Daily Prompt – Thank God, Hallelujah!

Prompt: “You get some incredibly, amazingly, wonderfully fantastic news. What’s the first thing you do?”

My first ideation was to dedicate an entire post to a description of my happy dance, a series of gyrating seizure-like movements that loudly broadcast my jubilee, but I doubt my readers would be too interested – although they should be. It’s a class act spectacle, really.

This post is actually intended to be on more of a serious note. When reading this prompt, the phrase “wonderfully fantastic news” automatically linked me to the thought of getting my first college acceptance letter (hopefully happening in the near future). This may not be applicable to all readers, but make the prompt relate personally – your boss informs you of a raise, a pregnancy test reveals itself positive, Annie reminds you the sun will come out tomorrow – whatever would plaster a smile on your face. Now what do you do?

When I have the pleasure of experiencing such an occurrence, I have to thank my God first and foremost. “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17) and I am obligated to “give thanks to the God of Heaven” (Psalm 136:26). I cannot emphasize enough my gratitude for my Savior and all the blessing that occur in my life every day.

Three years ago, my family was very close to having our house foreclosed. The only way to reach economic sufficiency would be to cut cost in unessential areas; it seemed the only resolution was to remove my brother and me from our private Christian school in order to save money on tuition expenses. However, after months of stress and struggling, good news arrived – the company my parents were negotiating with approved the lowering of our monthly mortgage payment, saving both our house and mine and my brother’s education arrangements. God provided not only our monetary needs, but He also protected me spiritually – at that time, if I had transferred to a different school, I have no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I specifically remember praying together as a family, thanking God that our housing situation had been resolved. Now looking back, I also thank Him for protecting me from further negative influences and allowing me to stay at Schaumburg Christian, which ultimately became the location in which I found my Savior nearly a year ago. “God is my refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1), and I pray that the habit of thankfulness to the Provider reoccurs in every instance of receiving good news.

written for The Daily Post, Daily Prompt: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

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Sound Encouragement

“Sometimes in order to rise, we first fall. Take that first step, remember to keep going and finish the journey. This is one of those projects- one of those moments that will either break you or build you. Focus on creating a positive mindset, build that experience, and make something beautiful. With no right or wrong, there’s no pressure.” -Yohannan Lee on Creating Art

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Causes for Homelessness: Choice vs. Inevitable

In the hands of a tattered man are a makeshift cardboard sign stating blatantly, “I am homeless. Any amount will help,” and a drained McDonald’s coffee cup jingling with spare change. According to the National Law Center of Homelessness and Poverty, an estimated 2.3-3.5 million people in America annually experience homelessness. How is such a devastating situation possible in a country that is so economically and socially developed as the United States? There are various reasons for homelessness, all of which fall into two categories: an individual’s choice or an inevitable situation. Both categories have several similarities, but the prologue behind one’s homeless condition is the variable.

The stories of the homeless are greatly diverse; some brought the burden upon themselves due to lack of discernment, whereas others were completely unable to avoid the situation. An example of choice would be a background of substance abuse which resulted in homelessness. The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment conducted a survey and found that 85% of youth-related homelessness cases involved some sort of alcohol or drug dependency. In addition, the National Coalition for the Homeless identified that 38% of homeless adults were a product of alcohol abuse and 26% had a history of drug use. On the other hand, mental and physical disability would pertain to the category of the inevitable – the individual’s impairment rendered him unable to work or function in a normal society, therefore resulting in the unfortunate event of homelessness. A study by Samhsah’s National Mental Health Information Center revealed that 13% of the homeless are physically disabled, 39% have a report of mental health problems, along with 36% who are plagued with other acute or chronic illnesses. Sadly, forms of disabilities like these are often the reason that many United States military veterans find themselves homeless. Abandonment due to family conflict is contingent upon situation – if neglect was caused by one’s unacceptable actions, such as drug/alcohol involvement, unwanted pregnancy, or violent tendencies, then this cause for homelessness falls under the category of choice. Granted, perhaps the authority figure responded incorrectly by abandoning said individual, but the offender is equally to blame. Consequences, including vagrancy, for unjust actions are to be expected. Economic inadequacy is often the cause of homelessness; in the case of innate circumstances, job loss, or underemployment, the events leading up to homelessness would be out of the hands of the individual.

Despite the various scenarios, each individual who finds himself homeless share several qualities. Businessmen and tourists alike avoid eye contact when walking by a beggar on an urban street – regardless of the individual’s background, homelessness is looked down upon in society. No one plans to be homeless, and every person in destitute desires for a solution. Whether one is responsible for the situation or the outcome was unavoidable, any homeless individual is qualified to receive government aid and help from various organizations designed to support the homeless. Temporary and emergency shelter, dietary needs, housing advisement, and even career training and placement assistance is available.

Award winning author Wallace Stegner one said, “Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.” Many with homes, especially those in the United States, cannot comprehend the idea of extreme financial hardship, the effects of starvation, or living with an unrelieved ailment without medical treatment. Current America is often viewed as a land of greed and thanklessness; rather than fighting up the economic ladder, one should consider the impoverished below him in order to truly benefit society.

visit chicagohomeless.orglakeviewpantry.org/charity, volunteermatch.org, or any other volunteer website to get involved in your community and make a difference.

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When One Door Closes, Another Opens – Daily Prompt

When one door closes, another opens.

It’s a cliché statement, but it couldn’t be more true, especially at this point in my life. Senior year is going to fly by, and the next major step of my life will begin: college. I plan to go to Columbia College Chicago and study journalism; writing is my passion, and although I realize that it’s difficult to break into the industry, I’m confident that my work ethic and skill will appeal to employers and I WILL find a job. Despite the number of times I get criticized by my peers and authority figures for my “poor career choice,” I honestly can’t see myself pursuing a different profession.

To refer back to the six words I chose, I understand fully that artist are often rejected by employers, critics, audiences of various sorts, and so on. But when one door closes, another opens – a lost opportunity isn’t a disappointment, but a growing experience. I believe that the key to success in any profession is persistence and motivation; rejection allows one to access their work and correct imperfections in style, which increases one’s skill and probability of employment. In other words, the correct response to denial will always lead to alternative opportunities.

I’m not always the most positive person – I would definitely describe myself as a realist more than anything. However, I find comfort in my ambition. I may be speaking from the stance of a young and inexperienced teenager, but I genuinely believe that one should enjoy the career he chooses. Authorities’ and peers’ opinions may be a factor, money may be the American dream, but the pursuit of happiness is everyone’s ultimate goal. Choose a profession for the experience and personal satisfaction it provides, no matter how difficult the path to success may be. In the future, doors will close for me. But if I react with an appropriate response that builds rather than defeats, I’m confident that new opportunities will show themselves available. 

written for The Daily Post, Daily Prompt: Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other.