note: similar to biblical fiction, I am writing portions of this as if it were a novel to be read. I have pieced together how it could have occurred to the best of my ability. As far as I have researched, nothing I have taken the artistic liberty with, contradicts Scripture but please understand, that some parts I have had to assume or think of how it might have happened, in order for the writing to flow better. Take it with what you will, but obviously my writing is not the Word of God, only something written by a daughter of the King, trying to do His sacrifice justice***

“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it,” ~ Matthew 28:2

Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (*there very likely could have been others, but these are the specific names given in Scripture, across the four Gospels*) went to the tomb of Jesus. Their hearts were heavy and weighted with sorrow at everything that had occurred. With them, they had spices in order to finish the burial preparations, which had to be left undone because of the Sabbath.

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” questioned one, turning to look at her companions for an answer (Mark 16:3). However, they were as much at a loss for a solution as she. Even still, they continued on.

They walked towards the tomb, grieving and remembering all that Jesus said. Sweet-smelling flowers greeted them when they entered into the garden (John 19:41), bringing in an aroma of life and hope that was desperately needed. Since they had left before dawn (Luke 24:1), there was barely any light to guide their way, and as such, the women made sure to walk with caution. As they approached, an earthquake caused the ground to shake and tremor! (Matthew 28:2)

What can this mean? thought one of the women, wondering what a second earthquake in only three days could signify.

And as the earthquake occurred, an “angel of the Lord descended from heaven” and rolled back the stone! He had white clothing, shining brilliantly.

The guards were terrified, and in such a state of fear (surely, they thought, death is near!) that they, “became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4). An entire troop of Roman guards reduced to a lot of unconscious men!

Image result for women at the tomb of JesusEntering into the tomb, the women expected to see the body of Jesus. The small amount of light that was able to enter into the grave, allowed them to see something shocking. Linen cloths, used to wrap the body, were folded neatly – with the face cloth in a separate place from the others (John 20:6-7). His body was no longer there!

Outside the tomb, Mary Magdalene wept. And looking within the burial, she saw two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been.

“They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus,” ~ John 20:13-14

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” asked Jesus (John 20:15).

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Because of the early hour, it was difficult to see because the sun had not fully risen. Thinking him to be the gardener, because of the tomb’s location, Mary replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Saying this, she turned back towards the inside of the tomb, where an angel had begun to speak. Tears still splattered down her cheeks, grief very much real.

“Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Come, see the place where he lay. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise,” said the angel (*taken from both Luke 24:5-7 and Matthew 28:5-6*).

Then, a single word caught her attention. Her name. “Mary.”

Turning back around, Mary realized that it was Jesus. Alive! Right before her! The last time she had seen him, he had been brutally whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Red had painted his skin in crimson. She had watched him die…and now, here he stood! “Rabboni!” (John 20:16)Image result for women at the tomb of Jesus

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

The other women came out of the tomb, minds racing with this information. Their hands shook in astonishment, bodies trembling from the magnitude of it all (Mark 16:8). In a mix of emotions, each woman was filled with both fear and great joy from all they had heard and experienced (Matthew 28:8).

As they came out, Jesus greeted them.

Eyes wide and some, if not all, filled with happy, overwhelming tears. They came closer, bowing and touching his feet in worship. Oh the joy! To see him again! How wonderful, how marvelous.

