Some College Resources

It’s been awhile since I updated SK…I’m sorry!  It’s partly due to writer’s block and partly due to business.  Yesterday I got my orientation booklet for college (I leave August 22) and so today I’ve spent some time shopping around for dorm stuff.  It’s fun and exciting but also sad to think of leaving home.  I love the idea of a new adventure and a new chapter in my life, but I’ll miss seeing my family and friends everyday, and waking up every morning in this beautiful valley.  LA is a far cry from home.  Maybe some of you are on the same page; you’re just about to start college in the fall and whenever anyone asks you how you feel about that about a half dozen different adjectives come to mind.  Scared, happy, thrilled, terrified, nervous…what’s the word that describes that feeling?  Someone should invent one.  And if they do, I bet they’ll be an incoming college freshman.

Anyway, instead of be writing about a topic I have no experience in (college), I’ll let other people do that for me.  Here are just a couple of my favorite resources so far. 

First, I really like the College Fashion blog, because the author, Zephyr, is a real been-there-done-that college girl who understands the limitations of a student’s time and budget.  So her articles feel like advice from an older college friend, whether she’s talking about how to decorate your dorm room or wardrobe essentials for college girls.  Since her blog isn’t written from a specifically Christian viewpoint, Christian girls might not want to follow all of her advice.  Still there’s a lot of helpful stuff here for college-bound students.

There are tons of websites out there that sell stuff for residence halls, but so far my favorite is Moxii.  Their pieces are very classic and simplistic; no goofy Hawaiian flowers or big, loud prints that you’re bound to get sick of fast.  I seriously can’t get enough of how pretty their dorm bedding is!  It’s a little pricier than other dorm stores but if you have some extra grad cash and are willing to splurge, check it out.

Another site I like is Pottery Barn Teen, the dorm room section.  They have lots of high-quality lights, wastebaskets, and other practical stuff for dorms, but again, they’re a little on the pricey side.  If you’re on more of a budget, Residence Hall Linens offers easy, no-brainer dorm sets that include (depending on the set you buy) sheets, pillows, pillowcases, a comforter and fleece throw, towels and washcloths, laundry hamper, and more, all in one simple set in whatever color you like, for a reasonable price.  The site also carries sewing kits, tool kits, first aid kits, laptop locks, clip-on fans and lights, hanging shoe and garment organizers, and many other useful items.

Bed Bath & Beyond offers a College Insider site with plenty of practical information to get you started.  As does FastWeb, a free scholarship searching website (all high schoolers should check it out!!).  You have to be a member to read their articles, though (you should be anyway!  FastWeb is truly a great resource).

So those are a few of my favorites so far.  If you have one I’ve missed, share in the comment section or by email (sisterskeepers@gmail.com).  Thanks!

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The Simple Life.

June is here and I’m loving the sweet and simple summer life.  Here are a bunch of links and resources for you to check out…some of them are convicting, some encouraging, some just fun.  But they’re all great lazy day reading or perusing…so read and peruse to your heart’s content!  Happy summer.

♥ ♥ ♥

Awww, I like this pretty post over at the Wide Open Spaces blog; and I love this Audrey Hepburn quote.

With Father’s Day coming up, you may be looking for a special gift for your Daddy.  Albert Mohler’s summer reading list is geared specifically towards men, and includes a lot of fascinating titles.  Check it out to see if you can find something your Dad would enjoy.

Natalie Nyquist is giving away a free book for the month of June at her blog, HeartThoughts.  Just in time for those lazy summer afternoons of reading!  Comment or link for a chance to win Look to the East by Maureen Lang.

This blog, Musings from Montana, is written by an innkeeper who shares her experiences of life in the Big Sky State.  Lots of yummy recipes and horse posts for equine lovers. 

I like the beautiful photography on this ranching blog: Just Another Day on the Prairie.  These posts remind me of the ranches I love.

Sometimes we all need to escape…here are six tips for sweet escapes to try this summer.  From unplugging the computer to creating your dreams, the author gives inspiration for finding joy in the little things and embracing the simple life.

Do you catch yourself doodling dresses in the margins?  Then you should see Christa Taylor’s Design Your Dream Dress Contest for a chance to see one of your creations come to life!

If the weather where you live is a little rainy right now (what happened to the summer sunshine??), you might be encouraged (as I was) by this inspiration to sing in the rain.

If you are going on a missions trips this summer, read this post about Angie Smith’s experience in India with Compassion and how she saw God working in the lives of people there firsthand.

Read this encouraging article on the girltalk blog about how Christ is our burden bearer in things both big and small.

The Egg and the Sponge by Jeannie Castleberry on the YLCF blog.  Sound like an interesting article?  It might be more convicting than you’d think…

We all need an excuse to go to the theater sometime!  Read Plugged In Online’s review of Disney/Pixar’s new movie Up for just such an excuse.  Or if you’re lucky enough to have a drive-in nearby, pack your car full of friends and fold-out chairs and paper bags full of popcorn and enjoy a movie under the stars!  Mmm…

I was trying to pick one post to link to on the Actually Laura blog, but I changed my mind because the whole thing is just so darn cute!  So check it out.  Laura is a friend of mine and her blog is adorable!

