Why It is More Important than Ever for Christians to Show Love

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Today while watching the Today Show, breaking news interrupted the talk show portion that I find myself enjoying every morning over a cup of coffee. The Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage nationwide. As I continued watching the two little boys I nanny play, I began to think about my personal response.

As a Christian growing up in the Bible Belt, I’ve often felt pressured to disdain homosexuality. I have even felt the pressure to be AFRAID of homosexuality and the individuals that have, as been previously ingrained through the society I grew up in, “chosen” this lifestyle. After hearing this breaking news, this historical news that would undoubtedly be all over history ebooks in the future, I felt compelled to write what I believe God is putting on my heart and calling Christians to do nationwide.

Most Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin. This is just the plain fact. The majority of Christians believe that there is no place in heaven for gay or lesbian couples. How do they/(we?)  back up their/(our) claim? The claim can be backed up through verses in the bible. Ask any adamant anti-gay rights Christian and they will surely have these verses down by heart.

Personally, God has not come to me in some misty dream and spoken to me, Gracie Blanchard about the sinful nature of homosexuality. God has not deemed it unforgiving to me, or stated that homosexual beings have no place next to him in Heaven. I believe that it is not my right to tell other people on this earth God’s decision on such a huge issue of spiritual life after death.

Now that I have stated my objectivity, I can stake my claim. When Jesus Christ himself walked on this earth, he was asked possibly one of the most revealing questions about how we are to live and make decisions on this earth. Jesus was asked, “hey. So like what is literally the most important commandment”. This should 100% squash any argument made about what kind of love is right or wrong, or how we as Christians should respond to situations. Jesus Christ himself answered that above all, we were to love God. And next, the most IMPORTANT thing we are to do as human beings in this lifetime is to love others. Love them. Let me just repeat for good measure, love them.

It is now more important than ever for Christians to display love not only to eachother but to everyone in this country. The world is changing, social boundaries are being pushed and the domestic confines are expanding. But we should all be looking at these changing times and historical moments like the Supreme Court ruling today as OPPORTUNITIES to demonstrate the massive love God has for every single person. This is our time to be a witness to God’s love and ACCEPTANCE.

No matter what your belief is on gay rights, if you are out there claiming to be a believer of Jesus Christ than you need be expressing his #1 rule for us to follow, plain and simple. If homosexuals are loving each other, do you need to crucify this till the end, or are there possibly other issues and immoral things happening that you could better throw your energy into trying to change. If you’re worried about your current or future children, maybe redirect your energy into the downward moral spiral of the music industry, or the constant sex and innuendos on commercials plastered on even family television networks. Maybe let’s change how children view commitment over how they view who to love. Maybe we should worry about how society views the quality over love instead of having a fixation on who to love.

This is the time to show the love and acceptance God shows us daily. I know for a fact that my sins are no different than the sin, “sins”, or lifestyle (three different words for whatever you believe) of homosexuals. My sins of impatience, selfishness, and quick temper are not lesser than what some people are accusing homosexuals’ sins. No matter what you believe, you are not drawing one.single.person closer to God by not accepting a lifestyle that they are not likely to change by your preachy nature.

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A Letter (more specifically) To College Girls: What Younger People Taught Me About The Present

I’ve lived my whole life looking forward to the next phase. All I ever wanted to do was the next thing, and all I ever wanted to think about and plan for was the next thing. I’m sure some of you are like that, as well.  When you were in middle school, you wanted so badly to be in high school. ABC Family painted an unrealistic image of high school for you, and you wanted to be apart of it. When you were in high school, you dreamed of a college you wanted to go to. You pictured yourself in a club, an academic field, a sport, or a greek community and you wanted it so badly because high school just wasn’t doing it for you anymore. This was me my whole life. I’ve constantly obsessed about the future, made goals, pursued them, talked about things in ridiculous advance. I talked about dancing in college so much that I think I could have made my mom/friends throw up. For me it was always the hope that the next thing I did would be better. THEN, I would surely have it all and be so content with my life. No longer would I strive for where I was going, I would just be. I am not discounting the value of goal making, for surely all big dreams start as visions and goals. But lately, culminating with this weekend, I have been realizing this about myself, and hopefully what I’m saying will translate to some of you and mean something to you as well.

