5 things I wish someone told me about college

“…we should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” – Thomas Edison

If you are reading this, congrats are in order because you are likely a new high school graduate! So congratulations! I hope that graduation was wonderful and a worth every sacrifice you made to finish high school. As someone who has graduated high school, undergraduate and is hoping to be graduating again in the next couple years, I know how important this time in life is for you. There are so many choices to be made, things to ponder and situations arising every day as you prepare for your next step in life. If you are going to college/university, you have a lot to figure out. From solidifying your major, choosing living spaces and roommates, selecting courses, sending in final paperwork and actually getting to school, you’ll need to get a lot done before fall semester begins. When coming in contact with high school graduates this summer, I automatically began to impart what I wish someone had told me before I started college. There were many people giving me good advice, but for some reason, some of these things didn’t seem to make it to me. So, I will be giving you 5 things I wish someone told me about college. This post is long, but please read until the end. Let’s get started.

Read the Drop/Add policy

Unlike high school, changing or dropping courses is no simple feat. Back when I was in high school, changing classes was as simple as speaking to the counselor or having your parents come in for a meeting. Even now as a middle school teacher, I’m always amazed at the ease with which students can switch teams or classes with their parent’s help. However, college does not work this way. Most colleges have something called a Drop/Add policy. This policy is what will tell you when it is too late to get out of a class and what your subsequent grade will be if you drop – or get out of – it. For example, let’s say you get into Philosophy 101 and you realize that you are in way over your head after taking the first exam. If you check the Drop/Add policy, you’ll find out whether you’ll receive a grade of W (withdrawn) or if it is too late to get out of the course. You’ll also want to find out how long you can stay in the course before you are permanently charged and if your school has any special policies for if you want to retake a course. Some other great questions to ask are: 

Does my school have a repeat-to-replace policy?

How many credit hours do I need to be full-time?

Do we use a plus/minus grade scale or a standard grade scale used in most high schools?

Take care of your yourself

Every year of college is busy, but none as hectic as your freshmen year. With all of your new classes, friends, assignments and social activities, it is very easy to let yourself go. Overeating in the cafeteria, staying up late and waking up early and eating whatever you can find are a perfect combination for unhealthy weight gain. A 2012 study conducted at Auburn University found that almost 70% of students gain weight in college. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Commit to these 3 things for better self care.

Eat well. Yes, the ice cream machine and toppings bar in the cafeteria looks very appealing, but do you need it? If you have a meal plan, find the healthy alternatives. Almost every cafeteria I’ve seen has a salad bar with lots of fresh veggies, fruits and lean meats. Go for those meals that you will keep you full longer and feeling good. If you have your own kitchen and are into cooking, there are some great meal prep options for college students on a budget. Give them a try. 

Exercise. If your college is anything like my alma mater, it has a beautiful recreation center. If your school does indeed have one, guess what? You’re paying for it. Every semester, my school charged me over $100 for the recreation center. If you think about it, that’s a built-in gym membership. Many recreation centers are open 24 hours a day so you can get your work out on whenever you want. If you prefer outdoor or team workouts, see if your school has intramural sports teams. They are a ton of fun and a great way to meet people. If you don’t make time to work out, there are other ways to burn calories. Instead of catching the shuttle, walk. Instead of driving to campus, ride a bike. Just don’t be sedentary. Endorphins are good for your brain. 🙂 

Be kind to yourself. You are in a brand new place with a brand new goal. You have never been to college before, so you will make mistakes. College is supposed to be harder than high school, even if you did extremely well in high school. You may not make comparable grades right away, but you can if you stay perseverant. Study and work hard, but when your body tells you to relax, do it. Take breaks, watch a movie, read books, nap, do your favorite hobby and just love on yourself. The responsibilities will still be there when you get done, and we all work better without stress.

Seek out community

Being in a new environment can be incredible, but it can also bring upon a lot of stress and new opportunities to explore the world. And for many of you, this will be your first time living away from your family and support system. It is very important for you to find a community of people who share your goals, beliefs and dreams so that you can have a new support system. This is especially important for Christians. When I was in college, I was blessed to be apart of not only on-campus Bible studies, but apart of ministries in local churches. These groups of women (and sometimes men) helped me through some difficult times and helped me to keep strong faith in Jesus. Seek out community groups, small groups, on-campus Bible studies or even organizations on your school’s campus to be apart of because no man (or woman) is an island.

GPA, GPA, GPA! 

