Nooga Strong

Nooga Strong

Chattanoogans are coming together like never before.
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A city usually so full of passion and life is mourning the loss of five marines in a tragic shooting last Thursday. A makeshift memorial of flowers and flags was created in the grass in front of the marine recruiting center where the catastrophe occurred.

The shooter, 24-year-old Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was reportedly a good student and nice guy. After returning from a trip to Jordan last year, his family told investigators that something in his personality had changed.

They claimed he struggled with depression and released this statement: "It grieves us beyond belief to know that his pain found its expression in this heinous act of violence". But depression isn't an excuse to kill five men fighting for our nation.

The act of ruthless violence was meant to tear Chattanooga at the seams. And the city is definitely hurting. However, this atrocious crime is revealing the wonderful sense of fellowship that is Chattanooga. The citizens of the warm and inviting town are supporting one another through the pain and mourning. The solemn silence at the temporary memorial is a reminder that although they are down, Chattanooga is clearly not out.

God bless those affected by this horrid tragedy.

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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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My Relationship With Religion Will Never Be Black And White

and that's okay!

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I was raised Christian let's get that out the way. Growing up in a small town I went to Awana (a children's church group Wednesday nights) and then once I was in middle school started youth group that night instead as well as a normal church on Sundays. If you would ask me from me being really young to probably around 15 I was all about church and building a relationship with God.

After leaving public school and growing my presence online and meeting so many people from all walks of life, I started questioning things.

Suddenly, I was immersed in this community with the best people who just loved everyone regardless of gender or sexuality or race and it was the place I was able to come to terms with something I had always repressed, my feelings towards girls.

I knew the moment I started talking to a girl named Laura that I had feelings for her I would normally have for a boy and because of the people I now had around me I just didn't suppress it. I identified online and eventually to family and friends as bisexual.

My questions started with wondering how my god this loving all knowing entity I had always known was un-accepting and promoted the exclusion of the LGBTQ+ community from the Christian faith. I knew that this community was full of the most loving and creative and beautiful people I have ever met and that was the start of me knowing my relationship with God would never be the same.

As I grew up and have become an activist for the things that mean a lot to me I have stopped attending church and have begun to see that I do not want any part in ANY religion that takes part in shunning anyone based on how they identify. I have been vocal about this to many people some more excepting then others but regardless I will never again take part in something that I myself am not 100% accepted within

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