Four Things I Wish I Knew as A Freshman

Welcome to Nyack, where your walk to class is uphill both ways.
I hope you brought some decent shoes.

It seems like just yesterday I was preparing for my freshman year. Not of college, but of high school. I blinked, and then I was packing up the car and journeying across the midwest to get to Nyack for my freshman orientation. Now I’m preparing for my sophomore year of college. People are not kidding when they tell you that time flies.

As I approach my sophomore year and reflect on my freshman year, there are things I wish people would have told me. As your friendly, neighborhood collegiate, I hope I can share these things with you, like I wish someone would have done for me.

1. Stop and smell the coffee. (Or roses. Whatever floats your boat.)
As you prepare for this next stage in your life, deliberately stop to take it in. While in the midst of things, you think you have all the time in the world. But before you know it, you’re on the other side and wishing you could go back and have just a little bit more time. Trust me, I’d know.

So take the time to take it in. Take mental notes. Take pictures. You’ll want to be able to look back on all of these years, hopefully some of the best years of your life.

You’ll want mementos from this time in your life, as well as photographic evidence of all of your poor fashion and hair decisions. We need something for our kids to laugh at, right?

2. Go do things.
There are a million things to do in college, so you have no reason to be bored. There are even more things to do during your first couple weeks at school. Even if you’re an antisocial introvert (like me), you should take advantage of as many opportunities you can handle your first year, especially your first week. That is the time when everyone is just like you: nervous and and looking for friends.
A pretty picture, right? Not so much.

Everyone is searching for a friend when they first get to school. All of those annoying luncheons and ice cream socials are there to help you meet people. Take advantage of them.

When some random person invites you to go grab a bite with a bunch of other random people you don’t know, say yes. Some of those random people I didn’t know are now some of my best friends.

3. You don’t have to stay friends with people.
It seems like every adult I know has at least one friend that they met freshman year of college, and they have been friends with that person for years. I also know a lot of people who are still friends with their freshman roommate, and that their roommate was later in their wedding.

Maybe you’ll have that friend too. Maybe you’ll meet them week one, maybe week fifteen. Maybe you won’t meet them until year four. Who knows.

But know this: you don’t have to stay friends with the people you meet week one. You don’t have to stay friends with your roommate from freshman year.

Not everyone is cut out to be friends for a lifetime. Think about it. How many of your ‘BFFLs’ from elementary school are still your best friend?

You don’t have to try and save friendships just to save face. You should obviously salvage a friendship if you can, and be cordial at the least. But I know a lot of people who continued to be in torturous friendships because they thought they had to, because it was the first person they met on campus and it makes a good story, etc..

4. Don’t stress over grades.
Yes, the education major just told you not to stress over grades. If you look out your window, you just might see a flying pig.

Stress about your education, not about your grades. Grades are not always an accurate reflection of your effort. Almost anyone who has taken an upper level math class will agree with me.
Whether or not your grades reflect your effort, B’s still get degrees. (Yes, C’s do too for the most part, but C’s don’t always get scholarships.)

So care more about your learning, comprehension, and retention. After all, that is supposed to be the reason we go to college, right?

 

All in all, enjoy college. Take pictures. Don’t stress. Put your theological studies and knowledge into practice. Seek God and trust Him to guide you. It’s that simple.

10 Reasons to Consider a Remote Internship

This summer, I interned remotely at The Borgen Project, a non-profit based in Seattle, Washington. Working remotely has its benefits, including no geographical limitations and increased accountability. It has also helped me determine how I work best and how to work smart and efficiently.

Benefits to a remote internship:

  1. 1. No Geographical Limitations

You can choose to intern anywhere in or outside your state without the travel. If opportunities in your field (or your dream job) are not near where you live or are limited, you can intern elsewhere without leaving home or having the expense of travel.

  1. Flexibility

Most remote internships allow you to set your own schedule. You also have more flexibility if you have a part-time job or need to balance course work.

  1. Save Money

You can also have a part-time job (if you can juggle both) and save transportation expenses.

