15 Things To Do In 2018

15 Things To Do In 2018

How to make the most of the life we have been given.
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The new year is an extremely exciting time. It is another chance to start over – an opportunity break out of the darkness that existed in the previous year. This year, I am focusing on drawing nearer to Christ. Rather than making unrealistic goals for myself (A.K.A. healthy eating and going to the gym), I want to challenge myself to dive deeper into my relationship with God than I knew I could.

1. Love recklessly.

One of the best things I have ever heard is that we should love people so recklessly that they are forced to ask why. In a broken world, the biggest gift we can give to people is love. We have the ability to be Jesus to those who need it most – I want to take advantage of that.

2. Lose myself.

Sometimes in order to let Jesus totally in, we have to empty ourselves. I want to give him all of me so that He can make the changes that He needs me to make. When we live with a self-absorbed mindset, we can fall for the idea that God isn’t working in our lives. The truth is that He didn’t have room to come in because our focus was ourselves.

3. Seek the kingdom.

I want to fearlessly and totally be set on Jesus. I want be less worried about my weekend plans and more concerned with how to live more like Him.

4. Pray constantly.

The bible tells us to make our requests known to God. I want to lose my own thinking and worrying about how things will turn out and instead turn them over to the Creator. He always answers our prayers – even if the answer is what we want.

5. Work to discover my purpose.

I want to be open to what God declares over my life. I am going to work towards more “Yes” and “Amen” and less doubting my abilities. I want to listen to what He says I am instead of what the world wants me to be.

6. Be salt and light.

I want people to see Jesus when they see me. I want him to see me as a good and faithful servant. We have such an incredible opportunity to represent him and I don’t want to take this gift of life for granted.

7. Work earnestly and diligently.

In everything that I do, I want to act as if I am doing it for God. In each class, in each responsibility, in everything, I want Jesus to be the center. I want to push as hard as I can until I accomplish the goals that I have set for myself.

8. Act with intention.

I don’t want to live my life going through the motions. I don’t want to live lazy. I want to live for Him and live to make a difference.

9. Love myself.

Society today has created a thin line between being too humble and too conceited. 1 John 2:9 says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” This applies to loving yourself too. God created you in his perfect image and has made you to be an amazing display of his goodness.

10. Be grateful in trials.

With each year comes new joys and new trials. Trouble on earth is inevitable. I want to recognize that I am being refined when I am under fire. I want to keep Jesus at the center even when it feels like He is miles away.

11. Show my faith through my actions.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). I want to live out His call on my life. I want to bring as many people to Him this year as he will let me. I want to wake up knowing that each day is a new chance to be his hands and feet.

12. Forgive because He forgives.

If He can forgive me for every bad thought, unfaithful action, or mean word, I can forgive another person. I want his strength to forgive the people who wrong me.

13. Know my worth.

I want to be 100% what he called me to be. I don’t want to settle for less than what he has for me. I choose to stand against the enemy when he puts thoughts in my head deeming me as less than what my Father says that I am. I am found in my Creator. (How cool ?!)

14. Be present.

I want to be present for the awesomeness that He has given to us. The idea of being present is not just to put my phone down. It is to be mentally there in every situation that He puts me in. There is so much beauty in the world around us and I want to enjoy it. I sometimes get wrapped up in a heavenly mindset. I get so excited for how cool heaven is going to be that I forget how cool it is that we get to be on earth.

15. Be bold for the one who sets my soul on fire.

I am so grateful for the life that I have been given. There is no place I would rather be and no people I would rather be with. I have been blessed beyond words with this sweet, sweet life and I want to live it for the One who gave it to me. I want to be bold. I want to be on fire for Him. I have the best opportunity to spread the joy that is Christ on the college campus.

2018 will come with all sorts of experiences. Just how I'll feel sad and scared at some points, I know I will be happy and excited. I am excited for what’s to come and I hope that you will take something from my to do list. You’re never too far from the life He has for you.

Cover Image Credit: Whitney Weldon

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To Everyone Who Hasn't Had Sex Yet, Wait For Marriage, It's The Right Move

If you have not had sex yet, wait.

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Premarital sex is not a new concept, no matter how much people like to pretend it is. You can trace scripture and historical texts back thousands of year to see that lust and fornication have been a problem since… well, since we humans have been problems.

They tell you in sex ed that sex causes you to form a bond with someone. They throw some big chemical names at you that are apparently in your body and cause that emotional attachment to happen, then you move on (or back to) how important condoms are and why STDs are so scary.

As a middle schooler or teenager, you can't understand what it means to become permanently connected to someone as a result of a quick, physical act.

If you haven't even had your first kiss, you really can't imagine what it's like to develop such a complex and intimate connection with someone because you have yet to feel the butterflies in your stomach from a kiss. So you really don't know what it's like to have a whole different type of feeling in your stomach.

You never forget your first love. It's one of the most cliche things you consistently hear, but it's true. Ask anyone. I guarantee your parents can still spurt out their first love's name in a few seconds. And most people never forget their first time. I know all my friends can recount that often awkward and slightly terrifying moment as if it happened an hour ago. When you mix those two, especially if you are in your teens, oh boy.

You never forget that. No matter how hard you try.

Everything you hear about sex is true: it's amazing, fantastic, life-changing, etc. There's a reason people have done it as frequently as they do, for as long as they have. But every time you sleep with someone, you leave a piece of yourself with them. Every time you choose to take that final physical step with someone, you cannot go back and collect that piece of your dignity and soul that you left with someone.

