Battling Defeat During Midterms

It’s here! It’s that time of the year where it becomes progressively harder and harder to persevere. It’s that time of year when professors and parents are giving constant encouragement to “finish strong.” It’s that time of year where assignment after assignment comes due. It’s midterms week.

Before fall break, it is very academically, and emotionally, difficult for students. There is a great deal of pressure and stress involved with finishing final assignments and preparing for the first break of the year. Students lose sleep, and drink more coffee to keep them going. With everything that they have to do, it is easy to give into feeling defeated. It is easy to focus on this one week of academic strain and lose sight of the big picture. God has given each of his children strength for every moment. Anything one could ever need, they already have in Christ. He has given his children enough strength, enough patience, and enough perseverance to overcome anything they may face. With all the anxiety this time of year causes, it is easy to be consumed by defeat. It is difficult for students to juggle the greater amount of responsibilities and obligations given to them. With the high level of stress that accompanies this week, it is even more important to remember to keep one’s eyes set on things above, not on things below. As soon as one is consumed by anxiety, crippling defeat is not far behind.  An anonymous Toccoa Falls College Sophomore wrote a short piece of poetry concerning this week.

 

“Dear defeat,

It’s been a long battle between the two of us. You knock me down, and I’ll recover, then you’ll knock me down again. You haven’t given me a moment’s rest. You’ve come at me with everything you possibly could, but I will not be undone. I am in the palm of the one who crafted the heavens and the earth. You have no power over me. The things you attack me with are temporal. They are ultimately meaningless. You have lost. By the grace of my God and my King, it is YOU who are undone.

Dear defeat, you have been defeated.”

Battling the feeling of defeat is a primary part of spiritual warfare. Once a student stops fighting and succumbs to defeat, it is so much easier to fall into depression and despair. This principle applies not only to midterms week, but in all areas of life. God calls us to “fight the good fight of faith.” We as Christians are to “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Timothy 6:12). God has called his people to live courageously and fight with strength and perseverance. This spiritual battle is challenging. After all, if it was easy, God would not have encouraged His people to fight with courage.

It is the midpoint of the semester, fight to finish well! Fall break is in sight, so fight the good fight.

Meet Martha

Hello there!  I’m Martha Mae, and I’m just tickled that you’re here. It isn’t often that I get visitors this far out. But if they do make it out here, nobody leaves with the bout of melancholy they came in with. You see, I just have that special knack for advice givin’. My mama had it, and so did her mama, and well, here I am with the same skills. I always seem to know just what to say to make a soul feel better.

Oh, but there I go, rambling along, but you don’t know nuttin’ about who I really am. I guess the first thing you oughta know is that I moved here from Savannah, GA. I was the prettiest girl in Savannah… Well, at least that’s what daddy said, but then mama would always shoot him a look that let him know she didn’t ‘ppreciate losing the contest. Anywho…

I make the best dang peach tea and pecan pie that will ever grace your taste buds. My pie has won blue ribbon at county fair for the past three years now. My mama and nana have taught me all their household runnin’ secrets. I’ve been married for nearly 50 years now. I’ve worked with people my whole life in different job endeavors, always following dreams. I love to paint and draw overlookin’ my back crick.  I’m just a regular ole southern gal still looking for adventure.

My kids are all grown now trying to give advice to little kiddos of their own. My husband spends his days fishing and cracking some smart aleck jokes in the rocking chair next to me. I’ve got some life under my belt and I want to share it with you, youngins.  It’s time my advice givin’ skills were put to good use.

I say all of that to let you know a little of who I am and why I can help you. All you have to do is ask; I won’t tell nobody your name or who you are. That’ll all be our little secret. So, come and sit a while with me on my porch and I’ll try to help you the best I can with what the Good Lord gave me. I hope we can learn a little from each other.

If you do decide that you would like to contact me to advise you in your time of need, honey, you can reach me by e-mail at: ComeToMartha@gmail.com.

I would love to help you. After all, these grey hairs aren’t just for show. Where else would you find this much knowledge in one place? Come back soon!

Keeping It Trim at TFC

This article will discuss tips to manage a healthy weight in college at Toccoa Falls College despite all the fabulous choices of food in the cafeteria.

Ah yes! The lovely TFC cafeteria!  With so many wonderful choices to choose, one can get carried away by getting too much food on their plate.

So what can one do to prevent taking too much food from the buffet and how can one keep a healthy weight while in college?

Tip #1. When it’s time to eat, drink a half a glass to a full glass of ice water before eating. 9 times out of 10, the body is craving water. Approximately 75% of the human body is composed of water. If one does this trick, chances are, one will not eat as much food.

