How to Succeed in College

How to Succeed in College

As summer ebbs into cooler evenings, I braced myself for the seasonal change. Not only were pumpkin spice lattes on their way, but also were students heading back to school. I watched as my social media erupted with reuniting friends, cute dorm room pictures, and growing anticipation for the school year.

This season hits hard for us recent grads, and it makes us look back on those years that flashed by like a dream. So, after contemplating my four and a half years of school, I’d like to share with you just 3 essentials to having a successful college life whether you’re starting a new year like a veteran, or entering for the first time like a starry-eyed tourist.

1. Don’t Stress

The easiest college trap to fall into is the stressful one. I noticed a pattern: whether it’s the beginning, middle, or end of the semester you will hear this statement, “Well, it’s that time of the semester.” The phrase acts as an excuse to be stressed but the truth is, you will never get away from “that time.”

Yes, classes can be difficult, projects will all be due at the same time, and some tests will have more weight than others. You may be in several clubs that have events coming up, but you can choose to deal with all of the above with readiness or let it collapse on you like a ton of bricks.

How do you stay away from stress? Follow these rules religiously:

Pray, prepare, sleep, and trust God through the results.

2. Get involved

Nothing sucks the life out of college than doing nothing but going to class. Go to an event even if you don’t have anyone to go with. Find a club that you can be passionate about. My freshman year, I immediately auditioned for both the play and the glee club, where I could use my passion for performing. I met my closest friends the more I got involved.

If you’re not just starting out, maybe you could apply for a leadership position like RA (resident assistant) ,or president of a club, or mentor for incoming freshmen. All of these will help establish connections and help shape your level of responsibility as well as provide an outlet for creativity.

These are memories you will need to hold onto once you graduate.

3. Spend time with Jesus

This is the most essential because your relationship with Jesus influences every aspect of your life. College is where I had to take my faith into my own hands and hang on for dear life. Whether you’re at a Christian college or not, you are now an independent Christian and that means pursuing it for you and only you.

God uses college to test you in many ways. You will do a lot of growing during this time. Many college students pull away from the God they grew up knowing. I want to encourage you to take the time to grow closer to God. College will come and go, but He will be your constant.

Savor the independence, adhere to the call of responsibility, stand firm in your faith, discover who you are, and enjoy!

Did you takeaway anything different from your time in college? If you’re in school, what has worked for you? Please share in a comment!

God bless!

-LJM

James 4:8

 

Never Forget: Eclipse 2017

Never Forget: Eclipse 2017

The hype leading up to the total eclipse on August 21st didn’t really phase me.

Until the hour came.

Suddenly, the phenomenon that had everyone talking became real. Through foil lens, I saw a black disc push its way between me and the sun. As I began to grasp the significance of this event, a flame of excitement finally ignited.

My family and I staggered around our backyard staring up at the sky in glasses that surround you in darkness. We fumbled with cameras trying to capture an image that can only be appreciated if you experience it for yourself. It felt like the quickest sunset ever as the sky grew dim to dusk in a matter of seconds.

Then it happened.

I ripped off my glasses along with hundreds of thousands of people to see the majesty. Surrounding that same black disc was a light so white that I thought I was looking at a ring of angels holding hands. Knowing that so many people were sharing a speechless moment made me think of Revelation 1:7

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him — even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.

When the sun peeked out from behind the moon, the first ray of light was so brilliant I had to look away. They call it “the diamond ring.” It couldn’t be more appropriate of a name because when I think of a diamond ring as big as the sun, I think of how God has given us the largest engagement ring in the universe and one day, the church will be his bride (Revelation 19:7-9).

It’s mindboggling to realize how we have no control over such an event. I read someone refer to us as simply “onlookers.” When it comes to God’s power, we are only onlookers, reveling in the wonders of God’s creation.

The change in my attitude towards the eclipse reminded me of an important lesson. I felt like doubting Thomas as I underestimated the eclipse until seeing it for myself.

Circumstances/events in our lives come and go, sometimes with warning and sometimes without. The fact is, we should be ready for anything God brings to us, whether it be times of blessing or times of disaster. Everything happens so we can see The Chief at work.

I’ll admit, these takeaways didn’t come to me until after the awe of the moment. But I want to treasure this experience so that I won’t be forgetful like the Israelites in the Bible, who saw miracle after miracle and still turned away.

I hope that you were just as impressed by our once in a lifetime event…until 2024 at least. Comment on what the eclipse meant for you; I would love to hear your experience.

God bless!

-LJM

Psalm 19:1

PS. Don’t forget to check out my pictures of the eclipse on Instagram- @leahjordanmeahl

 

 

Walking in the Cemetery

Walking in the Cemetery

The other day I was reading my devotional, Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado before going to work. Under a list of bullet points I was surprised to read “Make major decisions in a cemetery.”