Nothing is going to magically become better for you than it is right now. This is tough, because I’ve lived my whole life running from where I was to where I wanted to be. But I am now realizing that it is we who have all the power to make our “now” great. Wherever you are currently is where you belong. You were planted there to grow into a better, more experienced, more cultured person than you are right now. If you are unhappy, you are the only person that can make yourself happy. You are the only person that knows yourself well enough to be able to make the change in your life needed to make YOU happy. Because you are you, and nobody else can know you enough to help you make that change. Lately, I’ve noticed myself focusing too much not only on what I’m going to do in my later years of college, but what I’m going to do after college. I have literally kept myself up at night trying to force myself into deciding who exactly I want to be post grad. Planning is not bad, and being realistic about the future is not bad. However, I do not want to lose the moment I am in right now in some whirl winded anxiety about where I want to be going, or where I wish I already was in the future.

There is no time as precious as the present. I know people say this all the time, but it is so very true. This weekend I had some younger girls from my high school come stay with me for a night so that they could visit and get the college experience. I watched their eyes light up as my roommate and I told them about day- to- day campus life, the sisterhood we have found in our sororities, dancing alone in a room in a frat with our best guy friend by ourselves, the best restaurants in Fayetteville, and ridiculous date parties. We told them about bonding with girls in communal bathrooms, awesome professors, and school traditions. I could so acutely remember myself in this position that I could almost smell it. It was like I could almost feel all of the feelings and aspirations and desires and worries that I had when I was in high school wash over me again, and I felt young and small once more. No matter the age, this could so easily happen to you. I wonder if when adults talk to me about college if they, too, feel this way and this reminiscent vibe wash over them. Having the girls here really reminded me of so desperately wanting to be here in college, and made me realize how lucky I am, WE are, to be in the moment we are in now.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, is a culmination of all of the hard work you did to get there. Be proud of yourself, JEALOUS, of yourself in this moment. You planned for this, crunched numbers for this, applied for this, trained for this. At one point, you desperately desired to be where you are now. If you could go back and have a coffee with yourself 4 years ago, you would be obsessed with yourself. You would look up at yourself and be like, “that is what I want to be. I want to be you so bad.” and you are. You are, at this point, where you planted yourself. I never want to look back and wish I had slowed down, looked around, and enjoyed in full fledged, ridiculous contentment (Yes, I said it. I mean being grateful and happy! :~) Imagine that.) my “now”. Because is is so special. This is the moment I have been waiting for, and past-gracie is so jealous of present-gracie’s place in life right now. And that is the same for you. I hope anyone reading this makes their present what they always wished and hoped it would be, so that one day when you talk to someone younger, you can be happy knowing that those times were great, but you have no desire to go back, because you’re so in love with where you are right now .Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 11.27.01 PM“I am not happy all day, but I am happy at some point, every day.”

Merit vs. Circumstance

Earlier this morning, I was reading an online article about a program being started to help achieving students from low income families realize their potential to go to college. The Bloomberg program is being started by the college board to help students who perform well in high school but are from low income families utilize resources and give information about their ability to attend college. The article gave statistics on the number of these kinds of students who do not believe it possible for them to attend college. This new program will offer these kinds of high school students an online counselor who came from similar upbringing to help them through the application process etc. and guide them through their junior and senior year. Also, the program aims to waive application fees for up to 4 colleges per student.

It saddens me to think that there are kids out there just a little younger than I, who are working hard in high school just to believe it impossible for them to attend college. I’m a firm believer in merit vs. circumstance, that merit should be what your value is based on and should determine how you get to live life versus the circumstance one was born into doing the same.

I’m happy today, knowing that we live in a world where we care enough and believe enough in opportunity for all, that we can reach out and make peoples’ lives better, just by giving them the opportunity to prove their work ethic. I’m thankful for the media in a way today, for exposing the statistics of these low income students, bringing it to the surface so that the college board would be informed, and sharing the ways that they will work to fix it.

The Little Reporter Who Cried Wolf

This Saturday at our very own Razorback Homecoming football game, I met and bonded with a reporter named Dave. It was the fourth quarter, we were winning by 40-something points, and I was dancing on the sidelines, per usual. The sun was shining, the weekend was beautiful, and we were kicking some UAB hiney.

My new reporter friend Dave started telling me about an article he had read that morning about how artificial turf grass can give blood cancer. Alarmed, since at that exact moment I was sitting with my legs crossed over artificial turf grass, proceeded to grill him for more information. Apparently, the synthetics and chemicals in the tires that are made into turf can come in contact with blood or skin on athletes and cause blood cancer. Although you would think by the age of 19 I would have learned not to believe everything I hear, I proceeded to be moderately concerned for the rest of the game.

This morning I decided to read an article or two about this turf causing cancer to myself. I used Google and typed in “Turf Causes Cancer” to find an article on the NY Daily News website. The article stated that though doctors have speculated whether or not it is the turf causing the blood cancer in these athletes, no evidence has been linked to prove that it is the turf carcinogens causing the cancer.

