You’re Welcome (Monday)

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by Ruth Hallstead

It’s about to be “the most wonderful time of the year”. It’s getting colder, snow is in the air (well, maybe not in Tuscaloosa’s air), stores are assaulting us with advertisements, lights are going up… But wait! It’s only November. There is still one more holiday before Christmas. Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching; promising trips home, piles of homemade food, intrusive questions about your future from well-meaning family members, and a much needed break from classes. Amongst all the craziness (or perhaps serenity if you won’t be spending Turkey day with the family), it’s important to remember why we plan to devour Granny’s special whatever. The holiday is called THANKSgiving for a reason– now is the time to reflect on all the blessings we’ve received in the past year and give thanks to the Lord. Sometimes we get into a rhythm “Thank you for the nice day Lord”, “Thanks for the Bama win Saturday (Although, could ya teach Hurts to throw the ball every once in a while?)”, “Thank you for my family, friends, health, etc”, “Thank you for Wesley WooHoo!!!, how else would I occupy all my time?”. Okay, maybe not that last one. But I think you get the point… our gratitude can become routine. When you find yourself repeating the same old “Thanks”, it’s time to try something new. While The Rock may have been acting as Maui, his words ring true for our God. We should thank Him for everything from the sun in the sky to the grass under our toes. When we become tongue-tied like Moana, we can turn to the Psalms. There are some amazing songs of praise and thanksgiving to be found in the Psalms. Take Psalm 30 for example, “Sing praises to the Lord”, “Weeping may last for the night, but JOY comes with the morning!” and “You have turned my mourning into dancing”. Remember the words of the Psalmist as you go about your week. Sing in gratitude, rejoice in the joy of the morning, and dance in thankfulness and admiration for the Lord and his works!

Kids of the Future (Wednesday)

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by Hannah Alford

One of the scariest things about the future is that by moving forward, you are leaving something behind, and although God is there to hold your hand and guide you, this journey can be difficult. But even the Jonas Brothers knew that holding onto the past only hinders one’s ability to see the future..

“..Come on Lewis, keep moving forward

Hold your head up high

There’s no time for looking down

You will not believe where we’re going now

Here we go, let me remind you

Look ahead, the past is behind you”

God is constantly thinking about our futures, and every step we take, the good and the bad, bring us closer to the future he intended for us. There’s no time to look down and get caught up in the past, so much good is coming our way. Even when we may be in a rut and feel like there couldn’t possibly be a good ending to our story, be patient. God is actively working in your life to bring you the wonderful life you deserve, the future is just hard to see sometimes. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and I future.” God has a plan, and the more we get wrapped up in the small things of everyday we no longer see the big picture, and we may never know for sure just what God has in store, but he will always be there to guide us along the way. The future is not an intimidating void we sometimes make it out to be, the future is hope, opportunities, and the comfort that God’s plan is working in our lives everyday

Kids of the Future (Monday)

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by Ruth Hallstead

College is a confusing time for many. We are faced with so many decisions regarding our future, we’re surrounded by people ready to supply advice (good and bad), and we watch friends go through the same things. Sometimes, we see our friends and it feels as though life is passing us by. We may hang out with upperclassmen and watch them get internships, network, get involved with research; really start to focus in on their post-college lives. Or perhaps it seems as though others our age are moving forward while we aren’t going anywhere. We can feel like spectators to our own lives.

“Standing on a dirty, old rooftop

Down below the cars in the city go rushing by

I sit here alone and I wonder why” (Kids of the Future- Jonas Brothers)

College is crazy because no two people are ever in the same place in their education, professional development, or personal life. That’s also one of the coolest parts about college. We are surrounded by people we can help out, and by friends who can serve as role-models (or cautionary tales…) as we muddle forward pursuing our future. It’s a scary place to be as we watch others fail and succeed, as we are advised to go in seven thousand different directions, and as we attempt to separate what we truly want from what others want us to be. In times when we are lost and afraid of what life is going to bring, we can stand confidently on God’s promises.