I had to reread that line a couple times. It seemed so random and not flowing with the other ideas, but I pondered it nonetheless. I decided that my next morning walk would be at a cemetery not far from my house.

The morning was slightly cooler than it’s been the past blazing week. I pulled into the cemetery and instead of being surrounded by headstones, I was surrounded by bouquets of flowers. Most of the grave markers are set flush to the ground so you have to practically be standing over top them to read them.

If you ever need a reality check, the cemetery is a good place to go. Especially when you see the markers of children who didn’t even make it to 5 or 10 years old.

069
Visiting Uncle Skipper (2014)

My Uncle “Skipper” died of leukemia when he was 9 years old. He was my first real understanding of death, which is odd because I never met him. Even now I feel a strange connection with him and the knowledge of his brief but precious life.

 

In a cemetery you are very aware of lives that have come to an end and no matter what age, they’re always gone too soon. So, here are some thoughts I had while sitting on a cold stone bench overlooking the resting memorials.

If we could check off everything on our bucket list, would we feel like it was a life well spent? If we landed that dream job, married the love of our life, had the perfect number of children, and could afford a lake house for retirement, is that a successful life?

I gotta be honest, sometimes I feel like if I don’t achieve any of those things, I’ll have wasted my life. But a passage keeps coming to my mind.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”  ∼Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

In life, we are constantly bombarded with planning our future and making goals for everything we want to do while we’re still on this earth. Whenever someone close to us passes away, we are reminded that life is short and we should always live as if it’s our last day. While all of that is true and blanketed with good intentions, it’s easy to fall into making each day about us.

As Christians, the fact of the matter is time is short.

Time is short to represent Jesus.

Time is short to do His will.

Time is short to celebrate His name in thankfulness.

I was listening to an online sermon by Todd White (worth looking up here) and he made it abundantly clear that we might be the only Jesus people see. We might be the only Bible people read. What are we doing about it? Are we really making good use of our time as servants of Christ? That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?

The Bible consistently reminds us of our selfish nature, but thankfully, it also gives us a better alternative to living. If we could just peel our selfishness away and focus on living for God and for others (Lk 10:27), there will be no greater achievement on earth as it is in heaven.

20427146_10156425850243502_365427767_o

This epitaph inspired me because I realized I would rather be remembered by walking out the fruits of the Spirit than how many books I publish or performances I give. The fruits of the Spirit are evidence of God in our life so you better believe I want people to see them. They’re found here in Galatians 5 if you want to know what they are.

Let me leave you with a few ideas on how you can reveal the love of Jesus in your daily life:

  • Generously tip all of your servers (not just the deserving ones)
  • Leave notes of encouragement
  • Don’t complain about work
  • Learn peoples’ names (everyone likes to hear their name)

If you have any other ideas on how you like to represent Jesus, leave a comment so we all can learn from each other!

The next time you find yourself in the cemetery, remember the advice from my devotional: “make a major decision” to walk in the light of Jesus, bearing His fruit so the world can pick it from your branches.

God bless!

-LJM

P.S. Daytime walks in the cemetery are far less scary than nighttime walks.

Heavy and Happy

Heavy and Happy

Being heavier than most of my friends has never been fun. The earliest I started paying attention to a scale was twelve years old, not that it did me much good as the numbers increased significantly over the years.

I feel like I’ve been trying to lose weight my whole life. Sometimes I’m successful and the other 99% of the time I hate myself.

The fact of the matter is, it’s just as miserable trying to lose weight as it is to gain weight. The only bright side is when you finally do see the pounds off but it’s only for as long as you can maintain a strict lifestyle.

Why am I saying all of this, sounding like such a Debbie Downer? It’s not out of self-pity (okay, maybe a little) and it’s not a cry for sympathy. The point is, you can’t be happy and heavy at the same time.

Before I lose you, let me clarify what you can be:

Heavy and content.

Heavy and joyful.

Heavy and thriving.

You see, being happy is an emotion only dependent on outside circumstances. If I have a good job, if I’m with the love of my life, if I look good, then I’ll be happy. As soon as our outside circumstances are negative or if they don’t go as planned, then it’s harder to be happy.

But being content is about being at peace in the moment. It means loving yourself if you’re 10 pounds overweight or 100. Losing 20, 30, 40 pounds will never be enough. Learn to celebrate your imperfections now, knowing that you will always have something you want to change. The reality is, a mess of even more flaws is heading our way. It’s called getting older.

Being joyful is a heart condition. You can change the outside all you want, but the real change in your life comes from a change of heart. Jesus warns those of us who are focused on cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside is still full of junk (Luke 11:39). Our relationship with God and with people defines us more than the numbers on the scale.