Fashion Fridays!

Who doesn’t love a good deal?  And there’s one to be had every Friday over at Christa-Taylor, one of my favorite online clothing stores!  C-T’s “mission beyond business” includes donating a large portion of proceeds to a Cambodian orphanage.  Miss Taylor is a Christian young woman with a passion for fashion and God’s glory.  Check out our earlier review of her website here.  Every Friday there’s a great deal on one item from Christa’s boutique, and it lasts one day only!  Check out today’s steal by clinking the link to her fashion blog below.

Home of the Brave

Home of the Brave is a new project which reports on American heroes, past and present.

By the editor of Sisters Keepers, this journal aims to remind Americans of what is beautiful and good in our nation, in the midst of a generation that would seek to destroy our perception of a history which contains many noble and God-fearing men and women.

With a solidly Christ-centered viewpoint and an attitude of hopeful and inspirational optimism, Home of the Brave is a resource for Christian families and students who wish to remember just how greatly God has blessed America.

Hope For a Generation of Tears

I hardly knew Sierra*.  We’d played soccer together a little when we were young, and hung out from time to time at high school basketball games.  That was about it.  So I was surprised when she came to me, asking me for advice about her boyfriend.  “He’s so suspicious of everything I do…he never trusts me.  I hate it…and I hate the way he treats me.  I feel like I should break up with him…but I don’t know.”

To me it seemed painfully obvious.  I knew this guy had a reputation as a cheater and a flirt.  Any girl with self-respect would know exactly what to do.

“Sierra, you need to move on,” I told her, “This guy obviously is using you, and his suspicious attitude, plus his past reputation, suggests to me that he is the one who may be cheating.  God loves you and values you.  So why are you wasting your time with someone who so clearly is not His best for you?  You’ll only hurt your heart.”

It was like a light turned on for her…flooding her confusion with clarity.  Maybe no one had ever told her before that she was valued and loved by her Creator.  Maybe it had never occurred to her that she deserved respect from guys, and that she didn’t owe them her body or her heart.  But she was so thankful and so accepting of what I had to say.  Soon afterwards, she broke up with her boyfriend.  And that was good.  But what she really needs isn’t a nice guy…what she needs is Jesus Christ.  She’s still lost without Him.

Stories like Sierra’s make my heart ache.  So many teenage girls and guys stumble through these emotional, confusing, dangerous years with little to no guidance.  So many of the teens I know and love spend their weekends partying or risking their lives and the lives of others by drinking or smoking weed and then getting on the road.  Sometimes I get the chance to have a good conversation with them.  Like with my buddy Cole, who grew up with an alcoholic parent who just didn’t care what decisions he and his siblings made, at school or on the weekends.

“People think I’m lucky because my parents have a lot of money,” he confided, “But I’m not.  The way my dad was hurt me so much.  He’s not drinking so much any more, though, and I never drink.  I can, because my parents don’t give a rip.  But I don’t.  I’ve seen what it does to people.”

I knew that Cole would go to the parties where his siblings or friends got drunk, so that he could be their sober driver and keep them safe, when he was only fourteen years old.

Another good friend of mine came to a Christmas Eve service at my church with my sister and I.  Afterwards, Mark* said that he had to leave early for “something”.  I knew that he was talking about a birthday party a girl I knew was throwing.  I remembered reading her open invitation on MySpace.  “Bring money or alcohol,” she had instructed.

“I’m not gonna drink!” Mark said when we asked him not to go, “I’m just gonna hang out.  I promised her I would go.”

“You will drink,” we replied.  “Once you get there, you will.  You won’t be able to be the last one standing…the only sober person.  You’ll give in, just like almost anyone else would under temptation like that.  Be honest with yourself.”

Mark was.  He hung out with some buddies instead.

I was thankful.  Because in the small town where I live, a gut-wrenching number of teen accidents occur.  And almost all are alcohol and drug related.

I remember Ryan*, a freshman, telling me how his older brother’s best friend brought marjiuana to a party.  “I liked it,” he laughed.  I wondered what kind of a person would try to get a kid stoned.  What kind of a role model he must be.

My heart bleeds for the teens I know…the cycle of hidden pain, of futility, that they live in.  Many of them have parents, but live as virtual orphans because their mothers and fathers offer little discipline and love and no guidance.  These young people cover up their misery with attitude; laughing and joking as though nothing could be better.  Getting wasted to dull the poignant emptiness of it all.  Never even admitting to themselves that they are their own worst enemy…destroying their own lives in its earliest, most vital stages with bad decisions that mount and swell and grow and may one day drown them.  This is truly a generation of tears.

