Home   /   Blog  /  Archive by category "SA Engages"

Category: SA Engages

Asking for Almond Milk: My Month of Veganism

March 8, 2021

Between meat alternatives in grocery stores, oat milk everything, and the number of plant-based recipes online, it has never been easier to go vegan. So, despite being told that I was cheating by choosing a 28-day month, I went vegan for the month of February. Veganism is a diet that does not include any animal products. Meat, dairy, eggs, honey, and gelatin are all no-goes for vegans.

Vegans currently make up 1-2% of the U.S. population which, surprisingly, is not a significant increase from ten years ago. The popularity of plant-based alternatives has certainly increased however, making plant-based foods a $3.3 billion industry in 2018. The reason why plant-based foods have boomed in recent years, despite a low percentage increase of vegans in the U.S., is because not many Americans are willing to adhere to a strict vegan diet.

People decide to adopt a vegan diet for a number of reasons. Some vegans believe animals should not be used for food or do not like the way the animals are treated, others disapprove of the large amounts of carbon emissions released from the meat and dairy processing industries, and some go vegan for health purposes. As much as I care about these issues, I went vegan out of curiosity.

Responses to my diet-change were mixed. My mom and her friends were supportive but worried that I would not get the protein and Iron my body needs. Most of my friends were merely curious about how the month was going. The most opposition I received was from my sister who reads a lot about nutrition. To meet the concerns of others and take care of myself, I made sure to invest in a month’s supply of vegan protein bars (which were delicious by the way).           

Other than vegan protein bars, my diet largely consisted of salads, peanut butter toast, hummus, coffee with almond milk, and whatever the vegan station at the Rot had to offer. While there is a lot you cannot eat as a vegan, there are still so many options available.

I did notice a few physical differences. I was not as tired and lethargic as many people thought I would be, nor did I have a large change in weight. The main difference I noticed was how much I needed to eat. Most calorically dense foods are animal products, so to my calorie count similar I had to eat a larger volume of food. Also, it may be that I changed my skincare routine slightly during the month, but I swear my skin has never been clearer than during my second two weeks of veganism. However, to make my marketing professor proud, I will say that correlation does not necessarily equal causation.

More than physical differences or newfound knowledge of plant-based dieting, I learned discipline from my month of being vegan. I had done fasts before, usually from certain foods or social media, but not many of them lasted more than a week, and the ones that did didn’t cut out so many things at once. There were so many times I had a voice telling me that no one would know if I cheated, but I had to remind myself the commitment I made.

Funnily enough, the hardest day of veganism for me was the last. It was easy to think that one last day simply did not matter. I think too often in life we see the finish line and slow down. It was a good lesson to learn with something little like one month of vegan, so that I can be faithful in bigger things like my schoolwork, faith, and simply getting older. Paul was a great example of this. In 2 Timothy 4:7 he is able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”.

I know you are all wondering if I cheated, and truth be told, I did. Not intentionally though! On Valentine’s day someone gave me gummy bears that didn’t have gelatin, so I thought they were safe, but after eating them I saw they had beeswax. I also ate a yeast role on my very first day that, in hindsight, definitely had an egg in it.

Not intentionally cheating was no easy feat either. During the latter-half of the month I found myself just wishing I could have chicken for dinner or goldfish crackers for a snack. It was also hard when all of my friends would be eating something that I couldn’t have. I had to tell myself “no” a lot.

You may be wondering if I plan on staying vegan. Well, I can tell you as I sit here eating goldfish; no, no I do not. While I think I will still end up eating many plant-based meals, I also enjoy animal products. I think the reasons people choose to go vegan are extremely valid, but unless you think killing animals is morally wrong, there are ways to keep the others in check. As consumers, we have a lot of voting power through our dollars. If a certain company is known for animal cruelty or makes no effort to be ecofriendly, we can stop purchasing from that company.

In the end, I will hold to what the Bible says in Romans 14:14 and 23, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean […] But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin”. If you can in good faith eat meat, then go for it, but if you feel convicted maybe you should refrain. In the end, it is all about how God can be most glorified.  

References:

https://sentientmedia.org/how-many-vegans-are-there-in-the-u-s/


 

Written by: Courtney Stone

Courtney is a Business Administration: Digital Marketing and Advertising major. She enjoys writing for the blog as a way to explore relevant topics and grow in written communication.

Thrifting 101

March 1, 2021

Thrifting is a fun way to shop for unique pieces that not many other people have. It may take multiple trips, but it’s all worth it when you find that one vintage item for $5 that you know will get you tons of compliments.

