(Photo: Priscilla Du Peez)
By Brook Ault
Small Things, Big Trust
We’ve all been told to trust in God when were faced with big decisions. Last month, I was having an extremely hard time figuring out what internship to pursue this summer. I was so worried about making the right decision for my future and expanding my knowledge that I failed to rely on the Lord’s guidance to get me where I needed to be. However, after turning to God for direction, I made the decision to work in Michigan as a Christian camp counselor and the peace I felt was overwhelming. Whether it be deciding what college to attend, determining whether or not I should accept that job offer, or declaring a new major, God has proved to me through my 19 years of life that he is the ultimate provider and will guide me through every tough decision I am faced with.
There’s no doubt that big decisions are hard. However, sometimes I think the things that get me the most down are the small, everyday stressors. When you’re late to class, you had no time to shower, it’s pouring rain outside, you step in a puddle in your brand new white shoes, and forget about that homework assignment in physics that was due two days ago, it’s easy to become discouraged. Many of us know that it is important to trust in God when faced with big decisions, and, many of us do turn to God during these times. However, during this stressful finals week, I’ve found that trusting God through the small things is important to. When I feel like I haven’t slept in three days, I’m stressed about that major assignment due in a week, or I haven’t done laundry and my rooms a mess, I have to constantly remind myself to trust God through these times. Just like God guides me through the huge decisions and obstacles in life, he will guide me through these small, everyday frustrations and give me the energy I need to persevere in the midst of a stressful life.
Philippians 4:12-13 says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” This week, I encourage you to lean into these words of truth. Remember that, while we should trust God with our big life decisions, he is also with us through everything we face in our day to day lives.
(Photo: Priscilla Du Peez)
God’s Kingdom Breaking Through
By Brook Ault
I tend to be the most willing to open up to others when it’s around 1:00 O’clock in the morning and I’m stuffing my face with Mcdonalds french fries. Last night just happened to be one of those nights. I had a much needed conversation with a close friend about doubt in Christ. While pouring our hearts out to each other, crying like babies, and expressing our frustration towards the lord, I revealed that, although I want nothing more than to fully trust in God’s presence, it can often be the hardest thing for me to do. When we look at the hurt, anguish, and injustices in the world, it can be so easy to question how a God so good could allow such terrible things to happen. I want to believe God is the all knowing, all powerful, creator of this earth, and, on most days, I do. But when a loved one is lost, or I hear a story about a mass shooting or world hunger on the news, I can’t help but think, “Where are you Lord?”
This is has been something that I’ve struggled with throughout my entire faith journey. However, God spoke to me through my dear friend last night, revealing wisdom that I’ll never forget. My friend reminded me that God knows our hurt. He isn’t simply some huge authority looking down on us, watching us struggle, refusing to help even though he has the ability to. God loved us so much, he sent his only son to become us. Jesus stooped to our level. He experienced pain, he experienced betrayal from the disciples. He knows what it’s like to experience the hurt of this world. We have not experienced anything that Christ does not understand. He experienced even more turmoil, simply to give us life.
This is an unimaginable amount of love that my worldly brain cannot even fathom. Sometimes, this world just sucks. People die, people betray other people, people murder, and steal, and put their selfish needs above the needs of others. However, God is still present and his kingdom is breaking through. When a congregation of broken people lift their hands in worship to the lord or a new follower gives their life to Christ, this is bigger than the hurt, than the turmoil happening in our world. When a former atheist gives their heart to the lord or a group of ministers fellowship with children in a third world country who have never heard the name Jesus, these are kingdom moments. God is breaking through. I encourage you, when things around you seem like their crashing down, to look for the little kingdom moments, look for the little times in our life when God breaks through, the God winks. God is the almighty, all powerful, all loving savoir, but he is also an amazing best friend. He won’t leave us, he won’t forsake us, and he understands our pain. I encourage you to really consider this, to really lean on it. Don’t give us on the kingdom of God because of the evil in this world, instead, work to break through it.
(Photo: Priscilla Du Peez)
By Brook Ault
Due to our excessive exposure to social media and the increased use of it in our everyday lives, we are constantly comparing ourselves to those around us. We compare our appearance, our life styles, our experiences, and, quite often, our relationships. Whether that be relationships with friends or significant others, we convince ourselves that we have to have these relationships in order to feel significant and valued. Many of us throw ourselves into romantic relationships simply because everyone around us are pursuing them.
From personal experience, I understand the hurt and spiritual distant that can sometimes occur when we force ourselves to invest in relationships that God did not intend for us. God has a well thought out, incredible plan for each us of and he puts individuals in our lives for a reason. If we have suffered from a negative relationship in the past, whether that be romantically or with a former best friend, it is important to remember that, although sometimes painful, we can only grow and learn from these relationship. Sometimes, when someone new enters in our lives, it can be difficult to determine if they are someone worth investing time to. Scripture says to forgive our enemies and love our trespassers, however, God also calls us to live a life in service and obedience to. If were engage in unhealthy, manipulative, or unfulfilling relationships, we may struggle to glorify Christ.