“Our steps are made firm by the Lord,

When he delights in our way;

Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,

For the Lord holds us by the hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)

Hand-holding is one of the most comforting stimuli we can receive. If you touch a newborn baby’s hand, it will reflexively curl around your finger. Studies have shown that simply holding hands with someone increases our pain tolerance. This verse in Psalms evokes a wonderful image. Not only is God with us at all times, he is holding our hand! Think back to the last time someone held your hand. Remember how that felt, and think about God’s hand holding yours at all times. No matter what the future may bring, we face it together, hand-in-hand, with God.

Thriller (Friday)

In Thriller, Micheal Jackson sings about fighting for your life and no one saving his poor horror movie victim. Of course, as Christians, we know that someone has already saved us, but despite knowing how the battle ends, we still fight everyday for our eternal lives. maybe we’re not fighting literal “beasts about to strike” but sometimes sin creeps up the exact same way as the villian in the song does. It’s difficult to talk about fighting, whether metaphorical or physical, without taking a good look at just what we have to fight with. Our defense is laid out in Ephesians 6:11-18. Often called the armor of God, this passage is modeled after the Roman armor of the day because the recipients of this letter would have a clear image of what this looked like and the Roman army was the most formidable force in the world. There are a few things I find particularly interesting about this – the first being that Roman armor had no backplate because they weren’t allowed to retreat. Where have I started to retreat from the battleline out of fear, pressure or just distraction? The other interesting piece of this, to me, is that we are only provided with one weapon – the Word of God (vs. 17). Now, I don’t know a lot about Sword fighting, but I’ve watched a lot of Reign, and I’ve learned that no soldier would go into battle without being very familiar with his weapon. How familiar am I really with the weapon I am given? What can I do to make myself more familiar with it? If we’re fighting for our (eternal) lives like in the song, we need to reach first for our weapon


Thriller (Wednesday)

by Hannah Alford

On Monday, we were challenged to be the Ruth in our friends lives this week, showing the friendship and endless compassion that Ruth showed to her mother-in-law Naomi. This compassion sets us apart from many of the monsters written in Thriller that thrive on the fear of loneliness and cruelty. A monster isn’t always something with pointy teeth and sharp claws like we see in movies, but your monster can be anything; social anxiety, depression, even situations or people can become a monster in your life.

“You hear the door slam
And realize there’s nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand
And wonder if you’ll ever see the sun…”

Something holding you down, striking fear in your heart, this weight that sometimes feels like it can’t be lifted isn’t as heavy as you think. God will always be there to pull you out of the darkness and into the sun. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30). God is bigger than your fears, he’s bigger than your monster; and time and time again have proven that he is always there to bring you back into the light.

Thriller (Monday)

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by Ruth Hallstead

Being Halloween Eve, a general creepiness is descending upon us: decorations, costumes, haunted houses, a chill in the air… For some, Halloween represents a throwback to running through neighborhoods trying to get as much candy as possible, trying to convince your parents it’s warm enough to wear your costume (some of y’all have probably never faced the tragedy of covering up a fantastic costume to avoid hypothermia) without a coat, and eating candy until you descend into a fugue state. For others, October is the season to scare yourselves silly watching horror movies around the clock. Whatever Halloween means to you, it’s coming… and our devotion is getting in the spirit. The first time I saw the music video for Thriller, I was terrified. However, the frightening scene of a boyfriend going lupine or being surrounded by zombies in a dark alley cannot compare to another fear heard in the lyrics “Cause this is thriller, thriller night. And no one’s gonna save you, from the beast about to strike”. No one’s going to save you. Loneliness is a powerful fear, and for those few of us who stayed on campus through fall break, we were reminded how incredible loneliness can be. Campus felt like one of those movies where all the humans have been abducted except for you. Regardless of whether you are on an empty campus or in the middle of the quad on gameday, we’ve all experienced loneliness. The feeling that no one is going to save you from yourself, from your thoughts, from sin, from danger, is painful. Nobody wants to feel that… and here’s where we can all help out. Proverbs 17:17 reminds us of our duty as friends “A friend loves at all times”. All times. Good, bad, and ugly, we are called to save others from their loneliness. The Lord loves and supports us, and it is our job to reflect this love and support onto others. Whether your friend has changed from human to werewolf or from Naomi to Mara, be their Ruth this week; shine the light of God into dark alleys and stay with them no matter what.