So, imagine what happens when you break up with someone you've slept with. Or that you just hooked up with. You have given someone a little slice of yourself forever. And you can never get it back. And imagine what happens when you do that multiple times. You give a piece of yourself to five, 10, 15, 20 or more people. Then you meet the person that you want to spend forever with. And you no longer have that whole part of you. You've given pieces away, and you can no longer give those to the love of your life.

So, save those pieces for your future spouse.

If you have not had sex yet, wait. If you have, consider not giving more pieces of yourself away to people who are not your spouse. Sex was created to be between two spouses, nobody else. So we need to try to maintain its integrity.

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8 Misconceptions About Hanukkah

It is so much more than "Jewish Christmas."

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Happy Hanukkah! A lot of people don't seem to understand what the holiday entails, resulting in some pretty interesting misconceptions. I am here to debunk them.

1. The Myth: Hanukkah is just like Christmas, but Jewish!

The truth: Hanukkah is nothing like Christmas. It wouldn't make sense for Jewish people to celebrate anything similar to Christmas. Jewish people do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, so no need to celebrate his birth. The only thing the holidays have in common is the fact that they take place in the winter, that there's some form of lighting involved, and there are special prayers and food.

With that in mind, wouldn't a number of holidays be "a lot like Christmas?"

Hanukkah is a commemoration of when the Holy Land was ruled by Greeks over 2,000 years ago, who tried to force Jewish people to accept their culture and abandon their own. Despite that, the Jewish people drove the Greeks away from the land and sought to light a menorah, only to find one tiny bit of olive oil. It was only supposed to last one day, but instead lasted for eight days!

Note that Hanukkah is by no means an anti-Greek holiday; it's about celebrating Jewish victory. Tons of Greek Jews exist and they happily celebrate Hanukkah.

2. The Myth: Hanukkah is a major Jewish holiday.

The truth: Not really. Yom Kippur, Passover, and Rosh Hashanah are much more important. That being said, Hanukkah is still an important day. It just is by no means a major holiday like Christmas or Easter is for Christians.

3. The Myth: Jewish children get large amounts of gifts every single night! It's like eight Christmas mornings in a row!

The truth: Nope. Jewish children typically tend to get gelt (chocolate coins and/or real money) and dreidels, but that's it. It isn't a gift-giving holiday, and that's okay! That being said, in Christian-centric countries, the amount of presents given at Hanukkah has increased due to December being Christmastime and a gift-giving season. This is NOT A SIGN of Jewish people "conforming to Christian norms;" it's to prevent kids from feeling left out this time of year.

Even if gift-giving was a commonplace Hanukkah tradition, it still wouldn't be "eight Christmas mornings in a row," unless maybe the Jewish family in question was made up of multimillionaires. Think of how much money and time goes into buying gifts for just ONE Christmas Day! Hanukkah would probably be more like giving out one large amount of gifts spaced over a period of eight days, rather than eight back-to-back days of large amounts of gifts.

4. The Myth: Hanukkah is connected to Christmas.

The truth: Nope, not at all, as I explained in point one. People tend to think the two holidays are connected because they take place around the same time. This begs the question, do you think that New Year's Day and Martin Luther King Day are connected? They both take place in January!

What about Easter and Memorial Day? Sometimes, they're only a bit over a month apart! Thanksgiving Day and Veterans Day both happen in November, so they must have a big connection, right? Wrong!

5. The Myth: Anyone can celebrate Hanukkah!

The truth: Hanukkah is a strictly Jewish holiday and it doesn't make sense for gentiles to celebrate it. Now, don't get me wrong; if you're Christian, or Muslim, or Buddhist or something else, and your Jewish friends invite you to partake in their celebrations, that's great and I encourage it!

If you're looking to convert to Judaism and want to celebrate before conversion, even better! What I mean is that there is no point to someone celebrating if they have no connection whatsoever to Judaism. Refer back to my first point, where I explained what Hanukkah celebrates. It's about Jewish people celebrating a holiday for themselves and overcoming assimilation.

There's just no need to celebrate if you're not Jewish, and this is in no way intended to be a rude statement. I mean, have you ever seen people who aren't African-American celebrate Kwanzaa? Have you ever seen a non-Muslim fast for Ramadan?

This misconception comes from the fact that a lot of non-Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter. Christmas and Easter, at least in the U.S., have become cultural holidays so that secular people may want to celebrate them. However, this isn't the case for Hanukkah. Jewish people aren't being mean by saying it's a holiday only for them; it's just facts.

However, if you want to give us latkes despite not being Jewish, I'm sure we wouldn't refuse.

6. The Myth: Dreidel games were invented for Hanukkah only.

The truth: In the 19th century, the Torah had been outlawed. A rabbi decided that Jewish people could play with a dreidel to fool people if someone tried to catch them reading it. They could act as if they were merely gambling rather than practicing their religion.

7. The Myth: There's only one correct way to spell the holiday.

The truth: There's Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanukah, and Chanukkah. Technically, the correct way is חנוכה, but that may be a struggle for those who don't know Hebrew.

8. The Myth: Hanukkah starts on the same day every year.

The truth: It doesn't, at least not if you're looking at a Gregorian calendar. On the Hebrew calendar, it DOES start on the same day: the 25th of Kislev. Months on the Hebrew calendar are based on the moon, and due to the ever-changing moon cycle, it'll be on a different Gregorian day every year! Speaking of, Hanukkah always starts at sundown.

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