Glad you found us! This site has one objective: to help you win the spiritual battle for purity, in every sense of the word. Society encourages us to throw away our virtue; the message sent out by the media is: "everyone's doing it!" We are here to prove that statement wrong! Come in, read some encouraging testimonies, chat with others who strive to remain pure, and reaffirm your belief that purity, sexual and otherwise, is not only possible, but totally worth it!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The College 411- part 5



We're back for more college talk, and today the topic is money!  Believe it or not, it is possible to graduate from college debt-free!  I'm living proof, and hopefully some of my experiences can help you avoid unnecessary debt.

You'll hear lots of people say that "Student loan debt is good debt."  Here's their reasoning:  By graduating with a degree in a specialized field you will (hopefully) be uniquely skilled and therefore eligible for higher paying jobs.  Once you begin a career, you can afford to pay off your loans, so therefore the debt is "good."  There is merit to this philosophy.  Many student loans don't accrue interest until after you graduate, and some even provide for the debt to be "forgiven" if you take a job in a specific location, for a specific period of time. 

However, no debt is much better than "good debt!"  I'm going to tell you about some of the things that worked for me, and maybe you can put a few of them to work in your current or future college financial plan.

First of all, I focused on making the best grades I could in high school.  I was not Valedictorian, nor one of the top 10 of my class (I graduated in a class of almost 600 students,) but I was in the top 10%, so I was an honor graduate.  I was musical, so I got involved in every possible musical competition.  My greatest high school goal was to make the All-State Band, which the Lord helped me to achieve my senior year.  When I began looking at colleges, my grades helped me out financially!  The university I attended offered an academic scholarship, based on my grades and my standardized test scores (SAT/ACT).  Because my grades and test scores were high enough, I earned an academic scholarship that covered my housing!  Each year in college, if my GPA remained high enough, my housing scholarship continued, so throughout college my housing was free!  Each college has its own policies, but in your college-hunting, find out what they can do for good grades, it's worth the effort!

As a music major, I was part of the university marching band, concert bands, and choirs.  I received money for being involved in these groups, and these weren't scholarships, they were called  "service awards."  This meant that I was being paid for providing my services to the organization.  It was a substantial sum of money that covered most of my tuition!  The top ensembles had limited space, and were selected by audition.  If you made those ensembles, your service award was even greater!  Then, there were other opportunities such as Pep Band (the band which performs at basketball games.)  By being a part of this group, I was paid a certain amount of money per game. It wasn't much, but it helped cover expenses like toiletries and such.  These groups were enjoyable, and they helped pay for my education!

Then there were "work/study jobs."  Throughout the various departments, certain professors or organizations had jobs available to students.  My work/study job was with the trumpet professor in the music department.  I'd help copy, fold, organize and prepare for performances and competitions.  My husband worked two semesters at the campus police department, (another story for another time!)  Again, we got paid for this work.  It wasn't lots of money, but every little bit helped, and there was a limit to the amount of hours you could work, because the purpose of the job was to not impede your study.

Then, one semester, I discovered that good grades could pay even more!  The first semester I made a 4.0, I received a letter, with a check for $1,000!  I found out that my department offered a scholarship for the music student with the highest GPA each semester.  After receiving that check, I decided to make 4.0's from then on!  If there was more than one such student, the scholarship was split, but once again, I found a way to make money to pay for school!

When I began my college career, I filled out government financial aid forms, but unfortunately, I did not qualify.  It never hurts to try, though.  Grants are different from loans. Grant money is government money for your schooling that does not need to be repaid!  So, look into it, find out when it's due and turn it in, filled out in its entirety, on time.  Every year scholarships and grants go unclaimed because people fail to properly fill out the forms. 

What hobbies are you into? There might just be a scholarship out there!  Do some research and find out, because every little bit helps.  Another avenue for potential scholarships are civic organizations.  The Rotary Club, Lion's Club, and other such places offer college scholarships.  Many high school booster organizations offer scholarships, I even know that the local banks in our area offer scholarships.  If there's a form to fill out, fill it out! The worst they can tell you is "no."

