Taste And See That The Lord Is Good

Taste And See That The Lord Is Good

My first Chi Alpha Winter Retreat was the bomb.

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When I went into college as a freshman, I wanted to make sure my relationship with God didn't suffer because I was away from my home church community.

I'd grown up hearing stories of people who did great things for the Lord and I wanted to be one of those people, but I feared that college would mean I'd lose my way. Most of my friends back home are a few years older than I am, and some of them have even started families. Because of their faith in me, they've shared stories and struggles over the years that sometimes involved college.

When you're away at college, away from parents and the majority of those who know you, I'll admit it's easier to get away with stuff. I knew this beforehand and, at one point, I'd actually allowed it to scare me so much that I feared college would "change me" without my consent.

And while I wasn't absolutely insane for worrying about that, I was crazy to let so much of my anticipatory joy for college be ruined by it. Flashforward to the second semester of my sophomore year and college has changed me, but only in ways that I've allowed it to.

Because I was so adamant about continuing to foster my faith, I found out about Chi Alpha - one of the campus ministries at Longwood University that also has over 310 chapters at several universities. For some reason, I'd never heard of Chi Alpha (XA) until I came to college, and that's DEFINITELY a God thing.

Thanks to Chi Alpha, I've not only remained who I was in Christ before starting my college career, but I've grown even more and the family I have there has been by my side in fruitful and dry seasons already. They also gave me my first leadership opportunity connected to my faith.

I've been on mission trips before and lead a dance team at a previous church, but I'd never been nor considered myself a leader in my eyes or God's. But the funny thing about God is that He'll use what you think are inadequacies to build something so miraculous, it could only be by His doing.

A couple of weekends ago several chapters of Chi Alpha across the east coast gathered together in D.C. for the annual Winter Retreat. It's a weekend where all everyone stays in the same hotel just to worship Jesus the entire time. We rode down together Friday afternoon and had our first session that night.

The regional director spoke the entire weekend on Romans 12:12, which says, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." He shared stories with us about his job as a "Jesus Coordinator" for a Louisiana college football team as well as a few personal stories that had Jesus written all over them.

On Saturday, we chose two individual sessions (I chose one on prayer and the other on the Holy Spirit) and we even had a few hours to explore the city.

My favorite part, however, aside from getting to grow closer to my XA family within Longwood, was going to the "jam room." The hotel had specifically set aside separate rooms for prayer, missions, and jamming out. And several of us gathered together with people we didn't even know to worship Jesus in that jam room.

As I walked up to the room, I passed an older gentleman in uniform and realized that he was one of the security guards staying up all night to make sure we were safe. He was standing just outside the door so he could keep an eye on things but, as I went past, he was smiling at the fact that all of these college kids were singing praises to Jesus at 2 a.m.

If you have a Chi Alpha on your college campus, I encourage you to try it out. Maybe it's for you, maybe it's not. But, for me, the family that I've received because of it really shows what Heaven is supposed to look like. Different skin colors, nationalities, economic statuses, home lives, genders, etc.

It's all-encompassing, all-loving, and all about Jesus.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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If God Didn’t Intend For Women To Be Equals, Why Did She Make Us So Incredible?

Yeah, I said She.

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An article that absolutely infuriates me has gone viral. As a feminist, as a writer, and simply as a woman, it drives me up a wall to see another woman proclaiming that God's plan for women was to "submit to their husbands."

I don't know where to start with all the issues I found in reading the piece, so I'll start with what a feminist is. It's a subjective term and its connotation varies from person to person.

But to me, feminism is being empowered and expressive individuals with open minds and open hearts. They are activists for change and equality. They have concerns about the environment and global warming. They acknowledge issues within sexism and racism and then try to figure out how to solve them. They see that the world isn't perfect.

Feminists are the reason we can vote. They're the reason birth control is an option for us. They're why we're allowed to wear pants. They're why we have careers. The female pioneers paved the way for anything we're allowed to do, and they are why we celebrate the power of women every March.

But instead, the woman who wrote "I'm A Christian And I'm Not A Feminist, Because God Did Not Intend For Women To Be Equals," used our month of pride for clout. And took justification from The Bible to do it.

The Bible is not an instruction manual. It was written over many, many years by hordes of sexist men whose existence we have minimal proof of. And over the last thousand years, it's been translated and reinterpreted more times than anyone could ever keep track of. That's not to say it doesn't have some good lessons, but lessons are all they are.

Thinking your worth and capabilities were planned for you thousands of years in advance is ignorant. Religion and The Bible and God are as subjective as feminism. Everything is open-ended. One person's view of who or what God is not going to be the same as the last.

Commonly, God is seen as a man at the center of the universe who holds all existence in his hands. He is the reason why anyone does anything. He is the rule maker. And He is judging us and waiting for our every mistake.

But as a proud feminist, I've chosen to have my own idea of this holy being. I wasn't brought up in church, but I decided to believe in something much greater than myself or anything I've ever seen just because I wanted to. I want to believe that faith has to come from somewhere, and I didn't want a book making the rules for me.

Just by watching life move through time, I happen to believe God is the good in all of us. Not one being, but he beginning and the end of everything. The push and the pull. The conscious and subconscious. And considering that God is the creator, I've concluded God must be a woman because women are the creators.

And in my experience, women have proved themselves to be much stronger and more capable than any man.

As for what She creates, I think She makes no mistakes. I think She tests our patience and beliefs by giving us what we don't expect. There's intent and love in everything She gives us. I think every woman was made to be relentless, imperfect, fearless, and even a little rebellious.

And if we're saying Adam and Eve were the start of it all, then God proved that right off the bat. God saved the best for last, and then made her a badass. Yes, the first woman came into this world as a rule breaker. She questioned authority. And since the beginning of time, authority has been a snake. The world is our forbidden fruit to bite.

The sole purpose of a woman isn't to submit to anyone. A woman can do whatever she damn well pleases, just as any man. A woman's worth isn't tied to what kind of wife or mother she is and how closely she follows the rules. I was raised by the most incredible mom and wife. She did happen to stay at home with me and be the traditional woman. But while she was home, she taught me how great it is to be a woman. She made sure I knew I could be whoever I wanted and would pay no consequences for that.

My parents didn't raise me in a church. And I never saw that as a flaw or lack of judgment. My southern home was like a church; full of faith and love. But on Sundays, we would sleep in and have a big breakfast at noon because we had too much fun staying up late Saturday night dancing around our living room to music. Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, and Madonna led the choir — singing about independence and the power of being empowered as women.

As a feminist, I will not judge those who haven't accepted all the honors of being female. I can just tell everyone how wonderful it is to stand for something. I can set an example so that more women will go forward.

And despite what anyone thinks of feminism, there's nothing exclusive about it. Feminists don't think they're any better than men, they just want the chance to prove their capabilities. It's so much bigger than thinking men suck. The truth is, we should have men at our side, not in front of or behind us. And not for romantic partnerships, but as allies. The best men are feminists too. We can make this walk alone, but there's power in numbers and in diversity.

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