Tip #2. Learn to have healthy portions on the plate. A portion is typically defined as the size of one’s fist. A well proportioned plate has healthy protein (chicken) with lots of veggies and fruit on the side.

Tip #3. Take a smaller plate instead of a bigger plate to get the food. Smaller plates are a great way of keeping track of how much food one is eating.

Tip #4. Try to limit sugars and sweets to once a week. Dessert is not an everyday food for a healthy functioning body, but a “sometimes” food. Sugar is the culprit to fueling many sicknesses such as flu and colds.

Tip #5. One can cut back a TON of calories by getting iced water as a drink instead of sugary sodas, etc. Water satisfies the body of thirst, whereas sugary sodas do not really quench this need. Sugary drinks also are loaded with unnecessary sugars and calories. One can keep a healthy weight in college simply by eliminating or limiting sugary drink intake.

Tip #6. One must NOT stress about gaining weight. Just stressing about weight can promote gaining weight. Weird, one might say, but it is true. The reason for this is because of a hormone called “cortisol.”

According to Today’s Dietitian.com,

“Cortisol, a glucocorticoid (steroid hormone), is produced from cholesterol in the two adrenal glands located on top of each kidney. It is normally released in response to events and circumstances such as waking up in the morning, exercising, and acute stress. Cortisol’s far-reaching, systemic effects play many roles in the body’s effort to carry out its processes and maintain homeostasis.

Of interest to the dietetics community, cortisol also plays an important role in human nutrition. It regulates energy by selecting the right type and amount of substrate (carbohydrate, fat, or protein) the body needs to meet the physiological demands placed on it. When chronically elevated, cortisol can have deleterious effects on weight, immune function, and chronic disease risk.

Cortisol (along with its partner epinephrine) is best known for its involvement in the “fight-or-flight” response and temporary increase in energy production, at the expense of processes that are not required for immediate survival. The resulting biochemical and hormonal imbalances (ideally) resolve due to a hormonally driven negative feedback loop. The following is a typical example of how the stress response operates as its intended survival mechanism.”

“Cortisol” can be triggered by stress.

Tip #7. One can remember that one of the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Ephesians 5 is “self-control.” Part of applying self-control is monitoring one’s eating habits. The Christian life is one of a holistic approach. Everything is connected in some way or shape. It is not independent from one another. For the believer, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. One act of worship towards our loving Heavenly Father is exercising “self-control” when it comes to food choices and portions.

Tip #8. This is probably one of the biggest contributing factors to unhealthy weight gain.*drum roll please* Many college students eat very late at night. Eating meals past 7 pm is extremely unhealthy and will cause potential weight gain. The body is ready to shut down and not ready to take in extra calories when the body is ready to go right to sleep. One must not eat past 7 pm in order to keep a healthy weight during college.

Students are encouraged to use these tips. A healthy lifestyle is not always easy, but it is definitely worth it!

Getting Enough Sleep = Good Stewardship

 

College students are some of the most sleep-deprived people in the country.

“According to a 2001 study, only 11% of college students have good sleep quality, and 73% have occasional sleep problems. This same study found that 18% of college men and 30% of college women reported suffering from insomnia within the past 3 months, and over half reported feeling sleepy during the morning.” (www.Brown.edu)

One needs to get enough sleep, especially in college. Many students complain of not having enough time to sleep. However, it is very important to realize that the student can prioritize his or her life to get enough sleep. Here are some effects of not getting enough sleep:

  1. Lack of attentiveness for classes during the day. A lack of sleep can limit the student’s ability to properly listen in class and take notes. Many times when a student does not get enough sleep the night before, the brain does not focus and one cannot be fully attentive to the teacher.
  2. Lack of proper sleep for the college student can cause his or her immune system to be deficient. The immune system is more prone to colds, flus, and viruses when there is a lack of sleep.

Pulling an “all-nighter” may solve a temporary problem but has long-term effects on the student’s body. Pulling an “all-nighter” interferes with the student’s ability to properly learn new material. The student may be able to memorize a bunch of facts for the test the next day, which is part of the brain’s “short-term memory.” However, most likely, the brain will not remember the material for a much later cumulative exam. (www.webmd.com/sleepdisorders)

According to UGA’S University Health Center, the college student should get at least 6-10 hours of quality sleep per night. Quality sleep means uninterrupted sleep. There are several things the student may do to help with regulating their sleeping patterns.