One more thing that helped me:  I went to a smaller university.  Because my university was small, they valued their top students and wanted to keep them.  That certainly helped my financial situation!  As nice as it is to go to a big-name university, how important is that for your bachelor's degree?  If you're looking to go for a Master's or beyond, maybe that degree should come from a major university.  Throughout my working life, no one has passed me up for a job, or questioned my abilities based on the university I attended. 

Not to get too into my personal story, but I was the oldest of four children, and neither of my parents went to college.  Finances were tight, and I knew from the beginning that I would have to pay for as much of my education as possible.  I did not go to school for free; my parents had to pay some expenses, especially my freshman year, but I managed to shoulder most of the financial burden myself, without any student loans, and without getting an outside-the-university job!  Every school has different policies, but they all offer opportunities for financial relief. 

Many factors come into play when considering where to attend college.  The most important factor is God's guidance.  Don't worry about where to go and how to pay, but seek His will and plan.  He will guide you, just as He did for me.  It is worth taking a look at the money involved and creating a strategy before you dive in, though.  If you can avoid student loans, through scholarships, service awards or jobs either on or off campus, it's worth it.  What a blessing to begin your new career debt-free!



Do you have any financial concerns about college?  Leave a comment or send us an email at requests@armedandvirtuous.org and we'll continue the discussion!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I Cherish Wilted Flowers, And So Does God!

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Psalm 8:3-4     When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him (NIV)?


It's been difficult trying to find a suitable verse to share this story/lesson that God gave me.  I've been saving it for the right moment, and considering we've been talking about doing little things to make a big impact, I thought this might help put things into perspective.

These aren't just any old wilted flowers, they are the first flowers my son ever gave me, and they're priceless!  Here's what happened:

My son and I went on a "date" several weekends ago, the day before Mother's Day, to be exact.  As we left on our outing, Jason asked me to find an opportunity for my son to purchase me a Mother's Day gift.  (I know, it seemed like a very awkward and difficult task to accomplish, but it was important to my son, so I kept that thought in the back of my mind.)  We went out to eat, did some other fun activities, and all the while I'm trying to come up with a scenario where I can safely allow him to pick out and purchase a gift without my ruining the surprise. 

As we stopped at a gas station, I saw a roadside flower stand (you know, the kind they set up shortly before such gift-giving occasions?)  I thought to myself:  This is perfect!  I can let him pick something that's within my price range, keep my eye on him, and allow him to check out himself!  He thought the idea of flowers was great, so off we went. 

Once inside the tent, I did a quick look around, and I saw a shelf with small vases, each containing two roses, baby's breath, and other greenery.  They were not too expensive, so I told my son "You can pick anything you want from this shelf, take my card, and go to the register.  I'll stand over here, out of sight."  It was a small tent, and about five other people were there, including the checker, so everyone quickly realized what was going on, especially when my son loudly reminded me "Don't look, Mommy!" 

He made his choice, under the adoring eyes of the people around him, (My heart swelled with pride!)  But when he got to the register, we hit a slight snag.  When the checker asked "credit or debit," I knew I had no choice but to step in.  One of the ladies standing by told my son, "It's okay, come stand over here by me, put the flowers behind your back and I'll make sure your Mom doesn't look!"  I dutifully stepped up to the register, signed my name, and completed the purchase.  I then held my hand out (without looking for him,) my son took my hand and we headed to the car.  I took extra care not to look in the back seat of the car while driving home, for fear of seeing my special gift.  My son was so proud of his purchase, that he dropped me little hints:  "They were the prettiest ones!  There's something special around the vase that makes it extra beautiful!" 

Once at home, he hurried into the house and placed them in his room.  I was under instructions not to enter.  He even posted a sign!  After putting kiddos to bed that evening, Jason said "I need to teach my son how to pick out flowers.  Those are already starting to wilt!"  I assured him that it made no difference.  My son thought they were the best, so they were the best!

