Food for Thought, by Karenne Koessler

Being born in a third world country opens your eyes in ways the first world doesn’t. I believe in the value food. A meal may seem like a common part of your day here in the states, but in the Dominican Republic, every piece of food is a reason to be thankful.

My mother worked as an adoption lawyer during my early childhood. She always took my sister and I along on trips to meet with parents looking to offer their kids a better life. I was about six years old when I met Patricia, a girl my age, who was getting ready to move across the ocean to meet her new mother. I walked up to her while she played in the dirt. Keeping herself entertained with sticks and rocks. She smiled at me and invited me to join her. Her clothes may have been ripped, and she may not have remembered when her last meal was, but still, she smiled.

After a few hours of conversation and review, my mom finalized the adoption and Patricia, with nothing but the clothes on her back, hopped in the car, waved goodbye to her father, and drove back to the capital with us. That afternoon she feasted, after filling her plate with my family’s home cooking, she cleared every bit of mofongo, rice, beans, chicken, carne de res, and yucca off of it. Patricia thanked my mother and grandparents, for allowing her the blessing of her first healthy meal and for welcoming her into their home, she also made sure to ask for seconds.

I never leave food on my plate. I rarely toss out portions of a meal, and I never take my health for granted. We didn’t always have a full fridge, and the food wasn’t always rich in flavor, but a meal was better than none, and my sister and parents and I, all learned that lesson at a very young age.

I cringe at the sight of food in the garbage.

I always try to encourage my friends to serve themselves a realistic portion and empty their plates. My leftovers will never reach someone impoverished across the ocean, but it might make the homeless man down the street smile. I understand the pain of hunger and I, more than anything, respect those who are not as fortunate as I. I strongly believe no one has the right to dispose of a meal. I’m not sure if I’ve grown stubborn because of my family’s constant reminders to always clear my plate, but I know that there is someone out there who would do anything to eat the food I carelessly tossed out.

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koessler-photoKarenne was born in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, and almost immediately migrated across the globe.  In 2005, she and her family moved from their hometown i Nancy, France, to Miami, Florida. She is currently a double major at TCU studying mechanical engineering and writing.

I Believe in the Power of the AHA, by Mikaela Miller

The patient sat on a piece of plywood resting on two school desks, hand exposed through sterile blue sheeting. The surgeon leaned over, allowing the sunlight streaming through the barred window to be his guide as he carefully pulled a scalpel through the skin around the man’s knuckle. The man stared calmly off into the light, willing his stomach to settle, but there was a certain look of relief and thrill in his eyes. Today was the day that a piece of shrapnel that had made its home inside his thumb for 8 years would finally be removed. There was a resounding ding as the sliver hit the bucket, and the man glanced down and expelled a sigh.

Fast forward a few hours and we are packing up for the day, passing boxes of prescriptions, glasses, and linens towards the bus assembly line style. The man reappears, a huge grin consuming his face despite the pain that is slowly overcoming him from the fading anesthesia. “Gracias, gracias” are the words falling, falling from his mouth when the ‘aha!’ moment strikes.

This is what I want to do. This is who I want to forever serve.

For a girl that had dreamed of doing anything but medicine, this was a huge revelation. It came exactly two weeks before I checked “Biology — Pre-Med” on my first college application, and long after that life-changing trip, I am still wearing the pre-med badge and dreaming of the day that I can return and be the life-changer.

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TIB Mikaela Miller

Mikaela Miller is a junior Biology major, minoring in Mathematics and Chemistry, on the Pre-Medicine track. Originally from Chandler, Arizona with roots in Seattle, Washington and a new home in Fort Worth, Texas, she hopes to find a little piece of “home” across the nations through travel and medical mission work. 

 

I Believe in Gratitude, by Rev. Angela Kaufman

I am one of those people….the person with the “life is good” sticker on the back of her car, the one who’s coffee mug says “half full” and who’s currently wearing a shirt that says “happy camper”. I’m the one who sings the “rise and shine “ song from church camp first thing in the morning – much to the chagrin of my wonderful not-so-morning person husband and my half-asleep kids. I’m the person who in our house reminds us before meals to offer up one thing we’re thankful for from the day, and the one who even on my crankiest, most exasperated, most frustrating days finds myself most days hitting my “reboot button”.  I’m like this on the outside because on the inside I believe in gratitude.  I believe in gratitude not because life is always easy or good, but rather because in fact life is often difficult, hard, and even exhausting….and yet is beautiful nonetheless.

This belief was made very real to me at a young age as I grew up with both the “beautiful and the messiness of life” in my own house. One on hand, I was the product of one hard-working, steadfast parent who taught me by example the virtues of commitment and responsibility, faith and friendship. My dad taught me how to fix my own car and just about anything else, how to value a life of learning and appreciate a good book, and most importantly what it meant to live a life committed to God and to the church. But the other side of the coin was very different, and through the anger and volatility of my mom I gained a different set of life-skills.  I learned as a youth how to quietly sneak out the house at night to find peace, how to make friends with people who had spare couches and how to navigate the landmines of an unstable parent. I learned like many others do, how to talk around public conversations that would reveal that I lived with someone whose illness robbed her of her mind and whose anger shut the door to her heart. And while it’s made for a difficult story in certain chapters, that rocky path taught me that life can be just as beautiful in the valley as in the mountains. It showed me how to give thanks on the days when it rains as well as those when the sun shines.