This one is so important, I had to say it three times. GPA. Also known as Grade Point Average. Also known as a major determining factor for your life after college. Many people who attend college think that social time is what matters most at the beginning. Staying out late, attending social events and hanging out with friends. Now realistically, most people will do this while in school, but it’s very important to keep your priorities straight. Your first year’s GPA will determine whether you spend the next three years working to maintain it or working to pull it up. As college goes on, classes only get harder and your responsibilities become greater. Also, many scholarships depend on your GPA. In the state of Georgia, students who maintain a 3.0 average and meet some other requirements can go to state schools with tuition and books covered. This could be the difference between paying thousands of dollars in students loans when you graduate, or being able to immediately do the things you love after graduation, like traveling, buying a home or starting a family. College is not high school and your grades now have financial implications so take things seriously.

Safety first 

When you get to college, there will be a lot of changes for you, especially if you live away from your parent’s home. If this is the case, it means that your safety will no longer be something your parents can guarantee. You will need to make choices that help you to stay as safe as possible. Here are a few ways to stay safe.

Traveling and transportation. If you find yourself in a situation with friends who are ever unable to drive, do not ride with them. The same goes for times where you may be on campus and don’t feel safe walking home alone. There are many options available for transportation that are much safer. Whether it be calling a ride from Uber or Lyft, or even contacting Campus Security for a police escort (a service you pay for). Think about the implications of your choices and if taking a chance is really worth it. 

Social settings. If you find yourself out and about in a social setting where food and drinks are out, which is common, be very careful about leaving drinks out. Recently I saw a thread of tweets on Twitter from a pastor who shared his story of having his drink drugged. This is not something that only happens to women; it can happen to anyone. Be aware of your surroundings and for added safety, go everywhere in groups as much as possible. 

Intimate settings. This last section is probably the most difficult for me to write about because it is so extremely important. College is a place where many people will live without physical boundaries.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, I will always advocate living a sex-less, abstinent lifestyle until marriage. I believe that this is God’s will for our lives and serves to protect us from heartache, pregnancy, diseases and emotional ties, until we are united with a spouse. This is, in my opinion, the best way to experience life and love. And as someone who has been abstinent for many years, I am very much looking forward to experiencing this intimacy with my soon-t0-be husband next year after our wedding. Everyone does not believe this or subscribe to this belief system so I will say the following: if you find yourself desiring to be intimate with another person and you make that very important choice, please protect yourself. It does not matter if someone looks healthy or clean, and it does not matter if they tell you they are STD-free. Never engage in any sexual act unless you are using protection. The emotional connections created from sex can be broken with the blood of Jesus, but the physical implications can be much harder to erase. 

I hope that this post has been helpful and I pray that it reaches every student who needs to read it. College will be an incredible season of growth for you, but it all depends on choices. Please be wise. 🙂 If you are heading to college, please share on your favorite piece of advice in the Comments section. If you have already been to college, please share a piece of advice you would give to new college students in the Comments section.

All the best,

Brittany 

When God Takes Away…

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ – Job 1:20-21 NKJV

If you live long enough, there will be a point where God takes away something that you really love and enjoy. This could be a job, a position, a relationship, a dream or even a long time friendship. Just the thought of this can be scary, but there is no way around it. Regardless of how much you love God, things you don’t like will happen. And when loss occurs, it is very easy to become confused and sad.

I can talk about this because I was in this place just over a year ago. I was 22, one year away from college graduation, in what I thought would be my last relationship ever and loving life. But shortly after the one year point, God revealed to us that He wanted our relationship to end. When it happened, I was quietly devastated. I had never experienced being so attached to something and then having it removed from under me. But now that I look back at the situation, I realize that God was working in every single detail.

I want to share some of what I learned from my experience with loss and how to make it through that season.

1. God is sovereign. If He allowed it, there is a great reason for it.

Trusting God is not always easy. It can be downright painful. Seeing something that you loved leave is hard, but there is a point that we have to get to as believers where we decide to trust Him regardless of how we feel. Your faith in God’s plan for you cannot be controlled by your emotions. If it is, you’ll be fickle and you’ll never stand firm. We have to understand that if God allows something to happen, He knew that you could handle it. Nothing that happens to us catches Him off guard, so you have to know that you know that you know that you know that He will help you through it, that He is good and that He is for you.

2. It may not have aligned with His purpose for your life.

There are some ventures and undertakings that we jump into that may benefit us for a time, but that may not align with God’s long-term purpose and vision for our lives. We get comfortable in places when God is trying to move us to where He needs us to be. Maybe God removed it because it wouldn’t have allowed you to reach your fullest potential for Him.

