So here is my advice to you . . . be radical! Don’t go back to your old ways. It’s a sad trend that we go on these awesome retreats, have this amazing experience of God’s power, fall deeply in love with Him, but then leave it all behind when we toss our flip flops to the back of the closet.
What if after St. Paul had his conversion experience with God, he went back to his old ways of killing Christians? That would be weird (and tragic). Then why do we think that we can return to our old ways? You don’t have to sell yourself short. Be different.
One of my favorite things about high school was the last week of school. Sure there were finals, but I knew the school year was about to end, and it was almost time for summer break. Ah… summer break. Oh how I would look forward to it. Oh how I would long for it. Oh how I would plan out all the exciting things I was going to do, only to get trapped in a cycle of boredom within a week. You probably know the drill and have been there before. There’s nothing to do. It’s too hot, and theme parks are too expensive. So, what can you do? Well, if you’re not already going to Life Teen Summer Camp, here are 10 fun things you can do with your summer vacation.
Breathing doesn’t become less important as our physical tasks get more difficult; it becomes more important. It’s the same with prayer. It will most likely seem impossible to find time for a lot of prayer during finals week. I urge you to make it work . . .
If you asked me what I got in my high school Chemistry class, I would tell you, “An A and two C’s!” Why? Not because I took the class three times, but because I got the A and my two friends, who I let cheat off my homework and tests, got the two C’s! Unfortunately, when I was in high school, even though the teachers told us not to cheat, it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t understand how my choices in school affected my relationship with Jesus.
It’s August, and that means a lot of you are buying five-pound textbooks, packing up the car and getting ready to go to college, maybe for the first time. So please, take with you this piece of advice from someone who learned it the hard way: If you eat bacon at every meal it won’t be long till you’re forced to wear the same pair of sweatpants all week because none of your other pants fit. Trust me. OK, OK – That’s not the advice I was talking about.
When I began my faith journey, I was constantly comparing myself to my peers. It’s like I was walking into God’s kitchen, shaking as I showed my Heavenly Father my report card. I tried to justify all of my sins. I measured my holiness by the sin of others instead of the holiness of God. I turned down the ability for greatness that His grace offered me. I settled for being “better than most” rather than all that He called me to be. I didn’t want to do the work. I eased into a spirit of contentment and lived a spiritual life that was “good enough.” Others praised me for my “B” effort in my faith, especially since so many kids my age were so much worse. But I knew I could be better, and I knew that God knew it, too.
I recently wrote a blog called, “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About College.” Anyway, I’m feeling good, and believe me, there are plenty of things you’ll want to know about college before you go. So here is some extra credit just for you.
It was a hot August day in Tempe, Arizona as I walked toward my first college class. The year was 1998, and I was hopeful about what these next 4 years would bring. I got good grades in high school and felt well prepared for what college would offer. I had already chosen to major in Communication, and as I sat down at my desk, I knew that it was only a matter of time until I would graduate and get my dream job.
It didn’t take long before I realized that there was more to college than classes. It was like a whole other world, and that first semester was a real eye-opener. Some students came to class every day, while others came whenever they felt like it. Textbooks were ridiculously expensive, and for some reason every credit card company seemed to want my business. It’s been 13 years since my first day in college, and looking back, there are a lot of things I wish someone had told me. Whether you are graduating or just starting to think about what school you want to attend, here are 5 thoughts that I hope will benefit you.
I can’t be the only one who’s dreamt this: You’re running late to class, and when you barge into the room you realize (A) that you’re still in your pajamas, and (B) there’s a test you totally forgot about! It’s a horrible feeling, being unprepared for something you can’t escape. I remember one particular time when I realized there was a Chemistry – that morning. I was sitting in English class, a place I’ve always felt more at home, and was freaking out when my friend handed me something.
It was a copy of the test she’d stolen from the teacher’s desk. This was exactly what I needed, right? But I couldn’t ignore the steadily rising little voice inside that said, “This is wrong.”