Thrifting is not for the faint of heart.  It’s not made for convenience or a quick find. There are no mannequins or models showcasing the items being sold, which leaves you on your own to dig through the racks to find those hidden pieces of treasure. However, that’s the part that I love the most about thrifting. Thrifting makes you work for what you want, which only adds to the excitement and pride you feel when finding those special items. When you walk into any thrift store or consignment shop, you have full reign and freedom without the pressure from aggressive sales associates.

Shopping second hand is a great way for you to shop ethically and sustainably. Some of the best Thrifting 101 rules are to find inspiration, keep an open mind, and be realistic with each find. The hope is that this post will help you on your thrifting journey, whether you are just starting out or a veteran thrifter looking to find a new method.

Thrifting, despite the trend it’s become, plays a much deeper role. In a recent study in the UK conducted by The Guardian states, “One in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, consider garments worn once or twice to be old” (The Guardian, 2019). The dangerous cycle of fast fashion conditions consumers into following trends despite the short duration a style may be popular. This causes buyers to get tired of their purchases, and ready to buy the latest trends at convenient low prices.

The thrifting trend, however, was jump started as the popularity of individuality began to rise. Many young adults found themselves low on cash, convicted by the dangers of fast fashion, yet wanting to express themselves. This led them to two main choices, indulging in fast fashion, or embarking on the journey of shopping secondhand.

Fast fashion, while keeping up with the trends in a cost-efficient way, comes with many side effects. While shopping at many department stores like Forever 21 and H&M is convenient, many of these companies source their items from labor factories overseas. These factories often utilize unsafe working conditions that take advantage of their workers. For more information on fighting fast fashion, check out this article from Farmdrop.

Once you embark on the anti-fast fashion pursuit, it is easy to be overwhelmed or confused. Shopping from sustainable and ethical brands can be expensive, but not knowing what to do when you walk into a Goodwill or consignment shop can be even more daunting.

For me, the journey to a sustainable fashion lifestyle has been a long process. I started off spending way too much at thrift stores. I would come home with anything that looked interesting, ending up with way too many clothes that I wasn’t excited to wear. I quickly realized my new habit was not efficient. I needed to find key pieces that fit my style that could be worn in multiple outfits. While it is so easy to want to take home that one of a kind, bedazzled, lavender grandma sweater, how many times are you actually going to reach for it when you’re getting ready in the morning?

Here are the top three tips that have helped me the most when hunting for the perfect find:

Before I even enter the store, I start by doing research and compiling a bunch of photos for inspiration. Pinterest has become my best friend for collecting all the outfits I want to recreate, while also helping me stay up to date with any new trends. Preparing to yourself to thrift with inspiration puts yourself in a good mindset to look for certain items to match those pictures.

One thing I have learned from thrifting is the art of scanning through the racks. It is best to keep in mind certain colors and textures that you like best. This will save you an immense amount of time and help you not feel too overwhelmed by the large amounts of clothes.

My second tip is to keep an open mind. This is the perfect place for you to find something out of your comfort zone since the prices are so low. Using your Pinterest inspiration, find things you’ve never tried before!  Every store is different so don’t be discouraged when you visit one and it isn’t anything like you expected. Each place may have a few gems, but they may also be drowning in large amounts of old raggedy t-shirts and stained jackets.

If you see anything with the smallest amount of potential, pick it up and try it on. You don’t ever want to miss out on a good find by closing off your options and being narrow-minded. You also will never find golden pieces every visit. There may be several times where you walk out empty handed, and that is totally okay.

Lastly, be realistic with yourself. Stay open-minded but ask yourself, “am I really going to wear this or put it to use?” You need to be brutally honest. If there is no way you can fix it up to make it look good on you, then leave it for someone else to find. A key point is to be sure you’re sticking to your size range. You may start trying to convince yourself you’ll just get those Levi’s 501s that are three sizes too big altered, but we all know they’ll sit in your closet for weeks before you even remember you bought them.

It is pointless for you to shop second hand, but then waste it by never using those purchases. Use your inspiration to help gauge whether that item will execute the vision you have in your head. You will know when something strikes your eye and is worth purchasing. A key tip is to see if you can style a piece you like in 3 different outfits from your own closet. A closet full of niche items is no closet at all.

Overall, thrifting is great for any person balling on a budget. It may be time consuming, but it is so fun and rewarding. You’ll quickly learn you don’t need a lot of money to make your visions come to life. Now, go off and start searching for those gems at your local thrift stores. You got this!

Bonus tip! Don’t feel like trying pants on in the store? Holding the waistline around your neck helps gauge how they’ll fit on your waist.

References:

https://www.farmdrop.com/blog/how-to-fight-fast-fashion/

https://pebblemag.com/magazine/living/whats-wrong-with-fast-fashion#:~:text=A%20byproduct%20from%20textile%20factories,be%20dumped%20directly%20into%20rivers.

https://goodonyou.eco/fast-fashion-facts/


 

Written by: Lisa Diaczynsky

Lisa is a Junior studying Business Administration and Graphic Design. She enjoys writing for the blog to express her creativity as well as sharing her views and opinions. She is passionate about healthy relationships, graphic design, social/political reform and mental health.