I instantly remember Dave telling me that he read his article from “Yahoo” News. This has me wondering two things about the media: 1. Does the credibility of the source really have THAT much influence on how dramatic something can be portrayed? I would say that Yahoo news and not as credible as the NY Daily News. The Yahoo News article almost portrayed this scenario as a fact while the NY Daily News provided the open ended discussion that this turf was not proven to be the cause of cancer. My second question was this: Does the media have this much influence on us? Can we hear/read/watch something that media puts out, become instantly alarmed, and pass on that information in the course of a couple of hours? I think the answer to both questions is yes. Even though I know the answer to both of these questions in yes, I find it funny how it took no time for that reporter to pass along his information about turf cancer to an athlete actually sitting on turf. I think it is safe to say that today I learned the media, (and the people it reaches), are consistenly, DAILY, crying wolf.

Ebola, Robots, and All Uncomfortable Things

Today I read a very interesting/disturbing article on the New York Times website. It was about Ebola, and how scientists are trying to configure a way to use robots to help treat, diagnose, sanitize, and work in close contact with Ebola patients.

This particular author or the New York Times even seemed taken aback by this idea. On the first hand, patients MUST be treated. We, as a society, have a  moral obligation to provide care for the infected and do whatever is within our power to help these patients possibly beat the disease and move on toward a normal, healthy life. Although, we must protect those in the medical field and really condense this disease and not allow it to spread. In theory, wouldn’t having robots care for these patients be the perfect solution? This New York Times argued both cases. Even though it may seem like the perfect solution, technology is not yet to the point in which dexterous robots are not yet a real thing. Robots are not people, and technology is not far enough along to have robots that can acutely administer to extremely sick ebola patients.

Personally, I believe we cannot allow robots to take care of these patients. Sadly, many of the diagnosed ebola infected patients will not make it through this illness. Their last days on earth should not be days in which they suffer absolutely no human interaction. When we face huge, worldwide epidemics, panic arises. As people, we want to protect ourselves and more importantly our families and we will think of anything that will help us protect them. Scientists, engineers, and medical hands face hard moral dilemmas when it comes to highly contagious disease. However, surely having a machine take care of a human is out of the question.

Wait, So Who Exactly Gets to Decide?

Recently, I’ve been doing some thinking about social media, how people view it, use it, and judge from it. It was only right to evaluate myself. I scanned through mine. What is my social media presence? How do I use it? What am I truly using it for? What are my objectives? I believe social media has some great benefits; it connects us to family and friends that we otherwise may not be able to communicate with as much. I know I have been so grateful for it lately with my move, getting to keep up with all my friends’ lives at different colleges. Even my mom, with whom I communicate daily, but still needed to see what her tennis coach actually looked like yesterday. Social media connects the world. But it also has become a way for people to judge each other. My question lately has been, by what standard can we judge one another? What is “okay” to post about? How will I not piss people off online?

Maybe you’re a funny person. Maybe you love tweets that are funny, instagram posts that aren’t serious at all. I’d classify myself as part of this. More so on twitter than on instagram. I noticed when reading through my last 100 tweets that I primarily use/view twitter as comical entertainment. I tweet a lot of embarrassing pictures of my friends. I also tend to love funny instagrams, however I noticed that only a minority of my instagram posts are funny/silly/stupid. Most of my instagram posts are pictures with friends, smiling and happy, doing whatever thing we’re together doing on that day.

Some people are serious on social media. You may be someone who uses social media to promote good causes. Maybe you retweet news breaks, post about sports and athletes, or things involving politics. You may use social media to try and reach hundreds about a topic you’re serious about, or to raise awareness about. You might possibly have started an account for a business to inform people about a product and gain popularity. I know I used instagram and twitter today to try to persuade people to come to the pancake breakfast hosted by my sorority for our philanthropy.

Maybe you’re “normal”. Maybe your social media presence is you with your friends or family, doing things you love. Every now and then, maybe you take a good picture and you’re with people you like and you think, “This is good. I’m happy, I like what I’m doing, I like who I’m with, so I’m posting this.” And that’s okay. And it’s a good thing, and everyone should feel comfortable doing so.

We all have different personalities on social media. We’re all driven to post different things based on our personalities. I don’t really understand (to a degree, obviously. I think we should all keep our social media accounts G rated. There’s some things better left unsaid or unseen) people who police others’ posts. Who cares if all you retweet are spongebob memes? That was a great show. If you hangout with the same circle of 5 people, they obviously matter a whole lot to you, so you go ahead and make a whole Facebook album of pictures with them. This is not to say that I have not judged people based on what they’ve posted. I’ve seen alarming pictures or slightly scandalous pictures and tweets with cursing and have made a mental statement “I will never post something like this”. But you know what, on a practical level, I’ve decided to drop the social media policing and judging. There is no reason for me to have some kind of a say in what other people are posting. There is nothing about me that entitles me to have an opinion on you or what is okay for you to post about.