  1. Save Time

You don’t have a commute or set office hours, so a remote internship allows you more time in the day and flexibility.

  1. Increased accountability

With a flexible schedule and no boss checking on you, you need a strong work ethic. You will have work and responsibilities, and although you work from home, it doesn’t mean it will be easy. You need to stay on top of it or else it will be overwhelming.

  1. Improve Your Communication Skills

You need to check emails and respond promptly. Be proactive. If you need to communicate something, speak up, whether by emailing, calling or video chatting.

  1. College Credit or Paid?

Remote internships may be unpaid but will give you college credit. Don’t skip the opportunity. While paychecks won’t be flowing into your bank account, earning college credit will save you money in the long run. Also, treat your internship like a job and a class. The work and effort you put in will determine how much you get out of it. It is also preparing you for future opportunities and careers.

  1. Work Anywhere

Work in your home, a coffee shop, bookstore or anywhere you can get the work done. You have a flexible work space and can work where you are most comfortable.

  1. Getting to Know Your Work Style

Working remotely lets you discover how you work best. When and where are you most productive? Do you need more structure? How do you develop structure and stay accountable?

  1. Develop Boundaries

As you create your schedule, get to know your work style and stay accountable, you will need to set boundaries for yourself. Know what you can handle as you juggle your internship, a job, course work and a social life. This is a good thing!  You develop more respect for yourself by taking control of what you want to get out of your internship and how you get it done by setting priorities.

The Prodigal Son: The Older Brother

This year at soccer camp we have been teaching the kids about the story of the Prodigal Son during Bible time. (For those of you who are not familiar with this story, the original text can be found in Luke 15:11-32.) I am a coach/counselor for the pipsqueaks of the camp, ranging from age 6-8. Actually, this past week I had a 3 year old and a couple of 5 year old campers in my group. To my surprise and delight, their age in no way hindered them from understanding the story and the main points that they were supposed to learn. If anything, their young minds understood it better than those who have had time to assimilate to the world.

When most people read this parable, they only focus on the younger son, the prodigal. They focus on how the younger son dishonored and hurt his father, took his inheritance, and wasted it all on useless and fading pleasures. They focus on how he, like we all do, tried to do things his own way and ended up failing. They focus on how, when he decided to come back home to his father and older brother, was welcomed back by the father with loving, outstretched arms, just like God does with us.

And that’s where most people normally leave it.

I am not most people.

The older brother in the story stayed home and worked for the dad while the younger brother was off doing his thing. The older brother resolved that he would work all day everyday, earning his keep instead of demanding it like his younger brother. That might not have been such a bad idea, except that the older brother lost sight of why he was working, lost sight of why he was home with his father. As a matter of fact, he was working so much that he never even saw his father.

How often do we get so caught up in what we’re doing, be it things for the Kingdom or for ourselves, that we forget to look up to our Father? So caught up in life that we forget why we are even alive in the first place? We know that life is nothing without Jesus, yet we lose sight of that while we are commuting to our 9 to 5, or even on the arduous journey from Hilltop to Simpson.

When I asked my campers if they could have a relationship with someone they never see or talk to, their answer was a resounding “No!” If small children understand that, why can’t we? We think that we can claim to be Christians, claim to have a relationship with God, and then go on about our daily lives, uninterrupted.

Wrong.

A 6 year old knows that. When we take a step back, you and I know and realize that too.

The older brother was so caught up in working that he forgot why he was living. He was working to earn his keep, working to earn his father’s love. In all his toils, he forgot that love is not something to be earned, but given. Furthermore, the love of a father, at least our Heavenly one, is unconditional. God’s love is not bound to our good deeds, which are nothing more than filthy rags in light of His glory (Isaiah 64:6).

The younger son, the one who betrayed his family and effectively wished his father dead, was the one to come back home and admit his wrongs. He was the one to enter into the father’s love and forgiveness, the one to enter into the celebratory feast.