 

Written by: Gaby Paulin

Gaby is a Sophomore studying Strategic Communications. Having grown up on the island of Guam, she is passionate about traveling and learning about other cultures. She loves expressing her love for people and community through her writing.

Conflict Management

February 22, 2021

When we hear the word conflict, often we think of the outburst of opinions colliding with others and causing hurt. Social media and entertainment have done a great job of painting us this beautiful picture of the perfect friendships that never disagree. Both parties see the heart behind the decision, and everyone gets along. Sadly, it is rarely like that in real life. This constant butting heads with others has been going on since the beginning of time.

Imagine if everyone just saw eye to eye, and we could all work towards one common goal. We could change the world; and who wouldn’t want that? It’s a beautiful idea, but one thing stands in the way… we all disagree on something.

The Bible shows us the brokenness of mankind through the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. These two brothers fought over what was the proper sacrifice to offer God. Looking back, we can see which one was right, but often when we are in the middle of conflict, we can be more like Cain and Abel that we want to admit. 2021 has already done a great job of showing us that people do not know how to live with someone they disagree with, whether it is political views, a bad roommate, or even something as silly as where to go get food.

With tensions constantly rising, and disputes often reaching a boiling point, universities have started to offer degrees in conflict resolution. Pepperdine University even offers a “Master’s in Dispute Resolution”. Pepperdine stated, “Conflict is pervasive in our communities, yet the competency to manage conflict is rare. Conflict resolution skills are needed to be competitive in our rapidly changing, technologically complex business world”.

The truth is, maneuvering conflict successfully is rare, but why? What if that didn’t have to consume us and we could just find a way to get along? Clarke University has a page dedicated to managing conflict. A few of their many tips include, “accept conflict, listen actively, analyze the conflict, separate person from the problem, and be specific”.

Conflict should be a good thing, and it shouldn’t always have to end in angry fallout. Navigating conflict correctly starts with listening to the other person, and recognizing they worked up the courage to bring up a problem that has been bothering them. Simply separating a person from the problem will start you off on the right step. When someone tells you something that might upset you, stop and take a breath. It is important to understand the heart behind their statement.

If you have to confront someone about a problem that may be hard for them to hear or receive, make sure to deliver it in a way that doesn’t accuse the other person. If the person thinks you are accusing them of the problem, you have already defeated your purpose of the conversation. The person will most likely be defensive and any discussion beyond this point could be detrimental to the relationship. If your end goal is to be right, you need to stop and pause for a minute. The goal of conflict is not to be right, but to make peace and grow in unity with the other person.

If a problem is voiced to you, stop and process it. Take a moment to think before speaking, because most of the time we respond from our emotions and completely miss what the person is really saying. Responding from emotion without taking a moment to think can create problems, and will eventually shutdown the other person from ever wanting to open up to share when something is bothering them or worse, they will just leave. The Bible states in Provers 15:1 says, “a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”. When things stay civil it will open up opportunity to understand the real problem.

Try to keep things calm and never raise your voice. Try to reply with statements that show you are not hostile, but want to work towards a solution. Ask helpful questions and add helpful input in the conversation that does not target or tear down the other person. Remember, no one is perfect, and sometimes we have to swallow our pride in a moment to protect what could be a lifelong friendship.

Lastly, when an issue initially arises, there is usually more to the situation that meets the eye, and it is our job to make sure we give every person a chance to share their heart completely. In Matthew 18:15 it states, “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother”. You do not gain a brother or sister by winning every fight, but by hearing what they have to say. If we are honest, we all just want to be understood, and when we listen to others, we show them they are worth being listened too. When we work through these problems that appear in our relationships, we grow as individuals.

The next time you find yourself in a dispute with a friend or with your significant other, try to hear them out while remembering the end goal is to show them love and understanding. God constantly shows us grace and love, and as Christians, we should strive reflect that grace and love to others in our lives.

References:

Master’s in Dispute Resolution (MDR).”, Pepperdine Caruso School of Law.

Tips for Managing Conflict“, Clarke University. 


 

Written by Riley Anderson

Riley is a junior majoring in Christian Leadership and Church Ministry with a minor in Biblical Studies.


Long Distance Relationships

February 15, 2021

In March of 2020, the world was turned upside down. I know you’ve probably heard that a million times, and despite the common difficulty we all navigated, each of us has a unique 2020 story we will never forget.

