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I just want you to know you are loved. You are loved so very much.
Recently I was blessed to be a counselor at a wonderful camp, secluded in a cornfield somewhere in Virginia. I consider myself to be a seasoned camp counselor, as I have not only been a camper for most of my life but have been privileged enough to work multiple camps with all kinds of different facilities. I have worked camps with multi-thousand dollar facilities, with zip lines, rock walls, ropes courses, and boats. I have worked at camps with amazing water sports, camps with paintball, camps with canoes and paddle boats and floating blobs or trampolines in the middle of the water. I have worked at camps with in ground pools and camps without any pools, and even some camps with go-karts. I've had problem kids, kids who refuse to listen to anything I say, kids who sneak out after lights out to meet a significant other, and kids who are every camp counselors dream.
This past week, I was blessed with an amazing group of girls. They listened to almost everything I said, they cleaned like they were related to Danny Tanner, they sat on the front row every time service started, they lifted their hands in worship, they showed excellent sportsmanship during team games, and they were sweet, kind, caring, inclusive, and team players. It was wonderful. But while I watched my girls and I felt my heart swell for the wonderful experiences they were having I noticed something. I noticed the girl sitting in the back row with her knees drawn up to her chest. I noticed the boy slouched down in his seat, glancing around as if he was afraid someone would try and come speak to him. I noticed the girl with her her eyes on the floor, her headphones in, not joining in the service. Not hearing the words of love and hope the preacher spoke about their lives.
My heart, bursting with happiness and pride only moments before broke into pieces To the girl in the back row, I just want you to know you are loved. You are loved so very much. You may not realize it, but you are. I don't know your story. I don't know if you come from a broken home. I don't know if you have had something traumatic happen to you. Maybe you are just shy. Maybe you don't like crowds. But dear precious girl, do not let these things keep you from missing out on a wonderful experience. I know what it's like to be the girl on the front row, the happy girl with lots of friends. But I also know what it is like to be the girl in the back row, the girl who is terrified of being called out and embarrassed, but secretly hopes someone will anyway. I don’t know your story, but I can guess what you are feeling. You want someone to pay attention to you, someone to give you hope. Someone to tell you that you aren't worthless.
You aren’t worthless. You are worth more than you ever dreamed. My sweet beautiful girl, hiding on the back row, you are a princess. You were bought with the highest price anyone can pay. Have you ever dreamed of a prince charming to come riding up in a white Camry and whisk you away from everything? You have a prince charming. He is the prince of peace, and his name is wonderful, counselor, healer, redeemer, friend. He is a relentless lover, pursuing you without ceasing. I know you can't always feel his presence. Neither can I. But he is there. He is there when you don’t see him when you don’t feel him, and when you think everyone else has abandoned you, he is there. He will never leave you, he promises to stick closer to you than your own family. Oh my sweet girl sitting on the back row, I pray you will one day feel his loving arms surrounding you. I know how scared you must be.
The back row is safe. It’s a small island in the midst of the self-proclaimed Jesus freaks. The back row is where no one will make you stand up in front of everyone. The back row is where no one falls over and says weird things that you can not understand. The back row is where no one pays attention to you, and no one notices you, even when you secretly hope someone will. But there is a downside to the safety of the back row, perhaps you may have started to realize this as camp drew to a close. In the back row, you aren’t surrounded by people who want to love on you. In the back row, there is no one to come up and put their arm around you while you cry. There is no one to pray for you, hold you, or show you the compassion, mercy, love, forgiveness, and acceptance that you deserve and desperately seek. There is no healing in safety. Think of going to the doctor’s office.
You need a shot to get better from an illness, but the needle is big and you are scared. The shot may hurt, but without it, how will you get better? Beautiful princess in the back row with your head down, please look up. I am here. I see you. You won’t be alone. If you need someone to sit with you, please just make eye contact with me. I will be there. You have left camp now. I don’t know what you are doing or how things are at home, but I am praying for you. At night, as your tears wet your pillow, I am praying for the Father to the Fatherless comes and surrounds you with his love. During your school days, as you seek acceptance from the other kids, I will be praying you find it in the one who wants to be your Savior. Someone saw you. Someone noticed. Someone cared. Next Sunday at church, next Wednesday at youth group, I pray you will move a seat closer. I pray you will find your courage and your boldness. Because sweet, sweet girl on the back row, someone noticed you, and someone cares. To the girl in the back row, if no one else tells you this today, I want you to know, I love you, and so does Jesus.
