Advent Reflection

Advent Reflection

Things are never perfect your first Christmas away from home, but they can be good.

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For an Emory student such as myself, Christmas isn't always "the most wonderful time of the year". Being a newly-minted college student during finals season meant spending December nights staring wistfully out of the upper-story library windows instead of caroling, or counting the emotional breakdowns rather than the days till Christmas.

I had recently said goodbye to my cozy hometown of Alkmaar, the Netherlands, and that meant losing a plethora of lost Christmas traditions - opening presents at my godparents' across the street, eating Vlaamse Frites in the light-strung streets in Haarlem with my father, and pelting snowballs at our church's sign after the carol service. During the Christmas season, there's no place like home —and my home, with its evergreen wreath we would hang on the stairwell and its glowing candles on the windowsill was thousands of miles across the ocean. I was left without the trustworthy friends and almost-family, who would faithfully celebrate Christmas, year in and year out, with my family and I. It was no wonder that my Christmas season was feeling less ho-ho-ho and more hopeless.

Mere days after a crushing realization that I was celebrating Sinterklaas, Dutch Christmas, away from home for the first time in more than a decade, the light of saving hope streamed through my life through the concept of Advent. Sitting in Passion City Church that Sunday, I came to realize that the Christmas season did not mean that my life was supposed to look as pristine as a scene on Christmas postcard. Advent instead meant hope and expectation, and like Mary, the shepherds and countless more roles of the Christmas story, it was my turn to wait faithfully for things to be made right and to trust that "the real Light was coming into the world".

And maybe, in a round-about way, my world had been filled with light all along. Maybe I didn't get to sing carols with my old church members, but I got to hear my roommate perform in a beautiful Christmas concert. Maybe I didn't exchange presents with my godparents, but I exchanged Secret Santa gifts with my new friends—Christmas tree, hot cocoa and all. Maybe all it took to rekindle Christmas magic was decorating the dorm with tinsel, building a gingerbread house with a new friend, baking Dutch pepernootjes for my friends, eating way more cookies than I should have at a Christmas party, or tasting apple cider just like my mom's. Sure, my new college life was never perfect, but I could never dismiss the glow of friendship and family that had ignited over the course of a few short months at Emory.

Maybe it was time to stop questioning and to realize God had already provided all that I needed. It was time to look forward in hope and confidence and trust for all the light that will continue to shine in my life.

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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The Cliche 'Follow Your Heart' Is Probably The Most Important Cliche Of All Time

Our heart or our brain? What should we listen to first?

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In life, we are constantly faced with tough decisions concerning relationships, college, career, marriage … the list of decisions we must make in a lifetime is endless. This means, however, that there are plenty of moments in our life where we will put into question our very own intuition, where we will waste time going back and forth between our mind and our soul. So then we ask ourselves when faced with a decision, what do we listen to? What should we listen to? Our brain or our heart?

Yeah, okay so following your heart is probably the most cliche thing you've ever heard. Our younger selves constantly heard the saying all the time growing up. Did we act on it? Maybe, but not in the ways that we should be acting on it now. Give it a chance and just think about it for a second.

I've realized that as you get older, it becomes harder to just listen to yourself. There are distractions all around you. Some come from the comments of your peers, some come from the devices in your hands, some come from the news headlines you see in bold. With this, you find yourself struggling to find a balance between thinking about something and just doing it. You find yourself unable to decipher what exactly you should listen to. You suddenly become lost within your own little world.

Who would you be if you didn't follow your heart? Would your life be completely different than it is now?

If we think about how we got to the place we're at today, we simultaneously also think about those decisions I mentioned earlier. And those decisions were probably mostly made from our own intuition, not from logistical thinking. The sad part is we don't even realize this, and we don't even realize how important this is.

How did you choose a college? Deciding where you're going to spend the next four years of your life, working towards a career is a big deal. Some will describe their decision as a feeling they got when they stepped on campus. Yes, the tuition was a factor along with retention rates and undergraduate programs and study abroad opportunities, but the one factor that truly mattered was how they felt so at home, while in reality being so far away from their hometown. So, this decision was made from a feeling, this decision was made from the heart.

Relationships. When deciding to tell someone you love them, you're following your heart. When deciding to commit to someone in a relationship or in a friendship or whatever it may be, you're following your heart. You're putting everything on the line because of how you feel. Nothing else matters. Just the two of you, together, happy and in love. And because of that, because of the magnitude of that one feeling, you listen to your heart first and figure out everything else later. Now, being able to have that, being able to experience this type of love, well that's just one of the best feelings in the world.

We can even consider a career. When trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life, you are looking for that feeling, for that career to find you. You are searching for that inevitable inclination telling you, you're meant to do something in this world. You dream big imagining yourself doing this one job that you feel so passionately about, changing the world and inspiring others to do the same. You are motivated by this one field so much that you decide to do it for the rest of your life. If that's not following your heart, then I don't know what is.

It seems so obvious. We hear "follow your heart" all the time. But do we ever actually realize how much impact a heart can have on one's life? No. And that's why it's maybe not so obvious. Because we're told to follow our hearts, but we never actually take the time to comprehend it. And so, we live our lives letting this concept of intuition before cognition become underrated. We let it secretly impact some of our most important life decisions without even ever realizing it.

So realize it. From now on don't just listen. Act. Follow your heart as much as you can and never look back.

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