To Write Celebrate On Her Arms.

Community. Stories. Fears. Dreams. Hopes. Struggles. Victories. These are the sentiments that the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms is known for. The organization, which celebrates its sixth birthday today, started simply because of a wounded and wayward girl who no rehabilitation center would accept because she was too much of a risk, and the small group of friends who took her in for five days to keep her safe and remind her that she was beautiful. The shirts were simply a means to fund Renee Yohe’s rehabilitation, however, when Jon Foreman of Switchfoot wore the shirt on stage during the tour following the release of The Beautiful Letdown, a movement was started.

I am reminded today of the people who Jesus spent his time with: the broken, the naked, the lowly, the sick, the vulnerable. People who society hated. It can be easy to miss ourselves in that crowd, but friends, I’m not sure we will ever truly understand the meaning of grace until we realize that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. There are no administrators or drop-outs, it’s just us. And us is what To Write Love on Her Arms stands for.

Depression and addiction are things that society doesn’t like to talk about, because those things aren’t pretty. When I began struggling with depression in the year leading up to my parents’ separation (almost eight years ago, now,) my thoughts on the subject were so misguided that I didn’t think I was allowed to feel that kind of hurt. As a Christian, I thought, shouldn’t I just be joyful all the time? Surely no one would understand whatever this was, be it chemical, environmental, psychological. I struggled in silence for years. We in the church are so concerned with covering up our brokenness, making sure that the outside looks good, and abiding by the law. That is what I bought into, and it led me to feelings of guilt and shame.

Many of our classmates feel this kind of guilt and shame as the result of their depression or addictions, as can be seen through the Breaking Free campaign. There are people struggling with things like pornography, eating disorders, self-injury, abandonment, and a plethora of other heavy issues. We let them eat away at our souls, and shame us into believing that God cannot use someone who struggles with whatever battle we’re fighting. My question to you all is how can we let this continue? How dare we let this opportunity for grace and mercy slip away because we are too proud to get down in each other’s dirt? Jesus got down in the dirt. We’ve heard it in chapel over and over, its likely that we will never again be in the presence of this many believers. And as believers, we are not called to be known by how well we cover up our scars and quiet the battles raging inside us. The Word says that we will be known by our love.

Guilt and shame come from a version of the gospel that ended at the cross, when Jesus said it was finished. The veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom to signify that we now had unadulterated access to the Father. Friends, do not give into the lies that Satan and the old school law loving church goers would have you believe.

To Write Love on Her Arms is about a song. Your song. My song. Revelation says that we have overcome by the blood of Christ, and the power of our testimony. It is a movement for those who refuse to be silenced any longer. There is freedom in telling your story. There is strength in transparency and grace that is bigger than shame in a community that is willing to be vulnerable. There is strength in knowing that you are not defined by what you’ve done. You are defined by the price that was paid for you.

Here’s to breaking down the walls.
Without love, we are nothing.

Happy Birthday, To Write Love on Her Arms.

 

The Strength is in the Breaking.

Take a breath.

I am often paralyzed by my fears – the fear of falling and crash landing, the fear of no landing at all, and the feeling that everyone around me knows something I don’t, and they’re all holding out on me. I am afraid of never reaching the self-actualization that Henry always talked about. I am afraid of breaking, and I’m afraid of never growing. But my heart knows that for anything to grow, it must fall towards the earth and break within the soil. The only thing worth being afraid of is fear itself. Sometimes I wonder if Jonathan was afraid, or if he always knew that the strength is in the breaking. I wonder if he knows that I miss him.

I remember the night my best friend broke down and told me his deepest, darkest secret, and admitted to giving in to the fear that inevitably shakes our spirits when we experience moments of vulnerability. I simply told him that I love him. Nothing that he has done or ever will do could make me love him any less. Love does not think less of. And I reminded him of his strength, as steady and solid as mountains, and the truest thing I have ever known. I have never been more proud than I was in that moment, as simple as it was. It was intimate.

Friends, I see the way your hands shake. I see the dark circles under your tired eyes. I know you’re afraid to claim yourself. I know you don’t want the hurt to be real. I know you’ve been lied to by Satan, who is only out to get you. I know you’ve been lied to by people you’ve trusted to build you up instead of tear you down. I know you have been lied to by the church, as well. I’m sorry for this. I am so sorry. You are worth more than their words. Your fears, your hopes, your dreams, even your failures matter.

I am consistently reminded of love. Perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves being punished. Try as I may, I will never understand why I spend so much time punishing myself – why I am constantly trying to avoid the feeling and the breaking. Elizabeth said there are cracks in everyone, and this is how the light of God gets in. I spend too much time trying to keep him out. I spend too much time trying to keep me in. All of the doors are about to be opened. This house desperately needs to experience the fresh air. It is high time.

There is victory. It’s here. Take it. This is not the end. We have so much farther to go. We have dreams to dream and people to become.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t want the answers, because they are too great a burden for me to bear. But I have faith in you. I have faith in us. We can walk home together.