The older brother, on the other hand, the one who thought he did everything right, refused to admit his wrongdoings, refused to admit the fact that maybe he didn’t know everything, refused to admit that he couldn’t do everything on his own. But more importantly, he refused to enter into his father’s love, the very thing he was trying to earn. When the father invited him into the feast, he angrily declined, his pride and sense of entitlement welling up within him. Instead of forgiving his brother and setting their differences aside, he seethed with anger. He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that his father could love unconditionally, love without expecting anything in return.

Friends, our Father loves unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. He does not ask us to try and earn His love with good deeds or with hours spent in the sanctuary. He simply asks that we love Him back and that we follow His lead.  

Top 9 Things You’ll Miss While at College

So you’ve made it to college, the big leagues. You’ve finally gotten out of the house and on to bigger things. Actually, I’m willing to bet that your dorm room is smaller than you imagined. Anyway, that’s not the point. While there is a lot about college that is amazing and freeing, there are a few downsides, some things that are better at home.

1. A Home Cooked Meal
Cafeteria food will never replace a home cooked meal. That’s just how it is. Though they try, the chefs in the caf can’t make pasta sauce like my mother. No one can.

To combat the longing for home-cooking, I recommend keeping little reminders of home around in your dorm. Maybe your favorite snack foods from home, like chips and hummus or your favorite salsa.

2. Your Own Bathroom
There is just something wonderful about not having another human next to you (or the next stall over) when you’re in the restroom. Call me crazy, but some things are better done alone.

I recommend bringing along a little speaker or just your phone speaker when you shower. Listening to your favorite song and singing off key makes it feel more like your own shower at home. (But don’t play/sing so loudly that the whole floor can hear you. Don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy.)

Spending a little bit extra to get the huge, fluffy towels doesn’t hurt, either.

3. Cooking in Your Own Kitchen
I love to cook. I always have. Granted, it has always been in my own kitchen, a kitchen that has everything I need and I know where all of those things are. I also don’t need an RA to unlock said kitchen.

4. Not Having to Label Everything You Own
This one is only partially true. I don’t know about you, but my family thinks that any takeout box that finds its way into the kitchen is fair game unless someone puts their name on it. And even then. . . You know, that actually does sound a lot like college. Never mind.

5. Free Laundry
This one speaks for itself.

6. Friends and Family
Yeah, your siblings annoy you and your parents don’t give you enough space. But nothing beats coming together as a family, even as a dysfunctional one.

7. Your Home Church
I don’t know about you, but I come from a very small town where everyone knows everyone. My church is the same way. We have a congregation of about 150 or so, and they are the village that helped raise me. Going to Sunday service there is going home.

8. The Familiarity of Your Hometown
Exploring your new college town is wonderful and exciting, but there is comfort in driving the streets on which you grew up.

9. Freedom
Didn’t see this one coming, did you? It is a widely-held belief that you have more freedom when you are in college than you have in high school. There is certainly some truth to that. But I long for the days of not having to worry about student loans, the job market, and whether or not I can manage two jobs with my current course load.

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Global Worship

I’ve had the privilege of being a part of Ambassadors Football for several years now, an international soccer ministry. They put on soccer camps all around the world, and it is currently camps season in the US. Footballers from all over the globe come to the States to coach the camps, from small town Ohio, to London, to a village in Liberia. They come here for five weeks in total, one week of training and four weeks of camp. We have about 70 coaches at our training week this year, the training week being referred to as TREC (Training, Resourcing, and Equipping Coaches).

Every day at TREC starts out with corporate worship, believers from 25 different countries coming together to praise our Father in song. This is typically led by the host church’s worship team. On the last day of TREC, however, worship was led by some of our South African coaches, and being led by some of our own created an even deeper sense of unity as we started our day.

For those of you that are not familiar with South Africa, the nation has 11 official languages, some of the more prominent being Afrikaans, English, and Zulu. Seeing as this is so and that South Africans were leading worship, we sang praises to God in several different languages. While I like to think that I am knowledgeable and good with languages, I am not fluent in Zulu or Afrikaans. Luckily for me (and the rest of the room), the translations were written beneath the lyrics.

