3 Fun, Small & Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Your College Student

“I’m stress eating.”

I couldn’t help, but laugh! So far the group text with my college girls had been full of excitement about rush, the sororities they had picked and the new friends they had made. Life had drastically changed for them.

In the midst of this excitement though an inconvenient thing called classes had started. Syllabus shock was here. Professors had laid out every single assignment and test for the next several months and the reality check of what all had to happen in the next year had arrived.

Her story is common. After the initial rush of excitement, it’s not uncommon for a college student to feel overwhelmed, discouraged, lonely and/or out of place. There has been a LOT of new the past few weeks and it can leave a longing for something familiar and comfortable.

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Why Millennials Don’t Stick At Your Church

As a preacher’s kid, you would think I would be prepared for this. My mom sat in church with me her whole pregnancy. I cooed along to hymns as a toddler. I may or may not have raced my friends by military crawling under the pews. As a teenager, I joined every activity and almost every leadership team imaginable at a small church.

I know this church thing. I’ve done it my whole life.

But being a millennial in church is a whole different story.  

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When You Feel Spiritually Dry & Need A Mid-Year Boost

The truth of Ann Voskamp’s words ring in my mind when she says “A year can evaporate before you know it.” Every year around this time Ann will talk about June as the second January – as an opportunity to do a reset halfway through the year. I love this perspective because sometimes when I feel too far behind to catch up, it’s easier to just quit.

When my bookmark is in Genesis & my reading plan shows I’m supposed to be halfway through.
When my brand new sneakers intended for trips to the gym are embarrassingly still new.
When my ignored friendships that were to be revived by coffee dates remain largely untouched.

I’ll readily admit it. Sometimes I need a reset halfway through.

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How To Talk to Students About Bullying

The Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why stayed off my radar for weeks. I heard people mention the show’s title, but I completely missed the show’s premise and thought it was just a movie.

Then I heard my girls were watching it. Cue popcorn and a movie – only I found it wasn’t a movie. It also wasn’t a typical love story. It was 13 hours of heaviness – of taking serious issues faced by students and showing them handled in a disastrous manner.

As the story unfolded, the harsh reality of bullying was one of the main themes that took center stage. Rumors, rejection and being left out resonated with students yet they were left with no guidance as to their options. In the TV series the main character Hannah chooses suicide. If this isn’t the only solution, how do we talk to students about bullying? What do they need to know?

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Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker – A Book Review


Sandy and Kate were my 2nd grade best friends. It was my first year in public school and they accepted homeschooled seven-year-old me in their friend group (despite my embarrassing habit of crying every morning because I was afraid to leave my mom). We hung out at recess, sat beside each other at lunch and hung out at each other’s houses on the weekends.

We were the three Musketeers until the day of our “big” fight. Recess turned us from friends to foes as multiple messengers ran back and forth exchanging messages regarding who was no longer friends with who. Our friendship was officially declared over. This ending segued lots of tears and a trip straight to the school counselor’s office.

The school counselor, however, worked her magic and we were all friends and back in class within a few minutes. If only friendships stayed that easy…

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When It Can’t Be Made Right & the Pain Hasn’t Been Worth It

In loving memory of Christina Semeria

By no coincidence, I was scheduled to begin the book of Job the morning of April 28, 2016.  I had not yet heard anything about the tragedy at UGA. Yet the pages of Scripture quietly walked me into a scene of deep authentic faith – where a godly man loses his wealth, children and health yet profoundly chooses to whisper in the dark depths of grief “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

The Lord never misses a detail when it comes to preparing our hearts for what is ahead.

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Spiritually Preparing Seniors for College – 3 Conversations to Have (Part 2)

“I’m not going to fall away. That’s the last thing I’d do. Faith is central to me.” The camera filmed as he stated exactly what so many students think after graduating high school. Then he continued “…that bubble burst within months.”

The typical eight-hour school schedule, face-to-face conversations with parents and familiar community will largely vanish in just a few short months. High school seniors are about to write their own story. From the party scene to classes to relationships, the power to decide will be in their hands. They now sit in the driver’s seat.

They are finishing a known chapter and simultaneously preparing for an unknown one. Often more open to advice in this uncomfortable transition, there are three last conversations I try to have…

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How to Spiritually Prepare Seniors for College – Church Field Trips (Part 1)

“Wait…where are you going??” Her eyes widened and her tone colored with concern. I had been explaining instructions for the day to my senior girls in the parking lot of a new church. Somewhere along the way they realized I was using the pronoun “you” instead of “we.” Something different was happening.

I would not be walking into church with them.
I would not be easing the transition to this new place.
I would not be finding the room where they needed to go.
I would not be introducing us to the new people we met.

I would be close by, but this time they were on their own. At 9:20am I smiled, nodded and told them they should probably start heading inside. The spiritual exercise had begun.

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Teaching Students How to Pray

Prayer can be beautiful and raw yet also daunting. It reminds me of my vulnerability. It shatters my illusion of control. It runs completely against my instincts.

Instead of hurry, I am told to wait.

Instead of work, I am told to rest.

Instead of worry, I am told to believe.

The vulnerability of prayer, however, ushers me into an intimacy with God that can be found no other way. It is a key spiritual discipline that leads to spiritual maturity.

3 Resources to Help You Teach Students How to Pray

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Choosing the “Bright Sadness” of Lent

When Pursuit Has Left You Weary & Looking for More

Ding – the familiar sound sends my fingers scurrying to the computer tab that simply says Facebook (1). It’s become an automatic response – rushing to see what social media has to say about me.

It can be an insidious pursuit for approval or comfort that slips in a thousand different ways. Whether it’s watching the number of likes on an Instagram photo, an impulse shopping trip or sneaking the fourth triple chocolate brownie – the pursuit appears full of promise. Yet I find myself empty, weary and worn.

Ironically, lent appears devoid and empty – a place of lack, discomfort and denial. No instant gratification, no easy answers nor applause from others. It is a place that demands transparency and reveals motives – a place only the Lord can fully enter. So the question becomes – is this place of lack where my soul could truly thrive?

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