Motherly and Fatherly Love, by Derrick Mokaleng

My parents always motivated me to work hard in everything I did, whether it was my schooling or sporting career. We didn’t have a lot of money to live a comfortable life, so this motivated me to work hard to have a better life and brighter future. I believe in the motivation my parents instilled in me.

One of the most important times my parents motivated me was when I had the opportunity to run for student representative council of my high school. I am a very shy person and was nervous about having to speak in front of the whole school. My parents heard about this great opportunity and immediately encouraged me to enter the election. They knew that I was an introvert and very shy. However, in the days leading up to the election, they reminded me of the leadership skills I displayed at home and how my creativity would benefit the school. Thanks to their support, I ended up becoming vice president of the council, which was a turning point in my life.

The most recent and inspirational motivation that my parents gave me was when I was planning to come and study in the USA. They knew that I wanted to study abroad before the end of high school. So, they made such that I had the proper support needed for the dream to become a reality. I especially remember how my mom would always encourage me to work extra hard in my academics, so that I would get credited and accepted to TCU. My dad was the inspiration for my getting into track and field at a young age. He would make time to come and watch me compete. The motivation he constantly gave me to give it my all and strive to be the best I could, helped me become the student-athlete I am today.

This brings me to what I believe. I believe in the special love that my parents have for me. I believe that my parents are my refuge, where I can go for help at any time. They motivated and gave me good advice which resulted in my being elected as vice president of my school council, which gave me much needed confidence. Even though it was tough for them to accept, I received my parents’ unconditional love and support on my dream to study in the USA.

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IAAF World Junior Championships: Day 2Derrick Mokaleng is a 19- year- old student from South Africa.  His parents, Jane and Tsepho, are his daily inspiration.  Even though he shares his parents with his twin sister, they have always loved and motivated them both to achieve their goals and to believe in themselves.

I Believe in God’s Time, by Adriana Arbeláez

I believe in God because he held my hand when my father left me alone. I have had a happy and wonderful life, but when my sister and I were children, my family experimented difficult situations, which made us stronger. Our father left my sister and I when we were born, and our mother lived through difficult times because she had work hard to afford all the expenses that my sister and I had.

My sister and I grew up and my mother gave us all that we needed, but one day everything was dark for us: The money that my mother was earning, was not enough for all our expenses, and we lived difficult times. She worked as a language therapist and in my country, Colombia, that job does not pay well, so when my sister and I finished our high school our mother did not have money to pay the tuition. For that reason, we decided to demand our father for abandoned us when we were children. This situation was difficult because our father is a bad person who does not love us. I remember that one day we received a counter demand from him saying that my sister and I just wanted to steal his money, and in front of a lot of people in the court our father said he hates us and that he said to our mother that it would be better if she had aborted us. Our heart was broken but we heartened ourselves to forget that situation.

But when everything was so dark, one cousin invited me to a Christian Church called Rock House, which is near my house in Colombia. I went with my mom and it was amazing because we felt how God touched our heart through the Minister’s words. My mother and I decided to join the church, and one day, during a praying meeting, we started to cry and I heard the voice of God saying to me that every issue would be solved with our father only if I pray for him every day. I believed God’s words, but I thought it was strange because I hated my father and it was difficult to pray for someone who hates you, but I did it and everything related with the demand was solved. It was a miracle. The lawyer called and told us that our father called her because he had paid all the money. My mother and I cried and prayed for a long time. Since that day I am thankful to God for everything he did. I believe that even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the impeccable love of God is with us, and even when we are trapped in the middle of the storms of this life, we won’t turn back because God is near, he never lets us go.

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a-arbelaez-photoAdriana Arbeláez is studying English in the TCU Intensive English Program.  She is from Bucaramanga, Colombia.  She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and corporate communications from the Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga.

I believe in white lies, by Ka Yan Wong

I believe in white lies.

My aunt died on September 28,2016 because of the liver cancer.  I did not get this news until my brother told me secretly. I don’t know why my parents did not tell me the truth. I asked my mom whether my aunt felt better, and she always gave me the same answer that was “yes”. After I realized why my parents did not want to tell me, I didn’t mention about my aunt death in front of them anymore. I knew my dad really took care of my aunt because my aunt was his youngest sister.

My aunt was a diligent person who worked day and night. She did lots of part-time jobs no matter how hard they were. Because of her carelessness, her health became worse and worse. In 2015, she was told that she got the liver cancer. I had never seen her cry. In my mind, she always was an optimistic person. Although I was not closed with my aunt, I still loved her and missed her. Maybe my parents didn’t want me to worry about this during my busy work, so they decided not to tell me the truth.