As I stood there worshiping beside my brothers and sisters from across the globe, I feel like I caught a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. Represented in that room by 70 people were 70 unique testimonies, 25 countries, and even more languages (apparently being trilingual is a common thing in the rest of the world). Despite the differences between us, cultural and otherwise, we were all united there for one purpose: to glorify God.

I was moved as I listened to the songs and the quiet prayers in Afrikaans, French, and other languages that I didn’t recognize.  I caught sight of a bigger picture, of a bigger and more glorious God than I had fully realized before. We know conceptually that God is more powerful, more magnificent, more creative than we could ever imagine. Yet in that moment I was surrounded by His power, majesty, and creativity from all over the globe, and I was in awe. I still am, and I pray that I will never cease to be.

Friends, I wish that I could recreate that moment for you, that you might experience it for yourself. But unless you join us in ministry next summer, I don’t know how to do that. Instead, I urge you to ask our Father to give you that glimpse, for He is actually able to do so. I urge you to go beyond conceptual knowledge and to go deeper, to belief, to awe.

Our God is staggering and awesome, in all senses of the word. Not only that, but He is gracious enough to let us enter in to His kingdom, to become His children. His glory is all around us. We only need to open our eyes, fixing them on Him and things above, and He will reveal to us more than we could ever imagine.

How My Internship at The Borgen Project Motivates Me to Help People Across the World

I am interning as a journalist this summer at The Borgen Project, a national campaign fighting poverty on the political level. Since interning at the nonprofit, I have realized how we can advocate worldwide change.

The Borgen Project believes that our nation should be doing more to address global poverty. By contacting our nation’s leaders and urging them to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy, we not only help to secure our interests in the U.S., i.e. improve national security, expand our markets and create more U.S. jobs, we also help people across the world though thousands of miles separate us. I have realized how the efforts of one person can multiply and create global change by contacting congressional leaders about poverty reduction legislation and mobilizing others to do so as well. Congressional leaders care about the views their district has about bills, and the more support a bill receives, it has a greater chance to reach The United Sates House of Representatives and eventually the Senate.

As a journalist for The Borgen Project, I cover how the world tackles poverty and improves lives for those in the most impoverished areas. I also write about the good news, the triumphs for poverty reduction efforts, and the improvements in education happening globally. I have learned more about the nations in our world than I could have ever imagined, and it has motivated me to make a positive difference for people across the world as a journalist at home.

Founder of The Borgen Project, Clint Borgen, was a volunteer firefighter during the Kosovo War. Based at a refugee camp, Borgen saw that the U.S. needed to do more to address global poverty. After graduating college and working at the U.N. in 2003, Borgen created The Borgen Project as an organization to help fight global poverty on the political level. As an intern, I see the progress that not only the organization has made but our nation as it addresses poverty and fights for our nation and the world’s people.

In 2016, The Borgen Project helped pass The Electrify Africa Act, Global Food Security Act, and the Foreign Aid Transparency & Accountability Act by advocating the voices of the American people and holding meetings at congressional offices. I am honored to be a part of an organization passionate to help our world’s people, and I urge you to join me and advocate worldwide change.

Perception: Coffee Shops and Book Covers

Image result for starbucks book creative commons

So I’m sitting outside at a local coffee shop (confession: it’s just Starbucks), and I’ve been stationed here for some time trying (and failing) to write a blog post. It was quiet and serene when I got here. Well, as quiet and serene as it can be when you’re positioned on the corner of two main roads. Slowly but surely, the place started to fill up, the customers inside spilling into my outside space. With more bodies come more noise, and to me, that means more distractions.

I am first joined by a couple of women who look to be in their early 40s, the typical soccer mom type. (In my head, one drives a Nissan Pathfinder and the other woman drives a Honda Odyssey, in case you were wondering.)

Next to the scene are two high school girls. They come out to the patio and sit down, and the only thing going through my head is, “Oh, great. More humans. My favorite.” (Spoiler: humans are not my favorite.) One girl was wearing all designer brand clothes, complete with an MK handbag and Birkenstocks. The other was nicely dressed as well. They were also drinking some non-coffee beverages at a coffee house. There’s just something not right about people who don’t like coffee.