The words fun, freedom, and adulthood probably come to mind when you think about the adventure you’re about to embark on. For those just entering college, get ready. Dorm life is very different from living in an upstairs room at your parents’ – with your meals made and an early bedtime. We wouldn’t leave you stranded, so here’s some advice for both guys and girls on how to keep your integrity inside your residence hall. We asked Megan and Luke Reetz, a couple from Colorado who have both served on university campuses as Catholic missionaries, to share their wisdom for men and women.
I distinctly remember my first day of senior year. I pulled into the school parking lot in my red 1994 Nissan Sentra (thanks Dad!) and walked into my homeroom like I had done everyday the three years before. Nothing around me was dramatically different. The people, the classrooms, and the schedule were all relatively familiar. However, there was one thing that was a little different – me. I held my head a little higher and my confidence was stronger. Why? Because I was a senior. Finally!
I anticipated my senior year to be full of memories and growth. It was the year I would take my first steps into adulthood, and the year that I would have to make big decisions about what I wanted to do next. Like many of you, I was excited and overwhelmed all at the same time.
Surviving High School, eh? When I think back on junior year, what are the lessons I’d pass on about having a great time… hmm. I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks, and I think I can sum it up in one sentence.
Sophomore year is a tricky time. You’re not the youngest anymore – you know your way around the campus and the high school life. You’re also not close to graduating yet, so those college apps aren’t piling up on your desk causing you or your parents added stress. You’re the best part of the high school Oreo – you’re right in the middle. Mmmmm, Oreos…
Sophomore year might best be described as a year of opportunity. This year you have the opportunity to become who you are, who God designed you to be (Jer. 1:4-8). This year offers you all new ways to really make an impact on the school, in other peoples’ lives and in your own faith walk.
Many of us have experienced transforming spiritual experiences during the summer; through camps, conferences, retreats, and mission trips we have made huge strides to grow closer to Christ – and in a sense, fatten our spiritual wallets. We’ve built up something I call “spiritual currency,” because in the same way we can save up money working a summer job, we have built up grace through our holy encounters this summer.
These encounters with Christ might begin to lose momentum as school approaches and as we catch up with people who didn’t experience our summer. This is the key moment when we’re tempted to “sell” our spiritual currency to fit in and be accepted. The price to fit in is high this first month, and you’ll be tempted to sell your integrity to fit into the party stories, to sell your chastity to fit into a relationship, to sell your morality to fit into a group of people, or to sell your dignity to avoid rejection – but beware the back to school “sales.”
Over the summer, I met a lot of teenagers that like the idea of being 100% Catholic, but they are afraid that people will make fun of them for “being into God.” They told me that it’s easy to be a good Catholic at church or with their youth group, but once they get in their high school hallways, it’s too hard to be different. They don’t want to be mocked or criticized. Last week I talked about how to deal with this through prayer, but this week I want to go deeper about this fear of being rejected because of your Catholic faith. So let’s talk about this statement: “They’ll make fun of me.” Is this fear of rejection valid?
Once again, it is upon us. The dawn of a new school year looms on the near horizon, ushering forth every emotion from uncontrollable excitement and anticipation to a dread and anxiety rivaled only by root canals. It’s time to go back to school, my brothers and sisters!
I’d like to dedicate this short reflection to all those people who for so many years have dedicated themselves to the often thankless and perpetually underpaid field of education. Teachers deserve our thanks and our praise. In my own life, there are many that I’d like to thank personally…
…it’s not that hard to get people’s attention. It’s what you do with it that matters. You can either be silly or give something to them that matters. When St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words.”
As a homeschooler, my prom experience wasn’t exactly the kind of thing you see in the movies. Instead of a giant museum hall filled with balloons, streamers, and an amazing DJ, I had a boombox and some microwave taquitos. Okay, that might be an overstatement. Honestly, I didn’t go to prom – which makes it weird that I’d be writing about it for all of you guys getting ready for it. So to fill in my gaps in prom knowledge, I asked around the Life Teen staff to come up with some tips Read more [...]
Any graduating senior will tell you what they wish they knew as when they were freshman. Most of this comes from circumstance: if someone studied all the time and never had fun, they might tell you to have more fun. If someone who had a lot of fun but never studied, they will tell you to study more. So everyone has different some nugget of wisdom they will share. Then there are some universal lessons that everybody learns, whether they like it or not. It doesn’t matter who you are or what Read more [...]