  1.  Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time in the mornings. Doing this will help the student get his or her body on a proper “sleeping regimen.”
  2. Do not eat or drink anything two hours before bedtime. Since the digestive process is a while unique process in and of itself, a lot of times the student may have a hard time getting to sleep eating before bedtime.
  3. Get enough exercise 2 hours before bedtime. Unfortunately, many students complain that they only have time in the night to do their exercise. This, however, is not recommended since the body becomes more alert and attentive after exercise, thus making it hard for anyone to go to sleep. Once again, one must prioritize their day to get the proper amount of sleep and exercise they need.

Some tips for “winding down” at night for the college student are as follows:

  1. Drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea relaxes the mind and body. The tea has natural ingredients to ease the mind and tension in the body. The recommendation is 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime.
  2. A natural sleeping aid that one can use to help with sleep is what is called “valerian root.” According to webmd.com, “Valerian is a herb. Medicine is made from the root. Valerian is most commonly used for sleep disorders, especially the inability to sleep (insomnia). It is frequently combined with hops, lemon balm, or other herbs that also cause drowsiness.”
  3. Getting in a quiet, calm mood before bedtime is essential. Many students enjoy reading the Psalms, while other like prayer and meditation before bedtime. Soft worship music playing in the background can be edifying and gives off a sense of “cleansing in the atmosphere.”

Being a good steward of one’s body is a form of worship to God. Getting enough sleep at night is a way of practicing this stewardship. If one is not sleeping properly at night, one cannot effectively communicate and share the love of Christ along with not being able to fulfill his or her duties as a student.

 

 

*Image borrowed from ibhacks.com

What is God’s Will?

“When God closes one door, he opens another.”
“I feel like God is leading me to…”
“I guess it just wasn’t God’s will.”

People say and hear things like this all the time in regard to decision-making, especially college students. During this time of life, these young adults are required to make big decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. They decide what type of career to pursue, where they should live, who they should marry, or whether or not they should marry at all. They want to know what God’s will is; what God ordained for their life. They seek signs and listen for guidance to divine what God has planned for their future.

With all the decisions that need to be made, it would be nice to know what the result of a decision will be before it is made. Sometimes, God is very clear about what to choose or what steps he wants a person to take. He opens doors and causes things to fall into place. However, for many people, this does not happen and it can be very discouraging. These people may feel lost, confused, and frustrated about not knowing what to do. They may hold off on making decisions until they find “divine confirmation” that they are making the right choice. They want to make sure that what they are doing is a part of God’s plan before they do anything, but is this sound theology? Is this what it means to know God’s Will?

Isaiah 46:9b-10 says, “[F]or I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose[.]”

In short, God’s plans cannot be thwarted. There is nothing one could do to upset God’s divine plan for the world, or even one’s life. God will accomplish all that he has set out to do. No decision one could make could interfere with his purpose. The non-ethical choices one makes (like what to major in, where to live, and what job to have) will not, and cannot, ruin the plans God has for him or her.

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In fact, in regard to these non-ethical decisions, Scripture does not have much instruction at all. The Bible does not serve as a “magical roadmap of destiny” by which one can decide where to go to college or decide if an investment is wise. God’s will is not a maze one has to navigate. God’s will is very simple and is clearly outlined in Scripture.

1 Thessalonians 4:3a says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification[.]” Chapter 5, verses 16-18 continues with, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Scripture says that the Will of God is for one to live a life of righteousness. If one lives a life pleasing to the Lord and obeys his commands that are outlined in Scripture, he or she is living in the Will of God.

It’s that simple. There is no need to search for signs of divine confirmation for non-spiritual decisions. As long as one’s decision does not contradict what Scripture teaches, the realm of possible actions to take is wide open. In his book Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung explains this in greater depth. He proposes four steps to take in regard to making decisions.

Step one: Search the Scriptures.
Does this decision contradict what God has laid out in His Word? Could you faithfully carry out God’s commands were you to make this choice?
Step two: Get wise counsel.
Seek an outside perspective from someone who knows you. Be willing to accept advice and/or constructive criticism.
Step three: Pray.
Pray that the decision you make will be one that will glorify God. More often than not, God does not make it clear what we are to do. Ask God for wisdom to make the most prudent choice.
Step four: Make a decision.
“Don’t over-spiritualize.” DeYoung writes, “You can serve the Lord in a thousand different jobs” (102). A Pastoral position is not “more spiritual” than a position as a cashier or a teacher. Whatever you choose to do, God will use to accomplish his purpose. Just choose something.
Carrying out the Will of God does not necessarily mean following a specific path ordained for any one individual. Carrying out the Will of God means living a righteous life that is pleasing to God. Do not be discouraged. Search the Scriptures to see what God has commanded, then, as Mr. DeYoung so aptly put it: just do something!