All over the world teenagers are reaping the bad decisions of our parents.  We grow up in moral relativism, taught that tolerance is the key to peace and that right and wrong values simply do not exist.  It is hard to beat the odds.  God is gone from our schools…ripped out by the adults who teach that we deserve to make our own decisions about faith.  And yes, we do, but how can we?  When Christianity is regularly mocked and ridiculed, not only in entertainment and the arts, but in those very classrooms which are supposed to be little worlds of open-minded thought?  It is said that we don’t care about the world around us.  Perhaps…or perhaps we do care…too much.  Huge problems are thrown at us…AIDS, the national debt, global warming, terrorism.  Thrown on the shoulders of a generation who is, perhaps, keenly sensitive to the pain of it all.  But we can do nothing.  We feel totally and completely helpless.  Every day brings the report of a new tragedy, a new dilemma…genocide, slavery, natural disasters, climbing divorce rates, abortion, crime.  There’s so much, so much, to do.  Some issues we feel passionate about…we long with all our souls to change things.  But how?  There is just too much.  And so, perhaps, we dull our senses.  Because we know that if we care too much about the things we feel we have no power to change, we will go mad with the misery of it all.

This is a generation in need of hope.  I firmly believe that it is a strong generation…perhaps the best America has had in years.  Brilliant minds and strong hearts fill this nation as never before.  I have seen it…and you have, too.  Many desire to change the wrongs and the sins that would be treated as “normal” (i.e., the growing teenage movement for sexual purity).  It is no wonder Satan would do all in his power to squelch and silence and suffocate our voices…to waste this generation.  We hear adults talking about us with doubt…but let us be optimistic.  Let us apply ourselves and grow and change and become.  In a culture of lies, look for truth…the voice of truth, which is Jesus Christ.  He is the spark of transformation that this lost generation so desperately needs.  And when we find Him, and rejoice in Him, and spread His name…things will change.  The look of confusion I see veiled thinly on the faces of so many of my peers can be changed into a deep and abiding sense of peace and purpose found in the gospel of Christ…who is the great Changer of hearts and souls and minds and men and times.

I have some gospels of John from The Pocket Testament League (www.pocketpower.org).  I know that they have the power to change lives, because they are the words of God.  Just little things I can hold in my fingers…around fifty or sixty thin pages long.  On the glossy cover is a picture of wild horses galloping through a sunlight-stroked, dusty prairie.  And five words: Let God set you FREE.

I plan to give these gospels to my friends…people like Mark and Ryan and Sierra and Cole and all the others I know who so desperately need to be set free from the lies and the threat of futile, wasted lives.  They are lost and this is the Way (Jn 14:6).  I will pray for the boldness and the clarity I so desperately lack (and need) so that I may to share not only solutions to moral and relational problems…but God’s remedy for the great problem of the soul. 

Because I am convinced that all the hope and the change that our generation needs is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In a rugged cross, an empty tomb, and a life lived in worship to a coming King.

 

 

*Names and some details changed

Daughter of a feminist icon values motherhood

Radical feminist Alice Walker influenced a generation of women through her revolutionary novel, The Color Purple.  She taught that motherhood could not satisfy a woman, and that it was just a form of servitude.  But one women challenges those beliefs: her daughter, Rebecca.  In this article, she describes how, despite her happiness in having a son, her mother disowned both of them because of her fanatical views.  It is a fascinating and enlightening piece on the true effects of radical feminism’s lies and the value of motherhood, although Rebecca is not a Christian and some of her views and decisions aren’t in line with Scripture.  Still, older readers will find this article eye-opening and a tragic description of the failings of radical women’s rights activism.

This article may not be appropriate for younger readers, nor much of this website’s content.

Unrealistic Beauty

Have you ever looked at a magazine or TV ad and felt ugly and worthless, unable to compare with the beautiful models you saw?  If so, you are not alone.  Many women feel this way…we see the “perfect” standard of beauty on TV and feel unable to live up to it.  Anorexia and bulimia are conditions becoming increasingly prevalent in our culture, as girls and women starve themselves in an attempt to be as “thin” as the models on TV.  Women are literally dying to find worth, and culture tells us that the surest road to value when you are a woman is physical beauty.

Girls, our standard of beauty is distorted.  We are told that beauty has one size, one skin color, one height, one weight.  But that’s not true.  God designed each of us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139) and He looks at us as unique and beautiful and made in His image.

Pop culture cultivates an ideal of beauty that is not only unrealistic, but totally imagined.  Check out these videos for a little bit of perspective.  Most of the photos you see are airbrushed and edited, images that no human can live up do and only a computer can generate.  Outward beauty in any form will never give us true and lasting happiness.  Being satisfied with what we look like on the outside will not bring eternal joy.  Only a relationship with Christ can do that (Psalm 16:11).

Do you struggle with feelings of worthlessness because of your physical appearance?  Maybe your heart is heavy with thoughts of comparison, like, “I’ll never be as pretty as she is” or “No guy will ever want me I’m not pretty enough”.  Remember that what makes a woman truly beautiful is her heart and her devotion to the Lord (Proverbs 31:30).  You can be gorgeous in the eyes of your Maker.

After you watch these clips, check out Distorted Beauty, an article by Carolyn Mahaney, for some real perspective on the beauty issue.