3. He may be saving your from future issues or hurt.

Anytime I think about loss, I remember a testimony a church member shared once. He was serving in the military in Kuwait, and he had been praying that he would be able to return to his family soon. When the day for his scheduled return came, his officers pushed it back and told him that he wouldn’t be leaving yet. He was sad and really disappointed that he wouldn’t be back home when he thought he would be. But shortly thereafter, he was awakened with news that the plane that he wanted to be on had gone down and that people had lost their lives. Sometimes, God is literally blocking issues, pain, hurt or further loss from us by saying “no” right now.

4. He may be removing an idol from you to get closer to you.

I have learned a lot about idols through this experience, so much so that I blogged about it. I’ve realized that God hates them. He will smash them into a billion pieces if you place them where He should be. When I look back, I realize that I had placed the relationship on the altar of my praise, where God should have been. I spent most of my free time with the guy and made no personal time for loving God. The time that I had prior to the relationship quickly vanished. Although I would have said that I was living for God and many people regarded me as an outspoken Christian, God was not the object of my affections. I would have never said that I worshiped my relationship, but my actions said it for me. God is a jealous God. He will not allow us to hold onto those things that keep us from Him, because He loves us that much.

And through all of this, there is hope…

If this speaks to something that you have gone through or if you are currently going through it now, there is hope for you. My best friend Jeida shared something so great with me once. She said, “when we experience loss, we have a choice to make. We can either fill the hole that it left with more things (friends, people, stuff, etc), or we can choose to fill it with Jesus.” When I had to make this choice, I was blessed to have a God-loving friend by my side to help me make the right decision. It was during this time that Jeida would spend hours on the phone with me talking about Jesus, picking me up to go to church and small group Bible studies with her, and she would pray for me when I became sad. Her presence in my life was instrumental to my healing process. That brings me to my first piece of advice for those who are dealing with loss…

1. Surround yourself with a community of God-loving, praying, compassionate and transparent people…

God never meant for us to struggle through issues alone. Galatians 6:2 NKJV says, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God created us to be relational people who thrive when in community. We need each other. When you suffer loss, reach out to 2 or 3 people that you can trust who will pour into you, keep your eyes stayed on Christ and just love you sacrificially. The healing process starts when you share what you’re going through. Holding things in doesn’t help. Don’t let pride or shame keep you from getting the support you need. If no one comes to mind, pray and ask God to show you who can support you. If you still have no one, please message me and I will personally pray with you. I mean this.

2. Don’t be ashamed of yourself for crying or feeling down.

Healing from loss usually doesn’t happen overnight. You will experience a wide range of emotions and feelings, but if you give those feelings to God, in time you will be okay. Know that crying or having bad feelings doesn’t mean you don’t trust God, it just means that He is still making you new.

3. Pray, read the word and journal like a madwoman (or madman) and declare God’s promises daily.

Like Jeida said, when you have a void in your life, you have to fill it with something. If you fill it with the knowledge of the love of Christ, His promises, grace, mercy and everything else that is Him, you will receive joy and peace. I poured out my heart to God through prayer and writing in my journal everyday. Some days, I wrote through tears, but I felt relieved as I shared these feelings with my journal and even now when I look back on them, I can see where God has brought me from. What a beautiful sight. Also, declare the promises of God every time you get a chance. When I was going through my toughest days, I repeated certain scriptures and reminders daily. Some of my favorites were:

God is working everything out for my good and for His glory. (this became my motto)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11 NKJV

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 NIV

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 NIV

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Galatians 6:9 KJV

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 NIV

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Write these on your mirrors, put them on flash cards, hang them up around your room or do whatever you have to do to be reminded constantly of God’s truth concerning you.

4. Don’t jump into anything else to keep yourself distracted or try to open a door that God has closed.

A huge mistake that many people make, especially after a relationship ends, is jumping into another one to fill that void. They find another person to consume their time, share their broken heart with and try to find solace there. This is so dangerous, both for them and the person whose heart they are involving. After loss, healing must take place. If we pursue another relationship before God’s appointed time, we risk further damaging ourselves and hurting another person. Love protects and it preserves. Do not bring someone else into your life until you are emotionally available and God leads you to do so. Lastly, don’t try to open a door that God closed even if you don’t understand why He did it. Obedience doesn’t require explanations or understanding. In His time, He will reveal things to you and you will be thankful that you obeyed Him. Obedience wins.