We all remember how it felt when the world first started shutting down, how it felt to be stuck inside with our family or roommates, the impending fear of a two-week vacation turning into months away from work, friends, and a normal routine. The world was filled with so much separation and loneliness that was so much deeper than we had ever experienced. During the lockdown, I, like many others was separated from my boyfriend of just a few months (spoiler alert: he’s now my fiancé, but we’ll get to that later).

At the start of quarantine, I was terrified of long distance. There was no necessary attachment. Heck, we’d only been together for 3 months! If things got hard, we would most likely break things off and take the long months of quarantine to recover. For many couples, this was the reality. Things got hard, physical distance created emotional distance, and breaking things off was the wisest and easiest option. I was not going to let this happen. Long distance ended up being one of the most challenging and fruitful experiences of my life.

When dating in person, it’s easy to get swept up into the dreaminess and excitement of being with each other. However, in long distance, a lot of the fluffy emotions are taken away, allowing you to see the true character and intentions of the other.

Author, Joe Pinsker, collected research findings and was able to share some wise guidelines to navigating long distance:

  1. Communicate over a variety of platforms to make up for the constraints of each (and write letters, which can serve as nice physical reminders of the relationship).
  2. Come up with a plan for how and when to have hard conversations.
  3. Share small, mundane details and, when possible, everyday experiences, such as streaming a movie together.
  4. Make time for both routine check-ins and spontaneous conversations.
  5. Remember that living together might be an adjustment.

As soon as we stepped into long distance. My boyfriend and I started cooking up creative ways to express love despite a thousand miles of separation. We ended up sending dozens of letters, packages, and gifts. We perfected starting our movies on Netflix at the exact same time, even taking into consideration the FaceTime lag. We navigated hard discussions and arguments through phone calls and thorough conversations.

One thing we did differently than most is not having nightly FaceTime calls. Despite the countless tweets romanticizing falling asleep on FaceTime, we kept these face-to-face calls as our “date nights”. Limiting ourselves to only one FaceTime every few days, we were able to prioritize those few hours, and intentionally plan out conversations and activities for that time. We discovered our Hogwarts houses through Buzzfeed quizzes, shared childhood stories, and compared theological views. Over quarantine, we learned so much about how the other thought and operated.

Five months later, we were back on campus, together. Long distance was over, and I was nervous. I was flooded with insecurities of not living up to the idealized version of the girl in his phone he had fallen in love with. However, I was quickly relieved by a smooth transition.

While we were very different people coming back onto campus in the Fall of 2020, we were also a very different couple. Distance allowed for such expedited growth. We were able to navigate most areas of compatibility through our phone calls and late-night texts, allowing us to be reunited by a lot of attachment and vested interest.

Upon our reunion, we quickly realized things were getting very serious. The long-distance phone calls filled with daydreams, and hoping we had found the one, quickly morphed into objective conversations about marriage and life goals.

In November of 2020, he asked me to marry him, and I joined the flood of teary-eyed, engaged women, in your Instagram feed.

Do not get me wrong, long distance was hard. I would never choose to do it again, but I am beyond grateful for how we were able to handle and manage the situation for what it was. While it’s not for everyone, I believe there’s a way to navigate long distance through thorough, intentional, and healthy communication that results in a sustainable growing relationship upon reunion.

For those working through a long distance relationship, or about to start one, I would love to leave you with a few parting bits of advice.

  1. Plan virtual date nights.
  2. Brainstorm creative ways to communicate (i.e., letters, deliveries, LinkedIn DMs).
  3. Focus on your autonomy.
  4. Hard conversations over text almost always involve miscommunication, call instead.
  5. Use your time wisely! Get to know the other person through online quizzes or conversation starter questions.

To all of my long-distance friends, enjoy every FaceTime, 8 ball tournament, and Netflix party date. In the end, through many tears and lonely nights, you’ll find distance really does make the heart grow fonder.

References:
www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/05/long-distance-relationships/589144/


 

Written by: Lisa Diaczynsky

Lisa is a Junior studying Business Administration and Graphic Design. She enjoys writing for the blog to express her creativity as well as sharing her views and opinions. She is passionate about healthy relationships, graphic design, social/political reform and mental health.

SA Reviews: Soul

February 10, 2021

Does the search for the meaning of life have a place in the genre of children’s entertainment? Disney Pixar’s new animated movie, Soul, tackles the weight of finding one’s purpose while engaging audiences of all ages.

When we take a closer look at the “golden age” of Pixar, including famous titles such as Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story, we find captivating classics that seem relatable despite their setting being incredibly unrealistic to the viewer. What sets most of Pixar’s films apart are the common themes they portray.

Pixar often focuses on family dynamics, and personal identity struggles. In their recent releases however, we see these relatable themes taking a deeper turn, through an incredibly realistic set of characters. In films such as Inside Out, Up, and Coco, the creators show us a wider view into the common lives of the characters. We see how real their situations are, and even begin to put ourselves into their shoes. This allows Pixar to tackle bigger themes and questions in their films.