“Do not be afraid,” said Jesus, “go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

~~~

I love this. Out of anyone he could have chosen, Jesus picked women to be the first ones to see him risen from the dead, and as the designated messengers to his disciples. The true greatness of this can be more appreciated, when we realize that back then, the testimony of women as witnesses was not always believed. Yet, he still chose them.

As a young, Christian woman, I’m so thankful that portions like this are included in Scripture, because it shows one example of how Jesus saw men and women – equal. He treated their witness as concrete and sound as a male’s, and in that day and age, this was uncommon.

(and maybe a tiny part of it had to do with the fact that women love to talk and he knew they would spread the word) xD

 As I celebrate Easter, I remember everything that our Savior went through – the rejections, the beatings, the whippings, the guilt and shame though he was innocent…dying on a cross. It amazes me that someone would willingly choose to do that for me. Heck, I don’t think I would do that for me; it’s mind-blowing.

Literally, I cannot compute why Jesus would do that. His unconditional love is so unlike human relationships that I find myself unable to comprehend it, and yet, I am so, incredibly thankful for his sacrifice and grace.

Let us never forget the very real sacrifice that our Savior went through, and always celebrate the fact that on the third day, death was DEFEATED and Jesus Christ rose from the grave!

~ Southern Dreamer

Darkness Fell ~ Part 1 of an Easter Story

“Die he or justice must; unless for him some other able, and as willing, pay the rigid satisfaction, death for death. Say heav’nly Powers, where shall we find such love, which of ye will be mortal to redeem Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save, dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton 

Who will step forward? Will someone sacrifice the glories and perfection of heaven for the broken and trying life on Earth?

“He asked, but all the heav’nly choir stood mute, and silence was in Heav’n; on man’s behalf patron or intercessor none appeared, much less that durst upon his own head draw the deadly forfeiture, and ransom set,” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

Silence. The golden streets and tree of life. Silence. The heralds of angels and beating wings. Silence. The majesty of the Creator and the magnificence of heaven’s shining buildings. Silence.

Silence can say so much more than words.

Would anyone step in? Would someone take man’s place?

“And now without redemption all mankind must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell by doom severe, had not the Son of God, in whom the fullness dwells of love divine, his dearest mediation thus renewed.

‘Father, thy word is passed, man shall find grace; and shall grace not find means, that finds her way, the speediest of thy winged messengers, to visit all thy creatures, and to all comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought, happy for man, so coming; he her aid can never seek, once dead in sins and lost; atonement for himself or offering meet, indebted and undone, hath none to bring: Behold me then, me for him, life for life I offer, on me let thine anger fall; account me man; I for his sake will leave thy bosom, and this glory next to thee freely put off, and for him lastly die well pleased, on me let Death wreak all his rage; under his gloomy power I shall not long lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess life in myself forever, by thee I love, though now to Death I yield, and am his due,'” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

All heaven silent, until the Son of God spoke. All mankind lost, until this moment.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” ~ Luke 2:11

He, who had come from heaven: perfect, beautiful, joyful, now came to Earth – to be among his creation, to do what no one else could.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” ~ Hebrew 4:15

Instead of a throne, he sat on the dusty, dirty ground. Insects crawling beneath; an ant biting him. Instead of a crown and robes of splendor, he wore the simple clothing of a carpenter. Blisters on his hands from working with wood; a splinter finding its way into his skin. Instead of angels singing praises hour after hour, he endured the ridicule of bullies. Name-calling, excluding him from activities, causing a bleeding cheek or egg-sized knot on his head. Instead of perfection, he came to the broken world. Temptation rearing its ugly head and the battle not to give in.

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“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

He had friends, family. Perhaps, he had a particular pet growing up that he was fond of. Maybe a sheep that would sneak into the house when it was not supposed to, or a baby chick that cuddled up by his bedside. He celebrated holidays with feasts and great fun. He experienced the growing up pains of being a teenager; the temptation though he did not sin.

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33 years.

And then, came the end of an old world and the beginning of a marvelous grace-filled one where death is defeated.

Let’s back-track though.

The arrest of Jesus.

“Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples,” ~ John 18:2

This one sentence has so much information. We learn two key pieces of information about his arrest, that make it so much more painful. The obvious one is that Judas – someone he had taught, ate with, and spent many hours conversing about various things – betrayed him. Secondly, let’s go back to this…”for Jesus often met there with his disciples.”

Putting it in our terms, this was their “hang-out” place. The spot they went to when they wanted to talk, escape the crowds, just be friends. So I don’t think it is too overly assuming to say that this location probably had a special meaning.

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground,” ~ Luke 22:41-44

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I’m not sure if it’s because only Luke records it, or if I’ve just never noticed it in the other Gospels before, but I find it so interesting that it says, “and there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” I wonder what this entailed. Did the angel encourage him in words? Remind him of the good that would come after? Give him something to eat or drink?

I think it is noteworthy to point out, that though the angel strengthened him…his pain did not go away. Right after, it says, “and being in agony.”

Yes, Jesus was strengthened, but his “cup” was not taken away. The struggle, the apprehension of what was to come did not leave. As the verse concludes, it becomes clear that he is under a tremendous amount of anxiousness. There is an actual, medical condition where one is under so much stress and anxiety that sweat and blood mix, creating, as Luke wrote, “like great drops of blood.”

There would still be more to come. Trials. Betrayals. Beatings – horrible, gruesome whips that came upon him again and again. Thorns – a mockery by them, shoving a crown of nature’s needles onto his head…blood pooling out. Humiliation – casting lots for his clothing, doing everything to try and destroy his dignity. Pain.

The nails. The cross. Dying the worst and most degraded form of death that could be done. How amazing of a Savior we have! I cannot compute this kind of love – unconditional, perfect, encompassing. Even as I write this, it blows my mind that someone would willingly choose to go through the most undesirable form of suffering for me.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed,” ~ 1 Peter 2:24

Guilt. Though Jesus had done no wrong, he took the weight of our sins. Can you imagine? All of history. All of humanity. Every person that has and ever will live. That feeling, that sense of shame and guilt that comes with sin, he felt. Him, who knew no sin and lived a perfect life, experienced the ramifications of sin. The consequences, though he was innocent.

Imagine the worst crime you can think of – murder, rape. And then picture yourself having to feel the guilt and shame for doing that, though you did not.

Horrible.

In every way, the sacrifice of Jesus was brutal. It was emotionally taxing – friends betraying him, mentally draining – enduring the verbal assault, physically sapping – the most horrific, pain and death, and spiritually exhausting – when God turned his face.

Let’s go back to that place, that hour.

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It is the middle of the day; there are three crosses. Because it is the Passover, travelers are passing by and witnessing this dismal sight. There are soldiers, who prolonged his suffering by giving him wine vinegar. There is his family, weeping and in anguish over what has been done to him.

12:00pm. Noon.

Instant darkness. The light from the day vanished and inky blackness took its place. There was no electricity, and no backup generators. Perhaps someone found a candle, though I doubt they had one close by. Who would have thought it would be needed at midday?

The hours ticked by, time moving slowly. Seconds turned into minutes, seeming to stretch into infinity. What had happened? Why was it pitch black at noon? Would the light return?

3pm.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit,” ~ Matthew 27:50

The curtain of the temple stood sixty feet high and thirty feet wide. It separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, that only the high priest was allowed to enter once a year. At this moment, this instant it was torn in two. The separation between God and humanity had been breached.

The ground rumbled – an earthquake. Rocks were broken, split into pieces. The tombs opened up and the “bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:52).

Jesus had died.

***will post second part tomorrow on Easter***