5. Renew your mind daily. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23)

There will be days that you wake up with the memory of what is now gone. It can consume your thoughts, but if you can daily submit your thoughts and your mind to God, you can keep those thoughts at bay and keep your mind stayed on Him. Renew your mind daily with the knowledge of Christ.

More than anything else, keep in mind that God’s love for you is unending. His goal is not to hurt you; it is to save you. Your happiness matters to Him but your salvation and growth matter more. And just like Job, God may take something away, but He will always make it worth your while. This doesn’t always mean that you get a better home or job, but it may just mean that He connects with you deeper. God didn’t give me a new relationship, but I have been brought into a deeper place with Him. He gave me more of what I needed to grow and if loss is what it took to get here, I’d go through it all again.

I pray that this blesses you!

Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning… – Job 42:12 NKJV

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New blog feature: Resource Library

Good afternoon friends,

I hope that you are all well. I wanted to write a short blurb about something that I’ve worked really hard on to be of service to you. When I’m looking up different topics and issues related to living as a Christian young adult, I come across many great resources. I find free e-books, sermons, videos, booklets, articles, blog posts, music and more. Some of the resources that I’ve come across online have been exactly what I needed to read at a particular time in life, and I feel that it’s only fitting to make these resources available to those who may come to my blog looking for insight on a particular topic.

So today, I formally welcome you to check out Where He Makes All Things Beautiful’s new resource library. Feel free to browse, explore and share. A friend of mine already started a book group from a great free resource she found there and it’s helping many of the women in a tremendous way. Also, if there is ever a particular topic you may be looking for Godly counsel or advice on, feel free to comment somewhere on the blog or use the Say Hello feature to ask me. More than likely, I know of something that can help.

God bless you and have an awesome day!

Brittany

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Sometimes it’s … [a powerful quote on the discipline Christianity requires]

Sometimes it’s self-discipline, not the power of God, which brings deliverance. We don’t need a miracle to open our bibles and study, we need discipline. We don’t need angelic visitations to know God’s will, we need to stop being lazy and get to the prayer meeting. Jesus will never over-ride our laziness, that’s out of line with His character. We must rise up to the call. Deny ourselves, pick up the cross, and follow Him. Laziness is not a demon, it’s the result of ignorance.

A powerful quote shared today by Pastor Brian Williams.

 

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Draw Me Nearer – A 7-day Journey of Seeking Christ

Hello my dear friends,

I hope that your new year has been wonderful thus far. I am so excited to see the year 2013 and I am expectant for all that God will do! I wanted to come to you to share a project that I’m facilitating this coming week called Draw Me Nearer.

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For the past month, God has been placing people in my life who are looking for Him. They’ve grown up knowing Him but at some point, their relationship with Him has fallen off or for some, it never started. They’ve been lacking intimacy in their relationship with Him and they need revival. So, I asked God to help me really help people to know Him the way that I’ve gotten to know Him. For them to feel the Spirit stir inside them when they pray and worship. For them to hunger and thirst for Him to the point that it hurts. For them to be so in love that they just want to sit at His feet and pour their love on Him like oil. Intimacy is what I desire for them. 

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. – Psalms 63:1-3 KJV

Last week while praying via telephone with some friends in Maryland, God gave me an idea. The idea was to facilitate a 7-day project where participants would intentionally seek God by fasting from media and committing to studying a topic or book of the Bible, praying in the morning as well as through the day, writing in journals and joining prayer calls. He also gave me the idea to gather a group of my friends who have a gift for intercession to fervently pray over the project, as well as each participant. Thus, Draw Me Nearer was born. I am excited because in the last 7 days, over 60 people from 4 countries and on 3 different continents have signed up. People who barely know God to those who have been walking with Him for years. People desire intimacy and a real knowledge of who God is, and it’s beautiful! The journey starts on Sunday, January 6th and I know that God is going to move in a mighty way. We’ve been praying that we would encounter Him in a way that we never have before. I thank God for giving me the ideas as well as the resources to make this happen and I feel so very blessed to be used. 

If you desire to cut out distractions and want deeper intimacy in your relationship with Christ, this might be something for you! If you would like to join in, simply fill out this form and I’ll be glad to e-mail you the details that you need to join in. This is for anyone who desires a closer walk with Christ. 

I ask that you all would keep me as well as the project and each participant in heavy prayer, that the Lord’s will would be done and that He would show Himself mighty and strong in the lives of us all this coming week. 

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13 KJV

Sincerely,

Brittany