In Soul, the creators approach the question that many struggle to answer, what is my purpose in life?  Soul follows the main character, Joe, as he chases endlessly after his dream of being a jazz artist. Through a series of misfortunate events, we watch as Joe travels between Earth, “The Great Beyond”, and “The Great Before”. The latter two being embodiments of “heaven”. “The Great Before” is where souls are created, given passions, and sent to earth, while “The Great Beyond” is Pixar’s portrayal of an afterlife.

While this film does approach many difficult topics, making it difficult for younger viewers to remain interested, it does create a beautiful world filled with many intriguing landscapes and characters that could retain the attention of a younger crowd. I would argue, however, that Soul was indented for an adult audience. Many of the situations, emotions, and difficulties pictured throughout the story hit very close to home for many older viewers.

As a young adult, I personally related to the pursuit of finding my “purpose”. During this time, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of nerves and anxiety for what the future holds. We often put so much pressure on achieving specific goals or milestones, that we can be left dissatisfied when we finally reach that point. Soul takes a lot of pressure off of finding one fulfilling meaning to life, while the ending even leaves a lot of missing pieces for the viewer to fill in. As we watch the main characters discovering their identity, we never get the satisfaction of knowing their answer. While this may bother some viewers, who enjoy a clean-cut ending, I thought it fit the nature of the film perfectly. It encourages the viewer to release the importance of achieving a specific calling or major goal, and to find your passions by enjoying each facet and avenue of life.

What is important to consider in this piece is how it should influence us as followers of Christ. For non-believers it can be easy to fall into a rut, trying to find some magical moment in life that would make everything worth it. However, chasing after the passions of this world will leave us with nothing but disappointment and want. As Christians, we are given freedom! Freedom from anxiety, confusion, and emptiness. We are no longer lost on a spiral of self-fulfillment. Instead, we are given an established hope and calling through Christ that provides clarity and structure to an otherwise meaningless world.

It breaks my heart to see so many of my unsaved friends trying anything and everything to feel some sort of fulfillment. They spend so much time searching for an answer that can only be satisfied through a relationship with Jesus. While these pursuits may result is temporary highs, they often find themselves lonely, confused, and scared of the future when left alone with their thoughts.

When watching Soul, I was reminded of the hope found in Christ. In the movie, one of the main characters, “22” is trying to find her “spark”. The spark is what motivates a soul. It is the underlying passion that completes the very being of an individual. As Christians, our spark is the Gospel. We are so motivated by Jesus’s sacrifice that it influences our very being inside and out.

Overall, I thought Soul was incredibly entertaining and captivating. It captured many real, raw, emotions and concerns we face day to day, while maintaining a motivating and upbeat attitude that is appropriate for younger viewers.


 

Written by: Lisa Diaczynsky

Lisa is a Junior studying Business Administration and Graphic Design. She enjoys writing for the blog to express her creativity as well as sharing her views and opinions. She is passionate about healthy relationships, graphic design, social/political reform and mental health.

The Numb in Numbers

February 8, 2021

Worship before sermons is meant to exalt Christ, magnify the holiness behind who God is and what He has done, and get us into a fixation of seeking more of the Great I Am – more knowledge, more intimacy, more depth. But for some, these miniature concerts of praise serve to be more of a frustration than an exaltation. It seems like everyone around me is experiencing something that I am not, as if they are all part of some inside joke while I sit in regret because I was not in the room when it happened. Faith and worship are never meant to be comparison games but my fear of missing out plagues my mind.

I could just as easily close my eyes and ignore the world around me but with a mind that is constantly racing, and a brain that does not know the lyrics to the song, worship services serve as a discouraging time before a sermon. Even when I have the words of a worship song memorized, I still struggle with fixating on the Father and letting out acclamations of praise, because of a perceived lack of genuine sincerity behind my words.

There is an agreement with the words being said (so long as they are true), and I do believe that God hears me when I say them, for He has afforded me an audience with the King through His death, burial, and resurrection. Due to my numbness while everyone else seems to experience fullness, it feels like I am typing out a text but it is not sending. I’m not overcome with emotions when I worship, and when I pray I feel practically no comfort. Bluntly, it feels like I am talking to absolutely no one, just verbally processing my requests.

Faith is intimate and personal, and yet for me it is very monotonous, almost forced, and lacking in feeling. This stands in direct opposition to how I am in most areas of my life – I once cried for seven minutes in a staff meeting when finding out that Drew and Ellie Holcomb would be coming to perform a concert. When infatuated with a girl, I tend to get bubbly at the very idea of seeing her. The very thought of Chicago’s cuisine fills me with awe. But for some reason, singing songs of worship and praying do not stir up a storm of emotions within me. It seems to actually make me a neutral colored concrete sculpture rather than an expressive Picasso.