So, what's the lesson?  It came to me as I was driving home.  My son gave me a gift under my guidance.  He purchased it through my resources, and even then the gift, in some people's minds, had flaws.  Yet, to me, it's a family heirloom; a treasured memory I'll keep and share forever because it represents a token of my son's love, given with his best intentions and using his best judgement. 

That's how God sees our gifts, worship, and acts of service:  as tokens of our affection!  We don't serve out of our own resources and skills.  The money we give or things we donate were originally God's.  As our Creator, He endowed us with the gifts and talents we possess, so we can't take credit for using them in service.  Our best efforts will be flawed because we are flawed people, and yet, God cherishes them because they are expressions of our love.  He anoints those efforts and makes them more effective than they could be on their own.  Through His anointing, needs are met, people are blessed, and Christ is glorified.  As you continue to enjoy your summer vacation, remember to give your best efforts to God.  He will take your best, make it better than you imagined, and will view your sacrifice of praise as I do my wilted flowers!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Think on These Things: Cute, Cute, Cute Suit!

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).


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Just a little reminder:  church camps are coming up.  Do you have your swimsuit yet?  Have you given up and decided to just wear an old t-shirt over the one you've got?  Girls4Sport sent me a suit to try out, and I was so excited about it, that I thought I'd do a little show-and-tell. 

Again, I really hate swimsuit shopping!  I hate even more taking pictures of myself in swimwear, and yet, here I am again, posting a pic. of myself in a swimsuit!  (No, I'm not really at the beach, my hubby was having fun with his computer!)  The background was altered, but this is really me, as I am, in all my fair-skinned glory!

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I like this one because it doesn't look like a swimsuit at all!  It looks like a cute pair of shorts with a sleeveless T-shirt.  The top comes down plenty long, so no worries about it riding up, and since the neck is nice and high, I don't have to be afraid of bending over.  I'm wearing mid-length board shorts, but they come in other lengths as well.  I plan to try these out at the water park soon.  I might just wear it as my all-day clothing! 

Girls4Sport has many other choices of styles, lengths, and patterns on their website.  You can check out the review we did of their products a few weeks ago.  Don't forget, their coupon code is still active through the end of the year:   AAV-15, for 15% off anything on their website.

Enjoy! 





What other "things" would you like to see highlighted on our weekend posts?  Drop us a line or leave a comment, and we'll post about the things that interest you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The College 411- Rena's Experience, part 2

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Welcome back!  We're completing Rena's interview today.  She's sharing her opinions about clubs (since there are no fraternities and sororities at her university.)  We're also discussing roommate relationships, staying strong in your faith, and what you really need to bring to college.  Thanks again, Rena!



Monday, June 13, 2011

The Little Things Matter...A Lot!

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Matthew 10:42     "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward  (NIV)."

When it comes to doing work for God's Kingdom, we usually think on the grand scale:  a mission trip to Africa or China, giving vast sums of money to ministries, or taking a summer to build houses.  We also tend to think that only grown-ups, or specially trained people are qualified to do these things.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

You might be young, you might have limited resources, but your only true limitation is your willingness to get involved.  What could be more insignificant than giving someone a glass of cold water?  But what if they were dying of dehydration?  That person would have you to thank for their life!  Have you ever been terribly thirsty?  How wonderful did that water feel as it ran down your throat?  (I'm getting thirsty just thinking about it!)

Collecting plastic bags for the Taylor Food Ministry is similar to giving someone a glass of cold water.  It's insignificant, it doesn't cost any money, but it's meeting a need.  Regardless of how much food they wish to share, if it can't get home to needy families, the blessing is lost.  Doing something as simple as donating your leftover bags gives you a part in that ministry. 

Let's take this a step further.  How did Jesus minister to people?  He met their needs!  Sometimes their needs were great.  Other times, their needs were simple: food, water, shelter, or loving attention.  He told them the truth about the kingdom, but He also met their earthly needs.  Jesus understood that a thirsty man will realize his spiritual thirst only after his physical thirst is met.  If we want people to receive the message we have to share about salvation, we need to be willing to meet the needs they can see first.