One of my favorite bloggers once said, “a crisis shakes things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most.” For me, what’s left when the crisis, the loss or the grief of our lives has taken hold and shook everything else off? Gratitude. Gratitude for a God who loves us as beautiful and worthy people filled with promise. Gratitude for family and friends who help us live life with humor, love, grace and second chances. Gratitude for the chance to start each morning anew.  I believe in gratitude, and that deep, authentic, sincere gratitude is the product of an imperfect, messy, and beautiful life. It’s birthed out of hope and from it comes joy, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a mobilizer. It calls us not just to sit still and admire the view, but to realize that with every new morning comes the responsibility to care for others, to serve a world in need and give thanks to a God who loves us and reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And with that in mind, nothing can keep me from singing, even if it is early in the morning.

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angela-kaufmanRev. Angela Kaufman serves as the Minister to the University and more recently also as the University’s Church Relations Officer, supporting connections between the church and the campus. She received her bachelors from TCU and her Masters of Divinity from the University of Chicago. Angie has been or is currently active on the boards of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, National Assoc. of College & University Chaplains, University of Chicago Disciples Divinity House, the TCU Wesley Foundation and the General Board for the church.  She is the lucky other-half to her wonderful partner in crime and IT genius Jack and co-parent to two amazing, adventurous boys and a husky-shepherd mix named Bailey.

I Believe in the Power of the Human Spirit, by Rev. Trey Flowers

In January of 2010 I went on my first-ever mission trip. Our church group traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, not having any idea that four days into our trip one of the most devastating earthquakes in history would take its toll. Had the earthquake struck five minutes sooner or five minutes later instead of while we were in the car, everyone in our group would have been counted among the more than 200,000 lives that were lost that day. Never have I seen so much destruction and so much loss as amidst those crumbled buildings over the next few days.

There’s a story in I Kings that seemed quite random for me until that day. The prophet Elijah was out in the wilderness, and suddenly a great earthquake shook the ground. However, the scripture tells us that God was not in the earthquake itself but rather in the “sound of sheer silence” that followed. That story seems random no more, for while God was not in the violence of the earthquake in Haiti, I believe so strongly that I saw God’s presence in the human response during the following days. The power of the human spirit triumphed over an unexplainable, unspeakable tragedy. Even in the following days when we had no food, no water  and no shelter, the people of Haiti opened their hearts and homes to us. I’ll never forget the Haitian stranger who shared the last of his food with our group when we had nothing else to eat. In the strangeness of that first night after the earthquake when we slept outside with nowhere else to go, our cries of fear were silenced by the Haitian men and women joyfully singing old hymns in a language we scarcely knew – but still fully understood. Despite living in poverty, the Haitian people showed me that when put to the test, the power of the human spirit brings light into the darkness – if only we will let it shine through.

I believe that each one of us is created in the image of God, which means that – even in the people we can’t get along with – our ultimate responsibility is to find the presence of God in our neighbor. Our daily question is whether we choose to harness the power of the human spirit to see what God sees in other people. On the darkest of days, my memories of the Haitian people are consistent reminders that hope always wins out whenever the true power of the human spirit is unleashed.

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Rev. Trey Flowers is the Minister of Youth and The Bridge at Woodmont Christian Church in NashvGA TIB Book Trey Flowersille, Tennessee.  He is a 2007 graduate of TCU, where he majored in Religion and Political Science.  Rev. Flowers also received a Master of Divinity and Master of Public Policy from Vanderbilt University.  He is married to Merillat Flowers (TCU class of 2010) and named their dog “Beasley” after the TCU religion building

I believe in Servitude

Author: Alex Nied, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in servitude.

How do you define a great person? Is it by their education, wealth, power or maybe accomplishments? I believe that in order to be great one must be a servant to others. Martin Luther King Jr. said that everyone can be great because everyone has the ability to serve.

I had the opportunity to work with women in the RISE program this summer. These ladies have 3 or more felony counts of prostitution against them. They chose to enter the program rather than going to prison and are now healing from year’s worth of psychological and physical damage with the help of therapy, group classes and service. I understood my job to be helping them, but it turns out they became my teachers. I was getting the most out of the relationship – not the other way around. These women have lost everything – their families, jobs, privileges, even themselves – and yet they continue to love and serve with their entire beings. MLK also said all you need to serve is a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. The RISE ladies revealed to me the importance of serving others. They taught me that service is a privilege and if you are able – you must serve. The feeling of helping someone and receiving no fame for that service – is the ultimate reward we will ever attain. The women continually reminded me that when they lost themselves in the service of others that is truly when they found themselves.

I believe that service to others is a privilege and a path to greatness. We don’t have to have everything figured out to serve. There is no college degree or manual for servitude, all we need is a heart full of grace. As the author of 1st Peter says, everyone should use their gifts to serve others in order to administer God’s grace. So ask yourself, what have you done for the service of others lately?