It was not always like this. After becoming a Christian my sophomore year of high school, the presence of the Father seemed surreal. I adamantly enjoyed listening to sermons, worshipping, and reading my Bible because it all felt so real and present. This immense love continued through summer camps and into college. Although I was actively in the Word daily, life happened, experiences did not live up to expectations, and things I once thoroughly enjoyed now became stale. I have caught glimpses of my former emotions like revisiting an old friend, but it always seems like the movie ends and the Spirit stops pouring out – back to the monotony.

Some would say that my lack of feelings in my faith but an abundance of feelings towards worldly things in my life would mean that I am some sort of idolatrous pagan. The trouble with that is I believe the Gospel, recognize the truth of scripture, and strive to keep the commandments, because I am loved and afforded unmerited grace rather than to earn love or grace. I have appreciation for temporary “worldly” things just as much as the next guy in the pew, but having feelings in one area of my life while lacking feelings towards another thing does not necessarily mean that I have an idol in place of the One who is truly worthy.

My deepest desire is to feel in my faith. Nothing would make me happier than a real-feeling embrace of the invisible God. Tears running down my face in awe as I go through yet another bridge of a worship song would be a welcomed experience. I would love for my emotions to back up the truths I am crying out. Wouldn’t it be nice to “let go and let God” during a worship service and feel what everyone else in the room is seemingly feeling?

The trouble with feelings is their subjectivity. Sure, the adrenaline of a moment may make it that much sweeter, but a reliance on feelings is dangerous because just as easily as an emotional high comes, it can go away. Our faith needs to not fluctuate with our hormones.

There came a point where agnostic and even atheistic ravings made a bit more sense to me than usual because of how monotonous my faith felt. Thankfully, I confessed this to my high school youth pastor, who was in town to officiate a wedding we were both attending. His guidance went along the lines of how there are days when he comes home to his wife and is just not feeling it. He had a rough day, the emotions aren’t as strong as they were when he first got married; it all just feels forced. But the thing is he loves her anyway, despite his lack of feelings in the moment. Why? Because he is in a covenant relationship with his wife.

The call that scripture gives him in Ephesians 5 is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (verse 25). That call is not contingent upon whether or not he is feeling it in the moment; he is simply called to love her because he is in a covenant relationship with her.

As hard, and maybe even ungenuine, as it may feel to worship, trust, and love God even when there is no sensational feeling behind the faith, I am still called to love Him. My feelings do not dictate truth, God does. The reality of my salvation and the majesty of His Lordship does not fluctuate with my emotions. I am His child because of what He has done whether my feelings back that up or not.

Although it is frustrating to be seemingly missing out on some higher experience when worshipping, my salvation is not dependent on how robustly I can be emotionally moved, and God’s holiness is not diminished by my lack of feeling. He is the fullness of majesty even through my monotony. Thank God that my salvation is afforded by grace through faith and not by an abundance of emotion.


 

Written by: Landen Swain

Landen believes the human experience longs to be expressed; through our art, our labor, our songs, our storytelling. As a published playwright, author, and poet, he enjoys expressing his little chapter of the human experience through his writings and is thankful that the SA blog allows him to do that. He is published in numerous magazines, literary journals, and has several plays published by Off the Wall Plays, an online play publishing house.

The Art of Pickleball

February 1, 2021

Pickleball: one of the country’s fastest growing sports that isn’t just for old people. It also doesn’t have anything to do with pickles, despite the misleading name. You may have heard some misconceptions about this sport, so I am here to set a few of those straight. By the end of this, I can almost guarantee you’ll be at your nearest tennis court trying to pick up a game or two. This game can be played by middle schoolers, college students, middle-aged professionals, or even grandparents. No matter your age, athletic ability, or knowledge of pickleball, you can play this addicting game!

Pickleball is a mixture of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton that is played with two wood paddles and a wiffleball. Pickleball was all started in 1965 from 3 dads who were trying to create a fun activity for their sons in the midst of a hot Washington day. According to USA Pickleball, “They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together”.

The reason why it is named pickleball is still up for debate because there are two different stories for its funky name. Pickleball Portal states that one reason is one of the inventor’s, Joel Prichard, dog’s name was “Pickles”. The other reason is that Joel Prichard’s wife said it reminded her of a pickle boat from her rowing days. I guess it is up to you to decide which story you want to believe!

The rules are very simple to learn and easy to put into action. Pickle-ball Inc. states, “Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court: 20’ x 44.’ The ball is served diagonally (starting with the right-hand service-square), and points can only be scored by the side that serves. Players on each side must let the ball bounce once before volleys are allowed, and there is a seven-foot no-volley zone on each side of the net, to prevent ‘spiking.’ The server continues to serve, alternating service courts, until he or she faults. The first side scoring eleven points and leading by at least two points wins”.

Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, it just depends on the amount of people you want to play with! As far as equipment, you only need a net, a ball, and some paddles. Some tennis courts might be taped off with Pickleball measurements, but if they aren’t you can always add your own!

USA Pickleball states that pickleball has had a 650 percent increase in numbers over the last six years. Will you contribute to that growth and join in one of the fastest growing sports in America? For more information on Pickleball rules and tips you can check out USA Pickleball. Can’t wait to see you on the court!

 

References:

https://usapickleball.org/what-is-pickleball/history-of-the-game/

https://www.pickleballportal.com/blog/pickleball-name-origin/

https://www.pickleball.com/rules-how-to-play-pickleball-s/106.htm


Written by: Kaitlyn Skarstein

Kaitlyn loves being able to write for the SA blog because she thinks it is important to share her voice. She loves being able to express her own opinions on important subjects that are relevant for students, faculty, and many others.

Creative Outlets

December 11, 2020

We are all creative beings. We were created with purpose and with our own individual qualities that make us unique, which means we are all creative in our own ways. We might express our creativity in paintings, music, photography, drawing, journaling, cooking, or dancing. However, not expressing that creativity is doing a disservice to yourself. There are endless benefits of taking time out of your day to express your creativity. Having a creative outlet helps you deal with anxiety and stress, gives you a sense of purpose, and helps make space to overcome obstacles.

We all have stress, but it’s what you do with that stress that matters. Everybody turns to something different in stress and anxiety, so what if you turned to a creative outlet in a time of stress? Creativity has proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Forbes states, “…Writing helps people manage their negative emotions in a productive way, and painting or drawing helps people express trauma or experiences that they find too difficult to put into words” (Stahl, 2018).

Taking time out of your day to focus on something that makes you excited and happy can completely turn around your mental health. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your brain that determines how you feel pleasure. There is a direct relationship between creativity and dopamine. As you increase the amount of time spent creating, your brain will increase the amount of dopamine it produces. According to Forbes, “Whether or not you’re aware of your increased happiness, the hit of dopamine you get after being in flow will drive and influence you toward similar behavior” (Stahl, 2018).

Everybody is looking for a sense of purpose in their lives, because we all want to feel like we have something to strive towards. Tony Wagner says, “Imagining and creating give us a sense of purpose” (Enayati, 2012). You will fill your purpose gap in your life with something, whether it’s money, sports, or clothing, but you also have the choice to fill it with something more important. Art + Marketing states, “It [creativity] makes what we do matter, and it means the things we make matter too. When held proudly, it attracts the people with a passion for what we stand for — clients and colleagues alike — who will create with us” (Bennett, 2017).

When we think of Albert Einstein, we often think of a creative genius. Did you know Einstein is thought of having developed his theory of relativity while riding his bike (Chappel)? We can have some of the most important breakthroughs when we are partaking in a creative outlet. Sometimes it takes our brain to get completely disconnected from the problem or task to learn how to overcome it. If you learn how to actively carve out time in your day to participate in creative outlets, you never know the kind of ideas you can come up with!  

It is vital to take time out of your day to indulge in creative outlets because there are so many physical, mental, and emotional benefits of it. It allows you to spend some time by yourself or with others so you can refocus. Take up photography, blogging, watercoloring, scrapbooking, graphic design, videography, or anything that makes you feel creative! Go out there and create or cultivate, rather than consume!

References:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2018/07/25/heres-how-creativity-actually-improves-your-health/?sh=4511f09413a6

https://artplusmarketing.com/creativity-purpose-and-vulnerability-297fe699905c?gi=7d14e2285154

https://www.cnn.com/2012/05/25/health/enayati-innovation-passion-stress/index.html

https://www.lifehack.org/272798/22-reasons-people-with-creative-outlets-are-more-likely-successful


 

 

Written by: Kaitlyn Skarstein

Kaitlyn loves being able to write for the SA blog because she thinks it is important to share her voice. She loves being able to express her own opinions on important subjects that are relevant for students, faculty, and many others.

Where Are You Going? Oregon!

December 11, 2020

This Christmas season couldn’t be here soon enough. With the semester coming to a close, things in Lynchburg begin to slow down, but this Christmas is a bit different than the past few, as I will be able to visit my family at our home in Oregon. It has been since 2017 that I last spent a Christmas at home, and I am dying to revisit some of our family traditions.  Having moved to Lynchburg in 2014, I haven’t had too many opportunities to return home. This trip will include a weekend stay at the coast, meals that have been in conversation since February, and plenty of losses in cribbage to my father.