Finally, you can still thrive as a plus-sized individual. Don’t let the negative perspective on double chins, belly rolls, and love handles determine what you can and cannot do or what you can and cannot have. You can still find a significant other who thinks you’re sexy, you can still be successful in your pursuits, and you can still be used by God.

Am I saying you should give up on trying to obtain that beach body? Or reach your goal weight? No, because I’m not going to give up. We should always strive to be healthier because we’re God’s temple and we want to serve Him to the best of our ability.

Remember what’s important, don’t be ruled by the fat stigma or the scale digits, and don’t let the doubts about your value steal what’s true. God’s mirror reflects His perfect child. His love is the reason we have an identity in the first place, and we have enough of the world against us to turn on ourselves too.

Join me as I look in the mirror and step on the scale remembering:

To celebrate the parts of my body I wish were different.

To clean the nasty parts of my heart.

To never give up on my goals.

So go out, my friends, live life and let the weight just be something you carry along for the ride.

God bless!
-LJM

I AM Enough

I AM Enough

By Leah Jordan Meahl

 

Life is wavering water,

Uncontrolled is how she behaves,

But I AM enough.

 

Endlessly moving,

Yet forever enslaved,

Life is wavering water

 

Though the raging sea may capture,

And send treasures to their graves,

I AM enough.

 

In anger she devours,

But for the thirsty, she saves,

Life is wavering water

 

The horizon beckons her dangerous journey,

And if you can’t be brave,

I AM enough.

 

Rolls began as ripples,

They’re moments I forgave.

Life is wavering water,

But I AM enough.

 

-LJM

Psalm 16:5-11

Post Grad Life: The Selfish Six

Post Grad Life: The Selfish Six

Six months. I’ve been out of school for six months. It’s hard to believe that life in school is now a memory and I can actually use the phrase “when I was in college.”

Anyway, my first six months have been successful in my book because I have 2 part-time jobs, a consistent writing schedule, and several exciting opportunities on the horizon.

So, why is it when someone asks me, “how’s post-grad life?” I roll my eyes and groan like it’s been torture?

I covered that feeling in my last ‘post-grad’ blog here, and it’s still a work in progress. Millennials call it ‘Adulting.’ The word itself shows just how difficult it is for our kind to cross over to the adult side of life.

I promise for those of you who are concerned, it has been a great six months! That being said, here is something that has been on my mind in regard to my life right now.

From the moment I graduated, I have become increasingly selfish. It’s not a strange concept, we all deal with it, but I have definitely noticed it more now. The world has trained us in the way we should go after college: apartment, marriage, grad school, job in your field, etc. Taking all these things into account, I’m justified to make life all about me.

Right?

When will I be able to move into an apartment? Am I putting enough money away for student loans? What can I do to enjoy my life while I’m single?

These are just some of the topics that go through my mind every day. I know that we have to make decisions in our life to help move it forward. But there comes a point when post-college life is wrapped up in everything I want and everything I need. As a result, do you know what falls through the cracks?

My relationship with God.

I say that God has a plan for me, that He will direct my steps, but once I graduated, I hit the ground running, scurrying around trying not to lose my mind in reality. Suddenly, the race started, and I must run like the wind to feel like I am doing something worth reporting to the world.

As much as I trust God with the path of my life, I am far too obsessed with trying to make it a good one for me. I should be more concerned with everything that God wants for me and everything God needs me to do while I’m here on this earth. That’s easier said than done, but I need to be reminded of that fact constantly or else I will never be satisfied with what I can get out of life.

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ∼Ephesians 4:1

More than likely, God is going to completely change the direction of my path, which is scary. And He is going to make things happen according to His timing, which is frustrating.

What I would like to encourage is that you “post-gradders” keep God first. Jesus is the most important aspect of our lives and what’s great is that he covers all the other aspects.

What I love about Him is that He is my Chief Constant. No matter what changes in my life (school, job, relationship, home), Jesus is by my side.
Because He’s there, I need to treat Him like He is all those things to me.

Make Him first.

Keep Him first.

And the best is yet to come.

God Bless!

-LJM

 

Quicksand

Quicksand

A warning:

 

A castle made out of sand,

With a moat surrounding,

Is only a majestic imitation.

 

When you’re wandering lost,

Alone and afraid,

You never see a mirage of sand.

 

The desert grains outnumber the water,

Its dunes tower over the sea,

But it’s so easily pulled into the deep

 

A chalice of glass,

Birthed from fire’s caress,

Only returns to shattered pieces.

 

Do you not realize

The pyramids were not made

From the ground on which they sit?

 

Or don’t you know

The tide

Will always claw at the beaches?

 

And ordinary fingers

Sculpt slow

But swiftly destroy?

 

How then can we treasure

The dry course river,

Or trust the sands that slip through the hourglass?

 

They will forever betray.

 

-LJM

Matthew 7:24-27