Here's something else that amazes me.  Simple acts of service like this go down in the record-books of heaven!. . . he will certainly not lose his reward.  Reward?  Yes!  There are heavenly rewards for serving others here on earth.  And, unlike earthly treasure, it won't go away.  It can't be stolen, lost or corrupted.  God is no one's debtor.  He will reward us abundantly over and beyond any sacrifices we make on His behalf.  You'll feel the reward of a job well done here and now, but what an honor to be acknowledged in Heaven!  To hear our Lord say "well done!" 

Don't count yourself out.  You can make a huge impact on the mission field all around you.  Just open your eyes to the possibilities, commit your resources and abilities to God, and watch as He does mighty things through you!




Do you have any simple, but effective ministry ideas?  Please share with us! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Think on These Things: One Man's Trash.....?

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Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).

Question:  What do you do with all those plastic bags that come home from your grocery shopping trips?  Do you throw them away?  Do you stash them somewhere, like in a cabinet, in a box, inside another bag?  Maybe you're like me, and you do actually use them for something.  I often use them as small waste basket liners.  (In my opinion, why buy such things when you can get them free?)  I also use them for transporting wet or used clothing, for diaper disposal, or as a quick lunch bag if my son misplaces his lunch kit.  Even with all those uses for plastic bags, I still end up with way more left over than I can possibly use! 

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Maybe this isn't your situation, but surely you know of people who collect more plastic bags than they need.  Your Aunt, Grandmother, or neighbor could be one of those people.  In fact, they actually make crazy little contraptions for the collecting of bags,  (I have one) and in most cases, even these can't contain the enormous overload of bags!

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What if I told you that your plastic bags could be used for the Kingdom of God?  They can!  We have a local ministry in our area, the Taylor Food Ministry, that gives food, toiletries, and other basic necessities to needy families.  When I talked to Mrs. Taylor the other day, she said that they helped out 30 families within a 2 to 3 hour span.  They are constantly in need of plastic bags to send these items home with those they intend to bless.  At times, when their supply is running low, they have actually gone door-to-door asking people for leftover bags. 

Would you like to minister without spending any money?  Start gathering up all your extra plastic grocery bags!  If you live in the East Texas area and would like to contribute to the Taylor Food Ministry, contact us at suggestions@armedandvirtuous.org .  If not, do a little research!  There are likely organizations in your area that need these bags as well.  Call them up, ask if they need bags, and start collecting.  You can do this on your own, as a Sunday School class, as a youth group (we are!) or as a service project for another organization.  Who knew that doing something so simple could make such a difference! 

If you choose to get involved, let us know!  We'll gladly "show and tell" for ya!




What other "things" would you like to see highlighted on our weekend posts?  Drop us a line or leave a comment and we'll discuss the things that interest you!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The College 411- Rena's Experience, part 1

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Welcome back!  We've got another college interview today.  You'll be hearing from Rena, and her experiences at a public university.  Again, we're discussing her transition to college life and how peer pressure is different from high school. Thanks so much, Rena, for sharing with such honesty.  Enjoy, be encouraged, and hang in there, ladies!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Get Out of Danger!

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Proverbs 4:27     Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil (NKJV).

This is our last devo. from Proverbs 4, a chapter that is filled with helpful instruction about how to stay strong in the face of temptation.  I hope these will be helpful to all you high school graduates out there who are about to take your first steps on the "other side."

So, we've guarded our heart, mouth, eyes, and our reputations.  Last, but not least, this simple little verse adds two powerful words of instruction.  Verse 26 told us to let all your ways be established.  Verse 27 takes it a step further.  Once you've established who you are, don't turn away from it, . . . do not turn to the right or the left.  It's easy to be dragged away from you first love and into the ways of the world simply because it's all around you.  It might be tempting, but the choice is yours.  Make the choice not to give in, make it before you get into a compromising situation, and set up standards that will keep you away from danger.  If your college friends are into drinking, and you want to avoid being sucked in, then don't go to parties with them.  If you stumble into a situation where it's going on, find a way to leave.  If you don't want to go too far with guys, then don't get alone with them, especially in a dorm room or apartment.  Enjoy their company, but remember that you can get in trouble when you get alone. 

