The Memory Shall Be Ours

Of all the national holidays, Memorial Day is perhaps the most somber. Each year, Americans pause to remember those who have died in service of our country, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect the American people.

Traditionally, Memorial Day was called “Decoration Day,” a holiday that honored fallen Union soldiers in the years following the Civil War. As the commemoration evolved, it was adopted as a national holiday and was expanded to include all service members who died in every American war, past and future.

Today, Memorial Day is solemnly celebrated by placing flags on the graves of every service member. Many cities and towns across the United States hold ceremonial events, honoring their fallen soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors. At 3 p.m. nationally, Americans are encouraged to hold a Moment of Remembrance, pausing in silent reflection to remember the sacrifice of fallen members of the United States Armed Forces.

For many Americans, the loss of a loved one in service of the country is still fresh. Some have given a son or daughter. Others have been deprived of a parent. Many have lost friends, their brothers- and sisters-in-arms. Their losses must not be forgotten.

A sacrificial death is not taken lightly in the United States. Fallen service members are given the highest respect and the greatest honor. The Bible’s poignant words illustrate the universal notion held on Memorial Day: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Memorial Day serves as a moving reminder to Americans that to live in freedom, there must be a price.

Perhaps the nineteenth century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow best captured this reverence in his poem, “Decoration Day”:

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest

On this Field of the Grounded Arms,

Where foes no more molest,

Nor sentry’s shot alarms!

 

Ye have slept on the ground before,

And started to your feet

At the cannon’s sudden roar,

Or the drum’s redoubling beat.

 

But in this camp of Death

No sound your slumber breaks;

Here is no fevered breath,

No wound that bleeds and aches.

 

All is repose and peace,

Untrampled lies the sod;

The shouts of battle cease,

It is the Truce of God!

 

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!

The thoughts of men shall be

As sentinels to keep

Your rest from danger free.

 

Your silent tents of green

We deck with fragrant flowers

Yours has the suffering been,

The memory shall be ours.

This Memorial Day, let us hold onto that memory of all the heroic Americans we have lost and remember to thank those still fighting for our safety and our country’s bright future.

Written by Jenna

Image credit: https://www.facebook.com/DallasBaptistUniv/photos/a.450863583752.238790.43443903752/10153678659003753/?type=3&theater

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Slow Down

What is life? Is it a series of events on a long and winding road? Is it a game of chance where things happen for no apparent reason? Or are we just pawns in a game being played by alien overlords? Whatever the case, we all have to go through life together. Here’s the rub, though: some of us go through life way too fast.

Many of us rush through life trying to get to the next step or moment. When doing this, we often miss out on some of the best parts of life. As students, it’s really easy to live and work for a paycheck. After all, classes and work aren’t fun! I’ll often sit in class and think about my schedule for the next day and count the hours before they even happen. This way, I can figure out when I will get out of class and when I can relax again. It seems there is this rollercoaster of going up on the weekdays and down on the weekends.

Even if that’s not the case, it’s that we’re always busy. As a society, we’re going a mile a minute (which is really impressive, when you consider how fast that actually is) and we don’t seem to be slowing down. Even our relaxation time has been encroached upon by things to do. Can you believe that? We consider it relaxing to do things! I’m not talking about reading a book or playing video games. I’m talking actual activity. As Relient K puts it, “Lately, it just seems to me that we’ve got the letters A.D.D. branded into our mentality.”

I get this guilty feeling quite often when I’m doing absolutely nothing at all. I feel like I should be doing something. I feel like relaxing and doing things that really aren’t productive is bad. We have this engrained into our minds: if we’re not busy, we’re not productive and we’re lazy. I can’t even remember where or when I got this idea. I just remember going from Saturday morning video games and cartoons to freaking out if I sleep too late on Saturday, worrying that I’ve wasted the day.

While all of this is not inherently bad, let’s take a look at what all of this busyness actually does to us. In 2011, the American Psychology Association posted the results of a study done on stress in America. The causes of stress are not nearly as important as the symptoms. Some of the biggest symptoms include irritability or anger, fatigue, lack of interest, anxiousness, headaches, depression, and the list goes on and on. Furthermore, in order to cope with stress, people turn to unhealthy habits. Things such as drinking, binge-eating, smoking, and the like have been used to self-treat stress.

Obviously, there’s a problem. The problem isn’t stress, though. Stress is merely a byproduct of a lot of different things. The biggest perpetrator appears to be busyness. While laziness is indeed a sin, I would say that busyness is one as well. It hurts our health, puts a strain on our families, and, most notably, hurts our relationships with God.

On Wednesday nights, I work with the teens in the youth group at my church. The most common excuse I get for not spending time with God is busyness. They all talk about how, thanks to school and dozens of extracurricular activities, they cannot find the time to spend with God. I feel like that’s how it is with a lot of us. Imagine if we treated our significant others the way we treat God. I doubt my girlfriend would be cool with me postponing our plans because I was just too busy.

I once heard a pastor say that if you’re too busy for God, then you’re too busy. And that’s just it: we’re too busy! We like to busy ourselves, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s to escape the reality of life or a bad situation. Regardless, it’s literally killing us as a society and it hurts our individual relationships with both God and man. So… Slow. Down. Take a breath. Take a break. Remember to relax. If need be, schedule time to relax. Schedule time with God and family, too. Spend time resting, however it may be. You’ll be surprised to see how much it actually changes your life.

Written by Alfred

Image credit: clipartbest

Escaping Summer Boredom

As summer approaches, schedules and living situations will change, and many people may have a job lined up, are planning to travel the world, or will be taking extra classes. Others may plan to catch up on reading or binge watching their favorite shows on Netflix. Some may not have a single idea of what to do with their upcoming summer. Typically, when summer freedom first begins, the usual free-time activities can be quite enjoyable, but as time passes they can become dreadfully boring. Fear not! I decided to come up with a list of a few things to do to escape the summer boredom trap.

The first idea is to learn a new skill. The great thing about learning a new skill is that it can be anything! It could be a party trick or something you can put on your resume. For example, you can learn to juggle, do a backflip, change a tire, fix an engine, write really well, build a website to make money off of, or even learn the ins-and-outs of your computer! Honestly, the list is endless. So, have fun! If you don’t like anything I’ve suggested, you can always search online for goofy or serious things to learn how to do.

The second idea goes along with the first one: learn new recipes or teach yourself to cook if you don’t know how already. There are an uncountable number of recipes on the web, including ones from different cultures. I would suggest, in order to not overwhelm yourself, start with a main ingredient, such as a meat, fruit, vegetable, grain, or dairy product and look for recipes that include the item. If you decide to learn to cook but don’t know where to start, check out cooking websites, or simply search online. Even better, go out and buy a cookbook: any cookbook. Cookbooks have plethoras of recipes for you to choose from and each gives step-by-step instructions on how to make the dish.

The third idea, and my personal favorite, is to go thrift shopping. The most famous thrift shop is Goodwill, but most likely there are multiple hole-in-the-wall thrift shops in your town or city. So, give yourself a price limit, such as $15, and see what inventive outfit or crazy gizmo you can find. Or, you can even look for furniture or decorations for a do-it-yourself project.

Number four: Go camping, stargazing, or hiking. This one probably requires a little planning, especially if you decide to go camping. Grab some friends: pack a tent, clothes, and food, and head out to the country for some camping and bonding. Or, to avoid planning or taking up too much time, take a day trip. Go to local hiking trails and hike as far as you can and watch the stars. If you live in a city, sometimes your roof isn’t a very good place to stargaze because of all the lights from downtown; therefore, I suggest driving outside the city limits. For all three of these, don’t forget to bring your binoculars or even a telescope. Another suggestion is to purchase a map of the stars so you can look for specific constellations.

The fifth idea is to learn about a different culture. You can study one or multiple cultures. Search online, read books, listen to the language, or visit restaurants to try delicious cultural foods. Read about the places you want to travel, so when you do go you’re well prepared. Learning about a different culture helps you gain a new perspective on various ways of thinking and living.

Another idea I strongly suggest is do-it-yourself (DIY) projects or any type of art. Painting, drawing with pen or ink, working with clay, creating two or three-dimensional designs, and coloring books are all crazy fun ways to express yourself and let your creativity run wild. Some DIY projects include the following: turning a t-shirt into a work out tank top, transferring photos onto a slab of wood, glitterizing anything with Mod Podge and glitter, turning an old cowboy boot into a wallet, or wood burning coasters. The list of art and DIY projects is endless. Pinterest has a vast number of projects from which to choose. Pick your favorite and get started.

The seventh and final idea is to develop healthy habits and stop bad ones. Scientists say it takes 28 consecutive days of doing something to make it a habit. One habit I want to work on eliminating is Netflix binge watching. I want to replace it with reading the Bible and studying more. An important thing to recognize is what your unhealthy habits are. Make two lists. One list should be a healthy habits and the other should be unhealthy habits to replace.

This summer I will be working full time and taking classes, but I hope to complete all seven things! Good luck to you and have a wonderful and productive summer!

Written by Cheyanne

Image credit: http://quotesblog.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/end-of-summer-quotes-pinterest-3.jpg

Graduation to Now

Graduation. Everybody at university practically lives for that word. It can mean so many different things from freedom, to wealth, to personal growth. So many of our hopes and dreams get poured into such a concept; we work and toil, stressing over exams, papers, and grades. College students might as well be paying for graduation with their blood and sweat. It could be called the culmination of our dreams. It could also just be the day one shifts from training to application. Either way, graduation is a sign of change- a change where the things one has learned can be taken to the rest of the world to produce something for the rest of society. It could also be a change where the poor college student finally doesn’t have to rely upon the financial aid of others and is able to stand on his own. But most importantly, it is a day to consider the past, present, and future: what you’ve overcome, what you’re currently going through, and what follows.

This is probably why I’ve never enjoyed my graduations. From high school to community college, not much changed for me; it was just another shift to a higher form of education. I didn’t even go to the grand event. I celebrated by staying home with a bowl of ice cream. My graduation from community college with an Associate’s Degree was the same; I took a small break, and now I’m back to school at Dallas Baptist University. Despite these graduations, the shift was never quite the same scale as that from college to career.

The truth of the matter is that every college student is going through a time of monumental change. After all, it’s when they start living in a new place with new people and a new set of rules. No matter how much preparation one goes through before the change, the new culture and environment forces growth. But the big thing about this shift is that even if newly-arrived college freshmen aren’t adults yet, they’re (hopefully) heading towards adulthood. There’s room for growth; not everyone is expected to be perfect as soon as they take those first few steps into college. University includes learning how the world works, how the work life operates, how the bills come in, how the food needs to be made, how the rent needs to be paid, so that when graduation comes… you’re ready. So while I might not be close to graduation, I know I can focus on related things. I can prepare, here and now, in the present.

Graduation might be what you’re aiming for, but don’t forget about what comes after. College doesn’t have to only be about what classes you’ve completed and what grades you’ve made; it can also be about learning to live life as an adult so that when graduation comes, you’re ready. Of course, defining what it is to be an adult is a subject big enough for a separate blog post (or five), and since I haven’t actually graduated from university yet, I probably don’t have many words of wisdom about this possible future. But don’t forget, while college graduation is a huge milestone, it’s important to aim for what’s after as well. Don’t just dream about graduation itself; dream beyond it! What career would you like? What hobbies? What else do you want to do afterwards?

You might be about to graduate. You might have to work towards it a while longer like I do. Either way, it’s worthwhile to consider all the implications of graduation: what things were like before, things to learn now, and things yet to come. Who knows, maybe soon you’ll get to stand on that stage, diploma in hand, and take another step closer to your dreams. Maybe this consideration will provide some clarity needed to achieve that.

Written by Isaac

Image credit: http://m-static.flikie.com/ImageData/WallPapers/0025a090c0b246bfb53a92fb742ff43e.jpg 

To the Highly Esteemed Mother

My mom is the best, and I will brag about her as often as I’m sure she brags about her kids. (If you’re reading this, Mom, ignore that last sentence and just put in something about “I love you very much.”) I’ve never known a human being who was wiser, more sacrificial, or more loving than my mother. I’m pretty sure there isn’t one. Even with eight children to care for, Mom does her best to treat each of us as individuals in quiet ways, such as making our birthdays extra special or letting us take turns picking a special cereal for the week. She shows loving patience every day as a mother and a wife. If I can someday be half as amazing as she is, I will be happy.

Sometimes, I wonder how she does it. Where does she find the strength to move forward even when the baby has been awake for most of the night and the big kids need to do schoolwork the next day?

I don’t know where my mom gets her strength because I’ve never asked. Perhaps I should, one of these days. What I do know, however, is that when the Bible speaks of mothers, it is almost always in a positive way. The light of God shines upon the position of motherhood. I’m very aware that no mom is perfect, and some moms seem to be the complete opposite of what we would call a “good mother,” and I don’t want to overlook that in any way. However, the twisted world we live in does not change the fact that God the Father has a special job for mothers. Case in point: Lois and Eunice.

“Who in the world are you talking about?” you may find yourself asking, as well you might. Lois and Eunice are granted only one verse in 2 Timothy 1:5, which reads, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (New International Version).

I don’t know about you, but if I knew I was going to be mentioned in a single sentence in the Bible, I would want that sentence to be like this one. The one thing these women are remembered for is passing their faith through their family down to the one Paul is writing to—Timothy, the pastor who more or less took over Paul’s ministry after his death. It couldn’t have been easy; after all, being a follower of Christ in Paul’s day was very dangerous, perhaps almost as dangerous as a hallway filled with a child’s LEGOs. Despite this challenge, the faith of Lois and Eunice may have changed the entire face of Christianity, and God thought that was cool enough to be mentioned in His Word.

Not every mother’s child, of course, will go on to such a prominent position as Timothy. However, I believe one of the greatest things my mother has done is exemplify her faith in her daily life. She has always been faithful in her duties as a wife and mother, even when she doesn’t feel like it. Now that I am grown, out of the house (for the most part) and starting my own life, I can look at her and know what a godly womanhood looks like. Regardless of how she does it, it is the mother’s job to impart her faith upon her children for them to discover for themselves, thus opening the door for countless others to hear the Gospel.

So thanks, Mom, not just for making sure I survived childhood, but also for giving me something to shoot for in terms of my spiritual life. Your job is hard sometimes, and even knowing that you’re doing the right thing might sometimes not be a lot of encouragement, but I appreciate it. You’ve given up a lot for me and for all the other kids, but in so doing, you’ve showed us how to give our all for those we love. From diapers to dorm rooms, you’ve been there for me, exemplifying the love of Christ every step of the way.

From all of us at the UWC, thank you to moms everywhere. We wouldn’t be who we are today without you. We love you!

Written by Catherine

Image credit: http://image.naldzgraphics.net/2013/04/26-hug-mother-child-pohotogprahy.jpg