I closely examined my social media. And here’s what I came up with. I adore what I do (journalism, dance team, greek life, daughter and sister, youth group). I adore my friends. Old and new. My friends from home made me who I am, and they ALL in some way shaped or formed my character and changed me in some way. Every single one of them. I hope, no matter where they are right now, that they all know that. And my new friends? I have found some that I think will be with me for awhile, but probably forever (Bridget, Reagan, Lydia.. that’s y’all). They are the reflection of the future, and that is so exciting. My social media is a reflection of this. It’s a reflection of me wanting to capture all of my moments with these people that I love. No matter if in these next 4 years, my pictures are with the same 4 people doing the same exact things, I’m happy, and who cares. My hope is that I too will be happy for all of you. That I will see what you post and know that you are living your life and doing what makes YOU happy, and that that is enough for me as a loyal follower. (See what I did there). Happy Thursday everyone, and I hope to see all of the fun weekend activities ALL OVER my timelines.

A Post Everyone Will Truly Enjoy and Relate to: Reasons You Shouldn’t Read Your Mom’s Blog:

I think we all have established the plain fact that, the generation above us, and by this I mean the current parent generation and older, have generally not mastered the use of technology and media as much as the younger generation. A recurring tweet I see on Twitter is the old “NO MOM, YOU CANNOT ZOOM IN ON INSTAGRAM”. We know this is true, and we definitely have fun making pokes at our parents for it. But what happens when they finally DO learn to navigate websites and social media? My mom has always said throughout my short life that there needs to be a new “manners book” sitting on every house coffee table. It would be an updated book, about how to be a civilized and polite user of social media and the web. Instead of “keep your elbows off the table”, it might have more of a focus on “keep your feelings and passive aggressive stabs at people off of your status update”. Wouldn’t that be so nice? If we finally called to the surface all of these newfound problems we encounter in the technological generation? Our parents claim that they were raised with such higher standards, better manners. They could actually ask someone out on a date in person, eye to eye. They shook people’s hands, and addressed personal problems face to face. Maybe they were better behaved overall. But is it possible that with the new technology and instant access to the public and more specifically, their social circles, do our parents’ manners translate to technology/social media/communication of today? We probably do need a new manners book. Maybe I’ll write it in the next couple of years. But let’s start on a smaller scale…

Today, I got a frightened and alarmed text from a dear friend back home, insisting that I sprint to my Facebook app so I can read my mother’s latest blog entry. At first, I replied “Oh lord. I haven’t read her latest one yet!” to which my friend replied, “No like. Gracie. I’m not kidding, you need to read it now.” Dismayed, I pulled my phone out of my backpack pocket and proceeded to nearly run into the entire campus population as I stared down at my phone and weaved my way to my dorm room. “OH DEAR GOD” was my reaction when I realized that my newly blog-happy mother had written (and included a selfie.. truly the cherry on top!) a post about some intimacy, uhm, repercussions she faced the next day thanks to my father. Reason 1 why you shouldn’t read your mom’s blog. Like. Ever.

Another reason I face personally, lies in the FACT that everything I now say or relay to my mother becomes this gift to her; clay, if you will, that she can mold into something funny or somehow spin to make sound more ridiculous or humorous than it was. I absolutely love checking her blog and learning things I never said or did! It is truly an exciting part of my day that I anxiously await for. Before my mom discovered her passion for blogging, she would write an annual Christmas letter that was a yearly update of the Blanchard family. Every child in our family would have a separate paragraph in which she would humorously update our family and friends about the happenings of our lives in the past year. This was bearable, even though all Blanchard children became sure to hold our tongues and watched what we said in did starting around mid October, for we knew our laughter hungry mother was on the lookout for stories to exaggerate. Now, with this new hobby of hers, everything/always/24/7 is fair game! It’s honestly great.

I could think of more reasons to not read your mother’s blog, but I think I’ve hit my main points. Ultimately, I am glad that my mom has taken up yet another hobby so that maybe she will be more balanced with her tennis life (don’t get any Blanchard child started), and it makes me feel better to know that with the lack of my presence that I’m sure my mom is suffering inconsolably, she can use her energy that she would normally throw into lectures to me, into her blog. But mom, there are two things I want you to remember when you’re surfing and utilizing the amazing technology of the modern world: 1. Spare us all the details. and 2. You just absolutely cannot zoom in on Instagram.photo.PNG