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 Grace, by Rev. Micah James

As an administrator, I see things through the lens of management. I see things through charts and graphs. I see things in tangibles. But there is one thing that I cannot chart, the gift of grace. I have experienced grace in many moments of my life. It is one of the greatest ways I experience God’s love in this world. I believe in grace.

 “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” – Romans 11:6 ESV

When I entered TCU in 2001, I thought I could earn my way to the top. I thought that I could make my mark by my efforts alone. What I soon discovered is that without the gracious, helpful hands of those around me, I would spend a lot of energy to gain just a little ground.

In my experience at TCU, over and over again, I was offered experiences, opportunities and challenges. I would not be the person I am today without those moments of grace.

From mentors to professors, colleagues and friends, TCU created a space that was full of grace-filled experiences. God has set a path before me and placed loving people along the way. People who showed me that with or without works, I am loved and I am enough.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”
 – Ephesians 2:8-9 NRSV

I experienced these moments as a glimpse of God’s greater love. Grace is something I cannot not explain or quantify. Grace is freely given, over and over. Grace has been freely given to me. I believe in grace.

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GA TIB BOOK Micah JamesRev. Micah James, CCA (TCU Class of 2005 & Brite Divinity Class of 2012) is an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and a Certified Church Administrator. Micah serves on the ministry staff of First Christian Church of Edmond, OK as their Associate Minister to Faith Formation.  Micah is the mom of two adorable kiddos, Oden (3) and Zoey (1). In 2015, Micah will celebrate ten years of marriage to her awesome partner/spouse, Nick James (also a Horned Frog, Class of 2005).

I Believe in the Power of Connection, by Sam Baxter

I believe in the power of connection. Connection is defined as a relationship in which a person or idea is linked to another mutual interest. Growing up as a member of First Christian Church of McKinney and continuing to be actively engaged in the Disciples of Christ denomination I have felt a sense of connection. Starting with my childhood I began loving my church community through my once a week visits to the church nursery, which led to me becoming an active vacation bible school go-er. Growing up I became a leader of the church youth by attending mission trips and serving through youth ministry council throughout my middle school and high school years. During all of these engagements I have felt the support and love from my church family, which taught me what it means to be One Body serving Christ.

During my senior year of high school, when I was searching for a college to attend, I wanted to find a place where I could have the same sense of family and connection at my new home away from home. Being the sixth member of my family to attend TCU, I knew about the Connection Culture TCU had to offer. When I stepped foot on campus for my own tour, I began to understand what the TCU family is all about, and the pride that comes with being a Horned Frog through all the friendly faces on campus. The tight knit community of learners, scholars and friends is what makes Texas Christian University unique, and is what led me to continue my family’s tradition of being a Horned Frog.

When I arrived on campus, I took the sense of connection to heart, and began to learn more about the organizations I had the chance of joining. Not too long after attending welcome events, I easily found my schedule to be filled with an overwhelming amount of activities going on outside of the classroom, but I accomplished my personal goal of becoming as involved and connected as possible. Because of my connectedness on campus, I have been able to love my first two years at TCU. This experience has been much more than simply going to class and reaching for that 4.0 every student desires to have. I have interacted with first year students by serving as an orientation leader, am a member of a social fraternity and connect with future frogs by giving tours on campus. Through these interactions I have met multiple people that have their own story to tell. I am a firm believer that the more connected a person is on campus, the more likely they are going to be engaged in the opportunities and relationships able to be formed with people from all walks of life. The more engaged a person is, the greater the chance that they will feel a sense of purpose, which will lead to them feeling connected to the TCU community. TCU has the ability to challenge each student to become an “ethical leader and responsible citizen” if they take the time to engage in the Connection Culture.

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GA TIB BOOK Sam BaxterSam Baxter is a junior Supply Chain and Business Information Systems double major from McKinney, Texas. He is involved in a variety of things on campus including a fraternity, the BNSF Next Generation Leadership Program, and facilitates a number of programs with the Office of the First Year Experience. Sam has been a member of First Christian Church, McKinney all his life.