The temptation to get side-tracked is all around you, and it can take on many different forms.  College is designed to make you think for yourself, and in many respects that's a good thing, but remember that God's Word remains true regardless of your circumstances.  If it was wrong when you lived at home, it's wrong in college.  If it brought dishonor to God then, it will dishonor Him now.  Why are you going to school?  What do you want to do with your future?  Keep these things in the forefront of your mind and it will help you continue on the right track. 

My favorite part of this verse, though, is the very last sentence!  It leaves us with great hope:  Remove your foot from evil.  All of us sin, and yes, you will sin while in college.   No matter who you are and how strong your faith, you will be faced with grown-up temptations in college.  Often, we make mistakes and find ourselves in places we know we shouldn't be, doing things we know ought not be done.  If you find yourself in such a place, don't fall for the lie that the devil whispers to your heart:  It's all over, you're trapped now.  You can't go back and change anything, you're ruined forever.  You might as well keep on sinning, because there's no turning back.   

That's not what this verse says!  There is always forgiveness and restoration in Christ.  As long as you're alive you can make the decision to turn around and get back on track.  God loves you more than you can fathom, and He wants a restored relationship with you, no matter what you've been through.  So, remove your foot from evil.  If you find yourself walking in sin, pray and ask for God's forgiveness.  Then, get out!  Just like we remove our hand from a hot stove, remove yourself from a sinful situation.  Don't continue getting burned.  God will help you overcome, and can use even regrets for His glory.   

God bless you in this exciting stage of life!  Remember that you're never truly alone, no matter how you feel.  You Heavenly Father is always with you, and your sisters in Christ here at Armed and Virtuous are just an email away!  requests@armedandvirtuous.org

Friday, June 3, 2011

Think on These Things- Get Up and Get Serving!

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).

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So, it's summer vacation.  What are you gonna do?  Sleep in . . . check.  Watch TV . . . check.  Hang out with your friends . . . check.  Go on a family vacation. . .check.  Store up treasure in heaven . . . . ? 

How many of you actually get bored by the time summer vacation comes to an end?  How many of you are ready to start the new school year just so you have something to do?  (I know, you're not there yet, and some of you won't be, your summers are full of activity, but full of what kind of activity?)

Did you know that there are tons of opportunities to make a difference this summer, both in your own life and in the lives of others?  Over the next few Fridays, we're going to highlight just a few of the many opportunities you have to serve others, and by doing so, serve your Heavenly Father.  There are church camps to attend, Vacation Bible Schools to help with, yards to mow, and through it all, God's love to share.

As we showcase what others are doing, I hope it will inspire you to serve someone, somewhere.  In fact, if you decide to serve and you'd like to "show and tell,"  please contact us at events@armedandvirtuous.org  We'd LOVE to share your idea with others and spread the opportunities around!  If your youth group is doing something, let us know that as well!  So, enjoy the rest, but there's a world out there waiting to see God's love shine through you!






What other "things" would you like to see highlighted on our weekend posts?  Drop us a line or leave a comment, and we'll discuss the things that interest you! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The College 411- part 4

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Well, we're back to April's opinions on the college experience.  I hope what you've heard so far is proving helpful, both from my soap box and from the interviews you've seen.  We've discussed several aspects of this topic, but today we're dealing with partying in college and roommate relationships.

So far, both of our college students shared valuable information about partying, so I'll attempt to keep mine short and sweet.  College is fun!  Part of the fun involves the freedom to go and do as you please.  In the broadest sense, a party is just people getting together and having a good time.  When you're in college, though, parties often involve drinking, drugs and sex, especially if the people you're partying with aren't Christians.  Therefore, you need to be wise about the parties you attend, and make escape plans should they become dangerous to your witness.