As I get older, holiday seasons can begin to feel like almost as much work as the rest of the year, especially when traveling across the country. With only a week to see all your family and friends, you have to be tactical. This year, however, I am lucky enough to bring my fiancé to my childhood home for our second Christmas together, and I specifically requested rest. This means a weekend at the Oregon coast playing card games, going on walks at the beach (in the rain I assume), eating, napping, and pretending to read a book.

If you haven’t noticed, most almost everything that I have written for the SA Blog over the past couple years has been centered around food, and I come by this honestly. Most of our time together is centered around our meals, and when we are only together for a few meals then you know they are well planned. The crown jewel of the holiday menu is the Rueben sandwich. From the home-made corned beef, to the sauerkraut, this is a meal that I quite literally dream of.

After a couple nights at the beach, we head home for more of what I can safely assume will consist of more restful activities. Having grown up in a place that regularly has white Christmases, I am holding onto hope that this year will feature the same, as this will keep us inside, avoiding any potential yard work projects my parents want finished.

My family lives in a small town along the Columbia River, which makes an incredible scene for walking our dogs and catching up on conversation. Although I have specifically requested a restful week at home, I would kick myself if we didn’t fit in at least one hike while back in the northwest, and possibly a drive up to Mt. Hood to take in the incredible view.

While things can seemingly change so abruptly and leave us in a vacuum of distance, it’s important to remember the things in life that are constant. I am blessed enough to say that my family and friends are just that, and I look forward to the time we will spend together, whether it be on the sofa, a trail, or around the dinner table.


 

Written by: Clayton Copper

Clayton is the Marketing Coordinator of Student Activities. He has a B.S. in Business Administration: Economics and an M.B.A. Clayton oversees the graphic and video team as well as assisting in various event logistics.  

How Social Contagion Is Affecting Us

November 30, 2020

It is near the end of the semester and students from all over are looking forward to the day they do not have to worry about a new assignment popping up on their to-do list. Students and staff alike have felt the heaviness of a semester filled with ups and downs. Whether it was having no fall break or just struggling with a lack of focus in the transition, COVID-19 has impacted many areas of our lives.

I have noticed the impact people have on each other in their community during this pandemic, and looking back, I think of many times my parents told me to surround yourself with people you want to look like. Whether you want to admit it or not, a person will tend to look more like their friends. This effect is called social contagion. According to Psychology Today, “It refers to the tendency for people to mimic the behavior of others who are either nearby or whom they have been exposed to”.

I began to think about all the ways I have been affected and all the ways I may be affecting others. Have these encounters been positive or negative? A New York Times article states, “with happiness, the two argue that the contagion may be even more deeply subconscious: the spread of good or bad feelings, they say, might be driven partly by “mirror neurons” in the brain that automatically mimic what we see in the faces of those around us — which is why looking at photographs of smiling people can itself often lift your mood”. Thompson pointed out that happiness really is a contagious feeling and can be passed to other people by even a simple picture. This leads to the power an individual has over a person’s life and the impact one person can have on those around them. The problem is that many people have been lacking happiness for a large portion of the year.

Thompson’s article inspired me to dig deeper to see the ways in which I have impacted others. I noticed that I am always giving a smile out to others. In a world filled with people that wear masks, I had to overcome this new barrier and start greeting people with not only a smile but by using my eyes as well. This alone was not enough so I began saying “Hey!” and “have a good day” to people in passing. I realized it would leave a smile on people’s faces and they would respond positively. People would smile back, making my day a lot brighter, and I would feel happier. I did not understand that these interactions were not only impacting how other felt, but also how I felt.

A positive interaction with a person is a powerful thing that most people do not understand completely. When a person has a positive interaction, it leaves them feeling happy for the next thirty seconds. Then that next thirty seconds shifts the trajectory of their next five minutes. That five minutes then changes the person’s next ten minutes. This pattern continues on throughout that person’s day. This cycle proves that ultimately one smile can change a person’s day and possibly even their life. It is crazy to think that one act of kindness can change a person’s life, but this study clearly shows that your life has a huge impact others in a significant way.

This is just one example of a specific form of social contagion, broken down to help show the power an individual has in the lives surrounding them. Social contagion is very much a real thing and is impacting us and those around us. As we continue on in this year, and into 2021, think of some ways you can show an act of kindness to different people throughout your day. As Christians, we are called to be kind to one another. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. Show kindness to everyone, so that we can use this social contagion to make a difference in every season of our lives.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/do-the-right-thing/202004/the-covid-19-pandemic-is-lesson-in-social-contagion-too.

Thompson, Clive. “ Are Your Friends Making You Fat?” The New York Times (2009).

ESV Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011.


 

Written by Riley Anderson

Riley is a junior majoring in Christian Leadership and Church Ministry with a minor in Biblical Studies.