Millennial Life, November 2018

Millennial Life, Thankfulness

Thankfulness

Jessica LeBlanc

For many, November is the month selected to celebrate all of the wonderful things we’re thankful for in our lives. Our senses seem to be heightened to the tiny and big blessings that permeate our daily routines. But I want to challenge you to not wait for November to come around every year before you’re conscious of the daily benefits God gives you (Psalm 68:19).

There’s something about being grateful and thankful that has the power to change any situation you’re facing — or at least your outlook on it. As I write this article, I’m reminded of several times when I was facing some major challenges or had just experienced a big disappointment, and God put a praise in my heart at those very moments. Immediately, I began to thank God for His mercy and goodness. Being thankful is an act of worship.

I remember one particular situation where I had just had an emotional beat-down and I was just exhausted. The Holy Spirit whispered in my heart to start praising God. The situation didn’t change, but within minutes, as I continued my praise of the Father, I changed. My heart got lighter because the burden of my anxiety was lifted as God replaced it with His. As he promised us in the book of Matthew, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Often, unpleasant and unwelcome thoughts of the past threaten our state of mind. And you may not feel like praising or saying how thankful you are for the things you have. But this is precisely the moment that we must press on and declare our thankfulness to God. I believe God honors our faithfulness, particularly when it’s hard to be faithful and when we physically just don’t feel like doing the right thing.

Also, we must remember that there is always something to be grateful and thankful for. If you’re reading this article right now, you can see! If you heard your alarm go off this morning, you can hear! If you got out of bed this morning, you have movement in your body! And even if you don’t have any of those things, you’re still here.God has a purpose for you and that by itself is something beautiful to be thankful for.

In Psalm 100:4, the Bible says to enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”We should always have an attitude of prayer and thankfulness. The most blessed gift any of us can ever receive is the gift of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins. It would be the worst tragedy to leave this world accepting every other gift but that one.

I’d like to challenge you to something for the entire month of November. It’s called the Thankfulness Challenge. Start your day by writing down five things you’re thankful for. Even if you find yourself thinking about it for a moment, keep thinking! I promise you will never run out of things to thank God for. Regardless of what you’re facing right now, as you turn your eyes upon Jesus, your problems will become smaller and smaller — and worship will become bigger and bigger.

July 2018, Millennial Life

Millennial Life, What Does Service Look Like to You?

What does service look like to you?

When I think of service, the first thought that comes to mind is Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. What a humbling act. I mean, the Savior of the world, the God of the universe, the Prince of Peace, the Rose of Sharon, stooping down to wash and make clean the filthy feet of human sinners. How awesome.

Of course, Jesus’ acts of service go far beyond that, but I believe this particular act embodies what we as believers should be doing every day. Each of our lives should be an act of service. We should always ask the question: What can I do to help my fellow man? I encourage you to read John 13 and take note of the entire scenario, before and after, that surrounded the Lord washing the feet of His servants. John 13:14-15 says, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” The way we are to live our lives is already laid out for us in the Bible.

There are many lessons to be learned in this chapter alone. For instance, when we serve, it’s not just to our friends or to people we know love us. We are to serve our enemies as well, if they are in need. This is extremely difficult to do, but God never requires something of us without giving us the ability to carry it out.

Jesus washed the feet of Peter, knowing that Peter was going to deny Him not once but three times! Wow! He’s so amazing! Can you imagine washing the feet of someone who lied about you, treated you poorly, or denied they even knew you when you spent quality time with this person?

During my days in television, I had countless opportunities to serve others and shine the light of Christ. Whether it was praying for a mother who just found out her son had been shot and killed, or showing compassion to family members burying a child , those people were in need of serving and God used me to do just that. I knew that God placed me on certain stories just so I could share His love and offer up a prayer for those in some trying situations; situations that the average person would never experience.

Service can be as simple as a smile to a sad soul. I’m so grateful for the privileges I had to experience those moments where I could offer encouragement. Sometimes that’s all it takes to plant a seed of righteousness in someone’s heart. We affect each other and you never know how your words will help someone. Sometimes people will let you know you made a positive impact on their life and sometimes they won’t. But just know that God is always watching and if you are showing love, compassion and exhibiting any of the fruits of the Spirit, He is pleased.

As believers, we are constantly being watched. Our lives are living epistles to be read by all men (2 Corinthians 3:2). What are people reading when they look at you? What do they see? Are you willing to serve others even if it’s at the expense of your feelings? I hope so because not only will you be helping someone else, but you will reap the benefits of God’s blessings and His pleasure.