My grandma also did not know about her daughter’s death. My grandma health was also not good, so she could not get any bad stimulation. My parents and my brothers did not want my grandma to suffer such a huge depression, so they chose to not telling the truth to her too. I hope this white lie can conceal the truth for my grandma forever. I know this is kind of cruel, but in order to let our grandma recover soon, I think what my family has done is right.

Although the truth is always believable, telling a lie is better than telling the truth sometimes. It is no denying that no one wants their beloved to get hurt or depression. Everyone wants their family and friends to be happy. I know it is hard to tell the truth in some situations, and some people will choose to tell a white lie in stand of the truth because they think this can prevent their beloved from getting hurt. As the matter of fact, people who tell the white lie suffers more depressions and sadness; nevertheless, they think what they have done are worthy because they just want to protect their beloved.

Lie is better than truth for some reasons.

I believe in white lies.

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ka-yan-wong-photoKa Yan Wong is an international student who studies at TCU. She is taking an English program now (TCU Intensive English Program). She wants to improve her English skills and learn more about culture from different places. She love to challenge herself. No matter how hard the life is, she will make every effort to achieve her dream. TCU  is where all dreams begin. Just do it, Ka Yan!

More than Meatballs, by Kait Sennott

A familiar smell that I have known since I was little diffuses through the house, seeping into every room. This warm, familiar smell signals it’s time to eat. My grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings are rushing around in the kitchen as they put the final touches on the Swedish meatball dinner we have once a year.

I believe in food. Which may sound weird, but I believe that food brings families together, especially mine.

I first learned to cook and prepare the rigorous Swedish meal after my grandpa died when I was 10. My grandpa was the one who made the gravy to pour over the meatballs, and now it was my turn to carry on the “gravy legacy”. Let me tell you, carrying on this legacy was nothing easy, but with the help of my family, I perfected it. Over the years, my responsibilities grew in the kitchen during meatball night. Once my gravy was perfected, I became in charge of mixing the pork, beef, egg, nutmeg, onion, and allspice. Now that I am 19, I am in charge of most kitchen duties during this time of year because of my dedication to cooking this meal for my family

Swedish meatballs are a lot harder to cook than Italian meatballs because there is no bread holding the meat together thus making it a difficult process. When mixing the meat together, it is crucial that you do not use too much beef because this will make it harder to hold the pork. The egg must be a certain temperature in order to hold the meat and spices together; otherwise the egg will turn into unwanted scrambles.

The gravy, which I eventually perfected, is the hardest because this involves determining the gravy’s thickness. If the gravy is too thick it will become oily and gross, but if it is too thin the gravy will drown into the meatballs, making them slimy. The final step of the meatballs is mixing the sauce and meatballs, and putting them in a large bowl topped with a particular parsley flavor.

I feel that all families would agree that food brings families together. Of course each family member is very different, but in between the dishes, laughter, and lack of leftovers, the food acts as a distraction from all these differences that would usually set people apart. One of the reasons I love meatball night so much is because it is one of the only nights, besides Christmas, that I see my family. My family, unfortunately, has grown apart due to distance and death. Meatballs are what bring us together.

My favorite meatball night so far is the one we had before I left for school because the new baby cousins ate with us for their first meatball night ever. Watching a new generation grow up with the meatball tradition gives me hope that this valuable tradition will continue for many years after I am gone.

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Kait is a sophomore at TCU majoring in business and fashion merchandising. Both of her parents were journalists, so writing has become one of her favorite hobbies throughout the years. She hopes to continue her love for writing and bring it into a career.

I Believe in Kindness, by Tobi Carter

I believe in kindness.

I went to visit my grandfather the week before he died, not realizing that he was about to pass away. I knew he had stage 4 lung cancer and I knew he was fighting hard. But no one ever knows when someone else is going to pass away.

It was one of those days that cancer patients look forward to – a day where he got out of bed. We went for a slow walk around his neighborhood so he could get some fresh air. I’m not the closest to my grandfather but he always taught me kindness, even through his actions.

We were walking down the street when a car zoomed by and, like a scene from the movies, splashed water all over my dying grandfather. I expected him to get angry (he was a grouchy old man) but instead, he sighed and said, “Well.”

“Pops?” I asked to make sure he was okay.