"As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th"- Donald J. Trump
The United Nations (UN) has been in existence since June of 1945. Since then, the world has come together to work on and solve some of the harshest problems that face the Human Race. Be it children in societal ills like Human Trafficking, natural issues like Deforestation, or issues of extreme poverty, the UN has worked together in an attempt to make it a better place for us all. It's the only organization in the history of the world to bring people together in a willing, peaceful way; a feat that not even the League of Nations could do in the Post- WWI era. Why was it that one organization failed, and the other one is still going strong, 72 years later?
Well, one could argue that it was and is United States involvement that has kept it afloat for so long. The League was created in the Paris Peace Conference following WWI at the urging of President Woodrow Willson as the first Intergovernmental organization who's sole purpose was to maintain world peace. However, when the charter was presented to the US senate for ratification, it was shot down due to extreme isolationism. Because of this, the LON was never able to gain the political traction that it needed to be an effective force in the world and ultimately led to WWII.
Through the horrors of WWII, it was revealed that the world needed to unite more than ever. Towards the end of the war effort, 51 nations signed the charter of the UN, though, it did not come into power until after the ratification of the charter by the P5 (Russia, China, France, UK, and the USA), as well as a majority of the remaining countries.
Since that time, the UN has done incredible things to make the world a better place. They created the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which affirms the basic rights of each and every individual on the planet, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which went into effect in 1970, banning the manufacture of nuclear weapons technology, countless Peacekeeping missions (we can debate the effectiveness of the peacekeepers at a later date), UNICEF, and lots of other things.
So, this brings me to the reason why I am writing this. In recent weeks, President-elect Donald Trump has been less-than-friendly to the Intergovernmental organization. Calling it a club for people to go to and "have a good time" and calling it a "waste of time and money." If the President-elect continues with this dangerous rhetoric, the dangers would be astronomical. The risk with this rhetoric is the possibility of the U.S. drawing out of the UN, which would have domino effects. It would effectively remove us from all the UN treaties that we are a part of, like the NPT, which would put us in the same league of North Korea as the only two nations to withdraw from it. Our support of peacekeeping ops, various UN programs, and risk the stability of the entire nation.
Now, I am far from biased in writing this. I have participated in Model UN for the past 2 years, this year will mark my third conference, and I have fallen in love with what the UN stands for. It brings people together, from throughout the world, to fight common problems. Yes, it may not be effective, or the best organized, or well oiled like smaller organizations, but neither is our government. Why would we not support something that has kept the world from full scale war for the past 70 years?
"Who cares if I'm pretty if I fail my finals?"
Quick-witted and insanely smart, Rory Gilmore has a track record for memorable, relevant quotes that have become a part of fans’ repertoires. With it being finals season, many of Rory’s words can be conveniently interpreted to reflect life during the last weeks of the semester. Here are some of Rory’s wisest words that explain your life during finals season.
"Who cares if I'm pretty if I fail my finals?"
Gone are the days of actually trying to look decent when going out in public. Now you’re heading to the library in workout shorts and an old t-shirt with your hair in a messy bun. School first, fashion second.
“My books look sad. Can books look sad?”
“College is not just a crazy, wild, sleep-deprived, hedonistic society!”
Actually, it is. Emphasis on the sleep-deprived.
“I’ve now used the word ‘suck’ so much that it’s lost all meaning to me.”
And you’ve probably used it about your final term paper or your ability to stay focused on studying for more than five minutes at a time.
“I cannot do this alone. I need my mommy and I don’t care who knows it.”
It’s okay, we all turn into needy children during finals season.
“A ‘D’ at Stars Hollow High is like an ‘F’ at Chilton. It’s worse. It’s like a ‘G’…or a ‘W’.”
You’re basically accepting that there is a class or two in which you might just get a grade that comes after the letter ‘F’. You tried.
“A little nervous breakdown can really work wonders for a girl.”
A nervous breakdown doubles as an excellent study break!
“Can’t you shut up for five seconds, please? Thank you.”
Your response when your friends start daydreaming aloud about the imminent summer. Or your friends’ response to you when you procrastinate studying by rambling on about who knows what.
“I can’t finish all this and sleep at the same time."
It may seem like you can’t finish, but trust me. You can. And you will. Every difficult task eventually gets completed. And even if you’re seriously lacking some sleep, you have an entire summer ahead of you to make up for it.
As difficult as finals season is, and as much as these Rory quotes can relate to your life at this time, it’s important to stay motivated and focused on finishing the semester. Remember that summer is right around the corner. Besides, if you’re ever feeling in need of some motivation as you push through finals season, just ask yourself: WWRGD. (What would Rory Gilmore do?) I think you know the answer.
My experience welcoming the Jewish new year.
Well, the fall season is finally upon us. It’s time for pumpkin spice coffee, apple cider and lots of candy.