Fear erased daily. Perfect love.

So be it.

 

BATTER UP BASEBALL! Recap on the month of February

(Photo courtesy of TFC on Flickr)

After the year-round practices, training, and conditioning, the season of Eagles baseball has finally started. Their first official games were triple-headers against Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee on Feb. 2-3 (Game 1: 2-14; Game 2: 5-8; Game 3: 3-5) and Southern Wesleyan University in Central, South Carolina on Feb. 10-11 (Game 1: 2-8; Game 2: 7-6; Game 3: 8-13).

Although they faced a couple of loses during their away games, their triple-header games against Bluefield College at home on Friday and Saturday Feb. 17-18, gave some hope to their season. They won against Bluefield 7-4 the first game, loss the second game 4-8, and came back to win them on third game 10-7.

The Eagles baseball also played and lost to Truett McConnell College in Cleveland, Georgia on Tuesday, Feb. 21; however, pulled together to beat Point University in East Point, Georgia that following Saturday, Feb. 25.
Their second home game was against Emmanuel College on Tuesday, Feb. 28 (7-9). With this loss, the Eagles have a season record of 6-7-1.

Their next opponent will be against Ohio Christian College at home on Thursday, Mar. 8.
This cold month of February and the tough loses may be a sour patch for the Eagles baseball; however, there are still many sunny days and games left till the end of their season and the NCCAA South Region tournament at the end of April.

In a Similar Fashion: An End to the TFC Men’s & Women’s Basketball Season

(Photo courtesy of TFC on Flickr)

The TFC basketball seasons for both the men and women come to an end during the NCCAA tournament the weekend of February 23-25. Both teams followed similar steps by winning against Piedmont International University in the first round and losing to Clearwater Christian College their next round.

Before the tournament started, men’s basketball coach Lance Martin had said, “We are the bottom seed in the tournament so we will have a very tough time winning the tournament.”

Captain John Sinclair, followed, “I feel that we will do pretty well because we’ve shown that we can compete with the teams in our region, and if we play well as a team, I have confidence we can win the tournament.”

TFC played PIU (74-63) on Feb. 23, in which they were only up by 3 points during half time. By the start of the second half, they widened the gap in their lead to earn a win, advancing them to the next round. Freshmen Josh Barrett and Derek Westfall were the lead scorers.

That following Saturday on Feb. 25, TFC played and lost to CCC (73-58). This game was a back-and-forth point battle between TFC and CCC. Early in the first half, CCC had taken the lead; however, TFC came back with a one-point lead at the half. During the second half though, CCC came out strong, taking their lead back and kept it until the end of the game. Barrett and Westfall were also the lead scorers of that game.

The Lady Eagles’s games were also similar to TFC. They beat the PIU ladies (70-60) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Friday, Feb. 24. After falling behind 39-30 in the first half, the Lady Eagles pulled things around during the second half to win the game. Sophomores Rebecca Weatherbee and Callie Moore were the lead scorers.

The Lady Eagles lost to the CCC ladies the next day (72-48). Like the TFC men, the Lady Eagles stayed close behind their opponent in the first half (41-30), but could not manage to stay with their opponents in the second half. Freshmen Katie Calloway was the lead scorer with 12 points.

Although both the Men and Women did not win, they put up good fights against both of their opponents during the tournament. As the tournament ends and this season closes, TFC basketball only hopes to gain more opportunities in the future to soar like eagles and rise above others on the court.

 

One Year Later: Remembering Jonathan Pound

One year ago today, our campus experienced the loss of one of our most beloved friends, Jonathan Pound. It was a time of grief for the loss, and celebration of the life which impacted so many of us. A year later, we are still healing, but we are also hopeful for our future: a future that is brighter because of the light that Pound shone on our campus and in our world.

“Jonathan Pound was a man who was not afraid to push limits, spoke what he thought, and in return left us with a testimony of when you ar truely faced with death, Christ is all that matters.”  — Beth Wyrick

“His life reflected one that we all should live, of service and taking every chance to live life to the fullest potential – he didn’t leave with a GPA, but a lasting impression that has effected countless lives of the students on this campus” — Kyle Atkins

“He was a man of convictions and questions. He valued the truth more than any man I had ever met. And he found it at the end. Love is the reason for life. He will be remembered for his love.” — Matt Howe

“Jon, was real, he was out there with his thoughts, nothing left out or censored. [He said] ‘I’m sick or Christians and their entertainment, I’m not here to entertain you.'” — Jeremiah McDuffie

“He was someone that live life to the fullest and you could see it in his life, he challenge the people around him and just love meeting people.” — Lue Her

“I met Jon in my World Literature course. After the first session, Jon asked me if we could meet to discuss how he might enhance his writing skills. I will never forget his enthusiasm as he shared with me how he wanted to use writing to develop his views of philosophy, art, and faith. He had a true interdisciplinary mind! He was a young man capable of great depth of thought, and I always appreciated his authentic quest to grow in God’s grace and knowledge.” — Prof. Alisa Thomas