Jessica  Leblanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television n news reporters in the country by college broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled to Europe and wrote political and human interest stroies for UPIU.com. Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ New 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later as an anchor. Originally from NOLA, she spends her free time working on blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family

April 2018, Millennial Life

Millennial Life, By Jessica LeBlanc

Millennial Life, Forgiveness

By Jessica LeBlanc

Forgiveness can be a sensitive topic of conversation for some. Let’s face it. One of the hardest things a person can do is forgive. It’s unheard of to the natural man. It doesn’t make sense. It goes against human nature. But still, Jesus requires this of His followers. To forgive is woven into the fabric of who God is. When Jesus was suffering and dying on the cross, His request was for God the Father to forgive His persecutors. How amazing is that?

We are commanded to forgive even when they’re not sorry, even when we’re betrayed. Betrayal can come in varying degrees and many different forms.

When I was in high school, I had just gotten a prestigious honor to be the emcee at a national convention for an organization. I was over the moon! I had worked really hard for that honor and was thankful for the position. Chosen out of dozens of applicants from around the country to represent was a great reward. Anyway, I was on a team with several other high school students that was being led by three adults. Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize I was the odd girl out. Over the course of the convention (which spanned several days) I was consistently attacked. For example, I was deliberately given the wrong time for an important meeting, ostracized from the other kids and made to feel like I wasn’t supposed to be there…by the adults. Of course, I called home crying, explaining what was happening. My parents counseled me to let my chaperone know what was going on with the national leaders. I did, and my chaperone corroborated my story and acknowledged that what was happening to me, at the hands of adults no less, was wrong. Back in my hotel room, I cried and cried because I felt all alone. And I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to intentionally try to sabotage me.

But even in that situation God showed me that I really wasn’t alone. He was with me the entire time. Every time I was attacked in some sort of way, He always came back and reassured me of His protection. Although my forgiveness journey did not start and end at that convention, it was the beginning of a lifelong lesson on forgiveness that would come up time and time again in other situations God allowed me to face. It was my first major lesson in Forgiveness that would prove to help me in adulthood when I had to forgive someone for even more. Circumstances may change, but the process of forgiving remains the same.

Because I was a child, it was very difficult for me to process being attacked by adults versus those who are my peers. It made the cut deeper. But the Bible says to pray for our enemies.

I prayed for them many times after that. Forgiveness is not a single act that takes place on a specific day. It’s a process. Regardless of what was done to you, God commands us to forgive and pray for those who misuse and abuse us. We are to love our enemies. But that doesn’t mean put ourselves in harm’s way and willingly become a victim of bad treatment. We are to forgive just as Christ forgives us. Colossians 3:13 says “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Although it’s a process, it’s also a commandment. As children of God, He expects certain behavior from us and forgiving is expected. So, whatever you may be facing right now or whoever you may have to forgive (even if it’s yourself) just know that healing and peace is on the other side of your obedience.

Jessica LeBlanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television news reporters in the country by College Broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled abroad to Europe and wrote political and human interests stories for UPIU.com (an extension of United Press International). Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later an as anchor. Originally from New Orleans, she spends her free time working on her blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family.

Millennial Life, November 2016

Embracing Your Authentic Self for the Holidays

by Trapper S. Kinchen

083We spend our late teens and most of our 20s trying to grow ourselves up. We develop fresh interests, build eclectic friendships, challenge ourselves with hard work, and press into a real relationship with God. The process is not an easy one, but with the passage of time, most of us wind up confident and self-sufficient. We become adults.

However, despite the hard-won battles to achieve independence, many of us emotionally revert when faced with our families. A single word or gesture from a relative can unexpectedly send us into a spiral of self-doubt and codependence. Because of this, many millennials, like generations before them, wrestle with conflicting feelings about “going home.”

The American holiday season officially commences on the last Thursday of November — when Thanksgiving and the promise of pie draws each of us back to our places of origin. During the holidays, we engage in familiar traditions and work hard to meet our parents’ expectations. That being said, no matter how hard we fight against it, every well-meant attempt to satisfy our relatives comes at the expense of our adulthood.

When we sacrifice our authentic selves in the name of family harmony, feelings of psychological regression and emotional depression typically follow. Research has proven many millennials dread interacting with their families around the holidays for fear of loosing their sense of self. Last December, Dr. Goal Auzeen Saedi contributed an article entitled “Ditching Family Drama This Holiday Season” to Psychology Today. It highlighted the anxieties and concerns millennials typically develop when faced with kin.