In my already less-than-chipper state, I was expecting the girls to be another nuisance to me. I had assumed that their preppy selves were going to talk for ages about their pretty high school drama, also expecting them to talk loudly enough for me to hear their every word even though they were tables away.

Much to my surprise and delight, only half of that was true. The girls were talking loudly enough for me to hear them, but their conversation was much better than I imagined. The first words out of their mouth were about a Bible study that they were in, and then they were talking about needing to find a Blue Letter Bible. Not at all the topics of conversation that I would have guessed. My initial assumptions about these girls were incredibly wrong, making me feel ashamed and hypocritical, but also glad. As a matter of fact, my whole demeanor changed after overhearing their uplifting conversation.

I was judging them based off their appearances, something that drives me crazy when other people do it. You know, the judging books by their covers thing. (I still stand by my judgement of people who don’t like coffee, though. That one is valid.)

I was being a grouch because I allowed the circumstances of my own life to affect how I viewed the world and others, subconsciously choosing bitterness instead of joy. Because, friends, that’s the thing: joy is not just an emotion, but a choice. It is not always an easy choice. No, as believers it is frequently not an easy choice at all. It is much easier to look at the evil and destruction in the world and allow ourselves to become discouraged and bitter. I would know, because it happens to me. Friends, understand that these sorts of things happen when we aren’t expecting it, when we aren’t watching.  That’s why 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be alert, that we might not fall, and Colossians 3:2 reminds us to always have our minds set on things above, not on earthly things.

So, brothers and sisters, I leave you with some verses to marinate in. May they be an encouragement to you no matter what season you are in. And remember, as cliché as is seems, books are not always their covers.

1 Thessalonians 16-18, NIV Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:12, ESV Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Philippians 4:4, ESV Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

James 1:2 -4, NLT Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.

Living out the School of Education’s Mission

 

If you tuned in to last week’s post, you’ll remember that we discussed the School of Education’s mission and motto, SALT (Service, Academics, Leadership, and Teaching). However simple it may seem, the acronym reminds us of our calling as educators. As a matter of fact, the calling stems farther than educators, but to all believers.

SERVICE

As followers of Christ, we are all called to serve, and we are each called to serve in different ways. As believers, we are called to serve our neighbors, whoever they may be. As educators, we are called to serve our students, their families, and the community. Note that we are called to serve all of our students, even the ones that drive you up the wall.

At Nyack, we believe that individuals can serve better when they know better. That is why education majors receive thorough and comprehensive instruction, which they can then implement in their field experiences and student teaching. Throughout the education program’s curriculum, teacher candidates are taught about student and community diversity, various teaching methods, and how to utilize the methods in various situations to reach all students. By doing so, our teacher candidates better understand those that they serve, that they might serve them better.

ACADEMICS

Academics is obviously a crucial part of teaching and education in general. As teachers, we must not only throw information at our students, but to show it to them, why it matters, and how to apply it to their lives when applicable.

Education is not about being able to pick the right answer on an exam, though today’s school system might tell you otherwise. Education is about seeing and understanding the big picture, about knowing why to choose that answer on the test. Without that deeper understanding, education has lost its purpose. We need to change the focus of education from a student’s GPA to their effort and willingness to learn, showing students that their worth is not determined by their SAT scores.

As educators, we need to take state standards and teach them effectively, showing our students why the information matters beyond the scope of a test score.

LEADERSHIP

Teachers are the primary leaders in the classroom. As such, they need to both lead and encourage their students, modeling for them how a great leader should act. In essence, their behavior should model that of Christ, just as every believer’s behavior should.

Educators need to lead their students by example, showing them how to respond to conflict, how to interact with others, and how to respect one another and their opinions.