I Believe in Growing Your Faith as a Young Adult, by Katherine Wright

I grew up as the ideal church kid, I went to Sunday school almost every Sunday, I attended all the church camps and mission trips, participated in the youth hand bells, and I was a dependable nursery worker. I took advantage of every aspect of the church and eventually found a calling to be a minister. However, soon after I graduated from high school, I felt a change in my church life. I was no longer relating to the youth but I was also uncomfortable sitting in the “adult” Sunday school class alongside my parents. I felt lost in one of the most familiar spaces I knew – so much that people were surprised to see me around.

Soon after coming to TCU, I found that there were so many different ways to live out my faith. While I am guilty of going to my roots and joining the Disciples of Christ group on campus, there were so many options for college students to grow their faith. There were opportunities to feed the homeless, mentor, worship, serve, learn, love, grow, and find your place and passion.

I believe in young adults’ faithfulness. I believe that they are looking for new ways to grow their faith. I believe that the church can be a place for that faith to grow. I believe that it’s pretty obvious that millennials are the future of the church, so we should begin treating them that way. I believe that the church is the best place for them to grow in their faithfulness in God.

I believe that God is working among the variety of faith groups at TCU. My prayer is that faith may continue to grow among other outlets for more young adults to find a spiritual growth. I believe that in order for your faith to grow, we must begin to look at ourselves as adults with so much potential growth instead of simply missing our past as a youth.  I believe that my experience at TCU has led me to find a passion that will continue throughout my ministry.

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GA TIB Book Katherine WrightKatherine graduated from TCU with a B.A. in Religion with a minor in Communication Studies and a Women’s Studies Emphasis. Katherine is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from Brite Divinity School at TCU and the Children’s Pastor at New Hope Fellowship (Disciples of Christ) in Fort Worth, TX. Katherine grew up on a family ranch in Melissa, TX where she was involved in her church and was a volunteer firefighter. In her rare free time, Katherine enjoys cheering on the TCU Horned Frogs.

I Believe in the Power of Words, by Rev. Erin Taylor

I believe in the power of words. Words have an incredible way of linking us to one another – whether we are strangers, old friends, or lost loved ones.

On January 25th, 2015, I lost my baby cousin, Philip, in a motorcycle accident while stationed as a Marine at Camp LeJeune. Losing someone I was so close to and who was so young broke my heart in ways I didn’t know were possible. Though Philip was 4 years younger than me, my cousin was one of my closest friends and always made his best effort to help me using his carefree wisdom. Shortly after losing him, I had his favorite saying tattooed on my right foot.

I cannot count the number of times a day that I look down at my foot and see, in his handwriting, “Never give up.”

When I see his words, I first think, “Man! I’m glad I always helped him with his spelling homework!” but shortly after, I think of him saying those three simple words and readily bestowing his carefree wisdom upon me.

When I see his words, I am reminded to always strive to do better, to always seek hope when I feel defeated, and to push through whatever obstacles and challenges I may encounter.

Words have an incredible way of linking us to one another. Words allow us to capture those irreplaceable moments, to keep our memories alive, and remind us to never, ever give up.

I believe in the beautiful power of words.

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GA TIB BOOK Erin TaylorRev. Penelope Erin Taylor is from Lake Charles, LA and is a recent graduate of Brite Divinity School & TCU’s dual M. Div/MSW program. She is a proud Peace Intern alum, is freshly ordained through the Great River Region, and currently serves as the youth minister at FCC Gainesville, TX. In her spare time, she enjoys devoting a ridiculous amount of time to her cocker spaniel, Barney, and drinking a LOT of Diet Coke.

I Believe in the Power of Connectedness, by Dr. Nadia Lahutsky

Because life is hard, I believe in the power of connectedness.  Not connection—suggesting a link between two items or things.  Connectedness, rather, implies multiple connections.  Think of many hubs each with many spokes, each spoke reaching out and making a link to one or more other hubs.