Unprompted, he said, “You know, usually I would get mad. But one thing I’ve been taught throughout my time with cancer is niceness. People didn’t realize I was given only three months to live and would get angry at me because I was distracted.”

My grandfather left me alone with my thoughts for a bit until he said, “Always be kind. You never know what people are going through.”

I believe in kindness because you never truly know someone’s story. They could be going through hell but still have a smile on his or her face.

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TIB Tobi Carter

Tobi Carter is a junior journalism major with an anthropology minor. She hopes to work for a publication such as National Geographic. She’s a part of Eta Iota Sigma sorority, TCU 360, the Women’s Club Volleyball Team, and the Adventure Trip Program with TCU. Tobi’s originally from Lewisville, Texas but is happy to make Fort Worth her new home.

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 My Sister’s Jesus, by Rev. Ryan Motter

Just one year before “The Facebook” came to TCU, many students used an online service called “Xanga,” (pronounced Zayn-gah with an inflection of irony and a hint of regret).  Xanga was an “open journal” blogging site, a place where millennial angst could spill out for all to see.  As a Freshman living in Clark Hall, I used Xanga for two reasons: first, so that my mom and sister could have print evidence that I was still alive and, second, so that I did not have to confront social anxiety and make new friends.

Xanga became the space where new ideas related to my major, Religion, played out.  Just a month into school, I wrote: “How do we know that we’re Christian?”  Mid-semester, the words were different:  “What if God is fallible?”  Then, at the start of my second semester, it was just flat out: “I don’t believe in Jesus.  Got no issues with God.  Just Jesus.”

That last one sent my sister, Kate, into a tailspin.  She lashed back with comments about how she didn’t know me and that Jesus believed in me even if I didn’t believe in him.  Back home, the church that I had grown up in, the same one in which Kate was still growing, had descended into terrible conflict.  What had been a source of faithful strength in my youth became, in Kate’s youth, a place where followers of Jesus acted as embittered hypocrites.  For her brother to move from “church camp all-star” to “deserter of the faith,” was betrayal to Kate.  When I stopped attending church at the end of my first semester, that betrayal became real to both of us.

After that, my sister and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on much about Jesus.  As our home church disintegrated, Kate became involved in Young Life.  The Jesus she came to know became vastly different than the Jesus, historical, theological and ethical, that I was coming to know through my coursework.

Slowly, Jesus and I found each other again, for the first time.  In my Junior year, I returned to a church because there was a hole in my heart that nothing else could fill.  I heard sermons from a minister who used both her bible and her brain, and she helped me to know an intimately personal Jesus who had intellectual integrity.  I sang in a church choir that was forgiving of my angst and gentle with my spirit.  My coursework in Religion encouraged me to be less critical and more generous, both to the material and myself.

In the summer after graduating from TCU, Jesus brought Kate and me back together.  She and I began to talk about this man who we had come to know separately.  She practiced the hospitality of Jesus that her Young Life groups instilled in her, and I found the vulnerability of Jesus I’d learned through doubt and grace.

Together we discovered that we believed in each other’s Jesus.  We still do.

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GA TIB BOOK Ryan MotterRev. Ryan Motter, ’07, is a minister at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Smithville, Missouri.  After his time at TCU, Ryan earned his Master of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and was ordained to Christian Ministry.  He and his wife Rev. Suzanne Kerr Motter, ’00, MDIV ‘04, are expecting their first child, a baby girl, in November.  They can’t wait for her to meet their fur child Jeff, a female Yellow Lab Mix named in honor of two of Ryan’s TCU roommates. 

I Believe a Home is More than Just Walls, By Celia Thomason

I believe that a home can be anywhere. By the time I was 12 years old I had already lived in 7 different homes. But what is a home really? The definition of home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. But when I think of the word home, I never think of the permanent residence, instead I think of the people in the home or the memories the walls have seen.

I have many places that I call home: my house in Huntsville, AL; my church in Madison, AL; Camp Lakey Gap at Christmount in Black Mountain, NC; Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX; Camp Hargis (the church camp where I grew up – by the way I was born there too) in Chelsea, AL; and the list can go on until I have listed all the places where the people I love live or where the memories of those people were made.

I believe that a home is all about who is there with you in those places. I think of my home in Huntsville because of my mom, dad and sister. I think of my church because of the people who fill the sanctuary. At Lakey Gap I think of all of the campers and counselors I have met the last three summers. At TCU I think of the people I met in my service organization, my best friend and the people in my Education Program. At Hargis I think of climbing to the cross on senior night with the other graduates or playing pranks on the boys.