TEACHING

It is no surprise that teaching is a part of the acronym. Because it is so obvious, I feel like we often lose sight of its importance. As teachers, we need to be cognizant of our students and teaching methods, and we then need to evaluate what methods work best for a given class. Our goal as educators is not simply to teach, but to teach effectively and thoroughly. That is best accomplished when we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, evaluating what instruction practices and curriculum are the most beneficial for our students.

For more on what it means to be SALT, check out the School of Education’s webpage.

24 Tips to Save Money in College

College is expensive. Based on experience, I can tell you that saving money and making the right choices are two of the most important skills.

Here are 24 tips to make saving money a little easier: 

1. Budget your money. What are your expenses? How much money do you make? Allocate your money into categories for your expenses, and what is left over can go into savings, an emergency fund, and/or miscellaneous.

2. Know the average prices of items so you can comparison shop. 

3. Don’t make impulse purchases.

4. Save your change and keep cash on you.

5. Take a shopping list with you to the grocery store and stick to it.

6. Buy quality clothes so they last longer.

7. Be honest with your friends about your budget and when you can’t afford to do things.

8. Start looking well in advance for big purchases.

9. Dry your clothes on a dryer rack.

10. Ditch bottled water and get a Brita filter.  

11. Use your local librarys services, especially to borrow books for English courses.

12. Make the most of your groceries before buying more.

13.  Borrow or buy used textbooks. Do you know people who have taken the course? See if they are willing to let you buy or borrow their book. Or buy used college textbooks on sites like Amazon or Chegg.

14. Buy or rent an e-book. E-books are usually cheaper than the hardcopy.

15. Limit eating out. If you live on campus and pay for a partial or whole meal plan, use it.

16. Don’t shop hungry when you shop for anything. You are more likely to stop somewhere for food if you are hungry when you are out. Instead, carry a snack in your purse or backpack.

17.  Know your expenses and what you can spend more for and what you cant. It will help you budget your money.

18.   Buy used if you have a large expense (if the item is still in good condition or quality).

19.   Keep track of your checking and savings accounts to know how much money you have versus how much you are spending. Avoid overdraft fees.

20.   Use coupons on items you buy. You will be surprised at how much money you save.

21.   Always ask if there is a student discount.

22.   Get an on-campus job.

23.   Apply for scholarships.

 

24.   Spend money on the right things. You may want to spend more money on something if it is a good investment and will save you in the long run.

When Being Salty is a Good Thing

What do potato chips, pistachios, peanuts, and popcorn have in common?  They all derive their most memorable flavor from the magic of salt.

Food would be both bland and significantly less sweet without salt, and the same goes for life. Well, at least metaphorically. (I know, I know. That salt-makes-things-sweet bit doesn’t make sense. But trust me, it’s true. Well, trust science. Check it out.)

If you’re well versed in trivia, biblical or otherwise, you know that salt is used for its preserving, healing, and seasoning properties. In Biblical times, salt was a hot commodity for trade, right up there with gold. While now not as rare or expensive of a commodity, salt is still useful and valued today.

Here at the School of Education, we value salt more than most. Now, I’m not talking about being snarky or about good ol’ sodium chloride, but S.A.L.T., our acronym to live by. SALT stands for Service, Academics, Leadership, and Teaching.

As you might have guessed, our SALT model comes from Matthew 5:13, part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus instructs his followers to be the salt of the Earth, essentially instructing them to encompass the preserving and healing qualities of salt.

In an open letter to future teacher candidates, Dr. Looney writes:

“Teacher candidates are instructed to be ‘the salt of the earth’.  This summarizes the belief that candidates and professional faculty in the School of Education strive to become, by God’s grace, individuals who reflect the properties of salt.  They are to season and enrich the lives of others.  They are to become the preservative of hope and encouragement to others.  Ultimately, they are to become healing agents serving others who need help overcoming the difficulties of life.”

We are all called to be the salt and light of the Earth, yet we so often forget our calling. That is why we constantly need to remind ourselves of the standards we are to live by, remembering that they are heavenly standards, not earthly ones. Furthermore, teachers are to be held to an even higher standard, as they are responsible for educating the future generation(s). This is a call that is to be taken seriously and should be understood completely.

