The Gift Of Life

The Gift Of Life

Everyday is a gift from God.


Everyday that you start the day alive should be looked at as the gift of life. Everyday is a new present from God. You get to wake up. You get to climb out of bed. You get to see people you work with. You get to see your friends. You get to talk to your family. You get to experience the little things in life. You may see the sun shine in the sky. You may see the clouds above your head. You can smell the flowers in your yard. If it's winter, you can feel the cold hit your face. You can touch the snow. You can smell the winter air. You can feel the chill on your cheeks.

No matter what the day is, what time of year it is, what day of week it is, what month on the calendar it is, you can experience life. You get to live it. You get to breathe it. You get to walk through it. The gift of life is an amazing thing. Everyday is a new present from God.

Some people may not believe in God. Others believe in God too much to the point they shove Him down your throat. But regardless of what happens, who believes in what, or who follows who- the air hits you, the flowers grow, the trees blossom, the wind blows and the gift of life happens.

Every single day something new happens. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. But it's part of life. The gift of life gives us the chance to meet new people, to learn new things, to talk to a stranger, to open a door for someone you don't know, to pay it forward or to put a smile on someone's face that needs to be cheered up.

No matter what happens during each day of your life, you are given a gift. You are given the opportunity to make a difference, to do something good, to change someone's life or to make an impact like you haven't done on another day of your life. It is a gift. To be here. To enjoy the day. To live the life. To find happiness. To find peace. To breathe.

And to enjoy the gift you've been given.

Everyday will have its struggles. Everyday will have its ups and downs. Everyday will have a moment (or more) of disappointment. Everyday will have things that you and I don't want to see. There will be unhappy experiences. There will be difficult times. There will be struggles. No matter how hard you and I try, we will not always be happy. We will not always find what or who we are looking for. But no matter what happens, good, bad, or ugly? We have the gift. The gift of life.

Everything happens for a reason. Every person starts a new day. Every person experiences new things. We see the sun shine. We feel the breeze blow. We hear the crickets in the fields. We hear the sounds on a playground. We see the children play. We watch adults talk. We hear things around us. We watch traffic. We drive cars. We ride bikes.

We enjoy the gift of life.

Every day, no matter good, bad, or ugly- is a gift of life. If you are here? You are alive. You are given a gift.

Enjoy it. It's life. The one thing others who aren't here with us today cannot experience. What many others cannot enjoy. What many others will never get another chance to do.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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What The Month Of January Means To Me And My Muslim Peers Today

The fear of discrimination, hate, and not feeling like they belong in a place they've lived their whole lives lingered subconsciously.


I remember one particular January evening in 2016 distinctly. My friends and I were crowded around a fireplace with mugs of hot chocolate in hand, chatting and laughing about anything and everything. We talked about the new year, what our plans were, and thought back to the year behind us. Our conversation took a dark turn when someone said, "Hey, the anniversary of Deah, Yusor and Razan's death is coming up."

To many, these names are long forgotten or completely unfamiliar. However to my tight circle of friends, they represented a fear instilled in them the day they chose to accept Islam as their faith, or to put on the headscarf, traditionally known as the hijab. The fear of discrimination, hate, and not feeling like they belong in a place they've lived their whole lives lingered subconsciously. On February 10th the year before, three Muslim American graduate students were murdered execution style in their home located close to the heart of UNC's campus. Two of the targets, Deah Shaddy Barakat and Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, were to be married later that year. Yusor's sister, Razan Abu-Salha, was on the path to becoming an architect as she finished her studies at NC State. Thousands grieved throughout the country over the loss of these three inspiring individuals, affectionately referred to as "Our Three Winners", and were outraged by the fatal outcome of this so-called "parking dispute" gone wrong. In a time where islamophobia was (and is) on the rise, this touched the lives of many around me and validated the dreadful reality that the place I call home is not as safe as I thought.

Although the murderer, Craig Hicks, is in the process of being brought to justice through a lengthy trial and time behind bars, it isn't easy to forget the details the police forgot to give in regards to the incident. It's important to note that two of the slain victims, Yusor and Razan, were wearers of the hijab as many Muslims in today's world are, which makes them prime examples of potential subjectivity to racialization, and unfortunately, hate crimes. What also sparked the notion that the shootings were representative of a hate crime were the events leading up to it. Yusor and Razan's father, Mohammad Abu-Salha, stated that the students were afraid of Hicks, "who had come more than once to their doorstep with a gun in his waistband." His social media didn't help his case either, as he posted many photos of his wide array of military-style weapons, anti-Muslim memes and revealed his hatred towards religion. There were many accounts where the three victims felt animosity from Hicks because of their Muslim heritage.

"The morning following the murder, Chapel Hill Police released a statement saying that "preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking". This was the most preferred claim by corporate news outlets, as many were quick to put out headlines like, "Parking dispute, not bias, triggered triple murder, say NC police." When this was revealed to the public, people were furious in regards to these allegations because in reality, Hicks was in violation of the apartment complex's rules on parking while the three victims were not. This demonstrated how many would rather settle with this conclusion than to find out the truth about what happened and inevitably leads me to wonder what would've happened if the roles were reversed, if a Muslim man shot three Caucasian neighbors.After hearing about the shooting, it is safe to say that I was in shock. How could something like this happen so close to home? Although I wasn't personally close to the slain victims' family, many of my loved ones were. Tears were shed, prayers were made, and to watch this unfold broke my heart. What hit me the most was the fact that this could have happened to any of my Muslim friends; those who visibly portray their faith through their hijabs, dark skin, or any other inkling that represented their identity. Is it possible to every feel safe again? I thought to myself after I attended many memorials and vigils in honor of the victims.

After the crime took place, many felt the need to heavily assimilate to American culture by removing their hijabs, changing their names and hiding their true selves, simply because they didn't feel that they belonged anymore. The feeling of security and safety, a huge part of what the politics of belonging stands for, was stripped from my peers and me.Personally, the primary lesson I learned through this was that although the event was devastating and not at all deserved, it brought upon a sense of community and belonging among Muslims. Those who didn't interact because of differences in race, social class, what mosque they attended or any other facet finally did so warmly, as they all bonded through this roller coaster of emotions and through compassion, understanding and the sense of unity.

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