I may have lived in over 10 homes in my 22 years but I expect to have well over 1,000 homes by the end of my life because of the people who have or will touch my heart. I will always carry them and that special place with me when I go on to find a new home over the years.

Thank you to all of those people who have made simple walls or spaces more than just concrete  and dry wall.  You have made my heart a traveling home with unlimited space. Because of you I know I can always make a home anywhere.

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GA TIB BOOK Celia ThomasonCelia Thomason will graduate from Texas Christian University in May 2016 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. While at TCU Celia became heavily involved in Alpha Phi Omega, a national community service organization. Celia has also spent the past three summers in Black Mountain, North Carolina at Christmount’s Camp Lakey Gap, a camp for individuals with autism. This summer Celia is working with Disciples Peace Fellowship as a Peace Intern traveling to different CYF conferences around the country.

I Believe in Happiness

Author: Anonymous, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in happiness. I believe that there are so many different ways to be happy. Throughout my life so far there have been significant influences that have made me think this. The three biggest influences are the movie Happy, travel, and my experiences with my family.

I first saw Happy two years ago. This is a documentary focused on looking at people across the world and what makes them happy. As well as looking at how love comes more naturally to humans than war and hate. It was originally extra credit for one of my classes that I was taking at the time. This movie examines how love and compassion come more naturally to people than hate does. It looks at what people in different countries and cultures think make a person happy; as well as, looking at their overall happiness levels. Throughout this movie they look at cultures all around the world, while everyone has their own idea of what will make them happy. This had a significant impact on me because before seeing this movie I always though that violence was a more powerful driving force in the world. However, after Happy I started looking at the world and how I thought about things differently.

The next greatest influence for me was having the opportunity to travel and live in different areas of the world. It is quite evident in other cultures that, while they do not have the resources that we have, they appreciate what they have. The biggest difference that I see between Western culture and many Eastern cultures is that Western cultures puts a greater emphasis on things where as with many Eastern cultures they may live in shack with a few possession but feel like they are very rich because they have family and friends to spend time with. Likewise, it is interesting that in our culture we expect people to be happy all the time. For me seeing how other people in many different cultures have found happiness has helped me develop and learn what makes me happy.

Lastly, I have seen my sister find happiness depression. This is probably the greatest driving force that has shaped my view and understanding of happiness. My sister is younger but for the past few years I have gone through the battle of depression with her and watched her become healthy again and seen her make her own happiness even on her worst days.

These aspects have shaped how I view happiness and how I think about it. While I believe being happy and finding happiness is important I also realize that being happy all the time is impractical.  I believe that being happy is important because if someone cannot find things in their life that makes them happy and enjoy life then that makes life more difficult, as I have experienced with my sister. For me what is important is finding what makes you happy no matter what our resources or life circumstance is.

 

I Believe in Accepting Our Fears and Challenging Them

Author: Hannah Canterbury, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I have many fears; some are “trivial”, like the fear of butterflies, that was instilled in me in kindergarten. There are many fears though, that exist in me every day, that guide my day to day decisions and impact the thoughts and stresses that I deal with. Not that the fear of butterflies hasn’t had me stressed in my situations. There have been bigger fears in my life. The fear of not getting into college, failing out of college, failing my parents, failing as a friend, failing at my future profession, failing to be a “good” Christian, becoming what others predicted for me. These are the fears that have changed my life and gave guided me in choosing my goals and aspirations.

I believe in accepting and facing these fears because personally they have been rooted in expectations others have had of me. For example, growing up in a home with two parents dealing with addictions I was constantly fed with the statement that “I too will deal with this disease”, or “I have to be extremely careful because I will probably end up the same”. These statements haunted me and instilled fear in me, but also gave me something to strive for. To overcome the expectations and live a life better than anyone could have ever predicted.

The google definition of fear is this:

  1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat:

People’s limiting expectations of me, cause pain and are a threat to my ability to create my own future that isn’t predetermined, this is exactly fear; But it has been such a fruitful fear. Fear has ignited a drive, and passion to overcome some of my greatest obstacles. Choosing to the fight rather than flight, which is so often a difficult choice when faced with the possibility of failure, danger and pain, has allowed me to fulfill my own life path and challenge the ones that people have set before me. I accept every day that I have fears to face and when I challenge them and overcome them I am empowered continue in making my own life path.