Salt is used to heal wounds, add flavor to food, and preserve the perishable. It is versatile. We are to be the same.

Join me next week as we take a closer look at what it means to be the S.A.L.T. of the Earth and of our campus.

Top 10 Writing Tips from Stephen King

In March, I met Doug Heuck, publisher of Pittsburgh Quarterly. His best advice to me as a writer is to read not only great literature but books on writing.

One book Heuck recommended is Stephen King’s On Writing. King’s book takes an honest look into his journey as a writer and the art of writing. I underlined, bracketed, and wrote notes throughout the book, and since reading it, I have grown as a writer. On Writing is a must-read for any writer working toward his or her dream.

10 favorite quotes:

  1. “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out” (57).
  2. On learning from writing Carrie: “The most important is that the writer’s original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader’s. Running a close second was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea” (77).
  3. Avoid passive verbs: “I think timid writers like them for the same reason timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe” (123).
  4. “The adverb is not your friend. … With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or picture across” (124).
  5. “I would argue that the paragraph, not the sentence, is the basic unit of writing—the place where coherence begins and words stand a chance of becoming more than mere words” (134).
  6. “So we read to experience the mediocre and the outright rotten; such experience helps us to recognize those things when they begin to creep into our own work, and to steer clear of them. We also read in order to measure ourselves against the good and the great, to get a sense of all that can be done. And we read in order to experience different styles” (147).
  7. “The key to good description begins with clear seeing and ends with clear writing, the kind of writing that employs fresh images and simple vocabulary” (179).
  8. “I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven” (190).
  9. On creating multi-dimensional characters: “It’s also important to remember that no one is ‘the bad’ or ‘the best friend’ or ‘the whore with a heart of gold’ in real life; in real life we each of us regard ourselves as the main character, the protagonist, the big cheese, the camera is on us, baby” (190).
  10. “But once your basic story is on paper, you need to think about what it means and enrich your following drafts with your conclusions” (208).

Teaching: A Calling vs. Profession

So, you’ve made it this far, to college. By this point you probably have a fairly good idea of what you want to do with your life. (Well, at least I hope you do.)

Now that you know what you would like to pursue as a profession, do you know your calling?

They might be the same thing, and they frequently are. But it is certainly worth taking a step back to check.

A profession can be anything, genuinely anything. People get paid for the craziest things. For instance, there is a hotel in Finland that has a ‘professional sleeper’ to test the quality of their beds (I am currently working on my application for that position, in case you were wondering).

A calling, on the other hand, is more than just a job. It is a conviction from God for a particular purpose, to a particular thing. My personal calling is to become a teacher, specifically to become a missionary in Africa. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance your calling is teaching as well. You and I might have similar callings, and yet each calling is unique, specifically created for you by God Himself.

There is something very important that I want you to understand: Whatever your profession, whatever your calling, it is a ministry. And there is no ministry without sacrifice.

Teachers sacrifice more than most people realize for their students, be it their time after school or their own money to provide supplies for their classroom. Speaking of money, the lowest salaries are often offered in areas in which amazing teachers are needed the most.

The best career advice I have ever received was from my eighth-grade science teacher, and that was to choose a career based off of what I love to do and not based off salary. He is agnostic, so he missed the part where you should choose also based off of what you feel that God is calling you to do, but he still had a very valid point.  You can live off of $50,000 or $500,000, but know that your happiness is not linked to the number of zeroes in your paycheck.

If you’re only going into education for the money or because you think it will be an easy job with summers off, I suggest you change your major right now. I say this partially because you are wrong in that way of thinking. There are far easier jobs and there are jobs with far better pay. Some careers combine both of those things. If education is your calling, you will soon realize that neither of those things matter.

Teaching is not just a profession, not an easy paycheck. It is stressful and taxing, not for the faint of heart. Teaching is also not for those who just randomly decided on it one day or chose it as a last resort. It is for those who make the deliberate decision to answer the call to become an educator, a mentor, a friend. Being an educator is so much more than just a profession. It is a call to ministry.

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