Life is hard.  Don’t let media images of the carefree college student life fool you.  Students today face enormous stresses.  Parents who demand perfection, faculty who seem to increase their work load each day, personal relationships that take more than they return.  And this doesn’t begin to include worry over their own personal stake in the mounting student debt load!

Life is hard.  Take the case of a former student of mine, a young man I’ll call Kyle.  In less than four weeks he went through a lifetime of grief.  He watched his friend and roommate attempt to take his own life; he went back to his hometown for the funeral of a close high school friend; he returned only to endure the death of another friend, this one from campus.  After the first two events, he was in my office to explain his absence from class.  I could offer him a tissue, some schedule relief on an upcoming assignment, and a sympathetic ear.  After he returned to class, I watched as his personal appearance slumped downward and his steps got more plodding.  Two weeks earlier, I would have been more hesitant on this next point than I was, but the time seemed ripe.  I then offered him my prayers and those of others.  I told him that, in fact, I had asked my congregation’s prayers for “my student who is having a hard time.”  This self-described (almost an) atheist nearly swooned in gratitude.  “Thank you.  I need them.”

Life is hard.  I was grateful in this situation for the people at the TCU Counseling Center, capable of doing so much more professionally for Kyle than I could, as well as other staff on campus, many of whom could both be another set of ears and help him maneuver through the bureaucracy in order to get the proper help.

The hubs and spokes are already all around us.  I believe that’s the kind of world God created for us.  Sometimes we’ll be the ones supported in the strong joint created by a spoke and a hub; other times we’ll join with additional hubs and spokes to become the support.

Life is hard.  Don’t let others do it alone.

Life is hard.  Don’t try to do it alone.

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GA TIB BOOK Nadia LahutskyNadia Lahutsky has taught for 34 years in the TCU Religion Department, where she is currently Chair.  A graduate of Hiram College and Vanderbilt University, she is an historian of Christianity, with a special interest in modern Roman Catholicism.  She has been married for nearly 40 years to Edward McMahon, New Testament scholar, and is the proud mother of Jean McMahon, a doctoral student in social psychology.

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 Handwritten Letters, by Rachel Rebagay

Dear Friend,

I know that we live in a world with technology like cell phones, texts, and Skype that allow us to keep in touch almost as quickly as if we were in the same room. I know that if I text you, you’ll reply in a few hours at the most and in a few seconds at best. And I know the power of fast communication. But I also know the power of handwritten letters.

When I met you at summer camp five years ago, I knew I had found a kindred spirit, and I wasn’t going to let that find go to waste. But I also knew that you wouldn’t be just an ordinary friend to me. And extraordinary friends call for extraordinary methods of communication. Maybe even something extra-ordinary like pen and paper.

Being the introvert I am, I found it easier to pour my thoughts and soul into words on a page, envisioning you reading it with a smile on your face. Writing letters made me feel like I would really be listened to. That every word I wrote was important and would somehow be documented for eternity. Writing to you made me think through my own beliefs and problems. And then there were your responses.

Your life filled the pages of those long awaited letters. No matter how much time passed between responses, they brought me infinite amounts of joy and still do. Your personality shone through your wording and handwriting. Just the fact that you took the time to sit down and write was incredible. And not just write, but write to me. And it meant the world.

Thanks to you, my love of writing letters has grown. I can’t tell you the countless people that I’ve been able to touch with my words of gratitude, my words of truth, and my words of comfort. The reactions that I’ve received from other friends whom I write to have been so sweet. Some people feel the need to write me back. Some tell me that it’s the most thoughtful thing that they’ve ever received. I even had a friend hang my letter on the wall next to his high school diploma. Words have power, and that has never been clearer than it is now. Nothing brings me more joy than to bring joy to others, and writing letters is just one of the many ways I can do that.

When we first started writing letters, it was to encourage each other in our faith journeys. Since then, I have adopted some of my favorite words ever written in a letter:

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”- 2 John 13

Until then, I will continue to cherish our friendship using the best tool I know how…letter writing.

