Don't Go Home For Thanksgiving: The Turkey And Mashed Potatoes Can Wait

Don't Go Home For Thanksgiving: The Turkey And Mashed Potatoes Can Wait

Why you should go to Mexico this year instead.
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Trust me -- I love Thanksgiving as much as the next person. Sweet potato casserole is the one dish that I wait all year for. My dad spends all morning cooking the perfect turkey, I get to be surrounded by my extended family, and having a super extended weekend is the dream. In fourth grade, I even wrote a Thanksgiving play that I then forced my family to act out. You could say I'm a big fan of Thanksgiving. So something that causes me to miss out on that each year must be pretty important to me.

And it is. The reason that I've missed every Thanksgiving and Spring Break since I left for college is because of Mexico and the things that God has been doing and will continue to do down there. He's working both in me and in the people who live there and I think you should experience it too.

Here's why:

1. The kids.

For me, it's all about the kids. Since attending APU, I've had the joy of visiting an orphanage several times and there are few things that bring me more happiness than getting to be with them. They have so much energy and joy which can make the week exhausting, but so rewarding. They truly just want to love and to be loved, which gives us a great opportunity to remind them that they're loved by us and by God. They make the freakishly early morning wake up call bearable, and almost enjoyable

2. The team.

It's cool to see a group of strangers get to know each other over the course of weekly team meetings and then finally come together as a group to serve during the trip. Being surrounded by other people who would give up a week of their life to not shower and sleep on the dirt, all for the purpose of serving others can teach you things. I vividly remember seeing a group of girls willingly clean the entire orphanage from top to bottom, and then, without prompting, begin to pray over the kids and their futures while walking throughout the grounds. It was a blatant reminder to me that there's more to this trip than just playing with kids. It was what I needed to be reminded of in that moment, and God worked through my team to show me that.

3. The camp.

Every morning and evening we gather together as a camp to worship, be reminded of our mission, and to be encouraged despite our exhaustion or discouragement. There's so much energy that exudes from this group of people who are exhausted and have been serving all day long, but there's also a feeling of desperation to experience more of God. Our time of corporate worship just has a different feel than normal chapel, which is refreshing to experience.

4. The food.

I don't do it for the food, but it is a great bonus. Tacos, tortas and Coca Cola with real sugar? Sounds like a nice perk to me.

Plus, eating across from a face like this is priceless.

5. What God has done in my life through Mexico.

How could I not return to a place where I constantly felt God working in my life? Back in my sophomore year of high school, it was an internship in Mexico that changed my life and brought my relationship with God to a whole new level. Since then, on every extended trip that I've been on, God has revealed something to me - whether about Him, myself or the people around me. Mexico was where I developed my passion for serving, where I finally felt God in a real way and was the first time I truly depended on Him for my struggles. My time in Mexico has shaped me into who I am today, and for that reason, I continue to go.

Want to experience it for yourself? Sign up on APU's website.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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8 Reasons Why California Is “The Place To Be”

Many people ask me why I left such an amazing place, and I still don't have an answer.

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I've vacationed in California all my life. I've traveled up the coast and through the deserts and mountains of the Golden State. I've lived there for five years and attended college at a UC (University of California). I am convinced that California is "the place to be", and here's why:

1. The coastline is absolutely breathtaking.

Laguna Beach, CA.

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The turquoise water crashing into the intricately chiseled cliffs is nature at its finest. Hop on Pacific Coast Highway to drive along 840 miles of pure beauty.

2. The weather.

You don't even have to check the forecast in California to know that it is sunny and seventy degrees.

3. Hollywood.

Hollywood, CA

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Being in Hollywood is like being in a movie - spot celebrities roaming the area, gaze upon the amazing mansions that fill the hills, and tour iconic movie sets and studios.

4. The gourmet Mexican food.

Roberto's Tacos, CA

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Whether you are dining in at a classy restaurant on the water, getting take out Mexican from a little shack in the desert, or grabbing a taco from a food truck on the beach, you can't go wrong with the Mexican food.

5. The various universities all across the state.

University of California, San Diego

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Whether you want to study in a beach town, the desert, or the redwood forest, there is a home for you. The state holds 264 colleges and universities for students to choose from.

6. The endless amount of public trails and parks.

California welcomes people to explore the great outdoors - whether you are roaming through the Redwood Forest, hiking to the Hollywood Sign, walking the trails at Big Bear Mountain, or running the trail to the Golden Gate Bridge, there is always another sight to see in California.

7. The various types of terrain.

Mammoth, CA

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Only in California can you surf in the morning and skii in the afternoon. The desert, the forest, the beach, the mountains, and more - all exist in California.

8. Home to “The Happiest Place on Earth”.

Paradise Pier, Disney's California Adventure

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There is never a dull moment hanging with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland or hopping from ride to ride at California Adventure.

Many people ask me why I left such an amazing place, and I still don't have an answer. California is the place to be.

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