Lots of organizations in college host "parties" of one type or another.  Many of these are just good, clean fun!  After our summer band camps each year, we held a band picnic in which we went to the park, played volleyball, ate hamburgers and just enjoyed each other's company.  Other times, even these parties can involve activities that could lead to trouble.  So, what should a young woman of God do? 

First things first.  When it comes to friends, you need to know where they stand on these issues.  It's best to be closest with people who share your values.  The best friends are the ones who accept you completely as you are, and don't pressure you to change.  You can usually feel safer about attending parties with such people, because they'll back you up. 

Secondly, if you show up at a party and discover things going on that shouldn't be, find a way to leave.  Either drive yourself, come with a friend who believes as you do, or call someone to get you.  Besides the temptation to join in, your witness could be damaged just by being at such a party, so leave without apology.  Don't be rude, but don't be pressured to stay.  God will always provide a way of escape, just pray and ask! 

Another very important aspect of the college experience, and one that will impact your daily life is your roommate.  Depending on where you go, and how far away from home, you could have more or less input about who you room with.  In my situation, I went to a fairly small college that was not too far away from my hometown.  I was able to spend my first year of college rooming with a girl from my church.  It was a great way to begin college life because we both were Christians, we both shared basically the same values and therefore we had little worries about what we'd encounter each time we opened the door. 

However, I lived in a suite, and that was not the case with my other suite mates.  One of my suite mates was dating the quarterback of our football team.  Although our dorm's visitation policy was that visitors could come from 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight, that didn't mean that a few privileged individuals couldn't bend the rules.  One morning I walked into my bathroom, in my pajamas, and was greeted by a strange guy brushing his teeth!  As I stood there in shock, he stammered an apology.  I turned, walked back to my room and locked the door.  I stood there a few moments wondering what to do, and finally I got dressed, put a stick of gum in my mouth, and headed to my first class.

Depending on your housing situation, you could experience something similar.  At Christian colleges, there are usually strict guidelines in place about visitation in dorm rooms.  However, at public universities, rules are lax or possibly even non-existent.  Many universities have gone to apartment-style dorms now, and visitors are basically free to come and go as they please.  The only person setting rules about when people come and go then, is you and your roommate. 

Usually, you fill out a survey before going to school, in which you discuss your habits, and they attempt to match you up with a person who suits you, but this is not a perfect system.  No matter how you're paired up with a roommate, you should have a discussion with her about guys, company in general, and set up some basic rules you can both live by.  If your roommate brings a guy over and starts making out or worse, tell her that it makes you uncomfortable.  You have the right to feel safe in your own living quarters.  If he stays late and you want to go to bed, tell her that he needs to leave.  You have the right to go to bed at night when you wish, without guys.  If you don't say anything about situations that make you uncomfortable, they will only continue and get worse.  If you live in a suite, you may not be able to control who enters another bedroom, but you can control your own bedroom, bathroom, and expect that a reasonable amount of quiet exist, especially at night. 

Here's the good news:  roommate assignments aren't permanent, unless you want them to be.  You could get a new roommate at least every year, if not every semester.  I started out with a roommate from my home church.  After my freshmen year, she had become close to another girl in my suite, and they wanted to room together.  I had been in school for a year, and had several band friends, so my next and final roommate was a fellow band member.  We roomed together at a different dorm which was a one room situation, so it was just the two of us.  We got along very well, and have cherished memories of our time in college.  In fact, as we moved out at the end of our last semester together, we both were fighting tears.  She was graduating and beginning her career, and I was getting married!  We're still great friends and stay in touch often. 

Here's what I hope you get from all of this:  Be aware of potential dangers; physical dangers, dangers to your beliefs and dangers to your witness.  Stand up for yourself, and don't apologize for your beliefs.  At the same time, don't be afraid.  Evil isn't lurking around every corner, and many wonderful and fun things will take place.  Just realize that you have to set and maintain the rules, in every aspect of your life.  You also have to learn to get along with others, even other people who don't share your beliefs.  You'll make it through just fine, as long as you stay close to Christ.  Maintain your walk with Him, and take every concern to Him.  He's your lifeline, and He's all you need.