It’s also time for some holidays, such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. For myself and others in the Jewish community, it’s time for the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This past weekend was Rosh Hashanah.
Rosh Hashanah marks the start of the Jewish new year. Besides it being the time for apples, honey and challah bread, it’s a time when we think about all that’s happened in the past year. It’s also when we think of the changes we want to see in the new one.This was the second year that I was away from my family for the holiday. I go to school about three and a half hours from where I live, but this being one of the most important holidays, I made sure that I could get home. I packed up my heels, my clothes for temple and headed home. When I walked through the front door, I immediately saw how much has changed.
I walked into a house that was full of new furniture and everything had been moved around. People had moved bedrooms, some stuff had been painted and there were different cars in the driveway. And then I thought about how in just a few months things had changed so much. What about this whole year? I have so much to be grateful for.
I thought about my family and how lucky I am that everyone is still here and still healthy. I thought about my little siblings, who have grown and matured. I thought about myself, and how I’ve learned to be comfortable being away from home.
Before I knew it, it was time to have Rosh Hashanah dinner. I got a little emotional on the inside. My entire family always gets together for this holiday, which doesn’t happen often. My grandparents lead the dinner, we catch up and we talk about what’s happening in everyone’s lives. Everyone always has a new story to tell each year. Everyone is interested in the growth that’s happened around the table.
The very next day, I woke up early in the morning to go to temple with my grandparents. I used to hate going to temple when I was little, but now as an adult, I’m starting to see why my mother used to always make me go. It’s about family and growing closer to one another as Jewish people. I’m grateful that I still have the privilege of going to temple with my siblings and grandparents. I’m grateful I can be home to celebrate with them.
Not everyone can do this. Not everyone is able to be home for the holidays with everyone that they love. So, this Rosh Hashanah, I’m recognizing the blessings that I have. A lot has changed since the last Jewish new year. This year has been full of laughter, tears, heartbreak, growth and new experiences.
And I can’t wait to see what this next year brings.
10 reasons why you should love fall
It's officially fall, which means I am happy, so very happy. Fall is hands down the best season on the planet. Below, I will go over reasons as to why fall is the best and should be loved by everyone.
1. The leaves
Do you remember when you were little and raked all the leaves into a large pile and jumped into them? Wasn't that fun? Do you remember hearing the satisfying "crunch" of the leaves under your boots as you walk down the street or on your way to class? Not to mention the colors of the leaves are spectacular and gorgeous. The leaves are perhaps the best part.
Halloween falls in fall, which means pumpkin that you can carve out and decorate. Not to mention eat. I'm not huge on pumpkin spice much, but I will say that the pumpkin scones at Starbucks are pretty awesome. Go try one? Or just enjoy your pumpkin spice everything that is sold these days.
3. Sweaters, beanies, boots, leggings
The great thing about fall is that you can wear your cute boyfriend beanie, your large knit sweater, your warm stylish leggings and comfy boots and feel and look 100 percent. And you don't have to shave everyday, which is such a pain in the summer.
4. Temperature & weather
Fall is the time that includes the best temperatures and weather patterns. It's not too hot, nor too cold to be outside. Sweaty, gross "swamp ass" does not exist in fall. Also, perfect bonfire weather with s'mores.
5. Homemade pumpkin pie
Nothing is better than homemade pumpkin pie. Nothing.
6. Hot chocolate/ tea/ coffee/pumpkin spice drinks time
Summer is just a bit too hot to have tea, coffee and hot chocolate almost every night. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy these lovely and wonderful drinks. Although I'd argue that coffee is an anytime, any situation type of drink. Nonetheless, fall is the season of hot chocolate, tea and pumpkin spice drinks.
7. Blankets! Cuddling!
Fall is the perfect time for two things: Blankets and cuddling. Who doesn't like blankets and cuddling? Also, add in Netflix there. Blankets + Cuddling + Netflix = life goals and the ultimate happiness. Yes, you can cuddle your pets if you don't have a S.O. Plus, pets won't usually try to steal the blankets, or change the show you're watching.
8. Holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving)
Holidays are great. Holidays are fun. Who doesn't like getting dressed up as a "slutty nurse" or as Superman and eating a lot of candy and food?
Even better, who doesn't like home-cooked turkey with stuffing and gravy? I'm literally almost drooling thinking about it? Also, pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving, ftw.
9. Cool, crispy nights
The freshness and crispness of the air is intoxicating and wonderful. Learn it, live it, love it.
I don't understand much about football, besides the fact that guys go onto a field and tackle each other over a weirdly shaped ball. Either way, I always love watching it with my dad and mom while we eat our awesome chip dip. The hype of football is fun and it's always reminded me of my special family time. So, kudos to football for that only reason.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign