Seeking Happiness in Him

This past summer, I was given an extraordinary opportunity to visit one of my favorite places in the world: Juarez, Mexico. Some of you are probably wondering how I could possibly find Juarez appealing, and that’s okay. Juarez, according to most news articles, is one of the deadliest cities in Mexico; however, I am writing this to tell you differently.

When I was in the fourth grade, my church took a mission trip to Juarez. It was my first trip out of the country and only the second mission trip that my family had ever taken, so we were ecstatic to see what the Lord had in store for us. As a child, I got in the habit of thinking that everybody had the same lifestyle as me. While my family juarezhad never been rich, we had always had food on our table and a roof over our heads, which were necessities that I had assumed everyone possessed. I thought that I knew everything about the world around me; however, my perspective on life drastically changed the moment I stepped foot on Juarez soil.

After sliding out of the church van, I looked around in awe of my surroundings. Surrounding “La Missíon,” the Christ-centered community center that we were doing construction on, was a trench that overflowed with waste and debris. On the other side of the trench was a giant hill, lined with small houses made of adobe and brick. To a fourth grader, these houses hardly seemed fit to use as storage units, let alone homes. Little did I know, these were the most luxurious houses in the neighborhood. While the owners of these “houses” were blessed with somewhat sturdy foundations, durable walls, and reliable roofs, thousands of their neighbors made use with whatever cardboard, trash, and plastic tarps that they could find. Their living situations were worse than anything I had ever seen, yet many of the people in Juarez possessed more joy than any of my friends or family at home.

This concept overwhelmed me at the time. How could these people, who have little to nothing, be so content? How could they find enough joy to sing as they walk miles without shoes to find water? Where did this spirit come from? Finally, after re-visiting Juarez for several years in a row, I have found the answer to these questions.

boysThe abundance of love and life that overflows from the heart of Juarez is capable only of coming from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Their happiness does not come from worldly possessions but by the promises made to them by God, our Father.

So my question for you today is this: Are you happy?

Today’s society seeks happiness through success. Often times, we find ourselves thinking things like, “If I could just get that new IPhone, Mustang, or Michael Kors watch, my life would be so much better.” The more we have, the happier we are, right? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

While owning these items may cause us temporary happiness, they will never be able to bring complete satisfaction. In fact, there is nothing on this world that has the power to truly satisfy, except for Jesus Christ.

So today, I encourage you to take a look at your life from a different perspective. Be grateful for the little things: running water, nourishment, and literacy are possessions that we take for granted way too often. Enjoy the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon you, but remember to seek ultimate happiness in Him.

Written by Haley

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

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Why Grammar is My Jam (and Other Musings)

This summer, the Writing Center crew took on the challenge of editing, polishing, and in some cases, totally revamping each of our 90+ quick reference flyers (a.k.a. handouts). Those of us who worked during the summer months divided the handouts into categories and went about the tedious business of improving their readability and style, one by one. My category was grammar.

To some of you, spending a summer editing and re-working 20 grammar fact sheets probably sounds like a death sentence. But to me, it was a blast. Grammar is my jam, and I want to tell you why.

But first, I want to borrow a John Green quote for dramatic effect…

“I fell in love with [grammar] the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

If you’re anything like I was at the start of my love affair with grammar, you probably see the finer points of grammar as an impossible art form. I used to look at grammar the way I looked at Claude Monet’s Water Lilies.

pic 1

If painting isn’t really your bag of chips, you’re probably thinking that painting something like this would be impossible. From far away, it looks like a masterpiece, (and it is; Monet was a brilliant artist). But if you’ve ever looked at an impressionist painting like this one up close, you know it’s kind of a mess. You know it’s a (seemingly) scrambled series of independent brush strokes that somehow work together to produce a coherent image. When I look at this painting closely and think about Monet carefully placing each stroke of paint, I can see an important truth.

Most elements of writing (and painting and life in general), including grammar, can be broken down into two parts: the process and the product. The process of baking a cake (cracking eggs, pouring mix, and so on) is different than the product of baking a cake (a happy belly). However, it is not entirely separate. The product, in most cases, depends on the process. The product is the dependent clause, if you will, and it can’t stand alone.

I’ve always loved the product of grammar: clear and proper speech and writing, but I never realized that the product was dependent on a specific process. It all seemed so randomized and haphazard.

So here’s the part that happened slowly: I actually took the time to learn the process. I took an introductory linguistics course at DBU, where I was exposed to the technical aspects of language construction. I must have diagrammed about 27726852 sentences that semester, and by the end of it, I could finally see how the “brush strokes” of noun phrases and modal auxiliaries and all of the technical grammatical stuff worked together to make sentences and paragraphs and pages. And all at once, I realized that the coherent image of language is the product of specific grammatical processes.

We may not all be Monets of language. Our writing may be more like a color by numbers than an impressionist masterpiece. But the important part is recognizing that there is a process.  There are neat little boxes and compartments and categories where things fit, and that fact just makes my heart happy.

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So if you want to take the time to learn some of the processes of the mystical thing we call grammar, even just to impress your friends by being able to explain what a dangling participle is, feel free to check out our freshly edited grammar handouts online (at http://www3.dbu.edu/uwc/flyers.asp) or visit the Writing Center in person.

Maybe you’ll fall in love too.

-Caitlin

Photo Credit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Lilies

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/FREE-Summer-color-by-number-English-and-Spanish-242287

Grammar Zombies

“Ugghhhh…” a hungry zombie sighed somewhere off screen.

“Where is he?” Nathan cried, his Xbox controller rattling in his hands.

“I don’t know… but he’s close!” JD replied.

On the TV, Nathan and JD’s characters hid behind a storage crate. Blood was everywhere, decorating the grey floors and walls. Something, like glass, fell and shattered.

“He’s coming.”

“Darn, I’m out of ammo.”

Wave after wave of zombies barraged the two, helpless figures. Stuck on a zombie ridden aircraft carrier, there was no place to run.

“Get him with your knife then!”

“Okay, I’m going to check behind the crate.”

Nathan toggled his character to the edge of the giant box. He let a breathe, and turned—

“AHHHGGGHHH!!!!”

The zombie jumped down from the top of the crate. His blue, dry hands thrashed and bashed against Nathan.

“Die! Die! Die! Die! Die!” Nathan screamed as he jabbed the zombie with his knife.

“Hold on!” JD whipped around the edge of the crate, carrying a rocket launcher.

“Where did you get that?”

“Don’t ask, just watch out!”

“Wait, no—“

The entire earth slowed down for a split second. A football sized cylinder spiraled towards Nathan and the zombie. Nathan threw down his controller and covered his eyes. JD smiled.

Then the screen became one, big, red, cumulous cloud.


 

Sometimes, as a Dallas Baptist University Writing Center consultant, I come in contact with Grammar Zombies. The other a day, one slumped into the Center. Her face was pale and black bags, large enough to store baby carrots, wrinkled under her eyes. She placed her essay on the table, fell into the chair, and pointed at the paper.

“Uggggg…” she said, the smell of Red Bull bombarding my nostrils.

“Sorry,” I responded, “could you please repeat that?”

“Ahhuuuggguhhh!”

I glanced at the paper. The girl’s professor had left a note: “Please do not use first or second person.”

I turned towards the student and asked, “Is there first or second person in this essay?”

“Arrrgggbaa,” she moaned, shrugging her shoulders.

I read the first sentence. “I really love Cajun food; it’s to die for.”

Written by Ben Jones

 

 

Questions About Labor Day

Cariliee Labor Day

Questions about Labor Day

As a college student, I usually think of Labor Day as “that time when I go back to school but then immediately get a day off.” Yay. Thank you, America, for throwin’ off my groove. After painfully adapting to Life-After-Summer, I get to experience all the feels of freedom before cruelly returning to class. It’s like a horrible joke. Also, I’ve always wondered why people celebrate the American labor system by resting. How does that make sense? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to erect a statue or something?

This is why I don’t make up the holidays.

Apparently, Labor Day is all about celebrating the accomplishments of the American workforce. And we have come a long way since the Industrial Revolution, with child labor laws in place, laws against monopolies, and unions established to “protect” workers’ interests.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I hate Labor Day; what I hate is coming back to reality after a three day weekend. You would too if you spent Labor Day at my house. My family’s barbecue is not something you want to miss.

However, Labor Day does inspire an attitude of gratitude. I am thankful that I have a job, that I am physically able to work and put myself through school when others may not be able to do so. I am thankful for the things that God has helped me to accomplish. Also, jobs in the United States often pay much better wages than other countries around the world, which makes me grateful to be an American worker. I am thankful for breaks and days spent outdoors, out of class, and off of work. Class and work are both good things, but I prize my free time because it provides a chance to de-stress, and as a college student, those moments are few and far between.

So, when you are hit with harsh reality on Tuesday morning, do whatever you need to do to keep it together. I know I’ll be putting my hard-earned money to work at Starbucks in a desperate attempt to fortify myself with espresso.

Written by Carilee

Photo credit weheartit.com