Dr. Saedi followed a group of college students preparing to leave school for Christmas break. The mental health facility at the university where she worked saw an uptick in the number of people seeking psychological guidance as the semester drew to a close. She wrote, “[They] shared concerns that their families would not accept the more authentic version of themselves. Others came from demanding and sometimes critical parents and were anxious about returning to such a home environment.”

Her research indicates that plenty of people worry about regressing under the strain of their family’s emotional demands. Of course, Dr. Saedi’s findings are not necessarily indicative of every person’s experience. Not everybody is hesitant to “go home.” Nevertheless, when looking at statistics on the mental health of most Millennials, it’s safe to assume that, for many of us, regressive family environments compound with our already highly stressful lives.

CBSNEWS.com cited a 2013 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association and Harris Interactive, which found that “Millennials are more stressed than any other current living generation.” As a group, we bear a great deal of worry. Although some is self-induced, much of our nervous tension is generated by outside influences.

Millennials are faced with an onslaught of psychological strain that makes the transition into adulthood especially challenging: starting careers in a sluggish and competitive job market, cultivating relationships in a progressively disconnected social environment, and understanding where we fit into the rapidly shrinking global landscape.

107As of 2015, millennials are America’s largest generational demographic — the first time in nearly half a century when baby boomers have been outnumbered. We represent a national cultural shift toward openness and inclusivity. It’s no secret most of us hold perspectives that veer, to some degree, away from our parents’ values.

Market analysts and other social theorists call our age group’s worldview the “millennial mindset.” We, in greater numbers than any previous generation, have postponed major life decisions like marriage and reproduction in favor of participating in new experiences and pursuing adventure. And, even those of us who are married and/or are parents, approach life differently than generations past.

The “millennial mindset” also affects how we as a demographic tackle major holidays like Thanksgiving. Millennials are progressively more interested in throwing creative and relaxed celebrations rather than sticking to traditional themes. This change has stemmed in part from our desire to be comfortable just as we are, and our need to avoid pretense.

As our views of the holidays shift, so do the ways in which we engage in them. There is a phenomenon called “Friendsgiving” that is rapidly gaining popularity among our demographic. It is an alternative to the customary Thanksgiving dinner.

Millennials are swiftly realizing celebrations do not need to be unnecessarily full of familial expectations and suppressed anxiety. As a result, many of us have begun opting out of the domestic rituals of our childhoods in favor of coming together with like-minded friends. We have begun to shed obligation in favor of embracing realness.

The general idea behind Friendsgiving is to have a genuine celebration without the dysfunctional tension, outdated conventions and emotional strain usually associated with a holiday at home. Friendsgiving is not defined by a set of prescribed rules, and that’s what makes it so appealing! Invite your friends, coworkers and family too, but do it on your own terms.

It is about abandoning guilt, shame and pressure, and coming together to rejoice with people you enjoy. When the pressure is off, it becomes a celebration based on giving thanks rather than meeting requirements. Chris Erskine of the Los Angeles Times says, “A Friendsgiving is Thanksgiving with no baggage, no family tensions. At Friendsgiving, no one sits in judgment.”

When I was in college, the Saturday before Thanksgiving break, I would host a lunch for all my friends. I spent 72 hours brining a turkey, baking bread from scratch, and learning that homemade cranberry sauce isn’t worth the effort. On the day of the lunch, we all sat around my apartment eating, discussing current events and being our authentic selves. It was a powerfully mature experience, mixed with feelings of pure delight.

067Like the ones my friends and I used to have, Friendsgivings are blank canvases of festivity, designed to bring people together. You can turn them into whatever you want: an informal potluck around the television, a full-on sit down affair with a turducken and cocktails, a vegan barbeque in the backyard, etc. The key is to enjoy yourself and savor the people who help to enrich your life.

Finding peace during the holidays does not necessarily mean isolating yourself from your family. It might be as simple as redirecting the family tradition. Invite your parents and siblings to your house, encourage them to mingle with your friends and assume the role of host.

Breaking free from rituals can be powerfully liberating. Whether its Friendsgiving, Friendsmas, or Friendependence Day, creating a comfortable and joyful atmosphere for a holiday party is always a good idea. Flexibility is the cornerstone of celebrating. It’s not about honoring a custom, but rather about taking pause to count life’s blessings.

It is vital to remember that God wants us to be whole, happy and healthy individuals — the Bible is full of references to this. We do a disservice to others and ourselves when we get bogged down in familial dysfunction and personal regression. The best part of growing up is getting to embrace bare bones self-authenticity and gathering together with the people you love. Happy Friendsgiving!