All the very best,

Rachel

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GA TIB Book Rachel RebagayRachel Rebagay is a recent graduate from Texas Christian University. Although she majored in Mechanical Engineering, she was heavily involved in the Religious and Spiritual Life at TCU. During her time at TCU, Rachel served on the Leadership Team of Disciples on Campus as well as helped to create the TCU Worship Team, which brings worship events and prayer opportunities to campus. This fall, she will be pursuing her Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University.

I Believe in Love

Author: Bobbi Clemmer, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in love, a sensation that is embedded in the deepest part of our being. I believe love is a variety of different feelings that motivate us to develop relationships that will essentially make us better people. Love is a feeling that in some cases can be indescribable, yet so easy to engage in when the right people fall into your life. I believe love is the most potent of drugs that drives us to do anything for those who we hold dear to our hearts. Whether it is the tender love between a parent and child, a passionate love between a man and woman, or a comforting love between childhood friends, the feelings are all different, yet the same, in that we would do anything for those we love. Under the influence of this powerful emotion, we may find ourselves acting in ways that are un-explainable.

For example, when someone we love is in pain or going through a rough time in their life such as a mother worrying about her troubled son, we seemed to be consumed by that feeling of worry in the pit of our stomach. This is because we want the absolute best for our loved ones because when they are happy, we are happy. I believe relationships are the most important aspect of life. Spiritual and interpersonal relationships have definitely played an enormous part in my own life. Knowing that God is always with me and that my parents are just a phone call away has always been such a comfort even on my lowest days.

I believe love knows no bounds, as cliché as that may sound. Love has the power to overcome grief from the passing of a loved one, depression from past regrets, and even has the power to strike new beginnings though it may seem impossible at times. Love is what binds us together when disaster strikes and is what lifts us up to levels that are otherwise unreachable. I believe love is the dynamic motivation behind every worthy purpose and that in the end, after we have successfully loved here on earth, that God will continue to love us eternally. This I believe.

I Believe in Building Relationships Through Shared Experience (also…netflix)

Author: Abby Smartt, TCU Student, Published Fall 2014

One Tree Hill. New Girl. Friday Night Lights. Orange is the New Black. How I Met Your Mother.

What do these random shows all have in common you might ask. They are on Netflix. My semi-addiction became real when One Tree Hill was added to the website. I was so excited that I decided to watch the whole series all over again. Some might have marked that a waste of my time. Seeing that there are 187 episodes that are 43 minutes each totaling to 8,041 minutes or 134 hours or 5 and half days, I could probably agree that this period of my life was not my most productive. Watching the series sparked a love in me and it continued when I came to college.

During my first semester, my roommate decided she wanted to watch One Tree Hill and I agreed to watch with her, again. After that series, I started watching New Girl with my new boyfriend. Then I moved to Friday Night Lights with my sister. How I Met Your Mother was next with my friend Jackie. Orange is the New Black was last with my mom.

That is a lot of time spent in front of the television. And I do not care how bad people say that is for you because I believe the relationships were built or strengthened because of it.  It doesn’t matter how much we were drooling over Tim Riggins is or why we were laughing at Barney, it doesn’t matter as much about the show as it does the people that it brings into your life.  Netflix brought people in my life and gave us an hour to sit down, take a break, and enjoy each other’s company through something we both enjoyed.

One Tree Hill brought two awkward freshman roommates together. New Girl made a long distance relationship have something to look forward to together every week. Friday Night Lights showed me that my sister spent so many weekends on the couch with me because she felt we had drifted a part. Orange is the New Black made my mom and I a lot more comfortable with each other. And How I Met Your Mother brought two unlikely friends to be roommates.

Relationships, whether personal or professional, help guide our lives. We are made as relational beings. All humans have a desire to connect and be a part of someone else’s life.  People are meant to be with other people. Having that common ground, or shared experience can give family, friends, or strangers an experience they will always share. I believe that some of the best relationships are built in a shared mutual experience. Colleagues connect over the love of their profession, teammates bond over the pride of their team, some bond over food, and I build some of my relationships through Netflix. I believe in the power of building relationships through shared experiences.