Many times in some of past friendships or high school relationships, I often felt pressure to impress or please the other individual. A healthy desire to is please someone you care about is appropriate and necessary however, I learned from years of personal experience, that basing your entire worth around what those people think of you is not and can pull you father away from God than ever. However, the good news is that God will not leave us. He is always just step away, standing with his arms wide open, ready to welcome us back into his presence.
We can’t see God but we sure can see the exceptionally perfect couple photos that Susy and Jim posted on instagram the other day or the best friend post Darla and Amber keep blasting on twitter. This makes it easier to focus our attention on materialistic, worldly relationships. However, we can only find true fulfillment in a strong relationship with Christ. Now, I’m definitely not saying that relationships are bad, and don’t get me wrong, I pray that one day God will bring a compatible husband to my life, but when pursuing relationships it is extremely important to ask the question “Our we only moving closer to each other or Christ as well?”
Making Christ the center of our relationships and ensuring that our romantic interest bring us closer to Christ rather than pulling us away from him or distracting us from our morals and values, is essentially important to our relationships and spiritual development.
This summer, if you meet someone new that has completely different beliefs than you or return home to a former group of unhealthy friends, remember that the people you surround yourself with effect your relationship with Christ. When you are faced with certain decisions such as which relationships to pursue, which to turn down, or what boundaries to set, I encourage you to turn to God in prayer and ask him to give you the guidance and mindset to pursue healthy, christ-like relationships.
By Sarah Breinig
1) See Endgame
There has always been hype around Marvel movies, but none like this! See the culmination of the Decimation of Infinity War, discover what happened to Thanos, and watch as characters reunite for the first time since Civil War. But remember Thanos still demands your silence so no spoilers (https://www.cbr.com/thanos-demands-your-silence-in-star-studded-infinity-war-psa/).
2) Experiment with baking… and share
It is supposed to rain this weekend so why not make the most of your time indoors by doings some baking some cookies, brownies, or cupcakes (if you’re like me a can mess up boxed mac and cheese, feel free to substitute “baking” with “go to the store and get”). Rainy days are always so dark and dreary, so why not brighten someone’s day by sharing some of those treats with others? This is a fun (and tasty) way to connect with others and is an easy way to put a smile on someone’s face. If you want to connect with friends even more, why don’t you do the baking together?
3) Visit the Oriental Institute
Hosted by the University of Chicago, the Oriental Institute is a museum focused on the Ancient World. Although history may not be your thing, this is a extremely well curated museum, and is design for everyone to enjoy. Located at 1155 East 58th Street in Chiago, the Oriental Institute is easy to get to. There is no admission fee but there is a recommended donation of $10 per person. For more information go to https://oi.uchicago.edu/.
4) Read this list
Did you know that Tug of War used to be an Olymic Sport? I bet you didn’t know that G-Mail and gmail are two different things and scientists reading original copies of Marie Curie’s notebooks have to sign a disclaimer because of their radioactivity. If you’re into other random fact like that, check this out http://mentalfloss.com/article/55443/101-amazing-facts.
5) Visit the Jelly Belly Visitor Center
If you love jelly beans, you have to check out the Jelly Belly Visitor Center in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. It might be a bit of a journey, but it is totally possible to make this trip in one day. Tours are free and offered daily. Learn how jelly beans are made, how the Jelly Belly company was formed, and (most importantly) get free samples. For more details go to https://www.jellybelly.com/wisconsin-warehouse.
By Sarah Breinig
1) Have a Happy Easter!
Celebrate the miracle of our Lord’s Resurrection with your family and friends! Maybe your headed to a million church services or just one. You might be trying to visit every extended family member you know (and maybe some you don’t) or staying in for the day. Whatever you do, drive safe and remember what the holiday is really about.
2) Read a book
Since lots of places are closed for Easter Break, embrace the time at home. Try read a new best seller or classic that you’ve never got around to picking up. If you’re having trouble finding a book go to https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/g22749180/best-books-for-teens/ for a starting point.
3) Dye Easter Eggs
Think you are too old to dye those kiddie Easter Eggs? Think again! You can take the egg decorating to a whole new level this year. Try tie-dyeing your eggs using a paper towel (https://www.marthastewart.com/1141024/tie-dye-easter-eggs), go old school by boiling your eggs with veggies (http://www.atastyadventure.com/onion-dyed-easter-eggs/), or decorate your eggs using a silk tie (https://ourbestbites.com/silk-dyed-eggs-aka-tie-dyed/). For even more unique ways to dye some Easter Eggs check out https://www.bhg.com/holidays/easter/eggs/quick-and-easy-easter-egg-decorations/.
4) Host a White Elephant Egg Hunt
Have all of the attendees wrap a fun gag gift. Then give each of the gifts a number. Write those numbers down a scraps of paper and put them in plastic eggs. Have all of your friends and family hide the egg with their number in it (this ensures that no one accidentally gets their number). Finally let the hunt begin. Once everyone has an egg, begin seeing what numbers they got, start distributing the gifts, and let the fun ensue!
5) Do nothing
For most, this is your last break of the school year, so take a break. Enjoy doing nothing- just hang around with friends or family, be a homebody, or do whatever you need to decompress. A healthy break will help you finish the school year strong.